Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009



"It is not uncommon for a bottle of Lafite ’96 to fetch a couple of thousand dollars more at auction in China that it would in Europe. Many (?) Chinese enjoy the showmanship of presenting important guests with this kind of celebrity wine, and my favourite aspect of it all is that many prefer to take it with a splash of coke.” From Around the World in 80 Trades by Conor Woodman.

“Wang Long’s mother works in a foreigners’ hotel..... She told me that foreigners are really wasteful. They throw away the tea bags after just one cup. And the tea isn’t good enough for them – they have to add milk before they can drink it.”
 From Beijing Coma by Ma Jian.

"Gregory the Great always used to recommend making the sign of the cross over a lettuce in case you swallowed a demon that happened to be perched on it leaves.”
From The Holy Mountain by William Dalrymple.

“Ham and Eggs: A day’s work for a chicken. A lifetime commitment for a pig.”
From Ronnie Moore’s 2009 Calendar.

In Michael Eaude’s Catalonia he refers to a mediaeval recipe for Roast Cat which involved roasting the animal in oil, garlic and herbs. The brains, by the way, were removed before cooking.

In the 1840s, a Florida physician named John Gorrie, trying to cool the rooms where patients were suffering from yellow fever, figured out how to make ice using mechanical refrigeration, paving the way for household refrigerators that appeared in American homes en masse in the 1920s and 1930s
Read more:,8599,1862562,00.html#ixzz0YKancgNq

 “......a woman held up a duck whose throat she had cut and stroked her gently while a little girl held up a cup to catch the blood for making gravy. The duck seemed very contented and, when they put her down, she waddled twice and found that she was dead. We ate her later, stuffed and roasted.”
Hemingway, describing a visit to Miro’s summer home near Barcelona.



Many of you will be familiar with Gubbeen cheese products. But how about the sausages from their smokehouse?
Bought a couple of packs from their stall in the Mahon Point Farmer’s Market today and tried out the ones with Sun Dried Tomato, Basil and Garlic. Absolutely lovely. Great texture, great flavour, all preceded by a lovely smell while cooking.
Looking forward to the second pack - tomorrow!

Mahon Point Farmers Market in Cork

Been a regular visitor to the Mahon Point Farmers Market but it continues to surprise. It was very frosty today, the start of a 3 day market stint up to Christmas Eve.
Some of the Thursday regulars were missing. Ballycotton Fish were there with some fine fresh fish. Moved on then to the nearby cheese stall and settled on the cheddar by Hegarty’s of Whitechurch. Picked up some gorgeous smoked sausages from Gubbeen Smokehouse and some chilli products (in jelly form) from Rebel Chilli before finishing with some inviting veg from the Burns Farm stall.

Despite the fact that a few of the regulars were missing, there was much more to see and buy here. The people serving at the various stalls are invariably in good form and helpful. For a full listing of stalls and products and updates go to

Check out my review of Mahon Point Farmer's Market - I am cork - on Qype

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bubble Brothers in Cork


Pleasantly surprised when picking up an order this week from Bubble Brothers store in Centre Park Road as the budget reduction of 60 cent per bottle had been applied. Sixty cent may not seem that great but when it is applied to a couple of cases, it can make quite a difference. Well done to Bubble and indeed to the other wine sellers who have rapidly applied the tax cut. I also noticed it in my pint at the Cotton Ball (did you see their Christmas lights?) last night.
Bubble Brothers, as you may know, have quite a selection at Centre Park Road. They have a lot less room at the English Market but they make the best of it. I suppose the rule would be: the Market for a bottle or two, Centre Park Road (easy parking) for a case or two. In any event, the same high standards of service and courtesy apply.
I’m looking forward to the Xanadu Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon, one of the cases I picked up this week. Came across it at the Good Wine Show and thought it was a winner.

Check out my review of Bubble Brothers - I am cork - on Qype


BEST OF 2009

A personal list from restaurants visited this year. Sorry I couldn't get to all. Maybe it's just as well - I'd be fat or broke, maybe both


Les Gourmandises

Fenns Quay


The Continental

The Woodside


Market Lane

Rising Tide



Fishy Fishy


Kudos (in the Clarion)


French Onion soup, with Gruyere and croutons (Market Lane)


Tomato Broth, served with a Gin Cream (Woodside).

Tomato and brie pot (Fenns Quay)


Duck in Plum Sauce (Continental)

Ham Hock (Les Gourmandises)


Bread and butter pudding with whisky soaked raisins (Fleva Kilkenny)

Fresh fruit trifle, layered in a glass cup (Fishy Fishy)


A: That Brittany Ferries would open a land version (in Ringaksiddy or thereabouts) of Le Flora, the restaurant on board their Cork-Roscof ferry Pont Aven.

B: That Le Cottage and La Foret be beamed across from the north banks of the Gironde estuary to the North Bank of the Lee (preferably above flood levels!).

C: Fishy Fishy to open to city.

Ying's Palace in Cork

Made an overdue visit to Ying’s Palace Chinese Restaurant last night and found it even better value than previously and that without any drop at all in quality.
I usually go for one of the set meals. They have one at less than 16 euro and three between twenty and twenty three euro.
We (these set meals are for two minimum) started with the prawn crackers and then had the soup, followed by shredded duck with little pancakes, salad and sauce. Main course consisted of two sizzling dishes: beef on one, king prawns on the other, both gorgeous.
With these menus, you get a free glass of wine each and house wines start at €4.90 a glass. Coffee was included in the price and they also surprised us with some beautifully cut fresh fruit as a dessert (not on the menu). And another surprise on the way out when we presented with a Chinese calendar on a scroll.
Nice restaurant and nice people. The takeaway does very well indeed but is a shame that more don't take advantage of this excellent restaurant where the prices are very reasonable indeed.

Check out my review of Ying's Palace - I am cork - on Qype

Friday, December 18, 2009

Costa Coffee in Killarney

Costa Coffee shops are springing up around Cork city but my first visit to one came in Killarney yesterday when we called to their place in the local Outlet Centre.
Comfortable seats, plus a recommendation from our local “guide” beckoned us in and I enjoyed my cup of Americano. Took a medium but it was actually quite large . It cost €2.90 and tasted very well indeed.
There is no table service here. You go to the counter and pick up your coffee and scone or whatever. If you’re not into coffee they serve a wide range of alternatives including hot chocolate, teas and infusions, iced coffees and frescato.

Check out my review of Costa Coffee - I am cork - on Qype

Julian Graves in Killarney

Julian Graves is one of the outlets operating in the Killarney Outlet centre. Quite a choice here of nuts, seeds, sweets, fruits and so on. “A bit of what you fancy” as they say themselves.
Quite a choice but are you really getting a discount here? Take their Liquorice All Sorts. Regular cost in the UK is £3.99 (£2.99 on the website). In Killarney it is €4.59. Yesterday, there was a 20 per cent discount which brought it down to €3.59.
Discount or not, I was tempted and bought a 750g bag.

Check out my review of Julian Graves - I am cork - on Qype

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Christmas Food - Where Our Christmas Dinner Comes FromIn a podcast, Regina Sexton, food and culinary historian from University College Cork and the author of A Little History of Irish Food, discusses the and then click on podcasts

Tipperary Mushrooms in Cork

Got some really large flat mushrooms at the Tipperary Mushrooms stall in Mahon Point recently. They have various dressings available. I got chorizo and mozzarella.
They make a decent starter but don't expect too much of the dressings. The cheese was a very very thin slice and the sausage bits were minute. Still the taste was there and they went down well.

Check out my review of Tipperary Mushrooms - I am cork - on Qype

Killumney Inn in Cork

About 30 of us descended on Mike Sheahan’s Killumney Inn last night for a works re-union. The efficient barman kept the drinks flowing and our host came up trumps with baskets of decent finger-food including some very nice chicken pieces which went down well with my stout.
The Killumney Inn, a long established bar and restaurant complex just off the main Cork-Macroom road (near EMC), is a popular venue and can be very busy for weekend lunches. Mr Sheahan, a hands on host, was in fine form. He sponsors the local soccer team, Killumney Utd, and reckons they could come up trumps this season.

Check out my review of Killumney Inn - I am cork - on Qype

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hedermans Smoked Fish in Cork

First came across Frank Hederman’s smoked fish when I bought some eel from his stall at the Farmers’ Market in Midleton a couple of years back.

They still do the Farmers’ Markets ay Cobh and Midleton and, in addition, can now be found in the English Market.
Called there today and bought some smoked mackerel, one dressed with a chilli flavour, the other with Piri Piri. Used them with beetroot in a starter. Lovely.

Check out my review of Hedermans Smoked Fish - I am cork - on Qype

The Good Food Shop in Cork

The Good Food Shop in the English Market has a huge stock but I was on the hunt for one of the first batches of Ummera Smoked Duck, recently trialled at various food events. Didn’t really expect it to be available as the producers hadn’t flagged its availability in the city on their site or on twitter.

But lo and behold. There were two little packages at €5.99 each. Grabbed them quickly. The helpful lady at the till had been previously mightily impressed by Ummera’s smoked chicken and salmon but was wondering about the duck. Assured her it was absolutely gorgeous and it is!

Check out my review of The Good Food Shop - I am cork - on Qype

The Chocolate Shop in Cork

The Chocolate Shop
You could miss the chocolate shop in the English Market but once you find it you will never miss it again.
It is a small packed treasure trove of all things chocolate, a must see destination for choc lovers.
Their own say: “Independent of any chocolate manufacturer or franchise, we are free to source the best quality artisan chocolate from the best chocolate manufacturers throughout the world.”
Picked up some truffles there today: Baileys and Amaretto, 60 cent a piece. Gorgeous. I loved both, but I have to say the Baileys was the favourite in this house.

Check out my review of The Chocolate Shop - I am cork - on Qype

Sheehan Butchers in Cork

Sheehan Butchers have made considerable improvements to their St Luke’s shop in recent years. With huge new cold counters installed, it is now big and bright and the friendly service is as good as ever.

You can get all your meat requirements here. The meats are sourced locally. It doesn’t stop at meat – it is also a very good stop for other related items, including things like marinated pork products, meat balls, chicken and beef on skewers and so on. They also sell potatoes and watch out for the excellent rashers (packed by Ballincollig Bacon Slicers).
Keep, an eye also for special promotions. On my very recent visit, they had 25 per cent off the price of everything. Great value.

Check out my review of Eugene Sheehan - I am cork - on Qype

Saturday, December 12, 2009

BEST OF 2009

A personal list from restaurants visited this year. Sorry I couldn't get to all. Maybe it's just as well - I'd be fat or broke, maybe both


Les Gourmandises

Fenns Quay


The Continental

The Woodside


Market Lane

Rising Tide



Fishy Fishy


Kudos (in the Clarion)


French Onion soup, with Gruyere and croutons (Market Lane)


Tomato Broth, served with a Gin Cream (Woodside).

Tomato and brie pot (Fenns Quay)


Duck in Plum Sauce (Continental)

Ham Hock (Les Gourmandises)


Bread and butter pudding with whisky soaked raisins (Fleva Kilkenny)

Fresh fruit trifle, layered in a glass cup (Fishy Fishy)


A: That Brittany Ferries would open a land version (in Ringaksiddy or thereabouts) of Le Flora, the restaurant on board their Cork-Roscof ferry Pont Aven.

B: That Le Cottage and La Foret be beamed across from the north banks of the Gironde estuary to the North Bank of the Lee (preferably above flood levels!).

C: Fishy Fishy to open to city.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Long Valley Bar in Cork

The Long Valley is a longish narrow pub with a shortish very narrow toilet (gents, haven’t seen the ladies loo!). They say they make the best sandwiches in the world but it was little too early for lunch when I called for a cup of coffee. Got it straight away from the friendly lady and it cost a saucy enough €2.30 considering that it was just an ordinary coffee and that , a few yards away, the Old Oak will give you an ordinary coffee and a scone for 2 euro.
Still there was nothing wrong with it and I enjoyed it as I have enjoyed a few pints there over the years, though this fairly basic establishment is not everyone's cup of tea. Especially those who like their comfort! But it is central.

Check out my review of Long Valley Bar - I am cork - on Qype

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Moran Silversprings Hotel in Cork

Silversprings Hotel is full of surprises. It is a fine hotel with all the usual facilities. Great place for large groups, such as dinner dances and weddings. I’ve enjoyed a few there. The restaurant is not bad either and they have an early bird (€19.95 for 2 courses) on at the moment.
My latest visit to the Eoin Daly managed venue came last night to take part in the Raising Cork Quiz, the hastily but so well organised quiz in aid of the local flood victims. TV and Radio personality George Hook put in a stamina sapping shift and still had enough steam left to snap the final tie with the wisdom and incisiveness of a Pattwell!
It was quite a success, prizes galore, and some €25,000 was raised on the night to be distributed by St Vincent de Paul. Take a bow – all two hundred tables – and especially organisers H&A Marketing who put the impressive show on the road in less than ten days.

Check out my review of Moran Silversprings Hotel - I am cork - on Qype

Monday, December 7, 2009

Gubbeen Cheese in Cork

Gubbeen farmhouse cheese is one of the best known in Ireland and marketed internationally by the small family company from West Cork. Picked some up recently at the Farmers Market in Mahon Point and it is really really good, up there with the best of them.
They also do a smoked version and, more recently, have produced other smoked items such as rashers, sausages and salami. Will be calling again!

