Monday, May 20, 2024

Barley and Grape Rag in Ballymaloe Drinks Theatre. Rory Gallagher on the road.

Barley and Grape Rag. 

Rory Gallagher on the road.

“When I'm walking down mainstreet, feeling no pain,

Along comes a cop, he can take my name,

And explain to me what a federal case is,

I'm mixing the barley with the grape again.”

“The road is a dangerous place” said Robbie Robinson of The Band in The Last Waltz. And anyone who saw the recent film 27: Gone Too Soon will have seen why.

The mid-day chat though at the Ballymaloe Drinks Theatre was more on the light-hearted side with Rory’s brother Donal heading a panel that also included wine importer and music lover Pascal Rossignol, wine writer John Wilson and Lee Tiernan (a chef whose Black Axe Mangal restaurant in London has been called “the Sex Pistols of the culinary arts” by the McKennas).

Before it all started, we enjoyed a sup of cider, the unreal Cockagee from the Slane Cider Mill, produced with the traditional “keeving” method  by Mark Jenkinson. If you haven’t tried this, you should!

Pascal introduced this and also the first wine, the Ciape, a gorgeous Piemonte white made from the Cortese grape. More grape to follow as the session began in earnest, including the story that Donal Gallagher once won his weight in wine in a raffle.

John Wilson, who did a stint on pirate radio, told us that the first album in their house was by Rory and bought by John’s sister. The wine writer also mentioned that he has seen music used in a very different way in a few vineyards around the world, employed to put the vines at ease and improve the final outcome.

A good few years back, again at Ballymaloe, Skillogalee winemaker Dave Palmer told a yarn. He was having trouble with the kangaroos helping themselves to the young vines and tried a few counter-measures. Nothing worked until he rigged up a few radios (weather-protected) and when they played, the roos stayed away. But what did Dave play? We were thinking heavy metal. “No,” said Dave, “Current affairs.”

Donal Gallagher

On the previous evening, Lee and Kate from Black Axe Mangal - FKABAM and West Cork’s own Fingal Ferguson from Gubbeen (Lee once worked on the Ferguson’s farm) presented a meal in the Woodshed at Ballymaloe, a fantastic experience according to some attendees that I met.

Lee remarked on Rory’s remarkable energy, saying he had a great interaction with the crowd. “He invested heavily in his audience and they gave it back”.” I’d seen that myself at Shandon Boat Club in the 60s. Rory’s gigs were supposed to be over at a certain time but that hour was rarely honoured as Rory and the fans were enjoying themselves so much.

He got the action, he got the motion
Rory sculpture in Ballyshannon,
his birthplace
Pascal told us about our first red as it was poured, the Terre de Feu, light, fresh and vibrant. It was truly excellent and now on my wish list! It is a light blend of Carignan and Grenache Noir and produced in the Languedoc by the rebels of Les Foulards Rouges.

The opening lines (top) are from Rory’s Barley and Grape Rag, a favourite song of Ronnie Drew’s. “Rory and Ronnie became great friends,” said Donal as he continued through his memories of touring the world with his brother.

I just wonder how many spotted this talent in Rory’s early days. My first memory of him was at a secondary school competition where a question time was followed by a talent show. Rory was a crew-cut competitor with his acoustic guitar and played If I had a Hammer.

In a year or two, the brothers persuaded neighbour Michael Crowley (who had a music shop in MacCurtain Street) to sell them a one hundred pound Fender Stratocaster guitar and “hid” it under Donal’s bed. But Mr Crowley met Mrs Gallagher and asked how Rory was doing with the guitar. The game was up but the Stratocaster stayed. 

MC Colm McCann introduces the Barley & Grape panel (l to r): Pascal Rossignol,
John Wilson, Lee Tiernan and Donal Gallagher.

It vanished temporarily though when stolen but, thanks to an appeal on Garda Patrol, they got it back. Indeed around this time, long-haired Rory was appearing on TV on the Showband Show with a group called the Fontana. Here he learned the craft of a touring musician and eventually led the band in a new bluesey direction and the rest is history.

