Showing posts with label Stuart Bowes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stuart Bowes. Show all posts

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Barnabrow’s Gourmet Evening Exceeds Expectations

Barnabrow’s Gourmet Evening Exceeds Expectations
Exceptional Wine and Food Pairings
Calm, before the gourmet storm
Fine food, paired so well with gorgeous wines by ENO, featured in Barnabrow House last Saturday night as owner Geraldine Kidd continued to celebrate 20 years in business in the lovingly-restored manor house and 30-acre estate which dates back to the 17th century. The gourmet event was held in the majestic, medieval-style banqueting hall, with its gothic windows, a splendid room that sets a grand, yet relaxed tone.

Chef Stuart Bowes, who came to the East Cork venue some five years ago with an impressive pedigree - he once cooked for 2,000 people at the Sydney Opera House - came in for praise from the owner: “He made us pull our socks up!”

Stuart  thanked everyone for coming. “It was quickly booked up. We have the best ingredients in the planet around here and my ethos is to keep it simple.” He pointed to the Périgord truffles, the Kerry venison and the blood orange from Sicily as probable highlights.

Donie O’Brien of Eno Wines had carefully selected wines to match the dishes and we enjoyed an organic Cava, Pares Balta Cava NV with the opening soup: Soupe de Poisson, Gruyere and Rouille. The Rouille sauce is most often used in the cuisine of Provence, most often with bouillabaisse and indeed the lovely soup had strong echoes of the southern French fish soup.

Ballotine

We had already been welcomed into the beautifully decorated venue, where Barnabrow hold their wedding feats, with a glass of the Cava. Donie congratulated Barnabrow and promised a real wine treat and he was fully justified in doing so. Most of ENO wines come from small producers and many are organic.

And, indeed, the next wine was the star of his selection, the next match a highlight of the evening. Stuart’s Ballotine of Organic Chicken and Ham Hock, Hazelnut, Pain d’Épices was paired with J. Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay 2015 from California. 

The producer is a “real perfectionist”. The wine has been fermented and raised in oak yet Mr Lohr, a former NASA employee, has judged it all very finely indeed. No wonder, Ashford Castle are about to include it and its amazing aromas, flavours and texture, on their list.

Truffles
Speaking of aromas, next up was the Winter Black Périgord Truffle Risotto. Another outstanding and superbly executed dish from the Bowes kitchen. No oak used in the production of the matching wine, a light and fresh Pinot Noir from the Auvergne. A lovely wine with spice, fruit and finish but the Truffle dish was the star of this round.

That was followed by the main event, the Wild Venison, Roast celeriac, Savoy Cabbage, Blackberry. A simple dish but every element played a part. The Venison was perfect, I loved the cabbage and the blackberry was a great idea.


Venison

And ENO came up with another terrific match: Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva 2012, very smooth and rounded, opulent and rich, very much the complete wine. Decanter Magazine declared the 2010 version “best in Spain”.

And before I forget, the service here was intuitive and unobtrusive, efficient and friendly. And continuing in a sweet vein, we next enjoyed a sweet and rich cheese course: Truffled Brie de Meaux, honey, Poppy Seed Dorrito. Just like every other course, the quantity was just spot-on, the quality never in doubt.


Truffled Brie de Meaux

And we also had a rich and sweet wine: Quinta Seara d’Ordens LBV Port 2007. So much sweetness in one drop, one little sip was enough each time. What a match. Perfect!

And dessert saw those oranges take to the stage, or at least to the table, in an eye-catching palate-pleasing Blood Orange Trifle. Superb. And still time to finish off with a selection of Petit Fours and tea or coffee.

Blood Orange Trifle

Time to rest!


The carefully designed menu and the matching wines made it an evening to remember and impressed the many guests, some here to check Barnabrow as a possible wedding venue, others (based on past experiences) back to enjoy .

