Buy local, fresh and fair. The more we pull together, the further we will go. Ní neart go cur le chéile. Always on the look-out for tasty food and drink from quality producers! Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter: @corkbilly
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There is a lovely restaurant, serving top notch food, in historic Mallow. Near to the beautiful Clock House, yards from the statue of Thomas Davis and just across the road from the castle, you’ll find Peppers where they serve local and seasonal and serve it well. And you may wash it down with local beers and cider.
Called in there on a recent Friday night and were warmly welcomed by Diarmuid and his team. Soon we were studying the menu and the specials board and I was sipping from a glass of Eight Degrees Sunburnt Red Ale (€4.50). Indeed, quite a few of the Mitchelstown Brewery’s beers were available while the Cotton Ball (beer) and Longueville (cider) were also represented.
Hard enough to make your mind up here as they have a big selection of starters and mains, desserts too, on the regular menu and then add in the specials as well and you have a dilemma, a delicious one!
Soon though we were up and running. I really hit the jackpot with my starter: Croquette of confit of free range chicken, smoked ham, Jack McCarthy’s black pudding, Jerusalem artichoke cream and apricot (€7.50). What a dish, full of flavour and texture and so well cooked and presented.
CL didn't do too badly either. She had chosen one of the specials: In-house smoked salmon tartare, Castletownbere crab, dill and lemon mayonnaise and Mulcahy leaves (7.50). Another tasty winner, underlining the restaurant’s commitment to local and doing it well.
Salmon & crab
The high standard would continue. CL continued with the specials board for her mains, indeed continued with the fish theme: Roast cod with a warm potato, chorizo, sun-dried tomato, and red onion salad and wild garlic pesto (18.00). Another super dish.
Local food, local drink
I had noted the duck from the outset. I could have it in the starters but picked this beauty: Breast of free range Carrigcleena duck, charred leek, beetroot and soy glaze, Oyster mushroom, date purée and rustic potato (23.00). Every little bit on the plate contributed; even those potatoes were something else.
We were both very happy at this point but still had the inclination for dessert and we shared one of the specials, the delightful Buttermilk and Brown Bread Parfait, rhubarb poached in Dingle Gin, and Rose Crumb (6.50).
And the service? Well that was excellent too, very friendly and helpful from start to finish. Go on. Give it a try. You'll feel right at home here.
And, before or afterwards, take a stroll around the town, that we so often bypass, and see the sights, especially the white deer in the castle grounds and some of the lovely buildings, including the Hibernian Hotel. I know there are a few scars left from the tiger but every town in Ireland has those. Businesses that support local, such as Peppers, will help the healing. Lets support them.
Zamora got its wine events off to a great start with a superb Burgundy tasting event at the new Academy Street venue last Monday.
The top end wines, three white and three red, came via Bubble Brothers and Maison Francoise Chauvenet who were ably represented by Edouard Leach. And Edouard’s task of showcasing the marvellous Chardonnay and Pinot Noir of the region was made all the easier by the matching food served up by the Zamora kitchen under the direction of Pat Browne of Ballymaloe Cookery School.
Burgundy, unlike Bordeaux, is a land of small plots. There are some 3,500 growers with an average 6 hectares. Once it was the the negociants who dominated but now 1000 growers bottle themselves. As the growers go for more control at the end of the operation, so the negociants seek more control towards the start.
In the meantime, Maison Francoise Chauvenet brings together grapes from various parcels and makes some brilliant wines and those on show at Zamora were made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
First up was the Marguerite de Bourgogne Chardonnay (2013). This is the signature house blend of wine from four Cotes de Beaune vineyards. Edouard said it sets the style and is drinking perfectly now. This was matched with A salad of Jerusalem Artichokes with smoked almonds and preserved lemon dressing. Simple, but an excellent match. We were off to a very good start indeed.
And it got better. The kitchen delivered their Carrigcleena Duck Liver Paté with crostini to pair with the Pouilly-Fuisse 2013. Edouard: “This is considerable step-up. The fruit is more concentrated and it goes well with the paté.” Chauvenet themselves say this is the undoubted king of the Maconnais region and Edouard emphasised that the quality here is down to a very deliberate low yield policy.
Our next visit was to the small village of Puligny-Montrachet, one of the places in the famous triangle near Beaune. “There is a huge demand for the triangle wines”, Edouard said. “This 2012 is slowly opening up and, in two or three years time, it will be even better, will have attained full complexity.” Not bad as it was though and a serious partner with the House smoked Salmon and Hake, served with seasonal greens, roasted red and yellow peppers and a black garlic aioli.
Now we were on to the reds. Would they match up? Would they what? Billy Forrester of Bubble Brothers introduced the first, the entry level Marguerite de Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2013. He was very proud of it: “A wonderful old world Pinot Noir. Delicious.” He must have been proud too of the matching dish: Boeuf Bourguignon with Kale and scallion champ potato. We could have been in Lyon!
Edouard was somewhat puzzled by the fact that the next wine, the Mercurey 1er Cru (2013), was not so popular in Ireland. Mercurey is the best red wine village in the Cote Chalonnaise, between Beaune and Macon and “this is a huge seller in France, Belgium and Holland. It is quite soft, nice and generous.” And went well with the soft and mild Buche de Chevre.
Both the kitchen and the wine company came up with a terrific finalé. Zamora’s final contribution was an Organic Rhubarb Bread and Butter Pudding, with compote and softly whipped cream. A dessert delight.
And the final wine was a very serious one: Nuits-Saint-Georges 2011. Edouard advised: “This needs time. It is still relatively closed, needs more age”. And speaking of age, he had some advice if you are thinking of keeping a few bottles of this. “Pinot Noir is very fragile, can lose everything if kept too long. If you have a case, use one bottle every year!”.
Though, nowadays, quite a few areas around the world are making excellent Chardonnay and far fewer areas Pinot Noir, you will still hear that Burgundy is the spiritual home of both. Don't think there were too many arguing with that after this particular evening.
The partnership between Bubble Bros and Maison Chauvet is a relatively recent one but is has started well with the promise of other excellent wines to come. Currently, there is ten per cent off the Chauvenet wines. So do keep an eye on their website for all the latest news from Burgundy. And also for news of further wine evenings at Zamora.
By the way, I always thought that Cotes d’Or meant golden slope or golden hillside. But I just read in The Finest Wines of Burgundy by Bill Nanson that it is actually a contraction of Cote d’Orient - East-facing Hillside. I could have asked Edouard had I read that before the evening!