Showing posts with label Ballycotton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ballycotton. Show all posts

Monday, August 21, 2017

Fish Out In Force at the Bayview. Not the usual suspects!

Fish Out In Force at the Bayview.

Not the usual suspects!
Octopus

For me, the humble mackerel was probably the highlight of Chef Ciaran Scully’s Seafood Evening at the spectacularly situated Bayview Hotel last Friday. But there were starring roles too in Ballycotton for less familiar fish, such as Megrim and Witch.

Witch? This is a flounder, known in the UK as Torbay sole. It is caught in abundance around our coasts and about 95% is exported! Megrim, also common, has the sole flavour and a slightly softer texture. The other fish that featured in the six course menu (including a fishless dessert) were Dublin Bay Prawns and Octopus.

The prawns were first up. They were grilled, scented with Rosemary from the garden, shell oil and Atlantic sea-salt, and served with carrot, cappuccino of Bisque, and Leamlara Celery cress.

Then came the Seared filet of Mackerel with cucumber, pickled Mushroom, Wasabi cream, dried sea grass, Purslane and sea spinach. Chef Scully says the mackerel haven't arrived in force yet this season but he had some good plump ones here and created a terrific dish.

Time now for the Megrim soup. First came the garnish (Coolea cheese croute, saffron rouille, fennel and tomato) and then the soup was poured, a perfect match. Second time in a week that the soup came midway through a meal. No problem on either occasion!


And it was also the second time in a week that I had octopus. This was landed in Duncannon (Wexford) but, like all the other fish, was caught by a Ballycotton boat. The Char-grilled Octopus was glazed with apple syrup and served with sweetcorn purée, chorizo lime and oil, a delightful combination of flavours and textures.

Now it was the turn of the Witch fillet, with lemon and potato purée, brown shrimp, parsley, capers, nut brown butter, samphire. Quite a finalé to the fish dishes.

Dessert was Caramelised pineapple, coconut parfait and Mount Gay rum with mango jelly, pineapple sorbet, fizzy citrus syrup, Speculoos biscuit, pina colada foam. Delicious with plenty of fruit flavours to match with the Brumes de la Tour Blanche Sauternes, an intense wine with concentrated fruit, yet with a refreshing acidity.

The wines for the evening came from Eno Wine and their Commercial Director Donie O’Brien was on hand to give a brief rundown on each wine, starting with the amazing Pares Balta organic Cava.The family keep bee hives (to assist in pollination) and sheep flocks (to fertilise the vineyards in autumn). When presented with a Cava like this, it is hard to believe that it is still one of the lesser known sparkling wines in Ireland.


That is not the case though with Albarino, which has been gaining in popularity for “past 25 years” according to Donie. And he had a delicious example, the Etra Albarino, aromatic, full of fruit and again that acidity that means its goes well with food, especially food from the sea!

It is often compared to Sauvignon blanc and we soon had the chance to compare as the next wine was Domaine L’Aumonier, an organic wine from the Loire produced by Sophie and Thierry Chardon. A fruity and pleasant wine to taste on all occasions. It is aromatic, well balanced between freshness and intensity and the perfect match for the Octopus and its sauce.

Donie reckons that the Godello grape is becoming ever more popular in Ireland and may well follow Albarino on the way to even greater acceptance here. Certainly the one he had is a gem, a great match with the Witch dish. This was the Celdina from Galicia. Donie says it has the richness and weight of Chardonnay but with a bit more crispness. Beautiful aromas too and, while good with fish, has the wherewithal to “accompany chicken, turkey and pork dishes even when served with a sauce”.

After that it was the turn of the dessert and the Sauternes to bring the very pleasant event to a close.

The fish was finished for the night but I started the next day with more fish. I was staying in the lovely Garryvoe Hotel, a sister of the Bayview across the bay, and was delighted to see plaice on the breakfast menu. Ballycotton Bay is noted for its plaice and this reinforced that opinion. No wine though!

The next special food evening in the Bayview’s Capricho restaurant, “Ingenuity and the Bounty”, again seafood themed, is scheduled for Monday September 4th and is also part of FEAST. More info here.  
Bookings: 021 4646 746.

Maria Coleman and Chef Ciaran Scully have been filling me in on future themed evenings. Our Portuguese Night – Isaac's Soiree (this date has moved from the 15th of September to the 6th of October) - will consist of a Portuguese tasting menu to include paired Portuguese wines. Keeping it simple there will be no choice! We will also have music on the night."

"Following that on the 20th October we will be having the Bayview Swing- this will be held on the 20th of October 2017. It will be a themed 1920’s event to ease into the Jazz weekend in Cork. A Black tie event/1920’s theme, Full four course dinner, Prosecco and oysters arrival reception, Live music."

