Showing posts with label Coffee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Coffee. Show all posts

Monday, November 6, 2017

Casanova on George’s Quay. Gelato. And So Much More!

Casanova on George’s Quay.
Gelato. And So Much More!

On Barry’s corner on George’s Quay, in a clothes shop once run by the Barry sisters (here you could buy elastic for your knickers or, if you were flush, new knickers and more), you can now indulge in the most amazing Gelato.

Long after the Barry’s closed their shop, a twelve year old Italian girl so much enjoyed a two week holiday in Ireland that she got it extended to two months. And then promised herself she would come back. 

Many years later, Barbara did just that. Barbara and her husband Andrea (also with a love of Ireland) set up their shop on George's Quay in August 2016 so that now you can enjoy a real taste of Italy in Casanova Gelato.

We did that just last week. There is an amazing display cabinet with over a dozen gelatos to tempt you. Not the same selection every day, by the way. Andrea doesn't want the gelato lying around so he makes small batches that move quickly and you’ll see different varieties from day to day.

It is one of the best displays I've seen anywhere and that includes San Gimignano, the ice-cream capital of the world, or at least the home of the World Champion when I visited. 
Couldn't wait to get cracking on the Gelatos of George’s Quay. I think Andrea spotted that and soon we each had a bowl with three samples: Hazelnut, Rocher, Chocolate, Chocolate and hazelnut, Mascarpone cheese and strawberry, and Spiruli.


Spiruli? I hear you ask. The blue colouring that so many kids like comes from the natural pigment of Spirulina. Spirulina algae is rich in essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals making Spiruli Gelato healthy for children and adults alike. Aztec warriors considered it “the food of the gods” and the 1974 UN World Food Conference designated it a “food of the future”. 

It certainly goes down well with the kids and Andrea told me adults like it very much in their Affogato dessert where the colour changes when you add the expresso! So yes you may have coffee and gelato together.

But we were invited in to test-taste their forthcoming Bubble Waffle! Barbara was busy getting that ready and soon presented us with two of them, CL getting the one with the strawberry fruit and sauce while mine had banana and chocolate sauce. A cup of their delicious Agust organic coffee was also provided.

We were up to the challenge! Well, the combination is delicious, all wrapped up in this bubble waffle. It is still a work in progress though, with Barbara tweaking it so that is not too sweet. Her work got a vote of confidence from us and it will be officially launched in the very near future.

There are dozens of Gelato flavours and these may be used in their waffles as well. Ours was a Special of course with fresh fruit, one sauce and a one topping. A simple waffle and a fruit waffle are also available and you may also have Gelato Waffle (without the fruit). Anyone for a Croffle? Think Croissant and Waffle.

So lots of tasty variety. And I haven't yet mentioned their crepes, their sundaes, some special Gelato drinks such as the Casanova Shake and others such as Marilyn Monroe (flavoured Italian style Latte Macchiato made with organic coffee and milk topped with fresh cream). 

They also have a special range for those with Vegan and those with Dairy intolerances. All their Gelato is suitable for Vegetarian; no gelatine is used. There is so much going on in this small place. 

“All our ingredients are carefully chosen to give to our customers the best experience possible. We use only Irish Organic Milk, Real Fruit, Belgian Chocolate, the best Italian Piemonte IGP Hazelnut and Italian Pistachio 100% Pure Paste. All our product are made without Palm Oil, Artificial Flavouring and Colourants, all proven to be dangerous for human health.”

The reaction has been good and they are pleased with their first year on the banks of the Lee. Barbara told me they enjoy the vibrancy of the city, the amount of festivals and events. “In my city in Italy, a similar size to Cork, they would organise maybe one a year.” But here there is one nearly every week, most recently the Jazz festival (and that was good for Casanova). 

And the couple are contributing to the festivals themselves. During the recent Taste Cork Week they joined in and held a Gelato Workshop; the 3.5 hours lesson cost €55.00, a lot less than the former World Champion’s €400.00 fee for a 2-hour course!

