Sunday, July 15, 2018

Dooks Fine Food. Fethard’s Medieval Walls. And a call to the Apple Farm.


Dooks Fine Food. Fethard’s Medieval Walls.
And a call to the Apple Farm.
Salmon and salads at Dooks in Fethard

My latest trip to Tipp saw me take a walk along the medieval area of Fethard, lunch in Dooks restaurant, and call to the Apple Farm, near Cahir, on the way home. 

People go to Fethard to mostly visit the Coolmore Stud and dine or drink or both in John McCarthy’s famous establishment on the Main Street but I did neither, holding them back for the next trip! McCarthy’s, by the way, is a busy spot. It is one of Ireland’s oldest unchanged pubs, is also a restaurant and, believe it or not, an undertakers. Be careful which menu you ask for.


No such problems at Dooks Fine Food which has a prime position at the bottom of the main street, alongside the Clashawley River, at the junction of the Clonmel and Urlingford roads and opposite a large car park. Richard Gleeson’s restaurant and deli is spacious and bright, lots of local food for you to enjoy inside, or on the seats outside and, of course, at home if you shop at the deli.

Chicken and salads at Dooks
Fethard, by the way, is hardly an hour from the east side of Cork city - you have the M8 motorway for the majority of the way and that leaves just about 16 kilometres on secondary roads.Take the Cashel exit and you’ll have no problem finding the little town. And no problem finding Dooks either.

Richard was preparing a large plateful of a colourful Mozzarella salad when we arrived. It was eye-catching and tempting and featured in our lunch, well at least one serving of it. Dooks had opened long before that of course as they do breakfast here, served from 7.30am. Quite a choice including a very interesting looking fry of Rosemary, orange and fennel sausage, oven roasted tomatoes, fried eggs and Dooks white yeast toast.
The walls of Fethard

But back to the lunch. My pick was the Roast salmon fillet, with horseradish cream and pickled shallot and that came with my choice of two salads: Roasted aubergine, balsamic reduction, toasted mixed seeds, feta and mint, and the second one of roasted carrots, toasted sunflower seeds, pickled shallots, Dooks ricotta and tarragon. Quite a plateful (for 13.50), full of good stuff, even those seeds a lovely feature.

It was the OBC (official blog chef) who got the delightful cherry tomato, Toonsbridge Mozzarella and basil salad. She also choose the Roasted aubergine and her meat was the Lemon, Garlic and Buttermilk marinated chicken supreme with rocket pesto, another plateful of well cooked produce, well presented and well dispatched.
North Gate in Fethard

We did have a look at the short but “well-formed” wine list, spotting some favourites there such as the Bodegas Menade Verdejo from Rueda and the Domaine Chaume Arnaud Vinsobres from the Rhone. But we stuck with the non-alcoholic, a refreshing Sparkling Elderflower by local producers Irish Hedgerow. With the sun beating down outside, we also skipped the coffee and were a little sorry for that omission when we spotted some delightful pastries as we paid at the counter. Next time!
Apple Farm
We had walked around the very impressive medieval remains, before lunch, following the long stretch of wall (parts dating from 1292) by the river and moving by the various gates, Water Gate, East Gate and, most impressively, North Gate, also the cluster of two castles and the old Holy Trinity Church (key available at O’Sullivan’s pharmacy).
The Fethard Town Hall (right)

Holy Trinity Church
Fethard
The Town Hall has had variations and alterations and various functions since its 16th century beginning and is now in use for tourist purposes. Here too you will find the Fethard Horse Country Experience and from here you may arrange a tour of Coolmore Stud. Check it all out here.  I’ll be doing just that the next time I’m in Fethard.

