Showing posts with label Wild Atlantic Way. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wild Atlantic Way. Show all posts

Friday, September 7, 2018

Eating and Drinking in West Cork this week? Need to work up an appetite?

Eating and Drinking in West Cork this week? Need to work up an appetite?
Here's a few off piste activities for festival goers.

1: A Walk in Gougane Barra 
Gougane
2: 

Ewe Experience. Something to sing and dance about! 
Not an ewe

and food for the mind...
Major Exhibition in Skibbereen.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Best of the Wild Atlantic in Quinlan’s Seafood Bar Killarney


Best of the Wild Atlantic in
 Quinlan’s Seafood Bar Killarney

Got a lovely welcome and a lovely lunch as well when we stepped into the bright and airy Quinlan’s Seafood Bar on High Street Killarney on a recent wet Thursday. It was quite busy, but the one or two bottlenecks were dealt with capably by the friendly front of house lady, working calmly on her own.


We got a seat by the window that looks out on to the street in this long narrow restaurant that also does takeaway. A banquette, at right angles to the street, provides much of the seating up the long side and opposite that you have the counter for service and takeaway. By the way, there is no wine or beer licence here but you’ll get plenty of water, teas, coffees and soft drinks.

Soon we were studying the menu. We needed no more than the main course so skipped, a little reluctantly, the promising Valentia Chowder. No shortage of fish and chips here - they are famous for them. You have quite a choice of fish: Whiting, Plaice, Haddock, Cod and Hake. No shortage of sides either: chips, onion rings, garden salad, mushy peas.

CL had heard only good things about their own smoked salmon for which the family has won quite a few awards and she picked the Open Sandwich. Here the salmon is served on brown bread and comes with a straightforward salad and lemon wedge, all for €11.95. The amount of “smoking” is nicely judged and the flavour of the salmon itself is not diminished but rather enhanced by its engagement with Irish oak. A lovely dish indeed. And do watch out for that smoked salmon at the Quinlan's fish shops.

Most of the fish here comes from the nearby Atlantic coast, much of it caught by Quinlan’s own boats. They have been at it since 1963 and export fish “all over the world”.  They have had fish shops in Killorglin and Caherciveen since the late 1980s and added two in Tralee and Killarney in 2009, with the Tralee shop winning National Seafood Specialist of the Year in 2011. Now, with the fish-bars, it is out of the blue and straight to you from people who know what they are doing.

Now back to my lunch. I could have had Portmagee Crab Claws, Dingle Bay Wild Squid, Homemade Fish Cakes, an Open Shrimp Sandwich but, in the end, couldn't resist the Deep Water Atlantic Prawns (14.95) in a light tempura batter. Chips were an option but I choose the salad. The Prawns were magnificent. Indeed, there was so much looking across the table at the other’s dish that we swapped plates half-way through, both of us very happy with this very tasty lunch.


Quinlan’s Seafood Bar,  (opposite Quills Woollen Market). 
77 High Street, Killarney, Co. Kerry
Tel: 064 662 0666
Opening Hours:
Monday   -  Sunday  12pm - 9pm
Summer Hours may vary.
Quinlan's Seafood bars also in Tralee, Killorglin, Kenmare and Cork City.

See also
Celtic Whiskey Bar and Larder
Visiting Killarney's Big Houses
Dine and Stay at The Brehon Hotel Killarney
The Yew Tree at The Muckross Park Hotel
36 Hours in Killarney, inc Killarney Brewing

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Head For Clare in 2018

When the snows vanish, it will be time to start thinking about heading to County Clare again...

Lough Derg

The Burren


Moher

Liscannor


The Burren

Where the Burren meets the sea

Cliffs of Moher

St Tola

Two pucks
 See more detailed County Clare posts here


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tapas at Schull’s Casa Diego. And Farewell to lovely Stanley House

Tapas at Schull’s Casa Diego

And Farewell to lovely Stanley House
Huevos Estrellados

After trips to Three Castles Head and Mount Gabriel and, in between, a lovely lunch at Budds, we were wondering where to eat on our last night in Schull. Had earlier spotted Casa Diego and thought the flexibility (stop when full, maybe!) of tapas might well fit the bill.

