Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Taste of the Week. Clo’s Wind Atlantic Bar

Taste of the Week
Clo’s Wind Atlantic Bar

Called into Le Fournil, a bakery and chocolatier on the Sligo Food Trail, during a recent visit to the town. And I immediately spotted some truffles that I had seen in Dingle during the Blas na hEireann tasting, truffles that had won for Clo who makes the chocolates here.

But is was one of her bars that next caught my eye. I always like chocolate with a little salt and when I spotted the Wild Atlantic Bar I couldn't resist. It was every bit as good a expected and is our Taste of the Week.


It is a milk chocolate bar and, of course, Irish Sea Salt is one of the important ingredients. Another is Knocknarea Honey. A delicious blend made in Sligo and also a Blas winner for Clo, this in 2015.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Kelly's Butchers Newport. We Believe In Quality

Kelly's Butchers Newport
We Believe In Quality
Kelly's of Newport


For us, it is all about the food - the quality of the ingredients. You can be sure that we will always source our meat locally where possible, and if it's not local, it is always Irish. We believe in quality, in supporting our local farmers and Irish producers. We hope you do too. 

This is the philosophy of Kelly’s Butchers in Newport. It has stood them well over the decades. And I heard it reiterated at first hand from Paddy McDonald (Quality Assurance manager) and Ger Chambers (Production manager) during a recent visit. Both are fully behind it and you know there'll be no “rind emulsion” here. “Not as long as I have anything to do with it,” says a determined Ger.
Kelly's Kitchen (left) and the shop
Paddy is not a stay-in-the-office manager. He gets out and meets the customers, anywhere from Ballina to Blanchardstown. And he is thrilled, and encouraged, with the reaction. People can't believe the flavours. 

I recall craft beer guru Garret Oliver talking about introducing craft beer to people. They say this is nice, doesn't taste like beer. He had an explanation: “The beer they grew up with didn't taste like real beer!” So, Paddy tells his tasters about that good stuff that goes into Kelly’s products. They are reassured and delighted that they know now where to get the real thing. The principle put into practice pays off.
Black pudding on baguette for lunch
It’s not all serious stuff here though. Good humour abounds. Who else would take a black pudding in the shape of a pint to the prestigious Confrérie des Chevaliers du Goute-Boudin in Mortagne-au-Perche, Normandy? Better still, they won the gold! And Kelly's are proud organisers and sponsors of the All Ireland Putóg Throwing Competition  (shot putt rules apply) which is the highlight of the Newport Festival every August. 

Sean Kelly, the Mayo Person of the Year 2017, is the public face of Kelly’s, but it was brother Seamus who was in charge of the shop when we called and he proudly showed us their range of puddings (they produce much more besides): the black, the white, the black and white (half and half), and now the Vegetarian (delicious!). 
Quiche

We had arrived at lunchtime so were invited in next door to the café run by Shauna Kelly (Sean’s daughter). Had we been earlier, much earlier, we could have breakfast: porridge, granola, the full Irish of course and more.

But, being visitors, we were keen to sample the pudding and there was such a choice: black, white, seaweed and more. I went for the Black Goat  and that, with goats cheese and salad, kept me going for hours. There was also a white equivalent. CL dined well on her Black pudding and goats cheese quiche. 

Lots of meat as you'd expect from the shop next door but no shortage of fish dishes either and plenty of salads in a lovely room with warm colours. And you’ll also enjoy the homemade relishes and chutneys. Not warm enough outside for us, though it was a lovely day, but in summer you can dine al fresco.
Two of Newport's best: Kelly's puddings and the Greenway.
Then Paddy took us on tour. Their modern two years old facility is built onto the rear of the previous one (now used mainly for admin and dispatch). The process is streamlined, with the emphasis on hygiene, health and safety and efficiency. It works well throughout the week and here much of the credit goes to Ger Chambers.

When kitted out, Paddy took us through. Not a warm welcome though. His first stop was the Blast Chiller! Brrr… But it is a massive bonus for the Kelly’s as it helps increase shelf life of the products.
Yours truly with Seamus Kelly (left)
The different products and their different sizes were explained. Did you know four different types of organic seaweed is used in the Seaweed Pudding? The popular Hazlett (a traditional meatloaf, often eaten cold) has fresh leeks and carrots and 70% pure pork. It comes in standard size for domestic use and also in a 2.5 kilo size.

