Bhutan to Bunagee – Taste the Island at McGrory’s Hotel

Sue Glackin, Carole Harkin  and Emma Wallace

We were invited to McGorys in Culdaff on Saturday evening for their event – Bhutan to Bunagee, which was part of ‘Taste the Island’, a program of events in conjunction with Failte Ireland. 

As explained in some of our write-ups recently – Taste the Island is an amazing new initiative created by Failte Ireland to spread visitor numbers to the regions and expand the season beyond the summer peak. Food and drink account 35 percent of overseas tourism revenue worth €2 billion a year according to Failte Ireland, so it is vitally important that we provide our visitors with a good lasting impression of the high quality produce we have in our country.

On Saturday we made our way to the most northerly region of Ireland to taste some local produce with a Bhutanese twist and listen to stories about the history of food in the area from local men Dessie McCallion and William Mc Elhinney ( Owner at Wild Strands Caife, Malin Head ).

We began the evening with a craft beer tasting from Donegal Brewers – Old Mill Brewing in the reception area of McGrorys Hotel. Chilled beer by a blazing log fire set the mood for what was to be a very relaxing evening, with lots of great food and fantastic stories.

After our first course of Mixed Lentil and Culdaff Potato Chat, Dessie McCallion explained a little bit about the connection between Culdaff, potatoes and the Himalayas. Frederick Young an ancestor of Dessies was the first person to bring the humble potato to Mussoorie in the Indian Himalayas in the 1820’s. A fitting tale to tell with Head Chef at McGrorys being Bhutanese man, Kamal Rai.

The second course was ‘ Tandoori Boggs Lamb Skewers with Mint, Red Onion, and Chilli Raita’, followed by ‘ Noone’s Chicken Roll, Wild Mushrooms, Fresh Ginger, Lime with a Coriander and Wild Sichuan Pepper infused Pineapple and Mango Salsa’. With the third course being a Fish Course of ‘ Spiced Medallions of Greencastle Monkfish wrapped in Parma Ham, Pan Seared Salmon and Masala Dublin Bay King Prawn Kebab with Grilled Asparagus and a Saffron, Ginger, and Chorizo Cream’.

Before dessert was served, we listened to ‘The Seaweed Man’ and Wild Strands Caife Owner, William McElhinney talk about the philosophy of food and the connection between food, the land, and the people. William called upon diners to think about a food from their childhood and the memories and connections attached to it. He also spoke about events such as this one being so important in bringing people together to support, real, authentic food and producers in our own localities.

Next Taste the Island Event – ‘Its a Wild Game’ will take place at CastleGrove Country House on Sat Nov 30th.  Follow the link for details