But you don’t need a festival to visit Casanova and treat yourself. It may not be exactly in the city centre but is just a couple of minutes from the South Mall. And you get a good view too. Andrea told me he loves the river and the Holy Trinity Church church on the other bank, another plus when you’re enjoying your Gelato along with the kids or the grandkids. Or maybe by yourself!

  • If you can’t stay, they do a take-away box!

Casanova Gelato

Twitter: @casanovagelato

Monday, February 13, 2017

Cork Indie Coffee Trail. A Guide by Dermot O’Sullivan

Cork Indie Coffee Trail
A Guide by Dermot O’Sullivan
So (seems to be the word to start with these days), you’re in Cork, looking for a cup of real coffee. You know there are some terrific indie cafés around the city. But do you know where they are? Where is ORSO? Where is Nectar Coffee?

Just mentioned this pair as they feature in the first page of the Indie Coffee Trail, a new guide (with directions) by local chef Dermot O’Sullivan, perhaps best known to many of you as @GasMarkSeven on Twitter. ORSO, by the way, is in Pembroke Street, close to the GPO while Nectar sits on the junction of Maylor Street and Parnell Place.

Dermot’s selection showcases “the best of what Cork city’s coffee scene has to offer”.  The cafés have added “another element to the cultural dimension of the city, forgotten buildings have been brought back to life… All the while, locals and visitors alike are becoming more knowledgeable and discerning with their coffee of choice”.

Other coffee haunts listed by Dermot included Dukes Coffeehouse, Filter Espresso & Brew Bar and its new little sister Portafilter, Union Grind, The Bookshelf, Idaho, Warren Allen, Alchemy, Cork Coffee Roasters (at two venues), Ali’s Kitchen, Rocket Man and Rocket Man East, Farmgate, Three Fools and Café Gusto (also two locations)

And there is a map of the city centre indicating where each can be found. A brief description of each café and the type of coffee available and also opening hours is included in the handy pocket sized booklet. And you are also told whether Wifi is available!

What are you waiting for? Hit the streets and discover Cork City’s coffee with Dermot’s help. You can get his guide in all tourist spots like tourist offices, hotels, most cafes listed, art galleries including UCC. Student centres too.

For further info, contact Dermot at CorkCoffeeTrail@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @gas_mark_seven. Check his blog www.gasmarkseven.


Monday, October 3, 2016

Coffees Stars

Coffees Stars
From Hancock & Abberton

Dublin based Hancock & Abberton were celebrating on the double at the recent Great Taste Awards when two of their coffees won gold stars. Their Really Good Organic Coffee, two stars this time, had won before and great to see a repeat but the surprise was perhaps the performance of their Decaf Coffee that was awarded one star, “indistinguishable from regular coffees in the blind tasting”.
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I got the opportunity to sample both winners recently and yes that Decaf, made from 100% Arabica beans, is a pleasant surprise, all the elements of a good coffee, particularly those delicate floral notes, without the caffeine. Here’s what the Great Tastes judges said: ”a deep satisfying flavour, with good length. Well balanced bitterness and acidity with a refreshing aftertaste. …, gentle on the palate but nevertheless has depth. An excellent coffee of its type”.
Guy Hancock and Anne Abberton, who co founded the firm in 2004 (initially known as Café de Cuba) were naturally delighted to announce their Two Gold Stars and One Gold Star at the Great Taste Awards, the world’s most coveted blind-tasted food awards , which celebrates the very best in food and drink . “This win for our decaf coffee is also an testament that great tasting coffee need not be compromised by decaffeination.”
Really Good Organic Coffee has previously won two Gold Stars in the Great Taste Awards 2012 and repeated that feat.  It has been described by the judges as a coffee with “a lovely roasted aroma, clean citrus taste and rewarding aftertaste and mouth feel, the whole experience is well balanced between bitterness and acidity and complexity”. It is indeed another excellent coffee made from dark beans with a distinctive shine; it is rich and strong, well balanced and satisfying, especially earlier in the day!
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Judged by over 500 of the most demanding palates, belonging to food critics, chefs, cooks, restaurateurs and producers as well as a whole host of food writers and journalists, Great Taste is widely acknowledged as the most respected food accreditation scheme for artisan and speciality food producers. So quite a pat on the back for Hancock and Abberton.
As well as a badge of honour, the unmistakeable black and gold Great Taste label is a signpost to a wonderful tasting product, which has been discovered through hours and hours of blind-tasting by hundreds of judges.
There were 10,000 Great Taste entries this year and the panel of judges included; TV chef and author, Valentine Warner, MasterChef judge and restaurant critic, Charles Campion, fifth generation baker, Tom Herbert from Hobbs House Bakery, and Great British Bake Off winner, Frances Quinn; food buyers from Harrods, Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols and Waitrose and chefs including, James Golding, chef director of THE PIG Hotels, and Kevin Gratton, chef director of HIX Restaurants.
These two coffees now join the company’s other Great Taste Award winning brands including Café de Cuba Santiago (Great Taste Award Winner 2014 and Fixx Coffee (Great Taste Winner 2013 and 2009).
Hancock & Abberton supply to:­-
Trade customers such as cafes, hotels, restaurants, offices, showrooms and speciality retail outlets;
Coffee and Tea drinkers who frequent our trade customers’ outlets;
Coffee and Tea drinkers at home via the on line store
Stockists: http://www.hancockandabberton.com/blog/buy-really-good-organic-coffee-in-ireland.html

