Showing posts with label Toons Bridge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Toons Bridge. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

My North Cork Collection. Including the Old Butter Roads Food Trail

My "North Cork" Collection
Including the Old Butter Roads Food Trail
Corrin Hill, one of many walks in North Cork area.

The Old Butter Roads Food Trail, launched earlier this year, is a cooperative effort between restaurants, producers and accommodation and activity providers in the North Cork area. 


North Cork is not an administrative area but then neither is West Cork. The boundaries are a bit flexible. The Food Trail organisers often refer to the three baronies of Duhallow, Muskerry and Avondhu (again none are administrative areas (except for GAA purposes!)) as being their constituent parts.

Blarney Castle

I have been visiting various restaurants and producers in the area over the past few years as you can see from the links below. Not all the places I've visited are necessarily members of  the Old Butter Roads Food Trail. If they are, you'll see the churn symbol displayed at the entrance or in their literature. Where there's a link below, it means that I have eaten, drank, visited or slept, maybe all four, at that place.

Glamping option at Ballyvolane House

So okay, just suppose you've landed in Blarney. Where to eat? Easy. Head to the The Square Table, Blarney in the evening. Just a few miles outside the village, you will find the boys of  Blairs Inn who'll feed you all day long (great place too for craft beer!). 
If you keep heading west, you may well end up in Macroom. Why not dine and stay the night in the Castle Hotel
Rainbow in Macroom

But perhaps you decide to head to the northeast. Lucky you will have much to choose from. Perhaps a day-time call to the Thatch and Thyme Café in Kildorrery. In the evening, visit the white deer at Mallow Castle and then call to the lovely and popular Peppers, Mallow for dinner. There are two cafes in Doneraile and, of course, the 166 hectare park with long and short walks that take you by the Awbeg River and herds of deer.

Deer in Doneraile Park

Lots of quality accommodation in the general area. Each of the three big houses below have an added attraction! Ballyvolane House near Castlelyons is the home of the renowned Bertha's Revenge gin. At Longueville House, enjoy the food and their very own cider, and don't forget their award winning Apple Brandy (as good as any from Normandy!).

Dinner is on. Longueville House

There's always a big welcome at Ballinwillin House & Farm and a tour of the farm where you'll see their Wild Boar and Deer. And the drink here is the wine, Chateau Mulcahy, from their very own vineyard in Hungary and the tasting is in a Hungarian style room. Cheers!

Wild Boar at Ballinwillin

And if you're a beer lover, then head west to the 9 White Deer micro-brewery in Ballyvourney.

He can talk and he can sing: Jack of McCarthy Butchers in Kanturk.

Looking for world class black-pudding and more? Then put McCarthy Butchers Kanturk on your list. You'll enjoy the produce and the chat. Close by, in Newtownshandrum you find the lovely Bluebell Falls Goats Cheese




Bluebell goat

Over in the Mallow direction, you'll come across Old Millbank Smoked Salmon. In the Blarney area, Hydro Farm Allotments and Blarney Chocolate are worth a check.
Toons Bridge

For great cheese and all things cheese related, Toons Bridge Dairy near Macroom is a must stop. Here too they have a café with lovely snacks and lunches, wine, even their own pizza oven.


View from Griffin's at lunch-time. Water-skier not guaranteed!
 A great place to sample what the area has to offer is the Killavullen Farmers Market. Lots of people like the garden centre and café double and you can score a good one at Griffin's Dripsey. Garden Centre & Restaurant.
Killavullen Farmers Market

If you venture into the Shandon area of the city, you'll find the place where all these old butter roads ended. While there, why not visit the Butter Museum (you might even see them making butter) and then ring the bells at St Anne's. Blarney Castle, right in the village, draws tourists from all over the world.

View of Firkin Crane from St Anne's Shandon

If you don't fancy sitting down, eating and drinking all day and need to stretch those legs then check out Blarney based Activity Days, with lots of choice for kids and adults. If you just have enough time for a short walk, there are a couple in Blarney, including the Blarney to Waterloo Loop. You'll enjoy your dinner, and the rest, that night!

