Leaving Glenveagh and Saffron Scones

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Glenveagh National Park, Donegal, Ireland

I had my first real interview radio yesterday; not about work, just about me and my Hungry Breton Alter-Ego. It was quite fun, exciting and intriguing to have a producer and radio presenter interested about my life! During the pre-interview of the “Late Lunch with Gerry Kelly”, the lady asked me a few questions about myself and what caught their attention was my time I had spent in Glenveagh National park, summer of 1991, working on a clearance project of the cute but deadly Rhododendrons that has plagued Ireland since it had been introduced from Asia… Rhododendrons acidify the soil and create erosion as a consequence, as pretty as it may look, it is a curse for native species… If you want to hear my interview, click on the link, it starts at 32:50…

https://www.lmfm.ie/on-air/shows/late-lunch/late-lunch-podcasts-(1)/late-lunch-monday-september-3rd-2018/

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Fresh Fig with toasted St Tola and Aronia coulis

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St Tola goat’s cheese with fresh ripe fig and aronia coulis.

Not a lot of people know this, but I grew up in a school until I was ten years old. My Mother was a teacher and we had moved a fair bit by the time I reached the age of five. Questembert first, after I was born in the Sacred Heart Clinic in Vannes, just off Roosevelt avenue, then Belz, not too far from Auray where a Guineafowl kept on chasing and terrorising me, where my child minder used to call me “Figure de poire”, “Pear Face”, a nice lady though… Then finally Vannes. By the time I was five, I had lived in three schools. In France at the time, a teacher didn’t earn a lot of money, but one of the perks of the job came with a descent amount of holidays, and a “logement de fonction” ( work accommodation) for the whole family, until you were senior enough and with a reasonably comfortable income to get your own…

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Sea Buckthorn and Aronia “Eccles Cakes”

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Seabuckthorn and Aronia Eccles Cake

I know, it’s a strange one; what on Earth took me to decide to make Eccles Cakes? I have never been to Manchester, I actually never went to England either, one of these “too close yet too far” thing, it just never happened. I remember selling them in a cheese shop I used to work in, the owner was from London I think, very, very British if you don’t mind me saying and if that even makes sense… Something “very French” probably suggests a certain “je ne sais quoi”, a cliché, some guy on a bicycle with onions hanging out and a Mariner’s top… Hang on! Isn’t this the description of an “Onion Johnny” from Brittany? Well that’s just great! Something “very Irish” tends to be a bit pejorative, an unpleasant trait and thankfully only used and identified by the locals… So, very British uh? By Jove, I am not sure… All I know is that you don’t need to go too far to experience the echoes of the old empire around here, so when niece Tara visited last week, I suggested a little stroll on the grounds and garden of Tullynally Castle, three hundred and fifty years in the making… I don’t know if you’ve heard of the Irish mythology “The Children of Lir”? Oidheadh Chloinne Lir, tale of a jealous step mother who turns her King of a husband’s children into Swans… Well, that is pretty much there, over looking Lough Derravaragh in Westmeath…

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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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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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