Showing posts with label Kerry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kerry. Show all posts

Sunday, October 21, 2018

‘Best Dining Experience' at Cahernane House Hotel



Cahernane House Hotel in Condé Nast Top 3  

‘Best Dining Experience' 
Eric Kavanagh

Cahernane House Hotel in Killarney has been shortlisted in the Condé Nast top 3 hotels for ‘Best Dining Experience UK & Ireland’.  Condé Nast is widely regarded as the ultimate globetrotting bible for even the most discerning traveller and features luxury hotels, restaurants and destinations from all corners of the world.  

The leading lifestyle travel magazine will hold its ‘Annual Awards for Excellence Dinner’ at the glitzy May Fair Hotel in London on Monday, 5th of November when the overall winner will be announced. Cahernane House Hotel, General Manager, Emer Corridan will attend the black-tie awards ceremony to represent the property.


Emer has been working at Cahernane House Hotel since 2016, managing the hotel and ensuring that each guest that walks through the door has a relaxing and memorable stay as well as leading her team to a four star standard and beyond. Emer as an individual can best be described the life of Cahernane with her passion shining through in her everyday contact with both the team and guests.

Cork native Eric Kavanagh is the Executive Chef at Cahernane House and leads a talented team in the kitchen at the distinguished Herbert Restaurant in the hotel. Before starting at Cahernane House Hotel in 2017, Eric worked at Longueville House in Mallow, Marlfield House in Gorey and Sheen Falls in Kenmare. He also spent some time abroad in Canada and New Zealand where he was inspired by the many international chefs he worked with.
Crab, cucumber

The key ingredient behind any good meal is the timing however, and Eric is keen to point out that he bases his menu and technique on what time of the year it is. 

“It’s a seasonal thing,” he said. “You want to make the food so it’s good, but that it also shows technique and it’s not over the top and there for the sake of it. You see what’s around, what is in season, and you put it together and you make sure that there is some sense of technique to it to. From there you test it, and if it works you use it, if it doesn’t work you keep adjusting it until you’re happy with it really.”
Cured Halibut, carrot, finger lime, Bergamot 

Cod
The Herbert Restaurant has two AA Rosettes and serves fabulous seasonal dishes prepared with flair and style by a hand that understands great technique with minimal fuss. We were on the Table d'Hote €55.00 menu and started off with an excellent glass of Prosecco. Delicious breads, including a treacle version and an onion one, followed as did an amuse bouche.
Raspberry mousse

No shortage of interesting starters on the menu and mine was a gorgeous Wild Boar and Foie Gras while CL was thrilled with her Castletownbere Crab wrapped in cucumber. A couple of palate cleansing "Middle Courses" followed, Cured Halibut for me, Clementine Sorbet for her. Two beautiful dishes, small but enough for the chef to again display his skills.

As he did again with the mains. Hard to top the Slow Cooked Guinea Fowl, with Mead and Soy, Pistachio, Pumpkin, Black Trompette Mushrooms, and Baby Turnip. CL enjoyed a beautiful fish dish: Confit Cod and smoked Cod Belly, with Seaweed Pastille, Cauliflower, Cabbage and Apple. Really high class stuff and all washed down with a PradoRey Verdejo, aromatic, elegant and expressive.
Figs

And did we have dessert? Of course. We had a couple of beauties, not from the usual list of suspects at all. CL was delighted with her pick: Iced Raspberry Mousse (Lemongrass gel, crème fraiche and coco snap) while I indulged my sweet tooth with Sauternes Infused Figs and Pressed Kefir (fig compote and wild blackberries). Quite a finalé!

Fancy a meal there? Why not check out their Autumn Escape Break (From €94.50 per person sharing) includes one night’s accommodation with breakfast and dinner in the fine dining, critically acclaimed 2 AA Rosette Herbert Restaurant (you can also enjoy a complimentary glass of prosecco when you book on www.cahernane.com). This lovely package also includes a complimentary art and history tour which runs each evening from 6.00pm. For more information on Cahernane House Hotel or to make a booking see www.cahernane.com or call (064) 663 1895.





