Saturday, February 27, 2010


When you walk into the Liberty Grill, you are struck by the happy buzz. It is full again this Friday evening (we started at 6.45pm), all enjoying the good food, well cooked, well presented and served by a smashing staff.

A share of people are dining en famille. Don’t come across it much around town. The well behaved kids are well catered for here; they even get their food ahead of the adults.

Are you to limited to burgers and chips here? No. Far from it. There is a huge menu in this early 'til late venue. Burgers for sure, all made from the best local produce. Then there are tempting salads, fish, poultry, lamb and beef along with vegetarian dishes. Something for everyone.

Started with a Southern Fried Chicken salad: slices of southern fried chicken on a bed of
seasonal leaves with Jalapeño peppers, toasted cashews and tomato salsa. The advisor enjoyed the Deep Fried Cambozola (Italian cheese) with a cranberry coulis. Mine cost €7.95, hers €4.95. Promising start.

 My main dish was the Tennessee Flambé (17.95). This consisted of tender medallions of the very best beef, peppered and flambéed in a shot of Jack Daniels and served with mushrooms, sweet balsamic onions and crispy garlic potatoes. This was absolutely brilliant, couldn't recommend it highly enough.

The other main course at the table was a Salad Niçoise (14.95), a truly healthy and tasty mix of line caught yellow fin tuna, potatoes, hardboiled eggs, olives, French beans and seasonal salad leaves. This was quite a substantial dish and lived up to the description.

 There is an adequate selection of wines available, most between twenty and thirty euro, though the house wine costs just €17.25 (4.65 per glass). There was also a Wine of the Month available at 5.25 a glass. I enjoyed my Montemartel Cotes du Rhone (Syrah, Grenache and Carignan) very much.

 But the white, a Claire Moreau Muscadet Sur Lie, was a really gripping drink and you needed only the tiniest drop to become aware of the quality. Both wines are available at the Wine Buff, just across the road. You also have a number of sparkling wines available and a popular feature is the non-alcoholic Mocktail, a favourite with kids and adults alike.

Overall, the choice and the value are fantastic (through breakfast, brunch, lunch and evening) and you really need to check out the website to get the picture. Even then, you won't see the bunch of seasonal dishes that are added every month.

Denis O’Mullane and Marianne Delaney own and operate the Liberty and also the nearly Cafe Gusto (another interesting venue for coffee and lighter bites).

We asked Denis how the name came about and what it signified in food terms.
 “It is actually a shortened version of our first shot which was ‘Liberty Belle Cafe and Grill’. After seeing the room with its large windows and dark furniture, we knew we were going to do an American East Coast Neighbourhood restaurant, where grilled foods make a rather large part of the menu.”

BL: Who are the key players?
Denis: “Our customers, staff and suppliers.  Our customers for their loyalty and critical honesty. Our staff who work extremely hard and who have the unenviable job of starting from scratch everyday to ensure most honest product possible without a lot of shortcuts. Finally our suppliers who have to listen to us moaning if the quality isn’t right.”

BL: You must be pleased with your Bridgestone listing? 
Denis:  To be honest I feel a little uneasy about professional reviews as Liberty Grill is a neighbourhood restaurant which can be found on every block in major cities in the US, with a very simple function to feed from dawn to dusk.  An eminent restaurateur on our street queried whether being a member of Good Food Ireland sets expectations which don’t marry with what we are doing, we are currently considering our position.

BL: What of the future?
Denis: Cork is actually buzzing on the food front with most restaurants doing pretty well. I think with a little more co-operative effort, we have an interesting couple of years ahead.



Top five from recently visited restaurants in Cork:

Fenns Quay, Nash 19, Bramley Lodge, Liberty Grill and Continental.

Next five:

Boardwalk, Boqueria, The Brick Oven, Rising Tide, Farm Gate (Cork).

You’d expect the Farm Gate to be in the top rank but it is too bloody cold up there these days. I don't fancy eating lunch, no matter how good, in my overcoat.
Twebt Mystery Bottle

Have you got your hands on the mystery bottle for the Twitter wine event (#twebt) on Sunday March 7th? Time is running out if you want it delivered to your house for the fun event which apparently trended in Ireland last month. All the details are here while the wine (€19.00, inc. delivery) can only be ordered from Karwig Wines



The Crawford Cafe, in the art gallery of the same name, is a lovely place to visit, not least because of the friendly and helpful staff. With walls painted light blue and art works exhibited all around, the cafe is spacious and a great city centre spot to meet someone.

The menu is quite inviting with excellent lunchtime mains courses and plenty of drinks from water to apple juice to wine available also. The prices range from about ten to fourteen euro.

