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…


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 and read A pilgrim’s prayer

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

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

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 and

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


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

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

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

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.


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 And here’s a Royal party for you A Royal Party.


Give us this day – holy water fonts

You get a name for yourself… just by going to Mass.

And before you know it people are referring to you by that awful definition ‘religious’.

Then you’ve been approached to be a reader at your church.

And to give out the host.

It all culminates in being bought a holy water fount for Christmas.

Oh, well, She had waited 25 years to get her own back.

After I’d bought her a non-stick frying pan, bacon, sausages, eggs and black pudding for our first Christmas.

This holy water fount is from Lough Derg, St Patrick’s sanctuary.

In my Dear Old Mum’s homestead of Co. Donegal in Ireland….

So what of the history of the bénitier?

Well, it’s a fancier and Frenchier way to describe a holy water font.

So you’ll not be surprised to know that it’s… found all over Gaul-land in very ostentatious style.

It is often adorned with, say, Our Lady.

In olden days too rosary beads were often draped around the fonts.

Although in Marian sites Fatima and, Lourdes you would do well to prise them out of the hands of the pilgrims.

You see I have seen it too first hand.

Stoups, of course, are most likely to be found in churches.

But did you know that they can sometimes be found above the bed? Passion killer, n’est ce pas?

I make a habit of seeking out places of worship wherever I go.

They have the best art in Rome http://www.rome.netand sometimes also the best craic… Give us this Day – Sunday School, Tobago

But while I like to pray I love to play.

And no saint me. I have been known to fill bottles.

Vatican rules

With holy water from St Paul’s Basilica at the end of my Via Francigena pilgrimage…

And in St James’s Cathedral in Santiago de Compostella and after walking 100km from Sarria on the Camino.

Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I’ve also taken holy water from.

Water, water everywhere

A font by the River Jordan… and

A Greek Orthodox church on Mt Hybanthus… and Give us this Day – The Iconic Greek Orthodox

The Frauenkirche in Dresden and Dresden’s renaissance under the eye of Martin Luther.

The cathedral in La Laguna in Tenerife… and A walk through the ages… Tenerife

And these are just the sample charges.

I’d better get some prayers in then… maybe Our Lady will intercede on my behalf!


Holiday Snaps – Feliz Navidad

Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad!

And that’s all you need for a grande old Spanish Christmas party.

The Christmas party season is upon us and I toasted it with fine Spanish white and red vino in Dublin.

I was, of course, one of nearly two million visitors from Ireland to Spain this year.

When I walked hill, glen, park, volcano and church tower in Tenerife with http://www.CanariaWays.com

And I fully intend to be one of the two million going back out next year.

Thankfully our travel providers are all over Spain too so we bring you these offers out there.

I did, of course, also visit Barcelona

But I’m not getting into that one here and say that I love Catalonia and Spain.

Click & Go has a three-night Barcelona City Break for two adults with flights from Dublin from €231pp on February 4.

You’ll be staying at the Catalonia Born hotel which is within easy reach of the Arco del Triunfo and the Picasso Museum.

If you like your art then your in the right country.

And you’ll be with the right company with Insight Vacations’ Highlights of Spain nine-dayer on March 14 which is down from €1795pps to €1580pps.

Our friends at Insight have picked out as their particular highlight the world’s finest collection of Spanish paintings.

Plus an impressive foreign collection at the Prado Museum.

And you’ll also be wowed by Granada and the Alhambra Palace while you’ll also get Barcelona again.

Peniscola is best known from El Cid (ask your parents) while Valencia’s huge gates to the old town are the perfect welcome.

Aer we go

Seville’s showstopper is the Tomb of Columbus, held aloft by four kings and Cordoba with its 2,000-year-old bridge.

And keep your eyes on our airlines for the best deals and organise your own holiday.

I’m picking out Aer Lingus and their Santiago de Compostela offer of from €39.99 from Dublin.

The Camino into Santiago will be one of the journeys of your life.

And here’s how it went for me with and

While they fly from Cork to Gran Canaria from €69,99 and to Lanzarote from €69.99 and from Shannon to Lanzarote from €69.99.


Moanday Morning – supermarkets

Or Supermarches as they like to call them in France, though, in truth, it’s not really the French grocery stores that I’m targeting today.

