Friday, December 20, 2013

The Sausage, Egg and Cheese Cure.

After I'd spent about 6 solid hours trying to quench the indigestion that was brought on from a skelp of pints topped off with a 24 hour garage 'Salad' sandwich (duly stuffed with a packet of crisps), my weary body informed me that sausage sandwiches would be the requirement of the afternoon.
I'm fussy of late when it comes to sausages, I like the good quality ones but none of those apple or red wine infused excuses, I've yet to meet one of them I can get on with. There's no need for that messing. For this I used plain Nolan's (of Kilcullen, Co.Kildare, naturally) Sausages. They're the business. Cue roars of "Have you not tried Superquinn sausages?!?" Yes I have. Settle down, they're lovely. They're like Willie Nelson, Michael Collins and The 2nd (Bale) Batman movie all rolled into one. But they're a little hard to come by in my part of the world, and until I put them side by side and am proved differently I'll argue that Nolan's are just as good. End of.

Fry up them sausages, like a good lad!

I hadn't planned on on this particular variety of sausage sandwich, which on appearances might appear to be a homage to an item Mickey D's pedal on their breakfast menu (with the manky rubber egg disc thing), but Easi Singles were on a special offer and well, what are you gonna do? At first I wasn't going to risk an egg in this too, but sure fuck it, it's Christmas, may as well.

I'd seriously advise not going for a higher class of cheese in this beast, melted processed cheese and good sausage meat together is, if you haven't already tasted it, aces.

One and a half slices on each. Cover every inch. No Fear.

Right, with your sausages nearly done, toast a couple of slices of bread then cover them in cheese slices and slide them under a grill for a few minutes till the cheese starts to bubble and gets that nice, enticing, plasticy, cling film sheen that makes you question whether you unwrapped the cheese in the first place.

Yes, I did take a bite out of a sausage before it went into the sandwich. 

This is where you have to take a little care. Everything needs to be hot, but, crucially, not boiling hot. Don't be afraid to let the toast sit out for a couple of minutes, that cheese needs to cool a good bit from its molten level before it hits your mouth. A burned mouth is very uncool, pun intended. It's best to only fry the egg only when the cheesy toast is out and cooling down, you want the egg landing on the sandwich straight from the pan so it's as fresh as possible. Lash the sausages on one side, the fried egg the other. Close it up and you're away. 

Like I always say, "an egg yoke the consistency of a nose bleed is what you're after"

Give it another minute, there's no rush, let the cheese get to know the sausage and egg before its timely end.

Dig in and savour it. It's delicious. Rich is the word here. A really rich flavour, the gooey cheese mingling in with the sausages in a not unromantic fashion, just beautiful. And the egg? It's like an extra 10 euro credit, topping up the richness level. The boring white part joining forces with the gluey melted cheese to form an amazing taste and texture. It's a party.
Now at some point you will get the distinct feeling that maybe you've "gone a little too far, this time". Don't mind those thoughts, it's only The Fear trying to put the spooks up you. You finish this sandwich and you'll finish The Fear, for the day anyway. 
I tested this in my normal capacity by immediately making and eating a second one just in case the first was a fluke or if I was just letting my emotions get the better of me. It wasn't and I wasn't. Don't eat one (or two) of these on a work day, there'll be no 'joie de vivre' to take on the world after this. You'll be resigned to the couch for the day with a 2 litre bottle of fizzy drink and a large Turkish Delight, but it'll be some day.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Beans à la Boozey

Being absolutely devoid of the energy it would of taken to drag myself across the road to the shop this afternoon I was utterly relieved to find both bread and beans in the house so worst case scenario I wasn't going to starve or (even worse) have to resort to weetabix.
Feeling a little fancy and having been given the advice a couple of years ago that beans were something you could "fuck absolutely anything into" to make them better I decided I deserved better and so would test this theory out.
With what, at first, seemed to be limited resources at my disposal I managed to find a shallot (a red onion that went to Newbridge College), cheese (red and white cheddar), a couple of rashers and some black pepper, cayenne chilli pepper and chilli flakes to give it a bit of life. We were doing ok. We. Were. Doing. O.K. 

