Showing posts with label Blackwater Distillery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blackwater Distillery. Show all posts

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Viking Feast at Walsh's Bakehouse. Gastro Gays Demo Scandi Skills


Viking Feast  at Walsh's Bakehouse
GastroGays Demo Scandi Skills
Knekkebrød

It wasn't the best of days as we drove to Waterford last Saturday but the perfect antidote was waiting for us in the shape of a Viking Feast at Walsh’s Bakehouse. 
Dermot Walsh welcomes one and all

After a warm welcome at the door, we were in for an eye-opener: tables already laid out with colourful inviting food. “Sit where you like”, invited Avril and so we did, eagerly.

We resisted temptation during the short speeches by Michael and Dermot Walsh. The GastroGays, Patrick and Russell, who were the brains and the cooks behind the feast were introduced. All the while, that food was untouched!

Russell (left) and Patrick

And then, wisely perhaps, the signal to eat was given, the demos could wait! And we were off on the first of seven “courses”, the Gastro version of Gravadlax: Irish salmon cured the Scandinavian way (lemon, dill, beetroot) with a Blackwater Gin twist. Raw grated beetroot gave the fish an extra colour, Patrick told us during the later demo.

The platters were now moving up and down the tables, our plates filling. The Köttbullar, Swedish meatballs with Lingonberry Jam, were well appreciated. “These are iconic in Sweden, every family has its recipe”.

Gravadlax
Every now and then something extra, including plates of salads, was introduced to the table. Janssons Frestelse was perhaps the most tempting. It isn’t called Janssons Temptation for nothing, this creamy potato, onion and pickled sprats bake.

Walsh make a series of Blaas, including a mini and this was the vehicle for Skagenröra or Toast Skagen, the not so little breads topped with shrimp. Delicious.
Hot Dog, Nordic style, with onions two way (soft and crisp)

Walsh also make a terrific brioche and that was put to good use in the Pølser or Pylsur. These are favourites at the Danish Pølsevogn (food trucks) and the GastroGays take on Hot Dogs, Nordic style, was yet another winner. As were those eye catching Knekkebrød, open crispbread sandwiches.

By now, the generous offerings of the first phase had been dispatched and the plates and cutlery were cleared away. Coffee, supplied by Coffee House Lane, was being poured. Dawn Meats and local brewery Metalman (with a special limited edition Blaager) also contributed to the excellent event.   

Mini Blaa with shrimp

While all this was going on, Patrick and Russell were doing a few demos and explaining some of what we had already eaten.  They also showed us how they preserve red onions and courgettes (they prefer these to the usual cucumber) in brine. 

Russell
The whole lunch-time experience was quite an eye-opener into how ideas in food can cross from one culture to another, how we can learn from other countries to make the best of what we have, how we can preserve and cut down on wastage. And have a good time while doing so. Big thanks to Russell and Patrick for bringing and spreading the message and the techniques.


And they were ready for the grand finalé, the unique Semblaa! In Sweden, in the run up to Lent, they gorge themselves on Semla buns. And, now in an exclusive collaboration between Walsh’s and GastroGays, we had the sweetest finish, a Waterford take on the Swedish classic, the Semblaa, packed to the detached (and then reattached) top with almond cream, more cream, all over jam, all under a coating of sugar enthusiastically applied by Russell. Munchious!

And there was one for everyone in the audience. Actually two for everyone as we all got one on the way out. The Walsh’s are a generous family indeed and it was great to meet them and their lovely staff. And thanks a million to Avril, who looks after Sale and Marketing, for the invitation.

The Semblaa Sensation!

Note on the Blaa
Over the centuries, there has been something of a religious twist in the story of the Blaa with both the Huguenots and later Christian Brothers involved. It is still something of a religion in Waterford with between ten and twelve thousand Blaas eaten each day.

In 2013, the Waterford Blaa Bakers Association succeeded in getting PGI designation for the Waterford Blaa. PGI *** stands for Protected Geographical Indication, which essentially means that only Blaas made by specialist bakers in Waterford city and county can be called Blaas. This guarantees an authentic heritage product, based on the traditional methods and the unique skills of the bakers. Waterford Blaas are now supplied by traditional family bakers operating since the 1800’s. The same time honoured recipe has been handed down from generation to generation.

