For the last few days, I have been made feel like one of those publicly exposed paedophiles whose names and addresses have been printed in a tabloid newspaper. And it’s all down to this whole Eat Only Irish Week that’s been taking place since Monday. When one of my For Food’s Sake colleagues said that she would be fully partaking in the food experiment, I thought it would be interesting to approach it from a different perspective. Hence my Don’t Eat Any Irish Week angle. As I had said previously on our blog:
Why did I decide to take this approach? There are three main reasons:
1. Aisling already said she was going to do it and I didn’t see the point in the two of us conducting the same experiment.
2. We all thought it would be interesting for one of us to find out what day to day products we consume that aren’t from domestic soil.
3. I am a spineless chicken-shit and would probably have multiple, melodramatic mickey fits if I had a whole week without rice, pasta, noodles and all things lovely and foreign
But nobody seemed to bother their lazy ass hoops reading any of that and just instantly went into attack mode via texts, emails, phone calls, online comments and random encounters on the street. Apparently, not eating any local grub during Eat Only Irish Week is the food lover’s equivalent of burning the tricolor outside the GPO on Easter Sunday. So for the record, my abstaining from Irishfood this week is not supposed to be an open act of treason against our people. I still love battterburgers, pints, hurling and I haven’t sold my passport to terrrorists.
The whole experiment is meant to wrap up this Sunday night so in terms of overall experiences, I should really wait til then to share any thoughts. However, there’s obviously been plenty of daycent eatin’ so far and I’d be more than happy to share some of those findings.
By far the best thing I’ve tasted all week has been the spicy Turkish Walnut and Pomegranate Dip. I took it from a Turkish recipe book a friend bought me and modified it to give it more kick and belly. I initially made it to accompany some deep fried cheese filled filo pastries. It tastes absolutely amazing – like a nuttier, more zingy, very spicy humus. You can buy all of the ingredients in any halal shops. The pastries and a whole heap of other Turkish treats can be got from a shop called Elit on Liffey Street. Yer man there is totally sound as well, cool bloke.
SPICY TURKISH WALNUT AND POMEGRANATE DIP
150 grams of walnuts
2 teaspoons of harissa
150 ml of extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons of pomegranate syrup
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon of salt
100 ml of pomegranate juice
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
Toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan until they colour slightly. Then throw them and everything else into a blitzer. Sorted.
I also had this dip for breakfast this morning with a flatbread wrap and some yoghurt. I promised to keep some for a couple of friends of mine, not sure if I can make good on that now.
My other culinary highlight was yesterday’s Halloumi Salad with Date Syrup dressing. A couple of weeks ago I was drawn to the syrup when I saw it’s branding. Purchasing an Iraqi product had a certain degree of intrigue about it.
I was very much let down when I got home and saw that it was produced in Holland. It tastes like a more mellow molasses with a dark ruby red colour. After mixing it with red wine vinegar and olive oil, I came up with a pretty fuckin wicked vinaigrette. Darn good for cutting through something really meaty and salty like halloumi, the Cypriot cheese.
GRILLED HALLOUMI SALAD WITH DATE SYRUP DRESSING
1 block of Halloumi cheese – I have seen this in many supermarkets but you can definitely get it in the Halal shops
1/2 an aubergine, sliced thinly with a mandolin. Chargrill or plain grill each slice
1/2 a yellow pepper, sliced thinly – use a mandolin if you have one
2 sticks of celery sliced thinly in a diagonal cut
1 can of chick peas
1 tablespoon of chipotle chilli powder – you can get this in Fallon & Byrne or from Taco Taco in The Epicurean Food Hall on Liffey Street
2 tablespoons of date syrup, 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and 1 tabelspoon of red wine vinegar. Whisk them well for the dressing.
Heat up a frying pan without any oil in it. Slice the halloumi and fry it up til it’s golden.
Drain the chick peas and in the same pan, heat them up til they’re dry. Then lash in the chipotle powder and make sure it spreads evenly round the chick peas.
You can cut the halloumi up into smaller bits if you want or leave them in bigger chunks. Mix them up with the chick peas and celery in a nice salad bowl and then arrange the sliced peppers and aubergine around it. Finish it off by drizzling the dressing on.