Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Google Plus Connect on Flickr

Food

Seoul Food and confidence building measures

Wednesday, 19 September, 2018

FOOD: South Korea is famous for affordable and delicious street food that’s sold at markets and train stations and from ‘pojangmacha’ (carts) in most urban areas. Dishes cost from 2,000 to 5,000 Won (€1.50 to €3.50) and one of the most popular items is Korean Egg Toast, which comes with lots of “trimmings”, as Mrs Fitz used to say.

POLITICS: The excellent 38 North, which is a must-read on all things concerning North Korea, has this to say about the meeting in Pyongyang between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in:

“The two countries should also eventually set their sights higher to make the peninsula, in their words, a ‘land of peace.’ Given the great wall of mistrust that Moon and Kim are attempting to tear down and the still fragile North-South relationship, the two leaders are right to adopt an incremental, step-by-step approach to CBMs [confidence building measures] and not burden their dialogue with unrealistic ambitions. But as the mutual mistrust melts and both countries create a successful track record on implementation, they should consider a more robust CBM agenda consisting of: 1) more aggressive measures to eliminate the NLL [Northern Limit Line] as a flashpoint for North-South conflict; 2) greater transparency and information sharing on military plans, programs, and operations; and 3) constraints on military movements and activities to reduce the risk of a North Korean surprise attack.”


Things that kept the darkness at bay

Tuesday, 4 September, 2018

“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” — J.R.R. Tolkien

The small acts of kindness and love here involved baking. Flour, milk, eggs, sugar, salt, butter and raisins were converted into energy in acts of “improvised tradition”. A pinch of this and a fistful of that altered the balance each time my mother made the scones. Each batch was different. Creativity was at work.

Scones of love


Catch of the day

Friday, 1 June, 2018

It is said that some people in Limerick deliberately self-harm just so they can visit Ford’s fish & chip shop after being discharged from the nearby St. John’s Hospital. Located on John’s Street in one of the city’s more rugged quarters, Ford’s offers solid comfort at reasonable prices. For example, a whiting filet costs just €2.80. The fish is covered in a batter that was traditionally made from beef dripping and then deep fried, although oil is used today. For those in need of food, fast, Ford’s offers substantial filling, affordably, and St. John’s Hospital is at hand when it comes to healing the customers.

Ford's


Scouse vegan carrot and apple cake

Wednesday, 30 May, 2018

Created especially for us by Helena McGivern, who bakes for the very lucky customers at Greeendays Café in Merseyside. Poor old Jürgen Klopp and his grieving Reds have cack-handed Loris Karius on their plate but we’ve got Liverpool’s best vegan cake sliced.

Helen's cake


Effin (good) cheese

Thursday, 24 May, 2018

Effin is a townland in County Limerick named after Saint Eimhin, a sixth-century cleric. Effin borders on the townlands of Garrynancoonagh North to the south, Garrynderk North to the west, Ballyshonikin to the east, Gortnacrank to the east and Tobernea West to the east.

In 2011, the people of Effin were told by Facebook that they could not register their townland as “Effin” because this word was deemed to be “offensive”. The conflict led The Guardian to headline the story as “Effin woman launches online fight for Facebook recognition.” In the end, Anne Marie Kennedy won.

Effin Irish Cheddar, by the way, is a creamy pleasure made from Golden Vale milk.

Effin cheddar


Champion of breakfasts

Sunday, 22 April, 2018 0 Comments

Ingredients:

  • Half a cup of oatmeal
  • Tablespoon of chia seeds
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Handful of pomegranate seeds
  • Half a cup of almond milk

Method: Mix and store in fridge overnight. Eat early morning. Greet the day.

Breakfast


Last Suppers

Thursday, 29 March, 2018 0 Comments

Today, Holy Thursday, commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. That simple meal of bread and wine was to be the last time he dined with his disciples.

The English journalist A. A. Gill set out to write about “Last Suppers” in September 2009, but he abandoned the project on the grounds that it was one of those things like “Make a list of the 10 sexiest women ever.” He said: “You have all the anxiety of choice but none of the pleasure of execution.” So, in the middle of the project he switched from last suppers to the challenge of picking the food he would choose for the rest of his life, if he had to live with other people’s national cuisine. Gill couldn’t settle on one, so he picked four regional cuisines:

South-west France: “Foie gras and cassoulet, all sorts of duck, figs and Roquefort… This is the food of old Gascony, of Cyrano de Bergerac: a cuisine for the last leg of life, of post-prandial naps, of meals that soak into each other, of a languid, replete and easy life. I could live with that.”

Northern Italy: “Piedmont and the Po Valley, where they grow rice, make risottos, collect truffles, cook with butters, lard and the light olive oil of Genoa and have the youngest veal. I’d have to stretch it a bit to Parma, to take in hams, cheese and ice-cream, but that would do me.”

The North-West Frontier: “The mountainous, tribal lands of Northern Pakistan and Afghanistan: the very best lamb curries, biryanis, pilaus, apricots and quail, Peshawari naan, yoghurt and pomegranate juice eaten with gusto and arguments.”

Vietnam: “I love the food of Vietnam. It is an ideal combination of delicacy and panache. It has enormous variety of flavours and textures without being irredeemably twee. It’s refined but it’s also assertive. It has tiny little finger food and dog.”

In the end, Gill came to the following conclusion: “If you’re going to have a perfect food retirement, it would be Vietnam for breakfast, northern Italy for lunch and then alternately south-west France and the North-West Frontier for dinner.”

