Saturday, December 20, 2014

Nash 19. Special at Christmas, and All Year Round

Nash 19. Special at Christmas, and All Year Round

Mentioned some time back that Nash19 pay attention to detail, to the small things on and off the plate. Was reminded of that last Friday when in for lunch. Two of those small things stood out: their delicious crunchy brown bread and the scrumptious roast potatoes. Roast potatoes? Yes indeed. Some establishments around town serve up roast pops that you could use for a score of bowls.

It was very busy in the Prince's Street venue, even the gallery at the back was full. But service was still top class, as efficient and friendly as ever. That, and the food of course, makes Nash 19 a top restaurant all year round.
Hederman platter
Isn't it great to take a menu in your hand and say immediately: “I could eat everything there.” Well it could take you a week or two to work your way through it. So, on the day, you have to choose. You could perhaps take the Producer Plate as a shortcut and you wouldn't go wrong with that choice.

But, on Friday, I went for the Frank Hederman Smoked Fish Plate as my starter, various versions of his famous smoked mackerel and salmon. Swapped a few pieces for a couple of large spoonfuls of CL’s Soup (Red Lentil Dahl topped with Riata). It was a fair exchange. The fish was excellent, as we’ve come to expect, and the soup was terrific, the spices provided by Green Saffron, and, all the while, the brown bread was going down well. The white bread, moistened (should really say soaked!) with their excellent olive oil, was long gone.

St Tola
Time now for the mains. The Tim McCarthy Lamb Shanks had all been eaten but there was considerable consolation in the O’Connell Spiced Beef Rump with Christmas Casseroled Red Cabbage, a perfect combination enhanced by the perfectly cooked vegetables (including those spot-on roasties).

Ten out of ten for that and CL was also thrilled with her dish: St Tola Goats Cheese Warm Salad with Spiced Almonds, and Beets two-way, and also pickled plums, a terrific blend, well thought out and well dispatched. Two empty plates went back to the kitchen.

Souped-up with Green Saffron spice
But just one dessert came out. We were getting full so decided to share the Winter Berry Tart, hot, with cream and custard. Tart and sweet, a lovely warm finalé to a hugely satisfying meal, the earlier courses washed down with Heritage des Cedre Malbec (France 2011), rich, fruity and fresh, sending out a message that Cahors is not about to roll over to Argentina in the battle on for Malbec supremacy.

The meal overall illustrated that Nash 19 is sticking to its guns, supporting local producers all the way. Suppliers, in addition to those already mentioned, include: Little Milk Company Cheese, Ummera, Waterfall Salad Leaves, Horizon Farm, Crowe’s Meats, Lismore Food Company, Hans Sloane Chocolate, Kitty Colchester Rapeseed Oil, Llewellyn’s Cider Vinegar, Arbutus Bread, Sheridan Cheese Biscuits.

Spiced Beef

Christmas Opening Hours at Nash 19

Mon 15 Dec to Fri 19 Dec 7.30 am to 4pm
Saturday 20 Dec 8.30am to 4pm
Sunday 21 Dec 12 to 5pm
Mon 22 & Tue 23rd Dec 7.30am to 4pm
Christmas Eve 7.30am till 1.30pm
Opening after Christmas on January 2nd @ 7.30am


Amuse Bouche

For this Thanksgiving, Mom had stuffed turkey with cornbread dressing. There was baked squash and Yorkshire pudding. There was home-made cranberry relish, steaming dirty rice and mashed potatoes and rolls made from scratch. She’d decorated the house and used an ironed sheet as a linen tablecloth. She’d been playing old jazz albums on the stereo, the same music she and Pop would listen to years earlier – Dave Brubeck, Gerry Mulligan and Buddy Rich.

From Townie, a memoir by Andre Dubus III.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Year in Wine. Paris the highlight.

The Year in Wine
Paris a Personal Highlight

All aboard with the judges on the Seine: Chef Chris Carpentier (Santiago),
Jo Mansell (UK), CL, Adolfo Hurtado (Cono Sur) and Yours Truly
Without a doubt the wine highlight for me in 2014 was the trip to Paris for the final of the Cono Sur Bloggers Competition. We didn't make the trip to Chile - Finland pipped us in the decider - but we had a ball with our fellow finalists and with the crew from Cono Sur, including genial winemaker Adolfo Hurtado, not to mention Chris Carpentier, Chile’s Top Chef and MasterChef presenter.

