One of the highlights of the week was a pop-up dinner hosted by Lough Erne Resort which took place in the impressive surroundings of the recently refurbished Enniskillen Castle. Needless to say, I was thrilled to be invited to the dinner and along with the other guests was treated to a truly delicious meal devised by Noel McMeel, Lough Erne’s charismatic and talented Executive Head Chef.
The meats were outstanding and included Pat O’Doherty Braised Pork Belly (heavenly with the Spiced Apple Chutney by Erin Grove Preserves), a fabulous Corned Beef & Cabbage and Tedford’s Potted Ham but for me the standout dish of this first course was the Keenan’s Whiskey Cured Irish Salmon with Crispy Capers. The curing process had tenderised the top-quality salmon so that it literally melted in the mouth. Accompanying the seafood and meats were some of Noel McMeel’s signature breads from Lough Erne Resort including a wonderful Curry Bread. Rocket Salad and an Orchard Baby Beets & Apple Salad completed this spread.
|Whiskey cured Salmon|
The meal finished with another seemingly simple but delectable dish of Fermanagh Strawberries, Chantilly Cream and a buttery Shortbread Biscuit. Too many chefs tend to overcomplicate dishes and in my opinion the sign of a great chef is one who knows when to reign in these tendencies and who recognises when great ingredients should be allowed to speak for themselves. This takes skill and a true love of the produce being used. Noel McMeel is lucky in that he has a bountiful local larder to choose from but he is also a chef who understands the beauty of the ingredients that he uses. I thoroughly enjoyed this meal and I look forward with great anticipation to the rest that Northern Ireland’s Year of Food & Drink has to offer.