Restaurant Reviews. Food. Markets. Wine. Beer. Cider. Whiskey. Producers. . Always on the look-out for tasty food and drink from quality producers! Buy local, fresh and fair. The more we pull together, the further we will go. Contact: email@example.com Follow on Twitter: @corkbilly
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Probably more like Taste of the Year as the garlic I bought from Bryn Perrin in last Friday’s market in Bantry were bulbs for sowing now and eating from next summer on. Though I did also get some of his Roscoff onions and am very much looking forward to tasting these over the next few days.
But back to the garlic. Bryn, who took over the business from pioneers Axel & Marye Miret (who founded the company in 2010), is quite happy to share his expertise on the subject and will give you lots of advice on planting, growing and harvesting.
Ready to plant
The first thing to know right now is don’t wait until the spring as most garlic is planted in late autumn and early winter, some varieties as early as September! We bought a few Lautrec and a few Grey Shallot garlics for planting and another one, the Chesnok (Hardneck). Already in the ground. Fingers crossed for summer 2019!
If you don’t have the chance to meet Bryn at the markets (he also does Skibbereen Saturdays), do by all means check out the website as they sell garlic bulbs for kitchen and medicinal purposes - and cloves for planting so you can grow your own - all available in handy packs, delivered straight to your door. And there is a page with loads of hints on how to grow your own. And much more, including recipes and garlic gadgets!
Taste of the Week Three Men in a Trailer's Irish Ketchup
Bought this ketchup in The Apple Farm, near Cahir, a few weeks back. It was just days ago that I retrieved it from the cupboard and discovered I had a superb Taste of the Week in my hands. So who are these three men? In their own words: ‘Three men in a Trailer’ is an idea for a mobile high quality food outlet generated by 3 guys passionate about food, particularly food from Tipperary.' Well this strikingly delicious ketchup is high quality, no doubt about it and the trio, JJ, JK and Eamonn, credit its unique taste to the natural cider vinegar that they get from Con Traas's Apple Farm. Other ingredients include Tomatoes, Garlic, Ginger, Cumin, Paprika. A terrific combination. They also do Smoked, Sticky and Spicy versions. Must get my hands on those. The 280g bottle costs three euro at the Apple Farm. The good news is that they distribute nationwide and you can check your local stockists here. And yes, they do have a trailer! By the way, it's a high end mobile catering unit.
Sometimes I’ve seen it labeled Derry Clarke’s Kitchen but the one I bought recently was titled Derry Clarke at Home Ploughman’s Relish and it proved to be an excellent relish.
“Gorgeous with bacon sarnies or with cheese” it says on the front panel. We used it in a sandwich, a Ploughman’s, with Gubbeen Hot Smoked Bacon, and again with various cheeses and it does a great job.
Our Taste of the Week is widely available, including selected Dunnes and Supervalu. And another good thing about it is that you may keep it in the fridge for up to 12 weeks after opening. That didn’t happen!
Bought a small wedge ofMature Cratloe Hills Sheep Cheese in On The Pig’s Back on a recent Saturday. Should have bought more of this exquisite cheese, our Taste of the Week.
The story of Cratloe Hills cheese began in the mid 80s when Sean and Deirdre Fitzgerald began making it in County Clare on their Cratloe farm that overlooks the Shannon.
It is a delicious, full-bodied, intricate blend of tastes with layers of flavours. This is quite an experience as they say themselves:“…each bite brings more hints of butterscotch and burnt caramel come to the fore”.
With such a tide of sophisticated flavour from the cheese on its own, you hardly need anything by way of accompaniment. I did try a gorgeous artisan-made Confiture Cerise Noire (from Sheridan’s) as this type of jam is often served with sheeps cheese in the Basque region.
And while the combination is pleasant, I’d say the Cratloe is possibly best on its own. By the way, if you think you’d like something with it and can’t get your hands on the Confiture, then Follain’s Loganberry Jam is a good substitute.
The Clare product is 100% sheep's milk using only a vegetarian starter, rennet and salt. It is a natural product manufactured in a traditional way with no additives or flavours.
Nosing around the English Market last Friday and spotted a hand-written* sign up on the O’Connell Fish Stall drawing attention to their Wild Sea Trout. Brought a couple of fillets home and the Official Blog Chef turned them into our Taste of the Week.
This noble trout, full of flavour, is worth every cent. Pan-fried, skin side first. Peas and spinach from the garden were recruited. Potatoes were diced, garlic and herb added, and cooked in a very high oven before the other veg were added and tossed with the potatoes.
So there you, no great fuss but a fantastic Taste of the Week.
* He’ll probably type them when he opens in Bishopstown!
