Friday, July 23, 2010

Soups of the World -Dublin

Dublin. A city that I'd heard of of course, but didn't really know anything much about. Until a wonderful opportunity came up to spend a week there. Visiting a friend, sightseeing, and eating some soup. Dublin was a lovely city to visit, although we did have the best week of weather that it has ever had apparently- didn't rain once! I'm looking forward to going back sometime (soonish hopefully).

My first Dublin soup was a lovely cream of white onion with basil pesto. An unusual combination I thought, not one that I'd had before, but it was a perfect choice for a light lunch. One that left plenty of room to try the delicious Guinness icecream afterwards.

My second Dublin soup was even more intriguing, and I knew that I was going to try it as soon as I saw it written up on the board at Kilkenny's Cafe. Cream of lettuce soup with marjoram and sunflower seeds. I'd long been intrigued by lettuce soup. Delia does a number of them, and I know that they're quite an English thing, but I guess they're an Irish thing too. I'd long wondered about how they'd taste, and what the texture would be like, since lettuce isn't something you think about cooking all that often.

This one was ok, more than acceptable, and I think a good introduction, although I do have a few reservations. The flavour was fine. The texture was more chunky than I would have liked. I knew it was going to have chunks anyway with the sunflower seeds, but there were also some chunks of the thicker parts of the lettuce. I think these probably should have been blended away. Still, it wasn't awful, and now I will approach the soups using lettuce in Delia's Soup book that I'm cooking through with a bit more confidence and an edge of anticipation that I didn't have before. Astute readers will notice that I hedged my bets with a smoked salmon bagel, just in case the soup was inedible.

Ooooh, now this one was part of a magnificent meal at Marco Pierre White's Steakhouse and Grill. This was easily the best meal we had in Dublin. It was very exciting to eat at a MPW restaurant, even if it was a relatively simple one. We had an amazing lunch there. I couldn't go past Cauliflower and Smoked Salmon Soup when I saw it on the menu. The cauliflower soup itself was delicious, but the lovely chunks of hot smoked salmon that lay lurking just underneath the surface raised it to brilliance.

I'd come to think of this particular combination of cauliflower and salmon as some inspired high-brow cooking on the part of Mr White. I was rather amused whilst flicking through my CWA Soups and Stews book last night to see a recipe for cauliflower soup with smoked salmon croutons. Turns out their is nothing new under the sun.

I had a very girlie lunch that day much to Mr Soup's disgust. Soup and salad. And what a salad it was too. I love a beetroot and goats cheese salads, and have actually had quite a few over time. This particular version was the most subtle and finessed version of this salad that I've ever had. Pure Luxury. It's hard to see the beetroot as it was very finely sliced on the bottom of the plate. The apprentice had snipping the chives very finely. This dish was a reminder that a great dish is often great food that has been prepared simply.

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