When Mark Twain said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco,” he’d obviously never been to Ireland. From what my friends tell me, the last three summers here have been unbearably wet and cold, with weeks of downpours and cloudy skies keeping any semblance of sun from making an appearance.

That is the reason why they all predict we will have a fabulous summer this year (“Ah sure after dem last few summers, we’ll have a great one – we deserve it!”). Of course this makes no logical sense at all; good weather isn’t earned. This type of wishful thinking is just a way to cope with the weather in Ireland, which can be flat-out schizophrenic at times. In a 24-hour period, you can experience lashing rain, sun, gusting winds, hail and cloudless skies. The sheer volatility of the climate here makes it impossible to plan anything outdoors in advance, and often wrecks havoc on such important events as weddings and funerals.

But the Irish are a sturdy bunch. Instead of complaining, they simply accept that they live in a place with less weather stability than the inside of a hyper child’s snow globe. This does not mean, however, that the weather isn’t a constant topic of conversation. Nothing happens around here that isn’t somehow connected to the weather. If you tell someone you’re getting a sore throat, a typical response will be, “Ah, it’s been a bit breezy lately, that’s the reason.” When several shops were vandalized in town recently, I overheard someone say, “It’s the rain, it drives all the young ‘ns mad so it does!” Recent rash of random kind acts? “It’s grand, so it is! The warmth of the sun brings out the warmth in people’s hearts!”

The latter certainly seems to be true these last few days; the weather has been unusually warm and sunny and the effect on people here is palpable. The streets are bustling with activity and everyone seems happier and more alive. I’ve been taking long walks around town and along the Boyne River – I’m well aware that it can all change in an instant so I’m enjoying the sun while it lasts! The brighter weather conditions have positively affected my cooking as well, if that makes any sense at all. And if it doesn’t, that’s OK. I’ll take inspiration over logic any day!

Spuds, Cabbage & Rasher Stack
(Serves 2)

1 large baking potato
2 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 leek, washed and sliced into long, thin strips
½ yellow bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1/3 of a head of cabbage, sliced into thin strips
4 lean rashers, cooked (Irish bacon)
2 eggs, poached or fried
Salt and pepper to taste

Take the potato and cut slits into the skin. Wrap in a paper towel and microwave until tender, about 6 minutes. While the potato is cooking, pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, leek, bell pepper and cabbage and cook until soft, about 10 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper as you cook. Don’t stir it around too much; the vegetables may stick a bit to the pan but it’s great for caramelization, which adds flavor. After the potato is cooked, cut it into thick slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In another sauté pan (I recommend using the same pan you cooked your rashers in – adds great flavor!), add the other tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the potato slices and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, or until a crust has formed.

To serve: Divide the potato slices between two plates. Top the potato slices with the rashers, then top with the cabbage/leeks/peppers mixture. Finish by topping with a poached egg. Perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner!