Showing posts with label Ireland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ireland. Show all posts

Monday, November 28, 2016

Franciscan Well's Shane Long: Now, we can!

Franciscan Well's Shane Long: Now, we can!

Shane Long at the launch

No shortage of craic in the Franciscan Well pub on the North Mall last week when the local brewer officially launched their new can range in Cork. Three of their favourites, all tried and tested, are available in the new format: Friar Weisse, Chieftain Pale Ale and Ireland’s number one* craft beer Franciscan Well Rebel Red

The announcement marks the first time Franciscan Well, which is brewed in Cork, has canned any of its beers and also the first time that Friar Weisse or Chieftain IPA will be available for purchase in off-licenses.

Founder of Franciscan Well, Shane Long (right): "The decision to move to a canned format reflects the growing trend internationally, whereby more and more craft beers are sold in 330ml can format. This is something that has been prevalent in the U.S. and has proven extremely popular. We are confident this will be the case as we roll out craft in a can for beer-lovers here in Ireland, making our award-winning range of beers even more accessible and readily available.” The new cans also chill quickly and are recyclable.

All brewing and canning will take place at Franciscan Well’s new brewery in Cork City. The brewery opened last year, allowing for operational growth and further expansion for Ireland’s leading craft beer brand, while staying true to Franciscan Well’s proud history and identity as one of Ireland and Cork’s favourite craft beers. The nearby North Mall brew-pub and home of Franciscan Well will be used an innovation centre, while remaining a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

There was a pre-Christmas feel to the bar as we walked in to be welcomed with a choice of cans, of course. Must admit we both picked the Chieftain, a favourite here since it was launched. And later, I switched to draught and again couldn't resist that Chieftain! Next time, though I renewed acquaintance with the wheat beer, Friar Weisse, with is distinctive colour, aroma and flavour. The Friar (left) was one of my early Well favourites and, after the other night, it is going back on my short list.

It wasn't just beer on the night. The place was packed and there was music galore and no shortage of pizza either. Pompeii Pizza have a permanent place here and I saw why when I ordered one of their offerings, with  Chorizo and Mushroom toppings (€11.00). Enjoyed every little bit.

Check out the pizza, the music (including trad sessions), the tours and tastings on the website here. The new cans also chill quickly and are recyclable. And keep up to date on their Facebook place.

*AC Nielsen ROI On-Trade MAT to end August 2016

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Spirits of the Islands. Top drops from Ireland & Islay

Spirits of the Islands
Top drops from Ireland & Islay

Had a significant birthday recently - they are all significant now! - and treated myself to these significant spirits. Quite expensive when you consider that you can get a bottle of excellent Jameson for about thirty euro. But I must say, I am really enjoying these. And, just to let you know, there is a significant gift-giving occasion on the horizon!

Writer’s Tears Copper Pot Irish Whiskey, 40%, €45.99 Bradley’s, Cork

This single pot still, plus single malt, is fast becoming a favourite with me for its complex flavours and amazing smoothness. The name, according to Walsh Distillers, is because a whiskey such as this was enjoyed by famous Irish writers in the good old days.

Don't stick your nose in to get the aromas - a "mistake" wine aficionados make with spirits - just hover above the glass and they’ll come to you, apple and honey in this case. The attractive soft whiskey has been matured in charred Bourbon barrels and there are notes of the wood on the gentle palate, also a sweet spice, some toffee too in a gorgeous mix. And the finish is smooth, elegant and long. Quite the foxy lady and worth exploring. Very Highly Recommended.
  • Writer’s Tears won the award of Best Irish Blend Under €50.00 in the 2013 Irish Whiskey Awards.

The Botanist, Islay Dry Gin, 46%, €59.95 Bradley’s, Cork
Lots of hype around this gin but what is undeniable is that it is a very very good one. The usual suspects are among the botanicals but there are no less than 22 local botanicals as well - Islay must be denuded. Undeniable too is the website claim that the foraged 22 are “unbuyable flavors” - amazing how the US English spellchecker takes over, even in Islay.

“You’re getting uncommon things”, they say and no denying Islay is producing an uncommon gin, one of the best.

