Tom Bergin's Fried Cooleeney Cheese

While St. Patrick's Day may stereotypically mean taking your meals in liquid form, Fairfax mainstay Tom Bergin's has always given customers a reason to ditch the stein for a few moments and pick up a knife and fork. Unfortunately, if you're planning on heading there for this year's Irish holiday, you're going to be terribly disappointed -- it will be closed.

But it's not all bad news. The closure is in service of giving the oldest Irish establishment in L.A. a much-needed facelift. New owners Brandon Boudet and Warren Ebbick (of Dominick's, Little Dom's and The 101 Coffee Shop) are trying to bring back the classic idea of what Bergin's was in the '40s, '50s and '60s. "A straight-forward steakhouse and local watering hole," says Boudet. New menu items will include cottage pie croquettes, fried cooleeney cheese, housemade corned beef with brown butter cabbage, and a traditional Irish breakfast that will be served all day. Boudet will also pay homage to his Louisiana roots by creating his version of blood pudding with a spicy kick.

And what watering hole would be complete without alcohol trickling into as many dishes as possible? "Beer, wine, and spirits will definitely play a part in the food menu," says Boudet, "like Irish whiskey in our housemade mustard, Guinness gelato, or by properly pairing great locally brewed beer with a great Irish cheese."

Speaking of great Irish cheese, here's a recipe they're workshopping for the new Bergin's. Give it a whirl this Saturday and tell us what you think!

Fried Cooleeney Cheese w/ Curried Currants & Toasted Almonds

Curried currants and toasted almonds:
 
2 cups dried currants
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon garam masala
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt to taste

Combine currants, shallots, sugar, water, lemon juice and orange juice in a pan. Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes until the currants are plump. Add almonds, lemon and orange zests, garam masala, ginger, pepper and salt to taste. Serve cooled.

Fried Cooleeney cheese:

1 pound of cooleeney cheese (an Irish soft-ripened cheese; Camembert can be substituted)
2 cups flour
4 eggs, beaten
3 cups plain breadcrumbs
Oil for deep frying
 
Cut cheese into 1 oz pieces. Dredge cheese in flour, egg and breadcrumbs. Lightly dip in egg again then back into breadcrumbs. Refrigerate for one hour. Preheat oil for frying to 375˚F. Dredge in breadcrumbs one more time before frying. Fry the cheese in 2 to 3 batches until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Serve on paper with currant and almond mixture on the side.

Pair this warm, cheesy dish with a glass of Jameson or a pint of Guinness. Slainte!


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