Food news: The new Party food
We had a 21st birthday party for two of our children (they are not twins, but a house move meant that the celebration of one of the birthdays was very much delayed) in the house a couple of weeks ago.
The debate about what to feed the guests had been ongoing for months. I wasn't going to do it myself (too many people, and I wanted to enjoy the party rather than work at it), but neither did any of the obvious options appeal.
The situation was complicated by the fact that the kitchen is in the middle of the space being used for the party, and we didn't want anyone to have to deal with taking hot dishes in and out of the oven while surrounded by guests.
We wanted to serve something hot in the hand rather than encumber people with plates and cutlery. But anyone we asked to quote for canapés came back with figures that were way outside the budget. We could have ordered in pizza, I suppose, but everyone eats pizza so often these days that it doesn't feel particularly interesting.
Someone had the brainwave that we contact Sarah McNally and Liadain Kaminska, the young women who run the Market Kitchen in the Temple Bar market on Saturdays, and whose cheese toasties (these are not just any old cheese toasties, but altogether a superior class of toastie, made with Corleggy cheese and all manner of organic veggie goodness from the McNally Family Farm, above) have saved many a market-goer from frostbite. They are also known for their remarkable hangover-curing properties, and we figured that they would work as high-class soakage, too.
They came along and set up their festival kitchen in our (very small) city garden, and their lovely helpers delivered the toasties around to the guests on trays. There were also wraps, and dips; everything was vegetarian.
For dessert, we ordered in an unseemly number of dulce de leche doughnuts from Meet Me in the Morning and, aside from the fact that I am still finding traces of sticky caramel in unexpected places around the house, they were wholly successful. And wholly delicious, needless to say. There are lots of other flavours available, too)
Coupled with bargain Prosecco from 64 Wine in Glasthule (which now stocks Italy's best-selling Riondo fizz scoring 90/100 on Parker), and Barefoot Pilsner lager from 8 Degrees, it was a very reasonable way to entertain a lot of people and we'd do it again in a heartbeat.
CORK: EAST MEETS WEST
Bryan McCarthy of Greenes in Cork (above), Kevin Aherne of Sage in Midleton, and Robbie Krawczyk, who opens The Chestnut in Ballydehob this spring, will collaborate on a unique local ingredient-driven dinner in Greenes on March 6. Booking: €69pp, visit greenesrestaurant.com.
RIVER COTTAGE CHEESE
Anna's Dairy, based on a goat farm in Derrinturn, Co Kildare, is holding a three-day artisan cheese-, yoghurt- and butter-making course from March 28-30 led by River Cottage tutor Paul Thomas. The cost is €500, places are limited to 12. Search 'artisan cheese making course' on donedeal.ie.
NEW FOOD KING AT GREGAN'S CASTLE
Gregan's Castle is kicking off the 2018 season with a new head chef, Robbie McCauley, who previously worked at the Burren hotel under David Hurley and was most recently with Gareth Byrne at Campagne in Kilkenny. Visit gregans.ie.