Tuesday 23 December 2008

Christmas cheer

The people from Barbour index sent us the following christmas advice:

Have a Merry Green Christmas
Christmas is a time for overeating, overspending and overindulging. However it can also be a time when small changes could make a big difference for the environment. As always the Barbour team are here with some handy tips to make your festivities that little bit greener:
when doing your Christmas shopping make sure you re-use carrier bags
use environmentally friendly LED lights in your home on your Christmas tree
make sure you use rechargeable batteries in all the new Christmas gifts
recycle your Christmas tree
recycle your wrapping paper
recycle your Christmas cards
recycle packaging from gifts
where possible, buy locally produced food to cut down on travelling.
The Scottish Environment Minister, Michael Russell, has stated that it will only take a few small steps to make a huge difference this Christmas. For example he stated that rechargeable batteries have up to 28 times less impact on climate change then disposable ones which are often sent to landfill.
Discarded Christmas trees can also be turned into wood chip, feeding other trees, he noted.
Christmas should be a happy time for us all, please take some time to consider our environment too.

Thursday 18 December 2008

Our Christmas opening hours

Cathal Brugha Street's Library opening hours after Christmas...
Monday 5th January-
Thursday 8th January - 9am-9pm

Friday 9th January - 9am - 5pm
Saturday 10th December - 10am - 5pm

And normal term-time opening thereafter.
All times are subject to staff availability.

Monday 15 December 2008

are you ready to order there....thanks a million

surly service, service with a sneer. how come there is so much of it around in ireland. Some of these people have to work hard to get it so bad. Tonight the Service industry, including the tourism and hospitality sectors, is the subject of the Prime time investigates special presented by Conor Pope. Starts at 9:30 RTE1.
There was also a related article about bad service and the effects it has on a company's business in last saturdays Irish Times

Thursday 4 December 2008

The Duck Has Landed

Heston's book is now in the library (see post below)

Tuesday 2 December 2008

Mathematical gastronomy

On the one hand we're being told to be patriotic and shop in ireland, while on the other, Peter Robinson (NI's 1st minister) is tempting us North and congratulating the irish government on road improvements between dublin to newry. And it's hard to resist when you compare prices like this. - Heston Blumenthal he of Fat Duck (and previous blog postings here and here) fame will be in Harvey Nics, Dundrum on 12th dec. You can have lunch with the man for 180euros. They will be selling his book for 130euros - slighly cheaper than the price it is retailing for in a large dublin bookshop - 138euros. However its Recommended Retail Price (RRP) North of the border is £100stg. At current exchange that's 117euros. If you buy it on amazon it costs only £60stg = 70.70euros. So where would you buy it?

It's currently on order for the library and then of course you can look at it for free. You can also hear Heston for free on RTE Ryan Tubridy show on the friday morning before heading off to Dundrum

Thursday 20 November 2008

2 prestigious events hosted by the DIT School of Culinary Arts to get your teeth into next week. On monday 24th, "Teaching to Taste" a chefs workshop & demo on Tasting & Organoleptics (stimulation of the 5 senses you fool). As well as contributions from within the faculty outside speakers include Ross Lewis of Chapter One, Arun Kapil (Green Saffron) and Euro-toques Chefs Graham Neville. It's free and starts at 3. When you've recovered from that on the thursday it's the 4th DIT Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard Cocktail Competition. Discover more to creative drinks mixing than a Lesson st. sleaze club at 2am on a sunday morning. This is a chance for cocktail waiters and aspiring stirers and shakers to try out new recipes and benefit from the experience and knowledge of fellow colleagues and competitors. Blenders at the ready at 10am. Mine's a Gibson

Friday 24 October 2008

Culinary History Collection

With the help of some of the Culinary Arts lecturers, Mairtin Mac Con Iomaire and Pat Zaidan amongst others, we are planning on building up a special collection of books and possibly at a later stage artifacts on Culinary History. It's still very much in its infancy with just over 60 titles in the collection at present but already it includes some rare gems and early 1st editions. Highlights:
an 1861 ed. of "Modern cookery for private families" by Eliza Action, "A woman's work is never done" George Vicaires' "Bibliographie Gastronomique" Alexandre Dumas (he of Count of Monte Cristo fame) on food , A copy of "Fancy ices" with the most magnificent cover illustration of a polar bear carrying a tray of sorbets.
My favourite at present is "The good housewife's jewel" by Thomas Dawson which will instruct you how to boil larks, plovers or purtenance, how to bake red deer, hares or porpoises (make sure to take off the skin), how to force a pig, smother a coney or bray gold. Also, and where would any houswife be without these, remedies for tissick, strangurie, for all manner of scabs, for sinews that be broken in two and even a fennel drink "for to make one slender"

Wednesday 22 October 2008

The road less travelled

one of the magazines (what librarians call journals or periodicals ) that our Library subscribes to is Conde Nast Traveller - a glossy dream on porno-travel coffee table flicker featuring hideaways in the Maldives and hidden gems in Shangri-La. Great fun altogether. In the latest issue there is a lovely anecdote to all this over indulgence in a piece written by Alain de Botton (author of The art of travel) asking us to consider instead...holiday in Heathrow (not just overnight delay i suppose with baggage in Amsterdam) with optional trips to hangers and warehouses meeting baggage handlers, catering staff etc. Treat it he says like visiting a far flung remote civilisation and village. Or what about the Pylon route (as opposed to the Pilgrim route i suppose) following the line of pylons that bring London its electricity from Dungeness. Or an architectural tour of bridges and service stations on the M1. Just don't forget the sun cream.

PS in this same issue are the 2008 readers' travel awards. over 000's of nominations in many categories. The only mention that Ireland gets is at no.20 of favourite countries. Full results in Traveller in the library

Saturday 27 September 2008

in god we trust, everyone else pays cash

continuing the credit crunch theme (see 16th Sept) Paddypower has opened a book on which airline will be next to go belly up. Betting without Alitalia, FlyGlobanspan are the current 6/4 favourites, Spanair 4/1, Air Berlin 10/1 with the first national carrier Finnair also 10/1. Aer Lingus is a healthy66/1 and as you can imagine Ryanair is seen as currently safe at 100/1 the same price as BA and Air France. But the rank outsider and safe bet and seen as the least likely to crash to earth is..........Vatican Airlines at 500/1. but lets avoid jokes about frequent friar miles or Pontious Pilot. The last will be first and the first will be last.

