What We're Reading, Eating & Watching | October 26th
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. Think of this as more of a ‘highlights reel’ of what we might ordinarily share on social media; the Greatest Hits of that particular month, perhaps! In fact, we’re finding ourselves sharing less and less on social media these days - a combination of exhaustion and frustration at platforms gatekeeping content from interested audiences, and, well, just exhaustion in general.
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Eating & Drinking
Since we last updated you we’ve been all the way down to Dingle and back. We packed the car, picked up Laura Bradley (of Indie Füde fame) and headed for Dingle to attend the annual Blas na hÉireann awards, plus the Dingle Food Festival. Always a highlight of our calendar, we spent almost a week down there, breaking up the journey down with a stop at Daddy’s Cafe (see our most recent review, below) and The Bakery by the Cupcake Bloke - both in Rialto - followed by The Old Barracks in Birdill, Tipperary, and finally Báinín in Annascaul.
In An Daingean itself we ate in Solas Tapas [which sadly didn’t impress us as much as it had before. Maybe an off day? Some others raved about their experience and menu choices on other evenings that week], The Fish Box (two days in a row, so, so good) and also headed out to Tigh Bhric (West Kerry Brewery). We ventured to Ventry to the iconic Síopa Uí Lúing and also ate our way around the Taste Trail during the Dingle Food Festival all weekend. Copious pints consumed, of course, we’ll write up a whole love letter to Dingle imminently to share with you featuring all our favourites.
Of course, didn’t we somehow find ourselves back in Lignum, outside Loughrea in East Galway, last week only after having eaten there earlier this year and most recently published a review here. Haven’t read it yet? Click through below, as it delves into our very first misstep with Lignum where we walked out mid-way through the meal…
Elsewhere, last weekend we took a family trip with the Hanlons to Kilkenny, rented a little Airbnb in Stoneyford (right beside Knockdrinna where they make cheese and also have a fabulous cafe) and made our way to Arán, en route. The award-winning bakery and cafe (and recent Supreme Champion of Blas na hÉireann 2022) has been in our sights for ages but we’ve not been in or through Kilkenny in a couple of years, so we stuffed our car with all manner of breads and pastries to sustain us all through the weekend.
Whilst there we tipped 25 minutes down the road to Momo in Waterford, which is always beautiful and Kamila is the ultimate hospitality host, an incredible presence leading such a lovely team. We always have a wonderful time there. En route back to the Wee County we veered off path to The Green Barn at Burtown House & Gardens, just outside Athy. We’ve eaten here three or four times in the past and it’s always been wonderful –– stunning dishes with much of the produce from their own gardens served in a truly beautiful setting. Well worth coming off the M9 and making a bee-line for it when you’re passing this part of the world.
We finally made it to Food on the Edge this month, and spent two days in a tent in Airfield Estate listening to so many amazing chefs, writers, restaurateurs, sommeliers, winemakers, managers, teachers and more. Each one sharing experience, advice, viewpoints, manifestos and musings on the food industry as well as some difficult points raised and also challenges urged.
Some notable talks that stand out included Carolyn Steel, Joshna Maharaj, Dan Saladino, two of our fellow Blasta Books authors Lily Ramirez-Foran and Jess Murphy, our publisher Kristin Jensen, two Michelin-starred chef Damien Grey, Rasmus Munk of Copenhagen’s two-star Alchemist and the amazing Alice Zaslavsky all the way from Australia –– who we’ve had a crush on for YEARS and simply bathe in every book she writes. It was also an amazing opportunity to check out their ‘Producer Village’ too, with over 70 Irish producers in attendance across the two days, plus so much delicious food from Overends Kitchen and also Bread 41. Our goal in attending was simply “listen, and learn” — and that we did, drinking it all in.
If, like us, you’ve been permanently getting the popcorn out whilst observing the political chaos that’s been unfolding this year across the Irish Sea, you’ll probably already be aware of The News Agents from Global. Definitely one for the political nerds, it’s led by Jon Sopel, Emily Maitliss and Lewis Goodall with daily weekday episodes covering the big stories of what’s happening that day in UK politics and current affairs with tonnes of commentary between the comrades, too. It’s refreshing to hear political journalism heavyweights in a different light, without the restraint required when part of behemoth broadcasters. Listen on Spotify, Apple and Global Player.
Another UK-based podcast we’re loving is Off Air with Jane and Fi, the former Fortunately… faves (on BBC Sounds) turned Times Radio recruits who now broadcast live on Times Radio Monday to Thursday (3-5pm), of which, the main features and interviews are condensed into this podcast in a shorter form. You’ll always learn and you’ll always laugh when listening to them. They make excellent company on a long drive. Listen on The Times and Apple.
Handbags at the ready, every Friday evening tune in at 7pm for two hours of pure camp classics from Michelle Visage on BBC Radio 2. The RuPaul’s Drag Race judge (and former Strictly and Celebrity Big Brother contestant) presents two of the most joyful hours of music radio we could ever imagine. It’s got disco, dance, pop and R'n'B, bangers aplenty, and even forgotten hits, too. We tune in every week.
Now for something totally different… we listened to the debut episode of Emer & Esther’s Sunday Roast by Emer McLysaght and Esther “Two Names” O’Moore-O’Donoghue. The premise being: carvery reviews across Dublin, and maybe beyond. If you love a pub roast you’ll adore the detail here. Scoring the “roast, host and the Holy Ghost”, we’re excited to keep listening and be privy to the best plate in Dublin!
We’re delighted to see John & Sally McKenna of McKenna Guides join the Substack network and we subscribed annually in an instant. The McKennas are the oracles of Irish food and the highest authorities in Irish food writing — there’s little they don’t know about what’s going on, what’s coming up and what’s already happened, and we’re so excited to get regular writing from them both and their team direct to our inbox and in our Substack app. Sign up and support them, as they’ve continuously supported us.
In the world of cookbooks, we’re mid-way through about ten of them right now. A mix of ordered ourselves or dropped to our door, some total stand-outs among them are full of authentic stories, interesting angles and, vitally, really delicious recipes. We’ll summarise them shortly - either here or on gastrogays.com - as is the expectation around this pointy end of the year! On the subject, though, our great friend Graham Herterich (the aforementioned “Cupcake Bloke”) has published his debut cookbook Bake and it’s been nominated for the An Post Cookbook of the Year award and we’d love if you could vote for him and his beautiful book. It takes 60 seconds and all you need is an email –– and you can just vote in the cookbook category if you like!
‘Til next time… Happy reading and eating! P&R
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