I love doing those quick dinners, while coming home after a hard cheesy day. In the summer, I find cooking a bit more challenging and since we are having a bit of a “heat wave” in Ireland ( 29c – 84f), I needed something quick when I came home from work yesterday, something I could serve with leaves or something. The idea of cleaning the barbecue at 6:30pm didn’t appeal to me… Somewhat… I am sure you understand. I opened the fridge and realised that – yet again- I had bought an aubergine (eggplant) on Saturday; whatever happens in this Hungry Breton’s head is quick thinking that I, sometimes, surprise myself. With only three ingredients, this is how it went:
As I explained in my previous post Breton Cake with apples, my boss sent me on a trip to West Cork with our new Dublin staff; the company I work for, Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, has open new counters in the Capital’s Irish Dunnes Stores; he gave me the job of taking my young colleagues Emma, Philippa and William to where it all started, a land where life is good, wonderful even! “Best place to live in Ireland” I have heard in a recent study; that it may well be, but if you are into artisan food in general and farmhouse cheese in particular, you may well be on to a winner here! Plus, West Cork is not only gentler when it comes to our insular climates; it is also quite easy on the eye… It has been 16 years since I was over, where we had a wonderful holiday in Glengariff with my Dad and my sister who had just landed in Ringaskiddy.
In my family, we had a funny tradition. For as long as I can remember, and almost religiously, Saturday night was “Couscous Night”; when 6pm came a ringing, my Dad would drive down town to his friend, proud owner of a “zinc” ( small French bar) in a corner of Marechal Leclerc Street. “The Duke’s Mill” if I remember well, with a Formica counter, a couple of tables and a pin ball machine near the toilets. Downstairs, right underneath the bar, was an impeccably dressed dining room only used at weekends, where Joel’s wife would cook only one dish: Couscous. When the days of take away food didn’t really exist yet, at least in my town – or so I thought – Dad would drop a big pot with its couscous steamer and collect it at the beginning of the evening, full to the bream.
Bouffe: ( pronounce “Boof”) French slang for “Food” in general, family or friends gathering involving food… Like we say in Ireland: ” Quelle Surprise”.
“What do French people eat on Bastille Day?”… I was first asked this question during an interview on TV3 in the summer of 2002. I was clearly not prepared for this question, to the obvious disappointment of the interviewer ( who was also a weather man). ” Well sir, there is not really such a dish, a merguez or paté baguette while we all go drinking and dancing?”. That answer fell flat on its face; depending of the region, meals can probably be quite different. All I can remember is street food, we tend to go out, enjoy the fireworks and some music. In my case, we didn’t celebrate the whole thing too much to be honest, a bit like asking an Irish man if he celebrated St George’s Day… We are proud people, no offence.
But if I was going to do something, it would probably be Duck confit. It taste of the South West, very versatile, with Sarlat potatoes, simply sliced spuds gently melting in duck fat, with a crush of garlic at the end and a hand full of freshly chopped parsley… Too hot for this? Shred the duck and include it in a salad of roots, spinach and a bit of walnut and blue cheese…