Thursday, December 24, 2009

HAPPY CHRISTMAS


Away from the shops today at an icy Fota - see n-ice set of pics at http://corkandabout.blogspot.com Happy Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

BITS OF FOOD LIT

ODD FOOD BITS

"It is not uncommon for a bottle of Lafite ’96 to fetch a couple of thousand dollars more at auction in China that it would in Europe. Many (?) Chinese enjoy the showmanship of presenting important guests with this kind of celebrity wine, and my favourite aspect of it all is that many prefer to take it with a splash of coke.” From Around the World in 80 Trades by Conor Woodman.

“Wang Long’s mother works in a foreigners’ hotel..... She told me that foreigners are really wasteful. They throw away the tea bags after just one cup. And the tea isn’t good enough for them – they have to add milk before they can drink it.”
 From Beijing Coma by Ma Jian.


"Gregory the Great always used to recommend making the sign of the cross over a lettuce in case you swallowed a demon that happened to be perched on it leaves.”
From The Holy Mountain by William Dalrymple.


“Ham and Eggs: A day’s work for a chicken. A lifetime commitment for a pig.”
From Ronnie Moore’s 2009 Calendar.


In Michael Eaude’s Catalonia he refers to a mediaeval recipe for Roast Cat which involved roasting the animal in oil, garlic and herbs. The brains, by the way, were removed before cooking.

In the 1840s, a Florida physician named John Gorrie, trying to cool the rooms where patients were suffering from yellow fever, figured out how to make ice using mechanical refrigeration, paving the way for household refrigerators that appeared in American homes en masse in the 1920s and 1930s
Read more:
http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1862562,00.html#ixzz0YKancgNq


 “......a woman held up a duck whose throat she had cut and stroked her gently while a little girl held up a cup to catch the blood for making gravy. The duck seemed very contented and, when they put her down, she waddled twice and found that she was dead. We ate her later, stuffed and roasted.”
Hemingway, describing a visit to Miro’s summer home near Barcelona.

GUBBEEN SMOKEHOUSE SAUSAGES




GUBBEEN SMOKEHOUSE



Many of you will be familiar with Gubbeen cheese products. But how about the sausages from their smokehouse?
Bought a couple of packs from their stall in the Mahon Point Farmer’s Market today and tried out the ones with Sun Dried Tomato, Basil and Garlic. Absolutely lovely. Great texture, great flavour, all preceded by a lovely smell while cooking.
Looking forward to the second pack - tomorrow!

Mahon Point Farmers Market in Cork


MAHON POINT FARMER’S MARKET
Been a regular visitor to the Mahon Point Farmers Market but it continues to surprise. It was very frosty today, the start of a 3 day market stint up to Christmas Eve.
Some of the Thursday regulars were missing. Ballycotton Fish were there with some fine fresh fish. Moved on then to the nearby cheese stall and settled on the cheddar by Hegarty’s of Whitechurch. Picked up some gorgeous smoked sausages from Gubbeen Smokehouse and some chilli products (in jelly form) from Rebel Chilli before finishing with some inviting veg from the Burns Farm stall.

Despite the fact that a few of the regulars were missing, there was much more to see and buy here. The people serving at the various stalls are invariably in good form and helpful. For a full listing of stalls and products and updates go to http://www.mahonpointfarmersmarket.com/#/stalls/4532446411

Check out my review of Mahon Point Farmer's Market - I am cork - on Qype

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bubble Brothers in Cork


BUBBLE BROTHERS

Pleasantly surprised when picking up an order this week from Bubble Brothers store in Centre Park Road as the budget reduction of 60 cent per bottle had been applied. Sixty cent may not seem that great but when it is applied to a couple of cases, it can make quite a difference. Well done to Bubble and indeed to the other wine sellers who have rapidly applied the tax cut. I also noticed it in my pint at the Cotton Ball (did you see their Christmas lights?) last night.
Bubble Brothers, as you may know, have quite a selection at Centre Park Road. They have a lot less room at the English Market but they make the best of it. I suppose the rule would be: the Market for a bottle or two, Centre Park Road (easy parking) for a case or two. In any event, the same high standards of service and courtesy apply.
I’m looking forward to the Xanadu Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon, one of the cases I picked up this week. Came across it at the Good Wine Show and thought it was a winner.

Check out my review of Bubble Brothers - I am cork - on Qype

2009 MY BEST PLACES


BEST OF 2009

2009 REVIEW
A personal list from restaurants visited this year. Sorry I couldn't get to all. Maybe it's just as well - I'd be fat or broke, maybe both



MY FAVOURITE RESTAURANTS

Les Gourmandises

Fenns Quay



HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

The Continental

The Woodside



ALSO RECOMMENDED

Market Lane

Rising Tide

Soho



BEST FISH RESTAURANT

Fishy Fishy



BEST ASIAN RESTAURANT

Kudos (in the Clarion)



BEST SOUP

French Onion soup, with Gruyere and croutons (Market Lane)



BEST STARTER

Tomato Broth, served with a Gin Cream (Woodside).

