Showing posts with label Johnny Fall Down. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Johnny Fall Down. Show all posts

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The SpitJack's Superb New Menu. Amazing Cheese and Fortifieds List

The SpitJack's Superb New Menu. 
Amazing Cheese and Fortifieds List
Pom'O (right) and Ice Wine
from Glounthaune.

The SpitJack has hit the ground running in Washington Street and, with its first summer a success, has just announced its new winter menu. I took the opportunity to try it out in mid-week. The meats as you’d expect, as SpitJack is a rotisserie, are top notch but the real surprise was the new Cheese and Fortified Menu. Not too many of our top restaurants will match this magical list of possible combinations.

And the good news is that there is quite a local input. Near neighbours, Ardsallagh Goats and Johnny Fall Down, feature strongly. The inventive Glounthaune drinks outfit are doubly represented with a Pom’O Apple Port and a Rare Apple Ice Wine.

The Pom’O is based on the traditional Normandy pommeau (pressed apple juice with apple brandy) but the Glounthaune orchard has added a twist or two of their own to make this beauty. They used rare apples and then a combination of freezing and thawing, a year long fermentation and nothing at all was added to make the Ice Wine, the first Irish ice wine to be sold.

It is beautiful and rich and perfect with the cheeses that we had and with the Ardsallagh Ash Pyramid in particular. Ardsallagh have a much longer history in the East Cork area than Johnny Fall Down but Jane Murphy continues to innovate and this is her first ash pyramid. Made from pasteurised mild goats milk, it is formed into the traditional Valencay shape and sealed in ash. Got an early taste during the Culture Night but this is the first commercial batch and it won't be the last.

The Ardsallagh was served with Fig Compote. Our second cheese was a favourite of ours from our (too) few visits to the Basque country. It is a sheep cheese from Ossau-Iraty a area of the Pyrenees where we got “lost” once or twice. In the Basque country, they often serve it with a Black Cherry conserve (I use Loganberry jam at home!); last night, SpitJack’s Quince paste was excellent. 
Lamb

Then we finished with the Comte AOC from the Jura mountains, served with truffle honey. This 24 month vieux is a beauty, delicious, and enhanced by that honey. 

Other cheeses on this impressive list include: Brillat Savarin, Camembert Bonchoix AOC, Cashel Blue Mature, Durrus Og, Epoisses AOC, Manchego 18 months PDO, Pont L’Évêque AOC, and Stilton PDO. There are three Quinta Seara D’Ordens signature ports on the fortifieds list while dessert wines include Chateau Camperos Sauternes and a couple of sherries, a  Colosio PX and Orleans Borbon Manzanilla, plus the two Johnny Fall Down drinks. 
Pork

The new menu, like the previous one, is well constructed, in the sense that, if you wish, you can avoid meat in the starters and that’s what we did.

Salted cod is an Atlantic tradition so I was delighted to see the House Salted Cod “Bunyols” (€8.5) Catalan Style Cod Fritters, Flaked Salted Cod, Fried Crisp Exterior, Soft Pillow Centre, Lime Chantilly, delighted too that I choose this tasty plateful.

Across the table, CL also made a good pick. The pickled Heirloom Beetroot Carpaccio (€7) with Ardsallagh Goats Cheese Foam, Candied Walnuts, Tarragon Oil, Watercress, looked well and tasted well.
Beetroot

On now to the main event, as my Eight Degrees Sunburnt Red Ale sank in the glass. Time for the Rotisserie Pork Belly Porchetta (€17), Slow Roasted Pork Belly Stuffed with Sage & Garlic, Crisp Crackling, Kale Colcannon Potatoes, Braised Kale & Apple Compote, Sautéed Tender Stem Broccoli, Honey Mustard Jus. “Savage,” as we say around here. The word’s not the most sophisticated but, when pronounced with soul, means the meat (in this case) is rather good my dear.

And it also may be applied to CL’s earthy choice, a peasant’s pleasant pot in winter time of Brazed and Rotisserie Roasted Lamb Shank (€19.00), with Red Wine Glaze, Pearl Barley & Winter Vegetable Cassoulet, Crème Fraîche, Mint Oil, Braised Lamb & Brandy Jus. Local and seasonal, simple soul food, simple but superb.
Cod fritters

So two very happy customers and that was before the cheese and Johnny Fall Down took us to a higher level!

Check out the new menus and more here at SpitJack

The SpitJack
34 Washington Street
Cork City

0212390613

Monday, August 7, 2017

Taste of the Week On the Double: Crépinettes and Cider

Taste of the Week

On the double: Crépinettes and Cider


Just west of the city, Mark Hennessy raises a few free range pigs. To the east, Johnny Fall Down makes an award winning cider. Put them together and you have our Taste of the Week!


