Monday, February 27, 2017

5 Gluten Free Beers from 9 White Deer

5 Gluten Free Beers from 9 White Deer

Good news this week as Ballyvourney craft-brewers 9 White Deer launch Europe’s first full range of Gluten Free-Beer. The Stag Saor range features a Red Ale, a Pale Ale, an IPA, a Kölsch and a Stout.

So what’s a Kölsch? This is the beer of Cologne in Germany; Kölsch means “local to Cologne” (according to Beer FAQ) and the name is protected and that is why the Ballyvourney beer is labelled Kölsch style. Like its German inspiration, this Stag Saor light beer is cold lagered. With its gentle hops and malt character, it is easy-drinking, full flavoured with fruity hints and a crisp and lager style character.

I loved the Red Ale for its depth of flavour and texture and, with its likeness (in flavour) to stout. Good too with food. 

Like the others, their Pale Ale is vegan free and brewed with “love”. Easy to love too with its light body, aromas and moderate hop flavours. Lots of new age hops in the IPA. Hop usage is late in the boil so giving big flavours and aromas without major bitterness. Well balanced and quaffable.

The Saor Stout though is perhaps my favourite of the five. This is described as a double chocolate and Madagascan vanilla stout, rich and luxurious. You must try this chocolate “block” from the West Cork Gaeltacht; it is distinctive and delicious.

Don O'Leary
For a chance to meet the founders and sample the new Stag Saor gluten-free range, drop in to O’Brien’s Off Licence, Beacon South Quarter, Dublin on Thursday 2nd March between 12 noon and 8pm or Matson’s, Cooney's Lane, Grange, Douglas Co. Cork on Friday 3rd March between 12 noon and 8pm.

9 White Deer was founded in 2014 by former marine engineer, Gordon Lucey, and respected publican Don O’Leary (who runs the famous Mills Inn pub). The brewery initially offered a core range of four beers. Within the company’s first year, Don was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance, which essentially determined the direction for the business.


Don O’Leary recalls: “At first the timing seemed terrible, we had just opened a craft brewery and I identified as gluten intolerant! However, the development of Stag Saor has changed everything for the business.  It prompted us to research the market and see how limited the beer offering is for those with gluten intolerance. There have been a very small number of gluten-free lagers and pale ales developed in Ireland over the last two years but, with options still very limited, we identified an opportunity to create a full range of gluten-free beers, which also taste really good,”.
  
Co-founder Gordon Lucey began brewing at home in 1999 and has since become a qualified brewer.  He said, “We are determined to lead the way in breaking new ground for brewing in Ireland. It was critical to us that our gluten-free range, not only met the gluten-free requirements but also tasted great. Each batch of the Stag Saor range is independently tested and certified to maintain its excellence and to ensure that it complies with EU regulations of less than 20ppm of gluten. We regularly get the certificates back with less than 5ppm.”
 
Brewer Gordon
9 White Deer launched its first gluten-free product, Saor, in 2015. It received a bronze medal in the 2016 Blas na hEireann awards following a blind taste testing where the judges did not know it was a gluten-free product.

Stag Saor is available nationwide from Classic Drinks and also in Dublin from CBG Wholesale. For a full list of stockists visit www.9whitedeer.ie.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Four Hands, Five Stars, One Michelin.

Four Hands, Five Stars, One Michelin.
JP McMahon at Greene’s, Cork.
Beetroot, goat's cheese
The event was billed as a Four Hands Dinner, the talented mitts of visiting Michelin Star chef JP McMahon (Aniar, Galway) and his host Bryan McCarthy accounting for the four. But there were many other hands in this marvellous meitheal, quite a few of those in Greene’s kitchen.

And hands too of a big band of their fantastic suppliers also played a part, producers such as Kanturk’s Jack McCarthy, Galway’s Bia óisin, Ballyhoura Mushrooms and the Lismore Food Company. 

Celeriac
 And so too did Fionnuala Harkin who told us a little about the “local” winemakers (mainly organic) that her company Wines Direct works with. And through the wines, hands from Austria, France and Italy, all contributed.

