Showing posts with label Bandon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bandon. Show all posts

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Whiskeys of Ireland by Peter Mulryan.

Review: The Whiskeys of Ireland
by Peter Mulryan
Midleton
“Whiskey. Irish for droplets of pure pleasure.” WB Yeats.

You’ll find tour guides in the many new Irish distilleries telling you that whiskey is a corruption of the Gaelic Uisce Beatha (water of life). No need to believe those novices! Yeats got it right and his interpretation is quoted on the back cover of the Whiskeys of Ireland by Peter Mulryan. 

Whenever I get my hands on a new Irish food or drink book, I usually flick through the opening pages to see where it was printed and am invariably disappointed. This, printed in the Czech Republic, is no exception. If we are expected to support the Irish food and drinks industry, then our food and drink writers should do all they can to support Irish printers. But that's about the only gripe  (one more - there is no index), I have against this excellent book.



The new Connacht Distillery in Ballina
Because, for a long time, there were spirits galore but no definition of whiskey, Mulryan says it is difficult to trace its evolution. But distilling was alive and well, if not up to FSAI standards, in the 15th century and the Crown passed a law in 1556, in vain, to put a stop to it. Eventually, after the collapse of the Gaelic order, a licensing system was imposed.

The first Irish patent was granted in 1608 but cronyism and corruption led to the collapse of the system. Taxation reared its head in 1661 and that reinforced the illegal side of the trade. And the same happened when a stiff tax regime was imposed in 1779. The underground operators sold their poitín and that became “the drink of the people”.


A more benign tax regime led to a booming whiskey industry in the 1820s and onwards. But that led to widespread alcohol problems and in stepped Fr Matthew. Distilleries closed by the dozen. 

On display in Teelings, Newmarket, Dublin
The respectable side of the business examined the newly invented Aeneas Coffey column still and he had some initial success here before turning to a warmer welcome in Scotland. Ireland, pants down in Mulryan’s phrase, missed the revolution and would pay dearly.

Close to the end of the century though, the big players in Irish whiskey, including Allman’s in Bandon, were flying high again. Phylloxera dealt the French distillers a hammer blow and that too helped the Irish in what Mulryan terms “the Golden Years”.


Scotland too was on the rise but the bubble would burst as the century turned, fraudulent trading, recession, wars, and increased taxes all contributing.

With the author (left) in his Blackwater Distillery
Ireland now had its own problems: wars and then partition. We were behind internationally and now the domestic market collapsed. And, in the US, prohibition was looming. Closure followed closure.

There were back doors to the US market. The Scots didn't hesitate, the Irish did. Then we Irish had the “Economic War” with England and next came WW2. After they were over, in the US, the Scots were in and, except for Irish Coffee, the Irish were out.

It was a long tailspin, halted only in 1966 when the three (yes, 3!) remaining distilleries amalgamated. Eventually a new outlook led to a new distillery in Midleton (1975). John Jameson was the brand that led to the current revival, the brand that eventual and current owners Pernod Ricard used as a wedge to once more open the international market to Irish Whiskey.

Cyril (left) and Barry of St Patrick's in Cork
Meanwhile, Mulryan relates that an opportunity was spotted by John Teeling at Cooley and, thanks to the eagle-eyed entrepreneur, the Irish industry acquired a new and vibrant arm, an arm that is still reaching out. Now virtually every county has a distillery, many of them micro. The consumer, home and abroad, has never had it so good. Cheers to John Jameson (5 million cases in 2015) and the French marketeers.

Those marketeers include a salesman selling Jameson in a Vendeé supermarket sometime in the 90s. He was an insistent guy and I bought a bottle (the price was good too!) and I still have the free cassette tapes that came with it!


Mulryan's fascinating book covers the history, the rises and the falls and the stunning re-birth, in a lively manner, great for the experienced and novice alike. It is well worth seeking out for the history alone. But he also casts his keen and experienced eye (he founded and runs the Blackwater Distillery) over the current scene (sending out a warning to mid-sized operators).

Whiskey by Hyde's
The closing chapters take us, in plain and engaging English, through the making and blending and, most importantly, the tasting of our beloved Uisce Beatha, sorry droplets of pure pleasure. Slainte!

The Whiskeys of Ireland is published by the O’Brien Press and is widely available. I spotted it in Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork  selling for €19.95.
Hands on research in Dingle recently


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Rare Cookery Books Workshop – Keith Floyd

Rare Cookery Books Workshop – Keith Floyd. A Taste of West Cork Food Festival Event. Urru Culinary Store Bandon Saturday 10 September 4.30pm

If you love your rare cookery books and recipes and are interested in showing, sharing and seeing other people’s rare books then come join us for a round table show ‘n’ tell workshop.

