Showing posts with label Ballyvolane House. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ballyvolane House. Show all posts

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.


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, including 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 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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Taste of the Week. Bertha’s Revenge Gin

Taste of the Week
Bertha’s Revenge Gin

“Most important of all for us was the desire to produce a gin that other people would enjoy as much as we do.” So says Justin Green who, with Anthony Jackson, founded Bertha’s Revenge Milk Gin in 2015. The marvellous gin, which walked off the shelves of one leading Cork drinks store over Christmas, is our rich and smooth Taste of the Week. Any week!

The gin is named after Bertha, the oldest cow in the world, who died a few weeks short of her 49th birthday. The Whey spirit they use is made by Carbery in West Cork.

The producers - the tiny distillery is in Ballyvolane House - are so happy with the complexity and smoothness of this milk based gin that they really enjoy sipping it with a “splash of water”.

But they add “she works very well with a good quality tonic”. And she performs well also in a martini. Bertha, shaken with ice and a suggestion of vermouth, poured into a chilled glass with a simple zest garnish delivers “a gloriously smooth and precise cocktail experience”. Try it for yourself - stockists here - about 50 euro per bottle. You’ll also find it in various mixes in leading bars and restaurants.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Ballyvolane House Lunch with Munster Wine & Dine. Gardens, Glamping, Gin

Ballyvolane House
Gardens, Glamping, Gin
Munster Wine & Dine on tour!
Initials galore at Ballyvolane House on Sunday when Munster Wine and Dine (MW & D) visited for lunch. Ballyvolane is the home of Bertha’s Revenge, so G and T (or maybe gin and just a few drops of water) was a topic. And it was our host Justin Green who brought up PG, paying guests!

Indeed, those first paying guests were a turning point for the house and the Green family who had been farming (dairy and tillage) there since 1953. The farming wasn't going very well by 1980 and it was then they started to take in paying guests.
Glamping!
Justin told us the house had been built in 1728 by Sir Richard Pyne and has been remodelled since, the 19th century remodelling included the Italian facade.

The PG model worked quite well until the crash and, like many other places, the Ballyvolane enterprise “fell off a cliff in 2008-10”. And then the wedding offering was put centre-stage and another rescue pulled off.
Play with me? Please

With vast grounds, of parkland and gardens, including a three acre walled garden, it is gorgeous setting for a wedding. And a fun one two. There is a 7-a-side soccer pitch laid out for the young to let off steam, tennis courts too and so many beautiful locations, particularly in the Rock garden, for special photographs.

With just six bedrooms in the house, accommodation was a bit of a problem. But then Justin and wife Jenny came up with Glamping! And just last year, they started producing Bertha’s Revenge, their little distillery in part of an old barn.

In the Rock. Walled Garden to the right.

That Rock garden, with its tall trees and shrubs and many extra plantings (colour all year round), is a delight and is often the setting for outdoor weddings. Justin’s 83 year old father has put great work into the area (this was overgrown and out of control a few years ago). He is still a great help and regularly clocks in a nine hour day just mowing the lawns.

The walled garden is also put to good use, providing vegetables and greens for the table. And soon, more fruit trees will be planted, with distilling in mind!
One of the lakes, once dug by hand, now restored.
Our walkabout with Justin had now reached the distillery, As you probably know, Bertha’s Revenge is milk based. The Whey spirit they use here in Ballyvolane is made by Carbery in West Cork, a spirit that is richer and smoother than others. It is Irish of course and also carries spices well. It is delivered at 96% and then about twenty botanicals, including love, are added. Their own spring water is used to cut the abv to 42 per cent before bottling.

“We knew that we wanted our gin to be local in nature, brimming with integrity and to possess an individuality that at some point might exceed the sum of it parts. Most important of all for us was the desire to produce a gin that other people would enjoy as much as we do.”
One of the twin stills

And so, with Anthony Jackson and Justin as “step-fathers”, Bertha was re-born as Bertha’s Revenge Irish Milk Gin in 2015. Bertha, the oldest cow in the world (dying just a few weeks short of her 49th birthday), was well loved. There was a huge attendance at both the wake and funeral! Read the full story of the Kerry legend here

Bertha produced over 39 calves so she has a lot of relations still alive and the gin producers intend to get some of the younger ones and raise them in Ballyvolane. “She was a wonderful old lady,” said Justin,  “and we are delighted to bring her back in spirit.” 


