|Rosscarbery producer Avril Allshire with moderator Joe McNamee|
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Thursday, November 30, 2017
Winning Blas Producers
at Bank of Ireland Food Series
Bank of Ireland Startups, who helped get the successful Backyard feature off the ground during this year’s Blas Awards in Dingle, hosted a number of follow-up events last Tuesday, including one at their premises in Patrick Street, Cork. Joe McNamee was the moderator for the evening and the principal speakers were Artie Clifford of Blas and local chef Kate Lawlor.
Lia Boyland was involved in setting up the latest Workbench Food Series Event and she welcomed us to the Workspace at the bank, explaining that the digital progress in the banking sector has freed up the space for “events like this evening”. Work spaces are available during the day - bring your laptop - and you'd never know who you might meet.
We knew though we were going to meet Artie as not alone was he a panel member but he also launching the 4th edition of the Blas na hEireann Buyers Directory. Artie, involved in the founding of the Dingle Food Festival eleven years ago and in setting up Blas a year later, was delighted to launch the book here.
“Thank you all for coming. Eight thousand inserts (from the 10,000 copies) will be coming with your Shelflife magazine. It makes it easy for buyers and chefs to find good Irish produce. There is no charge for inclusion - it is something we want to give back. We hope this is a useful guide for sourcing Irish products and that many of the producers listed here will become your suppliers of tomorrow.”
There is a lot of work going into the new Blas website and it will include a searchable catalogue of producers, and will be ready soon. “Next, we want to do a roadshow during the year to build on it, to talk among ourselves, producers, buyers, chefs, and to get our own solutions.”
We would soon find out more about Artie, the face of Blas, as Joe McNamee asked the questions before the discussion proper (which would include quite a few producers) began. Artie, from Dundalk, was a commercial fisherman, then a ship's engineer and a skipper. In 1992, the work was in Dingle so that was where he went, his family still in Dundalk before they eventually joined him in Kerry.
Later, Artie worked in a fish factory, most of the output for export. When the MD retired, Artie took over and looked at adding value: smoked fish, paté, chowder and so on for the home market. But costs went up, prices didn't and eventually, in 2010, the company was sold. By then Blas was just a little baby and Artie was making a few bob at Farmers Markets.
And his future then began to take shape. He told us about the first food festival in Dingle and the start of the famous Taste Trail there. “People came back year on year. In the second year of the festival, the awards became part of it and we worked hand in hand.”
Chef Kate Lawlor was the other main guest on the night and, like Artie, she too has had her ups and downs and is fully committed to using Irish produce. An early visit to Brussels with her CIT class inspired that commitment. They were there to promote Irish food and a belief took hold that it was as good as any. She joined Fenn's Quay in 2001 and that “amazing journey” included taking it over in 2008.
“We built a bond with local producers. I enjoy food, it should be fun and that was why I used some of the local slang on the menu. Sad to let it go this year but the producers are still talking to me.”
After the closing down of Fenn's Quay earlier this year, she took a much needed two month break - “I had run out of ideas, though there was a sense of satisfaction as well as sadness. I enjoyed the two months off and a highlight was the weekend in Dingle. This year I had the time to relax and enjoy it.”
Immediately afterwards she joined the newly reopened Oyster Tavern and the aim is to get it back to its “iconic status”. There are great young chefs there and Kate is just the person to help them. It is right alongside the market so she is back in there buying local again. “The connection between chef and producers in very important. It leads to personal relationships and a better understanding of the product.”
After the introductions, it was time to meet the producers and we’ll cover the interesting exchanges in the next post, now available here.
Thursday, November 3, 2016
Rhone Week Dinner at Greene’s
Wine, Dine, Talk
The Rhone came to the Lee last Wednesday night, its two ambassadors, Bruno Boisson of Domaine Boisson and Simon Tyrrell of Les Deux Cols, introduced to the diners at Greene’s by none other than the Menu himself Joe McNamee. Top chef Bryan McCarthy ensured the food matched the excellent wines for the Rhone Wine Week Dinner.