Monday, September 17, 2018

No 35 Kenmare. It’s A Good Number!

No 35 Kenmare
It’s A Good Number!
Charcuterie Plate!

When they say Farm to Fork in No. 35 Kenmare, they mean exactly that. Their free range pigs are reared just about a mile away. And they don't have to go too far for their fish either!

We were there on a damp Tuesday night recently and the place, spread over two floors, was packed. A terrific buzz there and terrific food too from Head Chef Tony Schwarz and his team in the kitchen. The team outfront were excellent too, helpful and chatty, and efficient to boot.
Treacle and walnut bread

Luckily we had a reservation and were soon seated upstairs (those stair steps are very narrow by the way). I was aware of the pig farm so was concentrating on that on the menu as we nibbled at the excellent Treacle and Walnut bread that came with a seaweed butter.

I spotted my starter without delay: a charcuterie plate of salami, chorizo and coppa along with various relishes and gherkins, pickled cucumber,  Granny’s jam, olives, celeriac with mustard, capers, peppers. It was packed with good things, substantial and totally delicious.
Pork mains

CL was a little on the jealous side but I was able to share a few bits and pieces! Her starter was the Dingle Gin Cured Salmon, Cucumber: Ketchup & Soused & Charred. Not as substantial maybe but another excellent appetiser.

Cider and pork is always a good match so I was enjoying a glass or two of the lovely Stonewell Medium Dry. And I needed another one as my mains arrived. They do a Pork dish of the day and I tucked into the Collar of Pork, with colourful Mooncoin Beetroot, the excellent smoked black pudding, all in a red wine jus. A super plateful, great flavours and textures, aromas too.

CL got a lovely piece of Halibut, well cooked and neatly presented, served with summer vegetables, a basil pesto and red pepper relish.

Have to admit though, we didn’t make it to the desserts this time! It was a wet night, the last Tuesday in August, and we were not expecting to find so many in the pubs. But most were packed and most had live music. We finished the evening enjoying the craic, sipping a craft beer or two (Brú Pale Ale and the Tom Crean family Expedition Red Ale). Kenmare Abú!

35 Main Street, Kenmare, Co Kerry.
Tel: +353 (64) 664 1559 | Email: info@no35kenmare.com



Monday, May 21, 2018

Killarney: A Quick Visit


Killarney: A Quick Visit
Distillers from the 1800s remembered at Celtic Whiskey Bar

We were in Killarney for a short visit in early May. The intention, on arrival, was to eat outdoors at the lovely Deenagh Lodge but heavy showers put paid to that and we called to the Celtic Whiskey Shop & Larder, fast becoming a favourite of ours, for a light lunch. 

The Toastie Special with soup was ideal and came in at less than 16 euro for the two. The toastie was superb, on excellent sourdough, and the soup wasn't just a cup as you might expect for the price, but a big bowl. 

So, well refreshed, we were ready for a our water-bus cruise on the lakes. The rain had passed but it was still windy and cloudy as we embarked at Ross Castle. The boat was large, wide, and comfortable with a viewing area at the back, an area that was sheltered and I took the boatman’s advice and spent the trip out there.
Muckross Friary

We got an informative commentary - could hear him well out the back - and he slowed down, indeed stopped, at a few of the more interesting places, including Innisfallen Island. In other years, we’d have enjoyed the show of rhododendrons on some of the smaller rocky islands but the late spring had delayed the flowering. The trip took about an hour and cost a tenner; well worth it.
On the bus

In all the years we’ve been visiting Killarney we’ve never seen the Muckross Traditional Farm. The farm is quite close to Muckross House and there is an entry fee. The tour takes the form of a longish walk where you pass farmhouses and cottages of various sizes and vintages and hear about the good old days and the not so good. Lots of old farm implements around the place also, an old thresher, carts, and scufflers and so on.

