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'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"