Get ready for shamrocks and green-clad revellers raising a pint (or 10) to Ireland's favourite patron saint. Yep, St Patrick's Day is just around the corner. And while it's easy enough to throw on a green T-shirt and mosey on down to your local bar to celebrate, we decided to see how Four in Hand's Colin Fassnidge, our favourite fun-loving Irish chef, gets down on 17 March each year.
Here in Australia we know St Paddy's as a day for Guinness (read: lots of Guinness), but in Ireland, Fassnidge tells us, it's more of a family affair. "Back home it's about eating and drinking," he says. "Here it's more of a drinking thing, but I'm not really into that."
Instead, he celebrates quietly with family and friends, keeping the origins of the holiday as a Catholic feast day and a quasi-official celebration of all things Irish in mind.
The dress code, of course, is a big part of the day as well. Even if green's not your colour there's no escaping it. "Oh yeah, you have to wear green," says Fassnidge. "You have to wear a shamrock, actually. In Ireland you wear a badge. It's a ribbon with the tricolour on it and usually a hat. Every kid growing up has to wear it. My mother still sends them over to me and the whole family."
If you must go out to celebrate in Australia, he suggests keeping away from the tacky traps in the city and opting for an Irish bar that's a little more low-key (Durty Nelly's in Sydney's Paddington, for example). And, when it comes to drinking, steer clear of the fluoro stuff. "Don't drink green beer," he says, "even though it's quite trendy at the moment."
His final word of advice? Recover with a bacon sandwich. "That's very Irish."
Planning your own St Patrick's Day get-together? Here are a couple of Irish recipes to get you started.