Showing posts with label Imperial Hotel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Imperial Hotel. Show all posts

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Oysters Galore on the Cork Gourmet Trail

Oysters Galore on the Cork Gourmet Trail
How many did you eat?

“I had nineteen oysters last night,” claimed a London visitor to the weekend’s Cork Oyster Festival. And that “last night” was just the official launch. I’m still wondering how many she managed during the Gourmet Trail on the following day. 

The trail visited five venues and some had up to three restaurants combining. There were so many opportunities to indulge in the delicious crustaceans she must surely have doubled the tally from the previous night!
Gin cocktail in a cup at Cask

And there were even more plates of the tasty oysters available at the after party as the various groups found their way back to the ballroom at the Metropole Hotel, the Festival’s headquarters. Oysters, more drinks and music. Well done to instigator/organiser Sandra Murphy and her crew.

Sandra was with our group on the trail and our be-hatted leaders were Kylie from the International Hotel and James from the Imperial. We were last to leave but our intrepid guides had us back good and early to join the after party.
Sushi at The Met

Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald had opened the festival on Friday night and the oyster event added to the terrific buzz around town as Culture Night drew the crowds. Guests at the launch were treated to oysters (included cooked versions) by Haven Shellfish and there was also some tempting sushi available with bubbles and wine and, of course, Murphy’s Stout from the sponsors.

On Saturday at noon, the ballroom was full but, after a Kinsale Gin and Tonic, we were divided into groups, met our leaders and headed off on the trail. More gin, part of a cocktail in a cup, at our first stop, the stunning Cask, just across the road. Lots of tasty bites here too and time also to begin to get to know our fellow trailers.
Cornstore were displaying their Himalayan salt (used to age their famous steaks).

Next stop was the Oyster Tavern, another lovely venue where I enjoyed an excellent meal recently. The oysters here were provided by the Electric Fish Bar, great spot to visit. The Oyster Tavern themselves came up with delicious sliders and bowls of chips. 

Amicus were also feeding us with Tom Durcan beef, including carpaccio and teriyaki versions, and more, though their seasonal desserts, Kitchen Garden Rhubarb Fool and the Foraged Blackberry Fool, were irresistible.

Down the stairs then and out into the lane for another group photo before winding up Patrick St and visiting the Bodega where Rachel’s and Cornstore were also lining up with their offerings. The Bodega sushi (one pickled vegetable, another was smoked salmon) went down a treat. 
Sandra rallies her troops as the rain arrives

Mike Ryan of the Cornstore - terrific dinner there recently - was the oyster “supplier” and he had a welcome variation called Angels on Horseback (the dish is typically prepared by rolling shucked oysters in bacon and baking them in an oven). 

That was excellent though I noticed quite few voicing a preference for the battered prawn version! Rachel’s had a couple (at least) of show stoppers, including a shot of Tomato Water and a shot glass packed full of lobster.

So back to the Imperial Hotel (for the second time in a  couple of days) and they had help from Jacques and Arthur Mayne’s.
Imperial desserts

Loved that Medjool Date from Jacques plus the superb desserts by the hotel itself. The savoury bites by Arthur Mayne’s (Avocado mousse with prawn, Caprese Bites, and the Chorizo and Chickpea Ragu) were outstanding.
Caprese minis by Olivo

One more stop and soon we were enjoying Margherita time at the newly opened Tequila Jacks. The drinks were eagerly awaited and easily downed. Food too, of course, hot stuff by our hosts and some cooler bits from Olivo, the Italian restaurant at the Cork Airport Hotel.

Tacos Mechados, Roasted Chicken taquitos and Shrimp Rellanos were among the Jacks offerings while the cool bites from Olivo included a lovely mini Caprese and also a Parma wrapped asparagus. 

More food anyone? No! A second round of Margaritas was coming to its conclusion and, suitably fortified,  it was time to brave the rain and the wind that had arrived midway though the trail and traipse back to the Metropole. 

And if you did wanted to increase you oyster headcount, there were trayfuls of opportunity to do. I did see the visiting London couple but didn't get a chance to check her final oyster tally! 

