Showing posts with label Carrigaline Cheese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carrigaline Cheese. Show all posts

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, November 17, 2016

Veronica Steele. Pioneer in Irish cheese. Focus too on County Cork in new Oxford Companion to cheese.

Veronica Steele. Pioneer in Irish cheese.
Focus too on County Cork in new Oxford Companion to cheese.
A buffalo on Johnny Lynch's farm, near Macroom
Pioneer cheesemaker Veronica Steele is credited with the development of modern Irish artisanal cheese and County Cork cheese in general gets a section to itself in the The Oxford Companion to Cheese, due to be published on December 1st. 


The 1084 page book, edited by Dr Catherine Donnelly, is the first major reference work dedicated to cheese and contains 855 A-Z entries in cheese history, culture, science and production. 

In the early 1970s, Steele and her husband, Norman, a lecturer in philosophy at Trinity College Dublin, decided to leave the city and the academic life in favour of raising a family on a small farm. 

Veronica first experimented to provide an alternative to processed cheese for her family and to preserve the excess milk from their one cow. She eventually evolved a soft and pungent washed rind cheese called Milleens. It was a great success and by 1981 was selling in shops and restaurants throughout Ireland and as far away as London and Paris. 

Steele was also inspired by cheesemaking as a route to viability for a rural area struggling with high unemployment. Today, Veronica and Norman’s son Quinlan carry on the tradition of making Milleens, but the book says that all of Ireland owes Veronica Steele a debt of gratitude for her vision and generosity of spirit. 

The big breakthrough for Milleens came when Declan Ryan and Myrtle Allen tasted her cheese and enthusiastically featured their discovery on the cheese boards of two of Ireland’s most renowned restaurants, Arbutus Lodge and Ballymaloe House.

The West Cork washed-rind cheeses Milleens, Durrus, Gubbeen, and North Cork’s Ardrahan, each has an international reputation, and were all created by remarkable, spirited women, most inspired by Veronica. The flavour of Milleens is reminiscent of Munster (not the local Munster!).

Jeffa Gill started to make her semi-soft, washed-rind Durrus cheese on her hillside farm in Coomkeen on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula in 1979. She too was one of the first generation of Irish farmhouse cheese-makers. Using artisanal methods, Jeffa and her team, gently and slowly craft a cheese that is closely linked to the land and the mild and humid climate.

Gubbeen farmhouse cheese is made from the milk of Tom and Giana Ferguson’s herd of Friesian, Jersey, Simmental, and Kerry cows. One of the distinguishing characteristics of Gubbeen cheese is the unique type of microflora on the rind, which has now been identified and given the name Microbacterium gubbeenense.

Ardrahan, made by Mary Burns near Kanturk in North Cork since 1983, is possibly the feistiest and most pungent of all the washed-rind cheeses of County Cork.

Although the washed-rind cows milk cheeses have the highest profile they are by no means the whole cheese story of County Cork. Other fine cheeses, made from both cows milk and goats milk and now buffalo, round out Cork’s contribution to cheesemaking. 
Coolea

Dick and Helene Willems started making Coolea cheese in 1979 as a way to use up excess raw milk from their own herd of cattle and to provide the Gouda cheese that they were craving from their native Netherlands. Their son Dicky continues to make the superb cheese using milk from two local herds. 

Dicky told me an interesting story on a recent visit. Their cheese was to be called Milleens after the local townland but that was knocked on the head as the Steeles, further west, on the Beara peninsula, and living in a townland of the same name, had just started making a cheese called Milleens. And so the Coolea brand was born.
St Gall, by Fermoy
Frank Shinnick and his German wife, Gudrun, began making raw-milk cheese in 1996 from their own dairy herd outside Fermoy, in North Cork. The cheeses are made in a 396-gallon (1,500-litre) copper vat procured at considerable effort from Switzerland. Fermoy cheeses are part of the Slow Food raw-milk cheese presidium. 

There are many other cheesemakers in the Cork area, such as the O’Farrells in Carrigaline and the Hegartys in Whitechurch, both well established. 

“I love the smoked cheese”, declared Padraig O’Farrell during a visit. “It is indigenous to Carrigaline. The milk is local, and the wood, old beech, is local. And we smoke it out the back.”

