Cultural Litany: The Culinary Textures of West Ireland & Dublin Proper – Feature
Landing in Dublin, the hustle and bustle reflects the intonations of every major Western city, rife with cheer, debate and lively celebration. Finding the contrast of both urban and rural culinary textures of Ireland relies within the setting they are placed. While Dublin functions in a culturally different realm than the more rural regions of the country, the paradoxes do not favor all that different.
Outside the winding hills near Connemara, the Atlantic juts out with distinctive knowing realizing the long journey many undertook. Sitting quietly right on the cusp of the Western Islands with Inish Boffin in sight, the cool waters lap gently as the quiet dining room of the Renvyle House springs to life in old-world elegance.
Beginning the inflection specifically highlighting the nearby sea, the Connemara Musselpie integrated an interesting personification of seafood which rarifies how much breading need be used. Its worthwhile intention of shallots and sizable amount of garlic made the taste buds roar to life.
Like many geographically fundamental truths of certain areas, specific fish dictate a certain kind of cooking. While sole and mackerel permeate much of this landscape, the John Dory, here pan fried as a fillet with braised funnel and a light butter sauce, showcased a balance of texture without overwhelming the senses.
Ascending up the coast into the gentile idealization of Westport where the famed female Irish pirate Granuaile ruled, the looming presence of the dormant volcano Croagh Patrick breathes heavy upon the land. Tucked within the base of its path across from the National Famine Monument, the cool liquid trust of Campbell’s Pub, packed to the gills, waxes smooth as the Guinness touches the lips.
Entering into the town proper, the Westport Plaza Hotel is ideally situated within the geography with all matters of restaurants and pubs a short walk away with easy access to stores and music venues alike.
The first insistence within Westport revelled in the auspice of An Port Mor, a decidedly wonderful piece of culinary heaven, both intimate and familiar. The food itself did not disappoint in its balance of both experimentation and simple functionality.
The warm salad of Irish Pot Roasted Pig Cheeks danced in flavor with the tangy insistence of the meat intermingling perfectly with the asparagus and arugula to create the perfect starter.
Progressing into the main course, again the sea made its availability known while taking into account a sense of play. The use of Inish Turk Crab, harvested from the cold waters nearby offshore, mingled with a homemade seaweed tagliatelle , unfurled dreamily and helped wlong with a Clew Bay lobster bisque sauce that simply rocked.
A second personification of the area could not stand up to the scrutiny of such a wonderful first meal, integrated wondrously with a exquisite Spanish Rioja. Cafe Sol Rio, with many locations across the island, though again highlights the direct relation to the ocean despite diverse results.
The starters of a mushroom ripinne, not unlike stuffed mushrooms in the States but over-saturated with an excess of cheese, offered a paradoxical intention to the goat cheese tartlet filled with spinach and leeks which interlayed the ingredients without a complete sense of purpose.
The main course was a mixed grill of local seafood, inherently bolstered by a true Clew Bay scallop with chunks of lobster and scallops sauteed and elevated in white truffle oil giving a sense of intensity to live the night along.
The dessert nicely showed an inherent dexterity of truth with a pancotta bathed in ice cream and dexterous cherry sauce coupled with an Irish Delight cocktail intermingling local liquor “puchine” with a Midori construct and a wonderous level of cream for a brain-thwarting blast-off.
Not to be missed across the street from both restaurants, nestled on Bridge Street, Matt Molloy’s Pub is a central hub for all things drink and music-based in Westport. Molloy is one of the founding member of world renown music group The Chieftains. While Matt himself was indisposed, his son was an undeniable host while Guinness flowed cold and freely.
Continuing further up the West Coast into County Mayo, Mount Falcon, nestled away in the woods, is like a country estate of lore with undeniable poise and stature. The Guinness sipped outside over the massive lawn replete with helicoper landing pad speaks of the jet set who runs in to play in the area’s many golf courses.
Ballina Kitchen Restaurant, situated in the manor’s old kitchen housing, integrates majesty of setting with a sense of knowing. The starter, not to be missed, employs a black pussing tartlet unlike anything else tasted in consistency on the visit buoyed by a sweet and melting pair of scallops.
