Category: Eating Out

Dinner at the Cake Cafe, Dublin, with chef Giles Clarke 0

Giles Clark cooking at The Cake Café, Dublin

Pop-up restaurants, underground supper clubs, shy chefs. Many different names for what is, basically, a meal in an unusual venue, taking place there for one night only – or over a limited time span. But the bald facts don’t often tally with the experience. A gimmick? Yes, sometimes. But inspired cooking is memorable wherever it is found. Young chef Giles Clark, currently working with the Young Turks in London, has completed stages at culinary touchstones like Chez Panisse, River Cottage, Alinea and the legendary Noma. He was in Dublin last Saturday night with colleague James Lowe to cook dinner at The Cake Café. Vegetables – many from Denis Healy -were given star treatment: there was a sharing plate of teeny, tiny sweetie-like beetroot with elderflowers and another with the most perfect wee carrots on a lovage-flecked bread sauce with delectable crisp chicken skin.  Lamb suet dumplings came in an intense broth, with leaves of lemony sorrel to refresh the palate. Perfect little discs of smoky, chargrilled cucumber sat underneath a delicately cooked piece of hake, given a saline hit with sea purslane. A crunchy radish was the foil for a perfectly shelled soft-boiled egg and raw cauliflower that accompanied slow cooked, reassembled and seared oxtail was in...

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Caroline Hennessy in Ballinterry House | The Bridgestone Guides

A night away is always a special thing. A night away when you have children (even if you have to bring the Small Girl, who still likes milk direct from Mama) and an ever-demanding brewery is even more precious. When you only have to drive half-an-hour from home, you don’t have to leave to find food for dinner and you get to stay in the biggest room I’ve ever had the pleasure of sleeping in – there were five, five, large windows – then that night away is getting off to a mighty good start. Read the rest here: Caroline Hennessy in Ballinterry House | The Bridgestone Guides Reviewed for The Bridgestone Guides

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Wicklow lamb at Druids Glen Resort, Wicklow 0

Beer – and food and walking – at Druids Glen Resort, Wicklow

I’ve come to the conclusion that nice hotels, in many ways, are wasted on me. Swimming pool and gym on site? I’m allergic to chlorine and have never darkened the doors of a gym. Championship golf courses just outside the door? I’m with Mark Twain – “Golf is a good walk spoiled” – on that one. Great kids’ facilities? I bring the Small Girl who, at six months old, isn’t exactly up for playground runarounds just yet. But give me a comfortable airy room with plenty of room for the Small Girl’s bed, some good food and a decent walk that I can do without having to hop into my car – sometimes I need a way to justify all the eating! – and that’s me happy. Include some Irish craft beer in the equation and it’s not so easy to keep me away. Last weekend, I – together with the Small Girl and my mother – took up an invitation to stay overnight and have dinner at Wicklow’s Druids Glen Resort. The hotel was showcasing some of its local partners, including cookbook author Catherine Fulvio, the Porterhouse Brewing Company and the Hempenstall family that produce Wicklow Farmhouse Cheese. It’s not like...

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Fishing in West Cork off Courtmacsherry 8

Tasting West Cork at Inchydoney Hotel Lodge & Spa

Peace. That’s something that’s in short supply these days, especially when life includes a demanding active toddler, a hungry adorable baby, four cats, two hens and a brewery. Last Saturday, as I stood on a gently rocking boat off the coast of West Cork, fishing rod in hand, gazing across the sea at the Old Head of Kinsale, I had one of those rare moments when you know for certain that you’re totally relaxed. No smallies, no animals, no problems. It was just me, a few other newbie fisherpersons – and the fish that were to become our lunch. We just had to catch them first. *** The Husband and I were there with several other food bloggers as guests of Inchydoney Island Lodge. The fishing trip – a first for many of us – was part of a weekend that showcased the very best of West Cork food and hospitality. It was also pure indulgence. The Nespresso machine in our room got an effective work out so that we could enjoy coffee on our balcony – in the sun! with chocolates! – while the Small Girl slept. Breakfasts were eaten in a bustling dining room overlooking the sparkling bay, with my favourite bircher muesli,...

