Showing posts with label Clonakilty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Clonakilty. Show all posts

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Richy’s Restaurant. Sixteen Years In Clon - Getting Better All The Time.


Richy’s Restaurant. 
Sixteen Years In Clon - Getting Better All The Time.
Warm chicken salad

Richy’s Restaurant is celebrating sixteen years in Clonakilty and is better than ever. Richy is an outstanding chef and the whole enterprise, the original restaurant and the newer R Cafe, is amazing. Here you can eat well all day long, every day of the week, and virtually everything on the menu is based on local produce. 

Here too you can learn about food. Richy is passionate about local produce, about sustainability, a campaigner against obesity and his food and classes reflect these concerns. A four evening course on Healthy Eating (with chef Matt Williamson) starts on April 24th details here
Renowned West Cork smoker Sally Barnes
is one of Richy's suppliers

But back to our lunch, the purpose of our recent visit. We had a good look at the menu, one page of which is given over to a list of local producers, some of them just a few yards away from the Wolfe Tone premises but virtually all of them from the general West Cork area, including familiar names such as Toonsbridge, Shannonvale, Clonakilty Black Pudding, Sally Barnes Smokery, Gubbeen and Milleens.

Quite a choice on the menu, including lots of pizzas from their own oven. Salads too, fishcakes, lasagna, a beef burger and a vegetarian burger and more. And then check the board for the specials. Here we saw a Monkfish and Bean Stew, Union Hall salmon with mash and veg, Seafood chilli pasta with the option of adding scallops, and a Pork Burger with apple purée and chips. 

And one (I had this on a previous visit) that you must consider is the Mauritian Beef Curry! A range of dishes and a range of prices too and family friendly as well with a special kids menu.
Frittata

My pick was the Warm Salad of Grilled Chicken with Gubbeen bacon and avocado, cherry tomatoes and baby leaves (11.95). Full of textures and flavours and those leaves were so fresh and well-dressed, a delightful lunch for a coolish spring day but one that could be just as satisfying in summer and winter.

CL meanwhile was making pleasurable progress with her Cauliflower, garlic, potato and red onion frittata, also with local leaves (8.95 small, 11.50 large). “Faultless,” she reported. “Salad was lovely too, the cauliflower a delicious ingredient, and the few halved olives gave a tarty bite as well.” So there you are, two happy customers and we went on to share a pot of tea after that.

After settling the bill in this bright and airy room we asked to say hello to the man himself in the adjoining white-walled restaurant. As our chat progressed, he told us how things have changed in the evening menu here, with a page now devoted to tapas (small plates, ranging in  price from 4.95 to 15.00). 
Local supplier

You may still have plenty of meat (48 hour Jacob’s Ladder, Slaney Valley Rack of Lamb, Carrigfadda Farm Shoulder of Pork, and Dexter Burger). Seafood too features in the list of mains, including a Roast fillet of Monkfish, a West Cork Fish Bake, Seared Beara Scallops, and a mega seafood plate with Lobster, prawn, crab and scallops. Indeed, reading the menu details, you realise you are in a really top notch restaurant.

So back to the Tapas, divided into meat and fish ones and also an equally long Veggie section. How about Panko Soft Shell Crabs with spiced tomato relish? Anyone for Clonakilty Black Pudding samosas with vegetable achard. Maybe Fillet of Beef medallions with rosemary potatoes? On the Veggie List, you’ll want those Spiced Lentils with spinach and Macroom halloumi. Would you prefer the Tipperary goats cheese balls, with cranberry relish and leaves? Reckon you've got the picture by now. Better to call down though and check out the real thing for yourself.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

A Hundred of the Best from Le Caveau. Starting with Franciacorta and a Clonakilty Girl


A Hundred of the Best from Le Caveau
Starting with a Franciacorta and a Clonakilty Girl
Meeting Rhona at St Peter's last week

“We are a small vineyard, ten hectares in total, eight planted with Chardonnay, two with Pinot Noir,” said Rhona Cullinane of the 1701 vineyard in the Franciacorta region of Italy when I met her at the Le Caveau portfolio tasting in Cork’s old St Peter's Church last Thursday. So I hear you asking: Rhona Cullinane, from an Italian vineyard? Well, Rhona is from Clonakilty and went to Sienna to finish off third level education and fell in love with the country and now divides her time between the 1701 vineyard and London with plenty of opportunities to get back to Clon.

