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Fred is back in town. Frederic Desourmeaux*, the big French chef with the magic touch in the kitchen, is back in town and heading up Brendan Cashman’s impressive team in Huguenot, the new French Bistro and Wine Bar in Carey’s Lane. The venture marks a return too for Brendan to the city centre where he previously enjoyed enormous success with Augustine's.
And it is a French bistro. Make no mistake about that. Lots of produce being sourced from the Cork area but the dishes are unmistakably Gallic. Classics such as French Onion Soup, Coq au Vin and Tarte au Citron (all keenly priced) stand out in the menu as do French cheeses and French wines.
For me, it’s like strolling down town and going on holidays. Even the menu is in French. But worry not! It is also in English and there are some daecent Cork accents in among the European. It is a lovely restaurant, spread over four floors. Downstairs you have reception and a place to enjoy a wine or a coffee and the next two floors is where you'll dine in space and comfort.
Grilled Morteau sausage
We settled in in midweek and took our time with that new menu, nibbling on some fresh French bread and sipping some Bordeaux (Chateau Gait Garriga Semillon and the Chateau Ste Marie Merlot/Cab Franc).
Settled on Stuffed Chavignol Goats Cheese on toasted brioche, beetroot, herb salad and pesto and the Grilled Morteau sausage, warm Puy lentils salad, parsley shallots vinaigrette. The Cheese looked amazing and both tasted delicious. We were winning.
And the meal continued on a high note. My mains was the perfectly cooked Pan Fried fillet of Hake, Ragout of squid, chorizo and roast pepper, garlic Aioli and pesto. Small things can make a big difference in restaurant meals; at the very least they are an indicator of quality. And the small things here, the chorizo for instance and also the exquisite mashed potato that accompanied the mains, made a difference and underlined the quality of the kitchen.
CL had chosen the Braised Beef Cheeks (above), glazed baby vegetables, mousseline potatoes, and smoked bacon crisps. A superb offering, all done to a “t” including those baby vegetables. The beef itself - I had a few mouthfuls, there was no shortage - was magnificent, melt in the mouth stuff.
Took my time choosing dessert. Was tempted by the Cafe Gourmand but narrowed it down to a final two: the Forest Fruit Clafoutis and the Lemon Tart. Finally took the Tarte au Citron and its Raspberry Coulis. More culinary magic from M. Fred! Will just have to go through everything on that dessert menu.
Indeed, a quick return to Huguenot is on the cards. Very Highly Recommended!
* Just to let you know....Fred is no longer working at Huguenot (this update 28.09.14)
Brendan Cashman, Cork’s award
winning chef, is back in business. His new venture is in Wilton and is an Italian
restaurant called Gallo & Galetti. It is on the main road, opposite the
Cork University Hospital, between the Shopping Centre and the Topaz.
The first thing that struck
me on last week’s visit was the big team available to service the customers.
And it seems a well drilled team as service was friendly and efficient.
I started off with the
Finocchhio and Arancia Salad (Shaved fennel and orange salad with extra virgin
olive oil and rocket). A lovely light starter. CL’s Antipasto was also
delicious: Semi-dried tomatoes and roast marinated sweet red peppers. Hers cost
€3.50 while mine came to €7.50.
Quite a few pizzas and pastas
to choose from as you’d expect and these are also available on the lunch menu.
My pick was the Penne all’arrabbiata & Pollo (Sautéed chicken with roast
garlic, tomato, chilli basil and cream). Chicken was plentiful (the spice was
moderate) and good value at €14.00.
Had seen somewhere that this
was known as the “angry sauce”, so I went checking, at least as far as
Wikipedia, and here I was informed: Arrabbiata sauce, or sugo all'arrabbiata in
Italian, is a spicy sauce for pasta made from garlic, tomatoes, and red chilli
peppers cooked in olive oil. "Arrabbiata" literally means
"angry" in Italian, and the name of the sauce is due to the heat of
the chilli peppers.
Meat and fish dishes feature
more strongly in the evening menu and CL’s pick was the Pan Roast Chicken and
Tuscan ratatouille (16.95). No translation problems here. Just a simple dish
yet a superb one.
Not too many desserts listed
but all were tempting, even the smaller ones such as the Affogato and the
Coffee and chocolate truffles. But no small one for me! Just had to try the
Tiramisu. Not too sure which of the many recipes was used here – Brendan
himself was off duty on the night – but it was a sweet square of sinfulness
with a good input of coffee.
Speaking of coffee, we did
finish off with a couple of cups. Green Bean is the supplier here and the
coffee was excellent. So too was the wine: an organic Chardonnay from Spanish
producer Senorio de Ayud (€20.00 a bottle).
We knew it would be good as we had enjoyed it a few weeks back at the
Douglas Tea Rooms.
Chef Brendan Cashman brought his cooking magic to CIT this week. Turkey, Smoked Salmon, Pan Roast Squab Pigeon and a dark Chocolate Cake were all on the list but it was brining that caught the attention of the audience.
Brendan, giving his services free for this charity event (in aid of St Vincent de Paul), started the evening with a demo of his Alternative to Smoked Salmon. The cure here consisted of lemon zest, dill, coarse sea salt, castor sugar and peppercorns. Samples were soon passed a round amid hums of approval.
The main practical demo had Brendan showing us how to cook his Pan Roast Squab Pigeon and Confit leg. The crown had been placed in brine for four hours. But before the pigeon was finished, we had a break, enjoyed some sweet delights produced by the CIT students.
Confit leg: Brendan and the pigeon leg that he transformed into a tasty "lollipop"
Back to the splendidly appointed demo area then and Brendan explained the Brining. “Several years ago, I began to brine all kinds of meats, fish and vegetables to ‘infuse’ or impart more depth of flavour. In simple scientific terms it breaks down the muscle filaments, helping tenderise the meats. Once the filaments have broken down they can begin to absorb the flavours in the brine.”
Bringing was one of preserving options used before the refrigerator and is now making a huge comeback in modern cuisine, particularly in Scandinavia, and is an everyday approach to flavour enhancement in Michelin starred kitchens all over the world.
All attendees received a bunch of recipes, along with detailed instructions on curing, smoking and brining. Brining was again the main topic in the closing question and answer session.
At the very end, we had the results of the raffle for St Vincent de Paul and glad to say I was among the many winners of Christmas goodies. Great cause and a great demo. Well done to CIT’s Tourism and Hospitality Department and to Dr. Margaret Linehan, the Head of School of Humanities, and her staff, who organised the event.
Brendan is officially starting his cookery school in Douglas in the New Year but there are a couple of opportunities to enhance your Christmas cooking skills before then as he has two two-night courses taking place on the 10th and 17th and also on the 11th and 18th of December. For bookings contact him at email@example.com or telephone 021-4365083.