In general they’re pretty well marked and their booze is of course far more competitively priced.

Which is why there are so many booze cruises from England to Normandy to fill up cars with drink.

No, it’s the supermarkets here where I live in Ireland that have my head doing a Klunk (from Stop the Pigeon).

Photo by Ash Valiente on

They’re probably not much different in Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland… all of which I’ve worked in.

It’s just that now I’ve taken time out from being a wage slave I’ve started to notice how confusing supermarkets can be.

And so I bring you my native Tesco.

Where I reckon I waste about half a day every week trying to find such awkward items as milk, bread, eggs and baked beans.

Photo by edwin josé vega ramos on

There are others too – I’m not on a Student’s Diet! Any more.

My dander was up when I went looking for milk and traversed aisle after aisle before realising it was in the Yogurt & Milk aisle.

Now since when did M come after Y in the alphabet or in importance. No wonder I got blindsided.

Perhaps if they spent less time putting Irish translations on stuff. Which they did on a train I was on recently without the English version.

Photo by Jeremias Oliveira on

I mean how many people even speak it as a first language here, and you’ll not meet anyone here who won’t moan about having to learn it in school.

Maybe try and get the baked beans then, I thought.

Who thinks up these things but by sheer accident I found them in the home baking section…

So, what are they saying. Do they expect me to make my own?

And then there is the traffic. Why can’t people take care of their kids and put them in the front of the shopping trolleys.

Photo by Nirmal Rajendharkumar on

I don’t care if they are teenagers… I’ll shoehorn them in.

And once you actually get to the till then there’s always someone ignoring the five items or less sign.

Supermarkets, of course, want us to do it ourselves.

Which is the modern way of it.

And they point us in the directions of scanners…

Again I refer you to an earlier Moanday Morning…

Photo by Sunbae Legacy on

So where does this leave us in how they do it elsewhere.

Well, nobody serves you better than the Americans and for all you need to know about the Oo Es of A then

I’m in the fortunate position of usually having a host when I’m abroad, or the hostess with the mostest, the one I report to.

But when I have had to make my own way with and

On these journeys… and I have found it easy peasy.

While I’m a big fan of German shopping (maybe it’s the sausages, maybe it’s the big Berthas on the counter)….,



Give us this day… it’s St Anthony’s teeth

There are more than a few old relics in my church (and yours)!

Steady! I mean holy relics.

Our own church has a new old altar which has come to us via the local monastery.

Please don’t tell my parish priest that I lost concentration when he was telling us the history but it’s very old, and holy.

Is that a confessional box?

Holy relics are the currency of the Catholic Church.

Symbolically and literally.

The various body parts of Our Lord and the Saints were sold on pilgrimages in the Middle Ages to pay for fancy churches.

It’s all about the pilgrimage, to Canterbury say or to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain to atone for sins.

On the road to St James: On the Camino

Santiago is of course where the bones of St James the Greater (I always felt sorry for the Lesser as the son of a James) are kept.

And you could buy these relics of the saints or Our Lord along the way thus feeding the greater Church.

That also fired outrage among protestants who found common cause and went onto found their own church.

All of which brings me to St Anthony’s gnashers.

The legend goes that St Anthony’s gift of oratory was such that when he was exhumed his tongue was still moist.

And on the Via Francigena

And so in his native city of Padova (or Padua in English) pilgrims can venerate his tongue and a couple of teeth.

Which are kept in a reliquary.

Skin and teeth

You’ll find pieces of the Lord and the Saints all over the world so much so that you’d almost suspect some artistic licence.

That maybe they were multi-multi-limbed and had a set of teeth akin to a shark.

But maybe I’m splitting hairs – and they were for sale too.

So you want to read more… there is a review of Padova and how Giotto inspired Michelangelo on this site

And in Rome where all my sins were forgiven

Some more holy relics in Brugges

And why the Camino is one of the most inspiring things you’ll ever do

For the Via Francigena into Rome check out

Here’s an important website for Padova… context/423.

While for Caminos visit



Vegging out in Tenerife

There are some strange bedfellows, that’s for sure, some foods that should never be seen on the same plate.

I mean courgettes and pretty much anything, or really anything that allows courgettes air time.

