Mar 18, 2014

Watch this Space: The Strypes

Snapshot from the Strypes
Have you heard of the Strypes yet? Well, in short, they're putting Co. Cavan on the map. A little longer, they're four ridiculously young and talented lads—guitarist/vocalist Josh McClorey, Bassist/harmonica-player Pete O’Hanlon, drummer Evan Walsh, and lead vocalist /frontman Ross Farrelly—from Cavan with a hard-driving sound that suggests the Beatles/the Ramones/the White Stripes. They write their own songs (as well as playing covers, very well btw), play their own instruments (with confidence, swagger, and actual talent), and have been earning a following the good old fashioned way—by playing the road and rocking hard.  They're gathering all sorts of buzz on this side of the Atlantic and I can't wait to see what they do with it.

I love that the last thing you notice about these boys is their looks. So refreshing.

The Strypes at SXSW earlier this week

Let the fanaticism begin:
The Strypes debut album, Snapshot, was released TODAY in the States and you can find it/support these small town boys/say you knew them when by buying it on Amazon, iTunes, or their website.
Catch them on tour now if you can.
Follow them on FB and Twitter
When you are caught up with the new album, be sure to check out even newer just-released EP, 4-Track Mind on Spotify.

Mar 17, 2014

An Online Parade of Irishness for Paddy's Day

I'm not marching today so I'm making my way around the interwebs, Cupán tae in hand, bookmarking articles, roundups, and lists, and reveling in the virtual parade of Irishness that counters some of the less desirable antics somehow associated with our national holiday. I love that every news outlet and blog is looking for an Irish angle today and that's a win-win for Irish makers and shakers. Here are a few reads I've managed in between pots of tea/seconds, thirds, and fourths of apple cake so far today:

A hAon / 1. The 'Food Ambassador of Ireland' Darina Allen shares four recipes and talks St. Patrick's Day and Irish food over at the Splendid Table. Would love to be sitting at her table tonight for her typical meal of "bacon, cabbage and parsley sauce with champ ... followed by a tart or pie made from the first little spears of the new season’s rhubarb." Champ and rhubarb. I die.

A Dó / 2.
BBC Travel explores the real St. Patrick and suggests sites across Ireland, from the Hill of Tara to Croagh Patrick, where you can connect with Ireland's Patron Saint or follow in his footsteps. Tip to extend your St. Patrick's Day celebrations: Every year on Holy Saturday (the Saturday before Easter), the local parish priest lights a fire on the Hill of Slane in Patrick's honor.

ATrí / 3.

The New York Times shares a rendering of the proposed new home of New York City's Irish Arts Center. The new $54 million home will be on 11th Avenue between 51st and 52nd Streets, around the corner from the center's current cramped quarters. The groundbreaking is due March 2015 with an opening by the end of 2016. "The new building will increase the center’s space sevenfold — to 35,000 square feet from 5,000; its theater will grow to 199 seats from 99; and the operating budget will double to $4 million." So excited to watch the Irish Arts Center move on up to the kind of digs it deserves.

A Ceathair / 4.
For all the Irish food, fashion, and finance roundups I came across on the web this morning, there was very little real discussion about what it means to be Irish, or Irish-American. And then I popped by Salon and read Andrew O' Hehir's "How Did My Fellow Irish-Americans Get So Disgusting?" "On one hand, Irishness is a nonspecific global brand of pseudo-old pubs, watered-down Guinness, “Celtic” tattoos and vague New Age spirituality, designed to make white people feel faintly cool without doing any of the hard work of actually learning anything. On the other, it’s Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Pat Buchanan and Rep. Peter King, Long Island’s longtime Republican congressman (and IRA supporter), consistently representing the most stereotypical grade of racist, xenophobic, small-minded, right-wing Irish-American intolerance. When you think of the face of white rage in America, it belongs to a red-faced Irish dude on Fox News.
And then I read the almost-400 hater comments and was reminded why no-one wants to provoke thought or discussion on the Internet.

A Cúig / 5.

