Sunday, August 28, 2016

Afternoon Tea at the Kingsley Hotel

Afternoon Tea at the Kingsley Hotel
The Sweet Top
We arrive at the K Lounge in the Kingsley Hotel just as a busy lunch service is starting to wind down. But we are far from the first arrivals for their “classic Afternoon Tea”.

A little bit of luck has brought us here. Back at the Cork Summer Show, we bought a lovely snack at the Kingsley stand and filled up a coupon and that very coupon was the lucky one, earning the two of us this gorgeous and rather well balanced treat.

We started off with the savoury pieces, off the bottom of three tiered plates. These included Egg and Mayonnaise sandwiches, a  very tasty Cheese, Ham, and Relish sandwich, a Tuna wrap and Smoked Salmon on brown bread.
Had begun with tea and continued with it as we moved to the middle plate. Here we had superb Scones, a delicious Carrot Cake and their own sweet Tea Cake. Lovely stuff and time now for a pause in the very comfortable chairs as we switched from tea to coffee for the final part of the treat and took in the view of the river flowing by outside. Indeed, we might well have been outside had the weather been as hot as it had been a few days earlier.

So now, so sweet! I started with the Lemon Meringue and finished with the chocolate mousse. In between, the pleasure was uninterrupted as I introduced my palate to Shortbread biscuit, Orange Macaroon and Coffee Cake (perhaps my favorite).

 All Afternoon Teas here are served with home-made jam, Kerry butter and whipped cream.

And the menu changes and might include some scrumptious raspberry tartlets and coffee and chocolate opera cakes; a selection of freshly baked plain and fruit scones; smoked salmon and capers mille-feuille and goat cheese and sun blush tomato tartlet. And there is also a Gluten Free Afternoon Tea option available.

Much as we enjoyed our visit, I wouldn't be taking Afternoon Tea every day. Indeed, next time, I could well go for the lunch as that menu continues to be available until 5.00pm. Some tempting items listed, among them Crispy Skeaghanore Duck Breast Salad and a very impressive list of Munster Farmhouse cheeses featuring favourites such as Cashel Blue, Gubbeen Smoked, Milleens, Coolea and Cooleeny. The K Lounge, by the way, is just one of a number of dining options here.


Favourite

The Kingsley Hotel
Victoria Cross
Cork
+353 21 480 0555

Twitter: @KingsleyHotel

Friday, August 26, 2016

Amuse Bouche

“I just don’t feel like cooking tonight.”
“Cooking? Are you serious? I’ve already taken care of everything, my love. Just wait, it’s delicious! Fettucine with mushrooms, and cream, and lemon chicken scaloppini. I got a bottle of red, too, an Aglianico, the kind you like. It’ll be ready in five minutes, just relax until then.”
Ottavia, standing in front of the bathroom mirror where she had gone to remove her makeup, thought to herself that being married to Superman was a curse greater than she could possibly bear.

From The Bastards of Pizzofalcone by Maurizio de Giovanni (2013). Highly Recommended.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Superb French Chardonnay. And Meet Karwig’s Italians

A Superb French Chardonnay.
And Meet Karwig’s Italians


Château Martinolles Chardonnay Limoux (AOC) 2014, 13.5%, €19.65 Karwig Wines

A superb wine from an intriguing historical Languedoc area. The Saint-Hilaire monastery actually used to adjoin the property, and it was there in 1531, that the method for making sparkling wines was discovered.

The fruit, one hundred per cent Chardonnay, is hand-harvested from old vines and is aged for 9 months in oak barrels (one-third new and two-thirds aged), a mixture of French and American oak. It is light gold in colour and you should find white fruits (quince and particularly lime) in the aromas. It is very impressive on the palate, intense in flavour and with a balancing acidity, elegant with a long finalé. A very pleasant surprise indeed and Very Highly Recommended.



Selvapiana Chianti Rufina (DOCG) 2013, 13%, €23.50 Karwig Wines
This a bright ruby from the organic vineyards of Selvapiana. Ripe red fruits in the aromas. On the palate, it is vibrant, ripe and juicy, some spice too, tannins just about in play, a refreshing acidity. It is medium to full bodied, rather elegant, lively and long, rather moreish and Highly Recommended. Try it with pasta, steak and pork chops.


