What We're Reading, Eating & Watching | February 2023
A delicious digest of satisfying suggestions...
Another edition of our free monthly digest where we’re shining a light on some of the best things we’ve eaten, cooked, enjoyed, listened to, watched, streamed or read that hopefully will inspire you. In the past we’ve compiled these on different days across different months, but we’re now going to focus on the START of each month. Think of this as more of a ‘highlights reel’ of what we might ordinarily share on social media, jam packed full of suggestions and recommendations to keep you in the loop.
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Eating & Drinking
Well, we’ve been doing a lot of that. As you’ll already have seen in our piece below, we had some news to share at the end of last year about a brand new appointment we’ve been relishing.
So, yes we’ve been eating out a lot and our first two months of national newspaper reviews (Frae, Paradiso, Square, Dela, D’Olier Street, Neighbourhood, The Glass Curtain, and Flout!) are now over on the Sunday Times (subscription offer here). But we’re also scribbling away on some international reviews exclusively for Chip Paper, including a North African spot in London, another little gem in Lisbon and an Asian post office in Stockholm. Plus, for our international reviews we’ve got travel planned already to Scandinavia, the UK and France in the first half of 2022. Watch this space.
We’ve been finding ourselves in Stoneybatter a lot of late, eating at the likes of hole-in-the-wall Korean Table - where the buttery kimchi rice is like the ultimate mélange of South Korea and Ireland - and also L. Mulligan Grocer for their wonderful Sunday lunch offering. Elsewhere in Dublin, we also had a big family catch-up with 12 of Patrick’s cousins at Doolally on Dublin’s Richmond Street which was surprisingly good, too. We hadn’t ever been to any of these three spots.
Just after Christmas we had a gorgeous long-awaited return overnighter to Ballyvolane House –– not solely the location where our favourite gin, Bertha’s Revenge, is produced but also the most wonderful country home, run with total aplomb by Jenny and Justin Greene, whom we adore. We last stayed there in 2018 when, would you believe, it was our very first ever recording of our podcast Chew The Fat! Both dinner and breakfast are so fabulous there, we’d 100% recommend.
In other food adventures, what happens when fear dictates your food decisions and fundamentally changes your experiences? Ever felt that? Patrick wrote (and voiced) the below recently, a highly personal feature about battling back against fear when it threatens even the simplest, most everyday situations, like ordering a coffee…
Watching & Listening
You may remember the very first long-read we shared on this platform last year was all about the binge-worthy nature of competitive cookery reality TV shows. (linked a the end of this section for ease!) Some car crash must-sees and cringe-a-thons, others captivating and cutting-edge… here’s a couple we’ve been watching of late.
Drink Masters on Netflix is seriously big budget (just look at the studio they shoot in!) with no expense spared. It’s all about inventive cocktails and pushing the boat on standard sips by talented mixologists from around the world (including our wonderful friend Natalie from Beautiful Booze). If you’re a keen shaker or home cocktail connoisseur this is the show for you, which even though based around making cocktails has enough ego, shade and competitiveness to keep you enthralled. Even if we weren’t particularly enamoured by the winner, we’d still recommend a watch.
Oh, Gordon Ramsay (“what has he done *this* time?,” we hear you say). Not content with the wacky, off the wall challenges in his other competitive food-based show Future Food Stars (which was arguably a stunning flop), Ramsay is fronting another show, Next Level Chef, which he began in the States and has recreated the concept over the pond with ITV (stream on ITVX). Next Level Chef pits chefs of all abilities, home cooks and amateurs to semi-pros and professional chefs, against one another in a three-tiered stack of kitchens with varying levels of equipment where the ingredients are lowered on an automated dumbwaiter-style platform that only visits each level for 30 seconds at a time. If FFF was more like The Apprentice than MasterChef, this is like The Crystal Maze. Interestingly Ramsay is not loyal to one broadcaster, he’s doing double duty with stints on both the BBC and ITV, very unusual.
Pressure Cooker (stream on Netflix) is Big Brother and Survivor mixed with a little Great British Menu, whereby it’s all professional chefs but they live together in a studio that combines communal living space and a pro kitchen. What we like is that it’s character-led, rather than hosted, so all instructions are communicated via the ticket printer –– landing orders on the chefs just like they’re used to in professional kitchens. What could be very quickly quite tacky actually turns out to be quite enjoyable, even if the way the chefs are eliminated gets more off-the-wall with each episode. It’s *VERY* American, and there’s naturally lots of scheming and tactical voting, but it’s a mindless watch and some good technique and food shown but any real cuisine or finesse shown is ultimately overshadowed by the personality clashes and the scheming to win.
We’ve also been delving into Sveriges Mästerkock (TV4Play) and we’re circling Dan Levy’s The Big Brunch (HBO Max) to watch soon. We’re also, naturally, impatiently awaiting season 15 of MasterChef Australia which is going to be a shorter and quicker season than we’ve known with ten fewer contestants, and is themed ‘Secrets & Surprises’. Unfortunately, rumours suggest an “international celebrity chef” is potentially joining in a semi-permanent fashion, hopefully it’s not the one below… It’s also going to be going out later than in previous years, so expect it to land around our summer time, which is winter Down Under.
Let us know of any great (or painfully bad but must-watch) food-based TV shows you’ve seen of late that you’d recommend!
Love love love a new food tv recommendation. Thank you!!! That's me sorted for a while :) Any idea how we'll go about watching the big brunch in Ireland? I'm a massive fan of Sohla and would love to see it...