Showing posts with label Bastion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bastion. Show all posts

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Rising Tide on a High. Winners of Kinsale Chowder Cook-Off

The Rising Tide on a High
Winners of Kinsale Chowder Cook-Off

Winners: Sandra and Craig of the Rising Tide
It was the first chowder that we tasted and we knew it was a good one. The Rising Tide's Sandra Murphy, with Head Chef Craig Guiney alongside, greeted us with a big smile and that smile got even bigger later on when the Rising Tide were declared the winners of the ‘Cork Heat’ of the All-Ireland Chowder Cook-Off.  

This hugely popular competition, sponsored by Clóna,was the opening event of the Kinsale Gourmet Festival, and was hosted by the Kinsale Good Food Circle at Acton’s Hotel last Friday.

Quite a few strong contenders emerged as we made our way around the room. Quinlan’s Seafood Bar were making their debut here and confidence was high as they been crowned Supreme Champions for their fresh crab-meat at the recent Blas na hEireann Awards in Dingle.
Cornstore (left) was busy as was Clon's Richy
The White Horse Bar, from Ballincollig, was one of our first calls - we had arranged a “date’ on twitter. Cockles were in the mix here and it was gluten free. Indeed, I’m told the popular restaurant takes good care of people looking for gluten free. So there’s a tip for you.

The Electric Fish Bar featured mussels in their chowder and that too tasted as if it would be a contender as did Ricky's from Clonakilty, also offering mussel in their bowl. Ballycotton Pier 26 had one of the more colourful offerings, smoked fish in the mix, while the Pink Elephant had prawns.

The Poacher’s Inn had another good one with Star Anise among the flavours while runners up Bastion featured Saffron (which went down very well with CL). Ballydehob’s Budds emerged as a place to watch. Their regular chowder was good and they also had a vegan one on hand. They make great use of seaweed and their seaweed butter was a very tasty example indeed.
A warming chowder from the White Horse crew
Graeme Campbell, executive head chef at the Celtic Ross, had recruited the formidable Sally Barnes and they had another excellent chowder, accompanied by some of Sally’s smoked mackerel paté.

Actually, quite a few of the accompaniments were tasty. Didn't taste all the brown bread available but I thought the one from Nine Market Street in Kinsale was outstanding. Perhaps the top “side” was the drink offered by Cornstore, a Jameson Black Barrel, basil and rosemary infused whiskey sour. Thanks to local brewer Sam Black for the heads up!

Cornstore were the holders and they made a terrific effort to make it two in a row with an excellent chowder containing smoked haddock, mussel chowder, bacon and dry sherry and a vegetable mirepoix.
Budd's of Ballydehob and their vegan chowder (smaller pot)
The line-up in the Kinsale Suite at Actons featured:  Cornstore Restaurant, Budds Restaurant, Ballydehob, The Rising Tide, Glounthaune, The Fish Bar at Electric, Cork City, Bastion of Kinsale, The Pink Elephant, Kilbrittain, The White Horse, Ballincollig,  Richy’s Restaurant, Clonakilty, Poachers Inn, Bandon, Pier 26 Restaurant, Ballycotton, Celtic Ross Hotel, Rosscarbery, Quinlans Seafood Bar, Cork City, Nine Market St, Kinsale and The Speckled Door, Old Head.

The winner will represent Cork at the All-Ireland Chowder Cook-Off in Kinsale next April, and subsequently travel to Newport, Rhode Island to be part of the Great Chowder Cook-off in June, 2017.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Twenty Four Hours in Kinsale

Twenty Four Hours in Kinsale
Forts, Food, Craft Beer!
It was Friday the 13th but we weren't staying at home. We were on the road to Kinsale for an overnight stay.


First call was to Charlesfort, this time, not to visit the early 17th century fort but to take the harbourside walk that begins with a stroll down the left hand side of the sprawling complex.  There are good views of Charlesfort and the town as you start off and later the Old Head comes into view.
Charlesfort (above) and James Fort
The path, with the waters of the harbour on your right, is not the smoothest and, at one point, you have to make a short walk across a stony beach. You pass through a boatyard on your way to Lower Cove. This was where we turned back. The way forward is not clear but apparently you can reach the point with views across to the Old Head and out to sea where the Sovereign Islands lie.

