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Monday, April 10, 2017
Taste of the Week
Chicken Inn’s Chicken Stock
If you’re passing the Chicken Inn in the English Market and see a line-up of tubs of chicken stock, grab one, or two, and you’ll have our Taste of the Week.
Tim Mulcahy’s stock is chock full of flavour and a great base. There are tons of recipes on the internet and you can adapt them as you please and depending what you have to hand, just as we did (above).
Noodles (pasta is an alternative) are a terrific accompaniment and you can throw in a selection of the following: pieces of left-over chicken, diced carrots, sweetcorn, celery, onions, and pak choi. If you’d prefer a precise recipe, then go to Google!
Dine at the Crossroads of Munster
There is a lovely restaurant, serving top notch food, in historic Mallow. Near to the beautiful Clock House, yards from the statue of Thomas Davis and just across the road from the castle, you’ll find Peppers where they serve local and seasonal and serve it well. And you may wash it down with local beers and cider.
Called in there on a recent Friday night and were warmly welcomed by Diarmuid and his team. Soon we were studying the menu and the specials board and I was sipping from a glass of Eight Degrees Sunburnt Red Ale (€4.50). Indeed, quite a few of the Mitchelstown Brewery’s beers were available while the Cotton Ball (beer) and Longueville (cider) were also represented.
Hard enough to make your mind up here as they have a big selection of starters and mains, desserts too, on the regular menu and then add in the specials as well and you have a dilemma, a delicious one!
Soon though we were up and running. I really hit the jackpot with my starter: Croquette of confit of free range chicken, smoked ham, Jack McCarthy’s black pudding, Jerusalem artichoke cream and apricot (€7.50). What a dish, full of flavour and texture and so well cooked and presented.
CL didn't do too badly either. She had chosen one of the specials: In-house smoked salmon tartare, Castletownbere crab, dill and lemon mayonnaise and Mulcahy leaves (7.50). Another tasty winner, underlining the restaurant’s commitment to local and doing it well.
|Salmon & crab|
|Local food, local drink|
I had noted the duck from the outset. I could have it in the starters but picked this beauty: Breast of free range Carrigcleena duck, charred leek, beetroot and soy glaze, Oyster mushroom, date purée and rustic potato (23.00). Every little bit on the plate contributed; even those potatoes were something else.
We were both very happy at this point but still had the inclination for dessert and we shared one of the specials, the delightful Buttermilk and Brown Bread Parfait, rhubarb poached in Dingle Gin, and Rose Crumb (6.50).
And the service? Well that was excellent too, very friendly and helpful from start to finish. Go on. Give it a try. You'll feel right at home here.
Old Butter Roads Food Trail Festival
Launch April 29-30 in Blarney
A Food Festival to launch the Old Butter Roads Food Trails will take place in Blarney from 29/4 to 1/5 2017. The initiative is being developed by the producers, eateries and visitor attractions to celebrate the range of foods grown and produced in the Muskerry, Duhallow and Avondhu areas of County Cork. The idea started in Blarney through which the Old Butter Road used to bring produce from Kerry via Millstreet into the Butter Market in Shandon to serve the great maritime trade.
The Old Butter Roads Food Trail escorts visitors through the fertile valleys—the breadbasket of Co Cork—where the rich pasture lands provide the most wholesome and delicious dairy, meats, grains, fruit and vegetables in the country.
The Festival will start on Saturday 29/4 with butter making demonstrations at 12pm and 2pm at the Butter Museum. In Blarney there will be talks between 2pm of 4pm at the Hydro Farm Allotments near Tower on the importance of growing food. A pony and trap will leave the Hydro Farm Allotments to deliver milk churns, the symbols of the Old Butter Roads, to businesses involved in Blarney on the Saturday afternoon about 4pm and be displayed by businesses involved in the Food Trail throughout the year.
|Butter and Iron-age bread (by Declan Ryan)|
Michael Creed the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine will formally launch the Food Trail at the Church of Ireland, Blarney at 6pm on the Saturday, followed by food tasting from the producers and eateries of the trail.
On Sunday 30/4 there will be a ‘walk & talk’ with Tom O’Byrne at 2pm at the Clogheen Milken on the importance of the ecology. The Gab storytelling competition will take place at 3.30 in the Church of Ireland, followed by Smokin’ Good Time event at 6pm at the Old Blarney Post Office Café showcasing smoked produce of the area. Guest speakers include Tim McCarthy of Kanturk, Patrick Mulcahy of Ballinwillin House and Longueville Cider makers.