The Prosecco and wine flowed (enjoyed a Rioja blanco, well maybe two!), and then a final chat or two before saying goodbye and heading to the taxi. 
Tasty dips at Tequila Jacks

Once again, well done to Sandra and the crew and here’s to seeing you all and more in 2018!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Imperial Bond With Taittinger. Champagne Flights on the Mall

Imperial Bond With Taittinger

Champagne Flights on the Mall
Sparking Seventy Six

The bond between Cork’s venerable Imperial Hotel, over 200 years old, and the long established Champagne house of Taittinger was further enhanced with a special event in Seventy Six, the classy bar of the South Mall hotel, last Wednesday. Kevin McKee, UK Director Taittinger Family, took us through three of their Champagnes: Brut Reserve NV, Brut Prestige Rosé NV and the Nocturne Sec NV.

And speaking of bond, Kevin told how James Bond figured in the Taittinger story. The now famous champagne house had only begun to come to prominence in the mid 1930s. So it was something of a surprise for the family to read James Bond ordering Taittinger, which he called “the best in the world” in Casino Royale, Ian Fleming’s first Bond book (1953). The compliment was unsolicited.

Frits Potgieter, the Imperial’s General Manager, is determined to have even more champagne in the South Mall. “This is the first time ever in Cork for the Taittinger family. And it’s great for us that they’ve sent Kevin here. We have a great relationship with Taittinger and this is a great informal way to introduce the various styles of champagne.” 

And Frits also told me that after this first informal tasting, the hotel will offer tasting flights that will allow their customers try out and enjoy champagne. So do watch out for those.

Kevin told us that Taittinger are based in Reims, once the royal capital of France and it was here that Clovis The First, the first Christian king of the Franks, was baptised. During a  chat later on, Kevin told me of a theory that the name Clovis “mutated” into Louis, the name of many subsequent French monarchs. 

The fact that the kings were in Reims meant the local wine became the royal wine and that gave it quite a boost. Whenever there was a celebration in court, the local were an integral art of it and so Champagne became associated with all kinds of celebration.

We’re jumping about 12-hundred years here, from 500AD to 1729 when the first champagne house was founded. Taittinger was founded, though under a different name, in 1734. “It is still run by the family and that’s pretty unique,” said Kevin. “They are adamant on quality as their name is on the bottle. With champagne, there is nowhere to hide - flaws will be obvious - it has to be perfect.”

He told us of a constant battle between the accountants and the winemakers, with the accountants keen to move the champagne faster, the winemakers standing firm and refusing to let it go until it is perfect! “Luckily, we own about half the vineyards we need. Land in the Champagne region can cost one million euro per hectare!”

“We sell about six million bottles a year, only a very small percentage of the market.” He said the Imperial was an ideal match for the family “and the only partner we’re aware of who are doing a tasting flight.”

We started with the Brut Reserve NV. “the one with the white label. This has been in the cellar for three years. There’s lots of Chardonnay in there in this clear and crisp wine”. A very elegant cuvée indeed.
Tempting canapés with the Nocturne

The Rosé was another winner. Kevin explained: “There are two ways of producing rosé. Leave on the skins is one and that makes a heavy style, not one that we want. The second method is to make a red wine and add it to the mix. So twenty per cent Pinot Noir wine is added. We use clear glass in this bottle to show off the colour.”

Champagne, as we were finding out thanks to a selection of tempting canapés from the Imperial's kitchen, “is unbelievably versatile. You can use it right through the meal, from starter to dessert. This Rosé, three or four years in the cellar, has more body and flavour, again lots of Chardonnay there, and can cope with a bit more flavour on the plate.” The Imperial paired it with crab, ginger and mango and with Prosciutto di Parma, basil pesto.

Time then for the Nocturne with its purple label, designed for the evening. “A little bit softer, sec means off dry, next category up from brut, ideal for late in the evening.”

He explained the difference between brut and sec in sugar terms. “The brut and rosé have 9 grams per litre, almost dietary! This sec has 17.5 per litre, still very low in Champagne terms.” No shortage of sweetness with the delicious pairings here: Lemon Tart, white and milk chocolate desserts. 

