Hiatus…and the easiest, tastiest chicken ever

As anyone taking any notice may have realised, this site is taking a little break. Call it a diet, maybe. Normal service to resume at some unspecified future point.


In the meantime, here is the one dish that I probably cook more than any other. It’s more or less from Nigel Slater’s The 30-minute Cook.

Pre-heat oven to 200C. Grease an oven dish with olive oil. Allow one part-boned (skin on) chicken breast per person and place in dish, along with some garlic cloves.

Drizzle olive oil, white wine and lemon juice over the chicken, then grind sea salt and black pepper onto each breast. Scatter plenty of dried Herbes de Provence over them. I remember Slater advises a “scant teaspoon” of the herbs but I’m always generous with everything here from the oil to the herbs. Roast for 35-40 minutes.

Incredibly easy and incredibly delicious. Serve with whatever the hell you like.

Cold plate warms the heart

I finally got out of the house on Saturday, which was a good thing as cabin fever was starting to set in. I had to go up to Lismore in Co Waterford, to do some interviews at the Immrama festival.

Got the interviews out of the way in the morning and having wound up the second one about quarter to one, I suddenly felt very hungry indeed.I knew I would be in Lismore all day – I was going to the sessions of the writers I’d interviewed – so I figured I’d have dinner later in the newly refurbished Lismore House Hotel.

No point in eating there twice I thought so I wandered down the street and went into the first pub I came to – Eamonn’s. Eamonn was behind the counter. I always take it as a good sign to find the person whose name is over the door is also the person dishing out the drinks, whatever about the grub.

Eamonn’s is a proper pub, not very big, kind of old-fashioned but without bicycles hanging on the wall and what I can only describe as all that shite you sometimes get in both rural Irish pubs and mockeeyah Oirish pubs.

“Have you any sandwiches?” I asked Eamonn. He regarded me dolefully. I half-expected him to say “No”. I smiled encouragingly at him. “We have soup and sandwiches,” he said before taking a deep breath and rattling off the full menu.

“We have soup homemade mushroom soup sandwiches toasted sandwiches cold plates you know cold plates with chicken and home-cooked ham or smoked salmon cold plates tea coffee and sweets.”

I don’t know when I last heard anyone refer to dessert as “sweets”. It was rather endearing. I opted for a chicken and ham cold plate and took a seat in the corner.

Maybe it was my copy of The Guardian, my too-trendy glasses or the overall cut of me but Eamonn had his doubts. He came over with cutlery.

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Disappointed in Giles Coren

I’ve long been a fan of Giles Coren but I’ve just seen him in a TV ad for Bird’s Eye. I can’t believe he took the frozen pea shilling. For shame, Giles, for shame.

It’s nearly as bad as Carol Vorderman doing those ads for loan consolidation products.

Should cosmetics smell like food?

Have you noticed how many lotions and potions designed to be applied externally smell like they should be taken internally? You can get strawberry shower gel and coconut shampoo, for example. I’ve just been thinking about this because of some of the birthday presents I got in the last week.

One, from rather lovely friends, was a bottle of Chance by Chanel, which has quite a herby, basil-like kick when first applied. Another was a pot of scrumptious-smelling almond body cream.

I love them both but I’m slightly wary of perfumes and cosmetics that smell like foodstuffs ever since I had a bottle of Joop perfume that was supposed to be redolent of apples.  I think it was called All About Eve.

One of the first times I wore it, I was heading out on the town on a Saturday night. I swanned off down the street, delighted to be enveloped in such a heady scent. On the way to the bar, I bumped into my (male) flatmate, who was heading home. We chatted for a while and, as we said our goodbyes, he leaned in to give me a hug. “Jaysus!” he spluttered. “You stink of cider.”

Slightly too redolent of apples, then.

Mmm…Michelin stars make me happy

Finally, as promised, a run-through of our two-star Michelin experience in France. As I mentioned, we had lunch in L’Oasis in La Napoule near Cannes while on our holliers a few weeks back.

