Showing posts with label Macroom Buffalo Mozzarella. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Macroom Buffalo Mozzarella. Show all posts

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Cafe Paradiso. Seasons On The Quay

Cafe Paradiso

Seasons On The Quay
Aubergine parcels
Flatbread and orange wine (Ageno)
Seasons come. Seasons go. Café Paradiso notes the comings and the goings in the fields, in the orchards, in the gardens. The orders go out, the fresh produce comes in. Seasons are key. And the customers keep coming to the amazing restaurant on Cork’s Lancaster Quay.

Good food calls for good wine and you get that here too on a finely selected list that includes quite a few organic and natural wines. And all are available in four sizes: 150ml glass, carafes of 250ml (quartino) and 500ml (mezzo), and the full bottle of course.

Beetroot rasam
We started our early evening visit with a few nibbles: olives, nuts and a delicious seeded flatbread. As we nibbled we picked our wines. My choice was La Stoppa Ageno 2011, a lovely orange wine, made by Elena Pantaleoni in Emilia Romagna (who'll be in Dublin and Cork next week with Le Caveau) while CL’s was the Terras Gauda O Rosal Albarino 2016, one of the best of that now very popular variety.

You may need a little help here with the wine and menu if you’re not a regular. We did and it was given freely and informed our choices. 

Roast carrots, cheese
My starter was the Roast carrots, Macroom buffalo mozzarella, burnt aubergine, honey, pickled fennel, ras-el-hanout crumb, a gorgeous plate, full of flavours and textures and not a little colour.

And it was the colour of the other dish that first caught the eye but CL’s beetroot rasam, cauliflower kofta, cucumber coconut raita, a warm soup, had much more going for it as well.
Lemon Risotto and Artichokes
On to the mains then where I enjoyed the Aubergine parcels of spinach and sheep’s cheese with beluga lentils, miso gravy, pine-nut crumb, samphire, and radish. I do like aubergine and it was brilliant as were the lentils, indeed everything on the plate.

CL meanwhile was delighted with her Confit artichokes, broad beans & scallions with lemon risotto, parsley broth, hazelnut crumb, and Cratloe Hills sheep’s cheese. Again every little piece was polished off and that lemon flavoured risotto was something else.
Pear, Pecan pudding
Vin Santo
 A short dessert list but no lack of temptation though I went a little off piste with Vin Santo with Cantucci Biscotti. And I enjoyed that sweet holy wine (sweet yes, but well balanced) as I begged for a few spoonfuls of the delicious Roast Pear, Pecan Pudding and Beamish Ice-cream that CL had ordered. That Pecan Pudding could be a dessert on its own.


All in all, a lovely meal. And indeed a lovely relaxed evening at Café Paradiso where the welcome and the service left nothing to be desired.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Veronica Steele. Pioneer in Irish cheese. Focus too on County Cork in new Oxford Companion to cheese.

Veronica Steele. Pioneer in Irish cheese.
Focus too on County Cork in new Oxford Companion to cheese.
A buffalo on Johnny Lynch's farm, near Macroom
Pioneer cheesemaker Veronica Steele is credited with the development of modern Irish artisanal cheese and County Cork cheese in general gets a section to itself in the The Oxford Companion to Cheese, due to be published on December 1st. 


The 1084 page book, edited by Dr Catherine Donnelly, is the first major reference work dedicated to cheese and contains 855 A-Z entries in cheese history, culture, science and production. 

In the early 1970s, Steele and her husband, Norman, a lecturer in philosophy at Trinity College Dublin, decided to leave the city and the academic life in favour of raising a family on a small farm. 

Veronica first experimented to provide an alternative to processed cheese for her family and to preserve the excess milk from their one cow. She eventually evolved a soft and pungent washed rind cheese called Milleens. It was a great success and by 1981 was selling in shops and restaurants throughout Ireland and as far away as London and Paris. 

Steele was also inspired by cheesemaking as a route to viability for a rural area struggling with high unemployment. Today, Veronica and Norman’s son Quinlan carry on the tradition of making Milleens, but the book says that all of Ireland owes Veronica Steele a debt of gratitude for her vision and generosity of spirit. 

