Month: May 2012

Another Year Over

So, that was May and what an interesting month it was. A month that I had set aside and cleared to allow myself the space to figure out what I do next, and to sort my life out a little bit. I cleared every single weekend except one. I need to do it more often. Head cleared and getting back in shape, life is starting to feel quite good again, instead of just chaotic and a little crazy. I was trying to do too much, and it was all getting a little silly. When I wrote that post about the major downside of being a food writer, I had reached as far as I was willing to go (actually much further). It was time to change things. I wanted my life and my body back. I started to think about this past year. It was great in many respects. My first book, Comfort & Spice, was published by Quadrille. It was an intense period writing it. My body took a battering for it, and my …

Comfort & Spice Cooking Class & Next Classes Available to Book

This blog has become a little cooking class obsessed, which must be annoying for those of you outside of London. They have slightly dominated my life this last few weeks. Planning them, setting them up, teaching them. Working out the kinks, figuring out the best way to do them. I think I am there now. Normal service will resume promptly. Bacon class was fun and very tasty. People often look a little confused when I mention bacon fudge (there are now two versions: candied maple & tamarind bacon fudge and bacon jam fudge), but when they try it, without fail their faces become joyful. So wrong it is right, and before you know it you’ve eaten it all. A few of you have requested the recipe by email or twitter. I have decided not to share these recipes until later in the summer, as I want them to be unique to the class. I will share them eventually though. Comfort & Spice Cooking Class (with recipes from the book and at the request of the students …

Welcome Summer & Hello Elderflower

Isn’t it lovely to have summer finally arrive? Just glorious! But like all good things, it comes and then you remember the things that are slightly annoying about it. Like the sunburn, the hay fever, the heat rash and those terribly chirpy birds in the hedge who wake with the light and go CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP. Tiny and sharp and irritating (at 5am), like little chirpy pneumatic drills that invade your head and your sleep. But I do love summer. Even though I am Irish and pale and my body can’t actually cope with the heat. I think we operate best between 10 and 16 deg C. Spring is best. When the flowers start to peep out and release their gorgeous fragrance, when the parks rush towards lush and green. The evenings are longer and people are happier. I love to wander in the local park, especially in the mornings.  If I can motivate myself I will even go before I start work. I always have a bag so that I can forage all of …

Natural Wine at the RAW Fair (and food and wine at the Georgian Supra)

I love natural wines, and I love Georgia, so it is no great surprise that I should be pretty excited when the two collide in London. It’s a great week to be here, with the RAW Fair, Real Wine Fair and the London International Wine Fair all going on. Natural wines, for the uninitiated, are wines that have had little interference – chemical or technological –  in the growing of the grapes and making of the wine. They can have a little sulphite in them, which acts as a preservative. Lots don’t even have this.  Some say they are the purest expression of terroir. For me, at a very basic level, I just really enjoy them. I like life to be eclectic and interesting and I like my wine to be eclectic and interesting too. I like to eat food that hasn’t been mucked around with too much, why not the same with wine? Some say they don’t taste good. True, some don’t. There is good and bad natural wine, just like there is good and bad everything. …

Bacon Masterclass: Some Photos

Bacon Masterclass has been and gone. It was as much fun as I hoped it would be. I worry sometimes that maybe people will think I have stepped too far away from where food should be, but last Thursday everyone was agreed that all things bacon were good. Everyone got to bring home two large jars of bacon jam, a big box of candied bacon fudge and lots of bacon vodka. We made 4 bacon recipes with delicious smoked streaky Denhay bacon (only the best – without good bacon to start with, why bother?). We made bacon jam, maple syrup and tamarind candied bacon, candied bacon fudge (new favourite thing) and bacon vodka (with Grey Goose vodka). Before you ask, the recipes won’t be made public for a bit, the only way to get them is to come to the class. Is that a bit mean? Maybe I will cave and blog them sooner. I have so many bacon recipes now, I might change the recipes for the bacon class quite often. I have received …

