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…
Category: Eating Out
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.
Although clouds threatened, the sun shone continued to shine all day on Sunday at the inaugural Taste of Cork as crowds gathered to eat and drink in the atmospheric surroundings of the Cork City Gaol. What would the former inmates have thought if they looked out the bars of their windows at the thousands of people swaping their florins for delicious satay at Jacobs on the Mall, devouring Flemings‘ layered foie gras dish, eating seasonal mackerel with a fresh gooseberry sauce from Ballymaloe House, pulling apart the Ivory Tower’s Venison Chimichurri with Chocolate and Chilli Sauce and queuing for the popular Fish and Chips with Minted Pea Purée at the Club Brasserie stand? Urru was there with pâtisserie from Richard Graham-Leigh, particularly his rich Chocolate and Raspberry Tentation and an array of fruit tartlets, Jack McCarthy brought a selection of his wares and there were tastings aplenty from a variety of stalls, including plenty of offerings in the chocolate and wine side of things.
Thursday night we spent at a sumptuous banquet of Indian food, courtesy of Green Saffron, in a marquee on the lawn of the elegant Ballyvolane House. We were treated to an assortment of curries made with Green Saffron spice blends, served on fragile-looking yet surprisingly long-lasting leaf plates, and accompanied by Bubble Brothers‘ wines and bottles of Tiger Beer. Live Indian music soundtracked the evening, punctuated by Green Saffron founder Arun Kapil talking about how the dishes were made and the spices used in each one.
The perfect birthday? Take a day off work – this is always nicest if done midweek! – and book a night away in Gort na Nain, a vegetarian guesthouse near Nohoval outside Cork city, run by the welcoming Lucy Stewart and Ultan Walsh, vegetable growers and suppliers of vegetables to Café Paradiso, amongst other Cork restaurants. Drive there after work the day before your birthday, picking up the Husband en route, and arrive just in time for your pre-booked three-course dinner. Relax and savour Lucy’s fabulous cooking, using fresh-picked vegetables and fruit grown by Ultan, with the other (very entertaining) couple that happen to be staying there that night. Take a long walk to see the sea before tucking yourself into a large, comfortable bed in an bright and spacious room.
Just heard from a reader that the café at The Glebe Gardens in Baltimore is well worth a visit. Liz writes:”Just wanted to let you know of a café I happened upon last weekend. It is the Glebe Café, in Baltimore, West Cork, and it is one to rave about. The produce comes straight from their garden on to the plate and it is just spectacular. The website is www.glebegardens.com. I think they are only open at weekends right now but I think they start a weekly thing in the summer. I had Organic Beef Stew….yummy simple great food, it just excited me so much that I had to tell someone.”Last June, while the new Husband and I were honeymooning in West Cork (along with eight of his family, six English Engineers and an Irish terrier called Bridie) we visited the Glebe Gardens and loved it. Unfortunately the café wasn’t opened while we were there – although the Husband did meet the owner of the house and almost secured me a job while talking to him about me doing the course at Ballymaloe – but all the ingredients were present in the garden, just waiting to be used. Great to hear that it’s doing well – I’ll have to plan a trip back to the West this summer!