The big breakthrough for Milleens came when Declan Ryan and Myrtle Allen tasted her cheese and enthusiastically featured their discovery on the cheese boards of two of Ireland’s most renowned restaurants, Arbutus Lodge and Ballymaloe House.

The West Cork washed-rind cheeses Milleens, Durrus, Gubbeen, and North Cork’s Ardrahan, each has an international reputation, and were all created by remarkable, spirited women, most inspired by Veronica. The flavour of Milleens is reminiscent of Munster (not the local Munster!).

Jeffa Gill started to make her semi-soft, washed-rind Durrus cheese on her hillside farm in Coomkeen on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula in 1979. She too was one of the first generation of Irish farmhouse cheese-makers. Using artisanal methods, Jeffa and her team, gently and slowly craft a cheese that is closely linked to the land and the mild and humid climate.

Gubbeen farmhouse cheese is made from the milk of Tom and Giana Ferguson’s herd of Friesian, Jersey, Simmental, and Kerry cows. One of the distinguishing characteristics of Gubbeen cheese is the unique type of microflora on the rind, which has now been identified and given the name Microbacterium gubbeenense.

Ardrahan, made by Mary Burns near Kanturk in North Cork since 1983, is possibly the feistiest and most pungent of all the washed-rind cheeses of County Cork.

Although the washed-rind cows milk cheeses have the highest profile they are by no means the whole cheese story of County Cork. Other fine cheeses, made from both cows milk and goats milk and now buffalo, round out Cork’s contribution to cheesemaking. 
Coolea

Dick and Helene Willems started making Coolea cheese in 1979 as a way to use up excess raw milk from their own herd of cattle and to provide the Gouda cheese that they were craving from their native Netherlands. Their son Dicky continues to make the superb cheese using milk from two local herds. 

Dicky told me an interesting story on a recent visit. Their cheese was to be called Milleens after the local townland but that was knocked on the head as the Steeles, further west, on the Beara peninsula, and living in a townland of the same name, had just started making a cheese called Milleens. And so the Coolea brand was born.
St Gall, by Fermoy
Frank Shinnick and his German wife, Gudrun, began making raw-milk cheese in 1996 from their own dairy herd outside Fermoy, in North Cork. The cheeses are made in a 396-gallon (1,500-litre) copper vat procured at considerable effort from Switzerland. Fermoy cheeses are part of the Slow Food raw-milk cheese presidium. 

There are many other cheesemakers in the Cork area, such as the O’Farrells in Carrigaline and the Hegartys in Whitechurch, both well established. 

“I love the smoked cheese”, declared Padraig O’Farrell during a visit. “It is indigenous to Carrigaline. The milk is local, and the wood, old beech, is local. And we smoke it out the back.”

Hegarty’s make cheddar and their more mature versions are in great demand. The oldest is indeed the more popular though, according to Dan Hegarty, his bank manager would prefer if the youngest was in top position!



Goats Milk Cheeses 


Jane Murphy

Jane Murphy, a microbiologist by profession, is perhaps the queen of goats milk cheese in County Cork, having started to make cheese on the Ardsallagh farm in 1980. At the other side of the city, Orchard Cottage thrives as does Blue Bells Falls in Newtownshandrum in North Cork.  



In Kilmichael, you’ve got the Sunview goats. Further west, on Cape Clear Island off West Cork, the remarkable blind cheesemaker Ed Harper makes small quantities of cheese from the milk of British Alpine goats that graze on his beautiful rocky farmland.

New Cheesemakers

Franco, cheesemaker at Toons Bridge Dairy, near Macroom
A few years back, neighbours Toby Simmonds and Johnny Lynch imported water buffalo and began making Toons Bridge mozzarella. A “parting” saw Johnny continue to make and sell the cheese, but now under the Macroom label.

There followed a burst of creativity at Toby’s Toons Bridge dairy and a few interesting Italian style cheeses emerged, including Cacio Cavallo (traditionally tied in pairs and transported to market by pack horse). And thanks to an Italian living near by, who has a small herd of sheep, Toons Bridge also began to make Vicenza’s Pecorino.
Cacio Cavallo (mainly) in Toons Bridge
And two new cheesemakers have emerged in East Cork this year. You’ll find the cheddar style cheese from the farm of Bó Rua used in the 12 mile menu at Midleton’s Sage Restaurant and on sale generally. Not too far away, Stephen Bender produces a delicious Gouda style cheese called Ballinrostig.

