The thing of beauty that is a Heir Island lobster boat
I was extremely tempted to post this picture, along with a note that said simply “gone fishin’.”
And fishing is exactly what I was doing yesterday from a boat such as this, at the very edge of West Cork in Roaringwater Bay, on a day when the bay, thankfully, did not live up to its noisy moniker. It was, instead, a picture of grace and calm, interrupted only by the occasional flip-flopping of a freshly caught mackerel, each of whom had clearly had other plans for the day before becoming hooked and then briefly, and gloriously, airborne, followed by a final plop into the communal holding bucket. Baked, later, in the embers of a wood-fired clay oven on Heir Island, there could have been nothing sweeter to eat than those fish. It was the kind of food – and the kind of day – that sends you to bed happy.
Well, whaddya know, kitchen wishes really can come true. Where once there was a mixing bowl and a wooden spoon, there is now, in my kitchen, a shiny new stand mixer. It’s all thanks to some more than generous wand-waving by the Fairy Hobmother.
My new shiny
Er, the Fairy Who?
Attending a chocolate masterclass with Gerard Coleman at the Dublin Cookery School is really one of the nicer Saturday things to do.
Irish-born Gerard is the founder of the London-based and highly regarded Artisan du Chocolat. He’s one of the very few chocolatiers in Ireland and the UK who produces chocolate from bean to bar, and his wares have won the praises of such cheffing luminaries as Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal. I also happen to think that his chocs are rather good, so you don’t just have to take their word for it.
The masterclass was not only an opportunity to see Gerard at work, but was also a window into the world of quality versus not-so-quality chocolate. Gerard observed that while Irish consumption of chocolate is one of the highest in Europe, we don’t necessarily have a palate for the high quality stuff. Much of what is sold here, even at the fancier end of the market, actually uses the same base chocolate from a very high volume industrial production house. So most of the chocolates we buy essentially taste the same. We are not tuned into the fact that different chocolates can actually taste different, not because they have been flavoured differently, but because they taste different in and of themselves. It was food, and chocolate, for thought.
Gerard Coleman: artisan at work