They certainly did. Aside from a long list of tapas they also do a more structured meal with starter, mains and so on. They have an indoor dining room and also a bunch of tables on a sheltered sloping garden. And it was the open air venue that we chose.
Pimientos Rellenos

And choosing from the long list wasn't easy as there were many tempting dishes there, everything from Banderillas (a small skewer containing spicy crunch cocktail onions, peppers and olives) to Chorizos a la sidra (chorizo in cider) to Gambas al ajillo (local scampi in garlic, virgin extra oil and chilli).

The wine list isn't as long but I did spot a favourite, the Semele, with its distinctive design, the letters forming a person drinking. Karwigs import this and it has a complex nose, well-ripened red fruit, and is dry, with a well-rounded finish. Certainly enjoyed that.

We started with a selection of the tapas and later ordered more! Favourites included the Pimientos Rellenos (Piquillo peppers with a selection of mushroom or vegetables); the Huevos Estrellados (Fried eggs with potatoes and Iberican ham); the Michirones (Fava beans stewed with cured ham, potatoes, chorizo and bay leaves); the Embutido Ibérico (a massive plate of Spanish chorizo, lean pork sausage with coarse black pepper, and Iberican Ham); and the Berenjena Rellena (stuffed aubergines wth minced meat and homemade tomato covered with melted parmesan cheese). 

The only bum note was struck, surprisingly, by the Patatas Bravas. You get a plateful of the spicy cubes but most of the bigger cubes weren't fully cooked. Still, we had more than enough from the smaller ones as the plate was big and packed.

Service had been friendly and excellent throughout. When we went up to pay we were told they didn't accept credit cards. Had we been eating in the inside room, we’d probably have seen that on the door. We were told there was an ATM in Centra, just down the street. So we walked down there and brought back the cash to the friendly trusting folks in Casa Diego. By the way, L’Escale, on the pier, is another restaurant that doesn’t take credit cards.
Schull harbour from Stanley House

On the following morning (Sunday), we said goodbye to Nancy and her lovely Stanley House on the Colla Road. Our room had a gorgeous sea-view as had most of the outdoor areas and gardens. They cook an excellent breakfast here too and Nancy is very helpful with directions and tips on what to do in the area.

Still time to call down to the Country Market which is held every Sunday morning in summer. Lots of good things here from homemade baking and jams to a full sized Gubbeen stall where we lingered awhile, tasting a smashing two year Coolea with Tom Ferguson himself. Filled a bag there and then took a final walk along the shore. Didn't get too far in the sun. Just sat down on one of the many seats and watched some swimmers come in after what looked like a long one.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Coast, Cliffs and Chocolate. The Iveragh Experience: Killorglin to Ballinskelligs.

The Iveragh Experience

Killorglin to Ballinskelligs. Coast, Cliffs and Chocolate.

A special at Nick's Killorglin
Near Blackstone Bridge
Part Ring of Kerry, part Wild Atlantic Way. Part Ring of Skelligs. Mix them all up and enjoy the trip from Killorglin to Ballinskelligs, with a side visit to the lovely Blackstone Bridge and the Caragh River. 

If you are looking for a place to stay, there is no shortage. But I can heartily recommended the Carrig Country House, a lovely Victorian house on the shore of Carrig Lake; great hospitality and excellent food (including one of the country's best breakfasts). 

Just after one of those breakfasts, we set off on an inland spin, towards Glencar, a pretty place at the foot of the local mountains. If you don't climb, then there are many walks in the area, especially in Lickeen Woods.

Here too is where the Caragh River flows over the black stones that give the bridge its name. It is a picturesque spot and some fishermen were on the backs at the time. Later, we would drive up the narrow road to the Ballaghbeama Pass. It looks bleak on a grey day but splendid when the sun is shining. You can make a U turn at the top or continue on down between the mountains to Sneem.

The Kerry Cliffs
We came back and headed to Killorglin, passing the large statue of King Puck on the bank of the river near the bridge. There is a big car park just off to the right of the one-way (up) main street. We parked there and walked downhill with the church to our left. Then up a slope, again on the left, as a metal bridge loomed overhead. Up on the bridge, the old railway bridge, there are very good views of the River Laune and the road bridge that we just crossed.

