Celeriac soup with Cashel Blue cheese and roasted chestnuts buckwheat crêpe

Choice 6

I Finally managed to find a little bit of time to post this recipe I did a few weeks ago. Now entering the final week of utter madness at work, this will help me to take my mind off for a bit, and for those who read my previous story, I am getting my car back today, which I hope will leave me worry free for a while. After a cold spell, the Isle of Ireland is enjoying milder temperatures, it is Monday morning, a touch of frost and a few rays of sunshine are piercing through the sash windows. The fog has lifted and I’ve just finished playing “Gallows Pole” on the guitar.The head is clear now, I can welcome today…

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Planned Obsolescence

Cashel Blue roasted chestnuts buckwheat crepe and celeriac soup

It has been a bit of a strange week, with mixed feelings. It started last Sunday December 3rd; I was on my way to Dublin for a very special evening, my last day out, a night to remember or rather help me forget how busy the next 21 days are going to be. I was listening to P.J Harvey, “Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea”, already looking forward to a rare evening with my friend Domi, and a much older friend that I didn’t see in 20 years, Mr Robert Plant himself, former frontman of the legendary band Led Zeppelin; well, he’s not really my friend, but he is the same age as my Dad and was part of our musical family since I was a very little boy… My rambling mind, smiling face and tapping index finger on the stirring wheel got suddenly interrupted by a rattling noise coming from the engine. I remember saying something like “Fuck!”, four letters that basically resumed what was about to come… No car? No concert?No Domi?No Robert? All was normal, temperature was steady, there was oil in the car as I always make sure all is good before I do a decent journey. Then all hell broke loose, red lights and alarm blaring, I thought “this is my Sully moment” as I made a crash landing to my own Hudson River, aka the hard shoulder between Dunshaughlin and Dunboyne. So close… Yet ( all in unison) so far… I breathed out another “Fuck!”, this time, it was acceptance. On the bright side, and since I was a young boy, I have always wondered what those orange S.O.S phones looked like and since I managed to safely taxi my vehicle close to one, I was about to find out! Well, it’s just a green button and a giant speaker. The chap was very helpful, letting them know I was there; I had insurance to get picked up, but that would mean no concert. Tried the car again, gone, full engine failure. My last resort was “my guy”, the owner of a garage/ shop a mile or so from the house, 80 kms away… Sunday at 4:10 pm. I rang Mr “M” and he just said: ” hey buddy, where are you? Ok, I’ll be there in 40 minutes ( yeah right, but I wasn’t in a negotiating position here), you said you are on the Dublin side? Ok, I’d better bring you a car as well so…”. One hour and 15 minutes later, there he was, bright orange flashing lights, a car on top of the rescue truck, out it went, mine went on, here are the keys and “I’ll see you tomorrow”. I would be able to meet my friend in good time, and see my auld pal “Robert”. As I sat in the “new” car, trying to figure out where the wipers and lights commands were, I just whispered a very respectful “fuck”, this one was more admiration and relief…

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Beet Bourguignon, a November Reflexion

Beet Bourguignon

I have really enjoyed November this year, savouring its days, seasonal and dark, I took a Baudelaire or even Verlaine approach to the descent into the inevitable darkness… Or was it Boris Vian? November is special to me, I decided to cherish it, it suits my mood as I have always been a winter child, excited by storms and snow showers, scouting by the Velux window of our old home for something to happen… November is a month of anniversaries, Ireland is now the place where I have spent most of my life; hard to even write – or rather read that- as I am typing. Like few, I have been blessed with two lives, that is the way I see it, a gift. November is also a month for the departed, the month my mother quite suddenly passed away. Before her time, at 49, I heard the news on a cold Monday morning, 09:30, my sister crying on the phone. Twenty years ago now, I left Galway, crossed the country in a diagonal to Rosslare Harbour, boarded a cargo ship for Cherbourg. Twenty hours at sea to reflect, while the British navy and its warplanes were exercising in the channel, Common Dolphins escorting us in the strangest of ballets… When I arrived, the custom officer couldn’t believe his eyes! A lonely pedestrian walking out of a boat in the middle of the night! When he saw me hugging my sister and my Dad, he knew it was best leaving it alone… I was too late. The last time I saw her, was eight month earlier, crying as she waved goodbye from the platform of Vannes’ s station, a train taking me back to another boat bound for Ireland. That was the last image, and I know now that she knew it was “adieu”. Like Leo Ferré said: ” Train stations are stupid” ( “Les gares, c’est con”) and Jacques Brel has a wonderful song about “Orly”. But you know what? I still love November, I transformed pain into cherishing these incredible moments. I don’t know if it made me stronger, but it taught me a lesson or two, about love and humility. This recipe – and since I am now on a veggie diet- is dedicated to her; Marie Lou, who used to make the best Beef Bourguignon… Ever!

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Buckwheat Lemony Madeleines

Lemony Madeleines

I realised the other day, that my mother would have been 70 years old just a couple of weeks ago. Scary thought! Through the reeds and willows of the lake, I swear I heard her laugh at the idea. “Me? 70? Haha… I’ll always be young!” Yes, I could see the irony as each year and now the twentieth anniversary since she checked out, brings us closer at last… Or at least in this weird binding of two generations, bitter-sweet and salt on the wound that will make you cry first, then in time will heal… Somewhat, somehow. I could hear that laughter again through the phragmites, but this time, I am pretty sure it was a little grebe, letting me know that he knew I was there…

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Aged Gouda and Pumpkin squash Tubetti Rigati Farro Pasta

Aged Gouda and Pumpkin squash

As storm Ophelia approaches the shores of Ireland, scheduled to hit us on Monday, exactly 30 years to the day after that “hurricane” ( it was in fact two storms that joined forces) unpredictably hit Brittany and the south of England with disastrous scenes in its path, I decided to post an October recipe, full of warmth and autumnal colours… I’ll tell that story another day…

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Donegal and the Dining Gal

Misty Killybegs Harbour

Last week, like I sometimes do, I ran away again… I know what’s coming you see, the Capitalistic-apocalyptic tsunami that is December, I have stopped counting the number of times I heard or saw myself mentioning the “C” word since the last week of August. This is the life I chose I guess, no point arguing about it! I heard some shops in Dublin already have their windows decorated, enough already! The swallows are still here for Christ sake ( sorry for the pun, I couldn’t resist), or at least that is when I last saw them, outside of Mullaghmeen forest, gathered on telephone lines, waiting for the conductor to signal a final “all aboard!”. I was heading for Co. Sligo first, eager to visit the People’s market in Strandhill, literally in the airport…

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Damson “Tarte Tatin” Style

Damson Plum Tatin

Autumn fell on the isle of Ireland like a North Korean missile in the Sea of Japan… Quickly and without warning. No seriously, it was great, a relieve from the horrible muggy and still typical ( tropical?) August that has me as happy and calm as Martin Sheen in a Vietnamese hotel room. The skies were bright again, I could see the end of the lake again, I could breathe…

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