Irish Tartine

You can find anything you want in Wendy’s Ballymaloe (pronounced Bal-ly-ma-loo) Shop. There are Irish sweaters, a tree of hats and a rainbow stack of scarves. There are gloves and bags, baby blankets and toys. Special chocolates, jams, chutneys, oatmeals and tea fill a corner. Books, cards, table linens, pillows and a wall of Nicholas Moss pottery take up a room next to the cook’s dream kitchen shop packed with Italian pots, French baking tins, knives and gadgets galore plus English Burleigh ware. There’s even a shelf of Spanish wines and a fridge for farmhouse cheeses and smoked fish. Once you’ve perused this splendid Irish shop, there’s a place for lunch or tea at The Café at the Back of the Shop.

Alison runs the café where she presents simple, honest dishes composed to perfection. There’s always an array of cakes and tarts to accompany espresso coffees, and the luncheon offerings showcase many of Ireland’s best foods. Alison’s open sandwiches offer ultimate tartines.

She begins with her homemade soft brown bread laced with sunflower seeds and spread with Bandon butter. Next comes a gentle mound of small organic salad leaves gathered from a nearby greenhouse and dressed with virgin olive oil vinaigrette. On top of the salad there’ll be sliced smoked fish, roast pork, rare beef or local cheddar cheese. At the side a mound of quick cucumber pickle and a dollop of perfect homemade mayonnaise or tomato relish completes the plate. This is not a two-fisted manwich lunch, but a knife-and-fork tartine where a corner of the salad-topped bread, plus some fish and a sliver of pickle, all go onto the back of a fork for delicious mouthfuls. Here’s a sandwich that may be a small plate affair, but in its excellence and balance makes a perfect lunch.

Alison’s Open Sandwich (from The Café at the End of the Shop) for each serving:

Sliced brown bread (Ballymaloe Brown Bread, Jan. 20, 2012)

Soft butter

Small salad leaves

Olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt

Sliced smoked salmon, or flaked poached salmon (or sliced roast beef, pork or chicken)

Quick cucumber pickle (recipe follows)

Dollop of whole milk yogurt or homemade mayonnaise

Fresh chives or parsley, chopped

Mix the clean salad leaves with a twirl of extra virgin olive oil and a few drops of fresh lemon juice to taste. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Spread the bread with butter, mound dressed salad on top and crown with fish, meat or cheese of choice. Sprinkle with chopped herbs and freshly ground black pepper. Accompany with cucumber pickle and mayonnaise or yogurt if desired.

Quick Cucumber Pickle

1 ½ cups thinly sliced cucumber

1 or 2 thinly sliced green onions, or ¼ sweet onion

¼ cup sugar

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

generous pinch salt.

Mix all together and let stand at least an hour if possible or use at once. Add chopped dill or parsley.

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2 Responses to “Irish Tartine”

  1. JOANNE SOBOL Says:

    Hi Mary Jo, can’t wait to try the pickle recipe for certain. We are now in Fort Wayne, where there are a number of creative local restaurants. Still miss going to YOUR restaurant and visiting with you. How are you enjoying Chicago??? JoAnne Sobol at: JMSOBOL44@comcast.net

  2. Judy Hicks Says:

    Makes me want to head to Shannagarry …….

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