Time then for a snack. We were in luck. Had spotted a sign for Jack’s Bakery & Deli, on Bridge Street, and it looked good. We were the last customers! It was just past one o'clock on a Sunday but they were about to close up, having sold out! But they did feed us, a couple of well filled baps (the last of morning's baking) and, as we sat down at the outside tables, a big slice of chocolate cake was added as a bonus! Thanks Jack!

On the Bolus Walk

By the way, if you are in Killorglin of an evening, you might like to try the well known Nick’s or their younger sister next door, Sol y Sombra. Nick's A la Carte prices can be a bit stiff yet one of our starters, Garlic Marinated Pan Seared Prawns with pickled cucumber and a herb vinaigrette, was one of the very best I've come across and worth the €12.50 price tag. You may also find good value in the set menus, including one that offers three courses for €28.00.
Mussel boat

You’ll see Cromane mussels on many a menu locally and the village is close to Killorglin and worth a detour. Here, you’ll see the flat-deck boats used for the purpose. No work though when I called on a Sunday. Would like to have seen them in action as I did in various parts of France, especially in Marennes-Oléron on the west coast.
Skywalker!

The Red Fox Inn seems to be a very popular spot with tourist buses. And, if you have 20 minutes or so to spare, you might be interested in seeing the adjacent Kerry Bog Village (fee) for “a snapshot of Irish life in the 18th and 19th century”. The few bog ponies and the Irish wolfhounds weren't overly animated and there were no mountain goats on our visit. There are a number of cottages, containing lots of interesting everyday memorabilia and, in one, the turf fire is blazing and the room is full of smoke!

On then to Glenbeigh. We took a walk on the nearby beach of Rossbeigh. It was windy and the wind sports enthusiasts were out in force. Didn't do Cahersiveen justice (another day!) as we drove quickly through heading for Renard Point to the south of the town to take the ferry to Valentia Island. No shortage of activities on the island as you may read here …
Bolus Walk
In preparation for your drive on the Skelligs Ring, you might like to visit the Skellig Experience (fee) on Valentia. It has a cafe but the offering is limited and average. Pick up the Skelligs Ring in Portmagee and make a visit to the Kerry Cliffs your first stop. There is a small fee but you get a good walk and a few excellent viewpoints over the impressive cliffs.

Continue to the coast and soon you'll see the signs for the Skelligs Chocolate (no fee). Here, you’ll get a warm welcome and get to sample their various offerings. If it is a working day, you'll see the produce being made. Lots of it for sale of course and I got some Strawberry and Champagne and also a white citrus (lemon and lime) chocolate. And they have the Puffin Cafe here as well. No sandwiches or anything like that. Just a treat for yourself. I enjoyed my tall glass of hot chocolate and a chunk of Rocky Road.
Skelligs Chocolate
Back to the road then, for a short spell. There is a great walk nearby, with views over the bay and the famous Skellig Islands. We drove to the trailhead but didn't have time to do the full walk around Bolus Head (it takes about three hours). But we did enjoy our hour in the sun with the blue sea on one side, the hard fields full of sheep and their lambs on the other.

Old Bog Farm
Kells Garden
Time then to turn around and head for Kells Bay and our final visit. Kells Bay Gardens is one of Ireland’s foremost Victorian Gardens and contains a great selection of southern hemisphere plants. The hairy fern tree plantation is impressive and there are lots of tree carvings around to amuse both kids and adults. The highlight - and it is a new feature - is the Skywalk, a shaky rope bridge over a stream. You’ll need your two hands here, so be careful with that camera.

After all the exercise, you’ll now be thinking about a well deserved dinner in the Lakeside Restaurant at Carrig House!
See also: Visiting Valentia Island
Lovely Dinner at The Lakeside 
Calm and Comfortable at Carrig House

Monday, May 8, 2017

48 Hours in Westport. Sightseeing. Eating. Drinking.

48 Hours in Westport. 
Sightseeing. Eating. Drinking.
Keel Bay
Taking the long way round is a regular habit when I'm on the road and so, to get to Westport from Cork, I head to the Galway village of Leenane, at the inland point of Killary Harbour, as I want to drive from there to Louisburgh by the spectacular Doolough route.

