Monday 21 December 2009

books of the year

well everyone else is doing their lists and best ofs. One of the perks of Tourism and Food is the amount of eminently readable books that we order in, unlike say faculty of engineering.... - books that you would consider taking home for a bit of light christmas reading.

Guinness toasted 250 years a brewin' and 2 recent publications Guinnesses - the untold story (cant wait for the movie) and The Guinness story, a smaller more pictorial history, from the Obrien Press retell the tale. TV celebrity chefdom remains as popular as ever, so Shooting the cook: a true story about food television and rise of TV's superchefs is timely and apt. 2 contrasting books published this year chart the influence of the french kitchen. 1st Susan Pinkard's A revolution in taste: the rise of French cuisine 1650- 1800. and then came Au revoir to all that: the rise and fall of French cuisine by the American columist and journalist Michael Steinberger. So take your pick
The godfather of molecular gastronomy, Herve This, published Construisons un repas (Building a meal) in english during the year and we saw a new expanded ed of A history of food by Toussaint-Samat.
Best Reference work: The devil's food dictionary: a pioneering culinary refwork consisting entirely of lies.
Best memoir: Anna del Conti's portrayal of growing up in fascist Italy, Risotto with nettles. though The settler's cookbook by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown isn't half bad either
Best compilation: Eat memory: a collection of essays from the New York Times.
Best escapist non fiction: Out of the East:spices and the medieval imagination by Paul Freedman
On the other side of the food pyramid, RTE journalist Philip Boucher-Hayes published Basket case: whats happening to Ireland's food? And in similar vien, equally sobering, Waste: uncovering the global food scandal by self confessed "freegan" Stuart Tristram. And iIf you want to get away from all this food at this time of year, how about Famine: a short history by Cormac O Grada.
Thats me done for the year. Time for down time with caviar , cocktails and chocolate under the tree

Friday 18 December 2009

winter wonderland

Next week in the spirit of christmas the cathal brugha st library will be open from 9am - 5:30pm monday and tuesday and on wednesday from 9 until a time still to be ascertained but probably mid afternoon.
We will reopen on monday, horribly depressed, 4th January 2010 at 9am - operating normal term time hours. As exams will be looming, we will be open saturdays 9th and 16th January 9:30am -5pm, but lets not think about that right now. Enjoy Christmas and healthy hearty New Year to you.

Saturday 12 December 2009

Let them eat garlic

forget the gold standard (previous post) and put all your monies into garlic. In the most recent Economist a quirky little article on China's latest commodity boom The massive boom in garlic prices - currently easily outstripping copper and rising in value by 77% in the Shanghai stockmarket. Garlic prices are soring in China, but driven be warned not by consumers but speculators Apparently what we are seeing with garlic in China at present is "an asset-bubble-foaming stage." The molecular gastronomists would love that. Or Brian Lenehan could use it when next trying to defend the propping up of our deadbeat banks

Monday 7 December 2009

Let them eat gold

In recessionary times GOLD apparently is your best investment. As a present and to help prepare for christmas i've just received some thru the POST - The least of my worries were the postal charges - it came in leaf not bar form. In trying to find how to cook with it i came across this magical little book in the library, Gastronaut by Stefan Gates There are historical references to gilded walnuts and gilded fish in jelly, recipes for gilded sausages and mash, golden wotsits and golden chips. But best of all it justifies the sheer decadence of cooking with gold - really only worth it if you can't actually afford it - otherwise it's just Dublin 4 wheel drive vulgar. It may be tasteless, odourless, infuriating to handle, entirely devoid of nutrients and cripplingly expensive but "Its an alchemical elevation of food, from fuel to wonder, an escape from reality, a flight of decadent fancy" And where would you buy it.
E. Plotons of course in north london - i'm still trying to find a webaddress.

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Gourmet. not cutting the mustard

I'm siting here flicking through the pages of the final issue ever of the almost legendary Gourmet magazine - the epitomy of style and taste it has been setting trends since it's 1st issue back in 1941. We are lucky to have a run of all issues dating back to 1956. and it makes for interesting social and culinary commentary of the times - from the exotic arrival of gammon and pineapple, from the 1st dressed avocado to the last mango in paris. The surprising thing is you'd never guess it was over from looking at the latest/last issue. No indication, no looking back (not healthy anyway) no nostalgia, no emotional editorial goodbye, rather its all about preparations for thanksgiving. All very peculiar and Mary Celestle like.

