Showing posts with label Cork. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cork. Show all posts

Monday, April 16, 2018

Mise en place saves your ass. Chatting with Oyster Tavern Head Chef Kate Lawlor


Mise en place saves your ass 
Chatting with Oyster Tavern Head Chef Kate Lawlor
Kate in her Fenn's Quay days with John and Sally McKenna (left). See Kate
on RTE 1 on April 18th (8.30pm) in Healthy Appetite

Kate Lawlor, for so long associated with Fenn’s Quay, is now enjoying her Head Chef role at The Oyster Tavern in Cork city centre. And the team there, quite a young one, have a great chance to learn from one of the hardest working chefs around but one who enjoys “teaching others the joy of cooking, taking raw ingredients and making wonderful dishes.  I also enjoy heading to the English Market and meeting suppliers”. 

Her aim now is make the Oyster and its food offering better known among the public. We caught up with Kate after a lovely meal in the Oyster and enjoyed this chat.



I know you were sad to leave Fenn’s Quay. But you’re still on familiar ground and things have worked out well?
 After a little break after closing Fenn’s, it felt right to take on the role in the Oyster with its history and of course its location on Market Lane into the English Market. It’s taken me a few months to settle into new surroundings but, with the support of Bob (general manager) Dee (restaurant manager ) and Chris Curtin (assistant head chef)  and team, menus are coming together nicely. 

What direction is cooking here at The Oyster taking? What can we expect in the near future?
It’s very much a simple approach to good quality produce sourced within the English Market with a few Fenn’s classics popping up such as the flourless chocolate pudding  and the warm chicken salad on the lunch. There is a big emphasis on steaks and fish which will continue to evolve with the seasons. 

How did you start in the business? Was there a good cook at home or other family inspiration?
 Having taken up Home Ec in Secondary School my first summer job was in a cafe kitchen aged 16. I really enjoyed it, the cooking, the creating, so it was suggested I apply to what was then Cert in Cork Institute of Technology and the rest you could say is history. In later years I returned to complete a degree in Culinary Arts. 

Do you shout in the kitchen?
I tend not to. I learnt early on I didn’t like being shouted at and therefore I shouldn’t shout at someone, it only makes the situation worse. 

The importance of prepping. Do you ever have enough time in the kitchen?  
Some days are easier than others. There is  a great saying “mise en place saves your ass “ and it’s true. Still, you do have days when you feel you’re never on top of it but, with a great team behind you, you get there in the end.

Sourcing and provenance is important to you?
For me it is. It may cost a bit more but it’s worth it as I like to know the person behind the products and learn about how it’s made 

Have you ever come up with a dish by accident, a fluke?
Specials for me are always a bit of a fluke as always last on the prep list. Recently I cooked some pearl barley with carrots onions and some fennel seeds, added cabbage & prawn & a dash of lemon served with turbot & butternut squash purée. It truly was a dish I was super proud of.  

Meat as back-up, not the main feature in a dish? Will that happen?
Attitudes to food are changing but still our meat sales outweigh the vegetarian at present so I can’t see that happening. 

What non-Irish cuisine do you like most?
At present Japanese. Its clean flavours in the broths and the precision is mesmerising .

What is the best meal you’ve ever had?
Hard to pick out one in particular. Really enjoyed Nathan Outlaw and JP McMahon's collaboration in Aniar, Purnell's in Birmingham , 1826 in Adare. But best in the last 12 months was when I collaborated with Derry Clarke’s menu at the Oyster last November. 

Kate is set to star, along with Donegal's Gary O'Hanlon, in the first episode of a new RTE cooking series called Healthy Appetite, which is all about good food.  Episode one kicks off on RTE1 on Wednesday, April 18th at 8.30pm. 


See A Specials Evening at The Oyster Tavern.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Winemason do Spit in Cork. My focus on Riesling and Portugal


The Winemason do Spit in Cork. 
My focus on Riesling and Portugal

Soizic (Les Gourmandise) with Ben
Last week, one hundred bottles of “wine without make-up” were up for tasting in the River Lee Hotel thanks to the combined efforts of four Dublin wine companies. Spit, as the combination is called, consists of Winemason, Nomad Wine, Vinostito, and Grapecircus and virtually all the wines were organic. And there wasn't a dud among them. In this post, we’ll look at Ben Mason and his Winemason contribution.


