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Image / Living / Food & Drink

Niamh O’Sullivan on the importance of enjoying great food in good company


By Sarah Gill
18th Feb 2023
Niamh O’Sullivan on the importance of enjoying great food in good company

Here, we hear from Niamh O’Sullivan on everything from her culinary inspiration to standout foodie experiences.

Starting her blog close to ten years ago, Niamh O’Sullivan has grown quite the loyal following on social media by sharing her life online.

From her unique approach to sustainability and the promotion of slow living to travel, fashion and wellness tips, Niamh is largely known for her top notch foodie advice.

Sharing recipes and restaurant recommendations regularly, we thought it only fitting that we catch up with the woman herself to get an insight into the role food, in all its many forms, plays in her life.

What are your earliest memories of food?

My first memories are of summers spent in Waterford with my granny. Tomato soup was my favourite food, and I had a favourite bowl that it was always served in (I still have it today!). I used to always put boiled potatoes into the soup and mash them up – weird, I know!

What was the first meal you learned to cook?

My sister and I would always be cooking up something or other in the kitchen. A Darina Allen sausage spaghetti recipe was our favourite.

How did food become a part of your career/business/personal brand?

I started my blog when I still lived at home. I was on sick leave from my full time job at the time, so had a lot of free time on my hands. Food was always a huge love and interest of mine, and it was central to our family growing up, so naturally it was the initial focus of my blog when I began.

What’s your go-to breakfast?

If it’s not toast with literally anything on top, it’s usually something oat based. Either porridge, overnight oats or oat bran – Flahavan’s oats only, of course!

If you’re impressing friends and family at a dinner party, what are you serving up?

Either a roast chicken or a cut of beef with literally all of the trimmings (including the perfect bottle of wine) or else a delicious bowl of curry with all of the supporting acts laid out on the table – yoghurts, chutneys, naan breads, everything!

Who is your culinary inspiration?

My mum. She taught me how to cook, she is so adventurous with food and I trust her opinion over everyone else’s. If I make something and she likes it, I know I’m on to a winner.

What would your last meal on earth be?

Roast chicken with every last trimming you could think up. Also, a sea of gravy is essential.

What’s your go-to comfort food?

Pasta – any type with any sauce, I’m not fussy.

What’s the go-to quick meal you cook when you’re tired and hungry?

Something noodle based for sure. Stir fries are the quickest dish to whip up and you’ll never make the same one twice.

What is one food or flavour you cannot stand?

Celery. I can smell or taste it in a dish a mile away. Although, credit to my mum who has gotten good at hiding it over the years!

Hangover cure?

Chips and mayo. With anything and everything.

Sweet or savoury?

Savoury.

Fine dining or pub grub?

Probably pub grub… but it has to be extremely good pub grub! It also depends on the day of the week and the company I’m keeping. This isn’t an easy question!

Favourite restaurant in Ireland?

We have so many incredible restaurants in Ireland. A standout meal for me was in The Oak Room in Adare Manor. I love La Maison in Dublin city centre, The Ballymore Inn in Kildare, and Chips for the best fish and chips to-go in Dungarvan. Michael’s in Mount Merrion, Michie Sushi, and Kai in Galway are also high on my list.

Best coffee in Ireland?

We recently bought a bag of coffee beans from Ponaire, a Tipperary based brand, and love it. Coffee House Lane is another great one to have on hand for making at home. Hey Darling is my local in my hometown of Naas, it’s a gorgeous little spot. If we’re talking overall coffee experience, I have to mention Thru The Green in Dundrum – we need more drive thru coffee options in Ireland!

Go-to beverage accompaniment?

O’Donnells cheese and onion crisps, or a good cheese board if we’re talking wine.

What are your thoughts on the Irish foodie scene?

Ireland has so many incredible chefs and restaurants. I don’t think we give our foodie scene enough credit. In my opinion, we have the best ingredients and produce on hand in Ireland.

What’s your favourite thing about cooking?

It instantly relaxes me. I find when I’m feeling overwhelmed or anxious, starting a dish from scratch switches my focus straight away. By the time dinner is ready, a very calm Niamh will be plating it up!

What does food — sitting down to a meal with friends, mindfully preparing a meal, nourishment, etc — mean to you?

Sitting down to a meal with friends or family is how I would spend my last moments on earth if I had the choice. It’s my favourite thing to do. What, when and where I eat is the crux of every day for me. A good meal = a great day in my books!

Food for thought — Is there room for improvement within the Irish food/restaurant/hospitality scene?

I don’t think it’s for me to say to be honest. If I had one wish it would be that restaurants are open longer or every day of the week, but I know it’s not feasible. That’s one thing I loved about living in New York, you could have whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted. Sushi at midnight on a Tuesday? No problem!

Chef’s kiss — Tell us about one standout foodie experience you’ve had recently.

My sister recently made a pot of Eric Matthews bolognese for the family. I have never been so surprised by a dish in my life. If you haven’t tried it, you must. It’s not like any bolognese I have ever eaten before.

Compliments to the chef — Now’s your chance to sing the praises of a talented chef, beloved restaurant or particularly talented foodie family member.

I probably have to give a shout out to my sister Helen. She’s definitely one of the best cooks I know!

Secret ingredient — What, in your estimation, makes the perfect dining experience?

The company you keep! If you can’t help that, a good bottle of wine.