1701 is an unusual name for a winery . It comes from the year of the first vinification there by the Conti Bettoni Cazzago family; that was in the “brolo”, a four hectare vineyard framed by X1 century walls. In 2012, brother and sister Federico and Silvia Stefini took over the estate and the winery and named it 1701 in honour of that long-ago first vintage. Rhona works with the Stefinis and they were the first in the Franciacorta region to be awarded the coveted biodynamic Demeter certification in July 2016.

There are about 100 to 120 producers in the area and they are now “slowly focusing” on external markets, Rhona told me last week. “there is a regional ambition to move to organic and biodynamic”. 

Rhona was showing the 1701 Franciacorta Brut DOCG. It is a blend of Chardonnay (85%) and Pinot Noir (15%).  The summer heat of the vineyard is tempered by the breeze from the lake (Iseo) and the mountains to the north. “We choose to keep it on the lees for 30 months, well above the appellation minimum. It is made in the traditional manner, manually harvested, with the indigenous yeasts, and a secondary fermentation in the bottle but with zero dosage.
Ballymaloe sommelier Samuel (left) and Damiem of Clos de Caveau

St Peter's
It is a gorgeous sparkling wine, the palate full and generous, clean, fresh and elegant, apple notes, citrus too and that typical brioche note, beautifully balanced and a dry finish. Expect to pay in the mid 30s, considerably less than what you'd pay for the bigger names of the region; lovely wine, great value.

Jules, who is spending a few month in L’Atitude (Cork) improving his English, was keen to show me some of the wines he was familiar with from his home in the south west of France, beginning with the family’s impressive Chateau de Cedre héritage. “This is 95% Malbec, 5% Merlot,” he said. “Four of the five parcels are organic but the next vintage will be fully organic. It is started in cement tanks, matured in barrels.” 

It is medium to full bodied, gorgeous black fruits on the silky palate with a clean finish. Colour is a light ruby, it is easy-going, no shortage of drinkability. Another quality wine at a very good price (15.40).

The small Mirouze vineyard in Corbieres produces some excellent wines, including that Ciel du Sud that Jules showed. It is a lovely lively blend, 50% Grenache, 50% Carignan. It is raised in cement tanks and no sulphur is added. 
Margaret of Le Caveau and, right, Dave of Café Paradiso

The little vineyard is surrounded by garrigue. That means the vines are well away from the sprays of neighbours. On the other hand, wild boar enjoy the cover of the scrub and so the Mirouze family have to use an electric fence to deter them.
My cuvée!!

Domaine No Control is into wine (of course) and music. One of their Gamay is called Fusion, the other Rockaille Billy. I had spotted the Billy on the list early on and wasn't leaving until I had a taste of it. The domaine consists of just five hectares and Jules agreed that this was that bit different to Beaujolais Gamay. “Lovely, great drinkability”. Must get a few bottles of that for the table when I have guests!

from Oregon
The next chat I had was with Damiem and he was showing the Clos de Caveau Vacqueyras AC Carmin Brilliant. Vacqueyras village, under the shade of its large trees, stays cool when the vineyards all around are warm. 

And this is one cool wine, coming from a height of 200m, higher than most of its neighbours, and bearing the distinctive diagonal wraparound label designed by Karl Lagerfeld. It is a superb blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah, natural yeast is used and nothing is added. Good structure and bite, lovely ripe tannins, excellent acidity and freshness.
Sustenance via L'Atitude 51

Superb
Then it was on to the Alsace table where there was a strong showing from Meyer-Fonné. Always find the Gentil wines from the Alsace very drinkable and the MF 2016 was typical. Later, I would come across a similar effort from Oregon’s Ovum Wines called Big Salt! 