Peppers in Mallow

Some other Butter Roads Food Trail members:

Annabelle Farm;
Follain, Baile Bhuirne;
Hegarty’s Cheese, Whitechurch;
O'Brien’s Free Range Eggs, Whitechurch;
Osbourne’s Butchers, Blarney;
Real Meat Co-op, Boherbue, Mallow;;
Twomey’s Buchers, Macroom;
Castle Hotel, Blarney;
Nibbles Cafe, Milstreet;
O Callaghan’s Delicatessen & Restau- rant, Mitchelstown;
Old Post Office Cafe, Blarney;
Praline Pastry Shop, Mitchelstown;
THe Farm Grenagh;
Old Post Office Cafe, Blarney






Thursday, April 6, 2017

Kernel Kilkenny. Maria’s Up and Running

Kernel Kilkenny

Maria’s Up and Running
Salmon
So here you are in the kitchen with this lot in front of you: Salmon, sugar snaps, mint, new potatoes, Toonsbridge feta, butternut squash, lime dressing. What to do? Well, check with Maria Raftery, the owner-chef at Kernel, Kilkenny’s newest restaurant. She grilled the salmon and put all the other ingredients together in a magical manner to produce one of the best salmon dishes you're likely to come across.

It is one of the main dishes on the new menu at the restaurant which has taken up most of the front of the Kilkenny Inn on Vicar Street. And the dish, and others, amply illustrate that Maria has lost none of her innovative qualities that shone through over 17 years at Zuni, also in Kilkenny.
Goatsbridge trout
 Kernel Restaurant and Bar, to give it its full title, will be running hand in hand with the hotel and is providing the breakfast for the lucky patrons. Brunch and dinner is also available, even afternoon teas for both ladies and gents!


Back to our visit. While CL was finishing off the salmon and singing its praises, I was tucking into something a little less complicated: the Kernel Angus Beef Burger, smoked Gubbeen, burger sauce, pickle-slaw, house fries. Less complicated maybe but still a perfect combination of textures and flavours.
Ham Hock Scotch Egg
CL had started the meal with Goatsbridge Trout Ceviche, Nori Seaweed, Smoked Trout Mousse, Roe Dressing. Hard to beat that. You’ll notice that Kernel has started by supporting local producers and Goatsbridge Trout Farm is one of the best.

I didn't do too badly either with my Ham Hock Scotch Egg, Piccalilli. Lacked nothing in either quantity or quality, full of good flavour and a really satisfying opening to my visit to Kernel.
 The dessert list is short but still left us puzzled, a puzzle we solved by ordering the Assiette of Desserts, a sweet solution.


They’ve got a pretty good wine list, three suppliers contributing to a good balance overall. We made a bit of a compromise, an enjoyable one, on the Cantina Frentana, Montepulciano D’Abbruzo, fruity and smooth, and twenty five euro the bottle.
Dessert - for sharing!
Had noticed a few (quite a few actually) craft beers on the list including Franciscan Well, Costello’s, O’Hara’s, Free Bird and Hop Adventure (both from Carlow) and Falling Apple Cider (also Carlow). The taps on the bar heralded the three variations of Smithwick's (Red Ale, Pale Ale and the Blonde) but I'm sorry I missed out on the tap for O’Sullivan’s Malted Red Ale, a local beer (now revived) that was produced before Smithwick started in 1710. Next time!
See also

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Club Brasserie. Out of the ordinary

Club Brasserie. Out of the ordinary
The Club Brasserie must be the most stylish dining room in Cork. Mirrors, chandeliers, flowers, the lighting and more, all brought to a perfect harmony by co-owner and front of house Beth Haughton.  All is in perfect balance then and much the same could be said about the cooking of Harold Lynch. 

Harold and Beth were well experienced together before they opened the Lapps Quay venue in 2007 and the fact that they are still going strong, when the neighbouring Oysters and Boardwalk have closed, speaks volumes for their offering.

And the offering? They are both chefs and known for their commitment to quality ingredients, sourced locally where possible – and for cooking unfussy food with style. Our menus offer a zesty take on a range of modern classics and many dishes are well-suited to appearing under various guises at different times of day.

Outside view

We called in for dinner last weekend after visiting a wine fair in the adjoining Clarion. The welcome was warm as always and the service was very friendly indeed and on the ball too. The regular menu is supplemented by a strong list of specials and we were soon going through the options. They have an excellent wine list too but, after close to three hours at the fair, we had to “be good”.

CL started with a Warm salad of roasted pear, crispy pancetta and Cashel Blue cheese (€10.00). Perfection, a terrific combination, enhanced hugely by the pear and the pancetta.
The bar

There were four starters on the Specials and my pick was the Chargrilled spicy chicken salad, toasted almonds, roasted harissa oil, lambs lettuce, avocado and mint dressing (10.00). Another gem, with the oil and dressing lifting it well out of the ordinary.

