Artisan meal at Brioche in Ranelagh
Customers of Gavin McDonagh's Brioche restaurant in Ranelagh are accustomed to the tasting plates, grazing nature of his menu of modern French dishes made with Irish ingredients. This buckwheat crepe with creamed leeks, avocado, air-dried tomato and tomato coulis, was a summer hit and typical of his light touch.
He's offering a set menu next Thursday, October 2nd, when he hosts a celebration of Irish artisan produce with five-courses for €45. The first course focuses on cured and smoked mackerel. The second is described as a Wild Atlantic Way tasting plate and will feature oyster, herring, Liscannor crab, Shanagarry smoked salmon and samphire. Thornhill duck and John Stone beef are the meat courses – the duck as a rillette of leg and the beef in a slow braised daube. Sheep's milk panna cotta and raspberry sorbet is the dessert course. Bookings are being taken at brioche.ie or tel: 01-497 9163.
Afternoon tea for two at Tankardstown House
A tea shop in a former milking parlour is the latest addition to the offering at Tankardstown House near Slane, Co Meath, where chef Robbie Krawczyk runs the kitchen at the estate's Brabazon restaurant.
The Tea Garden is a more informal offering, with teas from Slane's Lily's Tea Shop, Nespresso coffee and cakes from Slane Bake. Light lunches are also served and there's a full afternoon tea which is a very reasonable €30 for two (and €40 with sparkling wine) – canine company optional. It's open noon to 5pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. See tankardstown.ie
Plenty more inspiration from Ottolenghi
The humble cauliflower, which is turning up in the most unexpected places these days – as a pizza base, or masquerading as couscous – is one of the star ingredients in the new Yotam Ottolenghi book, Plenty More (Ebury, £27). Cauliflower cake (above) is Ottolenghi's take on cauliflower cheese, but of course, it's much more exotic – a sort of souffle/quiche without the pastry. Wine writer John Wilson has cooked it and says: "It was every bit as good as it looked. Lovely crispy Parmesan crust on top and down the sides. Almost as good cold for lunch the next day, too."
One for the store cupboard
Although I keep a stock of the excellent dried spice blends from Green Saffron, sometimes I find I am without the other things needed to complete the dish, so these ready-to-use sauces are a good standby. I’ve had the Mild Creamy One and the Medium Tomotoey One, and they’re so pungent and flavoursome I’ve shied away from giving the Hot Hot Hot One (pictured) a go, so far. They are in selected
stores and online at greensaffrom.com (rrp €2.99).
Green Saffron's Arun Kapil publishes his first cookery book, Fresh Spice, next month and it's a stunner, with an endorsesment from Madhur Jaffrey. "Dozens of dishes cry out to be made and eaten immediately, such as the Roast Herbed Salmon with Cardamom Sauce, which I made as soon as I came across it," says Jaffrey, who cooked several dishes from the book before giving it her imprimatur.
Tesco says cheese
Barra McFeely's summer job with Milleens cheeesemakers Veronica and Norman Steel influenced him to such an extent that he undertook a Masters in cheese making. Now, with experience of making cheese in 12 countries, he is Tesco Ireland's in-house expert and he has teamed up with the chain's beer and cider advisor Des McCann to offer cheese and craft beer and cider pairings. Until October 12th you can pick up three cheeses for €10 and four beers or ciders for €9. The pair's suggested cheese and drink pairings are in the shop's Fresh Value leaflet.