8 October 2021
By Tom Collins
The sheep graze freely, without the restrictions of wiring or fencing… The meadow is salty from sea spray, and this gives the lamb its highly valued pre-sale flavour.
After a two-year absence, Cork’s Market Lane group of restaurants will once again celebrate the arrival of prized Blasket Island Lamb on their October menus.
The group, which includes Market Lane, Elbow Lane, ORSO, and Castle Restaurant Blackrock are the only restaurants in the country to showcase this delicious award-winning produce which is available in very limited supply. Dishes, which have been created by executive chef, Stephen Kehoe, will be on menus for 2 weeks from mid-October until all of this wonderful produce has been served up to appreciative diners.
Some examples of dishes include ‘Braised Moroccan Blasket Island lamb shank on a bed of turmeric, feta, pomegranate and giant couscous served with lamb reduction, ‘Braised Lamb shoulder glazed in pomegranate molasses lamb jus, with warm baba ghanoush and ribbons of carrot and cucumber in caraway pickle’, ‘Monkfish, lamb pastrami, tomato and horseradish salsa with mussel emulsion’ and ‘Wood-grilled lamb chops, ember cooked courgette, pistachio mole and feta’.
Their island habitat is what makes this lamb so special. The animals graze on the small Blasket island of Beginish, a natural bird sanctuary, which means that the soil is incredibly fertile. There the lambs, which are born in the summer, graze in a marshy meadow full of heather, grasslands and wild herbs, which gives the meat a unique depth of flavour. The meadow is salty from sea spray, and this gives the lamb its highly valued pre-sale flavour.
As the animals are free to roam uninterrupted, there is no forced fattening. The lamb is leaner, “creating a near-perfect fat to meat ratio” says award-winning Dingle Butcher, Jerry Kennedy, who looks after the lamb when it comes off the island. “This is the perfect example of produce that is not only free-range, but contains no additives, colourants or preservatives and is vaccination free.”
Kehoe says “this is arguably the most delicious lamb in the country and we are delighted as a group to highlight it. Its impeccable provenance is reflected in its superior quality and flavour. We are very proud to be the only restaurants to serve it to our customers, and are delighted to have it back again as a highlight of our Autumn menus.”
For further information about this celebration of Blasket Island Lamb at the Market Lane Group check out www.marketlane.ie