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Monday, October 3, 2016
Lots of big name chefs in West Cork for the recent food festival but hard to beat adopted local Matthew Brownie. The Kiwi chef at Skibbereen’s Eldon Hotel went down under and came up with a ten course winner. The Haka and the Didgeridoo also featured as the fun went on well beyond the allotted time! Great fun and great value too as the whole meal, including a welcome glass of wine, cost just twenty five euro.
The room was decorated with appropriately coloured flowers and many stuffed animals, even a suitably dressed surfer came with his board. Our table was designated Darwin and had the green and white colours of Australia. Kangaroo, Hangi Smoked Lamb and Hokey Pokey Ice Cream were among the many dishes enjoyed after Chef Matthew’s humourous introduction that invited us to “have a blow down under style”. His friend, Pete, a Maori, did the Haka chants and followed with an explanation in English.
No minuscule portions here as we soon found out when the Cornflake Chicken Goujons, with sweet chilli sauce arrived on the table. Crispy on the outside, tasty and moist on the inside, this well chosen starter went down well.
Dish number two was the Pan-fried Kangaroo, with Ballymaloe Relish, another winner. Well cooked and a super match with the
famous relish. Kangaroo meat, produced only from free ranging wild animals (there may be up to 50 million), is exported from Australia to scores of countries worldwide.
Next up was the Kumara soup. Kumara is another name for sweet potato and this lovely soup was really enhanced by a piece of crispy Chorizo sausage. Into the sea then for dish number four: the breaded New Zealand Green tipped mussels. This mussel is important economically to New Zealand and is one of the largest mussel species.
Sweetcorn Fritters, with bacon, were the next offering, another very tasty one with a totally different texture to what had gone before. In fact, there was great variety throughout the multi-course meal.
Plate #6 was a gem: Maori Hangi smoked lamb, with gravy. Hangi is a traditional Maori method of cooking food using heated rocks buried in a pit oven and still used for special occasions. Don’t know where Matthew laid his Hangi but the result was brilliant, tender flavoursome slices of lamb with a smoky background. Delicious!
Back to the sea now for a ceviche that acted as a palate cleanser. Each Pacific nation has its own version of this marinated (raw) fish in fresh coconut milk. The dish is typically made from fresh raw fish cured in citrus juices and sourced with chilli peppers with some additional optional seasonings such as chopped onions, salt and cilantro. Not too sure of all the elements in Matthew’s version but it was cool and refreshing for sure!
Now for the sweet stuff ,starting with dish number eight, the Hokey Poke Ice-cream. A nice one too, with a caramel “crust” broken into the “mess”. More dessert followed with Lamingtons, a sponge cake dessert of Australian origin, featuring jammy fruit flavours (eg strawberry, raspberry) and then coated in desiccated coconut. Yum!
After all that we had a cheese finalé with crackers and grapes. Time then to finish off some Galway Hooker amber lager – we had switched from the wine – before walking, slowly, back to our base!