Rufina is one of the sub zones of Chianti. The usual advice is to buy your Chianti from Chianti Classico, the name given to wines from the original historic boundaries. But Wine Folly writes: Both Chianti Classico and Chianti Rufina are likely to be of higher quality, since they are made in smaller quantities from distinct historical areas. This Rufina certainly underlines that point.


Caldora Colle dei Venti Pecorino, Terre di Chieti (IGT) 2015, 13%, €16.70 Karwig Wines


Okay. I haven't lost my marbles! I am talking about a wine, not the famous sheep's cheese of Italy. The Pecorino grape is so called because a bunch resembles a sheep’s head. That’s the winery's story. Another is that the bunches are a favourite treat for the sheep. Wine-Searcher.com says: Pecorino cheese is, coincidentally, a surprisingly good food match for Pecorino wine.


Making wine from native vines is a “point of pride” for Caldora. This hilltop vineyard overlooks a beach (Lido Riccio); on the summer nights, the fresh sea breeze allows a thermal range “fundamental for the complex aromatic structure of the wine”.


Color is quite a light straw yellow. White fruit aromas, herbal hints too, even a slight whiff of liquorice; fresh and crisp, dry and minerally, with excellent acidity and a  persistent finish. Recommended.


Conte Loredan Gasparini Cabernet Sauvignon, Montello E Colli Asolani (DOC) 2014, 13%, €17.25, Karwig Wines.


Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted vine in the area of Montello, a small hill 30 miles north of Venice. Half of this is aged in big oak barrels, half in stainless steel.


The colour is purple, deep and dark and there are blackcurrant aromas with hints of herb. Straight away on the palate you'll notice its freshness, its fruit flavours and then that lovely acidity (food is a welcome accompaniment here!). Tannins are fine and the finish is lengthy. This warm and soft wine is Highly Recommended.




Congrats to Bradley's! Winners of Lord Mayor's Award

Congrats to Bradley's!
Winners of Lord Mayor's inaugural Family Business Award





Michael Creedon, owner of Bradley's Specialist Off-Licence & Foodstore, is delighted to announce that they are to receive the Lord Mayor's inaugural Family Business Award. The event will take place this evening, Thurs 25th Aug, at Cork City Hall from 6pm.


Bradley's has been trading on Cork's iconic North Main St. for over 165yrs, since 1850.
Now run by the 4th generation of the family, Bradley's has evolved and innovated to stay relevant in a constantly changing retail environment.

Starting as a dairy, Bradley's were the first to pasteurise milk in the country and made a famous ice-cream to a secret Italian recipe. Later it became a fully fledged Supermarket serving the people of Cork City & County as far as Macroom, Youghal & Mallow.
Nowadays, Bradley's is a specialist off-licence & foodstore.

Bradleys is a destination shop, where you might just get that something you can't find anywhere else!

Bradley's is an outlet for local, Cork artisan & market food producers. Bradley's carry local cheeses, jams, relishes & biscuits. Locally roasted coffees from Badger & Dodo & Arbutus bread add to the range along with McCarthys of Kanturk sausages & Union Hall smoked fish. 

Along side the best of Irish, Bradley's also carries the best of international fare. Cheeses, olives & Italian pasta compliment the large, specialist wine selection. Bradley's prides itself in its range of whiskeys, gins and unusual spirits & liqueurs. Bradley's were doing “craftbeers” before the term was invented & have about 500 beers, over 50 gins & 100 whisky's coming & going at any one time.
Watch this space as the story of Bradley's continues to evolve!


Contact: Michael Creedon
021 4270845
086 8067394


Twitter:     bradleys_offlic

Facebook: Bradleys Specialist Off-Licence & Foodstore
Bradley's
Specialist Off-Licence & Foodstore
81/82 North Main St.
Cork



 

Press Release

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Terzetto and Gentil. Blends from Australia & Alsace

Terzetto and Gentil
Blends from Australia & Alsace


Today, we have two blends for you, one of three Italian grapes, not from Italy but from the McLaren Vale in Australia, the other a more formal blend of white grapes, known as Gentil, from the Alsace. Both wines are excellent, each Highly Recommended. As you might expect, the alcohol in the Australian is much higher, 14.5% as against a moderate 12%.


