Pre Mixed + Bottled Cocktails Are Liquid Evil

Posted on: 27 May 2011 No comments

Unless you’re a sociopathic, heartless wankbag – there will always be the occasional moment where you will be forced to seriously question the collective conscience of the entire human race.  I am referring of course, to the remake of Conan The Barbarian due out this summer. How could anyone be so insensitive by trying to recreate such cinematic genius?  With all conviction and sincerity, I can honestly now say that there is nothing sacred.  There are certain things, that you should just not fuck with. Yet, in my own lifetime, I have witnessed the most horrifying remix of the Fields of Athenry and canned hamburgers.

And just when I heard of Conan’s remake and thought we couldn’t stoop any lower than that, along comes something so vile and soul destroying, it would depress a prozac riddled cheerleader -  draught mojitos on tap.  The evil brainchild of the evil folk over in Diageo, you can now buy this muck over here, in places like The Bleeding Horse for €5.50.

This is such an appalling insult not just to spirit and cocktail lovers, but to bartenders around the world who make hundreds and thousands of these delicious drinks freshly every day.  You cannot pre-manufacture a mojito. It should be zingy, sweet and carry a beautiful aroma and taste of fresh mint. It was bad enough when they started selling them in bottles, but to serve them on tap is beyond brutal.

On Wednesday night, I was at the annual Irish Restaurant Association Awards where Diageo were sponsoring the award for best cocktail experience. This a company whose pre-bottled and pre mixed ranges of alco pop cocktails are effectively destroying that sector of the industry.  That’s just an insult.

As I have said on many occasions before, making cocktails is simple, enjoyable and brings instant gratification. There is never a need to consume any of that pre-made gunk. Here’s a link to a cocktail demonstration I made recently for The Sugar Club. It is a two minute guide in how to make a Long Island Iced Tea, an all time classic party drink that would turn an orphan’s funeral into a 3 day rave. 120 seconds to learn how to make something that you can keep with you forever. Give it a lash.

Long.1

Middle Eastern Yoghurt Soup For Flag Burners & Infidels

Posted on: 20 May 2011 No comments

For the last few days, us Dubs have been involved in a bizarre social experiment.  Due to the security restrictions in place with  Lizzie & Philo’s state visit, we have been temporarily made feel like Palestinians in The Gaza Strip or citizens of Baghdad going anywhere near the green zone. Roads cut off left, right and centre, bag checks in place all over the shop,  civil liberties violated and a relentless barrage of helicopters running amok in our skies 24 fucking 7.

While most people have begrudgingly decided to carry on with their lot under newly imposed restrictions, others have really taken the whole experiment to heart and have even carried out some actions normally seen on Sky News when intrepid journalists are covering Middle Eastern troubles.  We’ve had youths throwing inanimate objects.  We’ve had masked protestors burning public property. We’ve even had a few lads burning flags.  Am I the only one that feels like we’ve been suddenly relocated to downtown Basra lately?

Of course, it hasn’t ended yet. Obama will be here in a couple of days giving a public address on College Green. There’s bound to be some Death To Infidel vibes going down at that and plenty of burning of the American flag.  So seeing as our Police Force and some of our more radical citizens are happy to act like they’re in the Middle East, I reckon now would be as good a time as any to check out what other bits and bobs we can pick up from that volatile region. Like what about wearing yamakahs so that lads can cover up their bald patches? And I’ve always been a strong supporter of burkhas for mingers, both male and female.

All this twaddle is obviously just a lame excuse for me to harp on about a very tasty dish I’ve had lately – a yoghurt soup that is eaten all around the middle east but has it’s origins in Turkey.  Apparently it was one of the many meals that The Ottomans brought with them when they started killing and conquering all of their neighbours, who all still pretty much hate them today.  If only they had a queen and a Greek prince they could send round on a peace + love mission.

YOGHURT SOUP

soup.1

INGREDIENTS:

1.5 litres of beef or chicken stock, whichever you prefer

500 ml of thick Greek or Turkish yoghurt

100 grams of wild rice

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon of flour

1 tablespoon of butter

2 tablespoons of dried mint

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of black pepper

1 teaspoon of crumbled feta cheese per serving

1/2 teaspoon of hot paprika per serving

METHOD:

Melt the butter in a big pot and fry the onion.

Make a bit of roux (a method of thickening sauce)  by taking the pot off the heat and mixing in the flour til it’s all evenly coated. Then you lash in the stock and keep stirring it.

When it’s up at a boil, stir in the rice and most of the mint. Bring down the heat and cover it up for about 15 minutes or until you’re happy with how the rice is.Take the heat down.

Strain any liquid out of the yoghurt by placing it in a muslin or a cheese cloth and pushing out any water. Then you mix about 80% of it into the soup and stir the shite out of it until you have it well blended. Garnish with the remaining mint and stir a little bit of yoghurt into each serving along with some spicy paprika. Garnish with a wee sprig of fresh mint.

Highlights from Don’t Eat Any Irish Week….

Posted on: 13 May 2011 3 comments

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.

walnut1

SPICY TURKISH WALNUT AND POMEGRANATE DIP

INGREDIENTS:

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

METHOD:

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.

yog.1

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.

Basra

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.

Halloumi.3

GRILLED HALLOUMI SALAD WITH DATE SYRUP DRESSING

INGREDIENTS:

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.

METHOD:

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.

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