Monday, May 31, 2010


WEEK 3, DAY 16
Rainy Day Sarlat
J Grolier Foie Gras
24260 Le Bugue
05 53 07 22 64

If all the restaurants in the centre of Sarlat are serving up Foie Gras, then all the shops seem to be selling it. But are they? You need to read the labels carefully, otherwise you could well be presenting Aunt Mary with a Terrine du Canard.
We had an idea of what we wanted by the time we called to Groliere Foie Gras on rue de la Liberté and met a helpful person who had once visited Ballina and had happy memories of eating salmon there. She pointed us in the direction of a special offer that meant we left the store having bought three jars of the real thing for the price of two.

DAY 17

Auberge de Mirandole
7 rye des Consuls
24200 Sarlat
05 53 29 53 89

Moved up the menu rankings in Mirandole this evening when choosing to pick from the €18.00 euro set menu; essentially, you get an extra course, making it five in all.
Started off with a pan-fried Foie Gras de Canard, served with a peach sauce that instantly upped the menu price to €20.00. Quite nice but we both felt we’d choose the semi-cooked version in future.  Second course was the Escargots with a mushroom sauce for me and Marinated Salmon with a salad for her, both very satisfactory.
The main reason for going back to the Renaissance building was to have another go off the Coq au Vin. My wife knew it was a great dish while I wanted to see if it was better than that served in the Lys D'Or. The cock in the latter establishment (admittedly the house version) had been introduced to the wine sauce just before hitting the plate but it was a different story in Mirandole where he had been plainly swimming in the red wine for quite a while.  Thumbs up for Mirandole on this one.
Then came the usual cheese course, Rocamadour goats served with a salad whereas the one in Lys D’Or was served plain. Finished off with an apple slice, real apple in cold custard. Overall not bad at all for twenty euro.
Wine for the evening was a Chateau Belingard Bergerac rouge, costing €12.50 a bottle, quite a nice dry red. Service was as usual excellent and friendly, even though we had not met this particular waitress before.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

DAY 15

This morning’s early mission was to get some bread. No problem. Strolled down to the nearby butchers who have a Depot de Pain. Back in less than ten minutes with a baguette that cost 78 cents.
Later in the day, we returned here to get a “plat cuisine” for the evening and, from a fair choice of readymade meals, we turned down stuffed cabbage in favour of a carton of freshly prepared paella which contained enough for two and cost us €6.36.
Golden Beef, 10 Av. Aristide Briand, 24200 Sarlat
It took a long time to work our way through the huge market that takes over most of Sarlat’s streets on a Saturday morning. After the beef excesses of the previous night, we decided on some fish from our “regular” stall: Pavillion de la Marée. Selection didn’t include Julienne but we did buy some panga, despite the fact that neither of us knew what it was and not one of our books had a translation!
Pavillion de la Marée, Martine Fredieu, rue Henri Rebiere, ZI la Serve, 24110 St Astter
Picked up a few other bits and pieces and also ticked off another one of our wines with a 7 euro purchase of a 2002 Bandol rouge.
With the food safely in the gite, it was time to head out for the bastide town of Montpazier, another of France’s most beautiful villages. Sat down under the brollies in one of the square’s restaurants for a cup of coffee (€3.00 for double espresso). Back then to the gite for that paella and Bergerac Sec but first a bottle or two of Hoegaarden! (The bottles are small!).
see more at 

DAY 14

After an afternoon visit to La Roque St Christophe (model above), a sheer rock face, some five terraces high, which has been inhabited since prehistoric times, our evening visit was to a much more modern establishment, for dinner.
We had been recommended Le Bar Code, just outside Sarlat on the Josephine Baker Road. Newly opened on this site, it had brought with it, from its former Sarlat centre site, a reputation for Meat on the Rock, rather appropriate given the day that was in it.
At present, it opens for lunch every day but for dinner only on Fridays and Saturdays. Our first courses were Charcuterie (€6.00) for me and Salad with Gizzards (€4.00) for herself. Both were substantial and it took us a while to polish them off.
They were big but nothing prepared us for the size of the main course. Both of us had chosen Beef on the Rock. The hot rocks were served smoking, the beef sizzling, all accompanied by a salad and chips and a couple of dips. All you had to do then was “cook” the beef to your taste: rare, medium or well done!
The size of the piece of meat was astonishing. In each case it was at least three times the size of the normal fillet steak served in Cork! All for 15 euro.
A good while later, we were asked, with no real expectation of an affirmative answer, if we wanted dessert. We just said we'd stick with the wine and finish it off, a very enjoyable Bergerac rouge which cost us €10.00 for the bottle.
Full? You could say that. Tel: 05 53 28 56 14. C.C. Pre de Cordy (face au lycee) 24200 Sarlat.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Today made the trip down to the Cahors Vineyards. Started by visiting a couple of sleepy villages. In the bastide town of Montcabrier, pigeons cooed while children babbled contentedly in the school. More sounds of contentment in Duravel where the local café was doing quite a lunch-time trade.
Then onto the River Lot and the quayside of Puy-L’Eveque, once a river port. Fine views here of the river and the old town and vineyards in the near distance. Views kept getting better. High up in Belaye, we had stunning views of both the Lot and Cahors Valley.
And even that was outdone when we called to nearby Albas which overlooks the Lot frmm a cliff. A few kilometres outside the two we got a magnificent view as the river formed a huge shape in the valley below.
Then passed through the ancient Cathar fiefdom of Luzech and its imposing 12th century keep before getting down to business in the little village of Parnac. Here the Cave Cooperative du Vignoble de Cahors (you see Les Cotes d’Olt on the signs) have a massive cave with a fine shop.
After a few tastings we settled on a Château Les Bouysses 2002 (€7.40 a bottle) and a Cotes D’OIt Malbec 2005 (€4.00), some rewards for a hard slog in the car. As was an excellent dinner of Poulet Basque from the local traiteur, something of a welcome change from the local cuisine to which, let me hasten to add, we’ll return.


