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John McKenna's blog

All the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.

Hotel Doolin

Hotel Doolin
Hotel Doolin
Hotel Doolin
Hotel Doolin
Hotel Doolin
Hotel Doolin
Hotel Doolin

Can a building multi-task?

Can you say to an inanimate construction: okay, you are the shop. And you, eh, you are the bar. And you’ll be beside the bar but you’ll be the restaurant. And you over there, – yes, you – you will be the booking office.

Who’s left? Oh yeah: you’re the reception area for the hotel, and you’ll be adjacent to the café, is that o.k.? Everybody happy. Right so, let’s call ourselves – collectively – the Hotel Doolin. Ok, let’s go to work.

Catherine, Sophie and Domini

Catherine, Sophie and Domini

This stylish trio of titles from Gill & Macmillan share several things – designers, photographers, publisher, stylists, prop providers, and so on.

But what they have in common is actually more profound then just a talented crew who have made three handsome books.

What unites Ms Kemp, Ms Fulvio and Ms Morris is that they are three smart women who run successful businesses – Sophie Morris started Kooky Dough; Catherine Fulvio runs Ballyknocken House and its cookery school, Domini Kemp runs the hugely successful itsabagel company as well as several more restaurants.

Ard Bia Book

Ard Bia Cookbook

Many food writers are great aphorists, able to summarise their work into unforgettable nuggets. Think of Wendell Berry – “Eating is an agricultural act”. Think of Brillat-Savarin – “Tell me what you eat and I shall tell you what you are”. Think of Michael Pollan – “Eat food. Not too much. Mainly plants”.

And, now, think of this: “In this little house we laugh, we work, and we learn”.

Eat organic for better orgasms, says new T.C.D. report

Teagasc denounces findings as “Worrying for farm families”.

Michael Pollan, Naomi Wolf welcome new findings.



Scientists at the Physical Health, Work, Opinion, and Attitude Research (PHWOAR) Institute at Trinity College, Dublin, unveiled new research today, October 4th, which suggests that people who eat a diet comprising organically produced foods experience bigger, better, longer, stronger orgasms than people who eat foods adulterated with chemical herbicides and pesticides.

Salt, Sugar, Smoke, by Diana Henry

Salt, Sugar, Smoke

Diana Henry has written six cookery books, and Salt, Sugar, Smoke is her fourth classic title. That’s not a bad average for a busy working journalist. Indeed, one could say that of her four heartfelt book – Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons; Roast Figs, Sugar Snow; Food From Plenty; and, now, Salt, Sugar, Smoke – that each one is a masterpiece. Certainly, this new book is as essential as her great trio, and it’s another another autodidactic exploration of a favourite topic, in this case the preserving of foods.

John McKenna reports from the Wild Garlic, Kenmare

Wild Garlic, Kenmare

Kenmare is a Darwinian town, when it comes to food.

It evolves, but slowly, and according to its own rules. So, when Bruce Mulcahy decides on a change, he only moves around the corner to the Park Hotel. And his lieutenant, James Coffey, takes up the reins, and Mulcahy's becomes The Wild Garlic, in a fashion not dissimilar to what happened several years ago in Packie's restaurant, just down the street.

This style of evolution breeds consistency, and strength, and the ability to match the high standards that make Kenmare the envy of every other Irish town.

Food News

Enda McEvoy

The sun will be shining this Sunday when Sheridan's Cheesemongers host their annual Irish Food festival at their beautiful headquarters at the Virginia Road station in Pottleragh, County Meath. This is one of the best festivals, and when we visited last year the buzz was crazy.

Cookery Books

Ard Bia Cook Book

Season of books: as sure as sunshine, summer brings the latest clutch of cookery books from Irish food writers...

You’ll have read about Mona and Ron Wise in The Irish Times, and there is much more about the Galway couple in The Chef & I (WiseWords). The tasty recipes follow on from Mona’s personal narrative of living, loving and cooking...  (@WiseMona)

Cookery Book Review: Mugaritz by John McKenna

Mugaritz Menu

“Mugaritz: A Natural Science of Cooking”, by Andoni Luis Aduriz (Phaidon)

It is the 18th of November 2003, and we are on a small bus winding its way into the hills above San Sebastian, in northern Spain. The city’s annual Gastronomica festival has begun, and we are headed for a restaurant we have never heard of: Mugaritz, run by a young man called Andoni Luis Aduriz.

Our friend, the ever-prescient food writer Andrea Petrini, tells us it is his favourite restaurant. We trust Andrea, so we know this isn’t just bravado. But still...

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