The Meyer-Fonné Gewürztraminer 2015 Réserve was aromatic and rich. Hints of sweetness too in the Pinot Blanc but this was dry with  a minerally finish. Also excellent - it suited my palate well - was the 2015 Riesling while the 2013 Grand Cru didn't quite do it for me, almost always find it hard to tune out that whiff of petrol. 
Mayer-Fonné well represented on Le Caveau list

The 2016 Pinot Gris was much more to my liking and the winery points to this one as “the archetypical Pinot Gris for the table”. Will put that on my list. Indeed, I think I may just make a list of all the Meyer-Fonné wines and see how I get on.

I had been pointed towards the Kumpf et Meyer 2016 Riesling by Ballymaloe sommelier Samuel. And with good reason. From its fresh, fragrant and full nose through its complex palate to the long and savoury finish, this is worth a second longer look and so another that will make my ever lengthening shopping list!






Monday, July 17, 2017

Pizza and Wine on a West Cork Beach. The Puffin Cafe at Castlefreke.

Pizza and Wine on a West Cork Beach

The Puffin Cafe at Castlefreke.
There is still plenty of room in the car park but many choose to park on the road. It is a typically Irish scene as you arrive at a beach-side car park on a sunny day. But what is not typical is the beach café, the only building on the Long Strand, Castlefreke. It is black, as black as a puffin’s back, and is named, The Puffin Café.

Most of the action, well if you call sitting and lying action, on this sunny day is on the outside. A few brave souls, kids mainly, are testing the water. But there’s not a surfer in sight. Soon, the kids will be trooping up to the café, making the hard choice at the ice-cream counter, something like 14 varieties to choose from!

Already family groups are eating at the big picnic style tables outside. Pizzas, and ice-creams and drinks, are in big demand. But the inside seats, and there are quite a few of them, are not! I'm happy with that. I've been out in the sun all morning and now glad of some shade.

A lovely warm welcome and we are soon seated, checking out the menu which doubles as a place-mat. We note the names immediately, smiling as we go through them: Bowie, Salsoul, Rick Rubin, Chuck D, Jazzy Jay, Larry Levan and more are used for the pizzas.

My pick is the Furious Five (€15.50), a welcome melange of San Marzano tomatoes, prosciutto, peaches, mozzarella, blue cheese and rocket. Quite an excellent pizza with the peaches working surprisingly well with all the rest. There were some nine pizzas on the list ranging from a Margherita (10.50) to a Fish offering, the Larry Levan featuring Smoked Mackerel and beetroot at €16.50.

CL has picked something that little bit smaller, the Salsoul Sandwich (8.50). This tasty starter consists of Marsala Roasted chorizo, roasted peppers, onions and leaves and is served in a sourdough flat bread. See the full menu here.

We drank lots of water as we ate but they do have wine here. From France comes Le Petit Pont Reserve in both red and white, at €6.50 a glass. From Italy, you can have the Costadoro organic white and red at €7.50 a glass or €28.00 a bottle. €28.00 also for a bottle of Prosecco. If you want something more expensive, then ask them about their small range “of quality and eclectic wines” that are off menu. Other drinks available are sparkling water, ginger beer, and pip organic.

The name game continues with the desserts: Boney Mmm; B-Boying; Minnelli: and Freke Out! The latter, by the way, is the Puffin’s special Ice Cream Sundae. And, of course, you can also check out the ice-creams! 

No shortage of coffee choices (I thought my espresso was top notch) and you may have tea, ordinaire or herbal. Oh yes, almost forgot, there is music too at the café, outdoors on this occasion. All that, and sunshine, means a fun stop at the beach.

The Puffin Cafe’s summer (June, July, August & September) hours are: MONDAY + THURSDAY + FRIDAY: 12pm-4pm. SATURDAY: 10am-10pm. SUNDAY: 11am-8pm.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Richy Virahsawmy. Clon’s Renaissance Man

Richy Virahsawmy
Clon’s Renaissance Man
Richy Virahsawmy is something of a renaissance man. He is a restaurant owner, a cook, a teacher, a consultant, an active contributor to the local community in Clonakilty, a TV chef, an author, and a farmer. He has cooked for you and me, for celebrities (Michael Flatley), in big houses (Castle Hyde, Castlefreke), for large crowds (World Web Summit and at the National Ploughing Championship), for Prime Ministers and their guests (in Downing Street and in his native Mauritius).

