Showing posts with label St Tola. Show all posts
Showing posts with label St Tola. Show all posts

Friday, November 11, 2016

Enjoyable Stay At Cahernane House Hotel

Enjoyable Stay At Cahernane House Hotel 
Killarney Gem

A superb dinner in the Herbert Room of the Cahernane House Hotel in Killarney was the highlight of a recent stay there. Breakfast wasn't bad either! You could say head chef Paul O’Connor made a good impression.

Indeed, we had nothing but good impressions during our visit, starting with the long tree-lined drive from the Muckross Road down to the late 19th century building in its superb location near the lakes. The native red deer passed slowly beneath our windows, just before dusk and just after sunrise.
Regular visitors

Our room was spacious and well-equipped. And the bar is a gem, situated in the original wine cellar. That high-ceilinged Herbert Room is another gorgeous spot, used for both dinner and breakfast, and there are some lovely public rooms as well, one with a fountain flowing. And the courteous staff were both welcoming and helpful.

Back to our dinner then and, as we studied the menu (five courses for €50.00), we nibbled on some delicious breads and dips. Quite a long wine list there too, a good variety of styles, grapes and countries. In the end, we picked the Prinz Von Hessen Riesling (34.00) and we were very happy with that!

After a tasty amuse bouche, the starters soon arrived. Mine was the Pan-seared Castletownbere scallops, cauliflower, black pudding and samphire. Nicely presented and well appreciated! Ardsallagh’s goats Parfait with Beetroot, basil and balsamic was CL’s choice and she too opened with a winner.
Scallops

Next up was the middle course. I was thinking sorbet and indeed it was one of the three choices listed. I thought the other two would be very small but either could have passed for a starter. And they were both excellent. One was Pan-seared Mackerel, heritage potato, fine beans, black olives, the other a Garden Salad of Pickled Pear, truffle ficelle, and smoked bacon crumb.

That pan was busy again for our mains. I love Turbot and the affair continued with a slightly spiced and throughly lovely dish: Pan-seared Turbot, Chestnut mushroom, girolles, truffle and Savoy cabbage. Great mix of flavour and texture, the fresh fish cooked to perfection and much the same could be said about CL’s Pan-seared Cod, artichoke, hazelnut textures, raisins and brandade.
Dessert

Our confidence in the chef and his team was building all the time and we were looking forward to dessert. We weren't let down! Far from it. Presentation for my Crème Brûlée was outstanding as was the dish itself: Passionfruit Crème Brûlée, with raspberry sorbet and pistachio tuile. CL’s classy treat was Blackberry Choux (choux pastry, blackberry curd, marshmallow gel and wild berry creme fraiche).

We would, of course, be back in the Herbert Room for breakfast, for one of the very best breakfasts around. Full Irish yes but many great choices. Don't want to bore you with too many details but one to watch out for is the Pear, Brioche and Cheese, a mouth-watering morning treat of Grilled Vanilla Poached Pear, Toasted Brioche and St Tola Goats Cheese curd.
Breakfast Pear, Brioche, Cheese

We also made a couple of calls to that unusual Cellar Bar, making ourselves comfortable in the capacious armchairs. They have quite a selection of drinks here, lots of Irish spirits including local gins (among them Blackwater and Bertha’s Revenge) and the craft beers by Killarney Brewing take pride of place on the counter.

I just felt the need to continue my research in these comfortable surroundings. My favourite whiskey was undoubtedly the Jameson Black Barrel, rich and full and with an reverberating long finish, another gem in the range.
Breakfast bagel: smoked salmon, scrambled egg.

Killarney Brewing tell some tall yarns but the beers are pretty good too.We had been surprised by the red colour of their IPA but that Ale is named after a local hero who was known as the Scarlett Pimpernel. In any event, it was the Devil’s Helles Lager that caught the attention and the taste buds of CL. Had to check that out then and that made the verdict unanimous. Clean and crisp with a hint of hops, this is a good one.
Cellar Bar

After our final breakfast, it was time to settle up and say farewell to Cahernane House with a promise to be back. It is a great location to enjoy Killarney. And no bother either about going further afield. We visited Crag Cave in Castleisland. Valentia Island was our furthest trip while the nearest was Torc Mountain (where we managed to get to the top). No doubt the good food helped, not too sure about the drink though! 




See also:
The drive down

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Whiskey Experience in Killarney. Whiskey Galore. Food Too.