The Rare Cookery Books Workshop continues this year with a particular focus on Keith Floyd – a one time resident of Kinsale and acknowledged by many chefs as the “Original Celebrity Chef”.

Food writer and Floyd fan, Dianne Curtin will lead the discussion by sharing her books from the era out of which Keith Floyd emerged. Kinsale based chef, Una Crosbie, will also share her memories and books from Keith Floyd.

So, if you are a fan of Floyd or have a rare cookery book or two that you would like to share with like-minded enthusiasts or if you are just curious, then come along, with your books, memories and little stories for an afternoon of chit chat and discovery.


€6 including light refreshment
Booking advised as space is limited.
Contact Ruth for further details and booking 023-8854731 or book on line www.urru.ie

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Chapel Steps Three Years On. Tempting New Menu.

Chapel Steps Three Years On
Tempting New Menu
Monkfish

Bandon’s Chapel Steps celebrated their 3rd birthday in September and confidently moved into their fourth year with a brilliant new Autumn Menu, full of great choice and sprinkled with innovation too. All well cooked and also well served if our visit last week is anything to go by.

The lovely room, the centrepiece of the O'Reillys’ restaurant, will still see orders for fish and steak. These have been on the menu from day one, the fish from nearby Union Hall, the black Angus beef from even nearer home.

Pork

There were at least three different fish dishes on the menu when we called and, indeed, one of the specials allowed you to taste all three on the one platter. Our choice was the Medallions of curried scented monkfish in a tempura batter with saffron yogurt and tangy couscous. This was delicious, the fish not smothered by the thin veil of batter, and the tangy couscous was a terrific match.

And my choice? Not an easy one. Even after the fish and steak, there was still a Butternut and Feta Gratin, their Beef Burger, Duck 2 Way, Blade of Beef and chicken. The one I did pick was the Celebration of Pork: pan-fried pork belly, Rosscarbery black pudding croquette, smoked pork cheek, celeriac puree, salsify, apple and pear jus. Quite a long description but just a short one to sum it up: excellent. That smoked cheek came in its own mini-pie and was quite a treat. A quality dish indeed.
Mackerel Smokie

Back to the starter now and again the thing that strikes me is the great choice on the list. You can actually see the full menu (aside from specials) here. I don’t think I’ve ever had a mackerel smokie before so I went for it: diced smoked mackerel, tomato concasse, and topped with parmesan herb crust. Full of texture and flavour and a great way to start.

Our other starter was the Chicken liver paté with fig and apricot compote and warm toast. Easy enough to put out a slice of top notch paté but matching it with this particular compote made it a winner.

Tart

And another winner came at the end. We were facing defeat though when the dessert list was presented but made one last joint effort and ordered the Warm Treacle Tart, with praline, honeycomb, quince, caramel sauce and caramel ice-cream. Don't often see this on a menu. More's the pity as it was terrific. Next time though, we might manage two between us, this and perhaps the White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake!

And the good news is that the Treacle Tart features on the Chapel Step’s Christmas Menus, both lunch and dinner. The menus feature a mix of seasonal dishes (including Christmas Pudding of course) and some of their regular favourites. Prices are good: €22.00 for lunch, €30.00 for dinner.

We had a lovely meal the other night, trying out the new seasonal menu as guests.

Photo courtesy of Chapel Steps
Chapel Steps
(023) 885 2581

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ortus Café & Brasserie. Bandon’s New Arrival

Ortus Café & Brasserie
Bandon’s New Arrival
Ortus has spiced up the dining scene in Bandon since its arrival on St Patrick’s Quay earlier this year. They started in February and were fully into their stride by April.

Though there is quite a bit on Tripadvisor, I hadn't heard anything about it until a week ago. I was in Bandon for the Frank Krawczyk event at the weekend and, afterwards, strolled over to Patrick's Quay for dinner.
Pork belly
Pretty good menu there, fish from Baltimore, beef from a local butcher, and it took us a few minutes to study it. First up, we got a basket of tasty bread along with some even tastier hummus. And then came a delightful amuse bouche of foccacia bread topped with cheese and vegetables.

