I recently read an article by Lauren Laverne on adopting the concept of ‘Romjul‘, which is what the Norwegians call the gap between Christmas and New Year. Instead of seeing the week as just a come-down after Christmas, as we tend to; losing track of all days, lying low, eating leftovers and not knowing whether to wish relations a Happy Christmas or a Happy New Year; the Norwegians see this week as a time for rebalancing and recalibrating for the year ahead. According to Laverne, “There’s eating, obviously, and a fair bit of staying in, creating a cosy nest. It’s a peaceful time to hang out with family and friends, but it’s also traditional to get outside and take walks, and to spend some time reflecting on the year that has passed and what comes next.”
I love the idea of focusing on what’s been and what’s to come at this time of year as I find it’s often quite a reflective time anyway. There’s long overdue catch-ups with family and friends; quieter moments for taking another look at your presents; frosty winter walks, either alone or with others; pubs that are suddenly quiet; and lots of free time – time to read the newspapers or your new cookbook, time to enjoy the Christmas tree and time to cook. It is, if you let be, quite a special time of year.
This delicious egg and yoghurt dish is perfect for these Romjul days – it’s calming and easy to cook, but not instantaneous, and you can make it with ingredients you probably have in the fridge anyway. With its bright, still festive splashes of chili-red against pale, perfect white, and its gorgeous, more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts flavour, it’s worth savouring slowly and thoughtfully this week – preferably with a coffee in hand and a stack of newspapers nearby.
Serves 2; adapted from a recipe in the Gubbeen cookbook
1 cup of good-quality yoghurt
1 garlic clove
1 medium hot chili
Salt & pepper
Poach the eggs (I’m not the best person to give advice on how to do this as I can only just manage poaching myself so look online if, like me, your egg poaching game is not strong!). Meanwhile, dice the chili and fry gently in the butter. Dice the garlic and stir into the yoghurt and either serve cool or, if preferred, warm, by heating it gently in a bowl over boiling water.
To serve, spoon some of the yoghurt and garlic mix onto each of the plates. Place a poached egg on each and then top with the chili butter, some salt, pepper and torn thyme. Toast some sourdough and serve in jagged shards alongside.
The year that has passed…
New Year’s Eve in wild & wonderful Dingle; fireworks at midnight on the marina; a talk in the Science Gallery from Fumbally co-founder Aisling Rogerson which led to a dissertation…
…startling flavours, a spiced beef Reuben and a thoroughly European feeling in Cork
…coffees and good soup in Airfield; a multitude of homemade ice creams; Easter in beautiful Lahinch
…a sourdough workshop and bumping into people in the Fumbally; lots of pasta dishes of every sort
…happy days out; lots of blog posts and a quick return trip to the Cinque Terre
…fried anchovies in Vernazza; walking the lemon-lined cliff path to Corniglia
…Bibi’s for breezy weekend breakfasts; the best chips in Dublin at SMS and, later, before the afters of a wedding, Cervi
…familiar faces, time in the garden and peering into hedgerows
…dozens of dips, a finished dissertation and too many Instagram pics…
…light, bright and lovely breakfasts in Slice in Stoneybatter; a rainy August bank holiday in a very special house in Parteen, Co. Clare, with lots of candlelight, red wine and homemade apple & clove jelly; the fun and theatricality of Luna and its ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’-esque dessert trolley
…lots of walks and a brilliant birthday dinner where almost everyone brought prosecco and Ryan had a lovely blackcurrant Victoria sponge for me
…a walk on my favourite beach followed by a coffee and bun in Harry’s Shack, Portstewart; a new favourite dinner salad – Caesar made with grilled Cos lettuce
…John & Ashley’s early autumn wedding in Manitoulin; delicious flavours on the island and in Toronto; pork mole tacos, margaritas & World Cup rugby in Irishtown
…the same faces from weekend to weekend; Bon Appétit inspirations
…a sneaky coffee & photo in the Senior Common Room after graduating; fun BYOB dinners throughout the year
…Jim Lahey’s unparalleled & game-changing No Knead bread; annual traditions at home; more dips and a host of Christmas treats…
And what comes next…
Yoghurt in savoury dishes galore; fermentation every which way; rejigged Jewish food classics; restaurant-made ice creams; dairy cow beef (although that may take a while to reach Dublin) and the rise of high-end butchery & dairy (ie, house-made butter or crème fraîche); herbs in cocktails and desserts; more Korean food; burrata on everything; Irish seaweed hitting the bigtime; more sourdough; a focus on ancient grains and house milling; homemade vinegars; kefir; anything in Bar Tartine; whole roasted vegetables as the star of the show; beetroot hummus; brassicas; deconstructed, bashed-up desserts – and other Australian influences aplenty (this year’s Masterchef Australia would suggest that crispy chicken skin is swiftly en route to our side of the world); labneh; pears coming back into vogue; fruit in salads; unusual vegetable gratins; chicory; grilled peas served as snacks…