Under gentle prodding from Joe, Bruno told us he is the owner of Domaine Boisson and that it has been in his family for 150 years. The little village of Cairanne is near better known villages such as Gigondas. He produces about 90,000 bottles a year, fifty per cent of which is sold in France. The Irish market is important to him. “It takes a lot, thanks to Tindal’s and their loyalty.”
|Bruno, Joe, Simon|
At 18 years of age, Bruno started Oenology school and later travelled to the Barossa in Australia. “It is important to see things “more global”, not just in a “tight” local view. While the family had been growing grapes for generations, it was only in the late 80s that Bruno’s father started bottling his own wines.
Cairanne “is becoming cru now. We are very proud of that and we remember the efforts of past generations”.
Simon’s trajectory was quite different to Bruno’s, his immersion in the wine business happening “by chance”. In 1989 he was working in Willie’s Wine Bar in Paris, a bar that specialised in Rhone wines. The interest grew and grew. By 2009, he had a small negociant business but decided to go further. Back to college then in the UK and, after getting much advice, he began to buy grapes and, by 2012 was making his own wine. And, just now, he has bought his first vineyard, near St Nazaire.
Simon explained that in the Northern Rhone, there is just one variety and that is Syrah. In the South, there is “more blending, less new wood.” “The wines are more generous, higher abv but they are balanced. There is something about Grenache based wines, lovely warm mouthfeel.” He reckons that they are very popular in Ireland because of our climate and gastronomy. “They have a roundness and warmth and nothing goes better with lamb.”
And what are the prospects for the current vintage? It has been getting a very good press, not just in France but in many neighbouring countries. Bruno revealed that friends of his are saying that the 2016 Chateauneuf du Pape will be “the best since the legendary 1990…. time will tell.” Both agreed that 2015 was a good year and Simon reckons that 2016 has even “more finesse, more acidity” and “will be better than 2015!”
Not all good news though. Later, after dessert, Simon told us that the well-known Muscat De Beaumes De Venise was struggling with much unsold as demand is shrinking for sweet wines generally. The producers are switching to making dry wines but then find that people are confused, thinking that because it is Beaumes that it must be sweet! A rock and a hard place!
Oaky, let’s start at the beginning of the evening and a lovely welcoming cocktail: Kalak Vodka Martini, rocks, twist. Kalak is an Irish made premium vodka, one worth looking out for!
Our first starter was Goatsbridge Trout and crab, cucumber, seaweed, squid ink, nasturtium, radish and this was accompanied by Vin de France ‘Les Terrasses’ 2015 by Chateau Pesquie, an organic blend of Viognier (70%), Roussane and Clairette. The 70% is significant as it is higher than the AOC rules allow and so the wine can only be sold as Vin de France. Demoted it may be but it’s a good one.
Next up was the Pork belly, Black pudding, apple, celeriac, and cider and the wine here was Simon’s Cotes du Rhone ‘Cuvée D’Alize’ 2015 by Les Deux Cols. “My staple wine”, he said, “named after a local wind and a blend of Grenache 60%, Syrah 30 and Cinsault (“the Pinot Noir of the South”). No oak here, just stainless steel. His idea was to make “a moreish wine”. Reckon he pulled it off!
After a refreshing Espuma, we were onto Wild Irish venison, artichoke, potato, onion, elderberry and Domaine Boisson’s Cairanne 2014. “It is important to understand the real place of wine is on the table with food,” said Bruno. “This was a little late but it has higher acidity so good for food. I don't want to get too technical, not too much cerebral. Just enjoy it.” We certainly did.
