THERE MAY be some truth to the notion that people let themselves go a bit after getting married, at least if the past week is anything to go by.
The wedding was Saturday last but I don’t think I’ve cooked dinner at home since at least the 2nd of the month, kicking off the marathon of eating and dining out with a second Christmas dinner with the now in-laws.
There was a pre-wedding tapas night out, followed by all the food across the day in Langton’s, taking in Cleere’s on Sunday, Café Mocha and Hotel Kilkenny on Monday, Zuni on Tuesday, Oldtown Hill, Cafe Sol on Wednesday, The Courtyard, Orange (formerly Yum Café) and Primo on Thursday, The Vintage Tea Rooms on Friday and more breakfast, lunch and dinner out in between. As it happens, breakfast this morning is pretty much the first thing I’ve cooked at home all year.
We decided early on (considering we only spent about 4-5 months trying to organise the wedding) to park a honeymoon (in the going foreign sense of the word) out to later in the year, instead spending time with mates at
home, day-tripping, hanging out in coffee shops and soaking up all that Kilkenny has to offer – pretty much being tourists in our hometown. And you know something? It’s pretty cool.
Granted, I’m pure stuffed after the past week and with another week off to come, I reckon I’ll be well set for a detox come 20 January.
In the meantime though, there’s more food to explore locally, before finding out what London has to offer during the week. Thanks to those who’ve sent tips my way on places to eat. If there’s anything I should be checking out around Picadilly, just shout!
It starts with a coffee, until you realise that it’s well past lunchtime, closer to dinner time and you haven’t sat down to a full meal for the day. I spent the morning filming the latest cookery and meal planning demos at Furnace Fitness which, if the closeups are anything to go by, should turn out to be great. So with a morning sampling salads and steaks behind me, the dawning realisation mid afternoon that you haven’t had a solid meal brought the two of us to Statham’s on Patrick Street in Kilkenny to continue our intention of eating in new places or places we’ve not been to in a year or so locally. Continue Reading
Last November, myself and Mrs. Any Given Food-to-be (she’s got about 4 months or so left with that name) had one of the best tapas-fuelled nights out at Cava in Galway in its then Dominic Street residence, next to Aniar. In typical fashion we ordered a little of this, a little of that, a platter of this, a bottle of that, having no idea what the portions would be like and not at all expecting that we would need to pull in a second table or spend an hour walking around Galway after the meal trying to recover.
Bottom line, it was a top night of food, great atmosphere all with lovely service – the complete package for us. We picked up lunch from them at the Food & Wine Show in the RDS in December but less than two months later, however, owners JP McMahon and Drigín Gaffey closed the doors.
Flash forward to May of this year and it was announced that Cava would be coming back, the pair in talks to take over the old Mustard unit on Middle Street in Galway’s Latin Quarter, opposite the Cornstore. Skip to the present and the newly named Cava Bodega is in the final stretches towards opening for the middle of next month, taking residence over two floors which includes a new Pinchos Bar on the upper floor with seating for 20 while the downstairs level will have seating for 40 with a more cellar-like feel. Continue Reading
The Kilkenny Arts Festival is in full swing and I’ve been on the ground for every day of it thus far, gathering content for the festival blog, my other blog, and video archive. Being on the ground for the festival is a tricky one, there’s always something to cover or that needs covering. As such, the opportunity to get in and out of places to eat isn’t all as regular as you would hope.
Yes, the soup and sandwich has been had (yesterday, at last), but another place you can source a soup, sandwich, some MOAK coffee, funky homemade lemonades and cordials and other cake niceties is Cafe TBA at The Hole In The Wall.
It’s only open a bare few months but was recently named the place place in Kilkenny for a coffee in a KCLR96FM listener survey. Kieran Mulhull (pictured above) and Bill Carroll (below right) are running the coffee house end of things (tea / coffee / lemonades / food) while The Hole In The Wall looks after the rest (namely the wine bar side of things)
Seemingly they’re the only place in Kilkenny serving MOAK coffee and the guys are pretty particular about their coffee, taking care in its preparation, service and delivery.