Tomato and brie pot (Fenns Quay)



BEST MAIN COURSE

Duck in Plum Sauce (Continental)

Ham Hock (Les Gourmandises)



BEST DESSERT

Bread and butter pudding with whisky soaked raisins (Fleva Kilkenny)

Fresh fruit trifle, layered in a glass cup (Fishy Fishy)



RESTAURANT WISHES

A: That Brittany Ferries would open a land version (in Ringaksiddy or thereabouts) of Le Flora, the restaurant on board their Cork-Roscof ferry Pont Aven.

B: That Le Cottage and La Foret be beamed across from the north banks of the Gironde estuary to the North Bank of the Lee (preferably above flood levels!).

C: Fishy Fishy to open to city.

Ying's Palace in Cork



YING’S PALACE   
Made an overdue visit to Ying’s Palace Chinese Restaurant last night and found it even better value than previously and that without any drop at all in quality.
I usually go for one of the set meals. They have one at less than 16 euro and three between twenty and twenty three euro.
We (these set meals are for two minimum) started with the prawn crackers and then had the soup, followed by shredded duck with little pancakes, salad and sauce. Main course consisted of two sizzling dishes: beef on one, king prawns on the other, both gorgeous.
With these menus, you get a free glass of wine each and house wines start at €4.90 a glass. Coffee was included in the price and they also surprised us with some beautifully cut fresh fruit as a dessert (not on the menu). And another surprise on the way out when we presented with a Chinese calendar on a scroll.
Nice restaurant and nice people. The takeaway does very well indeed but is a shame that more don't take advantage of this excellent restaurant where the prices are very reasonable indeed.

Check out my review of Ying's Palace - I am cork - on Qype

Friday, December 18, 2009

Costa Coffee in Killarney

COSTA COFFEE
Costa Coffee shops are springing up around Cork city but my first visit to one came in Killarney yesterday when we called to their place in the local Outlet Centre.
Comfortable seats, plus a recommendation from our local “guide” beckoned us in and I enjoyed my cup of Americano. Took a medium but it was actually quite large . It cost €2.90 and tasted very well indeed.
There is no table service here. You go to the counter and pick up your coffee and scone or whatever. If you’re not into coffee they serve a wide range of alternatives including hot chocolate, teas and infusions, iced coffees and frescato.

Check out my review of Costa Coffee - I am cork - on Qype

Julian Graves in Killarney



JULIAN GRAVES
Julian Graves is one of the outlets operating in the Killarney Outlet centre. Quite a choice here of nuts, seeds, sweets, fruits and so on. “A bit of what you fancy” as they say themselves.
Quite a choice but are you really getting a discount here? Take their Liquorice All Sorts. Regular cost in the UK is £3.99 (£2.99 on the website). In Killarney it is €4.59. Yesterday, there was a 20 per cent discount which brought it down to €3.59.
Discount or not, I was tempted and bought a 750g bag.

Check out my review of Julian Graves - I am cork - on Qype

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

TURKEY AND ALL THAT

Christmas Food - Where Our Christmas Dinner Comes FromIn a podcast, Regina Sexton, food and culinary historian from University College Cork and the author of A Little History of Irish Food, discusses the topic...at  http://ow.ly/MIcT and then click on podcasts

Tipperary Mushrooms in Cork

TIPPERARY MUSHROOMS
Got some really large flat mushrooms at the Tipperary Mushrooms stall in Mahon Point recently. They have various dressings available. I got chorizo and mozzarella.
They make a decent starter but don't expect too much of the dressings. The cheese was a very very thin slice and the sausage bits were minute. Still the taste was there and they went down well.

Check out my review of Tipperary Mushrooms - I am cork - on Qype

Killumney Inn in Cork

KILLUMNEY INN
About 30 of us descended on Mike Sheahan’s Killumney Inn last night for a works re-union. The efficient barman kept the drinks flowing and our host came up trumps with baskets of decent finger-food including some very nice chicken pieces which went down well with my stout.
The Killumney Inn, a long established bar and restaurant complex just off the main Cork-Macroom road (near EMC), is a popular venue and can be very busy for weekend lunches. Mr Sheahan, a hands on host, was in fine form. He sponsors the local soccer team, Killumney Utd, and reckons they could come up trumps this season.

