Words: Emily Mullen
“I always have to have cheese, always, sometimes I have cheese over dessert”- Aoife Noonan
In our series called the Last Supper, we ask people from all across Ireland what their last meal would be their chosen city before they departed for St. Peter’s pearly gates. Handpicking starters, mains and desserts and everything in between, from the vast store cupboard of indigenous cuisine, past or present.
Completely fictitious and absolutely ridiculous it’s an unlimited budget series that relies purely on imagination. In mining the brains of interviewees, we hope to uncover some hidden gems, forgotten food slingers and make everyone a bit emosh in the process. Next up is Aoife Noonan multi-award winning pastry chef, who likes her water straight-up, her alcohol bubbly and sometimes prefers cheese to dessert.
First off where are you having your Last Supper?
I would choose somewhere that’s just really nostalgic and close to home. My family home is at the very bottom of the Wicklow mountains, right on the Dublin-Wicklow border, growing up we had lots of walks, picnics and camping there. It’s so vast and you can walk for two minutes and there’s no one around you for miles. A little spot there would be absolutely perfect, it’s beautiful, so open and it just reminds me of home. I never really appreciated how close we were to the mountains until I moved out of home.
So a clearing on the Dublin-Wicklow border?
Sometime in the middle of a bright day so you can see all the mountains from your little clearing and it’s quiet and peaceful. I think a table setup would probably be appropriate, picnics are kind of awkward to eat at, sitting there crossed legged like, with your napkins and your cutlery on your lap. So I think a nice setup with a table and chairs, full dinner service would be nice.
Who is with you?
Probably just my family and really close friends. I wouldn’t want to have someone that I’ve never met like a stranger or a celebrity or anything. I’d rather that my last meal would be with people I love.
Who is serving you your Last Supper?
Off the top of my head, I think back to times when I’ve eaten out and times when the experience was interactive and how much you are looked after during the meal, and one of the two people that come to mind are Darren McHugh. So he is from Tallaght but he used to be the general manager of The Ledbury in London (now the Operations Manager of London’s MJMK Hospitality group), so I’ve eaten there [at The Ledbury] a few times and every single time I’ve eaten there the service was just exceptional. He’s Dublin-born and bred so if he came home and if he was there it would be ideal. The other person is Stéphane Robin, he’s the general manager of Patrick Guilbaud, any time I’ve eaten there he’s just provided such seamless exceptional service and they [Robin and McHugh] just make you feel like you are the only person in the room, everything is just seamless and they are good craic as well.
In terms of music?
I’d probably like some electro-jazzy vibes, or anything from Caravan Palace or The Pixies, just very chill.
Bottled or tap water?
I’m going for tap, I’m old school when it comes to water so I’m happy with tap. Maybe just ice, keep it cool on that hot summers day, but nothing major.
What drinks pairings were you thinking?
To start it would be champagne, then throughout the meal, I’d probably have to have nice red wine. Any wine James Brooke recommends, so I worked with him in a few different restaurants he works in Patrick Guilbaud now [as Head Sommelier], he has such a wealth of wine knowledge. Something red and robust from Bordeaux. Then probably a margarita from 777 as well or maybe more champagne I dunno, keep it coming.
What’s your starter then?
The starter would be a tomato salad, really simple, from Rosa Madre in Temple Bar. With maybe some burrata cheese on the side, Luca who owns the restaurant sources some serious tomatoes, on the plate, there are three varieties of tomatoes, each tomato looks and tastes so complex with layers and different flavours but they each work so well together. It’s such a simple, elegant dish to start a meal, it’s been drizzled with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and a little crackle of sea salt. It’s perfect, simple summer-y, bright, it’s really flavourful.
That’s definitely the healthiest starter we’ve had and your main?
My main is probably my Dad’s slow-roasted leg of lamb, with rosemary and garlic potatoes. He cooks it on the bar so all the really delicious juices from the lamb fall onto a tray of roast potatoes underneath, and they go really lovely and sticky, and they taste amazing. Probably my Mum’s cauliflower and cheese on the side and then a fresh mint sauce too. I get so into it thinking about the details!
Probably one of the hardest questions for you, what’s for dessert?
I think it would be the dessert in Uno Mas called the flan de queso, it’s like creme caramel. The caramel is right on the cusp of bitterness but it’s perfectly sweet and the flan part is so wobbly and soft and creamy. It doesn’t need anything else it’s just the flan and the caramel. It’s just such a lovely dessert to eat, it’s not too sweet and it’s not too bitter, it’s balanced perfectly. If it was my last meal I would probably also have an ice cream cookie sandwich from Chimac on the side, those things are like crack.
I love that you are so renowned as a pastry chef and you are going for an ice cream cookie sandwich
Throughout lockdown that was my thing, I would just be like “I need a Chimac cookie” and they would deliver it, I would message them on Instagram asking them when they were getting them back in stock. They definitely think I’m this freak who is a Chimac cookie obsessive! But they are so good they are so tasty.
I always have to have cheese, always, sometimes I have cheese over dessert, I love cheese, so we would probably finish with a cheese course. Probably a few different bits and bobs from Sheridans, they always have a really great selection, served with a crusty loaf of bread from Le Levain [in Temple Bar Market] do lovely bread and maybe some honey as well from the Dublin Honey Project, so they make different honey in different areas in Dublin, so they all kind of taste a little bit different. Then I would love an Irish Coffee from Chapter One [now Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen], I’ve really thought this through, so Darren Hogarty who is the Head Pastry chef there and also my BFF pastry pal, makes this unbelievable syrup with muscovado sugar, coffee and orange, there’s a tobacco infusion that goes into the Irish coffee. It’s just mind-blowingly delicious. It wouldn’t be something I go for but I did have one there and it was just absolutely unbelievable.
Aoife Noonan is running bespoke masterclasses and limited edition patisserie drops through Aoife Noonan Brand, visit her website for more information.