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

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Taste of the Week. Crossogue’s Loganberry Jam

Taste of the Week

Crossogue’s Loganberry Jam

Having been born and spent my early years in Kenya, I moved to Ireland to marry a wonderful Irish man and together we run the family farm Crossogue. Now 50 years of marriage later with six children and thirteen grand children, I am still here and have enjoyed the journey it has all taken me on!

That is briefly, very briefly, the story of Veronica of Crossogue Preserves. The preserves are a relatively recent addition to the farm, just over twenty two years. And they just get better and better as the flow of prizes and awards (sixty alone from Great Taste) underline.

Must say I'm not sure that their Loganberry Jam features among the prize-winners but it is a beauty. I got mine at the Roughty in the English Market and Margo Ann told go home now and try that out and then tell me it's not “the real thing”. I never had a doubt. It is top notch and our Taste of the Week.

And here’s a tip to get even extra out of it. Use it with cheese, with sheeps cheese in particular. I had this in mind in the market and bought a wedge of Vincenzo’s Pecorino (made in Toonsbridge by an Italian). Serve that with a dash of the loganberry and you have an even better taste of the week. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Return of the Oyster Tavern. Les Bons Temps Rouler.

Return of the Oyster Tavern.

Les Bons Temps Rouler.

I look at some of the old black and white pics in the new Oyster Tavern and am transported back to my days in Winkle-pickers (shoes), Slim Jim (tie) and DA (hair). But that “good old days” reverie soon evaporated as the delicious dishes arrived on the table. Some terrific food here now, well cooked, and well served by one of the friendliest front-of-house teams around.

The history of a tavern on the site dates to 1800. The new two-storey building owes it current existence to the Capitol development. It is comfortable - there’s even a lift - and beautifully decorated. 

The food menu, from breakfast to dinner, is based mainly on ingredients from the adjacent English Market, and the drinks menu, again illustrated with some of those old black and whites, contains a good deal of Irish craft beer and local spirits. Our opening drinks were a mix: a Chieftain Ale from Franciscan Well and a Hemingway Daiquiri.

Fish Hot Pot

We were in for dinner and studied the menu, all on one large card. They happily fill you in on the specials and help with any questions. For starters, we could have had Scampi, Chowder, Soup of the Day. And oysters, of course. 
Steak!

My pick though was Tim’s Ham Hock (€6.00), served with Hassett's sourdough bread and West Cork Relish. The ham was packed into a jar. There was a lot of it there and it packed a lot of flavour as well. And that West Cork relish was a tasty bonus, really good.

Meanwhile, CL was thoroughly enjoying her Caprese Salad (7.50): Toonsbridge Mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and olive oil. This has become a local standard and was top notch.
There wouldn't have been a blogger in the old Oyster.

Quite a decent wine list here too and I ordered a glass of Finca Florencia Malbec (8.00) to go with my steak. This was my second Tom Durcan steak in quick succession and again it was very impressive, tender and with outstanding flavour. The 8 ounce fillet (29.00) was cooked to order, and came with straight cut chips, English Market seasonal vegetables, Roast Shallots in a red wine peppercorn sauce. The included veg by the way, mangetout, broccoli and cauliflower, were also cooked to pin-point perfection, which is not always the case.
Hemingway enjoyed his daiquiris in la Floridita in la Habana in Cuba.
 The Bodeguita del Medio is just down the street.  
Muchas gracias to Mark Deane(ex Mayfield) for the pic.

CL choose the fish special, a Prawn and Mussel Hot Pot with chorizo (18.00). No shortage of flavour there and a warming dish you might well see more of as the autumn comes in. Other main course choices included Tim O’Sullivan’s Black Pudding Burger, Oyster Haven Mussels, Chicken Inn’s Supreme of Chicken, Warm Chicken and Bacon Salad, and a Risotto. There was also a lamb burger special.
Upstairs at the spanking new full-colour Oyster Tavern. (Oyster pic).
After all that, we thought it best to share a dessert from the short yet tempting list. Sherry Trifle was probably top of the list when the old Oyster was in its heyday and that was our pick and we enjoyed sharing the Sherry soaked sponge, raspberry jam, custard topped with Chantilly cream and served with a shortbread biscuit. All for a fiver. You might well have paid close to that back in the day!

The main restaurant area is upstairs though they do serve lunch in the downstairs bar. We had started early and weren't around to see the transformation that takes place later in the night. Then the plates are cleared away, and we were told there is a generational change as well, as the live music - you might even see a saxophonist on the counter - takes over. Oh, those awful Rock and Rollers! (Note to myself: Must try that sometime).

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Old Butter Roads Food Trail Launch. Great Weekend of food and fun in Blarney.

The Old Butter Roads Food Trail Launch

Great Weekend of food and fun in Blarney
We are nothing without the producers - Chef Martina Cronin
Here are five of the best speaking in Blairs on Monday.
Clockwise from top left: Tim McCarthy, Justin Greene, Don O'Leary,
Rubert Atkinson and Pat Mulcahy.

The Old Butter Roads Food Trail is up and running following a sunny (mainly!) weekend launch in the Blarney area. The event was officially opened on Saturday in the Church of Ireland by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed.
Wild Boar at Square Table
There were butter making demos at the Butter Museum, talks at the Hydro Farm Allotments, a pony and trap delivery of churns (the symbol of the food trail) to participating businesses, an ecology walk and talk (by Tom O’Byrne) at Clogheen Milken, the Gab story-telling competition, a smoked produce demo in the Old Blarney Post Office Café, a showcase multi-course dinner in the Square Table, an open weekend at The Farm in Grenagh and a Monday demo, with food and cocktails, at Blairs Inn.


