Showing posts with label Mountain Man. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mountain Man. Show all posts

Monday, May 11, 2015

De Mey Magic at Blairscove House. Dinner of Delights

De Mey Magic at Blairscove House

Dinner of Delights

At dinner in Blairscove House in Durrus, you are very likely to meet owners the De Mey family: parents Philippe and Sabine De Mey along with daughter Ann and husband Chris Woodward. Head Chef Ronald Klotzer is Sabine’s brother.

The friendly family do most of the serving themselves, starting in the well stocked bar. This has beers on draught along with craft beer in bottle and virtually every spirit you can think of. There is a long and very interesting wine list and they also take pride in their cocktails.

Our apartment was overhead, so this was probably the shortest walk I ever made to a restaurant, though there was a pause on the stairs to take in the stunning sunset views over Dunmanus Bay.
Hadn't tried the Mountain Man’s Sneaky Owl beer previously so I was quite happy to take up the suggestion and happier again as I sipped the dark liquid. CL got quite a surprise when her Woodward Rose cocktail arrived in a teapot. During the days of prohibition in the US, people took all kinds of measure to disguise their alcohol, hence the teapot.

Quite a few of the wines are available by the glass and also some by the half bottle. We went half and half as our main courses were so different. I must say I was very happy with the El Coto Rioja Crianza (2010) but that was as nothing compared to CL's enthusiasm for the Rochebin Macon Lugny Chardonnay (2012).
I had to check that out and indeed, through a series of hard-won sips, found it was an gem from the home of the grape, an organic one at that. Nose is intense, it is balanced and fine on the palate, refreshing at all stages, especially in the finish.

The restaurant is located in a former barn. It is high, like a church, and the tall windows overlooking Dunmanus Bay were recesses through which the hay was pushed down to the animals from the loft above. Now, the loft is removed and they feed the hungry humans there in five star comfort. And they don’t throw it in through the windows!
Some starter options
There is a staggering array of starter options, decoratively displayed on a table, and you get all the help and information you need to make your choices. Basically, aside from the unusual smoked egg (one of the breads was smoked sourdough), I went fishy: a few oysters, cooked salmon and some salmon gravadlax. You could be tempted to overdo it here but restrain yourself, there is so much more to come. CL’s choices included curried quinoa with raisins and pomegranate seeds and the same salmon dishes as mine.


My main course, and there is an excellent choice (with a couple of specials thrown in), was the Grilled Rack of West Cork Lamb with Aubergine cheesecake and wilted spinach, served with the lamb jus and garlic cream.The presentation was deceptively simple, understating the pleasure ahead. The soft fat quivered like jelly. The blushing meat (no less tender) opened easily to the probing of the knife. Add in the accompaniments and I had paradise on the palate.



More starter options
What a splendid line-up CL had on her plate: Poached Breast of Guinea Fowl, tea soaked prunes and Savoy cabbage, Jerusalem artichoke purée and smoked bacon emulsion. Again the presentation was simple but it was flawlessly cooked and bite after bite of exquisite delight. Just to mention, the potato and vegetable sides were also spot-on.

Desserts (and cheese, including the local Durrus) are displayed on the Grand Piano. You are given a good sized plate before you are guided through the stunning selection of cakes and pots and other enticing options. I’m sure they are all gorgeous but I enjoyed my selection, especially the Tiramisu while CL, who likes her citrus, thoroughly enjoyed her Orange Cake and Lemon Tart.

So then we sipped our coffee from an elegant pot before making our way back up the steps outside to our apartment. Convenient or what?

See also: Walking on the Sheep's Head Peninsula
Taste of the Week. Cocktail in a Tea Pot
Castlefreke and Rathbarry, The Castles And The Wood

Staying at Blairscove House. A Perfect Place

Monday, March 30, 2015

Bantry’s Fish Kitchen. Simply Fabulous Fish

Bantry’s Fish Kitchen

Simply Fabulous Fish
Wolfe Tone looks out over a sunny Bantry Bay.
Breaded mussels (left) and Sea-Bass.
Bantry’s Fish Kitchen prides itself “in having a menu that is almost all locally caught fish and shellfish”. But don't worry if you are a meat eater, they also serve steak. And some nice desserts too!

They say: “When talking about our fish we focus on three elements, freshness, simplicity, quality. We do our best not to interfere with the Fish we are serving, simply served with skin side up along with a variety of simple butters or sauces on top or on the side.”  A bit like the winemaker who does most of his work in the vineyard!

