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A new entrant has arrived in Washington Street, moving comfortably into the Premier League of the Burger. The early hamburger had typical ingredients of bread, vegetables, and ground meat. It is gone well beyond that now and the West Cork Burger Company, who opened in October, are elevating its status even further.
A hamburger, beefburger or burger is a sandwich consisting of one or more cooked patties of ground meat, usually beef, placed inside a sliced bread roll or bun. The patty may be pan fried, barbecued, or flame broiled. Hamburgers are often served with cheese, lettuce, tomato, bacon, onion, pickles, or chiles; condiments such as mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, or "special sauce"; and are frequently placed on sesame seed buns. A hamburger topped with cheese is called a cheeseburger. (from Wikipedia)
Last year’s Cork Burger Fest and last week's nationwide event and the competition involved have challenged burger outlets to come up with something a little different. Probably a little early to look closely at this year but last year, with food outlets and butchers joining in the spirit, certainly led to a a lot of innovation locally before Son of a Bun were declared the winner.
And innovation leads me neatly back to Washington Street where co-owner Henry Hegarty proudly introduced me to his line-up last week. No less than five burgers. Henry is planning a new menu in about six week’s time and it will be interesting to see which of the five is selected.
The early favourite, it was ahead on Wednesday, is the Reb-Elvis. “This burger comes with a serious health warning”, Henry said just as we started eating. Keep your finger on speed dial to the emergency department. This burger finished the King and it may just get the better of you too! We teamed up with our friends at Rebel Chilli to create this monster of a burger. We call it, The Reb Elvis! A 6oz patty, peanut butter, raspberry and jalapeno jelly, smoked streaky bacon, Irish cheddar, bacon and fig jam, gherkins and pickled chilli's. Long live the King!
I read the detail, and kept eating. What an amazing feast for a tenner! The jelly, the jam, the heat and, of course, the meat. And the bun, soaking up the juicy bits and the flavours, wasn't half-bad either.
All local. And, for the Festival Week, sides were included.My pick, should probably say my kick, was the Kimchi. Spot on. Shared that with CL, and got a bunch of their tasty fries in return. And I also stole some of her pickled Shiitake mushrooms.
My burger was great but we both agreed that hers probably shaded our mini-contest. And we are hoping that it will feature in the new menu. It is the Smoked Shin of Beef Burger: 6oz Patty, black garlic aioli from their friends at West Cork Garlic (great the way they support local producers), smoked chilli jam, sun dried tomato and those pickled shiitake mushrooms. Cheese too of course. This one scored big, well worth its place in the Premier League!
There is a interesting strand in the backstory here. When Henry was a young fellow (he’s not really that old yet!) and travelling with his father they often stopped here in this premises in 6 Washington Street - for a meal. It was then known as the Delphi Palace and the new operators acknowledged that with another of their Festival Five, the Delphi Palace Burger: 6 oz lamb patty, spice rub, black garlic aioli, green chilli, aubergine pickle, rocket and spinach raita.
Also featured was the Chicken Avo Burger - Marinated chicken breast, avocado, tomato, bacon & fig jam, sun dried tomato pesto, cos lettuce & garlic mayo. Back to the east for the fifth burger, the Pork Banh Mi: 6 ounce patty, Vietnamese dipping sauce, carrot and Daikon pickle, cucumber pickle, pickled chillis, coriander, mayo.
From the outset of the rebranded FEAST, Saturday had been billed as The Main Event. And the crowds of people up and down Midleton’s Main Street and side streets and in the Farmer’s Market, demonstrated just that. And, once again, the weather played its part, the odd shower no deterrent at all to those strolling and snacking, and those eating a tad more seriously at the long outdoor table opposite the Restaurant Tent where some eleven restaurants were selling delicious small plates at a fiver each.
