Friday, March 22, 2019

Amuse Bouche


Gibianca slice
Guests weren’t allowed in the crowded maternity ward, for health and hygiene reasons, but my mother couldn’t stand the hospital food and she was starving. She was waiting at the open window for the gibanica: a feta cheese and phyllo pastry pie, and “reform torte”, a nutty creamy dessert — both made by her mother, at her request. Dad spotted her and threw the ball of twine… She didn’t catch it….
He threw it again and she caught it.
“If you’d thrown it like that the first time, I would have caught it,” she said, hauling the basket up, eager to have the last word.

from Miss Ex-Yugoslavia by Sofia Stefanovic (2018). Highly Recommended.

Photo: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gibanica_single_slice_with_full_pie_in_background.jpg. Attribution: Cyrus Roepers

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Getting Curried Away in Clonakilty. Richy's Indian Foodesessy


Getting Curried Away in Clonakilty
Richy's Indian Foodesessy 
Food galore from Bangalore
Last week, we were in Bangalore, enjoying the local cuisine, including Sagu and Alulugedda. Not really in Bangalore! But in Richy’s in Clonakilty at Week 3 of an 18-month culinary journey around the states of India, courtesy of  Head Chef Meeran Gani Manzoor.

Meeran, an accomplished chef with very high-level experience, is from the state of Chennai in the south-west and that city, capital of the state of Tamil Nadu, was featured on the opening night of the Curry Club with Beef Madras taking pride of place on the Thali* that also included Carrot Cauliflower Pickle, Lemon Rice and Dosa. On Thursday 26th Feb, the food was from Kerala, India. Malabar Fish Moilee, Coconut rice and other local dishes featured.

Richy told me this tasting tour around India with the Curry Club, takes place every 2nd and 4th Thursday of every month, for the next 18 months or so! “We will travel up the coast, showcasing authentic dishes from each state each time. Including a cooking demonstration and food presented in theatre-style, a real sense of community can be felt. Come and join us for a night like no other!”

Bangalore (also known as Bengaluru) as you may know is the technology capital of India. It is the capital city of Karnataka, the largest state with a population of over 12 million. Last Thursday’s curry was presented on a Thali with a circle of small bowls.

The main feature was perhaps the Korri Gassi, the chicken curry. There was also a Pudhina Chutney (a mint chutney), a very tasty Sagu (a mixed vegetable curry), Alulugedda (spuds!) and a Bisi Beli Bath (a traditional Indian rice lentil dish). So quite a bit of curry but all moderate, used more for flavour than spice. The only “jarring” note came from the Lemon Pickle and then only if you tried it on its own. Mix it in with some of the others and it became part of a delicious harmony of flavours and textures. 

And we even had dessert on the Thali. It was called Kesari, a Millet pudding with cream, cardamom, cloves, pumpkin seeds, cashew nut, and raisins. It’s not very photogenic but is deliciously sweet and not at all cloying. Quite a way to finish off this leg of the curry club trail that is going down very well indeed with Richy's customers.

Next stop on the Curry Club trek comes on March 28th with the spotlight on Andhra Pradesh. No menu available yet but the state is known for Chicken Biryani, spicy Tamarind rice, Fish Curry, with the light and delicious Curd Rice as dessert. No doubt Chef Meeran will come up with another superb selection on the night. Well worth the twenty euro!

Meeran Gani Manzoor, Head Chef at Richy’s Restaurant in Clonakilty since last year, is a graduate in Culinary Arts Management from the University of West London. His broad international experience has been acquired while working around the globe, in countries such as Belgium, UK and USA.

