Showing posts with label Rosscarbery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rosscarbery. Show all posts

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016: Best Places to Stay

Best Places to Stay 2016

Stayed in quite a few places this year. From Kerry to Meath, from Donegal to Dublin, from Limerick to Waterford,  from West Cork to Wexford. These were the best. Suggestions for 2017 welcome! 

 Screebe House, Connemara

Killiane Castle, Co. Wexford
Anyone for croquet at Killiane?

Cahernane House Hotel, Killarney.
Cahernane
Cork Recommendations
East Cork
Garryvoe Hotel, East Cork
Samphire Restaurant, Garryvoe Hotel
West Cork
 Celtic Ross Hotel, West Cork
Warren Beach, Rosscarbery


2016 Reviews - see also
Cafes by the side of the road.
Best Hotel Dining Rooms
Meals with a difference

Best Steaks & 3 Best non-Cork Restaurants 2016

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

West Cork in 36 Hours. So Much To Do, See, Eat!

West Cork in 36 Hours
So Much To Do, See, Eat!
Busy at Inish Beg
It’s bluebell time in Ireland and the magic flowers were a highlight of our last weekend's 36 hours in West Cork but there were also Tiger Prawns, Basking sharks, Sicilian Cauliflower, even a Mobile Sauna.

The Mobile Sauna came early on, spotted by Garrettstown beach on Sunday morning as we took the long way west. Don't think there were too many customers in the tented facility. Indeed, the weather was too fine for the Garrettstown surfers yet some of the food outlets were doing well as we headed up the hill (not to Ballinspittle) to take the coast road, passing an old creamery stand and three well weathered churns on the way.
The Food Depot's extension

We were taking the long way over Courtmacsherry Bay. We soon joined the R600 from Ballinspittle, went past the lovely Harbour View beach and then drove up the estuary to Timoleague and its ancient monastery, now an impressive ruin. Over the bridge then and off to Courtmacsherry. We have sometimes walked along here - think it’s about 4.5 kilometres, all on the flat (the path is over an old railway line) and arrived in Courtmac beach shortly after noon.

The queues were already starting at the Food Depot, the truck that features the amazing cooking of Diana Dodog. We parked the car, had to look hard for a space, and got our order in!  Mine was the Grilled Tiger Prawns Salad Box, Garlic & Herb Oil. The Salad Box is a a bit of an understatement containing as it did, couscous, beetroot, pickled cucumber, hummus and more. It was a very tasty box, full of colours, textures and flavours, all for eight euro.
Popular prawn dish; garnish changes from time to time
CL's choice (the menu regularly changes) was the Grilled Cajun Chicken Wrap, Zesty Slaw, Aioli, sweet chilli, another well balanced piece, an excellent example of what a wrap should be! Well priced too at seven euro.


Our second “mission” in Courtmacsherry was a visit to the bluebells in the wood. Take a rising path that starts by the beach car park - it is part of the Seven Heads Walk (total over 40 kms, but some shorter loops as well!). Some detail on the walk here.
Wild garlic in Courtmacsherry wood, by the sea
The bluebells come early on in the walk, as soon as you enter the wood. Even before you get there you see the magical blue "haze". And there are as many Ramsons or Wild Garlic and I also noticed some wild mint growing in among the garlic. There is a huge bank on your right among the trees as you enter. Look. Smell. Enjoy. As you come out of the wood, you get a clear view of the ocean at and near Wood Point. And it was close to here that we spotted the fin moving swiftly through the waters below. “Basking shark,” I heard a local say.

We had turned back by then and were soon on the road again, taking the long way again, over towards Butlerstown, past the Seven Heads, past Dunworley Bay and on towards Ring where Deasy’s Pub (another well known food venue) stands. Into Clon then and time for a break from the sun and a drop of Dungarvan Pale Ale in the well known pub/restaurant called An Sugan.
Courtmac bluebells
Next stop would be the Celtic Ross, our base in Rosscarbery. They had a deal on for the Sunday, quite an attractive one: dinner for two, and B&B for €78.00 total. They have lots of deals, so be sure and check here   How often have you been down in West Cork, wishing you could stay and couldn't get last minute accommodation? It has happened to us on a few occasions so we took up this offer and were very happy with it. The Ross is a fine friendly hotel and, between Clonakilty and Skibbereen, so well placed for exploring West Cork.

We took a walk in the sun down to Warren’s Beach to join quite a few people there, young and old, some in swimming. We were down that way again later on to get a few shots as the sun sank behind the village.
A bank of primroses on the Seven Heads Walk
In the meantime, we had enjoyed an excellent 3-course dinner. We had a choice of three starters and I enjoyed every little bit of the Sticky Chicken Wings, Jamaican Jerk Style, Blue cheese and sesame seeds. CL was also happy with Peter’s famous Fish Cake.

