Archive for July, 2009

Leftover Potato Omelette

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
Potato Omlette

Ignoring last weeks indulgence of dining out and continuing with ‘waste not, want not’ theme new potatoes are in season at the moment. Rather than throw the left-overs away they are great to make a really tasty omelette with. Really quick and easy, perfect for a lunchtime snack.

One onion, halved and sliced.
Half a clove of garlic, finely sliced.
Your leftover potatoes, cubed.
Olive oil.
200g grated mature Irish cheddar.
3 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste.

Add some olive Oil to a heated pan. Add the potato and fry at a high enough heat to brown them, remove and set aside. Lower the heat, add a touch more oil and gently fry the onion and garlic until soft. Break the eggs into a bowl and mix. Add the potato and onions to the bowl of egg mixture (do not add the eggs to the pan) and stir. Season to taste. Oil the pan and return the mixture. As the mixture sets you can build up the sides using a spatula, see below. Cover and cook slowly for 10-15mins. When almost cooked top with the cheese (and whatever else you want) and put it under a medium grill.

Dining at The Cliff House Hotel Restaurant

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009
Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore

Last summer we only managed to visit the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore for drinks and, nice and all as they were, we missed the chance to eat in the restaurant. Not so for the summer of 2009, we made our booking early and counted down the days.

A 7:30pm arrival for an 8pm booking allowed us a round of Cuba Libres at the bar. It was nicely busy for a Thursday evening with some folk enjoying bar food and some others simply having drinks. Out on the terrace an amateur Japanese fisherman was getting his photo taken by a member of staff. Smiling broadly, catch of the day in hand which he presumably caught from the pier just down the hill, he and the obliging photographer were the only occupants of the large terrace as a yet another shower came down. The broad smile unfazed by the weather or maybe his face was just frozen that way from a day outdoors during the Irish summer. Drinks arrived which we asked the waiter to transfer to our restaurant bill. No problem. This was communicated to the maître d’ who appeared on the scene towards 8pm to inform us our table was ready whenever we would like to sit.

Our table for five had a commanding view out over Ardmore Bay as the July sun was setting between the dark clouds, a beautiful backdrop. The restaurant itself is quite small so there is no such thing as a bad table but I guess those sitting at the glass frontage may have a slight advantage.

As we looked at the menu the amuse-bouche with its lemon, parsnip, pea and spring onion flavours split the diners opinion and added some trepidation as to what the main meal would be like. The menu itself was distinctly written with just the main ingredient, a single verb to describe how it is cooked and a list of ingredients that make up the rest of the dish. No prepositions. No adjectives. No adverbs. A nice touch, especially in the case of the Smoked Salmon starter.

Any early apprehension caused by the amuse-bouche was quickly remedied by the arrival of some ultra-fresh bread followed by the starters. My West Cork scallops were cooked to perfection, the taste and textures of the accompanying asparagus and carrageen transformed the dish from what was a simple dish of perfect scallops into something lively and varied. The lamb for main course was presented in a similar manner, beautifully cooked and served with an array of ingredients and flavours that left you wondering how many more tastes could come from a single dish. All five diners chose different main courses and the Lobster, Beef, Monkfish and Duck were all similarly praised. Service was attentive but relaxed with plenty of time between courses, there was always a staff member nearby to top up your wine or refresh your water. A round of superb desserts, some equally superb dessert wine (of which I am not normally a fan) and some coffees rounded off the meal. Again, the desserts were fantastic, each one being a mini-creation without being stupidly fussy.

I am not a writer so I don’t think I can do the food justice with a review like this, also remember this is purely my subjective opinion which you may or may not agree with, then again I have read professional reviews of places I have visited and often wonderd what the reviewer was on about so I guess it is just part of the territory. Even if I were a writer I think the idea would be difficult to get across so I thought it best to go for sketchy detail over flowery language. To try sum it up I think it was possibly the only time I have dined out since the 1990s and come away thinking it was actually worth the cost. The setting, the staff, the wine and obviously the food. I don’t claim to be a cook of any ability but I can cook fresh prawns in garlic butter at home. I can add crispy bacon to seasonal leaves, sprinkle it with blue cheese and not charge myself €13.50. I can pile tables high and create a noisy and hot atmosphere in my own kitchen. This was something I couldn’t even begin to think about doing. To use a bit of a cliche it was a true dining experience. It had ideas. It was different. It gave the impression the chef cared about what he was doing and was trying to make an impression rather than money. It was not soulless food thrown out at you. For once, it did not feel like you were being taken for granted.

Concha y Toro – Casillero Del Diablo

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009
Casillero Del Diablo

All this week Dunnes Stores are doing the Casillero Del Diablo (‘Cellar of the Devil’ to you and I) Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc reduced from €10.49 to €6.49. Not a bad deal for a decent enough wine, hard to get better value at this price point.

Carrot and Ginger Soup

Friday, July 10th, 2009
Carrot and Ginger Soup

I’m back from my holidays in Spain and a nice break in Cambrils. Nothing much to report on the food side, we spent the time BBQing steak and home-made burgers and doing some simple pasta dishes. Of course the wine is extraordinarily cheap, €4 for a Torres Viña Sol which retails for over twice that in Ireland at €10 and €8 for a Marques De Caceres Crianza which is normally €12 to €14 in Ireland. Even when you factor in the €2.05 per bottle Government Duty and our 5% higher VAT rate those prices still do not equate. I must consult with some of the online wine folk (see the “Wine” section under “Links” over on the right of the page) and see if they have any theories on this.

OK. Now for something completely different: Carrot and Ginger soup. Carrot is good for the eyes while Ginger is good for nausea among other things. Ergo if you have a sickness of the eyes this is the soup for you. As a test to see if you absolutely need to make this soup or not look for the anomaly between the photos and the text. If you cannot find it make the soup. If you can find it post a comment and make the soup anyway.

1 Large clove of Garlic finely sliced
1/2 Inch (about half a thumb) of Ginger finely sliced.
2 Medium Onions
12-15 Carrots sliced
2 Pints of Chicken or Veg stock
1/2 Teaspoon coriander
1 Tablespoon of Olive oil

Chop the onion into slices and gently fry in the olive oil with the garlic, coriander and chopped ginger. After about 7minutes when the onion is nicely cooked add in the carrots and stir around for a minute or two. Add the stock, bring to the boil and then cover and gently simmer the mix for 20 minutes or until the carrots are cooked. Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Blend the mixture and season to taste. Serve with a sprig of fresh coriander if you have some.