When she opened the world’s first certified-organic pub in Islington in 1998, Geetie Singh-Watson was at the forefront of the ethical business curve. This September she’ll bring her flavour of pub hospitality to Totnes with the relaunch of The Bull Inn.
Kathryn Lewis got the low-down on Geetie’s guilty pleasures and her passion for good tea and toast
Which foods take you back to childhood?
Fresh vegetables. I grew up on a commune in Herefordshire where we had a massive veg plot and one of my favourite things to do was to nibble on raw veggies – I was known as the rabbit. I didn’t like sweeter things such as tomatoes, preferring the bitter flavours of brassicas and salad leaves.
What does home taste like?
Tea, coffee and hot buttered toast. Those are the things that punctuate my day and I crave when I’m away from home.
My morning usually begins with a really good cup of Ceylon tea which my husband Guy [Singh-Watson, founder of Riverford] brings me in bed, then I’ll have some toast and a mid-morning cup of quality coffee. I end the day with a chamomile tea.
What was the last thing you ate?
Toast and marmalade: a nice bit of brown bread from The Almond Thief in Dartington and Guy’s homemade marmalade. The next thing I’ll eat will be a great big salad for lunch with some leftovers, quality olive oil and cider vinegar.
What would you never eat again?
I would never touch Coca Cola or any highly processed foods, I think they’re disgusting. Mostly, I won’t eat anything made by big corporations (which I believe are destroying the planet and society) – I’d rather go hungry.
What’s your bad day comfort food fix?
I’m not sure I really have a comfort food. I’d probably choose something like a cheese and marmite toastie, seared in a pan so it’s super crunchy. Again, it would have to come with a large salad on the side with bitter leaves and a walnut oil dressing. If we’re talking comfort, I’d probably have a large glass of wine too.
What’s in your fridge?
Nearly entirely fresh ingredients, bar a couple of jars of pickle. Lots of vegetables, salads and yogurt – almost everything will be organic.
Which restaurants make you happy?
40 Maltby Street in London – the food is stunning from beginning to end. It’s casual and I like being in a restaurant where the waiters aren’t deciding the speed of your meal.
In Devon, I love The Green Table at Dartington Hall and The Almond Thief for lunch. For dinner, The Curator Kitchen in Totnes does amazing authentic Italian food.
What do you eat when no one is looking?
Marmite and Tabasco sauce are my non-organic guilty secrets. I also have hidden stashes of good-quality dark chocolate around the house – I keep it tucked away from my husband and daughter so they don’t eat it.
Self control or self indulgence?
Both, definitely both. I think they complement each other. If you can exercise self control then self indulgence can be a wonderful thing – but you can’t do both all the time.