Check out my review of Killumney Inn - I am cork - on Qype

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hedermans Smoked Fish in Cork


HEDERMAN’S SMOKED FISH
First came across Frank Hederman’s smoked fish when I bought some eel from his stall at the Farmers’ Market in Midleton a couple of years back.

They still do the Farmers’ Markets ay Cobh and Midleton and, in addition, can now be found in the English Market.
Called there today and bought some smoked mackerel, one dressed with a chilli flavour, the other with Piri Piri. Used them with beetroot in a starter. Lovely.

Check out my review of Hedermans Smoked Fish - I am cork - on Qype

The Good Food Shop in Cork

THE GOOD FOOD SHOP
The Good Food Shop in the English Market has a huge stock but I was on the hunt for one of the first batches of Ummera Smoked Duck, recently trialled at various food events. Didn’t really expect it to be available as the producers hadn’t flagged its availability in the city on their site or on twitter.

But lo and behold. There were two little packages at €5.99 each. Grabbed them quickly. The helpful lady at the till had been previously mightily impressed by Ummera’s smoked chicken and salmon but was wondering about the duck. Assured her it was absolutely gorgeous and it is!

Check out my review of The Good Food Shop - I am cork - on Qype

The Chocolate Shop in Cork

The Chocolate Shop
You could miss the chocolate shop in the English Market but once you find it you will never miss it again.
It is a small packed treasure trove of all things chocolate, a must see destination for choc lovers.
Their own say: “Independent of any chocolate manufacturer or franchise, we are free to source the best quality artisan chocolate from the best chocolate manufacturers throughout the world.”
Picked up some truffles there today: Baileys and Amaretto, 60 cent a piece. Gorgeous. I loved both, but I have to say the Baileys was the favourite in this house.

Check out my review of The Chocolate Shop - I am cork - on Qype

Sheehan Butchers in Cork


SHEEHAN BUTCHERS
Sheehan Butchers have made considerable improvements to their St Luke’s shop in recent years. With huge new cold counters installed, it is now big and bright and the friendly service is as good as ever.

You can get all your meat requirements here. The meats are sourced locally. It doesn’t stop at meat – it is also a very good stop for other related items, including things like marinated pork products, meat balls, chicken and beef on skewers and so on. They also sell potatoes and watch out for the excellent rashers (packed by Ballincollig Bacon Slicers).
Keep, an eye also for special promotions. On my very recent visit, they had 25 per cent off the price of everything. Great value.

Check out my review of Eugene Sheehan - I am cork - on Qype

Saturday, December 12, 2009

BEST OF 2009

2009 REVIEW
A personal list from restaurants visited this year. Sorry I couldn't get to all. Maybe it's just as well - I'd be fat or broke, maybe both



MY FAVOURITE RESTAURANTS

Les Gourmandises

Fenns Quay



HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

The Continental

The Woodside



ALSO RECOMMENDED

Market Lane

Rising Tide

Soho



BEST FISH RESTAURANT

Fishy Fishy



BEST ASIAN RESTAURANT

Kudos (in the Clarion)



BEST SOUP

French Onion soup, with Gruyere and croutons (Market Lane)



BEST STARTER

Tomato Broth, served with a Gin Cream (Woodside).

Tomato and brie pot (Fenns Quay)



BEST MAIN COURSE

Duck in Plum Sauce (Continental)

Ham Hock (Les Gourmandises)



BEST DESSERT

Bread and butter pudding with whisky soaked raisins (Fleva Kilkenny)

Fresh fruit trifle, layered in a glass cup (Fishy Fishy)



RESTAURANT WISHES

A: That Brittany Ferries would open a land version (in Ringaksiddy or thereabouts) of Le Flora, the restaurant on board their Cork-Roscof ferry Pont Aven.

B: That Le Cottage and La Foret be beamed across from the north banks of the Gironde estuary to the North Bank of the Lee (preferably above flood levels!).

C: Fishy Fishy to open to city.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Long Valley Bar in Cork


THE LONG VALLEY
The Long Valley is a longish narrow pub with a shortish very narrow toilet (gents, haven’t seen the ladies loo!). They say they make the best sandwiches in the world but it was little too early for lunch when I called for a cup of coffee. Got it straight away from the friendly lady and it cost a saucy enough €2.30 considering that it was just an ordinary coffee and that , a few yards away, the Old Oak will give you an ordinary coffee and a scone for 2 euro.
Still there was nothing wrong with it and I enjoyed it as I have enjoyed a few pints there over the years, though this fairly basic establishment is not everyone's cup of tea. Especially those who like their comfort! But it is central.

