Showing posts with label Jacques. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jacques. Show all posts

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Casa Silva Wines Impress At Jacques

Casa Silva Wines Impress At Jacques
No water? No problem to Casa Silva at Paredones 


Don’t particularly want to be anywhere else during this current spell of warm sunny weather but offer me a stay at the guesthouse in the Chilean winemaker Casa Silva and I wouldn't hesitate.

It is best best known for its Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc but, having sampled five of their wines in Jacques in a very convivial tasting last Tuesday, I'll be adding Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to the list!

David Prentice, Casa Silva’s European Commercial Director, was our host at Jacques and we soon had their delicious unoaked Chardonnay in hand. It may be their “entry level Chardonnay” but this comes from one of the country’s top producers and is well worth seeking out. You may get it for €12.50 at www.winesoftheworld.ie.
Two Cool from Paredones

David said: “We prefer to make the wine mainly in the vineyard. No oak here as there’s no need for it. The vineyard is 25km from the coast, cool at night and there is a short hot spike during the day, ideal conditions. Yield here is very close to that of Chablis.”

Five generations - a 6th on the way - show that Casa Silva is a family affair. “The first generation brought their vines from Bordeaux, in 1892! And the aim is to keep the business within the family. Seventy year old Mario Silva has dedicated much of his life to recovering the old vineyards and wine cellar and has acquired a unique understanding of the terroir in the Colchagua Valley.  He still works every day, still checking, still tasting.”

In Chile, you can find a micro-climate for virtually any grape. The long narrow country has the Andes to the east and the ocean to the west, desert to the north, ice to the south and, in between, there is a great diversity of soils and climate.

 Our next wine was the Sauvignon Blanc 2015 reserva and that went down very well indeed. By the way, David emphasised that they use natural local yeast in the majority of their wines.

They are not afraid to be brave. The grapes for the second Sauvignon Blanc, the terrific Cool Coast 2013, came from the Paredones vineyard, in an area where no vines had been grown previously due to lack of water. But Casa Silva pumped the water up from the river (filled by winter rains) and that storage “lake” is the centerpoint of the beautiful vineyard, now earning quite a reputation.

Here there is “granite, older than the Andes” and this Sauvignon is “more chiselled”, “more friendly than New Zealand counterparts, intense aromas, refreshing acidity. Paredones is very interesting,  has a great terroir, ideal temperature range (23 by day, 8 by night).”

And there was further proof of that with the next bottle, the Cool Coast Pinot Noir with its red robe that bit deeper than you’d expect, its inviting aromas of raspberry and strawberry, excellent balancing acidity, refreshing flavours and long finish. Very impressive indeed.

Such has been the success of this new vineyard that one or two other wine producers are now moving into the area. Los Lignes is another famous Casa Silva vineyard and the source of our final wine, a top notch 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. “The Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon planted here reach extremely high quality with unique character.” We could see that in our glass! Superb. The Carmenere is now on the wish list.
David Prentice (left) with Yours Truly

And with all that acidity and freshness calling out for food, the kitchen in Jacques stepped up to the plate, as they always do. Our first dish was Goats Cheese with Rhubarb and Orange on Toast, the second Fresh Crab and apple in lettuce, the finalé a terrific slice of rare beef, complete with potato, horseradish cream and a surprising smoked tomato!

So thanks to Casa Silva, to David, to Kate Barry and her crew from Barry Fitzwilliam and to the 38 year old Cork restaurant for a very informative and relaxing evening of good wine and food. Don't forget to check out the Casa Silva wines at www.winesoftheworld.ie, in your local restaurant and in selected off licences

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wines Of The Marques de Caceres. For Food, And Afterwards!

Wines Of The Marques de Caceres.
For Food, And Afterwards!

In Jacques Restaurant on Wednesday evening, a Frenchman told us the story of the Spanish family that employs him, before we got down to tasting a series of their gorgeous wines. 


The Forner family had been involved in wine for decades before having to flee to France during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), having “lost everything”.


Eventually, they began making wine in Bordeaux before, many years later, finding their way back to Spain to begin a winery in Rioja. Forner are better known to us as Marques de Caceres and the Frenchman, Florent Thibaut, is their Export Sales Manager. Florent was introduced to the attendance in Jacques by Dave Buckley of Cassidy Wines.

