If food be the music of love then eat on......... or something like that.

My other life in food.

A day with the wonderful Myrtle Allen. My inspiration and absolute hero.

Beautiful Affair 2019 October Harper Collins
A Journey in Music, Food and Friendship Mike Hanrahan

‘This is much more than my story. In Beautiful Affair I introduce you to my friends – who share memories, recipes and quite a few amusing anecdotes that add so much sparkle to my life.’ – Mike Hanrahan
Nominated for the Irish Book Awards’ Best Irish Published Book of the Year

Beautiful Affair - A Journey in Music, Food and Friendship
Chronicles the early days growing up in Clare, his entire music career and the sudden change of step to train and work as a teacher at Ballymaloe Cookery School, spending ten years in kitchens before returning to his music and writing. Food and music have been parallel lines that have kept Mike Hanrahan on track his entire life.

• ‘If you love food and music, this book is compulsory for Christmas. My favourite cook book’ – Paul Flynn, TV chef/ writer - Head Chef of the Tannery, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford

• ‘Beautiful Affair is part memoir, part recipe collection, and a total joy to read. full of funny stories and wry observations on the music and food worlds, along with some fascinating detail. With hand-drawn watercolour illustrations by Charlotte O’Reilly Smith, and recipes from friends, family and professional kitchens, this is a book to savour and cherish.’ – Marie Claire Digby, Irish Times

• ‘A mixture of wonderful stories. We made the Irish stew… and nearly licked the plates!’ – Sean O’Rourke, RTE Radio 1

• ‘This book… it’s literally a beautiful affair. … I thoroughly loved this. It’s a very special piece of work.’ – Marty Whelan, RTE Lyric FM

• ‘Mike manages to do the impossible – create something which is an honest account of his life, as well as a heart-warming feast for the senses.’ – Hot Press

• ‘[A] brilliant and often joyful book.’ – Sunday Independent

• ‘The book is absolutely beautiful. It’s called Beautiful Affair, and it’s a very apt name for it … the illustrations, the recipes, lovely warm stories of a time in music and friendship, and a life’s journey… I loved every moment of it.’ – Tom Dunne, Newstalk

• ‘[A] moving and insightful book’ – Irish News

• ‘…through a sequence of picture postcards, Beautiful Affair coalesces to provide a pleasing montage of one man’s life-journey, the sociality of his musical world and the coming-of-age of Ireland as a musical nation within a globalised world… And, of course, there are the recipes too.’ – Frank Greally The Journal of Music


The Irish Times after a visit to the beautiful Farmhill restaurant where I was serving up my own lunch specialsand received my oscar review. I was delighted and decided to hang up my boots and get out while I was on top. The things we do.

We are a party of three including a 10 year-old who says she always orders “anything with Parmesan” on the menu. It’s a pretty good rule of thumb to bring to any restaurant.

In Farmhill it gets her a plate of slippery rigatoni pasta tubes with generous chunks of free-range chicken and ribbons of leeks, with that Italian king of cheeses stirred into a creamy sauce. There’s a juicy Irish scarlet heifer beef burger on a brioche bun. It’s a dish that comes together with the sweet tang of caramelised onions, good cheese and excellent chips. I get the special, a pork belly salad that sounds modest but is several great things on a plate. First those slices of belly, cut slightly thicker than rashers and cooked slowly in their own fat until they’re fudgy inside, crisp outside. To cut through all that luscious pig there’s a spanking fresh scatter of mustardy mizuna leaves, a lip-tingling horseradish mayonnaise, blobs of excellent fennel and tomato chutney and some orange segments with the pith cut off. This truly lovely salad is finished off with pomegranate seeds that taste like they were just freed from the white flesh of a fresh fruit.

Two course evening menu for €17, for which I will definitely be returning. Given the quality of ingredients and brilliant cooking this is a properly indictable steal. City dwellers don’t live cheek by jowl with farms anymore. But if we’re lucky a chef will bring the best of those farms to the table and that’s what we have in Farmhill.

Verdict 8/10 A beautiful little restaurant

Food Provenance: Excellent.



At Artisan Parlour in Ringsend they said"The Artisan Parlour, just as its name suggests, aims to showcase the best of Irish artisan produce. There's passion and enthusiasm in spades, making this little eatery a big plus for Ringsend. This kind of passion and enthusiasm goes a long way to making a restaurant succeed."
Paolo's Tullio's 2015 Top Eats
Irish Indo 03/01/15

"A lovely place with wildly enthusiastic and smiley staff. Artisan parlour has brought something new and rather attractive to Ringsend."
Tom Doorley, The Daily Mail

"I was impressed at the way they worked, quietly and efficiently.the high point, the Ox Cheek, well executed, nicely flavoured and plated to please the eye."
Paolo Tullio, The Irish Independent

