Showing posts with label Cafe Paradiso. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cafe Paradiso. Show all posts

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Cork City by The Lee. Stay. Eat. Shop. See!

Cork City by The Lee. 
Stay. Eat. Shop. See!
Music city



The Firkin Crane in Shandon,
once the butter capital of the world
See: The Queen made it her number one stop in Cork so you’ve just got to see the English Market, an institution in the city since 1788. Nearby, you’ll see the spires of historic St Fin Barre’s Cathedral.

St Anne’s Church in Shandon is another landmark. Visit and don’t forget to ring the bells.  Cork was once the butter capital of the world and the Butter Museum is in the shadow of Shandon.

Staying north of the river, why not pay a call to the storied cells of the 
City GaolThe Glucksman is a lovely art gallery in the leafy grounds of the university while the well established Crawford Gallery is easily accessible in the city centre, next door to the Opera House. And don't forget Elizabeth Fort and the newly opened Nano Nagle PlaceAlways something interesting on at The Triskel, an arts venue in a converted church.

Shop: While in the English Market why not do a bit of shopping and check out local delicacies such as buttered eggs and spiced beef. The compact city centre boasts a few top notch shopping centres: Merchants Quay, Opera Lane and the new Capitol area. North Main Street has Bradley’s, founded in 1850, and famous for its wall of craft beers.

For a different experience head to 
Mahon Point Farmer’s Market every Thursday where you’ll find fantastic local cheese and meat and much more, including wild mushrooms, all within a few yards of the large shopping centre.
No shortage of farm to fork restaurants in Cork

Eat: No shortage of eating places including Greene's, JacquesLesGourmandises and Isaac's while lively lunchtime venues include the Farmgate and Nash 19Mad on meat? Try Son of a Bun, Holy Smoke, SpitJack, and many more. Exceptional Japanese at Miyazaki (just six stools though!) No meat? Then the amazing Cafe Paradiso is the one, Iyers is another. Idaho is the city centre cafe while coffee stops abound.  For a fuller list of restaurants and cafes, city and county, see my regularly updated list here. Also check the Whazon Cork listings.

A city of bridges
Drink: For something a little different try L’Atitude Wine Café close to the City Hall. The emphasis here is on quality wines and tasty local snacks with a continental touch. Electric, with its downstairs bar and upstairs fish bar, has taken the South Mall by storm since it opened in 2010.  SoHo and the Bodega are other modern bars with restaurants attached.

For something more traditional, including the music, there are quite a few with The Oliver Plunket being very central indeed.
And, if you prefer craft beers then the Franciscan Well on the North Mall is the place to go as they have a micro brewery right behind the counter. Other pubs with micro-breweries include Rising Sons (Cornmarket Street), Elbow Lane (Oliver Plunket Street, excellent food here also) and Cotton Ball (Mayfield).

Stay: With excellent food in the building and efficient and friendly service, the River Lee is a lovely place to stay in Cork. If you need something more central, the Clayton is for you. A short distance from the centre, you'll find the Ambassador and the Montenotte, each with great views over the city
Fitzgerald's Park

If you are caught for time, stay at the Metropole and explore the amazing McCurtain Street, its pubs, theatre, cafes and restaurants.

Something on the traditional side? Why not the Imperial where you’ll be wined and dined and never be short of company as the locals come and go. Like it leafy? Then the Hayfield Manor and the Maryborough near Douglas are recommended as is the Radisson in Little Island.

Making a quick getaway? The Cork International Airport Hotel is excellent. Heading north or west? Check the Commons Inn.

Walk: Cork is very compact and great for walks. Call to the tourist office and pick up the maps and info for some city centre strolls.

Like to try something more energetic? Then start at the 
North Mall and take a brisk riverside stroll through the Mardyke, into Fitzgerald’s Park, past the UCC Grounds and then onto the Lee Fields. Just remember you have to come back!

There is a very popular walk by the harbour starting at 
Blackrock Castle, another great place to visit with an excellent restaurant, the Castle Cafe. For something shorter but still interesting, do the circular walk around the Lough, a suburban lake full of swans and ducks and other wildfowl.

Ballycotton cliff walk, just east of the city
Get Out: No shortage of things to see and do on the eastern side of the city. Take a trip to Fota House and its famous gardens and arboretum. If you have kids, then the Fota Wildlife Park is at hand. Much to do in Cobh also, including a trip by boat to Spike Island, a former prison with history galore. 

Spike Island
To the south then and a highlight in Crosshaven is the coastal artillery fort of 
Camden with a wealth of history and great views. Another fort, this also being restored, is Charlesfort in Kinsale, a historic town rich in excellent eating places and with a must visit Wine Museum in Desmond Castle. Blarney is just north of the city. The castle, and its famous stone, is a busy spot. Eat at The Square Table.