CL likes the duck here and so it was no surprise when she choose the Crispy Duck Confit, with creamy flageolet beans, green beens and a wine sauce (19.00). Another perfect little creation from the Brasserie kitchen.

I went off piste a little with Baked Risotto, wild and fresh mushrooms, spinach, Toonsbridge Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. This is a regular on the menu and a high-scoring one at that. Delicious.

Two happy customers at that point. No thought of dessert but, after the gentlest of persuasion, we surrendered and shared Ice-cream with rum and chocolate chips (70%). Not declared on the specials but it was rather special. Chocolate and rum = yum!
Dessert. My pic, others by Club Brasserie



Club Brasserie
City Quarter, Lapps Quay, Cork.
(021) 427 3987
Email: beth.theclubbrasserie@hotmail.com
Facebook: The Club Brasserie

Twitter: @clubbrasserie

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Veronica Steele. Pioneer in Irish cheese. Focus too on County Cork in new Oxford Companion to cheese.

Veronica Steele. Pioneer in Irish cheese.
Focus too on County Cork in new Oxford Companion to cheese.
A buffalo on Johnny Lynch's farm, near Macroom
Pioneer cheesemaker Veronica Steele is credited with the development of modern Irish artisanal cheese and County Cork cheese in general gets a section to itself in the The Oxford Companion to Cheese, due to be published on December 1st. 


The 1084 page book, edited by Dr Catherine Donnelly, is the first major reference work dedicated to cheese and contains 855 A-Z entries in cheese history, culture, science and production. 

In the early 1970s, Steele and her husband, Norman, a lecturer in philosophy at Trinity College Dublin, decided to leave the city and the academic life in favour of raising a family on a small farm. 

Veronica first experimented to provide an alternative to processed cheese for her family and to preserve the excess milk from their one cow. She eventually evolved a soft and pungent washed rind cheese called Milleens. It was a great success and by 1981 was selling in shops and restaurants throughout Ireland and as far away as London and Paris. 

Steele was also inspired by cheesemaking as a route to viability for a rural area struggling with high unemployment. Today, Veronica and Norman’s son Quinlan carry on the tradition of making Milleens, but the book says that all of Ireland owes Veronica Steele a debt of gratitude for her vision and generosity of spirit. 

The big breakthrough for Milleens came when Declan Ryan and Myrtle Allen tasted her cheese and enthusiastically featured their discovery on the cheese boards of two of Ireland’s most renowned restaurants, Arbutus Lodge and Ballymaloe House.

The West Cork washed-rind cheeses Milleens, Durrus, Gubbeen, and North Cork’s Ardrahan, each has an international reputation, and were all created by remarkable, spirited women, most inspired by Veronica. The flavour of Milleens is reminiscent of Munster (not the local Munster!).

Jeffa Gill started to make her semi-soft, washed-rind Durrus cheese on her hillside farm in Coomkeen on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula in 1979. She too was one of the first generation of Irish farmhouse cheese-makers. Using artisanal methods, Jeffa and her team, gently and slowly craft a cheese that is closely linked to the land and the mild and humid climate.

Gubbeen farmhouse cheese is made from the milk of Tom and Giana Ferguson’s herd of Friesian, Jersey, Simmental, and Kerry cows. One of the distinguishing characteristics of Gubbeen cheese is the unique type of microflora on the rind, which has now been identified and given the name Microbacterium gubbeenense.

Ardrahan, made by Mary Burns near Kanturk in North Cork since 1983, is possibly the feistiest and most pungent of all the washed-rind cheeses of County Cork.

Although the washed-rind cows milk cheeses have the highest profile they are by no means the whole cheese story of County Cork. Other fine cheeses, made from both cows milk and goats milk and now buffalo, round out Cork’s contribution to cheesemaking. 
Coolea

Dick and Helene Willems started making Coolea cheese in 1979 as a way to use up excess raw milk from their own herd of cattle and to provide the Gouda cheese that they were craving from their native Netherlands. Their son Dicky continues to make the superb cheese using milk from two local herds. 

Dicky told me an interesting story on a recent visit. Their cheese was to be called Milleens after the local townland but that was knocked on the head as the Steeles, further west, on the Beara peninsula, and living in a townland of the same name, had just started making a cheese called Milleens. And so the Coolea brand was born.
St Gall, by Fermoy
Frank Shinnick and his German wife, Gudrun, began making raw-milk cheese in 1996 from their own dairy herd outside Fermoy, in North Cork. The cheeses are made in a 396-gallon (1,500-litre) copper vat procured at considerable effort from Switzerland. Fermoy cheeses are part of the Slow Food raw-milk cheese presidium. 

