I know I relate to lots of people when I say there are times in life when we must be creative and austerity has been embraced and made to stand up and take its rightful place by amazing people like Jack Monroe who simply had to eat more cheaply due to poverty. This amazing girl stuck out the hardest times by cooking with the cheapest ingredients she could get because she wanted to feed her son real food, and because, being unemployed she had time on her hands. Uplifting to see stereotypes shifted and, on a more basic note, seeing just how little we sometimes have to spend on food to eat well. Of course the ethical rearing of meat and organics are always going to be strong issues, but it's not always more expensive to buy great quality meat, cheaper cuts are tastier anyway.
Because I kneaded the dough!
Sometimes I can't be bothered going to a supermarket and I like to empty out the cupboards and make what I can from what's there, today was one of those days, and what a haul of food we have now. But I was out of onions and needed to et some for the bread, so I went the cheapest place I know to get them Bobby Byrne's Foodstore on O'Connell Avenue. €1 for a large net, sorted.
First I put together a carrot cake oatmeal 'bake' , mine looked like this that as I replced much of the topping ingredients with cheaper stuff I had, coconut and almonds, mixed nuts and chia seeds. It tasted good but I'm a bit baffled as to whether its a breakfast or what?? Then I threw a kilo of flour into the mixer and made a loaf of Cheese and Onion bread and a batch of mini bread rolls, easy peasy, using muffin tins as moulds.
Tiny, yummy bread rolls
I'd decided to give vegetarianism a go for a day, so a recipe for a lentil and tamarind dhansak looked yum, from the doyenne of fabulousness Nigella. Nigella isn't one you'd peg with austerity but many of her recipes use very cheap ingredients and are very easy and accessible. Of course my kids didn't get to be seven feet tall by feeding them lentils, and I needed some middle-eastern bits n bobs so I set off to my favourite city centre food shop; Limerick Foodstore on Baker Place. This place is an Alladins cave for foodies and cooks. It is rammed with every type of rice, spice, pickle, tins of beans and veg, fresh veg and herbs, coconuts (I buy a lot of these as the water is simply the fastest cure for a hangover and the flesh is yum and you can use the shells to plant things) there are lotions and potions, dates and figs, and hard to get things like Zaatar and pomegranates.
With €10 we bought a whole chicken, cut up for me by the fastest butcher, a box of fresh dates for the dhansak, a pomegranate for tabblouleh, a large tub of natural yogurt, 500g brown basmati rice, a huge bunch of fresh, flat leaf parsley and a lolipop! At home we made tandoori chicken and the yummy lentils, the parsley salad and cooked some rice. The table was laden with the best of food and we didn't have to go to a supermarket to buy any of it. I love the guys in that shop, they are friendly, chatty and helpful. City centre, easy, go there. They sell Halal meat and lots of organ meat too.
Next up for a splash on My Favourite Shop is Limerick Community Grocery , a godsend for anyone who loves to eat the best of locally grown organic veg and get their hands on some top notch ethically produced food. It's all about balance
As someone who loves my food, I have become accustomed to eating a 'version' of Asian food in Ireland, for a long time now. Chinese isn't really Chinese, though you can get some decent Indian. I love Thai food and Vietnamese, the vibrancy, the flavours, the life in the food, the colour and the health. Aroi Asian Street food is the first restaurant venture for the lovely Eddie Ong Chock Fong and his wife Jenny. Eddie grew up in a working environment that would make most people balk at the hard work. Living in Bangkok and working with his granny and his Mum making soup noodles for the millions of city dwellers for their breakfasts before he headed off to school at 7am and then back to work from 1pm until midnight in a restaurant kitchen. This man has street food in his veins and the love and life experience comes through on the plate.
I don't write a lot of reviews on this site, as I only have myself to answer to, it has to be true. This is all true, but is only my humble opinion at the end of the day. If you've been to Thailand and eaten chargrilled Mou Bing pork skewers from grills on the Kao San road, this is here, if you've slurped bowls of steaming Pho Bo; hot noodle soup on the streets of Ho Chi Minh, this is the real thing, here, in Limerick, full of fragrant broth, fesisty fresh herbs and topped with char-grilled juicy beef. Thai red curry with duck, green curry with chicken, fresh and crunchy green papaya salad. pandan chicken, duck rolls, pineapple fried rice. The noodles are made from rice, from skinny to fat, and naturally gluten free. The salads are wild and bright, try the lotus root.
This food makes me happy, it makes me feel reasured and nurtured. How great to indulge and do your body good at the same time... how great to relive your travels through taste? With beautiful herbal teas from Lili and home-made ice cream.
Some people decide to open a restaurant, or move house, or have a baby at some point in their lives. These guys have done everything at the same time, and Eddie is an incredible chef. Nice people, they chose here for their business, I hope it works.
Aroi Asian Street Food, No.1 O'Connell Street, Limerick. 061 311 411 www.aroi.eu