I started this adventure by sticking a couple of rashers under the grill and throwing the beans into a saucepan. I initially thought I may have been a little hasty with the beans as they heated up very quickly but I turned the heat down and let them simmer which made them really tender and soft and actually worked really well with this concoction. I chopped up the shallot and fried it in some olive oil. Well more accurately I burned it in some olive oil, I don't worry about things like that though, it was grand.
With the rashers crisping up nicely under the grill I stirred in a mix of red and white cheddar (if this wasn't in the house an easy single would have been going in) along with the slightly over done shallot and a good dose of the chilli's and pepper. Next I finely chopped up one of the rashers and stirred it in too and transferred the lot into a bowl and topped it all off with some more grated cheese and the other rasher which I cut into strips.


Not that I have any problem with regular beans on toast, I love the stuff, but the substance I tasted couldn't have tasted further from them. With a very small bit of effort and few basic ingredients (a regular onion will do in place of the shallot) a simple tin of beans can be turned into an absolutely spectacular meal (The flavour of the crisped up fat from the rashers hitting you every couple of bites is unreal). I ate this with 4 or 5 slices of well buttered brown toast and the belly was well and truly happy and content for the rest of the day. 

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tangle Twister Daiquiri

Let's skip the bit where I analyse my life and point out how a man of my age needs to get a drivers licence, tax, insurance, a mortgage, a strimmer, an Xtra-vision card and a collection of hobbies that don't involve making alcoholic versions of my favourite childhood ice pops. Those boats have sailed. When I'm faced with a Monday evening on my own in early September in a landlocked county in Ireland this is the type of shit that's gonna go down.

Tangle Twisters.
I won't now, never have and may God strike me down if I ever do drop the 'Tangle' from this, the most wonderful Twister, as much as HB would like me, and the rest of us, to. Because, by Jaysus, you'll be fairly Tangled after this Twister I can tell you. Ha... Haha.. No?.. Sorry, I've drink in me.

I'd been thinking about my next cocktail move after my Jägerbomb Ice Cream and decided that instead of ice creaming up a drink, I'd alcohol up an ice cream. If you get me? You do. Grand. We'll move on.

Well we'll move back a little bit first I suppose, a bit of history...
I first encountered a Daiquiri, a strawberry one to be exact, while on a skiing trip with my friends Ciarán and Rob in New Hampshire in late 2005. We were staying in a motel 5 miles from the middle of fuck all and quickly realised the place up the road, The Indian Head, had much better facilities than the ones we were living in. Every night after we'd left the slopes (the variety of slopes I was sticking to weren't unlike those of The Curragh Plains) we'd head up the road to The Head, shoot some pool (as they say in The States), drink beer and inevitably I'd get the notion to get a cocktail.
Even though this was the time of the Celtic Tiger and we were all going around wiping our arses with pesto laden half pounders and lighting our farts with tenners, Strawberry Daiquiris weren't the everyday feature of the Irish pub/club cocktail menu that they are now. This was all brand new to me and I was in love, I didn't care that they weren't cool or manly, I wanted an alcoholic slush puppy to go with the bottle of piss American beer I was thoroughly enjoying.

Which brings me back (or forward, I'm remarkably confused) to the Tangle Twister. A tube of frozen Strawberry (the best fruit) spectacularness, wrapped in a load of  pineapple (the 2nd best fruit) ice cream and pear (the somewhere between 3rd and 7th best fruit, my ranking system is in its early days) icepop.
Every ingredient here is a prime candidate for daiquiri-ing.

After much thought and consideration I decided this set of ingredients and tools would serve me best; fresh strawberries, tinned pears and pineapples(just to avoid the hardship of pealing those pricks), a hand blender and a few other bits. And of course the obligatory Rum.

The first thing I did was pour a large rum and coke just to make sure the Bacardi hadn't gone off, it hadn't, then I  trimmed the hedges off most of the strawberries and threw them into the blender.

I topped them off with some caster sugar and 3 measures of Bacardi rum (that may have been excessive) and blended it all up till it looked like something you'd find in a butchers drain.


Contents poured into a plastic container and ready for freezing I moved on to the pear tangle.

This time into the blender went a couple of tinned pear halves (with some juice), a fair aul swig of a decent pear cider, 2 measures of rum, another dose of sugar and a lob of green food colouring to bring it up to a shade that would bring a tear of joy to Derek Warfield's eye.