There are many other cheesemakers in the Cork area, such as the O’Farrells in Carrigaline and the Hegartys in Whitechurch, both well established. 

“I love the smoked cheese”, declared Padraig O’Farrell during a visit. “It is indigenous to Carrigaline. The milk is local, and the wood, old beech, is local. And we smoke it out the back.”

Hegarty’s make cheddar and their more mature versions are in great demand. The oldest is indeed the more popular though, according to Dan Hegarty, his bank manager would prefer if the youngest was in top position!



Goats Milk Cheeses 


Jane Murphy

Jane Murphy, a microbiologist by profession, is perhaps the queen of goats milk cheese in County Cork, having started to make cheese on the Ardsallagh farm in 1980. At the other side of the city, Orchard Cottage thrives as does Blue Bells Falls in Newtownshandrum in North Cork.  



In Kilmichael, you’ve got the Sunview goats. Further west, on Cape Clear Island off West Cork, the remarkable blind cheesemaker Ed Harper makes small quantities of cheese from the milk of British Alpine goats that graze on his beautiful rocky farmland.

New Cheesemakers

Franco, cheesemaker at Toons Bridge Dairy, near Macroom
A few years back, neighbours Toby Simmonds and Johnny Lynch imported water buffalo and began making Toons Bridge mozzarella. A “parting” saw Johnny continue to make and sell the cheese, but now under the Macroom label.

There followed a burst of creativity at Toby’s Toons Bridge dairy and a few interesting Italian style cheeses emerged, including Cacio Cavallo (traditionally tied in pairs and transported to market by pack horse). And thanks to an Italian living near by, who has a small herd of sheep, Toons Bridge also began to make Vicenza’s Pecorino.
Cacio Cavallo (mainly) in Toons Bridge
And two new cheesemakers have emerged in East Cork this year. You’ll find the cheddar style cheese from the farm of Bó Rua used in the 12 mile menu at Midleton’s Sage Restaurant and on sale generally. Not too far away, Stephen Bender produces a delicious Gouda style cheese called Ballinrostig.

Looks like there’s no end to what Veronica Steele started!

The Oxford companion, the most comprehensive work on cheese available, has drawn on an astonishing 325 authors (from 35 countries), from cheesemakers and cheese retailers to dairy scientists, microbiologists, historians and anthropologists. 

It is a landmark encyclopaedia, the most wide-ranging, comprehensive, and reliable reference work on cheese available, suitable for both novices and industry insiders alike.

* Cork has a butter museum. Time now for a cheese museum?

See also:
Cashel Blue featured in new Oxford Companion to Cheese




Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Taste of the Week. Pecorino Vincenzo

Taste of the Week
Pecorino Vincenzo
I love my sheep’s cheese, from the Cratloe Hills of County Clare to the heights of Ossau Irraty in the Pyrenees, not forgetting the superb Crozier Blue. Now I’ve got a new love all the way from the banks of the River Toon in County Cork.

I’ve had a few brief encounters with this Pecorino Vincenzo over the past few weeks and liked it. But the affair got serious when we met again at a stall in Mahon Point Farmers Market last week. This time, I got really stuck in to this amazing hard cheese, our Taste of the Week.

Pecorino is the general name for sheep’s cheese in Italy. But this beguiling Pecorino is made in Toons Bridge by Vincenzo to a family recipe from his native Marche region and is one of a brilliant bunch of cheeses, including Cacio Cavallo and Scamorza, coming from this little country crossroads not too far from Macroom. Vincenzo has a small herd of sheep nearby.

This is the official dairy description: Pecorino Vincenzo is made from raw milk and is a dry cheese suitable for the table and grating. It is sweet and has a little piccante when aged to its limit. It is best around 6 weeks, but this also depends on the size of the wheel.

All a bit mundane really for a cheese with such complex flavours. This is really classy (and priced accordingly).

These cheeses are generally suitable for grating and cooking and, according to the Retailers Guide to the Fine Cheeses of Europe, are particularly good for fondues, omelettes, sauces, soups and sprinkling over savour dishes. I’m finding it irresistible on its own though.

Toons Bridge
Macroom
County Cork
Twitter: @ToonsBridge
Tel: 087 3457790 (opening hours only)
Cafe: Fri-Sat 12.30-4.00; Sun 12.30-6.00.
Shop: Fri-Sat 11.00-9.00; Sun 11.00-7.00