|Cascade-ing at Cork Summer Show|
A lovely pint from Brian.
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Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Taste of the Week
Cascade by Cotton Ball Brewing
Cascade is a relatively new addition to the Cotton Ball Brewing Company’s portfolio and I made its acquaintance at the Cork Summer Show at the weekend. It’s a beauty and our Taste of the Week.
It is a well balanced celebration of the hops of the same name, a single hop beer with terrific flavour, slightly spicy too but with flavour galore and the ABV is just 3.8%. Well done guys, a superb Pale Ale for the summer sessions and indeed any session.
There is a picture of Humphrey Lynch, the original owner of the Cotton Ball and grandfather of current owner Jack, on the brewery's bottles. His is a fascinating story and includes fighting in the American Civil War and dealing in cotton (hence the name for the pub he bought on his return to Ireland). More here.
Monday, June 19, 2017
The Cork Summer Show 2017
Town and Country Get-together in the sun.
The organisers of the Cork Summer Show got the weather they, and it, deserved this weekend and once again it proved to be a very enjoyable occasion, a chance to catch up with old friends, to try something new (like the Cotton’s Ball’s Cascade beer), to pick up info from the County Council tent on the many things to see and do from Mitchelstown to Allihies, from Youghal to Newtownshandrum.
First friendly face we recognised was Sandra Murphy. She had been up late at the previous night's fashion show in the Cork International Hotel but was in bubbly form as always at their desk. We entered a competition there, so fingers crossed!
Then we met Rebecca at the Taste Cork tent, all busy preparing for the day-long schedule of cookery demos. Up and down the rows of trade stalls then before arriving at the County Council stands where we collected quite a few information leaflets on places like Spike Island and Camden Fort Meagher, along with those handy town maps for places like Clonakilty, Youghal etc.
It was getting busy at the western section as owners (often with the whole family) prepared the cattle and horses and more for the judges. The equine judges were first in action and I must say I was taken with the side saddle event even if there were just two competitors.
Something cool was now in order and we got a delicious ice-cream from Clonakilty Ice-cream (I recommend the honeycomb!) before moving on to see the petting section. Luckily for the pigs and hunting dogs (there were two packs) here, the tops of their cages were partially covered so that they could enjoy some shade.
The poultry section had quite a few exotic breeds including a big line-up of bantams. The owner of one helpfully opened the cage door for me and I was able to get a close-up of his Polish Bantam hen; the cock was next door but that cage stayed shut! “A high maintenance couple,” the owner confided.
The newly elected City Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald was being shown around as we got back to the entertainment area where many families were sitting on anything from long wooden seats to bean bags) having a bite and a drink and listening to the music or enjoying the magician.
A bit early perhaps but we did enjoy a glass of that Cascade, a well hopped deliciously flavoured beer from the Cotton Ball, with an abv of just 3.8%. Lots of other choices here too, including local gins and whiskeys.
By now, lots of old Ford vehicles were motoring into the grounds, cars, vans and tractors, as the show organisers recognised the company’s 100 year old links with the city and county. Some lovely old, and not so old, vehicles here and we got a personal run-down on a 1947 Prefect, even info on courting in the back seat! My Dad had one of these in the early 60s
How about a bit to eat? The only problem here was making up your mind; there were so many stalls, big and small, selling food to eat on the spot. A few months back, I got some Peri Peri sauces to sample from Athula and when I saw he was doing food here, I had to try it. And yes indeed, his Peri Peri Chicken Pitta was delicious and nicely spiced (I had asked for medium!). That and a glass of water was dispatched while standing at a barrel table as the sun beat down.
We were into the afternoon now and, having arrived early, stamina was running out. Besides, the dog, who had been left at home, would need to be walked, so we retreated from Curraheen, meeting many people on the way in. This is a huge attraction for town and country and deserves all the support. And they came in record numbers. It is estimated that 27,000 people attended the show on Saturday and a further 33,000 attended on Sunday.
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Duncan Blair has been on to tell us all about their plans for the launch:
> We'll have special Old Butter Road Trail dishes on our menus throughout the launch weekend (28th April to May 1st). We'll be serving artisanal Butter Road cocktails and craft beers throughout all weekend. On Bank Holiday Monday at 4pm we'll be putting on a cooking, craft cocktail and beer Demo in our garden. We be cooking up dishes and breads featuring the produce of the Butter Road.