Red onion in brine











Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Jim Edwards. A Kinsale Classic. After All These Years!


Jim Edwards. A Kinsale Classic.
After All These Years!
Scallops starter, also available as mains

Jim Edwards is a renowned restaurant in the renowned foodie town of Kinsale and it has been serving up classic fare since 1971.

And while some of those beloved classics are still on the menu, Jim Edwards is not slow to support new producers and new products in the area. Just a peep at their drinks list confirms this, with Kinsale Mead, Stonewell Cider and beers from Black’s of Kinsale and 9 White Deer (Ballyvourney) on offer. 

Local gins include Kinsale gin, Blackwater gin and Black's gin. while local whiskeys include Pogues from West Cork and the world famous Midleton Very Rare. With the best of spirits available, there is no shortage of cocktails. Produce suppliers, some long-standing, are listed on the back of the menu.
Mussels

And there is no shortage of food choices here. You may dine in the Gastro Pub or in the restaurant. The Gastro Pub menu (including a sandwich selection) and A La Carte menu are available from 12pm to 10pm daily. In addition they have daily specials and a value menu also available all day. No wonder the venue has been declared  “a standard bearer in Kinsale's distinguished culinary culture” by  the McKenna Guide.

We were glad to see the A La Carte menu available from lunchtime on when we arrived there about one o’clock on a recent Friday. Soon we were seated by the window and reading our way through the choices. By the way, from exchanges at a nearby table, we heard that you can pick and choose from the various menus.
Monkfish classic

The mussels and oysters come from nearby Haven Shellfish and I picked the rather traditional starter (they don’t really do cutting edge here in any case) of Kinsale Mussels toasted with Garlic Breadcrumbs. Very tasty, with a well prepared salad. And CL too was very pleased with another excellent appetiser, this of Pan Seared Scallops in garlic and basil with a cauliflower purée.

We sipped our Black’s ale as we waited for the mains. Unbeknownst to ourselves we had chosen two house classics and looking back we can appreciate how they’ve stood the test of taste and time. Both were superb.
Lamb

One is the flavoursome Mint and Herb Crusted Rack of Slaney Valley Lamb with a rosemary and garlic jus. Beautifully cooked, neatly presented, as were all our dishes. 

Our other mains was the Medallions of Monkfish, pan fried with ginger, spring onion chill and lime dressing. Another superb combination, no shortage of quality here. And no skimping on quantity either.

And, just in case you haven’t enough, in another nod to tradition, they serve three sides as well: potatoes gratin, seasonal vegetables and fries.

It was a fairly busy lunch service in the restaurant and no problem to the staff as they kept the food coming and helped the customers make their choices, patience needed in some cases!

We did have a look at the dessert menu but, having been well fed, decided to give the sweet stuff a skip and finished off with an excellent cup of Maher’s coffee, another local business supported by Jim Edwards. Roll on the 50th celebrations in 2021!




Monday, July 23, 2018

Cliff House Hotel. New Menu. Bar above. Sea below.

Cliff House Hotel. New Menu.
Bar above. Sea below.
Salmon

Some people wanted a table in the sun. Some preferred to be in the shade. And a few stayed indoors. We were on the terrace at The Bar in the Cliff House on one of the sunniest days of this sunny summer. Earlier we had been walking on the Waterford Greenway and so we two settled for a place in the semi-shade to try out the new bar menu at this superbly situated hotel.
Looking out to sea

A glass of Rebel Red and lots of water helped cool things down as we studied that inviting menu, divided into sections: From the Garden, From the Land, From the Sea, Irish beef from McGrath’s and Sheelin,  Small Bites and Snacks, Sides, and Desserts. And also a Dish of the Day. This superb well-priced menu is served 12 noon to 4.00pm and 6.00pm to 9.00pm.

Service, we noticed, is rather leisurely here. In any case, it is the kind of spot you come to slow down, take in the fantastic views out to the ocean and back towards the curve of Ardmore beach. A “school” of young wanna-be sailors gather below at the base of the cliff and add a riot of colour. Who’s in a rush?
Asparagus
Spring rolls

So, eager to try out as much as possible, we pick and choose from under the various headings. My Green Asparagus Peperonata, Burrata, Almonds (9.75) comes from the Garden, maybe the Garden of Eden it is so tempting, so delicious.