Chef Philippe Farineau’s signature Le Boeuf, resounding in a slowly cook sirloin, gave a hearty richness elevated by a rosemary potato croquette glazed in a Borderlaise sauce balancing the inherent balance of land to sea.
Heading back into the angle of Dublin, the ideas of the food, primarily seafood-based on the coast blending both heavy sauces but also some oil based sautés, creates an interesting balance between true fine dining, as emulated at Renvyle and especially Mount Falcon versus the down home cooking that truly elevated the coast in An Port Mor.
On the outskirts of Dublin in the township of Strawberry Beds, Angler’s Rest begins the down home percolation with the always welcomed fish-and-chips experience. The key highlight here was the garlic intonation of the chips, a large piece of fish and a batter not overly rich but with just the right amount of texture to both fill the stomach and consecutively make the Guinness sing.
Dublin Proper offered three interesting alterations, one from the South Side and two from the North Side, interpolating the different sections of the city separated by a river.
The Winding Stair, situated just on the river on the South Side across adjacent to Temple Bar, angles for more old-world dexterity beginning with an Irish seafood chowder intermingled with a sliced complement of chorizo swirling in its sauce, both hearty and thin concurrently.
Returning to the notion of meat reified in the inland arena of Mount Falcon, the Fermanagh Black Pig Pork Fillet, wrapped with intent in Ummera bacon and complemented with thyme dumpling and pickled cabbage, reigned with a sense of importance in terms of its presentation but paled in comparison to Mount Falcon’s ambitious taste.
Peploes, located near the cool functionality of the Fitz-William Hotel, regailed in a more fine dining prospect reflective in the pinpoint viscosity of its flavor. Beginning with the gratinated goat cheese wrapped in parma ham with a dash of honey vinaigrette, the taste intrinsically provided a transcience that placed one completely in the beautiful mindset of the city.
However, it was the marrow-crusted Irish fillet steak that brought the intonation home balancing the idea of city cuisine with a notion of fine marrying the vibrancy of spinach within an oxtail sauce complemented by roasted potatoes and fresh and lush sauteed vegetables.
Finding a balance between the identity of these first two Dublin two eateries, specific and diverse in their own right, Hugo’s, positioned just blocks from the Alexander Hotel & Trinity College, offered an idea of the young with a sense of the lively without diverging too much on the essentials.
The starter of a Cooleeny Camembert mixed an idea of traditional but with a twist incorporating a sesame pastry, light and filled with a dollop of kunquat relish, offering a litany of tastes in one bite.
The main course reflected this continued balance with a sense of vivacity. Having intergrated both seafood, pork and beef over the parsing of materials during the visit, chicken itself here served lean and luscious with a sausage stuffing over smoked applewood potatoes with the slightest inflection of a mustard jus was a perfect representation of true Dublin.
Wrapping out a night in Dublin would not be complete without the requisite pint of Guinness, available at all specifics, though two places intrinsic to the Trinity College area played especially true. First idealized is O’Donoghue’s, an institution of shorts, always filled with energy and the young out for a cavort, but with a smooth insight to its ways. The Ginger Man, by comparison, directly next to the Alexander Hotel, plays host to the more political wranglings while the liquid runs undeniably cold and tenacious.
Examining the intrinsic similarities and differences between the West Of Ireland and Dublin Proper in terms of culinary, many things remain true. The use of fresh ingredients to the separate areas remains distinctive although the level of traditionalism varies from place to place. The best representations like Peploes, Mount Falcon and especially An Port Mor shows an evolving breathe of palette allowing for enhancement of Ireland’s natural wonder.
Posted on May 11, 2012, in Arts Travel & Culture Features and tagged An Port Mor, Angler's Nest, Ballina Kitchen Restaurant, Campbells Pub, Croagh Patrick, Culinary, Feature, Hugo's, Ireland, MacDonoughs, Matt Molloys Pub, Mount Falcon, O'Donoghue's, Peploes, Philippe Farineau, Renvyle House, Strawberry Beds, The Alexander Hotel, The Ginger Man, The Westport Plaza, The Winding Stair, tim wassberg, West Ireland, Westport. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.