Friday, March 30, 2018

Amuse Bouche


Create a new user. If only it were that easy in the real world.
In the real world, all the students at Björke School have to eat breaded fish. It should be good, but the breading was so disgusting that they figure the lunch ladies made it especially to torture them, so it was called “Punishment Fish” by everybody.
In the real world, Karro had come back to school. “Have you made yourself extra disgusting today or did I just forget how ugly you are?” Karro sneers ….while they stand in the lunch line.

from Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lövestam (English translation 2017). Very Highly Recommended.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Best of the Wild Atlantic in Quinlan’s Seafood Bar Killarney


Best of the Wild Atlantic in
 Quinlan’s Seafood Bar Killarney

Got a lovely welcome and a lovely lunch as well when we stepped into the bright and airy Quinlan’s Seafood Bar on High Street Killarney on a recent wet Thursday. It was quite busy, but the one or two bottlenecks were dealt with capably by the friendly front of house lady, working calmly on her own.


We got a seat by the window that looks out on to the street in this long narrow restaurant that also does takeaway. A banquette, at right angles to the street, provides much of the seating up the long side and opposite that you have the counter for service and takeaway. By the way, there is no wine or beer licence here but you’ll get plenty of water, teas, coffees and soft drinks.

Soon we were studying the menu. We needed no more than the main course so skipped, a little reluctantly, the promising Valentia Chowder. No shortage of fish and chips here - they are famous for them. You have quite a choice of fish: Whiting, Plaice, Haddock, Cod and Hake. No shortage of sides either: chips, onion rings, garden salad, mushy peas.

CL had heard only good things about their own smoked salmon for which the family has won quite a few awards and she picked the Open Sandwich. Here the salmon is served on brown bread and comes with a straightforward salad and lemon wedge, all for €11.95. The amount of “smoking” is nicely judged and the flavour of the salmon itself is not diminished but rather enhanced by its engagement with Irish oak. A lovely dish indeed. And do watch out for that smoked salmon at the Quinlan's fish shops.

Most of the fish here comes from the nearby Atlantic coast, much of it caught by Quinlan’s own boats. They have been at it since 1963 and export fish “all over the world”.  They have had fish shops in Killorglin and Caherciveen since the late 1980s and added two in Tralee and Killarney in 2009, with the Tralee shop winning National Seafood Specialist of the Year in 2011. Now, with the fish-bars, it is out of the blue and straight to you from people who know what they are doing.

Now back to my lunch. I could have had Portmagee Crab Claws, Dingle Bay Wild Squid, Homemade Fish Cakes, an Open Shrimp Sandwich but, in the end, couldn't resist the Deep Water Atlantic Prawns (14.95) in a light tempura batter. Chips were an option but I choose the salad. The Prawns were magnificent. Indeed, there was so much looking across the table at the other’s dish that we swapped plates half-way through, both of us very happy with this very tasty lunch.


Quinlan’s Seafood Bar,  (opposite Quills Woollen Market). 
77 High Street, Killarney, Co. Kerry
Tel: 064 662 0666
Opening Hours:
Monday   -  Sunday  12pm - 9pm
Summer Hours may vary.
Quinlan's Seafood bars also in Tralee, Killorglin, Kenmare and Cork City.

See also
Celtic Whiskey Bar and Larder
Visiting Killarney's Big Houses
Dine and Stay at The Brehon Hotel Killarney
The Yew Tree at The Muckross Park Hotel
36 Hours in Killarney, inc Killarney Brewing

Six Reasons to put Sligo on your Food and Drink list for 2018

Sligo. On the Food Trail

Sligo. October 2017

Lough Gill Brewery
Strandhill Food Festival
Sligo Cafés


Embassy Steakhouse
Rugantino

The Swagman


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Braupakt Hefeweissbier. A Flavoursome Duet with Weihenstephaner and Sierra Nevada.


Weihenstephaner Braupakt Hefeweissbier 6% abv, 35 IBU, 50cl bottle at Bradley’s of Cork*.

