On a quick trip to Dublin today and enjoyed a brief visit to Carluccio’s Caffè on Dawson Street. Lots of gorgeous food to look at and buy – including some very presentable Christmas hampers and gifts in luxurious packaging – in the deli area at the front of their premises but we didn’t have time to linger. In search of some quick soup, we got Pasta e Fagioli, a sustaining bowl of borlotti beans and pasta in a rich broth, with a chunk of olive oil-soaked, salt-sprinkled foccacia. A cup of fresh mint tea (mint leaves in boiling water, sweeten as desired) finished off a simple and satisfying repast. Must go looking for that Pasta e Fagioli recipe in my new Carluccio’s Complete Italian Food cookbook…
Next Wednesday, 19 November, if you’re around Cork you should head directly to Fenn’s Quay Restaurant, which is hosting a Bubble Brothers Cahors wine tasting dinner. Jean-Raymond Clarenc of Clos Triguedina will be there to talk guests through tastings of about six of his wines, matched with food from chef Kevin Crowley. And the price? A very reasonable €50 per person. You can call the restaurant directly (021 4279527) or check out the Bubble Brothers blog for more details. They’re also running a competition to win a free dinner and there’s more information on that here.
Just heard that Jo’Burger in Rathmines – the place that undoubtedly serves the best burger in Dublin and the place of our last meal before we forsook the capital for country life – has been named most popular restaurant by The Dubliner in a public poll. As I write, this year’s The Dubliner 100 Best Restaurants guide is being launched in the Westbury Hotel, with Dylan McGrath of Mint chosen favourite chef by his peers. Other favourites in the People’s Choice Award are Bentley’s (avoid the Aviator Lounge at all costs), Café Bar Deli, Chapter One, L’Gueuleton, La Maison des Gourmets, Saba (great noodles), Town Bar and Grill, The Unicorn and the ever-fabulous Winding Stair.
Greatfood.ie have just relaunched a much-expanded discussion board, with a dedicated area for bloggers to list their own blogs at www.greatfood.ie/forum. While you’re there, check out Clodagh McKenna’s cute aprons (although much too cute for a cottage kitchen!) and take a look at the selection of cookery courses on offer throughout Ireland.Nigel Slater, my favourite cookery writer, wrote a piece on squash and marrows in Sunday’s Observer and, seeing as I’m probably not the only one to have lots of squash to use, I thought it might come in useful. You’ll find it here.
I’ve written here before about my experience of building an outdoor wood-fired oven on a workshop held at Mallow Racecourse during the summer. My own oven is still not, ahem, built (or even started) but Hendrik Lepel, oven builder extraordinaire, is holding another workshop in Nohoval over the weekend of the 15 and 16 November. More details below.
If you’re around Dublin on Sunday 14 December, Slow Food Dublin are planning a pre-Christmas, open air roast at Meeting House Square in Temple Bar with chestnut-stuffed roast pig on a spit, mulled wine, hot cider and live music. They will also have a number of stalls from food producers around the square and are looking for any new producers in the Dublin area to contact them if interested in participating. More information below.
Tuesday was not a nice day. As I drove down to Kilmackillogue pier in Kerry in the morning, the rain rarely stopped beating against the windscreen as the wipers battled to give me a view of the road. It was not the perfect day to go out on a boat yet that’s exactly where I was heading, off harvesting mussels with Paul Kelly, who is a part-time mussel farmer as well as being a gold and silversmith. On a brief stop in Kenmare – Jam was calling for morning tea – I took a moment to admire Paul’s rings, which combine gold, silver and both precious and semi- precious stones, in the window of his shop, before hitting the wet road again for the extra half-hour drive to Kilmackillogue.
Any excuse is a good one to visit Dingle and when it involves a Food Festival and an invitation to participate in the judging of the inaugural National Irish Food Awards, also known as Blas na hÉireann, how could anyone resist? Certainly not me and Saturday found my tastebuds at the ready to sample some of the enormous variety of foods entered into a series of blind tastings. Without the context of packaging and placement, it was a real opportunity to see what was out there on the Irish market. And it wasn’t all, ahem, work. I also got to meet fellow bloggers Val and Ollie, catch up with my former teacher Rory O’Connell, wander around the variety of food stalls scattered around the town, eat a first class meal at seafood restaurant Out of The Blue have several afternoon affogatos and sample a variety of the Mexican flavours on offer at Murphy’s Ice Cream (the Guacamole was a very surprising hit.)