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Monday, January 15, 2018
Pizza di Cork. And More.
Olivo at Cork Airport Hotel
A change is as good as a rest. They say. And it worked well for us at Olivo, the Italian restaurant in the Cork Airport Hotel. I was impressed with their contribution to the Cork Gourmet Trail late last year and, armed with a “two main course for the price of one” from that event, we headed out there the week before last.
Before arriving, I had more or less settled on my mains: Pizza di Cork with tomato sauce, Clonakilty black pudding, crispy bacon, red onion and Ballymaloe relish (€16.00). And I wasn't at all disappointed. It was excellent, a perfect combination of tastes and flavours, amazing how well the black pudding and relish combined. The base was fine and the red onion also played a key sweetening role. Pizza di Cork was a star.
And across the table, the Nasello, oven baked fillet of hake with roasted courgettes, peperonata and basil pesto (18.00) also proved a winner, proving that you don't need a creamy sauce to get the best from fresh fish.
Olivo is a spacious comfortable casual restaurant for residents and walk-ins alike. There is a bar area, a couple of big screen TVs over the drinks selection (spotted a few bottles there from Torc Brewing in Killarney), a dining area, and an adjoining breakfast space, all sections nicely laid out and lit. The wine list by the way is already on your table - check out that bottle (back and front).
The menu, with a Specials insert, is laid out in typically Italian fashion. You have a good choice of Antipasti and Salads. Pizzas, of course, and also Contorni (sides) which range from a Fresh Garden salad to Hand Cut Fries. No shortage of Pasta dishes either - I was tempted by the Cannelloni. And then there’s meat and fish, including chicken dishes, hamburger, lamb shank and sirloin steak.
We started off with a couple of the Antipasti. CL’s Bruschetta al pomodoro was Tomato, garlic & basil, with rocket & parmesan (8.00). Quite a plateful but easy to eat and delicious.
My pick was the Melanzane ripiene: stuffed aubergine with mozzarella and sun dried tomato pesto (7.00). Another delicious and surprisingly moist plateful, another substantial starter.
Service was friendly, casual but efficient. Nice spot if you’re in the area and looking for “a change”! And if you want a rest, well then you can stay overnight! Parking, by the way, is free for restaurant customers.
Eircode: T12 RPP9
Tel: +353 (0)21 4947500
Thursday, August 24, 2017
Amazing Week Coming Soon
Cork County Mayor, Declan Hurley, was in the Malthouse of the Midleton Distillery last Tuesday to help launch FEAST, the East Cork Food and Drink Festival. The Mayor, well used to the Taste of West Cork Festival, encouraged those involved in FEAST to keep it local.
Kevin Aherne spoke on behalf of FEAST and he too stressed that provenance had to be a key factor in the festival. Not too much point in a local food festival unless the local food and drink is at the heart of it.
This is the first time that the former Midleton festival has been marketed as FEAST and the hope is to spread it even further in the East Cork area in the future. And to do that, even more sponsorship will be necessary.
For now, the committee are grateful for the help coming from Irish Distillers, Cork County Council, Secad, Red FM, Taste Cork, Ireland’s Ancient East, Jim Crowley, Midleton Park Hotel, Market Green, Ballymaloe Relish, East Cork Journal, Pallas, Sage, Cully & Sully and Wiser Recycling.
The cooperative spirit behind the venture was well illustrated on the menu for the evening and we enjoyed a lovely four course meal in the Malthouse. The Farmgate produced the starter, a delicious combination of Ballycotton Seafood smoked salmon, crushed mint potato salad, caper and citrus dressing.
No shortage of wine as the evening progressed to the Ferrit and Lee main course: Beef feather blade marinated with Jameson, fondant potato, celeriac purée, roast onion, baby carrots and thyme jus. Perfect.
Conversation left and right at this stage, live music too, as dessert appeared, courtesy of Sage: Sixty four per cent Midleton chocolate delice, brittle, butterscotch. Say no more!
And on then to the Malthouse cheese board: Ballinrostig Gouda, Bo Rua Cheddar, and Ballymaloe Chutney. And we finished as we had started. With whiskey. On arrival, there was the perfect Jameson serve with ginger ale and lime. And the finalé was a glass of Black Barrel, one of my favourites from Jameson, so called because the barrels are well charred!
