‘A crying baby, a long car drive, a smoky boozer... a meal I’ll never forget’

My most treasured food memory: Joe Macken, restaurateur

A wine pitstop on the way to Joe Macken’s most memorable meal: a family feast in Galicia

A wine pitstop on the way to Joe Macken’s most memorable meal: a family feast in Galicia

 

Throughout Food Month people will share with us their most treasured food memory. You can share yours at magazine@irishtimes.com

Last year we as a family went with Kitty, my new goddaughter, to Galicia in Spain. We were in one of the remotest parts, on a little finger streaking out into the Atlantic. It’s very like the west of Ireland in some ways.

Before we left, wine guru Shane Murphy from Findlater recommend we try the Rubia Gallega beef – it’s a treat worth searching out. I did so, and found Restaurante la Molinera, in Lalin.

A long car journey in terrible weather across a mountain with a crying baby ensued. Then finally, we arrived in a sleepy town and walked into a smoky, dirty brown wood boozer. I’d dragged everyone here and now it was going to be a disaster.

I asked the barman about the restaurant and to our surprise he pulled back a panel to reveal a linen-laid restaurant – with a few suits finishing their lunch. We had the place to ourselves otherwise.

What followed was a meal that is a treasure to remember – fresh squid, local tuna, peppers “padron di ponterverda”, tomatoes from their garden, and the reason we drove there, the Rubia Gallega. It was a 16-year-old “chuletón”, or T-bone, of dairy beef aged and cooked to perfection.

The whole meal, prepared and served by a brother and sister, was something special that they shared with us. Their parents owned the farm that reared the Rubia. It was a perfect pinnacle to a family holiday.

A shared meal is always the best of meals. That’s the inspiration behind Hey Donna – my new all-day canteen in Rathmines, which serves food inspired by the flavours of the Mediterranean, the Moors and the Middle East.

Joe Macken is the driving force behind Jo’Burger (Castlemarket and Smithfield), Crackbird (South William Street) and Skinflint (Dame Street). He recently opened Hey Donna in Rathmines.

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