I won’t go into all the details in this post but you may read all about his background here. The Irish leg of his career began when he joined the staff of Inchydoney Lodge and his dream of opening his own restaurant became reality in 2002 when Richy’s was established in Clonakilty.

And, ten years later, worried that a restaurant that only opened a few days week might not be enough on its own, he reinforced his position in the town with the opening of the adjoining cafe, turning the operation into a multi-functional one. Now he had two types of dining room in the one premises.

Superb chowder, with Murphy's & Walnut Brown Bread
 Now too he could really get to grips with expanding his teaching. Autumn/Winter Courses include fish cookery, Canapes and Small Bites, Slow Cookin, Sushi Making, Cooking for Friends are among those available. These are all interactive classes: you cook and, at the end of the evening, sit down with your fellow students and eat!


And Richy loves teaching children to cook and every week he has classes for a small group (eight to twelve) of kids with autism. Indeed, in an attempt to meet the threat of obesity, he plans to increase his work with schoolchildren and has earmarked an old house on his farm for that purpose, and more. Watch this space.

He, his Finnish wife Johanna, and their three children, live on the farm in nearby Rosscarbery in a cleverly converted barn! The farm is worked and they have established a market garden there with herbs, and greens, tomatoes and so on, grown for the restaurant. Richy finds it hard to understand why so many Irish farmers stopped doing this for themselves. Another bonus is that most of the restaurant waste is composted here.


Back at the restaurant, it is all go. But not with the staff. He has a good team, twenty four strong, his chefs “stay longer”. The place, the flow of work, is tidy, highly organized, everything in its place.

“Ninety per cent is made in-house. You can't go much higher than that.” And the menus rarely stand still, always a few on the specials boards, He had taken an “office day”, on the day of our visit, to work on the Spring-Summer menus for 2016. A few years back, he introduced a pizza menu and that is going strongly.

When Richy started up in 2002, he knew he wouldn't have to go far for good produce. It is all around here in Clonakilty, in the fields of the local farms, and in the nearby seas. And he makes great use of it as we found out, again, last week.
There were at least five specials on the board and I started with one of them: the West Cork Seafood Chowder, packed with little chunks of fish and a few mussels in their shells, a terrific chowder and a great starter on a cool enough day. Meanwhile, CL was warming up with the Buttersquash and Sweetcorn Soup.

Again, I found my mains on the Specials list: Tuna Nicoise Salad, boiled egg, anchovies and green beans. A superb combination of flavours (the meaty tuna and the salty anchovies), colours and textures (crunchy beans, soft eggs). And the salad, from the farm, was simply outstanding.

That well dressed salad also made an appearance in CL’s dish: Chicken, avocado and pomegranate salad, Gubbeen bacon, balsamic and extra virgin olive oil. Again, this was one to savour, take your time with, a pleasure to eat.

We would have loved a dessert and were tempted but settled for a cup of coffee, a chat with the man himself and a tour of the kitchen.
The R Cafe (left) & the restaurant

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Taste of the Week. So Milky Milk Chocolate

Taste of the Week

So Milky Milk Chocolate
One of the bonuses of visiting Clonakilty recently for A Taste of West Cork was the chance to meet chocolatier Allison Roberts at the tasting event in Spiller’s Lane. She was one of the local producers showing their wares and I stocked up on her chocolate bars, including the So Milky Milk bar, our Taste of the Week.

This has no “artificial anything” and is “Gluten free”. Aside from Cocoa, the other main ingredient is Coconut Blossom Syrup. And the milk is not from the cow but from the goat!

Clonakilty Chocolate is a Fairtrade operation, the beans coming to Clon from the farmers of Kokoo (Ghana). Even the wrapper is bio-degradeable. Eating it, the chocolate that is, will make you feel good in more ways than one!

