A Gaelic old time
If you can't be in Ireland for St. Patrick's Day, the next best place to be is Boston. That's exactly what Irish chef Gerard Reidy is doing, coming to town for Gaelic Gourmet Week. Though some may consider that term an oxymoron, Reidy is here to tell you differently. Irish food is not all fish and chips in a greasy paper bag. ("That's more the English," he says. "Don't get us confused.") He's top chef at the Delphi Mountain Resort, a luxury hotel and spa in County Galway, whose food has garnered many accolades.
Q. Tell me about your training in South Africa.
A. I was in Cape Town for 11 years, executive chef at one of the top restaurants there, Blues. It was just after Mandela was released, so the country was very new on the food front. I left Blues eight years ago, then set up another popular restaurant, Five Flies. I came back to Ireland three years ago. I felt a calling to come back to my roots.
Q. What are your culinary roots exactly?
A. It's going back to simplicity. Game is huge, especially venison. Farmers' markets here have become hugely popular again. Stalls in small villages are bringing the unique flavors of Ireland back to the streets. We're not using imported produce, so I cook whatever is in season.
Q. What would you order in an Irish pub?
A. A good traditional steak, a good stew, a good pie. There's local organic chicken and lots of seafood: lobster, mussels, and crab and Irish prawns.
Q. Have you been hurt by the recession?
A. Delphi is a five-star restaurant but I charge three-star prices. It's better to have a lot more people in your seats than a few people. As for the recession, that's the whole reason of supporting local. It makes your produce cheaper and brings [menu] prices down.
Q. Does anyone in Ireland drink green beer on St. Patrick's Day?
A. No, it's only Americans who do that. We wouldn't dare spoil our Guinness. The only difference [on St. Patrick's Day] is that the bartender does a shamrock from the nozzle of the Guinness tap. It's a sign of a good pint of Guinness when you can actually write on the head.
Q. What would your last meal on earth be?
A: Probably mussels with a warm baguette to soak up the juices. I make a wicked mussels dish.