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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Conchiglioni Butternut Squash “Al Forno”

Conchiglioni "Al forno"

I went for a walk last Sunday; “a walk?” says my alter-ego ” more like a freaking pilgrimage!”. Ok, ok, a pilgrimage so… I like to sleep with the window open, no matter what the season, how cold or windy the weather is, I listen to the sound – or rather the consequences- of our blue home rotating… I woke up and all was calm, the sky was blue and I found myself inextricably drawn outside, I wanted to feel it, be a part of it… I put my walking shoes on, and like “Travis” in “Paris, Texas”, I started to walk…

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Cardinal Points

When I am in that mood, I keep on going; I hate turning back, I get bored so I try to do a loop, a great way to discover your neighbourhood, a way to reflect, a “communion” a friend of mine called it once. I realised that my little spin was going to take me on a 12 km journey, on hard tarmac. I didn’t care, the mind was talking, and I felt a wee project drawing itself near my parish of Dromone, the old church and grave, a Divine motivation, a pilgrimage, self inflicted flagellation and pain… When my mind is set on something, I never turn back. Us Bretons, are known in France as the most stubborn folks on the planet… Hence the expression “Breton head”…

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Boyne Valley Blue Fritter

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Boyne Valley Blue Fritter, with beetroot leaves pesto and blood orange…

I have been living in Co. Meath since late 2002, “The Royal”, a County full of history, legends and myths. Home of some neolithic settlers, reminding me sometimes – and for obvious reasons- of the early art and petroglyphs both our cultures share. You probably heard of the cairns of Loughcrew, or maybe even Knowth and Dowth? But I am sure you have heard of Newgrange, Solstice and equinox sun beams getaway to the other world, another world. And right bang in the middle, lies the legendary Boyne River…

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Franckie’s Filet Mignon

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Franckie’s Filet Mignon with pepper sauce

I often make this dish, it has it all. Tasty, easy to make, it makes a great Sunday dinner, a midweek special treat or a feast after a grand day out. My mother used to make pork steaks in a big pot, slow cooked with onions, garlic and peas, slightly burnt at the bottom, it was delicious too. To save on a lot of dishes during and after cooking, I do mine in a papillote , which is really between two sheets of tin foil. It keeps all the flavours of the ingredients that you put together. One tip though, leave the greens out or they will turn brown. Apart from that, go for it!

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Roquefort Salad

Roquefort salad
Roquefort salad

What a wonderful morning it was in Co. Meath ! Once a year, I lead a Birdwatch Ireland walk with a couple of friends to celebrate the “Dawn Chorus”, an outing starting at 4 am, welcoming the sunrise of what could be “our summer” ( every time we a get a couple of days of sunshine on a row in Ireland, that is what we call it), we listened to the first song birds while light pierces through the darkness of night, making it a fine communion with nature and history as our early Dominical procession made its way quietly, by the neighbouring  passage graves of Knowth and Newgrange, overlooking the Boyne river’s meanders.

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