Showing posts with label Tapas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tapas. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tapas at Schull’s Casa Diego. And Farewell to lovely Stanley House

Tapas at Schull’s Casa Diego

And Farewell to lovely Stanley House
Huevos Estrellados

After trips to Three Castles Head and Mount Gabriel and, in between, a lovely lunch at Budds, we were wondering where to eat on our last night in Schull. Had earlier spotted Casa Diego and thought the flexibility (stop when full, maybe!) of tapas might well fit the bill.

They certainly did. Aside from a long list of tapas they also do a more structured meal with starter, mains and so on. They have an indoor dining room and also a bunch of tables on a sheltered sloping garden. And it was the open air venue that we chose.
Pimientos Rellenos

And choosing from the long list wasn't easy as there were many tempting dishes there, everything from Banderillas (a small skewer containing spicy crunch cocktail onions, peppers and olives) to Chorizos a la sidra (chorizo in cider) to Gambas al ajillo (local scampi in garlic, virgin extra oil and chilli).

The wine list isn't as long but I did spot a favourite, the Semele, with its distinctive design, the letters forming a person drinking. Karwigs import this and it has a complex nose, well-ripened red fruit, and is dry, with a well-rounded finish. Certainly enjoyed that.

We started with a selection of the tapas and later ordered more! Favourites included the Pimientos Rellenos (Piquillo peppers with a selection of mushroom or vegetables); the Huevos Estrellados (Fried eggs with potatoes and Iberican ham); the Michirones (Fava beans stewed with cured ham, potatoes, chorizo and bay leaves); the Embutido Ibérico (a massive plate of Spanish chorizo, lean pork sausage with coarse black pepper, and Iberican Ham); and the Berenjena Rellena (stuffed aubergines wth minced meat and homemade tomato covered with melted parmesan cheese). 

The only bum note was struck, surprisingly, by the Patatas Bravas. You get a plateful of the spicy cubes but most of the bigger cubes weren't fully cooked. Still, we had more than enough from the smaller ones as the plate was big and packed.

Service had been friendly and excellent throughout. When we went up to pay we were told they didn't accept credit cards. Had we been eating in the inside room, we’d probably have seen that on the door. We were told there was an ATM in Centra, just down the street. So we walked down there and brought back the cash to the friendly trusting folks in Casa Diego. By the way, L’Escale, on the pier, is another restaurant that doesn’t take credit cards.
Schull harbour from Stanley House

On the following morning (Sunday), we said goodbye to Nancy and her lovely Stanley House on the Colla Road. Our room had a gorgeous sea-view as had most of the outdoor areas and gardens. They cook an excellent breakfast here too and Nancy is very helpful with directions and tips on what to do in the area.

Still time to call down to the Country Market which is held every Sunday morning in summer. Lots of good things here from homemade baking and jams to a full sized Gubbeen stall where we lingered awhile, tasting a smashing two year Coolea with Tom Ferguson himself. Filled a bag there and then took a final walk along the shore. Didn't get too far in the sun. Just sat down on one of the many seats and watched some swimmers come in after what looked like a long one.


Thursday, February 9, 2017

El Vino. Top Tapas. And Much More.

El Vino. Top Tapas.
And Much More.
Monkfish & Serrano
It was cold outside but that was soon forgotten as we joined the diners in the packed downstairs section of the El Vino restaurant at the Elysian in Cork last weekend. Mentioned the Elysian there as they also operate an El Vino in Douglas.

Great buzz downstairs. We were offered a table upstairs too but went with the happy noises. Upstairs would soon fill too. We were quickly seated and studying the menus. Lots of tapas here and they also double as starters but you may, of course, stick with tapas for the evening. We may well do that another time but some dishes on the mains section caught our eye.

Piquillo peppers
 Not easy to pick just two from the tapas list but we did manage it. My choice was the Crispy Fried Calamari, Arrocina Bean Stew, Chorizo, Squid Ink Emulsion (8.95). Delighted wth it. The squid was cooked to perfection and that bean mix (great texture, slightly nutty flavour) with the little bits of chorizo was a very tasty accompaniment. 

