Can The Best Gin in Ireland Really Be Just €24.99 From Aldi?
As Peter Mulryan says, Blackwater Distillery, his craft establishment in Cappoquin, County Waterford, is full of surprises. Not least is the news about their latest release, Boyle’s Gin, named after the Lismore man who did much to advance scientific knowledge some centuries ago.
Boyle’s Gin was named Best Gin at the Irish Whiskey Awards a few weeks ago on Thursday, 27 October. This truly exceptional London dry gin (the name refers to the manner of production, not geography) was created for Aldi who are selling it for €24.99. Other small batch craft gins in Ireland retail for €50 for the same 70cl bottle so it seems that Blackwater and Aldi Ireland have put the cat among the pigeons.
I was lucky enough to taste this gin during its development and I can say that I think it’s utterly delicious. I think it’s almost too good for tonic (but if you must, use Fever-Tree); neat with a little water or as a gin martini is the way to go.
In addition to the keen citrus edge from lemon and lime peel the botanicals that deliver its unique flavour profile include the more conventional juniper, coriander and angelica but there’s much more to Boyle’s than that. The fruity notes are down to Wexford blackcurrants and rare native Irish apple varieties, balanced by further local elements such as wild elderflower and rose hips with a final seasoning of pink peppercorns.
In Aldi Ireland stores from Sunday 30 October 2016
Mark Moriarty Pops Up at Pichet
It’s just as well that Mark Moriarty, already a legend in culinary circles, has youth on his side. Consider the following itinerary which I quote froma recent press release:
“As the San Pellegrino World Young Chef of the Year, Mark... embarked on an international pop-up tour that saw him cook in London, Milan, Alta Badia, Melbourne, Sydney, Charleston, Singapore, Pasteum, Paris, Lugano, Moscow, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Hong Kong and finally, Dublin.”
I don’t even know where some of those places are but I do know that Mark Moriarty is that very rare thing, a great chef who is touched by genius. And the good news is that he is popping up right back here in Dublin on 20 November when he cooks for the Friends of Pichet (a brilliant initiative by this now iconic restaurant that has completely reinvented itself during the past year).
Mark started cooking at the age of fifteen (always a good sign) when he worked his Summer holidays at one of my favourite down-to-earth restautrants, The Chart House in Dingle. He later went on to cook with Kevin Thornton and with Michael Viljanen at The Greenhouse in Dublin.
Having been UK and Ireland Young Chef of the Year in 2015 he went on to be named the San Pellegrino World Young Chef of the Year in Milan for his signature dish celeriac baked in barley and fermented hay, cured and smoked celeriac, toasted hay tea. The jury including Massimo Bottura, Grant Achatz, Joan Roca and Yannick Alleno. (Yannick lectured me on wine to the point of coma one night in Morocco but that’s another story).
The six course menu to be served on 20th November will cost €80 per person and four courses have already been announced:
Salmon smoked in hay, parsley, mayonnaise and frozen horseradish
Celeriac baked in fermented barley and hazelnut
Scallop, roast chicken, artichoke and citrus
Short rib of beef ‘rossini’, bone marrow and Béarnaise
For more information and bookings go to pichet.ie
A Particularly Good Mushroom Soup
To mark the decline of the mushroom season, here’s a recipe for a soup I made with a generous batch of hedgehog mushrooms (Hydnum repandum) but I suspect it will be just as good made with ceps or field mushrooms. The nutmeg really does bring quite a lot to the party.
a large knob of butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk of celery, finely sliced
1 small clove of garlic, smashed
another large knob of butter
400g hedgehog or other meaty wild mushroom, chopped roughly
500ml stock, ideally chicken
250g full fat milk
150ml double cream
nutmeg for grating
Melt the butter in a generously proportioned saucepan and throw in the onion and celery. Sweat them until soft, but not browned, over a low heat for as much a ten minutes. Then add the garlic and stir for a minute or two before adding another large knob of butter.
When this has melted, add the mushrooms and turn the heat up – not full, but you want to cook the mushrooms through which will take at least five minutes. If they start to brown slightly, that’s fine.
At this stage add the stock, raise the heat and bring to the boil. Then simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Now add the milk and blitz the contents of the saucepan thoroughly with a hand-held blender.
Stir in the cream and add as much salt and black pepper as you wish. Finally, grate in a little nutmeg just before serving. A few snipped chives will emphasise or relieve the profound beigeness of this dish, depending on your point of view.
If feeling particularly decadent, a spoonful of whipped cream can be added to each bowl as it departs for the table.
It's very good with a dry Amontillado (and a bit of dry Amontillado in it is very good too).
My Conversion to “Natural” Wine
Here’s a wine that – thanks to Pascal Rossignol – has opened my eyes to “natural” wines, wines that are made with minimal intervention, even minimal technology. To be honest, I loved the label but then I was seduced by the sheer exuberance of this Loire Gamay from the Puzelat brothers. It’s called Vin Rouge, Vin de France Clos du Tue-Boeuf and it costs €18.85 from leceaveau.ie.
If you want to know more about my adventures in natural and organic wines, here’s a piece from my recent wine column.