Winemason is owned by Barbara Boyle (MW) and Ben and they provide restaurants and independent retailers with original and distinctive wines from Germany, Portugal (a favourite), Austria Spain, France, Italy and South Africa. “We are constantly evolving with the ever-changing wine world and we work to reflect this in the wines we sell.”

Graham was helping Ben in the River Lee and I asked him if there was a wine on the stand that deserved to be better known, one that was maybe under-appreciated at present, and he soon filled me a taster of the Julien Schaal Mountain Vineyards Chardonnay 2016. The winery is in Elgin Ridge, South Africa, the winemaker is “from Alsace” and the wine itself is very pleasantly distinctive. Crisp on the palate with citrusy flavours and minerality, tart on the finish, very engaging indeed.

I had picked a trio of Rieslings and started with one from the Nahe region, the ES Trocken 2016 by Emrich Schonleber. Quite intense on the palate, with a light spiciness and outstanding minerality. My favourite kind of Riesling.
Chardonnay to note
from South Africa

The next Riesling came from the Mosel and was the Zeppelin (Mulheim) 2016 by Max Ferdinand Richter. Apparently this wine was served on the flying Zeppelins. This too is elegant, no shortage of minerality, well balanced, and it is the tropical nature of the fruit flavours that catches your attention.

And, if we were in the skies for the Zeppelin, we now moved up a notch to the Kingdom of Heaven with the JJ Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett 2016, the Himmelreich being the heaven. Here the aromas are a subtle but tempting floral, it is soft and fruity right through to a sustained finalé. Quite a hat trick of Rieslings there!

Ben had a superb selection of reds also but again I focused on a hat trick, all from Portugal, an area where Winemason is strong though Ben has noted that prices are rising there. First up was the Mouchao Dom Rafael Tinto 2015 from Alentejo, a blend of Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Trincadeira. Ripe dark fruits and tannins, a bit of spice too, combine in a rich and complex wine. 
Zeppelin

Next we called to the Lisbon area and tasted the Fossil Tinto 2015 by Vale da Capucha, an organic producer; this a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Syrah. Rich dark fruits, hints of spice, fresh and elegant, and with a long dry finish. Excellent.

Then I enjoyed very much the Niepoort Vertente 2015 from the Douro, enjoyed it as Graham sang its praises: the rich blend (Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional and others), its long dry finish. “And it’s low in alcohol as well,” he said. It’s a gem, elegant and smooth. One to stock up on before those prices rise or even when they do!

Would have loved to have stayed longer and tried more of the Winemason wines, including those from Austria and South Africa, but time to move on up the line! Here’s to the next Spit.


Read about Nomad Wines at Spit here
Read about Vinostito at Spit here 
About  Grapecircus here


Friday, April 13, 2018

Frogs Attack #1. Do It Again. Soon!


Frogs Attack #1. Do It Again. Soon!

They came. They saw. They conquered. They, collectively the Frogs Attack, being two pioneering natural winemakers (Jean Foillard and Thierry Puzelat), a guerrilla chef (Antony Cointre) and a comedian (Sebastien Barrier) and they cornered their willing victims in a packed Latitude 51. 
Cork’s leading wine bar was the ideal venue for the French influenced evening. Beverley and her staff caught the informal spirit of the occasion perfectly and we wined and dined, and laughed a lot too. 

Hard to keep up with Sebastien as he roamed between the two floors. He even wandered outside at one stage, startling the customers by banging on the window and, with his phone, taking photos of the surprised faces. We were wondering was the ebullient funny man in trouble a few minutes later when a couple of cops appeared at the door but nothing to do with Sebastien!

