March 08, 2006
Provencal fish soup with cod brandade toast
Grilled lemon sole, cucumber raita and chermoula dressing
Assiette of pork with colcannon and candied almonds
Warm chocolate mouse with sugared violets
Mulled apple tart, Cashel Blue sorbet
This was our menu last night for a special Euro-Toques dinner in Paul Flynn's restaurant in Dungarvan Co. Waterford.
Paul is a very clever chef and manages to steer a clear path through the various traditions of food to produce something which is modern, exciting and yet steeped in the simple ingredients of his region.
Our soup was a very good example of this skill.
This was a traditional fish bisque, carrying all the intense flavours of the sea that only a well made stock can, flavoured with fennel, as they do in Provence but packing a few extra punches as well.
Orange peel and rosemary were detected as was the extra punch of both star anise and Pernod. (There were a lot of highly analytical chefs at this dinner)
Paul shows his assurance with food by realising that the bisque base could carry these flavours and still shine through.
The next course couldn't have been more different .
The lemon Sole was served on the bone, very simply, the cucumber and the chermoula being relegated to mere garnishes.
The star feature of this course was the fish, barely cooked, and served while still retaining its bite, moisture and flavour.
I have never eaten better lemon sole.
The Pork plate was something completely different.
Having acknowledged the nearness of the sea to Dungarvan Paul now gave us a flavour of Watertfords traditional farming mainstay, the pig industry.
On our plate this time were a Cruibin, boned and stuffed with black pudding, a piece of belly of Pork caramelized with mustard and honey and some excellent colcannon (I would have liked more, but then I never get enough vegetables today)
The belly was a triumph, crisp, fatty and full of flavour, the cruibin was delicious but I still hanker after the way they were cooked in Snaffles in the seventies, coated with breadcrumbs and grilled until crisp.
Next was a warm chocolate mousse, so much the better for being warm instead of hot, mine was scoffed in embarrassing quick time.
The final dessert was one of the highlights of the meal.
These were little tatins of spicy apples with nuts and red wine used in their cooking and served with a sorbet rich with little chunks of Cashel Blue.
Together these tastes were enough to make your mouth sing.
Paul had yet another surprise to pull out before the finish.
Our petits fours were little marshmallows flavoured with passion fruit.
They exploded with flavour as they melted in your mouth.
I won't comment on the wines, I was the designated driver and only allowed myself a few sips of Elysium Black Muscat , and another few of an excellent Spanish Moscatel which we drank with the apple.
A memorable meal