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Absolutely Fabulous: more culinary walking tours

On 3rd June i wrote about Historical Insights, - Dublin walking tours focused on Irish food. Another crowd offering similar and some more ambitious packages are Fabulous Food Trails. Round Dublin they offer "... an exciting tasting and cultural walk around the lesser known parts..." But also on offer are longer weekend and 4-5 day packages round Cork, the South East, Galway and Connemara. Maybe not cheap but there seem to be lots of exclusive private dinners, silver service picnics, visits to suppliers, artisan producers, farms and this is the bit i like, chances to "forage and fish". No better way and nothing tastes more enjoyable: a simple pleasure but when in Connemara and the tide is right, picking a sackfull of mussels in Manin Bay with the sun on your back and the terns in the sky is your only man. and then there's the eating afterwards.

Tuesday 16 September 2008

credit crunch anyone?

fed up watching your financial assets and stocks noisedive. As we watch big financial names like Fannie Mae, Leeman Bros, AIG go to the wall, where to invest you're hard eaned cash? Forget the banks, insurance giants, and with the rising cost of oil forget airlines or travel firms where the news is particularily depressing. Those in the know suggest Vino is the place to be. To borrow a term from the oenophile's lexicon the market is "robust" with an average wine cellar showing a basic return of 15%odd and the fine wine index up 9% on the year to date. So forget the Nikkei, the ISEQ, the FTSE, Dow Jones and take your lead from the Bordeauindex, 1 of a growing number of sites offering investment services for nouveau wine enthusiasts. ansdlets avoid the associated puns about liquid assets and old wines in new bottles etc. Thanks to the Sunday Tribune where I 1st read about this burgeoning burgundy market

Thursday 11 September 2008

Culinary politics

Back in february i posted about celebrity chef and Thai Prime minister Samak Sundaravej. Now it appears his culinary adventures have cost him his job. Apparently by continuing to host the TV show "Tasting Grumbling" he is in contravention of rules that ban ministers from having business links. It would be a bit like say an Irish Taoiseach taking money from property deveoplers if that's possible to imagine. The law in Thailand was obviously drafted to tackle large scale corruption and big business influence. The sum involved for Mr Samak was a triffling 340euros but enough for the opposition to seize on an opportunity to send him packing. Here's what the Guardian had to say yesterday. And the news reports today suggest that he may be back in charge soon...

Thursday 4 September 2008

something you wont learn in DIT Cathal Brugha st

On his recent visit to Dublin Ireland, Nicolas SourCosy was attacked by a disgruntled waiter (in the street not in an actual restaurant) who tried to pelt the French President with eggs. Fortunately the waiter was not an ex DIT student or currently on 1 of our Food & Beverage Management courses. Full story from the Irish Times which didn't use the headline....
"Oeufs for the oaf"

Tuesday 2 September 2008

sidra house rules. Postcard from Austurias

Academics holidays are almost as good as in the dail and the main reason why i have negleted the blog. When on important holiday business i tend to crash the laptop, let the mobile run dead, walk past cafes with wifi signs, stop wearing socks, avoid shopping and go somewhere the buses don't and electricity is erratic. Spent part of the time in Austurias - northern spain west of Bilbao and the Basquelands. Also know as green spain. No wine, no olives, only a few citrus trees. Apples and cider rule the day and every village has its sideria. It's also big dairy country suppling the whole of the country with such products. Unlike the rest of Spain they cook with butter, there is real milk - the cows bells ring like a modern overture up in the picos, (think Swiss Alps). They look tanned and as if they've been freshly groomed every morning. The chocolate is renowned there's even a chocolate museum.The yoghurt is thick creamy delicious and there is a huge variety of cheeses - esp to be recommended, cabrales and gamoneda. There are beans (fabes) to beat the band in abundance, (the climate is ideal mild summers harsh winters) pinto, roxa, colora, verdina - like heinz 57 different varieties. They form the basis of hearty stews with morcilla - spanish black pudding or other cured meats like chorizo, or tocino, lacon. Pigs ear anyone? So thats where i've been and why i've been so quiet

Friday 29 August 2008

Faulty Ireland - fudging the B&B issue?

Another challenge has been made to Faulty Ireland's laissez-faire philosophy, this time from the Town and Country Homes Association, which represents many of Ireland's Bed and Breakfast operators.

The Association has drawn attention to the voluntary nature of registration of B&Bs with FI, which means, in effect, that tourists have no way of being sure a B&B will deliver a good-quality stay. Of course tourists can opt to stay in a B&B which happens to be registered, but more often than not a visitor to our shores will have to take pot luck.

At a time when there is a real squeeze on the tourist industry, which has hit B&Bs particularly hard, it boggles belief that most B&Bs still do not have to register with the national tourism authority, are not graded for quality and are not regulated on prices.

FI have said they are preparing an "action plan" for the sector. Quite. What are the odds that this will be another piece of fudge, full of half-measures and short-termist compromises?

Monday 25 August 2008

Mint man goes from strength to strength!

Dylan McGrath of Ranelagh's prestigious Mint restaurant has been crowned "Chef of the year" in Food and Wine's Irish restaurant awards for 2008. No stopping the man - just as there seems to be no stopping Ryanair's Michael O'Leary, and there lies a thought! O'Leary is his industry's rude boy, and people don't seem to hold it against him.

I was fortunate to take a friend out to Mint about 18 months ago. My companion and I ate like princes - until 9.30 or so. That we had outstayed our welcome became clear at that time, because not only was the bill brought to me unasked for, but so were our coats! I was too taken aback to protest properly then and there, but when I wrote to Mint a few days later, did I get an apology? Divil a bit of it! The letter back only apologised, grudgingly, for not making it clear to us earlier that they, to use that horrible celtic tiger phrase, "needed the table back" at 9.30. Well fair enough pal- they have it back, and as far as I and my companion are concerned they can keep it!

Tuesday 15 July 2008

US airlines charge fatties for extra seats.

Airline Charges:could airline passengers soon face the same penalties for being overweight as baggage?
US passengers gained an average of 10lbs during the 1990s' resulting in an extra 350 million gallons of fuel being used by aircraft.
Southwest airlines has already started charging overweight passengers for two seats following complaints from passengers whose seats were sat upon by "overweight neighbours"
Canada takes a different line with the law prohibiting airlines charging overweight passengers extra for taking up more than 1 seat. This new law will cost Air Canada €4.4 million a year in lost revenue. As the price of oil steadily increases how long will it be before this law is repealed?.Ryanair assure us they have no intention of charging overweight passengers so that should reassure us all?.The full article is available in the Irish Times July 5th.

Hotels - still ripping us off, with help from Failte Ireland?

In The Irish Times for Tuesday July 15th, there is a story of a couple who tried to use a voucher for 440 Euro to book a hotel in Galway during race week. According to the Irish Times, the hotel in question tried to add on another 130 Euro a night, presumably because of the week that was in it.

