Showing posts with label Wicklow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wicklow. Show all posts

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Brooklodge Hotel. Excellent Base for Wicklow.

The Brooklodge Hotel at Macreddin Village
Excellent Base for Wicklow Attractions
The saints of Ireland invariably seemed to end up in the most beautiful locations. St Kevin of Glendalough fame found another beauty spot not too far away in Macreddin, the present day location of the gorgeous Brooklodge Hotel.

Macreddin was important in the history of the area for a long time afterwards but then fell into decline, revived only by a band of brothers, the Doyles, who reimagined it and rebuilt the little village. Here, in the heart of the Wicklow countryside, they have everything you need to get away from it all in the 21st century.

Then again, there are not too many hermits nowadays and you may need a little company, maybe a lot of it!. So, you can have birthday party here. Or indeed a full scale wedding - they even have their own village church! Kevin may have come for the food, wild and organic, and that was why I visited a few weeks back. More precisely, I was there to try out their splendid Wild and Organic Tasting Menu.
That menu was served up in the Strawberry Tree, the premium restaurant in the village. But there is another one called the La Taverna Armento, which features a full Southern Italian menu. There is a bar in the hotel and another in the village. Oh, there’s lots more including a spa, conference  suites, an equestrian centre, a food store, and a golf club. Reckon if Kevin came back, he'd stay around for a long while. Might even buy his food at the very popular Macreddin monthly farmers market.

I was there for just the one night and was very impressed. Took a walk around - there are quite a series of rambles, some long, some short. Mine was just around the green, saying hello to the hens of course, glad of the organic message their presence indicates. And I was friendly towards them. After all, they were supplying the eggs for breakfast.

And that breakfast, served in a beautiful room (you may also have it in your bedroom), was indeed a delicious affair. No shortage of juices and also the Macreddin Village Smoothie. All the cereals, also fresh fruit, yogurts and my pick which was the Porridge with Honey and Cream.
The main event was Poached Eggs on Irish Potato Cake and I could also have had had their version of the full Irish, also pancakes with Highbank Apple Syrup or Grilled Wild Fish. No shortage of lovely breads, their own of course, and organic tea and coffee to wash it all down.

Our room was excellent, very well heated and that is another story. Comfort was top class and no shortage of space either. The bedroom was on a spacious glass-walled mezzanine with its own bath. The main TV was downstairs but there was also a mini-one above. Shower and toilets were downstairs.

Staff were excellent throughout, at reception, in the restaurant, in the bar, everywhere, and helped make it a stay to remember in a place to remember.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Strawberry Tree. Prize and Surprise.

Strawberry Tree. Prize and Surprise.

Your salad in a tin. Your berry soda hidden among daisies. Your cheese just 90 minutes old.


Last Thursday, I enjoyed the superb Organic and Wild Food Tasting Menu at Strawberry Tree restaurant in Macreddin Village, County Wicklow. For close on three hours, we enjoyed the culinary adventure, ten courses in all, a staggering array of delightful dishes.

Though we had read the menu in advance, each course had an element of surprise. And the dinner itself (plus a bottle of their Irish Crystal Gin) was a prize that I won in an online competition by Kilkenny’s Highbank Orchard, Ireland’s only organic orchard. So I was on a winner for the night!

Wild duck crackers (left) and 90 day cheese
As we made the short way from our room in the Brooklodge Hotel, also part of the Macreddin village, we met the hens on the lawn, a reminder that this is Ireland's only certified organic restaurant. It is also rather plush with gold framed mirrors a dominant feature.

Eight courses were detailed on the menu (and so too were all their suppliers). Our first plate was a “surprise from the local fields”, a wild duck cracker with a mushroom foam and mushroom dust. Delicate and delectable, a tasty surprise indeed.
Smoked salmon

Then we were on to a smooth and tangy Field and Farm, their own fresh 90 minute old cheese (made 90 minutes before service), Baby greens and rapeseed oil. Sea and Shore was next, their own Smokehouse wild salmon, wild seagreens, laverbread and cod’s roe spread. This was a quite a plate, a superb one too.

Wood and Field followed, this a Wild Leaf Salad, fermented garlic, pickled ramson seeds and more. The surprise here was that your salad came in a tin that you shook yourself to mix the elements and then spread onto to your plate that had been prepared with the garlic and seeds. We happily crunched our way through this completely delicious mix and then took a break for five minutes, the first of a few.


Salad in a tin!
Apples featured strongly in Hedgerow and Orchard which was Wild Crab Apple and Dabinett, Three Ways: Spiced, Chilled and Mulled. Instructions were to start with the spiced and that was followed quickly with the chilled to modify the hot spice. And then we finished with the calming mulled Highbank Orchard cider. A super trio.

And there followed yet another surprise insertion and a really gorgeous one, a wild venison consommé topped with a beetroot foam. Quite a flavour sensation to sip the hot venison soup through the beetroot as both flavours came together so well. Simple idea but a superb duo.

Wild venison consommé
Time then for the main events. First up was the inventive Sea and Wood: Pan Fried John Dory, Hogweed, Ground Elder, and their own Pancetta. Once again all the elements gelled together so well and the greens proved a marvellous match with the fish. By the way, everything cooked here on the night was done to perfection and the presentations were excellent.

The Farmer and the Butcher were not to be left out, of course, and they gave us 35 Day Aged Seared Beef Sirloin, slow cooked shin, horseradish cream, Butternut squash and jus. I think that jus contained some bone marrow. In any event, the dish was perfect, a beautiful mix of meat and veg, every element playing a part, nothing superfluous.

Apple three ways
John Dory and, below, filet

We had been taking the odd break and now called another one, the better to enjoy the wine. Hard enough to pick one to match everything here but we were very happy with the performance of the Sepp Moser Gruner Veltliner 2011 (biodynamic).


And now we were on to a sweeter drink, another surprise. This was called Just the Hedgerow, a real wild berry soda. The surprise was that it came, both bottles and their glass straws, in a wine box full of grass and daisies. But we found the bottles (not too difficult!) - the soda included some sloe gin - and enjoyed them, a bit of delicious fun, another treat from the vast repertoire here.


Find your berry soda!
 The main dessert was called simply The Wood: a wild sorrel lemon curd, meringue crust, shortbread biscuit. You wouldn't normally expect to find wood sorrel in a dessert but by that stage we were prepared to trust the Strawberry Tree (and they trust Anna’s Desserts). And that trust was repaid with the sweetest spoonfuls! Terrific finish to a memorable meal. Great service too, informative, chatty and time for a joke or two as well.
Dessert
The Strawberry Tree Tasting Menu €75.00
Sepp Moser Gruner Veltliner €37.00