Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Fenn's Quay terrace pictured Oct 1986; the book shop on extreme right is now the restaurant.

A truly great dining experience. That's how Matt of Curious Wines, our guest blogger, described a recent visit to the city centre restaurant....

With the surprise arrival of my girlfriend into Curious Wines  on Saturday afternoon after a 4 hour drive from Armagh (she must love me), I decided a night out in Cork City was required. I called Fenns Quay restaurant to book a table for two. We needed a food and wine fix fast, and boy we got it. 

I had confidence in this choice of restaurant because of the recommendations from previous clientèle and I knew Kevin at Fenns Quay is a passionate man for his wine. Too many restaurateurs can't see anything past profit margins on a wine list, so it's great to see someone making a name for themselves through their wine offering as well as their food.

I ordered a Clonakilty black pudding starters and Bronagh opted for mushroom-pastry-type dish. We were in a mood for a red meat main course, so I got Slaney Valley lamb chump and Bronagh went for the char-grilled 10oz sirloin steak. Both were cooked to perfection. Rare, not blue, but rare. I find when you ask for medium-rare in Ireland, you more than often get medium. Ask for rare on the continent, and you'll get blue.

Everything was excellently presented, the seasoning and flavours were balanced, and the atmosphere was relaxed. The wine list certainly didn't disappoint either, a good selection offering the usual suspects (Italian Pinot Grigio, Aussie Shiraz) as well as a number of wines that you won't see everywhere, including an Austrian Grüner Veltliner and an Italian Grillo.

I needed something edging on big and bold for the main course, so my mind was made up (with the help of Kevin) by the Doña Paula Argentian Malbec. I understand we received one of the very last bottles. The back label would lead you to expect red fruit on the nose, and this might have been the case when young, but this '07 was showing darker fruits on the nose (dark cherry, blackberry) and even a little licorice. The palate was beautifully rounded, medium-full bodied with melt-in-your month tannins and another good whack of blackberry. It just added that extra 20-30% to the whole experience.

Obviously the standard of the food is the most important thing when eating out, but the experience as a whole can be diminished by a poor value wine list. I recently went to a very popular Cork restaurant and the food was excellent but the wine disappointing. I believe Kevin and his team delivered excellent value on both fronts, as well as very attentive and friendly service. Cork has a brilliant culinary scene, but if you're around the city any time soon, don't miss out on a truly great dining experience at Fenns Quay.

Check out Paul Kiernan's take on Fenns Quay. See also earlier reviews of Fenn's Quay here
Don't forget to visit Matt and Mike and Julian at http://www.curiouswines.ie/

Monday, August 30, 2010


Bought a lot of stuff in jars on a recent visit to East Cork and must say now, a few weeks after, that I’m quite happy with the loot.

Perhaps the real star was Darina Allen’s Ripe Tomato Chutney, bought at the Garden Shop in Ballymaloe. Absolutely brilliant as a dip or with pates, cold meals, cheese, foie gras (if you’re lucky enough to have it) and so on and quite reasonable at €4.20 for 340gms.

Another Ballymaloe product also hit the mark. That was the Ballymaloe Seville orange marmalade (Medium Cut). An excellent spread, again at a reasonable price of €3.29 per 340 grams.

While in the Ballymaloe Shop (this one alongside the house – the Garden Shop is by the Cookery School), we also bought a Plum Jam, €3.50 for 340gm. This as handmade by Helen Gee, a Good Food Ireland member from Abbeyleix. Again this was a splendid product, so different to an anonymous paste (billed as Plum jam) that we bought recently from one of the big chains.

Now the Village Greengrocer in Castlemartyr has many good things on the shelves there, including a pot of homemade Blackcurrant Jam. Absolutely gorgeous, as it should be this time of year. The small jar though didn't have a weight mark on it. It was probably about the 220gm mark and I thought the price €2.75 was rather expensive.