This is no surprise in rip-off Ireland. Now that we are facing a serious downturn, some hotels are offering great value, but others see nothing wrong in continuing to squeeze those extra bucks from the punters. What may alarm some, however, is Failte Ireland's reported attitude. Apparently, FI do set maximum prices, but then allow these to be breached for special events such as Galway race week.

Perhaps FIs attitude is part of the problem. Why can't the Irish tourism industry and authorities work out a maximum prices - and then stick to them? We saw the same mindset at work in the Ryder cup in 2006. The then minister for Tourism, John O'Donoghue, criticised the hugely inflated prices being charged by hotels during the Ryder Cup, but received scant support from Failte Ireland, who made excuses for the hotels instead of backing up the minister.

Come on Fawlty Ireland - why don't you play your part in policing the sector more, and making Ireland a consistent, good-cvalue destination again!

Monday 7 July 2008

"Close your eyes and you could almost be on Bondi"

A bit of a stretch, perhaps to imagine lounging on one of Australia's most famous beaches unless you are taking some mind altering drugs?.
But with palm trees, beach cabanas, lounge chairs, parasols, barbecues, beer, 240 tonnes of sand and salsa dancers, you could almost be in Tramore.
I refer to the launch of Ireland's first urban beach in George's Dock at the International Financial Services Centre. Inspired by cites like Amsterdam which have created similar beach settings, Dublin's Docklands authority have splashed out more than €200,000 on trucking in tonnes of sand from Wexford in a bid to transform the site into a "seaside oasis"
Day- trippers will be able to play giant chess, jenga, mini golf, volley ball, beach soccer and hire pedal boats while for those looking to party into the sunset there are several themed evenings including a Tango night and Salsa night.
The urban beach will be open until July 20th and it's well worth a visit. SPF20 advised for those who burn easily!. The full article is available in The Sunday Business Post 6th Jul.

Thursday 3 July 2008

Tourism slow as Olympics approach

With the Beijing Olympics less than two months away, hotel operators, travel agencies and foreign businessmen claim tougher Chinese visa restrictions are proving bad for business. A number of new hotels have been built for the Olympic opening but many say business is slow.
New visa restrictions were put in place in May for "security considerations". The government has said it is determined to combat possible threats to the Games including suicide bombings and chemical attacks. They believe a terrorist attack during the Beijing Olympics is a real possiblity.This year has seen China plagued by riots in Tibet, protests of the Olympic torch relay and the Sichuan earthquake. This has resulted in a huge security presence on Beijing's streets.
So what's in store for those lucky enough to make it in to China?.
All outdoor parties planned for the three-week-long Olympic celebration have been banned and bars will be forced to close early. Is it any wonder tourists are staying away.The inclement weather in Ireland may prevent many outdoor parties but you can always depend on the pubs being open.

Monday 30 June 2008

Sex on wheels: a new Tourism Initiative?

The Irish Independent reported the following amusing story recently. a "Brothel Bus" which cruised Miami Beach offering lap dances and drinks has taken it's last ride, police said.
The sleek black bus cruised the South Beach neighbourhood popular among tourists offering rides and unlimited drinks for $40. At the current exchange rate of $1.55 for €1.00 it would seem like a bargain.
Aboard, undercover detectives said they found a fully stocked bar and serveral young women offering sex acts. The suspected operator was arrested on prostitution charges.
The judge did not accept that she was employed in the tourism industry despite the fact that technically she did provide a service to these tourists.
The CSO reported a huge fall off in tourists coming to Ireland in the first quarter of this year which should prompt Failte Ireland to consider offering some new services to entice the visitors.
However with the favourable exchange rate for the dollar, a trip to Miami would seem like an attractive holiday destination. Now where did I leave my Passport?.

Wednesday 25 June 2008

The great wine rip-off?

The Sunday Business Post for 22nd June carries a report on the big mark-ups which Irish restaurant customers are paying for their wine. Examples given include an Italian Pinot Grigio which is 6.60 Euro in the shops and 29 Euro at a well-known Central Dublin eaterie, and a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc which is 9.60 Euro at an offy and 41 Euro at that same city-centre establishment, and only a little less in the other places mentioned.

This can only partly be explained by different rates of tax, even taking VAT into consideration. True, restaurants are storing, chilling and serving the stuff to your table, so that entitles them to put on a bit, but unlike food, they are not cooking it (usually). Also, other restaurants are managing to charge much lower mark-ups. Perhaps wine-lists should be required to display a typical retail price alongside the restaurant price?

On a more general note, one of the main reasons for high Dublin restaurant prices is that restaurants usually have to pay rent, and commercial rents are not controlled in Dublin.
Has anyone considered the possibility that a carefully calculated bit of statutory control on commercial rents might have a stabilising effect on restaurants and on the prices they charge?

molecular gastronomy...soooooooo last year

According to Spanish chef Jose Andres, (now based in Washington D.C.) it's not molecular gastronomy anymore, its called "TECHNO-EMOTIONAL". He used to work for Ferran Adria of El-Bulli notority who he says coined the original mg phrase. That's odd given that it is claimed elesewhere that the phrase was 1st used by Herve This - see blog entry for 2nd May. And then of course others 1st link it to Heston Blumenthel. Can we expect blow-torches at dawn or is it all just a froth emulsion in a teacup?
Getting back toTechno-Emotional. to me it sounds more like something coming from the clubs of Ibiza than the kitchens of Iberia

Tuesday 24 June 2008

Cross your legs....it's the new loo-fare airline

Two years ago, when China's largest airline started urging passengers to "do their business" before boarding flights in order to cut costs there were shrieks of laughter in the west

Low-fares carrier China Southern worked out that a single flush at 30,000 feet burns one litre of oil, enough to run a car for 10km.

Multiply that by 400 cross-legged passengers and you've got yourself one heck of a reduction in fuel.

The airline calculated that reducing human waste in airplane tanks would save up to 47m yuan(€4m) a year. It also hinted at cutting back on creature comforts, claiming that 60 tonnes of fuel a day were required to carry blankets and pillows alone.

The story made for hilarious headlines in Europe at the time but the Chinese could well have been ahead of their time. Before long the joke may be on us.

Airlines are more strapped for cash than ever before so what could be in line for passengers? Coin operated loos? A €20 charge for laptops? Anything is possible.

In the US there is talk of charging passengers according to their weight, the logic being the heavier the cargo, the bigger the fuel bill.

Worse still the latest in -flight annoyance comes on stream in a matter of days when Ryanair will allow passenger on flights from Dublin to use their mobiles. When phones are introduced, passengers will be charged the usual roaming charge and Ryanair will take a slice of the international call rate. No surprises there then.

