I’m staring into the molten pot of Mont D’Or cheese, scraping its wooden barrel with hunks of bread and deliciously dusty crackers, never imagining that I might make it to the bottom. But, sure enough, I persevere and defeat this stinky, gooey cheese. I’m at Green Man Wines in Terenure and this baked Mont D’Or is, for me, a dessert substitute and a treat all at once, being €26 a pop.
Mont D’Or is a protected cheese ripened in wood, a seasonal soft cow’s milk which is at its best in the autumn and winter. It’s part of Green Man Wines’ food menu, specifically designed to complement the wines on offer in this wine shop in Terenure. “Once the food is sourced with the same integrity as wine, I’m happy,” proprietor David Gallagher tells me. Wine lovers may recognise David from the wine cellar at Fallon & Byrne where he worked before opening Green Man Wines with his wife, Claire O’Boyle Gallagher, in 2014.
Their menu is not a particularly gastronomic take on food-with-wine, but their Head Chef Sebastian Sanz, formerly of Tapas de Lola, is limited in terms of kitchen space. They have no oven and instead cook chorizo, morcilla and lamb on a barbecue in their back-garden terrace. The gambas (€10) are from Wrights of Howth, and they’re served whole but with the outer shell helpfully removed, paired with a tasty homemade aioli. Killeen’s amazing hard goat cheese (€7) is paired with a delicious tomato jam, sourced in Italy from a winemaker that Gallagher visited. A lamb pintxo (€10.50) is served as two hefty skewers, cooked deliciously on the barbecue out back, a summery dish in the depths of winter. Not everything we eat hits the mark, and I would question the addition of smoked paprika to slices of lovely French duck in our Smoked Duck Magret (€8).
The wine list, on the other hand, is a delight for the gourmand. A glass of 2013 organic Trenzado from Tenerife (€11) is described has having aromas of flint and gunsmoke. “This is probably what they’d serve at the bar at Westworld!” says my date. When Gallagher drops by the table to see how the Trenzado was received, he’s a little crestfallen when my date says he found the ashy smell a little off-putting. It’s like a music nerd getting disappointed when trying to explain the complexity of Cohen to a Beautiful South fan. They just don’t have the same palate.
But there is no off-putting snobbery at Green Man Wines. It’s such a beautiful, friendly shop and the staff throughout the evening are full of helpful suggestions. A glass of 2012 Chateau Pierre-Bise from France (€7.50) is the golden colour of a clear apple juice and it tastes of honey and tart green apple, sweet yet acidic. A glass of 2013 Maretti Langhe Rosso from Piedmont in Italy (€8) is ordered specifically because the description on the menu promises that it will be “nuanced with subtle dried herb, forest floor and anise notes.” I wonder what a forest floor would taste like (Pine cones? Fallen leaves?) while my date gets increasingly squiffy. Our bill, which includes some sparkling water and a San Pellegrino limonata, comes to €95.75.
Though limited in what its kitchen outputs, Green Man Wines would make a lovely spot for a seasonal catch up with pals. They also do wine tastings in the shop every other Tuesday, though in December they focus on the Christmas trade. It’s just before Terenure Village on the road out from town, making it accessible but away from the craziness of the city centre in the crescendo towards Christmas. The Gallaghers can help you stock up on special wines for the season while you’re there. The food plays a supporting role here and it’s the wine that is still well and truly the star, even when paired with a stonkingly good Mont D’Or cheese.
Green Man Wines
3 Terenure Road North, Dublin 6W
Words: Aoife McElwain
Photos: Killian Broderick