Ultimate food pairings
Our top chefs offer some summer inspiration by sharing their favourite flavour pairings. These classic combinations just have to be tried
With barbecues, picnics and family gatherings on the horizon over the summer months, it's time to brush up on your culinary skills and pick up some tips from the experts.
We asked a host of top Irish chefs – Oliver Dunne, Clodagh McKenna, Edward Hayden, Sophie Morris, Rozanne Stevens and Domini Kemp – to inspire us with food pairings to tease and tantalise our palates.
We came across the chefs as they cooked in a pop-up kitchen in the front window of Arnotts in Henry Street, Dublin, to celebrate Cook Month.
Cooking up a storm in the windows that are normally inhabited by mannequins is a first for Irish retailers. Drop along and see for yourself. The pop-up kitchen runs until Friday, June 7.
For more, see arnotts.ie.
"At this time of year, I tend to start making a lot of simple, fresh salads using delicious summer vegetables. At the moment, I'm loving the combination of thinly sliced grilled courgettes with feta cheese and mint leaves. The grilled courgette slices work really well with the crumbly, milky feta and the mint adds a gorgeous freshness to the salad. Drizzled with a simple lemon juice and olive oil dressing, it is just heaven on a plate!"
"I love the combination of lemon and thyme and use it in a variety of ways. I think that when it is cooked, it imparts a wonderful fragrance to the chosen dish. I love to use it in a savoury crumble topping with flaked almonds when baking fillets of fish, or as the main flavouring in a simple stuffing for a roast chicken, perhaps with the addition of some grated courgette."
"My favourite food pairings change with the seasons. At the moment, I am loving spring lamb with basil. I love the contrast between the beautiful roasted, sweet flavours you get from the spring lamb with the robust flavour of the basil."
"Cheese and fruit – ridiculously simple and no cooking involved, but it works every time. Take a fantastic piece of Knockdrinna cheese and a slice of pear, or a really strong blue cheese (Cashel Blue is always delicious) along with dark red grapes or figs, and you are in heaven.
"My ultimate food pairing has to be a freshly caught piece of Irish fish perfectly cooked and covered with a golden, silky blanket of melting, salted Irish butter. You see, they are the perfect match – fish should always be the headline in the food concert going on on your plate. But the wonderful thing about butter is that it is happy to be the backing singer."
"My favourite flavour pairing is chocolate/cocoa and chilli. Based on a South American classic, this flavour combination really works for me as it has so many applications and is always a cheeky little surprise. I launched my cookery school with a demonstration of venison with chocolate chilli sauce; this rich, darkly delicious sauce complements complex flavours like game very well.
For a sweet treat, dark chocolate and chilli truffles dusted with cocoa powder, or dark chocolate and chilli brownies are sophisticated and interesting. I even add a tablespoon of cocoa powder to my chilli con carne – home cooking can be posh, too!"