Thursday, March 23, 2017

Barry’s Tea. Favourites for more than a century.


Barry’s Tea. Favourites for more than a century.
Wall of Tea

As the 19th century turned into the 20th, a blacksmith’s son from Ballyhooly came to Cork city to work in a shop. Soon, in 1901, he became a “counter-jumper” and set up his own shop dealing in Tea, Wine and Spirits. That entrepreneurial country boy, James J. Barry, was the great grandfather of Tony Barry, our host on a tour of the Barry's Tea factory in Cork earlier in the week.

The first Barry's Tea Shop was in Bridge Street and, by the 60’s, Tony told us that they were well known for tea. His father was then running the business - the shop now in Princes Street -  and had a lucky break. Marketing was barely known as a science in those days but a young man asked to do a study on the firm and discovered a gap, a gap that Barry's turned into an opening. The young man found that Barry's Tea was very well liked but that many customers had trouble getting to the shop to buy. The solution was to distribute to other shops around the city and Madden’s, Bradley's and Smith’s were among the first.

Marketing, by the way, wasn't exactly new to the Barry’s. Back in 1939, they recruited three elephants from a  visiting circus and marched them down the traffic-free city streets "with tea chests strapped on!”  Read more of the Barry's Story here.
We were there, at their current Kinsale Road facility, as part of a group of Munster Wine and Dine members. MWD member Stuart Musgrave knows Barry’s well and was indeed once one of their rivals. But he reckons, always did, they make the best blended tea in the world.

And Barry's, who nowadays employ 65 people, certainly know their stuff. Tony explained a bit. “Rwandan teas give a good colour but are very light. So you need something for strength and India provides that. Still, you don't want something too strong either so add a contribution from Kenya and you’ll have a good all round bend.”


The tea plant, a bush, grows in equatorial areas. The bushes grow like a hedge, making it easy to pluck the leaves. Hand-plucking is still very common. It is a natural product. After plucking, nothing is added. Green tea and black tea comes from the same type of plant. “The green is steamed and rolled and is fresher while the black is withered and fermented.”
Tony Barry, standing left, invites us to taste
He told us that there are similarities between wine and tea, that terroir matters in both. “So how do you know where to get the best?” someone asked. “Well, “ he smiled. “We’ve been around for over 100 years. We know where to get the best teas, where the best tea gardens are. We have lots of contacts now and they know what we want.”

“Tea is not a complicated business, “he said. “But you do need to get each part right, from sourcing to blending to distribution and sales. It is not traded as a commodity so we don’t have to buy futures.” Still, when there is a high quality crop, they aren't slow in building up their stocks.


We had a few samples of traditional teas and not so traditional (including apple/pear flavoured and Berry Berry) before we began our walkabout. First stop was the the real Tasting Room with veteran tastier Denis Daly doing the honours. The window is north facing window here - they want natural colours, not a tea turned a flattering gold by the morning sun!
Berry Berry

The samples enabled us tell the difference, at least for that moment, between the various teas from Asia and Africa and then we were off on our factory walk. First we saw the high stores of palleted tea, some in vacuum packs, stamped with exotic names such as those from the gardens of Gatunguru in Kenya. “Some of these gardens are in the most beautiful areas of the world.” That vacuum packed tea could last for a few years but Barry's like to rotate within the year.

Then we saw the blending area followed by the packing and the boxing. Amazing to see the tea-bag machine in action, making no less than 2,000 bags per minute! Next came the boxes being packed, by robots, into large packs for transport via container.

Indeed, there was a container load lined up for export to the USA - they export about 11% of the total. The working day was drawing to a close and so was our eye-opening informative tour. Reckon I'll never look at the humble cup of tea in the same complacent way again!
Selection
Check out the Barry's website, including online shop, here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fontanafredda, important player in Italian wine. Three examples.

Fontanafredda: important player in Italian wine. Three examples.