With a dinner date on the agenda for the night, I didn't need that much when I called at lunchtime today. Got myself the most beautiful tomato soup (€5.50) in a big bowl and that coupled with two lovely slices of brown bread was a decent filler.

Thought I’d finish off with a coffee (2.40) but then spotted some cakes and went for a chocolate and orange shortbread (pictured), recommended by the manager. Gorgeous, but will have to put the dinner back a bit.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Baking Emporium in Dunmanway


Dunmanway’s small scale Baking Emporium makes a variety of cakes, breads, confectionery, muesli and seed breads. So do other bakeries. So what is different about Dunmanway?

I put it to the taste recently when I bought some of their stuff in the city. My choice was Emmental Cheese and Pumkmkin Seeded bread. Loved it and will be buying more, for sure.

This is organic seed bread and the range has won awards. They make four Wheat varieties and two Spelt varieties. They say it is a delicious crunchy alternative to normal bread and I agree. Worth watching out for!

They are on sale at farmers markets and also at On the Pigs Back in the English Market. For more details, check out their website

Check out my review of Baking Emporium - I am cork - on Qype

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Milleens Cheese in Cork


Charles De Gaulle (1890-1970) once said that the French had 365 different cheeses. The French politician was familiar with the southwest of Ireland but when he visited the country he would have found it difficult to locate any real cheese.

Milleens is generally credited with producing the first modern Irish Farmhouse cheese in 1976 and the company improved it over the following years. It is still going strong. Picked one up recently at On the Pigs Back in the English Market and enjoyed it.

It has a mottled peach, and sometimes orange, washed rind and within is a paste that goes from semi-firm to spilling cream. The flavour is a complex mix of delicate herbs along with a spicy tang. That spicy tang doesn't suit everyone but personally I have no problem with it and is in any case tamed when mixed in with a salad.

My piece was marked Milleens Dote. Wasn't too sure about the Dote but it is simply the term use to indicate a 200g round, the smallest size.

The soft cheese is made by the Steele family from the milk of Freisan cows on the rugged Beara peninsula. It is a regular award winner and features regularly on the cheese board of top class hotels and restaurants.

Check out my review of Milleens Cheese - I am cork - on Qype
Photos show fishing boats at Castletownbere and De Gaulle memorial in Sneem

Monday, February 22, 2010



Enjoy a little mystery on your Sunday evenings? Enjoy a little wine at the same time? Now you can combine both in the third Twitter Blind Tasting Event.

The wine will be delivered to your door but won’t have the usual labels visible. A bit of scouts honour is required here but remember this is a fun 90 minutes or so. Have a look, have a nose, have a taste – all at a leisurely pace.

You and your fellow drinkers will all the time be updating twitter with your opinions. If you don't have any, then just read the others (some are very witty) and have another sip. No competition here, no prizes, just a bunch of wine lovers having a bit of Sunday night fun, starting about nine.

The wines in the previous tastings were supplied by Curious Wines and Bubble Brothers and Carrigaline outfit Karwig Wines are doing the honours for the March event. The mystery bottle costs €19.00, including delivery in the Republic.

Don't worry if you are new to Twitter. Brian Clayton, one of the organisers, has all the info you need, in plain English, on his excellent introductory post.
Kevin Crowley of the famous Fenns Quay restaurant in Cork is another man involved behind the scenes and you’ll be following him and Brian on Twitter as they’ll be guiding you through the process:  when to open, when to taste and so on.

You can also follow the event hashmark:  #twebt. Don’t worry at all about the technical side of it – Brian’s post is very clear on twitter and how to use it. Just enjoy the wine and enjoy the company. Enjoy the craic.

So what are you waiting for? Click on Karwigs above and take the first step towards solving that mystery.

Blackrock Market in Cork

It may be one of the smallest markets around but Sunday morning’s gathering in Blackrock is not without its fans. Some drive in, some stroll down, even spotted a pair roller skating to the venue today!
And why not? It has a lovely riverside location and plenty of parking and space enough for the dozen or so stands that start opening for business around the 10.00am mark and stay there until 2.00pm.
Despite the small number of stands, quite a lot is covered. Here you can get hot drinks (O’Connaill’s coffee and chocolate among them) and hot bites such as crepes. Then there are burritos and soups and more substantial food items like fish and bread. Even noticed a jewellery stand there.
So, if you missed out on the bigger presentations like Mahon (Thursday) and Midleton (Saturday), then all is not lost and a visit to the bottom of the Marina and the fishing village of Blackrock could well save the day for you!

Check out my review of Blackrock Market - I am cork - on Qype

O'Connaill Chocolate in Cork

You never know where you’ll find O’Connaill’s Chocolates but everywhere wouldn’t be a bad answer.
Not alone do this Carrigaline based company have their own outlet, well positioned in city centre French Church Street, but their products are sold by many top rate food outlets (such as O’Keeffe’s in St Luke’s) and, in addition, they never ever neglect a market space, being regulars in Mahon and Midleton.

