Showing posts with label Toonsbridge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Toonsbridge. Show all posts

Monday, April 24, 2017

Two Tipp Top Cafés. Stef Hans & French Quarter

Two Tipp Top Cafés

Stef Hans & French Quarter

Mezze

After seeing the venerable buildings, including Hayes Hotel, in the square at Thurles, the Source Arts Centre around the corner is something of a pleasant surprise and even more pleasant when you find yourself in the cheery bright room where Stef Hans serve up delicious food.

The Café supports local suppliers (including the Apple Farm, Toonsbridge Dairy, O’Dwyer Butchers, Irish Piedmontese and Le Caveau wines) and they are listed on the multi-choice menu. There are even more choices on the specials board and the friendly staff will point those out to you as well.

Prices are good here and we started off with a plate to share for just €7.50. This was the Mezze Platter, served with hummus, dips, and olives and home bread comes. And a delicious starter it proved to be.

Chicken
 CL picked the Fish of the Day (15.00), supplied by Daly’s. This was Cod with vegetables (carrot and tender stem broccoli) and salad and served with delicious chorizo potato. The fish was as fresh as you’ll get and cooked to a T.


We were getting quality and quantity here and that was underlined with my choice: The Coronation Chicken open sandwich served with organic leaves, house pickle, chutney and fries, a simple dish, well priced and a well judged mix of great flavours and textures. 
The Source in Thurles

Earlier in the day, we had called to Tipperary Town, smiling at the sign on the way in that said: “Welcome. You've come a long way”. Not that long really as the town is just over an hour from Cork.

Time though for a cuppa and we found the very thing, and a Cork connection, in the French Quarter Café in the Excel Centre. It is run by Loic and Anne Marie (well known in the Cork’s famous Lobby Bar in the years before its closure).
Pear & Almond in French Quarter
 So we had a lovely chat in this busy spot. From the café’s name, you’d be thinking pastries here and you'd be right. We were tempted straight away. From the big line-up, we picked the delicious Pear and Almond Tart and a Rhubarb Tart and they went down well with good coffee (for me) and tea.


And if you come at lunch-time they will cater for you as well: no shortage of savoury dishes including paninis, wraps, sandwiches (with all kinds of fillers), salads and quiches. Indeed, if you are on the road early, you'll find them open from 9.30am on weekdays, 10.00am on Saturdays.

See more details of my Trip to Tipp here, includes visits to Farney Castle and Holycross Abbey.
The Excel (right) in Tipperary Town

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






Monday, August 24, 2015

Staples Making His Mark at Hayfield Manor

Staples Making His Mark at Hayfield
Superb Lunch at Perrott's
Even on a dull day, Perrott’s Bistro in the Hayfield Manor is an impressive room. And, to further brighten up the place, there is excellent food available here, both day and night. And indeed, the room is perhaps even more impressive after dark.


Scottish chef Mark Staples brought considerable experience to the Hayfield when he was appointed Executive Chef there late last year. Prior to that he had spent 16 years in Dublin's Merrion and noticed the trend towards artisan food and meets that demand at Perrotts by using quite a few local producers including Skeaghanore Duck, Bluebell Falls Goats Cheese, Rosscarbery Black Pudding and Toonsbridge Mozzarella. (To read more on Mark's career, click here).


 It was a pretty dull day when we arrived last week but it brightened up with a warm welcome. Service was superb all through. And we got a super wine tip that saw us both enjoy the excellent te Pā Sauvignon blanc from Marlborough, a fine example of the type, full of flavour and with a long rolling finish.

It's been awhile since I enjoyed a Prawn cocktail as much as my starter: Tiger Prawn and Freshwater Prawn Cocktail with pickled Cucumber. The prawns were delicious and the pickled cucumber (seedless, skinless) was a nice touch, not just visually.

You see goats cheese a lot on local menus. And why not? We’ve got some terrific producers. CL’s starter was Grilled Bluebell Falls Goats Cheese with Oat and Almond Crust, Rocket Leaves and White Balsamic Marinated Strawberries. A few different touches here, that crust and those strawberries included, enhanced the excellent cheese from North Cork.