Check out my review of Gubbeen Cheese - I am cork - on Qype - includes contact details and map

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Spread the word about about the Raising Cork quiz and help people affected by the recent floods -

Day: Monday 7th
Time: 7.00pm Registration ; 8.00pm start
Prizes: a shedload, including jersey and ball signed by Pele
Quizmaster: George Hook

Enter your team at above link.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Fenns Quay in Cork

Enjoyed an excellent “Early Dinner” at Fenns Quay Friday night. They live up to their “simple philosophy”: use only the best produce from the best local suppliers and treat it with care and attention to detail.
The attention starts the moment you walk in as the service is friendly, professional and discreet. The early dinner offer is a 3 course meal for €27.50.
Started with a tasty tomato and brie pot. Mains was venison in a terrific sauce with vegetables, almost like a stew, and we finished off with a melt in the mouth lemon pot with caramelised pears, accompanied by a blackberry sorbet.
Fenns Quay has a good wine list, quite a few by the glass, and we really enjoyed the Spanish Bodegas Castano Monastrell 2007. Aside from the Early Dinner menu, you can also go a la carte and both menus are supplemented by regular specials, all very tempting! For the season thats in it, there is also a Christmas menu.

Check out my review of No.5 Fenn's Quay - I am cork - on Qype

Friday, December 4, 2009

Riverview Cafe in Cork

Fitzgerald’s Park may be soggy and the Cork City Museum may be closed but the floods haven’t beaten the Riverview cafe and it is open for business.
Had a stroll though the park this morning and called in for coffee and a scone, cost €4.30. Not the cheapest. But service and quality was good in the uncrowded venue. It was getting busier as I left.

In busy times, you have the opportunity of ordering online ( or by phone.

Check out my review of Riverview Cafe - I am cork - on Qype  More pics from the park at


Today's Walk in the Park, latest pics at

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tesco Ireland in Mahon Point

Tesco at Mahon Point is one of the biggest supermarkets in the county. Aside from the clothing and electrical departments, the choice in food is staggering.
Take Balsamic Vinegar for instance; prices here ranged from one euro to close to twelve for aged varieties.
Range of wine too is impressive. Got a couple of bottles, including a Tarrango by Brown Brothers for old time’s sake. This unusual variety, which I first came across a few years ago when the brothers (sisters actually) came to town to show off their produce.
It is a red that may be chilled. Liked it then and no reason why I shouldn't like it now, especially that the price has been cut.

Check out my review of Tesco Ireland - I am cork - on Qype

O'Driscoll's Fresh Fish in Cork

The first thing that always strikes me in the Mahon Point farmer’s market, at least if I come to it via the shopping complex, is the queue at O’Driscoll’s Fresh Fish (who today had four on duty, two filleting like mad). The Schull based outfit seem to thrive while nearby Ballycotton Fish, offering the same fish at the same prices, seem to be much quieter. Location! Location!
They sell the fish by the bag, fiver for a bag of whiting, a fiver also for a big bag of hake or haddock. Looks good value but I’d prefer price per kilo written up. Got some hake and John Dory. Next time though, I’ll weigh up the queue, maybe head for the rivals. Time is precious.

Check out my review of O'Driscoll's Fresh Fish - I am cork - on Qype

Magpie Cottage Dairy in Cork

The Magpie Cottage Dairy runs a little goat’s cheese products stall at the Mahon Point Farmers Market each Thursday (10.00am to 3.00pm). Magpie has two main items, each in a jar. One is a herby cheese in balls in sunflower oil and the other is the cheese with the addition of sundried tomato. The jars are dated and the product will keep well, even after opening.
Having previously sampled the Tomato version, we picked the plainer jar this time and may well indeed follow the recipe we heard from the man in the stall: put some cheese into your chicken breast, wrap it up with Parma ham or similar and you’re on your way to a lovely dish.

Check out my review of Magpie Cottage Dairy - I am cork - on Qype

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Rising Tide in Cork

Had a ball at a birthday party in the harbourside Rising Tide at the weekend and all ten in the party agreed. Great staff, courtesy and good humour very evident; they even volunteered to take group photos, all very much appreciated.
Food wasn't half bad either. Decent selection of mains from about €15.00 to mid 20s. All excellent as were starters and desserts. House wines started from 20 euro and were fit for purpose.
Very enjoyable overall and would recommend the Glounthaune venue. Watch out for their Christmas parties at €40.00 – should be well worth it. Recent customer Lady Gaga enjoyed her visit here!

Check out my review of The Rising Tide - I am cork - on Qype

O'Connells Fish Stall in Cork

O’Connell’s Fish stall is by far the biggest of the (too few) fish outlets in Cork’s English Market, supplementing their extensive stock of fresh fish (usually brought up from Castletownbeare that morning) with quite a few fish products such as kippers and continental style fish soup.
Service is efficient and friendly and the staff are always ready for a bit of banter. Got some salmon and sea-bass there today from the well iced counter.
Fish is quite expensive in the market and I often wish for more competition.

Check out my review of O'Connells Fish Stall - I am cork - on Qype

Grand Parade Boardwalk in Cork

The newly completed Boardwalk at the South Mall end of the Grand Parade is not the biggest in the world but it has its uses.
If the day is fine, you can sit down and have a drink or snack, and enjoy the views. To the left you look down the south channel of the River Lee towards the Holy Trinity Church. In front, you may watch the world go by over the pedestrian bridge and to the right, you have a fine view of the South Gate Bridge with St Fin Barre's Cathedral looming over it.
The coffee dock is yet to open but that will add to the facility and enhance your break from work, shopping or sightseeing.

Check out my review of Grand Parade Boardwalk - I am cork - on Qype

The Barn in Cork

The Barn is one of the old reliables in Cork. I went there the other evening to try out their €25.00 early bird menu.
The Egg Mimosa (with garden salad and balsamic vinegar) looked the most exciting of the four starters (plus soup) available but I enjoyed my Salmon Fish Cake and the Classic Duck and Chicken Liver Pate also went down well.
The old reliables were wheeled out for the main course. You could choose from Pork Steak, Sirloin (3 euro extra), Salmon and Chicken, also a Beef Pie. They came as ordered. My steak was perfectly cooked and the Salmon with veg and a warm potato salad was “absolutely beautiful”. The Beef Pie was quite substantial.
Three desserts were served at the table – they don’t bring their famous trolley to the Early Birds! All three were fine. I really enjoyed my Mango Cheesecake, the Rich Chocolate Cake was seen off but perhaps the best of the three was the Pavlova (the real thing) with fresh fruit and Crème Anglaise.
There is a high standard of friendly service here and, with the restaurant less than quarter full (On a Thursday night), we were well catered for but in an unobtrusive way, with an adequate two queries during the meal (is everything okay?).
Wine prices have dropped to the Early Bird level and we enjoyed an easy drinking Shiraz from OZ (GB 56 2007) for €20.00. The spacious Barn is very comfortable – some find it a little old fashioned but it had many devotees. And the smokers among the regulars will be glad to see that a new “smoking room” is nearing completion.

Check out my review of The Barn - I am cork - on Qype

Cork's Christmas Market


Cork’s Grade Parade is the venue for the city’s Christmas market over the next three weekends.
It opened with a fanfare last Friday, coinciding with the switching on of the Christmas lights. The highlight here is a so called winter garden, designed by the well known wedding designer Franc who has transformed Bishops Lucey Park into something of a wonderland, open only between 5.00 and 8.00pm Fri-Sun.
The trees are lit up and here and there are groups of reindeers drawing sleighs of light, illuminated “gazebos” where young and old (there is mistletoe hanging there) can have photos taken; here too the kiddies can take a ride on a carnival roundabout and leave a letter for Santa.
The market “showcases the best of local food and crafts” – how Chinese made trinkets fall into the category is beyond me - in some fifty stalls stretching from the park to the river. So off you go. Maybe you’ll solve your present problems. At the very least, enjoy the music and the magic in the subdued lighting of the park. And mind that mistletoe! Mrs Santa could be waiting for you.

Check out my review of Cork's Christmas Market - I am cork - on Qype
See Mike Hannon's market video at:




Get the details at

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sallymills in Limerick

Called to one (at least one) of the food stalls at the Grand Parade Christmas Market, occupied by Sallymills, cake makers from Limerick.
Picked up a couple of their tartlets, one with berries, and another with apple. The standard is quite similar to Heaven’s Cakes. Cost 2 euro each and worth it.
They do artisan cakes, desserts, wedding cakes etc and also deliver.

Check out my review of Sallymills - I am cork - on Qype

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Ashburton Bar in Cork


Warm. Comfortable. Friendly. Cosy.
All words that could be applied to the Ashburton Bar last night.
There weren't that many in – it was bad night weather wise. A dozen or more were scattered around, some chatting, some reading the newspapers, others watching the TV, still discussing the Henri hand ball!

It is a different story when there is a Premier or Champions League game on the big screen. Then the “Ash” is full, with plenty of "slagging" going on between the various sets of fans.
But I enjoyed a chat and a couple of well served pints in the calmer atmosphere last evening.

Check out my review of Ashburton - I am cork - on Qype

Heineken Ireland in Cork


Enjoyed my recent visit to the Kiln, the hospitality “pub” of Heineken Ireland.
There are no public tours of this brewery and unlikely to be according to a spokesman who said the modern computer controlled processes, largely conducted out of sight, weren't conducive to a tour situation. ”Who wants to see a few people pressing buttons?”
So if you want to get to the Kiln you’ll have to rely on an invitation. I have been lucky enough to get a few over the years and things have changed there in the last 12 months.
Previously, you had a choice of Heineken products e.g. Murphy’s Stout plus Heineken and Amstel lagers. But since the Dutch giants took over the other brewery in the city, you may now sample Beamish Stout and Fosters Lager.
It is still a little strange to see the two rivals now advertised side by side on posters around the Kiln. But I took advantage of the occasion to enjoy a few pints of Beamish this time. Variety is the spice of life!

Check out my review of Heineken Ireland - I am cork - on Qype

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oriel House Hotel in Ballincollig, Cork

Enjoyed a re-union meal at this Ballincollig hotel last evening. There were about one hundred at the function, much more at a farmers’ meeting in the next function room, but the staff dealt comfortably and efficiently with the demand.
The food was excellent. There were three choices of starter and three of main course (beef, chicken, cod). The chef didn't take the easy way out. For instance, the fish came in an inviting herby crust. The vegetables – mange tout, green beans and carrots – were well cooked, not too hard, and not too soft. Dessert consisted of a “medley” of small portions. We had ten people at the table and all were very happy indeed.
Service couldn't be faulted and the banter with the staff was a part of a very enjoyable evening indeed.

Check out my review (and map) of Oriel House Hotel Leisure Club - I am cork - on Qype

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Old Oak in Cork

Made my way to the Vision Centre today to see the Tony O’Connell photos but the North Main Street venue is closed on Mondays.
On my way back through town, felt like a coffee. The Old Oak was close at hand so I called in. Don't be fooled by the short frontage on Oliver Plunkett Street – this is a substantial bar.
A friendly reception awaited me at the counter and the smiling assistant, all gloved up for hygiene, served me a decent cup of coffee plus a blue-berry muffin for just €2.00. Yes – two euro for the two. There are bargains to be had.
It was easy to find a seat in mid afternoon, though there was a good scattering of customers in. Had a quick look at the lunch menu and saw that again the prices were quite reasonable. Waved to the barperson on the way out and got another smile. Enjoyed the short break and I’ll call again.

Check out my review of The Old Oak - I am cork - on Qype

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Heavens Cakes in Cork


This five year old patisserie stall in the English Market is well named. Here you get the tastes of pastry paradise, made locally!
My latest purchase consisted of two French style tartlets: one a Berry and Almond mix, the other of Lemon Curd, €2.00 each. Both were delicious.
Service is always good and, while the wrapping may not be quite up to the French standard, it is not far off it and, in any case, is totally adequate.
Web is www. but it didn’t work last time I tried it.

Check out my review of Heavens Cakes - I am cork - on Qype

Arbutus Breads Ltd in Cork

The Arbutus Bread company is one of the best known in Cork and has quite a few outlets, including O’Keeffe’s at St Luke’s Cross. Had an opportunity yesterday to sample a couple of the products.

First up was the baguette with seeds in the crust. This was an excellent bread, enhanced by the addition of the seed.

My favourite of the two supplied was undoubtedly the Red Wine and Walnut. A very tasty creation indeed which looks like being another winner for this high class local company.

Check out my review of Arbutus Breads Ltd - I am cork - on Qype



Very enjoyable session at the Good Wine Show in the Clarion yesterday.

First up were the Curious Wines (Bandon) section where we got off to a lively start with a mouthful or two of Aureus Cremant de Loire. They had a terrific selection and definitely the best leaflet on display.

Then called to the Carrigaline based Karwig Wine stand where again we availed of excellent information delivered in a friendly manner. While they have wines from all over, their strongpoint is the quality and quantity of their German and Austrian wines and we particularly enjoyed our sample of the Wohlmuth Riesling.

Then it was on to Bubble Brothers, the city based merchant. Again, the staff were informative and friendly and we got a big welcome from the rep of the Australian Xanadu estate on the Margaret River, four hours out of Perth.

This estate was once owned by an Irish family (Lagan) but recently taken over by the Rathbones who have just relaunched the wines. And they are good and it was here, after talking a “consultation” break at the food tables (Irish and French cheeses from On the Pig’s Back, bread from Arbutus and smoked duck from Ummera), that we decided on their 2007 Next of Kin Cabernet as our Best in Show! The 2009 Next of Kin Sauvignon Blanc Semillon is not bad either!

Then, the day still young, we headed down to Kudos Restaurant with a 20% discount voucher from the show (which is on again this Saturday from 11.00 to 16.00).

Ummera Irish Smokehouse in Cork

Ummera is a small family company , in Timoleague (West Cork), that produces smoked products from pork, chicken, salmon, eel and now duck.
The duck is not yet listed on the product list as Ummera’s Anthony Cresswell told us at the tasting yesterday that is was on trial. But that trial period is likely to be short as it is a very tasty product indeed.
They have share of stockists around the country but the only Cork City centre outlet is the Organic Stall in the English market. For more info on stockists and products check out the website – you may also order online.

