A McDreamy McMeel
by Wendy Koro
Irish Chef Noel McMeel
Celebrity Irish chef Noel McMeel is a charmer
--- self assured, boyishly good-looking, and positively exuberant about
food. It's no wonder he's caught the fancy of television audiences throughout
the UK, cooking at the forefront of an edible revolution blazing across
Ireland. I had the great pleasure to sit and chat with him recently
during his lightning quick promotional tour of the U.S. at the Los Angeles
Biltmore Hotel. He was relaxed and engaging despite a brutal schedule,
effortlessly balancing his obligations to the press with the culinary
pressure of cooking a fabulous meal for 300 hungry critics later that
night. Confident in his abilities, Noel is a talented Irish chef on
a mission, conquering one set of taste buds at a time.
The principles McMeel endorses are lofty, yet simple. Find the very
best locally grown seasonal ingredients. Support farms and businesses
that respect the earth. Prepare meals that delight and excite the senses,
but don't let creativity lure you to overcomplicate or overdo. Rule
#1: let the natural flavor of good food shine through.
Noel's commitment to these concepts is long-standing,
unwavering, and not merely the residual effect of the many kitchens
he has graced. He is quick to credit sustainability guru Alice Waters
and her staff at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California for life changing
lessons in culinary simplicity. But McMeel is bent on paying forward
those ideas in his own grand vision for modern-day Ireland. This man
has very big dreams.
A McDreamy McMeel
He's not content to revel in his success at Castle Leslie,
where he cooked for seven and a half years for the likes of Sir Paul
McCartney's lavish nuptials, where he stamped his personality so vividly
that the place is virtually synonymous with his name. It's not enough
that he's a frequent presence on BBC television's Great British Menu,
Food Poker and Master Apprentice and RTE's The Afternoon Show --- all
while undertaking a new challenge at the luxurious Lough Erne Resort
(that's pronounced Lock-Airn, all you Yanks) in Northern Ireland. No,
Chef McMeel has even more fish to fry.
As much as he is presently focused on fine dining, Noel is intent on
spreading his knowledge and philosophy beyond his own kitchen and across
any invisibly drawn class lines. He recently teamed up with Tourism
Ireland in a splashy Boston to L.A. tour of the United States, just
to show American palates firsthand how remarkable Irish cooking has
become. (It was a devious plot to soothe and tantalize us
knew that sensual shot glass of goats buttermilk sorbet was addictive?
But now that we've tasted McDreamy's luscious breast of wood pigeon
atop a caramelized onion glazed puff, his delectably rich Silver Hill
duck confit straddling creamy mashed potatoes with chive and fennel
and an intense drizzle of Irish orchard honey-sweetened stock reduction,
they know we can't stay home.) And Noel's looking to the future, maybe
even a legacy, in another powerful project he's cultivating --- a hands-on
garden-to-kitchen school program to get kids cooking early
just in Ireland, why stop there? To top it all off he's building a new
website to showcase his ideas, share his recipes and boost his friends'
businesses at www.NoelMcMeel.com.
In fact, despite basking in the current fickle spotlight of competitive
cooking, McMeel seems to be a team player-genuinely grounded-and first
and foremost, a really nice guy.
Exceptionally devoted to his craft, Noel uses his talent,
ethos and celebrity to promote a fresh return to smart idealism in the
kitchen. The result is grand food simply delicious to the tongue, healthy
for the belly, good for the Irish economy and oh so kind to the earth.
Check it out, people. One more reason to indulge in
a wee bit of travel... I see a McDreamy Irish McMeel in your future.
Love your lamb shanks.
--- Paul, Scottsdale AZ
Haven't been called Tad for . . .gee, maybe I've NEVER been
called Tad . . . guess I'm the only one with chutzpah enough to mention Bourdain.
--- Ken, Shutesbury, MA
I think we must have had an entirely different experience in
the UK. (Fresh Food and Real Ale week 1). We were up in Edinburgh and
they served something called Neeps & Tatties. The items were
boiled so long that I couldnt even recognize what I was eating. Come to
think of it
I couldnt taste them either. Later I found that Neeps
are Turnips and Tatties are potatoes.
