Showing posts with label Dungarvan Brewing Company. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dungarvan Brewing Company. Show all posts

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Farmgate Café. Traditional. Seasonal. Regional. Food of the land and work of local hands.

Farmgate Café. Traditional. Seasonal. Regional.

Food of the land and work of local hands.
Irish stew. Bacon and Cabbage. Just the mention of these traditional Irish dishes can get some modern “foodies”, some chefs too, on their high horses. They don’t want us posting pictures  of our peasant food on the internet, preferring instead those “decorated” with colourful drops from a squeegee bottle. 

I like my stew, like my bacon and cabbage. Just as the French like their hardly photogenic Coq au vin. And when I saw the lamb stew on the menu during last Saturday's visit to The Farmgate, above the English Market, I had no hesitation in ordering it. It was a cold day and the warming stew was the ideal comfort food. And reasonable photogenic as well.

The Hartes (Kay and daughter Rebecca) are in no doubt about the value of tradition. “Farmgate Café embraces much of what is unique and traditional to Cork along with new influences in this dynamic multicultural food market and port city. Centuries old traditional, seasonal, regional, even ‘forgotten’ foods are at the core of the Farmgate ethos, and also form a visible link between the menu and the wonderful array of produce downstairs.”

“This allows Farmgate Café to provide a uniquely Irish eating experience both reflecting and playing a small role in a vibrant Irish food culture truly embracing how good indigenous ingredients and food products are.”

The popular Farmgate is divided into two sections, as you may know. You may well need to book to get a table in the Dining Room while most of the rest of the mezzanine, the Balcony, is informal so you just queue and order and the order, if not self-service, will be delivered to your table. 

We had booked and were lucky to get a table in an outdoor room adjoining the Dining Room. We were told it would be cold but no problem. There are glass panels up to head height (where you sit), heaters overhead and, just in case, blankets!

No need for the blankets though as we ordered from the regular list. There are always at least three daily specials: meat, fish and tart. The Lamb and Potato stew (€14.00, a euro less on the balcony) has regular company in Chargrilled Chicken, Traditional Pork Sausages with lentils, a Cured Fish plate, a Market Mezze, and a Warm Salad of free range chicken. Traditional yes but not hidebound by the past either.

In any case, that Lamb stew was delicious, the meat flavoursome and tender, the vegetables spot-on, and the potatoes were perfect. And here you’ll have no problem enjoying the last of the tasty liquid as, in addition to knife and fork, they also provide a spoon.

Lunchtime queue for the Farmgate lunch
on the Balcony while the market continues
below.
This was peak lunchtime on Saturday yet the staff, in their smart seasonal clothing, were excellent, very helpful all the way through.

I’d finish up also with a traditional touch. Had been swaying between the Christmas Pudding and the Mince Pie (3.50). The Brandy Cream swung it for the Pie which had a nice layer of crumble on top. 

CL wanted to experiment so she went for the non-traditional Salted Caramel Confit Banana with Rum and Raisin Ice-cream (5.00). A brave woman to take on the ice-cream but it was a seriously delicious finish.

The Farmgate believes in supporting local food. And local drink too. Ciders come from Longueville House and Stonewell, beers from Eight Degrees and Dungarvan Brewing, while the wines are all European.

We had been taking the odd peek down to the floor of the market and, after settling up, we joined the crowd down on the floor. Eventually we had a stroll through Glow and then visited Christmas markets in St Peter’s and The Franciscan Well (this is on again next Saturday).




English Market
Princes Street
Cork
T12NC8Y
Tel: 021 427 8134. Int: 00 353 21 427 8134
Email (general enquiries only): info@farmgatecork.ie

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Four brewers: "What we're doing now!" Superb Food at Malt & Music Festival.

Four brewers: "What we're doing now!"
Superb Food at Malt & Music Festival.
Colm, Eoin, Claire, Phil, and Michael

The Malt and Music Festival at Ballymaloe had its inaugural outing at the weekend. A few great nights were enjoyed. I’m told. Not a night owl these times so I turned up on Sunday afternoon to enjoy some beer, some food and eine kleine Tagmusik!*

Amazing how that Big Shed has been transformed, again. The things they use! Hanging (and flashing) high up in front of the stage was, believe it or not, a Honda 50. If you had one of those in its heyday, you'd get a lady, an ex-worker and now guide at the Arigna Mines once told me!