Justin in the distillery

He took us through the various stages of making the gin which is then bottled and labelled on site. Four to six hundred bottles a week are produced here. “It is a neat sipping gin, maybe add a few drops of water!” So no G & T!

Then it was time for lunch, over 40 of us seated at the long table in The Barn, warm and cosy despite the cold outside. Our starter was : Pear, rocket, nuts and Cashel blue cheese salad. The main course was Ballyvolane Saddleback Pork with outstanding vegetables and beautifully roasted potatoes. And dessert was Fresh Lemon Tart with extra including ice-cream, cream, and mixed berries.
Checking out the botanicals

The food was delicious, beautifully cooked. They believe in local: “This means from Ballyvolane’s walled garden, farm, river and from the local area. We rear our own rare-breed pigs (Saddlebacks, Gloucester Old Spots & Durocs). We are lucky being situated in County Cork as there is an abundance of fantastic artisan food producers close by.”

“Our beef, lamb and mutton come from Michael McGrath in Lismore, fish and shellfish from O’Connell’s Seafood in the English Market, Cork and from Ballycotton Seafood in Midleton, our bacon, sausages, black and white puddings and loins of bacon come from Caherbeg Pork Ltd in Rosscarberry and artisan cheeses from all over Cork, Waterford and Tipperary.”
Just some of the botanicals

It was a lovely meal, generous plates. Take the salad for example - you just helped yourself to the freshness of the leaves and found tasty cubes of the cheese and more. The pork, their own, was top class and the vegetables (carrot and leek) and roast potatoes were outstanding. And the dessert too was spot on. We were all well fed and fed well and nobody was stuffed with heavy sauces or chips or anything like that. 
Dessert. You get the tart and then add to it yourself. So the presentation is all mine!

Country living at its best to bring the curtain down on another successful Munster Wine and Dine season. See you all in the new year when the 2017 programme will be sketched in at the launch in February or March. Watch this space!
MW&D chairman Colm McCan welcomes the members to the long table.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Howling Gale, Shu Pu Erh and Country Loaf


FOOD PATROL

Got a good nose for that those strange things the experts find when they sniff a sample of wine? No wine in Little Buddha’s in McCurtain Street but you could certainly give your sniffing "muscles" a workout in this treasure trove of teas and coffees from around the world.
Black tea

Called in there today, after a longish absence, on the lookout for some Pu-erh, the black Chinese tea. They had at least six on the packed table (must have been about 100 types altogether). 

Lifted the lids on the big jars and sniffed. Some were very flowery (you could see the petals  and stems) and in the end I settled for some Shu Pu Erh and some Pu Erh Pomegranate and Nettle.

The first is a four year old loose black tea, from the Menghai district in Yunnan province, the second is 79% tea to which have been added nettle leaves (7.2%) and pomegranate seeds (1.3%).

I let slip that I had been drinking branded varieties of Pu Erh. The lady was rather shocked. “Oh, those are very weak.”  She warned. “These are much stronger. For the morning, not for the evening.”

They also have a big selection of flavoured coffees and lots of accessories. If you can't get into town (to give those sniffers a test), then the next best thing to view the website.

North Main Street proved fruitful. Called into Michael in Bradley’s  for some Howling Gale made by the Eight Degree Brewery  in Mitchelstown.

Man does not live by beer alone so next stop was Daily Bread, just a few doors up, where I bought a lovely Country Loaf. The young lady behind the counter while plying me with a sample of their breads along with some tasty Spanish ham told me they had recently taken over the shop and would have some publicity material available shortly. I’ll let you know.

O’Brien Chop House are well known for their Curry Nights but there are some big differences on July  22nd as the event is being held in Ballyvolane House and is in aid of charity. Get the details here

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

BALLYVOLANE HOUSE

We are delighted to be hosting a charity 'Beer & Curry Feast' in the vintage tent in the gardens at Ballyvolane House on Friday, 22 July 2011. All proceeds will go towards the Malawi Orphan Appeal Fund and we are expecting over 100 people to attend.


For more details and all the other summer news from Ballyvolane House, please click here