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Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Gonna be A Burger of a Week
Big and Bad Boys to Rock Cork
The first Cork Burger Festival runs from January 30th until February 5th. The local cafes and restaurants have climbed aboard in impressive numbers and, if you love your burger, you are going to have some tremendous choices over the week. Below you'll find a selection of what is on offer. More details on the Festival Facebook page here.
The White Horse in Ballincollig have a Seven Day Burger Battle on, with a tasty clash each night. Friday's duel between the Texan and the Mexican looks saucy with a repeat thrown in on Saturday if you want to switch sides.
Soho Bar have joined in the fun with their Three Rebels, three different sliders and a pint of beer for a tenner.
If you’re in Son of a Bun, watch out for the Wonka ticket. Each burger special you order on this fantabulous week will be hiding a Son of a Wonka ticket. If you happen to be the lucky winner of one of their 7 golden tickets you will be in for a treat! “For the next 5 months you will get to have our burger of the month on us!” Limit 1 burger each month per ticket holder.
New Douglas restaurant, 12 Tables, are running a Burger Battle Royale. On one plate you've got the Mick O’ and, on the other, its The Big Fella. That’ll take some sorting.
If you’re up to big, then maybe the Oliver Plunket is the place to be. Here’s the challenge. The Big Boy (he who dares, WINS) 32oz burger topped with Bandon Vale cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onions served with a side of fries; €30, finish it and it's FREE!
If you can't make it to a restaurant, Davidson’s Craft Butchers have offers on burgers all week. Keep up to date here.
You’ll find the Great Griffin in Dripsey at Griffin's Garden Centre. It looks tempting. Check out their Facebook page for giveaways.
And be sure too to tie up the horse at the Bad Boys where you can tuck into their 8oz Smoked Rodeo Burger topped with Chilli Con Carne Cheese and Sour cream. Bad!
The Meatball Place are also on board with a selection of Speciality Burgers, not just for the week, but for the month!
Nine Market Street in Kinsale are doing a four-course Burger meal (dessert is an ice-cream burger). A fab meal at a great price of €25.00 the lot. Date is Saturday the 4th from 6.00pm.
Lots more places involved including the Silly Goose (with Ali’s Kitchen). Check it all out on festival’s Facebook page here.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Spice Night at Isaac's
Taste Tingling Tuesday
That fun element set the tone for the convivial occasion as we introduced ourselves to our fellow diners and the food, part of a terrific five course meal designed by Arun, began to arrive. First up was a very impressive Amuse Bouche: Irish Salmon Tataki, with smoked aubergine caviar, ginger,mint and coriander. Smooth, cool and delicious, a foretaste of what was to come.
Time then for a sweet finish: Chocolate ‘orange spice’ Mousse and crème fraiche. “I love desserts,” declared the ever enthusiastic Arun as he extended a big thank you to Rebecca of Taste Cork “who encouraged us” and as he led a big cheer for the kitchen team.
Check here for Green Saffron recipes
Taste Tingling Tuesday
‘Taste Cork’ week hit the high-spots in Isaac’s on Tuesday night when Arun Kapil, founder of award-winning spice company Green Saffron, Chef Patron Canice Sharkey along with restaurant co-owners Michael and Catherine Ryan, hosted an exclusive sold-out spice pop-up at the Cork city institution in McCurtain Street.
First though, there was a bit of consternation when we were given a DIY task, to construct our own ‘Nibble’. That soon turned to fun as we tapped an opening into the Puri shell, filled it with chickpea and potato mix and seasoned it with either Spiced Vodka and Tamarind ‘water or chilli relish. Or both.
The starter was another gorgeous dish: Spiced crab cakes with a cucumber and turmeric pickle. I really enjoyed a few bites of the crab cake without the pickle but the latter certainly added to the sensory sensations.
Next up was the mains, a celebration of Canice’s passion for the finest Irish ingredients livened with Arun’s unique take on flavours and inimitable use of fresh spice, sourced by his cousin and team Green Saffron from family farms in India.
The main event was Rajput ‘split and grilled’ red leg partridge, almond, asafoetida pilau, plum and fennel fruit ‘lunji’, with onion and parsnip Pakoras. Another super dish, a lovely combination of textures and flavours, the partridge enhanced no end by the lunji (chutney) and the pakoras, all washed down - at least mine was - by a Carl Ehrhard Rüdesheim Riesling Kabinett Feinherb 2015, Rheingau (Germany).
Earlier he told us how visiting Ireland, romance and a Ballymaloe cooking course, had set him on the spice route. His stunning spice blends, sauces and chutneys are from spices sourced by family members in Moradabad, India. That romance was with Olive, now his wife, and they started grinding those spices with coffee grinders which weren't quite up to the wear and tear.
Then he started selling in local farmers markets and the rest is history. And more history to be made as this dynamic man plans to make Ireland the spice capital of the western world in the next decade. Watch this space but don’t miss the boat. Get your hands on his spices, now widely available, and liven up your food. Just don't overdo it as he and the Isaac’s team didn't overdo it on Tuesday night. One of the highlights of Taste Cork Week, one of the highlights of the year for me.
Check here for Green Saffron recipes
Friday, March 11, 2016
Taste Cork's Electric Breakfast Part 2:
Plan! Plan! Plan!
And the Nutri Bullet Generation.
|The 12 Mile Menu on a plate at Sage. (Photo 2014)|
It may have been the morning after the night before for Kevin Aherne. But Kevin, who had rushed back from Killarney having seen his Midleton restaurant Sage named as the best in Cork at the Irish Restaurant Awards, was well up for for the Taste Cork Breakfast Seminar in Electric on Wednesday morning.