The enjoyable evening started with an aromatic, flavourful and aptly named Man of Aran cocktail in Greene’s highly impressive new bar Cask. They serve small plates here from the main kitchen so that’s worth a visit on its own!

Halibut
 Soon, at the tables in the main restaurant, we had a couple of what Bryan terms snacks, one of Ham and Seaweed, the other of Beetroot, Goats Cheese, and Buckler Sorrel. Those little beauties, with a little help from the Domaine Séguinot Bordet Petit Chablis, started the ball rolling in some style.

And it kept rolling with a Harty Oyster served with Sea Beet and Dillisk. The sea, oh the sea. And another sip of Chablis.  The delicious palate cleanser of Anise Hyssop and Gorse (the posh name for furze bush!) had us ready for more.

Sorbet
The plates were getting marginally more substantial as the courses continued. A lovely combination of Celeriac, Mushroom and Hazelnut, next appeared and Fionnuala wisely switched to a red wine, Jean Paul Brun’s L’Ancien, a light and lovely Beaujolais. So many people underestimate the gorgeous Gamay grape - this bottle could change a mind or two.

Time now for the fish: Halibut, Sea Radish, Bacon, Pepper Dulse and Elf Cap. Lots of flavours here but the star, as you’d expect, was the immaculately cooked Halibut. And the wine pairing was the fresh and well textured Grüner Veltliner from Kamptal (Austria) by Steininger.

Duck
 A little flavoured-packed sorbet was next: Preserved Elderflower, Kilbrack Apple and Sorrel. 

That was followed by the Skeaghanore Duck with Parsnip, Scurvy Grass* and Ramsons. The Skeaghanore duck is widely available now and a terrific meat. But hard to beat the way it was cooked in Greene’s, tender and moist. And that parsnip was fabulous too, possibly the best rendition of that vegetable  I've ever come across. 


Cheese
 The wine, it kept coming, had by now switched back to red, to Domaine Didier Charavin, Lou Paris, Côtes du Rhône. “That should work well with both the duck and the cheese,” promised Fionnuala and she was correct, again!

The cheese was Young Buck and came with pear and raisin and superb crackers by Lismore.  Were we finished? Not at all. One more course, one more wine.

Dessert
The dessert featured Rhubarb from Richard’s Little Farm in Doneraile and the sweet and fresh wine with the usual Italian acidity, the Bera Moscato d’Asti, was the perfect match for the beautifully presented sweet. 

Cheers to JP and Bryan and to the many hands, including those of the many efficient and friendly servers, that contributed towards a memorable dinner. Same time next year?


* Scurvy-grass was extensively eaten in the past by sailors suffering from scurvy after returning from long voyages, as the leaves are rich in vitamin C, which cures this deficiency disease resulting from a lack of fresh vegetables in the diet. The leaves, which have a strong peppery taste similar to the related horseradish and watercress, are also sometimes used in salads.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Amuse Bouche

Unsurprisingly, Madame was utterly baffled by my attentions. But what a marvellous woman! She taught me everything I know. In the kitchen.

She aroused my palate if nothing else. Ireland in those days was a gastronomic wilderness. Parsley sauce was considered the height of sophistication. Here, I learned that boiling was not the only way to treat a vegetable; that pastry was an artist’s medium; that meat could be smoked, cured, grilled and braised; that herbs and spices added flavour; and that garlic existed.


from Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent (2014). Highly Recommended.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

There are cheesecakes. And there are Charly’s Cheesecakes

There are cheesecakes. And there are Charly’s Cheesecakes

As patrons of the start-up stall in the English Market have been delightfully discovering over recent weeks, there is a new and exciting level in the world of cheesecakes and Charly’s heavenly creations are top of the pyramid. At an different level entirely.

And who is Charly? Well she is the daughter of Dubliner Derek Gilsenan. Derek is a chef and a few years ago, on his days off, he and Charly embarked on cooking and baking fun. Together they started making cookies, ice-cream, whatever Charly felt like on the day.
Starting another day in the English Market
The father and daughter were doing well and the praise came in after their first ever cake sale at Charly's school in Waterford, where the family live. Derek, not yet a converted cheesecake lover, felt he and Charly were on to something good.

He went all to to get proper gear and the rewards followed when Charly's Cheesecakes   made an amazing debut at Winterval, Waterford’s winter festival.

