TOASTING NEW BEGINNINGS Pictured during the Quay Cottage’s first Food and Wine Feast are John Wison (Searsons Wine Merchants and The Irish Times), Pascal Soaul (Quay Cottage), Michel Nagy (chef ) and Kirstin McDonagh (proprietor).?Pic: Frank Dolan
Quay Cottage serves up a feast
The Quay Cottage at Westport Quay, which recently re-opened under its original management (Kirstin MacDonagh), ran the first of many planned Food and Wine Feast evenings on Thursday, October 25. The four-course taster-menu formula, which includes wine and talks by well-known food and wine personalities, was a winning one. In a modern take on an old adage, it proves that if you build it – and make sure it’s high quality but good value – they will come.
The evening, a seat at which costs just €40, was hosted by John Wilson, wine expert and columnist with The Irish Times. At the start of each course, John gave a small talk on each of the different wines that were served, sharing details about their origin and why they were chosen to accompany the food. All of the wines were from the Luigi Bosca estate in Mendoza, Argentina.
The menu, for this writer, was certainly full of new tastes. First up was a familiar favourite though, seabass. Served on a slate, it was perfectly poached and accompanied by ‘tagliatelle of vegetables and vanilla essence’. The dish was accompanied by a glass of Finca la Linda Chardonnay 2012 from Argentina – a lovely, fruity unoaked wine that would prompt anyone in the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) Club to rethink their membership.
Next up was more of a challenge – seared pigeon breast. Now, I’m not a big fan of game, and having never eaten pigeon before, was more than a little sceptical. Borderline anxious actually. However, it was – no word of a lie – absolutely delicious. Generously seasoned, it was served with a gorgeous wild-mushroom duxelle and artichoke puree and truffle oil. The wine for this course was a robust, full-bodied Argentinean Malbec Reserva 2010, which cut through the strong flavours nicely.
The third course was yet another challenge for me – more game. Medallions of venison, served with boulangère potatoes, a red berry and Grand Marnier sauce and a butternut squash puree. I have to confess that it was a little on the rare side for me, but it was tasty. Moreover, I was surrounded by lovers of the meat, and I can deduce from their many appreciative noises and complimentary descriptions, that this was venison at the top of its game. (Sorry.)
This course was served with another pleasant Malbec – Malbec DOC Vistalba Vineyard 2008. With aromas of berries and plums, this one was more delicate than the previous wine, and it went well with the meat. It was also the perfect accompaniment to the brie, which came after the venison.
For dessert, we were served a mouthwatering dark-chocolate tart, and a rich Malbec-based blend, a Gala 1 Malbec, Petit Verdot, Tannat 2009. Its lingering vanilla tones were a nice reminder of the vanilla flavours of the menu’s first dish.
The atmosphere during the night was great – the room reverberated warmly with the hubbub of conversation, and everyone enjoyed John Wilson’s insights, all of which were informative, accessible (no elitist wine talk here) and sprinkled with humour. Chef Michel Nagy was cajoled out of the kitchen towards the end of the night, and he received a tremendous round of applause from the room for his efforts.
For foodies and wine lovers the Quay Cottage’s Food and Wine Feast nights are definitely worth keeping an eye out for – and the good news is that Kirsten is hoping to run one every month, with different menus and speakers every time.
For more information on The Quay Cottage and its events, visit www.facebook.com/QuayCottage.ie.