Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cullen Wines at Cafe Paradiso

Cullen Wines at Cafe Paradiso

Ger (Paradiso) and Emma in great form.
Tuesday’s coming together of Cullen’s biodynamic wines from Australia’s Margaret River and the renowned quality cooking of Cafe Paradiso, looked, on paper, like a match made in food heaven. You won’t be surprised to learn that it lived up to that billing.

This multi-course meal, part of the Wine Geese series, was one highlight after another. I really lapped up the Baby Carrots with the buttermilk yoghurt and the roast kombu. And then another highlight: grilled asparagus with miso beurre blanc and nori gomasio, matched with the 2010 “Mangan Vineyard” Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc – Semillon.
Nettle-lemon sorbet.
The last of the whites was the superb 2010 “Kevin John” Margaret River Chardonnay and that went so well with the sublime Toonsbridge buffalo mozzarella with beetroot, pickled fennel, roast grapes and dukkah.

Emma Cullen, from the Western Australian vineyard family, was with us  and she was proud to say that the Kevin John, named after her grandfather, had sold out in the UK. It is a complex elegant wine which has spent nine months in new oak. If you hurry, you might get some (along with more of the Cullen wines in Bradley’s, North Main Street).
On then to the substantial and delicious Aubergine involtini with a pistachio-lemon salsa, potato and broad beans, paired with the 2010 Margaret River Red, “an incredibly popular wine”.

Chocolate and Cherries followed, enjoyed with the 2010 “Mangan Vineyard” Margaret River Merlot-Petit Verdot-Malbec. “This is a very interesting blend,” said Emma. “and has a bit of a cult following. Try it with roast duck, it is incredible! It has not seen oak. It was a terrific vintage and the fruit was so great, it didn’t need the oak!”
And we finished with that superb Crozier blue cheese (with celery and dates) and matched with the big red, the 2010 “Dian Madeline” Margaret Rover. Diana was Emma’s grandmother. This last wine also benefitted from the incredible vintage of that year. “It is very much a Bordelaise style, the cream of the crop.”
Cullen Wines, now in its 42nd year is, since 2004, certified A Grade Biodynamic by the BFA of Australia. “Put simply, biodynamic viticulture is a philosophy combining the maintenance of sustainable soil fertility and the recognition of the link between plant growth and the rhythms of the cosmos. It is a method of farming that treats the vineyard as a living system, which interacts with the environment to build a healthy living soil that helps to nourish the vines and general environment.”
Emma is a big fan. “The results have been incredible. All bug related problems are gone. We have better water retention. The quality of the fruit is absolutely flawless...and there is an extra life and vibrancy in the wine”.
If you’d like to read more of the fascinating details, including the famous cow horns filled with cow manure and planted in the fields, then go direct to the Cullen website here 
Cullen Wines are distributed in Ireland by Liberty Wines

So a big big thanks to Emma, to Gerry Gunnigan of Liberty, to Ger and to all the staff (especially to chef Mark) at Paradiso for a stunning mix of excellent food and top class wine.

Food and Drink Spotting

Food and Drink Spotting


The Long Table
Cloughjordan House, in association with Glenisk, The Gathering and Tipperary Food Producers, are holding a Long table dinner on Saturday the 29th June at 7.30 to celebrate authentic Irish food with a chance (for those who wish) to partake in the afternoon in the preparation for the evening long table banquet in the Cookery School of Cloughjordan house on Friday and Saturday.

A night with a difference with a chance to enjoy the fruits of your labours at the Long Table style that allows the chance to meet new people: gents be prepared to be moved 2 seats along after each course.

Listen to the delectable Susannah de Wrixon sing some of the old classics from the 60s and 70s relaxing in the gardens around the famous Cloughjordan House patio heaters: (old wheelbarrows filled with wood fires)
Enjoy the art exhibition in the Ballroom of two renowned local artists Jenny Fox  and Siobhan Leonard.  

