Showing posts with label Tuscany Bistro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tuscany Bistro. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week
It has been a good week at the table but pride of place goes to this magnificent Beef and Potato Pie from West Cork Pies in Schull. A hungry three man jury gave this flavour packed pastry a unanimous thumbs up! They also produce Pork Pies, Steak and Kidney Pies and Scotch Eggs. They say: What you’ll get from me are good quality, very tasty, products full of substantial ingredients not just cheap gravy and the odd lump of something indistinguishable. Glad to agree. The pies are available at various outlets in West Cork, in various pubs around the city (check the link above) and also at the Fresh from West Cork stall in the English Market.

The verdict may have been unanimous but it was very close. Other top class contenders this week included the award winning Steak Rub from the Cornstore, the fantastic Amodeo salad dressing from Tuscany Bistro and also the gorgeous Wild Smoked Salmon Butter by Woodcock Smokery (Sally Barnes).

Friday, February 7, 2014

Tuscany Bistro. Superbo. Splendido. Eccellente

Tuscany Bistro. Superbo. Splendido. Eccellente
Rossa
 Tuscany Bistro. So good, they opened a second one. The first is found in Castletroy (Limerick), the second in nearby Ballina (Tipperary) and you’ll find Sabrina Amodeo in both (not at the same time!) keeping an eye on things and helping her wonderful staff deliver an authentic Italian dining experience. And they do, night after night.

We were in Ballina, a lovely spot on the Shannon, opposite Killaloe on the Clare bank, at the weekend and ate twice in Tuscany. Before we attended the Pride of Ireland Awards there on Sunday night, we just about managed to get an early reservation on the Saturday. Got soaked on the short walk back to the hotel after the meal but it was worth it.

There Is a high level of comfort and space here and it is very well decorated, the splendid hanging lamp shades a highlight for me. Service, including the welcome, was excellent with menus, including a page of specials, and water on the table as we sat down.


Verde
The specials included an Asparagus bundle with Serrano and Roasted Breast of Barbary Duck and were very tempting but we did choose from the regular menu.

I picked the Bruschetta Verde  (V) Toasted Italian bread topped with grilled courgettes, aubergines and roast peppers, drizzled with Amodeo Salad Dressing while CL had the Bruschetta Rossa (V) Toasted Italian bread topped with freshly and finely chopped tomatoes and red onion with garlic and olive oil.

We were able to swap full pieces here and agreed that both were top notch. And you'd have to say that the accompanying salad too was  an integral part of the dish, their balsamic reduction divine.


Pollo Alla Cacciatora
On then to the mains. I have a fondness for Cannelloni and was very happy as my Cannelloni Spinach and ricotta filling in a rich tomato sauce arrived on the table. This was superb and the superlative includes the lovely sauce. In no time at all, I had polished off the three tubes.

CL has a liking for the hunter’s dish of chicken and mushrooms but was in for a surprise here as the Tuscany version was different from what other local Italian restaurants do. Tuscany’s Pollo Alla Cacciatora (N) Penne is served with a mouth watering tomato based sauce with onions, diced chicken breast, mushrooms, garlic, herbs, white wine and a splash of brandy finished with fresh pesto. Better than all the rest!


A very happy meal here but no room for dessert, though we would make up for that on the following night. So top marks to the Tuscany for the food, the service and the ambience. And I'm told that the Castletroy bistro, which has been going strong for over ten years, is every bit as good and also well supported. Keep them in mind if you're up that way but do book in advance, especially at weekends!

Related posts: Lovely stay at Lakeside Hotel on the Shannon River
Pride of Ireland Awards 2013-2014



Thursday, February 6, 2014

Lovely stay at Lakeside Hotel on the Shannon River


Lovely stay at Lakeside Hotel on the Shannon River
Lough Derg
Spent a two very enjoyable days in Ballina, County Tipperary, last weekend, staying at the Lakeside Hotel, a lovely hotel on a little rise on the east side of the bridge that connects Ballina with Killaloe, its Clare “cousin”. Many people don't realise there is a Ballina here at all but it is  lovely riverside place in a very central location and is a great gathering point for boats and indeed there are cruises available on the Shannon and into nearby Lough Derg.

Was never quite sure whether I was in Tipp or Clare. Some places, you read the hotel is in Tipperary, some places they say it is in Clare and then you also see the address is given as Killaloe/Ballina! Maybe they are playing it safe as the flags outside the hotel - they were blowing stiffly last weekend - include both the Tipperary and Clare county flags and even Saturday night’s entertainer said he had to be careful where his feet were when making remarks that might favour one county over the other!
The ducks win this race for food!