Picture: Ballymaloe House

Sunday, August 29, 2010

CAFE GUSTO at Lapps Quay

(Lapps Quay)

Enjoyed the coffee, the blueberry muffin, the small boats bobbin', the ladies knitting, the talent kids strutting and the views at sunny Lapps Quay on the weekend.

Was on the Heritage Day trail around town and decided to take a break and it is hard to find a better place than this waterfront cafe. Not just for the coffee and service, always top class, but also for the ambiance of the area.

Something going on here, almost always. On Saturday, the ladies were knitting for a cancer charity and the kids were limbering up while queuing for a national TV talent show. The sun was out and the riverside views were pleasant.

Picture looking down on Cafe Gusto (top left) from top of Clarion Hotel.

Friday, August 27, 2010



A couple of weeks back, we told you how you could arrive on foot, by car, by train, even by boat at the Quays Bar and Restaurant

And the probability of yet another mode of arrival drew closer today when a small sea-plane arrived in Cork Harbour and taxied to the pontoon of the popular Cobh Restaurant.

Read all about it at Sea Plane Service
The sea-plane docks at the Quays pontoon close to the cruise liner Albatross.


Restaurant & Bar Scene in Cork
via Twitter & Facebook

Augustine's Restaurant Augustine's Restaurant was recently nominated for BEST RESTAURANT IN MUNSTER by Food & Wine Magazine! Come, see and taste for yourself - Book Now on 021.4279375

Greenes Restaurant Cork Check out the Evening Echo’s promotion next week. Free Starter (Up to €12) or Dessert with your main course from a la carte menu (excl Specials). It runs from Mon-Wed 6-8 September incl. We are one of the many restaurants running with this promotion. Enjoy.

Dine in Cork Hi Everybody, Okay to date the following restaurants have replied -> Prime at Clancy’s, The Cornstore, Eco Douglas, Fenn's Quay, Greenes, Isaacs, Mint, O’Connor’s Seafood Restaurant & The Rising Tide. We will be putting up the menus asap.

Bordbia Consumers more likely to see foods as useful in preventing health problems than in treating them - interesting read!http://bit.ly/d4DE6W

Hayfield Manor Hotel Hayfield Manor has been nominated for 3 Hotel and Catering Review Gold Medal Awards! We have been chosen finalists in Five Star Hotels, Bistros & Brasseries and Customer Service. Awards are announced on September 20th & best of luck to everyone nominated.

Nautilus restaurant From next week on, we will only be opened from Wednesday to Sunday.

GoodFoodIreland Good Food Ireland members participating in Bord Bia National Organic Wk, 13-19 Sept, tastings etc, for more info http://bit.ly/cURWJj

Cafe Paradiso Denis will be returning to the Tannery Cookery School in Dungarvan on Saturday September 11th to teach a full day course. The menu for the day - and it really is a menu as you get to eat everything as well as seeing it made - will be a mix of seasonal Cafe Paradiso classics and recipes from Denis' forthcoming book, due to be published...

SlowFoodIreland Book Harvest Festival Slow Food Tours now onwww.slowfoodireland.com.

libertygrill We would love u to visit the fantastic @glucksman - Bring one of our receipts & get 10% off in the gallery shop

ipalacecork Check out our sea food new dishes sea food platter, seared shark and lemon rice, prawns and mussels handi etc etc. Worth a try

safefoodnetwork @Bordbia we have leaflet to help parents plan healthy lunch boxes that may be handyhttp://tinyurl.com/37o3y9n

We search the net, via Twitter and Facebook, each Thursday evening and early Friday morning, for the latest from the Cork restaurant and bar scene. If you don't have either of the above, reach us at cork.billy@gmail.com. Deadline 10.00am Friday.

Thursday, August 26, 2010



What value at Market Lane this evening. 

By chance, I choose a starter and main course that were on the €20.00 early bird. Starter was Pork and Liver Paté with pickled red cabbage followed by Slow cooked Ham Hock with Savoy Cabbage, Sautéed potatoes and Cauliflower cheese. From three desserts, I choose the Chocolate Pot to go with my included coffee. Of course, it wouldn't have been value at all had the food not been up to scratch. But it was just scrumptious.

