Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Electric Fish

Electric Fish

Scallop & Cod Burger

If you go to the Fish Bar at Electric, you must try their burger. A fish burger? Yes, why not? And this one is something special. I know I’ve mentioned it before but the Scallop and Cod Burger, served with cucumber pickled and smoked paprika aioli, is irresistible. And that tender brioche burger, made in-house, is a perfect wrap for the quality fish within!

It was one of our mains in the South Mall venue at the weekend. The other, from the specials board, was Chermoula Marinated Cod with a honey and lemon yoghurt. Superb flavours and textures and, with a bowl of Rosemary and Olive Oil Patatas Bravas, a substantial course indeed, almost matching the burger.

Both were washed down with a beer. They have very good choices here, both on draught and in bottle. I had a pint of draught Howling Gale Ale, the original from Eight Degrees and an original that has stood the test of time.

Chermoula Cod

I was also tempted by the Longueville Cider and the Kinsale Pale Ale, both from the bottle list. Next time! Some nice wines there too including Club Privado Tempranillo and Fosso Corno Montepulciano by the glass and, on the white side, Martin Codax Albarino and Tinpot Hut Pinot Gris.

The dessert list at present includes a couple of excellent cheese options. It is strong too on chocolate and our choice was the novel Chocolate and Chilli Sugar Strawberries. Sweet ‘n spicy!

We had started off with some Grilled Pacific oysters, a few Rockefeller style (with breadcrumbs and parsley) and few Kilpatrick (Worcester sauce, bacon and spring onion). The Kilpatrick were the tastier. They also serve these Pacific “natural” and indeed if you aren't used to oysters, this is a good way to start as the variety is very very small - easy to swallow!

Chocolate and Chilli Sugar Strawberries
Lots of other starters available if you’re not up to the oysters, including the FishBar tasting plate. If someone in the party isn't into fish, then don't worry as they do cater for the “landlubbers” as well.

This is a lovely informal place (no reservations required, nor taken) and the staff keep it informal, well able to crack a joke but well able too to make sure your dishes arrive on time and with all you need. Highly recommended.
Oysters, Kilpatrick style.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Superb Kale, and so much more, at Killavullen Market

Superb Kale at Killavullen Market
"Throw in a few beans, please!"

Delighted I made it to the Killavullen Farmers Market last Saturday. Brought the bags, as usual - no point in going to a market unless you bring bags - and filled them up.

A big welcome and lots of good things to eat and drink here. Rory and his Kildinan Farm organic stall caught the eye and not just because of his colourful vegetables (including yellow courgettes and black and yellow beans) but also because of his selection of great looking kale.
He had three types for sale but we eventually went for the Nero di Tuscano. Glad we did. It is terrific. Big dark leaves, beautiful texture and oh so very tasty.

We used the Kale and the beans (the black goes green, the yellow white, when cooked!) with a beautiful piece of hake from Yawl Bay Seafoods (enhanced with some of that amazing IASC seafood butter, of course!), a lovely dish.

By coincidence, I came across this recipe on Twitter this morning: Maple Drizzled Strawberry Kale Salad. What do you think? If you're doing it, why not use the Highbank Orchard Syrup.

The Killavullen market is held about twice each month in the Nano Nagle Centre  on the Mallow-Fermoy Road and it is appropriate that organic produce features highly. The centre’s mission now “is to promote a vision of eco spirituality” and it runs a 32 acre organic farm here. Directions to the centre and the market here.

Indeed, the Nano Nagle centre has its own stall in the market and here we got some very flavoursome organic tomatoes. All of the stalls are indoor, sheltered under a large polytunnel so the market is weather-proofed. Great idea.

Much to buy here. We got a few bars of the gorgeous Clonakilty Chocolate (including my Himalayan Salt favourite!) and  a lovely Spelt and Honey loaf from a well stocked bakery stall. And of course who could pass the Fermoy Natural Cheese stall? Not me. Enjoyed a lovely chat with Gudrun Shinnick as I sampled the cheese and bought some of her famous Cais Dubh and also some of the same cheese embedded with fenugreek seeds. She also has milk and kefir on sale here.

