RECIPE: Lisa Faulkner’s Boursin Encrusted Salmon

Celebrities these days. They win one series of Celebrity Masterchef and they think they can cook!

The thing is, Lisa Faulkner obviously can cook, and she has the recipe book to prove it. This spring she teamed up with one of my favourite ever spready cheese brands, Boursin, to throw together a few recipes involving their wonderful product.

When Boursin offered to send me a few sample packages of their delicious cheeses so that I could have a bash at Lisa’s recipes, of course I said yes. There were lots of tasty recipes to choose from: the salt and black pepper hot cakes caught my eye, as did the tomato, onion, chive and leek tart, but as soon as I laid eyes on the baked salmon recipe I knew I’d have to try it.

Served with tatties, aubergine, and a garden salad
Served with tatties, aubergine, and a garden salad

So the verdict? It was really good! The Boursin based sauce was creamy and tangy, and went extremely well with the salmon. I’d never tried the tomato, onion and chive Boursin before (despite eating more than my fair share of the garlic and herb one at various New Year and Christmas parties during my youth) and I really really liked it. Personally speaking I’d probably add a wee bit more cheese to the topping, but you know me and my cheese!

I tend to deviate from recipes a lot, so instead of putting fennel and tomatoes under the salmon to steam it, instead I sloshed in a half glass of that Pedro Jiminez white wine you can get in Lidl for about four quid a bottle. I’m a big fan of cooking with wine, dontchaknow. I grilled some aubergines and cherry toms, too, and served the whole mess up with some boiled potatoes.

The original recipe is only 379 calories (that’s without any sides, of course) so it would be a good dinner if you’re on the 5:2 diet.

Details of the recipe (and Lisa’s other fab creations) can be found over on Boursin’s website.

Cheap Eats in Cork

Cork

After picking up a bumper box of Barry’s Tea in James’s home town of Bandon, we drove on to our next stop: Cork. Unfortunately, our B&B was a 2km walk away from the city centre,  but after all of the fried and stodgy Irish food we’d been feasting upon it was probably a good thing. We had a pretty chilled out time wandering around the shops, meeting up with James’s old school friends, and running a couple of errands.

Although Cork probably has plenty of great high end restaurants, our bellies are unfortunately dictated by our purse strings. There’s no point in pretending that this is a Foodies Guide to Cork, but if you happen to be in the Rebel City and want some cheap eats then you could do worse than these places. In fact, there’s an example at the end that shows you just how worse you could do!

Istanbul Kebab House

Cork 011

For lunch it was a toss up between kebab, and pizza. I’m really glad that kebab won, because this restaurant was an absolute joy. It reaffirmed in my head what I’d already decided about Irish food; although it’s generally not very exciting, people really make an effort to get the quality right. When I spotted a guy behind the counter rolling out and baking his own flatbreads, I was satisfied that we’d made the right lunchtime decision. Nothing can beat freshly made flatbread. Topped off with tasty cubed lamb, chilli sauce, and garlic mayo this was definitely one of the best kebabs I’ve ever had.

The English Market

If you’re spending a weekend in Cork, get yer arse down here. Unlike the expensive Edinburgh farmer’s markets which seem to be a playground for yuppies with more money than they know what to do with, the English Market is actually pretty good in terms of budget. We found a lovely cake stall where you could get a massive slice of Chester Cake for one Euro. For the uninitiated, Chester Cake is basically all of yesterday’s leftover cakes mixed up together and iced. Bloody tasty, and an amazing idea. Although who has leftover cake, apart from bakeries?

Gourmet Burger Bistro

Burger Bistro

 

Although I wouldn’t have minded popping into the Cork branch of Eddie Rocket’s after my amazing experience in Galway, James convinced me that we should probably try a local place. Enter Gourmet Burger Bistro. They had a very interesting menu, and it took me about ten minutes of hand wringing to actually settle on the daily special; lamb, caramelised apple, and goats cheese. It was extremely tasty.James had the spicy lamb kofta burger, which was nicely spiced and came with a lovely lamb kofta. All of the burgers came with a cute little flag on top denoting the country of origin. It would be easy to eat here for a week trying a new burger every night without getting bored.

Lennox’s Chipper

JamesPhone 064

Paying a visit to this Cork institution had been on the to-do list of our Irish road trip all along. To paraphrase Gary Tank Commander, every radge likes chips but there are few radges who enjoy chips more than this radge right here. I was convinced by the Yelp reviews and James to do as the locals do and get my chips slathered with a combo of garlic mayo and cheese. Unfortunately this combination was too rich for me (give me good old salt ‘n’ sauce any day) and kind of drowned out the flavour of the chips, which were certainly very tasty in their own right. Oh, if you’re interested in craft beer, head to the off license across the road as they have a great selection.

