Hello, all !
What a monsoon day it is today ! The exact monsoon day of my childhood-and just as we were all giving up hope ! Sky- a uniform dark grey and when you wake up at 6.30 am-a steady light rain that you know will not stop and that will make your school stay shut-after they declare it a ‘rainy day’ ! Such joy ! And your mother would cook khichdi and pakora for lunch–no better time to enjoy these than on a rainy day !
In another country, Ireland, we encountered similar weather but almost every other day, throughout the year ! However, no ‘rainy day’ or khichdi there ! The Irish have built themselves worthy places to counter this weather–pubs and more pubs and cozy cafes and restaurants. These are the places you gather in- talk, laugh, sing –drink, of course, drink some more and eat.
A place I absolutely adored- not just for its food but also for its marvelous decor was the Fern House cafe at Avoca, Kilmacanogue Ireland. ‘Avoca’ or Avoca Handweavers, as it should be called but never is, is a retail clothing, blankets, food business in Ireland. They have quite a few outlets- packed with goods-beautifully displayed. And the best part- very good cafes attached to each one. Every time I went into the cafe at Kilmacanogue I would love it afresh ! In fact, it was the very first café I visited in Ireland. My friend Binha introduced me to it on a drizzly November afternoon..
The flower laden, welcoming entrance to the large shop and cafe-
Avoca woollen mills was founded in the 1720s . It later became defunct and faced closure. In 1984, Donald Pratt, the lawyer who was handling the sale of the mill, in a surge of inspiration, bought it himself. He and his wife Hilary put the mill back on its feet–introducing brilliant colors to the blankets and throws–which soon became popular in the UK and around the world.They built beautiful outlets and introduced food halls and cafes.
And what cafes !
A view of the Fern House cafe as you walk in from the shop –
It is built like a Victorian fern house with tall windows overlooking masses of greenery. The masses of greenery are cleverly created with parts of the grounds surrounding the café raised to form sloping walls which have then been packed with plants.
The café itself-spacious and airy –
And filled with greenery-in clay pots-
-and raised planters-
-and in the middle of tables in natural wood-
An eclectic mix of furniture– from wood benches-
To wrought iron-with distressed paint–and my favorite blue on some seats-it is fabric produced in their own mills-
To comfortable cane-
To Victorian style painted formal dining chairs-
On floors of classic chequered black and white-
There are even distressed leather arm chairs in a corner–inviting and comfortable-
A fabulous detail on the glass chandeliers– something you would never expect–humble cutlery!
Cutlery tied on with ribbon–never seen cutlery looking so good !
On the counter- casually arranged flowers and plants–full of freshness and life-
A little detail–so much in keeping with the rest of the decor– a cake plate covered in burlap-
And then the elegantly presented, fabulous food–the Avoca platter-served on slices of wood-
Roasted garlic eggplant with a basil and tomato dressing-
Then a Hake with a lemon and parmesan crust-
The service is superb–the waiters friendly and attentive.
It is, as the Irish say, brilliant and gorgeous- thanks to the Pratt family !
Hope you enjoyed these images as much as I did ! I, for one, am going to copy their distressed paint and blue cushions idea–I love it too much !
Those of you in North India—enjoy the late monsoon rains and eat all the bhutta while they are still in season !
And those of you in Ireland–do go, have some craic at Avoca ! ‘Bye until next time..