Check out my review of Long Valley Bar - I am cork - on Qype

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Moran Silversprings Hotel in Cork


MORAN SILVERSPRINGS HOTEL
Silversprings Hotel is full of surprises. It is a fine hotel with all the usual facilities. Great place for large groups, such as dinner dances and weddings. I’ve enjoyed a few there. The restaurant is not bad either and they have an early bird (€19.95 for 2 courses) on at the moment.
My latest visit to the Eoin Daly managed venue came last night to take part in the Raising Cork Quiz, the hastily but so well organised quiz in aid of the local flood victims. TV and Radio personality George Hook put in a stamina sapping shift and still had enough steam left to snap the final tie with the wisdom and incisiveness of a Pattwell!
It was quite a success, prizes galore, and some €25,000 was raised on the night to be distributed by St Vincent de Paul. Take a bow – all two hundred tables – and especially organisers H&A Marketing who put the impressive show on the road in less than ten days.

Check out my review of Moran Silversprings Hotel - I am cork - on Qype

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gubbeen Cheese in Cork


GUBBEEN CHEESE
Gubbeen farmhouse cheese is one of the best known in Ireland and marketed internationally by the small family company from West Cork. Picked some up recently at the Farmers Market in Mahon Point and it is really really good, up there with the best of them.
They also do a smoked version and, more recently, have produced other smoked items such as rashers, sausages and salami. Will be calling again!

Check out my review of Gubbeen Cheese - I am cork - on Qype - includes contact details and map

Sunday, December 6, 2009

GEORGE HOOK WANTS YOU

Spread the word about about the Raising Cork quiz and help people affected by the recent floods - www.raisingcork.com


Day: Monday 7th
Time: 7.00pm Registration ; 8.00pm start
Prizes: a shedload, including jersey and ball signed by Pele
Quizmaster: George Hook

Enter your team at above link.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Fenns Quay in Cork



FENNS QUAY
Enjoyed an excellent “Early Dinner” at Fenns Quay Friday night. They live up to their “simple philosophy”: use only the best produce from the best local suppliers and treat it with care and attention to detail.
The attention starts the moment you walk in as the service is friendly, professional and discreet. The early dinner offer is a 3 course meal for €27.50.
Started with a tasty tomato and brie pot. Mains was venison in a terrific sauce with vegetables, almost like a stew, and we finished off with a melt in the mouth lemon pot with caramelised pears, accompanied by a blackberry sorbet.
Fenns Quay has a good wine list, quite a few by the glass, and we really enjoyed the Spanish Bodegas Castano Monastrell 2007. Aside from the Early Dinner menu, you can also go a la carte and both menus are supplemented by regular specials, all very tempting! For the season thats in it, there is also a Christmas menu.

Check out my review of No.5 Fenn's Quay - I am cork - on Qype

Friday, December 4, 2009

Riverview Cafe in Cork



RIVERVIEW CAFE
Fitzgerald’s Park may be soggy and the Cork City Museum may be closed but the floods haven’t beaten the Riverview cafe and it is open for business.
Had a stroll though the park this morning and called in for coffee and a scone, cost €4.30. Not the cheapest. But service and quality was good in the uncrowded venue. It was getting busier as I left.

In busy times, you have the opportunity of ordering online (orders@riverviewcafe.ie) or by phone.

Check out my review of Riverview Cafe - I am cork - on Qype  More pics from the park at http://corkandabout.blogspot.com/

FITZGERALD'S PARK

Today's Walk in the Park, latest pics at http://corkandabout.blogspot.com/

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tesco Ireland in Mahon Point


TESCO
Tesco at Mahon Point is one of the biggest supermarkets in the county. Aside from the clothing and electrical departments, the choice in food is staggering.
Take Balsamic Vinegar for instance; prices here ranged from one euro to close to twelve for aged varieties.
Range of wine too is impressive. Got a couple of bottles, including a Tarrango by Brown Brothers for old time’s sake. This unusual variety, which I first came across a few years ago when the brothers (sisters actually) came to town to show off their produce.
It is a red that may be chilled. Liked it then and no reason why I shouldn't like it now, especially that the price has been cut.

Check out my review of Tesco Ireland - I am cork - on Qype

O'Driscoll's Fresh Fish in Cork


O’DRISCOLL’S FRESH FISH
The first thing that always strikes me in the Mahon Point farmer’s market, at least if I come to it via the shopping complex, is the queue at O’Driscoll’s Fresh Fish (who today had four on duty, two filleting like mad). The Schull based outfit seem to thrive while nearby Ballycotton Fish, offering the same fish at the same prices, seem to be much quieter. Location! Location!
They sell the fish by the bag, fiver for a bag of whiting, a fiver also for a big bag of hake or haddock. Looks good value but I’d prefer price per kilo written up. Got some hake and John Dory. Next time though, I’ll weigh up the queue, maybe head for the rivals. Time is precious.

