Showing posts with label Baltimore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Baltimore. Show all posts

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Rolf’s in Baltimore. Local Produce. Continental Touch.

Rolf’s in Baltimore
Local Produce. Continental Touch.
Quail and apricots
Lots of eating places in Baltimore. I’ve been to a few but last month’s visit was my first to Rolf’s Country House and it was an excellent meal in a lovely room with a friendly and efficient service all through.

Some rich fare on offer here, cream sauces feature in many dishes, and there is quite a middle European touch to the desserts. Here you can find (not necessarily all together) a Flemish Apple Tart, a Black Forest Gateau, Frederike’s Chocolate orange cake and do watch out for the Swiss Chocolate Tart.

Not all heavy though! My starter was the Fresh Brown Crab, served with salad and Marie Rose sauce (10.50). An excellent dish, flavour from the waters from the nearby ocean well matched with the classic sauce. CL too got off to a tasty start: West Cork Black Pudding, on a bed of caramelised apple and served with pan-fried quail eggs (9.50).
Starters and sunset
Quite a good wine choice at Rolf’s. Indeed, they have a wine-bar as well. But would we have red or white? In the end, we settled on the Vier Jahreszeiten Spatburgunder (31.00). This velvety Pinot Noir with its excellent aromas and flavour was a decent match for the various dishes.

Mains for me was the arresting 2 Quails Deboned, flambéed with cognac, and served with apricots and a cream sauce (24.00). This was dispatched, with delight. The sides of potatoes and vegetables were also cooked to perfection and CL got rice with her classic Beef Stroganoff, flambéd with vodka and served with onions and mushrooms and, yes, enriched with a cream sauce (24.50).
Stroganoff
Desserts (6.50) were not going to be ignored on this occasion! If you are giving into temptation, you might as well go all the way. More cream with CL’s delicious strawberries, vanilla ice cream and shortbread biscuits. And mine? Well that was Gertrud’s Dark Swiss Chocolate Tart, a sumptuous treat (including cream!). For the finalé, I did very much enjoy a glass of superb Warre’s Otima 10 year old tawny.

After all that, I had to “race” the mile down to the seafront to get a few photos of the spectacular sunset. Just about made it!

Aside from the restaurant and all day cafe, Rolf's also have The Private Dining Room, now available for parties of 10-14 people.

Rolf’s Country House
Baltimore Hill, Baltimore, Co. Cork
Phone: +353 (0)28 20289
email : info@Rolfsholidays.eu
website: www.rolfsHolidays.eu


Desserts

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Islands in the Sun. Ferries and Food in West Cork

Islands in the Sun
Ferries and Food in West Cork
 It was sunshine all the way for last week's two day excursion to West Cork. It looks as if there is no shortage of sunshine this week either.


Once we knew the weather was “settled” we determined to re-visit two islands, Garnish near Glengarriff and Sherkin near Baltimore. West Cork of course has many more islands and most have a ferry service. Check here for island and ferry details and do look out also for the Ten Island Tour.

Our base was the Celtic Ross in Rosscarbery but Garnish was our first destination so we took the R585 via Crookstown and headed off down on the old Bantry line. On reaching Kealkil, where our road joins the R584 from Macroom, we felt the need for a quick pit-stop as we did have a specific time for the boat from Glengarriff.


Italian Garden on Garnish
At the junction we spotted a board saying Cully & Sully Soup and Brown Bread for three euro. The Gala shop, also the Post Office, is right there and, within minutes, on the seats outside, we were tucking in to a tasty lunch, great value too.

On then to Glengarriff where we caught the ferry (€10.00) from the Blue Pool to Garnish. But first there were a couple of stops to see the many seals basking on the rocks around Seal Island. Lots of close-ups taken!

Garnish (€4.00 entrance) is an amazing mixture of gardens, arboretums, clock tower, Italianate buildings, even a Martello tower and will look even better in the weeks and months ahead as the trees, shrubs and flowers put on their summer show. Great views too over the bay and mountains.
Dessert at the Clonakilty Hotel
Back then on the ferry, and again a stop, this to say goodbye to the seals. Next call was to Manning's Emporium for a cool drink and a chat with Andrew. Manning’s will of course feed you, and feed you well, but we had a dinner date that evening. Soon we were making our way through Bantry and Skibbereen and then we got a lovely warm welcome as we checked into the spick and span Celtic Ross.

That evening’s dinner was in the restaurant of the Clonakilty Hotel, very enjoyable too. Afterwards we spent a hour or so in the Celtic Ross bar sipping a pint or two of Franciscan Well’s Rebel Red, available on draught.

After a hearty breakfast we were off on another island trip, making the short journey to Baltimore to connect with the ferry (€10.00) to Sherkin Island. We thought we'd be the only passengers until a large bus parked up and some forty Italian students joined us. You’d be hard pressed to find a more well mannered, well behaved bunch.
Horses graze on Sherkin.
 Like Garnish, Sherkin is noted for its peace and quiet. Some good walks too that we enjoyed though again the place will look better in a month or so when the fuchsias are in full bloom. We made our way back towards the ferry point as lunch time approached and called up to the nearby Islander’s Rest where we got one (well two) of the best fish and chips ever. Hake was used and it was so well cooked.


