Showing posts with label Chapter One. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chapter One. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Taste of West Cork Guide. Kate Brings It All Together

A Taste of West Cork Guide

Kate Brings It All Together
Ross with Sally Barnes
In West Cork, there are scores of good food producers, one down every lane, up every boreen. But which road, which village? Where do you find them when you want them? The answer is now quite simple: buy a copy of the Artisan Food Guide, just published by A Taste of West Cork Food Festival. 

The 80-page guide, edited by Kate Ryan, was launched by Michelin chef Ross Lewis (Chapter One) in Vertigo, the top floor of the County Hall, last week. Ross said good cooking begins with good shopping and this guide will help you do some great shopping.

And indeed, guests arriving in Vertigo were able to sample some of the produce from the likes of Ummera, Rosscarberry Recipes, Durrus Cheese, Hungry Crow Chocolates, Sally Barnes (Woodcock Smokery), Glenilen, Skeaghanore, Gubbeen, West Cork Pies, and West Cork Olives.

Helen Collins, chairperson of the A Taste of West Cork Festival for the past four years, welcomed the guests and other speakers. She extended a big thanks you to Tim Lucey, Chief Executive Cork County Council for his unwavering support, to outgoing Mayor of Cork County Seamus McGrath, another great supporter.

And, of course, she had a huge welcome for Ross Lewis, the chef who grew up in the area around the County Hall itself. Ross has dined in some of the world's finest restaurants but that doesn't stop him from enjoying the best of local (he had earlier lunched on lamb stew and floury potatoes in The Farmgate). He repeated his high regard for artisan producers - they are not in for the money - and that regard is well documented in his book "Chapter One- An Irish Food Story”.

Helen told us that the guide author Kate Ryan is Bristol born but has been living in Clonakilty for the past ten years. She is well known on the food scene through her blog flavour.ie, through her Clonakilty Walking Food Tour  (Failte Ireland approved, by the way!) and her willingness to get involved in local endeavours.

Clockwise from top left: Mayor Seamus McGrath, Helen Collins,
Ross Lewis and Tim Lucey

Another Ummera product
The book could easily have been just a list of the producers but is much more than that. West Cork is a big place so Kate decided to use some natural divisions, eg The Beara Peninsula, as chapter headings. So yes, of course, the producers are listed with some detail (including contacts and if visits are possible). Listed also are specialist food shops and local farmers markets. And, importantly, from a tourist point of view, she suggests itineraries to follow.

Let us illustrate her “scheme” by using the Clonakilty section as an example. So, you're an English or French foodie and newly arrived. Where to start? Spend a fiver on this book and you’ll see Clonakilty and its neighbours Timoleague, Dunworley and Rosscarberry.
Hungry Crow Chocolates, the bigger ones have dates and figs inside!

There are no less than 21 local food producers here including well known ones such as Ummera and Rosscarberry Recipes, lesser known such as Clonakilty Homemade Ice-cream and Devoy’s Organic Farm.

You can read which places are open to visitors and plan your own food journey. Or perhaps you’d like to rely on Kate's suggestions which starts with Ummera in Timoleague and ends with Bushy’s Strawberries in Rosscarberry. In between, you’ll visit The Baking Emporium, Camus Farm and Clonakilty Chocolate and more, maybe even a tour with Kate herself. After all that, you may well make Dunworley Cottage your overnight stay. And that's just one section!

The book will be an ideal "guide" to the Festival itself which takes place this year from 8th-17th September, with over 180 culinary and adventure events taking place across the region’s 33 towns and villages and 9 islands.  Visitors will find a foodie’s paradise, with several national and international chefs preparing culinary-themed feasts in local restaurants, food tastings al fresco, foraging walks, open-air markets, seminars, cook-offs, masterclasses and intimate evenings with local artisan food producers imparting their culinary wisdom.

As I said, West Cork is a large area, so much to see and do, so much good stuff to eat and drink!



Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Summer Days in Dublin. Capital Food and Fun

Summer Days in Dublin
Capital Food and Fun
View of Dublin Castle and surrounds from rooftop garden of Chester Beatty Library

 Just back after a terrific trip to Dublin in the sunshine. And I enjoyed every minute (almost!)  of the three sunshine filled days. On the fourth day, it rained and we met our one and only grumpy taxi-driver of the break, but we were then starting on our way home. Before that, we had very courteous humorous taxi-drivers and the fares seemed reasonable throughout.


