Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Taste of the Week. Goatsbridge Barbecued Trout Paté

Taste of the Week
Goatsbridge Barbecued Trout Paté
This Taste of the Week is delicious and easy to make. And we even have the recipe (below) for you! Your main ingredient is Barbecued Rainbow Trout from Goatsbridge in Kilkenny. Just follow Mag’s recipe and add the Paté to a quality toasted sourdough, Pana was the bread used on this occasion. For more about Goatsbridge products, and more recipes, visit their website and online shop.

Monday, August 31, 2015

First Rate Lunch At Bramley Lodge

First Rate Lunch At Bramley Lodge

It was a pleasure to re-visit Bramley Lodge, by Cobh cross, last week and indulge in a super lunch.

Let us begin with my mains: Shin of Beef, honey glazed star anise carrots, celeriac and horseradish mash (12.95). This dish was a soft explosion of flavours. The beef had been cooked for 16 hours and was completely delicious, every little bit tender. And those carrots, shiny and succulent, enhanced the beef as did the mash. Not to mention that rich red wine jus!
Yes - it is a poached on top of the hake.
The other mains was Pan-fried Hake, colcannon mash, poached egg, mussel veloute (14.95).  CL, quite an expert on hake at this stage, was delighted with this one, saying it was possibly the best cooked hake she has had in quite a while. The flesh was pristine, the asparagus a class accompaniment. And the egg? Well, if you were ever there you may well have seen the combination in Scotts of London where David Devereaux, the recently installed head chef at Bramley, once worked. All this for under 15 euro. Not bad!

No shortage of choice here for your main course. We could have had Burger, Thai Green Curry, Steak Sandwich, Fish and Chips, Ham Hock, and Dover Sole (on the bone). Prices range from 12.95 to 19.95 (for the sole). They also have a sandwich menu and a special list for juniors. Good choice and good value.
 And service is excellent here. Friendly and informal, yet on the ball and helpful, humorous too with an excellent knowledge of the menu. I sipped a glass of Franciscan Well’s Red Ale as we studied the menu. For starters, we could have had soup, chowder, mussels, goats cheese, and calamari.

My pick was their award-winning Chicken Liver Paté with crostini, Cumberland sauce and salad. No surprises here - just a super starter. CL went for the Fish Cakes with Mango Salad and crispy capers, another excellent combination of flavour and texture.

And dessert. Well, we had the Strawberry Mille Feuille (above). One word: Humongus!

By the way, Bramley is open for evening meals on Fridays and Saturdays. Indeed they are open seven days a week from 8.00am, so you may have breakfast in this highly recommended restaurant as well. Check the opening times here.

And, while you’re there, be sure and check out the food store which includes lots of local and regional produce along with with some of the resturant meals, packed and ready to re-heat in your own kitchen!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

You Can't Hurry Sloe Gin. St Patrick’s Distillery

You Can't Hurry Sloe Gin
St Patrick’s Distillery
You can’t hurry Sloe Gin. That’s what Cyril Walsh and Barry Fitzgerald of Cork's St Patrick’s Distillery told me last week.  The sloes and the gin do their thing together for about three months. No sugar is added. They like to retain the natural tartness of the sloes, though they temper it with “just a drop of honey”.

Another infusion is their Elderflower Gin, the process here taking about a month. Both infusions are post distillation and are done with the gin at 96.4% to make “the extraction more complete” and it is “cut” after that.

The Sloe and Honey is Cyril’s favourite and he loves it with ginger ale. Barry goes for the Classic and takes it as a G & T. The other gin - they make four - is the Extra Dry. All, by the way, are the full 40% abv.

And when Barry, or his colleagues, makes that G & T, the tonic will be the German made 28 Drinks. It is a low sugar mixer, comes in a can and comes highly recommended by the Douglas Distillery team.
Cyril (left) and Barry
The gins and their St Patrick's Vodka are made with potato alcohol, are charcoal filtered and hand bottled. The alcohol is “a full strength spirit, straight and crystal clear, with an aroma and taste profile that is unique”. By the way, each bottle of vodka takes about 250 potatoes!

The whiskey is bought in at present but that will change over the next few years. The bought in whiskey, already quite a good product having been matured for more than three years in first fill bourbon barrels, is blended with a 21 year old malt whiskey. Cyril says the blend of the young and the very old (very expensive too!), plus the fact that it has been raised in US oak, produces the perfect balance, and make it extra special.

Indeed, the whiskey has been the stand-out success so far. “We are up against the big boys, up against Jameson, so we can’t go to the market with the same type of whiskey. We can't be the same and we don't want to be the same. People have been very willing to try the whiskey and are impressed by its smoothness and that longer finish”. Barry has been impressed with the way the Sloe and Honey Gin has been received, "Maybe because of the long tradition in Ireland of making Sloe gin at home”.