That Saturday night session was one of the highlights. We had just enjoyed a lovely meal at the nearby Tuscany Bistro in Ballina and were settling into the hotel bar (where they have a full menu with lots of local producers featured) when the tall lanky singer with a great line of patter arrived on the scene.


His audience, including two couples from Thurles celebrating their 40th anniversary with friends, were all in good form and the singer enhanced the mood with standards from Bob Dylan to Christy Moore, popular songs such as simple 60s pop to The Fields of Athenry. And all the time, I was sipping away at some excellent Red Ale by O’Hara’s, a warm fire nearby.


Ballycuggeran Beach

We don't get a  chance to eat in the hotel’s restaurant, except for breakfast on each morning. Breakfast was totally buffet on the  busy Sunday morning but we were well catered for. Lots of juices and cereals and no shortage either of hot stuff (you could help yourself to the full Irish or any abbreviated version you wanted). Some nice breads and pastries also available. Not too many people there on Monday morning and instead of the hot buffet you were able to order. Either way, it was excellent.


Our room was very spacious and comfortable, all mod cons including TV, hairdryer and Tea/coffee and we had a very comfortable sofa to sit on. The bathroom (bath and shower) was large and very well equipped and no shortage of toiletries.


Rossmore on Lough Derg

They have a lovely garden out front but we weren't sitting there on this occasion. But we did take the walk down to the river. Sunday morning was better and brighter and we drove up the western side of Lough Derg. Ballycuggeran Beach, one of a few if not the only Blue Flag freshwater beach in the country, was our first stop and a pleasant one, even if some of the paths were flooded.


On then through places like Whitegate, Mountshannon, Ogonnelloe and into An Cuas in Galway heading for a viewpoint at Rossmore. Had to negotiate a flood or two (nothing serious) and the view was worth it even if the water in the large lake was lively and quite high. Retraced our steps to Killaloe, arriving a little too late to benefit from the Farmers Market, held between the waters, but in time to see Ireland v Scotland. Later in the evening, we were back at the Tuscany Bistro for the presentation of the Pride of Ireland Awards.


Lakeside Hotel

The weather may not have been at its best but we had a most enjoyable couple of days at our base in the Lakeside where the staff were friendly and very helpful. A day or two after coming home, we got an email offering us 20 per cent off on the next visit,. Nice, and one to be seriously considered. This is a lovely part of Ireland and deserves to be much better known.


Derelict in Disguise. Nice paint job in Ballina.
Related posts:
Pride of Ireland Awards 2013-2014

Tuscany Bistro. Superbo. Splendido. Eccellente





Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pride of Ireland Awards 2013-2014


Pride of Ireland Awards 2013-2014
The inaugural Pride of Ireland Awards were held in Ballina, County Tipperary, on Sunday night, in a lovely well attended function hosted by the marvellous Sabrina Amodeo in her popular restaurant, the Tuscany Bistro.

We had a warm welcome and all the winners were in top form as we tucked into some gorgeous food.  And I can tell you the desserts got some mauling!

I had the honour of compering for the presentation of the awards. And not alone that but I was also presented with one of the awards myself for highlighting the work of local artisans, markets and restaurants. And it was a double for the blogosphere as Fiona Dillon of Carlow’s Hunter's Lodge was another winner.


But mainly it was about the producers, the craftspeople, the local shops and restaurants. As you may know, my motto on this site is Buy Local, Fresh and Fair and it is the winners listed below that make it all possible. They deserve our support. Keep an eye out for them when buying in 2014!
The folks from Bunratty Mead (left) and O'Leary's Charlville arrive.
Thomas Adlum Woodturning from Templemore
Category winner for woodturning
Producing one of a kind pieces from Irish Timber, Thomas Adlum is
based in Templemore. Self taught, but working with wood is in the family as his Dad was a carpenter. Thomas says his preference is to work with unusual woods that have been attacked by fungus, rot, wind, and often chainsaws! Thomas loves teaching and runs courses, ranging from 8 weeks to one day.

Thomas also won a Sharing the Passion Award for his work in the community; he opens his workshop to work with children and adults who have gone through some hardships and finds, that when they are there, the focus totally changes and the moods lighten.

