America, Countries, Cruising, Europe, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Hungry and Thursday – funny food

Food should be fun and taken out of the hands of foodies… and chefs.

I’m writing this while eating my Swedish ‘vacuum cleaners’ or dammsugare for fika. These are named after the tube-shaped vacuum cleaners of the Fifties.

I had been given them in my godispase, or goody bag.

Clean sweep

The godispase had come courtesy of the Stena Estrid, Swedish ferry cruise company‘s http://www.stenaline.ie and www.stenaline.co.uk maiden journey between Holyhead and Dublin.

It is, in truth, the closest I will get to a vacuum cleaner but it shows the Swedes’ sense of fun.

The Swedish dammsugare

To name this sweet after a common household gadget.

And it’s good to see that the world has been watching because it’s not for nothing that Jim Henson looked to Scandinavia for his madcap Swedish Chef.

You like your marzipan?

Music is the food of life

Now if that gives you a taste for Swedish food why not visit http://www.swedishfood.com/swedish-food-recipes-biscuits-cakes/376-arrack-rolls-or-vacuum-cleaners-punschrullar-eller-dammsugare?

The dammsugare got me thinking about other funny food you can pick up around the world.

Every city with a well-known red light district obvs like Amsterdam Pictures of Amsterdam and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel.

Where they also have Middle Eastern food skewered on an actual scimitar in Bazaar, a remodelled old mosque in fashionable De Pijp http://www.hotelbazar.nl/en/restaurant-bazar-amsterdam/ And www.iamsterdam.com.

Get a grip

But also unexpectedly in Portugal Centro Secret Portugal and www.visitportugal.com where I found a shop selling chocolate penises.

While this mug gives a new spin on your hot chocolate.

Get a handle on this

What else is out there I hear you ask.

And where are the sweetie cigarette, cigars and pipes we used to have as children?

Probably replaced with chocolate joints.

And, of course, any excuse to plug this fun for food fixture from my trip on Celebrity Edge around the Bahamas… www.celebritycruises.ie.

With I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out To Here.

The Germans are funny… full stop. Which gives a lie to the myth that they have no sense of humour.

And there is no elegant way to eat a hamburger… ich bin ein Hamurger Hamburgers and ships and www.hamburg-tourism.de.

While the Norwegians have a playful relationship with their trolls… The call of the fjords and www.visitnorway.com.

 

Fjord fiesta

With my very own Scary One… and MSC Cruises www.msccruises.ie.

While I love the taste of the sea too and few do it better than my own wee country Scotland and my adopted one Ireland, north and south…

 

Slurp it up

That’s www.visitscotland.com, www.discovernorthernireland.com and www.tourismireland.com.

With a tasting menu of the best of Scotland, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

 

With Catherine Fulvio at Ballyknocken

America http://www.visitusa.ie and http://visitflorida.com and is the country who put fun and funk into dysfunction and my safari food out with Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge http://www.disneyworld.disney.go.com in Florida brought me this nature feast below… it’s all natural.

 

And seeing we’re talking food then let’s finish on the country that leads the way on food… Italy.

With Italy specialists Top Flight www.topflight.ie and Catherine Fulvio at her cookery school in Ballyknocken, Co. Wicklow www.ballyknocken.ie

And some amateur cuoco…

 

Pasta master

OK, OK… mes amis in France http://www.atoutfrance.fr will disagree. And I don’t know what I was eating here but I was smokin’…

 

Send in your Fun With Food, what’s amusing to eat and where.

MEET YOU AROUND THE TABLE

Safari in Florida
The big smoke: In the French Embassy in Dublin
Cruising, Food, Food & Wine, Ireland, UK

Cruiseday Tuesday – Stena Estrid, what a maiden!

This birdie shows you the way: In Dublin

I love a beautiful ass… and nobody has a more beautiful ass than Estrid!

Now at the risk of being grounded by the Scary One let me try and wriggle out of this one.

Smokin’: On board the Estrid

The maiden voyage of Stena’s spanking new ferry, Estrid, set sail yesterday from Holyhead to Dublin.