Our final red wine was another gem,  from Burgundy, home of Pascal. Lively, precise and a real thirst quencher. Irresistible! And the final drink was right up my street as the John Lane whiskey by Power’s is one of my favourites! 

And so ended another enjoyable visit to the fantastic Drinks Theatre, in the capable hands of Colm McCan and his support team, who always keep the show going!

Calling all music buffs to the Rory Gallagher Music Library

Come along to the Rory Gallagher Music Library for Albert’s ‘Listen Back’ session, this time enjoying Dr. Strangely Strange’s 1969 album ‘Kip of the Serenes’.

Join us on Wednesday 22 May at 11.00 am when the album will be introduced in person by band member Ivan Peter Pawle, who will talk us through his most formative record!  

Followed by teas, coffees & chat. 

All welcome!

Friday, May 17, 2024




Irish Distillers, maker of some of the world’s most well-known and enjoyed Irish whiskeys, is proud to introduce the latest whiskey expression from its innovative Micro Distillery, METHOD AND MADNESS Amburana Wood Edition. The first single pot still Irish whiskey aged in casks made from selectively sourced Amburana Wood, usually reserved for spicy-sweet Brazilian spirit Cachaça, this latest release from METHOD AND MADNESS offers a completely revolutionary flavour profile.  

Set to captivate both whiskey enthusiasts and discoverers, METHOD AND MADNESS Amburana Wood Edition is priced at a RRP of €95 and bottled at 46% ABV, with the latest cask experimentation contributing additional notes of marzipan, cardamom and vanilla.

Since 2017, the Micro Distillery has served as the copper canvas for experimentation, combining the wealth of knowledge of the Masters with the inquisitive minds of the Apprentices of Midleton Distillery, to create exceptional innovations that offer something completely unique to the Irish whiskey category. Exploring two primary routes of innovation: distillate creativity and unusual cask sourcing, this latest release celebrates the latter, transforming single pot still whiskey from the Midleton Micro Distillery with a finish in Amburana wood casks that ranges from 4 - 7 months.  

METHOD AND MADNESS Amburana Wood Edition was created from triple distilled single pot still whiskey made using malted and unmalted barley, originally distilled in 2018 and matured in ex-American whiskey oak barrels. This whiskey then finished its journey in South American Amburana wood casks, until it was deemed a whiskey par excellence by the pioneering METHOD AND MADNESS team.

Upon first sip, METHOD AND MADNESS Amburana Wood Edition captivates the taste buds with scents of cardamom, marzipan, and demerara sugar. As the liquid unfolds, a harmonious interplay of clove, cinnamon and heather honey delights the palate. The finish lingers with woodland spice, hazelnut syrup and raw vanilla bean.

Speaking about the whiskey, Barrett Stapleton, Head Distiller at Irish Distillers’ Micro Distillery, said: "We’re delighted to launch METHOD AND MADNESS Amburana Wood Edition, an exciting expression crafted at the Micro Distillery in Midleton. Having trialled a variety of wood finishes, the team felt it was the optimum time to showcase the unique and interesting flavour profile of Amburana wood. This expression pushes the boundaries by using innovative wood, unlocking new flavours and yielding a truly distinctive character in the resulting whiskey."

METHOD AND MADNESS is the pioneering Irish whiskey brand renowned for pushing the boundaries of traditional distilling. The brand is designed to reflect a next generation Irish spirit with a measure of curiosity and intrigue (MADNESS), while honouring the tradition grounded in the generations of expertise at Midleton Distillery (METHOD).

METHOD AND MADNESS Amburana Finish will be available from 17th May exclusively in-store at The Barry Group Off Licences nation wide and on-line at and at Midleton Distillery Collection

Tasting Notes:
Nose: Cardamom, Marzipan, Demerara Sugar
Taste: Clove, Cinnamon, Heather Honey
Finish: Woodland Spice, Hazelnut Syrup, Vanilla
Shop online:  Midleton Distillery Collection or at

press release

Looking for Chianti Classico? Look no further. This Ormanni Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2019 is elegant, powerful and beautifully balanced.

