Archive for the Food & Drink Category

Caught by the fizz

Posted in Food & Drink, Unwanted Comebacks on August 6, 2010 by Johnnie

I’ve noticed that Sodastream is making a rather loud comeback.  DIY fizzy drinks were all the rage in the 1970s/’80s, and I honestly thought we’d seen the last of them.  But no, they’re getting busy with the fizzy all over again.  It brings back memories, a sugary flood of them, in fact.  I can taste those memories.  How we must have despised our teeth back in the day, to think that carbonated water and several glugs of bright, sweet syrup were a good idea for regular consumption.  I must ask my former schoolmate who religiously brought a Sodastream cola in his lunchbox to school every day.  I must also track down the other schoolmate who made fizzy milk in his.  Terrible idea; the milk exploded during the carbonating process and within an hour the machine smelled like a giant, sunbathing stilton.

But the same guy also taught me how to perform the most incredible fizzy-drink burps: you down an entire Sodastream as quickly as possible but make sure you keep all the gas in – this is very important; a short time later, usually when you’ve almost forgotten about the gas within, you will emit the most astounding, lengthy and earth-shuddering belch.  It works too.  Once you’ve mastered it, you can also begin to belch-speak.  You haven’t tried that?  You’re crumbling before me.  Start by saying your name.  Next time, your full name.  By the time you’re on your 18th Sodastream, you’ll be belch-speaking entire sentences.  I met someone who could actually belch “the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Special Envoy Terry Waite” – that’s talent.  I’m not making that up. Continue reading

The curse of rosé-tinted glasses

Posted in Food & Drink on August 2, 2010 by Johnnie

A friend once told me a story about an associate of his who asked him for a restaurant recommendation for a first date.  Trying not to be too harsh, but still having to acknowledge that this associate was not perhaps the most sophisticated of individuals, the friend suggested a pleasant enough little pizza place in the city.  The day after the dinner date, the non-sophisticate diner approached the friend with annoyance.  He was not happy with the restaurant he’d been recommended at all, not one bit.  The reason?  He had decided to ‘impress’ his date by choosing the wine for her, and had asked the waitron for a bottle of the establishment’s finest rosé; when he was told there was no rosé on the menu, he took his date and stormed out of the restaurant “in disgust”.  When I heard this story, not only did I wheeze and snot with mirth, I decided that this restaurant can’t be as bad as I’d once thought.

It may sound like the height of ingratitude or snobbishness, but I’ve always thought that dinner guests who bring rosé are showing little else but contempt for their hosts.  Rosé is a lamentable excuse for a drink and should never, ever be presented to anyone who claims to enjoy a glass of wine with their dinner.

I’ve been handed rosé by no fewer than three dinner guests in the past; each time, I simply assumed they’d taken leave of their senses and discernment and/or gone teetotal.  I’ve never expected guests to bring wine anyway, and I’d sooner they arrived empty-handed than present me with a bottle of this vile, perfumed Barbie water. Continue reading

Tea-time tale

Posted in Food & Drink, Words on July 27, 2010 by Johnnie

A few days back, a colleague and I were discussing the timing of some inconsequential matter, and I happened to estimate it occurred “around dinner time”.   He smiled and said, “so that would be tea time for me”.  It reminded me of a recent piece by an Irish journalist I’m fond of reading, who disparaged the type of people who have their dinner in the middle of the day.  Is it, I wondered, simply a class issue, or are people who still have their ‘tea’ as the last meal of the day caught in a time warp?

It took me back to the first time I had to think about the nature of the names we give our meals.  Back in the early 1970s, we were very much a ‘breakfast, dinner and tea’ family – those were the words I was taught to use, and when you’re finding your way in the world, you form comforting associations with words, times of day and, most particularly, food.  But then, only a couple of years later, the children of some friends of my parents rudely introduced me to the word ‘lunch’, and those comfort zones were destroyed forever.