And why is it closing it's pages after 50+ years? Money i would say, not making enough, not getting enough ads. Sad sign o the times.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Two "A"s or not two "A"s

Librarians like nothing better than the same word with different spellings (e.g. behavior - behaviour) when searching databases and ejournals. So imagine my unbridled excitment when told about my search for synaesthesia (see post from 9th November) could also be done using the America spelling of the word - without the 1st a. Happy days indeed.

Monday 16 November 2009

post script

Keith Floyd's (see post from 18th sept) autobiography "Stirred but not shaken" is the current BBC Radio 4 book of the week, every morning at 9:45

Monday 9 November 2009

Lexical Gustatory Synaesthesia

1 of my daughters has this interesting talent, if that's what you'd call it, : To her all names or numbers she hears has an associated food taste and smell. (For instance, pick a random name.... Sarah - to my daughter, smells of carrot and corriander soup and tastes of dried apricots. Another..., Christopher - smells of butter and tastes of tomatoes. By chance listening to weekend radio there was a programme about just such a phenomenon and as everything does, it has a name - Synaesthesia. The dictionary describes it as a mixing up in the brain of our 5 senses " a sensation produced in a part of the body by simulation of another part." Obviously i'd never heard of it before but got to thinking it would make an interesting subject to do a bit of research or a dissertation topic for a culinary arts, food science or even a hospitality student, from a number of different angels.
So just out of curiousity i went to Web of Science , did a search for synaesthesis - back came 303 references to journal articles. Then added in the word taste as well and that brings back 19. And curiously 1 of the 1st articles i look at describes work that Heston Blumenthal (no stranger to this blog) is doing about tasting words and how we could develop a new food language. Then off i go to Science Direct, try the same searches and it brings up 1220 and 145 respectively. And remember a lot of these are full text journal articles. And then to change the focus somewhat, did the same search inPsychInfo and that came back with 269 and 19 respectively for the same searches.
There - i've basically researched and written someones dissertation for them

Monday 2 November 2009

L'ange cuisine

Mairtin Mac Con Iomaire, a DIT lecturer in culinary arts has appeared before in this blog. That had to do with his top of the ratings cookery show Aingel sa Chistin. In Saturdays Irish Times he had a big spread with a photo as well, all to do with the award of his PhD., the 1st of its kind in Ireland on food history, or more precisely, on the development of French haute cuisine in Dublin. It took him 5 years to complete - i know - we were part of the process, and runs to 3 volumes which reflects the meticulous and thorough research that was put into it. Congratulations are on order. His degree will be conferred next Saturday. The idea now is to take the PhD and turn it into what would promise to be a very interesting and readable book We might try and see if we can get an exclusive comment from the proud chef, or maybe i'll have to go through his agent.
(photograph from the Irish Times)

Thursday 29 October 2009

selling out or cashing in

1 of the recent Mintel reports that Richard didn't mention in his post of 9th Oct was the Impact of Cross- Border Shopping Ireland August 2009 It's an emotive issue, currently taking up acres of newspaper column inches: "25% jump in cross border shopping" and "Shopping in North to cost exchequer 430m in lost tax" are just 2 headlines from the last few days. So should we all be patriotically avoiding the temptation to go north or is it a question of you'd be mad not to when the price differences are so glaringly extreme? On a recent visit to londonderry our taoiseach was late for a meeting with the North's 1st minister. Peter Robinson was overheard to remark. "Perhaps Brian is taking advantage of favourable exchange to do a quick bit of shopping". A typical dry Belfast comment

Tuesday 20 October 2009

Cafe en Thames

just back from a few days at a disappointing conference in London. I was staying in Hammersmith and felt it only right and purely (of course) for reasons of research took dinner 1 night in the highly thought of River Cafe. which gained its reputation from relying on top quality produce harvested and used freshly in season. It was a delight and treat, the flavours crisp pure and true. The service from moment of arrival relaxed, genuine, professional, wthout being over powering snotty or snooty. And not at Dublin prices. Do we have any placement students there?
While food is usually best taken in company I think it was better that night that i was eating alone as it really helps you savour every moment and mouthful. And what was on offer last wednesday.....? 1 example from each course:
Anti pasti: Capesante in padella - scottish scallops seared with anchovies chilli capers, majoram & aubergines.
Primi: Zuppa di Zucci - New season's chestnut, pumpkin & farro soup with pancetta, rosemary and xtra virgin olive oil.
Secondi: Branzino ai ferri - chargrilled fillet of wild sea bass with salsa verde, slow cooked fennel and roast trevise. (thats what i had)
Dolci e Gelati: Stracciatella ice cream.
and then there was the Formaggi: from La Marche, Sardegna, the mountians of Veneto, matured in the ground, for 7 months, under grape pressings. And don't get me started on the wine.
All the books from the River Cafe in our library can be seen here
Another interesting culinary experience i had the week before was with the monks of Glenstall abbey. There was company alright at table - the only problem was everyone eats in complete silence - just like the library. And even they have their own cookbook.