Wednesday 18 June 2008

National Skills Competition

Just back from a long leisurely liquid lunch as part of my professional duties helping out at the National Skills competition which are being hosted by the DIT, the restaurant service part of which is being held here in Cathal Brugha st. The objectives of the competition are to promote the pursuit of excellence in vocational education and training and to find and acknowledge the best student in their specialist area. Obviously to be judged on their waitering skills they have to have someone to waiter on. So that's why for the past 2 hours i've been sitting with some friends being served up, smoked mackeral, liver pate, quail egg mayonnaise, cream of chicken soup, roast rack of lamb and flambe of fresh berries accompanied by a 2006 chablis and a Chilean Sauvignon. All for the greater glory of DIT...well somebody hast to do it, and good luck to our waitress and representative from the college Lyndsey.

Wednesday 11 June 2008

Shared space - new order from anarchy

Not strictly tourism fare, more build env, but fantastic idea and imaginative lateral thinking. John Henry Director of the Dublin Transportation Office has suggested getting rid of all street signs, traffic lights, road markings, guard rails, etc in parts of the city centre. The logic goes that by removing this clutter, drivers will unconsciously take more care, exercise more caution and perversley provide motorists and pedestrians with shared ownership and responsibility of urban environment. The concept has been termed "shared space". The idea has already proved a success in the Danish town of Drachten which has witnessed dramatic falls in accidents and also in the London borough of Kensington.
For more on futute Dublin transport strtegy go to 2030Vision

However few managers have more than 1 great idea in them so we should forgive him his suggestion to rid the city of double-decker buses. Who wouldn't? given the choice not sit at the front of a double-decker whenever possible? And wasn't Ken Livingstones decision to phase out th double-decker Routemasters partly responsible for his defeat in last months London mayoral election?

Monday 9 June 2008

17th June - library closed

The faculty of tourism and food library cathal brugha st. will be closed on tuesday 17th June to allow all staff to attend a 1 day seminar in Grangegorman. The plan is still to move all the dit to this one magnificent site near the Phoenix park with stunning elevated views ( the best since the devil tempted Jesus from "a high mountain") over the city and surrounding hills. As Irelands largest 3rd level educational establishment this is a great and exciting opportunity which is currently at the "masterplanning" stage. More details at ...New Campus at Grangegorman. And of course at the centre of the plans would be a landmark state of the art library/learning centre....if the money doesn't run out

Tuesday 3 June 2008

take a walk on the wild side

Now that it's June, starting to heat up and Dubs start sporting all sorts of inappropriate summer wear, what about a walking tour of the city with a foodie theme. A bit more unusual than the hop-on hop-off bus trip Historical Insights offers a 2 hour stroll "THE STORY OF IRISH FOOD tour." Every Saturday starting from ChristChurch, find out how and why food has shaped Irish society : its role in the 1916 Rebellion, feasting, fasting and fanatacism, St. Patrick, St. Colmcille, Jonathan Swift, the cult and custom of eating out, historic Dublin restaurants and how in the midst of the great Famine 1 Dublin restaurant was unashamably advertising "Beefsteaks and Oysters as usual."
If all that's not spicy enough for you they also offer "Piety Penance and Potatoes" which is their "sexual history tour of Ireland"

Monday 26 May 2008

Carry on golfing

This i love. As Raul starts to open up Cuba and encourage golf tourism some wild snaps from a game back in 1962 between Che and Fidel. Che apparently won after a battle as long as one of Fidels speeches. Not a Pringle sweater in sight

Wednesday 21 May 2008

The day after tomorrow

the latest (19th May) issue of Newsweek (available fulltext thru the library) has a special report devoted to the growing crisis in the world food markets. Increasingly this topic is starting to make it's way on to the front of the news media and cannot be ignored as mere scaremongering. Contributors include Gordon Brown and the author Michael Pollan. In the past few months there have been food related riots in 22 countries, food prices are rising rapidly, the days of cheap food are over, many food markets are distorted by both the rich and poor, the industry is corrupted by subsidies and scams, huge amounts of waste.... governments will fall.
The food industry has so far shieded consumers in the west from the worst of it but already the average food bill has increased by 1/3 in the past year. Grain prices have doubled but insanely most of the worlds grain is fed to animals - 10lbs of grain produce 1lb of meal. And there's more madness: in the USA, by encouraging farmers to plant corn, to produce ethanol, to run cars, now means the 4 wheel SUVs on the road are competing with the poorest in our society to feed themselves. Thats not just wrong it's obscene.

Monday 19 May 2008

Irish Lifestyles. End of an era?

The new Mintel Irish Lifestyles report is all over the media today, Irish Times and Indo, Morning Ireland, etc. It explores in great detail our concerns and worries, our attitudes to ethics, the environment, the economy, to immigration, to new technology. What are we spending our money on? our time doing? our thoughts thinking? Its a thorought insight and snapshot of the Irish today. And of course the full report is available electronically in the library

Saturday 17 May 2008

tourism stats Good news or bad?

CSO tourism statistics were released last week. We had 8mill visitors to Ireland in 2007 who spend a total of 4.9bill euros. Pretty good BUT on the flip side we made 7.7mill trips out of ireland (I contributed 3) spending 6.1bill euros - how they work that figure out i do not know. So by my calculations the tourist industry last year cost our country 1.2bill? Minister Cullen of Arts, Sport and Tourism was unavailable for comment

Friday 2 May 2008

molecular gastronomy - appliance of science

bit of a coup next week for the dit school of culinary arts & food technology who host a seminar on Molecular Gastronomy: "The latest developments between the kitchen and the laboratory". Among the speakers are Joana Moura from University of Lisbon and Dr. Herve This, chemist and chef, who is probably the most influencial figure, in this area and author of 2 major books on the subject both of which are of course in the library The seminar is in Cathal Brugha St. next wed, 7th May starting at 2pm.
Probably the best known exponent of this culinary equivalent of method acting is Heston Blumenthel (library here) who runs the 3*** Michelin restaurant The Fat Duck where the DIT have been lucky enought to have placement students for the past 3 years

Monday 28 April 2008

The miracle berry - a new chance for a missed opportunity?

The miracle berry
By Adam Fowler

The berry makes sour things taste sweet
Imagine an extract from a berry that would make sour things taste sweet and help you lose weight. Then imagine not being allowed to take it.
The world is getting fatter. One billion people are overweight, and 300 million of those are clinically obese.
The search is always on for replacements for those things that, eaten in excess, make us obese - fatty and sugary foods. There is no miracle pill that can replace either. Nearly four decades ago one man came close to providing a tablet that could reduce our love of sugar. In the 1960s, Robert Harvey, a biomedical postgraduate student, encountered the miracle berry, an African fruit which turns sour tastes to sweet.

