Showing posts with label A Taste of West Cork. Show all posts
Showing posts with label A Taste of West Cork. Show all posts

Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Taste of West Cork Festival. A Personal Selection of the September Events.


A Taste of West Cork Festival
Some of the Best.
There is so much to do in next month’s major festival, A Taste of West Cork: over 250 events, spread over 41 towns and villages and eight islands. And, despite the one hundred thousand welcomes, you’ll find it difficult enough to make your choices. So, this is where my digest comes in. 

While I don’t know West Cork like the back of my hand, I have a decent amount of experience there, including at this festival. So, if you lose patience with the official multi-page guide (especially if you’re reading it online), check out these suggestions divided into BARGAIN, OFF PLATE (eating not essential!), A/N (afternoon), EVENING, and BtB (bust the budget). Some of these are free or have just nominal charges. 

By the way, I have omitted the guest chefs/pop up events. I have mixed feelings on these because I’ve had mixed experience of them. I’ll leave the decision up to yourself but do get as much information from the venue in advance as possible and that should help avoid any disappointment.

The programme has been published in national and local newspapers and is available online hereSomething for everyone. Take your pick and enjoy! 

Baltimore

Friday Sep 7th
BARGAIN: Traditional Fishing, Boats, Pots and Lines. Free. 2.30 Baltimore
OFF PLATE: Lough Hyne To The Sea. Kayaking €65.00
A/N: Afternoon Sea - seafood savouries at Seaview House Hotel, Ballylickey €29.00
EVENING: Lobster Garden Party with Diana Dodog at The Lifeboat Inn, Courtmacsherry €55.00
Sherkin Island

Saturday Sep 8th
BARGAIN: The Honey Bee, with experienced bee-keeper at Organico, Bantry. €10.00.
OFF PLATE: Pencil to Garden to Plate, drawing class with Annabel Langrish at Heron Gallery Cafe €50.00 inc lunch.
A/N: Islander’s Rest BBQ with Derry Clarke. Sherkin 1.00pm €20.00
EVENING: The West Cork Food Tour. Manning’s Ballylickey from 6.00pm. Farm Tour and BBQ €80.00
BtB: The Ancient Craft of Blacksmithing at O’Driscoll Ironworks, Durrus Day long class €150.00
Garinish Island, Glengariff

Sunday Sep 9th
BARGAIN: Kilcrohane Country Fair 2-6pm. Stall, producers, music, BBQ (€5.00)
OFF PLATE: Hidden Edibles, The Ewe Experience, Glengarriff, 10.00 to 11.00am, €12.50
A/N: Tarte Tatin Demo & Tasting by John Desmond at Heir Island 2.30pm, free but pay for ferry
EVENING: The Celtic Camino Dinner at Gougane Barra Hotel. Caminos popping up everywhere. Dinner is €50.00.
BtB: ——
Michael Collins event, 10th September, Clonakilty

Monday Sep 10th
BARGAIN: Manage your own herb garden, Organico Bantry 4.00pm, €5.00
OFF PLATE: Plastic is a Plague. A seminar with distinguished speakers at Liss Ard, Skibbereen, 11.00am-3.00pm, €20.00.
A/N: Devoy’s Organic Farm visit. Vegetables, eggs, chickens stories 2.30pm Three euro
EVENING: Scannell’s Tastes of the Sea Aperitif plus 5-course feast of fish. 7.00pm €60.00
BtB: —-


Tuesday Sep 11th
BARGAIN:  The Secret Garden, The Sutherland Centre, Skibbereen. A true secret garden. Free.
OFF PLATE: Art and the Great Hunger, a guided tour of this incredible exhibition at Uillinn, Skibbereen, two euro
A/N: Cream Tea at the Top of the Rock, Drimoleague. Guided Walk around eco-farm before grand tea and scones. €12.00.
EVENING: Wine & Dine at Deasy’s in Ring. Italian wine and Caitlin Ruth’s cooking combine in five-course meal from 7.00pm for €55.00.
BtB: Heron & Grey at The Mews Inventive Tasting Menu, 7.30pm, €95.00

