This column is a continuing series by Chef Peter X. Kelly of Xaviars Restaurant Group which runs every Thursday.
As a kid growing up in a rather large Irish Catholic family, St. Patrick’s Day was always a celebration. There was morning Mass dressed in a green hand-me-down tie and a shamrock stenciled on my cheek.
While in Catholic grammar school we were always allowed to take the day off to either march in the parade down Fifth Avenue or to be a spectator on the avenue near St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Listening to the Pipe & Drum bands as they made their way past the crowds always gave me goose bumps and a feeling of deep pride in my heritage.
Through high school and college years, riding the train into NYC on March 17th became tradition. Watching the parade and then heading over to the Irish bars on First and Second Avenue became a rite of passage. Irish Pubs like Flemings, The Blarney Stone, Flannigan’s and several others were packed with suburban youth experiencing their first “pint of Guinness” while listening to the Clancy Brothers sing Brennan on the moor sung with a true Irish brogue.
But these days it’s the cuisine of Ireland that truly excites me around the St. Patricks Day celebration. Ireland was truly one of the first places that understood the importance of the Farm to Table movement.
Myrtle Allen at Ballymaloe in Cork Ireland is the quintessential Farm to Table restaurant. For more than 40 years the Allen family has been feeding guests with fish brought in daily from the waters at Balleycotton and lamb raised for them at Cloyne paired with all the fresh produce right from the farm surrounding the Inn at Ballymaloe. It’s a cuisine as fresh as the morning’s market served with genuine Irish hospitality.
A little Irish prayer for all:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Happy St. Paddy’s Day!
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