Showing posts with label Pilgrim's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pilgrim's. Show all posts

Monday, July 27, 2015

36 Hours in West Cork. Not that I was counting!

36 Hours in West Cork
Not that I was counting!


Baltimore sunset
I was thinking of Garrett Oliver, master brewer at New York’s Brooklyn Brewery, while I was eating lunch at Union Hall’s Coffee Shop last Thursday. Garrett related at the Ballymaloe LitFest how people, on first drinking one of his beers, tell him that it is so good it doesn't taste like beer. Garrett tells them, with some satisfaction, that what they have been drinking before is not real beer.

Well, here in Union Hall, our first call on our most recent trip to West Cork, I was eating real panini. I’m sure there are other good paninis out there but it is superb here, like nothing I've ever tasted before. It was packed with chicken, brie and pesto, all adding up to great flavours and terrific textures.
Panini
 The menu is short here as you'd expect but quality is high. And that is underlined with CL’s Quiche of Roast peppers, feta, Ballymaloe Relish. After that and a good cup of coffee we were on our way.


Having been in West Cork regularly, particularly this year, I were looking for one or two different things to see and do. West Cork obliged. Big time.


Graveyard on Myross Island
 After the Coffee Shop, we headed for Myross Island and found it. Drove up the narrow road to the graveyard which has terrific views over the Atlantic, including the nearby Rabbit Island. Next call was to Reen Pier where we ran into Jim Kennedy. He runs Atlantic Sea-kayaking and has his base here in this beautiful place.


We got some great views of it as we took the narrow road, rising up above the water, heading for a bridge that would take us to the other side and down to the peace and calm of Castletownsend with its distinguishing tree in the middle of the street, acting as a roundabout.

On the road above Reen Pier
 Baltimore was our destination for the night but there would be another stop or two on the way. First was the amazing Lough Hyne (the unusual seawater lough) and it was quite busy with many enjoying the sunshine, sitting around, swimming in the clear waters and others walking on the wooded hill above and getting fantastic views over the coast.


After all that activity, I felt we deserved a drink and knew just where to get it. On the way into Baltimore, we stopped at Casey’s Hotel. They have recently opened a microbrewery here and some of their Sherkin Lass Pale Ale went down a treat in the beautiful beer garden that overlooks the waters of Baltimore. They also do a red ale.


Rolling hills of West Cork
 Time then to check in at our accommodation. This was in Rolf’s. The Haffner family have been here for over twenty five years and their restaurant, where we enjoyed a terrific dinner at night, is well known. It is a great place to stay too, a fine and friendly base for the area.


In the morning, we were down on the pier, hoping to get a place on one of the boats going out to see the dolphins and, hopefully, a whale or two. But we had no luck. The lesson here is to book in advance.


Castletownsend
 So off we went to the Sheep's Head peninsula and stopped at the car park high in Seefin. We were almost sun-burned here a few months earlier but this day turned cloudy for a while and a strong wind greeted us as we climbed along the marked trail on top of the ridge. We got as far as the megalithic tomb before deciding to turn back. Not the best of days up there but still well worth the effort.


Down then to Old Creamery Cafe in Kilcrohane. This is a spanking clean spot with a menu of sandwiches, paninis, and salads and some home baking. We went for tea and some of that baking. I picked a Raspberry and Lemon Curd Sponge and those raspberries, fresh from the garden, were spectacularly juicy.


Courtyard garden at Rolf's
Refreshed now, we drove up the other side of this spectacular peninsula, heading for Durrus. Our stop though was at Ahakista to pay our respects to the three hundred plus victims of the Air India bombing disaster twenty years ago. Quite a few mementos, mainly wreaths, scattered here since the commemoration last June. Such a waste of life, such sadness.
Megalithic tomb on Sheep's Head
The sun was out as we headed over to Schull to see Walter Ryan-Purcell of Loughbeg Farm (now an open farm that you may visit). Walter, his wife and son, were up in Schull and we met them outside the Bunratty Inn, a gorgeous sun trap! Walter is well known in food circles and great to see the success Loughbeg is enjoying with their Oat Loaf. Look out for it in your local SuperValu.