On the way back to Cork, we made a short detour from the M8 to the Apple Farm on the Clonmel road. And stocked up on jams, cider, and fruits, including some of the delicious juicy sweet cherries. It is a busy spot but the drought is taking its toll and plums, we heard, may not be as plentiful as last year when the harvest comes in.
Indeed, a day after our visit, owner Con Traas was tweeting: The last rain fell at our farm on 19/6, a mere 0.2mm drizzle. Since May 11th (2 months to the day) we have recorded 23.2mm total (about a weeks rain here in normal circumstances). We have exceeded the criteria for both absolute drought and partial drought.

I know the constant sun has been great this year but we could do with some rain now! Wonder what the weather was like in Fethard when those Norman builders were hard at it all those centuries ago.


Recent Tipp calls:


Not so recent:



Saturday, July 14, 2018

Amuse Bouche


She opened the top and the smell of bacon and warm bread billowed out. Her stomach growled.
‘It’s good,’ the man said. ‘I had one earlier. Eat.’
Andra knew she shouldn’t. He could have put anything in it. But the smell. And she was so hungry. She reached inside the bag, pulled out half a sandwich, took a bite.
‘Why don’t you sit down,’ he said. ‘Give me five minutes to explain.’
She perched on the edge of the bed, chewed, swallowed. ‘You’ve got till the end of this sandwich,’ she said. ‘Now talk.’

from Here and Gone by Haylen Beck (2017). Very Highly Recommended.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Hard To Pick A Winner! Two Good Wines from Croatia (Istria) and France (Jurancon).


Pick A Winner! Two Good Wines from Croatia (Istria) and France (Jurancon). With France and Croatia meeting in Sunday's World Cup final, I thought I'd sneak in these two excellent wines. Hard to pick a winner! Enjoy the wines. And the match.

Matoševic Alba “Malvasia Istriana” 2016, 13%, €22.99 JJ O’Driscoll Cork, Wine Online

This wine, imported by Liberty, is Croatian and comes from the Istrian peninsula, the largest peninsula in the Adriatic Sea. The grape is Malvazija Istarka - easier to pronounce the version on the label (above). Malvasia  has probably been best described by Oz Clark when he said: “..the thing about Malvasia - it’s not so much a single grape as a whole family”. So you don’t get similar results.

There has been some ageing on fine lees but no oak and the winemaker, Ivica Matoševic, has been called “Croatia’s best winemaker” by no less than Steven Spurrier.

This has a quite light straw colour. It is well scented, white fruit and blossoms, and mineral notes too. Flavours are fresh and concentrated, mouthfeel is smooth (the time on lees has helped), and there is super acidity and a long minerally finish. The very good first impression is maintained and Highly Recommended is the verdict!


Domaine Laguilhon Jurancon sec (AP) 2016, 13%, €19.99 JJ O’Driscoll Cork, Wine Online

This Jurancon is a blend of Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng, 50% each. It has spent 9 months on lees “to enrich the palate”. The vineyards, in the foothills of the Pyrenees, are in Monein, and are “known for making richer styles of Jurancon’.

It is a pale yellow with green tints. Scents of white fruits (pears apples), floral notes also. Fresh fruit on the palate, citrus becoming prominent, vivacious acidity, lovely mouthful and a lip-smacking finish. Highly Recommended.

I noted the “sec” on the label. And that reminded me of a visit to the Dordogne. On arrival in Sarlat on our first night, we rushed down to the local Lidl (the only shop open) so stock up. I took charge of the wines and spotted a cardboard box full of Jurancon on the floor . From an earlier holiday in the Pays Basque, I knew this to be a lovely dry white so I grabbed one and put it in the trolley.

But we needn’t have rushed to Lidl as our host plied us with red wine in the gite and the Jurancon was left in the bag. Pulled it out the following day and looked at it. Saw that it was a deep yellow colour. Checked the back and saw the Moelleux word.

Not too impressed. I didn't like sweet wines then, only dry. Still, by this stage, we had plenty in the gîte and said we’d try it as an aperitif, as suggested on the bottle. Love at first taste. Aperitif and also dessert. Can't remember what we had in between. And if you like the Moelleux (don’t think I’ve ever seen one here though), you might like to try the delicious sweet wines from the area (which are regularly featured on restaurant lists in Ireland).