Wednesday Sep 12th
BARGAIN: Ummera Smokehouse, Timoleague. A marvellous visit and tasting for free. 10.30am
OFF PLATE: Bere Island and the Great Famine. Informative historical bus tour 12.00pm to 2.00pm and packed lunch €30.00. Ferry at 11.30am extra.
A/N: Wild Berry Bakery, Ballineen.  Bakery visit and samples. All proceeds to charity. Entry €5.00
EVENING: A Taste of India at Richy’s Clonakilty. Welcome drink and multi-course Indian meal by Meeran Gani Manzoor, Head Chef at Richy’s. €60.00.
BtB: Intimate Dinner at Inish Beg House on Inish Beg Island. Formal dinner surrounded by country house grandeur, silver service. €95.00

Thursday Sep 13th
BARGAIN: Tasting (and bottle to take away) for a fiver at 9 White Deer Brewery in Ballyvourney. 2.00pm
OFF PLATE: Tea and Tales on Dursey Island. Take the cable car across and then a guided bus tour with dramatic views and island stories. Tea costs 25 euro and cable car is extra.
A/N: Bean and Grain, chocolate and beer at Clonakilty Brewery. The chocolate will be by Alison of Clonakilty Chocolate and there’ll be lots of pairings. €25.00
EVENING: A Taste of Organico, hosted by Hannah and Rachel Dare who’ll have dozens of their producers on hand including Fermoy Raw Milk, Mary Pawle Wines and Sally Barnes Smokery. Samples galore and even a glass of wine is included in the 5 euro fee. 5.30pm to 8.00pm.
BtB: ——
Welcome to Union Hall Smoked Fish

Friday Sep 14th
BARGAIN: Martin Shanahan of Fishy Fishy puts on a brilliant demo, very engaging with his audience, especially the younger ones. See him from 10.00 in Fields of Skibbereen. Free.
OFF PLATE: Live Life Well. A students’ food and lifestyle conference at Skibbereen Community School. From 10.00am to 2.00pm, hear talks, see demos, and sample at the mini-market. All free.
A/N: there’s a tour of the Union Hall Smoked Fish facility at 2.00pm, a lovely family run business. The Nolan's are a generous bunch and they won’t charge you a cent yet, a similar event two years back, there was no shortage of samples and even a glass of wine.
EVENING: Real Food from Here is the title of the event at Macroom’s Castle Hotel where the Buckley family invite you to a dinner featuring real food. Real wine too from Le Caveau with Colm McCan doing the pouring and talking. €60.00 including dinner and wine. Special overnight rate.
BtB: ——
Walking on Sheep's Head

Saturday Sep 15th
BARGAIN: A 2.5 hour walk on the Sheeps Head with guide Charlie McCarthy (086 2333420). Registration at 11.30am, walk at 12 noon. Meet at the cabin Ahakista.Free
OFF PLATE: Meet at the car park in Barley Cove Hotel on your way to the Three Castle Head Walk, one of West Cork’s hidden gems, with breath-taking views. Starts at 3.30 and duration is 90 minutes. Free. Contact: 0868808190.
A/N: Fish and Whiskey Brunch is the unpriced event at the Glandore Inn with local man Bryan McCarthy doing the cooking and West Cork Distillers supplying the  spirit. All proceeds to LauraLynn children’s Hospice and Union Hall Inshore Lifeboat.
EVENING: I suspect that Taste of the Sea at Arundels by the Pier (Ahakista) will sell out fast with Head Chef Dominique Carucci presenting a delicious Taste of the Sea menu. Five courses for €50.00.
BtB: The big spenders can whip out that credit card again as they go to Eat, Drink and Sleep at the Castle, Castletownsend. At 7.00pm, the six course meal, paired with selected wines and beers, will get underway. Slip upstairs much later, wake to a spectacular view of the bay and a hearty breakfast. Cost overall: €220.00 per person.

