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Monday 11 December 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Soda Bread

How an Irishwoman's diner became the setting for Daniel Radcliffe's new film

And how they came to sell Fool’s Gold.

What If Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If, enjoying the food at the George Street Diner

ASH FARRELLY ARRIVED in Toronto from Dublin with “$12 dollars in my pocket and a six-pack of Guinness”.

Leaving home in the 80s to find work, Farrelly has called the Canadian city home for the best part of three decades. In her own words she has “worked, got married, had a kid, got divorced and started a business”.

In the years after her divorce, Farrelly waited tables and finally decided enough was enough.

“I was waiting tables in my 30s and it got to the stage where I told myself I had to do something with myself.

“I went on the hunt for a business and came across the diner.”

The diner in question is the George Street Diner, which is just minutes from Toronto’s busy downtown area.

Oh and it recently featured in Daniel Radcliffe’s new film, What If.

1916084_1157137853324_3031352_n Paul Hosford / Paul Hosford / /

CBSFilms / YouTube

With a large chunk of the film being filmed in Dublin, it is fitting that the Toronto-based section of filming should have a Dublin connection, but how does a neighbourhood diner end up hosting Harry Potter?

“Basically, we do a lot of filming in the diner and [Elan Mastai] who wrote the movie had the diner in mind when writing it.

“He’d been there before, so it’s great.”

Mastai is certainly a fan of the restaurant which Farrelly says she took over from owners who had let it fall into disrepair, even taking to Twitter to defend its inclusion in the film.

The menu

The George Street Diner has become a haven for Irish people who land in Toronto for one particular reason.

“They come for the soda bread.

“Most of the Irish people who come in the door order the full Irish breakfast and it comes with soda bread.

“I got that recipe from a woman who must have been nearly 100 named Mary. She was bringing her husband to hospital when I met her in a place that I was waitressing.

“I told her that I was having problems making soda bread, because the flour is so different.

A couple of weeks later a letter, with no return address, arrived with three recipes for soda bread. I think she must have been one of those angels in my life.

Another surprisingly popular menu item is Fool’s Gold.

For those unfamiliar with Elvis folklore, this is the Fool’s Gold sandwich.

A favourite of The King, the Fool’s Gold is an entire white loaf, hollowed out, coated in butter, cooked and then filled with a jar of peanut butter, a jar of strawberry jam and a pound of bacon.

It’s a conversation piece in What If and demand was such that Ash added it to the diner’s menu in August. Whereupon people kept ordering it.

MOVIES Coming Soon / YouTube

“It’s brilliant. It’s very tasty. We have people come in and say it’s really nice.

“You can try it at home with two pieces of bread. Fry it on the pan.

“People order it. I’m really surprised that they do. It’s weird, because you never expect it to be something you like.”

Radcliffe is definitely a fan.

Graham Day / YouTube

Irish abroad

As part of a tight-knit Irish community in Toronto, Ash says that she sees the challenges faced by Irish people abroad.

“It’s lonely. We’ve had a few waitresses come over and be really homesick. People in Toronto don’t really talk to each other the way we do in Ireland.

“But it’s a great place, and a great place to raise children. You can be anybody you like in Toronto.”

That doesn’t mean that Dublin isn’t still home.

“It’s like being torn between two lovers. Toronto is where I went to work and I’ve worked every day since. Toronto has been very good to me. I’ve been able to start a business as a single parent.

“But Dublin is special. Ireland is special. The culture and the people make it a special place.”

Read: Yanks and Canucks in a stir as Burger King buys Tim Hortons for €7.5bn

Read: President Higgins has spoken directly to the Irish Diaspora: “We owe them a debt of gratitude.”

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