Category: Do

1

Boiled, Baked & Basted – encore

The Irish Farmer's Market Cookboook by Clodagh McKenna - one of the books recommended on the B,B&B Christmas special Boiled, Baked & Basted, the brilliant RTÉ Radio 1 programme that I mentioned in October, featuringchefs and cooks talking about their favourite cookbooks, sadly came to an end on 30 December. A simple but effective format – just the voice of the interviewee, interspersed by actors reading from cookbooks that they mentioned – made this essential listening for the cosy Saturday nights that we spent in the cottage. You can listen back to the whole 13-programme series on the all-new redesigned RTÉ.ie website here.

7

Wine tasting in Dublin

Fossil Ridge Pinot Noir - one of the wines I enjoyed in New Zealand I’d be the first to admit that, despite my frequent use and consumption of the fruit of the vine, I don’t know much about wine. This is something that I’ve been meaning to remedy by doing a wine-tasting course but life, somehow, always manages to get in the way. Perhaps a resolution for 2007? I’ve already missed the first night of the La Cave Wine Tasting Programme but, should I be organised enough, there’s plenty more to savour in the coming weeks – must see if I can get there for the evening that features New Zealand Pinot Noir! These events take place in the small French wine bar on South Anne Street from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. Each tasting costs €30, which includes all wines and a light meal of cheese, salami and pâté.

5

Cafés in New Zealand

Reid's Store, sunshine and all New Zealand cafés still continue to surprise and delight me. A moist Spinach Risotto Cake at Reid’s Store during a break while driving to Nelson the morning after we arrived, eaten in bright sunshine outside on the decking was my re-introduction to café cooking, NZ style on this trip. There were other days of happy eating. Marinated Lamb on a Puy Lentil Salad with lemon yoghurt dressing at Nelson’s Morrison Street Café, with a glass of local sauvignon blanc; a sticky, dried fruit-packed, gluten free Ginger Slice with a long black, milk on the side (my coffee order of choice in NZ) in Muses Café, Motueka, en route to the Boyfriend’s family bach in Ngaio Bay; a last Christchurch breakfast of a fresh-baked savoury Spinach and Cream Cheese Muffin followed by an enormous date-studded sweet scone outside Veronica’s Café on New Regent Street, soaking up the last rays of sun as we watched the tourist trams going past.

0

Cold as…

Woollaston Estates winery building, the wedding reception venue Two weeks in New Zealand and I didn’t want to leave. Being on holidays and it being summer, rather than grey and gloomy Irish winter, certainly made things harder, especially as we had such a good time catching up with family and friends on that side of the world. We thoroughly enjoyed the main reason for our trip – the Boyfriend’s sister’s wedding last Saturday – especially as the reception was held in a recently opened vineyard in Moutere, Woollaston Estates, and I had more than a few chances to sample their 2006 Nelson Sauvignon Blanc!

9

Exchanging winter for summer

We left a damp, wintery Ireland last Friday morning and touched down to blue skies and sunshine in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Wednesday after a three-day stopover in Kuching with my Malaysian family. Sure beats sitting around in Ireland with the post-Christmas blues! While in Kuching we got a chance to feast on our favourite teh tarik, or pulled tea, and roti canai, layered Indian breads that are served with a runny dahl. The next day, the reheated roti are especially delicious when they reappear with kaya, an unctuous coconut spread, not unlike lemon curd. Daily feasts of tropical fruit at my aunt’s house included papaya, the hairy-skinned rambutan, several types of banana, mangosteen, sweet ripe pineapple and rich, juicy-to-your-elbows windfall mangos from the neighbour’s tree. This time round we avoided the durian, however!

4

Food in films: Stranger than Fiction

Maggie Gyllenhaal in Stranger than Fiction - café not included Number three in an occasional series…Any foodie can’t help but be seduced by Ana Pascal’s (Maggie Gyllenhaal, never looking sexier than here, kneading dough in dungarees) passion for cooking in Marc Foster’s Stranger than Fiction. You can find a good review here on Confessions of a Film Critic. An anarchist baker, Ana runs a little café in New York, counters laden with tempting-looking cookies and cakes – just like the kind of café that you’d like to have in your own neighbourhood. Not amused by having to be audited by IRS agent Harold Crick (Will Ferrell, playing it straight for once), she nevertheless bakes him fresh chocolate chip cookies, serving them up with a glass of milk and a helping of light-up-the-screen charisma. She also has an amazing speech which, of course, I can’t fully remember or find online anywhere, about how she realised in law school that she was meant to be a baker, giving a litany of American cookies, traybakes and brownies that will have you salivating at the cinema. And how does the IRS agent win her heart? With a box of flours – rye, wholegrain – all in littlebrown paper bags with colour-coded stickers. Anyone stuck for an idea for your favourite foodie this Christmas?

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Food at the Craft Fair

Super Spelt - still my favourite! If anyone’s around Dublin for the weekend and at a loose end – although that might be unlikely given the time of the year! – the National Crafts and Design Fair is on at the RDS in Dublin this weekend. The Dublin-based Cousin and I went along last night and discovered plenty of ways of spending our money on arty, crafty bits for Christmas, plus a whole room devoted to a variety of food products, whether you’re looking for regato style goat’s cheese from Cloon Goat Farm or tubs of soft Springwell Sheep’s Cheese, to stock up for Christmas on Filligans’ chutneys, mustards and jams (make sure you check out the Irish Peach & Cardamon Chutney), mini caramel waffles from Wicklow Fine Foods and Boozeberries festive-coloured liqueur.