Food File: The weekly food news round-up

Irish diners getting spicy; have the banter in Kinsale; competition for young chefs; food weekend on the shores of Lough Derg

 

Irish tastes heat up
“When we opened in 2003, roughly 75 per cent of guests ordered creamy and mild dishes, but this is steadily decreasing and there is a definite trend towards spicier dishes,” says restaurateur Nisheeth Tak of Rasam in Glasthule, Co Dublin.

He is explaining why heat levels have risen in some dishes on the new winter menu, launched this week. Lal Maas, a lamb curry which is one of chef Anubhav Srivastava’s signature dishes, has gone up several notches on the heat scale. “Because of demand for a hot lamb dish, we decided to introduce the same level of heat as in Rajasthan, so now we cook the round red chillies in yoghurt, and then drain and discard the yoghurt and also boil the Rajasthani dry red chillies, which, when mixed with black cardamom, coriander seeds and cloves, makes it fuller bodied and hotter.

“Teekha Murgh is a new dish from Hyderabad. At its base is a combination of spices traditionally used in making pickles (nigella seeds and fennel seeds), so again it is hot, but tomatoes balance this.”

Rasam’s kitchen also mixes and freshly grinds three garam masalas (mild, medium and hot), which you can buy in 20g packs for €3, and a special aromatic root powder (€4 ), with assorted roots and cardamom, to add at the end of cooking curries.

You can learn more about this complex cuisine in Rasam’s kitchen every second Monday of the month. The €50 fee includes demos of two starters, two main courses, one side dish, rice and breads, which are served with a glass of wine for an early dinner. See rasam.ie.

Euro-Toque young chefs
Philip Howard, chef and co-owner of two-Michelin-starred London restaurant The Square, is judging this year’s Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year 2014 final. The competition is open to Irish chefs aged 18 to 26 years, who compete to win a place in the culinary skills test in November. This year’s theme is “No Chef is an Island”. Enter at youngchef.ie, closing date is noon, September 30th. Howard, a finalist and subsequently a judge on BBC TV show Great British Menu, will host the winner for an expenses paid stage at his restaurant. Previous winners include Neven Maguire, in 1994.

Lakeside dinner
Salt of the Earth Food is a partnership between chef Johan van de Merwe and entrepreneur Larry O’Connor, specialising in catering events and restaurant pop-ups. Next month they are staging a weekend for food lovers at Coolbawn Quay resort on the shores of Lough Derg. Running from Friday night, October 3rd to Sunday, October 5th, the €179 per person sharing package includes two nights B&B, a welcome barbecue and six-course autumn feast served in a lakeside marquee. The feast menu will include girolles, beetroot, quince, and quail with pumpkin gnocchi and cavolo nero. You can attend the feast only for €65 per person. To book, email reservations@coolbawnquay.com, or tel: 067-28158.

Have the banter in Kinsale
Kinsale Arts Festival runs from September 19th-28th, and the Food & Words programme has lots to interest visitors whose artistic leanings veer towards physical as well as intellectual nourishment.

You’ll have to have your walking shoes on to keep up with journalist Jim Carroll as he brings his Banter talks to various venues around the town on the closing weekend, including a 45-minute session with Ballymaloe chef, tutor and author Rory O’Connell at 1pm on the 27th in The Lord Kinsale at 4, Main Street. For the full programme, see kinsaleartsfestival.com.

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