 As the tasting drew to a pleasant lazy end, Kevin said Seventy Six on the Mall was a fantastic venue. “We are delighted to be partners here.” Frits thanks Kevin for coming and promised that this would be the “first of many tasting evenings”. 

While we were in Seventy Six, we decided to try something from their Irish tapas menu. The Duck Liver Paté with port glaze and toasted brioche (7.00) was superb, creamy and full of flavour. And another that I can recommend is the Pan Seared Scallops with Jack McCarthy’s Black Pudding (9.00), a by now classic combination with top class local ingredients. Quite a wine list here too. Quite a bar on the Mall!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Best Steaks & 3 Best non-Cork Restaurants 2016

Best Steaks 2016

Aubrac Steak at The Harbour Donegal Town

Macroom buffalo steaks from Eoin O'Mahony English Market

Irish Piedmontese Beef from their stall at Cork Summer Show

Three Best Restaurants Outside of Cork 2016

I've dined around the country this year, including Donegal, Limerick, Kerry, Meath, Dublin, Waterford, Wexford, Louth, Galway, Mayo and so on and these, in no particular order, are the three non Cork restaurants that I enjoyed the most.
I'll be on the road again in 2017. Any tips?

Cistín Eile - Wexford
La Boheme

La Boheme - Waterford
Turbot at The Mews

The Mews - Kenmare

Monday, October 3, 2016

Local is King at The Imperial Hotel

Local is King at The Imperial Hotel

Producers Reign in the Pembroke
x-food-04Frank Hederman. Macroom Mozzarella. Jack McCarthy. Clonakilty Corn-fed Chicken. Hake from Castletownbere. Black sole from Kinsale. Aged West Cork Hereford Beef.
There’s a strong Irish input to the menu at the Imperial Hotel recently, much of it down to new Executive Chef Nicky Foley who has been known to do a bit of foraging around the Waterford village of Kilmeaden, his native place.
In the plush and spacious Pembroke Restaurant, I just had to start with that Hederman Smoked Salmon with buttermilk pancakes, pickled cucumber and horseradish. Beautiful colours and textures (the soft pancakes and the smooth fish made for each other) but above all the layers and layers of flavour that this expert smoker magics from his fish. Oh my!

There are increasing examples of heritage tomato salads on local menus and the Pembroke’s is top notch. Sourdough and heritage tomato salad is the full title and it comes with green olives, fried capers and garden herbs. A seasonal delight.
They are rightly proud of their steaks here, all from 28 day aged beef. I went for the fillet, a handsome 8 ounce cube that came, like they all do, with triple cooked chips and a choice of sauces – mine was the traditional pepper. One of the very best steaks in these parts, I’d have to say.
CL went for the Clonakilty chicken with roast garlic and mushroom. Like the beef, the flavour was superb here, outstanding in fact, quite a dish, served with vegetables and potatoes and all for 18 euro.
The desserts are all priced at €5.95 and we made the usual decision to share! And there was quite a lot to share when the Mango Parfait, Coconut and Milk Pudding, and Spiced Pineapple Carpaccio arrived. Not one of your usual suspects! A top class finale to a lovely meal.
Chef Nicky comes from a family of ten, he has six brothers and three sisters and food has always been a huge part of his family life. “My mother is a very good home cook and I was inspired by her love of food and also her attitude to using everything and wasting nothing. I am particularly mindful of using local produce, ingredients that are not forced but have been allowed to grow and mature as nature intended. That’s the real secret ingredient to any great dish.”
Nicky travelled extensively throughout Europe before spending five years with chef Richard Corrigan at Bentley’s in London. “Working under Richard was a fantastic experience,” said Nicky, “he always strove for perfection and encouraged me to be a better chef and to look at food in a more creative and respectful way.”
Some of the highlights of Nicky’s career include cooking live on CNBC news, competing in the Taste of London Live Cook Off and winning the Square Meal Canapé Cup, Critics Cup. He has cooked for the toast of London and is now bringing his own unique style of food to Cork.x-meat-03

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Pics from today's Spanish Wine Show in to on image to enlarge
Top:Claire Lemasney (Gilbeys); Mark McCloskey (Greenlea); Stephen Morrissey (Barry & Fitzwilliam), Paul Kiernan and Billy Forrester (Bubble Bros).
Bottom: Antonio Lorente & Rafael Salazar (Vinos Tito); Joe Karwig and Billy Lyons; Bren Smith (Mackenway) and Marcus Gates (Karwig).


