10 Cookbooks You Should Own?

It’s the closest I’ve come to generating a twitter firestorm – well, maybe more of a twitter firelog but it’s certainly the most tweets I’ve ever received in response to a query for an article I was writing, published in the Irish Examiner Weekend Magazine. The query? Name ten cookbooks you should own. And then the tweets began a-tumblin’ in. I even received an email furnishing his top ten from a man so profoundly allergic to the whole social media phenomenon, he was unable, physically, mentally or morally to respond with a tweet. But he is also a man who knows his onions, the 101 things you can do with them and a whole load of other foodstuffs besides, with a veritable library of fabulous cookbooks to bolster that knowledge.Continue reading “10 Cookbooks You Should Own?”

Meeting Mattie Kiely

Mattie Kiely, former proprietor of Ireland’s finest ever fish & chip shop

So The Swashbuachaill hightailed it off to France recently for the full pair of weeks seeking refuge from the deluge but it turns out precipitation and lots of it is currently the in-thing right across North Western Europe. But, as always, it began promisingly with the always-pleasurable cruise out of Cork Harbour on the Pont Aven, a most superior take on ferry travel for those of us, veterans of the Slattery’s coach trips to London in the 80s.

And then, lo, who should I spy in the vessel’s piano bar (‘piano bar’, says you!) – none other than a true Cork legend, Mattie Kiely, formerly of the late and very much lamented, Kiely’s chipper on Maylor St, in Cork. Mattie was en route to Lourdes, an annual pilgrimage he makes with his lovely wife and a group from Ballinlough, the Cork suburb where he lives (turns out I lived around the corner from him for a number of years and never knew!) but for me, this was a culinary equivalent of heading off to Mecca and bumping into Mohammed along the way. Safe to say, if Kiely’s were still open then any arguments over the best fish and chips in Cork, nay, Ireland would all be redundant — when Kiely’s was around there was simply no other competition.Continue reading “Meeting Mattie Kiely”

Chaos Cooking

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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.Continue reading “Chaos Cooking”

Craft beer drinkers can tell their Elbows from their arses

Another lovely little bit of news for Irish craft beer drinkers (and anyone else in Ireland who claims to be fond of a pint) comes with the arrival of a new brewing company, launching three new beers.

Cork-based Elbow Lane will be debuting Angel Stout, Wisdom Ale and Elbow Lager over the next two months and having had the privilege of an early tasting, The Swashbuachaill can only raise a glass to these new arrivals and the continuing rude health of the truly burgeoning craft beer sector, seemingly unaware of the global economic meltdown.Continue reading “Craft beer drinkers can tell their Elbows from their arses”

Cruelty, neglect and abuse

my bottom hurts.....jpg

Leaving one very happy coachman to count up one very tidy tip, The Swashbuachaill alighted at the gates of his staggeringly palatial home sometime after dawn just a few short days back. Having enjoyed a most splendid evening abroad on the town, he reasoned a brisk walk and the balm of some fresh morning dew would be just the tonic before repairing to the boudoir for a good fortnight of rest and recuperation and proceeded to crunch his way merrily up the long, gravelled driveway.

But, he’d hardly made 2 miles when he was cast into the ditch on one side by a most terrifying apparition, a coach and horses travelling at a mighty lick, hogging the width of the entire road and the reins held by a most scabrous villain, pictured above. It was the Childcatcher!Continue reading “Cruelty, neglect and abuse”

Fungarvan – Waterford Festival of Food 2012

The Brewer (Claire Dalton), The Blogger (Niamh Sheils) & The Baker (Eunice Power) - Pic: Karen Dempsey

So, The Swashbuachaill is back home again, and contrary to the old saw, the heart is not yet here, still lagging way behind somewhere east of Cork city, loath to leave Dungarvan town. And the spiteful, spitting rain, that sly chill wind without Swashbuachaill Manor only adds to the pain of returning to the real world after yet another glorious spell in the alternative universe that is the Waterford Festival of Food but is often and very appropriately abbreviated to ‘Fungarvan’.Continue reading “Fungarvan – Waterford Festival of Food 2012”

An Early Christmas


There is a giddiness abroad in The Swashbuachaill household, a nervous tension the like of which only prevails before the rare Christmas when I’ve been, by and large, a good and very deserving boy throughout much of the preceding year. (Or at the very least, intended to be.)

But we’re a long way off Christmas – The Swashbuachaill’s anticipatory fervour comes on foot of his eagerly awaited first delivery of wine from Red Red Wine, an Irish company owned by Tom and Elena O’Loughlin who are based in the South of France and sell online directly to private customers at wholesale prices, averaging about five deliveries nationwide per annum.Continue reading “An Early Christmas”

Oil Crisis?


Here’s a link to my recent Irish Examiner review of a tremendous – and tremendously important – book, Extra Virginity: The Scandalous and Sublime World of Olive Oil by Thomas Mueller (Atlantic Books)

Though I ate a shedload of Mediterranean food in London during the 80s, olive oil remained a rather nebulous concept to me (and indeed to most Londoners at the time), I didn’t especially differentiate between oils – it simply existed. But at the beginning of the nineties, I worked for a spell with the Real Olive Company, doing markets and prep back in the warehouse. Thus began my education, learning about multiple varieties of olives and oils. Or so I thought. In reality my education began with this book. Several years ago, I read the original New Yorker article, subsequently expanded to produce this book, and found it, I must admit, profoundly depressing, focussing almost entirely as it did on the huge fraud in the olive oil industry.

Thankfully, Mueller expands enormously from that particular emphasis in the book so there is maybe a glimmer of hope for the future of a foodstuff which is utterly precious to me. But I have been very, very wary of where and how I purchase my oil ever since. The oil in the photo above is bought from a friend, Lenny O’Donovan, who sells at markets in Mahon Point and Temple Bar. It comes from the village, north of Barcelona, where his wife’s parents are from and is very, very good. But more importantly, I trust its provenance. I’m afraid its no longer possible to say the same about much of the olive oil for sale around the world today.


Me new job at the Bridgestone Guide!

Apologies, generally, for the lack of consistent communication from The Swashbuachaill but the non-virtual world has been making fiercesome inroads on my time over the last couple of weeks. And one of those intrusions from the non-virtual world included a bolt out of the blue that left me near enough speechless – an invitation from John and Sally McKenna to become a Contributing Editor to the renowned Bridgestone Guide, Ireland’s food bible. I can’t say how proud and pleased I am to have been invited and hope I can live up to the challenge. That I should have been invited along with Aoife ‘The Daily Spud’ Cox only makes me prouder still. Obviously, when Dear Old Sainted Mother Swashbuachaill reads my new Bridgestone profile below she will realise for the first time that I may not be one of the world’s finest surgeons having spent the past three decades in Africa curing stuff and so on and so forth.


My reviews of the Electric (Irish Examiner & The Bridgestone Guide)

Honestly, The Swashbuachaill is not on a retainer from The Electric; it was sheer coincidence that I was asked to do these reviews within days of each other. Hardly surprising, when you think about it, as The Electric is getting noticed in a lot of places. Nominated for the Restaurant Association of Ireland awards in 2011 as best casual dining in its first year of opening gives you an idea of the standards they are aiming to reach.



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