Doneraile Farmers' Market
With the newest addition of doll house designs Ireland we are really opening up our market to some wonderful high end crafts which includes Irish Oak and Rope and the fabulous locally grown plants and herbs of Little Acre certainly brighten up the Sunday atmosphere. Add to that a range of IRISH products made in local Kitchens ( yes they are all HSE approved)
Throw in The courtyard tea rooms for that spot of light lunch and producers who are not only proud of their products but are constantly honing their skills and you have a really different Farmers Market set in the truly lovely Doneraile Park with beautiful walks, a play ground and wild life. Can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday. Come join us and see for yourself. Next market June 2nd 11 am - 3pm


Treyvaud's
Today is the start of a huge week for me. This Thursday is an absolute honour for me to have been asked to do a reading from my book, The Hooker in the Lobby, at The Listowel Writers week and then on Saturday, I'll be sitting on the couch with Brendan O'Connor on The Saturday Night Show. This has all happened because of all the interaction that YOU GUYS have had with us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube over the last few years. I owe you all big time!!!!

To celebrate me being on with Brendan O'Connor this Saturday, I am running a 'Pre Saturday Night Show Special'. Our Early Bird menu offers 2 or 3 courses for €25 & €29, but for this one night only, I am going to include a FREE bottle of House Wine per couple too. You just have to be in and ordered before 6.30pm. If you decide to eat off our A La Carte Dinner Menu, then I will take 10% off your food bill & throw in the wine. It means you can be fed and wined and back home with the feet up to watch Treyvaud in action. If you want to come in as a bigger table, it's still one bottle of House wine free per two people!!! (ie, table of 6 gets 3 free bottles!!!)
This is a limited availability and its first come first served!! Call us on 064 66 33062 and make sure to quote the 'Pre Saturday Night Show Special' when making your booking!!! (if you are not in and ordered before 6.30, it doesn't count. No matter who you are!!!)
L'Atitude 51
For the second year in a row L’Atitude 51 will be welcoming all participants in the Cork City Marathon and their supporters for some free canapés and pizza from 11 am till 3 pm on Monday 3rd June.

Avail of our Special Offer running (excuse the pun ;-) on Saturday and Monday:

- a glass of our house white or red wine with a platter of 3 cheeses or 3 charcuterie for €10.50 from 12 to 4 pm
- Coffee or tea and a brioche or croissant (with jam and butter) for €3.50 from opening time...

We will open early to accommodate supporters and runners. Remember we are right next to the City Hall, so come and say hello when you pick up your registration pack or after the race on Monday.

We hope you all are ready for the BIG DAY and we wish you a great race and obviously the perfect weather!!!

Blas Awards 2013
Friday is the early bird deadline for the Blas na hEireann, Irish Food Awards 2013

These National Irish Food Awards celebrate and reward the very best tasting Irish food and drink products, and the passionate, driven producers who make it.   This year we are offering entrants an opportunity to avail of the same rate as 2012, €35 per entry if entered before 31st of May. Any entries received after this date and up until 15th July will be at a charge of € http://www.irishfoodawards.com/news.asp?id=542

Via Facebook Ballinacurra House
Ballinacurra House Kinsale – Open House Wedding Fair & Cookery Demonstration

Ballinacurra House Kinsale, won the best “Exclusive Wedding Venue of Year Award”, in the annual Weddings Online Awards 2013 – and to mark the occasion, will be holding an Open House Wedding Fair on Sat & Sun June 8 & 9. 

The Open Days will introduce the culinary talents of newly appointed Award Winning Head Chef David Rice – who will also present Cookery Demonstrations at 1pm & 3pm Daily
David worked as a senior chef at Dublin’s Michelin star restaurant Chapter One and also won Best Chef in Limerick at the Restaurant Association of Ireland awards 2010.

Shorts

Spread the word: Sunday Market in Kilcrohane 11am to 1pm taking place weekly until September fb.me/2762xoEJH

Santiago coffee sale plus  Winners of World Barista Championship 2013 http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=ef2c98e288df1ed0703c12070&id=0ae9d8cb8b&e=5793c285b5

Seafood & Shanty Ballycotton
If you were wondering what to do before and after the Seafood & Shanty Ballycotton activities check out this website for more details of what Ballycotton has to offer!

http://ballycotton.ie/home.html

2013 Food champions sought, nominations open Tuesday 4 June, and must be received on or before noon on Friday 14 June bit.ly/12bXYRM

Flemings Restaurant
It is time to book your Summer BBQ with colleagues from work - Give us a call to discuss the menus that suit you! 021 482 1621...Our Terrace Awaits!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The ever popular Farmgate

The Farmgate

The Farmgate, the ever popular Cork restaurant, so well situated in the English Market, was the venue for lunch last Friday. A splendid venue and a splendid lunch!