Friday 9 October 2009

What are we like - now?

For a detailed, scientific analysis of how recession-hit Irish tourism and food consumers are behaving, it is hard to bertter the findings of a recent batch of market reports put out by Mintel, the market analysis and forecasting specialists, and available in DIT.

These include reports on:

Healthy eating (September 2009)
Premium food and drink (August 2009)
Short breaks market (July 2009) and
Food tourism (May 2009)
(click on headline above for link to these)

The reports certainly confirm that Irish consumers are counting the pennies. However, good quality, like good value for money, is continuing to command loyalty, and so it is reasonable to suppose that businesses which deliver those things are not suffering as much as others.

Wednesday 30 September 2009

Organic food fraud

The Barbour index i've mentioned before (see post from 5th Aug) as being one of the best full text resources available through the library web site. Organic food has also appeared before (last post 30th July). The latest weekly Barbour Briefing Food Safety, which i receive by old fashioned email contains a report on a company director who was jailed in the UK for a £1million organic food scam. Over a 5 year period the company was suppling its customers with conventionally grown foods falsely posing as organic. I would suggest that this is not an uncommon industry practice The other Directors received suspended sentences and 150 hours of community work. The scam was uncovered by the Food Standards Agency who must i presume have a Food Fraud Flying Squad.
I once knew a hairdresser working in London who had a salesman offering her aerosols of hair spray or somesuch product. When she enguired whether they were environmentally sound the guy assured her " we can always put these "eco friendly" stickers on them if you want"

Friday 18 September 2009

Floyd and Child

some of our younger readers probably do not remember the TV celeb chef Keith Floyd who died earlier this week. Roguish mischievous red wine swilling ad libbing and definetily not PC bon vivant, he was something entirely fresh on the airways when he first arrived with the Floyd on Food series in 1986. This was followed by all sorts of other culinary adventures, Floyd in America, in Africa, in Spain, in Britain and Ireland and indeed he settled for a few years in Kinsale where i once came across him drinking whiskys in a pub at 10:30 in the morning - well it was New Years Day. You can relive his greatest moments probably on YouTube and his books in the library.
Another of the "older"(they don't boil them like they used to) generation of chefs currenting receiving a lot of attention is the American Julia Child who died in 2004 and is the subject of the film Julia & Julia, starring Beryl Streep. Vibrant, opinionated, eloquent, and very tall, Child was responsibile for introducing a whole generation of America to the mysteries of French cuisine. We have of course a selection of her books and also a whole issue of Gastronomica (summer 2005 Vol5:3) was devoted to her life. The film is receiving many favourable comments including...."watching the film is like sitting down to a plate of beautifully sauteed Dover sole accompanied by a bucket of congealed Pot Noodle." When it comes out on dvd we'll buy it

Friday 11 September 2009

Irish top 100 brands '09

No wonder we're a nation of unhealthy looking fatties. The August issue of Checkout magazine features their annual roundup of the most popular and purchased items by Irish consumers. A MAd Mens dream, the magazine also does some number crunching and gives us a breakdown of the top 50 alcohol brands, top 20 wines, spirits, beers (top is Budweiser not Guinness) and the top 100 categories - that is groupings of similar products or brands. And the top 5 there (in reverse order) are Crisps/Snacks, Packaged Bakery, Carbonated Soft Drinks, Milk and at No.1...Confectionary Some diet that, it kind of stands the food pyramid on it's head.
And the top 7 individual brands, again in reverse order, are Cadbury DairyMilk, Tayto, Danone, Brennans, Lucozade, Avonmore and top of the cholesterol inducing pile, the real thing: Coca-Cola.
Full details in Checkout available in the library but unfortunately not available electronically
PS this is the top 100 brands and this is our blog's 101st post.