St Patrick's may be new but not all their kit is!
This old Vitamin Stamper, from the 1950s, was
 spotted in the UK and adapted by Cyril to
cork their bottles of spirits.
The team travels to exhibitions all over the country. Check out their products and be sure to sample their cocktails. Indeed, you’ll find some cocktail recipes, including the Crafty Cobbler, on their site here.

If you can't hurry Sloe Gin, you can't hurry a distillery either. Tom Keightley (Managing Director) and Cyril (General Manager) are the pioneers of St Patrick’s and Barry has joined them as Brand Manager. They are just about six months in operation. The Potato alcohol is being bought in at present but they have their own stills now and expect them to be operational in the near future.

They do their own bottling here in Douglas, by hand. Soon, they be contracting out that part of the operation, mainly because of increasing volumes of sales. Aside from the general market, the products are selling well in Dublin and Cork Airports.

St Patrick’s won't be stopping at the airports. They have confirmed their first export order and that goes off to Germany next October and, as a follow-up, the team will attend the ProWein, the International Trade Fair for Wine and Spirits next March. Could well be a Happy St Patrick’s Day for the Cork company.

St Patrick’s Distillery
Unit 105
St Patrick’s Woolen Mills,
Tel: 021 4918791
Facebook: St Patrick’s Distillery https://www.facebook.com/stpatricksdistillery.ie?fref=ts
Twitter: @StDistillery

You might have spotted this at St Patrick's tastings, the
most recent at the weekend in the RDS. A piece of a
whiskey barrel is heated, the glass is filled with smoke,
and you add in your whiskey for a drink with a difference!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Amuse Bouche

They were two of the most cheerfully vulgar creatures I have ever had the luck to meet, but they knew a great deal about food and wine. They analysed and admired each plateful and shrieked with delight over each fancy culinary trick: sprinklings of golden caviar, oysters suspended in sea water en gelée, baskets woven out of rare herbs containing mouthfuls of cheese coated in slivers of white truffle. …. and they sniffed and slurped their wine like cocker spaniels.

from Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy (2015)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Kildorrery’s Thatch and Thyme

Kildorrery’s Thatch and Thyme
Fisherman's Stew
Aside from the traffic rushing through the crossroads (to Mitchelstown, Mallow, Buttevant, Charleville and Kilmallock), the main street in Kildorrery village is quiet, not a pedestrian in sight.

That was the scene last Tuesday lunchtime. Where was everyone? Enjoying the food at Thatch and Thyme by the looks of it. The 12 month old restaurant was packed. And soon we would see why.

Joanne McEldowney’s cooking is top class. She uses mainly local produce. It is tidily presented and service is with a smile. Based in a well kept thatched community building, the restaurant is open Monday to Saturday 8.30am to 5.00pm, so you can have your breakfast here as well.
Occasionally, they open for evening meals but these are usually private parties. The room has a vintage feel and can seat about 30. In addition, if the sun shines, the outdoor courtyard area will take another 25. By the way, there are some great views, over half of Munster, from the village itself.

Back to the grub. They have quite a selection of baps, wraps and open sandwiches (from €6.50 to 8.50). And no shortage of main courses either, though there was some disappointment at our table that their famous ribs weren't available on the day!

The lamb though was available and it was impeccable, simple and honestly prepared, really tender and beautifully cooked as were the vegetables on the side. It was Roast Leg of Slaney Valley lamb, with mint oil, red currant juice, those seasonal vegetables and mashed potato (12.50).
Chowder (top)
and Rhubarb

CL went for the colourful and flavourful Fisherman's Stew: Cod, Calamari, Salmon, Mackerel, Crab, Mussels and Prawns, cooked in a rich tomato and white wine sauce and served with baby potatoes and wilted greens (13.50). 

I had started with a flavour of the sea. The creamy seafood chowder (fish and molluscs) was delicious as was CL’s Soup of the Day. Both, by the way, were available in small and large sizes.
The choice of dessert was unanimous as the rhubarb for the tasty crumble came from a nearby hill (another great view up there) and was grown organically by Mick Cotter who tipped us off about this lovely friendly restaurant in a gorgeous area of North Cork.
Find Thatch and Thyme on Facebook 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Chile. Copa America Campeones in Red

Chile. Copa America Campeones in Red.
A High-scoring Quartet

La Poda Corta El Grano Carménère 2013 (Curico Valley, Chile), 13%, €13.85 Le Caveau

Colour is a bright and healthy medium red. Ripe fruit aromas. Deliciously smooth on the palate, subtle fruit, smooth tannins, some slight spice, long and pleasant finish.
You don't come across this grape every day and this expression by Denis Duveau (who sold up his vineyard in the Loire in 1991 and headed off to South America) is something else, the wine pleasant and easily digestible. And Very Highly Recommended.