"You can eat a berry and then bite into a lemon," says Harvey. "It becomes not only sweeter, but it will be the best lemon you've tasted in your life."
More importantly, this "miracle" can be used to manufacture sweet tasting foods without sugar or sweeteners, which have always been plagued by an after-taste.
Spotting the potential health benefits, and the healthy profits, that the miracle berry promised, Harvey founded the Miralin Company to grow the berry in Jamaica and Puerto Rico, extract its active ingredient in laboratories in Hudson, Massachusetts, and market it across America. At first, Harvey aimed his products at diabetics.
"In market testing, diabetics thought our product, as the name implies, was a miracle."
But Harvey's sweet dream of making the world healthier came to an abrupt end. On the eve of the launch in 1974, the US Food and Drugs Administration unexpectedly turned against the product.

Legal advice and contact with the FDA had led Harvey to believe that the extract from the berry would be allowed under the classification "generally recognised as safe". Having been eaten for centuries in Africa, without anecdotal reports of problems, it could be assumed not to be harmful.
But the FDA decided it would be considered as an additive which required several years more testing. In the poor economic climate of 1974, this could not be funded and the company folded.
"I was in shock" says Harvey. "We were on very good terms with the FDA and enjoyed their full support. There was no sign of any problem. Without any opportunity to know what the concern was and who raised it, and to respond to it - they just banned the product. "
Harvey remembers a number of strange events leading up to the FDA's decision, beginning immediately after one particular market research test.
His investors, including Reynolds Metals, Barclays and Prudential, had put up big money. They were looking for big returns.
"From the beginning my interest was in the diabetic market but my backers wanted to put double zeros after the numbers we were projecting."

So, in the summer of 1974, miracle berry ice lollies, in four different flavours, were compared to similar, sugar-sweetened versions by schoolchildren in Boston. The berry won every time.
Don Emery, then vice president of the Miralin company, recalls the excitement.
"If we had got beyond the diabetic market we could have been a multi-billion dollar company. We'd have displaced maybe millions of tons of sugar and lots of artificial sweeteners as well."
A few weeks later, things turned sour. A car was spotted driving back and forwards past Miralin's offices, slowing down as someone took photographs of the building. Then, late one night, Harvey was followed as he drove home.
"I sped up, then he sped up. I pulled into this dirt access road and turned off my lights and the other car went past the end of the road at a very high speed. Clearly I was being monitored."
Sugar denial
Finally, at the end of that summer, Harvey and Emery arrived back at the office after dinner to find they were being burgled. The burglars escaped and were never found, but the main FDA file was left lying open on the floor.
A few weeks later the FDA, which had previously been very supportive, wrote to Miralin, effectively banning its product. No co-incidence, according to Don Emery.

Obesity is a massive problem in the West
"I honestly believe that we were done in by some industrial interest that did not want to see us survive because we were a threat. Somebody influenced somebody in the FDA to cause the regulatory action that was taken against us."
The Sugar Association, the trade body representing "Big Sugar" in the US declined to be interviewed on the subject but flatly denied that the industry had exerted any influence over the FDA. The Calorie Control Council, which represents artificial sweetener manufacturers in the US, has failed to respond to questions on the issue. The Food and Drugs Administration also refused to be interviewed and has indicated that a Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation request to look at the relevant FDA files will not be considered for a year.
Faced with this silence, it's virtually impossible to assess what actually happened to prevent the miracle berry's progress to a sugar-free market.

But all hope is not lost for the berry's champions.
Today a firm called BioResources International is trying to produce freeze-dried miracle berry at a plant in New Jersey. Dieters will watch the outcome closely.
[From BBC News website]

Saturday 26 April 2008

Citius, Altius, Fortius (Swifter, Higher, Stronger to you and me)

This year, not for the 1st time the location of the Olympic games has become a cause for political protest - the flame, as it travels the globe, being more a hot potato than a beacon for a new China. Intute, a free online service trawling the net for quality and informative sites has just published "Internet resources for Olympic studies" which brings together a wealth of well research and reliable links to the Games past and present and Event Management in general. And for event management the Olympics are as big as it gets. Amongst other online booklets produced by Intute and of particular interest to students in tourism and hospitality is their "Internet resources for business and tourism" guide, also available to download

Thursday 24 April 2008

Dublin City to charge tourist tax?

A tourist tax is among a number of measures being considered to raise revenue for Dublin City Council.
A meeting of the council's finance committee heard today that a charge of €1 per bed night would raise €24m a year.
Other measures to be considered include raising the amount developers pay for large scale planning applications.
Labour councillor Dermot Lacey claimed that Dublin is owed over €200m a year by central Government.
He says this figure includes the shortfall in funding paid in lieu of rates, the rates exemption for Government buildings in the city and the failure to reimburse the council for the cost of benchmarking.
'Dublin is massively discriminated against in terms of Government funding. Leitrim gets three times as much per capita subvention,' he added.
The proposals for council taxes will be sent to the Commission on Taxation which is due to report after next year's Local Elections.
[From RTE breaking news, 24/4/08]

Wednesday 23 April 2008

Hungary again

On 15th april i put up a post about the dire food i didn't eat in Hungary. In an article about Budapest in Saturdays ITimes travel supplement it talks about how "good food abounds" and "Hungarians love their food." I beg to disagree and as further evidence i would cite the dirth of specialised food shops in that city's centre, the lack of street food and the absense of beautiful food smells eminating from private houses and residences which are always one of the highlights of trips to almost any city in Spain, Italy or France.

