Saturday, 27 September 2008

that breakfast at Cafe Paradiso...

... is not for the faint-hearted. If you're the kind of person who can only face a cup of coffee first thing, look away now. Everyone else, please take a deep breath.

OK, first up, how about some porridge? With whiskey-soaked sultanas? And brown sugar? And lashings of fresh-as-a-daisy cream for that added cardiac-inducing effect? And more cream on the side? OK. You got it:

Cafe Paradiso porridge

Actually, I think the whole lot was whiskey soaked, never mind the sultanas. Oh, and for the record, that bowl was the size of King Kong's dinner plate. Heh, but I was on holiday, you know?

And precisely because I was on holiday, it seemed pointless to stop at the porridge. Surely I could manage a mere 'scrambled eggs with lovage on toasted sourdough with roasted tomato and potato hash'? I mean, I'd be a wimp to turn it down, right?


Cafe Paradiso scrambled eggs

To give you a sense of the dimensions involved, that plate was a foot long. The two pieces of sourdough were an inch thick. The potato hash was probably the tallest building in Cork.*

(*This might be a slight exaggeration. Then again, it might not.)

Still, remembering my duty to you all, I was undaunted. Undaunted, I tell you.

Those scrambled eggs were amongst the most delicious I've ever tasted. Just golden, rich-yolked eggs, butter, and a smattering of lovage leaves. The lovage - think of a taste somewhere between sage, celery, and parsley - was inspired. It cut through the richness of the egg with an earthy, faintly peppery and gently savoury note. Fabulous. If you've never had scrambled eggs with lovage before, make them this way FROM. NOW. ON.

Not that The Other Diner was missing a trick, either. No, this is what was being swiftly devoured and oohed and aahed over across the other side of the table...

Cafe Paradiso oyster mushrooms

... 'pan-fried oyster mushrooms with chives and soured cream, grilled bread and rosemary aioli', no less. I must admit, I nicked the odd mushroom here and there. And they were very, very good indeed. I would have nicked more, but I wanted to live to see the rest of my holiday. The Other Diner can be vicious when provoked.

The great thing about these breakfasts is that you really don't need to eat anything more until the evening. Except you do, because this is Ireland. But more of that in another post.

I have to say, I was a little less gung-ho the next morning. Instead of the full-blown breakfast, I managed a few oatcakes, Knockalara cheese, gooseberry chutney and rocket and tomato salad. I don't know why I didn't photograph them for you, because it was just the most gorgeous, zingy plate of yummy stuff. I think it's something to do with being mesmerised by The Other Diner's considerably more valiant effort at demolishing this:

Cafe Paradiso poached eggs 1

... 'poached eggs with spinach on toasted sourdough* with warm cherry tomato and avocado salsa' (*opted for in place of the poppyseed bagel. We absolutely fell in love with the sourdough over there).

Those eggs? Yep, perfectly cooked, thanks:

Cafe Paradiso poached eggs 2

The rest? Really rather lovely, apparently, as well as being an absolute picture to look at. The tomatoes were, like mine, small, sweet, and bursting with juiciness; the spinach was earthy, meaty, and melting; and the rest, I am told, couldn't be faulted. Except, that is, if you're a fan of small portions, in which case you might have had due cause to complain.

But like I say, this is Ireland. Small portions simply don't exist. What are you - a wimp or something?

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Cafe Paradiso... a first taste

Just to keep you going while I get the rest of my photos sorted out...

Fancy any of this for breakfast?

Cafe Paradiso breakfast menu


Sunday, 21 September 2008

Where chefs go on their days off....

Yes, I know I should be writing about Cork. And I will, I promise. Just got to get my photos sorted out.

But anyway, as I was saying. Iwas out for dinner last night at my favourite local, The Fat Delicatessen.

And who else was there?



Give up?

None other than Jason Atherton, he of Maze and Maze Grill, with his wife and daughter. So that's where chefs go on their days off. Apparently he's in there about once a week - and is the model customer, no attitude, no drama, no 'don't you know who I am?'. Which is, of course, a huge compliment to the guys at The Fat Deli, and says more about their food than I ever can.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Off to paradise...

... also known as Cafe Paradiso, in Cork. Run by Dennis Cotter - he of 'Wild garlic, gooseberries, and me', Cafe Paradiso has been on my 'must go to asap' list since Spring, and all the more so since I've tried out some of Cotter's fabulous recipes. And now I'm going. Hurrah!

Much is expected... But will it deliver?

Ooooh, the tension, the tension....

I'll let you know. Back on Monday.


Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Mmmm..... Murano

I know. I've been away. I've let you all down. I disappeared without trace, without warning, and hid behind an 'invitation only' sign. Truth is, nobody was invited. I just needed some time. Things have not been fun around here lately, and I didn't want to bore you all with it. It's just not me.

Sadly, things are still not that great. A couple of close family members are pretty sick, and one of my cats has been very poorly for the last month or so. And on top of that, I'm really busy with work stuff - in a good way, but on top of everything else that's been going on this year, I'm just mentally and physically cream-crackered.

So I decided to put the blog on hold.

But then... Then I went and had a meal at Angela Hartnett's long-awaited new restaurant, Murano. And I couldn't resist taking my camera. And then I thought I might as well share the photos. So here they are. (Apologies for the overall standard - the lighting wasn't that great for a point-and-shoot, plus I took the photos in a bit of a hurry, because it really wasn't the kind of place to be taking snaps, and I didn't want to incur the wrath of fellow diners.)

If you want the words, I suggest you read a review here. It says everything I would have said. I'm actually wondering if the reviewer stole my brain.

Murano ham and bread

carta da musica, focaccia, wonderful ham, and fine olive oil

Murano Swiss chard tortelli

Swiss chard and sairass ricotta tortelli, sage and butter emulsion

Murano prawn raviolo

ravioli of king prawn with pickled fennel, raisin purée

Murano lamb

roasted Welsh lamb rump, white bean ragout, smoked pancetta

Murano red mullet

grilled Cornish red mullet, crushed peas and mint, fresh almond and white grape vinaigrette

Murano sorbets

dazzling pre-dessert sorbets incl. basil (the star), blood orange, blackcurrant, mango, banana, strawberry, chocolate

Murano posset

lemon posset, raspberry salad, fromage frais sorbet

Murano roasted peach

vanilla parfait, chocolate cream, roasted white peach

Murano post-desserts

post-dessert desserts: tiramisu with coffee granita; sugar tuiles, salted pralines, dark truffles, and cherry bombes

Murano chandelier

the interior - with spectacular, specially-commissioned chandelier

Murano interior 1

the lovely interior

Murano interior 2

the lovely interior again

I hope that gives you something to be going on with. I'll try to be back soon, but I can't promise anything, ok? Be good in the meantime, and take care of yourselves.

AFoS x

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