> Hake on Waterfall Farm Kale with a caper Beurre blanc
> Confit of McCarthy's pork belly with a Gubbeen chorizo cassoulet
> Nine White Deer Stout glazed Macroom short rib of beef
> Stag Bán beer & lime sorbet with a Longueville Cider foam
> 60 second beer bread
> Cotton Ball Stout brownies
> Richie will be showing off his cocktail skills using our range of artisanal gins, vodkas & whiskeys.
> We'll be giving out samples of food and drink. We'll also be serving a special three course dinner featuring the dishes from the demo.
Thursday, March 2, 2017
Cask. Another Gem in McCurtain Street
Find out where the ugly strawberries go
McCurtain Street has another new gorgeous drink and eat venue. It is called Cask, a brand new bar with a menu of very tasty bites indeed. The menu, in the care of renowned Greene's chef Bryan McCarthy, will change every eight weeks.
It is a new venture for Greene’s, at the other side of the arch, with its own entrance from the street. And it is not Greene’s lite by the way. While many of the same outstanding producers will feature in Cask, their produce will be in new “disguises”.
|The Cork Cassoulet|
The hearty dish comes under the heading of A Little More and costs €12.90. You can start with Light, and progress to More or A Little More. There are Cheese and Charcuterie plates for sharing (perhaps!), Extras if want want to top up your More and you may finish with Sweet.
You may start wth a cocktail (or any drink of your choice) from the well stocked bar. Indeed you may pop in just for a drink. The cocktails are being described as seasonal so you can presume they'll be changing too.
I'm sure the Katty Barry (Gorse Flower infused Bombay, Woodruff, Irish Pears and Prosecco) will go down well. Watch out too for the Man of Arran (Connemara Peated Whiskey, Smoked Wakame Syrup, Cocchi Americano, and Grapefruit Oils); this was very well received at the recent Four Hands dinner in the main restaurant.
No shortage of wines either and our pick for the evening visit was Il Bucco, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, with its sweet dark fruits but well balanced and with a smooth finish.
Rings Farm free range chickens were among the items that featured on the More section, all of these costing 7.90. But, like CL, I resisted the temptation of the Chicken Lollipops and other temptations and moved up to A Little More and my pick here was superb.
While CL was on the Skeaghanore I was enjoying Blow-torched medallions of monkfish, tomato bean stew with chorizo, lemon and seaweed (14.50). Inspiration from a warmer clime, perfectly executed and well presented, to warm the bones on a chilly night.
We were on a roll now and up for dessert. A short list but we got two good ones! And also found out where the ugly strawberries go.
Well they may have been ugly when they went in but they were oh so beautiful in Cask. The Bushby’s Preserved Strawberry Frangipane Tart with a dollop of cream was just perfect. The berries are judged not good enough to be out on their own on a plate but certainly shine as part of this lovely dessert (5.50).
I had to beg for a couple of bites of that one but I had a good bartering bait in my Yuzu Cheesecake, again with cream and also 5.50. The fragrant Yuzu with its acidic citrus juice brought my very enjoyable evening, helped by a friendly and efficient staff, at Cask to a delicious end. Guess I'll have to go back for A Little More!
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
Taste of the Week
Kerry Lane Pale Ale
|Cotton Ball pic|
“This is one terrific ale,” I thought to myself last night as I sipped the cool Kerry Lane Pale Ale (5%), made a very short walk from me by the Cotton Ball Brewing Company. I hadn’t had a Kerry Lane with a while and was very pleasantly surprised by the reacquaintance.
I’m not the only one pleased with our latest Taste of the Week as the Kerry Lane won gold at last October’s Blas na hEireann Awards in Dingle. It is full bodied and “the classic aromatic hop flavour is accentuated by a late kettle hop addition”. I had bought a bottle (or two) at the Cotton Ball’s off licence but I’ve also enjoyed it in draught at the bar itself, along with the other beers being produced in the attached micro-brewery.