Oysters, Iberico Ham and Organic Olives come under the Small Bites and Snacks section. So the Official Blog Chef (OBC) gets a surprise when she sees no less than three Skeaghanore Duck Spring Rolls (7.50) arrive. And they are packed with that renowned duck meat, rich and satisfying. She feels the energy lost on the Greenway flowing back!
Below the bar's terrace

A bit of a gap between round one and two. But the second phase is just as impressive. My pick, From the Sea, is the Organic Irish Smoked Salmon (12.50 small & 21.50) Mi-Cuit, Buttermilk, Dill Oil, Radish. I take the starter portion. The quantity is enough and the quality is off the charts. Just superb and the buttermilk, dill oil and radish make a great match with the warm flaky flavoursome fish.
Terrine

View from Table 40
Table number on the stone!


And it’s thumbs up at the other side of the table also as OBC tucks into the well presented (they are all well presented) Guinea Fowl Terrine Pickled Vegetables, Brioche, Parsley, Mayonnaise (9.50) that comes out of the Land section.

The Lemon and Cream pot with Blackwater Gin was calling me from the dessert menu but, having enjoyed a hearty breakfast earlier in the Granville in Waterford, we had had enough and so reluctantly bade goodbye to the lovely crew at The Bar. 

With so much much delicious food on that menu, we promised ourselves a return visit! After all, the hotel is just 53 minutes from the eastern side of Cork City (and Google Maps often over-estimate). No excuse.

Also on this trip:
The Candied Hazelnut
Everett's New Waterford Restaurant

Monday, April 2, 2018

Excellent Lunch at Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder


Excellent Lunch at Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder
Fill your own bottle

Three of us visited the Celtic Whiskey Bar and Larder in Killarney for lunch last week. And not one of us tasted a drop of whiskey! Despite being surrounded by 100s and 100s of bottles from Ireland, Scotland, United States and the rest of the world.

Actually, it can be quite difficult to make a choice on the spot. My advice would be to check out the many whiskies on their website and make a short list. Then you’ll be ready for action.
Not just whiskey

You can use that same website to make a reservation too for your food and even for their whiskey masterclasses. I used it last week and it worked like a dream, as it had on earlier occasions.

Of the three, one was a Killarney resident and had not been here before. I reckon they have a new fan, well impressed with the food. By the way, while browsing the listing, my eyes spotted the Blackwater Distillery's Gin with Barry's Tea.
Blue cheese & pear

I had that in mind for a lunchtime tipple and our server said, yes, they had it and that it was proving very popular. I had missed out on it during the Christmas lunch and was delighted to get a taste, even if I had to share it!

You may eat as much or as little as you like here in this friendly place, anything from soup of the day to a substantial pie. Speaking of which, one of our choices was the very tasty Chicken, Leek and Mushroom pie (11.00).
Chicken, leek & mushroom

I was on the look out for a dish I had througoughly enjoyed on a previous visit: the Lamb Liver, with streaky bacon and slathered in a delicious onion gravy and served with sourdough toast.

This time, with no sign of the lamb, I choose the Roast Barbary Duck Salad (11.00). The duck is warm and very flavoursome and is served with a fresh and crunch salad of Apple, Fennel and Celery and also a mustard vinaigrette. Recommended!
Duck salad

CL was also well pleased with her pick: Pear and Blue Cheese Salad (8.00) which combines these classic ingredients in a slightly innovative and tasty way. The pear is sliced. It comes with pickled walnuts and watercress and those nuts were quite outstanding. Again, the salad, just like mine, was excellent, well prepared.

For details of a previous visit, a little more whiskey involved, click here.  

Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder
93 New Street, Killarney, Co. Kerry
Tel: 64 663 5700

Take your pick!
The Yew Tree at The Muckross Park Hotel
36 Hours in Killarney, inc Killarney Brewing

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

O’Donovan’s 14th Cork Wine and Craft Beer Fair. Some Superb Spirits too.

