Wednesday, March 17, 2021

St. Patrick's Day Feast

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Happy shamrocks to everyone! Did you know that the Irish don't actually celebrate St. Patrick's Day--or at least they didn't before the advent of television gave them a taste of how it was done across the Atlantic. In fact, March 17th is a religious holiday in Ireland, celebrating the death of the saint, and until 1961 pubs weren't even allowed to open on the day. 

Nor do the Irish eat corned beef and cabbage. The Irish ate ham with their cabbage and potatoes, but as ham was too expensive for the poor Irish immigrants in New York, the wives bought leftover salted beef from the ships that came into the docks. It was the cheapest meat available and they had to boil it three times to remove the brine. It was those persecuted and reviled immigrants who in the mid 1800s began gathering on St. Patrick's Day as way to express their identity in an alien culture. By the time the 20th century rolled around, the Irish had assimilated and the tradition had spread across America, celebrated by Irish and non-Irish alike. 

Remember parades? And Irish festivals??

My least favorite St. Patrick's Day tradition (other than green beer and crowded bars) is the pinching, beloved of grade school boys. Who on earth thought up that annoying thing? I never seemed to have anything green to wear and would have to endure being pinched all day.

Although I don't have a scrap of Irish blood (at least as far as I know), the day gives me an excuse for a little Irish feast. This is what I'm planning for tonight--

And I'm going to try cooking the corned beef in the Instant Pot. Any advice on this appreciated! I love Irish soda bread, too, and I remembered to buy some buttermilk, so if I have time I'll bake a loaf. My hubby is less than enthusiastic about the corned beef and cabbage, but as it's only once a year... I just hope the horseradish I've had in the fridge since Christmas is still good.

REDS and readers, how about you? Any special meals or celebrations for St. Paddy's?

85 comments:

  1. We, too, will have corned beef and cabbage with potatoes, carrots, Irish soda bread, and apple cake for dessert. I’m debating between putting the meat in the oven or in the crock pot.
    And I have a green shirt to wear . . . .

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    1. Joan, I'll take your apple cake!

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    2. My horseradish was so old I didn't dare open the jar. I ordered a fresh root from Whole Foods. They were out!

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  2. Our horseradish is equally old. I am convinced it’s fine.
    St Patrick’s Day in Boston is an acquired taste, which I have never acquired.
    Xxxxxx

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    1. As long as the horseradish isn't green, it's good to go.

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    2. a couple years ago before our trip to Scotland, we went to Dublin for a few days--a lovely city! The cabbie who took us to the airport couldn't get over how fabulous St. P's day in Boston was! He must have gone from bar to bar all night and he felt so welcomed by the Americans!

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  3. Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone! I have gone out for an "Irish" meal (Irish beef stew) before, and I've had a green drink on the day (not green beer, as I don't like beer). But it seems it's been quite a while since I've done anything to celebrate it, other than put up a cover photo on my FB page commemorating it. It does appeal to me though. The jolly mood and taking a day to enjoy it with fun. When I could go out, not last year or this, I would wear something green and my St. Patrick's Day earrings.

    I won't be cooking corned beef or cabbage, as I don't like either one of them. I think I've got chicken on tap for tomorrow. Maybe I'll put some green food dye on it. Hahaha!

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    1. Happy St. Patrick's Day, Kathy. We all need little occasions to celebrate these days.

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  4. Half Flaherty here, so I happily dive into the customs, although I'd opt for a Guiness beer beef stew instead of corned beef. Our favorite bistro has a special Bailey's Irish Cream chocolate cake on offer tonight (and boy, can Christina ever bake), so we might be getting takeout for dinner!

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    1. Oh, my Baily's Irish Cream chocolate cake sounds divine. I say, go for it, Edith!

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    2. Her husband, chef Paul, is offering corned beef and cabbage - and I bet it will be divine!

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  5. The Byward Market neighbourhood in Ottawa where I live has several Irish pubs. One of the few times I like drinking Guinness. And we have a St. Paddy's Parade.

    NOT LAST YEAR, everything was CLOSED due to Ontario's State of Emergency. I flew back from San Diego, arriving at 11 pm, ready to start my 14-day quarantine at home. SIGH

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    1. This year, NO parade again but Ottawa has been out of lockdown in the orange zone so the Irish pubs will be open for both limited indoor and patio dining. It is supposed to reach +8C/46F this afternoon and only drop to 0C/32F tonight. I won't go but I will wear a bit of green and celebrate at home with some Irish stew and soda bread.

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    2. REMINDER
      1st anniversary First Chapter Fun (FCF) festivities online all day, and a special 7 pm EDT live event tonight with HANNAH, HANK and FCF members.

      IT WILL BE FUN!!

