With the exception of an uncooperative cloud overhead, our first International Scott Joseph's Supper Club featuring celebrity chef Kevin Dundon in Dublin was a big success. We convened at Morgans Wine Merchants on Pembroke Road (not to be confused with Pembroke Street or Pembroke Lane, although it inevitably was) on Friday, August 29, the night before the UCF/Penn State football game at Croke Park.
Morgans occupies a space that previously was one of the city's premier restaurant, Le Coq Hardi, and which, apparently, was before that an elegant townhouse. A townhouse with a gorgeous garden out back. When I stopped by Morgans earlier in the day to meet owner Andrew Keaveney and look over the facilities, we agreed that the garden was the perfect place to hold the pre-dinner reception. After all, it was gorgeous outside — the Irish skies were smiling.
And then, just before guests were scheduled to arrive, those skies started weeping. Raining, actually. So instead we moved the reception to the bar and lounge in the basement, next to the gravel-floored rooms of the wine cellar.
Dundon served samples of his Arthurstown Porter Storm Ale, which is brewed at Dunbrody, his place in Wexford. Supper Club guests were the first to sample the dark and full-bodied ale, and everyone liked it so much that no one made any cracks about it being called Storm.
The chef also served his house-cured salmon, which should be called "Oh My God, Did You Taste That Salmon?" So rich, the flavors filled the mouth.
The maitre d', who led a very abled serving staff, announced that dinner was served and we all trundled up to the tables that had been set up in what was likely the home's living and dining rooms. We were at full capacity at 54 guests, and everyone quickly settled.
Raglan Road co-owner Paul Nolan was to greet the guests and give a little background about the relationship with Dundon and the Downtown Disney restaurant. (Speaking of Disney, one of the guests was Dick Nunis, who had flown in for the game and regaled his tablemates with stories about finding a European location for a Disney park. As we all know, Paris was eventually selected, but Nunis had his mind set on Spain.)
Dundon ran through the menu (I had to remind him that Americans might not know what a courgette is) and Keavening announced the wine pairings. He had given me a tasting when I stopped in earlier and I couldn't wait to try them with the chef's food.
We started with a foie gras mousse served in a small latch-lid jar and topped with natural yogurt foam, served with a slice of soda bread. It was paired with Champagne de Canteneur, whose bubbles made the first course extra celebratory.
Next was a soup of espresso of courgette (zucchini) and almonds. (Sorry about the photo -- I couldn't stop eating it long enough to snap a picture.) It was served with a Meursault Domaine Regnard, which immediately became one of my tablemates' favorite wine of the evening. (And the servers were not shy about keeping everyone's wine glasses filled — no one was driving!)
My favorite wine was the Margaux from Bordeaux Hauts de Tertre. Deep rich red color and wonderful black cherry notes, it was perfect with Dundon's filet of Irish beef with garlic mash, roasted garden beets and beet emulsion. The beef was terrific, but the beets were extra special, too.
Dessert was chocolate gateau with Storm Stout (again with the rain reference) topped with a bit of caramel popcorn, which Dundon said was a tip of the hat to American tastes. A 2009 Carmes de Riussec was the sweet accompaniment.
Everyone left quite happy, grabbing taxis that were rolling along Pembroke Road and heading back to their hotels.
I, personally, was grinning ear to ear. Putting this Supper Club together was just a dream I had when I first learned UCF would be playing in Dublin. I didn't quite know how to pull if off, but when I first said to Dundon, "I've got this idea; do you know anyone in Dublin I might talk to?" he said, "I'll do it with you." And he pretty much took care of all of the details. Many thanks to him, Nolan, Keavening, the servers, and several people back in Orlando who made it a reality.
I have no idea how I'm going to top this one.