Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.


Tag: food

The Amateur Gourmet: Escape From Noma

A thoroughly engaging and entertaining write-up, with a refreshingly honest perspective, of one person’s experience at the supposed “best restaurant in the world” [c/o kottke.org]. Perhaps it wasn’t intended as such (as the writer makes it clear they would’ve got a kick out of the place were they not feeling unwell) but to me, Noma simply oozes pretentious bolloxology — both in the superior notions of the institution itself, and its reflection in the cult that ‘foodies’ have built around it, and others like it. #link

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How to Cook Pasta in the Instant Pot

The measurements are US imperial (sigh) but it’s more or less a two-to-one ratio of water volume to pasta weight. I made macaroni and it came out fine, certainly good enough for me. #link

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Recipe for vegan mapo tofu

I also need to try this, although I’ve decided I only really like tofu when it’s either crunchy on the outside, or pillowy and melt-in-the-mouth. So we’ll see how this goes. #link

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Recipe for pure maple candy

I made this a few weeks ago, and the second time it turned out great. The first was botched due to poor-grade, almost bitter syrup (thanks but no thanks, Aldi) and issues with bringing the syrup up to temperature. Second attempt, I used a bigger pot for the two bottles’ worth; I took it a little higher than the recipe suggests, up to soft ball stage on our sugar thermometer. And I didn’t bother adding nuts. The mixture went in a silicone bread loaf mould to cool and I just chopped it into squares a few hours later. Also, it actually tastes better the day after you make it. #link

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Weaknotes for m/e 5 October 2019

So I let a month go by. That’s why I went with ‘weaknotes’, after all. Bullet points required here, I think — just the highlights, the most remarkable that I didn’t already tweet or blog. Here we go. More…

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Yotam Ottolenghi’s hummus recipes

Hummus is dead easy to make and I really should make some more often. (Same goes for chimichurri, though I’ve found it harder to get the flavour balance right.) #link

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What perfectly normal food can you just not stand?

I would quibble with pith as a ‘perfectly normal food’ (if you’re not avoiding the pith when you eat citrus, you’re doing it wrong). Other than that, this mostly leaves me thinking about how much my palate has changed over the last few years. Once upon a time, not so long ago, I was That Guy who lived on starch and didn’t touch fruit or veg; I still don’t really eat fruit (it’s a texture and tartness thing for me) but I’m game for most vegetables now, provided they’re properly prepared and in the right combinations. (For instance, raw tomato is not appealing — but slice it, salt it, put it in a sandwich or on a burger? I’m good.) #link

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The Weird Science Behind Chain Restaurant Menus

It’s not all that weird, unless you were naive enough to think your favourite mom-and-pop-feeling chain wasn’t decided upon down to the last detail. Maybe it also feels uncomfortable to think of oneself as an individual while at the same time fitting a little too neatly into a brand’s demographic classification, like a negation of individuality? No sweat; it’s as much in their heads as it is in yours. And I’d be more worried about Facebook doing it than a ‘fast casual dining experience’. #link

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The best homemade cacio e pepe

Experienced some serious Baadher Meinhof with this dish, or the title of it anyway, in 2017. So I’ll have to try making it, won’t I? #link

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Losing It in the Anti-Dieting Age

It’s only to an extent, but I can identify with this; I don’t care so much about how others perceive me, but I know I would feel better, holistically, if I can get my head right. And for me, managing what I eat really is all in the head. #link

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This Greedy Pig on the gentrification of the Italian-Irish chipper

I’ve seen a couple of these ‘Chipmonger’ places and I can understand, at least on an intellectual level, the need to compete in an increasingly hipster marketplace, minimalist and fashionably distressed and all that. But even at that, they look fairly bland and soulless; at a glance, could be a barber shop as much as a chipper. Give me a Macari’s or a Romayo’s (or a Milano’s, for our current go-to local) any day. #link

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Jay Rayner’s Observer review of Le Cinq, Paris

Bad restaurant reviews are the best restaurant reviews, and Jay Rayner brings us a doozy here. I normally think of Rayner as an insufferable dick, the smug dandy from MasterChef and that, but I can warm to comments like this: “I have spent sums like this on restaurant experiences before, and have not begrudged it. We each of us build our best memories in different ways, and some of mine involve expensive restaurants. But they have to be good. This one will also leave me with memories. They are bleak and troubling. If I work hard, one day, with luck, I may be able to forget.” #link

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The Guardian on the UK’s recent hummus ‘crisis’

Highlighting the actually not-so-secret world of mass food production, and product manufacturing in general. Streamlining is cheaper, hence single producers are contracted by various brands and chains to supply their needs. They’ve been doing it for decades. (That branded thing you like? There’s probably an own-brand equivalent that is literally the same product.) But there’s a cost for this efficiency, whether relatively benign (like ‘metallic-tasting’ hummus) or more significant from a public health standpoint (see the horse meat scandal, which was really about not knowing what was in the food, rather than that thing being horse meat). #link

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