This is planned as an easy day: marche, pool, lunch at gite, visit wine merchants nearby, dinner at gite (barbecue), Champions League final.
The Saturday market in Sarlat is huge: food, crafts, clothes, footwear.... two streets and connecting lanes, plus a square, all  full of stalls and people. We meet some very nice people: a young man that helps us choose melons for today, tomorrow and Monday; another young man in a shop where we get “strings” for my glasses and quite a few others, including a lady in a Tabac who doesn’t charge for a box of matches (for the barbecue).
We did pick up a souvenir or two but it was mainly food: strawberries (from a choice of three varieties), a pain complet, melons, mussels, and a couple of gorgeous pastries. Also spotted a traiteur with potential and we’ll be calling there after the weekend.
Back to the gite then for a dip in the pool followed by a lunch of mussels (we bought too many of them) followed by some of that bread with a local cows cheese.
Valette Foie Gras, 16 avenue Aristide Briand, 24200 Sarlat, 05 53 30 25 63.
Early in the afternoon found some handy shops within a few hundred yards of the gite, including a Lidl where German Pilsner was on sale for less than €3.00 for six 50cl bottles. Next door was a butcher with a huge selection and also a variety of readymade meals.
The gem though was Valette Foie Gras which, in addition to a massive selection of Foie Gras and related products, including chutneys and Cassoulets, has quite a range of local wines. I took the opportunity to make some progress on my list:
Madiran Cuvee de L’Ange 2005 €5.75;
Saussignac Chateau Tourmentine 50cl €13.30;
Cahors St Didier Parnac Prestige 2006 €6.00;
Pecharmant Chateau Tiregand 2007 €9.90;
Montravel Blanc Sec 2007 €6.70;
And, for this evening’s barbie, a Bergerac Blanc Sec Chateau Theulet 2008, €5.30.
Got their brochure on the way out, studying it at present and we’ll be calling there again.

By the way, that Bergerac Blanc went very well with the barbie and later still the introduction of a previously purchased Jurancon (Moelleux) went down very well with the dessert. It is a lovely medium sweet wine from the Basque country, also recommended as an aperitif or with the local foie gras and certain cheeses. Certainly, worth a look.


DAY 12 Chateau Milandes
24250 Castelnaud-la-Chapelle
05 53 59 31 21
After a thunderstorm last night and the exertions of yesterday, a short trip was called for and, after lunch, we headed for Chateau des Milandes, the former residence of song and dance star Josephine Baker who died suddenly in 1975 during the run of a show celebrating her fifty years in show biz.
The American was a huge success sin Paris for much of the first half of the 20th century but never forgot her American roots and the discrimination against her fellow African Americans. She sacrificed contracts in the fight which saw her famously march in Washington in August 1963 with Dr Martin Luther King. Already she had made the Chateau a home for 10 boys and 2 girls of different nationalities.
The rooms in the Chateau, including her bedroom and bathroom, are among those on the tour and, in the Grand Salon, you see many of her famous costumes, also many photos and original drawings of her in the Folie Bergere.
A popular part of any visit to Milandes is the Birds of Prey Display under the charge of falconers Patrick and Steve. Birds put through their paces include a Kestrel Falcon, a Harris Hawk, a Barn Owl, an eagle owl, a falcons and an American fish eagle. Don’t miss the show, usually on twice in the afternoons, not always in the mornings.
No visit to France is complete without a call to Leclerc and no visit to a branch of that supermarket chain is complete without a call to the wine corner.  Further filled my shopping list by adding a Bergerac Moelluex, a few bottles of Buzet, some Fronsac, one Fronton (by error, maybe  a happy one) and finally a bottle of Banyul, the sweet fortified wine, like port, from the deep south.
The morning visit to the market, where purchases included a big lump of delicious Tomme de Perigord, a lovely cows cheese, ended with a call to a branch of the Valette chain where a purchase of Sarlanoix (liquor) ticked another box. Primary use is as an aperitif but we tend to use it with barbecued banana. Do your banana, quickly lay it on a layer of ice-cream and quickly add a tablespoon or two of Sarlanoix and then quickly eat it!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

DAY 11 Gouffre de Padirac, Rocamadour

DAY 11 Gouffre de Padirac, Rocamadour

Gouffre de Padirac is one of the most visited places in France and takes your breath away. Via stairs and lifts, you descend almost 1000 feet before being taken on a boat trip through the magnificent galleries of this chasm.
Here you see the “Great Pendant” a 60 metre stalactite. After the boat, a circular tour, that includes some 84 steps, takes you  into and around the “Great Dome Room”. This is 94 metres high and here you see gorgeous lakes and more odd shapes of nature, including groups of beautiful stalagmites.
The visit costs about €9.20 for an adult and takes about ninety minutes. There is plenty of car parking in the area and also a share of restaurants which seem a euro or two dearer than elsewhere, maybe dearer even than those on the outskirts of the attraction.
It was in the middle of lunch time when we emerged and we sat down at the close at hand Restaurant Les Visiteurs where we each enjoyed Moules Frites (€11.50) and a Breton cider (€3.20). A thunderclap went off in the distance but the sun stayed shining in the area.
And it was still shining as we reached L’Hospitalet, the hamlet from which there is a great view, many say the best, of the medieval town, on three levels, of Rocamadour. The Chateau is on top, then the religious area and at the bottom, the housing of the workers, nowadays used as souvenir shops and artists’ workshops.
The Bunch of chapels that make up the middle area is quite impressive. Among others, we visited Chapelle Notre-Dame where, on the altar, sits the statue of the miraculous Black Virgin and Child.
It is tough on the legs around here but you may get refreshments along the way and some restaurants and bars have terraces overlooking the valley. Life is also made easier by the lifts that link the middle area with the bottom (€3.00 return) and with the Chateau.
Quite a tiring day! Now to hit Sarlat and see what the restaurants are serving. Most in the medieval centre are serving traditional fare – for the sake of variety we’ll have to get out of town one of these nights. In the end, settle for the Auberge Lys Or in place Andre Malruax (06 87 30 37 07).

