This little country of ours is full of hidden treasures and recently I was lucky enough to be brought to one as a surprise, you could almost say it was a double surprise. In the middle of nowhere, up a small, narrow road with grass in the middle of it. No I was not digging for gold but looking for good food.
As I got out of the car I still had no idea where I was but was met by two smiling faces who informed me that I was in Gort Na Nain, Nohoval, Kinsale, Co Cork, and I was there for the night to eat dinner and sleep well.
Lucy Stewart and Ultan Walsh are the type of people that should be running this country, they had a vision, spent three years living in a mobile home while growing the most fantastic vegetables and fruit, they hooked up with Denis Cotter of Café Paradiso and bingo their vision became reality.
They both work really hard on their nine acres of land growing asparagus, artichokes, sea kale, aubergines, peppers and lots more exciting vegetables and in the evening they cook and host beautiful meals. As a chef I really appreciate sitting down for dinner when someone else does the cooking, and boy can Ultan cook, beetroot ravioli to start with followed by polenta with sea kale, beans, roast garlic and red pepper sauce and to finish with short bread and strawberries, all of which the dynamic duo grew and cooked for me. Yes they grew all the food I eat that night within yards of where I was sitting. This is the way forward; the future of Irish food is in the hands of people like Ultan and Lucy.
So all I can say is look them up and look into the future………