O’Donovan’s 14th Cork Wine and Craft Beer Fair
Some Superb Spirits too
Mary Pawle

I must say I really enjoyed the variety around the room at the 14th Cork Wine Fair, mounted by O'Donovan Off Licences, in the Clarion last weekend. There were more than a few excellent wines, as you might expect. No shortage of good craft beer and some delightful Irish spirits. Not to mention the local food stalls.

Traffic problems delayed some exhibitors and pundits but Mary Pawle, all the way from Kenmare, was one of the first to set up and my first visit. And her first offering was the biodynamic Dominio e Punctum Viognier 2015. Well balanced, great acidity and she suggests trying it with Asian Cuisine. Should have had toddled over to the Green Saffron stall!

Grüner Veltliner is a favourite of mine and Mary has a good one in the Diwald Grossriedenthaler 2015, dry and rich, with great length.

Time then to touch base with Padraig from Carrigaline Cheese, one of the Cork cheesemakers featured in the Oxford University Press Companion to Cheese, due to be published this Thursday. 

Avril of Rosscarberry Recipes had her problems with the traffic but she arrived with lots of samples, including a new one by son Maurice who has been working on an unsmoked Angus Biltong, a delicious product with lovely texture and flavour. Early days yet but this could be another winner from the Rosscarberry farm.
Padraig from Carrigaline Cheese

Then I got side-tracked by some spirits, including Kalak the Celtic queen of winter. If people tell you that Vodka has no character, then give them a drop of Kalak. “We are very proud of this,” said Damien on the Tindal stand. “Enjoy it in a whiskey glass with a lump of ice. It is made from a single ingredient (malted barley) in a single distillery (West Cork) and only one of six vodkas in the world to be so made and recognised.” It is being sold in all the best places - the Germans love it and is going down well in the US.

Tindal’s were also tasting the Blackwater No 5 Gin. But my eyes were on their Juniper Cask Gin. I remember seeing those small juniper casks before they were filled but had never tasted the result. Damien fixed that. As many of you know by now it is a delight, amazing aromas and flavours.
Damien (Tindal) with two top drops

There were some very enthusiastic people behind the stands. Jamie Winters of Irish Distiller was one and he treated me to a Jameson masterclass that included Blender’s Dog, Cooper’s Croze ad Distiller’s Safe. Each is made by a senior person in Midleton and each has the fingerprint on the bottles. Indeed, I’m told there’s quite keen competition between the three.

My first sip came from the Distiller’s Safe by Head Distiller Brian Nation. His aim was to show the character of the distillate. Despite the wood that follows, the pot still has the first say and it certainly does here in a light and zesty, gentle sophisticated whiskey.

Head Cooper Ger Buckley was on the darker side, revealing the flavour of the wood so skilfully crafted. Not just the flavour. There is more colour here too and a great mix of fruit, spice and oak with a long and pleasant finish.
Three of the best!

That left it up to Head Blender Billy Leighton to bring it all together, the spirit, the oak and time. And he surely got the balance spot-on. Superbly balanced, sweetness and spice. Time and patience pays off for Billy. It is rich and round, the gorgeous fruit slow to fade in the final.

Major enthusiasm too at the Vineyard stand where we got stuck into the Malbecs! It was Argentina all the way and first up was the Pascual Toso 2014, a “sincere” and satisfactory example. But that was soon eclipsed by the Reserva 2014, super ripe with lots of complexity, very very good indeed.

Next thing we knew, our man vanished and returned quickly with another Malbec, this the Luigi Bosca Signature Malbec Reserva 2012. Like all the previous Malbecs this had a lighter colour than you’d normally find in Cahors. It was smooth and silky and with a great finish. “Magic!” according to our man. Magic Malbec indeed. This had come from the Barry & Fitzwilliam display where we’d earlier been sipping beers by Bo Bristle and Mountain Man.
Pat (O'Donovan's)
pouring a sample.

He went missing again and was back in a flash with a sample of the amazing Zenato Ripasso (from the Tindal stand). I’m a Ripasso fan and have tasted quite a few but this Zenato Ripassa della Valpolicella Superiore 2012 is silky smooth, with amazing concentration and a long long finish. “Dangerously easy to drink,” said Damien when we returned to the Tindal stand. Damien is a huge fan of the wine and the man behind it.