My mains was the Bertram Salter Free Range Chicken with Rosscarbery Black Pudding, Ham Hock and Chicken Croquette, Champ Mash, Pea Purée and Tarragon jus. I hadn't come across this particular producer before; Bertram is based in County Carlow and the product is top class and was cooked to perfection here. All the other elements played a part, especially that outstanding Croquette.
 CL loves her hake and enjoyed this Pan-seared Union Hall Hake fillet with Celeriac and Thyme Purée, Roasted Baby Onions, Salt Baked Kohlrabi, Caper Beurre Noisette. It was of course that little bit different. She particularly enjoyed the Kohlrabi and the potato crisps were both decorative and tasty!


And the little touches that make all the difference continued into the desserts. Desserts can often be very similar from one restaurant to another and are the one course I'd often happily leave behind. But no danger of that here.

CL’s was the Baked Glenilen Yogurt, Cinnamon Crumble, Strawberry and Mint Salsa with champagne sorbet while I picked the Alunga Milk Chocolate Parfait, Sea Buckthorn, Caramelized cashews, and Brown Bread ice cream. Rene Redzepi of Noma brought the attention of his fellow chefs to Sea Buckthorn and the foraged berries make a lovely syrup (may be used in yogurts and smoothies). As I say, desserts with a difference for the guests at Perrott’s.


Mark and his team. To read more on Mark, click here


Monday, June 15, 2015

All White on the Night. Dining Out in Cork City

All White on the Night.

Dining Out in Cork City.
“Bet you never thought you’d be sitting down to a three course meal on the street outside Penny’s and Guiney's,” said one diner as we gathered for Our Table in Oliver Plunkett Street (Cork) last evening. The four hundred of us, dressed in white (mostly!), were dined, wined and entertained for the two hours. The verdict: bring on 2016. Indeed, even before the night, indications were that double the number would be catered for next year.
Starter by House
So lots of craic, good fun and good food too. The long table was divided into four and we were at the B section. Each section had three restaurants looking after its needs and our trio were House, Isaacs and ORSO.

As we arrived we were treated to a refreshing flower-topped juice and guided to our table (and, yes, it was outside Penny’s and Guiney's). Soon we were meeting new and old friends and a glass of wine, sponsored by O'Donovan’s, went down well.
The event was sponsored by BAM Ireland and JCD and there were special thanks to Cork City Council, Cork City Forum, Elbow Lane Brewery, Stonewell Cider, One water, Down to Earth Materials, The Oliver Plunkett, O’Donovan’s Off Licence, The Pavilion Garden Centre, Cork Midsummer Festival. And a big round of applause too for the restaurants (management and staff) involved.
Mains by Isaac's. More on the side!
After the introductory drink and a nibble on the gorgeous Arbutus Bread (with butter), it didn't take long at all and the 400 were settling into the House starter: Carpaccio of baby radish, gold and red beets with tahini grapefruit and pistachio. Loved that mix of flavours, textures, not forgetting colours. A very promising start indeed.

Lamb was the main course at all the tables and Isaac’s came up with Slow roast shoulder of lamb with summer greens, spiced aubergines, and Ballycotton new potatoes. The best of ingredients plus the top class cooking forever associated with the MacCurtain Street venue made for a lot of happy diners at Table B!

The first two courses were excellent and the high standard was maintained right to the sweet end with the appearance of the ORSO dessert: Pecan and local honey baklava with gooseberry and elderflower compote, and Toonsbridge ricotta cream. A delightful dessert indeed, made even more so by the tang of the compote.

All that had to be done then was finish off the wine and head up the street to see how the others were doing. Met diners and restaurateurs alike and it was a case of thumbs up in all cases. Happy out!

The event was part of the Cork Midsummer Festival which continues for another week. See the programme for the coming week here.
Dessert by ORSO

Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring Time at The Cornstore

Spring Time at The Cornstore.
Day and Night Delights

Aged beef and amazing béarnaise sauce
The Cornstore has marked the coming of Spring with a trio of new menus: new Cocktails, a new Lunch line-up and a stunning Early Bird which gives you quality at an excellent price.


I sampled the Early Bird in mid-week and was very happy with it. No shortage of choice here. You have five starters to pick from, six main courses and four desserts. It is available Monday to Saturday and the three course menu will cost you a very reasonable twenty five euro but do get in before the cut-off time of 6.30pm.
Both the starters were perfect. CL’s was Buffalo Mozzarella and Beef Tomato Salad (Toonsbridge mozzarella, pea shoot and balsamic). The cheese was so fresh, hard to beat unless maybe you go to the dairy itself. My Duck Parfait, served with their own award winning Fig Whiskey Chutney and Sourdough Toast, was another perfectly judged gem.

