Friday, September 05, 2008

Cork, boy!


A few weekends ago Mrs M and I embarked on a train journey from Ballymena to Cork, a seven hour journey no less.
We had method in our madness as we were travelling down to worship at the food mecca that is Café Paradiso.

We have been before and have been spoilt forever as nothing has been up to that standard since, well, one memorable meal in Ginger is on a par. The memorable main course in Ginger being a tempura of sticky rice with a pineapple ( there may have been ginger in it…) salsa.

Absolutely wonderful, but y’know Cafe Paradiso goes to eleven.

The train journey down to Dublin was uneventful. Getting from Connolly station to Heuston was interesting as we passed the pre queue meetup for the local methadone clinic. Blimey that was a hefty dose of reality. We had a minor disaster when our flask of coffee (with no joy ie-decaff) got gently bumped by the taxi driver as he opened a door wider. Off we toddled to get the train to Cork with a trail of coffee pissing out of a bag. I spotted it and yelped “Crap, the flask”. Mrs M’s white Converse were stained a light brown colour and not symmetrically either. The flask was dumped in a bin. The train journey ahead was to be coffee free and Mrs M was mightily annoyed her footwear was filthy. Damn.
Mrs M was very annoyed about her ruined footwear and planned to go and get herself a new pair as soon as we hit the shops in Cork. No suggestion of washing machines and bleach/stain removers were having any effect whatsoever.

The next part of the journey was pleasant as we were nearing our final destination. Watching the countryside roll past and letting someone else take care of the driving and reading my book.
I did love it when the train announcements in Irish made me look up every time it said “Heuston go Corcaigh” (pr: Heuston go Corkey)

Go Corcaigh indeed.

On arrival in Cork our hotel was a mere 10 minute walk from the station.
We stayed in the Hotel Isaacs and very nice it was too. There was a really great pub across the street called Dan Lowrey's - great pint of Murphys. The street in which the hotel is situated is varied in its shopfrontery. Takeaways, musical instrument shops, a theatre, furniture shops, an adult store with private video booths.... I was intrigued by the last one but Mrs M most definitely wasn’t, she was rather indignant when I said I would go in on my own.
I have a feeling I haven’t missed out on too much though.

We had reservations for Café Paradiso on Friday and Saturday night.
I cannot adequately describe the excitement this generated in both of us.

We got there for dinner on the Friday and gazed at the menu as if in a trance.
It is very rare that a non meat eater gets so much choice and such a high standard of cooking.

What to eat?

I went for the rice paper rolls stuffed with greens and herbs with lime and coconut dip with spicy tomato rasam. Mrs M had tartlet of caramelised beetroot & Bluebell Falls fresh goats cheese with watercress pesto and olive-crushed potato.

The rice paper parcels were light and a wonderful blend of flavours.
Mrs M’s tart was rich and satisfying and the watercress pesto really set the flavours off.

Just feckin’ delicious and two more courses to go.

I had baked semolina & sheep’s cheese gnocchi with panfried artichokes, braised lentils, lemon cream and caramelised beetroot.
The gnocchi were very light indeed and every flavour on the plate (as ever) complemented one another. Beautiful. Really, really tasty and light. They could have carted me off right there and then, I've fulfilled a life dream, I have been in love and been loved in return and I had just finished a beautiful plate of food that left me feeling dreamy, satisfied yet not full. I digress.
Mrs M had braised chard timbale of roast aubergine, puy lentils & halloumi cheese, with crisped potato, green peppercorn-citrus cream and cumin baby carrots.
I tasted some, it was sooo good.
Dessert for me, was roasted peaches with lavender ice cream and pistachio biscotti.
I can still taste it. Man, what a great dessert.

Mrs M had limone Paradiso which she thought was out of this world.

Spoilt, yet again. Nowhere do I eat food matching this. Nowhere!
When I make piles of cash I may move to Cork and eat there at least twice a week.

We ate in Boqueria, a tapas bar on the Sunday night and it was just alright. Saturday lunch in café bar deli was a really great plate of pasta. Very good in fact. Lunch on Sunday was in café Mexicana and was very nice and not hot enough to buckle the buccal, thankfully.

Food tourist, is that all I am? Well, it could be worse couldn’t it?

I have all the Café Paradiso cookbooks now so I shall be making some of the recipes, I’ve already made two and they were spectacular, if I say so myself.

10 Comments:

Blogger Nelly said...

You and Mr M have a quare time of it. Shame about the trainers tho'. Your post made me so hungry that I went and bought the first book online.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Mudflapgypsy said...

Nelly: We are very quiet and demure 90% of the time.
You won't regret the purchase of the book at all, the food is amazing and I feel ever so proud when I make one of the recipes as they are the only ones, apart from baking, that I follow to the letter.

The butternutsquash gnocchi with spinach and garlic cream is heaven on a plate. In fact i have a friend coming round next week and that's what i'll be making. I'm drooling already and I've just had lunch.

1:05 PM  
Blogger MEDITERRANEAN KIWI said...

hello mr and mrs m
i think you have toured hania in the past - wish i could send some of those red ones over to you

1:05 PM  
Blogger Mudflapgypsy said...

Nelly: We are very quiet and demure 90% of the time. I hope you typing Mr M and not Mrs M was a genuine typo (much like those I make all the time it seems)?
You won't regret the purchase of the book at all, the food is amazing and I feel ever so proud when I make one of the recipes as they are the flavours are breathtaking. They are the only ones, apart from baking, that I follow to the letter.

The butternutsquash gnocchi with spinach and garlic cream is heaven on a plate. In fact I have a friend coming round next week and that's what I'll be making. I'm drooling already and I've just had lunch.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Mudflapgypsy said...

Med Kiwi:

Thanks, but we'll be over in Frangokastello very soon and I can't wait.

1:08 PM  
Blogger MEDITERRANEAN KIWI said...

and what a nosh you enjoyed (no photos?)

1:09 PM  
Blogger Mudflapgypsy said...

Med Kiwi: I took a couple of photos on the Saturday night where Mrs M had Chanterlles, potato and watercress gnocchi in a cream sauce ( I can't remember the flavour of the sauce--aaah).

I may put it in the post tomorrow.

1:29 PM  
Blogger MEDITERRANEAN KIWI said...

glad to hear mrs m knows the finn bros as well as kiwis do

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Nick said...

I think my problem would be that faced with so many perfect dishes I'd want to try them all and end up stuffed to the gills. How would I choose from such a cornucopia of delights? Couldn't you persuade them to open a branch in Belfast or Ballymena?

I'm sure Jenny would have the same reaction to getting her Converses ruined. Bugger the stain removal, what a great excuse to get some new ones!

2:45 PM  
Blogger Mudflapgypsy said...

Nick: I would most undoubtedly spend all my money eating if they opened a branch up here. I can just imagine it now, me panhandling on the street to be able to afford another dessert.

3:26 PM  

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