Thursday, May 31, 2018

Leisurely Tour and Tasting at Cotton Ball Micro-Brewery


Leisurely Tour and Tasting at Cotton Ball Micro-Brewery
Eoin (right) starts the tour.

The sun shone as members (and guests) of the Munster Wine & Dine gathered at the Cotton Ball for a leisurely tour of and tasting at the pub’s own micro-brewery. The brewery was founded by the Lynch family less than five years ago yet they’ve outgrown the original brewery and have moved into a new one in their Mayfield (Cork) premises.

The old brewery is being wound down, our guide Eoin Lynch told us, but is still being used for some brews, including their Lynch’s Stout. He is delighted with the “huge difference in space” afforded them by the new facility.

They also have their own mill, the grain coming from Togher. Speciality malts are imported, mainly from Europe, and we had some fun smelling the many aromas.
Speciality malt, from Belgium

Someone asked what’s the most popular beer. Eoin: “Most of the beer in the world is lager. Craft or not, you can’t ignore that. It is a very competitive market with more and more craft breweries opening. We use tip top ingredients here but labour is the big cost!”

They have almost tripled batch size with the new facility. “But we still need to balance demand, not to get too far ahead. You don’t want product sitting around.” And he confirmed, in response to a question, that draught does indeed taste better. One of the reasons is that most bottles are filtered for “shelf life purposes”.

He showed us some of their kit, including the bottling line, capable of doing 1,000 bottles an hour. A new keg wash means they put through three kegs at a time instead of one previously.

Now it was time to sit down in the Brewery Room, pay tribute to the bar founder, one Humphrey Lynch, Eoin’s great-grandfather, who left Ballyvourney at 15 years of age and settled in an American town known as Byefield which he later used in naming his Cork estate house. 
Cheese please

After working for two years with Joseph Longfellow, cousin to the famous poet, he worked for a year in the ship yard at Newburyport until the American civil war broke out. 

He was one of the first to enlist in the 4th U.S regiment light artillery battery and served through 27 general engagements principally in the army of the southwest and along the Mississippi valley. Then he worked for 14 years as a foreman of the picker room in Newburyport cotton mill. 

This would later give him the name of a public house he purchased in Baile na mBocht  (now Mayfield) after returning to Ireland in 1870’s. Nowadays, each bottle from the new brewery pays tribute to the man who made it all possible, bearing an image of American Civil War veteran Humphrey on the label. 
Keg washing facility

We were on the draught though, five beers in all. And Isabelle Sheridan of On the Pig’s Back supplied the cheeses for the pairings. Generally, it seemed the stronger the beer, the stronger the cheese. 

For instance, the lager and the easy drinking Indian Summer paired well with the Ardsallagh Feta, the Ale with Hegarty’s Cheddar, the Indian Pale Ale (with the Magnum hops, a favourite bittering hops here) with both the Cheddar and the Bleu D’Auvergne. The stout too matched up well with both the cheddar and the bleu. And Hegarty’s new comté style cheese called Teampallgeal was very popular across the board!
le bleu
A pint of Lynch's

After that generous tasting, there was a pint “of your choice” for each guest and lots of chat as the evening wound down and I relaxed with a flavoursome pint of Lynch’s excellent stout.

Until the next time, which will be a mid-summer trip to the county on July 8th. Members are asked to keep an eye on their emails for details. Later in the year, we will be visiting The Mews in Baltimore and Longueville House in Mallow.

  • A more detailed account of the soldier and entrepreneur Humphrey Lynch may be found here  
  • The Cotton Ball website is here
  • For more info on Munster Wine & Dine, click here

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Visit Courtmacsherry. Small Place. Lots to see and do.


Visit Courtmacsherry.
Small Place. Lots to see and do.



The West Cork village of Courtmacsherry, just about an hour from the city, is within easy reach for a break of a day or two. Here is what I got up to on a recent visit.

On the way down, I stopped in the lovely well kept village of Kilbrittain. Here they have on display the skeleton of a huge Fin Whale that got stranded on the nearby shore in 2009. 