Fermoy Natural Cheese
A quote from the market site just to give you a better idea of what is available: The products available are numerous including local fresh organic vegetables and eggs, imported fruit and vegetables from small producers to complement the local, potatoes and preserves, award winning cheeses, apples and apple juice, bread and baking, flowers and plants, knits and crochet, jewellery and candles, natural soaps and organic essential oils, environmentally friendly cleaning products, personalised poetry and greeting cards, charity bookstall, recycled paper products and fair trade products available at tea and coffee stall. The market received a Cork Environmental Award in 2009.

Kathy and her skin care stall
Last Saturday was also a special Arts and Food Celebration so there was even more to enjoy, including a pottery-making stand where you, or at least the kids, could get hands-on experience.

We came across a vibrant looking herb stall on the way out and saw a pot of basil with smaller leaves than usual. If I remember rightly, it is a Greek basil. Correct name or not, it is now standing on the kitchen windowsill.

Peace on the Blackwater. The river flows by the Nano Nagle Centre
You can also have a cup of tea or coffee and some home baking, maybe before or after the market or perhaps after taking one of several walks through the centre. We did the Cosmic Walk and that took us past a very large and impressive sundial.

Then we strolled through the animal enclosures, a couple of donkeys grazing, two pigs poking in the dust with their snouts and grunting happily and a community of hens clucking. Down  a few steps then to a field where a curious calf stared back and a few minutes later we were on the peaceful banks of the lovely Blackwater. After the walk, it was back to the car and a quiet cross country drive through the drizzly hills as we returned to the city.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Fancy a trip to Chile?

Fancy a trip to Chile?
Cono Sur Competition

Fancy an all expenses paid trip to Chile? Here’s your chance. Wine company Cono Sur is offering just such a trip to the winners of a Recipe Competition.

They are in search of a savory new main dish to pair either with their Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc or Single Vineyard Pinot Noir, and calling all bloggers from Ireland to participate. “If your recipe is selected, we'll be sending you and a friend to Paris, France, to compete in the Grand Final with finalists from England, Finland and Sweden. The winner´s grand prize: A trip for two to Chile to visit Cono Sur Vineyards & Winery and discover its beautiful home country!”

Bloggers may well be the primary target but the competition is open to anyone. If you don't win the trip to Chile that Grand Final in Paris would be quite a consolation. Do get into the kitchen and get that culinary brain working overtime. Closing date is 11th August.

I have been in touch with the company and have received the tasting notes for each of the two wines and they are included below for help and inspiration.

Would love to head off to Chile myself but creating a new main course may be beyond me. Still, last weekend, I gave it a go and came up with my first effort, more a starter than a main course but tasty nonetheless.
Four scallops.
Four streaky rashers (try Truly Irish or Woodside Farm).
Seafood Butter by IASC*.
plus One bottle of Cono Sur Single Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Valle de Casablanca, 12%, €16.95, Bradley’s Off Licence, Cork.

The IASC seafood butter is an amazing product and may be used with all kinds of fish dishes. One top London chef uses it with escargots! Read all about it here.

Gently fry the rashers until lightly coloured; make sure they are still soft and supple.
Take up rashers and wrap around the scallops, securing with cocktail sticks.
Brush exposed ends of the scallops with melted Seafood Butter.
Pop into the oven (top shelf) for 10-15 minutes (depending on size of scallops).
Serve with green salad and a big crisp refreshing glass of wine!

Serves two.

The Wines

Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc

Selected for its ideal Casablanca Valley location, the Loma Roja (Red Hill) Block is a part of the El Centinela Estate, which is known for its red clay soil characterized by high water retention, giving this Sauvignon Blanc a greater aromatic expression. Just 7 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean, it is one of the coldest regions in Chilean viticulture, where morning fog covers the vines each day and slows down the ripening process so that each grape reaches its full potential.

Food Pairing
A great aperitif or an excellent option to accompany light first courses, ideally green salads or seafood. It is also a perfect compliment to vegetarian dishes and fresh pastas with Mediterranean sauces. Cheese-wise, it prefers ripe Cheddar, Gruyere and soft cheeses.