Cornstore always have their eye on the season and wild Garlic featured in CL’s delicious mains: Roast Cod on a Wild Garlic Risotto with tomato vinaigrette. Here were aromas and flavours to beat the band, a top notch combination.
Starters

And so was mine, though it carries a modest three euro supplement. The Cornstore are renowned for their aged beef and so I couldn't resist the Aged Beef Fillet Medallions with Caesar dressed leaves, home cut fries and béarnaise sauce. Oh my! I could have eaten each element on its own, nothing else, and been happy. But put them all together like this and my palate was beyond happy!

Good variation on the mains on offer. Also available were: Brazed Flat Iron Steak, Oven Roast Chicken, Truffle Burger (this is mega!), and Thai Green Vegetable Curry. Other starters on the night were Soup of the Day, Quinoa Salad and Peppered Calamari.

And the seasonal theme continued as we moved to dessert. My delightful choice was the Rhubarb and Lime Posset with Madeline biscuit while CL enjoyed her Fruit Salad with a Raspberry Sorbet.

There are Lite Bites, To Share plates, and a long list of mains on the Lunch Menu. But the section that caught my eye was the Set Lunch. Here you may have 2 courses for just 15 euro, picking from five starters and five mains (including that Truffle Burger). Three course come to twenty euro.

The Cornstore cocktails aren't just a fast drink. Did you know that preparations can take up to 14 days! Didn't get a chance to sample the new mixes but Cornstore’s Mags O’Connor is enthusiastic: “The final exclusive menu, just launched, will delight everyone from the cocktail connoisseur, to the person taking their first ever sip of the clever creations”.   

“Vodka, gin, whiskey and rum are infused with various fruits and vegetable based elixirs for up to 14 days. Time works its magic to create infusions that are at their ultimate flavoursome peak. Think vodka infused with chilli, gin infused with Earl Grey tea, lemon and peel, whiskey infused with plums or rum infused with dried apricots.”

Desserts

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Macroom’s Church Lane Restaurant. Blessed to have great food on the table

Macroom’s Church Lane Restaurant

Blessed to have great food on the table

Church Lane is a multi-room restaurant in the grounds of a church in Macroom. The building itself was originally used as the sextant’s lodge and later as a family home. Since 2012, sisters Laura and Cheryl have been feeding locals and visitors alike. Many of the visitors are travellers on the main Cork-Killarney road that runs alongside but quite a few now make a special trip as the restaurant is well known for its high quality.

We had enjoyed that quality via their super Tapas menu some time back but, on this occasion, we went for the a la carte. Reading the menu you notice that quite a few local producers are suppliers here and now they've added local craft beer brewers, including 9 White Deer, to their drinks options.

And this a heads-up for you. If you make it as far as dessert, then do please try the Tiramisu. It is one of the very best around, maybe the best! Unfortunately it is a special and you could be unlucky if it's not on!

There is a very good choice of starters. CL went for the House Salad and was delighted with the mix of sweet potato, cherry tomatoes, beetroot, Toonsbridge Mozzarella, pesto, and balsamic vinegar, all for €6.90.

And if she was happy I was even more so as I got a very pleasant surprise, both in its quantity and quality, with the Prawn Bruschetta (8.90), three pieces of gorgeous bread piled high with the prawns which had been pan-fried and were served with a dazzling garlic and cream sauce. An absolutely brilliant dish that also features in the Tapas menu.

My mains, though excellent, was almost mundane by comparison! But again it was perfectly cooked and delivered at the proper temperature and with a stylish presentation. This was the Pan-seared Lamb Cutlets with rosemary and garlic mash, fresh vegetables and a luxurious red wine jus!

The other mains was also dispatched with some gusto, this the award winning Skeaghanore Duck Breast on a bed of creamed spinach with potato gratin and wild berry reduction. Superb, as you’d expect and, of course, we had excellent side dishes as well.

Each of our mains cost €23.95. The amazing Tiramisu, that we shared, cost €5.75 as do all the desserts on offer. Had we known the Tiramisu was going to be so good, we’d have ordered two. Next time!
Top: Duck (left) and Lamb
Bottom: House Salad (left) and Prawns.



Thursday, February 5, 2015

O’Mahony Butchers Can Do It. Have Been Doing It Since 1898.

O’Mahony Butchers Can Do It.
Have Been Doing It Since 1898.


