Monday, April 30, 2018

Two to Note from Chile's Cachapoal Valley. And an Irish connection.


Bernardo (via Wikipedia)
Two to Note from Chile's Cachapoal Valley. And an Irish connection.

Clos des Fous and Chateau Los Boldos are two of the leading producers in the Rapel Valley, south of Santiago in Chile. The area, with its dry warm climate, is regarded as ideal for growing Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon. 
The Rapel has two main valleys, the Cachapoal and the better known Colchaqua.

Cachapoal Province is one of three provinces of the central Chilean region of Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins Region. Bernardo (left), who played a leading role in the liberation fight, became the first Head of State of Chile in 1818. And yes, there was of course an Irish background. The O'Higgins family lost their lands under the English Crown in the 17th century and left to exile in Spain from where some of them made their way to Chile.

Chateau Los Boldos “Tradition Réserve” Carmenere 2016, Cachapoal (Chile), 13.5%, €15.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s, Wines Online


Los Boldos grow all their own fruit, in vineyards that benefit from a Mediterranean climate, so control everything from grape to bottle. Sixty per cent spends six months in French and American oak “to soften tannins and add complexity”.

Quite a deep red. There are rich cherry aromas, a promise of good things to come. And come they do on the palate, delicious sweet fruit flavours and spice, a lush mouthfeel thanks to its rounded texture. Very appealing overall and Very Highly Recommended. Well priced also.

By the way, Los Boldos also do other single varietals in the “Tradition Réserve” series including Merlot, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Worth seeking out, I reckon. The emphasis in this French pioneered now Portuguese owned winery is on higher-end wines from their old vines. Its signature wines are the Grand Cru.


Clos des Fous Chardonnay, Locura 1 Terroir de los Andes Chile 2015, 14%, €23.99 JJ O’Driscoll Cork, Wine Online

Quite a mission statement from Cussen, Leyton, Massoc and Parra, the quartet behind this wine: “This is an unique and groundbreaking project based on a delicate and novel terroir selection. Following the Burgundy philosophy, our focus is to achieve wines with minimal intervention letting the terroir express itself.”

A few details on the wine itself. Colour is a very light straw. Fairly intense aromas (white fruits), legs slow. Excellent buttery mouthfeel, rich and full in the mouth, long and satisfying mineral finish. The four seem to have indeed followed the Burgundian way here, seem to have succeeded and the verdict is Very Highly Recommended.

This unoaked Chardonnay is listed as one of the top ten chardonnay in South America by Wines of South America. They also call Pedro Parra, one of the four owners, a “terroir whisperer”. 

Their terroir approach plus their organic fruit and minimalist techniques are lauded, “no safety nets” such as fining or filtering. The wines, including this one, have many admirers, among them Jancis Robinson here. 

Wondering about the name of the wine? Clos des Fous means enclosure of the madmen while Locura also hints at a crazy condition. Enjoy!



And Union. Solid Colours Stand Out.


And Union. Solid Colours Stand Out.
With the multitude of multi-coloured cans now on the beer shelf, it’s back to basic for German brewers And Union. And their one colour cans really stand out. They certainly caught my eye in Bradley’s the other day and I took advantage of the four for €10.00 offer. 

CL, who had just been to the Franciscan Well Beer Festival, wasn't overly impressed with my quartet, saying there were better beers at the Well. She has a very valid point - I certainly enjoyed a few there: 9 White Deer Brewery Black Lightning IPA and Stag Saor Gluten Free Stout; Kinnegar Brewing Hare & Hag Irish Coffee Stout; and Lough Gill Brewery Mac Nutty Brown Ale.

The four Germans though are all well made and I enjoyed each of them, particularly the black lager. Then again, as you can see from the selection in the Franciscan, I was “researching” the dark-ish side that evening. Next time, I’ll let CL choose!

And Union Unfiltered Lager, 5%, 33cl can
Brewed in Bavaria, from Hallertau Aroma hops, this is “an old school lager, bursting with flavour”. Bitterness units are 25.

It is pale and cloudy with a full head, citrusy aromas and fruit too on the palate, malt and citrus prominent, smooth to a dry finish. This vegan friendly brew is recommended as an appetiser and also “with spicy foods, tacos, oysters, tempura”.

