Saturday, 9 October 2010

Taking it easy

A day without cooking is like a day without sun. Not an ancient and sage saying but the fact that it is Saturday and we do not have school today. Washing in the machine by 6:45 and out of the dryer by 9 so a free day. First up advice on bus etiquette for an American housemate who did not realise that to get a rural bus to stop you have to stand in front of it waving both arms in the universal gesture for STOP!!! Leaning back into the hedge for fear of colliding with the bus and waving as enthusiastically as a 98 year old being removed to a home is unlikely to attract anyones attention unless they are looking for hedgerow fauna. As she did not return shortly after the scheduled departure of the bus I assume that she made the connection.

A quick trip to Midleton to collect essential sustainable and local supplies (Frank Hedermans Salmon and Crab mayonnaise, Arbutus Sourdough Bread, Hard Cheese) and some other stuff like iboprufen (probably not local but essential and sustaining) and the world was, as Del Boy said, "Your Lobster".

Despite the grey day my Zimbabwean, golfing and rugby fanatic, housemate decided that today was the day to visit Kinsale and also to check out the Old Head golf course.

Now the Old Head of Kinsale is a rocky promontory jutting out into the Atlantic with the next nearest bit of land being Boston. As a golf course it costs €150 per round plus the cost of several hundred golf balls lost to the pounding surf some 300 feet below. He did not want to play there but knew of another student who would be. On the way we passed Fota Island another famous golf course where he decided that today was not the day for golf. Personally I thought if it is not the day at sea level, what will be your opinion at cliff top level.

Our approach to Kinsale was marked by the skies becoming even more leaden and the wind racking up a few more points on the Beaufort Scale. Crossing the harbour and heading higher and higher the wind increased and the fog began to come down. When we eventually reached the Old Head it took real strength to open the car doors and small groups of would be walkers and bird spotters huddled wherever the relentless howl and push of the wind could be avoided. Even the wild Goats were nowhere in sight presumably tucked up somewhere and laughing at those stupid bipeds.

35 seconds later and red of cheek and chilled to the bone we were back in the car and heading down hill faster than a Lithuanian luge rider. Desperate for warmth and sustenance we stopped at the first pub which we came to.
What a little Gem. The Spotted Door was a real find.It offered hot food and on a cold day what could be better? and it seemed to be mainly home made or home cooked. What a change from pubs which offer microwaved meals from a menu of such huge variety that, unless they employ 25 chefs, must be pre-cooked and frozen or at least chilled.

Now to me one sign of a good restaurant or pub is one with a blackboard written in chalk and with clear signs of rubbing out. It means that the menu changes and Specials really are Specials not just a subsection of the corporate 100 item menu.

At this stage I should introduce you to King's First Rule of Restaurants. "Never eat in an establishment that has laminated menus." and Rule 2 "Unless it's Breakfast."

For an explanation of Rule 1 see the paragraph above. A laminated menu means that the menu is unchanging and, therefore, neither seasonal or local. How many times do you see "Chef's selection of Market Vegetables" on a menu? And how many times is that Carrot, Cauliflower/Broccoli and mangetout? Where the hell is this market where the chef obtains these vegetables fresh all year round? or has he discovered the secret of instant travel? If he has he is wasted as a chef, surely a major career in science and invention beckons.

 Rule 2 is equally simple. Breakfast is virtually immune from seasonality. Fish is smoked year round, good quality bacon, eggs and sausages are universally available to those who source sensibly. Bread is baked daily so no need for the menu to change.

Right, rant over back to the blog.

Two items immediately stood out on the board. The first a bowl of seafood chowder. Those who know me will be amazed that I have been over in Cork for three weeks and this was to be my first bowl of chowder.

And what a Chowder. Rich and thick this was more of a stew than a soup. Large chunks of fish without too much added (farmed) salmon combined with onion potato and leek in a rich sauce to provide a filling bowl of goodness, the accompanying brown bread and butter proving a great counterpoint. Of course Ballymaloe would not have allowed it to be served, as there was no garnish, but it really did not need one, it did what it said on the board and did it well.

The main course was as simple as possible but better for that. Homemade Black Pudding with Fried Eggs and Chips was just that. Two large slabs of Black Pudding with an egg on each and a bowl of thick cut chips tasted great.

The pudding was simple, blood, oats and herbs set in a tray, sliced and fried crisp outside, meltingly smooth inside and runny fried eggs. Who could ask for more especially on a blustery day?

Lunch over we headed back for more mundane tasks, more washing and the ever present filing. But a good way to spend Saturday.

1 comment:

  1. I can't believe it took you this long to have chowder!!!