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Paradiso closed August Bank Holiday Monday · 2 August 2014

The restaurant and rooms will be closed this coming bank holiday, Monday 4th August.


As part of the Real Wine month being run by Le Caveau wine merchants, Paradiso is hosting a special five-course dinner on Monday 28th April. Each course will focus on pairing a star local and seasonal ingredient with a natural wine.

The menu is a very exciting work-in-progress that will be posted closer to the day, so all I’ll say for now is that we expect to be able to bring you Gortnanain asparagus and artichokes as well as a special selection of Ballyhoura mushrooms, amongst other delights.

The evening will be just one sitting with a 7pm kick-off and is priced at €60 for dinner and matching wines. Tickets are limited and can be booked only by calling the restaurant on 021 4277939.

So, what is a ‘natural’ wine anyway, I hear you ask? One simple definition, from the Le Caveau website, is that natural wines are made from organic or biodynamic grapes with minimal intervention in the winery. Perhaps that suggests a step on from the ‘organic’ and ‘biodynamic’ wines of recent decades, where the philosophy of ‘natural’ is taken further, from the vineyard into the winery, with less refining and additives.

Luckily, we will have Pascal Rossignol of Le Caveau on hand in Paradiso on Monday 28th to talk about natural wines in general and to guide us through the wines he has chosen for the evening. His company has a fabulous selection of hand-picked wines from small producers, many of them biodynamic and natural, and Pascal will be bringing along five to taste on the night.

Get to the telephone if you haven’t already…021 4277939.

Paradiso is 20! · 24 October 2013

Paradiso first opened its doors twenty years ago, way back in October 1993 when the celtic tiger was an innocent wee glint in a property developer’s eye, and opening a restaurant wasn’t really the most sensible way to go about making a living. It’s been an incredible ride so far, and one that doesn’t feel half done yet. Even now, Paradiso still feels more like a new kid on the block than the institution it has become. We’re immensely proud of the achievements along the way, the awards and recognition, the books published, milestones ticked off and obstacles overcome. Mostly, we’re proud of the standards we’ve set for ourselves, maintained and improved, and for continuing to put quality of food and service first. This is mostly down to the incredible dedication of the people who work here, now and in the past. We’re honoured by the relationships we’ve built up with suppliers, growers and producers, and with the customers whose support, curiosity and love of good food has pushed us all the time to be the best we can be.

We’ve been celebrating during this month of October with events like Free Tuesday, giveaways of overnight packages, vouchers, books and random pouring of prosecco, and we’ll continue with occasional and spontaneous celebrations right through the coming year. And we’ll be celebrating best by simply continuing to do what we do. Sure, they say the first twenty years is the hardest.

Budget wine duty increase · 18 October 2013

This year’s budget added a further 50 cent government duty to every bottle of wine imported into the country. In Paradiso, we will be adding that 50c when our suppliers add it to our invoices. No hiding it, no pretending to ‘absorb’ it for a short while, and definitely no multiplying it. Here’s why:-

What we learned from last year’s budget increase in duty of €1 was that the old system of marking up wine was broken, redundant in a price-conscious climate where the government is likely to impose more regular increases. That old pricing system involved taking the cost of a bottle, including all of its duty and taxes, and multiplying it by whatever the in-house multiplier happens to be. Multiplier numbers vary widely across the industry, and the issue isn’t whether specific multipliers are fair or not; it’s simply that continuing to multiply duties and taxes makes no sense. We set out our stall in detail last January.

Basically, as the amount of duty on each bottle increases year on year, a system that multiplies that increasing number passes on more cost than is necessary. Over time, it can only become ridiculous. In January 2013 we switched to a wine pricing system that adds a flat rate to the cost of every bottle. Therefore, if the supplier’s price goes up by 50c then our retail price will too, while our profit figure remains the same. Because we don’t multiply the taxes.

Besides, government taxes and duties aren’t the only things that change the cost of wine during a year. Many wines change price when a new vintage of a brand comes in; or a supplier may offer discounts or withdraw them. The increase or decrease should be passed on, but it shouldn’t need to be multiplied. We believe that our flat-rate mark-up system is fairer, and becomes more so with each new tax increase. And we’re confident that it reflects the best approach to give real value for the customer, the more so as you go up the price range of the wine list.

