In Leitrim’s Grassroots Café, you can take a Big Pink walk in the garden, or dive into a Rockpool. You can scoot to Tuscany courtesy of a white bean and vegetable soup, or you can do an Ottolenghi riff with a Med-crazed aubergine and cherry tomato tart with peaches and Velvet Cloud yogurt.
Hang on: we aren’t done yet. Let’s fuse Asia and the Caribbean with a molasses tart with wasabi and maple ice cream, or get all Midlands with 16-hour braised beef with Meadbh Rua jus. And let’s close with the elegant modernism of polenta cake with strawberry and pink peppercorn sorbet.
All this takes place in a wooden hut with a grass roof, and linoleum tablecloths.
That’s right: the Grassroots Café is mind-blowing. You don’t expect to find cooking like this. And you don’t expect it to be so fluent, so precise, so and cultured.
The wisdom and culture is thanks to Aisling Stone, the chef, who formerly ran a food van called Homecooked. Ms Stone seems able to cook anything, and to cook it right, whether it’s Lebanese-style aubergine, swordfish with basil linguine, or a perfect salade Niçoise. What is apparent in her food is someone with a massive appetite for the culture of cooking, and a huge love of the kitchen. This cooking is so exuberant with colour, with energy, with nuance and flavour that it makes your heart sing.
You would travel a mighty distance to enjoy cooking that is so energised and so elemental, so do yourself a favour and save yourself a lot of money: don’t bother with that trip to Noma that you’ve been thinking about. Just get in the car and get to Rossinver. You won’t regret it.
Grassroots Café, The Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co Leitrim 071 985 4338 Facebook