Background: A. A. Gill died of cancer in London in December 2016, at the age of 62. Adrian Anthony Gill was also an alcoholic who stopped drinking at 29 and he followed the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) “12-step plan” to recovery. In tribute to the fellowship, he began using the name ‘A. A.’ Gill professionally. His finest writing is collected in The Best of A. A. Gill and it covers his observations on food, television, life and travel.

The Last Supper


Dessert at Dooks

Sunday, 25 February, 2018 0 Comments

The town of Fethard in County Tipperary was heavily fortified in medieval times and some of the ancient walls and gates have survived sieges and the passage of time. This is horsey country and everyone is getting ready for the Cheltenham Festival, which runs from 13 to 16 March, right in time for St. Patrick’s Day. All that grooming and training is hard work and Dooks supplies quality fuel for those who need excellent nourishment. The Orange and Almond Cake with chocolate ganache is a delightful Dooksian treat.

Orange and Almond Cake


A. A. Gill and the je ne sais quoi in France

Sunday, 4 February, 2018 0 Comments

Background: A. A. Gill was an English journalist who died of cancer in London in December 2016, at the age of 62. Adrian Anthony Gill was also an alcoholic who stopped drinking at 29 and followed the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) “12-step plan” to recovery. In tribute to the fellowship, he began using the name ‘A. A.’ Gill professionally. His finest writing is collected in The Best of A. A. Gill and it covers his observations on food, television and travel. In “Markets,” published in July 2007, he pontificated on the phrase the French have created to “encompass it all”: je ne sais quoi. Snippet:

“My weakness, my pleasure, is markets… The Mercato in Addis Ababa, biggest market in Africa: dangersous red-eyed tribesmen, maddened and delusional on khat, unloading bushels of the stuff flown in daily from the ancient cities on the Somali border. The stalls selling coffee and the winding lanes of incense dealers, the gifts of the Magi, smelling of martyrdom and plainsong.

Tsukiji, the Tokyo fish market: miles of frozen tuna, lying like a thousand unexploded bombs steaming in the dawn as the auctioneers paint red characters on them, buyers cutting tiny nuggets of flesh from their tails to knead for water content.

Crawford Market in Bombay, the book market in Calcutta, the bird market in Denpasar, the karaoke market in Tashkent…”

However, when it comes to the market’s market, the perfect market, Gills puts his money on “the weekly markets of southern France.” And what makes them so superior? It’s the je ne sais quoi:

Je ne sais quoi is France’s abiding gift to the world. More je ne sais quoi for your euro is to be found in a French market than anywhere else. We wander down the aisles of trestles and stalls aghast at the marvellous repose of produce. There are peaches warm from the tree, ripe and golden. Figs, green and black, bursting with sweet, ancient, darkly lascivious simile. The smell of fresh lemon, the bunches of thyme and lavender and verbena, the selections of oil and olives, pale green and pungent, and the they honey, from orange blossom, from heath and orchard, and the beeswax. The charcuterie, the dozens of ancient and dextrous things to do with a dead pig, in all the hues of pink, and pale, fatty cream.”

Never was A.A. Gill happier than when in France, the land of Armagnac, Calvados and a thousand cheeses, wandering its markets, savouring the je ne sais quoi.

Apples


When A. A. Gill ate mutton in Scotland

Sunday, 28 January, 2018 0 Comments

It was October 2015 and it led to this memorable sentence: “Scotland remains the worst country in Europe to eat in if you’re paying — and one of the finest if you’re a guest.”

Background: A. A. Gill was an English journalist who died of cancer in London in December 2016, at the age of 62. Adrian Anthony Gill was also an alcoholic who stopped drinking at 29 and he followed the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) “12-step plan” to recovery. In tribute to the fellowship, he began using the name ‘A. A.’ Gill professionally. His finest writing is collected in The Best of A. A. Gill and it covers his observations on food, television, life and travel. In Scotland, he met Peggy McKenzie, “a retired gamekeeper’s wife who was one of the most naturally in-tune, modestly perfect cooks.” Both discovered a mutual passion for… mutton.

“I, like you, had forgotten mutton. With a great marketing and agri con, it was replaced by lamb. If you look at 19th-century cookbooks, you’ll see very few recipes for lamb and hundreds for mutton. Wool is what made England its first fortune. Fluffy gold, sold to the merchants of Ghent. Sheep weren’t slaughtered until they were four or five years old. The most valued were gelded rams. But today, wool has no value, and farmers want an immediate return on their animals, so the sooner they can slit their throats, the better. And the more they add value to young, tender meat, the better. Except it isn’t better. Lamb is a bland, short, monoglot mouthful compared with mutton’s eloquent, rich euphemistic flavour. We’ve been cheated by agri-expediency to eat an inferior, flannelly, infantilised alternative. In fact, we’re led to believe that younger is better for all meat, when the opposite is the truth. Flavour, richness, intensity and complexity come with age. Mutton is the true, base taste of our national cuisine, and it’s gone.”

This is excellent journalistic writing. Staccato sentences that hit the reader between the eyes: “Wool is what made England its first fortune. Fluffy gold, sold to the merchants of Ghent.” Factual and musical is his description of worthy wool as “Fluffy gold”.

Mutton and child


Unboxing the cake that Millie baked

Sunday, 7 January, 2018 0 Comments

It’s the time of year when we unbox the annual cake from our dear friend, great neighbour and queen baker, Millie Hanley. It’s a traditional fruit cake and it goes nicely with a glass of sherry but it goes best with a strong cup of tea.

Millie's cake wrapped

Millie's cake slivered

Millie's cake papered

Millie's cake unboxed