Welcome to October's Megabites, which travels between two of the country's finest hotels, unearths a cultural and culinary jewel in County Clare, and which also brings some serious advice for 2018: if you want to get into some of the best places to stay in Ireland next year, you need to start making bookings now.
Perfection in restaurant cooking operates on a biblical time frame.
Every seven years or so, you have a meal in a restaurant where everything is perfect. You get the 10 out of 10, the perfect score, the Nadia Comaneci, the faultless parade of food, the peerless understanding of cooking.
Having had that perfect meal, thanks to Matt Strefford’s cooking in Moy House, just south of Lahinch in County Clare, I’m already looking forward to 2024.
We don’t know anyone who chines and grills a better lamb chop than Kevin O’Sullivan, the chef in the Samphire Restaurant, at the Garryvoe Hotel, facing Ballycotton Bay in east County Cork.
Grilling is an art form that eludes many Irish chefs. When you order grilled meats, you are looking to enjoy the char of the grill, and the tenderness of the marinading. The chops should be precisely trimmed, so that you can pick up the meat like a lollipop, and get all the lush goodness of that umami hit.
Matt Strefford cooks for the guests in Moy House (see photo and review on blog), so the only way to be absolutely certain of getting a table is to book a room, though if guests are eating elsewhere then non-residents can be accommodated.
There are many other distinguished destinations in Ireland where, in order to ensure that you get to stay when you want to, you need to be booked well in advance. Planning that 2018 trip? The time to make reservations is: Now!
Book Review: Alice Waters, Coming To My Senses (Hardie Grant Books)
Book review: The Gannet's Gastronomic Miscellany by Killian Fox (Mitchell Beazley) by Caroline Hennessy Put together by a group of London-based writers, photographers and filmmakers, The Gannet is an online magazine that believes, like Claudia Roden, that the best of stories are to be found in the kitchen.
The articles are a delicious meander through relaxed chats, interviewees' picks of local coffee spots, restaurants and shops, collections of loved food objects and favourite cookbooks.
Some food shops create a universe unto themselves. In Ennistymon, in County Clare, Sinead Ni Ghairbhith’s The Cheese Press is a self-contained world.
You might walk in here to buy some cheese, or to get a cup of the fine, locally roasted Anam coffee, and find that you are still there an hour later, maybe just chatting away to all and sundry, or maybe you decided to head down the stairs and found yourself joining a yoga class.
Cheese. Yoga. Coffee. The universe. It’s all here.
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