Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Excellent wines from uncommon grapes: Loureiro and Treixadura


Excellent wines from uncommon grapes: Loureiro and Treixadura

Antonio Lopes Ribeiro Vinho Verde (DOC) 2015, 9%, €17.96 Mary Pawle Wines

One variety, one river. It says on the label. Better tell you about the variety as I had to look it up myself.  It is 100% Loureiro. Wine-Searcher says it is a thin skinned white grape variety native to northern Portugal and used to make the ever trendy Vinho Verde wines. Taking its name from the laurel or bay-leaf plant for its resembling aroma, Loureiro wines are refreshing with a slight effervescence. They have fresh acidity and are low in alcohol making them a perfect wine to enjoy on its own or with light meals.

Many of you will be familiar with Vinho Verde wines from the north west coast of Portugal which has a relatively cool climate, perfect for growing vines. Quite often Loureiro is used in a blend. Food pairings suggested include with canapés or seafood. It also pairs raw fish in a flawless fashion (sushi, sashimi) and dishes of strong and exotic flavor (especially oriental food).

This organic crisp and dry wine, from Casa de Mouraz, has a light straw colour. Aromas of peach and apricot, orange blossom too. It doesn’t have the obvious petillance that you sometimes get in Vinho Verde but there is a quite a tingle on the palate. Fruit is light and lively and the high acidity reinforces its refreshing nature. This low alcohol Vinho Verde, even without the bubbles, is Highly Recommended.


“La Flor de Margot” Treixadura Ribeiro (DO) 2016, 12.5%, €18.30 Karwig Wines

A grape name that is not very familiar on Irish shelves features in this white from the north west of Spain. Treixadura is grown mainly in Spain and in Portugal where they call it Trajadura. It is usually blended. This one though is 100% Treixadura and has been aged on its lees.

It boast an attractive light gold colour, lots of tiny bubbles cling to the glass. Aromas are fresh, both fruity and floral. Flavours of peach and apricot mainly, also citrus; it has a lovely mouthfeel and the citrus is more in play through to the long finish. Wouldn’t mind a few examples of this one, Highly Recommended.

Seafood is widely considered a match, eg clams in tomato sauce, seared scallops with herb salad. Red peppers stuffed with cheese is also recommended.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Taste of the Week. Rosscarbery Irish Biltong


Taste of the Week
Rosscarbery Irish Biltong


You’re a person on the go. Playing stamina sapping games. Surfing. Climbing. Hill Climbing. Farming. Maybe you’re just hovering the stairs carpet. And you need a quick snack to boost those energy levels. Well, our latest Taste of the Week might interest you. The Irish Biltong by Rosscarbery Recipes is naturally high in protein, a great on the go snack made from 100% Angus beef. Just sea salt, organic raw cane sugar, toasted coriander, ground black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and dried Irish seaweed have been added to the beef.

The Allshires, the family behind Rosscarbery and Caherbeg Pork, are well known in West Cork and beyond and it was one of the younger members, son Maurice, who developed this product. Initially is was for himself. 

An active young man, he was unimpressed with the snacks available, certainly with those long lists of strange ingredients. “I needed something tasty, something that I could rely on with an ingredient list that a toddler could read.” And so he developed Rosscarbery Biltong around his own lifestyle. It took a while though but now it is widely available.

The beef has been cured and air dried and cut into small strips and the product comes ready to eat in a pocketable pack. Just put a piece on your tongue and allow the juices in your mouth to work their magic. The beef softens and you can chew away to your heart’s content. Another  strip or two and you’re ready to move that mountain, well climb that hill!

Caherbeg
Rosscarbery
Co. Cork

Monday, March 18, 2019

Cafe Paradiso. World Champion Farm-to-Plate


Cafe Paradiso. World Champion Farm-to-Plate
Aubergine parcels (Paradiso pic)

If I put my all too infrequent visits to Café Paradiso together, the common carrot would be the common thread. 