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Seafood Chowder at The Bakehouse, Dublin 8

An afternoon in Dublin… The Bakehouse, Silk Road Cafe, Skinflint

…during which I ate creamy, chive-flecked seafood chowder in an large bread bowl (€9.50) at the friendly Bakehouse (6 Bachelors Walk, Dublin). I arrived in the door with a pushchair full of squawking Small Girl – she’s not a fan of late lunches – and the helpful staff were very much appreciated. Lots of freshly baked sweet treats on offer but, seeing as I couldn’t even get near finishing my bread – seriously, look at the size of it! – I had to decline, this time. Besides, I was en route to…

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Slow cooked ham salad at Castle Cafe, Blackrock Castle 17

Ten years on – and eating around Cork: The Castle, L’Atitude 51° and Gort na Nain

Early morning, 31 December 2001. That was the moment when I made a decision that set my life on a totally new path. Rather than go home, as planned, to hang out with the Small Sister and Brother for New Years Eve, I made a spur of the moment phone call and headed for Cork to stay with the Sports Editor. As it turned out, he was also expecting a few more visitors: an Englishman, a Scotsman – and a Kiwi. Ten years later, that impromptu trip has had many consequences. What may have started as a brief fling – he lived in Cambridge at the time and was planning a five-month overland trip home to New Zealand – resulted in a Boyfriend, who subsequently became the Husband. We left our city lives for a country cottage, complete with hens, cats and a half-acre garden. Along the way, we acquired two gorgeous girls, an engineer became a brewer – and we’ve eaten a hell of a lot of good food. On Friday, with Little Missy on holidays at her grandparents’ place and the Small Girl packed in the Eight Degrees van with us, we embarked on a food-orientated anniversary trip,...

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The Shy Chef 2

Berlin: Bashful dining with the Shy Chef

An email conversation with Aoife at I Can Has Cook about her forthcoming trip to Berlin reminded me of the time I spent there with a six-month-old Little Missy while the Husband did his brewing course at VLB Berlin. The undoubted highlight was the night that the Sister and I spent at a Shy Chef dinner party. It’s a must for anyone heading to Berlin who likes unusual dining experiences – and there’s an Irish connection! Here’s a piece that I wrote about the night that nearly got lost in my drafts folder. A scattering of emails to confirm dates, each signed with a nom de plume; a wander, two maps and a set of directions in hand, through the dark streets of Kreuzberg; then arrival in a gated courtyard, up three flights of narrow stairs and into a colourful room centred on a large table. An invitation to dinner with the Shy Chef is half nervous anticipation, half anxious orientation – and an intriguing glimpse into a Berlin not normally on display to visitors. So who is the Shy Chef? It’s more of a what than a who, being a private dining club that runs thrice weekly. You make contact with the host through a...

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Eat Only Irish: Cork buffalo mozzarella and La Cucina’s Irish menu

Eat Only Irish? Why of course, when you can pick up the most amazing Irish buffalo mozzarella in Cork’s English Market. The Real Olive Company stall has just started selling the creamiest balls of mozzarella made using raw milk from a herd of water buffalo which are based on the Lynch farm near Macroom. Dairy farmer Johnny Lynch, together with the Real Olive Company’s Toby Simmons, are the men behind the cheese which is undoubtedly the freshest mozzarella that I’ve ever managed to get my hands on. The good news is that it seems to be available at all the markets with a Real Olive Company stall so, even if you’re not in Cork, you don’t have to miss out on this treat. Friday’s mozzarella made it onto a cheat’s pizza (chilled, ready made dough from Iago, also in the English Market, supplied by – I think – Arbutus Bread) with some Gubbeen chorizo. Next time I’m buying two balls: one for the pizza and the other to tear into a simple tomato and basil salad so that we can appreciate it’s sumptuous texture both cooked and uncooked. When eating Irish tastes this good, why would you want to do anything else? –...

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