And Bruno had quite a family story for his next wine, the Massif D’Uchaux ‘Clos de la Brussiere’ 2011 from a disused vineyard that his grandfather bought in the local Cafe du Commerce (where you could buy virtually anything in the good old days). There was much rock picking to be done before the ground was cleared. “He picked rocks. We pick grapes.” The grapes are Grenache (60%) and Mourvedre (40). A gorgeous serious wine with bright fruit and spicy notes and quite a perfect match for Mike Thompson’s Young Buck cheese.
|In the Southern Rhone|
We finished with Chocolate Pecan Cremaux Tart, preserved cherry and pistachio and the Muscat Beaumes de Venise 2014 by Chateau Pesquie, a very good example, sweet yes but with the acidity retained.
Simon summed it all up: “A very diverse valley with a very diverse range of wines.” And he made a plea to please drink the odd glass of Beaumes de Venise at the end of your meals!
|Harvest in Cairanne|
Sunday, November 22, 2015
L’Atitude Hosts The Menu at Pieta House Fundraiser
|Joe's very happy with help from Derek (left) and Yoann (L'Atitude)|
It was a good night in L’Atitude 51, with Joe McNamee (The Menu) and Leslie Williams (Examiner Wine Correspondent) in command, Joe in the kitchen, Leslie pouring a selection of wines. And all present, customers, L’Atitude owners and staff, joining together in supporting Pieta House, the centre for the prevention of self-harm or suicide.
Pieta House offers One to One counsellling, Family support, Self/Family/Friend referral, and Free professional therapy. Pieta House in Cork is at Highfield Lawn, Model Farm Road and the phone number is 021 434 1400. See the contact details for other areas at www.pieta.ie
Back to Joe and Leslie who gave us a great evening, good food and good wine and a large measure of craic, all made possible by the staff at L’Atitude and the sponsors. Check out the list below, a list that includes many of the top local producers.
Bubbles were served as we arrived. Not just any bubbles. Ours came from the Wiston Estate in the South of England. This Blanc de blancs is very highly rated and produced by Limerick winemaker Dermot Sugrue. The same bubbles also made an second appearance, perfectly accompanying the Oyster dish. There was a choice here as the Oysters came complete with a shot of the new premium vodka Kalak.
|Leslie in action|
Have to say O Risal by Terras Gauda has been one of my favourite Albarinos for a while now and I was delighted to see Leslie pour it when the Chicken and Dillisk broth arrived.
Thursday of course was release date for Beaujolais Nouveau and we were treated to a natural one. “This is from the Gamay grape, a wine for pleasure. So drink it and be happy,” exhorted Mr Williams as he poured. He is always full of surprises and one was his introduction of a white Beaujolais, quite a beauty too, made from Chardonnay by Jean Paul Brun.
And soon we would have another unexpected twist from Leslie when he poured a Taylor’s Quinta de Vargellas 2012 Vintage Port to accompany the Beef Brisket. A lovely dish and a gorgeous port but did they go together? Opinion was divided!
No such divide though with the next pairing which saw Longueville House Apple Brandy matched with Tarte Tatin. A natural!
|Tuna by Sally Barnes|
Still not quite finished. An espresso cup of Golden Bean Coffee Halambo AA (custom-roasted for The Menu himself) was my finalé while CL went for the Kingfisher Teas Moroccan Mint Green Tea with Honey, a sweet drop indeed. And further sweetness at hand too as plates of Yoann’s Muscadine Truffles made an all too brief appearance.
