Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's here.....

Lots of happy dancing here today ....

Look what arrived by courier this morning ...

Cannot wait to use it!
So why am I on the net then....... ??? Cos I had to tell the world about my new arrival! Insert proud new kitchen appliance Momma moment here!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dining out in November

November saw a nice bit of dining out for me, first off myself and 4 of the lovely ladies I work with took ourselves off to The Old Convent in Clogheen for a night of fine dining, chat and craic.

Here's "the Girls" Kate, Mary, Phil & Sheila.

Dermot's food as usual was superlative and I was so glad that the girls enjoyed it as it was their first visit to The Old Convent. I adored the the course that started our meal - Ummera Smoked Duck Breast with Parmesan toast, and High Bank Orchard Apple Syrup. (So much so that I tracked down said syrup once I got home, managed to get it at the local farmer's market here in Tralee. Superb stuff!) The ladies and I are planning our return visit for 2012!

 Dermot's second dessert - chocolate heaven!




Then Billy and I went to the Tom Doorley event at The Brehon in Killarney, a lovely night where we were regaled with some fun and informative wine related anecdotes by Tom, while sampling the lovely food offered by Danú restaurant at The Brehon. The main was lovely lamb wellington, with roasted shallot, potato fondant, broad beans and a wine jus.
The night was unbelievable value at €45 per person and that included an amuse bouche, a starter, a veloute, the mains, a goats cheese panacotta and then a deliciously chocolately dessert and petit fours and tea/coffee and 3 very generous glasses of wine and a glass of port.Amazing value!

The following night we were off to Killarney again, this time to Treyvaud's restaurant for their annual game night, we were looking forward to this and trying a few new tastes. The Santa-esque gent here in Mr Treyvaud Senior who comes out of retirement for this event every year. The buffet table was laden down with all types of terrines, pates, sausages, salamis, salads etc, and it was from this we helped ourselves to the starter.
Then we had a Wild game consomme.
From the menu for mains Billy chose Roast Breast of Pigeon and I went with the Pheasant, loved my pheasant, Billy's pigeon I could live without but he ate it happily.
The meal ended with Xmas pud with a divine Brandy sauce.
The cost of this was a very reasonable €50 per person.
I saw somewhere that they also do a seafood night, will be checking that out in 2012!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Parmesan Tartlets with Red Onion Marmalade


These little tartlets are lovely as a starter or a light lunch and the accompanying red onion marmalade is gorgeous and keeps for a couple of weeks in the fridge. It would make a great addition to a hamper of homemade goodies for Christmas.

The original recipe is by Jenny Bristow and appeared in the Irish Independent supplement Weekend one Saturday and was promptly torn out and has been used many times

Here's what you'll need: This makes 6 tartlets.

For the pastry
225g flour, sieved
125g butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
2-3 dessert spoons cold water

For the filling
25g butter
½ small onion, finely sliced
Small bunch watercress, lightly steamed - Now I do find it difficult to get watercress but I get mixed salad bags that have watercress, baby spinach and rocket in them and I use that mix.
3 eggs, lightly beaten
275ml double cream
110g Parmesan
½ tsp paprika

Red onion marmalade
25g butter
2 red onions, finely sliced
3-4 dessertspoons water
4 dessertspoons red-wine vinegar
50g soft brown sugar
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Here's what you'll need to do:
Preheat oven to 170 degrees fan/190 degrees regular oven.

Place the ingredients for the tartlets in a food processor and whiz until they bind together to form a soft dough or you can do it by hand - rub the butter into the pastry till it resembles breadcrumbs, add in the egg and a little of the water so that a dough forms.. Roll out the pastry, then, using a pastry cutter, cut it into six rounds of approximately 5in in diameter. This of course depends on your tartlet tins size, so you're as well to put your tin down and cut around giving it about an inch extra all round.

Line individual, lightly greased moulds or tins with the pastry and lightly prick each base with a fork. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for 15-30 minutes.