The impressive skeleton is mounted near a playground. From here, you can take a short woodland walk and see the old Kilbrittain Castle  to your left on the way down. Cross the road to a peaceful spot near a small waterfall. If you feel like doing more walking, there is one through a forest here or you may just prefer to walk back up either via the path you originally took or on the road itself.

If it is dinner or lunch time, then you’ll be in Timoleague in a few minutes. There are a couple of good restaurants here and the one we most recently visited is the excellent Monk’s Lane just about a hundred yards away from the village’s ancient and famous abbey ruins.


Courtmacsherry is just four kilometres away and there is an easy flat walk between the two villages. Courtmac, as most people down here call it, is attractive whether you approach by car or on foot.

We came in by car on this occasion and booked ourselves into the ten room Courtmacsherry Hotel. Small it may be but it has a big hearty welcome for you.
Kilbrittain Walk

If it is Sunday, I’m told they do a amazing fish platter in the hotel. If you’d prefer something lighter at lunchtime, then try Diana Dudog’s Food Depot, a truck which parks up by the beach every Sunday.

Before lunch, or after, you might fancy a walk through the nearby woods. This is something you must do if you come in May as then the flowers of the bluebells and the wild garlic put on a big show here. If you are a “real” walker, then keep going - there’s over forty kilometres of the Seven Heads walk ahead of you!
Wild Garlic in Courtmac wood

Most people will head back to the village, I reckon. And recently quite a few are heading to the newly opened restaurant, The Lifeboat Inn. We enjoyed a lovely evening meal here and also a beer out on their new terrace overlooking the harbour.

if the sun shines, then you have a beach at your doorstep, just outside the hotel. Fancy something more dramatic? Then head over to the spectacular Dunworley beach.
Lunchbox from the Food Truck

Even though Courtmacsherry may not be the biggest place, I know you’ll find your own spots in which to wine and dine in the general area. And be sure to bring those walking shoes. And the camera - sunsets are spectacular down here but I was never up for the sunrise! 

And don’t forget the fishing rods - you can hire a boat and perhaps spot some of those sharks and whales that visit here. A year ago, we saw a basking shark but wouldn’t really have known what it was but for the shouts of some excited locals on the cliffs beyond the walk in the wood.
Donworley. Kids below. Cows above.

And, on the way home, you might fancy calling to the Farmers Market, held in nearby Bandon, every Saturday morning. Clonakilty has one on Fridays. Bandon’s not the biggest a round but the quality is high and you’ll find plenty of good food for dinner and that will save you having to go shopping when you get back home.
Courtmac sunset
See other recent posts from this area:
Courtmacsherry Hotel
The Lifeboat Inn
Monk's Lane



Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Taste of the Week. Baltimore Bacon


Taste of the Week
Baltimore Bacon


I must get over to Bandon and Clonakilty markets more often as these are the only places that I can get Baltimore Bacon, my Taste of the Week.

And it will probably be even more difficult to get now as Nathan Wall, who began farming pigs in Baltimore ten years ago, was recently honoured by the Irish Food Writers Guild, an award that is more valued than most an award that is more valued than most as it comes from independent professional writers. 

After a recent visit to Bandon, I tried Nathan’s Maple Smoked Rashers (also available in joints) at home. The first bite and you just stop, stop talking, stop thinking, such is the amazing flavour. Then you get on and enjoy it.

Nathan had a delicate touch as a specialist plasterer in London and now has a delicate touch in his new career. “Our bacon is cured by hand, using just organic sea salt and natural ingredients with no added water, no nitrites, nitrates or phosphates. This is real bacon, made the time-honoured way, with nothing added except our passion and dedication..”

And if those rashers were top notch, the Black Bacon joint was something else. Another must try! This is Artisan Dry Cured Bacon, West Cork pork, Atlantic sea salt, black pepper, molasses, raw cane sugar, spices, natural oak smoke.  Another outstanding product from Baltimore.