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Sarabande's GSM. Where Syrah dances on a windy hill. And partners well with Grenache and Mourvedre.


Sarabande's GSM. Where Syrah dances on a windy hill
And partners well with Grenache and Mourvedre.
Isla and Paul, when I
met them in Cork

The Syrah for the wines below is trellised across the top of a windy hill in the Languedoc that was planted with the aid of dynamite. The earth is completely made up of classic blue/grey schist with practically no topsoil. Therefore the rock had to be blown up so that the vines could find some dirt where they could anchor.

Despite these kind of local obstacles, there are more vines growing in the Languedoc than in Australia. Paul Gordon should know. He is Australian and he and his Carlow wife Isla work (and I mean work) the Sarabande vineyard, about twenty minutes drive from Beziers. The rugby-loving couple’s vineyard is called Domaine la Sarabande. 

They met in New Zealand in 2003 and then spent five or six years in wine in Marlborough. In 2009, they settled in France and raised some €40,000 from relations and friends in return for wine in the future. Isla: “There is just the two of us. We are very small; everything is gently worked and done by hand..” 

With so many vineyards in the area, there is much competition locally and so the pair export most of their wine, mainly to English speaking countries. And indeed, those same countries (Ireland, US, Australia and New Zealand) are all happy with the Sarabande screw caps but not so the French. 

Today, working with some unique terroirs and old vineyards treated organically and by hand, the Gordons, according to their importers O’Brien’s, “produce some stunningly good old world wines but with a modern Oz twang”.

Sarabande “Les Rabasses” Faugeres (AP) 2014, 14.5%, €21.45 (got it for 17.16 in sale) O’Brien’s

The aromas of the Faugeres are dominated by black cherries and plums as is this blend. The Syrah, on its exploded base, is trellised across the top of the windy hill. Unlike the Syrah (the dominant grape - about 50% - in this GSM blend), the Grenache and Mourvedre are grown as bush vines. They sit on a south facing slope which is well drained. This is particularly important for the notoriously late ripening Mourvedre variety.

And so it is from this hilltop vineyard that this Les Rabasses comes with its hard-won flavours. Keep it, they say, or drink it now with “equally flavoursome food”. Suggested are: Cold meats/pâtés, Duck, Hard mature cheese, Roast lamb/beef, Slow cooked shoulder of lamb.

Colour is a mid to dark ruby. There are strong aromas of dark fruit, spicy. Fruit forward and deep, power and finesse in equal measure, that spice too, excellent acidity as well; the finish is pure, long and also balanced. Very Highly Recommended.

Sarabande “Misterioso” Faugeres (AP) 2014, 14.5%, 16.95 (13.56 in sale) O’Brien’s 

Sarabande tell us that “bright cherry flavours are the backbone of this cheeky little number…that will invite itself.” Indeed, it is mainly cherry all the way from the colour to the aromas to the dry finalé. A slash of spice too, fine tannins and well balanced acidity add to the easy-drinking enjoyment. Highly Recommended.

The blend this time is mostly Grenache and Syrah with “a small amount of Mourvedre.” Only the best quality fruit survives the sorting stage.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Taste of the Week. Harriet’s Lemon Curd at Roughty Fruit


Taste of the Week
Harriet’s Lemon Curd at Roughty Fruit

A good curd is hard to find. 

So when we got one, we made it Taste of the Week. Produced by young Harriet Kelleher from Macroom, you can get it at the Roughty Fruit in the English Market. Ingredients: butter, free-range eggs, sugar, lemons and, wait for it, passionfruit!

There are many ways of using this tarty mix, especially in baking, tarts and tartlets and so on. Over 100 of them here from BBC Food https://www.bbc.com/food/lemon_curd .