On the counter you’ve got a variety of cakes, buns and light desserts made locally and changing up on a daily basis. On rotation too are the soups throughout the week while on the sandwich side of things you’ve got the choice of The Archer (with parma ham, red onion marmalade, sun-dried tomatoes and grated cheddar on batch loaf) or The Duke (with hummus, grilled marinated beetroot, roasted red peppers and feta cheese on batch loaf).
Me, I skipped the soup and sandwich and went straight for the fresh pear and almond tart…
…all washed down with a homemade ginger (powerful whack), blueberry and lime lemonade.
There’s seating indoors and outdoors but the kicker for those of you who don’t know, is that The Hole In The Wall is the oldest surviving townhouse in Ireland, the 1582 Archer inner house on 17 High Street. It’s an Elizabethan building, with the tavern / snug transformed into the cafe during the day time while upstairs holds regular talks, lectures, gigs, performances and exhibitions.
If you’re in the High Street area of Kilkenny, keep an eye out for the signs. Even if you’re not hungry or thirsty, it’s worth getting your head in there to explore the house itself.
OK, so it’s not really a festival (though, I wouldn’t argue against it appearing on the calendar). But, if I’m right, this is the third year that Cleere‘s in Kilkenny will be rocking their awesome soups and sandwiches for the Kilkenny Arts Festival.
It was originally intended as a short-term affair, maybe for a summer. Then it continued through the winter, now three years later, there’s five or six daily soups or stewps (you just have to ask), your choice of any sandwich combination on fresh cut brown or white local breads and now the recent addition of a raw energy salad with chicken for the meat eaters or halloumi for the vegetarians.
No word of a lie, it’s one of my favourite places in town (if not favourite) for the soup and sandwich combo. I may just have to run a tab for the next fortnight.
A sandwich (any bread, any amount of toppings) runs €3.95; similar for the soup, or get the full combo for around €9 with a tea or coffee in the mix as well. Hearty, wholesome, and with the free wifi it’s a grand place to get some afternoon work done at the same time.
If you’re hitting Kilkenny for the Kilkenny Arts Festival, which runs between August 9th and 18th, or if you’re hitting Kilkenny at any time and in the mood for a sandwich, soup or salad and a dose of good pub atmosphere, then make your way to Parliament Street and drop into no. 28. If you’re passing by in the evening, you’ve also the possibility of nabbing a pizza when the sandwiches are off the menu.
Odds are you’ll find me having lunch there most days next week.
Cleaver East, the latest venture from chef Bon Appétit’s Oliver Dunne along with Rory Carville (formely of Locks Brasserie in Portobello), is set to open on Dublin’s East Essex Street in Temple Bar from Monday 29 July. Food trials will be running next week, with reservations.
To paraphrase Oliver Dunne from the Cleaver East blog, it’s not going to be a fine dining restaurant and they’re not after another Michelin Star. Cleaver East will be a tasting plate restaurant, not serving tapas, but serving complete fully garnished dishes in smaller tasting sizes with prices ranging from €5 to €15.
Check out CleaverEast.ie for online bookings.
The finals of the annual Irish Restaurant Awards were held in Dublin last night in the Burlington Hotel. Having gone through the regional finals in various stages earlier in the year, the grand final gives the nod to the best in class in Ireland of restaurants across a wide variety of categories. On the local front (to me anyway) there were wins for Mount Juliet’s The Lady Helen restaurant in as Best Regional Hotel Restaurant in Leinster, topping it all off by winning the national award as well for Best Hotel Restaurant in Ireland.
Ananda’s Suni Gahi has been named Best Chef in Ireland for 2013 while The Tannery in Dungarvan (pictured above), under the watchful eye of Paul Flynn (Best Chef in Munster) has been named as Best Restaurant in Ireland for 2013.
Read on for the full list of winners… Continue Reading
IF YOU’VE ever wondered what it’s like to cook in a Michelin-starred kitchen, you might just get the chance to put your mind at ease over the summer.
The Whole Lamb and The Whole Of The Fish are new additions to the cookery school (not a nose-to-tail course, but getting better use out of fish or lamb), along with learning to bake the sweetest brioche, deboning chickens, preparing pork and more besides.