On the complex nose, you meet the usual indispensable suspects (including juniper, orange and lemon peel) and, from Islay itself, come apple mint, thistle, summer flowers, gorse and other “unbuyable flavors”. On the palate this smooth Scotch gin seduces, its strength cloaked with its rich and mellow taste, its fresh and stimulating flavours, its warm and lingering finish. Very Highly Recommended.

By the way, if your Latin is up to scratch, you’ll recognise the local botanical names which are embossed on the bottle: Galium Verum  (Lady’s Bedstraw) and Cirsium Arvense  (Creeping Thistle) are two examples.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A twinning proposition: Timoleague and Samaniego

A twinning proposition: Timoleague and Samaniego
Timoleague (above) and Samaniego

Let us twin the ancient villages of Timoleague (West Cork) and Samaniego (La Rioja). Maybe I can’t pull that off but I sure can get Ummera and Baigorri together. Ummera is a famous state of the art smokehouse in Timoleague while Baigorri is a renowned state of the art winery in La Rioja.

Indeed, I have already brought them together, stumbling on a fantastic wine food pairing, as an unforeseen postscript when I recently opened a bottle of Baigorri Garnacha that I had purchased in Samaniego last summer.

Approaching the end of this bottle, I remembered that I had a few slices of the fantastic Ummera smoked duck to be finished off. Thought to myself that they might make a match.

For once, heaven agreed with me. Chewed a sliver of the duck and added a little wine. Eureka! The "chemistry"  revealed depths of smoky flavour, hitherto unsuspected. Amazingly, products from two ancient villages met on my palate and turned it into a flavour filled paradise.

Baigorri Garnacha, Rioja 2009, 14.5%, €19.54 at the winery in Haro.

Baigorri tend to experiment a bit and they even have a “garage” wine. This Garnacha has been influenced by the winemakers, a vin de l'auteur they call it. A well made wine for sure and highly recommended (very highly recommended if you add the smoked duck!) but a little pricey in comparison with their excellent Tempranillo Reserva.

Quite a dry introduction and then a bubbly rush of fruits. A flavoursome wine then with a stirring persistence. It has a rich red colour with calm fruity aromas, especially plum, plus hints of spice. Overall, the experience in the mouth echoes that of the bouquet.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Three Clare champions at Ballymaloe

Three Clare champions at Ballymaloe


Fit for a queen
Met three champions from Clare at Ballymaloe last evening. The first, Skillogalee founder Dave Palmer, comes for the Clare Valley in Australia, while the other two, Birgitta Curtin of the Burren Smokehouse and Siobhan Ni Ghairbhith of St Tola, come from our own County Clare, after which the Australian valley is named. It was a promising line-up and they delivered big time.

Colm McCan of Ballymaloe greeted us all with a Skillogalee Sparkling Riesling. “A very unusual wine, only four or five are made in Oz,” said Dave. “It is light, dry and refreshing and aromatic. It is a properly made sparkler, bottle fermented and aged on its lees.” Great start.


Dave then took to the stage at the Grain Store to introduce his two whites for the evening: the Riesling 2011 and the Gewurztraminer 2011. “These are cold climate wines. We pick pristine fruit and try to preserve it all the way through”. These were matched with the soft goats cheeses and the smoked salmon. “Matches made in heaven,” according to Dave. “I think the lemon and lime flavours in the wine is one of the reasons.”

Next on the wine list was the Rosé (a Cabernet Malbec blend) 2011, a rosé “with attitude..brings out the summer berry characters”. Delightful all the way through from its initial beautiful strawberry bouquet.

Two Gold medal winning reds followed as the high standard was maintained: The Cabernets 2007 and the Shiraz 2008. Quality control is vital in Skillogalee and you won’t find The Cabernets 2008. They didn’t make it as the fruit wasn't good enough.

The reds were matched with the St Tola Hard Cheese, just three months old. Very good now, like Gouda, but Siobhan promised it will get better as it matures (more like Parmesan in the end).

Quite often, the language of wine maker and food producer is the same. They are one and all affected by factors outside their control including the obvious one of the weather. They are one and all dependent on their terroir. Siobhan knows that if she were to transport her 200 plus goats to an inland county that the cheese flavours would be different.