Do as with the strawberry solution...

The next job is is to make some soft serve pineapple ice cream. 

I let some vanilla ice cream melt a bit then I added in 3 rings of tinned pineapple along with some of the juice (I had planned to buy some cream for this part but I got distracted in the shop), then I thought I might as well fire a couple of measures of rum into the ice cream as well because, sure, you know, fuck it, we're partying now lads.

I should mention that I tasted everything immediately after blending to see if I got the balance of ingredients right. More rum was the general consensus. 

Now in the interest of "waste not, want not" I decided to soak some of the remaining fruit in a combination of rum and pear cider for a little while.

I then drained off the excess alcohol and put the 4 containers in the freezer for a couple of hours...

The excess fruity cider rum combo I drained off from the fruit made a nice little appetizer for the main event / reward for all my hard work thus far...

I sipped away on this along with most of a bottle of cider and a rum and coke and the following 2 hours passed by in what seemed like a flash...

I got lucky with the timing, they were solid but hadn't turned into cement-like blocks of ice. I gave each 10 seconds in the microwave and they were easy to mush up with a spoon without going too watery.

I used one of these icing syringes (which I duly broke in the process) to dispense the ice cream layers. 

The pear and strawberry layers were layered in with a spoon.

Serve with a side of rum and cider infused frozen fruit and you're all set. Spoon or straw, it's your choice. Not suitable for children or adults with any responsibilities... Each of these contained about 3 and a half shots of rum not including the alcohol suspended in the veins of the frozen fruit, the double measure in the coke, the majority of the large bottle of cider and the rum/cider/fruit juice bonus cocktail... so be careful, no driving, don't even watch a Fast and Furious film after this.  
Good Night.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Boozey Swine Signature Range: The Manhattan Melt

I'm delighted to be working with Judge Roy Beans to create "The Boozey Swine Signature Range". JRB's has long been a favourite establishment of mine for a bit of foundation before a night out as well as a delicious and comforting cure as the dust settles the next day and I'm very happy to align my, frankly terrible, name with a restaurant known for their consistent quality and high standards.
The first item (update 2017 - most likely last) we'll be bringing to you is 'The Manhattan Melt' (well done to Conal Dolan for winning the naming competition; I've melted many a time in Manhattan, both literally and figuratively), a ciabatta roll stuffed with mince infused with peppers, onions and jalapeños topped with melted cheese, cool guacamole and tomato along with a few other secret ingredients.

I've taken inspiration from a number of different sandwiches I've had in America over the years for this one and I've added a couple of twists of my own, hopefully bringing something that is out of the ordinary to what you'd usually find in Ireland. The guacamole and mince add a bit of a different (and scrumptious) dimension  to what you'd usually find inside a ciabatta... Make full and considered use of your napkin on this fella as he's a messy one.

By the way I'd also like to draw attention to the side of coleslaw and onion straws. These two items eaten together in the same mouthful. Best thing ever. Simple as that.

Order it up with a nice beer or if you're feeling fancy, a cocktail. I was always a man who was terrible fond of the Strawberry Daiquiri's but since I've tasted the Solero cocktail the daiquiri has fallen into the silver medal position if I'm to be honest.

Oh and to accommodate the typical Irish fashion of ordering items by anything other than what they are actually called, if you order a "Boozey sandwich", "a Boozey meltdown", "One of them Boozey yokes" or something even remotely similar like I've already heard numerous reports of, the staff will be kind enough to oblige you and be most polite in correcting your grevious error.

Many Thanks
The Booze

All photos by Stephen Connelly. 'The Boozey Swine Signature Range' and 'The Manhattan Melt' graphic by Joe Butler @ Film 13 Ltd

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Boozey Booze: Jägerbomb Ice Cream

Epiphany - A moment of great or sudden revelation.

I had one of those the other night. 

It had been in the spare bedroom of my mind for some time to incorporate Jägermeister with ice cream when I realised there'll probably be very few days left this summer to enjoy such a treat. I asked myself how I could do this and like a flash this appeared in my mind. There's no explanation for it. The fully formed idea was just there all of a sudden. 
Like a gift from the God of drink.

I'll be blatantly honest and also give away the ending while I'm at it. I had zero hope for this working out. 