Patrons were queuing to get in – order and sit in the balcony on right, sit and order in the dining room to the left – but no problem to Rebecca and Mirco and the other staff as they calmly directed customers to their seats and their meals to the tables.

The food is sourced locally. And so too is much of the drink. You can, of course, buy wines (European only) by the glass, carafe and bottle (at a good price) but nowadays you also have the opportunity of sipping a local beer such as 8 Degrees or Dungarvan. On the day, I went for a cider, a very nice one too by Longueville House (in Mallow).

The starter also came from North Cork: the Old Millbank Organic Smoked Salmon (always excellent) with a mixed leaf salad and dill crème fraiche. Before that we had been nibbling some gorgeous breads.

On then to the mains. My pick here was the Savoury Tart of the Day: Mushrooms with Crozier Blue (the sheep’s cheese by the same people that make Cashel Blue), served with salad leaves, potato salad, butter beans, and jacket potatoes. Quite a plateful, full of quality ingredients, all for €12.50.


The other mains, Catch of the Day, was also delicious. This was the Grilled Plaice with tomato salsa, gratin potatoes and a gorgeous side dish of cabbage and peas (Gorgeous? Yes!).  This pair of happy campers skipped the dessert but did enjoy two excellent coffees.


So what is it about the Farmgate, still drawing in lines of customers? I think this paragraph from their website is key to the success: Farmgate Café only uses beef, lamb, chicken, eggs and vegetables produced in Ireland. We place great value on the high quality production systems of our trusted suppliers. We also support organic production where possible. We work closely therefore, with Market traders and local producers to bring tasty, affordable and nourishing food to the table.

And there is more, encouraging stuff, on their policy here 



Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Amuse Bouche

Another first-class passenger, George A. Kessler – a legendary wine merchant from New York- carried with him $2 million in stocks. In 1902, according to author Kolleen M. Guy in When Champagne Became French, Kessler, “Moet and Chandon’s agent in the United States, created an enormous stir in both the American and European press when he managed to substitute a bottle of his firm’s champagne for a bottle of German sparkling wine at the highly publicized launching of the German emperor’s new yacht, the Meteor, in New York.” Thus began the tradition of christening ships with champagne. Four years later, “with touching concern for human suffering,” he donated an entire boxcar of champagne to those affected by the San Francisco earthquake.

From the Day the World was Shocked by John Prostasio.  (The Lusitania disaster and its influence on the course of World War 1.)

Food from the Wood

Woodland Walk and a Little Foraging
 A walk in the woods will never again have quite the same meaning after Saturday’s outing to Marlogue (near Cobh). It started off innocently enough, just the two of us and the dog and, maybe, an eye for Wild Garlic. But it ended up being a long day, though with very pleasant meal at its end.

Marlogue is unusual (a bit like Curraghbinny) in that you get some of Cork Harbour along with the walks through the trees. No sign of the elusive garlic though as we got into it. Then we walked off the main path and followed one down to the shore.
To see more pics from Marlogue
click here

A couple were paddling their canoes along the shallows and a forager was bent in concentration near the water’s edge. We went in his direction and exchanged a few words and he confirmed that he was collecting periwinkles, gathering them with his gloved hand into a five litre container. He must have been out all morning as, a few hundred yards up the beach, we saw his net sack loaded with the periwinkles, must have been ten kilo or more in it.


Didn’t expect to find any garlic on the shore but did come across a whole line of Sea Spinach or Beet (see photo below) growing strongly where the stones and pebbles met the area of grass and weeds that edged the wood.

Resumed the walk in the woods then but no joy, especially where the conifers grew as there was virtually nothing growing under them. Higher up the slopes, on the way back to the car park, where deciduous trees dominated, there was more by way of undergrowth and a few false alarms!
So, when I spotted some more white flowers somewhat off the track, I wasn't that keen but decided to make the check. This time my luck was in, though the Garlic hardly covered a square yard. Still plenty there for our purpose which was to make the pesto detailed in Wild Food, a recent book by Biddy White Lennon and Evan Doyle.

