Splendid Meal In Historic Room
Sculpture casts, local history, the hierarchy of goat herds and, above all, good food and wine featured as the members of the rapidly expanding Munster Wine & Dine gathered for their second event of the year in the Crawford Gallery Café.
The café, the city’s old custom house, is a day time café, and only rarely opens by night, only for special occasions. And this was special. Sinéad Doran and her team cooked up a memorable meal, inspired by Margot Henderson, chef patron of London's famous Rochelle Canteen, which bases its menu on seasonally-informed Mediterranean-influenced food. The dishes were served in big platters and that added to the sense of occasion and community.
First though we all met in the sculpture room among Greek and Roman sculpture casts, brought to Cork in 1818 from the Vatican Museum in Rome. It’s a long story and you may read more of it here. After gimlets, canapes and a chat we headed to the café itself where once captains of sailings ships stepped from their vessels berthed in Emmet Place and walked in to this very room to pay their dues.
|Canapes and gimlets|
The full house then settled down to enjoy the food and the company. First up was Brandade with Sourdough Toast. Then came the main starter: Roast Quail, lentils, Butternut squash and organic leaves. This was beautifully cooked, moist, delicious.
Soon large platters of roasted lamb appeared, plates of green beans and shallots, and salad leaves. The lamb leg had been slow roasted and served with cracked wheat. No shortage here as we helped one another fill plate after plate. Again it was perfectly cooked and I and everyone else nearby enjoyed it.
And, then at the end, came Lemon Posset (heard lots of compliments for this), chocolate pots (big and rich) and lovely shortbread. Great stuff and a great evening.
|Quail (left) and Lamb (top right) with desserts|
And we had some excellent wines too. The favourite around our corner came all the way from Morocco. This was the Volubilia, Domaine de la Zouina 2011. The chateau is owned by two winemakers from Bordeaux and this wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with Syrah, Mourvedre and Tempranillo. Also available were La Boussole Pinot Noir Pays d’Oc, Martinsancho Verdejo, and Framingham Sauvignon Blanc (organic) from Marlborough.
Ardsallagh’s Jane Murphy was with us and she gave us a grassroots reminder on where the food on our plates comes from. She said that this is a great time (of the year) to buy goats cheese and milk but she was mainly talking about the kidding. The arrival of the new kids upsets the normal hierarchy among the goats and envy breaks out. “It can be serious. If you’re a new mum with a good looking kid, watch out. The others will want him or her!”
There can be sadness also as “we lose some too”. But mostly it is positive. She spoke of the approach of the more mature mothers against that of the novices. And mentioned one veteran who dropped the lot, “like a boil in the bag baby”, and bolted to the other side of the shed. Jane thought it was magical but was so mesmerised she was slow to react but then quickly opened “the bag” to release the kid and all went smoothly after that.
|Jane Murphy (left). Colm McCan welcomes guests|
Then she spoke of two novice mothers, each two years old and great friends. “Besties,” suggested a nearby listener. And they went on to prove just that. Jane was watching as they each dropped a kid and then Jane was distracted by something at the other side of the shed. When she came back, she found the two new mothers with five kids between them. Jane didn't know which mother owned which kid and, as far as she knew, neither did the two mothers. But it all worked out well. The two “besties” cooperated in raising the five kids and they all lived happily (I'd better not say ever after as there may have been a little puck or two among the five!).
“It is a labour of love for me,” said Jane as she reminded us to be sure and try the milk and cheese now and for the next five weeks or so. “It won't be bad after that either!” she emphasised, “but is creme de la creme now”.
So, after that, we are all looking forward to the next event. Details are close to being confirmed but it is likely to be a mid April evening visit to the Golden Bean Coffee roastery in Ballymaloe.
Crawford Gallery Café
Emmet Place, Cork
(021) 427 4415