As most of you know myself and herself went back to the homeland for Christmas which was great. It’s not always easy to get back to see my family but when we do it’s always fun. Lots of cooking, eating, drinking, eating and a little eating on the side. My folks actually commented on how much I eat, which I don’t think is over the top but I guess seven times a day could seem a little much. What can I tell you?I love food, which is lucky for me since I also love to cook.
Whenever I travel I like to try and eat in a few restaurants just to see what people are doing. For this past New Years Eve we went to the little fishing town of Dingle on the west coast with my sister and her boyfriend. This is actually where I had my first cooking job when I finished Ballymaloe so I know it well but it was my first time partaking in the NYE craic, which is supposed to be off the hook (as the kids say). Now eating in Ireland can be tricky if you’re a vegetarian like my missus but throwing a vegan, my sis, into the mix? Well that’s just frowned upon. Fortunately my sister organized the restaurant so she could make sure she got something to eat that wasn’t just carrots and potatoes. We went to The Chart House, which according to the owner was celebrating their twelfth New Years. That in itself is pretty good for a restaurant!
Being a fishing town you’d expect some good quality seafood and you’d be right. (Check out my previous writings about seafood in Dingle.) It’s pretty top notch for those who eat it. But for those who don’t what do you do? I’ll tell you what you do, you find yourself a restaurant owner who takes the time to look up some vegan recipes for his 1 special guest on new years eve. I’ve talked before about the deterioration of customer service in some industries but I haven’t really found many, if any, I’d single out for being superb. This is one! To have a restauranteur take the time to take care of a guest like that was amazing. Christy is more flexible in her diet so they had some vegetarian options for her, which were excellent. To top off a great meal the owner, Jim McCarthy (also our server that evening) only charged the two girls as one. This was customer service at it’s finest and for this to be a restaurant in Ireland made it even more important and significant for me. I’m glad to see that the hospitality industry still has standards in its training.
Aside from the great service the food was damn tasty, too. The bread was freshly baked and vegan! To start I had beet cured carpaccio of salmon followed by locally caught turbot. The salmon was dynamite and home cured to boot. The girls had hummus stuffed portobellos followed by butternut squash and basil risotto, one with cheese one without. Even the vegan version was creamy and delicious.
For dessert we were treated to a foursome of deliciousness. By the end we were fat and happy. It was one of the best meals I’ve had in a while. It was quite memorable and an excellent way to end 2011.
After dinner we bar hopped until the firework show off the pier followed by more bar hopping until countdown. I was pretty amazed at all the people in the streets–thousands of Irish heads including ours, having a blast in a little fishing town. Brilliant like. A wonderful way to ring in 2012. Cheers!