Maybe I shouldn’t say the common carrot as there is nothing common about the way the vegetable is treated here. You can get it in any state from raw baby (with leaves attached) to roasted as we did last Friday evening. Besides, these carrots come from Gort na Nain Farm and the long-standing combination of that farm and this leading Irish restaurant has seen Denis Cotter of Paradiso and Ultan Walsh of Gort na Nain win the Collaboration of the Year prize at the recent World Restaurant Awards in Paris.
Baby carrots (2013)

I think my first carrot experience on Lancaster Quay was  Baby Carrots with buttermilk yoghurt and the kombu. Last Friday’s was Roast carrots, Macroom buffalo mozzarella, burnt aubergine, honey, pickled fennel, ras-el-hanout crumb. Being a country boy, I’m partial to carrot, have grown and eaten a lot of them, but this was exceptional, soft and sweet and so well enhanced by the other bits and pieces.

That was one of our starters - we were sharing them as it’s a great way to extend the excellent experience here in this busy, buzzy room, a very popular place even before world recognition! 
Roast carrots (2019)

Our other opener was Kohlrabi, asparagus and daikon salad, pickled rhubarb and radish, lamb’s lettuce, black garlic, hazelnut, sheep’s milk labneh. An entirely different dish, more colourful, full of crunchy texture, one to crunch and savour each delicious biteful. Just as with the carrot, you can feel the freshness. 

These vegetables haven’t travelled far! Just from the farm in Nohoval - by the way, their vegetable stall was due to open this month. Check the Gort-na-Nain facebook for updates here.

Paradiso has a superb wine list. The lower end and the slow-moving higher end were chopped from the list about three years ago and what remains is packed with quality, great choices, between approximately thirty and fifty five euro a bottle. By the way, all the wines are available by the glass, by 250ml (quartino) and 500ml (mezzo) carafe and by the bottle.
Corn pancakes

We had started with the Domaine Séguinot Bordet Chablis 1er Cru 2016, bright and vivacious, harmonious from start to finish. And our second wine - we knew we had to have this even before we left home - was the superb Jean Foillard Morgon ‘Cote du Py’, 2016. This natural wine, intense and soft, from Beaujolais is one the very best expressions of the Gamay grape you are likely to come across. 
Kohlrabi


Corn pancakes of leek, parsnip and Dunmanus cheese (by Durrus), potato-wild garlic terrine, fennel-caper salsa, smoked tomato is a delightful main dish, very highly recommended if you get an opportunity to call in.

Again we were sharing and we both enjoyed the Aubergine parcels of spinach and Knockalara sheep’s cheese, miso gravy, walnut crumb, beluga lentils, broad beans, purple potato. Thought that the potato was beetroot at first - all those coloured vegetables nowadays makes it hard to keep up!

One of my friends, who travels widely in the hospitality industry, told me a few years back: "It is not alone the best vegetarian restaurant in Ireland, it is probably the best restaurant in Ireland”. I wonder has the Michelin man ever called to Lancaster Quay.


16 Lancaster Quay
Cork
Tel: +353 21 4277 939
Opening Hours: Monday - Saturday, 17:30 - 21.30

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Amuse Bouche - Bank Holiday Special


It was just me and the other guy. The blue kite.
The tension in the air was as taut as the glass string I was tugging with my bloody hands. People were stomping their feet, clapping, whistling chanting, “Boboresh! Boboresh!” Cut him! Cut him! I wondered if Baba’s voice was one of them. Music blasted. The smell of steamed mantu and fried pakora drifted from rooftops and open doors.
But all I heard - all I willed myself to hear - was the thudding of blood in my head. All I saw was the blue kite. All I smelled was victory.

from The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (2003). Very Highly Recommended.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Amuse Bouche



The staff lunch is a daily ritual that serves as a tasting forum and often draws guests who just happen to show up around twelve thirty. “We see these heads in the window,” says Beckey, “which is terrific, because Russell is incapable of cooking for less than twelve.” 

