Nialler9’s Winning Burger + My Classic Daiquiri

Posted on: 29 July 2011 No comments

Throughout the ages, there have been many ways to measure the full extent of one’s manliness. For some reason or other, they have usually involved mass murder.  Like how many enemy scalps  could an Apache Warrior muster up on the battlefield. Nepalese fighters used to collect the severed heads of their foes, until they became too cumbersome, so they decided just to chop off their ears.  There is a village in Colombia where teenage males have to fuck a donkey if they are to prove themselves as real men. I shit you not.

Round these parts, in today’s age anyway, it’s a whole lot easier.  A boy becomes a man when he drinks his first flagon and can pretty much maintain that honour, provided he supports an English soccer team/watches Top Gear and fantasizes about airhead wags. For many others such as my dear self, who don’t like Limey footie and Jeremy Clarkson, there are other ways to suss out one’s blokey skills. Like, can you get some lumps of minced meat and magically turn them into something delicious? That’s why I thought it would be a bit of craic to stage a burger cook off, to test the nouveau geezer skills of two lads by the name of Eoin Butler and Niall Byrne. The fact that one from was from The Irish Times and the other from The Indo made it all the more interesting. A Broadsheet Burger Battle Royale, as it were, except the two lads were far too sound and civilized for it to get really nasty. Maybe next time I should stage a healthy salad cook off between U Magazine and Woman’s Way – that would be a savage bitch slap.

The Cook Off was all part of last night’s For Food’s Sake event. It was a lot of fun, the next one is on September 29th and we’re gonna screen another movie – suggestions welcome!


Myself and the two lads during the cook off. It was emotional.

Niall Byrne (Nialler9) had the winning burger and it was excellent, although I would have happily devoured Eoin’s one too – but as he was the loser his forfeit was to sing a Karaoke song in front of the whole audience. It was “Saturday Night” by Whigfield, and there was barely a dry eye in the house.

Anyhoop, Niall was good enough to share his winning recipe.  I would recommend a nice classic daiquiri to go with it. Here’s me showing you how to make one in under 2 minutes.




Tablespoon lemon juice
2 tbsp pine nuts
2 tsp parsley
Half tsp ground coriander & cumin
1 teaspoon  salt
1.5 pounds of lamb mince (will make four)
Blend the ingredients in a food processor and then add enough lamb mince for 4 burgers (1.5pounds) . Mix and shape into patties.

1 cup of Greek yogurt
1/4 cup of Mint & Coriander
1 Garlic bulb grated
1 tbsp Lemon juice
Small amount of Harissa sauce  (add to taste for chili heat)
Salt & pepper

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate.
Grill burgers in a saucepan with a little oil and serve on sesame seed buns with rocket and lettuce.

Paul Flynn’s Bacon Collar

Posted on: 22 July 2011 No comments

Picture the scene. A very formal annual gala in The Burlington Hotel a couple of months ago for  The Irish Restaurant Association Awards.  There was a particularly nice, 5 course meal laid out. Each of the 5 courses was created and cooked by 5 different chefs who in turn had to introduce their course on the stage in front of 500 attendants, who were all in tuxedos and posh frocks.

From my own experience, when you hand a mic to a chef in front of an audience, one of three things will happen:

1. They will be shy as fuck, stumble over every word and make a complete dog’s mickey (or should it be dinner?) of their speech.

2. They will be a wee bit tipsy/blind drunk and suddenly realize that the sound of their own voice excites them as much as seeing their name on a menu and won’t shut the fuck up.

3.  They will go on a total promowhore-fest by listing off every single item on their menu and tell everyone about the price of  every  special offer they’ve ever done.

Most of the chefs who spoke that night fell into one of the 3 categories. Except for a certain Waterford lad named Paul Flynn of The Tannery Resturant & Cooking School.  After he briefly told everyone about the soup he made (chilled almond and garlic) he thanked the Association for giving him the opportunity to cook that night for such an esteemed crowd and then said:

“Now that I’ve got your attention folks, I would really like to take the time to share with you, some deep and meaningful thoughts that have kept me going throughout the years….”

He then launched into:

“We don’t have to take our clothes off, to have a good time. (PAUSE) We can dance and party, all night (PAUSE) and drink some…cherry wine.  (LONG PAUSE) Na-Na-Na-Na-Na-Na- (PAUSE) Na – Na- Na-Na-Na.”

Never before, have the words of Jermaine Stuart ever had such a poignant resonance.  There seemed to be a few in the room who didn’t get it. I guess there’s no accounting for those who don’t know their 80’s tunes. Losers.  But the point is, Paul Flynn is fucking deadly. He stole the show by cracking a particularly good gag.

His Dungarvan establishment is well known, not just for it’s fine cuisine but for the many who picked up excellent cookery lessons there where he is known for imparting love and knowledge for fresh, well made Irish fare. And you can see that in his latest RTE 1 programme, Paul Flynn: Irish Food. It’s been on the last few weeks at 7pm and I for one have been really enjoying it. There’s no bullshit with him. The food is all really appealing, yet very approachable and affordable.  Highlights for me so far have his lamb shank stew and the iced meringue cake with lemon curd.

