Showing posts with label Dingle Cookery School. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dingle Cookery School. Show all posts

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Don't you know you’ll get piles? The Fantastic Dingle Taste Trail.

Don't you know you’ll get piles?
The Fantastic Dingle Taste Trail.
Fenton's Fizz
“Would you ever get up off the cold street. Don't you know you’ll get piles. At least couldn't you put your jacket under you?” 

We two were sitting (on seats) in the closed Dingle street, outside the An Canteen door, enjoying a beer with another couple. But one of the four was sitting on the street surface, as there were no more seats, when a young Irish Mammy came along and started on him. It was a laugh a minute for a while after that as the young woman sat near us and the banter continued. Only in Ireland. Maybe only on the Dingle Taste Trail. Priceless. And no ticket required! 

We had spent a few hours on the Taste Trail.  It was time for a drink and one of the best places for craft beer and cider at Dingle Food Festival, anytime really, is An Canteen. Got a great welcome, including a tasty beef sandwich, from Brian and Niall and a smashing pint of Indian Pale Ale from Andrew of Killarney Brewing Company.

Raclette (also Fondue) at Little Cheese Shop
That Ale by the way is called Scarlet Pimpernel in memory of Killarney man Fr Hugh O'Flaherty who saved 6,500 people during WW2. A glass of the regular Golden Spear Blonde Ale also got the thumbs up.

The Taste Trail at the annual Dingle Food Festival is one of the very best. The quantity of choice is amazing as close to 80 outlets take part, officially! And the quality, while it can vary, is mostly of a very high standard, sometimes really top class. And the value per bite is incredible. A book of  tickets can be bought at any of the participating outlets and in the festival office and then you can go and sample wine, beer, whiskey, fish, meat, pizza, desserts and more.

We enjoyed our few hours on the trail on Saturday afternoon and had some memorable stops, particularly at Fenton’s, Out of the Blue and finally at An Canteen. There was a big delay at our first port of call as the Fish Bar on the Marina seemed surprised by the massive crowd that turned up for their Tandoori Prawns on a skewer.
Waiting at the fabulous Global Village
But there was no problems with queues elsewhere. Yes, there were queues for sure but all moved quickly along. There was one other disappointment though in that the Liam O’Neill/Derry Clarke charity event at O'Neill's art studio was unavoidably confined to Sunday.

Fenton’s had a massive line, out on to Green Street, through the full length of the restaurant, right into to the back garden. But it moved along nicely and soon we were sitting down eating a couple of delightful organic Dexter Beef sliders and then sipping a Sloe Gin Royale Pink Fizz.

The drink was a mix of gin, made from locally foraged sloes, and prosecco. A wee amount of the red gin was poured in first, and then the prosecco was added to change the colour to pink. But the big kick remained in the bottom of the flute and that last mouthful was an ambush of liquid delight! By the way, all this (beef plus fizz) cost us six tickets (12 euro worth).
Music on the trail
More top class stuff to eat and drink at Out of the Blue. They had a few choices but we went for the two ticket option: Roasted halibut fillet with steamed smoked cod, rocket and toasted hazelnut pesto, roasted red pepper and garlic pesto, and celeriac mash. And that was washed down with a small glass of Verdejo (just one ticket).

The Boatyard next door had their tables out in the sun and here we stuck with the fish theme, a lightly spiced Fish Curry.
Fenton's (top) and
Out of the Blue

Up along Green Street after that and down Main Street heading for Orchard Lane to see the Trade It exhibition that featured producers from all over Europe, from Poland, Finland, Spain, UK and Ireland and more. It was scheduled for 2.30 to 4.30, but my jaw dropped when we arrived at 3.30 and found an empty tent. It had all finished up. I had really been looking forward to that.

Still there were plenty of market stalls in the Lane and we had a few samples of various foods, including a marvellous Goats Cheese from Helen of Knockdrinna. And then we had a little bonus when Chef Marc Murphy of the Dingle Cookery School gave a demo (how to cook hake) at their stand.

Next, we headed for An Canteen and that hilarious meeting with the Irish Mammy!

Mark Murphy demo

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Kinsale Gourmet Academy.

The Kinsale Gourmet Academy
Speaking at the launch were (clockwise from top left)
 David Rice, Lord Mayor Alan Coleman,
Des McGahan and Ross Lewis.
Ross Lewis, the Cork-born Michelin star winning chef and co-owner of Dublin restaurant Chapter One, spoke of his early visits to Kinsale as he launched the spanking new Kinsale Gourmet Academy at Ballinacurra House on Tuesday.