You come across these Roast Piquillo Peppers a lot in the Basque country and they were CL’s pick. Hers were stuffed with Goats Cheese, Chorizo, Bread Crumbs & Herbs, Rocket Salad & Toasted Almonds (7.95). We did share, of course, and it was  another perfect dish. And I'm sure there are quite a few more on that extensive list. Check it out here
Calamari
Time then for the main event, fish for me, chicken for her. Steak, Pork Belly, Hake and salads were also on the menu. CL’s Pan Fried Chicken Breast  was stuffed with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Mozzarella & Basil, and came with Mediterranean Vegetables, Ratatouille, Tomato & Pesto (17.95). The chicken was top drawer, delicious and moist and the Ratatouille was excellent in its own right as well as being a great match for the poultry.

Pan Fried Monkfish Wrapped in Serrano Ham, Crushed Baby Potatoes, Chargrilled Courgettes, Samphire & Romesco (nut and red pepper based) Sauce (25.95) was my pick, quite an epic dish, beautifully cooked (the ham spot on, moist and tender) and so well presented, probably the best dish of its type in a long time.

CL got those Crushed Baby Potatoes as well and we also got an included side dish of vegetables (including broccoli, carrot and sugar snap), again perfectly cooked. If the kitchen takes care of the minor things, then there’s a great chance that the bigger dishes will be good as well and that was certainly the case here.



Chicken & Ratatouille
 All the while we were sipping our white wines, a Pinot Grigio and an Albarino, and having the odd chat with our servers who were, without exception, friendly and efficient, all adding to the experience here.

We were each nearing the limit at this stage but couldn't resist sharing a dessert, the El Vino Baked Alaska (6.50). Glad we did as it provided a sweet end to a lovely evening.

Good too to see they they support local and include Brian St Ledger Fruit & Veg, Tom Durcan, The Chicken Inn, Kay O’Connell Fish, The Real Olive, Clona Dairy and Ardsallagh Cheese, among their suppliers. Very Highly Recommended.  

Baked Alaska

El Vino
The Elysian 
Eglinton Street  
Cork
Telephone: 0214318530

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Feed Your Senses. Alimenta Tus Sentidos

Feed Your Senses
Alimenta Tus Sentidos 
Delicias Alicantinas

It is a cold night in the city but we are snug inside 27 Washington Street with some warming Spanish food. And downing a glass or two of Juan Gil’s red wine (Monastrell grape) from Jumilla, not normally available by the glass (€6.50). Pleasant and easy drinking, it is one of this evening’s Chef Recommendations (Specials) at Feed Your Senses (or Alimenta Tus Sentidos) a Spanish Tapas restaurant that has been operating here since early 2015.

It is a small place, so we booked. In out of the cold, we had a table by the window as we studied the specials and the full menu, lots of small and bigger tapas. There are various little “bites” and salads but we were seeking warm stuff and went straight to that section.

Spuds and two sauces
 Two dishes came together - we were sharing all through. The Delicias Alicantinas were Fried Dates (with the stone removed and replaced by an Almond “heart" and wrapped in bacon (€5.00). A little piece of Alicante heaven, they promised, and it certainly was.

The other special was Patatas Bravas Two Sauces (€8.00). The sauces were hot brava and alioli and they made it a delicious plateful. Later, I was wondering why we Irish, long-time spud lovers, haven’t taken this dish on board in our homes and restaurants.
"Queen Tapa"
 The Croquetas de Jamón were next up. These Ham croquettes, “our Queen tapa”, “soft and creamy”, were served with home-made Escalivada (8.00). They were indeed soft and creamy, with added flavour from the little crunchy bits of ham. The sauce is of roasted vegetables, somewhat similar to ratatouille.

As we were tucking into the croquettes, the Homemade Meatballs, or Albondigas to give them their proper name, arrived. These Spanish meatballs, are made with Irish beef and pork, onion, garlic, etc., and served with home-made tomato sauce and hand-cut chips. (10.50). A lovely warm dish for the night that was in it.
Meat Balls
 And this time we had room for dessert or at least for the small one we noticed on the recommendations for the day: Strawberry and Crema Catalana (3.00). A vasito of creamy deliciousness each, under a crispy topping, to send us on our way.

The Spanish products do of course come from Spain but the restaurant relies heavily on local producers and number the Alternative Bread Company, Ballycotton Seafood, Kay O’Connell, the Chicken Inn, Hassett’s Bakery among their suppliers in the English Market.

