Staying at MacNean House. At ease from start to finish.

Staying at MacNean House.

At ease from start to finish.

We got a lovely soft-voiced gentle welcome on arrival at MacNean House, the base of Neven Maguire, Ireland's best known chef. We were at ease immediately and that feeling continued right through our pre-Christmas stay.

The house, along with the restaurant and adjoining cooking school, is situated in the small border town of Blacklion, County Cavan, just across the road from the Garda station and the tourist office.

Blacklion is also just across the bridge from its Fermanagh neighbour Belcoo. There was snow on the hills as we walked between the two small towns, crossing the border on the way. Lights were coming on in Belcoo, welcoming visitors from the republic with an 80 pence for one euro offer.
Granola with honey
It was fairly cold so we didn't stay out and about for too long and were soon back in our comfortable well equipped room preparing for that evening's dinner, a fabulous meal indeed. But breakfast is also quite an event and it is also served in the main dining room.

There is a very impressive display on the serve-yourself table and then you can also choose from the two page menu. There is a tempting selection of juices. Not just any old juices. The apple juice, for instance, comes from Con Traas in Tipperary, his Karmine apples featured.

A big choice of granola and muesli and breads of course plus fruit salads and a selection of McGeough’s cold meats along with cheeses. I started with juice and a Honey Granola.

Ireland's most famous porridge!
Then our order was taken at the table, for starter and mains! My starter was, had to be really, the famous MacNean Porridge with honey, cream and a wee drop of Irish Mist! That meant I missed out on the Poached Apricots and also the Warm Prunes.

On then to a magnificent mains menu that included MacNean Traditional breakfast and the MacNean Special breakfast, fairly similar to one another but with the the Special containing a few extras including boxty.  Lots of choices too with the Scrambled Eggs, including plaice, smoked salmon and kippers. And they also had House-made Waffles.

Eggs Benedict

My pick though was the Eggs Benedict, served on a gorgeous toasted brioche, spinach, light butter sauce, with honey glazed ham (could also have had the eggs with smoked salmon). Hadn't finished dinner that long before but still managed to clean the plate. Eggs were perfectly executed and went well with the flavours and texture of the ham. That really set me up for the day at the cooking school!

Later, as part of our Cookery Course, we got a tour of the kitchen. A big pot of mulled wine was bubbling away and we also got a look at a very impressive, very large, stock pot. It was quiet enough about the two o'clock mark but would be much busier when the evening came and some fourteen chefs crowded in. Still, it all looks very well organised and that shows in the high standard of food that emerges. Chef Neven has some team there!

See also: Neven's Cookery School

Dinner from Neven's kitchen.

A big stock pot is shown on the right hand pic. In the other photo, the pastry chefs are hard at it,
while pots of mulled wine bubble on the left.