Monday, June 17, 2024

Try it with Florentine Steak, rare of course. Poggiotondo Terre di Cresci Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2021

Poggiotondo Terre di Cresci Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2021, 14.5% ABV

RRP €30.95. Stockists: Blackrock Cellar,

Try it with Florentine Steak, rare of course

Our latest Chianti Classico has a vibrant garnet colour. Black cherries and plums, floral notes and spice may also be detected in the aromatics. Spice and fruit on the palate are matched by the lively acidity as the elegant delightful full-bodied wine heads to a persistent finish.

Another gem from the heart of Tuscany and Very Highly Recommended. It is a great wine at the table and will pair well with a wide range, such as roasted meats, grilled vegetables, and aged cheeses. 

If lucky enough to be in Tuscany, then be sure and try it with Florentine Steak, rare of course (some restaurants here prohibit well-done!).  Thanks to its acidity, dishes with tomato sauce will be “no problemo” to your Poggiotondo Classico. Enjoy.

One of my rare nights in Florence

It is an excellent example of the quality of Chianti Classico wines. It is also authentic. How do we know this?  You’ll notice that it is designated DOCG as are all our Classico selections to date. DOCG is top of the wine pyramid in Italy, followed closely by DOC and then IGT, all above the base Table Wine. Chianti Classico DOCG wines can be traced from the vineyard to the bottle, given that their entire production process is monitored and recorded.

Thanks to the distinctive Government Seal that uniquely identifies each bottle, with a simple click of your mouse it will be possible to discover the specific characteristics and origin of each Gallo Nero wine.

I checked the seal on this one at 

and soon had it confirmed as the real thing, confirming the producer and the certification that it is indeed what it says it is. 

Another quality indicator is the Gallo Nero stamp. The black cockerel seal on this was first used In 1924 when 33 vineyard owners combined to form the original consorzio for the defence of Chianti.

Check out our growing list of organic Italy wines here

Farol Illuminates Sundays Well with Authentic Portuguese Delights!

Farol Illuminates Sundays Well with 

Authentic Portuguese Delights!
Exquisite clams!

Craving a taste of Portugal? Look no further than Farol, the exciting new restaurant lighting up Sundays Well! Nestled in the former Vikki's space, Farol offers a vibrant taste of Portuguese cuisine that's sure to tantalise your taste buds. Farol, meaning "lighthouse" in Portuguese, isn't just another restaurant; it's a culinary journey that transports you straight to the heart of Portugal.

Pic by medoa7164 from Pixabay

A Tapas Triumph

We embarked on a tapas odyssey, and each dish was a revelation. The Ameijoas a Farol – succulent clams bathed in a fragrant garlic-white wine sauce with a touch of heat – were simply exquisite. But the true queen of the table was the Camarao ao Alho. These luscious shrimp, sizzling in a pan of garlic-infused olive oil, were melt-in-your-mouth perfection and provoked an intensification of the "oohs" and "aahs", that began with the clams and set the tone for the evening.

 Flavourful Feast Continues

The Moelas – slow-cooked chicken gizzards in a rich tomato sauce – were bursting with flavour and beautifully tender. The Pataniscas de Bacalhau, a classic Portuguese dish of cod fritters seasoned with spices, onions, and parsley, offered another delightful explosion of taste.



Beyond Tapas: Francesinha and More

While we devoured the tapas, the main course descriptions had us eager to return. The Bacalhau promises succulent fried cod paired with fries and sautéed onions, finished with a flourish of flamed wine. For a hearty option, the Feijoada – a stew with tender pork, chorizo, and beans in a savoury broth served with rice – is a must-try.

For the adventurous eaters, Farol offers the Francesinha, a legendary Portuguese creation. This masterpiece features layers of beef, ham, and Linguiça sausage nestled between slices of bread, all topped with melted cheese and a fried egg. Drenched in a rich beer-tomato sauce and served with fries, it's an explosion of flavour and texture.

Of course, steaks and fish 'n chips grace the menu, but the likes of the Francesinha and the Feijoada will have you yearning for a return visit.

Liquid Accompaniments and Beyond

House wines are a steal at €6 a glass, with a fish-friendly  Alvarinho gracing the shortlist. Sangria is a must-try for those seeking a refreshing option, and a couple of non-draught beers round out the beverage selection.