“Kinsale was the only place where you could get coffee in 1978. That was in the Blue Haven, on Saturdays and Sundays only. And it was a bonus if you got a scone, left over from Saturday!”

Ross has a great admiration for the area and especially for Martin Shanahan of Fishy Fishy. At the Chef’s Table in Chapter One, they often have US visitors and these visitors were regularly asked if they were visiting Kinsale. And the usual answer was: Yes, we are going to Fishy, Fishy. Now Ross asks the visitors if they will visit Kinsale, after visiting Fishy Fishy.

Ballinacurra Head Chef David Rice heads up the new purpose built and very well equipped academy. David “missed medicine by about 600 points” and started his culinary career washing potatoes (with an occasional promotion to making sandwiches) in the Blue Haven.

Limerick man David eventually worked under Ross at Chapter One. “What that man taught me. Unbelievable!” He obviously taught David a respect for the country’s artisan producers and the Kinsale academy will showcase their work.
The sea featured in both demo dishes
“There will be a variety of courses, including one day, two day, and five day courses, that will be both for learning and relaxing! Next year, we intend to set up a professional course of a much longer duration. I really appreciate this evening’s turnout.”

Cork County Mayor Alan Coleman and owner Des McGahan also spoke at the well-attended launch, both with great humour and that trend continued when Ross and David took the mike. And indeed, it was a feature throughout the cookery demonstration that the pair undertook in the academy itself.

It was a lovely evening in a magical place. Some beautiful canapes and later there were pizzas from the brick oven and cocktails from the newly opened Cuban Bar. The Cuban Cocktail Lounge has authentic paraphernalia and original objects de art items sourced directly from Cuba. It’s the perfect Rum Shack for Havana Club based Mojitos, Cuba Libras, Daiquiris and more.

A large focus for the Academy will be building on Ballinacurra’s reputation for catering for private groups and corporates. Owners Des and Lisa McGahan will work with them to design a bespoke course to suit their needs and objectives, level of capability, and so forth. It will include a teambuilding element, adding in meeting time or other activities.

Individuals will also be able to book into scheduled courses which will range in duration from a half day upwards. Classes will be kept small to ensure the students receive the best quality and one-to one tutoring possible. The Academy has been purpose built with the students in mind,  8 double workstations where 16 students can work hands-on. There is also an instructors island with the top-of-the-range induction hob for demonstrations.

Ross and David show it's done!

"Ballinacurra House and Kinsale have become synonymous with fabulous food for many years.
The new Gourmet Academy will further strengthen Kinsale’s reputation as the ‘culinary’ capital’. It was one the key factors missing in Kinsale’s bid as ‘Foodie Capital of Ireland’ and we feel it’s the final piece of the jigsaw which will further add to the prestige of the town,” said Des.

Ballinacurra House, in a rural area on the edge of the town, is set within a walled garden with 10 foot-high stone walls, security gates and 40 acres of  woodland and lawns. This elegant country mansion brings back old-world opulence and personal service in a unique and totally private environment. “Our exclusive-use estate allows you the opportunity to share your experiences or special occasion with friends, family or peers in magical ambient surrounds, without compromise.” If you have a corporate event or a family event coming up, why not check it all out here.

Tel: +353 (0)21 4779040

Dingle School
Just about two weeks earlier, I had attended the opening, by Neven Maguire, of the Dingle Cookery School. This is another magnificent facility with a team of excellent chefs in charge of a large range of courses, everything from a half day Catch and Cook course to a four week evening course on Ethnic Cookery. And they also have a couple of Pop-Up Restaurant nights scheduled, including one for Halloween.

See the Autumn/Winter courses at

Tel: +353 (0)86 8723521.

Monday, October 6, 2014

My Dingle Food Experience

My Dingle Food Experience
Festival and Blas na hEireann Awards

Local starter, all local here, at An Canteen:
 chorizo croquetta and ham hock terrine (supplier Jerry Kennedy)

Trucks, tractors, trains, even tourists, may have delayed our arrival in Dingle last Thursday but nothing was keeping us away from the Blas na hEireann Awards or the fantastic Dingle Food Festival.

Artie Clifford and his hard-working Blas committee had all the products - there are well over two thousand in some ninety categories - lined up for the tables of judges in the Skellig Hotel. The food and drink products would be fully tested and so to would the palates of the judges as there were two sessions lasting a combined total of around five hours.