Putóg
And that vegetable pudding? You might think that this, coming from a renowned meat company, would be just a token effort. But nothing could be further from the truth. The Kelly name is on the packet so the best of ingredients are used and it is top quality. It was the first of the samples that I tried back at home and it is really very impressive.

While we were making our way around, taking in all the machinery and the storage areas, the crew were busy at work. The weekly schedule doesn't change much. Production in the morning. The early part of the afternoon sees the machines being taken apart and meticulously cleaned. 

Then the line is prepared for the morning. Ingredients, the spice, rusk or the oatmeal for instance, are lined up. And all is ready. We were there on the Thursday afternoon. And that following morning, black pudding would be produced, an amazing 3.5 tonnes of it! So you can see why the detailed preparation is needed. There’s a country to be fed!


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sligo Cafés. Variety is the Spice

Sligo Cafés. 
Variety is the Spice 
Naanwich
Vegan friendly dishes at the Sweet Beat in Bridge Street. A Naanwich and Leitrim roasted coffee at The Nook in rural Collooney. Chocolate and French Baking at Le Fournil in Tobergal Lane. Oysters and Prosecco at WB’s in Stephen Street. Just a few examples from the lively café scene in and around Sligo.

Growing up in Brittany, Clotilde (known in Sligo as Clo and I read somewhere her Friday doughnuts are Clonuts), saw just how important bread was in their lives so no big surprise that she and her partner Tomasz Giderewicz run Le Fournil bakery in Sligo. There is also a related Le Fournil in Donegal.
Le Fournil. Including Friday's "Clonuts"

A sweet tooth led Clo to pastries and chocolate and indeed she won two Bronze at the recent Blas Awards. She has a fiercely loyal staff and they told me in no uncertain terms that it should have been two golds! We did, of course, leave “this little corner of France” with some chocolate. If Clo “wandered” in to Sligo, some of the other café owners here wandered out, for a spell.

Sligo Food Trails neatly sums up Carolanne Rushe of Sweet Beat. “The grass will never grow under Carolanne’s feet (though if it did, she’d probably turn it into a pesto)….. Going from running a market stall on her own to employing fifteen in Sweet Beat in just two short years, Carolanne is proving that plant based cuisine can taste great.” Coffee is pretty good there too as I found out on a brief visit to Bridge Street.

It seems that many in the Sligo food scene have been abroad (not just on holidays) and Carolanne is no exception. She’s been to the Middle East, Himalayas, Australia, South Africa. An extended course in Ballymaloe helped her bring all her food knowledge together and now Sweet Beat is a revelation, even for many committed meat eaters. She describes her plant based cuisine as “just food that’s good for you”.

Aisling Kelly is another Sligo “wanderer”, having spent many years on America's West Coast. Back in Ireland she became involved in the travel industry before returning home to Sligo to open WB’s in the old family pub. A larger than life statue of WB Yeats stands a few yards away.

She had learned much about coffee on the US West Coast and now makes sure that coffee culture is alive and well on Ireland’s West Coast. They also have an unusual offering. For under a tenner, you may enjoy a couple of local oysters and a glass of Prosecco.

Ethna Reynolds, of the Nook Cafe in Collooney village, is another who wandered out, not so much from Sligo, but from her native Leitrim. But the food bug had already struck through her part-time work in cafés in her student days. Several years travelling around Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand and working in different types of kitchens helped to further mould the budding chef.
Curry Roll

And indeed those years led to the slightly exotic cuisine at The Nook where the best of local produce gets a Reynolds twist. The signature dish is perhaps the Naanwich. “We can change the menu and we do, but we can never take that one off,” one of the staff told us on our visit there for lunch.

CL picked that one. So what is the Naanwich?  A soft folded Naan bread with a Tandoori spiced mouth watering filling of Donegal buttermilk chicken, tikka mayo, house local veg pickle, local grown salad and slaw. A plateful of colour and flavour, altogether delicious, at a very reasonable price.

My pick was the Curry Roll and I was surprised by both the quantity and the quality! It’s a Tortilla wrap stuffed with curried roast chicken, Dozio’s Chilli Zing Cheese (from Mayo), Mango Chutney, Red Cabbage Slaw, Markree Farm herb tossed couscous, paprika fries. You’d have to be palate paralysed not to appreciate the flavours here. An amazing dish (€11.00) to find in a small rural village. 