Wine Geese dinner in Paradiso, May 28th, with Cullen Wines · 15 April 2013

As part of the Bringing the Wine Geese Home Gathering series of events, we are delighted to announce that Emma Cullen of Cullen Wines in Margaret River, Australia will showcase thier wines at a special dinner in Paradiso on Tuesday 28th May.

Cullen Wines are renowned not only for their sophisticated quality but also for the philosophy behind their production, being produced on a certified biodynamic, carbon neutral and naturally powered estate. Rest assured, the Paradiso kitchen will be cooking up a storm to match these wines through a multi-course meal.

This will be a single sitting dinner event with limited availability, and booking is essential. Tickets, at €65 for dinner and accompanying wines, can be booked by calling the restaurant on 021 4277939.


Denis Cotter at the Ballymaloe Literary Festival · 28 March 2013

There are a lot of food festivals popping up these days, but this one might be a bit special – the inaugural Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine. As their tagline says, “this new festival will bring some of the world’s best known chefs, critics, commentators, kitchen gardeners, foragers and wine experts to East Cork”. Now, those words might get you excited or they might make you want to go see the extended version of Dr. Zhivago in russian…but, hang on…check out the list of speakers and the programme: – litfest.ie/programme-friday/ – this is a truly impressive line-up of international writers.

I’ll be there on Saturday afternoon from 4.30pm til cocktail hour, in the Blue Dining Room, leading what is billed as a literary conversation with the title of ‘for the love of food’. I’m not entirely certain yet, but I think I’m going to seize the opportunity to talk about my four books, each one’s different style and approach to food, the inspirations behind the words and recipes of each, and some never before revealed behind the scenes gossip (sort of).

To make sure the conversation is truly literary, and even that it is a conversation rather than a monologue, I’d appreciate it if some of you would come along with questions, opinions and prompts.

As an illustration of how spectacular is the line-up for the weekend, instead of chatting with me in that time slot on Saturday afternoon, you could be at a demo by Claudia Roden, having tea with Mrs. Allen or Skye Gyngell, or hearing Joanna Blythman tell about ‘digesting unsavoury truths’. BUT…listen up and don’t spread this around too much…only in the Blue Room will there be card tricks (possibly), musical interludes (unlikely) and raffles for dinner in Cafe Paradiso (definitely).


A new approach to pricing and pouring wine · 25 January 2013

As promised in the wake of the December budget that added €1 to the government duty on wine, we spent January dismantling not only our wine list but our approach to buying and selling wine. A lot of time was spent on analysing wine sales over the past couple of years, and a lot more on thinking about just exactly what it is that people want from a wine list.

The second question led us to this conclusion: a useful list isn’t about size or length; it’s more important that it offers a wide choice of wine styles that work well with the food; and it should allow the customer access to the entire list even if they don’t feel like drinking a whole bottle. More wines by the glass?…why not all wines by the glass?…why not all wines in more measures than glass and bottle?

So we installed a system that keeps opened bottles in perfect condition. Then we changed the measures on offer to these – a medium sized glass of 150ml, a little “quartino” carafe of 250ml, the classic “mezza” half-litre, and of course the full 750ml bottle. Next, we re-wrote the list to offer every wine in all of these sizes.

Wines at Cafe Paradiso. Photo: Jörg Köster

Along the way, we looked hard at every wine on the old list, dumped (or drank) a few monsters that were hanging around doing nothing and got in some very exciting new stars. There’s a link to the new list below, but please read on for a few minutes more, there’s even better news…

Back to the thing that first kicked off the process – government duties, taxes, and the cost of wine. It’s irrelevant now whether the duty increase was justified or not, the issue for us is about what happens after that. The classic system of pricing wine is to multiply the cost price, and that involves multiplying all the duty and the tax on that duty. As duty and taxes go up and up, this is looking like an archaic method. Also, on paper at least, the higher cost wines are multiplied into very high selling prices, making them very profitable indeed. Except that in recent years they mostly just sat there on the rack. The ‘profit’ was largely notional.

As is usual with statistics, we learned what we already instinctively knew – that the vast majority of our wine sales have been in the ‘by the glass’ and ‘wine of the month’ price range or just above. Most of those bottles have been giving us roughly the same actual margin, and the occasional sale of higher priced bottles with on-paper bigger margins makes little real difference to our turnover or profit.

