Tag Archives: Shopping

A Sprinkling of Fairy Dust

A little over a month ago I left a comment on Cake in the Country’s blog, and shortly after I received an email from the “Appliances Online Fairy Hobmother“. Despite the girly-sounding name, it’s a wonderful bloke called David who is behind the invention of this supernatural being, whose purpose is to travel the blogosphere sprinkling round fairy dust and Amazon vouchers wherever she goes.

Image via Wikipedia

I was lucky enough to be offered an Amazon voucher to spend as I liked and I had several items on my wishlist just waiting for such an opportunity. George also had a lot of items on his wishlist, so there was much debating as to who could get what. Happily, my work came through with another voucher as a little thank you, so I was able to treat both of us!

Ever since George spent some time working in Eden in Temple Bar, he’s been hankering after their cookbook so that he could replicate the dishes at home more accurately, so that was an easy choice for both of us. Next up was baking supplies – I’ve been trying to bake more often, and to do decent batches of stuff so that it will last for more than a couple of days. Space is at a premium in the kitchen, so a set of stackable cooling racks seemed like a great idea, and it was joined by a set of springform tins, so that I can finally make Grannymar’s Infamous Chocolate Cake.

It’s become a bit of a tradition for me to make jelly shots for any parties we throw, and ever since I discovered Jelly Shot Test Kitchen Blog, my ideas have been getting more ambitious! A set of silicone jelly moulds will ensure that the next jellies I make will be a little more adventurous than basic jelly shots.

Our final choice was a joint one and an easy decision to make. We’ve both been lusting after a gorgeous book by Niki Segnit, called “The Flavour Thesaurus” for a long time now. It’s an incredibly useful book that details what flavours and ingredients go best together, which means that if you suddenly find yourself with excess of an ingredient you can find classic or less well known matches for it without having to experiment yourself.

Now it’s your turn! Tell us what you would choose if the Fairy Hobmother granted your wish. Is there a cookbook you’ve been meaning to buy for ages, a piece of equipment that your kitchen is sorely lacking or even something that you’ve wanted to treat yourself to for a while?

Leave a comment below telling us what you’d wish for and it might come true! The Fairy Hobmother will be inspecting all wishes left here before midnight (GMT) on Sunday 14th August, and it could be your wish that gets granted! [Open to residents of Ireland & UK only]

George’s awesome week of awesome II

This is part II of a three part series, Part I can be found here and part three will be published in the next few days


Wednesday morning in the meeting hall, I was greeted by a room full of college staff and twenty-somethings. After a quick look around I grabbed a seat beside the only person in the room that I could see looked even remotely close to my age.

Induction began and I realised 3 things, that I’ve since learnt are all true…

  1. These people aren’t all on my course.
  2. Some of my lecturers could be younger than me.
  3. I’m probably going to be the oldest on my course.

After a while we were divided into groups by our courses and sent off trailing our course tutor, through the building and straight into a kitchen.

Thankfully we weren’t being chucked in the deep end too quickly, it was just an introduction to the room and to the course, what we could expect, what not to do and so on and so forth. Finally off we trundled to our first of two proper classes that day – Computer applications. Grand, some familiar territory to get things started with!

Next up, was French, very unfamiliar territory for me and thankfully about half of the rest of the group. Still, I’m already so far out of my comfort zone, at this point, it’s a wonder my brain hasn’t packed it’s little suitcase and made a dash for it out my nose leaving nothing but a “so long and thanks for all the fish” sign in it’s place and the thoughts of having to start learning a language, something I’ve never been great with, really weren’t helping.

Thankfully, Thursday’s classes, Communications, Tourism Awareness and Nutrition got me back into my comfort zone and set me up nicely for an afternoon of running around Dublin City centre, purchasing books, knives, chef’s uniform and other assorted bits ‘n’ pieces so I could actually take part in Friday’s four hour cookery practical session. But I’m getting ahead of myself here, let’s rewind to Thursday night.

A few weeks back Elly spotted a very reasonably priced knife skills course in Donnybrook Fair and I decided that I would like to do it, not for a minute thinking that I would be starting a hotel and catering course the same week. So after spending the afternoon shopping in Dublin and grabbing a bus home, I promptly dropped everything once in the door, drank two pints of water in quick succession, had a pee and ran out the back door, jumped in the car and headed to Donnybrook, thanks to lousy parking facilities I ended up walking about a kilometre to get to the class and being about ten minutes late, not a great start.

After making my apologies to both chef and class I grabbed a seat and realised that I hasn’t missed much past “this is a knife” :)

The class was great, starting off with how to use a steel to sharpen your knives, moving through some vegetable preparations, filleting a fish and even removing the carcass from a chicken, so you can pack more stuffing and flavour in. Given how good Elly’s Roast Chicken is and how much work is involved I don’t see myself doing that too often at home but it could be a handy skill to have for college and sure a little extra practice ain’t going to hurt.

Thinking about Meat

It’s a really strange thing I’ve noticed but most meat eaters don’t really think about the meat they eat terribly much, in fact from talking to vegetarians I know and have known over the years it is clear to me that they actually think more about the meat us meat eaters eat than most of us do.

For a lot of us the most we think about meat is will I have beef, lamb, chicken or pork for my lunch/dinner? Most of us make our way around the supermarket and pick up our nice pre-packaged cuts without ever wondering how long it is since this mooed/clucked/snorted etc. Really how many of us actually look closely at the cut before we put it in our trolley and take it home? How many of us even look at the label to see where it came from?

It’s a bit crazy especially when you come to realise that one of the key differences in the meals you eat at home and the meals you eat in a restaurant is the quality of the ingredients. Not all meat is created equal, just like some cuts taste better than others some animals just taste better. This is usually in my experience to do with the way they are reared and the way that they are butchered.

A well butchered cut of meat can make an impact as dramatic to a meal as the addition of seasoning and sometimes even more so. That’s why I’m constantly on the search for a better butcher. Every so often I try a new butcher and for a while I find good value or better cuts but then almost as soon as I get comfortable with a butcher, the quality or value or both just start to drop off, so I end up varying which butcher I use just to keep them on their toes.

The Market Butcher
The Market Butcher

When we visited Taste of Dublin, one of the many brochures that I picked up at the event was one for The Market Butcher it was only later I realised that their shop is just up the road from me, so I popped in one day and picked up some steaks for dinner, let’s just say that they were among the finest I have ever tasted.

Since then, I’ve been a regular customer and I’ve seen no difference in quality, every cut I’ve tried has been superb. It’s great for me because we are local but they do accept orders on-line and even offer free delivery for larger orders.

The range on offer is huge and the pricing is competitive with the supermarkets while giving much better quality and to top off, all their beef, chicken, lamb and pork is Irish. I haven’t tried the other more exotic options yet, so I haven’t asked about the origins but the staff have never been anything other than exceptionally helpful so I have no doubt they will be happy to answer any questions from customers.

Give them a try – I cannot recommend the fillet steak highly enough – I’m confident you won’t be disappointed.