Clearly a man of large appetites and enthusiasms, he can take no credit for his towering height, but his Falstaffian girth is presumably his own accomplishment. He is also widely reputed to have both an excellent palate and an extraordinary memory for older vintages.

from The Juice, Vinous Veritas, by Jay McInerney (2012). Highly Recommended.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Seasalt’s Good Start in Cobh


Seasalt’s Good Start in Cobh
Tart with two salads

If a good start is half the battle, then Cobh’s new café Seasalt is already winning. Jacqui O’Dea’s Casement Square daytime restaurant (9.00 to 5.00) has hit the ground running. And you’d better get a move on too as they are popular and busy. We were there on a bitterly cold and showery midweek day and it was packed at lunchtime, with some potential customers turned away.

So what’s it all about? It’s about good fresh food, sourced locally and cooked well by the Ballymaloe trained chef Jacqui. Amazingly, for the first time ever, a Cobh chef is offering the smoked salmon of Frank Hederman even though he is just out the road and has been supplying some of the world’s best outlets for 38 years! You may have the salmon in the morning and at midday, as Seasalt offer tempting Brunch and Lunch menus.
Hederman

And while Seasalt have lots of salads and veg on the menus, they have the Full Irish too, well at least the Rosscarbery Irish: two sausages, rashers, black pudding, sautéed spuds, roast tomato, two organic fried eggs and sourdough toast! Impressive.

And Frank Hederman’s salmon features on their Eggs Royale with two poached organic eggs and Hollandaise sauce on toasted Pana sourdough.
Window view

Having just escaped a heavy shower, we settled in for lunch and thought we’d warm up with their Mushroom Soup. It came in a colourful pot but I didn’t bother with a photo as the soup was so dark, not at all photogenic! But don’t judge a book by its cover! This was a splendid thick soup, a power-packed shot across the bows of the cold weather and probably the very best mushroom soup that we’ve ever tasted.

Orange Polenta
The menu changes weekly here, partly so regulars won’t get bored! I had been looking at the Cork Reuben as my main course. This consists of McCarthy’s Pastrami, house sauerkraut, pickles, with Edam cheese on Pana sourdough. 

In the end though I picked the Hederman Smoked Salmon that came with a salad, plus a helping of apple and fennel, all on a base of their own very tasty brown bread. Very happy with that, the crunch of the bread, the apple and the smoothness and precision of the smoked fish, just perfect.

CL meanwhile was enjoying her Tart of the Day with two salads, a puff pastry base loaded with roasted vegetables (aubergine and courgette) and much the same salads that I had. Another good mix of textures and flavours, not to mention the attractive colours. These were both specials. Aside from the Pastrami, they also had Croque Madame, a Cauliflower Dahl, and a Macroom Halloumi Salad to choose from.

Would we have dessert? Hummed and hawed a bit but once we took a closer look at the counter, all resistance faded. And, along with a couple of cups of the Badger and Dodo coffee, we enjoyed an Orange and Polenta Cake and also a Lemon Slice. 

The sun has been shining while we ate and for a few minutes after we left. But soon we had to pick up “speed” as another shower coming from the city threatened. Just made it back to the Five Foot Walk car park.

17 Casement Square
Cobh.
Call: 086 085 1650

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Taste of the Week. Cohiba “Atmosphere” Cuban Coffee


Taste of the Week
Cohiba “Atmosphere” Cuban Coffee

I keep an eye on the offerings at Dublin’s FIXX coffee and glad that I do when I can get my hands on a coffee as good as this Cohiba “Atmosphere”.

The beans are sourced from The Isabelica Plantation of Gran Piedra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (one of only two coffee plantations in the world to receive this accolade).

At over 1,000 meters above sea level and surrounded by hardwood trees, the coffee plants develop under the shade of the leafy trees. A natural refuge for rare birds making the almost inaccessible region into a Biosphere Reserve. The exceptional conditions found in this small area ensure that we are getting something very rare with these bird-friendly gourmet coffees.


This is a superb coffee, intense rather than strong, excellent body with the hint of cocoa undertones. A knockout premium coffee, something of a fist in a velvet glove. It is 100% Arabica and is expensive but quite a treat.

Fixx 
Unit 9, Naas Road Business Park, Muirfield Drive, Naas Road , Dublin, D12 X3H7