Publicis Team

NCI Social Media & Online PR is off to a great start!

My new semester at NCI is now in it's third week and as always a great mix of business owners, new graduates, corporate managers and people from all disciplines (marketing, sales, finance and IT).  Although individual requirements are different, the basic principles of running successful social media & publishing relevant content, are the same across all industries.  This week I am running through Coca Cola 2020 - if you haven't yet seen their YouTube channel and 'CocaCola Content 2020' animations I'd urge you to take a look!  Pretty impressive stuff, and demonstrating how much time, resources and strategic budgets Coke are putting into this world.  

Business & Finance on shelves now!

Was delighted to cover Content Marketing concepts and tips for Business & Finance's latest edition.  I looked at what some of the bigger companies like Coca Cola were doing and distilled the lessons and tips so that smaller companies, such as the majority of Irish companies, could apply them in their social media strategies.  A few good pointers in there for creating and developing an easy-to-post content plan for your social profiles.

Pick up your copy today :)  

Social media works really well for food producers -find out why..

Tasty Foodie Bytes

Feature on Irish artisan food producers successfully using social media.  This time I interviews leading chef, surfing granola-maker and rural pork butcher.

First a preview of my top ten golden rules for successfully using social media to promote your business...

Food for thought:  Tips for using social media effectively

  • It's all about the content and the context in which it's used.  Make it relevant and interesting; it should educate, provoke or entertain. 
  • Stay true to who you are and what you’re about.  Focus on your passion or your brand and share that passion, knowledge and experience.
  • Adopt a tone and keep it consistent -one voice / personality that is adapted across each of the social media channels.
  • Post timely and regularly, morning, mid-afternoon and late evening work well.
  • Keep posts short and concise.
  •  Use a mix of imagery, video and interactive elements.
  • Make the medium work for you!  Use Facebook tools: polling function, RSVP function, photo- sharing and the ‘Like’ button. Likewise with Twitter, avail of shortlinks (eg bitly) and image software (eg Instagram) to tweet out your content.
  • On Twitter, follow key influencers in the industry and engage with peer groups.  Build your profile in the circles that matter to you and your brand.
  • Reply, respond and engage.  These are two-way communication channels.  If someone phoned you, you wouldn't hang up so apply this same logic here!
  • Harness the community; ask them questions, gather their feedback, see what they like / want.  Social media is a powerful research and profiling tool to learn more about your customers.
Read the full article here....

Why we need to keep Xmas office parties!

Joy to the World

I loved that ad, you know the one where all the girls are getting ready at the office – straightners plugged in under the desk, computer screens used as makeshift mirrors and work shoes swapped for party heels.  It really captures the atmosphere amongst the office gang before the Christmas party.  And although the girls are in a makeover frenzy, a loosened tie is the guys’ only concession to the festive celebrations. The priority is to get moving and get the pints in.

Around this time there is always keen debate in the Irish press as to whether the office party should be banned or not.  Almost likened to some kind of horrific blood sport, the office do is pulled apart and declared too dangerous and risky an undertaking.   For both employer and employee alike, stories emerge of lawsuits filed, grievances brought to bear, p45s issued and marriages broken.   And so the Irish working masses are told what NOT to do, ever, at the Christmas office party.

There are rules for both guys and girls but if we take the key action words it would seem the girls are more at risk of veering into the vunerable zone.  Rules include no hitting (the bottle or your boss), no asking (for a raise or any kind of recreational drugs), no flaunting (of underwear or sequinned Ibiza-inpsired clubwear), no over-talking, over-eating or over-dancing.  And absolutely, under no circumstances, let there ever be a Limbo moment.

It’s all very cautionary and finger-wagging.  Add to this the current economic situation where there is widespread talk of cancelling Christmas work parties altogether and the outlook is bleak.   So what can we do?   Right now, more than ever, we need a break from all the doom and gloom.  A time to shake loose and end 2012 on some kind of positive note.  But in its current sanitised, scrutinized and downsized state, the festive office party is in danger of extinction. 

Granted, the Christmas office gig won’t see the extravagance of Tiger-tastic yesteryear; the era of chocolate fountains, ice sculptures and spa treatments for staff is certainly over.  Instead it’s bring-your-own-beer style gatherings on the shopfloor.  Or thrify “Bake ‘n’ Bring” option where staff are invited to bake their own cakes and share the goods (No bun fights please).   Many companies have opted to scrap the gig completely and have a celebratory dinner in January instead.   Calling it “Happy January” in some cases I believe (a very brave combination of words considering if this month was a dwarf, it would certainly be Grumpy).