No wonder though that the new venture (May 2016) is well supported and already winning awards (including Georgina Campbell Newcomer of the Year 2017). By the way, they do breakfast here as well.

There are, of course, many other cafes in Sligo, and you may check them out here on this Sligo Food Trail list.

We had a great base in the Riverside Hotel, so conveniently situated for walking to the cafes, bars and restaurants in Sligo town. It has a marvellous location on the Garavogue River, at 50.7 kms, one of Ireland's shortest. The hotel overlooks the weir. 

The lovely restaurant room, where you also take breakfast, takes full advantage of the location and you can enjoy the waters on two sides. As I say, a really convenient location and we were able to walk to bars such as the Swagman and Anderson's, cafes like WB's and Sweet Beat, and restaurants Rugatino and Embassy Steakhouse.


See also: Lough Gill Brewery
 Strandhill Food Festival





Blasket Lamb Buzz at Market Lane. Also at ORSO, Castle Cafe and Elbow Lane

Blasket Lamb Buzz at Market Lane. 
Also at ORSO, Castle Cafe and Elbow Lane



There’s always a buzz when Market Lane announces that its annual allocation of tasty Blasket Lamb has arrived! Well in case you haven’t heard, now is the time for 2017. Just a short window during which you may get it at Market Lane and its associated restaurants: ORSO, Castle Café and Elbow Lane.


Grabbed an opportunity to taste it last week, had it in both starter and mains, and enjoyed every little bit. The Oliver Plunkett Street venue was indeed buzzing as we arrived to a warm welcome and lots of info on the lamb. We had no other interest on the night, well dessert maybe, so that made it easy for our enthusiastic and well-informed server.
Starter

Time perhaps for a bit of background.
This story begins with small holder, Donnacha O Ceileachair, who raises a small flock of sheep on the Great Blasket Island. When the April-born lambs are ready, he brings them by ferry from the Island onto the mainland. Award-winning Dingle Butcher, Jerry Kennedy, selects out the premium meat for the Market Lane Group.

“The impeccable provenance of this product is reflected in its quality and flavour; we are proud to be the only restaurants in Ireland to serve it to our customers. This truly is a farm to fork experience with everybody in the supply chain really respectful and excited about the product.” – Pamela Kelly, Head Chef, Market Lane. And we met Pam on the night and delighted to be able to congratulate her  and her team on a job well done!

The starter was Spiced Blasket Lamb croquette with Velvet Cloud sheep’s yogurt, crispy mint and pomegranate. All the ingredients, including the mild spice, the chickpeas in the croquette, the smooth cooling yogurt from Mayo, each played a role in a lovely plateful.

Server Yuliyan was coming up with some excellent drink matches but we were keen to renew  acquaintance with their own Elbow Lane beers and so he recommended the Wisdom Amber Ale with the starter. He was spot-on with that as he was when suggesting the sharper Elbow lager would do well with the mains.
Dessert!

And, if the starter was five star, then the mains was all of that but even more outstanding, hors catégorie as they say in the cycling world. I’ll give you the full description: Blasket Lamb Rack and pressed lamb belly with fondant root veggies, Elbow beer vinaigrette, and buttermilk mash. This was a duo of lamb to remember, tender and tasty, perfectly cooked and served.

Would we like dessert? Well, we’ll look. Yuliyan recommended the Marmalade and vanilla bread and butter pudding. “The massive one?”, I asked (having had previous). He confirmed with a smile. We decided to share and loved it.


It is just one of about a dozen desserts here. Lots of starters too and the same applies to the mains; here you’ll see the names of local suppliers such as Coolea, Goatsbridge, St Tola, Ballinwillin, Tom Durcan, and Toonsbridge. But, at present, the Blasket Lamb is the star of the show. You’ll need to get in soon as the limited supply won't last for very long!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Amuse Bouche


View from Trocadero

The following morning, while President Sarkozy was taking Carlo Bruni for his third wife and EU operation commander General Pat Nash was taking his third cup of coffee at a Trocadero café, President Idriss Déby was taking stock of preparations for his third action against the rebels. 

