Food & drink

Weekend Q&A: Paula McIntyre on making pasta, catching up with friends and family and the importance of a decent wine list

Paula McIntyre is the in-house BBC Radio Ulster cook and creator of The Hamely Kitchen cookery series, returning soon to our television screens.

Jane Hardy

How do you unwind at the weekend?

Weekends off are quite rare so I make the most of a free one. After doing a cooking slot on The John Toal Show on BBC Radio Ulster, I'll either go to lunch at my parents' house in Aghadowey or chill at home. Saturday nights will either be dinner out or I'll entertain at home. I love making pasta and one of my favourite ways to unwind is pouring a glass of wine, making tortellini and listening to some music. On Sunday mornings I try and swim with some old school friends at Benone beach. We'll have coffee afterwards and there's always a lot of laughter. The ideal Sunday evening would be spent listening to some live music with a glass of nice wine and really good cheese to hand.

What do you recall most about weekends growing up?

When I was very young I loved the freedom of living in the countryside and the ability to wander and explore. A favourite treat was the occasional Saturday night visit to the local chip shop. Sundays revolved around attending church and visiting my grandparents in Cookstown.

Is there a must-listen weekend radio programme or podcast?

I never miss The Food Programme on BBC Radio 4 with Sheila Dillon and The Kitchen Cabinet hosted by Jay Rayner. Both entertaining, insightful and a must-listen. I like cookery programmes that aren't too competitive, so maybe not Masterchef and Bake Off, although it just so happens I got a job with Prue Leith when I worked in London but eventually did something else and returned home.

Is there a must-watch TV programme or Netflix?

I don't tend to watch TV at the weekend - if I'm not working I'd rather catch up with friends and family than sit in front of the box. The last box set I watched was This Is Us, made by the producer of Thirtysomething which I loved in the 1980s. Funnily enough, I didn't think I'd end up doing television as I wasn't the obvious profile in terms of figure and age, but it's happened and I love it.

Is Sunday still special?

The best Sunday for me is being able to go out for long relaxing lunch with someone else doing the cooking - either a restaurant or in someone's house.

Do you have a favourite eatery or is it a takeaway?

I wouldn't rule out takeaway but nothing beats sitting in a restaurant and being served. There are so many great restaurants in Northern Ireland and I wouldn't want to choose a particular one. Anywhere where local and seasonal food comes together is always good and I really cherish good service. A decent wine list always helps. I really like it when they offer you a list that's a little off piste with wines from less known growing regions such as Croatia.

How do you feel on Sunday evening about Monday morning?

No different to any other day. I'm blessed that every week brings new opportunities and challenges.

Paula McIntyre's Hamely Kitchen begins early in September on BBC NI.

Food & drink