From the 14 euro menu, we start with two salads, one a Maigret de Canard, and the other smoked salmon with a lemon sauce. Both okay, nothing special. Main course were Coq au Vin (house style) and Bavette de Boeuf with shallots. Again, each was fine without being outstanding (after all, this is the 14 euro menu).
Dessert was probably the best we’ve come across in this category menu. It was a lovely fresh fruit salad, mainly exotic fruits. A pichet (50cl) of Bordeaux rouge and an Espresso bought the total bill to €38.50.


DAY 10
Chateau de Monbazillac
24240 Monbazillac
05 53 61 52 52 and 05 53 63 65 00
An afternoon visit to the Chateau de Monbazillac was the highlight today.
But first, some housework: rubbish to be taken to the communal collection point a few yards up the road and then all the empty bottles to be deposited in the “banks” at the nearby Casino Supermarket.
Today being a bank holiday, not on the usual calendars, many places were closed but Casino was opened and I took the opportunity to add to our collection by purchasing a Chateau Larroque Bordeaux Sec 2009, a Chateau Peyrettaille Pecharmant 2007 and also a Chateau Menate Sauternes 2005.
From one sweet wine to another as we arrived at the Chateau de Monbazillac after a 70 km trip. Built around 1550, the chateau stands today almost exactly as when built by the AYDIE family more than four centuries ago. This was a very interesting visit indeed, highlights including the Grand Salon, the Mouney-Sully Hall, the Grand Staircase and the Hall of Bottles.
The world renowned vineyard was first cultivated in the 11th century and is famous for using “the noble rot” method to make its sweet wines which draw thousands of visitors every year. We availed of the tasting service, naturally, and purchased some of the golden nectar along with some Bergerac Rouge and Bergerac Sec.
“In entering this place, you are entering a part of the History of France”. So says one of the chateau’s leaflets. Today, the Wine Cooperative of Monbazillac owns the chateau and makes every effort to look after the monument and open it as much as possible to visitors. For €6.40, we thought it was very good value indeed.


Walked in to the centre of Sarlat around noon today. They were getting ready for the start of La Ringueta, Fete des Jeux Traditionnels: all kinds of games, climbing greasy poles, a type of table football played with wooden “hitters” and a round piece of timber as the ball, spinning tops and many more.

Pigs were roasting on the huge barbecues, to become part of a 13 euro meal. But we didn’t wait, headed for L’Orangerie in the shade of hits huge “awning” to take their 14 euro four course menu. With duck confit for the main course, we had an enjoyable meal and headed back to the fun and games which were starting officially at two o’clock.
The crowds were now well up, all fed, and the fun had started. We enjoyed walking around and looking at all the pre-computer activities and we especially enjoyed the lively efforts of a noisy band that didn’t confine themselves to the one spot but moved through the length of the fete.
Later, in the afternoon we headed back to the gite to take a break and cool down in the pool. Later, we enjoyed a pork chop barbecue

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Restaurant Cote Jardin
Sarl Des Charmes, 24590 Eyrignac
05 53 30 22 56
If you are in the Eyrignac area, perhaps having just visited the gardens, and are looking for lunch then the Cote Jardin is just at hand.
We stopped there today and ordered a Salade Paysanne (€9.00) each, also a Stella Artois and a bottle Breton cider (€2.50 each for 25 cls). The Salad was a mountain! Loads of lettuce, lardons, crutons, walnuts, hard-boiled egg, tomatoes and tasty melon. The crutons weren’t great but overall it was a fine feed with good service despite a big crowd being in.
Eglise Sainte Martin (Soulliac)
In the ancient church of Sainte Martin in Souillac we visited an art exhibition. Just as well the 11th/12th century church was “desaffectee en 1829" as some of the art was rather racy. It was a mixture of photography, painting and sculpture. Pieces were reasonably priced but I didn’t see anything that I liked enough to purchase. Exhibitions continue throughout the summer here and the tourist office for this small and pleasant town is also located here.
Musee De L’automate
Europe’s largest “automata” exhibition is in the abbey of Souillac. It has some 300 pieces, mostly from the 19th and 20th century. Admission is six euro and is worth a visit particularly if you have kids in tow.
Our favourite was Charlie Chaplin, hanging onto a lamppost and cheekily trying to kick his way out of his glass cabinet. A jazz band in action and a man with an uncontrollable laugh also brought enjoyment.

Restaurant Auberge De Mirandol ....
Strolled up through Sarlat looking at the menus this evening and again concluded that Auberge de Mirandol was the place for us. All the others offer the standard local fare, foie gras and confit. Mirandol does as well but there are more choices on its set menus and we like the place and the people serving there.
We get a table on the margin of indoors and out and settle for the €13.50 menu. Started with Jambon de Pays with Salad, a tasty chew, perhaps a bit too chewy for some.
I enjoyed my main course of beautifully done Duck Breast with tasty local potatoes and green beans. The beans and potatoes also accompanied the other main dish, a terrific Coq au Vin (and yes there was loads of red wine in the sauce!).
Then followed the usual goats cheese course, Rocamadour with salad. Dessert was a modest lemon tart (slice) with cold custard and a crème brulee.
Water is usually from the tap and free in French restaurants though you may of course buy bottled water. Our wine was Mirandol’s Wine of the Month:  Chateau Le Coustarelle, La Cassot, Cahors 2005, a terrific red for €14.00 per bottle.
For things to see and do in the Dordogne see
Photos: Massive salad and, top, Sarlat in evening

Friday, May 21, 2010


Sarl Des Charmes, 24590 Eyricnac
05 53 30 22 56
If you are in the Eyricnac area, perhaps having just visited the gardens, and are looking for lunch then the Cote Jardin is just at hand.
We stopped there today and ordered a Salade Paysanne (€9.00) each, also a Stella Artois and a Breton cider (€2.50 each for 25 cls). The Salad was a mountain! Loads of lettuce, lardons, crutons, walnuts, hard-boiled egg, tomatoes and tasty melon. The crutons weren’t great but overall it was a fine feed with good service despite a big crowd being in.

