The Irish Times Saturday 5th Feb 2011

FOOD FILE | Marie-Claire Digby talks about food

The G hotel in Galway, with its Philip Treacy designed interiors, isn’t just a stylish place to stay, it is also a earning a reputation as gourmet destination. Regis Herviaux, head chef, and Stefan Matz (below), who is executive chef here and at sister hotel Ashford Castle, aim to source much of the restaurant’s produce from within an hour’s drive. Luckily for them Galway and Connemara produce a rich variety of fish, shellfish, meat, cheese and vegetables. A recent gala dinner they staged featured shellfish from Stephane Griesbach’s Gannet Fishmongers which has a stall at the Galway food market, smoked tuna from the Roberts family’s Connemara Smokehouse in Ballyconneely, abalone farmed by Cindy O’Brien in Rossaveel, Connemara hill lamb and wonderful air-dried meats from artisan butcher James McGeough, and Bluebell Falls goats’ cheese made by Paul Keane in Co Clare.

The line-caught tuna, which was then smoked, was served three ways: as a chilled gateau with pears , in a tuna and leek crumble, and as a crisp tuile on a creamy cabbage soup. Frank Kinneen of The Vineyard wine shop in Quay Street supplied wine pairings, and a smokey Staete Landt New Zealand Pinot Noir 2006 made an outstanding partner to the tuna. The abalone came deep-fried as a crispy tempura with basil and poached with creamy barley, risotto-style. The Connemara lamb was served four ways – braised, chargrilled, roasted and as an olive-crusted rack. The kitchen team also took a multi-faceted approach to show the versatility of Paul Keane’s Bluebell Falls goats’ cheese, serving it as a cheesecake and a soufflé as well as in a crème brûlée and a chocolate mousse.

You can meet some of these dedicated artisan suppliers and pick up some cooking tips in the kitchens at the G hotel at a two-night “g is for gourmet” event on Thursday and Friday, March 3rd and 4th. It costs from from €225 per person sharing, to include a five-course dinner with wine pairings, two nights’ B&B, a cooking class and a guided tour of some the region’s food producers.