Geraldine Kidd’s enterprise is a superb location for weddings (the majestic, medieval-style banqueting hall, with its gothic windows, sets a grand, yet relaxed tone), for corporate events, for celebrations of all kinds (birthday parties, christenings, naming ceremonies, and Christmas parties) and, don't forget, for Sunday lunch. Check it all out here 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Beautiful Barnabrow. An East Cork Hideaway

Beautiful Barnabrow
An East Cork Hideaway
We came in off the narrow twisting road and drove up an even narrower lane, where trees meet overhead, donkeys and ducks in the small fields. The sun was shining brightly as we approached the inviting restaurant, set in trees with parasols and tables outside. We could well have been on the continent but were in one of East Cork’s delightful venues.

Barnabrow, twenty years in business under Geraldine Kitt, is renowned as a wedding venue. But we were here for Sunday lunch and, as always, chef Stuart Bowes delivered, much of the produce coming from the nearby walled garden.
Starters
The restaurant is also rather special inside. It is here in in this spacious lovingly decorated room that the wedding feasts take place. With its pointed arch windows there is a semi-religious look to it. And your servers come and go into and from what looks like a confessional.

We nibbled on fresh and delicious sourdough (with Glenilen butter) as we studied the menu, two courses for 23.50, three for 27.00. Children may have half adult portions (though various goujons are available too) for 13.50.
Kilmore Quay Hake, soft potato puree, Fennel, Olive & Citrus salsa, Port reduction.
This was our other main dish. Superb. Empty plate went back!
Creamed celeriac, truffle and toasted almonds were the ingredients of the soup but, with the day being so warm, we decided on something else. CL went for the Clonakilty Black Pudding Salad, Crispy Potatoes Alsace, Feta, Apple and Tomato dressing. Quite a substantial starter but full of great flavor and texture.

I had been looking at the Ardsallagh Goats Cheese with confit red onion and hazelnut dressing but picked the Salmon Rillette, Cream Cheese, garden beetroot, and poppy seed dorito. With contrast provided by the dorito, this was a smooth and rich delight.

Lamp, stuffed pepper on right.
There was beef (with Ragu of Ballyhoura mushrooms) and lamb on the mains. I had enjoyed the beef on  a previous occasion so this time choose the Roast Leg of Kildare Lamb, Stuffed Piquillo pepper, Apple and Garden Mint Relish. A superb combination, every bit playing a part, and, for sharing, the sides (especially the full-of-flavour carrots) were just brilliant, looked well, tasted even better.

We were thinking of sharing a dessert but, under some gentle persuasion, went for broke! The deciding factor here was Mum's shortbread, Stuart’s Mum that is! And that shortbread came with the gorgeous Lemon Posset with crushed raspberries, a major step-up on the little jars you often get. And, yes, Mum’s shortbread was class.
Vegetable side dish
The other dessert enjoyed was the Iced Parfait of sea salt and caramel with marshmallows and strawberry sauce. I had a idea this was going to be excellent and it was. Just the job before we headed off into the East Cork sunlight for a stroll around the grounds which boasts a view out towards Ballycotton Bay and the lighthouse.

With all the different buildings, the various sheltered outdoor nooks and corners, one with a good area of decking with seating, the trees and flowers, the animals, the walled garden, it is a great location for a wedding and this is the heart of the business. There is even an adjoining accommodation “village”.
Dessert
In addition, the house (with is many different sized rooms) and grounds accommodates quite a few corporate functions, some serious, some fun. And do watch out too for special events, such as a Valentine’s weekend getaway.

Well done to Geraldine and her team on the twenty years and here’s to another twenty!
I confess, I ate well
Barnabrow House
Cloyne, Midleton
County Cork
Tel: +353 21 4652534
Twitter: @barnabrowhouse

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Super Sunday at Barnabrow

Super Sunday at Barnabrow
Your summer salads, all five.
Not for the first time, we enjoyed a superb Sunday lunch at Barnabrow House. Well known for its great weddings the rest of the week, Geraldine Kidd’s country house serves up a beauty at lunchtime every Sunday.