Other Baltimore products are Cider and Apple Smoked Bacon, Cider and Apple Unsmoked bacon, Baltimore Bacon unsmoked and also smoked. And don’t forget his tasty lardons.

Nathan has had help and input from other artisan producers in the area, particularly from Fingal at Gubbeen where he works part-time and where his products are  smoked. At the award celebration dinner in Dublin, the main course was Cider and Apple Smoked Baltimore Bacon with Parsnip Purée, Caramelised Brussels Sprouts and Onions and Fresh Mandarin. And that cider came from Stonewell in Nohoval.

Below is the citation from the awards presentation:


Baltimore Bacon cured bacon, Co. Cork: Food Award

A specialist plasterer turned free-range pig farmer, Nathan Wall of Baltimore Bacon began curing his own bacon in 2014. He now keeps over 40 free-range Berkshire pigs on his Baltimore farm and sells produce from his own pigs at the weekly farmers’ markets in Bandon and Clonakilty.

As demand grew, he began sourcing free-range pigs through Our Piggy Co-op run by Fingal Ferguson of Gubbeen Smokehouse and locally reared pigs from Staunton’s in Timoleague for the non-free-range produce that he sells through local restaurants and shops.

The range includes smoked and unsmoked bacon and ham, all of which are produced naturally and free from nitrate and additives. Some are simply cured with Atlantic sea salt and raw cane sugar, while the superb dry-cured black bacon is cured with molasses and black pepper. His apple and cider-smoked bacon, available sliced or as a joint, uses Stonewell Cider from a previous IFWG award-winner. The bacon is smoked over hardwood at Gubbeen Smokehouse.

See more on the awards and their background at the Irish Food Writers Guild website http://www.irishfoodwritersguild.ie/index.html




Ornabrak, a ‘distinctive and rare’ Single Malt Gin


Origin Spirits launches a ‘distinctive and rare’ Single Malt Gin 

100% Irish Malted Barley | Five botanicals | Five times pot distilled | 43% Alc.


Ornabrak is the name of the new Irish gin launched at Cask on Monday evening by creator Patrick Shelly. The name ‘Ornabrak’ is derived from the Gaelic ‘Eorna Braiche’ meaning Malted Barley. And the malted barley is a major key here.

Patrick, creator of the successful Kalak vodka, admitted to initially being "not keen to do gin", his personal preferences tending towards whiskey or wine. But then he began to think: "What can we do with it? Most gins have a base spirit of 95% alcohol, a highly industrialised one." 

Patrick and his company, Origin Spirts, were determined to make their own base spirit and so they turned to Irish malted barley, explaining that Ireland is one of the best places in the world for malted barley. They had followed much the same approach with the Kalak vodka, "bringing bright flavours and terroir. It is now one of top ten vodkas in the world so we must be doing something right."

The gin base of 100% Irish Malted Barley is copper pot distilled no less than four times. Then the botanicals are added and it is distilled again, all at the West Cork Distillery in Skibbereen. "Very few drinks are distilled five times," said Patrick.

"So we had this beautiful base spirit. How do we get botanicals to match? We started with a palate of 30 and gradually narrowed it down to five, chosen to complement rather than overpower."

The process was meticulously carried out over 36 distillation trials over 12 months, and with input from some of the world’s best bartenders. And the five selected to create a complex and floral single malt gin were Juniper Berry, Douglas Fir Needles, Garden Angelica Root, Lemon Verbena Leaf and Lemon Peel(a little). The pine needles come from West Cork and are used instead of the more normal coriander.


Now Patrick is happy with his gin:, “Ornabrak is one of very few Single Malt Gin’s being produced around the world and its creation was slightly more complex as we needed the malted barley’s richness and creaminess to shine through, while creating a harmonious balance with the botanicals .  

Well that was the talk. Time now to walk the walk. In truth, we had been appreciating the new gin even before the talk, thanks to Andy and his team at Cask. Patrick reminded us that "a lot of our markets like it neat. It’s not G&T everywhere".