The sensible conclusion is this: applying the real margin that we previously made on lower priced wines to ALL wines will make a huge change to the accessibility of the entire list, while changing very little about our how much we make on wine sales.

As of now and going forward, we won’t be multiplying anything, instead simply adding a flat sum to the cost of every bottle, whether that cost be €10 or €50. The result will be locked-down value on all of our wines, and seriously good value the higher up the wine chain you drink.

This isn’t an act of charity. Rather, it is a realisation that blindly using the standard system doesn’t serve us – or you – well any more. It may even be that by removing two of the barriers that make people nervous of straying up the wine list, i.e. the scary margins and bottle-only pricing, we may very well sell more wine.

Most importantly, we’re going to enjoy having an entire list of wines that we love open for you. Have fun with it.

As promised, here’s the new list, new prices, new measures.

December wines of the month · 7 December 2012

We have two very special wines of the month for December, to match the celebratory food of the season.

But first, it’s impossible to even mention wine without commenting on the huge increase to the already crippling government duties announced in the recent budget. The increase comes into force immediately. However, we have decided to absorb the cost for now and maintain our wine prices at current levels until after the Christmas period. In the new year, we will look at every aspect of our purchasing and costing of wines with the aim of being able to carry on offering unique and wonderful wines at the best possible prices. As with every aspect of the business now, just because they keep making it harder doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

Now, to those fabulous wines of the month:-

The red comes from the good folks at Liberty Wines and is a valpolicella ripasso made by the Alpha Zeta winery near Verona in Italy. Rich, concentrated and smoothly full-bodied with intense cherry flavours, it goes down a treat with winter food.

From Wines Direct, we have Atlantik Albarino from the prestigious Bodegas Fillaboa in the Rias Baixas region of Galicia in the north east of Spain. This is one of the finest examples of the increasingly popular albarino, crisp and mouthwatering with lingering apple, almond and lime flavours, and described by one writer as being a handcrafted, wickedly piquant wine’. Perfect food wine.


New season olive oil on the table now · 27 November 2012

We’ve got a small supply of a very fine example of brand new, hot off the presses fresh olive oil. This one is from the Capezzana estate, north west of Florence in Tuscany, an estate that has been producing olive oil for literally thousands of years but which is bang up to date with its modern production methods and style of oil.

For those of you with an appetite for information on what you’re eating, here are some notes – courtesy of Liberty Wines – on the growing and processing history of the bottles of oil we’ve just received:

Olive trees in this area, close to the most northern frontier of olive
cultivation, produce less than one tenth of the quantity produced
by those in milder, more southerly climes. This oil is made primarily
from Moraiolo. This is an early ripening variety, so the olives tend to
be blacker when picked resulting in softer, fruitier oils. The estate
has 140 hectares of olive groves with 26,000 trees.

Spring was very wet and at the beginning of April it snowed with
temperatures close to zero. The cool temperatures inhibited
flowering of the earlier ripening Moraiolo variety especially at the
low altitudes. The last rain of any significance (30mm) was on 13th
June and was followed by a long dry, hot spell. Fortunately, on 28th
August 28mm of rain fell, saving production. In September it
continued to rain sporadically, providing enough water for the crop
to ripen. The olives harvested were beautiful – healthy, ripe and
fleshy. Harvest started a week earlier than usual on 15th October.

Capezzana has recently improved its technique for olive oil
production to obtain a fruitier oil with lower levels of oleic acid. In
Extra Virgin olive oil, the level of oleic acid must not exceed 0.8%
(Capezzana’s rarely reaches 0.2%). This is achieved by picking early
and processing the olives within 12 hours. Ultra modern, stainless
steel continuous presses are used. Most experts agree that this
method of pressing results in fresher, cleaner oils that retain their
colour and fruitiness for a longer period of time as oxidation has
been prevented. The oil is then settled in a mixture of terracotta
‘orci’ (urns) and stainless steel vats before bottling.