And he had a suggestion for the Christmas dinner: the Zenato Valpolicella Superiore 2014, full of character and flavour and easily able to stand up to most the variations on the Christmas table. And we finished here with a sip of the Cotes du Rhône Les Deux Cols “Cuvée d’Alize” made by Simon Tyrrell. A blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, it was made for easy drinking and, with its rich fruit aromas and flavours, it certainly hits the mark.

And we just had to try the Beefsteak Meaty Malbec 2015 at the United Wines stand. Well we were under orders! This vibrant Malbec, spicy and juicy, rich from the oak, is ideal - you’ve guessed it - for juicy steaks. And believe it or not you can join the Beefsteak club  online!

Pat, well known to patrons of O’Donovan’s in Mayfield, is a big red wine man and he showed us two of his favourites. First up was the Famila Castano ‘Hecula’ Monastrell 2014, a Gold Star winner (under €15.00) at the Irish Wine Show. “Deliciously ripe and opulent, a steal” said the judges.

Catalan design
And I was very impressed with the next one: San Alejandro ‘Las Rocas’ Vinas Viejas 2013 from Calatayud. This won the Gold Star for reds priced under €20.00. And speaking of this old vine wine, the judges said: “..blackberry and mocha fruits with a side order of toast!”.

We finished where we started, back with Mary Pawle. We enjoyed the Stellar Running Duck Cabernet Sauvignon from South Africa and a young unoaked Rioja Osoti 2015. Osoti by the way means pigeon in Basque so maybe that’s a matching hint. And she also had a young Côtes du Rhone, the Contrefort du Delta 2014, very pleasing aromas and palate, soft and smooth, and described as “a good all rounder”.

All three were very good but my favourite of her reds was the Jean Bousquet Malbec 2015 with its intense aromas and flavours, soft and supple and with excellent length. Malbec again! Looks like it was the number one grape at the Fair, a very enjoyable few hours indeed.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Samphire by Ballycotton Bay. Of Tropics and Turnips

Samphire by Ballycotton Bay
Of Tropics and Turnips
Tropics for two
Let’s start at the end. Because the end of the superb meal in Samphire, the new restaurant in Garryvoe Hotel, was rather spectacular.

That sweet ending was called Tropics for Two. We shared: Pineapple with white chocolate mousse, coconut, lime and coriander jelly, and passionfruit (16.00 for two). The flesh is removed and cut into in cubes which are then presented on skewers; the shell is then filled with the mousse and topped with the jelly. The coconut is the base for the little “biscuits” that are scattered around. What a delicious combination, meant to be shared!
Scallops
And what of the humble turnip? These rarely appear on Irish menus but the side dish, Confit New Season Turnip, was a delight and this commonly overlooked vegetable, herbed and oiled, emerged as a serious rival to the ubiquitous Butternut Squash. The side dishes are listed on the menu; you get one included with your mains and the others will cost you three euro each.

The food is not the only spectacular element at Samphire. There is a stunning view out over the bay. From my table, I could see the island by Ballycotton, the lighthouse and that path up to the lighthouse. It is also a very comfortable place with a lovely bar in the round taking up about a third of the floor.
Goats cheese
And at this bar, they mix some serious cocktails. One of ours was the Dirty Martini with Dingle gin as the main base. Gins too are featured, some local, some not local. Buy local is my motto and so I went for the Blackwater No. 5 and the tonic was Fever Tree (they haven’t got Poacher’s, yet). Enjoyed that!

You may start with something from their nibbles menu, perhaps Spicy Chorizo al Vino (3.50) or maybe Local Naked Oysters from the Bay at €1.50 each.
Chicken
There’s a good choice of starters too including my choice: Seared King Scallops, Heirloom Tomato Salad, Samphire, Wasabi and Courgette (9.50). Great flavors, textures, very happy with that. CL went for the local cheese, in a starter called All About the Goat: Ardsallagh Beignet, Thyme and Honey Mousse, Lime, Apple, Tomato and Ben’s Brioche, another delightful combination.

We got a lovely welcome at reception and in the restaurant and the service was nice and friendly with a check every now and then to make sure everything was alright. And it was, all through.
The Cod
The local input continued through the mains. CL picked a beauty: East Ferry Chicken char-grilled with gremolata, peperonata, chilli aioli, tender-stem broccoli (20.00), including a lovely side of cous cous. My turnip came with the Cod from the Pond, served with roasted cauliflower (mini-florets) and a Goan spiced cream (19.00). Both plates went back empty, not a scrap left on either, a vote of confidence!