The Modern History of Italian Wine (2016), to which we'll be referring often over the next few months, picks Fontanafredda, renowned for decades for its Barolo, as a key player in Italy's wine industry. The important company now produces some 7.5m bottles a year and you can find quite a few of its products, including the Barolos, in Karwig Wines. Below are just three examples. 

Fontanafredda Raimonda, Barbera D’Alba (DOC) 2009, 14%, €21.15 Karwig Wines


In 1858, an area close to the village of Serralunga D’Alba was registered to the King Vittorio Emanuele II. Here he indulged his passion with the commoner daughter of a drum major and it was eventually their son Emanuele Guerrieri, Count of Mirafiore, who devoted his life to making wine here, “with a very modern approach”.

Success with Barolo followed later but, after war and economic strife, the banks took over in 1931 and appointed a winemaker to take charge. In recent years, the property passed to Oscar Farinetti, “another visionary” according to the recently published Modern History of Italian wine, “who revitalized its sale and the commercial image of the brand”. 

Dressed with the colours of the estate, the Stripes series “is the central line of production by Fontanafredda”. And the Barbera for this striped bottle is grown around Serralunga.

Part of the wine is aged in large French and Slavonian oak casks, the rest stored in small barrels of medium toasted French and American oak for about a year. The two parts are blended prior to bottling.

Colour is a deep ruby. There are intense aromas of cherry and plum, notes of vanilla. Quite a striking velvety mouthfeel on this one, round with ripe and tangy fruit, hints of spice, and an excellent acidity. A very pleasant drop indeed and Very Highly Recommended.

Karwig’s also do another excellent example of the grape: Renato Barbera D’Alba.

Fontanafredda Gavi (DOCG) 2015, 12.5%, €23.10 Karwig Wines

This is another of the vineyard’s Stripes Series and the Cortese vines from which it is produced are grown near the village of Gavi in south east Piedmont. Serve between 10 to 12 degrees and you’ll find it is ideal for starters and light meals.

It is a light straw colour with a definite green tint and micro-bubbles cling to the sides of the glass. There are fairly intense aromas, a melange of white fruit and blossom. Lively fruit flavours predominate as it rolls smoothly across the palate. It is an easy-drinking well-balanced wine with a long dry finish. Highly Recommended.

Fontanafredda “Le Fronde” Moscato D’Asti (DOCG) 2012, 5.0%, €9.95 Karwig Wines

This is a gorgeous moderately sweet wine, another string to the impressive Fontanafredda bow. Try it with all desserts, they encourage. I had a few of those delightful cheesecakes from Charly and tried the two together. Excellent, though I'm told it may be even better with drier cakes (e.g. panetone). And, by the way, it is also lovely on its own.

May not have much alcohol on board - yes, that five per cent is correct - but it has quite a lot going for it otherwise. It is slightly fizzy, lots of bubbles in evidence, mainly clinging to the sides of the glass, a frizzante rather than a spumante. Indeed, the low alcohol count means it can be convenient to use within a multi-course meal, either as aperitif or with dessert. I prefer to use a normal white wine glass rather than a flute.


It is aromatic (this one sage and honey) and floral, full and fruity also. Well worth trying, ideal in the garden in summer, with three or four friends. Recommended.

Recently reviewed:

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Taste of the Week. Cinnamon Cottage Ratatouille

Taste of the Week
Cinnamon Cottage Ratatouille
Irish diners used to have mixed opinions on Ratatouille, mainly because earlier versions weren’t much more than an anonymous mess on the plate. And then very few were eating aubergines and peppers in 1970s Ireland.

Irish Ratatouille and we Irish diners have come a long way since then and there are some terrific examples of the dish around nowadays, both in homes and in restaurants. One of the best I came across recently came from Cinnamon Cottage.

This is a brilliant mix: aubergines, courgettes, peppers, tomatoes and more. Fantastic textures and flavours, a dash of spice too, all combining to make a Ratatouille with attitude and our Taste of the Week.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Johnny Fall Down. Warm Glounthaune slopes ideal for cider apples.

