Idá’s Restaurant, Dingle

img_4731

The Swashbuachaill was abroad once more, down in Dingle for the annual food festival and what is also becoming an annual event, a return to one of my very favourite restaurants, Idá’s, owned and operated by the sublimely talented Chef/Proprietor Kevin Murphy. On this particular night, I got to hang out in the kitchen for the first service (and take a few pics) before sitting for the second service, a nine-course meal, each course paired with superb organic/’natural’ wines from Pascal Rossignol of Le Caveau, in Kilkenny, and also ‘scored’ with music especially selected by Dublin-based DJ John Casey. Here’s my subsequent review from the Irish Examiner.  Continue reading

Sage Words

midleton brick

Another Irish Mail on Sunday restaurant review from last year, this time of Sage restaurant, in Midleton, Co Cork, run by Chef/Proprietor Kevin Aherne — great restaurant and a great chef! Continue reading

Pilgrim’s Progress

april 2016 pilgrims

This is a review I wrote for the Irish Mail on Sunday, last August, 2015. Pilgrim’s is a very fine little restaurant based in Rosscarbery, in West Cork, owned and operated by chef Mark Jennings and his partner, Sarah-Jane Pearce, who runs front of house. It took just a single meal for it to be instantly installed as one of my most favourite dining establishments around, offering some genuinely original interpretations of superb local, seasonal produce in a wonderfully zen-filled setting.

Continue reading

Food fraud Ain’t Just Flogging Horse-burgers

Spinach & Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms' Shiitake Tart

Spinach & Mushroom Tart made with Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms’ Shiitakes

I find it truly disheartening when certain restaurants or retailers choose to exploit the integrity of fine growers and producers and, ultimately, the consumer by perpetrating food fraud—here’s a piece I wrote on the subject, now up on the Irish Food Writers’ Guild website, after yet another ‘episode’, this time involving Ballyhoura Mushrooms.

And in case the link doesn’t get you there directly … Continue reading

Asturias and Cantabria, Northern Spain

A traditional shepherd’s dwelling in Los Picos de Europa, Asturias, Spain

The Swashbuachaill has been off on yet another skite to his beloved Spain. He has more than a few dear Spanish friends and has long held the view that they are closer in temperament to the Irish than most other peoples of Europe. For years, his Spanish meanderings were concentrated in the South, most particularly, Andalucia, other than a few trips to Barcelona but more recent visits to the Basque Country, La Rioja and now Asturias and Cantabria have revealed a whole other dimension to the country: the wonderful welcome and hospitality are the same, maybe even better, but the landscape is entirely different; lush, green and an Atlantic coastline that is quite different from that seen on the ‘Costas’ down South. Driving along the Asturian coastline, a body could as easily be in Ireland as in Northern Spain, albeit on the finest Irish summer’s day imaginable. Here’s a link to a recent piece I wrote about my trip for the Irish Examiner. (Do please excuse the sub-editor who decided that Asturias and Cantabria are actually the neighbouring region, Basque or Basque Country!)  Continue reading

Ballymaloe Litfest of Food & Wine 2014

ReneRedzepiChef_large

For the weekend that’s in it, here’s four of my most recent articles, all previewing the 2nd Ballymaloe Litfest. Last year’s inaugural event defied all expectations, even those of the organisers, and I’m gearing up for yet another splendid weekend even if my own schedule (including a 9.30am interview on Sunday morning with one of Ireland’s Queens of Cheese, the magnificent Giana Ferguson of Gubbeen, which The Swashbuachaill shall conduct in an entirely somnolent state) appears to have been planned with the sole intention of  putting manners on The Swashbuachaill’s innate ability to party for Ireland. If you get the chance, do visit what will be the premier culinary gathering anywhere on the globe this weekend.  Continue reading

My Culinary Hero – Myrtle Allen at 90, Ballymaloe at 50

BallymaloeFamilyMarch2014_large

From left: Rory O’Connell, (Myrtle’s daughter) Tash Harty, (Myrtle’s son) Rory Allen, Joe Cronin, Colm McCan, Darina Allen, Rachel Allen, Myrtle Allen, Hazel Allen in the Drawing Room at Ballymaloe House. (Pic: Denis Scannell/Irish Examiner)

Contrary to popular opinion, The Swashbuachaill is not a callous sort though it may well appear so, such is the lack of attention or care devoted to this poor old site. But in fact, The Swashbuachaill is writing all the time, churning out the paid-for stuff that foots the bills, so will endeavour to regularly post links to aforementioned scribblings until such time as his carefully wrought investment strategies* come to fruition enabling him to retire entirely from the world of hard labour and solely dedicate himself to his dear, dear reader/s.

(*occasional scratchcards, half-baked notions of pursuing poorly thought-out business ideas at some ill-defined time in the future, a rather misguided notion of karma)

Which brings me to the cover story in last Saturday’s Irish Examiner Weekend magazine, a feature I wrote about my great culinary hero, Myrtle Allen, who is 90 years of age on March 13, in this year, the 50th anniversary of Ballymaloe House as a restaurant. Imagine, a farmer’s wife, 40 years old with six children, the youngest just three, and she decides to open a restaurant in her front room with no formal culinary training save a series of night classes in the Cork College of Commerce. Just over a decade later, she has a Michelin star  but, without doubt, the even greater achievement was introducing and standing by her culinary philosophy, whereby she saw it as  a chef’s duty to use the very finest of local, seasonal produce and, dispensing with ego and the panoply of ‘cheffy’ tricks and techniques that so often disguise inferior ingredients, to allow this food the star turn on the plate. It is a philosophy that the late Chef Gerry Galvin, dubbed ‘revolutionary’ at the time but is now accepted best practice the world over and, in the culinary world, her renown—very rightly!—is global. Happy Birthday, Myrtle!