Thursday, March 31, 2011

Be Our Guest Gastronomics!

In the fifth of our guest pieces on The Lunchbox, (1, 2, 3, 4, where does the time go!)we talk to the lovely Rachael, one half of brand new Irish recessionista food and shopping blog

Having started their site at the beginning of the year, gastronomics is truly going from rom strength to strength! Updated twice daily, the site bringis tips and hints on how to cook, eat and drink like a true recessionista, and is a fully independent food and shopping blog!
The mother and daughter team's self stated aim , while catering for six people and two respectively, is to use the site to share their efforts to lower the grocery bills, while keeping the tummies satisfied! So let's let Rach take over and tell you a bit about her lunch loves!

Hi there! My name’s Rachael and I’m the (younger, but sssh!) half of As stated, we are a mother and daughter team, who used to often ring each other with news of a special offer, early bird or great recipe we’d discovered, so now we just post about it instead! 

Thanks for the intro Rachael, we won't say anything about who's the younger! So tell us a little about your own lunch habits? Is being a true recessionista and food lover might difficult?

No actually! I’m lucky enough to have a microwave in my workplace, so every Sunday, I cook a huge pot of a brown-rice based dish such as curry, Rogan Josh or Madras, and fill five lunchboxes for the whole week. (Can you tell I’m a spice fiend?!) I find having a warm, nourishing lunch really satisfies my hunger and the brown-rice sustains my energy levels for longer than a white bread sambo would.  If I’ve managed to bag a Saturday off I love to enjoy a late alfresco lunch at Las Rada Wine & Tapas Bar, Naas enjoying the sun, a selection of tapas and a cheeky glass of Pinot Grigio.

Some nice tips there, we're all for a homemade lunch now and again! So would you say you're up to a Michelin Star standard on the cookery scale yet?!

I’m no Cordon Bleu chef, and there’s many a time it doesn’t go quite to plan, but I do love to cook.  As my day job involves long hours and crazy cross-country trips, I really enjoy relaxing on a Sunday in the kitchen. I find there’s a lot of peace to be had in the methodical preparing, cooking and arranging of food. The latest Sunday dish that went down a treat in our house was Beef & Guinness pie – comfort food at its best.

Ah, you can't beat a bit of comfort food on a Sunday, when you're feeling a bit delicate! What about a Sunday brunch recommendation then, if we're feeling a bit lazy?

Without a doubt the best Sunday brunch offering I’ve come across in a long time is in The Savoy, Limerick – you can have your pick of a huge selection of breakfast options - including the most delicious omelettes - at this five star hotel, relaxing in the plush surroundings with the papers and never-ending coffee, and it’ll cost you the grand total of €9. Insane value – my Mum’s never out of the place!

Wow, that is a great tip! Any of our Munster users, you know where to go on a Sunday morning now! Speaking of insane value, what are your faves on I know you're a Kildare resident, and we'll have lots more down there soon!

I love, love, love GBK, although my ever-expanding waistline hates, hates, hates it – the guys in Whitewater Shopping Centre, Newbridge are fantastic, very professional and always super-friendly. Myself and the boyfriend love to curl up on a Friday with a portion each of the ridiculously gorgeous wings with blue cheese sauce and share a burger – they’re HUGE! With the voucher we occasionally indulge in the two although he usually gives me a hand finishing mine! ;)
We can normally eat two GBKs on our own! Is that such a bad thing?!

So as a firmly signed up member of the ever growing Irish foodie spectrum, what are your hopes and dreams for the future of the scene?

 I would really love to see the long-ago mooted idea of a cafe culture in Ireland come to fruition. My favourite thing in life is having a cup of peppermint tea or a glass of wine with friends, enjoying some tasty nibbles, and taking in some sunshine if it’s going - not throwing back over-priced shots in a heaving club, queuing for gross food at 3am and watching people throw up out of a taxi the whole way home!  However, there are very few wine bars in Ireland and the lovely local cafes we do have are being forced out of the market by unfeasibly high rents and rates.  I realise we don’t have the weather our European friends enjoy, so pop-up restaurants and cafes during the summer may be a valid solution, if city landlords and councils want to make even temporary use of the many unfortunately empty lots.

Wow, now that's a suggestion. Are you listening Enda? We here at mylunch completely agree with the attempt to improve our cafe culture.

However, Rach, you can let us in on a little secret...If you do find yourself in a heaving sweaty club throwing back shots (as even the best of us sometimes do!), well, what's the cure for the morning after?

Oh God, there is no stopping me with a hangover, I will eat whatever comes into my poor sore head – it’s almost always some sort of pasta-based dish, the creamier and more calorific the better. I usually toss some smoked ham, chipotle chillies, shallots and garlic into the pan, deglaze with white wine, add crème fraîche and brown pasta, top with cheese and pop in the oven. Cheesy carby bliss requiring minimum effort from my utterly
useless hungover self!

That's a lot more effort than our usual of a Brekkie Roll, and a lot tastier sounding too! Maybe we should be taking notes!
So finally, (and a question that Rachael came up with hereself!) we'd like to know,what would you like to do if you could own a restaurant yourself? How would you run it?

Well firstly, I’d probably be engaged in a permanent row with the local rates authority! But secondly, I’d take a leaf out of the New York foodies’ book and offer some healthy dishes on my menu. It’s not overly expensive to allow customers to choose brown pasta, noodles or rice instead of white, preparing low-fat options for dressings and sauces, or even just to offer them a steamed fish dish alongside the usual butter-laden version. This would definitely tempt more female parties through the door, and God knows we lunching ladies like to make up the calories in our wine, a habit which helps boost the coffers for restaurants. The Milano’s chain of restaurants is the first I’ve seen go this direction, with their low-cal pizzas and habit of serving dressings on the side – myself and my fellow yo-yo dieting girlfriends would love to see more like it!

Nice advice for budding restaurateurs out there!

If you want to check out more of what the lovely Rachael has to say, do pop over to right now, and have a look at their myriad of delicious recipes, restaurant reviews, meal ideas, and advice on staying recession friendly, while still enjoying your food! You can also join them on Facebook too!

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