Showing posts with label Timoleague. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Timoleague. Show all posts

Monday, July 20, 2015

Dillon’s of Timoleague. The 2015 Version

Dillon’s of Timoleague
The 2015 Version
Let me start with the desserts. Not with the changes at Dillon’s of Timoleague, not with the old abbey, not with the 18th century tsunami, not with the earthquake of 2013 (2.6 magnitude), not even with the earlier courses.
All was calm along the estuary and in the deserted village streets when I arrived in Dillon’s, where West Cork chef Richard Milnes now reigns, at the weekend. No tidal waves, no waves even, just lots of mud and flocks of birds feeding.

Maybe they got some tasty bits, I’m sure they did, but nothing as sweet as my Caramelised Almond Slice, quite a generous cut too. A delicious delight and indeed so too was our other sweet, a Tunisian Orange Cake, well matched with sour cream. Happy yes. But not one hundred per cent. I had a quick look at the dinner menu and spotted more temptation: Stewed Gooseberries with Elderflower Ice Cream. That could well draw me back one of these evenings!

The menus here, both lunch and dinner, are short but this is a small restaurant and better to have a short quality list than a long one in an attempt to please everyone. The incoming produce is mainly local and of a high standard and the Milnes kitchen magic does the rest. Craft beer and cider and a short wine list can help wash down the lovely food. Friendly staff there too.

And this is the smaller portion!
My mains was the Provençal Fish Soup (€15.00 - I could have had a smaller portion for eight). It was a winner, packed with chunks of monkfish and lots of flavours provided by red peppers, courgettes, herbs, all in a tomato base. And as well, there were two wee bowls on the side, one with shredded cheese and the other with a garlic aioli (that gave another little kick). Glad I got the big one.

CL meanwhile was tucking into her salad: Beetroot, Goats cheese and Almond. Again, quite tasty and well presented but I think I got the better deal this time! Oh, I almost forget to mention, we had been served with a little basket of their Focaccia bread, made on the premises that morning (and every morning, my server told me proudly!).

Excellent all round and I wasn't going to depart without a cup of tea. I had been studying the list through the meal; the list by the way gives eleven options, including some white ones, including Pai Mu Tan. My pick was the lovely Jasmine, fragrant, subtly sweet and delicately flavoured. Wide coffee choices too and CL had an excellent Cortado, a Spanish variation of the Italian Macchiato.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Twenty Four Hours in Kinsale

Twenty Four Hours in Kinsale
Forts, Food, Craft Beer!
It was Friday the 13th but we weren't staying at home. We were on the road to Kinsale for an overnight stay.

First call was to Charlesfort, this time, not to visit the early 17th century fort but to take the harbourside walk that begins with a stroll down the left hand side of the sprawling complex.  There are good views of Charlesfort and the town as you start off and later the Old Head comes into view.
Charlesfort (above) and James Fort
The path, with the waters of the harbour on your right, is not the smoothest and, at one point, you have to make a short walk across a stony beach. You pass through a boatyard on your way to Lower Cove. This was where we turned back. The way forward is not clear but apparently you can reach the point with views across to the Old Head and out to sea where the Sovereign Islands lie.

We had a date with Sam and Maudeline Black at their brewery in Farm Lane. They were working their way through a busy afternoon but found time to give us a tour and tasting. After that, we checked into our hotel, the Old Bank. Though this is right smack bang in the middle of the town, I must admit I'd never heard of it.

Kinsale evening
It is part of the Blue Haven holdings here and it proved a very good base indeed. It has no parking but the public car park is quite close. We got a warm welcome and indeed spent a pleasant night here and the breakfast was very good indeed. They had some decent choices and the toast was cut from a proper loaf (Cuthbert’s), not your usual sliced pan. Good value too.

Time now for a walk down the Pier Road as the sun began to set. Got a few photos in before heading back to the hotel. Our next port of call was the relatively new restaurant, Bastion (they have Prosecco on tap!), where we enjoyed an excellent meal.
Evening in Kinsale
 Afterwards, just a few yards away, I sampled some craft beers, Black’s (of course) and Metalman, in the Malt Lane. They had quite a selection here and an even bigger selection of whiskeys.

Old Bank

We visited another fort in the morning. This is James Fort, across the water from Charlesfort which it pre-dates. Nowadays, it is stoutly defended by the OPW (no interior access) but there are fine views and also some excellent walks in the surrounding fields.

Back down to the car then and away to Garretstown where we expected to find the surfers. But they were outnumbered by canoeists from a city club who were getting some much needed practice in. Needless to say, the camera was out of the bag again.

