Showing posts with label Jack McCarthy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jack McCarthy. Show all posts

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Chock-a-block City. Culture Night 2017

Chock-a-block City

Culture Night 2017
Isabelle busy at On the Pig's Back
Progress is slow as we enter the English Market on Culture Night. Little by little, it becomes clear that there are two lines in the packed old building, one going one way, another going the other way, both going slow! But you want to turn? No bother. Crowds yes, but courtesy abounds. A smile and then a gap and you’re on your way.
Tim and Jack McCarthy

On our way to a plate of local food. Eat it a counter or from the top of a cask. Eat it with strangers, from Cong, from Conna, from Congo. Who knows? Who cares? The music plays. The conversations start, flow on, on the food, the new baby, the dog, the new house, the turkey sexer (yes, that came up too).
Metropole sushi
Time to move on. Like the Arc-de-Triomphe roundabout, it is easier to get out than in, particularly if you're not too pushed where you exit. We weren't. Where next? There a gang of steel drummers playing by Brown & Thomas, a circus in North Main Street.
Justin introduces his Bertha's Revenge to
Cllr Des Cahill, ex Lord Mayor
We had been in North Main Street earlier, at a very well attended wine tasting in Bradley’s. Music outside the door there too. Master of Wine Mick O’Connell was conducting the tasting on behalf of Findlater's, introducing new wines he has sourced for them. Some gems there, from Portugal and Crete and Bordeaux, though it looks as if the Roqueterre Reservé Carignan 2016 from the Languedoc was “flying out the door”.
Jamie of Haven Shellfish at the Met
Superb stop in Nash 19 in Prince's Street where our generous host was, as ever, Claire Nash. She had some of her local producers lined up. Rupert was there with his cool cider and warm apple brandy from Longueville House while Justin Green was tasting his amazing Bertha’s Revenge gin.


That same gin had been used by Jack and Tim McCarthy from Kanturk in their sausages (no shortage of those!) and of course you couldn't leave without tasting the black pudding. 
Thumbs up from Tim Mulcahy of the Chicken Inn
And great too to meet Jane from Ardsallagh. Lots of new things going on there including her Feta style cheese and also her delicious creamy ash covered pyramid. She also had a selection of cheeses combined with a layer of chutney - the mango is superb. Watch out for these in SuperValu soon.
Market queue

The evening had started for us with a visit to the lobby of the Metropole Hotel where another superb host, Sandra Murphy, welcomed the guests, including Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald. Haven had their delicious oysters both raw (with a tasty salsa) and cooked and the hotel laid on some excellent sushi. And of course, there was a glass of bubbles on hand as well, wine and Murphy’s Stout too.

After that it was out onto the street to join the good humoured crowds making their way on foot and on bus to the many events all over the city. What a night!
Market Music



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!



Thursday, April 20, 2017

BLAIRS INN OLD BUTTER ROADS FOOD TRAIL FESTIVAL

BLAIRS INN OLD BUTTER ROADS FOOD TRAIL LAUNCH

Duncan Blair has been on to tell us all about their plans for the launch:

> We'll have special Old Butter Road Trail dishes on our menus throughout the launch weekend (28th April to May 1st). We'll be serving artisanal Butter Road cocktails and craft beers throughout all weekend. On Bank Holiday Monday at 4pm we'll be putting on a cooking, craft cocktail and beer Demo in our garden. We be cooking up dishes and breads featuring the produce of the Butter Road.
>
> Hake on Waterfall Farm Kale with a caper Beurre blanc
> Confit of McCarthy's pork belly with a Gubbeen chorizo cassoulet
> Nine White Deer Stout glazed Macroom short rib of beef
> Stag Bán beer & lime sorbet with a Longueville Cider foam
> 60 second beer bread
> Cotton Ball Stout brownies
>
> Richie will be showing off his cocktail skills using our range of artisanal gins, vodkas & whiskeys.
>
> We'll be giving out samples of food and drink. We'll also be serving a special three course dinner featuring the dishes from the demo.


Monday, April 10, 2017

Peppers of Mallow. Dine at the Crossroads of Munster

Peppers of Mallow

Dine at the Crossroads of Munster
Dessert

There is a lovely restaurant, serving top notch food, in historic Mallow. Near to the beautiful Clock House, yards from the statue of Thomas Davis and just across the road from the castle, you’ll find Peppers where they serve local and seasonal and serve it well. And you may wash it down with local beers and cider.

