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.

1 comment:

  1. This would have to be a very special birthday to justify €130 each for dinner and wines. All looks beautiful on the slate platters. Another for the list!