Hegarty’s make cheddar and their more mature versions are in great demand. The oldest is indeed the more popular though, according to Dan Hegarty, his bank manager would prefer if the youngest was in top position!



Goats Milk Cheeses 


Jane Murphy

Jane Murphy, a microbiologist by profession, is perhaps the queen of goats milk cheese in County Cork, having started to make cheese on the Ardsallagh farm in 1980. At the other side of the city, Orchard Cottage thrives as does Blue Bells Falls in Newtownshandrum in North Cork.  



In Kilmichael, you’ve got the Sunview goats. Further west, on Cape Clear Island off West Cork, the remarkable blind cheesemaker Ed Harper makes small quantities of cheese from the milk of British Alpine goats that graze on his beautiful rocky farmland.

New Cheesemakers

Franco, cheesemaker at Toons Bridge Dairy, near Macroom
A few years back, neighbours Toby Simmonds and Johnny Lynch imported water buffalo and began making Toons Bridge mozzarella. A “parting” saw Johnny continue to make and sell the cheese, but now under the Macroom label.

There followed a burst of creativity at Toby’s Toons Bridge dairy and a few interesting Italian style cheeses emerged, including Cacio Cavallo (traditionally tied in pairs and transported to market by pack horse). And thanks to an Italian living near by, who has a small herd of sheep, Toons Bridge also began to make Vicenza’s Pecorino.
Cacio Cavallo (mainly) in Toons Bridge
And two new cheesemakers have emerged in East Cork this year. You’ll find the cheddar style cheese from the farm of Bó Rua used in the 12 mile menu at Midleton’s Sage Restaurant and on sale generally. Not too far away, Stephen Bender produces a delicious Gouda style cheese called Ballinrostig.

Looks like there’s no end to what Veronica Steele started!

The Oxford companion, the most comprehensive work on cheese available, has drawn on an astonishing 325 authors (from 35 countries), from cheesemakers and cheese retailers to dairy scientists, microbiologists, historians and anthropologists. 

It is a landmark encyclopaedia, the most wide-ranging, comprehensive, and reliable reference work on cheese available, suitable for both novices and industry insiders alike.

* Cork has a butter museum. Time now for a cheese museum?

See also:
Cashel Blue featured in new Oxford Companion to Cheese




Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Taste of the Week. Carrigaline Original Cheese

Taste of the Week
Carrigaline Original Cheese
Despite so many new Irish food products appearing on a regular basis, sometimes it's best to go back to the originals. I did just that recently when I picked up a wedge of the Original version of the Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheese. This is a semi-hard cheese and is very bit as creamy and mild as ever, a local classic with delicious flavours and our Taste of the Week.

After the original, they developed other versions, including Smoked and a very popular Dillisk Seaweed. You may read all about the range here

“I love the smoked cheese”, declared Padraig O’Farrell during my last visit to Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheese. “It is indigenous to Carrigaline. The milk is local, and the wood, old beech, is local. And we smoke it out the back.” And it is not only Padraig that likes it as the Smoked is an award winner.

The Carrigaline story began close to thirty years ago when Ann and Pat, Padraig’s parents, first produced their semi-hard cow’s milk cheese from their own herd, after Pat had undertaken a six month cheese course at UCC.

Carrigaline Cheese is widely available in small shops and big. See the full list of stockists here

Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheese
The Rock.
Carrigaline
County Cork
Tel: +353 21 437 2856

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Up Down Bar & Grill. Downtown, Upstairs. Room with a view.

Up Down Bar & Grill
Downtown. Upstairs. Room with a view.
Basil in the box.


Where will you get an elevated view of Cork’s Patrick Street while you dine? Where do they grow herbs on their window sills alongside your table? Where will you get three starters for twelve euro? In the same place, where you’ll get good food and good value: the Up Down Bar & Grill on the city's main street, opposite the legendary Tom Murphy Menswear. These days too you may well get to see some progress being made on the old Capitol Cinema site that backs out onto Patrick Street.