Those behind this collaboration between Weihenstephaner (the world’s oldest brewery, 1040) and Sierra Nevada (of much more recent vintage, 1979) have noted a trend away from ultra-bitter beers towards a more aromatic hoppy offering. Scott Jennings, head brewmaster at Sierra Nevada and Weihenstephan’s head brewmaster, Tobias Zollo, have produced this “perfect match” between the revered German hops and the newer American ones.

The name has nothing to do with the cool bear (I first thought it was a St Bernard!) on the front label. Braupakt (literally translated; Brewery Pact) merges “old world” purity standards and brewing methodologies with “new world” innovation and hop flavours. The collaborators say the name also plays on America’s “bro pact”.

This naturally cloudy amber Hefeweizen has a lasting foamy head. Peach, apricot and citrus on the nose, hints of clove too. The pleasant mix of aromas continue in the mouth, banana touches here too and a refreshing grapefruit from the American hops plus sweetish notes from the caramel malt. The beer is balanced and has a moderate tartness that melds into a harmonious mouthfeel on the finish. Very drinkable indeed.

They recommended pairing this wheat beer with exotic and spicy-hot fish, meat and seafood dishes.
The hops used are Hallertauer Tradition, Amarillo and Chinook. Hallertauer, often spelt without the final “r”, has a long history in German lagers. Malts: wheat malt, light and dark barley malt, caramel malt.

An interesting note on Sierra Nevada. When the brewery was founded in 1979 it was the 42nd in the USA. Today, there are close to five and a half thousand. Just shows how far craft beer has come in a relatively short time. Speaking of “short time” this is a limited edition! Well worth a try.

More Weihenstephaner stockists here




Three Well Recommended Wines from South America

Three Well Recommended from South America

Altos Las Hormigas Valle de Uco Mendoza Argentina Malbec Terroir 2015, 13.5%, €25.99 Wine Online

The ants (Las Hormigas) love newly planted vines. But the owners didn't want to poison them, after all the ants were the original inhabitants; they lived with the nuisance and then found that the ants had no interest in the vines once they began to grow. (Source: Wines of South America by Evan Goldstein.)

The fruit for this one hundred per cent Malbec comes from the Valle de Uco, an area known for its fine fruit and floral bouquets. It can age for up to five years. Fifty per cent is aged in cement piletas (pools) for 12 months, 25% in stainless steel vats and 25% in untoasted large oak foudres.

Colour is a mid to deep ruby and there are aromas of plum and cherry. So smooth, fresh and spicy too, the perfect introduction. And so it progresses harmoniously across the palate, the lively acidity playing its part, all the way through to the long finalé. This is a marvellous Malbec, from producers well known for their Malbec, and is Very Highly Recommended.

Montes Alpha Malbec Valle de Colchagua (DO) 2013, 14.5%, €22.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s Wine Online

This wine comes from the Colchagua Valley in the centre of Chile. The Montes vines are irrigated under a Sustainable Dry Farming regime that has led to a 65% decrease in their water footprint.

It has a dark ruby robe, the legs slow to clear. The aromatic nose gives ripe dark fruits, toasty notes, hints of vanilla too. Palate is quite complex and intense, plums now prominent in the flavours, sweet notes too, though more or less well balanced. From a dry and sunny terroir, with outstanding fruit and aromas, this is a great example of Malbec from Chile and Very Highly Recommended.

According to the Wines of South America, Montes (founded in 1988) is credited for its pioneering work in the Colchagua’s Apalta district, the first to realise its potential as one of the best locations for red wines in Chile and “is among the most important wineries in Chile today”. As a further endorsement, their Alpha “M” (very limited production) is listed as one of the top 20 South American wines to drink before you die.

