So, the most exciting foodie news this week for me was the return of MasterChef: The Professionals on BBC2. (And to think I almost missed it, but for a kindly text from a fellow foodie friend letting me know it was starting! Note to BBC: next year, more advance publicity!) I think it is the absolute highest form of cooking entertainment – yes, even better than the original MasterChef and even surpassing Saturday Kitchen (my Saturday morning TV time has largely been handed over to Peppa Pig these days anyway, sniff, sniff!) I love everything about MasterChef: the Professionals though, from Monica’s horrified expressions to Greg’s ‘orgasmic pudding face’ and Michel Roux Jr.’s avuncular tutelage…I can only imagine that cooking for him and hearing the words,’ Well, it’s not quite right…’ must be the most crushing thing a professional chef can do. As the nights grow longer, I will be extracting great pleasure from wrapping my hands around a hot mug of tea, steeling into the couch, and firing up the DVR for big helpings of fine dining drama.
In other news, my husband drew my attention to this article in last week’s New York Times. I love the NYT’s dining section, and highly recommend poking around the website if you’re ever looking for inspiration (I always find particular joy in Mark Bittman’s video podcasts). This particular article, however, is more about shopping for food than cooking, as it notes the ‘trend’ of shopping at your local butcher’s shop. It made me think how lucky I am to be living in a city where going to the butcher isn’t seen to be specialty shopping, or a particularly elite activity. It’s very easy to ignore all of the plastic wrapped meat at the supermarket and head a few doors down to a top class butcher who can give you the names of the farmers he does business with, and, in some cases, the name of the cow! I have a great relationship with three Dublin butchers who keep me very well supplied with pretty much any protein a girl could want, so I thought I’d take a moment to give them credit.
The first is O’Toole’s Butchers in Terenure village. The first organic butcher in Ireland, this family business is a top class spot. They’ve been supplying me with fabulous Christmas turkeys since 2004 and their garlic chicken en croute is a lovely solution to the quick dinner dilemma. Second is the butcher counter at Fallon & Byrne, which stocks meat from the happiest pigs in Ireland. Their pork steak is absolutely perfect (click here for some great recipe ideas – it makes a brilliant weeknight dinner) and their breakfast sausages are a staple in my house. In addition, all of the butchers there are great for advice on cooking times and recipe ideas, and there’s a lovely wine cellar right downstairs – the ultimate in one stop shopping! Now, I’ve saved the best for last – Lawlor’s Butchers in Rathmines is a true foodie paradise. From the lamb shank to the rib eye steaks to the stuffed pork shoulders, this is THE place to find a Sunday roast. They also have a fish counter, fresh bread delivered daily, and a loyalty card scheme – all pure genius. I could write about their beautiful lamb marinades, gorgeous free-range Irish chickens, and brilliant T-bones for pages, but really, Dubliners – GET IN THERE and experience it for yourselves. Non-Dubs, well, you’ll just have to visit – I promise you a Sunday roast that will keep you happy for days.
Now that you’re all craving a juicy steak, I’ll leave you with this happy little clip from the aforementioned Mark Bittman Minimalist series: