Wally Lamb, I’m disappointed. I read ‘I Know This Much Is True’ a year or two ago, and once again raided my mother’s bookshelves to start ‘The Hour I First Believed’, a big heft of a book. Opening with the Columbine school shooting, it follows the (fictional) aftermath for Caelum Quirk and his wife Maureen. Continue reading “The Hour I First Believed- Wally Lamb”
It seems that my baking has all been destined for mouths other than mine lately. While I can comment on how lovely the end result looks, I haven’t had a chance to taste either of these recipes!
My first is from Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh’s book ‘Sweet’: blackberry and star anise friands (or just blackberry friands if you don’t have any star anise).
Being the bit of a nerd that I am, I was rather excited about a new method of baking- browning the butter first, then adding it to the combined dry ingredients and slightly frothed egg whites. It all worked very nicely, and I had fun with the purple-y blackberry icing. There’s only 60g flour in the recipe, and it worked fine with gluten-free flour. I may not have tasted them myself, but they did get a professional chef’s approval!
Meanwhile, getting my work colleagues’ approval was the Happy Pear’s chocolate mousse cake. It was filled with butter (the boys use margarine), sugar and chocolate, so no wonder! Ground almonds in this, so another one to make the coeliacs happy.
Just have to start baking some cakes for myself now (says the girl who still has Christmas cake & pudding in the freezer….)
I’ve been living in Cork for over 15 years now. It took quite a while to grow on me. Maybe I didn’t fully appreciate it until new starts following my return from a year in London, and finally finding a life for myself- ‘You have to bloom where you’re planted’ in the words of a work acquaintance. Continue reading “A Bear’s View of Cork”
If absence makes the heart grow fonder, my readers must be feeling very fond indeed.
Yes, it’s been a while (though not as long as I’d feared) since I posted. A combination of student placement and extra hours at work, following by Christmas preparations, general laziness, and holiday preparations meant that you’ve all been somewhat neglected.
Not to worry- all will soon be remedied. Nothing like being laid up on the sofa with a miserable cold to help catch up on some writing!
So, we survived both Storm Ophelia and any potential zombie apocalypse during Hallowe’en. However, if there had been a zombie apocalypse, just look how well prepared we are! Continue reading “Good Lord, preserve us!”
You know, I just read my Week 2 Ballymaloe post and it’s funny how that ‘settling in’ applies to my stage here in Paradiso too. This week, I knew what to expect, finally figured where (almost) everything is in the kitchen, and slept better. Suddenly eating dinner at 10.30 or 11pm seems ‘normal’, and my routine just feels more, well, routine. Continue reading “In Paradiso”
I read over my first week’s post from Ballymaloe near to my first day ‘anniversary’. It struck how wonderously awed I sound, like a child on Christmas morning. It also struck me that I make no mention of the actual food or cooking! This year, instead of walking through the kitchen garden in chef’s whites, I was bringing Mr. WB home from A&E, both in our pyjamas (all better now, thank God).
Anyway, I didn’t mention it, but I remember on my first days in the kitchen thinking ‘I’ll never work in a restaurant kitchen’. Drying dishes the night of the pop-up, I thought ‘I’ll never work in a restaurant kitchen’. And now? I’ve just finished my first week…working in a restaurant kitchen. Paradiso‘s restaurant kitchen, to be precise.
I’ve peeled, prepped, pureed, chopped, baked, scooped and sieved my way through five evenings. There’s been a burn or two, which I haven’t even registered at the time. I’ve gone from never using a blowtorch to browning Baked Alaskas with gusto, and plating 40 desserts in one service.
It’s an amazing experience, not least because I get to eat the same food as the customers! Little do they know, as they sit chatting and laughing, that inside, seated on the stepladder beside the freezer, is a rookie chef enjoying the same plate of beetroot risotto (albeit in a 10 minute break).
In fact, I think every diner would appreciate their food all the more, were they know the time involved in the kitchen preparation!
I’m rather ashamed that I haven’t posted in an entire month- work, appointments and sleeping badly seem to have got in the way. Anyway, I’m back with a rather belated post on the fabulous GROW HQ in Waterford, which Mr. WB & I visited last month on our summer holiday.
The building itself is a funky affair-bright colours, concrete, and wooden tables with their own individual carved messages. Surrounded by gardens, you forget that you’re just off a roundabout and main road. I particularly liked the miniature garden, showing what can be achieved in a small space. It wasn’t lost on me that it’s just around the corner from University Hospital Waterford- perhaps the patient and staff could look out and feel inspired towards healthier homegrown food as a preventative medicine.
While not being a vegetarian cafe, the vegetables are definitely the stars of this menu. In fact, there’s even a ‘HQ Hero’ plate which features a vegetable cooked five different ways- great inspiration if you hit a garden glut!
Mr. WB satisfied his hunger with a hearty lunch, while I enjoyed a generous bowl of brocolli & romanesco salad with Cashel Blue dressing, caramelised cashews & dots of cauliflower puree.
I have to say I was rather jealous of Mr. WB’s beetroot & chocolate cake, but felt sufficiently appeased by deciding to order a gooseberry & tayberry parfait, especially when I was offered some ice cream in lieu of the usual (gluten-y) shortbread biscuits.
Calling GROW HQ a cafe really belies the quality of the food- this is restaurant quality food at cafe prices. I just wish it was closer to Cork!
Last month it was time to harvest the broad beans, duly presided over by one Francis Bear. Continue reading “Beans please!”
This review needs a disclosure to begin with: I spent two years in college with Caitriona Lally, before she decided to change tack and study English instead. We’d lost touch over the years, so when ‘Eggshells’ first appeared, I spent a while wondering ‘Is that…?’ before confirming that yes, it was ‘my’ Catriona Lally.
There is something Joycean about ‘Eggshells’, in a stream of consciousness and love letter to Dublin sort of way. In fact, were I to live in Dublin, I could see myself on an ‘Eggshells Tour’, following in character Vivian’s footsteps (and bus routes), as she negotiates the city, trying to find somewhere she belongs. Vivian doesn’t know where she fits in, and neither, it seems, does anyone else- not her neighbours or her incongruously named sister, Vivian.
‘ I used to bring home damp and gleaming shells, I used to think that if I found the perfect shell I would find the shape of the world, but I was always disappointed’.
This is not so much a story as an observational character study. I imagine how you react to it may depend on your tolerance for Vivian’s eccentricity and obsessiveness (there are many lists of items throughout that Vivian diligently copies into her notebook). Vivian provides a different way of looking at world, both its notable and mundane aspects. Perhaps it is a form of observation that we as readers could bring to our own locales to view them afresh, be that in Dublin or elsewhere.