With the dawn of a new decade, a new you with new goals comes to the forefront. Food is definitely on this gravy train of changes for many. The choices are endless; carbs or no carbs, meat or meatless. For some, the changes become so drastic that they place great stress on our physical, and most importantly, mental well-being.

Food should be a happy place – a moment in time that gives pleasure long after the last mouthful is digested. To go forward, it’s sometimes necessary to go back and reminisce. I have soul-searched these moments to discover that the pinnacle of happiness in my past gastronomic conquests were the simplest ones, when food is stripped of guilt, complex scientific cooking and layers of pretension.

A freshly picked fig from my grandfather’s garden, dipping bread into my mother’s sweet sugo, and eating fried zucchini flowers from my grandmother’s Italian garden. What defines those moments were twofold: who I was with, and simple flavours. We are what we eat, but we are also who we eat with, and we are where we eat.

The memory of a supermarket

sandwich or a fast food burger will last as long as it takes to eat it. Food simply becomes fuel, devoid of pleasure – a soulless dining experience.

Make flavour and simplicity your top food priorities whenever you can. The humble tomato from a local allotment with the tiniest drizzle of olive oil, perhaps purchased on a holiday, will take your pleasure endorphins to a new high.

Think about the ingredients. If you can put a name to who grew them, all the better. Keep it simple. Maximum pleasure is the sum of minimum effort and maximum flavour. Look inwards and discover the soul food nourishing moments – your granny’s soup, your mammy’s stew – whatever they are, when food was a happy memory.

Perhaps in the New Year, rediscover and resurrect the happy food memories. Eat better, eat less, with food you love and people you love. Life is too precious, so make the mouthfuls matter.

Burrata is unique. It is never a side, nor a main or starter. It is truly worthy of its own plate. Served on toasted sourdough with a drizzle of oil and a few shavings of truffle, it is complete decadence. There is nowhere to hide with a few simple ingredients – a pure olive oil, decent locally bought baked bread, fresh cheese and truffle.

Truffle is expensive. However it’s an example of a product that has maximum flavour with minimum effort. Keep it in a jar of rice or eggs and its flavour will permeate. Grate onto scrambled eggs or pasta, or infuse the ends in oil or honey. If you don’t have fresh truffles, you can use a high-quality truffle oil for this dish instead.

This dish sings the simplicity of Italian cooking. No prettiness is required – it’s all about the flavour.

Serves 2


1 burrata

2 slices of sourdough

20ml of the best olive oil you have

1 small truffle

Salt and pepper, to season


1. Toast the sourdough

2. Top with half the burrata, tearing it with your hand.

3. Add a few shavings of truffle and drizzle with olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.