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

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Cafe Paradiso. Back to the Garden.


Cafe Paradiso. Back to the Garden

Eden may have been lost with a single bite of forbidden fruit but the garden can always be regained, at least in the Cork region, with a visit to Cafe Paradiso. No fruit, no vegetable forbidden here! Every meal in the city centre restaurant reinforces what one of my friends, who travels widely in the hospitality industry, told me a few years back: "It is not alone the best vegetarian restaurant in Ireland, it is probably the best restaurant in Ireland".

And what is perhaps not generally known, except to the regulars of course, is that Paradiso has a superb wine list. The lower end and the slow-moving higher end have been chopped from the list and what remains is packed with quality, great choices, between approximately thirty and forty five euro a bottle.

We were part of a seven person group the other night so the wines were shared, along with many a good laugh. Good advice on the wine list is also available and so we started with the Höpler Grüner Veltliner 2014, 12.5% Burgenland, Austria and finished with the Friedrich Becker Spatburgunder Pinot Noir 2011, 13.5%, Pfalz, Germany.
Aubergine parcels....
Others we could have had included the Susana Balbo ’Crios’ Malbec 2013, 14%, Mendoza, Argentina and the Alvaro Palacios La Montesa Rioja 2012 in the reds while among the whites that caught my eye were Wittmann Riesling Trocken 2012, 12% Rheinhessen, Germany and the Dos Victorias ‘Jose Pariente’ Verdejo 2013, 13%, Rueda. But it is easy to get a good one here as the list is really superb. If you’re not sure, just ask your server! By the way, all the wines are available by the glass, by 250ml and 500ml carafe and by the bottle.

Back to the food then and I'm not going to bore you with all the details. We picked the three course option here and you have lots of choice for forty euro. Two courses will set you back thirty three euro.

I had been toying with going for the truffled sunchoke soup with hazelnut gougere and buttered shiitake from a list of six starters (all tempting) but settled instead on the Macroom Buffalo Mozzarella with roasted carrots, pickled fennel, chermoula, preserved lemon and pistachio dukka. Amazing flavours and textures on this plate and the roast carrots came in for compliments all around the table.
Choc dessert...

CL meanwhile was delighted with her choice: roast beetroot, braised scorzonera and Knockalara sheep’s cheese with watercress, orange pickle and ras-el-hanout crumb. Colour, flavour, texture all combined, the dish showing that beetroot goes as well with sheep’s as goat’s. Great stuff indeed.

There were also six choices of mains but, amazingly, the majority of our group went for the roast aubergine parcels of cavolo nero and coolea cheese with miso gravy, beluga lentils,

pumpkin gnocchi and a green pepper and caramelised walnut salsa. Aubergine is one of my favourite vegetables in any restaurant but this was vegetable heaven, every little bit, the gravy, the lentils. Even CL polished off the gnocchi, usually left on the side! “These were good ones”, I was told.

And you must try the sides as they are superb as well. They do include sprouts but not like you've known them. Here they are served with tomato, chilli and ginger and well worth the fiver as are the Paradiso chips with truffled aioli.

Time then, and desire too, for dessert. Lots of temptation but I made up my mind early on the Orange and Date Bread and Butter Pudding and its Rum Custard. Oh la la! And other desserts enjoyed at the table included a Dark chocolate mousse with gingered pear and salted caramel popcorn and also Vanilla pod ice cream with brutti ma buoni, espresso and a shot of frangelico. A sweet end to a terrific meal and service was flawless throughout. Very Highly Recommended.


More desserts, including popular Orange and Date pudding
The menu here is based largely on local and seasonal produce.  Gortnanain Farm is the primary source of veg (and honey). All cheeses (which include Coolea and Macroom) are Irish except for Feta and Halloumi. Mushrooms are Ballyhoura or foraged. More details on the restaurant, founded 23 years ago, here.

Cafe Paradiso
16 Lancaster Quay
Cork
(021) 427 7939
Opening Hours: Dinner Monday – Saturday, 5.30 – 10.00pm



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Neven’s Cookery School. Step by Step with the Maestro

Neven’s Cookery School
Step by Step with the Maestro
One Happy Chef!
It might sound strange but Neven Maguire reminds me of Christy Ring. At least in his approach to his cookery school students. He takes it step by step, building confidence from the start and lots of discreet back-up along the way.

