Showing posts with label Iasc. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Iasc. Show all posts

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Seine-sational Night on the River. Cono Sur Blogger Competition Finalé

Seine-sational Night on the River

Cono Sur Blogger Competition Finalé

It is midnight in Paris. We are moored on the left bank and the boat is rocking. No! The boat is moored on the left bank and we are rocking.

Finland’s Johanna Koskiranta has just been announced as the winner of the Cono Sur 2014 Blogger Recipe Competition but the celebrations, led by team Cono Sur, are for everyone, the Chileans, the Finns, the Swedish, the Irish, the English, the French, and more, including at least at least one American.

The private boat trip on the Seine was a surprise. We started more or less at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, cruised under the bridges of Paris, the illuminated buildings adding to the magic. A lovely meal and Cono Sur wines enhanced the pleasure. The focus was very much on three reds this evening: the 20 Barrels Syrah and the 20 Barrels Cabernet Sauvignon and, perhaps my favourite, the Ocio Pinot Noir.

The day had started with a cook-off in L’Atelier Beaubourg (close to the Pompidou) with Clare and myself representing Ireland, Anna for Sweden and Johanna for Finland. Some gentle bubbles to ease us into it - loved that Cono Sur rosé - and, with lots of friendly chats going on, there was no pressure.

Our Irish dish, being plated up.
Includes Truly Irish Rashers and
the magical Irish Shellfish Butter by IASC 

Well, maybe a little when the dishes were presented to the judges: Adolfo Hurtado (MD and winemaker at Cono Sur), Jo Mansell (UK) and Christopher Carpentier, the top Chilean Chef (he is the main man on their Masterchef). Christopher too was enjoying the day, helping the various contestants (he helped us get the scallops out of their shells), and then he laid on a lovely lunch dish (duck, pasta and some of that “lovely Irish bacon”, Truly Irish rashers from our supply!).

You may see details of the three dishes here.

Our first international cap!
We left the cookery school about three o’clock and headed back to the hotel. Quite often in France, we end up at a Brocante event. And there was one on close to the hotel, a huge one, stretching all the way up to the Bastille and back down at the other side of the water (Pt. de Plaisance de Paris Arsenal). But we didn't have the car this time so didn't go browsing for bargains.

Instead we strolled up to the nearby Bastille, now a huge roundabout. And then took a walk in the beautiful Place des Vosges. There are some fascinating art galleries in the covered archway around the old square, amazing work inside. Then onto the Marais before coming back to Bastille via Rue St Antoine, a street full of food: restaurants, takeaways, fruit shops, cheese shops, wine shops, full of people, colours and aromas, a lively place as dusk and drizzle descended together.

Chef Chris concentrates as a contestant gives a summary of the dish.
We also had some free time after arriving on Thursday and used that to take a walk along the left bank, stopping at the riverside book stalls, before ending up at magnificent Notre Dame.

Later, we went out to dinner but the restaurant we had picked wasn't opening until 8.00pm. We were hungry, so settled on the nearby all day Tarmac. We had a very enjoyable meal here. I tucked into the Escargots from Burgundy and a Lamb Tagine, lots of fruit with the lamb, while CL had goats cheese with sun-dried tomato and then Cod with a gorgeous piperade sauce.

Back then to the hotel and a glass of St Emilion, relaxing ahead of the busy Friday. It was a busy enough time on the Friday but very enjoyable, all relaxed and informal throughout. If you want to party, get the Chileans to organise it! And do enter the Cono Sur Bloggers Competition next year!

More Paris pics below.

The birdmen of Notre Dame
L'Escargot at Tarmac
Notre Dame detail

Notre Dame under grey clouds

A wee bit of friendly pressure in the kitchen
Dinner at Tarmac, superb Tagine on right.
Evening in Place des Vosges
rue St Antoine. A cheese shop.
Fun and food on board. Chef Chris with winner Johanna
More frolics.

Arriving in Cork, Sat afternoon.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Dining On the Banks. Excellent River Lee Hotel Experience.

Dining On the Banks. Excellent River Lee Hotel Experience.
Friday evening and we are shown to our riverside table in the aptly named Weir Restaurant in the city centre River Lee Hotel. We are early but soon the large comfortable room fills up; the nearby bar is already full of groups, large and small, enjoying the food and the drinks. Our menu is promising, from regulars such as Roast Supreme of Skeaghanore Duck to specials like the Ballinwillin Wild Boar Chop.

We meet some of the team, including Head Chef Shane O’Sullivan (sometimes it pays to turn up early), and we are left to make our choices. A glass of ruby red fruity French Merlot (Croix des Vents) and CL’s vibrant New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (Ribbonwood) are sipped as the choices are made.

Great to see so much local produce on the menu and I go for the Panfried Castletownbere Scallops in Lemon foam with a seafood cracker. It is superb. The scallops are as fresh as can be and the Lemon foam, not just for show, plays a complementary role. The other starter, perhaps more substantial, is the Chicken Liver Pate, with Foie Gras and Rosemary Butter, pickled apple chutney and walnut bread crostini, quite an engaging mix of textures and flavours and is also very well received.

The sun gets low to the west and the restaurant team pick the right moment to drop the window shades and so diners continue in comfort. Service here is friendly and knowledgeable, all eager to help.

I get something of a surprise when my main course arrives. The day’s special, the Wild Boar Chop, is rather large! But not to worry, it is dispatched with some pleasure, aside from some of the opulent fat that is left on the plate. The chop is served with steamed asparagus, beetroot puree, sweet potato chips and an amazing warm rhubarb relish. Ballinwillin House is a country house, (with a Hungarian counterpart), near Mitchelstown. Check it out here .

CL often goes for seafood and her mains choice was no exception. Her Grilled Castletownbere Langoustines, the chef’s June Seasonal Signature Dish, was accompanied by a Pea, Asparagus and Seafood Risotto and finished with Iasc Seafood Butter. Another top notch dish.

They serve a great Cork cheese board here but we went for the sweet stuff! And enjoyed it, every bit. My dessert was the Raspberry Tiramisu. Raspberries also featured on the other dessert, the Baked Alaska, one that you don't see too often nowadays. Both were excellent and it was two happy diners that headed off down the sunny street.