Indeed the concept of the festive office party has evolved somewhat over the years.  Back in the 70s and 80s, when the idea of corporate culture first came to light, the emphasis was on a happy environment.  A company needed happy employees, and happy employees needed to have fun. And the best way to have fun ?  Have a shindig!   Since then, it has manifested itself in various guises, ranging from Blue Nun passed around in plastic cups over the photocopier to the more lavish champagne receptions in quaint country manors.   Taking the theme of a happy workforce to the max, US ice-cream makers Ben & Jerry’s formed a “Joy Gang” to plan the company’s festive frolics.   Their remit was “to infuse joy" into everything that they did for staff events.  Sounds a little scary actually.  I’ve an image of a band of Merry Men brandishing clipboards and jotting down names of all staff members who are not making merry to the required levels. A sort of Smile Police for the staff party.  Creepy.  

These ice-cream moguls even put together a list of the top 30 business motivational songs, including numbers like "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" and "We Are Family."  A little extreme perhaps but we could do with some of that joy infusion on this fair isle right now.  In fact, we could also do with a motivational tune of our own, something to rally the working troops and get the silly back in the season. 

And I know just the song.....all together now.....
It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to”.

Interview with leading chef & restaurant owner Clodagh McKenna (published in Inbusiness Autumn 2012)

There's something about Clodagh

Sitting in her newly opened chic restaurant, Clodagh Mc Kenna is excited about what the future has to offer.  Launched last September in Arnotts, the Homemade by Clodagh brand is the latest in a long line of successes for this Cork-born businesswoman.  This banner comprises a food court, food market and Clodagh’s Kitchen, the bistro-style restaurant which opened in early June.

Clodagh’s career has spanned a variety of culinary-related activities, including an instrumental role in setting up farmers’ markets in both Cork and Dublin, wirting her own cookbooks, hosting cookery courses and TV presenting for various cookery programmes. She can now add restaurateur to this list. 

A self-confessed perfectionist when it comes to food, this attention to detail is also evident also in the thinking behind the Clodagh at Arnotts venture.  The ethos is simple: locally sourced food served at a consistently high standard in both the café and for purchase in the food hall.

Pitching for the space in Arnotts was a fairly lengthy process.  Nothing fell on my lap. The complete opposite. We fought for her for a year, baking cakes bringing them in proposals-everything and there was a lot of people trying to get this. They really had to believe in it.’

Such dogged determination also came into play when she got her first UK publishing deal with Kyle Cathie.  Same with my book, back and forth to London trying to get a deal. I said if I’m going to do It I need to get an agent who deals with chefs and she was the agent for Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay and Rick Stein and she said no to me.  So then once a month I’d send her over a packet of stuff from Ireland-updates, clips from appearances in UKTV food…I just pushed and pushed and pushed.’  Now working on her fourth book, Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries, due out in October this year, it's clear that this tenacity has paid off. 

She always wanted to open her own restaurant: ‘I’d always thought that I’d do a restaurant later in my career-something I’d do at 40 or 50. There was no plan.’  It’s more a culmination of the trajectory upon which she found herself when she returned to Ireland after 3 years in Italy.  Then aged 33, she refers to this as a turning point.  I really need to set up for myself.  It was time to make my own mark.’

To read more of this published article, click here...

Feature on fabulous West Cork food

Epic Trail

The climate in West Cork is unique and exotic and luxuriant vegetation grow in abundance here. Coupled with a long seafaring tradition, this part of the world has garnered a reputation as a centre of excellence for artisan food production.

Taking in the tropical-like coastline, where locals forrage for seaweed amid visiting grey seals, it’s hard to conceive of PR plans and long-term strategies.  But that is exactly what Stephen Sage has in his sights when he talks through West Cork Food Trails & Holiday Breaks. 

According to Stephen, their aim is to bring this craftmanship to people who ‘appreciate good food, how it’s produced and how it’s cooked’ through food-themed holidays, corporate outings, individual foodie pursuits or group outings.  A large part of their efforts are focussed online, promoting what the rgeion has to offer.  Stephen wants to create a ‘grass roots network for news, events and views that enables local people to directly input to the flow of information about West Cork on the web.’

