Well. It's been quite a while since I was here. I wish I could say that I've been busy putting my life in order, writing a screenplay, learning French, travelling the world... You know, I'd *love* to be able to say that. Unfortunately, it would be a big fat lie. I'm still in Dublin, still dragging the divil by the tail.
Today, however, I managed to take advantage of one of the perks of my job: I'd been invited to a book launch of Catherine Fulvio's latest book at Ballyknocken House in Co. Wicklow.
Catherine Fulvio is a very beautiful celebrity chef who seems to have stolen my dream life: she is a gifted food writer who has gone from founding and operating a cookery school at her family farmhouse to a fast accelerating career as a domestic goddess. I mean, that could be me, right? Right??
In any case, Ballyknocken House was a hive of activity today: archery, clay pigeon shooting, tours of the guesthouse, classes in the cookery school's show kitchen... Oh, and lunch in the big barn. I'm a bit of a tart for lamb curry, so the rogan josh with coconut raita went down particularly well. Not that it stopped me scarfing down 2 hotdogs also - or the 2 orange and almond polenta squares or (truly divine, this) a slice of parsnip and hazelnut tealoaf.
Having inspected the recipe for rogan josh, I've decided that I'm going to try making it myself. The list of ingredients for the curry paste is, as you might expect, quite long - but it's an excuse to raid the collection I've amassed over the years. The tealoaf will definitely get a run-out too - if only to give me the satisfaction of seeing the look on people's faces when they find out what the special ingredient is...
And, yes, before you ask, The Weekend Chef is a gorgeous read. At the launch, Ms Fulvio explained that she wrote the book because she'd noticed how many people regard cooking as a leisure activity, something they can devote themselves to at the weekend, as they create something delicious for loved ones.
It was a nice reminder that food isn't just fuel, and that cooking isn't just about throwing ingredients into a pot. She sees it as a way of getting the family together, and bringing friends together.
But I'd also argue that in a world where the production of almost everything we consume personally has been outsourced to industry (clothing, food production), the final preparation of food is something we still have the power to reclaim. And isn't there something comforting in that?