Remove from the fridge and cover with a layer of greaseproof paper and a layer of ceramic baking beans to prevent the pastry cases rising in the centre. Bake in the oven at 190°C/Gas Mark 5 for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the baking beans and the paper and set to one side to cool.

Tip: If you haven't got baking beans you can always use some rice, lentils or dried beans in their stead. When you're done pop them into a clean jar and keep them for further use in blind baking.

For the filling, melt the butter in a small pan. Add the onion and cook lightly for one minute. Add the watercress and remove the pan from the heat. Leave to cool.

Beat together the eggs and cream, then mix in the Parmesan, paprika, onion and watercress. Pour the mixture into the pastry shells and bake in the oven at 160° fan/180° regular for approximately 25 minutes until the tarts are golden and firm to the touch.

Meanwhile, make the red onion marmalade.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onions, water, vinegar and sugar. Cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reduced and the onions have softened. Season to taste and set to one side to cool slightly.
Remove the tartlets from the moulds.
Serve warm or cold, with a little red onion marmalade.

In other news I am anxiously waiting on the delivery of my new baby - this fabby kitchenaid - should have it this week and I can't wait! It's colour is Boysenberry and ain't it so CUTE!!!


AND.... I won,( hip hip! Jump up and down excitedly!!!) a lovely slate cheeseboard and knife from Slated Ireland courtesy of the lovely Mona Wise's blog giveaway. Mona's blog is great, I've laughed and cried in equal measure while reading it, always a sign of a good story that it will invoke emotions like these.Mona is in the process of writing a book which will be out next year, there will be stories from Mona, recipes from her chef husband and I'm sure a few pics of their delightful children. Mona has the right philosophy - "she writes, he cooks and they all eat it"!
Many thanks to Mona & Slated!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Chocolate Truffles


These babies are seriously divine, they're easy to make, you don't need to scour the shops for any special ingredients or equipment (which is the absolute bane of my cooking life!!!), they look impressive to serve up to your friends and family after a meal or to give as a gift wrapped in some simple cellophane and tied with a pretty ribbon or a nice little box lined with tissue paper or a pretty paper napkin.

Ok there has to be bad news, per truffle we're talking serious calories and for anyone doing Weightwatchers (like moi) they work out at 3 whole propoints each - eek!!! Nonetheless .....they are worth it!! Hehe!!!

A tip : The ones coated in cocoa powder wold be very slightly less calorific than the vermicelli coated truffles!

The following recipe makes about 21 truffles, yes, yes I am painfully aware there are 18 on the plate in the picture above - I gave himself ONE and shur I had to make sure they tasted okay myself! If one didn't taste the mixture as it was cooling etc one might have got 24 truffles

Here's what you'll need:

120mls cream
30g icing sugar
100g Dark chocolate 70% cocoa solids broken into small pieces
50g Milk chocolate, broken into small pieces
25g butter
30 mls Baileys Irish Cream or other liqueur of your choice (Tia Maria, Creme de Menthe, Cherry Brandy, Malibu, whatever floats your boat!)
Chocolate vermicelli and cocoa powder for rolling the finished truffles in.

Re the chocolate - I do a mix of dark and milk chocolate, but if you prefer use all dark, 'tis up to you!

Here's what you'll need to do:

Put the cream and icing sugar in a saucepan and gently heat, do not let it come to a boil!
Take off the heat.
Put the chocolates in a bowl, pour the hot cream/icing sugar mix over it.
Stir well until the chocolate is melted.
Add the Baileys or liqueur of choice, stir well.

Cover and put in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours until set.

Use a teaspoon scoop out amounts of the mixture similar in size to a Ferrero Rocher, roll into balls with your hands.

A tip: Try to have your hands cold for this part and the kitchen ideally wouldn't be meltingly warm either!

Have a couple of plates ready with chocolate vermicelli and cocoa powder and roll the truffles in these as desired.

If liked you could dip them in some melted and cooled chocolate instead.

These will keep in a container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Next time I'm going to try some White Chocolate and Limoncello Truffles so watch this space!