Back home, there was foraging of a different type to be done. A run to the local Supervalu and Aldi failed to find the pine nuts required but a slightly longer spin to Dunne’s in Ballyvolane was successful. On the way, a decision was made to also make the Wild Garlic, Leek and Potato Bake. The only snag was the book was at home – still the memory worked fairly well. We had all the ingredients and were ready for action.

All worked out well. The Pesto, one “with attitude” as the authors say, is excellent but the Bake, more like a Gratin really, is a really splendid dish and used in Doyle’s restaurant The Strawberry Tree. We used it with some John Dory. The book suggests using it with the “Sunday roast chicken, or as the first touch of spring to the last of the winter spuds or a great TV snack, when you have the munchies...”
Hey Pesto!

 The book is a 2013 publication and on sale. Check out O'Brien Press or if you forage in your local bookshop, you’re likely to find a copy. Then off to the woods with you!

To see more pics from this "trek", please click here
The Wild Garlic Bake, essentially layers of potato, leek and wild garlic.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Brendan is back with Gallo & Galetti

Gallo & Galetti

Brendan Cashman, Cork’s award winning chef, is back in business. His new venture is in Wilton and is an Italian restaurant called Gallo & Galetti. It is on the main road, opposite the Cork University Hospital, between the Shopping Centre and the Topaz.


The first thing that struck me on last week’s visit was the big team available to service the customers. And it seems a well drilled team as service was friendly and efficient.

I started off with the Finocchhio and Arancia Salad (Shaved fennel and orange salad with extra virgin olive oil and rocket). A lovely light starter. CL’s Antipasto was also delicious: Semi-dried tomatoes and roast marinated sweet red peppers. Hers cost €3.50 while mine came to €7.50.


Quite a few pizzas and pastas to choose from as you’d expect and these are also available on the lunch menu. My pick was the Penne all’arrabbiata & Pollo (Sautéed chicken with roast garlic, tomato, chilli basil and cream). Chicken was plentiful (the spice was moderate) and good value at €14.00.

Had seen somewhere that this was known as the “angry sauce”, so I went checking, at least as far as Wikipedia, and here I was informed: Arrabbiata sauce, or sugo all'arrabbiata in Italian, is a spicy sauce for pasta made from garlic, tomatoes, and red chilli peppers cooked in olive oil. "Arrabbiata" literally means "angry" in Italian, and the name of the sauce is due to the heat of the chilli peppers.

Meat and fish dishes feature more strongly in the evening menu and CL’s pick was the Pan Roast Chicken and Tuscan ratatouille (16.95). No translation problems here. Just a simple dish yet a superb one.


Not too many desserts listed but all were tempting, even the smaller ones such as the Affogato and the Coffee and chocolate truffles. But no small one for me! Just had to try the Tiramisu. Not too sure which of the many recipes was used here – Brendan himself was off duty on the night – but it was a sweet square of sinfulness with a good input of coffee.


Speaking of coffee, we did finish off with a couple of cups. Green Bean is the supplier here and the coffee was excellent. So too was the wine: an organic Chardonnay from Spanish producer Senorio de Ayud (€20.00 a bottle).  We knew it would be good as we had enjoyed it a few weeks back at the Douglas Tea Rooms.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Midleton Farmers Market

Midleton Farmers Market
Midleton Farmers Market is on tomorrow morning, as it is on every Saturday morning. You'll find it very close to Supervalu.

There are dozens of stalls to choose from. Ahern's Organic Farm is based just outside Midleton and is run by the Ahern family. They produce chicken, beef and lamb. Olly and Sean O'Driscoll are brothers who work hard to bring the very freshest fish from West Cork to you every Saturday morning. Locally grown seasonal vegetables, flowers, plants and apple juice are available from Ballycurraginny Farm. There are many more. See the full list here and drop in for a chat and something tasty and good.

I was there last week and, among other things, helped myself to Frank Hederman's smoked fish (top left), Woodside Farm Free Range eggs (not forgetting rashers and sausages), the fabulous Medieval Loaf from Arbutus Breads, the Buffalo Cheese from Toonsbridge Dairy and also said hello to breadmaker Declan Ryan. Always time for a chat at the markets.