Vivid bright green in colour, the Capezzana oil is remarkably
elegant and delicate. It is soft and fruity in style, with a touch spice.
It is perfect for drizzling over freshly baked bread and for dressing

VAT increase January 2012 · 3 January 2012

The top VAT rate increases from 21% to 23% from the 1st January 2012 and in the restaurant business that means a small increase in the price of wine, beer, soft drinks etc. However, Cafe Paradiso will be absorbing this increase so our prices going into 2012 remain untouched by the December budget.

2011 was a tough but good year for Cafe Paradiso, one during which we worked hard to offer a good balance between quality and value, and we will be taking that same attitude into 2012.

Besides, the last thing we would want to do is discourage our customers from having a glass or three with dinner.

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Food&Wine Dinner · 15 September 2011

Last Monday, the 12th September, we hosted a dinner for Food&Wine magazine, a showcase event you might call it. We’re always a bit nervous about getting involved with things like that, our natural instinct being to just let them pass by and carry on doing what we do day by day, week by week and season by season. But there was something irresistible about the timing of this one, given that it gave us a chance to do a showcase dinner at a prefect time of the growing season. Well, it would have been perfect if the summer that never happened wasn’t one of the weirdest growing seasons in recent memory. Still, it hit a couple of unpredictable highs. One was the artichokes. I’ve written here before about Ultan Walsh’s artichokes, particularly when he moved his crop from one part of the field to another in 2010.

Well, that smart idea went up the Swanee when the ferocious winter killed off most of the plants. Undaunted, Ultan decide to get better, feistier seed and, in an act of ferocious faith, planted an even bigger area of artichokes last Spring. Here’s a thing about artichokes I didn’t know, or knew but forgot – the first year you plant them they crop in late summer, then subsequently revert to being spring vegetables. Honestly, you’d have to be a dedicated farmer to keep up with that kind of carry-on, so it’s as well we have one on board. Chefs can hardly figure out what’s going on in the next five minutes, so it’s as well someone else is managing the source. The upshot of the artichoke transplant and resowing meant we had a supply of beauties through August and September, and Food& Wine caught the last of the picking.

We braised the artichokes in white wine and stock and served them with a citrus aioli, mint oil, paprika-flavoured walnut crumb and the first of the autumn crop of borlotti beans from…where else but the mecca that is Gortnanain Farm.

The lucky crowd of forty diners also got the tail-end of the summer squash flower season. For years now, Ultan has been growing various squash plants especially for their flowers for Paradiso, moving from courgettes through a couple of other experiments before settling on a squash whose name I can never hold in my brain for more than five minutes. It’s Italian, bullet-shaped, like an elongated yellow pattypan or scallopini, and it produces the best flowers for cooking – pretty, large, firm and possibly tasting of the sweet nectar of summer sunshine. The miracle is that the plants produce beautiful flowers even in Irish summers. We stuffed them with Knockalara fresh cheese made from summer-grazed sheep’s milk in Cappoquin, fried them in a delicate tempura batter and served them on a little pile of basil-scented scallopini with a sauce that tasted of complex sweet and acidic sunshine but consisted only of sungold tomatoes slowly cooked for hours. Nothing else. I learned that from the man who grows them, add nothing and let them speak for themselves. If ever there was a dish that expressed the beauty of summer in Ireland, it is that one. Plants gather up the precious minutes of warmth and light and make sunshine from scarcity, like children holidaying near windy beaches in Kerry or West Cork.

That was followed by a dish focussed on chanterelle and hedgehog mushrooms gathered on the hills in the Cork-Tipp-Limerick border country by the intrepid forager family headed up by a woman who can only be known by the name of Mary Mushrooms. The long version of the story would take pages, the short version is Mary was at the train station in Cork when she said she would be with the quantity of mushrooms she promised, and wearing a spectacular hat she made herself, probably while waiting for the damn things to grow in this most peculiar of summers. We cooked them in a butter flavoured with reduced cider, cinnamon, nutmeg and a hint of clove, and plopped them over a timbale of potato and the last of the summer chard leaves, with some grilled figs on the side.

The last course was blackberries, was always going to be, given the time of year, a curd tart served with a simple ice cream of buffalo ricotta made by Sean Ferry – he of the legendary Gabriel and Desmond cheese – with milk from Johnny Lynch’s‘s herd of buffalo near Macroom. Buffalo in Macroom? Why not, it’s rebel country, no better place for them.

