Danette’s Magic – The Secret Ingredient in these Savage Sauces
If you’ve got it, you never lose it. Danette Milne has got it, and she’s never lost it. It’s been years now since Ms Milne fronted up a professional kitchen – the sublime Danette’s Feast in Carlow – but just one taste of her amazing cashew nut pesto is enough to be reminded of her enormous culinary gifts –cleanness; fluency; instinct; generosity; precision; nuance – and one taste is enough to show that she never lost it. Everything that was special about Danette’s Feast is there in the jars of cashew nut pesto; the tomato and fresh basil sauce; the incredible Moroccan gold hummus; the red onion marmalade; the fajita sauce. The labels of Danette’s Magic all list as their first ingredient: magic. That is neither boastful nor fanciful. These sauces show the magic that great cooks have in their hands, in their instinct, in their creativity. There are droves of varieties of pestos and hummus and dressings on the market, but Danette’s are not like the others. They are more earthy, yet more refined; more confident, yet they’re not contrived. They are just the work of a great cook, and you need to have them in your kitchen and your life, for they bring the magic to the table. Every time. www.danettesfeast.com Look for the Danette’s Magic products in Shortis Wong, Kilkenny; Dick Dooley’s Butcher, Castlecomer; Glasrai & Goodies, Gowran; Little Green Grocer, Kilkenny; Grogan & Brown, Artisan Butchers, Loughboy; The Good Earth Health Food Stores, Kilkenny & Newpark S.C.; Knockdrinna Farm Shop, Stoneyford; Blas Food Store, Thomastown.
For some cooks, their entire world is in their food. And for some other cooks, the entire world is in their food. All of it: history; culture; philosophy; mathematics; poetry; belief; aesthetics; learning; the culinary arts. You take a bite of something they have cooked, and it’s all there. We call that magic. And one of the cooks who manages not just to demonstrate this in her cooking, but also to explain it in her writing, is Danette Milne. Here’s what she says: “I’ve become a firm believer in reincarnation for the simple reason that often, when I cook, I am aware of what I refer to as ‘The Food Gods’. There is a place one can connect to/with that’s a point of letting-go and allowing the ‘magic’ to take over. This is when food becomes not just delicious or amazing looking, but sublime. This place is, in my experience, a hub of knowledge and I thrive on visiting and tapping into it.” The sublime is where Ms Milne’s cooking is always headed, whether she is making her Danette’s Magic sauces, or when she helmed her restaurant, Danette’s Feast, in Bennekerry, County Carlow, where she produced the sublime for seven hectic, magnificent years between 1994 and 2001. She was minded and influenced by two Mexican chefs when growing up as a child in Southern California and her food, as a consequence, seems to give us a Culinary Magic Realism – the simple, made sublime, made fantastic, made surreal and alive. The labels of her Danette’s Magic Sauces all list as their first ingredient: “magic”. That is neither boastful nor fanciful. These sauces show the magic that great cooks have in their hands, in their instinct, in their creativity. Back in 1996 we described Ms Milne as“ an original, inventive cook”, and the intervening years have simply underscored her gifts, as maturity has led her to trust her intuition even more. So, there is magic, and realism, and the sublime, all in the smallest, tiniest thing that Danette Milne cooks.