Good for you . . . and delicious
Diana Henry is a cookbook addict – her home is lined with thousands of them. She's also the author of a couple of the most admired, and most cooked-from books in my own, much more modest library, which recently expanded to make room for the handsome A Change of Appetite: Where Healthy Meets Delicious (published this week by Mitchell Beazley, £25). Despite its title, you won't find any sermons in this engaging and beautifully photographed volume. "Deprivation is not on the menu," says the writer, who lives in London but retains strong links with her Northern Ireland roots. A Change of Appetite came about due to a very real change in the author's attitude to eating, which involved eating less refined carbohydrates and a greater variety and quantity of vegetables. The inspiration is global, drawing on exhaustive research as well as travel. Speaking of which, if Madrid is on your travel plans, don't leave without reading her definitive food lover's guide to the city at dianahenry.co.uk.
Pretty good pies
This week I "Skoffed" a very tasty chicken and smoked ham pie, from the new range developed by TV presenter and writer Donal Skehan and manufactured in Glasnevin by Fresh Cut Foods which is run by his mum and dad, Liz and Dermot. They've taken great pride in making the range of three pies as good as can be, without raising the price beyond everyday thresholds (the RSP is €3.50). There are pulled pork, and beef and stout varieties too, and all the meat used is Irish. Skoff pies are being stocked by SuperValu, Dunnes and Centra, as well as independents.
Holiday weekend outings
St Patrick's Day doesn't have to be about clichés. Several restaurants in Dublin are using the occasion to highlight great Irish food, with special menus, promotions and a general appreciation of what we're growing, producing and selling.
At The Marker hotel on Grand Canal Square, chef Gareth Mullins is serving a flight of Irish craft beers with a four-course menu until March 22nd (€65 including cider, beer and wine). Brasserie Le Pont at 25 Fitzwiliam Place in Dublin 2 will also be putting Irish ingredients centre stage throughout the St Patrick's Festival, and next Sunday the three-course lunch menu (€26) will feature chef James Doyle's Irish stew made with shoulder of lamb cooked on the bone overnight. The Cliff Townhouse on St Stephen's Green is serving brunch and lunch menus all day throughout the festivities on the 17th, and the oyster bar will be open for seafood, Guinness and champagne. There an all-Ireland approach at goodfoodireland.ie, which has a St Patrick's page dedicated to food, events and recipes around the festivities.