Wednesday 13 December 2017

Society: Buttering up the foodie crowd

Yotam Ottolenghi (right) with husband Karl Allen at the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine in Shangarry.
Yotam Ottolenghi (right) with husband Karl Allen at the Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine in Shangarry.
Rachel Allen and Jeanne Kelly, head of communcations of Ornua
Colm McLoughlin and Miguel Ángel Jiménez at the Dubai Duty Free Arabian Night's Party at The K Club.
Golfger Grégory Bourdy and Annabelle Savignan at the Dubai Duty Free Arabian Night's Party held last week in an Arabian-inspired teepee on the grounds of The K Club, Straffan, Co. Kildare.
Breeda McLoughlin, Vicki Smyth and Sherly McLoughlin at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Arabian Nights Party. Photo: Darren Kidd /Press Eye.
Hilary Martyn and Siobhan Reynolds at the Absolut reception for the Galway International Arts Festival programme launch at Cleaver East, Dublin. Photo: Brian McEvoy
Patrick Magee of Renault with the Happy Pear brothers David and Stephen Flynn.
Ireland and Leinster rugby star Jordi Murphy and his dog Kobe. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan
Designer Peter O'Brien
Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

The Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food & Wine in Shanagarry, East Cork was very mind expanding (we'll say nothing about the waistline) and I came back laden with lots of new cookery books and recipes garnered from some of the world's top chefs.

Yotam Ottolenghi was over with his husband, Karl Allen, who comes from Co Down. Always generous with his time, Yotam spoke glowingly about tahini paste - try it with caramelised onions - and had us laughing as he recounted how "people did awful things in the name of fusion cuisine".

Jeanne Kelly, head of communications of Ornua, hosted the I♥BUTTER dinner er in Ballymaloe house on Saturday night. The dress code was "festival chic" and after cocktails on the sun-drenched terrace - I don't know what Darina Allen did to fix the weather but it was blissful all day - I caught up with her daughter-in-law Rachel Allen who, as always, is terribly busy but we caught time to discuss the racing career of her teenage son, Lucca, and those incredible turquoise earrings, a spontaneous buy at H&M. The legendary Prue Leith - who has worked as restaurateur, caterer, television presenter/broadcaster, journalist, cookery writer and novelist - certainly brightened up our Sunday morning.

When asked about her favourite places to eat in London, she namechecked our own Richard Corrigan and his gift with the best fresh ingredients.

Chatting with Prue later, I recommended that she try out Richard's Virginia Park Lodge estate overlooking Lough Ramor in Co Cavan, and as she was heading off on a week-long jaunt around Ireland with her beau, John, she happily took down the recommendation.

Famous for her straight talking, Prue didn't take a second to think twice when I enquired if she was surprised by any of the new culinary trends. "The one that continues to surprise me, and irritate me, is the obsession with machines in kitchens. Even on The Great British Menu you can get a dish that contains gel, a drizzle, foam, spherification and a Parmesan crisp.

"Now all of these things can be delicious on their own or for a reason, but very often they are there because the chef is in love with his machine. And I think it's time they got over it. The trouble with foam is it looks great for five seconds and then it looks like scum."

While she likes it, Prue is surprised to see edible flowers coming back. "In the 80s, they were very fashionable, things like violets and geranium petals. Now there's flowers in everything but it won't last. All these things are about fashion."

Golfers get in swing of an Arabian night

Bairbre Power

Six teepees were built on the lawns of The K Club for the Arabian Nights party hosted by Colm McLoughlin, the executive vice chairman of Dubai Duty Free, and his wife Breeda, to celebrate the airport retailer's sponsorship of The Irish Open. The guests enjoyed a barbecue which included a feast of Irish and Arabian cuisine as well as a seafood buffet with fresh oysters, crab claws and smoked salmon.

Among the 200 guests were many of the world's top golfers including Miguel Ángel Jiménez (pictured below with Colm) and the 2015 winner Soren Kjeldsen. I also spotted Paul McGinley and Dubai Duty Free's own golf ambassador Des Smyth and his wife Vicki.

Colm McLoughlin and Miguel Ángel Jiménez at the Dubai Duty Free Arabian Night's Party at The K Club.

Other guests included Dr Michael Smurfit, the owner of The K Club, and several senior figures of The European Tour. Guests were treated to entertainment including an Arabian dress-up corner where guests could try on traditional Arabian dresses. There was also a henna artist, a falconry display and a caricaturist. Later that night guests danced the night away to the sounds of James Huish and his Band.

Leisure Land stroke of genius for Enda

Kirsty Blake Knox

There was some confusion regarding the staging of Enda Walsh's upcoming theatre show Arlington [a love story] at the launch of the Galway International Arts Festival.

The play, which stars IFTA-winning actress Charlie Murphy and Hugh O'Conor, is being performed in Leisure Land fitness and swimming complex in Salthill.