Check out my review of Ummera Irish Smokehouse - I am cork - on Qype

Friday, November 13, 2009

Kudos in Cork

Kudos is the quayside restaurant of the Clarion Hotel and well worth a visit.

Went there this evening after the Good Wine Show upstairs and, armed with a 20 per cent discount voucher from the show, took a table and thoroughly enjoyed the Asian inspired meal.

Started with a house platter: spring rolls, skewered prawns, salad, skewered chicken and so on plus two dips. Delicious. Followed that up with a smashing Beef Teriyaki (€14.00). Had tasted some good wines at the show but the Australian Four Sisters Shiraz (€6.75 a glass)in the bar was as good as any in the show.

I was served by a mixture of nationalities but all were friendly and efficient and indeed informative. Will call again

Check out my review of Kudos - I am cork - on Qype

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Boothouse Bar in Cork

The Boothouse is a thatched pub cum eatery in Upper Glanmire, adjacent to the church, a few miles from the north side of the city. It was recently voted the Newstalk FM Pub of the Year.

The food is largely traditional. Bacon and cabbage and farmyard chicken were on the menu today, a menu that hasn’t changed much over the past decade or so. Maybe the attitude is why fix what isn’t broken.

I went for the chicken, my favourite. Slightly drier than usual but still very tasty and I polished it off. Dessert was another favourite: creamed rice with jam. As usual, I came out a satisfied customer.

The menu is stuffed in small writing on a backboard but the place was warm and comfortable and the service was friendly and well up to standard.

It is a place I’d call more often – if the menu was altered from time to time, not necessarily dropping the favourites.

Check out my review of Boothouse Bar - I am cork - on Qype


Pandora Bell Ireland launches a

Luscious Range of Soft Honey Nougat

A dream come true for nougat lovers and gourmet foodies.. Limerick based boutique confectionery label Pandora Bell has launched four flavours of Honey Nougat, just in time for Christmas.

Honey Nougat with Orange and Almonds

Honey Nougat with Almonds and Pistachios

Coffee Nougat in with Hazelnuts in a Chocolate Coating

And Honey Nougat with Hazelnuts in a Chocolate Coating

While the taste is heavenly, the recipes are simple; honey, nuts, egg whites, sugar and cocoa butter conjure up a treat loved in Italy for centuries.
Cork stockists are O'Keeffe's (St Luke's Cross) and Blarney Woolen Mills.
For more info on this and other products (and stockists nationwide) checkout or call Nicole on 086 8241823

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

O'Keeffe's Groceries in Cork


O’Keeffe’s of St Luke’s are listed in the book as grocers but this is one of the best food shops around the city. It is a treasure trove.

While all the usual foods are there, the emphasis is on the artisan food makers. Here you will find delicious home cakes and tarts, the breads baked by the nearby Arbutus Company, the highly rated products of Cully and Sully, the rich chocolates by O’Connail and much much more.

Hot food is also available and there is an in-store bakery, producing a beautiful line of French style products, including a crispy flaky croissant, “as good as any in France” as one happy customer reported to me today.
Besides, there is an excellent wine selection.

And it is not just finished products. Looking for ingredients? Then this store is worth a visit. At the moment, they have a selection of milled flour that you won't find in the supermarkets.

Service is friendly and efficient and the only problem is parking. But the newly revamped St Luke’s area, with its trademark toll-hut back in place, is worth a visit and this shop is worth a short walk from wherever you do find a parking spot.

Check out my review of O'Keeffe's Groceries - I am cork - on Qype

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Woodside in Midleton

Cold wet and windy outside but there was a warm welcome inside from Brian, the host at the relatively new Woodside, a restaurant in Saleen, on the Midleton Whitegate road. Would it be worth the trip out of town on this miserable November evening? The answer? An emphatic yes.

Promising start with a little taster of one of their starters: Tomato Broth, served in a wee glass. As it turned out, I had ordered this Broth, served with a Gin Cream, and it came in a large glass cup with handle. Gorgeous also was the Potato and Leek soup. This soup is often quite bland but the Woodside’s version had bits of bacon through it, maybe even done in a bacon stock, and the verdict was that this the was best such soup we had ever had!
My main course was baked cod with a tomato sauce and on a bed of mashed potatoes with some haricot vert. It was a top class dish and so was the presentation which included a string of nicely cooked but intact small tomatoes still on the vine, still full of juice. The other main course was Duck Breast with Chinese cabbage, a substantial and very tasty dish indeed.
Portions are quite large so didn't take on the dessert offer. Finished with a massive cup of Americano for €2.50. House wines, by the way, start at a fiver a glass and there was a special on the night, a Rioja for €7.50 per glass.
It was a very enjoyable meal, well cooked, well presented and served with a smile and the occasional but unobtrusive query: Is everything alright? The answer all through and at the end was that emphatic yes!
It is a spacious comfortable venue, dominated by a huge almost Breughel like painting of a Nun’s Kitchen. Your host is also a whiskey nut and will put on a tasting on request. Find out more at

Check out my review of The Woodside - I am cork - on Qype

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Ballycotton Seafood in Cork

The English Market is long established and one of the highlights of a visit to Cork, everything available from exotic spices to tripe and drisheen.
Not too many fish stalls. My favourite is the relatively recently arrived Ballycotton Seafood, which took over from the Bandon Fish shop.

Called in there recently for some unsmoked haddock and got five large pieces for €14.00. Also had a good chat with the man behind the counter who wasn't at all happy with the prices that local restaurants are charging for fish. “You’d pay 26 euro for one piece of that on a meal out.” He has a point!

Check out my review of Ballycotton Seafood - I am cork - on Qype

Souths in Cork

Cork is one of ten must visit cities listed in the 2010 issue of Lonely Planet and they say the best place to visit in Cork is the Imperial Hotel. Souths is the bar, with its own entrance from South Mall, of this venerable hotel and I met some friends there last night.

Most were driving so coffee was the order of the night and the friendly barman joked that he had never sold so much of it. The place is comfortable – no big crowd there on a Tuesday night – and the service is good and friendly and I enjoyed my glasses of wine.

I’ll be calling again, maybe for lunch at the carvery. You can get a hot lunch here from €10.50 and that (unusually) includes complimentary tea or coffee.

Check out my review of Souths - I am cork - on Qype

Bewley’s coffee and tea expertise now on the web

New website includes Bewley’s first ever online store

Irish coffee and tea lovers in search of great taste will now be able to refresh their senses with a feast of new information, an online shop, expert advice and top coffee making tips available through a new website launched today by Bewley’s at is a new online resource for everything to do with coffee and tea from Ireland’s largest fresh coffee and tea company. It includes Bewley’s first ever online store, coffee equipment demonstration videos, interactive maps, a club for anybody interested in tea and coffee and a new booking facility for tables at Bewley’s Grafton Street Café. It will also offer information and training resources to Bewley’s trade customers all over Ireland.