Sunday Sep 16th.
Still a good share of events on the closing Sunday but undoubtedly the focus will be on the Festival Finalé, the Sunday Street Market in Skibbereen. It starts at noon and as usual there’ll be bands, and dancers, craft, and food to eat and take away and a children’s entertainment area. A superb finalé to a marvellous festival that encompasses over 250 events.

Reen Pier area








Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Taste of West Cork Guide. Kate Brings It All Together

A Taste of West Cork Guide

Kate Brings It All Together
Ross with Sally Barnes
In West Cork, there are scores of good food producers, one down every lane, up every boreen. But which road, which village? Where do you find them when you want them? The answer is now quite simple: buy a copy of the Artisan Food Guide, just published by A Taste of West Cork Food Festival. 

The 80-page guide, edited by Kate Ryan, was launched by Michelin chef Ross Lewis (Chapter One) in Vertigo, the top floor of the County Hall, last week. Ross said good cooking begins with good shopping and this guide will help you do some great shopping.

And indeed, guests arriving in Vertigo were able to sample some of the produce from the likes of Ummera, Rosscarberry Recipes, Durrus Cheese, Hungry Crow Chocolates, Sally Barnes (Woodcock Smokery), Glenilen, Skeaghanore, Gubbeen, West Cork Pies, and West Cork Olives.

Helen Collins, chairperson of the A Taste of West Cork Festival for the past four years, welcomed the guests and other speakers. She extended a big thanks you to Tim Lucey, Chief Executive Cork County Council for his unwavering support, to outgoing Mayor of Cork County Seamus McGrath, another great supporter.

And, of course, she had a huge welcome for Ross Lewis, the chef who grew up in the area around the County Hall itself. Ross has dined in some of the world's finest restaurants but that doesn't stop him from enjoying the best of local (he had earlier lunched on lamb stew and floury potatoes in The Farmgate). He repeated his high regard for artisan producers - they are not in for the money - and that regard is well documented in his book "Chapter One- An Irish Food Story”.

Helen told us that the guide author Kate Ryan is Bristol born but has been living in Clonakilty for the past ten years. She is well known on the food scene through her blog flavour.ie, through her Clonakilty Walking Food Tour  (Failte Ireland approved, by the way!) and her willingness to get involved in local endeavours.

Clockwise from top left: Mayor Seamus McGrath, Helen Collins,
Ross Lewis and Tim Lucey

Another Ummera product
The book could easily have been just a list of the producers but is much more than that. West Cork is a big place so Kate decided to use some natural divisions, eg The Beara Peninsula, as chapter headings. So yes, of course, the producers are listed with some detail (including contacts and if visits are possible). Listed also are specialist food shops and local farmers markets. And, importantly, from a tourist point of view, she suggests itineraries to follow.

Let us illustrate her “scheme” by using the Clonakilty section as an example. So, you're an English or French foodie and newly arrived. Where to start? Spend a fiver on this book and you’ll see Clonakilty and its neighbours Timoleague, Dunworley and Rosscarberry.
Hungry Crow Chocolates, the bigger ones have dates and figs inside!

There are no less than 21 local food producers here including well known ones such as Ummera and Rosscarberry Recipes, lesser known such as Clonakilty Homemade Ice-cream and Devoy’s Organic Farm.

You can read which places are open to visitors and plan your own food journey. Or perhaps you’d like to rely on Kate's suggestions which starts with Ummera in Timoleague and ends with Bushy’s Strawberries in Rosscarberry. In between, you’ll visit The Baking Emporium, Camus Farm and Clonakilty Chocolate and more, maybe even a tour with Kate herself. After all that, you may well make Dunworley Cottage your overnight stay. And that's just one section!

The book will be an ideal "guide" to the Festival itself which takes place this year from 8th-17th September, with over 180 culinary and adventure events taking place across the region’s 33 towns and villages and 9 islands.  Visitors will find a foodie’s paradise, with several national and international chefs preparing culinary-themed feasts in local restaurants, food tastings al fresco, foraging walks, open-air markets, seminars, cook-offs, masterclasses and intimate evenings with local artisan food producers imparting their culinary wisdom.