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Golden Bean. Kingston Making A Mark

The Golden Bean
Kingston Making A Mark
From the opening Cascara to the closing Espresso, the Munster Wine & Dine visit to Marc Kingston’s Golden Bean Coffee roastery in East Cork was an eye-opener.

The Cascara, surprisingly low in caffeine, is made from the dried skins of the cherry of the coffee. Once regarded as waste, the cherry is now used to produce this unique drink, more like a tea than a coffee. But not quite a tea either. More a fruit tissane as suggested here.

Marc, and his assistants Blair and Ciaran, had us up and running and demo followed demo, the highlight being a roasting session on the impressive Giesen machine and then tasting the coffee from that fresh batch!

The machine may be impressive, with a high tech control panel alongside. But high tech or not, it still needs the intervention of a human, a human like Marc, who knows what he’s doing. The coffee picked for roasting was from the Dutra family owned farms in the Matas de Minas area of Brazil.
Blair (left) and Ciaran
It was also the coffee used for our Cold Brew sample. This went down very well indeed and, if you are at the Lit-Fest in Ballymaloe next month and the sun is shining, you may well find it on the coffee menu. Marc’s roastery is in the grounds of Ballymaloe House.

Lots of questions and answers throughout the entertaining evening. All Golden Bean coffees are single estate - he doesn't do blends! - and will be that bit different from year to year. Store your coffee in a cool, dark and dry place.

That gorgeous smell you get when grinding is something of a mixed blessing, as that smell means less flavour in your cup. Many people used electric mills but the blades hammer the beans. Marc reckons the manually operated mill may be best, “good and slow”. And one more tip: don't forget to stir your little cup of Espresso. It will enhance the flavours.
 On mixing other fluids with coffee, Marc is not that keen. “Alcohol kills coffee!” With milk and sugar in it, “it doesn't taste like coffee”. But he did admit to being partial to the odd Espresso Martini!  He did stress that water quality is very important. “We are lucky here in Ballymaloe to have a nice soft water. But in heavy limestone areas, best to use mineral water, a mineral water with a low mineral content.”

Blair guided us through a Colombian tasting, a Finca Camilia from the Santa Barbara Estate owned by the Echeverria family. This company is well known, up there with “the Oscars of the coffee world”. In fact, many of the farmers that Marc buys from are well established and the prices are usually higher than Fair-trade. This was a gem, “peach, toffee, molasses…”

Back to Marc then who told us that your Espresso has “far more antioxidants available” and is processed through your body much quicker, in about 30 minutes. So you can enjoy one after dinner and not be awake late into the night. And, believe it or not, a six month old baby can process Espresso, in proportion, as quickly as an adult!

