Food & Drink

List of Limerick Pubs That Ban Christmas Jumper Parties

Ask around.  Let me know what local pubs are showing respect to their regulars and staff this year by banning the hordes of drunken fools in Christmas jumpers and Rudolph onesies.

I’ll add the names to the list, here.

Cooking Food & Drink

Mulligatawny Recipe

I bumped into a friend today who shares my interest in cooking.  He’s an excellent cook, much better than I am, but today he was looking a bit under the weather.  We’ll call him “John”.

Are you a bit under the weather, John? I asked him.

Jesus, I am, he croaked.  I was out till four in the morning, but I’m much better now.

Glad to hear it, I assured him as the conversation drifted around to other matters.

Do you know what I made last week? he said.

No, John.   How would I know what you made last week?   I don’t even know what you made yesterday.

Well, he perked up, as it happens, I made bacon and cabbage yesterday for the very first time in my life.

Comfort food, I observed.

Mmm-hmm, agreed the obscure hungover-looking character in the corner.

Not something I’m particularly fond of.

Mulligatawny recipeMe neither, said “John”, I just got a figary to do it, but anyway, last week I made kedgeree.

Kedgeree?  I was taken aback.   How very Raj of you.  But as it happens, I’ve found smoked fish to be a wonderful cure for hangovers.  There was a time, many years ago when we used to have all-night house-parties, and I always found that the perfect breakfast was a kipper and a bottle of Guinness.

Precisely, agreed “John”.  That kedgeree knocked my hangover for six, old chap, and then I bagged an elephant.  Kedgeree for tiffin.  Can’t beat it, old boy.

You’ve got me thinking, I told him.  Here’s a thing I haven’t had in yonks.  Mulligatawny.  I first had it in an East End restaurant run by a Bangladeshi wallah years and years back, and damn tasty it was too.   Maybe I’ll revive the old Bock recipe series and see how it goes.

Splendid! said “John”, brandishing a buffalo gun.  Tally-ho!


So here we go.

My ad-hoc Mulligatawny based on whatever I happened to have in the kitchen.

Now, here’s the thing about most recipes: you really can’t go wrong even if you don’t have all the stuff  because there’s no such thing as right and wrong ingredients.  In my case, the first Mulligatawny I ever had, back in the East End of London, had a strong lemon character to it and that’s what I continued to expect over the years, but another man’s recipe might be completely different and that’s fine too.  We make it up as we go along, based on what we have.

For this, you’ll need some spices.  Cumin seed, haldi, cracked peppercorns and plain old curry powder.  I prefer hot but you might like it milder.  That’s fine. It’s up to you.  As a matter of fact, I might even toss in a load of hot chilli as well just to liven it up, but that’s me.  Live and let live.

Mulligatawny recipe 003

The next thing you’ll need is some onions, some carrots and a few garlic cloves.

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Now.  When you have these all chopped up, you should fry them in clarified butter, although to be honest, unclarified butter is fine too as long as you don’t make it too hot and burn it.

Mulligatawny recipe 007

Fry them away gently until they’re soft, and at the same time, put on a pot of rice.  I prefer brown, but white is fine.  When we’re finished, we’ll mix the rice in with the sauce (or we might not, as I’ll explain in a little while).

When the onions, carrots and garlic are soft, you should toss in your spices and some flour to thicken things up.  Stir the whole lot around to get it well mixed.

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Now add some chicken stock and cook it all up until it thickens.  Let it cook away for a good while.

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Now you can chop up your chicken and cook it in some clarified butter.

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When you think the sauce is well cooked, throw in some natural yoghurt.  Some people use coconut milk, but I haven’t tried that so I don’t know what it would taste like.  I must  try it next time.  Other people throw in a couple of chopped Granny Smith apples, which sounds interesting.  Nothing like a bit of variety.

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Then add the chicken and the juice of half a lemon.  Maybe you’d prefer it to be a bit tangier but you can always add the other half if it’s not to your taste.  There are no hard and fast rules in this.

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Let this cook away for a while.   Go off and shoot an elephant, but don’t forget to drain the rice first.

When you get back, it will all be ready and you can serve it, but here’s where you have to make a decision.  Traditionally, Mulligatawny has the rice mixed into the entire dish, but these days not everybody wants to eat rice.

You could serve it mixed like this.

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But I think it would be better to offer it in two separate bowls, and let people decide for themselves how much rice they want mixed in with the sauce.  It’s only fair, really.

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Three other things.

First, you can always add more spice or other flavours later.  Play around with the proportions.  Nobody will arrest you for getting it wrong.

Second.  Before adding the chicken you could, if you wished, blend the whole lot to a smooth consistency, and that’s what I myself intended to do, but I forgot.

