Vagabondage, a Roasties Story

Lamb and Sheep on a morning walk

For some reason, and despite what radio desperately try to sell us as being the most depressing time of year, I quite like January. I know we are now in February, yes, I am aware of that and this is just my point! I have been busy. You see, in the kind of job I do – and like a lot of other people like me- food retail is a challenging and trying business in December. Don’t get me wrong, it has its rewards, but since we start talking and working on it since at least September in order to deliver the best service, it is important to manage oneself physically and psychologically; laughing you may, but this is the truth. So when the new year finally comes, it is imperative not to let others tell you the way you should feel, act or behave. For me, I keep on going, most of the time relying on my own entertainment as most other friends and acquaintances ( even customers) tend to hide for a bit, and I understand that. No New Year’s resolutions, or at least not for another while, too soon for any types of challenges apart from a wish to have the best of my stories and recipes made into a wee book, just for me, and maybe to print some of my best pictures for a little exhibition maybe? We’ll see. So when January came, I decided to keep on indulging on my morning walks, let my spirit roam free around the surrounding Townlands, take it all in, rewarding my soul….

Lough Lene
Lough Lene, co. Westmeath, January 2019

I like walking; I started to do it a bit more seriously this summer, as a gift I felt I owed to myself, a time out in my neighbourhood while some are still asleep, others on their way or already at work. I don’t start until 10 am and you would be amazed how much can be done when you begin a day like this! Well, when the weather allows it that is. A great way to connect – and in a strange fashion- within a place where you are not from, far away from your own shores, ideal to connect, breathe and understand the reality that it is now the part of the land you have lived the longest… Humbling it is, trying to belong, inhaling the forest and farmlands odors, gifts, listening to the first singing Song Thrush or the cry of a Jay giving out… The sun creeping out through the trees of the beech forest!

Forest 1
Mullaghmeen Forest
Forest 2
Branching out…

Then when I thought I was going to get an easy ride, I was asked to go to Cork, south of the Island to speak about and share some experiences with some of our newest staff in Bishopstown. It is always a bit of a big deal for me to get out of my comfort zone; I try to manage my anxiety by facing my demons always trying to drag me down. It is only 300 km away, but it is a bit outside of the “safe perimeter”. It sounds a bit insane, but when it comes to poles, I tend to be attracted by the North, no pun or even hard feelings intended, that is just the way I am! The journey was long, especially when you are on your own and the CD player in the car is too temperamental for your own music, so I had to listen to “Brexit” stories instead on the radio… Again! I know I was heading to a familiar place; logos, counter, cheeses, and I realised that it was the road I had often taken to take the boat back to Brittany, just off the M40, just passed the turn for Ringaskiddy…

Road to Cork
On the way to Cork… By the Galtee Mountains
Home to another Cheese Counter…
Poly and Franckie
Poly and Franckie…

I must say, it took a chunk out of me, yet the rewards of coming back home after enjoying the lovely people of Cork were immense… An eternal contradiction. It wasn’t long after my return that we had to meet with the nucleus of the company for an end of year meeting in our shop where members of staff, colleagues and friends gathered from Dublin, Cork, Galway and Waterford; all had to be fed and even if everyone brought a little something – and since we were the host- I felt compelled to do a little extra; I made a cauliflower, potato and saffron soup, my vegetarian Chili and my wonderful Mother’s apple cakes… I made two actually! Meetings are what they are, but knowing that there is a bit of grub to share from everyone else’s stories made it special…

The Troop
“Board Meeting”
Cook for troop
Cauliflower, potato and Saffron soup, Veggie Chili and Apple Cakes…
Feeding time

I had a story and recipe in mind for January… No, seriously! But it never worked out. The idea germinated a bit, but I wasn’t sure it would be ok to post, well, at least not for me. I tried and experimented a brown bread bread recipe, but it fell flat on its head… Quite literally! I just didn’t have the space in my head to do so, and for the first time in four and a half years, I didn’t post anything in January… It got to me first, then I thought that this is just a bit of a hobby, and it has to be sincere! Why do I have to worry about this when I started to write as a way of relaxing? So I decided to let it go… I was down a bit though, did I lose my mojo? Or is just life getting in the way? The answer came a few days later, when I found out out that my old body Giorgio Cravero, celebrity affineur of Parmigiano Reggiano ( don’t call it parmesan I have been told many a time) was in town… Or rather Townland since we are in the middle of nowhere. I cooked lunch for our Piedmont friend before his first talk of what was to be a four day marathon around the country, shared an espresso and a chat when he just said: ” You know Franck, I keep reading your blog… Ma, it is very good!”. We respect each other, and we have a story involving U2 that is just to personal! In a funny way… The truth is, and after two big hugs and me opening a wheel of his cheese, the guy gave me a chunk of comfort I needed. He also told me with his wonderful Italian accent: ” Ma Franck… I can’t open a wheel of Parmigiano like that anymore… Do me a favour! Do not enter any cheese competitions, it wouldn’t be fair on the others!”. Yeah… Giorgio is a good guy!

Franckie and Giorgio Cravero

Anyway, after all these peregrinations, may it be for work or for personal reasons, nothing seem to bring me more joy than roasted root vegetables. I do them all the time, “211” I call it. Two potatoes, one carrot and one beetroot. Always organic and with the best of olive oil… I don’t know, it just brings me a lot of comfort this time of year…

Choice 2
“211” root veggies

When I came back from Cork, I did them with Pollock from O’Connell’s fishmongers around the corner; I did the fish with a rocket and organic baguette crumble and a bit of organic broccoli…

Fish 1
Pollock and Rocket breadcrumbs
Fish 3
Pollock with roasties, organic broccoli and rocket

After one of our meetings, I did them with goats cheese and fresh cranberries…

Roasties 4
Roasties with goat’s cheese and roasted garlic…

And after a long walk, especially Sunday ones, roasties with and egg on top to finish it all… I also shred a bit of a savoy cabbage for the last five minutes in the oven and a drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar. 25 minutes in a hot oven, with peeling and cutting you are in heaven and back in your comfort zone within less than an hour!

Roasties 2
With an egg, my fav…

So that’s it folks, the reasons I was or a way or to explain my absence… Recent weather events keep reminding us that winter is not over, so keep busy and keep happy…

Choice 2
“211” root veggies

Keep Well and Eat Happy!

Slán Tamall







10 thoughts on “Vagabondage, a Roasties Story

  1. Welcome Back! I had only read a past blog the other day as it came up in my own personal FB page as a ‘memory’ when shared a while back. It was the blig you wrote about not going back to Brittany at Christmas anymore! The book sounds a wonderful idea. If there is a launch/evening – have it at Sheridan’s and count me in! It would be a welcome addition to my kitchen! Happy 2019 to you & yours…and keep writing!

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