If we want to dine for the foreseeable future, why not dine in style? PR consultant Tara O’Connor’s personal Instagram account is peppered with gorgeous pictures of dining table settings or table landscapes she creates in her Co Kildare home, and admirers can now literally indulge in her style.
As a creative lockdown project, O’Connor opened an online shop. thedesignedtable.comand sells a range of brightly colored tablecloths, runners, napkins and napkin rings. The bedding and accessories were all designed by O’Connor and made by compliant manufacturers in India.
Tablecloths cost between € 65 and € 120, matching (or mix and match) napkins € 40 for a set of 4. Table runners start at € 35, with jute placemats € 10 and napkin rings from € 24 for four.
The spring / summer starter collection includes four ranges, including solid colors, prints and checks. O’Connor will update the selection seasonally.
For newbies to table design, O’Connor has this advice: “Start with your tablecloth, or add a runner in the center of the table if tablecloths aren’t for you. Add placemats over your tablecloth to create depth. If you’re serving an antipasto starter, add your starter platter. Don’t add layers of plates to take with you when guests sit down. Put a napkin in a napkin ring or as a nice fold on your plate or place mat. “
Comfort food favorites
Who among us didn’t sigh deeply at the thought of cooking another meal from scratch in the past 13 months? Takeaway was a wonderful option, but sometimes it’s good to keep something in the freezer for an emergency no-cook dinner.
James Whelan Butchers with 10 stores and select outlets in Dunnes Stores and Avoca, as well as the mothership in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, recently added a ready-to-cook selection of Dine at Home meals for two that are slated to be available online later the year. The company prepares the dishes in a manufacturing facility in Co Wicklow.
The menu includes favorite dishes such as lasagna, beef shin mac’n cheese, shepherd’s pie and cottage pie, as well as butter chicken curry and spicy chicken wings. But the runaway winner in the popularity stakes is the pulled sugar cane bacon shank and the cabbage pie topped with mashed potatoes.
James Whelan’s pulled bacon legs with sugar pit and cabbage pie, topped with mashed potatoes.
The list of ingredients does not contain any bad ingredients – beef mac’n’cheese, for example, contains macaroni (51 percent), Irish beef shin (35 percent) as well as milk, beef broth, carrots, celery, onions, red wine, cheese, tomato paste, white wine, mustard, Garlic, herbs, cornmeal and fried shallots. Each pack serves between two and four people (probably two, generously) and costs € 10.
Online cooking classes
The popularity of online interactive cooking classes continues to grow, as do the chef and the food business owner Eamon Lynch has taken the concept one step further. Lynch has signed up eight prominent Irish food names for a series of online demonstrations at its Sprig Cookery School, and has partnered with DropChef to provide attendees with the ingredients for each class.
For a seemingly cheap price of € 49, you can access the class and prepare a main course for two without leaving your home. For example, Niall Sabongi Participants will be guided through the selection and preparation of a range of fish and shellfish, and a fish dinner for two will be prepared in the market, depending on availability. His wholesale company SSI will supply the fish and the rest of the ingredients will be supplied by DropChef.
Eamon Lynch from Sprig Cookery School, which offers a range of online courses. Photo: Bryan Meade
Aoife Noonan’s classes will be in making incendiary buns, and all supplies, including a piping bag, will be supplied. Gráinne O’Keefe, who recently announced that she is moving from her position as Head Chef at Clanbrassil House, will cook a starter and main course in her class, using modern Irish cuisine as inspiration and reinventing the ingredients provided Fee.
Other participants in the series are Brian Donnelly from Bia Rebel Ramen, Clair Dowling of tiller + grain, Alice Tevlin from Rua Food, Nick Reynolds by Lil Portie and Kevin Roche and Taurean Coughlan brew of two boys. The dates for these classes and the full Sprig Cookery School program can be found at sprigcookery.com/classes.
Lynch, who has been a chef for 12 years and also worked as a tutor at the Dublin Cookery School, completed a Masters in Culinary Innovation and studied Project Management before starting the Sprig Cookery School.
Rory O’Connell is cooking for Goal next week.
Rory O’Connell is bringing his culinary praise to a fundraiser run by the Goal charity next week. Good Vibes (April 26-30) brings together eight experts from the fields of sport, nutrition and science for a week of virtual wellness events. You can register individually or as a company or group to participate. Registrations are accepted at targetglobal.org until Sunday evening and the fee is 15 €.