The Whiskey Experience in Killarney
Whiskey Galore. Food Too

Here, in a bright room in Killarney, you are surrounded by whiskey. Hundreds of bottles line the shelves. Maybe a 1,000 different types, from Ireland, Scotland, United States and the rest of the world. What do you want?  Aromatic? Complex? Fruity? You’ll surely find it here in the Irish Whiskey Experience in New Street.

But you might be better to visit the website first and go through the listings. You’ll find about 35 pages, 20 bottles per page, new ones, old ones, extremely expensive ones, and thankfully many less expensive ones. Make a short list before calling to Killarney!
Once a major player

And if you know nothing about whiskey, well they’ll teach you. Lots of masterclasses daily, for the expert, for the enthusiast, for the newbie! Oh, by the way, you’ll also be fed here in the Celtic Whiskey Bar and Larder  where they have quite a decent menu, from morning 'til night!

We booked ahead on the site and after a warm welcome were soon seated with the menus, both drink (some excellent craft beers, local gins, and wines also available) and food. After putting in the food order, I began to look at the spirits, the whiskey in particular.

I remember hearing down in the distillery in Midleton that one of the best, if underrated, whiskeys in their vast portfolio is the Jameson Crested and that, at €5.65, was my first choice. I really enjoyed that very pleasant soft whiskey, full bodied, packed with vibrant flavours and spice, a lovely balance of oak and wood, a long warm finish and a winner for me. This is a blend of course of pot still and grain whiskeys.

My next was also a blend. The Tullamore Dew 12 Year Old Special Reserve has been aged (for between 12 and 15 years) in both Bourbon and Oloroso (Sherry) barrels and cost €6.95 per glass (35.5ml). Again this was spicy and smooth and very enjoyable but I must say I preferred the Crested Ten. 

So It just goes to show that you should be guided by your own preferences, certainly not by price! And remember it is individual preferences that keep our local master distillers in form. If everyone went by price, it would soon put a stop to much of the enthusiasm and innovation among the individual distillers, the men and women who give us a wide and exciting range of choice.

Better tell you about the food offering. They start here in the morning with scones and blaas and so on. Then some nibbles, soda bread, various cheese offerings, and more. As the day goes on, small plates and plates come into their own.
Part of the bar

We enjoyed a couple of small plates. I choose the Quinlan’s Smoked Salmon salad with a buttermilk dressing (7.95). Kerry based Quinlan have a great reputation for their salmon and this was excellent. CL too had a lovely salad: St Tola’s Goat cheese with roasted beets, toasted almonds, chives (10.25).
St Tola

Then we moved on to the plates, a little bit more substantial, but I’m sure you can have two small plates if that’s what you want. Anyhow, her next salad wasn't as good, not dressed at all. That came with Wild Atlantic Fishcakes (12.50) and Irish Rapeseed mayonnaise.

I had better luck with a traditional dish that you rarely get out these days: Lamb Liver, with streaky bacon and slathered in a delicious onion gravy and served with sourdough toast (14.95). This was absolutely delicious. 
Delicious liver dish!

Desserts are available, mainly an excuse to try out various drinks with Kenmare ice-creams! And there’s Irish Coffee of course. Next time!

The Whiskey Experience has been open since March and is a great addition to the town. It is bright and comfortable, family friendly too I noted on the night, and the staff are helpful and friendly. A visit is recommended.

The Irish Whiskey Experience
Celtic Whiskey Killarney Bar & Larder
93 New Street
Killarney
Co. Kerry
(064) 663 5700
Facebook: @CelticWhiskeyBarLarder

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Gallery Café in Gort & Coole Park. Halfway Haven

Gallery Café in Gort & Coole Park
Halfway Haven
Quiche

If you're heading from the south to the west or north-west, to the Burren, to Galway, Mayo (Knock for instance), Sligo, or Connemara, or indeed coming in the other direction, then Gort is a good place to stop and refuel and nearby Coole Park a lovely place to stretch those legs.

And speaking of re-fueling, why not try the colourful Galley Café in the Square in Gort. You might just get a parking spot outside the door. And you’ll certainly get a warm welcome inside. If you've kids with you, they’ll have about a dozen pizzas to choose from.




And if you see them heading to the toilets more than usual, relax as they have discovered the fish tank built into the floor! You'll probably be taking a look at at the original art on the wall - the exhibition changes every few weeks.
But you've come here for the food - they do lunch and dinner but note they are closed Mondays and Tuesdays. We were there for lunch recently, on our way back to Cork from Connemara, and can heartily recommend the lively two room café.