Our first trip though was by Luas and that took us close enough to our base, the Trinity Lodge. Didn’t know much about it when we booked a few months back. It is very convenient for the city centre, situated on Frederick Street (just off Nassau Street), next door to Dunne & Crescenzi.



Dublin Castle and State Apartments yard
It is spread over four Georgian houses. There was no lift in our building and the breakfast room was across the street. But everything was up to scratch. Very welcoming and helpful with city information (including maps and taxi calls), a good choice at breakfast (no buffet here - cooked from scratch), there is free Wi-Fi and security is excellent and an Air Coach stop is just 50 metres away.

That afternoon we headed for the Teeling Distillery (€14.00), a new operation in the heart of the Liberties where we had an excellent tour and tasting.
St Patrick's
Next stop was at the nearby St Patrick’s Cathedral. Admission here is five euro. The present building dates from 1220. The Cathedral is today the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland (a church of the Anglican communion) and also serves as a popular tourist attraction in Ireland.

No shortage of history here as you'd expect and there are busts of Douglas Hyde and Erskine Childers (both Irish presidents) and Jonathan Swift ( dean of the cathedral). There too you’ll see the Boyle monument, erected by Richard Boyle, Earl of Cork, in 1632 in memory of his second wife.
Queue for Book of Kells
 Then the mood lightened as we reached Grafton Street and its entertainers. This became a daily stop such was the high standard on offer. All kinds of fun on the street including music, magic and acrobats. You know you're in a capital city when you have to slow down to stroll through the crowds. Later, that evening we had a capital meal, and a great welcome from Cork chef Ross Lewis, at Chapter One .


The sun continued to shine on day two. After a stroll around St Stephen’s Green, we entered Trinity College (€13.00) to see the Book of Kells . We took the general tour - you sign up just inside the main door. It costs just a few euro more than the Book of Kells admission and is well worth it. Our guide, Johnny, took us around the grounds, explaining the buildings, the place and its people (past and present) with no little humour.



Arnaldo Pomodoro's 'Sphere Within Sphere' at Trinity
We had to join a “five minute” queue tour for the book itself. And it was crowded inside as people squeezed in around the display. Might be better to come here in the off-season! The famous Long Room in the Old Library is also part of the tour. Here some 200,000 of the library’s oldest books are stored, the heaviest on the bottom shelves, and all are overseen by a great collection of busts that include Mr Swift again!

The afternoon was spent at the Chester Beatty Library (free). Here the emphasis is very much on the Middle East and Asia, the source of the world's main religions and, in the permanent displays, you'll see a massive collection of related books and other materials (including the “armour” of a Japanese warrior) illustrating the religions and the cultures of that part of the world.
Grafton Street

The current exhibition is Damsels for Dinner: Tale of Oeyama. The Chester Beatty’s mid-17th- century version of the story, produced in a set of three magnificently illustrated scrolls, is on display in the ‘Arts of the Book’ gallery until January 2016.  

Downstairs, you'll find the highly rated Silk Road Café which offers a range of mouth-watering menus from Afghanistan, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Morocco and Palestine, as well as Ireland. You will, of course, pay for your meal but there is no admission charge for the library itself.



Ely Dessert
That evening, on the way to the 3 Arena, we called to Ely at CHQ for their fabulous Early Bird. Great value too at €22.95 for two courses. The restaurant - they have another one in Ely Place, off Stephen’s Green - is noted for using local produce (much of it from the family farm in Clare)  and its fabulous wine list. Highlight was the main course of Braised Beef Cheek with a vegetable tagine and butter beans, tender and delicious. Very convenient for the arena, and other venues, but well worth a visit in its own right.


There was a great buzz there on that Friday evening, packed upstairs and downstairs. The vaults downstairs reminded me of the old bond in Cork. Wonder would Ely be interested in taking that over?