He had not come too well from the previous two and now was fighting for his life. While wedding bells were ringing in the Élysée Palace, tank shells were ringing in N’Djamena.

from Into Action: Irish Peacekeepers Under Fire, 1960-2014, by Dan Harvey (2017). Recommended.

Saturday Last in Strandhill. Food Festival and more!

Saturday Last in Strandhill

Food Festival and more!

There is a weekly market in Strandhill but last Saturday was a bit special as the County Sligo resort held its inaugural Food Festival. It wasn't the best of mornings but the vast majority of the stands were under the substantial cover of Hangar No. 1, while a series of demos were held in the airport terminal building.

We had a arrived a couple of hours earlier to sample the local Voya Seaweed Baths that overlook the ocean where a surfing lesson was in progress. VOYA Seaweed Baths and organic treatments are especially recommended for those who are over worked, stressed or simply seeking an effective natural detoxifying process for the skin. Not too sure that any of those applied but I was keen to try it out.

A big welcome and then we were shown to our double bath room, the steam cabins and the baths all ready. We were warned to drink plenty of water over the next forty minutes or so and we did as we relaxed in the hot water under the seaweed, immediately feeling the oils on the skin. Good for the hair, they said. So it tried that! No miracles yet. But it was indeed a very relaxing hour.

Then, with body temperature back to normal, we headed off to the nearby airport whose car park provided ample space for the many visitors throughout the day.  On entering, you immediately noticed the colours of the improvised decor, the music (different artists from time to time) and the many and varied stalls. The large industrials space had been turned into an indoor village square.

There weren't that many primary producers there but there was no shortage of food to eat and there were many tables scattered around. But what to eat? Hawaiian Pokés? Korean Burritos? Shells Cafe were offering temptations that included Smoked Mackerel Bap and Duck Confit Burger.

So you want to know what is a Hawaiian Poké? Well it’s mainly rice and tuna and fruit and sauce. You could take one of those offered on the menu or build your own as you can see from the photo (at bottom). 

Must admit I liked the look of Joy Kitchen, particularly their Tikka Masala, and, after a second walkabout, that was the pick, a very flavoursome one as it turned out. Something sweet? Why not? The Black Sheep bakery stand was certainly busy, always a good sign. “All baked in the one oven,” said a smiling Sarah Elvey. All baked well if the two pastries we had were anything to go by!

No shortage of drinks either, including coffee from a truck, wines by the local Draft House and beer by Sligo’s White Hag. The most striking drink though was apple juice! Yes indeed, freshly squeezed apple juice from the Organic Centre.

Not too much produce that you could buy and bring home with you but we did spot some interesting bits, at the Sweet Beat stand where we met owner Carolanne Rushe. We had visited her cafe in Bridge Street in Sligo the day before and she was to do one of the cooking demos later in the afternoon.

Sweet Beat had a selection of their gut loving plant-based ferments, featuring tons of local organic produce.. from Kimchi, Sauerkraut + Kombucha to their Apple Cider Vinegar + Fermented Cashew Cheesecakes.. and were also serving up some tasty dishes all day long. Their Super Kale Pesto (with activated almonds) caught my eye and made it all the way to Cork.

Unfortunately we didn't have time for all the demos. I would have liked to have seen Prannie Rhatigan but by then we were on our way to another visit at the other side of Sligo. 

That demo stage was in the terminal building and here too the kids were kept happy with puppets, storytelling, and clowns. The festival started at noon and was scheduled to finish at eight in the evening but I did hear of at least one stall-holder who didn't leave until after ten. A long day then but a worthwhile one.



Thursday, October 12, 2017

Lovely and Central. Westport’s Clew Bay Hotel.

Clew Bay Hotel (hotel pic)

Lovely and Central. 
Westport’s Clew Bay Hotel.
Westport is a great base to visit the many attractions of Mayo and right in the heart of this County Mayo town is the Clew Bay Hotel. It looks rather small from its frontage on James Street but it has over fifty bedrooms. No parking out front, unless you’re very lucky on this one-way street, but there is a pay carpark in the rear (turn left just before the hotel) and the Clew Bay will give you a display disk to cover your stay.

Darren and Maria Madden’s three-star hotel is very well kept and I very much liked the calm decor throughout. There’s a very helpful front-desk there too. They came up with that parking disc very promptly and arranged a taxi without fuss. Little things maybe but little things count! The room was very comfortable and, very importantly, the bed was top notch. Wifi pretty good too.