The initiavite comprises a cohort of food aficionados, producers and long-term advocates of what this region has to offer.  Participants include artisan producers, offering meat, cheese, seafood, craft beers and even a locally-produced whiskey. Visitors can also partake in coastline kayaking tours.

Not confined to West Cork alone, the organisation is keen to explore the building of a ‘mutually beneficial promotional networks’ with other Celtic areas such as Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Isle of Man, Brittany, and the Basque country.  To date, they have made forays into this network building through the Celtic Cook Off competition.   The premise is simple: one chef representing each of the Celtic territories: Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Isle of Man, Cornwall and Brittany.  The chefs are pitted against each other tasked with preparing a dish using only local produce. 

‘We value local business and recognise local produce and local suppliers’, Neil Grant, manager of the West Cork hotel, where the event is hosted is keen to promote what the area has to offer.  The Celtic Cook Off event are very much in keeping with the aims of West Cork Food.  As Stephen puts it, ‘Our objective is to continue to be able to make enough of a living in this beautiful place to carry on living and working here.’

Renowned food expert and co-author of the eminent Bridgestone Guides, Sally McKenna has been able to do just that. Her and her husband John have been living in West Cork for over 20 years now, having initially visited to learn about the food culture as part of their work with the Bridgestone Guides.  The key to our food culture here is high standards, and longevity. West Cork now has a second generation of modern artisans creating world-class food in this unique, unspoiled environment’

She would love to see more interconnection between the various tourism activities, citing the Mayo Gourmet Greenaway initiative as a great example of this.  She sees opportunities for ‘greater connection between walkers, markets, boat operators, kayakers, bird watchers, food producers - the whole community. 

To read more of this published article, click here...

Interview with blogger & food writer Mona Wise

Article by Site Editor © 15 November 2012 Lorraine Griffin .
Posted in the Magazine ( Food Writing ).
monawise crop

