Archive for the ‘Gordon Ramsay’Category

Celebrating great dining in Dublin

New Year in Dublin We just returned from Dublin’s New Year’s Festival, celebrated over three days from December 30 through January 1. This was the fourth year of the festival, and the biggest yet. Along with the raucous parade (above), it featured live rock concerts, a Spoken Word Festival of poetry and rap, other music that drew on traditional and classical genres, special museum and gallery shows, and a whole lot of fun.

The Irish know how to celebrate, and it turns out that they have a lot to celebrate year-round with the new Irish cuisine. Ireland has always had the makings of great food — from the sweet vegetables to the succulent meat from animals grazed on its rich green grass to the fish and shellfish from its coastal waters. Now classically trained chefs are embracing their Irish roots and that great Irish provender.

Dining room at Cleaver East in Dublin A case in point is chef Oliver Dunne, who followed up on his Michelin-starred Bon Appétit in Malahide (north of Dublin city center) with Cleaver East (6-8 East Essex Street, Dublin, +353 1 531 3500, It’s inside the Clarence Hotel, just off Wellington Quay on the south bank of the River Liffey in the Temple Bar entertainment district. The hotel is partly owned by Bono and The Edge from the band U2, but to our way of thinking, Dunne is the greater star. He was schooled the old-fashioned way–by cooking in the kitchens of great chefs, including Gordon Ramsay.

Salmon with apple fennel salad at Cleaver East in Dublin When he came home to Ireland to open his own restaurants, Dunne chose to serve simple dishes based on local ingredients in an informal environment. Cleaver East is an Irish interpretation of a bistro. The bar dominates the middle of the room and it’s surrounded on three sides by dining tables, with a few more tables on an upstairs balcony. As big as the bar is, the plates are a far cry from bar food. Dunne is something of a magician. He drew on Irish salmon, crisp apples, and crunchy fennel for a starter that used a touch of lemon and grapefruit to cut the unctuousness of the salmon and give a little bite to the apple-fennel salad.

Great steak at Cleaver East in Dublin He also presented one of the best cuts of beef we’ve enjoyed in a long time — a 7-ounce filet mignon of local beef that had been hung to dry-age for 21 days. It was cooked to a perfect medium rare (as ordered), topped with broiled cherry tomatoes, and accompanied by a cluster of maché. You couldn’t ask for a simpler dish, but it was fit for an Irish king. In keeping with the bistro tradition, he also served a bowl of perfect deep-fried potatoes (“chips” in Ireland, as they are in England).

This being Ireland, after all, you’ll be hearing more about potatoes in future posts.


01 2015

Lake Placid Lodge honors Adirondacks style

Lake Placid Lodge
Rainy weather showed me just how good the rebuilt Lake Placid Lodge really is. I say “rebuilt” because the original 1880s rustic lodge turned 1940s resort hotel burned down in December 2005. An exemplar of the Adirondacks rustic style, it had been a great example of American vernacular vacation architecture. The owners rebuilt, opening in 2008, and I’d put off a visit for fear the new wouldn’t live up to the old. Then Truman Jones — a talented chef I met some years ago when he worked for Gordon Ramsay — took over the kitchen and Cape Air launched 90-minute flights between Boston and Saranac Lake, a half-hour drive from Lake Placid.

It was only raining lightly when I flew up, and the pilot did his best to minimize the Peggy-Sue moments going in and out of weather. It was still raining lightly when I arrived, so I went out in the lodge’s classic style diesel runabout for a quick tour of the lake. Hence the view from the water (above) with plastic over the porches to keep them dry.

Lakeside room at Lake Placid Lodge I was barely settled into my sumptuous lakeside room (two-sided wood-burning fireplace, hand-carved bed, private porch overlooking the lake) when the heavens let loose. The rain didn’t let up for the next two days, which is how I discovered how much I like the lodge and how true it remains to its roots. Rather than go kayaking on the lake or hiking in the woods, I hung around the property and discovered a thousand little craftsmen touches that make the current Lake Placid Lodge a worthy successor to the original.

headshot of Truman Jones With the weather putting a true damper on outdoor activities, the lodge offered an unscheduled cooking lesson (almost always available on request) with chef Jones (left). About a half dozen of us signed up. The menu was lamb two ways with spring vegetables. Morel mushrooms and wild ramps foraged on the lodge property were paired with green peas, fava beans, and cherry tomatoes roasted for 45 minutes in a 250F oven with garlic. The peas, favas, and ramps were all quickly blanched by dipping in boiling water for about 10 seconds, then in ice water. The morels had been carefully scrubbed under running water, then roasted lightly in the oven. Ultimately, Jones simmered the vegetables in some vegetable stock, finishing with a little butter and salt to glaze.

