Wednesday, April 28, 2010

glasses ..... really?

Oh how I love thee TK Maxx. When 'I did darken its doorstep' last Sunday afternoon I wasn't expecting anything much but low and behold like a beacon in the night-there they were. Now most of you will probably think my excitement was unfounded. I will admit to being highly caffeinated at the time; but when I saw those black boxes with that white lettering spelling out that wine lovers dream 'Riedel'; who was I to say no?
I very excitedly picked up the boxes to see what was on offer.
Two Chardonnay/Viognier glasses: MINE.
Two Shiraz glasses: Ahh MINE.
Two Pinot Noir glasses: Oh, well, ehm....MINE.
In my excitement I contacted everyone I thought might also want in on the bargain. That was two people: Andy, my fellow wine course attendee, and my father. I live the high life I do.
Now I feel like I've graduated my course (even though I still await my results) with honours. Although I wonder would I also have been as excited pre-course?
I sampled my wares last night with a very tasty Cote Du Rhone (mostly Grenache, so very easy, pleasant drinking). And even though it was accompanied by a chick flick and a bowl of popcorn, with glass in hand, it was all very fabulous.
Check them all out :

Friday, April 23, 2010

a cauliflower and some 'wilted' spinach

Upon arriving home, post work, yesterday I looked into my fridge in a vain hope that what was inside had differed to what was inside it yesterday. Unfortunately, no. All of my decent left overs and been scoffed leaving me with half a head of cauliflower and half a bag of wilted spinach. For the love of peat- what the hell am I supposed to make with that?
It was at that moment that I remembered reading a comment made in a cookbook I bought recently- that the cauliflower is actually a great vegetable that is much neglected. Hmmm. I took it out of the fridge and opened the Ziploc. Firstly I was hit with a smell that can only be described as cauliflower. I gave it a quick rinse and the smell subsided. Maybe cauliflower doesn't like fermenting in its own juices in the bottom of the fridge.
I heated up the char grill and took a deep breath.

Cauliflower and Spinach Pesto

pine nuts
olive oil
salt and pepper

1- Heat up that char grill and toss the cauli in olive oil and salt and pepper
2- char grill it to your hearts content until its got those pretty lines on it.
3- meanwhile in a mixer (i have one of those hand mixer attachments) put in the wilted (read past sell by date) spinach, a clove of garlic, a few pine nuts and a cube of Parmesan, pepper. whiz whiz.
4- top the cauli with the pesto. not bad! i might even just be a cauliflower convert now. its surprisingly rich, i couldn't even finish mine.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


So I managed to travel world, spanning four continents, in six months and never I never lost a sock. Not even one.
I live in my current abode for about three months and I have six lonely and unmatched socks. I repeat SIX. How is that possible?
Answers on a post card.....

Monday, April 19, 2010

bray to greystones and back again

The task is in the title. Me and ninja Caroline started off in Bray and continued along the coast to Greystones. We arrived in Greystones sooner than expected so we had a snack in the very lovely happy pear and walked back again. Unfortunately I forgot the spf and ended up a little pink.

it was a case of first things first

then we were off

de-rocking the field

a lost toy!

happy snacking

the way back

Friday, April 16, 2010

one downfall...

....of living alone is that when your stressed or worried about an exam, say for arguements sake a WSET exam, theres no one there to give you an auld hug and tell you it'll be ok. but so far thats the only downfall i've encountered!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Poetry Ireland Introductions Series 2010

You never really know what to expect when you walk into one. Of course it doesn’t help when you’re the late one; all rushed and sweaty trying to balance bag, coffee, phone, inappropriate number of photocopies and dignity.

After doing a year of intense workshops in St Andrews I kind of wondered what it was all about. What was the point? Who was I doing it for? When I got home though I desperately scrambled to find another group with a similar dynamic and energy. Eager to define what I was doing through other people that were doing it. I found myself in groups in places like Cabra Public library with middle agers who gasped if you suggested there was homo-erotic undertones in someone’s writing. At that point I knew that the St Andrews experience could never and probably should never be replicated. It was amazing and special and astounding in its very own unique way. So I sadly gave up my search and reasoned that if I couldn’t do it by myself I couldn’t and shouldn’t do it at all.