A Touch of Portugal at Home

We couldn't resist buying a few of their top-notch Pastel de Nata (Portuguese custard tarts) at €2 each as we made our exit. While the Portugal v. Ireland game may not have gone our way😉, these delicious pastries provided a sweet consolation prize.

Farol, meaning "lighthouse" in Portuguese, lives up to its name. The bright and welcoming interior features a light blue and white colour scheme, with nautical touches scattered throughout. Even the TV displayed a Portuguese channel during our visit! And for those seeking an al fresco experience during Euro 2024, fear not – Farol will be showcasing all the games on a big screen in their garden! Tomorrow evening could well be a good time to visit as Portugal play the Czech Republic in a group game

Farol is more than just a restaurant; it's an illuminating experience when it comes to the real taste of the Portugal. 

Friday, June 14, 2024

For One Night Only New York’s "The Dead Rabbit Bar" To Take Over Cask in Cork

press release

For One Night Only New York’s The Dead Rabbit Bar 

To Take Over Cask in Cork 

Ian Alexander, Bar Director of the world-renowned The Dead Rabbit will be in Cask serving cocktails on June 18th from 7 pm to 10 pm

The Dead Rabbit, a highly acclaimed New York bar, has been recognised with numerous awards including World's Best Bar for its modern reinterpretation of the traditional Irish pub.

Cask’s managing partner Andy Ferreira, says "We can't wait to welcome The Dead Rabbit to Cork City. It's exciting for our guests to taste some of their cocktails and experience firsthand their world-renowned hospitality"

Bar director of The Dead Rabbit, Ian Alexander will be serving a range of cocktails by The Dead Rabbit using local Cork ingredients, which Cask is known for. Signature cocktails will be available on Tuesday night, including the Irish Coffee Alexander with West Cork Irish Whiskey, Coffee Liqueur, Pedro Ximenez Sherry, Cacao, Cassis, Five Farms Cream Float, the Masa Masa with Maharani Irish Gin, Red Corn Atole, Chai, Sumac, Lemon and the Hotmail with Copeland Rums, Almond, Curaçao, Lime. 

Ian shares Andy’s excitement, “I’m beyond excited to step behind such an iconic bar and whip up some Dead Rabbit drinks. This will be my first time in Cork, but I’ve heard plenty about the warm hospitality.”

For bookings send an email to Cask is located at 48 MacCurtain Street, Victorian Quarter, Cork, T23 F104. 

Keep up to date with the latest news by following Cask Cork on social at @caskcork and 

A pure expression of the land where it is grown. Integro Negroamaro Puglia.

Integro Negroamaro Puglia (IGP) 2022, 13.5% ABV

€16.95 at O’Briens Wine

A pure expression of the land where it is grown


Intense ruby is the colour of this organic wine from the heel of Italy. Very fruity nose with cherry prominent. Cherry and red berry fruit flavours in the palate and it is a little on the spicy side. This though is a smooth wine, elegant even, and the finish is deep and lingering

 A pure expression of the land where it is grown and it is Very Highly Recommended.

Neither the grape (widely grown here and almost nowhere else) nor the region would be all that familiar to the casual wine drinker. Puglia is the Italian name of the region while the Anglicised version is Apulia; it is in the sunny and fertile area often referred to as the stiletto heel of the Italian boot (though that term is also applied to Salento at the extreme south).

Here, the Negroamaro grape is even more widely grown than the better-known Primitivo. There is an increasing interest in Negroamaro but, according to VINO, it still “remains an excellent value for the money”.

Integro says that the Salento, where the organic grapes are grown, has a microclimate “perfectly suited to producing rich, complex, full-bodied wines. Our philosophy is to be in perfect harmony with nature, intervening only when absolutely necessary, thereby ensuring that each and every grape variety expresses its own personality.” The Salento peninsula is the southernmost portion of Puglia where the Ionian and Adriatic seas meet and mix.

Food Pairings: Meatballs in tomato sauce, grilled meat, lasagne or chickpea soup. Perfect with pasta dishes with tomato-based sauces, red meat and game. Wine Folly suggests foods like barbecue chicken pizza, pulled pork sandwiches, and teriyaki. Plenty of choice there!

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 of "small, organic, native", 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

  • See the emerging Organic Italy list here 
  • Check out  our Top Wines 2024 list (with stockists and short reviews) here 
  • Looking for better value? All under 20 euro. Click here

Thursday, June 13, 2024

On the craft trail with two Kerry beers and a Kilkenny cider. West Kerry Brewery, Killarney Brewing and Highbank Orchards

On the craft trail with two Kerry beers and a Kilkenny cider. West Kerry, Killarney Brewing and Highbank Orchards


West Kerry Blue Rose Ale 5.1% ABV, 500 ml bottle Bradleys

West Kerry threw out their rule book and this beautiful traditional ale is the result.