He’s also shown the viewers how to take classic Irish meals and give them a modern twist, as you can see from his recipe below for bacon collar. Anyhoo, he’ll be in The Sugar Club next Thursday for the third installment of For Food’s Sake – a bi monthly night of food tasting and discussion. Paul will be on a panel that includes: Helen McDaid, Food and Hospitality Innovation Manager, Failte Ireland, Birgitta Curtin, Burren Smokehouse, Burren Eco-Tourism Network & Burren Slow Food Festival Hugo Arnold, food writer, restaurant consultant & advisor to Good Food Ireland. The topic of discussion will be: FOOD TOURISM – Can Ireland eat it’s way out of trouble?

After the discussion, Paul will be chatting to the food writer Aoife Carrigy about his life’s work and continues to inspire him.   There will also be loads of tasty FREE food to be had at the back of the club and I will be staging an Irish Times vs Irish Independent Burger Cook Off.

It would be great if you could join us. It’s only a fiver in and kicks off at 7pm. Facebook invite here.



Ingredients for the Bacon:
1.5kg bacon collar
1 onion
1 carrot
1 bay Leaf

Ingredients for the Mash:
Freshly grated nutmeg
Salt & pepper

Ingredients for the Slaw:
1 carrot
1 red onion
3 sticks celery
Half fennel bulb
Half raw beetroot
150ml vinaigrette (Basic vinaigrette is 3 parks sunflower oil, 1 part olive oil, 1 part vinegar, mustard & honey)


Method for the Bacon: Place bacon, onion, carrot, bay leaf & peppercorns in a large pot and cover well with water.

Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 1.5 to 2 hours until a knife can be inserted without too much resistance.

Method for the Mash: To make the soft mash, prepare mash as usual but be more generous with the cream and butter to achieve a rich and soft mash.

Method for the Slaw: For the slaw thinly slice all the vegetables and dress with vinaigrette and season.

Allow to infuse for 20 – 30 minutes.

Five Wild Irish Cocktails

Posted on: 15 July 2011 7 comments

Mechanics might look at a car part and ask themselves, “How can this new device here make an automobile run better?”

Porn stars probably look at sex toys and ponder, “Would this vibrating pink leather whip make my next scene look more kinky?”

I often see ingredients on a shelf and think to myself, “I wonder would that work in a cocktail and how fucked up would it make me?”

Not so long ago, I started having more and more of those types of thoughts. They were brought on by an encounter I had with the chef, Enda McEvoy. He heads up The Cook Wild Project, where people get together to forage for fresh ingredients round Ireland and cook them up in wicked meals.

Enda also had a stint in Noma in Copenhagen, now regarded as the world’s no. 1 restaurant. Every morning, all the chefs hit the local woodland and beach areas on the hunt for produce that they use that very day on the menu.

Back in May, Enda was invited to The Sugar Club by the For Food’s Sake crew to give a chat about his work in Noma and what he’s been up to since then. When he started talking about the large array of local wild produce here, I said to meself, “I wonder would that work in a cocktail and how fucked up would it make me?”

So when the time came for me to come with up five cocktails for a competition, I decided I would endeavour to find some wild Irish ingredients and incorporate them into some tasty mixed beverages. Yet when you’re a total urban degenerate such as I, there were certain restrictions. Like how the hell am I gonna be able to find wild, unfarmed delights when I’m stuck in town 99% of the time? But luckily for me, help was at hand with some great friends. Ed Hick had given me a 2 litre bottle of elderflower cordial recently. He had picked the flowers around Bray head. He also gave me some wicked Sloe gin with sloe berries that were picked in Inismaan back in October and had been sitting in the gin since then, drool…..! And as if that weren’t enough, he had just been down in Wicklow picking wild frockens, otherwise known as wild bilberries or blueberries and gave me a big punnet of them. I had never tasted these before and it was a revelation, they’re like more intense blueberries and right now is the perfect season to pick them, all round Ireland. Free blueberries that normally have to be flown in from Chile? Nice!

I also badgered, pestered and seriously wrecked the heads of my For Food’s Sake colleague Aisling Rogerson, Karen Liston, Liam @ Evergreen, the aforementioned Enda McEvoy and many, many others on Facebook and Twitter. Between all of them, I managed not just to get fantastic advice but I scored some Juniper berries and pine needles from Tipperary and home grown rhubarb from Rialto.

Once I had all ingredients at hand, I set about fusing them all with lovely bits of gargoyle – namely ABSOLUT Vodka, Jameson Whiskey, Cork Dry Gin, Havana Club 3 Year Old and Mumm Champagne. I am quite chuffed with the results. Meeting Enda and learning about his approach to food was very enlightening.  All I wanted to do with the drinks below was to incorporate some of what he had imparted onto us that night and celebrate amazing wild Irish produce.



