If environment makes the chef, then Cathal (silent “t”) Armstrong, chef-owner of Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, VA, might look no further than his boyhood to find the roots of his success. One of Food & Wine magazine’s Ten Best New Chefs of 2006, Armstrong has lived a rich and stimulating life of food from a young age. The talented chef grew up in Dublin, Ireland, where his father, whom he describes as, “a great natural cook,” made family meals using produce from the garden. The family traveled extensively in Europe, where Armstrong was exposed to many cuisines and cultures.
Armstrong and his wife, Meshelle, opened Restaurant Eve in 2004 in Alexandria, VA serving American regional cuisine from sustainably produced ingredients. Armstrong considered an Irish restaurant but doubted its appeal to Americans seeking serious dining.
He did use Irish butter, however. “I went shopping for butters. I tried French butters and all the top brands,” he recalled. Armstrong picked Kerrygold because “It has a distinctive palate feel – a creamy texture without the typical waxy finish. I use salted Kerrygold for the table and for some baking, and unsalted for all the other cooking.”
“Kerrygold has a distinctive flavor – it’s a rich, creamy butter,” Armstrong said, adding that high butterfat content alone doesn’t necessarily produce superior butter. “What I believe is, because of Ireland’s pasture – fed cattle – they’re not fed on grain – it has a different taste. The soft green Irish grass gives it its distinctive flavor.”
Here’s a recipe from Armstrong using Irish butter. It’s a dish he makes with his children, Eve and Eamonn on those precious Sundays off. It would make a delicious, good family meal, any time of the year.
Roast Chicken with Gravy