* Thali simply means plate and indeed, there is a friendly Nepalese restaurant, on Pope’s Quay, called Thali.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Excellent wines from uncommon grapes: Loureiro and Treixadura


Excellent wines from uncommon grapes: Loureiro and Treixadura

Antonio Lopes Ribeiro Vinho Verde (DOC) 2015, 9%, €17.96 Mary Pawle Wines

One variety, one river. It says on the label. Better tell you about the variety as I had to look it up myself.  It is 100% Loureiro. Wine-Searcher says it is a thin skinned white grape variety native to northern Portugal and used to make the ever trendy Vinho Verde wines. Taking its name from the laurel or bay-leaf plant for its resembling aroma, Loureiro wines are refreshing with a slight effervescence. They have fresh acidity and are low in alcohol making them a perfect wine to enjoy on its own or with light meals.

Many of you will be familiar with Vinho Verde wines from the north west coast of Portugal which has a relatively cool climate, perfect for growing vines. Quite often Loureiro is used in a blend. Food pairings suggested include with canapés or seafood. It also pairs raw fish in a flawless fashion (sushi, sashimi) and dishes of strong and exotic flavor (especially oriental food).

This organic crisp and dry wine, from Casa de Mouraz, has a light straw colour. Aromas of peach and apricot, orange blossom too. It doesn’t have the obvious petillance that you sometimes get in Vinho Verde but there is a quite a tingle on the palate. Fruit is light and lively and the high acidity reinforces its refreshing nature. This low alcohol Vinho Verde, even without the bubbles, is Highly Recommended.


“La Flor de Margot” Treixadura Ribeiro (DO) 2016, 12.5%, €18.30 Karwig Wines

A grape name that is not very familiar on Irish shelves features in this white from the north west of Spain. Treixadura is grown mainly in Spain and in Portugal where they call it Trajadura. It is usually blended. This one though is 100% Treixadura and has been aged on its lees.

It boast an attractive light gold colour, lots of tiny bubbles cling to the glass. Aromas are fresh, both fruity and floral. Flavours of peach and apricot mainly, also citrus; it has a lovely mouthfeel and the citrus is more in play through to the long finish. Wouldn’t mind a few examples of this one, Highly Recommended.

Seafood is widely considered a match, eg clams in tomato sauce, seared scallops with herb salad. Red peppers stuffed with cheese is also recommended.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Taste of the Week. Rosscarbery Irish Biltong


Taste of the Week
Rosscarbery Irish Biltong


You’re a person on the go. Playing stamina sapping games. Surfing. Climbing. Hill Climbing. Farming. Maybe you’re just hovering the stairs carpet. And you need a quick snack to boost those energy levels. Well, our latest Taste of the Week might interest you. The Irish Biltong by Rosscarbery Recipes is naturally high in protein, a great on the go snack made from 100% Angus beef. Just sea salt, organic raw cane sugar, toasted coriander, ground black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and dried Irish seaweed have been added to the beef.

The Allshires, the family behind Rosscarbery and Caherbeg Pork, are well known in West Cork and beyond and it was one of the younger members, son Maurice, who developed this product. Initially is was for himself. 

An active young man, he was unimpressed with the snacks available, certainly with those long lists of strange ingredients. “I needed something tasty, something that I could rely on with an ingredient list that a toddler could read.” And so he developed Rosscarbery Biltong around his own lifestyle. It took a while though but now it is widely available.

The beef has been cured and air dried and cut into small strips and the product comes ready to eat in a pocketable pack. Just put a piece on your tongue and allow the juices in your mouth to work their magic. The beef softens and you can chew away to your heart’s content. Another  strip or two and you’re ready to move that mountain, well climb that hill!

Caherbeg
Rosscarbery
Co. Cork

Monday, March 18, 2019

Cafe Paradiso. World Champion Farm-to-Plate


Cafe Paradiso. World Champion Farm-to-Plate
Aubergine parcels (Paradiso pic)

If I put my all too infrequent visits to Café Paradiso together, the common carrot would be the common thread. 

