A light went out in the food world on Friday. I had the enormous privilege of interviewing the late great Anthony Bourdain on two occasions for this site and his sad passing has left me rather bereft, I’m feeling a little like I did when I heard Joe Stummer died having barely reached 50 – I think Bourdain would approve of the comparison. He was a dream interviewee – opinionated, precise in his thoughts, witty, focused and often profound and he had so much more to give the world.
A friend asked me last year what I thought of a particular starred restaurant that she knew I had eaten in.
Before I had a chance to answer, she proffered her own view: ’I find that food stressful’. I knew exactly what she meant – food which had been overworked to within an each of its life, and visions of stressed-out chefs with tweezers agonising over the placement of a garnish.
Is the chicken burger the most mis-begotten mistake in the culinary arts?
The standard chicken burger tends to be a dish where the chicken got away, scot-free. You get crispy, you get deep-fried, you get crunch. But what you don’t ever get, of course, is chicken.
You need a trueness of touch to be able to transform simple things into special things on the plate. Kate Lawlor has that touch.
Some cooks have the right feel for food, and Nico, who runs Nico’s Street Food in Schull, West Cork, is one of those cooks.
What he does is simple – burgers; wraps; hot dogs; sausage rolls – but the way he does it isn’t simple. In fact, it’s complex, tactile, and pretty darn fantastic.
We’ve gotten used to our chefs travelling overseas and coming back with the silverware and the trophies.
But it’s not just our chefs who are doing the good thing. Quietly, confidently, Ireland’s butchers have been slaying the world’s best in international competitions.
Of course, butchers from Northern Ireland have often won U.K. competitions, but the process of conquering the world began when McCartney’s of Moira won the Supreme Award at the Great Taste Awards for their superlative corned beef.
Street landscapes are always changing. Those of us of a certain age mourn when video shops close down, not so much when discount shops disappear. But sometimes change can be very good, as when those tired premises are transformed into a deli / cafe / bistro named Hanna's in Fermoy.
Back in 2002, Diana Henry revealed herself to be one of the great modern food writers with the very first sentence of her very first book. ‘I came to live in London in my early twenties’ is how she begins the magisterial Crazy Water, Pickled Lemons.
Kaffe O describes itself as a Nordic-influenced cafe - and not just because they get their pepper grinders from Ikea. It's Nordic because their coffee is roasted in Copenhagen, the interior is minimalist and simple, in a Scandi way - not a budgeting way – their candles are pointedly labelled hygge, and their bread is made with rye grains.
In Ireland we have lots of restaurants that strain to be gastronomic temples. But Takashi Miyazaki’s new Cork restaurant, Ichigo Ichie, is a gastronomic temple that strains to be a temple.
Mr Miyazaki doesn’t just want to satisfy your appetite, with his High Church cooking. He wants to feed your soul.
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