Mona’s Wise Words

A food writer and Sunday Times columist, Mona lives in Galway with her husband, chef Ron Wise, their children Jack and Rorí, and foster daughters Sam and Lulu.  We last spoke to her for our Where I Write section where she told us about ‘the priest’s room’ and her ‘fingerless gloves’! 
This time, I caught up with Mona to talk about blogging, writing, social media and all things culinary.   When asked what came first, the food or the words, Mona was very clear that it may start with food but leads to a considerable list of tasks thereafter.
“First, the menu planning, then the shopping lists, then the grocery shopping, then the organising and cooking, the recipe tweaking, then the food styling, the photography, the eating of the prepared food, and then the recipe amending again, then the writing, then the photo editing…and at some point there will be a few cups of tea to be had too!”
Certainly, this task list is evident in her daily blog, her regular Facebook and Twitter updates, the weekly piece for the Sunday Times not to mention ongoing work on future books. Her book ‘The Chef & I.  A Nourishing Narrative’ came out earlier this year and can be bought online at Kenny’s Book Shop. Mona says, “they offer free shipping worldwide so it will make a lovely Christmas present! OR you can download the eBook online at Amazon.”
Her style is inviting and convivial; it’s very easy for readers to imagine sitting and chatting with her, such is the warmth that emanates from her written tone.  And this style clearly works as she recently scooped four awards at the Irish Blog Awards – Best Food/Drink Blog, Best Photography Blog, Best Blog by a Journalist, and the overall prize of Best Blog.  Family life features prominently throughout Mona’s blog and weekly column and she cites them as her drive and inspiration: “Having four kids that want to go to Disney – and keep reminding you of that fact – makes a girl get up and ‘go’ every day.”
Poetry in motion
Her daily blog updates are characterised by short poems, sometimes humorous and often poignant they always draw readers in.  It was this poetry that spurned her to explore writing further. “I was standing in the social welfare office in Galway shortly after I moved back to Ireland from the US….doodling a little poem while waiting my turn and I loved what I wrote. I went home, and read it out to my Mum and brother and they both thought I had lost the plot entirely. I knew I wanted to write but really felt someone had to teach me ‘how’ to do it right.”
And so Mona embarked on four year undergrad course at her local university (NUIG) to pursue that goal.
A growing community
Social media is a particularly effective medium for writers, and there is a growing community of Irish voices gaining traction this way. Mona has been on Facebook since 2007 and is an avid tweeter, maintaining that “Twitter and Facebook are the best two social platforms to engage readers, new and old, and to stay current with what your friends and fans are up to. It cannot work ‘one way’. You need to read and comment and share interesting titbits of information all the time if you expect others to like and share your work.”
There’s camaraderie amongst Irish bloggers, particularly evident amongst the food bloggers who engage in daily Twitter banter and information exchange.  Their mutual support is evident, and was especially apparent during the live Twitter feed coming from the Blog Awards as fellow nominees congratulated her on her win.  Mona is hugely grateful for this support and avidly follows other bloggers, especially those in similar situations to her: “I am hugely inspired by women in business. So mostly business bloggers. The ones that talk about work and their challenges of working and raising a family at the same time. I read and comment on A LOT of blogs”
A Taste of Ireland
The Irish food scene is enjoying a revival, with Ireland being actively positioned internationally as a source of fresh, artisan produce.  Mona sees this as a positive development: “I am relieved to be honest. I was raised in Galway in the eighties. Everything was farm fresh and local. When I moved back to Galway from America in 2008 I was so sad to see how much everyone thrived on convenience foods and fairly poor quality food in restaurants.”
However whilst she believes the situation has greatly improved over the last four years, especially in Galway, she feels “(we) have a long way to go before we can claim stake to being a food tourism destination.’
The Irish Food Writing Scene
With this increased focus on all things culinary, people are seeking out more information and ways to experiment with how they source and prepare their food. According to Mona, “the food scene itself is changing so much that I think we are starting to see a slow and steady shift in the food writing scene too. There are the greats, like Myrtle and Darina Allen, John and Sally McKenna et al. all members of the Irish Food Writers Guild, and they carry the most weight – they have earned it.”
This reinvigorated focus has led to a proliferation of new cook books, longer food sections in most of the Irish newspapers’ and an emergence of new voices.  Mona sees room for everyone on the Irish market:  “The one thing we have to all keep in mind is that there is room for everyone and may the best book sell the most copies. There are a few blog-to-book success stories but only a handful of them are blockbuster deals. No need to worry about over crowding at all. Hats off to any of the bloggers that get offered a book deal though. That is no easy feat.”
Food blogging is very popular but does require a number of key skills, and hard work.  As Mona puts it “Right now everyone thinks it is cool to have a food blog. But you can’t be good at food writing, cooking, baking, taking photos, food styling, editing photos and last but by no means least, washing dishes. Food blogging is hard!”
Her advice to would-be bloggers is simple: “Develop your own niche. Be unique. Find your voice and write as you speak.”
Wise words indeed.
Mona’s 5 Top Tips for pursuing a career in food writing:
  • Stop talking about writing. Just write. Even if it is the worst piece of drivel ever written. It is words on a page and it keeps the fingers moving which is a great brain exercise in itself.
  • Stop writing book proposals and sitting around waiting for them to be accepted or rejected. Just write the book.
  • Introduce yourself to a new friend or colleague at work by telling them you are a writer. It is not easy to start saying those words. I did not feel comfortable saying it ‘out loud’ till I overheard my husband telling someone his wife was a writer. It is a great feeling. Be proud that you are a writer.
  • Blog. Blog. Blog.
  • Edit Edit Edit. And if you can’t edit then find someone that can and pay them to edit your work.  A good editor is invaluable. (Emma Sherry at is – in my humble opinion – one of the best in the business.)

My first visit to Listowel for Writers' Week

Article by Lorraine Griffin ©.
Posted in the Magazine (Tell Your Own Story)

Into the Arms of Listowel

It sounds very gauche to say that this was my first solo holiday, especially in a time where everyone seems to be heading off to India or Bali to discover themselves.  But there you have it: ‘twas just I, my trusty fiesta, a 2-litre of water and a hastily scribbled set of directions. It would be great to paint a Hollywood-style picture by saying the rooftop was down, the stereo blaring and a Grace Kelly style scarf was wrapped o’er my golden tresses.   But alas the reality was different.   An immoveable roof, exasperatingly awkward roll-up windows and dodgy radio signal meant that good auld Radio nEireann provided the soundtrack to my journey.  More easy listening tunes than rebellious road-warrior rock anthems.