It was about lunch time when we arrived and we were spoiled for choice. One stall, Buena Vida Taco, made out of surfboards, caught my eye. They were also trumpeting their Crazy Bastard sauce. The Baja Fish Taco was our pick here: crispy battered haddock, pickled red onion, Mexican slaw, fresh coriander and chipotle aioli. Plus the saucy sauce, of course!

Quite a bite. Yet there was better to come, from Gubbeen. Their Reuben contained Pastrami, Emmental cheese, pickles, sauerkraut, and mustard. No rush job either. A superb sandwich, sandwich of the year maybe! No shortage of beers around the place but we didn't travel very far for ours, enjoying a glass of the Cotton Ball’s Indian Summer and one of the Cascade.

Eoin Lynch of the Cotton Ball Brewing Company was one of the four speakers in the Drinks Theatre in mid afternoon; the others were Claire Dalton of Dungarvan, Phil Cullen of Mountain Man and Michael Cowan of Manor Brewing (Wicklow). Colm McCan asked the questions and kept the flow going.

Claire told us about the family effort that led to Dungarvan getting off the ground. So what are they doing now? Well, their latest is “a sunny day beer” called Turning Tide. Light of body, Turning Tide, a lemon wheat beer, is the perfect accompaniment to a summery day, whether beach or BBQ! Moules Frites anyone?

Taco!
Eoin Lynch gave up his job and had some sleepless night after setting up the Cotton Ball Brewing in the family pub in 2013. But it developed quickly, started with 800 litres, now at 2,500 litres. Less sleepless nights now. He had the Indian Summer on show, a seasonal that was so good they couldn't let it go. It is a light hybrid beer (elements of both ale and lager), notes of citrus and pineapple and it was well received in Ballymaloe.

Michael Cowan of Mont said they are a dedicated lager brewery. “With the very soft Wicklow water we have, our super-premium lager is better than the main stream piss and we are trying to improve lager’s image with a big concentration on packaging.”

He surprised us with a very dark lager called Black is the New Orange. It includes chocolate malt and orange and is clean and dry; good finish too. And he introduced Bigger than Ben Hur, a 9.2% Imperial IPA, with “a hopping regime of biblical proportions”! Pretty well balanced though, despite that big ABV. Shows that Mont do make more than lager.

May not look much. But this Reuben is the greatest!
Like the Cotton Ball, Phil and his wife started Mountain Man in 2013. He also told us that one of their core beers, that Hairy Goat, could well have reached the shelves as the Itchy Cow!

We got to taste his latest, the Vincent Van Coff (the name the result of a competition). What was the secret ingredient? Not too many detected the aroma but quite a few got the flavour of… coconut! It is a red ale with vanilla, chocolate and coffee. The point Phil was making was that the ability to recognise aromas and flavours can vary from person to person. “I didn't get the coconut…people starting telling me about it.. So, if you don't get it, you’re not on your own!”

As you gather, this was a rather informal session. And all the better and more enjoyable for it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Sea Gardener. Interest in seaweed rising

The Sea Gardener

Interest in seaweed rising
Marie, busy at her market stall
Amazing how seaweed, so long out of the Irish diet, has made such a comeback in recent years.

Now the natural produce of the seashore is being used in all kinds of things. Samphire is everywhere there’s fish. Fenn’s Quay chef Kate Lawlor uses Carrigeen Moss in a dessert. I’ve eaten Nori crisps in West Cork. You may buy Nori Bake from Galway company Connemara Food Ventures. Arbutus are one of the bread companies using it. Recently, from a new Union Hall venture, I sniffed a gin with a seaweed ingredient! Today, there was a Seaweed class in UCC (Diploma in Speciality Food Production).


 Many people deserve credit for the rise and rise of seaweed and related products in our restaurants and in our homes. Prannie Rhatigan of the Irish Seaweed Garden is one. The McKenna's, Sally and John, are eager supporters. And there are many more.  In Dungarvan, Sea of Vitality supply Milled Dillisk and Ground Kelp and recipes galore and neighbours Dungarvan Brewing Company have a Seaweed Saison.

Today, I just want to shine a little light on Marie Power, the Sea Gardener, also from County Waterford. I met Marie during the Harvest Festival. I had to wait a little while as her stall was so busy. We enjoyed a little chat and then I moved on as people were starting to queue!


 One of the things I bought that day was little bag of Dillisk. That brought me back to my childhood and holidays in Mayo with my mother who loved her Carrigeen and Dillisk. These are straightforward seaweeds.