Like Duveau, this grape originally came from France (Bordeaux) before losing its way and even its identity in unruly Chilean vineyards. Was it Cabernet or was it Merlot? Only in relatively recent times, the late 90s, has it been recognized for what it is. Now it is the signature red grape of Chile which produces the vast majority of Carménère wines available today. Carménère may have had a tough life but has rebounded well and the wines are not lacking in personality.

Aresti Special Release Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2012 (Colchagua Valley, Chile), 13.5%, €12.99 SuperValu

Fruity aromas (red fruits) and hints of vanilla greet you. There are complex flavours on the palate, some spice too, tannins a minor player, and the finish is excellent. A pretty sophisticated Cabernet Sauvignon and Very Highly Recommended.

Aresti is a leading winery in Chile, also a leader in the move to organic. Winemaker Jon Usabiaga is highly respected and is a regular visitor to Ireland.

Emiliana Organic Eco Balance Cabernet Sauvignon (Valle del Rapel, Chile) 2013, 13.5%, €12.95 Bradley’s Offlicence

This ruby red is a beauty. There is something about organic, its sheer freshness and, as Pascal of Le Caveau often says, “digestibility”. The winemakers themselves say they “have created a collection of quality wines for relaxed everyday enjoyment, integrity, sustainability, and an earth friendly focus inspires all we can do.”

The nose is complex, red and darker fruits, vanilla, a little drift of pepper. There is an intense flow of flavour, smooth, with quite fine tannins, a lighter experience than the Aresti, this is a superb wine with a velvety and persistent finish. Again, Very Highly Recommended.

Luis Philipe Edwards Family Selection Pinot Noir Gran Reserva 2012 (Leyda Valley, Vhile), 14%, €9.99 O’Donovan’s Off Licence

Red Fruit aromas here, hints too of vanilla. Tannins are soft and you have quite intense fruit characters here - it has spent time in French oak “to considerably increase complexity and texture”. The mature fruit flavours are nicely balanced by the refreshing acidity and there is a lingering finish.

Thanks to cool ocean breezes, the grapes ripen slowly and freshness is retained. A Highly Recommended wine and good value also.

The company, founded in 1976, has expanded hugely in recent years and, according to the Wines of South America “claims to be the largest family-owner wine company in Chile”. And their website proclaims that in 2014, they were “the most awarded winery in Chile” with no less than 130 international medals to their credit.

* Speaking of champions, perhaps the best red wine that I've tasted from Chile is Cono Sur's Ocio Pinot Noir. But it will cost you, more than double the price of any of the above! And I usually try to keep my recommendations between ten and twenty five euro.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Porterhouse Hop It Up. Taste of the Week

Porterhouse Hop It Up
Taste of the Week

The Porterhouse brewers have come up with a cool winner in their new Double Hopped Pale Ale which they've called Hopped the F**K.

The spin says “.....double hopped extreme pale ale”. “So hoppy it will poke your eye out” is another line I've been reading.

It was launched in Dublin last Wednesday and I tasted it last Friday in Porterhouse Cork and the only way extreme comes into the equation is that it is extremely good. And don't worry about your eyesight, the double hops and double alcohol have been handled very well and the beer is beautifully balanced. The attractive aromas and even more attractive flavours are all under control, no rough edges, all smooth and clean and a pleasure to sip. And the finish rolls on and on, a better finish than many wines, class in a glass. Very Highly Recommended.

I used the highly regarded and well established Brewdog Punk Ale (it also uses multiple hops) as a “control” here and the new Hopped to F**K beat it out of sight. I had started with the Porterhouse and, perhaps, the gulf between the two might not have seemed as large had I began with the Punk.

A variety of hops has been used.  Belma and Bravo, for a clean bitter character, Cascade and Centennial to add aroma, Simcoe and Citra to generate a hefty hop nose and aromatic character. With notes of mandarin, orange and citrus with some tropical fruits, Hopped the F**K is 8.5% ABV and deceptive in its strength, a firm fist in a velvet glove.

James Brown Brews Chocolate Orange Stout, 5% abv, Bradley’s of North Main Street.
Very pleasant stout, chocolate for sure and the characters morphs towards caramel at the dry finish. Maybe you'll find the orange - I didn’t. Excellent stout though, especially for a first try. It tends more towards the traditional than the label’s “off the wall”. Already a medal winner and recommended.