Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Let's Avocuddle at Waterford’s Colourful Candied Hazlenut


Let's Avocuddle at Waterford’s Colourful Candied Hazlenut

The colourful tree, painted between the front door and the window, and climbing up the wall above both, catches your eye as you stroll along O’Connell Street in Waterford City.


There is a plant based restaurant inside and that interior is colourful too, a variety of tables and different coloured chairs, amusingly illustrated cushions scattered around a narrow shelf and a dresser full of pottery pieces.


Even the food is colourful. Gluten free, peanut free and plant based dishes are the order of the day (and of the evening) here and these dishes are full of flavour as well as we found out on a recent lunchtime visit to Teresa Heffernan’s The Candied Hazelnut.

Teresa, the chef/patron, is a busy girl, producing exciting, vibrant and extremely flavourful food using locally sourced produce. The menu changes daily and besides quite a few bits and pieces come from her very own garden.

With a rather big dinner scheduled for that evening, we were looking for something on the lighter side. Teresa has a good sense of humour too. After the first thing on the menu, Soup of the Day, she wrote: it’s too hot for soup folks! And, for most of this July, so it was.


I was tempted by The Bean Taco Fries served with salad (9.95). A terrific combination. The beans were a treat and you’d find it hard to get better fries.
Bean Taco Fries

At the other side of the table, the Blueberry Pancake Stack with Maple Syrup (5.95) was being eagerly demolished. And no shortage of blueberry. A few loose on the plate but plenty buried in the pancakes as well. Very very tasty indeed.

And we washed it all down with a a bottle each of the VitHit Apple and Elderflower (2.95,), a mid-day drink I’m getting to like, despite it costing forty five cent more here than I paid for it in Killaloe the previous week. They also sell bottled beer and wine by the glass and bottle. The wines (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvigon Blanc and Chardonnay) are all Chilean, all by Alameda, available by the bottle (€20), by the carafe and by the glass.

Some tempting dessert here also but we said we’d better give them a skip on this occasion. We certainly enjoyed our visit to this bright and colourful and high ceilinged dining room.

Also on this trip:
Lunch at Spectacular Cliff House
Everett's new Waterford restaurant
Another colourful building on O'Connell Street



Four Beers. Two Comparisons. Two Aces. Festival News


Four Beers. Two Comparisons. Two Favourites.

Table Beers

I bought four beers in Bradley’s of Cork the other day, for comparison purposes, two table beers and two with a large lemon element.

So lets start with the pair of Table Beers, better known to me as Saisons. White Hag, who produced the No. 40 in collaboration with Brew by Numbers, helpfully give a definition of the style on the can.

No. 40 is a true farmhouse saison, it represents a beer style that would have been produced all around the world to quench the thirst of farm-hands, and new-world settlers alike. It is produced from the second runnings of a much stronger beer, that would have been reserved in casks for consumption in the dearth months of sustenance. The table beer was just that, a beer for the table, consumed instead of raw water to ensure health. Light in alcohol, it could be consumed by everyone without fear of inebriation and dehydration.

I’m sure you’ll find definitions with more technical clarity but there you have the gist of it.


White Hag No.40 Table Saison, 2.6% abv , 440ml can

White Hag: Superb collaborative brew with Brew By Numbers. This Table Saison is a classic farmhouse beer in true old world style but with all the frills and fair that modern brewing has to offer. An absolute delight in the sunshine.

An absolute delight in the sunshine, they say, but the sun had gone by the time I got to drinking this very pale yellow cloudy beer with light citrus aromas. That light citrus continues onto the palate and there is a fair bit of cutting on the finish. Didn’t make a great impression though. One can would be my max and then time to move on to something like the Kinnegar below.

Kinnegar Skinny Legs Table Beer 3.5%abv, 440ml can

This new Skinny Legs, “the 3.5% table beer we made together with the participants of our first K2 brewing academy, is rolling off the canning line with a smile on its face”.

Colour is a healthy looking mid amber. Moderately fruity aromas. Maybe not fully powered up on alcohol but much more flavour here. If I were a labourer after a hard day’s work, reckon I’d much prefer to be coming back to this saison rather than to the Hag. No contest. 

