LoveFood’s Christmas Special – Out Today!

LoveFood’s Christmas Special is out with the Irish Independent today – be sure to check it out! Our packed winter edition includes our Christmas countdown, full of tips as you prepare for the big day. We have Christmas essentials for your fridge, freezer, cupboard and more; David Whelehan picks his top 10 winter wines; as the chills set in we bring you a guide to the perfect coffee; chef Hazel McFadden will have you whipping up Christmas treats for the kids; there are some tips on staying healthy for the holidays, and lots, lots more. Pick up your copy today!


Dinner Party Etiquette

Are you up on it? The Guardian has a guide…

Obvious things first: reply promptly to an invitation with a reminder about any food allergies or serious dislikes (most hosts would prefer to spend a couple of minutes bitching about your bloody cheek than 10 furious ones watching you push their carefully constructed starter around the plate), and don’t pull out at the last minute – or decide to bring along a friend. Arrive within 15 minutes of the time on the invitation – but never any earlier…

Although the good guest always asks well in advance whether they can bring anything specific, such as a pudding, more often than not the response is a jocular, “oh no, just yourselves”. This is actually code for “a bottle of wine each please, and make it drinkable”.

If you’re not Stephen Fry, or one of the other five people who crop up on ‘dream dinner party’ guest lists with tedious regularity, you’re a compromise option. In fact, if Elvis and Jesus weren’t so tricky to get hold of these days, you probably wouldn’t get invited at all. Your duty is thus to be as witty and fascinating as possible in order to compensate for your inadequacies in the celebrity department.

LoveFood’s Autumn Issue – Out Today!!

LoveFood Autumn 2009The autumn issue of the Irish Independent LoveFood magazine is out with the paper today, packed with seasonal recipes, tips on great value Australian wine, terrific alternatives for healthy kids’ lunchboxes, advice on preparing yourself for the cold and flu season (with food as your armour) – and more!

The lead story from chef Nicola Strawbridge brings you six wonderful autumn recipes – all a cinch to prepare with six ingredients or fewer.

One of the Nicola’s delicious recipes is this great Mushroom Risotto – for more make sure you check out the mag today!


Mushroom Risotto

This is a great standby supper – it can be prepared in half an hour and always tastes great.

Serves 2-3


200g Arborio rice

1-2 shallots, finely chopped, or half an onion

1 small glass of white wine

20g dried porcini, plus a few fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced

Parsley, finely chopped

Small chunk of parmesan, grated


Soak the porcini in hottish water for 20 minutes, then drain and chop finely. Save the porcini water to use as stock. In a heavy-bottomed pan, add 15g of butter to a good slug of olive oil. Add the onion and cook till softened. Add the porcini and other mushrooms and cook for a minute or two longer. Add the rice, and stir well so that the grains get a good coating of oil. Chuck in the wine and let it bubble away till absorbed.

Now for the boring bit – add the warm porcini stock, supplemented with some vegetable stock if needed, a ladleful at a time. When each ladleful is absorbed, add another. Carry on in this vein for 20 minutes or so. Keep checking the rice – it’s ready when it has a slight bite to it or is al dente.

Take off the heat and stir in the parmesan, parsley and a knob of butter. Put the lid on the pan and leave for a few minutes. This improves the texture – you want it nice and oozy! Serve on warmed plates, maybe with a nice green salad.

Tip: Adding leftover chicken to this risotto is a great way to use up your Sunday roast.

LoveFood #3 Out This Wednesday!

It’s that time again! The autumn issue of LoveFood will be hitting the shops with the Irish Independent this Wednesday – don’t miss it! We’ve worked hard to make the mag as good as it can be so we hope you’ll enjoy it.

Here’s a little sneak peak at some of the contents:

Win a dinner for four courtesy of!  

Six Seasonal Suppers! Nicola Strawbridge cooks up six warming autumn wonders – each using six ingredients or fewer.

The A-Z of essentials for your kitchen cupboard.

Sean Crescenzi serves up a delicious Italian feast, while Eileen Dunne shares her Italian wine-buying tips.

…plus lots more!

Mafia Mozzarella

Be careful what you buy:

The innocent Italian housewife could be funding the Mafia with the staples of her shopping basket — olive oil, Parma ham and mozarella cheese. The worn-out worker who treats himself to a beer after a hard week may be drinking a product brewed by the Mob.
The omnipresent Mafia has subtly infiltrated some unexpected sectors of Italy’s economy, forcing unsuspecting consumers to contribute towards organised crime.
Even the previously whiter-than-white Italian food and beverage industry has been tainted.

With an extraordinary €90 billion a year turnover, the Mob leaves legitimate Italian companies like car manufacturer Fiat trailing in its financial wake.

The Mafia’s continued existance is a fact of life in today’s Italy. And it has a discreet but inescapable impact on the day-to-day lives of ordinary law-abiding Italians. From the quality of their mobile phone coverage to the efficiency or otherwise of their rubbish disposal — the Mafia may be hovering in the background.

the ‘Agro-Mafia’ pulls in €7.5 billion euro a year — driving legitimate participants in Italy’s food production sector to despair. The farmers’ union, Coldiretti, has claimed the Mafia has relabelled flavoured rapeseed oil and sold it as olive oil.
The Mafia is also suspected of involvement in illegal fishing, especially of endangered bluefin tuna. Truckloads of hams branded with fake ‘Parma’ trademarks are regularly seized by the authorities. Beer is brewed using outlawed genetically modified ingredients.

Do you complain in restaurants?

We Irish prefer to vent online, according to The Irish Times:

What’s striking about the posts is not just their fury but their impotence. Many of those who contribute are so anxious to avoid actual confrontation that they don’t air their grievances to the waiting staff or restaurant management – the people who might actually be able to do something to resolve their problem – and end up tapping out their rage on their keyboards instead.

“I think the golden rule is that if you’re going to complain, you really should be complaining when you’re at the table,” says Conrad Howard, the owner of a popular restaurant in Cork. “Some people will leave a restaurant dissatisfied and go home to write a letter of complaint but we have lost them at that stage and there is not much we can do to resolve their problems. Decent restaurants want to hear your complaints when you’re actually in the restaurant, they really do,” he says.

He has been working in the industry in Dublin, London and now Cork for more than 20 years and says that while he has seen people’s willingness to complain increase in recent years, it is largely a generational thing. He says people in their 20s and 30s are quick to give out while their parents, no doubt recalling Ireland’s terrible restaurants of the 1960s and 1970s, mumble “mustn’t grumble” and get on with their meal.

“I think people know their coffee, their wine and their food better now than they did in the past and they have become a bit more vocal if they don’t think it is right,” Howard says.

Food critic and writer Tom Doorley agrees that younger people are more inclined to complain, but is not convinced this is a good thing. They are more vocal, he says, “but in a less critical way” and they “frequently forget to engage their brain before giving out”.

Enjoy your M&S favourites for longer at the Rooftop Restaurant

With a stretch in the evenings you can now enjoy your favourite food at the M&S Rooftop Restaurant for longer. Every Thursday and Friday until the 20th August you can now relax in the restaurant and enjoy dinner with friends until 10.00pm.
For a great value treat why not try the amazing Dine Out for €12.50 offer. You can choose from a delicious main course like Lasagne al Forno or Chicken Kiev along with a delectable dessert and to wash it all down just choose from a glass of the crisp Pinot Grigio to the Casa Leona Merlot all for just €12.50.
For a special treat this summer just visit the Rooftop Restaurant at M&S, Grafton St, Dublin.