Postre

27 Washington Street West
Cork
Tel: (021) 427 4633


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Salt Wine & Food on Victoria Road. A Winning Docket!

Salt Wine & Food on Victoria Road

A Winning Docket!

On the “vee" between Monahan Road and Victoria Road, there is an undistinguished low level building, close to a tool hire operation. It once housed a bookie’s office where you could lose your money on a nag without getting a run for it. At least nowadays, you’ll get value for your hard-earned cash as the modest building (maybe it looks better by day!) is now home to Salt, a wine bar and café with quite a distinguished menu of food and drink. I certainly felt like a winner as I left after a recent visit.
Tacos
It was a cold night and we were glad of the warm welcome inside. In no time at all we were seated and going through the evening menu of tapas (they also do breakfast and lunch, and brunch at weekends). The evening's specials were pointed out to us and they all looked tempting.

And speaking of temptation, the wine list is full of it, quite a selection of new and old world bottles and bubbles too. Some excellent gins too, Bertha’s Revenge and Dingle among them, and craft beers (both local, Eight Degrees, and imported, Brewdog). We settled on a glass each of the refreshing Real Compania Verdejo Tiera De Castilla (Spain) and of the aromatic Butterfly Ridge Riesling Gewurtz (South Australia), both very enjoyable indeed.

Watch out too for their occasional music nights (Flamenco during the Jazz Fest) and Wine Tasting Events (they included Italian and New Zealand nights last autumn) and they also held a Dine in the Dark Night. So lots happening here on the Victoria Road.


Coco Catalan
We ordered three different tapas to share. Now, as in most Irish cafes and restaurants, these are the bigger tapas (known as Racions in Spain), not the small ones that you devour with a bite or two. The three dishes, all excellent, and the two glasses of wine came to a few cent over forty euro.

We found each enjoyable but my top one was the Coco Catalan: Roast butternut squash and onion, confit garlic, nuts (can vary), raisins and pecorino on a lovely flat bread. This looked great and tasted every bit as good, quite a substantial dish too, bigger than your average starter.

CL was delighted with the Crispy Fish Tacos, cod served with fresh tacos, kimchi slaw, mango salsa, guacamole. She loved the colour, the texture, the flavours. Just goes to show, we don't always agree! Though I gave the nod to the Coco Catalan, I too was very happy with my half (well, almost half) of the Tacos!

We always enjoy Spanish tarts so the Tortilla del Sol was on our order. This Spanish omelette cooked with roast potatoes, confit onions, Espelette pimentos and garlic served with avocado, was served in four large pieces, ideal for sharing as indeed were all three tapas that we had. Ideally, a group of three or four is required here and then you can taste quite a few, including specials such as the three that were on offer the other night (see pic).

Service was top notch, friendly, chatty, helpful.

Mini Burgers. Pic by Salt
Salt
Victoria Road, Cork
Phone: (021) 239 0430
website: www.saltcork.ie 
Facebook: @saltcork
Twitter @saltcork

Opening Times (seasonal)
Mon-Tue 9.00-5.00
Wed-Fri 9.00-11.00
Sat 10.00-11.00
Sun 10.00-5.00

Directions here 


Friday, July 24, 2015

The Atrium is the Plaza to be. Tapas in the Clarion

The Atrium is the Plaza to be

Tapas in the Clarion
Enjoying the Tapas with Alice (@fabfoodcork)
The well known Atrium in the Clarion is transformed into a Spanish Plaza. Spanish chef Maria is dishing up the Tapas of her homeland here every Tuesday to Friday (5.30pm to 8.00pm). And it is not just the food that shouts Viva Espana. A new range of Spanish wines, accompanies the tapas and intensifies that relaxing feeling of being on holiday right in the middle of the city. And, if the sun isn't shining, even if it is, take a look at the colourful new seating before you sink in.

I was in for the “official launch” last week and enjoyed the food, the wine and the company. And isn't that what Tapas are all about. There is quite a selection each evening and all are reasonably priced.

You may have Patatas Bravas (a standard in all Tapas menus in this part of the world) with a spicy Tomato Salsa. Simple but always a welcome dish. My favourite was another fairly common one: the Roasted Red Pepper and Confit Potato Frittata, full of real flavour, simply and honestly prepared.