May I introduce Jean Foillard to you, via Le Caveau catalogue: A vigneron like Jean Foillard doesn’t come around too often. Jean Foillard and his wife Agnès started their handkerchief-size domain in Morgon in the 1980’s when the majority of appellation, driven by big negoces, were (and are still) producing industrial wines. Undeterred by their surroundings, Jean and Agnès decided to embark on their own path. They returned to honest vine growing and wine making the way their grandparents did. The vines are grown organically. The same attention is paid in their cellar. There are no additives in the cellar to hide shortcuts in the vineyards because there are no shortcuts in the vineyards. The hand-harvested grapes are fermented using natural yeasts only. 
Cooking done and Le Gros relaxes 

And, quoting from the same source, Thierry Puzelat: Having met and worked with Francois Dutheil (Bandol) and Marcel Lapierre (Morgon), two pioneers of the ‘natural’ wine movement, Thierry decided he too, wanted to make his wines as naturally as possible. Puzelat’s wines are quite unique, they are highly expressive of their terroir, authentic, filled with life and have very strong personality.
Le Caveau borrowed, as we do here, this quote from Jamie Goode: ‘Thierry and Jean-Marie Puzelat—brothers—are natural wine royalty. They are making some of the Loire’s most interesting wines and are at the heart of the natural wine movement.’
Behind the counter: Jules and Beverley

And the wines really are superb. The night’s list: Thierry’s Clos du Tue Boeuf, blanc and rouge, and the three Morgons from Jean, all 2016, including his “Cote du Py” and the “Corcelette”. And to make things even better, they were available at shop (rather than restaurant) prices. A nice touch that!

According to his website, Antony Cointre, aka Le Gros, is not an ordinary chef, he is an enthusiastic cookHe does not have a permanent restaurant because he likes to change atmosphere and to touch lots of different audiences. …. making tasting meals in 10 steps at home for 6 or popular banquets of 650 people or even weddings in unlikely conditions. 

And Le Gros, in the tiny kitchen, came up with some tasty dishes at L’Atitude. They included a Feta and Kumquat starter, then a Monkfish carpaccio with Harissa sauce, three French cheeses with date, and dessert of chocolate and, believe or not, rhubarb.
Sebastien attacks the window!

In between the six courses, Sebastian kept us entertained and joined up with some Irish friends to play some tunes. And all the time, we were sipping and enjoying those natural wines, the real stars of the show!

I’ll finish with a message to the frogs: Please attack us again, soon!



Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Vinostito at Spit Cork! No Motor Bike and Wine Without Make-Up.


Vinostito at Spit Cork!
No Motor Bike. Wine Without Make-Up.

Antonio Lorente may have left his motor bike in Dublin but he and Vinostito partner Rafa Salazar made it to Cork for the Spit Tasting yesterday in the River Lee Hotel. Naturally enough, the company is know for its strong Spanish focus but over the last four years or more have begun to add wines from other countries to their portfolio. We love wine, they say, and good wine knows no borders. Not all Rioja wines, for instance, are contained within the administrative area of La Rioja.

I am surprised to see the Basque Txakoli wine, with its high acidity, on restaurant lists here and asked Antonio if it was a hard sell on the Irish market. “It was, at the start,” he said. “But now it is more accepted, it is very good for vegetable dishes and spicy food.” Would love to see an Irish server pouring it from shoulder hight into a tumbler by his waist as they do in Hondarribia and other Basque towns!

Sometimes, for whatever reason, a good wine doesn't take off in the market. We asked him if he thought any of their whites were under-appreciated. He pointed to the Bodegas Contreras Ruiz Edalo 2017 from Condado de Huelva. The grape variety here is the little known Zalema and the wine is very fresh, light and fruity. Very drinkable indeed. That reminds me I have a nephew living in Huelva - I may well be sending him a request before his next visit home.
Yours truly with Andrew (from Manning's, Ballylickey). Pic by Rafa!

Xarel-lo, used mostly in Cava and “seldom seen as a still wine”, was the next grape to explore, thanks to Cellar Pardas Rupestris 2016. This blend of Xarel-lo, Malvasia de Sidges and red Xarel-lo, is produced biodynamically and, like the Edalo, it is fresh and also excellent.