Ormanni Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2019, 14.5% ABV 

€25.00 Bubble Brothers 

If you're looking for Chianti Classico, look no further. Elegant, powerful and beautifully balanced.

This organic Ormanni has a light bright red ruby colour. The fragrance is intense, cherry leading the way. Beautiful red fruits on the palate, hints of liquorice, and a touch of light spice add to its amazing drinkability. The fruit factor is high but the power is balanced, and this light and elegant wine progresses smoothly to a lingering finish.

A superb Classico and Very Highly Recommended. Pair with cured meats, pasta with gravy, stewed and grilled meat and Tuscan cheese (or a wedge of Durrus!). And dishes with tomato sauce!

While Sangiovese was always the basis for the Classico, it was blended with many other grapes, including international reds and white grapes over the years. The adulteration didn’t help its reputation and Chianti became just another mass-produced wine. 

According to VINO, “in the last twenty years, more and more growers have been awakening to the capacity of a 100 per cent single variety Chianti Classico… others have returned to the classic combination of Sangiovese for character, Canailo for comfort, and Colorino for colour to make outstanding Chianti.”

The estate was founded by the Ormanni family in the XIII century - check it out in Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy (see quote at end). It is owned by the Brini family since 1818.  Paolo Brini Batecchi together with his daughter Paola run the winery today.

This Chianti Classico is produced with Sangiovese from their vineyards in the Municipality of Barberino Tavernelle. The wine is made principally from Sangiovese grapes, with ten per cent of Canaiolo, all estate grown, and aged for twelve months in oak barrels and casks.

Geek Bits for the Sangiovese fan.

Sangiovese means blood of Jove and is called after the Roman god known for playing around with thunderbolts.

Sangiovese has high acidity and as a result, matches well with “all manner of spicy foods”, according to Wine Folly who concludes “it will not get lost when paired with tomato sauce.”

The black cockerel badge on this, and other Chianti Classico, is celebrating 100 years. In 1924,  33 vineyard owners combined to form the original consorzio for the defence of Chianti. The cockerel (Gallo Nero) is now world-famous. Source: Tuscany Fine Wine Editions.

The vast majority of Sangiovese is grown in Italy. But it has many names here including Rosso di Montalcino, Carmignano, Montefalco Rossi, Morellino di Scansano, Rosso Conero, Torgiano Rosso and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. We’ll meet some of them in this series.

  • This post is part of a series of Italian wines produced by usually small or medium-sized organic wineries made from native grapes. Taking some “guidance” here from the recently published VINO. Mightn’t always net the hat trick but hope to score two from the three each time. I have quite a few lined up but I’m happy to consider any suggestions or help. #OrganicItaly
  • ““so that it should not seem remarkable when I speak of the noble Florentines, whose fame is buried by time. I have seen the Ughi, seen the Catellini, the Filippi, Grechi, Ormanni and Alberichi, illustrious families already on the wane”. ”

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) – Divine Comedy, Paradise Canto XVI

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Granville's: Macroom's Culinary Gem Rises from the Ashes

Granville's: Macroom's Culinary Gem Rises from the Ashes

Menu Locally Sourced, Globally Inspired

In 2007, Paul and Leonie Granville transformed a derelict site into a Macroom jewel, Granville's Bar and Restaurant. A 2021 fire tested their resilience, but the family bounced back stronger than ever. It is a friendly place, service is with a smile and a chat and is also efficient.

The menu showcases the best of Irish produce. Succulent Irish beef and lamb, Toons Bridge Dairy cheese and fresh seafood from Valentia Island are examples. Award-winning Hereford sirloin steaks and an enticing seafood selection are always crowd-pleasers.

Hazelnut Creme Brûlée 

Chef Brian Granville, the couple's son, adds a delightful twist with dishes like Indian-spiced monkfish with pineapple salsa and Continental-style chicken schnitzel. We savoured these flavour-filled dishes, both served with generous portions of salad and fries. Here you get both quality and quantity!

Don't miss the daily specials, featuring local stars like the Toonsbridge Halloumi and Piri Piri hake. The Celebration of Irish Duck, a medley of pan-seared breast, slow-cooked leg lollipop, and duck spring roll, is a must-try.