As I said, West Cork is a large area, so much to see and do, so much good stuff to eat and drink!



Tuesday, October 4, 2016

On Tour At Union Hall Smoked Fish

On Tour At Union Hall Smoked Fish
A Taste of West Cork event
Roll up folks. The tour starts now!
Four generations of the Nolans (including a couple of tiny tots) welcomed a record number of visitors to the Union Hall Smoked Fish smokery last Thursday, the tour part of the A Taste of West Cork Festival. 

Sean Nolan was surprised to see over fifty turn up to see the facility but the Nolans, who have been smoking fish for 25 years or so, weren't found wanting and soon a table was laden with samples from the smokery - the mackerel pate was perhaps the favourite - and no shortage of wine either.


Fed and “watered”, the guests, suitably garbed, were led into the building. “We’ll follow the flow of the fish through here,” said Sean. And everywhere the fish went, paperwork followed. “We were at the Intake Chill. That first step is recorded and the “fish can be traced all the way back”.

The polite visitors were a bit slow to move as we progressed to a large room. “Didn't expect this crowd,” said Sean. “It’s a bit like mass, I’ll have to get them to the front”, he joked. Soon we were on to the filleting stage where Sean revealed that the carcasses - these are farmed salmon - were sent back to Donegal. “We pay to get them in and we pay to get them out. Waste is a big problem.

Tasty!

Next step is the brineing, one and half hours for salmon, minutes for mackerel. Then he showed us the pin-boning machine. Not too sure how it works but it sure works we were told.

Now the fish is put on trays and into the smokers. Even the oak chips have to be certified. Salmon takes 15 hours while mackerel require 2.5 to 3 hours. The mackerel are hot smoked while the kippers are cold smoked.

Paper at every stage. “It is non-stop. The regulations are awkward,” he admitted. “But once you get on top of them, it is easier to stay there.”

A smoked salmon, neatly sliced by 30,000 euro worth of machinery

Now we moved on to a high risk area, now that the fish is ready to eat. Here they go through the slicing machine (30 grand!) that will “do any thickness you want”. The vacuum packers are here too.

Sean told us different areas of the country have different preferences. Smoked tuna is now the big seller in Dublin.

And he finished with a few tips. “Salmon freezes very well but do not freeze our fresh pate.” 

Ready to roll
Read more about this family company here

See also, from A Taste of West Cork:
Breton Delights at Celtic Ross
Down Under Wonders at the Eldon Hotel

Friday, September 9, 2016

THREE CHEFS (FROM MANY) AT A TASTE OF WEST CORK

 THREE CHEFS (FROM MANY)
 AT A TASTE OF WEST CORK
Matthew checking down under!
Made my mind up early this year to get a little deeper into this month's A Taste of West Cork. Rather then driving down and coming back on the same day, I'm going to stay for three consecutive nights. And as it happens, the three nights give me the chance to see three very different chefs, beginning at the Celtic Ross on the 15th with Breton Eric Theze in action. On the Friday, Kiwi Matthew Brownie takes us all down under in Skibbereen's Eldon and, on the Saturday, West Cork's own Rob Krawczyk serves up a feast in Ballydehob's Levis Bar. That's the nights catered for - just have to fill in the days now!
Eric (left)

Thursday September 15th:


Eric Theze; Irish Restaurant Awards Best Chef in Co. Waterford 2016 offers up 5 courses ‘a La Boheme’.
The coastal location of Roscarberry will play host to one of A Taste of West Cork’s international dining experiences, as the Celtic Ross Hotel welcomes guest chef Eric Thezé, who will present a delicious five-course tasting menu featuring dishes from Brittany. The chef, who is proprietor of La Boheme in Waterford, will be joined by Alex Petit, Head Chef at the reputable Celtic Ross Hotel. This luxurious dining event will take place on Thursday 15th September and will showcase not only the talents of the chefs involved, but also the diversity of the annual A Taste of West Cork Food Festival. Visit www.celticrosshotel.com.  


