The whole gastro pub scene hasn’t quite taken off in Ireland in quite the same way as in the UK where some of the very best food is to be found in comfy grungy pubs often with mismatched wooden furniture and crockery, serving gorgeous non fussy seasonal food. There are many good ones now vying for my few precious meal slots when I’m in London. The Eagle, The Canton Arms, The Earl Spencer, Magdalen Arms, The Anchor and Hope…seven years after it first opened I still totally love the latter.
Jonathon Jones would probably blush to hear himself referred to as the most famous and successful gastropub chef in the British Isles but if anything the description is an understatement. His restaurant the Anchor and Hope pub in South London has won six major awards in as many years and is the darling of every restaurant critic who eats there. In the Times, Giles Coren said: ‘it is the most exciting new restaurant I have been to since I started writing this column.’ In the Sunday Times (the difficult to please) AA Gill raved, calling it: a brilliant restaurant…what you’ve been waiting for. In the Independent Tracey Macleod was no less than enthusiastic pointing out that a succession of amazing looking meals emerged from the tiny, two person kitchen, and nothing we tried fell short of first rate. Matthew Fort also gave it a rave review in the Guardian and on and on.
In his teens, Jonathon Jones hated school and plotted and schemed incessantly to get out. His dad wouldn’t allow him to leave until he came up with an alternative so he decided on the spur of the moment that he wanted to be a chef. His dad thought he’d ‘fix him’ by getting him a job in a tough hotel kitchen in Edinburgh. He hated it but determinedly hung on and insisting he loved every minute! As luck would have it his sister saw a brilliant article in the Financial Times about a restaurant called La Mimosa in the South of France. The owner said her greatest challenge was getting staff to settle out in the wilds coupled with the fact that the French find it challenging to work for a woman. Jonathon loved the sound of what she was doing – beautiful, fresh food simply cooked. He applied for and got the job and was hooked, the rest is history.
So I decided that if we were to offer a gastro pub course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, there probably wasn’t a better chap to teach it than Jonathon Jones.
He came on Sunday 11th September with none of the cheffy airs and graces that are all too characteristic of many of the new breed of celebrity chefs. Jonathon was really keen to see the gardens and greenhouses and was genuinely excited by the beautiful fresh produce. It’s a great time of the year, the summer vegetables and fruit are properly tasty by now.
The Anchor and Hope menu chalked up on a blackboard in the open kitchen in Waterloo changes twice a day, so naturally reflects the wild food in season. You can’t book but its cosmopolitan clientele are perfectly happy to queue for a sometimes over an hour in the convivial atmosphere. Great beers, fantastic sherry and a cracking wine list help to pass the time.
They’ve built up their reputation for ‘properly good food’ on several fronts, their sharing dishes served family style in the middle of the table are much loved and bring back memories of a time when people sat down around the kitchen table with family and friends to share a simple meal – it might be a shoulder or neck of lamb, a whole duck with peas with a fine potato gratin and a bowl of salad leaves.
Jonathon charmed us all by his love of real food and his effortless skill in transforming cheaper cuts of meat and offal into the sort of gorgeous comforting food that you fight over.
The kitchen at Anchor and Hope is tiny yet every week they buy in whole animals, butcher them themselves and use very last morsel in a delicious way. Jonathon quoted Fergus Henderson of St John “it’s disingenuous to the animal not to value and use every scrap” Sadly these skills are lost in some restaurant kitchens nowadays where many who call themselves chefs do little more than slit the top of a packet or pop a prepared meal into a microwave to reheat. Here are some Anchor and Hope favourites which Jonathon shared with us.
Anchor and Hope’s Beetroot, Horseradish and Watercress Salad
Serves 6-8 as a starter
- 900g (2lb) small beetroot
- 4 eggs – soft boiled (cook for 5 minutes, cool and peel)
- 2 bunches of watercress
- ·about 2 tablespoon freshly grated horseradish
- ·salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ·a little freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ·about 225g (8oz) crème fraíche (we use Glenilen)
For horseradish dressing:
Put the grated horseradish into a bowl. Season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice; add the crème fraîche and mix to combine.
Take 900g (2lb) even sized beetroots, wash well but do not damage the root, leave about 4cm (1 1/2 inch) of leaf on top. Cook with a little salt and vinegar in the water, (30 minutes to 2 hours depending on age). When tender, peel and cut into chunky bite sized pieces. Dress rigorously with as much of the horseradish as you like, then gently, fold in a bunch or two of washed watercress. Divide between the plates. Decorate with soft boiled eggs, peeled and halved. Serve with crusty bread.