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    3. so glad you're out of lockdown Grace, and thanks for the reminder about FCF

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    4. ROBERTA: Yes, it has been nice to be able to go inside the library. Small businesses/shopping malls are partially opened BUT # of new COVID cases have been trending steadily upwards.

      BUT Ottawa public health thinks we will got back to RED zone next week with more restrictions. About 50% of new COVID cases in Ontario are the new variant strains with exponential growth.

      I just hope Ottawans don't go crazy tonight celebrating in the pubs/bars and at indoor private parties.

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    5. Yes, thanks for the FCF reminder, Grace! I hope we don't have an uptick here from St. Paddy's celebrations, especially with our new full-capacity, no-masks rules:-(

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    6. DEBS: Yes, your governor's decision to open up businesses fully, with no masks is pretty shocking. Even with the longest lockdown in North America in Toronto, the new variant cases are surging in the province. The Ontario government will probably declare an official third wave of COVID cases and put us back into more restrictions.

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  6. There are some Briscoes somewhere on the hillbilly side of my family, so I'm at least a tiny bit Irish, but St. Patrick's Day was never a big deal when I was growing up--except, of course, for those pinching grade school boys. I always made sure I had something green for the day.

    My most cheerful memory of St. Patrick's Day dates back to my spring break trip to New York City when I was in college. Our group had a hotel just off Times Square, and I think all the NYPD's bagpipe bands started tuning up around 5 am in the street outside my window. I had planned a trip to the Frick Museum for the day, so I got to see some of the parade as it got started, and caught more of it as it wound its way toward Central Park. Huge fun!

    I have a couple of green things to wear today, and may play a bit of Patrick Ball's music (https://youtu.be/-7oBdwV1u_Q if you want to listen), but no corned beef, cabbage, and soda bread unless I get a visit from the leprechauns.

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    1. Gigi, I would love to see the St. Patrick's Day parade in NYC. One day, when they can have it again. Thanks for the Patrick Ball link! And if there are leftovers, a leprechaun might bring you some:-)

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    2. Thanks, Deb! In a true NYC moment, I found myself watching the parade next to a very traditionally dressed Jewish guy who proudly sported a KISS ME, I'M IRISH! button on his lapel. It was a day to remember.

      ALSO: Over on my Weird Blog (https://weirdsisterspublishing.com/index.php/the-weird-blog/) I'm cruising through the history of the women who write the mysteries we love. Y'all will probably recognize some of the faces.

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    3. A great blog post on women in crime fiction, Gigi! (And thanks for the mention:-))

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  7. Happy St. Patrick's Day to all my friends who think they have some blarney in them. I'll wear green, but we'll stay home. Sometimes I do make corned beef and cabbage, but not this year. I could make an Irish soda bread...hmm. Debs, thanks for the background on American/Irish traditions.

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    1. Agree about the background - I had no idea!

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    2. You can't beat The History Channel website! Rhys will know more than I do, I expect, with her Molly Murphy books, about the extreme prejudice against the Irish in the US East Coast cities. They came escaping the potato famine in the 1840s, but they were not generally welcomed. Many of the Irish moved west. And many fought in the Civil War, which began to ease the bad feeling against them. All fascinating stuff!

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  8. Happy St. Patrick's Day! For me, it marks one full year of working from home. I'll mark the day by wearing something green, but definitely no beef and cabbage here.

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    1. Amanda, most of us have celebrated one year in lockdown this past week. For us, it was the 12th.

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  9. I doubt I'll wear green, not having anything I can think of in my current ready-to-wear! Due to a month of pins and rods, now replaced by an enormous splint/cast, the only thing that fits comfortable is a flannel nightie.

    In years past I've corned a brisket, starting a week before the day I planned to serve it. Its really easy and there are dozens of online recipes. If ever you try this, you won't go back to commercially corned beef. Trust me. This year we won't be having the traditional meal tho. It's beyond Julie's culinary skills, and, besides, it's not her favorite food. So, unless someone shows up with a corned beef sandwich, I'll do without. No biggie. These days I'm seriously into scrambled eggs.

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    1. ANN: i totally agree with you are making my own corned beef brisket...super easy!
      But cooking a brisket for just me is too much, hence the Irish stew, soda bread meal. And maybe I will buy some hot cross buns.

      How soon will you they remove the cast? I got switched to a removable fracture boot 2 weeks after surgery.

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    2. Ann, maybe next year I'll give it a try.

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  10. Very interesting and instructive post Deborah.
    I was visiting Ireland on this day ten years ago. During the day, I saw people wearing green and at night, there was a party at the hotel but I figured it was intended for the visitors.
    No Irish ancestors known and I won’t cook an Irish meal today.
    I participated in a collective cooking last month. We cooked an Irish lamb stew and a Guinness and ginger cake, both very delicious.