Other bars include: Chai Chilli, 100% Cocoa, Decadent Dark, Wild West Salty, and Seriously Minted. The Salty and the Minted are also among my favourites but do sample and take your pick from a great choice.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

In Spiller’s Lane. Choc And Aah!

In Spiller’s Lane
Choc And Aah!
Allison, on her bike, with her Clonakilty Chocolate
Clonakilty hotels and restaurants were out in force as A Taste of West Cork festival kicked off in the town’s Spiller’s Lane on Saturday. The sun came out too and so did hundreds of punters as the local mayor opened the event.
With music playing, we sauntered up and down the narrow lane and started off with a delightful cocktail from Fernhill Hotel. Ingredients were mostly local, of course, and the "Corktail" included service with a smile. Neighbouring stall saw the Emmet Hotel dishing out loads of delicious small bites. We sampled canapés featuring Union Hall Salmon and Chicken Paté, both excellent.

An Sugan (top)
and Richie's bun.
A beetroot salad? The offer came from the man at the Baile an Ard Foods Stand and, of course, we said yes. It was very impressive. He told me the salad, along with quite a few others, may be bought in local shops and supermarkets and that they also do catering for events such as Communions, Confirmations, parties, even Christmas. So now you know.

An Sugan had quite a menu on offer and we picked their Scallops with a parsnip and potato puree. Three big juicy scallops, for a fiver! 

And we did well next door too with Richy’s Bistro where the man himself served up their Steamed Pork Bun, based on a dish by a top New York chef. Ricky took a while to figure out how to reproduce it but it was worth the wait as it is a beauty, another gem for a fiver.


The Lettercollum Project
On the way back down (maybe up!), we stopped for the speeches alongside the Clonakilty Black Pudding stand. And then there was ice-cream from the lady at Clonakilty Homemade Ice Cream. The Honeycomb was delicious and a reasonable two euro for a boule. They have a shop in the town and do outdoor events and supply to restaurants and hotels around West Cork. They’ve been doing it for the past ten years and all the ice cream is made on the premises.
We had lots of other samples as we made our way around but our final stop was at Clonakilty Chocolate where Allison was not alone displaying her range of freetrade bars but also the newest addition to the family, the baby sleeping soundly despite the crowds. No need to sample here, we know how good her chocolate is.

We did buy a few bars, including the favourite Mo Milk Chocolate. This includes goats milk and Coconut Blossom Syrup, a creamy compromise between the bean and milk. Enjoying it now as I write this. Tough going!

  • A Taste of West Cork continues all this week with events, big and small, taking place across the area. Get your hands on the brochure or check it out here .

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fish Seafood Deli. Fresh from the Ocean

Fish Seafood Deli
Fresh from the Ocean
I am eating a Fish Pie, a simple fish pie. It contains Whitefish, Smoked Fish, Salmon, Milk, Onions, Butter, Flour, Potatoes, Seasoning, Breadcrumbs, Cheese. Nothing exotic. Nothing than I can’t spell. No preservatives, no artificial colourants. Mainly it contains fish. It has been baked in the oven for 25 minutes and a bunch of broccoli has been added to the plate. Simple stuff but simply superb.

I’ve also been sampling fish cakes and they too are excellent, easy to prepare and easy to eat! The cakes and the pie are encouraging signs that Irish fishermen are taking more control of their own destiny. They’ve been produced in Rosscarbery by Fish Seafood Deli and much of that fish has come from their boats.

Ex fisherman Peter Shanahan founded the business in 2011 when he opened a retail shop in Rosscarbery. Since then he has been joined by Monica Buckley and her husband Niall Deasy. Niall operates fishing trawlers out of Union Hall port, fishing for prawns and whitefish primarily. And the business has expanded.