Diamond's forever
Off then to see Neil Diamond. Think I'd have been better off if I had booked dinner, rather than Early Bird in Ely. But I must also say that mine was very much a minority opinion. The place was packed with fans and he told them they loved him and they enthusiastically agreed. Good finish with Sweet Caroline but lots of the earlier songs, even those from his new album (one of which, Art of Love, took five years to write!), sounded old. Glad to get out in the fresh air.


Got a taxi up to the fantastic Botanic Gardens (free) on Saturday morning and had a great couple of hours there. Read the account here. You can walk through a gate from the gardens to the Glasnevin Cemetery and Museum. Here we saw the graves of many famous Irish men and women. We’ll call again as there is much to take in. Time was running out for us, otherwise we'd have taken a guided tour.




Tower marks grave of Daniel O'Connell
 After getting the bus back to the city and working our way through a protest march, we felt we deserved a beer. And we got a very good one from the micro-brewery in Sweetman’s Pub on Burgh Quay, just at the south side of O’Connell Bridge. They have seven of their own beers on offer but I settled for the outstanding Pale Ale. Great buzz there and very highly recommended. Oh, by the way, they do sell other craft beers and some ordinary beers as well!


Another call to Grafton Street and its entertainers on the way back to the Lodge before heading out that evening to a splendid finale at Restaurant Forty One where we absolutely enjoyed the meal and a little chat with chef Graham Neville. A great way to finish a fabulous few days in Ireland's capital city.



Glasnevin grave of O'Donovan Rossa
Chapter One Restaurant
National Botanic Gardens



Friday, July 10, 2015

Chapter One. A Chef and His Suppliers

Chapter One
A Chef and His Suppliers
Japanese Pearl Tapioca
When visiting a restaurant for the first time, I look at the suppliers list. Quite often, I need look no further. Here’s why: Our location on the Northside of Dublin was a notoriously difficult place to trade. Yet people who cared about food came, and suppliers who were passionate about their uniquely Irish produce came too – integrity of produce was what united us. We rely on their drive, passion and determination to achieve so much of what we do here.

The words in italics are from the website of Chapter One. So, okay, I'd have to be living in cloud cuckoo land not to have heard of Ross Lewis, the chef there. But I know him, met him for the first time late last year, and met him again the other night where his restaurant is;  the location - under the Dublin Writers Museum - explains it name.
Chilled Clarenbridge Oysters
But I have known most of his suppliers for much longer and it is they who give me the confidence to go to Chapter One and to many other restaurants around the country. As Ross says, the influence of the suppliers cannot be underestimated. Check here for a full list (and some photos) of the Chapter One suppliers.

But Chef Lewis brings the produce to another level here and so we come, and so do so many more, to the basement at north end of O'Connell Street. Lots of little stories here, including the fact that Mary Robinson met her husband-to-be in the National Ballroom more or less next door. Those of us of a certain age have our little and big stories of the ballrooms - I credit The Freshman with mine, but it's a long, many decades long, story!
Jumbo green asparagus
But time now for the food and the wine, the superb tasting menu and the matching wines at Chapter One. Service, as you might expect, was impeccable.

We started with the Japanese pearl tapioca with matured Gabriel cheese, peas and truffle and the wine was Lustau, Los Arcos, Dry Amontillado. Lustau is perhaps my favourite sherry producer and this was a magic match.
****

Lobster
Course Two was Chilled poached Clarenbridge oyster with Mulloy’s smoked haddock, seaweed jelly. Domaine Chatelain, ‘Les Charmes’ Pouilly Fumé 2011 was the excellent wine, matching the dish.

Then came the Roasted jumbo green asparagus with shellfish and lemon butter.
Heinz W, Joseph Gruner Veltliner, Kamptal; the Austrian wine, a favourite of ours and of our server, was just perfect with the asparagus.
*****

