Chapter OneA Chef and His Suppliers
|Japanese Pearl Tapioca|
When visiting a restaurant for the first time, I look at the suppliers list. Quite often, I need look no further. Here’s why: Our location on the Northside of Dublin was a notoriously difficult place to trade. Yet people who cared about food came, and suppliers who were passionate about their uniquely Irish produce came too – integrity of produce was what united us. We rely on their drive, passion and determination to achieve so much of what we do here.
The words in italics are from the website of Chapter One. So, okay, I'd have to be living in cloud cuckoo land not to have heard of Ross Lewis, the chef there. But I know him, met him for the first time late last year, and met him again the other night where his restaurant is; the location - under the Dublin Writers Museum - explains it name.
|Chilled Clarenbridge Oysters|
But I have known most of his suppliers for much longer and it is they who give me the confidence to go to Chapter One and to many other restaurants around the country. As Ross says, the influence of the suppliers cannot be underestimated. Check here for a full list (and some photos) of the Chapter One suppliers.
But Chef Lewis brings the produce to another level here and so we come, and so do so many more, to the basement at north end of O'Connell Street. Lots of little stories here, including the fact that Mary Robinson met her husband-to-be in the National Ballroom more or less next door. Those of us of a certain age have our little and big stories of the ballrooms - I credit The Freshman with mine, but it's a long, many decades long, story!
|Jumbo green asparagus|
But time now for the food and the wine, the superb tasting menu and the matching wines at Chapter One. Service, as you might expect, was impeccable.
We started with the Japanese pearl tapioca with matured Gabriel cheese, peas and truffle and the wine was Lustau, Los Arcos, Dry Amontillado. Lustau is perhaps my favourite sherry producer and this was a magic match.
Course Two was Chilled poached Clarenbridge oyster with Mulloy’s smoked haddock, seaweed jelly. Domaine Chatelain, ‘Les Charmes’ Pouilly Fumé 2011 was the excellent wine, matching the dish.
Then came the Roasted jumbo green asparagus with shellfish and lemon butter.
Heinz W, Joseph Gruner Veltliner, Kamptal; the Austrian wine, a favourite of ours and of our server, was just perfect with the asparagus.
|Loin of rabbit|
Course Four was Lobster with fermented horseradish and cauliflower. This was an upgrade from scallops and the stunning young Burgundy, Domaine Jean-Baptiste Ponsot, Rully 2013, which was aromatic, fresh and delicate, enhanced the flesh.
Now we were back on Terra Firma (almost!). Pig’s tail stuffed with Fingal Ferguson’s bacon and Dublin bay prawn, basil purée and citrus mustard fruit. Patrice Cacheux et Fils, Hautes Côtes de Nuits ‘Tilles’ 2013. Some terrific wines all through but this Pinot Noir was outstanding.
|Irish Coffee on the way!|
Last of the meat was Loin of rabbit and Parma ham farce wrapped in pancetta with parsley and barley risotto, roasted balsamic carrots, poached spring onion and crumble. The Simone-Joseph, Beaumes de Venise ‘La Vigne Corbée’ 2012, was fruity, dry and refreshing and boasted a long finish. Just the job for the delicious rabbit.
The gorgeous sweet course was Baked lemon curd with praline mousse, meringue crisps, buckwheat ice cream and hazelnut tuille and that was accompanied by Miguel Torres, ‘Nectaria’ Botrytis Riesling, Curico Valley 2009.
Might have expecting a sweet Beaumes de Venises after the previous wine but we were in for another lovely surprise with this Nectaria, highlighted in a shortlist by Evan Goldstein in his Wines of South America (2014). What other treasures has Chile in store for us? This is a gem worth seeking out.
|Jack McCarthy (left), one of Chapter One's suppliers,|
pictured with Yours Truly in Kanturk.
Jack's castle is in the background!
As we nibbled our way through the chocolate rich Petit Fours, we gave thanks to Mr Lewis and his friendly and efficient staff, front of house and in the kitchens, to the suppliers up and down this land - again I quote from the Chapter One website - a land that is the inspiration “that enriches the work of poets, artists, farmers and chefs”.