The Square Table restaurant Blarney will be hosting a food event at 8pm. It is a tasting menu which will showcase all the producers on the Old Butter Road Food Trail. The Farm in Grenagh is holding an open weekend with butter making demonstrations on Monday 1/5 – International Butter Day.
The Old Butter Roads Food Trail will host events in Kanturk, Macroom, Mallow and Mitchelstown in the following few months to celebrate the food and drink produce of the area.
For Further information Contact OldButterRoads@gmail.com
Maire ni Mhurchu Tricia Cronin Rupert Atkinson
Chairperson Secretary Mallow
Activity Days The Square Table Longueville House Beverages
Tim McCarthy Patrick Mulcahy Lenka Forrest
Kanturk Mitchelstown Treasurer
McCarthy’s Butchers Ballinwillin House The Old Blarney Post Office Cafe
12.00 & 2.30pm
Butter Making demonstration at Butter Museum, 1 O Connell Square Cork (beside Shandon Bells)at 12am and 2.30 pm (€4 entry)
Talks on growing foods at Hydro Allotments Blarney
Pony & Trap deliver butter churns to Blarney businesses, start at the Hydro Allotments and arrive in Blarney
Cobh Animations Ladies in the Square 5-7pm
Michael Creed the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine will formally launch the Food Trail at the Church of Ireland, Blarney at 6pm on the Saturday, followed by food tasting from the trail.
Film The Old Butter Roads by Jasper Wynn in garden of Old Post Office & food from members ( or Church of Ireland if raining)
Farm Grenagh Open day
Walk at Clogheen Milken Fenn with Tom o Byrne Ecologist on the importance of Balance of the Environment
Gab storytelling competition final on topic of ‘Old Butter Roads’ at the Church of Ireland Blarney organized by Toasmasters and the Gab. Free Event/donations
Smokin’ Good Time an event at the Old Blarney Post Office Café showcasing smoked produce from the Food Trail Area. Guest speakers amongst others include Tim McCasthy of Kanturk and master of the art of butchery and Patrick Mulcahy of Ballinwillin House. Delicious Longueville Cider will keep all refreshed.
Taste of the Old Butter Roads at the Square Table, Blarney (tasting menu showcasing all producers from the trail; pre booked €55)
Butter Day - Demonstration of Butter making at The Farm Grenagh all day
Week 1 May
Blarney Library - display of books on Cookery, Farming, Dairy Science and Old Ireland and Cookery Meeting to discuss cookery books on Wednesday am.
Thurs 4th Historical Society Magic, Faries and Stories at Secondary School
Sunday, April 9, 2017
Powers to all our Friends
Cork Whiskey Fest at Sober Lane
|The Powers be with you! Pic via Sober Lane|
Powers first made their mark on the Dublin whiskey as the 18th century closed and soon their concentration on quality saw them become the biggest in the capital.
Quality was always to the fore and it was because of concerns that the “brand” was being damaged that led to the founder’s grandson deciding to bottle their own, rather than have it bottled exclusively by middlemen or publicans. And this was where the gold label started; it indicated that the whiskey inside was bottled by the distillery.
That, by the way, was in 1866, about 100 years before Jameson bottled. Powers were always innovative and their release of the miniature bottle, the “Baby Powers”, was a world first.
The current Gold Label was our first sip of the night. Michael advised “when smelling, keep mouth slightly open”. Spice, sweetness and oak and the barley of course all combine to make this whiskey a real pleasure.
By the 1880s, Power were very popular. They were great record keepers too and most of the old recipes survive and that made it easy for Irish Distillers in Midleton (where Powers is now produced) to recreate the old styles. The Three Swallows is triple distilled (like all Irish whiskeys) and is a relaxed and gentler whiskey, according to Michael. It is a true pot still style, smooth and complex, the intrinsic Irish style. The Swallows, by the way, are the whiskey equivalent of the stars on a brandy bottle.
Now we were moving on up to the Signature Release. “Very delicate on the nose… very active..zesty..on the palate..you know you're drinking whiskey”. It has a higher abv of 46%, “one of the reasons for that lovely zip on the tongue…we used only 2nd and 3rd fill bourbon barrels for this.” He emphasised that this was regarded as a grown-ups whiskey, maybe even old-fashioned “but now becoming modern again!”.