The beers are finding their way around the country now and indeed getting high praise. Recently, Leslie Williams nominated their Indian Summer as the Irish Examiner Beer of the Week. Other mainstays are their Lynch’s Stout and Mayfield Lager. Watch out too for specials. After all, Indian Summer started life as a seasonal but turned out to be a beer for all seasons.
The Cotton Ball, owned by the Lynch family, started brewing in late 2013. The pub itself was bought by their ancestor Humphrey J. Lynch (he appears on the bottles) in the 1870s.
Monday, March 7, 2016
Taste of the Week
Another Bloody IPA
Cotton Ball’s Another Bloody IPA, 5.8%
“A medley of citra based hops are infused with Blood orange zest and peel to create a refreshing citrus aroma.” The aromas are fairly much what you'd expect and certainly there are citrus hints there. Malt, more than hops, on the palate, not that the hops are shy! Quite a rich and flavourful mouthful with that Blood orange a light and pleasant (rather than forceful) presence. A lip-smacking finish too. Overall, our Taste of the Week is another reminder, this with an attractive dark amber colour, as to why we ought to be grateful to our craft brewers.
Eight Degrees are one of the leaders in the field but it was only after drinking the Cotton Ball IPA - someone told me it reminded them of barley wine - that I got to taste their Mór, one of three Christmas specials from the Mitchelstown brewery. This is a Barleywine with a 10.2% abv. With Barleywine, rightly or wrongly, I'm thinking sweet and then what to eat with it? Didn't have too much in the house but, amazingly, it paired so well with Hadji Bey's Turkish Delight, the one thing I did have. Lucky match, lucky me!
Caroline Hennessy has been “battling” at various food shows these past few years with Colm McCann, she for beer, he for wine. And usually her trump cards are their Eight Degrees Stout and her brownies! But maybe she should consider their Barefoot Bohemian Pilsner for the next contest. I had a pint of that in Up Down, one of Cork's newest restaurants, and found it very agreeable with Asian Style Chicken wings.
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Three Canned By Rascal’sEach Beer Worth A Try
Rascal’s Yankee White IPA, 5%
A bold Irish beer? Well, I think this cloudy wheat beer is more about balance than out and out bold! None the worse for that though. And it seems they agree: “Yankee White IPA has all the complex hop flavour of an IPA and is finely balanced with the bright flavour of a wheat beer.” A gorgeous balance indeed, a fine beer and Very Highly Recommended.
Rascal’s Big Hop Red, 5%
Lively, piney, zesty, they say. And so it is. It is also majorly hoppy for a red ale but again the balance is good as is the final result. That extra hop kick comes because the ale has been dry hopped and that has added zesty flavour as well as the piney aroma. Attractive in all aspects, this award winner is Very Highly Recommended.
Rascal’s Ginger Porter, 4.8%
The first thing you notice here is the can itself. It is not glossy like the others but has a kind of matte finish which gives you a good grip! This is a smooth dark ale and a pleasant one. They rate it as medium bodied. It has a pleasant caramel-bar flavour on the palate and in the finish. Not as creamy as a good stout but well worth a try and Highly Recommended.
Speaking of stout, just sipping away from a bottle of Lynch's Stout as I finish this. Quite like this one and quite proud of it too as it's made a few hundred yards away from me by the lads in the Cotton Ball Brewing Company and is of course available in the bar of the Cotton Ball itself on draught. Their Kerry Lane Pale ale was a gold medal winner in Blas last October.
I got my three Rascal's in Bradley’s (North Main Street, Cork). For other stockists around the country, please check here.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
SuperValu Glanmire Christmas Fair
Such an enjoyable evening!
Congratulations to Liam Ryan’s SuperValu Glanmire who put on a tremendous Christmas Fair last Thursday night. Lots to eat and drink, Chef Kevin Dundon demoing too, and a terrific friendly atmosphere and a good cause (three local charities supported). The family has three SuperValu stores in the Cork area; Grange support Douglas Lions Club, Glanmire aid St Vincent de Paul while Togher is backing Cork Simon Community.
We each got an impressive Christmas Recipe booklet on the way in and that was just the start of it. As we did a circle of the bright and well laid out store, we were able to sample their own in-house goodies and there was also an array of Food Academy start-up food producers sampling their local produce.