Wednesday 9 September 2009

and i thought there was a recession on

budding converts and employees in the tourist, hospitality and catering trades start into their academic studies next week and the library will be one of the major support services for the next 2,3 0r more years. Good luck to them all. There's no point in us having all these books and journals on our shelves and full text available online if they're not being used. Nor will many have as great a chance to access quality information and material as you will when you're a student. And at the end of it the prospect of a rewarding, challenging and hopefully glittering carrer. perhaps as a.... Director of..... Sleep? Hotels no doubt are feeling the pinch of reduced spending on holidays and leisure - as an aside Just today Doyle Hotel Group announced a loss of 99.9mill euros for 2008. However obviously no such worries at The Westin Hotel who have a full time post as - a Director of Sleep who will advise guests on how to get a good nights sleep. Hmmmmm.

Monday 31 August 2009

My Big Fat Greek cookbook

and just to reiterate our commitment to intelligentsia and good taste, (see the blog post 28th august) the library will not be putting in an double digit advance order for Peter Andre's sizzling new "family cookbook" for which he is receiving an estimated £1.5m. Apparently it will be a "single man's guide to keeping a family well fed with delicious and easy to prepare meals." Which family ? - and if you're a single man what are you doing anyway cooking for a family? doh

Friday 28 August 2009

late summer reading and viewing

Since the last post, on tans sunbeds and kellogs i've had 2 weeks ireland....without much sun. But in the meantime Mary Harney the beleaguered health minister has called for a complete ban on sunbeds in ireland. Also in my absense a related book Sunshine: why we love the sun has arrived in the library. Written by Robert Mighall he wants to know why does it make us happy, when did it become the essential summer holiday ingredient? It's a good summer read - 1 for the beach under the (sun) umbrella; witty, idiosyncratic, full of timely anecdotes. Not so easy to read in term of subject matter is Waste: Uncovering the global food scandal by Tristram Stuart a self confessed freegan......agh look it up yourself.

1.6m - the est. number of tons of food waste produced by British retailers annually.
5.4m - the est. number of tons of edible food British households throw away annually.
40% - the est. proportion of UK fruit&veg that supermarkets reject on cosmetic grounds.
40% - the est. proportion of salad that British households throw away.

To finish on a lighter note perhaps, we also saw a slew of good movies arrive over the summer including Ratatouille (prehaps one of the best foodie movies of all time) which i took home and savoured last night.
DIT - intelligentsia and good taste.

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Pour out the sunshine

A very readable and informative article by Ester Addley in the Guardian on the social history of tanning and the dangers of sunbeds. How Britain fell in love with the tan. Amongst many of the things i learned was that J.H.Kellogg while not inventing Corn Flakes was busy developing the 1st sunbed or "incandescent light bath". As Richard here in the library remarked, it brings a whole different meaning to "SNAP CRACKLE and POP"
There has been a lot of serious debate recently about the carcinogenic dangers of uv, sunbeds, their overuse by many including children. One of the best places to check on current research and background would be on The Barbour Index which the library subscribes to. And if you're interested you can get their weekly briefings direct to your email. The Briefings are in 3 areas: Food Safety, H&S, and Environmental Health. In this weeks' Environmental there are articles on Pandemic preparedness, Improved drinking water quality, and sunbed risks which includes latest developments and links to other relevant sources. You have to sign up to the Briefings and the Barbour Index is one of those few library resources that you need a password to access - you'll have to contact the library for that. But it's worth the effort.

Thursday 30 July 2009

Organic food is BAD for you

Well not quite true but it's a good headline. A report was published yesterday for the Food Standards Agency by the very impressive sounding 'Nutrition and Public Health Intervention Unit, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine', comparing organical Versus "conventionally" produced foods. In terms of nutritional value they found no added health benefits from consuming organic rather than any other type of produced food. However that said the reason many people choose organic food is to do with other factors. (this is my own research now) My basis for buying organic would be to do with supporting farming in a traditional manner, to support a method which tries to avoid polluting the environment with pesticides etc. Come to think of it i'd never given any thought to the nutrition value or properties of an organic rather than a "conventionally" grown potato