Then it was the turn of a favourite of mine, the John's Lane Release, “full bodied, spice upfront, followed by vanilla, honey and dried apricot”. John’s Lane is where the Powers Distillery was in Dublin and it was first made here by Barry Crockett in the 1970s. “This is a big whiskey, big on flavour. By the way, the 12 years refers to the youngest whiskey in the bottle.”
While the gold label is a blend, the other three are Single Pot Still Whiskey, Irish of course! Having done the talk, Michael showed he could walk the walk as he demonstrated his cocktail making skills by making an Old Fashioned. He had a one big tip. “In cocktails, don’t use your expensive whiskeys! Use the Gold Label. It has a lovely sweetness to balance the sours.”
Then there was an exodus to the smoking area to try out the Punch Cigars along with a 12 year old Powers Gold Label. I split with the smokes back in 1994. I did of course sample the whiskey, another family gem. Like the opening Gold Label, this is a blend with a good amount of pot still content and some very old whiskeys as well. Heard that it is going off the market in the near future so best to get your hands on a bottle or two before then.
Big thanks to Powers, to Michael, and to Dee and crew at Sober Lane. Not alone did we enjoy the whiskey but they came up with trays of delicious sliders as the enjoyable evening came to a close. Here’s to the next Cork Whiskey festival!
Saturday, April 8, 2017
Muddy Waters, too, sometimes played with the travelling medicine shows that passed through Mississippi…..
Elsewhere, in the 1940s and 50s, black musicians were often only able to tour through a segregated United States on the ‘chitlin circuit’ - ‘a string of black-owned honky-tonks, night clubs, and theaters’- so-called because the venues also served up chitlins (chitterlings) and other soul food. In that pre-civil rights era, this circuit sustained the careers of performers such as James Brown, B.B. King, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin.
From Easy Riders, Rolling Stones (on the road in America, from Delta Blues to 70s Rock) by John Scanlan (2015)
Thursday, April 6, 2017
Maria’s Up and Running
So here you are in the kitchen with this lot in front of you: Salmon, sugar snaps, mint, new potatoes, Toonsbridge feta, butternut squash, lime dressing. What to do? Well, check with Maria Raftery, the owner-chef at Kernel, Kilkenny’s newest restaurant. She grilled the salmon and put all the other ingredients together in a magical manner to produce one of the best salmon dishes you're likely to come across.
It is one of the main dishes on the new menu at the restaurant which has taken up most of the front of the Kilkenny Inn on Vicar Street. And the dish, and others, amply illustrate that Maria has lost none of her innovative qualities that shone through over 17 years at Zuni, also in Kilkenny.
Back to our visit. While CL was finishing off the salmon and singing its praises, I was tucking into something a little less complicated: the Kernel Angus Beef Burger, smoked Gubbeen, burger sauce, pickle-slaw, house fries. Less complicated maybe but still a perfect combination of textures and flavours.
|Ham Hock Scotch Egg|
CL had started the meal with Goatsbridge Trout Ceviche, Nori Seaweed, Smoked Trout Mousse, Roe Dressing. Hard to beat that. You’ll notice that Kernel has started by supporting local producers and Goatsbridge Trout Farm is one of the best.
I didn't do too badly either with my Ham Hock Scotch Egg, Piccalilli. Lacked nothing in either quantity or quality, full of good flavour and a really satisfying opening to my visit to Kernel.The dessert list is short but still left us puzzled, a puzzle we solved by ordering the Assiette of Desserts, a sweet solution.
They’ve got a pretty good wine list, three suppliers contributing to a good balance overall. We made a bit of a compromise, an enjoyable one, on the Cantina Frentana, Montepulciano D’Abbruzo, fruity and smooth, and twenty five euro the bottle.
|Dessert - for sharing!|
Had noticed a few (quite a few actually) craft beers on the list including Franciscan Well, Costello’s, O’Hara’s, Free Bird and Hop Adventure (both from Carlow) and Falling Apple Cider (also Carlow). The taps on the bar heralded the three variations of Smithwick's (Red Ale, Pale Ale and the Blonde) but I'm sorry I missed out on the tap for O’Sullivan’s Malted Red Ale, a local beer (now revived) that was produced before Smithwick started in 1710. Next time!
Wednesday, April 5, 2017
In the heart of Chianti
If Tuscany is the centre of the Italian Wine Universe (as declared by Vino Italiano) then Chianti Classico is its heart. Chianti itself is a vast area in Tuscany with Pisa and Siena among its best known cities. Chianti Classico DOCG, situated on the hills between Florence and Siena, is tiny by comparison.