And Union Neu Black Lager, 5%, 33cl can
Again this is brewed from the same Hallertau hops and the bitterness count is lowest of the four at 20. “A rich and toasty and complex yet light bodied and refreshing.”

You’ll see blacker blacks. It has an ample white head. Aromas of hops and fruit. Much more complex on the palate than the previous one, rich and toasty as they say and it is light and refreshing with a fruity and hoppy finish. My favourite of the four.







And Union Sunday Pale Ale, 5.5%, 33cl can
Bitterness units in this Pale Ale are higher, as you’d expect, at 35. It is “balanced and gently spiced, easy-like-Sunday-morning..”

It pours cloudy with a mid-gold colour, an ample if short-lived white head. Aromas are moderately hoppy. Hops used by the way are Hallertau Aroma and Summit. In the mouth, you get a good mix of malt and citrus, dry for sure, all the way to a hoppy finish. Pair with whatever you can handle after the night before, cornflakes maybe but not the Full Irish!

And Union Friday IPA 6.5%, 33 cl can
This “Bavarian take on the American-style IPA is not for woosies”. Not for craft beer newbies either with the bitterness units hitting 55. Hops used are Hallertau Aroma and Chinook.

Again, I liked this one with its hazy gold colour and ample white head, aromas slightly more hops than fruit. On the palate, It is a quite complex amalgam of hops and malt and fruit, well balanced though with a long dry and effervescent hoppy finish. Cheers!




Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Rich And Famous (and me) Stay At Glengarriff's Eccles Hotel


The Rich And Famous (and me) Stay
 At Glengarriff's Eccles Hotel

I recently added my name to a list that includes William Makepeace Thackeray, George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats and, of more recent vintage, Pippa Middleton. They all stayed at the Eccles Hotel in Glengarriff. The splendidly situated hotel opened in 1745 and is currently undergoing renovation under new owners but is fully open for business.

Visitors are invariably impressed. Thackeray wrote “What sends tourists to the Rhine and Saxon Switzerland? Within 5 miles of the pretty Inn of Glengarriff there is a country of the magnificence of which no pen can give any idea.” There is still a room named after him in the hotel.

Punch Magazine, in a kind of 1870s Trip Advisor review, wrote: Glengarriff – Eccles Hotel, charmingly situated. Facing the bay and on the road. Old fashioned, covered with creepers and roses with bedrooms commanding the bay view. The Eccles is worth more than a passing visit. I am delighted with it. It is, as far as attendance, cuisine, and general comfort the best hotel I’ve been in.

So how did I get on there? Very well indeed. The hotel, just off the main road, is as you probably know situated on a little height overlooking the bay. You will see splendid views even from the bar on the ground floor. Stroll across the road and you may get a boat to Garinish Island and I did just that, taking in the island, the basking seals and the eagle’s nest (a new temporary attraction here).

I stayed in one of the renovated front rooms at €100.00 per night with breakfast; the room had a bay view and cost a few euro extra. While not the biggest, the room (with its old fashioned high ceiling) was very comfortable, nicely decorated and both it and the bathroom were well equipped
Gubbeen crubeens starter

They serve breakfast upstairs in the Garinish Restaurant, a splendid room indeed. And breakfast was rather splendid too, excellent service too. An eye-catching table was laden with all kinds of good stuff: fruit juices, cereals and breads while you could also order something hot, including the full traditional Irish, from the kitchen. My order was Eggs Benedict and that got me off to a good start for the day.

Local producers get a fair crack of the whip here. They featured at breakfast and also in the dinner that we enjoyed, not in the Garinish (which will serve dinner later in the year), but in the Harbour Bar downstairs.
Hake

At first glance, the menu seems ordinary enough but do study the bits and pieces that come with your meat or fish and you will note some combinations that are a little different and, in this case, more than a little better, than usual.

We were by the sea, so you'd expect salmon on the menu. But the Eccles version is something else. I thought it worth exploring and was delighted with my Cork Whiskey and Vanilla Cured Salmon (Braised Barley, Apple, Prawn, Radish, Herb Cream).
Caramel Apple & Raisin Oat Crumble

There’s a pretty good choice here, augmented by specials on the board. Indeed, CL picked from that board on the bar counter and came up trumps with her Herb Crusted Baked Hake, served with a red pepper confit. Both mains were fairly priced in the mid-teens. Other options included steak, chicken, lamb, and burger.
Salmon

No shortage of starters either, including cheese and meat platters with Gubbeen featuring. Gubbeen too in my starter: the flavourful Crubeens (Smoked Gubbeen Bacon Hock, Piccalilli, Gem, Pickled Onion.). CL’s Bantry Bay Mussels came with an rather unusual but excellent Cider, Apple and Barley “sauce”.

