Showing posts with label Blarney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blarney. Show all posts

Sunday, July 8, 2018

At The Square Table, Sisters From The West Make The Best of Local


At The Square Table, Sisters From The West Make The Best of Local


We are in a small restaurant in Blarney. Behind me, the front of house person is explaining the dishes to a table of visitors. The info is precise, full of detail and confidently given with clarity, enthusiasm and no little humour.

This is Tricia Cronin in action. Tricia and her twin sister Chef Martina  (left) are the team, a formidable straight-talking duo, at The Square Table - the 35 seater sits on the village’s ancient square - and they serve up lots of good things here. And another good thing - they don’t do bullshit! What you see is what you get.


egg, mushroom

After a formative spell in Cork with Dubliner Ciaran Scully, teacher and chef, Martina headed for the capital where her culinary education continued under top chefs Ross Lewis and Graham Neville. One of the things she learned along the way and which she and Tricia implement at the Square Table is to use local as much a possible. “This way we meet and got to know the local producers.”

At the launch of a local festival earlier this year I heard Tricia declare: “I enjoy engaging with the customers on local produce and local producers. But you do need to know your stuff. There’s a lot of homework to be done, especially with new dishes.” Here’s a woman, a pair of them, who talk the talk and walk the walk.

black pudding, apple purée


We’ve walked in to try the Early Bird, available from 6-9pm Wednesday & Thursday; 6-7pm on Friday & Saturday: 2-courses €25.50, 3-courses €29.50. By the way, this is no skinny early bird - you’ll get good quality and quantity here! The Cronin sisters grew up in the country and food was a key part of the hard-working daily life.

So let us take a look at the menu for this particular Wednesday evening. We are in the middle of a heatwave, so the soup is relegated to the also rans! Record temperatures or no, I rarely turn down the chance to eat Ballyhoura mushrooms so I go for the Crispy Egg and Ballyhoura Mushrooms with Hollandaise. Yumami!

Cleaned the plate as did OBC (the official blog chef) whose pick was the Jack McCarthy’s Black Pudding and Puff Pastry Roll, house piccalilli, and apple purée. An excellent combination and a generous helping of the purée to help it on its delicious way. 
Hake

And that generosity is also exemplified when we are served three gorgeous side dishes with our mains: carrot and kale, a potato mash, and a delightful turnip and mustard dish (that drew compliments galore from the tourist table behind).

I had noticed my mains on their Twitter feed: West Cork roast chicken, buttered leeks, cauliflower purée and Coolea Cheese (from the sisters’ home area). Cooked to perfection, served at the perfect temperature and well presented, a delight to dispatch. The best of Irish given an accomplished touch of the continental.

Chicken

And OBC, a bit of a Hake connoisseur, was also well satisfied with O’Connell’s Pan-fried hake, pea purée, McCarthy’s crispy bacon and organic sugar snaps. Great colour, great flavours and texture. And then those sides!

They offered us a choice of three tempting desserts but we were rather full.

And where do the Cronins get their good things? Well if you go there, and you should, just ask and Tricia will tell you. You can also look it up on the back page of the menu, a long back page but here’s a sample of suppliers: Hegarty’s of Whitechurch for cheese (six other suppliers), Tom O’Brien also Whitechurch for eggs, Kilbrack and Anna Belle farms for vegetables and salads, meat from Michael Twomey (their mother’s butcher) and more, smoked salmon from Old Mill Bank and crab from Liscannor, and further afield there’s yogurts from Velvet Cloud and ice-cream from Featherbed Farm. A tasty journey through the best of Ireland’s producers.

5, The Square,
Blarney,
Co. Cork
021 4382825




Thursday, December 15, 2016

Game Time at the Square Table. Cronin Sisters in Top Form

Game Time at the Square Table
Cronin Sisters in Top Form
Visited Blarney’s Square Table during the week and delighted to see venison on the menu - it is that time of year! And it would be hard to get a better dish than that served up by Chef Martina Cronin. 

The full description was Roast Loin of Venison (braised venison, parsnip purée, chestnut, smoked bacon, Brussels sprouts). The meat was tender and delicious and the vegetables and jus were also brilliant. Not to mention the sides, especially that creamy puréed turnip. Cost €26.95.
Sisters, Chef Martina (left) and Tricia

It is a small restaurant but one with a big heart and they manage to pack so many good things into a short menu list. We were warmly greeted by Tricia, Martina's sister, and she soon had us seated and studying the menus. And she also took us through the specials which was where the venison popped up.

