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Ireland is now the perfect country.

We've visited here seven or eight times, and even lived here for a summer back in the mid-seventies. (Some people had the "summer of love." We had "the summer of Guinness.") And the only thing we've never liked was the fact that the pubs were so damned smoky. That's tough to take if you love pubs but are allergic to tobacco…

But this week, Ireland has implemented a ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants…which means that this is now a perfect country. It is a decision that is not without its detractors, but people largely seem to think it is a good idea…even some smokers, who say that they're going to use the motivation to try and quit.

Another ongoing revolution in Ireland has been the amazing improvement in the restaurants and food available here. While there may have been some justifiable criticism of the cuisine in the past, the food here just keeps getting better and better.

We're in Dublin moderating the CIES "Food Business in Society" conference (which we'll have some thoughts about next week). And last night, PepsiCo - which is the primary sponsor of the meeting - took us all out to dinner at Chapter One, a wonderful restaurant on the north side of Parnell Square that emphasizes organic and seasonal produce. It was just a grand meal - we had an amazing lasagne made of crab, shellfish and fennel, and then a main course of "Aberdeen angus fillet of beef, button mushrooms, a chestnut and smoked bacon dumpling, spinach, béarnaise sauce and cocotte potato. The wine was fabulous - a 2001 Crozes Hermitage "Les Jalets" Jaboulet (which, while we may have trouble pronouncing, we had no trouble drinking). And dessert was a warm blueberry pudding with sauce anglaise.

Yumm…

This is tough duty here. We hope you all appreciate how hard we're working to stay informed about the major issues affecting the food business.

Work, work, work…
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