Leenane
By the time we reached Leenane or Leenaune (you will see quite a lot of spelling variations of place-names in both Galway and Mayo), we were feeling peckish. The well-known Blackberry was still closed (at 12.15pm) so, after a stroll, we dropped into the nearby Sheep & Wool Centre for a bite. 
And we got a right good one.  They had a Soup and Sandwich offer. For €7.75 we each got a big bowl of soup and a sandwich. And not just your usual veg soup but a Tomato and Roasted Pepper (there was a choice of at least two soups). Great choices (12) also of sandwich fillings and dressings (7). 

For instance, I had tuna with salad and pesto on brown bread while Clare had chicken, roasted peppers, red onion marmalade. So they are not dishing out the same old same old. We thought the quality was very good as was the price.
Aasleagh
We noticed the Blackberry was open and busy as we walked back to the car, Minutes later, we passed the Carraig Bar, the last pub out of Connemara and then, all of a sudden, we saw the Aasleagh Falls in off the road. Walked in for a view and then drove on.
Doolough Famine Memorial

The beautiful Doolough area was, in 1849, the scene of one of the darkest events of the Famine. On a bitterly cold day, some 600 people in Louisburgh were seeking food or a ticket to the workhouse in Westport. They were told to contact the Poor Law officials who were, for some reason, in Delphi, about ten miles away. Some died overnight and the rest struggled over hills and mountains (no road then). The officials rose from their lunch and told the people they could do nothing for them and ordered them back to Louisburgh. No one knows how many died by the wayside.

Still incredibly sad, after all those years.

The Reek
 It is of course a short journey by car and soon we were passing through Louisburgh and on our way to Croagh Patrick. We had no intention of going to the top but did get about a third of the way up. It is rough enough with lots of big rocks and smaller loose stones but the views out over Clew Bay are magnificent, even on a cloudy day.

We stayed in the excellent Westport Plaza Hotel that night and enjoyed a lovely meal in their Merlot, a destination restaurant. Visited the bar afterwards. Didn't see any craft beer on tap. But they did have a fridge full of Mescan beer, 330ml bottles of local excellence!
 Mescan, by the way, was St Patrick’s brewer and no doubt the odd conversion was facilitated by a jug of his brew. The beer is still cloudy! Their Westport Blonde (5.5%) is superb.

But it was their Westport Saison (6.2%), more cutting, more fizzy, with clove and citrus notes, that I really enjoyed. Saison beer is a Belgian style brewed for seasonal workers. Reckon I'd appreciate one (or two) after a hard day’s labour or even after an idle day.
Westport House

 Day two was mostly an Achill Island affair. The sun came out and the lure of the Atlantic beauty was irresistible. We did the main drive, all the way through to Keem Bay. There were detours, of course. We took the loop to the south on the way out, the one to the north on the way back.


There were many stops to admire the stunning views over the cliffs and the seas, though the first stop was at the Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley castle, near to the lifeboat station.
The Pirate Queen's castle in Achill
For lunch, we dropped into the lovely Craft and Coffee shop called the Beehive in Keel. The food was excellent and very well priced (as it had been in Leenane). For just less than twenty euro, we each had a Chicken Bap (with a lovely salad) and tea, all served on beautiful ware by Shannon Bridge Pottery (Offaly).


Just made it back to Westport House about an hour before closing. The house, by the way, now has new local owners who have promised investment and improvements. We had a quick enough look-around upstairs and downstairs. Even visited the dungeon though spent more time in the extensive wine-cellar (now unfortunately empty, aside from a few old wooden markers).

Achill, above and below

We wouldn't be short of wine though when we visited the excellent Black Truffle Bistro in the town centre for a smashing dinner, a dinner that included one of the best fish dishes I’ve ever eaten.

Time then for another taste of the local brews and we headed up to the lively McGings. I passed the night - we had music by DramaCode later - with Clifford's Connacht Champion, or 3C for short, a refreshing golden ale (4%), one of the beers from the Clew Bay Brewery. 


Westport House, in the wine cellar
CL settled on a very nice and refreshing Achill beer, made using water from a local corrie lough and Carrigeen moss. 