Local suppliers are used by Chef Stuart Bowes and the cordial Scot also benefits from Barnabrow’s walled garden, with big boxes of fresh produce regularly available, vegetables, salads, fruit and flowers, that Stuart uses judiciously to enhance the various dishes.

Hake
 Sunday was the second day of their new summer menu. It was perhaps best illustrated by the side dishes, no less than five magnificent salads, everything from French beans to chick peas to roast potatoes with almonds.

CL started with a Rosscarbery Black Pudding salad, a beauty. The renowned black pudding from West Cork was served with crispy potatoes, apple, Feta, and a semi-dried tomato dressing. An excellent starter with the very thinly cut apple playing a leading role in bringing it all together.

I started with the Gulfstream smoked salmon served with pickled fennel, Omega seeds and an olive tapenade. The salmon was terrific, even on its own, but the other bits and pieces, particularly the tapenade, brought it to a higher level.

So two great starters to get us off the mark. We could also have enjoyed Whipped Ardsallagh Goats Cheese with Confit Red Onion and hazelnut dressing and the soup which was Butternut Vanilla with Toasted Almonds and Garden Herb Oil.


 The incredibly high standard was maintained throughout with excellent main courses where the irresistible summer salads made their appearance. And this amazing quality comes at a great price in a very comfortable well decorated setting. You may have two courses for twenty euro, three for twenty five and your coffee or tea is also included.

CL hooked the Baked Fillet of Kilmore Quay Hake with a white onion and parmesan sauce. For me it was the Roast Sirloin of O’Connell’s Beef with Szechuan Pepper Sauce. Both were perfectly cooked and so enhanced by those amazing side dishes for sharing, all five of them!

Time enough but not too much room for dessert. From the tempting list, we picked the Raspberry and Almond Tart, with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, for sharing. Fresh from the walled garden, the raspberries were delicious and the tart itself, so well presented, so well cooked, the balance of ingredients so well judged, was an absolute joy.

Another excellent experience in this lovely venue and a lovely friendly service too by the way. Very Highly Recommended for your Sunday lunch.






Monday, November 18, 2013

Barnabrow House - a special place for lunch


Barnabrow House - a special place
Many of you will know that Barnabrow House is a special place for weddings. But did you know you can also enjoy a very special Sunday lunch there? The quality of Stuart Bowes’s cooking is well known and the value is amazing, two courses (plus tea and coffee) for €20.00, three courses (plus tea and coffee) for €25.00.


Take a stroll through the grounds before or after your meal and see the poultry, the donkeys and the goats. You will also spot the walled garden from which much of produce comes as you make your way to the church like Trinity Rooms Restaurant, beautifully decorated and furnished and also quite large. Here you see that local producers such as Green Saffron, O’Connell’s and Caherbeg appear on the tempting menu.
We were there on Sunday and the place was full. And soon we were to see why. Not the longest of menus but still you need time to make up your mind. Eventually, I picked the Gulfstream oak smoked salmon with marinated roast beetroot, omega seeds and wasabi Chantilly. This is the same salmon that Bowes use on his famous Barnabrow Benedict for breakfast and it is gorgeous, enhanced by the accompaniments.
Caherbeg Pork taster.
Our other starter was Confit Duck Terrine, plum chutney, hazelnut chutney and crisp bread. Add in a slice of duck breast and it was another top class treat. Other starters on the day included Gnocchi, roast garden veg, tomato, sugo parmesan and Soup (Roast tomato , almonds and herb oil).
Could have eaten any of the main courses on offer. Did get a taster of their fabulous baked Caherbeg free range pork, colcannon potato, parsnip, carrot and Madeira juice. What a winner, the perfect match between the parsnip and the pork a particular highlight.