Loved reading on the Prowlster that Welsh-born Dublin-based Annie Atkins was head graphic designer for Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel. How cool is that? Annie Rhiannon used to write A Pinch of Salt blog that I used to read/eat up forever ago, and even though she stopped contributing to it in 2011—pause here to realize how old we all are—it is still worth a read for its wit and humanity and heart. Anyway, I lost touch with what was going on in Annie's life and I am so excited to see that she is off kicking arses and making the world a better looking place. Will pay more attention now when I go see this movie ...

A Sé / 6.

Google's doodle for the day that's in it.

Mar 14, 2014

Wish I Was Here: Firehouse Bakery and Bread School

I'm heading home for a good friend's wedding at the end of August. I haven't taken care of any of the big details yet like booking flights, paying for flights, and losing fifteen pounds, but I am ahead of myself with a steadily growing mental list of things I want to do/ways I want to gain back fifteen pounds while I'm home. Along with the usual "visit Nana early so the scones are still hot," "eat garlic chips and cheese," and "stock up on knickers from Penney's and Dunnes," I am adding a few more ambitious to-dos to this trip. One hopeful is a visit to a "Bread and Breakfast" (as I like to call it) on a little island off the coast of West Cork ...

Located on picturesque Heir Island (also known as Inishodriscol), in Roaringwater Bay in West Cork, the Firehouse Bakery and Bread School offers small class sizes, local ingredients, a wood-burning clay oven, and instruction from teacher/author/master baker Patrick Ryan. It also offers the chance to learn a skill for life.

I've always been intimidated by bread. Sadly (or happily?), this intimidation does not affect the eating of bread, just the baking of it. I have never made a bread that required any yeast or kneading, so in truth, I have never made bread. No point boasting I've sky-dived or hiked Mayan ruins when I have a cinnamon-bun-shaped, gaping hole in my life's education. No more filling that void with other people's bread!

A day's course includes return ferry to Heir Island, full day hands-on baking experience, baking your own bread in a wood fired clay oven, lunch with wine (with Roaringwater Bay serving as the back drop), and—wait for it—a fresh-baked goodie bag of bread to take home with you! You can also prolong this delicious experience by staying overnight on Heir Island at Roaringwater Lodge (right next door) or at another of the island's accommodations. You can even take a sailing class in the bay. I would just walk the island and eat bread and then walk some more and eat some more bread. I can't imagine a better holiday ... or, come to think of it, a better way for a visitor to Ireland to get an authentic taste of Ireland.

Classes are limited to 6 participants to ensure an intimate learning environment. This is great if you are lucky enough to book a class before 6 other people beat you to it. Not so lucky if, like me, you are not on the ball. Looks like classes are booked out until October right now but you can email the school to be added to their waitlist (that's what I did, as well as crossing all fingers and toes.)

In the meantime, you can start your own schooling with Chef Ryan's book, Bread Revolution: Rise Up and Bake!. Also, be sure to check out Ryan's collection of short videos with Lisa Faulkner on the BBC's food website How to Cook videos.

Mar 11, 2014

50 Shades of Green

There's a lot of token green stuff on the interwebs this week but rather than round up the usual green Irish suspects, I thought I'd just randomly share some green non-Irish stuff I've been lusting after. Just because green happens to be my favorite color. Okay, if you strapped me to a chair, I'd have to admit that technically, it's a tie between green (every shade) and aqua/aquamarine blues which have a little green in them. I just want to be clear here in case I get hit by a bus tomorrow and someone thinks to bury me in Royal Blue which I would not love at all. I don't look good in reds, either. Bury me in aqua, please. 
Anyway (says she with an annoyed you-digress tone), back to green ... I have a Pinterest board named 50 Shades of Green (I digress: I think this would make a great name for a sexy Irish animated series -- animated because no one really wants to see Irish people knocking wellies) where I occasionally add green things I love. Rather than confine my current green obsessions to an unfrequented board (I digress: my most repinned pin on Pinterest—try saying that five times fast—is one of Anne Hathaway with bangs), I'm sharing some green here. I really hope you like green things after making your way through that mazelike paragraph.

Tip: do not let the word "Shamrock" fool you into thinking you should rock all this green at once.

Final sidenote: I may start posting non-Irish stuff here more regularly. Just to digress from regular programming. And because my original focus for this blog has broadened. And I like to shop virtually.