The Obrienatrix apologises for her absence of late. Neither swine nor Mexicans were involved. She was simply “doing” French oral examinations; then took a few days off to recover (with The Gent), in Cork, in a nice hotel with pool (adding to her hotel-pool collection), built around a long-awaited and greatly anticipated dinner at

Café Paradiso

She is not usually one to plug and praise (Got Medieval aside, obviously, that goes without saying) – but this dinner was out of this world. Longinus and Kant have nowt on this Sublime. Vegetables venerated, and expressing their full essence. Words fail. She relived and indeed dreamed about it afterwards. This has involved poring and drooling over our Café Paradiso books subsequently. Much contented sighing over the marvellous Mr Cotter’s Wild Garlic, Gooseberries and Me (with many an “I told you so” from The Gent, who’d been engrossed in it as an amuse-bouche for a good fortnight prior to The Trip). Yes, gastro-geeks, and proud of it.


This is the best vegetarian restaurant she has ever been to (and one of the best vegetarian meals ever enjoyed). Also, by the way, one of the best restaurants and meals, vegetarian or otherwise. Now, this is speaking as someone brought up in Belgium, who has eaten many fine meals in her time – with, incidentally, eternal gratitude to parents for considering that to be an essential part of a civilised upbringing – whose earliest writings were on food (a sort of semi-pictorial gastronomic diary), and whose life-long ambitions have been to be a food critic (O Michelin, hear my prayers!) or to run a chocolate shop.

Here is the dinner menu of that night:

salad of green beans, broad beans, quail eggs & crispbreads with mixed leaves, Cratloe Hills sheep’s cheese and a citrus dressing €12

carrot, almond & feta terrine with spiced cucumber salsa and fennel crispbreads €13

asparagus & Gabriel cheese gratin with hazelnuts & capers in a mustard cream €13

warm salad of oyster mushrooms, green tea noodles and sea spinach in a miso & sesame dressing €13

tartlet of caramelised beetroot & Bluebell Falls fresh goats cheese with watercress pesto and olive-crushed potato €13

vegetable sushi with tempura of carrot & cauliflower, pickled ginger, wasabi and a dipping sauce €13

walnut and blue cheese mezzaluna with maple-buttered roast shallots and nutmeg spinach €13


risotto of watercress, broad beans, lemon & pinenuts with Oisin goat’s cheese, green seakale and a sweet and hot pepper broth €23

sweet chilli-glazed panfried tofu on chinese greens in coconut-lemongrass broth with soba noodles and a gingered aduki bean wonton €24

feta, pistachio & couscous cake on citrus & nutmeg greens with sweet & hot pepper relish, chickpeas with cumin & fresh chillies and coriander yoghurt €24

gratin of spiced aubergine, crushed potato, spinach & fresh goat’s cheese with citrus cream and braised kai-lan €25

braised artichokes with Knockalara sheep’s cheese & caper stuffing, grilled semolina gnocchi, puy lentils and wilted greens €25

eggroll pancake of asparagus & Coolea cheese with a warm cherry tomato & fennel salsa and nicola potatoes €25


rosewater, almond & honey baklava with cardamom ice cream, yoghurt and passionfruit syrup €9

dark chocolate cake with crème-fraiche and a pistachio wafer €9

liquorice ice cream with blood orange juice and pistachio biscotti €9

praline-stuffed roast pear with spiced caramel and vanilla ice cream €9

limone Paradiso €10.00

crozier blue cheese with paradiso oatcakes, crab apple jelly and apple sorbet €9.00

vin santo with cantucci biscotti €9.00 (Fattoria del Barbi 2000, 20%, Tuscany)

selection of handmade chocolate truffles €4.

Carnivores – eat your hearts out.

And yes, of course Obrienatrix had the dark chocolate cake. And it was transcendental.

Alas and alack, no Medieval chocolate. But had they had it, they would have worked wonders with it and spices … Green & Black’s Maya Gold would go, well, in comparison, green and pale.

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