And they stick to that rule. The Fish may be emperor here and he or she is not over-dressed with complicated sauces and suchlike. In the case of both our mains during a weekend dinner, the fish was so fresh it might well have been swimming in the bay just a few minutes earlier.

Herb Crusted Cod fillet with Herb Crust and Parsley butter was the perfect illustration, indeed a perfect fish dish. There was just enough of the crust and parsley to enhance the delicate fish but no more.

The Sea Bass fillets on a Caesar salad was a bit unusual, hadn't come across that combination before. But again the perfect fish was enhanced by the salad. Oh, by the way, we did have some vegetables and fries on the side! And also some beer, including Mountain Man Hairy Goat, Eight Degrees Pale Ale and Tom Crean Lager.

The starters were excellent also. The Bantry Bay Breaded Mussels were unexpectedly served in a Scallop Shell and were top class and I certainly enjoyed a warming Fish Kitchen Seafood Chowder.

We were tempted by the dessert list but in the end decided to give it a skip and said our goodbyes to Diarmuid who served us well throughout the evening.The restaurant, open for lunch as well, is upstairs - the family also run a fish shop on the ground floor - and is highly recommended. We certainly enjoyed the fish and the chat.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Heather. Eat in Style at Gap of Dunloe.

Heather. A Taste of The Gap.


Quiche, Heather Style. Very Highly Recommended!
The new Heather Restaurant at the Gap of Dunloe is at once a celebration of the past and a confident step into the future. It is also backing local producers and the food, including provenance, cooking and presentation, is really excellent, and that can only be good for tourists and locals alike.

Fifty years ago, the enterprising Moriartys opened a small gift shop close to the entrance of the renowned Gap, a spectacular valley, with cliffs and lakes and a huge echo, created in the dim and distant past by ice on the move.

Their warm welcome and quality goods proved a successful combination and bit by bit they expanded the shop, so much so that the family had to leave and find a new house! Husband and wife Michael and Margaret Moriarty started that wee store in 1964 and it predominantly operates in the coach tour market, welcoming visitors as they enjoy The Ring of Kerry tour.
Smoked Mackerel Salad.
The shop, offering high quality Irish goods, including a great selection of clothing and gifts, is still going strong. A new generation, Denis Pio Moriarty and his wife Ailish (who showed me around in midweek), has taken up the reins and the couple are guiding the new venture, playing a pivotal role in the interior and exterior designs.

It is not just a restaurant. Five acres of multi-level gardens, with great views of the McGillacuddy Reeks, have been set out and will be spectacular when in full flower. Not all the ground is given over to the ornamental planting. They will be growing their own salads and vegetables, mostly under cover, and Ailish hopes to have some on the menu in Heather in the coming summer months.

The bright and spacious restaurant, set alongside the River Loe, is a great spot to start or finish your tour of the Gap or before or after any of the many walks in the area. Here you will be well fed with the best that the artisan producers of Kerry and Cork provide.
Gorgeous Hake dish.
And if you want a genuine local drink, then that is what you’ll get. You can sample the craft beers by Mountain Man Brewing, the lovely ciders of Stonewell and some smashing apple juice drinks from the orchards of Ballyhoura Apples. It is open from 11.00am until 6.00pm daily, telephone 064 6644144.

Other suppliers include: Toonsbridge Buffalo Mozzerella, Kenmare Gouda, Ballinskellings Chicken, Glenbeigh Cockles and Mussels and Ring of Kerry Lamb. The menu is a name dropping of who’s who in local artisan food producers as well as being something of a geography lesson!

The menu for Heather comes on a brown paper, reminiscent of the old brown paper bags, and it takes quite a few sheets. Watch out too for the daily specials. And they also do a Kids Menu that includes half portions of the adult dishes. 

Lots of non alcoholic drinks too. Teas from Barry’s and Solaris (Galway) and Skelligs Chocolate Hot Chocolate and coffees specially roasted for Heather. The wine list may be short but again the quality comes through. And not just the regular varieties. You can of course have your Sauvignon Blanc and Rioja but maybe you'd like to try the Gruner Veltliner (Austria) and Zinfandel (California).

Deserved dessert!
We “worked” our way through the menu on Tuesday and it was a pleasure from start to finish. I enjoyed my Beetroot and Goats Cheese Salad, with orange, fennel and fresh as could be garden leaves (€8.00) while CL was more than pleased with her Smoked Mackerel Salad that came with Candied Beetroot, Rhubarb Chutney and Rye Croutons (€7.50).

