Enda McEvoy’s Pickled Mackerel

Posted on: 31 May 2012 1 comment

After so many years of hanging out and working with morally corrupt  degenerates, I am always amazed when I can actually learn something. Last Saturday was a prime example.

There I was, plodding along the walkway of Seapoint Beach,  sunburnt to bits, hungover and nursing a 99. Something sticking out of the wall grabbed my attention. A wee plant with some flowers on it. Ordinarily, I never would have even noticed anything like this. But I had just recently spent about two hours on the seaside hills of Inishowen in the company of Enda McEvoy, head chef of Aniar Restaurant in Galway and forager, extraordinaire. As attendees of Inishfood he very kindly walked us round a beach and showed us what bits of wild edible plants and flowers were around us. One of which had the very catchy name, scurvy grass. Enda told us that Captain Cook would take some with him on sea voyages for it’s specific healing properties. And out of nowhere I could have sworn there was some dangling on a wall in Dun Laoighre. Took a snap and tweeted it to Enda. He confirmed my suspicion. It was indeed, the auld horseradish tasting – scurvy grass.


Seapoint Scurvy Grass Baby! – As Eamon Dunphy might say

I was dead fucking chuffed. Whowouldathunkit? I actually learned something.

Enda is the kind of chef that we need to be paying serious attention to. He spent six months working in Copenhagen working at NOMA, what is now commonly regarded as the world’s best restaurant. One of the key unique selling points of NOMA, is the fact that their chefs head out every day to forage in their local area, looking for the freshest, most natural wild ingredients to put on their menu that day. Enda does this too. He heads out at least 4 times a week around his hood in Galway, the best of what he finds goes on to the Aniar menu.

It was a cool buzz hanging out with him and it’s even cooler that he’s shared such a wicked seasonal recipe with us this week.  He uses wild elderflower in it which is all over the shop at the moment. Another ingredient is wild horseradish, which is also all over the shop at the moment too but harder to find. If you can’t get some, I guess you could use a small amount of horseradish cream, just don’t tell Enda.

Many thanks to him for his time this week, something that he never seems to have a lot of, being so busy and all! He hadn’t even seen the maddest video to ever come out of his newly adopted city, the infamous WHO’S THE SEXY GARDA? Or maybe he just doesn’t like watching videos outside Supermacs.



Just for the craic, I decided not to edit in any way, what Enda mailed me. Ordinarily I break up a recipe between ingredients, method and suggestions. But this seemed to flow a lot better and I am most certainly not the kind of schmuck who should ever fuck with a great chef’s recipe.


5 fresh mackerel fillets

pickle mix:

250g cider vinegar

125g water

90g sugar

20 caraway seeds

Simmer till sugar is dissolved and cool down completely.

Half red onion finely sliced

50g horseradish microplaned (this is a device for very finely shredding something like horseradish roots, you can get it one in catering stores, but you can also use a cheese grater)

Bunch of dill chopped

Spread mix over fish and pour marinade over fish. Pickle fish for 1 hour and remove from marinade till it’s at a point between cooked and raw.

Reserve marinade. Trim the loins off the fillet carefully keeping a natural shape and avoiding bones. Strip the small film off the skin. Refrigerate.

Pickle cucumber

1 cucumber

50g cider vinegar

30 g water

10 dill stalk

Slice cucumber into 2 cm thick coins. Punch rounds out of cucumber with a cookie cutter. Compress all ingredients together in a vac PAC under full pressure. Pickle for 5 mins. (if you don’t have a vac pac yoke, just let them sit together for an hour so instead)

Arrange fish naturally on a plate, arrange pickled cucumber and strips and curls of raw cucumber around the fish. Sprinkle some fresh elderflower and sea arrow grass around the fish. Split some of the marinade with some dill oil and dress the plate with this. Serve with some good rye bread

Inishfood & The Bernard Shaw

Posted on: 25 May 2012 No comments

When you go to Italy and eat Italian food, you drink local Italian wine. The same applies for you when you’re France, Spain and Portugal. If you’re over in Germany and you’ve got a plate of schnitzel and sauerkraut in front of you, the chances are, you’ll be drinking beer. So why is it that when you go to an Irish restaurant to eat Irish food, you’re offered bottles of manky, overpriced Chilean shite vino? Since when did it become the standard over here to quaff down poxy Mont Gras with an Irish chowder and kick ass steak,  when you should be lashing back local drinks with local food?

This was a point that was raised up in Inishfood last weekend, albeit with far more subtlety and politeness. On Saturday, we dined on an exquisite meal in Harry’s that was made up of  fish caught in Inishowen, beef and lamb from Inishowen and veg that they grew in their own garden. All of the food was of the highest calibre and it was complimented beautifully by beers and ales that were all Irish. That’s what the Irish hospitality needs to be doing more of. Buying what’s best from the land, for all of their menus. Not only does it provide the obvious flow of business but it highlights to consumers everywhere, that our terroir for food and drinks has it’s own unique identity and can be packaged collectively.


