This is the first in a little mini-series about kitchen mechanics. The machines we use, their function, and just how much we have come to rely on them. From Water baths and Thermomixes to Blow torches and Vac Pacs i’ll have an insight into their inner workings and the benefits they bring to a professional kitchen.
47 Patrick Street in Waterford has seen quite a few restaurant iterations over the past three years, and it’s a challenge for any restaurateur to take over a space occupied previously by someone who was doing completely different food to what you might have in mind.
I almost made the mistake of leaving Momo on the long finger, waiting to see would it last, but when I heard encouraging noises from a few different sources I decided it was time to pay a visit.
Street food and pop ups are right where it's at at the moment and Lizzy’s Little Kitchen Pop Up, on the Main Street in Ballybunion, County Kerry has successfully melded the two, creating the latest jewel in the Kingdom.
Fingal Ferguson of the Gubbeen Smokehouse, near Schull in West Cork, has encountered the perennial problem of not being able to source enough high quality pork to meet the ever-growing demand for his range of bacon, sausages and charcuterie. Gubbeen Farm itself is limited in the number of animals they can rear, and the opening of their expanded smokehouse has made it necessary to buy in pork from other local farmers.
There is a service, often overlooked but massively important, which the hospitality industry provide to food producers.
Let's call it the April Bloomfield Imprimatur.
What is it? It's the discipline of a good kitchen to focus intently on the best way of... cutting up a stalk of celery. Or a carrot. Or a piece of lamb.
We call it The Blink Moment. It's that mili-second when you walk into a place and the immediate reaction of the staff determines whether you will stay or leave, whether you will have a good time, or not.
In Stonecutter's Kitchen, on the hill above Doolin village in west County Clare, they have The Blink Moment down to a fine art. They need to, because this is a busy restaurant and so, when people turn up and walk in, the chances are there won't be a vacant table.
Kilshanny House is a peach. It's everyone's idealised version of the Irish country pub, a place where everything gleams, where the courtesy and welcome are real and true, where the cooking is smart and shows its capable way around local artisan ingredients. You step in the door, take a look, and you've found a little bit of heaven,
Paul Hynes is a journeyman. Stints at L’Ecrivain, La Dolce Vita, Horetown House and Step House in Borris – with stages in Arbutus and Tom Aikens in London thrown in for good measure - have led him back to Wexford Town to take charge of his own restaurant on Custom Quay. La Côte is a lovely low-key room which looks out to the town’s fleet of mussel trawlers moored along the quayside. The look is rustic and appropriately nautical and, like every Wexford restaurant I’ve ever eaten in, service is exceptionally friendly.
Montys of Kathmandu has become a Dublin institution since it was opened by Shiva Gautam and his wife Lina in 1997. It seemed to take just months before it felt like it had always been there.
The cuisine of Nepal is closely related to Northern India but there are also Chinese and Tibetan influences with lots of stir fry, Sichuan peppers and even soy sauce. Flavours are cleaner and fresher than in most of India and spicier than in China, but it is the lightness of touch in the Monty’s cooking that I think I like most.