Service was pretty good throughout our short stay and the WiFi was excellent in the room. 

Indeed, the only thing on the downside was that they seemed to be running down their stock of craft beer. They had a tap for 8 Degrees Howling Gale but no beer. So we asked for two bottles of the Full Irish - they had just one. In the end we shared a larger bottle of Mountain Man’s Banjo’d and noticed, just as we were about to finish, that it was well out of date. On the other hand and to finish on a good note, we later enjoyed a couple of glasses of the local and excellent Beara Gin.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Amuse Bouche


Three horrifically inept matches at the (2000) Euros later, Bild put 11 Bratwürste in national team kits on its cover. (To be called a Bratwürst, a grilled sausage, is a huge insult to anyone, never mind a German footballer). The tabloid also printed a detailed report of Bayern players drowning their sorrows in late-night beers after the final game, a 3-0 defeat by Portugal’s B team.

from Das Reboot by Raphael Honigstein (2015). Highly Recommended.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Ichigo Ichie. Twelve Courses. Many Lessons.

Ichigo Ichie. Twelve Courses. Many Lessons.
Takashi Miyazaki

The outstanding menu at the Takashi Miyazaki’s newly opened Ichigo Ichie has twelve courses and many tasty lessons for the Irish customers and indeed for Irish chefs.

Take the Mukouzuke, the fifth course, for example. Here, I came across squid like never before (so different to how it is served up here), the 6 days aged turbot was another eye-opener as was the bonito. An amazing plateful.
Nigiri

Mukouzuke, by the way, in the Japanese haute cuisine system known as Kaiseki (the style that Miyazaki is serving here) means the plate for sashimi. 

Another course title, the 9th in our meal, is Sunomono and this is a serving of pickled vegetables. Here, Miyazaki relied on his granny's recipe; she was spot-on and the rice bran, with aubergine, purple ninja radish and cucumber may have been small but it was huge in flavour.

There were little surprises all through the multi-course meal, even with the opening Sakizuke. Here the humble rhubarb found a starring role with Tofu and white sesame. The clams in the 11th dish, the Tonewan, just became available on the day and so were skilfully placed with the red miso, tofu, chive and dashi.
The Hassun: Thornhill Duck, eel & cucumber, Asparagus & cured egg.

Moon Jar
This multi-course meal is meant to reflect the  seasons but “the seasons in Japan are different to those in Ireland”, said Takashi. Our four seasons in one day has him puzzled. But he did manage to get cherry blossom in Douglas for one element of the Hassun, a delightful combination of Asparagus, cured onsen egg yolk, whiting powder and salted cherry blossom.

It is a lovely calm room with a lovely calm crew, conversations bubbling nicely behind us; we were two of the lucky five that had managed to book counter seats. That got us the odd chat with the busy Miyazaki and the chance to admire the floral arrangement and the amazing pottery piece called the Moon Jar that he sourced in London.

One of our first decisions was on what to drink. There is an excellent list of organic and natural wines from Le Caveau and we each started with a glass of white. Some Asahi beer (including draught) also available. But we had spotted the sake list also and then moved on to that, enjoying a can of the delicious Honjozo (17% abv), fragrant and full and with an amazing persistence. I'm converted!
Mukouzuke

One of the highlights of the early part of the meal was the Oshinogi course, two pieces of nigiri (sushi) with soy foam. The yellow fin was high class and even the ginger was memorable. Daikon (winter radish) is a favourite of Takashi’s and appeared in at least two courses, most notably the Nimono where it accompanied the bamboo shoot and yuzu-miso.

Daikon, bamboo shoot
I don't want to go into all the details - leave you to discover some for yourself -  but other highlights for me were the Thornhill duck, the conger eel, the ox-tongue, and the chicken thigh and turbot fin (with a savoury custard). 

