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Irish Degustation

n 10 December the Irish Embassy hosted a degustation for the Irish food and drink industry. The theme was “Ireland: Food Island”, presumably to counter the previous prejudice, which was Ireland: drink island. But the truth was both were marvellous. In the presence of the new Irish Ambassador to Russia, Philip McDonagh, a lunch of quite extraordinary quality was provided to a small table of invited guests. The main course was beef on mashed potatoes. This sounds plain, and it was—triumphantly. It was, quite simply, the besthung, best-cooked and generally nicest beef I have ever tasted. This was followed by a variety of cheeses from Ireland, not normally thought of as a cheese island. However, the “Cooleeny Raw Mature” was something to die for. It can only be obtained from Sheridan’s cheesemongers in County Meath (, but the aim its to export it to Russia in due course. All this was followed by a tasting of no less than fifteen whiskies, from Jameson’s to Tyrconnell, plus a range of Irish cream liqueurs. While the English-speakers at the bottom end of the table swapped anecdotes about Moscow, the Russians, who were in the majority, took notes. The best place to learn their views on the wonders of the Emerald Isle’s napitky is

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