Tea Rooms, Farmers Market at Doneraile Court

Tea Rooms, Farmers Market at Doneraile Court
Tea Rooms in the old kitchen, open daily, and a Farmer’s Market (on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month) are among the recent attractions added to Doneraile Court. The old pile itself, just off the main street in Doneraile, is surrounded by hundreds of acres of parkland where you have a great selection of walks, including some that take you past herds of deer and by the banks and bridges of the River Awbeg. And, believe it or not, entrance is free.

This set of bells, in the Tea Rooms, was used to attract the attention of the servants.

Gents become Lords
but ladies still Ladies!



There is plenty of parking by the children’s playground and here too you will see some information panels that you should consult before going for a walk, as I didn’t see any leaflets or info at the house itself. The Court itself and the tea rooms are a short stroll away though the beautiful parkland and trees.

Doneraile Court above and below where you can see
some outdoor seating for the Tea Rooms


Called in there the other day for a sandwich. This was filled with real ham, cut from the bone, and was a bargain at four euro. A toasted sandwich, packed with chicken and served with a salad, came to €4.50. But there is quite a menu here. Soups, sandwiches and curries and also breakfast dishes and a specials board for during the day. You can even order some items to take away. Lots of picnic tables scattered around the park also.

After lunch, we had a great walk around the the grounds (though not all of the 166 hectares!). Some terrific specimen trees standing on their own (deliberately so) in the landscape and also some pleasing water features and then we got very close to one of the deer herds.


After that it was a pleasant drive home to the city via Castletownroche (pity that Annes Grove is closed), Killavullen (where we saw a huge bank of wild garlic in flower at the side of the wooded road), by the Blackwater river for a while and then via the Nagle Mountains to a sunlit Glenville before arriving in Ballyvolane. Try it sometime!


Wild garlic near Killavullen.



Thursday, May 23, 2013

Food and Drink Spotting


Food and Drink Spotting
Darina Allen stepping it out at Ballycotton!
Seafood and Song in Ballycotton
All the Ballycotton businesses have teamed up together to offer a June Bank Holiday weekend of seafood, shanty, free family entertainment and the famous Ballycotton craic to all.

“Come and see everything Ballycotton has to offer this June Bank Holiday weekend. Officially opening with a Seafood demonstration on the pier by Darina Allen on 3pm Saturday, the aim of this weekend is to promote Ballycotton and have fun as we do!

This is the first time all our local businesses have pulled together and pooled their resources to offer a weekend of FREE family entertainment… on Saturday on the pier there will be arts and crafts, puppet shows, decorating cookies, make your own pottery, fish and wine tasting, face painting, cookery demonstrations, treasure hunt, singing contest and much more and on Sunday in the village more of the same and more!

Come and enjoy the local talent as they try to win the ‘Freedom of Ballycotton’ much sought after prize with their Shanty singing!

Boat trips from the pier will also be available at a reasonable price and DJ Mossie from The Blackbird will be at the end of the pier encouraging children young and old to shanty for your seafood!

See the website at http://www.ballycottonshantyandseafood.com/  and keep up with our FB updates for more information.”

10 Euro for a family - no matter how big the family!!!!!) Puppet shows, decorate your own cookie, make your own pottery, arts and crafts, free ice cream for kids in fancy dress etc - all free and no admission charge. Families are struggling and we want to show Ballycotton at its best.

Sherry Baby at L’Atitude 51!

“At L'Atitude 51, we're pretty passionate about all things wine-related, so we're uber-excited to be taking part in World Sherry Day!!!!

We've got a number of fantastic sherries lined up for the weekend for you to try - from dry and zesty fino's to nutty oloroso's and the much-talked-about en-rama (unfiltered) manzanilla's.

We'll be going a little Spanish for the weekend and serving up some delicious Spanish Tapas to match.

Join us from 24th - 26th May as we pay homage to this much misunderstood drink.

PS Tell all your Spanish friends!

Duchess Tea Rooms

“My favourite tea to drink on a lovely hot day like today is Peppermint very refreshing and versatile, so why not try making your own Peppermint iced tea.