Amalaya Blanco de Corte, Valle Calchagui Argentina 2017, 12.5%, €17.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s CorkWine Online


Amalaya make only blends and this is a mix of Torrontés (85%) and Riesling (15%). In Salta’s high dessert, Amalaya vineyards begin a mile above sea level and are well known for Torrontés and Malbec. The journey up “is not for the faint-hearted” according to Wines of South America, who recommend Amalaya as a top producer in the area.

Colour is a mid-straw yellow. White fruits feature in the moderately intense aromas. Beautiful fresh flavours, grapefruit and citrus, on the silky smooth palate, the crisp acidity provides balance. Fruit stays to the finish where mineral notes are much in evidence. Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Taste of the Week. Claire’s Homemade Seville Marmalade


Taste of the Week
Claire’s Homemade Seville Marmalade


This is going to be short as I have very little information on Claire Trihy, the producer of our Taste of the Week, an outstanding Seville Orange Marmalade.

I was in Mahon Farmers Market the week before last and realised I was running out of marmalade when I saw this pot on a stand - can't even remember which stand! 

But I bought it straightaway. When I opened it up a few days later and tried it on some Arbutus sourdough, I just had to stop and savour the magnificent tangy flavour - lots of peel in here! It is one of the very best Seville marmalades I've ever come across and just had to make it Taste of the Week!

The small label attached to the jar gives the ingredients and little else. The address though is there: Whitfield, Butlerstown, Waterford. Might be easier to find the marmalade in Mahon next Thursday.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Eight Degrees Can Three Of Their Range


Eight Degrees Can Three Of Their Range


Eight Degrees are the latest brewery to can their beers. The Mitchelstown based firm launched three cans this March, two with established favourites and one with a newcomer. Very colourful cans they are too, joining a myriad of other colourful cans on the shelves. Canfusion for me but luckily Michael Creedon in Bradley’s always knows where the one you want is situated.

Brewery co-owner Scott Baigent said: “We've definitely seen an increased demand for cans in recent times and, despite our ongoing love for the 330ml bottle, are releasing three of our beers in 440ml cans.”

Neon Velvet Kiwifruit and Lime infused FPA, 5.0% abv, 39 IBUs

This is the newcomer, a limited edition beer, and only available in cans or on draught. This cloudy beer  is a golden colour. Aromas are bright hoppy. Very pleasant smooth intro. Infused with kiwi and lime and more flavour from the Citrus and Amarillo hops, all before a dry hopping with New Zealand hops Pacific Jade and Motueka. A lovely fruity ale, “hazy, silky and fruity” as they say themselves and with a dry finish.

Lots of food pairing suggestions on the Eight Degrees site but the one I fancy is: “a chunk of good Irish farmhouse cheddar will play off the fruit flavours in both elements of the pairing”.

Citra Single Hop IPA, 5.7% abv, 62 IBUs
Tropical fruit aromas and flavours on display from the get-go here with this pale orange coloured beer. Hoppy notes too in the aromas. The Citra hop holds up well on this solo run, its tropical flavours scoring all the way through, the malt also playing its part in quite a flavoursome drop indeed, fruity and juicy and a good finish as well.

Think I'd like to try that with the suggested “grilled spicy fresh Gubbeen chorizo sausages”.

Full Irish Single Malt IPA 6.0%, 65 IBUs
This excellent beer is well known at this stage, having gathered award after award following its 2014 launch. They describe this as “a hop bomb” and so it is but the bitterness in this pale gold drink is rounded. No shortage of hops in the aromas with citrus and floral notes in there too. Local barley is the malt hero here but the hops (Ahtanum, Centennial, Citra, Amarillo) share the limelight as this clean tasting well-balanced IPA makes its journey across the palate before you enjoy that rounded bitterness at the finalé. Quite a few food suggestions again; I’m inclined to go for the smoked duck, especially if it's Ummera.

So there you go. An excellent way to pass an evening watching Champions League on the telly. Just as well, Barca stopped at three against Chelsea!

Stockists: Eight Degrees beers are widely available in Ireland. Also in Italy, France and the Benelux countries. See stockists hereI got my three (for a tenner) at Bradley's Cork. 