I did sample it neat but mostly we were mixing, and mixing with the best, staying Irish as the tonic was the Classic Poachers. Oisin was there on behalf of the County Wexford company who have established themselves as a leading tonic (other mixers too) in a short space of time. "I love your gin,” he said to Patrick. "And have been fortunate to work on your cocktails since you presented your single malt approach to gin and the execution has been excellent." 

Vesper time
And I think we all agreed as we enjoyed the smooth and complex flavours, the long and persistent finish. And we weren't quite finished as the Kalak Vodka and the Ornabrack made a joint appearance in a James Bond style Martini. You can make your own Vesper, recipe below. Well worth the effort as it is a stunning combination, just sip and enjoy the aromas and flavours.

 Cocktail: The Single Malt Vesper

An Irish take on the Classic Vesper Martini

40ml Ornabrak Single Malt Gin,
10ml Kalak Single Malt Vodka,
5ml Lillet Blanc

Stir with ice and garnish with a lemon peel swirl.


The Bottle
The Ornabrak bottle was inspired by vintage apothecary and perfume bottles, and the label by Victorian botanical illustrations. Each botanical was custom illustrated for Ornabrak by one of Ireland’s leading botanical artists, Lynn Stringer. Lynn is a former gold medal winner at Bloom, has exhibited her works at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Botanical Art show in London and has provided illustrations to the acclaimed Curtis’s Botanical Magazine. Lynn is currently chair of the Irish Society of Botanical Artists

About Origin Spirits

Origin Spirits was founded by Patrick Shelley in 2013 and its has since launched Kalak Single Malt Vodka and Kalak Peat Cask Single Malt Vodka. Ornabrak is the first gin produced by the company. Patrick previously worked in the international luxury goods market, holding senior positions with LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) in France, UK, Germany, Austria, South East Asia, and Russia where he had the opportunity to represent some of the world’s top wine & spirits brands, such as Hennessy, Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon, Veuve Clicquot, Ruinart, Krug, Glenmorangie, Ardbeg and Belvedere.


To Buy
Ornabrak Single Malt Gin (43% alc.) will be available in independent off licences throughout Ireland from 28th May. RSP: ca. 49€.


Courtmacsherry Hotel. Welcome to the Club.


Courtmacsherry Hotel. Welcome to the Club.


In some multi-starred hotels, the fuss they make of you is about as genuine as a Trump tweet. Not the case in the 10 room Courtmacsherry Hotel. Here, the chats are warm and real. You feel you’re part of a social club, you’re not a stranger here.

How about this for social? On a recent Saturday, May 19th, they were catering for a wedding, two communion settings and, yes, two matches on the big screen. And the season hadn’t really started yet. They admit they are struggling a bit to finish off renovations before they go full-time on June 1st. In May, it is open just Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

I was kind of sorry that I wasn't around there on the Saturday but had a great time in Courtmac and surrounds on the sunny Friday. We got that real down to earth Irish welcome and were soon shown up to room number six. 

By the way, if you are booking in here, do ask for a front facing room. Number six has three fairly large windows and two of them have views over the magnificent Courtmacsherry Bay. The renovations hadn't passed it by either and it had all we needed: tea-making facilities, bottled water, new carpet and mat, and a very comfortable bed.

On the way in, there were dozens of people enjoying themselves, not in the hotel's Seven Heads Bar, but in the sun outside, dining and drinking. The hotel building, which dates from Victorian times (you’ll note those high ceilings), provided shelter and also reflected the sun back to diners and drinkers. There is a lovely old tree in the middle of the manicured lawn and lots of rustic style tables and chairs there as well.

On the way down from the city, we had stopped at Kilbrittain (mainly to see the huge skeleton of the fin whale), taken a stroll on the gorgeous beach at Dunworley and had reacquainted ourselves with the bluebells and wild garlic in full flower in Courtmacsherry Wood.