The new website is a one-stop-shop for coffee and tea lovers and is packed full of inventive features, allowing Bewley’s to share its unrivalled knowledge and expertise with consumers. If you want to know the difference between Instant and Fresh Coffee, what’s the best coffee to make after dinner or just want to ask how to store your coffee at home, you’ll be able to tap into the knowledge of Ireland’s top coffee expert and Master Roaster Paul O’Toole on

With expert tasting notes now online, the site encourages consumers to experiment in the differing flavours and blends of coffee and tea. Bewley’s drink preparation guides and hot tips provide in-depth information on how to prepare a perfect cup and the site features a user friendly demonstration video on how to use a cafetiere. The site’s online coffee quiz provides a fun way to discover your perfect coffee. Enthusiasts can also sign up for an on-line club which will keep them updated on the world of tea and coffee. The site is also linked into Bewley’s facebook, twitter, flikr and youtube channels.

Bewley’s new online store will allow consumers to purchase Bewley’s award-winning range of coffees and teas directly on the web at great prices. Whether it’s Bewley’s extensive range of coffees, speciality teas or home coffee machines, everything will now be available to order online for rapid delivery at the click of a button. The site will also sell Bewley’s new coffee capsule machines directly to customers.

The new online club at will allow coffee and tea drinkers to access regular updates on the Bewley’s product range along with special offers, up to date advice and the latest news and developments from around the globe. The club will also include details of rare varieties of coffee which Bewley’s sources internationally and which will be made available in special lots online. Visitors to the site will also be able to view pictures taken by Master Roaster Paul O’Toole on his visits to coffee and tea producing regions all over the world.

Bringing Bewley’s famous Grafton Street Café online, the new site allows visitors to take a 360 degree virtual tour of the café, view menus, make online reservations for tables and to give their feedback and comments on the Café. It also includes information on the Café’s artworks including the world renowned Harry Clarke Stained Glass Windows as well as theatre listings and other events.

Commenting on the launch, Jim Corbett of Bewley’s said:

“It’s unlikely that Ernest Bewley ever envisaged a virtual Bewley’s but he did want to make his company and his Café as open and accessible to everyone as possible. Our new website continues that proud tradition where coffee and tea lovers in Ireland and abroad can enjoy even easier access to Bewley’s famous range of products and unrivalled expertise at”

“As Ireland’s coffee and tea experts, Bewley’s has built up an enormous wealth of knowledge over the past century and a half. We’ve included a number of features in our new site that allow us to share this heritage and expertise with coffee and tea drinkers, so that they can enjoy the best taste available. Consumers can have their questions on coffee and tea answered directly by our Master Roaster Paul O’Toole. They can also brush up on their knowledge of both coffee and tea through the online information and by using Bewley’s expert coffee and tea tasting notes.”

“In speaking to consumers it is clear that they want to move beyond instant coffee and experience the fantastic taste of fresh coffee at home. Our new website, for the first time, provides consumers with all the advice and assistance they need, in one place, to enjoy perfect fresh coffee at home.”

“To further assist consumers we’ve also introduced our new online store to allow consumers purchase any of Bewley’s award-winning teas or coffees, as well as cafetieres and other coffee making equipment, from the comfort of their own homes. Fans of Bewley’s much-loved Grafton Street Café, which attracts over 1 million customers every year, will now also be able to make a booking for the Café online, and those thinking of visiting for the first time will be able to take a virtual tour around Ireland’s most famous Café. We look forward to welcoming many thousands of visitors to in the years ahead.”

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Good Wine Show

The Good Wine Show 2009 (13-14 Nov at the Clarion Hotel)

Join us for a wonderful two day event featuring three of Cork's leading independent wine merchants, purveyors of fine food, and daily prize draws at this sample-and-buy event.

Over 100 international wines to taste and buyDelicious foods and gourmet treats on offerPrize draws for wine cases and food hampers

Show and ticket details at

Friday, November 13th, 2009

The Good Wine Show is open from 3 PM - 8 PM.

Wine Tastings: All day.

Food Purveyors: All day.

Prize Draw: 6 PM - Drawing for a "Best in Show" mixed case of 12 worldly, wonderful and very drinkable wines courtesy of all three wine merchants.

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

The Good Wine Show is open from 11 AM - 4 PM.

Wine Tastings: All day.

Food Purveyors: All day.

Prize Draw: 3 PM - Drawing for a Luxury Food and Drink hamper packed with posh nibbles, three bottles of wine and your very own set of wine accessories.

You can purchase tickets for one day or two online or at retail outlets across Cork.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Counihans Bar in Cork


Jazz and football overlapped at Counihan’s on Sunday afternoon. Dropped into the Pembroke Street bar to see the Mary Stokes Band but instead found myself watching the closing quarter of the Liverpool v Man U game on the big screen and not a seat to be had.

But soon the happy Liverpool bunch in front of us left and the six of us grabbed the table and chairs, right in front of the bandstand. Mary came on and passionately and energetically blasted out the hard blues for two hours or so giving ample time to the highly talented lead guitar player to show his talented hands do their hot stuff, so hot you looked for smoke! Great show and the sounds came out so well (by comparison with Ocean’s 6 who never quite got the technical bit right the previous day).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Scotts Bar Of Caroline St in Cork


They say the best time to test a pub is when it is under pressure. With the jazz weekend upping the numbers, Scott’s of Oliver Plunkett Street was packed this Saturday afternoon.

Food was flying downstairs while upstairs was packed for the jazz and the show by Ocean’s 6 in particular. The staff were busy but passed with flying collars. Service was top notch. No big delays at the counter while the tables were quickly cleared of plates and glasses.

One table did collapse but the staff were quickly on the job and minutes later there was no trace of the collapse.
Prices too seemed to be reasonable enough at this popular music venue and, by the way, the music was great as Ocean’s 6, who play swing, soul and rock and roll, put on a two hour plus show packed with energy and variety, They drew the audience in and we all left happy!

Check out my review of Scotts Bar Of Caroline St - I am cork - on Qype

Friday, October 23, 2009

Synergy Restaurant in Cork


Jazz was in the air this evening as the annual Cork Jazz Festival kicked off.
I spent a pleasant hour or more listening to Des Hopkins and his accomplished Dixieland band in the Kudo’s bar in the Clarion before heading into the Synergy, the hotel’s main restaurant.

By comparison with the evening before in Les Gourmandises, this was ordinary fare indeed but, at the same time, there was little wrong with it and it would stand comparison with many of the local restaurants. It just emphasised the point that LG is in a different class, perhaps a league of its own.