Colour is a light hazy gold with zillions of microbubbles crowding towards the soft white top. That dry hopping, an extra touch, is immediately noticeable in the aromas and on the palate. It has a pleasant, flowery, spicy, citrus-like quality with a slight grapefruit characteristic which is what you’d expect from the Cascade hops used.

Medium-bodied, it is refreshing with somewhat more bitterness than you'd normally get from a pale ale. Cascade can be used to make any ales, and “is characteristic of American pale ales, such as the classic Sierra Nevada”. An excellent ale and Highly Recommended but, for me, not quite as exquisite as their original Béal Bán Golden Ale.

The Gaeltacht brewers explain how the Renegade Series came about. “The genesis of this series came with the idea to throw out our own rule book – the rules being with the emphasis on the barley, malted and un-malted. With nothing more satisfying than breaking a few rules we thought to experiment with dry hopping. This is a process of adding a ‘tea’ of fresh hops to the conditioning tank and bringing more of their flavours to the beers.”

Dry hopped with American Cascade, this hand crafted traditional ale became their first in the Renegade Series. After the Blue Rose Irish Pale Ale, they followed up with an Antipodean IPA and a Festive IBA (Irish Black Ale).

All their beers are brewed with the same yeast, which is a little unusual. Breweries normally match the style of beers to different yeast types, but “we like to do it the other way around, and we design the recipe for each of our beers ourselves. But what we like to think makes our beers even more special is our water, which is full of lime and as luck would have it, ale yeast loves limey water, ensuring our beers are flavoursome, and feel round and soft in the mouth”.

Pic via HIghbank.

Highbank Organic Medieval Cider, 2019, 500 ml bottle, 6.0% ABV, Ballymaloe Food Festival

Colour is close to orange, close to amber. Aromas hint at the sweetness to come on the palate and that may not be to everyone’s taste. The blend of their Organic Cider with Organic Honey has come off well and, for me, a balance emerges, tannins providing an astringent touch before the long finish. Should be a good cider with food and Highbank recommends meat courses and particularly spiced food (see recipe below).

This traditional honeyed cider, fermented on Highbank’s own natural organic yeasts, is gluten-free with, no added sulphites.

Highbank Medieval Cider is named in honour of their medieval home towns of Callan and Kilkenny and that honey and cider were famously popular in medieval times in the fertile hinterland of County Kilkenny, drawing visitors from afar.

Recipe for Pork Brined in Rum and Cider with Apples 

Killarney Scarlet Pimpernel IPA 6.0% ABV, 500 ml bottle at the brewery shop.

The most striking aspect of this beer, at least visually, is the deep red colour.

And red also comes into the beer’s name. There is a statue of a priest, dressed in an old-fashioned clerical manner, at an entrance to Killarney National Park. He is striding out, a man in a hurry. They seek him here, they seek him there - he is O’Flaherty, the Scarlet Pimpernel. This IPA is named in his honour.

In the same way, as O’Flaherty broke barriers, so too has Killarney Brewing busted tradition with this red colour. The IPA is built “on a smooth malty base”. Aromas are moderate, citrus and pine. There’s a light caramel sweetness on the palate. Overall, a good balance is found, hop bitterness is moderate, and they boldly recommend it as “a perfect partner for full-flavoured dishes”. I know Killarney say this is an American-style IPA but it also has similarities to a red ale.

During WW2, Rome-based Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty saved over 6,500 people by hiding them in monasteries, farms, and other locations. After the war, he was awarded the US Medal of Freedom and Commander of the British Empire.

Old Brennans Wine House. A New Wine Gem Emerges on Oliver Plunkett Street

Time to open up!
A New Wine Gem Emerges on Oliver Plunkett Street

Chapeau to Frank Schiltkamp (the city's self-proclaimed football-loving "Dutchie in the City") and Benny McCabe (serial entrepreneur behind Cork's beloved Heritage pubs) who have transformed Brennan's Cookware shop into a full-fledged wine haven!

Step Inside a World of Wine

Shiny new timber welcomes you into Old Brennans Wine House, beckoning you to explore its two floors. Take a peek at the art gallery upstairs, then head downstairs to the main event: the inviting wine bar. Sink into a comfy chair and browse the extensive selection – a global tour from Old Europe to the New World.