But let’s forget the outside attractions and get down to the menus, the food and the drink. The wine list is short but covers most varieties, about six available by the glass. And there are another six of higher quality (Chablis, for example) and higher prices too of course. Sometimes you may prefer a beer and Up Down has a selection from Eight Degrees Brewing. We certainly enjoyed our Barefoot Bohemian Pilsner (draught) and they also offer the Eight Degrees stout, pale ale and red ale in bottle.

Pork starter
 The price for single starters is five euro but, yes indeed, you may have three for twelve. The Chicken Wings were my choice. On the night, they were served Asian style with a sweetish sticky sauce and sesame seeds but the style varies from day to day. In my case, they were delicious.


CL meanwhile was tucking into her Pork rillettes (Braised Pork, Black Pudding Crumble, Apple Compote, Celeriac Mash, Black Garlic Puree). Another good starter, though she would have preferred less mash and maybe a wee gherkin or two!

I loved the smoky aromas and flavours as I made my way through my mains: Assam Smoked Barbary Duck Breast, Stir Fried Greens, Plum and Tamarind Caramel. It is served pink. A tasty well-cooked dish for €15.00.

The other mains was their burger (€10.00). No shortage of quantity on her plate of Hereford Beef, Smoked Carrigaline Cheese, Tobacco Onions, Baby Cos, Matt’s Barbecue Sauce, Tomato, all contained (just about) in an Arbutus Bap. She enjoyed that and a side dish of big fries that cost, like all sides, three euro.


We were fairly full after all that so decided to share a dessert from the brief list. Each dessert costs €6.50 and our plate of truffles consisted of Tempered Pistachio Cream Stack, Jameson Truffle and Burnt Cocoa Powder, Cherry Truffle, White Chocolate Tossed in Toasted Coconut, Sea Salt Truffle. The White Chocolate was my favourite and that wasn't shared! While you are on the desserts, you might like one of their teas, coffees, maybe a hot chocolate. All available and, like everything on the night, served with a smile.

The restaurant, which opened last October (2015), is upstairs but you may check the menu in the well lit entry hall before you ascend the stairs to a big bright room and a warm welcome.

Up Down Bar & Grill
71-72 Patrick Street, Cork
Phone: 021 424 8872
Text: 085 271 3888
Opening Hours -
Mon:
5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Tue: Closed
Wed-Fri: 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Sat-Sun: 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
5:00 pm - 10:00 pm



Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Quelle Fromage! Bradley’s Cheese Board

Quelle Fromage!

Bradley’s Cheese Board
It’s late in the evening and you are supposed to have the cheese board under control. You had this one job and blew it! Maybe not. In a flash of inspiration, you remember that Bradley’s in North Main Street (Cork) are open when the cheese specialists are closed. And, to make it even better, Bradley’s have quite a selection, including Watermelon Rind Pickle (by Passion Preserves) that you won't find everywhere!

You’ve been told not to overdo the number of cheeses, four has even been mentioned as a max. So okay, let's take a look at the shelves here. Maybe start with a soft cheese. It's okay to mix the milks. And you spot the Ardsallagh Goats Cheese from East Cork. Chalk it down. If you think your guests might prefer a cow’s cheese, then Cooleeney is your man (maybe I should say woman!).
Wheels of freshly made cheese at Lonergan's Knockanore farm
Now to pick a semi-soft cheese. The choice is large here and the quality is high. Pick from three West Cork classics: Durrus Og, young Gubbeen or Milleens. Not easy.

Now, we’re onto the harder cheeses and Bradley’s carry various offerings at this level from Knockanore, Bandon Vale and Carrigaline. You’ve been warned not to include flavoured cheeses so that cuts the choice a bit. How about a change of colour here, Leicester from Bandon Vale or Red Cheddar by West Waterford’s Knockanore. Then again, many would be thrilled with Hegarty’s Mature Cheddar.
Can’t have a cheese board without a blue onboard. Many good ones now in Ireland though my favourites are still the Tipperary pair of Cashel (cows) and Crozier (sheep). But neither is available at Bradley’s, but happy to pick the Wicklow Blue. The cow's milk cheese has the rind pierced and the Penicillium roqueforti begins its work. Sheridan’s new book says this type of hybrid blue, moist and soft, “is a great introduction for those who find the traditional blue cheeses a little too strong.”

