As a child, I was fascinated with our local butcher’s shop. Every time I was sent in there, I’d have my fingers crossed that there would be a big crowd ahead so that I’d have more time to watch, enthralled, as the big men behind the wooden butchers’ blocks speedily and expertly dissected carcasses of meat, saws and knives flashing, all the time keeping up their end of the conversation with their customers. The sawdust on the floor, the posters of cuts of meat on the wall, the chunks of lamb or beef hanging from hooks behind the counter – it all held me so spellbound that I would often forget what I was supposed to be buying for dinner.
Category: Eating Out
While in New Zealand, staying with the Husband’s parents, our nearest café is actually a winery called Fossil Ridge. We pass the small vineyard on our daily walk (sometimes several times a day as the Husband tries to balance lots of eating his mother’s fabulous food with regular competitive brother-in-law weigh-ins!) and the walk does occasionally get a little interrupted. An attractive wooden building, set amidst olive groves and overlooking a pond covered with water lilies, the cellar door is a relaxed setting to enjoy a selection of platters and light lunches to accompany its wines.
I’ve had a sneaking fondness for the Crawford Art Gallery Café ever since I spent a Saturday working there while on the Ballymaloe Cookery Course and have returned several times since. The Husband and I were on a rare Saturday trip to Cork at the weekend, made all the hungrier for lunch by some cheese nibbling at our local Killavullen Farmers’ Market, courtesy of Gudrun at Fermoy Natural Cheese. Despite the crowds in the café, we got a table quickly, which was just as well as I had already spotted lamb’s liver on the menu.
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…
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.
A short trip to Kenmare earlier this week unearthed plenty of good food. Dinner at the Lime Tree was worth waiting for, as we arrived late, stepping into the lively, convivial atmosphere of the restaurant from a cold, damp night. There was plenty to choose from on the menu but my eye didn’t go too far and I gladly devoured a dish of the sweetest Kilmacalogue mussels, steamed open in a in a lemon, garlic, ginger and corriander broth. Tempted though I was by the Kerry lamb on offer, I stuck with the seafood and enjoyed the monkfish instead. A portion of well-flavoured pea and chorizo risotto surrounded medallions of the fish, in a rosemary butter sauce, topped with long, curly parsnip crisps. There wasn’t a lot left on the plate by the time the friendly waiting staff came to clear and I didn’t even get to touch the, for me, superfluous side dishes of vegetables and potatoes. After all that, desert didn’t even get a look in and I finished with a pot of peppermint tea.