"All event are €65 per person and we are doing a special over night to include the above at €110 per person sharing."

Sunday, March 12, 2017

In Praise of East Cork. Food. People. Place. Worth a Visit!

In Praise of East Cork.
Food. People. Place. Worth a Visit!
Town crier in Youghal
Friendly people, great food, attractions on land and sea, both natural and man-made, make East Cork a gem of a place to visit. From the fantastic 13th century St Mary’s Collegiate Church in Youghal to high class Fota House Gardens and Arboretum, with Barryscourt Castle in between, all three free to enter, there is a treasure chest of places to visit in the area.
Fota Wildlife

The Cafe at Stephen Pearce Pottery

Let me take you on a trip to see part of it. We’ll also enjoy some delicious meals as East Cork is a foodie’s paradise with top notch venues including Sage and Kevin Ahern’s 12 Mile Menu,  Barnabrow (ideal for weddings and a leisurely Sunday lunch), Midleton’s pioneering Farmers Market (every Saturday) and the food mecca of Ballymaloe.
Barnabrow

Coming from the city on the main Cork-Waterford road, take the Cobh exit ramp and head for breakfast or lunch, right to Bramley Lodge, or left to The Bakestone Cafe at Ballyseedy.  Now, set up for the day, go over the nearby bridge to Fota Island and its many attractions.


If you have kids, go the Wildlife Park; if not, walk through the renowned Fota Arboretum and maybe add a tour of the Georgian House. If you like it around here, you may also try the high class  Fota Island Hotel and Golf Resort. Other top class hotels in the area include the Raddison Blu (Little Island) and the Castlemartyr Resort.
Bramley Lodge


Moving on, go over the Belvelly Bridge and you’ll soon come to Frank Hederman’s famous smokehouse. You are now on Great Island where the cathedral town of Cobh is situated. Much to do here including the Sirius Art Gallery, walking tours (including the Titanic Trail and Spike Island), harbourside bars and restaurants and of course the Cobh Heritage Centre which tells of forced deportations and also the tales of the ill fated liners, The Titanic and the Lusitania.
Mitchel Hall on Spike Island

If you have four or more hours to spare, be sure to take the ferry over to Spike Island. It is a fantastic tour, great guides, so many interesting things to see and do, much of it related to military and prison life, but also superb walks and views out over the harbour. Very Highly Recommended.


Fota House and arboretum; walled gardens too

Cruise liners call here regularly during the season, with a carnival atmosphere in the town on the days they are in port. And here boats take you across to newly renovated Spike and also on harbour tours. Maybe you’d just like to walk around the town; I did so recently, taking in the Holy Ground, the Titanic Garden and the Sonia O’Sullivan statue, and you may check it out here. Perhaps you'd prefer just to sit on the decking at The Titanic Bar & Grill and watch the boats go by.


Sonia



Whiskey Sour in Jameson
Time now to head out of the islands and head east to Midleton and a tour of the Jameson Experience. If you give the right answers here, you’ll end up with a certificate of proficiency in whiskey! No shortage of cafes and restaurants here (indeed there's one in the distillery). Plenty more outside, including Ferrit & Lee and the family friendly Granary now celebrating twenty one years in business. In the Cloyne area, the Market Cafe is another family friendly cafe.
Cork Harbour

Cobh Blues Festival

There will be detours, of course. One that I like is off the Whitegate road, out of Midleton. Look out for the signs for East Ferry and enjoy a walk by the estuary and maybe reward yourself with a well cooked meal at Murph’s, a restaurant with a lovely view.

Another suggested detour - you may need a driver here - is to head towards Ballyvolane BHouse near Castlelyons. Lots to do here, including fishing and glamping, and it is also the home of Bertha's Revenge Gin!

Sage 12 mile plate



Next stop is Ballymaloe, the home of modern Irish food. You could spend a day here. Maybe an overnight stay to sample the world renowned cooking. Call to the cafe for a mid afternoon or mid morning  coffee. Be sure to take a look at the impressive Cookery School gardens, not forgetting the Shell House and their truck cafe during the summer. And don’t forget Golden Bean coffee roaster Marc Kingston is also based here.



The Cafe at the Stephen Pearce pottery in Shanagarry also serves Golden Bean and is now gaining quite a reputation. And, of course, there is the pottery itself!


