Showing posts with label Velvet Cloud. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Velvet Cloud. Show all posts

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Cork Cheese Fair. Amazing New Cheeses.


Vincenzo

Cork Cheese Fair
Old Favourites; Superb New Cheeses
Part One: Italy’s Oldest Cheese, from Mid Cork

Many of you will know of Vincenzo, the Italian shepherd best known for his Pecorino which is on sale at the Toons Bridge Market stalls.That was his first cheese here in Ireland but he has quite a variety now including a stunning new one called Conciato Romano. 

While there were quite a few old favourites, such as the classic Coolea and the outstanding St Tola, showing at the weekend’s Cork Cheese Fair in Cork Airport, there were quite a few new or at least relatively new ones, including Vincenzo’s, Cashel Blue’s Organic version, the aromatic Italian Truffle Cheese from Carrigaline Farmhouse, Rockfield (a hard sheeps cheese from Velvet Cloud of Claremorris) and Hegarty’s Templegall. 

The Little Milk Company also had a beautiful Mild Organic Irish Cheddar. Jessica told me it is flying in Germany and Denmark and should be on the home market soon - so watch out for that!

The Conciato Romano is an ancient Italian cheese, indeed many believe it is the country’s oldest, and its production is being encouraged by the Italian Slow Food Foundation. 

Vincenzo’s is made from sheeps milk but goats or cows may also be used. After being pressed by hand the forms are cured and dressed with olive oil and vinegar and herbs before being packed in a sealed jar (or amphora) and matured. “It sells well in the markets,” he told me and, for the moment, you’ll probably have to travel to Skibbereen where he has a stall every Saturday to get it (and his other very interesting variations).

Always a fair bit of variety in the Carrigaline Cheese portfolio and now there’s a new one, an Italian Summer Truffle. “A small piece goes a long way,” says producer Padraig O’Farrell who is delighted with the way it has turned out. For the moment, you cannot buy it in the shops but watch out for it in restaurants (it is available to chefs via Pallas Foods). Reckon there will be some beautifully aromatic dishes created using this one! 

Aisling and Michael (above), the duo behind Mayo’s Velvet Cloud, have become well-known because of their yogurts but now their Rockfield cheese is getting very popular as we found out during the Cheese Dinner that preceded the fair. 

It is creamy and buttery in the mouth with slightly sweet and nutty undertones. The cream coloured interior of this cheese becomes firmer and darker as the maturing period is extended and the flavour becomes nuttier. Supply of this lovely new product is fairly limited this year and Cork buyers can find it in On the Pigs Back. Should be more of it available next year and probably more stockists as well.

Hegarty’s Templegall comes in a big wheel and is a gorgeous delicious Comté style cheese. Dan Hegarty and Jean-Baptise Enjelvin (from Bordeaux but very much enjoying the “craic” in Cork) are rightly proud of this magnificent effort from the Hegarty’s Whitechurch farm. 
Hegarty's cheddar (top) and
new Comté style cheese

It has been earning plaudits for the past few months. It is available in cheese shops such as On the Pigs Back and you’ll also come across it in restaurants. And don’t forget that Hegarty's are famous for their cheddars.

Cashel Blue is also very famous and their newish Cashel Blue organic is a another gem. “More mature than the original,” PJ Ryan told me on Saturday. “More of a hit to it but the same creaminess.” You can get this in cheese shops, including Iago. 

Also tasted their lesser known Shepherd’s Store, a traditional, European style semi-hard cheese. As a seasonal product, it is made only between the months of February and September, and is aged for a minimum of six months. Try it out at On the Pigs Back.

See Also: The Cork Cheese Dinner
Cork Cheese Week Part 2

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Cork Cheese Dinner. Amazing Variety of Irish Cheese.