“We have a peaty soil near the Atlantic. The St Tola Log cheese is quite natural, a little fruity, hints of the peat and undertones of salt. The St Tola Ash is made in the same way but in smaller log and is rolled in a food grade charcoal to produce the Ash rim. The Ash makes it stand out on the cheeseboard and keeps it fresh.”

The hard cheese is weather dependent, made only in summer with surplus milk. In a good year, St Tola make it from May to July/August but this bad summer they were curtailed to making it from June to mid July.

It soon became obvious that you really need to know what you are doing with hard cheese. “Timing is very important. If done wrongly, it can even explode!” With its beautiful taste and texture and creaminess, it proved a great match for the Cabernets.

Just like Dave and Diane Palmer, Birgitta and Peter started their Clare business about 23 years ago. Now the Burren Smokehouse is internationally recognised and its products are stocked in speciality food shops in places such as London, US and Kuwait. They too set high standards and their excellence has been regularly recognised and many awards have come their way.

They love their location but even here there are challenges, like the scarcity of wild salmon. She told us the wild salmon is a little drier and the flavour lingers a little longer. They get theirs from a fisherman on the Nore and it ends up in the most unexpected places. Like the Queen’s table, for example. Last year, during the Queen's visit, Ross Lewis choose Burren Smokehouse Wild Salmon for the state banquet. Another honour for Birgitta and company!

Birgitta is Swedish and explained that hot smoking is prevalent in her home country while cold smoking is more common in Ireland. She showed a selection at Ballymaloe, including the Donegal Silver (fresh, sweet and full of Omega3) and the slightly paler Clare Island.

Her Hot Smoked Organic Salmon “is slightly spiced, fully cooked and more meaty.” Birgitta suggested it is a good way to get young people interested in smoked fish though she suspected that “the real fish eaters might prefer cold smoked”.

The Burren Smokehouse is quite a tourist attraction. “Some 30,000 people visit us each year, 10,000 of them from France. Please call in!”

A terrific entertaining and informative evening was drawing to a close but, with Dave Palmer on hand, there was to be a sweet ending, a tasting of the famous Skillogalee Liqueur Muscat, made like a Tawny Port, the fermentation stopped at the right point (the tricky part) leaving a 25% sugar content. Great nose and great flavours, not at all cloying and with a long lingering finale.

Thanks to Dave and Dianne Palmer, to Birgitta and Siobhan and indeed to Colm and all at Ballymaloe.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sun Shines on Cork Food Fest

Tour de Food, Part 2!
A few pics from yesterday. The Cork Food Fest in Fitzgerald's Park continues today (Sunday), starting at 12noon and is due to finish at 5.00pm. Tickets on the gate and, just in case this soft mist continues, they have 3000 ponchos available.
Take it easy! The Dublin Gospel Choir. Pa Fitz was also on song here.

Tasty Salt and Pepper Squid by Jacobs on the Mall

Don't miss: Hayfield's Hay-smoked Pigeon

Start with this: Prawn Pil Pil at the Cornstore

Loved this. The Rising Tide's Herb Crumb Fish Cake
Try one. Ballymaloe Crab Pate
Get a taste of these. Some of the Ballymaloe Sherry selection
Don't pass Fresco (1). Try this Teriyaki of Salmon salad
Hayfield's Head Chef Graeme Campbell (centre) and Paul O'Connell (right) with yours truly

Don't pass Fresco (2): Chicken Rendang Curry in Banana leaf.
Opening Night
At the Cork Food Fest last night (Thurs).

Picnic style weather in Fitzgerald Park as the Irish Examiner Cork Food Festival got underway yesterday (Thurs) evening. Many of the area's top restaurants and food producers joined the effort to show the very best of local food. No shortage of cooks - Rachel Allen drew a capacity attendance to her demo - and there was live music by the fountain.
Sonie O'Sullivan passes the Sherry pouring test!
 I enjoyed my stroll around the park and got to quite a few stands, including the impressive Hayfield Manor one. Enjoyed meeting Ciara and Paul again at their plush and hospitable “stall”. Electric chef Kevin was in demand as he dished out slices of Iberico from a rapidly diminishing leg.
Sage's 12 Mile Menu on a Plate. Unmissable.
 Isaac's also had a good spot and some tempting dishes, including a selection of curries with a glass of wine for a tenner. Check it out before the festival ends on Sunday. Also worth checking out is the Sage stand where they are rightly proud of their 12 Mile Menu on a Plate.
Treats by Bite Size
Checking out the Hayfield!