We noticed our local Mayfield café (and a good one it is), the Old Bank, using it with their pancakes so I tasked the OBC (the official blog chef) and she responded with a winner as usual! 


Monday, July 9, 2018

Kitchen at the Galway City Museum. Serves A Cracking Local Plate.


Kitchen at the Galway City Museum.
Serves A Cracking Local Plate.

So here we are at lunch-time down by the Spanish Arch in Galway. We have a string of recommendations including Ard Bia at Nimmo’s. We see the last shaded outside seats taken as we stroll through the Spanish Arch. I’m sure it’s super-cool on the inside of this ancient building as well and am inclined to try it.

Until we spot the Kitchen at the Museum, just opposite Ard Bia. This has been firmly recommended by our guesthouse host just 30 minutes earlier so we head the few metres to the Kitchen.

Here, the outside seats are in full glaring sun, so we move inside, still all bright and light here, and a lovely welcome from a server from Rochestown. Amazing, I’ve been in Galway for 30 minutes and two of the first three people I meet are from Cork.

The mission statement at Kitchen declares their intention to be a stand-out dining venue while supporting local producers. They score very highly on both counts and we very much enjoy their delicious colourful healthy food.

They serve lunch from 12 noon, under two main headings: Sambos and Get Fresh. There’s a Cuban Ham and cheese sambo, a Bacon Bagel, a Loaded Raw Veggie Wrap and more. I pick the Zesty Lemon Chicken Wrap (poached chicken, preserved lemon yogurt, red peppers, grated carrot and baby leaves, all for eight and half euro). This is terrific, packed with colour and flavour and crunch.

And, at the other side of the table and from the other side of the menu, the high maintenance OBC (official blog chef) is powering up for the long day ahead - just in case she mightn’t get enough in Aniar later on - with her Warm Cajun Chicken Salad ( BBQ chicken breast, paprika fried potato, charred sweetcorn, tomato and red onion salsa, coriander, jalapeños, sour cream, grated carrots, and slaw, for €12.50). Everything you need in a salad!

They have a nice little selection of drinks here, including beers from Galway Bay and Galway Hooker and also Cooney’s Cider. But we are being good and get a very good one: a litre of Elderflower Fizz (including Prosecco, of course), a big pitcher of refreshing cool deliciousness for under four euro, probably the best value drink we got during our two days in Galway, day or night!

During the meal we had time for an exchange or two with  our server, swapping info on eating out in Cork and Galway, and soon two very happy customers were on our way, out to the sun. We would be back to visit the adjoining museum (hope to have a post on that in the near future).

Also on this Galway trip:

Galway City Museum
Spanish Parade
Galway
Phone: +353 (0) 91 534 883






Sunday, July 8, 2018

At The Square Table, Sisters From The West Make The Best of Local


At The Square Table, Sisters From The West Make The Best of Local


We are in a small restaurant in Blarney. Behind me, the front of house person is explaining the dishes to a table of visitors. The info is precise, full of detail and confidently given with clarity, enthusiasm and no little humour.

This is Tricia Cronin in action. Tricia and her twin sister Chef Martina  (left) are the team, a formidable straight-talking duo, at The Square Table - the 35 seater sits on the village’s ancient square - and they serve up lots of good things here. And another good thing - they don’t do bullshit! What you see is what you get.


egg, mushroom

After a formative spell in Cork with Dubliner Ciaran Scully, teacher and chef, Martina headed for the capital where her culinary education continued under top chefs Ross Lewis and Graham Neville. One of the things she learned along the way and which she and Tricia implement at the Square Table is to use local as much a possible. “This way we meet and got to know the local producers.”

