Continued from Restaurant Review: The Old Convent – Part I.The fifth course – a palate-cleansing Organic Lemon and Ginger Sorbet – caused arguments. The Cousins, who are identical twins, thought that the ginger was more pronounced. The rest of us were definitely on the lemon side – as the wine kept flowing, we wondered if the world is divided into lemon-tasters and ginger-tasters.
When you’re going out for an eagerly anticipated eight-course meal at a restaurant in the middle of the Tipperary countryside it would be nice to turn up a little early, take some time to appreciate the setting and relax while perusing the wine list. In an ideal world. As it happened, ten minutes after we were supposed to arrive, the Boyfriend and I – plus my Clonmel-based and Dublin-based Cousins, accompanied by the Chilli-Intolerant Husband and the Ex-Planner Partner – were still chugging along in a Clonmel taxi that seemed to be in no hurry to get us to our destination. As we pulled up outside the imposing frontage of The Old Convent, just outside Clogheen, there was a mad scramble to pay, figure out when we should be collected and get out of the taxi but, as soon as we set foot on the black and white tiled floor of the elegant hallway, all stress was over. Calmly greeted and smoothly ushered to our table by proprietor Christine Gannon, we settled into an evening of superb food, wonderful wine and great service.
New Zealand cafés still continue to surprise and delight me. A moist Spinach Risotto Cake at Reid’s Store during a break while driving to Nelson the morning after we arrived, eaten in bright sunshine outside on the decking was my re-introduction to café cooking, NZ style on this trip. There were other days of happy eating. Marinated Lamb on a Puy Lentil Salad with lemon yoghurt dressing at Nelson’s Morrison Street Café, with a glass of local sauvignon blanc; a sticky, dried fruit-packed, gluten free Ginger Slice with a long black, milk on the side (my coffee order of choice in NZ) in Muses Café, Motueka, en route to the Boyfriend’s family bach in Ngaio Bay; a last Christchurch breakfast of a fresh-baked savoury Spinach and Cream Cheese Muffin followed by an enormous date-studded sweet scone outside Veronica’s Café on New Regent Street, soaking up the last rays of sun as we watched the tourist trams going past.
After enjoying a visit to the Nelson branch of Mediterranean Foods, I had intended to visit their shop in Christchurch, which also includes a café, for quite a while now but, somehow, it just never seemed to happen. But when I did finally make it I had a very pleasant afternoon, browsing through the shelves of this Aladdin’s Cave, piled high with ingredients from the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
Those of you who are regular readers may have noticed that it’s been quiet on Bibliocook over the last week or so. The reason for this is because I have recently returned from a road trip up the East Coast of New Zealand’s South Island with my mother and aunt who were visiting from Ireland.
Having thought that there wasn’t too much different between the New Zealand and Irish climates, I’ve been amazed to discover that lemon trees grow here. And, what’s more, they actually fruit too! While living with the boyfriend’s parents in Nelson it was a great treat to go out and pick some lemons from a tree that fruits year-round but, as we live in much colder Christchurch, I didn’t think that we would have that option ourselves.