My non-financially challenged other half went a la carte and started with the Olives at €2.95. Most starters, by the way, cost about €7.50. It was a massive bowl of Olives and we shared both olives and pate. Her mains was a Tempura of Monk fish with lemon and herb potato cake with a tomato, olive and saffron ragout €18.95. She a very happy overall, even though she thought the ragout was a bit too strong for the fish.

The place was busy, busy. People were being turned away before seven bells struck, not a seat to be had. Busy or not, the standards were high. Service, with a smile and a chat, was top class all through.

Oh, nearly forgot the wine. We had a 50 cl carafe of the house white: St Marthe Sauvignon Blanc, with decent flavour, body and length and excellent value at €12.00.
021 427 4710



Thought the day of the corner shop was gone. Apparently not. Indeed, Margaretta’s Corner Shop at the Brewery End of the Old Youghal Road is a relatively new venture. It is small but pretty well stocked and doing well enough, according to the two ladies I met there today.

Unfortunately (sounds wrong), I just had one big note on me today and there wasn't enough change in the till. I was putting my purchase back but was told to take it anyhow – for nothing! Hard to believe such generosity in these hard times. But I put it back anyhow. I wasn't that thirsty and was on the way home. Thanks girls!

Check out my review of MARGARETTA’S CORNER SHOP - I am cork - on Qype




They have been making wine in Australia’s Clare Valley since the 1840s and the story, which has strong Irish connections, comes to Cork, to Blackrock Castle to be exact, on Tuesday week. Indeed, the valley was named by Edward Gleeson (known as the King of Clare) who left Sixmilebridge (Co. Clare) in 1850.

Tim Adams, owner and wine-maker of Tim Adams Wines, will be your guide to the valley at the Blackrock Castle event. Tim will present and show not only his own wines but those of five other producers:  O'Leary Walker, Wakefield, Mt Horrocks, Knappstein and Jim Barry. Nibbles will also be available at the tasting.

Nestled within the South Australian bush land, the vineyards of the Clare Valley are some of Australia's finest. Perfumed Riesling, delicate Semillon, aromatic Shiraz and elegant Cabernet Sauvignon are some of the highlights of this region.  

And you can meet them all at the Castle on Tuesday September 7th at 6.45pm (‘til 8.30pm). Tickets available from Wine Australia Ireland (details below).

Event info & tickets (€20.00)
John McDonnell
Manager, Wine Australia Ireland
Ballyvaughan, Co Clare
Tel. 00 353 65 7077 264
M. 00 353 87 2673 693

Tuesday, August 24, 2010



Made an unscheduled coffee stop at the Riverview Cafe in Fitzgerald’s Park this morning. Just a handful of people there about the 10.45am mark, thought there might have been more.

A cup of coffee and a croissant cost me €5.00 and I took it to an outside table in the sun. An inquisitive robin (photo) perched alongside and stayed a few minutes, eventually declining the few crumbs I’d placed in his direction.
Coffee and croissant were fine and the break enjoyable. 

This cafe by the way is open seven days a week and quite central to the attractions in the area.
Tel: 021 427 95 73

Monday, August 23, 2010



Once in Tuscany, a wine and olive  oil producer told us the best way to make olive oil is to immediately cold press the just picked grapes. On his place, it was done in the cool of the night as the Olive Press (pictured) was too hot during the day, which it was. I tried it and you could hardly stand there for a minute.

He was scathing about the big companies who dragged in olives from all over the Med and were still able to claim that 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.

We got some of his oil, packed in a special tin for travelling. But it didn't last forever and then you have to go out and buy here.

Choose the oil as you do wine.

That’s the advice from Saveur Magazine in a recent article on Olive Oil, which also lists some interesting figures on Italy production and consumption and exports.