I don't know how many of you know about the pirate raid on Baltimore by Algerian pirates in June 1631 when 107 locals were taken away to be sold into slavery and never seen again. You can read all about it and indeed see some artifacts of the time in the newly restored Baltimore Castle (also known as Dún na Séad). More history too in this recently restored building that started life in the 13th century. An interesting visit (€4.00) and from the top you get terrific views over the town and the harbour.


Beach on Sherkin
Off then towards Rosscarbery again, this time via the villages of Glandore and Union Hall (where you see from the memorial to those drowned at sea that it isn't always as nice as it had been to us these two sunny days).

Dinner that evening was taken in the hotel dining room. With chefs of the calibre of Graeme Campbell and Alex Petit, we were expecting good things and that’s exactly what we got. The highlight was my main course of local pork belly served with a White Bean and Chorizo cassoulet. The pork comes from the Allshire’s nearby and is only available here. Well worth a detour.


Fish & Chips at Islander's Rest
 Indeed, our final visit on the following day was to Caherbeg to see the free-range pigs and have a chat with Avril about her busy life in food. It turned out to be a lovely visit, memorable for many things, including a lunch of her special Black-pudding lasagna! And the sun was still shining as we headed east and back to the city.
Somebody's shopping arriving on Sherkin!





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!


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Baltimore’s Saddleback Pig Company


Baltimore’s Saddleback Pig Company

Got a pleasant surprise on a recent trip to the Bandon Farmers Market when I came across the Saddleback Pig Company from Baltimore. Stopped to have a look at the joints, the rashers and the sausages and soon had a hot piece of sausage in my hand as a sample. Gorgeous stuff, full of great flavours and a lovely supple texture, real meat.

Got a pack of the sausages, a new mix: gluten free sausages 100% pork,  cracked black pepper, cumin, oregano, sweet smoked paprika and garlic.  Very tasty indeed and they sold out last Saturday! So get to Bandon early this Saturday or maybe Clon on the Friday.

Had a chat with Nathan Hall who is very proud of his small family run farm at Rath Hill on Baltimore: “We are a small family run farm situated specialising in the breeding and rearing of rare breed Saddleback pigs. Though only a small business we concentrate on the welfare of all our pigs which are reared and run outside where they are free to root and forage. Our pigs are raised on a diet of mainly vegetables and rolled barley which are chemical free and do not contain any growth enhancers allowing the pigs to mature over a longer period of time giving the meat a fuller flavour.”


Their Dry cured bacon is naturally smoked or unsmoked in a cure made up of sea salt, raw cane sugar and a mixture of herbs and spices. Hams are produced in a brine of white wine, rosemary, bay, thyme, pepper and juniper. All cuts of pork are available fresh or frozen. And they certainly looked great on the stall in Bandon.

You can find them at Clonakilty Farmers Market every Friday and in Bandon Farmers Market every Saturday. Find out much more about them on their Facebook page.


Location: Rath Hill, Baltimore Co. Cork.
Phone 086 2633219.
Email saddlebackpigcompany@gmail.com

Monday, September 17, 2012

Outdoor Bliss at The Glebe Gardens Cafe

The Glebe Gardens Cafe
Entrance
 Great to eat outdoors under the sun and even better to eat something special. I enjoyed just such an occasion last week in the Cafe at The Glebe Gardens in Baltimore, a terrific location with innovative cooking and very friendly staff.

They do have an indoors but we ate in a courtyard type setting, out there with the birds and the bees, the sun shining and the specials on the board. CL picked the special soup: Courgette, Pea and Mint (€6.00). The balance of the ingredients was finely judged and, along with some gorgeous bread, with seeds inside and out, it was a terrific start.

I was just as happy with mine, The 3 Fish Chowder (€8.00), a regular item on the menu. It was described as a large bowl of chowder. It sure was large and it was also top notch. Also got the seeded bread with that.


We both agreed on the main course: Goats Cheese, Quinoa and Herb fritters, served with a garden salad (the garden is behind the wall), and Glebe tomato and chilli jam (€9.50). Again, a terrific combination of ingredients with the spicy and herby bits enhancing, rather than overpowering, the main ingredients. Really top class and at a decent price.




We should have been satisfied at that point but with class cooking so far, there was no way we were going to skip dessert, especially since we had been tempted all along by that big blackboard on the opposite wall.

I picked the lovely Peach and Almond Tart, excellent and well balanced. But the best looking dessert was at the other side where CL was tucking into the Lemon Curd Meringue Cake, easy on the eye and so sweet to eat. “The best dessert I’ve ever had,” she declared. Begged a few spoonfuls and agreed it was something else. A pretty photograph for sure and a delightful dessert for certain. Each dessert cost a fiver.

We were in the area for the fabulous Taste of West Cork festival and the Glebe told us they were also taking part. A treat indeed for those lucky punters who booked their “From Plot to Plate Evening”. Watch out for that event next year but you’ll be welcome at The Glebe anytime. Not quite anytime – make sure to check the site  for opening times. Oh, one more thing: they don't accept credit cards. Highly recommended.