Thursday, September 30, 2010



So handy having a place such as the English Market  (or any decent market) on your doorstep. Visited there yesterday with a short shopping list.

The essential item was sardines and got seven plump fillets (c. €3.50) at O’Connell’s. Then over to ABC for a loaf of Focaccia bread and picked up the last piece of the puzzle, a little box of juicy Cherry Tomatoes (€1.29), at Superfruit.

Back at the ranch, step one saw the tomatoes being roasted; step two saw the sardines (you could also use mackerel) being grilled and then the bread went under the grill. Olive oil was used at almost all stages and the result was a beautiful toasted lunch.

That lunch was planned;  today’s wasn’t. But it was even easier. Was back to ABC for my favourite Country Baguette (€2.50), though the main object was fish for dinner from Ballycotton Seafood and I cleaned them out of pollock.

The remainder of the cherry tomatoes were pressed into use. Cut them up and added them to the baguette along with some Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheese (Herb and Garlic), shredded some basil off the windowsill and combined the lot in a tasty open sandwich.


Clontarf Bridge, Cork

I am a specials kind of guy.

I always check the specials when I arrive in a restaurant; experience has taught me that it is a worthwhile practice.

Take the last week or so as an example. Let’s start with my visit to Fenns Quay, who have daily specials. Last weekend, I thoroughly enjoyed their Duck Confit and also the Tarte aux Pruneaux, both added to the regular choice because it coincided with the French Food Festival.

A few days later, at the Liberty Grill, I also hit the jackpot with their Chorizo and cheese, one of their In Season specials. They had run out of the Manchego (a Spanish sheeps cheese) but the substitute, Monterey Jack (an American cows cheese), was well up to the mark and the tasty toasted starter was well priced at under a fiver.

By the way, I also enjoyed the dessert here, though the Blueberry pie may not have been a special. Made as they do it in the southern states of the US and served with hot custard it was a fine finish to the meal. Something different.

The Liberty also does monthly wine specials and the current offer comes from Provence, from the Vaucluse in particular. It is Cotes de Ventoux, named after that bare hot mountain that regularly features in the Tour de France. Produced by Domaine des Anges  , both the red and white are excellent value and you may buy by the glass, the carafe (50cl) and the bottle. 

By the way the Irish connections re strong at this winery and the tricolours of both France and Ireland fly side by side and the wines are imported here by Red Nose Wines and Karwig Wines , among others.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Guest blogger Brian Clayton runs the rule over the new wines from Wine Alliance....

wine alliance tasting at fenns quay

September 26th, 2010
I was invited to a preview of some of the range from Wine Alliance this week, in Fenns Quay restaurant.
I’ve heard a bit about them, and I know Maurice from his days atKarwig Wines.
I’d already read about a couple of the wines on Paul Kiernan’s blog, so I was really looking forward to it.
wine alliance
We tasted 8 wines from their range, 2 Spanish, 2 French and 4 Portuguese. All were priced below the €10 euro mark and came in a mix of old school and funky labels.
  • Pegoes Branco 2009 Portugal
  • Stella Blanco 2009 Portugal
  • Mas De Vigneron Blanc 2009 France
  • Pegoes Tinto 2009 Portugal
  • Mas De Vigneron Rouge 2009 France
  • Stella Rosso 2008 Portugal
  • Rojo Mojo Tempranillo 2009 Spain
  • Rojo Mojo Shiraz 2009 Spain
They were all very nice, with the Stella Rosso being my favourite on the night. You wouldn’t go wrong with any of them though.
I’m delighted to see plenty of Portuguese wines on offer. I’ve never even heard of most of the grapes in these wines, but lately I’ve been hearing more positive things about wine from Portugal, so I was very happy to try them. The main characteristic of all the wines from the tasting was smoothness.
There was a range of tastes, but all the wines were accessible and smooth, “easy to drink” was mentioned several times on the night.
Maurice is a great MC for a tasting. He really knows the wines, and the interest and belief that he has in them shines through.
You can follow Wine Alliance and Maurice on Twitter. Have a chat to the lads, they’re very friendly and
maybe you can wangle an invite for yourself!
as usual, my tasting notes (click to enlarge). enjoy!

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Don't believe these ladies ran the marathon!


Had a quick walk through the Eat Cork Grand Parade Market this afternoon. Quick is the word as there were hardly twenty stalls there and only a fraction of those were local producers. Hard to blame the producers though as they are out at markets every day of the week, where they can be supported locally, and they deserve their day for rest.

The two crepe stands though and similar hot food stands were doing okay, as people coming back from the mini-marathon availed of the chance to restore energy levels.  Bought myself some Turkish delight and that was about it. 