Looks like there’s no end to what Veronica Steele started!

The Oxford companion, the most comprehensive work on cheese available, has drawn on an astonishing 325 authors (from 35 countries), from cheesemakers and cheese retailers to dairy scientists, microbiologists, historians and anthropologists. 

It is a landmark encyclopaedia, the most wide-ranging, comprehensive, and reliable reference work on cheese available, suitable for both novices and industry insiders alike.

* Cork has a butter museum. Time now for a cheese museum?

See also:
Cashel Blue featured in new Oxford Companion to Cheese




Sunday, January 10, 2016

Cafe Paradiso. Back to the Garden.


Cafe Paradiso. Back to the Garden

Eden may have been lost with a single bite of forbidden fruit but the garden can always be regained, at least in the Cork region, with a visit to Cafe Paradiso. No fruit, no vegetable forbidden here! Every meal in the city centre restaurant reinforces what one of my friends, who travels widely in the hospitality industry, told me a few years back: "It is not alone the best vegetarian restaurant in Ireland, it is probably the best restaurant in Ireland".

And what is perhaps not generally known, except to the regulars of course, is that Paradiso has a superb wine list. The lower end and the slow-moving higher end have been chopped from the list and what remains is packed with quality, great choices, between approximately thirty and forty five euro a bottle.

We were part of a seven person group the other night so the wines were shared, along with many a good laugh. Good advice on the wine list is also available and so we started with the Höpler Grüner Veltliner 2014, 12.5% Burgenland, Austria and finished with the Friedrich Becker Spatburgunder Pinot Noir 2011, 13.5%, Pfalz, Germany.
Aubergine parcels....
Others we could have had included the Susana Balbo ’Crios’ Malbec 2013, 14%, Mendoza, Argentina and the Alvaro Palacios La Montesa Rioja 2012 in the reds while among the whites that caught my eye were Wittmann Riesling Trocken 2012, 12% Rheinhessen, Germany and the Dos Victorias ‘Jose Pariente’ Verdejo 2013, 13%, Rueda. But it is easy to get a good one here as the list is really superb. If you’re not sure, just ask your server! By the way, all the wines are available by the glass, by 250ml and 500ml carafe and by the bottle.

Back to the food then and I'm not going to bore you with all the details. We picked the three course option here and you have lots of choice for forty euro. Two courses will set you back thirty three euro.

I had been toying with going for the truffled sunchoke soup with hazelnut gougere and buttered shiitake from a list of six starters (all tempting) but settled instead on the Macroom Buffalo Mozzarella with roasted carrots, pickled fennel, chermoula, preserved lemon and pistachio dukka. Amazing flavours and textures on this plate and the roast carrots came in for compliments all around the table.
Choc dessert...

CL meanwhile was delighted with her choice: roast beetroot, braised scorzonera and Knockalara sheep’s cheese with watercress, orange pickle and ras-el-hanout crumb. Colour, flavour, texture all combined, the dish showing that beetroot goes as well with sheep’s as goat’s. Great stuff indeed.

There were also six choices of mains but, amazingly, the majority of our group went for the roast aubergine parcels of cavolo nero and coolea cheese with miso gravy, beluga lentils,

pumpkin gnocchi and a green pepper and caramelised walnut salsa. Aubergine is one of my favourite vegetables in any restaurant but this was vegetable heaven, every little bit, the gravy, the lentils. Even CL polished off the gnocchi, usually left on the side! “These were good ones”, I was told.

And you must try the sides as they are superb as well. They do include sprouts but not like you've known them. Here they are served with tomato, chilli and ginger and well worth the fiver as are the Paradiso chips with truffled aioli.

Time then, and desire too, for dessert. Lots of temptation but I made up my mind early on the Orange and Date Bread and Butter Pudding and its Rum Custard. Oh la la! And other desserts enjoyed at the table included a Dark chocolate mousse with gingered pear and salted caramel popcorn and also Vanilla pod ice cream with brutti ma buoni, espresso and a shot of frangelico. A sweet end to a terrific meal and service was flawless throughout. Very Highly Recommended.