March was a good month. Chris Forbes of Taylor’s  and cheesemaker Dan Hegarty visited Ballymaloe for a Port and Cheddar Tasting and Forbes also matched his gorgeous liquids with chocolate by Shana Wilkie. And a few days later, Sherry supremo César Saldaña gave a masterclass at the Wines of Spain tasting in the Radisson Blu in Little Island.

The second Ballymaloe LitFest had no shortage of drinks events, most of them this time held in the rustic surroundings of the Tractor Shed! Here, with some distinguished company, we enjoyed Beer and Cider  and then a session sipping Port, Sherry and Madeira.

In June, we were on holidays in France. No shortage of wine outings in Bordeaux but our top visit was to Chateau Bauduc. Here, we got a terrific welcome and tour (and tasting of course) thanks to Gavin and Angela Quinney, and the dogs!

July started well with a walk around Cork where we enjoyed the Musica and Vino on the Campo Viejo Tapas Trail. The highlight this month was undoubtedly the Krug Champagne tasting and dinner, with Nicole Brown, in Ballymaloe.

in September, memories of the WineGeese events were revived in unusual fashion at Latitude 51, when a trio of Irish winemakers appeared on a big screen via Skype to take us through a multi-national tasting. Well done to Beverly Mathews, Maurice O’Mahony and Colm McCan for organising WineGeese on the Web.

All that before the November flight to Paris and that magical finale on a boat on the Seine. Slainte to all and Happy Christmas. And here’s looking to a great 2015. Wonder where will it take us? Or indeed who’ll come to visit?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Neven’s Cookery School. Step by Step with the Maestro

Neven’s Cookery School
Step by Step with the Maestro
One Happy Chef!
It might sound strange but Neven Maguire reminds me of Christy Ring. At least in his approach to his cookery school students. He takes it step by step, building confidence from the start and lots of discreet back-up along the way.

I remember “Ringy”, back in the day, teaching a few of us to take a sideline cut. He just didn't throw the sliotar down and order you to strike. No, he found a high sod and placed it there and, if you made a half decent connection, you hit a good sideline ball. “Hey, I can do it!” After that confidence boost, the rest came with practice.

Christy displayed the technique and dispensed good advice as did Neven in MacNean House last Saturday.

Presentation is important but getting the flavours right is even more so.

That was an early nugget from Ireland's favourite chef during our one day Christmas Cookery Course with him, in his own Cookery School in Blacklion (County Cavan). It used to be a hairdressers but there’s a different kind of style now on display here, right next door to Neven's restaurant MacNean House.
Prawn starter

The school has been open for twelve months. “It has been a great year,” said Neven. “A great year for me and a great year for my team. We are booked up every week from now until next June. But the Chef’s Table, a new venture of ours, is not too well known yet and that is not booked up.” The Chef’s Table (for 12 to 20 people) is situated here in the school and you’ll have Neven and his chefs cooking in front of you and serving you as well.

Neven always has great praise for his staff and many of them have been with him for years. His right hand people in the school are Olivia and Clare. “They keep it immaculate.”  Looking back at the year, Neven said it was a great one for him personally as he was voted Best Chef in Ireland and his new book Fast was voted best cookbook in Ireland.

As he took the varied group of students through the course, he was free with advice. He “ordered” everyone to buy a “plastic” wooden spoon, revealed that local Asian markets are “best for spices” and said that “broken walnuts are half the price of whole nuts”. For great honey, check out Irish Bee Sensations  Looking for vanilla, then try Vanilla Bazaar. For Thai products look up Thai Gold in Wexford.

But Christmas Made Easy was mostly about the cooking. Everything from Mulled Wine to the Turkey was covered. The full title of the turkey lesson was: Buttermilk Brined Roast Butterfly of Turkey with Orange and Rosemary.

Cheese board

We got to make a Citrus Harissa Butter for the Turkey Crown. You can get the Harissa paste in most areas nowadays but if not available try sun-dried tomato paste instead. The Butter can also be used on grilled steak, pork chop, roast chicken and grilled fish (like hake).