You can also mention brocolli, aubergines, leaks, lentils and most pulses in the same breath.

I’ve had a skinful

So the good folk of Tenerife should think again about banana and courgette croquettes.

Particularly as your spotted bananas do fine just as they are.

In fact Tenerife is Europe’s biggest exporter of nanas and the spottier the skins the tastier.

But back to broccoli… and inevitably George Herbert Walker Bush.

When Bush Snr became President of America he was asked now that he was the Leader of the Free World what would he ban.

I’m crook

To which he replied: ‘Brocolli, ny mom used to force us to eat it when we were kids.’

The broccoli growers were soon up in arms and marching on Washington.

George, you’d have had my vote.

And CanariaWays, a branch of CaminoWays who have been hosting me these past few days.

With Aer Lingus which flies seven times a week from Dublin to Tenerife and twice a week from Cork

Cats and Canaries

I’ve been reminding you about my adventures on Caminos A pilgrim’s prayer and FrancigenaWays’ and my walk into Rome Small roads lead to Rome.

And brining you curios of Tenerife life Tenerife and Scotland wave the same flag.

Caught in a time warp

I’ve been up mountains, through rain forests via black lava ash beaches.

And lived to tell the tale, and all with the help of my wonderful guide Eva.

All to meet the owner of a bar who is caught in a time warp with calendars and posters all around his bar of General Franco.

But the beer was €1!

I’ll share the tale… not the beer.


Tenerife and Scotland wave the same flag

O Flower of Tenerife

When will we see…

No, I haven’t been on the vino, only I have.

Or been out in the Midday sun. Guilty too.

But I could be home, if it weren’t for the 30C temperature, the humdreds of volcanoes, 11 microclimates and rainforest… Need I go on.

Flagging it up: The St Andrew’s Cross masthead

It’s just that that’s a Scottish flag waving proudly.

And it’s not a Scottish exiles pub.

It’s there in the masthead of a local newspaper too.

Now there is a prosaic answer to why we share flags.

One theory goes that it’s because Admiral Lord Nelson lost a battle here and the flag was confiscated.

And the Tinerfenos confiscated it as spoils of war and adopted it as their national flag.

The flag, that is.

Convincing as that sounds, and the Scottish flag alas has flown over more defeats than victories. the romantic in me favours another story,

Here’s where to get the wine

That St Andrew (or Andres) our shared patron saint visited the island (maybe they did package tours then from the Holy Land).

Just in time for the new wine.

Just to be sociable he imbibed.

When he was grabbing a siesta (our Andrew was a quick learner) the local bambinos tied pots and pans to him.

So when he awoke his language was not so much of the saintly kind.

No, this guy is in Scotland

You want to know more about Andy’s links to Scotland.

Well, the best place to go is a dovecot in Athelstaneford 32kms east of Edinburgh and the National Flag Heritage Centre.

St Andrew’s visits

Where the story of King Oengus II is played out.

The King of the Picts had a visit from Andrew, maybe after Oengus had too much wine too, on the eve of battle with the Angles.

Andrew had not come empty-handed either, he was promising a famous victory.

And her too

The next day Oengus and his army saw white clouds forming a diagonal cross across a blue sky.

A Scottish tale

Handy, as Andy had died on a disgonal cross.

And so the legend of the flag was born and St Andrew was adopted as patron saint of Scotland.

Athelstaneford is well worth a visit… and my bonnie wee country too

But this is more like it… Tenerife.

While our sister island Tenerife is too.

We’re kinsmen

I’m here in Tenerife this week roadtesting the new frontier the Canaries With flights from Dublin with seven times a week and twice a week from Cork.

Fares start from €69.99.

And I’ll uncover, and share more, as I go. For more visit and

And to get into the spirit if walking in Spain and what CaminoWays does here’s my Camino to Santiago A pilgrim’s prayer.


Holiday Snaps – Is it Pee for Prague?

It is one of the world’s great statues and on a similar theme to the better known Manneken Pis in Brussels – the Prague statue ‘Piss’.

You’ll no doubt go to the Astronomical Clock when you’re there and it is worth it, although hellishly busy.

But you should have a ‘Piss’ stop at the statue outside the Kafka Museum near the river.