Different class!
And so they progressed and now this is Derek's only job. He is at it full-time and describes this as a make or break year. The big operators have taken notice but Derek is not about to reduce the superb quality of his products.

“I'd rather have four good markets and make a living by sticking to my guns. I enjoy what I do. Stalls like this one in the marvellous English Market are a great boost to me and other start-ups. It gives us a lift and I am really looking forward to taking up a stall at the Saturday Coal Quay Market in Cornmarket Street when I finish here on the 11th of March.”

 Like many other food producers, Derek has noticed a huge demand for gluten free, particularly during the Glow Festival in Cork. And the good news is that many of his cakes are gluten free with anything up to 14 different flavours available GF, including the likes of Terry's chocolate, Belgian white chocolate and various fruits (passionfruit, strawberry, raspberry and more).

And he is passionate about what he uses in the business. All his packaging, comes from DOWN2EARTH MATERIALS  at Forge Hill (and is compostable). And the packaging is top notch, that clear dome superbly displaying the goodies inside! And those goodies contain no gelatine. “No cakes need it, it is sinful to use it in cakes.”

“I will never run out of flavours.” If you check the list on his Facebook page, you'd think there are not too many more out there. But even that list is not complete and he promises many more. “Basically, if you give me a tin of roses I will reproduce each flavour in individual portion sizes.” 

Only top quality ingredients are used in Charly’s. The high quality chocolate comes from Belgium and he counts Muldoon's of Waterford (makers of the award winning whiskey liqueur) and Malone’s Fruit Farm of Carlow among his suppliers. 

By the way, all those fruit garnishes are hand-cut and mounted by the man himself. Oh, he still gets help from Charly herself. “She started it and she's sticking with it!” By the way, he is looking for a supplier of a soft cheese, cows or goats!

 This business started out as  a hobby a few years back and began getting serious about five years ago. You can find the cheesecakes in the Saturday market in Waterford, the Thursday market in Kilkenny and soon in the Saturday Coal Quay Market in Cork.

The quality and the passion have taken Charly's Cheesecakes a long way. They are totally different, “on a different level” as he says himself. Go taste one for yourself! And that's easily done, as he usually has a tray of little tasters available.



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Purple Grape, Purple Grace

Purple Grape, Purple Grace
Superb Bergerac Blend

Caro Feely is one of the speakers at the 2017 Ballymaloe LitFest in May. At noon, on the 21st, she will engage in conversation with renowned wine-writer Tomás Clancy, in a presentation entitled “Glass Half Full - The Ups and Downs of Vineyard Life”. See LitFest.ie for tickets (€16.00). Should be a very interesting hour! Below we look at one of her interesting wines. 

Terroir Feely, Grâce 2012, Vin de France, 14%, €25.50 Mary Pawle Wines



Saussignac, well known for its dessert wines, is an area near Bergerac, where Sean and Caro Feely operate, maybe not quite within the rules of the appellation, hence the Vin de France classification for this organic red wine, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) and Merlot (40%).


Operating on the edge can be a gamble. “We hold our nerve and wait to hand-pick the grapes for this wine with optimal ripeness. Our patience is rewarded with a rich, elegant and mineral wine, the grace of nature. A living wine, rich and fresh, that offers great depth of dark fruit, a hint of orange peel, spice and mint.” No sulphites have been added to this Very Highly Recommended 2012 edition, of which just 2,650 bottles were produced.

Grace has a purple colour with aromas of dark fruit (mainly plum), mint notes too. It is indeed rich and fresh, and dry, tannins fine-grained and persistent, some spice here too. And yes, that terrific depth of fruit but with a superb balance and then a long and satisfying finalé. A pleasure to drink and Very Highly Recommended.

For a earlier review of La Source, another Feely blend of Cabernet and Merlot but in reverse proportions, check here


Ferraton Les Pichères, Crozes-Hermitage (AC) 2009, 12.5%, €25.75 Mary Pawle Wines

This 100% Syrah is made from organically grown grapes on limestone sub-soil with, on the surface, large pebbles from the River Isère. It spends 8-10 months in barrel, depending on the vintage. Watch out too for the Ferraton Le Reverdy.

