Funny how things work out.
Back in 2013, when he was putting the whumpf! into the food that made Fade Street Social the hottest ticket in town, Karl Whelan told The Irish Times that, whenever he got his own name over the door, it would be “a barbecue and blues joint”, a reflection of the fact that he is a major music head, and loves the heritage cooking of the American South.
Between 2013, and today, Mr Whelan moved on to Luna, where he put the whumpf! into the food that made John Farrell’s restaurant the talk of 2015.
Funny how things work out.
Thinking back over a year of eating and drinking for a living to pick out the best bits is a daunting task, so I'll try to keep this short and free from excessive hubris!
Best meal of the year was at Heron and Grey where the balance of flavours and focused ingredient combinations left me almost breathless. Andrew Heron's wine list is in perfect harmony with Damian Grey's food and, if you are lucky enough to get a booking in 2017, do listen to Andrew's advice.
Harvest Food Festival, Waterford City, September.
The past twelve months have seen me change career twice, and cover fewer miles than years previous, but the quality of hospitality I enjoyed just keeps improving as Ireland hits its stride once again.
Food highlights of 2016
Alcohol, and plenty of it, seems to be the only answer to the year that we've just put down. Thankfully, 2016 was the year when the quality and variety of Irish-produced beers, ciders and spirits reached a real tipping point, moving from the devoted fringes into a newly clued-in mainstream.
You know that your favourite Irish craft brewer really loves you when they produce a special brew for the season that is in it. Here are some seasonal standouts that should be there beside the big bird on the Xmas table.
Dandelion & Quince
Masterpieces are very, very difficult to make. Happily, however, they are very, very easy to spot. You only need to read a few sentences of Dandelion & Quince, by Michelle McKenzie, to spot that you have a masterpiece in your hands. It’s a work of culinary poetry, rapturous and enraptured. It’s actually thrilling, and who the hell ever heard of a book of recipes being thrilling.
Dandelion and Quince by Michelle McKenzie, published by Roost Books
Ballymaloe Country Relish
A trio of Irish handmade cheeses – Cooleeney, Cashel Blue and Horgan’s vintage cheddar – paired with Ballymaloe relishes and Sheridan’s brown bread crackers is a dote of a food gift and, at just under €20, it’s a steal.
Little Island, Co Cork More Information
Laura and Mark Brown have achieved the unimaginable in offering an artisan cheese selection box (pictured here) composed entirely of artisan cheeses from Northern Ireland. This would have been unthinkable even a couple of years ago, so it's a really special gift. The cheeses, Kearney Blue, Young Buck, Fivemiletown Cheddar and Dart Mountain Dusk come with biscuits and Northern Ireland chutney. The absolute cutting edge gift of the season.
The G Hotel
Time does not diminsh the glam of The G, and every time you walk through the doors you feel a million dollars. So, plonk yourself down in that Andy Warhol chair, order a snipe of bubbly, and get the gossip going in Galway’s ultimate getaway.
Wellpark, Galway City, Co Galway More Details
Megabites Blog Sign Up
Sign up for our Megabites Newsletter, a blog which brings you all the latest contemporary news of the best food and food people in Ireland, including all that’s new on the Wild Atlantic Way.