Tue 18 Sep 2012
I’ll start with another apology for being MIA – it’s been a crazy few months and trying to get a blog post up once a week has been next to impossible! I promise after the wedding/honeymoon, I will be back to my regular posting schedule. Thanks for being so patient!
We’re nearly there, and tomorrow my parents land in Dublin from Los Angeles – the first guests to arrive. They’ll be here for a few days and then we’ll hop in the car with Mountaineering Man and drive to Wexford, where they’ll meet MM’s parents for the first time. We’ll do our courthouse marriage ceremony there, have dinner with MM’s family and then head on back to Dublin the next morning.
My parents have been to Ireland to visit me before, so they’ll leave ahead of us and fly to Italy for some R&R before the wedding in Tuscany next week. A day after they depart, my best friend Stacy and her husband Brian, along with my cousin Dana, arrive in Dublin.
As this will be the first visit to Ireland for all three, I’ve been trying to write an email to prepare them for what they can expect while here. As I write an entire blog on the subject of Ireland and its culture and people, it’s been difficult to craft a succinct email on the subject. There’s so much I want to say but I don’t want to give everything away; I want them to experience it with fresh eyes.
What I can say is that they can expect bipolar weather conditions, as in showers one minute and sun the next with a few other bits thrown in between. They can expect friendly folks, who will happily give them directions if they get lost, and perhaps even a tall tale or two before they get back on the road. Recently a taxi driver told me about how when he was a child, he was standing on the sunny side of the street while watching it pour down rain on the other side. Ah the Irish love their stories, and true or not they’re always told with earnest.
There are the things they’ll find odd, particularly as Americans. There’s driving on the other side of the car AND road thing (and not being allowed to turn on a red light – under any circumstances). There’s the funny lingo, like craic and ah there and aw sure and ah now and the like, and the constant slagging (making fun) that is typically a tell-tale sign that you’ve been accepted into the fold. There are the motherly older women who dish out advice and goodwill whether you ask or need for it, like the produce lady at my farmer’s market who always ends each sale with, “There you go now, mind yourself and we’ll see you next week PLEASE GOD!”
There are the rolling green hills that are even more beautiful in person than in the postcards they’ve seen, and the cobblestones streets that look great but are a right pain to walk on (and if you’re wearing heels, forget it!). There is Guinness and shepherd’s pie and there are potatoes, but there is a whole new wave of producers who are changing the face of Irish food. Now it’s about beautiful butters and fresh, handcrafted cheeses; tangy, homemade relishes and oil made from local rapeseed plants; sharp sourdough bread baked until the outside is crisp and golden; marbled beef and free-range lamb and so much more.
The only real advice I’d have for my cousin and friends is to just embrace is all, be open-minded and have a great time – which I know we will. Our only problem will be what to do and see in the limited number of days (3!) we have before we fly off to Italy for the wedding.
We get incredible seafood from our fishmonger (at Honest to Goodness Market in Glasnevin) every week, and a few weeks back he had some beautiful squid – I bought the last four as soon as I saw them. This isn’t so much a recipe as a suggestion; I made it up as I went along, so forgive the lack of a structured recipe. Did I tell you it’s been a bit nuts around here lately?
Rinse and clean out the squid; mine was already cleaned out save for a bit of cartilidge left, which I easily pulled out with my fingers. Set aside. In a large saute pan, I cooked a bit of olive oil together with a handful of chopped black pudding (sausage), then threw in some chopped onion and bell pepper and cooked until tender. I then added some smoked paprika, a pinch of cayenne pepper, a touch of cumin and salt and pepper to taste. I then added about 2 cups of cooked quinoa and mixed it all together until warmed through.
I stuffed each squid with the mixture and closed the end with a toothpick, and baked on an oiled tray in a preheated 170C oven for 20 minutes. Remove, slice and serve! We topped ours with a bit of olive oil/parsley/minced garlic mix.