Sunday, March 25, 2018

Mathews & McCan Take A Walk on the Wine Side


Mathews & McCan Take A Walk on the Wine Side
Mary and Kevin Parsons with Café Paradiso's Ger O'Toole (right)

Colm McCan talked the talk and walked the walk as he guided a group of Munster Wine & Dine members around the wine history of Cork City last Saturday. The meeting point was St Peter’s Church in the ancient heart of the city and as we sipped the first of our wines, the Elgin Ridge 282 Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa, Colm filled us in on the huge appetite for wine that our ancestors, especially our mayors, including one called Richard Wine (1273), had for wine. Don't think though that they'd have enjoyed the delicious Ardsallagh Ash Pyramid Goats Cheese that we sampled with the first wine.

Marian Smith, from Ballyjamesduff, is co-owner of Elgin Ridge and all the wines that we’d taste at the various stops would have an Irish connection, the Irish loosely interpreted in some cases! 
Did we lose someone?

Hugh Lawton
Next stop was almost next door at Bradley’s where Michael proudly showed us the amazing gate (really a map in metal of the old city) that his brother mounted on one of many old lanes off North Main Street. Many of the lanes are gone or are blocked up but their names can be seen on plaques built into the pavement. Woodford Bourne is a name linked with the wine trade so it was appropriate that we'd make a stop there.

Then it was on to the Crawford Art Gallery. The older part of this building was once the Custom House and ships, often with wine onboard, would dock here in Emmet Place, now a busy square, and the captains would go in to pay their duty.

In the gallery itself, we stopped in front of the large portrait of Hugh Lawton, mayor of Cork in 1776 and a direct ancestor of Pierre Lawton, the influential Bordeaux based negociant. In a cabinet we saw Penrose glassware. Cork glass pre-dated Waterford crystal and was made from 1783 onwards. 
HM are the missing letters!

The city also produced some of the earliest wine writers, including the famous Maurice Healy. As we moved to our next stop, we passed the GPO which stands on what once was Lawton’s Quay. You can guess what cargoes came in here!

Kevin Parsons has spent a lifetime in wine and he (and his wife Mary) was a guest on the walk and came up with some good stories. In Jacques, as we warmed up with a delicious tagine and a wine (Zouina’s Volubilia Rouge, made in Morocco by a French company with an Irish connection), Kevin told us about famous winemakers he had done business with, including the Mahoneys of the Napa Valley, John Horgan of Western Australia, even the then nascent Nyetimber of England. He is well known for his posters of the Wine Geese and used one of a few mounted in Jacques to illustrate. You may check those posters whenever you’re in the Oliver Plunket Street venue.

Kevin and the rest of us were looking forward to our next arranged halt, at the Old Bond. We did get into the area. Lots of keys available but those to the old vaults couldn’t be found and we had to make do with looking at the exterior, perhaps for the final time, as there are plans afoot to develop this point of land, the final point at the eastern end of the island city. Kevin had been a daily visitor here for decades.
Jules (pic Colm McCan)

So back to the warmth of the top wine venue in Cork, L’Atitude 51. Beverley had been with us all day, helping Colm with the commentaries, and now she was our host, greeting us with a glass of 1701 Franciacorta. The Irish connection here is Rhona Cullinane, a Clonakilty lady who works with this family owned vineyard between Lake Garda and Verona.

Wexford man Pat Neville was described as one of “modern day wine geese” as we sipped his Domaine Aonghusa Bentouly 2014. All the while, there were contributions of mainly Irish interest coming from Colm, Beverley and Kevin.

And then it was time for the finalé: Le Cèdre Malbec vintage 2012. And very nice too, its sweetness a lovely match with the chocolate covered figs from the L’Atitude kitchen. 
And who better to tell us about the wine than Jules, the son of the vignerons, who just happens to be doing work experience at L’Atitude. “It is a Vin doux naturel, raised by organic methods, with an abv of 16%.” When it comes to wine, Mathews and McCan always find an Irish connection! Salut. Cheers. Slainte. 