Friday 24 July 2009

omlettes are not made without breaking eggs

While reading something else recently i came across this delicious quote by Charles De Gaulle "HOW CAN YOU GOVERN A COUNTRY THAT HAS 246 VARIETIES OF CHEESE."
It got me checking whether the library had any books of food quotations. There are a couple: The cook's quotation book and Cooks Quotations. But while they contain many gems from Napoleon "an army marches on it's stomach" to Miss Piggy "Never eat more than you can lift" they are both rather slight. No index of authors or subjects or by word which would be good if you wanted to find quotes say only on cheese. So the search is on for a comprehensive, decent book of food related quotation.
and is it true, to paraphrase Brillat-Savarin, that you are what you eat? Brillat-Savarin

Friday 17 July 2009

The last post

There was a famous Sun headline back in 1978 when the paper feared that the Labour party were going to win the next British Election. It went something like "WILL THE LAST ONE TO LEAVE PLEASE TURN OUT THE LIGHT". That's what it feels like waking up to the Bord snip nua report Vol 1 AND Vol 2 which leaves no one untouched. You wouldn't want to be old or sick young trying to go to school, living in the country and waiting for a policeman anymore. I suggest ireland now adopt the quote to be found at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty "bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses...."
So what effects for our tourist industry? Well the report recommends a full year expenditure saving in the dept of Arts, Sports & Tourism of 105mill euros and they could reduce their staff while they're at it by 170. Therefore, they conclude if you're going to make such savings anyway you might as well "transfer the functions to other deptarments. " There is significant duplication in the dept - so lets get rid of, (sorry) "discontinuation" of Sports Campus Ireland and the Irish Film Board. There is a proposed reduction in allocation to Failte Ireland of 15m euros (sure wasn't there a 74% increase in their staff numbers between 2004 and 2007) and 12m to the Tourism Marketing Fund. There's also saving to be had at Tourism Ireland but as it's a cross border body they decline to say just how much could be cut there.

Tuesday 14 July 2009

Can't live with them, can't fly without them

love them or hate them you gotta give them credit (though they'll charge you). The latest wheeze from Michael O'RiotAir is looking at the possiblility of you standing on shorthaul flights. There is an online poll currently running on the Ryanair website asking punters if they would stand if it meant free fares or if your fare was 1/2 that of a seated passenger.
On the same Ryanair news page at present there is a link under the heading "I'm still standing" to this 1 minute YouTube video from Dublin's 98FM Morning crew. It's interesting to see that from a shrewd marketing viewpoint they'll put up some things on their website that obviously harmlessly pokes fun at their image. It's all to do with the truism that there's only i thing worse that people talking about you...
Sure isn't this a bit more free publicity

Thursday 9 July 2009


There is a new tourism policy being developed - Happiness! Failte Ireland and Tourism Ireland have joined forces to call on everyone in the industry to be cheerful and confident, and to spread the same feeling to tourists and everyone else.

The new SHINE campaign (web page ) aims to bring about a tourist experience which is "Spontaneous, engaging and fun!" The key to this is to change how tourism people are perceived.

As the campaign's web page says, this should centre on being:

Happiness is infectious – Enjoy what you do and that will rub off on everybody!
Having a natural curiosity which helps you deliver a great experience.
You don’t have to be a local to connect with customers. But you do have to be real, genuine, honest – people will sense and appreciate your sincerity.
Knowing your business, your locale, your customer’s needs.

Isn't this Irish kind of nice is the vital hidden ingredient which proved so elusive during the boom years? Did it disappear for ever or can we now bring it back to life?

Tuesday 7 July 2009

Come back to Erin

"Come back to Erin" is the title of an exhibition of 20th-century Irish travel posters which is taking place at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, until 27th August. Most of these posters were put out by the railways and other transport companies, and were aimed at luring emigrants, those of Irish descent, and tourists to our shores and to our nascent tourism industry.

The museum's own web page says the exhibition " features a selection of strikingly colourful travel and tourism posters spanning the decades from 1908 to the 1970s. This was a period when mass tourism began to develop and also represented a period of great growth in the advertising and marketing industry. Some of the poster images by the Irish artist Paul Henry in particular became best sellers even in the 1920s and became essential images of Ireland and traded internationally."

Well worth a visit for anyone interested in the history of irish tourism, or even just decent posters.

Wednesday 1 July 2009

another bright idea from those google people

osh, Sorry, i've been away.
There's an interesting new book in the library called What would Google do? and it seems that there is very little now that they don't do. It's not mentioned in this book, which concentrates more on the new ways of doing business in the google era, but the company is now venturing into the tourist area of that much loved pasttime - the city break. Google city tours promises to come up with itineries for visiting most major cities depending on the number of days you stay. It's still in development from Google labs and like the gum in Roald Dahl's 'Charlie and the chocolate factory' it still needs a bit of work but it's useful for suggestions and ideas. It obviously exploits the technology of google maps and like all good sites today allows you to add and suggest other attractions.