And then it was time for that gorgeous finalé. Not local but we weren't to be denied a touch of the tropics on a rather coolish summer’s evening. Very Highly Recommended Dish in a Very Highly Recommended Restaurant.
Blackwater G&T and Dingle Gin Dirty Martini

Contact details below
Samphire at Garryvoe Hotel
Ballycotton Bay
County Cork
Open from 6.00pm Wed to Sun.
Phone: 021 4646728
Twitter: @Garryvoehotel

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Mixing Spirits. Three Sisters

Mixing Spirits. Three Sisters
Vodka - Gin - Tonic


Our three featured bottles come from neighbouring counties: Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford, the three sisters.

Highbank Orchards Organic Kilkenny Apple Vodka, 40%, €30.50 (35cl)

If you’re used to vodka with little more than 40% abv going for it, you’re going to be surprised by this with its aromas and flavours of the autumnal orchard, an organic one at that.

The base spirit is made from their own apples and the vodka itself “lends a wonderful apple flavor to cocktails”. Use this in cocktails instead of your regular vodka and wait for the accolades.

This is 100% organic, single estate (grown, distilled and bottled at Highbank) and, yes, it is normal strength at 40%. Haven't got to the cocktail stage yet - waiting for a recipe specific to the product! - but I certainly enjoyed mixing it with Poacher’s Tonic, an excellent new Irish product.

The Highbank vodka comes in two sizes: 35cl at €30.50 and 50cl at €55.00.

Blackwater No. 5 Small Batch Irish Gin, 41.5%, €30.00 (50cl) Bradley’s
In quite a short time, Peter Mulryan Blackwater Gin No. 5 has become one of the most popular of the small batch gins now available in ireland. This London Dry Gin is not the only one that Blackwater produce and their latest, a strawberry one, was launched at the recent Wexford Food Festival.

Twelve botanicals are used in the process, including Coriander which goes “citrus-y” in the mix. Considering that citrus (dried skins) and bitter orange (also dried skins) are also used you could see why he advised against using a lemon in your gin. Lime would be a better choice. Juniper (the oil is extracted and used) is perhaps the best known element, having been traditionally used to make gin, and indeed provides the dominant flavour.

The No. 5 quickly gained loyal fans and Peter, from Conna in East Cork, was on his way. The gin is crisp and elegant with great flavour. They say “ it’s year round summer in a glass” and “liquid sunshine for the soul”. Add in quinine (via your tonic) and you have a most pleasant way of taking your medicine. Well the G & T was one method the British used to counter malaria!

Poacher’s Premium Irish Tonic Water, 20cl, Bradley’s

Now that we’ve highlighted two brilliant Irish spirits (from two producers who have even more on their lists), we’d better guide you in the direction of a good tonic. And just in time, comes this excellent Poacher’s from County Wexford. It is based on a “rich spring water: that has “been pilfered and poached since 1825”.

Taste it on its own and you'll immediately see the concentrated quality. Put it up against a 39 cent can, Freeway Indian Tonic Water from Lidl, and you’ll know why you will pay more for Poacher’s which is in a different class entirely.

Mixing cheaper tonic with premium products is a waste of time, a waste of good Irish gin and vodka and a waste of money. I mixed myself two gins, one of each. As an amateur it took me a while to spot the difference but you certainly notice it on the finish. With Poacher's, the finish (when you swallow) lingers and lingers but the other one kills it there and then. The longer the flavour lasts is a sign of quality in both food and drink. Much longer, much better with Poacher’s. Go for it!

The full list of ingredients for Poacher’s is: Carbonated irish spring water, sugar beets, Irish rosemary, Florida orange, natural flavours and natural quinine.
The full list of ingredients for Freeway is: Carbonated water, sugar. Acid: Citric Acid; Natural Flavouring, Flavouring (Quinine).