But things have moved on a lot since those good old days. Maire had a few bars for sale and I helped myself to a couple. The Almond and Orange Bar was good but my slight favourite was the Coconut and Lime. Both contain free range eggs, seeds galore, dark chocolate and, of course, a seaweed mix.


Dillisk & Sea Salt from Wild Atlantic Way Products
She was also doing a tasting that sunny day of her Mushroom and Olive Caponata. I tried that and bought and it was used just the other day on top of a pasta dish, “180 mls of goodness”. It can also be used on vegetables or cold on crostini or salad or use as a dip with raw vegetables or crackers. Recommended!

By the way, Marie learned much of her early knowledge from a 2007 workshop in Annestown with Prannie Rhatigan (see above).  Now Marie herself does foraging walks, cookery demos, ecology workshops, nutrition talks and visits schools and colleges as she spreads the good news about seaweed. And she has a book published too called The Sea Garden - a guide to seaweed cooking and foraging. The book and her products (also a list of stockists) are available online here - no queue!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Superb Gin From Blackwater Distillery. Watch Out For The Cappoquin Heron

Superb Gin From Blackwater Distillery.
Watch Out For The Cappoquin Heron!

The making of a London Dry Gin is a process subject to certain regulations as regards to inputs, almost like a wine appellation. This was our introduction to Blackwater No. 5*, the LDC from Cappoquin with the heron in the logo that is already making a name for itself.


Peter Mulryan was our informative guide on a visit to the fledgling Blackwater Distillery. Peter, the distiller and one of four directors, told us about the botanicals, 12 if I remember rightly, used in the process, including Coriander which goes “citrus-y” in the mix. Considering that citrus (dried skins) and bitter orange (also dried skins) are also used you could see why he advised against using a lemon in your gin. Lime would be a better choice.

The orange skins, by the way, come from Spain, the pulp having been extracted to make marmalade. Some spices, including Cinnamon and Cardamom, are also used.

Juniper is perhaps the best known element, having been traditionally used to make gin, and indeed provides the dominant flavour. Got my hands on a juniper berry and when I crushed it between the fingers it began to feel oily. It is this oil that is extracted and used.

In the still.

Three roots help complete the mix, including liquorice and angelica which “tastes kind of gin-ny”.

And if you thought that this was the first time that these exotic botanicals have reached the beautiful banks of the Blackwater, you'd be mistaken. Peter related the remarkable story of the White family from Waterford who, in the 18th and 19th centuries, imported spices, some from faraway places, and distributed them widely, even sending their own boats up the Blackwater with spice consignments for the many big houses on its banks.

The stills are small here, so small they even have names. Distillation though happens quickly and you can make a decent size batch of gin in a day. By the way, there is a reason why most stills are made of copper. Peter: “Copper softens the mouthfeel. The alcohol won’t ‘burn’ you”, he told us. Aside from the stills, they also have a bottling machine on-site.

Already, the new distillery has cooperated with local brewers, including Dungarvan Brewing Company, as it seeks to position itself away from the really big distillers with which it cannot compete on price.
Still and, right, cooling tower.
 And Blackwater can certainly be different as I found out with the next few tastings. First up was the Curious Still vodka distilled from a double IPA by Black’s of Kinsale. “That is taking the bland out of vodka,” said one obviously impressed taster in our small group.


Now we were on to Poteen, called the Spirit of West Waterford, made from local ingredients, and recently subject to government regulations. This was based on a hop-free oatmeal stout, brewed by Dungarvan Brewing Company. It also contains local barley, Flahavan’s oats and "a smidgen of molasses". This “very soft” drink, with an ABV of 43%, was such a hit at the recent West Waterford Festival of Food that the plan is “to move it into commercial production” in the months ahead.

And there is even better news to come. Peter proudly showed us a few small casks made in Finland from juniper wood (the wood itself imported from Serbia). It is hard to get enough of the timber as juniper is a bush, not a tree. An initial batch filled one of the casks and has been a success, “a great gin”, and production of this will also be scaled up. One way of being different.


Small cask, made from juniper.
 And whiskey, Well, no whisky yet. Remember you have to wait three years and one day to have your whiskey approved as Irish Whiskey or as Irish Whisky as Peter would spell it. Plans are well advanced but you won't find their whisky on the shelves anytime soon. At present, you may pre-buy one of a limited number of  50 litre casks.


