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

Monday, November 20, 2017

Long, Lazy Sunday at Ballymaloe

Garden to Plate at Ballymaloe.
Superb Craft Fair Too.


There were gasp when Ballymaloe House gardener Mags Coughlan told us she grows 4,500 leeks here each year. Soon we would see some of them on our plates as we enjoyed lunch in the house. The garden tour, a mead tasting, a long leisurely lunch and a visit to the ever increasing craft fair in the Grainstore and Big Shed, were all part of a lovely day that brought the curtain down on the Munster Wine and Dine activities for 2017. A good day. A good year.
Here's where we get our hazelnuts

Hazel Allen introduced the fifty or so of us to Mags who told us the aim here in the walled garden and surrounding area is to grow “seasonal and unusual”. Even with Mags working flat out, there is no way the garden could fully supply the house, so Ballymaloe gets much of its regular plant and vegetables supplies from local growers, a traditional relationship maintained.


That leaves the gardener, in consultation with the chefs of course, to concentrate on something different, a crop of sea-kale for example, followed in turn by asparagus and artichoke. And then there are also edible flowers and flowers for decoration. One of the specialities of the walled garden, taking advantage of a south-facing wall, are peaches. Lots of herbs here too, of course.

All is grown from seed so that means glasshouses and we walked through there admiring the lines of harvested pumpkins (also on the day’s menu). We were then shown the relatively new cider apple orchard; varieties here include Dabinett and Bramley. Here too we saw the hazel bushes which provide quite a harvest and have a bit of growing to do yet!

All had been quite in the fields where the pigs are kept until the arrival of our group. Then little groups of the younger pigs came rushing out to greet the visitors. They may not have been so eager had they known that the same people would be eating their older siblings later on.

Back then to the conservatory room in the house for an aperitif, thanks to Kate Dempsey of the Kinsale Mead Co. We sampled her Atlantic Dry Mead and also Wild Red Mead  – and then she made some delicious cocktails using her mead (and also the new Beara Gin). Quite a few were very impressed by the mead. Both meads are honey based and are rapidly becoming widely available in Supervalu’s and speciality shops such as URRU in Bandon and Bradley’s in the city's North Main Street.

Kate and her meads
Time now for lunch, the main event. A good start is half the battle. And so it was here with a delicious warming bowl of Garden Pumpkin Soup with Chilli and Parsley Oil. More simple food followed, simply delicious Ballycotton Crab Paté with cucumber and dill salad.

We had a choice for the main course. CL chose the Poached Ballycotton Monkfish with Chive Butter Sauce served with Leeks and Romanesco while mine was the Roast Ballymaloe Farm Pork with red cabbage and Bramley Apple Sauce. Each, with Pommes Duchesse and Glazed Carrots on the side, was superb.

The temptation levels then soared with the arrival of the famous Ballymaloe Dessert trolley. We were like the little piggies! Pavlova, poached pears, chocolate cake (and sauce), and so much more, all washed down with little sips of sweet Jurançon. Pratsch Gruner Veltliner and Solstice Rhone Valley were the earlier wines.

After the tea or coffee, or a garden infusion, there was a quick review of 2017, a raffle for foodie prizes and an announcement that Munster Wine and Dine had decided to donate €300.00 to Penny Dinners.
Crab

Some of us then took a walk around the annual craft fair. The opening day, Saturday, had been busy but one stall holder told me Sunday, the day of our visit, was even busier and she was looking to getting her feet up for the night! There were some gorgeous crafts here but, looking for a particular item with certain restrictions as to material, size and colour, proved mission impossible for me! The search begins again next week at the big Craft Fair in the City Hall and the smaller one at Franciscan Well Brew Pub.
Sweet stuff



Darkness had now settled on this amazing East Cork farm and our bus had arrived. A very satisfied group headed back to the city, bang on schedule. Here’s to another great Munster Wine and Dine season in 2018. Happy Christmas everyone from Eithne, Richie, Colm, Beverly, Michael, Stuart, and yours truly.
Craft Fair

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