At the launch of a local festival earlier this year I heard Tricia declare: “I enjoy engaging with the customers on local produce and local producers. But you do need to know your stuff. There’s a lot of homework to be done, especially with new dishes.” Here’s a woman, a pair of them, who talk the talk and walk the walk.

black pudding, apple purée


We’ve walked in to try the Early Bird, available from 6-9pm Wednesday & Thursday; 6-7pm on Friday & Saturday: 2-courses €25.50, 3-courses €29.50. By the way, this is no skinny early bird - you’ll get good quality and quantity here! The Cronin sisters grew up in the country and food was a key part of the hard-working daily life.

So let us take a look at the menu for this particular Wednesday evening. We are in the middle of a heatwave, so the soup is relegated to the also rans! Record temperatures or no, I rarely turn down the chance to eat Ballyhoura mushrooms so I go for the Crispy Egg and Ballyhoura Mushrooms with Hollandaise. Yumami!

Cleaned the plate as did OBC (the official blog chef) whose pick was the Jack McCarthy’s Black Pudding and Puff Pastry Roll, house piccalilli, and apple purée. An excellent combination and a generous helping of the purée to help it on its delicious way. 
Hake

And that generosity is also exemplified when we are served three gorgeous side dishes with our mains: carrot and kale, a potato mash, and a delightful turnip and mustard dish (that drew compliments galore from the tourist table behind).

I had noticed my mains on their Twitter feed: West Cork roast chicken, buttered leeks, cauliflower purée and Coolea Cheese (from the sisters’ home area). Cooked to perfection, served at the perfect temperature and well presented, a delight to dispatch. The best of Irish given an accomplished touch of the continental.

Chicken

And OBC, a bit of a Hake connoisseur, was also well satisfied with O’Connell’s Pan-fried hake, pea purée, McCarthy’s crispy bacon and organic sugar snaps. Great colour, great flavours and texture. And then those sides!

They offered us a choice of three tempting desserts but we were rather full.

And where do the Cronins get their good things? Well if you go there, and you should, just ask and Tricia will tell you. You can also look it up on the back page of the menu, a long back page but here’s a sample of suppliers: Hegarty’s of Whitechurch for cheese (six other suppliers), Tom O’Brien also Whitechurch for eggs, Kilbrack and Anna Belle farms for vegetables and salads, meat from Michael Twomey (their mother’s butcher) and more, smoked salmon from Old Mill Bank and crab from Liscannor, and further afield there’s yogurts from Velvet Cloud and ice-cream from Featherbed Farm. A tasty journey through the best of Ireland’s producers.

5, The Square,
Blarney,
Co. Cork
021 4382825




Saturday, July 7, 2018

Amuse Bouche


Lismore

The buying of the car was another attempt on the Captain’s part to rescue his daughter from her isolation…. ‘Today, the races?’ he suggested and they would set out for Lismore or Clonmel. He took her to the Opera House in Cork, dinner first in the Victoria Hotel, where an old woman once stood up and in a quivering voice sang the last few lines of an aria from Tannhaüser. The diners applauded and the Captain was reminded of the afternoon in the Città Alta..”

from The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor (2002). Very Highly Recommended.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Long Live the King’s Head. Food, Fun in Medieval Bistro and Bar.



Long Live the King’s Head.
Food, Fun in Medieval Bistro and Bar.
King Scallops
It’s like a mini rambla in Galway’s Latin Quarter as we work our way through the strollers, the chatters, the crowds circled around the musicians, to a small archway and the entrance to the King’s Head Bistro. 


Some are eating outside this hot sunny evening but we make our way in to a warm welcome in the restaurant itself, taking in the long wall filled with a huge variety of plates. Here, and later in the neighbouring bar, we would have good food and good fun.
Starters. Trout, crab
“We are strong on fish here,” is the message from Chef Brendan Keane. The concentration we learn is very much on local and seasonal, light rather than heavy sauces, and, before he goes back to work, Brendan tells us the strawberries are perfect at the moment.