You’ll also need some bread and crackers. Bradley’s are stockists for Arbutus and their sourdough is a favourite with cheese. No shortage of crackers here either. Among others, you’ll find the Sheridans range, the chunky Gubbeen Cheese Oatcakes and the Carrigaline Cheese Biscuits made by Seymour’s of Bandon.

Chutneys in Bradley’s include:
Sheridan's range (Chutney for Cheese, Onion Marmalade, Chutney for Everything,
Christmas Chutney).
A great range too from Passion Preserved, including a fab Watermelon Rind Pickle, which is great with blue cheese!
Now you have everything you need and the guests are due in about half an hour or so. Where’s the cheese? In the fridge? Get it out, quick - you need to serve it at room temperature. Just before the doorbell starts to ring, cut that cheese (avoids leaving the mess that can happen if everyone cuts their own bits). Cut yours into wedges and strips (making sure the rind is evenly distributed), taking your cue where practical from the original shape.

And remember, when the compliments start coming in, that you got all this in Bradley’s in something of an emergency. Next time, why not consider the North Main Street shop for your cheese even if there is no emergency.

I’ve confined the cheeseboard to Irish products but there are also some international stars available in the venerable shop, founded as a dairy in 1850, including classics such as Mont D’Or (we had fun with that last week…), Parmigiana Reggiana, Stilton, and Manchego.

And cheese is just one of the many Irish artisan products available here and that’s all before you ever hit the off-licence at the back where you have wines from all over the world and beers and spirits (many of them Irish) galore.

The Bradley’s Cheeseboard
1 - Ardsallagh Goats Cheese
2 - Gubbeen (young, unsmoked)
3- Knockanore Vintage Red Cheddar.
4- Wicklow Blue

Seymour’s of Bandon Cheese Biscuits.
Passion Preserved Watermelon Rind Pickle (great with the blue).
Sheridan’s Chutney for Cheese.
Lisanley Honey (also in Bradley’s) for drizzling.
A few grapes and thin slices of apple will also be appreciated.
We’ll leave the wine and the beer, maybe a port, up to you (no shortage of the drinks or indeed advice in Bradley’s)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Superb line-up of Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheeses

Superb line-up of Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheeses
The Original: from the local limestone
“I love the smoked cheese”, declared Padraig O’Farrell during our visit to Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheese today (Thursday). “It is indigenous to Carrigaline. The milk is local, and the wood, old beech, is local. And we smoke it out the back.” We all loved the award-winning Smoked.

And it, and indeed all the lovely Carrigaline cheeses, underline a point made on the Discover FarmhouseCheese website : Farmhouse Cheeses are some of the most bespoke, hand-made foods in the entire world! Buy a farmhouse cheese and you get the rarest of things – each cheese has a narrative, each one is telling the story of the cheese maker and of the farm where it was made. The cheeses speak quietly about the good things, about pure food, about fine milk, and content animals, about sharing and hospitality, and the creativity of a determined individual on a small farm, stamping every cheese with the signature of their personality.

In the brine
The Carrigaline narrative began over twenty five years ago when Ann and Pat, Padraig’s parents, first produced their semi-hard cow’s milk cheese from their own herd, after Pat had undertaken a six month cheese course at UCC. Now the family process six varieties of cheese “based on our own unique recipe for both the national and international market. All of our cheese is handmade and available all year round”.
The O’Farrells no longer have their own herd but they get a consistent supply of great milk from neighbour Flor O’Riordan.

The local Supervalu is a great supporter of the cheeses and you‘ll find it in all the majors and in many fine food stores. Padraig likes to see the reaction of customers at first hand and sets up many tasting sessions. He enjoyed the recent trip to Kinsale where the Dillisk was the star and also to last Wednesday’s food fair at the County Hall where the natural cheese emerged as the favourite.