Friday 5 June 2009

fighting them on the beaches

of course we couldn't take complete credit for any government u-turn but just a day after our post about unacceptable beach litter the minister for the environment (quoted from the Times) pledges to ensure that the ..."moratorium on public service recruitment does not hamper efforts to protect and preserve the State's coastlines and beaches.
Now what about those dit library contract posts?

Thursday 4 June 2009

something rotting in the state of ....

i took yesterday afternoon off as 1 should at the 1st hint of good weather in this country (carpe diem duh) and went en famille (wow another french phrase) to the beaches of wicklow. You couldn't stay at Brittas Bay because of the amount of rubbish so went to another less well known beach (you have to walk down to it) closer to Wicklow town. So while I'm sitting there I read in the Independent about the tonnes of rubbish being left uncollected at the country's beaches over last weekend. No litter staff, no bin emptying etcetc all due to "significant financial and staffing cohnstraints". Now i absolutely accept that any normal person should clear up after themselves but cutting back on such services is just pathetic and short sighted and will no nothing to encourage tourists or promote the image of green unspoilt Ireland.
Some serious lack of priorities here as public autorities fight to cope with the economic downturn. It's as unthoughtout as the proposed moratorium on filling of posts and not renewing contracts which may be imposed on the 3rd level educational sector. For us in the library that means the distinct possibility of DIT libraries not opening weekends or evening in the next academic year

Wednesday 20 May 2009

every dog, turtle, veg has it's day

Apparently today is world turtle day. It's always someone or somethings day. Last week it may or may not have escaped your notice was....wait for it National Watercress Week. and not only that but it clashed with National Vegetarian Week. Not that i've anything against watercress - some of my favourite recipies feature watercress and it punches above it's weight for a Green but it's just...What doesn't have a national week now? Go to google and i dare you to search any food item with the term "National week or day" and there'll be very few from courgette to zucchini that don't get celebrated at some time during the year.
I suppose it's all just about marketing, branding, promotion and profile and when is National Sour Grapes Day?

Friday 15 May 2009

ministry of food

A plug for Dermot Seberry, a lecturer in culinary arts and gastronomy @dit. All the proceeds from his recent cookery book 'Learn to dine out at home' went to mission teams digging water wells in Nigerian villages in Benue State with names like Mbadaku, Cseagure and Ikpayongo. The book has now been revised and reissued (selling like hot cakes) and all proceeds of this ed. will aid 'Lifeline Recovery - The Ministry of Food' This is part of a community based training programme which Dermot is involved in which equips recovering & broken men get back on their feet with the life skill of 'how to cook' as they return to their homes. More details on buying the book and the projects at Dermot's website.

Tuesday 5 May 2009

Life, beer, philosophy, food, space, architecture and everything.

i was thinking again about that elvis quote from the last posting - "writing about music is like dancing about architecture" and just remembering (guiltily) that we do have a book in the library called Eating architecture which explores the relationship between the 2, food and architecture, which explores what can be learned by examining the often metaphysical intersection of the preparation of meals and the production of space: how architecture engages issues of identity, ideology, conviviality, memory and loss, that cookery evokes. Who said we don't do deep at DIT.
OK maybe better to stick with Beer & Philosophy edited by Steven Halesby a recent arrival in the library. I'm sure most of us have been victims of beer fuelled philosophy in our days maybe even responsible for some, but this goes a bit beyond pub politics. How about chapter titles like 'Beer and Gnosis.' 'Beer goggles and transcendental idealism.' 'Beer, intoxication and power in Nietzsche's thought.' 'The metaphysics and epistemology of beer.' Perhaps I'll just start with Ch. 5 'Why is American beer so lousy?'