ANNOUNCING: Comfort & Spice Cooking Class on Saturday May 26th

OK folks! Cooking class number 2 is ready to book (the first is my Bacon Masterclass this Thursday- I have had 2 cancellations so email if you’re interested!). My second class will be on Saturday 26th May for 4 hours – from 10am to 2pm – and will include lunch and a glass of wine. Recipes will include homemade butter, homemade paneer, blaas (fluffy Irish bread roll), two hour pork belly and chocolate mousse with honeycomb. The cost is £90, to reserve a place please email me on niamh@eatlikeagirl.com Stay up to date on classes by emailing me to add you to my Cooking Class mailing list, and by keeping an eye on the new Cooking Class page on this site.

Recipe: Black Pudding, Bacon & Egg Empanadas

I am getting dangerously close to the jumbo breakfast roll. I know, I know. But trust me, this is a little more refined. This month, I have planned to dedicate my time to sorting all my crap out – which is a lot of crap. I have had a brilliant time travelling post book writing etc., I definitely needed it after the intensity of the previous year. Lots happened in all areas of my life and I felt like I needed a breather. So I grabbed one. Now, I want to be in London a little more. I want to finally sort out all of my stuff, and start my cooking classes and other things that have been in the pipeline for a while (there are still spaces for Thursdays bacon class by the way!). So, if I haven’t lost you yet, yesterdays sorting out primarily consisted of me trying to change a light bulb. For ages. On my own. Productive, eh? I am rather short and the ceiling rather high. It was beyond me …

Announcing: Cooking Classes! Starting Thursday with Bacon

Forgive my disorganisation and for being so late announcing this, you must be used to it by now. I have run cooking classes for some years in an ad hoc manner and have long wanted to run proper cooking classes outside of my home, but costs have been prohibitive. I wanted to run classes that were accessible and fun. I didn’t want costs to be excessive for you either. I am not sure I have figured it out, but I am going to give it a try. I have found a wonderful new cookery school in Old St that I can rent and I am starting this Thursday. If successful I will run weekly courses, one at the weekend and one during the week on an evening (so roughly every second week there will be a weekend one and in between a week day one). I am starting with a month trial. The course I want to start with is something that I have been obsessing with this week and that will be really fun: …

Quebec, Poutine and all that Jazz (or Country Metal Music)

Charming Quebec. Shiny metallic roofs in silver tin, aching blood red and duller tones of tarnished green copper and grey. Some of the grey ones blend seamlessly with the Spring grey sky. It all feels a bit dreamy at times. The capital of Quebec province, it is a small city, much smaller than Montreal with a population of just over 500,000. It really reminds me of Cork, where I studied and lived for years, a city that I have great affection for. It may be petite but there is so much individuality and few chains that it feels a lot bigger (it is rare to see a chain here as in Montreal). I especially adored all of the second hand book shops, of which there are many. I even found an old MFK Fisher gem in a box under some shelves for $3.99. I resisted lots of gorgeous glasses, cutlery, plates and other loveliness in many antique shops. My case is already full to bursting. It did actually burst in the end. I had to …

Montreal: Cooking Demo, Book Signing & Au Pied du Couchon and that Foie Gras Poutine

You must go to Au Pied du Couchon, ran the chorus. Pied du Couchon meaning pigs trotter, I knew there was a likelyhood that I would agree. Famous for rich food, especially the foie gras poutine, I booked a table for after my demo and book signing at Appetite for Books. My taxi driver got lost, and I was clueless, so I worried when we ended up in what seemed like mountains nearby. Eventually we reached Appetite for Books, and I was delighted and a little surprised to see a full house. I crept up the side and started getting ready in the kitchen. My book has just come out here, and this is the first signing / demo I have done in North America. A few blog readers have turned up (which was lovely!), and I get started on my chocolate mousse and honeycomb, which went down a treat. Little lentil shepherds pies from Comfort & Spice were also on offer. It was a fun evening. As I signed his book, one gentleman asks …

Chat, Food & Book Signing at The Mount St Deli on Tuesday

On Tuesday 8th May – next Tuesday – I will be at the Mount St Deli in Mayfair talking about my adventures in blogging & social media. Some food from Comfort & Spice and this blog will also be about to munch on. I will also have some copies of my book available to sign and buy. It should be fun, it is a lovely spot. Hope to see you there! The Evening Standard write about it yesterday – you can read that here. The event costs £10 per person to attend. to book call 020 7499 6843. Credit card payment must be given on booking. themountstreetdeli.co.uk.