We had a date with Sam and Maudeline Black at their brewery in Farm Lane. They were working their way through a busy afternoon but found time to give us a tour and tasting. After that, we checked into our hotel, the Old Bank. Though this is right smack bang in the middle of the town, I must admit I'd never heard of it.

Kinsale evening
It is part of the Blue Haven holdings here and it proved a very good base indeed. It has no parking but the public car park is quite close. We got a warm welcome and indeed spent a pleasant night here and the breakfast was very good indeed. They had some decent choices and the toast was cut from a proper loaf (Cuthbert’s), not your usual sliced pan. Good value too.

Time now for a walk down the Pier Road as the sun began to set. Got a few photos in before heading back to the hotel. Our next port of call was the relatively new restaurant, Bastion (they have Prosecco on tap!), where we enjoyed an excellent meal.
Evening in Kinsale
 Afterwards, just a few yards away, I sampled some craft beers, Black’s (of course) and Metalman, in the Malt Lane. They had quite a selection here and an even bigger selection of whiskeys.

Old Bank

We visited another fort in the morning. This is James Fort, across the water from Charlesfort which it pre-dates. Nowadays, it is stoutly defended by the OPW (no interior access) but there are fine views and also some excellent walks in the surrounding fields.


Back down to the car then and away to Garretstown where we expected to find the surfers. But they were outnumbered by canoeists from a city club who were getting some much needed practice in. Needless to say, the camera was out of the bag again.

Stayed with the coast roads until we came to another beach, this Harbour View near Kilbrittain. This looks safer, certainly calmer, than Garretstown but not as well equipped with parking facilities. Still, a lovely place to stroll around in the sun and we weren't the only ones taking advantage of the beach and the dunes.
Harbour View
 We had a late lunch pencilled in at another relatively new restaurant, this the Monk’s Lane in the middle of the village of Timoleague, famous for its ruined abbey. But before all that the camera, with fast lens attached, was put into action again in an attempt to get a few shots of cars taking part on the West Cork Rally. They were driving (though not racing at this point) along the road by the abbey.

 The meal in Monk’s Lane was superb and great to see local craft beer on sale there as well. The rally cars had vanished at that stage and we headed up towards Bandon on the way home after a lovely twenty four hours, well maybe 26, in the area.


See also: My Kinsale Guide



Part of a walk-on circle of plaques depicting local people and
connections in the grounds of Timoleague church

Monday, March 23, 2015

Beer Versus Wine

Beer Versus Wine
Colm v Caroline.
Scrumptious Blackpudding from Jack McCarthy.
Great flavours from the L'Atitude kitchen.

Lots of good humour and great drinks at the Beer v Wine Smackdown in L’Atitude last Thursday night where the protagonists were Caroline Hennessy and Colm McCan.


Caroline, co-author of the Irish beer bible Sláinte, made it clear at the outset that she was making the case for craft beer saying “the other beers have no flavours”. Her first beer, Black’s Kinsale Pale Ale, was a perfect example. “Hops are the spice of beer,” she said.


“Beer is just to wash away the dust”, joked Colm as he introduced his heavy hitting first, the Decanter Gold winning Wiston Rosé, an English Sparkling Wine, made in the South Downs by Limerick’s Dermot Sugrue. Both were matched with Hederman Smoked Mackerel with Rhubarb Compote from the L’Atitude kitchens.


Colm did admit he was a big fan of craft beer as he put a call, on speaker-phone, through to Dermot in the UK and they chatted about the huge honour received by Wiston when their wine, a twenty-bottle bottle of it, was chosen, instead of the traditional champagne, to launch the mega cruise liner Britannia.”Twenty minutes later the Queen was still saying wow”, referring to the pop (explosion!) when the Nebuchadnezzar made contact with the ship. See it here on video.


Ireland is fast becoming a big producer of all kinds of drinks, including spirits, and so Caroline decided to include cider as her second round choice. And the local cider she picked was the Stonewell medium dry, a great match with Jack McCarthy’s black-pudding and apples.

Colm said cider, in the way it is made, is the closest thing in Ireland to wine, “at the moment!” as he introduced his biodynamic 2012 Vinsobres from the Southern Rhone, “a winter-warming wine..with a natural acidity that should cut through the black pudding”.  It sure did and even won the round with “victory” in round one going to the Pale Ale.