I remember “Ringy”, back in the day, teaching a few of us to take a sideline cut. He just didn't throw the sliotar down and order you to strike. No, he found a high sod and placed it there and, if you made a half decent connection, you hit a good sideline ball. “Hey, I can do it!” After that confidence boost, the rest came with practice.

Christy displayed the technique and dispensed good advice as did Neven in MacNean House last Saturday.

Presentation is important but getting the flavours right is even more so.

That was an early nugget from Ireland's favourite chef during our one day Christmas Cookery Course with him, in his own Cookery School in Blacklion (County Cavan). It used to be a hairdressers but there’s a different kind of style now on display here, right next door to Neven's restaurant MacNean House.
Prawn starter

The school has been open for twelve months. “It has been a great year,” said Neven. “A great year for me and a great year for my team. We are booked up every week from now until next June. But the Chef’s Table, a new venture of ours, is not too well known yet and that is not booked up.” The Chef’s Table (for 12 to 20 people) is situated here in the school and you’ll have Neven and his chefs cooking in front of you and serving you as well.

Neven always has great praise for his staff and many of them have been with him for years. His right hand people in the school are Olivia and Clare. “They keep it immaculate.”  Looking back at the year, Neven said it was a great one for him personally as he was voted Best Chef in Ireland and his new book Fast was voted best cookbook in Ireland.
As he took the varied group of students through the course, he was free with advice. He “ordered” everyone to buy a “plastic” wooden spoon, revealed that local Asian markets are “best for spices” and said that “broken walnuts are half the price of whole nuts”.  Looking for vanilla, then try Vanilla Bazaar. For Thai products look up Thai Gold in Wexford.

But Christmas Made Easy was mostly about the cooking. Everything from Mulled Wine to the Turkey was covered. The full title of the turkey lesson was: Buttermilk Brined Roast Butterfly of Turkey with Orange and Rosemary.

Cheese board

We got to make a Citrus Harissa Butter for the Turkey Crown. You can get the Harissa paste in most areas nowadays but if not available try sun-dried tomato paste instead. The Butter can also be used on grilled steak, pork chop, roast chicken and grilled fish (like hake).

We did a Pine Nut, Cranberry and Apricot Stuffing. By the way, dried cranberries are “very good in soda bread”. The other big item during the busy morning was the ham. Neven and his team were taking care of the ham itself but we got to do the Glaze and the Pineapple Salsa. Again, the glaze can also be used with Pork Chops while the Salsa goes well with grilled prawns.
Speaking of prawns, we got to make our own starter for lunch, a Prawn Cocktail with the traditional Marie Rose Sauce. To tell the truth most of it was done for us but we certainly picked up tips and hints galore. Besides, it was quite a nice starter.


But the Turkey and Ham were just fantastic, so full of flavour and the turkey so moist. Lunch was followed by a Wine and Cheese Tasting conducted by Blaithin McCabe who has been here since 2007. 

We started with La Contesse Spumante Prosecco and then a lightly oaked Potel Aviron Macon Villages 2011. The red was a Cotes du Rhone by Domaine Coste Chaude (2011) and then we enjoyed the Quinta do Noval 10 Year Old Tawny Port before sipping a MacNean Mulled Wine.

Perhaps the best match of the tasting for me was the Port and Cashel Blue cheese, made from cows milk. Also on the plate were Corleggy, a hard goats cheese from Cavan, Tipperary’s Cooleeney made from raw cows milk and Coolea (Cork) made from fresh cow milk.

Following an interesting tour of the kitchen, there were more lessons, including Chestnut, Wild Mushroom and Bacon Soup with Smoked Duck, Mulled Fruit Truffle, a Fruit Cocktail and Mulled Wine. Sadly though we had to hit the road earlier than most and missed the final session! Will have to go again in the future.



Monday, July 7, 2014

International Wine and Food Society On Tour

International Wine and Food Society On Tour
Joined fellow members of the Munster Branch of the IWFS on tour last Friday and we headed west for a trip that included two cheese stops, one brewery call and a terrific meal in Heather, the new Gap of Dunloe restaurant.
Did someone say cheese?