CL started with a special. The sisters support local producers and the salad special was based on leaves from Annabella’s Farm: the leaves came with roasted and pickled carrots,  artichoke, chervil root, butternut squash, pickled Ballyhoura mushrooms, Crozier Blue cheese and Velvet Cloud yogurt (8.95). Quite a combination and a delicious one.

Crispy egg, Ballyhoura mushroom, smoked bacon and Hollandaise sauce (€8.95) all featured in my excellent starter. 

On then to my venison while CL picked the fish dish: Pan-fried fresh Hake, Jerusalem artichoke and mussel velouté, Gubbeen Chorizo (22.50). The fish was perfect and the chorizo added an extra and very tasty dimension. Superb.

They have quite a good, if shortish, list of wines here, ranging from €22.95 for the house wines to over 40 in the whites and reds. Some tempting Albarinos and Rieslings along with an organic Tempranillo and a Croze Hermitage caught the eye. 

But, with another call to be made later on, we confined ourselves to a glass each of the house. I very much enjoyed my Domaine de Bosquet (France) blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc while CL was more than content with the Valle Andino Chardonnay from Chile. 

If you want to get an excellent idea of the top class food on offer here, why not try their Early Bird menu where you can get two courses for €24.95, three for €28.95.

* The Cronins support local and number Annabella Farm, Ballyhoura Mushrooms, Tom Durcan, Old Millbank, O'Connell's Fish, Ardsallagh Goats, The English Market, Gubbeen, Michael Twomey Butchers, East Ferry Free Range, Carrigcleena Poultry Farm, Hegarty's Cheddar, McCarthy's of Kanturk, Coolea Cheese, Macroom Mills, and more, among their suppliers.

The Square Table
5 The Square
Blarney
County Cork
Tel: (021) 438 2825
Twitter: @TheSquareTable5
Hours
Wed & Thurs: 6.00-9.00pm
Fri & Sat: 6.00-10.00pm
Sun: 12.30-4.30pm


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A Happy Lot in Blarney. Hydro Farm Allotments

A Happy Lot in Blarney. 
Hydro Farm Allotments
Hot Seat
Okay, so you have your own plot. But you are not alone. You have “neighbours” to the left and right, to the rear and in front. You chat, they chat. You help. They help. They have different levels of experience, different experiences. They are from Crosshaven, from Ballincollig, from Russia, from Latvia, from Nigeria and from the Blarney area of course.

I am talking about the Hydro Farm Allotments where you may “come and join the buzz”. They held an open day last Sunday and hundreds turned up to see the place, to have a bite and a cuppa and to chat.

Flourishing


Save the water. The buckets (right) are used
in German wine industry

It was all very well organised and I had quite a few chats myself as I worked my way around the various plots, all much the same size. The growing of vegetables, including the regular spuds and cabbage, seems to be the main occupation. But no shortage of fruit and flowers either.

Some plots are like your own back garden with colorfully painted sheds, tables and chairs out and little patio areas. Here, the gardeners get the chance to talk, to exchange ideas and plants. And all seem very happy with the experience as most of them have been there for eight, nine, ten years.


A Lovely Plot

And, if you want to learn from the experts, you get that opportunity as well via organised courses. This past Spring for example, the gardeners learned how to make Strawberry and Herb Wheelie bins, how to keep bees, all about composting and recycling. Earlier this month, you could have learned how to design and maintain a herb garden and there was also an opportunity to go foraging.

Everything you need to go gardening is right here. The water is deep well water and there is one shared tap per 4/5 plots. There is an abundant supply of well-rotted manure and mulch on site, free to all ‘Plotters’ for their plots. There is a Tool Shed available to keep your garden tools. Some plotters opt to have Sheds/Poly Tunnels/Glasshouses on their plots where they keep them.


All neat and tidy

There is even a Tea Room and Potting shed.  This is off the Courtyard where there is a fridge to keep milk, sandwiches etc. while in the garden. This is a fun place where people can have a chat or a sandwich or even pot a few plants on a rainy day. The farm even have Free Range Eggs (when available) from their poultry in the fridge.

Hydro Farm allotments are part of a private farm between Blarney and Tower, Co Cork. A hidden piece of paradise that even people living in the area may not be aware about.



Visitors on Open Day
 The allotments are located on a secluded raised site, bounded by trees which form a shelter belt. Security is not a problem as the allotments are only reachable by private roadway and Zwena McCullough  the allotment owner lives on the farm


There is a large all weather car park adjacent to the Plots and Toilets on site for your comfort. The Allotments are open from 1st February to 31st December each year and open all day every day during this time.




