Food For Thought: 13 Dining and Drinking Ideas To Suit All Tastes

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This weekend sees the return of “Every Cloud at Aimsir”, its takeaway pop-up on the lush grounds of Cliff at Lyons, Co Kildare. This dining experience is rooted in the Aimsir ethos of serving the absolute best Irish ingredients, cooked with love, but with a relaxed weekend approach. The menu includes loaded Ballymakenny violetta fries with Boyne Valley Bán cheese foam and grilled garlic scapes, southern fried Ring’s Farm chicken croissant with confit garlic mayo and a smoked Killenure Dexter beef burger and a cookie with hazelnut miso. These set menus are priced at €27 for a main, side of fries and a cookie dessert. Every Cloud at Aimsir runs at Cliff at Lyons on Fridays from 4.30pm – 8.30pm and Saturdays from 2pm – 8.30pm. All food and beverages must be pre-ordered along with specific collection slots; www.aimsir.ie.

Seafood lovers take note. Niall Sabongi, of Sustainable Seafood Ireland and Klaw Restaurants, has collaborated with his friend and two Michelin star winning chef, Mickael Viljanen. Together they have devised a weekly menu of delicious dishes that they love, delivered to your door, nationwide. This Friday (November 6), the first dish is a deluxe fish pie, with truffled lobster, turbot and sole, with vin jaune potato. Next week, the midweek dish is a monkfish and crab curry followed at the weekend by a classic Bouillabaisse Marseillaise with braised fennel, saffron potatoes, rouille, croutes and Gruyere cheese (pictured). All food is prepped and ready to use – all that needs to be done is heat, plate and serve. Each meal will be sufficient for up to four people, including a dessert to share. The midweek offering is €35 and the weekend offering, is €69. Ordering through www.sustainableseafood.ie.

Did you know today, November 5, is National Redhead Day apparently (and that Ireland is home to the second-largest ginger population in the world). Fever-Tree wants to celebrate the gingers of Ireland and is offering a complimentary whiskey and ginger ale, while stocks last, available to collect from all O’Brien’s off-licenses across Ireland. And as at home mixing is becoming increasingly popular, it is also inviting budding mixologists to join them virtually at a Fever-Tree Mixing Master-Class on November 12 at 7.30 pm. To sign up to claim a free place, visit: www.eventbrite.ie.

You may not be able to stay at Ashford Castle right now, but you can still enjoy a taste of Ashford following the launch of “Cullen’s at Home” – a new click and collect service. The menu, created by Ashford Castle’s executive chef Philippe Farineau, features dishes that showcase the hotel’s local suppliers. Choose from Inishbofin crab arancini, Connemara lobster and prawn salad, Andarl Farm pork belly, red wine braised short rib, seafood bouillabaisse, along with a selection of vegetarian and vegan options. Desserts include a decadent chocolate chip cookie vanilla ice cream sandwich and a peanut butter choux with raspberry gel. Starters are from €6.50 and main courses from €12.50 and there’s also a children’s menu. On Saturdays only, Cullen’s famous seafood platter of lobster, langoustine, shrimp, crab claws and mussels, is served with salads and dressings (€45). Currently available Friday – Sunday, order online at www.shop.ashfordcastle.com.

Enda McEvoy and Sinead Meacle, the husband and wife team behind Galway’s sustainable Michelin-starred restaurant, Loam, have just opened Éan – an innovative new 56-seater bakery, restaurant and wine bar – on Druid Lane in Galway. Due to current Level 5 restrictions, Éan is initially open for takeaway only with shortened opening hours and a limited menu of artisan bakes and sandwiches. Once restrictions are lifted, the full menu offering at Éan will consist of an array of artisan bakes and pastries created daily by pastry chef Lauren Goudeket served alongside seasonally-inspired breakfast (available until 11am), lunch and dinner dishes by head chef, Christine Walsh, who will produce many of the pickles, ferments and charcuterie that feature on the menu in-house. Do drop by and enjoy a coffee and Kouigan Amann, sourdough croissants, cardamom Buns, Morning Buns, and seasonal Cakes of the day.

Longing for a three-course meal, but struggling for inspiration? Look no further than the Dylan hotel’s new three-course dinner kit, which includes several recipe options each week. To launch, Dylan Hotel has chosen celeriac and hazelnut soup, accompanied by freshly baked olive bread, garnished with sorrel cress, a 6oz fillet steak with a sweetcorn puree, pommes Anna, Roscoff onion, truffle aioli and red wine jus, and for dessert, a chocolate brownie trifle with caramelised orange and mascarpone cheese. The dinner kit also includes a cheese only option, with a selection of Irish cheeses such as Wicklow Blue, St Tola goat cheese and Carrigaline herb and garlic, perfect for a winter’s evening in front of the fire; www.dylan.ie.