Third, you don’t need to add meat.  This would make a very tasty vegetarian dish if you substituted sweet potato or butternut squash, for instance.

Anyway.  Enjoy your Mulligatawny and let me know how you get on.


Stuffed Mushrooms

It’s been ages since I put up a recipe, so I thought maybe I’d try this really quick one.  You can prepare and cook this all in about 15 minutes, which I like, being lazy.  I just kinda made this up.

You’ll need :

Stuffed Mushroom  Mushrooms


Stuffed Mushroom  Garlic



Stuffed Mushroom




Stuffed Mushroom  Chorizo



Stuffed Mushroom  Lemon




Remove the stalks from the mushrooms and chop them up finely.

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Chop up some garlic to taste and fry it gently in butter until it’s soft.  Then remove the garlic pieces and get rid of them.  Fry the chopped mushroom stalks in the garlic butter.

Chop up the chorizo into very small pieces.

Stuffed Mushroom

Add the pieces to the pan with the chopped mushrooms.

Stuffed Mushroom

Then cut up the brie into small pieces.  If it’s too gooey, don’t worry.  It’ll melt anyway.  Add the cheese to the pan and stir the whole lot around until it blends together.  Throw in a squeeze of lemon juice for a little extra piquancy.

Stuffed Mushroom

Stuffed Mushroom

Lovely.  Now spoon the mix back into the mushrooms.

Stuffed Mushroom

Put a little cap of Brie on each mushroom.

Stuffed Mushroom

You can cook it in the oven for about 15 minutes, or if you prefer, you can cheat like I did and microwave it for two minutes.


Stuffed Mushroom

Finger-lickin’ good.


Christmas Jumpers

Christmas jumpers. What’s that about? 


You’re just settling into a friendly chat when here come Keith from Accounts, Orla from HR, Sinéad from IT, Declan from Quality Control, Mike from Health & Safety, Sarah from Sales, Jagdip from Customer Support and forty three more.  They’re all wearing woolly jumpers and reindeer antlers.  They all have shiny lights on them and they’ve never been inside the door of your favourite pub before tonight.

But here they are, all drunk, all shouting their heads off, all leaning into your personal space, pissing you off and spoiling the experience for the people whose plan is not to get drunk out of their heads and behave like utter knob-ends.

What’s more, they’re led by a control freak who’s getting the thrill of his life out of issuing orders about the drinks they must consume and the time they must spend in your favourite pub, before ordering them on to the next.  This arsehole, in all likelihood, has no authority in the real world, for good reasons.

When they leave, they’ll try to steal everything that isn’t nailed down, as souvenirs.

You want to kill all these strangers and you wish the proprietor of your favourite watering hole would ban them, but of course, he’ll tell you they bring money with them, even if they leave after one drink.  The question is, how many paying customers did they drive away?

I’m one of those who left and went home.  Any others?

Beer Favourites Milk Market

Holiday Weekend in Limerick with Nile Rodgers and Beer Festivals

I’m getting old.  There was time when I’d be fine after an all-nighter on Friday, a beer festival on Saturday and a housewarming/birthday party on Sunday, but not any more.  I’m sicker than a flight to Lourdes.  Sicker than a priest in a playground.

Nile Rodgers started it.  It was all his fault with his infectious Chic disco-rhythms at the Milk Market, spreading good cheer, happiness and general light-hearted dancingness, though I can’t dance.  I can’t talk.

Limerick was bouncing with good-humoured people, good cheer and friendliness on Friday night, and Nile Rodgers brought a stupendously great bunch of musicians and singers with him to reward all the fans who turned out, but let me make a confession.  I never really got the disco idea.  Discos and night-clubs were never really my thing and I suppose, in truth, I was probably a bit of a musical snob too, back when Disco was big, but I have to tell you, this fellow educated my head and my feet and for that I thank him.


Yeah.  Astonishing.

Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market

Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market


Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market


Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market


Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market


Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market


Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market


Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market


Nile Rodgers Chic Limerick Milk Market

Ah Jesus, it was great and then everyone went back to Dolans for more fun, including Nile Rodgers, his bass player and his drummer.  I don’t know what time I got home and that’s a good thing these days, but unfortunately, another challenge lay in store for me the following day when Nancys held the annual beer festival, with brews of a strength up to 11%.

Good God.

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Nancy Blakes Beer festival Kwak


Nancy Blakes Beer festival


Nancy Blakes Beer festival Delirium Tremens


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Nancy Blakes Beer festival Duvel


Nancy Blakes Beer festival Straffe Hendrik

And here’s the landlord making a reasonable, subdued presentation to his patrons.

Sometimes, you just have to love Limerick.