I was wrong. This is what I want to be remembered for. It's that good. 

Right here is my gift to humanity. 

No hidden ingredients in this one, just Jägermeister, Red Bull and Vanilla Ice Cream.

The trick is freezing the can of Red Bull. It'll take a while but it's worth it. Just pour it into a plastic (microwavable) container and stick in in the freezer for a few hours. I honestly don't know how long it takes, I put mine in the freezer at 9.30pm, retreated to the boozer, returned home at 1.30am and it was done. It is a bit of a pain but theoretically you could fill a few unused freezer drawers with mounds of these things... That'd be a beautiful sight. 

Next trick... give the solid block 10 or 15 seconds in the microwave and you've got this wonderful Red Bull slush.

Fill the necessary amount of glasses halfway with the icey slush, you'll get about 3 servings out of a standard can and a 100ml Jäger bottle. 

Throw in a scoop of ice cream (I blasted the ice cream for 20 seconds in the microwave to soften it up a bit) then drizzle over a shot of Jägermeister.

Stick in a spoon and a couple of straws, mixed it around a bit, then lose your fucking mind when you taste how unbelievably delicious this is. The creaminess of the ice cream works so bloody well with the Jägerbomb taste. It's an absolute delight.

You're welcome

The Boozey Swine.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hangover Hazard: Shit At Shopping.

If I'm feeling a little rough on a Sunday evening I generally tackle the problem with a phone call to any one of a number of local businesses who are well stocked in either the curry or garlic sauce department...
Regardless of the state I'm in on a Monday I'll generally go to the shops and buy a few bits for the dinner... Just to get out of the house, like. On an all too regular basis, especially when the cursed horrors still have a tight grip on my emotions, I come home with absolutely nothing of significant value, nutritional or otherwise.
Case in point: Last Monday.

  • Wraps 
  • Cream cheese (I had the above regular cheese already, luckily enough)  
  • Crispy onion bits 
  • 6 packets of crisps 
That. was. fucking. it.

I'm not a young lad any more friends, this shit ain't excusable. The old brain cells really did hop on the mitch on this occasion. Although that being said, it is one of my ambitions to go on Ready Steady Cook with such an assortment of shite.

I decided to suffer on and make the most of this misspent (both time and money) endeavour and form the ingredients into some kind of super cheese & onion crisp sandwich that's wrapped in something that if I'd ever seen one as a child (a tortilla wrap in 80's Ireland?) I'd have presumed was a giant crisp (or possibly one of those big holy communions).

On the left you'll see I've slathered on some cream cheese with wild abondon, sprinkled it amorously with grated cheese then beautified the whole lot with crispy onion bits.
Sorry, I went a bit Nigella on that last sentence, moving on...
On the right is the result of 20 or 30 seconds in the microwave (it could have been a minute or 2 in the oven, I tried both ways with similar results).

Next I crushed up a bag of Walkers C & O and threw them on top. If you're using another brand you might only need half a bag but since the actual precise scientific measurement for how many crisps are in a bag of Walkers is 'Fuck All' I used a full bag.

That's it, wrap it up. There's no way of making this look any more wholesome than it is. You could garnish it with 20 Major if you wanted to quickly double the nutritional value though.

There's no easy way to describe eating this. I suppose the overriding emotion I felt was shame...
There's no supposing. It was shame. SHAME.
The tastes were all familiar, yet, never before had they been presented to my tongue without being backed up with something you could class as food. I immediately felt a hollowness in my stomach, not that I was going to get sick, more of a 'what the fuck are you doing to us' vibe. It tasted fine,I suppose, there was not one part that stood out as offensive, yet all together, offended was exactly how it felt. I made a second one just to be sure.
My mood was unusual for the rest of the night. 

I thought I'd look back at this 'cheese & onion crisps with cheeses and onions inside a thing that looks like a giant crisp' thing and laugh. I haven't yet and don't expect to any time soon. I'm not proud of what I've done. This isn't a blog post so much as it is an exercise in self inflicted public humiliation with the hopes that it won't be repeated again by you or me. 
Do not try this at home.