Didn't stop at all the tasting spots - no point in being greedy. But great to meet up again with Des Jeffares from County Wexford, better known as Mr Jeffares Blackcurrants . He produces a refreshing cordial and last night he was offering a lovely warming mulled version. Loughbeg Farm with their now famous Oat Loaf and Tea Brack had come all the way from West Cork.
Also from west along came the three sisters of the Natural Larder Company (Macroom). They produce a range of seasoned breadcrumb mixes, and also a Cheeky Chilli sauce, Rollicking Red Onion pickle and Bodacious Baba Ganoush sauce. Interested? Check them out here.
Michael Corbett, a Tipperary farmer, was proudly displaying his Emerald Oils cold pressed rapeseed oil. Every single stage in creating this oil is completed directly on the family farm. As you know it can be used for stir-frying, roasting baking, salad dressing and marinating. He had some examples of the baking so we dipped a piece into the oil. Gorgeous!
|Mulled cider, courtesy of Longueville|
And then we were treated to Clotilde’s Fruit Compote, all the way from France, via Glanworth. These are really tasty sugar free compotes that can be used as a daily snack or with natural yogurts porridge, cereals, desserts and more. Clotilde is French and these pots are just like her mother used to make in France. They are absolutely divine. And so versatile.
Time now for a drink or two! Rupert from Longueville House was on hand with their gorgeous mulled cider. Then Barry from St Patrick's Distillery treated us to a drop of his Sloe Gin and Honey. No shortage of craft beer either with both Cotton Ball Brewing and Black’s of Kinsale in attendance.
The circle was now completed and we entered the area where the main event was being held. Before we knew it, we had a glass of wine in hand and were queueing for some delicious store food. Tender flavoursome beef (and other meats too) and all the trimmings, even desserts! Amazing array of food and soon our plates were full. And all this even before Kevin Dundon’s entertaining demo started!
The food was brilliant and so too were the staff - a whole battalion of them - all keen to serve and to tell us exactly what we getting. You often hear about the soulless supermarket. Well this sure isn't one of them. Everyone we met last evening as we did our rounds was helpful courteous and busy!
So good quality all the way with the food and the same with the wine tasting, conducted by Supervalu wine-buyer Kevin O’Callaghan. He had an amazing selection in front of him, including an excellent wine from Margaux - not bad for a Thursday night!
By the way, if you want to check out SuperValu wines and other drinks, be sure and pick up your copy of the in-house magazine Uncorked (Winter 2015). Lots of info here and articles by Leslie Williams, editor Ross Golden-Bannon, Tomas Clancy, and Raymond Blake. And it’s free.
It was a big night for Liam Ryan and his team and they certainly played a winner. Well done to SuperValu Glanmire.
|Some of the wines for tasting|
Monday, June 22, 2015
Cork Summer Show No 209!
Numbers Rise Again, up to 60,000!
If you’re going to bring tens of thousands of visitors to your show in the fields, then you'd better arrange food for them. The 209th annual Cork Summer Show certainly attracted the visitors in large numbers and, yes indeed, there was no shortage of food, ready to eat on the spot. Lots of tables and benches as well.
All kinds of food were being served up, anything from Asian to Italian to good old Irish and, in between I spotted an Argentinian grill! When I began to get a little hungry I was quite close to O’Crualaoi’s and they had quite a choice and, as is the case in their cafes, the items were well priced. We got two burgers (one steak, one chicken, and a drink) for a tenner all in. Quite a substantial lunch.
|Cathal at De Roiste|
While there were many selling food to eat, I was disappointed that there were so few producers at the show. I was really expecting to see more. Wasn't expecting though to see Mag Kirwan from Kilkenny but it was a pleasure to again meet the woman (there is also a man!) behind the innovative Goatsbridge Trout Farm. By the way, you can get her gorgeous fresh trout at the fish counter in Dunne’s Stores. Just look out for the Irish farmed trout sign as it is not packaged!
I had been in early enough and that allowed me the chance to have a chat with some of the stallholders before things got hectic. Cathal was fine-tuning the De Roiste displays and had all their black and white puddings and sausages lined up. Excellent products and you could hear the pride sizzling as he spoke. He also introduced me to their Breakfast Time pack, which includes rashers, sausage meat, black and white pudding, egg and mushroom. Easy for the lazy!