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Food & Drink

Halloween, Gloucester Rugby and the Heineken Cup

I don’t know.  Sometimes, people just overstep the boundaries of taste.

Even I have my limits.

Chatting to a prominent local pub-owner today, the talk came around to the rugby weekend with, he hoped, the usual influx of wonderful Gloucester supporters, who have been our rivals and friends ever since that miracle match ten years ago.

Yeah, he said.  We’ll lay on grub  for them and I was thinking with Halloween so close, maybe we could have a sort of horror theme.

You mean vampires and zombies?

No, he said.  I was thinking maybe something along the lines of Freddy’s back.  A nightmare on Pub Street.

Freddy Kruger?

No.  I was thinking of a Fred West weekend.


It would be great.  I’d say the Gloucester lads will get a great laugh out of it.

Right, I said.  Just like Limerick supporters would appreciate a Stab City weekend in Gloucester.  They’d love it.

No, he insisted.  It would be just a bit of a laugh.   We could serve all sorts of gruesome grub with a Fred ‘n’ Rose theme.

You’re some fucking knob-end, I muttered as I walked away.

Jesus Christ.  What’s wrong with these people?







Arthur’s Day Controversy

A lot of people are getting their knickers in a twist over the Diageo promotion campaign called Arthur’s Day, and I can see both sides of the argument.

Correction: I can see two sides of the argument.

stoutI have as little insight into the mindset of the marketing suits behind the campaign as I would have into the foraging instincts of a Caribbean lobster.  Marketing people don’t inhabit the same planet as the human race, so let’s forget them right now.  If it can be crass, it will be crass, as they demonstrated recently with their insane ad based on a wheelchair basketball game.

So let’s just agree that marketing people are reptile-brained cynics who’ll do anything for a buck, and let’s move on.

The two sides of the argument that I’m concerned with are the pro- and anti- people, and to be fair to them, each has a valid point of view.

On the pro side, people are saying that Diageo isn’t forcing anyone to get drunk.  If you end up in A&E, it’s because you personally went bonkers on the liquor.  The Guinness didn’t force itself down your throat.  And besides, what’s wrong with a day out?

The anti side will tell you that we already have a bad enough alcohol problem in Ireland without promoting even more excess.  They’ll say, correctly, that this is a multinational London-based company seeking to piggyback on the Irish identity by portraying all of us as united in admiration for their product.  Paddywhackery, in other words.  And that’s true too.

So where are we going with this?  People enjoy the day out, despite the cringe-inducing name.  They enjoy the music and they enjoy the gallivanting.  Musicians make a day’s pay.  Taxi drivers earn a few shillings.  Money goes round, which is a rare enough thing these days, and the economy gets a bit of a boost.  But on the other hand, some people get drunk, some get into fights and others get so slaughtered that they end up in hospital.

I don’t know, so I asked a man with far more wisdom and years than I possess, the published author of six successful novels.

What do you think of this Arthur’s Day thing?

He considered for a moment, in his special way.   To my mind, there isn’t enough drunkenness in Ireland anymore, he said.


Let me put it to this way, he said.  When was the last time you remember a man walking down the street taking one step forward and two steps back, while singing a happy song at the top of his voice?

I can’t remember seeing that for a long time, I agreed.

Precisely, he said.  We’ve lost all the old traditions.  I blame Europe.

One way or another, the campaign has been an unqualified success for the marketing reptiles who managed to drag five years out of a one- or two-year plan before being shot down by the uber-sanctimonious reformed drinker, Christy How’s-it-goin-dere Moore.  At the corporate level, nobody is particularly pretty.  Not the robotic Diageo executive who appeared on PrimeTime like a deprogrammed Max Headroom and not Christy, the hellraiser-turned-sobriety-campaigner, who insists on closing the bar at every gig he plays.

Damn them all.  I hate Diageo for being Diageo, and Christy annoys me for being the condescending gobshite he always was.   I wonder how long he’d stay up on the surfboard after fourteen pints of stout these days?  He’s been writing shite comedy songs for years, mixed in with the occasional quasi-politically-aware outburst, but in many ways, he’s the Big Tom of Irish Agit-Prop and I’ll take no lectures from him, thanks, even if I have my own misgivings about a stupid drink-promotion stunt by a soulless multinational alcohol company.

A cirrhosis on all their houses.


Guinness Wheelchair Ad Goes Viral

We Never Expected to Cry During This Beer Commercial, says the iVillage headline.

The heartwarming new advert for Ireland’s black gold that comes with a surprise ending, says the Daily Mail.

Jawdropping, says the Mirror.

Guinness commercial will make your heart melt, says the Huffington Post.


Did I cry?  No.