Picture: Salad & Cider

Check out my review of RESTAURANT COTE JARDIN - I am cork - on Qype

A L'Ancre de Salut in Limeuil


Overlooking the picturesque junction where the rivers Dordogne and Vezere meet and at the bottom of the lovely village of Limeuil, there is a bar brasserie called A L’Ancre de Salut (05 53 63 39 29). It has an upper terrace alongside the building itself and a lower one across the road, right on the river bank. Both are nice, each with a shaded portion.
We had a Salade de Pay (€9.00) and a beer each. The well made salad, don’t think I’ve ever had a poor one in France, was quite filling and the whole lot was just what the doctor ordered. Excellent place and very friendly staff indeed. Parking for the town is very close to the restaurant.

Check out my review of A L'Ancre de Salut - I am cork - on Qype

Vin Pays de Perigord in Limeuil


On then to the Vitrolle, site of the vineyard of Vin de Pays de Perigord near Limeuil. Unfortunately, it won’t be open ‘til the afternoon. Fortunately, our host at the gite has already introduced us to this red wine made from a blend of several grapes, as is usual here, including merlot. Our host, by the way, has strong opinions on wine labelling and is not at all impressed with those who buy by the grape variety alone.
“Some wines here are made with up to nine grapes. How are you going to get all those onto the label? If you are to put anything like that on the label then it should be the maker as he has the most influence.”

Check out my review of Vin Pays de Perigord - I am cork - on Qype

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Got our first taste of the twice weekly Sarlat Market this morning. It was busy, tourists mixing with the locals in the medieval quarter.
We enjoyed our own tour, buying some fish (Julienne) and also a Salmon Pizza from the same stall. Also bought some vegetables and fruit and sampled a few bits and pieces before walking over to the “main” street to call to a mini-market where we got some olive oil for cooking. Of course, we couldn’t resist passing a patisserie where we helped ourselves to a couple of strawberry tartlets.
Lunch at the Gite consisted mainly of cheese and beautiful tomatoes before we made the short trip to the “hanging Gardens of Marqueyssac” overlooking the Dordogne and La Roque Gageac.
Info: Jardins de Marqueyssac, 24220 Vezac. Tel: 05 53 31 36 36;
After extensive restoration work, Marqueyssac was opened to the public in 1997 and is now the most visited garden in Perigord. A “folly of clipped boxwoods” is the main feature of the place along with excellent views over the Dordogne. There is an easy (high heels and buggies) and a more difficult path around the “overhanging gardens”.
The main viewing point is the Belvedere, some 800 metres from the chateau. It affords an exceptional panoramic view of the river and surroundings.  The amazing topiary, along with the stunning views, which include nearby castles, make it well worth the €7.30 entrance fee. The visit will take you about ninety minutes, maybe more if you want to linger for a snack and a visit the shop.
Stayed in for dinner this evening. Starter: Melon. Main Course: Julienne (a white fish like hake) served with a salad. Dessert: Strawberry tartlets with fresh strawberries. Wine: Gaillac, from some of the oldest vineyards (quite close to Sarlat) in France. Our dry white, ideal for fish, is made from unusual grapes:  Mauzac and Loin de l’Oeil and has 11.5 per cent alcohol. The region also produces reds, roses and sparkling whites. We were very happy indeed with our white.

For things to see and do in the Dordogne see

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

L'Orangerie in Sarlat la Canéda

Sarlat la Caneda

Restaurant L’Orangerie
3 rue Alberic Cahuet
24200 Sarlat
05 53 31 88 03

After the previous evening’s stuffing at Mirandol, we didn’t want Foie Gras again. But both it and confit de canard are hard to avoid in this town. L’Orangerie promised something of a change so we took a table in the open air.
Starters were six Escargots (with garlic) pour moi and Chicken Gizzards and Liver with a salad for the Advisor. Both of us were very pleased as this €14.00 four course menu kicked off.
Both of us choose the Breast of Duck with Sarlat potatoes and small herbie mash and with a honey and orange sauce. Really classy meal served in the open air of this medieval quarter.
The cheese was once again the Rocamadour goats cheese and a little green salad with some little pieces of walnuts. Quite enjoyable but this too seems to pop up on all the menus. Desserts were a lemon tart for herself and walnut tart for me with custard. Both were quiet enjoyable.
They had a decent wine list and we picked a 50 cl carafe f local Bergerac rouge which cost €8.50. Total bill therefore came to €36.50!

Check out my review of L'Orangerie - I am cork - on Qype

Marche Eglise Sainte Marie in Sarlat la Canéda

Started with a walk down town to the historic heart of Sarlat. Checked out the many restaurants on our way before stopping at the market in the Church of Sainte Marie, mainly artisan stuff. Helped ourselves to a chunk of white cow’s milk cheese and a punnet of strawberries which went a long way towards lunch at the gite. The high building of the old church is certainly the most unusual site fro a market that I’ve come across though I know they use an old church as a restaurant in Skibbereen.

