Friday, 11 July 2008

musical shells

I have never seen a piano been hit so hard by a pianist, but it did create some great music. I attended the UCH last night for one of the Shannon International Music concerts, Joanna MacGregor & the Irish Chamber Orchestra. It was a really enjoyable concert with a varied mix of music that caressed and invigorated the senses.

I admit I know very little about music, and even less about classical music. Yet I could see the intensity and passion that Miss MacGregor puts into her performance. Often, she would lean forward hunching over the piano and you could see her smiling with glee like a mischievous school child hunched over a desk. Then she would recompose herself, proud and erect, concentrating and listening, like a teacher critically examining every note. She would conduct the orchestra at times when she was waiting for her next piece, always in control.

Some pieces resulted in a wall of sound being created, in particular the Libertango which was amazing. The pedal was to the floor as continuous notes reigned in on existing notes radiating a calvery of sound from the piano. I am sure there are names for such effects. Then there were other times when she pounded the piano with clenched fists and possibly even an elbow with such ferocity, amazing, I think even some members of the ICO were surprised.

After that I was peckish, so I went home to use the eggs that my mum's hens gave me, indirectly and probably involuntary, but I appreciate them all the more for that. I decided to make an omelette, which should be relatively easy but I am not getting it as nice as I would like, not sure what I am doing wrong. Oh well, I think I'll just have to get more eggs and practice :)

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Sweet tomato music

The succulent sweetness of tomatoes invigorated with a warm chilli sensation makes Penne All'Arrabbiata a deliciously divine dish. I initially read the recipe in the Silver Spoon, albeit a friend's copy of it and I didn't have the wherewithall to write it down. I was surprised by how simple it seemed. Fortunately, the Italian Foodies were the saviour for my taste buds.

A reminder for the MBNA Shannon International Music Festival, a brochure can be downloaded here. I am looking forward to the Salsa Celtica and also Joanna MacGregor & the Irish Chamber Orchestra looks good.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Stony Gold Soil and well done MGB

I always knew people from Monaghan had hearts of gold, but now it seems they have fields of it also.

I am going to have to manage my time better. Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to cook anything recently. And especially when I look at various food blogs and their delicious looking photos, makes me so jealous ;-)

Well done to Mr MGB for handing in his thesis. Great stuff!

Friday, 20 June 2008

elderflowery goodness, sherbert, and music

We completed the making of our Elderflower Cordial last night. There was very little to do, just strain the infusion mixture and then bottle it. I wanted to lick the bowls clean with the flavour of the thick sweet syrup, hmm delicious. It's a lemony taste enhanced with the flavour and smell of the elderflower. I must try making some Ice Lollies with it, or as there are lots of Elderflower sorbet recipes on the web, I might try some Elderflower sorbet.

When I searched for sorbet, for some reason, I searched for sherbert instead. This resulted in the perusal of this page after which I wouldn't mind making some sherbert. Its parent page has a number of interesting articles about various confectionaries, and its grandparent page has lots more articles about food and drink. It also explains how those rock sticks with words in them are made...

In other news, the Irish Chamber Orchestra have a brochure (PDF) for the MBNA Shannon International Music Festival. There seems to be some great acts on. Thursday night and Friday nights have tango and salsa music respectively, and the salsa gig is free. Hope the weather is good.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Respect our Elders

There was a fresh creaminess to the scent, which surprised me. I didn't notice it when I smelled an individual flower, but after bringing home a bag it was not long before the scent fragrented the kitchen. I had brought home a bag of elderflowers to make some elderflower cordial.

I was a bit reluctant to shake the flowers as per instructions because I could see the pollen clouding the air, and I didn't want to lose any flavour (whether pollen contributes to the flavour or not I didn't know, but waste not want not). After a spider tried to bungy jump down into my bowl of flowers, I decided to continue with the shaking. I was also unsure about how much of the stem to cut off, would this give a woodier flavour? (My waste not want not strategy disappeared in a puff of smoke, as I trimmed off much of the stem.)

Pouring the sugar syrup into the bowl wilted the flours into a soggy mess. So now it was a matter of waiting and letting the flowers emit their flavour into the sugar syrup. Some of the recipes I found suggested waiting five days but I am going to stick with the 24 hours.

Friday, 13 June 2008

blaming exercise and food

The blame games have started already, sigh!

I made a nice simple lil salad the other night. Brocolli, feta cheers, tomatoes and a balasamic vinegar dressing. It is from the first Avoca cook book. It should include roasted hazelnuts but I didn't have any to use. Apparently, I should be eating more fish, so I am going to try some Mackerel with some Citrus dressing next, although the Italian Foodie's branzino e patate al forno recipe looked really good and simple also.

I was in the Limerick Sports store today investigating tackies. They had asked me to bring in my old ones, to establish their inclination. So I brought in my current pair and my old pair. They reckoned that my old pair may have contributed to my various foot/heel problems as they had no support nor cushion, although I thought they were great. They thought my current pair of runners were great but told me they were neutrally inclined and that they only had a couple of months left in them. So now all I have to do is get back exercising, though will probably avoid the steps for a while.

Ryan Tubridy had an Italian chef on this morning. They really shouldn't be allowed to talk about food that hour of the morning. He described a very simple dessert he liked - a caapuchino cup of ice cream with an espresso and a shot of amaretto, sounded delicious.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Buongiorno Bella!

A lovely break away, which involved two lovely people getting married, with lots of other lovely people attending. The location was Formia in Italy, a coastal town in between Rome and Naples. Fortunately, there were no rubbish strikes :-)

The weather was lovely and the food was delicious. Some people informed us that they had English soup, which disappointed me as I think I would have loved it. We were in one restaurant, Ristorante Da Veneziano (I think that's the name) where the Chef (who worked with Richard Corrigan) came out and asked us what we would like, really really nice. I had spaghetti with a with seafood which was delicious and then a Mille-feuille for dessert, which was so simple and so tasty.

We went to Pompeii on a day trip. I was not expecting the ruins to be so large, I don't know why but I wasn't. Its a strange place, you get to appreciate a lot of the ingenuity of the builders, from using clay pots in the floors for extra amplication in the amphitheatres, to the planning of shops and houses. Then there is the brothel which had some paintings of couples in different poses. There was a very simple sign carved into the street pointing to the brothel for sailors coming up from the port, no marks for anyone guessing what it was.

We flew with Ryanair. There were lots of people checking baggage weights and sharing stuff to balance the weight limits, one forgets how little 15kg is. Then there was the constant sales pitch, relentless, from fecking ringtones or phone cards to scratch cards. As for the landings, how they get away with it I don't know. They must be wrecking the planes with the heaviness of the landing. The landing in Rome was bad, but the landing back in Dublin was the worst I was ever on. I was expecting it also, because the plane was delayed in Italy, so I knew they'd be rushing to get us in. Everyone's heart stopped I think with apprehension at the landing. Then to add insult to injury, they played some idiotic tune, like a trumpet blow, to say how good their time keeping was.