And no, I don’t have a weird fascination for a ship’s hull…

That’s where the Estrid sails to…

It’s because ‘ass’ is the Swedish for goddess and Fridr means ‘beautiful’.

Phew… I think I got away with that!

Big kid: in the playzone on the Estrid

The Estrid is special and not at all like the ferries I first started on 50 years ago from Scotland to Northern Ireland.

I see shore: Well, I am at the bar

For one you won’t have to lug a pram or stroller up the steps from the car deck which, of course, my Dear Old Mum had to do with me.

The car deck on Estrid is on the same level!

Walk right through

And where my childhood memories of the ferry were of the time hanging heavy on me…

Here on Estrid there are two movie docks.

When does the movie start?
While for stresses parents there are fancy lounges and cool bars.
And a Stena Plus exclusive lounge for just an extra £18.
The Stena Plus

That’s not to mention Swedish meatballs, well it is Stena, and a smorgasbord of tasty dishes.

See, I told you so

You feel like relaxing after all that… try the Hygge reclining area. I think it’s Swedish for craic

Or if you want to go for the full lie-down… then Estrid has 175 cabins.

Things are getting blurry

And the crew are super friendly… I got a big Jungfruresa which I think means failte or welcome.

A big welcome

And a prize for anyone (well my respect) who can identify these Irish icons in the picture.

Something for everyone

Visit www.stenaline.co.uk. And also check out the best of Ireland and Wales www.tourismireland.com www.tourismireland.cim and www.visitwales.com.

And remember for the best in what’s on water read Cruiseday Tuesday every week Cruiseday Tuesday – Cruise year resolutions on the day between Monday and Wednesday.

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Food

The best hot chocolates

I’d given up on finding my ciocolatta di calda densa after the owners of Campo de Fiori in the next town went home to Italy,

But Tomasso at Caffe Delle Stelle here in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, put a bit of colour into my grey winter’s day.

Chocolate is a gift from the gods so much so that the Incas believed it had magical spiritual powers.

So who am I to disagree?

And here are a few of my favourite hot chocolate dens.

The Caffe Pedrocchi, Padova https://www.caffepedrocchi.it Venice has its St Mark’s Square and Rialto Bridge and its masses but there’s a quieter, hidden Veneto city.

Where Giotto’s handiwork inspired Michelangelo and you can find St Anthony’s tongue!

This grande cafe dates back a hundred years and hits the right note between posh and prego.

And for more Padova perambulating… Padova – city of frescoes.

The Old Chocolate Shop, Bruges, Belgium: I can’t recall Colin Farrell sipping hot chocolate here in the cult movie In Bruges.

But he would have been more chilled if he had.

This canal city is famous for its choccies but don’t press your noses up against the windows… come in.

The Old Chocolate Shop https://www.oldchocolatehouse.be looks straight out of a nursery rhyme… and you should deffo try the gingerbread and truffles too.

And Bruges is a great release at the end of my World War One Battlefields Tour with https://www.gadventures.com. A pilgrim’s prayer

Jacques Torres Chocolate Shop, New York: I’ve developed a mantra as I’ve evolved… only choose friends who hail from wonderful places.

And it also helps if they have fantastic jobs… as is the case with my old University pal Kate.

She is the Editor of a Food and Drinks magazine in her native New York and took La Famille Murty to…

Jacques Torres’ Chocolate Shop https://mrchocolate.com/blogs/locations/soho-hudson near Greenwich Village where we sampled the rich and silky Wicked.

That is after sampling the bacon-flavoured chocolate in their tasting kitchen. We left with a hamper. And you know what I think of New York but here’s a reminder… Old New York: Hamilton

The Cafe Savoy, Prague: Everyone raves about Vienna, and it’s not to be missed.

But cafe society permeated throughout the whole of the old Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg Empire.

And finds itself stamped all over Prague… Hope springs eternal

The Savoy http://cafesavoy.ambi.cz/en/ is the place to go for your hot chocolate (or two hot chocolates)!

