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Flavour Profile Q&A: Archie McDiarmid manager of Luvians, St Andrews

This bottle shop manager shares his food loves and hates

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What’s your favourite ingredient?

My great grandmother (Nana) ran the last bakery in Glasgow city centre that kept its own animals on site – as a girl she used to go down the close and milk the cows on the green out the back. Since baking is in the blood, I’d have to say flour. You can tell the whole history of human civilisation with flour.

Do you have a guilty food pleasure?

Isn’t the old joke that if you are raised Roman Catholic, all pleasures are guilty? Seriously though, I adore authentic Chinese cuisine – Shandong, Sichuan, Jiangsu, Cantonese – though a dark part of my soul loves fried rice with curry sauce and prawn crackers.

Tell us about your first food memory?

I was a monumentally fussy eater when I was a wee boy, then we went on holiday to France with my aunt and uncle and was fascinated by the mussels in a moules mariniere – one taste and I was hooked. Throw in the fact that I had my first sip of wine during that meal and that trip is basically responsible for my whole career.

What’s your favourite Scottish restaurant, deli or cafe?

Cail Bruich and its sister wine bar, Brett, in Glasgow – amazing and inventive food, polished and friendly service and smartly selected, delicious drinks lists. I should also shout out the food at Lagg Distillery on Arran – the best meal I’ve ever had at a distillery, really redefining what a distillery tour can be, despite the fact they don’t even have whisky to sell yet.

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What would be your last supper?

I would want comfort food tied to my fondest memories – my Dad’s vegetable soup, my wife’s laab (Thai pork salad) and my own tiramisu. I would also go for my Nana’s clootie dumpling, but she is no longer with us and I’ve never been able to nail the recipe.

Starter or pudding?

As I get older, I’m losing my sweet tooth, so probably a starter.

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Do you have any food hates?

It pains me to say it because I used to love them, but oysters. I got very sick on one about 10 years ago and ever since I can’t look at one without going green about the gills.

What starters, main and dessert would be served at your dream dinner party and who would you invite?

I’m presuming someone more talented than me is in the kitchen so I’m going for things I never have the time or skill to make - world class xiaolongbao (soup dumplings), super slow cooked Scottish beef that just falls apart in mouth and lavender crème brulee. My wife, Christina, would be there and we’d invite wine writer Jancis Robinson, comedian Ali Wong, writer Ian Rankin and director Jordan Peele so I could spend the entire evening fanboying.

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What's your favourite geographical foodie destination?

Hong Kong was amazing, I would love to go back with more time on my hands. I spent 12 hours eating dumplings then left. Milan’s deli district is probably the greatest celebration of food and wine I’ve ever seen, anchored by what, for my money, is the most magical shop in the world, Peck.

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Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
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