Check out my review of Marche Eglise Sainte Marie - I am cork - on Qype


Started with a walk down town to the historic heart of Sarlat. Checked out the many restaurants on our way before stopping at the market in the Church of Sainte Marie, mainly artisan stuff. Helped ourselves to a chunk of white cow’s milk cheese and a punnet of strawberries which went a long way towards lunch at the gite.
In the afternoon, we visited the famous Lascaux 11 cave, a replica of much of Lascaux 1, which has long been closed to the public. The facsimile reproduces most of the pre-historic art which was made some 70000 years ago. The visit is most impressive, leaves you speechless. You could also be lost for words if you arrive at the site, expecting to buy entrance tickets. For some reason, these (€8.80 each) are on sale in the nearby town of Montignac.
After a glass or two with our friendly hosts, we headed into the centre of Sarlat for dinner. Thanks to a recommendation from Milos we made for the Auberge de Mirandol. The recent €25.00 four course offer in Cork was quite a success but we got four courses (not including tea/coffee) for €13.50. Incredible value and, afterwards, we got to visit the restaurant’s own natural cave at the back of the premises, which itself is a historic monument.
Starter – there was a choice of two – was Foie Gras demi-cuit with three different sweet spoonfuls including Monbazillac marmalade. Milos had recommended this and also the main course: a cassoulet with confit de canard. Both courses were excellent.
Then came the cheese course, the local Rocamadour goats cheese accompanied by a nice salad. Very tasty indeed and we finished off with dessert, one a slice of tarte au citron, the other a slice of apple tart, both gorgeous.
Wine was also from the locality, a Percharmant by Chateau de Tiregand Comtesse de St Expury 2007. We got a 50cl carafe and it cost us €15.00.Tiergard is one of the top producers of this “subtle and supple” wine made from Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Medium to full bodied, Robert Joseph rates it “an ideal accompaniment to the traditional Perigord cuisine” and we agree!
Picture shows Sarlat late evening


Le Flora: 

Le Flora is the restaurant on board the Brittany Ferries ship Pont Aven. It is an excellent restaurant as we found out on the trip from Cork to Roscoff last (Saturday) night.
The top meal was a £28.50 four course offer, too tempting to turn down. Started with a shredded crab on bed of avocado with a green salad that included mange tout and broad beans. Slightly spicy and thoroughly deliciousness. On of the best starters so far this year.
My main course was something different though not quite in the same class as the starter. The Bouillabaisse, Brittany Ferries style, wasn’t at all bad, mixing red and white fish with fennel seeds ad some warm potato in the fish soup. The Advisor’s chicken supreme with squid and artichoke was different and quite delicious.
My cheese plate, deliciously baked Rocamadour served with Spanish lettuce hearts, was melt in the mouth delicious while the general cheese plate, which included favourites such as Livarot and Camembert, was also excellent.
Desserts were substantial and sweet, as promised. One was called a Vacherin Contemporain, basically three different types of ice-cream and loads of exotic fruits while the other was called a seasonal Coupe Fruit. Both went down well.
They have an excellent wine list on board, more or less offering everything that they offer in the on-board shop. They had a few special offers on and we went for the lovely dry Chateau Magneau Cuve Julien Graves 2008 at a cost of €24.90 euro (generally, and annoyingly, the prices are in sterling). It just grew on you.
The sterling pricing, by the way, led to an error. The first we know of it was when we were leaving our cabin in the morning and found note pinned to our door asking us to call to the restaurant. We did just that to find that while we had been charged the correct figures, we had been charged in sterling instead of euro. In fairness to the staff, they sorted it out there and then. We probably wouldn’t have had realised it until the bill came from the credit card company at the end of the month. So well done to Brittany Ferries on that one!

Friday, May 14, 2010


For the next few weeks, the food and eating out reviews will be coming from France, from the Dordogne area. Things to see and do will be covered at Corkman on Tour

Gubbeen Farmhouse Products in Schull

Most of you will be familiar with the Gubbeen cheeses but their reputation for producing tempting products from the smokehouse is growing rapidly.

Just last week, at the Midleton Farmers Market, I bought a piece of their lightly smoked Chorizo. This product has really brightened up a Spanish Rice with Chorizo and Sage recipe we’ve been using for years, courtesy of the Reader’s Digest 30 Minute Cookbook.

We had been using the normal chorizo sausage and sometimes locally produced spicy sausages. But this Gubbeen product is the bees knees and enhances this hearty richly flavoured Spanish-style dish where all the ingredients (red onion, garlic, red pepper, long-grain rice, turmeric, canned tomatoes, chorizo, sage and frozen peas) are all cooked in the one pan.

The Gubbeen chorizo re-vitalised this one for us and sent it up the ranks of our favourites.

Check out my review of Gubbeen Farmhouse Products - I am cork - on Qype



Nearly got put off pork for good a few years back during an otherwise excellent coach tour of Austria. Many of the hotels in the early part of the tour insisted on serving it, mostly in very unattractive ways, and quite a few of the passengers were fed up and hungry at the same time!

Fortunately, we Irish know Pork need not be that way at all. Like other food bloggers, I this week received a pork pack from Bord Bia. With holidays imminent, time was short so we roasted the top quality piece in more or less the traditional manner, though with rosemary and garlic. It was served with roast vegetables, mainly parsnip. The cooking juices, thickened, were used to make up the sauce. A gorgeous meal indeed.

And now we are looking forward to trying out all of the mouth-watering recipes that Bord Bia put in the accompanying leaflet and indeed checking out the many recipes on their  site. Pork, which is widely available, need never be dull again.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Off to the Dordogne at the weekend and got in a little wine practice last evening with a bottle of Chateau Belingard’s silver medal Bergerac rouge. According to the  the producer, this wine, “known for its Cabernet Sauvignon nose, can happily accompany most dishes”. “It is ideal with all types of meat..or with fish or cheese.”

Tested it with a Spaghetti Bolognaise and later with the Europa League final! It was served ambient, as suggested, and very enjoyable: fresh, blackberry, medium bodied. Must admit, I didn’t get too much of the “cabernet sauvignon nose” but otherwise, it was all there.

The hilly clay/chalky vineyard is in the county of Bosredon in the south of the Dordogne and the grapes used are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet France and Malbec. The vineyard, which also produces an excellent Monbazillac is open to the public and isn’t a million kilometres from my base at Sarlat. Indeed, there is a 90 minute tasting session scheduled for Saturday June 5th for a tenner and I may well call over.