Lucky for me the Introductions Series 2010 group is good! In a jest to my lateness I dove right in with a joke, and I felt as though I was right back there, by the sea and the castle with other people who were serious about putting one little word after the next and the eagerness of placing a comma exactly where it should be. Strange, weird, mental but true. We’re a rare breed and in this case we communed around our oasis in the vicinity of St Stephen’s Green. Led by the poet James J. McAuley, the role call went something like this: Andrew Caldicott, Jessica Colley, Martin Dyer, Peter Goulding, Connie Roberts, Andrew Jamison, Simon Leyland, David Mohan, Cliona O’Connell, Edward O’Dwyer, Pauline Hall and Rosie Sheppard.

But in all the seriousness, sometimes even madness, of a workshop nothing finishes it off better than healing a slightly bruised ego at the other oasis of choice- the pub. The numbers dwindled as the pint glasses were stacked up. It was just me and the adorable Jamison (fellow St Andrews Graduate) flying the long haul flag for the class into the wee hours. We reminisced about lattes, beaches and the amazing Don Paterson and we were pretty pleased with ourselves in our alcohol fuelled nostalgia. We even compared notes, grades and gossip. Ever the competitive girl……

Now for the best (read: most pain in the ass) part: finishing the bloody poem. Here’s to May and more pints!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

my new hobby

For the past few weeks I’ve been doing a WSET Intermediate Wine course in Sweeneys Wine Shop in Glasnevin. The exam is starting to loom ever closer. As close as two weeks to be precise. And in my usual fashion I forgot the reason I started the course in the first place while the more competitive version of myself steps forward. I want the best-why not?! Of course this means that sometimes my goals aren’t reasonable to begin with and I am bitterly disappointed when I don’t get that elusive, in this case, distinction. My friend, upon listening to my mini freak out, said ‘But Niamh it’s just a hobby.’ That’s exactly what it is. So what is my problem? Am I really that competitive? I didn’t think I was that bad. Maybe it’s my middle child syndrome. In an effort now to never admit a flaw I will say that I believe competitiveness is a good thing. In fairness I don’t think you can call in competitiveness when it’s with yourself. No one else I know has done this course before and I’m sure there are more people on the course with a better ability to learn things off by heart and spit them out on the exam paper. It’s just my ‘passion’ or my ‘eagerness’. Hmm I don’t think I’m even convincing myself here. All I know is that I can now plan an evening like this and call it homework:

1 bottle Sauternes
1 block Roquefort
1 packet crackers.

All in the name of tasting and food matching studies. What an amazing hobby?! Screw the exam and bring on the homework.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Saturday Project Week 1 Artichoke Salad

Artichoke Salad

We made this for 2 people

3 artichokes
1 lemon
1 head radicchio
6 slices pancetta
4 tomatoes
Basil to taste
Salt and pepper.

Step one prepare artichokes:

De-steam and peel. Chop in half just above ridge and discard top.

Put bottoms into pot of water with juice of half lemon. You can use all of the artichoke if you like. Bring water to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. They’re done when a sharp knife passes easily into the stem. Turn off water and let the artichokes cool in the water.

Step two prepare salad:

Chop tomatoes and tear basil.

Step three charring and grilling:

We used a fancy restaurant style char grill (well he is a chef after all) but a small at home char pan or barbeque will work. If you have neither of those just leave them raw and they’ll be just as tasty.

Before char grilling season and with salt and pepper and a glug of olive oil

Lightly char. Turning to char evenly on all sides. We cut the radicchio into quarters and charred them too.

Meanwhile grill the pancetta. You want it crispy but not burnt!

Step four combine:

Add charred vegetables to salad, combine with seasoning and another glug of olive oil and a squeeze of the remaining lemon. We also put in whatever left over salad leaves were in the fridge.

Serve and enjoy!!

We had ours with a glass of Chilean Chardonnay : Las Condes 2007. The medium body, creamy fruits complimented the salad really well.

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