Remarkable Toons Bridge Dairy
First port of call was to the Toons Bridge Dairy near Macroom. Here we heard how a pub conversation, between Toby Simmonds of the Real Olive Company and farmer Johnny Lynch, led to the acquisition of a herd of Water Buffalo. A few years later, they are gradually getting the herd numbers up to an amount that will enable them manage an even supply of the remarkable cheeses, including the freshest Mozzarella you’ll ever taste, Halloumi, Ricotta and, wait for it, Buffalo Blue.

We had a gorgeous caprese salad here, followed by a plateful of cheese and charcuterie and there was even dessert. Must say I love the organisers’ idea of a “light lunch”. A tour of the dairy followed and then farmer Johnny Lynch took us to see the herd. The big placid animals wowed the visitors but Johnny kept the best 'til last and there were uncountable oohs and aahs as the "little" calves, one just four days old, were revealed in their stalls.

Some of the IWFS group
Coolea wheels in brine
 Coolea Country

Soon we were even deeper into the countryside as the next stop was at Coolea Cheese up in the hills above Ballyvourney. Here our host was Dicky Willems, who told us how, in the late 70s, his parents moved to Ireland and eventually to Coolea. Dicky, then a ten year old, joined in with the local community and was soon fluent in English and Irish, Irish that has not gone rusty as the kids now keep him up to date.

The cheese venture came about because the Willems couldn't find any cheese here other than cheddar and his  mother started on a very small family scale with a little pot. But now Coolea is a big name and much of the output is sold at the famous Neal's Yard in London while in Ireland Sheridan’s are the major customer.

The cheese was to be called Milleens after the local townland but that was knocked on the head as the Steeles, further west on the Beara peninsula and living in a townland of the same name, had just started making a cheese called Milleens. And so the Coolea brand was born.

It is a lovely cheese and we enjoyed the tasting. I preferred the 18 month mature one but quite a few loved the creamier seven month version.


Tasting time!
Brewer Gordon turns tour guide.
The saint, the deer, and a brand new beer

St Gobnait is the local saint in Ballyvourney and, like St Vincent in wine, may yet become the patron saint of craft brewers. Certainly, the infant brewery set up by Don and Gordon, has hopes of help from on high and their name, the Nine White Deer, is based on a Gobnait story which had her traipsing around Ireland to find a place with nine white deer and, you've guessed it, that place was Ballyvourney, long a land of song and legend.

Legends aside, the new brewery is very very impressive, loads of space and state of the art equipment, including a streamlined efficient brewing line and also an on site bottling and labeling facility.

Already, their gorgeous ale is gaining fans locally and gained a few more on Friday when the visitors tasted Stag Ban. We’ll be on the lookout for the bottles further afield and also for their other beers in the future; a stout (with oatmeal from Macroom Mills) is among those planned. Soon, they’ll have a shop at the brewery, another excuse to stop on the Cork-Killarney Road. Maybe, like Gobnait, you’ll linger a while.


Don tells the 9 White Deer story
Smoked mackerel starter in Heather
 Wined and Dined in Heather at The Gap

Denis Pio and his wife Ailish welcomed us to Heather, the new restaurant at Moriarty’s in the Gap of Dunloe. The chefs had put together an exciting tasting menu to “show off the best of our seasonal and local produce” and Donie O’Brien of Eno Wines had carefully selected wines to match.

I was at Heather a few weeks back and was delighted with the visit and food as you can here. They don’t normally do evening meals but Friday’s special showed that the Heather team is more than capable. Already, they have added a Sunday brunch to their options and customers can expect evening specials from time to time. And all will be based on terrific local produce coming from producers in both Kerry and Cork and indeed from their own polytunnel.

I don't want to bother you with too much detail of the meal but can genuinely say that it was top class from start to finish and well done too to Donie O’Brien for his choice of wines. All the dishes were superb. The hake was class but perhaps my favourite was the rather unusual lamb dish, the unusual cut and the yoghurt marinade a delight.

The Menu
Quinlan’s Smoked Mackerel with homemade Rhubarb chutney and Brown Soda Bread.
Leitz Riesling.
Pan Fried Atlantic Hake with Fennel, Roasted peppers and Salsa Verde.
Huber Gruner Veltliner.
Ring of Kerry Lamb steak marinated with Valentia Dairy Yoghurt and served with homemade Wild Sorrel tabbouleh
Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva.
Gubbeen Charcuterie and Knockatee Cheese platter
Terra Noble Carmenere Gran Reserva
Classic Lemon Tart served with fresh Farranfore strawberries
Santa Sofia Recioto della Valpolicella Classico 2007.