Many of you travelling in the area will be glad to see one of their outlets, the Fish Basket in Rosscarbery, on the main road west of the Celtic Ross Hotel. This is a busy spot and yes fish and chips is the most popular buy. But you can also get a prawn sandwich here, maybe a crab salad.
Fish Seafood Deli now employ 15 staff, between :
2 Retail premises (Rosscarbery and Clonakilty);
2 mobile units serving the  Cork area;
Wholesale business supplying Hotels & Restaurants with fish directly from the fishing boats of Union Hall/Baltimore & Kinsale;
2 full time chefs producing cooked products e.g fish cakes, fish pies, Prawn Cocktail, seafood quiches, breads.
Fish Basket located at Newtown, Rosscarbery,  serving fish and chips and specials such as crab & prawn parcels with pineapple salsa.
Monica tells me the mobile units have regular spots they sell at. “For example one of the units is in Whitechurch and Carrignavar each Monday. They would have different towns they go to every day of the week.  The mobile units sell fresh fish and also a selection of our cooked seafood range.”

The retail shops each have a wet area where you can buy the freshest of fish. The Rosscarbery one is just east of the village, located next to Ryan’s Service Station, on the main road to Clonakilty. We got some cod there for dinner last Saturday night and it was just first class, the flesh pristine on the plate.

 You can also buy the cooked seafood range here. Indeed, the company’s kitchens are here. The Clonakilty shop does both fresh and cooked and is in Ashe Street.


Peter spent almost three years working in Glenmar fish factory in Skibbereen before training as a carpenter. But it wasn't the best of times to be in the construction industry. Following the collapse of the Tiger and two P45s in quick succession, he returned to the fish industry and spent several seasons on prawn and tuna trawlers.

The idea of opening a fish shop had been in his mind for a while and became a reality in July 2011, when he opened the doors to Fish Seafood Deli just outside his home town of Rosscarbery.

“I feel that in an ever-increasing health-conscious society that fresh fish is something that people are going to want more and more of. I also believe that West Cork has some of the finest seafood in the country!  And if you don’t believe me – call into our shop and see for yourself!”

I think we’ll be hearing more from Fish Seafood Deli!


Fish Seafood Deli



Rosscarbery
Burgatia,
Rosscarbery,
West Cork
Phone: (023) 8869612
Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat: 9am-4pm
Closed Sunday & Public Holidays
Clonakilty
42 Ashe Street,
Clonakilty,
West Cork
Phone: (023) 8859981
Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am-6pm
Closed Sunday & Public Holidays

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Clonakilty Hotel’s Copperpot Restaurant


The Clonakilty Hotel’s Copperpot Restaurant
Goats Cheese
Glad I followed up a recommendation from a friend the other day and called to the Copperpot Restaurant in Clonakilty for an evening meal. The restaurant is part of the Clonakilty Hotel but has its own entrance as well on the corner of Wolfe Tone Street and College Street.

It has an Early Bird menu - two courses for 19.95, three for 24.95 - but we were at our leisure and went for the A La Carte. This is also fairly priced and is available from 3.00pm. Starters included Soup of the Day, Chowder, Chicken and Bacon salad, a Chicken Liver Pate and also Fried Scampi.
Sea-Bass
You regularly see Deep-fried Brie as a starter but they came up with a Golden Fried Goats Cheese, Crumbed and deep-fried and served with a red onion and mixed pepper jam. This was a terrific starter, very flavoursome, for €6.95.

While I was studying the menu I was tempted by the Mussels Thai Style (6.95). I remembered a dish they used do at the former Thai restaurant in Bridge Street in the city where they served very large mussels. But the Copperpot used local mussels with a hint of chilli and ginger and served with crispy baguette. This was a great change to the usual Moules Mariniere, indeed a delightful one. I was very happy with that choice and would pick it again without hesitation.

Pork
So we were off to a good start. How would the main courses measure up? No problem here either. There is a quite a choice on the regular menu but we picked two from the specials board. Mine was Pork Fillet served with a Mushroom Sauce (11.95). A great piece of pork, tender and delicious and enhanced no end by the sauce.

CL went for the Sea-Bass with its Chilli Cream Sauce (16.50), another perfectly executed plateful, a satisfying combination of flavours with the sauce a well judged addition rather than an overpowering mask. The side vegetables were perfectly cooked as well.

All the while I was sipping away at my Stonewell medium dry cider and that really came into its with the pork. Hopefully the cider is the first of local craft drinks to appear on the menu.


