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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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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“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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Sole Searching

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Lemon Sole “Grenobloise” style

After nearly two years, 20 months to be precise, my father popped in for a couple of days. I am not a great traveler I must admit and due to unexpected setbacks this year (bloody car), going to Brittany for a week wouldn’t be financially very wise. So Brittany came to me, smiling as usual, more zen than me and debonair, with each time whiter hair; I am now the same age he was when he first visited me in Sligo, all these years ago. Sobering thoughts, well, at least something was these last few days!

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The Fouace And The Trust

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Fouaces and salads

As the annual Dawn Chorus approaches, I remembered a lovely story from years gone by, a story of ornithology, environmental convictions and a rare bread that has now been almost lost. Once the pride of Vannes and its county ( or Department as we call them), I wanted to recreate this recipe from memory. Not an easy task… The action takes place in 1988 I think, I was 14 or 15, wishing to be 16 or 17, like we all once did. I was – since the age of 11- passionate about wildlife and especially ornithology, the study of birds ( please don’t start, I have heard all the jokes about it!)… One day, I got my first telescope, two years after my first pair of binoculars that lasted me nearly 20 years… Life was sweet!

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The United Colours of Cork

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Marlborough Street, Cork City

This is a funny one I know; I have been leaving in Ireland for over 23 years now and the only time I have made it to Cork City were mere pit stops, waiting for a bus to Dublin somewhere in 1996 where I think I went for a stroll and a pint by the river Lee, another time to catch a shuttle to Ringaskiddy, essentially to board a ferry to Brittany. I remember waiting for a train there once too, probably in 2000, after spending a holiday with my Dad and my sister in Glengariff. I almost made it two years ago during a work trip to West Cork but the time was against us. Cork is a big County, the West part of it alone is as far as it is beautiful, far from its Capital that is, a county and a City synonymous with an  avant-garde understanding of food, a little Irish “Marseilles”, with a cacophony of accents, colours… A cosmopolitan city – the way harbour metropolises can often be- with such variety of shades; with ingredients like that, it was only going to turn out into something amazing. When it comes to food, it didn’t disappoint and it is of no surprises if it is considered by many as the “Food Capital of Ireland”, despite some proverbial Towers of Babel having a go at the title ( I call them “Baby-bel”) it can rest tranquille and assured of a bright food culture future…

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