Anchor and Hope’s Slow Cooked Lamb Neck and Gratin of Potatoes with Rosemary and Bay Leaves
- 3 whole lamb necks, usually on the bone – trim off excess fat
- 4 medium onions chopped coarsely
- 2 large carrots, cut in chunks
- 1/2 head celery, coarsely chopped
- 6 bay leaves
- 1 x 400g (14oz) tin of tomatoes
- 8-10 cloves of garlic
- 4 sprigs of rosemary
- 500ml (18fl oz) lamb stock or water
- 62ml (2 1/2fl oz) white wine
Gratin of Potatoes with Rosemary and Bay Leaves (see recipe)
Heat a little sunflower oil in a suitable sized casserole. Season the neck with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook in the oil until nicely browned, remove from the casserole. Add the peeled and chopped root vegetables. Nestle the lamb neck back in, add the herbs, white wine and tomatoes and enough stock to come 2/3 up the neck. Bring to a boil on top of the stove and put into the preheated oven at 250°C/500°F/Gas Mark 10 to start with and when it’s simmering gently, cover lamb loosely with the lid or parchment paper, reduce the heat to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and cook until completely tender – 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat should be almost falling off the bones.
Cool until next day, remove fat and warm through in a hot oven uncovered before serving.
Serve with gratin of potatoes with rosemary and bay leaves.
Gratin of Potatoes with Rosemary and Bay Leaves
- about 300ml (10fl oz) each of single cream and milk
- 2 sprigs rosemary and a couple of crushed bay leaves
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and fairly thinly sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- a gratin dish
- butter for greasing
- parchment paper
Then pour into a buttered gratin dish, cover with parchment paper.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45-60 minutes. Uncover and brown before serving in a hot oven or under the grill.
Anchor and Hope’s Queen of Puddings with Raspberries or Blackberries
Stewed plums, greengages, apricots or Bramley apples are also good. Jonathon uses a big dish when making this recipe as individual ones don’t work in his opinion. Brown bread may be used – it tastes a bit more virtuous!
- 450g (1lb) fresh raspberries or blackberries or a mixture
- 1.2l (2 pints) full fat milk
- zest of 1/2 an orange and 1/2 a lemon
- 1 vanilla pod
- 200g (7oz) soft white breadcrumbs, preferably sour dough (Jonathon uses St. John bread)
- 100g (3 1/2oz) ground almonds
- 6 egg yolks
- 6 egg whites
- 250g (9oz) caster sugar
pouring cream to serve
Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3.
Put the milk in a heavy stainless steel saucepan; add the orange and lemon zest. Add 1 vanilla pod, split and with the seeds scraped out well and included. Bring to a simmer, add the bread chunks and ground almonds and allow to sit for 5 minutes – it should be the consistency of softish porridge. Add a little more ground almonds if necessary.
Separate the eggs save the whites in a spotlessly clean bowl. Whisk the egg yolks into the base and pour into a gratin dish.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes until just set. Allow to cool (can be cooked ahead and used next day but not ideal). Spread the fruit on top.
(Raspberry jam is also good and can be used in the traditional way if no fresh fruit is available)
Whisk the egg whites in a spotlessly clean dry bowl, free of grease and any residue of detergent. Whisk until stiff, fold in the caster sugar. Dollop the meringue roughly over the top and spread so it covers the fruit to an even thickness – return to the oven and cook at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 15-20 minutes approximately. It should be crisp on the outside and be marshmallowy in the inside. Serve with pouring cream.
As anyone who is coeliac, or who cooks for someone who is coeliac, will testify it is challenging producing really delicious, balanced meals. Now help is to hand in the form of an intensive half-day course led by Rosemary Kearney on Saturday 8th October from 2pm to 5pm at Ballymaloe Cookery School – phone 0214646785 to book or online www.cookingisfun.ie
Rosie’s Farmshop was opened by Rosie Casey last June on her family farm at Poulmucka, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. She sells her own certified organic beef, pork and vegetables. Don’t miss the little teashop where Rosie bakes fresh scones daily and serves teas and Ponaire coffee. Contact 052 6137764 www.rosiesfarmshop.ie
Euro-toques have opened their 21st Young Chef of the Year competition, in association with BIM and Failte Ireland. This competition is open to any chef under the age of 25 who has industry experience. They must be nominated by their head chef or a senior industry chef. The closing date for entries is Wednesday, 12th of October at 3pm. For all the details go to www.euro-toques.ie/youngchef.php or phone 01 6779995/085 8520760 or email email@example.com
A new Urru Greengrocer will open on Saturday 7th October 2011 in Mc Swiney Quay, Bandon, Co. Cork. Nutritionist Lucy Hyland will deliver a “Shop Well, Cook Well, Eat Well – Be Well” nutrition program for Urru shoppers, workshops run at 7.00pm on Tuesday 4th, 11th, 18th and 25th October and cost €80 for all four. To book phone 023-8854731 / 086-8372138, firstname.lastname@example.org www.urru.ie www.foodforliving.com