Showing posts with label pizza. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pizza. Show all posts

Monday, June 6, 2016

Cheesemaking Buzz at Toons Bridge. Café And Shop. And A Pizza Oven

Cheesemaking Buzz at Toons Bridge
Café And Shop. And A Pizza Oven
Franco, the maestro, ready to rock 'n roll
It is around noon on Friday and Franco gives the signal. No big noise then but you can feel the creative buzz as the three-man crew swing into action making Mozzarella in the gleaming Toons Bridge Dairy. Amazing to see the trio work from the big floppy cubes of curd.

First the cubes are mechanically diced, then Franco gets his hands on it - the skilled hands of a fourth generation Italian cheesemaker who’s been making cheese since he was eleven - manipulating the curd in
a steaming vat (hot water is being piped in), stretching it to almost unimaginable elastic proportions, then after a little draining off, he hands it on and soon from the little machine opposite emerge those gorgeous little balls.
Awaiting their turn to get to market - Cacio Cavallo mainly.

We are offered a taste. We chew the sample; it is like a milky “meat”! No salt yet. Brineing, a strong one for a short spell (an hour or so), and then it goes into its “transport brine”, the one you’ll see in the stalls the very next day. Toons Bridge Mozzarella is the freshest in Ireland,” says our guide Ronan. “Made today, on sale tomorrow.” Indeed, if you call to their cafe next door, you could well be eating your freshest ever! Some of the whey, by the way, is retained in the dairy and used as a starter for the next batch

We’ll get to the café soon but first there’s much more cheese to be seen and tasted. With no fresh buffalo milk available to them anymore, Toons Bridge have creatively filled the gap by adding a string of gorgeous Italian style cheeses to their range.
Cacio Cavallo
Recently, we featured their Cacio Cavallo as Taste of the Week. They actually make four versions of this cow's milk cheese. Cacio Cavallo can age marvellously, turning the soft, rubbery paste hard and flinty that it needs to be broken in shards. The flavours can be huge, as they harness all of the various raw milk bacteria to ripen the curd.

Franco tolds me that they use a kid rennet (in a paste form) for the Piccante version and also in their Pecorino (we’ll get to that later). He reckons it enhances the fermentation, leading to better flavours. They also do a Mesophilic version. No starter culture at all is used, just a natural slow fermentation of the milk. The result is reminiscent of traditional English cheese such as Caerphilly or Cheshire.
The curd, before it is diced into much smaller pieces
Lots of new words to be learned around here. Another is Scamorza which is a simple stretched curd cheese that is hung (you can see the mark of the string) for a short period of time to air dry. It is similar to mozzarella and melts well. It is sweet and delicate. They do both smoked and unsmoked versions and I must say I enjoy the smoked one (great when stuffing those big flat mushrooms). Pier 26 in Ballycotton have it on their cheese plate.

They also do Halloumi and Ricotta (try with Highbank Orchard Syrup). And then there’s the Pecorino Vincenzo.  Pecorino is the general name for sheep’s cheese in Italy. This pecorino is made in Toons Bridge by Vincenzo to a family recipe from his native Marche region.  Vincenzo has a small flock of sheep nearby and they make this gorgeous Pecorino right here. Another must try from this rural hub of creativity. If you want more details on the cheeses, please click here.
 Time now for lunch in the sun. After all the cheese tasting, we decided on something different.  Most of the staff were getting their pizzas, topped with Toons Bridge cheese of course! Friday is a nice relaxing day here.  Both of us started with a Hummus Plate (two types of hummus, with basil pesto, olives and flat breads from the pizza oven). Substantial and delicious.

The counter was lined with attractive colourful salads (quite a few in the shop for takeaway as well) including Pearled barley, harissa, carrot and dill; pesto, potato and pea; beetroot, quinoa and chickpea, with balsamic dressing; two potato and mint. You could pick any three plus salad leaves for nine euro. We each did just that and enjoyed them in the sun in the garden. Meat Boards and Tapas Plates were also available as were of course the pizzas. Lots of soft drinks too, including my Elderflower cordial, wines by the glass and local beers.

The old stumps - there are 100s-
in The Gearagh
It was a delightful interlude, the lunch well earned we thought! Earlier, after the short drive down from the city we took the familiar R584. This is quite a road if you have time on your hands. Even in a short space, you can call to the Prince August Toy Soldier Factory (a must if you have kids), The Gearagh and Toons Bridge.

Our first stop was at the nearby Gearagh, the only ancient post glacial alluvial forest in Western Europe, a beautiful spot, great for a walk through bushes and trees and wild-flowers and the stump-strewn waters on both sides of your path. Click here for the Discover Ireland listing and a short paragraph of info on this remarkable place.
Looking into the cafe, from our table in the garden;
we were early, the place would soon be full.
 If you want to continue on the R584, there are many more stops to make (including Gougane Barra, Keimaneigh, and Carrigass Castle) before you get to Ballylicky and a stop for refreshments at Manning’s Emporium. For more on the R584, check my post The Many Attractions of Driving the R584

But last Friday, we settled for The Gearagh and Toons Bridge Dairy and Cafe. Well educated and well fed, we headed for home and a sunny afternoon in the back garden!


Three salads

The Gearagh

Walk through The Gearagh

Take a break!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Franciscan Well Festival. Beer & Cheese at North Mall

Franciscan Well October Festival

Beer & Cheese at North Mall
Say formaggio!
Try the Fonduta in the bowl.