Once you have your idea fixed, Plan, Plan, Plan. That was his advice to would-be producers and restaurateurs. “It is the same as in the restaurant kitchen: preparation, preparation, preparation!
Kevin's own big idea was of course, his 12 Mile Menu. That came after Sage had been open for three years. So they closed while the new idea was formed and got going again when it was fully formed.
|Jen O'Mahony, Bean Brownie, Kevin O'Connell, Forage and Find,|
and Sarah Sexton, Bean Brownie
So number one for Kevin was to get “your idea”. Why did he not call his plan the Local Menu or the Artisan Menu. “Because those words, though still popular and though they still mean something, are losing weight.”
Once your idea is there and you believe in it, it is now time to get it marketed, to get the message across to your customers. In his case, the restaurant was the platform and he used it to highlight the high level of great produce in East Cork and indeed in Cork county.
“Producers don't always get the credit they deserve”. Up to 26 producers are supplying Kevin's 12 Mile Menu at present and you'll see many of their photos - in work situations - on the walls of Sage.
|Declan Daly, Cork County Council, Mary Daly, Food Safety Company,|
and Rebecca O'Keeffe, Taste Cork
Small producers have to put up with food fraud from time to time with one outlet or another saying this is the genuine article or maybe buying the genuine thing for a week or two and then substituting an import. “It is important that the food label is true. No respect for bullshitters!”
Even though successful, there are always pointed questions. “You don't get everything from within the 12 miles, do you? Why not 20 miles?” Kevin is well used to them by now. He confirmed that all fresh produce comes from within the 12 mile limit; his poultry supplier is on the limit at 11.99 miles! But Kevin has no problem with someone having a twenty miles limit or a fifty mile limit. Not every part of the country has such a concentration of producers as has East Cork. Indeed, Kevin's great idea is obviously open for replication elsewhere.
More about Sage and its 12 Mile Menu here
|Paul O'Brien, Bunnyconnellan Bar and Restaurant,|
and Shannon Keane, Diva Boutique Bakery and Cafe,
After the traditional full Irish (full Cork) at Electric, Mary Daly (of the Food Safety Company) had the task of diverting minds to Changing Trends in Food. “Take the Healthy Option for instance. Smart food operators are onto it. Free From is part of it but much more than that. Lifestyle factors come into it and there are a growing number with allergy intolerance, 10% suffering from it and 20% who think they are! It represents a significant opportunity for the food sector”.
Take the Lifestylers, the “Nutri-Bullet generation”. “They eat out regularly, not necessarily high-end. So promoting healthy foods (less processed, less fattening food) will retain your lifestyle audience.”
“What is driving Free From? How do you give it to them? Eighteen per cent of them chose to eat healthier, not because to have to….they want great taste, guilt free treats and small portions.”
“Calories on menus are coming,” she has no doubt. “Most operators are responding to trends, keen to do the right thing, even if calorie counts aren't that popular. Listen to your customers: clean food, clear labels, and healthy options for kids. Make it your marketing message. It is what the customer wants; this is not a fad.”
Read more on Mary’s thoughts on Food Trends here.
For more background on Taste Cork's Breakfast Seminar see Part One .
Thursday, March 10, 2016
Electric Breakfast For Taste CorkProducers, Restaurateurs Pull Together
|The local plate!|
Taste Cork, set up with supports from the Local Enterprise Offices in Cork, Cork City Council and Cork County Council, and other state agencies, held a Breakfast Seminar at Electric in the South Mall yesterday morning.
The goal of Taste Cork is to help the county nurture its enviable status as an iconic food brand and that was underlined with the produce on the breakfast plate: Jack McCarthy’s bacon, O’Flynn’s Breakfast sausage, Rosscarbery Black pudding, Ballyhoura mushroom, East Ferry Fried eggs and Ballymaloe Relish. Electric’s own brown bread went down well while other highlights were Wilkie's Organic Hot Chocolate and Bean Brownies Banana Bread.
Taste Cork, fronted by Rebecca O’Keeffe, is determined to get Cork produce the exposure it deserves, to help the local producers as much as possible. And one practical way is the opening, in a few days, of the Cork Incubator Kitchen in the Carrigaline Industrial Estate (on the Crosshaven Road).
|A breakfast highlight (above) and|
another, Wilkie's hot chocolate, below.
Brendan Russell has taken on the management reins here and told the full house of producers and restaurateurs in Electric that the facility will have two kitchens. One is the Bakery Kitchen, fully equipped, with a state of the art triple deck oven the highlight. The other is called the Catering Kitchen. This will be for preparation work in volume and equipment here includes a quick vacuum packer and a sealing machine.
The website will soon be up and running and that will make it easy to register. Brendan, who has spent 16 years as a chef, has a good understanding as to why businesses succeed (and fail) and education will also feature under the following headings:
1 - Theory of Practicality;
2 - Business Understanding;
3- Catering Skills;
4 - Work Relations.
The event was opened by Sean O’Sullivan and he was delighted that funding had been provided for the full-time position in Taste Cork. Both he and Rebecca are looking forward to getting everyone “to start looking locally”. And so say all of us. You can see my motto on the site here: Buy local, fresh and fair. The more we pull together, the further we will go.
Kevin Aherne is one man who has been doing exactly this for the past five years and his innovative 12 Mile Menu was recognised by his peers on Tuesday evening in Killarney when his Sage Restaurant in Midleton won Restaurant of the Year in Cork.
Kevin spoke later at the seminar and we’ll have a post on that tomorrow. Mary Daly (Food Safety Company) also spoke in Electric and she too stressed the importance of local: “Provenance is hugely important. Taste Cork can play a big role.” More too from Mary tomorrow. Part Two is now up and running and you can see what Kevin and Mary said here.