When Expedia asked me about my favourite places to eat around Ireland, a lederhosen-bedecked part of me could hear Julie Andrews singing about a few of her favourite things in an alpine, Sound of Music setting. Not that I’m about to burst into song or – worse, still – parade about in lederhosen, but you might indulge me, all the same, if I wax just a bit lyrical on the subject of favoured spots for supping.
If the entry for Earth in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was “Mostly harmless,” then my entry – making the rather colossal assumption that I’d have one – would probably read: “Mostly spuds.” However, even if it is (mostly) possible to do so, man – or, in my case, woman – does not live by potato alone, and my favourite food places, inevitably, serve much else besides.
Coming up with a list such as this is always fraught. Through the good offices of this blog, and in being a contributing editor for John and Sally McKennas’ Irish Food Guide, I’ve had the privilege of eating in many fine places indeed, more than I could do justice to here. In the end, the selection below is as much about favourite food people as favourite food places – the one almost invariably determines the other.
W.J. KAVANAGH / L. MULLIGAN GROCER
WJ Kavanagh, Dorset St.
Spuds on the skyline: the view from Dublin’s new city centre rooftop potato patch
It makes for a very different kind of water cooler conversation.
Rows of former water cooler canisters, stacked in pairs, have been re-purposed as potato planters, the lower canisters acting as individual water reservoirs for the ones above, each of which houses a different variety of potato plant. There are 160 varieties in all – sourced from Dave Langford’s heritage potato collection – and which now peep, to varying degrees, above their funky plastic parapets. Stand around these water-vessels-turned-potato-pots for any length of time, especially with Andrew Douglas in the vicinity, and your conversation is likely to be punctuated with words like recycling, upcycling, community, education, employment and urban renewal.
Spuds to make you smile: Mona Lisa potatoes in their Dublin rooftop home
My cup, or should I say, my dinner plate, runneth over.
I had the pleasure, yesterday, of enjoying my second all-potato menu in as many weeks (and yes, I know what you’re thinking – some gals just have all the luck).
The occasion was a cookery demonstration given by Pádraic Óg Gallagher at Gallagher’s Boxty House as part of this weekend’s Temple Bar Trad Fest, and the subject, naturally enough, was boxty, the traditional potato speciality that gives the restaurant its name. And Pádraic, who has run The Boxty House for some 23 years, knows more than most about boxty. His making of boiled, baked and pan versions of same (which have featured on these pages before) was accompanied by a potted history of the spud in Ireland and elsewhere. For the lunch which followed the demo, you could, if you so desired, indulge in boxty for starter, main course and dessert (and for those who persist in thinking that you shouldn’t put potato and dessert in the same sentence, let alone on the same plate, all I can say is don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it).
Boxty on the menu - it's almost as versatile as the spud itself