Was my heart warmed?  No, it was not.

Did my jaw drop?  Nope.

Did my heart melt?  It did not.

Very well then.  Did this  video have any effect on me at all?  Yes, it certainly did. I developed a profound and longlasting case of projectile vomiting.  What sort of idiot thought that such a shallow, fake-sentimental idea was appropriate for an ad selling beer?  Well, the same sort of idiot who writes for the Huffington Post, apparently, since the thing has gone viral.

It just goes to show that there’s no limit to the amount of mindless dross people want to consume.

Guinness meets X-Factor.

The ad seems to be aimed at an American audience, weaned on a diet of cheesy sentimentality.   I can’t imagine a European audience reacting well to the obvious, crass message underlying this beer promotion.  Consume our alcoholic product and you’ll look more sensitive than the schmuck drinking  the other piss.

It’s astonishing in its utter crassness, and yet, it might well appeal to the popular sentiment, if the reactions of media hacks is anything to go by, but personally, as a lifelong Guinness customer, alll it makes me think is that I need to find a different beer.  This is simply appalling.

Take a look at this ad and see if you can think of a more cynical, manipulative use of disability to sell an alcoholic product.  All it needs to complete the tear-jerker effect is a slo-mo shot of Bruce Willis in a space-suit walking out of a burning building carrying a baby and a flag.  Dear Jesus, what kind of schlock is this?

Oh, wait.  It’s the kind of schlock that has permeated every corner of Hollywood and brainwashed the American public into believing a cartoon version of reality.

Here’s an ad with a disability theme, but that disability has absolutely nothing to do with mobility.

This ad is about the disability that lives within the minds of the Madison Avenue team of know-nothings who designed it.

Welcome to the second coming  of  Guinness Light.

Cooking Favourites

Bacon Pancakes With Maple Syrup

Bacon pancakes with maple syrup.



Bacon pancake-


Food & Drink

Corkage and Cakeage — Wrong Again

Let me be up front about this and admit immediately that we were wrong.  It’s true that we spent €300 in a quiet restaurant on a Wednesday night in Limerick, but all the same, we were absolutely in the wrong.

You see, for our special surprise meal, for a special birthday, we’d booked seats in a restaurant, and we had every intention of passing the entire evening there, spending money, buying wine and generally, all-in-all, paying the wages, keeping the lights on and helping the business to tick over.


Because we like the place.  We go there all the time and we advise our friends to do the same.  This is how business works.

But still, I’ll admit that there is no excuse for our behaviour tonight.  You see, we booked a table and while we waited for the surprise couple to turn up, we ordered a bottle of the house wine.  After they arrived, we ordered our meals and  two more bottles of the house wine.

So far, so good, you’re thinking, and so am I, but no, because this is where we let ourselves down and revealed what ill-mannered clods we are.  In the middle of all this wine-ordering, one of the guys whipped out a bottle of prosecco and popped the cork in a spontaneous, and unauthorised breach of the regulations.  It isn’t that we wanted prosecco, but it just seemed to be appropriate.  In fact, we’d have preferred to drink the house red, an indifferent Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, if it hadn’t been for the intervention of the Alpha waitress.

This is not permitted, or words to that effect.

Consequence?  No more Montepulciano-ordering, no more spending on grub, but most importantly, since we use this place all the time, no more visiting this establishment.

Yes, it’s true that we are an ill-mannered bunch of clods who should not be producing our own wine in a restaurant, but it’s also true that we were there to buy their plonk, and the bubbly was only for fun.

What a pity that one member of staff failed to see the big picture and consequently lost her employers the future business of eight regular customers, but at the same time, yes.  It’s true.  We were wrong and we sincerely apologise to Bella Italia, an establishment I have written favourably about previously here and here.

Oddly enough, despite the Bella Italia ban on corkage, they were happy enough to permit cakeage, and so we were at least able to sing Happy Birthday and blow out candles.  Perhaps the Bella Italia handbook of what is permitted doesn’t have a section on confectionery.

Even though the food tonight was excellent, we’re so ashamed of ourselves that none of us will be going back.

Shame on us.  When they grew tired of us at about 10 o’clock and started sweeping up, the message was clear and we knew we’d transgressed badly, so we packed our stuff away and paid our bill.  Luckily a hostelry nearby was happy to let us toast our little celebration.  They even supplied an ice bucket for the silly bottle of bubbly, and then we spent the rest of our money in their fine establishment while the Bella Italia staff relished their victory over those pesky customers.  I’m happy for them.

Sadly, that’s the end of casual lunches in this fine establishment. That’s the end of it for our people, sadly, and also the end of recommendations.

Isn’t that Big Picture a terrible thing?


Bella Italia