Saturday, November 28, 2009

Autumn is When the Parents Come

My parents are are back in Eldo after their 35-day tour of Ireland and Germany. This was Mom and Dad's third annual visit to Ireland. They prefer to travel in the Autumn, as the days grow short and the leaves start to fall (along with travel prices). There is much to report from their visit, but I'll start at the beginning--with the loads of American goods they kindly brought to us.

Mom and Dad stuck close to Raheny for the first few days (as I recall--been a while now! checking my tweets to recreate chronology), but adjusted pretty well to the time change. On Sunday we drove to Freshford in County Kilkenny for a stop by the Irish Conker Championships. Bill and I attended this small fest two years ago and caught conker fever!

We spent the night in Graignamanagh at the Waterside Guesthouse and enjoyed a nice dinner at Boat's Bistro (located across the river in County Carlow). We spent most of our time being unable to pronounce the name of the town, but Bill mastered it and with some practice I got it too--Greg-na-man-ah. Graignamanagh is on the River Barrow which travels through some lovely Irish countryside. The bridge in Graignamanagh, built in 1765, was partially destroyed in 1798 by Crown Forces. (Pic by Dad.)

Monday morning (October 26) we visited a 13th century Cistercian abbey in Graignamanagh, Duiske Abbey. Still a working church, the abbey has a section where you can view the original painted tile floor.

But this was just the start to a day of ruins.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Another can of beans

Okay, now this is just getting weird. I was in the Tesco in Clare Hall last night (a miserable experience, btw, as only the self-checkout lanes were open and none of them worked properly) and they're selling Epicure organic mung beans for €10.30! I'm beginning to think this is not a simple data-entry error.

Regarding the previous cans of beans, they're still on the shelf at Omni Park. I'm going to check out the Tescos in Artane and Kilbarrack soon.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A can of beans

I was in my local Tesco about a month ago looking for cannellini beans. They normally sell them, but with all the changes Tesco has been making lately you never know. Next to the Epicure pinto, garbanzo, and other beans I found them. Take a close look at the picture. Notice the price. Now, organic typically costs a bit more, but janey mack, €10.30?! I thought it had to be mistake, so I grabbed two cans and took them to the self-checkout. €20.60 for two cans of beans. I asked your one who minds the checkout about it. She was as shocked as I was. She asked someone else and the response was "If it says €10.30 it must cost €10.30." I told her I didn't need beans that badly and left.

I kept checking occasionally and the price never changed. Last week I emailed Tesco Customer Service about it; here is their response:

Thank you for your email querying the price of Epicure Cannellini beans

I have checked our customer service database and can confirm the current seling price is €10.30. I will check this with our Technical manager as it does seem very high.

I have also notified the store and they have agreed to clear the shelf of these beans until we can verify the price.

Thank you for making us aware of this.

It does indeed seem very high. How did this even happen? Did no one question the price when it was stocked? I've bought the same beans at the same Tesco for 1/10 the price. I'll check tomorrow if the beans are still on the shelf.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What's for dinner: Potato & chorizo tacos

I've been lamenting the lack of Mexican chorizo in Ireland for two years. The only kind of chorizo you can get here is Spanish--tasty, but nothing like the Mexican kind. Even the chorizo molletes at Taco Taco in the Epicurean Food Hall are made with Spanish chorizo. Spanish chorizo is a cured, dry pork sausage seasoned with pimentón. Mexican chorizo is a fresh pork sausage seasoned with dried chiles, oregano and warm spices such as cloves and cinnamon. Vinegar is also added for tanginess.

It finally occurred to me last week that I could make my own chorizo. Our food mules (thanks Charles and Celia!) were kind enough to bring us some guajillo, pequin and ancho (16 oz!) chile powders, so I was all set. Here's my recipe:
  • 1 kg pork mince
  • 1/2 cup of ancho
  • 1/4 cup of guajillo
  • 5 or 6 pressed cloves of garlic
  • 2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • a bit of water
  • salt (not sure how much, I was adding it and testing the chorizo by frying as I went along)
I kept some out for the tacos and froze the rest. For the tacos I browned some chorizo with a minced white onion. To this I added some cubed boiled potato and fried it until browned and crispy. Very tasty on its own, but the key to these tacos is the avocado-tomatillo salsa. Tomatillos are another Mexican ingredient I've been unable to find, but last week the organic veg vendor at the St. Anne's Saturday market had a whole crate of them! He let me have some more this week gratis because there's just not much of a market for them. The salsa is really simple, just a few tomatillos, a chile, a clove of garlic and an avocado whizzed up in the food processor with a bit of salt. Slathered on homemade corn tortillas with the chorizo-potato filling it's just amazing. We have my Mexican food muse, Rick Bayless, to thank for these.