Also spent a bit of time in the Craft Drinks Tent, especially with Barry Fitzgerald, Brand Manager of the new St Patrick’s Distillery who are based in the old mills at Douglas. They are different to other distillers in that their spirits are potato based. There are easier ways of producing alcohol but the Douglas team believe that it is well worthwhile as their spirits are naturally smooth with the added bonus of a grain free process given a naturally gluten free result.
Certainly that smoothness, some little sweetness too, is evident in their Potato Gin, a classic juniper gin. They won't divulge the full details but most of the regular botanicals are in use here and the potato makes it that bit different from all the others! Worth a try. Widely available around Cork, not so widely (yet) in other counties. See the stockists here.
The drinks tent was fairly well populated with producers. There was beer from the Cotton Ball, Franciscan Well and Blacks of Kinsale, cider by Stonewell and Hyde’s whiskey (which I have yet to try!). But generally, there was a lack of producers overall and I’d personally like to see many more of them for the 210th anniversary next year. Don't know exactly what the problem is. But hard to ignore sixty thousand punters in over the two days.
I hadn't been to the Summer show for a few years and I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Great space there for the stands and the parking and everything seemed to be very well run indeed.
|Walk this way|
It is a terrific place to bring the kids. They had their own “zone”, which includes a small animal pet farm, Bouncy castles and a fairground with some super high flying machines. For something more gentle, there was the option of taking a trip around the Show on board the magical mystery train (Noddy Train).
|A family event!|
|Too hot for this guy!|
In addition there was the equine events, the farrier’s tent, the dog show, trade stands, cows, sheep and poultry and more including a vintage rally zone, farm machinery, and home and garden show.
It is a fantastic day out both for adults and children, for town and country. A record sixty thousand punters is a massive endorsement. Here’s to the 210th edition next year!
|He was in the petting enclosure.|
I didn't chance it
|Out of the blue|
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
From Chennai to Cork
The Superb Annam Supper Club
Isn't great to eat out with a group of friends? But how about eating out with a group of strangers? No problem. Especially if the strangers share your love of food and soon they are not strangers at all.
There were nine of us "strangers" at the Annam Supper Club in Douglas the other evening and it turned out be a thoroughly enjoyable dining experience. The Indian food was cooked and served by Banu and Ruth who run the supper club and its associated Cookery School.
We introduced ourselves and the ice was soon broken — the gorgeous Mango Tango cocktail (mango with vodka and more!) was undoubtedly a help — and soon we were telling about food experiences, all the while nibbling from the bowls of Turmeric popcorn.
It is also a BYOB club, so we were soon indulging in our favourites tipples, mainly beers and wines. I had stopped at the Cotton Ball on the way and picked up a few bottles of their own Indian Summer and, though the Indian in the title had little to do with the country, the beer paired quite well with the various dishes.
Starter was a delicious delight. It was Vadai Thengai Chutney and that translates into Deep Fried lentil dumplings served with a coconut chutney. We slathered on the chutney, under advice from Banu, and used our fingers to speed the dispatch of the tasty dumplings.
On then to a very impressive main course indeed, quite a few elements here. The main part was Chicken Biryani with three supporting dishes in Yennai Kathirikkai, Salna and Vengalya pachadi. Many of you will have come across Biryani, basically rice cooked with spices and meat.
|Biryani and friends!|
There are many different kinds of Biryani and you may read about the main ones here. This particular version though is Banu’s signature dish.
The Yennai Kathirikkai is Aubergines in a spicy tangy sauce, Salna ( a traditional accompaniment to Biriyani; ours was a light curry sauce with some lamb pieces) and Vengalya pachadi (a cooling onion raita). The trick here is not to eat any element in isolation. Mix and match the textures, the flavours, the heat and the coolness. Superb!
The dessert was another delight, served in a small earthenware pot. It was named Badam Kheer, an almond saffron milk pudding. Loved every little bit of it. Then we slowly sipped the rest of drinks and finished the various conversations before saying goodbye to these friendly strangers!
The club is run by Banu and Ruth and the cooking veers "towards South Indian most of the time with inspiration from Chennai a good deal". Why? Because Banu is from Chennai and she can best cook and teach the food she knows best.