Tuscany Bistro Ballina, Sabrina AmadeoOur next winner is a very local restaurant who use local producers and local staff and add an Italian twist. In Ballina’s Tuscany Bistro, and indeed also in Castletroy (where they have been well supported for over 10 years), you’ll find a simple perfection. Whether you want a romantic dinner, a business lunch, or a family treat, you’ll be glad you picked Tuscany. Both the Ballina and Castletroy Tuscany’s picked up awards on the night.

Shirley Kingston-Bandon Farmers MarketShirley has been working  as the controller for Bandon Market for 8 years. She is passionate about  fresh produce and local artisan producers. I have been to this market a few times and I can see easily see why Bandon people are  so proud of it. Might not be the biggest but no shortage of quality there for sure and it is a very friendly space indeed.
Shirley Kingston receives her award from Tom, with Yours Truly.
Irish Bee Sensations
Category Winners for Artisan Jams Marmalades & Honey
I first came across Bee Sensations
at the Doneraile Farmers Market and was amazed with the quality and uniqueness of their products. As you probably know, they use their home produced honey instead of sugar in their jams. But, being an innovative couple, Tom and Croéin didn't stop at that so now you can get beautiful jams such as Strawberry and Champagne. And in time for Christmas, they came out with yet another sweet winner, Amarena Cherries with Potcheen.


The Irish Fairy Door Company
Shifted some furniture recently and was left with an small ugly patch where the skirting board was damaged. I think I've found my solution right here! The Irish Fair Door Company are bringing the magic and the fairies back to Irish homes and gardens. Relocating fairies is their motto and so if you have wee space in a room, in the garden wall, maybe at the base of a tree, why not install a fairy door - sure to delight the kids, the grandchildren and the little people.

The big hearted people that help the little people relocate, and make us all smile while they do so, also won a Helping Hands Award for their work in the community.

An Olivia Chocolate

Mullingar based Olivia has gone from making hurling sticks with her dad to creating award winning An Olivia Chocolates. Must admit I only came across her gorgeous products in Dingle this year where she was named the supreme champion at the October Blas Awards. The chocolates are a real pleasure and of course Olivia always incorporates local products.
Award winners Sabrina and Michael of Tuscany Bistro
Meirleach Chroi
Overall winner Celtic Artist
This is our youngest winner who does incredible pencil art and Pride of Ireland feel she is a force to be reckoned with. We’ll use her own words to explain: “
You know when you are a little kid and you just discover the magic of pencils & you just want to draw on everything & anything?...I am still at that stage of my life.(at 20 yrs old!!!). "Meirleach Chroi" means "A Bandits Heart" the Bandit being my big softie of a horse.”

This family forage together and create local  artisan products from their own home. THey enjoyed a great year in 2013 and now 2014 is starting well for them. You’ll find their unique products at markets across the country. Their foods are made from foraged wild berries,flowers,herbs & crabapples picked on the family farm in Co.Offaly. All the products are made by hand in small batches and include
Rosehip Syrup Concentrate)
Elderberry Syrup Concentrate
Gorse Flower Syrup Concentrate
Spring Nettle Syrup Concentrate
Hawthornberry Syrup (Mans Tea)
Hawthornberry & Ginger Syrup Concentrate (Strong Woman Tonic)

Billy LyonsSpecial Appreciation Award. Check me out here.

O’Leary’s Bar CharlevilleKeeping It Irish
O’Leary’s Bar is a landmark in Charleville Co. Cork, run by a marvellous couple. It still boasts the same  old time value  and service that is often sadly missing in bigger slicker pubs nowadays
Thomas Adlum (centre).
Bean & Gone Overall winner Teas & Coffee
From their mobile unit, Bean and Gone
are well known to market stall holders in Cork and beyond. Indeed many a stall holder and customer has been delighted to see them set up as they are known to have great tasting teas and coffees for all. Indeed, they can turn up anywhere from local car boot sales to large sports events, so keep them in mind if you are organising an event.

Seanchai ListowelTraditional Irish Foods
Seanchai
, in the museum in Listowel, consistently provides good old fashioned Irish food daily; staff are friendly and lovely to deal with. All the food is sourced locally and you can combine a meal here with a visit to the museum where local writers such as John B Keane and Bryan McMahon are honoured.

Bradleys Off-LicenceA family business since 1850, Bradley's is somewhat of a Cork institution, currently run by the 4th generation in the person of Michael Creedon. They pride ourselves on a personal, friendly service. They also pride themselves on selling the best of Irish, as many artisans  find shelf space here. And if you want an Irish craft beer, then Bradley’s is the place to go! And if you can't make it in person then check them out online.