Called in there on a recent Friday night and were warmly welcomed by Diarmuid and his team. Soon we were studying the menu and the specials board and I was sipping from a glass of Eight Degrees Sunburnt Red Ale (€4.50). Indeed, quite a few of the Mitchelstown Brewery’s beers were available while the Cotton Ball (beer) and Longueville (cider) were also represented.
Croquette
Hard enough to make your mind up here as they have a big selection of starters and mains, desserts too, on the regular menu and then add in the specials as well and you have a dilemma, a delicious one!

Soon though we were up and running. I really hit the jackpot with my starter: Croquette of confit of free range chicken, smoked ham, Jack McCarthy’s black pudding, Jerusalem artichoke cream and apricot (€7.50). What a dish, full of flavour and texture and so well cooked and presented.


CL didn't do too badly either. She had chosen one of the specials: In-house smoked salmon tartare, Castletownbere crab, dill and lemon mayonnaise and Mulcahy leaves (7.50). Another tasty winner, underlining the restaurant’s commitment to local and doing it well.
Salmon & crab
 The high standard would continue. CL continued with the specials board for her mains, indeed continued with the fish theme: Roast cod with a warm potato, chorizo, sun-dried tomato, and red onion salad and wild garlic pesto (18.00). Another super dish.


Local food, local drink
I had noted the duck from the outset. I could have it in the starters but picked this beauty: Breast of free range Carrigcleena duck, charred leek, beetroot and soy glaze, Oyster mushroom, date purée and rustic potato (23.00). Every little bit on the plate contributed; even those potatoes were something else.


We were both very happy at this point but still had the inclination for dessert and we shared one of the specials, the delightful Buttermilk and Brown Bread Parfait, rhubarb poached in Dingle Gin, and Rose Crumb (6.50).

And the service? Well that was excellent too, very friendly and helpful from start to finish. Go on. Give it a try. You'll feel right at home here.
Cod
 And, before or afterwards, take a stroll around the town, that we so often bypass, and see the sights, especially the white deer in the castle grounds and some of the lovely buildings, including the Hibernian Hotel. I know there are a few scars left from the tiger but every town in Ireland has those. Businesses that support local, such as Peppers, will help the healing. Lets support them.

Duck
See also: Mallow. Where the white deer graze

Old Butter Roads Food Trail Festival. Launch April 29-30 in Blarney

Media release
Old Butter Roads Food Trail Festival
Launch April 29-30 in Blarney


A Food Festival to launch the Old Butter Roads Food Trails will take place in Blarney from 29/4 to 1/5 2017. The initiative is being developed by the producers, eateries and visitor attractions to celebrate the range of foods grown and produced in the Muskerry, Duhallow and Avondhu areas of County Cork. The idea started in Blarney through which the Old Butter Road used to bring produce from Kerry via Millstreet into the Butter Market in Shandon to serve the great maritime trade.  

The Old Butter Roads Food Trail escorts visitors through the fertile valleys—the breadbasket of Co Cork—where the rich pasture lands provide the most wholesome and delicious dairy, meats, grains, fruit and vegetables in the country.

The Festival will start on Saturday 29/4 with butter making demonstrations at 12pm and 2pm at the Butter Museum. In Blarney there will be talks between 2pm of 4pm at the Hydro Farm Allotments near Tower on the importance of growing food. A pony and trap will leave the Hydro Farm Allotments to deliver milk churns, the symbols of the Old Butter Roads, to businesses involved in Blarney on the Saturday afternoon about 4pm and be displayed by businesses involved in the Food Trail throughout the year.
Butter and Iron-age bread (by Declan Ryan)

Michael Creed the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine will formally launch the Food Trail at the Church of Ireland, Blarney at 6pm on the Saturday, followed by food tasting from the producers and eateries of the trail.

On Sunday 30/4 there will be a ‘walk & talk’ with Tom O’Byrne at 2pm at the Clogheen Milken on the importance of the ecology. The Gab storytelling competition will take place at 3.30 in the Church of Ireland, followed by Smokin’ Good Time event at 6pm at the Old Blarney Post Office Café showcasing smoked produce of the area. Guest speakers include Tim McCarthy of Kanturk, Patrick Mulcahy of Ballinwillin House and Longueville Cider makers.     

The Square Table restaurant Blarney will be hosting a food event at 8pm. It is a tasting menu which will showcase all the producers on the Old Butter Road Food Trail.  The Farm in Grenagh is holding an open weekend with butter making demonstrations on Monday 1/5 – International Butter Day.
Local food
The Old Butter Roads Food Trail will host events in Kanturk, Macroom, Mallow and Mitchelstown in the following few months to celebrate the food and drink produce of the area.