Given that the set lunch menu is €72 a head, I did hmm and haw about booking a table. This was lunch, after all. After a phone call from my brother, in which he howled at the thought that we might not sample Michelin-starred food when it was so nearby, and a conversation with the husband, in which he reasonably pointed out that we had already (a few days earlier) spent €130 on a round of golf for him plus €60 for lunch in the clubhouse afterwards, I booked the table.

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Loving Longueville…now at Mahon Point

Brief pause for a commercial break…

…Well, not quite but I would like to give a plug to Aisling and William from Longueville House, who are now selling lots of goodies at the Mahon Point Farmers’ Market every Thursday from 10am to 2pm. These include preserves & chutney, honey from their own bees, house smoked salmon, wild game terrines, lamb sausage, olive savoury cake, herb infused vinaigrettes, pesto, fruit liqueurs, chocolates & jellies. Yum, yum and more yum.

Plus William is happy to dole out tips on preparation and cooking to anyone visiting the stand and that has to be worth the price of some chutney. He’s a hell of a chef – am salivating at the memory of wood pigeon I had there over 18 months ago.

So pay the stand a visit if you’re in the area or, better again, go to Longueville. It’s one of those died-and-went-to-heaven places that is so worth going to.

The most mouthwatering market

I know I’ve been promising reports on the food in France, not to mention the healthy eating recipes but I’m zonked after a week of celebrating (?!?) turning 30, culminating in an until-all-hours party last night.

So instead, here are pix from the drool-inducing Cours Saleya market in Nice. This is how all markets should be – a riotously colourful offering of every type of fruit and veg you could imagine and more besides. I should really go to the trouble of writing about this but brain is porridge.

No time to cook, never mind write

Just posting to say, yes, I’m still here and, yes, I’m still eating, although so busy I’m not really cooking. (Dinner tonight was a toasted sandwich with hummus, tomato and chorizo – a raiding-the-fridge job – a natural yogurt and, how gluttonous am I, a whole 100g Green & Blacks milk chocolate bar.)

Have loads to report as was in France for 10 days and ate like a queen (cake and everything else besides). We even made it to a two-star Michelin restaurant! Once I get some time and figure out how to upload photos from the new camera, I will report in full. Short report: Fab. Delicious. Verging on the orgasmically good.

Have even more to report as then embarked on a complete health kick when I got home (minor slip-up there earlier on the chocolate front) so have lots of healthy recipes to post too.

My little green babies

Yes, I am so pathetically proud of my little seedlings that I took pictures of them with my phone (hence the risible quality). I would have used our camera had it not been stolen by a nasty baggage handler some months ago. Mental note: must buy another one.

Day-old thyme…altogether now, awww…


Here’s the basil, slightly hardier-looking…


And out in the garden, a row of infant rocket. Aren’t they cute? I feel bad for planning to eat them eventually.


Take it away, Fish To Go people

Regular visitors to the English Market in Cork may have noticed there is a new stall next to K. O’Connell’s fish stand. It’s called Fish To Go or possibly Fish2Go. Anyway, it sells prepared seafood like cooked prawns, fish patés, terrines and so on.

I was feeling a bit lazy yesterday evening and felt like just getting lots of tasty bits and pieces for a salad ie no cooking required. I got crab claws cooked with chilli and garlic and fresh sardines done with lemon, mint and I think parsley. Both were just delicious and sang of summer to me.

The sardines cost about €2.40 for four and 10 or 12 crab claws came in at a slightly eye-watering €7.50. Still, they were worth it considering all the effort I didn’t have to go to preparing them.

I once tried to extract all the meat from a cooked crab and found it a tortuous experience. The details are distressing but let’s just say that I ended up retching in the corner of the kitchen, clutching a fork in one hand and a hammer in the other. No, the Fish2Go/To Go way is much easier…