Took them at their word and set up a tasting. Managed to mount a line-up of four at short notice.

One: an Italian, from Karwig Wines in Carrigaline; Farnese Oilo Extra Vergine di Oliva, organic, from the town of Casoli, in the province of Chieti (CH) in the Abruzzo region of Italy. I think this was about 11 euro for 500ml.

Two: a Greek Spray-on Job from KTMAX. Surprised? Me too. But they do have a foodie rack in the shop. This was Odysea Extra Virgin Olive Oil, approved by the vegetarian society. Reduced to €5.99 for 250ml.

Three: A purchase from Aldi. Under their Evoo brand, it is an Extra Virgin but no indication as to country of origin. Three or four euro for 750ml.

Four: A very recent buy from the Ballymaloe Shop (by the house).  This was Emile Noël’s organic Extra Virgin from Noël’s in Pont Saint Esprit in France. Cost €9.20 for 500ml.

It was close at the finish but I gave my casting vote to the Farnese with the French one a whisker behind. The Spray-on was a distant third while the Aldi was an even more distant and best forgotten revolting fourth.

I’m talking here about Olive oil for salads and breads and so on as ordinary Olive Oil will do for cooking in most cases.

To see the Saveur article go to http://bit.ly/9LCbuO
In 1951, Pont Saint Esprit was the scene of a mass poisoning, heavy stuff.  For that weird almost sci-fi story go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pont-Saint-Esprit

Sunday, August 22, 2010



These barbeque days just last and last, fingers crossed!

Here’s my favourite dessert when out in the garden.

Put your bananas on the grill and allow them to almost blacken (about 15 minutes on ordinary charcoal).

When bananas close to ready, get your bowls and lay down some ice-cream. When bananas ready, slit them quickly, remove skins, and lay flesh on the ice-cream. Now, add in a table spoon or two, and one for the cook, of a nut liquor. And eat quickly.

No nut liquor? Then try Kirsch or a dark rum. But, if you do get the chance to get yourself some nut liquor, do so as it definitely gives the best results. Believe this veteran. I’ve been doing this for 17 years, since I first visited the Dordogne and bought myself a bottle of Sarlanoix.

The Butcher's Block in Cork


The Butcher’s Block has some nine shops nationwide and two in Cork, one in Douglas, the other, which I visited over the weekend, in the Blackpool Shopping Centre.

On the lookout for BBQ stuff and stocked up on the pork chops (five for a fiver) and the fat butcher’s sausages (six for 3 euro). Good value, good service (friendly, chatty) and, most important of all, the meat got the thumbs up in the back-garden.

Now what more would you want? How about some Bandol Rosé. Even the wasps agreed.

021 4932576

Check out my review of The Butcher's Block - I am cork - on Qype

Friday, August 20, 2010


Restaurant & Bar Scene in Cork
via Twitter & Facebook

No.5 Fenns Quay Restaurant new menu hit the right notes tonight (Thursday) great to be back up and running !!

Nautilus restaurant We have some organic sea trout and delicious scallops for specials this week :)

RaisingReds Redhead Convention August 21 Saturday in Cork, Ireland, in Crosshaven at Cronin’s Pub and Crosshaven Farmer’s Market from 11am to 10pm.

CuriousWines  Last opportunity to have your wine delivered for the weekend http://bit.ly/cz83ab (order before 3pm today for Friday delivery)

SoHo Bar & Restaurant Oh the weather outside is weather.... Ah Well, come in to SoHo for a cocktail, and forget about the weather. How about a 3 course meal for only €25?? Check out the Early week menu in the reastaurant!!