Saturday 19 April 2008

Irish spa and wellness retreats categorised for the first time

SPA AND WELLNESS retreats in Ireland have been categorised for the first time under a system launched this week by Fáilte Ireland.
In all, 72 properties have been categorised in a bid to give customers a better understanding of what they are being offered when they go to a spa.
The categorisation is in response to the explosion in the number of health-and-wellness facilities in recent years. Ireland is the first country in Europe to launch such a complete categorisation.
Under the new system, health-and-wellness retreats can be defined under one of four categories: hotel spas, destination spas, resort spas and specialised retreats.
According to Fáilte Ireland, spa-goers will in future be able to make more informed choices about wellness break and find the products that best suit their needs.
Each spa has been assigned to one of the categories based on its facilities and the types of products it offers.
• Destination spas. These are purpose-built spas offering accommodation. Their sole purpose is to offer a comprehensive, full-service wellness-spa experience for overnight or day guests. Three properties have made this category: Monart, in Co Wexford; the Park Hotel, in Kenmare, Co Kerry; and Temple Country Retreat, in Co Westmeath.
• Resort spas. These offer a wide range of on-site leisure activities, as well as a dedicated full-service spa facility. Ten properties are in this category, including Brooklodge, in Co Wicklow; the K Club, in Straffan, Co Kildare; and Sheraton Fota Island Hotel, in Co Cork.
• Hotel spas. This category is broken down into comprehensive hotel spas, extensive hotel spas, selective hotel spas and leisure-club hotel spas. The majority of spas are in the hotel-spa category.
• Specialised retreats. These are dedicated to creating a wellbeing experience. They include health farms, thalassotherapy resorts and seaweed baths.
• For the full list of spa retreats and categorisations, see www.discoverireland.ie/wellness .
• Meanwhile, a Government-funded training initiative has been launched by the Spa and Wellness Skillnet, in partnership with Fáilte Ireland, to develop qualifications for spa managers, owners and staff. It aims to help develop a higher standard of service.
[From piece by Miriam Donohoe, Irish Times, Saturday 19th April 2008]

Tuesday 15 April 2008

Going Hungary

Just back from a business week in Hungary - Budapest and Debrecen. (ehhh where?) Sound people, interesting buildings, wacky language, but the food.... I eat most things and even look forward to airplane meals but in the last week i had 2 of the vilest eating experiences ever. In the "executive" staff dining room of a certain university we were served up a soup of extraordinary awfullness. It was white luke warm and anemic, with large circles of red (i presume paprika based) fat floating on top. Like the surface of Saturn. At the bottom of the bowl various white beans/veg/maggots, i dont know which, tasting of mush. - 2 spoonfuls were enough before moving on to the main course. Innocent looking and harmless i thought - potatoes and meat. But the potatoes- cut up small were cold hard and tasted of detergent. Nestling on top, the meat. Supposed to be veal, it was grey and blubbery, drizzled with a white sauce which i last saw as a special efect in 'Alien v Predator'. I made the mistake of turning it over to find it attached to a piece of carpet tile.
The conference dinner the previous evening was held in a grand hall with the lights turned low - the reason was soon obvious. The main course consisted of a portion of stodgy unadorned white rice, a scoop of potato straight from the workhouse and various 'types' of stringy meat and rubbery veg in a highly toxic luminous Paxo type orange crumb. I've never known my appetite to disapear so quickly. The slab of Victoria sponge that followed could have been used to build a bridge across the Danube.
The Eastern Bloc stereotype of a large fiercesome woman in rather grubby kitchen overalls dishing out dollops of watery slops in a bleak functionalist white tiled canteen has not gone away.

Friday 11 April 2008

Traditional United Europe Food

People interested in the future of traditional food, (or at least those who don't mind a dose of Eurojargon!) may want to know more about TRUEFOOD, a EU project which, according to its website http://www.truefood.eu/ aims to "...introduce suitable innovations into the traditional food industry to maintain and increase the competitiveness of the industry in an increasingly global European market place. This will be achieved through close integration of R&D activities, demonstration and training and dissemination activities."
One of the main challenges in traditional food production is to improve competitiveness by identifying innovations which comply with EU safety policies and regulations and guarantee the safety of traditional food products (TFPs), while at the same time meet general consumer demands and specific consumers expectations and attitudes to innovation in TFPs. This is not an easy task. Consumer expectations are sometimes contradictory. For instance, traditional food consumers demand products, which are completely safe with respect to microbiological hazards but are also minimally processed, free or low in preservative content and of high nutritional and sensory value. This is a particularly challenging task for SMEs, which constitute the majority of European traditional food producers and processors. Research into safety innovations has mainly focused on the needs of large-scale production and processing systems, and SMEs often lack the facilities or capital to establish facilities for microbiological or toxicological safety assurance systems. In addition, recent studies have indicated that many sectors of the traditional food industries have done little to identify and introduce innovations in primary production or processing that can increase nutritionally desirable compounds (e.g. antioxidants, vitamins) and reduce nutritionally undesirable compounds (e.g. salt, sugar, pesticides, saturated fatty acids), while maintaining or improving their sensory qualities. A central goal of the EU policy is therefore to increase the competitiveness of the traditional food sector via improvements in food safety and quality characteristics that can be translated into consumer demand. The TRUEFOOD project focuses on supporting this European strategy.

Tuesday 8 April 2008

Debauchery tourism sets holiday trend

It is a far cry from the civilised city break, relaxing package holiday by the beach, or wholesome trekking trip in the mountains. Inspired by tales of the hedonistic getaways enjoyed by celebrities, the latest fashion for twenty- and thirtysomething holidaymakers is "debauchery tourism" - or debaucherism - according to a global travel trends report released today. http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2007/nov/12/travelnews
Hard drinking, gambling and strip clubs are all on the bill as 25- to 34-year-olds embrace the adult version of the American "spring break" (where college students take to the beaches to party for a week) with a "work hard, play harder" ethic.
Las Vegas reigns supreme as the US capital of debaucherism, the report for this week's World Travel Market in London said. More hotels are offering pool parties and hiring out individual cabanas with lounge chairs and tables for $1,000 (£478) to $5,000 a day. Long-haul destinations expected to cash in include Buenos Aires and Cape Town. Some cruise companies are offering 24-hour entertainment to younger customers. Market intelligence firm Euromonitor International, which produced the report, said the trend would not be confined to younger travellers.
"Even as travellers age they will continue to embrace travel as an opportunity to revisit their hedonistic youth and to spend lavishly, enjoying their leisure time to the full," global travel and tourism research manager Clement Wong said.
Another trend predicted to grow substantially was "diaspora tourism" - immigrants returning to their home countries, often to trace their family roots. The report also said there was untapped potential for "halal tourism" in the Middle East and suggested an airline could be set up offering halal food, calls for prayer, Qur'ans and separate sections for male and female passengers.

Wednesday 2 April 2008

Puddings and Pornography

A new cocktail bar, Tart, which has a porn and puddings theme, has turned classic desserts into alcoholic tipples.
Puddings and Pornography
Cake and alcohol a perfect combination
Leisure is all about experience, with many new ventures looking for different themes to entice clients into their venue rather than buying and consuming cheap drinks at home. Tart, in Smithfield, London, is a new cocktail bar which takes its inspiration from both pornography and puddings. Thankfully the pornography is on the walls and the puddings have been mixed into cocktails. Examples include:
The Lemon Meringue Pie – vodka and lemon cured topped with a disc of meringue The Tiramisu – rum, coffee liqueur and mascarponeThe Rhubarb Crumble Custard – rum, frangelico, rhubarb puree and custard.