Kinnegar have announced that from now on “our new beers will come under the 'Brewers at Play' banner. Because that's what they're really all about — giving the brewers and our customers a bit of variety and allowing us to test new ideas and trends. If we (and you!) like it enough, the beer will eventually get a label all of its own.” Go for it lads!

When Life Sends You Lemons… 

Whiplash Sunshine Under Ground Lemon Smoothie Pale Ale, 5.4%, 440ml can
Colour: Cloudy mid yellow, unfiltered and unpasteurised. Lots of lemon in the ingredients and on the palate. This has notes of Lemon Meringue. Silky and smooth, with a touch of creamy sweetness and a zesty finalé. I rather like this one!

It is brewed "for Whiplash by Whiplash at Larkin’s Brewery in County Wicklow" and is their response to the long-lasting scorcher we had here in Ireland. Of course, when I get my hands on it, the scorcher has retreated. Still, no need to deprive myself of enjoying this beauty.

Techie bits: 
Sunshine Under Ground focuses on Pilsner, Raw Wheat, Oats and sweet, sweet Lactose for its base before getting an addition of Cascade, Lemondrop and natural lemon zests in the whirlpool. Fermented on our house English Ale Yeast, it’s then ‘double dry-zested’ (DDZ?) using more and more of those beautiful lemon zests building and building to 10g/L of zesty fucking madness. The eye-catching artwork on the can is by Sophie Devere.

White Hag The Púca Dry Hopped Lemon Sour (Lime, Mint and Matcha), 3.5, 330ml can
Fairly pale lime colour on this new beer, launched at Hagstravaganza. If you like pure lemon juice, you may well enjoy this. While the Whiplash is a sweet-ish lemon then this is bitterly sour. Tart and refreshing? Well the first part is true. Might well be a thirst quencher. But not my style, at all.

Coming up:
Sourfest at The Bierhaus Cork from Thursday 2nd to Monday 6th. "Huge selection of Sour Beers on Tap!". Plus food, music and tastings.

August 10th and 11th: Bands, Breweries, Speakers, Discussions as Franciscan Well Celebrates Women in Beer 

16-19 August 2018 | No shortage of good beer at Big Grill Fest, Ireland’s only International BBQ Festival | Food | Fire | Smoke | Craft Beer | Music | Herbert Park, Dublin



Monday, July 30, 2018

Taste of the Week. Kay O’Connell’s Wild Sea Trout


Taste of the Week
Kay O’Connell’s Wild Sea Trout

Nosing around the English Market last Friday and spotted a hand-written* sign up on the O’Connell Fish Stall drawing attention to their Wild Sea Trout. Brought a couple of fillets home and the Official Blog Chef turned them into our Taste of the Week.

This noble trout, full of flavour, is worth every cent. Pan-fried, skin side first. Peas and spinach from the garden were recruited. Potatoes were diced, garlic and herb added, and cooked in a very high oven before the other veg were added and tossed with the potatoes.

So there you, no great fuss but a fantastic Taste of the Week.

* He’ll probably type them when he opens in Bishopstown!

K O’Connell Fish Merchants
English Market
Grand Parade
Cork

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Lunch at Rugby Legend’s Killaloe Restaurant


Lunch at Rugby Legend’s Killaloe Restaurant
Keith Wood's Up and Running at Home Venue


Chicken Burger

When up the country, and what a country it is, we often ignore the straight way home to Cork. Never know what you’ll find on a detour. 

Although, to be frank, when we left Galway and headed for Cork via Killaloe, we had a good idea of what we’d find on the delightful Shannonside. Call to Wood and Bell, we had been told, the restaurant opened last November on Main Street, Killaloe, by local and Irish rugby legend Keith Wood and business partner Malcom Bell.


We had been to Killaloe previously. It, and Ballina across the bridge in Tipperary, are beautifully located by the Shannon, just below Lough Derg. From Scarrif down, we were close to the lake and stopped at one spot nearer to Killaloe, where dozens of families were enjoying the sun both in the cool water (well, I presume it was cool!) and on the grassy banks.


Soon we were in the little town and looking for Wood and Bell. It is easily found, on main street, and we were lucky enough to get parking just outside. We were welcomed in and seated by the window with the menus at hand.


