I’m not Irish, but my son boasts a quarter hit. In honor of those DNA strands as well as the fact that I freaking love themes, a few ideas for date nights this weekend that do not involve ingesting any artificially green food and booze to excess.
1. In-house dates: best dinner-and-a-movie combos with a vaguely St. Patrick’s connection.
The fine British-Irish playwright and director Martin McDonagh created one of the greatest of Irish movies, which does not take place in Ireland but In Bruges. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson are both wonderful in this dark joyride that’s written with wit so slicing-sharp, you don’t know you’ve been cut until you notice the blood all over your shoes.
A double bill of Once and The Commitments allows you to watch Glen Hansard either grow up or age backwards, depending on your preference. Either way, the soft-spoken but fiery singer and guitarist is crazy awesome and you will secretly (or not) want him to be your boyfriend. Possibly even if you are an actual boy.
Commitments is Alan Parker’s favorite of his own movies (one of my favorite memories of Criterion is hanging out with him for four hours to do the Evita interviews, he’s a director you really want to hang out in a pub with), and it’s wonderfully planned chaos. Also it was written by the great Roddy Doyle, whose Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha everyone should read.
Both of the above are on this excellent list, which made me realize all the fine Irish movies I haven’t seen, so I’ve got a little catching up to do myself. Oh, Ryan’s Daughter is on that list. It’s thoroughly overblown, but it’s also David Lean and he completely rocks even when it’s not his finest hour, which this isn’t. Gorgeous, though.
To serve with it: Colcannon! This is an awesome dish. Basically, colcannon is Irish for “I have a bunch of leftover veggies and potatoes, because I’m Irish and I always have freaking potatoes.” This is my daughter’s absolute favorite thing to eat and she wants me to make it whenever she’s around. Here’s what you do:
Saute some sliced leeks in butter while you boil water for potatoes.
I always leave skins on for mashed potatoes. Cut them in chunks and boil them.
Figure out what greens you want to use. If broccoli, just cut up and throw in the potato pot for the last few minutes. If kale or cabbage, slice thinly and sauté with the leeks.
Drain the potatoes, put back in the pot and mash. Add the sauteed stuff, as well as the butter/milk/sour cream/yogurt/whatever you do to mash potatoes however you mash them. A heaping handful of minced parsley is pretty great mixed in.
This image is from Vegan YumYum, with an excellent recipe in case you prefer stuff all written out and measured.
Since I’m not a vegan, I would serve this with a deep green salad; I would cook up a little bacon and red onion, deglaze the pan with some balsamic, and toss with baby spinach, dried cherries, and maybe top with toasted almonds.
Drink the potable of your choice. For dessert, do something exciting with Bailey’s.
2. Pretend you’re Ulysses and that you live in Dublin.
Start off at a pub and make a list of every Irish thing, however cliché, you can think of; you know, a rainbow, a leprechaun, emeralds, a pot of gold, all that Darby O’Gill and the little people hokum, as well as James Joyce and Molly Bloom and Liam Neeson. Then spend the night roaming around trying to find something representative of each list item. Dates with agendas that aren’t around getting laid are really fun, and, conversely, give participants a better chance of getting laid because, well, what better way to celebrate having fun? Make the last thing on your list some Bailey’s or Irish Breakfast Tea and end up toasting a pretty awesome night, possibly at a location in which the aforementioned laid objective can comfortably occur.
3. The Snobby Literary Celebration for a group of 2 or more.
This one requires a fireplace. Just because it does. There are so many Irish writers who completely rock. Read a poem or quote from an Irish writer (in addition to Joyce and Doyle, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Anna Burns, Brendan Behan, Edna O’Brien, J.P. Donleavy, etc., etc.) Play music by The Chieftains and Van Morrison. Read something from Dubliners—”Araby” is awesome—and gasp at its loveliness. Feel all sexy and united because you discovered something beautiful with someone you care about.
And if this inspired you, take a picture and send it to comments. Here’s wishing all a lovely weekend.