For Further information Contact      OldButterRoads@gmail.com

Maire ni Mhurchu      Tricia Cronin Rupert Atkinson     
Chairperson Secretary                     Mallow    
Activity Days                             The Square Table                    Longueville House Beverages

Tim McCarthy             Patrick Mulcahy                     Lenka Forrest
Kanturk            Mitchelstown                         Treasurer  
McCarthy’s Butchers  Ballinwillin House           The Old Blarney Post Office Cafe

Sat 29/4
12.00 & 2.30pm



2- 4pm     



5pm

6pm



                              8pm   



Butter Making demonstration at Butter Museum, 1 O Connell Square Cork (beside Shandon Bells)at 12am and 2.30 pm (€4 entry)

Talks on growing foods at Hydro Allotments Blarney

Pony & Trap deliver butter churns to Blarney businesses, start at the Hydro Allotments and arrive in Blarney

Cobh Animations Ladies in the Square 5-7pm

Michael Creed the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine will formally launch the Food Trail at the Church of Ireland, Blarney at 6pm on the Saturday, followed by food tasting from the trail.

Film The Old Butter Roads by Jasper Wynn in garden of Old Post Office & food from members ( or Church of Ireland if raining)











Sun 30/4
all day

2pm   



3.30




6-9pm







8-10pm
Farm Grenagh Open day

Walk at Clogheen Milken Fenn with Tom o Byrne Ecologist on the importance of Balance of the Environment

Gab storytelling competition final on topic of ‘Old Butter Roads’ at the Church of Ireland Blarney organized by Toasmasters and the Gab. Free Event/donations

Smokin’ Good Time an event at the Old Blarney Post Office Café showcasing smoked produce from the Food Trail Area. Guest speakers amongst others include Tim McCasthy of Kanturk and master of the art of butchery and Patrick Mulcahy of Ballinwillin House. Delicious  Longueville Cider will keep all refreshed.     
Taste of the Old Butter Roads at the Square Table, Blarney  (tasting menu showcasing all producers from the trail; pre booked  €55)

Mon 1/5
all Day


Butter Day - Demonstration of Butter making at The Farm Grenagh all day

Week 1 May

Blarney Library - display of books on Cookery, Farming, Dairy Science and  Old Ireland and Cookery Meeting to discuss cookery books on Wednesday am.

Thurs 4th Historical Society   Magic, Faries and Stories at Secondary School












Thursday, March 9, 2017

Ballincollig’s Multi-faceted White Horse

Ballincollig’s Multi-faceted White Horse
Satay skewers
You’d like a craft beer? An Irish gin or whiskey? Live Music? A play? A Brew Club? Good Food (great choice and price)? Get them all under one roof at the outstanding White Horse at the western end (the final roundabout!) of Ballincollig. I remember, in 1966/7, seeing this as a stand-alone country pub with briars growing up around the hanging metal sign that proclaimed the name. Some changes since!

Calamari
While on a visit there during the recent Cork Burger Festival, I promised myself I'd go back and check out the general menu, everything from a steak to a Vegetable Moussaka, from a Malaysian Monkfish Curry to Bangers and Mash. Not just any old bangers either, these are by Kanturk's Jack McCarthy, one of quite a few local producers supported by the bar. 

Other suppliers include Eight Degrees and White Gypsy Brewing, Baldwin’s Ice-cream, Pana Bread, Badger & Dodo Coffee and all their burgers are made of local beef. And burgers aren't just for the festival, they have four on the regular menu including exotically named ones the General Cleburne and the Seoul Food Burger!

 It seems to be a very popular spot indeed; we called in midweek on both occasions and the place was nearly full by 6.45pm. There are about 17 main course options, not including the daily specials on the boards.

My pick this time was the Malaysian Monkfish Curry: Monkfish medallions poached in a fragrant coconut curry with pak choi, ginger and lemongrass and served with steamed basmati rice. This was a warm creamy delight, aromatic and full of contrasting textures (€16.95).
Moussaka


 CL’s Vegetable Moussaka was another warm and filling dish: layers of chargrilled Mediterranean vegetables, puy lentils and ricotta cheese steeped in a rich tomato sauce and served with pitta and hummus and a large salad with chunks of Feta as well. Took a while to get through that (12.50).

