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Wednesday, May 18, 2016
King Bryan Reigns By The Waterfall
A Right Royal DinnerFor Greene’s Food And Wine Mag Event
Great buzz in Greene’s Restaurant on Tuesday evening as guests strolled in past the waterfall, wondering what ace chef Bryan McCarthy had in store for the May Food and Wine Magazine Gourmet Evening. Wondering yes, but no worries as Bryan is one of the very best and he underlined his reputation with a stunning multi-course meal, based almost entirely on local produce.
We were warmly welcomed and soon we had either a glass of fresh and crisp Prosecco (Coldigiano) or a Blackwater No. 5 Gin (with a new Irish tonic called Poacher's Well) and then the studying of the menu began.
Before the meal began, Clyde Sowman of Marlborough was on his feet introducing us to two of their Walnut Block Sauvignon Blancs. Theirs is a small family run vineyard and since 2005 Clyde and his brother have taken over a small parcel, a special parcel with old Walnut trees where they farm organically.
He had big thanks for “the amazing people of Tindal’s” before telling us how the warm days and cool nights of Marlborough are ideal for preserving the flavours and acidity of the fruit. “Organic was a bit of a struggle at first but every single year it gets better and better. It was a good move… working in harmony with nature.” He explained that the Collectables, with its fruit and acidity, was great with lighter foods, the Nutcracker, with its deeper flavours, for heavier dishes.
We then started - the place was full - with a selection of Greene’s Seasonal Snacks: Cheese & Onions crisps; Ballymakenny Farm Potatoes, Coolea Cheese Fondue and Leek Ash; Ardsallagh Goats Cheese, Panko, Beetroot, Walnut; Crispy Fish Skin, Apple Cider Vinegar, Squid Ink. All delightful but that crispy fish skin was something else.
Starter one was a delicious ensemble: Mackerel and Crab, Preserved gooseberry, Wild Seaweeds, Nasturtium Leaf, Radish, Fennel, Orange, Cuckoo Flower. This was matched with the Walnut Block Collectables Sauvignon Blanc 2015.
The next plate was another gem, on the plate and on the palate: Tim Yorke’s West Cork Asparagus, Air Dried Cured Beef, Shandrum Cheese, Asparagus Salad Cream, pickles, Land Cress, and Smoked Almond. Wine here was Walnut Block Nutcracker Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2014.
Time for a little break now and a palate cleanser, an espumante of Lychee, Lime and Matcha Green Tea. Clyde was on his feet again introducing us to a pair of their Pinot Noir. This grape “is a bit of a baby” he said. “Like all good Pinot, it has be hand-picked.” The temperament of the grape is not the only risk they take as these wines “are one hundred per cent Wild Ferment”. Great results but it is “riskier”.
Bryan McCarthy took a moment from the kitchen to speak and told us that it wouldn't be a dinner in Greene’s without a contribution from Kanturk’s Jack McCarthy and that was in our very next dish: Free range Pork Belly & Jack McCarthy Black Pudding, with green apple, cider and celeriac. The wine was the Walnut Bock Collectables Pinot Noir 2014. This has spent nine months in oak and proved an excellent pairing.
The next Pinot Noir was the Nutcracker Single Vineyard 2014, a favourite of winemaker Clyde. “It is complex, silky, fine tannins, as close as you can get to Mother Nature. … If enough work is done in the vineyard, the wine-making will be a cinch. Just two ingredients in these wines, the Pinot Noir grapes and a minimum amount of sulphur.” The wine is treated to 12 months “in top of the line French oak”.
A gorgeous wine and a terrific match with another highlight: Skeaghanore Duck, wing to beak (including heart), Kilbrack Farm Organic Vegetables, Wild Garlic, Pickled Ballyhoura Mushroom, Hedgerow jus. Fantastic produce from West Cork and so well handled by Bryan and the team at Greene’s who would soon get a round of applause for their efforts.
But not before dessert, of course. And this was another West Cork production, a lovely presentation of Bushby’s Strawberries, with elderflower, gorse ( a posh name for the furze bush, according to Bryan), Milk Sorbet and Raw Yogurt. And, just to make it even better, it was paired with the Alasia Moscato d'Asti, a low alcohol frizzante, aromatic, refreshing and easy-drinking.
And that brought us to the end of an very enjoyable evening of spectacular food and drink. Here’s to the next one!