Another that made my taste buds stand to attention was the Salted Cod Croquettes with a Lemon Aioli, sharp and satisfying. Other favourites at the table included Arancini (delicious crispy fried risotto balls), Mehico Meat Balls with a smoky Tomato Sauce, and Chorizo and Roast Squash salad with sun-dried Tomato.
Adrian introduced the new range of wines to accompany the Tapas. They are supplied by Findlaters and are a good match. All are available by the glass, of course, with prices ranging from €6.50 to €9.25.

In the reds, the general favourite at our table (I didn't take a vote) seemed to be Marques de Riscal Ardo Rioja, with all the flavours and aromas typical of the region. I took a punt on the Torres Atrium Merlot - I liked the name, for a start. By the end, I loved the wine, smooth and rich and a great drop, especially with the Tapas. Other reds were Torres Mas Rabell and Innurrita Norte.

I didn't get as much feedback on the whites but I do know and like the Riscal Rueda. This Verdejo is very versatile and obviously a good choice for Tapas. The Innurrita Sauvignon Blanc from Navara also came in for praise. The others, and I’m sure they were all fine, were Torres Mas Rabell and the Olvena Chardonnay.

It turned to be a very enjoyable evening and a big thanks you to Sonia and Donna and the staff of the Atrium, the inner courtyard of the Clarion (celebrating ten years in business), for looking after us so well. See you soon!

Monday, May 13, 2013

On The Tapas Trail. Cork and Dublin.


On The Tapas Trail
Hit the Cork Tapas Trail with Rioja wine-maker Campo Viejo last Sunday and it was a good one. Four restaurants were visited over the course of a leisurely two and half hours, tapas galore were consumed and no shortage of their 2007 Reserva either!


This is the first year that the trails are being held in Cork. The Cornstore, Arthur Mayne, Oysters and Electric are the participating restaurants. Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons are the days and it is great value at twenty euro. The Cork trails run from now until June 5th (with June 2nd excluded) while the Dublin dates, again Wednesdays and Sundays, are from June 9th until July 17th.  More info here.

Paul
There were four groups on last Sunday's Cork trail. Ours started in the Cornstore with a glass of Campo Viejo Cava and a selection of gorgeous tapas with the Jack McCarthy Pudding and Queen Scallop my favourite though I got through them all including that luxurious flourless chocolate cake at the end. By the way, did you know that the Cornstore are now dry aging their own beef with Himalayan salt and that means their steaks are extra special at the moment.

Cornstore: Baby Octopus (nearest)
and Black Pudding & Queen Scallop.
Our guide was Paul and he told us a few yarns about the city as we strolled between the various restaurants. Next call was to Arthur Mayne Chemist in Pembroke Street. Not now a chemist, though many interesting artefacts remain on view, but a wine bar cum cafe. 

Got some tasty stuff here too, including a meat and cheese platter and a lovely treat on the way out, a sinful mouthful of their Mint Aero Chocolate Mousse. Didn't realise they had such an extensive menu here. Must call again.



Then we got a big welcome from Donal and his crew in Oysters and a lovely selection of their food on a board. Highlight? Hard to pick one. The swordfish was superb but then so too was the Butternut, Squash and Sage Risotto, the Duck Parfait and the....  Much of this board also features on their €35.00 table de hote menu, available nightly until 7.00pm. And one that I can highly recommend!
 


Then it was up the Mall to Electric, our final stop on the trail. Here Jason filled us in on their short hectic history and on their most recent development, the lovely fish bar upstairs. Treats here included a Crab Mousse and a very special Polenta and Wild Garlic Mini-muffin (below). No shortage of the Campo Viejo red either as an interesting afternoon came to a pleasant end by the banks of the Lee.





Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Les sœurs Jacques


Les sœurs Jacques

Jacques, one of Cork’s oldest restaurants,  has always had two smiling sisters, Jacque and Eithne. Now it’s got two entrances, the latest onto Oliver Plunkett Street. Two styles also as here, in this comfortable informal space, something lighter, close to tapas, is served on small (not that small, mind you!) plates. But, don’t worry, the quality is as high as ever.

Jacque had the day off when we called for some early bites but Eithne was there as the new space filled up about six o’clock last Friday evening; it opens for the tapas at 5.30pm. Had a look at the short wine list – fits on a page - and started with a carafe (250ml) of the Picpoul de Pinet 2011, Domaine Delsol, Languedoc, quite a decent example of the type.