Starter in Synergy was a Chicken Salad. Good quality chicken pieces, well soaked in good quality olive oil, along with some leaves mainly bay spinach, made for a tasty starter.
Main course was Pork loin and apple, along with a cider sauce. Presentation was nothing to write home about, just a pork chop with an apple slice and then repeated. But the pork and the apple were of excellent quality and the sauce was a treat. The roast potato was only fair but the veg in the side dish, while routine, were up to standard. All in all, a tasty treat for €21.50.
Had started with a Siete Sauvignon Blanc, a pretty decent wine, in the bar and continued with another in Synergy; cost was €5.75 per glass. Not a bad meal at all but a long way short of the league that LG plays in. Service, both in the bar and Synergy, was excellent in the Clarion. And by the way, they were doing a roaring trade in food in the bar.

Check out my review of Synergy Restaurant - I am cork - on Qype

Les Gourmandises Restaurant in Cork

Different Class

Chocolate Brownie on a slate doesn’t promise much as a dessert but you should try it at Les Gourmandises Restaurant in 17 Cook Street. In fact, you should, I should, try everything at this different class establishment as there are pleasant ambushes in every course.
My starter last evening was mackerel on a red onion bed along with a goat’s cheese panacotta. The advisor had a tasting starter, samples of chicken liver parfait, prawns in filo and a cup of parsnip soup. Besides we both drew from the delicious fresh breads. A very promising opening.
Main course for me (like my starter) was the chef’s recommendation: ham hock moulded to a cylindrical shape, standing on a disc of smoked ham which in turn stood on a bed of Savoy Cabbage, the sauce being apple purée and sage. Well and originally presented and beautiful to eat.
The other main course was another brilliant dish: bream with aubergine purée and a cherry tomato and sage sauce. Gorgeous.
We each had the chef’s recommendation for dessert: a rice pudding, served with, on the side, caramelised banana and that smashing Chocolate Brownie! Just the thing to finish off a smashing meal and put you in the mood to call again.
There is decent selection of wines by glass, half bottle and full bottle. We compromised on the Puilly sur Loire, a crisp refreshing tingling Sauvignon Blanc with a mineral hint. Just the job!
By the way, quite a few of the meals are served on a slate which enables the chef to use his presentation artistry! And he does!
It doesn’t come cheap – three courses cost close to forty euro although there is a market menu for thirty euro.

Check out my review of Les Gourmandises Restaurant - I am cork - on Qype

Saturday, October 17, 2009


~Boyne Valley Honey Launches Book of Kells National Art Competition~

Tuesday 13th October: Miriam O’ Callaghan today officially launched Boyne Valley Honey’s National Art Competition, aimed at encouraging primary, secondary, third level students and adults alike to get creative!

Entrants are invited to submit a work of art on the subject of their choice, using either the Book of Kells itself, the monks who wrote and illustrated it or life in 9th century Ireland as inspiration.
Three Fine Art Facsimiles of The Book of Kells will be presented to the primary and secondary winning schools and to the individual from the third level and adult category, with runners up receiving cash prizes of €100, €250 and €500.
Miriam O’ Callaghan commented: “It’s a great initiative to start the new education year. The judges are looking for creativity, individuality and real pride in work. The Book of Kells is a national, visual treasure, so we expect exciting works of art to be created!”

Each month from October 2009 to February 2010, a finalist will be chosen from the various categories, with all finalists going head to head in the grand finale in March 2010.

The Boyne Valley Honey Company launched a similar competition in the 80s, Brand Manager Gillian Hennessy comments: “We decided to run this competition again with a noughties feel, so students can use newer techniques and tools that were not around 30 years ago, to showcase a modern feel. Given times of late, the general feeling is to get back to what’s important in life. We hope this initiative gives students the chance to reflect on our Nation’s heritage.”

Judges will include; Malachy McCloskey, founder and chairman of the Boyne Valley Honey Company; Des Egan, renowned poet; Robin Adams, College Librarian and Archivist, Trinity College; Edward McPartland, Fellow Emeritus, History of Art, Trinity College.

The culmination of the competition will be an exhibition of winning entries, with winners being presented their prizes by Miriam O’ Callaghan.

See  for further details / to enter.

* Painting in oils, watercolours, drawings, tapestries, screen printing, embroidery, photography etc. will all qualify. Each entry must be accompanied by three Book of Kells tokens from jars of Boyne Valley Honey.
Closing Date is Feb 28th 2010

Friday, October 2, 2009



The best main dish in Cork this year came my way at The Continental tonight.

The Maylor Street venue was more or less deserted – they do much better at lunchtime when the street is busy – but Agnes and her chef still came up trumps.

Started with complimentary breads (brown and white) served with dips of parsley pesto and beetroot relish. Butter was also on the plate but we went with the other two and found them very enjoyable indeed.

Then came that main course: duck breast with a plum sauce with chilli and ginger (less than €21.00). Absolutely gorgeous and you’d go a long way to find anything as good. Pity the Cork diners can't make their way down Maylor Street and catch up on the good things that this lovely restaurant serves up.

Finished off with an unusual dessert; a banana and brandy cake, served with ice cream. Very tasty but might have went down better had it been served with custard.

Didn't really go through the wine list, just had a glass of the house red (Cabernet Sauvignon) which came in at about a fiver or so.

Sunday, September 27, 2009



Do you want to dine in RTÉ's "The Restaurant"?
Are you a foodie who loves to eat out?
Do you know your chilli from your cayenne?
Then we want you!

We would like to invite any interested members of Irish food and wine blogs to apply to be a diner on our upcoming series.

The Restaurant is back for its seventh series on RTÉ One. In each
episode a 'celebrity' head chef will take on the culinary challenge to
produce a top class, three course meal with two value-for-money wines.
The celebrities who become chefs for a night will be people who have a
passion for food and dining. The programme will give the "chef" the
opportunity to "go pro" for one night and serve up a real restaurant
meal. The resident critics are Tom Doorley and Paolo Tullio, with one
other special guest critic each week.

The identity of the "mystery chef" will remain secret to all in "The Restaurant" until after the
meal. Before the chef leaves the kitchen the critics will decide whether the meal is worth a star rating of between one and five. When the celebrity chef's identity is revealed they sit down with critics
to find out how they fared.

Dining at 'The Restaurant' involves becoming a 'critic' for the
evening. We need YOU, as our diners, to get involved in the experience
and to voice your opinions on the food and wine being served to you.

Vision Independent Productions are looking for diners for the series
which will be filming on location in The Wineport Lodge in Athlone
on Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th October.
So if you think you're up to the challenge of
critiquing the menu the mystery "chef" whips up in the kitchen, we
want to hear from you.

For more information or to get involved please contact:
Telephone - 01 864 1444
Mobile - 085 77 080 52
Email -
Don't forget to include your contact details - Name, address, phone
number and tell us a little about yourself and your interest cooking
and dining.

September 27, 2009 1:10 AM
Lorna Hartnett
The Restaurant
+353 85 77 080 52
+353 1864 1444

Friday, September 25, 2009


Got US roots? This may be of interest   ....

We're working on a really cool project this weekend. A major cable network and Parade Magazine are shooting a PILOT episode searching to find a unique, home grown recipe that deserves the title "America's Best Recipe."

