Showing posts with label Eight Degrees. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eight Degrees. Show all posts

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Salt Wine & Food on Victoria Road. A Winning Docket!

Salt Wine & Food on Victoria Road

A Winning Docket!

On the “vee" between Monahan Road and Victoria Road, there is an undistinguished low level building, close to a tool hire operation. It once housed a bookie’s office where you could lose your money on a nag without getting a run for it. At least nowadays, you’ll get value for your hard-earned cash as the modest building (maybe it looks better by day!) is now home to Salt, a wine bar and café with quite a distinguished menu of food and drink. I certainly felt like a winner as I left after a recent visit.
Tacos
It was a cold night and we were glad of the warm welcome inside. In no time at all we were seated and going through the evening menu of tapas (they also do breakfast and lunch, and brunch at weekends). The evening's specials were pointed out to us and they all looked tempting.

And speaking of temptation, the wine list is full of it, quite a selection of new and old world bottles and bubbles too. Some excellent gins too, Bertha’s Revenge and Dingle among them, and craft beers (both local, Eight Degrees, and imported, Brewdog). We settled on a glass each of the refreshing Real Compania Verdejo Tiera De Castilla (Spain) and of the aromatic Butterfly Ridge Riesling Gewurtz (South Australia), both very enjoyable indeed.

Watch out too for their occasional music nights (Flamenco during the Jazz Fest) and Wine Tasting Events (they included Italian and New Zealand nights last autumn) and they also held a Dine in the Dark Night. So lots happening here on the Victoria Road.


Coco Catalan
We ordered three different tapas to share. Now, as in most Irish cafes and restaurants, these are the bigger tapas (known as Racions in Spain), not the small ones that you devour with a bite or two. The three dishes, all excellent, and the two glasses of wine came to a few cent over forty euro.

We found each enjoyable but my top one was the Coco Catalan: Roast butternut squash and onion, confit garlic, nuts (can vary), raisins and pecorino on a lovely flat bread. This looked great and tasted every bit as good, quite a substantial dish too, bigger than your average starter.

CL was delighted with the Crispy Fish Tacos, cod served with fresh tacos, kimchi slaw, mango salsa, guacamole. She loved the colour, the texture, the flavours. Just goes to show, we don't always agree! Though I gave the nod to the Coco Catalan, I too was very happy with my half (well, almost half) of the Tacos!

We always enjoy Spanish tarts so the Tortilla del Sol was on our order. This Spanish omelette cooked with roast potatoes, confit onions, Espelette pimentos and garlic served with avocado, was served in four large pieces, ideal for sharing as indeed were all three tapas that we had. Ideally, a group of three or four is required here and then you can taste quite a few, including specials such as the three that were on offer the other night (see pic).

Service was top notch, friendly, chatty, helpful.

Mini Burgers. Pic by Salt
Salt
Victoria Road, Cork
Phone: (021) 239 0430
website: www.saltcork.ie 
Facebook: @saltcork
Twitter @saltcork

Opening Times (seasonal)
Mon-Tue 9.00-5.00
Wed-Fri 9.00-11.00
Sat 10.00-11.00
Sun 10.00-5.00

Directions here 


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Christmas Prezzies, from three euro to 3.5k euro!

Christmas Prezzies
from three euro to 3.5k euro!
First aid from Wines Direct!

Wine App.
Want to know a little bit more about wine? In a hurry? Then download Grape Personalities - a guide to grape varietals and the wines they make. The APP retails for €3.99 in both iOS and Android and is available at http://grape-personalities.appstor.io

Christmas Day Survival Kit 
Wines Direct make Christmas Day easier for you with their Survival Kit. Along with two classic French whites and two classic French reds, you’ll get a bottle of sparkling wine (Cremant de Loire by Alain Marcadet) and, for afterwards, a bottle of Port (Quinta do Crasto LBV 2011). It is available online at Wines Direct and the six bottles will cost you €115.00 (over 30 euro off and free delivery).


Eight Degrees Festival Beers
You can never mention wine within 25 miles of Mitchelstown without Caroline Hennessy shouting beer! She tells me Eight Degrees have some very special ones to offer. “The Three Dukes of Burgundy is our 2016 Barrel Aged Project. From that series, The Fearless Farmhouse Ale and The Bold Imperial Stout were just released last week. In January, we will be releasing The Good Barleywine.” 

All of these limited edition beers are bottled into 750ml amber champagne-style bottles and are available either individually or in 2 x 750ml bottle gift packs (RRP €19.95). 