But it was highlights all around here. My main course of Roast Sirloin of O'Connell’s beef, cavalo nero, caramelised onions and Szechuan pepper sauce was incredible, so tender and full of flavours, all playing off one another, no element in the plate wasted, a perfect alchemy.
Vegetables, with scattering of almonds to the left!
Must say a word about the vegetables, a bowl of perfectly done (no bother to anyone whose teeth aren’t what they were!) roast potatoes and creamed cauliflowers and broccoli. And our other main course was another flawless culinary joy: Pan Seared fillet of Sea Bass, with soft potato puree, cauliflower and parmesan risotto, smoked paprika.


Could we be tempted by dessert? Well, with the kitchen in this kind of from, the answer had to be in the affirmative. CL picked the spiced apple crumble with Chantilly cream, a seasonal delight, the spices by neighbours Green Saffron, the apples from Barnabrow’s own orchard!

For me, it was the Milk Chocolate Mousse with spiced oranges and shortbread, a delectable pairing, another piece of magic from the kitchen.

White chocolate and orange.

Service, as you might expect, is quietly excellent, courtesy and efficiency combined. As I said at the start, it is a rather special place thanks to the efforts of owner Geraldine Kidd, her Head Chef and their staff. Very highly recommended for your Sunday lunch.







Monday, November 26, 2012

Discover the magic of Barnabrow


Discover the magic of Barnabrow

 Barnabrow House, a top wedding and Sunday lunch venue, reveals its magic little by little. Driving up the tree lined lane on a dark winter’s night, you might easily imagine a band of fairies at the weak edge of the headlight beams. In the morning, no imagination required, you will see a bunch of friendly donkeys, four generations, including a couple of this year’s foals.

Climb up a little higher behind the house towards the main restaurant, where the weddings are held, and lift your head and you will see a terrific view, over the neighbours in Ballymaloe, all the way to Ballycotton on the coast and its lighthouse winking in the grey morning light.


Lodge interior

Imagine this in the Spring and Summer. Then you begin to realise why the fairy of Cloyne based herself here, not that we did get to see the fairy fort. But there is so much else to see here, thanks to the magic, not to mention the hard work, of owner Geraldine Kidd who has been restoring and developing the ancient house and its surrounding acres over the past 16 years.

And the newest magic, and again hard work, is being supplied by recently installed head chef Stuart Bowes. His aim is to make everything on the table “as local, as organic and as fresh as possible”. We saw the motto put into super tasty reality in a stunning meal in one of the dining rooms in the house and you may read all about it here.

As part of a party of journalists and bloggers, we were welcomed warmly by Geraldine and her staff.  As we sipped the mulled wine, she explained that the place had been evolving for hundreds of years. After working in London, Geraldine came to visit Ballymaloe, saw the melons growing in the greenhouse, "an epiphany moment",  and signed up for a three months course.




Lodges

 She added to her cooking experience with a stint in the Arbutus and also worked with Denis Cotter of Café Paradiso and also in Midleton’s Farmgate. She bought it “very cheaply” in the mid 90s. It has proved very popular as a wedding venue.

After a candlelit breakfast, Geraldine and Stuart took us on a tour of the facility, which is on three levels, almost terraces. There are various accommodation units and at the top you have the large room where the weddings are held and directly in front there is a decked area from which you have the views over East Cork. It is an exclusive location and a bespoke service is offered to each bride and groom.

They can cater for up to wedding150 guests and, yes they can stay overnight, not in the house itself but in a dozen or so lodges nearby. And very impressive lodges they are. Can be used by non wedding guests as well.



All are individually furnished and very tastefully so, loads of space. The one we toured had a huge kitchen cum living room, a massive upstairs bedroom (double and 2 singles), and as much downstairs, including a four poster bed.




Wedding venue
The rooms in the main house itself are also individually furnished with different styles from traditional to bright and airy with a Mediterranean touch. Ours had its own touches, among them some old suitcases casually on the top of the wardrobe and a packed bookcase.