Friday September 16th:

‘DOWN UNDER’ NIGHT
Friday, September 16th
7.00pm 9:30pm


The Eldon Hotel, Bridge Street, Skibbereen/7pm to 9.30 pm/€25/Booking essential numbers limited /028 22802

G’day mate! Ever wondered what the other side of the world eats - well this is your opportunity to find out! The Eldon Hotel’s Kiwi Head Chef Matthew Brownie and Bar Manager Brett Cleary will create nine tasting dishes from the Southern Hemisphere including kangaroo. Many surprises in store along with music in the bar afterwards.
Charcuterie by Krawczyk
Saturday September 17th

 From Leinster to Levis’ with Love - Rob Krawczyk at Levis Corner House, Ballydehob.  
Indulge in an unforgettable dining experience at this year’s A Taste of West Cork Food Festival on Saturday 17th September (7.00pm), with a feast prepared by West Cork native and RAI’s Best Chef in Leinster Rob Krawczyk, served within the atmospheric surroundings of Levis’ Corner House Pub in Ballydehob. The intimate venue, which is lovingly run by former Fred frontman Joe O’Leary and his partner Caroline O’Donnell, will provide the perfect setting for a night of great food and music, with internationally-renowned Irish composer Maurice Seezer on hand for the evening to entertain diners. Those in attendance will even get an opportunity to perform alongside Maurice as they attempt to ‘sing for their supper’, with the most talented entry eating free of charge! This is most certainly a treat for the senses that is not to be missed. Visit www.leviscornerhouse.com.


Chefs in West Cork

There'll hardly be a street or a boreen in West Cork without a chef over the next week or so.  Talented chefs featuring at many different venues include Matt Williamson, celebrity Chef Derry Clarke (of Michelin Star L' Ecrivain restaurant fame), Freelance Chef Chris Hedges, Jessica Stutchbury, Chef and Forager Kevin O’Connell, Journalist Joe MacNamee, Takashi Miyazaki (Best Chef in Ireland 2015 – McKenna Guide), TV Chef Catherine Fulvio,  Danni Barry (Michelin Star chef),  Paola Vais, Ali Honour, Rachel Allen (Chef, author and television star), Blogger Louise Kelly, Eric Thezé (Irish Restaurant Awards Best Chef in Co. Waterford 2016), Leylie Hayes (Executive Chef at Avoca and esteemed cook book author), Francine Thurnheer, Rob Krawczyk (winner of the National Restaurants Association of Ireland Best Chef in Leinster 2016) and West Cork’s very own Martin Shanahan.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Rare Cookery Books Workshop – Keith Floyd

Rare Cookery Books Workshop – Keith Floyd. A Taste of West Cork Food Festival Event. Urru Culinary Store Bandon Saturday 10 September 4.30pm

If you love your rare cookery books and recipes and are interested in showing, sharing and seeing other people’s rare books then come join us for a round table show ‘n’ tell workshop.

The Rare Cookery Books Workshop continues this year with a particular focus on Keith Floyd – a one time resident of Kinsale and acknowledged by many chefs as the “Original Celebrity Chef”.

Food writer and Floyd fan, Dianne Curtin will lead the discussion by sharing her books from the era out of which Keith Floyd emerged. Kinsale based chef, Una Crosbie, will also share her memories and books from Keith Floyd.

So, if you are a fan of Floyd or have a rare cookery book or two that you would like to share with like-minded enthusiasts or if you are just curious, then come along, with your books, memories and little stories for an afternoon of chit chat and discovery.


€6 including light refreshment
Booking advised as space is limited.
Contact Ruth for further details and booking 023-8854731 or book on line www.urru.ie

Sunday, September 6, 2015

In Spiller’s Lane. Choc And Aah!