Thursday 30 April 2009

Danceable solution

So can you have a dance piece premised on what we eat and how it defines us? If you happen to be in london this may holiday weekend you might consider going to see "...the gifted and respected.." (Evening Standard), Shobana Jeyasingh Dance company perform Just Add Water at the Linbury Studio. A full dance piece exploring how cultural differences can be influenced by our obsession with food and cooking. A kind of gastro gymastics which sets out to find out "is cross cultural eating the greatest success story of our time?" Food fights, food prejudices, food fads and food fusions all waiting to be danced off. But will it rise or will it curdle? - bit like that remark Elvis Costello once made "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture."
and here's a LINK to their promo trailer on YouTube

Tuesday 21 April 2009

location location location

Imagine. The Plaza or Algonquin in NYC, The Peninsula in HongKong, Raffles in Singapore, The George Cinq in Poris France, All very desirable all very exclusive. Now add the Hilton Ordos ....thats in aaahhh Inner Mongolia, home of Genghis Khan. Passing trade? a weekend break? You might have your work cut out there for PR & marketing. Selling discounted rooms to commuting Yaks i suppose, but as Marco Pierre White remarked recently "...a recession is the most obvious time to open a restaurant" and other mavericks like Alan Sugan and Michael O'Leary would agree with such an outlook The firm that won the open competition to design the hotel is VMX, based in Amsderdam and behind it all an Irish architect, Don Murphy.

Thursday 9 April 2009

Well done to our corkers!

Congrats to the two 4th-year Culinary Arts students Mark Jennings and Anne-Marie Fitzgerald, who have won the final of the 2009 Bolton Trust student enterprise competition for their innovative idea for a home wine tastings service. They bested 40 other proposals with this brilliant and timely leisure business concept. Congrats also to Bernard Smith for once again mentoring a team onto the winners' podium.

Next stop for this super crew ought to be the Dragons' den, where there surely would be a unanimous vote of - I'm in!

Monday 6 April 2009

The book, the library and the serial killer

the latest issue of Gastronomica has recently arrived in the library. As entertaining as always it includes an interesting little article on the inside back page about a book A History of Gastronomy by Jay Jacobs. The book once lived in the Libray collection at Revere St. High School in Richfield Ohio and back in those days before all this computer fandangalry patrons had to sign books out. On 14th Oct 1978 it was taken out by one Jeffrey Dahmer If you've forgetton that notorious name he was responsible not just for killing possibly as many as 17 people, but also eating parts of them as well. Oct 1978 was just 4 months after it's believed he had killed and eaten for the 1st time. We dont currently have a copy of A History of Gastronomy in the library but we'll see if it's still available.

Thursday 2 April 2009

Socca to me

Now that we are all poor again, it might be a good time for us foodies to look at cheap, tasty and traditional food. Nothing I have seen recently hits the spot better than a snack I had recently in Nice. This was socca, a crispy pancake made of chickpea flour and olive oil. A portion of socca filled me for my lunch, and in that far-from-cheap city, it set me back 2.50 Euro!

This is exactly the sort of thing we need to develop here in place of having to choose between exorbitant and fattening panini or filled baguettes on one hand, or lifeless hang sangwiches on the other. How about asking Trevor Sargent to run a competition to develop the Irish answer to socca?

Here is a link to the Wikipedia description of socca, which seems to be as good as any:

Saturday 21 March 2009


I suppose it was inevitable.
Fed up with Fandango? the minimalist look, boutique hotels just too cool for their own good, the chic and exclusive. The new look in town is designer scuffed, make it look like a tenament, embrace peeling wallpaper, mismatched furniture, exposed pipes, rising damp. Originating of course in America - go on, try booking the Ace Hotel in Manhattan - it made it's way across the atlantic and i presume 'tis only a mattter of time before "the look" arrives in Ireland. Have a gawk at the imagery page of the The Rough Luxe King's Cross, London to see where it's at. It's all a bit tooo close to the bone and reminisent of the send up Derelict campaign from the fashion industry film satire Zoolander. So save your money and go and rent the movie.
Thanks to the Guardian magazine for bringing it to my attention

Friday 20 March 2009

Easter opening hours at Cathal Brugha Street

Cathal Brugha Street Library opening hours for the Easter period will be as follows:

Monday April 6th - Wednesday April 8th: 9am to 9pm.
Thursday April 9th: 9am to 1pm.
Friday April 10th to Tuesday April 14th, inclusive: closed.
Wednesday April 15th and Thursday April 16th: 9am to 9pm.
Friday April 17th: 9am to 5pm.
Saturday April 18th: 10am to 5pm
and normal term-time opening thereafter.

A Happy Easter to all our readers!