1 cup fresh mint leaves, washed
3-4 green tea bags (use organic/natural)
Ice
Honey or agave, fresh lavender leaves (optional)

Preparation:
Place mint leaves in a large glass or BPA-free plastic pitcher. Crush gently with clean hands. Add tea bags, and pour hot water over top, leaving a few inches of room. Cover and refrigerate for 4-6 hours. Remove tea bags; serve over ice. Add honey or agave to sweeten and a few fresh lavender leaves, if you have them on hand.

New Summer Beer Exclusively available from Market Lane & The Castle Cafe

“We are delighted to have agreed with The White Gypsy Brewery that they will tailor-make a seasonal beer to go with a dish from our summer menus being served in The Castle Café and Market Lane.
Our first summer beer will be a Weissbier and will exclusively be available in Munster from these two locations. The dish that we are matching to is a Pan-fried monkfish with spinach mash, smoked bacon lardons, roast parsnips and a honey lemon jus.

This beer will be available until the autumn when the next seasonal beer and its matching dish will be revealed and served. Lots of people will match existing dishes with wine and beer, but there are very few restaurants who have the opportunity to do such a specific and exclusive match with the chef working so closely with the brewer. We’re delighted to strengthen our association with White Gypsy who also produce our in-house stout, Angel Stout.

Follow us on Twitter or see our Facebook pages for more news and updates.”

www.marketlane.ie www.castlecafe.ie www.elbowlane.ie

Shorts

Only a month to go to our next Wine Society Event on June 20th!Delighted to be showcasing New Zealand's most awarded winemaker Villa Maria,

Potted, pickled & cured - grilled fennel sausage, local ricotta, giardiniera, olive bread. http://www.foodspotting.com/reviews/3578206


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Youghal welcome for renovated Walter Raleigh

Youghal welcome for renovated Walter Raleigh
Fish Cake & Roulade
“Great to have it back. It’s good for the town!”, was the general reaction to the reopening of the renovated Walter Raleigh Hotel earlier this year. The hotel was a regular stop for passersby in the good old days and the new owners are hoping that their version will “appeal equally to locals and visitors alike”.

The hotel may not yet be going at full steam as renovations are still going on but the taste of things to come was on view in the Bar Restaurant when I called in last week. And, based on local fish and beef, it is a very encouraging taste indeed.

Started off with a Fish Cake, served with a Salmon and Prawn Roulade, a mixed baby leave salad, cucumber and organic yoghurt. Hadn’t been expecting much more than the fish cake - the roulade was a bonus - and it was real pleasure to see it delivered to the table and even more of a pleasure to polish it off.

The Five Spice Calamari (Vodka and Tonic battered calamari with chilli, garlic and red onion and a house made lemon and basil mayo) was the other starter on the table. Maybe not as spectacular as the other one but again well cooked and well presented.

This was a very encouraging start and the high standard continued with the main dishes. My pick was 21 days aged 10 ounce rib-eye, served with a stack of crispy onion rings, Portobello mushroom, hand cut chips and a pepper sauce. This, supplied by Twomey Butchers in the town, was superb, cooked as requested and so well presented. The pepper sauce came in its own jug (I like sauces served like that as you can  use as much or as little as you like) and a bowl of their obviously hand cut chips.

Aside from the regular dishes, they also have a Special list each day. The Fish Cake came from that as did the other main dish that we enjoyed: the superb Pan Fried Hake served with a delicious seafood and sweet pea risotto. And the surprise here was a little bowl of fresh mussels on the side.
Silken teabag!

After those two courses there was little room for dessert so I settled for tea. Amazing how the choice of teas and coffees has improved in recent years and the Walter Raleigh won’t let you down in that regard. I choose a green tea, the Yunnan by Java Republic with its “unique silken teabag” that I hadn’t seen before. Nice cuppa!

The renovated bar is comfortable and looks very well and the service was friendly and efficient. Worth a call!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Kildorrery International Food Fair

Kildorrery International Food Fair


Spotted this Facebook post from Caroline Hennessy (Bibliocook) yesterday morning and decided to head up to Kildorrery to check it out.
"Food from Latvia, Japan, Lithuania, Korea - and some samples of Irish beer from @8degreesbrewing! The Kildorrery International Food Festival at 2pm today.
Some of the delights on offer for your enjoyment at this year's Kildorrery International Food Fair on Sunday May 19th:

Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy
Cream of Barley Soup (original Titanic recipe, goes down very well) served with Trudy’s soda bread
Chicken and vegetable stew (Japanese chikuzen style)
Dakjjim (Korean marinated chicken stew with noodles)
Latvian Pork and Bean Stew
Lithuanian Grated Potato Dumplings and Flat Potato Cake
Brisket and Poha (beef and kale)
Yam and Egg Stew
Beans and Dodo (fried Plantain)."

