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The event was billed as a Four Hands Dinner, the talented mitts of visiting Michelin Star chef JP McMahon (Aniar, Galway) and his host Bryan McCarthy accounting for the four. But there were many other hands in this marvellous meitheal, quite a few of those in Greene’s kitchen.
And hands too of a big band of their fantastic suppliers also played a part, producers such as Kanturk’s Jack McCarthy, Galway’s Bia óisin, Ballyhoura Mushrooms and the Lismore Food Company.
And so too did Fionnuala Harkin who told us a little about the “local” winemakers (mainly organic) that her company Wines Direct works with. And through the wines, hands from Austria, France and Italy, all contributed.
The enjoyable evening started with an aromatic, flavourful and aptly named Man of Aran cocktail in Greene’s highly impressive new bar Cask. They serve small plates here from the main kitchen so that’s worth a visit on its own!
Soon, at the tables in the main restaurant, we had a couple of what Bryan terms snacks, one of Ham and Seaweed, the other of Beetroot, Goats Cheese, and Buckler Sorrel. Those little beauties, with a little help from the Domaine Séguinot Bordet Petit Chablis, started the ball rolling in some style.
And it kept rolling with a Harty Oyster served with Sea Beet and Dillisk. The sea, oh the sea. And another sip of Chablis. The delicious palate cleanser of Anise Hyssop and Gorse (the posh name for furze bush!) had us ready for more.
The plates were getting marginally more substantial as the courses continued. A lovely combination of Celeriac, Mushroom and Hazelnut, next appeared and Fionnuala wisely switched to a red wine, Jean Paul Brun’s L’Ancien, a light and lovely Beaujolais. So many people underestimate the gorgeous Gamay grape - this bottle could change a mind or two.
Time now for the fish: Halibut, Sea Radish, Bacon, Pepper Dulse and Elf Cap. Lots of flavours here but the star, as you’d expect, was the immaculately cooked Halibut. And the wine pairing was the fresh and well textured Grüner Veltliner from Kamptal (Austria) by Steininger.
A little flavoured-packed sorbet was next: Preserved Elderflower, Kilbrack Apple and Sorrel.
That was followed by the Skeaghanore Duck with Parsnip, Scurvy Grass* and Ramsons. The Skeaghanore duck is widely available now and a terrific meat. But hard to beat the way it was cooked in Greene’s, tender and moist. And that parsnip was fabulous too, possibly the best rendition of that vegetable I've ever come across.
The wine, it kept coming, had by now switched back to red, to Domaine Didier Charavin, Lou Paris, Côtes du Rhône. “That should work well with both the duck and the cheese,” promised Fionnuala and she was correct, again!
The cheese was Young Buck and came with pear and raisin and superb crackers by Lismore. Were we finished? Not at all. One more course, one more wine.
The dessert featured Rhubarb from Richard’s Little Farm in Doneraile and the sweet and fresh wine with the usual Italian acidity, the Bera Moscato d’Asti, was the perfect match for the beautifully presented sweet.
Cheers to JP and Bryan and to the many hands, including those of the many efficient and friendly servers, that contributed towards a memorable dinner. Same time next year?
* Scurvy-grass was extensively eaten in the past by sailors suffering from scurvy after returning from long voyages, as the leaves are rich in vitamin C, which cures this deficiency disease resulting from a lack of fresh vegetables in the diet. The leaves, which have a strong peppery taste similar to the related horseradish and watercress, are also sometimes used in salads.