"Nestled in the heart of traditional village of Ringsend. Simple Irish cooking in the most modern sense. This is a community place, a place to say "let's go down to the local and get some good food there"
This is my kind of place."
Niall Harbison, Lovin Dublin

"The service from the charming young staff is excellent. The food is very, very good. An ultra hip new venue in Ringsend."
Ronan O'Reilly,The Irish Mail On Sunday

"It's helping to bring back a village feel to this area of Ringsend. A welcome tasty addition."
Rachel Collins, The Irish Times

"The Artisan Parlour and Grocery in Ringsend was opened by Martin Thomas a year ago, to a few quiet naysayers who muttered that it would 'never work'. One year on, and they have been converted into enthusiastic supporters, won round by the policy of "honest Irish grub" that Martin operates.

Voted one of Paolo Tullio's Top Nine Places To Eat in 2015, the Artisan Parlour serves things like slow roasted Ardee pork belly with lettuce, tomato and mustard mayo on good bread, and their famous Crowe's smoked ham hock and Hegarty's cheddar toastie topped with wholegrain mustard bechamel sauce. In doing so, they are bolstering a growing tradition of good food, well-sourced and well-served, around the area, extending the vibrant new dining scene beyond Grand Canal Street and down into Irishtown. With a clientele made up of locals as much as the new tech workers, they are clearly doing something very right."
Irish Independent August 2015



Still drooling out of the side of my mouth just thinking of the Mulled Lamb I had for lunch with a parsnip mash potato, perfect portion at 10 euro odd.
I tasted my partners salads, baked potato and chowder and was thinking ' I will be having that the next time '.From what I saw being served to other guests around me I liked everything, superb, clean and welcoming.And the decor..my kind of decor, loved it, simple good artisan tasteful and interesting. Well done to all of you, and great to see a local establishment filled with everything to feed our needs.----------------

Visited for a second time today, and I ordered the PBLT. A unique take to the original, the added pork belly and Dijon mustard sauce made the sandwich both savory and sweet. The flavors, while numerous, were not competing with each other. The side coleslaw balanced with the meal well, and I would recommend this order.-----------


The Great Paulio Thulio said ----It's the movement that brought the vast array of wonderful cheeses that we now have, and bit by bit it's bringing us smoked fish and meats, outdoor-raised farm animals and even buffalo mozzarella.

There's a symbiosis that happens between artisan producers and chefs. Typically, the artisan producer approaches the chef and says, "Look what I produce". The chef thinks "I could use that" and before long, a link is made and the artisan food is on the menu. And in this simple exchange, many things have happened for the better - there's a new artisan product, the restaurant has another food that comes from nearby, perhaps the area begins to be known for that product and lastly the diner gets to eat real, authentic, unadulterated food.

So when I heard there was a new restaurant whose mission was to showcase artisan products, my interest was piqued. And when I discovered that it was in Ringsend, which has been something of a desert gastronomically for the past few decades, I realised I needed to visit. Even better, it was the perfect opportunity to go reviewing with Ringsend resident Sophie Gorman, who is a very knowledgeable dining companion.

Ringsend's newest eaterie is easily found in the lane behind the library, right in the middle of Ringsend. If you're lucky, you can even get parking outside Artisan Parlour and Grocery (for such is its name). Inside it has that 'artisan' look of recycled woods, produce on display, and simple tables and chairs set up for dinner. If I had a reservation about the interior it was that the tables were small and were placed very close together. As it happened, on the night we were able to move our table and get a bit of room, as the space behind us didn't get used, but had the room been full to capacity, I suspect we would have been uncomfortably squeezed.


The menu comes to you on a clipboard and is a single page, offering three starters, four mains and three desserts. The prices are very reasonable, the main courses run from €11 to €16, and this holds true of the wine list as well. We chose a Pinot Grigio from the Alto Adige, which came at €27. It did need chilling, so we had to wait a while for an ice bucket to do its job.

The choices for starters were crab salad, a beetroot salad with Fivemile Town goats cheese, or a celeriac and mushroom soup. Sophie chose the crab salad and I chose the soup. The main courses were braised ox cheeks, pan-fried plaice, an open seafood pie and a vegetarian ragù with chickpeas and red lentils. Sophie chose the fish pie and I couldn't resist the ox cheeks.

I found myself looking towards the back of The Parlour, where the kitchen was. It was open-plan, so we could see the chefs at work. I was impressed at the way they worked, quietly and efficiently in what was a very small kitchen. I wondered just what the food would be like coming from so small a space, but that question was answered soon enough with very nicely presented dishes for both of us. The crab salad came as a tian with a citrus dressing and it was served with rocket. Simple, but tasty.

The soup was served in a marmite crockery dish and was good and thick, a warming and nourishing winter soup that I thoroughly enjoyed. We were also given some very good sourdough bread slices to go with our starters. I thought our main courses were very well done. Sophie had an envelope-sized packet of puff pastry inside which was a good mix of fish - hake, salmon, prawns and naturally smoked haddock.


