Showing posts with label Mayo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mayo. Show all posts

Monday, October 16, 2017

Kelly's Butchers Newport. We Believe In Quality

Kelly's Butchers Newport
We Believe In Quality
Kelly's of Newport


For us, it is all about the food - the quality of the ingredients. You can be sure that we will always source our meat locally where possible, and if it's not local, it is always Irish. We believe in quality, in supporting our local farmers and Irish producers. We hope you do too. 

This is the philosophy of Kelly’s Butchers in Newport. It has stood them well over the decades. And I heard it reiterated at first hand from Paddy McDonald (Quality Assurance manager) and Ger Chambers (Production manager) during a recent visit. Both are fully behind it and you know there'll be no “rind emulsion” here. “Not as long as I have anything to do with it,” says a determined Ger.
Kelly's Kitchen (left) and the shop
Paddy is not a stay-in-the-office manager. He gets out and meets the customers, anywhere from Ballina to Blanchardstown. And he is thrilled, and encouraged, with the reaction. People can't believe the flavours. 

I recall craft beer guru Garret Oliver talking about introducing craft beer to people. They say this is nice, doesn't taste like beer. He had an explanation: “The beer they grew up with didn't taste like real beer!” So, Paddy tells his tasters about that good stuff that goes into Kelly’s products. They are reassured and delighted that they know now where to get the real thing. The principle put into practice pays off.
Black pudding on baguette for lunch
It’s not all serious stuff here though. Good humour abounds. Who else would take a black pudding in the shape of a pint to the prestigious Confrérie des Chevaliers du Goute-Boudin in Mortagne-au-Perche, Normandy? Better still, they won the gold! And Kelly's are proud organisers and sponsors of the All Ireland Putóg Throwing Competition  (shot putt rules apply) which is the highlight of the Newport Festival every August. 

Sean Kelly, the Mayo Person of the Year 2017, is the public face of Kelly’s, but it was brother Seamus who was in charge of the shop when we called and he proudly showed us their range of puddings (they produce much more besides): the black, the white, the black and white (half and half), and now the Vegetarian (delicious!). 
Quiche

We had arrived at lunchtime so were invited in next door to the café run by Shauna Kelly (Sean’s daughter). Had we been earlier, much earlier, we could have breakfast: porridge, granola, the full Irish of course and more.

But, being visitors, we were keen to sample the pudding and there was such a choice: black, white, seaweed and more. I went for the Black Goat  and that, with goats cheese and salad, kept me going for hours. There was also a white equivalent. CL dined well on her Black pudding and goats cheese quiche. 

Lots of meat as you'd expect from the shop next door but no shortage of fish dishes either and plenty of salads in a lovely room with warm colours. And you’ll also enjoy the homemade relishes and chutneys. Not warm enough outside for us, though it was a lovely day, but in summer you can dine al fresco.
Two of Newport's best: Kelly's puddings and the Greenway.
Then Paddy took us on tour. Their modern two years old facility is built onto the rear of the previous one (now used mainly for admin and dispatch). The process is streamlined, with the emphasis on hygiene, health and safety and efficiency. It works well throughout the week and here much of the credit goes to Ger Chambers.

When kitted out, Paddy took us through. Not a warm welcome though. His first stop was the Blast Chiller! Brrr… But it is a massive bonus for the Kelly’s as it helps increase shelf life of the products.
Yours truly with Seamus Kelly (left)
The different products and their different sizes were explained. Did you know four different types of organic seaweed is used in the Seaweed Pudding? The popular Hazlett (a traditional meatloaf, often eaten cold) has fresh leeks and carrots and 70% pure pork. It comes in standard size for domestic use and also in a 2.5 kilo size.

Putóg
And that vegetable pudding? You might think that this, coming from a renowned meat company, would be just a token effort. But nothing could be further from the truth. The Kelly name is on the packet so the best of ingredients are used and it is top quality. It was the first of the samples that I tried back at home and it is really very impressive.

While we were making our way around, taking in all the machinery and the storage areas, the crew were busy at work. The weekly schedule doesn't change much. Production in the morning. The early part of the afternoon sees the machines being taken apart and meticulously cleaned. 

