Showing posts with label JP McMahon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label JP McMahon. Show all posts

Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Aniar Experience. Tastes of the West

The Aniar Experience. 
Tastes of the West.

When I was a boy, I would fish for pollock in Belderrig with my Mayo cousins, using eels we had caught earlier in nearby mountain streams as bait. Later, with adult help, the pollock would be cooked over a few sods of turf. Not the handsomest of fish, but a delicious one.
Strawberry, woodruff
The Michelin starred Aniar in Galway city has a modest exterior. Inside, it is cool, the air conditioning at a perfect pitch to keep the temperature down to comfortable levels during the late June heatwave.


Goat, fennel
Pretty much everything is at a perfect pitch: the service (chef Killian Crowley came to explain the details of most of the dishes), the provenance, cooking and presentation. We have booked in for the Inis Oirr menu, a six course tasting menu. It costs 72 euro and we know that before we arrive. 
potato, charcoal
The drinks are on the expensive side, 9 euro for a bottle of Kinnegar beer for example. We take a look at the 80 strong wine list, looking for something light, something versatile. With excellent guidance from sommelier Zsolt Lukács, we settled on the excellent Terres Dorres L'Ancien Vieilles Vignes produced from Jean-Paul Brun's oldest Gamay vines in Beaujolais.


eel, kohlrabi.  The eel is Lough Neagh.

You are eased into the meal with four small bites, a multiple amuse bouche if you will. Three are pictured (above) and the fourth was a kelp and sea radish dashi. All were “amusing”, each tasty and each interesting.
bread and butter
 Bread is an integral part of the meal here, a sign of friendliness and informality (Aniar is not a stuffy place). And when the selection (with a couple of butters) arrives on the table, there is a poem with it: Bread by Brendan Kennelly and, before you leave, you get the recipe for their Brown Soda Seed Bread. 
pollock, pine

So on we go to the Pollock and the Pine, a few green pine needles included so that you can try the citrus taste for yourself.  Another eye-catching palate-pleasing dish is the Oyster and Wrack, the oyster has been slightly charred on top. The sea, oh the sea. 
oyster, wrack
Chef-patron JP McMahon likes to foster old cooking and preservation methods such as curing, pickling, smoking and fermentation.  It seems that next we are getting eggs but the shells contain mostly fermented potato and under that there is some chewy pollack, a worthwhile chew I hastily add. As with many dishes, the eye and the stomach are well satisfied.

potato, pollock
Here comes the mains. The lamb and the baby gem have both had the Green Egg treatment. Hardly tradition but quite superb, a McMahon Galway mix of colour, flavour and texture.

lamb, baby gem
So now we start to wind down with a "pre-dessert": an ice-cream of rapeseed (organic, of course) and birch (foraged). Perhaps I said wind down too soon. For it is followed by the main dessert of Strawberry and Woodruff, more foraging, more fermenting. The alpine strawberries are fermented to make a gel. Smooth and delicious.


rapeseed, birch

Elderflower
Now we have two more. Beetroot with goats cheese is one. The other is Elderflower Meringue. And that is the finalé of a lovely meal, a menu that tends towards the lighter side, certainly lighter than the tasting menu enjoyed in Chapter One three years back.

You are not stuffed - nor should you be, anywhere -  but neither are you in any way hungry. In that regard, it is comparable to the 12 course menu at Ichigo Ichie in Cork. Indeed, I thought I saw a Japanese character on the front of the Aniar menu but when I looked properly I saw that is Ogham, an ancient Irish alphabet, and of course it spells Aniar.