We did a Pine Nut, Cranberry and Apricot Stuffing. By the way, dried cranberries are “very good in soda bread”. The other big item during the busy morning was the ham. Neven and his team were taking care of the ham itself but we got to do the Glaze and the Pineapple Salsa. Again, the glaze can also be used with Pork Chops while the Salsa goes well with grilled prawns.

Speaking of prawns, we got to make our own starter for lunch, a Prawn Cocktail with the traditional Marie Rose Sauce. To tell the truth most of it was done for us but we certainly picked up tips and hints galore. Besides, it was quite a nice starter.

But the Turkey and Ham were just fantastic, so full of flavour and the turkey so moist. Lunch was followed by a Wine and Cheese Tasting conducted by Blaithin McCabe who has been here since 2007. 

We started with La Contesse Spumante Prosecco and then a lightly oaked Potel Aviron Macon Villages 2011. The red was a Cotes du Rhone by Domaine Coste Chaude (2011) and then we enjoyed the Quinta do Noval 10 Year Old Tawny Port before sipping a MacNean Mulled Wine.

Perhaps the best match of the tasting for me was the Port and Cashel Blue cheese, made from cows milk. Also on the plate were Corleggy, a hard goats cheese from Cavan, Tipperary’s Cooleeney made from raw cows milk and Coolea (Cork) made from fresh cow milk.

Following an interesting tour of the kitchen, there were more lessons, including Chestnut, Wild Mushroom and Bacon Soup with Smoked Duck, Mulled Fruit Truffle, a Fruit Cocktail and Mulled Wine. Sadly though we had to hit the road earlier than most and missed the final session! Will have to go again in the future.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Taste of the Week. Elbow Lane Smoke House Sauce

Taste of the Week
Elbow Lane Smoke House Sauce

Got my hands on a jar of the Elbow Lane Brew & Smoke House sauce recently and it is quite a performer. In the new Oliver Street premises, a brewery cum smoke house, you can add it to your grilled meats.

The good news is that you can also buy a jar (they also do a dry rub). At home, I used it on a steak and it absolutely enhanced it. You may also add my Taste of the Week to duck, ribs, burgers, sausages and so on. Great to see Elbow Lane making it available for sale and great to see other Cork restaurants (such as Cornstore and Electric) making up similar sauces and rubs.

Ingredients: Butter, garlic, lemon, juice, tomatoes, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, chilli powder, vinegar, seasoning.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Where Santa Bags His Reds.

Where Santa Bags His Reds.
At Karwig's
Domaine André Brunel Sommelongue 2011, 14% abv, €17.05 at Karwig Wines

I reckon old Santa could well be calling to Karwig Wines in Carrigaline any day, not delivering, but stocking up on his reds for his many customers. Could well be picking up a few whites as well.

This is one versatile red that might top his list for Christmas dinners. You could drink it with practically anything: roast chicken, pork belly, garlicky sausages, grilled lamb - and, of course, the Christmas turkey. And also with the cheese course.

André Brunel is already well known as the producer of a top class Chateauneuf du Pape on his Les Cailloux estate. This Sommelongue may well be labeled as an ordinary Cotes du Rhone but you’ll find it better than many CdR Villages and on a par with quite a few Crus. Very Highly Recommended.

It is a blend, of Grenache (85%), Syrah and Mourvedre, grown without chemical fertilizers and harvested by hand. Aromas are of dark fruit, especially plum, and with hints of liquorice. It is rich and spicy on the palate, more red than dark fruit here. It is drinking well now; indeed, while it may age for a few years, it is intended to be drunk young. So now’s the time. Happy Christmas.

Gran Passione Rosso 2013 (Veneto IGT 2013), 14%, €13.95 Karwig Wines.
This is another very popular red wine in Karwigs. Indeed, they ran out of it a while back but got new stock in about two weeks ago. This is a great wine for roasted red meats, for game dishes and excellent too with mature hard cheeses. Read my take on it here.

Indeed, Karwig’s are quite strong on Italian reds, many of them well priced. Casale Vecchio Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2009, is another that I enjoyed earlier this month and you’ll find the details here. Just make sure you get there before Santa!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dinner from Neven Maguire’s Kitchen

Dinner from Neven Maguire’s Kitchen
Prestige Menu at MacNean House
Thornhill duck (medium); full menu at bottom of this post.