Could this help to stem a downward trend in desserts?
Both the traditional eating timetable and the traditional three-course meal seem to be dying out, with over a third of consumers tending to just order a main course when they eat out. So what better way to start a new trend in desserts than to add them to alcohol. Alternatively operators could make a savoury version in an attempt to reinvent “the liquid lunch”.
— March 28, 2008

not April 1st any more. Lost in space with time on your hands

Surprised or what. Bertie Ahern has resigned as First Minister (sorry Taoiseach). Often when they go politicians say it's to spend more time with their families.
Or he could always turn to the latest exclusive travel pursuit - space tourism - "the final frontier", "it's a holiday jim but not as we know it..." etc etc. But with the arrival of various players in the market, space flight as a recreational sport is now a viable if expensive option. It's not Budget Travel but how about Virgin Galacti yeah that Virgin, or Rocketplane or Space Adventures . Holiday in Mars, Baggage in Heathrow terminal 5. And when can we expect to see DIT Faculty of Tourism and Food add to it's stable of courses which includes Leisure management, Event management, Tourism Marketing, Culinary Arts with a BA in Space Tourism.


There is an interesting item in the vintners' magazine Licensing world, which links elderly suicides to pub closures. The journal states that "Leading medical experts are now linking the increasing rate of suicide among elderly irish people, especially those living in country communities, with the demise of the rural pub and the resulting social isolation currently taking hold of rural ireland." The article goes on to say that the damage done by the sense of social isolation is made worse by unregulated solo alcohol consumption at home.

Mind you, some observers of rural life would probably tell you that there was no shortage of depression in past decades when pubs were aplenty, but it must be conceded that the rise in suicides is worrying. Many of Dublin's outer suburban areas are also outside walking distance from pubs, so such patterns may become visible in the commuter belt as well.

In any case, the article is on pp12-13 of the March 2008 issue of Licensing world, in Cathal Brugha St Library.

Monday 31 March 2008

1st April - Spaghetti don't grow on trees

Probably the best, and one of the most famous food April Fools pranks, the bbc current affairs programme Panorama ran a report about the failure of the spaghetti crop. In a deadpan manner and grave posh bbc accent the reporter talked about how the mild winter and the "spaghetti weevil" had had a disastrous efect on the crop. People are seen picking what remained of the crop off the trees. Many viewers fell for it and indeed hundreds apparently rang up the bbc enquiring where could they buy a spag bush. You have to remeber this was 1957 and spaghetti was probably viewed as rather exotic and "foreign". You can have a look at the original tv report from way back in the 50s' at the BBC Panorama website
From a tourism perspective my favourite April fools was the 8 page special suplement published by the Guardian in 1977 devoted to the remote sun kissed islands of San Serriffe. Described in the report as "the idyllic holiday spot" we learnt all about its history, its geography, its culture. It prompted hundreds of enquiries to the Guardian. All very well if San Serriffe had actually existed. The whole thing had been dreamed up as an April fools hoax - the 2 islands: Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse (San Serriffe - sanserif.... geddit) being completely fictious. This and more this April fools at the wonderfully useless Museum of hoaxes

Wednesday 19 March 2008

The Last Supper

Have a good easter everyone. The DIT Cathal Brugha St. library will reopen as normal with lates nights and Saturdays from wednesday 26th March.
One of the best books to arrive in the library recently is My Last supper by Melanie Dunea who has asked over 50 top chefs What would be their desired last meal on earth? who would cook it, where would they eat it, with who, and what music? So... who would begin with half kilo of osetra caviar, who choose singaporean street food? illegal game birds? rack of Boris? (he's a pig) with a salad of ears, wattle and cheeks, or a Krispy Kreme donut for dessert. and what about blowfish testicle pudding with 1000 year old balsamic anyone? Who would do their own cooking? who would drink guiness and who would invite Madonna, Alfred Hitchcock, and Ghandi?
So what would your order be?

Monday 10 March 2008

Advance to GO

The Irish Times saturday travel supplement "GO" has been up and running a few weeks now and is starting to bed in nicely. It's a good mix more than just benign travel gossip and write ups from exotic palm lines beaches. In the last couple of issues theres been informative news pieces about the new classification system for our hotels, the need to attract more British tourists and why Dublin remains tops for our visitors. Features on Barcelona, Rwanda, Cambodia, Bejing for the Olympics and LIVERPOOL, (Ray Blanc take note) as well as various destinations in Ireland. The columists are good to; Marie Murray addressing the issue of "Why do we need to travel?" being particularily insightful.
Each week their Page 3 is given over to last minute deals in Ireland and abroad. Don't know if it's deliberate but it reads a bit like the Take 5 section in the property supplement showcasing what palacial property you could buy abroad for the same price as a 2 bed semi-d in dublin. Last week for instance you could have "3 nights self catering in Laois for 530euros" OR "7 nights in Majorca for 276e". "2 nights in Cork with treatment: 204euros" OR "Tenerife: from 249e". So just what is it that attracts people to Ireland? - the weather?

Monday 3 March 2008

toooo sexy for your town

...what to make of celeb chef Raymond Blanc who's decided that Liverpool is not posh enough for his new restaurant.

Wednesday 27 February 2008

Champagne Charlies

two colourful movers and shakers in Dublin in recent days. At the weekend for a tasting and promoting his premier cuvee was PierreTaittinger, of the champagne dynasty. Having lost control of the family business he recently bought it back for 660mill euros. He described the Irish as "elegant drinkers" and as for the champagne "...global demand is keeping prices reassuringly expensive." Thats v. reassuring. Another alpha male concerned with bubbles in this case property ones is US millionaire, speculator, investment guru Jim Rogers. In town for a speaking engagement he has relocated from America, sees China as the market to be in (he's having his children all learn Mandarin in preparation) the yen as the currency to back and commodoties such as coffee, sugar and cereals as ones to watch. He said "Agriculture is the place to be...food inflation would rise because inventories were at their lowest in 40 to 5o years in some cases." So when can we expect to see the DIT offer a degree programe in Food Science and Chinese.

