Thursday, July 31, 2014

Dillisk Food Project: a very special trip to Connemara

Why, hello there! It's been a while. 

I've been absent without leave these past few weeks but it wasn't because I forgot about you. As if that could ever happen! 
No, I often thought about how I was neglecting my poor food blog. It's just that I didn't know what I could do about it.

My problem was (as I take a sharp intake of breath), I had lost my enthusiasm for food. If you've been hanging around here for a while, you'll have gathered that I love food.  I love cooking it, eating eat and sharing it with friends and family. I've enjoyed sharing it with you here too.

But lately, I've fallen out of love and it was all because of my diet. We've had great weather here in Ireland this summer and I wanted ice cream but wasn't allowed to eat it. Everyone cooked barbeque dinners when the sun shone and I couldn't tuck into any of it. Suddenly, I became fixated on all that I could no longer eat and lost my enthusiasm for food.

But that was until I went to Connemara. Or to be more precise, until I visited this little boat shed in Connemara.

A very special food event called Dillisk is taking place in this shed every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night from now until early September. A team of chefs, cooks and people who are enthusiastic about food have created a kitchen and dining room in this abandoned shed and are using the food that is produced in the local area to put together very exciting menus. Think smoked seaweed broth and chocolate fudge made with sea salt harvested from the coastline outside the front door. This was just what I needed to reawaken my interest in food.

They had made the interior so pretty...

...and built a tandoor oven for cooking.

They even had their own resident dog

We were given gin and tonics with horseradish and lemon balm sherbet when we arrived.

And then most of us decided to go for a walk on the beach

We didn't want to miss any dinner so it wasn't long before we walked back.

And then the fun really began. 

We had some fabulous food. There were onion bajis with Toonsbridge mozzarella and pickled shitake mushrooms; a deep smoked dillisk broth brimful of garden greens served with perfectly cooked mussels; some char sui Connemara pork dumplings with kohlrabi and purple carrots; a dish of peas with herbs and fresh goats' curd; pollack cooked in that tandoor oven with barley and beets; poached rhubarb, fennel meringue, homemade clotted cream and spiced brown bread; Cloudpicker coffee and chocolate and Aughrasbeg sea salt fudge; and pickleback whiskeys to finish.

The conversations were just as good. My partner and I had travelled up from Dingle for the event and everyone else had come over from Dublin (some as couples, some with groups of friends). Everyone was interested in food and because we were all seated at a communal table, everyone chatted to everyone else. We exclaimed at what we were eating and discussed everything from the goings-on at the International Criminal Court in the Hague to birds of prey and everything in between. (I'm telling you: despite everyone apart from us being from Dublin, it was a very mixed crowd!)

So, I owe the wonderful team at Dillisk a huge thanks for helping me rediscover my enthusiasm for food and all of the pleasures that go with enjoying a good meal. 

If you happen to be anywhere near Connemara this summer, I would wholeheartedly recommend that you eat at this unique pop-up restaurant. I promise you'll have lots of fun. You may even end up juggling in the kitchen at the end of the evening!


  1. Wow, I have the same interests as you, I love cooking, especially when cooking with my pressure cooker, wish you have a fun party.

  2. Hi Anne, Glad to hear from a like-minded cook! I don't have a pressure cooker but have often contemplated getting one :)