Sunday, July 29, 2007




ECO in Douglas is one of Cork’s busiest restaurants and you have to book well in advance. Every bit of space is used here and the reception area is minuscule and not overly-inviting.

I had booked a Saturday night meal a few days earlier and was lucky to get a table for two, more or less isolated in a corner. Could have been unlucky as some tables for two leave barely enough room to squeeze in. We could have had one of those and ended up next to one noticeably sloppy adult diner who believed in overloading her spoon and or fork and then picking up the spillages off her chest. Distracting to say the least, disgusting to say the worst.

That aside, the meal went well. Warned in advance that portions are large, I skipped the starter and picked Sole al Forno as my main course. It consisted of Paupiettes of Sole with a prawn filling and a white wine sauce, served with vegetables (very nicely done and presented) and your choice of potato (eg wedges, fries or boiled).

The three parcels were delivered to the tables straight from the oven on a very hot pan. The potatoes and veg came in side dishes. Even though the chef had been a bit heavy with the cream in the sauce, this main course was excellent, very enjoyable.

Eco, better known in Cork as Eco’s, had a wine of the month promotion going and I picked a Rolling Chardonnay (Australia). It was one of the better of that variety from Oz and superb accompaniment for the sole. Cost was €19.95, quite a bit dearer than the house wine at four euro cheaper.

Finished off with a Pineapple and summer berry dessert. The pineapple rings (two) were topped with ice-cream. The hard “core” of the fruit had not been removed and that made it harder to cut it down to bite size pieces but, that little difficulty aside, it was a fitting finale to the visit to Douglas.

Indeed, the menu in ECO is so large and so varied that further visits are on the cards. By the way, this one, including the wine, cost just under €66.00 for two of us.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Celebrating with a group? Where to go?

Got a celebration coming up? An anniversary, a birthday, a modest Lotto win? Where do you take forty or fifty people in Cork? Here are three suggestions.

Curran’s in Adelaide Street is one. I was there late last year for a 60th with about 30 people. We were accommodated in an upstairs area, which we had to ourselves. You can have a set menu (with a certain amount of choice) or you can go a la carte. The service and the food are excellent and the restaurant also has a good choice of wine and beer (some of which is on draught).

Most recently I was in the extremely comfortable and spacious Kingsley Hotel on the Carrigrohane Road. The celebration here was in the Arc suite. The bar is just outside the room but there is ample table service for drinks. This was a full three-course meal, plus tea or coffee and it was a great night. The only disappointment was that the rack of lamb was mostly underdone and had a high amount of fat.

The barbecue at the Silversprings Hotel is also worth considering. They have a grass area with garden furniture, overlooked by a patio, all backed up by a spacious room indoors. Just as well the room was available on our visit: the weather broke at just the wrong time and we all had to move in for the food.

It was typical barbecue fare: chops, kebabs, hot dogs and salads. It was top class and, with the very reasonable €15.00 a head tariff, very good value indeed. There was no bar in the room but the main bar is very close and they will carry your drinks to your table.

Morans have re-furbished this hotel in recent years but I remember working with PJ Hegarty Ltd in the foundations in 1962 . I had special permission from the ITGWU (thanks to Gerry Cronin in Connolly Hall on the Lower Glanmire Road) and was paid four shillings and ten pence an hour, two pence more than the general worker. I operated a steel-bending machine and helped the steel fixers. This as regarded as semi-skilled work and that was why I got the extra few pence. It was good money for a teenager on his summer holidays.

Friday, July 27, 2007


Billy's Booze Bananas

Just in case, the shy sun comes out and temperatures rise, here is a smashing way to finish off a barbecue.

On a holiday in the Dordogne some years back, I stocked up with as much of the local produce, especially booze, as I could squeeze into the car.

On unpacking, I found a litre of Sarlat Noix, one of the many nut liquors from the area. Never quite knew what to do with it until, my creative juices fueled by barbecue beer, I got an inspiration as a few bananas blackened on the barby flames.