And all went well – to a point.  I had successfully navigated my way to the outskirts of Listowel for the 2009 Writers Week but was faltering at the last hurdle (actually it was the sight of a Lidl that threw me.  My misty-eyed image of Listowel didn’t allow for the presence of a German discount store).  So pulling up alongside one of the locals I asked if I was close.  He looked at me and laconically pointed across the road at a sign clearly stating ‘Listowel Town Centre 1 mile’.
“Well you’d be headed the right way all right”.
His mirth would have been imperceptible to the average tourist but, native-to-native, I knew he’d be telling this one over a few pints later.
It was opening night, and along with the masses, I ended up at John B Keane’s pub. Jammed with writers, poets, comedians, teachers and actors it was the essence of Writers’ Week distilled into one tavern.  At this stage, everyone had had their “Gabriel Byrne moment”, be it at the bar or walking through the Square.  If not with Mr. Byrne then it was with one of the other luminaries in town.  Eager to have my moment, I was delighted to learn that Colm Tóibín was in the bar.  I would be coming face to face with literary greatness.  If anything it would be a fantastic story to tell in later life.   Unfortunately it didn’t quite pan out that way.  The reality was a cringe-fest of the highest order; a car crash moment that took some bolstering to get over.
You’re Colm Tóibín!”  His intense brown eyes fixed upon the source of the squeal (me) and deadpan as ever he replied: “Yes, I am.”
All bravado diminished (because let’s face it where do you go from here?) I meekly retorted: “That’s great.”  
The gang’s laughter mingled with his as he disappeared into the crowd.  Not the impression I’d hoped to make.  Nor did I have a hope of redressing this impression.  My embarrassment ensured that I spent the week avoiding Mr. Tóibín, the festival’s president.

Read more about this literary journey here..

A gentleman from the West of Ireland

Article by Lorraine Griffin ©.
Posted in the Magazine (Tell Your Own Story: )
From Whence it Came

Every time I see a solitary magpie I have to salute him.   A tricky manoeuvre when walking through St Stephen’s Green during the morning rush hour (trying not to look mental) but it’s a compulsion I simply can’t suppress.  Oftentimes this essential salute has to masquerade as an odd but altogether saner eyebrow scratch so as not to cause fellow commuters any alarm.  Equally, dinner plates have to be piping hot; potatoes have got to be Kerr’s Pinks and I simply cannot tolerate bad grammar.  And when I’m freaking out over an inappropriate apostrophe or an ice-cold plate, I regularly hear:  “Well you didn’t pick that up off the ground” or my other favourite: “you’re definitely a Griffin”.
How is it so?   Well, it’s important that I explain the source of what could be construed as my madness.  You see Patrick Griffin (otherwise known as Granddad) departed from us over 20 years ago, but daily I’m reminded of him through habits I’ve inexplicably formed or mannerisms that collectively add up to form this elusive creature that is “The Griffin”.
He was a Wesht of Ireland man; a teacher, headmaster, gifted storyteller and one of life’s true gentlemen.  Rare nowadays that a guy would stand up if a lady entered the room or left the dinner table.  In fact I know plenty that are still struggling with the door-opening basics.  Through his impeccable manners, and that of his sons and daughters, it’s difficult for me to accept anything less than a firm handshake and a genuine compliment.  Really, anything less is a farce.
He would stay with us for weeks at a time to avail of the sea air and I loved coming home from school and watching his beloved Blockbusters with him.  “Gimme an aitch please Bob”.  Elder and lemming vying enthusiastically for the most impressive word.  My limited vocabulary battling pointlessly against a lifetime of literary experience.  Yet all the while his teacher instincts coming to the fore as he made me jot down any new words.  His lyrical dexterity inspired my love of language.  Because of him I’m a “word nerd”.
People say that music is a powerful trigger to childhood memories. And I’d love to say that Granddad and I rocked it out at early U2 concerts or that we ran wild with the Sawdoctors.  But I reckon that’s more Ozzy Osbourne’s style.  No, my memories of music with Granddad revolve around Phil Coulter and his Classic Tranquillity album. It was ‘Steal Away’, ‘Fields of Athenry’ and ‘The Town I loved so Well’.  Traditional Irish tunes emanating from the car stereo as we made our way towards Connemara or “God’s Country” as he would call it.  Granddad’s long, strong legs ensuring that bickering brother and sister were separated by his presidential presence in the back seat.
Only with us for two days and he’d be well in with the neighbours – new friends to salute (alongside lone magpies).  That’s just the kind he was – interested and interesting.  And a fanatical sports fan.  We’re talking anything with a green pitch be it Gaelic football, rugby, hurling, soccer, bowls or snooker -you name it and he could tell you the latest scores and who had scored them.  Mom often regales the story of a family holiday in Cliften where this love of sports was most evident.   We were all at dinner in the hotel restaurant; Mom, Dad, Granddad, my brother Keith and I.  Dad left first, seemingly to go to the bathroom but a bowl of cold soup later and we knew that this wasn’t the case.  Then it dawned on Granddad: “I know where Seanie has gone”. Up he leapt (any chance of arthritis forgotten) and with the agility of a man thirty years his junior he fled the restaurant.  Mom, Keith and I abandoned for the delights of the Champion’s League.
I’d love to meet Granddad again, perhaps hear first-hand the more bluer of those famed stories.  Even just to let him know the Blockbuster sessions worked well for me.  But for now I’ll have to make do with preserving his legacy as best I can by keeping the spuds Kerr’s Pinks, the plates hot and those black and white birds saluted.