Dessert is not a big thing in Japan. The course name is Kanmi and set Takashi a problem but he came up with a neat response: soy milk, chocolate, mochi rice cake, mocha and Jameson Cask Whiskey. Small but packing quite a flavour punch!

Ichigo Ichie, as you may have heard, may be interpreted as “once in a lifetime”. “No once in a lifetime,’ said Takashi, as we left. “Come back soon.” We will. In the meantime, let us hope, his influence will be felt way beyond his Fenn’s Quay base.
Channelled wrack, carrot, burdock, shiitake, dashi = Gohanmono

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Syrian and Irish on the Plate at Bandon’s Bayleaf


Syrian and Irish on the Plate at Bandon’s Bayleaf

The Bayleaf Bistro has been operating in Bandon for close to a year but I hadn't heard about it until walking around there the other day. Saw the menu, a mix of Irish and Syrian, and, since it was more or less lunchtime, popped in. The interior of the building is much the same as it was under its previous name The Chapel Steps. 

We had two menus available to us: the Lunch Menu (mainly sandwiches, wrap, salad, burger) and the General Menu (Healthy eating choices, Make your own sandwich and generally more substantial dishes including a few Syrian ones).

I was temped by the traditional Syrian Bammia, an Okra stew, but, with a big dinner on the horizon, decided to leave it for another day. After a discussion, and a little advice from the friendly staff, we came up with a sharing idea. 

One of our choices was the Shannonvale Chicken Wrap: local chicken fillet marinated with exotic Middle Eastern spices, served in a Syrian Wrap,  and on the side there were homemade chips and seasonal salad. Top class piece of chicken, the traditional chips and salad were excellent and the Syrian contribution (including the bread wrap) was superb. Excellent, all for €9.95.

The big one (€14.95) to be shared was the one called A Taste of Syria, “a superb collection of our homemade traditional Syrian appetisers” and so it proved to be. It consisted of Falafel, hummus, quinoa tabouleh salad, mutabbel (blended smoked aubergine with tahini, natural yogurt, tomato salsa), rice stuffed vine leaves, marinated pitted olives, white chillan cheese, lebneh (thick natural creamy yogurt garnished with mint and olive oil), crisp fried vegetable samosa, served with warm pitta bread.

I think many of you will be fairly familiar with most of appetisers listed thanks to the rising influence of Middle Eastern cuisine in Ireland. Don’t think though that I’ve come across the mutabbel before (similar texture to the hummus but with different flavours). And it was definitely my first time eating that stringy and salty cheese (apparently one of many such across the Middle East)  - won't be my last! Won’t be my last time visiting the Bayleaf either!

The Bayleaf Bistro
St Patrick’s Place
Bandon
Co. Cork
(023) 884 2589
For updates, check their Facebook page 

Links for this visit:

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Taste of the Week. Ballymaloe CS Sour Cherry Amaretti


Taste of the Week
Ballymaloe CS Sour Cherry Amaretti

The humble apple may have lost us paradise. But it is simply regained. Just go to Midleton Farmers Market on Saturday and call to the Ballymaloe Cookery School Stall.

There are many palate pleasing delights here: banana bread, Tunisian orange cakes, homemade meringues, and Ashura (Turkish) cereal. 

But this is not quite what you’re searching for. Check in among the Chocolate Toffee Squares and those massive Gingerbread Cookies. What you need, and what I bought on my recent visit, was the their pack of Sour Cherry Amaretti.

Put one of these beauties in your mouth and just press gently with your teeth. Savour. Delight in that amazing texture and flavour. Paradise found, at least on the palate.

Our heavenly Taste of the Week is produced using cherries, egg whites, almonds, sugar, lemon, honey and lots of enthusiastic love.

Shanagarry
Co. Cork


Monday, April 23, 2018

Danny Martinez Doyle’s Hiberno-Iberian Chowder is Champion in Kinsale All Ireland Cook Off


Danny Martinez Doyle’s Hiberno-Iberian Special
 is Champion in Kinsale All Ireland Chowder Cook Off
No doubt about it, Cronin's chowder was a winner, many "came back for seconds and thirds".
Note Danny's little helper.