We were tempted by the Spring Lamb Stew (€15.00). In the event, CL choose the Wild Atlantic Hake, with red peppers, fennel and Salsa Verde. The Hake was fresh, just out of the Atlantic, and the whole combination was light and appetising. Really superb.

She was very happy but I must say I was thrilled with my quiche. This was a rather special, almost melt in the mouth, quiche, described as Wild Nettle and Feta Quiche, with Parmesan, Mixed Garden Leaves and, yes, an outstanding homemade Tomato Chutney. I could go on about this but will simply recommended that you do try it if you get the chance. My mains cost €12.50 while the other was fifty cent less.

We had walked for over an hour in the Gap earlier and so felt we deserved dessert, one each this time! We got a generous slice of an Orange and Cranberry cake and another of Rhubarb Tart and two cups of Maher’s coffee to bring the curtain down on an excellent lunch in lovely surroundings.

Comfortable too and spacious and some nice touches, such as the elevated glass fronted fire (not in use on Wednesday!), the exposed stone on one section of wall and the sally saplings craftwork backlit feature that rises up the full height of its wall. This was crafted, the saplings still young enough to be pliable, by a local man and Ailish says it has already become quite a talking point.

Indeed, the Heather Restaurant, in a stunning location and with high quality cooking and presentation of the best of local produce, looks all set to become a talking point itself.


Other posts from this trip to Killarney:

See my full Kerry portfolio here


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Franciscan Well Easter Beer Festival

Franciscan Well Easter Beer Festival

Made an early visit to the Franciscan Well Beer Festival this Saturday afternoon and took my chance to sample some of the newer brews before the crowds started to roll in on this sunny day.

Last year, the Lynch brothers from Mayfield’s Cotton Ball were on the outside of the ring; this time, Eoin and Humphrey were serving their own beers including their latest. This is called Indian Summer and is quite a lovely drink for the days ahead, a mix of lager ingredients and an ale yeast.

Not to be outdone, the now well established Eight Degrees also had new one on offer, the Full Irish, a strong 100 per cent Irish Malt ale. I've had a sneak preview of the publicity shots for this one. X is the letter that springs to mind! Think Full Monty!

Blacks of Kinsale were promising a surprise for later in the afternoon when a special set-up will allow them to add fresh hops (a new one called Equinox) at the very last moment to Kinsale Pale Ale. Can't get fresher than that. Try that and don’t forget to sample their Beoir #1

Beers from new Connemara brewery available at Bradley's, North Main Street, Cork.
Great to meet up with Jamie from White Gypsy and his innovative beers. Tried his lovely refreshing Wheat beer, the beer you need after walking round, Bavarian in style but Irish “engineered”. The 5.2% Pilsner isn't half bad either. White Gypsy are growing their own hops this year and are also hoping that more and more restaurants will offer a craft beer as an alternative to wine.

The gregarious Mountain Man was another brewer I had not met before and he explained that his Hairy Goat was an English Style IPA with a lowish ABV. Nothing low though about the ABV of its American cousin, the 7.5% Crazy Horse. Well worth a try.

Micro-breweries just keep popping up around the country and next up was JJ's from County Limerick. This was their first outing and the 4.8% Pils lager promised much, especially as this is their very first beer.

aAnd another newcomer, the 9 White Deer Brewery from Ballyvourney, was also making its debut. Gordon Lucey tells me their hops, including Amarillo, Cascade and Fast Gold, comes from all over the world but the "mystical" water is local as is the yeast. This will soon be on sale in 500ml bottles and watch out for other beers, including a stout.

Nice to chat with Caroline of Eight Degrees and also with Claire from Dungarvan Brewing Company. I always enjoy the Dungarvan beers and tried a couple this time: their wheat beer and their Comeragh Challenge Irish Bitter. Had a preference for the former but isn't that what craft beer is all about. Great to have the choice. Long may the craft revolution continue!


The Franciscan Well Festival continues until late this Saturday evening and is on again tomorrow Sunday with soakage provided by the on site pizza maker! Enjoy.



Monday, February 24, 2014

Dinner From Just One Stall. Market Meal #7

One Stall Dinner
Market Meal #7
This is the latest in a series of Market Meals. The difference here is that the meal comes from just one stall and that is the relatively new Fresh from West Cork initiative in the English Market, just opposite the renowned Chicken Inn.