Sheridan’s get the credit for our current Taste of the Week. It’s a double and features one product bought in their Galway store during a recent visit to the City of the Tribes and another product bought in Bradley’s of Cork but distributed by Sheridan’s.
The product from Bradley’s is a semi-circle of Cashel Blue made, as always, by the Grubb family in Tipperary, but selected, matured and distributed by Sheridan’s.
So there I was one lunchtime with that Cashel Blue at hand and wondering how I’d enhance it. And then I remembered being served Black Cherry jam with sheep’s cheese in the Basque Country. I had the very thing in the cupboard: a big pot of artisan made Confiture Cerise Noire (my purchase from Sheridan's).
A perfect pairing and a delicious Taste of the Week. Lots of that jam left, so it looks as if I’ll be heading to Bradley’s for more cheese. Indeed, I may well also keep an eye out for that new hard sheeps cheese by Velvet Cloud.
By the way, I also found another match for the cheese, a bottle of Gerard Bertrand’s Banyuls Vin Doux Naturel (from O’Brien’s Wine). Not the whole bottle, mind you, a little sip will do!
No need to say too much about our current Taste of the Week. The sweet delicious cherries grown on Con Traas’s Apple Farm are simply superb!
Easy to appreciate these juicy beauties. But not easy to grow. If that were the case, you’d find them in every farmers market. When grown in Ireland, cherries need protection for a number of reasons, and typically most growers use some form of simple tunnel to grow them in.
The Apple Farm explains: This is because cherry flowers are susceptible to cold winds when flowering, and the cherries themselves are liable to crack and get diseases due to rainfall, and then if they survive all this, are a favourite food of many birds. A plastic tunnel can protect the trees and fruits from all these problems, meaning that instead of getting a good crop one year in five (or ten if you live in the wetter parts of Ireland), you can rely on a crop each year.
Thanks to Con and his team for making the extra effort. Put these cherries on your list if you’re anywhere near the Apple Farm, just a few minutes off the M8 on the N24 (Cahir-Clonmel Road)! Lots of other fruit available too, in season.
So when we got one, we made it Taste of the Week. Produced by young Harriet Kelleher from Macroom, you can get it at the Roughty Fruit in the English Market. Ingredients: butter, free-range eggs, sugar, lemons and, wait for it, passionfruit!
I was eating out recently in Timoleague's Monk’s Lane where Gavin and Michelle have, since they started out a few years back, been strong supporters of local craft brewers. They have a very long list of beers, both in draught and in bottle.
I spotted the Roaring Ruby Red Ale by the West Cork Brewery from Baltimore in draught and noted the “dangerously drinkable” in the blurb.
I can vouch for that having sipped my way through a smooth pint of its delicious caramel and toffee flavours, a superb red ale almost crossing into stout territory. And our Taste of the Week is great with food.
The West Cork Brewery is based at Casey’s of Baltimore, Ireland’s first Brew-Hotel, and was launched in December 2014 by Dominic Casey, Henry Thornhill and brewer Kevin Waugh. They also produce the Sherkin Lass Ale and Stout x Southwest. Wouldn’t mind being down there now in that sun trap beer garden, sipping a pint of Roaring Ruby and the boats coming and going on the blue waters. Check out three other top Irish beers all on the darker side here
Encouraged by the immediate success of their multi-award winning Wicklow Blue, the Hempenstalls soon followed up with this equally delightful creamy brie cheese.
The family have been making cheese since 2005 and they credit the farm’s proximity to the Irish Sea with adding a distinctive flavour all of its own to these seductively addictive Wicklow Farmhouse cheeses. And this is distinctive. It is mild, creamy and buttery and our Taste of the Week.
Apples, berries, pears and many other juicy fruits are known to pair well with Brie. We came across another variation. We just happened to have some dried baby figs (from the Olive Stall in the English Market) in the house and they, along with a few grapes, made for a delicious plateful. If you want to make it even better, add a glass of that gorgeous Pom ‘O from Killahora Orchards.
Wicklow Farmhouse cheese is widely available. I got this piece at On the Pig’s Back in Cork’s English Market.
Not all of you are lucky enough to be in a position to get your hands on Ballyhoura mushrooms at Farmers Markets (we got ours at Mahon). But did you know that they have quite a few mushroom products available to buy at various good food stores, including the new pantry in Bakestone at Cobh Cross?
Products include Cep Oil, Mushroom Vinegar, Mushroom Ketchup, Mushroom Soup Mix, even a Mushroom Unami Powder, and also this Risotto Mix, our Taste of the Week. Indeed, you can also purchase online.