Thankfully, naturally smoked, undyed fish is becoming more readily available. Quite why there used to be this insistence on dying the smoked fish a virulent orange I've yet to find out. The fish were poached in a cream sauce flavoured with dill and the whole dish worked very well.

The ox cheeks were served on a bed of mash and came with deep-fried kale, roast carrots and parsnips - a very seasonal mix of vegetables. The cheeks had been cooked long and slow, making them perfectly tender and very good to eat. Two very good dishes.

We thought for a while about desserts, since our appetites had been satiated, but a mini Christmas pudding and bread and butter pudding eventually proved irresistible. Sophie had the mini pud and it was good, drizzled with a caramel sauce and topped with a scoop of Featherbed Farm ice cream. The bread and butter pudding was less successful, having the look and texture of something that had been in an oven for far too long. I was offered another one, but by then my appetite was gone and instead I took an espresso.

The Artisan Parlour and Grocery is exactly the sort of place that I like to highlight. It's run by people who are passionate about their food and are careful with their sourcing. I suspect it will act as magnet for other businesses as it opens up new furrows. It's definitely a plus for Ringsend Village and it's great value. Three courses each and a bottle of wine came to €79.

Read more: AA Gill was a bit harsh, not everyone agrees with him - Darina

On a budget

During the day you can enjoy salads and sandwiches, made with the same attention to detail. The coffee is also good, not just the grounds, but actually well made.

On a blowout

Recently they’ve started to open for dinner Thursday through to Saturday. It’s as close to a blowout as you’re going to get, spending a maximum of €16 for a main course.

The high point

The ox cheeks did it for me. Well-executed, nicely flavoured and plated up to please the eye.

The low point

The dry and overcooked bread and butter pudding.


Food: 8/10

Ambience: 7/10

Value for money: 9/10 value

Overall: 24/30





Wine Board of Ireland Intermediate Cert on Wine and spirits


Ballymaloe Wine Cert

Cottage Cheese Making course Fermoy 2010


Favourite places I cooked

Artisan Parlour Ringsend

Pat Shortts Bar Castlemartyr Co Cork


Ballymaloe Cookery school Teacher

McCormacks Gastro Pub , Mountown, DunLaoghaire

Tribes, Glasthule

Cooking up a storm at 1.07 to celebrate my first ever hit single as a solo artist.
We have
Download the song

‘Chase the Moon’ by Mike Hanrahan, is out on Bandcamp October 2021.

One afternoon myself and Ronnie Drew dined at a family run country house restaurant in Cornwall. I had Mulled lamb pie. The memory of its flavours never left me. Years later in my kitchen at The Artisan Parlour in Ringsend the pie raised its head while looking for an new offering after piper and friend Ed delivered a batch of his award-winning Achill Lamb. I set about my task and after a few attempts I presented my dish to owner and wonderful man Murt Thomas who has since left us far too young. Martin gave me that look of approval. “It’s mega ------ as you would say yourself Mike ‘tis mighty’”

Mulled lamb
Serves 6
This dish has to be prepared the day before.
I always have a little pot of home ground spice mix.
My preferred mix is
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
Pinch of caraway seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
½ tsp cardamom seeds
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
½ tsp cumin seeds
To make the spice mix, heat a dry pan, and add all the spices except the chilli flakes and cumin seeds. Toast for a few minutes.
2. Add the chilli flakes and cumin seeds, then remove from the heat and allow to cool.
3. Grind using a spice grinder – my coffee grinder is a designated spice grinder, but alternatively use the pestle and mortar. Store in a jar until required. You will find several uses for this mix
For the lamb
2 tbsp spice mix (see above)
1 kg diced lamb, neck or shoulder
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp plain or gluten-free flour
1 medium glass of good port. (one you would drink yourself)
250ml stock, preferably lamb
1 stick of cinnamon
Fresh mint leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
1. Rub the spice mix into the lamb pieces, add a little salt, then cover and store in the fridge for a few hours or ideally overnight. Take it out about an hour before use.
2.. If you are going to cook the lamb in the oven, preheat it to 150°C/130°C fan/gas 2.
3. Heat the oil in an ovenproof pan and brown the lamb pieces on a medium heat. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.
4. Add the onions, and cook until soft. Add the garlic, carrots and celery, and cook for 1 minute.
5. Return the lamb to the pan and add the flour. Coat everything and cook for about 1 minute, then add the port and let it reduce for a few minutes. Add the stock, star anise or cinnamon. Taste for seasoning.
6. Cook on the stove or in the oven for 1 hour or until the lamb is soft and succulent.
7. Serve on mash of your choice: Champ; Parsnip and potato, celeriac and potato; or just plain. Top it off with a few kale crisps.
The most important part of the cake is butter, real butter only and a cup of tea. That will dampen any druidic spirits.

