Our two ‘British clas­sics’

Com­fort food is on the menu with the Hairy Bik­ers’ new cook­book, British Clas­sics. Jenny Stal­lard meets them

Bath Chronicle - - RECIPE -

In­spired by the likes of Keith Floyd and rick stein, the Hairy Bik­ers - AKA dave My­ers and si King - are now ar­guably the kings of cook­ing on the road. Well, that and kings of the cook­book: they now have more than 20 tomes un­der their belts, and The Hairy Bik­ers’ British Clas­sics is their lat­est. in fact, it’s hard to think of any­thing they’re not kings of. per­haps the big­gest of all though is work­ing friend­ship when i meet them for the launch of British Clas­sics, the pair could eas­ily be mis­taken for broth­ers. They’ve been work­ing side by side for two decades, and are so com­fort­able to­gether it’s clear these men are best mates - a friend­ship forged over ovens and hot plates, and thou­sands of miles on their trusty bikes (which are called doris and Gina Lol­lo­b­rigida, in case you’re won­der­ing). Luck­ily, si, 52, re­veals that com­ing up with new recipe ideas has “never been a desert” for the duo. in fact, whit­tling down recipes to the short­list for the book was harder work, be­cause they are al­ways think­ing of ways to im­prove or tweak tra­di­tional dishes. The book is a great mix of hearty, meaty favourites and com­fort­ing veg­gie of­fer­ings. it’ll be ac­com­pa­nied by a na­tion­wide tour in 2019, too - which will also be a good chance for the pair, who now split their time be­tween sit­ting­bourne and the Loire Val­ley (dave) and st Al­bans and Aus­tralia (si), to spend some proper time to­gether. They’re keen for peo­ple to re­alise that fast food doesn’t have to mean you don’t cook it your­self. dave, for ex­am­ple, grows basil in his gar­den in France and now has plenty of home-made pesto in the cup­board ready to make “ital­ian fast food”, pasta pesto. “i’ve used re­ally good oil. And i know now, if i just cook some pasta, with some pur­ple sprout­ing broc­coli to bulk it out, then put my pesto on... got a din­ner in three min­utes,” says the 61-year-old. dave doesn’t live far from an­other British Clas­sic - dick straw­bridge. Has he hung out with dick and wife An­gel, stars of Es­cape To The Chateau? “Yeah i have! He got in touch on­line and we (dave and his wife) were pass­ing through. We ended up stay­ing for sup­per, dick cooked salmon fish­cakes. They gave me some eggs to take home and i made an omelette. Then my wife went down and helped An­gel in one of her pro­grammes, mak­ing bunting for one of the weddings.” so how do two very busy men like dave and si keep their friend­ship happy? “it’s safe to say that we’re both fam­ily to each other,” si muses. “We’ve been through a lot since we met. Ups and downs.” As well as ca­reer high points, that’s in­cluded their share of health scares (dave needed surgery to re­move a cyst from his brain in the late nineties, while si suf­fered a po­ten­tially life-threat­en­ing brain aneurysm in 2014, and both men fa­mously shed seven stone be­tween them af­ter be­ing warned that their weight was a bit of a tick­ing time bomb). They’ve trav­elled a lot to­gether too. Once, they were away with dave’s wife on Valen­tine’s day. “it was awk­ward when it came to pay­ing. it felt only right that i should pay be­cause it was her Valen­tine’s night!” he re­calls with a laugh. And the bikes are by no means for­got­ten, as si as­sures with a grin: “it’s ab­so­lutely part of our dna. do you want to see my chop­per?” He shows me his new bike and ex­plains that the ex­haust is so loud he can, well, break wind and no­body hears. it’s a bril­liant ex­am­ple of how down-toearth these guys are. They’re British Clas­sics them­selves, re­ally - an ob­ser­va­tion that makes dave laugh (“That’s flat­ter­ing!”). While they agree that a per­son can’t call them­selves a na­tional trea­sure, they ap­pre­ci­ate that they’ve been part of peo­ple’s lives for a long time now. it’s amaz­ing, says dave, when stu­dents come to book sign­ings and “they’ve grown up with us. We’ve been around a while now”. “What we can say is we are in­cred­i­bly priv­i­leged,” adds si. “What bet­ter way to do this than with your best mate?”

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