But is wasn't just the restaurants. Lots of other food (Green Saffron were busy, as always) available as well under the mainly blue sky. Great too to see the local butchers, including Jim Crowley and Frank Murphy, on the street, bakers too and coffee makers. No shortage of sweet stuff as you made your way between the various hot-spots.
The Granary Crew
The Demo Marquee was a magnet as Bertha’s Revenge Gin, Patrick Ryan’s sourdough, and various chefs, including Ciaran Scully, Lilly Higgins, Kevin Aherne and Martin Shanahan kept the punters entertained. Down in the Distillery, you could enjoy a premium whiskey tasting and Carol Quinn’s talk on thehistory of whiskey here for a tenner.
Opposite the restaurant area was where the long table was situated and just beyond there was a packed children's zone with music shows, puppet shows, and amusements. The siting of the table and the amusement space close together was great for parents and I saw more than a few taking turns at the table and then relieving the partner on child duty!
The regular Farmer’s Market was also buzzing. Maybe one day, all will be accommodated on Main Street but on Saturday the traders were doing well. Had a friendly word with the Lobsterman who I’d met in Rostellan the evening before. Baker Declan Ryan was, as ever, on duty at Arbutus stall while Noreen Conroy was as busy and as friendly as ever at Woodside Farm. Nearby, at the Courthouse, the friendly GIY folk were dishing out advice on what to grown, how to grow it and when.
Monkfish, chorizo, flatbread by Samphire (at Garryvoe Hotel)
Back on Main Street, it was hard to make choices. Would have been a gargantuan feat to sample something from all eleven restaurants! And that would leave out all the others. Tough. I had heard on the Twitter that Farmgate’s Chowder was a thing of splendour but by then I had had my fill.
One of the highlights was the Monkfish and chorizo flatbread served by head chef Kevin at the Samphire (Garryvoe Hotel) stand. The crab beignet by Pier 26 went down well. Jack and his team at the Granary Cafe stand were busy and their massive baked Rooster (with Ballinrostig nettle andcream cheese and Gubbeen chorizo) was quite a treat and I also got a few pastries here to bring home.
Indeed, that bag for home filled rapidly. Included were the Mango, Peach and habanero chutney a new product from the Rebel Chilli lads, some garlic (including Avram, Lautrec, and Pink Marble) from West Cork Garlic, a bag of Honduran coffee beans fromBadger & Dodo and 30-day aged beef from Woodside. Happy out, as we headed west from F-EAST! Here’s to next year.
Great to meet up with Axel and Marye Miret, the people who run West Cork Garlic, at their stall in the Kinsale Farmers Market last Wednesday. They were excited at a recent successful crop but even more excited about next year when thousands and thousands of bulbs will be planted
While they are relatively new to the commercial side of garlic growing, they have for many years been growing garlic successfully in their kitchen garden and soon became as the “Garlic People”. Now their garlic is used in some restaurants and for sale in shops such as URRU in Bandon and in On The Pig’s Back in Douglas. They also sell some handy garlic tools at their market stall and, if you want to sample the garlic itself in the city centre, check it out at Bradley’s, North Main Street, where I first came across it last Tuesday.
Not alone do they sell garlic but they can also sell you the material to grow your own and are quite happy to dispense advice on how to get the best out if it. “We will be more than happy to share our experience and passion and provide you with all you need to for a successful home crop.”
You can meet them all over West Cork at the Markets: Kinsale (Wednesday), Dunmanway (Thursday), Clonakilty (Friday), Skibbereen (Saturday) and Enniskeane (one Saturday per month). You may also like to look at their website.
If you want to get sowing yourself, you don’t have that much time. Well, don’t wait until the spring as most garlic is planted in late autumn and early winter, some varieties as early as September!
So let us wish the enterprising couple all the best with their big planting next season. They are doing us all a favour. “West Cork Garlic, a welcome home-grown alternative to the Chinese garlic flooding the country,” according to Darina Allen. Import substitution is the name of the game here and we can all play a part, by buying from the Mirets or by planting up a patch in the back garden.