For over 30 years, The Great Wall takeaway in Blackrock has been a small but constant part of south Dublin nightlife. Generations of us have stumbled in their aluminium and reinforced glass front door to order our post-pints feed. The after-pub crowd would generally be well-behaved if not a bit disrespectful towards the long-suffering Orientals behind the counter.
Once, I asked our server the meaning of the Chinese writing on a wall painting beside the lengthy menu. As he handed us our bags of deep-fried Sweet and Sour Chicken, he told me, with a grin; “You come in, you laugh at us. You leave with the food, we laugh at you.” We all guffawed but something stuck with me and has stayed since.
Here in Dublin, the temptation to find a snug and enjoy a few pints is never far away. We have a long and rich pub tradition. A night spent on the drink in Dublin attracts numerous colloquialisms: “A few scoops.”, the great understatement “A couple of pints.” and my favourite “On the batter”. I have no idea where the expression comes from. Perhaps it refers to where the evening would often conclude? In the chipper, where most things bar the chips are deep-fried in batter.
Just before Christmas, my friend L challenged me to try Cashel Blue cheese against Stilton Blue and to decide on which is the better cheese. His mind was made up and he wanted a second opinion. Being Irish and proud of it, I have my own natural leanings. The Other Half was born in London and she carried a vote too. I reckon that levels the pitch. For complete transparency, I must admit that I did bump into two of the Grubb family (makers of Cashel Blue) at a cheese tasting recently. This had no influence on my decision. I mention it to avoid unfounded accusations of bias.