Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Gamespot #49

Complete NES Game Cataologue

This is the motherload. A complete list of every NES game released available to play on your PC.

As you can see I've just started a game of Zelda.

See you in a fortnight ;)

Monday, October 30, 2006


It was a slow day in work on Friday so Richard and I took some TOIL and checked out The Garrick bar as we had heard they have a keg behind the bar for Guinness which is a more authentic method. We ordered them up and took up a table by the fireside. While we waited for the beer to pour we picked up Scrabble from the hearth and started up a game. It took around 10 minutes to pour and there were notable differences. It was much lighter and less creamier than normal without the notable head that sits on top replaced by a more ale-type top that dissiapates half way down the pint. Of course such a scientific test can't be run on one pint alone so we ordered another whilst we finished the game. It's hard to beat a quiet afternoon in autumn by the fireside playing scrabble over some Guinness.

Alas such things cannot last and after meeting Brian in town we walked back to his place for some dinner and few beers before jumping in a taxi with Colin and heading to the students union to see Lambchop. I had last seen them back in 2002 at the Empire and I had wondered why they were now playing the Mandela as it was a no-seater venue. These questions were soon answered as we arrived to find the room laid out theatre style and we just managed to get seats at the back left.

After the keyboard and guitarist played warm up by noodling away making sounds akin to Tortoise and Brian Eno but not hitting anything worth taking in, Kurt et all took to the stage and opened with Paperback Bible, the first track off their new album Damaged. They continued with a few more songs from their back catalogue and whilst I couldn't fault the music, I did feel dis-jointed and unemotional about being there because of the lack of intimacy that was evident in the Empire with tables, candles the backdrop of the place adding to the appeal. My pet hate also rose it's ugly head. I've said it before but I cannot fathom why people would want to spend £17.50 for a ticket and then stand at the back and talk all the way through the gig and piss off those in close vicinity who want to enjoy the gig.

With all this stacked against them, it was difficult to really enjoy the gig and I feel that it could have been dramatically improved if the seats were removed allowing those who really wanted to stand by the stage away from the noise at the back and become part of the experience rather than be forced to sit 50 feet away. I really wanted them to play 'The Decline Of Country And Westren Civilization', the last track from Damaged as it is my favourite track. They did and I was still not "feeling it". And that's a shame. Great band, awful venue.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Molly's Yard

It was Lou's birthday yesterday so we went along to Molly's Yard for dinner. We had both wanted to go there for a while and had heard good reports. It also has a micro-brewery and I yearned to sample the chocolate stout.

We arrived around 7pm and were led upstairs. It has a simple country house rustic layout with red velour curtains and sparse furnishings.

I ordered the Bodegas Lan Rioja 2001 and perused the menu. There were around 5-6 dishes in each category of starter, main and dessert with a two course for £20 or three course for £25. As we are a two course couple and the dessert menu looked a lot more appetising I ordered some bread for starters as we waited on our main courses of chicken and fawn.

The fawn came on a bed of noodles and a red onion and jam compote I believe although I could be totally wrong. It was however delicious with the meat flaking off the bone. Lou's chicken came with a creamy mash potato and sauce which also looked and tasted beautiful.

For dessert I had the chocolate brownie which was extremely filling and sumptuous and Lou had the hazelnut cream sundae and we washed it down with a glass of chocolate stout which was the only let down of the meal as it was a little watery and lacking the full body that is stout.

Nevertheless, the meal was fantastic and I would certainly recommend it although if you're a vegetarian you'll have to look elsewhere as there's only one meal on the main menu to choose from.


Menu ***1/2

Value ****1/2

Service *****

Decor ***1/2

Disabled **

Parking ***


Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Departed

The Departed is Martin Scorcese's latest film and a remake of the critically acclaimed Hong Kong classic Infernal Affairs. In my humble opinion Scorcese hasn't made a decent film since 1995s Casino and ten years without a decent flick is bad reputation to get especially after the disastrous Gangs of New York. Whilst The Departed goes some way to fixing Scorcese's merit, it proves that he's a one trick horse in that in the last twenty years all his best work is based on and about the mob.

The Departed is set in Boston where the police are waging a crack down on the Irish mob led by Jack Nicolson who I haven't seen act as good in years because he's not playing a parody of himself. It begins in the 1970's where a young Matt Damon becomes influenced by Nicolsons power and we rejoin them in the present day when Damon leaves the academy as a police officer at the same time as Leonardo DiCaprio. The difference between the two is paramount to the plot as Damons character has an impeccable family past despite being under Nicolsons wing and rises through the ranks as a mob mole. DiCaprio on the other hand has a shady family history and gets a rough time from his bosses and is generally forced into becoming a cop mole in the mob.

The film revolves around how each character deals with their past problems and present predicaments and the interaction between each others sphere of influence leading to an enivitable clash of interests and ensuing personnal dilemma of professional persuit or self-preservation.

It's an interesting film to watch as each character becomes more involved in their chosen role and the story becomes more involved and complex. However, what lets the film down is the last 10-15 minutes as Scorcese attempts to wind the film up and it becomes quite messy and unsatisfactory. Nevertheless it is an entertaining Scorcese movie worth catching in the cinema.

