I’ve been reviewing books for awhile now, but this is a first for me. When the opportunity came along to select a cookbook for review, I was ULTRA excited to choose this one. Cathal Armstrong is known for having seven restaurants in the Washington, DC area (while I didn’t know his name, I live within half an hour of DC), and my mother is Irish, so a cookbook focused on Irish cuisine just “spoke” to me. That said, I wasn’t at all prepared for how incredibly authentic the recipes actually are. There are quite a few ingredients that are definitely not things we (the vast majority of Americans) would typically have in our fridge or pantry, and in all honesty, I don’t have any idea where you’d find things like pigs blood or intestines (apart from a butcher, but I haven’t seen one since we moved to Northern Virginia!). That said, while some of the recipes were definitely not things I’d want to try (see the previous sentence), there were some amazing looking recipes for things that I know. It was pretty exciting making things that are familiar to me, but in ways that were just enough different to make them “new”.
The cookbook is unique (to me, at least) in how it really reads like a book, with stories behind the recipes, stories about his life and growing up, how he became a chef in DC, his journey moving up the ranks to now be running seven (seven!!) of his own restaurants… even if you aren’t too interested in making everything included in this book, the stories and pictures will keep your interest all on their own!
I chose to make two recipes – Quiche Lorraine (which he is quick to say isn’t exactly Irish, but he’s adapted it), and Potato and Leek Soup. My mother made quiche for Christmas each year, and I have long enjoyed my own version of potato and leek soup. What I appreciated about each of these recipes is that they weren’t low-calorie or low-fat, they called for butter (lots of it), heavy cream (no skim milk anywhere in this book!), and they gave very simple step-by-step directions for how to make them. Each one turned out to be extremely yummy, and they were definitely enjoyed!
If you’re looking for a book that’s not “just” a bunch of recipes, but a glimpse into the life of the Irish, stories that make you laugh, and recipes that are truly authentic, go no further. This is one that we will (very proudly!) keep on our shelf, and use throughout the year. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to check it out!
I received a free copy of this cookbook from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review. All the thoughts and opinions expressed here are completely my own.