 The menu, which changes daily, is seasonal and local. Virtually everything on it is from Galway with a nod to one or two of the near neighbours, so maybe not quite as radically local as the 12-mile menu at Kevin Ahern's Sage in Midleton. If you want something different while you’re in Galway,  Aniar is the place to go. Very Highly Recommended.

beetroot (and below)

Also from this trip:
King's Head Bistro
Kitchen at Galway City Museum
Getaway to the City of the Tribes. Galway


Aniar
53 Lower Dominick Street
Galway
Twitter: @aniargalway
Facebook: AniarRestaurant
Tel: 091 535 947

Monday, April 16, 2018

Mise en place saves your ass. Chatting with Oyster Tavern Head Chef Kate Lawlor


Mise en place saves your ass 
Chatting with Oyster Tavern Head Chef Kate Lawlor
Kate in her Fenn's Quay days with John and Sally McKenna (left). See Kate
on RTE 1 on April 18th (8.30pm) in Healthy Appetite

Kate Lawlor, for so long associated with Fenn’s Quay, is now enjoying her Head Chef role at The Oyster Tavern in Cork city centre. And the team there, quite a young one, have a great chance to learn from one of the hardest working chefs around but one who enjoys “teaching others the joy of cooking, taking raw ingredients and making wonderful dishes.  I also enjoy heading to the English Market and meeting suppliers”. 

Her aim now is make the Oyster and its food offering better known among the public. We caught up with Kate after a lovely meal in the Oyster and enjoyed this chat.



I know you were sad to leave Fenn’s Quay. But you’re still on familiar ground and things have worked out well?
 After a little break after closing Fenn’s, it felt right to take on the role in the Oyster with its history and of course its location on Market Lane into the English Market. It’s taken me a few months to settle into new surroundings but, with the support of Bob (general manager) Dee (restaurant manager ) and Chris Curtin (assistant head chef)  and team, menus are coming together nicely. 

What direction is cooking here at The Oyster taking? What can we expect in the near future?
It’s very much a simple approach to good quality produce sourced within the English Market with a few Fenn’s classics popping up such as the flourless chocolate pudding  and the warm chicken salad on the lunch. There is a big emphasis on steaks and fish which will continue to evolve with the seasons. 

How did you start in the business? Was there a good cook at home or other family inspiration?
 Having taken up Home Ec in Secondary School my first summer job was in a cafe kitchen aged 16. I really enjoyed it, the cooking, the creating, so it was suggested I apply to what was then Cert in Cork Institute of Technology and the rest you could say is history. In later years I returned to complete a degree in Culinary Arts. 

Do you shout in the kitchen?
I tend not to. I learnt early on I didn’t like being shouted at and therefore I shouldn’t shout at someone, it only makes the situation worse. 

The importance of prepping. Do you ever have enough time in the kitchen?  
Some days are easier than others. There is  a great saying “mise en place saves your ass “ and it’s true. Still, you do have days when you feel you’re never on top of it but, with a great team behind you, you get there in the end.

Sourcing and provenance is important to you?
For me it is. It may cost a bit more but it’s worth it as I like to know the person behind the products and learn about how it’s made 

Have you ever come up with a dish by accident, a fluke?
Specials for me are always a bit of a fluke as always last on the prep list. Recently I cooked some pearl barley with carrots onions and some fennel seeds, added cabbage & prawn & a dash of lemon served with turbot & butternut squash purée. It truly was a dish I was super proud of.  

Meat as back-up, not the main feature in a dish? Will that happen?
Attitudes to food are changing but still our meat sales outweigh the vegetarian at present so I can’t see that happening. 

What non-Irish cuisine do you like most?
At present Japanese. Its clean flavours in the broths and the precision is mesmerising .

What is the best meal you’ve ever had?
Hard to pick out one in particular. Really enjoyed Nathan Outlaw and JP McMahon's collaboration in Aniar, Purnell's in Birmingham , 1826 in Adare. But best in the last 12 months was when I collaborated with Derry Clarke’s menu at the Oyster last November. 

Kate is set to star, along with Donegal's Gary O'Hanlon, in the first episode of a new RTE cooking series called Healthy Appetite, which is all about good food.  Episode one kicks off on RTE1 on Wednesday, April 18th at 8.30pm. 