I would give The Departed 3.5 Irish gangsters out of 5


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Stag - Part III

After excusing ourselves from Jamisons we made our way over the Liffey to Lapello's. It was kitted out in red velour and low lighting and there were around 20-odd girls swanning around in the crowd wearing lingerie or minimal loose clothing. We were brought over to a corner where bar stools sat along the wall and our coats were taken. Instantly we were appraoched by a constant string of girls asking if we wanted to dance. Having just walked through the door I found this all a little overbearing and asked for a wine list to get a breather.

As I attempted to scan down the list, a girl who seated herself beside me constantly interrupted by asking a series of non-sensical questions in broken English and again asked if I wanted to dance. I honestly didn't find her in the least attractive so I ordered 3 bottles of house red from the waitress and informed her that I would not like one now and that I am going over to talk to the guys. I felt like I was on a package holiday and street hustlers were trying to get me in to eat.

If I'm brutally honest I would have to say that I wouldn't give at least half the girls in the room a second glance if I was single and on the prowl which isn't a good compliment for a lap dancing club.

The wine arrived and it was a whopping 80 Euros for 3 bottles of house red. If I was feeling tense before I was nearing collapse now. I poured the wine out and we stood around chatting and deciding which girl we would like to throw money at.

After the decision was made you are led into a darker U-shaped room with long chairs along the side. There are probably four or five other guys sitting down receiving lap dances at the same time so there's none of the glamour that you see in movies. Your hands are placed beside your legs and there's an unwritten rule that if you were to move too much you'd find yourself out on your ass fist class.

Five minutes and 30 Euros later your lapdance is over with the bonus being that you are now left alone because you're now a paying customer.

We moved on from Lapello's to various bars around Temple bar, none of which I can remember although I do recall falling up a flight of stairs and cracking my left knee on the corner of stone steps which stung like a million bees and has left a nasty bruise. After this it gets a bit fuzzy but a great night was had by all and it was back to the hotel for sweet drunken slumber.

Thanks for stopping by. See you tomorrow for a review of The Departed, Martin Scorsese's new film starring Jack Nicolson, Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Nightwatch is the first in a trilogy of films based on the fight between good and evil. It is set in modern day Moscow which is refreshing especially as it is based on a Russian novel and acted and directed by Russian actors and a director, Timur Bekmambetov.

Centuries ago the forces of light and dark battled for days until both sides realised none would be victorious. A truce was agreed upon whereby no side would attack another and Nightwatch was set up as a police force for these forces called The Others to protect and prevent any killings which might take place and arrest those who break the truce.

The style and direction is excellent with some great camera angles and CGI footage worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. However, what lets the film down is the pace and plot development which at times is unfocused and slightly amateurish. Nevertheless the acting and and action scenes are well put together and the finalé sets up the plot for the sequel.

The reason for the above may boil down to huge changes in the international version of the film where scenes have been changed or removed and conversations redubbed and entire subplots removed making it 10 minutes less than the Russian version. I would certainly like to rewatch the original for comparison purposes but unfortunately this version didn't enthuse me too much to go and see it in the cinema so like it's predecessor I will be watching it on DVD.

I would give Nightwatch 2.5 vampires out of 5.


Stag - Part II

Much like the paintballing we were escorted to a cabin and given the rules and regulations of participating. However, our instructor had the harshest Dublin accent and we couldn't hear half the words coming out of his mouth except that he finished his sentances with "alright lads".

So we climbed into our overalls and donned gloves and helmet and made our way to the track. We were assigned a number so they could monitor us and we took off on a practice lap. The cars were more powerful than most others and could make it up to 40mph or so. After taking a hit to the face and pelted in the back I was looking forward to something that couldn't hit back. That said, it would be great to combine paintball and karting. If someone hits your visor, you'd probably spin out or crash. Awesome.

I got quite into it but my problem was coming in too fast into the corner and I nearly spun out. I would have to improve when it came down to the wire. We lined up on the starting grid as the instructor lined up by the line. Visors were flipped down and the flag was dropped - off we went. The first corner was tight and whoever was high up on the grid were the first around the corner. There was no such thing as a bad start as all the karts accelerated at the same speed. I managed three corners before spinning out. Damn it.

As anyone who spun out had to wait until the track cleared before the instructor or another karting personnel member pulled you back into the race, you ended up in last place. There was no reverse pedal on the kart so you just had to sit and watch as your position slipped down the rankings.

As the rounds progressed I was more comfortable and in control and realised the best thing to do was take my foot off the accelerator coming into the corner and then push it down hard half way around the corner keeping up the momentum without hitting the brake. However, as others soon found this out too and the bar was raised, it became like pirates - the only way to move up the ranks was dead mans boots [crashing].

The final race was supposedly 15 laps although I never noticed the time fly and I managed to move up from 7th place to 4th which I was pretty chuffed about including overtaking Keith and someone else on the corner after the crashed out and I did a nifty bit of steering. However, the rankings were based on all rounds so I ended up in 6th place. Still, it was great fun.

After ordering taxis and waiting extra long because of a march in Dublin city centre we made our way to Jurys Custom Inn and attempted to check in. I nearly had a heart attack when I was told that the rooms were not paid for. I stated that they were and produced documentation to confirm and breathed a sigh of relief when it was accepted. I had images running through my head of being lynched by the guys.