“Wines from Spain: Changing Ways 2011” was the name of the big Spanish wine show that was held in the Imperial Hotel (Cork) yesterday. El Gordo (The Big One) is associated with the Spanish lottery but there was no gamble in

Monday, September 5, 2011


Spanish wine tasting In the Imperial Hotel Cork
Thursday 15th September

5.30pm – 7pm

ONLY €20 Per person

Group offer – Book 4 places and bring 2 more for FREE (Only €13 each)

The embassy of Spain commercial office in association with FOOD&WINE Magazine would like you to join us for a fun night of fine wines and traditional food.

You will have the opportunity to taste up to 150 wines.  Meet Ireland‘s leading Spanish wine importers. Ask questions about the wine learn facts and find a new favourite.

Plus sample some of Spain’s finest meats and cheese bought you by Corks very own Horgan’s delicatessen.

So don’t miss out – if you enjoy wine and want to learn more about your favourite Spanish varieties come along with friends, family and colleagues for a Spanish wine tasting extravaganza – In Cork

To book your place, please contact Sarah Currey

On 01240 5387 or email

Thursday, September 1, 2011


September 15th, September 15th, September 15th ...Save this date!

October 10th, October 10th, October 10th .......... Save this date too!

September 15th is the date for the first ever Wines from Spain Tasting in Cork City.  Here is your first chance to see what is on offer in Cork...... 
The Economic and Commercial Office of the Embassy of Spain is pleased to announce their first ever Spanish Wine Tasting to members of the wine press and trade of Cork. The Wines from Spain: Changing Ways, which will take place on the September 15th at the Imperial Hotel, Cork City. 
Over 180 wines, will be on show at Wines from Spain Tasting with the collaboration of 17 Irish importers of Spanish Wine.  To view all importers and wines participating this year and download pictures, please view the Wines from Spain's Irish blog:

October 10th is the date for the Annual Wines from Spain Tasting in Dublin, this is the event's 7th year running in Dublin.  The Wines from Spain: Changing Ways will take place at the Shelbourne Hotel. 

2011 sees the return of the ever popular Christmas Stars competition, this year the competition will be on the best Sherries available in Ireland. The results of which will be sent in time for all Christmas publications.  Another first this year is the introduction of a Jerez Room exclusively showcasing the best Jerez wines in Ireland. 
Over 350 wines, the highest number yet,  will be on show at Wines from Spain Tasting with the collaboration of 19 Irish importers and 15 Spanish wineries seeking representation.  To view all importers, wines and wineries participating this year and download pictures, please view the Wines from Spain's Irish blog:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Spanish wine tasting in Cork

This year FOOD&WINE Magazine in association with the Embassy of Spain Commercial Office will be taking the event to Cork.

Hope you can join us….

ü Imperial Hotel, Cork.

ü 15th September 5.30pm to 7.00pm

ü 150 Spanish wines, Plus nibbles

ü Only €20 per person

ü To book simply call Sarah on 01 2405387 or email

Click on image below to enlarge

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Souths in Cork

Cork is one of ten must visit cities listed in the 2010 issue of Lonely Planet and they say the best place to visit in Cork is the Imperial Hotel. Souths is the bar, with its own entrance from South Mall, of this venerable hotel and I met some friends there last night.

Most were driving so coffee was the order of the night and the friendly barman joked that he had never sold so much of it. The place is comfortable – no big crowd there on a Tuesday night – and the service is good and friendly and I enjoyed my glasses of wine.

I’ll be calling again, maybe for lunch at the carvery. You can get a hot lunch here from €10.50 and that (unusually) includes complimentary tea or coffee.

Check out my review of Souths - I am cork - on Qype