Tasty Thai treat by Isaac's

Anyone for ham? Electric's Kevin.
Springfort chef Bryan McCarthy and yours truly.
Ballymaloe were next door with sommelier Colm McCan inviting us all to try out some great sherry. Only catch was you had to pour it yourself in the traditional manner. I couldn't manage it but Sonia O'Sullivan got it right first time.
Met Mairead from Nash 19 and Idaho Cafe's Richard and Mairead as we continued the tour, picking some tasty pastries up at Midleton's Bite Size and a selection of puddings from Kanturk's Jack McCarthy Butchers. Jack wasn't on duty but son Timmy was and he was in top form.
Oh, almost forgot. Called to Springfort Hall to sample Bryan McCarthy's Feather blade beef - have had it before but you can't get too much of a good thing. And that's my reasoning for making a return to the Mardyke, at least one more call before the show closes on Sunday to call to the places I missed last night.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Les Gourmandises. 1er classe!


Les Gourmandises - 1er classe

It wasn’t a full house but the chef played a blinder at Les Gourmandises on Friday night. In terms of execution, presentation, taste, creativity and innovation, this was a masterclass, a feast for the eye as much as for the mouth. Exquisite.

CL is not really a Risotto person but her starter (Tomato and Basil Risotto, goat cheese beignet, olive oil and parmesan) captured and captivated her: “one of the best starters ever”. Tomato and Basil are a terrific combination and that came through here. Looked well and tasted really well.

I picked one of the specials: Prawns (shelled) in Filo Pastry with Mango Crème Fraiche and Mango jus. I’ve often had prawns in pastry before but this was in a class of its own. Five or six juicy prawns, all perfectly cooked, stood in the “pond” of gorgeous mango, one of my favourite exotic fruits. Used my hands all through the delicious demolition.

Monkfish Beignets with aubergine puree, tomato chutney and parsnip crisp was the main course that we both ordered. Served on a slate, it looked great. And rather substantial too as you can see from the picture, with three small bowls of beignets and puree and a dish of sautéed potatoes (each not much bigger than a marble) on the side.

Substantial or not, the slate was cleaned. Again, the fish was cooked to perfection and matched so well by the aubergine. By the way, those parsnip crisps weren't just for decoration! A lovely dish.

Now on to the dessert, where we took the sharing plate (sharing slate, really): Coconut panna cotta, Mango posset, chocolate gateau and chocolate crème brûlée. Perhaps a little too much chocolate for us at the end of a gorgeous meal but all perfectly done and very enjoyable indeed.

We picked from the €45.00 menu: three courses and also tea or coffee. We could have had two courses (without tea or coffee) for €38.50. There is an excellent wine list here, dominated by French producers. Just had one glass (7.00) of an un-oaked Beaujolais Chardonnay, Domaine des Nugues. Don’t think I’ve come across it before and it went very well indeed with my monkish.

Though I wouldn’t particularly like to be seated in the middle row, Les Gourmandises is generally quite a comfortable restaurant, with decent seating and well set tables. Service is pleasant, with a smile, and also with information freely volunteered to help you make a decision with your order.

Local suppliers include: Meat - John O'Flynn's & Sons, Marlboro Street
Fish - O’Connell’s, English Market
Shellfish de la Mer - Castletownbere, West Cork
Love Fish - Ballycotton, Co Cork
Springfield Organic Vegetables - Tipperary
Cheesemongers - Iago, English Market

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ballymaloe: May date for Riesling Masters

Click on image above to enlarge
Ballyvaughan resident John McDonnell (Wine Australia) with Tim Adams (left)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Clash Of The Ciders

Clash Of The Ciders
Longueville House cider, medium dry, 5%ABV, 50cl, €3.99 at Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork.
Stonewell cider, medium dry, 5.5% ABV, 50cl, €3.99 at Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork.