I was up on the 4th floor with a view over other apartments - nothing to shout home about at all. Nevertheless the hotel was very classy and more than I had expected from a 3 star so I would certainly recommend it to anyone. It was around 5pm and the distillery tour wasn't until 7pm so we had time to chill out and grab a drink or two at the hotel bar.

Once again our taxi was late and by the time we arrived at the Jamison distillery we had missed the introductory film although our guide told us it was fee-diddly-dee twaddle so we didn't lose out on anything. As we were the last tour group and eager to hit the bar we told him he could feel free to condense the tour so we got all the funny stuff without the dry facts and figures. He told us how the whiskey was made through the processes of harvesting through to triple distillation and shipping and before we knew it we were seated at our table with a glass of whiskey. Beuno.

We ordered more drinks and our 5 course meal was under way. As far as I can remember I had a goats cheese tartlet, stuffed chicken breast, chocolate strawberry pudding and an Irish coffee. In the middle of this a band took to the stage and played some Irish music with crowd participation. They had a hilarious guitar player who kept cracking jokes and cutting in over the top of the front man with inappropriate cracks about his wife and family. As much as some of us may have wanted to stay we needed to find our way to the final part of our organised stag night.

Tune in tomorrow for more. See you then.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Stag - Part I

Saturday morning. 5.30am. I was sitting on the edge of the bed rubbing my eyes and yawning before ambling to the bathroom. It was pitch black outside. Raining. I dressed and made my way downstairs. I poured myself some cereal and turned the TV on. I chewed slowly on the food, even the crunch inside my mouth seemed to be too loud. I managed to get half way through the bowl before running out of time. I pulled my shoes on, grabbed the umbrella and made my way into the dusk. It's an interesting time of the day because there is little sound at least in an urban context and the orange glow of street lights adds a surrealistic aura to the surroundings.

I met Colin and we made our way to Central Station. There was little activity inside although it was positively buzzing compared to our journey with everyone shuffling about or sitting waiting for the boarding of the train. Everyone arrived and after introductions and purchases for the train we were away. I read a hilarious article about Deal Or No Deal inbetween laying my head back to close my eyes in a vain attempt to catch 40 winks before reaching our destination. By Newry the sun had peaked over the horizon and the passing fields outside were covered in early morning mist and even the cows looked like they'd rather be somewhere else - I've always wondered if they're happy spending their whole lives in an acre of grass surrounded by hedges or if they dream about breaking out. I suppose if they did they would eat their way through the hedges and make good their escape. Ergo they're happy or just plain unintelligent enough to concieve such a notion.

We arrived in Dublin a few minutes ahead of schedule and after finding our bus stop we realised that we would never reach our destination in time and so we legged it back to the train station and hopped into two taxis. Interesting to note that both vehicles set off from the same point but one charged 12 Euros and the other 17. The difference is perhaps that I queried how much the journey cost. He estimated 15-20 and it came to 12. The other just charged 15-20. A lesson if you're ever in Dublin.

Our first activity of the day was paintball and we were led to a cabin where we were instructed on the rules of the game. Mainly no shooting within 20 feet of your opponent and no head shots. After kitting up and donning our masks we were led to the combat field and handed our weapons with 200 shots already loaded. We were separated into two groups and led off to opposite corners where our bases were. The aim of the game was capture the flag. After a few tense moments the whistle was blown and the hunt was on. I remained in the base in clear sight of the flag until most of the team spread out around the course. As fellow comrades were shot I ran down the embankment into the foray and hid behind a few barrels. Peaking around the corner I could see movement up ahead and fired off a few shots. I made a dash for the a couple of tractor tyres stacked on top each other but was struck in the face. Luckily it didn't count and I circumnavigated my around the perimeter. I spent the rest of the round peeking out of the top of my defence but did not manage to hit anyone but I didn't get hit again either so it wasn't too bad.

The next round the bases were reversed and I made it out behind a few tyres but my glasses and visor steamed up and I couldn't see anything so I spent the time peaking out at an odd angle allowing me a meager 10 degree clear vision and although I fired at a few movements I wasn't anywhere close to hitting anyone.

The third game had our team holed up in a base and it was our opponents job to circle and shoot all of us. Brian and I crouched down behind a barrel and tractor tyre and targeted anyone coming around the side. Unfortunately this meant taking focus from the front and after sticking my head above the barrel I took a direct hit to the forehead and left ear which stung like a bitch. I managed to hold out another few minutes but due to our dwindling defence I was exposed at the rear and took about 5 shots to the back which really hurt. Game over man, game over.

Now with the roles reversed, I relished in bombarding the other teams base with short bursts of fire. As we had just come from there, we knew where the hiding places were and focused our ammunition on key areas and I believe made shorter work on the other team than they did on their turn.

With the games over we were told to line up and those whose stag party it was were picked out and instructed to run across from one point to another while everyone else shot at them. Unfortunately Keith only made one dash before being struck in a sensitive area counting him out for the remainder of the bombardment.

