My aunt often says to me that my mother was great at cooking meats; her beef Bourguignon was to die for and the treat for my father, on a cold Sunday, was her osso buco with flageolet beans and boiled potatoes. I guess I took it for granted, as children do, with a nonchalant face while playing with their fork, unaware of the love that was actually put before them. When she passed in 1997, I was only 25; at that stage, I had made my first baby steps in the kitchens of Sligo and Galway, before I got a phone call, before I had to sail away to say farewell, but that moment was never to be as she left before me. I inherited though, some lovely memories and a scrap book full of tender mess and quirky recipes from days long gone. My only regrets? I wish she could have seen Ireland, an Island she loved and supported through the “troubles”, through the struggles… She really did! The other one I guess is, that I would have really loved to have cooked for her… Just once. “But hey! Listen to me! This wasn’t meant to be no sad song” as legend Paul Brady puts it so well… We’ve heard too much of that before… We sure did!
As I explained in my previous post Breton Cake with apples, my boss sent me on a trip to West Cork with our new Dublin staff; the company I work for, Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, has open new counters in the Capital’s Irish Dunnes Stores; he gave me the job of taking my young colleagues Emma, Philippa and William to where it all started, a land where life is good, wonderful even! “Best place to live in Ireland” I have heard in a recent study; that it may well be, but if you are into artisan food in general and farmhouse cheese in particular, you may well be on to a winner here! Plus, West Cork is not only gentler when it comes to our insular climates; it is also quite easy on the eye… It has been 16 years since I was over, where we had a wonderful holiday in Glengariff with my Dad and my sister who had just landed in Ringaskiddy.
My boss is sending me on a Special Mission; it happens once in a while, either dropped discreetly around a cup of coffee between a “well, how are you?” and “how would you feel about going on a road trip?”, or an email, extrapolated by my over active imagination which can clearly read: ” Your mission, should you choose to accept it, involves extracting some of our newest staff from Dublin, bring them to West Cork to see some of the original producers and actors of the Irish cheese and food revival, bring them back with plenty of stories and dreams to share. This message will self-destruct in five seconds”. I swear, that is what I get, this is what I hear, this is what I read.
Ok, I know, this is not a food post but still! How often do you get such a rare phenomenon over the Isle of Ireland? I received a text in the early hours of this morning from my friend Morag who lives “Up the road”: ” Polar stratospheric clouds in the sky this morning! Look up!” it read as my upper left eye lid was still stuck to the bottom one and jumped out of bed, still in my pajamas, put my snow boots on ( they are easy to put on in case of an emergency… You can imagine the fashion disaster here…) and grabbed my camera which is always at reach… I wasn’t going to be disappointed!
As I write those lines, the day could turn into quite a memorable one! As storms go, we are going through the alphabet like there is no tomorrow! Introducing the letter “H” with storm Henry today; the polar vortex is actually hovering over Ireland( it should be over the North pole). The lights this morning were amazing, ghostly and so out of character that I decided to get out of the house to take a few pictures around the area… Bad idea! I could barely get out of the car and when I made it back home, two heavy pine tree branches were leaning closer and closer over the whole width of the road, losing altitude as they were being tossed around like lifeless rag dolls. There was no time to lose, I grabbed a rope and my best handsaw, managed to hold on, dropped to the ground and sawed them free one after another.