The Longueville House comes in a distinctive squat bottle and its lovely black and gold label is less eye-catching than that on the Stonewell. It has a nice fruity aroma and a rich amber colour in which you see streams of little bubbles constantly rising.

Very pleasant on the palate where the fruit is well balanced, the kind of balance you’d expect to find in a well made West Country cider, a property previously remarked on by the Apple Farm’s Con Traas in a recent newsletter.

The Stonewell’s Celtic design really stands out on the shelf and there is also a huge visual contrast in the glass. The Stonewell colour is so much lighter, more like honey, and again the rising bubbles are obvious.

Its aroma is lighter, more apple-ly, very pleasant indeed. And it is lighter also on the palate, but nowhere near as dry as the LH. And that factor could well make it a favourite with the ladies, well at least with the lady of this house. It is marginally higher in alcohol and that did not go down as well with the lady.

As far as this amateur referee is concerned, my Clash of the Ciders will have to go to a replay (at least one) after this high scoring draw. Final score: 5 stars each. No need to seek a winner here but rather let us celebrate that, in less than 12 months, we have two outstanding craft ciders being made in the county.

If you do want to set up your own tasting match, just call into Bradley’s and get a few of each and see which one suits you. If you want to know more about cider, click on the link below where you’ll find info such as:

“The flavour of cider varies. Ciders can be classified from dry to sweet. Their appearance ranges from cloudy with sediment to completely clear, and their colour ranges from light yellow through orange to brown. The variations in clarity and colour are mostly due to filtering between pressing and fermentation. Some apple varieties will produce a clear cider without any filtration. Both sparkling and still ciders are made; the sparkling variety is the more common.”

Friday, November 18, 2011


Top restaurants announced at
The Dubliner 100 Best Restaurants 2012 in association with Santa Rita

Santa Rita People’s Choice Award goes to
Pichet while Derry Clarke scoops the
Santa Rita Chef’s Chef of the Year Award

Pichet has been announced as the winner of the Santa Rita People’s Choice Award at the launch of The Dubliner 100 Best Restaurants 2012 in association with Santa Rita, the must-have annual guide to the best eating out destinations in Dublin.

The Santa Rita People’s Choice Award ten most popular restaurants in Dublin, as voted by the public, are as follows:

  1. Pichet
  2. The Exchequer
  3. Junior’s
  4. Chapter One
  5. Eatery 120
  6. Dillinger’s
  7. Jo Burger
  8. Dax
  9. Saba
  10. The Trocadero

Each year, chefs and restaurateurs nominate the Dublin chef they most admire and this year’s Santa Rita Chef’s Chef Award goes to Derry Clarke of L’Ecrivain. Honourable mentions included:

·         Ross Lewis, Chapter One
·         Kevin Thornton, Thornton's
·         Padraic Hayden, Camden Kitchen
·         Dylan McGrath, Rustic Stone

The Dubliner 100 Best restaurants, in association with Santa Rita, which is now in its 10th year of publication, features a host of dining options across the capital, including fine dining, casual eateries, family friendly venues, local favourites and hidden gems.

Copies of the 2012 guide to the 100 Best Restaurants are on
sale in bookshops across the country.

100BestCover (2)

Sallyanne Cooney, General Manager of Gleeson’s incorporating Gilbey’s, which distributes Santa Rita wine in Ireland, says:

Santa Rita, the leading Chilean wine in Ireland, is delighted to be associated once again with The Dubliner 100 Best Restaurants guide for the tenth year running. The ‘Santa Rita People’s Choice Award’ continues to be the most sought after accolade for Dublin restaurants, as it is voted for by the public – the toughest critics of all! We’d like to offer our heartfelt congratulations to Pichet, Derry Clarke and indeed the 100 Best Restaurants in Dublin for 2012

Wednesday, November 9, 2011



Three of Tuscany’s makers featured at an Olive Oil Master class in Ballymaloe Cookery School last Wednesday (9/11/11). Capezzana were represented by Beatrice Contini Bonacossi, Federico Giuntini Masseti was there for Fattoria Selvapiana while Liberty Wines’ David Gleave MW stood in for Giovanni Manetti of Fontodi.