After returning to the cabin, we were in high spirits and recounted our own tales and showed off any injuries we had picked up. Our hair was covered in flecks of paint. Keith suffered a fair few welts to his side and back while Colin collected a swell on his upper temple. I was lucky that my strike to the forehead didn't produce anything more than a temporary red glow.

Next up was Karting. More on that tomorrow with more following throughout the week. Trust you all had a great weekend.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Cassoulet, Stuffed Jacket Potatoes with Leeks, Cheddar and Boursin & Chocolate Mousse

Last night Colin served Cassoulet, Stuffed Jacket Potatoes with Leeks, Cheddar and Boursin & Chocolate Mousse. The Cassoulet was made on Wednesday night as it takes hours of slow stewing so it was reheated last night and served up with creamy mashed potatoes and mange tout and it was absolutely devine. Keith had the Stuffed Jacket Potatoes with Leeks, Cheddar and Boursin which were also delicious and after letting all that settle for a while we tucked into the chocolate mouse which was a little hard but still scrummy. We took some pictures of the meals but they're still in the camera so here's some someone made earlier and I'll put the originals up for next week but to be honest they're very identical.

Have a great weekend whatever you're up to and I'll catch you on Monday.


Serves 8


500g home-salted belly pork
65g duck fat
1 head garlic, broken into cloves, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1kg dried haricots, soaked overnight
Large bouquet garni made from leek, celery, thyme sprigs, bay leaves and parsley stalks
6 good quality Toulouse sausages
4 legs duck confit, cut into two at the joint


1. Cut the piece of belly pork lengthways into three thick slices, then cut each piece across into two.
2. Preheat the oven to 180C.
3. Heat 50g duck fat in a six-litre flameproof casserole dish.
4. Add the garlic and onion and fry gently until soft but not browned.
5. Add the beans and the pieces of salted belly pork, cover with 3 pints water and push in the bouquet garni.
6. Bring to the boil, skimming off any scum as it rises to the surface, then cover, transfer to the oven and bake for one hour or until the beans are just tender (this will depend on the age of your beans).
7. Heat the remaining duck fat in a frying pan and brown the sausages all over.
8. Lift them onto a board and slice each one sharply on the diagonal into three pieces.
9. Remove the cassoulet from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 220C.
10. Add the sausages and the pieces of duck confit to the casserole and push them down well into the beans.
11. Return the casserole to the oven and bake uncovered for a further 45 minutes or until the liquid has reduced and the cassoulet is covered in a dark golden crust.
12. Serve straight from the pot at the table.

Stuffed Jacket Potatoes with Leeks, Cheddar and Boursin

Serves 2


2 large baked potatoes
1 leek, trimmed and cleaned
40g mature Cheddar
80g Boursin
1 tablespoon single cream
salt and freshly milled black pepper


Cut leek into four lengthways, then into ¼ inch slices. Put the Boursin into a medium-sized bowl and cut the potatoes in half lengthways. Scoop out the centres of the potatoes into the bowl containing the Boursin, add the cream and season well with salt and freshly milled black pepper. Now quickly mash everything together, then pile the whole lot back into the potato skins. Now scatter the leeks on top, followed by the grated Cheddar then place on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the leeks are golden brown at the edges and the cheese is bubbling.

Chocolate Mousse

Serves 6


200g dark chocolate broken into pieces
3 large eggs, separated
40g golden caster sugar


Place the broken-up chocolate over warm water in a large heatproof bowl, which should be sitting over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn't touch the water. Then, keeping the heat at its lowest, allow the chocolate to melt slowly. Remove it from the heat and give it a good stir until it's smooth and glossy, then let the chocolate cool for 2-3 minutes before stirring in the egg yolks. Then give it another good mix with a wooden spoon.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to the soft-peak stage, then whisk in the sugar, about a third at a time, then whisk again until the whites are glossy. Now, using a metal spoon, fold a tablespoon of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, then carefully fold in the rest. You need to have patience here – it needs gentle folding and cutting movements so that you retain all the precious air, which makes the mousse light. Next divide the mousse between the ramekins or glasses and chill for at least 2 hours, covered with clingfilm.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Links #29

The Mighty Boosh

Originally this was shown on BBC Three so a lot of you probably missed it but you'll perhaps notice the two stars as the preist from Garth Marenghi's Dark Place and the vampire from the IT Crowd. Here's all of series one:

South Park - World Of Warcraft

Full episode where the boys spend all their time defeating a hard-core gamer in World of Warcraft.

Wikipedia - South Park

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Classic Literature

I recieved this text in a spam email today. I must talk like this for a day and see where it gets me.

With Bingley's sudden appearance and invitation, the mother and three daughters all attended her into the breakfast room.

"He has been so unlucky as to lose your friendship" replied Elizabeth with emphasis in a compliment of the highest kind.

"Ah! Miss, true indeed. It is a grievous affair to my poor girls, you must confess. not that I mean to consult your own feelings in the present case, or do you imagine that you are a dear madam, so do not go. I beg you will not go." stated Mr. Collins who then excused himself. He couldn't help but disbelieving the whole of the matter; secondly, he was very sure that Elizabeth had been taken in; anything rather than marry without affection. He left wondering what he ought to do.