The old (1724) custom house, now part of the Crawford Gallery







Friday, March 23, 2018

Amuse Bouche

Southern comforts
The mention of locking doors and the rebel songs from the Irish pubs brought Belfast back to him. He tried to flinch away from the images. Concentrate on the drink. The first mouthful. The Jameson deserved his attention. He had nothing but praise for it. A whiskey made in the south. A Catholic whiskey. Bushmills was Protestant, made in the North. Black Bush. It was well named. But he couldn’t care less. As far as alcohol was concerned he was totally non-sectarian.

from Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty (2017). Recommended.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Fish Wife Hooks A New Fan On A Wet Friday


Fish Wife Hooks A New Fan On A Wet Friday

It’s a wet night in the city and we’re heading home. But what to eat? We don’t need a big meal and we don’t want to cook either. McCurtain Street is looking miserable in the wet but you couldn't be in a better place for takeaway. We looked to our left and there was our solution: The Fish Wife. Minutes later, we were in the car with two cartons full of fish and chips, eager to get started.


As soon as we were home, we started unwrapping. Everything looked well, looked very tempting. We had both ordering the haddock versions (€8.80) of their fish and chips and our individual boxes came with lemon, tartare sauce and mushy peas (really mushy!).  The fish was perfect and perfectly cooked and the batter was super thin - no need to go fishing for the fish! The perfect solution for us on the night.

And you get quite a choice here, even if you stick to the fish and chips. On the night, we could have had Hake, Plaice, Smoked Haddock, Breaded Scampi, and Grilled Swordfish. There are choices of sauces, sides, different types of chips, a list of burgers (by craft butchers Davidsons) too, chicken dishes also, even a Student Menu.

The McCurtain Street venue, operating now for about eight years, is tiny. There is some shelf space (might take three) if you eat here on the stools but you’ll be banging backs with those in the queue alongside you. There is a solution though, quite a novel one. Order your fish and chips here. Go across the road to the lively Shelbourne Bar, buy a drink per person in your party, your fish and chips will be delivered here and you can eat at your heated outdoor table! And they’ll get rid of your cartons as well. Neat.

The Fish Wife has a second outlet, with more seating, on the Grand Parade, alongside the entrance to the English Market. Both shops are open seven days a week.

The Fish Wife
McCurtain Street  and Grand Parade 
Cork
Tel: 087 2644266 / 021 2419840
Delivery via Just Eat.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Red and White worth noting. From the heart of the Corbieres garrigue.

 A Cathar castle in Villerouge-Termenès about 30 minutes from the chateau.
A summer festival when I visited a few years back but in 1321 the last of the Cathar leaders were burnt alive here.
Château Beauregard Mirouze Campana rouge Corbieres (AC) 2015, 13.5%, €14.85 Bradley’s Cork, Le Caveau
This is a blend of 50% Syrah (some over 40 years old) and 50% Grenache. It is produced in small vineyard parcels, actual clearings in the heart of the Corbieres garrigue (scrub), by organic methods. Add in low yields and you get a “really honest… satisfying red”. The winemakers suggest pairing it with strips of duck breast with ratatouille. 

One advantage of being surrounded by garrigue is that the vines are well away from the sprays of neighbours. On the other hand, wild boar enjoy the cover of the scrub and so the Mirouze family have to use an electric fence to deter them.

Colour is a deep ruby. Something wild, funky they say, about the nose, perhaps it’s the garrigue. Quickly on the palate, fruit, juice and spice emerge in intense and happy combination. Good body too, a tannic backbone and a persistent finish. No shrinking violet this yet it is much more finesse than rustic. A well made and friendly wine and Very Highly Recommended. It is indeed honest and satisfying and, by the way, well priced too.