Johnny Fall Down

Warm Glounthaune slopes ideal for cider apples

A farm that has been recovered from a semi-wilderness is the unlikely scene for a craft cider revolution. Thanks to Dave and Barry of Johnny Fall Down we had a tour of the fields at Killahora (Glounthaune) last week where the south-facing slopes are planted with over 40 varieties of apple.

Not just apples. Pears are there in abundance. And other fruits trees too, including damson, plums. Even though this current operation started in 2010/11, there is a orchard history here, going back through the centuries, evidenced by an old wall (a relic of a walled garden). And reminders in the hedgerows, gnarled old crab trees and some wilding too.

And it is not just fruit either. Dave has a particular interest in trees and plants and so here you’ll find some rare ones, everything from tiny Bee Orchids to huge (not yet!) Sequoias.

They focus on the rare apple varieties here, Barry tells me, as we climb the slopes. “They give us more punch.” And you can try that for yourself. Their first product, the Johnny Fall Down rare apple cider, is available around Cork city in various pubs including Cask and The Roundy.
The south-facing slopes are ideal. It just seems warmer there. And, by the way, there is a fantastic view, a panorama of Cork harbour and estuary and the islands, including nearby Harper’s and Fota. And birds of prey hover above on the thermals.

All the apples and pears (already in flower) are planted in neat rows, all tidy and well maintained. But those twisted old crabs trees in the hedgerows are amazing. The first one that we saw had hundreds of little apples, many of them quite sound, on the ground underneath, months after they had fallen. 
Dave (left) and Barry

And they'll soon have company. Dave and Barry intend to plant fruits and herbs in and about the hedgerows. In a few years time, you'll see cherries and more in the wild.

We were just in time to see Dave do a bit of grafting, a Turner’s Barn pear was being introduced to its host Pyro Dwarf. First he cut the Turner’s, at about 45%, down to the Cambium (layer of tissue in the middle), and repeated the procedure on the host. Then, the tricky part, making a tongue and groove so that the union would be even better. 
from an old crab apple tree!

Then he bound the two with a bio-degradable tape (keeps in the moisture and allows the graft to take) and it was ready to go. “Not rocket science,” he humbly admitted. But still one just had to admire the enthusiasm and the precision as he demoed the ancient art. After the demo, it was work as hundreds remained to be done!

Then, time for a tasting, starting with some of the single varietals. Some had the acidity to the fore, others sugar, others tannins. Getting the balance right is the challenge for Barry in the months and years ahead.
Could be drinking from the fruit of this in about five years time!

It won't be just cider. Already one of their products, a pommeau, is being used in cocktails. Barry also plans a Perry, champagne style!  Perhaps the one that made the biggest impression on me was the Ice Cider, even if it was still only half-way on its journey. I usually - inadvertently, I hastily add -  pick the expensive ones. “A lot of juice required to make this!”.

And soon we would say goodbye and leave this beautiful part of the parish behind. The terroir seems to be just perfect for purpose and Dave and Barry complement each other perfectly also. Their knowledge and expertise is top notch. 
Pear bursting out

And there is enthusiasm in abundance. More importantly though, there is patience, there is no rush, they’ll wait for nature (magic in those hedgerows in years to come) and produce accordingly. I can’t wait to see what Killahora comes up with next but Dave and Barry can and their products will be all the better for it. Watch this space.

An old crab tree

And what of the man himself? We read on our sample bottle that Johnny Fall Down is a rare apple cider, bitter-sweet with an abv of 5.5%, made from 42 varieties of cider, many of them unique to the Glounthaune producers. It has a lovely light amber colour, bubbles galore on the rise. Aromas hint of really ripe orchard fruit and there are hints of tropical fruit on the well balanced palate. The "rosé like" finish comes from a mix "of rarer tannins" that have matured for six months. Well worth waiting for!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Joup. Sisters Together.

Joup.
Sisters Together
Joup. John and Craig (right)
There is a little cafe near the city end of the Ballinlough Road called Joup. Its modest entrance hides a hive of activity, an Irish family business “big on passion when it comes to handmade food, our environment, and well being”. It is run by two entrepreneurial sisters: Richael is a full time mum with 3 kids and Odharnait has her own massage therapy business as well as the cafe. 