To this day, I still think the word ‘lunch’ was invented in the mid-’70s by snooty, upwardly-mobile bullies.  I have no idea why I adopted it, but it was probably under duress, as I remember quite clearly being sneered at for not using it.  Continue reading

It’s the demon drink talking, again

Posted in Disasters, Food & Drink on July 21, 2010 by Johnnie

Three pieces in the morning papers got a rise out of me today.  First and foremost, an excellent opinion piece in the Irish Times by Brian O’Connell about the appalling situation regarding cut-price or below-cost alcohol sales; then, a shocking (to my eyes) report on how the Irish are apparently at odds with the rest of the EU’s views on drink-driving; and finally, the depressing story of a gang of young arseholes who put their infantile driving ‘antics’ on YouTube, complete with their Toyota car registrations and ‘crazy’ nicknames.

All of them make frustrating reading in their own ways.  Both drink and driving are clearly major problems in Ireland, never minding the horror of what can happen when the two go together.  But I have too many questions about what constitutes common sense in these situations.  What is the problem with drink-driving?

It depresses me beyond words that such a swell of Irish residents (31% of those surveyed) believe it’s a ‘minor road safety issue’.  What is this mindset to do with?  Is this really a mentality issue?  Is it due to the slack attitude of the successive governments who allowed people to drive by themselves without a full licence for so many years?  Is it really to do with the preservation of the mythical ‘rural way of life’, where drink-driving is actually considered ‘a way of life’ and not of potential death?  Or is the drinks industry’s relentless whingeing about pub closures actually an influential factor here?  Continue reading

Walkers Crisp World Cup “taste” test – Part One

Posted in Food & Drink on May 13, 2010 by Johnnie

There are no fewer than 15 – 15! – new crisp flavours competing in Walkers Crisps World Cup.  IHGN is well known for its love of crisps, so it’s only right that we have a go at sampling the “delights” of the range.  This is a vegetarian blog, though, and we don’t take kindly to crisps we can’t try.  To this end, we have engaged a panel of anonymous reviewers who will give second, third and possibly zero opinions on what we bought.  So, without any further arguments against doing this, let’s get to the first six flavours we could lay our hands on and see if we’re shouting “YES!” or crying “FOUL!”… Continue reading

The effluent society

Posted in Advice, Food & Drink, Shopping on May 10, 2010 by Johnnie

I was making my way home on Saturday night (quickly, to the strains of ‘Funky Town’ by Pseudo Echo), and, despite fully expecting the streets to be swaying with drunken idiots, and peppered with discarded snack boxes and copious pools of chunky semi-digestion that operate as sole-mines all over Temple Barf, I still found myself being absolutely repulsed by the sight of grown men urinating up against walls.  Not even the slightest pretence of hiding behind something (normally something really clever, like a lamppost), but right there in full, streetlit view of everyone.  Apart from vomit-dodging, there’s little in life more exhilarating than skipping over a flowing stream of alcoholic piss.  I was delighted to see that a party of well-dressed European tourists got to witness for themselves this entertaining display of Jedi-like liquid-sabre wielding.  I’d love to know what they’ll write on their postcards home: “Loving Olde Dublin – interesting and quaint pre-Roman sewer network, which criss-crosses the footpath-cum-litter-bins, which is both fun to negotiate and aromatic to inhale, like German wine.”  Possibly.

Anyway, the sight of these ambassadors for Dublin tourism reminded me of the product you see above: the ‘Pocketoilet’, which is a ‘glove box necessity’, apparently.  It’s only for drivers?  They’re taking the piss, aren’t they?  Why not for drunks?  Continue reading

Fork of the Devil….