Check out my review of O'Driscoll's Fresh Fish - I am cork - on Qype

Magpie Cottage Dairy in Cork






MAGPIE COTTAGE DAIRY
The Magpie Cottage Dairy runs a little goat’s cheese products stall at the Mahon Point Farmers Market each Thursday (10.00am to 3.00pm). Magpie has two main items, each in a jar. One is a herby cheese in balls in sunflower oil and the other is the cheese with the addition of sundried tomato. The jars are dated and the product will keep well, even after opening.
Having previously sampled the Tomato version, we picked the plainer jar this time and may well indeed follow the recipe we heard from the man in the stall: put some cheese into your chicken breast, wrap it up with Parma ham or similar and you’re on your way to a lovely dish.

Check out my review of Magpie Cottage Dairy - I am cork - on Qype

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Rising Tide in Cork




THE RISING TIDE
Had a ball at a birthday party in the harbourside Rising Tide at the weekend and all ten in the party agreed. Great staff, courtesy and good humour very evident; they even volunteered to take group photos, all very much appreciated.
Food wasn't half bad either. Decent selection of mains from about €15.00 to mid 20s. All excellent as were starters and desserts. House wines started from 20 euro and were fit for purpose.
Very enjoyable overall and would recommend the Glounthaune venue. Watch out for their Christmas parties at €40.00 – should be well worth it. Recent customer Lady Gaga enjoyed her visit here!

Check out my review of The Rising Tide - I am cork - on Qype

O'Connells Fish Stall in Cork


KAY O’CONNELL’S FISH
O’Connell’s Fish stall is by far the biggest of the (too few) fish outlets in Cork’s English Market, supplementing their extensive stock of fresh fish (usually brought up from Castletownbeare that morning) with quite a few fish products such as kippers and continental style fish soup.
Service is efficient and friendly and the staff are always ready for a bit of banter. Got some salmon and sea-bass there today from the well iced counter.
Fish is quite expensive in the market and I often wish for more competition.

Check out my review of O'Connells Fish Stall - I am cork - on Qype

Grand Parade Boardwalk in Cork



GRAND PARADE BOARDWALK
The newly completed Boardwalk at the South Mall end of the Grand Parade is not the biggest in the world but it has its uses.
If the day is fine, you can sit down and have a drink or snack, and enjoy the views. To the left you look down the south channel of the River Lee towards the Holy Trinity Church. In front, you may watch the world go by over the pedestrian bridge and to the right, you have a fine view of the South Gate Bridge with St Fin Barre's Cathedral looming over it.
The coffee dock is yet to open but that will add to the facility and enhance your break from work, shopping or sightseeing.

Check out my review of Grand Parade Boardwalk - I am cork - on Qype

The Barn in Cork



THE BARN
The Barn is one of the old reliables in Cork. I went there the other evening to try out their €25.00 early bird menu.
The Egg Mimosa (with garden salad and balsamic vinegar) looked the most exciting of the four starters (plus soup) available but I enjoyed my Salmon Fish Cake and the Classic Duck and Chicken Liver Pate also went down well.
The old reliables were wheeled out for the main course. You could choose from Pork Steak, Sirloin (3 euro extra), Salmon and Chicken, also a Beef Pie. They came as ordered. My steak was perfectly cooked and the Salmon with veg and a warm potato salad was “absolutely beautiful”. The Beef Pie was quite substantial.
Three desserts were served at the table – they don’t bring their famous trolley to the Early Birds! All three were fine. I really enjoyed my Mango Cheesecake, the Rich Chocolate Cake was seen off but perhaps the best of the three was the Pavlova (the real thing) with fresh fruit and Crème Anglaise.
There is a high standard of friendly service here and, with the restaurant less than quarter full (On a Thursday night), we were well catered for but in an unobtrusive way, with an adequate two queries during the meal (is everything okay?).
Wine prices have dropped to the Early Bird level and we enjoyed an easy drinking Shiraz from OZ (GB 56 2007) for €20.00. The spacious Barn is very comfortable – some find it a little old fashioned but it had many devotees. And the smokers among the regulars will be glad to see that a new “smoking room” is nearing completion.

Check out my review of The Barn - I am cork - on Qype

Cork's Christmas Market

MARKET MUSIC


CORK CHRISTMAS MARKET
Cork’s Grade Parade is the venue for the city’s Christmas market over the next three weekends.
It opened with a fanfare last Friday, coinciding with the switching on of the Christmas lights. The highlight here is a so called winter garden, designed by the well known wedding designer Franc who has transformed Bishops Lucey Park into something of a wonderland, open only between 5.00 and 8.00pm Fri-Sun.
The trees are lit up and here and there are groups of reindeers drawing sleighs of light, illuminated “gazebos” where young and old (there is mistletoe hanging there) can have photos taken; here too the kiddies can take a ride on a carnival roundabout and leave a letter for Santa.
The market “showcases the best of local food and crafts” – how Chinese made trinkets fall into the category is beyond me - in some fifty stalls stretching from the park to the river. So off you go. Maybe you’ll solve your present problems. At the very least, enjoy the music and the magic in the subdued lighting of the park. And mind that mistletoe! Mrs Santa could be waiting for you.

