There’s been a lot of Los Angeles talk lately, mainly between myself and Mountaineering Man. We’re planning a trip for the autumn to visit my family and friends (for him it’ll be the big introduction!) and though it’s only mid-summer I’m guessing October will be here before we know it. Needless to say, the excitement is building.

Last week we had a little taste of LA here in Ireland, thanks to one of Southern California’s most revered bands: Weezer. Back in the ‘90s when I was a music journalist, I was lucky enough to interview the band a few times for various publications. And by sheer coincidence, my brother-in-law (a musician himself) is good friends with Weezer’s bassist, Scott Shriner and I know his wife (writer/author Jillian Lauren). Between all the connections, I’ve gotten to know the guys a little bit over the years.


The band arrived in town the night before their Friday Oxegen set, and Scott had one request: really good fish ‘n chips. He mentioned that on a prior trip to Dublin he’d had a big, greasy version at a takeaway, but that it left him with lasting stomach pains (oh the day-after regret – we’ve all been there!). So we took Scott and guitarist Brian Bell to our favorite place for great, locally-sourced gastro pub eats – L Mulligan Grocer. The guys all ordered the same thing: a starter of L Mulligan’s famous Scotch egg, plus the fish ‘n chips (which is MM’s standard order every time we go there!). I went with their vegetarian Scotch egg and the moules frites, both excellent. They absolutely loved it, declaring it the best meal they’d had in the UK/Ireland in years. It really warmed my heart that they loved L Mulligans – one of our frequent haunts – as much as we do. Scott even Tweeted a picture of his meal, perhaps he’s a food blogger in the making?? 🙂

The next day we hit Oxegen, and thanks to Scott’s kindness and generosity we avoided the muddy craziness of the festival crowd and got to watch Weezer from the side of the stage. It was an incredible performance featuring some of the band’s classic hits (“Say It Ain’t So,” “Buddy Holly”), newer favourites (“Hash Pipe,” “Beverly Hills”) and even a couple of surprises like a cover of Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android.” At one point in the show I had a major flashback; it was nearly 15 years ago that I first met the band – things were so different then, for all of us. And now, seeing them in Ireland with MM and this whole new life…it was strange, but in the best possible way.

Funnily enough, Scott is now officially the first LA friend to have met MM – a pretty big deal considering not even my family has laid eyes on him. At least Mountaineering Man’s first review was a good one; the next day Weezer played a festival in England, where my brother-in-law’s band also played, and according to my bro Scott gave MM the thumbs-up – calling him a “stand-up guy.” Though MM just smiled when I told him the news, I think it’s taken the edge off his nerves a bit. Yesterday he said he’s looking forward to the LA trip now more than ever.

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Toasted Gnocchi Summer Salad

This dish reminds me of LA summer dinner parties because I first had a version of it at one my sister hosted. Instead of boiling gnocchi, you pan fry it in a bit of olive oil and butter. The result is a really crispy, golden-brown gnocchi with a slightly-chewy, most interior. I toss it with vegetables and a bit of chorizo for extra flavour. It’s perfect served at room temperature so you can make it a little ahead of time. I made this for MM after our Oxegen weekend and he couldn’t get enough!


6 tablespoons of olive oil

2 teaspoons of butter

1/2 foot long cooked chorizo, cut into small cubes

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into medium dice

1 green bell pepper, cut into medium dice

1 red onion, cut into medium dice

10 cherry tomatoes, cut into halvesgnocchi 3

25-30 gnocchi (I used this recipe from The Daily Spud, which I highly recommend!)

Big handful of fresh basil leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large sauté pan, heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook for a few minutes. Add in the bell peppers and red onion and cook for about 5 minutes or until they start to soften (but you don’t want them too soft – it’s nice to keep them slightly firm). Remove from heat and add in the cherry tomatoes, tossing all the ingredients together so that all the vegetables and chorizo are mixed together. Season with salt and pepper, and then place into a bowl and set aside.

In the same pan, add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil and one teaspoon of butter over medium-high heat. Add the gnocchi in one layer – don’t crowd them as you don’t want to steam these, you want to create a nice, golden exterior crust. As the bottoms start to brown, flip them over (I used chopsticks but a spatula or fork will do) and cook until the other side is brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with kitchen roll. You’ll probably need to do another batch (hence the additional olive oil and butter!), so proceed as you did with the first one.

Now you’re ready to assemble the salad: In a large bowl, combine the veg/chorizo mix with the toasted gnocchi. Add in the basil leaves – simply rip them with your fingers and add into the salad. Season with salt and pepper and serve.