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jack McCarthy's Rose veal chops

Jack McCarthy - Ireland's finest artisan butcher - put the call out last week on Twitter that he had ten month old rose veal in stock. We were mega excited! Jack and his son Tim have a fine butcher's shop in Kanturk, Co Cork, with not just the usual fare but also their award winning puddings and sausages.

We have eaten veal many times but never actually cooked it ourselves, mainly because we could never source it. So after work last Friday I headed to Kanturk and as well as the fabulous Rose veal I came home with black puddings, white puddings, nitrate free rashers, air dried pork, Ardrahan cheese & smoky bacon sausages and Apple & Pork sausages. We'll be well fed for a good while!

The dish that was planned for Saturday night was ditched in favour of the veal, cookery books were scoured and it was between a Gordon Ramsay recipe and one we found online by Matt Tebbutt, the fennel in the latter one swung it for us as it's one of our favourite veg.

Here's what you'll need:

2 Rose veal chops
Olive oil for frying
2 cloves garlic crushed
White wine

For the fennel gratin:
2 fennel, cut into batons, green fronds finely chopped
A knob of butter, plus extra for greasing
300 ml double cream
1 cloves garlic, crushed
70 g emmental cheese, grated

For the crispy onions
½ onion, finely sliced
Milk, for soaking
Cornflour, for coating
Vegetable oil, for frying

Here's what you'll need to do:

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. For the fennel gratin: bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the fennel batons and blanch for 1 minute.
Drain immediately and, while still warm, toss the batons with a knob of butter and the finely chopped fennel fronds. (If your fennel had no tops, you can use finely chopped dill instead.)
Transfer the fennel to a buttered ovenproof dish. 
Put the cream into a medium saucepan with the garlic, bring it to a simmer, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.
Pour the cream over the fennel, top with the grated cheese and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden and bubbling. While the gratin is cooking, prepare the veal chops.

Season the veal chops with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a little olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan until hot and cook the chops until golden and brown on each side.

When the veal is almost cooked, add the garlic and a splash of wine and stir to deglaze the pan. Add a good knob of butter, spoon this over the chops, then remove the pan from the heat and leave to rest, covered with foil, in a warm place for about 10 minutes.

For the crispy onions cover the sliced onions with milk and leave to soak for 10 minutes to remove some of the strong flavour.
Drain and pat dry, discarding the milk.
Season a little cornflour with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Dip the onion rings in the seasoned cornflour and shallow fry in hot oil until nice and crispy. Drain on kitchen paper.

To serve, put the veal chops on plates and drizzle with the pan juices. Accompany with the fennel gratin and crispy onions.

We made some very chunky chips to go with the dish. It was lip smacking gorgeous - the veal was juicy, tender and tasty, scrummy!


And we teamed it with this wine which was quite nice, not too heavy with the Rose veal. And best of all we have 2 chops in the freezer so Gordon's recipe will get an airing one of these days!



More of Jack McCarthy's produce graced the table for Sunday's brunch along with great brown bread also from Kanturk (Philpott's) and all teamed with eggs from my brother's farm in Portmagee. The nitrate free rashers are great, just like rashers used to taste when I was a child! ( I was going to say in the old days but we won't go there!!!)




Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lamb Sausages with Lentils and Braised Pears

I'm afraid after the last few posts showing the gorgeousness of the food we consumed for our birthday feasting ye're now going to be left with my food for a while.

We headed to Limerick's Milk Market last Saturday as we'd heard great things about it. We got some gorgeous nosh - basil Gouda cheese, Parmesan, Brie- these from The Flying Cheese Brigade, squid and undyed smoked haddock from O'Driscoll bros, lamb sausages from Castlegregory's Wild Side, great bread, corn on the cob, chocolate and fudge - FEAST! Oh and some great plants for the winter window boxes too.

