I READ FOODIE BLOGS and trust TripAdvisor when thinking about where to stay or eat. I've just added Il Giardino in Lege-Cap-Ferret (France) to my blacklist.
French Foodie Caroline Doudet was fined thousands of euros for writing a bad review online. The restaurant was miffed and the judge agreed that because Caroline has 3000 regular readers, her review was prejudicial. Caroline stands by her critique but regrets not having left the restaurant from the beginning and therefore never having written the article. She does stand by the review.
I LISTEN TO Wholesome Ireland sharing ideas from her kitchen and my ears perk up whenever she shares tips on pasta. I hope everyone using our kitchen takes her cooking advice on board.
For each 100g of pasta, you really need to use one litre of water and 7g of salt. I have sea salt directly to the left of our hob for this important task.
I don't think you should put your pasta into the pot until the water is boiling. And you should put the salt into the pot after the water boils. I've watched sea salt causes spots on the bottom of pans when it sits in cold water prior to boiling. And don't put oil into the water.
Never cool pasta in cold water. I think it's best to let the pasta cool down at room temperature.
I ENCOURAGE people visiting Ireland to try a different Irish scone every morning mainly because Irish flour differs from American flour.
I listen to Caítríona, an Irish food and parenting blogger, describe how she cleverly sources and astutely makes food and after a solid year of her podcasts, I yearn to attend a day-long seminar on "Irish Ethnic Baking" where secrets of the scone get discussed. I've discovered some already during scone-baking sessions with Busy Bees. The best sessions are the messiest.
OUR WEBER STOVE remains defiant and tough during one of the wettest Irish summers on record. And it's a welcome piece of Americana in our Cashel garden.
Once every five years while growing up on the east coast of the States, I traveled to the midwest in the back of our family station wagon and skirted Huntley (Illinois) where big, flat circles of steel are doused in lubricant, stamped in a toggle press, welded, trimmed, coated with electrically charged enamel, and heated to 1700 degrees Fahrenheit before it looks as it should.
Our Weber grill doesn't look much different than the one our family had in the mid-60s. They look like the bottom of a Coast Guard buoy (that's how they originated) and they help make the summer outdoor living season better than it already is.
I stoked up our Weber stove to make some chicken skewers while listening to The Restaurant Guys talk about cocktails. The most interesting man in the world (Johnny Schuler) is on the audio clip below--part race car driver, clever mixmaster, and lovely conversationalist--who will charm you about Pisco Porton, the brew I intend to buy the next time I'm in Soho. Have a listen--and stop buy my place if you see smoke wafting across the Golden Road in Cashel some summer's evening.
I LOVE GETTING FOOD delivered via my Typepad Dashboard. Today's savoury suggestion came from Ideas In Food.
They "took a beef flap steak and cooked it sous vide with butter for 24 hours at 55C ... then we cooled it down and portioned it into smaller pieces, which were sauteed in butter. Once the outside was nicely browned all over."
I'm sold. I have to get the cut from our local butcher and also find a recipe for fish pepper-yuzu hot sauce. Our four-year-old food critic will enjoy the sauteed broccoli rabe dressed in flavored brown butter. I don't know if she'll go for the "touch of coconut cream cheese seasoned lightly with fish sauce" but we'll try it and report on the results.
LIKE MANY PEOPLE on the streets of Dublin, I often use Google to check things like quiet coffee shops with free wifi. Today, I've spotted contacts of mine in the search results giving upvotes to different venues.
When I walk into many of my favourite haunts, I see front window space given over to "Find Us on Facebook" or "Check in with Foursquare". Both of those services charge less than half of what Google charges for an advertisement. Yet on my mobile phone, I get faster and often more comprehensive results with a straightforward Google search.
AS I APPROACHED a Bottle Bank in Drogheda, I decided to give myself a treat for walking two miles. It was a memorable occasion because I ended up with a glass bottle of Coke (see below).
I have never bought Coke in a glass bottle from a corner shop since moving to Ireland in 1994. I have never seen glass bottled Coke for sale to punters in shops. For months after moving to Ireland from Germany, I resisted buying Cole because it came only in plastic bottles. The same plastic bottles that sea gulls peck before getting their beaks trapped in the plastic. Not wanting to be complicit in the breakdown of a Pacific habitat, I tried to avoid plastic until I found a way to recycle it.
Today, I stocked up on a proper six pack of glass bottled Cole and it feels like a real win. See the 90 cent bottle snapped by my iTouch below the break.
PROOF THAT SOCIAL AUDIO is alive and well during a month rechristened as "Febooary" by avid users of the Audioboo service. Every day has a unique topic, such as today's about "favourite smell and why?"
We like croissants, the bread in the crosshairs of the Irish government's increased tax plans. Unhealthy white pan bread escapes an increase in tax while croissants are blasted with an additional two percent of tax. Some merchants have increased the cost of their croissants by 10 cents, thinking we're expecting to pay more and won't gripe about it.
The audio clip below is a non-whinging report of our favourite smells and scents.
FOURSQUARE OFTEN GETS dismissed by pundits who think it's just a silly game. When that happens, I think those critics have never seen the in-app Foursquare community.
I first realised Foursquare could provide me more than a cute little badge when I rolled over in a Portland Hotel because of some loud music outside. I happened to glance at Foursquare and it told me the name of the place. In fact, the club was trending on Foursquare at the time. And inside venue on Foursquare I found dozens of in-app comments, tips and sometimes personal remarks that showed me the Foursquare app was connecting people with people often as much as it was connecting people with venues. That's happening here in Ireland as well.
I think it's remarkable that a small company like Foursquare can continue iterating, carving out a location-based system that holds true to the spirit that Dennis Crowley set out several years ago. Perhaps Crowley knew how reliable the GPS sensors would be on today's mobile phone handsets. Those sensors tie right into Foursquare's geolocation platform. They ensure places can be specifically identified and the Foursquare app helps people connect with place as a means of establishing an identity online. And that is why Foursquare is so successful. People want to be identified with place. People want to share expertise about places or about products and service at places. Foursquare facilitates this in a very elegant way.