December Sunshine in West Cork

img_2108What an end to the year! This day was slipped in as an extra as if we are not really coming up to the shortest day of the year.

Fuschsia still bloomingimg_2102sunrise dramatic and temperatures abnormally high.

It is so sad to hear of the death of another prominent figure AA Gill restaurant critic of the Sunday Times  he entertained us so well with his incredibly witty columns  His last insight into the compassion of a NHS nurse said so much about his true nature.

He knew that compassion is not something you can pay for .  He got that from the public sector and I hope it gave him some comfort in his last agonising days. On a beautiful day like today it is hard to believe that such suffering exists.

His only desire was to have more time with his family . A lesson for us all as we rush around getting ready for Christmas .

 

 

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Gooey Chocolate Cakes

Nigella says ‘before you even take off your coat break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a bowl over hot water’. image

Her writing adds excitement  to the recipe and gives you a story to visualise when you make these cakes.

I found the recipe in ‘How to Eat’ by Ms Lawson and I have been making it since Andrew was seven. He makes them more than I do now, impressing his friends by treating them to an indulgent treat. They have been made in an assortment of mugs over the years when we could not get a set of ramekins together. So the Tom& Jerry mug , the charity mug from the cathedral fundraiser and the one stolen from the Europa hotel have all had chocolate dripping down their sides obscuring the lettering with a crusty layer of deliciousness.

My father loved Nigella so much with her uninhibited sensuality as she described tastes and indulged her passion for food. She has such a gift for communicating pleasure! Even the name for these cakes describes exactly what they are in down to earth language.

Thank you Nigella for reaching three generations of my family in such a positive way!

NCAD Community Garden

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When you walk up off the Oliver Bond street parallel to Thomas Street and go through the tall metal gates, you leave behind the city and enter a mini garden of paradise.

Order has been brought to chaos with rows of vegetables stretching out in raised beds and more chaos has been created with the mountains of composting material being gathered daily by Tony Lowth whose brainchild this project is.

The cycle continues with the compost being spread on the ground ceating no dig beds with minimal weeds. It is a pleasure to work this soil. Rich and friable , dark but light to the touch, its fertility is evident in the abundance of lettuce, leeks and kale still growing in November.

Tony is no stranger to social change and he has a plan to create employment out of waste.  The practical application of labour to waste ground is no random idea but is carefully thought out.

IN the meantime, the backdrop of the citys noise – sellers in Meath Street calling out, Christchurch playing the Bells of the Angelus at noon and the visual  impact of graffiti on the gardens walls remind you where you are. In the heart of the oldest part of Dublin and not 500 metres from where Robert Emmet was hanged, a farm that out forefathers would be proud of is thriving.

Vegetarian Paradise

Cafe Paradiso is the most aptly named restaurant in Ireland.

It takes you to a world of fresh food cooked with care and expertise. It introduces your taste buds to stimulating flavours and your eyes to natural colours of bright greens , reds and orange.

Using a base such as haloumi or coucous, the dish is built up with beluga lentils or surrounded with chick peas

Hazelnut gougeres were divine as nutty starters – balls of delicate flavour to mop up the delicious sauce.

Lyndas buffalo mozzarella was delicate and refreshing with a clear taste. We both admitted to having thought buffalo referred to the size of the cheese,not the fact that it actually came from real buffalos near Macroom County Cork. Lynda never thought that there had of course to be female buffalo!

We loved the delicious thin crackers with seeds in top that were placed in the middle of the table. The waitress kindly jotted down the recipe and we will both produce our version and see who produces the better cracker.

The service was excellent and the restaurant was full from 5.45 pm.

Great value.  €102 between us including the bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

We finished the night in the Bodhran on Oliver Plunkett Street – which we were informed by a barman in the Imperial is “the best street in Europe”. Who were we to argue? There are not many pubs in this country where you would walk in to hear Lou Reed followed by a mix of classic tracks from Blondie to , of course, Rory Gallagher

Nothing like a good dose of nostalgia!!

Cafe Paradiso certainly was not something that would have succeeded when I was growing up in Cork

its surely a sign of our growing appreciation of good foods and sustainability that it has such a huge reputation in Ireland and abroad .

As the big healthy man himself said- I’ll be back!

 

The Irish ‘Orient Express’ all set to roll into Cork

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Luxury travel

Maybe next time I will take the Grand Hibernian to Cork instead of the old road or the N7!

CORK is set for a major tourism boost next month with the arrival of the country’s very own ‘Orient Express’. The arrival of the Belmond Grand Hibernian, the country’s first luxury overnight train, will result in a marked increase in the number of people visiting the city, and attractions such as Blarney Castle, the English…

Source: The Irish ‘Orient Express’ all set to roll into Cork

August weekend road trip

Instead of taking the usual N7 to Cork from Dublin, I decided to turn off to follow the alternative route. This is the old road. I found myself in the middle of a Festival in the picturesque town of Durrow Co Limerick.

Scarecrows lined the roads into the town and stood or leaned or hung on outside all the shops, public buildings and village green. A wonderful market set up on the green with the best of food, gifts and banter.

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Hang in there

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Don’t pull too hard!

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Let Down your Golden Hair!

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another night on the tiles

 

Driving to Cork from Dublin can be fun. Just don’t take the Motorway the whole way.

The brown alternative route opens up the heart of Ireland with its imagination, sense of community and sheer fun. With tolls savings amounting to nearly €5 you can afford to stop for a coffee anywhere along the road. It may be slightly longer but the experience is superior – less cars, more scenery, more “facilities”, if you feel the need.

What a wonderful achievement by the people of Durrow!