Stayed with the coast roads until we came to another beach, this Harbour View near Kilbrittain. This looks safer, certainly calmer, than Garretstown but not as well equipped with parking facilities. Still, a lovely place to stroll around in the sun and we weren't the only ones taking advantage of the beach and the dunes.
Harbour View
 We had a late lunch pencilled in at another relatively new restaurant, this the Monk’s Lane in the middle of the village of Timoleague, famous for its ruined abbey. But before all that the camera, with fast lens attached, was put into action again in an attempt to get a few shots of cars taking part on the West Cork Rally. They were driving (though not racing at this point) along the road by the abbey.

 The meal in Monk’s Lane was superb and great to see local craft beer on sale there as well. The rally cars had vanished at that stage and we headed up towards Bandon on the way home after a lovely twenty four hours, well maybe 26, in the area.

See also: My Kinsale Guide

Part of a walk-on circle of plaques depicting local people and
connections in the grounds of Timoleague church

Friday, March 20, 2015

Come Join The Cheerful Chorus at Monk’s Lane

Come Join The Cheerful Chorus at Monk’s Lane
There is almost an monastic silence as we stroll towards Monk’s Lane in the centre of Timoleague. But, open the door, and there is the happy sound of people dining. Our table is ready and soon we join the cheerful chorus.

The menu is full of promise. The sandwich section uses the best of local produce: Toons Bridge, Gubbeen, Ummera. And so it continues. In the mains and salads you see O'Neill's sausages, Crozier blue cheese and Clonakilty black and white pudding.

I spotted an Eight Degrees tap on the bar and that was just the start of the craft beers as a separate menu lists over a dozen of the best including the local Black’s of Kinsale. And the wine list is good too, quite a few available by the convenient (it was midday!) 100ml glass.

Service is excellent, knowledgeable, chatty. The furniture has touches of the ecclesiastical and there are lovely bunches of wild flowers on the tables.

It is a cold day so we start with the soups. They are very simply titled: Roast Vegetable Soup (4.50) and Spanish Fish Soup (6.50). Both are excellent but that Spanish dish is a gem, packed with fish, mussels, vegetables too, and warming spice. We get real bread and butter on the side. Great start.

CL then goes for the Lamb Quesadillas with salad and salsa fresca. You can have a small portion for eight euro and the larger one will cost 11.50. Well cooked and presented, the minced lamb was very tasty and not too spicy (no great need to use the cooling dip).
My choice was the Steak Salad and I hit the jackpot here: Seared steak salad with pecorino shavings, toasted pumpkin seeds and cherry tomatoes, all for 12.50. The steak, in strips, was plentiful and perfectly cooked and all the elements, including a robust salad, complemented each other in an explosion of flavours and textures. Compliments to the chef!

Dessert. The usual question: would we? The usual solution: we shared. And there was plenty to share when our generous slice of Apricot and Raspberry cake arrived, surrounded by some fresh fruit cubes, cream and ice-cream! Happy out, as we say around here.

We made a detour to get here. Well worth it. Very Highly Recommended.

(023) 884 6348

Friday, January 11, 2013

A twinning proposition: Timoleague and Samaniego

A twinning proposition: Timoleague and Samaniego
Timoleague (above) and Samaniego

Let us twin the ancient villages of Timoleague (West Cork) and Samaniego (La Rioja). Maybe I can’t pull that off but I sure can get Ummera and Baigorri together. Ummera is a famous state of the art smokehouse in Timoleague while Baigorri is a renowned state of the art winery in La Rioja.

Indeed, I have already brought them together, stumbling on a fantastic wine food pairing, as an unforeseen postscript when I recently opened a bottle of Baigorri Garnacha that I had purchased in Samaniego last summer.

Approaching the end of this bottle, I remembered that I had a few slices of the fantastic Ummera smoked duck to be finished off. Thought to myself that they might make a match.

For once, heaven agreed with me. Chewed a sliver of the duck and added a little wine. Eureka! The "chemistry"  revealed depths of smoky flavour, hitherto unsuspected. Amazingly, products from two ancient villages met on my palate and turned it into a flavour filled paradise.

Baigorri Garnacha, Rioja 2009, 14.5%, €19.54 at the winery in Haro.

Baigorri tend to experiment a bit and they even have a “garage” wine. This Garnacha has been influenced by the winemakers, a vin de l'auteur they call it. A well made wine for sure and highly recommended (very highly recommended if you add the smoked duck!) but a little pricey in comparison with their excellent Tempranillo Reserva.

Quite a dry introduction and then a bubbly rush of fruits. A flavoursome wine then with a stirring persistence. It has a rich red colour with calm fruity aromas, especially plum, plus hints of spice. Overall, the experience in the mouth echoes that of the bouquet.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dillon’s Abú

Dillon’s Abú

Timoleague, long famous for its impressive if ruined abbey, is fast becoming well known now for Dillon’s, the brilliant restaurant with the welcome touch provided so genuinely by Julie and Chef John Finn, the engaging owners.