And then we were on to round three where Double Chocolate Porter Brownies were paired with Knockmealdown Stout and Taylor’s 2008 LBV. The stout, with its traditional flavours, is by Eight Degrees where Caroline can't help but be involved considering that husband Scott is one of the two founders. The brewery, set up in 2011, has been going well ever since. She said the current craft beer wave is well underway thanks largely “to a tax break in 2005 by then finance minister Brian Cowan”. Eight Degrees are just about to start a “massive expansion”.

Chris Forbes of Taylor's was next the next speaker on Colm’s phone and he explained some of the terms used in the port industry including LBV (late bottled vintage, all from one year). “Slow aging,” he said, “helps maintain the flavours and the tannins. The beauty of Port is that it cannot be made anywhere else in the world, only in the Douro. “We use all kinds of traditional grape varieties here”. He mentioned the various Tourigas and Tintos but he said the really important thing for Taylors was not the individual varieties but the blend itself.
Contestants in round 2,
paired with the pudding.

That attention to detail was evident in the LBV as it held its own with the brownies. The Stout was an excellent match, not surprising since a generous amount went into the Brownie mix! Then we had the voting, via murmurs of approval. Caroline and Colm had a round each to their credit and the final matching ended in a draw and that meant honours were even overall.


The point of all this is that there are very good wines out there and, increasingly, very good Irish beers and ciders. And now, the Irish is taking its place alongside wine at the dinner table and in the restaurant.

Here's my recent example. I spent 24 hours in Kinsale on the weekend before last and enjoyed craft beer Malt Lane and in Monk’s Lane in Timoleague. Last Friday and Saturday, I was in Bantry and sampled craft beer in the Fish Kitchen, across the road in Ma Murphy’s, in the Maritime Hotel and, on the way home, they had a selection in Church Lane in Macroom. Don’t think that would have happened 12 months ago. Point made!

The next “match” between Caroline and Colm is likely to be at Savour Kilkenny in the autumn.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Kinsale's Latest Bastion of Culinary Excellence

A Bastion of Culinary Excellence
Kinsale’s Latest Restaurant
Tuna & Apple

No shortage of restaurants in Kinsale but Bastion, the latest, seems to have found a niche of its own. You’ll find it on the corner of Market Street and Main Street in the town centre and inside you’ll find great local produce, cooked and presented with some style. Bastion may not be out of the way but it is certainly out of the usual.

You walk into the first room, with tall tables and seats, and here you can sip some of their fine wines and nibble on tasty Bar Bites including Marinated Olives and Serrano Ham. The interior room, normal level tables, is where the serious eating takes places and here you may choose from selections of Small Plates and Large Plates.
Scallops
We were there at the weekend, celebrating a significant birthday (they are all significant at this stage!) and didn't get any further than the Small Plates. The selection was right up our alley and we shared no less than six of the plates before moving on to dessert.

Our choices - they were brought to the table in pairs - were Wild Mushroom Orzo (7.50), Charred Quail (9.00), Ham Hock Croquettes (7.50), Char-grilled Scallops (12.00), Tuna and Apple (12.00), and Smoked Salmon and Beetroot “Cannelloni” (7.00). All were excellent, well cooked, well presented and made for a very exciting meal indeed.
Wild Mushroom Orzo
My favourite was the Scallops, with cauliflower purée, chorizo, panagratta and parsley. CL was thrilled with the Tuna & Apple, charred, tartare, saffron pickled fennel, apple variations and blueberries. And another that really excited the taste buds - we both agreed - was the Wild Mushroom Orzo: Forest Mushrooms, caramelised onions, chive butter sauce and truffle.

The same high standard prevailed when the desserts arrived. My delightful bowl contained their Irish Coffee Crème brûlée (6.75), a clever (the brûlée was hidden half-way down) and lovely combination of whiskey jelly and anglaise foam. The other dessert, Toasted Apple (6.50), may not sound great but it too was a delightful mix of textures and sweet flavours with Burned caramel mousse, pain d'epices, apple and ginger custard.
Smoked salmon
A couple of cups of the excellent Badger & Dodo Coffee finished off the evening. Earlier we had been sipping two of their white wines, the Butterfly Ridge Riesling Gewurztraminer (5.50) from Oz and the Senorio de Ayud Chardonnay (6.50) from Spain. Very Highly Recommended.

Bastion
Market St/Main St corner
Kinsale
County Cork.
Tel: 0214709696

Ham Croquettes, Toasted Apple below and, bottom Quail
See also: Black's Brewery, Kinsale
My Kinsale Guide