Maybe I shouldn’t say the common carrot as there is nothing common about the way the vegetable is treated here. You can get it in any state from raw baby (with leaves attached) to roasted as we did last Friday evening. Besides, these carrots come from Gort na Nain Farm and the long-standing combination of that farm and this leading Irish restaurant has seen Denis Cotter of Paradiso and Ultan Walsh of Gort na Nain win the Collaboration of the Year prize at the recent World Restaurant Awards in Paris.
Baby carrots (2013)

I think my first carrot experience on Lancaster Quay was  Baby Carrots with buttermilk yoghurt and the kombu. Last Friday’s was Roast carrots, Macroom buffalo mozzarella, burnt aubergine, honey, pickled fennel, ras-el-hanout crumb. Being a country boy, I’m partial to carrot, have grown and eaten a lot of them, but this was exceptional, soft and sweet and so well enhanced by the other bits and pieces.

That was one of our starters - we were sharing them as it’s a great way to extend the excellent experience here in this busy, buzzy room, a very popular place even before world recognition! 
Roast carrots (2019)

Our other opener was Kohlrabi, asparagus and daikon salad, pickled rhubarb and radish, lamb’s lettuce, black garlic, hazelnut, sheep’s milk labneh. An entirely different dish, more colourful, full of crunchy texture, one to crunch and savour each delicious biteful. Just as with the carrot, you can feel the freshness. 

These vegetables haven’t travelled far! Just from the farm in Nohoval - by the way, their vegetable stall was due to open this month. Check the Gort-na-Nain facebook for updates here.

Paradiso has a superb wine list. The lower end and the slow-moving higher end were chopped from the list about three years ago and what remains is packed with quality, great choices, between approximately thirty and fifty five euro a bottle. By the way, all the wines are available by the glass, by 250ml (quartino) and 500ml (mezzo) carafe and by the bottle.
Corn pancakes

We had started with the Domaine Séguinot Bordet Chablis 1er Cru 2016, bright and vivacious, harmonious from start to finish. And our second wine - we knew we had to have this even before we left home - was the superb Jean Foillard Morgon ‘Cote du Py’, 2016. This natural wine, intense and soft, from Beaujolais is one the very best expressions of the Gamay grape you are likely to come across. 
Kohlrabi


Corn pancakes of leek, parsnip and Dunmanus cheese (by Durrus), potato-wild garlic terrine, fennel-caper salsa, smoked tomato is a delightful main dish, very highly recommended if you get an opportunity to call in.

Again we were sharing and we both enjoyed the Aubergine parcels of spinach and Knockalara sheep’s cheese, miso gravy, walnut crumb, beluga lentils, broad beans, purple potato. Thought that the potato was beetroot at first - all those coloured vegetables nowadays makes it hard to keep up!

One of my friends, who travels widely in the hospitality industry, told me a few years back: "It is not alone the best vegetarian restaurant in Ireland, it is probably the best restaurant in Ireland”. I wonder has the Michelin man ever called to Lancaster Quay.


16 Lancaster Quay
Cork
Tel: +353 21 4277 939
Opening Hours: Monday - Saturday, 17:30 - 21.30

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Amuse Bouche - Bank Holiday Special


It was just me and the other guy. The blue kite.
The tension in the air was as taut as the glass string I was tugging with my bloody hands. People were stomping their feet, clapping, whistling chanting, “Boboresh! Boboresh!” Cut him! Cut him! I wondered if Baba’s voice was one of them. Music blasted. The smell of steamed mantu and fried pakora drifted from rooftops and open doors.
But all I heard - all I willed myself to hear - was the thudding of blood in my head. All I saw was the blue kite. All I smelled was victory.

from The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (2003). Very Highly Recommended.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Amuse Bouche



The staff lunch is a daily ritual that serves as a tasting forum and often draws guests who just happen to show up around twelve thirty. “We see these heads in the window,” says Beckey, “which is terrific, because Russell is incapable of cooking for less than twelve.” 

Clearly a man of large appetites and enthusiasms, he can take no credit for his towering height, but his Falstaffian girth is presumably his own accomplishment. He is also widely reputed to have both an excellent palate and an extraordinary memory for older vintages.

from The Juice, Vinous Veritas, by Jay McInerney (2012). Highly Recommended.