Showing posts with label Bodega. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bodega. Show all posts

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Oysters Galore on the Cork Gourmet Trail


Oysters Galore on the Cork Gourmet Trail
How many did you eat?


“I had nineteen oysters last night,” claimed a London visitor to the weekend’s Cork Oyster Festival. And that “last night” was just the official launch. I’m still wondering how many she managed during the Gourmet Trail on the following day. 

The trail visited five venues and some had up to three restaurants combining. There were so many opportunities to indulge in the delicious crustaceans she must surely have doubled the tally from the previous night!
Gin cocktail in a cup at Cask

And there were even more plates of the tasty oysters available at the after party as the various groups found their way back to the ballroom at the Metropole Hotel, the Festival’s headquarters. Oysters, more drinks and music. Well done to instigator/organiser Sandra Murphy and her crew.

Sandra was with our group on the trail and our be-hatted leaders were Kylie from the International Hotel and James from the Imperial. We were last to leave but our intrepid guides had us back good and early to join the after party.
Sushi at The Met

Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald had opened the festival on Friday night and the oyster event added to the terrific buzz around town as Culture Night drew the crowds. Guests at the launch were treated to oysters (included cooked versions) by Haven Shellfish and there was also some tempting sushi available with bubbles and wine and, of course, Murphy’s Stout from the sponsors.

On Saturday at noon, the ballroom was full but, after a Kinsale Gin and Tonic, we were divided into groups, met our leaders and headed off on the trail. More gin, part of a cocktail in a cup, at our first stop, the stunning Cask, just across the road. Lots of tasty bites here too and time also to begin to get to know our fellow trailers.
Cornstore were displaying their Himalayan salt (used to age their famous steaks).

Next stop was the Oyster Tavern, another lovely venue where I enjoyed an excellent meal recently. The oysters here were provided by the Electric Fish Bar, great spot to visit. The Oyster Tavern themselves came up with delicious sliders and bowls of chips. 

Amicus were also feeding us with Tom Durcan beef, including carpaccio and teriyaki versions, and more, though their seasonal desserts, Kitchen Garden Rhubarb Fool and the Foraged Blackberry Fool, were irresistible.

Down the stairs then and out into the lane for another group photo before winding up Patrick St and visiting the Bodega where Rachel’s and Cornstore were also lining up with their offerings. The Bodega sushi (one pickled vegetable, another was smoked salmon) went down a treat. 
Sandra rallies her troops as the rain arrives

Mike Ryan of the Cornstore - terrific dinner there recently - was the oyster “supplier” and he had a welcome variation called Angels on Horseback (the dish is typically prepared by rolling shucked oysters in bacon and baking them in an oven). 

That was excellent though I noticed quite few voicing a preference for the battered prawn version! Rachel’s had a couple (at least) of show stoppers, including a shot of Tomato Water and a shot glass packed full of lobster.

So back to the Imperial Hotel (for the second time in a  couple of days) and they had help from Jacques and Arthur Mayne’s.
Imperial desserts

Loved that Medjool Date from Jacques plus the superb desserts by the hotel itself. The savoury bites by Arthur Mayne’s (Avocado mousse with prawn, Caprese Bites, and the Chorizo and Chickpea Ragu) were outstanding.
Caprese minis by Olivo

One more stop and soon we were enjoying Margherita time at the newly opened Tequila Jacks. The drinks were eagerly awaited and easily downed. Food too, of course, hot stuff by our hosts and some cooler bits from Olivo, the Italian restaurant at the Cork Airport Hotel.
Margarita?

Tacos Mechados, Roasted Chicken taquitos and Shrimp Rellanos were among the Jacks offerings while the cool bites from Olivo included a lovely mini Caprese and also a Parma wrapped asparagus. 

More food anyone? No! A second round of Margaritas was coming to its conclusion and, suitably fortified,  it was time to brave the rain and the wind that had arrived midway though the trail and traipse back to the Metropole. 

And if you did wanted to increase you oyster headcount, there were trayfuls of opportunity to do. I did see the visiting London couple but didn't get a chance to check her final oyster tally! 

The Prosecco and wine flowed (enjoyed a Rioja blanco, well maybe two!), and then a final chat or two before saying goodbye and heading to the taxi. 
Tasty dips at Tequila Jacks

Once again, well done to Sandra and the crew and here’s to seeing you all and more in 2018!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Food Walk in Cork. Notes for the recent Munster Wine & Dine Walk.

MWD Food Walk in Cork
Notes for the recent Munster Wine & Dine Walk.

See also post on the actual walk and lunch afterwards in Jacques here.
The Onion Seller

Today, we start with this little statue of the Onion Seller. It was made in 1937 by Seamus Murphy to commemorate the traders here in Cornmarket Street but you’ll also have seen her twin over in Bishop Lucey Park.