Craig Guiney is one of the enthusiastic chefs here and we met him for a coffee in the tiny restaurant. They also have a little outdoor area which, hopefully, will be getting plenty of use as the good weather comes.

Daily bread
 “Everything here is done fresh everyday. All the baking is done here - it is a warm place in the morning! We do our own sourdough, flatbread and so on. We are doing our own kimchi also.”


Richael: “The Joup menu is unique as it embraces our Irish food heritage. We believe you need to go no further than to our shore line to find the most nourishing super food - seaweed. We use seaweed throughout our salads and soups to provide natural nourishment and great taste.” 
Sweet Stuff, above and below
 Craig too loves the seaweed contribution. They even use it to make their Irish Hummus. It is gently pickled and mixed with carrot, a great base for vegetable sandwiches (as we would find out later).


Lifestyle dictates people’s food options nowadays and “we look after foodies and vegetarians”, he told me. “We do a great gluten free Lasagne where the there is no pasta, instead we substitute sweet potato”.


Joup has gone from an award winning university developed business to farmers’ markets to the English market to their own premises and now an online shop. In 10 years they have gone through tough economical times and come through the other side, which is testament to their hard work, loyal customers and good wholesome food.

And the farmers markets, especially Mahon and Midleton, still play a big role here as the chefs are regular visitors, buying good local produce for Joup. “Everything is local. If we can't get it locally, we don't use it, no messing.” And, as a result, everything is seasonal too.


 Richael again: “Our handmade soups and stews are naturally gluten free. we bake our own  in-house sourdough focaccia. And we are embracing local Irish food through our Irish style hummus, chowders, stews and colcannon”.


The website, joup.ie, is not only an online shop where you can purchase catering, a takeaway meal or lunch box delivery but also a resource, where Richael blogs about: all things delicious, healthy and handmade; her own recipes; life as a working mum; and how to keep kids eating healthy.


Rainbow

The proof of the pudding is in the eating of course and we left with two really big sandwiches from that day’s list. One was the Ploughman’s Sandwich:  Irish Mature Cheddar Cheese, House Relish and Piccalilli, all packed in Ciabatta. This was a superb combination, great bread, great contents including that lively relish and piccalilli.

The other was their Rainbow Salad Flatbread with Irish Style Hummus, Beetroot creme fraiche and piccalilli. That Flatbread was not hard, not soft either, just a lovely easy crunch and that hummus is ideal for sandwiches. Both sandwiches were easy to eat and prove that healthy sandwiches don’t have to be dull. And I'm quite certain that would have been the case with any of the others on the board that morning.
Merry Ploughman
So, if you're in the neighbourhood pop by and enjoy their sandwiches, homemade meals, salads, bakery and confectionary selection. Or give them a call for catering information and they can deliver. If that office meeting overruns, if your group can't quit a rehearsal, if you have a communion or confirmation group at home, or any occasion where good food is needed, then Joup, local and very good, is the place to contact.

Joup
Ballinlough Road
Cork
(021) 432 2626
Facebook: @joupcafe
Twitter: @joupcafe

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Amuse Bouche

William Ladd also commented on the class differences in beer drinking:
But houses such as most of yours which sell any quantity of draught porter are not the places where a large sale of ale is likely to take place, as it is used by a very different class of customers who usually avoid the other. One house in Patrick St. district would sell more ale than 10 in Barrack St., while the exact contrary is the case with draught porter.


from Beamish & Crawford, The History of an Irish Brewery, by Donal Ó’Drisceoil and Diarmuid Ó’Drisceoil (2015). Recommended.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Deadly Dinner Deal at Electric Fish Bar


Deadly Dinner Deal at Electric Fish Bar
 Always partial to a good value Early Bird, especially if it’s in a favourite place such as the Electric Fish Bar on the South Mall. Spotted this one the other day and we were in that very evening for Two Fish Specials and Two Sides, thirty euro the lot, and available from 5.00pm to 6.30pm.

