For those who have not been, Galway is a fabulous place, it exudes the energy of a small seaside town, though a densely populated one. There are some lovely places to eat (one which inspired the recipe below), extraordinary beer bars, a great ‘local’ beer and as many white people with dreadlocks in one place as I have seen in my life. Perhaps Galway is the site of a localised Hibernian resurgence of reggae inspired Zionism, or perhaps there is poor availability of conditioner, in which case the much maligned winner of best blog of the year could probably be of assistance.
The awards themselves were a very glamorous affair, well organised, with a satisfying number of shocking scandals, including The Beer Nut being captured on camera holding a pint of cooking stout (admittedly it was mine), my hair being trumped in volume and lustre by the enchanting Panti (less of a shock) and 9 Bean Row unwieldily winning best newcomer. In my astonishment I managed to totter up to the stage to collect my trophy, stammer a couple of incoherent sentences, simper like a fool and get back to my seat without doing anyone an injury, fortunate considering the trophy was a lovely crystal affair which could inflict significant damage if brought down with a jolt on someone’s head.
My award, out and about adventuring, it is a bit of a free spirit.
Well done to all the winners, and thanks to the organisers and judges. It was a great event to be involved in and I am still teetering about a little bit awed by the win. The day after the awards Mr 9BR and I went for a celebratory breakfast at Ard Bia where I had the most flamboyantly coloured soup I have ever had the pleasure of eating. Fuchsia in colour, and densely earthy in flavour featuring one of my favourite ingredients, beetroot which was blended seamlessly with cumin to create a soup which I have been trying to replicate all week. The recipe below is a good approximation, but if using younger (and hence sweeter) beets you may need to mess around with the seasonings slightly.
I like to imagine you can tell the age of the beets from their rings, like trees.
15 grams (1 Tsp) butter or olive oil
2 shallots thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1.5 L (6 cups) of stock, I used turkey stock I had frozen from Christmas, but vegetable or chicken would work also
750 grams (or about 4 cricket ball sized) beetroot, sliced into 1.5cm slices
10 grams (1 tsp) of cumin seeds
10 grams (1 tsp) of coriander seed
15 grams (1 tsp) peppercorns (I used white, but pink would be fitting too)
60mL (3 Tsp) of natural yoghurt
Parsley to serve (optional)
Medium (2.5 L) pot
Small frying pan
Mortar and pestle
Serves 6 as a starter, 4 as a light lunch.
In a largish pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the shallots and garlic, cooking until soft, about five minutes.
Add the sliced beetroot and toss to mix through, then add the stock.
Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer cooking until the beetroot is soft when tested with the tip of a knife, this should take about 10-15 minutes depending on the ‘woodiness’ of the beetroot (older/bigger beets will take longer to cook).
In the meantime, place the spices and pepper over a medium heat in a saucepan and toast lightly, for about five minutes. Remove from heat and crush spices roughly with a mortar and pestle.
Remove the beetroot from the heat and using hand blender, blend until smooth and then mix through the crushed spices and the yoghurt, reserving one teaspoon for serving. Return pot to heat and warm through before serving in bowls topped with a blob of yoghurt and chopped parsley.