The four bay double height Cornstore behind us has seen service as a cornstore and also as a potato and coal store. And, if you look up, you’ll see signs of it being a market and bazaar.

The Bodega stands on the site of St Peter’s Market. The main entrance was on North Main Street. It was completed in 1843 and became known as the Irish Market, its customers regarded as inferior to those of the English Market. 

After years of decline, the Irish Market closed in 1916 and then saw service as a shell factory for British military. Later, after the various wars, it was revived as a market and stuttered along until its final closure in 1955. 

Coal Quay Market


Across the road, you’ll the Musgrave name, long associated with food and general trading in the city. More recently, the Rising Sons brewery opened here, one of a handful of brew pubs across the city.

Now we have the Saturday Market on the Coal Quay, which was indeed a quay. But water is never far away here, just below the floors of the premises, always a worry. Here you’ll see some lovely stalls including Kilbrack Farm from where Jacques get their organic vegetables.


Over the footbridge now and, off to your right, you have Iyer and his famous South Indian food. On the left, there is a newish Nepalese restaurant called Thali (meaning plate!). 
The Cornstore (taken a few years back).

On the corner of Shandon Street, for a few months this year and up to a few weeks ago, the corner building had been painted with butter wraps including names such as Lee Valley, Silver Churn, Freemount and Drinagh. Not anymore, for some reason.

But a nearby advert has lasted much longer. Look up, above the hairdressers, and you’ll see the Arnott’s Gold Medal Porter sign. John Arnott was mayor of Cork for the first of three terms in 1859 and once owned the St Finbarre’s Brewery in the city. 

He also operated a large bakery on the site for a few years and, according to the Beamish and Crawford history (by the O’Drisceoil brothers) he was also involved in the Cork Racecourse, linen manufacture, drapery and department stores and the Irish Times.
North Gate Bridge (left) and Pope's Quay

The brewery, bought from Abbott’s in the early 1860s, became best known as Arnotts. And provided strong competition for both Murphy’s and Beamish’s. In the end, Murphy’s prevailed and in 1901 took over and closed down the Arnott’s breweries. 
Butter wraps - now painted over

Shandon Street was the spine of the city's commercial life in the 18th century. Such was the scale of the beef trade here that it was known as the slaughterhouse of Ireland. 

And it wasn’t just Ireland. In 1756, France and Britain were at each other’s throats in the Seven Years War and “the Great Ox-slaying city of Cork” emerged as the Royal Navy’s preferred supplier for beef, pork and butter. 

Let us head up now on the right hand of the street and, as we do, take a note of all the different cuisines available here. You’ll also find an info panel about some of famous people associated with the street. Turn right into Dominic Street and then go left by the Four Liars restaurant.

The Firkin Crane here was built on the site of Shandon Castle and is named after the small barrels in which butter was transported. Here the empty firkins were weighed, washed and repaired. They were used to export the butter to many areas of the world, especially where there was a British presence.

The Butter Exchange here was remarkable for its longevity, from 1770 to 1924. This Portico, a grand name for a porch, was built in 1849. By 1861, the Cork Butter Exchange became the largest butter exchange in the world. Exports peaked in the 1870s. After that it was in slow decline. Rigid in its ways, in ways that had previously served it well, it failed to react to foreign imports of butter into England and also to new developments in packaging.

The system itself, that included quality control and that had been remarkably successful for the best part of a century, now inhibited innovation and the end was nigh. You can find out all about the butter trade and the famous butter roads in the museum here.
A firkin

And if you want some good old sweets, you may call here to the  Exchange Toffee Works, now known as Shandon Sweets. The Linehan family have been making the sweets here since the 1920s and nowadays the business is carried by Dan and Tony, a father and son pairing. Signs here too for the Loft Shakespearian Company (founded by Father Christy O’Flynn, a man that I knew) and the Butter Exchange Brass Band, and also Mother Jones.

Down now to the quay, via Mulgrave Road. Whitaker’s were established here on Mulgrave Road in 1905, to pack butter and eggs; they later started breeding and hatching their own stock, a natural progression. They are still going strong today in Carrigaline, rearing one million point of lay pullets annually.

But they started their breeding here in the heart of city, on Camden Quay by the Kiln River (covered in 1992). I have to admit I remember them and the excitement at home when the box of day old chicks arrived, having journeyed out of the city by train or bus. And they were dispatched to many parts of the country as I was reminded when I recently saw an advert in the Gaelic Week of January 11th 1969, the swinging sixties in Ireland.

Walk up now towards the brewery and after while you’ll see glimpses of the Kiln River. Cross by the traffic lights into Leitrim Street. In the run-down triangle of buildings (including O’Keeffe’s Bar), there once was a café called An Stad where I and many other secondary school students would stop (on our way from a match in the Athletic Grounds) for a doughnut and a glass of milk! Times have changed since the early 60s.