225grm flour
2 tsps baking powder
375 pack of mixed dry fruit
250mls cold real tea
50 mls whiskey
125 grm light brown sugar
1 egg
Pinch of mixed spice
A ring, a coin, a pea, a piece of cloth
A piece of greaseproof paper keeps a little for the secret gifts
Put the fruit, whiskey and tea into a bowl and leave it over night to swell and get to know each other.
Oven at 170 fan, grease and line 2lb
loaf tin
Mix flour, spice, baking powder and sugar. Make a well and mix the egg. If its too dry add some of the fruit liquid. You need a wettish dough. Add the fruit and then wrap the secret gifts in paper and disperse them around the cake. Should be a wet dough by now so spoon or por into a prepared tin. Use a spatula to get everything in.
Bake for 60 minutes and allow to cool before removing. Put it on a cake rack

Pumpkin Risotto
Risotto is an art form and requires attention and practice so please do not despair. Stay with it. It’s a treasure to have in your locker and so versatile. All you need is a shallot diced, a little olive oil, good quality risotto rice NB (there is no substitute worth chasing) a glass of your favourite white wine, a litre of heated chicken or veg stock. Homemade would be great but you can get good stock from the shelves these days. Whatever flavours you require, I prefer to precook my meats and if the veg is tough then I blanch them to soften the texture. AND a good spatula with a very patient hand. OH, and you will need 18 minutes of undivided attention.
For a large party it is possible to pre cook to half way stage. More on that later in the series. For now
Pumpkin risotto
This is a true Italian dish.
Shallot diced
175 grm Arborio or carnaroli rice
50 mls good white wine
300 grans finely chopped pumpkin or squash flesh (no skin or seeds)
1 ltr stock, heated
Knob of butter
Parmesan freshly grated about 50 grams
NB you can always store the seeds, wash and dry them and lightly toast as a garnish.
Here’s how
Cooks shallots for 5 minutes on low heat until translucent.
Add the rice and this is called the toast stage. You stir the rice for 1 minute and ensure it Here’s all coted in oil. You can actually smell the toast. Do not over do this stage.
Add the wine and reduce to nothing. Always watch the pan and use the spatula to avoid and rice sticking to the base of the pan.
Add the pumpkin and stir through.
Add a ladle or two of the veg stock. it should just cover the mix. It will reduce and then you keep adding, reducing. After about 12 minutes you can check the texture and flavour of the rice. You may need salt at this point. The rice should have a bite but a lot less chalky. After about 17 minutes it should hold to a beautiful creamy texture and almost ready to serve. Check the seasoning.
Add the butter and melt through. Add parmesan and serve on a warm plate.
It’s nice to garnish with a drizzle of good olive oil and chopped autumnal herbs. I sometimes spray a drizzle of chilli oil.
Some people like garlic but I would only add chopped garlic just before the first ladle of stock. A burnt garlic will destroy any dish.

Citrus and honey fritters
For the fritters
450 grm flour
6 eggs
Zest of 1 lemon orange and lime
Pinch of salt and a pinch of cinnamon if you wish.
You may wish to add a spoonful of your favourite liquor.
Mix everything in a bowl. Bring it all together to firm dough. Wrap in Cling and fridge for 30 minutes. Portion the dough into whatever shape you prefer.
Meanwhile heat a small pot of honey with the zest and juice of a lemon
Deep fry to golden and add to heated honey. Roll around to coat.
Transfer to plate and decorate as you wish.

Fruit Fritters with homemade batter. Make a batter as you would for pancakes. Milk, flour and a spoon of melted butter and a dash of vanilla. Let it settle in the fridge. Cut your pears to desired thickness, sprinkle with sugar and set aside. Add two whisked egg whites with lemon zest and a spoon of castor sugar into the batter. Dip in the batter and deep fry or fry on a pan.

Sweet batters
Equal amounts of milk and flour. Add a spoon of sugar, 1 egg, a flicker of cinnamon or vanilla and a spoon of melted butter. A pinch of salt. Always rest the mic in a fridge.
Some batters separate the eggs and whisk the whites to stiff consistency to add later.
Some batters use buttermilk.
Its really a matter of taste.



Slow Roasted blade of beef with jus and celeriac Mash

Mulled Lamb

Organic Salmon, Sage, Lime, mustard and poppy seeds

Organic Salmon baked with Juniper berry, lemon and White wine

Wild Salmon baked with Lemon ,Sage and Cider

Pan Fried Fish with Roast red onion and parsley butter/ Lemon Butter/

D'Unbelievable Burger

Monk, chorizo and chick pea

Barley Risotto


Interesting links


the cottage smallholder

eat the seasons

Irish Farmers Markets


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