Fearless Farmhouse Ale is your perfect Christmas table beer. It won’t shout too loudly over the turkey, will happily hang out with ham and doesn’t balk in the face of any cranberry relish-type shenanigans.
RRP €7.95

Save The Bold Imperial Stout for the end of a meal and pair it with something sweet like Christmas pudding, a rich cranberry cheesecake or some quality vanilla ice cream. RRP €10.95

The Whiskeys of Ireland

Want to read up on your whiskey? Then get Peter Mulryan’s Whiskeys of IrelandThe very experienced Peter (the man behind the Blackwater Distillery in Waterford) knows his whiskey as well as his gin and the book charts the history and the current state of Irish whiskey. A very intertesting read indeed. The Whiskeys of Ireland is published by the O’Brien Press and is widely available. I spotted it in Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork  selling for €19.95.

Teeling’s Top Drops
While you’re reading, why not sip from either The Teeling 24 or 33 Year Old Single Malt, available  initially in the Teeling Whiskey Distillery, Celtic Whiskey Shop and Dublin Airport in Ireland and retailing for €300 per 70cl for the 24 Year Old and €3,500 per 70cl for the 33 Year Old. 

Too expensive? Well you can get a perfectly good bottle of Jameson for thirty euro or less! Another favourite around here at the moment is Writer’s Tears, also in Bradley’s at €45.99.

Tipperary Crystal

Have you a wine lover in your life? But don’t know which wine to buy for him or her. Why not make a present of some suitable glasses instead. Tipperary Crystal have just produced a new range for white and red wine, for bubbles, and also for whiskey and brandy. Prices are mainly twenty euro for a gift box containing a pair of the glasses. All the details here.  

The Oxford Companion to Cheese
Wine and cheese go together of course and so too do beer and cheese. You can get all the best pairings and so much more in this massive just published (December 1st) book on cheese. Lots of Irish interest too with Cashel Blue, County Cork and pioneer cheesemaker Veronica Steele covered in this landmark encyclopaedia, the most wide-ranging, comprehensive, and reliable reference work on cheese available, suitable for both novices and industry insiders alike. See more here.  Published by the Oxford University Press, the impressive volume costs forty pounds sterling.


Bertha’s Revenge Gin

The producers are so happy with the complexity and smoothness of this milk based gin that they really enjoy sipping it with a “splash of water”. But they add “she works very well with a good quality tonic”. And she performs well also in a martini. Bertha, shaken with ice and a suggestion of vermouth, poured into a chilled glass with a simple zest garnish delivers “a gloriously smooth and precise cocktail experience”. Try it for yourself - stockists here - about 50 euro per bottle.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Hops and Glory at LITFEST16. Seven IPAs after breakfast.

Seven IPAs on a Sunday Morning
Hops and Glory at LITFEST 2016
Pete Brown
“Canning has moved on enormously,” declared beer expert Pete Brown as the Litfest 2016 beer tasting got underway in Ballymaloe last Sunday morning. “It's the freshest way to keep beer”. The session was named Hops and Glory, after one of Pete's books, and he was accompanied on the panel by Caroline Hennessy, co-author of Slainte.


Our first beer was a can of the Yankee White IPA by Rascal’s Brewing. Caroline was happy with this Belgian style IPA: “It’s a lovely food friendly beer, ..feels lighter than five per cent!” Pete says it is now a very popular style. “Every new brewery starts with an IPA”.

Worthington’s White Shield certainly got Pete going: “One of my five desert island beers...not a modern IPA but the only true survivor of the old style that was shipped on 6-month voyages to India and drank like mother’s milk…. This is very hoppy, also very malty, a wonderful balance...gets better with time”.
Caroline is part of the 8 Degrees Brewing Company and their Full Irish was next. She stressed the importance of local. They used local barley, malted in Togher (In Cork City). “It is a single malt beer and made to showcase the malt. First made in 2014, it was Beer of the Year in 2015”. Pete noted the hops on the nose, the good balance and equally good body.

Another can followed: the marvellous Ironmonger from Metalman, first launched in 2011. As readers of Slainte will know, Caroline regularly looks for the food angle and praised this as food friendly. “There is a huge change in restaurants,” she said, noting that local food is now being matched with local drink (including beers and spirits).

Pete again admired the body and said he hadn't come across Metalman before but had been enjoying it at the bar in the Big Shed next door. In general, he remarked that one of the best beer tastings you could have is a cheese matching: “Great fun with a small group! Just get a few beers and a few cheeses.” Caroline surprised him when she said she found Crozier Blue and the full Irish a very successful pairing.

Caroline
On to the next one: Black Lighting from 9 White Deer in West Cork, a style that they agreed involves some “messing with your head”. After all, IPAs are not meant to be black but both agreed it is a wonderful style, Caroline adding that it was a “very American style IPA”.