They have chocolate products galore, the strength of their bars going from 30 to 100 per cent. And they can heat you up on a cold day with some delicious hot chocolate (€2.50). Well I find it delicious any way but, taste being what it is, some people do find it the sweetness just too much.
That is the way we are built but you still don't lose out if you find yourself in front of an O’Connaill’s stall as they also sell some decent coffee (€2) to go. My most recent visit came on a Sunday morning in Blackrock and, as the frost lingered well into the day, I really enjoyed my hot cup as I watched the rowers pass by on the river.

Check out my review of O'Connaill Chocolate - I am cork - on Qype

The Boardwalk Bar and Grill in Cork

Make a visit to the Boardwalk Bar and Grill to check out their inviting €22.50 three course early bird offer.
Made feel at home straight way by the friendly staff who were excellent and on the ball throughout the meal in the busy buzzy comfortable dining room. The bar at the other side looked equally inviting.
After sampling a tasty seeded bun, picked the squid from a choice of four starters. The rings came in a nice thin batter and were accompanied by a sweet chilli dip and some lettuce leaves (nicely presented in a little paper cone).
Again there was a choice of four dishes for the main course. The salmon and spinach looked good at a nearby table but I went for the Angus steak. It was a fine piece served with onion rings, the sauce coming in a separate container (a sensible way of doing it).
There was some piped out tasteless texture-less mash on the plate and that was left there at the end. Then three little saucepans were placed on the table, one containing well cooked broccoli and green beans, another with some decent chips and the third, more potatoes, this type a gratin (with some hard overdone pieces). That made it three types of spud with one course! Hardly necessary and a record for me, I think.
Desserts chosen were New York Baked Cheese cake and a Citrus Tart. Both were okay but we’d have been better off to have taken the glass of wine instead. The offer is for three courses or two courses with wine but you are asked at the very start to nominate your dessert with the order.
We did have two glasses of wine, each costing €5.50. One was a South African Cabernet Shiraz, the other a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, both very pleasant and fit for purpose

Check out my review of The Boardwalk Bar & Grill - I am cork - on Qype

Friday, February 19, 2010


Very enjoyable and top class from start to finish. We lingered over every tasty morsel as we ate and sipped our way through close on three delightful hours in Fenns Quay last night.
Drank a Kir while studying the extensive menus, the a la carte, the set menu and the long list of specials. Then, after a sip or two, stopped reading to concentrate on the Kir as it was perhaps the very best we’ve come across in decades.
Sipped away until the mains arrived.  Had been told that the Chargrilled Slaney Valley Lamb Chump (€22.50) with roast vegs in an olive and tomato sauce with curried roast potatoes was “massive”. It lived up to expectations, a gorgeous piece of meat, cooked to perfection as were the veg and potatoes.
Though 100 per cent happy with mine, I couldn't help glancing towards the other dish: Baked Monkfish (€24.50) with flat cup mushrooms, roast parsnips, rustic potato's and a butternut squash puree. The advisor would have been thrilled with the fish itself but again the accompaniments were also spot on.

The restaurant serves quite a few wines by the glass and I choose Cave de Tain Syrah 2006  to go with the lamb. It is the current house red and a superb example of the type from the northern Rhône. San Giorgio Pinot-Grigio 2008, light and crisp with a good flavour, went well with the fish.

Then on to the desserts, one described as Homemade strawberry jelly with vanilla ice cream strawberry jelly, an understatement, as this was a delicious pot of pureed strawberries, just gorgeous.
I too enjoyed my Bread and butter pudding with custard but I must tell you that I had a glass of Oremus Tokaji Aszu 5 puttonyos 2000 with it and that was a (shared) highlight. Even the tiniest sip of this nectar of the gods made all the sensors of the mouth and nose sit up and take notice as it reverberated gently around, lingering a long pleasurable while.
Kevin Crowley is one of three person team that owns and runs Fenns Quay and is the wine expert: “I have a passion for finding high quality, interesting and great value wines. I tend to seek value in places where others wouldn't; be it places like Austria, Portugal, Sicily, or Greece. Nothing is too strange and uncommerical for me not to consider. If the wine tastes good and is a great price, who cares where it’s from!”
Over a later glass of Cremant D' Alsace sparkling wine – we were celebrating a wedding anniversary – Kevin introduced us to his cousin Kate Lawlor, the Head Chef since 2006 (having started under the previous owners in 2001). The third member of the current group is Kevin’s partner Pennapa Wongsuwan. “Between the three of us, we cover every aspect of our business, but we also have excellent staff who are very dedicated and hard working.
Fenns Quay’s policy is to use good quality local produce and being in the city centre is a help according to Kevin: “Yes, we are fortunate to have on our doorstep in Cork access to such fantastic local produce, be it fruit or veg, cheeses and artisan products from west Cork and fresh fish and high quality meat from the English Market.”