We decided on doing something with the lamb sausages the other evening and thank goodness for Google - a recipe was found here. It was for 6 so I tweaked it for just the 2 of us. I never used to use recipes with cups till the last couple of years when I got a set of cup measurements in Tescos I think and shur it's easy peasy since to  do any recipe.

Lamb sausages are also known as Merguez sausages and very popular in North African cuisine which probably explains the harissa flavouring in them.



Lamb sausages with lentils and Braised Pears

Here's what you'll need - this is a generous serving for 2, so generous that Billy had leftovers for his lunch box the following day.
As ye can see I'm getting good at this blogging craic - a pic of the ingredients!
(We attended a cookery demo at the Dingle Food fest hosted by Mark Murphy and one of his suggestions was to get all the ingredients for a dish out and prepped and put in suitable containers, great tip - seems like a wee bit of bother to start but really keeps me tidy.)



1 cups brown lentils 
2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 carrots, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 celery rib, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 roasted red peppers  cut into thin strips (As I love roasted red pepper I might do two the next time)
5 or 6 lamb sausages - 2 is loads per person 
1 ripe Bartlett pears, cored and cut into eighths



Here's what you'll need to do:

In a large heatproof bowl, cover the lentils with the boiling water and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain.

In a large saucepan, heat half of the olive oil.

Add the diced carrots, onion and celery and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.

Add the lentils and about a cup of water and season with salt and pepper.

Cover and cook over low heat until the lentils are just tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir in a tablespoon olive oil, the cider vinegar and the roasted red peppers and season with salt and pepper. Divide lentil mixture between hot plates and keep warm.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan. Add the lamb sausages and cook over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes.

Arrange the sausages around the lentils and pour over any accumulated juices.


Return the pan to high heat. Add the pears and cook, turning once, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

Serve up and enjoy!



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Birthday Feast Part 3 Cliff House Hotel

After our beautiful breakfast we headed for Villierstown, Co Waterford as Christine at The Old Convent had told us about the Hindu/Gothic gate lodge built there in the mid 1800's to commemorate the wedding of the owner of Dromana House.

We arrived early afternoon (Sat 22nd Oct) at Cliff House Hotel as the rain was pouring down. Check in was quick and efficient and a very friendly chap showed us to our room and explained the layout of the hotel etc. We had a lovely room (25) with heathery shades, fab bathroom and a wet terrace with a panoramic view of the Waterford coastline.
 Luckily the weather cleared up so we headed on the cliff walk and how amazing is that - talk about a potted history of Ireland! We passed a shipwreck, The Sampson which got wrecked in 1987, the Old Coastguard station, A lookout post, Fr O'Donnell's well. We passed fields planted with parsnips, carrots, potatoes and beet - the smell of parsnips in abundance is amazing. We then came to the graveyard which has the 12th century Round Tower, the remains of an ancient church with really well preserved carvings on the wall, a sailor's grave from 1947 where 11 of the crew of the SS Ary are buried.

Trust Billy to have got the one pair of wellies in the hotel that were leaking! Lmao! So at that stage we headed back to the hotel.
We spent a while enjoying the beautiful pool, outdoor hot tub, sauna and steam room and by this time we had a fine appetite built up for dinner having had ZILCH since breakfast. Cliff House's chef is Dutch man  Martijn Kajuiter and they hold Munster's only Michelin Star.

Polished ourselves up a bit and headed to the bar for a pre-dinner cocktail - I had a beautiful Green Apple Martini - €12. Once again we were having the tasting menu with paired wines - €85per person for the dinner and €40pp for the wines. I was quite happy to see the menu had the wine pairing written underneath the food on the menu, it's impossible to remember what wine one had otherwise.

As I have already said in earlier posts I do not have adequate words to describe the intensity of the flavours, the food pairings, the art on a plate so if you have the opportunity go there for yourself and let your taste buds and your eyes be amazed by the plates you will be presented with. 

On the table when we sat down was a little pack of crisps, delicious salty slightly greasy crisps - Mr Tayto eat your heart out boy!


