These dishes are part of this year’s 4th annual Gaelic Gourmet Week in Boston, a moveable feast of upscale culinary events in the city’s finest hotels, restaurants, pubs, museums and theaters.
The culinary feasts focus on Ireland’s relatively new status as a culinary destination, and puts Ireland’s leading chefs alongside their counterparts in the United States and Canada, where the gathering of chefs can share culinary techniques, recipes and traditions.
The menu also reflects the changing tastes of Irish-American culture, which had somehow gotten mired for decades in a belief and practice that Irish food was strictly a boiled affair.
Tourism Ireland and the Boston Irish Tourism Association are co-sponsors of the event, along with the Irish Dairy Board, Michael Collins Whiskey and the Canadian Consulate General of Boston.
“Ireland is enjoying a culinary renaissance, and March is the perfect month to convey this exciting trend to the American public,” said Joe Byrne, Executive vice president, United States and Canada for Tourism Ireland.
“We want Americans who are thinking about an Irish vacation this year to know they can expect excellent cuisine.”
And because the exchange rate is driving thousands more international visitors to Boston, tourism officials here are also seeing many visitors from Ireland, who connect with the city’s Irish heritage and population.
Boston simply loves Irish visitors, and they tell us they really appreciate the good feeling they get in our city,” said Larry Meehan, vice president of the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau.
This year’s Boston celebration features visiting master chefs Padraic Hayden from the Dylan Hotel in Dublin, Tony O’Neill from the Merchant Hotel in Belfast, Paul McKnight from Culloden Estate and Spa in Belfast, Sean Doucet from the Delta Barrington Hotel in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Neil Connolly from Docs Restaurant in Orlando, Florida.
Chef Connolly kicks off the festivities on Sunday, March 9 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library where he will do a demonstration from one of the Kennedy family’s favorite recipes – lobster stew.
He’ll answer culinary and Kennedy questions, and sign copies of his book, “In the Kennedy Kitchen: Recipes and Recollections on a Great American Family.”
Connolly was the personal chef to Rose Kennedy and the whole family at the Kennedy Compound in Hyannisport, Cape Cod from 1983-1995. Born in Boston, Connolly now lives in Orlando, where he runs Docs.
The next evening Connolly cooks a four-course meal at the historic Omni Parker House in Boston, where Charles Dickens used to stay, and where the Kennedy clan held many of its political victory parties over the years.
For Parker House marketing director Dave Ritchie, this is the fourth year the hotel has hosted an Irish dinner.
Master Chef Ciaran Gantly, formerly of Glenlo Abbey and now chef/owner of Rockbarton Park Hotel in Salt Hill, was the first Irish chef in 2005, followed by Kevin Dundon, of the Dunbrody House and Mark Donohue of Adare Manor.
On Tuesday, March 12, Boston’s famous Black Rose Pub hosts an Irish Whiskey and Cheese reception, sponsored by Michael Collins Irish Whiskey and the Irish Dairy Board/Kerry Gold.
It’s being hosted by the Glynn Hospitality Group which owns several of the city’s top Irish pubs. Dublin-born Paul Wilson, director of operations, said last year the company converted the upstairs to an intimate space for diners to enjoy their surroundings overlooking Faneuil Hall Marketplace.
The three Irish chefs are arriving later in the week for the marquee event, the Gaelic Gourmet Gala, held at the luxurious Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square, just next to Fenway Park.
Now in its third year, the Gala has been described as a gourmet grazing affair where guests can mingle and sample amongst six food stations, each with a local and a visiting chef, to contrast the various styles of Irish, Canadian and American cooking.
They’ll be joined by top Boston chefs Michael Schlow, who is the host chef at the Gala, along with celebrity chefs Patrick Connolly, Adam Fuller, Andy Husbands, Mike Pagliaini, Marco Suarez, and husband-and-wife chefs Seth and Angela Raynor from Nantucket.
Joining the Irish and American chefs this year is Canadian Chef Sean Doucet of Halifax, Nova Scotia, who traces his Irish roots back to Athlone. The Canadian Maritimes have a solid culinary tradition that is flavored by Irish, Scottish and French influences, and also, of course, by proximity to the sea.
Doucet is also presiding over a private reception hosted by the Canadian Consulate General of Boston at the Top of the Hub Restaurant just before the Gala. That event features young Cape Breton fiddle sensation Kimberly Frazier, who is in Boston studying at the Berklee College of Music.
The feast moves over to Eastern Standard Restaurant on Saturday, March 15, as Irish Chef Tony O’Neill and Eastern’s chef Marco Suarez cook up an Irish breakfast,
On Sunday, March 16, at Jury’s Boston Hotel, visiting Chef Paul McKnight from Culloden Estate and Spa in Belfast teams up with Jury’s chef James Tierney, who is originally from Castlebar, to prepare a five course meal in the hotel’s stylish restaurant, Stanhope Grille.
The new wave of Gaelic Gourmet cooking, meanwhile, is spreading beyond the hotels and pubs and into the city’s cultural venues and nightlife.
Lee Statham, marketing director at the John F. Kennedy Library, says the Connolly cooking event, which is part of the Library’s prestigious Forum Series, has elicited nearly one thousand requests to attend.
And the Bee Hive jazz club in Boston’s South End, is initiating its first annual “Bee Irish” night on March 17, featuring an Irish blues band, Hogan’s Goat, led by Robert Emmet Dunlap. Chef Rebecca Newell has put on the menu Lamb, Barley and Parsnip Stew, Wild Irish Salmon, and Apple Oatmeal Crisp. There’s no sign of corned beef anywhere.
The Gaelic Gourmet Week ends of a musical note on Monday, March 17, at the Seaport Boston Hotel along the city’s waterfront. Fiddle champion Seamus Connolly, uilleann piper Jimmy O’Brien Moran, and multi-instrumentalist Kevin McElroy play an afternoon set of traditional music in the hotel’s newly renovated lounge.
For more information on Gaelic Gourmet Week and a list of Irish activities in Massachusetts, visit www.IrishMassachusetts.com or call 617 696-9880.