"John Blake Dillion's Table" was the theme of the Burren Food Trail's "Long Table Dinner" on Thursday, July 19th. John Blake Dillion was an Irish revolutionary and part of the Young Ireland rebellion. Long Table Dinners are community dining experiences with a fascinating history in food, art and cinema. They have been embraced by the food world as a way to bring people together to discover new ideas.
The menu for this dinner, loosely based on foods eaten in Dillion's 19th century Ireland, was extensive and the food was fabulous. The dinner was held at Burren Fine Wine & Food, an intriguing food lovers stopover at the foot of Corkscrew Hill. The charming little cafe and wine store is owned by Cathleen Connole, who organized the event and helped with the cooking.
The kitchen of Burren Fine Wine & Food produced one of the tastiest of the many appetizers of the evening. It was a square of salmon which had been cured and then roasted, topped with Irish trout caviar garnished with dillisk and pickled vegetables.
The extremely talented chef Robbie Macauley who runs the kitchen at Gregan's Castle right down the road also pitched in on the cooking. If you haven't dined at Gregan's Castle, or had one of their incredibly elaborate Afternoon Teas, then put it on your bucket list.
Chef Macauley borrowed the jumbo outdoor grill from the Burren Art School and burned down a pile of ash wood in it. There he finished some Kilshanny lamb shoulder roasts on the grill--later he threw aluminum foil packages of hake wrapped up with shore vegetables directly onto the smoldering coals.
Beforehand, there was a traditional Irish Music performance. Flaggy Shore summer oysters were served with champagne and a selection of wines including a lovely Viognier. (These are great oysters, but they taste a lot better in months with a R.)
Another appetizer, "Clare Rabbit Sausage Rolls with Pickled Apple and Mustard" were very popular with the crowd.
The gorgeous little savory pastries were described by Chef Macauley as "posh sausage rolls."
The pulled lamb and hake in foil entrees were served family style alongside a stunningly beautiful salad surrounding a bowl of lentil hummus.
A cheese board was loaded with a slice from a St. Tola ash-covered goat cheese log, Cratloe Hills and Burren Gold cheeses and Hazel Wood's wonderful crackers.
There was a stirring talk about the exploits of Irish revolutionary John Blake Dillion to bring home the theme and ponder Irish HIstory.
For dessert, the Linhalla Ice Cream folks served cones from their trailer outside. Inside, three different trifles were served from giant glass bowls. "Granny's Sherry Trifle," prepared by Cathleen Connole took us back to the origins of the dessert, while Robbie Macauley's fruity fresh berry trifle was a modern take of the old classic.
Tickets for The Burren Food Trail's September Long Table event can be purchased through their website www.burren.ie/events/