"No, it won't be an underwater show," producer Anne Clarke said when asked if punters should bring togs and armbands. "I know it's Enda Walsh but we're not quite there yet."

While synchronised swimming is off the cards, Walsh will showcase three works at the two-week festival including a new installation art piece voiced by Catastrophe actress Eileen Walsh.

The GIAF launch party in Dublin's Clarence Hotel was a good old-fashioned jolly with plenty of tart vodka spritzers.

Druid's Garry Hynes talked about the company's production of Beckett's Waiting for Godot. "It's an incredibly exciting one to work on," she said.

"There's a real magic to Galway - the whole city is filled with creative energy during the festival."

Billy Elliot writer Lee Hall's play Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour promises to be one of the more boisterous productions.

"It's about a Catholic school choir who end up on a boozy night out, complete with flaming sambas and fireworks," artistic director Paul Fahy explained.

Earlier in the week, I nipped along to the Irish Film Institute for a slightly more refined show - the preview of Whit Stillman's period romp Love & Friendship.

Based on lesser known Jane Austen novella Lady Susan, the film was shot in and around Newbridge and Russborough House and stars Kate Beckinsale and supercool fashion icon Chloe Sevigny.

Acclaimed director Whit, who worked on cult Manhattanite film Metropolitan, waxed lyrical about the Irish countryside once the film had drawn to a close.

"I would definitely work in Ireland again," he told the crowd.

"The film is going down sensationally well - it's gangbusters in the States, I couldn't have asked for better."

Bravado, banter and Bajan breaks for Leinster boys

Kirsty Blake Knox

Rugby boys and bravado - is there a happier union? If there is, let me know. 

Ireland and Leinster rugby star Jordi Murphy and his dog Kobe. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan

True to form, Jordi Murphy, above, was full of chat about the importance of "bragging rights" ahead of Leinster's clash with Connacht this afternoon in Bonnie Scotland. "You don't want your neighbours down the road having one up on you," he said. "It's all about the bragging rights."

This week, Jordi was pleased to hear he's made the cut for Joe Schmidt's 32-strong squad and will head to South Africa next month to face the Springboks.

After which the flanker will enjoy a well-deserved break.

Several of his fellow Leinster teammates are heading over to the luxury five-star Sandy Lane resort in Barbados - courtesy of billionaire JP McManus, who co-owns the hotel with Dermot Desmond and John Magnier.

"A few of the lads are going alright," he said at the launch of Pedigree Ireland's 'Feed Their Big Personality' campaign. Jordi posed for pictures with his trusty dog Kobe. "I've had him for three years. He's laid-back and dopey - a bit like me," he joked.

Pesto, ponies and a happy pair

Bairbre Power

Patrick Magee, country operations manager at Renault Ireland, hosted a fun dinner at the ­Talavera restaurant in the Radisson St ­Helen's in Dublin before we all took off for RTÉ and Ryan Tubridy's ­penultimate Late Late of the season.

It turned out to be a family affair as Renault ambassadors, the Happy Pear boys David and Stephen Flynn, were on the show and we all went home with bags of their yummy pesto.

The Irish equestrian industry and Dublin's social scene came together to promote the new July dates (Wednesday, July 20 to Sunday, July 24) for the iconic Dublin Horse Show.

Guests enjoyed an exclusive drinks and canapé reception at Dublin's Farrier & Draper on South William Street, hosted by Michael Duffy, CEO of the RDS.

The Show Pony cocktail went down a treat with guests at the launch of the 2016 show, which is earlier this year because of the Olympics.

Guests included Robert Splaine, high performance manager of the Irish show jumping team, and other equestrian fans included former TD and party leader Lucinda Creighton.

I caught up with Tamso Doyle from Baroda Stud in Newbridge and her very good pal Keira Kennedy, one half of the KDK scarf brand.

And the mistress wore ... polka dots and frills

Kirsty Blake Knox

Ever wondered how 'The Other Woman' dresses? Well designer Peter O'Brien has the answer. "In an orgy of polka dot frills and chiffon," he says confidently.

O'Brien (below) is designing all the "posh frocks" for the Gate Theatre's upcoming production of The Constant Wife.

Designer Peter O'Brien

Somerset Maugham's classic play is all about a loyal wife whom - to quote Tammy Wynette - stands by her man even though he's having it off with her BFF - the scandal!

"It's a great play," he said. "Plenty of plot twists."

While he's enjoying working on the elaborate ensembles, O'Brien's own aesthetic is much more subdued.

"If I had my way, everyone would dress like a nun, I love wimples and detest glamour but that's just me."

O'Brien, has just returned from Porto where he was busy adding the finishing touches to his upcoming collection for Arnotts. "We will have the big reveal soon," he promised.

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