“We offer people a choice of seven whisky styles in a choice of wood finishes,” says Peter. These won't be any old whiskey. You’ll be offered anything from Single Malt to a peated Pot Still Irish. Check out their website http://blackwaterdistillery.ie for details.

Innovation is the name of the game here. Peter, a native of nearby Conna, learned the trade in Scotland and that knowledge and his enthusiasm are now being let loose on the final big bend of the Blackwater. Watch out for the heron silhouetted on their bottles, coming to a shelf near you.

*  Blackwater No. 5 is distributed by Classic Drinks.


Peter (left) and Yours Truly

Monday, March 9, 2015

Farm Restaurant, Clonakilty. Well Worth A Visit.

Farm Restaurant, Clonakilty.
Well Worth A Visit.
Clonakilty’s Farm Restaurant has made a big impression in less than six months. Produce from the local seas and farms features strongly on the menu in the Ashe Street venue, right in the middle of the town. Comfortable seating and friendly service, along with top class cooking, makes for an excellent dining experience.

We were in last week and, with a chocolate tasting coming up immediately afterwards, decided to go for two courses of their early bird menu. While reading the menus, we got a cone full of pop-corn and a basket full of gorgeous breads (including a particularly delicious one with onions and Dubliner in the mix - what a tasty crust this had).
Delighted to see so many local names listed, including Clonakilty, Staunton’s, Dan Moloney, Caherbeg, Skeaghanore, Toons Bridge, along with craft beer by Dungarvan and cider from Stonewell.

The Clonakilty Black Pudding featured on my starter, served with Crispy Pancetta salad with celeriac, Pear and Apple Coleslaw. Delighted with that opener, excellent flavours and textures, and CL was more than pleased with her Crisp vegetable and chicken confit spring roll with Szechuan Dipping sauce, another tasty combination.
 It just got better after that. My mains was the Pan-roasted free-range chicken wrapped in Clonakilty Bacon and stuffed with Caherbeg Sausage meat. There was an explosion of flavours here, including a great sauce, and the sausage meat added a bit of herby spice.
The other mains was Skeaghanore confit duck leg with marmalade sauté potatoes and that had CL purring. Another empty plate. Oh, by the way, the included sides of creamy mashed potato and vegetables were also cooked to perfection and very much appreciated as well.

Must call back some day when we have no other eating commitments and get stuck into the A La Carte! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Into the East: Yawl Bay Fish - Greenbarn Italian - Ardmore Cuppa

Into the East: Yawl Bay Fish - Green Barn Italian - Ardmore Cuppa


Award winner!

Great to meet up with David Browne at Yawl Bay Seafoods  in Youghal last Friday. It was a busy afternoon for David who now runs the company that his father started in 1986. It is well known for its smoked salmon, much of which is exported.

“....it is rich, succulent, not too smokey, it is just right. It reflects true craftsmanship and respect for tradition and flavour....” Not my words, but a quote on the site from Martijn Kajuiter, Head Executive Chef of the Cliff House Hotel.

I first met David a few weeks back at the Cork Kerry Food Forum and Fair in the City Hall and here too there was good news for the company as its Cooked Crab Claws won a Food Sensory Experience Award sponsored by Sensory Research Ltd (SRL), who tested products incorporating all five senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.


Italian Red

As the crabs indicate, there is more to Yawl Bay now than the smoked salmon. On the fresh fish counter, they stock a mix of cod, haddock, sole, hake, oysters and mussels and “whatever else is good on the day”. The fish comes from near and far (sometimes a trip to Union Hall is needed to stock up on particular items). It is very tempting display so if you're passing - the premises is between the town proper and the bridge to Waterford - it is well worth a call.

Back home on Saturday, we had an all fish dinner, lots of crab and hake. Smoked salmon to come and also some smoked haddock for a fish pie! David, as I mentioned, was busy on the Friday collecting new supplies and making and arranging deliveries but still had time to fill us in on the business and make us very welcome indeed.

This spontaneous “tour” had started with an invitation to visit Dungarvan Brewry and our first stop was for a terrific lunch at Green Barn Restuarant  between Killeagh and Youghal. The crew from Capri Bay in Youghal (now closed) has taken over here and are in top form.

Risotto

My starter was a Wild Mushroom Risotto with Saffron, perhaps the best risotto I've ever had. The other starter was also very good: Goats Cheese Bruschetta with caramelised onions (great touch!) and roasted red peppers.