The Pichères is a deep ruby, a clean purple on bottom of the cork. There is a complex mix of aromas, including black and red fruits. Spice and pepper are prominent on the palate. It is medium to full bodied, fruity and so well balanced with an excellent finish. A well rounded serene Syrah, impressive overall and Very Highly Recommended.

Did you know, that in winemaking, rainfall is a big factor in the difference between the Northern Rhone where its hits 923mm per annum and the Southern where the average is 677mm? See World Atlas of Wine for more details.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Taste of the Week. Gubbeen Smoked Pork Ribs

Taste of the Week
Gubbeen Smoked Pork Ribs

Fingal Ferguson of Gubbeen Somekouse has become a well respected smoked meat producer; he has over 50 products and a fascination that grows each year with the arts and science of charcuterie. Here, you’ll find superb chorizo and salamis, smoked bacon and more, even that famous cheese is smoked.

Fifty products and growing. One of the latest, Gubbeen Smoked Pork Ribs, is truly mouth-watering and our Taste of the Week. Like all his products, this comes from quality ingredients to which time and care have been added. The result is a “marriage of traditional methods and modern flavours”.

This latest product, I got mine at Mahon Point Farmers Market, means you can have a barbecue anytime you like. The BBQ sauce ingredients include pimento, olive oil, harissa, garlic, herbs and spices and it all adds up to one of most flavoursome meals imaginable. It is ready to eat but we did heat ours up a bit and tucked in. The succulent meat more or less fell away from the bones but using your fingers and teeth (the traditional way) adds to the primal pleasure. Oohs and aahs all the way! And yes, the odd grunt too.

Gubbeen Farmhouse Products, Ltd.,
Gubbeen House,
Schull, Co. Cork.
Ireland.

Cheese Telephone: 
00 353 (0)28 28231
Smokehouse Telephone: 
00 353 (0)28 27824

Monday, February 20, 2017

Jacobs on the Mall. Catching the Early Bird

Jacobs on the Mall
Catching the Early Bird


 An Early Bird was required last Friday so I checked a few websites and it was the one in Jacobs on the Mall that had most appeal. We got into the lovely old building about 5.30pm, thirty minutes after opening, and found that the place was filling up rapidly. Word of the Early Bird had obviously spread and we soon found that the promise was indeed amply fulfilled.

Basically, you get three courses for €25.00. And Head Chef Trish Lewis gives you three or four or more choices for each course. There is a good wine choice here too, lots of different wines form different parts of the world. Good to see a few Irish beers featured and also highlighted were Blackwater Gin and Kalak Vodka.

 There were three starters plus Soup of the Day. My Pick was the Smoked haddock paté, with lime gel, pickled cucumber and crostini. Very enjoyable indeed, the lime a nice touch. And CL’s Crispy chickpea fritters with pickled cucumber, and beetroot hummus, was another excellent opener, a tasty mix of colours, textures and flavours.

Chef Trish provided at least six choices for the mains including steak (with a hefty supplement). We could have had a Beef-burger, Fish and Chips, or a Blackened Chicken bruschetta.
I opted for the Pan fried cod with a creamy pearl barley, samphire and chorizo. I’m a fan of all these elements and I enjoyed every little bit of the dish which was cooked to perfection and also well presented.

Our other mains was Cuban style pork, with mint, avocado, orange, balsamic vinegar and rustic potatoes, another well cooked plateful, another happy customer.

There was agreement on the dessert as we both ordered the Raspberry and lemon curd slice with Chantilly cream, a nice little finish to an excellent Early Bird that is available Monday to Saturday from 5.00 to 6.15pm.

It is a gorgeous venue, one of the few indoor places where you might find a leaf in your wine, rather than the fly in your soup. There is a lot of foliage overhead here! Service is excellent here, from the friendly welcome to the contact at the table right through to the farewell and help with getting the coat on. Well worth a try.



Jacobs on the Mall
30a South Mall
Cork
Tel: (021) 425 1530
Message/Facebook: @jacobsonthemallrestaurant
Twitter: @JacobsOnTheMall 
Hours: Mon-Sat 5.00pm to 10.00pm. Closed Sun