Had a short list of Vinostito reds to taste but that expanded - I wonder why! First I was interested in the Casa de Passarella A Descoberta, Colheita Tinto 2014. This blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Alfrcheiro, and Jaen, from Portugal’s DÃO, had a vivid colour and aromas, great fruit, lovely balance, long finish, quite a charmer all round.

On to the Douro then and Xisto iLimitado Tinto 2015 by Luis Seabra, another excellent red, this produced from a blend of Touriga Franca, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Malvasia Preta and Dozelinho. No wonder the supermarket go mad when trying to get all that onto the label. This wine from the Douro though is well worth it!



Now for another of the wines without make-up - forget where I read that but its certainly applies to Filipa Pato Tinto 2017 and to many of the wines here, most of them organic or close to it. Full bodied, black fruit, velvety tannins and acidity all in comfortable alignment. Amazing.

I’d have been happy to stop there and move on to another table but then I spotted the familiar netting and read the label: Rafael Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Reserva 2005. I had visited tis bodega in Haro and was hooked; glad to be hooked by this brilliant wine and there were similar comments to the left and to the right of me.

If you ever do get the chance, buy (as many as you can) of the amazing aged whites from their Riojan winery. They also do an aged Rosé but only when the year is good, so the supply is scarce. Antonio told me they had managed to get some but alas they were quickly snapped up!

And still one more irresistible temptation from this area, the 2010 Remelluri Reserva, a Rioja Alavesa blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano. Smooth. Spicy. Superb. We hadn’t worked Rafa much but we had him on camera duty before we said goodbye to Vinostito.

Read about
Nomad Wines at Spit here
Grapecircus here
Winemason here

More on Spit Cork over the next few days. Nomad Wines, The WineMasons and Grapecircus were the other companies involved in the event at The River Lee Hotel.



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.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Fish Wife Hooks A New Fan On A Wet Friday


Fish Wife Hooks A New Fan On A Wet Friday

It’s a wet night in the city and we’re heading home. But what to eat? We don’t need a big meal and we don’t want to cook either. McCurtain Street is looking miserable in the wet but you couldn't be in a better place for takeaway. We looked to our left and there was our solution: The Fish Wife. Minutes later, we were in the car with two cartons full of fish and chips, eager to get started.


As soon as we were home, we started unwrapping. Everything looked well, looked very tempting. We had both ordering the haddock versions (€8.80) of their fish and chips and our individual boxes came with lemon, tartare sauce and mushy peas (really mushy!).  The fish was perfect and perfectly cooked and the batter was super thin - no need to go fishing for the fish! The perfect solution for us on the night.

And you get quite a choice here, even if you stick to the fish and chips. On the night, we could have had Hake, Plaice, Smoked Haddock, Breaded Scampi, and Grilled Swordfish. There are choices of sauces, sides, different types of chips, a list of burgers (by craft butchers Davidsons) too, chicken dishes also, even a Student Menu.

The McCurtain Street venue, operating now for about eight years, is tiny. There is some shelf space (might take three) if you eat here on the stools but you’ll be banging backs with those in the queue alongside you. There is a solution though, quite a novel one. Order your fish and chips here. Go across the road to the lively Shelbourne Bar, buy a drink per person in your party, your fish and chips will be delivered here and you can eat at your heated outdoor table! And they’ll get rid of your cartons as well. Neat.

The Fish Wife has a second outlet, with more seating, on the Grand Parade, alongside the entrance to the English Market. Both shops are open seven days a week.