Both of us were also delighted with the mains. The Ravioli Granceola with crab meat in a generous fresh peccadillo tomato sauce was brilliant. No shortage of crab meat either and the sauce was incredible.

My Saltimbocca (Veal medallions, parma ham and sage, cooked in a butter white wine sauce finished with fresh parsley) was perfect, great flavours and textures and aromas, the sauce scooped up with the bread. I hope they didn't think I licked the plate! Great stuff.

This place is open all day, breakfast through to dinner. Well worth a visit. 
Saltimbocca

After the stop in Youghal, we headed to Ardmore for a walk on the beach. There was a great relaxed feeling in the town. Families playing together in the water and on the sand and people strolling up and down the street and stopping now and then for a chat or a snack or both.

The United Beach Mission and the Fortune Teller’s Caravan caught the eye. So too did the tearooms at the Ardmore Gallery and Studio and that is where we ended up. They do sandwiches and salads and pastries but, after the satisfying lunch, we settled for a big pot of tea and very nice it was too. We sipped away and took in the varied artwork on the walls. They have seating indoors and outdoors in the terraced back garden. Lovely spot.

After that it was time to hit the road to Dungarvan and keep our appointment with Claire and Cormac and you may read a short account of that visit here.



Why Not Take the Dungarvan Brewery Tour!

Why Not Take the Dungarvan Brewery Tour!




Tours to the Dungarvan Brewing Company started last Friday, with Claire and Cormac doing the honours.  It is the first of what is billed as a summer series and you can get further info here.


It is well worth it. The tour caters both for the person with a casual interest in the process and for those with more technical interests. Cormac, who learned the “trade” through his home brewing, is the man for the technical stuff.


He took us through the various malts and hops that they use. Malted barley, for instance, is nothing more or less than barley "soaked in warm water". That is your basic ingredient but then there are various degrees of malting, right up to “roasted”, essentially burnt. This latter has a coffee taste and aroma - you do get to touch and taste it - and is used in their stouts, concluding my favourite Coffee and Oatmeal, a winter stout.

He explained the use of hops. Hops used early in the process is mainly for bitterness while it increases flavour when added in the later stages. Challenger is their basic hops but they also use the well known (and much in demand) Cascade with its more concentrated flavours (which means you use less of it).

The glamour side of the drinks business, demonstrated by brewer Cormac

Claire, one of two accredited Beer Sommeliers at the brewery (husband Tom is the other), then introduced us to the company's beers. What a great line-up they have!
Pale Ale fans are well catered for and Claire started with the Comeragh Challenger, a seasonal English Pale Ale. “Floral, light… easy-drinking..” she said. And so it proved.

The Cascade hops are used in Helvick Gold, a regular in the portfolio. This popular Irish Pale Ale is full bodied, generously hopped and “good with seafood”.

Next up was an American Pale Ale style called Mine Head, also featuring the Cascade hops. It has citrusy flavours and is not as bitter as an IPA and is great with food.


Perhaps the best known of the Dungarvan beers in restaurants is their Copper Coast Irish Red Ale. This will tell you that it is an excellent food beer. And Claire had the perfect match, producing the lovely organic Brewer’s Gold Cheese by the Little Milk Company. This locally produced cheese is washed a few times during production with Copper Coast!

Then on to the Blackrock Stout, a favourite since Dungarvan was founded four years back. Here the roasted malt was prominent and it went very well indeed with the dark chocolate that was handed around and quickly scoffed.

All the beers are traditionally brewed and bottled on-site in Dungarvan, and made using only four ingredients – barley, hops, yeast and water. No chemicals are added to the beers, they are unfiltered, unpasteurised and vegan-friendly. The core range consists of three beers – Black Rock Irish Stout, Copper Coast Irish Red Ale and Helvick Gold Irish Blonde Alewhich are complemented with a selection of seasonal and festival beers throughout the year.

It has been a terrific four years for the brewery and production has been boosted recently, a major factor being the pre-Christmas installation of a mechanical bottling plant (previously, it had all been done by hand!). Now that capacity has increased, so too can the volume and the export market is being explored with sales to Italy, the UK, Scandinavia, Germany and even further afield on the horizon.