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  11. I loved visiting Ireland and eating Irish food--not corned beef, but boxty. Tonight, we'll have spinach and ricotta cheese pie.

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  12. Happy St. Patrick's Day to all!

    I grew up in a large Irish family, and St. Patrick's Day was my mother's absolute favorite of the year. There was always a family party on March 17, with aunts and uncles and cousins. It was not at all the green beer scene, though lots of music and revelry. My sisters and I took step-dancing lessons when we were young, and danced reels and jigs and hornpipes at various community events throughout the month of March. Last spring our trip to Ireland and Scotland had to be postponed, but we'll be fully vaccinated soon. Next year in Dingle!

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    1. Our trip to Counties Cork and Galway was postponed last May, too. Next year!

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    2. With all my time in England and Scotland, I have never been to Ireland! Once I had it all planned to go to the famous cooking school in County Cork as research for a book, but my agent nixed it. That book ended up being Now May You Weep, set in the Scottish Highlands. But I will get to Ireland soon!

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    3. Both daughters of one of the musicians I work with got seriously into step dancing--wigs and costumes and international competitions! It was amazing to watch them. It took so much dedication from those young women, and from their parents as well!

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  13. I had my corned beef (no cabbage!) on Sunday; I just couldn't wait. I actually am wearing green today but I hadn't even thought about it when I got my top out of my closet. Since I own a lot of green clothing the odds were really with that happening. Irish soda bread sounds very good - somewhere I have the delicious recipe that Jenn gave us a few years ago.

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    1. I've made whole wheat Irish soda bread for years, but when I looked the other day, the recipe was not in the book I expected. Hmm. Another look required, and if that fails, the Internet!

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  14. My maternal grandmother was an O'Bryan, so lots of reasons to celebrate the Irish in me. We wore the green and did a bit of pinching, but that was the extent of it when I was growing up. I'd rather have a reuben with a pickle and chips than corned beef and cabbage. Hmm, the cafe next door to the library does an acceptable reuben....

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    1. I'd probably go for the acceptable reuben, myself. Just about can't beat a good reuben.

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    2. Gigi, once on St. Patrick's Day, I called a local restaurant that was featuring corned beef and cabbage on the day's menu to ask if they would make me a reuben (which was never on the menu). And they did!

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    3. FLORA: Yum, I love a good reuben, too. We prefer eating that than corned beef and cabbage.

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    4. That's how I judge any place that calls itself a deli. Can they do a good reuben?

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    5. Danielle, corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss cheese grilled on rye bread. Thousand island dressing slathered on while grilling or on the side.

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    6. GIGI: EXACTLY, a good reuben is my benchmark test for a deli!

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    7. Thank you. Never heard of that here, probably because corned beef is not very popular in Quebec.

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    8. DANIELLE: Yes, they don't sell corned beef in delis here in Ottawa, so no reuben sandwiches.
      Montreal smoked meat here is popular here in Ottawa.

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  15. I don't have any Irish blood, but The Hubby does. But the one time we made corned beef, neither of use liked it very much. Too oily. So no particular traditions here.

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  17. No Irish eating at our house, hubs made fresh andouille so we are cobbling together a recipe from that. It will have potatoes!

    Favorite St. Paddy's Day memory was from 1977. I worked in New York City in an old building just off 5th Avenue and I sat on the window sill of my office and watched the Parade go by. It was huge fun. Went to our local Irish Pub, McCann's, after work for Irish Coffee.

    When I moved to Maine I discovered that a snow storm on St. Paddy's Day is called Sheila's Broom or Sheila's Brush. Legend has it (as I was told) that Sheila was St. Patrick's wife and the snow is the result of her spring cleaning. I wonder if Patrick knew he had a missus? Do you think someone was pulling my leg?

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    1. The saint might be surprised to find he had a wife!

      We have a local Irish pub here, but they have been virulent anti-maskers this past year so I don't think I'd be inclined to go there, even if an inside crowd appealed. I do actually like Guiness, though.

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    2. Guinness is good, as the ad says. : )

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    3. KAIT: Sheila's Broom (or brush) is a great name for a March 17 snow storm!

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    4. According to the interwebs (which are always right, right? LOL) Sheelah was either St. Patrick's wife or mother, according to Irish lore.

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    5. Thanks, Liz! I guess the legend depends on the Church's stance on celibacy whether she was Mrs. or Mamma!

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  18. I have a little green, normally I wear my mother's green scarab ring. I think I remember if you were pinched by one of those boys and you were wearing green, you could pinch the boy 5 times. My sister thinks that she doesn't need to wear green due to her green eyes. As for that corned beef dinner. Never my favorite meal but we had it for years. One of my lunch places does a corned beef Ruben only the week of St. Pat's, that's about the only way I'll eat corned beef intentionally.