Lunch is served Wednesday to Friday between 12 noon and 3.00pm and you have a pretty good choice: salads, sandwiches, wraps, meatballs,  Nachos, scampi, burgers. Soup and chowder too but maybe a bit too hot for that particular day!

I go for the Crispy Buttermilk Chicken, Roast Garlic Aioli, salad leaves, tomatoes and crispy onions and fries of course. And I get quite a surprise when a burger arrives at the table. But that’s where I find my chicken - pity they didn’t say that on the menu. In any case, I get stuck in and enjoy every little bite.



No mistaken identity though with OBC’s choice: Open Wrap with Roast Mediterranean vegetables, mozzarella, pesto, rocket and olives. Quite a lovely dish, really full of flavour.


Wood and Bell has the advantage of having their own walled garden nearby, overlooking Lough Derg and the River Shannon. The garden, cared for by Wood and his wife Nicola, now produces much of the fruit, vegetables and herbs for the kitchens.

They do a Kids Menu here also and desserts. You can also get wine and bottled beer here (including some craft). We enjoy an non-alcoholic beverage on this occasion, one with a sporting connection. The VitHit range comes in a number of flavours, in 500ml bottles and is reasonably priced. We had the Lean and Green Apple and Elderflower one. Quite a treat!

By the way, they have a spacious and impressive room upstairs where you can enjoy dinner. Check the website for all the details.

After the meal, we headed down and over the bridge to Ballina. There was a cruise just about to set off for the lake. We were tempted but, as we had been on the boat on the Corrib the day before, gave it a skip, promising we’d be back to this lovely place, another gorgeous corner of the Hidden Ireland.

Main Street,
Killaloe,
Co. Clare, V94 AK57
info@woodandbell.com
+353 61 517480

Friday, July 27, 2018

Amuse Bouche


Soap clicked his fingers and called for the coats, his voice somehow able to compete with the string quartet’s crescendo. The maître d’ approached tentatively. His voice, when he was within earshot.. was honey; too sweet to be wholesome.

“And how would sir wish to settle the bill tonight?”
“He wouldn’t,” Soap said.
“I don’t quite follow. Is it the lady’s treat, perhaps?”
“No.” Soap puffed his chest.”The food was atrocious and the wine was mediocre. You phoney bastards don’t deserve a dime.”
“Sir, if there’s been—“
“This isn’t a negotiation, pal. Chalk it up to customer dissatisfaction and step aside."
“Surely there is some way we can settle this amicably?”
….
“Yeah, you can get the fuck out of my way, and put a little more effort in next time.”


from Disorder by Gerard Brennan (2018). Very Highly Recommended.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

At The Busy New Yorker for Lunch


Lunch at Cork International Hotel
The Busy New Yorker
gin and lemon

It is big, bright and comfortable. And the New Yorker, the restaurant bar at Cork International Hotel, is abuzz as we sit down to try out the new lunch menu. The busy staff remain friendly and efficient as even more punters arrive and the large space begins to totally fill up.

There are two main choices here, both on the same menu card. There is the Deli Menu, mainly a carvery where you can have your meat, fish or curry (all about 12,50). Carvery dishes are served with creamed potatoes and seasonal veg. Also available are sandwich, salad, quiche and various combinations with soup.
taco

We were interested in the main lunch menu. This includes Soup of the Day, the International Toasted Special, Southern Fried Chicken Wrap, Toonsbridge Open Mozzarella Sandwich (on warm tomato focaccia), Ardsallagh Goats Cheese Salad (including Wexford strawberries!), a Caesar Salad, a Health Food Salad and Quiche of the Day.

Some great choices there. Hard to pick one but I went for the Slow Cooked Pulled Beef Sandwich BBQ Sauce, Mushrooms, Onions, Emmental Cheese, Spicy Mayo,Toasted Ciabatta, Sweet Potato Fries (12.50). Packed full of flavour, superb beef, the ciabatta a perfect “wrap” and those tasty fries, all well cooked and neatly presented. Quite a delicious plateful.
beef

And the Chef Special Taco (Your choice of Slow Roasted Pork, Prawn or Chicken) Tomato, Mango, Coriander, Cucumber Salsa, Guacamole Dip, Soft Shell Taco was well appreciated by the OBC. She choose the chicken and the whole colourful, slightly spicy, totally delicious combination, again with those Sweet Potato fries, was another winner.