All the hard work, from sourcing to cooking to service, is being recognised and Fenns Quay has been honoured by Michelin. Kevin again: “We are very fortunate that the restaurant has been recommended in the Michelin guide for a number of years, and with this latest recommendation (2010) it’s very pleasing to have our hard work recognised by a worldwide institution such as the Michelin Guide.”

FOODISTA, the online cooking encyclopedia that everyone can edit, is looking for recipes to feature in an upcoming Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook.

Melissa, the Editor and Community Developer, has been in touch: "If you would like the chance to have your recipes published in a cookbook, enter them into the Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook competition. But hurry, the deadline is February 28th, 2010!" 

"Check it out at 
Please let me know if you have any questions, I'm happy to help. I look forward to seeing you soon in the Foodista kitchen!"

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hawthorn Bar on the Lough (Cork)

The Hawthorn Bar and Bistro has one immediate advantage and that is its lakeside location, overlooking the famous Lough.
Called in there this morning for coffee at eleven, having circled the Lough, on foot. Wasn't on my own – far from it, as quite a few customers were enjoying the break.
I enjoyed mine as well, as the swans and ducks floated by outside under a blue (though cold) sky. Two decent coffees and two excellent scones (hot from the oven, just like mother used to make them) went down a treat, total cost €8.00.
While the staff and chefs were busy preparing the upstairs for lunch, there was one modest, polite and efficient barman on duty who looked after the snacks and tidied up the place quickly.
They also do lunch and dinner and, on the basis of the morning snack, I would definitely call there and try out the more substantial menus available later in the day.

Phone:+353 (0)21-496-2768

Check out my review and contact details of Hawthorn Bar - I am cork - on Qype

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cork Coffee Roasters in Cork


Super Funky...Super Cool.... So says the current Bridgestone Irish Food Guide in talking up Cork Coffee Roasters in Bridge Street.

Not too sure about Funky and Cool, words from the middle of the last century, the fabulous Funk Brothers out of Detroit and maestro Miles Davis with the Birth of the Cool.

But the kids in Bridge Street were friendly and helpful and the coffee was excellent. The view out of the window wasn't bad either, Shandon ahead in brilliant sunshine. But, today baby, it was cool outside!

Check out my review of Cork Coffee Roasters - I am cork - on Qype

Oh, by the important way, you can also buy your coffee from Cork Coffee Roasters. And, if you are in the catering business, they’ll have their experts train your staff so that everyone (including your customers) benefits.
Phone: 087 7766322

Monday, February 15, 2010

Follains of Coolea

The tasty products of Follain, the food company from the Gaeltacht area of Coolea, are very widely available and indeed you will find them in all the major supermarkets.
I have come across their relishes and jams in various Christmas hampers and so on but didn't realise they had gone mainstream until I got some of their marmalade in Dunnes Stores recently. Happy to say, the marmalade is excellent, as good as ever.
And the good news doesn't stop there. All their products are gluten free, fat free and 100% suitable for vegetarians. The company, founded in 1983, still live by that "home-made" way that got them off the ground in the first place: 100 per cent natural and zero per cent artificial flavours and colourings.
Check it all out at their new website:

Check out my review of Follains - I am cork - on Qype

The Wholy Grain in Cork

Downtown this morning and needed a pick-me-up so dropped into the Wholy Grain on Washington Street, close to Singer’s Corner.
First time there and was quite happy with the experience which started with a friendly welcome. Must admit..well not admit..very happy to say that this kind of welcome is the standard in the city and not just in the hospitality section.
Smiles all round therefore as we ordered out Americanos and scones, both on the large side. The well made scone came with butter and jam and proved very enjoyable with the good quality coffee.
The cafe is known for its home made healthy breads. It is right next door to Cafe Gusto so you have two fine cafes within yards of one another. Spoilt for choice.

Check out my review of The Wholy Grain - I am cork - on Qype



Finished off the Good Food Week Cork with a DIY pack. It wasn't widely advertised but On the Pig’s Back in the English Market were joining in the food fun with a €15.00 package of goodies, a nicely presented wrapped basket that included cheeses, salami and organic seeded bread.

