Monday, 22 December 2014

I love Cooking Magazine .. Christmas with the Chefs. Dec 2014

Christmas With The Chefs – Robert Jacob

Fri, 05 Dec 2014

robert to use

Following an award-wining career, designer Robert Jacob swapped high fashion for fine dining and to pursue his real love of food & wine. A classically trained chef, he has a background nurtured in some of Dublin & London’s top Michelin star establishments. Today he chats with us about Christmas, and making life easy on yourself.

What is your first food memory of Christmas ?
It would have to be eating toasts dripping with foie gras butter as a young child. I have a French Mother and she would always prepare her  foie gras Royale over the weekend before Christmas, which is traditionally served at  Christmas in her native land. All the trimmings from the terrine would be blended with farmhouse butter and turn into a foie gras butter which we would then spread on hot toasts.
Can you tell us a little about your Christmas celebration and what it means to you ?
It is the perfect occasion for indulging ourselves in dressing up and to entertain at home but I don’t allow it to be a stressful affair as entertaining these days can be as laid back as one likes 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. For me it is not about exchanging gifts but rather sharing  quality time with close friends & family.

robert jacobs gluten free log
Robert’s Gluten Free Chocolate Chestnut Log
Do you follow your mother’s recipe for Christmas dinner or have you evolved?
Indeed I have evolved but certain food and elements have to be adhered to such as the Christmas cake. Christmas just wouldn’t be complete without the Christmas cake & pudding. I always bake both but they are rarely consumed in my household. However , both freezes really well, Christmas cake and madeira make a wonderful ice-cream, shape into a sausage and roll into a meringue roulade whereas Christmas pudding makes a great base for a baked alaska. Both are almost traditional but with added snow.

What unusual addition is  unique to your Christmas feast ?
Whether with a contemporary reinvention of the classics, I always  add a touch of drama in shape, form or colour. I serve my food in verrines or as easy bites and make use of all those shot glasses, expresso cups , mini ceramic pots and spoons lurking at the back of the cupboard and perfect to showcase  my favourite Irish Artisan food producers:
Burren cured salmon with organic seaweed
Ed Hick ‘S Wild smoked venison & squash puree
Tartare of Asparagus and Goat’s bridge trout caviar
Wildwood vinegars for sauces & mixing into cocktails
And any leftovers can go back in the fridge until later, to serve as an assiette of cold starters or just at hand to fill that little peckish gap before moving on to yet another party or god forbid for the unexpected guests.

What are your top three tips for a person cooking their first Christmas dinner ?
1. Check your bank balance , this will be a good guide in planning your menu, but of course even if normally your budget is restricted , it doesn’t prevent you from going upmarket for this special occasion .
2. Keep it simple. Not great heaped servings and an overload of luxury, but a spoonful or two of festive treats, with flavours intense and complimentary and don’t forget, that the most basic recipe can be topped and dressed up to look fabulous and as long as you use quality ingredients, they will taste fantastic too. Check out Irish Artisan producers, there is a huge range of high quality produce out there.
3. Last but most important, prepare as much as possible on the days before as you want to enjoy the festivities as well.

Follow Robert on Twitter or like his page on Facebook for updates and recipes.

©2012-2015;Robert Jacob;jacob'scrackers;jacobscrackers9; All rights reserved

Monday, 8 December 2014

The Dead Rabbit. New York"Santa's favourite Tipple" Irish Whiskey Cocktails by Jack McGarry The Taste Magazine. Dec 2014

Santa’s Favourite Tipple by Robert Jacob

Photo 1,Dead Rabbit NY,Jack McGarry

Embrace the festive season this year in style & celebrate Christmas 2014 with panache. There is the traditional, that requires the little black dress, three rows of pearls, fresh holly and the heavy spiced dark red mulled wine, that will have you rooting for the headache tablets on Christmas morning.

But for cutting-edge, think smart boutique hotel or New York loft. This requires altogether a different look, Cocktails is the drink of choice here, not mulled wine!