Check out my review of Cork's Christmas Market - I am cork - on Qype
See Mike Hannon's market video at: http://www.vimeo.com/8282906

HELP FLOOD VICTIMS

HELP CORK FLOOD VICTIMS


PELE SIGNED JERSEYS AND BALLS ARE SOME OF THE PRIZES IN NEXT MONDAY'S FUND-RAISER IN SILVERSPRINGS

Get the details at http://raisingcork.com/blog/

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sallymills in Limerick


SALLYMILLS
Called to one (at least one) of the food stalls at the Grand Parade Christmas Market, occupied by Sallymills, cake makers from Limerick.
Picked up a couple of their tartlets, one with berries, and another with apple. The standard is quite similar to Heaven’s Cakes. Cost 2 euro each and worth it.
They do artisan cakes, desserts, wedding cakes etc and also deliver.

Check out my review of Sallymills - I am cork - on Qype

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Ashburton Bar in Cork


THE ASHBURTON BAR

Warm. Comfortable. Friendly. Cosy.
All words that could be applied to the Ashburton Bar last night.
There weren't that many in – it was bad night weather wise. A dozen or more were scattered around, some chatting, some reading the newspapers, others watching the TV, still discussing the Henri hand ball!

It is a different story when there is a Premier or Champions League game on the big screen. Then the “Ash” is full, with plenty of "slagging" going on between the various sets of fans.
But I enjoyed a chat and a couple of well served pints in the calmer atmosphere last evening.

Check out my review of Ashburton - I am cork - on Qype

Heineken Ireland in Cork


THE KILN

Enjoyed my recent visit to the Kiln, the hospitality “pub” of Heineken Ireland.
There are no public tours of this brewery and unlikely to be according to a spokesman who said the modern computer controlled processes, largely conducted out of sight, weren't conducive to a tour situation. ”Who wants to see a few people pressing buttons?”
So if you want to get to the Kiln you’ll have to rely on an invitation. I have been lucky enough to get a few over the years and things have changed there in the last 12 months.
Previously, you had a choice of Heineken products e.g. Murphy’s Stout plus Heineken and Amstel lagers. But since the Dutch giants took over the other brewery in the city, you may now sample Beamish Stout and Fosters Lager.
It is still a little strange to see the two rivals now advertised side by side on posters around the Kiln. But I took advantage of the occasion to enjoy a few pints of Beamish this time. Variety is the spice of life!

Check out my review of Heineken Ireland - I am cork - on Qype

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oriel House Hotel in Ballincollig, Cork


ORIEL HOUSE HOTEL
Enjoyed a re-union meal at this Ballincollig hotel last evening. There were about one hundred at the function, much more at a farmers’ meeting in the next function room, but the staff dealt comfortably and efficiently with the demand.
The food was excellent. There were three choices of starter and three of main course (beef, chicken, cod). The chef didn't take the easy way out. For instance, the fish came in an inviting herby crust. The vegetables – mange tout, green beans and carrots – were well cooked, not too hard, and not too soft. Dessert consisted of a “medley” of small portions. We had ten people at the table and all were very happy indeed.
Service couldn't be faulted and the banter with the staff was a part of a very enjoyable evening indeed.

Check out my review (and map) of Oriel House Hotel Leisure Club - I am cork - on Qype

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Old Oak in Cork


THE OLD OAK
Made my way to the Vision Centre today to see the Tony O’Connell photos but the North Main Street venue is closed on Mondays.
On my way back through town, felt like a coffee. The Old Oak was close at hand so I called in. Don't be fooled by the short frontage on Oliver Plunkett Street – this is a substantial bar.
A friendly reception awaited me at the counter and the smiling assistant, all gloved up for hygiene, served me a decent cup of coffee plus a blue-berry muffin for just €2.00. Yes – two euro for the two. There are bargains to be had.
It was easy to find a seat in mid afternoon, though there was a good scattering of customers in. Had a quick look at the lunch menu and saw that again the prices were quite reasonable. Waved to the barperson on the way out and got another smile. Enjoyed the short break and I’ll call again.