Picked one up on Friday and am working my way through it, especially the bread and Milleens. Contents: Gubbeen Smokehouse Salami, Ardrahan Farmhouse Cheese, a dote of Milleens Farmhouse Cheese, and, from Dunmanway, a pack of organic wholegrain Emmental Cheese and Pumpkin Seed bread.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Karwig Wines in Cork

Karwig Wines Ltd do business in a peaceful rural setting near the satellite town of Carrigaline. Amazingly, they have some 800 wines on offer. Founder Joe Karwig says he tends to the Old World Wines himself: France, especially Italy, and Germany of course. “But I’m quite happy to drink some of the New World wines, such as the Pinot Noirs from New Zealand.”

We asked Joe if there is any new producer country on the horizon. “Well the Eastern European countries are old producers but suffered under Communist rules. That was bad for them. But new companies from the west are investing there, quite a lot of money is going in and a resurgence is expected.”

Joe himself had been working in the UK with a Germany exporting company in the UK and came over to Ireland in the mid seventies, doing his bit for the same company. At the end of 1978, he started out on his own working out of a Cork bonded warehouse on the City Docks where he was handicapped by restricted opening times, especially at weekends.

So he, and his wife Betty, took the gamble. It might not have been the best of times for a new business but Joe stuck with it and now his stock is spread over three warehouses, one in the city and another in North Cork plus the Carrigaline base, catering for restaurants, hotels, pubs, corporate companies and private customers. He has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

Joe is a Riesling fanatic: “It is the best white wine. I like the wines from the Nahe River where my favourite winemaker is Dönnhoff. Carl Ehrhard also makes excellent wines. We have a good selection here and indeed probably have the biggest selection of German wines in Ireland and we also have some from Austria which I also like.”

Karwig carry Rieslings from Germany, France, New Zealand and Australia. By the way, if you want to get to know German wines, here are three from Karwig that will provide you with an important first step: Burgerspital Wurzburg 2008 Silvaner Trocken (Franken region); Carl Ehrhard Rudesheimer, Berg Rottland, Riesling, Spätlese Trocken 2008 (Rheingau); Erbeldinger WeiSer Burgunder Spätlese, Trocken, Bechtheimer Hasensprung 2007 (Rheinhessen).

We asked Joe and marketing manager Maurice O’Mahony if rivals were emerging to Champagne’s position as the queen of sparkling wine. “People are that bit more price conscious at present but there are also fashions. Nowadays, quite a lot of Prosecco is sold – you couldn’t sell it ten years ago. It isn’t just about price. Some people do prefer to drink Prosecco as it has less acidity than champagne and has a richer taste.”
Maurice, who keeps Karwig in focus on his blog,on Twitter and via Facebook, told me that they will deliver anywhere in Ireland. “We do the local deliveries ourselves but use a courier for the rest of the country. We will deliver in the bigger cities in 24 hours but it could take twice that in the more rural places.”

Full details of the impressive Karwig operation are available on their website where you may also sign up to the blog and follow Maurice on Twitter and through their Facebook Fan Page.

Best of all, if you are in the area, call in and sample the relaxed friendly approach of this company. Don't be shy if you know nothing about wine. They’ll help you out and won't blind you with the science.

Maurice: “Every day, we open several bottles for customers to try out. We do our best to have a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere in our shop. We cater for the serious wine connoisseur, the casual wine drinker and everyone in between. We love talking about wine and we pride ourselves on our casual sales approach. We want your visit to be relaxed and enjoyable. And you get to go home with some lovely wine too! “

For more, here is the link to the related article that John Wilson of the Irish Times did on Wurzberg

Photos (from the top): Champagne corner, Maurice O'Mahony (left) and Joe Karwig, The Tasting Room and (bottom) soem of the 800 (old and new world) wines.

Check out my review of Karwig Wines - I am cork - on Qype

Bramley Lodge in Carrigtwohill

Bramley Lodge, a cafe cum country food store, opened about a year ago and has been attracting costumers galore since.
It is well situated, just off the main Cork-Waterford Road (N25) on the way in to Cobh, on your left just before you cross the first bridge (to Fota).
Location no doubt has something to do with it but it is also has a top class product. Called in there (about 12.30) yesterday for lunch and it was already filling up; indeed, the car park was full but there is more room on the road.
I choose the Fish Cakes, two big ones, enhanced with lime and sweet chilli. They were served with a decent salad and sweet chilli sauce. No shortage of fish in the cakes (salmon and cod). All in all, it was gorgeous and most of the other dishes on the menu also looked good and tempting.

So tempting in fact that, on teh way out,  I bought one of them from the fridge: dinner enough for two plus a bottle of wine for less than €15.00. Prices at the restaurant itself, which opens at 7.00 for breakfast, are also quite reasonable (the fish cakes came to under €12.00). Service is good, friendly and efficient, and there are two bright rooms, one a conservatory which looks out over the bridge and part of the estuary.

All in all, there is an emphasis on good quality local food and that is also seen in the shop where I also bought some goats cheese and Bramley’s own marmalade.