It’s about four hours and twenty minutes from our house in Cork to Neven Maguire’s MacNean House and restaurant in Blacklion. But it’s well worth the trip as we found out when we had dinner at the famous County Cavan venue last Friday night. And, yes, Neven was in the kitchen, as he regularly is!

Neven and his wife, Amelda, took inspiration for the new décor and recipes from extensive travel and research in London, Paris, Australia, New Zealand and Thailand. The restaurant's menu reflects his continued advocacy of local and artisan producers and insistence on high quality, seasonal and traceable produce.

The dining room is bright, spacious and beautifully decorated. Colours are muted and you soon feel at ease in the comfortable chairs. Of course, the bar area is very comfortable as well and here you can have your aperitif, listen to the live music (a local trio last Friday) and study the menu. Not too much studying required though if you go for the Prestige Menu as this requires the participation of the whole table (there were six of us). And the only choice you need to make is between the beef and the local duck.

Needless to say, service was friendly and immaculate. The various dishes were well sized, the intervals between well judged and the wine pairings (optional) were excellent. These latter were chosen by Blaithin McCabe. Wouldn’t normally pick a Gamay but the one here could change that. Similarly, the Picpoul de Pinet is one of the best I’ve come across. And I was toasting Yalumba’s Jane Ferrari as I sipped the dessert wine.
Seared breast of Partridge

Don't want to bother you with too much detail about the meal. You can see the menu below for yourself. The Partridge was perhaps the highlight for me of the early dishes, perfection itself. CL was delighted with the Crab Cocktail and the Scallop.

Our hosts had very strongly recommended the Thornhill Duck Breast and it is a superb product and, after the intervention of Neven and his team in the kitchen, it becomes a superb dish. Yes indeed, very highly recommended with both of us in full and enthusiastic agreement!

Ryefield cheese

Neven’s commitment to local producers is underlined throughout his menus. Ryefield Goat Cheese, from County Cavan,  was featured on the cheese course. The highlight towards the end is, of course, the Chocolate Sensation. This has quite a visual impact as the perfect sphere of dark chocolate collapses seconds after the sauce is poured on from a wee jug! Tastes good though, very good indeed!


Aside from the Prestige Menu (€87), MacNean’s also serve a Dinner Menu (72) and Sunday Lunch (39). A relatively new addition that you may not know about is the The Chef’s Table. This is next door in the Cookery School and will accommodate between 10 and 20 guests. Neven and his dedicated team will cook and serve your meal in full view of your guests.

Dining room

You know of course that Neven has quite a few cookbooks to his name, including the most recent called Fast. But you can also see some of his recipes online here.

Check Chocolate Sensation video!
Danger: You may find yourself licking the screen.

The Prestige Menu
Neven’s 9 course signature Tasting Menu.


Crab Cocktail (Oriental tuna, Poached oysters and Celeriac Mousse)

Partridge (Seared breast and, not in picture, Confit leg, creamed spinach and potato Rostis)

Seared Sea Scallops (Carmelised pork cheek and textures of pumpkin)

Salt and Aged Beef Fillet (Braised short rib and creamed celeriac)


Thornhill Duck Breast (seared Foie Gras, Wild mushroom polenta and butternut squash puree)

Ryefield Cheese (Fritter and cannelloni with textures of beetroot)


Chocolate Sensation
(chocolate sphere, brownie, caramel mousse and ice cream).

Tea or Coffee and Petit Fours

The wines

Champagne Charpentier Brut Prestige NV

Lucien Ladry Moulin-a-Vent, Vielle Vignes, Beaujolais 2012

Domaine Felines Jourdan, Picpoul de Pinet, 2013

Cannonau Costera, Argiolas, Sardina 2011.

Yalumba Botrytis Viognier, Australia

Friday, December 12, 2014

Amuse Bouche

Arthur opens another bottle of wine but spits out the first mouthful.
“Corked?” asks Blanche.
“No, just Californian,” he says, squinting at the label. “La vie est trop courte pour boire du mauvais vin.” He quotes the proverb grandly as he shoves the window up to empty the wine into the street.
From the darkness below comes a shout that could be protest or jubilation, it’s hard to tell.

from Frog Music by Emma Donoghue