The Avoca restaurant in Powerscourt in Ireland http://powerscourt.com/shop-dine/avoca-terrace-cafe has trans-Atlantic fans. Wendy in Virginia Beach, USA, was waxing lyrical about their delicious food, elegantly served and the memories it evokes. See how she has taken their hearty mushroom soup and given it the deluxe treatment with her personal touches https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbxlJ1OkAMw
In front of a crowd of increasingly noisy on-lookers, we chopped and stirred, sauted and liquidised to turn the simplest ingredients in to a dish that her husband, Stuart, can’t resist. And Wendy said that she didn’t even notice that I couldn’t see.
This was another example of the international influences on cooking in America. Essentially, a country full of migrants from across the globe who bring and share their own cultural and culinary histories. A rich and heady mix.
Working with NATO, both Wendy and her former Royal Navy husband reminded me of my own naval career. About 40 years ago, I too was working in NATO but in Naples, Italy, and managed to persuade others that I knew something about military intelligence. It was far more interesting than paper-pushing especially when the first Soviet aircraft carrier (Kiev) came through the Mediterranean from the Black sea. Ships and aircraft from every country possible were scrambled to observe the phenomenon, take photos and track her activities – hugely exciting and impressive. It was still the time of the Cold War when even very junior officers like me were aware of international risk and tension. We felt we were making our small contribution towards peace and stability: minor pawns in a very massive game. And it did give me my first chance to visit America: an international conference on the world’s largest naval base in Norfolk, close to Virginia Beach – and so life circles around again.