Florent started us off with a gorgeous Verdejo, saying that in fairly recent times, Marques de Caceres had began to make white wines in Rueda and Rias Baixas. “This grape is local in Rueda, giving a dry but aromatic wine, very pleasant on its own or with food (fish, salad).” It certainly was vibrant and fresh in the mouth with a delightful bouquet.
Next up was another white, their Albarino from Rias Baixas in Galicia. Think he said Galicia means mother earth, and he mentioned that the name of the wine indicated that it came, possibly via the Santiago de Compostella route,  from the Rhine (-rino) and was brought by a  monk (of course!).
He highlighted its minerality and said it is a great match with seafood, especially oysters. Jacques, who know a thing or two about matching food and wine, came up with some excellent pairings and the first was their Salted Cod Croquettes, a good match with the two whites.


Florent had excellent English and well able to hold his own in the banter that broke out from time to time. On being asked about the contribution of the Riedel glass to the wine, he said: “The glass is to the wine like the dress is to the lady!” Another quote, not from Florent, came to mind: Rioja wines are voluptuous; they  are round and full and rich. They are not Audrey Hepburn; they are more Marilyn Monroe.
So now we were on to those voluptuous reds, all from Rioja, starting with a very highly rated Crianza, which is for restaurants. “It is one hundred per cent Tempranillo from older vineyards.. with typical pepper, spice, a great choice with charcuterie, chorizo.., very much a wine for food… very pleasant but a serious wine.” Indeed, Excellens is a wine with great character and was quite a hit in the room.
And speaking of chorizo! As the reds were being tasted, Jacques served up a tasty dish of Basmati Rice, chorizo, peppers and chilli. Oddly enough, the Reserva didn't go down as well as the Crianza! Maybe, it was because “the nose was less expressive”. Florent went on to say that the Crianza “was more full-bodied, more tannic...for food.. Matches well with lamb”. And on cue, Jacques had some delicious lamb chops on the table!
In time too for the Gran Reserva which, Dave Buckley, told us “is not made every year”, only when  the fruit is very very good. ”Florent enthused: “And this eight year wine is very good indeed, from older vineyards. Very gentle, with smooth tannins. See that fresh colour…. Very fruit-driven, dark fruits.. Blackcurrant...that pepper and spice (from the oak) is there too..balsamic. For food, and for relaxing afterwards.”

Speaking further on this Gran Reserva, Florent noted its complexity and elegance. “Wine doesn't always have to be easy… sometimes you have to travel towards the wine.. From Cork to Rioja!” Reckon he had a busful of volunteers at that stage!

  • Most Rioja reds will have spent some time in oak. Check out the various designations below:
The green label (cosecha) indicates less than one year in oak, less than one in bottle.
The red label (crianza) indicates 1 year in oak, 1 in bottle.
The burgundy (reserva) indicates 1 year in oak, 2 in bottle.
The royal blue (gran reserva) indicates 2 years in oak, three years in bottle.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Munster Wine & Dine Launch. Up and Running!

Munster Wine & Dine Launch.
Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 18.57.59 copy.pngUp and Running!
Anthony (right) and Daniel (3rd right) at the launch.
The Munster Wine & Dine Circle is up and rolling. A full house at Jacques saw the 2016 launch in midweek. Lots of chat and information for the year ahead while Ummera Smoked and Stonewell Cider were the opening night stars. And of course, the kitchen at Jacques also played a blinder.

Munster Wine & Dine is a bunch of like-minded people, eager to taste the best the region has to offer and also to see how food and drink is produced. Last year, breweries, cider-makers, cheese-makers, gin producers, a smokery, and various restaurants (including Farmgate, The Tannery and Longueville House) were visited. And the coming twelve months should see something similar in the programme.

