When I heard that Gerry White had launched a new gin in his native Belfast, I never doubted it would be a success. When Gerry does something, he “does it right”, and I knew he would have the support of the hospitality community in Northern Ireland of which he has been a key player for years.
When we hosted a recent seafood and seaweed weekend at Renvyle House in Connemara, two particular moments stood out during a brilliant weekend.
The first was a brand new creation by chef Tim O’Sullivan, who served Renvyle lamb rack with scallops and a carrageen dressing. Lamb and clams we know of, but the pairing of scallops with the lamb, and the brilliant carrageen dressing, was the sort of new concept that proves the truth of the ancient saying, that the discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a star.
Aisling Butler speaks food.
The chef in Cong’s pretty Hungry Monk Café speaks food volubly, speedily, devotedly, fluently.
Dublin has met Dingle in this little joint. Goat Street Social is possibly the most hipster eatery within the kingdom of Dingle.
Cleverly situated in an old-style building, there is an emphasis on everything being blue within its old-school ambience. Playful decor – ranging from funny faces drawn on milk cartons, to a reproduction of a Banksy in the more spacious light and airy upstairs section – creates a lightheartedness, and conspires to create a laid-back and contented atmosphere: most of the diners are smiling even before the food is served.
Jonathan Keane has arrived.
In truth, Mr Keane booked his ticket to the arrival venue years ago, when he first began to attract attention, as the chef in Westport’s Mill Race Hotel.
From there he moved to Lisloughrey Lodge, the Manor House of Ashford Castle, in Cong, County Mayo. When Ashford was bought over, they rechristened the house The Lodge, and Wilde’s Restaurant is the upstairs dining room.
His food was always ambitious, always striving, but in fact it was over-ambitious. That’s no problem: that's the sort of thing hungry young chefs do. They try too hard.
Quietly, steadily, surely, Anocht is arriving as a major dining destination in Kilkenny.
“Well, such promise”, wrote one friend after enjoying dinner upstairs in the old grain stors of the earl of Ormond’s stables. And Caroline Hennesssy, of McKennas’ Guides, picked Anocht in a list of a dozen places where she had a “memorable food experience” in 2016.
Switzerland hauled in a mere four pages in the capacious 4th edition of Hugh Johnson’s World Atlas of Wine, but Mr Johnson cannily noted that: “As a producer she is small but impeccable.” Well, take a sip of the Petit Arvine white wine made by John and Mike Favre, in the Chamoson area of Valais, and you will agree wholeheartedly with Hugh. This is an impeccably made wine, rich in both minerality and salinity, in particular the latter, which gives it an almost-chewy mouthfeel.
At the end of a quiet and barren Francis Street, seemingly lifeless on a cold Tuesday late morning, and just past the B.I.M.M College you immediately get drawn towards Two Pups, run by Kevin Douglas and Zoe Ewing.
There is a big problem with your lunch hour.
It lasts one hour.
Just imagine if you didn’t have to waste any of those 60 minutes. If the hour could be spent relaxing, eating, enjoying, planning, preparing for the rest of the day.
But, chances are, a whack of your hour is spent walking, queueing, deciding, ordering, waiting, paying.
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