Keywords: generosity, abundance, inspiration, taste, technique,
Go ‘off piste’, no waste = more generosity, be tidy, present beautifully.
Paul Flynn invites you into his world, starting with a stroll around the kitchen garden.
“It starts here” he says “this is how I cook”.
In the morning light, we meander through raised beds hosting red and black kale, a range of herbs, strawberry plants in early leaf, raspberry canes still dormant. The polytunnel is poised, ready for the growing season. Seed trays snuggle on a warming mat, the first two leaves of the sprouted seeds reaching for light.
We return to the kitchen and are introduced to a tray of fresh fish- whatever the fishmonger happened to have on the day. Having waxed lyrical about some flat fish, he picks up a squid. He can’t bear talking any longer
“I’m gonna go off piste – I know you don’t have a recipe for squid in your printouts but this squid is too good to pass. I’ll show you how to prepare a simple squid dish”.
We sit, mesmerised by his craft, dexterity and enthusiasm. In that moment, we all think we are Masterchef too.
All morning long, we learn in the Tannery Cookery School, being led through a labyrinth of seafood cooking. Paul can multitask. Aromas waft around the kitchen. He wants questions
“Otherwise I’ll think I’ve lost you”
Seasonality is core to his philosophy.
“Look at this wild garlic, usually not available until later in the season but the weather’s been mild lately so it’s growing already”.
In a moment, he makes a wild garlic pesto for the clams.
A fillet of hake receives the VIP treatment and becomes Pan fried hake on a bed of braised lettuce, tarragon and red onion.
By his own admission, he’s on a fennel spree at present. Fennel bulb, star anise, feathery fennel tips and a splash of Pernod give mussels the Belle Époque treatment.
Gravadlax is a technique unknown to all but one of us in the learning group. He demonstrates a Beetroot Gravadlax and talks us through it. It goes in the fridge for 24 hours and with a little more preparation, is ready for lunch the following day.
This man is an alchemist, transmuting base ingredients into culinary gold. It’s all about sourcing the best of food locally, and learning the techniques to prepare it simply and present it at its best. Conviviality, delight, satisfaction are the sine qua non of feeding family and friends and guests.
As he cooks, he reminds me of the dispensary in my father’s and grandfather’s chemist’s shop where they spent their lives compounding potions, lotions, powders and elixirs. Medicines are now made by the drug companies and dispensed by the pharmacist. Paul Flynn wields his pestle and mortar like a true healer. Máire, his mulier fortis looks after the business end of things, leaving him free to imagine, to create, to teach.
My family had given me a present of the Stunning Seafood course at The Tannery, Dungarvan. Saturday was for demonstration. On Sunday we donned our aprons and cooked in the perfectly appointed school kitchen. Lunch on both days was a real treat and great fun. Those of us who stayed overnight in the Tannery townhouse were delighted with our rooms, the breakfast of fresh muffins outside the room in the morning, and chilled apple compote and homemade granola in the mini-bar. To travel to The Tannery is to experience the true meaning of hospitality. And to return home edified.
( printed by kind permission of Paul Flynn)
“Bouillabaisse can be made with virtually any flavour you like. I’ve got the crunchy freshness of chopped celery heart and leaves paired with saffron and chorizo. This is a soup-cum-stew; the broth is meant to be eaten first, then, tackle the fish. It’s best served with plain boiled rice or plain boiled new potatoes”
700g hake cut into 4 cm cubes with the skin on
450g mussels, serubbed and beards removed
For the broth:
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 stick of celery cut into 1 cm pieces
1 bulb of fennel cut ito 1 cm pieces
2 carrots cut inoto 1 cm pieces
55 ml olive oil
300ml dry white wine
l chicken stock (cubes are fine)
300 ml cream
Pinch saffron strands
Grated rind 1 orange (use a peeler for wide strips, easier to remove before serving
1 fresh rosemary sprig
6 cardamom pods crushed ( use a pestle and mortar, discard the husks and grind the black seeds)
1 splash of Pernod (optional)
1 tbsp chopped chives
100g chorizo ( leave out if you have non-meat eaters)
-To make the broth, heat the olive oil in a large casserole, add the butter and when it starts to foam, add the onion, garlic, followed by the fennel, celery and carrots and chorizo.
-Cook for 5-6 minutes with the lid on over a low heat to conserve the goodness , until softened but not coloured, stirring occasionally.
-Add the white wine and chicken stock. Bring to the boil and simmer until reduced by half.
– Add the cream, orange rind , rosemary, cardamom pods and saffron strands. Bring to a simmer and cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes.
If you’re cooking for a crowd, or preparing in advance, you can take the pot off the heat at this stage and allow it to cool. The next day, reheat gently and continue.
– When the broth has come to a simmer again, add the fish, mussels and Pernod, poached for a further 5 minutes. (The fish must be freshly cooked for the minimum of time).
– Remove rosemary and orange peel.
– Season, add chives and serve immediately.
In Ireland, we’re surrounded by the sea, and yet our consumption of is relatively small. It’s brain food, full of minerals, protein and, in the case of oily fish, Vitamins A,D,E,K. It’s also fast food par excellence. “Our great sweet Mother” is what James Joyce called the sea- bountiful and nourishing.
Go on, cook some seafood. Cook it well, be generous, enjoy it with good company. Fingerbowls on the table, bowls for mussel shells, lots of napkins. Your fishmonger will prepare it any way you like and advise you on the best value for money.
What are you waiting for?