Animals also. The Kerry cow, of course, and sheep and a few goats along the way, one with two very young kids. A sow too nursing a bunch of hungry bonhams. 
Lakes in the mist

Quite a few schoolchildren were visiting, which is a good thing of course. But a few of the exhibits were being reserved for them and that meant we couldn’t get into one or two rooms. Could these visits not take place in the morning when the farm is not open to the paying public? All in all though, it was a quite interesting visit and it wasn't just the kids that learned a thing or two.

The ruins of Muckross Friary are nearby but more then the six minutes indicated by a lady at the farm, unless walking over 1200 metres in six minutes is normal in Killarney! 
Kenmare Steeple

Again, we hadn’t visited before and on this occasion there were quite a few visitors here. The ruin of the 15th century friary is quite substantial, with views out to the lake, views than can be better appreciated by climbing up a few sets of steps. The cloisters are fairly well preserved, with a very large tree growing in the middle of the quadrangle. 

We also made a quick visit to Kenmare, including a recommended stop for excellent pancakes at the Strawberry Field, now celebrating 21 years in the Moll's Gap area. 

Then time to return to our beautiful overnight base, the renovated Cahernane House Hotel where we enjoy a terrific dinner, a pint or two in the reinvigorated Cellar Bar and a decent breakfast before heading home on the following day. A bientot, Killarney!

Kid on the Muckross farm



Monday, May 14, 2018

The Strawberry Field Forever. Well, since 1997!


The Strawberry Field Forever. 
Well, since 1997!

Where can you find a royal flush of organic cinnamon, cardamon and ginger? An uplifting organic lemony zing with a flying finish? Guilty Pleasures? Where will you find a toilet seat in a strawberry shape? Where can you find “the biggest little treat in Kerry”?

I’ll tell you. Coming from Killarney towards Kenmare, turn right at Moll's Gap and, about four kilometres out the Sneem Road, you’ll find the Strawberry Field and its Pancake Cottage on your right. Call in, and you will see the first two above on the extensive Pukka Tea menu; the third is a menu list itself of delicious pancakes.

Believe it or not, this rural treasure has been here, not forever, but since 1997. Then Margaret and Peter Kerssens opened their family business, now very popular with locals and tourists alike. The farmhouse itself has stood here looking out over the Kerry mountains and valleys since the 1800s and these days it is both a restaurant specialising in pancakes and also a craft shop (includes oil paintings by Margaret).

The wood-burning soapstone stove  is a focal point in the front room and indeed has a tank directly on top where water is heated. Up to thirty may be seated in this room at the large benches and there is room for another dozen or so in the craft room. The pancakes range from savoury to sweet, are pan-fried and made to order.

And there is quite a menu, ranging from a Simplicity section (eg bacon and cheddar) to Speciality (like smoked Irish salmon, leeks, spinach leaves and sour cream). There is a Classic Selection (think lemon and honey), the Guilty Pleasures (which also includes Nutella), and Fancy Fruity to finish with.

It was misty when we arrived shortly after noon. We concentrated on the Speciality. I picked the pancake topped with a local Farmhouse Garlic Cheese, Leeks, Walnuts, Ballymaloe Relish. Super stuff and a lovely lunch at a fair price. And CL was also very happy with her Good Stuff pancake containing: quinoa, strawberries, cranberries, onion, apple, roasted seeds, kale/spinach, beetroot hummus.

We also had a bottled fruit drink each, both from Serbia, an Strawberry and Apple along with a Raspberry and Apple. The bill for the four items came to about twenty two euro.

What else? Well if you don’t like pancakes you may have Soup of the Day, scones or Dutch Apple Pie. Decent coffee (Giuljano) here too and no shortage of teas. We’ve been there twice in recent years but have yet to dine outside as the weather wasn't kind. Third time lucky?

Co. Kerry
+353 64 668 2977 (they don’t take reservations!)
Open 7 days a week from Saturday 24th of March - end of September.
Opening hours : 11 :00 am - 18:00. Please note : last orders for food at 17:15, last orders for drinks at 17:30

Also on this trip: Cahernane House Hotel

Killarney. A Quick Visit
Dining at The Garden Room in the Great Southern


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Cahernane House Hotel. Renovated and Reinvigorated. And Ready for You.