Wednesday 11 March 2009

Hospital, airline food and more

This photo essay TAIWAN'S FLAVOURS OF THE MONTH appeared on the Guardian travel site in the last couple of days.
I thought they could do with the extra international exposure.
It caputures an oddd....very odd, collection of eatteries which could only open and thrive in the inscrutable Far East

Tuesday 24 February 2009

DIT students push Oscar winners off the front page

Time to move on from the Oscars, after predicting huge success for slumdog - see below.
HEY it may be the photo on the front page of the Irish Times today and i probably should have asked for permission but HEY they are our students and those are our PANCAKES. The guys in question are all students in the BA culinary arts or the Cert in Professional Cookery course and have now been rounded up and returned to the safety of the kitchen after running amok on OConnell st. For aspiring flippers and students the next open day for the DIT Faculty of Tourism and Food, School of Culinary Arts is April 2nd

Monday 26 January 2009

Slumming it

will do anything for publicity on this blog. I see the success of the motion picture Slumdog Millionaire (the book's better) has lead to an new demand for tours of the slums of Mumbai and an increase interest in "poverty tourism" in general. Obviously this raises a lot of Questions and fewer Answers about the moral dillema of this type of tourism. We do have at least 1 book on this subject in the library. Pro-poor tourism: who benefits. And we also cover almost every aspects of tourism imaginable with books on eveything from wine tourism, gay tourism, monarchy tourism, sports tourism, ecotourism of course, film tourism, etcetc and the rather dodgy dark tourism. which explores peoples fascination with visiting places associated with death tragedy and disaster.
One of the delights of growing up in Belfast was talking visiting friends to places like Milltown cemetry up the Falls Road with its Republican plot and associated Nationalist history, and who can forget Michael Stones' infamous attack on mourners back in 1988. Now of course black taxi tours of "The Troubles" loyalist and nationalist areas of the city are big business.

If you could spot the next niche market you'd be on to a winner........Howsabout credit crunch tourism with visits to decaying financial services areas and down and out bankers. See also post from 22nd oct last.

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Blog Bless America

apropos of nothing to do with the subject matter of this blog, Passing the American embassy in ballsbridge, dublin this morning and seeing their flag flying gave me a sense of pride satisfaction and hope that i didn't think i'd ever see again. Hand of history time Barack and as he quoted yesterday from Corinthians, "the time has come to set aside childish things." The same can't be said for those ejits, in Offaly is it? who are trying to lay some irish ancestrial claim to the man.
I'm not being biased here and have no American blood.

Friday 16 January 2009

Aingeal sa Chistin - kitchen angel...i think

There are some very talented people in the DIT School of culinary arts and now 1 of them, Mairtin Mac Con Iomaire, is in danger of becoming the next celebrity chef. Think inflated egos that have to be massaged, raving tempers, prima - that's the library. I managed to catch the second of Mairtin's new lifestyle and cookery programme Aingeal sa Chistin on TG4 last night at 8pm. It's wonderfully well thought out, refreshing and professional. Each week Mairtin helps out a friend who is planning a special occasion or event. Last night he was in connemara helping to prepare a bar-b-q for a family reunion. The focus was on doing fish and shellfish as opposed to the usual burgers and dodgy chicken. What made it so good was the way it showed the whole family helping to prepare the food, children helping their mother make ruhbarb crumble and everyone relaxing, exploring rock pools, canoeing, fishing, etc at the beach - that couldn't have been filmed last summer? Could it? And if you looked very closely you could see the dit logo on the side of Mairtins' apron

Wednesday 7 January 2009

What cookbooks really tell us

the Christmas (that seems like a long time ago) issue of the Economist had a marvellous light piece on the history of cookbooks. Pluck a flamingo took us on a romp from Apicius through to the celeb chefs of today, taking in the Italian Renaissance chef Maestro Martino, Englands housewife's favourite Isabella Beeton, the french doyen Escoffier, the queen of American home cooking Fannie Farmer, and so on. Interestingly many cookbooks reflected the ages in which they were published, whether that be social upheaval, the Reformation, Revolution or Civil War. Plagiarism really took off with the invention of printing while the order of the Renaissance was reflecected in their cookbooks. But why do we need them and why the insatiable appetite for them? Worth reading, as is most of their Christmas bumper edition - online or of course in glossy format in the library - articles on the attractions of oysters, of chilies, the link between sex and scent, also between music murder and shopping, Angels in the virtual world, Tintin, AND the worlds largest cookery library....... in Parma, Italy