Soon our starters were served, looking well, all at the right temperature. One was the Crunchy Goats Cheese with aubergine, and paprika relish, mixed leaves and balsamic dressing (8.25), the other Pulled Pork with Gubbeen fritters and a garlic mayo (7.75). Both were excellent and each had a little touch of spice that seems to feature, in a rather pleasant way, across the menu.
Pork starter

Amuse Bouche
Now we were really looking forward to the main courses and we would not be disappointed. My pick was the Crispy Lamb cutlets that came with a mildly spicy Ras el Hanout and a delicious confit of Mediterranean vegetables, a lively flavoured dish with a great mix of textures and flavours, the vegetables playing quite a role here,  adding hugely to the pleasure of eating this one (18.50).

Our other main course was Slow roasted spicy pork belly with tomatoes and roast potatoes, also some mashed potatoes on the side (18.50). The pork was beautifully cooked, so tender and tasty, and the spice brought it to a different level.

So you add all those up and you get a terrific meal, served with a calm courtesy. If you add them up in a different way, you see they come to €53.00. But because they all qualified for the Early Bird Menu (up to 7.00pm on the Saturday night), we paid only €35.00 for the two courses. So there you are, good food and good value at Ortus.

Ortus Café & Bistro
1 St Patrick’s Quay
Bandon
Co. Cork
Phone: 087 7214726

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Eating Bandon and Drinking Bordeaux


Good Food from Bandon and Good Wine from Bordeaux
Made a short visit to Bandon Farmers Market last Saturday. And every stallholder I called to said I was great to come out in the rain. But if you'ee not willing to go out in the rain in Ireland, you’re going to waste half your life.

Great to see some familiar faces like Shirley Kingston, the market co-ordinator, and some new ones as well. Of course, it’s all about the food and I was delighted when Nathan Wall of the Saddleback Pig Company in Baltimore showed me his new product: Sweet Black Bacon Smoked. He tells me it's proving very popular. We’ll have more on Nathan and his fantastic “black” rashers in the next week or so.

There was a terrific selection of organic vegetables available at one stand where the popular “Dutch” was in excellent form, not a bit cranky today he indicated. Tomatoes, chillies, sweet peppers, aubergines and onions caught the eye but we helped ourselves to carrots, some haricot vert, onions and the in-season Asparagus of course.

No shortage of bakers here and Heavens Cakes, well known in the English Market, had some sweet things on offer. Good too to see Dunmanway Baking Emporium with a stall here, including a baguette that we needed for the evening.

And another surprise was the stand manned, if that’s the word, by Toni. Jams, chutneys and pickles, and relishes of all types, including Red Currant Jelly, Rose Hip and Apple Jelly and Fruit  compote. She also sells her eggs, all at a very reasonable price.

The rain, by the way, was bad enough at times but there were clear spells as well and we took advantage of one of those to trot over to the quay and call in to see Ruth Healy in her fabulous food store and cafe at URRU. The warm cups of coffee and a massive ginger cookie were more than welcome.
Bandon is indeed well supplied with places to eat and, of course, things to eat. I had spotted the well stocked, well laid out butcher shop of Martin Carey on previous visits and made a point of calling this time.

This award winning store has a huge choice of meats but we went for the French trimmed lamb shanks, served up later that evening with market vegetables and a red wine gravy. The red wine, Chateau Lamothe Vincent, came from Bordeaux and not all of it went into the cooking!

The starter, a bruschetta using the baguette from the market, some Atlantic Sea Salt and a tomato salsa (all along the lines suggested by the Turkhead Delights cookbook), was excellent as was the dessert, a crumble with rhubarb (from the back garden) and orange. But mainly it was Bandon and Bordeaux. And I really couldn’t tell you if it was raining when I tucked into the lamb!







Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Speciality Nights at Chapel Steps

Speciality Nights at Chapel Steps
Rosscarbery Black Pudding
 If you haven’t been to one of the Speciality Nights at Bandon Steps, then you’re missing out on great food at a great price.

Wednesday is the night for steak lovers. You have the choice from an 8oz Fillet, a 10oz Rib-eye or 12oz Sirloin with all the trimmings for just €20 per dish ... All Night, every Wednesday Night!

Fishcake
 I was there recently on a Thursday and that is the night for the fish bargains. Choose from Herb Crushed Hake, Roast Fillet of Cod, Beer Battered Haddock or Kevin’s Thursday night Fish Special for only €15.00 per dish. Kevin, of course, is Head Chef Kevin O’Regan.

CL choose the fish special that evening and it was superb as was my own main course: Caramelised Duck Breast with beetroot, lavender and butternut squash.


