Showing posts with label Ross Lewis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ross Lewis. Show all posts

Friday, July 10, 2015

Chapter One. A Chef and His Suppliers

Chapter One
A Chef and His Suppliers
Japanese Pearl Tapioca
When visiting a restaurant for the first time, I look at the suppliers list. Quite often, I need look no further. Here’s why: Our location on the Northside of Dublin was a notoriously difficult place to trade. Yet people who cared about food came, and suppliers who were passionate about their uniquely Irish produce came too – integrity of produce was what united us. We rely on their drive, passion and determination to achieve so much of what we do here.

The words in italics are from the website of Chapter One. So, okay, I'd have to be living in cloud cuckoo land not to have heard of Ross Lewis, the chef there. But I know him, met him for the first time late last year, and met him again the other night where his restaurant is;  the location - under the Dublin Writers Museum - explains it name.
Chilled Clarenbridge Oysters
But I have known most of his suppliers for much longer and it is they who give me the confidence to go to Chapter One and to many other restaurants around the country. As Ross says, the influence of the suppliers cannot be underestimated. Check here for a full list (and some photos) of the Chapter One suppliers.

But Chef Lewis brings the produce to another level here and so we come, and so do so many more, to the basement at north end of O'Connell Street. Lots of little stories here, including the fact that Mary Robinson met her husband-to-be in the National Ballroom more or less next door. Those of us of a certain age have our little and big stories of the ballrooms - I credit The Freshman with mine, but it's a long, many decades long, story!
Jumbo green asparagus
But time now for the food and the wine, the superb tasting menu and the matching wines at Chapter One. Service, as you might expect, was impeccable.

We started with the Japanese pearl tapioca with matured Gabriel cheese, peas and truffle and the wine was Lustau, Los Arcos, Dry Amontillado. Lustau is perhaps my favourite sherry producer and this was a magic match.
****

Lobster
Course Two was Chilled poached Clarenbridge oyster with Mulloy’s smoked haddock, seaweed jelly. Domaine Chatelain, ‘Les Charmes’ Pouilly Fumé 2011 was the excellent wine, matching the dish.

Then came the Roasted jumbo green asparagus with shellfish and lemon butter.
Heinz W, Joseph Gruner Veltliner, Kamptal; the Austrian wine, a favourite of ours and of our server, was just perfect with the asparagus.
*****

Loin of rabbit
Course Four was Lobster with fermented horseradish and cauliflower. This was an upgrade from scallops and the stunning young Burgundy, Domaine Jean-Baptiste Ponsot, Rully 2013, which was aromatic, fresh and delicate, enhanced the flesh.
****
Now we were back on Terra Firma (almost!).  Pig’s tail stuffed with Fingal Ferguson’s bacon and Dublin bay prawn, basil purée and citrus mustard fruit. Patrice Cacheux et Fils, Hautes Côtes de Nuits ‘Tilles’ 2013. Some terrific wines all through but this Pinot Noir was outstanding.
Irish Coffee on the way!
Last of the meat was Loin of rabbit and Parma ham farce wrapped in pancetta with parsley and barley risotto, roasted balsamic carrots, poached spring onion and crumble. The Simone-Joseph, Beaumes de Venise ‘La Vigne Corbée’ 2012, was fruity, dry and refreshing and boasted a long finish. Just the job for the delicious rabbit.
****
The gorgeous sweet course was Baked lemon curd with praline mousse, meringue crisps, buckwheat ice cream and hazelnut tuille and that was accompanied by Miguel Torres, ‘Nectaria’ Botrytis Riesling, Curico Valley 2009.

Might have expecting a sweet Beaumes de Venises after the previous wine but we were in for another lovely surprise with this Nectaria, highlighted in a shortlist by Evan Goldstein in his Wines of South America (2014). What other treasures has Chile in store for us? This is a gem worth seeking out.

****
Jack McCarthy (left), one of Chapter One's suppliers,
pictured with Yours Truly in Kanturk.
Jack's castle is in the background!
As we nibbled our way through the chocolate rich Petit Fours, we gave thanks to Mr Lewis and his friendly and efficient staff, front of house and in the kitchens, to the suppliers up and down this land - again I quote from the Chapter One website - a land that is the inspiration “that enriches the work of poets, artists, farmers and chefs”.

Long may the customers continue to come to the door of Chapter One. They will be well fed and fed well in this Michelin starred restaurant.


See also:
The National Botanic Gardens visit
Teeling Distillery visit
Dinner of Delights at Restaurant Forty One

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Square Table Launched

The Square Table Launched
Big Night for Coolea Sisters


Top left: Graham Neville (l) with Lucy and Mark of Ballyhoura Mushrooms.
Top right: Cheers! Martina and Yours Truly.

“I wish the two sisters all the best. They have shown great courage,” said Michelin Star chef Ross Lewis as he helped officially launch The Square Table restaurant in Blarney last night. The two sisters are Patricia and Martina Cronin, both originally from Coolea and now well experienced in the restaurant world. Patricia is front of house while Martina (who has worked with Ross) is the head chef.

Martina has also worked with Graham Neville, Head Chef at Restaurant Forty One, who also spoke at the opening. Graham is rather modest and it took Ross to step in and remind us all that Neville is the reigning Food and Wine Magazine Chef of the Year.

The two girls also spoke and their first priority was to say a big thank you to the people of Blarney for their support over the past few months. Martina said they simply wanted to present good well sourced Irish food and had big thanks for three mentors in particular: Kieran Scully (Bayview Hotel), Ross Lewis (Chapter One) and, of course Graham Neville.