If using milk, use pasteurised but not homogenised. They use Glenilen (they have a stall near them at the market) and McCarthy’s and, from the bigger names, Clona and Avonmore.


Now the roasting was coming to its climax and Marc, with notes in hand, was taking control as the cracks were heard. Finally, it was done and the now dark beans (they had started off with a light green colour) poured out into the pan before being taken over to our two baristas.

Soon, they were serving us that coffee made from those freshly roasted beans. First up was a filter sample. Excellent! But the class cup was on the way. That Espresso, with gorgeous crema, was my pick of the bunch! A marvellous cup to bring the lovely evening to a close.

So a big thank you to Marc and his assistants for their patience and knowledge and the excellent coffee. The next Wine & Dine event is scheduled for May 27th and will include a visit to Cashel Blue and a farm tour, wine tasting and dinner at Ballinwillin House. Members are requested to keep an eye on emails for updates. If you’d like to join the fun, then send an email to mwdcircle@gmail.com.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cork Coffee Weekend. Cuppa Joe’s On The Rise

Cork Coffee Weekend
Cuppa Joe’s On The Rise
Jamie and multi-tasking Theresa
 Cloud Picker's Theresa is a coffee geek. “The more gadgets the better,” she enthused as she welcomed us to their demonstration at Ali’s Kitchen, part of the Cork Coffee Weekend.

The Dublin firm was established in 2013 by Frank Kavanagh & Peter Sztal. “Having worked in graphic design and corporate banking respectively, we took the leap and opened up our own coffee roastery. The name Cloud Picker came from our trip to Northern Thailand where we visited a coffee farm in the Doi Chaang area on the Thai / Burma border and where we went up through the clouds to see the coffee pickers!”

Cloud Picker is Dublin City’s first micro coffee roastery. We hand roast to order on the esteemed Giesen roaster. Borne from passion, curiosity and the quest to create a unique coffee product for the Irish market. While we roast on Sheriff Street, our café is in Science Gallery on Pearse Street. Feel free to pop in and say hello and grab a coffee. As well as the Science Gallery Café we also wholesale to cafés and restaurants around the city and nationwide. Ali’s Kitchen is their first outlet in Cork.


And yes, they know their farmers, have visited the places where their beans come from. Read more here.

Back now to Ali's Kitchen. While colleague Jamie was setting up his roaster in a corner of Ali’s, Theresa was making us cups galore on her V60. Among the samples handed out were a top end Veracruz from Columbia and her own Kenyan favourite. Thirty grammes of coffee with 500 mls of water was her recommended recipe and that should take two and a half to three minutes.
Jamie
“Buy the beans as fresh as you can and of course buy your own grinder”. She got lots of backing in the audience for that, no shortage of confirmed coffee drinkers here, many of whom seem to love the ritual, particularly on Saturday mornings!.

Now the attention switched to Jamie who compared the roasting process to “baking bread” - Ali was all ears at this point!  “There are different ways of processing coffee on the farms and there are many different varieties of bean”. We were moving from the bakery comparisons (despite the aromas coming from the roaster) to wine, even potato, comparisons.

Meanwhile beans of various types were handed around, some pre-roasting, and later we saw and smelt the roasted ones. The little roaster is one that Cloud Picker use themselves to evaluate the samples they get but it follows the same principles as the big ones! “The first crack comes about three quarters way through the roasting.” And yes indeed we began to hear the pops at about that time. “You need good temperature controls on your roaster”, said Jamie as he had to manage this model manually. But it all worked out well.
Just like with other grown produce, it is important to have a seasonal buying policy. “It pays off hugely,” he said. But there is some flexibility in the market as different producing countries have different harvest times. “Now, for instance, is the time to buy from East Africa.”

Jamie was enthusiastic about the rise in the interest of good coffee: “The standard is up immensely over the last ten years.” He got a lot of agreement from the group in Ali’s, most of whom were on their way to another coffee venue as part of the three day event.

Unit 5, Castleforbes Business Park,
Sheriff Street, 
Dublin 1, DO1 F8C2, Ireland.