"My dear Miss Elizabeth, I have the highest opinion in the world in your excellent judgement in this long dispute following this declaration" Mr. Bennet stated firmly. It soon led to another; "And considering what their income might be, rejected by many as deficient in size and importance, it
does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of the terms, I suppose, which must be complied with."

It's totally reeled me in.

Who is Mr Bingley and what has prompted his sudden appearance?
Is Mr Collins a concerned father figure?
Has Elizabeth been taken in by this dispute?
Who is Mr Bennet and what's his angle?

Monday, October 16, 2006


I'm currently off sick today suffering an impairment of normal physiological functions so you'll have to accept my apologies and peruse some old postings to keep you entertained.

See you soon and thanks for stopping by.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sun-dried Tomato In Avocado, Leek and Stilton Quiche, Couscous, Greek Salad & Knickerbocker Glory with Chocolate Sauce

Last night Brian made a starter of Sun-dried Tomato In Avocado with Leek and Stilton Quiche for main course served with broccoli and smoked cheese, couscous and Greek Salad followed by a Knickerbocker Glory with chocolate sauce for dessert.

I have to say I wasn't overally fussed with the starter as the leek and stilton quiche was delicious and filling as the main course. As a compliment to the quiche there was just too much going on in the plate and the quiche would have been perfectly served alongside the broccoli and smoked cheese without adding the couscous and greek salad which was overkill. No fault with the dessert though - you can't go wrong with a well made Knickerbocker Glory.

Conclusion: Too much food in one sitting especially with the main course. Perhaps a different or no starter and the quiche served with only the one compliment would have made a good rounded meal finishing off with Knickerbocker Glory.

Here's the big ol' list of recipes:

Sun-dried Tomato In Avocado


Half an avocado, ripe
Low-fat Mayonaisse
1 sun-dried tomato, finely chopped


Put sundried tomato into space for stone, lining cavity
Add Mayonaisse
Top with Paprika

Leek and Stilton Quiche


2 tbsp vegetable oil
25g butter
350g onions, finely sliced
675g leeks, shanks only, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
2tsp soft thyme leaves
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tbsp plain flour
3 eggs
290ml double cream
100g stilton cheese, cubed
2 tbsp fresh grated parmesan
300g short crust pastry


Line a 10in flan tin or dish with the pastry. Place in the refrigerator to chill.
Heat the oil and the butter in a pan until melted. Add the onions, leeks, sugar, garlic and thyme and cook gently until they have started to turn golden brown and are soft. Allow to cool slightly. Fold in the flour and add seasoning.
Beat the eggs and cream together and add to the onion mix. Fold in half the parmesan and the stilton cheese.
Spoon the mixture into the flan case and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan. Bake in a preheated oven at 190C for about 50 minutes until golden brown and set.

Broccoli and Smoked Cheese


Olive Oil
1 onion
Broccoli - depends how many people you are feeding
Austrian Smoked Cheese - one or two
1 Stock Cube
Black pepper


Chop and fry onion for a few minutes.
Chop broccoli stalks and fry for 2 minutes.
Add broccoli florets and fry for 2 minutes.
Add half pint of stock and reduce at a medium heat so that mixture is not too runny.
Cut smoked cheese into rounds and add to mixture.
Reduce heat and cook for about ten/fifteen minutes ensuring that mixture does not dry out.
Season with black pepper.
Serve with pasta.

Greek Salad


½ tomato, diced
30-55g feta cheese, diced
¼ red onion, peeled and diced
small handful of fresh basil, torn
½ lemon, juice only
1-2 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper


Place the tomato and feta cheese into a large bowl.
Add the onion, basil, lemon juice and olive oil. Season to taste.
Toss the ingredients together in the bowl to coat.
Transfer to a serving plate and serve.



1 cup uncooked couscous
1 cup water
1 medium tomato
1 small pepper
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1/4 cup of raisins
1 small lime
3 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
dash of apple cider vinegar (optional)


Pour water into a small pot and put over stove on high heat.
Once water is boiling, turn off stove. Pour uncooked couscous into the pot, stir a few times and place lid over pot.
Wash and chop all of your veggies.
Cut lime in halves and squeeze juice into a large salad bowl.
Put raisins and chopped veggies into the salad bowl.
Uncover your pot of now-cooked couscous. Gently fluff couscous with a fork before pouring into the salad bowl.
Drizzle olive oil over your couscous salad and add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix, mix, mix.
Add olive oil, salt and pepper, or apple cider vinegar to taste.
Put couscous into the fridge. For maximum flavour and outta the roof results, leave overnight before enjoying!

Knickerbocker Glory with Chocolate Sauce


For the chocolate sauce
3 tbsp double cream
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp honey
For the knickerbocker glory
3 scoops ice cream
35g/1½oz hazelnuts, toasted


To make the chocolate sauce, mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and warm through to create a smooth sauce.
Take a large glass and place some ice cream into it. Drizzle the chocolate sauce, repeat the process till the glass is full, sprinkle with toasted nuts and serve


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Too Many Cooks

I awoke yesterday at the ungodly hour of 7am. Unless you live outside Belfast there is no reason to set your alarm for this time. It was pitch black outside and only forced to remind me that by November it will be like this when I rise at my usual scheduled awakening. Even more depressing was the walk in which was made more of a chore because it was blustery and raining sheets which came in at all angles. Autumn is like season of reckoning for umbrella's and their outurned corpses can be found scattered along the footpaths, sticking out of bins and thrown into hedges, the residue of anger that thrust it to it's resting place still evident.