The Fish Wife
McCurtain Street  and Grand Parade 
Cork
Tel: 087 2644266 / 021 2419840
Delivery via Just Eat.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Food and Games at Barcadia. Retro Arcade with Bar and Kitchen


Food and Games at Barcadia
Retro Arcade with Bar and Kitchen
Will Sliney's mural with Pat and Colm (Pic: Brian Lougheed)

Food and games galore at the official launch last week of Barcadia, the stylish retro arcade space, with kitchen and bar, within the Mardyke complex. The brainchild of entertainers Colm Lougheed and Patrick Ahern, Barcadia joins the ranks of three other venues, Holy Smoke BBQ restaurant, Woolshed Baa and Grill, and Mardyke Bowl within the complex (built in the 1870s as a drinks warehouse).
Serious gaming. (Pic: Brian Lougheed)

There has been a three month run-in to the launch as the pair were operating Barcadia on a trial basis, checking the complex, tweaking the machines, and listening to the customer feedback before bringing out the trumpets last Thursday.

One of the first things that catches your attention as you enter is the large-scale Street Fighter mural drawn by Marvel artist Will Sliney, the background for many photos on launch night. Will is well-known by now around Cork, Ireland and the international comic book scene.

“Interestingly enough, back in the Mardyke (M2), we had many of the very same arcade machines which we have now re-imported and lovingly restored to their original state,” said Eddie Nicholson, MD of the Mardyke Entertainment Complex. Those who were customers in the late 90s might remember a different arcade on this same spot. Then the Woolshed was a jungle gym and Holy Smoke was a Q-Zar laser tag space.

Some of the arcade games that featured in the Mardyke are back and they are searching for others. In the meantime, get shooting with Point Blank, Time Crisis 2 and House of the Dead 4. “From the golden age of video games” come Pac Man, Defender, Tetris, Galaxian, Centipede, Asteroids and, of course, Space Invaders! Like to race? Then check out Daytona USA 2, Mario Kart GP 2, and Outrun SP 2. Lots of Fight games too.

Looking for a bit of exercise? Start with Pinball perhaps, then move up a gear to Fussball, Shuffleboard games and a bit of Basketball. Even Ping Pong.

And if you need to take it easy after all that, then try a table top game, like Buckaroo or Connect, Operation, Chutes and Ladders (St Patrick got rid of the snakes), Trivial Pursuit, Cluedo, Boggle and so many more.

As well as the gaming classics, Barcadia features a solid food menu (with Holy Smoke chef Decky Walsh leading the team). The focus is on homemade pizzas, themed burgers, Southern Fried Chicken (“with a subtle nod to the three fast food restaurant chains in the Grand Theft Auto universe”). Sweet treats too to keep those energy levels up. All were on offer on launch night and all (check out those battered onion rings and those mozzarella sticks too) were very enjoyable indeed. 
Chefs at Work! (Pic: Brian Lougheed)

There is a full bar there also, featuring some real good beer. I enjoyed a couple of pints of Franciscan Well Chieftain and noticed that Yellow Belly’s Kellerbier is guesting there at present. Cans include Brooklyn Brewery and Brewdog. There is quite a range of cocktails with appropriate titles such as Princess Peach, Donkey Kong, Pac Man, Street Fighter and Super Mario. Cheers!

Barcadia is open till late every weekday from 4.30pm and from 12.00pm on the weekends.



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!






Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Old Bank Café. New Eating and Meeting Place in Mayfield

The Old Bank Café

New Eating and Meeting Place in Mayfield

Cork suburb Mayfield has a lovely new meeting place. The Old Bank Café, that the O’Connor butcher family opened last month, is quickly becoming the place to eat and meet in the area. 

It has the field to itself as, amazingly for a place of its size, there is no other café in the area. Why Old Bank, you might ask. Well because the new building stands on the Iona Road site occupied for many years by the Permanent TSB bank. 

O’Connor family member Sinead manages the Old Bank and is open for business from 8.00am. We arrived much later than that to try out the lunch menu! The café was quite full about 12.45pm and, as the first wave of diners left, they were immediately replaced by others. And, as we ate our excellent and well-priced dishes, we could see why it has taken off.

We could have had their excellent Roast of the Day, the healthy House Salad, or their highly regarded honey glazed ham, but we had been tipped off on two dishes in particular.

One, my pick, is their take on Eggs Benedict. The Old Bank Café style Benedict poached eggs come on sourdough toast with hollandaise or with salsa verde and is further enhanced by a choice of slow roast tomatoes, sauté spinach and roast button mushrooms or home cured bacon and slow roasted tomatoes. 