But you don't have to go to France to get your hands on the Belingard wines as Karwig Wines have a selection and the rouge costs €11.15. Met Maurice there this week and he gave me some great tips for the Dordogne area, not to mention a loan of a very informative book on French wine.

Current shopping list:
Cotes de Bergerac, Moelleux, Saussignac
Monbazillac AOC – one of the great vin liquoreux
Pecharmant AOC – finest red of Perigord
Cotes de Marmandais VDQS – little known but good value
Cahor AOC – classic, inexpensive
Cotes de Buzet AOC – excellent, well regarded,
Vin de Pays de Agenaix – substantial red.
Fronsac 2005
St Croix du Mont (sweet)
Banyul (fortified)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Liberty Grill, in a bid to make sure all its regulars get a taste of the Dine-in-Cork action, have extended the €25.00 offer until the end of the current month.
I took my chance last evening and wasn't disappointed. Started off with the Spicy Crab Toast: Atlantic crab on spicy sourdough toast and we also enjoyed the Marinated Yellow Fin Tuna – Louisiana Style: Rare tuna served with slow roasted tomatoes and bbq sauce. Very enjoyable, though I think the Tuna would get the nod the next time.
No disagreement on the main course: Cork reared Spring lamb – noisette of lamb from O’Mahony’s in the English Market with flageolet bean cassoulet with a tomato and bean chutney. Didn't look all that attractive but was a terrific combination.
Think I won the battle of desserts with my Panna Cotta with berries and shortbread soldiers. Our other dessert, there were loads of choices,  was a Sorbet (Lemon, Blackcurrant and Mango).
Wine: CyT Sauvignon Blanc, medium body, light and fruity, a bargain at €17.25. As usual, the service was friendly and efficient. Coffee was included in the 25 euro and, as we sipped, we reflected on a very enjoyable meal indeed.
If you do get a chance to call in before the end of May, this is my tip for a fine meal: Tuna, Lamb and Panna Cotta. But try it out for yourself!

Idaho Cafe in Cork

Called to the Idaho Cafe in Maylor Street mid-morning for a coffee and scone (€4.60). The smallish cafe is well known: it does breakfast and lunches and has a string of Bridgestone awards to its credit.
Studied the menus while drinking the coffee and must say they look promising. Looked up to see the proprietor, Richard, going around topping up the coffee and mine was not neglected. Nice touch and one that could be copied, with profit, by restaurants in the evening.
021 4276376, 19 Caroline Street (City Centre); Check out my review of Idaho Cafe - I am cork - on Qype

It turned out to be nice day all round, even the sun shone down. Started with my French teacher Cristelle bringing forward the class breaking-up ”fete” to suit me as I was leaving a week early to go to France. Enjoyed the organic orange juice and croissants.
That was before the Idaho. Afterwards, I took the bus home and was struck by the courtesy and helpfulness of the driver towards mothers with buggies and especially by the help he gave to a wheelchair bound person.
The good mood factor continued in the afternoon in Carrigaline when I called to Karwig Wines. Proprietors Joe and Betty were in fine fettle and Marketing Manager Maurice O’Mahony was most helpful in providing me with a bunch of tips, even a loan of one of his wine-books, for my trip to the Dordogne.
Small touches here and there help us on our way. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Brew Cafe in Cork


The Brew Cafe Sandwich Bar is at the western end of Paul Street and is open all day. Go in for a cup of coffee like I did and you can study the breakfast and lunch menus and they also do take-out.

It was mid afternoon when I called and the lady was tidying up after the lunch. I enjoyed my cup of coffee (and wrapped biscuit) for €2.25. Actually quite a few people enjoy their visits here and their good food and service sees them take a slot in the current Bridgestone Good Food Guide.

Check out my review of Brew Cafe - I am cork - on Qype

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Midleton Farmers Market


Enjoyed my walk around the Midleton Farmers Market this Saturday morning. It was perhaps the market that led to many others being set up and is certainly one of the best, quality at every turn.

Bought some Chorizo and Hegarty’s Mature Cheddar from the stall run by the busy Fiona Burke (who does three markets a week). Then on to the Ballymaloe Cookery School stall where the Lemon cakes caught the eye and a few were added to the bag.

Passed Frank Hederman’s smoked fish stall – we had enjoyed some of his smoked mackerel pate in Fenn’s Quay the previous evening – to buy a piece of chicken brandy pate from Barry Tyner’s stand-in (Barry had gone off on a deserved holiday).

Then we spotted the star of the morning, a big Neapolitan Mastiff. Everyone just stopped as he strolled along but his sad story was told on a placard on his back: he had been rescued. At least, the story has a happy ending but we were all reminded that these rescue homes need a bit of our help.

O’Driscoll’s Fish from Schull have a stand here as well and, as in the other locations, it was busy. Bought some fresh looking hake and cod. Bread was next on the agenda and we headed for the Arbutus stall where we were offered two types of rye, one a sourdough, the other with caraway seeds. Took the first and headed for home.