Its Savoy Hot Chocolate which uses hot milk hails from the Dominican Republic; the Savoy dessert hot chocolate is made of Valrhona chocolate and hot chocolate.

It is served with whipped milk and you can add it to the cup to melt with the chocolate.

Hot chocolate is one of life’s little gifts to yourself.

Barcelona for hot chocolate

It can be drunk in hot and cold weather despite what my waitresss Mardy Maria thought as we lunched inside from the 30C Barcelona heat… Surfing the seas in Barcelona

My Catalan isn’t that great but her hand gestures suggested f****** eeji or something like that.

Tell me where your fave hot chocolate is and I’ll share the love.

MEET YOU IN THE CAFE

Countries, Culture, Europe, Food, Food & Wine

Carole King… you’re Beautiful

There are some mornings I wake up without a smile on my face to show the world all the love in my heart.

Today though is not one of them.

Today, I have the widest smile on my face.

Because today I am going to see Beautiful The Carole King Musical.

She’s Beautiful (as is my wife).

Carole King and her seminal 1971 solo album Tapestry has been something of a soundtrack to my adult life.

Since I first heard it in a record store as an 18-year-old and asked them to play it again…

You’ve got a friend

Before buying it there and then before going on to wear out the needle.

Will You Love Me Tomorrow? summed up my feeble attempts at wooing… of course, they didn’t even love me that night,

Then it was You’ve Got a Friend when She came along,

So Far Away was when she was pregnant with the Son and Heir in Aberdeen.

And trying to sell the house and me starting a new job in Liverpool.

Trying to shut her up? No, she’s just selfie-conscious

And since then Home Again as we have taken an Oydyssean journey around these islands.

It is the beauty of this timeless album that I won’t be the only one for whom it tells a personal story.

Of course, it’s Carole King’s story that Beautiful tells.

It is a story that begins with her selling her first song while still at school.

Through the ups and downs of her marriage to songwriting partner Gerry Goffin.

To her grand redemptive performance at Carnegie Hall in her native New York.

Hands on decks: Some ambient music at the Radisson Blu

Along the way we thrill to the Sound of the Sixties which she and Goffin and their friends Cynthia Wiel and Barry Mann shaped.

With such classics as On The Roof, Locamotion, One Fine Day, Pleasant Valley Sunday and You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, On Broadway and a bunch of others.

At the end of a fast-paced joyful paean to Carole who has inspired generations of singer-songwriters and still performs to this day, she had performed Tapestry in full with her daughter Louise.

I feel the earth move

Up the road at Hyde Park in the summer, I’m up dancing and clapping wildly to I Feel The Earth Move.

While I’m here at the Aldwych Theatre in London’s West End to pay homage to Carole King there’s time enough for some other kings.

And some queens and princes too at the Tower of London.

Pasta master: Fill yourself up

William the Conqueror built it nearly 1,000 years ago to fortify the capital of his new kingdom, King Henry VIII had two wives beheaded here.

Near to where I’m standing by the Bloody Tower where King Richard III had his two nephews suffocated in their sleep,

Another queen, Lady Jane Grey, was also executed here…

She spent only five days as monarc.

Before she had to make way fro Queen Mary, or Bloody Mary if you will who then made way for Queen Elizabeth.

Beefeater anyone?

It’s another Queen Elizabeth we’re chiefly here to see, the current queen, Britain’s longest serving monarch at 64 years and counting.

Or more accurately we’re here to see her bling, the Crown Jewels.

Talking of counting, try counting the number of gems in her crown.

On your walk around or the number of salt bowls or how many drinks you could get out of that punch bowl.

All of which can make you quite thirsty.

Fat as a king

I feast like a king at my palace for the weekend, the Radisson Blu Edwardian in Mercer Street, Seven Dials, near Covent Garden.

Our breakfasts are king-sized.

Instead of choosing buffet or continental they do both while evening meal is a Peruvian/Italian tapas fusion.

It works and the DJ with his decks and his ambient music add to the vibe.