A Feast for Wine Lovers (and Social Media)

The only thing missing? That wine list online! We all crave a pre-visit peek, so hopefully, they'll soon post it on social media. In the meantime, their knowledgeable servers are happy to guide you.

Our Wine & Nibble Adventure

We embarked on our own vino voyage, settling on two European delights. First, a sip of Robert Brunet's Gamay, a Beaujolais beauty from organically farmed vines. Second, the Barbera Ghercina from Piedmont – intense, juicy, and oh-so-satisfying.

Perfectly Paired Nibbles

No wine adventure is complete without food! Old Brennans offers a selection of nibbles, small plates, and sharing boards. We opted for a board featuring Martelli Milan Salame, Bresaola, and San Michel Parma Ham, accompanied by red onion relish, pickles, and crusty sourdough.

Beyond the Grape

While wine takes centre stage, there's more to explore. They offer other beverages, including Killahora's innovative perry, and even a shot of vodka might pair well with those tempting banderillas (pickled vegetable skewers) though I think that the Basque wine Txakoli would be just perfect.

A Work in Progress Worth Watching

Old Brennans Wine House, barely two weeks "old", is still finding its feet, and we can't wait to see how it evolves! Keep an eye on their Instagram for updates (we certainly will!). So, raise a glass and toast the arrival of this exciting new venue – Cork's wine lovers have a new reason to celebrate!

Summer in the City at Anantara The Marker Dublin Hotel

 Hotel Press Releases SU24


Summer in the City at Anantara The Marker Dublin Hotel

Anantara The Marker Dublin Hotel Launches Exciting Summer Soirée Series

 on the Iconic Rooftop Bar & Terrace

The luxurious, Anantara The Marker Dublin Hotel is thrilled to announce the launch of its new Summer Soirée Series, a trio of vibrant summer events set to take place on the hotel's iconic Rooftop Bar & Terrace in June, July and August. These three exclusive gatherings promise a perfect blend of gourmet cuisine, bespoke cocktails, and live music, making them the ultimate destination for summer entertainment in Dublin.

Guests at the Summer Soirée Series will be treated to tantalising sharing plates and light bites, meticulously crafted by the hotel's renowned Executive Chef, Gareth Mullins. Each dish will be paired with bespoke handcrafted cocktails, designed to complement the flavours and enhance the overall experience. The atmosphere will be further elevated by a live DJ, creating the perfect soundtrack for easy summer living.

Upon arrival, guests will be greeted with a welcome cocktail, setting the tone for an unforgettable afternoon. Cocktail options include such delights as Rosemary Gin Spritzer, Aperol Spritz, White Port & Tonic and Dingle Gin & Tonic.

Sample dishes from the set-menu include a grazing board to share, featuring house-baked focaccia, aged balsamic vinegar, and cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. The Buttermilk Spiced Chicken, served with waffles, chipotle salsa, and crème fraiche offers the perfect blend of heat and crunch.  Finish off your meal with the taste of summer and try the Baileys Tres Leches. It’s topped with raspberries, fresh cream, and basil and is evocative of long, lazy summer days

The Rooftop Bar & Terrace at Anantara The Marker Dublin Hotel offers breathtaking 360° views of Dublin’s coast and cityscape, providing a stunning backdrop for the Summer Soirée Series. As guests sip on their cocktails and savour gourmet bites, they can also enjoy live music, creating a truly immersive experience that captures the essence of summer in the city

The first edition of the Summer Soirée Series is scheduled for Saturday, 29th June and runs from 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm. Price: €59, including a welcome cocktail on arrival.

To book, please email or call  +353 1 687 5104

The Rooftop Bar & Terrace at Anantara The Marker Dublin Hotel is open 7 days a week: Mon- Friday from 5pm to 11.00pm, Saturday from 3- 11pm and Sunday’s from 3pm to 9.00pm.

Overlooking the Waterfront on Grand Canal Square in the heart of Dublin City, Anantara The Marker Dublin Hotel offers sleek architecture, design, and an incredible location. Part of the regenerated Docklands that exemplify the city’s cosmopolitan future, the hotel is ideal for both business and leisure guests. The area is home to tech and finance giants, chic restaurants, and world-class theatres. Offering eight state-of-the-art event and meeting facilities and 187 renovated stylish guest rooms over six floors, guests can savour the best of modern Irish cuisine at Forbes Street by Gareth Mullins. This exceptional hotel also includes the luxurious Anantara Spa with an indoor pool and extensive thermal facilities. 




