Showing posts with label venison. Show all posts
Showing posts with label venison. Show all posts

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Game On at Blairs Inn


Game On at Blairs Inn
Venison casserole

The crew in Blairs Inn in Cloghroe are always game for a laugh, summer or winter. But this time of year, four-legged and feathered game is in season and is served up in many delicious ways by the kitchen of this renowned country pub, a few miles from Cork City and Blarney.

A laugh and a smile are guaranteed here, directions too if you’re a tourist seeking the next beauty spot or watering hole; they’ve even been known to change a wheel for a customer. 
Pheasant

Not that you’ll ever be in a hurry to leave the pub. In winter, the fires are burning and the company's good. You’ll get the same company in the summer in the garden by the little Sheep River. And it’s also a terrific place for craft beer, one of the first places in Ireland where I was given a multi-page craft beer menu to choose from.

The craft beer is still going strong here and, indeed, the beer I had for lunch was something special. It is a Gluten Free stout, Stag Saor*, and is on draught, Ireland's first. 

GF and on draught
Richard Blair, one of two brothers now running the pub, told me of a satisfied customer of a few days earlier. A coeliac, the man hadn’t drunk stout, his favourite tipple, for twenty years but, having sampled the Star Saor, left Blair's Inn with tears of gratitude.

I had noticed they were using the Ballyvourney stout in my Venison Casserole so, of course, I ordered a pint. And it proved a great match for the rich casserole of Wicklow venison (16.95) which was served with a side dish of root vegetables, some broccoli too and a big baked potato! Great stuff.

CL was eagerly tucking into her Wild Irish Pheasant (half!), with aromatic gin and juniper stuffing, mushrooms and a red wine sauce (16.50). Another superb dish. Thought she might have had a G & T with this but no she settled, quite happily as it turned out, for the Scarlet Pimpernel by Killarney Brewing.

Lots of choice here, including the corned beef dish for which the Blairs are well known. Meat features strongly but, in fairness, they have no less then three fish dishes in the mains as well. Beside, they have one-plates meals (including a massive Wagyu beef burger), and there are salads, baps and open sandwiches.
Bluebell goats

Good choice of starters too though both of us went for cheese based dishes. Having tried, unsuccessfully, to milk one of their goats earlier in 2017, CL has a soft spot for Bluebell Falls so no surprise that she picked a warm tartlet of the cheese, with creamed leeks and smoked salmon, a terrific flavoursome dish for €8.65.
Gubbeen

For the same money, I enjoyed a lovely salad of Gubbeen and seasonal leaves. Very pleased with that one. Indeed, very pleased with the meal overall as is consistently the case here.

* Saor is Irish for free and producers, 9 White Deer from Ballyvourney, already have a full set of Gluten Free beers in bottle.
Another venison dish, this from the evening menu.
Cloghroe
Blarney
Co. Cork
Tel: (021) 438 1470



Thursday, July 28, 2016

Millstreet Country Park. The Best of Venison. So Much More

Millstreet Country Park
The Best of Venison. So Much More
Mont des Arts. Looking down and (below) looking up
as the water flows down the steps

Sat down for lunch in the café at Millstreet Country Park the other day. After all it was time for a break after a couple of hours walking through part of this amazing place, full of surprises, its gardens, water features, walks and bike rides, lakes and ponds, bogs and mountains. And Red Irish deer, of course.

The menu is short as you’d expect. But no shortage of food or drink (everything from water to wine). I spotted Venison in a sandwich and ordered it immediately. It was absolutely delicious, amazingly tender. Our server mentioned something about the owner's recipe and strict instructions but she wasn't revealing any secrets!
Delicious venison

We had started with a hearty bowl of soup (4.50) - it wasn't the warmest day of the week! And our other dish was a Sweet Chilli Chicken (chicken, chilli mayo, onion, tomato and mixed leaves). Another excellent dish for just €5.50. My MCP Special consisted of the venison, relish (superb), cheese and onion, leaves and slaw and came to €6.00. Oh by the way, the venison, butchered by Finn’s in Mitchelstown, is on sale here.
Circus Fountain
Nibbles is the name of the cafe and it is newly built, very comfortable and well equipped to deliver a relaxed dining experience serving hearty soups, gourmet sandwiches, selection of cakes and treats, speciality coffees, teas and hot chocolates. Much of the produce comes from the farm, their tunnel and gardens along with some from the wild (all part of the Foraging Trail). There is also a bistro here, open for the major events and available too for private functions. Both have terrific views over the park and nearby mountains.

The park is between Millstreet and Macroom and we could have taken the main roads but instead went cross-country, via Blarney, Tower and Rylane. From Rylane we headed for Aubane and it was here, just two hundred metres before the turn-off for the park, that we came across two plaques, one at either side of the narrow hilly road.

This little road was part of the famous Butter Road where farmers from as far away as Castleisland brought their containers of butter to the Butter Exchange in Cork City’s Shandon for much of the 18th and 19th centuries when Cork was regarded as the Butter Capital of the world. Here in Aubane there is a flat rock, known as the Kerryman’s table, and here the weary travellers rested.
Fairy Trail
The plaque at the other side also commemorates the Butter Road and its contractor John Murphy of Castleisland. This was unveiled in 1998 by the chairman of Dairygold and the butter used in Nibbles is by Dairygold of course! This is their area - the Kerrymen were only passing through. Read more about this particular butter road here.
Gardens galore
Aside from the food, the Park is a marvellus place to visit, great too if you have kids. The youngsters will enjoy the space, the bikes, the water (they have nets and rubber ducks for them), the large shuffleboard area, the Fairy Trail and more. It is popular for school tours and camps.

For the adults, in the Leisure Zone, there are gardens galore including a Sensory, Rose, Bee, Music and the Tertiary Garden. In the Active Zone, you’ll find the Wetlands, a Stone Circle, an Obstacle Course and much more. And in the Wilderness Zone, there are Picnic Areas, the Blanket Bog and the Hedge School Site and that’s just a fraction.
The highlights around the Visitor Centre are perhaps the two water features, the lovely Circus Fountain and the amazing Mont Des Arts. The latter, constructed in 2009, is a replica of the original Mont des Arts built in the central square in Brussels for the Universal Exposition of 1910.

And, of course, you have to see the red deer. In summer, the population peaks at about 250. By the way, the deer farm here is organic. Venison is processed by John Finn in Mitchelstown and the burgers are made by Jerry Pat O’Leary, a craft butcher in Millstreet. Check the latest venison prices here.
Games