“I can't do that” are not words you’ll hear from Cork butcher Eoin O’Mahony, who has just opened a grand new stall (above), right next door to the older family unit Edward O’Mahony. Over the last few years, Eoin has had requests for different cuts, new to the market. He didn't just shrug his shoulders and tell a potential customer “we don't do that” or “we can’t do that”. No. He has a chat, finds out all about it and then comes up with the goods.

And that can-do attitude led directly to the new stall. That, along with the retiral of the O'Mahony’s neighbour. “The existing stall was busy, very busy. We didn't have enough space, the range had gotten so big, our own sausages and burgers were flying.” So he took the opportunity. And on the displays of the new stall you'll see veal, venison, buffalo, and, this week, they’ll be joined by poultry.

The story all started back in the 90s, the 1890s that is, when Eoin’s great grand-father Michael Bresnan left County Limerick to be apprenticed to a Cork butcher in the market. By 1898, he had his own stall. It is still there today (with Eoin’s uncle, also Michael, at the helm), making the Bresnan family the longest continuously trading in the English Market.
Not every one wants a full leg of lamb nowadays;
just ask them to cut it into fillets (top left).
Bottom: Bavettes (left)and Buffalo steaks.
The Bresnan's bought a farm in Ballinlough, where Lovett’s restaurant eventually set up. As the city had grown around them, they moved to a new farm and abattoir in Carrigaline in 1978 and this is where the Ballea Lamb and beef comes from. Meanwhile, a small stall at the Grand Parade end became vacant and was bought by Eoin’s mother (still working there today) and that's the one with Edward O’Mahony on the sign, right next door to the new one.

Eoin says they have lots of French cuts on the new stall. “We pride ourselves on being able to produce any cut. An enquiry from an Argentinian led to the Tira di asado ribs. And I picked up a  few good ideas on a recent trip to Montreal, so watch out for new stuff in the near future!”

Spiced Buffalo came in before Christmas and was a big hit and there were also great reports back on their recent marinated hanger steak. New cuts or not, it will still all be based on the best of local produce, the lamb and beef from Ballea, veal from Macroom, buffalo (they have the full range) from Toonsbridge.
Aged steak and, insert, Tira di asado ribs
We asked Eoin if the success of any particular product had surprised him. “Well, yes, the hanger steak and the bavette and the buffalo of course. Our customers, and we do have a broad range of customers, have taken to them in a big way.” His own favourite is aged sirloin steak. The bavette, by the way, “when shredded, makes a great stir-fry”.

This weather, the most popular are the Short Ribs, Beef Cheek, Feather-Blade, and the Osso Bucco and, in the summer, customers choose from a huge range of sausages and burgers. And it is not just customers at the market that O'Mahony's are popular with. They supply many of the restaurants, big and small, around the city. For instance you’ll see the Feather Blade on the menu at Fenn’s Quay and that too helps make the cuts better known.

Eoin is looking forward to 2015 with renewed confidence. Like many market traders, that confidence has been boosted by a very busy Christmas, “one of the busiest in a few years” according to Eoin. So keep an eye on that new stall, especially from this week on, when the O’Mahony’s will be selling poultry, including “proper” chicken and duck. And not just any duck. These will be the old fashioned, “more meaty” Aylesbury bird. Happy New Year!

To see the latest from Eoin and family, follow his Twitter posts here.

The original stall, still going strong.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week
Spiced Buffalo


 A new stall and a new product for Eoin O'Mahony of the English Market. The new stall is right next door to the existing O'Mahony Butchers and the new product is Spiced Buffalo, a delicious variation on the traditional Spiced Beef and our Taste of the Week. The buffalo comes from the herd at Toonsbridge Dairy and, in the coming weeks, Eoin will have all the different cuts. Not too sure what to do with buffalo meat? Then check out the Toonsbridge recipes here. By the way, the spice used with the buffalo is not the same spice that Eoin uses with his beef!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Heather. Eat in Style at Gap of Dunloe.

Heather. A Taste of The Gap.


Quiche, Heather Style. Very Highly Recommended!
The new Heather Restaurant at the Gap of Dunloe is at once a celebration of the past and a confident step into the future. It is also backing local producers and the food, including provenance, cooking and presentation, is really excellent, and that can only be good for tourists and locals alike.

Fifty years ago, the enterprising Moriartys opened a small gift shop close to the entrance of the renowned Gap, a spectacular valley, with cliffs and lakes and a huge echo, created in the dim and distant past by ice on the move.