We had a choice of four specials to pick from, including Pan fried Cod fillet with smoked salmon and herb crust, saffron beurre blanc (normal price 13.00) and Whole White Sole with almond butter and parsley (1600). As it happened, the sole wasn't available and the sub was Sea Bass.

We selected and shared the other two. One was the Satay Prawns, spicy peanut sauce, chargrilled pak choi, mango and pepper salad (13.00). And the other was Salmon, Mussel and Hake Bouillabaisse, herb croutons, rouille and parmesan (15.00).

 The Prawns were fine, the pak choi a delicious crunchy addition. But the Bouillabaisse was the star of the show, full of flavour and texture. Salmon wasn't available but they added extra white fish and it went down a treat. 

Five sides to choose from, including sautéed green beans, crushed baby potatoes, and baked sweet potato. All tempting but we were very happy with our picks, the Electric Fries with aioli and especially with the Winter Greens with butternut squash and pomegranate.

Total for the two specials and two sides, just 30 euro. Their wine list is described as simple but its is quite extensive. The whites for example cover everything from a Bosco Pinot Grigio (25.00) to the more sophisticated Pouilly Fumé Vincent Vatan (40.00). A few are available by the glass and I enjoyed my Jean de Roche Sauvignon blanc at 7.30 a glass. This also comes by the carafe (18.30) and the bottle (28.00).
All in all, a very enjoyable early evening meal at a good price with friendly service and, as you are upstairs, an interesting view over the south channel of the River Lee, Trinity Church to the left, St Fin Barre’s to the right (and we won’t mention the government block in the middle). 

41 South Mall,
Cork City,
Ireland

Tel: 0214222990

Email: Book@ElectricCork.com

GPS Co-ordinates: 51.896204, -8.473414

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Two Amazing Whites from Italy.

When I started on this Italian odyssey,  using The Modern History of Italian Wine as my main guide, I was prepared to be impressed by the reds, less prepared to be bowled over by a couple of lesser-known whites. But it is well worth getting acquainted with this superb duo.

Colle Stephano Verdicchio di Matelica (DOC) 2015, 12.5%, €16.15 Le Caveau

Its lovely fruit acidity makes it lively and distinctive, and so good with food. This organic wine is produced in Matelica in Italy’s Marche. Matelica is an inland area, higher and cooler, well in from the coast of the Adriatic. 

Importers Le Caveau say you could eat off the floor of the winery “and hygiene is very important when making this kind of white wine. We love it this for its racy, stony and revitalising mouthfeel”. Sounds like a Sauvignon Blanc to me and indeed Le Caveau recommend using it like a Marlborough SB.

And its not just le Caveau that are impressed. In 2013, the Decanter Italy supplement raved about it: “Italy's best-buy of all time? Unbelievable quality for the price.” Just wonder how well that went down in nearby Jesi, another area well known for its Verdicchio!

Colour is quite a light straw. Aromas are herby, grassy, minerally, reminiscent indeed of Sauvignon Blanc. With its herbal tang, it is lively and refreshing on the palate, zesty with the sourness of green apples and quince. And, like many Italian wines, the crisp acidity means it is superb with food (sea-food ready is a term I've heard used in connection with Verdicchio from this area). Very Highly Recommended.

Terredora Di Paolo “Loggia Della Serra” Greco di Tufo (DOCG) 2015, 12.5%, €18.95 (€16.95 on offer) O’Brien’s

The grape is Greco (nothing to do with Greece, according to Vines and Wines) and the village is Tufo in Campania. The grape and the terroir here seem made for each other and the combination “gives Loggia Della Serra a particular complexity and personality”. Pair with fish, soups and tasty pasta and serve at 10 degrees.

The vineyard’s high opinion of this wine is widely shared. It is highlighted in Vino Italiano as a consistently accurate expression of the grape. It is not “… a long ager. …at its best one or two years from the vintage”. So my timing on this one is spot-on.