Then the line is prepared for the morning. Ingredients, the spice, rusk or the oatmeal for instance, are lined up. And all is ready. We were there on the Thursday afternoon. And that following morning, black pudding would be produced, an amazing 3.5 tonnes of it! So you can see why the detailed preparation is needed. There’s a country to be fed!


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Lovely and Central. Westport’s Clew Bay Hotel.

Clew Bay Hotel (hotel pic)

Lovely and Central. 
Westport’s Clew Bay Hotel.
Westport is a great base to visit the many attractions of Mayo and right in the heart of this County Mayo town is the Clew Bay Hotel. It looks rather small from its frontage on James Street but it has over fifty bedrooms. No parking out front, unless you’re very lucky on this one-way street, but there is a pay carpark in the rear (turn left just before the hotel) and the Clew Bay will give you a display disk to cover your stay.

Darren and Maria Madden’s three-star hotel is very well kept and I very much liked the calm decor throughout. There’s a very helpful front-desk there too. They came up with that parking disc very promptly and arranged a taxi without fuss. Little things maybe but little things count! The room was very comfortable and, very importantly, the bed was top notch. Wifi pretty good too.

We had a fairly busy schedule and didn't have time to check out the Maddens Bar or the restaurant, or indeed the Madden’s Bistro that has its own entrance from the street. Actually we did have breakfast in the impressive large restaurant room, appropriately called the Riverside as the Carrowbeg River flows just alongside; it was flowing fairly quickly last week!

Pretty good breakfast there too. I had a tip-off on their own granola; it is good and I can highly recommend it. Good choices of cooked breakfast including the Full Irish and variations thereof, also kippers. Had a big meal the night before so I settled for the French Toast with spicy egg and that hit the spot as they say. CL enjoyed her vegetarian breakfast.

Lots of things to see and do in the area, man-made such as Westport House or natural gems like the bay itself and Croagh Patrick. There is a lovely drive to the west that takes you into the splendid Doolough and its haunting famine story. And of course there is the famous Greenway if you feel like walking or biking. 

Further out, there is Achill Island, unmissable on a good day, indeed unmissable on a bad day as well. To the east, near Castlebar, there is the National Museum of Country Living. The other three national museums (Archaeology; Decorative Arts & History; and Natural History) are all in Dublin.

I was also in Westport earlier in the year. Read what I got up to here,  including dining at The Black Truffle and drinking at McGing’s.
Clew Bay and islands, from lower slopes of Croagh Patrick


Mescan’s Belgian Beers from Croagh Patrick. Strong. Caveat Emptor!

Mescan’s Belgian Beers from Croagh Patrick.
Strong. Caveat Emptor!


I’ve been enjoying the beers from Mayo’s Mescan Brewery for a while now and their Saison has emerged as my favourite. Met up with Cillian O’Moran, one half of the team, last week and he told me that it is also a favourite in the brewery.

A saison-al tip:  I just came across this quote from Garrett Oliver, author and brewmaster at the Brooklyn Brewery:....the Belgian farmhouse saison style tends to add sharper bitterness, often alongside peppery notes. These beers make great matches for tangy fresh goats cheeses, and can be a great way to start off a cheese and beer tasting.

It wasn't the best of times to visit the very small Mescan operation as Cillian and his Flemish partner Bart were busy preparing for their annual Octobertfest at Westport House and that was where we chatted in the Autumn sunshine. Bart is the guy with the engineering skills, a very handy asset in a small-scale operation. They have been buddies for 20 years, both vets.

They admit on their Facebook that it all began as a rebellion “against our day jobs as veterinarians..we were feeling depressed about all the on-call in our job and the lack of time to pursue our other interests. We talked about what else we would like to do with our lives and pretty soon the conversation got around to beer. We love beer, especially Belgian beer”. 


As you may have guessed, Mescan make Belgian style beers. “We only make beer that interests us,“ said Cillian, “Beers that we like and find interesting. So no IPA, no Irish Red Ale. It is against our philosophy to follow a popular trend.”

That doesn't mean they don’t make popular beers! Their Blond was the first they brought out and has become a firm favourite with the public.