And the worst…

Dashi Deli

The only time I was unimpressed with a meal in Ireland was at this sushi bar. Sitting in the window picking at my ‘raw fish’ platter of tiny, malformed nori, I was reminded of the Boots sushi that I used to pick at when I didn’t fancy a sandwich for my meal deal. To be honest, alarm bells should have started ringing when I looked at the menu and saw that they didn’t have any rainbow rolls or other sushi restaurant mainstays.

So that’s that. A whirlwind of eating on the cheap in Cork, while still somehow managing not to drink any alcohol…

 

Bumming around the Burren

Well, it wouldn’t be the ultimate Irish road trip if we didn’t actually do any driving or sightseeing, would it? When we left Galway we had a free day before our arrival in Cork, so we spontaneously booked a hotel in Killarney and got ready for a day of sightseeing. The only two places that we had on our hitlist were the Cliffs of Moher and Father Ted’s house: but we ended up discovering a few other beautiful places on the way.

RoadTrwip

I’ve got to tell you something that might ruin your childhood. Father Ted’s house isn’t actually on Craggy Island. Nope. It’s in an, admittedly craggy, part of Ireland called “The Burren”. Father Ted doesn’t live in the house, either. It belongs to a family who have lived there for over 20 years. James said it must have got a bit awkward when Ted, Dougal, Jack and Mrs Doyle were all hanging out in the living room: and I had to ruin his childhood by explaining that those scenes were probably filmed on a set in Dublin.

Father Ted

Sadly, we didn’t realise until that day that you can actually have afternoon tea in Father Ted’s house. We thought it would be rude to ring the family first thing in the morning and ask them to bake for us, so we missed out. But if you’re planning on heading down to the Parochial House I reckon you should give them a call! I could have killed for a nice cup of Barry’s and a cream scone.

As we were driving on the back roads towards the famous farmhouse, we stumbled upon Kilmacduagh Monastery, which dates back to the 7th Century. We parked the car and took some time to roam around the ancient buildings. The most interesting building was the uniquely Irish 30m high round tower; the door is 7m from ground level. During attacks, the monks would climb in with a ladder then pull the ladder inside so that they were safe.

Awesome Ruins

We continued on our way to Father Ted’s pad: if you’re interested in paying a visit yourself, the coordinates are 53°0’37″N 9°1’50″W. We couldn’t resist the opportunity to get a photo at the front gate, although I did feel a little bit nervous as I could see members of the family milling about and thought they might shout at us! On the contrary they were very friendly, and even waved hello.

We drove away rather elated, and then noticed a footpath leading into the Burren National Park. We decided it would be nice to stretch our legs and have a little wander. We didn’t go very far, but we saw loads of rocks and a gigantic hare. The landscape was really interesting, very rocky, and very: well, barren. It’s easy to see why this area was chosen as “Craggy Island”.

Burren

 

Our next stop was the Cliffs of Moher, but as luck would have it our sat nav took us through Lisdoonvarna: just in time for lunch!  I’ve become slightly obsessed with Lisdoonvarna after watching a highly bizarre and hilarious TV show on BBC Alba where two Gaelic lassies from Scotland head off to Lisdoonvarna’s famous matchmaking festival to find a man. Sadly we were there in the off season, but we did find the Matchmaker Bar : which had a sign outside proudly proclaiming that “some matches are made in heaven, but the best are made in Lisdoonvarna”.

Lisdoonvarna

We grabbed some fish and chips in the Irish Arms. It was surprisingly good pub grub, considering we were the only people in the bar and considering it was the off season. To be honest, I was vastly impressed by the general quality of food in Ireland. Sure, I didn’t eat anything exciting, but the amount of care and attention that went into the food made it taste far better than anything I’ve ever eaten in Scotland. There was maybe one meal I had during my time in Ireland that I didn’t enjoy, but we’ll get to that.

After digesting, we drove onwards to the Cliffs of Moher: where they charge you 6 Euro each to get in. SIX EURO EACH! Bloody fortune. Of course, it was definitely worth it to see these beautiful cliffs and gaze out over Ireland’s Atlantic Coast. I don’t really like being high up, so I was a wee bit nervous. The cliffs stand about 702 feet tall: the same size as The Wall in George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, fact fans.

Cliffs of Moher

We decided since we’d paid a bloody fortune to get in that we’d visit the mysteriously titled “Cliffs of Moher Experience!”. Sadly this was just a room where a screensaver of the Cliffs of Moher was playing. Errr. We beat a hasty retreat, and then James enjoyed an espresso in the gift shop while I slurped down a Mr Whippy ice cream because I’m a child.

Understandably, by the time we arrived at our hotel on the outskirts of Killarney we were knackered. We didn’t have the energy to walk all the way into town and explore that too, so I’m ashamed to say we just wandered next door to the Chinese restaurant for our dinner.

Still, it was an amazing day of exploring: and I’d highly recommend it as part of the essential Irish road trip!

Next time: Cork!