Salad (with chicken in background)

Sweet Endings and More:

Homemade desserts like the Hazelnut Creme Brûlée with homemade shortbread are the perfect finalé. The extensive wine list offers popular varietals by the glass, along with sparkling options and creative cocktails. For a casual drink, the bar boasts a wide selection of spirits, beers, and local 9 White Deer brews. I enjoyed a glass of Mitchell’s Green Spot whiskey.

Indian-spiced Monkfish

A Town Reborn:

Granville's is a favourite among locals and travellers (who now enjoy a smoother journey thanks to the recently completed bypass). Finding parking is easy, especially on Sundays when we secured a spot right in the square. Weekday parking may require a short walk to nearby lots.

Chicken Schnitzel

Granville's Contact Details

Tel: +353 26 20191


Instagram: granvillesmacroom


Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Fattoria di Vaira Vincenzo Bianco, brimming with the promise of juicy goodness

Fattoria di Vaira Vincenzo Bianco 2021, 12.0% ABV

RRP: €20.95. Stockists: Le Caveau, 64 Wine, Greenman Wines, Bradleys Cork

Brimming with the promise of juicy goodness

Our blend in hand, which is organic, is dry and aromatic with a cloudy golden hue, brimming with the promise of juicy goodness.  On the nose, it's a delightful dance of white flowers, apricot, and peach, with a touch of pine and herbal intrigue. The palate is surprisingly dry and refreshingly herbaceous, with hints of orange peeking through. Light tannins and lively acidity keep it balanced and ensure a crisp,

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Taste of the Week. Hederman's Whole Smoked Mackerel.

Taste of the Week. 

Hederman's Whole Smoked Mackerel.

Salad days are here. To stay? Well, we did get a few beauties last weekend and should get quite a few more in the months ahead.

When the sun shines, you want to be out, at a picnic by the beach or at a table in the garden. You don't want to be stuck

Livio Felluga Sharis Bianco Venezia Giulia. From one of the exceptional producers in the area

Livio Felluga Sharis Bianco Venezia Giulia (IGT) Sharis 2022, 13% ABV.

RRP €32.95. Stockists: Barnhill Stores, 64 Wine, Drink Store, Jus de Vine

from one of the exceptional producers in Friuli Venezia Giulia

This Chardonnay and Ribolla Gialla blend from Venezia Giulia, has a gold/yellow colour. Vibrant aromas are floral and fruity, quite intense, with hints of juniper and elderberry. Fresh with tropical fruit on the tangy palate. 

You may also notice the

Monday, May 13, 2024

Curragh Wood. A Coillte wood near Midleton

 Curragh Wood

A Coillte wood near Midleton

More info, and

An old favourite is Beer of the Week. Eight Degrees Howling Gale Ale.

Beer of the Week

Eight Degrees Howling Gale Ale 4.5% ABV, 440 ml can, No 21 Cork

An "old" favourite!

Didn’t realise until today that I’ve been enjoying Eight Degrees Howling Gale on and off since

Friday, May 10, 2024

Comfort and class as Greene's spring into summer with a new colourful interior and a new flavoursome menu.

Comfort and class as Greene's spring into summer with a new colourful interior and a new flavoursome menu. 


With pessimism (mostly) seeping through the restaurant industry at the time, the last thing Cork diners wanted to hear last February was that Greene’s was closing, even if only for a renovation and a reboot. But that dark mood has been lifted in this restaurant at least when Greene’s reopened last week.

The pictures of the revamped interior were

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Rodano's Chianti Classico reflects a sense of place and tradition

Rodano Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2019, 14.50% ABV

RRP: €23.80. Stockists: Le Caveau, 64 Wine, Greenman Wines, Bradleys Cork

“Reflects a sense of place and tradition”

Our gorgeous Chinati Classico has a bright ruby colour with a garnet rim. Aromas are soft but fairly intense with cherries, forest fruit and an earthy hint. The savoury fruit is well balanced by the striking acidity and the long finish is enhanced by lingering red fruit flavours plus a hint of smoke.

Importers Le Caveau are happy with it: “..great to taste a