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Monday, June 17, 2013

The KC Special

I was asked last week to be a guest on The KC Show on Today FM during their broadcast from the 'Taste of Dublin' festival. The premise was simple:  Be interviewed on national radio and in front of a live audience at a posh food festival full of internationally renowned chefs about this absolute car crash of a blog and then make a sandwich for one of my hero's, Damien Dempsey.
No Problem. Want me to do it as gaeilge and with a bag of spiders in my pocket as well lads?
After I'd spent a couple of nights trying to settle the nerves by looking after my local publican's next mortgage payment it became apparent that I'd have no choice but to make a sandwich which would be curing the hollow feelings in my belly and soul. I worked off the principal that it had to be utterly distracting, that your mind would have no choice but to be completely taken over by the collection of tastes, flavours and textures, and thus away from that bastard of a hangover. I had to cover all bases but not overdo it at the same time; it may look to the cynical eye that I've just made a mess of a sandwich by firing everything I could think of into it but that is most definitely not the case. Everything here serves a purpose.

I'll get straight to the extensive list of ingredients used to make one of these fella's.

  • Soft White Sub Rolls (I used Marks & Spencer ones, how very rich of me)
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard (Colman's English) 
  • White Cheedar Cheese (Kilmeaden Light Green or Purple block is best)
  • Tomato
  • Rocket
  • Scallion
  • Coleslaw
  • Crispy Onion Bits (they come in a tub, your local supermarket should have them)
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Ham (Brady's glazed is what I used)
  • Sliced Spanish Chorizo
  • Italian Salami
  • Cheese & Onion Crisps (I used King on this occasion)
Start off by splitting the roll in half. If you're the proud owner of an electric toaster give both halves a blast in it for about 45 seconds, not for the purpose of toasting, just enough to warm them through. This really gives a soft roll an extra bit of magic in the mouth department.

The order of assembly is quite important and without going into sandwich nerd mode this is what I think works best.

Start off by spreading mayonnaise on both halves, If you don't like mayonnaise you'd probably be best off reading a different blog. On the bottom half  put a little squirt of the mustard and spread it out evenly, the mayo will dilute its strength which would otherwise be a little too distressing for the sensitive hungover palate.
On top of this put three slices of salami, two slices of chorizo (halved) and three slices of tomato.
On the top half of the roll put about 6 slices of cheese of a thickness of your preference, I aim for a cut of about 1.5 to 2mm, then 2 slices of the Irish ham.

Next up absolutely destroy the tomatoes with pepper. I don't put any salt on them because I'm very health concious but I'm sure a little would be no harm if that's your pleasure. Put a generous amount of rocket on top of the tomatoes.
Cut the scallion into thin slices and put them on top of the ham side along with a liberal sprinkling of the crispy onions, don't be afraid that you're putting on too many as they'll need good numbers to break through the next ingredient: The Coleslaw. Coleslaw is a dangerous substance in a sandwich, it's delicious but it completely overpowers everything around it and since this sandwich has no defining central ingredient that you want to stand out you have to be careful with it. The amount above is the absolute most you should put on, I was on my 4th pint and God only knows how many free shot glasses of wine at the time so I was maybe a little too generous.

Which brings me nicely along to the next and final step in creating this monstrosity. Crisps. I've spoken at length before about crisp sandwiches but allow me to reiterate a few points:

  • Go with Cheese & Onion, other flavours just aren't as good in a sandwich, simple as that. 
  • The brand choice is paramount, Walkers had always been my favourite for this purpose but they've changed the recipe lately and now I'm not so sure so I went for the old reliable King crisp. Don't be tempted to go with fancy artisan brands, they're grand when you're eating them from the bag but their stronger flavour, harder texture and thickness do not suit a sandwich in my opinion. 
  • Coleslaw and crisps together is the greatest thing since (I am not going to say it), seriously, put some in your next crisp sandwich. Also in a sandwich like this the coleslaw acts as a glue holding the crisps in place, which is convenient.
  • Quantity. Don't go overboard, break up a handful of crisps, the amount above is a good guideline.

That's it, close it up and you're done. Just approach the nearest physically intimidating celebrity, hand it to him and stand nervously to one side while he silently chews his first bite all the while giving away no clue as to whether he's going to take a second bite or spit it out...