Tuscany is more or less on the northern edge of the kind of climate in which the Olive tree grows and so is very susceptible to changes in the weather, especially the frost which has been known to more or less wipe out the olive rows.

Federico remembered the one in 1985 as a disaster. “The trees had be severely pruned to ground level and it took us all of ten years to get a good crop again.” There were a number of difficulties this year mainly due to the very cold weather in December and this has resulted in an oil that isn’t as green and spicy as normal.

Still, the arrival of the new season’s oils in Tuscany is a big event, according to Beatrice: “It is like a fete and the restaurants mark it by putting on special menus. It is very important for Tuscan cuisine and we always cook with good oil.”

We started our tasting with the multi-varietal Capezzana, harvested a little earlier than usual. Like the others, this was quite a bright green in colour, soft and fruity with a light spice and great delicacy, perfect for drizzling over freshly baked bread and using in dressing for salads.

Just two varietals in the Fontodi, the Frantoio accounting for 80%. Another lovely oil for salads or soups or for drizzling over pastas and salads. David Gleave remarked again that it wasn't quite as spicy as usual, lacking a little of what he termed austerity. I think most of us were maybe relieved that it wasn't as spicy as normal!

The Selvapiana was also neither as green nor as spicy as usual and, according to Federico, was part of a small crop after two bad winters in a row. But it was a lovely viscous liquid with enough of a spicy finish and he particularly recommended having it on toasted bread.

The lunch dishes that followed our “lessons” were a practical and tasty demonstration of the use of Olive Oil in cooking. We started with delicious Pumpkin and Faro Soup with a topping of Parmesan and the Selvapiana oil.

Then onto a light and lovely plateful of Roaringwater Bay scallops with lemon, chilli, coriander and the Capezzana oil. Needless to say, plenty of bread was used with these two dishes.

The main course was Slow Cooked (15 hours) shin of beef with Allegrini, thyme, garlic and black pepper served with braised winter greens and Golden Wonder Fontodi Mash.

Pretty full at that stage but still room for a delightful Raisin, Orange and Walnut biscotti served with a knockout Capezzana Vin Santo, a sweet wine that requires much patience and investment to bring to the table. But well worth the wait!

Oh, and by the way, it wasn’t the only wine on the table as we got to taste samples of Fontodi’s Meriggio 2010 (100% Sauvignon Blanc), Selvapiana’s Chianti Rufina 2009 and their flagship Vigneto Bucerchiale Chianti Rufina Riserva 2007, then the 80% Sangiovese Capezzana Carmignano Villa de Capezzana 2007 (91 points on the Wine Advocate) and next the terrific Fontodi Flaccianello Della Pive 2008 (92 points in the Wine Advocate).

Quite a line-up of wines but the focus during the morning was very much on the oils. And it was hard to believe that just a week ago, the olives were still on the plant in beautiful Tuscany.

The wines and the oils are distributed in Ireland by Liberty Wines who have a new website which you may see here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011



Good Food Ireland has being invited by Irish Thoroughbred Marketing to represent Ireland at The Breeders Cup “Taste of the World” Welcome Party in Louisville, Kentucky on November 3rd 2011. The brainchild of American celebrity chef Bobby Flay, the 15 countries that have won the Breeders Cup will come together to showcase the cuisine of their country.

These include France, Japan, USA, New Zealand, UK, Argentina and Australia amongst others. Good Food Ireland will also be included in the Winners Circle Ceremony for a Breeders Cup world championship race named in honour of the event. Coverage of the Welcome Party will be beamed to millions of people during ESPN’s domestic and international broadcast on Nov 4th and 5th.

“It is a great honour for Good Food Ireland to represent our country at this prestigious event. Ireland’s cuisine is largely driven by local ingredients and seasonal variations and the Good Food Ireland members clearly epitomise the best. The Breeders Cup is an ideal event to promote Ireland’s cuisine and the wonderful food that can be experienced in our network of businesses around the island of Ireland.

It is a primary audience many of whom regularly travel to Ireland for its great thoroughbred industry.  Good Food Ireland is very grateful to Irish Thoroughbred Marketing for affording this opportunity to us. ” say Margaret Jeffares, Founder and Managing Director, Good Food Ireland.