Parked by the abbey last Saturday and worked up an appetite by walking over towards Courtmacsherry. The appetite reached 100% before we got to Courtmac so we turned back and headed for Dillon’s, just in time to see a parade of veteran cars go by. By the time we left, we were full, the appetite needle comfortably in the resting position.

Began the meal with a chat and then we were presented with some tasty brown bread and a magnificent Wild Garlic hummus, made in-house of course. Just cleaned out the bowl. It was so gorgeous.

While waiting for the soup, Julie brought out a tasting sample of the West Cork Seafood Chowder with Coconut and Coriander. She was obviously proud of this (not to mention hubby John’s part in it) and rightly so. Just brilliant. If you get the chance, go for it.

Was then half-wondering had I made a mistake by ordering the Creamy Asparagus and Leek Soup with Wild Garlic Pesto and that Brown Bread (€4.95). Not a bit of it. Looked good and the taste was top notch.

And now for the main courses. CL chose the West Cork duck, Piccalilli Red Onion Marmalade and Hummus Wrap with local salad and roast potatoes (12.95). Great ingredients and a terrific combination. Really fantastic roast potatoes.

And I had the same potatoes on my dish: Roast Fillet of Hake with Shaved Fennel and Beetroot slaw, Salsa Verde and Wild Garlic Pesto (15.95). Again this produced a pretty photograph. The camera wasn't lying as Dillon’s once again outshone themselves. Everything was perfect and that unusual slaw went down a crunchy treat. Happy out!

But not finished yet! Dessert. Would we? Of course. But we did share the delicious pear, almond and blackberry tart (5.50). A couple of coffees and more chat and soon two happy customers walked out into the West Cork sun with a jar of that Wild Garlic Hummus and a loaf of the brown bread, both to be demolished at supper time! Couldn’t wait.

Great stuff in Timoleague, an essential stop on the Bandon Food Trail

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Anthony Creswell with his 2010 UK Great Taste Gold and newly delivered salmon being processed.

On a boreen at the back of Timoleague, the back if we agree the front faces the estuary, there is a fork and if you take the left, even before you take the left, you will see a modest timber building below you.

It looks like a big hut but this is a state of the art smoke house and is the home of multi-award winning Ummera. Some of the awards are displayed outside. I had a guide here last week, none other than the owner Anthony Creswell.

Not only is this building a state of the art organic smoke house, it is also a highly efficient production unit, very streamlined indeed with the raw material arriving at one door and the tasty finished products leaving at the other end.

On the day I arrived, a delivery of salmon from Clew Bay had been made. The ice-packed boxes were being opened and the salmon, all individually tagged, were being filleted in preparation for the smoking. At the end is the packing and the dispatch, a room from which these high class products are sent to destinations all over the world.

The much sought after Ummera Smoked Products include Smoked Organic Salmon, Organic Gravadlax, Smoked Eel, Smoked Chicken, Smoked Duck and Smoked Dry Cured Bacon and are available at a range of outlets in Ireland. Sea Salt from Portugal and Raw Cane Sugar (Organic) from Costa Rica are used in the process but no artificial preservatives.

Ummera products have even ended up in Hawaii but they are also appreciated locally and indeed I enjoyed a gorgeous plateful of them in Dillon’s Restaurant (highly recommended) in Timoleague village before meeting Anthony.

Aside from being a very efficient “production line”, the smoke house is also extremely environmentally friendly. There are armies of worms working out the back in the vermi-composting unit set up to dispose of production waste and the site has a natural wetland for water waste.

The business goes back to the early 70s but this new house was built in 2000 and modified in 2004 to meet the demanding standards required by the Irish Government and the EU for the export of meat and poultry products. This enabled Ummera Smoked Chicken and Smoked Dry Cured Bacon to be exported throughout the EU in compliance to EU regulations. The Ummera Smoke house is the only one in Ireland licensed to smoke both fish and meat (including poultry).

Check out all the fascinating details here.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Of Timoleague

In Timoleague, where stands the substantial ruins of a 13th century abbey, there is a restaurant called Dillon’s, run for the last couple of years by Julie and John Finn. This was an old bar and shop and that kind of atmosphere still remains as the bright spot is still a great place for social interaction, groups gathering for a chat and a coffee and even a game of bridge in the mornings.

That such a link to the past remains, says much for the friendliness and welcome you receive from the Finns. Julie looks after the front of house while John (originally from Mitchelstown) is the chef. Lovely people and lovely food.

Made my first call there last Friday, for lunch, and we got a terrific welcome and a terrific meal. Timoleague may be a relatively small place and Dillon’s a small restaurant, but the scope of the lunch menu (it is changed daily) is amazing, as you can see from the photo.

