Cod, wild mushrooms and verbena at LOAM in Galway
The cod was perfectly cooked and the mushrooms were intriguing, but it was the tart verbena sauce (it's the green puddle under the fish) that made this dish remarkable. Lemon verbena is common in Irish gardens, it's popular for tea and as a flavoring for a pitcher of water. I'm not sure which variety of verbena award-winning chef Edna McEvoy used for the sauce.
There are over a thousand varieties of verbena in the plant world, some are cultivated as flowers, some as herbs. My favorite, is Mexican oregano (Lippia graveolens). I have seen it growing wild along the Rio Grande River on the border between Texas and Mexico. It is essential for a good pot of chili and not to be confused with Mediterranean oregano (Origanum vulgare).
The cod dish was one of the stand-outs on Loam's 9-course tasting menu the evening I stopped by. Squid, shitake and egg; cabbage, oyster and kelp; and duck, beetroot and radicchio were a few of the other courses that night.
Loam is a Michelin one star restaurant that was founded in 2014. In May 2019, Loam was voted ‘Best Restaurant in Ireland’ by the Restaurants Association of Ireland. Edna McEvoy, was voted best chef in Ireland at the 2016 Irish Restaurant Awards