Loin of rabbit
Course Four was Lobster with fermented horseradish and cauliflower. This was an upgrade from scallops and the stunning young Burgundy, Domaine Jean-Baptiste Ponsot, Rully 2013, which was aromatic, fresh and delicate, enhanced the flesh.
****
Now we were back on Terra Firma (almost!).  Pig’s tail stuffed with Fingal Ferguson’s bacon and Dublin bay prawn, basil purée and citrus mustard fruit. Patrice Cacheux et Fils, Hautes Côtes de Nuits ‘Tilles’ 2013. Some terrific wines all through but this Pinot Noir was outstanding.
Irish Coffee on the way!
Last of the meat was Loin of rabbit and Parma ham farce wrapped in pancetta with parsley and barley risotto, roasted balsamic carrots, poached spring onion and crumble. The Simone-Joseph, Beaumes de Venise ‘La Vigne Corbée’ 2012, was fruity, dry and refreshing and boasted a long finish. Just the job for the delicious rabbit.
****
The gorgeous sweet course was Baked lemon curd with praline mousse, meringue crisps, buckwheat ice cream and hazelnut tuille and that was accompanied by Miguel Torres, ‘Nectaria’ Botrytis Riesling, Curico Valley 2009.

Might have expecting a sweet Beaumes de Venises after the previous wine but we were in for another lovely surprise with this Nectaria, highlighted in a shortlist by Evan Goldstein in his Wines of South America (2014). What other treasures has Chile in store for us? This is a gem worth seeking out.

****
Jack McCarthy (left), one of Chapter One's suppliers,
pictured with Yours Truly in Kanturk.
Jack's castle is in the background!
As we nibbled our way through the chocolate rich Petit Fours, we gave thanks to Mr Lewis and his friendly and efficient staff, front of house and in the kitchens, to the suppliers up and down this land - again I quote from the Chapter One website - a land that is the inspiration “that enriches the work of poets, artists, farmers and chefs”.

Long may the customers continue to come to the door of Chapter One. They will be well fed and fed well in this Michelin starred restaurant.


See also:
The National Botanic Gardens visit
Teeling Distillery visit
Dinner of Delights at Restaurant Forty One

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Square Table Launched

The Square Table Launched
Big Night for Coolea Sisters


Top left: Graham Neville (l) with Lucy and Mark of Ballyhoura Mushrooms.
Top right: Cheers! Martina and Yours Truly.

“I wish the two sisters all the best. They have shown great courage,” said Michelin Star chef Ross Lewis as he helped officially launch The Square Table restaurant in Blarney last night. The two sisters are Patricia and Martina Cronin, both originally from Coolea and now well experienced in the restaurant world. Patricia is front of house while Martina (who has worked with Ross) is the head chef.

Martina has also worked with Graham Neville, Head Chef at Restaurant Forty One, who also spoke at the opening. Graham is rather modest and it took Ross to step in and remind us all that Neville is the reigning Food and Wine Magazine Chef of the Year.

The two girls also spoke and their first priority was to say a big thank you to the people of Blarney for their support over the past few months. Martina said they simply wanted to present good well sourced Irish food and had big thanks for three mentors in particular: Kieran Scully (Bayview Hotel), Ross Lewis (Chapter One) and, of course Graham Neville.

Their suppliers too came in for praise as did their local staff (“absolutely fantastic”), all their friends, family, especially Mum and Dad.

Ross Lewis, from Cork himself, said he knows the Cronins well! “The heroes of today are those who employ people. I started in 1993 and I know that success will come.” But he warned that staying power was needed to deal with the special demands of being an employer, including PAYE, PRSI, banks, teaching employees.

“The complexities are enormous. It is a very daunting task. But I know the Cronins are determined. Martina has the doggedness of a lion. It is amazing and great to see people that we’ve worked with get out on their own”.

The sisters were hardly on their own last evening. There was a terrific turnout. Suppliers present included River Wines, Ballyhoura Mushrooms and Pat O'Connell. The media and blogger world was well represented by Joe McNamee, Jack Power, Caroline Hennessy, among others. And no shortage either of fellow restaurateurs, including Nash 19 and Jacques.

The family were naturally up in force from Coolea and customers were also among the attendance. And, after the speech, Matina was back in the kitchen sending out a stream of gorgeous little bites including Durcan’s Spiced Beef, Ardsallagh Goat Cheese, Liscannor Crab, Michael Twomey’s Wagyu Rib-eye, Ballyhoura Mushrooms, and Old Millbank Smoked Salmon.

On the sweet side there were Macaroons, Poached Blackberries, Chocolate Brownies and a Lemon Cream and Blueberry meringue, all gorgeous. And no shortage of wine to wash it all down.

Thanks for the invite ladies and the best of luck in Blarney!