More desserts, including popular Orange and Date pudding
The menu here is based largely on local and seasonal produce.  Gortnanain Farm is the primary source of veg (and honey). All cheeses (which include Coolea and Macroom) are Irish except for Feta and Halloumi. Mushrooms are Ballyhoura or foraged. More details on the restaurant, founded 23 years ago, here.

Cafe Paradiso
16 Lancaster Quay
Cork
(021) 427 7939
Opening Hours: Dinner Monday – Saturday, 5.30 – 10.00pm



Monday, October 5, 2015

Quinlan's Fish is the Supreme Champion in Blas

QUINLAN'S FISH WINS 2015 BLAS NA hÉIREANN’S SUPREME CHAMPION AWARD
Just slide your little finger under the central loop
and take this four pack away. You don't have to be
as strong as the legendary Tom Crean. 

- Cork-based Bainne Codladh take Best Artisan Producer for its Lullaby Milk -

A family-run seafood business based in Caherciveen, Co. Kerry, Quinlan’s Fish, has won the prestigious Supreme Champion Award at this year’s Blas na hÉireann, The Irish Food Awards. The company’s winning entry is its fresh crabmeat. The entry won over the judges’ taste-buds because of its fabulous flavour, freshness and delicate texture.

There were more than 2000 entries for this year’s Awards from all over Ireland, making it the biggest competition of Irish produce on the island of Ireland. Adjudication involved over 400 independent judges over a period of three weeks. The winners were announced on Saturday night, 3rd October in Dingle, Co. Kerry - Ireland's foodiest town.

The highly acclaimed Blas na hÉireann awards have been setting the standards for Irish food producers for eight years and the number of entries this year broke all records, proving the value and vitality of the Irish food and drinks sector. For the winners, these awards are known to open doors to new markets at home and abroad

‘We are absolutely thrilled,’ said Liam Quinlan of Quinlan’s Fish. ‘We have four premium fish shops as well as three seafood bars supplying our produce direct from tide to table. My father, Michael, started the business 52 years ago and it has been 52 years of hard work since then. This is the biggest award and honour we have ever received and I hope it shows that quality always shines through,’ said Liam.

The Best Artisan Award, also sponsord by An Bord Bia, was won by Bainne Codhladh of Kanturk Co Cork, who won with its Lullaby milk. By taking the milk from the cows during the night it contains naturally high levels of melatonin which helps with sleep. It is particularly effective for babies with sleeping difficulties.


Also announced as prize-winners were:

Best New Product (Sponsored by Invest NI): Wild Irish Foragers of Birr, Co. Offaly for their Honeysuckle Shrub

Best Artisan Award (Sponsored by An Bord Bia): Bainne Codhladh Ltd of Kanturk, Co. Cork for their Lullaby Milk

Best Export Opportunity Award (Sponsored by Pan Euro Foods): Hannan Meats of Moira, Co. Armagh 

Best Start-Up (Sponsored by AIB): Cornude Popcorn: Cornude Artisan Popcorn is a range of yummy gourmet popcorn flavours freshly made in the Liberties in Dublin. 

Best Seafood Innovation (Sponsored by Bord Iascaigh Mhara): Kinsale Fare Limited, Co. Cork for Hake in a Mild Yellow Curry

Rogha na Gaeltachta / Best Emerging Producer in Gaeltacht area: Macroom Buffalo Mozzarella, which is produced from a herd of over 150 buffaloes on a farm at Cill na Martra. 

Best Packaging Innovation Award (UCC School Food Nutritional Sciences): Dingle Brewing Company, Dingle, Co. Kerry which hand crafts Tom Crean’s Irish lager.

Producers’ Champion 2015: Minister for Agriculture and Food, Simon Coveney. Following a survey of over 2,000 producers, Minister Simon Coveney was selected by the producers themselves as their Champion for 2015, in recognition of his efforts to promote Irish food producers and their products at home and abroad.

See the full list of the 2015 winners here.


This year’s Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards attracted over 2,000 entries, making it the biggest competition of Irish produce on the island of Ireland. Every county in the country is represented. The final judging took place on Thursday last, 1 October at the Dingle Skellig Hotel. The winners were announced at an Awards Presentation at the Phoenix Cinema in Dingle on Saturday, 3 October as part of the annual Dingle Peninsula Food Festival. Prizes were awarded in some 100 categories.