In Spiller’s Lane
Choc And Aah!
Allison, on her bike, with her Clonakilty Chocolate
Clonakilty hotels and restaurants were out in force as A Taste of West Cork festival kicked off in the town’s Spiller’s Lane on Saturday. The sun came out too and so did hundreds of punters as the local mayor opened the event.
With music playing, we sauntered up and down the narrow lane and started off with a delightful cocktail from Fernhill Hotel. Ingredients were mostly local, of course, and the "Corktail" included service with a smile. Neighbouring stall saw the Emmet Hotel dishing out loads of delicious small bites. We sampled canapés featuring Union Hall Salmon and Chicken Paté, both excellent.

An Sugan (top)
and Richie's bun.
A beetroot salad? The offer came from the man at the Baile an Ard Foods Stand and, of course, we said yes. It was very impressive. He told me the salad, along with quite a few others, may be bought in local shops and supermarkets and that they also do catering for events such as Communions, Confirmations, parties, even Christmas. So now you know.

An Sugan had quite a menu on offer and we picked their Scallops with a parsnip and potato puree. Three big juicy scallops, for a fiver! 

And we did well next door too with Richy’s Bistro where the man himself served up their Steamed Pork Bun, based on a dish by a top New York chef. Ricky took a while to figure out how to reproduce it but it was worth the wait as it is a beauty, another gem for a fiver.


The Lettercollum Project
On the way back down (maybe up!), we stopped for the speeches alongside the Clonakilty Black Pudding stand. And then there was ice-cream from the lady at Clonakilty Homemade Ice Cream. The Honeycomb was delicious and a reasonable two euro for a boule. They have a shop in the town and do outdoor events and supply to restaurants and hotels around West Cork. They’ve been doing it for the past ten years and all the ice cream is made on the premises.
We had lots of other samples as we made our way around but our final stop was at Clonakilty Chocolate where Allison was not alone displaying her range of freetrade bars but also the newest addition to the family, the baby sleeping soundly despite the crowds. No need to sample here, we know how good her chocolate is.

We did buy a few bars, including the favourite Mo Milk Chocolate. This includes goats milk and Coconut Blossom Syrup, a creamy compromise between the bean and milk. Enjoying it now as I write this. Tough going!

  • A Taste of West Cork continues all this week with events, big and small, taking place across the area. Get your hands on the brochure or check it out here .

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Taste of West Cork Food Festival 2015

press release
West Cork awaits Foodies, Fun Lovers & Families!
Save the Date!
    
I enjoyed Castletownbere Monkfish, wrapped in Gubbeen cured ham
with Carrageen Moss and caramelised Shallot Potato Puree,
a terrific dish at Inchydoney Lodge during last year's festival
The annual and wonderful A Taste of West Cork Food Festival will take place once again from 4th-13 September.  With events from Bandon to Beara, over 30 of the region’s scenic towns and villages and more than 80 restaurants, pubs and hotels, including 8 idyllic islands, are participating. 

With a plethora of great places to stay, West Cork’s Wild Atlantic Way will fling open its doors to welcome you and yours for a memorable visit. 
  
The festival takes in Bandon, Clonakilty, SchullBantrySkibbereen (its home base), Baltimore, Glandore, Durrus, AhakistaAllihies and all points west to include, for the first time, the wonderful towns, villages and attractions of the Beara Penninsula.  

Foodies, fun lovers and families will be amazed at the choices before them.  With chefs from all over the world ‘guesting’ (including Andy McFadden of the Michelin starred L’Autre Pied (London), the ever popular Derry Clarke of L’Ecrivan, and JP McMahon of Aniar (Galway) - to mention a few), visitors to the region can look forward to restaurant themed evenings (for the skinted or minted!), food masterclasses and tastings, open air markets, historic tours, island-hopping, ‘The Journey of Milk’ Sustainable Farming Conference, The Belling Food Awards and lots more - it’s all go at A Taste of West Cork Festival!   

For the adventurous there’s catch ‘n’ cook experiences, moonlight kayaking, seashore foraging, walks on Cape Clear Island, and miles and miles of wonderful coastline and beaches to welcome you to West Cork’s Wild Atlantic Way.

A Taste of West Cork Food Festival gets better every year!  
Check out our programme – we’re adding all the time!  www.atasteofwestcork.com;

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Great West Cork Distillery Tour. Beautiful Baltimore

Great West Cork Distillery Tour

Beautiful Baltimore. Bountiful Clonakilty. 

