I had been dying to try this unique and fun idea of the Cookbook Club having read about it and signed up for the newsletter and eventually made it to my first one last night. The Cookbook Club is an original event where a well known chef hands their cookbook over to the restaurant team to re-create a selection of signature dishes from the most recent cookbook. And even better the featured chef on this particular month was one of my favourites Neven Maguire, a truly genuine Irish man passionate about food and cooking.

Elaine Walsh, the brainchild behind and host of the cookbook club, warmly welcomed all diners on arrival. The Cookbook Club was set up in September 2010 and has gone from strength to strengh recently branching out into languages by hosting French Club and next year Italian and Spanish Club and Elaine has also taken the concept to New York. Last night was the 10th Cookbook club and was another sell out with a mix of newcomers and regulars. It was held at the Radisson Blu hotel in Dublin City Centre where the chefs of the restaurant Brasserie de Verres En Vers re-created dishes from Neven Maguire’s brand new cookbook ‘The MacNean Restaurant Cookbook’.

The menu provided a choice of an appetiser, three starters, three mains and three desserts with the page numbers for the associated recipes from the book who those brave enough to recreate them at home:
Organic Salmon Sausage with Creamed Leeks and Lemon Butter Sauce
Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup
Duck Confit with Crispy Vegtables
Tempura of Sole with Curried Mayonnaise and Chilli Jam
Cod with Bean and Chorizo Cassoulet
Trio of Chicken with Baby Carrots
Aubergine and Potato Dhansak
Passion Fruit and Orange Jelly
Warm Chocolate and fudge Brownie with Boozy Fudge Sauce
Toasted coconut and Malibu Parfait with Pineapple Carpacio and Coconut Sorbet
Tea/Coffee with Petit Fours

Neven gave a warm and engaging speech and brought us through the menu and provided an insight into his busy life and the history of MacNeans. He also went round each table and chatted with the diners. He was there at the end of the night to sign copies of his book at a discount. The whole evening was a great success – the food wasn’t perfect but overall the evening was great fun. For me the winner was the trio of chicken – chicken done three ways. Judging from my fellow diners, the cassoulet was disappointing being quite bland and unfortunately the brownie didn’t live up to my expectations but the chefs did a good job. We went home full, happy and with a parting gift of mince pies left under the christmas tree. Can’t think of a better way to start my christmas celebrations and would thoroughly recommend the Cookbook Club to anyone looking for a night out with a difference.

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