The Fair was held in the local schoolhouse with ample parking across the way in the GAA Grounds. There was a fiver charge for admission and for that you were supplied with a bowl and a fork/spoon and a wristband that entitled you to get into the main room and eat all you could get.

The place was packed with most of the punters willing to try out the exotic as well as the local food on offer. By the time, my round was finished, I was delighted to see a cup of tea (or coffee) on offer in an adjacent room and I enjoyed that very much along with a bun (all for just two euro).


Hard to take pics in such a crowded situation but managed a few.


Oriental touch
Matcha Green tea cakes

Delicious: Chicken and vegetable stew (Japanese chikuzen style)
Fried ribbon cookies
Brisket and Poha (beef and kale)

Not much left! The African rice was very popular
The food on the right is banana.
Local  beers with a growing international reputation!

Little Beauty Comes Home

Little Beauty Comes Home
Bringing Gold
Maurice O'Mahony of Wine Alliance introduces
Little Beauty's Fleur McCree.
Little Beauty’s Fleur McCree says demand is high for her 600 cases of limited edition Riesling. She even sells it into Germany and has had a recent query from Japan where the grape is "all the rage with the young affluent Japanese woman”. It will be all the rage in other places too with yesterday’s news that her 2010 from Marlborough has won the New Zealand Regional Award (for Riesling selling at under fifteen pounds sterling) in the Decanter World Wine Awards!

The wine, made from less than 2 hectares of vines, is a “refreshing lemon lime” and “deliberately made dry”. It is the drink anytime wine, the “lager of wine” according to Fleur who loves it with roast pork.

The second wine at last week’s tasting in L’Atitude 51, who supplied some really tasty bites for each wine, was the Pinot Gris, again from less than two hectares of vines. “Pinot Gris loves the stones, the water, and the sun.” It just takes off in these conditions and that can, in the wrong hands, lead to quantity over quality.

So it has to be reined in. Bunches are removed. Must be done by hand as machines can’t decide which bunches to discard. “Concentration in Pinot Gris means quality” and it is “the most pampered variety in the vineyard”. Here you have lip smacking flavour, oily, yet drier than the Riesling. Don’t over chill it and use with nuts, pork crab and so on.

Sauvignon Blanc is perhaps the typical Marlborough wine. Little Beauty’s 2010 is, I think, a little bit more restrained than the usual Marlborough and the better for it. The different blocks around the vineyard ripen at different times yet the intense fruit is preserved and there is “a build-up of layers of flavour to enhance the experience. Mango, Passion fruit at the start followed by Citrusy flavours mid-palate and then basil at the back of the tongue”. Really top notch.

The Gold medal news was the first surprise at the well attended tasting. You can’t taste gold medals but we could taste the second surprise: the Black Beauty Edition of Sauvignon Blanc. Only 200 cases were produced from a few selected rows and this was a world first for Ireland. “...quick harvested...and then put into small old barriques (French), barriques that are ten to twenty years old...no stainless steel is used..fermentation is in the barrel...no cultured yeast...just the local wild yeast”.

And that intensive management pays off. “It is a beautiful fruit wine..lots of texture..creamier...richer...use with pork chops and garlic.”

“Hello, you exotic Little Beauty”, was Fleur’s greeting to the next wine, the Gewurztraminer, as she sniffed the Turkish Delight on the nose. This comes from two different one hectare plots, from two different clones of a variety that is “lazy in the vineyard”.

Its sweet fruitiness is balanced by “a clear acidity”. “It is a food wine, very versatile.” She advised us to try it with Cheeses, Foie Gras, Terrines, spicy crab and fragrant curries.

Now it was time for the final wine, Pinot Noir, the only red in the Little Beauty team. The Marlborough sun will not ripen the likes of Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz and so Pinot Noir is the most common red variety in the area.