He took a second bite. Thanks be to Jaysus. He opened his mouth to speak and out came one, short, music to my ears declaration:

"It's a beauty"

...and with that I could consider the day a success. I'd like to say a huge thank you to KC, Ann, Adelle and Lenny for the opportunity to surely be the first person to walk through the gates of Taste of Dublin (or any other food festival for that matter) with a 6 pack of King crisps under their arm, Damien Dempsey who was, as always, a pleasure and an absolute gentleman and to Stephen Connelly and Tim Crowley for taking these photos and bringing me pints respectively. 

I'd also like to give a big shout out to Jean-Christophe Novelli who I met after the show and wanted to have a picture taken with me, he's a big fan of my work and someday dreams of making it as a chef. Never give up Jean-Christophe. Never give up.

Here's a bit of Mr. Dempsey to sooth the soul. Thanks for reading, and don't be afraid to give the page an aul like or a follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rasher Sandwich Bagel ( A 1am Kitchen Raid Victory)

I had a bit of a route around the kitchen last night to see if there was the makings of a sandwich and hit the blessed trinity of ingredients.

  • Good bread.
  • Good cheese.
  • Rashers.
In this case sesame seed bagels, decent white cheddar cheese (Kilmeaden purple block) and a full packet of rashers. This is very similar to a rasher sandwich I put up here before but I will repeat myself without guilt if only to hammer home the point that when someone asks you do you want red sauce or brown sauce on your rasher sandwich your reply should always be "I'll have cheese and mayonnaise please".

A halved and lightly toasted bagel generously spread with mayonnaise on both sides filled with 3 rashers and plenty of good cheese is a pleasure in life that I guarantee you will repeat until you shuffle off your mortal coil (which could be sooner rather than later if you keep eating these). If there's a bit of cream cheese knocking around fire that in too, any kind of rocket or spinach leaves in the gaf? By all means go for it... This is all I had so this is how I rolled (or in this case bageled).

Throw a bit of coleslaw and a packet of cheese & onion crisps on the side to really set that shit off and you've got a meal fit for any man, woman or unhealthy child. I seriously don't know how they're not packaging coleslaw and cheese & onion crisps together in some form or other yet, they were born for each other, they're like some non alcoholic yet just as damaging food version of Red Bull and Vodka.


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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Preview: Brunch With Boozey. Happy Valley Festival Sunday 2nd June.

This weekend 'Feeding time with...' will be making it's first festival appearance in the form of 
'Brunch with Boozey' at the 'Happy Valley Festival' in Thomastown in Co. Kilkenny.

To say that Thomastown is close to my heart would be a major understatement. In the close to 10 years that I've been visiting this beautiful wild town on the banks of the River Nore I've had a lot of the best times of my life and made countless life long friends in the process. 

The pinnacle of the great festivals on offer here every year is the 'Happy Valley Festival', like everything in Thomastown there's really only a rough guideline as to when it starts and ends but every June Bank Holiday weekend for years I've been making a pilgrimage to partake in and attempt to survive its madness.

This year will be no different except I've been kindly asked to kick off proceedings at the infamous 15 for €15 show in Murphy's that takes place all day Sunday with 'Brunch with Boozey' which will entail amongst other things food for everyone who arrives early AND a Sandwich Competition which is open to anyone attending and all musicians playing during the day. All you have to do is bring a Sandwich to the gig and myself and my panel of esteemed judges will decide how it rates alongside all the others. There will be 2 (drink related) prizes, one for best tasting sandwich and one for the maddest sandwich. Of course I'll insist on having a shot of the winners prize with them, it's only fair.
Also at some point in the day (sobriety permitting)  I'll have a rummage through the pub kitchen, and failing that anywhere else in the town, and construct a Happy Valley inspired sandwich for anyone who fancies a bit of an afternoon snack. 

To keep up with the latest info on this event like or a follow on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for a full run down on everything at Happy Valley visit

Looking forward to seeing you there and sharing in a bit of the joyous madness.

B. Swine.

Van Sandwiches: Knoxville Morning Tour Apr '13

Ah life on the open road... The joy and excitement of not having to play by societies rules... Will it be one hour or four hours before we happen upon another roadside service station and the inevitable ham & cheese sandwich from the fridge?... That absolute certainty that you'll be eating those poxy paprika crisps along with it... Will the admission charge to the next soulless service station toilets be 70c or will I hit the jackpot and only be charged 50c?... What insane amount of money will the French extort from us to pass through the next toll bridge?... Will the smell of farts ever leave the van?... Will I ever get sick of Mezzo Mix?... What a great way to live.