A little discussion on hops followed. Pete said the character changes from place to place, the influence of the terroir. Caroline advised trying some of the single hop beers available, a good way “to build your knowledge”.

Beer Number Six, the citrusy/grapefruity bottle-conditioned Boundary Pale Ale, came from a Northern Ireland cooperative brewery. Caroline has noted a rapid advance of craft beer in the area, and more: “I would recommend a visit to Belfast...good food and drink.”
Pete was on a cloud nine as we finished with Cloudwater DIPA v3, a special edition: “This is the most hyped beer, the most hyped brewery..the best brewery in Britain right now….so much juiciness, so much fruit character..all from the hops”.

This weighed in at 9% and Caroline explained how high ABVs can come about. “If you have lots of hops, you need lots of malt to balance. Malt means more sugar and that means higher ABV”.

So applause all round as our expert duo brought the curtain down on an entertaining and informative beer session.

See also, from LITFEST16:

Irish Craft Cider. A Litfest16 Event


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Holy Smoke On The ‘Dyke. Check Relihan's Blow Out.

Holy Smoke On The ‘Dyke
Check Relihan's Blow Out.
Blow Out; included are Smoked Cob Wheels and Naked Slaw

All you hunter-gatherers can now converge on Holy Smoke in the Mardyke Complex, the new ground of John Relihan, an experienced master of the ancient art of cooking with fire and smoke (he was head chef at Jamie Oliver's Barbecoa BBQ restaurant in London). You want meat, head for the ‘Dyke.

Have any of you seen Cooked, a mini-series by Michael Pollan now on Netflix? He says that the BBQ is the "last idea of the ritual cooking of meat"; that the long and slow technique may well have come to America on the slave ships, was very much tied to the tobacco harvest in the south and that the term “pit boy” came from there. That series is worth a look. He calls commodity pig farming “a vision of hell”. On  a lighter note, you’ll see veteran songsmith James Taylor sing about his pig called Mona!

No vision of hell at the Mardyke though; just lots of exposed brick vaulted ceilings and bare lights hanging down. We got a chance to take a look, and a taste, earlier week, and must say I enjoyed every little morsel.


Low and Slow is the motto here and you'll see it in red letters around the room, a room by the way which is full "night after night". You’ll notice the buzz the minute you enter. Great place to go with a bunch of friends. Grab a beer as you check the menu.

It is meat all the way; well, there are a couple of options for the non-meat eater. The wood too is key. Back to Pollan again who explains that it is the burning wood gasses rather than the wood itself that give off the smoke that marries with the meat. You’ll notice different woods on the menu and that's because each wood has different flavour compounds. Split a length of cherry wood and you’ll smell cherry, according to Cooked.

You may have lots of individual plates here, of Pork, Beef, and Chicken. And Burgers too. Perhaps the best way to test is to order the large BBQ Blow Out (24.50). You’ll get Brisket Burnt Ends, Dry Rubbed Baby Back Ribs, Pit Smoked BBQ Chicken, and Pulled Pork. That’s what we did.
Head Chef John Relihan

Two sides are included, one from the Humble list, one from the Divine. We picked their Skin on Skinny Fries and the Divine Pit Smoked Burnt End Beans. With all the focus on the meat, I have to highlight those unexpectedly delicious beans. The full description is: Sweet smoky beans mixed with Brisket Burnt Ends cooked low and slow. Indeed, it looks as if those sides, both humble and divine, may be worth a closer inspection.

Now, with meat and beer (Howling Gale and Rebel Red from the taps) delivered, it was time to get the tools from the box on the table. Yes, all your cutlery needs are already there, along with a big roll of kitchen paper to tidy up the finger licking mess. And the Holy Water, of course.

It takes a while, even for two, to work through all that meat but well worth it. The pork was probably the highlight, the ribs a close second. Then again, that chicken half, chopped into four, was good too, particular the tasty thigh! Big cubes of smoky brisket were also much appreciated. Not to mention those beans! Would have been barbecue heaven had we been able to roll open that ceiling and let the sun shine in. But it was very enjoyable as it was. Hard to beat a packed restaurant with all that chat.

No shortage of beer!
 Prices are reasonable here. You can have a bowl of pulled pork for a tenner: pork shoulder cooked slow and low for 14 hours over oak, mixed with Holy Smoke BBQ sauce and served with naked slaw and cornbread. Spend two or three euro more and your choices multiply. Service is very friendly and very efficient too. Well worth a visit!