It had been a long time since a quickly snatched lunch so this time we had room for dessert. CL picked the Poached Pear in a Cinnamon Syrup and with Vanilla Ice-cream. Very impressive! I hadn't heard of Glenowen ice-creams so I said I’d try the Selection of Glenowen Farm Hand-made ice creams from Middleton(?). It came in three delicious flavours. Still not sure though who makes it, haven't been able to find anything on the internet. Have any of you heard of it?

Overall though this was a very satisfying meal indeed and you can add the Copperpot to your Clonakilty list.
Pears

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Clonakilty Chocolate. From Ghana to Clon.

Clonakilty Chocolate. 
From Ghana to Clon.

Allison (centre) in Ghana with farmers
Allison Roberts of Clonakilty Chocolate held a very enjoyable and informative chocolate and tapas evening in Molly’s Bar last week. She is treasurer of the town’s Fairtrade Group and has been active in that role too as Clonakilty recently highlighted its commitment to the Fairtrade idea. Read all about it here.   

Clonakilty Chocolate import their beans from Ghana and owner Allison, who has visited her suppliers there, started the evening by explaining where the chocolate beans come from and the importance of the fairtrade idea. She explained about the hard work in producing the crop, the cacao pods, the hand-harvesting. 

By going through the Fairtrade route, and Clonakilty town is the leader here, the profit-taking middleman is eliminated and the producers get a fair price for their hard-won produce. Read here to see how the interaction between Clonakilty and Ghana plays out.
The new bars
Once the chocolate beans are in Clon, Allison has some hard work to do herself and she took us through the technical aspects of producing chocolate and the different types. The hard work though is well worth it: Cacao is an amazing product…highest concentration of antioxidants in any food..gets our blood flowing better…make us feel happy……a life giving treat..it is a powerful aphrodisiac..a gift of love… food of the gods…”

Everybody in Molly's seemed happy enough and with women making up about 90 per cent of the audience, there must have been some surprised stay-at-home husbands in Clonakilty beds last Thursday night when the wives came back!

The evening began with a welcome Prosecco and some shards of 65% Chocolate with Puffed Brown Rice. Some we were into the Savoury Spread:
Bluebell Falls Goats Cheese with 75% chocolate, honey, garlic and thyme;
Roasted fennel Dip with ground Cacao nibs;
Aubergine Caponata with 100% chocolate;
Spicy Mixed Bean Mole with 100% grated chocolate;
Puy lentil Toasted Tomato Salad with Raspberry Chocolate vinagrette.

They had some suggested drinks and I was happy to go with the Mountain Man Hairy Goat beer. The Aubergine was perhaps my favourite from the list, though the goats cheese and Rosemary Tartlet were pretty close to the top as well.

 Goodies at the tasting and, bottom right,
a conche to grind beans "into Fairtrade silky velvet".
Top right is my favourite, the Aubergine caponata.
Then a break for music before heading into the Sweet Selection:
Dark Chocolate Beamish Cake with mascarpone icing;
Chilli espresso cake with 75% dark chocolate with coconut sugar;
Beetroot Chocolate Brownie with fennel seed glaze;
Orange truffle cake;
Black-eyed bean dark chocolate loaf;
Hazelnut rum raisin and Honey sage truffles.

I think we were all feeling happy at this stage!

Hard to get the Irish away from their milk chocolate but one of Allison’s new products could well do that. She also loves goats and her new chocolate with Coconut Sugar and Goats Milk went down a treat at Molly’s. It is really excellent and she herself is also very happy with it. 

So look out for that Milky Milk and also for other new products including Seriously  Minted, Decadent Dark, Chai Chilli, and Wild West Salty with a pinch of Irish Salt & Seaweed.


Allison, who works out of her own home (the back has been converted into a chocolate factory), had help on the evening from Kate of flavour.ie. who handed out her recipes for the Rosemary Tartlet and also the Beetroot and chocolate brownies. Home-cook Kate already runs supper clubs and you’ll see details and lots of recipes on her blog flavour.ie. Soon too she’ll be running Food Tours in and around Clonakilty for visitors.