And it wasn’t just Blarney members that were involved. There were producers plus restaurant and café operators from all over the area involved, Duhallow, Muskerry and Avondhu, a serious (if fun-filled) statement of intent for the many events ahead over the rest of the year. Expect a gathering (with food for sure) at the Kerryman’s Table in Aubane, a Tapas style event in Mitchelstown, a Long Table feast by the Killavullen Farmers Market, and more.


Wagyu beef (left) and Angus rib-eye at Square Table
Current members:
Ballinwillin House www.ballinwillinhouse.com
Blair’s Inn www.blairsinn.com
Peppers at The White Deer www.peppersmallow.com
Blarney Castle Hotel www.blarneycastlehotel.com
Nibbles Millstreet www.nibbles.ie
The Square Table www.thesquaretable.ie
Castle Hotel Macroom www.castlehotel.ie
The Old Blarney Post Office Café www.blarneycafe.com
Thatch & Thyme www.thatchandthyme.com
Praline Mitchelstown www.praline.ie
O’Callaghan’s Restaurant www.ocallaghans.ie
Longueville House www.longuevillehouse.ie
O’Brien’s Free Range Eggs, 
Hydro Farm Allotments www.hydrofarmallotments.com
Osbourne Butchers www.blarneybutchers.com
9 White Deer Brewery www.9whitedeer.ie
Longueville House Beverages www.longuevillahouse.ie/artisan.html
Folláin www.follain.ie, 
Annabella Farm, 
Twomey’s Butchers www.mtwomeybutchers.ie
Killavullen Farmers Market www.killavullenfarmersmarket.weebly.com , McCarthy’s Butchers Kanturk www.jackmccarthy.ie
Hegarty’s Cheese, 
Toonsbridge Dairy www.therealoliveco.com
St Anne’s Shandon www.shandonbells.ie, 
Activity Days www.activitydays.ie, 
The Farm Grenagh www.visitthefarm.ie
Cork Butter Museum www.corkbutter.museum


List subject to change as new members join.
The Blairs, Duncan (left) and Richard trying one of his cocktails

Sunday night’s multi-course dinner in the Square Table perfectly illustrated the depth and range of produce available in the general North Cork area.

The opening selection of canapés: 
Lamb Tartare;
Toonsbridge ricotta, apple, hazelnut, beetroot;
Old MillBank smoked salmon rice paper roll, avocado, pickled ginger;
Macroom Buffalo mozzarella, basil pesto, tomato tapenade;
Carrigcleena Farm cured duck, beetroot chutney, confit ginger.

Then, from McCarthy’s Butchers in Kanturk, we had a Black Pudding Roll with house piccalilli and also Crispy Bacon with apple purée.

Next it was the turn of Michael Twomey's Butchers in Macroom: Wagyu beef burger with Hegarty’s Cheddar and house tomato chutney and also enjoyed their Agnus rib-eye with duck fat chip and O’Brien’s free range egg béarnaise.
Hake at the Square Table

Fish then had its turn and the Pan-fried hake (from K O’Connell’s), with Annabelle Farm spinach and mussel velouté was a splendid combination, another tasty testament to the produce and to the skill of Martina in the kitchen, as indeed was the whole meal.

Now we were on  to the Ballinwillin Wild Boar, braised and cured and served with caramelised potato gnocchi, aged Coolea cheese, Ballyhoura Mushrooms and wild garlic. Great stuff.

Dessert was McCarthy’s Natural Dairy’s Buttermilk, foamed, with rhubarb, confit ginger and speculous crumble. Hegarty’s Cheddar  and Toonsbridge smoked Scamorza featured on the cheese plate and the highlight here, as part of the week long tribute in Cork to Veronica Steel, was Milleens Cheese with fig jam. All washed down with a drop of apple brandy from Longueville House who earlier supplied a glass of their excellent cider.
Dessert at the Square Table

And the top class food and drink continued on Monday in the garden at Blair’s Inn where the brothers Richard and Duncan were the hosts, Richard coming up with some inventive cocktails (using everything from stout to apple brandy to gin) while Duncan did the cooking demos.

Longueville's Apple Brandy
went down well at Square Table
Highlight here were the passionate speeches from the producers. Don O’Leary of 9 White Deer Brewery, Justin Greene of Bertha’s Revenge Gin and Ballyvolane House, Timmy McCarthy of McCarthy’s Kanturk, Pat Mulcahy of Ballinwillin House, and Rupert Atkinson of Longueville House all spoke well of their own products, and of the other products of the area.

But there was no trumpet blowing at the expense of other areas. This was underlined, simply and with some wisdom, by Tim McCarthy. If you enjoy the brown bread in Mayo than that's the best in Ireland; if you enjoy the brown bread in Cork, then that's the best in Ireland. 

So enjoy the best of local, wherever you are. And if you are anywhere near the Old Butter Roads Food Trail these coming months, you will be eating, and drinking, very well indeed.
Cheese for two at Square Table
Get the latest on their Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/OldButterRoads/
on Twitter at @oldbutterroads
The Old Butter Road platter at Blairs

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.