A terrific tour of the West Cork Distillery in Skibbereen was the highlight of the first part of our twenty four hours in West Cork. A twenty four hours that had some changes to the “plan”, a rather loose one admittedly.

First hiccup, if you could call it that, came on the way down when a phone call to Baltimore revealed that the two o’clock trip on the SeaSafari was off as the craft was out of the water for the afternoon and being cleaned up.

So then the Distillery tour, one o’clock start, was pencilled in. Got into Skibbereen in good time and called to a busy Apple Betty’s. Ordered a panini. That was a little slow in coming but it was gorgeous, a terrific filling of bacon, Cashel blue and a fantastic relish. Rushed it a bit and hot footed down the street to the Distillery.

John O'Connell (foreground) in the Distillery
Things didn't look good here as people were coming away rather than going in! Apparently, the Distillery weren't very happy with the time published in the "Taste of West Cork" brochure. Director John O’Connell explained they couldn't do the tour at one but would have “a good one” at three.

It worked out well, at least for us. We headed off in the sun (the weather forecast was not exactly spot-on either) to Baltimore, packed with people who seemed to know more than the forecasters. So packed, we didn't find a space in the car parks.

Off out the road we went to the Beacon and enjoyed marvellous views both on the way and during our walk up to the Baltimore landmark. Great views over the islands, Sherkin the nearest, and back to the little town. Later, we had a pause and a walk by the harbour. Hiccups yes but this day was going very well indeed.
The Beacon
So well, we nearly missed the tour or so we thought. But there was no rush as dozens and dozens of people arrived, the big numbers a surprise to John and his friendly staff. Still we were all settled, with a glass of their Drombeg, perhaps their most famous whiskey so far, and a good one too for this time of day as it is just twenty per cent abv.


John then took us on a walkabout of the distillery where the staff were still working. He took us through the process, from the malted barley coming in, and along the journey to the casks (they use sherry casks) and the bottling at the end.

Great informative stuff and more whiskey before we left, with tastings of their West Cork whiskey, the normal and the cask (57% abv!). If you like your whiskeys flavoured then Kennedy’s is the one for you. You may have it Spiced, Honied, Limed and Chillied! They also do a gin, poitin and a vodka here, under the Two Trees brand. And that’s not all.

The ferry, from Sherkin, just arrived in Baltimore
But that was it for us and we headed through the town and off to the Inchydoney Island for that evening’s magnificent nine course dinner “A Taste of West Cork”, all part of the week long food festival in the area. Read all about it here.

And there was yet more whiskey on arrival as we were pleasantly surprised with a glass of the lovely Irish Mist. Time then for a walk on the fantastic beaches here.

The Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa is a four star hotel on the Wild Atlantic Way but I must say that the facilties and service that we enjoyed there were closer to five star. Great place with great staff. The only hiccup perhaps was a delay at breakfast but I think that was down to the many customers that all came together at about ten o’clock on the Saturday. Hard to legislate for that!

At Apple Betty's
They support local produce here obviously and I enjoyed my Scrambled Egg and Ummera Smoked Salmon before we headed off to Clonakilty in the morning mist. It had dried up by the time we arrived and we wandered through the streets looking for the Lettercollum Project shop.

We found it and it was busy, selling salads, tarts, cheese, wine, nuts, seeds, breads and so much more, much of it based on produce from their walled garden in nearby Lettercollum. We went off with enough salad (mixed beans) and bread for two delicious lunches over the weekend.

And we also found Vic and his organic Dexter beef in the market. The main market is on Friday but you’ll find some stalls operating on Thursday and Saturday. I’ll soon have a separate post up about Vic and his tasty beef but for the latest check out his Facebook page

Our twenty fours in West Cork were up and it was time to head back to the city. But we’ll return. Again and again!