Sculpture exhibition on lawn at Ballymaloe House

In the nearby seaside village of Ballycotton, take a stroll down to the pier and see the fishermen come and go, maybe take a boat trip to the lighthouse on the nearby island. If you feel you need to stretch the legs, then there is a spectacular walk  along the cliff tops. After all that exercise, treat yourself to a gorgeous meal at Pier 26.
Tight turn for Cobh liner

If you need to overnight, then the Garryvoe Hotel and its top notch Samphire Restaurant, with great views over the bay, is close at hand.
Ballycotton cliff walk

Youghal is the final town, on the Blackwater and just shy of the border with Waterford. On the way, you could stretch the legs in Killeagh’s Glenbower Woods one of many attractive walks in the East Cork area. In Youghal, take a boat trip on the Blackwater. If you want a mid-day salad or sandwich in the town, perhaps after visiting the recently revamped Clock Tower, then the Sage Cafe will take good care of you.

After all the activity, you deserve to rest up for the night. Enjoy a meal in the Old Imperial Hotel on Youghal's main street, maybe just a drink in its old Coachhouse bar, maybe both! Aherne’s, of course, is famous for its seafood and they too have rooms.
Samphire at Garryvoe Hotel

And do try and get your hands on the local craft beers, including Ireland's first organic Red Ale, made by the dedicated team in the town’s Munster Brewery; they also do tours.

And before leaving the area, don’t forget to visit Ballynatray House, a Blackwater gem.

If, at the end of a day's touring, you find yourself heading back towards the city, then do consider the Brook Inn near Glanmire for dinner. It is a lively buzzy place and the food is good there too.

Enjoy East Cork, the food, the place and its people!

Ballynatray House, by the Blackwater

(revised 12.03.17)
If you have a cafe, restaurant, visitor attraction, not listed here, please let me know and I will do my best to visit with a view to inclusion in next revision. You may also use the comment facility below.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Samphire by Ballycotton Bay. Of Tropics and Turnips

Samphire by Ballycotton Bay
Of Tropics and Turnips
Tropics for two
Let’s start at the end. Because the end of the superb meal in Samphire, the new restaurant in Garryvoe Hotel, was rather spectacular.

That sweet ending was called Tropics for Two. We shared: Pineapple with white chocolate mousse, coconut, lime and coriander jelly, and passionfruit (16.00 for two). The flesh is removed and cut into in cubes which are then presented on skewers; the shell is then filled with the mousse and topped with the jelly. The coconut is the base for the little “biscuits” that are scattered around. What a delicious combination, meant to be shared!
Scallops
And what of the humble turnip? These rarely appear on Irish menus but the side dish, Confit New Season Turnip, was a delight and this commonly overlooked vegetable, herbed and oiled, emerged as a serious rival to the ubiquitous Butternut Squash. The side dishes are listed on the menu; you get one included with your mains and the others will cost you three euro each.

The food is not the only spectacular element at Samphire. There is a stunning view out over the bay. From my table, I could see the island by Ballycotton, the lighthouse and that path up to the lighthouse. It is also a very comfortable place with a lovely bar in the round taking up about a third of the floor.
Goats cheese
And at this bar, they mix some serious cocktails. One of ours was the Dirty Martini with Dingle gin as the main base. Gins too are featured, some local, some not local. Buy local is my motto and so I went for the Blackwater No. 5 and the tonic was Fever Tree (they haven’t got Poacher’s, yet). Enjoyed that!

You may start with something from their nibbles menu, perhaps Spicy Chorizo al Vino (3.50) or maybe Local Naked Oysters from the Bay at €1.50 each.
Chicken
There’s a good choice of starters too including my choice: Seared King Scallops, Heirloom Tomato Salad, Samphire, Wasabi and Courgette (9.50). Great flavors, textures, very happy with that. CL went for the local cheese, in a starter called All About the Goat: Ardsallagh Beignet, Thyme and Honey Mousse, Lime, Apple, Tomato and Ben’s Brioche, another delightful combination.

We got a lovely welcome at reception and in the restaurant and the service was nice and friendly with a check every now and then to make sure everything was alright. And it was, all through.
The Cod
The local input continued through the mains. CL picked a beauty: East Ferry Chicken char-grilled with gremolata, peperonata, chilli aioli, tender-stem broccoli (20.00), including a lovely side of cous cous. My turnip came with the Cod from the Pond, served with roasted cauliflower (mini-florets) and a Goan spiced cream (19.00). Both plates went back empty, not a scrap left on either, a vote of confidence!

And then it was time for that gorgeous finalé. Not local but we weren't to be denied a touch of the tropics on a rather coolish summer’s evening. Very Highly Recommended Dish in a Very Highly Recommended Restaurant.
Blackwater G&T and Dingle Gin Dirty Martini

Contact details below
Samphire at Garryvoe Hotel
Ballycotton Bay
County Cork
Open from 6.00pm Wed to Sun.
Phone: 021 4646728
Twitter: @Garryvoehotel

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Ballycotton: Bites And Boats. Even Goats!

