13th December 2016
Interview: Killian Fox
Photograph: Cristian Barnett
We just got our first batch of artichokes from the farm, which is always a huge deal for us. Normally we do a main course of them, but not this year – simple treatment suits them better. Our senior sous chef is from the Basque country and he’s asked to cook the artichokes his way. It’s really quite simple. He peels them, cooks them a little bit, leaves them in the fridge, slices them really thin, then dips them in flour and olive oil. We’re serving them with romesco, lemon, parsley and dried olive. Dead simple – and it’s going to open up a whole list of different ways we can use that technique.
I have more freedom than formally-trained chefs who work with meat
Denis on his Adventures in Vegetables
They’ve become a big part of the summer menu. We stuff the flowers with pea and ricotta, tempura them, and serve them with a courgette and basil puree and some smoky peperonata.
We stayed away from parsnips for a few years but we’ve really got back into them. We made a really good tortellini stuffed with parsnip, cooked with butter on the stove for a really long time until it becomes dark and intense (we moisten it with cider along the way). It’s a fantastically rich tortellini filling. And if you do a similar thing, but roasted, it makes really nice gnocchi.
It’s really lovely when the winter squash arrives. They’ve been a huge thing at the restaurant from the start. Ultan [Walsh of Gort na Nain farm in Cork] grows Australian and New Zealand varieties. We do a lot of things with it: gnocchi, ravioli, a really nice gratin, soups and stews. Sometimes we wonder if it’s sophisticated enough for the menu, but it’s lovely to eat.
It’s such a staple of Irish peasant food – we all grew up on boiled turnip. One of the dishes I’m proudest of, I managed to make out of turnips. It’s a galette – square thin sheets with braised turnip and a chestnut and mushroom mash, served with beetroot port gravy [pictured above]. It’s so good. It’s basically Christmas dinner. I love it.
Café Paradiso is at 16 Lancaster Quay, Cork City, Ireland; paradiso.restaurant
Denis’s many books include Wild Gooseberries, Garlic… and Me
Follow Café Paradiso: Twitter
My Favourite Charcuterie: Illtud Llyr Dunsford – The award-winning owner of Charcutier Ltd on Latin pork scratchings, why the Italians do ham better than the Iberians, and his love of the American hot dog
My Desert Island Ice Creams: Kitty Travers of La Grotta Ices – The owner of London’s La Grotta Ices on midnight treats in Iceland, a scenic ice-cream stop in England and the best gelato she’s ever had in Italy
My Favourite Baking Books: Justin Gellatly – The owner of London’s Bread Ahead on his mother’s precious scrapbooks and a book that will make you understand why bakers work through the night
My favourite Swedish beers: Marcus Hjalmarsson – The owner of Sweden’s Brewski microbrewery picks his five favourite brews from the west coast