Château Beauregard Mirouze Campana blanc Corbieres (AC) 2015, 12.5%, €14.85 Bradley’s Cork, Le Caveau

Again, like the red, this is a Bio wine, certified organic. It is produced from the fruit of vines well known in the Mediterranean area, Marsanne (60%), Roussane (20) and Vermentino (20). They hand-harvest; fermentation and ageing takes places in large vats. And the makers have a preference for matching it with Fried shrimp with coriander and other herbs.

It has an inviting golden colour. The aromas also attract, with fruit and floral elements prominent. There are gorgeous peachy and melon flavours on the elegant palate, a fresh and edgy acidity to balance and an excellent finish to boot. Very Highly Recommended.


One of the better-known Languedoc appellations, Corbieres is also one of the most productive. Its vineyards, situated south and west of Narbonne, are best known for its red wines, and there is now an increasing number of good whites. Château Beauregard is less then fifty minutes from Carcassonne, less than half that to Narbonne (and its Roman Road, the Via Domitia).

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Taste of the Week. Red Strand Coffee


Taste of the Week
Red Strand Coffee

I’ve been tending towards South America, especially Columbia, when I buy coffee nowadays and tending towards local roasters for a long time. So when I saw Columbia and a new local roaster in Bradley’s, I took a closer look and left with a bag of Red Strand’s Rio Magdalena Oporapa. 

The beans are grown at a height of between 1600 and 1650 metres in the Huila department of Columbia and roasted by Shane Kelleher in Clonakilty, West Cork. It has that recognisable Columbian profile of sweetness (Caramel) and acidity, rich and mild with a medium body. The label notes indicate Milk Chocolate, Caramel, and Orange and it is certainly a very drinkable, very satisfying coffee, now appearing in some local restaurants as well as local markets.

Shane was inspired by these markets and the producers around him to start the Red Strand Coffee Roastery. “My ethos is to only roast coffee I want to drink myself. Life's too short for bad coffee!”

If you would like to sample the coffee, please look for the Red Strand Coffee vans in Kinsale, Clonakilty, Bantry, Skibbereen and Schull markets. They’ll be serving up Lattes, Cappuccinos, Flat Whites, Mochas, Espressos, Americanos, Hot Chocolate, even tea!


Red Strand Coffee
Cois Fern, Fernhill
Clonakilty, Ireland
Tel: 087 656 6800

Monday, March 19, 2018

Two Top Whites from Bergerac and Rias Baixas

Eidos de Padriñán Albariño, Rias Baixas (DO) 2015, 12.5%, €18.30 Karwig Wines

This enjoyable well-made wine, with enough freshness to balance the fruitiness, is made by a family winery in Val do Sainés, a sub region of Rias Baixas which claims to be the birthplace of the popular Albariño grape. 

It is said of the family that “they empty the grape of virtue”. Sounds a bit drastic. I think they mean to say they get the best from it.

It has a beautiful mid-gold colour. Peach and pear among the aromas, honeysuckle too. Melon and citrus add to the flavours on the palate; it is round and fresh and has that excellent acidity that makes this versatile wine a winning match with many cuisines, including Asian. A long finish, no shortage of minerality, completes a pleasant experience. Highly Recommended.


Get the best from the wine, empty it of virtue, by making sure it is nicely chilled, ideally between nine and ten degrees celsius. Then you can drink like a monarch! The King of Spain chose Albariño wines to celebrate his marriage to Queen Letizia.

Tour des Gendres Cuvée des Conti Bergerac sec (AOC) 2013, 13%, €17.15 Bradley’s (Cork), Le Caveau

I’m always partial to a Bergerac or Bordeaux white that has more Semillon than Sauvignon blanc and this is the case with this organic white which has 70% Semillon, 20% Sauvignon and 10% Muscadelle. 

You might think that this basic entry level wine might not get that much attention. But, in Cork last year, Guillaume de Conti told me this is one that gets full attention. “It bears the family name, and it gets great care so that each vintage is of a high level.” And this, helped by six months on the lees, certainly is. Good value too.