--- Lindy, Phoenix, AZ
My mouth was watering as I read some of your descriptions of
the fantastic fare of ... England? I had always felt smug about the lowly reputation
of British cuisine as this gave us at least one country with a worse culinary
reputation than America's. I guess I'll have to change my views. Your article
made me actually want to take a CULINARY tour of Britain. Yummy yummy yummy.
--- Sandy Miner, Portland, OR
Thanks for your note. Thanks to Traveling
Boy I get to interview a world famous chef this week who is widely recognized
as spearheading the Yummy movement in Ireland. Guess I'll have to take yet another
culinary tour a little further north and check it out... (I love my job!) ---
Very interesting, mouth-watering piece by Audrey! (A McDreamy McMeel). Your
web site is fascinating!
--- Susie, Victoria, BC
Combining travel, food, and intelligent advice -- BRILLIANT!
Your site fills a long-felt need for hungry roamers. Keep it up! It's Anthony
Bourdain with reservations and CLASS.
--- Tad, Boston, MA
Lake Geneva/ Matterhorn Region and Switzerland Tourism
recently blew into Los Angeles with the most esteemed guest, Eugene Chaplin.
A man of remarkable lineage, he is the fifth child of Oona O'Neill and Sir
Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, the grandson of playwright
Eugene O'Neill, the brother of Geraldine Chaplin and father of actress/model
Eugene Chaplin Introduces Chaplin's World Museum
in Vevey, Switzerland
Treasures of Ireland: Galway Bay (Dispatch
The late Bing Crosby crooned about it, but The
Palladian Traveler, with tears in his eyes and a lump in his throat, is
there along the rocky shore to see the sun slowly go down on Galway Bay.
Is it more momentous for a Brit to do the Buckingham
Palace tour than say an American or indeed any other nationality? Yes, I
know that's an odd question, but if you grow up as I did in
London back in the 1950s, getting inside Buckingham Palace was the stuff
of dreams. Hence my surprise at touring BP in 2005.
Buckingham Palace It's THE Most Popular Tour
in Great Britain (Part 2 of a 2-Part Series)
The first thing you notice is the fragrance. The intoxicating
perfume of the tiare flower announces to your senses that you are in a magical
place, overflowing with tropical vegetation and soothing trade winds. It
is the same fragrance that the English seamen on the HMS Bounty also first
encountered; but they came, not for flowers, but for breadfruit, intended
as a new food staple for their slaves in the West Indies.
Paradise on Earth: The Romance of
Tahiti and Her Islands
The Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras in Lake Charles,
the second largest in Louisiana, does not need parents there to avert their
childrens eyes. This is family entertainment and children are very
much part of it. The main office of the Lake Charles CVB has costumes from
last years Mardi Gras but it also has figures to fascinate little
ones from country boys fishing for their dinner to alligators who have already
fed and are rubbing their stomachs.
Lake Charles Family-Size Low-Key Mardi Gras
Walking home to our apartment in Venice, we share a
wave through the window with the owner of Baba, our local osteria. Leaving
for a day of sightseeing, a cup of my favorite pistachio gelato awaits me
despite the early hour. At the Bar Dugole, we relax after a day of sightseeing
and order the regular: vodka for my husband and Amaretto for me.
Exploring Venice: Lost and Found. And Special Finds.
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For a wealth of travel ideas to fit every
price range, interest and style, see www.DiscoverIreland.com
Whether your passion is food, history, gardening, golf, castles, the arts,
incredible scenery, or all of the above, you can enjoy the magic of Ireland
on foot, cycle and horseback, by self-driven car, on escorted tours or
in chauffeur-driven luxury. "Cookery courses" in the Search
bar will yield an extensive list of cooking schools.
here for Noel's goat's buttermilk sorbet recipe, see
A helpful site is www.goodfoodireland.ie
which lists many food events, artisan and farmer's markets, and some of
the best eating and drinking spots in a host of Irish locales.