Bramley Lodge is proving extremely popular with visitors to the attractions on Fota (Wildlife Park, Fota House, Hotel and golf) and to Cobh (where you may enjoy the Heritage Centre, more golf, quayside walks, art galleries, Farmers Market on Friday, visiting liners and much more).

Check out my review of Bramley Lodge - I am cork - on Qype

Thursday, February 11, 2010



Sometimes we take things for granted, even the good things. You’re down town and there is a festival of some sort going on. You pick up a sausage on a stick and absentmindedly enjoy it as you watch a street act and later you think “Hey, that sausage was nice!”

And if that is what you think, then the chances are that sausage came from O’Flynn’s Gourmet range. Thankfully, you don't have to wait for a festival to enjoy one of their sausages. At their permanent stand in the English market, they have a range of some 30 varieties to choose from, quite a few prize-winners among them.

And they are reasonably priced. I picked up six for a fiver yesterday including Spicy Mediterranean, Garlic and Herb and Leek. Very very tasty and they can be used in so many ways – traditional Irish ways and European style, say in couscous or paella.

You don't even have to be in Cork to enjoy them. You can order online and they'll deliver anywhere in Ireland! Check it out at



Limerick’s Bridgestone Irish Food Guide entry Pandora Bell has a new twist for the good old Easter Egg as Nicole Dunphy goes back to basics, taking a real shell and filling it with Praline Chocolate. All you have to do is crack the shell, peel and enjoy!

And enjoy you will if past performance is anything to go by. The company hit speed from its launch in the second half of last year. They first came to my attention with their irresistible range of Honey Nougat and they also do Salted Butter Caramels and Handmade Lollipops.

Nicole puts their success down to the fact they use only the best ingredients and timeless traditional recipes. They certainly have turned the clock back with this one, right back to the real good old days!

See earlier reviews on this site

Pandora Bell products are stocked by independent retailers nationwide and are also available from

Wednesday, February 10, 2010



Back at the English Market today to sample the €15.00 plate and wine from the Farmgate Cafe as part of the Good Food week.

Spotted the Venison as one of the choices. Had tasted that at the official opening on Monday but quite a few had tasted it earlier today (I didn't make it until 2.00pm) and it was no longer available.

But the “disappointment” was short-lived. Ordered the alternative, the Ardsallagh Goats Cheese Salad and a decent glass of Sauvignon. The mild cheese, as many of you already know, is a splendid product (from Carrigtwohill) and came spread generously on three baguette slices.

The three white islands topped a most delicious salad. Baked tomatoes, toasted walnuts, beetroot pieces all mixed in with lively (as distinct from limp) leaves, with an edgy dressing that enhanced the whole plate.

Venison. What venison? (Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow!)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Apple Farm in Cahir

No shortage of wine as the Good Food Week opened in the English Market but it was a humbler liquid that provided me with one of the most memorable tastes of the event. And that was a glass of sparkling apple juice made by the Apple Farm in Cahir, Co. Tipperary. I have tasted some lovely apple products, mainly in Austria and Switzerland, but this is the champagne of the type and well worth seeking out.
The Apple Farm, warmly praised in the 2010 Bridgestone Irish Food Guide, has been in business for over a decade but the sparkler is a recent addition. Welcome it with open mouths!
The Farm is NO 127 on our photo while you’ll find Whelan Butchers (also Good Food Ireland member) at 124.

Get your Apple Farm products at:

  • Good Things Café, Durrus, West Cork

  • Well & Good Healthfood shop, Broderick St., Midleton, East Cork

  • Waterfall Farms, Waterfall, Cork

  • O'Keeffe's Shop, 3 Wellington Road, St. Lukes Cross, Cork City

  • Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, Co. Cork

  • Nash 19 Restaurant, 19 Princes St., Cork

  • Check out my review of The Apple Farm - I am cork - on Qype



    The English Market was the appropriate venue as the Good Food Ireland Cork Week was launched by the organisation’s MD and founder Margaret Jeffares last evening.

    Over 250 guests turned up and the venue was packed, no one turning down the invite to sample the delights of the south.

    Wine and other drinks, along with tempting bites, were available downstairs by the fountain but the main action was upstairs along the U shaped floor of the Farm Gate Cafe which had been divided into a number of stands.

    There was so much to taste - no wonder the queue moved slowly. But, with so many good things on offer, the humour was excellent.

    Started off on a high standard with Fishy Fishy from Kinsale and then, a blast from the past, a bite of pig’s cheek from Ballymaloe. Took the opportunity to have a quick word with Denis O’Mullane of Liberty Grill where the Lord Mayor Darragh Murphy and his wife Tanya also lingered.