Thanks to Irish Distillers, John Wall, Frank Murphy, Village Greengrocer and Wilkies Chocolate, who also had an input in the meal.
Time for the taxis then and to look forward to the big week that begins on Monday, September 4th. You can see the daily highlights here http://www.corkbilly.com/2017/08/feast-in-east-midleton-festival-expands.html, lots of evening meals.
But the closing Saturday, beginning in Midleton at 11.00am is a big day and is indeed billed as the major event. The main street will be packed with stalls and, this year, you’ll have a long table to sit down, relax and eat some of the goodies on sale. No doubt there’ll be tasty bites too from the restaurant tent and the farmers market. And the children will have their own area with music shows, puppets and amusements.
And the FEAST demo marquee has a long list of demos including one with Justin Greene on Bertha’s Revenge Gin, a sourdough demo by top baker Patrick Ryan, a seafood masterclass by Ciaran Scully, an invite to her kitchen by Lilly Higgins and then a East v West cook-off between Kevin Aherne and Marin Shanahan (Fishy Fishy).
If you still have any energy left, then get yourself into the courtyard in Sage on Sunday for a #12 mile BBQ with music, fun and a “BBQ that Midleton has never seen before”.
|September sunshine on the menu. (Sage photo)|
Monday, January 30, 2017
Take Time-out to Slow Down
|Crispy Fish Burger|
Local food heroes such as Jack McCarthy Kanturk, Ballymaloe Relish, and Ardsallagh Cheese, are among those mentioned on the menus. Menus? Well aside from lunch, they also do breakfast and then there’s brunch at the weekend.
You can check out the menus here . But, when in-house, be sure and check out the daily specials board. Service is very good and they’ll more than likely make you aware of the specials in any case.
Soup is on every day at lunch-time. But which one? Just check the board. We did - there was a choice - and both of us settled on the Roast Tomato and Fennel Soup (4.90 a bowl or 2.50 a cup). Very tasty indeed and a good start to the meal.
Broadly speaking, the lunch menu is divided into two categories: various types of sandwiches (and very good they looked too as they passed our table) and another section under “From the kitchen”. The sandwiches generally cost 7.90 or 8.90.
CL picked her dish from The Kitchen: Tandoori roast chicken burger with herb and lemon aioli, red onion, plum tomato, leaves and brioche bun served with Shoestring Fries (10.90). She enjoyed that. Good for the athletes among you; by coincidence, I spotted this on an on-line cycling magazine: If you choose dishes baked in a tandoor and avoid those with sauces, then it can be one of the better meal options.
Not too sure about all the French fries though and I got a big helping of those same chips with my dish. I'd been tempted by the description of the Velo Crispy Fish Sandwich on the board: Crispy Cod with a Brioche Bun, beef tomato, red onion, gem lettuce, homemade tartar sauce and fries (12.90). No shortage of those chips but no shortage of the excellent cod either. The tartar, by the way, was replaced by a tomato sauce.
We had arrived about 12.30pm and by now the place was full, a testament to its popularity. By the way, if you’re in a rush and chasing the pace setters in the office, Velo do take out as well.
3 George’s Quay
Tel: 021 4323044
Mon - Fri: 7:30 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Sunday: 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Monday, July 27, 2015
36 Hours in West CorkNot that I was counting!
I was thinking of Garrett Oliver, master brewer at New York’s Brooklyn Brewery, while I was eating lunch at Union Hall’s Coffee Shop last Thursday. Garrett related at the Ballymaloe LitFest how people, on first drinking one of his beers, tell him that it is so good it doesn't taste like beer. Garrett tells them, with some satisfaction, that what they have been drinking before is not real beer.
Well, here in Union Hall, our first call on our most recent trip to West Cork, I was eating real panini. I’m sure there are other good paninis out there but it is superb here, like nothing I've ever tasted before. It was packed with chicken, brie and pesto, all adding up to great flavours and terrific textures.