They also make some strong beers. I had tasted two recently, the Extra and The Tripel. We had a little chat about the two and I said the Tripel was my favourite of the two. “Interesting,” said Cillian. 

I think he would have been more pleased had I picked the Extra. This was an effort to make a high alcohol beer without too much fruit and there were some differences in the production. They started it cool, kept it chilled and then allowed a slow rise in temperature before a rapid rise towards the end of the process. Worth getting a bottle of each to compare. Might do the same myself, again!

“Seasonal is not a huge thing for us but we did a Kreik last year and there are still a few bottles around.” No sour cherries this year but they have now found a new source and you could well see another Kreik next year.

But a new beer is on the cards for Christmas. “We have tested a small trial brew and both of us were extremely taken with it. If the 2,000 litre batch is as good, then it may well become a regular.”

“We’re almost like the Galagapos Island of craft brewing, operating in an enclave of our own. No time for net-working!” But that may change as Cillian is winding down his regular job as a vet to go full-time in the brewery.

“I intend to work full-time but we’ll have to increase sales to make that doable. The small scale suits us. We are not building empires. I don't want to spend days in the office, not cut out for it. Small and natural is our way and that's the way we like it.” And it looks as if their punters like it that way too.

Mescan Beers:
Westport Blond (5.5%);
Westport White (5.0%);
Westporter Stout (5.0%);
Westport Saison (6.2%);
Westport Red Tripel (8.5%);
Westport Extra (9.3%).

Mescan beers, delicious and distinctive, are all bottle conditioned, so not available on draught. Keep up to date with their Facebook page here.

And where did that Mescan name come from? It’s named after St Patrick’s right hand man and personal brewer. They say that Mescan’s brews facilitated audiences with the chieftains when Patrick went out on his conversion missions!

And one more thing about these beers, these mostly strong beers. The bottles carry a warning for lovers: “Our beer adds to the desire but may take away from the performance”. Caveat emptor. 



Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Taste of the Week. Kelly’s Vegetarian Pudding

Taste of the Week
Kelly’s Vegetarian Pudding

If you think of sausages and black pudding makers in Ireland then Kelly’s of Newport are going to be in your short list. Must admit I was surprised then to find they make a Vegetarian Pudding, a really good one and our Taste of the Week.

So why would a butcher, a prize-winning butcher, make a vegetarian pudding? “Our customers kept asking us”. The challenge, of course, was to make it as tasty as their meaty ones. They think they’ve done just that and, having dispatched one here in Cork, I agree. 

By the way, Kelly’s puddings are easy to cook. Grill them or fry them to get that crunch on the outside. In a hurry, then pop a few slices in the microwave.


Oatmeal, onions, fresh eggs are among the ingredients. This is not a token effort for the vegetarians but a serious pudding (the Kelly name is on the packet!) that is a flavoursome addition to the breakfast plate, vegetarian or otherwise. Enjoy.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Five star grub in a roadside pub. The Tavern, Murrisk.

Five star grub in a roadside pub
The Tavern, Murrisk.
Amazing game pie

It had been a sunny day in Mayo but an autumnal cold had settled in by the time we arrived at The Tavern in Murrisk for evening dinner. We had been looking forward to the special menu, matching local foods with the fabulous Mescan Belgian style beers from a working farm on the nearby slopes of Croagh Patrick. We would not be disappointed. Far from it!

After a chat with host Pat Kelly, we began to study the menu. The Warm Silverhill Duck and Smoked Bacon Salad looked tempting as did their Award Winning Atlantic Seafood Chowder. But we each went for the Tavern Wild Atlantic Way Tasting Board.

This consisted of Cleggan scallops with Kelly’s Gluten free black pudding, bacon dust, rosette of Connemara Smoked Salmon, with Velvet Cloud Yogurt and home pickles, Galway Farm Goats cheese bon bons and homemade quince jelly. You couldn't get much more local than that and you'd travel a long way to get something better. Five star grub in a roadside pub. All washed down with the recommended Mescan beers, the Blonde and the White. A match made in Westport.
Starter

On then to the main event. The menu offered Fillet of Angus Steak, an offer hard to resist but resist we did on this occasion. CL went for the Trio of West Coast Pan Fried Seafood: Clare Island salmon, parma ham wrapped monkfish, fresh hake with lemon and dill butter, chive mash and mixed leaf salad. 

That piece of salmon alone would have made someone a fine dinner as would the monkfish. Quantity but more importantly quality. And the small things were well taken care also. The dressing with the salad was one of the very best we’ve come across. And to cap it all, the Mescan Saison was a perfect match.
Trio of fish

I had been looking forward to the Game Pie since I first saw the list. The mega mix included rabbit, pheasant and venison with a horseradish and cheddar mash and the pie was surrounded by a tonne of roasted root vegetables. And then there was a bottle of Westporter Stout to help it down. A memorable meal.

We should have had stopped then! But, easily persuaded, we shared a selection of desserts, with the Mescan Kriek: Sticky Toffee Pudding, the Tavern’s Homemade Brown Bread and Bailey's Ice-cream and, the star of the trio, Pauline’s Fruit Crumble with Irish Mist Anglaise. Before that, we had enjoyed a wee chat with busy Head Chef Pauline McGovern
Dessert

Quite a meal then, one that necessitated a walk in the cool, calm evening air before we called the taxi to return us to Westport and the lovely Clew Bay Hotel. And, by the way, if you in the Westport area and looking for a reliable friendly taxi-driver then try Conor at 087-2413722.

The Tavern Bar & Restaurant
Carrowkeeran, Westport, Co. Mayo.
Tel: 098 64060
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thetavernmurrisk/   
Twitter: @TavernMurrisk 


Monday, May 8, 2017

48 Hours in Westport. Sightseeing. Eating. Drinking.

48 Hours in Westport. 
Sightseeing. Eating. Drinking.
Keel Bay
Taking the long way round is a regular habit when I'm on the road and so, to get to Westport from Cork, I head to the Galway village of Leenane, at the inland point of Killary Harbour, as I want to drive from there to Louisburgh by the spectacular Doolough route.

Leenane
By the time we reached Leenane or Leenaune (you will see quite a lot of spelling variations of place-names in both Galway and Mayo), we were feeling peckish. The well-known Blackberry was still closed (at 12.15pm) so, after a stroll, we dropped into the nearby Sheep & Wool Centre for a bite. 
And we got a right good one.  They had a Soup and Sandwich offer. For €7.75 we each got a big bowl of soup and a sandwich. And not just your usual veg soup but a Tomato and Roasted Pepper (there was a choice of at least two soups). Great choices (12) also of sandwich fillings and dressings (7). 

For instance, I had tuna with salad and pesto on brown bread while Clare had chicken, roasted peppers, red onion marmalade. So they are not dishing out the same old same old. We thought the quality was very good as was the price.
Aasleagh
We noticed the Blackberry was open and busy as we walked back to the car, Minutes later, we passed the Carraig Bar, the last pub out of Connemara and then, all of a sudden, we saw the Aasleagh Falls in off the road. Walked in for a view and then drove on.
Doolough Famine Memorial

The beautiful Doolough area was, in 1849, the scene of one of the darkest events of the Famine. On a bitterly cold day, some 600 people in Louisburgh were seeking food or a ticket to the workhouse in Westport. They were told to contact the Poor Law officials who were, for some reason, in Delphi, about ten miles away. Some died overnight and the rest struggled over hills and mountains (no road then). The officials rose from their lunch and told the people they could do nothing for them and ordered them back to Louisburgh. No one knows how many died by the wayside.

Still incredibly sad, after all those years.

The Reek
 It is of course a short journey by car and soon we were passing through Louisburgh and on our way to Croagh Patrick. We had no intention of going to the top but did get about a third of the way up. It is rough enough with lots of big rocks and smaller loose stones but the views out over Clew Bay are magnificent, even on a cloudy day.

We stayed in the excellent Westport Plaza Hotel that night and enjoyed a lovely meal in their Merlot, a destination restaurant. Visited the bar afterwards. Didn't see any craft beer on tap. But they did have a fridge full of Mescan beer, 330ml bottles of local excellence!
 Mescan, by the way, was St Patrick’s brewer and no doubt the odd conversion was facilitated by a jug of his brew. The beer is still cloudy! Their Westport Blonde (5.5%) is superb.

But it was their Westport Saison (6.2%), more cutting, more fizzy, with clove and citrus notes, that I really enjoyed. Saison beer is a Belgian style brewed for seasonal workers. Reckon I'd appreciate one (or two) after a hard day’s labour or even after an idle day.
Westport House

 Day two was mostly an Achill Island affair. The sun came out and the lure of the Atlantic beauty was irresistible. We did the main drive, all the way through to Keem Bay. There were detours, of course. We took the loop to the south on the way out, the one to the north on the way back.


There were many stops to admire the stunning views over the cliffs and the seas, though the first stop was at the Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley castle, near to the lifeboat station.
The Pirate Queen's castle in Achill
For lunch, we dropped into the lovely Craft and Coffee shop called the Beehive in Keel. The food was excellent and very well priced (as it had been in Leenane). For just less than twenty euro, we each had a Chicken Bap (with a lovely salad) and tea, all served on beautiful ware by Shannon Bridge Pottery (Offaly).


Just made it back to Westport House about an hour before closing. The house, by the way, now has new local owners who have promised investment and improvements. We had a quick enough look-around upstairs and downstairs. Even visited the dungeon though spent more time in the extensive wine-cellar (now unfortunately empty, aside from a few old wooden markers).

Achill, above and below

We wouldn't be short of wine though when we visited the excellent Black Truffle Bistro in the town centre for a smashing dinner, a dinner that included one of the best fish dishes I’ve ever eaten.

Time then for another taste of the local brews and we headed up to the lively McGings. I passed the night - we had music by DramaCode later - with Clifford's Connacht Champion, or 3C for short, a refreshing golden ale (4%), one of the beers from the Clew Bay Brewery. 


Westport House, in the wine cellar
CL settled on a very nice and refreshing Achill beer, made using water from a local corrie lough and Carrigeen moss. 


Each beer came in its own proper glass; McGings don't do things by halves. Staff there are brilliant, very helpful if you are not acquainted with the beers (they include Franciscan Well Chieftain Pale Ale in their selection). The perfect end to another good day in Mayo.




The Black Truffle. A Westport gem that doesn’t cost the earth


The Black Truffle. 
A Westport gem that doesn’t cost the earth.

The Black Truffle is a new culinary gem in Westport, a very reasonably priced gem even it’s called after the expensive French black truffle (Tuber melanosporum), from the Dordogne. Here, on the €25.00 euro menu, you can enjoy three high standard courses, most of which feature on the A La Carte. It is indeed a French style bistro, as they claim, and comes with bistro prices.
I’ll let the owners, Dominique and Anna Miralles, explain: Cooking has always been our passion and here, in this humble French style bistro, we would like to share some of it with you. Working with Irish suppliers, we aim to get the best out of local produce to create simple and delicious dishes. We focus on modern, ambitious cooking using sophisticated techniques. To live up to its name ' the bistro', here at The Black Truffle we serve moderately priced meals, bringing, but not exclusively, some of the French classics.
Three alcohols!
We were there recently on a Friday night and had much to choose from the A La Carte. We were tempted by the Seared Scallops (with sweetcorn and lemongrass velouté, marsh samphire), the star starter.

CL though likes her mussels in a tomato sauce and went for the Chef’s Mussels in Tomato Sauce, saffron, flambéed with pastis and cognac (7.50). Now she likes her mussels in pastis and brandy and, as the chef Dominique later explained, white wine was the third alcohol in a lovely flavourful bowl of the bivalves. The mussels looked well and so did my Ibérico Ham, pickled cucumber, relish, quails eggs, and aioli (8.95).

The mussels (in an even bigger bowl) and Angus Steak both featured among the main course choices along with a tempting Pulled Brisket option. CL though plumped for a French classic: Duck Leg Confit, orange confit, glazed carrots, celeriac and beetroot shavings (19.95). Another superbly executed dish, perfect in every way.

She was happy and I was even happier with my simply described Seafood Gratin. Simple yes, and simply superb, one of the best seafood dishes I've come across in a long long time. I’ll give it its full title: Seafood Gratin, julienne of vegetables, mussels, scallops, smoked cod, hake, and sauce velouté (19.95).
The dessert list was short with a few simple titles also, including Lemon Tart (6.50). Again, no disappointment here, just top class. I like my Crème Brûlée and I like their Pistachio and White Chocolate Crème Brûlée even more. A lovely end to a delicious meal.

No shortage of teas or coffees in this simply furnished but very comfortable place which opened two months ago. The wine list is short but well chosen. The service is excellent, friendly and chatty. And, of course, the food is par excellence.

See also: 48 Hours in Westport


3 Market Lane, 
Bridge Street, 
Westport, 
Co. Mayo
Tel: (098) 25912

Sunday, September 4, 2016

On Whiskey Trail in Mayo. Visit to the Connacht Distillery

On Whiskey Trail in Mayo
Visit to the new Connacht Distillery
Connacht Distillery
Last weekend, after a drive from Donegal, we made it just  in time to take the 12.30pm tour of the new Connacht Distillery in Ballina, County Mayo. What else would you be doing on a Sunday morning!

Aside from a spanking new distillery, you need water, barley and yeast to make whiskey. Connacht get their water, clean water, from Lough Conn and Lough Cullen. Lots of iron and calcium in the water so it has to be demineralised before being used in the distilling process.

The malted barley, having come through the milling stage, meets up with the warmed water in the boiler tank. This liquid-y mix is called the mash and is put into the mash tun, another tank.  The sugar, from the barley, dissolves and is drawn off through the bottom of the mash tun. The resulting liquid is called 'wort'. Lautering is the next process, in the third tank (the Lauter tun), and here the mash is separated into the clear liquid wort and the residual grain.
Now we are on to the three wash vats, all stainless steel. Here, the yeast is added and begins to act on the sugar in the wort, turning it into alcohol over a period of two to four days. This wash is low in alcohol, much the same as that of wine.

Our guide now enthusiastically points to their three gleaming stills, which were made in Victoria, Canada. They have different necks which influence character and texture etc. The first tank is called Wash; the alcohol evaporates up the neck and leaves this tank at about 20% abv.

On then to the Feint tank where the process is repeated and the alcohol increases, this time to about 35%. The final, the third, tank is called the Spirit. Irish whiskeys are traditionally triple distilled. When the Spirit has done its work, the liquid, still clear (no colour) has an abv of about 70%!
Ballina last Sunday (28.08.16)
You’ve heard of flying winemakers. Well Connacht’s distiller Rob runs two distilleries in Pennsylvania and flies over regularly to Ballina. He also sources the oak casks which are charred and impart flavour and colour and in which the Connacht whiskey will be matured. The casks are made in Kentucky and are ex-Bourbon. All bottling is done here, all by hand.

Like many new distilleries, Connacht makes some white spirits to get the cash flow going while waiting the mandatory three years (and a day) for the whiskey. They are planning their gin and there will be some interesting botanicals included! The Poitin was due to be bottled the day after our visit but we did get a taste of their smooth Straw Boys Vodka. This wheat based drink is good and smooth, with a hint of  pepper in the aftertaste. The Straw Boys are a Mayo tradition, a sign of luck if they turn up at your wedding. “They are all about fun and getting the party going!”.

You will have to wait until 2019 to taste their own whiskey but in the meantime, they have been putting their own finish to a bought-in whiskey. It is called Spade and Bushel (after the tools of the trade) and is light amber in colour, smooth and sweet, hints of caramel and a “great after dinner drink”. No bother agreeing with that. Be careful with it though. One thing that sets this apart is that it is a cask strength whisky with an abv of 57.5%! It comes in a 37.5cl bottle.
The Straw Boys love a party
 When their own whiskey comes on the market, it will feature a rather special logo, a Celtic Dragon with a bunch of corn stalks in his claw.


There is another distillery starting up in Mayo, the Nephin, named after the county’s famous mountain. This is different. They are creating peated single malts made in a small Mayo village using locally grown barley, locally cut turf and triple distilled in traditional copper pot stills, then matured in unique casks handcrafted in their own cooperage. Must call there the next time!

My base for the night was the Grand National Hotel Ballina. They have a rather large bar and I was disappointed, considering the amount of breweries around the county, that they had no craft beer. Luckily, I spotted a Jameson Whiskey menu on the counter and spent an enjoyable hour or two sampling.


The new Connacht distillery. A new Greenway, from Ballina to Killala, starts alongside it.
The favourite was the Powers John's Lane Release at €9.00 a glass. The drop of water, the only other thing needed, was free! There is an abundance of aromas - don't stick your nose into the glass - just hover above it; it is full bodied, spicy and sweet and has a lingering finish. Think this is my new number one!

And if I can't get it, I’ll go for the Yellow Spot 12 Years Old, another single pot still whiskey, another smooth sweet customer at €9.50 a glass. It is complete from start to long finish with a distinctive sweetness at all stages. Sophisticated and complex they say. And it sure is. Reckon the Mayo distillery, indeed all new distilleries, have a fight on their hands. Perhaps, the best way to go about it is to avoid the direct collision and find your own niche.

Great for us customers though to have the choice!
Beers from the local Reel Deal
Aside from pulling a blank in the Ballina Hotel, craft beers, especially in bottle, were easy enough to find during this quick trip to Donegal Town and Ballina. Kinnegar Brewing and Donegal Brewing were available in The Harbour Restaurant in Quay Street in Donegal. And beers from the same two breweries were enjoyed over in the Village Tavern in Mountcharles. Last call in Donegal was the Olde Castle where the restaurant were offering their own beer called, appropriately, Red Hugh, and brewed in the county.

Ballina had started well enough with a couple of decent beers, the Irish Blonde amber ale and the General Humber French fusion ale, both by Mayo’s Reel Deel and both available in bottle in the upstairs restaurant of the lively Bar Square in Garden Street. And then came the blank in the hotel. The joys of researching. Still the whiskeys were a considerable consolation!
Killala, known to M. Humbert

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dine by the Water!

Dine by the Water
Superb food and superb views
Ostan Gweedore at Bunbeg, Donegal
I’ve been very lucky this past few months to have dined in some well placed restaurants, restaurants from Cork to Donegal that have a dining room with a view over water. Sometimes over a river, maybe over an estuary, and then sometimes over the ocean. I was lucky too to have brilliant weather in most of the places.

Let me start with river views. One of the best is from the newly opened Fish Bar inElectric. From the first floor of the South Mall building, you have fine views of the southern channel of Lee to the west and to the east. But have you been to Indigo Brasserie on Washington Street? Here too you have a fine view of a bend in the same river. 

Bunnyconnellan's Myrtilville (Cork)

And another excellent river view is to be found at the Market Kitchen restaurant, above the Murphy Brothers bar in Ballina. It wasn't quite warm enough to dine outside on the balcony but the Moy looked very well from the inside.

Time to move on now, nearer to the ocean, to the bays and estuaries and places such as the Rising Tide and Marlogue Inn in East Cork and further east you have the WalterRaleigh Hotel. You have no shortage in Cobh where you’ll find The Quays and The Titanic Bar. The Boathouse at Dromquinna, near Kenmare, is also well situated, right on the northern flank of the bay.
The Boathouse, Kenmare Bay

No shortage of seaside restaurants in Donegal. One of the best is the Seaview Tavern in Malin Head village but the view to the sea is somewhat interrupted by the cars parking across the road. No such problems at the Rosapenna Golf Hotel, whose dining room overlooks Sheephaven Bay and the beach at Downies. Further west along the same bay, the bar at the Cove at Portnablagh, another top restaurant, overlooks a different part of the same bay.

Back to Cork and to Baltimore and Le Jolie Brise where I’ve sometime enjoyed a dish of mussels as the day drew to a close with the island of Sherkin out in front. Locally, perhaps the best ocean view is that enjoyed from your table in Bunnyconnellan’s, a very pleasant view and very enjoyable food here. Hard to top that. One view that comes close, maybe level, maybe even better, is from the restaurant of Ostan Gweedore where there is the most fantastic view over the beaches and the waters of the Atlantic.
Rosapenna Hotel, Downies (Donegal)
Views are pleasing but you need good food too,
like this platter at the Seaview Tavern in Malin.

Have you a personal favourite view over water while dining? If you'd like to share, please use the Comment facility below.