David Cerny erected (sorry, I should probably say built here) ‘Piss’ as a satirical statement against politicians in 2004.

The fountain’s basin is made of bronze and shaped like the Czech Republic.

The two mechanical men stand in the fountain, opposite one another, 6 ft 11 in tall with bronze penises, urinating.

Every country should have its own Piss statue and demand that politicians visit.

And why am I telling you this? Because Click&Go has three nights in Prague in November from €189pp

And also because I can reprise my Prague article…

Corfu love island

Refelections of Corfu. Photo by Alexander Mils on

I was spoken for, but that didn’t stop the keyboard singer at the bar who was glancing our way on our honeymoon in Corfu.

The besotted newly titled Mrs M drew my attention to the singer’s attentions.

With the ouzo filling my bladder I then had cause to pass the crooner by on the way to the rest room .

Where I noticed they were still smiling at me on my way back.

At which point I needed to inform my new wife: ‘Sorry, he’s not looking at you, it’s me he likes!’

Again, I’m only telling you this as a lead-in to an offer. TUI has seven nights S/C at the 2* Ekati 2, Kavos from €399pps, departing Dublin on September 13.

Which corresponds with our 25th wedding anniversary.

I love Malta

Bay of plenty: Valletta. Photo by ines bahr on

You’d think that there was an imaginary hand of fate at play… or that the Scary One has been phoning around my Travel buddies.

Malta was where on a hot, hot day, I bent down in exhaustion and she screamed YES.

We were particularly taken by Malta’s smaller sister island of Gozo.

Now I’m going to fly a kite here and suggest that the Scary One would like to return. And fly a kite…

The second edition of the Gozo International Kite and Wind Festival will take place there form October 18-20.

Concorde Travel has seven nights B&B at the 4* Seashells Resort, Qawra for €599, depart Dublin on October 14.

Or you can depart Cork on October 17 and stay at the 4* all-inclusive Seabank Resort & Spa, Mellieha for €769.

And they’re off

The Prancing Horse. Photo by Zachary DeBottis on

It was from my Dear Old Dad that I inherited the love of sport. That said neither of us got motor racing.

Apart from commonly repeated allusion I never heard him show any interest in the sport, and I use that term loosely.

The one reference point he had was in his common jibe at my Mum’s driving: ‘Stirling Moss,’ he would shriek and laugh uproariously.

He always enjoyed his own jokes, though my sainted Mum never did see the funny side.

As Formula 1 returns after its midseason break and Lewis Hamilton has a procession to his 72nd title it’s as well to flag up a motor racing holiday thrill.

Cassidy Travel (01) 6265100 has a three-night break to PortAventura World Salou. And of course Ferrari Land.

From €245pps based on a family of four you will be staying on site in the 4* PortAentura World Salou on a B&B basis.

With entry to the theme park for the duration plus one day in Ferrari Land.

Flights from Dublin to Barcelona, part October 20.

I’ll drink Canarian dry

I’m coming up behind you!

God being good, I’ll be off to trek the Canaries tomorrow. But I’ll leave you in safe hands with Mrs M.

The team is launching the latest arrival to its family of active holidays and I’m road testing it and Tenerife’s bars. is focusing on the spectacular walking tours in the Canary Islands.

And to kick it al off they’ve got 10% off all bookings until the end of September using the CODE: CANARIAWAYS19.

And all bookings will go into a draw and two travellers will have a chance to get their holiday for free.

So let me tell you about their ten-day Walking Trip: Grand Walking Tour of Tenerife.

You’ll see the whole island, from Mount Teide National Park to Garachico and Anaga Rural Park.

The price is €1017pps, including nine nights’ accommodation with breakfast, luggage transfers and transfers to trail heads when needed.

As well as holiday pack with practical information. More details: Tenerife Grand Tour.


Moanday morning – it’s cats v dogs

You’re either a cat person (and my kind of human being) or a dog person (and probably not).

No doubt if I google it I’ll be able to find out what a cat person is and what constitutes a dog person.

Equally there’s bound to be some kerching mug, plate or tea towel saying why dogs are better than men and also cats. In fact I know there are.

Now don’t get me wrong I love dogs (most of them) but it’s just their owners.

Have you no respect?

