Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2014

In the understated elegance of Thornton's Restaurant, Dublin , haute cuisine devotees and companions of gourmet food & fine dining, while sipping Bollinger Champagne awaited breathlessly the announcement of The World's 50 Best Restaurant,Sponsored by San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna. This prestigious awards ceremony is one of the most important events in the gastronomic calender globally and has helped to propel former winners such as El Bulli, the Fat Duck and Noma to Worldwide Superstardom.
Suspense was building and tension was high to find out if the Roca brothers of El Cellar de Can Roca, would take back home the title for the second conservative year but alas it was not meant to be. The Winner of S.Pellegrino World's Best Restaurant 2014 was Noma, Copenhagen. Denmark.

Followed by last year's number one, El Cellar de Can Roca, Girona. Spain.
In third place, Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy.
Fourth place, Eleven Madison Park, New York, USA.
Fifth place, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London, United Kingdom.
Sixth place, Mugaritz , San Sebastian, Spain.
Seventh place, D.O.M, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Eighth place, Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain.
Ninth place, Alinea, Chicago, USA.
Tenth place, The Ledbury, London, United Kingdom.
Most surprising though,was the absence of any French Restaurant in the top 10.
However, not being in the least bias, Our own Michelin * Chef Kevin Thornton should have been there too. We were treated to a sumptuous tasting menu, prepared by the Master Chef , Mr Thornton himself and his award wining team. Here are a few of the dishes we had , all copiously washed down by a selection of fine wines from Katnook Estate and of course buckets of Acqua Panna &S.Pellegrino.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Liquid Gems from Franciscan Well Brewery

Imagine gems like Amber, Citrine, Gold & Onyx, all in liquid form with zesty aromas of orange peel, hints of caramel and vanilla to lightly roasted coffee. Halfway to Heaven !!! nom....; Well yes it would be, and we are not at the top of Croagh Patrick in Co Mayo, and St Bridget hadn't just done her party trick where she turned a leper's bathwater into ale; But rather at the Launch of Franciscan Well Brewery's collection of new seasonal brews in the trendy conservatory bar of House Dublin on leeson street.
Defying Legend that the water from the well has miraculous and curative powers "that no doubt, the monks glugged down for medicinal purposes as they were the masters distillers of their time", Franciscan Well Brewery founder Shane Long instead encouraged and nurtured his brewer's creativity and skills, by challenging them to come up with a unique range of seasonal brews. It paid off with Padraig Scully winning formula " Coffee Porter " as the first seasonal beer of 2014.
Founded in 1998 on the North Mall in Cork City, the Franciscan Well Brewery is built on the site of an ancient Franciscan monastery dating back to 1219.  From grain to glass, this micro brewery has combined modern technology with age old traditions, brewing classic beers , including lager, ale, stout and wheat beers using additive-free ingredients.
The results are superb carefully crafted Irish beers made from malted barley, hops and yeast,
lovingly sourced from Ireland, UK,Germany,Czech Republic and the US.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Bon appetit... A Spring Dinner Party Menu ...

Easter;It's this time of the year once again and I cannot but wonder where does the time go !!! However, with the bank holiday weekend upon us, here is our chance to catch up with friends and family. And for those of us, who like to cook, there are few pleasures in life greater than having friends over for dinner.
Dinner parties these days can be as laid back as you like and involve nothing more formal than guests draping themselves over your furniture and enjoying the food that you have lovingly prepared and drinks that you have chosen yourself.
My only advice is, do try and prepare as much as possible in advance, to allow you more time to sit back , relax and enjoy the company of your guests. There is nothing worse and off putting than witnessing your host getting into a flap and literally having a panic attack in front of you.You cannot help but feel bad for them and I always secretly wish that my offer of help would be graciously declined but alas!!!.arrrrrghhh most often, I can hear the " Yes, please ". (joy of being a Chef)
So, my motto is Plan, plan, plan, plan..... Prep, prep, prep, prep.... In one word "Organise yourself". This is guaranteed to make the dining experience even more gratifying for all concerned and for you to enjoy the party too.
Here is a complete menu where most things can be prepared in advance and using seasonal ingredients.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Taste Of Dublin...A Gastronomic festival, 12th-15th June 2014, Iveagh Gardens, Dublin

Taste of Dublin 12 th - 15 th June . Iveagh Gardens. DUBLIN 
You know Spring has finally arrived when the quintessential Taste of Dublin food festival details areannounced. For the ninth year running, from Thursday 12th to Sunday 15th June , it returns to the Iveagh Gardens, adjacent to the National Concert Hall in the centre of the capital and this year  in partnership with Electrolux.
This is a much anticipated social event and as this year's theme is " Food For Thought ",  focus will be on provenance and for guests to think about what they consume every day.
Once again Taste of Dublin is bringing a superb selection of restaurants to the festival, all offering small tasters of their signature dish, from Michelin * Chapter One, where Ross Lewis  will showcase his decadent sweet treats. A dedicated dessert only restaurant which will run over the course of the four days. This is sure to be a Temple of pure indulgence....yummmm, What's not to love !!!

Photography Barry McCall for Chapter One

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Parsnip , A jewel among Vegetables

Parsnip, a creamy coloured, long and tapering in shape root vegetable is closely related to the carrot and while they can be used in similar ways, Parsnip has a much sweeter & earthy flavour, especially when cooked.It is a native of Eurasia and was widely cultivated by the Romans. It had pride of place then as it was widely used as a sweetener before the arrival of sugar cane in Europe.
Parsnips are very versatile, cheap and easy to prepare. It is usually served cooked but can also be eaten raw, try it grated into a salad or shredded into a slaw, it is extremely good boiled or steamed & puréed into a silky mash, alternatively try roasting it with herbs and Cumin, roasting will intensify the sugars in the vegetable, giving it a caramelised note or blitz it into a soup with a dash of Curry powderbaked into a cake or added to a soda bread, And, wait for it,  Yes , even blitzed into a creamy Hummus.
Winter is the perfect time to use parsnips as the cold temperature encourages the starch in the root to turn into sugars and are usually in season between September and late Spring. It is high in vitamins and minerals especially potassium, vitamin C fibre. Like the Potato, Parsnip will turn dark when exposed to air, so store it in water with a drop of lemon juice.
Nowadays, Parsnips features on many Michelin* Restaurant menu , either as Purée or as garnishes in the form of crisps,crackers and powders but they are also extensively used in  mirepoix for braised meats and stocks.
Herbs that are complimentary to parsnips are Basil, Dill, Parsley, Rosemary,Thyme & Tarragon and so are Curry, Cumin,Coriander, Paprika, fennel, Caraway, Honey, Mustard, Madeira, Yoghurt and sour cream.
Apart from all the usual jazzed-up parsnip mash, chips or simply roasted with honey and herbs, here are a few of my favourite ways in serving this great vegetable.