The lamb portion of the lesson was more unconventional. He began with a whole saddle of lamb and demonstrated very slowly how to bone it to separate the two tenderloins next to the spine and then the two loins. He reserved the tenderloins to make tartare, and placed the loins in sealed plastic bags with a little olive oil, thyme, and a few cloves of garlic to cook sous vide to medium-rare. A little carrot purée on the plate (below) gave the food a colorful background.
Lamb and veggies 550


09 2014

Gordon Ramsay in the Powerscourt kitchen

Superchef Gordon Ramsay has 19 restaurants in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Qatar, and the U.S., but only one in Ireland. It’s at the plush Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt outside Dublin, where I visited in the spring when Ramsay was on hand to mark the restaurant’s re-launch.

I have to admit I didn’t know what to expect from the flamboyant TV personality. But Ramsay was on his best behavior and only let an occasional profanity slip, and always with a wink. Perhaps the gracious setting had a mellowing effect, or perhaps the broadcast persona is just that. At any rate, the Powerscourt Estate is truly magical. It was established in 1169 as one of the grand medieval properties forming a defensive ring around Dublin. (See ”The Eyes Have It” in this fall’s Fashion Forum.) The woodlands seem positively Druidic. The 200-room resort, which opened in 2007, was the most expensive hotel project in the history of Ireland, and it reflects the Georgian architecture of the estate’s manor house. Current general manager Massimiliano Zanardi lives for good food and wine and the chance to share both. It is no coincidence that not long after Max arrived, the Gordon Ramsay restaurant changed its focus from formal dining on classical cuisine to relaxed dining on farm-to-fork dishes. Hence the re-launch in May.

Like many of the Gordon Ramsay Holdings operations, the menu is developed by Ramsay and implemented by a chef de cuisine–in this case a super-talented Peter Byrne, whose previous gig lasted more than seven years at Chapter One, the Michelin-starred restaurant at the Dublin Writers Museum. Byrne knows the farmers and the shepherds and the foragers of the County Wicklow countryside. Thus the restaurant serves lamb raised less than 20 minutes from the hotel, the vegetables come from an organic farm a 10-minute walk away, and some herbs and mushrooms are foraged on the Powerscourt estate itself.

”I’m from Dublin,” Byrne told me, ”born and raised on the flavors of the Republic. My main goal is to keep the food fairly simple and focus on the natural flavors.” It’s a radical idea in a country that has always had wonderful bounty and seemed intent on spoiling it by overcooking or over-fancying the dishes.

Veteran showman that he is, Ramsay couldn’t resist giving some cooking lessons for the attendees at the re-launch dinner. He certainly made it all seem a lot easier than on an episode of Hell’s Kitchen. I was particularly taken with the ease–and great taste–of his simple dish of scallops with spring vegetables. The West Cork sea scallops were so big and meaty that he cut them in half so they would cook in the 3 1/2 to 4 minutes required for a normal sea scallop.

Here’s my adaptation of that recipe:


Serves 2 as an appetizer or lunch

This is adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s recipe for West Cork scallops that he prepared for the re-launch of Gordon Ramsay at Powerscourt earlier this year. He used fresh spring peas and mushrooms, but with a few substitutions, I found that I can make the dish all year. I use frozen baby peas, for example, and dried morel mushrooms rehydrated in vegetable stock. Ramsay serves the dish with broad beans, but baby limas are a good North American substitute. Pea tendrils, fortunately, are available year-round, though watercress makes a fine substitute.

Pea purée
1 tsp butter
2 scallions, sliced thin
1 cup tender young peas
vegetable stock

To make the pea purée, sweat scallions in butter until soft, add peas, a little vegetable stock and simmer until the vegetables are tender (3-4 minutes). Purée in a blender until smooth, then set aside and keep warm.

1 cup baby lima beans
vegetable stock
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup morel mushrooms
1 teaspoon butter
1 cup pea tendrils

Steam baby limas in vegetable stock until tender (5-7 minutes). Set aside and keep warm.

Heat oil in small sauté pan. Add morels and sauté a few minutes. Add butter and a little vegetable stock to keep moist. Set aside and keep warm.

10 scallops (for two plates)
salt and white pepper
vegetable oil

Season the scallops on both sides with salt and white pepper. Place a non-stick pan on medium high heat. Once hot, add 1 teaspoon of oil and the scallops. Let the scallops caramelize for a couple of minutes on the first side. Turn them over, add a knob of butter to the pan and finish cooking the scallops in the butter foam for 1-2 minutes.

To assemble the dish, place a spoon of pea purée in the middle of the plate, place the scallops, lima beans, and morels around and garnish with the pea shoots.


11 2011