Wed 18 May 2011
Nearly two weeks into being a Dublin resident, I’m still trying to get the hang of things around here. I remember going through a similar adjustment when I moved from Los Angeles to Drogheda in 2010, though back then I was utterly clueless about anything Irish whereas now I’m just trying to learn my way around a new city.
Of course I happened to move here right in the thick of the craziest week Dublin has ever seen. There’s Queen Elizabeth’s visit, her first EVER to Ireland, which is currently going on. Tonight is the UEFA final (football) and Saturday is the Leinster Cup final (rugby), and both are huge sporting events (so I’m told) and both in Dublin. On Monday, President Obama comes to visit for two days. All these events have Dublin on major lock-down: streets are closed off, public transportation is limited and there are literally 10,000 cops patrolling the streets.
I set out to run errands on foot yesterday with a kind of “see how it goes” attitude. It’s overwhelming enough trying to find my way around Dublin so I didn’t have the energy to read through all the restrictions on streets I’m not even familiar with. The day turned into quite the adventure. As I walked toward Arnotts department store, a protest broke out and I found myself right in the middle of a clash between gardai (cops) and the protesters. Later on I was the last person allowed across the Ha’ penny bridge before the police closed it down; Queen Elizabeth’s motorcade was due to pass at any moment and all foot bridges had to be cleared. I even got yelled at by a gardai for stopping on the bridge momentarily to snap a BlackBerry photo of a police boat racing down the Liffey. What can I say? I just had to capture Ireland’s own Miami Vice moment.
I merely stumbled upon these [significant] events, which is reflective of my approach to learning a new place. I rarely study maps or books on where I am; I’d rather just walk around and talk to people and figure things out as I go. But when it comes to food options, I always put on my research hat and even before I moved to Dublin I had a few foodie finds ready for exploration. One of those is Home Organics, an organization that delivers fresh, organic fruit and veg to your home once a week.
My friend Aoife turned me on to this and after just one week I’m hooked. I signed us up for the more exotic Mediterranean bag, which last week came with a booty of beautiful fruit and veg. We got onions, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, broad beans (also known as fava beans), young garlic, red bell peppers, lemon verbena, farmer’s greens, rhubarb, pak choy (aka bok choy), mushrooms, carrots, apples, oranges, Haas avocado, and lemons. I went absolutely balls-to-the-wall with meal planning and cooking using all my Home Organics produce and in a week’s time used all of it in a variety of dishes.
In one week I made broad bean spread on toasted multigrain bread topped with prosciutto and served with carrot & cumin soup and a green salad; baked stuffed mushrooms served with a potato and Jerusalem artichoke gratin and a green salad; Asian brown rice stir fry with squid, young garlic, bell pepper, pak choy and bonito fish flakes; a dozen wholemeal cinnamon rhubarb muffins; and avocado pesto spaghetti (in my last blog post). Mountaineering Man took an apple to work four times that week and I ate all the oranges. Our produce cost for the week was a mere 27 euro, plus a major savings of effort on having to shop for and carry all that stuff home.
So while I might still be stumbling my way through Dublin I’ve got one thing down and that’s that we’ll be getting our produce from Home Organics moving forward. I always wanted to try a service like this and I’m happy to now live in a city where it’s offered.
Broad Bean Spread with Prosciutto on Multigrain Bread
4 slices good, hearty multigrain bread – toasted
4 slices of prosciutto, sliced to your liking (I like it uber thin!)
10 broad bean pods
2 cloves young garlic
1 spring onion, chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons light cream cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Shavings of Parmesan cheese and sliced spring onions to garnish
Remove all the broad beans out of their pods and put the beans into boiling water for about 4-5 minutes. Drain and let cool for a few minutes. At this stage the beans will come out of their skins quite easily, simply pinch the sides and they should come out. In a food processor (or you can use a mortar and pestle), mix together the broad beans, garlic, spring onion, olive oil and cream cheese. Add salt and pepper to season. Spread evenly onto the toasted bread slices and top each with a slice of prosciutto. Garnish with Parmesan cheese shavings.
Carrot & Cumin Soup
7 medium-sized carrots, peeled
1 large onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 liter of vegetable or chicken stock
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons sea salt plus more to taste
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper plus more to taste
Natural yogurt to garnish
Preheat oven to 200 C. Cut the carrots and onion into medium dice and arrange in one layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on a fair bit of sea salt and black pepper. Using your hands, toss all together so that the veg is coated with the olive oil. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the carrots can be easily pierced with a fork. Remove from oven.
In a large soup pot, heat up the stock and add cumin and oregano, salt and pepper. Add in the carrots and onions and bring to a boil. Using a pulser or blender, blend all ingredients together until smooth. Serve with a dollop of natural yogurt on top.