The annual Franciscan Well October Beer Fest is in full swing at the North Mall. A wide selection of imported Festival beer is available, beer cocktails (with spirits by St Patrick's Distillery), pizza by the tried and tested Pompeii crew, and music is all part of the mix. But this year, they've got cheese, lots of it, from a company called Antica Latteria Bruzolese who are based in Borgone di Susa, close to Turin in the north of Italy.

There are a few dozen exotic beers from Belgium, USA, Germany, New Zealand, Ukraine, even Luxembourg! I didn't get to try them all in a quick tour last night but did get a few. The Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest/Marzen, a collaboration with Augsburg’s Brauhaus Riegele, was one and the Tuatara Aotearoa Pale Ale another. Then there was the Karpat Mustang from Ukraine, an American Pale Ale, and also I enjoyed a glass of the Lagunitas Fusion XXX1, a USA Imperial IPA weighing in at 8.9%. My favourite was perhaps the Aotearoa from New Zealand.

Then I left the ranks of beer taps and called over to the cheese stall and got the low-down there. Bought a plate of the cheese for a fiver and tried it out. The range, all made from milk supplied by small farms in the Piedmonte region, consisted of some fairly fresh cheese to one that was very mature indeed. All were “hard” cheese but, of course, the younger ones were soft and easy to eat, much like Tomme de Savoie the French mountain cheese.

The oldest one was really hard, best grated over your pizza or salad etc. In between, they had a Tometta Onion. That contained six per cent onion - not to everyone's liking! And also a Tometta Tomato.

And if you wanted an instant fondue, they have just the job. Get yourself a jar of the Fonduta (€6.00). All you then have to do is to warm the cheese mix, pop in a breadstick and enjoy. Don't take my word for it! Call over to the Well, get yourself a beer and then go to the cheese stall where they'll offer you a taste of the Fonduta! In fact, I’m told they will have an artisan beer there for the rest of the weekend.

The October Beer Fest reopens today at 2.00pm, same time tomorrow Sunday.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Pizza Kits for Kids (and Adults)

Pizza Kits for Kids (and Adults)
Want to get your kids into the kitchen? Well, why not try the new DIY Pizza Kits from O’Keeffe’s Bakery. Two of the kits contain Dough, Sauce and Cheese, and instructions on how to make your very own Margherita.

And it is easy to do. And fun too. For the kids. Even for the adults. The ingredients have to be thawed out but that will take just a few minutes if you use the micro-wave option. Then roll out the dough, add the sauce, the cheese, any toppings you have handy (check the fridge for leftovers), rest it, bake and enjoy. It is that easy.

Most of the queue at the Supermarket seemed to think that these are for kids. But not necessarily so. The dough is really good and doesn’t get hard at all and the sauce is flavoursome and, of course, you may add your toppings, such as chorizo or mushrooms and so on and make it into a serious dish.

One of the kits makes two 7” pizzas, another makes a 10” while the third makes a 10” garlic bread.

O'Keeffe's Bakery in Cork invested close to €1 million in research and development in order to create a process that succeeds in freezing dough without losing the viability or the baking performance of the active yeast ingredient.  I’m told that this is quite a major breakthrough and could lead to new frozen dough-based consumer products and to extra jobs at the Ballincollig based firm.

The kits contains no artificial additives, colouring or preservatives and are available nationwide from selected Tesco, Dunnes and Musgrave Stores. For all the latest on the kits, check the facebook page.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Midleton's Lion of St Mark

Pizzeria San Marco

In Venice, you will see the Lion of St Mark all over the town. You will also see it on the wall of Pizzeria San Marco which is just down the road in Midleton. 

Here the restaurant, which opened two years back and has been making friends since, proudly boasts about their authentic Italian dining experience. They have an authentic Italian wood-burning oven and charcoal grill. And also that Lion of St Mark on the wall.

Had been hearing good things about this Pizzeria over the last 12 months and got a chance to call down last week. It is on the Cork City side of the town, not too far down from the site of the weekly Farmers Market. Front of house are very friendly and the chairs are comfortable.

The menu is wide ranging, as you see for yourself by visiting the website. I’ve always enjoyed the shared meat dish that other Italian restaurants use and we went for it here and were delighted. The Antipasto Platter consisted of Cured Italian meats with a selection of cheeses, olives and sun dried tomatoes and cost €10.30. It was a well-balanced plateful and was helped on its way by a gorgeous Montepulciano.

We had actually been about to pick a Sangiovese Merlot from the understandably short list until our genial waiter Mario suggested the Caldora Montepulciano. It is from the Abruzzo region with a full body, intense, persistent and fruity. And, as Mario said, goes well with meat and cheese. Cost per bottle is 22 euro, per glass 6.25.

As you’d expect, they have a long list of pizzas. The special on the night was the Macroom Pizza, featuring the Toomsbridge Buffalo cheese, but I went for the Carciofini which had tomato, mozzarella and artichokes and cost €11:30. Must say, glad to say, it was top notch, a great mix, well balanced and the artichokes more than held their own.

CL picked the Lasagna: Baked pasta layered with Bolognese and Béchamel sauce, topped with Parmesan cheese, served with garlic bread (€12.50). I had a sample and it was just brilliant and, more importantly, she concurred, enthusiastically.

We were pretty full after the opening two courses and shared the Tiramisu: A layer of "savoiardi" biscuits with coffee liquor, mascarpone cheese and cocoa – €6.50. After the first spoonful, we were inclined to order a second helping but beat off the temptation.