In the last few years, The Cliff House Hotel has really put Ardmore on the map. A small seaside village in Co Waterford, Ardmore was one of those places we visited as children during our summer holidays along the coast in Youghal. We always loved the cliff walk and I remember the old hotel that we used to pass on our way there, remarkable only for the large garden alongside.
I might have missed Donal Skehan in last year’s Eurosong Finals but I have been following and enjoying his food blog for the last couple of years. Skehan, who juggles his music career (he’s a member of pop group Industry) with food writing, has just produced his first cookbook, Good Mood Food. With a few basic rules – eat a variety of colourful fresh foods and drink plenty of water – this is good, solid, sensible eating presented in a bright, accessible format.
I’m loving the new RTÉ player. We don’t have a television at the cottage but at least I can check out the latest food series, normally at the same time as feeding Little Missy! While she chews and hums her happy way through dinners of mashed avocado and beetroot or potato and courgette, I’ve watched Corrigan’s City Farm, most of Fresh from the Sea (note to self: remember to check player before programme is deleted) and am working my way through Trish’s French Country Kitchen.
For generations, perhaps scarred by the shared memory of starvation, Irish eating habits were simply about having enough. Food was plain, but plentiful: steaming piles of potatoes, well-boiled vegetables (often home-grown) and meat from the local butcher.
I’ve only managed to go to the cinema twice since Little Missy arrived on the scene, an enormous drop off when compared with the four or five films a week I might go to see when I reviewed films for the RTÉ entertainment website. I used to go see those films during the day, and for free. That was a Very Good Thing – even if the films were bad, and some were really, truly horrendous.
Growing up in a household where Punjabi rotia and English casseroles each had their own places, Vicky Bhogal revels in placing ingredients from different cultures side by side. In the introduction to Flavour, she talks about making the most of imported as well as local foods, explaining her own democratic approach to ingredients. She revels in comforting risotto as much the tartness of tamarind, the garam masala of her Indian childhood used as much as Italian peccorino.
From Burdass-Reared Wold’s lamb to Ampleforth Abbey Apple Tart Tatin, Andrew Pern’s Black Pudding and Foie Gras is as firmly rooted in the food of Yorkshire as his Michelin-stared establishment is embedded in the village of Harome. Andrew’s Star Inn is a 14th century country pub in North Yorkshire which opened 13 years ago. He laughs as he recalls that it all started with just three people – himself in the kitchen, his wife Jacquie working front of house and her mother behind the bar. Now they run a total of seven interlinked businesses in Harome, including self catering cottages, a deli and a butcher’s shop, employing some 120 people.
Great research is the key to Mark Kurlansky’s The Food of a Younger Land. The subtitle – A Portrait of American Food–Before the National Highway System, Before Chain Restaurants, and Before Frozen Food, When the Nation’s Food Was Seasonal – explains the what of the latest book on food from the author of Salt, Cod and The Big Oyster.