  • Chef Relihan has serious form when it comes to cooking with fire. He was head chef at Jamie Oliver's Barbecoa BBQ restaurant in London and trained with world renowned Pitmaster Adam Perry Lang. Read more about John and the people behind Holy Smoke here
  • Check the menu here
    On the door of the gents, a tame enough fellow,
    despite the ring on his nose.

    Holy Smoke
    Little Hanover Street, Cork
    Phone: (021) 427 3000
    email : holysmokecork@gmail.com 
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HolySmokeCork/ 
  • Twitter @holysmokecork



Monday, March 7, 2016

Taste of the Week. Another Bloody IPA

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.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Up Down Bar & Grill. Downtown, Upstairs. Room with a view.

Up Down Bar & Grill
Downtown. Upstairs. Room with a view.
Basil in the box.


Where will you get an elevated view of Cork’s Patrick Street while you dine? Where do they grow herbs on their window sills alongside your table? Where will you get three starters for twelve euro? In the same place, where you’ll get good food and good value: the Up Down Bar & Grill on the city's main street, opposite the legendary Tom Murphy Menswear. These days too you may well get to see some progress being made on the old Capitol Cinema site that backs out onto Patrick Street.

But let’s forget the outside attractions and get down to the menus, the food and the drink. The wine list is short but covers most varieties, about six available by the glass. And there are another six of higher quality (Chablis, for example) and higher prices too of course. Sometimes you may prefer a beer and Up Down has a selection from Eight Degrees Brewing. We certainly enjoyed our Barefoot Bohemian Pilsner (draught) and they also offer the Eight Degrees stout, pale ale and red ale in bottle.

Pork starter
 The price for single starters is five euro but, yes indeed, you may have three for twelve. The Chicken Wings were my choice. On the night, they were served Asian style with a sweetish sticky sauce and sesame seeds but the style varies from day to day. In my case, they were delicious.


CL meanwhile was tucking into her Pork rillettes (Braised Pork, Black Pudding Crumble, Apple Compote, Celeriac Mash, Black Garlic Puree). Another good starter, though she would have preferred less mash and maybe a wee gherkin or two!

I loved the smoky aromas and flavours as I made my way through my mains: Assam Smoked Barbary Duck Breast, Stir Fried Greens, Plum and Tamarind Caramel. It is served pink. A tasty well-cooked dish for €15.00.

The other mains was their burger (€10.00). No shortage of quantity on her plate of Hereford Beef, Smoked Carrigaline Cheese, Tobacco Onions, Baby Cos, Matt’s Barbecue Sauce, Tomato, all contained (just about) in an Arbutus Bap. She enjoyed that and a side dish of big fries that cost, like all sides, three euro.


We were fairly full after all that so decided to share a dessert from the brief list. Each dessert costs €6.50 and our plate of truffles consisted of Tempered Pistachio Cream Stack, Jameson Truffle and Burnt Cocoa Powder, Cherry Truffle, White Chocolate Tossed in Toasted Coconut, Sea Salt Truffle. The White Chocolate was my favourite and that wasn't shared! While you are on the desserts, you might like one of their teas, coffees, maybe a hot chocolate. All available and, like everything on the night, served with a smile.

The restaurant, which opened last October (2015), is upstairs but you may check the menu in the well lit entry hall before you ascend the stairs to a big bright room and a warm welcome.

Up Down Bar & Grill
71-72 Patrick Street, Cork
Phone: 021 424 8872
Text: 085 271 3888
Opening Hours -
Mon:
5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Tue: Closed
Wed-Fri: 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Sat-Sun: 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
5:00 pm - 10:00 pm



Monday, March 30, 2015

Bantry’s Fish Kitchen. Simply Fabulous Fish

Bantry’s Fish Kitchen

Simply Fabulous Fish
Wolfe Tone looks out over a sunny Bantry Bay.
Breaded mussels (left) and Sea-Bass.
Bantry’s Fish Kitchen prides itself “in having a menu that is almost all locally caught fish and shellfish”. But don't worry if you are a meat eater, they also serve steak. And some nice desserts too!

They say: “When talking about our fish we focus on three elements, freshness, simplicity, quality. We do our best not to interfere with the Fish we are serving, simply served with skin side up along with a variety of simple butters or sauces on top or on the side.”  A bit like the winemaker who does most of his work in the vineyard!

And they stick to that rule. The Fish may be emperor here and he or she is not over-dressed with complicated sauces and suchlike. In the case of both our mains during a weekend dinner, the fish was so fresh it might well have been swimming in the bay just a few minutes earlier.

Herb Crusted Cod fillet with Herb Crust and Parsley butter was the perfect illustration, indeed a perfect fish dish. There was just enough of the crust and parsley to enhance the delicate fish but no more.