The recently published The Modern History of Italian Wine also has high praise for Terredora. “The vineyards are… among the best in Irpinia. Terredora cultivates indigenous grapes only.”

Colour is a light straw and the intense aromas feature white fruits and blossoms. The intensity is also on the palate, citrus notes here too and a rich minerality also prominent in this elegant and full-bodied wine. Definitely has that strong personality and a long dry finish. Very Highly Recommended.



Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Taste of the Week. Skelligs Chocolate

Taste of the Week
Skelligs Chocolate

The current Taste of the Week comes all the way from the beautiful St Finian’s Bay area of Ballinskelligs in County Kerry: ten delicious Irish handmade chocolates truffles. 

Just five flavours in the box but something gorgeous for every taste. Off to a promising start with the Citrus Delight, then Strawberry and Champagne. Are you getting the picture? And still to come are the Vanilla Ganache, the Hazelnut Praline and, perhaps my favourite, the Dark Irish Whiskey, all creamy, all made with love and each dispatched with love as well.

Great to see the County Kerry firm bounce back so well from the fire of 2010. Did you know they overlook the UNESCO World Heritage site Skellig Michael? Well they do and, better still, they'd love to see you come and visit. Think I’ll take that invitation up myself when I'm in the area in a month or two.


If you can't make it down there anytime soon, they have many stockists: check the list here.  I got mine in Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork, and, of course, you may also buy from their online shop here.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Food, Blues and Brews. The Sharp Knife Ride West Again

Food, Blues and Brews
The Sharp Knife Ride West Again

Flavour.ie is bringing back talented street food crew The Sharp Knife from Cork City for another night of amazing food in a rural West Cork pub following their hugely successful event in October 2016! 

Kate Ryan of Flavour.ie has created yet another exciting dining event to the ever curious food enthusiasts of West Cork by pairing the kings of extraordinary street food, The Sharp Knife, with Cork’s most successful craft brewery, 8 Degrees Brewing and dropping them into a sleepy West Cork village for a night that celebrates the best of West Cork produce and explores new ways with Craft Beer.

Remember last October when we took over a party barn in West Cork and turned it into a Mexican Cantina for one night only?
Well, it was epic.  And now Flavour.ie are teaming up once more with The Sharp Knife to deliver another night of knock out Street Food.  And this time, we've asked 8 Degrees Brewing to come along and join the party. Oh yes we did!

Hang out with Flavour.ie, The Sharp Knife and 8 Degrees Brewing at the beautiful Tots Pub in the village of Ballygurteen 10 minutes from West Cork’s premier foodie town of Clonakilty. We will be turning Tots into the only place to be seen for one night only.  Think you're in a country pub in West Cork? THINK AGAIN!

Flavour.ie are bringing the hottest crew of street food chefs from Cork City, an award winning craft beer brewery, mixologists and the best local DJ talent to West Cork from across the County to bring you an event that mixes up tastes of craft brewing with a multi-course menu of street food from across the globe. Excited yet?  Let me tell you more...

Each of the eight (yes, EIGHT!) courses have been specially created by The Sharp Knife.  They will be taking you on global culinary journey of street food from the comfort of your dinner table with every dish.  Many dishes will be cooked with craft beer as we demonstrate how versatile beer can be with cooking as well as sipping!  Each dish will be expertly matched by Caroline Hennessy of 8 Degrees Brewing.

Taking place on Saturday 8th April, the team will be presenting eight courses of street food, a welcome cocktail designed by The Sharp Knife, craft beers, ciders and wines matched to each course, tea & coffee to finish plus DJ. Book your ticket with or without drinks pairings and inclusive of everything on the night.  With access to a fully licenced bar, and DJ Paul Cullen spinning blues, funk, jazz and soul all night long, you’ll be in no rush to head home, so who knows when the night will end!