Call: +353 1 697 8170
Accounts: +353 1 855 7700
Skype: cloudpickercoffee
Opening Hours: 8am-4.30pm Monday-Friday 

(Roastery visits by appointment only)

Ali’s Kitchen
Rory Gallagher Place
Paul Street, Cork
Open Tuesday to Saturday 9.00-17.00
Will be open Mondays soon, and looking to do Friday & Saturday evening menu!
021 2390680

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week
Badger & Dodo Columbian Coffee


No shortage of good coffees in the Cork area these days and this is the one I'm enjoying currently. It is from Columbia, San Pablo #1 Estate, and is Taste of the Week. Badger & Dodo roast this in Fermoy and I bought mine in Bradley's, North Main Street. A little bit of sweetness is evident here but it is really well balanced and a very pleasant coffee indeed.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Single Origin Coffees. East Timor - Assui Craik and Mexico - Finca Muxbal

Single Origin Coffees


East Timor - Assui Craik

Mexico - Finca Muxbal

Coffee cherries on the tree.
Each cherry produces 1, 2, even 3 (rarely) beans.
I’ve been sipping some really great coffee the past few days, thanks to Hancock and Abberton    who recently introduced me to their Brands of Distinction line. The two above are each a limited Edition Coffee and also a Single Origin speciality. Many people now wonder if the coffee they drink is ethically traded and you may check the providence of these gems here. Briefly, the Mexican is produced by a son and mother team while the East Timor coffee comes via a 16 strong farmers group.

The coffee industry in East Timor was largely destroyed during the turn of the century invasion by Indonesian militias that many of you may remember. It is still though a “major export commodity and provides a substantial income for a quarter of the population”.

Mexico is the 5th largest coffee producer in the world. Chiapas is the largest coffee producing state and it is from here that these incredible Muxbal beans originate. The word means “surrounded by clouds”, rather appropriate considering the farm, managed by mother and son duo Maeggi Rodriguez and Jorge Gallardo, is at around 1600 metres above sea level, more or less the same height as its counterpart in East Timor.

East Timor is much further south than Mexico and this leads to a difference in the harvest season. The Mexicans harvest during December to March while the farmers in East Timor do so in July to September.
Coffee tasting specialists have rated both coffees very highly and rightly so. So, how would a non specialist amateur like myself find them? Can honestly say that I though both were excellent, though I did have the slightest of preferences for the Mexican cuppa.

This is a medium roast with a superb creamy feel on the palate and a clean almost dry finish. Traces too of sweetness, honey (they say) and indeed they also mention peaches with the creaminess. In any event, it all adds up to great few minutes in the morning.

And I was very pleased too with the Assui Craik (the coffee is named after the local village). This has a lighter roast with quite a complex fruity palate (stewed plums and blackberries are suggested) and then the finish is sweet, hints of chocolate present.  That bit different from the Mexican but another lovely cup of a morning (which is when I drink most of my coffee).

If you would like to try these, or other similar coffees yourself, Hancock & Abberton, based on the Naas Road in Dublin, have a subscription service. You can sign up for three months but the savings are more if you sign for twelve. Check out the various packages here. Remember that these batch runs are limited and will sell out. Each coffee will be accompanied by the provenance, tasting notes and blend profile.





Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Taste of the Week. A cup of joe.

Taste of the Week. A Cup of Joe.
We all love a winner!
Sitio do Rochedo Yellow Bourbon Coffee Lot #22.


Taste of the Week comes from Brazil and this cup of joe has more power and finesse than Jo and Fred, their misfiring World Cup strikers.


While the forwards could well prove me wrong by the end of the tournament, the coffee, the latest offering from the Robert Roberts Connoisseur Club, is already a champion. The Rochedo was an award winner in the Brazil Cup of Excellence 2013, the most prestigious award given to a fine quality coffee.


The Cup of Excellence is “unmatched anywhere for the level of scrutiny”. Over three weeks, thousands of cups are evaluated and only an amazing coffee, such as this, comes out on top. And it is a gem, one that ambushes the morning routine, makes you stop and linger with your cuppa.

