Showing posts with label Killorglin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Killorglin. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Coast, Cliffs and Chocolate. The Iveragh Experience: Killorglin to Ballinskelligs.

The Iveragh Experience

Killorglin to Ballinskelligs. Coast, Cliffs and Chocolate.

A special at Nick's Killorglin
Near Blackstone Bridge
Part Ring of Kerry, part Wild Atlantic Way. Part Ring of Skelligs. Mix them all up and enjoy the trip from Killorglin to Ballinskelligs, with a side visit to the lovely Blackstone Bridge and the Caragh River. 

If you are looking for a place to stay, there is no shortage. But I can heartily recommended the Carrig Country House, a lovely Victorian house on the shore of Carrig Lake; great hospitality and excellent food (including one of the country's best breakfasts). 

Just after one of those breakfasts, we set off on an inland spin, towards Glencar, a pretty place at the foot of the local mountains. If you don't climb, then there are many walks in the area, especially in Lickeen Woods.

Here too is where the Caragh River flows over the black stones that give the bridge its name. It is a picturesque spot and some fishermen were on the backs at the time. Later, we would drive up the narrow road to the Ballaghbeama Pass. It looks bleak on a grey day but splendid when the sun is shining. You can make a U turn at the top or continue on down between the mountains to Sneem.

The Kerry Cliffs
We came back and headed to Killorglin, passing the large statue of King Puck on the bank of the river near the bridge. There is a big car park just off to the right of the one-way (up) main street. We parked there and walked downhill with the church to our left. Then up a slope, again on the left, as a metal bridge loomed overhead. Up on the bridge, the old railway bridge, there are very good views of the River Laune and the road bridge that we just crossed.

Time then for a snack. We were in luck. Had spotted a sign for Jack’s Bakery & Deli, on Bridge Street, and it looked good. We were the last customers! It was just past one o'clock on a Sunday but they were about to close up, having sold out! But they did feed us, a couple of well filled baps (the last of morning's baking) and, as we sat down at the outside tables, a big slice of chocolate cake was added as a bonus! Thanks Jack!

On the Bolus Walk

By the way, if you are in Killorglin of an evening, you might like to try the well known Nick’s or their younger sister next door, Sol y Sombra. Nick's A la Carte prices can be a bit stiff yet one of our starters, Garlic Marinated Pan Seared Prawns with pickled cucumber and a herb vinaigrette, was one of the very best I've come across and worth the €12.50 price tag. You may also find good value in the set menus, including one that offers three courses for €28.00.
Mussel boat

You’ll see Cromane mussels on many a menu locally and the village is close to Killorglin and worth a detour. Here, you’ll see the flat-deck boats used for the purpose. No work though when I called on a Sunday. Would like to have seen them in action as I did in various parts of France, especially in Marennes-Oléron on the west coast.
Skywalker!

The Red Fox Inn seems to be a very popular spot with tourist buses. And, if you have 20 minutes or so to spare, you might be interested in seeing the adjacent Kerry Bog Village (fee) for “a snapshot of Irish life in the 18th and 19th century”. The few bog ponies and the Irish wolfhounds weren't overly animated and there were no mountain goats on our visit. There are a number of cottages, containing lots of interesting everyday memorabilia and, in one, the turf fire is blazing and the room is full of smoke!

On then to Glenbeigh. We took a walk on the nearby beach of Rossbeigh. It was windy and the wind sports enthusiasts were out in force. Didn't do Cahersiveen justice (another day!) as we drove quickly through heading for Renard Point to the south of the town to take the ferry to Valentia Island. No shortage of activities on the island as you may read here …
Bolus Walk
In preparation for your drive on the Skelligs Ring, you might like to visit the Skellig Experience (fee) on Valentia. It has a cafe but the offering is limited and average. Pick up the Skelligs Ring in Portmagee and make a visit to the Kerry Cliffs your first stop. There is a small fee but you get a good walk and a few excellent viewpoints over the impressive cliffs.