The Brewery was the final stop in a "foodie" mini-tour to the east from Cork City. See a short account of the other stops here.
Cascade hops

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sipping Beer and Cider in a Tractor Shed. At the Ballymaloe LitFest

Sipping Beer and Cider in a Tractor Shed
At the Ballymaloe LitFest
Dungarvan's Claire takes the mike at the Beer and Cider event.
“Three years on and it feels like a lifetime,” said Scott of Eight Degrees Brewing at last Sunday’s Irish Craft Beer and Artisan Irish Cider event at the Kerrygold Ballymaloe LitFest. The rapid pace of the craft brewing industry in Ireland has astonished many of us, not least those pioneers (excuse the dry pun) directly involved. “Consciousness has been raised now,” said Claire of Dungarvan Brewing Company. “It is an easier sell.”

Moderator John Wilson (of the Irish Times), who prefers his on draught, is delighted with the progress and is as surprised as anyone else. “Beer and cider are now appearing in restaurants. No excuse though for pubs and off licences not having them, even if it is just the local brews.” And so say all of us.

“The industry is one of experimentation,” continued Scott. “We take a risk in producing, the customers in trying a product. We tend to help one another in the industry as one new tasting leads to the tasting of other craft beers, one of the encouraging aspects of the business. We are trying to create a community of consumers who are highly experimental, making one off batches, full of flavour, being innovative. The consumer's interest has to be held.”

Simon Tyrrell, who produces Craigie's Cider with his partner Angus Craigie, says the cider world has a different approach. “The reason is that we have just one crop, one shot a year. Ours is very seasonal. The demands are different to beer, indeed more like wine. Cider looks to express the best qualities of the fruit, show where the nuances lie.”

Eloquent as Simon was, and always is, the best speech from Craigies came in our first tasting of their fabulous Dalliance, made from 100 per cent dessert apples (three different types). “It has been left on its fine lees for 15 months and then a little re-fermentation to give it sparkle.” This just has to be tried. It is so different with great apple flavours and a long dry finish. Superb!
Four to Taste
Then we were on to the beers and a taste of Dungarvan Copper Coast Red Ale. The red comes from the Crystal malt and the beer has “more of a malt profile”. It is sold in restaurants. I regularly come across it there and it certainly goes well with food.

Ballymaloe's Colm McCan
worked tirelessly over
two long days in
the Drinks Theatre
(a converted tractor shed).
The experimental nature of the craft beer industry was certainly underlined by our next beer, call Gosé, made by the Brown Paper Bag Project, Irish brewers without a brewery but who travel home and abroad and hire out or collaborate with existing brewers.

This beer was made in partnership with the local brewery on the Danish island of Fanoe in an ancient German style called Gosé. It uses 53% wheat and 47% barley along with the addition of sea salts and coriander. It has cider like characteristics and the acidity and salinity are prominent. Very good with oysters!

We finished off with one of the first of the second wave of Irish beers, Howling Gale Ale by Eight Degrees. It was important that the Mitchelstown brewery, then operating out of a cottage, got this right. They sure did set the standard and yesterday’s tasting shows it has stood the test of time and is still up there with many new ale rivals, both local and national.

Great to have the choice but Scott could do with a great choice of hops. The hops he uses are imported. “Hops are not grown commercially in Ireland,” he said. Now, with the industry mushrooming, hop growing must surely come next. Indeed, I think there are green shoots in Tipperary, White Gypsy the folks responsible.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Franciscan Well Easter Beer Festival

Franciscan Well Easter Beer Festival

Made an early visit to the Franciscan Well Beer Festival this Saturday afternoon and took my chance to sample some of the newer brews before the crowds started to roll in on this sunny day.

Last year, the Lynch brothers from Mayfield’s Cotton Ball were on the outside of the ring; this time, Eoin and Humphrey were serving their own beers including their latest. This is called Indian Summer and is quite a lovely drink for the days ahead, a mix of lager ingredients and an ale yeast.

Not to be outdone, the now well established Eight Degrees also had new one on offer, the Full Irish, a strong 100 per cent Irish Malt ale. I've had a sneak preview of the publicity shots for this one. X is the letter that springs to mind! Think Full Monty!

Blacks of Kinsale were promising a surprise for later in the afternoon when a special set-up will allow them to add fresh hops (a new one called Equinox) at the very last moment to Kinsale Pale Ale. Can't get fresher than that. Try that and don’t forget to sample their Beoir #1

Beers from new Connemara brewery available at Bradley's, North Main Street, Cork.
Great to meet up with Jamie from White Gypsy and his innovative beers. Tried his lovely refreshing Wheat beer, the beer you need after walking round, Bavarian in style but Irish “engineered”. The 5.2% Pilsner isn't half bad either. White Gypsy are growing their own hops this year and are also hoping that more and more restaurants will offer a craft beer as an alternative to wine.