A week earlier, we had dined at the excellent Lifeboat Inn and had spotted their garden and terrace overlooking the bay. It was too cold to sit out on that occasion but we weren't going to miss out this time. Strolled down through the village and called to the Inn. Soon we were out on the terrace, enjoying the splendid views and also enjoying a well deserved pint of ale from Black’s Brewery in Kinsale.

We would renew our support of local in the Seven Heads that night with a gin, also from Black’s. They are not just a brewery, you know, as they also produce this excellent gin and more recently a rum! 

Later, I said I’d try out another gin from Shortcross, one I hadn’t tried before. The lady serving got a bit of a shock when she keyed it in and saw it was costing €10.50 a shot! Something wrong there, I thought, this must be some kind of super-premium. But it was late, the gin was in the glass with the ice so I went ahead with it. An excellent drop indeed but not worth that much! So maybe you'd better check the price if you are ordering it there!

While most of the day to day eating is done in the bar, or outside if the sun shines, breakfast is taken in the eye-catching Cork Tree Bar with its recently exposed original stone walls and unusual candelabras. And it is a very good breakfast indeed. If you like the Full Irish, you’ll get it here, even a mini version if you'd prefer. Plenty of variety with various eggs dishes, waffles also, and kippers. I went for the Scrambled Eggs with the top notch Ummera Smoked Salmon.

Very happy with that. And very happy too with their buffet table. Some great fruit there including fresh strawberries (I assume they were Bushby’s but I didn’t ask), good choices of juices, and also brown bread and tempting pastries and service was friendly (as ever) and efficient too, just one lady keeping the show going without any fuss whatsoever.

And, as we left on Saturday morning, heading for a final walk in the woods and then a visit to Bandon Farmers Market, the staff were getting the outside area spic and span for the visitors (while the bouncy castle was being readied for the kids). The soft covers, having been removed overnight, were being replaced on the chairs and the parasols were being put in place. Another sunny day ahead, another busy one at the friendly little hotel. And hopefully many more in the season ahead.

Just in case you can’t get a booking here in the 3-star hotel, why not try their holiday cottages situated in front of the magnificent woodland and overlooking the bay. All the cottages have central heating, two spacious bedrooms (sleeping 6+) and two fully tiled bathrooms with shower downstairs, towels and linen are supplied.

There is a barbecue area where you can sit out and enjoy the view in a relaxing atmosphere. The cottages come with parking, garden, free Wi-Fi and use of hotel facilities when it is open.

Other recent posts from this area:
The Lifeboat Inn
Monk's Lane

Sunday, May 27, 2018

A Few Beer Classics. Four of the Best


A Few Beer Classics

Four of the Best

St Bernardus Abt 12, 10% abv, 33 cl bottle €4.50 Bradley’s of Cork

This extra strong Belgian barley wine style beer has a large creamy head; colour is golden brown and there are fruity and hoppy elements in the aromas. It is complex and full-bodied, packed with flavour and then a long finish with a hoppy bite. Well balanced overall and no wonder they call it “the pride of our stable”.

Indeed, this quadrupel is regarded as one of the best beers in the world. In the Belgian scheme of beer, quadrupel indicates it is stronger than a tripel, which is stronger than a dubbel. One for sipping then, but each sip packs a beautiful punch. 

St Bernardus, by the way, run a B&B in the brewery. Now that, combined with a tour and tasting, would be some visit. In addition, “B&B Het Brouwershuis is a place to enjoy a gastronomic breakfast buffet, to take the time for a chat and to make use of the unlimited possibilities to explore the region”. Check it out here.  

Thornbridge Jaipur IPA, 5.95%, 33 cl bottle, €3.50, Bradley’s of Cork

The complexity of this multi award winning American style IPA is down to no less than the six hops used: Chinook, Centennial, Ahtanum, Simcoe, Columbus and Cascade. Thornbridge, based in Derby, are regarded by many as Britain’s leading 21st century brewery.

