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West Cork’s well established Celtic Cook-offcame to the city last Friday night to celebrate. A team of Scotch chefs visited last week and Fenn’s Quay’s Kate Lawlor, a contestant in last year’s Skibbereen showpiece, decided to join forces with the visitors and host a dinner In Celebration of the Celtic Cook-off. And weren't we lucky that she did. Great too that the West Cork Hotel and Braehead Foods came on board and joined in the fun on the night.
It was a magical meal. A terrific mix of company and a stream of fantastic food from the little kitchen at the back of the well loved restaurant on Cork’s oldest terrace. The weather outside wasn't the best but we soon warmed up with a wee dram of Scotch thanks to Neil Grant and the West Cork Hotel and a taste of Avril Allshire-Howes’ renowned black pudding bread. And then we were up and running, the chefs on song and front of house also playing a blinder.
Salsify & sauce!
Crispy Salsify with West Cork wild Alexander dipping sauce and bacon dust (Fenn’s Quay). The high standard was set here. When the Salsify was finished, people used all kind of tools and methods to get the rest of Alexander sauce out of the bottom of the little jar!
Seared Highland venison, roasted beetroot, piccalilli dressing (Joe Queen and Jim Hood, Braehead Foods) This came on a shared plate; the venison, sliced thin and enhanced by the beetroot and dressing, was a delight.
West Coast scallop baked in shell with Iasc Irish Shellfish Butter (Alan, Loch Fyne) A big shell that, once opened, revealed a memorable combined flavour of fish and that delicious butter.
Fillet of Scotch beef, truffle parfait, cured ham, stovie fondant tattie, medley of seasonal vegetables, Madeira, shallot and Arran Mustard Essence (Joe Queen and Jim Hood, Braehead Foods) This, the biggest plate of the evening,was also a highlight. The mouth-watering hunk of top notch beef came with a whole ensemble of supporting flavours, even the humble tattie more than holding its own.
Carrageen moss with blood orange and Brecon Gin Sorbet and poached rhubarb (Fenn’s Quay). Sometimes a big meal is followed by a big dessert, a step too much for many. But not here. This was light delight, a superb Carrigeen the highlight.
Mella’s Fudge (award-winning West Cork fudge). I have long been a fan of Mella’s West Cork fudge and I reckon she made a few more friends last night. Maybe, in some cases a day or two later, as quite a few pieces of the fudge ended up in handbags along with the whiskey miniatures. All the better to relive the memory of a lovely night in Fenn’s Quay when we were all winners as Ireland and Scotland played out a friendly in the kitchen.