The mix provides earthy woodland notes and intense mushroom flavour and is perfect for making a dish for two people. You’ll find the recipe on their site here. Well worth a try!
Our pic looks a bit on the dark sideand the reason is that we used black garlic cloves.
Three whiskeys were up for tasting at the end of our recent tour in DEW Tullamore. The first, their original, is light soft and sweet and doesn’t have the longest of finishes but its “straight-forward style” has helped make it their best seller.
The 12-year old, that means the youngest whiskey in the blend is 12 years old - has a touch of ruby from its time in the Sherry cask. It is softer, more mellow than the original and is “renowned for being very smooth and flavoursome”.
The 15-old Trilogy, with its black label, is similar in make-up to the 12-year old. It has been matured in Sherry and Bourbon casks before being finished off in rum casks. It is soft, with “tropical characteristics” and the finish is noticeably better, long and rich.
Even so, the 12-year old has quite a few supporters on the tour. But I go for the Trilogy and it comes home with me! My new Taste of the Week.
Ruth Healy has long been an unofficial champion of local food and, in recent years, she’s actually an official food champion, a Failte Ireland Food Champion.
Failte say: Ruth Healy brings people together – shopkeepers, sellers, producers, restaurateurs, eaters – and she champions the food of West Cork by providing the link. A pivotal member of Slowfood West Cork, a founder of Bandon Farmers Market and Bandon Food Trail, the centre of all her activity is her ‘Culinary Store’ URRU.
Ruth’s shop in Bandon, URRU, is well stocked with the best of Irish, the best of local. So it was no surprise when I picked up a jar of honey, it was from Bandon and produced by Robert McCutcheon and his bees. Can’t get more local than that!
It is marked with the seal of the Federation of Irish Beekeepers Associations and it is pretty good stuff, full of flavour with a great viscous texture, and is our Taste of the Week.
In 2016, Stonewell won the Supreme Champion Award at the Blas na hEireann Awards in Dingle with their Rós, an apple and rhubarb cider, and their current seasonal is this medium dry Apple and Cucumber.
First thing you notice is the huge difference in colours, the cucumber one looking more like a white wine (with hints of green), though with lots of bubbles. The cucumber comes through, gently, on the nose and on the palate.
Flavours are probably lighter than the Rós but, if anything, are even more refreshing. A light and moreish flavour, as they say themselves, from this combination of Royal Gala apples and a subtle twist of cucumber.
Rós Apple and Rhubarb Limited Edition Craft Cider 2017, 5.5%, 330ml bottle
The Supreme Champion is an all local amalgam. The rhubarb juice is extracted from the produce of Robbie Fitzsimmon’s East Ferry Farm in Cork and blended with the “soft caressing” flavours of the apple juice.
This new batch has a gorgeous mid-gold (no pink!), with fountains of bubbles. Rhubarb comes through on the palate but its tartness is more than balanced by those soft caressing flavours of the apples. An engaging mix indeed from the small but highly innovative team at Nohoval and you can taste why it won a surprise overall gold at Blas.
Both ciders are vegan and coeliac friendly and each should go well with food. Thinking of a salad in the garden with a bottle of the Apple and Cucumber while the Rós should be ideal with the strawberries. Must set that one up while the sun is out!
Stockists for both ciders: Bradley’s Cork; 1601 Kinsale; Blackrock Cellar, Co. Dublin; Gibney’s of Malahide, Co. Dublin; No 21 Lismore, Co.Waterford; Paddy Blues, Gorey, Co. Wexford; Redmond’s of Ranelagh, Dublin; Lilac Wines, Dublin 3; Supervalu Kinsale and Clonakilty; Riney’s Bar, Sneem, Co.Kerry. Matson’s Wine Store, Grange and Bandon, Cork.
You may get the Apple and Cucumber at the following O’Brien’s Wines locations:
Ardkeen, Co. Waterford; Beacon, Dublin; City West, Dublin; Blanchardstown, Dublin; Douglas Court, Cork; Dun Laoghaire, Dublin; Glasnevin, Dublin; Malahide, Dublin; Naas, Kildare; Rathgar, Dublin; Rathmines, Dublin; Templeogue Village, Dublin.
Montenotte based butchers Davidson’s have been serving up some great meat in the area for the past four years or so. And it’s not just the locals saying that. Chris Davidson has led the team here to more than their fair share of awards in national competitions. And our Taste of the Week is one of them.
This delicious Pork Steak Wellington has been a national runner-up and they have a national champion in the equally delicious Crusted Rack of Lamb.
The Pork Steak is our Taste of the Week. Absolutely top notch meat and the stuffing, walnut and apple, is superb as well. Well worth checking this one out. By the way, it comes with full cooking instructions!