Cooking Up a Flavour Bomb in Montreal (Potato, Tomato, Spinach & Morel Bake)

Greetings from Quebec, the train to Quebec city to be precise. They have wifi on the train which is wonderful, I can keep myself entertained and work. I had planned to snooze but who has time to sleep anyway? Not I right now. Lots of you are asking, so I should clear up this Richmond stuff. In brief, a few months ago in grim January, when all of life seems hopeless just for a brief time, a friend spotted it and messaged me and asked if I had applied. I had no idea what she was talking about but quickly discovered, as she enthusiastically recounted, that Richmond in Canada were looking for a food blogger to go there for a year, they would pay them, house them etc. I could write my second book there and have an adventure. It seemed perfect. I threw my name in. 1500 people applied. I didn’t think of it again for a bit. Then I found out that I had made the shortlist of 12. That was exciting. Online …

News! Shortlisted for the Food Blog of the Year Award by the Guild of Food Writers

Did you just read that? I did! *pinch* I am so excited. This is the first time that the Guild of Food Writers have recognised blogs explicitly  - they have had a broader new media award which was difficult for blogs to compete in as it was usually very big sites that made that shortlist, with rare exception. A blog is an individual and imperfect adventure, it is not sub edited and anything beyond that is something else.  It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling that not only have the OFM recognised us with an award, so too have the GFW with this. Anyway, I am quick to ramble. I am obviously thrilled to have made the list and congratulations to my two wonderful co-shortlistees (is that even a word?). I look forward to raising a glass with you on May 30th and may the best woman win. Food Blog of the Year Award Eat Like a Girl (www.eatlikeagirl.com) by Niamh Shields The English Can Cook (www.marmitelover.blogspot.co.uk) by Kerstin Rodgers Poires au Chocolat (www.poiresauchocolat.net) by …

In Montreal: Bagels, Smoked Meat Heaven & Liverpool House

So now I am in Montreal. I love it. It is quirky, friendly, independent in spirit and has a near permanent circus (Cirque du Soleil comes from here and is in a giant circus tent in town). I have seen so many restaurants, a raft of independent shops near my rented flat and hardly a supermarket. This is my kind of city and I am glad I found it. Montreal is rumoured to have more restaurants per capita than any city in North America. In parts of the down town area and Old Montreal, there are 74.3 restaurants per square kilometre (figures from 2009). A mix of normal every day bistros, delis, cafés and more upmarket restaurants. That is a lot to explore in just a couple of days. It is quite a challenge but I compiled a list. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hit everything on it as Joe Beef was full and there were no cancellations (but there is a fine reason to come back). I went to their excellent bistro style restaurant Liverpool House …

Living Like a Local in Williamsburg: NYC Hipster Stylee & Where To Eat of an Evening

Greetings from Montreal, folks! I have just flown in from NYC this morning where I spent the weekend. Regulars will know that my book has just come out there, so it seemed the perfect opportunity to pop up to a city that I have long wanted to visit, to eat, explore and squeeze in a book signing and cooking demo at Appetite for Books (on Wednesday, 2nd May at 6pm – do come if you are in the area). Before I can talk about any of that, I must tell you about my weekend in NYC. I stayed in Williamsburg in Brooklyn, somewhere that had lots of appeal for many reasons. Across the river from Manhattan, it is a lovely borough with lots of great things to do, brilliant places to eat and some bars thrown in for good measure. It is relaxed, sleepy, and energetic, it sounded like my spiritual home. We had an apartment rented through Housetrip (who I previously went to Paris with). We were by the river looking over Manhattan, the …