07/03/2006 - 21:00

Sophisticated craic on Ireland’s day

07/03/2006 - 21:00


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St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Perth this year are taking a decidedly more sophisticated turn, thanks to the newly formed WA Lansdowne Club.

Sophisticated craic on Ireland’s day

St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Perth this year are taking a decidedly more sophisticated turn, thanks to the newly formed WA Lansdowne Club.

Formerly the Irish Australian Busi-ness Association, the newly formed organisation has been formed to rep-resent Irish business interests in WA.

The WA club is modelled heavily on the NSW Lansdowne Club, which was formed in 1986 as a networking association with 70 members, including Perth Convention Exhibition Centre CEO Paul D’Arcy.

Now Mr D’Arcy has helped bring the club to Perth, and the first order for the day, according to Lansdowne chairman Michael Deering, is Perth’s inaugural Lansdowne luncheon. (The name ‘Lansdowne’ is a reference to Lansdowne Road, the home of Irish rugby union.)

So this year, instead of crowded Irish pubs, the PCEC is transforming itself for Ireland’s most festive of days. Organisers are expecting to attract more than 500 corporate and city revellers, traditional entertainment, cuisine and, of course, beer, have been prepared for the event.

When asked what sort of St Patrick’s Day celebrations the Irish Australian Business Association can organise, Mr Deering says it will be good craic.

“I’ve never been to an Irish event in Australia without plenty of laughs and good humour and I’m sure we will have tonnes of it on the day,” he says. “And let me put it this way … you’ll have to write off the afternoon.”

Facilitating this ‘shamrock chic’ is the effort to which the convention centre is transforming itself for the day. Little wonder such planning and commitment has gone into the event, considering Mr D’Arcy’s cultural heritage, which is shared by executive chef Adrian Tobin.

An Irish Pub, aptly named D’Arcy’s, has been constructed at the centre especially for the day and is expected to become the hub of Irish revelry. Aside from this, Irish comedian Brian Doyle has been flown in, as has traditional musician Carmel Gunning, while contemporary local Irish band Molleezbarrah will also play.

Local Irish media identity Sinead Mangan will be the event’s MC.

But of particular interest is the food being prepared by chef Tobin.

Not only is Mr Tobin the centre’s multi award-winning executive chef, playing an increasingly important role in the PCEC’s recent success at tourism awards around the country, he is also of Irish stock.

His three-course menu is a snapshot of the traditional elements of Irish cuisine, modernised and updated for a country like Australia.

“I wanted to focus on traditional Irish food, to get that real taste,” Mr Tobin says.

Beginning with an entrée of hot smoked ocean trout, soda bread is served with Irish salted butter.

As the name would suggest, soda bread is bread made with soda substituted for the yeast. It is still a traditional staple in Irish diets today.

“We’re serving the bread with salted butter, which I love,” Mr Tobin says. “It’s getting harder and harder to find it because everyone prefers unsalted, but you can’t beat its taste.”

For main course there’s garlic and rosemary braised beef cheeks, a dish perhaps now as popular in Australia as it is in Ireland. These are served with Irish black pudding and colcannon cake, a hearty mixture of baked mashed potatoes and cabbage.

Baileys Irish Cream-macerated strawberries finish for dessert on a menu matched with Guinness (on tap of course), Kilkenny beer and specially selected wines.

“The most important thing about the menu is that everything is home made,” Mr Tobin says. “If I can sum up the whole theme of it, it is that everything comes from authentic recipes and is made by us right here.”

So, as preparations are being finished for the luncheon, it leaves just one burning question about the whole affair. Why are the Irish so good at throwing a party?

“The Irish are good at spinning a yarn, at telling a story and letting their hair down. Having a good time has never come hard for an Irishman; in fact we almost see it as our duty,” Mr Tobin says.


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