Coming soon!

In the midst of a revamp of this blog - will be back :)

Loving New York, and all that it means. Happy to see that its spirit (culinary-wise) is alive n kicking in Dublin. Here's a piece I wrote for in May.

Sometimes, the ordinary ham and cheese sambo isn’t enough. After a long, hard  days grind battling wind, rain and office supplies sometimes you deserve some time to relax with a good lunch that transports you to lands afar (or at least keeps you going ‘til dinner). Lorraine Griffin is back. Her last article about her lunchtime experiences in the market had us all skipping down the canal (click here to read about it). This time she tells you how to dine like a New Yorker right here in Dublin. Prepare yourself for an education on dining NYC-style.
Okay, so we’re lacking yellow cabs, a love of pretzels and those ubiquitous hotdog stands (the ones that pop up at 3am outside Leeson St. serving a hungry mob who would happily eat anything with ketchup don’t count).  But no matter, it’s still possible to have a New York dining experience right here in Dublin.
The Deli sandwich continues to be a lunchtime favourite in the Big Apple, and like all things American it’s beefier, thicker, larger and bolder than its European counterparts.   Look no further than artisan store Fallon & Byrne, where you can get salami, pastrami or lox (smoked salmon with cream cheese to you and me!) on traditional rye bread.  Prices range from €5 to €8.  To keep it States-side, you can also pick up a root beer and fill your pockets with Hershey's and Reece's chocolates for after.  
If you’re fortunate enough to have the morning to yourself, then make like a total New Yorker and head to Odessa for one of their brunch options.  According to Wikipedia (who know everything), the term was invented by New York Morning Sun reporter Frank Ward O'Malley based on the typical mid-day eating habits of a newspaper reporter.  Anyway, back to the food.  Go for Eggs Florentine or Benedict, both served on the confusingly-named English muffin, which actually hails from the U.S.   Or for something sweet, opt for American-style pancakes with a cheeky fruit compote.  Either options come in at around €11 and will fill you for the day. Delicious.
Remember 1990s cheesecakes, with the unappealing slice of lemon welded to the top and the thin base crumbing under the weight of its quivering jellylike substance?  As a J1-er in Chicago, a life-changing trip to the The Cheesecake Factory opened my taste buds to the delights of a baked NY cheesecake.  My first taste of the dense, creamy wonder was like tasting lobster after a lifetime of scampi.  Luckily our chefs and cafes adopted this approach and nowadays it’s much easier to avoid the jelly-like wobbles of yesteryear.   For a little taste of heaven for under a fiver, head to theQueen of Tarts on Dame Street for their New York Raspberry Baked Cheesecake. 
Jessica Simpson, doing a massive injustice to blondes everywhere, once famously asked if Buffalo Wings were really made frombuffalo meat.  At this point the cameraman had to stop filming and go into a room to compose himself before resuming with the shoot.  Not her best moment!
No, these wings actually originate from the state of Buffalo in NY.  They are the stuff of dreams, particularly after a night out or when a big feed is called for.  The sauce is tangy, spicy, messy and moreish and no matter how you try to emulate it at home it’s impossible to achieve the same taste sensation.  There are three places serving these: Tribeca (Ranelagh), Elephant and Castle(Temple Bar) or Canal Bank Café (off Leeson Street).  Same chef, same magical sauce.  It costs around €12 for one portion, which easily does 2 people. 
Long before it was featured in the Sopranos, Shanahan’s Restaurant and it’s Oval Office Bar had captured the imagination as the quintessential New York style steakhouse.  Granted, you’d need the cash of a Mafioso to dine there regularly but if you want a Friday treat, then go for their lunch special.  It’s €45 for 3 courses, one of which includes their famous tender Angus beef.  
And as we get closer to that presidential visit, you never know just who might turn up in the Oval Office bar to take his place amongst the other former presidents of Irish heritage….  