Strike off to the west and take in the impressive ruins of the abbey at 
Timoleague . WestCork boasts magnificent beaches and good food producers whose products you may sample in restaurants such as the Pilgrim's (Rosscarbery),  Richy’s Bistro (Clonakilty), and Bastion (Kinsale).

For more detailed guides to the county, check out my East Cork and North Cork recommendations.

Jazz time
Listen: There is almost always a music festival on in Cork and surrounds and the big one is the Jazz, always on the final weekend of October. There is a Folk Festival at the end of September and film buffs are in town in force in November. Check them all out here.

The Choral festival dominates in the spring and summer sings with the Midsummer Festival, followed by the International Folk Dancing Festival. 
Music in the Marquee  is a big highlight. Night after summer night, the Marquee hosts top names. Bryan Adams, Cliff Richard and Elton John played this summer (2017).


Avoid: The usual big city security precautions apply. Avoid leaving anything visible in your car and so on. Not much else to avoid. Maybe the rainy days. But even those can be fun. Never know who you’ll find singing at the local bar, even on the street. It is a fun city. So enjoy!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Ageno - No. 1 Natural Wine

Ageno - No. 1 Natural Wine

Decanter has just declared La Stoppa’s orange wine, Ageno, the world's best natural wine.

The magazine’s expert panel blind-tasted 122 natural wines “from all corners of the globe”. And the winner was La Stoppa, Ageno, Emilia, Emilia Romagna, Italy, 2011, the very same wine that I enjoyed with dinner in Cork’s Cafe Paradiso last week.

Some of the comments from the panel:
Full bodied, spicy and honeyed.
The full orange in colour…it has fine meal-time aptitude and dazzling compelling flavours.
A riper style that is full of energy and laden with oranges and rhubarb..memorable finish.

It is indeed memorable, from start to finish: the colour, the flavours, the finalé. The experts didn't mention it specifically but I found hints of both cider and sherry, not least in the aromas. It is though very well balanced and complex and certainly proved a winner with the vegetarian dishes in Paradiso.

It is produced using an old traditional winemaking method, where the grapes are macerated on their skins (indigenous yeast, no added sulphur) for up to a month, or more, to create an orange wine. It helps that Ortrugo tends to orange in any case. The result is rich in colour, tannic and complex.

It is a superb wine with the grape varieties being Malvasia di Candia Aromatica (60%) and Ortrugo and Trebbiano and is produced by Elena Pantaleoni. She is in Ireland this week, showing at the Le Caveau trade tastings in Dublin (Tuesday) and in Cork (Thursday). 

During last year’s visit, she told me that the first Ageno was first produced in 2002. “We do not have a long experience of this wine,” said Elena and she recommended serving it at 15 degrees.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Cafe Paradiso. Seasons On The Quay

Cafe Paradiso

Seasons On The Quay
Aubergine parcels
Flatbread and orange wine (Ageno)
Seasons come. Seasons go. Café Paradiso notes the comings and the goings in the fields, in the orchards, in the gardens. The orders go out, the fresh produce comes in. Seasons are key. And the customers keep coming to the amazing restaurant on Cork’s Lancaster Quay.

Good food calls for good wine and you get that here too on a finely selected list that includes quite a few organic and natural wines. And all are available in four sizes: 150ml glass, carafes of 250ml (quartino) and 500ml (mezzo), and the full bottle of course.

Beetroot rasam
We started our early evening visit with a few nibbles: olives, nuts and a delicious seeded flatbread. As we nibbled we picked our wines. My choice was La Stoppa Ageno 2011, a lovely orange wine, made by Elena Pantaleoni in Emilia Romagna (who'll be in Dublin and Cork next week with Le Caveau) while CL’s was the Terras Gauda O Rosal Albarino 2016, one of the best of that now very popular variety.

You may need a little help here with the wine and menu if you’re not a regular. We did and it was given freely and informed our choices. 

Roast carrots, cheese
My starter was the Roast carrots, Macroom buffalo mozzarella, burnt aubergine, honey, pickled fennel, ras-el-hanout crumb, a gorgeous plate, full of flavours and textures and not a little colour.

And it was the colour of the other dish that first caught the eye but CL’s beetroot rasam, cauliflower kofta, cucumber coconut raita, a warm soup, had much more going for it as well.
Lemon Risotto and Artichokes
On to the mains then where I enjoyed the Aubergine parcels of spinach and sheep’s cheese with beluga lentils, miso gravy, pine-nut crumb, samphire, and radish. I do like aubergine and it was brilliant as were the lentils, indeed everything on the plate.