Took us a while to make the choice but knowing that the organic Ummera Smoke House was close by, we picked the House Platter with Smoked Salmon, Smoked Chicken and Smocked Duck, with homemade chutney, local Organic Salad and Brown Bread.
Click on image to enlarge
Didn't regret a bite of it. The fish and meats were up to the standard we know and expect. The chutney was top notch as was the salad and brown bread. Enjoyed it and the chat.

After that, and the Tasting Menu the night before at the Cornstore, we weren’t too sure about dessert but were persuaded when we saw the tart on the counter, the Pear, Almond, Blueberry and Raspberry tart that is.

Had something like this in Cafe Madeleine’s in St Gilles Croix de Vie in the Vendee in the early 80s. The Dillon’s effort was probably better and that too will find a special place in my food memory (which I must admit goes back a surprisingly long way!). “I’d drive down from the city just for this alone,” enthused CL.

Lots of people drive down from the city (just about an hour) in any case and Sunday lunch in Dillon’s is very popular. Opening hours are a little restricted at this time of year so check the latest on the website  before you go.

Afterwards you may work it off by taking the walk along the route of the old railway to Courtmacsherry and back (about ten kilometres return). Speaking of walks, who walked in as we finished the coffee only Anthony Creswell, the owner of the aforementioned Ummera Smoke House but that is another story, another post.

Dillon’s of Timoleague: 023 8846390,

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Click to enlarge


Just back from Clonakilty and a packed two days in the area. First stop was Dillon’s in Timoleague for lunch on Friday and to see owners John and Julie Finn.

Highlight here was a multi-fruit pie, worth the trip for this alone. But before that we had a brilliant plateful of Ummera smoked products and just as well as Anthony Creswell soon made an appearance. Delighted then to take up his invitation to see his smoke-house, the only one in Ireland licensed for both fish and meat smoking.

Took the scenic route then – it was quite a fine day – though Courtmacsherry and Butlerstown and Ring – and then headed to our base, the Macliam Guest House in Clon. We got a warm welcome from John (and an equally warm one from Maeve later on) and installed ourselves in a very comfortable room.

Still daylight aplenty so headed off down to Inchadoney for a long walk on the sand. Fully refreshed and with appetite renewed, called into Costello’s Malthouse for dinner. Lovely welcome from Amanda and a fine meal too where the highlights were a couple of top notch fish dishes.
Click on image to enlarge

Rain was expected on Saturday morning and it didn't let us down. It lashed in Skibbereen as we walked through the market which, in fairness, was still doing a good business, especially the Sheila and Mary fish stall.

We had a magnificent breakfast at the guesthouse but time now for a coffee and a call to Fields where I couldn't resist their smashing Tunisian orange cake. Had a look around the supermarket and delighted to see so many local products, including virtually all of the range from Just Food in Cobh. My kind of supermarket.

The rain still fell as we drove back towards Clon and a return visit, after decades, to the Model Village and Railway. Just bought our tickets and the sun came out and stayed out for the rest of the day. Really enjoyed the stroll around the village and the models of the area’s towns but the highlight for me was a very nostalgic audio visual presentation of the last day of the West Cork railway in 1961.

With the sun now firmly established, we drove to the coast and to Red Strand where half a dozen surfers were braving the strong waves. Galley Head was silhouetted in the distance and we made that our next destination. Enjoyed walking round the area in the stiff enough breeze and took a few photos of the waves crashing in against the rocks.

Dinner was on the agenda again, of course, and this time we had a booking at the bright and breezy bistro called Richy’s. First though we made a call to An Sugán for a drink. Nobody there at seven but it was packed half an hour later (punters there for the food as much as the drink) as we left to cross the road.

Great service at Richy's where the pretty large menu is supplemented daily by a blackboard full of specials. We knew we were on a winner the minute we tasted our starter of Clonakilty Black Pudding Samosas and also with the first mouthful of a gorgeous Domaine La Columbette Pinot Noir 2010 (down from 35 to 28 euro).

I’ll have more details on the restaurants in later posts but all three are highly recommended.

And another big recommendation for Mcliam’s. Met some lovely guests there including two US couples, travelling separately. They were amazed at the friendliness of the Irish people and backed it up with concrete examples. Like the man who interrupted his walk, sat into the car and guided one of the couples to their destination. And another who interrupted his chores to drive ahead of them to a tourist site - some 22 miles away!

Hard to beat that kind of friendliness but we found it too. Well we didn't have much need of directions but a query in one town was answered, in a friendly manner, by a young French person and one of the US couples were amazed when a foreign person in Dublin used his own phone to get directions for them. But everywhere we were greeted with a smile and, if we needed info, that was provided too. Just loved the couple of days.