And another difference is that I’ve had a  bit of fun matching the four courses to beers. Since four beers is hardly enough for a growing boy, I’ve done it twice. Match One is with Cork beers while Match Two is with Porterhouse Beers.

Thanks to the ever patient Michael Creedon of Bradley's Off Licence for his knowledgeable help with selecting the beers but the final pick was mine! Don't want you  going into North Main Street and blaming Michael if your local favourite is not on the list.

Back now to Fresh from West Cork. Walter Ryan-Purcell is the face behind this “cooperative” effort from the west and close to forty producers are represented so it wasn't that difficult to get enough for a four course dinner. Indeed there were many options.

It just illustrates that you can do all your food shopping in the English Market. Maybe not all at Fresh from West Cork - they don't do fresh fish, for example - but you’ll be spoilt for choice if you wander around the wider market

Starter: Union Hall Smoked Salmon with Lemon Labneh by McCarthy’s Natural Dairies.
Cork Beer: Green Bullet Ale (Mountain Man).
Porterhouse: Hersbrucker Pilsner.

The smoked salmon, served with a little salad, was quite rich and the creamy Labneh added to the texture. Might have been better served on a Ryvita cracker or similar. Both beers worked well though in different ways. The Ale added more flavour while the Pilsner, not lacking in flavour, provided a nice cutting edge, a contrast against all the creaminess. One up to the Porterhouse team!
Mains: Gubben Traditional Dry Cured Smoked Bacon with vegetables from Peter Ross.
Cork Beer: Blacks Black IPA (Blacks, Kinsale).
Porterhouse: An Brain Blásta Strong Ale.

The Gubbeen bacon, smoked and lightly peppered, was sensational, the star of the night. With its fantastic texture and flavour, it was out on its own. The beers were both good matches; the Black perhaps best taken with bacon on the palate, the PH between bites! An Brain Blásta (even at 7%abv) doesn't mean brain blaster. It is Irish for The Tasty Drop.

Cheese: Loughbeg Farm hard Goat Cheese with Yellow Zucchini Relish also by Loughbeg.
Cork Beer: Friar Weisse (Franciscan Well).
Porterhouse: Red Ale.

The gorgeous crumbly cheese didn't seem to be getting on too well with the spiced up relish. Until the Friar Weisse was introduced. The local wheat beer transformed the potential discord into a very edible treat. A terrific match. Porterhouse don't make a wheat beer and through no fault of its own their Red Ale couldn't quite replicate the feat of the Friar here. Still, it was a nice way to pass the longish interval to dessert. That makes it 1.5 each for the beer teams.

Dessert: Yummy Tummy’s Brownies with Glenilen Clotted Cream.
Cork Beer: Knockmedown Porter (Eight Degrees).
Porterhouse: Oyster Stout.

Let me get this straight. Yummy Tummy’s Brownies are ace. Glenilen Clotted Cream is ace. You're on a winner. Now, add Knockmedown Porter (Eight Degrees) and you have a jackpot combination! Irresistible! That gave the edge to the Cork beer team, 2.5 to 1.5. The Oyster Stout, a gem in its own right, didn't have quite the same impact in the sweet finale to a smashing West Cork dinner.





Friday, December 6, 2013

Fenn’s Quay. Keeping it simple. Simply Superb.

Fenn’s Quay. Keeping it simple. Simply Superb.
Our philosophy is simple, we use only the best produce from the best local suppliers and treat them with care and attention to detail.” That’s the motto used by Kate Lawlor, the Head Chef at Fenn’s Quay. And, after a very enjoyable mid week meal at the city centre restaurant, I can verify that the place lives up to the motto and indeed extends its care and attention to its customers as well.



The overall menu has been trimmed back in recent times. The quantity of dishes available may be down but the quality is as high as ever, maybe even more so. In any event the regular menu is augmented by a tempting selection of specials: a  Mezze Platter, a Fish Platter, Beef Stroganoff with Ballyhoura Mushrooms and Pan-Fried Monkfish with Spinach all featured on the night. And, I’m told that O’Mahony’s Collar of Bacon with Savoy Cabbage, Parsnip Puree and Spiced Walnuts is one of the most popular regular dishes.

As it turned out, we never got past the Early Bird Menu, Three Courses for €23.00. This is terrific value and is available Monday to Saturday 5.00 pm to 7.00 pm. You may also have a glass of wine or beer instead of the starter or dessert.