When the bananas were ready, they were peeled and laid on icecream. Then a tablespoon or two [maybe three] of the liquor were added. The delicious dessert was quickly dispatched - it must eaten quickly - and it became a back-garden favourite.

The Sarlat Noix eventually ran out but red rum is a more than handsome replacement.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


No. You won't be ripped off in Switzerland!


Gambienis in Carey's Lane is one of my favourite Cork restaurants. The others are Curran’s, Amicus and La Boqueria.

Just back from a Continental holiday, I visited Carey's Lane recently and, aside from the desserts, myself and the Advisor weren't disappointed.

We both know and enjoy the Rustica starter and we weren't let down on this occasion. It is described as: Warmed Mixed Roasted Vegetables & Mozzarella Cheese On Ciabata Bread Topped With Chilli Pesto Dressing. The main ingredients are usually the same but the others can vary a bit. Still, it is always a very good starter.

Gamienis do some excellent chicken dishes and I had Pollo Alla Romano: grilled breast of chicken topped with red onion, roasted peppers, mushrooms in tomato & red wine sauce. The Advisor had Barbecued Chicken with tomato, onion mushroom and chili. Both were excellent.

We could have done without the deserts but, able to resist anything except temptation, we dug in. Portions were generous and sweet but they were heavy going and not worth the money. That revolving cabinet could do with a re-shuffle!

Wine was a Pinot Grigio delle Venzie, Vaja. The blurb read: A very pleasant, characteristic bouquet. Soft and dry, relatively full-flavoured with a clean, fresh finish.

It was bought specifically to compare with a Pinot Grigio from a neighbouring Northern Italian district (Trentino) that we bought a week earlier in Connobio on Lago Maggiore. Have to say that the one bought in Italy (it cost €9.80 in a wine shop in the town) was much better.

Of course that bottle in Italy was consumed on a balcony overlooking a sunny Lake Lugano and that may have given it an extra edge. After all, the only view from Gambienis was a windy and cold Carey's Lane.

We didn't bother with the coffee and the whole meal in Carey's Lane came to over €82.00. How does that compare with the holiday prices? Much higher, of course, than the likes of Portugal but how does it compare with Switzerland, which would be regarded as one of the best off countries on the continent. The prices there though are surprisingly good.

By way of a guideline, take the meal we had on the main street in the very busy resort of Interlaken. A six course meal, along with a bottle of mineral water and a 50cl bottle of local wine came to €60.00 euro for the two.

The only complaint one could have had in Switzerland was the fact that they just don't supply tap water to the table. Since coming back, I have been given the following tip: if you ask for 'hahnenwasser' you will get tap water, though some restaurants can be more obliging than others.

For more Swiss prices see

Monday, July 23, 2007

Gourmet Sausages

I want my sausages!!!


The English Market is the bees’ knees!

No doubt about it, boy.

Gave it a little test recently. How about this for a meal? All from the pride of Cork.

This is just a meal suggestion - so don't expect a detailed list of instructions. I am assuming that all you langers out there know the basics. If, for example, you don't know how to do mash potato, then you'll have to look up D Allen or D Smith or some other Diva de Cuisine or ask the ma.

For starters, call to the Pig's Back and get yourself some country pate & French bread; all you need to add is some salad and relish, maybe some red currants from the garden.

Ingredients for the main course are gourmet sausages from O’Flynn’s {try Pork & Herb or Lamb & Rosemary} plus spinach from the organic stall. Just add your mash potato.

Finish off with a couple of tartlets from Heaven's Cakes. The lemon is highly recommended from this end.

Those O’Flynn’s sausages are great value as you get six for a fiver! Two Cajun were left over. Kept them in the freezer for a few days. Then they were hauled out, cooked and made two moderately spicy but very tasty hot dogs! Doubtcha boy!