We each had the same mains: Local Hake Fillet, Sicilian cauliflower, nutmeg potato, black olive oil, Sauce Vierge, Port. This was outstanding, particularly the raisins and the pinenuts, with the cauliflower, adding a touch of texture, sweet notes too from the raisins and the Port, and the fish had obviously just jumped up from the waters outside, such was its freshness. Top notch overall.
Galley Lighthouse, from Warren Beach in Rosscarbery
Breakfast is served in the same area with a very friendly vibe, quite efficient too. We had a nice bit of fruit and yogurt and a variation of the full Irish (not quite a full Irish!). Checked out then and headed west through Skibbereen and out the Baltimore Road.

We were on the lookout for Inish Beg on the left, an island, but one with a bridge. It is a private estate where you may stay in various type of accommodation. There is also an indoor swimming pool (in the walled garden!). Lots to do here. You may even get married on a mini island, reached by a small bridge. Check it all out here.
Warren Beach
But we were here to take a walk - its costs a fiver - through the gardens and the woodlands. The walled garden is in great nick. You start there and then follow your map where you’ll come across features such as Pumpkin's Puddle, Bird Hides, The Boat House, The Gypsy Retreat (where two caravans provide your accommodation), the Sunken Garden, the Bamboozle (a couple of bamboo tunnels) and the Orchard.

There is a good scattering of bluebells around the place at the moment. They seem of a slightly darker shade than those of Courtmacsherry but that is a non-scientific observation! Perhaps the best display was that under the old trees in the Orchard.
Hake in the Celtic Ross
It was getting close to lunchtime and so we headed for Baltimore. We had been hoping that the Glebe Cafe would be open but, being Monday, they weren't. Le Jolie Brise was though and here a big bowl of mussels and a smaller one of fries did the business.

Time was running out for us and it was with some regret that we left behind the increasing blue of the West Cork skies and headed back to the city. Glad to say the blue came too at least for this May evening.
Inish Beg's wedding island

Bamboozled



Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fish Seafood Deli. Fresh from the Ocean

Fish Seafood Deli
Fresh from the Ocean
I am eating a Fish Pie, a simple fish pie. It contains Whitefish, Smoked Fish, Salmon, Milk, Onions, Butter, Flour, Potatoes, Seasoning, Breadcrumbs, Cheese. Nothing exotic. Nothing than I can’t spell. No preservatives, no artificial colourants. Mainly it contains fish. It has been baked in the oven for 25 minutes and a bunch of broccoli has been added to the plate. Simple stuff but simply superb.

I’ve also been sampling fish cakes and they too are excellent, easy to prepare and easy to eat! The cakes and the pie are encouraging signs that Irish fishermen are taking more control of their own destiny. They’ve been produced in Rosscarbery by Fish Seafood Deli and much of that fish has come from their boats.

Ex fisherman Peter Shanahan founded the business in 2011 when he opened a retail shop in Rosscarbery. Since then he has been joined by Monica Buckley and her husband Niall Deasy. Niall operates fishing trawlers out of Union Hall port, fishing for prawns and whitefish primarily. And the business has expanded.

Many of you travelling in the area will be glad to see one of their outlets, the Fish Basket in Rosscarbery, on the main road west of the Celtic Ross Hotel. This is a busy spot and yes fish and chips is the most popular buy. But you can also get a prawn sandwich here, maybe a crab salad.
Fish Seafood Deli now employ 15 staff, between :
2 Retail premises (Rosscarbery and Clonakilty);
2 mobile units serving the  Cork area;
Wholesale business supplying Hotels & Restaurants with fish directly from the fishing boats of Union Hall/Baltimore & Kinsale;
2 full time chefs producing cooked products e.g fish cakes, fish pies, Prawn Cocktail, seafood quiches, breads.
Fish Basket located at Newtown, Rosscarbery,  serving fish and chips and specials such as crab & prawn parcels with pineapple salsa.
Monica tells me the mobile units have regular spots they sell at. “For example one of the units is in Whitechurch and Carrignavar each Monday. They would have different towns they go to every day of the week.  The mobile units sell fresh fish and also a selection of our cooked seafood range.”

The retail shops each have a wet area where you can buy the freshest of fish. The Rosscarbery one is just east of the village, located next to Ryan’s Service Station, on the main road to Clonakilty. We got some cod there for dinner last Saturday night and it was just first class, the flesh pristine on the plate.

 You can also buy the cooked seafood range here. Indeed, the company’s kitchens are here. The Clonakilty shop does both fresh and cooked and is in Ashe Street.


Peter spent almost three years working in Glenmar fish factory in Skibbereen before training as a carpenter. But it wasn't the best of times to be in the construction industry. Following the collapse of the Tiger and two P45s in quick succession, he returned to the fish industry and spent several seasons on prawn and tuna trawlers.