Made our first food choices from the blackboard, which is small and brought to your table. Picked two fish dishes for sharing, one was Fish Cakes with tartare sauce (8.00) and the other was Crab Toes Asian Style (7.00). A delightful duo.

Onto to the next round and a new wine, this time a glass each of the appropriately named Domaine St Jacques  d’Albas, a really good Minervois from the south of France.

More choices now as the board came again and this time the picks were Mexican Style Meat Balls with Tomato Fondue (7.00), really tasty with just a hint of piquancy. And we also ordered and thoroughly enjoyed the USA style sticky ribs with Jacque’s slaw (9.00).

Jacques Restaurant is located at the heart of Cork City near the G.P.O. They are open Monday 10am - 4pm and Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 10pm. Lunch is served from 12pm - 4pm, side plates and tapas from 5.30pm to 10pm and the evening dinner menu (in the “old” section) is available between 6pm and 10pm. Those sisters will keep you going all day long!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tapas at Skibbereen’s Riverside Café


Spanish delights in Skibbereen evening sun
Albarino, almost same colour as the olive oil behind
Having spent a day in the West Cork sun last Saturday, and having walked every step in the exhilarating MizenHead experience, I was looking forward to dinner in Majella O’Neill’s Riverside Café in Skibbereen.

Had checked out the fish specials and thought they were just what were wanted. But there was a change of plan on entry to this lovely restaurant. The lady looking after us was from Galicia and so too was the chef. We noticed the Tapas Tasting menu on a board and went for it.
Seafood Bon Bon
We were seated close to the windows with a nice view over the River Ilen. Indeed if the weather had been a degree or two warmer we’d have been sitting at an outside table. Still we enjoyed the sun inside and indeed there were times when we could have done with the sun glasses. All very Spanish as we waited for the tapas.

But first a decision had to be made on the wine. The French and Italian were on a loser here and we choose the Atlantik Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain (of course), and priced at seven euro a glass. I liked their description: While it may slake the thirst of many a Camino pilgrim, this Albarino is far from penitential. Really enjoyed it and it had an outstanding colour almost as gold as the olive oil alongside it (see photo).

Duck Pate
We were to enjoy four tapas on the Tasting Menu that cost €18.50. First up was a Sea Food Bon Bon, served in two little shot glasses with a garlic and olive oil mix. A great mix of flavours and we were on our way to the North West of Spain.
Pig's cheek
Our second plate saw the arrival of their Homemade Duck Liver Parfait, served with salad, caramelised red onions and crostinis. That didn't last long either!

Pig’s cheek is making a comeback in these parts and we were about to get the Galician version: Pork Cheek Confit, Truffle mashed potato, Savoy Cabbage, carrot chutney and Port salsa. Pig’s head with spuds and cabbage in other words. In one word: gorgeous! In two words: super tasty.
Lamb
And the best was yet to come: Roast Rump (had lump down first!) of Lamb, served with aubergine Zaalouk and sauce of red peppers. Superb stuff indeed.
Lemon Pudding
And still room for dessert (not included in the tapas menu). We each went for the Lemon Pudding, served with chocolate cigars and meringue (€6.00). Delighted with that too and finished off with a pot of loose leaf Earl Grey before stepping out into the sunshine and a long enough walk to the car. If you do book the Riverside (and I recommend that you do visit), remember that Saturday is mass night in Skibb and, with the church very close to the Riverside, all the nearby parking will be taken.

*By the way, the Riverside is a great supporter of local produce. “Our list of suppliers changes with supply and demand but among our regular sources of products are:
Ballyburden Meats, Busby Strawberries, Caherbeg Freerange Pork, Carbery Milk Products, Clona Milk Products, Cork Coffee Roasters, John and Mary Cronin Feirm Ur Milk & Yogurt, Durrus Cheese, GlenIlen, Gubbeen Smoke House, House of Tea ,Independent Irish Healthfoods, Lorge Chocolatier , Milsean Artisan Chocolatiers , Pandora Bell, Seafood Cuisine, Shannonvale Chicken, Skeaghnore Duck, Thornhill Organic Farm,,Valleyview Freerange Eggs, Woodcock Smokery.."