This year one of the world’s best cocktail bartenders, Jack McGarry, co-founder of The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog in New York was in Dublin as special guest of Dublin Whiskey Live. The Dead Rabbit won Best American Cocktail Bar and the World’s Best Drinks selection at the 2014 Tales of the Cocktails Spirited Awards. This two Spirited Award wins, reinforces the bar’s achievements at last year’s 2013 Tales of the Cocktails that included winning “ World’s Best New Cocktail Bar, World’s Best Cocktail Menu and International Bartender of the year “ for Jack McGarry.

As an Irishman, I’m proud to restore my country’s spirit to popularity in the US and I decided to rethink our offerings from the ground up and salute Irish Whiskey, with a definitive selection of rare and unique expressions and an unprecedented number of newly created drinks to honor it.” – Says McGarry

Photo 2,Dead Rabbit NY, Sean Muldoon & Jack McGarry
Sean Muldoon & Jack McGarry, Co-founders of The Dead Rabbit NY

Having opened its doors less than two years ago, The Dead Rabbit can already boasts five Spirited Awards. A truly remarkable feat and affirms all the effort that they put in each day to make The Dead Rabbit experience unforgettable for their clientele. From the start, The Dead Rabbit set out to shake up the cocktail world and set new standards of excellence with a refined second storey cocktail parlor offering no less than 64 cocktails, all using Irish Whiskey.

Whether you are a whiskey enthusiast, an uninitiated newcomer or just looking for a night out that offers you something different, this bar provides the unique opportunity and platform to make learning about Irish whiskey both fun and stimulating.While most of us are acquainted with it as a sipping spirit, Irish whiskey is versatile and plays very well in a broad range of cocktails, from light and refreshing to more contemplative that will have you both surprised and delighted.
With gentle persuasion, Jack very kindly gave us 3 of his Irish Whiskey cocktail recipes to share with you. And as a Christmas bonus from us at The, there is your chance to dazzle your friends & family as we will be giving away a bottle of each Whiskey courtesy of Ally McAlpine from the Celtic Whiskey Shop to one lucky winner so as you can russle up these newly created quaffs .

Photo 3,Dead Rabbit NY,Montilla...Powers Gold label

Montilla ( Jillian Vose )
2 Dash Dale Degroff Pimento Bitters
1 tsp Cinnamon bark syrup
0.25 oz Pierre Ferrand dry Curacao
0.75 oz Alvear Pale cream sherry
0.75 oz Cocchi Americano
1.5 oz Toasted Sesame infused Powers Gold Label Irish Whiskey
Method: Stirred
Garnish: lemon oil

Photo 4, Dead Rabbit NY, Tipperary ...Powers Johns Lane

2 dashes Orinoco Bitters
2 dashes Orange Bitters
.05 oz Green Chartreuse
1.05 oz Sweet Vermouth
1.05 Powers John’s Lane Irish Whiskey
Method: stirred
Garnish: Orange twist

Photo 5,Dead Rabbit NY,  Faro Point....Teeling small batch

Faro Point ( Jillian Vose)
1 dash Dr Orinoco Bitters
1 dash Bittermen’s Mole Bitters
0.75 oz lemon juice
0.5 oz Banana Simple syrup
0.25 Orgeat
0.5 oz Pineau de charentes
1oz Plantation 5 year Barbados rum
1oz Teeling Small batch Irish Whiskey
Method: Shaken
Garnish: Nutmeg

Simply follow @jacobscrackers9 & @Thetaste_ie on twitter &
send us a tweet with #santafavtipple#deadrabbitny#celticwhiskeyshop
to be in with a chance to win the 3 bottles of whiskey.
A winner will be picked on the 15th Dec.