Last Wednesday though was the first step and here, Anthony Cresswell of Ummera and his brother-in-law Daniel Emerson of Stonewell told us about their enterprises. And they had some surprises in store.
Smoked duck, with its cider jelly!
We were each handed a glass of bubbles as we arrived and who doesn't love Prosecco! And some of us were fooled. This wasn't Prosecco at all but a sparkling cider called Esterre. Made exclusively from the beautiful Elstar Apple (grown in Tipperary and Waterford), Esterre is a sparkling cider "with reflections of a sparkling wine".  This is dry, really dry, is clean and crisp in the mouth with tart elements of the orchard and citrus notes and a smooth finish.

The first of our five courses soon appeared: Ummera Smoked Salmon with horseradish cream and beetroot relish. Delicious. Ummera is the only Irish smokery licenced to do both fish and meat. Smoked Chicken is always a favourite in this house and it was outstanding in Jacques with baby gem, pickled fennel and orange and was accompanied by Stonewell Dry Cider (the one that bites back, according to Daniel).

Then it was the turn of the Medium Dry Cider in a dual role. It accompanied the marvellous smoked duck served with a Kale crisp, a hazelnut salsa and a jelly made from the cider! Great match.
Stonewell's Tawny

The same cider also accompanied the next dish: Smoked bacon potato cake, crispy bacon, mustard cream and glazed apple. These Ummera rashers are amazing, perhaps the best around. And appreciated not just in Ireland. Anthony told us that a restaurant near the Spanish Steps in Rome is a regular customer. So if you get a great smell of rashers next time you visit the fountain there, then you know where it originally came from.

And the brothers-in-law had another surprise for us at the end. At least Daniel had. The cheese plate, with Knocklara and Durrus, was accompanied by a classy Tawny made by Stonewell from the fermented juice of Michelin and Dabinett apples and “elaborated with El Dorado dry hops”.  It keeps well and has an abv of 15%. It is described as “an opulent complex cider with chewy tannins and hints of fruit. Delightful as a slightly chilled aperitif but equally as a cheese or dessert accompaniment”. No arguing with that in Jacques last night.

Many of those present joined Munster Wine & Dine on the night and we are all looking forward to the events ahead. If you’d like to join, please contact the secretary at iwfsmunster@gmail.com. Below you’ll find a leaflet that was handed out at the launch and it gives a good idea of what you’ll be getting into!




We usually have something in the Spring. Last year we had a Beer versus Wine fight in L’Atitude. Don’t worry, no bottles or blows thrown. This year the plan is to get one or more of the new distilleries in to give a tasting. That will probably be in March or April.

Once the extra daylight comes in, we usually do a short evening trip to a local producer. Last year, we had a great time at Frank Hederman. This year, we’re talking to a local coffee roaster Golden Bean and hoping to get a local bean to bar chocolatier visit the roastery at the same time.
Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 18.57.59 copy.png
In the summer, we usually have a field trip. Away for the day and much of the night too. Last year was outstanding with a call to the Fermoy Natural Cheese farm, a visit to Dungarvan Brewing, a gin tasting and a fantastic meal at The Tannery. The likely one this time is being set up to include a visit to Cashel Blue cheese, the Apple Farm in Cahir, hopefully with the fruit trees in blossom and cider available, and a wine-tasting and dinner at Ballinwillin House.

We usually have two events in the Autumn. The highlight last time was a visit to Longueville House. A tour of the orchards (harvesting was in progress), then we saw the cidrerie and the distillery and there was lots of tasting, back then to the house to be greeted with mugs of mulled cider before settling into a great lunch, with wine and more apple brandy. And then a long snoozy session in front of the open fire before the bus came to bring us back. We’ll have to work hard to replicate that one! But we are working on a few ideas.

We also had an Italian night in the Farmgate. We may do something like that again as there are quite a few international chefs now working in the Cork area. It also depends a bit on how many new members we can attract. And we’re hoping to attract more as word of the massive reduction in the annual fee gets around.

You can see there is something in the provisional list for everyone. And we are open to suggestions. You can also see that there is plenty of variety each year. If you like good food, good drink, good company and a good time, you've come to the right place.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Munster Wine & Dine Circle. Launch 2016

Munster Wine & Dine Circle
2016 Launch - Feb 3rd in Jacques
Visit to Coolea Cheese 2014
The Munster Wine & Dine Circle will be launched next week (3rd February, 7.00pm) in Jacques in Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork. And it's going to be a spectacular launch, featuring the the wonderful Ummera Smokehouse from Timoleague and Stonewell Cider from Nohoval. Jacques have devised a brilliant menu using the Ummera products. 

