Willy Mason’s Fish Tacos

Posted on: 21 June 2013 No comments

So last week we filled you in on a wee food collaboration that we’ve got going on at Body & Soul this weekend. Singer and songwriter extraordinaire Wallis Bird has designed a special Festival food dish called “Hob Nob Surprise” and you’ll be able to sample it at the Dux & Co food stall on Sunday. Well it doesn’t end there folks! We’ve also got the wonderful Willy Mason on board to share up some grub in Ballinlough on the same day.

It’s all a big celebration of how great the nosh, craic and indeed the music is at Irish festivals these days. Because, as we all know, it wasn’t always this good, not just in Ireland it would appear. The American born Willy Mason recounts a story of his worst festival experience that happened to him as a child, “When I was 12, my friend’s dad took us to Woodstock. He spent the drive up smoking a joint and telling us all about the glory of the original. When we got there they were setting cars on fire and water bottles were going for $8. It didn’t rain but somehow some of the portaloos tipped over making a muddy field around them. In a bizarre parallel to the stories we’d heard driving up, people started diving in and doing hippy mud dances in the shit and piss. That was pretty weird. I THINK they were drunk… “

It’s certainly a wonder that trauma didn’t put him off festivals for life, but anyhoo…Having grown up on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Willy is very much fond of seafood. Fish Tacos are his big fave and here’s how he makes them. And he wants you to pop down to Mexico K Chido  Taco Van so that you too can enjoy his ultimate slice of festival cuisine!

Willy Mason



1 large tomato diced

1 red onion diced

1 garlic clove minced

1/2 jalapeno minced

2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 avocado, diced

1 fistful of chopped fresh coriander

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Combine tomato, jalapeno, onion, lime juice to taste, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in the coriander and avocado.


1 cod fillet, cut into goujon size pieces

4 small corn tortillas, warmed

3 tablespoon all-purpose flour

¼  teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon salt

¼  teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 bottle of lager beer

Combine flour, cumin, salt, and cayenne in a medium bowl. Whisk in your lager to create a batter.

Coat the fish pieces in the batter. Heat some oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Letting excess batter drip back into the bowl, add the fish to the pan; cook until crispy and golden, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Place the fried fish in a taco with the salsa on top.

Willy Mason plays Body & Soul on Sunday. His Fish Tacos with Avocado & Tomato Salsa will be for sale for €2.50 each at Mexico K Chido Taco Van.

This piece was originally published in today’s copy of The Ticket in The Irish Times.

Wallis Bird’s Hob Nob Cheese Surprise

Posted on: 14 June 2013 1 comment

“A couple years back at a festival in Ireland, my vegetarian friend asked for the non-meat option and the guy replied ‘the closest thing we’d have is chicken!’”

Does this anecdote from Wallis Bird about Irish festival cuisine of yesteryear sound all too familiar to you? We have certainly come a long way from the days of the Russian-roulette-chipper-van burger. I definitely don’t remember seeing barbecued ostrich fillets at Homelands or Féile.

Of course, this is all rather good and definitely worth celebrating. To such an extent, that we here in Booking The Cooks thought we’d see if an act playing at the upcoming Body & Soul Festival would like to create a dish to sell at one of the food stalls. Hence our correspondence with the wonderful Wallis Bird and the fact that you will be able to purchase a plate of her Hob Nob Cheese Surprise at the Dux & Co food stand. It’s a wacky plate of joyful sustenance that somehow harmonises Mediterranean veg with the familiar, oaty sweetness of Hob Nobs. But to be fair, it’s probably best enjoyed at a festival, where one is perhaps in less control of one’s senses.

Indeed, maybe this dish was brought on by a particular drunken European festival incident where she, “woke up in another country, in another band’s bus, in a complete rigout of someone else’s clothes”. Well if she didn’t find inspiration for a food recipe from that night of debauchery, I do hope she found a song. Or possibly even an album.


One packet of crushed Hob Nobs (not the chocolate ones)
A big lump of any cheese
Whatever chopped veg you like (try 2 red peppers, 2 courgettes, 1 aubergine, 3 onions)
Garlic (as much as you can stand)
2-3 teacups cups of pulses such as lentils (bulks up the meal and fillsyour tummy)
2.5 cans of chickpeas
2 cans of tomatoes
Chilli or paprika (if you fancy it)
Salt & Pepa to taste (and to listen to while you cook)


Fry the onions and garlic slowly in butter and then throw in the chopped veg and tomatoes. Let them all simmer until soft (or else you can roast everything in a big oiled dish).

Salt & Pepa here. In another pot, cook the lentils (slowly and carefully, the time dependent on the type, though it also works as a mash). Line a casserole dish with the crushed Hob Nobs. Throw the other stuff on top and bake for about 10 mins on a medium heat.Throw some cheese on top for the final five minutes.

Ta-Dah! Everyone’s eating Hob Nob Cheese Surprise!

Wallis Bird plays Body & Soul on Sunday June 23rd. Be a sport and buy her Hob Nob Cheese Surprise at the Dux & Co. foodstall for just €2.50 a plate!

This piece was originally printed in The Ticket in The Irish Times.


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