Last Friday, over a glass of wine and some nibbles at a city centre tapas bar, the Boyfriend – after WEEKS of mystery – handed me my passport and…a guidebook for Paris! He had told me that we were going away for the weekend, we would be spending time in a city and that I had to pack for cold weather. Despite lots of guessing – I thought Galway, or maybe Belfast – I hadn’t even come close to figuring out where we were going.
Irish Food: Slow & Traditional by John and Sally McKenna & Irish Food: Fast & Modern by Paul Flynn and Sally McKenna ***
Although these wee cookbooks are small – just 64 pages – they are beautifully formed. The Irish Food books are from the same stable that produces the Bridgestone Top 100 guides to restaurants and places to stay, as well as the Irish Food Guide – Sally and John McKenna’s Estragon Press – they are well worth investing in, and at €3 apiece, they won’t break the bank.
Saturday night dinner for friends staying over meant a late night, a not-so-hurried rise on Sunday morning and a similarly delayed breakfast. We badly needed to blow the cobwebs away so we drove down to Brittas Bay for a long walk in the surprisingly warm sunshine (and a brief snooze on the beach!). When we arrived back in the car about 3pm, lunchless, the Boyfriend and I were hungry as hunters. Driving back to Dublin we took the opportunity to turn off the N11 into the branch of Avoca Handweavers in Kilmacanogue. Although initially rather daunted by the long line of lunch-ing and afternoon tea-ing visitors, we were distracted by a blackboard full of intriguing choices. By the time we had decided on dishes, we were almost at the top of the queue and gazing at the generously stocked salad display. More decisions had to be made.
After mourning the lack of good pumpkin in Ireland, I’ve discovered an alternative option – squash! Now, there’s a terminology question here. What is the difference between squash and pumpkins? I think it was Stephanie Alexander’s Cook’s Companion that made the point that all squash in Australia (and New Zealand) are called pumpkins. My own understanding of the difference between the two is that a pumpkin is a rounded vegetable, like that used by Cinderella to get to the prince’s ball, while a squash can often be a different shape. That’s no hard and fast rule, however!
Nationwide is a thrice-weekly Irish television show which consists of a collection of pieces on life in the country. Covering art, music, photography and – to my delight – food, it’s the kind of programme much loved by grannys and parents who believe that RTÉ is altogether too Dublin-centric. Although I don’t have a television, I keep an eye on the foodie side of things through the Nationwide website as they’ve been particularly good at highlighting artisan producers. I’ve mentioned it before in relation to the Fergusons of Gubbeen and last Friday’s show also had a couple of pieces worth checking out.
In the wake of leaving New Zealand and my living-out-of-a-bag-ness in Ireland during November and December, it’s only now that I’ve gotten round to checking out Chris Bell’s Five minutes with Peter Gordon at NZBC. That’s the New Zealand Blogging Corporation, rather than the New Zealand Black Caps, the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation or even the New Zealand Building Code. After I blogged about Peter Gordon’s sublime Tomato and Chilli Jam, Chris contacted to tell me with this link to his Gordon interview.
While looking at the RTÉ website the other day I came across a piece on the Nationwide programme about the Ferguson family of Gubbeen, outside Schull in West Cork. Tom and Giana Ferguson have worked Gubbeen Farm for more than thirty years, starting to produce their delicious prize-winning Gubbeen Cheese in 1978.