Showing posts with label The Farmgate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Farmgate. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ribera del Duero. “Cradle of the greatest wines”

Ribera del Duero
“Cradle of the greatest wines”
Tempranillo
Wine has been produced in the beautiful wine region of Ribera del Duero since Roman times, though it became well known outside of Spain only in the 1990s. Just two hours north of Madrid, there are over 270 vineyards following the banks of the Duero River in the Castilla y León region, a flowing swathe of land that’s approximately 115 kms long and 35 kms wide.

According to the World Atlas of Wine, there were just 24 bodegas in the region when the DO was created in 1982 and now there close to 300. You’ll find big companies there, such as Faustino and Torres, and many smaller outfits. And there are many small growers who sell their grapes to the winemakers.

Earlier in the week, at Cork’s Farmgate Cafe, Agustin Alonso González, Technical Director of D.O. Ribera del Duero and Vicente Marco Casamayor, the D.O. Ribera del Duero Director of Communications, led a tasting masterclass, ranging from the young ‘Joven’ wines to the ‘Reservas’ – wines of exemplary depth and balance, powerful and elegant, and great wines for food.

A few years ago, Larousse Wine described the DO as “truly the queen of the Iberian peninsula and the cradle of the greatest wines”. And Alonso echoed that with his opening rhetorical question: “Why are we different? Why are we not just another region? Why are we nowadays touted as a Premier area?”

There is of course more than one answer, though Alonso says that the average altitude of 850 metres “says everything”. The best wines are often made in extreme conditions, on the edge between possible and impossible.

 And Ribera is on the edge, certainly in terms of frost - they get a lot of it in the spring. Indeed, the rule, he said, is that you must have 200 frost free days per annum to make wine; they get a few less than that. Temperatures in summer can see big variations between the heat of the day and the cool of the night. And even more so between the summer (up to the mid 40s) and winter (down to minus 20).
The lone rosé

While other grapes are grown here, Tempranillo accounts for 96.5% of the harvest. Known locally as Tinta del Pais, the berries are smaller with a thicker skin. Because of the different proportion of fruit to skin, “it is better to make richer wines”. By the way, the DO does not include white wines, just rosé and red.

At The Farmgate, we would soon find out how good the wines were. We started off with a rosé and a few of the younger wines before moving on to those normally drank with food including a lovely Emilio Moro 2014, the “very typical crianza” produced by Valduero, and the Protos Crianza, “a very classical wine, French style, from the complicated harvest of 2013”.

At this tutored stage of the tasting, we had about ten wines and naturally finished with the best. I thought so and so did a few close by. Here are my top three, in no particular order.

Resalte Crianza 2011, a renowned wine say the producers; an exceptional vintage from a very hot year, according to Alonso. It has spent 14 months in oak (80% French, 20 American) and the promise of its “ripe fruit and typical oak aromas” is carried all the way to the finish. A powerful well-balanced wine with great potential for ageing (another feature of Ribera wines).

Pradorey, from Finca La Mina, was another star, this a reserva. This has spent 18 months in American oak, 6 in Nevers oak vats. “Iron fist in a velvet glove” was the phrase used on the day and its not too far off. It impresses all the way through, a gorgeous bouquet, fresh, balanced, silky on the palate and a long finish.

And like the Pradorey, the Protos Reserva “can last another 25 years”. This has been aged 18 months in oak and 18 in bottle. It has a beautiful “typical” cherry colour, a complex nose (includes jammy red fruits) and a powerful silky presence on the palate. Soft but with good acidity (for the food!) and a “lingering finish”. Superb. A good one for Christmas (although it was the Fournier Spiga 2010 that Alonso recommended for turkey!

That ended the “formal” part of the afternoon and then we tucked into a few nibbles from The Farmgate and tried a few other wines that were open. Here, I noted the aromatic Verónica Salgado Capricho Crianza 2012 as a favourite for its rich and vibrant palate and a long finish.

No shortage of good wines from “the modern red wine miracle of northern Spain”, a title bestowed on Ribera byThe World Atlas of Wine. Thanks to Wines of Spain, the Ribera DO, and Host & Co. for organising the opportunity and to The Farmgate, led by Mirko, for hosting.

Resalte Crianza 2011 - Smith & Whelan
Pradorey - GHS Classic Drinks
Protos - Comans Wholesale

The Farmgate. Bodega for a day.
How did Ribera do in the 2016 vintage? The full harvest story from Spain here.
Read all Ribera's Alejandro Fernández here, making wine his own way since 1975.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Farmgate. Ireland on a Plate

The Farmgate
Ireland on a Plate
Tripe & onions, and Drisheen
Right in the heart of Cork City is the Farmgate Café. Here, the world meets Cork food, fresh from the nearby seas, local fields and from the English Market downstairs.

As we mingled with customers coming and going last week, we could hear the out of town accents but the loyal locals too were there in force. The Farmgate has managed for more than twenty years to cater for the tastes of both the jet-setter and the native. And managed it all so well that it would be hard to pick a better interface for the diners from near and far.

 Of course, you often hear this advice when heading off on holidays: Eat where the locals eat. Presumably our visitors have heard that too and know that they won't get much more local than the Farmgate.

With that in mind, I started with a very local dish: tripe and onions, and drisheen (€5.50). You may also have it as a main course. I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten it here before though I’ve had tripe in various forms, usually abroad, over the years. Indeed, when I leaned my head towards the plate, I thought I got a whiff like that of the French Andouillette (chitterlings) and I’ve read since that they sometimes use tripe in the preparation.


