Spending Valentine's Day alone in Cork? Whether you dining solo or looking to party with friends - we've got some advice

KATE RYAN 
Spending Valentine's Day alone in Cork? Whether you dining solo or looking to party with friends - we've got some advice

Solo Day, also known as Single’s Awareness Day,  takes place on February 15.  Picture: Stock posed by model

OK, so I’m attached but even I find Valentine’s a bit of a cringe fest, so this year I’ll take my cues from those embracing Solo Day, also known as Single’s Awareness Day, on February 15. 

Instead of booking a table for two, invite round a group of friends, shake up some cocktails and share some incredible food. Find two original recipes from me for that – you’re welcome!

Or else, head into the city and indulge in some of the best eating, drinking and hospitality around that cater well to solo diners with their counter dining culture. Chat to the person next to you, let the staff welcome you under their wing, or strike up a conversation with the head chef. Anything is possible at the counter!

Solo Dining? 

Here are Kate's recommendations for the best places in Cork to dine solo.

  • Miyazaki, Barrack Street: Watch the world go by whilst dining on the best Ramen in Ireland!
  • Goldie Fish & Ale, Oliver Plunkett Street: Let the super friendly staff take you under their wing in this Gill to Tail eatery that’s blowing the critics away.
  • Ichigo Ichie, Fenn’s Quay: Treat Yourself! Grab one of the 5 seats at the counter for the seasonal Michelin-starred Kaseki menu. You’ll be gabbing about Sake to the person next to you in no time.
  • The Glass Curtain, MacCurtain Street: take a pew at their swanky bar, chat to the mixologist and pair those fancy cocktails with delicious small plates.
  • Orso, Pembroke Street: Diminutive it may be, but the flavours are big and the counter is welcoming.

Here Kate shares some recipes to help get the party started.

Rhubarb and Blood Orange Martini
Rhubarb and Blood Orange Martini

Rhubarb and Blood Orange Gin Martini

Ingredients: (makes 6 cocktails)

Liquid from 1 bunch of rhubarb, trimmed, chopped, pulped and strained

Per person: 50ml of your favourite Gin

Juice of 6 Blood Oranges 

1 tbsp Agave syrup

Vanilla

Dusting

Sugar

Method:

  • Use a smoothie maker or processor, add chopped rhubarb and process until the rhubarb is completely pulped. You may need to add a dash of water to help this process along.
  • Arrange some muslin/clean tea towel over a bowl or jug and spoon out the rhubarb pulp into the cloth.
  • Gather up the ends of the cloth and pull tightly into a ball. Begin squeezing the juice out from the pulp into the bowl. This will take a few minutes to get all the juice out.
  • Decant rhubarb juice into a large mason jar, or bottle with a secure lid. Add gin, orange juice, Agave and add plenty of ice.
  • Prepare your cocktail glasses by running the empty orange segments around the rim. Shake out the vanilla sugar onto a plate and dip the rim of the glass to coat.
  • Shake the cocktail mix vigorously and then strain into the prepared glasses.
Pulled Beef and Chocolate Slopp Joe.
Pulled Beef and Chocolate Slopp Joe.

Pulled Chocolate Stout Beef Sloppy Joes 

Ingredients: (will serve 8-10 delighted people!) 

For the Pulled Beef:

8 beef cheeks

2 x sprigs of Rosemary 

2 x fat cloves of garlic (smoked preferably) 

Sea salt, black pepper 

1 x bottle of Chocolate Stout (e.g World’s End by Blacks of Kinsale) 

30g minimum 75% dark chocolate.  I used Clonakilty Chocolate “Dark Decadent” 75% Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVO).

For the Slaw:

Finely sliced red cabbage 

1 x Kohlrabi, spiralised or grated 

5 x red radishes, finely sliced 

2 x spring onion, sliced finely on the round 

2 x tblsp of crème fraiche 

1 x tblsp of good quality, aged Apple Cider Vinegar 

Brioche buns, toasted 

Fresh peppery rocket leaves Fresh parsley.

Method:

  • In a pestle and mortar, crush together the rosemary, smoked garlic and sea salt into a paste. Add some excellent quality EVO to loosen into a spreadable mixture.
  • Pat the beef dry with kitchen paper and place into a casserole dish. Massage the mixture all over the beef well. Cover with foil and place in the fridge to marinade overnight – 24 hours.
  • Take the beef from the fridge an hour before cooking. Heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
  • Pour the contents of the chocolate stout over the beef, drizzle a little more EVO, cover and place in the oven to cook slowly for 4 hours.
  • Periodically, baste with the chocolate stout, and turn halfway through cooking so the top side gets to sit in the chocolate stout for the remaining cooking time. Keep covered.
  • About 30 minutes before it is completely done (you will know because the beef will be starting to feather away), add in the chocolate. Let melt, baste the meat, cover and pop back in the oven for 20 minutes.
  • When cooked, take out the oven and leave it stove-top to cool just enough to handle.
  • Make the slaw. Finely chop red cabbage, finely slice radish and spring onions, and spiralise the kohlrabi. Chop some parsley. Place in a bowl and set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, mix crème fraiche with a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Add the ACV and mix to a consistency that is loose enough to coat the vegetables, but not watery. Mix the slaw together so it is well coated. Check for seasoning.
  • Return to the beef. Life the beef out of its chocolate bath and shred with two forks. Place in a bowl and, a little at a time, add the cooking liquor over the meat so it is evenly coated and shiny looking. 
  • Toast brioche buns and butter. Place on a platter.
  •  Place the pulled beef, slaw and buttered toasted buns on the table and let everyone dig in and build their Sloppy Joe!
  • Perfect served with chips or sautéed potatoes.

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