The idea of opening a fish shop had been in his mind for a while and became a reality in July 2011, when he opened the doors to Fish Seafood Deli just outside his home town of Rosscarbery.

“I feel that in an ever-increasing health-conscious society that fresh fish is something that people are going to want more and more of. I also believe that West Cork has some of the finest seafood in the country!  And if you don’t believe me – call into our shop and see for yourself!”

I think we’ll be hearing more from Fish Seafood Deli!


Fish Seafood Deli



Rosscarbery
Burgatia,
Rosscarbery,
West Cork
Phone: (023) 8869612
Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 9am-6pm
Sat: 9am-4pm
Closed Sunday & Public Holidays
Clonakilty
42 Ashe Street,
Clonakilty,
West Cork
Phone: (023) 8859981
Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am-6pm
Closed Sunday & Public Holidays

Monday, July 27, 2015

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

Monday, April 27, 2015

Treat Meat With Respect. Talking to Avril Allshire-Howe

Treat Meat With Respect
Talking to Avril Allshire-Howe


Avril, and books!
“Meat should be treated with respect.”

So said Avril Allshire during our recent visit to the Rosscarbery farm that she runs with husband Willie and their two sons William and Maurice. The small farm is home to two related enterprises: Caherbeg Free Range Pork and Rosscarbery Recipes. It is also the place where the young sons practice on their racing quads!

“Every little mouthful should be savoured,” she continued. “None of us can afford to gorge ourselves, we can't afford to waste meat.”
Pork Fruit Cake. Secret Recipe!
Avril was talking to me in her own home, surrounded by shelves and shelves of books, many of them food related. No surprise either to see that she is a big fan of Joanna Blythman, the English writer who constantly exposes the con-men of the big-food world and who will again appear at the 2015 Ballymaloe Lit-Fest next month.

Avril could well write a recipe book herself. She agreed with me that food producers should provide recipes to customers but only if they have something new to add.

She certainly has and you’ll see quite a few of them on her Rosscarbery Recipes blog. But there is one that she won't be publishing, won't be sharing! As we spoke we were treated to a slice of what looked like a normal fruit cake.

Spots (left) and Timmy
As we began to enjoy it, she revealed that it had “no eggs, no dairy”. She named this delicious creation, an exclusive one, Pork Fruit Cake, as one of the important ingredients is, believe it or not,  sausage meat! “It is an alternative to Christmas Cake, may well have been a forerunner of Christmas cake.”

Later, at lunch, she served us her Black Pudding lasagna, another of her originals, a flavoursome echo perhaps of the time when there were no convenience shops, maybe also a shortage of cash, and people had to use what was close at hand, what was in the cupboard. And indeed there was another echo of those days in her answer to the question What is your own favourite? “Depends on the humour,” she laughed. “But I’ll use whatever is in the house.”

“Has the success of any particular product surprised you?”, I asked.
“Yes, I have been surprised by the success of the black pudding, by the variety of people that like it, the young and the old alike. Eastern European peoples quite like it too. It is quite low in fat and useful for a variety of dishes.”

Awards galore
Husband Willie drove the rest of the family to the brink of frustration during the long 15 months he (and they) spent developing their black pudding, developing it to his and their satisfaction. But the passion paid off in a big way and the pudding has won a string of awards, mostly gold, in Ireland, the UK, Belgium and notably in France. “How do you know you have a good one?”, I queried. “The acid test,” she replied, “is to cut a sliver and eat it at room temperature.”


We discussed trends in the business.”Six or seven years ago, you could not give away belly of pork. Then the recession hit and everybody wanted it. The Caherbeg herd is quite small. We have limited numbers and not that much belly and so the Celtic Ross have exclusivity on our belly.” We had enjoyed that special dish in the local hotel the previous evening and it is worth travelling for!


Then it was time to take a tour of the free range pigs (a mixture of breeds including Gloucester Old Spot, Tamworth and Kune-Kune)  and we met some of the main characters including Spots, the mammy of many of them, and Timmy, the daddy. Pigs are not the only animals here. We met the dog and some of the five cats. And also Maa-aa, the growing lamb that they adopted from a neighbouring farm after its mother had rejected it. Maa-aa has been given a job! She'll be keeping the grass and weeds in control in their orchard! Two legs or four, you have to pull your weight in Caherbeg!


Read more about Caherbeg Free-Range Pork and Rosscarbery Recipes here
Rosscarbery Recipes Website: http://www.rosscarberyrecipes.ie
Rosscarbery Recipes blog: http://rosscarberyrecipes.blogspot.ie
Caherbeg Free Range Pork website: http://www.caherbegfreerangepork.ie