Alcohol, Ireland, Law, Uncategorized

Black Point: a year in the King’s Inns

(adapted for Village Magazine, September 2012) ‘I am sure you’ll all soon be living in Regency houses after successful careers at the bar’, were some of the saccharine words that greeted our first day at the King’s Inns as the Under-Treasurer welcomed us to our new lives as fledgling barristers. Before long we had been ushered into groups, and what followed …


Alcohol, Food Politics, Gastronomy, Restaurant Reviews, Uncategorized

Dining in Dublin: the good, the bad and the inedible

(Lecture delivered in the Little Museum of Dublin, December 2013) We humans put a lot of store in food and its symbolic value. In fact our picky and refined approach distinguishes us from other primates who tend to retreat into a hidden corner to devour their fare. But modern technology such as televisions, smart phones and tablets seems to be …


In search of the quinta essentia

(Spectator Scoff, November, 2010) Courvoisier, the Cognac brandy, has long been synonymous with opulence and majesty. Napoleon himself was known to be fond of a snifter, giving the English owners of Courvoisier in 1908 the idea to market it as the drink of the diminutive Emperor. An early case of ‘celebrity’ endorsement, albeit achieved without the consent of the participant …

Courvoisier Is Beginning To Show Its Age

(Spectator Scoff, September, 2011) I have previously referred to the great French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss’s identification of eating with sex: une conjunction par complementairé. Both processes involve a union of complementary elements, though the digestion of one by the other is not generally considered appropriate in a relationship. The process of drinking also involves a conjunction, and where a fine beverage …