If it was your mission to design a new signature dish for Ireland, suitable for service in the finest restaurants, then just what would that dish be?
That’s the question being asked of chefs and cooks, professional and amateur alike, in a competition being run as part of the Só Sligo Food Festival. The festival, one of an increasing number of food-centric events to be found gracing the Irish calendar, will see that particular corner of the north west awash with edible possibilities from the 16th to the 20th of this month.
As to the question of the signature dish, well, I don’t suppose a bowl of coleslaw would cut it?
An Irish coleslaw: it's certainly got the national colours going for it
I hate to be predictable, but it’s that day of the year when you’d be expecting to see some kind of top-10-review-highlights-resolution kind of post, and who am I to disappoint?
So c’mon, then, into the spudmobile, seat belts on and let’s zoom through 2009…
Prátaí ar maidin, prátaí um nóin
Agus dá n-éireoinn san oíche, prátaí a gheobhainn
Potatoes in the morning, potatoes at noon
And if we get up in the night, it’s potatoes we’ll get
Old Irish saying – so says my Da and he should know
If the notion of having potatoes morning, noon and night appeals, then Lissadell House in Co. Sligo is the place to be. The house and its residents may have been the stuff of poetry for WB Yeats in his day, but it was potatoes that had me treading, perhaps not quite so softly, in the footsteps of the bard last weekend. For Lissadell is now home to Dave Langford’s collection of heritage potatoes, around 180 varieties worth, and I spent part of last weekend being taken on a private tour of the gardens there, along with MGH, my agent on the ground in the North West.