Finns' Table restaurant
A lovely well run restaurant  in Kinsale County Cork. Up to 2012, John and Julie Finn were running a highly successful restaurant called Dillon’s in Timoleague and seemed set for a long stay. But, through no fault of their own, they had to leave. Soon though they bounced back and early last year started Finns' Table in Kinsale. Serving the very best of local produce, the couple haven't looked back since.


Producing a range of fresh fruit drinks  including their award winning apple juice, this company is well known for being there for any good cause in their community. They are also well known for top notch quality and, under the driving and innovative force that is Maurice Gilbert, have won a string of awards including a few at Blas.

A lovely experience for morning coffee and lunch and situated in the stunning Doneraile Park. Quality is good and prices are reasonable and you have the added bonus of dining in the old kitchen of the big house. A very pleasant place indeed and just yards from the main street in Doneraile.  
Winner: Fiona Dillon.
The Farmers Market in Doneraile Park, held twice  a month or thereabouts during the summer, (check their facebook page for exact dates) is well situated in the courtyard of the big house. The market features the best of local produce, including home made jams, chutneys and relishes, smoked salmon, farm apple juice, cheese, bread and scones, delicious cakes and buns as well as a range of arts and crafts from the local area. And, of course, the Tea Rooms alongside. And if you eat too much cake, you can walk it off as you have hundreds of acres in front of you with pleasant riverside paths and herds of curious deer along the way.

Overall winner in craftsmanship & Irish gifts, this family run business creates lovely personalised gifts from Irish Oak. Very unusual items, everything from a feeding bowl for the pet to candleholders to a personalised garden seat. Well worth checking out!
The Cake Fairy Cork
Overall winners.
Joanne, Cork’s own Cake Fairy
, along with her mom,  are our overall winners  for outstanding breads and cakes. In fact, Mam’s brown bread  is some of the best in Ireland. Joanne creates all her products from scratch and has a  wide range of specialty cakes in her range. The Cake Fairy picked up a second award as they were also deemed the Champion Bakers, “streets ahead” according to the judges.

Bakers supreme: Joanne and her Mum.
Fiona Dillon
Blogger, author, and all round supporter of all things artisan and Irish, Fiona Dillon gets this award for all the hard work she does  in her efforts to draw attention to all the wonderful Artisans who work so hard at keeping it Irish.  


Keeping it as Irish as it comes,  this company has been working for over thirty years making one of the best things to ever come out of Ireland  and certainly one of the oldest products…Potcheen, once known as moonshine or, as the song said, the good old mountain dew.

Longueville House is well known for setting a hugh standard and that continues with their Irish Apple Brandy made in their own distillery from their own apple and aged in French oak barrels. Rich and smooth and delightful and a formidable rival for the Calvados of Normandy and a deserving winner.

Irish Bee Sensations Grand Champions
Tom and Cro
éin were the overall winners “not only because of the quality and uniqueness of their products but also because they are most certainly true artisans and produce a delicious range of honey based products from their own honey. They are master beekeepers for 30 years plus. They also tirelessly promote and encourage other artisans  We have been really impressed with their efforts and the pride they take in keeping things Irish”. And so say all of us.

Some of the dishes that we enjoyed at Tuscany
at the awards night. A lovely meal.



Related Posts

Tuscany Bistro. Superbo. Splendido. Eccellente




Blas na hEireann update on Bee Sensations July 2015 here






Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week
Bee Sensations  have been surprising many with their gorgeous products in recent times and came up with yet another winner just before Christmas and this was their "Amerena Cherries in Irish Honey and Potcheen", our Taste of the Week.

Just like their lovely jams (Honeyed strawberry with champagne and passion fruit is one of my favourites), honey has replaced the sugar and there are no artificial preservatives used.
Jars of this gorgeous treat are available in Bradley’s, North Main Street in Cork. Restaurants, such as Limerick's Tuscany Bistro, also use Bee Sensations products.

If you are in a hurry, you may take this straight from the jar! Our picture above shows it poured over ice-cream and it can also be poured over things, think I read somewhere that someone used it with the Christmas pudding. Bee Sensations themselves (Croén and Tom) suggest using a few of the cherries in champagne or brandy as a toast. Now what will I toast next?

Blas na hEireann update on Bee Sensations July 2015 here