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Food

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.

Not my usual way to start a post but circumstance has forced my hand. My two grown-up (in age only) daughters were having a conversation in the way that only the female of the species can. L (the elder) looks up from typing on her computer and says “It’s great that Laura and Paddy are coming to dinner on Sunday.” Without lifting her head from deep study of Facebook, S (the younger) replies; “Who the hell is Lord Paddington?” Now, just over a week hence, my nurse niece Laura and her fireman boyfriend Paddy have become forever the single entity “Lord Paddington”. 

For centuries now Fortnum & Mason have made and sold some of the most delicious foods available on these islands. They even pioneered some populist fare. A number of decades ago, that bastion of fine British food was the first retailer to stock and sell Mr Heinz’s now ubiquitous baked beans.

My love of Oriental cooking came from a period in my working life when I ate in Chinese restaurants at least once a week. I have spent over 30 years in advertising and during the late 80s and early 90s, I would dine out, often in excellent Chinese restaurants including  the Orchid Szechuan on Dublin’s Pembroke Road or in the Imperial on Wicklow Street (great for Dim Sum). In those days, it was perfectly normal enjoy a three course meal with wine (often lots of wine) for lunch on an almost daily basis. Those habits have been diminished by time, social convention and economic change but my love of oriental fare and cooking have not been eroded.

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