Hake at Heather

The Wine and Food Society are planning their next outing and if you would like to become a member then contact Aoife (treasurer) mccanaoife@gmail.com. Other officers are Richie Scott (assistant treasurer), Beverley Matthews (secretary) and Greg Canty (chairman).


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dinner Supreme at Blarney's Square Table

Dinner Supreme at Blarney's Square Table
Smoked salmon
 Just a couple of weeks back, I blogged about a fabulous lunch at The Square Table, the new restaurant in Blarney. Said I couldn't wait to go back for dinner. Made It last Friday evening and it was absolutely superb.

The menu may not be extensive - it is not a big restaurant - but the quality is outstanding. Martina Cronin is the chef here and she has worked - and obviously learned - in some high class places, such as Chapter One and The Residence on Stephen's Green.


Foie Gras
That lovely Mushroom and Wild Garlic Soup was again on the menu but this time I went for the Tom Durcan Carpaccio of Spiced Beef served with cured Foie Gras, apple puree and hazelnuts. This was incredible. The Foie Gras was delicious, the whole enhanced no end by a lovely walnut bread on the side.

Our other starter was also top notch. This was the eye catching Old Mill House Smoked Salmon and it was served with avocado puree, ruby grapefruit and Goatsbridge Trout Caviar, another delicious delight.
Hake
The bar was set high and it stayed well up there as the mains came on. I was sorely tempted by both the Roast Monkfish, with cocoa bean puree, Gubbeen chorizo, coriander and confit tomato and by the  Michael Twomey Aged Angus 11 oz rib eye steak served with chips, onions rings and Bearnaise.

In the end though, I picked the East Ferry Free Range chicken, served with celeriac, ham and Coolea Aged Cheddar. The celeriac, ham and cheese was served as a gratin in a separate bowl and was out of the world. What fantastic flavours to match a gorgeous chicken and gravy! A five star dish for sure. CL picked another cracker: Pan-fried Hake with Ballyhoura Mushrooms, wild garlic and orzo.
Monkfish
They have a very tempting short list of desserts as well and we shared Martina’s terrific version of Tarte Tatin, served with butterscotch and that luscious Boulabán Farm ice-cream from County Tipperary.

The Square Table is open all day from 9.30am but currently serves dinner on just three nights, Thursday to Saturday. Sunday lunch is also available and opening times may be extended as sisters Martina and Tricia (front of house) find their feet. Phone number is 4382825 (021).

Tarte Tatin



Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Square Table - Great Addition to Blarney

The Square Table - Great Addition to Blarney


The menu at The Square Table, the recently opened restaurant in the centre of Blarney, is a source of immediate encouragement. Trusted producers such as Ballyhoura Mushrooms, Tom Durcan Meats and Ardsallagh Cheese are among those listed. Anyone using that kind of produce knows what they are about, I thought to myself, and soon enough I have delightful confirmation on my table, a square one!

Indeed, they are all square and by quarter-past one last Friday they were all full, not that that was the case earlier in the week. But, as the season starts in earnest, you might well want to book ahead for either dinner or lunch in this highly recommended spot, just opposite the village butcher Osborne.

We start with a Mushroom Soup (€4.75). But a mushroom soup with a difference: mushroom and wild garlic. This is a terrific combination, with the garlic adding a lovely flavour without overwhelming that of the mushrooms. We were off to a great start and quite a substantial one

There are a few tempting sandwiches on the menu, including Ardsallagh Goats Cheese with olive and sundried tomato chutney (€7.00), and I pick the Tom Durcan Spiced Beef with Coolea Aged Cheese and Beetroot. I am well fed for €7.50, happily crunching my way through a well balanced mix of textures and flavours.

Other tempting items on the menu included: Crispy egg, bacon, and Ballyhoura Mushrooms with bearnaise (€7.50) and a Ham Hock Pie with Spring Cabbage (€11.95). CL’s choice is Pan-fried Hake with Pea Puree and Smoked Bacon (€13.00), another delightful dish, well cooked and well presented.

Service is prompt and friendly here and prices are quite good. Our two course lunch cost a total of 30 euro. A great addition to Blarney and we wish Tricia and Martina all the best on their new venture at 5 The Square.