It wears this complexity lightly though and you’ll have no problem sipping your way through this beauty from the UK brewery. It has a fairly cloudy pale yellow colour and hoppy aromas. Smooth on the palate, hoppy, citrus notes too, and a beautiful balance all the way to hoppy finish. Not too much more to say except that this is more or less the perfect IPA. Not surprised that the award tally worldwide has soared to over the one hundred mark.

Saison Dupont (Belgium) 6.5%, €2.95 33cl bottle Bradley’s Cork

Beer has been brewed here for centuries but it is only in the last 20 years or so that the Dupont Brewery has become a global reference for saison. As Michael Creedon of Bradley’s told me “if you don’t like this, you don’t like saison”.

It is a cloudy mid-amber, fountains of micro-bubbles. Aromas of citrus. Light and fruity, zesty and refreshing, yet no shortage of hearty flavour. Reckon any labourer, even a keyboard one, would be happy with this impeccable beer. Superb finish also with the bitterness now to the forefront.

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, 5.6abv, 355ml can at Bradley’s of Cork


This 100% whole-cone Cascade hops beer, with its piney and grapefruit aromas, is a classic, all natural, bottle conditioned and refreshingly bold. And still going strong after 35 years.

Bitterness comes in at 38 and suggested food pairings are grilled steak, citrus salad, Thai curry and roasted veg.

So what does this “turning point for American beer” taste like? Well, it looks like hazy amber in the glass and smells like its well hopped, pine notes coming through. By the time I had written that, the frail white head had more or less vanished. Time for the first sip which was superb, hops and fruit, a terrific mouthful. No wonder it has become a classic, setting the standard for start-up breweries across the world. Viva Nevada!

Just noticed that this Pale Ale has been voted No. 1 in Food & Wine's 25 Most Important American Craft Beers Ever. See the full list here.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Amuse Bouche


Sheila plucked one of the cookies from the tray - a powdery little thing that looked like a puff of smoke. She brought it to her lips and took the tiniest of bites, then carefully spread out one of the linen napkins and placed the cookie on top - a painfully slow ritual that seemed to have nothing to do with eating. ‘I asked you here because I wanted to look in your eye, I can always tell whether they’re lying.’
Amy nodded, unsure of what to say next.

from If I Die Tonight by A. L. Gaylin (2017). Very Highly Recommended.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Other Side of Monk's Lane


The Other Side of Monk's Lane
Temple of Good Food and Drink in Timoleague
Perfect Pork

A country classic, for sure. (McKenna’s).

Those in the know happily take a drive out from Kinsale and Cork city to enjoy Michelle O'Mahony and Gavin Moore’s lovely restaurant. (Georgina’s Campbell’s Ireland Guide).

I have seen the future and it’s in Timoleague. This is a pub that manages to be utterly unpretentious but which also ticks every conceivable box.. (Irish Mail).

Most of you know by now that Monk’s Lane, a gastro-pub in Timoleague, is a must visit. But did you know, that across the lane, they now have a Gin Bar and a private dining area. And, indeed, in the lane itself, there is a beer garden, part of it covered, an inviting summertime venue.
Just some of the good beer (and cider) available here.
That Gin Bar is well endowed and serving a long list of Irish and English gins. The Irish list is as long as your arm, the English almost as long as the other one.

And another distinguishing factor here, since they opened, is the craft beer menu. No  messing here with a token bottle or two. Quite a few by draught and even more by bottle. We were there the other night and I enjoyed Roaring Ruby Red Ale by the West Cork Brewery, one of the best red ales I've come across, fantastic body and flavour all the way from Baltimore (not too far really!).  CL's pick was the Black's 1601 lager.



Here too you may have an aperitif, White Port and tonic for instance. Wine of the Week perhaps? A white from Italy, from Puglia, a Garnacha from Navarra. And there are three  cocktails on offer: based Black’s of Kinsale gin, a Longueville Mór Martini and a Gunpowder Gin du Jour. Wines, by the way, come in five different sized servings, starting with a convenient 100ml.
The burger and salad

You'd never know by these opening paragraphs but we did come here for the food and glad to say it is as varied and as good as ever, local produce well cared for, well cooked and neatly presented and delivered to the table with care and a smile. And at a fair price too.