The Langoustine is the Dirk Diggler of Food Porn. This one was steamed in seaweed and it was fucking lovely.

With that bit of proverbial steam let off, I’d like to fill you in on what else went down at Inishfood. All in all, the festival was a really nice, chilled out experience of great chats, discussions, demos, bits of skill sharing and plenty of grub and booze. The For Food’s Sake event that my esteemed colleague Aoife Carrigy chaired was brilliant. I personally learned more about the ins and out of Irish fish in that one hour than I have in years.


For Food’s Sake Asks: What Is The Future Of Irish Fish? – From left – Seamus Sheridan of Sheridan’s Cheese,  Amy Caviston of A Cavistion Fishmongers Greystones, Michael Cavanagh local skipper with Green Isle and Chairperson of Foyle Fishermen’s Group, Elena Piana of Goatsbridge Trout Farm and Aoife Carrigy of Holy Mackerel.ie.

We all got to see a true master at work with Hayden Lambert’s cocktail demo and my own one on Irish made cocktail ingredients made good use of the lovely Tyrconnell Whiskey.


Hayden Lambert – very cool guy, ranked 6th best mixologist on the planet and like my dear self, a lover of the old fashioned cocktail.

Throughout all of Saturday there was an outstanding demo on sourdough breadmaking given by a French lad called Thibault Peigne. This was quite spectacular as they brought in a gargantuan to bake it all in a space that was temporarily positioned in front of the bar. The smell coming from it was intoxicating.

On Sunday morning we regrouped and gathered at a farm that’s directly across the road from Harry’s. Ella McSweeney was able to tell us all about native Irish cattle, with the visual aid of some, well,  native Irish cattle funnily enough. And we all got to taste some too!

Then we popped down to the beach to do some foraging with John and Sally McKenna of The Bridgestone Guide and Enda McEvoy from Aniar Restuarant in Galway. This was all really informative and was akin to getting a serious masterclass from great experts. Here’s just some of what we uncovered.


This is Sea Thrift – the petals have a honeysuckle taste


This is Horse Thrift – it had a nutty but asparagus like taste.


This is the brilliantly named Scurvy Grass – the tiniest amount of the petals gives you a massive whack of Horseradish

I had an absolutely wicked time at Inishfood. A deadly festival hosted by really cool people in the outstanding setting of Inishowen, Donegal. Massive respect to Donal Doherty and all his crew in Harry’s. They were particularly welcoming to me as I ran amok in their bar making punch.  And what is the story with people from Donegal? Why are they so fucking friendly? And why can’t more of them move down here?

Next up on the agenda this week – The Ticket Mash Up. As you may know, I write once a month for  the Arts and Entertainment supplement for The Irish Times.  Yet mine is not the only food related column in that weekly guide. The wonderful Aoife McElwain also has a monthly piece where she picks out a movie, cooks a dish featured in it and then gets the world and his uncle to cook it all up the week after at a designated time. It’s deadly craic and so is she! So we’re teaming up this month by combining columns for what we have called The Ticket Mash Up  and it will be rolled out live and direct in The Bernard Shaw next Thursday 31st May. Read all about it below. We’re rocking out the pizzas at The Blue Bus with one of our favourite local acts, Le Galaxie. Aoife wrote up the recipe and I got stuck into a good auld chinwag with the band’s singer Michael….

Movie Bites: Point Break at The Big Blue Bus

The Movie

This 1991 crime thriller follows Keanu Reeves as undercover FBI agent Johnny Utah as he infiltrates the local surfing community in order to track down a gang of bank robbers called The Ex-Presidents. An intense bromance ensues between Utah and the leader of the gang, Bodhi, played beautifully by Patrick Swayze. Gary Busey brings us the character of Angelo Pappas, Utah’s partner and Dad-figure, giving a convincing performance of curmudgeonly old cop and full-blown meatball sandwich addict.

The Scene

“It’s time for lunch,” Pappas tells Utah as they are parked across from a bank, hoping to catch The Ex-Presidents . “Angelo, it’s 10:30.” “Right around that corner, there’s a sandwich shop. They sell meatball sandwiches. Best I’ve ever tasted. Would you go and get me two?” As Utah orders the sandwiches, we can see The Ex-Presidents pull up and run into the bank in full heist gear, while an unaware Utah happily delivers the sandwiches back to Angelo.

The Food

Taking inspiration from Pappas’ love of meatball sandwiches, we’ve worked with the Pizza Don at The Big Blue Bus to create our Point Break Pizza. If you can’t make it to The Bernard Shaw, recreate it at home by following our time-saving cheat’s version which uses shop-bought pizza bases.