Here's a sample of the culinary joys I was subjected to on a daily basis and grew to love and loathe in varying measures while living out of a van with my friends as we travelled around some of Europe.

Ireland. Lunch time and we pointed the van out of Newbridge in the direction of Rosslare Harbour. Not wanting to ruin my dinner in a couple of hours I'd make do with a packet of Ripples and what would be my last bottle of Lucozade for nearly 2 and a half weeks. I followed this up with a pint of Guinness in Enniscorthy while watching a bit of football and a bag of cans at the last off-license before the harbour, all of which turned out to be bad ideas considering we didn't so much sail to France as jostle with the sea like two pissed 18 year old lads would outside a niteclub on a Saturday night, both as equally afraid to throw the first punch as they are to lose face in front of their girlfriends. Not a pleasant 18 hour crossing.

We hit the ground running wanting to make our first destination of Amsterdam in good time, of course this didn't happen, primarily due to the nation of Belgium just being one long drawn out traffic jam. We did manage to pull into some brand of a service station in France before this where I purchased the above combination of bread and potatoes whilst exhausting my full arsenal of the French language over the duration of the transaction. Not expecting a whole lot from either I got roughly what I expected. Bolognese crisps aren't going to be drawing you away from Cheese & Onion should they try to fob them off on us any time soon. The sandwich was never going to win any awards, it was my boundless optimism that the French are enjoying a better standard of garage snack to us that set me up for this minor disappointment. 

A special mention needs to go out to the this gear, Mezzo Mix. Lucozade being my morning kick starter of choice for many years I often struggle when abroad to find a suitable alternative. I'd gotten numerous messages to try this orange flavoured cola, which is in abundant supply throughout Germany, and while expecting to be sickened by it I was more than drawn in to its subtle and endearingly flavoursome beauty. It got me out of many a minor hangover over the following weeks.

I can honestly say that my only culinary disappointment with the entirety of my time in Germany, and I'm sure my compadres would agree with me on this, is that there is severe hardship involved in locating a crisp that is not Paprika flavoured. This isn't a problem for the first or maybe second packet but by Jaysus they soon wear very thin on the taste buds. This sandwich was quite similar to it's French counterpart apart form the inclusion of Salami in place of the Jambon (that being 'Ham' and not the delicacy that it refers to in Ireland). The salad dressing was nice and spicy thanks to some red peppers and jalapeños but I did it no favours by letting it sit in a scorching hot van for a half an hour before consumption. 

There's not a lot to say about this. Just a pastry with some bog standard tomato bolognese sauce in it and the obligatory large bag of Paprika's. Germany proceeded to hit me with the above scenarios (and some very similar variants) for the duration of our stay... Then we crossed back over the border into France...

About 5 minutes over the German/France border we stopped into the first garage we saw. Equal parts delighted with the varieties of crisps on display and pissed off with the only sandwich available to me I set about making the most of the situation...

By constructing this monstrosity. 

At some point along the trip a bottle of hot sauce found its way into the belly of our 4 wheeled beast and I thought this would be the catalyst to make this utterly boring French cheese roll topped with Cheeseburger crisps (they tasted exactly like a Micky D's cheeseburger, decide for yourself if this is a good or bad thing) into something a little more exciting. I was wrong, it was a hardship that set me up not very nicely for the 6 hour drive to Paris. Bad Buzz.

Why break the habit? Last day and 15 minutes from Cherbourg and the ferry home we made our final stop off. While the lads set about buying enough bottles of wine to capsize the ferry I made a lonely venture around the massive supermarket hoping against all hope that I might see a sandwich that was more appealing than the previous weeks Ham & Cheese, clearly I didn't. I decided the only thing to make it interesting would be to consume it with Ham & Cheese flavour crisps, or in this case the nearest I could find to crisps being some kind of own brand snacks they called 'Monster Munch' that bore little physical or tastual resemblance to any Monster Munch I've eaten before. All in all I had hoped for more from the garages of Europe, but that's just the way it goes... Thankfully the food we had outside the van was worlds apart from this hardship, I'll tell you all about that very soon in Part 2...


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