We were then given an amuse bouche - the thing of beauty on the right of the picture is a beetroot meringue-ey type thing with goat's cheese, so melt on the tongue. Save us all from old age but neither me nor himself can for the life of us remember what the yoke in the glass was! There were hazelnuts sprinkled on top and it tasted delicious, ok!


Edited 2/11/11 - This morning thanks to Twitter, where my inner foodie is realeased with a passion, Martijn, the genius chef at Cliff House told me what was in the glass - Thank you Martijn !

Kajuiter
Whipped and Peppered Glenilen Yoghurt, Ardmore Carrots Jelly - crunch of dehydrated Yoghurt,Hazelnut and Blue berry Blossoms..

 
The breads were presented on a small slate plate, a sea salt brioche and a soda type bread with a slab of butter made at the Cliff House.


Next up what was described on the menu as The Cliff House "Snacks" -
These were paired with Pinot Blanc "Vieille Vigne", Meyer-Fonne, Alsace, France, 2008.

In this picture we have West Cork Scallop/Garden Spinach/Samphire.


Baby potato/Glenilen Yoghurt/Irish Caviar -


Quail egg "-20*C Cured/Squash/Veal/Hazelnut


Foie Gras/Red Cabbage Textures/Celeriac


Next - Bantry bay Organic Salmon/ Garden Beetroot/Cucumber/Oak Smoke.
This is presented under a glass dome which when lifted there's a rush of smoke out and the smell lingers on whilst eating.
The complementing wine was Marsanne, Chateau Tabhilk, Nagambie Lakes, Victoria, Australia 2008.
I'm not sure what was in those pink pearly things, see 3o'clock position on plate but they tasted so salmony.
Ya ok I know, my food descriptive writing skills are shite!

 

Then onto Helvick Cod/Irish Abalone/Garden leeks/Sea vegetable
It was good believe me - must've been - I forgot to take a pic!
It was paired with an Austrian wine 2010, Gruner Veltliner "von den Terrasen" Sepp Moser, Kremstal.

McGrath's Black Angus Beef followed with Garden vegetables/Bone Marrow/Beef Tea 2011.
There is a bit of a production with the beef tea which we enjoyed, the waitress brought a cafetiere with herbs - rosemary, thyme, parsley and garlic. She then poured the contents of a tea pot, a rich beef jus into the cafetiere, it infuses for a few minutes to give a rich flavoursome "gravy".
The teamed wine was Seleccion Especial, Albadia Retuerta, Ribera del Duero, Spain 2008.
Next we got a fennel sorbet as a pre-dessert


Next onto the first of two desserts and numero uno came to us like this - a pizza box arrived at the table!



Inside was this deliciousness - Apple Discovery the menu reads with Cranberry/Apricot/Tonka Bean/Lemon/Hibiscus


And finally in excess of 3 hours after we sat down Dark Chocolate 70% - White Coffee Ice Cream/Olive Oil/Sea Salt
The accompanying wine was Rivesaltes Ambre, Domaine Cazes, Roussillon, France 1999


So the following morning we had a delicious breakfast - the ubiquitous full Irish for Billy, kippers with herb butter for me and we headed on the road home. I have to say the three nights of fine dining were magnificent, 3 very different places to stay and all offering and showcasing the very best of Irish food,

 BEST BIRTHDAYS EVER!!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Birthday Feast Part 2 - The Old Convent

Birthday Feasting Part 2 was scheduled for The Old Convent in Clogheen, Co Tipperary -We left Gregan's Castle and headed for Cahir where we stopped off and wandered around the fantastic well preserved 13th century Cahir castle - well worth a visit if you're in the area and only €3 each for the entry. 