I went for the hollandaise, spinach and mushroom version. It is absolutely superb, terrific flavour and textures, well executed (eggs perfectly poached) and presented. And excellent value at €7.50. Both this and CL’s choice below are available all day (8.00am to 4.00pm).

CL meanwhile was tucking into her modestly named House Dish (again great value at eight euro). This includes crispy home-made potato hash, smoked ham hock, smokey baked beans, poached egg and salsa verde or hollandaise. That hash, the potato is done rosti style, is excellent and lots of flavour come through from the other ingredients.

We were feeling pretty satisfied after that  - they are both large dishes - but were tempted by the pancakes, newly added to the menu. These are American style and are made in house and served with cream, maple syrup or lemon curd. Delicious, with a beautiful texture, and, with a cup of well made coffee, we had no bother in finishing them off. Happy out!

* In the same building as the café, the O’Connor family also have a butcher’s shop and a food hall. See more on the complex here. 





The Old Bank Café
Iona Road
Mayfield
Cork
(021) 453 0541

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Miyazaki. Special Every Time


Miyazaki. Special Every Time

Buta Yanagawa Don
It was a cold and wet Tuesday and crossing the city at rush-hour wasn't appealing. But there was ample reward at the end, picked from the Specials Board of Miyazaki. And to make it even better, we managed to get two of the famous six high-stools with a view of the rain-drops on the window and the remnants of rush-hour traffic outside.

That specials board keeps changing. Had I been in before Christmas, I might well have had Salmon Zuke Don, maybe Kisu Ten Don (fried whiting). Though I do think I would have started with the Bora Aria with Karashi Susimo (Grey mullet).
Looking out the window
 at remnants of rush-hour

Tuesday's menu though was every bit as inviting. There is always the usual addition, on a separate board (watch out for it!), of Hot Soup Noodle (Soba or Udon) Dishes, all eat-in only. One, for example, is Beef Soba or Udon (thin beef dashi in warm broth with garnish).

My pick from the Specials was the very top one: Buta Yanagawa Don, thinly sliced pork belly with dashi broth, burdock, onion, shimeji mushrooms, simmered with egg and nori (14.50). A large bowl of deliciousness, a superb mix of flavours and textures, the oh so thinly spread egg, the pork, the greens, the little mushrooms and, of course, the broth. Not bothering too much with the view outside as I concentrated on that.

Ebi Curry Udon

And, to my left, CL, who had been reading all about Takashi Miyazaki in the current Food & Wine magazine, was now totally engaged with her Ebi Curry Udon (Udon noodles in Japanese curry,  with prawn tempura, age tofu, ginger and sesame, also 14.50). She loves those plumb noodles and the dish was further enhanced with a little side bowl of pickled ginger while the heat in the curry was perfect for a girl that grew up nearby when this premises bore the name Yangtze River and was indeed a very popular venue for southsiders making their way home.
Afterwards!

We could see a few customers gathering in the small space, some for takeaway, some waiting for a stool. So we moved on, but not before buying a box of the sushi. “Just a simple one,” our friendly server said. I think it may have been the last one also.

So we paid up and walked out into the cool night, the rain had stopped, and took the opportunity to check the location of Bau Boi (another soutside raid in the planning), picked up the car and headed home
.
The sushi immediately attracted the attention of the dog but, determined as he was, he would have to do without on this occasion. It may well have been a basic Miyazaki but it was well ahead of any other we’ve tried locally, outstanding flavour; ginger, wasabi and soya sauce were all included with the six rolls, all for a tenner. 

We took our time with that and a bottle of Lustau Puerto Fino, a Fino sherry aged  on the Atlantic Coast of southern Spain in a town called  El Puerto de Santa Maria, bought in Bradley’s (Cork) and just the job for sushi!

1A Evergreen Street
Cork
(021) 431 2716
Hours: Tue-Sun 1.00pm to 3.30pm; 5.00pm to 9.00pm. Mon - closed.