Gerry O’Sullivan mentions some of Dublin’s new restaurants including Gary Rhodes’ 250 seater RhodesD7. I can’t help thinking the thinning-spiky-haired chef missed a trick in its naming. After all, if Dubliners eagerly patronise a restaurant named after history’s most bloody tyrant, surely they wouldn’t be put off by one called Rhodesia?
Archive for the ‘Food and Drink’ Category
I’m not quite sure why, but this one irks me almost as much as the “Berna-bow”. “Bruschetta” is an Italian word. That means the “ch” is pronounced as a “k”, not a “sh”.
Oh, and while we’re at it: “latte” is the Italian word for milk. That’s why Italians who find cappuccino too strong order caffe latte. Use of the single word “latte” to refer to milky coffee is generally the preserve of the anglophone world. The French observed by Fox News’ Neil Cavuto were more likely sipping café au lait, Spaniards might sip café con leche, Catalans café amb llet and the Portuguese café com leite.
I mentioned previously that I was fond of foie gras and intended to have some while I was in Carcassonne for the weekend. For some reason or other, you can’t just buy it in ordinary supermarkets here and it had been a while since I had some of that gluttonous goose liver goodness. Since I managed to satisfy my ‘gras jones, however, it’s been Foie-Fest 2006 round these parts. I took the opportunity to take a few tins home and then, while dining with Mrs McG on the occasion of her birthday last Saturday, was “gras-tified” to see on the menu at the newly opened Rosso a starter: terrine of foie gras and duck confit. It was delicious and at €9.50, pretty good value: you’d be doing well to get an equivalent amount of the stuff in a tin for that.
It’s a pity I didn’t have the benefit of Tim Harford’s advice last time I was in a Starbucks, just over a year ago in High St. Edinburgh. I might have ordered the “secret” cappuccino - instead of the foul coffee-scented mug of hot milk that purported to fulfil my requirement for a “regular” cappucino. Harford explains why this better cappuccino, stronger in taste and closer in size to that offered by the typical Italian cafe, is not more prominently advertised:
It’s not hard to identify the price-blind customers in Starbucks. They’re the ones buying enough latte to bathe Cleopatra. The major costs of staff time, space in the queue, and packaging are similar for any size of drink. So, larger drinks carry a substantially higher markup, according to Brian McManus, an assistant professor at the Olin School of Business who has studied the coffee market.
The difficulty is that if some of your products are cheap, you may lose money from customers who would willingly have paid more. So, businesses try to discourage their more lavish customers from trading down by making their cheap products look or sound unattractive, or, in the case of Starbucks, making the cheap product invisible. The British supermarket Tesco has a “value” line of products with infamously ugly packaging, not because good designers are unavailable but because the supermarket wants to scare away customers who would willingly spend more. “The bottom end of any market tends to get distorted,” says McManus. “The more market power firms have, the less attractive they make the cheaper products.”
That observation is important. A firm in a perfectly competitive market would suffer if it sabotaged its cheapest products because rivals would jump at the opportunity to steal alienated customers. Starbucks, with its coffee supremacy, can afford this kind of price discrimination, thanks to loyal, or just plain lazy, customers.
Nice little hommage spotted in Madrid by Ms Perez-Garcia.
What is it with these, er, counter-intuitive stories today? Gerry O’Sullivan reports on wine-making developments in Leitrim:
“The nose was described as a reminiscent of blackberries, heather and green diesel.”
Green diesel indeed!
Interesting discussion in the comments to this post by Budapest’s resident Northern-Irish-man about the quality of guinness on mainland Europe and beyond. Though there seems to be a consensus that one could only rely on pubs in Ireland and Britain to provide a decent pint, I have never had a “proper” pint of guinness outside of Ireland.
The best pint I have ever had in London, while considerably superior to the worst I have ever had in Ireland (of which more later), still doesn’t taste as a “proper” pint should. I am happy enough to drink “British” guinness but it doesn’t taste the same to me as “Irish” guinness. However, while being poured in Ireland might be a necessary condition of a “proper” pint, it is most certainly not a sufficient condition. I have been served many execrable pints on this island and there are a number of cardinal sins committed by insufficiently attentive or downright incompetent bar staff.
Firstly, I would like to note that the “double pour” - whereby the pint is poured to about 80% full, allowed to settle and then topped up - is a complete red herring and has no effect, good or bad, on the quality of a pint. My understanding that his practice dates from a time when there were actually two taps for stout and while it is a jealously guarded ritual, the breach of which is taboo, I have it on good authority from the proprietor of Peter’s Pub, purveyors of peerless porter, that a “single poured” pint is indistinguishable in taste from that poured in the traditional manner.
While the double pour itself isn’t a cardinal sin - if it were, “guinness hell” would be a crowded place - it does make possible one of the cardinal sins: the delayed second pour. If a pint is left too long sitting waiting for the top-up, it can “go off”. A more aggravated version of this is when, instead of “your” pint which has been sitting waiting for the top up, the barman tops up the nearest (and oldest) to hand: someone else’s first pour which could have been sitting there for several minutes or more.
The principal cardinal sin is the “scoop”. My heart sinks when I see the firm meniscus of a freshly poured pint gouged out by a table knife. Consider the difference between a cappucino and a regular coffee. If the foam of the cappucino retains its substance until the bottom you get the signature taste. If the foam disappears your coffee is indistinguishable from milky coffee. As the foamed milk contributes to the cappucino’s flavour so does the head of a pint. It is imperative that a pint retains its head until the end and one sure way of ensuring this doesn’t happen is to remove the protective “skin” formed at the top by gouging it out. A related cardinal sin is the narrow head, referred to by my late father as a “Christian Brother” pint due to a resemblance to the slim collar worn by the monks who taught at his school, Just as a scooped head won’t last, neither will one of insufficient substance.
Chris’s thoughts on a possible re-branding of Bewleys Cafe reminded me of that franchise’s short sojourn in Dundalk. When the Long Walk shopping centre opened about a decade ago, Bewley’s cafe was one of the “anchor” tenants. Within about two years Bewleys had pulled out. The cafe is still there and in a testament to Louth’s legendary canniness or cheapness, the new proprietors managed to save the price of a new sign by simply rearranging the letters. Thus was born “Welbey’s Cafe”.