Tasting Note
This Sauvignon Blanc has a bright yellow coloring with hints of green. In the nose are aromas of grapefruit, white flowers with citric and mineral hints. The palate is slightly salty with great acidity and a long finish. This fresh and elegant wine pairs beautifully with seafood, chicken, cheeses and vegetables.


Cono Sur Single Vineyard Pinot Noir
Selected for its privileged coastal location, the Viento Mar (Ocean Wind) Block is located at the highest point of the Campo Lindo Estate in the San Antonio Valley. Direct maritime winds significantly cool the area and provoke one of the slowest ripening processes within this variety. In addition, red clay soils, intense sunlight and no springtime rains create a brilliantly colored grape of intense aromatic expression and impressive concentration.

Food Pairing
Due to its versatility, this Pinot Noir is a natural choice for some of the latest culinary trends. It makes any white meat look good, as well as soups, stews and flavorful fish dishes. It’s also great to serve with dishes such as roast pork with onions and apples, fillet steak with sautéed vegetables, grilled salmon with curry and ginger, and leek tart. As far as cheeses are concerned, Gouda and goat cheese are a great choice.

Tasting Note

This Pinot Noir has a bright ruby red colouring with purple tints. Ripe raspberries, black cherries and strawberries in the nose mesh delightfully with hints of coffee and cacao. The palate is fruity and delicate with soft tannins and a great balance. Serve with red meats, poultry game and aged cheese.

>> This won Silver in the 2013 Decanter World Wine Awards and Bronze in the 2014 Awards.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Super Sunday at Barnabrow

Super Sunday at Barnabrow
Your summer salads, all five.
Not for the first time, we enjoyed a superb Sunday lunch at Barnabrow House. Well known for its great weddings the rest of the week, Geraldine Kidd’s country house serves up a beauty at lunchtime every Sunday.

Local suppliers are used by Chef Stuart Bowes and the cordial Scot also benefits from Barnabrow’s walled garden, with big boxes of fresh produce regularly available, vegetables, salads, fruit and flowers, that Stuart uses judiciously to enhance the various dishes.

 Sunday was the second day of their new summer menu. It was perhaps best illustrated by the side dishes, no less than five magnificent salads, everything from French beans to chick peas to roast potatoes with almonds.

CL started with a Rosscarbery Black Pudding salad, a beauty. The renowned black pudding from West Cork was served with crispy potatoes, apple, Feta, and a semi-dried tomato dressing. An excellent starter with the very thinly cut apple playing a leading role in bringing it all together.

I started with the Gulfstream smoked salmon served with pickled fennel, Omega seeds and an olive tapenade. The salmon was terrific, even on its own, but the other bits and pieces, particularly the tapenade, brought it to a higher level.

So two great starters to get us off the mark. We could also have enjoyed Whipped Ardsallagh Goats Cheese with Confit Red Onion and hazelnut dressing and the soup which was Butternut Vanilla with Toasted Almonds and Garden Herb Oil.

 The incredibly high standard was maintained throughout with excellent main courses where the irresistible summer salads made their appearance. And this amazing quality comes at a great price in a very comfortable well decorated setting. You may have two courses for twenty euro, three for twenty five and your coffee or tea is also included.

CL hooked the Baked Fillet of Kilmore Quay Hake with a white onion and parmesan sauce. For me it was the Roast Sirloin of O’Connell’s Beef with Szechuan Pepper Sauce. Both were perfectly cooked and so enhanced by those amazing side dishes for sharing, all five of them!

Time enough but not too much room for dessert. From the tempting list, we picked the Raspberry and Almond Tart, with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, for sharing. Fresh from the walled garden, the raspberries were delicious and the tart itself, so well presented, so well cooked, the balance of ingredients so well judged, was an absolute joy.