Walk now to the four-way junction of McCurtain Street, Bridge Street, Coburg Street and Patrick’s. Again back to the 60s (and further) when drovers guided herds of cattle through these streets on their way to the Innishfallen on Penrose Quay, cattle below, humans above, all on the way to the UK. When the cattle had passed, the streets didn’t smell well, didn’t look well. Lots of these drives were in the morning so, to cater for the drovers and the dockers, some pubs in the area, were able to get an early opening licence.
The Bodega

Down now over Patrick’s Bridge and stop at the top of Patrick’s Street, more or less opposite the entrance to Merchant’s Quay shopping centre. Take a look at another Seamus Murphy sculpture, one of his smaller works. You’ll have to lean down to see it at the base of the building, 124 Patrick St.

In the 1950s, there was a restaurant here called the Milk Bar (how times have changed!). The owner commissioned the sculptor to make a trough so the dogs could have a drink while their owners dined inside! 

Our walk, book-ended by sculptor Murphy, ended here. See also post on the actual walk and lunch afterwards in Jacques here.

The route: Cornmarket Street (Coal Quay); over footbridge to Pope’s Quay; turn left to corner of Shandon Street and North Gate Bridge; turn right up Shandon; turn right into Dominick Street, then left by Butter Museum into John Redmond Street; down Redmond Street to T junction; turn right on to Mulgrave Road, then left on to Camden Quay; then left on to Carroll’s Quay; cross road at lights by Heineken Brewery and turn right onto Leitrim Street; walk along into Coburg Street to junction with Bridge St; turn right here, cross the Bridge into Patrick Street.

Monday, August 1, 2011

PIRATES SCORE ON CORK GOURMET TRAIL

See some more photos, these by Billy MacGill....here

CORK GOURMET TRAIL 
Captains Sylvia and Sandra


Scores of pirates gathered in Cork City on Saturday. But their intentions were benign. Make the most of the inaugural Cork Gourmet Trail  was the mission and it was accomplished with much fun, thanks to our merry captains.


First call was to Soho in mid-morning where a Pannier Champagne reception was laid on. There was a pirate hat competition running and early favourites emerged at the photo call. Champers downed, the gathering was divided into three crews and marched out on to the streets.


Led by feisty captains Sylvia and Sandra, our crew wandered peacefully through the side streets until we reached Greens by the Waterfall where the host restaurant was joined by Isaacs and the Rising Tide in dishing up the grub. The grog, as was the case in all four venues, was sponsored by Classic Drinks.


On then to the Boardwalk – nobody had to walk the plank – and the impressive line-up to feed the villains here was Club Brasserie, El Vino, Augustine’s and The Boardwalk Bar and Grill
Sing for your supper


Next host was Electric, again through the side streets including a stop in Oliver Plunkett Street and a song which earned the singing pirate a meal out for two!


More music at Electric where Pa Fitz entertained and where the high standard of food was maintained by Jacobs, the Ambassador, Soho and Electric itself. Still one more food stop to go and that was at the Cornstore where the providers were Amicus, Fenns Quay and Cornstore.


About five o’clock, the different crews re-united upstairs at the nearby Bodega to compare notes and the bounty – some restaurants, including Jacobs and Electric, gave out meal or wine vouchers – and listen to the band. The quiz and costumes winners were announced and the Bodega management offered everyone a free drink.
Pat Fitz at Electric


It was a very enjoyable day and very encouraging for the organisers. Looks like one that will be repeated. Personally, I enjoyed every moment, from that first starter of Jack McCarthy Black Pudding with Apple Sauce by Isaacs to the final Chocolate Mousse in a mini-cornet by Fenns Quay.


Tried hard to sample everything; don't think it was possible. My favourite of those that I did try out was the Chicken Balti with the French Morteau sausage by Augustine’s. Isaac’s breaded lamb chop and Electric’s cold sea bass dish were other favourites.


Classic Wines
But I was just one of many and others spoke to me of enjoying their particular favourites and I heard that the Tapas type offerings of some restaurants went down very well, the Boardwalk’s steaks were popular was were the Chinese offerings of the Ambassador.


Something for everyone then and nice to see some chefs trying something different such as the “Gravalaix of Tuna in a Nori seaweed” by the Rising Tide and the different take on the Seafood Chowder by Greene’s who also had a terrific Beetroot Soup on their table.


Just a word of praise to Classic Drinks who not alone kept the thirsty crews well lubricated but also took the trouble to post up plenty of information about the wines and varied the offerings from restaurant to restaurant, usually matching a red with a white from the same area. In Electric for example, they had a Muriel Blanco 2009 along with a Muriel CVC Rioja 2006.


So a big thanks to Classic, to Pannier, to all the restaurants and especially to the organisers! Just picked up a message in a bottle down the quays and it reads: Let’s do it all again next year!