The gregarious Mountain Man was another brewer I had not met before and he explained that his Hairy Goat was an English Style IPA with a lowish ABV. Nothing low though about the ABV of its American cousin, the 7.5% Crazy Horse. Well worth a try.

Micro-breweries just keep popping up around the country and next up was JJ's from County Limerick. This was their first outing and the 4.8% Pils lager promised much, especially as this is their very first beer.

aAnd another newcomer, the 9 White Deer Brewery from Ballyvourney, was also making its debut. Gordon Lucey tells me their hops, including Amarillo, Cascade and Fast Gold, comes from all over the world but the "mystical" water is local as is the yeast. This will soon be on sale in 500ml bottles and watch out for other beers, including a stout.

Nice to chat with Caroline of Eight Degrees and also with Claire from Dungarvan Brewing Company. I always enjoy the Dungarvan beers and tried a couple this time: their wheat beer and their Comeragh Challenge Irish Bitter. Had a preference for the former but isn't that what craft beer is all about. Great to have the choice. Long may the craft revolution continue!


The Franciscan Well Festival continues until late this Saturday evening and is on again tomorrow Sunday with soakage provided by the on site pizza maker! Enjoy.



Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hooked in Bantry! O'Connor's Seafood Restaurant.

Hooked in Bantry! O'Connor's Seafood Restaurant

Swordfish
We came to O’Connor’s Seafood Restaurant in Bantry for the fish. And we were soon hooked..

We were off to a winning start with a shared plate of oysters (from their tank).  These were a mix of baked oysters, some with Dungarvan Stout and walnuts, more with garlic and herb oysters with lemon, all delicious and all quickly dispatched. Almost an argument over the last one (we got an odd number!).
Amuse Bouche
It was a quiet night in the restaurant. Indeed a very quiet Friday (07.03.14) in the town, very few cars parked around the square, and most of the other restaurants that we passed on the way back to the hotel were not busy. It was, of course, just after the recent storms. Hopefully the numbers will pick up now that Spring has arrived. Bantry is a lovely place to visit and there are many attractions in the general area.
The O’Connor’s menu changes regularly, and each day the specials are decided by what comes in from the local fishermen. We were in luck. Swordfish and monkfish were on the menu and they were cooked and presented superbly while the service throughout was friendly and efficient.

I picked the Swordfish. The steak was chargrilled with pan-fried smoked sun dried tomato and served with a roast pepper polenta cake and, not mentioned on the menu, a basket of house-made fries.

Swordfish can be a dodgy choice as some restaurants cook it for too long and it comes out dry and hard. But this was moist and tasty and the polenta and tomato cake was a gorgeous and appropriate accompaniment. The fries too vanished quickly as indeed did the shared sides of vegetables and potato.
Monkfish
The other mains was also a delicious delight: Pan-fried fillet of monkfish wrapped in smoked bacon with a divine wild mushroom and baby-leaf spinach leaf risotto. O’Connor’s had two very happy customers on their hands at this stage, the happiness helped by a smashing organic Chardonnay by Langa (DO Calatayud), a surprisingly beautiful bottle for 24.75, intense and complex aromas, fresh and fruity with a long and pleasant finish and,by the way, an ABV of 14.25%!

Took a break from the wine then while enjoying a couple of excellent desserts, a Blackberry Fool and a Mixed Berry and Champagne Sorbet. Soon, we were back on the street and strolling to the nearby hotel.
Desserts and wine.
O'Connors Seafood Restaurant, Wolfe Tone Square Bantry, Co. Cork. Tel: +353 (0)27 55664 Email: eat@oconnorsbantry.com
Once an employee, Pat Kiely is now Head Chef and Owner. You’ll also find him at Willie Pa’s Restaurant, Colomane Cross, Bantry. www.williepas.com  

O'Connor's are a Good Food Ireland member and other members among their listed suppliers are: Jack McCarthy, Shannonvale Chicken, Toons Bridge, Dungarvan Brewing Co., Ballycotton Seafood, Ardsallagh Goat Cheese and Cashel Blue.

Blue Sky Friday in Bantry Market