Each beer came in its own proper glass; McGings don't do things by halves. Staff there are brilliant, very helpful if you are not acquainted with the beers (they include Franciscan Well Chieftain Pale Ale in their selection). The perfect end to another good day in Mayo.




Thursday, April 10, 2014

Eating and Shopping in Connemara. Joyce Country. Day 3

Connemara Day 3
Coast Drive - Spiddal Shopping Spree - Joyce Country - Sky Road - Mitchell’s Fish Special


P1160014a.jpg
A boat waits for better weather on the River Bealanabrack at Maam
P1150996a.jpgA super fish meal at Mitchell’s in Clifden, eased down with a beautiful bottle of Chateau la Brie (Bergerac), was the highlight of this sometimes misty day in Connemara. The wine is mistakenly listed as Bordeaux on the list but this mix of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc could easily pass among a bunch of the uppity neighbours to the west.

A very high standard was set with the starters. Mine was the fantastically flavoured Grilled Oranmore Oysters, with parmesan and cream, while CL raved over her Tian of local crab, avocado, caramelized apple, vine tomato salsa.


No let up with the superb main courses: Pan fried Wild Monkfish and mussels, cream cauliflower, spring onion, caper and lemon butter and the Pan Fried Haddock, Killary Mussels, Cauliflower puree, caper and lemon butter. And even the sides, boiled potatoes and vegetables, were superb.


The final decision of the meal was to to split one dessert and this was the most gorgeous Banana and Belgian Chocolate Nut Pudding with Lemon Meringue ice-cream and hot chocolate ganache.


Mitchell’s, where unusually all the front of house are male, regularly top the restaurants lists in Clifden and I'm now adding a Very Highly Recommended. And a warning to book early!


P1160010a.jpg
Tasty crumble at Spiddal cafe
Went on something of a shopping spree at the Ceardlann in Spiddal earlier. Started with a sweet pastry treat at the highly recommended Builín Blasta, the cafe in the craft village. Good coffee and a very tasty Plum Crumble set me up for the shopping.

Not all the shops were open but quite a few were and it was great to meet and chat with the craftspeople and artists. We did the rounds twice and ended up with a couple of bags of jewelry, glassware by Sue Donnellan and also some ceramic pieces from Sliding Rock. And absolutely no regrets.


On the contrary, it is fabulous to be able to buy local and support our hard-working talented craftspeople. Buying local is generally termed as buying local food but it should apply to everything we can produce, provided it is sold at a fair price. Buy local, buy fair.

Looking forward to giving out a few presents when I get back and also to seeing some of the stuff mounted on the walls at home. If you are in the Galway area, do try and visit. Very Highly Recommended.


It took us quite a while to get to Spiddal. After the sunshine of the past two days, we set off in a persistent mist. Still, that didn't stop us from heading to the limits of the coast. Drove around the loop from Glinsk to the sea and back to Carna. Tough country here. Fields of boulders and hard for the few cattle to find firm ground and a square of grass.


By the way, an attraction (it has many) of Galway is that it is one of the most accessible places in Ireland to see, close up, farm animals and their young: Cattle, Ponies, Donkeys, Goats, Sheep and, of course, lots of Connemara lambs.


After Carna, we headed off to the islands, at least the islands linked by bridges: Leitir Móir and Leitir Meallain. Quite spectacular, even if the drizzle was never that far away.


The mist was easing off after Spiddal and, instead of going underground (as originally planned) to the Glengowla mines near Oughterard, we headed to Maam Cross and up to the Joyce Country. Barren mountains and lakes surrounded us as we drove on past Maam itself and then down into Leenane, following the same valley whose flanking hills then enclose the famous fjord.


P1160019a.jpg
Clifden in the evening
Back then to Clifden but not before taking one more turn (for old time's sake) on the Sky Road. It might have been dull but the drive was still a delight. A wee rest and it was off to Mitchell’s to enjoy the last big meal of the trip.

Must say also that our base in the Dun Ri guesthouse was excellent. Very central, very comfortable, and a good breakfast every morning and a friendly chat or two thrown in, sometimes with the owners, sometimes with the other guests (one a winemaker from Wisconsin), or with both. Check it out!

Connemara Day 1
Connemara Day 2
A different view of Kylemore Abbey