    Mairead O’Brien, who had earlier introduced me to her boss Claire Nash of Nash 19, was at their stand as was their talented head chef Pamela. At that stage, my plate was getting packed but I still couldn't resist picking up a few other bits before moving downstairs to eat.

    Great to meet so many people involved in putting good things on our plates in their restaurants and via their shops and stalls. O’Keeffe’s of St Luke’s is a brilliant food shop and they were represented by Anne and Donal.

    And then there were producers with whom I hadn’t yet crossed paths. Frank Shinnick of the Fermoy Natural Cheese Company is one such and then there was a smiling twosome from the Apple Farm in Cahir whose sparkling apple juice was one of the highlights of the evening. We’ll be following those two producers in the future along with many more on the comprehensive list proved by Good Food Ireland.

    Well, that was Monday night and now we have the rest of the week to sample the €15.00 plateful and included glass of wine in the participating establishments! More info at

    Saturday, February 6, 2010


    Mairead O'Brien of Nash 19 has been in touch with their Good Food Ireland schedule for next week. 

    Their theme is meet the Producer and here's who'll be in the shop 

    Mon: Geraldine from Old Mill Bank SmokeHouse, Buttevant

    Tue : Nora from Inch House, Thurles and Benoit from Lorge Chocolate, Kenmare

    Wed: Pamela our Head Chef in Nash 19

    Thur: TJ from Crowes Farm, Dundrum and Brigitta from The Burren Smoke House, Lisdoonvarna 

    Fri: Steven from Classic Drinks and Mella from Mellas Fudge, Clonakilty



    The Continental is not a tapas bar but just last night I got a plateful of the best tapas ever in the Maylor Street restaurant – see the photo.

    Along with various sauces and relishes, you have skewered prawns (left), crispy bacon and duck, Serrano, a mushroom tart, a lentil burger, a tortilla (Spanish omelette) and, finally on the right, ham with whole plums.

    This was our starter (€16.95), a shared platter. It, the plate not necessarily the photo, fully illustrates what this fine establishment is capable of as the Tapas are samples of main dishes available here. We just loved it and could have had such a platter each as a main course.

    The main course too was delightful. We both went for the lemon sole (€21.90) served with caramelised carrots, the most gorgeous leeks and a well made mashed potato. The Continental supports local food producers and one could see and taste the freshness here. “Those fish were caught and bought this morning,” said Agnes Stawosz , our ever friendly hostess.

    Our wine came from Argentina, a Michel Torino Sauvignon Blanc. Crisp and dry, pale pale yellow, almost green, hints of grapefruit in the nose and also in the mouth, it comes from one of the highest vineyards in the world and it cost €23.95. Finished off with a couple of good coffees at €2.20 each.

    On previous enjoyable visits to this restaurant, we noticed that there were very few customers here. But there were encouraging signs last evening that the word is getting out as the place was about half full as we left. Hope this trend continues as there is very good food here at excellent prices.

    True we went for broke on the a la carte but you can have a two course dinner for just 19.90 and a three course for 24.95. Value also at lunch, when the place, like the street itself, tends to be busier; you can have soup, open sandwich with rustic potatoes and tea or coffee for just €9.95. Next time I ring to make a booking, I’d be delighted to be told that the place is full. We need restaurants such as this: good food, good cooking and good people.

    Agnes trained in Ballymaloe and her restaurant is currently rated number three out of 142 reviewed for Trip Advisor. So the word is getting out! Phone number: 021 4253900. Open for breakfast and lunch Tuesday to Saturday and for dinner Wed to Sat (from 6.00pm).

    Nash 19 Food Shop in Cork

    The early opening Nash 19 restaurant is closed by the late afternoon (5.00) but that doesn’t mean you can't enjoy the products of this amazing establishment afterhours. Go to their Food Shop (open 'til 6.00pm) and stock up on a readymade meal or two.

    I will certainly be doing that after my recent experience. Called in to take a browse and got great help from a smiling on the ball assistant who gave me a run down on the huge range of goodies in jars and tubs (a terrific tasting plum jam, up for sampling that morning, and pickled cucumbers among them ), also the homemade cakes and breads and the food for the freezer that I was interested in.

    Must admit though that my purchases, two cartons of Chicken Korma (5.50 each), never made it to the freezer. The temptation was too much and we used them the following night! It was absolutely top class. As I said, I’ll be back and heartily recommend the shop to anyone who wishes to dine at home and treat themselves.

    Each carton contained sufficient for one person. There was ample chicken and the other ingredients in this moderately spiced dish were Onion, Coconut Milk, Sugar, Yoghurt, Butter, Ginger, Tomatoes, Garlic, Green Saffron Korma Spices.
    Just lovely. Now for the Boeuf Bourguignon! And then.....