Sunshine and fish drew the crowds to Sunday’s All Ireland Chowder Cook Off at Acton’s Hotel on Kinsale. And they were ready, quite a shoal crowding in at the first minute to sample the dozens of chowders on offer from most parts of the country. There were entries from Antrim to Beara and from Kenmare to Kildare, 26 in all.
 Head Chef Lee Mastin serving up a beauty from Sligo's Draft House
At the end, there were big congratulations for the winner, Dan Cronin’s Bar and Bistro from Newcastlewest, County Limerick, led by Chef Danny Martinez Doyle. Donegal’s Waterfront Hotel were second while the Marine Hotel from Ballycastle, Co.Antrim, got the nod for third.


The large marquee was packed as CL and myself tasted our way around. Quite a few of the stands were pro-active and had staff meeting and greeting you out on the floor with their samples. The standard was high and both of us had the top three (not necessarily in that order) on our shortlists along with a few more.
Tasty canapés from the Waterfront Hotel


Indeed, we had sampled Danny's excellent chowder - they described it as an Irish-Spanish combination - early on, a little chorizo among the elements lifting it well out of the ordinary and we put a star on it straight away. 

Ready for the off in sunny Kinsale

The Waterfront had some lovely seafood canapés on their table and a very nice chowder as well, nicely seasoned with a high proportion of shellfish.

Mike from the Cornstore checks out the crowd
I didn't come to the Marine Hotel until late in my round but immediately noted it as a contender, the seaweed based chowder an innovative and delicious bowl. I think if it had been up to the two of us, this would have been the winner!


Cork’s Cornstore are noted for their fish offering and they certainly came up with something different, a very tasty clam and bacon chowder served in the hollow of a parmesan bun. And not just chowder; they also provided a mini-dessert of posset. 
The Waterfront, a popular stop

Some jazzed up their offerings with alcohol, one had brandy, while the Cork Airport Hotel used Eight Degrees beer. Quinlan’s had a more traditional embellishment, a delicious crab claw. They and Cornstone were also on our short-lists.

There were some very tasty breads on offer but I’m afraid we didn't manage to sample very many of them. There is only so much you can eat! The bread from Jinny’s Bakery was excellent but the best that we tasted was the Seaweed Sourdough from Kelly’s of Wexford. 
I enjoyed this one from the Marine Hotel

In between, we found the calm of the smaller adjoining marquee and refreshed with a reviving sample of Black’s new rum, thanks to Sam and Maudeline, the busy couple behind the go-ahead local brewery and distillery.
Liam Quinlan greets visitors to his stand
So big congratulations to Danny and his Newcastlewest crew on their well deserved win. It was their first time entering and they take over from the 2017 champions the Beara Coast Hotel who gave it their best shot again this time.


There was huge delight in County Limerick gastro-pub: “The response to Danny’s Chowder was just incredible as many came back for seconds and thirds and looking for the recipe! Huge congratulations and very well done to Danny, Fiona and all the team”. And so say all of us! And well done also to the organisers, the Kinsale Good Food Circle.
The overflow at the back door!




Sunday, April 22, 2018

Inchydoney Island & Maison Louis Jadot. Location and Terroir Combine

Inchydoney Island & Maison Louis Jadot
Stunning Combination of Location and Terroir

Isn’t the Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa one of the best situated hotels in the country? One of the most welcoming too! Can’t recall any other greeting me (and every guest) at reception with a glass of the excellent (and local) Stonewell Tawny. And when you leave, well there is a pot (a very tasty one too) of their own Winter-Berry Jam. 


So now add in a wine dinner with the renowned Maison Louis Jadot and you can understand I was in a foodie heaven. The weather didn’t exactly cooperate (it was about 12 hours behind schedule!) so the event didn't quite live up to the Burgundy on the Beach title but it was top class in every aspect.

The beach-side hotel, miles of sand to each side, supports quite a few local producers and a few were featured in the five course menu. But I spotted many also in the ancillary menus: Kids, Sandwiches, Room Service, and Afternoon Tea. Some of those included were: Clonakilty Pork, Bushby Strawberries, cheesemakers (Coolea, Cashel Blue, and Bandon Vale), Timoleague Ham, Ummera Smokehouse, and Shannonvale Chicken. Breakfast is also quite an occasion, some great choices on the menu (hot and cold) and lovely service in a smashing room.