Apparently the juniper berries and pine needles I used in this wee drink,  came from trees along the shores of Lough Derg in Tipperary.  I hope that’s nowhere near where Féile used to take place, as that area must be still be an environmental catastrophe.

Half the berries were soaked in Cork Dry Gin and the other half were pickled in malt vinegar. The pine needles were infused with sugar syrup, they counteract the coriander syrup really well.


- 5 gin soaked juniper berries

- 5 pickled juniper berries

- 50ml of Cork Dry Gin

- 50ml of de-carbonated Schweppes tonic water

- 15ml of coriander seed syrup

- 15ml of pine needle syrup

- Maldon smoked sea salt


- Chill martini glass.

- Lightly muddle juniper berries with the two syrups, just for about 10 seconds.

- Rim the martini glass with some pine needle syrup and then some smoked sea salt.

- Add the gin, tonic and some ice into the shaker. Shake vigorously.

- Double strain into the glass, serve.



A week rarely goes by in my house where we don’t dine on some of Hick’s pork products. Ed and his brother Bren make the best sausages in Ireland and cure and smoke amazing bacon and ham. Ed is also mad keen on wild Irish ingredients. This is what I did with the elderflower cordial that I didn’t demolish after Body & Soul.

The Bunratty Mead is a honey based liqueur. Together with the elderflower they balance the sharp, salty preserved lemon. The whiskey gels it all together to make a very Irish, sweet and slightly savoury  cocktail.


- 35ml of wild Irish elderflower cordial (you can buy some if you can’t pick the flowers and make your own)

- 50ml of Jameson

- 25ml of Bunratty Mead

- 1 slice of preserved lemon (you can get these in Halal shops)


- Chill a martini glass with some ice.

- Cut the lemon into small pieces, remove any pips.

- Place lemon in shaker with elderflower cordial and stir quickly.

- Pour the whiskey and mead into the shaker, drop in some ice and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds.

- Strain and pour. If you prefer not to have any little bits of lemon, double strain it.



The people of Ireland have been enjoying frockens/bilberries/fraughans for centuries. In fact, there is an old Pagan tradition to go foraging for them on the last Sunday in July, when they are at their peak. That’s only a week away folks, so you have been warned.

I am happy to say that they go beautifully with Havana Club 3 Year Old rum. Ordinarily, one would use a sugar  to sweeten a daiquiri but for this one, I stayed more local and opted for Highbank Orchard syrup. Aisling practically lived on this gear when she did the Eat Only Irish Week, it tastes fucking deadly and made with their own homegrown apples.


- 2 tablespoons of frockens (they are all over Ireland at the moment)

- 35ml of Havana club 3 Year Old

- 20ml of Highbank Orchard Syrup

- 10ml of freshly squeezed lime juice

- honeysuckle to garnish


- Combine all ingredients in a blender with about 4 ice cubes. Blitz and pour.

- Garnish with some fuchsia honeysuckle.



Sloe berries that were picked on the Aran Islands back in October and immediately placed in Cork Dry Gin. If the very thought of that doesn’t give you a mouth-gasm, then go fuck a duck.

I was extremely careful about how to approach this AMAZING Sloe Gin. The teeniest drops were added to various bits and bobs, eventually I discovered that it compliments nice cloudy apple juice really well.


- 50ml of Sloe Cork Dry Gin

- 5 gin soaked sloeberries

- 25ml of ABSOLUT

- 50ml of Highbank Apple Juice (or other Irish pressed apple juice)

- 10 ml of Highbank Orchard syrup


- Muddle two sloe berries with the syrup very lightly for just a couple of seconds in your shaker.

- Combine with ice and all other ingredients.

- Shake for 30 seconds.

- Pour into a small rock glass and garnish with 3 speared sloe berries.



This was as local as I could get for a champagne cocktail – rhubarb from a garden in Rialto and elderflower from Bray. There’s a little bit of ABSOLUT in there to liven it up a tad.  In fact, adding vodka to anything is always a capital idea in my book.

There will be enough here to do you for the whole bottle of bubbly.


- 1 stick of Irish rhubarb, very much in season at the moment

- 70 ml of wild Irish elderflower cordial (you can buy some if you can’t pick the flowers and make your own)

- 70 ml of ABSOLUT vodka

- 1 chilled bottle of Mumm Champagne


- Get a blender and blitz the rhubarb, elderflower and vodka into a puree.

- Place a tablespoon of the puree into a champagne flute and top it up with the bubbly, a little bit at a time.

- Garnish each glass with a small stick of fresh rhubarb.

If you have any questions about any of these, do please let me know. I’d be happy to do my best to answer them or tell you to just hit google.

There will be a public vote on this cocktail competition, so be prepared for a fuckload of spam coming your way from me. Apologies in advance, but the prize is a week long intense training course with the Bar Smarts lads in NY. They are the world’s leading spirits experts and I happen to think they are legendary demigods. The course ordinarily costs $10k so it would be deadly to get it!



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