The humble apple may have lost us paradise. But it is simply regained. Just go to Midleton Farmers Market on Saturday and call to the Ballymaloe Cookery School Stall.
There are many palate pleasing delights here: banana bread, Tunisian orange cakes, homemade meringues, and Ashura (Turkish) cereal.
But this is not quite what you’re searching for. Check in among the Chocolate Toffee Squares and those massive Gingerbread Cookies. What you need, and what I bought on my recent visit, was the their pack of Sour Cherry Amaretti.
Put one of these beauties in your mouth and just press gently with your teeth. Savour. Delight in that amazing texture and flavour. Paradise found, at least on the palate.
Our heavenly Taste of the Week is produced using cherries, egg whites, almonds, sugar, lemon, honey and lots of enthusiastic love.
Found my current Taste of the Week during a pleasant visit to Killavullen Farmers Market last Saturday week. Stopped at Maura’s Kitchen Stand and spotted her Spicy Beetroot Chutney.
It is great with cheese, particularly cheddar. And Maura herself says it really livens up what could otherwise be a rather mundane meat sandwich.
It is packed with beetroot and other ingredients include onion, eating apples, zest and juice of orange, yellow mustard, red wine vinegar, sugar and ginger. Recommended, well worth a try.
Maura also has some terrific jams here and, as with the beetroot, is quite generous with the fruit. Watch out for her Wild Plum and Raspberry jar in particular. And watch out for this lovely market which will be on again next Saturday.
Barry (left) and Dave
show their amazing ice wine.
This superb drink, particularly with its aromas and finish, speaks very much of the orchard, maybe even a touch of warm apple tart. Mostly, there is on the palate a well-balanced tension between the dry and the sweet, a sweetness that is not at all sticky. “A bittersweet symphony,” they say themselves. Not a bad summing up of our Taste of the Week.
There was a lot of love expressed for it on Twitter when it made its public debut recently. One enthusiast was so impressed that she cancelled her standing order for importing Canadian Ice Wine!
How do they make it? The juice of their rare apples (114 varieties growing here on south facing slopes) is concentrated using freezing temperatures and slowly thawed. The resulting beautiful deep and rich must is slowly fermented for a year and stopped before completion, leaving half of the apple sugars intact…nothing is added, so the abv is a low 10.8%.
I came across this a few months back as a matching drink for the superb cheese menu at SpitJack. Beautiful and rich, it was perfect with the cheeses that we had and with the Ardsallagh Ash Pyramid in particular. More recently, I got the same magnificent result with the St Tola Ash Log, the two premium products mutually enhancing.
And where is Killahora? You might well ask. If you are lucky enough to get a bottle of the Ice Wine you’ll see a corner of an ordnance survey map from 1837 showing an orchard here on these warm slopes close to the village of Glounthaune just east of Cork City. Well over a hundred types of rare apples growing here now and it is here too that the bittersweet cider Johnny Fall Down is produced.
Burren Smokehouse Oak Smoked Organic Irish Salmon with Honey and Dill
Our Taste of the Week comes from the Burren Smokehouse via the Simply Better section of Dunnes Stores. You’ll find it difficult to find the Burren Smokehouse on the label (back). I really don't know why supermarkets don’t sell local products with the producer’s proper name highlighted on the front. Would make shopping a lot easier.
But, in this case, it is well worth it. Birgitta Curtin is the smokehouse owner and her smoking technique plus the addition of the dill and honey makes for a gorgeous rich texture and flavour, a flavour that is both deep and long.
You need very little else. Indeed, it's probably best to follow the simple serving suggestion on the back label: separate the slices of salmon 20 minutes before serving to allow it reach room temperature and then simply serve, with lemon wedges, on some fresh brown bread (preferably homemade, as was the case here, thanks to the official blog chef!).
If you want something a bit more complex, then get your handson the current edition of Simply Better with Neven Maguire; he has a tempting recipe there for Eggs Benedict using Birgitta’s salmon.
This is going to be short as I have very little information on Claire Trihy, the producer of our Taste of the Week, an outstanding Seville Orange Marmalade.
I was in Mahon Farmers Market the week before last and realised I was running out of marmalade when I saw this pot on a stand - can't even remember which stand!
But I bought it straightaway. When I opened it up a few days later and tried it on some Arbutus sourdough, I just had to stop and savour the magnificent tangy flavour - lots of peel in here! It is one of the very best Seville marmalades I've ever come across and just had to make it Taste of the Week!
The small label attached to the jar gives the ingredients and little else. The address though is there: Whitfield, Butlerstown, Waterford. Might be easier to find the marmalade in Mahon next Thursday.