Check out my review of Midleton Farmers Market - I am cork - on Qype

Friday, May 7, 2010


Fenn's Quay, for quite a while now, have been offering early birds and supper menus. What could they offer now for Dine-in-Cork Week? Got the superb answer last evening, supplied in some style by Head Chef Kate Lawlor and her crew who gave classy value for each of our twenty five hundred cents.
Six starters plus two specials posed the first choice. Had a warm chicken salad with crispy potato skins and a sweet chilli dressing. A day previously I had enjoyed a warm chicken salad at an out of town venue and it was fine. But this was a whole class ahead. Superb also was our other starter, a Smoked Mackerel (by Frank Hederman) Pate, with toasted breads and pickled vegetables.
The advisor ordered the grilled plaice with colcannon, butternut squash and celeriac  and it was another winner. I too hit the jackpot with my Escalope of Marinated Irish Chicken breast with herbed basmati rice, shredded vegetables and a cool raita dipping sauce, an international combination that felt just right in this old corner of Cork.
Kate’s cousin Kevin Crowley had been tweeting all and sundry all week that their Rhubarb and mascarpone tart with a chocolate biscuit base was a winner. We are using our own rhubarb at the moment. But we trusted him, we still do. It was absolutely superb, beautifully cooked and well presented.
Enjoyed the meal and the coffee that followed. Oh, by the way, Kevin is the wine expert of the trio that run Fenn’s Quay, cousin Kate and partner Pennapa are the other two, and we wanted sometime tangly and tingly and so choose the Cantosan Verjedo 2008 from Spain. Blurb says “delicious fresh flavours of zingy pineapples with touch of peach.” I got the latter while Kevin himself said pineapples. As I say, he is the expert. In any case, it was tangly and tingly.
So no argument there and no argument whatsoever that this was delightful meal, one of the best we’ve had during a busy Dine-in-Cork Week. It was very busy on this Friday at Fenn’s Quay but there was no sign of stress at all as the crew, including our smiling April, kept the show going with their usual efficiency and friendliness, not to mention the classy food.
No wonder Fenn’s Quay will be well up on our list when the Dine-in-Cork experience is repeated in the autumn.


My tea drinking experience has been more or less confined to the traditional way, always with milk.
Threw off the old habit when two samples of Barry’s new products, Pu-erh and Rooibos, arrived. Enjoyed them both, without the milk.
Started with the Rooibos from South Africa. Naturally rich in antioxidants, caffeine free and low in tannin, said the blurb. This can be drunk with or without milk. I tried it without and thought I mightn’t like it after the first mouthful but I persevered and was glad I did. Really liked it and also like the fact that “antioxidant rich foods contribute to general health and well-being.”
The well-being theme continued to the Pu-erh tea from China, Not quite a sharp a taste as the Rooibos, more rounded and, for me, easier to drink from the first mouthful, without the milk of course. This is also rich in anti-oxidants and is “reported to aid digestion and reduce blood cholesterol”.
Watch out for these, sample them if you can. I know all of us don't have the same tastes but I’ll certainly be included these on my tea lists from now on. 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Island Gate in Cork

In the Island Gate for a confirmation lunch today. Been quite a while since I’ve been here, much longer since I first saw the place, then owned by Mr Harris and known as the Dew Drop In, on whose apron the Little Island and Caherlag Coursing Club used to gather before a hunt in the then sparsely populated Little Island across the road.

Got off to a good start today with a basket of freshly baked brown bread and, despite the few confirmation parties, the meal itself was well up to scratch.

Started with a Warm Chicken Salad: chicken marinated in soya and crispy bacon, sautéed & tossed on a bed of leaves. Starters were generally large.

Unusually, I went for the Beef Curry as the main course. It was a well made bowlful, a generous portion. Indeed, all the main courses near me, including sirloin steak and the roast chicken and ham, were large.

Four desserts on the list and I thoroughly enjoyed my Warm Apple and Cinnamon Pie, a well made piece with real chunky apple. A few nearby went for the Baileys Cheesecake and all were pleased with it.

Occasions such as these can sometimes prove too much for restaurants but the Island Gate had no problem in catering for it: the food was quite good and so too was the friendly service.

Check out my review of Island Gate - I am cork - on Qype

Pandora Bell in Limerick

Irresistible. Walked into Nash 19 last Tuesday morning and didn't get past the very first display in the shop: a stand of tempting colourful lollipops from Pandora Bell. Grabbed a bunch and went to work on the tasting.
I’m a big kid now but these lollipops – or suchettes as the French suckinctly call them – are big enough. You get quite a few licks for your €2.50. They come in various flavours: strawberry, lemon, orange and mint and all colours and flavours are natural. Beautiful.
But then I expected nothing less from the Limerick confectioner Nicole Dunphy. Already she had tempted us with her honey nougats and salted caramels not to mention her Easter special: gorgeous real shell chocolate eggs. Keep up the sweet work, Nicole.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Cornstore Wine Bar and Grill in Cork


Walked into the Cornstore last evening for another €25.00 Dine-in-Cork meal and was surprised to see the Cornmarket Street venue two thirds full at 6.45pm. Surprising because it was in the middle of a recession, early in the week, early in the evening, and also considering that the famous old street is under re-construction at present and you have to find your way through the various safety barriers.

One of the staff said the Dine in Cork Week was proving successful but there must be more than that to it. We had passed another participating restaurant and it looked close to empty. The Cornstore has been gradually making its reputation and has come up regularly on the grapevine in recent times. In addition, it has won a couple of regional awards and is going for national honours in the current Restaurant Association of Ireland contest.

We were about to find out what the fuss was all about. We got a warm welcome and were soon seated. My Gravlax starter (home cured organic Donegal salmon with capers and a red onion salad) was excellent. The Duck Liver Pate (with an apple and grape chutney and toasted sourdough bread) was of a high standard.
For the mains, I chose the Pork belly (with creamy mash, roast root vegetables with an apple purée and cider jus) and this was another five star plateful. There was a change to one or two items on the menu, including the cod. This was now served in a white bean (with tasty bacon bits and spring onion) cassoulet, quite a creamy one. Not quite on the same standard as the Pork belly but good nonetheless.

Sticky Toffee pudding wasn't on the advertised menu but it was one of the best I’ve come across and the other dessert, much lighter, was a delightful lemon posset with a rhubarb compote, served in its own hinged jar. Nice touch, nice dessert.

Two happy customers finished off with the coffee and a little bar of Milka chocolate, adding the Cornstore to an ever expanding list of quality Cork restaurants. No shortage of staff and the service was excellent all through and we had a laugh or two with our friendly waitress.

