MunsterFoodieTweetup at Springfort Hall, Mallow
Love food? A mild addiction to Twitter? An interest in meeting up with those people that you chat with online everyday? The next #MunsterFoodieTweetup will be taking place at the fantastic Cronin’s Pub in Crosshaven, Cork. Check out Cork Billy’s blog for more details: Munster Foodie Tweet-up June 24th
There are no shortcuts when you have more than 50 food-loving Twitter addicts coming for dinner. You need time. Twelve hours of it to be precise. That’s how long it takes for Springfort Hall chef Bryan McCarthy to slow-cook meat until it is fall-apart tender for his signature dish – Feather Blade of Hereford Beef. Reassembled into thick discs and seared to a caramelised crust just before serving, it’s a clever way of turning a cheap cut into something sublime.
The beef was the central part of a tasting menu that Bryan put in front of us on a Sunday night in March for the third #MunsterFoodieTweetup. This was a meal that touched on all the important bases. Slow cooking with unusual cuts of meat? See above. Local produce? Jack McCarthy’s black pudding, Clonmore and Ardrahan cheeses, even home-grown pork from the hotel’s own pigs. Seasonal wild food? Three cornered leek made a dashing appearance with the beef. Sweet/salt combination? A piquant Raspberry sorbet, neatly presented in a jar, was seasoned to prod tastebuds back to life.
But this wasn’t just cooking to a series of check boxes. The passion was all in the matching of ingredients. We started off with a mini-crotin of Ardsallagh goat’s cheese, sitting alongside the juiciest poached pear and crunchy fresh walnuts. A pair of perfectly seared scallops from Dunmore East were nestled into a bed of creamy black beans, flecked with bacon. Black pudding sat on a bed of zesty celeriac remoulade, scattered with cubes of apple and cider (tick local again, from Longueville House), and had a postage stamp of glazed home-grown pork belly on the side. This I could have happily eaten all night. But that was before I got to the beef.
Post-beef, things slowed down – although there was still a cheese course (Clonmore and Ardrahan cheeses accompanied with a punchy cumin seed-flecked tomato chutney) and two deserts – a refreshing Lemon Posset and Bitter Chocolate Tart – to come.
Four wines from James Nicholson Wines were selected to accompany the meal, and the full-bodied 2009 Domaine du Grapillon d’Or Gigondas was particularly good with the beef. Anyone left still eating towards the end would have noticed that the Californian Elysium Black Muscat had enough of a bite to really lift the Chocolate Tart that we finished with although, with seven courses down already, I would have been happy with a glass of this fragrant desert wine alone.
Springfort Hall has always been a most gracious venue; with Bryan McCarthy heading up the kitchen, it’s now becoming a food destination to watch. This was a dinner truly worth driving for.