One glorious Sunday evening a short few weeks back, The Swashbuachaill set out with a couple of bottles of vino, a rapidly assembled travelling kitchen and something less than his usual purposeful stride. You see, The Swashbuachaill, bound for uncharted territories, was rather unsure of what lay ahead.
Specifically, The Swashbuachaill was heading off to Ireland’s very first Chaos Cooking event, whereby a group of random strangers assemble in a pre-arranged venue with kitchen, pour a glass of wine and begin cooking dishes large enough for all other attendees to sample.
At an agreed time, usually four hours later, everyone piles in for a blitzkrieg clean up leaving the venue in its original pristine condition, hopefully, having had a great time and made a few new friends.
Organised by Moray Bresnihan and Rose-Anne Kidney, of the truly wonderful web-based arts organisation, Mutant Space, as part of their no-budget festival in Cork city, Trash Culture Revue, this was to be their take on what is currently a very popular social media-based food activity in the US, featuring in NPR and the New York Times.
Chaos Cooking began in a small Brooklyn apartment back in 2009 around a simple concept of Good Food + Good People = Good Times and has mushroomed.
The original founders have hosted up to 80 people in that same small apartment and following the huge media interest, photos and reports started rolling into the website as others cottoned on to the huge potential it had for building new social communities.
In fact, the website is now part of the Chaos Cooking experience, serving as a bulletin board for each new event with invitees registering and logging in.
Well, this all sounds like a quite magnificent wheeze so what exactly was The Swashbuachaill’s problem?
To begin with, a rather half-arsed notion of what exactly he was about to cook and so along with knives, utensils, chopping board, bowls and kitchen sink, he also brought along the contents of one fridge and two cupboards, reasoning a decision would become apparent on learning what the other Chaos Cooks were up to.
The venue was a charming little end-of-terrace house, just off College Rd, Rose-Anne’s new home.
The Swashbuachaill was welcomed with open arms by all and sundry, with only the faintest of raised brows at his small truckload of catering equipment and was soon out in the back yard with his fellow Chaos Cooks, soaking up the last of the evening’s extremely welcome UV rays and soaking up even more of the vino.
Indeed, such was the commitment to the social aspect that it was a good hour before someone made a move to start cooking save the foresighted few (cheatin’ swine!) who had made a head start before the appointed hour.
The Swashbuachaill’s portable kitchen proved a winner in the end as he found space on the corrugated roof of a low-lying storage shed in the yard alongside the sole professional cook amongst us, Tessa Perry, of Baltimore’s Glebe House, who impressed even more with her canniness by avoiding the ‘cooking’ aspect entirely and preparing an exquisite white fish ceviche.
Blessed with a truly appalling memory, The Swashbuachaill would be hard-pressed to match up each participant with their dishes so hopes that each will respond by posting their dish and the recipe in the comments section below.
However, he does recall gnawing rather carnivorously at some succulent, marinaded chicken, a fine beetroot rissotto, marinaded pork chops, a Barry’s tea and pineapple cocktail, a breathtaking array of salads, a lovely monkfish dish, and some dessert dishes, the sooner banned the better as they turned out to be the class of toothsomely sweet concoctions that could cause The Swashbuachaill to make rather a fool of himself, partial and all as he is to the sweet honey from the rock.
And what did The Swashbuachaill end up cooking?
Well, amongst his larder were seven or eight baby squid purchased from Fisherman Steve at the previous morning’s farmer’s market in Douglas.
Cleaned and sliced into rings and dusted in 00 Italian flour seasoned with sea salt and paprika, all they required was a quick turn in the some hot oil (very little of which wound up on Rose Anne’s kitchen flour as The Swashbuachaill’s shoe soaked up the bulk of it. Thankfully, The Swashbuachaill was clad, for once, in something more substantial than his usual Manila Blahniks, the flip flop.)
For dipping purposes, The Swashbuachaill concocted a duck egg and wild garlic aioli made with some of Kitty Colchester’s absolutely stunning Second Nature Rapeseed Oil, Ireland’s very sterling riposte to Olive Oil.
For an impromptu dessert, he simmered some dried morello cherries (from Lenny O’Donovan of O’Donovan Minguella at Mahon Point Farmer’s Market) in red wine with a little vanilla sugar, star anise and cinnamon stick until reduced to a nice syrup.
Onto a spoon, a crumbling of digestive cookie from Jane (also at Mahon P market) and a spoon of the unctuous (usage especially for Moray!) Toonsbridge Buffadelphia Cream Cheese made from the milk of real buffalo roaming the fields west of Macroom.
Into the gob, a single swallow and there was your Single-Spoon New Cork Cheesecake!
Cleaning up was accomplished very swiftly and most successfully but the notion of departure was far from the minds of these Corkonian Chaos Cooks so party rambled on for another few hours.
And as The Swashbuachaill was taking his leave of his wonderful new friends, there were even a few hardier souls waiting on cabs to take them into town and on to one last hurrah in the late bars – God Bless their cotton socks and their youthful vigour but The Swashbuachaill was only fit for his bed albeit to luxuriate in dreams of his next outing to a Chaos Cooking event.
More photos (this time from a pro, Joleen) here