Their warm welcome and quality goods proved a successful combination and bit by bit they expanded the shop, so much so that the family had to leave and find a new house! Husband and wife Michael and Margaret Moriarty started that wee store in 1964 and it predominantly operates in the coach tour market, welcoming visitors as they enjoy The Ring of Kerry tour.
Smoked Mackerel Salad.
The shop, offering high quality Irish goods, including a great selection of clothing and gifts, is still going strong. A new generation, Denis Pio Moriarty and his wife Ailish (who showed me around in midweek), has taken up the reins and the couple are guiding the new venture, playing a pivotal role in the interior and exterior designs.

It is not just a restaurant. Five acres of multi-level gardens, with great views of the McGillacuddy Reeks, have been set out and will be spectacular when in full flower. Not all the ground is given over to the ornamental planting. They will be growing their own salads and vegetables, mostly under cover, and Ailish hopes to have some on the menu in Heather in the coming summer months.

The bright and spacious restaurant, set alongside the River Loe, is a great spot to start or finish your tour of the Gap or before or after any of the many walks in the area. Here you will be well fed with the best that the artisan producers of Kerry and Cork provide.
Gorgeous Hake dish.
And if you want a genuine local drink, then that is what you’ll get. You can sample the craft beers by Mountain Man Brewing, the lovely ciders of Stonewell and some smashing apple juice drinks from the orchards of Ballyhoura Apples. It is open from 11.00am until 6.00pm daily, telephone 064 6644144.

Other suppliers include: Toonsbridge Buffalo Mozzerella, Kenmare Gouda, Ballinskellings Chicken, Glenbeigh Cockles and Mussels and Ring of Kerry Lamb. The menu is a name dropping of who’s who in local artisan food producers as well as being something of a geography lesson!

The menu for Heather comes on a brown paper, reminiscent of the old brown paper bags, and it takes quite a few sheets. Watch out too for the daily specials. And they also do a Kids Menu that includes half portions of the adult dishes. 

Lots of non alcoholic drinks too. Teas from Barry’s and Solaris (Galway) and Skelligs Chocolate Hot Chocolate and coffees specially roasted for Heather. The wine list may be short but again the quality comes through. And not just the regular varieties. You can of course have your Sauvignon Blanc and Rioja but maybe you'd like to try the Gruner Veltliner (Austria) and Zinfandel (California).

Deserved dessert!
We “worked” our way through the menu on Tuesday and it was a pleasure from start to finish. I enjoyed my Beetroot and Goats Cheese Salad, with orange, fennel and fresh as could be garden leaves (€8.00) while CL was more than pleased with her Smoked Mackerel Salad that came with Candied Beetroot, Rhubarb Chutney and Rye Croutons (€7.50).

We were tempted by the Spring Lamb Stew (€15.00). In the event, CL choose the Wild Atlantic Hake, with red peppers, fennel and Salsa Verde. The Hake was fresh, just out of the Atlantic, and the whole combination was light and appetising. Really superb.

She was very happy but I must say I was thrilled with my quiche. This was a rather special, almost melt in the mouth, quiche, described as Wild Nettle and Feta Quiche, with Parmesan, Mixed Garden Leaves and, yes, an outstanding homemade Tomato Chutney. I could go on about this but will simply recommended that you do try it if you get the chance. My mains cost €12.50 while the other was fifty cent less.

We had walked for over an hour in the Gap earlier and so felt we deserved dessert, one each this time! We got a generous slice of an Orange and Cranberry cake and another of Rhubarb Tart and two cups of Maher’s coffee to bring the curtain down on an excellent lunch in lovely surroundings.

Comfortable too and spacious and some nice touches, such as the elevated glass fronted fire (not in use on Wednesday!), the exposed stone on one section of wall and the sally saplings craftwork backlit feature that rises up the full height of its wall. This was crafted, the saplings still young enough to be pliable, by a local man and Ailish says it has already become quite a talking point.

Indeed, the Heather Restaurant, in a stunning location and with high quality cooking and presentation of the best of local produce, looks all set to become a talking point itself.