Monday, September 8, 2014

Seaweed Featured in Multi-course Taste of West Cork

Seaweed Featured in Multi-course Taste of West Cork
Inchydoney Chef and team in top form


 Meet Jim and Maria Kennedy from the Intertidal Zone. “We spend most of our time there,” said Jim as they introduced us to the Magic of Seaweed at the start of the third annual A Taste of West Cork meal in the Inchydoney Island last Friday.


Jim and Maria had quite a few samples of the various seaweeds available (to taste, to touch) and spoke in detail of their different properties. “Seaweed is a super food….from a garden that doesn’t need to be weeded… dulse and carrigeen have traditionally been used in the Irish kitchen...Seaweed is also an amazing detox ingredient….makes a nourishing top dressing for your garden plants.”  And so much more.



West Cork garlic, organic Rosscarbery leeks, Clonakilty potato, and hand foraged Sea Vegetable Soup,
with a seaweed scone, tomato jam and roasted garlic cream cheese.
Jim advised to “look at the Spring tides when the better seaweeds are exposed”. “But,” he added, “If doing it yourself, be careful.” Read more about seaweed here.

Jim and Maria, who run Atlantic Sea Kayaking, are from Skibbereen but you could come across them almost anywhere, from the Liffey to Mexico, from Spain to Japan.

Rabbit and Harrington's black pudding, Shannonvale Chicken lollipop.
Friday evening though was firmly rooted in West Cork and Inchydoney Head Chef Adam Metcalf had the major task of blending all the marvelous products of the area, from its bountiful and beautiful land and sea, into a multi course meal as the week long festival, also named A Taste of West Cork, got underway. Surprisingly, there were no local beers, ciders or spirits included. Maybe next year?

Adrian, the local representative of Findlaters, took us through the various wines that had been picked to accompany the meal. We were greeted with a glass of Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad Cava and that went very well indeed with the Seaweed Sushi (including an amazing toasted Nori) that came with Ummera Smoked Salmon and also the Smoked Shannonvale chicken with Pickled Ginger and Sea Kale.

Castletownbere Monkfish, wrapped in Gubbeen cured ham
with Carrageen Moss and caramelised Shallot Potato Puree.
Some gorgeous breads on the table as we sat down including a Dulse Seaweed, Marsh Samphire and Atlantic Sea Salt Loaf. And Sea Lettuce featured in the Bantry Bay Lobster Course as did a spiced Bluefin Tuna.

Next up was a hand foraged Sea Vegetable soup with a seaweed scone! Rabbit was stuffed with local black pudding and also accompanied by a Shannonvale Chicken Lollipop.

Elderflower Parfait
All the while, the wines were being poured and the next course, the Castletownbere Monkfish (caught by the Fair Maiden), was accompanied by an intense Albarino. The fish was wrapped in that terrific Gubbeen Cured Ham and there was some discussion as to whether the salt of the ham did the fish any favours. Someone suggested that a pancetta wrap would have been better. Someone else said the fish didn’t need a wrap at all!

Then on to the sweet things, an Elderflower Parfait (foraged elderflower, Valley View egg and Clona Dairy Parfait) with a hand picked Wild Damson Compote and a Bushy Strawberry Sauce. Delightful.

The finale.
To finish, there was a choice of Barry’s Tea or Java Coffee with Inchydoney Recipe Chocolate flavoured with seaweed, some oak smoked Gubbeen cheese along with the hotel’s own Plum and Sultana Chutney on an impressive Patisserie Royale Cracker, handmade in nearby Lisavaird by Richard Graham Leigh.

That last course was accompanied by a glass of Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port. The earlier wines were Vicar’s Choice Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (quite a favourite at our table), Pionero Mundi Albarino, and Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz (70%) Cabernet.


Findlater's Albarino

So well done to the many West Cork producers chosen this year and a big congrats too to Chef Adam and his crew who did the hotel proud.  I spoke to one guest who has been at all three events. He reckoned the first was a bit over the top (quite large portions all the way through), the second was underwhelming (probably in reaction to year one), but “this time they got it right”!  And so say all of us.
See account of the full day in West Cork, including Distillery visit, here.