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If I had some Oscar statuettes handy last Wednesday evening, I’d have been handing them out to the crew at Oysters. Best restaurant! Best chef! Best of everything! No doubt I'd have got a few arguments from city rivals but their Market Menu, served every Wednesday, is brilliant and, with four beautifully cooked courses for twenty five euro, outstanding value.
Head Chef Alex Petit is a regular at the English Market and his well trained eye picks out the best available for this weekly treat. You won't have a choice here. But I learned a long time ago, in a small back street French restaurant where the menu had “selon jour” attached, that a no-choice list can be surprisingly brilliant. Besides, you waste no time going through the menu: the job has been done for you.
And that is the case here. As I sipped a Kir and tucked into the lovely breads, served with Lemon Butter and also scallop and herb mousse, we read the short list for last Wednesday's Market Menu and were immediately impressed. Even more so when a terrific amuse bouche - Smoked salmon and poached pear - arrived.
First course were Oysterhaven Rock Oysters, fresh and tangy and the best I’ve had in Ireland with a while.
Piano music was now drifting across the room and we had moved on to the wine, a pretty good glass of Illuminati Riparosso Montepulciano (€8.00), in readiness for the main course: 19 hour braised Irish beef cheek, squash fondant, wild mushroom, smoked beurre blanc. And served with a side dish of tasty potatoes. This was a brilliant treat, melt in the mouth stuff and some great flavours on the palate. It was worth the twenty five euro on its own!
Next up was Bellingham Blue Cheese, served with poached pear and raspberry dressing. This is an award winning cheese from County Louth, a fine full flavoured Irish farmhouse cheese, made from cow’s milk. Very good indeed.
We had a superb lingering finish with the Rosscarbery strawberries and Hibiscus syrup. This looked very tempting and delivered on that promise. The strawberries were cut into tiny cubes and that made us linger and drool all the more. Terrific finish to an excellent meal. Very Highly Recommended.
Oysters, under proprietor Donald Morrissey, is a great supporter of local producers and suppliers listed on the main menu include O’Connell Seafood, Seafood Cuisine (Skibbereen), David Busby (Fruits), Keeling Fruit and Vegetables, Waterfall Farm, Ballyhoura Mushrooms, O'Mahony Butchers, On the Pig’s Back, Max e’ Mattia Italicatessen, Michelle Wild Seaweed, Arbutus Bakery and Mr Darragh Brady The Clarion.
Jon Smith talking to visitors
at Gilbey's Wine Portfolio in the Clarion.
Enjoyed my tour of the Gilbey’s
Portfolio Tasting in the Clarion Hotel (Cork) yesterday, the first time that
the event has been held in the city.
Quite a few restaurants and bars represented
at a very impressive display by Gilbey’s with eight tables, each with a different wine theme, and a ninth stand that
displayed the company’s growing beer selection.
Renewed acquaintance with Des
King at Table 3 and he introduced me to a very fine wine indeed: Paul Jaboulet
Aine Parallele 45 Côtes de Rhone Blanc. But I couldn’t resist the Trimbach Pinot
Blanc 2010 and felt that that just shaded the Rhone. Might need a replay
The Old World was the general
title for Table 5 and here I knew that Austria awaited and, in particular, two Grüner
Veltliners by Laurenz V, the Forever and the Friendly. Must say that I could
stay friendly with both forever. The major difference, perhaps for the those
looking to reduce their alcohol intake, is that the Forever will come in at 11%
abv while the Friendly has the bigger kick at 12.5.
A couple of excellent reds here
also. I have, for a long time, enjoyed the Nero d’Avola from Sicily and here
they had an excellent Cusumano 2007 but the star for me, one of the best in the
show, was the 2009 Churchill’s Douro from Portugal, a rich unfortified wine
from old vines.
The ever enthusiastic Jon Smith
was manning Table 6 where the wines were Black Tower and Bend by the River.
Enjoyed my sip of the Bend by the River Riesling 2011 but found the Black Tower
equivalent a bit on the sweet side. But many people don’t and millions of
bottles of Black Tower are sold each year in England and Jon reckons that,
given two years, a similar proportion will be sold in Ireland.
New Zealand was represented by
just two wines at the New World table and both, the Hunter’s Sauvignon Blanc
and the Hunter’s Pinot Noir, were excellent. If I had to choose one, it would
be the SB, “a pristine example of its type”.
Carmenere, once thought to be extinct
but it was hiding all along under the guise of Merlot, was rediscovered in Chile as a
separate variety in 1994 and has since been associated with the South American
country. Sampled the Carmen Gran Reserva Carmenere and can recommend it. It is
produced in the Apalta, “a new area ..and the best place for Carmenere”.
After that, and with time
running out, there was just time to call to Table 9 and the beers and an
informative chat with brand manager Ealron Kennedy and that will be the subject
of a later post.