Amazing colour on my starter: Beetroot & Cork Dry Gin Cured Salmon with Goatsbridge Trout Caviar & Mixed Leaves. Fantastic flavours and textures also. CL also got off to a terrific start with Crozier Blue Cheese Mousse, Roast Butternut Squash & Red Onion with Melba Toast. I reckon Kate has raised the bar here and thrown down a challenge to other local restaurants (and chefs!).
And that challenge, all very friendly, of course, was evident in my mains: O’Mahony’s Feather Blade of Beef with Roast Root Vegetables & Dungarvan Stout Gravy. What a gem of a dish. A few simple ingredients on an uncluttered plate but put together in a simply scrumptious way, a delightful practical illustration of the philosophy of the Fenn’s Quay motto.

And that simplicity of produce (not to mention its provenance and freshness) and presentation was also very much in evidence in CL’s main plate: Grilled plaice, with braised leeks, olive oil crushed potatoes and onion puree.
Simply written. What bit don't you understand? What bit would you not enjoy? It was, of course, aided by the Fenn’s Quay kitchen alchemy, the final result delightfully adding up to more than the sum of its parts. And, this special, even if it were not part of the Early Bird, is really good value at €15.00.

Still had room for dessert and here we went with the spirit of the season and tucked into the Fenn’s Quay Mince Pies with Cream (gorgeous buttery pastry), just one each  mind you as we shared. Drinks (a white Rioja for her, a refreshing Mountain Man Green Bullet ale for me) bought the total bill to €50.00.
Fenn’s Quay is highly recommended for breakfast, lunch and dinner and do watch out for their Christmas meals as well. You won't be disappointed.





Friday, July 26, 2013

Tapas in the Greenroom

The Greenroom at Sage

Called down to Midleton last Tuesday evening to sample the food at the Greenroom, the new all day late night cafe under the ample wing of the adjacent Sage Restaurant. Spotted the 12 Mile Tapas board and immediately saw familiar producers of quality including Woodside Farm, Ardsallagh and Tom Clancy. Five tapas on the board, so we ordered all five.

Next question was what to drink. Easily answered by looking at the next board. Lots of local beers here and also Stonewell cider. Could hardly drink all the beers so settled for the Barefoot Bohemian Pilsner from Eight Degrees and two new Cork beers, both pale ales, the Mountain Man Green Bullet and the Kinsale Pale Ale, each dangerously drinkable!

The tapas are top class, all the dishes perfectly executed and, at seven euro each, very good value. Take the humble Organic courgette and apple fritters with dehydrated goat yoghurt. Didn’t sound the most promising of the five but the tangy yoghurt made the fritters sing.

The Organic baby carrot and Ardsallagh goat cheese with organic leaves and pickled beetroot was another successful combination of taste, colour, flavour and texture. While the cooking here is creative, the food is allowed to speak for itself and this was perhaps best illustrated by the Woodside mini Pork Pie with peas and gravy. The pork flavour and texture were incredible.

The monkfish, coated in the most delicate batter and served with crispy bacon and organic roast garlic aioli, was lyrically light, crunchy and gorgeous and probably CL’s favourite.

For me, the outstanding bite was the first one into those Thomas Clancy free range chicken livers with sourdough and salsa. Honest food so well handled all the way to the table.

The dessert, Red Velvet Cappuccino cake with Bailey’s Ice Cream, was so smooth and seemed designed to put us into a good mood. But, after those brilliant tapas, we were happily already in that zone!

All in all then,  honest food, flawlessly cooked, just perfect. And obviously widely appreciated as the Greenroom was more or less full.

Sage itself was also full. It has gained some extra seating and a different entrance (via the courtyard) after the recent building works that gave us the Greenroom. And the local producers are lauded here in Sage and not just on the tables. On one of the walls there is an excellent photo display of the producers going about their daily work. Well done to Kevin and Réidín for their dedication to their local suppliers!

While it is full steam ahead for Sage, the recently opened Greenroom too has been finding itself quite busy in these early days. It opens at nine and, during the morning, you can pop in for a freshly ground coffee and a freshly baked treat. At lunch time, you’ll have great choices of Salads and Sandwiches and, in the evening, the tapas come into their own.

The new Greenroom, they call it Sage’s little sister, is also proving useful for a pre-meal drink for those booked into Sage or maybe waiting for a table. And, when the sun shines, the courtyard outside is abuzz.

Greenroom details
Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 9:00 am - 11:00 pm.
Address: 8 Main St, Midleton, Co. Cork.
Phone: (021) 463 9682
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/www.sagerestaurant.ie