Wednesday 20 February 2008

The world on a plate

Last Saturday the whole of the Guardian travel section was devoted to a 100 food and drink themed holidays - what they called "Globe troughing" - Best food trails, best street food, best boozy breaks etcetc. Ireland manged 5 entries (i suppose that's not bad) . Under Veggie a mention for Cafe Paradiso in Cork. Under Rustic, making chesse at Corleggy Farmhouse in Cavan. Under Food Trails, Fabulous Food Trails, based in Ranelagh Dublin. Northern Ireland gets an entry as an Underrated Destination - see, it's not just all Ulster fries and steaks larger than your plate. And finally the best oysters are to be had, apparently, in the Shelbourne.
Once when in New York I visited the famous Central Station Oyster bar where they had more that 20 varieties of oysters on offer. The cheapest was $3. I aksed is that for 1 or 1/2 dozen? The barman looked at me and replied with typical New York derision. "Hey buster this is Manhattan."

Friday 15 February 2008

you can't make an omlette without breaking eggs...

...was a famous sinister quote from Joseph Stalin. I don't know if he had any ambitions in the kitchen but one man moving in the other direction, from pantry to politics, is the new Prime minister of Thailand, Samak Sundaravej. He's a top chef in the country with his own TV cookery show "Tasting Grumbling" though it was taken off the air during the military crackdown late last year - imagine if that happened to Gordon Ramsey in the UK. I presume he hopes to get it back on the air now and rule the country with a frying pan in one hand and the ballot box in the other.

and what about elsewhere. Check out the Axis of evil cookbook by Gill Partington in the library to see what meals of mass destruction they're serving up in Iraq, Iran, North Korea and elsewhere

Conference of Tourism and Hospitality Research in Ireland

Shouldn't be advertising the opposition - no i suppose we're all profesional colleagues. The Institute of Technology Tralee will be hosting the 4th Conference of Tourism & Hospitality Research in Ireland on the 10th-11th June. The theme is Reflections: Irish Tourism & Hospitality - A Sucess Story?" (glad they put the ? in) and they have secured an impressive list of keynote speakers including professor and author John Tribe - we've 6 of his books here in the library, Claudia Green, Dir. of Hosp&Tourism @ Pace University, Eamoon McKeon, and Dick Spring. As this is the 4th i was curious to check out previous locations for this bash. Ulster, Waterford and Dundalk. Wot no Dublin? Full conference details from the website or Fiona Tobin in Tralee 066-7191811

Thursday 7 February 2008

Gehry, Garish or Gaudi

Now here's just the man to design the new Grangegorman campus for DIT. He put Bilbao on the map though the city has plenty of other great attractions including the BEST covered food market in the whole of Spain. Anyway one of his latest triumpts is the Hotel Marques de Riscal an hours drive from Bilbao, in Elciego, Rioja country.

If you look closely at their photos and virtual tour you'll see that the concrete exterior changes colour as the sun moves across the sky, and as for the titanium roof billowing like a matadors cape (sorry, enough verbosity). The photographs tell it all or book one of the 14 rooms - you'd get valentines night for 375euros. In the dit library we have a number of books in the "HIP hotels" series by Herbert Ypma ....this is as hip as they come.

Tuesday 5 February 2008

Failte Ireland Tourism Research scheme

This week Failte Ireland launched their Tourism Research Scheme 2008/09 for the Higher Education Sector. All details on their website but it'll probably get more exposure here than there. Three major enhancements to this year's scheme. The Tourism Research Scholarship for postgrads starting in October at 16000euros per annum. Applied Industry Research Fellowship for a practicing academic to undertake a concentrated period of tourism/hospitality research. And thirdly a Thematic Tourism and Hospitality Research Project offering institutional funding up to a max of 150000euros. Full and complete details on the website.

PS treat the post below as a minor loss of editorial control
It is with great regret that Stephen Dunne (pictured) is leaving us to take up a loftier position at DIT Library Bolton Street. We wish him

Friday 1 February 2008

Hospitality Expo 2008

Quick post just to let you know that Hospitality Expo 2008 is running in the RDS 4th-6th Feb. This is the biggest trade show of the year for the industry in Ireland. It covers what it says, hotels, restaurants pubs and clubs, with exhibitors, industry experts and a parellel conference. Trade only and there's a fee for the conference

The captain has now turned off the clothes sign

I decided to forgo a photo on this one. Reuters have reported on a German travel agency that has opened bookings on the first nudist flight. Book now for only 499euros travelling in July from Erfurt (careful how you say that) to the Baltic resort of Usedom (not to be confused with Condom i suppose). It's a small plane, only 55 passengers - or bums on seats, they can't check in naked and the crew will be fully clothed "for safety reasons".
How long before Ryanair start charging an excess clothing fee.

Wednesday 30 January 2008

Giant's Causeway under water by 2100?

In an earlier posting I flippantly remarked that climate change would stop the grumbles of tourists about the Irish weather. Well maybe not. A report commissioned by the National Trust (An Taisc with money and teeth) predicts that rising sea levels caused by melting ice caps will submerge the Causeway by the end of this century. Already stormier weather has increased the rate of erosion of the basalt hexagonal columns and is destroying the spectactular clifftop paths. The report "Shifting sands" was prepared by environmentalists at Queen's University Belfast and University of Ulster.
The lang range forecast: sea level rise 85-100cm by 2100, more extreme storm surges and extreme wave events. Samuel Johnson in the 18th century said about the Causeway "worth seeing, yes: but not worth going to see." Well maybe you should before it's too late

Thursday 24 January 2008

Come fly with me

I really am just about sick of ryanair. In todays rss feed from the guardian (over to the right there) i see that they're going to increase their baggage charges and their check in fees again. And you can forget about bringing the skis and golf clubs. I challenge anyone to find a 1 euro flight out of dublin now for less than 40 with bags and check in. I dont necessarily begruge them maintaining their profits and i do have to worry about my carbon footprint, i just wish all these charges appeared on page 1 as opposed to playing the game of thinking you've got a great bargain (0.01cent) and wondering how did i get here(56.47euros)? Still there's no one i admire more in irish business, find more entertaining and stop what i'm doing to listen to than Michael O'Leary.

Tuesday 22 January 2008

Ireland of the welcomes: Lonely Planet guide 2008

The 2008 Lonely Planet Guide to Ireland has just been released. As Oscar Wilde might say "there's only one thing worse that reading about yourself ..." but if you're from Waterford or Bundoran you might not like what the Planet has to say. However I'd have to agree with their description of Temple Bar - "crappy tourist shops... dreadful restaurants serving bland overpriced food....huge characterless bars...". And as for Belfast "...hip-hotels and hedonism party town" makes it sounds more like Barcelona and Buenos Aires. I was a teenager in Belfast in the late70s when it should have been twinned with Beirut. Caed mille failte or whatever they say....

Monday 21 January 2008

John Fitzgerald

Major profile of John Fitzgerald in the Times on Saturday. As the chairman of the Grangegorman Development Agency he might just be someone you'd like to know a bit more about.