The Event

Booking the Cooks and Movie Bites have come together this month in a collaborative celebration of the movie Point Break, as chosen by laser-loving future-electro-advocates Le Galaxie.

Join us at The Bernard Shaw on South Richmond Street near Dublin’s city centre on the 31st of May from 7:15pm. We’ll be screening Point Break from 8pm sharp on the top deck of The Big Blue Bus, a pizzeria in the shape of a large blue bus that lives in the beer garden of the pub.

Enjoy Point Break from comfort of the upper deck of the Big Blue Bus as your Point Break Pizza is freshly prepared, handmade dough and all, in the bus’ kitchen downstairs. Big Blue Bus Pizza Don Olly Allison has created a one-night-only Point Break special so that you can indulge in a pizza and a drink for €10. If Meatball pizzas aren’t your thing, there will be freshly prepared pizzas from the regular Big Blue Bus menu available as usual on the night.

There are only room for 25 Keanu fans on the bus and it’s an entirely first come first serve basis. So arrive early, bros! To avoid, like, total disappointment. If you don’t make it in for the flick, stick around for the after-movie entertainment as Le Galaxie will be DJing alongside the regular Thursday night Forward/Slash DJs.

See http://www.bodytonicmusic.com/bigbluebus for more information on the event and the Big Blue Bus itself.

What you need for 2 Point Break Pizzas

We have gone with the cheat’s method by using shop-bought pizza bases but you can get a bit of the Big Blue Bus at home by following Olly’s dough recipe which you’ll find at http://www.facebook.com/thebigbluebus

Olive oil

6 to 8 good quality Italian pork sausages (we like Hicks & Sons)

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomates

2 cloves of garlic

1 red chilli

1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

2 good quality shop-bought pizza bases

1 ball of buffalo mozzarella

Fresh basil leaves

Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat.

Squeeze the meat out of your sausages and using your hands to roll the meat into small bite-sized meatballs. Fry the meatballs in the hot pan for 15 minutes, until browned and cooked through.

Meanwhile, heat a little more olive oil in another frying pan. Finely slice the garlic and red chilli (de-seed the chilli if you like less heat) and fry them for 3 minutes, until the garlic has taken on a golden hue. Add the chopped tomatoes and the balsamic vinegar and stir well. Simmer for 15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.

Now you can assemble your pizza. Spread the tomato sauce onto your pizza base. Add the meatballs and tear over some mozzarella cheese. Cook according to the pizza base package instructions, probably around 6 to 10 minutes. Serve with some fresh basil leaves scattered on top.


The Gary Busey inspired pizza.


There follows my somewhat insane interview with Michael of Le Galaxie.

Mash ups shouldn’t just be the preserve of 2Many DJ’s and bored Youtube junkies. And seeing as readers of The Ticket are as mad for film as they are for music, we thought it would be cool to have our own wee Mash Up by infusing Movie Bites with Booking The Cooks, through the medium of, well, pizza.  We asked one of our favourite local bands, Le Galaxie what their favourite movie was and could they create a pizza inspired by it. The Keanu & Swayze surfing crime epic “Point Break” was what they came back with and Gary Busey’s meatballs adorn their pizza. To find out why they chose this Californian bromantic tale of bank heists and FBI agents, I kicked back with the band’s singer Michael over a few cold brewskis.

“It’s been Point Break our whole lives. There was no debate. In fact, there was no words. There was a biological connection between our testosterone addled psyches. Roughly translated, it was ‘Let’s watch Point Break and eat pizza and get wasted’. And, as we are prolific bank robbers, it works as both entertainment and a stark warning of what can go wrong if you allow Anthony Kiedis anywhere near you.”

Obviously this film works for them on many levels. On the topic of the movie’s three male leads, there were some equally revealing insights. When I pointed out that this was not Keanu’s finest hour and that he’s never really been able to shake off the Bill and Ted dude image, Michael responded with, “I’ve never seen it but I hear he’s not awful in My Own Private Idaho. Who am I kidding, OF COURSE he’s awful in it.” Then what about Patrick Swayze I ask. Have any of you ever fantasized about becoming one of his film characters? For instance, have you ever strutted in front of the mirror doing a Dirty Dancing move or a Roadhouse karate kick? “Dave once did the Dirty Dancing lift on me in the studio. But then he dropped me on my head, shattering my back. Great day.” Last but by no means least, what, in your opinion, ever happened to Gary Busey? Is he a flawed genius or just kinda whacky? “Once in every Earth there is a Gary Busey. It is a privilege and an honour to be born in his time. “I guess that certainly merits using his meatballs on a pizza then.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was in the presence of a real movie lover. I asked him if they were all film geeks in the band?  “Did you know that Martin Scorsese was married to Isabella Rossellini from 1979-1983? Did you know Charlie Chaplin once came third in a Charlie Chaplin lookalike competition. Did you know Errol Flynn used to inject vodka into his oranges, because he wasn’t allowed alcohol on set? Did you know Michael Keaton’s real name is Michael Douglas? Did you know Die Hard is actually a prequel to Die Hard 2?” Whoa. At least I know who to ask to join my next quiz team.