Check out my review of The Old Oak - I am cork - on Qype

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Heavens Cakes in Cork



HEAVENS CAKES

This five year old patisserie stall in the English Market is well named. Here you get the tastes of pastry paradise, made locally!
My latest purchase consisted of two French style tartlets: one a Berry and Almond mix, the other of Lemon Curd, €2.00 each. Both were delicious.
Service is always good and, while the wrapping may not be quite up to the French standard, it is not far off it and, in any case, is totally adequate.
Web is www. Heavenscakes.ie but it didn’t work last time I tried it.

Check out my review of Heavens Cakes - I am cork - on Qype

Arbutus Breads Ltd in Cork


ARBUTUS BREADS
The Arbutus Bread company is one of the best known in Cork and has quite a few outlets, including O’Keeffe’s at St Luke’s Cross. Had an opportunity yesterday to sample a couple of the products.

First up was the baguette with seeds in the crust. This was an excellent bread, enhanced by the addition of the seed.

My favourite of the two supplied was undoubtedly the Red Wine and Walnut. A very tasty creation indeed which looks like being another winner for this high class local company.

Check out my review of Arbutus Breads Ltd - I am cork - on Qype

GOOD WINE SHOW AT THE CLARION


GOOD WINE SHOW


Very enjoyable session at the Good Wine Show in the Clarion yesterday.

First up were the Curious Wines (Bandon) section where we got off to a lively start with a mouthful or two of Aureus Cremant de Loire. They had a terrific selection and definitely the best leaflet on display.



Then called to the Carrigaline based Karwig Wine stand where again we availed of excellent information delivered in a friendly manner. While they have wines from all over, their strongpoint is the quality and quantity of their German and Austrian wines and we particularly enjoyed our sample of the Wohlmuth Riesling.



Then it was on to Bubble Brothers, the city based merchant. Again, the staff were informative and friendly and we got a big welcome from the rep of the Australian Xanadu estate on the Margaret River, four hours out of Perth.



This estate was once owned by an Irish family (Lagan) but recently taken over by the Rathbones who have just relaunched the wines. And they are good and it was here, after talking a “consultation” break at the food tables (Irish and French cheeses from On the Pig’s Back, bread from Arbutus and smoked duck from Ummera), that we decided on their 2007 Next of Kin Cabernet as our Best in Show! The 2009 Next of Kin Sauvignon Blanc Semillon is not bad either!

Then, the day still young, we headed down to Kudos Restaurant with a 20% discount voucher from the show (which is on again this Saturday from 11.00 to 16.00).

Ummera Irish Smokehouse in Cork



UMMERA
Ummera is a small family company , in Timoleague (West Cork), that produces smoked products from pork, chicken, salmon, eel and now duck.
The duck is not yet listed on the product list as Ummera’s Anthony Cresswell told us at the tasting yesterday that is was on trial. But that trial period is likely to be short as it is a very tasty product indeed.
They have share of stockists around the country but the only Cork City centre outlet is the Organic Stall in the English market. For more info on stockists and products check out the website www.ummera.com – you may also order online.

Check out my review of Ummera Irish Smokehouse - I am cork - on Qype

Friday, November 13, 2009

Kudos in Cork





KUDOS
Kudos is the quayside restaurant of the Clarion Hotel and well worth a visit.

Went there this evening after the Good Wine Show upstairs and, armed with a 20 per cent discount voucher from the show, took a table and thoroughly enjoyed the Asian inspired meal.

Started with a house platter: spring rolls, skewered prawns, salad, skewered chicken and so on plus two dips. Delicious. Followed that up with a smashing Beef Teriyaki (€14.00). Had tasted some good wines at the show but the Australian Four Sisters Shiraz (€6.75 a glass)in the bar was as good as any in the show.

I was served by a mixture of nationalities but all were friendly and efficient and indeed informative. Will call again

Check out my review of Kudos - I am cork - on Qype

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Boothouse Bar in Cork



THE BOOTHOUSE
The Boothouse is a thatched pub cum eatery in Upper Glanmire, adjacent to the church, a few miles from the north side of the city. It was recently voted the Newstalk FM Pub of the Year.

The food is largely traditional. Bacon and cabbage and farmyard chicken were on the menu today, a menu that hasn’t changed much over the past decade or so. Maybe the attitude is why fix what isn’t broken.

I went for the chicken, my favourite. Slightly drier than usual but still very tasty and I polished it off. Dessert was another favourite: creamed rice with jam. As usual, I came out a satisfied customer.

The menu is stuffed in small writing on a backboard but the place was warm and comfortable and the service was friendly and well up to standard.

It is a place I’d call more often – if the menu was altered from time to time, not necessarily dropping the favourites.

Check out my review of Boothouse Bar - I am cork - on Qype

GOOD NEWS FOR NOUGAT LOVERS


Pandora Bell Ireland launches a




Luscious Range of Soft Honey Nougat

A dream come true for nougat lovers and gourmet foodies.. Limerick based boutique confectionery label Pandora Bell has launched four flavours of Honey Nougat, just in time for Christmas.