Ended up then in TKMaxx where I spent a few minutes shopping and much more than a few minutes queuing. Bought a cook book on the cheap and a few utensils. By the way, if you are on the lookout for amaretto biscuits – I’m told they are hard to get – then TK has loads of them on their food stand.

  • Did you hear the news from Skibbereen that that lovely restaurant Over the Moon closed its doors last night. Shame to see the lights go down on such a class eatery.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


The old terrace of Fenn's Quay - restaurant on right.


Fenn’s Quay joined in the current French Food Fest by adding some Gallic items to their menus. And head chef Kate Lawlor did it with a class and expertise that would be hard to beat. Called there between stops on the Culture trail on Friday night and each course was a highlight.

Had quite a few Duck confits in the Dordogne this summer but the version served up by Fenn’s Quay was excellent, beating anything that came our way in Sarlat. High quality meat perfectly cooked and so well matched with red cabbage and a red wine sauce and served with a sweet potato mash, it was superb.

Dessert, Tarte aux Pruneaux, was also a winner. Served with cream, it was so well baked, so tasty and moist. Something that any top French patisserie would be delighted to produce.

Actually skipped the French opener, a chicken liver pate, in favour of the Warm Chicken Salad. Sounds ordinary enough, doesn’t it? But I can tell you that this delightful mix was far from ordinary. A brilliant start to yet another top class meal in Fenn’s Quay.

Laurenz V Friendly Gruner Veltliner 2008 €5.95 per glass
El Coto Crianza Rioja 2006 €7.50 per glass
3 course supper menu €27.50

Friday, September 24, 2010



Today, visited four lovely friendly shops in Cork Nash 19 , Brennan's Cookshop ,  Maher's Coffee  and Little Buddha .

Great standard of service and courtesy, not to mention the smiles, in all four. And, perhaps because of that type of service, each had plenty of customers.

Brennan’s Cook Shop in Oliver Plunket Street has all the utensils and bits and pieces (not ingredients, mind you, though they do have some flavourings and colourings) you need for your baking and cooking and if you can't do either, they have a course for you.

Up to Maher’s then, also on Oliver Plunket Street, for some coffee. They have a huge selection, loads of types of tea too and I noticed the price of their accessories is very keen. After a bit of advice, I bought myself some Sumatran for my cafetiere.

Princes Street was next and the visit was to Nash 19 to stock up from the shop. Some terrific food here including readymade meals from which I bought the lamb Tagine and couscous. Also stocked up with some gorgeous Glenilen yogurts and the magnificent Sparkling Apple Juice from Tipperary’s Apple Farm. 

Having sampled Jack McCarthy’s Gold Medal black-pudding in midweek, I said I’ve give his Duhallow Heather Lamb sausage a go. Sampled one just there at lunch and it was outstanding. Worth another gold.

McCurtain Street was next on the list and here I paid a visit to the coffee and tea shop of Little Buddha that is a treasure trove. Was looking for a particular type of Rooibos but it was out of stock. But there were still five to choose from, so I wasn't disappointed.

They also do scented candles, essentials oils, caddies, flavoured coffee, and all kinds of tea and coffee accessories. If you can't get to McCurtain Street, do have a look at their website. You can order on online and soon the range will be even greater. Worth a look. But if you can get to the shop, do so, as it is hard to better smelling the various types of teas yourself.


A bumper Weekend Catch, fresh from the Net.
Restaurant & Bar Scene in Cork
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It may well be Culture Night but you still got to eat!

No.5 Fenns Quay Restaurant Fenns Quay this weekend will be partaking in the French Food Festival with French dishes appering on our specials on Friday and Saturday evening ! Cork city this weekend will sure be a hive of actiivity between Ocktober Fest Beag the french Food festival and the Eat Cork Food Festival !!

Nash 19 Back in stock this week Inch House Gluten Free Blackpudding. Last day of the three for two in the freezer. Open till 6pm today. Inch House Country House Hotel & Restaurant Thurles

Greenes Restaurant Cork Evening Echo is advertising a Fantastic Offer this Saturday which will be valid from Monday Sept 27th-29th inc. Free Starter or Dessert with your Main Course - must be from a la carte menu. Don't forget to collect your voucher in Saturday's Evening Echo.

The Ambassador Restaurant Keep the Summer Sizzling......order any sizzling dish as a taster from €9.50 as a side or with a main course. Fun & Delicious. Sizzling Chow Mein....Sizzling Ginger & Spring Onion....Sizzling Garlic or even Black Pepper....mmmmm. For a limited period only starting today.

CuriousWines Lar Veale tries out The Squid's Fist @smallsips 1st Cork French Food & Wine Festival, organised by On The Pigs Back, is on in Douglas, from Sept 22nd to 25th. Yum!

