Tabouleh Blues Tale

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Tabouleh and Hummus toasts

When I was a kid, my Dad wasn’t the cook in the house; my mother – and through silly cultural reasons- naturally adopted the role. That said, it didn’t mean that my father, like other men in Brittany couldn’t or wouldn’t cook; “au contraire mon frère” like we say in some parts of Dublin 4. I remember how, a long time ago, an Irish guy explained to me that a man who cooks is considered as, well, a bit of a sissy… To which I replied a bit surprised and annoyed at that silly cliché ( now long gone), that if cooking was making a man more effeminate, having a shower with 14 other lads after the Sunday Game must just be a bit of male bonding so… I know it was a cheap shot, but it just came out like that. I’ll stick to cooking thank you.

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Smoked Tuna Salad

Smoked Tuna salad
Smoked Tuna Salad

Last Thursday, I went to give a talk and a tasting with the staff of a famous restaurant in BlackLion, Co. Cavan… ( ok, if you must know, it was MacNean House), lovely people, beautiful place, amazing Cavan countryside on the way to Leitrim and Sligo, literately a stone throw with the Fermanagh border, Belcoo, or what the locals euphemistically call “The North”… You’ve got to love it! I enjoy doing these cheesy talks, but somehow I feel a certain anxiety and apprehension, I hide it well, I face it well but this leaves me in a paradoxical discomfort. To remedy this – at least for a while – I like to abandon myself, switch off and return to my first love, wildlife, nature, ornithology. The day before, superb sunshine out, I headed for Westmeath, Lough Derravaragh to be precise….

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Melon and Mint Ice Cream

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Melon and mint ice cream

Something amused me the other day; I stumbled upon a new trend called “Avolatte” or for you and me, a latte or a flat white coffee being made in an avocado skin. That is right, you read correctly. Maybe it was a bit of Australian humour, hippsterization of food gone wrong, a world gone mad in search of novel ideas… I just smirked all the way home, feeling a bit sorry for people who clearly had lost it… Yes, I smirked and that very night I woke up smelling a strong whiff of humble pie, freshly baked, the sweet aroma of revenge filling up my room…

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A Lemon Tart for Nikki

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Lemon Tart and Coffee

In 1982, we left the city for an idyllic life by the shores of the “Golfe”. Building a house was a big deal then, and I guess it always kind of is, especially the first home you are going to owe, move in as a family. The wonderful adventure lasted 8 years, all the ingredients for happiness were obvious, laid magically in front of us, vocations were born there, the start of a long life as a “Blown In”, a life of never really belonging anywhere and a talent for making new friends quite easily… Yes, a lot happened under that roof in 8 years; life changing moments? Absolutely! Life shattering? Definitely! By 1990, it was all over, my parents separated and my sister and I kindly refer to our childhood and teenage years’ abode as “The House of Hell”…

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Quick Provençale Tart

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Tarte provençale ( Provençale tart)

Oh man! Between my ornithological outings, and organising our 8th annual Irish Food Festival at work ( plus a disastrous broadband at home), blogging recipes and stories has been have been a bit of a challenge! Anyhoo, I couldn’t let this little ripper being unshared! I make this great recipe in the summer, to put me in the mood I guess; I call it “Tarte provençale” or ” Provençale Tart” it’s all good I swear, all good!

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Gnocchi, on Heaven’s Door

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Gnocchi with saffron and red peppers sauce

Yesterday was a strange kind of day. This time of year is Dawn Chorus month and for the last five or six years, my two compadre from “Birdwatch Ireland Meath” and myself lead a group of very brave people, on a nocturnal procession in various locations of our county to listen to a new Dominical Dawn, bird waking up, welcoming daylight by the banks of the Boyne river. This good natured affair is also an early one, as we start the walk at 4 am, meaning I have to be up at 2:30 am, and in my car by 3:15 am latest. I normally return to bed between 6 and 7 am, waking up again later, never feeling fully restored and having that uneasy feeling that I have already had a full Sunday… As you can see, I don’t do too well on sleep deprivation!

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Homemade Baked Beans

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Baked Beans, poached eggs, buckwheat pan cake and asparagus.

I realised that I have been away from the house quite a bit lately; for work and leisure or a bit of both, spending a bit of time North Westward has been good to me. Then my sister came to visit, we haven’t seen each other in a year and a half and spending a bit of time with her, her partner and my nephews was refreshing and made me concentrate on other things. We visited the area, Fore and the Cairns of Loughcrew, Dublin for a bite and a bit of shopping, the Natural History for the boys or a day trip to Sligo, Mullaghmore and Glencar. They left on the Friday, and when my birthday came the following Tuesday, I felt a great sense of emptiness – not necessarily unpleasant- rather a time to reflect on the things in life that matters; nature and nurture… I needed to treat myself; I had soaked some beans the night before, stuck “Siouxie & the Banshees” in the CD player, opened a bottle of wine and started cooking…

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