We had stayed in The Old Convent before in June and we absolutely loved it - the warmth of the welcome, the comfort of the rooms, the dinner, the breakfast, the lovely drawing room, the many books strewn around, and the food :-) Dermot and Christine are exceptional, Dermot is a magnificent chef and Christine does front of house with a charm that is really unequalled in any place I've ever stayed, and next year they will be joined by baby Gannon! Congrats to them!
This time we had room 3 which is compact but oh so cute with a raised seated area, the most comfortable of beds, warm snuggly duvet and great pillows - I have truly turned into my mother judging a place by the quality of their pillow - she actually used to take her own pillow with her when she went anywhere - no need for that in The Old Convent! A beautiful touch was the vase of coral roses in the window.
Down to the drawing room with us just after 7.30p.m. where we enjoyed a glass of Prosecco for me and a Tempranillio for himself, and we got a bottle of each to accompany the dinner,  it was our birthdays after all ya know!!! (Excuses, excuses....) - €36 and €24 respectively, wouldn't it be great if those were our ages instead of the wine prices ;-)

Dermot's 8 course tasting menu is €65 per person and finished off with tea or coffee.

We began with Baked Dunmore East Crab with Glenelin Creme Fraiche and a couple of brioche soldiers, beautifully served in an egg shell and ( insert rolly eyes here) your intrepid food reporter - 'tis good to dream dear reader!!!! - forgot to take a photo till the plate was almost cleaned! Not much point taking a pic of an empty egg shell!

Next up was30 hour slow roast Ballinwilliam Rare Breed Pork with polenta, Crozier Blue, baby pear and candied pecans - utterly delicious, loved the micro red shiso. Billy, being Billy!, enquired as to what breed of pork we were eating, the lovely young girl serving us went off and promptly came back to tell us it was a Wild Boar and Tamworth cross.



This was followed by a Aubergine veloute with truffle oil served in a pretty purple espresso cup. Took a pic but it turned out crap!

Then we had Buttermilk Connemara Smokehouse Organic salmon with handmade potato gnocchi, sunchoke and Saffron cream. Scrummy!


Green Apple Sorbet with Traas farm strawberry apple jelly was then enjoyed, forgot to take a pic - bold me!

Mains was maple & Mint Braised Mountain Lamb with creamy white cocoa beans and autumn veggies.


Then Lemon Posset with blueberries and a warm ginger meringue. We actually had this also in June sans blueberries and it's delightful, LOVE the ginger meringue. In fact made it ourselves one night here and twas just luverly ;-)




The last dessert of the night was a Valrhona Dark Chocolate Pot with white chocolate mousse, cherries and caramelised hazelnuts. Had a taste of all the elements in the interests of being able to report for this blog but forgot to take a pic, probably the Prosecco kicking in there!
We then spent an enjoyable hour in the Drawing Room chatting with a few of the other guests and Christine, and a fantastic night's sleep after that.
Breakfast at The Old Convent is without doubt in my opinion FANTASTIC!! Great juices - orange or blackberry and apple. A glass with yogurt, fresh fruit, to-die-for candied nuts and cherry syrup. A great basket of breads - a brown soda with caraway seeds and a polenta, goat's cheese and pine nut concoction that was great!
Billy had the full Irish - no shock there then! - and it is one of the best Irish breakfasts ever - no arguments! The one Billy had was supplemented with delicious herby mushrooms with white beans, I decided he'd be ill if he ate them so devoured his portion. The kind server brought out a little extra dish of them.
I went for the waffles with bananas, cinnamon and white chocolate mousse - oh sweet Jesus - talk about decadence at breakfast!
Absolutely wholeheartedly and unreservedly recommend The Old Convent - a gourmet hideaway in a beautiful part of the country.

And the very best part I'll be back here for dinner again in just over 2 weeks time with a few of my colleagues - looking forward to it!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Birthday feast Part 1 - Gregan's Castle.


So our much awaited birthday feast weekend started last Thursday and we headed off for Tarbert and took the ferry across to Killimer in Co.Clare, my first time being on the ferry and it's so handy and time saving, not that we were in any mad rush!

We meandered up along the coast of Clare with the sun shining down on us, ok, rain and fog! We arrived at Gregan's Castle Hotel  early afternoon and were shown to our room, loved the colour scheme, my kinda colours - shades of purple and green - No tea/coffee facilities in the bedroom but not a mad priority for us.  We decided on going to the Bird of Prey centre at the Alliwee caves and enjoyed the bird display and show despite the rain bucketing down!