After sitting around the reception like we were on a primary school trip to the zoo, the bus arrived and we climbed aboard. I made my way to the back, slumped against the wall, pulled my coat hood over my head and tried to nap. Unfortunately this was made impossible due to bumps in the road and Cool FM being pumped around speakers inside the bus. After what seemed like 2 hours [although it was 40 minutes I was told] we arrived in Carlingford.

After filing into Ghan House we were offered a spread of tea, coffee and assorted cream scones. Needless to say I went straight to the coffee doofer but despite my efforts at tugging the switch back and forth, I couldn't get my morning fix by pushing the button so I let out a sigh and stormed off causing a small scene. Early mornings + No coffee = tantrum.

Introductions by Ghan House staff over, we broke up into two teams, one creating an Italian 3 course meal, the other team creating Irish. I was in the Irish food group so we were making warm potato salad, salmon and buttermilk creams. I know what you're thinking but I held the excitement back.

As you may imagine, 10 people trying to make the same 3 dishes gets overly complicated, the kitchen toocrowded and no-one knows what everyone else is doing. As I have had some experience with the weekly meals directed people what to do I diplomatically suggested what people needed to do and stuck to doing one thing at a time and even showed the chef a new way to poach an egg - take a mug and a large piece of clingfilm tucked into the mug. Crack the egg into the mug and tie up the ends sealing the egg in a bundle before setting into a simmering pan of boiling water until done which gives you a perfect round egg.

After hours of toil we finally knocked up the 3 course meal and took our seats whilst the staff made our meals look good on the plates. I actually have to say it turned out pretty good although it was very filling and I couldn't finish any of the 3 dishes. Everyone was absolutely stuffed and a few of us had to walk it off before meeting up for a very boring afternoon session.

We sat around a table and played a stupid game of taking your first name and adding an adjective i.e. I was 'Playful Phil' and the next person had to memorise and repeat previous names adding their own to the end. After that was over we broke up into two teams to discuss negative issues that arose after the staff satisfaction survey but because it was already late we only had 30 minutes to chat and report so nothing really got covered. We then finished with telling everyone what we enjoyed about the day and what we liked about the person sitting to our left. It was ridiculous and quite farcical.

So that was our magical away day. The upshot being that these things only occur every 2 years so I shouldn't be around to sit through another one.

Has anyone else had pointless staff away days or work sessions?

Thanks for your patronage and see you tomorrow for a breakdown on what Brian bammed up in the kitchen.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Gamespot #48


Great strategic game to play at break or lunch.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Clear Mornings, Foggy Nights

There's a difinitive cooling of the weather this week and I've now switched from jacket to duffel coat and if the trend continues it will stay on until February next year with added scarf and hat. It's a funny thing that people change the way they walk when it's cold into a more rigid military march with each alternate stride puffing a condensation laced breath into the early morning air.
The view over the Albert Bridge is fantastic in the winter as the sun lies low and if the water is calm it becomes a reflective mirror and sets off the red bridge in the distance with it's opposing mirage lying upside down on the water. I can only find a view from the other side so I must try and bring my camera along next time to show you.

Last night I was out for a colleagues birthday. After a few pints in Fibbers we took off for the Ormeau Road and had dinner in an eastern bistro where they had a mixture of Korean, Thai, Japanese and Chinese food on offer. I went for the chicken teriyaki which wasn't bad at all and everyone elses food looked good too. It was also BYO so I recommend checking it out. Unfortunately due to my foggy memory because we hit the Pavilion afterwards I can't remember the name of the place but it's opposite the Pavilion and it's a very relaxed atmosphere place and the service is excellent.

I'll be away tomorrow on a staff away day to Carlingford so I'll try and throw off a few pictures to post on Thursday and try to make talking about an operational plan interesting. I thought these things were meant to include go-kart racing and hitting the pub but we're breaking off into two groups to cook either an Irish or Italian lunch for ourselves. Where's the fun in that?

Thanks for stopping by and I'll see you on Thursday with a gamespot tomorrow to fill the gap.

Monday, October 09, 2006

No Score Draw

A few of us went to Vaudeville's after work on Friday and the place is still as busy as ever and finding a seat for 5 people at 4.30pm was a small chore. I think it's still a great bar although I would attend to a few small things such as an overhaul the furniture towards the back where we ended up sitting such as the low metallic tables that deserve a place in Lavery's alongside the accompanying stools. Another small gripe is the limited video footage displayed on the video screens and after you've seen it looped twice it's annoying to catch again and again. Admittedly I should be focused on the conversation but when the music is too loud that I can barely hear someone 4 feet away it becomes frustrating. Nonetheless, once they turn the music off and a band begins to play, it's at a level I can talk over.