Robert Roberts taster Garath Scully agrees with the judges view and I must say I’m enjoying cup after cup of this medium bodied, well balanced and rounded coffee from the Matas de Minas region. Outstanding. Goals change games, Gilesie repeats. Coffee like this can change your day!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Bean & Gone. Coffee on the Move

Bean & Gone. Coffee on the Move
At this month's Pride of Ireland Awards: John (l), John Paul and
Gretta Clifford of Bean & Gone.

Met up with the Clifford family behind Bean & Gone at the recent Pride of Ireland Awards in Ballina (Co. Tipperary) where the Cork based mobile coffee company won an award for  “outstanding quality, price and customer service”.

Surprised that I hadn't met this father (John) and son (John Paul) team before as they turn up everywhere that there’s a need for a cuppa. Mostly you'll find them at farmers markets, mainly in Cork.

Not alone are they valued by the customers but the stall holders just love to see them coming. Once, just once, they didn't make it to the Fermoy market and this is what one stall holder wrote: “There was a week, not so long ago, that he couldn't make it. We were bereft.”




Good morning Columbia. ¿Cómo está?

It is not just any old coffee that they do. They do excellent coffee. John Paul: “Primarily we provide a range of Italian coffee to suit all tastes, including espresso, cappuccino, mocha and latte amongst others. The sourcing of our coffee is very important, and where possible our products are ethically sourced, supporting the coffee farmers who supply us with such a high quality product.”

That rich classic Italian Nero now has a flavoursome companion, a full bodied delicious Colombian Supremo Roast that I’ve been happily sampling the past week or so. If you can't make it to the markets or indeed to any of the other events they attend, you’ll find their coffees on sale in the English Market at the Roughty Fruit King.
Watch out too for Signature Roast: “Our signature Roast is a wonderful coffee made up of beans from 5 different regions giving it a very distinctive taste. It’s a truly brilliant coffee, medium bodied with a fruity, acidity and clean finish.”

And it isn't just coffee either. They also do hot chocolates, soft drinks and teas. And some rather special teas at that. You can get a spiced Chai Latte, an aromatic blend of tea, milk and spices. Maybe you'd prefer the Vanilla Chai Latte, a fragrant blend of sweetened tea, milk and creamy vanilla. They are both 99% caffeine free. Well worth a try if you like your teas sweet.

The Chai range of teas is proving popular and available at Cafe Ninni's in Carrigaline and at their regular markets and events, events that include the likes of agricultural shows and the annual Ballydehob Jazz festival. They also do weddings and corporate events. And John Paul tells me they also supply their coffee and other drinks products, chai lattes etc, to businesses, “so we're available for that also”.

Bean & Gone contact details:
Phone: 087-2744070
E-mail: Beanandgonecork@gmail.com




Thursday, January 30, 2014

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week
Yesterday, about ten, I was routinely sipping my cup of coffee, enjoying the sunshine coming in the south facing window when, all of a sudden, I realised I had something special in my mouth, a really good coffee. Not that I was too surprised, as this splendid Colombian, my Taste of the Week, was the opening edition from the 2014 Robert Roberts Connoisseur Club.

What make its special is that it is what they term a "microlot" coffee, one that comes from a specific area in a single coffee farm, Finca Laguna, owned by Dona Dita. Dona named this "Musicas" and, for almost 30 years, only the locals knew of it.

Garath Scully, buyer and master blender at Robert Roberts, is thrilled with this one: "  its balance and flavour and acidity..its ever so mild spice and nut background taste. The subdued yet sublime acidity really tops it off." No wonder I woke from my day dreaming.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Strawberry Field


The Strawberry Field
Sneem

On the road from Sneem (Co. Kerry) to Moll’s Gap, there is a place called A Strawberry Field  where you will find Pancake Cottage, which is open all year round. The views from the garden are splendid but not so last Saturday as the rain was coming and going.
Warm inside Pancake Cottage

We had earlier called to Sneem for a quick walk around, having a look at only some the many sculptures in the little town and also at the river as it rushed under the bridge. Then we took that rising road and enjoyed some decent views, despite the cloud kissing the mountain tops.
The Garden

