I love cheese... LOVE IT. If I could live off it entirely I would! So I was delighted when I got a tweet from Pat Whelan - Tipperary Butcher Extraordinaire - to tell me that I had won two tickets to A Spring Cheese Celebration at Salt, Monkstown. I had been dying to try Salt, a new Avoca venture, for ages but having just made the move to Meath it's a little out of the way so this was the perfect excuse!!
We arrived a little early which gave us lots of time to have a good nose around all the lovely food on offer. Salt is different to the other Avoca's as all it offers is food. All the usual goodies that we have grown to love from Avoca were there, so there was an abundance of fresh cakes, breads and ready to go meals. Then there was the butcher counter. This is something to behold! There is so much on offer there was no wonder that a few of the customers I saw spent about 10 minutes deciding on what to buy!! After having made ourselves hungry just looking around we were ready to start the celebration.
The Spring Cheese Celebration menu was devised with cheeses from Patricia Michelson's La Fromagerie, Sheridan's Cheesemongers and meat from Pat Whelan's. The meal started off with a cheese teaser in the from of Fivemiletown Goat's Cheese with Pickled Beetroot. This cheese is simply divine as it isn't too strong but is creamy and works well with the beetroot.
|Fivemiletown Goat's Cheese with Pickled Beetroot|
Then came the real starter - Shropshire blue cheese tart with grapes & red onion marmalade. This was lovely and it was accompanied by a dressing of capers and raisin, unusual but surprisingly delicious.
|Shropshire blue cheese tart with grapes & red onion marmalade|
Then came the star of the show a Pat Whelan Fillet of Beef with Lyonaisse potato & Coolea fondue. This was without doubt one of the best pieces of meat we have ever had. It could have come on the plate by itself and I would have been happy but teamed with everything else it was a superb main.
|Fillet of Beef with Lyonaisse potato & Coolea fondue.|
After that we got a surprise dessert. It wasn't on the menu but out came a Raspberry pot. The glass jars reminded me of the Glenilen yogurt jars and have given me a few presentation ideas of my own now!!
For afters we were served a cheeseboard with crackers & condiments. Kevin from Sheridan's Cheesemongers and Patricia from La Fromagerie then got up to tell us about the cheeses on our plates. This was highly interesting and I was enjoying the talk and tasting so much that I forgot to take a picture!! We learnt that Durrus is unique as it is the only Irish wash rind cheese still made using raw milk and traditional rennet, that Crozier Blue is the sister cheese to Cashel Blue and that Saint Maure has a straw impaled in it for ease of handling. I learnt that I have three new favourite cheese's: Fivemiletown Goats Cheese, Crozier Blue and Beaufort Chalet D'Alpage!!
This was a highly enjoyable night - the food was fantastic and the staff in Salt are brilliant. One of the staff happily wrote down names of wines for me when I asked. I even got to meet Pat himself and it was lovely to meet the man behind the wonderful meat. We were reluctant to leave but as it turned out the boyfriend ended up working in Monkstown two days later. He came home loaded with cheese and striploin steak. We ended up having our very own Spring Cheese Celebration! My only wish now is that Avoca open up a place like Salt in Meath ... oh I can dream!!
|Our own Spring Cheese Celebration: Poulet Bonne Femme Sourdough, Pat Whelan Striploin Steak & Crozier Blue|