All about the farmers.....tasty treats in city centre markets...(another piece for

As the weather warms up, the sun begins to shine and people are shedding winter coats (for slightly lighter jackets, it is still Ireland), farmers markets are becoming an appealing lunchtime option that guarantee not only your daily dose of Vitamin D but also new flavours and value for money.  So, who better to ask than the wonderful Lorraine Griffin (see here for her earlier piece), who went and visited the markets for her lunch and is here to tell you the gems she discovered…
It’s not only the 8th of December that brings farmers to the Big Schmoke!  Every Thursday you’ll find Farmers’ Market tucked under the eaves near Harcourt St and along the canal down Mespil road.  The line-up can vary but there are some trusty favourites that pitch their stand week on week. 
Over the Tiger Years, our taste buds evolved and with it our demand for new and ever more exotic flavours increased.  We embraced cuisine from all around the world and sought out tapas, meses and bento boxes.  At these Famers’ markets, the range and diversity of choice satisfies our ever-discerning palates.
Here are my top 5 stalls, all of which charge around a €5….
These guys may not be Spanish but not to worry as their authentic recipe has got it just right.  It’s all that paella should be: beautiful saffron rice, undercurrents of tomato and onion, top notes of spice and glorious chunks of tender, flavoursome chicken and piquant chorizo.  And to make matters even tastier, they ladle some garlic aioli on top.  Para chuparse los dedos!
Small golden balls (that have nothing to do with Beckham) are lightly coated in Middle Eastern herbs like turmeric and cumin.  These are deep fried and combined with either hummus or baba ganoush (which is to aubergines what chickpeas are to hummus), some shredded lettuce, fresh tomato and a chilli if you like it like that****.  Or you can opt for some of their chilli sauce.  The result?  A tasty, crunchy chickpea fest with just the right amount of seasoning and dressing.  And they throw in a free drink for only a fiver. Click here to view their website.

And for something totally different….
Go for the Hog Roast.  Continually basted and roasted on a hot spit, the pork is tender and flavoursome, making it a perfect ingredient for your lunchtime sandwich.  Just add a dollop of ketchup or mustard and you’re sorted.  
There’s something quite Viking-like about the hog experience.  Not sure why but you’ll definitely feel like a warrior (and not the Bill Cullen kind) when you’re tucking in to one of these.
Classic Chicken Sambo
Remember Roddy Doyle’s ‘the Van’, where burgers and fish were battered into an inch of their lives and dispensed to half-jarred World Cup fans?  Well this elegant van offers the complete opposite experience!  Gavin and Sara, organic farmers, serve up the most delicious hot roasted chicken from their rotisserie.  Comes in a takeout box with salad and coleslaw or nestled into fresh French baguettes with Dijon mustard (and coleslaw, if you fancy it). 
Watch as suited and booted lunchtime workers make like Bisto Kids towards the van, drawn by the aromatic smells of roasting chicken.  These guys make it perfectly okay to buy lunch from something on wheels. Visit them online.
For after…. Buns!
 are the stuff of our childhood parties; cream and jam-filled butterfly ones being the pinnacle of culinary couture in 1980s Ireland.  But these guys have taken it to a whole new level.  None of your watery white icing and token glacé cherry here!  Would recommend white chocolate & raspberry, carrot cake or vanilla.   And as you can get mini ones, it’s totally acceptable to eat all three in one sitting. They’ve also recently introduced a new addition called the ‘whoopee’.  (Stay with me here, this is no relation to the previously mentioned Munchies’ chicken whoopee).  No, this is a most delicate yet intensely flavoursome treat.  It looks like a Macaroon (ala ‘Lauderie’) but is much more unctuous and satisfying.  There are fruit or chocolate versions.  Go for the strawberry or mixed berry.  A whoop-for-joy moment (sorry, had to do it).

Harcourt Food Market is on Thursdays from 10am to 4pm and the Mespil Rd Market is also Thursdays from 12pm to 2pm.   Check out  for more details.
For rainy Thursdays, sure any day of the week, if you aren’t feeling the farmers-market-lunch vibe, why not check out some of our exclusive offers in that area, like 2 for 1 in the Camden Court Hotelor our group deal with Against the Grain.