Kate said “Our event with The Sharp Knife in October last was absolutely brilliant.  The style of street food that The Sharp Knife create is exceptional, but the dining experience itself is really relaxed and focused on fun. To be able to welcome 8 Degrees Brewing is fantastic.  They are Cork’s most successful craft brewer and really helped to kick everything off for what is now a thriving and creative craft brewing industry across the whole of Cork.   The welcome at Tots is legendary too, so from the moment people arrive they will be made to feel right at home.  It’s not your usual dining experience, but that’s what we like to do at Flavour.ie – test the unconventional and bring something truly unique for the foodies of West Cork!”

The Menu itself is a secret and won’t be revealed until diners arrive.  Diners are asked to leave any foodie inhibitions well and truly at the door and to go with whatever is put in their way!

Places are limited so pre-booking is essential.  The event is €65 per head with matched drinks or €55 per head with soft drinks, includes a cocktail on arrival, 8 courses of delicious food with paired drinks, tea/coffee and live music by DJ Paul Cullen.

Book securely online via Flavour.ie at www.flavour.ie/popup or contact Kate on 086 205 9360.

Who are The Sharp Knife?
The Sharp Knife are a guerilla style street food chef crew from the city.  Their chieftains are Bryan Phelan formerly of Holy Smoke and now at Rachel Allen's new Cork City eatery and Mike McGrath of outstanding Japanese restaurant, Miyazaki. They bring with them a crew that love to mix it up with street food from around the world!  Everything from Middle Eastern to Louisiana Pit Smoke; South East Asian to the Californian Baja Peninsula, nothing is out of bounds.  Be prepared to tear up your taste buds.  Bringing Street Food to the Table. Stay Sharp...

Who is Caroline Hennessy and 8 Degrees Brewing?
Caroline Hennessy is an award winning food writer and journalist, and author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider. Caroline was Ireland's first true food blogger, starting "Bibliocook" in 2005 and hasn't looked back since. Her husband is the co-founder of 8 Degrees Brewery, Ireland's most established and successful craft brewery, and Caroline is heavily involved in the businesses PR and Marketing, cementing her passion for great Irish craft brewing as well as developing recipes for using beer in every day cooking.

Tots Pub
Tots Pub has been welcoming people from all over County Cork for decades and has been more than willing to shake up the image of the sleepy country pub for years under the playful guidance of its landlady, Carmel Dullea. Easy to get to, but smuggled away - it's the perfect place for us to pop up a restaurant. It couldn't feel more exclusive!

Press release from Flavour.ie
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Sunday, March 12, 2017

In Praise of East Cork. Food. People. Place. Worth a Visit!

In Praise of East Cork.
Food. People. Place. Worth a Visit!
Town crier in Youghal
Friendly people, great food, attractions on land and sea, both natural and man-made, make East Cork a gem of a place to visit. From the fantastic 13th century St Mary’s Collegiate Church in Youghal to high class Fota House Gardens and Arboretum, with Barryscourt Castle in between, all three free to enter, there is a treasure chest of places to visit in the area.
Fota Wildlife

The Cafe at Stephen Pearce Pottery

Let me take you on a trip to see part of it. We’ll also enjoy some delicious meals as East Cork is a foodie’s paradise with top notch venues including Sage and Kevin Ahern’s 12 Mile Menu,  Barnabrow (ideal for weddings and a leisurely Sunday lunch), Midleton’s pioneering Farmers Market (every Saturday) and the food mecca of Ballymaloe.
Barnabrow

Coming from the city on the main Cork-Waterford road, take the Cobh exit ramp and head for breakfast or lunch, right to Bramley Lodge, or left to The Bakestone Cafe at Ballyseedy.  Now, set up for the day, go over the nearby bridge to Fota Island and its many attractions.


If you have kids, go the Wildlife Park; if not, walk through the renowned Fota Arboretum and maybe add a tour of the Georgian House. If you like it around here, you may also try the high class  Fota Island Hotel and Golf Resort.
Bramley Lodge


Moving on, go over the Belvelly Bridge and you’ll soon come to Frank Hederman’s famous smokehouse. You are now on Great Island where the cathedral town of Cobh is situated. Much to do here including the Sirius Art Gallery, walking tours (including the Titanic Trail and Spike Island), harbourside bars and restaurants and of course the Cobh Heritage Centre which tells of forced deportations and also the tales of the ill fated liners, The Titanic and the Lusitania.


