I have so much I would like to say, or write, but don’t we all. It feels like it has been a long time since the last article. I would love to tell you I have spent that time travelling the world finding wines. I would love to say that I had a wonderful time in Australia, Chile and South Africa. There are many things I would love to say, but saying something isn’t the same as it being true.
I have been doing paperwork since we last spoke and I am one of the lucky people who have their birthday in January, when the whole world want to celebrate. That is sarcasm in case you were wondering. A new batch of New Zealand wines that were due in early December have finally arrived on the boat. They will be open for tasting soon and are at the recession price points. So that’s all the Red Nose News.
One of the advantages to my job is I get to mingle in foodie circles and this allows me to learn from the experts. I had a bit of business in Dublin the week just gone and I said I would take the time to meet up with some friends and business associates. I asked Twitter to recommend a good restaurant in Dublin and a litany of restaurant names came back.
I won’t bore you with the narrative of the tweets, but suffice to say, the overwhelming recommendation from food critics, chefs, radio personalities and ‘normal’ people was a new Italian restaurant on Georges Street. The table was booked and San Lorenzos was to get a visit from the Tipperary Twitterati.
I am not a food critic, but for this article I will pretend that I am. Here is my review of this Northern / Southern Italian restaurant in a New York style, or at least that is my understanding of the style. The official line is “Modern Italian New York Style Restaurant serves intensely original food with a north and south Italian mix”.
There were three of us, all men and we were hungry. I work in the wine business and the other two work in the food industry. I won’t name them ahead of the post dinner paragraphs to follow. We must protect the innocent. Suffice to say, we were a tough crowd to please.
The starters were fresh, adventurous and created a perfect platform for what was to come. I had buffalo mozzarella that was so fresh I could almost hear the bison out the back. It was part of a salad that had an incredible balsamic infused oil. Probably the highlight of the starters was the Porchetta and pork belly. The pork expert at the table told me that this is very difficult to get right. He licked his plate.
The mains were even better and I had “8hrs Chianti slow cooked short rib of beef w/ truffled soft polenta, roast root vegetable.” It fell off the bone and it was a taste sensation. It really was a wonderfully inventive dish from a cheap cut of meat. Yum Yum and more Yum. I’d love to tell you how the other diners fared but at this point all three of us had our heads down and we were very focused on our meals. The silence at the meal and post dinner talk confirmed that they were all excellent.
I rarely have three courses, but such was the delicacy of touch in the cooking, I found I had space for the Dark chocolate & frangelico pot. Pure hedonism but once again, the lightness of touch was very evident. Incidentally, the coffee was proper Italian coffee and it rounded off a sublime meal. The wine was a delicious Corbieres from the south of France and the whole meal, 3 courses, coffee and wine came to €50 a man.
I am no food critic but I am giving San Lorenzos top marks. Don’t give out to me if you go and the dishes I described are not available. They change the menu on a regular basis. They also do a Sunday brunch which looked superb, and very well priced. Go now before it becomes trendy and impossible to get into. You can stay across the road in the Central Hotel (which has been refurbished) for as little as €50 a room.
After this culinary delight, we took to the mean streets of Dublin and found our way into a few famous watering holes. McDaids, O’Neills and an unnamed late bar were all visited. The late bar is also a nightclub and was once quite famous. It was a sad sight and we didn’t last long in there but instead headed up to the FitzWilliam Hotel, to avail of their generous residents bar.
We ended up meeting a celebrity chef, who knew one of the party, and we ended up having one too many drinks with him. What was even more distracting was the queue of teenage girls we had to get through to get into the hotel. The boyband One Direction were staying there after their concert and they attracted all manner of noisy teenagers.
They had been introduced to our famous chef, and we ended up in their company into the small hours of the evening. Once I put this on Twitter, I received a barrage of requests for photos from what I thought were sensible adults. They all wanted a picture of a chap called Harry. The few groupies who got in seemed to be falling at this Harry chap’s feet, so I wasn’t about to interrupt him.
My feelings on the X Factor and that kind of music is well documented so without being rude, I decided to ignore the ‘band’ and see if I could talk wine with the famous chef, and get selling into his famous restaurant. I still hope to do this, so I won’t name and shame him. I will say he was a very nice guy and due to the fact that non residents (i.e. me ) could not buy a drink for cash, I owe him about three pints. A nice bottle of wine will have to do.
So that’s it. It has been mostly paperwork but I did get one night away in our capital. The train was ridiculously expensive but the hotel, the food and the company were great value. Maybe the next time Bob Dylan will be waiting in the FitzWilliam residence bar. I think my head would explode.