My guest blogging intro for foodie site saying what am about!

Following the success of our first guest blogger, the incomparably fly Mr Johnny Cool, we bring you Be Our Guest #2, with the also no less cool Lorraine Griffin! A user, Dublin city centre worker, prospective blogger and all round food lover, Lorraine has some very interesting habits, and tells us that she's "Monica like" in her recipe preperation and keeps "customised recipe folders according to source/ethnicity of food /simplicity of recipe /speed of 'time-to-mouth"! Now there's an idea we like! Such ingenuity.
Lorraine works in Marketing in Dublin 2, and mentions that, like us, she's a "food nerd - love buying it, cooking it and eating it."  Well, we love the eating and cooking parts, but perhaps not the buying part! Her Saturdays "are all about farmers' markets & trying out new recipes/places!"
Let's let the lovely Lorraine tell you a bit in her own words. Oh, and if you like her style (we do!), she'll be back later this week, with a deadly piece on a week full of lunches, intriguingly entitled "A Fork and The City"!
So Lorraine, tell us a little about yourself!
Well, I'm not a blogger (yet) but it’s on the cards for 2011!  As you say, I work in Marketing, and I'm inspired by numerous different things, including a love of words, people who do things differently, all things New York, quirkiness, not trying to be too perfect, Joseph O’Connor, storytelling, real conversations, sing-songs (where at least 2 people know more than just the choruses) and movies where there’s no Arnie style action, just a good story. (What! Arnie movies are all about great stories! :))
I love cooking, and trying new recipes.  Pretty much stick with simple dishes that are made with quality ingredients so I’d usually head to Camden Street, buy the meat in one of the butchers there then get all the veg in Evergreen. 
Specialities of (my house) include: chicken & chickpea curry with toasted almonds and crème fraiche, spicy lasagne with homemade garlic bread ciabatta and homemade burgers with rosemary potato wedges and garlic mayo. (Nyom Nyom!)
I'm also really into the idea of secret restaurants, having watched a programme where Jamie Oliver was in NY and had both hosted and attended various secret gatherings in people’s homes.  It’s more relaxed, and instead of serving ‘fashionable’ food, it’s usually family recipes so you get to sample authentic cuisine.   Lily Higgins (chef and sister of comedian Maeve Higgins) is doing this from her home in Rialto (it’s called the ‘Loaves and Fishes’ supper club!) and I'm attending, so I'll be sure to fill all you lunch lovers in! Perhaps a secret lunchtime club could be on the cards?
What about lunchtime Lorraine? Are you a sandwich at the desk type of gal, or more adventurous? We'd guess the latter!
Well, lunch choices are generally selected according to hunger level and mood de jour.  Working just around the corner from Grafton Street means I can satisfy pretty much any food craving every day.  So it’s great for lunch options but bad for cashflow. (More about that in the upcoming "A Fork and The City" post!)
Well, using our site can save you €5.13 per day, so don't give up your lunching because of cashflow, cos we can help there!  Tell us a bit about your fave foods?
Hmmm, my favourite food…there’s no straightforward answer to this one, so I’ve broken it down into categories! (An organised food lover, what's not to love!)
Brunch: Eggs Benedict with pots of tea at Odessa.
Sneaky Sweet Snack: Chocolate & hazelnut brownie from Avoca.
Celebratory Dinner:  If you’re going Celtic-Tiger-stylee then it’s got to be a medium-rare steak with onion rings and the creamiest mash ever from Shanahans (pictured) but if you’re keeping it real for the recession then a 2-course Early Bird from Green Hen does the job (try the mushrooms on brioche w/ poached egg –yum!)
And finally, we'll be giving our users lots of options on this on Friday (post Paddy's Day), but tell us Lorraine, what is your fave hangover food, and your Friday evening pig out food? (We promise we won't let it slip to anyone!
Well for hangover food (dinner), it's got to be Saba to go aromatic duck followed by egg fried noodles and one of the 3* fiery chicken Wok dishes.
My pig-out food would be Fresh Cod and Chips from 'Bistro Café -traditional no-messing chipper with old-style formica tables and benches if you fancy dining in.
Good choices there! (Well, at least not as extreme as Johnny Cool's hangover effort last week!)
Thanks Lorraine, it's great to get some recommendations from our users, and it's obvious your a foodie!
No problem, thanks for having me!