This, hand harvested from between six and seven hectares, has a short spell in stainless steel before aging for 12 months in oak. It is a terrific example of the variety. “Complex but in a friendly way! Soft silky and a hint of tannins. Enjoy, definitely, with Pan-fried duck breasts.”

Just another Little Beauty in a beautiful wine tasting in L’Atitude’s superbly appointed upstairs room, made for just such an occasion. May there be many more of them. 

Little Beauty wines are imported by Wine Alliance. It is widely available around the country so check out the stockists here.

Wine Geese events

Tuesday May 28th, Cafe Paradiso: Presentation & Tasting with winemaker Emma Cullen of Cullen Wines, Margaret River, Australia in Café Paradiso in association with Liberty Wines.

July 11th, Crawford Art Gallery: “A Bordeaux Evening in Cork” with Pierre Lawton, Bordeaux and Ted Murphy, author of “A Kingdom of Wine – a Celebration of Ireland’s Wine Geese”.

 (Part Two)


Little Beauty Comes Home

 (Part One)

In 1825, thirty year old John Cox welcomed his new son William into the world in Passage West, Co. Cork. William, who married in 1846, was one of the first Europeans to settle in New Zealand and died there in 1899.

William was the great, great great grandfather of Fleur McCree, co-owner of Marlborough winery Little Beauty, who was back in town last Thursday evening, her tutored wine-tasting, in Union Quay’s L’Atitude 51, part of the current Wine Geese Series.

“Marlborough is the home of Little Beauty and a very important place for me,” she said. “There we have 2,500 hours of sunshine annually and clear skies. If you go to New Zealand be sure to have your sunglasses with you when you land in Auckland, it is so bright.”

Marlborough is into farming both on land and on sea and has “a huge reputation for such a little place”. But its grape history is a very short one. The first were planted in 1972 and the hopeful farmer was told he “was bonkers”.

Fleur, who had always had a terrific affinity with nature (sleeping as a child on her trampoline under those bright bright stars),decided in the late 90s to get into wine – for keeps!

The apprenticeship took quite a while. Scouting trips to Alsace, Burgundy, the Douro, Napa Valley and Mendoza (among other places) yielded valuable knowledge before she and her partner decided to settle back home. But then they spent years in London, working to raise capital before eventually starting up in Marlborough where they now farm 41 hectares of vines, which is a tiny area, considering that there are 33,000 hectares under production in New Zealand.

They first planted in 2002/3 and then of course they had to wait for their first harvest. But two years later they were in for a big shock when a severe frost wiped out blocks of their Sauvignon Blanc. And two years later again, a once in a sixty year flood caused major damage again. Tears then but only for a brief period. “Then I realised we were essentially farmers. This was what we had to deal with.” And deal with it they did. It is not an easy life ”but rewarding”.

Labour is scare here and machines are necessary (though not used in all areas, Pinot Gris and Noir are hand harvested for example). The versatile tractor is put to good use. To preserve the freshness and flavours, they have to use the machines to make the harvest “really quick”.

Perhaps one of the most ingenious machines is what looks like a windmill and nine of these are scattered around the vineyard and used to prevent the blanket of frost settling. While New Zealand enjoys long hours of sunshine, the day’s highs (maybe late twenties) can be followed by very cold nights. But the blades on these machines oscillate and rotate and succeed in fighting off the frost.

A state of the art technology network across the site captures real time data variables from Mother Nature and, among other things, helps dictate when the wind machines (and which wind machine) comes into play. The use of stainless steel, copied from the thriving local dairy industry, is widespread, though oak barriques are also used in Little Beauty.

The fledging Little Beauty earned its early keep by selling its Sauvignon grapes to Cloudy Bay. The cash helped them develop the vineyard and then they got a huge boost when Eveline Fraser, then head wine-maker with Cloudy Bay, decided to join the rookies!

You’ve often heard of the passionate vineyard owner. Last Thursday night we saw one in action in L’Atitude. “I’m very fussy over where Little Beauty goes. Come hell or high water, you’ll never find Little Beauty in a supermarket. It goes only to good homes. Integrity is very important nowadays. A wine made with integrity or an accountant’s wine. Which would you prefer?”

I reckon William Cox would have been proud of his great great great grand daughter!

Fleur also had a couple of real surprises for us during the tasting and I’ll have that and more on the Little Beauty wines themselves in Part Two tomorrow.