So let us start! There are eight or nine starters to choose from and also a trio of sharing plates, virtually all featuring local produce. CL picked the Crozier Blue, apple and candied pecan salad. Hard to go wrong with that combination and it was superb, that creamy blue, those delicious nuts.

Mine was a bit more exotic: Lamb Quesadillas, with salsa fresca, salad and lime yogurt. That, with a couple of dips, one cooling, made the taste buds sit up and take notice! Have to say too that the salad leaves in both starters were as fresh as could be and well dressed, simple stuff, simply well done. By the way, each of these starters was also available in a large size.
Crozier Blue salad

On then to the mains and again we were picking from a good long list, everything from Haddock Fish and Chips, to Sea Trout, to 10 ounce sirloin. Garlic and Thyme Marinated Pork Medallions (17.95) was one of our picks and it was served with spring onion mash, char-grilled red onions, apple and raisin chutney and a cranberry gravy. Silence reigned while that was being demolished!

I wasn't doing too much talking myself either as I made my way through quite a delightful plateful: Chorizo and Rosemary Infused Wagyu Beef Burger (18.50) , on a flour bun, topped with melted buffalo mozzarella, homemade aioli, tomato chutney, sautéed onions, hand-cut chips and salad. Some wild garlic in there too. All good, the beef outstanding, loved the chutney, the chips of course and again that salad played a key role providing colour, flavour and crunch.
Be sure and check out the lane to the left!

We were feeling fairly full at this point and dessert was being turned down until we were “persuaded” to share the Rhubarb and Ginger Cake with ice-cream and cream. It didn't last long, the ginger adding a certain “je ne sais quoi” to the combination! 

Just goes to show that one ingredient can lift and distinguish a dish. We had seen it earlier with the chorizo in the burger, the candied pecan with the cheese. Get the big things right and use something small to make the difference. Looks like they do that here a lot. Worth a trip not to mind a detour.

Monk's Lane
15 Mill Street
Timoleague
Co. Cork
tel: 023 884 6348
Web: http://monkslane.ie/ 

See other recent posts from this area:
Courtmacsherry Hotel
The Lifeboat Inn
Monk's Lane


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Stonewell Seasonal Ciders. Taste of the Week. Taste of the Summer!


Stonewell Seasonal Ciders
Taste of the Week. 
Taste of the Summer!

Stonewell Apple & Cucumber Limited Edition Craft Cider 2017, 5.5%, 330ml bottle.



In 2016, Stonewell won the Supreme Champion Award at the Blas na hEireann Awards in Dingle with their Rós, an apple and rhubarb cider, and their current seasonal is this medium dry Apple and Cucumber.

First thing you notice is the huge difference in colours, the cucumber one looking more like a white wine (with hints of green), though with lots of bubbles. The cucumber comes through, gently, on the nose and on the palate. 

Flavours are probably lighter than the Rós but, if anything, are even more refreshing. A light and moreish flavour, as they say themselves, from this combination of Royal Gala apples and a subtle twist of cucumber.


Rós Apple and Rhubarb Limited Edition Craft Cider 2017, 5.5%, 330ml bottle

The Supreme Champion is an all local amalgam. The rhubarb juice is extracted from the produce of Robbie Fitzsimmon’s East Ferry Farm in Cork and blended with the “soft caressing” flavours of the apple juice.

This new batch has a gorgeous mid-gold (no pink!), with fountains of bubbles. Rhubarb comes through on the palate but its tartness is more than balanced by those soft caressing flavours of the apples. An engaging mix indeed from the small but highly innovative team at Nohoval and you can taste why it won a surprise overall gold at Blas.

Both ciders are vegan and coeliac friendly and each should go well with food. Thinking of a salad in the garden with a bottle of the Apple and Cucumber while the Rós should be ideal with the strawberries. Must set that one up while the sun is out!