Ballycotton: Bites And Boat.
Even Goats!
Goats and Gulls on the lighthouse island
Very enjoyable visit today to the Seafood and Shanty Festival on the pier at Ballycotton. We got there early, just in time to catch the boat for a trip around the lighthouse island. The lighthouse staff, now long gone from the island, used keep goats. There are seven up there now, up with the gulls. The building under the lighthouse, in the picture below, was the last building and such an improvement on the previous quarters that it became known as the Ballycotton Hilton. Great trip for a fiver.
Ballycotton Island, the side facing the sea.
Bill Casey's smoked salmon presented by
Ballymaloe Cookery School
Back on dry land, it was time for lunch and quite a choice around the pier. Some inviting things as you might expect on the Ballymaloe Cookery School stall and we started with some of their chicken liver pate and some smoked salmon, both on brown bread. Main course was the Fish and Chips by local restaurant Pier 26, great value at six euro. Also got some sushi for later on this evening from Okawari. Dessert would have to wait a while and mine came in the shape of a slice of Plum and Pistachio Cake when we called to meet friends at the lovely SPP cafe in nearby Shanagarry. There was also the small matter of a carton of Wexford strawberries from a roadside stall in Midleton!
Fish & Chips by Pier 26
Had been thinking that there might be traffic problems in and out of the village. But the folks down there know their business and, with their directions and just a little patience, we had no problem at all, either on the way in or out. Well done to all behind the festival, a big thumbs up from this quarter.

Watch out for these
at Wilton Market
Big Girls

Rachel Allen has had more impressive sets.
But she herself was impressive as always,
tossing away a couple of bad avocados in her stride.

Pistachio and Plum cake at the
delightful Stephen Pearce Potter Cafe, SPP Cafe in Shanagarry

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Get Your Fish. At Pier 26


Get Your Fish At Pier 26
Plaice and crab..
It’s a sunny Sunday, the final one in May; the beauty of Ballycotton is enhanced. And a delicious lunch awaits in friendly Pier 26.

But first a little walk, down the steps to the bottom of the cliffs, a sun trap and a great view of the cliffs themselves, of the nearby island and the lighthouse. All this, right on our doorstep.

Just as well we had booked ahead as most of the restaurant has been block booked by  a christening party. A warm welcome and soon we were studying the menu and a packed specials board. We had expected fish and that board was full of it: John Dory, Haddock, Hake, Plaice, Scallops, Squid, and Gurnard.
Vanilla roasted peaches
CL picked the Pan fried John Dory, carrot purée, tender stem broccoli, garlic and thyme roast potatoes, seaweed butter. An excellent dish, even if the carrot was missing, its absence noted about halfway through!

How many people check their dishes as they arrive to see if every element is present? In any case, we go out to enjoy the food as a whole, not to study every little detail. I fully agree with the well known Rhone winemaker who has said: “Two people talk about love, the poet and the gynaecologist. I prefer the poet.”

And enjoyment was also the operative word as I tucked in to my Poached Plaice, organic spinach, crab, fondant potato, sea vegetable cream (they do a fair bit of foraging here!). An superb combination, so well presented and enthusiastically dispatched, along with a glass of the rare Pazos De Ulloa blend of Torrontes, Treixadura and Palomino. Our other glass was from Australia, Berri Estates unoaked Chardonnay, another refreshing wine.

Top cheese
The dessert list is short enough but full of quality and we got two very good ones indeed. One was the divine Vanilla roasted peaches, Elderflower syrup, lemon Thyme, Madagascar Vanilla ice-cream, Almond brittle.

And the cheeseboard was highly impressive, billed simply as Selection of Irish Artisan cheese, Honey, oatmeal biscuits, Cockburns aged port. The drop of port and the little jug of honey were accompanied by Gubbeen, Toons Bridge smoked Scamorza, Bandon Vale Cheddar and the creamy Cashel Blue and those biscuits were quite a treat as well.

Took our time with that lot. And then it was out of the shade and into the sunny paradise outside, a short stroll down to the pier itself to get a different view of the lighthouse and take in the activity (not too much of that, aside from a few swimmers) on the pier. It will be much different this coming Sunday when the annual Seafood & Shanty festival takes place!

Ballycotton
County Cork
Tel: (021) 206 1449
Twitter: @Pier26cork
Hours
Wed-Thu:
5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Fri-Sat:
5:30 pm - 9:00 pm
Sun:
12:30 pm - 7:30 pm