And that Gulfstream Restaurant, with its windows looking down on the Atlantic,  was also the venue for the Wine Tasting Dinner at which I was an invitee. The guests met in the superb lounge and we were welcomed with some tasty canapés and a cool glass of Chablis, by Louis Jadot bien sur. This bright and fresh wine was just the ticket to get the evening off to an excellent start, the canapés vanishing and the chats starting.
Starter

Marie-Pierre Dardouillet (left), Export Director with Maison Louis Jadot, supported by distributors Findlater's, was introduced in the restaurant before dinner. And, not wanting to interfere with the flow of the dinner, spoke about the three white wines, produced by Jadot from their 250 hectares of vineyard.

The Chablis comes from the northern part of Burgundy, somewhat cooler than the second wine, the fresh and fruity Saint-Véran. This comes from a small village in the Maconnais region, “nice to compare the two, side by side”. Both are produced from Chardonnay. Generally, white wines from here are Chardonnay, reds are Pinot Noir.

Soon we would “meet” the third white, the Meursault, another 100 per cent Chardonnay. This is fermented in wooden barrels and aged 15 months before bottling. “well balanced oakiness, much more complex and deep,” said Marie-Pierre. A beautiful wine, full-fruited bouquet, generous palate and a long finish and a terrific match with the Gulfstream Seafood Assiette.
Seafood Assiette

Now too sure which I was most looking forward to try: the fillet of Macroom beef or the Nuits-Saint-George. The wine is one of the region’s most famous wines, aged in oak barrels for 12 months, deep of colour and flavour. Marie-Pierre: “Lots of structure, tannin. Elegant.” Mais oui!

For our final wine, we moved south from Burgundy to Beaujolais next door and that meant a change of grape from the Pinot Noir of the Nuits-Saint-George to the Gamay.
Fillet

As you might expect, it wasn't any old Gamay (Beaujolais nouveau for instance is a Gamay) but a cru. There are ten crus in Beaujolais and Moulin-a-Vent (Windmill) was where our wine was produced. “The Gamay thrives on the granite soil and this spends 12 months in barrel. It is much more fruit driven and will be interesting with dessert!”, said Maire-Pierre. Probably not the best match but a lovely wine that I more or less held back until my plate was cleared. Then I enjoyed it and its reviving acidity all the more!

And those plates. Thanks to Head Chef Adam Medcalf and his crew, they looked splendid from start to finish.

The starter was Macroom Buffalo Cheese Plate: crisp Feta and polenta, Ricotta pannacotta, Mozzarella and Tomato Tian with beetroot, sun-dried tomato and rocket. 

The fish course was entitled Gulfstream Seafood Assiette and consisted of Ummera Smoked Salmon and crab roulade, sugar cubed salmon, crisp fried squid with a celeriac remoulade, pickled cucumber, quail egg and a bisque reduction.

The came the Roasted Fillet of Macroom Beef with a lobster and prawn crust, fondant potato, celeriac purée, shiitake mushroom and a horseradish cream sauce.

Time then for dessert: Roasted Rhubarb and orange pannacotta with ginger biscuit Ice-cream.

The lovely evening was drawing to a conclusion but Ruth McCarthy, Director of Sales & Marketing at Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa, cheered the guests up with a promise of “many more evenings like this”. Marie-Pierre complimented the hotel kitchen saying the food was "very good". “Hope you enjoyed the wines and see you in Burgundy.” Inchydoney on tour. Now who’s organising that trip.

The Gulfstream Restaurant
Also on this trip:
Syrian Food at Bandon's Bayleaf.
Bantry Market Every Friday



Friday, April 20, 2018

Amuse Bouche


The strange turns of language, of fairy-tale grandeur and precision-tooled sizes - this is the side of Rimbaud that appealed to the Surrealists. Whereas later critics felt they had sucked all the juice out of Verlaine and perfectly digested him, Rimbaud remained somehow…inedible. He was impossible to assimilate and therefore remained endlessly fascinating…

from Rimbaud, The Double Life of a Rebel by Edmund White (2008). Recommended.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

36 hours in Killarney: Local Brews - Torc - Reidy’s Pub - Noelle’s Retro Cafe. Much more.


36 hours in Killarney 

Killarney Brewery - Torc Mountain - Reidy’s Pub - Noelle’s Retro Cafe. And more to see and do.