SlowFoodIreland Download an application for the Waterford Harvest Festival Artisan Food Producers' Award atwww.slowfoodireland.com

westcorkhotel posted 5 photos on Facebook in the album "Sunday's Dessert Buffet" http://fb.me/AmsWJpaK

Bibliocook Gregg's (Wallace) Favourite Puddings by @puddingface is a greatest hits of the pudding world. Open any page and dip into...http://fb.me/DYP5nbhn

Bordbia Something quick, tasty & wholesome for this evening folks http://bit.ly/donwfw

Catavino For Sherry fans - harvest 2010 is underway in a few places http://bit.ly/cPqGff  according to @mroconnell some might be a bit retarded! http://bit.ly/bkRrsV

Greenes Restaurant Cork Check out our Christmas menus on our website. Book groups of 10 or more before September 15th & get a pressie from Santa!!  www.greenesrestaurant.com

donalskehan Feasting on wild foods in Sweden! http://t.co/r5g8nJx

We search the net, via Twitter and Facebook, each Thursday evening and early Friday morning, for the latest from the Cork restaurant and bar scene. If you don't have either of the above, reach us at cork.billy@gmail.com. Deadline 10.00am Friday.

Thursday, August 19, 2010



I need someone to educate me on honey. Why should I pay €6.95 for 340gm of the sweet stuff when I can get 454gms of it for €1.99?

I admit, the comparisons aren't exactly like with like. The dearer one, Deise Honey, is made on a farm in Co. Waterford.

The cheaper one was bought in Aldi and had the Irish tricolour marked on it and was called Kilcrea Gold. So, I thought it was Irish made, especially when I saw the County Cork address on the jar. There is a drawing of Kilcrea Abbey (Ovens) on the jar and the address is Cooleen Foods, Co.Cork.

The obvious difference, before tasting, was that the Kilcrea was much darker. On tasting, the difference, to me anyhow, is not that much though I would definitely prefer the Waterford product but at €6.95 it the most expensive I’ve come across in the last year or so.

Now, one other thing, rather annoying, about the Aldi jar. As I say, it had all the looks of a local product but, on closer inspection, I read, under the tricolour (where you normally expect to see “produced in Ireland”)  “packed in Ireland” and the product is a blend of EC and non EC honeys.

That, of course, doesn't rule out Irish honey and of course it is no crime if it is not. In addition to its well known Irish Organic range, Mileeven Honey in Kilkenny market a “ range of honeys from around the world”.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010



Cafe Gusto is more than just a cafe, more than just two cafes as it is found in both Washington Street and Lapps Quay.

What makes it different is its attitude, easily seen in its tweets and Facebook pages. “We are the glass half full type of people.” I like that in these recessionary times.

The post Celtic Tiger era has led to a whole load of gloom but you won't see that at Gusto or its sister restaurant the Liberty Grill (also in Washington Street), both of which by the way serve top class food and drink.

I was strolling up there the other day and called into Gusto for a cup of their excellent coffee and who should I meet, for the first time, but Marianne, my twitter mate.

And what was she doing? Helping out a visitor to the city. Marianne and partner Denis do this as a matter of course.

Speaking of twitter – Tuesday is tweet day at Gusto in Lapps Quay where the twitterati meet up and enjoy free wi-fi, battery charging and the second cup of coffee among friends free. Not bad.

Denis recently said to me that we have a great product in the city and county, lots to see and do “but it can be hard to find them if you are plonked down in the middle of it”.

And that’s where the friendly attitude of Denis and Marianne and their staff come in. They go out of their way to make visitors welcome and Gusto has a rack of informative booklets available.

They also use the internet to help out and are always willing to plug events that liven up the local scene as you’ll have seen with their efforts on the Lee Swim and Paddy Games to mention just two.

Obviously Denis and Marianne are not the only two in town with this pro-active attitude. But we need more of them. After all, the more we pull together, the further we will go.