Cork Cheese Dinner
Amazing Variety of Irish Cheese.
Carrigaline's Padraig O'Farrell (left) and Coolea's Helene Willems
with yours truly at last night's dinner in Cork Airport Hotel

We are used to the cheese course at the end of the meal. But this one came at the end of a meal in Olivo, the restaurant at the Cork Airport Hotel, the host venue for the inaugural Cork Cheese Week, a meal in which all the previous four courses had been based on cheese. Were we stuffed? No. Our four local chefs got the quality and the quantity just right and we enjoyed a delightful meal that brilliantly illustrated the variety of texture and flavour available in Irish cheese today.

Delighted too to share this meal with Helene Willems. Helene with her husband Dicky were among the pioneering Irish cheesemakers, setting up in Coolea about 40 years ago. Now the second generation carry on the business at the same high standard, leaving Helene and Dicky plenty of time to enjoy life on the road in their beloved camper-van! 

Stracciatella

Appropriate that Helene was with us at the Gouda table! As was another superb Cork cheesemaker Padraig O’Farrell of Carrigaline Farmhouse whose mother and father started their cheese-making business over 30 years ago.

The innovative Toons Bridge Dairy featured in our Amuse Bouche, a delicious Stracciatella with picked cherries and candied walnuts by Fran Jara who has just completed a six month course at the famous Basque Culinary Centre in San Sebastian, “well worth every cent,” she told me as we sipped some lovely bubbles as the guests gathered.
Soufflé

Quite a few were associating cheese meals and heaviness but the opposite was the case with our lovely starter by Kate Lawlor, a soft and delicious Twice Baked Bluebell Falls goats cheese soufflé with a Hegarty’s Cheddar glaze with beetroot carpaccio. 

Pam Kelly’s main course was naturally more substantial, quite a tour de force actually. The Gubbeen pork was the star of the plate of course which also featured Coolea and Rockfield (sheep) cheeses with an excellent apple and parsnip sauce.

Our chefs were rocking it and the dance continued with a flower bedecked dessert from pastry ace Christine Girault, now dividing her time between Cork and Paris. Her “tarte aux fruits” looked well and tasted even better.

Pork

By now, the generous servings of wine were being replaced by coffee though not before we sampled the cheese board with Coolea, Cashel Blue, Carrigaline, Hegarty’s Smoked Cheddar and Gubbeen all featuring. And the hotel continued to spoil us with a selection of petit fours! Quite a night ahead of two working days for the cheese makers as they were due to meet the punters for tastings and workshops on today Saturday and Sunday, starting at 11.00am each day. Details here.

The Cheese Week at Airport Hotel
Part One, mainly new cheeses
Part Two, mainly the classics









Thursday, August 9, 2018

A Magical New Menu at the Maryborough. Dinner at Bellini’s is a Top Local Treat

Dinner at Bellini’s is a Top Local Treat
A Magical New Menu at the Maryborough
Cod

Bellini’s, the classy comfortable restaurant at the Maryborough Hotel, may be a little bit out of town but the short hop has been worth it in recent years and even more so now that Head Chef Gemma Murphy has introduced a splendid new menu.

We were there the other night and the biggest problem was trying to decide between the many tempting dishes. There are no less than eight starters for instance and ingredients used include Ballinwillin Boar Salami, Heirloom Tomatoes, Baba Ganoush, Confit Pork Belly, Dill and Albarino Cream and Velvet Cloud Sheep’s Yogurt.
Carrots

Finally, we settled on a couple and CL beat me to the Grilled Mackerel, Red Pepper, Baba Ganoush, Feuille De Brick, Coriander Oil (€10.95). “Lovely,” she said. “Different. The pepper, the baba ganoush. Lots of different flavours but all combining, nothing dominating.”
Mackerel

Having enjoyed carrots with buttermilk some time back in Paradiso, I thought the smoothly delicious Velvet Cloud Sheep’s Yogurt (from County Mayo) would go well with the carrots so that was one reason I went for the Warm Irish Carrot Salad with Charred Baby Gem, Velvet Cloud Sheep’s Yoghurt, Sesame, Lime and Honey Dressing (€8.50). The combination was sublime and those carrots with that dressing were so incredibly sweet. 