And they’ve got even more on this list: a Vegetable Thai Green Curry; McCarthy’s Prime Double Beef Burger; Atlantic Fish and Chips; and a West Cork Seafood Platter. Something for everyone here.

Would we go for dessert? Yes, we would. Early on I had spotted the Cork Dry Gin and Lemon Parfait. You know I finished that, every little drop, well every little bit. Our other dessert was the Apple and Cinnamon Pudding, a large chunk of it but nicely moist and well made and well appreciated also.
apple and cinnamon

By the way, if you don’t have time for a full lunch or arrive in between meal times, you may avail of the New Yorker Lobby menu. And the New Yorker now accepts payments made with Apple Pay (limit of €30.00 per transaction). Check out all the menus on the website below.




Cork International Hotel
Cork Airport Business Park
Co. Cork, T12 H516

Opening Hours at the New Yorker
12:00 – 17:00 Lunch Menu (Daily)
17.00 – 22:00 Full Dinner Menu (Daily)

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Out of Africa: A Wine and A Novel. “Inspiration” from the Rhone


Domaine de la Zouina Volubilia Rouge Classic Morocco (VDQS) 2012, 13.5%, €18.45 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

In 2001, two French golfers went to Morocco to play. A few stray shots later and they bought this estate. Gérard Gribelin (Chateau de Fieuzal) and Philippe Gervoson (Chateau Larrivet-Haut-Brion) knew their stuff, invested in their new 85 hectare vineyard and soon their Bordeaux experience was reaping rewards in Africa.

This Volubilia is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), with Syrah, Mourvedre and Tempranillo and has a mid to dark cherry colour. Nose is fairly intense with cherry, blackcurrant, meat and smoke. Big supple palate, juicy and fruity and just a hint of soft tannins, a touch of spice also. A velvety soft red with a long dry finish. 

Volubilis, a partly excavated Berber and Roman settlement and an UNESCO heritage site, is 45 minutes away from the vineyard and in this series of wines you’ll also find a white, a rosé and a gris. And that gris featured in the 2017 novel There was a crooked man  by Irish writer Cat Hogan. Both the wine and the thriller are Highly Recommended.

Domaine de la Ville Rouge “Inspiration” Croze-Hermitage (AP) 2015, 13%, €22.95 

This gorgeous youngish Syrah is organically produced, matured 12 months in stainless steel (80%) and in oak (20%). Try it, they say, with poultry, red meats ad cheese. I had it with a fairly young cheddar and it was perfect.

It has quite a dark red robe. Plum and spice on the nose, rather ripe plums. Fresh and medium bodied, that plum is an assertive character on the concentrated palate, good acidity though, close to smooth tannins, approachable and easy-drinking, yet with a certain elegance. Young or not, this is a fairly serious wine and Very Highly Recommended. By the way, no guarantee that a glass of Inspiration will lead to a novel!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Con's Irish Cider. The Real Thing!


Con's Irish Cider Medium Dry, 5.5%, 500ml bottle

Got myself some of this delicious cider when I recently called to its “birthplace”, the Apple Farm owned and run by Con Traas near Cahir in County Tipperary.

Provenance needs to be clearly stated these days. This is real Irish cider made from seasonal Irish apples grown on the farm where visitors are always welcome. Indeed, they have a camping site in among the orchards.

A pity that we have to keep banging on abut real cider, real beer, even real food. But there are many producers out there quite willing to muddy the water and often the consumer is confused.

Con has thought long and hard about a definition and has come up with this. Real Irish Cider is made and bottled in its entirety in Ireland using the juice of Irish grown apples, without the routine addition of either water or sugar. See the Apple Farm website for more info.

Con’s Cider has a bright mid amber colour with lots of lively little bubbles. Modest but definite aromas, hints of the fruit. On the palate is where you notice the “real” element, supple and flavoursome, more on the dry side of medium, and with a good dry finish. Enjoy!