CL meanwhile was delighted with her Confit artichokes, broad beans & scallions with lemon risotto, parsley broth, hazelnut crumb, and Cratloe Hills sheep’s cheese. Again every little piece was polished off and that lemon flavoured risotto was something else.
Pear, Pecan pudding
Vin Santo
 A short dessert list but no lack of temptation though I went a little off piste with Vin Santo with Cantucci Biscotti. And I enjoyed that sweet holy wine (sweet yes, but well balanced) as I begged for a few spoonfuls of the delicious Roast Pear, Pecan Pudding and Beamish Ice-cream that CL had ordered. That Pecan Pudding could be a dessert on its own.


All in all, a lovely meal. And indeed a lovely relaxed evening at Café Paradiso where the welcome and the service left nothing to be desired.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Cafe Paradiso. Back to the Garden.


Cafe Paradiso. Back to the Garden

Eden may have been lost with a single bite of forbidden fruit but the garden can always be regained, at least in the Cork region, with a visit to Cafe Paradiso. No fruit, no vegetable forbidden here! Every meal in the city centre restaurant reinforces what one of my friends, who travels widely in the hospitality industry, told me a few years back: "It is not alone the best vegetarian restaurant in Ireland, it is probably the best restaurant in Ireland".

And what is perhaps not generally known, except to the regulars of course, is that Paradiso has a superb wine list. The lower end and the slow-moving higher end have been chopped from the list and what remains is packed with quality, great choices, between approximately thirty and forty five euro a bottle.

We were part of a seven person group the other night so the wines were shared, along with many a good laugh. Good advice on the wine list is also available and so we started with the Höpler Grüner Veltliner 2014, 12.5% Burgenland, Austria and finished with the Friedrich Becker Spatburgunder Pinot Noir 2011, 13.5%, Pfalz, Germany.
Aubergine parcels....
Others we could have had included the Susana Balbo ’Crios’ Malbec 2013, 14%, Mendoza, Argentina and the Alvaro Palacios La Montesa Rioja 2012 in the reds while among the whites that caught my eye were Wittmann Riesling Trocken 2012, 12% Rheinhessen, Germany and the Dos Victorias ‘Jose Pariente’ Verdejo 2013, 13%, Rueda. But it is easy to get a good one here as the list is really superb. If you’re not sure, just ask your server! By the way, all the wines are available by the glass, by 250ml and 500ml carafe and by the bottle.

Back to the food then and I'm not going to bore you with all the details. We picked the three course option here and you have lots of choice for forty euro. Two courses will set you back thirty three euro.

I had been toying with going for the truffled sunchoke soup with hazelnut gougere and buttered shiitake from a list of six starters (all tempting) but settled instead on the Macroom Buffalo Mozzarella with roasted carrots, pickled fennel, chermoula, preserved lemon and pistachio dukka. Amazing flavours and textures on this plate and the roast carrots came in for compliments all around the table.
Choc dessert...

CL meanwhile was delighted with her choice: roast beetroot, braised scorzonera and Knockalara sheep’s cheese with watercress, orange pickle and ras-el-hanout crumb. Colour, flavour, texture all combined, the dish showing that beetroot goes as well with sheep’s as goat’s. Great stuff indeed.

There were also six choices of mains but, amazingly, the majority of our group went for the roast aubergine parcels of cavolo nero and coolea cheese with miso gravy, beluga lentils,

pumpkin gnocchi and a green pepper and caramelised walnut salsa. Aubergine is one of my favourite vegetables in any restaurant but this was vegetable heaven, every little bit, the gravy, the lentils. Even CL polished off the gnocchi, usually left on the side! “These were good ones”, I was told.

And you must try the sides as they are superb as well. They do include sprouts but not like you've known them. Here they are served with tomato, chilli and ginger and well worth the fiver as are the Paradiso chips with truffled aioli.

Time then, and desire too, for dessert. Lots of temptation but I made up my mind early on the Orange and Date Bread and Butter Pudding and its Rum Custard. Oh la la! And other desserts enjoyed at the table included a Dark chocolate mousse with gingered pear and salted caramel popcorn and also Vanilla pod ice cream with brutti ma buoni, espresso and a shot of frangelico. A sweet end to a terrific meal and service was flawless throughout. Very Highly Recommended.


More desserts, including popular Orange and Date pudding
The menu here is based largely on local and seasonal produce.  Gortnanain Farm is the primary source of veg (and honey). All cheeses (which include Coolea and Macroom) are Irish except for Feta and Halloumi. Mushrooms are Ballyhoura or foraged. More details on the restaurant, founded 23 years ago, here.