Dingle Food & Wine Festival 2010: Oct 1st - 3rd The fourth annual Dingle Food & Wine Festival will take place on the 1st-3rd of October, 2010, in and around Dingle

EATcork Today's city producer is Roly's Fudge on Prince's Street. Their Crumbly fudge prepared daily in Prince's St - Just down from the English Market! Look out for them at farmers markets around the city

Food Safety Authority of Ireland Latest food allergen alert: Sulphites were not declared on the label of certain batches of dried apricots. If you are allergic or intolerant to sulphur dioxide or sulphites, you should check out the full details:

Wagamama Ireland it's tasty tuesday sushi night in wagamama cork only (sorry dublin we'll try and get it up there soon!) starts at 6pm...please come early to avoid dissappointment x

Bealcheese Outlets which currently stock Beal Mild... Update in the coming week!!
 This month's cover star: Elegant Pork Chops with a sweet, tomatoey sauce:
digestcomau Dig Marketing by smallsipsThe Langton's Classification of Australian Wines V is out now! Click here for the list:
donalskehan  Blackberry Crumb Slices will be up on the blog and in the Cork News this morning! :)
Kinsale Gourmet Fest next month:

 by localmarkets RT @: Eat Cork is happening this week, for a full listing of what's happening and where see 
We search the net, via Twitter and Facebook, each Thursday evening and early Friday morning, for the latest from the Cork restaurant and bar scene. If you don't have either of the above, reach us at Deadline 9.00am Friday.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Press release from the Kinsale Gourmet Festival


The "Kinsale Gourmet Festival" is held in October of each year and is a celebration of all the fine things that Kinsale has to offer, this year Bollinger Champagne are the Headline Sponsor to support the event and make it the best yet.

‘We are delighted to get involved in the Kinsale Gourmet Festival which has such a prestige within Ireland’ comments Vianey Fabre of Bollinger ‘ I for one am looking forward to coming to such a beautiful part of the Country and tasting what they have to offer.’
 Visitors can expect to experience a Cookery demonstration with Kinsale & RTE's Martin Shanahan of "Martin's Mad About Fish" fame accompanied by a wine reception sponsored by Pallas Foods.  The Official Opening at the White Lady Hotel including a Bollinger Champagne reception with canapés from the Good Food Circle, hosted by members of The Kinsale Good Food Circle as well as Dining out at the GFC restaurant of their choice as part of the package. Participating Restaurants  include Restaurant d' Antibes @ The White House, The Blue Haven,The Captains Table @ Actons Hotel, Crackpots, Jim Edwards, Max's Wine Bar, Man Friday, Pier One @ The Trident Hotel, Toddies, White Lady, Fishy Fishy.
 On Saturday guests can Join Alice, the Mad Hatter, March Hare and the Fieldmouse for the Highlight of the Festival - an escorted tour of the 11 Members of Kinsale's Good Food Circle who will present spectacular dishes from their kitchens bearing testimony to the culinary skills of the chefs of Kinsale accompanied by wines from festival sponsors, Gleeson's, Gilbey's, Karwig's & Nash's.  Non wine drinkers can avail of beer compliments of Heineken Ireland or water from Tipperary Water.
Sunday anticipates a superb afternoon of fun & frolics with MC Derek Davis at the renowned Fruits de Mer in Actons Hotel, where guests can enjoy a mouth watering four course lunch to include lobster, crab, prawns etc, accompanied by delicious wines sponsored by Torres Mas Rabell and fresh roasted coffees compliments of Bewleys.  Patrons can then dance the evening away to music by the Aristocrats.

 For more information, quotes, to arrange an interview or for further images please contact:

Jacques Malone MPRII
T:+353 (0) 858 167 345
Maria O'Mahony
T:+353 (0) 21 4773571
Or see the website:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Just heard from Sully of Cully and Sully...

"We are running a competition called Chef Factor - that wants people to submit a dish they made. Upload a photo of you with your dish and the words “Cully & Sully” somewhere in your
picture. You can submit ANY dish you want, big or small, starter or main, sandwich or steak!"

"The top prize is a place on the 12 week Ballymaloe Cookery Course worth €12,000 plus accommodation, knives and everything you'll need to be Ireland's next great culinary success. We hope you'll enter this too.  The top prize is redeemable in January 2011/2012."

"We're finding that people think they need to be fantastic cooks in order to enter but we're happy to take
any submission where someone has prepared a dish, be it some amazing french dish or beans on toast. We're hoping after the course the winner can become that superstar chef they want to be."

Check it out here



Found a Spelt and Yogurt Fruit Cake, made by Coolmore Foods from Bandon, on sale in Dunne’s recently for €1.99.

Very tasty cake thanks in part to the nutty flavour of the spelt. A serving suggestion, which should work out, is: delicious served warm from the microwave with cream, ice cream and fresh fruits.