I go along with Brendan and order two of his specials, beginning with the Pan-fried crab claws in garlic and chilli butter with organic salad. Hard to beat crab claws but this modest chef’s simple treatment takes them to another level. 
Meanwhile, CL is happily renewing acquaintance with an old friend, the trout from Kilkenny’s Goatsbridge Farm. The Barbecued Smoked Trout Salad, to give it its full title, consists of trout, rosemary roasted baby potatoes, pickled red onion, watercress, dill and mustard dressing.


At that stage, we were sipping our glasses of the local Galway Hooker Ale. Later, our server Sorcha would introduce us, guests of the bistro, to the King’s Head Blood Red Ale, the bistro’s own-label beer (by Galway Hooker) and a bloody good one it is, especially with food.

And more food was soon on the way. Again mine came from the specials list: Panfried king scallops, tender-stem broccoli, baby roast potatoes, crispy Andarl farm pancetta and butter sauce. A terrific combination of flavour and texture.

Fish-lover CL picked the organic salmon, a baked fillet of Clare Island salmon, colcannon and organic creamed spinach. Sounds simple. It was. Simply superb.

Nice head. Blood red ale!
Just in case you think it’s all fish here, it’s not. The menu is quite wide ranging and includes Lamb, Vegetable risotto, Veggie Dahl, Burger, Steak, Feather-blade of Beef, and Chicken. We are in on a Thursday evening and the place is busy, seats filling up again within minutes of being vacated.

After our delicious strawberry meringue dessert, we strolled over to the nearby King’s Head Bar, also owned by Paul and Mary Grealish. We had been in here too the previous evening and knew what to expect. It was just as busy and lively. The bar rambles on from room to room in this amazing building that dates back to medieval times. And, after the World Cup, the music comes on and the craic intensifies.

We park ourselves on a couple of vacant seats by the Havana Club section and watch them shake and make cocktail after cocktail before I finish the lovely night with a Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin. The King’s Head is a brilliant place to have food and fun. Long live the king. Slainte!


Also on this trip

The Aniar Experience
Kitchen at Galway City Museum






Wednesday, July 4, 2018

More from the dark side.


More from the dark side

It may be summertime, with a vengeance, but here are a few beers that you can enjoy anytime, even if they are on the dark side.

White Gypsy Dark Lady, 5.2%, 500ml bottle


“Follow the Hops” say Kinnegar on their bottle (below) while Tipperary’s White Gypsy says “Follow your Fortune”. You won't go far wrong if you follow White Gypsy and this particular lady, a brew that contains Bohemian and Munich malts, roasted barley, Saaz hops, and Czech yeast.

A dark brown colour conceals this European lady who turns out to be a lager; as the bottle says “don't be afraid of the dark”. The Dark Lady also turns out to be well-made, well mannered. Nothing sinister here, just an interesting beer from Templemore, not for the first time. The notes from the roasted barley are a prominent feature though, in fairness, it has an excellent rounded flavour all the way through to a very satisfying finish.




Kinnegar Black Bucket “Black Rye IPA”, 6.5%, 440ml can

Don’t think I've ever met anyone from Kinnegar Brewing but I do get on very well with their products, right since I first tasted them in The Cove Restaurant in Port na Blagh in June 2013. Enjoyed three that evening: the Limeburner Pale Ale, the Scraggy Bay India Pale Ale and the Devil’s Backbone Amber Ale.

And now this one is added to my favourites. They call it “the bigger darker brother” to their popular Rustbucket Rye. It balances rye and roasted malts with fresh hop aromas and flavours and is unfiltered. 

This special beer comes in a long black robe but no disguising this is an IPA and one out to make a name for itself. Hop aromas and flavours, along with coffee notes, combine to make this an outstanding drop.



West Kerry brewery “Carraig Dubh” Porter, 6%, 500ml bottle
This is the real black, that of traditional porter, and the ingredients are malted barley, hops, yeast, and water from their own well. It has a lacy head that doesn’t linger, persistent aromas of toffee and caramel. Flavours follow through in this smooth porter and then there’s a lip smacking finish.