It's free to sign up and submit to the casting call, so feel free to forward on my message.


Justin Moodley

Wednesday, September 23, 2009



(The itinerant labourer)

An Spailpin Fanach is a traditional music venue in Cork City; not surprising then that some of its lunchtime food is traditional.

Tomorrow it will be bacon and cabbage in this city centre pub but today (Wed 23 Sep) Irish Stew was high on the lunch menu.

We had started with a smashing vegetable soup, tasty, straight from the pot and no extra salt added. Then came the stew, a plateful of smashing food. Loved it and finished it off before staying on the trad path with a well made apple tart. A cup of decent coffee rounded off an enjoyable hour or so.

Check out my review of An Spailpin Fanach - I am cork - on Qype

Saturday, September 19, 2009



I always found the Rochestown Park Hotel of a high standard when catering to large groups. I hadn’t been there for some time until recently for a club function where the attendance was around the 170 mark.

There has been a change of management at the venue but you need have no worries about its ability to cater to a large number (indeed, there were other large functions going on simultaneously in various parts of the building). Started with Vol au Vent and then soup. Each was of a good standard and neither had this salty taste that you often get in this type of situation.

The main course was beef or salmon. I had the beef. It was excellent as were the vegetables (broccoli, carrot, cauliflower – all cooked well, nether too hard nor too soft). Then we finished off with a medley of mini desserts and a grand cup of coffee.

Service was top class, helped along by the fact that they had an “overseer” on the floor, making sure that all the tables were well covered.

Check out my review of Rochestown Park Hotel - I am cork - on Qype

Friday, September 18, 2009


For more on Mayo trip see:

Ballina - Eating & Drinking - Pubs & Bars - Pubs


“Situated in the heart of Ballina this extensive pub is really warm, welcoming and cosy. Providing the very best in food and drink, their carvery lunches are superb. A haven for the tourist or the weary shopper the Broken Jug is also very popular with the younger age group. The friendly and efficient staff will make your visit here truly memorable.”

The opening paragraph comes courtesy of the Broken Jug itself, a pub cum eatery in the Co. Mayo town. It is warm and friendly but the bare timber furniture and backless seating is more for the “younger age group”!

The restaurant section is a shade more comfortable and the food is very good, the service friendly and efficient and the prices reasonable.

The other night, I started with a magnificent chowder, very very tasty (indeed one of the best I've come across) and not suffocated with cream as happened in a Cork venue recently.

Main course was a lasagne. It was almost top class, and would have been but for it being a little overdone in the heating which made some of the edges too hard. Overall though – the cheese and mincemeat were excellent – it was a fine dish, served with chips and an undressed well mixed salad.

Dessert, there were about five choices, was homemade apple tart with cream and, yes, the apple was real chunky stuff, just the way I like it.

I have given it four stars but three and half would be more like it - if you're over forty!

Check out my review of The Broken Jug - I am cork - on Qype
For more on Mayo trip see:



The Downhill House Hotel, on the Sligo Road, was our Ballina base for a recent trip to County Mayo.

The Hotel, in a wooded riverside location quite close to the town centre, is well up to its 3 star rating.

All the staff are friendly and efficient; the rooms and public areas are comfortable, the leisure centre is popular and the Hotel also boasts well kept gardens where you can sit and stroll.

We enjoyed an excellent evening meal there: braised shank of lamb with an exceptional red wine sauce. A bottle of red from one of the Bordeaux chateaux cost just €20.00.

Service here is also friendly though sometimes a bit over attentive – you don't need your glass of water topped up each time you take a sup!

The breakfast was also very good and the full Irish was perhaps the best that I’ve come across.

If dinner is not included in your package, the restaurant prices can be very stiff and this is where the bar comes to the rescue.

Prices are reasonable here and the chef’s special often includes two or three items from the restaurant menu. We had a mild chicken curry one evening and it was a superb example of the type.

Check out my review of Downhill House Hotel - I am cork - on Qype

For more on Mayo trip see:

Thursday, September 10, 2009



Quite a lot of hype recently about the Fishy Fishy Cafe in Kinsale. Believe it – no tall tales here.

A late burst of summer tempted me to the coastal town and quite a lot of tourists too. Got in early for lunch this Thursday, just ahead of a posse of international visitors.

Started with the local mussels, served with fresh basil and lemon butter. Well done, tasty and a promising start, as were the accompanying pieces of freshly baked breads.
Main course was Brill, one of the day’s specials, served with creamed cabbage and a mustard sauce along with some well dressed fresh leaves. Simple and simply beautiful. Just what I like – the Brill was the star and it wasn't overwhelmed by anything else on the plate. Perhaps it could have been a little less costly than the €23.90 tag.
Had myself a lovely glass of very dry Riesling (forget where it came from) for €5.90.
Didn't really associate dessert with a fish restaurant for some reason but had a look when the list was offered. Glad I did. Had a smashing fresh fruit trifle. It was beautifully presented and was melt in the mouth stuff.
Service was excellent, friendly, smiling and efficient.

Check out my review of Fishy Fishy - I am cork - on Qype

Thursday, September 3, 2009


At the Market Lane, I have been meaning to try the Jack McCarthy sausages with potato mash, gravy onions, steamed vegetables and Yorkshire pudding, for some time. Got my chance at lunch today and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have had some soggy sorry Yorkshire puddings over the years but this was superb and the entire dish came in under €13.00

A slice of quiche tart with a generous helping of potato salad and baby leaves was another of the main dishes at our table and that too got the thumbs up.

I had started with one of my favourites, the French Onion Soup with gruyere and croutons, and finished with a mini chocolate pot (€2.00) and coffee. Very enjoyable as was my companion’s Banoffi.

Enjoyable also was my excellent glass of wine, a Domaine de St Marthe Syrah 2004 (FR), and that came in about €6.50.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Cotton Ball in Cork

The Cotton Ball is one of the oldest in the city and one of the best. It is divided into Bar and Lounge. The latter was refurnished a few years now. It is much bigger than the bar but the big square box feeling is avoided as it has been divided up into a few smaller areas.

The Cotton is not really a sports bar but you can watch the games there and more and more are now doing that on the screens which were placed in most areas.

The venue, in the Lynch family for decades, was once famed as a music venue but those days are long gone. There are mixed feelings. Many people enjoy the music but other go out for the conversation and that can be drowned out if the music is loud.

But it gets on well without the music. There is a good staff there and service, of a wide variety of drinks (including wine at just €4.00 for a quarter bottle, is usually with a smile.

You can also pop in there for lunch these days. Nothing major on the menu but you can get soup and sandwiches and Panini’s and snacks of a similar nature.

This is a well run house with a good ambience. It is also a fairly comfortable meeting place where yourself and the ball and chain can find a corner but which can also accommodate a large group of friends and relations for a milestone birthday celebration.

Check out my review of The Cotton Ball - I am cork - on Qype