The invitation was for lunch with Neven Maguire at the Aviva Stadium.
I pictured myself and a capacity stadium crowd being fed personally by Neven, and it seemed like that might be a stretch – even for one of Ireland’s best loved chefs and quite possibly the nicest man in the Irish food business. As it turns out, the crowd was rather smaller – more like 15 than 50,000 – and (get me!) we were lunching in the intimate surrounds of a corporate box, with the breadth of the Aviva as a backdrop, and Mr. Maguire for company (as my sister later put it, I had gone from nought to Neven, and in only five (blogging) years too; jammy was the other description that sprang to mind, which was exactly how it felt to have homemade jammie dodgers à la Neven round off the meal).
A display of spuds lined the corporate corridors at the Aviva Stadium:
I guess somebody told ’em I was on my way through… (and yes, before you ask, there were spuds – in potato gratin form – on Neven’s menu too)
‘Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the ‘net,
They googled for roasties, the best they could get.
Which spud to choose, to avoid roastie blunders?
Roosters or Pinks, Maris or Wonders?
Goose fat or dripping? Oil or butter?
Who reigns supreme, in the smoke and the splutter?
And lo, there’s Heston, Jamie and crew,
All armed with advice on just what to do.
Parboil and ruffle, steam ’til they’re dry,
Then into the oven and roast ’em on high.
Serve with the trimmings, the turkey and ham,
Piled onto the plate in a glorious cram.
Feast yourself silly, with roasties galore,
Crispy and Christmas and here once more.
You know it’s Christmas when…
You’ll forgive, I hope, the indulgence in a bit of cheesy seasonal rhyme. It marks this year’s edition of an event that has become almost as predictable as Christmas itself – the Daily Spud roastie post.
I don’t suppose it’s down to my influence necessarily, but a friend, the other day, did remark on how it seemed that everyone was now jumping on the potato bandwagon. You could certainly be forgiven for thinking as much based on coverage this week alone, where, hot on the heels of my own newspaper piece last week, we had Irish chef (and new dad) Neven Maguire featuring potatoes in general, and Tayto crisps in particular, on this week’s episode of his Home Chef series on RTE televison. And then, in his latest series on Channel 4, Heston Blumenthal, too, turned his gloriously scientific attention, this week, to the potato (you may be able to catch said episode of How To Cook Like Heston for a limited time here on Channel 4’s 4OD service). Triple cooked chips and Heston’s mashed spud perfection were followed by the lesser known delights of smoked potato doughnuts and potato milk jam – the latter a recipe that was right up there with the spud shake in the unusual (and, for some, challenging) spud recipes league. In other words, it had my name written all over it.