CL picked the quiche which featured the well known, well loved, St Tola cheese from Clare in a delicious quiche (€9.00) with spinach and pine-nuts, organic salad and pumpkin seed bread. 

My choice was the Middle Eastern Lamb Mezze (12.00), with cannelloni hummus, beetroot hummus, quinoa, olives, carrots, feta and orange salad and rye bread. Colourful and absolutely gorgeous.

A lovely lively spot with very friendly service and they also do the excellent Badger and Dodo Coffee. But we postponed the coffee until after our walk in nearby Coole Park (you probably know of the poem The Wild Swans at Coole)  associated with Lady Gregory and a whole flock of well known Irish writers

Lamb Mezze

The park is free to enter and there is a nice little café there, with an outside area for the summer. We read our way around the Visitor Centre (also free), also looked at some of the videos and artefacts before we headed out for a walk in the park.


The walled garden is still standing but not, alas, the house. It was donated to the state in the 1920s but was allowed fall into ruin before being demolished. All that remains now is the plinth on which it stood.


The autograph tree
Highlight of the walled garden is an autograph tree, a copper beech that is engraved with initials of many of the leading figures of the Irish Literary Revival who were personal friends of Lady Gregory including William Butler Yeats, Douglas Hyde, George Bernard Shaw, John Millington Synge and Sean O'Casey.
No. 11 is So'C (Sean O'Casey)
No. 10, hard to see,  is WBY (William Butler Yeats)

The Gallery Cafe

The Square

Gort, Co.Galway.
Tel:  (091) 630 630


Ecosculpture by Tom Meskell from brash left behind after
the clearfell of non-native conifers 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Taste of the Week. St Tola Ash Log

Taste of the Week
St Tola Ash Log



It is fresh and creamy and looks quite attractive in its ash coating. I’m talking about St Tola Ash Log, a premium goat's milk cheese and our Taste of the Week. The normal St Tola Log is also delicious but the Ash has that little bit more!


In their own words: “We have a peaty soil near the Atlantic. The St Tola Log cheese is quite natural, a little fruity, hints of the peat and undertones of salt. The St Tola Ash is made in the same way but in smaller log and is rolled in a food grade charcoal to produce the Ash rim. The Ash makes it stand out on the cheeseboard and keeps it fresh.”


And not just fresh. The Ash also enhances the creaminess according to the recent Guide to Cheese by Sheridans: “When ash is used on the rind, it attracts a more even spread of yeast and the cheese can become quite creamy under the skin.” So now you know. Well worth a try.

For more on St Tola, check their website here http://www.st-tola.ie. I got mine in Iago in Princes Street in Cork but it is widely available.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Nash 19. Special at Christmas, and All Year Round

Nash 19. Special at Christmas, and All Year Round
Sweet!

Mentioned some time back that Nash19 pay attention to detail, to the small things on and off the plate. Was reminded of that last Friday when in for lunch. Two of those small things stood out: their delicious crunchy brown bread and the scrumptious roast potatoes. Roast potatoes? Yes indeed. Some establishments around town serve up roast pops that you could use for a score of bowls.

It was very busy in the Prince's Street venue, even the gallery at the back was full. But service was still top class, as efficient and friendly as ever. That, and the food of course, makes Nash 19 a top restaurant all year round.
Hederman platter
Isn't it great to take a menu in your hand and say immediately: “I could eat everything there.” Well it could take you a week or two to work your way through it. So, on the day, you have to choose. You could perhaps take the Producer Plate as a shortcut and you wouldn't go wrong with that choice.

But, on Friday, I went for the Frank Hederman Smoked Fish Plate as my starter, various versions of his famous smoked mackerel and salmon. Swapped a few pieces for a couple of large spoonfuls of CL’s Soup (Red Lentil Dahl topped with Riata). It was a fair exchange. The fish was excellent, as we’ve come to expect, and the soup was terrific, the spices provided by Green Saffron, and, all the while, the brown bread was going down well. The white bread, moistened (should really say soaked!) with their excellent olive oil, was long gone.

St Tola
Time now for the mains. The Tim McCarthy Lamb Shanks had all been eaten but there was considerable consolation in the O’Connell Spiced Beef Rump with Christmas Casseroled Red Cabbage, a perfect combination enhanced by the perfectly cooked vegetables (including those spot-on roasties).