Sweet! Old Creamery Cafe
 Down then to the pier and we were tempted by the fish dishes on offer at L’Escale but had a date in Rosscarbery and, after a walk on the path alongside the harbour in Schull, we headed for Pilgrim’s in Ross. Hadn't been there before, but is is easy to find as it is right smack bang in the centre of the village.

Ahakista's Air India memorial
 We were pleasantly surprised by the very high standard of the food here, a standard that many high class restaurants would find hard to match. We thoroughly enjoyed our few hours in Pilgrim’s before motoring back to the city.

Schull

Put Pilgrim’s On Your Camino.

Put Pilgrim’s On Your Camino

Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair
Ham Hock
Put Pilgrim’s on your camino this year. Forget the sackcloth and ashes. Maybe wear some flowers in your hair - there are gentle people there. You’re heading to the new Rosscarbery venue for a feast of the highest quality where you’ll be received with a calming courtesy.

The menu, from the local fields, nearby seas and wild places, changes from season to season, from day to day even. You won't have the biggest choices but quality shines through even if sometimes the sun doesn't.

You enter a door, surrounded by plants and flowers, and cross those big black slabs to your table - reservations advised. The menu is on just one sheet - see all the local suppliers on the rear, including the local Fish Deli, Tim Yorke from Lisheen, West Cork free range eggs, Hegarty's Cheese, Liam Ryan’s pork and more.
Macroom Mozzarella
Small bowls of olives and nuts (with chilli) are emptied as you study the list, including a section called Nibbles, small plates to share. At the weekend we choose the Tatsuta age (sweet chicken) with Chilli Mayo. Hadn't come across this before but it is a close cousin to the commonly known Japanese fried chicken. The chicken is marinated before being dusted in a coat of katakuriko and fried in hot oil. It was absolutely delicious, the chicken so moist behind the crispy coating.

Now, we were on to the real starters. Mine was the Ham Hock, served with tomato, egg, sauerkraut, mustard butter and fried crumbs. Delightful to look at and a delight to eat, an amazing combination of flavour and textures, that free range egg, that silky butter and those crispy crumbs and, of course, the ham itself.

Meanwhile, across the table, CL was trying out the new Macroom mozarella (by farmer Johnny Lynch and renowned cheesemaker Sean Ferry). It was all oohs and aahs as she tucked into the superb cheese served with Tomatoes, Broad Beans, Basil, Kale crisps, citrus.

There are just a few starters to choose from and it is the same with the main courses. By now,

you sense that all will be excellent; you feel comfortable here, assured of the quality after your early nibbles and starter.

Brill with Samphire, peas, new potatoes, saffron pistachio butter is a stunning combination and CL is thrilled with it, especially since they served it off the bone! It is cooked on the bone of course. A popular dish here (not always with the same accompaniments) and a highly recommended one.


With a glass of the excellent Karwig's Caldora Sangiovese Merlot in hand (they also sell wines by the half glass), I picked the Pressed Lamb Shoulder, courgette, kale, broad beans, mint yogurt, tomato jam. The lamb is supplied by Sean Dennehy of Shandangin and again the combination is a cracking one, the mint yogurt giving a lovely lift to the meat.


Lamb
Having come so far on this camino of cuisine, we were not for turning. Desserts were ordered. We didn't order from the pudding section, nor did we go for the Hegartys and Crozier blue (much as we love them!), but instead opted for two from the Ices Section.

Gin, the drink of the moment, featured in CL’s - I was allowed a sample and a sip of the Fentiman’s Tonic Sorbet, Lemon Confit and Cork Dry Gin. Excellent stuff. Of course there was a swap involved and I handed over a little of my Meadowsweet ice cream served with Flax Caramel Shard. Two appropriate desserts to chill down at the end of a lovely meal as the pilgrims’ progress came to an end.

Very Highly Recommended.
Pilgrim’s
South Square, Rosscarbery, County Cork
(023) 883 1796
contact.pilgrims@gmail.com (not for reservations)
Open Wednesday - Saturday 6-10pm Sunday 1-4pm

Desserts