Pumpkin Lunch at Virginia Park Lodge

Oct 18, 2015 by

Pumpkin Lunch at Virginia Park Lodge
Facing Lough Ramor 

Virginia Park Lodge originally the shooting, hunting, fishing lodge of the Marquis of Headfort and in previous incarnations an hotel, a cookery school and now owned by well known chef Richard Corrigan.

The Border Bites crew booked in advance to have lunch here at the start of the Pumpkin Festival which is held every year in Virginia, Co. Cavan. After several weeks of an Indian Summer the autumn colour in the estate is spectacular and the renovations superb. The last time I was here years ago was when it was The Park Hotel. A faded, slightly shabby grand old lady with stiff linen and hotel food typical of that era in Ireland.

Impressive pumpkin table display in the entrance hall

Huge fire place in the entrance hall
The lawn sloping down to the lake

The lunch was held in a very luxurious and attractive marquee that fits well into the site, situated beside the lodge and looking out over Lough Ramor.

The marquee

Lovely bright airy marquee with views over lake

Pumpkin themed table centre piece

But to the food. We had a chesnut and ricotta raviolo with a pumpkin soup to start. Up to this I have never been a huge fan of chesnut but I really loved this. A big bowl of autumn.

Raviolo and pumpkin soup
Pork two ways, pumpkin, celeriac
Red and green cabbage

I have serious misgivings about eating pork. In fact I make a point of avoiding it if I can, but it did say free range even if free range is a very loose term. I wasn’t overly enamoured with the belly, it was a bit rubbery but the slow cooked shoulder was melt in the mouth and had a very good flavour, The red cabbage was the star though. It had been smoked and braised in red wine. We were all convinced we could taste apple but when we asked they said no. A big bowl of creamy butter mash had everyone groaning with pleasure. All the vegetables tasted home grown and freshly pulled from the gardens here on the estate.

Steamed pumpkin pudding with rum caramel ice cream

A steamed pudding to finish. Sometimes the simple done well is sublime. This was. Light, fluffy sponge that was moist and speckled with pumpkin. I could have licked the plate.

Petit fours with a pumpkin filling

It is some achievement to base a meal around one ingredient and not have diners groaning enough but the chef managed it. The quality of the ingredients shine, the cooking is simple but skillful.

I had been looking forward to trying out the food here. I left impressed. We so badly need more of this in rural areas of Ireland instead of same old, same old menus appealing to the masses.

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2 Comments

  1. Yes shame I didn't take a photo of the amuse buche. When you have the best pork in the country at home it's very difficult for any other pork to live up to it. Terrific meal though. Can't wait to go back.

  2. Yep, full agreement, except I liked the crispy edge on the pork belly, my first time to eat same. The amuse bouche tiny pumpkin pastry cup was my top favourite taste of the entire day.
    For a No Choice menu based on one ingredient, it was an amazing 'cleaned plates' all round. And, very unusually for Ireland, the coffee was terrific.

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