Had a hot whiskey in the bar on our return, I must say I was tad dismayed to find the whisky poured into a non heated glass and NO lemon or cloves but it did the job and took the chill out of my bones! The genial manager/barman James is from Kanturk where I lived for 7 years.


Anyway it wasn't the hot whiskies I was here for so after a lil nap it was time to get ready for the highlight of our trip.

Gregan's castle have won tons of awards, the head chef is Mickael Viljanen. The man is a genius! Not only a genius and a chef but an artist. The food was phenomenal. I am not a food writer and don't have adequate words to describe the taste sensations and the fabulous flavours we enjoyed. In fact Billy laughed that for once words evaded me so caught up was I in the intensity of flavours.  The best I could come up with was that apples were so appley, salmon so salmony, cucumber so cucumbery - you get the drift!!! it was as if a single sliver of apple was imbued with the flavour of a thousand apples and the same for every other item on the plate - of which there were many!

We opted for the tasting menu with matching wines which was €130 each. When the dishes are presented by the very courteous servers they tell you what is on the plate and point each individual item out BUT I was so blown away by all in front of me that I didn't take on board half of it so I earwigged happily when other tables got served!

These were the canapes, From left to right - a scallop ceviche, a jellied smoked potato cube, a beetroot meringue with goats cheese and a pig's cheek croquette.
The paired wine was a sauvignon blanc and was the same for 2 courses.



Next up was the salmon plate, this featured salmom - doh! - and cucumber textures and a squid ink wafer.



Onto the foie gras - now this was my first time ever having foie gras as I'm a bit iffy about offaly things and the nature of foie gras production but in the spirit of the dining experience said I'd give it a bash - OMG I LOVED IT!!!!! The pic is crap though!
Our wine pairing with this was a Pedro Jiminez sherry which was also used as a gel on top of the foie gras. It was accompanied by apple in different textures, salted caramel, candied nuts and honeycomb. Did I say I LOVED it!!!!



Smoked Lobster and Sweetbreads, lobster is my favourist food ever! Never had sweetbreads before either - a wee bit of a wuss am I!  Paired with a Chablis.



Scallops next - MEGA! On the plate were salsify, herb stems, cauliflower textures, mushrooms. This was paired with a Sancerre.



The meat dish was venison, a disc of bone marrow on top (another first for me and yuk to that!) There was beetroot, parsnip and potato on this beautiful dish. The wine pairing was a Rioja.



The pre dessert was a coconut pannacotta with pineapple - saying of the day - "the pineapple is so pineappley!" With this came the first dessert wine.



Then along came a blackberry souffle with a blackberry sorbet, fresh blackberries and a blackberry sorbet. To offset the sweetness a jug of a citrus sauce was poured into the souffle and dessert wine number 2 really complemented it, not being over sweet but having a light citrussy note.



The meal finished with a blimming lovely selection of petit fours which I forgot to take a pic of, such was my food coma at this stage!

Billy then finished off with a cheese board and a port (extra to the tasting menu) - exceptional cheeses and delicious sesame crisps amd fig jam, the fig bread was just a bit cloying and heavy for my taste.



Left the diningroom two VERY happy campers.

Breakfast was delightful - a great buffet with cold meats, cheese, smoked salmon, fruits, cumin cheese from the Burren, cute little pots of yogurt with jam, prunes with cinnamon - nom nom nom!!!!!, apricots etc etc! Tea was proper leaf tea with strainers.

I knew from one of my food blogging friends Mona who stayed there lately that the eggs benedict were good and they were scrumptious! Billy went for the traditional Irish.

Totally enjoyed the foodie section of part one of our birthday break and the revelation that Foie gras is so divine!

Will we be back to Gregan's Castle - hell yeah!!!!

Part Two of our birthday weekend coming soon - The Old Convent.