Hugh Johnson, writing in The Finest Wines of Tuscany (2009), says the revolution of Tuscan wines began over 40 years ago and is still on-going. “It is the New World within the Old, questioning, experimenting all the time, with ever-rising standards.” Looks like there is a lot more to this story.
Sangiovese is central Italy’s most important red grape and the main grape in Chianti where Grapes and Wines note Terrabianca as one of the top producers. It is also the base of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino and Morellino di Scansano.
Terrabianca Scassino Chianti Classico (DOCG), 13.5%, €22.70 Karwig Wines
The estate is ancient (mentioned as far back as 1085) but Roberto and Maja Guldener started here only in 1988. Now, after much hard work, some of their wines, including this one, are well-known in “many countries all over the world”. Not bad going for a couple that left the city (Zurich) to live in the countryside.
The blend is 97% Sangiovese with 3% Canaiolo. It has spent 8 months in Slovenian oak and three months in bottle before release.
It is a vibrant cherry red, clear and bright. The inviting aromas are a mix of fruit (led by raspberry and cherry). It is fresh and supple, with moderate spice, fine tannins, a really pleasant experience on the palate, a well made Chianti, with typical fragrance and fruit, with a firm backbone and a long lasting finish. Very Highly Recommended.
Fattoria di Rodáno Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2011, 14.5%, €20.45 Le Caveau
This blend of 90% Sangiovese and five per cent each of Colorino (with its deep dark colouring) and Canaiolo (also used in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano) is produced by the Pozzesi family on an organically run hill-top vineyard in Tuscany. It is oak-aged in large Slovenian botti di rovere but this is really “little more than a seasoning”.
Colour is a bright cherry red and ripe red and darker fruits are prominent in the aromas. Flavours of plum and cherry are found on the palate of this medium bodied wine, spice too. Tannins though rounded are still a factor and even more so is the typical mouth-watering acidity. The elegant finish persists. This impeccably balanced wine is Highly Recommended.
See also (from my current Italian mini-series):
Wines of Italy's Marche
From the islands of Sicily and Sardinia
Sweet Favourite of the Romans. Still Going Strong.
From the islands of Sicily and Sardinia
Sweet Favourite of the Romans. Still Going Strong.
Barolo and Amarone. Two Italians Worth Knowing
Montepulciano and Montepulciano confused?
Pinot Grigio, one of the most popular grapes.
Montepulciano and Montepulciano confused?
Pinot Grigio, one of the most popular grapes.
Montenotte Hotel Whiskey Battle
|Let battle commence!|
Last night I took part in a “battle”, a whiskey battle that is, in the Montenotte Hotel. It was all part of the Cork Whiskey Festival. There is a terrific view over the city from the hotel's bar but I was concentrating on the three beauties in front of me.
They were staging three “battles” in all, each involving an Irish, a Scotch and an American Whiskey. I could have had a Jameson, Glenfiddich, and Bulleit Bourbon for €15.00 or a Red Breast 15 year Old, Laphroaig 10 year old Single Malt and Maker’s 46 for €35.00.
But I picked the €25.00 trio of Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey, Bowmore 12 Year Old and the Knob Creek Bourbon. There was no further info available as info sheets hadn't turned up.
So, with an open mind, if an amateur one as regards whiskey, I got down to work, a glass of water at the side. Tasted the three in the above order and was quite pleased with the Irish and the Scotch. The initial meeting with the Knob Creek, by Jim Beam, seemed fine but I found something of an alcohol burn on the finish.
Tried them all neat again, this time with an emphasis on the aromas. And that's when the peat began to bother me. As Henry VIII said about one of the ladies he was about to marry: “I like her not!”. And, there was to be no cure for it, only a divorce!
But there was a cure for the Bourbon: a few drops of good old Cork water brought a very acceptable smoothness to the finish. Took my time after that and finished off all three.
And the final verdict? I declare the Green Spot, a superb whiskey, finished in a selection of ex-bourbon (ironically) and ex-sherry casks, and so well balanced, the winner of this particular battle. Slainte!
Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Taste of the Week
It was love at first sight in a crowded Kilkenny cafe on a Saturday morning. I had eyes only for The Jaffa Orange, one of many sweet sensations created in the shop by CakeFace Pastry in Irishtown under the shadow of the cathedral. Couldn't wait to get her home and demolish that dark choc and orange mousse, with an orange centre on a crunchy base. Was that dark one my Taste of the Week?