Good Food Ireland member chefs, Ed Cooney, The Merrion Hotel, Dublin and Maurice Keller, Arlington Lodge Country House Hotel, Waterford will showcase Butter Poached Fillet of Clare Island Salmon with a Lemon Oil Dulse, Green Vegetable Broth & Lobster, Traditional Irish Soda Breads, Burren Smokehouse Organic Smoked Salmon and Irish Farmhouse Cheese.

Friday, October 7, 2011



Taoiseach Enda Kenny led the congratulations for Cuinneog Ltd., Balla, Co. Mayo, who are celebrating twenty one years in business. The birthday party took place at Rua, Castlebar and included celebration of their two gold stars presented at the 2011 Great Taste Awards earlier this year. Cuinneog also launched their new branding and packaging which will make the butter and buttermilk more visible on supermarket shelves countrywide. Cuinneog’s award winning products are Cuinneog Irish Farmhouse Country Butter and Cuinneog Buttermilk.

The Taoiseach a particular fan of  Cuinneog Buttermilk and took the opportunity to toast the celebrations with a glass full of creamy buttermilk. He said, “It really is the taste that makes the difference. I was at the State Banquet for Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in May and had the pleasure of seeing Cuinneog products there. You can’t get on a stage like that without having excellence as a hallmark”.

The Taoiseach also spoke about the importance of small business to the economy, saying, “Despite our economic difficulties, we must look at every new job we create as being a step in the right direction. It is SMEs and micro enterprises which are the areas of real growth for this country. That’s businesses like Cuinneog”.

Speaking at the event, Seamus Mulligan, Business Development Manager, Cuinneog said, “All of us at Cuinneog would like to thank our many thousands of customers for their loyal support as well as all the stores that stock our products. We are also very grateful to our skilled and dedicated staff and quality suppliers. We could not have reached this business milestone of 21 years without them.”

21 years in business
Tom and Sheila Butler set up Cuinneog Ltd. in 1990 in Shraheens, Balla. They drew on their family history of butter production, using traditional recipes and methods. Today, although the business has expanded and changed, they remain loyal to the traditional processes. The production cycle takes four days and Cuinneog is the only company producing fermented butter in Ireland. Cuinneog is a valuable employer in the Shraheens area.

New branding
To celebrate their 21 years in business, Cuinneog have launched new packaging. Both Cuinneog Butter and Cuinneog Buttermilk now come in attractive burnt orange packaging bearing the slogan ‘Cuinneog ... for the flavour’. The instantly recognisable Great Taste Award logo is also featured.

Cuinneog products came to the attention of the nation during Queen Elizabeth II’s visit last May when both Cuinneog Butter and Cuinneog Buttermilk were used during the State Banquet.

Both Cuinneog butter and buttermilk are widely used in the restaurant and catering trade. Cuinneog Buttermilk comes in a 4 litre catering pack and Cuinneog Butter is supplied in a convenient cylindrical form, suitable for slicing into portion sizes in restaurants and hotels.

Cuinneog products are available in all major retail groups including Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Superquinn/Musgraves, Supervalu, Costcutters, Euro Spar and independent stores. Artisan shops throughout the country carry Cuinneog products. Cuinneog products are also available in the UK.

Thursday, October 6, 2011



Loved a classic Coq au Vin @Greenescork last night! And a glass of Jumilla Monastrell. French dish, Spanish wine, local ingredients, 5 stars.

That’s the way I summed up Wednesday’s meal in Greene’s Restaurant in McCurtain Street. But Twitter’s 140 characters may have been better used had I included their Paris born chef Frederic Desormeaux.

I had noticed his expertise and innovation during a stop at the restaurant during the Cork Gourmet Trail and had promised myself a return visit. I wasn't at all disappointed.

I am amazed that queues don't form outside Greene’s on a  regular basis such is the quality of the food, the ambiance of the place with it big glass window by the waterfall, it’s comfortable restful decor and its friendly, informative and efficient service team.

It wasn't the best of nights weatherwise yet still that waterfall added a certain je ne sais quoi to the occasion as we sat at our window table. There are two menus here, an Early Bird that has four courses (with choices) for €27.00 and the A La Carte.