Let me kick off with their extendable leads.

What was wrong with the small leads? They didn’t stretch far enough I hear dog owners scream.

But then what are you meant to do when you’re walking along the pavement?

Minding your own business, and you get your way blocked by Fido or Rover?

You’re forced into the road where you step on Fido’s do-dos.

Puss in books

OK, there’s less of that now, but the sight of dog owners earnestly and smugly gathering their pet’s poo in an outpoured plastic bag (and don’t get me going on plastic bags).

Or using that pooper scooper.

Cat’s litter

I mean why can’t they do like cats and do it in a tray or in someone else’s flower bed (I know I do, the last bit anyway, or at least I used to as a student).

And then you can’t get past two dog owners who meet in the middle of the pavement and start pawing each other’s pets.

And again you never get that with cats.

Spot the human: In South Africa

I was reminded of cats’ superior place in God’s choir by an old pal and fellow felinophile.

He was responding to my recent review on Istanbul by lauding the Turks, not least for their love of cats.

Bazaar cats

And yes, I was taken by the cats sprawling over the book stalls in the Grand Bazaar…

Something you definitely wouldn’t want a mangy old dog doing.

Join me in celebrating our furry friends and Turkey And here’s where to find out more about Turkey

That engine is purring. On the Via Francigena

In fact I’d say that in my travels my best animal experiences have been with cats.

There were the cats that joined me on the Camino and the Via Francigena and

Doggone it!

Although I will give the dog who photobombed my pic of a Camino cross by piddling on it an A+.

Although I doubt it would have helped him getting to doggie heaven.

And my fur is growing… on the Camino

And, of course, I’ll always purr at the memory of our beloved First Born, our cheeky, too brave for his own good tabby Celtic.

He incurred the wrath of a particularly menacing crow – I think he was eyeing up her baby bird.

My cuddles

But the most majestic of all animals are the big cats and I will treasure getting this close to these pussycats on safari in the East Cape in South Africa.



Hungry and Thursday – Spanish pulpo

Now this one’s got legs and will run and run… it’s Spanish pulpo, or octopus!

Walking the last leg of the Camino with involves you getting a car ride from Santiago airport to Sarria 100kms away.

My driver speaking little to no English and me poco Espagnol it was a long journey.

Ole: Spanish cooking at the Cook’s School

Broken up only by looking out onto lush Galicia and the roads I imagined I would be trekking.

In truth they were more forested and open plained and even more beautiful.

And the couple of Spanish words I did pick up from the driver.

Albergo and pulpo.

Horsing around: On the Camino

Albergo I figured out was ‘hostel’ from the driver pointing at them on the journey.

But ‘pulpo’ I had to figure out for myself.

Pulpo is octopus and is a specialty of the Spanish region.

Made it: Santiago

I still lick my lips at the memory of sitting up on a tall stool in Santiago de Compostela at a round bar table.

Picking my way at the pulpo and its tomato sauce… no Heinz or YR this.

Pulpo was my reward for completing the 118km stretch from Sarria to Santiago which entitles you to your certificate.

You get a stamp in your Camino passport at every 15km or so stop-off.

Where you will stay in a hotel and have your luggage taken to the next accommodation.

Even the animals are friendly

I walked on pure adrenaline, fuelled on sardines and cerveza (beer), water, home-made sandwiches from the supermarket, Starburst sweets and Garribaldi biscuits.

Show me how pulpo is done

And the good will of my fellow peregrinos who will greet you at every step with a hale and hearty Buen Camino which gave me an extra spurt.

I got a chance to see how pulpo is made when I attended a Spanish Tourist Board sponsored cookery class at Cooks Academy in Dublin

Best leaving it to them. And they’ll talk you through how to make it.

If nothing else you’ll look the part in your natty apron and you can even borrow the chef’s hat.

I walked again with from Viterbo into Rome and will take to the Tenerife roads in a couple of weeks.

It was the only seat left

Camino Ways is offering €50 off per person for your next walking trip in October, a quieter and cooler time to walk.

Quote the code OCT19 when requesting your itinerary at and

And walk with me on and

Remember because it’s cocktail hour somewhere in the world right now…

And today is Jocktails day with us looking at the Bajan Monkey… and why not. See