|Beef brisket (O'Mahony's Butcher)|
PIETA HOUSE FUNDRAISER
L’Atitude 51, Union Quay, Cork
Thursday, November 18th, 2015
Miso & Saffron Butter, Sourdough Bread
Chicken, Dillisk, Vegetables, Herbs, Flowers
Bare Nekked Harty's Oyster/Harty’s Oyster, Kalak Vodka, Honey, Black Garlic Lime Mayo/
Rye Crisp, Mustard Crème Fraiche, Pickled
Cold-Smoked Loin of Tuna, Ballyhoura Mushrooms, Leaves, Radishes
Beef Brisket, King Oyster Mushroom, Oyster Mushroom, Leek, Radish, Cavelo Nero
Smoked Durrus Dote, Sheridan’s Brown Bread Crackers, Garden Cherries & Black Pepper
Tarte Tatin, Vanilla Ice Cream
Golden Bean Coffee Halambo AA (custom-roasted for The Menu)
Or Kingfisher Teas Moroccan Mint Green Tea, Honey
& Joann’s Muscadines Truffles
WINES DONATED BY
WINES DONATED BY
KARWIG’S Carrigaline, Marcus Gates
LE CAVEAU, Kilkenny, Pascal Rossignol
WINES DIRECT, Mullingar, Fionnuala Harkin
TAYLOR’S PORT Porto Chris Forbes
CLASSIC DRINKS Cork Steve Dwyer
PRODUCE SUPPLIED COURTESY OF …
Joe Harty, Harty’s Oysters, Gortnadiha Lower, Dungarvan, Co Waterford
Kirsti O’Kelly, Silver Darlings, Corbally Road, Limerick
Patrick Shelley www.kalakvodka.com
MUSHROOMS, CEP OIL, CEP VINEGAR
Lucy Deegan & Mark Cribben, Ballyhoura Mushrooms
Eoin O’Mahony, O’Mahony’s Butcher, English Market, Cork
COUNTRY BUTTER, CRÈME FRAICHE, YOGHURT
Alan & Valerie Kingston, Glenilen Farm, Drimoleague
Declan Ryan, Arbutus Bread, Mayfield, Cork
VEGETABLES, LEAVES, HERBS
Derek Hannon, Greenfield Farm, Knockraha, Co Cork
Tom Clancy, Ballycotton Free Range Poultry, Ballycotton, Co Cork
Sally Barnes, Woodcock Smokery, Castletownshend
Jeffa Gill, Durrus Cheese, Durrus, Sheep’s Head, West Cork
Bryn Perrin, West Cork Garlic, Enniskeane
SHERIDANS’ BROWN BREAD CHEESE CRACKERS
Jane & Richard Graham-Leigh, Cookies of Character, Dunmanway
Marcus Hodder, Yum Gelato, Crosshaven, Co Cork
James Scannell, Knockmealagula Orchard, Ovens, Co Cork
Marc Kingston, Golden Bean Coffee Roasters, Ballymaloe
MOROCCAN MINT GREEN TEA
Mico & Colm Hassett, Kingfisher Teas, Co Wexford
PREMIER CATER HIRE / NATIONAL EVENT HIRE CORK
PREMIER CATER HIRE / NATIONAL EVENT HIRE CORK
Monday, May 5, 2014
We enjoyed ourselves at Ballyseedy (Cobh Cross) yesterday as part one of the Hope Foundation's Eat4StreetKids ended on an enjoyable note. Amateur cooks of all ages brought their sugar and spice dishes - mainly sugar! - to the Bakestone Cafe where judges Lilly Higgins, Joe McNamee, Ali Honour, Gautham Iyers and Christine Girault had the tough (?) task of picking a winner.
While they were deciding, we were royally entertained by a lady originally from the southside of Chicago, Karen Underwood. Karen was delighted to help out and indeed put in a tremendous session.
Then came the judges’ decisions and there were quite a few prizes awarded. But really, all entrants were winners on the day, all willing to put in the effort, just like Karen Underwood and the judges themselves, to help out the underprivileged kids of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta).
We all got a chance to sample the food and must admit that my favourite was the Donkey’s Wedding Cake! Quite an afternoon and indeed, I was a winner myself, picking up a hamper of the famous Clonakilty Black Pudding in the raffle. I think the only thing I missed out on was the bouncy castle!
The fund-raising for the Kolkata kids goes on and the focus this month switches to participating local restaurants and their customers. There are a number of options for both. One suggests either the customer or the restaurant adding fifty cent for Hope to the bill and another suggests the customer posts a picture of a dish to Twitter or Facebook and the restaurant pays the fifty cent.