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Best of times, worst of times: Katia Ilina

Categories: Behind the stalls

The likes and dislikes of Katia from Le Marché du Quartier

Fantasy job
I would love to be a wine buyer. It combines meeting people, travelling, and of course getting to try lots of interesting wines from unusual places, as well as the classics. And, of course, you get to drink wine and get paid for it.

Best recent film
It is a film made and set in South Korea called Memory of Murder. It is about a serial killer and his crimes. It is set in a small town where the two local detectives are struggling to make headway, and a detective who comes over from Seoul to work on the case. It sounds a bit grim but is a very interesting study of the character of people under stress, in a culture very different from our own.

Dream holiday destination
I have never been, but I have always been excited by New Zealand. I think it would be a great combination of beautiful landscapes and wonderful people. I have heard so many brilliant things about the place. It seems like somewhere you can go and just enjoy the moment.

Favourite childhood dish
As a child I used to live next to a small bakery and they made bread every morning. My ultimate dish then was slices of warm brioche with butter. It seemed so luxurious.

Signature dish
I love the things that are simple to cook but have lots of flavour. I actually really like making salads. It seems easy, but it is very difficult to combine and balance a variety of flavours to create something interesting. Some of the things in the last salad I made were feta cheese and a variety of different colours of fresh leaves. The ingredients are key.

Worst kitchen disaster
I was trying to make some French crepes. I had made enough of the mixture to make around 20, but I couldn’t get it right. They kept coming out broken, burnt, split. They kept sticking to the pan. I ended up with one that was edible. I still don’t know what I was doing wrong.

Best recent meal
I went to a party where some friends were cooking a Mexican Independence Day dinner. There were a couple of things that were just amazing. One was mole sauce. I had never had that before and the taste just blew me away. I asked my friends how they made it and was disappointed to find out how complex it is—there are like 30 ingredients. Another friend made slow roasted pork marinated in lemon juice and roasted for about 10 hours. That was also amazing.

Worst recent meal
That was what the restaurant called an ‘Italian-style’ salad in a pizza place. What they brought to the table was appalling. It was just leaves, with barely any dressing. The other ingredients—radicchio, tomatoes, onion, cheese—were barely there. It was basically a chopped up iceberg lettuce. I said, you are charging for this, it has to be better. It is the only time I have refused to pay for something in a restaurant.

Best recent night out
I went with some friends to a restaurant recently in Dalston that transforms into a nightclub at the end of the night. The chef becomes the DJ, the kitchen pass becomes the bar. The chef DJs in his chef whites and sometimes used the pots and pans as instruments. We had a brilliant night.

Worst recent night out
To be honest I don’t really have those because if I don’t like something or somewhere I am very happy to leave early and do something more interesting. I don’t see the point in staying.

Worst school subject
That was physical education because it was way too difficult and intense. They treated it like any other subject, where you had to improve at a set pace. If you did not they had no patience and you spent the whole time feeling like you were dying. It was horrible.

Favourite drink
Because I like wine that is difficult, but I really like a sparkling shiraz from south Australia. It is red, fruity and has real body. It is a lovely wine.

Worst drink
Vegetable smoothies. Especially things with avocado and kale. If you want an avocado eat an avocado, and I don’t want to drink kale. It is just the worst way to have vegetables.

Current favourite band
Crystal Stilts. They are a kind of post punk band. They play with a lot of energy and have a very loud and distorted grunge sound. It suits my mood right now. It will be something else in six months.

Favourite thing about London
The variety of cultures and people you have here. It means you can find anything in this city.

Worst thing about London
Too many people—they are everywhere. Where I grew up there was space but in London it is very difficult to find somewhere to unplug. There is always a distraction.

Favourite book
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. I have read it about 10 times and each time I discover something else. It changes as you go through life and your perspectives change. It is an anarchic book and one I really recommend.

Biggest bugbear
So many people are always on the phone and not paying attention to what is going on around them. It’s like technology has become a persona of its own. I deal with customers who think it is ok to keep you waiting while they finish reading a webpage or looking at an Instagram post.

Hangover cure
I haven’t found one yet.