In the city’s English Market, butcher Eoin O’Mahony makes crépinettes (and more) from the limited supply of Hennessy’s pork. When I arrived there on Saturday morning, he had sold out but was about to make more!



In the meantime, I headed up to Bradley’s and got a few items including the 2016 Johnny Fall Down, reckoned to be better than the initial 2015 and “flying out the door”.

Back at the Market, I picked up my crépinettes (six for a tenner) and headed home. They were in the bag with the cider but I had no idea at all at that stage that I'd be putting the two together that evening.
 Had a chat with the official blog chef and hatched the plan. The pork would be started in the pan and finished in the oven, a  cream, butter and tomato sauce would be added along with some mushrooms. And we’d pair it with the cider. It turned out to be a match made in Cork (otherwise known as food heaven), just perfect.


Either would have been good on its own but together they were outstanding. The Johnny Fall Down Rare Apple Cider 2016 has an ABV of 5.8% and cost €7.50 for 750ml at Bradley’s. 

This pure, strong bittersweet cider is made from no less than 47 varieties of cider apple, most grown on the warm south facing slopes of Killahora. They warn that if you still have any lingering love of commercial cider, this will liquidate it!

Due to the limited supply, O’Mahony’s won’t have these crépinettes every week but Eoin may well have others. Recently he did kid and veal. On Saturday, Eoin told me he had six of Hennessy's hams curing so they should be available any day now!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Warm Welcome to the Spit Jack

Warm Welcome to the SpitJack
Just off the rotisserie
There is something special about going into a restaurant for the first time, meeting people you've never met before and feeling right at home within a few seconds. That was the feeling I got at The SpitJack, the new Washington Street (Cork) restaurant. And that was before the beautiful food began to appear. Big credit here to owners Richard Gavin and Laura Sureda and their wonderful staff.

Chicken Croquettes
The owners have spent a lot of time and effort, not to mention money, in getting this place looking perfect, a place where once a medieval lane ran through. Lots of exposed brick in both downstairs and up. The highlight is perhaps the skylight, or at least, the area under it. The ground floor bar is lit by this light and its shelves extend upwards to the roof. You can see it at its best as you go to the upstairs dining room (or the lovely semi-private room, for 8/10, just off it).

Both the medium sized dining rooms are lit by light from the south and are bright and airy and busy and buzzy, even if they are still in soft opening mode (that may change this week). I’ll let Richard and Laura introduce their place: The SpitJack is a rotisserie concept and the first of its kind, offering only the highest quality Irish produce. All of our menus revolve around the rotisserie and we are opened from breakfast to bedtime.

We, and indeed all customers, were taken through the details of the menu and there were helpful suggestions as to what wine or side dishes go best with your order. And service continued in that helpful vein all through the meal. We were guests but could see and hear that all customers were getting the same treatment.
Goat Cheese Salad
There is a full bar so a great choice of spirits, including Dingle Gin and Vodka, Gunpowder Gin, lots of Irish (and international) whiskey, also tasting boards, local beer (including 8 Degrees) and the lovely Johnny Fall Down cider (my choice on the night). 

Didn't get to try any of the many cocktails - they have their own mixologist. Here’s an intriguing one: the Barrel Aged Midleton Hip Flask (Jameson Black Barrel, sour malt and Chard reduction-recycled mash from our friends in Midleton, Lillet blanc and orange bitters. Just one of many.

Nothing gets wasted here; they are always conscious of sustainability, using surplus ingredients to make their own garnishes, infusions, purées, cordials and shrubs. “No ingredient gets left behind.” And they support local. Their meat, for instance, comes from O’Mahony's Butchers in the nearby market.

Scotch Egg
Down to business with Rotisserie Chicken Croquettes with a lemon and thyme aioli. Laura is from Barcelona and her influence was evident here in their tapas style opener. A delicious sign of things to come.

My starter was their Scotch Egg (soft egg wrapped in English Market Italian Sausage with a crisp crumb). Fifteen minutes is the cooking time but it is well worth the wait. Gorgeous and it comes with a beautiful salad as well.
Pork-belly
 CL went for a salad: the honey baked Goat Cheese Salad. It comes in two sizes! They use Ardsallagh cheese on crostini, carrot ribbons, cherry tomato, local mixed leaves and tarragon dressing, more or less the same salad that came with the egg. Another delicious combination.


My cider came into its own with my main course: Porchetta of pork-belly, stuffed with garlic and market herbs (sage mainly). And a tasty rim of crackling. Have had lots of excellent pork-belly since it came into fashion a few years ago but hard to beat this beautifully cooked effort. Great match with the cider!