For the kitchen, and the dining room too, it was an interesting and reflective way to spend a Monday night, a way to say this is what we do and this is now, this moment in our work. Tomorrow will be different, and next week it will be autumn, the summer produce gone and so we will have to adjust our minds and our work to new ingredients. Leeks, pumpkins and roots are on the horizon and Paradiso is looking forward to the changes they bring. It was an extra day’s work for everyone involved but one that we all embraced as a way to pass from one season to the next.

Next year, we plan to host similar seasonal tasting dinners at peak times of each season. There will be one special evening in spring, summer, autumn and winter. Keep an eye out here for announcements about dates, or sign up to the mailing list to get advance notice of dates.


Wines of the Month for January · 13 January 2011

We’ve got a couple of lovely Italians in as wines of the month to kick off the new year, both interesting variations on familiar grape varieties.

The white is the cutely named Ciu Ciu Tebaldo 2009 from the Marche region of Italy, a blend of Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. The much derided C-grape brings a lovely buttery, round, mouth-filling character to the melon and peach flavours of pinot grigio, resulting in a wine with enough body and personality to stand up to almost any dish on the menu.

The red is a Salice Salentino 2009 from Masseria Pietrosa in Salento in the south of Italy. As you might expect from a hot climate wine, it has flavours of spiced figs, cocoa and dried fruit in a medium body of confident richness. A bit like drinking alcoholic chocolate-coated raisins, but that comment might have come from someone who had been munching on chocolate-coated raisins on the way to work. If you’re hankering after an Amarone, the rich flavours and long savoury finish of this Salice will deliver all your cravings at half the price. Perfect with winter food and a January budget.

Both wines of the month are priced at €6.50 a glass, €13 for a carafe and €26 a bottle.


Bridgestone 100 Best · 6 January 2011

We are delighted, honoured and tickled pink to be listed in both of John and Sally McKenna’s guide books coming out this month, the Bridgestone 100 Best Places to Eat in Ireland 2011 and the Bridgestone 100 Best Places to Stay in Ireland 2011. True, Paradiso has been listed every year since we opened in 1993, but it’s one listing that really feels like an honour, and one we’ve never taken for granted.

The simple reason for that is that the McKennas are genuinely passionate about food, fiercely independent thinkers, and have an unshakeable belief in the notion that good food is a vital part of the life of the country and of every local economy and culture within it. Every establishment listed in the Bridgestone guidebooks is doing more than cooking nice things to eat, they are actively involved in their local community, supporting small independent producers and creating something that adds to the value of living where they work. Mere menu-writing and paying lip service to fashionable ideas like local sourcing won’t get you in the Bridgestone guidebooks, and you can travel the country armed with the books trusting that the places you visit will be walking the walk more than talking themselves up.

This sense of authenticity and purpose is more important now than ever before, at a time when the shit-blowing fan that is the Irish economy is cranked up to eleven and the restaurant industry comes under huge pressure to survive by finding ways to lower prices in response to customer demand. To be blunt, the easiest way for a restaurant to lower prices is to buy cheaper ingredients, and buying cheaper usually means mass-produced imports, screwing your suppliers or dumping them altogether. It’s vital that in the frenzy for cheaper food we don’t end up killing off the wonderful network of independent producers that has blossomed in Ireland over the last couple of decades. Conscious spending is the key to this, supporting the people and places in your local economy that in turn support local producers and continue to pay them proper prices for their wonderful ingredients.

So grab yourself a copy of the Bridgestone guidebooks, hit the road and enjoy the wonderful food this country is still producing. They’re in the shops now and available from the McKenna’s website.

The other wonderful news from the Bridgestone guidebooks this year is that the Farmhouse B&B run by Paradiso’s vegetable growers, Ultan and Lucy of Gortnanain Farm has been listed in the 100 Best Places to Stay. That’s a massive compliment for both Gortnanain and the people who are tuned in enough to list them.


Streetsmart campaign 2010 · 12 November 2010

The 2010 Streetsmart campaign was launched on Thursday in Cafe Paradiso. We have been participating in this annual event for a few years now, along with other leading restaurants in the city. It’s a simple idea but a very effective one – over the Chrismas period, the participating restaurants add €2 to each bill which is passed on directly and in full to the Simon Community to use in their campaign of support for homeless people in the city.