Another excellent experience in this lovely venue and a lovely friendly service too by the way. Very Highly Recommended for your Sunday lunch.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Toons Bridge Dairy

Take a trip to Toons Bridge Dairy!
Looking for something to do this weekend? Why not consider a trip to Toons Bridge Dairy Shop. Turn left on the Bantry Road just before Macroom, go past the Gearagh (take a walk here perhaps) and the Toy Soldier factory (maybe call in if you have kids!) and soon you take a sharp left over the Toon River and you are there. The dairy shop, which sells their fabulous buffalo cheese and other products, is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11.00am until 6.00pm. The adjoining cafe, with an open air section, is open every Saturday for the summer. You won't eat fresher Mozzarella this side of the Rubicon! After your call to Toons Bridge, why not continue on the R584. Quite a lot to see on this lovely road. Check it out here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Amuse Bouche

For a provincial, there’s always tension when you are ordering in a restaurant; there’s the fear of not pronouncing the Italian or French properly; there’s the fear of spending too much money; there’s the fear that your friends are going to order a second bottle of wine and - God forbid - mineral water in a blue bottle.

from Lion Heart by Justin Cartwright

Taste of the Week: Nash 19 Olive Oil.

Taste of the Week: Italian Olive Oil at Nash 19

On the lookout for a good Olive Oil? Then check out this excellent Italian Single Farm Extra Virgin Olive Oil, sourced by Country Choice in Nenagh and available at Nash 19 in Prince's Street for €11.95. 

Once, in Tuscany, a wine and olive oil producer told me the best way to make olive oil is to immediately cold press the just picked olives. He was scathing about the big companies who dragged in olives from all over the Med and were still able to claim that their oil was on a par with his. The longer the olives are hanging around (or in transport) the more the acid is a factor. Some big producers filter out the acid but also much of the goodness.

Be careful where you buy your oil and, once you have found a good source, stick with it. This oil, in the familiar gold wrapper, is a regular on the tables in Nash 19 and is our Taste of the Week.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Into the East: Yawl Bay Fish - Greenbarn Italian - Ardmore Cuppa

Into the East: Yawl Bay Fish - Green Barn Italian - Ardmore Cuppa

Award winner!

Great to meet up with David Browne at Yawl Bay Seafoods  in Youghal last Friday. It was a busy afternoon for David who now runs the company that his father started in 1986. It is well known for its smoked salmon, much of which is exported.

“....it is rich, succulent, not too smokey, it is just right. It reflects true craftsmanship and respect for tradition and flavour....” Not my words, but a quote on the site from Martijn Kajuiter, Head Executive Chef of the Cliff House Hotel.

I first met David a few weeks back at the Cork Kerry Food Forum and Fair in the City Hall and here too there was good news for the company as its Cooked Crab Claws won a Food Sensory Experience Award sponsored by Sensory Research Ltd (SRL), who tested products incorporating all five senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.

Italian Red

As the crabs indicate, there is more to Yawl Bay now than the smoked salmon. On the fresh fish counter, they stock a mix of cod, haddock, sole, hake, oysters and mussels and “whatever else is good on the day”. The fish comes from near and far (sometimes a trip to Union Hall is needed to stock up on particular items). It is very tempting display so if you're passing - the premises is between the town proper and the bridge to Waterford - it is well worth a call.

Back home on Saturday, we had an all fish dinner, lots of crab and hake. Smoked salmon to come and also some smoked haddock for a fish pie! David, as I mentioned, was busy on the Friday collecting new supplies and making and arranging deliveries but still had time to fill us in on the business and make us very welcome indeed.

This spontaneous “tour” had started with an invitation to visit Dungarvan Brewry and our first stop was for a terrific lunch at Green Barn Restuarant  between Killeagh and Youghal. The crew from Capri Bay in Youghal (now closed) has taken over here and are in top form.


My starter was a Wild Mushroom Risotto with Saffron, perhaps the best risotto I've ever had. The other starter was also very good: Goats Cheese Bruschetta with caramelised onions (great touch!) and roasted red peppers.

Both of us were also delighted with the mains. The Ravioli Granceola with crab meat in a generous fresh peccadillo tomato sauce was brilliant. No shortage of crab meat either and the sauce was incredible.