MWDC Secretary Beverley Mathews is looking forward to the evening: “We are delighted that Anthony Creswell of Ummera will join us to give a talk on his incredible range of smoked products from the only traditional smokehouse in Ireland smoking both fish and meat. Anthony will be joined by Nohoval-based Stonewell Cider on the evening for a tasting of their products - these delicious ciders pair perfectly with Ummera's products.”


"You don't have to be a member to attend the launch. But we do ask you to consider joining. This newly formed group is open to all to join, including existing members of the the Munster Branch of the International Wine & Food Society."*

"As a result of the change, membership subs will be greatly reduced (see below) and our aim is to organise as many events, if not more, as we did under the IWFS umbrella, ranging from visits to producers, tastings, dinners, day-trips and much more. The committee already has a number of exciting events pencilled into the calendar for 2016."
Did someone say say cheese? Mozzarella maybe!
One of the Macroom buffalo
Events last year ranged from an evening visit to Frank Hederman’s, lunch and orchard tour at Longueville House, an Italian evening in The Farmgate, to a day trip to West Waterford (that included a visit to a cheese producer and a brewery, a gin tasting and a gorgeous meal at The Tannery).


Next week’s event is open to anyone who is interested in becoming a member of The Munster Wine & Dine Circle.  The evening (7pm start) will feature fun and an informal tapas-style meal during which you'll have the opportunity to meet other members and we will share the programme for the year with you.  Tickets for the event cost €25pp.


If you'd like to attend next Wednesday, please RSVP to iwfsmunster@gmail.com by Monday 1st February. Please pass this info on to anyone else you think would be interested in attending.  
The Annual Membership Subs for The Munster Wine & Dine Circle are as follows:  
Joint Membership €50

Single Membership €30
Longueville House visit was a 2015 highlight.

We will be sending out application forms shortly, but in the meantime, we would like to get an idea of membership numbers, so if you'd like to join The Munster Wine & Dine Circle for 2016, can you send an email expressing your interest  iwfsmunster@gmail.com .  

We hope to see you next Wednesday week in Jacques!


  • We wish to advise all our members that as of January 2016, the Munster Branch of the International Wine & Food Society has been replaced by a newly formed local circle which is separate from the IWFS. Memberships for the IWFS were due for renewal this month; however, due to high membership subs and a very unfavourable exchange rate with sterling which meant fees to remain part of the international organisation increased again this year, a decision was made to form a new locally-run society, which will carry out the same function as before (only without the international status).


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Jacques. The Gold Standard.

Jacques. The Gold Standard.


Barbecued Smoked Quail
For 35 years now, Jacques has been setting the standard for restaurants in Cork. With the Barrys' unswerving commitment to local produce and high class cooking, it looks as if the calm and comfortable Phoenix Street venue will be the benchmark for years to come.

Was in there at the weekend. There were happy sounds in the main restaurant and, going by the twitter reaction, these were matched by the murmurs of approval in their adjoining small-plate room that opens onto Oliver Plunkett Street. You may access both from each street. But be sure to book. This is a popular spot, particularly towards the weekend.

I started to study the menu and was immediately struck by the quality of the starter selection, that little bit different. I picked the Barbecued Smoked Quail with a sauce romesco (€9.90). This was superb, a tempting whiff from the smoke, and the flavours were spot-on, the Barbecue element was just so well judged, not too heavy, not too light, the sauce and salad were perfect as well.
Monkfish
CL’s starter was Knockalara Sheeps Cheese, pickled courgette, roast beets, crushed potato and praline (9.90). Again, this was so well put together, the Waterford cheese evenly scattered through the other elements and she was particularly surprised and pleased with the pickled courgette.