And Banu is not the only one with a high regard for her area. Food in Chennai is very popular and rather unique. The city regularly features in top ten food lists by major publishers such as Lonely Planet, National Geographic and the BBC’s travel section. More details on the city and its food here.
Ruth and Ban are busy girls. Their next event, a mix of movies and food, is coming up this Friday at the Beggarman and you can see the details here . Their next Supper Club is on Friday April 17th. You’ll get all the details, plus info on cookery courses, on their Facebook page.
Monday, November 10, 2014
Electric Start to Beery Good Night
Fish Bar Specials
Fish Bar Specials
|Mackerel, Bisque and Plaice|
You’ve got to hand it to the team at Electric. They got a great idea when deciding to turn the upstairs outside deck into an indoor fish bar. It’s one thing getting the spark but another thing altogether to turn it into a working reality. But that’s just what has happened here. It makes for a lovely visit every single time and I certainly enjoyed my hour or two here last Friday evening.
The menu keeps changing but the cooking and presentation is always good, often excellent, and you just got to love the informal service, smiles, chats and effortlessly efficiency. We sipped a gorgeous José Pariente Reuda Verdejo (used to be the house wine at El Bulli’s) as we studied the specials list.
We each started with a bowl of Lobster Bisque, served with rouille croutons. The bisque was of excellent quality, full of flavours and quite warming on a rather cool evening. By the way, the Fish Bar, despite all those riverside windows, is obviously well insulated (as you’d expect from the Electric team!) and was comfortably warm on the night.
Next we had three dishes to share, each at nine euro. Two were from the specials list: Steamed Mussels (with beer, chilli and lemongrass) and Tandoori marinated plaice fillets (with cucumber, tomato and mint raita). The third, from the regular list, was: Smoked Mackerel and Cherry Tomato Gratin (with Hegarty’s Cheddar, scallions, panko crumb).
Mussels are mussels, some will say, but this was a different treatment. Not that different but the sauce was enough to give a lovely little spicy lift, so much so that it was finished off with the spoon provided! There was some suggestion that the mackerel dish was a little on the salty side but it didn’t bother me as I loved both the textures and the flavours.
There was agreement about the Tandoori plaice fillets, all happy with this delicate and delicious plateful. The mild spice enhanced the fish and indeed, the raita, though excellent, was hardly needed.
|At the counter of the Rising Sons|
So it was a couple of happy punters that stepped out onto the Mall on the way to checking out some craft beer. First stop was the busy Rising Sons Brewpub on the Coal Quay. I’m afraid to say the average age jumped a fair bit when we entered the big lively space. We got a seat at the counter and ordered a tasting tray each, three small glasses of different beers for four euro.
They have a huge range of craft beers, and others, on draught, but I was interested in their own brews. The three that I got, from the six they produce a few feet away, were their seasonal Porter, the Steeple Hemp amber ale and the Mi Daza stout. The lady serving us gave us lots of helpful information on the beers.
Must say that I'm a fan of the Mi Daza which I’ve tasted in its various forms over the last year or two. Basically, it is a creamy old style Cork stout, “brewed with a traditional rich roasted flavour and hints of dark chocolate, imparted by a four malt extract and thrice hopped, leading to a unique taste and drinking experience”. One to stick with.
The just released seasonal Porter was our first sip and it went down well. It is somewhat lighter in body and flavour compared to the stout but a very pleasant drink indeed. The Steeple Hemp amber ale more or less ambushed the palate with the first sup. “Lots of hops” the lady said and she was right. It’s got a big body too and should be great with food. By the way, the palate soon got used to the hops.
Must go back soon and try their other beers, especially that Handsum IPA. Wonder does it live up to its name?
|The Brewery Mezzanine at the Cotton Ball|
Lots of good ale around nowadays and one of my favourites is the Kerry Lane Pale Ale available on draught at the Cotton Ball, our final halt of the evening. Started off here with their seasonal, the Indian Summer, which has enjoyed a long run this year. But I finished with the Kerry Lane and the pint just confirmed my already high opinion.
Actually, wouldn't it be great to see a tasting of the Kerry Lane, the Handsum and the Franciscan Well’s Chieftain in the one place? Are they all on tap in any one pub?