Big Thanks
to The Celtic Whiskey Shop  for supplying the prize,
Located on 27-28 Dawson street , Dublin 2.
Tel :01-6759744
More Information

Great Cocktail Getaway
Alternatively, why not treat yourself or give someone you love a Christmas voucher
to the Brooklodge & Macreddin village, situated just outside Dublin, nestled against the
stunning backdrop of the Wicklow mountains. There you can have your own Mixologist
extraordinaire Oisin Davis and their Award winning restaurant The Strawberry Tree.

Photo 6,BROOKLODGE Christmas Voucher 2014

©2012-2014;Robert Jacob;jacob'scrackers;jacobscrackers9; All rights reserved

Friday, 5 December 2014

Chameleon Restaurant celebrating 20 yrs of success. The Taste Magazine. Dec 2014

Chameleon 20 Years of Success

Chameleon Picture Restaurant

Chameleon in Temple Bar has had an enduring presence on the Dublin Food Scene since the mid 90’s and recently celebrated its 20 anniversary. An outstanding achievement indeed, in an industry where only a mere 7% sees it through their first birthday.

It is run by husband and wife Kevin & Carol O’Toole, While Carol oversees the Front of House and business side of things, Chef Kevin takes great pride in the attention to details required to produce Award-Winning food in his kitchen, showcasing Irish produce – Wicklow Lamb,Rare breed Fermanagh black pigs, Broightergold’s rapeseed oil, Highbank Orchard’s Ciders, 8 degrees brewing craft beers among a few. Chameleon picked up Best World Cuisine at the Irish Restaurant Awards 2013.
The influence here at Chameleon is Indonesia, often referred to as the World’s largest Archipelago, with more than 18,000 islands, it has a Culture steeped in history, so not surprisingly,with such a rich mixture of cultures, the Cuisine varies from region to another or whichever of it’s many islands you visit.
It can be fiery or enticingly aromatic but always full of fantastic flavours with subtle undertones from the use of a huge variety of Spices , Herbs & various Soy sauces . Hence good Culinary skills , Palate and a nose is a must in it’s execution, as there is no secret to making the most perfect and tastiest dishes , it all lies in the tasting and balancing of flavours.

I love Kevin personal take, inspired by Indonesian Culture and tailored for an Irish audience, such the Ox cheek beef Rendeng cooked only once, ”Malaysian style” as opposed to the twice cooked drier Indonesian version, all because we do here in Ireland like a bit of extra gravy.

In keeping with popular demands and trends of the bohemian quarter of Temple bar, they opened the Spice Bar downstairs in Chameleon in January 2014. This new concept has worked rather well for all concerned, allowing people to choose their favourite “ tapas style “ along with a glass of wine or an artisan craft beer while the upstairs restaurant continues to serve the traditional “ Rijst-Tafel “. This has allowed the Chefs to play with specials and seasonal produce such as Irish Scallops, goat, mushrooms etc.. as well as offering full vegetarian and coeliac menus option.

Here are some of the dishes I feasted upon recently

Bumbu Bali Mushrooms were crisp marinated portobelo & chestnut mushrooms in a lacy tempura batter served with Chameleon’s own spicy peanut sauce. Deliciously succulent, they were perfectly cooked , soft with a moist golden crunchiness and melted in the mouth. The peanut sauce with enough lime to balance out the garlic and ginger of the marinating curry paste.

photo 1Chameleon Portobello & chustnut mushrooms bunbu bali

Scallop Bumbu Bali were Irish king scallop in a bumbu bali sauce, balinese foam & pomegranate reduction and crab.The scallops were perfectly cooked, silky, juicy and full of flavours while the crab had a refreshing smack of granny smith apples & subtle hint of chilli. I could have eaten a massive amount of these and nothing else.

photo 2 Chameleon  Scallop bumbu bali

Next the Otak otak pipeh was a Crab Cake with hake, asian herbs, ginger, garlic and chillies coated in  panko crumbs. With enough Hake to add substance and not overpower, some sweet potato enchancing the sweetness of the Crab Meat coupled with the sweet & sour of the Mango Chilli Sauce, this little gem delivered a glorious mouthful of Sunshine on the palate.