Cahernane House Hotel. Renovated and Reinvigorated. And Ready for You.

Entrance and, right, evening view from dining-room

The high-ceilinged Herbert Room, the restaurant at the newly renovated Cahernane House Hotel in Killarney, has some beautiful views over Lough Leane right out to the high mountains. In the nearby fields, black Kerry cattle, horses and sheep graze and deer pass through heading to the safety of the trees for the night. Peace and quiet and just a few minutes drive from the town centre; indeed, you'd walk it in about 15 minutes.

We, of course, were there to dine and what a meal we had in the historic room, thanks to new head chef Eric Kavanagh and a very friendly, informative and efficient front of house team.
Dessert!

Beautiful breads and an amuse bouche got us off to a great start along with a sip or two from a bottle of delicious Verdejo, part of an impressive wine list. Starters featuring Cordal, the mild and delicious local goats cheese, and a very flavoursome Hay Infused Enriched Ham Broth with barley, were top notch.


These were followed by the Middle Course, 50 degree Olive Oil Poached Hake for her and a Buttermilk and Honey Sorbet with ginger for me, both gorgeous and not exactly small portions either.

Chicken mains



Time now for the main event and the standard remained deliciously high. My Cornfed chicken with Jasmine Tea and shiitake mushroom and more, was superb, a pleasure to dispatch. And CL’s line caught Cod, with smoked bacon dashi and seaweed was also exquisite.

Presentation had been neat and tidy all through but CL got a spectacular surprise with her dessert. Poached Rhubarb was the main description but the dish came in the form of a bird’s nest with the ricotta shaped into the eggs. My orange and almond cake may not have had the same visual impact but, served with lemongrass, yogurt, pineapple and white chocolate, it was quite a treat.
Breakfast, with Kenmare smoked salmon
We had stayed in the hotel at the end of 2016 and enjoyed the Cellar Bar there. This, like the Herbert Room, had been renovated but the change down the steps was spectacular. The bar itself is now at the other end of the space; there are new seats and more of them (the old ones had been comfortable but were coming to the end). And more tables are available and here you may have smaller plates during the day as a guest or indeed as a visitor. 


One thing that has not changed though, I'm glad to say, is that they are still serving a range of beers from the local Killarney Brewery and I was delighted to finish the night with their Scarlett Pimpernel IPA.


Our bedroom - we were media guests - was one of dozens upgraded over the winter. No cutbacks on space here and the decor is calming, greys and rose used. The bathroom is well equipped with a tub and a spacious shower and all the bits and bobs you’d need. And we had terrific views too. Depending on where you are, you may get the chance to see the deer on their early morning and late evening “migrations”.

In all, Cahernane has 40 rooms, 12 in the manor house and 28 in the Garden wing and another 22 are at the planning stage. There are still some minor works going on but apart from the driveway, nothing else for the summer months. Next winter the plan is to do the drawing rooms and the conservatory. There are some lovely public rooms here. And there could well be more, including an Orangery.





Hotel General Manager Emer Corridan told me that work has been ongoing over the winter months (the hotel was closed from January to March) and throughout the spring on extensive renovations to the historical property, and they are extremely pleased with the results. 

“The final phase of the refurbishment saw the total revamp of the Cellar Bar, which has re-invigorated the plush room into a homely and eclectic environment that feels as though it is steeped in history but is also fashionably modern. New life has been breathed into what was a beautiful historical building (1877) that had been falling into disrepair. Everything from the work on the bedrooms to the redesign of the restaurant has been carried out to the highest standards, and the feedback that we’ve received from guests has been very positive.”


Wheel rim lighting in the Cellar Bar.

“The extensive renovation to the Garden Wing has now been completed, with all 26 rooms being entirely stripped, modernised, and refurbished. Each room offers something different however, with every bedroom having its own personality that is portrayed through the wallpaper, paintings, and ornaments.”