Of course, we did have two excellent starters as well, again from a big selection. Mine was the perfectly cooked Chilli Salted Calamari, “dusted delicacies with salad tossed in a Caesar dressing and roasted red pepper and tomato jam”.
Monkfish curry
 CL too was thrilled with her opener: Chicken Satay Skewer (tender strips of Satay marinated chicken with a well dressed salad of carrot strips, peppers and onions). Both starters cost €7.50. Desserts - we didn't go there! - are mainly €5.95 and include Crunchie Cheesecake (a Friday favourite!), Creme Brûlée and Sticky Toffee Pudding.

And my craft beer on the night came from Tipperary. White Gypsy’s Weiss Bier is more or  less a favourite of mine at this stage. No live music on the night - Saturday for that. But it has its own music venue upstairs with regular performances by local and visiting acts and here too you can get to see the occasional piece of theatre. Not too sure where the Brew Club hangs out in this many roomed venue - I may track them down on the next visit to this lively spot where the service is both efficient and friendly! 

Beer, cider, and theatre

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Four Hands, Five Stars, One Michelin.

Four Hands, Five Stars, One Michelin.
JP McMahon at Greene’s, Cork.
Beetroot, goat's cheese
The event was billed as a Four Hands Dinner, the talented mitts of visiting Michelin Star chef JP McMahon (Aniar, Galway) and his host Bryan McCarthy accounting for the four. But there were many other hands in this marvellous meitheal, quite a few of those in Greene’s kitchen.

And hands too of a big band of their fantastic suppliers also played a part, producers such as Kanturk’s Jack McCarthy, Galway’s Bia óisin, Ballyhoura Mushrooms and the Lismore Food Company. 

Celeriac
 And so too did Fionnuala Harkin who told us a little about the “local” winemakers (mainly organic) that her company Wines Direct works with. And through the wines, hands from Austria, France and Italy, all contributed.

The enjoyable evening started with an aromatic, flavourful and aptly named Man of Aran cocktail in Greene’s highly impressive new bar Cask. They serve small plates here from the main kitchen so that’s worth a visit on its own!

Halibut
 Soon, at the tables in the main restaurant, we had a couple of what Bryan terms snacks, one of Ham and Seaweed, the other of Beetroot, Goats Cheese, and Buckler Sorrel. Those little beauties, with a little help from the Domaine Séguinot Bordet Petit Chablis, started the ball rolling in some style.

And it kept rolling with a Harty Oyster served with Sea Beet and Dillisk. The sea, oh the sea. And another sip of Chablis.  The delicious palate cleanser of Anise Hyssop and Gorse (the posh name for furze bush!) had us ready for more.

Sorbet
The plates were getting marginally more substantial as the courses continued. A lovely combination of Celeriac, Mushroom and Hazelnut, next appeared and Fionnuala wisely switched to a red wine, Jean Paul Brun’s L’Ancien, a light and lovely Beaujolais. So many people underestimate the gorgeous Gamay grape - this bottle could change a mind or two.

Time now for the fish: Halibut, Sea Radish, Bacon, Pepper Dulse and Elf Cap. Lots of flavours here but the star, as you’d expect, was the immaculately cooked Halibut. And the wine pairing was the fresh and well textured Grüner Veltliner from Kamptal (Austria) by Steininger.

Duck
 A little flavoured-packed sorbet was next: Preserved Elderflower, Kilbrack Apple and Sorrel. 

That was followed by the Skeaghanore Duck with Parsnip, Scurvy Grass* and Ramsons. The Skeaghanore duck is widely available now and a terrific meat. But hard to beat the way it was cooked in Greene’s, tender and moist. And that parsnip was fabulous too, possibly the best rendition of that vegetable  I've ever come across. 


Cheese
 The wine, it kept coming, had by now switched back to red, to Domaine Didier Charavin, Lou Paris, Côtes du Rhône. “That should work well with both the duck and the cheese,” promised Fionnuala and she was correct, again!

The cheese was Young Buck and came with pear and raisin and superb crackers by Lismore.  Were we finished? Not at all. One more course, one more wine.

Dessert
The dessert featured Rhubarb from Richard’s Little Farm in Doneraile and the sweet and fresh wine with the usual Italian acidity, the Bera Moscato d’Asti, was the perfect match for the beautifully presented sweet. 

Cheers to JP and Bryan and to the many hands, including those of the many efficient and friendly servers, that contributed towards a memorable dinner. Same time next year?


* Scurvy-grass was extensively eaten in the past by sailors suffering from scurvy after returning from long voyages, as the leaves are rich in vitamin C, which cures this deficiency disease resulting from a lack of fresh vegetables in the diet. The leaves, which have a strong peppery taste similar to the related horseradish and watercress, are also sometimes used in salads.