Having been in West Cork regularly, particularly this year, I were looking for one or two different things to see and do. West Cork obliged. Big time.
|Graveyard on Myross Island|
We got some great views of it as we took the narrow road, rising up above the water, heading for a bridge that would take us to the other side and down to the peace and calm of Castletownsend with its distinguishing tree in the middle of the street, acting as a roundabout.
|On the road above Reen Pier|
After all that activity, I felt we deserved a drink and knew just where to get it. On the way into Baltimore, we stopped at Casey’s Hotel. They have recently opened a microbrewery here and some of their Sherkin Lass Pale Ale went down a treat in the beautiful beer garden that overlooks the waters of Baltimore. They also do a red ale.
|Rolling hills of West Cork|
In the morning, we were down on the pier, hoping to get a place on one of the boats going out to see the dolphins and, hopefully, a whale or two. But we had no luck. The lesson here is to book in advance.
Down then to Old Creamery Cafe in Kilcrohane. This is a spanking clean spot with a menu of sandwiches, paninis, and salads and some home baking. We went for tea and some of that baking. I picked a Raspberry and Lemon Curd Sponge and those raspberries, fresh from the garden, were spectacularly juicy.
|Courtyard garden at Rolf's|
Refreshed now, we drove up the other side of this spectacular peninsula, heading for Durrus. Our stop though was at Ahakista to pay our respects to the three hundred plus victims of the Air India bombing disaster twenty years ago. Quite a few mementos, mainly wreaths, scattered here since the commemoration last June. Such a waste of life, such sadness.
|Megalithic tomb on Sheep's Head|
|Sweet! Old Creamery Cafe|
|Ahakista's Air India memorial|
See also: Pilgrim's Restaurant in Rosscarbery
Monday, November 25, 2013
My Curious Case
|Pouring or posing? Mike Kane gets into the swing of it.|
Now, how would I fill my case? I did start the tasting, as you do, with the whites but it was the reds that really stood out for me, four in particular. And, if I had to pick just one, it would be the Tim Adams Bluey’s Block Grenache 2009 from the Bibendum table, light (not just in colour) and lovely, a velvet touch with an unexpected 14.5% abv!
And then I found, at table four, a new Portuguese star with an intense fruity palate, a full bodied wine with a seriously silky long finish, the Quinta da Lagoalva. Think we’ll be hearing more of this, a blend of Castelao and Touriga Nacional.
Paul Kiernan of Curious had tipped me off about the Château la Négly La Falaise 2011 and he was right. This, from the Languedoc, has it all: aroma, palate, finish. Another absolute gem from Curious.
Tom from Bodegas Exopto has some serious contenders too and the red that really caught my attention here was the Dominio del Viento Crianza 2010. From La Rioja, it is fruit forward and deliciously drinkable.
Some people ignore Rioja when looking for whites. That is a mistake. And Tom had just the bottle to prove it: Horizonte de Exopto Rioja Blanco 2011. This Viura has spent a year in old barrels and is a beauty.
|Love that Enchanted Tree label. And their wines too!|
Other whites, that I would be very happy with, include the Viñedos de la Posada Fairtrade Torrontes 2012, the King’s Bastard 2011 Chardonnay, and the Enchanted Tree Semillon Sauvignon 2012.
I think that leaves just two to make up my mixed case. No problem. Back to Curious Mike and his wine of the year: Boschi dei Signori Nebbiola d'Alba DOC 2009 and finally, at Curious Matt’s high class table, we’ll take the Enchanted Tree Pinot Noir 2012.
Man does not live by wine alone, of course, and the Kanes had, as usual, a few local food producers on hand. Ummera Smokery and Ballymaloe Relish are by now well-known to most of you but I hadn’t come across Christie’s Celtic Kitchen before.
In 2011, they started off with flavoured Oatcakes, Cured Salmon and Relishes. Now they have expanded their range of ready prepared foods – I enjoyed some spiced up Cous Cous balls on Saturday – and are into home catering and delivery, and have won gold at the 2012 Blas na hEireann Awards in Dingle. Check them out here and on Facebook.
Back to the wines. If you didn’t get your order into Curious last Saturday, you still have plenty of time to order a case or two before Christmas. You can call out to the warehouse at the Kinsale Road Roundabout or indeed order online. See all the contact details here.
|Christie had some nice bites! Nice smile too.|