We had been looking at the Fresh Crab Salad, served with Bushby’s Strawberries (from West Cork), avocado, lime and pumpkin seed (12.90). Later, another customer told me enthusiastically that this was delicious. Other starters included Fresh Castletownbere Scallops, Fresh Mussels (with white wine and pepperonata) and Organic Purple Sprouting Broccoli (with fried duck egg and Hollandaise). Spoiled for choice!

And it is much the same with the main courses. Goatsbridge Trout and East Ferry Duck Breast featured as did a Ribeye Steak to share, also a Red Wine and Mushroom Risotto and a Brace of Quail (with Japanese Style Noodles & Pak Choy). And more, including their own special Irish Stew.
Photo: Jacques
There were also a couple of  fish dishes and we both agreed on the Tuscan Fresh Monkfish with cannellini beans, Italian Sausage and a wild garlic pesto. Exquisite. Bellissimo. A superb combination of flavours and textures and that little bit of pesto played quite a role.


Desserts? I’m sure they were brilliant but we didn't even look! One can have too much of a good thing here. Next time, maybe. Earlier, we did have a generous glass of their Albarino, sunshine and stone on the tongue and in the throat, great with the fish.


Jacques Restaurant is located at the heart of Cork City near the G.P.O. They are open Monday 10am - 4pm and Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 10pm. Lunch is from 12pm - 4pm, side plates and tapas from 5pm to 10pm and the  evening dinner menu is available between 6pm and 10pm. Very Highly Recommended. If you’d like to get a good idea of the place, why not try the €24 Two Course Dinner? Or some of their small plates and tapas?

Friday, February 27, 2015

IWFS Launch 2015 Programme at Jacques. Ardsallagh Cheese The Five Course Star

IWFS Launch 2015 Programme at Jacques
Ardsallagh Cheese The Five Course Star

Dessert, with Ardsallagh!
A totally unexpected gift from a travelling salesman started Jane Murphy’s long term love of goats and led to the beautiful Ardsallagh cheese that so many people know and love today.

Back in the late 70s, that insurance salesman in County Carlow wasn’t getting the best of receptions from Jane. During the conversation, he noticed, “couldn't help but notice”, that her children had ecxema and said that goals milk would be a help. Jane said thanks very much for the tip and sent him on his way.

An hour or so later, she sighed as he returned. This time with a gift. He lifted a goat out of the boot, presented her to Jane and carried on his way. She never saw that salesman again but the goat led to greater things, she recalled, as she introduced her current cheeses at the launch of the International Wine and Food Society Munster branch 2015 programme at Jacques restaurant in Cork on Wednesday evening.

With the help of a library book, Jane started rearing goats for their milk. Then she had too much milk and that led to cheese production. Then she had too much cheese and started giving it away. In the 90s they spotted a farm and a large goat herd for sale in East Cork and with the help of her “enthusiastic husband”, Ardsallagh was created.

This small family run business has grown steadily, and you can buy their products not only in local farmers markets, but also in national supermarket chains. Ardsallagh products can also be found on the menu of many well known restaurants across Ireland. The whole family contribute toward the smooth running of the farm and dairy. They use the ladle method, slowly and carefully, making a beautiful cheese that is easily digestible.

Oh, by the way, the eczema cleared up!


The Ardsallagh cheese was highlighted by Jacques with no less than five different plates of it presented, starting off with a Baby Gem Cup with Ardsallagh, apple, green onion, and Highball Orchard Syrup. Next up was a delightful Middle Eastern Beetroot, pureed with a little potato and yogurt and cumin and topped with Ardsallagh and Hazelnuts.

The dishes just got better. The guests were next impressed with Portobello Mushrooms stuffed with soft herbs, red onion, and Ardsallagh with Spicy Granola. No skimping by Jacques and soon we were tucking into the delicious Lamb Cutlet, tapenade, Salsa verde and Ardsallagh.

What would the innovative Jacques team come up with for dessert? Another delicious surprise: Medjool Date stuffed with Ardsallagh, Almonds and a full circle of Blood Orange. A beautiful sweet note to finish the evening.

It was a well attended encouraging launch for the local IWFS committee that consists of Colm McCann (chair), Eithne  Barry (vice chair), Beverley Mathews (secretary), Richard Scott (treasurer) and Billy Lyons (PRO). Next event is the Beer v Wine Smackdown at L’Atitude (Mar 19th), featuring Caroline Hennessy and Colm McCan.