That initial burst of flavour in the mouth reminded me of something Brooklyn brewer Garrett Oliver said at Ballymaloe LitFest a few years ago: You hear people say, when they taste a craft beer: This is nice, doesn't taste like beer. He had an explanation: ‘The beer they grew up with didn't taste like real beer!’


Taste of the Week A Sheridan’s Cheese and Jam Double


Taste of the Week
A Sheridan’s Double

Sheridan’s get the credit for our current Taste of the Week. It’s a double and features one product bought in their Galway store during a recent visit to the City of the Tribes and another product bought in Bradley’s of Cork but distributed by Sheridan’s.

The product from Bradley’s is a semi-circle of Cashel Blue made, as always, by the Grubb family in Tipperary, but selected, matured and distributed by Sheridan’s.

So there I was one lunchtime with that Cashel Blue at hand and wondering how I’d enhance it. And then I remembered being served Black Cherry jam with sheep’s cheese in the Basque Country. I had the very thing in the cupboard: a big pot of artisan made Confiture Cerise Noire (my purchase from Sheridan's).



A perfect pairing and a delicious Taste of the Week. Lots of that jam left, so it looks as if I’ll be heading to Bradley’s for more cheese. Indeed, I may well also keep an eye out for that new hard sheeps cheese by Velvet Cloud.

By the way, I also found another match for the cheese, a bottle of Gerard Bertrand’s Banyuls Vin Doux Naturel (from O’Brien’s Wine). Not the whole bottle, mind you, a little sip will do! 

Monday, July 23, 2018

Cliff House Hotel. New Menu. Bar above. Sea below.

Cliff House Hotel. New Menu.
Bar above. Sea below.
Salmon

Some people wanted a table in the sun. Some preferred to be in the shade. And a few stayed indoors. We were on the terrace at The Bar in the Cliff House on one of the sunniest days of this sunny summer. Earlier we had been walking on the Waterford Greenway and so we two settled for a place in the semi-shade to try out the new bar menu at this superbly situated hotel.
Looking out to sea

A glass of Rebel Red and lots of water helped cool things down as we studied that inviting menu, divided into sections: From the Garden, From the Land, From the Sea, Irish beef from McGrath’s and Sheelin,  Small Bites and Snacks, Sides, and Desserts. And also a Dish of the Day. This superb well-priced menu is served 12 noon to 4.00pm and 6.00pm to 9.00pm.

Service, we noticed, is rather leisurely here. In any case, it is the kind of spot you come to slow down, take in the fantastic views out to the ocean and back towards the curve of Ardmore beach. A “school” of young wanna-be sailors gather below at the base of the cliff and add a riot of colour. Who’s in a rush?
Asparagus
Spring rolls

So, eager to try out as much as possible, we pick and choose from under the various headings. My Green Asparagus Peperonata, Burrata, Almonds (9.75) comes from the Garden, maybe the Garden of Eden it is so tempting, so delicious.

Oysters, Iberico Ham and Organic Olives come under the Small Bites and Snacks section. So the Official Blog Chef (OBC) gets a surprise when she sees no less than three Skeaghanore Duck Spring Rolls (7.50) arrive. And they are packed with that renowned duck meat, rich and satisfying. She feels the energy lost on the Greenway flowing back!
Below the bar's terrace

A bit of a gap between round one and two. But the second phase is just as impressive. My pick, From the Sea, is the Organic Irish Smoked Salmon (12.50 small & 21.50) Mi-Cuit, Buttermilk, Dill Oil, Radish. I take the starter portion. The quantity is enough and the quality is off the charts. Just superb and the buttermilk, dill oil and radish make a great match with the warm flaky flavoursome fish.
Terrine

View from Table 40
Table number on the stone!


And it’s thumbs up at the other side of the table also as OBC tucks into the well presented (they are all well presented) Guinea Fowl Terrine Pickled Vegetables, Brioche, Parsley, Mayonnaise (9.50) that comes out of the Land section.

The Lemon and Cream pot with Blackwater Gin was calling me from the dessert menu but, having enjoyed a hearty breakfast earlier in the Granville in Waterford, we had had enough and so reluctantly bade goodbye to the lovely crew at The Bar. 