Le Galaxie release their Fade 2 Forever Ep on June 22nd through the Delphi Label. They play Forbidden Fruit on June 2nd.

Elderflower & Irish Whiskey Punch

Posted on: 17 May 2012 No comments

Prizzi’s Honor – the 1985 John Huston movie. Kathleen Turner and Jack Nicholson are both professional assasins who fall in love with each other. Over a discussion about the Southern Italian heritage of Nicholson’s character in the movie, Turner quotes her character’s ex-husband.
“Marxie always used to say that The Sicilians would rather eat their children than part with money………..And they are very fond of their children.” Nicholson’s reply is one of the finest lines he’s ever delivered.

“If Marxie Heller is so fuckin’ smart, how come he’s so fuckin’ dead?”

This reminds me of elderflower and the Irish. Because we love going off and telling the world and his uncle about how amazing we are. But if the Irish are so fucking smart, how come we don’t have shitloads of elderflower farms everywhere?

Here is something that is effectively a weed. It is seriously robust and will grow anywhere in the country with zero help from fertilizers or pesticides. And it produces a summer flower that makes an amazing cordial and in the autumn, it gives us a the vitamin C packed super fruit, elderberries. Of course in countries that have proper intelligence in the populace, such as Sweden, Norway and England – there are elderflower and elderberry farms. You can go into IKEA anytime you want and they’ll have elderflower cordials, elderflower and orange marmalade and little capri sun stylee elderflower kiddie drinks. The Brits have Belvoir cordials that include elderflower from their own farm and even the French have cashed in on it by creating St. Germain, an elderflower liqueur.

So why aren’t the Paddies coining it in with the elderflower buzz? Because we’re stupid saps who do things like build more and more gaffs even when there were 200,000 vacant homes in the country. What we should have been doing, was planting elderflower farms. Ireland could be the elderflower and elderberry capital of the world right now.  We should be manufacturing cordials, wines, ice creams and liqueurs with this shit and out there flogging it with the expediency and ruthlessness of a Mexican cartel.

Being somewhat obsessed with mixing local ingredients with the auld gargoyle, I can give you a myriad of ways of bringing elderflower into cocktails. But like most things that you consume, they are best paired with other produce from the area. So it should come as no surprise that elderflower goes stupendously well with homegrown whiskey. And not only that, you can make large quantities of it into a rather nice punch.

We are about to come into primetime for elderflower season. Get your heads round it and get out there and pick some. Click this recipe here to learn how to make some cordial. It will keep for ages if you refrigerate it.

I will be up at the Inishfood Festival this weekend continuing this rant and showing guests how to use wild Irish elderflower in other cocktails as well as more wild Irish mixed drinks. Myself and Hayden Lambert from one of the world’s greatest cocktail bars, The Merchant Hotel in Belfast will be making up a big batch of the aforementioned elderflower whiskey punch for guests to enjoy before the European Rugby Cup Final. If you fancy a trek up north, come join us. And don’t forget , right before our demo, myself and the For Food’s Sake crew will be on hand to host a discussion about the future of Irish fish. Click this here for full details. It’s gonna be a wicked weekend, I can’t wait to get stuck in.

So anyhoop, here’s how you make the punch.




1 bottle of Jameson or Power’s or Paddy or Tyrconnell

250 ml of elderflower cordial

3 lemons

300 ml of Highbank Orchard Apple Juice – if you can’t get this, too bad for you, it’s the best apple juice in the world. Try another proper Irish apple juice like Karmine if you can’t get Highbank Orchard.

150 ml of sparkling water


Rinse your lemons and go over them with a hard vegetable brush. The chances are there’s gonna be wax on your lemons. Doing this will take off some of it at least.

Take out a vegetable peeler and peel the lemons. Put the peel in a pestle and mortar and muddle them with about 30 ml of the cordial. Warning, the outstanding aroma that this produces may leave you somewhat aroused.  Just sayin’.

Leave the peel to sit with the cordial for about an hour so. Squeeze the lemons. Put it all into a big jug with the whiskey, lemon juice, the rest of the cordial and apple juice. Give it a good auld stir for at least a minute.

Strain the lot into a punch bowl and add in the sparkling water for a little fizz. Ladle into iced glasses or cups.


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