See A Specials Evening at The Oyster Tavern.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Meals with a Difference 2017

Meals with a Difference 2017

Night of the Long Table
400 dine out on Cork's South Mall

Bayview Fish Special

Holy Smoke

Café Paradiso

Market Lane (Blasket Island lamb)

SpitJack (Cheese & Fortifieds)

Barnabrow's Gourmet Evening

JP McMahon at Greene's

Sage

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Four Hands, Five Stars, One Michelin.

Four Hands, Five Stars, One Michelin.
JP McMahon at Greene’s, Cork.
Beetroot, goat's cheese
The event was billed as a Four Hands Dinner, the talented mitts of visiting Michelin Star chef JP McMahon (Aniar, Galway) and his host Bryan McCarthy accounting for the four. But there were many other hands in this marvellous meitheal, quite a few of those in Greene’s kitchen.

And hands too of a big band of their fantastic suppliers also played a part, producers such as Kanturk’s Jack McCarthy, Galway’s Bia óisin, Ballyhoura Mushrooms and the Lismore Food Company. 

Celeriac
 And so too did Fionnuala Harkin who told us a little about the “local” winemakers (mainly organic) that her company Wines Direct works with. And through the wines, hands from Austria, France and Italy, all contributed.

The enjoyable evening started with an aromatic, flavourful and aptly named Man of Aran cocktail in Greene’s highly impressive new bar Cask. They serve small plates here from the main kitchen so that’s worth a visit on its own!

Halibut
 Soon, at the tables in the main restaurant, we had a couple of what Bryan terms snacks, one of Ham and Seaweed, the other of Beetroot, Goats Cheese, and Buckler Sorrel. Those little beauties, with a little help from the Domaine Séguinot Bordet Petit Chablis, started the ball rolling in some style.

And it kept rolling with a Harty Oyster served with Sea Beet and Dillisk. The sea, oh the sea. And another sip of Chablis.  The delicious palate cleanser of Anise Hyssop and Gorse (the posh name for furze bush!) had us ready for more.

Sorbet
The plates were getting marginally more substantial as the courses continued. A lovely combination of Celeriac, Mushroom and Hazelnut, next appeared and Fionnuala wisely switched to a red wine, Jean Paul Brun’s L’Ancien, a light and lovely Beaujolais. So many people underestimate the gorgeous Gamay grape - this bottle could change a mind or two.

Time now for the fish: Halibut, Sea Radish, Bacon, Pepper Dulse and Elf Cap. Lots of flavours here but the star, as you’d expect, was the immaculately cooked Halibut. And the wine pairing was the fresh and well textured Grüner Veltliner from Kamptal (Austria) by Steininger.

Duck
 A little flavoured-packed sorbet was next: Preserved Elderflower, Kilbrack Apple and Sorrel. 

That was followed by the Skeaghanore Duck with Parsnip, Scurvy Grass* and Ramsons. The Skeaghanore duck is widely available now and a terrific meat. But hard to beat the way it was cooked in Greene’s, tender and moist. And that parsnip was fabulous too, possibly the best rendition of that vegetable  I've ever come across. 


Cheese
 The wine, it kept coming, had by now switched back to red, to Domaine Didier Charavin, Lou Paris, Côtes du Rhône. “That should work well with both the duck and the cheese,” promised Fionnuala and she was correct, again!

The cheese was Young Buck and came with pear and raisin and superb crackers by Lismore.  Were we finished? Not at all. One more course, one more wine.

Dessert
The dessert featured Rhubarb from Richard’s Little Farm in Doneraile and the sweet and fresh wine with the usual Italian acidity, the Bera Moscato d’Asti, was the perfect match for the beautifully presented sweet. 

Cheers to JP and Bryan and to the many hands, including those of the many efficient and friendly servers, that contributed towards a memorable dinner. Same time next year?


* Scurvy-grass was extensively eaten in the past by sailors suffering from scurvy after returning from long voyages, as the leaves are rich in vitamin C, which cures this deficiency disease resulting from a lack of fresh vegetables in the diet. The leaves, which have a strong peppery taste similar to the related horseradish and watercress, are also sometimes used in salads.