My Saltimbocca (Veal medallions, parma ham and sage, cooked in a butter white wine sauce finished with fresh parsley) was perfect, great flavours and textures and aromas, the sauce scooped up with the bread. I hope they didn't think I licked the plate! Great stuff.

This place is open all day, breakfast through to dinner. Well worth a visit. 

After the stop in Youghal, we headed to Ardmore for a walk on the beach. There was a great relaxed feeling in the town. Families playing together in the water and on the sand and people strolling up and down the street and stopping now and then for a chat or a snack or both.

The United Beach Mission and the Fortune Teller’s Caravan caught the eye. So too did the tearooms at the Ardmore Gallery and Studio and that is where we ended up. They do sandwiches and salads and pastries but, after the satisfying lunch, we settled for a big pot of tea and very nice it was too. We sipped away and took in the varied artwork on the walls. They have seating indoors and outdoors in the terraced back garden. Lovely spot.

After that it was time to hit the road to Dungarvan and keep our appointment with Claire and Cormac and you may read a short account of that visit here.

Why Not Take the Dungarvan Brewery Tour!

Why Not Take the Dungarvan Brewery Tour!

Tours to the Dungarvan Brewing Company started last Friday, with Claire and Cormac doing the honours.  It is the first of what is billed as a summer series and you can get further info here.

It is well worth it. The tour caters both for the person with a casual interest in the process and for those with more technical interests. Cormac, who learned the “trade” through his home brewing, is the man for the technical stuff.

He took us through the various malts and hops that they use. Malted barley, for instance, is nothing more or less than barley "soaked in warm water". That is your basic ingredient but then there are various degrees of malting, right up to “roasted”, essentially burnt. This latter has a coffee taste and aroma - you do get to touch and taste it - and is used in their stouts, concluding my favourite Coffee and Oatmeal, a winter stout.

He explained the use of hops. Hops used early in the process is mainly for bitterness while it increases flavour when added in the later stages. Challenger is their basic hops but they also use the well known (and much in demand) Cascade with its more concentrated flavours (which means you use less of it).

The glamour side of the drinks business, demonstrated by brewer Cormac

Claire, one of two accredited Beer Sommeliers at the brewery (husband Tom is the other), then introduced us to the company's beers. What a great line-up they have!
Pale Ale fans are well catered for and Claire started with the Comeragh Challenger, a seasonal English Pale Ale. “Floral, light… easy-drinking..” she said. And so it proved.

The Cascade hops are used in Helvick Gold, a regular in the portfolio. This popular Irish Pale Ale is full bodied, generously hopped and “good with seafood”.

Next up was an American Pale Ale style called Mine Head, also featuring the Cascade hops. It has citrusy flavours and is not as bitter as an IPA and is great with food.

Perhaps the best known of the Dungarvan beers in restaurants is their Copper Coast Irish Red Ale. This will tell you that it is an excellent food beer. And Claire had the perfect match, producing the lovely organic Brewer’s Gold Cheese by the Little Milk Company. This locally produced cheese is washed a few times during production with Copper Coast!

Then on to the Blackrock Stout, a favourite since Dungarvan was founded four years back. Here the roasted malt was prominent and it went very well indeed with the dark chocolate that was handed around and quickly scoffed.

All the beers are traditionally brewed and bottled on-site in Dungarvan, and made using only four ingredients – barley, hops, yeast and water. No chemicals are added to the beers, they are unfiltered, unpasteurised and vegan-friendly. The core range consists of three beers – Black Rock Irish Stout, Copper Coast Irish Red Ale and Helvick Gold Irish Blonde Alewhich are complemented with a selection of seasonal and festival beers throughout the year.

It has been a terrific four years for the brewery and production has been boosted recently, a major factor being the pre-Christmas installation of a mechanical bottling plant (previously, it had all been done by hand!). Now that capacity has increased, so too can the volume and the export market is being explored with sales to Italy, the UK, Scandinavia, Germany and even further afield on the horizon.

The Brewery was the final stop in a "foodie" mini-tour to the east from Cork City. See a short account of the other stops here.
Cascade hops