Other events, dates to be confirmed, include A Day (and meal) at Lismore Castle, a visit to the Belvelly Smokehouse, a visit to the Leinster Branch, a summer road trip, a harvest visit to Longueville House, and an Italian Evening at the Farmgate Cafe. Don't forget to return your membership forms to Branch Secretary, Beverley Mathews, International Wine and Food Society, c/o L’Atitude 52, 1 Union Quay, Cork.

See also: IWFS 2015 Programme
Interested? Email iwfsmunster@gmail.com or complete this Contact form

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Launch of IWFS 2015 Programme

Launch of IWFS 2015 Programme
Cole cheese was one of last year's visits.

The Munster Branch of the IWFS is delighted to announce the launch of its 2015 programme and the first event on the 2015 calendar which will take place in Jacques Bistro, Oliver Plunkett Street on Wednesday 25th February at 7pm 

Jacques have chosen the wonderful Ardsallagh  cheese from East Cork as their theme for the evening and have devised a brilliant menu of 5 dishes using this amazing local cheese. Made by the Murphy family for more than a decade, Ardsallagh Cheese uses milk from goat's farmed by the Murphy family as well as other local farms. From small beginnings a lifelong love affair with the animals began.The Murphy children can remember having a goat in the garden for most of their lives and the hobby has grown into a successful business.

The evening will kick off at 7pm with a prosecco reception followed by a fun and informal tapas-style meal during which you'll have the opportunity to meet other members and we will share the programme for the year with you.  

Tickets for the event cost €25pp which includes the prosecco reception and meal. The event is open to existing IWFS members and those who are interested in becoming members.  

If you'd like to attend next Wednesday, please RSVP to iwfsmunster@gmail.com   by Monday 23rd February. Please pass on to anyone else you think would be interested in attending.  

We look forward to seeing you next Wednesday in Jacques!

Dinner at Heather, another of the 2014 highlights

IWFS Munster Branch - who we are: 
The Munster branch of the International Wine and Food Society (IWFS) was established last year with a view to bringing people with an interest in food and wine together to promote local food and wine businesses and also create opportunities for socialising and having fun with like-minded people. The branch organises a number of events throughout the year from food and wine tastings, dinners, talks, visits to producers, etc.., which members or guests can attend. It is open to everyone with an interest in food and wine and is not intended for trade. There's also the added bonus of international membership, which means members can attend various events being organised by the IWFS around the world. If you'd like to know more about the IWFS, you can check out the website here http://www.iwfs.org or send us an email.      

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Square Table Launched

The Square Table Launched
Big Night for Coolea Sisters


Top left: Graham Neville (l) with Lucy and Mark of Ballyhoura Mushrooms.
Top right: Cheers! Martina and Yours Truly.

“I wish the two sisters all the best. They have shown great courage,” said Michelin Star chef Ross Lewis as he helped officially launch The Square Table restaurant in Blarney last night. The two sisters are Patricia and Martina Cronin, both originally from Coolea and now well experienced in the restaurant world. Patricia is front of house while Martina (who has worked with Ross) is the head chef.

Martina has also worked with Graham Neville, Head Chef at Restaurant Forty One, who also spoke at the opening. Graham is rather modest and it took Ross to step in and remind us all that Neville is the reigning Food and Wine Magazine Chef of the Year.

The two girls also spoke and their first priority was to say a big thank you to the people of Blarney for their support over the past few months. Martina said they simply wanted to present good well sourced Irish food and had big thanks for three mentors in particular: Kieran Scully (Bayview Hotel), Ross Lewis (Chapter One) and, of course Graham Neville.

Their suppliers too came in for praise as did their local staff (“absolutely fantastic”), all their friends, family, especially Mum and Dad.

Ross Lewis, from Cork himself, said he knows the Cronins well! “The heroes of today are those who employ people. I started in 1993 and I know that success will come.” But he warned that staying power was needed to deal with the special demands of being an employer, including PAYE, PRSI, banks, teaching employees.

