Thanks a Brunch!

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Veggie Brunch

It has been a year now since I have renounced eating meat. It has been in my mind for the past six years, I may well have spoken about it before, well maybe not as directly but yes, it has been one year. Apart from that time in October 1st where I was invited by Chef Richard Corrigan at his own table, in his own restaurant and a beef Wellington might have been produced; it was Sunday brunch, my last real Sunday brunch, nearly a year ago. As I am typing this few short lines of my introduction, I can feel a frisson down my spine, and I swear, I clearly heard Anthony Bourdain whisper in my ear: ” you did good man, you did good…”. Is it cold here? Did you feel that?

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Blanquette of Cauliflower

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Blanquette of Cauliflower with red rice and saffron and sheep cheese rosette

I have started walking again, enjoying the countryside before heading to work, just half an hour or so, in order to kick start the auld metabolism. I have a choice of four routes to take and yesterday I went a bit further, on account of being Sunday and all, the temperatures were a bit cooler and the south west wind was keeping them little b*****ds flies away from my face. A mixed feeling of being really, really irritated and kind of defeating the purpose of a curative and relaxing walk, to right down humiliating having a cloud of buzzers following you for several kilometres…

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The Organic Car Crash

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Montsarrac Séné Brittany ( Photo by my friend Jacques Ducoin, edited by Hungry Breton)

I don’t know if any of you have ever driven off a cliff and lived to tell the tale? Well I did. I wasn’t driving though; it was just the Universe putting four actors in a play, act 1, scene 1 taking place in our favourite dive, “The Cactus”. It was a normal Friday evening in July 1994, Sergio and I were sitting at the bar enjoying a few glasses of Pilsner, listening to “22-Pistepirkko”, a Finnish band who played within these stone walls only a year earlier. Good times. Little did I know that in a few short months I would be on my way to Ireland and little did I know that a couple of hours later I would find myself waist deep in sea water and mud…

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St Tola Raviole and the Chinese TV Crew

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St Tola Raviole and spinach broth

I can’t believe it has been three years already; I was sitting on the garden table, sipping on a nice coffee and honey, just the way I like it when the phone rang. ” 9 am!” I thought, “can’t a man enjoy a wee bit of peace before heading to work?”. It was a lady from Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority of Ireland if you prefer, “Fáilte” meaning “Welcome”; by the sounds of things it seemed to be important and it came from the top, well you know, top enough! A camera crew from China, CCTV to be precise were touring Ireland; they wished to stop at my work place and wanted me to speak about cheese…

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Bogland Ratatouille

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Ratatouille, chickpea burgers, grilled aubergines and baked potatoes with bocconcini mozzarella di bufala…

I can’t remember the last time we talked about water restrictions in Ireland; well apart from the obsolete and dilapidated water pipes exploding here and there, water shortages due to dry and prolonged weather conditions are not that usual. A more common affair now in Brittany, my homeland getting drier, often mocked once by the Parisian clique for its long and often tempestuous rain spells but yet, they never forgot to pack their cute yellow raincoats. Ok, about that, let me be clear here: unless you are on a fishing boat, we do not wear yellow raincoats. We wear Cotten salopettes with shell jackets on top ( I have the whole uniform, I just don’t get to wear it that often), they are yellow, on a boat only, not to go to the market and pretending to be a local, it’s like a big giveaway, don’t do that! I suppose we get the same here this time of year, Aran jumpers and Donegal tweed caps… Well maybe in the more touristy parts of the Island, here in the midlands, we do not see much of that, and yesterday, as I was admiring in dismay the queue for the car wash, I thought the message didn’t quite sink in… Boglanders, you gotta love them!

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Smoked Haddock Cajun Rice

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Smoked Haddock Cajun Rice

Ahhh… Summer! After hurricane Ophelia 8 months ago, some dramatic snow falls in March, we are now getting a proper heatwave; and I don’t mean 19 c heatwave, no-no, I mean proper nearly 30 c which hasn’t been seen since 1976… I remember it you know, summers of 1976 and 1979, forest fires everywhere; we almost got caught up in one once, scary really! The Canadair Fire fighting planes flew all the way from the south of France to Brittany… But what I remember most, is all these long hours swimming in the sea, or at least learn how to, with my sister and my Dad, Mum carefully watching us from the safety of the shore…

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“Cherry Times” a June Tale and a Goat’s Cheese Soufflé recipe

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Goat’s Cheese Soufflé with cherries

I don’t know what it is about June, forget about July and I may as well scrap August altogether, taking the risk of being quite unpopular with people around me, I must say that I don’t deal with summer – or whatever they call it here- very well. The idea of contemplating these three long months, feels like bracing myself for a quiet and deadly storm, “Waiting around to die” from Townes Van Zandt keep on a ringing when I should be happy, when I should be whistling to the dog and the cats in the kitchen ” Le temps des cerises”, Cherry Times… Cheery times! Now I get to think about it, it’s a beautiful, seasonal and yet a pretty heart wrenching song too. I mustn’t have been the only one so, the summer takes as much as it gives I guess, and June gives so generously!

– “Come on Captain sail on that ship of yours through them dark troubled waters, you hear?”

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