Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Barnabrow House Gourmet Evening. From Cock-a-leekie to Grand Cru Sauternes

Barnabrow House Gourmet Evening. 
From Cock-a-leekie to Grand Cru Sauterne
A warm welcome to Barnabrow House from owner Geraldine Kidd to guests from near and far (Liverpool, Dublin and Clare) was followed by Head Chef Stuart Bowes giving us a few tantalising hints about the multi-course menu ahead while Donie O'Brien (ENO) introduced the first of his wines for their annual Gourmet Evening. We were already acquainted with the Cava Pares Balta "Organic" as we came in. Cava, as you know, is made in the traditional method, just like champagne and Donie also told us about the beautiful vineyard (bees and butterflies in abundance) and that their own sheep graze among the vines.
And the Penedes Cava proved quite a match for the opening course from Stuart's homeland: Cock-a-Leekie, made with five ingredients (East Ferry Farm Free Range Chicken, leeks, Agen Prunes, puffed rice and stock). The prunes certainly enhanced the soup.

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On then to the Braised Frank Murphy Beef cheek, Gnocchi Romano and gremolata. The local beef paired very well indeed with Donie's selection, the Chateau Fontareche Cuvée Pierre Mignard, produced in Corbieres by one of his friends.

Our fish course followed and the Wild Halibut Brandade, scallop, roast parsnip with tomato and curry was another excellent combination, the rich tomato sauce and the light curry perked up the halibut and the scallop without ever threatening to overpower them. Another thumbs up for Stuart. Donie could never be accused of being a wine snob and the down to earth Kerryman admitted to "not being a Chablis man" but he still managed to pick a beauty here, the very impressive Domaine des Malandes 2017 (which will be fully organic from 2021).

The rabbit was perhaps the surprise of the menu and Stuart encouraged us to enjoy it. I certainly did, not least because it was served with a terrific Bordeaux: Château de Parenchère Cuvée Raphael (2016). Donie was very enthusiastic about this and told us they have a great terroir and get the best out of it. "Smooth, rich and opulent, " he said. "And it should go well with the rabbit." And it did!  I've been eating rabbit from my schooldays and I thought Stuart's Pancetta-wrapped version was superb, with Feuillatte with Turnip Fricassee, Golden Raisins, and Star Anise.

Our three cheeses came with terrific oatcakes and a well judged Spiced cranberry and grape chutney. The three, from the bottom, were Ardsallagh Goats, Cooleeney Soft Cows Milk, and Hegarty's Smoked Cheddar.  Enjoyed that plate as we sipped our Château Caillou Grand Cru Classé Sauternes 2007, the same wine that did its sweet duty for dessert, its honey and apricot notes a terrific match.

Blood Orange Trifle, Cointreau, Warm Orange Espuma, and Luker Chocolate.
Why don't we see more desserts like this? Hint from the chef: Don't delay.
Blood oranges from Sicily are at their best now. And another tip:
Give them a good soaking with the Cointreau!

Sweet finalé. Barry's Tea or Maher's Coffee with a selection of the splendid Petit Fours: Rum and Raisin, Chocolate Truffle, and Jelly.

Good night! And a good night's sleep was followed by an excellent breakfast at Barnabrow.
Amazing selection of fruits, yogurts, breads and more, including honeycomb, not to
mention the cooked dishes, egg dishes galore (including Benny of course) and, if you were game for it (I wasn't), the Full Irish! Storm Dennis had been playing around all weekend but our attention
was very much on the stormer being played by the Barnabrow chef and his teams,
both in the kitchen and front of house.

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