With so much much delicious food on that menu, we promised ourselves a return visit! After all, the hotel is just 53 minutes from the eastern side of Cork City (and Google Maps often over-estimate). No excuse.

Also on this trip:
The Candied Hazelnut
Everett's New Waterford Restaurant

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Getaway to the City of the Tribes. Two Days in Galway.


Getaway to the City of the Tribes. 
Two Days in Galway.
Banners of the tribes

Galway city centre is compact and it is often packed. Finding parking can be a problem so we’re happy when our guesthouse suggests we park there on College Road and stroll into the centre even though we arrive well before the given check-in time. 


Eight minutes after leaving the car we arrive in sunny Eyre Square, so sunny in fact that people are seeking shade. A group of French students have gathered under one particular tree and have squeezed into the roughly circular shadow underneath.
Wine bottles in museum

The sun is at its high peak, signalling time for lunch. We exit the square and head for the pedestrian area, amble right down to the Spanish Arch and a lovely restaurant, simply called Kitchen, attached to the Galway City Museum. Enjoyed the meal here

Later we take a walk by the waters and find our own patch of shade for a siesta of sorts before heading back to the museum. Opened in 2006, and still a work in progress, the museum proclaims itself as a “collecting museum”. So you see many objects associated with the area, some donated by locals and friends (not mutually exclusive) and quite a few shared by the National Museum. 
Galway Hookers in the museum - not the life size one!

There are six main headings: Prehistoric, Medieval and Post medieval, World War 1, The 1916 Rising and aftermath, Pádraic Ó’Conaire, 19th and 20th Century Galway. Objects include some beautiful old wine bottles (probably 17th century). Galway had a shell factory during the Great War and there is a shell on display here.  You’ll also see some old clay tobacco pipes (dúidíns). 

In the mid 1960s, Galway won three All-Ireland football titles in a row and that feat is enthusiastically celebrated. The bigger items include an Ó’Conaire statue and the biggest is what looks like a full size replica of a Galway Hooker. No, not a pint of the local brew, but the famous work-boat of the area. Admission is free. Details here.  
Rear of the restaurant Ard Bia at Nimmo's

After that, we retraced our steps, more or less, under the Spanish Arch, up through Quay Street, High Street and Shop Street, shuffling along with and against the other pedestrians, listening to and looking at the various buskers and street entertainers, and finding ourselves back in Eyre Square. We had a seen an illustration of the Tribes of Galway in the museum and in the square they are commemorated with a series of large banners.

The tribes were the families that effectively ran the city from the 15th to the 17th centuries. They were: Athy, Blake, Bodkin, Browne, Darcy, Deane, Font, French, Joyce, Kirwan, Lynch, Martin, Morris and Skerret. In 1493, the mayor and magistrate of Galway James Lynch FitzStephen, condemned and hanged his own son, an incident that is quoted as giving rise to the term “lynching”. The building, Lynch’s Castle, still exists and is now used by AIB. 
Students in the shade

Fishery Watchtower
Later we were back in the city centre for dinner at the Michelin starred Aniar, details here,  and then it was time for a night at our excellent base, the Ardawn House. Here, we had everything we needed, including that private parking!

Mike and Breda are exceptional hosts, always willing to go that extra mile, so that their guests enjoy themselves, not just while they’re in the house, but also when they go out and about during the day. Nothing is a problem here - they’ll give you all the local information you’ll need but in such a way that it’s your choice. In other words, they’ll give you the info but won't force their opinions on you. And, by the way, you’ll also have an excellent breakfast before you’ll leave their friendly place.

On the second day, we visited the very small fisheries museum, tracing the fishery story from 1283, in a restored Fishery Watchtower at Druid Lane. 

The highlight though was our cruise on the Corrib Princess. You join the boat in the Woodquay area and head up-river passing the cathedral, the university campus, a couple of castle ruins (Terryland and the more impressive Menlo), before reaching the impressively expansive Lough Corrib, the biggest lake in the republic. It is a very pleasant trip, especially in the exceptional sunshine, and out and back takes about 90 minutes.

We had lunch earlier, and a very nice one too, at McCambridge’s, a Galway icon, details here.
And later, we called in to Sheridan’s, the famous cheese mongers and picked up a few bits and pieces, cheese not so much as most of it is available in Cork. 