photo 3_1otak_otak_crab_cakes

A side of Asinan salad was a mix of Chinese leaves, pak-choi, coriander, cucumber shavings, shredded mango & pineapple in a galangal and shallot dressing.
Here the simple ingredients of the dressing, where the shallots and galangal are browned and caramelised in Broightergold Rapeseed oil transforming all the simple ingredients into a harmonious plate of flavours.

photo 4 _asinan_salad

For additional textures with a Crunch factor , came Pangsit goreng were Crispy fried Pork Wontons served with a chilli sambal. Slow cooked pork belly is used here as the filling. It fell apart on the first bite with a subtle hint of ginger, cumin, fennel & scallions .Oh…. My … need I say more? Only that they were demolished in a flash.

photo 5_pangsit_goreng_pork_wontons

The famous Perkedel followed, a crisp Potato cake with Chick peas and Curry Leaves. It was served on a little mound of finely shredded  red cabbage , enrobed with the most delish pickled aubergine mayonnaise & a mango chilli salsa. This Indonesian style potatoe cake had some lovely textures to it, which came from some finely diced vegetables. The Pandang leaves were wonderfully aromatic and all encased in a golden crispy coating of Panko crumbs and toasted sesame seeds.

Photo 6perkedel_potato_cake

The final dish of braised Ox Cheek Beef Rendeng was wonderfully rich and fragrant, slow cooked it was very tender and juicy and fell apart on contact and practically melted in the mouth. A perfect harmony of flavours with undertones of tamarind and coconut. It was full of fantastic flavours & offered a very real feel good factor.

photo 7 Chameleon , Ox cheek rendang

This was a pure Celebration of Indonesia and indeed a glorious feast that took me back to very happy memories of holidaying in Bali.
This adaptable couple are looking forward to what the future holds for their enduringly popular gem of a restaurant and Award -Winning Food. Soon, you will be able to purchase  some of their produce at the weekly food market in Temple Bar & sample some of their food at the Temple Bar Taste Trail at the end of January 2015. I don’t know about you but I will without doubt be stocking up on their One pot Sauces & Pickled Aubergine Mayonnaise.

1, lower fownes st
Temple Bar, Dublin 2
Tel : 353-1-6710362  

Photography by Mark Duggan

Check out our competition to win a Dinner voucher for 2 at Chameleon . There are two up for grabs so Best of Luck & enjoy.

Happy Christmas to all. x

©2012-2014;Robert Jacob;jacob'scrackers;jacobscrackers9; All rights reserved

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Ross lewis of CHAPTER ONE" In the king's Kitchen " The Taste Magazine. Dec 2014

Ross Lewis featured image

Considered by many to be one of the greatest chef, Ross lewis‘s Michelin Star Restaurant, Chapter One is without doubt regarded as the best in Ireland. Waiting for Ross at the Chef’s table overlooking the open plan kitchen, with chefs radiating energy as they cook and interact with each other, brought back many happy memories as I was fortunate to have been trained and worked here as a Chef many moons ago.
While the dining room is infused with refined elegance, the menu is gloriously modern European. Ross Lewis approach to cooking is restrained, minimalist, playfull but most of all, It is focused on pure clean flavours using the best seasonal produce with unexpected contrast of flavours, temperatures and textures.

Here he tells us a bit about his passion.

What are your first food memories?

“Collecting eggs with my grandfather on his farm and going back to the house to cook a big fry up. On a gastronomic note, It would be eating Scallops Mornay in Jimmy Edwards in Kinsale at the age of 7-8yrs, when eating out was a once a year family affair as well as a huge treat. Another that spring to mind would be pickled Roll mops herrings from Halpins in Cork that subsequently triggered my ongoing love of salt & vinegars.“

How would you describe Chapter One?