We had a fairly busy schedule and didn't have time to check out the Maddens Bar or the restaurant, or indeed the Madden’s Bistro that has its own entrance from the street. Actually we did have breakfast in the impressive large restaurant room, appropriately called the Riverside as the Carrowbeg River flows just alongside; it was flowing fairly quickly last week!

Pretty good breakfast there too. I had a tip-off on their own granola; it is good and I can highly recommend it. Good choices of cooked breakfast including the Full Irish and variations thereof, also kippers. Had a big meal the night before so I settled for the French Toast with spicy egg and that hit the spot as they say. CL enjoyed her vegetarian breakfast.

Lots of things to see and do in the area, man-made such as Westport House or natural gems like the bay itself and Croagh Patrick. There is a lovely drive to the west that takes you into the splendid Doolough and its haunting famine story. And of course there is the famous Greenway if you feel like walking or biking. 

Further out, there is Achill Island, unmissable on a good day, indeed unmissable on a bad day as well. To the east, near Castlebar, there is the National Museum of Country Living. The other three national museums (Archaeology; Decorative Arts & History; and Natural History) are all in Dublin.

I was also in Westport earlier in the year. Read what I got up to here,  including dining at The Black Truffle and drinking at McGing’s.
Clew Bay and islands, from lower slopes of Croagh Patrick


Lough Gill Brewery (and Meadery!). Focus on quality and consistency.

Lough Gill Brewery (and Meadery!)
Focus on quality and consistency.


It’s a Friday evening and I am sitting in a classy new bar, Anderson’s, on the banks of the Garavogue in Sligo, on an ale "pilgrimage".

Back in the 1800s, Anderson’s Ale was the most popular beer in Connacht and the family owned three breweries in the province, one of them housed in this very building. The story makes my pint of Anderson’s Ale all the tastier!

The new Anderson’s Ale is produced by a new family micro brewery, the Lough Gill. And, that morning, James Ward told me that they  (he and wife Valerie) went back to the region’s roots to brew a traditional Irish ale that is their interpretation of what was originally produced. “It opened the door for us.”
Anderson's, once a brewery, now a smart pub

While Lough Gill’s initial beer looked to the past, their production now looks to the future and James sees that future in cans and in America. Their beers are geared towards the US market and their eye-catching can labels are designed by a US artist. Indeed, their brewer Tony Wickham is a Lakota Sioux from Montana.

You get the drift once you sample their Mac Nutty, a nut brown ale (with toasted macadamia nuts), similar to Newcastle Brown Ale that you may have seen in a one pint bottle. Mac Nutty is one of their regular beers and exported to the US where Lough Gill is established in New York State and Massachusetts.

The water, and the name, come from nearby Lough Gill and that was also the name of the old brewery. It is not the first brewery for James and wife Valerie. Their initial venture, the White Hag, was the first brewery in Sligo for the best part of a century. After a couple of years, he sold it to its investor group and launched Lough Gill, with Anderson’s Ale, just last November.



Now they make quite an array of beers, lots of bold flavours and tastes here, including their Round the Clock stout; recommended for breakfast as it has Flahavan’s Oatmeal included!

They mill everything on site here. “We crack it open, it’s fresh. Our focus is on quality and consistency.” Irish malts are used for all their basic beers while specially malts are sourced in Belgium.

He took us through the process. By the way, this is a steam operated brewery, a better boil, better beer. After the usual mash tun, kettle, the more unusual whirlpool, the cooling, it goes into the tank and fresh yeast is added. “We use live yeast, makes for a better product. When we make our Imperial Coffee Oatmeal Stout, the yeast goes crazy. At 11%, this stout is the strongest in Ireland.”
In Lough Gill with James (left) and brewer Tony (right)

Their four core beers are: the Mac Nutty nut brown ale, the Round the Clock stout, the Heinoweiser IPA, and the Thieving Bastards Pale ale; some of the names are a finger up to the bigger brands. The stout and the brown ale are both exported. In addition, there is the Rebel Stout Series, the Irish Punch Up Series (which has started with a  barley wine), and the Irish Wild Atlantic series (sours).