The Strawberry Field is nearer Moll’s Gap than Sneem and is on the left hand side. We just had time for a cup of coffee (Illy) and never got to the pancakes. And that may be just as well as we’d have definitely missed our appointment in Killarney.
Pancake Cottage

The selection of toppings just goes on and on, sweet and savoury and also a kids menu. Our friend in Killarney told us she stopped there once for one and ended up eating a series, her ultimate destination never reached. It is that kind of place.
The Lakes

There is some home-baking here also, including scones and a traditional Dutch apple pie, good teas and coffees and soft drinks, including water from their own well, soup also. In addition, there is a side room that contains a little craft shop, with photos, paintings and craft products for sale.

But we resisted, promising ourselves we’d call again, and headed on to Moll’s Gap and eventually to our meeting in Killarney and a lovely lunch in Treyvaud’s. Not a bad half-day’s work!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I like the cha cha cha

I like the cha cha cha

They like to cha cha cha, they like to cha cha cha 
Everybody likes to cha cha cha

I used to love that old Sam Cooke song and now I got another Cha Cha Cha in my life. For the past few days I’ve been sampling three Cha green teas that I bought from Fixx Coffee  in Dublin. 




Cha Very Berry Tea received the accolade of a Gold Star in the Great Taste Awards 2012. They are handpicked and sourced from single estates at the foothills of the Himalayas. “Our Cha Teas are organic and certified by the EU Regulatory Authorities”.

Opened up the packet and picked the Golden Mango, with naturally extracted flavours of Mango and Vanilla, for the first tasting. The aromas were absolutely fantastic. But would they be too much for the flavours. No. Sure, I still savoured the smells but also loved the flavours. Wow. What a winner! A delicious flavour enjoyed either hot or cold, I’m told, but I haven’t tried it cold yet.

Then on to the Spring Mint. The aromas here were unmistakably those of spearmint, really cool and clean. A beautiful cup, fragrant and cooling. Must make sure I have some in for the summer.

The teabags are made from non chemical bleached filter paper and each tin contains 25 x 1.5g teabags (Tin Size 37.5g).

Finally, it was the turn of the Pure Green. Pure tea, boy, supple and dry, unhindered by any fancy flavours yet doing the job in a firm yet calm and relaxing manner. That it is full of antioxidants helps!

Cha Teas perform best when brewed for 2-3 minutes at 90C and served in a 250-300ml cup. Keep an eye on your cuppa – use a timer! You don’t want to spoil a good thing.

The teas were part of an offer on the Fixx Coffee site and naturally there was also some coffee on offer. I tried their Cubita Roasted Beans. They said this “is an exquisite coffee that has strong earthy tones, with a hint of smokiness and a caramel finish, it is the most popular brand of coffee in Cuba”.  Must say I agree one hundred per cent with the tasting notes here. A classic in a cup!

So now I move from Cha Cha Cha to Bolero: the music beating insistently out in the sun, load conversastions, a cup of cubita on the table and an eye out for the señoritas. Only an eye though as  mi señora, who also loves the cubita, is keeping an eye on me!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

€10,000 Christmas gift at Examiner Coffee Morning

Ten thousand euro donation highlight of
Irish Examiner Christmas Coffee Morning
Clockwise from top left: Catriona Anderson, Michelle Darmody (Examiner),
Darina Allen, UCC singers, dancing shoes!,  Irish Examiner editor
Tim Vaughan, cheque in hand, announces €10000 donation.


Irish Examiner editor Tim Vaughan admitted he wasn’t too happy with his public speaking role at the start of yesterday's festive coffee morning at the paper’s HQ. But he had no bother in rushing back to centre stage halfway through to announce that he had just been handed a €10,000 donation for St Vincent de Paul.

That really was the icing on the cake (forgive the pun) on a very enjoyable morning. And yes there was no shortage of cake. The reception area had been magically transformed into a “cafe” by Mary Terry and her crew and we were all enjoying a drink and a cake as the UCC Choir got the morning, arranged in aid of St Vincent de Paul, off on the right note.

