Thursday was a searingly hot day in Dublin and, even come evening time, there was little respite from the heat in the city center. Sun-warmed crowds pooled outside bars and restaurants, Mediterranean-style. It was not an evening to be indoors so, when the Boyfriend and I arrived for a 7.30pm booking at Grafton Street fish restaurant Mackerel and I spied seats outside on the narrow balcony, we grabbed them as soon as we could hot-foot across the room.
It’s the colour that catches your eye first. The bold pink and red cover of Tessa Kiros’ Apples for Jam is immediately distinctive, particularly with that eye-catching photo of a pair of red, well-worn children’s shoes. And colour is hugely important in this book as Tessa and her colour-coded recipes explore the spectrum of childhood through chapters labelled gold and monochrome, pink, yellow and red.
Ingredient experiments – Pomegranate molasses: Bulgur and Cauliflower Salad with Pomegranate Molasses Dressing
When out shopping – especially in ethnic food shops – I’m a demon for picking up new and unusual ingredients that I’ve no idea how to use. I just see something in Dublin’s Asian Market, say, or – very especially – Middle Eastern shop Spiceland that looks interesting and, before I know it, it’s in my basket and I’m thinking: “didn’t I see a recipe for that somewhere recently?” Hence my food cupboards are filled with lots of things that keep getting pushed to the back and never used.
None of the much loved Enid Blyton‘s Famous Five books that I read as a child were complete without a picnic – ham rolls, hard boiled eggs, slabs of fruit cake, tinned pears and, of course, lashings and lashings of ginger beer. The only kind of ginger drink that I came across in Ireland was ginger ale, ginger beer’s much sweeter and less spicy sibling. I wasn’t too impressed.
I have to agree with Ice Cream Ireland‘s comment on the incongruous presence of Starbucks at last weekend’s Taste of Dublin. It’s difficult to see what they have to do with food at all and in Dublin in particular. RTÉ 2FM DJ Rick O’Shea also writes of his experiences at A Taste Of Dublin (Or Two, Or Three…. Maybe Dessert Too…) and there’s debate over at the forum on Ernie Whalley’s forkncork.com. While you’re there, it’s worth taking a look at the conflicting opinions on Fallon & Byrne.
This is the perfect book for any foodie who’s ever spent hours puzzling over unfamiliar ingredients in their local delicatessen or ethnic food shop. Glynn Christian, originally from New Zealand, has been a food writer and broadcaster in England for many years, and as a result, has a rare international perspective. His breadth of experience also includes setting up the legendary Mr Christian’s Delicatessen in London’s Notting Hill in the 1970s.
Friday afternoon was a good time to be at the inaugural Taste of Dublin event as blazing sunshine encouraged a cheerful and good humoured crowd to linger, sample and wander around a Dublin Castle courtyard crowded with stands and stalls. My €35 ticket (I managed to keep the dreaded Ticketmaster booking fees to €2 by buying from the Ticketmaster outlet in Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre) entitled me to €20-worth of florins, the festival currency, but the sky was the limit as soon as you set foot inside the event areas. With sample signature dishes priced from €5 to €8, that €20 didn’t last long and I’ve even read of people spending another €70 on top of that. I was well behaved though – after spending my first €20, I just bought €5 extra – and, although portions were less than generous, I would have been hard pressed to find something I really wanted to spend more on.