And the payoff? Well, have a look at this from a globe trekking LA foodwriter


The competition for the Great Taste hamper drew loads of entries from all over the country and the winner is:

Gerry McCarthy
from Co. Offaly

A hamper of teas and coffees from Robert Roberts, a long standing Irish company who, as all of you indicated in your answers, won 12 stars at the recent Great Taste Awards in London, is on its way to Gerry.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Enjoyed one of their famous Sexy Lunches at An Crúibín during the week. Enjoyed also meeting the guys behind the venture, Paul and Frank.
The menu was being chalked on the blackboard as I came in and, aside from the odd Spanish flourish, the words looked plain enough. Deceptively so. I choose the Spiced Carrot Soup and the Smoked Mackerel with New Potatoes.
The soup, as they say in this neck of the woods, had eating and drinking in it. It was bright orangey with a swirl of cream in the middle. The eating? Well, sunken circles of carrots and crunchy bits of other veg and just enough spice to warm you up. Just brilliant! Took a lingering look and then, as Frank, having a bowl himself, suggested, gave it a lash!
Well if the soup was Van Gogh, my mains was Miro. A bit dull maybe on the left where the potatoes and generous circle of mackerel was placed, the bright reds and yellows exploding in the salad to my right. Colours aside, this was really tasty and certainly filled the gap.
They had five or six other promising main courses (eg Hegarty’s Cheddar and Tomatoes) and all were priced between €7.50 and €8.50. Good value to be had here in the shadow of the City Hall.
One of my aims in going out to eat is to try something you don't normally do at home. This place doesn't disappoint on that score. Different class, as another Corkman is fond of saying.
You will see many words used to describe this pub and its Silk Purse Restaurant upstairs: funky, cool, edgy, surreal. I prefer the words they use themselves: low-key, relaxed.

1 Union Quay, Cork City, Ireland
+ 353 (0) 21 431 0071
Picture above from AN CRÚIBÍN

Check out my review of AN CRÚIBÍN - I am cork - on Qype

Friday, August 13, 2010


Restaurant & Bar Scene in Cork
via Twitter & Facebook

Well done to Nash19Cork  - one of the finalists in the Food and Wine Magazine Award 2010, Good Cooking Catagory.

No. 5 Fenns Quay Restaurant the renovations are going really well the floors are being laid and we hope to back up and running by the middle of next week !!

Nautilus restaurant Various dishes, tempting pics

Glanmire’s cafebeva  for the rest of the week, we are selling the excellent TASTE A MEMORY READY MEALS @€4.00.

@florencehivert EmmanuelDelmas RT 73 portraits of winemakers (vignerons)...http://0z.fr/YxAnS http://fb.me/ECA54YcO

See the In Season Evening Specials for August at Liberty Grill

FreckledPast I'm sharing my 'Made from Scratch' recipe for Barbecue-style Sauce with Slow-cooked Beef Brisket http://bit.ly/bukGce

bordbia | New season potatoes as featured on RTE news. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVeYfo1fHwk

Food Safety Authority of Ireland Latest list of food premises that have been served with a Closure Order: http://short.ie/io855f

The Seaview Cafe & Market Seaview Market back today from 10am until 3pm.

Snapper Ger Mac’s video of English Market http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qy9cvGiRCVg

DailySpud  Hint, it involves potatoes... RT @kickpleat: Let me introduce to you my new best friend: http://bit.ly/byhOuH 

rachelallen1 Hello everyone. I'll be doing a cookery demo in Singapore this Saturday at the Singapore Food Festival. If you...http://fb.me/F2xQn2pw

An Cruinin and Silk Purse.  See their OPENING HOURS FOR AUGUST http://themeatcentre.com/wordpress/?p=755

The Future? Robot Chefs - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0GKIQdpscg

SlowFoodWCork RT @SlowFoodIreland: First national meeting of Slow Food members in Ireland. Saturday 11th September in Waterford

Curious Wines: Ireland's Online Wine Store Indian Summer Chillin': September contest, just posted on the Curious Wines blog. Super snazzy picnic wine cooler up for grabs, only for Facebook followers

We search the net, via Twitter and Facebook, each Thursday evening and early Friday morning, for the latest from the Cork restaurant and bar scene. If you don't have either of the above, reach us at cork.billy@gmail.com. Deadline 10.00am Friday.