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What we see in the shadows…

There’s an amazing Instagram account by a guy called Vincent Bal, who calls himself a Shadowologist. He uses random objects to cast shadows on a page, and then creates wonderful cartoons based on the shapes those shadows throw out. He is currently doing a challenge for families/kids to try out, and today’s challenge was using glass for shadows, so myself and the boys gave it a shot (glass). Clearly not gonna win awards, but proud of our efforts nonetheless.

Roll out the barrel

Over the past few weeks in quarantine, myself and the kids have been working on an ambitious, colourful art project. We took this old whiskey barrel that my dad got from his days as a biochemist in Irish Distillers (and subsequently housed his dreadful elderberry wine) and sanded it down, primed it, and then spray painted it graffiti style with vibrant colours. It is such a burst of brightness and joy in the corner of our garden. Adds some much needed light during this darkness. Art is good for the heart

Big Night – A tale of culinary creativity

Many moons ago, my dad and I watched a beautiful film called Big Night, which has this remarkable food dish called Timpano as it’s centrepiece. Essentially a massive multi-layered baked pasta drum. We were so taken with it, we tried to make it together one night back then with my friend Jakob, and it was moderately successful. But the experience of making it has stuck with me ever since.

So I had wanted to make it again for decades and this birthday felt like the perfect moment to bring beloved family and friends together to make it , and share in this experience. Myself, Jim, Doug and David spent hours laughing and cooking, as we created exquisite bubbling sauces and ragus, boiled eggs, grilled meats, rolled “polpette” meatballs, sliced salami, made and rolled out huge sheets of pasta dough. We made several feasts that would have fed a large percentage of Ireland. And then we layered all those myriad of feasts into not one, but three Timpanos — one veggie and two meaty.

Into the oven they went, and once baked, there was still an element of doubt that they would come out of the dish in one piece, and when slicing into it, if it retains it’s structural integrity, and comes out in a solid perfect layered slice. As you can see from the photos and videos below, they came out absolutely perfect – a moment of true joy.

Then it was time to taste. I can tell you, they were absolutely delicious. All of them. And on top of that the joy of sharing them with friends old and new over a glass of wine was the real treat.

We then chatted and sang songs till deep in the night. All seated around the gorgeous tables so artfully decorated with care by my brilliant wife, Jessica. She brings people together and draws the best out of them, and today was no different

Inevitably my mind drifted to those who could not be with us and the fire they carried into my life. I thought of my mother who was the same age as I am today when she passed away. She would have loved this , especially the meatball Timpano. I thought of my father who would have been in his element in the kitchen and spinning jazz records on the turntable. He would have loved this, especially the veggie Timpano.

It was a great day. A perfect day. Fun, family, friends. And fabulous food. Most of all, it was an experience I will treasure forever.

Today, I will definitely be eating lots of leftovers and as evening falls, we are going to stick on Big Night and watch it with the kids. They have to carry the fire now and I’m counting on them to make Timpano with me in a couple of years too.

man, what a concept!

Several years ago I started drawing these little cartoons that I called “The Man” and each little image was a quirky or philosophical musing on what it was to be alive. Most of them are pretty absurd (and crudely drawn) but they struck a chord with some other friends, one of whom even made a t-shirt out of one of them (what an honour!). So I kept drawing them, and many of them still make me chuckle, and others even feel like they came from something unconscious within me and told some grander truth. Most of all they were just enjoyable to draw, and it is an idea I revisit time to time. I have bucketloads more of them that may well see the light of day as a series sometime, but for now, here are initial scraps of sketches and ideas for that cartoon series of “The Man”. I quite like the simplicity of them and the ideas they evoke.