Fota House and arboretum; walled gardens too

Cruise liners call here regularly during the season, with a carnival atmosphere in the town on the days they are in port. And here boats take you across to newly renovated Spike and also on harbour tours. Maybe you’d just like to walk around the town; I did so recently, taking in the Holy Ground, the Titanic Garden and the Sonia O’Sullivan statue, and you may check it out here. Perhaps you'd prefer just to sit on the decking at The Titanic Bar & Grill and watch the boats go by.


Sonia



Whiskey Sour in Jameson
Time now to head out of the islands and head east to Midleton and a tour of the Jameson Experience. If you give the right answers here, you’ll end up with a certificate of proficiency in whiskey! No shortage of cafes and restaurants here, including the family friendly Granary now celebrating twenty one years in business. In the Cloyne area, the Market Cafe is another family friendly cafe.
Cork Harbour

Cobh Blues Festival

There will be detours, of course. One that I like is off the Whitegate road, out of Midleton. Look out for the signs for East Ferry and enjoy a walk by the estuary and maybe reward yourself with a well cooked meal at Murph’s, a restaurant with a lovely view.

Another suggested detour - you may need a driver here - is to head towards Ballyvolane BHouse near Castlelyons. Lots to do here, including fishing and glamping, and it is also the home of Bertha's Revenge Gin!

Sage 12 mile plate


Next stop is Ballymaloe, the home of modern Irish food. You could spend a day here. Maybe an overnight stay to sample the world renowned cooking. Call to the cafe for a mid afternoon or mid morning  coffee. Be sure to take a look at the impressive Cookery School gardens, not forgetting the Shell House. And don’t forget Golden Bean coffee roaster Marc Kingston is also based here.

The Cafe at the Stephen Pearce pottery in Shanagarry also serves Golden Bean and is now gaining quite a reputation. And, of course, there is the pottery itself!

Sculpture exhibition on lawn at Ballymaloe House

In the nearby seaside village of Ballycotton, take a stroll down to the pier and see the fishermen come and go, maybe take a boat trip to the lighthouse on the nearby island. If you feel you need to stretch the legs, then there is a spectacular walk  along the cliff tops. After all that exercise, treat yourself to a gorgeous meal at Pier 26.
Tight turn for Cobh liner

If you need to overnight, then the Garryvoe Hotel and its top notch Samphire Restaurant, with great views over the bay, is close at hand.
Ballycotton cliff walk

Youghal is the final town, on the Blackwater and just shy of the border with Waterford. On the way, you could stretch the legs in Killeagh’s Glenbower Woods one of many attractive walks in the East Cork area. In Youghal, take a boat trip on the Blackwater. If you want a mid-day salad or sandwich in the town, perhaps after visiting the recently revamped Clock Tower, then the Sage Cafe will take good care of you.

After all the activity, you deserve to rest up for the night. Enjoy a meal in the Old Imperial Hotel on Youghal's main street, maybe just a drink in its old Coachhouse bar, maybe both! Aherne’s, of course, is famous for its seafood and they too have rooms.
Samphire at Garryvoe Hotel

And do try and get your hands on the local craft beers, including Ireland's first organic Red Ale, made by the dedicated team in the town’s Munster Brewery; they also do tours.

And before leaving the area, don’t forget to visit Ballynatray House, a Blackwater gem.

If, at the end of a day's touring, you find yourself heading back towards the city, then do consider the Brook Inn near Glanmire for dinner. It is a lively buzzy place and the food is good there too.

Enjoy East Cork, the food, the place and its people!

Ballynatray House, by the Blackwater

(revised 12.03.17)
If you have a cafe, restaurant, visitor attraction, not listed here, please let me know and I will do my best to visit with a view to inclusion in next revision. You may also use the comment facility below.