    Check out my review of Nash 19 Food Shop - I am cork - on Qype

    Friday, February 5, 2010


    Isabel Allende’s book Aphrodite has been described as “a marvellous concoction, for dipping into or for digesting in great chunks.” Cooking in the nude, The spell of aromas, With the tip of the tongue, are among the chapter headings. Is it a food book? Yes and more: food and love.

    The book, by one of my favourite South American novelists, was first published in 1998 and the edition I have, a Flamingo paperback, in 1999, so you may find it difficult to get your hands on it.

    One of the reviews in my edition, by Rosita Boland, sums it up well: Aphrodite is a magical cauldron of recipes and stories, written to make readers lick lips and each other. The Wall Street Journal said: A light-hearted blend of memories, recipes and research on aphrodisiacs, Aphrodite is a celebration of the senses.”

    Widower’s Figs, Salome Sauce, Madame Bovary, Caribbean Bomb and Venus Mousse are among the recipes which also include, in case you may need it later, a Reconciliation Soup.

    I have added a play, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, to this week’s list. Not much about food here but they do have a way (should that be a wee?) with porridge! Cork run at the Everyman ends on the 13th but then the production is off to Listowel, Athlone, Castlebar, Monaghan, Virginia, Ballybofey, Lisburn, Newtownabbey, Enniskillen, Sligo, Waterford and Dun Laoghaire

    Thursday, February 4, 2010


    Many thanks to Nora of Inch House for this recipe and picture

    Inch House Traditional Black Pudding topped with Gortnamona Goats Cheese on a bed of Caramelised Onion with Poppy Seeds & Drizzled with a Mixed Berry Compote.


    1 slice of Gortnamona Goats Cheese

    1 slice of Inch House Traditional Black Pudding

    1 Onion

    3 oz Water

    3 oz Sugar

    Poppy Seeds

    Sprig of Parsley

    Selection of Seasonal Berries Sweetened & Softened


    *Place onions & sugar in a Pot & slowly sweat them off, turning occasionally until soft. Continue to cook until Golden Brown. Add Poppy Seeds.

    *In a Separate Pot place berries & sugar over a gentle heat. Bring to the boil & cook for 3-5 minutes.

    *Pan Fry 1 Slice of Inch House Traditional Black Pudding on a very hot pan for 2 minutes each side. Place a slice of Gortnamona Goats Cheese on top of the Pudding & gratinate under the grill until Golden Brown.

    *Serve on a Bed of Caramelised onions and drizzle with the Berry Compote. Top it with a Sprig of Fresh Parsley.

    Wednesday, February 3, 2010

    Inch House in Thurles

    Disappointed with the generally salty black pudding available? Why not try something traditional.
    I had that in mind on a recent visit to the Nash 19 food shop and hit the jackpot with a cube of traditional pudding (€4.95) from Tipperary’s Inch House (in association with Crowe’s farm).
    The pudding does contain salt but not that you’d notice along with pinhead oatmeal and pearl rice. It has a really pleasant construction, feels and more importantly tastes good and indeed converted at least one previous black pudding hater of my acquaintance.
    It can of course form part of your traditional fry but my preferred plate, another old dish, is with good eggs (fried) and a well made mashed potato. Next on the agenda is the Trevor Thornton Chicken and Black pudding recipe available on the Bord Gas website

    Check out my review of Inch House - I am cork - on Qype

    John Martin' Honey from Dunmanway Co. Cork

    The Bee Knees
    I like the occasional jar of honey. Picked one up recently made by John Martin of Dunmanway.
    It has a very enjoyable caramel like taste and a modest pleasing aroma; it is clear and full bodied, with a thick consistency. It tastes great on its own (as a treat or maybe to ease a sore throat, any excuse really) but obviously may be used as a spread or drizzle. Someone has suggested using it on porridge, so we’ll try that.
    It doesn’t come cheap, costing well over a fiver for a 340gm jar and I bought mine at the Nash 19 Food Shop (attached to the well known restaurant in Prince’s Street)

    Check out my review of John Martin's Honey - I am cork - on Qype

    Tuesday, February 2, 2010

    Tribes Cafe in Cork

    As the mid-morning drizzle got thicker, I called into this cosy Tuckey Street cafe for a coffee. As I made myself comfortable and sipped my way through the strong hot cuppa (€2.50), I had a flick through the menu.

    They have what could well be a bargain dinner offer on at present. You can have starter or dessert, plus your main course (good choice), a small 18.75cl bottle of wine plus tea or coffee for just 20 euro.

    Could be worth a try if you are in town some evening and don't worry if it’s late. Tribes is open until 11.00pm Tue-Thu and Sun and until 4.00am Fri & Sat.

    Check out my review of Tribes Coffee Shop - I am cork - on Qype


    Read all about it at