“The complexities are enormous. It is a very daunting task. But I know the Cronins are determined. Martina has the doggedness of a lion. It is amazing and great to see people that we’ve worked with get out on their own”.

The sisters were hardly on their own last evening. There was a terrific turnout. Suppliers present included River Wines, Ballyhoura Mushrooms and Pat O'Connell. The media and blogger world was well represented by Joe McNamee, Jack Power, Caroline Hennessy, among others. And no shortage either of fellow restaurateurs, including Nash 19 and Jacques.

The family were naturally up in force from Coolea and customers were also among the attendance. And, after the speech, Matina was back in the kitchen sending out a stream of gorgeous little bites including Durcan’s Spiced Beef, Ardsallagh Goat Cheese, Liscannor Crab, Michael Twomey’s Wagyu Rib-eye, Ballyhoura Mushrooms, and Old Millbank Smoked Salmon.

On the sweet side there were Macaroons, Poached Blackberries, Chocolate Brownies and a Lemon Cream and Blueberry meringue, all gorgeous. And no shortage of wine to wash it all down.

Thanks for the invite ladies and the best of luck in Blarney!


Monday, January 20, 2014

Hats off to Jacques!

Hats off to Jacques!
Hats off to Jacques.  Thirty three years on and the renowned Cork City restaurant, the oldest in town, is still setting the pace.

The Barry sisters, Eithne and Jacque, who started it all off, could be forgiven for sitting back and taking it easy. Not a bit of it. The award winning establishment, now with a small plates/tapas area recently added, continues to surprise.

“Every seven years!” said Eithne when we were in the other night. Every night really. I had started to look around for specials when I realised that the menu is really all specials. “We had a different menu last night. Depends on the market.” Now that takes some commitment.
Pigeon. Perfect!
And the commitment is extended to local producers, most of them named on the back of the menu. Some are well known, such as Breslin Butchers in the English Market, Gubbeen cured meats and Kanturk’s Jack McCarthy. Some are so well known, only the first names are used e.g. cheesemakers Giana and Jane. And the fish? “Well,” they say, “just look at the size of the Cork coast”.

And the sisters are delighted too to support the craft beer revolution which is quite strong locally with new breweries popping up all over the county. My choice in Jacques was the Kinsale Pale Ale, in its new and larger (50cl) bottle. One of the best ales I've come across (and I was in to Bradley’s the following day for more).

Now, for the food. Let’s take a look at the starters: Soup of the Day - Fresh Mussels with Chorizo Tomato and Garlic -  Crab and Apple salad - Salad of Blue Cheese and poached pear - Smoked Ummera Chicken.
The stunning KPA!
All tempting but I went for the Lambs Kidneys Dijon, with mustard, gherkins, apple and cream. The super sauce was one of the elements that made this a great success. And CL was blissfully happy with her flavour packed plate of Pigeon breast, white onion and thyme and Jack McCarthy’s Black Pudding.

We stayed on the game as we choose our mains. Mine was the Haunch of Venison on celeriac puree with some handsome robust kale, confit of shallot and red wine jus. A simply spectacular combination. so well executed.

And similar sentiments at the other side of the table as CL made her merry way through the Roast Pheasant, wrapped in pancetta, confit leg in potato cake, red cabbage and bread sauce.
A terrific choice too of main courses. Also on the list were: Scallops - Fresh Organic Sea Trout (with Goatsbridge Caviar) - Slow Braised beef short ribs - rib eye steaks - and a 7 vegetable Tagine.
Plum & Crumble
Seven temptations too in the dessert menu but, running out of space, we picked one to share and it was the gorgeous Plum and Walnut Crumble, well cooked and presented, underlining the immaculate attention to detail that prevails in this pleasant place. Here's to the next thirty three!

Tel : +353 (0)21 4277387        Email : jacquesrestaurant@eircom.net       Address : 23 Oliver Plunkett St, Cork
Jacques Restaurant is located at the heart of Cork City near the G.P.O. and is open Monday 10am - 4pm and Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 10pm. Lunch from 12pm - 4pm, side plates and tapas from 5pm to 10pm and the evening dinner menu is available between 6pm and 10pm.