So black is back but was it ever away? Not for those of us who saved the hay or gathered to help at a threshing, a heavy glass bottle of porter in your hand at the end of a hard day.

It also reminds me of going into Kelly’s in Belderrig (on the north coast of Mayo) and the lady behind the counter grabbing a chipped enamel jug and ducking down and coming up with it full before pouring my black pint. No head, of course.

Fancy another from the dark side? Check out West Cork Brewery's Roaring Ruby Red Ale, yesterday's Taste of the Week.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Taste of the Week. Roaring Ruby Red Ale


Taste of the Week
Roaring Ruby Red Ale

I was eating out recently in Timoleague's Monk’s Lane where Gavin and Michelle have, since they started out a few years back, been strong supporters of local craft brewers. They have a very long list of beers, both in draught and in bottle.

I spotted the Roaring Ruby Red Ale by the West Cork Brewery from Baltimore in draught and noted the “dangerously drinkable” in the blurb.

I can vouch for that having sipped my way through a smooth pint of its delicious caramel and toffee flavours, a superb red ale almost crossing into stout territory. And our Taste of the Week is great with food.

The West Cork Brewery is based at Casey’s of Baltimore, Ireland’s first Brew-Hotel, and was launched in December 2014 by Dominic Casey, Henry Thornhill and brewer Kevin Waugh. They also produce the Sherkin Lass Ale and Stout x Southwest. Wouldn’t mind being down there now in that sun trap beer garden, sipping a pint of Roaring Ruby and the boats coming and going on the blue waters.

Check out three other top Irish beers all on the darker side here

Monday, July 2, 2018

White Wine Weather. Three of the very best!


Trimbach Riesling Alsace (AC) 2015, 13%, €15.96 (was 19.95) O’Brien’s

Trimbach (not Jean methinks!) sum up their wine story that began in 1626: “exceptional terroirs and fine wines”. And so they continue. This is “a great example of dry Riesling” according to Decanter, talking about the 2014 edition.

It is indeed a lovely wine with a light strawy colour. Apples and a touch of lime in the restrained aromas. Smooth on the palate with terrific white fruit flavours and the amazing dry finish goes on and on. Well made as you’d expect from this producer and Very Highly Recommended (even at the regular price - I got this in a sale).


Gitton Père & Fils Les Montachins Sancerre (AC) 2014, 12.5%, €23.95 Karwig Wines

Colour of this 100% Sauvignon Blanc is a light straw, tints of green. Fairly intense aromas, lime and apple, mineral notes too. Terrific rush of outstanding flavours, citrus now prominent, matched by an equal burst of the most refreshing acidity. And the finish lacks nothing at all, long and satisfying.  No need to say too much about this one, just Very Highly Recommended.

Speaking of the variety, Wine-Searcher.com says the key selling point of Sauvignon Blanc “is its straightforwardness” and that is certainly the case here. Its home land is the Loire and it is now found growing successfully in quite a few countries, notably in New Zealand.

Pair with oysters, crab, delicate white fish, green vegetables and salads, and cheese (goats in particular).

Albet i Noya El Fanio Xarel-lo 2016 Penedes (DO), 13%, now €17.00 Mary Pawles Wines.

Colour of this organic wine is light gold.
Citrus, gooseberry, floral notes too, in the nose.

Lovely creamy mouthfeel here - it had been on lees for six months; herb flavours to the fore, thyme and rosemary and other notes from the local scrub, fresh and lively acidity too make this a very friendly wine indeed, a distinctive one also and Very Highly Recommended. Great value as well.

El Fanio is the name of the vineyard and the grape variety is Xarel-lo, familiar to many of you as a key grape in Cava. The wine is aged in cement eggs (not very romantic!) and in acacia barrels.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Aniar Experience. Tastes of the West

The Aniar Experience. 
Tastes of the West.