A watery grave: Olde London

Fat as a king, I need to work off the half a dozen meat, fish and pasta tasting dishes and rich Peruvian chocolate dessert which means a stroll around the city of Westminster.

It is a ten-minute walk from Seven Dials across Waterloo Bridge and along the South Bank.

I try to ignore the garish and overpriced Dungeon and Shrek tourist traps and opt instead two read William Wordsworth’s thoughts inscribed on the walkway.

What a Wordsworth!

The great Romantic poet loved London and waxed lyrical about the Thames gentled gliding by.

I despair then at what today’s town planners are doing to this great old city.

With their London Eyesore and Gherkin (and who builds something in the shape of the bit of the burger nobody wants?)

The West End: And that boy Potter

I avert my eyes and, of course, am drawn instead to the Mother of all Parliaments. I cross Westminster Bridge and think on Wordsworth’s Upon Westminster Bridge.

And I consider knocking on Downing Street to give Theresa May a piece of my mind.

But Big Ben’s chimes tell me it’s too late, baby, it’s too late. I have an urgent appointment with another wordsmith.

HOW TO GET THERE

Fly to Gatwick airport with Ryanair… http://www.ryanair.com

WHO TO GO WITH

We had two nights on a SuperBreak https://www.wowcher.co.uk/travel/hotels/uk-hotels/ package in 2016 and took in the Beautiful: The Carole King Story at the Aldwych Theatre in the West End of London.

Don’t despair though there are one or two other offerings still running!!!

Visit https://www.nederlander.co.uk/aldwych-theatre

Save, save, save

Save 30% on theatre tickets with a hotel and ticket package from SuperBreak. www.superbreak.com. Also visit www.radissonblu-edwardian.com/MercerStreet‎.

This article was first published in the Irish Daily Mail in November 2016.

And don’t you know I only got to see the next best thing to Carole, Jessie Mueller who sang three songs from the musical only centimetres from the American Travel Fair in Washington DC… https://jimmurtytraveltraveltravel.com/obama-washington-dc/

You’re beautiful too Jessie
Culture, Food, Food & Wine

Hungry and Thursday – cook around the world

A sallow 17-year-old, I was sent away with a recipe book, and not a clue how to cook – that’s an Irish Mammy for you!

Of course, I was never afraid to seek guidance, knocking on my flatmate’s door to ask how to make an omelette.

When he had his girlfriend around!

Well, you can’t make an omelette without cracking eggs.

I’m still checking out how the experts do it: when the Scary One allows me into her kitchen.

Here are my cookery demos from around the world:IMG_0964

It’s got arms and legs

Pulpo; The driver transporting me from Santiago de Compostella on my Camino would repeat two words on our 100km drive.

Albergo (hostel) and pulpo (octopus) .

Eating pulpo with Galician tomato sauce (not the stuff out of the bottle) sitting on a high stool with a vase of Rioja…

Bueno!

My friends at the Spanish Tourist Board in Dublin took us to Cookery School to show us how it’s done.

It looks like just boiling: something I could master.

Visit CaminoWays www.caminoways.com and read A pilgrim’s prayer

And obvs salty pulpo was the first dish I ordered in Tenerife with CanariaWays www.CanariaWays.com.

Where they taught us how to make mojo rojo, a fancy tomato sauce! A walk through the ages… Tenerife.

Ruby’s a gem:

Barbados Okra: Cooking in the Caribbean is a shared experience.

Which is why Ruby enlisted me as her assistant at Club Barbados http://www.thelubbarbados.com

To make Barbados Okra.

This is how to do it… heat the butter in a saucepan and sauté onion and garlic until soft and nicely smelly.

Add okra, salt and remaining water. Cook for ten to 15 minutes on low heat or until okra is cooked. 

 

Of course Ruby had something to say.

Also see www.visitbarbados.org and www.tropicalsky.ie.

And here’s my misadventures in Barbados Let’s rumba in Barbados and My kiss with Rihanna.

IMG_5955

Pasta masters

Pasta: Catherine Fulvio is Ireland’s pasta master.