Ten out of ten for that and CL was also thrilled with her dish: St Tola Goats Cheese Warm Salad with Spiced Almonds, and Beets two-way, and also pickled plums, a terrific blend, well thought out and well dispatched. Two empty plates went back to the kitchen.

Souped-up with Green Saffron spice
But just one dessert came out. We were getting full so decided to share the Winter Berry Tart, hot, with cream and custard. Tart and sweet, a lovely warm finalé to a hugely satisfying meal, the earlier courses washed down with Heritage des Cedre Malbec (France 2011), rich, fruity and fresh, sending out a message that Cahors is not about to roll over to Argentina in the battle on for Malbec supremacy.

The meal overall illustrated that Nash 19 is sticking to its guns, supporting local producers all the way. Suppliers, in addition to those already mentioned, include: Little Milk Company Cheese, Ummera, Waterfall Salad Leaves, Horizon Farm, Crowe’s Meats, Lismore Food Company, Hans Sloane Chocolate, Kitty Colchester Rapeseed Oil, Llewellyn’s Cider Vinegar, Arbutus Bread, Sheridan Cheese Biscuits.

Spiced Beef

Christmas Opening Hours at Nash 19

Mon 15 Dec to Fri 19 Dec 7.30 am to 4pm
Saturday 20 Dec 8.30am to 4pm
Sunday 21 Dec 12 to 5pm
Mon 22 & Tue 23rd Dec 7.30am to 4pm
Christmas Eve 7.30am till 1.30pm
Opening after Christmas on January 2nd @ 7.30am

021-4270880







Thursday, September 19, 2013

Margherita! Look what you started.

Bruno’s Mouth-watering Pizzas

Inside Bruno's
In Bruno’s in Kinsale, they make a pizza using Frank Hederman’s smoked mackerel. It is a mouth-watering taste experience.


Probably would not have been recognized in Naples in 1889. At the start of that year, according to food writer Matthew Fort (Eating Up Italy), there were just two pizzas. One was the basic pizza bianca (the crust plus olive oil and a garlic rub), the other the pizza marinara (so called because the sailors could take the ingredients to sea with them).

Then Queen Margherita of Savoy came to visit and they invented the pizza Margherita, “which combines tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves in imitation of the Italian flag in her honour”.
Courgettes like you've never tasted them before; a gem of a starter.
Pizza would never be the same again, as topping after topping was invented and used. Not sure that anywhere else uses the smoked fish, maybe they just haven’t any as good. But, if you are in Kinsale, do drop in to Bruno’s (open from six every evening) and treat yourself.

And you may well keep returning and studying the pizza. You may start at the start as they do both the Marinara and the Margherita and specials keep popping up on their big red board (also on their Facebook page). The mackerel is not the only local produce that Bruno’s use as St Tola Goat Cheese, Jack McCarthy’s Black Pudding and Toonsbridge Mozzarella also appear on the menu.

Aside from the produce, another plus is that the Bruno pizza is done in their own wood fired brick oven, especially imported from Naples. It is complete with paddle which you can see being wielded in the kitchen, viewable as you come in the door.

And another factor is their crust is made from slow rising sourdough. You know the way many pizza edges are hard and usually discarded. Not the case here. I ate every crumb of mine. A little Primitivo and later a little Valpolicella helped!

Not into pizza. Don’t worry. Lots more to choose from, including salad and bruschetta. Perhaps you’d like a fish dish such as Fresh local squid with chill and garlic. Maybe a heap of courgette ribbons.

What was that again? A mound of courgettes ribbons. Yes, indeed, another surprise for your taste buds. Doesn’t sound much, does it. And, even when topped with a bunch of pine nuts, the green and white mix doesn’t look that great.

But take a chance and start eating and soon you’ll know you are enjoying quite a treat. A treat that shows the policy of buying locally and in season and handling the produce well is paying off, not just for Bruno’s Tom and Fiona but for their customers as well. No wonder then that on a gloomy mid-September night, the split level restaurant is full!

Handmade Fresh Ravioli of Organic beetroot and ricotta
 with a lemon and sage butter and rocket and parmesan
It is quite a quirky building, built up the slight slope in the street and finishing as a sharp edge between two streets. That initial triangle is where the kitchen is and then you have two rooms on different levels. The exposed stone walls are whitewashed, ceiling beams are exposed and generous cushions mean you may eat and drink with comfort.