Dinner would be at the King’s Head Bistro, a delicious meal based on local produce including fish of course. And we then adjourned to the lively King's Head bar in a medieval building, But nothing medieval about the food and drink here, lots of craft drinks (including Galway Hooker), cocktails galore, music (after the World Cup game) and lots of craic. Read about it here. A terrific evening to remember a terrific visit by. Slán go fóill!



SUP: On the Corrib river, and below


Menloe Castle ruins



Saturday, July 21, 2018

Amuse Bouche


Joan’s lemon meringue pie was one of the most glorious things I had ever put in my mouth: warm, painfully sharp lemon filling, the most airy pastry imaginable and a billowing hat of thick, teeth-judderingly sweet meringue. She squeezed the juice of five lemons into the filling, enough to make you close one eye and shudder. The pie was always served warm, so the filling oozed out like a ripe Vacherin.

from Toast by Nigel Slater (2003). Highly Recommended.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Sunday Lunch Supreme at Barnabrow


Sunday Lunch Supreme at Barnabrow
Smoked salmon

When you think of Barnabrow, I bet you think of weddings. They are good, very good, at weddings here. But they do much more besides, including a tremendous Sunday lunch, local produce superbly cooked and presented by Head Chef Stuart Bowes. At twenty four euro for two courses and twenty eight for three (with tea or coffee also included), it is also excellent value.

We were back there last Sunday, the first wet one in a long time, for a lovely leisurely lunch. Not so leisurely though for the chef and his crew. Barnabrow is getting quite a name for its breads. The preparation started on Saturday and the sourdough was finished off on Sunday. I can tell it was well worth the wait, as good as you’ll get anywhere. Though you may not get it exactly like this anywhere else as Chef Bowes, reckons local kitchen conditions play a part in the final outcome.

And local plays a big role here. When Stuart arrived here over six years ago from the Hayfield Manor, he began to revitalise the walled garden and that is now a key supply source for him. And he relies on local suppliers for much of the rest, including meat and fish.
Black pudding

As we sample the sourdough, we take a look at the menu. There is a choice of four starters, four mains and four desserts. There’s Whipped Ardsallagh Gloats Cheese listed and also a Potato and Leek Soup with truffled cream.

My pick though is the Oak smoked salmon with Garden Beetroot, caper and herb dressing and vegetable crisps. The salmon is top notch, moist and smooth and full of flavour and is enhanced by the dressing and also by the combination with the crunchy chips made locally by farmers Sandra and Joe Burns. A lovely dish.

The Clonakilty Black Pudding Salad, with crispy potatoes, Feta, apple and semi-dried tomato dressing is quite a plateful but OBC makes short work of it, enjoying the flavours and the textures. This dish is very popular at wedding dinners and we can see why!
Beef

Courgette are now in season and feature on the mains menu, served with new potatoes, sauce vierge,  garden basil pesto and Parmesan cream. The fish option is Seared fillet of Seabass with Garden Courgettes, sauce vierge,  garden basil pesto.

OBC goes for the Chargrilled Chicken Supreme, new potatoes, garden herbs, Ballyhoura wild mushrooms and Parmesan cream. Another delicious combination.
Chicken

My pick is the Roast Sirloin of O’Connell’s beef, with horse-radish creamed kale, roast shallots and red wine jus. Magnificent. Cooked to perfection with unreal flavours and that creamed kale was something else. 

Dessert
And, speaking of something else, the side dishes were also superb, beautiful roast potatoes (nicely judged fat and salt applied) and outstanding vegetables (enhanced with a scatter of chopped almonds). Nothing went back, not even a sliver of an almond!

And dessert? We could have had Red Wine Poached Pear stuffed with Praline, Valrhona Chocolate Marquise with summer berry, or a selection of ice-cream and sorbet. But we could manage just one between us and enjoyed the Roast Peanut Parfait, with strawberry sauce and (very tasty) marshmallows.

Coffee followed as did some gorgeous rum and raisin petit fours. As we drove home, we were thinking that the excellent meal might have had one or the other nodding off during the World Cup final but no danger of that as France and Croatia served up a goal fest.