And that harmonious high continued with my beautiful main course:  Miso and Ginger Marinated Cod, Wakame Seaweed, Compressed Cucumber, Irish Shiitake Mushroom, Shiso Gel, Dashi Broth (€26.00). A marriage made in culinary heaven. The freshness of the fish, the clean flavours of the broth and the vegetables, the precision of the whole dish were amazing, nothing else needed.

Trout

And CL was also well satisfied with the Fillet of Irish Trout, Brown Butter Shrimp, Shaved Fennel, Pepper, Caperberries, Local Gubbeen Chorizo Bisque (€26.50). The fish itself was excellent and the accompaniments all played a part, especially the Chorizo bisque which was nicely judged, not strong enough as to dominate but strong enough to support.

Desserts often disappoint, often because they are the same old suspects. Not here though. Mine was the White Chocolate Mousse, Blackberry and Gin Gel, Macerated Blackberries (€7.95). A generous topping of that gel led to the delicious chocolate underneath, all served in a large glass. Excellent, very satisfying finalé for me. And CL was more than pleased with her Tropical Delice, Mango Sorbet, Toasted Coconut (€7.95).
White chocolate mousse

What a chef! Gemma has been doing this here for quite a while now but rarely pops up in short lists of the top Cork chefs. She’s certainly on mine, as is Bellini’s and their courteous, informative and efficient staff.

No shortage of drinks, including cocktails, here as the bar adjoins the restaurant. Quite a wine list too. I enjoyed a glass of Swallows Tail Sauvignon Blanc/Chenin from South Africa with the cod while the more aromatic Hooded Plover Semillon Chardonnay, from Australia, went very well with the trout. Think I got those pairings right! Gemma and her crew did everything else to make it a memorable meal.

Tropical Delice






Bellini's at The Maryborough Hotel
Maryborough Hill, Douglas, Cork, Ireland, T12XR12.
Tel +353 21 436 5555
Email: info@maryborough.ie







Sunday, October 15, 2017

Blasket Lamb Buzz at Market Lane. Also at ORSO, Castle Cafe and Elbow Lane

Blasket Lamb Buzz at Market Lane. 
Also at ORSO, Castle Cafe and Elbow Lane



There’s always a buzz when Market Lane announces that its annual allocation of tasty Blasket Lamb has arrived! Well in case you haven’t heard, now is the time for 2017. Just a short window during which you may get it at Market Lane and its associated restaurants: ORSO, Castle Café and Elbow Lane.


Grabbed an opportunity to taste it last week, had it in both starter and mains, and enjoyed every little bit. The Oliver Plunkett Street venue was indeed buzzing as we arrived to a warm welcome and lots of info on the lamb. We had no other interest on the night, well dessert maybe, so that made it easy for our enthusiastic and well-informed server.
Starter

Time perhaps for a bit of background.
This story begins with small holder, Donnacha O Ceileachair, who raises a small flock of sheep on the Great Blasket Island. When the April-born lambs are ready, he brings them by ferry from the Island onto the mainland. Award-winning Dingle Butcher, Jerry Kennedy, selects out the premium meat for the Market Lane Group.

“The impeccable provenance of this product is reflected in its quality and flavour; we are proud to be the only restaurants in Ireland to serve it to our customers. This truly is a farm to fork experience with everybody in the supply chain really respectful and excited about the product.” – Pamela Kelly, Head Chef, Market Lane. And we met Pam on the night and delighted to be able to congratulate her  and her team on a job well done!

The starter was Spiced Blasket Lamb croquette with Velvet Cloud sheep’s yogurt, crispy mint and pomegranate. All the ingredients, including the mild spice, the chickpeas in the croquette, the smooth cooling yogurt from Mayo, each played a role in a lovely plateful.