Other posts from this trip to Killarney:

See my full Kerry portfolio here


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week
Aged veal steak from O'Mahony Butchers, English Market
The English Market was the source of these gorgeous Aherla Farm veal steaks. O'Mahony Butchers had aged it for 28 days and it was absolutely superb, served with rösti and stir-fried vegetables.  Starter, by the way, was halloumi (below), made with buffalo milk from the Toonsbridge Dairy and bought at the Real Olive Stall. And just to make it a market hat trick, the apples for the dessert (Cinnamon flavoured Apple and Sultana Clafoutis) came from the Midleton Farmers Market. Buy local, fresh and fair. And enjoy!


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week
Halloumi sample bites
It looks as if there’s no end to the inventiveness of the folks behind Toonsbridge Dairies. Their latest offering, a fabulous Halloumi cheese, made from Buffalo milk, is our Taste of the Week.

This ancient cheese, which originated in the Middle East region, is usually made from sheep or goat milk. It is white with a distinctive layered texture. It is often used in cooking and can be fried until brown without melting, owing to its higher-than-normal melting point. This makes it an excellent cheese for frying or grilling or fried and served with vegetables, or as an ingredient in salads. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Chapel Steps still at the top of the posts

Chapel Steps still at the top

Just been checking some of my Google stats and amazed to see that last November's post on Bandon restaurant, The Chapel Steps, is still topping the poll with almost five and half thousand hits.

The Top Five Posts

1   The Chapel Steps
2    Toonsbridge Dairy Shop
3    Rico's
4    Sharkey meets Ike. Ex US President in Cobh
5    Glounthaune Days
  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Margherita! Look what you started.

Bruno’s Mouth-watering Pizzas

Inside Bruno's
In Bruno’s in Kinsale, they make a pizza using Frank Hederman’s smoked mackerel. It is a mouth-watering taste experience.


Probably would not have been recognized in Naples in 1889. At the start of that year, according to food writer Matthew Fort (Eating Up Italy), there were just two pizzas. One was the basic pizza bianca (the crust plus olive oil and a garlic rub), the other the pizza marinara (so called because the sailors could take the ingredients to sea with them).

Then Queen Margherita of Savoy came to visit and they invented the pizza Margherita, “which combines tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves in imitation of the Italian flag in her honour”.
Courgettes like you've never tasted them before; a gem of a starter.
Pizza would never be the same again, as topping after topping was invented and used. Not sure that anywhere else uses the smoked fish, maybe they just haven’t any as good. But, if you are in Kinsale, do drop in to Bruno’s (open from six every evening) and treat yourself.

And you may well keep returning and studying the pizza. You may start at the start as they do both the Marinara and the Margherita and specials keep popping up on their big red board (also on their Facebook page). The mackerel is not the only local produce that Bruno’s use as St Tola Goat Cheese, Jack McCarthy’s Black Pudding and Toonsbridge Mozzarella also appear on the menu.

Aside from the produce, another plus is that the Bruno pizza is done in their own wood fired brick oven, especially imported from Naples. It is complete with paddle which you can see being wielded in the kitchen, viewable as you come in the door.

And another factor is their crust is made from slow rising sourdough. You know the way many pizza edges are hard and usually discarded. Not the case here. I ate every crumb of mine. A little Primitivo and later a little Valpolicella helped!

Not into pizza. Don’t worry. Lots more to choose from, including salad and bruschetta. Perhaps you’d like a fish dish such as Fresh local squid with chill and garlic. Maybe a heap of courgette ribbons.

What was that again? A mound of courgettes ribbons. Yes, indeed, another surprise for your taste buds. Doesn’t sound much, does it. And, even when topped with a bunch of pine nuts, the green and white mix doesn’t look that great.

But take a chance and start eating and soon you’ll know you are enjoying quite a treat. A treat that shows the policy of buying locally and in season and handling the produce well is paying off, not just for Bruno’s Tom and Fiona but for their customers as well. No wonder then that on a gloomy mid-September night, the split level restaurant is full!

Handmade Fresh Ravioli of Organic beetroot and ricotta
 with a lemon and sage butter and rocket and parmesan
It is quite a quirky building, built up the slight slope in the street and finishing as a sharp edge between two streets. That initial triangle is where the kitchen is and then you have two rooms on different levels. The exposed stone walls are whitewashed, ceiling beams are exposed and generous cushions mean you may eat and drink with comfort.

And with some class as well. So now, do go down and try that Hederman pizza. Or of you prefer meat to fish, then maybe the one featuring Jack McCarthy’s black pudding is for you. It will be for me, next time I visit. Margherita! Look what you started.

Fresh local seafood risotto