And with some class as well. So now, do go down and try that Hederman pizza. Or of you prefer meat to fish, then maybe the one featuring Jack McCarthy’s black pudding is for you. It will be for me, next time I visit. Margherita! Look what you started.

Fresh local seafood risotto


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chocolate and Cheese Mix from St Tola


Spring In St Tola Air

Spring is in the air at St Tola Goats farm as they see their in-house winter experiments take exciting shape.

The County Clare farm has teamed up with Benoit Lorge, the renowned chocolate master in Kenmare, to create some truly beautiful Cheeserts ....Fresh St Tola Goats Cheese, dipped in the finest dark chocolate and beautifully finished with hazelnuts. They make an elegant and unusual finish to a romantic meal or a great talking point for an Easter Lunch.

Grainne Casey, Sales and Marketing at St Tola told me. “We are aware that the teaming of soft goats’ cheese and chocolate is a somewhat controversial mix.” She needn’t have worried.  Just tasted a sample myself and am delighted with it.

I love St Tola in any case and the outstanding feature of the cheese is its creaminess and that still stands out but now in addition you’ve got this smashing chocolate and the whole experience is one of a delicious balance between the sweetness of the chocolate and the sharpness of the cheese. Next time, especially if romance is in the air, I might get myself a wine to go with the Cheesert, thinking of something like Beaumes de Venise or a Tokaji but open to suggestions.

And speaking of romance, St Tola are going to make a plain heart shaped crottin especially for St Valentine’s Day. The Cheeserts will be launched next week at the Food Forum in Galway and will be available shortly from all good delis nationwide including Fallon and Byrne and Sheridans Cheesemongers.

Further details from Grainne at sales@st-tola.ie


See my October visit to St Tola here

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

St Tola Goat Cheese


St Tola Goat Cheese

Clockwise, from top right: Crottin, Hard on shelve, Hard cut, original log
filling the logs, eating up, and the Ash log.


The goats, all three hundred of them, at St Tola Cheese  near Inagh in County Clare, are looking forward to a better summer next year. “They don’t like the rain,” said our host Grainne Casey, who looks after Sales and Marketing for the organic farm.

The goats didn’t get out as often as they’d like this year but still they were well looked after. The grass was cut and brought into them. But it’s not only the animals that will be looking for a better 2013. Keeping them indoors for extended periods has added hugely to the farm’s costs, as organic feed is not easy to get and costs three times more than your normal feed.

Grainne introduced us to cheese maker Carmen Gal, who is responsible for all aspects of the production operation. Then we enjoyed a very interesting tour of the facility during our recent visit. Grainne explained how the cheeses are made. There are two major types, the regular soft cheese that most people are familiar with and also a lovely hard cheese.

St Tola, under Siobhan Ní Ghairbhith, who took over the reins in 1999, never stands still and have within the last 12 months or so introduced the distinctive St Tola Ash Log, a beautiful creamy cheese that has an ash like covering (edible charcoal).

One of the little girls!


The hard cheese is weather dependent, made only in summer with surplus milk. In a good year, St Tola make it from May to July/August but this bad summer they were curtailed to making it from June to mid July.

Then it was time to meet the animals and, first of all, Grainne introduced us to the “little girls”, most of them born in April or May of this year. Beautiful friendly creatures and so too were most of their elder relations. We didn’t get too close to the Pucks. Apparently they stink! Not too many males “survive” here but those that do have quite a choice!


St Tola started off with three different breeds originally, the idea being to get a good balance of milk, including a good proportion of the cream that helps give the cheeses it gorgeous texture. When they are not indoors, the herd has some sixty five acres to roam around.

All was quiet in the shed, which has one side partly open to the outdoors, until Petru Gal, the Farm Manager, appeared on the scene. Then the goats created quite a din, perhaps expecting an extra treat. Petru, a skilled herdsman, has been here since 2003.
A prize winning selection



The milking is quite an operation and is done twice a day. The facility is mechanised, the ladies are led in to the parlour, their movement restrained, the reward is a little treat, and the whole operation takes about ninety minutes in the morning and the same in the late afternoon. Two hundred are milking and they’ll let you know if you are late!

After the tour, we sat down with Grainne and enjoyed a cuppa and a cheese tasting. The room was a reminder of how far St Tola has come as it is decorated with many awards, from Ireland, Britain and Europe. The products are widely available and you may see the full list of stockists here.
Two happy pucks