By 8.30pm or so we were in need of sustenance and visited a new Lebanese restaurant on Amelia Street. It was BYO and luckily there was an off-licence across the road although from experience they sell absolute rubbish Merlot and Cab Sauv so I played the Rioja card and ended up with something not too bad. Indeed the wine was better than the meal itself. I cannot recall the name of the dish - it was spiced kebab on a bed of rice with a coconut dip. However, the kebabs were tiny, the rice was dry and the coconut dip was more watery than creamy. The overall feel of the place is somewhere between take-away and restaurant and it's location opposite Little Italy will only position it as the former.

On Saturday morning my nose was running like a tap and I felt worn down and exhausted. I spent some time on the couch flicking through channels ingesting vitamin C tablets, echinacea and some cold & flu tablets Lou bought me as she acted like Mary Nightingale for me all weekend. Typically this hit me over the weekend and I'm back in work today feeling much better although peeved that things like this never occur around mid-week but torture me when I have downtime.

The good news over the weekend was Northern Ireland's scoreless draw with Denmark on Saturday evening putting us third in the table and facing off aganist Latvia on Wednesday of which we are more than capable of beating although we have a knack for getting beaten against weaker teams such like the style of the Republic vs Israel game which would be a terrible blow for qualifying for the next round.

On Sunday evening we watched The Girl In The Café starring the great Bill Nighy and Kelly McDonald. Nighy plays a lonely civil servant who works for the Chancellor of the Exchequer who meets McDonald, another lonely figure, in an awkward café meeting which turns around when the two spit out a conversation and Nighy plucks up the courage to ask her out. Nighy is quickly besotted with McDonald and invites her to the G8 Summit in Reykjavik. However, their relationship is tested by Lawrence's professional obligations and McDonalds behaviour towards other delegates during the conference.

I found the films plot regarding the G8 summit to be very far fetched although the relationship between the two was accessible and also wonderfully acted by Nighy and McDonald from their tenuous beginnings in awkward conversation to held-back passion. I feel that if their tenuous relationship was at the forefront of a more believable background that it would have garnered a more realistic and approachable reaction. Nevertheless, the political background brings an important issue to the widescreen and illustrates how world poverty tends to be a lot of empty gestures amongst world leaders over preference of economic stability and placing their own country first.

I would give the film 3 E.U. countries out of 5.

I hope you all had a great weekend. Thanks for stopping by and see you tomorrow.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Smoked Mackerel Pate with Ricotta, Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Goats’ Cheese Mash, Spiced Bread Pudding with Brandy Cream

Last night I knocked up Smoked Mackerel Pate with Ricotta, Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Goats’ Cheese Mash and Spiced Bread Pudding with Brandy Cream. I was pretty proud of all three dishes. Here's the science!

Smoked Mackerel Pate with Ricotta

Serves 8


4 smoked mackerel fillets (275g)
110g ricotta
150 ml soured cream
juice ½ large lemon
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly milled black pepper


1 heaped tablespoon miniature capers
cayenne pepper
1 large lemon, cut into wedges

You will also need 8 small, deep ramekins with a 100ml


Skin the mackerel fillets
Place the fish into the bowl of a food processor, then add the ricotta, soured cream and lemon juice, a good seasoning of salt, black pepper and the freshly grated nutmeg.
Blend until completely smooth.
Pack the mixture into the individual ramekins or the serving dish, cover with clingfilm and chill for several hours before serving.

When serving, place about half a teaspoon of the capers in the centre of each ramekin and sprinkle with a touch of cayenne pepper. Garnish with the watercress and lemon wedges and serve with wholemeal toast.

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Goats’ Cheese Mash

Serves 4


110g dried black-eyed beans, pre-soaked and drained
75g green split peas, rinsed
75g green lentils, rinsed
50g peeled carrots
50g peeled swede
50g peeled celeriac
1 large onion, peeled
1 small green pepper, deseeded
50g butter, plus a little extra for greasing
225g tomatoes
1 heaped tablespoon chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as sage, rosemary, thyme and parsley
¼ level teaspoon ground mace
¼ level teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
salt and freshly milled black pepper
salt and freshly milled black pepper
salt and freshly milled black pepper


110g soft goats’ cheese
700g potatoes, peeled
50g butter
2 tablespoons milk
25g Pecorino cheese, grated
salt and freshly milled black pepper

You will need a round baking dish with a diameter of 9 inches, 2 inches deep, buttered.


You will need to soak and drain the black-eyed beans. To do this, wash them under cold, running water and discard any broken ones. If it is convenient, soak them overnight in 2 pints cold water. If you haven’t got time to do this, boil for 10 minutes and leave them to soak for two hours before draining.

Put the drained beans into a saucepan with the split peas and lentils. Add 725ml boiling water and some salt, cover and simmer gently for 50-60 minutes, or until the pulses have absorbed the water and are soft. Then remove them from the heat and mash them just a little with a large fork.

Now pre-heat the oven to 190°C, and put the potatoes on to boil. Next, roughly chop all the vegetables, pile the whole lot into a food processor and process until chopped small. Next, melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the vegetables and cook gently for 10-15 minutes, stirring now and then until they’re softened and tinged gold at the edges.

Meanwhile, skin the tomatoes. Place them in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water on to them. After exactly a minute (or 15-30 seconds, if they are small), remove them (protecting your hands with a cloth if the tomatoes are hot), slip off their skins and slice them.