We picked the latter on this occasion and made our order. Our wait was shortened by the appearance of an amuse bouche: a little round fishcake on a beautiful sauce. We also had a bowl of tasty breads.

Wines were ordered: a glass of Rioja Tempranillo and one of Jumilla Monastrell, each around the six euro mark. They have a wide ranging wine list and quite a few are available by the glass, some by the half bottle.

CL chose the Gratinated Mussels with Garlic & Lemon Butter, Parsley Crust (€9.00) as her starter. Excellent and very tasty, a great change from the more usual Moules Marinieres in one version or the other.

Mine was perhaps a bit more substantial but also very very tasty, quite a mix of flavours (the tomatoes were absolutely top class) and all in all a terrific starter: Grilled Buffalo Mozzarella wrapped in Serrano Ham on Grilled Asparagus, with caramelised Cherry Tomatoes on Mini Pizza Pastry, Rocket Pesto (€10.50).

We’ve had a quite few Coq au Vin over the years, most notably in the Dordogne the summer before last, and I can honestly say that the Greene’s version is the best yet. In France, you tend to get the tougher bits of older chicken. But in Greene’s they use local free range chicken in the most fantastic sauce. Had a few doubts about the mashed potato but it proved a perfect partner, helping take up the sauce. We had a spoon as well – you didn't want to leave any of it behind!
The menu description: Classic Coq au Vin - Free Range Breast of Irish Chicken Cooked in Red Wine, Smoked Lardons, Baby Onions, Girolle Mushrooms served with Creamy Scallion Mash (€21.00).

Tuesday, October 4, 2011



Barber Daly a Cork tea blending company has been awarded the prestigious title of Supreme Champion at the Blas na hÉireann National Irish Food and Drink Awards.

This, the fourth year of the awards has proved an outstanding success.

There were 1,300 entries, which was twice as many as last year.

Barber Daly was set up in 1975 in Cork City by Brendan Daly and Bob Barber. In 1994 the company moved to a purpose built factory in Forge Hill in Cork.

Their winning award is for their Reserve Fairtrade tea they sell to SuperValu.

Well known food hero Peter Ward announced the awards in Benners Hotel in Dingle on Saturday evening. Gold, silver and bronze awards were presented to winners in 30 categories.

Bursaries up to the value of €20,000 were presented to the top winners.

The Business Diversification Award, sponsored by AIB, went to The Limerick Strand Hotel for ‘The Secret Ingredient Range of Products’.

Susan Steel Development and Innovations Officer with BIM presented the Seafood Innovation Award to Cork company Keohanes for their Microwaveable Salmon with Butter.

“This is a great evening to celebrate food and Irishness. An event like this shows how we are changing the way we look at fish.

“Over 86 per cent of the fish caught in Irish waters leaves this country in lorries with no added value to it. That needs to be changed,” she pointed out.

The Cloudberry Bakery in Keel Castlemaine Kerry won the Best New Emerging Food Producer from Kerry. The award was presented by Thomas Hayes on behalf of Kerry Enterprise.

“Food is vital to Kerry and an event such as this is the jewel in the crown. But there is need for changes to be made in regulation. There is need to ease regulation in such a way that it is not so difficult for people entering the market,” Mr Hayes said.

O’Connors Bakery from Ennis in Co Clare won the New Best Product Award sponsored by Enterprise Ireland. They won the award for their Christmas mince meat. Gareth Dee from Enterprise Ireland pointed out that Ireland’s food industry is exporting €10 billion worth of produce this year.

The Rogha na Gaeltachta award, sponsored by Udarás, was presented by local man Seamus Cosai MacGearailt to Kerry’s Blurini Blasta Beo based in Lispole.

And the Best Artisan Producer Award was won by Cork company, Una’s Pies, which was sponsored by Bord Bia

Arte Clifford, Chairman of Blás na hÉireann Irish Food Awards said, “Every quality food producer is a winner. The event is going from strength to strength every year and this year has proved a phenomenal success. To see joint gold prizes being shared between large and small companies is a real proof of how the smallest of producers can flourish in the food business”.

 All of the category winners will be on the website - - very shortly and here is a link to the picture gallery.