Not too sure of the colour! Tasting was by candlelight during a power cut, glimpses of gold spotted. Quite an intense bouquet though, fruit (white) and floral. It is fruity for sure but acidity is lively too, so well balanced, and there’s a long dry finish. Great purity and intensity and Highly Recommended.

The Conti family moved from Italy to France in 1925. In the recently published Wine Revolution, author Jane Aston recommends that you try their "Pét-Nat from 100% Sauvignon Blanc vines, bottled with no added sulphur." 

Amuse Bouche extra


Drew is coming for Sunday dinner….

Grandma is wearing a good dress with an apron.. She has made her spicy beans and a roast with gravy and real potatoes, not the ones that are flakes in a white box that says mashed potatoes. For dessert there’s peach cobbler cooling on the stovetop.
Real potatoes...
… She wants me right up under her, watching how she does the cooking so I can feed my future husband a healthy meal. She shows me how to cut the onions, the carrots, and stir the brown gravy. When she lets me taste the cobbler, she feeds it to me from her hand that still has a salty onion taste.

from The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi Durrow (2010). Very Highly Recommended.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Amuse Bouche. Mimi Sheraton v Paul Bocuse


In 1977, the New York Times sent Mimi Sheraton, their restaurant critic, to France for a month where, among others, she lambasts the renowned Paul Bocuse.

Eventually she appears on a French talk show, masked by a veil… She tells Paul Bocuse that, in the interest of quality, he should perhaps start to spend some time in his restaurant’s kitchen. When the show is over and the cameras are turned off, the gourmet chef becomes violent. He tries to rip of Sheraton’s mask, she pushes him away, Bocuse stumbles and falls. Afterwards, Sheraton feels regret. That’s what she tells People magazine. Regret that she didn't slap him in the face.

from In the Restaurant (2016) by Christoph Ribbat. Very Highly Recommended.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Super Birthday Meal in Lovely SpitJack Room


Super Birthday Meal in Lovely SpitJack Room


Over a dozen of us descended on The SpitJack last weekend to celebrate a significant birthday (and also the 70th anniversary of Ireland's 1st ever Triple Crown win!). We were seated upstairs in one of the most delightful dining rooms in the city and, with the aid of a confident crew, both in the kitchen and front of house, enjoyed a delightful meal and a lovely evening.

 We worked off the regular dinner menu where there are many choices and while the group were studying their options, I decided on a couple of wines, my first time having wine here. The red was Leda Truffle Hunter Barbera D’Asti while the white was La Mariniere Muscadet Sevre et Maine. I'm getting back into Muscadet, after a bit of a lay-off, and enjoyed this creamy lees aged bottle. Indeed, the white was slightly more popular on the night. The fresh and fruity red though also went down well.
Lamb Shank

Starters include Chicken Croquettes, Chicken Liver Paté, French Onion Soup, Salmon Mille Feuilles, Beef Carpaccio and Beetroot Carpaccio. The most popular though was the House Salted Cod "Bunyols", (Catalan Style Cod Fritters, Flacked Salted Cod, Fried Crisp Exterior, Soft Pillow Centre, Lime Chantilly), also my choice as it happened. CL, the guest of honour, enjoyed her favourite Beetroot Carpaccio.

Great buzz at the table and indeed a great buzz in the restaurant as a whole. The place was packed, upstairs and downstairs, and as soon as a table became free it was filled again. Hard to beat good food, good friendly service and all at fair price in impressive surroundings.

Now for the main event. Nine main dishes were listed along with two specials.  I've enjoyed the Lamb Shank here before and not surprised that it was the most popular choice though the cod and the  chicken ran it close. The Lamb came braised and rotisserie roasted with Red Wine Glaze, Pearl Barley & Winter Vegetable Cassoulet, Crème Fraîche, Mint Oil, Braised Lamb & Brandy Jus. By now, the SpitJack newcomers in the group were well impressed and checking around to see what they’d order next time. 
Chicken mains

In the meantime, I was enjoyed my Monkfish special and sipping the Muscadet, the wine a long way in terms of quality from the 7 or 8 franc bottle that I used buy on early visits to France away back when! Another highlight at this stage were the side plates of Rotisserie Potatoes, enhanced by the juices dripping from the meat cuts above.