Add the vegetables to the pulses mixture, along with the herbs, spices and salt and freshly milled black pepper to taste. Then spoon the mixture into the baking dish and arrange the tomatoes in overlapping slices on the top.

As soon as the potatoes are cooked, place them in a bowl, add the butter, milk and goats’ cheese, whisk to a smooth purée, season with salt and freshly milled black pepper and spread the potato over the rest of the ingredients in the dish. Finally, sprinkle over the Pecorino and bake the pie on the top shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. If you want to prepare this in advance, it will need about 40 minutes in the oven.

Spiced Bread Pudding with Brandy Cream

Serves 6


Bread pudding

225g white or brown bread, crusts removed
2 teaspoons mixed spice
whole nutmeg
110g sultanas
25g currants
25g raisins
50g whole candied lemon or orange peel, chopped
3 tablespoons brandy
275ml milk
50g butter, melted, plus a little extra for greasing
75g dark soft brown sugar
1 large egg, beaten
grated zest ½ orange
grated zest 1 lemon
1 tablespoon demerara sugar

Brandy Sauce:

1 dessertspoon brandy
150ml double cream
25g golden caster sugar

You will also need a baking dish with 6 x 8 inches , 1¾ inches deep, buttered.


Place the sultanas, currants, raisins and candied peel in a bowl. Pour over the brandy and leave aside to marinate. Then, in a large bowl, break the bread into ½ inch pieces. Add the milk, then give the mixture a good stir and leave it for about 30 minutes so the bread becomes well soaked. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

Mix the melted butter, sugar, mixed spice and beaten egg together and then add to the second bowl. Now, using a fork, beat the mixture well, making sure there are no lumps, then stir in the marinated fruits, with any brandy remaining, and also the orange and lemon zest.

After that, spread the mixture in the baking dish and sprinkle the sugar over it, along with some freshly grated nutmeg. Bake on the centre shelf of the oven for about 1¼ hours. Meanwhile, whisk together the ingredients for the brandy cream and serve it with the pudding warm from the oven.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Gamespot #48


A cool little memory based game.

See how new many objects you can after each round.

Wikipedia - Memory


If memory games are not your thing then try this for some mind-melting action.

Try to remember which direction you're facing to guide your character out before he impales himself.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Links #28

Korean Archery

Watch archers take apart small objects from a distance and also undertake the ultamite challenge of peircing and arrow with an arrow.

Wikipedia - Archery

Ninjai - The Little Ninja

Small ninja, huge blood spilt.

13 episodes to watch.

Wikipedia - Ninjas

Male Restroom Etiquette

Acceptable behaviour for men in public restrooms. Or Else.

Wikipedia - Etiquette

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Hidden Cameras

Last night a few of us went to see the Hidden Cameras at Auntie Annies. Can you believe it? You live around the corner from the pub for 2 years, move away 2 months and they put a gig on you actually want to see.

I had only recently got a copy of their new album Awoo, having only heard their music through their 2004 album Mississauga Goddam. They have a great song/video on there called 'I Believe In The Good Of Life' [click for video] which I wanted them to play alongside 'Ban Marriage' I track I had heard from their 2003 album The Smell of Our Own.

However, they are one of the few bands I have been blown away by because they are 10 times better on stage than on record. All the group looked to be enjoying themselves immensely which always adds to the general atmosphere and although it was a Monday night, the crowd was in good spirits.

There were certainly a few stand out favourites and unfortunately I cannot name the track but it involved the song working to a furious downward tempo awash with scrawl to rise again to the beat of the song.

I hope that they come back in the near future and have a bigger fanbase for a larger venue because after three albums each getting better, it's always great to see bands like this get the recognition they deserve.


Monday, October 02, 2006

The Advocate Bar

It was Mum's birthday this weekend and I had booked a table at The Advocate for Saturday evening. It used to be called Rumpole's but I had never been there before so I cannot confirm how much it has changed. As you may be able to confirm from their website they are shooting for that dark background candlelit ambiance. I have to say that I could have done with a few more candles to brighten up our table but it was a warm retreat from outside as it was blowing a gale and the rain was pounding the streets. A feature of the room is the backlit faux-bookcase which I found initially garish although I have to say it grew on my a little as the time passed but it's no substitute for real books. Cafe Vaudeville suffers a similar but worse affliction as it offers realistic looking books which are actually fake as opposed to a photograph of books which is obviously not real. The difference being that people in a bar may get drunk and steal books in a bar which would or should not occur in a restaurant setting.

An outstanding feature of the Advocate is certainly the waiting service. From the moment we sat down until the bill was paid for we were treated extremely well by our waitress who was outgoing, friendly, smiling and polite and the service was the best I can remember in some time.

A downside to the Advocate amongst our group seemed to be the limited menu options although I must say I was happy with what was on offer and forced to choose between two dishes. Besides those listed on their website there was an additional page menu of specials of which I choose the spiced sea bass with parsnip chips and an apricot compote which I must say was divine.

This was all washed down by a delcious rioja and as we were all filled up by our main course, half of us including myself opted for a Baileys coffee.


Menu ***1/2

Value ****1/2

Service *****

Decor ***1/2

Disabled ****

Parking **

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