“A work in progress. An honest exchange between the kitchen, where we go to a lot of trouble in sourcing hand crafted, high quality ingredients and to reflect them on a plate in our own style that we have developed over the last 23 years. Overall Chapter One delivers a warm welcome upfront, congenial atmosphere and value for money in terms of consistency. “

If you had to pick one dish, which you are most proud of, off your current menu, which one is it and why?

“The Crab salad, with cucumber jelly, compressed cucumber, salted cucumber, clam juices, coriander oil, brown crab mayonnaise. I like dishes that have elegance, integrity and balance and this one is certainly beautiful, very elegant and with great balance of flavours.

What aspect of running a restaurant do you love and hate the most?

“I love the creative part, the organizational side, chasing standards and constantly trying to improve. The way you get bogged down is through the repetitiveness, constant training of staff , spending time outside of the kitchen due to pressure for media demands that unfortunately are vital nowadays.“

What are your views in relation to your Michelin star ? Is the star a blessing or a curse?

“Without hesitation, I would say a blessing. You have to embrace it and be grateful. There is no point in allowing it to intimidate you as it does drive a huge amount of customers your way as well as incoming foreign journalist who are on the look out for what’s new, fresh and where is the quality.”

Your book gives back to the food producers behind Chapter One, how important is it to you and have they played a part in the success of the restaurant?

“Indeed, my menu is a patch work quilt of my suppliers. They form part of the big Irish food family and I appreciate their passion. I know when I get products from them, they strive to ensure how beautiful they can make it as opposed to how much profit is there in it for them and this gives me a huge reassurance for at the end of the day, all cooking starts with the shopping.
As to the success of the restaurant, there are three elements to take into account.
Firstly, all the staff that have passed through here, constantly pushing standards.
Our Suppliers and our Customers.”

Looking to the future is there any dreams left to fulfill?

“In a perfect world, I would love to think that I could go on to another level and get another star.“

What are your views on Ireland as a food destination?

“It has an increasing appeal and the food scene is changing and certainly on it’s way up. The premier produce of Ireland is second to none and we must move forward in premiumising our products. It has provenance and tells a story. As a small island, there is a great food family out there, the soul and spirit within that community is so strong and I can see it getting stronger, I hope that in a decade, we will be blessed to be one of the greatest food country in the world.”

Can you tell us a little about your Christmas celebrations, and what it means to you?

“Personally and physically, it is a huge burden of relief after working all the hours god sent for the past months. We close for two weeks and primarily it is having the time off and spending it with my family.
My thought process for the Christmas meal, is to keep it simple. I usually opt for the traditional turkey as I refuse to eat it at any other time . It would have to be a bronze free-range organic bird with 3-4 simple accompaniments. I would also waver on something like duck, with a good punchy red cabbage, good roast potatoes and bread sauce.
Pushing the boat out, I might go for something decadent and treat myself to some White truffle or skewered foie-gras with chestnut. The next day, I really like capon stuffed with spinach, brioche and foie-gras. It is Christmas after all and this is a rare treat so be good to yourself.“
Thank you Chef.

Robert Jacob in conversation with Ross Lewis of Chapter One about his passion and his Michelin Star.

Chapter One
18-19 Parnell Square
Dublin 1
Tel : 01-8732266

©2012-2014;Robert Jacob;jacob'scrackers;jacobscrackers9; All rights reserved

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

San Pellegrino Best Young Chef 2015. A global talent search. Have you got what it takes to be the !!

San Pellegrino, ambassador of Italian taste and fine dining, launches a global talent search to find the best young chefs from all over the world.
Open until December 15th, young chefs from all over the world can apply outlining their signature dish on, the online magazine for food enthusiasts, proudly endorsed by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna. The chefs must be 30 or under and working as professionals in a restaurant as chefs, sous chefs or chefs de partie for at least one year.
All candidates will be divided in 20 regions according to geography. Thereafter , ALMA, the world’s leading international educational and training centre for Italian Cuisine , will select the first 10 finalists from each region according to five Golden Rules: ingredients, skills, genius, beauty, message.