A Lick of the Blarney

With St. Paddy’s Day right around the corner, the San Francisco Chronicle ditches the usual corned beef and cabbage for a food-section front pager by Georgeanne Brennan that draws interesting parallels between the “new Irish” cooking and the local-and-seasonal obsessions of Bay Area chefs. Writes Brennan about a recipe for steak-and-oyster pot pie from Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery School, “With local oysters and pastured beef so readily available, this could equally be a Bay Area classic.”

Over at The New York Times, (requires registration), Melissa “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Skinny” Clark is shocked—shocked!—to find out that trad Irish soda bread is nothing like the sugary, butter- and egg-rich loaf that she’s been collecting compliments on all these years. Nope, as cracking any Irish home-cooking volume would have revealed, the soda-bread standard is just flour (often wholemeal), baking soda, salt, and buttermilk, traditionally baked in a Dutch oven over the coals of a peat fire. The lack of fat means it doesn’t keep well, so it’s usually made fresh and eaten while still hot for tea.

Interestingly, Clark gives only her own sconelike recipe, slagging the real deal as “hard, dry, and bland” after it’s cooled off. She’s giving the people what they want, since her sweet and tender version, studded with raisins and flavored with caraway, is still what most Americans think of as Irish soda bread. Except for this guy and his 30,000 visitors …

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