“Sour is huge in the US. We have a sour wheat beer, a Wild Rosé Ale, an Imperial Peach Sour and a Cherry sour is coming soon.” And coming soon too will be their Mead.

Didn't know they had a Meadery here when I arrived but enjoyed a taste from the tank and can confirm that Tony’s Mead is a very different take indeed. James told me that it is the oldest drink in the world, “made by women and the drink of legends”. Tony has made mead in the states where it is quite popular. And James reckons that the far east, especially Japan and China, will prove likely markets.

Amazing energy and innovation here. Must be in that Lough Gill water. Maybe in some other local liquid. Best of luck to the team here as they take Sligo brewing on to the world stage.

* That same evening, Lough Gill was awarded Best New Sligo Business 2017. James: “We have yet to reach our 1st anniversary brew day and we are extremely delighted to receive this award at such an early stage in our business.” Great to get honoured in your home town.

See also: Strandhill Food Festival
Sligo Cafés

Mescan’s Belgian Beers from Croagh Patrick. Strong. Caveat Emptor!

Mescan’s Belgian Beers from Croagh Patrick.
Strong. Caveat Emptor!


I’ve been enjoying the beers from Mayo’s Mescan Brewery for a while now and their Saison has emerged as my favourite. Met up with Cillian O’Moran, one half of the team, last week and he told me that it is also a favourite in the brewery.

A saison-al tip:  I just came across this quote from Garrett Oliver, author and brewmaster at the Brooklyn Brewery:....the Belgian farmhouse saison style tends to add sharper bitterness, often alongside peppery notes. These beers make great matches for tangy fresh goats cheeses, and can be a great way to start off a cheese and beer tasting.

It wasn't the best of times to visit the very small Mescan operation as Cillian and his Flemish partner Bart were busy preparing for their annual Octobertfest at Westport House and that was where we chatted in the Autumn sunshine. Bart is the guy with the engineering skills, a very handy asset in a small-scale operation. They have been buddies for 20 years, both vets.

They admit on their Facebook that it all began as a rebellion “against our day jobs as veterinarians..we were feeling depressed about all the on-call in our job and the lack of time to pursue our other interests. We talked about what else we would like to do with our lives and pretty soon the conversation got around to beer. We love beer, especially Belgian beer”. 


As you may have guessed, Mescan make Belgian style beers. “We only make beer that interests us,“ said Cillian, “Beers that we like and find interesting. So no IPA, no Irish Red Ale. It is against our philosophy to follow a popular trend.”

That doesn't mean they don’t make popular beers! Their Blond was the first they brought out and has become a firm favourite with the public.

They also make some strong beers. I had tasted two recently, the Extra and The Tripel. We had a little chat about the two and I said the Tripel was my favourite of the two. “Interesting,” said Cillian. 

I think he would have been more pleased had I picked the Extra. This was an effort to make a high alcohol beer without too much fruit and there were some differences in the production. They started it cool, kept it chilled and then allowed a slow rise in temperature before a rapid rise towards the end of the process. Worth getting a bottle of each to compare. Might do the same myself, again!

“Seasonal is not a huge thing for us but we did a Kreik last year and there are still a few bottles around.” No sour cherries this year but they have now found a new source and you could well see another Kreik next year.

But a new beer is on the cards for Christmas. “We have tested a small trial brew and both of us were extremely taken with it. If the 2,000 litre batch is as good, then it may well become a regular.”

“We’re almost like the Galagapos Island of craft brewing, operating in an enclave of our own. No time for net-working!” But that may change as Cillian is winding down his regular job as a vet to go full-time in the brewery.

“I intend to work full-time but we’ll have to increase sales to make that doable. The small scale suits us. We are not building empires. I don't want to spend days in the office, not cut out for it. Small and natural is our way and that's the way we like it.” And it looks as if their punters like it that way too.

Mescan Beers:
Westport Blond (5.5%);
Westport White (5.0%);
Westporter Stout (5.0%);
Westport Saison (6.2%);
Westport Red Tripel (8.5%);
Westport Extra (9.3%).

Mescan beers, delicious and distinctive, are all bottle conditioned, so not available on draught. Keep up to date with their Facebook page here.

And where did that Mescan name come from? It’s named after St Patrick’s right hand man and personal brewer. They say that Mescan’s brews facilitated audiences with the chieftains when Patrick went out on his conversion missions!