Delicious duck
 The fish comes from the nearby coast and indeed most of the food is sourced locally. One of our starters was Pan Seared Rosscarbery Black Pudding with crubeen croquette, chilli jam & smoked pancetta. A great combination and one of their most popular starters.

Glass of Rioja
Thought my own starter had the risk of being on the salty side but not a bit of it. This was Traditional Salt Cod and Fresh Crab Fish Cake with lemon aioli, pickled cucumber & mixed leaves, also available as a main course. Had a little tangy edge for sure but overall it was well balanced and I loved it, finished every little bit.

If you like live music as you dine, then head to the Chapel Steps on Saturday. Don't forget that Sunday is family day there and they have a “fun family value menu which will include sharing and family style service dishes with all the favourites for big and small family members!”.

For all the latest, check out their website

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

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Lunch in Bandon

Christmas Lunch at Chapel Steps in Bandon

Bandon (clockwise from top left): Hake, tempting window in butcher's shop,
aubergine and roast pepper parcels, warm salad of Butternut squash, Pavlova,
Chicken liver pate, swollen river, URRU, and
delicious warm chocolate cake
!

Enjoyed a terrific Christmas lunch at the very busy Chapel Steps in Bandon yesterday. Very good value too at €20.00 for four courses with good choices. Well worth checking out in the few days left in the run-in to Christmas. Took a stroll around the town too and did a little shopping in the marvelous URRU shop and also at Matson's Wine Store, another busy spot.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Busy at the Chapel Steps

 Busy at the Chapel Steps

Outside it was gloomy but inside (left) at the Chapel Steps  it was bright and busy. This is Bandon’s newest restaurant, just 8 weeks after its upgrade from cafe status. The signs are promising. It is a lovely space and a big crowd was in last night (Thursday) and great food on the table.

And no great surprise with the top notch food when you are learn that the Head Chef is Kevin O’Regan (ex Electric) and that he is concentrating hugely on the marvellous produce available in the area.

Kevin, along with the owners Sean and Siobhan (her Dad, along his brothers, ran the place as a butcher’s shop from the 1960’s), have instigated a series of speciality evenings.  Wednesday is a great night for steak lovers - choose from an 8oz Fillet, a 10oz Rib-eye or 12oz Sirloin with all the trimmings for only €20 per dish. Thursday is fish night and I took advantage!

 But back to the start and a very warm welcome as we came in from the dark and the wet. Had a chat with restaurant manager Caroline O’Flynn as we settled to the table. We had already been told about the wine special, supplied this month from the McHenry Hohnen vineyard in the Margaret River Region of Western Australia.

Having met founder David Hohnen (he also founded New Zealand’s famous Cloudy Bay and is busy now preparing his Porker legs for the Christmas trade) hardly a month back in Ballymaloe, we naturally went for his wine (Sauvignon blanc Semillon).


Quite a choice of starters and appetisers here. CL went for Pan Seared Rosscarbery Black Pudding - with crubeen croquette, chilli jam and smoked pancetta. Chef Kevin loves his crubeen and this was a great combination to get the meal underway. And so was mine: Home Smoked Duck - with beetroot, port and burnt butter vinaigrette.

Fish, collected early in the morning in Union Hall, is a regular on the menu and there is a good daily choice but an even better one on Thursday. I went for that special: Spiced Monkfish, butternut squash puree, with roast vegetables, chilli, lime and parsley emulsion. Just enough spice to liven it up without dulling the fish flavour. Just loved it, the freshness, the flavours and the combination of the various textures. All for €15.00. A special for sure.

 CL also enjoyed great value even though her €17.00 dish wasn't a special but a regular part of the menu. It was Roast Cod with roast peppers, chorizo, tomato and olive ragu. Another really lovely fish dish and another with a smashing super tasty sauce. Healthy also.

After all that good eating, we treated ourselves to dessert at a fiver each. She really loved the lively flavours of her Autumn Berry and Lemon Roulade with berry coulis and sugared almonds while I was equally happy with my well made Sticky Toffee Pudding with toffee and vanilla sauce, rum and raisin ice cream. This was a piece of real pudding, the sauce an enjoyable addition rather than a disguise.

 Then we met Siobhan who told us about the history of the place and the apprehension ahead of their big step-up from cafe to restaurant. Two months in and it seems that the big step is worthwhile. Early days yet of course but a good start is half the battle. Best wishes for the future then to Kevin, Siobhan and Sean. The Chapel Steps is just a short trip from the city and one that is well worthwhile. No penance here!