The Killarney Brewing Company has certainly made headway since it started a few years back, its products available in many of the local pubs and hotels. You’ll find it on the Muckross Road, less than a ten minute walk from the Main Street. 

There is a spacious bar here and there was a quite a good crowd in, many of them overseas visitors, when we called during a recent wet Thursday afternoon. Tours are available but you are also welcome to sit down and have a drink. Pizzas are also on offer and sixteen euro will bag you a pizza and a pint.

Torc Waterfall
We shared a paddle. A glass, somewhat less than a half pint, of their Red Ale, their IPA and the Extra Stout, costs a reasonable seven euro. 


In the nod to the local wildlife, the red ale goes under the moniker Rutting Red. Their take on an American style IPA is called the Scarlett Pimpernel in honour of local hero Fr Hugh O’Flaherty  - you’ll see his statue and read all about him at his memorial alongside the Plaza Hotel by the entrance to the park.

But it was the Casey Brothers Extra Stout (6% abv) that got our vote and we promptly ordered more of that. With some of the famous Flahavan’s Oats included, it is a smooth customer with an Espresso finish. Highly Recommended. 

Reidy's
It is named after the Casey brothers from County Kerry who had huge success as rowers away back in the 1930s. The most famous, Steve (“Crusher”),  was undefeated World Wrestling champion from 1938 through 1947. Extra indeed! But don't worry. Treat this smooth stout with the respect it deserves and you’ll go the distance too.

In Killarney on a wet day? Well, you may visit the big houses, Muckross and Killarney, and the brewery and more. Another good place to go to, certainly early in the year, is Torc Waterfall, as the flow will be at its very best. Despite the odd heavy drop finding its way down the back of my neck, I very much enjoyed the visit up the steps, past the lichen covered trees and into the soft mist of the falls. 


On a good day, you could follow the Old Killarney Kenmare Road and then follow the walk up Torc Mountain  . The views of Killarney and its lakes are stupendous. Well worth the effort.

Big Houses. Small Houses.

Fr O'Flaherty - the Scarlett Pimpernel
On the tours of the big houses, Muckross and Killarney, you’ll always here about the owners, the landlords, their families always named. But the tenants, labourers and servants are not. The big names may be gone from Killarney, but the families from the small houses, the cottages and gate-lodges, are still going strong, many of them involved in the care of the National Park, its flora and fauna. 

Indeed, they have quite a sense of belonging and duty. As Walter Ryan Purcell, a Regional Tourist guide, told me during the visit, they “get the park” and are always alert for anything, a zip-line for instance, that might harm the nature of the park. Why not remember them the next time a building is renovated.


I had linked up with Walter for a coffee at the amazing John M Reidy's  on Main Street, Killarney. The entrance(s) are confusing. Is it a bakery, a general merchant, a sweet shop? Basically, at least since its “second coming” late last year, it is a pub cum cafe. Loads of nooks and crannies, lots of memorabilia, outdoor areas too (a great place to be when the music plays in the evening), outdoor areas that can be screened off from the cool and the rain by substantial awnings.

Already it is drawing in some big names - musician Niall Horan chilled here recently. Killarney has always drawn big names, especially those of the film world who were regular visitors to the big houses such as Killarney House. Even that very evening, ex Taoiseach Bertie Aherne had the table next to us in The Brehon’s Danú Restaurant.

After Reidy’s, Walter took us down a narrow lane (almost directly opposite) to see Noelle’s Retro Café. She has an old bike parked outside. It is not as sprawling as Reidy's but again, there are quite a few rooms here, more than you'd expect and one at least is given over to the vinyl era. 

Boxes and shelves of long-playing records in abundance and indeed you may play them here on a turntable. Someone did point out that ear-phones are also available. Pretty good coffee here and pastry is also available.  This quirky Retro Cafe serves Breakfast, Brunch, Coffee, Teas, Homemade Pastries, Smoothies and is open seven days a week (9.00 to 6.00).

Walter, by the way, told me that the lovely Deenagh Lodge (where we met him and his lovely team last November) is due to have its seasonal reopening at the Easter Weekend.
Deenagh Lodge Tea Rooms
Dine and smile: Deenagh Lodge
Visit: 

Crag Cave: http://swissroll07.blogspot.ie/2016/11/crag-cave-underground-in-kerry.html 
Visiting Killarney's Big Houses