You get one side (you may order more) with your mains and I was advised to take the classic potato and gruyere gratin. It was spot-on, a rich and cheesy delight. CL’s side - we did share - was another gem. The Rotisserie Roast Potatoes is a rather underrated description. The spuds, with little bacon bits, were roasted under the chicken, the juices falling down and working their magic.
Sides


The West Cork Rotisserie Chicken, by the way, spent 24 hours bring brined with Rosemary, Thyme and Lemon. And you get a breast and leg to enjoy at your leisure! Cooked to perfection and absolutely delectable. They’ve certainly mastered their roasting machine in the few weeks of the soft opening! 

And, of course, there was a sweet finish, a shared one. The dessert list is short but excellent. I noticed the rotisserie had come into play in one: the Coconut Panna Cotta (with Rotisserie Pineapple and a rum and raisin shortbread). As with the previous plates, there was nothing not playing a part on this one. The Panna Cotta itself was excellent while the shortbread made the taste buds sit up and notice even at the end of a magnificent meal.

Very Highly Recommended!

The SpitJack
34 Washington Street
Cork
Tel: 0212390613
Sweet

Monday, March 20, 2017

Johnny Fall Down. Warm Glounthaune slopes ideal for cider apples.

Johnny Fall Down

Warm Glounthaune slopes ideal for cider apples

A farm that has been recovered from a semi-wilderness is the unlikely scene for a craft cider revolution. Thanks to Dave and Barry of Johnny Fall Down we had a tour of the fields at Killahora (Glounthaune) last week where the south-facing slopes are planted with over 40 varieties of apple.

Not just apples. Pears are there in abundance. And other fruits trees too, including damson, plums. Even though this current operation started in 2010/11, there is a orchard history here, going back through the centuries, evidenced by an old wall (a relic of a walled garden). And reminders in the hedgerows, gnarled old crab trees and some wilding too.

And it is not just fruit either. Dave has a particular interest in trees and plants and so here you’ll find some rare ones, everything from tiny Bee Orchids to huge (not yet!) Sequoias.

They focus on the rare apple varieties here, Barry tells me, as we climb the slopes. “They give us more punch.” And you can try that for yourself. Their first product, the Johnny Fall Down rare apple cider, is available around Cork city in various pubs including Cask and The Roundy.
The south-facing slopes are ideal. It just seems warmer there. And, by the way, there is a fantastic view, a panorama of Cork harbour and estuary and the islands, including nearby Harper’s and Fota. And birds of prey hover above on the thermals.

All the apples and pears (already in flower) are planted in neat rows, all tidy and well maintained. But those twisted old crabs trees in the hedgerows are amazing. The first one that we saw had hundreds of little apples, many of them quite sound, on the ground underneath, months after they had fallen. 
Dave (left) and Barry

And they'll soon have company. Dave and Barry intend to plant fruits and herbs in and about the hedgerows. In a few years time, you'll see cherries and more in the wild.

We were just in time to see Dave do a bit of grafting, a Turner’s Barn pear was being introduced to its host Pyro Dwarf. First he cut the Turner’s, at about 45%, down to the Cambium (layer of tissue in the middle), and repeated the procedure on the host. Then, the tricky part, making a tongue and groove so that the union would be even better. 
from an old crab apple tree!

Then he bound the two with a bio-degradable tape (keeps in the moisture and allows the graft to take) and it was ready to go. “Not rocket science,” he humbly admitted. But still one just had to admire the enthusiasm and the precision as he demoed the ancient art. After the demo, it was work as hundreds remained to be done!

Then, time for a tasting, starting with some of the single varietals. Some had the acidity to the fore, others sugar, others tannins. Getting the balance right is the challenge for Barry in the months and years ahead.
Could be drinking from the fruit of this in about five years time!

It won't be just cider. Already one of their products, a pommeau, is being used in cocktails. Barry also plans a Perry, champagne style!  Perhaps the one that made the biggest impression on me was the Ice Cider, even if it was still only half-way on its journey. I usually - inadvertently, I hastily add -  pick the expensive ones. “A lot of juice required to make this!”.

And soon we would say goodbye and leave this beautiful part of the parish behind. The terroir seems to be just perfect for purpose and Dave and Barry complement each other perfectly also. Their knowledge and expertise is top notch. 
Pear bursting out

And there is enthusiasm in abundance. More importantly though, there is patience, there is no rush, they’ll wait for nature (magic in those hedgerows in years to come) and produce accordingly. I can’t wait to see what Killahora comes up with next but Dave and Barry can and their products will be all the better for it. Watch this space.

An old crab tree

And what of the man himself? We read on our sample bottle that Johnny Fall Down is a rare apple cider, bitter-sweet with an abv of 5.5%, made from 42 varieties of cider, many of them unique to the Glounthaune producers. It has a lovely light amber colour, bubbles galore on the rise. Aromas hint of really ripe orchard fruit and there are hints of tropical fruit on the well balanced palate. The "rosé like" finish comes from a mix "of rarer tannins" that have matured for six months. Well worth waiting for!