Food news: Purcell's perfect pop-up
At the end of last month, Adam Purcell (pictured above), who is the executive sous chef of Frenchie Covent Garden, put on a Sunday evening pop-up dinner in Forest Avenue. The talented young chef from Dalkey has recently moved to London from Paris, where he has worked his way up through every position in Frenchie's three restaurants on the Rue du Nil in the second arrondissement, before finishing up as head chef of the wine bar.
(The 'Frenchie' of Frenchie is Gregory Marchand, who was given the nickname by Jamie Oliver when he worked as the latter's head chef.)
The six-course tasting menu was vegetarian, even though Adam isn't. "Lots of my friends are vegetarian," he says, "and this is a great time of year for vegetables, with the peas and asparagus coming into season."
Standout dishes included roasted cauliflower with toasted seeds, Parmesan and citrus that delivered a powerful hit of umami; delicious wild garlic agnolotti with asparagus and smoked almonds, and a Greek yoghurt panna cotta with strawberries and rocket sorbet. Gerard Maguire of 64 Wine provided the wine pairings, which were mainly natural and biodynamic, including the light red Preisinger Puszta Libre Zweigelt-Sankt Laurent 2015 with a dish of seared gnocchi, fresh peas, purple sprouting broccoli and radish.
Among the friends drafted in to help on the night were Gráinne O'Keefe, the head chef at Clanbrassil House, with whom Adam used to work at Pichet ("I've learned so much from her," he says), and Kelly Nam, the Korean-American executive pastry chef of Frenchie, who came over from Paris specially. Running front of house was Emmet Newport, the manager of 777 - a friend since the pair waited tables together as students. Other friends and family helped out on the floor and in the kitchen, and everyone donated their time and labour, as the event was a fundraiser.
Pop-ups are a great way for young chefs who don't yet have their own restaurants to cook the food that they want to cook - rather than the food that they cook in their day jobs - and become better known. The Roots pop-up that Keith Coleman (Instagram @keithjamescoleman) puts on from time to time is another one worth keeping an eye out for - the last one took place in Green Man Wines in Terenure. And The Fumbally (thefumbally.ie) puts on a Wednesday night dinner with a different chef in charge of the menu each week.
On Thursday May 31, Dunbrody House in Arthurstown, Co Wexford, will host a Champagne Charlie Dinner with Willem Pincon of Champagne Heidsieck, featuring champagnes paired with a tasting menu from Kevin Dundon and new head chef Tom Spruce. Booking: (051) 389600; €125pp
Ireland's Green Larder is a new book from Margaret Hickey that tells the story of Ireland through its food - and helps to explain why it is only in recent years that an authentic and confident Irish food culture is starting to emerge. It's a fascinating read. Published by Unbound at £20.
Eatyard throws its first ever Crisp Festival from June 14-17. Events include a Bottomless (crisp) Brunch; Mix 'n' Match DIY crisp sandwiches; a crisp-eating competition, Crisps & Cans (together at last); Tayto vs King - a serious debate - and crisp specials from all vendors. the-eatyard.com