Accomodation
Indeed, the house itself can be something of a mystery to the first timer. Which door to use? In the room where we dined, you push a door and a bookcase revolves to meet you.

In the greenhouse
On our walkabout, we were accompanied by the dogs, and saw the donkeys and the walled garden where Stuart can get his grapes, organic purples ones. His know-how and a little pectin is added and hey presto you have a delectable purple jelly! More animals on view, including a goat and also some poultry wandering around. All so natural here.





And that about sums up Barnabrow, hidden behind the trees for most of the year. Just another farmhouse you might think but there is a magic at work here, the latest supplied by the accomplished young Scottish chef. Well worth a visit. Or two. One couple with us had been married here a few years ago and enjoyed the return to Barnabrow.

Introducing Chef Stuart Bowes at Barnabrow

Introducing Chef Stuart Bowes at Barnabrow

 Experienced Scottish chef Stuart Bowes is the new Head Chef at Barnabrow House  in East Cork and owner Geraldine Kidd introduced him to the media last week. Later Stuart introduced himself with a smashing dinner.

But first we met in the smaller kitchen of the big house, Geraldine’s own kitchen! She told us Stuart spent six years training at the Michelin starred Chapter One in the UK before embarking on a trip to Australia where he broadened his experience before coming to Cork to work in the Orchids restaurant in Hayfield Manor. He joined Barnabrow last June.

While doing a little demo in the kitchen, Stuart told us that “preparation is vital...helps get consistency..whether your group is 20 or 120.”

 While demoing his Rabbit dish that we would so enjoy later on, he spoke of a new experience at the wedding meals in Barnabrow, the shared platter, which we would also see later. “We give the couple the choice and so far two have taken the shared platter. The reaction has been great and we hope to do more with it.” Many see the platter as a good ice-breaker.

Having talked the talk, Stuart walked the walk, starting us off with Cork-a-leekie! That Scottish classic was given an East Cork twist by the proud Scot with Dan Aherne’s organic chicken and leeks from Barnabrow’s own walled garden.

Some of my tasty bits from the Shared Platter

Conversation was now flowing and that flow was further enhanced as the shared platter was passed around. The wines too were flowing and they also were top notch. I could go on and on with the superlatives but I think I’ll just let you have a look at rest of the menu now. Top produce and a top chef meant we were in foodie heaven for the very enjoyable candlelit evening meal.

Food to Share:
Platters of Barnabrow’s home smoked Mallard duck, Gulf stream oak smoked salmon, Rosscarbery’s free range pork, pistachio and cranberry terrine, jamon Serrano.
Barnabrow’s home grown and home pickled artichokes, roasted and marinated beetroot and garden leaves, Olive Hallinan’s Cloyne Goat Cheese accompanied by hazelnut dressing, fig puree, aged balsamic and Barnabrow basil pesto.
Homemade rosemary and onion focaccia, hot crusty bread rolls.
Wine: Domaine Emilian Gillet 2009 from Burgundy.

 Bitter Sweet Sorbet:
Gin and pink grapefruit sorbet tanged with their very own organic apple jelly, married with fresh cucumber.



Main Course:
Loin of East Cork wild rabbit, poached and roasted, with a pithivier of rabbit leg, Cloyne quince, Barnabrow walled garden spinach and 8 Degrees Ale jus.
Wine: Paddy Borthwick Pinot Noir 2010.

Dessert:
Coast meets culture. Stuart’s parfait of Irish Atlantic sea salt and caramel with Green Saffron spiced marshmallows and Valrhona chocolate sabayon.
Wine: Château Joly Cuvee Jean.

One magnificent meal. Perhaps the humble rabbit provided the highlight but then I wouldn’t want to miss either the Shared Platter or the Dessert. Great stuff, thanks to Geraldine, to Stuart and their lovely staff.