The whole plaice to herself!
But the taste and flavours, of both the tripe and drisheen, are quite delicate and rather delicious. You do need the onions for both texture and flavour and the trick is not to overuse them. The balance was perfect here.

CL meantime, a veteran of tripe and drisheen and responsible for bringing lots of it to relatives in the UK, keeping it fresh overnight in the sink of their cabin on the old Innisfallen, was enjoying her Toonsbridge ricotta and tomato compôte on toasted sourdough (7.00).

Cured fish, with that delicious herring in the bowl in the foreground
 Her mains, fish of the day, was brilliant. A whole plaice, with a stack of gratin potato and a side of peas and cabbage, looked well and tasted even better. I was a little jealous when I saw it appear.

But my own mains was another gem: A Cured Fish plate with organic green leaves (14.00). Highlight here was the little bowl of Mustard Marinated Herring, one of the series of lovely herring products by Silver Darlings and widely available.

Quite a tempting list of desserts and I was tending towards the organic yogurt with Ceapach Choinn honey and nuts but opted for a coffee in the end. Not just any old coffee. The Bicerin coffee was a bit special, and is native to Turin. Mirco, a native of North East Italy, was serving us at the time. It wasn’t quite the layered Turin version in a glass but I enjoyed my cuppa made up of a double espresso and a shot of chocolate and cream.

While I sipped, I took in the women around the place. No, not the diners, but the huge hanging posters advertising a series of events taking place in the Farmgate this year, in collaboration with UCC scholars, poets and writers, commemorating the unsung women of 1916 under the general title of “Women of the South: Radicals and Revolutionaries .

With that, and the Farmgate’s long-standing Poetry Wall , and the food of course, you’ll know where you are. And all, from near and far, are welcome to come and enjoy the taste of this place called Ireland.

English Market
Princes Street
Cork
Email: info@farmgatecork.ie (general enquiries)
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FarmgateCafeCork/ 
Twitter: @farmgatecafe






Friday, November 29, 2013

Pat O’Connell: The Fishmonger

Pat O’Connell: The Fishmonger

Pat O’Connell’s The Fishmonger, a memoir of life in the English Market in particular and of  growing up in Cork City in general, was launched with a shoal of fish puns in that very market in midweek.

Diarmuid O'Driscoll, himself an author (he co-wrote the market’s history, Serving a City, with his brother Donal) was breaming - well, we all caught the pun fever - as he spoke at the launch. “I was expecting a load of pollocks,” he said. “But it is brill!”


Cork's Mayor Catherine Clancy was in tip top form too as she officially launched the book for Pat who then took the mike and began talking about Pickles. We were wondering where this was leading us. But he was spot-on, comparing the sudden fame that descended on the dog Pickles after he found the stolen World Cup trophy in 1966 with Pat’s own rise to international prominence when he entertained Queen Elizabeth at his stall in the market.

And now that fame has led to the book. Pat admitted that it was a tougher assignment than anticipated and paid big tributes to his many helpers along the way, especially to his family and his great staff. He also paid a moving tribute to his departed mother and father. It was his mother Kay who started the now famous fish stall in the early sixties.
Thanks also for the Hartes (Rebecca and Kay of the Farmgate) who, with help from the traders, organised the food and drink for the evening's function. Pat said there was a great camaraderie among the traders and together it came to more than the sum of its parts. “Keep the market going,” he said. “City Hall, look after it. Future generations will thank you.” And so say all of us.

He finished by reminding us that his share of the proceeds from the book would go to Marymount Hospice: “Wonderful people, wonderful organisation.” Well done boy!




Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dream Deli. The new book from Lilly Higgins




Dream Deli. The new book from Lilly Higgins


Ballymaloe’s Rory O’Connell launched Dream Deli, the second book by Lilly Higgins, a past pupil of Ballymaloe, at The Farmgate Cafe this (Wednesday) morning.

Rory said he had been flicking through the book for a while before he realised that Lilly, as well as writing it, had also shot the many photographs that illustrate it. It is a gorgeous book, with hard covers, but with a light inviting feel inside, plenty of illustrations and nothing cramped about it at all.

Rory said it was great to get a book from a past pupil and add it to the collection in Ballymaloe: “It rounds the circle; the student has become the teacher. You can see that Lilly loves to share and that feeling of generosity drips off the pages.”

Lilly (left) with Yours Truly and Deirdre (Arbutus Bread).
Rory O'Connell
He loved her Crab and Chive Cakes and predicted that her Sicilian Wedding Cake would be a feature of many future weddings. “Fantastic,” he said. “The book should be mandatory for deli owners, for schools, for everybody.

Lilly, as cool and calm as ever, thanked everybody for coming and made sure that we all had enough of the lovely brunch bits that were available. And her mother made sure I got the all important cup of tea!

The book, published by Gill and MacMillan and just over 200 pages, has lots of fresh and simple recipes. They sum it up well on the cover: From breakfasts of homemade granola and smoothies, to gorgeous soups bursting with flavour; from stunning supper ideas, and of course, lots of delicious sweet treats for afternoon tea.

So come on Lilly. When are you going to open your real live Dream Deli? Can’t wait.

Available in all good book shops, including Liam Ruiseal, with a retail price in the region of €23.00.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Lunch, local and fit for a king. And guests. At The Farmgate.

Lunch, local and fit for a king. And guests. 
At The Farmgate in Cork's English Market.
Corned Beef (from the market downstairs) and cabbage.

Sparkling Elderflower cordial
Old Millbank smoked salmon

Pork and hazelnut terrine

Lemon Sole (from the market)