Stockists
Stockists for both ciders: Bradley’s Cork; 1601 Kinsale; Blackrock Cellar, Co. Dublin; Gibney’s of Malahide, Co. Dublin; No 21 Lismore, Co.Waterford; Paddy Blues, Gorey, Co. Wexford; Redmond’s of Ranelagh, Dublin; Lilac Wines, Dublin 3; Supervalu Kinsale and Clonakilty; Riney’s Bar, Sneem, Co.Kerry. Matson’s Wine Store, Grange and Bandon, Cork.

You may get the Apple and Cucumber at the following O’Brien’s Wines locations:
Ardkeen, Co. Waterford; Beacon, Dublin; City West, Dublin; Blanchardstown, Dublin; Douglas Court, Cork; Dun Laoghaire, Dublin; Glasnevin, Dublin; Malahide, Dublin; Naas, Kildare; Rathgar, Dublin; Rathmines, Dublin; Templeogue Village, Dublin.

Nohoval
Belgooly
Kinsale
Co. Cork.

Late Lunch in the City. How About Dockland?

Late Lunch in the City. How About Dockland?

A trip down town yesterday meant an unexpected but very enjoyable late lunch,  in the sun, at Dockland on Lapps Quay. Superb dishes, full of flavour.


Chargrilled chicken, tomato fondue, Gubbeen chorizo, basil pesto, olive oil mash.
Dockland Fish Cakes, watercress mayonaisse, wilted spinach, red pepper relish.
No big secret here: they use lots of fish in the cakes!

Ideal for a sunny day: Raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake.




Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A Xarel-lo Still Wine. And two other whites.


Xarel-lo Still Wine 
And two other whites.
Albet i Noya Curiós Xarel-lo Penedes (DO) 2016, 12.5%, €13.90 Mary Pawle Wines

This is an organic wine, made from Xarel-lo, the grape synonymous with Cava, in the Penedes region of Catalonia. 

Colour is light straw, very light. Fresh fruit, green and citrus, in the aromas, floral elements too. Fresh too on the supple palate, the flavours combining with the initial aromas to pleasantly surprise the taste buds, lively acidity also, and this lovely white also finishes well.

Food advice comes from the producers: on its own or serve with chicken or risotto dishes. Get a few of these in for the warmer days ahead (coming soon!!!). Highly Recommended. Well priced too, by the way.


Gitton Chantalouette Pouilly Sur Loire (AC) 2013, 12.5%, €20.65 Karwig

A pleasing light straw colour. White fruit aromas of moderate intensity, hint of honey. Smooth on the palate, good mix of white fruit flavours, slight sweetness, and lively acidity before a lip-smacking dry finish. Recommended.

It is a blend of mainly Chasselas and Sauvignon Blanc (10 to 15%) and has spent 3 months in barrel. While there is a town called Chasselas in the French region of Maconnais, Wine-Searcher reckons the grape originated in Switzerland where it is the “most important and widely planted white grape variety” and matches well with traditional local cuisine like fondue. My match: Knockanore Cheddar and a few dried apricots from Lenny's  stall in the Mahon Point Farmers Market.

If you go reading up on this little known grape, avoid Grapes and Vines (Oz Clarke and Margaret Rand). “Suffers from a certain folie de grandeur” is one put down, referring to a Swiss wine. Delusions of grandeur. Don't think that Gitton Père et Fils would agree!

Maison Ambroise Bourgogne Hautes Côtes de Nuits (AOC), 13%, €27.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

This wine is limpid in the glass, the colour a light to mid yellow. Nose is attractive, fresh, peachy. Superb fresh flavours (stone-fruit, citrus) in the mouth, no shortage of acidity either, all the way to a lip-smackingly finish. Recommended.

Maison Ambroise owns organically certified vineyards on some of the finest sites of the Côte de Nuit. I also spotted a mis-translation on the label. Their wines are generally “aged in French oak barrels to give addiction depth and complexity”. You have been warned!