Posted in Food & Drink on May 3, 2010 by Johnnie

I can’t eat with this fork. It’s way too scary.  I can barely look at it, in fact, and it was an act of the most astonishing bravery for me to even photograph it and post it on here.  You may think this is silly but, like all of you, I really can’t help what scares me.  Some people hate heights; some are terrified of spiders; others lose the use of their sphincters at the sight of a clown.  Me, I get diabolical shivers at the mere existence of this hideous trident, this satanic pitchfork, this instrument of hellish indulgence.  Continue reading

Sure, crisps and rugby are a sexy combo

Posted in Food & Drink, Shopping on April 28, 2010 by Johnnie

There’s quite a storm in a crisp poke about the new Hunky Dorys billboard adverts, which feature curvy young women in supposed-rugby gear alongside slogans like “Are you staring at my crisps?”, “Others Haka, we Hunky” and “Tackle these”.  For those of a certain vintage and persuasion, I’m sure they’re a comforting throwback to the sexist humour of such comic geniuses as Roy Chubby Brown and Jim Davidson.  The ads also say Hunky Dorys are “Proud sponsors of Irish Rubgy”, a claim the Irish Rugby Football Union refute since it only apparently applies to Navan.

As Conor Pope points out in his article in this morning’s Irish Times, shock value is often the best promotion a product can get.  Unfortunately, given the ubiquity of “models” in bikinis being photographed promoting all sorts of depressingly pointless products on Grafton Street or St Stephen’s Green over the past decade, it’s hard to believe anyone could actually be shocked by the continuing tackiness of the advertising industry – even if we ARE currently experiencing the (ahem) “Celtic Phoenix” effect.

But, T&A images aside, why are we yet again being exposed to utterly inappropriate foods being used to advertise sport?  Continue reading

Hail Mary

Posted in Advice, Conspicuous Consumers, Food & Drink, Shopping, Words on April 1, 2010 by Johnnie

This blog has already warmly welcomed the Green Party’s proposal to introduce tax incentives for vegan converts but not even the most militant plant-eaters among us could have predicted it would receive the support of Mary Harney TD.  While I and many others are still more than a little worried about the content of her forthcoming statement on the issue, word from government sources is that Ms Harney’s conversion to the cause is “deadly serious”.  If so, this will represent the single most positive step she has taken in her tenure as Health Minister.

Besides the Harney’s heavyweight backing, other mooted proposals include using celebrity vegan and former Miss World Rosanna Davison to front a campaign aimed at school children, where re-education on popular myths, such as the health benefits of dairy products, is already well underway (I for one am absolutely delighted my daughter is now receiving soya milk in class), as well as subtle condemnation of lazy parents who hold children’s parties in burger joints. 

While this will inevitably wind up ICSA members (as well as countless others, like those who are already gearing up to protest against the forthcoming ban on cruel, outdated “sports” like horse and dog racing), it’s truly wonderful that the government of Ireland is actually putting the health of its citizens ahead of commercial “imperatives”.  I Have Grave News salutes all concerned for their magnificent efforts in trying to change the way we think, eat and farm, especially in this gruelling week of NAMA horror.  Continue reading

A lovely new place to veg out

Posted in Food & Drink, New Stuff on March 3, 2010 by Johnnie

It’s with great delight and no shortage of tummy rumbling that I warmly welcome Adventures In Veg. – a new vegetarian food blog from the incredibly talented journalist and broadcaster Aoife Barry A.K.A. Sweet Oblivion.  There’s already a great number of excellent Irish food blogs out there but, as a vegetarian of some 26 years and a recent vegan convert, they don’t always cater for those of us who shun the meat, fish and dairy industries – which is recent veggie-convert Aoife’s starting point for Adventures In Veg.

I’m particularly excited about what this blog sets out to do – explore the world of vegetarianism and veganism from the viewpoint of a curious, food-loving enthusiast.  It’s always been my contention that vegetarians and vegans don’t have an “industry” to back up the true benefits of their convictions – unlike the meat, dairy and fishery industries who spend millions every year making claims about the health benefits of their products, while neglecting to be honest and transparent about the all-too numerous downsides or environmental impacts of their industries.  Continue reading

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