We have been strong supporters of this campaign since its beginning, believing that it is a wonderful way for restaurants and customers to come together to make a small but meaningful and practical contribution to the plight of homeless people.

This year, nine restaurants are taking part – Blair’s Inn, Cafe Paradiso, Continental Restaurant, Crawford Gallery Cafe, Hardwood Restaurant, Jacques, Les Gourmandises, Robert’s Cove Inn and Star Anise.

Here is a video of John McKenna’s speech at the launch of the campaign, in which he makes an eloquent and inspiring case for taking part in and supporting community based projects.

And a photo from the launch…


Gifts of quince and crab apples · 10 November 2010

Honestly, sometimes people just surprise you. I mean, a few kind words of appreciation for a decent dinner is a lovely thing, you go home smiling and we do too. But this week a couple went beyond the few words and brought us a gift. Two gifts, in fact, and not tied up in ribbons and bows either, but in huge crates, one laden with crab apples and the other with quince. So, big thanks to Roger and Liz for their contribution to our winter storeroom and for a gesture that is genuinely touching.

Geraldine is gleefully taking charge of the fruit, and will be working on them over the weekend to turn them into products that will keep over the winter months. Crab apple jelly makes a lovely spread on breakfast toast, but it also has uses in desserts and salad dressings. And while we have been serving poached quince in salads and desserts for a few weeks already, it’s really cool to get a decent supply of local ones. Some will hopefully be made into membrillo to serve with cheese.

Mind you, it’s tempting not to cook the quince at all. As they sit and wait, their sweet, floral scent is quietly filling the dining room. Which reminds me of a story I often tell when people ask what they should do with quince. A friend had a quince tree that only produced tiny fruit – golfball rather than giant pear size – and he always kept a bowlful in the kitchen, as you would a vase of flowers, for their scent. Because the fruit is so dense and dry, they shrivel very slowly rather than rot, and as they do their fragrance intensifies and lasts for ages. he took to keeping one in his coat pocket too, so that he always had a part of the countryside with him wherever he went. Meeting him on the street, you were as likely to get a “here, smell me quince” as an hello. So, if you want to know what to do with quince, poach the big ones, make jelly of a few more and save a few for the fruit bowl and one for your pocket.


November wines of the month · 7 November 2010

This month’s featured white is from the Crios label in Mendoza, Argentina, distributed by Wines Direct. Made by Susana Balbo from the indigenous Torrontes grape, this 2009 vintage is a wonderful example of how good the grape can be when the wine is properly balanced. Starting with aromas of honey, oranges, quince and elderflowers, you would think from the nose that it is going to be a sweet wine. Then, as a little of the honey/floral/orange follows through on the palate, it is balanced by a good acidity, resulting in a lovely round, medium bodied wine with a slightly savoury aftertaste. Savoury…that’s a good word for it…like a dessert that gradually loses its sweetness so you can go on eating it.

The red, supplied by On The Grapevine, is a more familiar Cote du Rhone, this one from Clos Petite Bellane in, well, France of course. It’s a 2007, classically rich with a slightly spicy nose, it has supple gently crushed fruits on palate – delicious redcurrants and raspberries in a smooth, medium bodied weight with low tannins. A package that makes you go ‘yum!’ if all that other stuff doesn’t spring immediately to mind.

Both wines have enough elegance, character and clout to go really well with rich autumnal flavours and the white also doubles up brilliantly with Asian spicing.

Priced at €26 a bottle, they are both also available by the carafe and glass.


Exciting new wines of the month just in... · 7 October 2010

The wine of the month feature has been humming along quietly for a while now, so maybe it’s time to sing its praises a little bit. Every month, Geraldine picks a couple of new wines that she and her fellow-tipplers of the Paradiso dining room, Aoife and Dave, think work especially well with some of the seasonal dishes on the menu.

This month we’ve taken on a new supplier and to mark the first steps in what we hope will be a wonderful relationship, we’re offering two of their bottles as wines of the month.

