We had a fantastic night at the Irish Restaurant Awards and we were so delighted to win Best Customer Service in Ulster and also Best Restaurant in Ulster. The awards are brought to us every year by the Restaurant Association of Ireland and it is hard to believe that next year will be their 10th year.
There were 900 people there on the night and the awards are a fantastic celebration of Irish food and the restaurant industry. I have been saying for a number of years now we are in a great place in Ireland when it comes to food; and that was pretty clear with the food that was served up on the night with different chefs and restaurants cooking each course. The food was, as always, beautiful.
We were over the moon to pick up best Customer Service in Ulster. There is a lot more to a restaurant than just the food and it is great that our front of house team got recognition for all the brilliant work that they do. The food is only one piece of the jigsaw; you have the service, the welcome, the decor, the ambience and all of it adds up to the experience that the diner has with us.
Myself and Amelda are so grateful to all the staff that we have with us. It is like a big family here in MacNean House and Restaurant and that is never going to change.
Of course we also have to thank all our brilliant customers. They are very loyal and supportive of what we do here in Blacklion. We are very proud of the restaurant and the type of experience we try to create for our customers and to get their approval is very important to us.
So thank you all very much and now I am going to share with you one of my favourite dishes from the MacNean Restaurant Cookbook: I hope you all enjoy.
Macnean cheesecake with raspberries and white chocolate
You will need:
400g (14oz) cream cheese
100g (4oz) icing sugar
Finely grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon
1 vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out
200g (7oz) white chocolate, broken into squares
200ml (7fl oz) cream
8 shortbread biscuits, finely broken up
White chocolate curls, to decorate
Dried raspberries (shop bought), to decorate
Baby Maltesers (shop bought), to decorate
Spun sugar, to decorate
Fresh mint sprigs, to decorate
8 jammie dodgers, to serve
For the poached raspberries
300ml (1/2 pint) red wine
2 tbsp crème de cassis
75g (3oz) caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1/2 vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out
400g (14oz) raspberries, plus extra to decorate
FOR THE CHEESECAKE:
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, icing sugar, lemon rind and juice and vanilla seeds for about 5 minutes, until smooth and light.
Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool a little. Meanwhile, place the cream in a separate bowl and whip until stiff.
Fold the melted chocolate into the cream cheese mixture and then carefully fold in the whipped cream. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1cm (1/2in) plain nozzle and place in the fridge until needed.
FOR THE POACHED RASPBERRIES:
To poach the raspberries, place the red wine and crème de cassis in a pan with the sugar, cinnamon stick, star anise and vanilla pod and seeds and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until reduced by half and slightly thickened. Place the raspberries in a heatproof bowl and pour over the wine mixture through a fine sieve, discarding the cinnamon stick, star anise and vanilla pod. Stir to combine and leave to cool.
To assemble the cheesecake, divide the poached raspberries among martini glasses and crumble the shortbread biscuits on top. Pipe the cheesecake mixture right up to the rim of the glasses and decorate with raspberries, white chocolate curls, dried raspberries, baby Maltesers, spun sugar and mint sprigs.
To serve, arrange the cheesecakes on plates with a jammie dodger.