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Irish whiskey tells the country’s tale

Judging by the job posting at Teeling's Whiskey, the first new Dublin distillery in 125 years is finally getting ready to open its visitors center. The job? They're looking for fluent English speakers with at least one other language to give tours. The center, located on Newmarket Square in the Liberties section of Dublin (that's Dublin 8 for those who understand the city's postal codes), will be open daily 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Exactly when it first opens for business is still unannounced. Meantime, Dublin hardly lacks for whiskey attractions, some of which we outlined today in a story in the Boston Globe travel section, "Even its whiskey tells an Irish tale". The story includes the new Irish Whiskey Museum (inaugurated in January) at...Read More

Dublin gastropub’s inspired sweet potato soup

Pubs have always had some kind of grub to sop up the suds, but pubs all over Ireland began to take the quality of their kitchens seriously about 10 years ago. The turn toward better food was a matter of survival. Pubs lost a slew of customers after March 29, 2004, when Ireland became the first country in the world to ban smoking in the workplace — including restaurants, bars, and pubs. Once a few pubs introduced quality food with strong Irish roots, it became clear that the gastropub concept was the way to win new customers. Two years ago, the Restaurant Association of Ireland began giving out awards for best gastropubs, and in the two competitions since then, one of the top contenders in...Read More

Traditional Norteño barbacoa at Casa Hernán

As we suggested in the La Gloria post that started this San Antonio series back in June, chef Johnny Hernandez has been helping San Antonio reclaim the Mexican side of its culinary heritage. Easy-going venues like La Gloria and The Frutería focus on the simplest of Mexican food — street food, really — but at his special events venue Casa Hernán, Johnny gets into some of the more complex traditions. [caption id="attachment_2542" align="alignleft" width="350"] Brunch at Casa Hernán[/caption] Hernandez does a grand Sunday brunch about once a month at Casa Hernán, sometimes featuring barbacoa in the South Texas/northern Mexican tradition. In some parts of interior Mexico, cooks will roast an entire animal in a pit, usually a lamb. In northern Mexico, barbacoa usually signifies a...Read More

What a great thing to do with an egg!

We've been lucky enough to visit Sevilla's Taberna del Alabardero every few years over the last few decades, but it's possible that our most recent meal was the best yet—even though it was off the modest bistrot menu instead of from the haute cuisine fine-dining menu. Now with sites in Madrid and in Washington, D.C., Taberna del Alabardero began as a social-work program launched by a priest to teach marketable skills to boys from the streets. It's evolved into one of the top hospitality schools in Spain. The original location in Sevilla near the bullring is the laboratory where all that hospitality training is put into practice. The townhouse mansion has fine dining rooms upstairs with a menu that would have made Escoffier smile. (The...Read More

Pimento Cheese for holiday South in your mouth

Chef Matthew Bell hails from Montana, but after about a decade in the South, he felt confident to head the kitchen at South on Main restaurant in Little Rock, Arkansas. It's a collaboration with the Oxford American, the magazine that chronicles the literary and cultural life of the South and is often called the ''New Yorker of the South.'' ''We are taking our cue from the magazine and keying in on the cuisine from all regions,'' Bell told a gathering of writers who previewed the restaurant and performance place while it was still under construction. ''Arkansas cuisine is a microcosm of the whole South with influence from the Ozarks and the Smokies,'' he said. ''We have a long growing season and close access to the...Read More

An Istanbul take on mideastern muhamarra

One pleasure of dining in Istanbul was getting reacquainted with muhamarra, the walnut and pomegranate spread found all around the Middle and Near East. We buy it at home from Samira's Homemade in Belmont, where Lebanon-born Samira Hamdoun fashions all sort of tasty spreads. But we found it on every mezze tray in Istanbul, and decided we had to learn to make it for ourselves. Fortunately, our friend Elif Aydar of the Marti hotel group gave us her own recipe. It was a bit of a challenge to adapt, since we can't pop into the grocery store for red pepper paste or sour pomegranate condiment. Moreover, colloquial kitchen measurements differ between Turkey and the U.S. and the breads have different textures. But with a little...Read More

Recapturing a great flavor of New Hampshire

Our latest book, Food Lovers' Guide to Vermont & New Hampshire (Globe Pequot Press), just arrived two days ago and it brought back fond memories of the research. One of our favorite meals was at the Bedford Village Inn, when Benjamin Knack, fresh from a season on Hell's Kitchen, had just take over the dining program for this romantic destination property. It so happens that Ben makes a killer gnocchi, which he claimed was so simple that even his then 4-year-old daughter could do it. There are a couple of secrets to getting just the right texture. The potatoes should be cooked so they “squeak like Styrofoam when you squeeze them,” he says. And they should be pushed quickly through the sieve so the potato...Read More

You can’t beat this spread for the Derby

I'm guessing that there's a run on cream cheese in Louisville, Kentucky, grocery stores in the early May days leading up to the running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs (this year May 4-5). The staple of cheesecakes around the country is also the basis for the uniquely Kentucky cucumber spread called Benedictine. No self-respecting Louisville host or hostess would be caught dead without Benedictine as part of his or her Derby Day spread. Kentucky being the land of bourbon, it's not surprising that the spread has nothing to do with the 502-year-old French liqueur of the same name. Instead, it's named for its creator, Jennie Benedictine, who began a catering business in the late 19th century. By all counts she was a very...Read More

Buried in tomatoes? It’s time for tomato jam on burgers

When we were working earlier this summer on a New England burger roundup for the Boston Globe (see Sample articles), we had no idea that we would discover a partial solution to the late-August glut of tomatoes. When we dug into the basic hamburger served at Christie's in Newport--the casual restaurant of the luxurious Hotel and Marina Forty 1º North--we just knew that chef Kim Lambrechts' tomato jam was the perfect complement to the rich beef burger. With a little cajoling, we found out how it's made. TOMATO JAM Chef Kim Lambrechts is the director of all food and beverage operations at Hotel and Marina Forty 1º North in Newport--including the casual restaurant, Christie's. He serves this brilliant ketchup substitute on beef burgers. We find...Read More

Having a blast at Las Fallas in Valencia

Valencia is beginning to rev up for Las Fallas, the festival of fires, fireworks, and managed explosions that culminates on the evening of March 19. The pageantry, sheer noise, and almost giddy sense of celebration is almost unfathomable, and we were not sure how we could possibly write about it. But we gave it a try for the Boston Globe. See it on the Globe's web site or check it out on our page of sample articles. This being Spain, there is of course plenty of time set aside for eating. Paella, the quintessentially Valencian dish, fits the celebratory mood as people gather around a big festive pan. Last year we posted our version of paella valenciana . But we know that a lot of...Read More