You have no idea of who makes what. It is not a blind tasting as such (no blindfolds!) but the unpackaged products in front of you are “anonymous” for want of a better word. There are up to five on the shortlist for each category and each judge tastes quite a few groups over the morning and afternoon.  My standout category? I thought the standard in blue cheese (winners: Cashel Blue) was top class, with three of the five outstanding. See the full list of winners here.
Not all food. This piece, from recycled tyres,
 created by Mick Davis, is called Ram's Head.

With the judging completed - we still wouldn't know the winners until Saturday afternoon - it was time to check in at our accommodation. The next event was the press opening of the Dingle Food Festival at the Tom Crean Brewery. More food here but, after all the little bites during the day, I opted for a couple pints of the cool and fresh Tom Crean lager.

Lovely chats then with fellow judges and bloggers and all fell silent as Neven Maguire, presented earlier with a special award by Blas, cut the ribbon and opened the festival. Next port of call was the bar in Benners. Tom  Crean available there too of course and a whole selection of Irish craft beers included on the drinks menu.

Neven Maguire at the opening of the
Dingle Cookery School.
Very impressed with that development (Benner’s also have Dingle vodka and gin from the local distillery). Next stop was An Canteen, another huge supporter of craft beers. Here hosts Brian and Niall greeted us and served up a fantastic meal, made with pride and passion and no little skill, from local produce. Even Neven was highly impressed.

Time then, for me at least, to stroll down the lane and head back to the bed. Friday would be another busy and very enjoyable day.

Blas winners on the double:
East Cork's Sandra and Joe Burns.
The rain came down for a while on Friday morning but that didn't stop the punters from turning up in the farmers market to see Neven Maguire signing his new book Fast. He was in great form, chatting and smiling and standing in for photos as the fans queued up to buy the book.

Thanks to Lisa McGee (@Dingle Spirit on Twitter), we had heard that there was a two o’clock tour at the Dingle Distillery so we strolled out to the west of the town and joined an international group for a very interesting 75 minutes or so. See separate post here on this tour.
Fun times at Tom Crean's
On the way back, we called into the Dingle Cookery School opening. Here again, Neven was doing the honours and, as usual, joining in the fun. It is a tremendous facility. Lots of courses are now available, some short, some long. Check out all the details here. Hope to do a separate story on this also.

And still more to do. Next Blas event was the announcement of the winners in the awards given by the local enterprise offices. Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Limerick, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Tipperary and Waterford were among those represented at Benner’s. Delighted to see Beara Seafoods and Joe’s Farm, two small family producers that I've met this year, among the winners.

Dessert at Idás
Friday night found a group of us in Idás, an excellent restaurant more on John Street. Lots of conversation and good food, good wine too, as an enjoyable evening unfolded. Great to meet chef and owner Kevin Murphy who had laid on a special tasting menu for us. Check Idás out if you’re in the town or the area - worth a detour!

The rain, aside from a few showers, held off on Saturday and just as well. First stop was the Blas Producers Networking Event. Buyers were here in their dozens and it was great chance for the producers to show and talk about their produce. Lovely to meet up again with Olivia  from An Olivia Chocolates, a winner last year (and gold again this year), with Sam from Cloudberry Bakery (also a gold this year - see her tasty produce in Brown Thomas in Cork) and with so many more.

On the Taste Trail at Out of the Blue.
Their shark bite (front) was a big hit!

And then it was off to the market which covers most of the central streets of the town. This includes the regular farmers market but it is so much more. Producers who have won in the previous year’s awards had the opportunity to have a stand and so the selection of foods and drinks is huge. The Foods of Athenry, Hartnett’s Oils, Wild Irish Foragers and Blurini Blasta were among the many stops we made.

Soon though we were down to business, on the Taste Trail. With over 80 participants, this must be the biggest and best of its kind in the country (if not, let me know!). Everything, from shark to kangaroo, from ling pie to Dingle Fudge, from wine to craft beers and ciders, available. Purchase with your book of tokens or with cash. Separate post here.

Saturday's special menu at Out of the Blue (OOTB)
All the while the awards were being presented in the cinema and again it was a delight to see many hard working producers that I know get their just rewards.

Just as well our booking for Saturday's dinner was on the late side. It was 9.15 when we arrived at Out of the Blue, the fish specialist restaurant on the waterfront in Dingle. The French chefs had a special multi-course menu for the night, even a special wine menu. It was a terrific meal in a small place with a great atmosphere and a great staff. Highly recommended. Post to follow.

Stamina had run out by the time Sunday morning dawned. There was still much to do, including the Taste Trail and market again, but home called and we headed east with lots of lovely memories and a promise to ourselves to call again.

Slán go fóill.