The Examiner’s Michelle Darmody and Darina Allen were the cake experts to speak and they freely gave some terrific advice on Christmas cooking in general and on cakes in particular. Darina also sounded a serious note, reminding us to think of the charities after Christmas as well.

The main event though was the announcement of the Irish Examiner Christmas Cake competition. Finally, the tension was broken for the 12 finalists when Cobh's Catriona Anderson was named as the overall winner.

So well done to Catriona and to the other brave contestants, to the Examiner staff who put on a great show (and organised many prizes for the raffle) and to that anonymous donor! Happy Christmas everyone.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Food and Drink Spotting


Food and Drink Spotting
Kate Lawlor's Spiced Beef, Horseradish Croquette

Get Cooking

Well done to Margaret Smith and Goodall’s on publishing A Modern Irish Cookbook in double quick time. Well illustrated and uncluttered, it is packed with recipes provided by dozens of bloggers and it neatly divided into sections: Light Bites, Brunch, Dinner, Bread and Sweet Things.

Lots of us don’t like Raw Oysters but have you ever tried them grilled. Zack has just the recipe for you: Grilled Oysters with a Bacon and Blue Cheese Crumb. Many eye catching pics in the book and one features Potato Cakes with Smoked Salmon and Hollandaise by Donna.

Lots and lots of Dinner recipes including Potato and Scallion Strudel with Local Pork and Apple Velouté by Fritz, the chef proprietor of County Down’s Strudel Bistro. From Kildare’s Kenny’s Kitchen comes a tasty looking Sausages with Lentils.

Some really promising looking bread recipes including the famous one by Avril of Rosscarbery Recipes titled: Cheddar, Stout and Black Pudding Bread.

Hard to resist the Sweet Things, especially the Plum, Cardamom and Almond Cake by JensKitchen and the Beetroot and Orange Blossom Fudge by Kate from Fenn’s Quay, known as FQChefess on Twitter.

I even got roped in – hard to say no to Margaret! You’ll find my Marinated Mushroom Salad on Page 9. The trick here is to skip the marination, entirely possible if you live in Cork. Just go to your local market and buy a jar of the delicious marinated mushrooms by Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms, remove the top and pour them out onto your salad. Top class and no bother at all!

But do take a look at the book. Check it out on the top right corner of the screen and, remember, that proceeds go to two charities, including Cork’s own Penny Dinners!

Time for Port

I’m partial to a glass of Port at any time of year but know that many prefer it during the winter season and particularly at Christmas time. Some of you will have a favourite but, if not and even if you have, why not try the Taylor’s First Estate Reserve available at €11.99 from Bradley’s in North Main Street. It comes in a full bodied traditional classic style and is an excellent introduction to the Taylor’s style.

It is blended from young red wines and then mellowed for several years in oak casks and is a lovely after meal drink. Use it on its own or as a match with a salty cheese. The Taylor Port website is a very enjoyable one, with lots of information laid out in a simple clear way – see the entertaining section on Port traditions, for example.

Panama Joe

My current coffee is the most recent offering from the Robert Roberts’ Club and is a relative rarity in that it comes from Panama.

Gareth Scully says that coffees from Panama are few and far between and are highly sought after in the US and Germany. “Rancho Gotta Coffee Estate has been producing specialty coffee since 1985 and now produces solely Arabica coffee. The harvest is all done by hand. Rancho Gotta Coffee was one of the few coffees used at the 2011 World Coffee Tasters Championship in the Netherlands. I roasted this one to a medium level which is always important to make sure all the flavours in a coffee like this come through.”

“The medium roast compliments all the unique flavours, with strawberry, peach and dark chocolate notes. Among other things, are hints of blueberries as it cools. An incredible body to this coffee with a butterly feel to it too. Poetic license I know, but another great example of what specialty coffee should taste like….. Enjoy!”


Shorts
David Hohnen, who visited Ballymaloe last month,tells us about his Margaret River Porkers

Christmas offers from Amandine Confectionery 

Blair’s Inn nominated for Good Food Ireland Award!