Terzetto is Italian for a trio and the three grapes in Kevin O’Brien’s wine of the same name are Sangiovese (45%), Primitivo (40%), and Nebbiolo (15%). The percentages will vary from vintage to vintage. Kevin likes this one: “On their own, these varieties shine but… this threesome.. create a compelling wine that is perfumed, enticing and beautifully structured.”


Gentil started as an kind of all-in white grape blend in the 1920s. Today, the name Gentil is reserved for AOC Alsace wines conforming to the standards of a blend of superior quality. This blend must be composed of a minimum of 50% Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris and/or Gewurztraminer, with the rest made up of Sylvaner, Chasselas and/or Pinot Blanc. Before blending, each varietal must be vinified separately and must officially qualify as AOC Alsace wine. Gentil must mention the vintage and may not be sold commercially until after quality control certification in bottle.


Kangarilla Road Terzetto 2013, McLaren Vale (AUS), 14.5%, €17.95 (14.36 at sale earlier) O’Brien’s.


Violet is the colour and the slow-clearing legs hint at the high ABV. Red fruits dominate the aromas. Juicy and fruity; the fruit flavours carry a hint of sweetness but are really well balanced with a delicious savouriness, good acidity too and tannins at play as well. All that and a very pleasing finish. Quite a blend from Kevin O'Brien (great to see his wines back on Irish shelves) and Highly Recommended.


Usually, O’Brien’s bottles have beautifully executed hand-drawings of the leaf of the grape variety. This one has no less than three, of course.


Meyer-Fonné Gentil 2014, Vin d’Alsace, 12%, €16.65 Le Caveau.


Light gold is the colour of this white blend from the Alsace. There are subtle white fruit (peach, melon, citrus) aromas, some blossom too. It is fruity and refreshing on the palate, includes hints of sweetness, lively acidity too, plus a decent finish. A very agreeable little number and again Highly Recommended.


And this agreeable little number is his “entry level wine”, leaving one very keen indeed to try the full range, right up to a highly rated Cremant, from this organic producer. The current official word on the Gentil blend (the practice goes back to the 1920s) is above but this Meyer-Fonné consists of Muscat, Pinot blanc, Riesling and Gewurztraminer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Taste of the Week. Coffee & Walnut Cake

Taste of the Week
Coffee & Walnut Cake

I’m a reasonably regular caller to Mahon Point Farmers Market and there are three particular stalls, more or less together, that I call to (call to quite a few others too!) when I'm there on a Thursday morning. The Woodside Farm and their free range pig products is one; Lennie and his boxes of granola and dried fruits is another. Sandwiched in between is Clare and Gan Gluten.

Clare, whose sisters run the Farmgates (in the city and in Midleton), sells her cakes, breads and savouries here every Thursday and also sells to restaurants, cafes and delis. Why not check out her stall tomorrow? I might meet you there!

Sometimes, I buy one of her savoury pieces, usually for a convenient and very tasty lunch. Sometimes, I feel like sweet. That was the case recently and we went off home with a large tranche of her Coffee and Walnut Cake.

It didn't last too long. It was moist and delicious, full of all the flavours you’d expect from an expert producer and proved to be our unanimous Taste of the Week. A rather short lived one, though! Short and sweet.

Gan Gluten
Gluten and Wheat Free Tarts, Cakes and Savouries
Unit 9, Riverside Grove, Riverstick, Cork.
Tel: 086 2339519


Monday, August 22, 2016

Nash 19. The Real Thing.

Nash 19. The Real Thing.
Local on a Plate
It’s lunchtime Saturday and I'm sitting at a table in the Sternview Gallery at the back of Nash 19 (most of the tables in the front end were full) in Princes Street Cork and looking, admiringly, at a big tempting slice of bacon loin. And my mind goes back about a week when I got a shiny plastic-y slice of ham in a small cafe in Trim. Hard to believe that both came from the same planet, not to mind the same type of animal.


The one in Nash 19 comes from Crowe’s in Tipperary , is big and thick, moist and packed full of flavour, an itegral part of my Eggs Benedict (12.00). It is parked on a mega slice of sourdough that stretches right the diameter of the plate. On top are two perfectly poached eggs and all around there is Hollandaise sauce. A classic combination, top notch produce so well handled, as is consistently the case here, and beautifully presented as well.