The classes and workshops will be hosted by Aniar’s JP McMahon (pictured right, above)
Understanding Food is the first course up of the season, taking enrolled students on a six week learning curve through six basic food elements. Each Monday they will look at the origin and traceability of bread, beef, pork, fish, poultry and vegetables and how best to prepare them. The course, which costs €360, will start on June 10th, and commence again on August 12th and also October 7th.
Aniar will also play host to a range of one-day workshops costing €150, which will focus on specific food groups. The workshop “The Whole Lamb”, to be held on June 9th, will teach students how to cook the nicest cut of lamb, while “The Whole Hog”, held on June 23rd, will teach students how to use pork to prepare delicious meals.
For lovers of baking, “The Whole Loaf” will teach students how to make everything from a sweet brioche to rye bread on Sunday June 30th, while those seeking adventure in the kitchen can also try ”The Whole Hen” on July 21st which will teach students how to debone a chicken and cook it at least 5 different ways.
Students will also be able to perfect their hosting skills with a one-day workshop on how to plan, prepare and cook a four course meal to delight the tastebuds. The course, which will be held on June 2nd and July 7th, will also teach students how to pair food and wine and bake bread.
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La Boheme and Bodega, two of Waterford’s best know eateries, are now offering a year-round food trail with a view to promoting Waterford, its surrounds and local food producers.
The trail started last year during the Harvest Festival, running for two consecutive nights. As a sidebar to this, while I haven’t eaten in La Boheme, I almost had to be rolled out the door of Bodega during the festival last year, such was the feast of local food and craft beers that was consumed.
The food trail runs on Wednesday nights at 7pm, starting in La Boheme or Bodega on alternate Wednesdays. In your first restaurant, you’re server a trilogy of Mise en Bouche, a starter and a fish course. Shortly before 9pm, you’re accompanied staff from your first restaurant to your second restaurant, where you’ll enjoy a meat course, dessert, tea/coffee and petit fours.
In the mix are lamb rump, fillet of beef, seabass, monkfish, dessert tasting plates and more, the trail itself working out at €39.50 per person for a six course meal spread across the two restaurants. You pay for your meal in the starting restaurant on the night and the only payment in the second restaurant is if you’re picking up your own beers, wines etc.
That’s the easy part. Chance your arm turning up on a Wednesday evening or, given that some nights, particularly in the summer, may be busier than others, ring ahead and book a few in for the communal table.
It’s all about the best of locally sourced beef at the Cornstore Restaurant Group, the first restaurant group in Ireland to launch their own in-house dry aging beef process. This initiative involves an in-house dry aging unit, the importation of the world’s oldest and purest salt, and passionate chefs to monitor the tenderness.
Imported Himalayan salt is used to absorb humidity in the aging unit over a period of up to 35 days resulting in the most tender, flavoursome beef one is ever likely to taste. Beef lovers can expect to be spoilt for choice with specialised cuts, not readily available including Tomahawk steak, Cote du Boeuf, Chateaubriad (all to share), the Onglet or just that ever popular tender Sirloin steak. All cuts will be served with a selection of sauces, organic leaves from the Cornstore’s own garden located in Limerick and proper chips.
“Only higher grades of beef can be used in the process and we are fortunate to be able to source this beef within the grass rich Golden Vale”, says group restaurateur Padraic Frawley. “This financial investment proves that we are committed to growing our customer base both in Cork and Limerick. Our customers love their beef, now we’ve made it even better, offering the most tender steak around.”
To date this group has far from gone unnoticed by industry experts. Past accolades include Hotel and Catering Review Gold Medal Award ‘Best Casual Dining Ireland 2012’ (Cornstore Cork), Restaurant Association of Ireland ‘Best Restaurant in Limerick 2012 & 2013’ (Cornstore Limerick), ‘Best Kids Size Me in Munster 2013’(an award that recognises restaurants that ensure children have access to healthier food options) along with both restaurants being nominated as top five finalists at the 2012 Licensing World Bar Awards for ‘Best Cocktail Bar’.
And their latest investment is sure to create even more noise within industry as they strive to produce in-house the best beef around. Specialising in seafood and steak, the group works on the ethos of “quality food sourced locally” – sourcing ingredients from local suppliers where possible and inspecting off-site premises to ensure only the very best ingredients are used.
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