The operation, on the farm, right next to the house, is all done by hand, including the packaging. The cheeses are held for 4-8 weeks aging before being released to the shops. Five full time staff are employed and others on a part time basis according to the demands of the season.
The waxing begins...
Our tour took us through the delivery of the milk, then to the pasteurisation process, to the separation of the whey from the curds, to the brining and ripening room and then to the waxing and packaging. The different types of cheese are coated with a different coloured wax; for instance, the yellow wax is used for the original (Natural) cheese and the green for the Garlic and Herb.
Co-founder Pat O'Farrell (left) talking to a
well-dressed visitor!
The magnificent six:
Natural: this is the original cheese, semi-hard. Creamy with an incredibly satisfying piquant finish.

Garlic and Herbs: The garlic, not overbearing, brings a savoury twist.

Beech Smoked:  This, tinged “with a baconesque flavour”, has won many international awards over the years.

Dillisk Seaweed: The Dillisk from the Atlantic combines with the milk from the limestone soil to give the cheese a “must taste” combination, and gained many new friends at the recent Kinsale Gourmet Festival.

Cranberry Cheese: A modest percentage of cranberries is used and the interaction changes the cheese. “The result is a far more sophisticated cheese than one may expect.” It is well worth a try and highly recommended as indeed are all the cheeses. 

Blueberry Cheese: This really delivers “an explosion of brilliant Blueberry flavours to the palate!”. If you enjoy fruit with your cheese, then this power-packed combination is for you. And you’ll also enjoy the blueberry aromas. Again the percentage of berries is small and nicely judged!

Padraig, who has no shortage of restaurant and wine experience from his days in the US, enjoys matching his cheeses with various wines. Wine making is not (yet!) possible in Carrigaline but he also spotted a demand for a cheese biscuit. So now Carrigaline offer you three varieties of handmade Irish Oat Cheese Biscuits: Natural, Garlic and Herb and Chilli and Cheese. 

No excuse now, so off you go and try some of the magnificent six. You are sure to find a few that you like!



Thursday, October 10, 2013

Brown Thomas Launch Food Emporium

Brown Thomas Food Emporium
Birgitta Curtin
Cork’s Brown Thomas  launched their Food Emporium with music, wine and, of course, food in the store last evening. And it turned out to be a very enjoyable occasion.

Cheese producers were there in force. Great to meet, however briefly, Padraig O’Farrell of CarrigalineCheese  but we’ll see him again next week on their open day. Also there were Cooleeney,  Durrus and Gubbeen, the latter with their cheese and impressive Cheese Oatcakes.

Arun Kapil
Got a glass of wine on the way in and was soon comparing it in various glasses under guidance from Martin Turner of Riedel, in town especially for the event. The proper glass sure makes a difference – you can take that from an ex-sceptic! And the experience was repeated later with a lovely Pinot Noir (innocent Bystander) from Ballymaloe Wines , who have been in the Emporium for the past few months.

Ballymaloe  indeed strongly supported the event last evening and there was a sweet finish with their pastry chef JR Ryall  providing us with some gorgeous chocolate truffles to match with the dessert wine.  
But before that we had some great tastings. The Castlemartyr Resort even had a menu of good things to try and there was no shortage of volunteers. Tom Durcan, delighted with his Gold at the Blas as the weekend, had his corned and spiced beef on show.

Met Burren Smokehouse's Birgitta Curtin again, after the Blas Awards in Dingle, and this time got to taste her glorious smoked salmon. There too was Arun from Green Saffron  dishing out a perfect Chicken Korma. By the way, look out for his new Spice Blends and those luxurious Cook-in Sauces, so easy, so good.
Gubbeen
It is a busy time too for Timoleague’s Anthony Creswell of Ummera Smokehouse. He smokes salmon, duck, bacon and chicken, all terrific and regulars on menus on top restaurants, now at the Emporium and also available online. And then we had Una’s Pies, a really top product as her regular awards at Blas Na hEireann underline. Una is also a regular at Mahon Point Farmers Market.
Ummera
And from the kingdom itself came Sam of Cloudberry Bakery who make artisan cakes and desserts - anything from colourful cake pops and cupcakes to show-stopping wedding cakes. Cloudberry was a  Blas winner in 2012. So pop into the Emporium and treat yourself.

Very good but better in Riedel
We were very well treated last night – even got my pic taken with Rachel Allen – and there was a bonus of a goodie bag on exit. Well done to the folks at Brown Thomas and best of luck for the Christmas season.
Sweet finish!