Not everyone stayed the course for dessert. Among those that did, the Vanilla Crème Brulée with Pecan Shortbread was the most popular. They serve it in a large-ish shallow dish so you get a large caramelised disc, very tasty as I confirmed once again! Coffees galore and soon we were ready for road. The night, after all, was still young, just like the evergreen guest of honour!

34 Washington Street
Cork City

0212390613

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Food and Games at Barcadia. Retro Arcade with Bar and Kitchen


Food and Games at Barcadia
Retro Arcade with Bar and Kitchen
Will Sliney's mural with Pat and Colm (Pic: Brian Lougheed)

Food and games galore at the official launch last week of Barcadia, the stylish retro arcade space, with kitchen and bar, within the Mardyke complex. The brainchild of entertainers Colm Lougheed and Patrick Ahern, Barcadia joins the ranks of three other venues, Holy Smoke BBQ restaurant, Woolshed Baa and Grill, and Mardyke Bowl within the complex (built in the 1870s as a drinks warehouse).
Serious gaming. (Pic: Brian Lougheed)

There has been a three month run-in to the launch as the pair were operating Barcadia on a trial basis, checking the complex, tweaking the machines, and listening to the customer feedback before bringing out the trumpets last Thursday.

One of the first things that catches your attention as you enter is the large-scale Street Fighter mural drawn by Marvel artist Will Sliney, the background for many photos on launch night. Will is well-known by now around Cork, Ireland and the international comic book scene.

“Interestingly enough, back in the Mardyke (M2), we had many of the very same arcade machines which we have now re-imported and lovingly restored to their original state,” said Eddie Nicholson, MD of the Mardyke Entertainment Complex. Those who were customers in the late 90s might remember a different arcade on this same spot. Then the Woolshed was a jungle gym and Holy Smoke was a Q-Zar laser tag space.

Some of the arcade games that featured in the Mardyke are back and they are searching for others. In the meantime, get shooting with Point Blank, Time Crisis 2 and House of the Dead 4. “From the golden age of video games” come Pac Man, Defender, Tetris, Galaxian, Centipede, Asteroids and, of course, Space Invaders! Like to race? Then check out Daytona USA 2, Mario Kart GP 2, and Outrun SP 2. Lots of Fight games too.

Looking for a bit of exercise? Start with Pinball perhaps, then move up a gear to Fussball, Shuffleboard games and a bit of Basketball. Even Ping Pong.

And if you need to take it easy after all that, then try a table top game, like Buckaroo or Connect, Operation, Chutes and Ladders (St Patrick got rid of the snakes), Trivial Pursuit, Cluedo, Boggle and so many more.

As well as the gaming classics, Barcadia features a solid food menu (with Holy Smoke chef Decky Walsh leading the team). The focus is on homemade pizzas, themed burgers, Southern Fried Chicken (“with a subtle nod to the three fast food restaurant chains in the Grand Theft Auto universe”). Sweet treats too to keep those energy levels up. All were on offer on launch night and all (check out those battered onion rings and those mozzarella sticks too) were very enjoyable indeed. 
Chefs at Work! (Pic: Brian Lougheed)

There is a full bar there also, featuring some real good beer. I enjoyed a couple of pints of Franciscan Well Chieftain and noticed that Yellow Belly’s Kellerbier is guesting there at present. Cans include Brooklyn Brewery and Brewdog. There is quite a range of cocktails with appropriate titles such as Princess Peach, Donkey Kong, Pac Man, Street Fighter and Super Mario. Cheers!

Barcadia is open till late every weekday from 4.30pm and from 12.00pm on the weekends.