Cafe Paradiso
16 Lancaster Quay
Cork
(021) 427 7939
Opening Hours: Dinner Monday – Saturday, 5.30 – 10.00pm



Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top restaurant posts 2013

Top restaurant posts 2013
Aubergine & Roast Pepper Parcels at Chapel Steps

For the second year running, Bandon's Chapel Steps tops the restaurant charts. This year's post didn't score quite as high as the 2012 review but still, thanks to the many fans of this lovely restaurant, came out ahead. Good performances too from newcomers like Brendan Cashman's Gallo & Galettii in Wilton, Finn's Table in Kinsale, and the Greenroom at Sage in Midleton. Electric is tops in city centre, Cafe Gusto is leading cafe while the Sultan is best ethnic.

Top Drinks Posts
Kinsale's Black Pig Wine Bar is the place to go for a glass of wine (and a meal), the newcomer quickly establishing itself at the head of affairs. This was the Year of the WineGeese and great to see the visit of Cullen Wines to Cafe Paradiso featuring as does the series' opening night at L'Atitude 51. The rise of craft beer is underlined by the popularity of the post on the Cotton Ball, Cork's newest micro-brewery; this post, just up a week or two, is gathering in the hits even as I write.

Most popular restaurant posts
1
Speciality Nights at Bandon's Chapel Steps
2
Brendan is back
3
Electric. Easy to Book. Hard to Leave.
4
Magic at Myrtleville
5
Al Fresco dining at the Titanic Bar and Grill in Cobh
6
Old Friend's at Finn's Table
7
The Sultan of Penrose Wharf
8
Tapas in the Greenroom
9
Grazie Cafe Gusto

Most popular drinks posts
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The Black Pig Wine Bar in Kinsale
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On the tapas trail with Campo Viejo
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Cullen Wines at Cafe Paradiso
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Wine Geese Heading Home
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Happy New Beer at the Cotton Ball
6
My Curious Case

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cullen Wines at Cafe Paradiso

Cullen Wines at Cafe Paradiso

Ger (Paradiso) and Emma in great form.
Tuesday’s coming together of Cullen’s biodynamic wines from Australia’s Margaret River and the renowned quality cooking of Cafe Paradiso, looked, on paper, like a match made in food heaven. You won’t be surprised to learn that it lived up to that billing.

This multi-course meal, part of the Wine Geese series, was one highlight after another. I really lapped up the Baby Carrots with the buttermilk yoghurt and the roast kombu. And then another highlight: grilled asparagus with miso beurre blanc and nori gomasio, matched with the 2010 “Mangan Vineyard” Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc – Semillon.
Nettle-lemon sorbet.
The last of the whites was the superb 2010 “Kevin John” Margaret River Chardonnay and that went so well with the sublime Toonsbridge buffalo mozzarella with beetroot, pickled fennel, roast grapes and dukkah.

Emma Cullen, from the Western Australian vineyard family, was with us  and she was proud to say that the Kevin John, named after her grandfather, had sold out in the UK. It is a complex elegant wine which has spent nine months in new oak. If you hurry, you might get some (along with more of the Cullen wines in Bradley’s, North Main Street).
On then to the substantial and delicious Aubergine involtini with a pistachio-lemon salsa, potato and broad beans, paired with the 2010 Margaret River Red, “an incredibly popular wine”.

Chocolate and Cherries followed, enjoyed with the 2010 “Mangan Vineyard” Margaret River Merlot-Petit Verdot-Malbec. “This is a very interesting blend,” said Emma. “and has a bit of a cult following. Try it with roast duck, it is incredible! It has not seen oak. It was a terrific vintage and the fruit was so great, it didn’t need the oak!”
And we finished with that superb Crozier blue cheese (with celery and dates) and matched with the big red, the 2010 “Dian Madeline” Margaret Rover. Diana was Emma’s grandmother. This last wine also benefitted from the incredible vintage of that year. “It is very much a Bordelaise style, the cream of the crop.”
Cullen Wines, now in its 42nd year is, since 2004, certified A Grade Biodynamic by the BFA of Australia. “Put simply, biodynamic viticulture is a philosophy combining the maintenance of sustainable soil fertility and the recognition of the link between plant growth and the rhythms of the cosmos. It is a method of farming that treats the vineyard as a living system, which interacts with the environment to build a healthy living soil that helps to nourish the vines and general environment.”
Emma is a big fan. “The results have been incredible. All bug related problems are gone. We have better water retention. The quality of the fruit is absolutely flawless...and there is an extra life and vibrancy in the wine”.
If you’d like to read more of the fascinating details, including the famous cow horns filled with cow manure and planted in the fields, then go direct to the Cullen website here 
Cullen Wines are distributed in Ireland by Liberty Wines

So a big big thanks to Emma, to Gerry Gunnigan of Liberty, to Ger and to all the staff (especially to chef Mark) at Paradiso for a stunning mix of excellent food and top class wine.