When I was a boy, I would fish for pollock in Belderrig with my Mayo cousins, using eels we had caught earlier in nearby mountain streams as bait. Later, with adult help, the pollock would be cooked over a few sods of turf. Not the handsomest of fish, but a delicious one.
Strawberry, woodruff
The Michelin starred Aniar in Galway city has a modest exterior. Inside, it is cool, the air conditioning at a perfect pitch to keep the temperature down to comfortable levels during the late June heatwave.


Goat, fennel
Pretty much everything is at a perfect pitch: the service (chef Killian Crowley came to explain the details of most of the dishes), the provenance, cooking and presentation. We have booked in for the Inis Oirr menu, a six course tasting menu. It costs 72 euro and we know that before we arrive. 
potato, charcoal
The drinks are on the expensive side, 9 euro for a bottle of Kinnegar beer for example. We take a look at the 80 strong wine list, looking for something light, something versatile. With excellent guidance from sommelier Zsolt Lukács, we settled on the excellent Terres Dorres L'Ancien Vieilles Vignes produced from Jean-Paul Brun's oldest Gamay vines in Beaujolais.


eel, kohlrabi.  The eel is Lough Neagh.

You are eased into the meal with four small bites, a multiple amuse bouche if you will. Three are pictured (above) and the fourth was a kelp and sea radish dashi. All were “amusing”, each tasty and each interesting.
bread and butter
 Bread is an integral part of the meal here, a sign of friendliness and informality (Aniar is not a stuffy place). And when the selection (with a couple of butters) arrives on the table, there is a poem with it: Bread by Brendan Kennelly and, before you leave, you get the recipe for their Brown Soda Seed Bread. 
pollock, pine

So on we go to the Pollock and the Pine, a few green pine needles included so that you can try the citrus taste for yourself.  Another eye-catching palate-pleasing dish is the Oyster and Wrack, the oyster has been slightly charred on top. The sea, oh the sea. 
oyster, wrack
Chef-patron JP McMahon likes to foster old cooking and preservation methods such as curing, pickling, smoking and fermentation.  It seems that next we are getting eggs but the shells contain mostly fermented potato and under that there is some chewy pollack, a worthwhile chew I hastily add. As with many dishes, the eye and the stomach are well satisfied.

potato, pollock
Here comes the mains. The lamb and the baby gem have both had the Green Egg treatment. Hardly tradition but quite superb, a McMahon Galway mix of colour, flavour and texture.

lamb, baby gem
So now we start to wind down with a "pre-dessert": an ice-cream of rapeseed (organic, of course) and birch (foraged). Perhaps I said wind down too soon. For it is followed by the main dessert of Strawberry and Woodruff, more foraging, more fermenting. The alpine strawberries are fermented to make a gel. Smooth and delicious.


rapeseed, birch

Elderflower
Now we have two more. Beetroot with goats cheese is one. The other is Elderflower Meringue. And that is the finalé of a lovely meal, a menu that tends towards the lighter side, certainly lighter than the tasting menu enjoyed in Chapter One three years back.

You are not stuffed - nor should you be, anywhere -  but neither are you in any way hungry. In that regard, it is comparable to the 12 course menu at Ichigo Ichie in Cork. Indeed, I thought I saw a Japanese character on the front of the Aniar menu but when I looked properly I saw that is Ogham, an ancient Irish alphabet, and of course it spells Aniar.

 The menu, which changes daily, is seasonal and local. Virtually everything on it is from Galway with a nod to one or two of the near neighbours, so maybe not quite as radically local as the 12-mile menu at Kevin Ahern's Sage in Midleton. If you want something different while you’re in Galway,  Aniar is the place to go. Very Highly Recommended.

beetroot (and below)

Also from this trip:
King's Head Bistro
Kitchen at Galway City Museum


Aniar
53 Lower Dominick Street
Galway
Twitter: @aniargalway
Facebook: AniarRestaurant
Tel: 091 535 947