The Cornstore probably has the longest list of wine available by the glass in Cork. I counted eleven in the red section. Tasted a few. The house white was the Chilean Los Tilos Sauvignon Blanc (€4.95). The first citrusy mouthful really got your attention: sharp tangy and dry. The house red was Los Tilos Cabernet Sauvignon, a lively easy drinking wine also at €4.95.

If you are going to pay a bit more attention to the wine, maybe less to the conversation, then it would be worthwhile to pay a little extra. I enjoyed a glass of Spanish Bodega Muriel Tempranillo Rioja (€5.95) which was a better drink on all counts: deep red, fruity, great body and lingered well.

Check out my review of The Cornstore Wine Bar and Grill - I am cork - on Qype

Sunday, May 2, 2010

GREENE'S (by the waterfall)

What did we ever do before butternut squash?
That question was popped in Greene’s Restaurant (by the waterfall) last evening as Dine in Cork Week continued with yet another smashing meal for €25.00.
The butternut squash came in one of the starters where it was combined with Ardsallagh Goats Cheese in a Spring roll, quite a large one, served with mixed baby leaves and a beetroot dressing. We both enjoyed one.
Then on to the main courses. The West Cork confit of duck leg was on  parmesan mash, braised red cabbage and a rosemary jus. An excellent deep plateful though the strongish aroma of the Rosemary jus permeated everything.
We also had the 8 oz ribeye steak, with a brandy pepper sauce. It was cooked to perfection and the presentation was impressive as the dauphnoise potato stack had a neat layer of onion added before being crowned with a Portobello mushroom. Enjoyed that one!
I went for the Irish Liqueur Crème Caramel. It was a lovely dessert but I must say the Crème Brule across the table was really one of the best we’ve ever come across and to top it off it was served with a few delicious homemade shortbread biscuits and ice-cream, a real five star treat.
Very happy too with our bottle of the house red (c €23.00),  a Sicilian Ca'di Ponti Nero D'Avola 2008. It was a juicy, easy-drinking treat with “ripe black cherry and plum fruit” and a hint of spice. Coffee was also included in the price and needless to say we got a friendly welcome and excellent service. Highly recommended. Got out and try that Dine in Cork menu. Most restaurants, including Greene’s have four choices per course and you won't go wrong!
Tel +353 21 4552279

Saturday, May 1, 2010


I’m afraid our Barry’s Team quiz turned out to be something of a trick question which was not at all the intention. Many of your parents will have known and been familiar with the company’s shop in Princes Street and that figured in the vast majority of the answers. But the correct answer and you may see it on their website was Bridge Street.
The Bridge Street shop opened in 1901 and closed in the 1920s with the Prince’s Street shop opening in 1911. Despite the many “wrong” answers, there was a tie and the name drawn from the hat was: Derek Schaper.


Kicked off my Dine in Cork Week at Jacques last evening and thoroughly enjoyed my four course meal for €25.00. Great to see the local restaurants getting together on this one and giving the customer “a cut”. Eithne Barry though reminded me that Jacques have been doing this value menu for ages.
And it is good value, good food. Our starters were typical. One a tasty Chicken Satay (on a skewer) with couscous, the other organic green leaves with chorizo, warm potato and parmesan shavings in a spot-on warm salad.
The confit of Skeaghanore Duck was popular in the packed Phoenix Street room, packed at 7.00pm by the way, but we both went for the Fresh Hake with a Hollandaise sauce and sprouting broccoli. Served with some mashed potato, this was just delicious, a great balance of ingredients.
Just a general point on sauces. I would prefer to see the sauce served in its own container so that the customer can choose the exact amount he or she wants. By the way, the amount served at Jacques was well judged, unlike some establishments where your meat or fish can come “swimming” in the sauce.
There were a few changes from the advertised Dine in Cork Menu e.g. Hollandaise instead of Prawn Butter sauce. But, the kitchen in a busy place is a fluid situation and variations are to be expected here and in the market. One, though, wasn't. The menu on the night promised an Orange and Raspberry Roulade and, in its place, a Blackcurrant Roulade was served.
To tell the truth, it was gorgeous, but not everyone would like the tarty taste of the blackcurrant. The other dessert, an Apple and Olive Oil cake with a Maple icing, was much richer than expected and quite a treat.
We each had a glass (€6.50) of the house wine which was from the Languedoc, an excellent Moulin de Gassac Sauvignon. Finished with a decent cup of decent coffee to round off a fine meal. Service overall was excellent, friendly and quite efficient and the comfortable place was buzzing. Jacques has been a leading player on the local scene for decades and shows every signing of maintaining its high ranking.

Mary and Sheila Fresh Fish


Made a quick visit to the Ballincollig Farmer’s Market last Wednesday and met the fish selling ladies from West Cork, Mary and Sheila. I had forgotten I called them lively in an earlier post, maybe my spell checker changed it from lovely.

We had a chat about fish and how the fashions are changing. You hardly ever see whiting nowadays while the now popular monkfish were once thrown back overboard. Like me, they enjoy their meals out and we all agreed that Over the Moon in Skibbereen is top class and they also had a good word to say for Le Voyage at the Wine Vaults restaurant in the town. They were surprised that the gurnard dish, that we enjoyed recently at the Silk Purse, was so expensive (€23.15).

While we were chatting, they were filleting some fresh hake for me and the charge was a very reasonable €11.50 for five big fillets that were all thoroughly enjoyed at home that very evening.

The girls, by the way, do a lively (that word again) business in the Skibbereen Market very Saturday morning and that was where I first saw them in action. And Swanton Plants, where I bought some herbs on Wednesday in Ballincollig, are also regulars in the West Cork town.

On a previous visit to Ballincollig, I had a chat with Joy of Joy’s Jams saying I preferred marmalade with peel. She didn’t have any at the time but didn't she go away and make a batch for me and the minority that enjoy the peel. Thanks Joy, I’m enjoying that pot now!

Check out my review of Mary & Sheila Fresh Fish - I am cork - on Qype