And she’s now got me, of course, too whenever she needs some advice at her www.ballyknocken.ie.

Catherine and her kitchen were good enough to teach me how to make my own pasta and more.

When Top Flight, the Italian specialists, brought us along to showcase their new brochure www.topflight.ie.

Italy is a culinary dream and everyone returns with tales of their favourite restaurant and dish.

Mine’s is a risotto ai piselli in Padua… Frescoes

Cooking with Auntie

Curry favour: Or more accurately Uncle…

The uncle in this case being Uncle Kenneth at the Blue Crab restaurant in Scarborough, Tobago http://www.tobagobluecrab.comand http://www.visittobago.gov.tt

Uncle Kenneth let me help him cook the chicken curry… there’s a big Indian culinary influence on the island.

Auntie Alison was the real entertainer (hilarious) though telling the womenfolk how to keep their men interested.

Auntie Alison was the real entertainment (hilarious) though telling the womenfolk how to keep their men interested.

Here’s a peek, and some of my ramblings on the island made famous by Robinson Crusoe and, er, Ainsley Harriott… ainsley.

IMG_0372.jpg

How to boil an egg

Egg fried rice: The obvious one. But in the hands of a professional cook, and entertainer, it’s pure comedy.

And on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas they’ll do just that with their open kitchen.

What these guys can do with an egg… we’ll actually hatch a chicken in their chef’s hats.

While starting a singalong.

Visit www.royalcaribbean.com. And here’s a Royal party for you A Royal Party.

Food, Food & Wine

Hungry and Thursday – Ginuary

Veganuary, ve-gone.

You’ve already got your day, November 2, and I flagged it up back then…But as I watched a vegan on the TV rally other ice cubes (there’s a cracking meme which explains that definition) it got me thinking.

About how you go about claiming a month with a clever pun… well, there doesn’t appear to be any regulation!

About how you go about claiming a month with a clever pun… well, there doesn’t appear to be any regulation

They do champion it as an antidote to Dry January though which is all right by me.I’ve learned to like, not love, gin as I’ve aged

Probably because, like Heinz, there are 57 varieties.

My new pal Kirsten from my Tobago trip

I sampled half a dozen on a weekend break in Monaghan… Monaghan’s country roads

In the hands of a ‘ginoisseur’… nobody’s taking that one off me!

The Scary One also learned to appreciate G&Ts.

Mine-sweeping the sample board of drinks set up for me!

I also learned about the gin-making talents of the good folk of Fermanagh in the North of Ireland.

When they took the short jaunt down here to Dublin… www.fermanaghlakelands.com.

Here in Ireland it crosses social barriers but in England it’s a yuppie drink and a favourite of the plummy set.

But it actually has more humble origins.

You can learn more in the National Genever Museum in Schiedam, ten minutes from Rotterdam… https://www.jenevermuseum.nl.

The Museum boasts exhibitions, obvs.

But where it really gets good is when you get to the distillery Old Schiedam.

Which is distilled in 100% malt wine as it was 300 years ago.

 

With my old drinking buddy Muriel

Before you follow one of the gin and genever tours through the city centre with a visit to one of the producers.

Should you be there in June for the National Gin and Jenever Festival you’ll get to enjoy…

Tastings, workshops, tours and music too.

 

A mocktail for Mrs M, honestly

The Scary One will be there, feigning lack of interest.

All major airlines fly to the Netherlands.

But the Dutch national airline carrier KLM www.klm.com always looks after me.

When I visit.

It won’t go down well in Rotterdam but the last time was Amsterdam… Pictures of Amsterdam and George Clooney and Amal’s Amsterdam hotel.

But before that was Rotterdam when I treated the-then Miss F on our first foreign holiday.

To watch the Netherlands v Greece football match.

 

Now she needed a gin or two after that!

For more information on the Netherlands, visit www.visitholland.com.

And for Amsterdam it’s www.iamsterdam.com and Rotterdam https://en.rotterdam.info.

MEET YOU IN THE BAR