Zwena McCullough
Hydro Farm Allotments, Tower, Blarney, Co. Cork.
Tel: 087 2333183 Email: hydroallotments@gmail.com
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Square Table - Great Addition to Blarney

The Square Table - Great Addition to Blarney


The menu at The Square Table, the recently opened restaurant in the centre of Blarney, is a source of immediate encouragement. Trusted producers such as Ballyhoura Mushrooms, Tom Durcan Meats and Ardsallagh Cheese are among those listed. Anyone using that kind of produce knows what they are about, I thought to myself, and soon enough I have delightful confirmation on my table, a square one!

Indeed, they are all square and by quarter-past one last Friday they were all full, not that that was the case earlier in the week. But, as the season starts in earnest, you might well want to book ahead for either dinner or lunch in this highly recommended spot, just opposite the village butcher Osborne.

We start with a Mushroom Soup (€4.75). But a mushroom soup with a difference: mushroom and wild garlic. This is a terrific combination, with the garlic adding a lovely flavour without overwhelming that of the mushrooms. We were off to a great start and quite a substantial one

There are a few tempting sandwiches on the menu, including Ardsallagh Goats Cheese with olive and sundried tomato chutney (€7.00), and I pick the Tom Durcan Spiced Beef with Coolea Aged Cheese and Beetroot. I am well fed for €7.50, happily crunching my way through a well balanced mix of textures and flavours.

Other tempting items on the menu included: Crispy egg, bacon, and Ballyhoura Mushrooms with bearnaise (€7.50) and a Ham Hock Pie with Spring Cabbage (€11.95). CL’s choice is Pan-fried Hake with Pea Puree and Smoked Bacon (€13.00), another delightful dish, well cooked and well presented.

Service is prompt and friendly here and prices are quite good. Our two course lunch cost a total of 30 euro. A great addition to Blarney and we wish Tricia and Martina all the best on their new venture at 5 The Square.




Friday, August 9, 2013

Me and the Blonde at the Lemontree

Me and the Blonde at the Lemontree

No better spot to meet a Blarney Blonde than in the Lemontree, the excellent restaurant attached to the family owned Blarney Castle Hotel which overlooks the village green. And, to make it better, the Blonde, a lovely ale by the Franciscan Well Brewery, was every bit as cool and as tasty as expected.


And she wasn't the only local to be found in this lovely restaurant where Chef Paul O’Donnell is doing a terrific job. Paul believes in using local produce as much as possible. As an example, the beef comes from Osborne’s who operate on another side of the green. Can’t get much more local than that.
The menu outside looked very inviting and we weren’t disappointed. I started with a gorgeous plate: Fresh Crab Meat with mango and red onion salsa and a salad garnished with a smoked paprika and Coriander dressing (below).
Superb, and so too was CL’s Warm Goat’s Cheese, Apricot and Walnut Tart with a cherry tomato and Cajun spice dressing and a salad garnish.

Off to a great start then and it got even better. Paul demonstrated his exquisite touch with CL’s Pan Fried medallions of Monkfish with mango, red onion and lemon salsa and that touch, which lets the food speak for itself, was also evident in my Pan Seared Fillets of John Dory (above) with an herb and apricot natural yoghurt.
Enjoyed the banter with the friendly staff as the meal went on and soon, too soon, it was time for dessert. The special Crème Brûlée was served with softly whipped cream and an almond tuille basket, a tasty finish and good value at €5.50. In fact, good value and terrific cooking all told.
Worth a call, for sure.
Blarney Castle Hotel contact details
Phone: 021 438 5116                 
email : info@blarneycastlehotel.com




Thursday, September 1, 2011

WELL FED AT BLAIRS INN


BLAIRS INN

All the hanging baskets and window boxes were catching the sun as I landed at Blairs Inn in Cloghroe yesterday for lunch.

Blairs bills itself as a traditional pub and restaurant and is popular with tourists and locals alike. It is regarded as one of the top gastro-pubs in the country and you’ll be well fed here.

Dishes in Blairs are quite substantial, so we skipped the starter and, while waiting for the mains, enjoyed a bottle of that splendid Stonewell cider (€5.50) from Nohoval. The Braised Shank of Lamb on a basil mash, served with a Redcurrant and Rosemary jus, arrived and looked good in the dish.

Then another dish arrived! With the vegetables: turnips, broccoli and carrots, all cooked to perfection. And that wasn't all as there was also some top notch baked potatoes (smooth roosters) there. Quantity for sure and quality also.

Took my time with that lot but there was zilch left on the main plate and that pleased our hosts no end. Service, with a  smile,  was excellent and courteous and no pressure to take dessert or coffee. Beyond me, in any case.

The bill, for two lamb and two cider, came to €46.90.