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

King Bryan Reigns By The Waterfall. A Right Royal Dinner For Greene’s Food And Wine Mag Event

King Bryan Reigns By The Waterfall
A Right Royal Dinner
For Greene’s Food And Wine Mag Event
Great buzz in Greene’s Restaurant on Tuesday evening as guests strolled in past the waterfall, wondering what ace chef Bryan McCarthy had in store for the May Food and Wine Magazine Gourmet Evening. Wondering yes, but no worries as Bryan is one of the very best and he underlined his reputation with a stunning multi-course meal, based almost entirely on local produce.


We were warmly welcomed and soon we had either a glass of fresh and crisp Prosecco (Coldigiano) or a Blackwater No. 5 Gin (with a new Irish tonic called Poacher's Well) and then the studying of the menu began.
Before the meal began, Clyde Sowman of Marlborough was on his feet introducing us to two of their Walnut Block Sauvignon Blancs. Theirs is a small family run vineyard and since 2005 Clyde and his brother have taken over a small parcel, a special parcel with old Walnut trees where they farm organically.

He had big thanks for “the amazing people of Tindal’s” before telling us how the warm days and cool nights of Marlborough are ideal for preserving the flavours and acidity of the fruit. “Organic was a bit of a struggle at first but every single year it gets better and better. It was a good move… working in harmony with nature.” He explained that the Collectables, with its fruit and acidity, was great with lighter foods, the Nutcracker, with its deeper flavours, for heavier dishes.
Two of the Seasonal Snacks
We then started - the place was full - with a selection of Greene’s Seasonal Snacks: Cheese & Onions crisps; Ballymakenny Farm Potatoes, Coolea Cheese Fondue and Leek Ash; Ardsallagh Goats Cheese, Panko, Beetroot, Walnut; Crispy Fish Skin, Apple Cider Vinegar, Squid Ink. All delightful but that crispy fish skin was something else.

Starter one was a delicious ensemble: Mackerel and Crab, Preserved gooseberry, Wild Seaweeds, Nasturtium Leaf, Radish, Fennel, Orange, Cuckoo Flower. This was matched with the Walnut Block Collectables Sauvignon Blanc 2015.
The next plate was another gem, on the plate and on the palate: Tim Yorke’s West Cork Asparagus, Air Dried Cured Beef, Shandrum Cheese, Asparagus Salad Cream, pickles, Land Cress, and Smoked Almond. Wine here was Walnut Block Nutcracker Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2014.

Time for a little break now and a palate cleanser, an espumante of Lychee, Lime and Matcha Green Tea. Clyde was on his feet again introducing us to a pair of their Pinot Noir. This grape “is a bit of a baby” he said. “Like all good Pinot, it has be hand-picked.” The temperament of the grape is not the only risk they take as these wines “are one hundred per cent Wild Ferment”. Great results but it is “riskier”.
Bryan McCarthy took a moment from the kitchen to speak and told us that it wouldn't be a dinner in Greene’s without a contribution from Kanturk’s Jack McCarthy and that was in our very next dish: Free range Pork Belly & Jack McCarthy Black Pudding, with green apple, cider and celeriac. The wine was the Walnut Bock Collectables Pinot Noir 2014. This has spent nine months in oak and proved an excellent pairing.

The next Pinot Noir was the Nutcracker Single Vineyard 2014, a favourite of winemaker Clyde. “It is complex, silky, fine tannins, as close as you can get to Mother Nature. … If enough work is done in the vineyard, the wine-making will be a cinch. Just two ingredients in these wines, the Pinot Noir grapes and a minimum amount of sulphur.” The wine is treated to 12 months “in top of the line French oak”.
A gorgeous wine and a terrific match with another highlight: Skeaghanore Duck, wing to beak (including heart), Kilbrack Farm Organic Vegetables, Wild Garlic, Pickled Ballyhoura Mushroom, Hedgerow jus. Fantastic produce from West Cork and so well handled by Bryan and the team at Greene’s who would soon get a round of applause for their efforts.

But not before dessert, of course. And this was another West Cork production, a lovely presentation of Bushby’s Strawberries, with elderflower, gorse ( a posh name for the furze bush, according to Bryan), Milk Sorbet and Raw Yogurt. And, just to make it even better, it was paired with the Alasia Moscato d'Asti, a low alcohol frizzante, aromatic, refreshing and easy-drinking.

And that brought us to the end of an very enjoyable evening of spectacular food and drink. Here’s to the next one!