Apr 14

The Best Coffee Shop in Ireland*

I’m torn.

Should I tell you about this superb coffee place or not?

If I do, you’ll know about my favourite den. You’ll go there. You’ll love it. You’ll sit on my favourite stool and I’ll never be able to get rid of you.

At the same time, I want the wonderful people who run it to succeed. I want the place to do healthy business so that I can go there for many more years. So I shouldn’t keep it to myself. That wouldn’t do them (and by association, me) any good.

Filter Coffee Shop, Cork

Filter is a home for me. It is a place where I am comfortable. I am welcome there. It fits my personality.

There is a bar made from repurposed doors, sanded down with love by the owner, Eoin MacCarthy. There is art on the walls and jars of coffee on the shelves. There is time for a chat. Time for educating me about coffee.

The place drips with character and story.

All this before you realise that this is a place where coffee is served with care, attention, diligence and love by both Eoin and his barista compadre Alex O’Callaghan.

This. Is. A. Great. Coffee. Shop.

Please go there.

The next section is an advert for me – please don’t feel you have to read it. Skip to the previous blog post instead. It has a cartoon.

Would you like a video?

The boys at Filter didn’t pay me to produce the video at the top of the post. I love the place so much, I wanted you to see it. You’ll have gathered that.

I’m guessing that you love your business too. Would you like everyone to see how great it is? If so, I’m doing a limited time offer on web videos like the one above at what a friend of mine calls a “whisper rate”. Basically, it’s a very, very, very good deal.

Click here to email me if you’d like details: Web Video Special Offer

* I am in no way qualified to make such a sweeping judgment. From my own personal point of view, though, Filter is the best coffee shop in the country. In fact, based solely on my own experience, I can quite confidently say that I think it is the best coffee shop on the planet.

Mar 14

Behind the Pixels – Episode 8 – David Bailey and Vlogging

David Bailey produces great storytelling videos about life in Bosnia. His engaging films are produced using nothing more than a smartphone and a few apps. He likes to keep things simple. He also likes to keep the time he invests in producing films to a minimum.

In this episode of Behind the Pixels, he talks about telling appealing stories using smartphone video. He also gives tips about overcoming self-confidence or notions that your story isn’t worth telling.

Oct 13

How to Make Yourself Look Good by Making Someone Else Look Great

As storytellers (for ourselves, for our businesses) we face many challenges. Not least of which is that nobody is waiting for us to tell them just how smashing we are. “We’re dynamite, don’t you agree?” is a pretty thin storyline. Nevertheless, it’s one that many businesses peddle. After a while, the world merely shrugs its shoulders and moves on to more interesting things.

One way to overcome this is to shine the spotlight on someone else.

Take a look at the video here. Watch it all the way through because there is a relevant question coming up.


Continue reading →

Jul 13

Video: The 12-Mile Menu

What does “local” mean to you?

The Oxford Dictionary defines local as “relating or restricted to a particular area or one’s neighbourhood”. That’s fairly inconclusive. Other dictionaries are equally obtuse.

I’m just as bad. I merely have a sense of “local”. It feels local if it’s within a 20-minute drive. More or less.

That makes it hard to talk about local food. Where do you draw the boundary between local and regional?

It’s not like we don’t have enough issues with labelling as it is. Let’s not get into what “Irish” food is.

A solution

Kevin Aherne, who owns Sage Restaurant in Midleton, Co. Cork, has provided his own answer. For him, local falls within a 12-mile radius of the restaurant. It’s an arbitrary line, but as good as any I think. It gives him an anchor for his menu at any rate.

Going this route is a huge commitment. Kevin has to get to know all of his suppliers individually and build a relationship with each in turn. Instead of a single centralized delivery, he has many. It is a time-consuming process.

His approach has advantages though. Buying from suppliers within 12 miles of the restaurant enhances accountability. He knows exactly where each ingredient has come from. He can vet it, keeping standards high. He can ask questions of his suppliers.

He can also get their stories and pass those on to his own customers. These days, there is benefit in being able to name the farmer who raised your beef or your pork, and being able to tell you about the man who runs the abattoir where the animals were slaughtered. Through stories, trust is built. Trust that what Kevin puts on a plate for you is wholesome as well as delicious.

Maybe that’s something local gives us: trust. We trust it because we know where it came from and we know who produced it.

Jul 13

Video: Smoked Salmon by the Burren Smokehouse

The Burren Smokehouse in Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare, is one of Ireland’s best fish smokers. Good enough to for its salmon to be served to the President of Ireland and the Queen of England any way.

I’d worked with Birgitta, who runs the smokehouse, before – producing a series of documentary photographs. At the time, I thought it was hard work. Getting up at 3AM to photograph master smoker Peadar Reilly working his magic on the fish: filletting, salting and prepping the smoker with oak shavings. I mean, 3AM. It’s ungodly. No wonder it’s known as the Devil’s Hour. Continue reading →

May 13

Video: Brill with Truffled Savoy Cabbage and Crispy Bacon

Chef Barry McLaughlin cooks some pretty special stuff. I once ate close to his entire Poacher’s Inn menu during a photo shoot. (Photography may be not be as well paid as it once was, but there are still perks – though I should stop wondering why my waistline won’t shift).

Barry speaks beautifully about his food and the thinking behind it. Watching him work is mesmerising. He moves fluidly and quickly, producing sumptuousness in minutes.

On Wednesday, we spent some time together and came up with this:

Brill with Truffled Savoy Cabbage and Crispy Bacon from Roger Overall on Vimeo.