And one more thing about these beers, these mostly strong beers. The bottles carry a warning for lovers: “Our beer adds to the desire but may take away from the performance”. Caveat emptor. 



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Two Reds From Uruguay and Spain. Worth Noting For Your Weekend!

Casa de la Ermita Crianza Jumilla (DOP) 2013, 14% (€12.00 from 12th of October to 1st of November) SuperValu

This is a blend of Monastrell, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon, the grapes grown at a height of 700 metres. It has spent nine months in new oak barrels and is new to Supervalu. Did you know that Monastrell is regarded as “the queen grape” of Jumilla. Ermita also do a sweet dessert wine from Monastrell.

This blend has a deep garnet colour. On the nose, there are intense dark fruits (berries, plums), hints of oak too. The palate is full of those intense fruit flavours, juicy too, tannins are soft (barely at play), and there is a good length to the finish. Elegant and fruity, a lovely amalgam of the three grapes, and Highly Recommended.

Pisano Cisplatino Tannat 2015, Progresso (Uruguay), 13.5%, €14.00 Marks and Spencer. 

You may be familiar with Tannat, a grape from the French south-west (Madiran, Irouléguy). Yes indeed it was the Basques that brought the grape to South America where it is “becoming Uruguay’s signature grape”. 

Its stern reputation in France can put punters off. “A man’s drink,” you hear (from men). But I don't think they've tried Argi D’Ansa Rosé (80% Tannat) in St Etienne de Baigorry (Irouleguy) as I did in 2011 nor indeed this excellent example from South America.

Colour is purple and there are expressive aromas of plum mainly, also a whiff of vanilla. It is fresh, juicy and fruity, flavours of red and darker berries, some spice too, tannins close to soft and has a lengthy dry finish. Highly Recommended.

Label suggests trying it with meaty dishes, particularly lamb shoulder, moussaka, shepherd’s pie or spicy empanadas.


The three Pisano brothers follow biodynamic methods and use strains of native yeast, according to Decanter, who gave this wine a Platinum for Best Value Red Single Variety.


Superb Line-up of Food and Drink Events for next week!




Festival Cork are in their second year now and have once again teamed up with Taste Cork to bring:
Taste Cork Week 2017, October 16th- 22nd And for the first time this year, an extended special “Taste Jazz” 23rd-26th October
There are almost 40 venues signed up this year all showcasing the best local produce our county has to offer! There are some fantastic events on across the week all of which are listed on our website www.festivalcork.com
Here’s just a taster of what the week holds: (please see our calendar for full list)
Wednesday 18th October, Electric Cork host a “Meet the Producers” event, giving people the chance to meet some of Cork's best producers, and of course sample their products. Tickets €25
Monday 16th October, Casanova Gelato are giving 6 lucky people the chance to become a Gelato maker for the day, with exclusive behind the scenes opportunity into the world of making ice cream! Tickets limited €55
Wednesday 18th October, Ballyvolane House host a distillery tour and lunch
Sunday 15th October, Longueville House offer an exclusive tour of their orchard and a very special Harvest Lunch
17th and 18th of October, Franciscan Well Brewpub will be hosting beer and whiskey tasting sessions
On The Pig's Back will be hosting cheese tasting session all week long in both The English Market and Douglas
Friday 20th October, Black Brewery are doing a tap take over in The Bierhaus
October 19th, Ballymaloe House have teamed up with Jameson Whiskey to host a supper club
October 17th, Holy Smoke are having a Taste Cork BBQ with craft beer and whiskey
For all tickets and info, and all other events please visit our website or Facebook page
Taste Jazz We have a series of very exciting pop ups for our extension of Taste Cork week with Guinness and Diageo, in the fantastic new Nano Nagle Place
Monday 23rd October 2017 - Seamus O'Connell of Ivory Tower presents “Tastescapes” Tuesday 24th October 2017 – Flavour.ie and Pamela Kelly of Market Lane present “From the Producer to the Plate”
Wednesday 25th October 2017 – The Fish Bar@The Electric presents “Plateau de fruits de Mer”
Thursday 26th October 2017 – Good Day Deli presents “Sustainable Foods with South Pacific Flavour” SOLD OUT!!