Server Yuliyan was coming up with some excellent drink matches but we were keen to renew  acquaintance with their own Elbow Lane beers and so he recommended the Wisdom Amber Ale with the starter. He was spot-on with that as he was when suggesting the sharper Elbow lager would do well with the mains.
Dessert!

And, if the starter was five star, then the mains was all of that but even more outstanding, hors catégorie as they say in the cycling world. I’ll give you the full description: Blasket Lamb Rack and pressed lamb belly with fondant root veggies, Elbow beer vinaigrette, and buttermilk mash. This was a duo of lamb to remember, tender and tasty, perfectly cooked and served.

Would we like dessert? Well, we’ll look. Yuliyan recommended the Marmalade and vanilla bread and butter pudding. “The massive one?”, I asked (having had previous). He confirmed with a smile. We decided to share and loved it.


It is just one of about a dozen desserts here. Lots of starters too and the same applies to the mains; here you’ll see the names of local suppliers such as Coolea, Goatsbridge, St Tola, Ballinwillin, Tom Durcan, and Toonsbridge. But, at present, the Blasket Lamb is the star of the show. You’ll need to get in soon as the limited supply won't last for very long!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Game Time at the Square Table. Cronin Sisters in Top Form

Game Time at the Square Table
Cronin Sisters in Top Form
Visited Blarney’s Square Table during the week and delighted to see venison on the menu - it is that time of year! And it would be hard to get a better dish than that served up by Chef Martina Cronin. 

The full description was Roast Loin of Venison (braised venison, parsnip purée, chestnut, smoked bacon, Brussels sprouts). The meat was tender and delicious and the vegetables and jus were also brilliant. Not to mention the sides, especially that creamy puréed turnip. Cost €26.95.
Sisters, Chef Martina (left) and Tricia

It is a small restaurant but one with a big heart and they manage to pack so many good things into a short menu list. We were warmly greeted by Tricia, Martina's sister, and she soon had us seated and studying the menus. And she also took us through the specials which was where the venison popped up.

CL started with a special. The sisters support local producers and the salad special was based on leaves from Annabella’s Farm: the leaves came with roasted and pickled carrots,  artichoke, chervil root, butternut squash, pickled Ballyhoura mushrooms, Crozier Blue cheese and Velvet Cloud yogurt (8.95). Quite a combination and a delicious one.

Crispy egg, Ballyhoura mushroom, smoked bacon and Hollandaise sauce (€8.95) all featured in my excellent starter. 

On then to my venison while CL picked the fish dish: Pan-fried fresh Hake, Jerusalem artichoke and mussel velouté, Gubbeen Chorizo (22.50). The fish was perfect and the chorizo added an extra and very tasty dimension. Superb.

They have quite a good, if shortish, list of wines here, ranging from €22.95 for the house wines to over 40 in the whites and reds. Some tempting Albarinos and Rieslings along with an organic Tempranillo and a Croze Hermitage caught the eye. 

But, with another call to be made later on, we confined ourselves to a glass each of the house. I very much enjoyed my Domaine de Bosquet (France) blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc while CL was more than content with the Valle Andino Chardonnay from Chile. 

If you want to get an excellent idea of the top class food on offer here, why not try their Early Bird menu where you can get two courses for €24.95, three for €28.95.

* The Cronins support local and number Annabella Farm, Ballyhoura Mushrooms, Tom Durcan, Old Millbank, O'Connell's Fish, Ardsallagh Goats, The English Market, Gubbeen, Michael Twomey Butchers, East Ferry Free Range, Carrigcleena Poultry Farm, Hegarty's Cheddar, McCarthy's of Kanturk, Coolea Cheese, Macroom Mills, and more, among their suppliers.

The Square Table
5 The Square
Blarney
County Cork
Tel: (021) 438 2825
Twitter: @TheSquareTable5
Hours
Wed & Thurs: 6.00-9.00pm
Fri & Sat: 6.00-10.00pm
Sun: 12.30-4.30pm