Book Bites : St Patrick’s Day

Preparing for  great day.

At home on St Patrick’s Day, we indulge in our particular favourite food and drinks, and this year will be no exception. Before we begin though, I want to make two things very clear, while soda bread and soda farls are Irish, they are two separate and very different things. See the pictures below.

Soda bread on the left – soda farls on the right

Equally, we don’t have potato cakes; they are different to potato farls, which we do have. Again, see pictures.

Potato farls on the left – potato cakes on the right

I have family recipes for soda bread, (plain and fruited), soda farls, and potato farls, all handed down from my Great-Grandmother.

Chef Paul Rankin his own Irish Selection which is very handy for everyone – I buy it myself.

Breakfast, Lunch, Tea or Dinner:

An Ulster Fry (although these days we grill everything) is the ultimate delicious blow-out meal. It consists of:

  • soda farls
  • potato farls
  • sausages
  • bacon
  • vegetable roll
  • black pudding
  • eggs
  • tomatoes
  • beans

These can be mixed and matched depending on how much you want to eat. Optional extras include burgers and Lorne (a Scottish favourite).

And for other meals there is of course Irish Stew or Colcannon

Pot of Tea and Cake

Irish tea is strong. As I tell my friends ‘strong enough to hold the spoon up’, though of course you can make it to suit your taste.  The tea of my childhood was Nambarrie or Punjana, loose leaf, and brewed in a teapot. Eaten with tea is Barmbrack, Paris Buns, Butter Biscuits,  my Grandma Sadie’s Potato Cake (not to be confused with those mentioned previously), or my Granny Grey’s Boiled Cake. (The boiling part isn’t the cake, it’s the fruit before you make the cake.) Here are my family recipes for the latter two:

Sadie’s Teatime Potato Cake

Granny Grey’s Boiled Fruit Cake


Has to be:

Bushmills whiskey – the world’s oldest distillery or Jameson’s whiskey. If you want to mix Black Busha whiskey cocktail here a couple of my favourites:

Blarney Stone – shot of whiskey with freshly squeezed lime and ginger beer

Irish Kiss – equal parts of whiskey and peach schnaps, two parts orange juice and ginger beer

Irish Rose – 2 parts whiskey, 1.5 parts each of lemon juice and grenadine

Irish Martini – 1 part Baileys, 2 parts whiskey, half part warm (not hot) strong back coffee

Irish Wolfhound – equal parts of whiskey and ginger beer and half part of red grapefruit juice


GuinnessGuinness washes the Colcannon down nicely. Relaxing in the evening with a whiskey or two is just perfect. You can always pollute the Guinness to make Guinness Mixes or Cocktails. Here are a few:

Black Velvet – Guinness and Champagne

Brown Velvet – Guinness and Cider This was so-called because it was the poor man’s Black Velvet. I’ve discovered that it is now called a Snakebite. Strangely, in my younger, drinking days a Snakebite was a very different cocktail!

Black and Tan – Guinness and Pale Ale

Irish Boilermaker – Guinness, half shot of Baileys, half shot of Irish whiskey, put the 2 half shot in a shot glass, drop the shot glass into the Guinness . (This has an offensive name referencing the ‘Troubles’ and cars. As it is based on the traditional Boilermaker, I’ve named it the Irish Boilermarker instead.)

Getting yourself sorted the day after…try a British Army favourite, Gunfire. Hot black tea with a shot of dark rum.

If you’d like recipes for anything I haven’t provided one for, please just ask.

Enjoy St Patrick’s Day.

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