Chefs at the Metropole Hotel in Cork City have teamed with local producers to create a new summer-themed afternoon tea.

Head Chef Mark Cronin and Pastry Chef Alicja have curated an exciting

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Taste of the Week. Choice of three

Taste of the Week. 

Choice of three.

Choose one, or all three!

I've been enjoying some superb Irish-made cheese in recent weeks. It is tough to pick one as Taste of the Week so I'll highlight all three here, all from On the Pig's Back.

1 - Boyne Valley Bán

This is a white goat’s cheese, similar in style to the French Tomme cheese (also stocked by On the Pig's Back). In 2018, Boyne Valley Bán won gold and ‘Best Irish Cheese’ in the British Cheese Awards, received 3 stars, and was nominated for a ‘Golden Fork’ award in the Great Taste Awards.

This is a delightful cheese made on Mullagha Farm by the Finegan family from milk produced by their own goats (they have 300 milkers!). It has a waxy, gouda-style rind, and the flavours are slightly sharp and salty with a real goat milk tang. Well worth exploring this semi-hard cheese.

2 - Durrus

Durrus Cheese is a classic semi-soft cheese, another multi-award winner. The flavour of the Durrus can range from mild, mellow and grassy when young to rich, strong and earthy when aged. The original recipe was created by the pioneering Jeffa Gill in 1979.

The cheese is now in its 5th decade and produced by daughter and mother Sarah Hennessy and Jeffa , with Ann McGrath and the rest of the team continuing their invaluable roles in producing the award-winning artisan cheeses. The top-quality milk has been sourced from Corney and John Buckley’s herd of Friesian cows for over three decades, and also from Noel Dukelow's herd on the shores of Dunmanus Bay. 

3 - Kylemore, Co. Galway

Teresa Roche's family has been farming their land in the Slieve Aughty Mountains for over 200 years and they are now the proud makers of Kylemore Farmhouse Cheese. The unique award-winning cheese is inspired by the Swiss Alps.

The outstanding cheese boasts a good depth of unique flavours, lasting notes of mild nutty creamy buttery flavours, with a natural handmade rind with a smooth texture. It is similar to Gruyére style cheese and may be found on the Cheese list of Ashford Castle. 

I first tasted this striking semi-hard cheese at the recent Ballymaloe Food Fest and immediately bought myself a decent wedge. It too is an award winner and is handmade with their own pedigree cows' fresh summer milk on their farm in the foothills of the Sliabh Aughty mountains.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Rosso di Caparsa. A natural expression of a traditional grape from the heart of Tuscany

Rosso di Caparsa Toscano (IGT), 13% ABV

RRP 23.95; Stockists:, 64 Wine, Greenman Wines, Bradleys Cork, Le Caveau online

A natural expression of a traditional grape from the heart of Tuscany

This Caparsa Sangiovese has a brilliant medium red colour. Sangiovese aromas can vary quite a bit; these are of medium intensity showing red cherry and soft sweet balsamic notes. Mid-bodied with very agreeable flavours (sour cherry,  plum, strawberry), it is easy to drink and has a lingering finish.

Very Highly Recommended.

The fruit comes from Radda in Chianti, the heart of Tuscany, in hilly, high-elevation vineyards. Wild yeasts are used for fermentation, and the wine ages in stainless steel. It is produced with Sangiovese and small quantities of two white grapes Trebbiano and Malvasia. 

The best vineyards (450 metres above sea level) are situated a short walk from the cellar and are heavily planted with Sangiovese. Small amounts of Canaiolo, Malvasia Nera, Colorino, and Trebbiano are also grown.

“Making wines this thrilling has to be done naturally”, declares Tenuta Caparsa’s Paolo Cianferoni. Here in this rocky ground, the roots must work hard to “derive life”, fight to reach the abundant water deep under the surface. Cianferoni appreciates the struggle of his vines. “When life is too easy it becomes boring, and you kill yourself” he said. “We need toil to sustain us, and so do vines.”

Cianferoni bottles an average of 20,000 bottles a year. “If I stay small I control everything.” He ferments in concrete (18/36 months), thus preserving the aromas and simplicity of the wines of the past. It is organic certified by CCPB Bologna. 

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 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 more 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