Chocolate lovers may be interested in the Teeling Chocolate Pairing (€35). This live virtual event is hosted by one of Teeling’s whiskey experts, where participants will be treated to a whiskey and chocolate pairing with three different Teeling whiskeys and locally produced craft chocolates. Attendees will be sent a Teeling Chocolate Tasting Pack in advance of the live event which includes a Trinity Tasting Pack, three different, locally sourced chocolates and a whiskey nosing glass. This is just one of several masterclass experiences available and for more information email [email protected]

The popular Baking in Space show hosted by Great British Bake Off star Andrew Smyth, and space champion Dr Niamh Shaw returns with four online shows on November 8, 11, 14 and 15 (all at 7pm), as part of Science Week 2020. The entertaining family-friendly show will feature astronaut, Helen Sharman and special guests from the European Space Agency exploring the surprising connections between the science of baking and the engineering that helps keep astronauts alive in space. Visit www.britishcouncil.ie/baking-in-space for a free ticket to the online show and enjoy a journey from earth to the moon and back, with demos, bakes, and exciting challenges for the whole family along the way.

Kilkenny’s La Rivista Restaurant has transformed its Parliament Street restaurant to a pop-up market and from Friday, the staff of the restaurant will be selling the very best of its Italian produce and seasonal dishes. The pop-up market, which opens from 11am Friday-Sunday will be selling its house dressings and sauces, fresh pasta dishes, soups, freshly baked ciabatta breads, ciabatta pizza slices served hot or cold to take away. La Rivista will also give customers the opportunity to enjoy a “Take Home Dinner of the Day” as well as seasonal fresh organic vegetables from Riversfield Farm and take-out teas, coffees and desserts; www.larivista.ie.

Covid-19 has played a role in creating an exciting new food business for two hospitality professionals. Former restaurant professionals Damian Corr and Jenny Campbell have just established “Vera Foods” offering a range of specialist fine foods from Spain both online and through the popular weekend farmers markets at Whelehan’s Wines in Loughlinstown and Killruddery House & Gardens, Co Wicklow. Having lost their jobs during the pandemic, Damian and Jenny saw the opportunity of bringing restaurant-quality products to Irish dining tables. They offer Alberto’s Gold organic, cold first press extra virgin olive oil, award-winning cheeses from Andalucia, chorizo and hams from Salamanca, Serrano and Iberica, very special ‘Ugly Delicious’ olives – and much more.These products are available at the markets and through the Vera Foods website www.verafoods.ie.

Time to book ahead for this Festive Afternoon Tea at Dromoland Castle, where you can enjoy open fires, luxurious surroundings, deep squashy sofas, twinkling lights and festive pastries created by executive head chef David McCann. On the menu is mulled wine, a variety of finger sandwiches, warm scones with home-made jams and clotted cream, festive pastries, warm mince pies, chocolate roulade and delicious seasonal treats. Served with a selection of coffee or leaf teas including the hotel’s own blend, can you imagine a better way to spend a winter afternoon? This treat will be available from December 2 until January 6, the cost for two is €105. To book visit www.dromoland.ie.

Thinking of switching to a plant-based diet? Now is the time to book ahead for “Plant Based Basics” an online course starting in January to help you with the basics of making the switch, busting myths about plant based diets with guided meal plans and tasty recipes. Founded by chef Greg Xavier, pictured, he says: “I’ve taken the last ten years of knowledge and experience and condensed it into an easy to follow course with all the nutritional information, recipes, meal plans and tips to maximise nutrient intake. Whether you are an omnivore, vegetarian, flexitarian or plant based eater – everybody can gain from these sustainable foundations.” Registration is open from November 16 and costs €99; www.plantbased.ie.

Did you know that Avoca has launched its Christmas Feast to Order service? New bite-sized sweet and savoury options take centre stage and smaller portions of the festive feast are on offer to those preparing a re-scaled festive meal. New dishes include a festive sausage roll wreath, a mini assortment of quiches in a variety of flavours, and mini spiced apple tartlets as well as chocolate and orange mince pies. The full Christmas Feast menu can be found at www.avoca.com.

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