Across the table, CL has quite a dish in front of her, again very well presented. It is the Chicken Korma Curry, Basmati rice, Mango chutney and Papadum (13.00). Nothing overly complicated here but the big chunks of locally supplied chicken chicken are key, full of flavour and so tender, great stuff. Had one or two myself from this oh so enjoyable moderately spiced curry.



And speaking of moderate spice, we had each started with a cup, quite a generous size, of one of the soups, the Squash and Ginger (3.50). There was also a bowl option for €5.50. Seafood chowder and a goat's cheese salad were also available as starters and, if you were in the mood, a dozen of Jamie Dwyer’s market fresh Pacific Oysters.


Speaking of markets, the mains list featured a Taste of the English Market (just across the street). For sixteen euro, you could treat yourself to a plateful of meat, fish and cheese, served tapas style. Recommended! Their own recommendations on the day were the Kerry Crab Sandwich and the Nash 19 Cod Fish and Chips. Indeed there is a great selection on a menu that sees some change daily!


And if you feel like more, then you can treat yourself to some of the great local produce at the little shop on the way out. And if you are too busy to dine here, if you need to have lunch in the office, then check out Nash to Go.

As we dined, owner Claire Nash herself was busy handing out samples to and then chatting with a group of visitors led by Alice Coyle of Fab Food Trails but not too busy to check around the restaurant and see how the various customers are doing. And if Claire doesn't get to you at least one member of her superb staff, friendly and efficient, will.

What’s the difference between bacon and ham? I sometimes ask myself. Here are two good guides, the first from James Whelan Butchers, the second from the UK’s Delicious magazine.

Nash 19
19 Princes Street
Cork
+353 21 427 0880
Twitter: @Nash19Cork
Hours
Mon-Fri: 7.30-4.00
Sat: 8.30-4.00



Sunday, August 21, 2016

Iron Age Bread. And Butter. Boats & Bones too.

Iron Age Bread. And Butter.
Boats & Bones too.
Prehistoric picnic.

The Medieval Loaf from Declan Ryan’s Arbutus Bread has long been a favourite of mine. Last Saturday, at the Cork Public Museum, Declan introduced me, and quite a few others, to Iron Age Bread. And there was freshly made butter to go with it, all part of Cork Heritage Day.



The event focussed on Life, Farming and Food in South-East Ireland (Waterford and Wexford) in the Iron Age (c. 2500-1600 years ago). Excavations during the Celtic Tiger years and since have revealed important information about where people lived, the crops they grew and the food they ate.

Basket of iron age bread

For instance, the recovery of charred plant components tell us that people ate barley, emmer and spelt wheat and foraged wild food such as hazelnuts and berries. Kilns are a new development of the Iron Age and were used for the drying and malting of grain. Wonder if they made beer?
Cattle and pig bones were also found. The animals were kept for their meat but finds demonstrate that the farmers also practised dairying, hence the butter demo. I have quoted extensively from the leaflet handed out to visitors to the museum.
A young Spaniard checks out these Irish bones

The challenge for Declan Ryan and Arbutus was to reproduce a bread that might have been baked by an Iron Age baker. Declan knew they had barley and some spelt. He used barley mainly and a little spelt. He baked the loaves on the lowest shelf of his oven, a step or two up on what was available to his ancient predecessors.
Crusty, and soft in the middle, the bread had a spicy flavour and possibly tasted better with a bit of the freshly made butter. A very small churn was used to separate the butter from the buttermilk and water and even more of the latter two was squeezed out with a pair of butter paddles before we had the real thing. Young and old got a chance to handle the churn.
A neat little churn

And speaking of hands on, there was a table full of bones of prehistoric animals and the remains of ancient crops and they were popular and there was also the possibility of grinding corn on a prehistoric hand mill, examples too of bog butter (a story in itself) and a replica of an Iron Age vessel (a small boat), the original excavated in County Meath.
The event was presented by the Heritage Council INSTAR funded project ‘Seeing beyond the site - Landscape and Settlement in Later Prehistoric Ireland, in collaboration with the Cork Public Museum and the Cork Butter Museum, each worth a visit at any time.
You can also follow the South-East project on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Beyond_the_site
Starting to turn - the butter emerges


The new butter and the discarded buttermilk

A pair of paddles is used to squeeze out any excess moisture;
the more solids that remain the better the butter