Honey Nougat with Orange and Almonds

Honey Nougat with Almonds and Pistachios

Coffee Nougat in with Hazelnuts in a Chocolate Coating

And Honey Nougat with Hazelnuts in a Chocolate Coating

While the taste is heavenly, the recipes are simple; honey, nuts, egg whites, sugar and cocoa butter conjure up a treat loved in Italy for centuries.
 
Cork stockists are O'Keeffe's (St Luke's Cross) and Blarney Woolen Mills.
 
For more info on this and other products (and stockists nationwide) checkout http://www.pandorabell.ie/ or call Nicole on 086 8241823

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

O'Keeffe's Groceries in Cork


O’KEEFFE’S GROCERIES

O’Keeffe’s of St Luke’s are listed in the book as grocers but this is one of the best food shops around the city. It is a treasure trove.

While all the usual foods are there, the emphasis is on the artisan food makers. Here you will find delicious home cakes and tarts, the breads baked by the nearby Arbutus Company, the highly rated products of Cully and Sully, the rich chocolates by O’Connail and much much more.

Hot food is also available and there is an in-store bakery, producing a beautiful line of French style products, including a crispy flaky croissant, “as good as any in France” as one happy customer reported to me today.
Besides, there is an excellent wine selection.

And it is not just finished products. Looking for ingredients? Then this store is worth a visit. At the moment, they have a selection of milled flour that you won't find in the supermarkets.

Service is friendly and efficient and the only problem is parking. But the newly revamped St Luke’s area, with its trademark toll-hut back in place, is worth a visit and this shop is worth a short walk from wherever you do find a parking spot.

Check out my review of O'Keeffe's Groceries - I am cork - on Qype

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Woodside in Midleton


THE WOODSIDE
Cold wet and windy outside but there was a warm welcome inside from Brian, the host at the relatively new Woodside, a restaurant in Saleen, on the Midleton Whitegate road. Would it be worth the trip out of town on this miserable November evening? The answer? An emphatic yes.


Promising start with a little taster of one of their starters: Tomato Broth, served in a wee glass. As it turned out, I had ordered this Broth, served with a Gin Cream, and it came in a large glass cup with handle. Gorgeous also was the Potato and Leek soup. This soup is often quite bland but the Woodside’s version had bits of bacon through it, maybe even done in a bacon stock, and the verdict was that this the was best such soup we had ever had!
My main course was baked cod with a tomato sauce and on a bed of mashed potatoes with some haricot vert. It was a top class dish and so was the presentation which included a string of nicely cooked but intact small tomatoes still on the vine, still full of juice. The other main course was Duck Breast with Chinese cabbage, a substantial and very tasty dish indeed.
Portions are quite large so didn't take on the dessert offer. Finished with a massive cup of Americano for €2.50. House wines, by the way, start at a fiver a glass and there was a special on the night, a Rioja for €7.50 per glass.
It was a very enjoyable meal, well cooked, well presented and served with a smile and the occasional but unobtrusive query: Is everything alright? The answer all through and at the end was that emphatic yes!
It is a spacious comfortable venue, dominated by a huge almost Breughel like painting of a Nun’s Kitchen. Your host is also a whiskey nut and will put on a tasting on request. Find out more at www.thewoodside.ie

Check out my review of The Woodside - I am cork - on Qype

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ballycotton Seafood in Cork


BALLYCOTTON SEAFOOD
The English Market is long established and one of the highlights of a visit to Cork, everything available from exotic spices to tripe and drisheen.
Not too many fish stalls. My favourite is the relatively recently arrived Ballycotton Seafood, which took over from the Bandon Fish shop.



Called in there recently for some unsmoked haddock and got five large pieces for €14.00. Also had a good chat with the man behind the counter who wasn't at all happy with the prices that local restaurants are charging for fish. “You’d pay 26 euro for one piece of that on a meal out.” He has a point!

Check out my review of Ballycotton Seafood - I am cork - on Qype

Souths in Cork


SOUTHS
Cork is one of ten must visit cities listed in the 2010 issue of Lonely Planet and they say the best place to visit in Cork is the Imperial Hotel. Souths is the bar, with its own entrance from South Mall, of this venerable hotel and I met some friends there last night.



Most were driving so coffee was the order of the night and the friendly barman joked that he had never sold so much of it. The place is comfortable – no big crowd there on a Tuesday night – and the service is good and friendly and I enjoyed my glasses of wine.

I’ll be calling again, maybe for lunch at the carvery. You can get a hot lunch here from €10.50 and that (unusually) includes complimentary tea or coffee.

Check out my review of Souths - I am cork - on Qype