All the ladies in the house say “Broomfield Festival!”

Ladies’ Night. The term has many meanings. For my generation, it usually means a night out on the town with your girlfriends involving – in this particular order – dressing up, dinner at a nice restaurant, a trip to the local hipster bar and way too many cocktails followed by a ruinous shot of some hideous liquor at last call. And if we’re being really bad, a visit to the local fast-food joint in an effort to stave off tomorrow’s hangover with copious amounts of greasy but deceptively delicious junk food. Occasionally, someone will get sick and, like true ladies, we’ll always hold her hair back while she pukes into a toilet. Can you think of anything more ladylike?

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a real ladies’ night, courtesy of the Broomfield Festival’s “Transform Yourself Beauty Extravaganza” at the local community center. Broomfield, an area in Collon about the size of a postage stamp, hosts a festival every year and the extravaganza evening of fashion/skincare tips/tea/etc. is one of its most popular events. Local shops display shoes, handbags, makeup and accessories at stalls around the main hall and tea and cake is served to all attendees. The main event includes a mini-fashion show, skincare presentation and a how-to on makeup application.

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The mad dash for tea and cakes; lovely gifts in the goodie bag.

This year, over 100 local women showed up for the 3-hour affair including me and a few of my girlfriends. There was something a bit Stepford Wives about the whole thing; it’s not every day that I sit in a roomful of women sipping tea and listening to tips on how I can stop the aging process. At one point, my friend Grainne leaned over and whispered, “Is this all very provincial to you? Are you just totally bored by all this?” I told her that the provinciality of it all was what made it so appealing to me, and I do not mean this in a condescending way. The presentations were earnest, the tea and cakes homemade and the overall vibe was one of genuine community and support. We even received goodie bags in the end, filled with beauty products and accessories. It was probably my first real ladies’ night, and while some of the talks ran a bit long, I really enjoyed myself.

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Mushroom, Manchego and Sage pizza

And speaking of ladies’ nights, there was a gathering of women in the virtual world the other night that yielded some fantastic…pizzas! Irish food blogger Sarah of Musings of a Med Student organized a “twizzaparty” where she invited other food bloggers in Ireland to create a pizza for a virtual pizza party on Twitter. All we had to do was make a pizza on the designated night, take a photo and post it on Twitter with a #twizzaparty hash tag. For those of you not familiar with Twitter, I realize this is all Greek to you. In any case it was a great excuse to make pizza dough from scratch and check in with all the other foodies online for tips and updates. Participants included dinnerdujour, babaduck71, icanhascook, TheGlutton, likemamuse2bake and joannaschaff, with italianfoodie serving as the judge. The winner will be decided sometime next week, so I’m hoping my Mushroom, Manchego and Sage Pizza takes home the top prize! Regardless, it was great fun and another ladies’ night that didn’t involve someone puking at the end!

mushroom pizza breakfast pizza edit

Thin and crispy mushroom, manchego and sage pizza; leftover dough makes a great breakfast pizza!

Mushroom, Manchego and Sage Pizza
(Serves 2)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, sliced thinly
2 garlic cloves, minced
12 Irish chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 fresh sage leaves, chopped
1 cup shredded Manchego cheese
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 ball of No Knead Pizza Dough [recipe linked]

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

In a sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium setting. Sauté shallots and garlic in the oil for about 5 minutes, or until shallots are tender. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes, then add the sage and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add just a touch of salt and pepper to taste, keeping in mind the cheese will add salt to the pizza.

On a large cutting board dusted with flour, roll out the pizza dough ball to about 12 inches in diameter. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the Manchego cheese evenly over the pizza, and then top with the mushroom mixture. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top and then put the pizza in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until pizza crust is crispy. Slice and serve.