The Sea Bass fillets on a Caesar salad was a bit unusual, hadn't come across that combination before. But again the perfect fish was enhanced by the salad. Oh, by the way, we did have some vegetables and fries on the side! And also some beer, including Mountain Man Hairy Goat, Eight Degrees Pale Ale and Tom Crean Lager.

The starters were excellent also. The Bantry Bay Breaded Mussels were unexpectedly served in a Scallop Shell and were top class and I certainly enjoyed a warming Fish Kitchen Seafood Chowder.

We were tempted by the dessert list but in the end decided to give it a skip and said our goodbyes to Diarmuid who served us well throughout the evening.The restaurant, open for lunch as well, is upstairs - the family also run a fish shop on the ground floor - and is highly recommended. We certainly enjoyed the fish and the chat.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Beer Versus Wine

Beer Versus Wine
Colm v Caroline.
Scrumptious Blackpudding from Jack McCarthy.
Great flavours from the L'Atitude kitchen.

Lots of good humour and great drinks at the Beer v Wine Smackdown in L’Atitude last Thursday night where the protagonists were Caroline Hennessy and Colm McCan.


Caroline, co-author of the Irish beer bible Sláinte, made it clear at the outset that she was making the case for craft beer saying “the other beers have no flavours”. Her first beer, Black’s Kinsale Pale Ale, was a perfect example. “Hops are the spice of beer,” she said.


“Beer is just to wash away the dust”, joked Colm as he introduced his heavy hitting first, the Decanter Gold winning Wiston Rosé, an English Sparkling Wine, made in the South Downs by Limerick’s Dermot Sugrue. Both were matched with Hederman Smoked Mackerel with Rhubarb Compote from the L’Atitude kitchens.


Colm did admit he was a big fan of craft beer as he put a call, on speaker-phone, through to Dermot in the UK and they chatted about the huge honour received by Wiston when their wine, a twenty-bottle bottle of it, was chosen, instead of the traditional champagne, to launch the mega cruise liner Britannia.”Twenty minutes later the Queen was still saying wow”, referring to the pop (explosion!) when the Nebuchadnezzar made contact with the ship. See it here on video.


Ireland is fast becoming a big producer of all kinds of drinks, including spirits, and so Caroline decided to include cider as her second round choice. And the local cider she picked was the Stonewell medium dry, a great match with Jack McCarthy’s black-pudding and apples.

Colm said cider, in the way it is made, is the closest thing in Ireland to wine, “at the moment!” as he introduced his biodynamic 2012 Vinsobres from the Southern Rhone, “a winter-warming wine..with a natural acidity that should cut through the black pudding”.  It sure did and even won the round with “victory” in round one going to the Pale Ale.

And then we were on to round three where Double Chocolate Porter Brownies were paired with Knockmealdown Stout and Taylor’s 2008 LBV. The stout, with its traditional flavours, is by Eight Degrees where Caroline can't help but be involved considering that husband Scott is one of the two founders. The brewery, set up in 2011, has been going well ever since. She said the current craft beer wave is well underway thanks largely “to a tax break in 2005 by then finance minister Brian Cowan”. Eight Degrees are just about to start a “massive expansion”.

Chris Forbes of Taylor's was next the next speaker on Colm’s phone and he explained some of the terms used in the port industry including LBV (late bottled vintage, all from one year). “Slow aging,” he said, “helps maintain the flavours and the tannins. The beauty of Port is that it cannot be made anywhere else in the world, only in the Douro. “We use all kinds of traditional grape varieties here”. He mentioned the various Tourigas and Tintos but he said the really important thing for Taylors was not the individual varieties but the blend itself.
Contestants in round 2,
paired with the pudding.

That attention to detail was evident in the LBV as it held its own with the brownies. The Stout was an excellent match, not surprising since a generous amount went into the Brownie mix! Then we had the voting, via murmurs of approval. Caroline and Colm had a round each to their credit and the final matching ended in a draw and that meant honours were even overall.


The point of all this is that there are very good wines out there and, increasingly, very good Irish beers and ciders. And now, the Irish is taking its place alongside wine at the dinner table and in the restaurant.

Here's my recent example. I spent 24 hours in Kinsale on the weekend before last and enjoyed craft beer Malt Lane and in Monk’s Lane in Timoleague. Last Friday and Saturday, I was in Bantry and sampled craft beer in the Fish Kitchen, across the road in Ma Murphy’s, in the Maritime Hotel and, on the way home, they had a selection in Church Lane in Macroom. Don’t think that would have happened 12 months ago. Point made!

The next “match” between Caroline and Colm is likely to be at Savour Kilkenny in the autumn.