Maybe. Because once Jaffa was over, I turned my attentions to the blonde, the Cherries Dark Forrest, a Luxurious White Choc Mousse and Kirsch mousse on a sour cherry jelly and chocolate sponge. Taste of the Week?
And there are many more Tastes of the Week where this delicious duo come from: Raspberry velveteen, Rhubarb Rose, Passionate Tart. Neither you nor I can lose here. Of course, you may eat your choice in the cafe and the coffee is good too.
Monday, April 3, 2017
Cork’s Radisson BLU Hotel Reveals Luxurious New Ground Floor Revamp
Restaurant is renamed Maestro’s’
Had many an enjoyable evening in Little Island while growing up nearby but last Thursday's event in the Cork Radisson Blu, as they revealed its luxurious ground floor revamp and officially renamed the lovely new restaurant Maestro's, was rather unique.
There was a little nervousness among the Radisson crew early on but soon that dissipated as the guests began to enjoy the occasion. We were greeted warmly with champagne, wines and cocktails.
We were soon seated and the music added to the feel-good mood. The restaurant staff took the chance to show their paces and there were tables groaning with all kinds of goodies. Lots of them!
Elke O'Mahony recommended the chowder and she was spot-on! It was excellent, perhaps my favourite too. But then the dish alongside it, Salmon Chorizo risotto, also had its fans. Even the bangers and mash were high class. Indeed there was something for everyone, especially when those desserts appeared. Oh my!
A few short speeches then from Shane Fitzpatrick, the hotel's General Manager and from Colette Walsh, Director of Sales & Marketing. Then it was time for fun and games and prizes galore to be won. The big prize was, of course, for renaming the beautiful new restaurant where we were seated.
The hotel ran a renaming contest on social media. Suggestions came through in their hundreds, with people offering names both on social media and at the hotel itself.
After weeks of deliberation, the team of judges decided to opt for a name that was put forward by a guest staying at the hotel. The successful entrant chose the title ‘Maestro’s’ and given that the restaurant is a finely-tuned machine that is operated with care and with a friendly but professional approach, the name seemed to be the perfect fit.
With the winner opting to stay anonymous, Shane, the General Manager, decided that the amazing prize of dinner for two for a full year should go to a worthy cause. “We discussed how best to allocate the prize given the circumstances and it was unanimously agreed that it would be a well-deserved treat for the dedicated staff of Cork University Hospital,” Shane revealed. “They collectively do such great work and we would love to reward them in any way we can, so we will be offering the prize to them and we hope they will use it and enjoy it as they see fit!”
While he delighted in awarding such a hard-working team, Shane himself received a phenomenal accolade at the recent Shining Star Awards at the Park Inn by Radisson, Heathrow Airport. Fending off stiff competition in a category that included all GMs from Rezidor in the Western Europe region, comprising approximately 60 hotels, Shane scooped the title of ‘General Manager of the Year’. The prestigious award reflects his exceptional approach over the past 12 months to team building and development, customer service and financial excellence.
Speaking at the launch event, Colette Walsh, Director of Sales & Marketing, revealed Shane's win and paid tribute to her colleague’s amazing achievement and praised both his work ethic and motivational approach.
Also clearly delighted with the success of the hotel’s launch event, Colette said: “We are so thrilled with how successful our launch event has been and more so, we are ecstatic with the reaction of those who attended. Now that we have officially revealed our new look, we can’t wait to welcome both new and regular customers and to give them a taster of what the ‘new and improved’ Radisson BLU Cork has to offer. We are prouder than ever as a team to show off our beautiful hotel!”
The significant project, which incorporated The Great Island Ballroom, the chic hotel lobby, stylish Banks Bar and over 40 bedrooms, culminated in the complete revamp of the hotel’s restaurant. Now sophisticatedly adorned with plush carpets, mahogany furniture and brown leather booths, the restaurant is the cherry on top of the hotel’s brand new look.
Of course, I had to check out that stylish bar too. Having been in quite a few hotels who didn’t offer Irish craft drinks over the past week, I was delighted that the first thing I saw was the trio of taps for the Franciscan Well beers. Great to see this leading international chain supporting local and I drank to their future success with a delicious pint of Chieftain Pale Ale. Cheers Radisson! Here’s to many more years in Little Island.
For bookings and enquiries, visit www.radissonblu.com/en/hotel-cork or call 021 4297000