The white is Poggiobello Friulano 2009, from Fruili-Venezia in Italy, and according to Geraldine it’s got an almond biscuity nose opening up to white flowers & peaches on the palate, with good acidity on the finish. Now, we all know that can only mean that it’s going to go down beautifully with the beetroot risotto or the just-returning-to-the-menu ‘oyster mushrooms in cider cream on cabbage, leek & chestnut timbale’. Or the classic tofu dish…or the first pumpkin dish of the autumn, a gratin with squash, leeks, hazelnuts, citrus cream and braised borlotti beans.

The red is a classy beast with what I swear Geraldine says is a hint of smoke and autumn leaves, as well as redcurrants, wet tobacco and soft, light tannins. Yes, you’re right, that refined character, grandly titled Bricco dei Guazzi Barbera del Monferrato 2007, from Piemonte, is crying out for a dish of roasted aubergines with a little spice and richness. Try it with the aubergine, leek & haloumi parcels that have just appeared on the dinner menu. I have to admit I’d have that with everything from toast for breakfast to a cream cracker before bed.

Enjoy, and feel free to send feedback, here or on facebook.


Denis Cotter Demo at Donnybrook Fair · 9 September 2010

Denis’ next cookery class – and probably the last one in Ireland this year – will be at the Cookery School at Donnybrook Fair in Dublin on Saturday 18th September. The 3-hour Saturday morning class will be a combination of seasonal Cafe Paradiso favourites and recipes from Denis’ next book, ‘for the love of food’, due to be published in March 2011.

You can find more information and make a booking at the Donnybrook Fair webite


Denis Cotter cookery class at the Tannery · 25 August 2010

Denis will be teaching a full day course at the Tannery Cookery School in Dungarvan on Saturday 11th September. The purpose built space is one of the nicest cookery demonstration environments in the country and class sizes are small, so the experience at a full day course is always intensely informative but relaxed and social at the same time.

This time out, Denis will be demonstrating dishes from the seasonal Cafe Paradiso menu as well as a few from his forthcoming book, due to be published in April 2011.

The class size is limited but there are still places, and you can find out more and make a booking here

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book news coming like buses · 10 July 2010

I’ve been very quiet about this – mostly because for a long time it didn’t seem at all likely to actually happen – but I’ve been working away slowly on a new book for the past couple of years. The first half of that time was spent in ridiculous procrastination about what kind of book it would be, while the publisher probably thought I was going to deliver ‘War and Peace 2 – The Cabbage Years’.

Then I hit on the brilliant idea of doing a recipe book. You know – one of those quaint books with instructions for nice things to make for dinner, and a few useful bits of information about the ingredients and variations you might find useful if you don’t actually have cime di rapa growing in your back garden.

This extraordinary idea was inspired by two things. First, I made something for dinner one night that just completely encapsulated the dual pleasures of making simple food and sharing it with someone you love. You can talk about food all you like but the pleasure of it is in cooking, sharing and, most of all, eating. And that’s the second thing – there’s just so much yak-yak about food these days, so much print and so much talk. By now, all you foodies are shopping consciously, locally and seasonally. You’ve got tomatoes on the apartment balcony and chard in the flower beds. You’ve got more food books beside your bed than in the kitchen. I still have plenty to say about all that stuff but the din of preachers is getting a bit shrill and I hate shouting over a crowd. So it seems like a good time to shut up and make dinner.

This book of simple pleasures will be hitting the bookshelves in March next year. Photography and editing start soon and I’ll try to keep you up to date in my usual diligent way. I can’t tell you the title just yet, hopefully in a week or two.

Up until a week or so ago we – we being me and the entire Harper Collins corporation – couldn’t quite put our fingers on that snappy combination of words that would make the world rush to buy the book. Then it came to me, in a flash of blinding simplicity and obviousness (is that a word?). The reason I can’t tell it to you is because the corporation is mulling it over, passing it up and down the floors and departments of Fulham Palace Road while we await white smoke. If you think my title idea is brilliant – without actually knowing what it is – put a simple yes in the comment box. All votes will be published, good, bad or indifferent.

Meanwhile, book news coming a la buses, the last one – ‘wild garlic, gooseberries…and me’ – is to be published in paperback on the 18th August. It’s got a lovely pink cover and a giveaway price, so even if you’ve got it already you’ll probably want to buy a stack of them to give as casual gifts. Here’s a link to the Harper Collins page where you can get a sneak preview of the cover – www.harpercollins.co.uk…

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