The effort and the investment has paid off already with Cahernane recently included on the Condé Nast Johannsen’s list. No doubt the inclusion was aided by the wonderful location of Cahernane - it overlooks the Killarney National Park and the beautiful Lough Leane - and the fact that there are so many amenities and attractions nearby, not least the Ring of Kerry.
Main course of Cod at dinner

The Herbert Room is also the venue for breakfast. An excellent menu here. At the buffet, you have an extensive choice of fruits, seeds, nuts, berries, charcuterie, cheeses, juices, yogurts. On the hot side, you may order anything from porridge to the Full Irish.

We picked these items in between: the Smoked Salmon (Kenmare) and Bagel for me and the Buttermilk pancakes with Maple syrup for CL, both delicious and more than enough to keep us going for the morning.

Also on this trip:
The Strawberry Field and Pancake Cottage
Killarney. A Quick Visit
Dining in the Garden Room at the Great Southern


Thursday, April 19, 2018

36 hours in Killarney: Local Brews - Torc - Reidy’s Pub - Noelle’s Retro Cafe. Much more.


36 hours in Killarney 

Killarney Brewery - Torc Mountain - Reidy’s Pub - Noelle’s Retro Cafe. And more to see and do.

The Killarney Brewing Company has certainly made headway since it started a few years back, its products available in many of the local pubs and hotels. You’ll find it on the Muckross Road, less than a ten minute walk from the Main Street. 

There is a spacious bar here and there was a quite a good crowd in, many of them overseas visitors, when we called during a recent wet Thursday afternoon. Tours are available but you are also welcome to sit down and have a drink. Pizzas are also on offer and sixteen euro will bag you a pizza and a pint.

Torc Waterfall
We shared a paddle. A glass, somewhat less than a half pint, of their Red Ale, their IPA and the Extra Stout, costs a reasonable seven euro. 


In the nod to the local wildlife, the red ale goes under the moniker Rutting Red. Their take on an American style IPA is called the Scarlett Pimpernel in honour of local hero Fr Hugh O’Flaherty  - you’ll see his statue and read all about him at his memorial alongside the Plaza Hotel by the entrance to the park.

But it was the Casey Brothers Extra Stout (6% abv) that got our vote and we promptly ordered more of that. With some of the famous Flahavan’s Oats included, it is a smooth customer with an Espresso finish. Highly Recommended. 

Reidy's
It is named after the Casey brothers from County Kerry who had huge success as rowers away back in the 1930s. The most famous, Steve (“Crusher”),  was undefeated World Wrestling champion from 1938 through 1947. Extra indeed! But don't worry. Treat this smooth stout with the respect it deserves and you’ll go the distance too.

In Killarney on a wet day? Well, you may visit the big houses, Muckross and Killarney, and the brewery and more. Another good place to go to, certainly early in the year, is Torc Waterfall, as the flow will be at its very best. Despite the odd heavy drop finding its way down the back of my neck, I very much enjoyed the visit up the steps, past the lichen covered trees and into the soft mist of the falls. 


On a good day, you could follow the Old Killarney Kenmare Road and then follow the walk up Torc Mountain  . The views of Killarney and its lakes are stupendous. Well worth the effort.

Big Houses. Small Houses.

Fr O'Flaherty - the Scarlett Pimpernel
On the tours of the big houses, Muckross and Killarney, you’ll always here about the owners, the landlords, their families always named. But the tenants, labourers and servants are not. The big names may be gone from Killarney, but the families from the small houses, the cottages and gate-lodges, are still going strong, many of them involved in the care of the National Park, its flora and fauna. 

Indeed, they have quite a sense of belonging and duty. As Walter Ryan Purcell, a Regional Tourist guide, told me during the visit, they “get the park” and are always alert for anything, a zip-line for instance, that might harm the nature of the park. Why not remember them the next time a building is renovated.