Their suppliers too came in for praise as did their local staff (“absolutely fantastic”), all their friends, family, especially Mum and Dad.

Ross Lewis, from Cork himself, said he knows the Cronins well! “The heroes of today are those who employ people. I started in 1993 and I know that success will come.” But he warned that staying power was needed to deal with the special demands of being an employer, including PAYE, PRSI, banks, teaching employees.

“The complexities are enormous. It is a very daunting task. But I know the Cronins are determined. Martina has the doggedness of a lion. It is amazing and great to see people that we’ve worked with get out on their own”.

The sisters were hardly on their own last evening. There was a terrific turnout. Suppliers present included River Wines, Ballyhoura Mushrooms and Pat O'Connell. The media and blogger world was well represented by Joe McNamee, Jack Power, Caroline Hennessy, among others. And no shortage either of fellow restaurateurs, including Nash 19 and Jacques.

The family were naturally up in force from Coolea and customers were also among the attendance. And, after the speech, Matina was back in the kitchen sending out a stream of gorgeous little bites including Durcan’s Spiced Beef, Ardsallagh Goat Cheese, Liscannor Crab, Michael Twomey’s Wagyu Rib-eye, Ballyhoura Mushrooms, and Old Millbank Smoked Salmon.

On the sweet side there were Macaroons, Poached Blackberries, Chocolate Brownies and a Lemon Cream and Blueberry meringue, all gorgeous. And no shortage of wine to wash it all down.

Thanks for the invite ladies and the best of luck in Blarney!


Friday, October 17, 2014

The Kinsale Gourmet Academy.

The Kinsale Gourmet Academy
Speaking at the launch were (clockwise from top left)
 David Rice, Lord Mayor Alan Coleman,
Des McGahan and Ross Lewis.
Ross Lewis, the Cork-born Michelin star winning chef and co-owner of Dublin restaurant Chapter One, spoke of his early visits to Kinsale as he launched the spanking new Kinsale Gourmet Academy at Ballinacurra House on Tuesday.

“Kinsale was the only place where you could get coffee in 1978. That was in the Blue Haven, on Saturdays and Sundays only. And it was a bonus if you got a scone, left over from Saturday!”

Ross has a great admiration for the area and especially for Martin Shanahan of Fishy Fishy. At the Chef’s Table in Chapter One, they often have US visitors and these visitors were regularly asked if they were visiting Kinsale. And the usual answer was: Yes, we are going to Fishy, Fishy. Now Ross asks the visitors if they will visit Kinsale, after visiting Fishy Fishy.

Ballinacurra Head Chef David Rice heads up the new purpose built and very well equipped academy. David “missed medicine by about 600 points” and started his culinary career washing potatoes (with an occasional promotion to making sandwiches) in the Blue Haven.

Limerick man David eventually worked under Ross at Chapter One. “What that man taught me. Unbelievable!” He obviously taught David a respect for the country’s artisan producers and the Kinsale academy will showcase their work.
The sea featured in both demo dishes
“There will be a variety of courses, including one day, two day, and five day courses, that will be both for learning and relaxing! Next year, we intend to set up a professional course of a much longer duration. I really appreciate this evening’s turnout.”

Cork County Mayor Alan Coleman and owner Des McGahan also spoke at the well-attended launch, both with great humour and that trend continued when Ross and David took the mike. And indeed, it was a feature throughout the cookery demonstration that the pair undertook in the academy itself.

It was a lovely evening in a magical place. Some beautiful canapes and later there were pizzas from the brick oven and cocktails from the newly opened Cuban Bar. The Cuban Cocktail Lounge has authentic paraphernalia and original objects de art items sourced directly from Cuba. It’s the perfect Rum Shack for Havana Club based Mojitos, Cuba Libras, Daiquiris and more.

A large focus for the Academy will be building on Ballinacurra’s reputation for catering for private groups and corporates. Owners Des and Lisa McGahan will work with them to design a bespoke course to suit their needs and objectives, level of capability, and so forth. It will include a teambuilding element, adding in meeting time or other activities.

Individuals will also be able to book into scheduled courses which will range in duration from a half day upwards. Classes will be kept small to ensure the students receive the best quality and one-to one tutoring possible. The Academy has been purpose built with the students in mind,  8 double workstations where 16 students can work hands-on. There is also an instructors island with the top-of-the-range induction hob for demonstrations.

Ross and David show it's done!


"Ballinacurra House and Kinsale have become synonymous with fabulous food for many years.
The new Gourmet Academy will further strengthen Kinsale’s reputation as the ‘culinary’ capital’. It was one the key factors missing in Kinsale’s bid as ‘Foodie Capital of Ireland’ and we feel it’s the final piece of the jigsaw which will further add to the prestige of the town,” said Des.


Ballinacurra House, in a rural area on the edge of the town, is set within a walled garden with 10 foot-high stone walls, security gates and 40 acres of  woodland and lawns. This elegant country mansion brings back old-world opulence and personal service in a unique and totally private environment. “Our exclusive-use estate allows you the opportunity to share your experiences or special occasion with friends, family or peers in magical ambient surrounds, without compromise.” If you have a corporate event or a family event coming up, why not check it all out here.


Tel: +353 (0)21 4779040


Dingle School
Just about two weeks earlier, I had attended the opening, by Neven Maguire, of the Dingle Cookery School. This is another magnificent facility with a team of excellent chefs in charge of a large range of courses, everything from a half day Catch and Cook course to a four week evening course on Ethnic Cookery. And they also have a couple of Pop-Up Restaurant nights scheduled, including one for Halloween.


See the Autumn/Winter courses at www.dinglecookeryschool.com.

Tel: +353 (0)86 8723521.