Ireland is frequently described as a land full of friendly folk all willing for a chat and a banter when WE all know we’re simply nosey. We just like to know. And we love those little, itty bits of info to embellish, ahem, enrich, a story. Once I went to a wedding in Tipperary where the church ceremony was in a tiny village but the reception was in the main town. This meant a quick stop at the B&B we were staying at, after the church, to leave the car so hubby and I could happily drink at the reception. As we stepped through the front door of the B&B the Bean An Tí (woman of the house) was hovering. “Well now, was it lovely?” she oh-so sweetly asked. Game on.
“Indeed it was” I batted back “Four priests, six altar boys and two lovely singers, sisters I think they were, one a red-head, one a dark-haired lass. Lovely voices.” She stopped. “FOUR priests you say, now who were they I wonder…?” Quick as a flash I trotted out names (from order of service, folks, I’m not weird) giving all details. One was a local priest, one an american priest cousin, one priest from a local school board (don’t ask or this story will never end) and one missionary priest friend. “Well now…” she was visibly flushed with all this information, “…don’t bother phoning a taxi. I’m off into town to meet the ‘girls’ for coffee (= gossip) and I’ll drop you off on the way. Will you have something to eat, it’ll be hours before you sit down what with all the photographs and everything.” And before we had a chance to reply she was off.
“What the hell happened there?’ my baffled husband said. He had struggled to follow the speed of the previous dialogue (australian, he still has difficulty with irish accents in full ‘irish mode’). “Relax” I said. “It’s a game, we give info she replies with extra hospitality” and right on cue the happy Bean An Tí returned with a groaning tray of tea, sandwiches of homebaked ham and a warm apple tart with cream. “Sure, you’ll need something to line the stomach” she shyly said. But I knew it was a ‘thank you’.
So what, you may wonder, has all that to do with the title of this post? Well, you see, while I was in Dungarvan for the Waterford Festival of Food, I had some absolutely stunning food. Actually, I had a lot of stunning food. From the enjoyable, different breakfasts provided by Eunice Power at her delightful B & B to the oysters tasted at oyster farm, Dungarvan Shellfish, to the tastings offered by the market stalls at the Festival Sunday Market all whipped this foodie into a gleeful state of gastronomic bliss. And then there were the evening meals and, even now, I cannot think about them without smiling. For I had a couple of nights of dining that were more than worth the inches added to my ample hips. “So..” you ask “…were they lovely?”.
Indeed they were.
But how to describe them without simply listing the dishes off? Because some meals go beyond that. So I’ve decided to present them mainly as a photo / illustrative report and let you see what we enjoyed so you can gather the information and build your own story of the events. The two nights both took place at the Tannery Cookery School, Dungarvan run by chef Paul Flynn. The five chefs were Martijn Kajuiter (Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore), Eddie Baguio (O’Brien’s Chop House, Lismore), Richard Corrigan (Corrigans Mayfair, Bently’s Bar & Grill, London), Mark Hix (Hix Oyster and Chop House, Hix Soho, both London, Hix Oyster & Fish House, Lyme Regis) all kept in check by the aforementioned Paul Flynn who also runs his nearby Tannery Restaurant in addition to his cookery school (aided, in no small way, by his beautiful, calm wife Máire). So you see, all heavy hitters, all strong personalities. Combine that with a hot kitchen and you have the potential for either a battle zone or a creative pool. Luckily for us the latter was the case each night. On both occasions three chefs each took a course and created a dish.
Night One: Thursday 14 April
Martijn Kajuiter (starter)
Paul Flynn (main)
Eddie Baguio (dessert)
Justin Green & Richard Reeve (cocktails)
Night Two: Saturday 16 April.
Richard Corrigan (starter)
Paul Flynn (main)
Mark Hix (dessert)
The three chefs were aided and assisted by Financial Times food writer and former chef, Bill Knott, who had joined in on some river fishing with the others the previous day at Ballyvolane House. His presence ensured that we guests were kept entertained as the three plus one performed their culinary and plating magic while all the while keeping up a lively banter with each other. A form of culinary sledging I believe it could be called. Needless to say it turned out to be a long night of great food and good fun and we tumbled out into a taxi in the early morning full of ‘cheer’.
Right excuse me now folks, I’m off to lie down after that report. At least till dinner that is. I’ve a chicken that needs roasting.