Continue to the coast and soon you'll see the signs for the Skelligs Chocolate (no fee). Here, you’ll get a warm welcome and get to sample their various offerings. If it is a working day, you'll see the produce being made. Lots of it for sale of course and I got some Strawberry and Champagne and also a white citrus (lemon and lime) chocolate. And they have the Puffin Cafe here as well. No sandwiches or anything like that. Just a treat for yourself. I enjoyed my tall glass of hot chocolate and a chunk of Rocky Road.
Skelligs Chocolate
Back to the road then, for a short spell. There is a great walk nearby, with views over the bay and the famous Skellig Islands. We drove to the trailhead but didn't have time to do the full walk around Bolus Head (it takes about three hours). But we did enjoy our hour in the sun with the blue sea on one side, the hard fields full of sheep and their lambs on the other.

Old Bog Farm
Kells Garden
Time then to turn around and head for Kells Bay and our final visit. Kells Bay Gardens is one of Ireland’s foremost Victorian Gardens and contains a great selection of southern hemisphere plants. The hairy fern tree plantation is impressive and there are lots of tree carvings around to amuse both kids and adults. The highlight - and it is a new feature - is the Skywalk, a shaky rope bridge over a stream. You’ll need your two hands here, so be careful with that camera.

After all the exercise, you’ll now be thinking about a well deserved dinner in the Lakeside Restaurant at Carrig House!
See also: Visiting Valentia Island
Lovely Dinner at The Lakeside 
Calm and Comfortable at Carrig House

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Superb Lakeside Dinner at Carrig House


Superb Lakeside Restaurant at Carrig House

Amuse Bouche
 If, as is said, location is everything, the Lakeside Restaurant at Carrig House near Killorglin, has it made. But, in a restaurant, food is all important and here too Lakeside is in a good place. Add location and that good food (not forgetting the impeccable service) and what more does a diner need. Good wine? You can count on that too. All organised by Frank and Mary who have been owners of this 1850’s house since 1996.


So book early (the restaurant is open to residents and non residents) and get one of those window tables, though you will be able to see the lovely Caragh Lake (it has its bad moods too) from most tables. 

Other nearby rooms are in play too as you begin your trip to the table. If it is cold or even cold-ish, an open fire is blazing as you sip an aperitif and study the menu in one of the ante-rooms. Here too, you’ll enjoy an amuse bouche and soon you are relaxed, ready to take the few steps to the dining room.

The long list of starters will almost certainly include their famous chowder and their Glenbeigh Shellfish Tasting. On our first visit (May 2017), I picked that Shell Fish combo: Steamed Cromane mussels, sage, cider, clotted cream, cockles tempura, Napa cabbage kimchi; shucked oyster, Prosecco granita. Well that fresh and chilly oyster was the star of the plate, no doubt, but the other, more humble shellfish, went down very well too. 

Meanwhile, CL was being royally entertained by her duo of Prawns: Poached prawn, watermelon, avocado purée, lime sorbet; crispy potato wrapped tiger prawn, physalis, and chilli relish. That lime sorbet was a terrific accompaniment and the crispy potato wrap another highlight.

She loves her rabbit and so once the Rabbit Loin with smoked bacon popped up, it was a cert for her. And a winner too, served with wilted spinach, Puck Fair Ale infused pear pearls (try saying that in a hurry after a few bottles of the local brew!),  Jerusalem artichoke, and bee pollen.
Rabbit

And I rarely skip a chance to indulge myself in Skeaghanore duck and this was another beauty. The full description: Skeaghanore Duck Breast, juniper spiced, blood orange, baby carrot, carrot and orange purée, meringue, lovage jus. 

And the wine? They have  quite a choice. And that’s before dipping into the Reserved Selection. Frank was host, a superb one I will add, and he helped us pick the Esk Valley Pinot Noir from New Zealand, one of quite a few wines from both old and new world vineyards, and a good one too.

The piano player wasn't on that particular evening but no need for music to put us in the mood for dessert. I spotted warm roast figs in one description and surrendered to the Warm Creamy Rice Pudding, a delicious and rich delight topped by those figs and served with a Port reduction and kataifi crisps.

The other dessert at the table was the Rhubarb Crumble Tartlet, spiced rhubarb jam, and frozen yoghurt, quite a combination and one that kept CL happy.

And the evening ended with another bonus, there being no need to go out at all. Just a stroll to one of the nearby lounges and a seat in the heat. Very Highly Recommended overall, not just the lazy luxurious finalé.