I had linked up with Walter for a coffee at the amazing John M Reidy's  on Main Street, Killarney. The entrance(s) are confusing. Is it a bakery, a general merchant, a sweet shop? Basically, at least since its “second coming” late last year, it is a pub cum cafe. Loads of nooks and crannies, lots of memorabilia, outdoor areas too (a great place to be when the music plays in the evening), outdoor areas that can be screened off from the cool and the rain by substantial awnings.

Already it is drawing in some big names - musician Niall Horan chilled here recently. Killarney has always drawn big names, especially those of the film world who were regular visitors to the big houses such as Killarney House. Even that very evening, ex Taoiseach Bertie Aherne had the table next to us in The Brehon’s Danú Restaurant.

After Reidy’s, Walter took us down a narrow lane (almost directly opposite) to see Noelle’s Retro Café. She has an old bike parked outside. It is not as sprawling as Reidy's but again, there are quite a few rooms here, more than you'd expect and one at least is given over to the vinyl era. 

Boxes and shelves of long-playing records in abundance and indeed you may play them here on a turntable. Someone did point out that ear-phones are also available. Pretty good coffee here and pastry is also available.  This quirky Retro Cafe serves Breakfast, Brunch, Coffee, Teas, Homemade Pastries, Smoothies and is open seven days a week (9.00 to 6.00).

Walter, by the way, told me that the lovely Deenagh Lodge (where we met him and his lovely team last November) is due to have its seasonal reopening at the Easter Weekend.
Deenagh Lodge Tea Rooms
Dine and smile: Deenagh Lodge
Visit: 

Crag Cave: http://swissroll07.blogspot.ie/2016/11/crag-cave-underground-in-kerry.html 
Visiting Killarney's Big Houses


Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Skipper’s Next Port? Bon Voyage

The Skipper’s Next Port? 
Bon Voyage
Seafood Gratin

For the last eight years or so, The Skipper restaurant has been moored at Ventry, overlooking the nearby Atlantic Ocean. And fish from that ocean, delightfully cooked, has drawn customers here from near and far. 

But, aside from one or two farewell parties, dinner on September 30th may well prove to be the final fling for The Skipper, at least in this location. If a move is a must, and it looks like it, then owner-chef Paddy Chauvet, better known as Paddy The Irishman, may well turn up somewhere else on the peninsula, though Dingle town itself doesn't seem to be in the running.

But there were no tears, out-front at least, last Saturday night week, lots of humour among the front-of-house if anything. And the blackboard was, as always, in use. The pier is only 100 metres away and so the menu is subject to frequent change. If you're a meat-eater, you'll be catered for - Boeuf Bourguignon was on the menu. And there was even a Vegetarian Dish of the Day.

The wine-list seemed a bit run-down, there were red marks indicating “all gone” but there was still enough on the exclusively French list to satisfy most tastes. As it happened, I left the wine and picked a local beer, the delicious Beal Bán from the West Kerry Brewery which is less than three miles away.

The use of fruit pieces in the salads was a bit unexpected, CL first to be surprised when she started her Smoked Salmon Salad. It was excellent, the fish perfect, the leaves fresh as can be and nicely dressed and the melon and grapes provided an extra dimension.

The wind was blowing hard outside and my Seafood Bisque starter was nicely warm and full of flavour, and wouldn’t have been out of place on a seafront café in Marseilles.
Ray wing

Service was excellent here, casual but efficient, and always a chat or a joke and soon the mains were arriving. I picked the Ray Wing, not usually found on Irish menus.  It came with a caper cream sauce and rustic potatoes, leaves and fruit pieces of course. Quite enjoyable and, like most dishes here, well priced too.

CL's pick was the Seafood Gratin, a rather pedestrian name for what turned out to be a lovely dish. The gratin was presented in two large scallop shells with rustic potatoes, leaves and fruit pieces. All the leaves by the way were as fresh as could be and well dressed.


And there was fruit too in the dessert but different! We were unlucky that the French Apple Tart was off so shared the Raspberry and Strawberry Fool. We wouldn’t go back especially for that but would certainly follow The Skipper around the peninsula for his superb savoury stuff. And more so, if they leave those back-breaking church seats behind! Bon Voyage, Skipper!


See Also: