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Umi Falafel is a relatively new restaurant in Academy Street (Cork). One of the first things you notice is a large mural of a matronly lady from the Levant, the mother (the umi in the restaurant title). We were there for lunch after all the meat of the week-long Burger Festival. And we certainly got the change we wanted and all for a very reasonable price.
There is a warm greeting as you enter and you are asked if you are eating in or if you want take-away. We were eating in and so took our menus to the table, read them over once or twice, and went back to the counter to order and to pay.
The Lebanese and the Palestinian are the two main Falafels here; there are other choices, including a Falafel Your Way. Here too you’ll find a Mezze menu, also salads and bites. Quite a choice. We hadn't been here before so when we spotted the All Day Umi Plate for Two we thought it would be a good introduction and ordered it.
It consists of 8 falafels, a salad of your choice (Fatoush in our case), hummus, 2 spinach rolls and 4 stuffed vine leaves. Lots of healthy eating in that lot, excellent flavours and textures.
That crunch colourful Fatoush salad is a Lebanese favourite: tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, parsley, dry mint, rocket, scallion on a bed of lettuce with lemon juice and olive oil topped with toasted bread and pomegranate molasses. It is just one of a large selection here that also includes Tabouleh, Quinoa, Couscous and Lentil versions.
Not too sure what a Falafel is? Well, they are wholesome, golden-brown croquettes that are slightly crunchy on the outside and soft and moist from the inside. This is the Umi method: “We first soak the fresh chickpeas in water for 24 hours; we then combine up to 15 different ingredients such as onions, garlic, parsley, coriander and our special Umi spices such as cumin, crushed chillies, cloves, cinnamon and more. The recipe is 100% vegetarian and high in protein.”
In addition to our eight Falafels, we enjoyed four stuffed Vine Leaves and two Filo Pastries packed with spinach. There was also a lovely bowl of excellent hummus and four pieces of freshly baked bread into which you could stuff as much as you like. All, including the bread, was very tasty indeed. The bill came to €14.50, for the two! Amazing value.
We settled for water on the day but there is a choice of drinks as well, freshly squeezed juices, including a Jazar Surprise (carrot, apple and ginger), coffees and teas and soft drinks too. Well worth a try!
Over 100 of “Ireland’s best makers, designers and artisan food producers” were on show at the Cork City Hall Craft Fair over the weekend. I took an opportunity to call in there on Friday and, surprise, surprise, I spent most of my time at the food section where I met some old friends and some new.
The gorgeous packaging of the Lismore Food Company was certainly an eye-catcher but the biscuits inside proved they had substance as well as style. They come in both savoury and sweet, an Irish Digestive with Wild Atlantic Sea Salt and Caraway with Irish Seaweed among the savoury, Hazelnut, Cinnamon and Raisin along with an all Butter Irish Shortbread among the latter.
All in colourful round boxes, ideal as gifts. But do watch out for the larger blue rectangular box. Inside you'll find “divine crisp apple thins wrapped in the finest dark Belgian chocolate...an epicurean delight”. We tasted those Dark Chocolate and Apple Crisp Thins and they became an immediate favourite. You could take these anywhere! Think I’ll keep mine at home though.
There was a warm welcome from Julie of Highbank Orchardsat the Kilkenny corner. She had her full range of organic drinks here, both non alcoholic (syrup, treacle) and alcoholic (gins, vodka, cider and a delicious Highbank Organic Sack).
Our favourite on the day was perhaps the Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother*. Bought a bottle so we’ll be giving that a longer test! Julie suggested serving it with warm water at breakfast or as a wonderful addition to a salad dressing. Meant to get back here to have a chat with Helen of Mooncoin Beetroot but slipped up. Next time!
Preserves by Wild Irish Foragers & Preservers
More drinks then and a very pleasant surprise at the Wicklow Way Wines stand. They produce Móinéir Wines from Irish fruit. Móinéir is the Irish word for meadows.
Their flagship Strawberry Wine is created from hand-picked Irish strawberries, with around one hundred and fifty small strawberries in each bottle. We had a wee taste of this alluring wine. You expect the slight sweetness of the fruit but not the dry finalé.The Blackberry wine (some elderberry in there too) had a deeper flavour, another excellent drop from nature’s bounty. Both have an ABV of 11.00%.
Kate and Denis Dempsey are really working hard at getting the mead message across and they too were in the City Hall, showing their Wild Red and Atlantic Dry White meads. Find out more about this ancient drink, now being given a new lease of life in Kinsale, here.
You may drink it like wine (abv of 12%) or use it in a cocktail. Here is a recipe for their Wild Red Sour from their Facebook page: This tasty tipple consists of our Wild Red Mead, Blacks Brewery Gin, Orange Blossom Honey Syrup, Lemon, Egg White, Cherry Bitters and is garnished with shavings of Skelligs Chocolates Irish Sea Salt Dark Chocolate and an orange twist.
Fran from Newgrange Gold
And next we were on to a product based on an ancient seed called Camelina Sativa, better known in English as Wild Flax. Newgrange Goldfrom County Meath grow it. When grown it is cold pressed and bottled in the Boyne Valley. We did buy a bottle of this Camelina Oil. It is, we’re told, very high in Omega 3 “and has a much desired 2:1 balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6. Low in saturated fat and high in essential fatty acids, Camelina is a very healthy oil.” Try a teaspoon a day! Can also be used for stir frying, baking, salads.
At this point, we had gathered a nice selection of food and drink and the bags were getting a little heavy so time to head off and begin to enjoy. The biscuits will probably the first to go!