    I used to work with a lady from Ireland. She was married on St. Patrick's Day. I was surprised she could marry during Lent, especially in the catholic church, in Ireland. She explained that one could marry only on St. Pat's day, in Ireland, for good cause. Moving to America was the good cause for her.

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  19. It's a bit off topic, but I wanted to add that I made Lucy's Coronation Chicken recipe last night, and it was delicious! Rick was a little skeptical, but he loved it and is looking forward to having the leftovers on a sandwich today. The only bad thing is that my house still smells like curry!

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  20. Deborah,

    Green is my favourite color and I love wearing green. I have hazel green eyes and whenever I wear green, my eyes become very green.

    Love eating potato pancakes.

    Diana

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  21. When we lived in Minnesota it was said that Minneapolis was settled by the Swedes and Norwegians and St Paul by the Irish and Germans. We drove up to St Paul one year for the St Paddy's celebration. Fun, but cold, parade downtown and then we walked to an Irish pub with friends. The house band played Irish music and we had to suffer through one maudlin drunken rendition of O Danny Boy by some retired police or firemen. The band took a break and I went to the ladies room. You could hear the music in there as well as in the bar as they played CDs to fill in. Johnny Cash singing Ring of Fire came on just as two tipsy women walked in. I was in a stall, trying hard not to laugh at their conversation. "I didn't know that was an Irish song." "Oh. It's not. It's a western song." All said very carefully as tipsy people will do. I relayed all to Frank and to this day we associate Ring of Fire with St Patrick's Day. Have a happy one!

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  22. It's always a special celebration on St. Patrick's day, because it's also my sister's birthday! I was envious as a kid, because she always got a cool shamrock-shaped cake (our mother was great at baking theme cakes with no special pans at all.) Then, when she was in her twenties and we both lived in DC, it was great going out with her on her birthday, because she would inevitably get free drinks at any bar we went to.

    Tonight she and her family are eating (outside) at a dog-themed brewery, dogs welcome. I don't know if it's being born on March 17th, but she's a person who's known how to have fun her whole life.

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    1. A dog-themed brewery! What a great idea!

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    2. Julia,

      I love that your sister's birthday is on the 17th of March.

      Diana

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  23. Now I'm sorry I didn't think to buy the ingredients to make Reubens. This may require a quick trip to the store tomorrow.

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  24. I'm wearing a green "Kiss Me, I'm a Runner" shirt today. But that's it for me.

    And, since I am working from home no one will get to see my shirt, either. My jacket was zipped up when I was in the store before work.

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  26. In England corned beef is known as salt beef and there are some wonderful--and famous--shops that specialize in salt beef. The best is Beigel Bake in Brick Lane, which serves (sans pandemic) 24 hours a day. Friends took me once at two in the morning after we'd been out to a jazz club. We stood in the long queue, then ate our sandwiches standing up, along with paper cups of tea. That was one of my favorite London adventures. The East End of London was heavily Jewish at one time, hence the beigels and salt beef among today's mostly Asian culture.

    Another favorite place for salt beef sandwiches is Selfridges in Oxford Street. I've often popped in for one while out shopping.

    Here's a list of the top ten bagel and salt beef sandwiches in London, which includes both of the above.
    https://www.abouttimemagazine.co.uk/food/top-10-salt-beef-sandwiches-in-london/

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    1. DEBS: Thanks for the link. I did not know that salt beef = corned beef.

      Growing up in Toronto in a Jewish neighbourhood, I ate corned beef all the time. When I asked for it here in Ottawa delis/restaurants, I got a blank look. Instead, they serve MONTREAL SMOKED MEAT which is more like pastrami. The only day you might see corned beef (and cabbage) at a pub/restaurant is today. I have to cook my own corned beef brisket as Ann suggested above to get my fix.

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    2. I remember reading about that in one of your books, Deborah. I liked reading about it so much I had to find out more! That's on my mental list of places to go if I ever do get to London.

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    3. That's in Necessary as Blood, Judi. And going to Beigel Bake was necessary research!

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  27. I grew up in a rural community where most last names were English and Scottish. School kids heard they should wear Green if they felt Irish, orange if not. We were ignorant that orange represented protestants and English control, and green catholics and Irish freedom. Not a clue to the troubles in Northern Ireland.

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  28. Cooking corned brisket and cabbage (and potatoes and carrots). We don't have any Irish whiskey on hand, but we could have some Bailey's for dessert.

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  29. Oh, I do miss a good St. Patrick's Day parade - New Haven was always fun for that. And I LOVE Irish soda bread, corned beef, cabbage, and peas! Hub is cooking up an Irish storm and I for one am toasting him with my Bailey's. Slainte!

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  30. I missed it again? I live too far from Boston

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