We are also featuring some great Jazz events in city venues:
Electric, Thursday 26th October, Free finger food and The Loungeman
Holy Smoke,Wednesday 25th October, “Jazz Cuts” A night of whiskey, steaks and live jazz The Raven, Wednesday 25th October, the newly refurbished Raven will host a cocktail evening
Sober Lane, Thursday 26th October, Roe and Co Whiskey Tasting and live music
And keep an eye out for our “Jazz Cafes” with some live music lunches across the city!


For up to date info and bookings, check the Festival website here 


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Taste of the Week. Kelly’s Vegetarian Pudding

Taste of the Week
Kelly’s Vegetarian Pudding

If you think of sausages and black pudding makers in Ireland then Kelly’s of Newport are going to be in your short list. Must admit I was surprised then to find they make a Vegetarian Pudding, a really good one and our Taste of the Week.

So why would a butcher, a prize-winning butcher, make a vegetarian pudding? “Our customers kept asking us”. The challenge, of course, was to make it as tasty as their meaty ones. They think they’ve done just that and, having dispatched one here in Cork, I agree. 

By the way, Kelly’s puddings are easy to cook. Grill them or fry them to get that crunch on the outside. In a hurry, then pop a few slices in the microwave.


Oatmeal, onions, fresh eggs are among the ingredients. This is not a token effort for the vegetarians but a serious pudding (the Kelly name is on the packet!) that is a flavoursome addition to the breakfast plate, vegetarian or otherwise. Enjoy.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Blasket Island Lamb Arrives at Market Lane Restaurants

press release

The Market Lane Group Celebrates Blasket Island Lamb 
Across all their Restaurants in October

Jerry and Donnacha
Cork’s Market Lane Group of restaurants will celebrate the unique, award-winning lamb from the Blasket Islands on all their food menus from Wednesday 11 October 2017.  This highly anticipated event is now in its 8th year, and given the popularity of this delicious, rare meat, the chance to experience it usually only lasts until the end of the month.  This celebration of Blasket Island Lamb is exclusive to the Group. 

Chefs in each restaurant (Market Lane, Orso, Elbow Lane and Castle Cafe) create special lamb dishes that reflect their own in-house style of cooking and the full range of cuts will be used.  These will be carefully partnered with drinks recommendations from the group’s wine and beer experts.

The habitat on the islands is what makes this product so special and gives it such a great reputation. The animals graze in a marshy meadow full of heather, natural grassland and wild herbs such as rosemary, sage and thyme.  The grass is salty from sea spray which gives the lamb its highly valued pre-sale flavour. The animals are free to roam so the lamb is leaner creating a perfect fat to meat ratio.

Pamela Kelly Gough, head chef of Market Lane, who has been working with Blasket Island lamb for many years now says “We are delighted as a group to shine a light on this very special organic Autumn lamb, which is different in many ways from the more usual Spring lamb” she says. “The impeccable provenance of this product is reflected in its quality and flavour; we are proud to be the only restaurants in Ireland to serve it to our customers. This truly is a farm to fork experience with everybody in the supply chain really respectful and excited about the product.”
 
Lamb Shank at ORSO
This story begins with small holder, Donnacha O Ceileachair, who raises a small flock of sheep on the Great Blasket Island.  When the April-born lambs are ready, he brings them by ferry from the Island onto the mainland.  There, they are rested for up to a week on Donnacha’s farm in Dun Chaoin, to recuperate from their choppy journey across the Dingle Sound.  Award-winning Dingle Butcher, Jerry Kennedy, then picks out the premium lambs which are sent for slaughter. When the annual Market Lane order is delivered, the remaining lamb is sold to the public directly from Kennedy’s Butcher Shop on Orchard Lane, Dingle or via www.dinglebutcher.com

Diners at The Market Group can look forward to dishes such as;
‘Elbow Lager lamb pie, pommes anna and glazed heritage carrots’, “Blasket lamb leg in fish sauce with seaweed gratin’,  ORSO ‘Moroccan braised lamb shank with ras-el-hanout cous cous, preserved lemon, pomegranate and red onion pickle’ and ‘Anchovy and rosemary leg of lamb steak, creamed polenta, with caponata and crispy shallots.’
 
At Market Lane
Check out the new menus, drinks, specials, menu changes and availability of lamb dishes on the social media channels for the restaurants within the group including www.marketlane.ie and facebook; Market Lane.