Booking the Cooks: Wallis Bird’s Hob Nob Cheese Surprise


“A couple years back at a festival in Ireland, my vegetarian friend asked for the non-meat option and the guy replied ‘the closest thing we’d have is chicken!’”

Does this anecdote from Wallis Bird about Irish festival cuisine of yesteryear sound all too familiar to you? We have certainly come a long way from the days of the Russian-roulette-chipper-van burger. I definitely don’t remember seeing barbecued ostrich fillets at Homelands or Féile.

Of course, this is all rather good and definitely worth celebrating. To such an extent, that we here in Booking The Cooks thought we’d see if an act playing at the upcoming Body & Soul Festival would like to create a dish to sell at one of the food stalls. Hence our correspondence with the wonderful Wallis Bird and the fact that you will be able to purchase a plate of her Hob Nob Cheese Surprise at the Dux & Co food stand. It’s a wacky plate of joyful sustenance that somehow harmonises Mediterranean veg with the familiar, oaty sweetness of Hob Nobs. But to be fair, it’s probably best enjoyed at a festival, where one is perhaps in less control of one’s senses.

Indeed, maybe this dish was brought on by a particular drunken European festival incident where she, “woke up in another country, in another band’s bus, in a complete rigout of someone else’s clothes”. Well if she didn’t find inspiration for a food recipe from that night of debauchery, I do hope she found a song. Or possibly even an album.

One packet of crushed Hob Nobs (not the chocolate ones)
A big lump of any cheese
Whatever chopped veg you like (try 2 red peppers, 2 courgettes, 1 aubergine, 3 onions)
Garlic (as much as you can stand)
2-3 teacups cups of pulses such as lentils (bulks up the meal and fillsyour tummy)
2.5 cans of chickpeas
2 cans of tomatoes
Chilli or paprika (if you fancy it)
Salt & Pepa to taste (and to listen to while you cook)

Fry the onions and garlic slowly in butter and then throw in the chopped veg and tomatoes. Let them all simmer until soft (or else you can roast everything in big oiled dish).

Salt & Pepa here. In another pot, cook the lentils (slowly and carefully, the time dependent on the type, though it also works as a mash). Line a casserole dish with the crushed Hob Nobs. Throw the other stuff on top and bake for about 10 mins on a medium heat .Throw some cheese on top for the final five minutes.

Ta-Dah! Everyone’s eating Hob Nob Cheese Surprise!

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