Coolmore are a family owned business operating out of the Lauragh Industrial Estate in the town and more details may be found at

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Celebrations in Kanturk this evening as local butcher Jack McCarthy was honoured by La Confrérie des Chevaliers du Goûte Boudin.  



Kanturk was en fete last evening as La Confrérie des Chevaliers du Goûte Boudin arrived in the Duhallow town to present Jack McCarthy with a Gold Medal for the quality of his famous Black Pudding.

Main Street, where McCarthy’s Butcher Shop, established in 1892, stands was jammed with locals and visitors, all keen to congratulate Jack and son Timmy on the success. Jack was in top form, detailing the artistic and sporting prowess of Duhallow, slipping with ease from English to Irish and vice versa and throwing in the odd French focal as well before rounding it all off with a song.

The French group had marched up Strand Street, led by a bunch of pipers, and were cheered into Main Street where the informal ceremony took place with short speeches by Jack and representatives of Good Food Ireland and La Confrérie (with Isabelle Sheridan of On the Pigs Back acting as translator).

Quite a few stalls had set up in the packed street, including On the Pigs Back, the Secret Garden and Sheridan’s Cheesemakers. Great to meet supporters of Irish food such as Caroline of Bibliocook and the girls from Nash 19.

And that Boudin Noir? Well McCarthy’s were giving it away last night and it is fantastic, really really good and well worth the Gold Medal. They have also come up with a black pudding bread and that too was very tasty.

And to crown it all, the Gold Medal butchers had roasted a wild boar. I had a few chunks of that. Different class. After all that, badly needed a drink and here the kind folks of Kanturk Dairies were on hand with cool milk and fruit juices. Well done to Jack and to all in Kanturk last night.

Click on image to enlarge.   See below for full details

Bitesize in Midleton


Took the opportunity recently to sample the sweet cakes of Midleton’s Bitesize and quiet nice they were too.

But this local company, which uses only the best local produce, is much more than a cake maker and is into catering in a big way, both for private and corporate events. Canapés, cold meats, salads, sandwiches, casserole dishes, quiches and all those sweet bites are available along with a kids menu.
You may collect at the Knockgriffin kitchens or they’ll deliver to your party.
021 4634100
Unit 6, Community Enterprise Centre, Knockgriffin, Midleton

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

Monday, September 20, 2010



Come grow with us! That’s was the invitation from Barry’s Nurseries at the recent Midleton Food Market. It is their new education venture. “Modules are held throughout the year at our own model organic fruit and veg garden...on a range of gardening topics.” Everything from No Dig gardening (I might like that), fruit and b vegetables to Bee Keeping is covered.

Aside from this unusual help, Barry’s have the complete range of plants and materials needed for the modern garden: bedding plants, herbs, seeds, tree stakes, windbreaks and much much more. And if the display on their Midleton stall is anything to go by then the place is well worth visit.

086 8141133
Inch, Killeagh, Co. Cork

Check out my review of Barry's Nurseries - I am cork - on Qype


Paul Sharkey, winner of recent wine
competition - see bottom


A couple of new-to-Ireland Spanish Reds have just hit the market, thanks to Wine Alliance and it is worth watching out for the Shiraz and Tempranillo in the distinctive Mojo Rojo labels of  Lozano’s Cellars in La Mancha, Spain’s biggest wine region.

The 2009 Shiraz, with an ABV of 13.5%, is a deep red colour, currant and spice on the nose, berries also on the palate and moderately spicy (close to the Rhone Syrah, unsurprisingly). It is well balanced, full bodied, easy to drink with good length on the finish and good value at €8.99.

While I was finishing off this bottle, I happened to be reading Dining with Al Qaeda by Hugh Pope and Shiraz, a city in Iran, featured, mainly because of a very famous 14th century poet called Hafez who, like many of his fellow citizens at the time, was into his wine.

On a 2001 visit by Pope, a billboard type sign on the Shiraz ring road, highlighted a couple of lines:
“You’re late, O drunken-headed lover.
I won't let your skirt slip easily from my embrace”


Left to right: Martin Shanrahan, Isabel Sheridan, Tim McCarthy and Avril Allshire

La Confrérie des Chevaliers du Goûte Boudin - one of the world’s greatest authorities on black pudding – are in Ireland this week. Over three days from today (September 20),  thirty  Knights of the fraternity will visit McCarthy’s of Kanturk, Caherbeg Free Range Pork Rosscarbery and Mayo’s Seán Kelly to award gold, silver and bronze medals.  Street festivities are planned and this promises to be a great  three day celebration of all that is exciting and special about Irish black pudding and telling that story to an international market.

European Pudding Champions
Three Irish Butchers to be Knighted

Saturday, September 18, 2010



There is a French Food Fest coming up next weekend but I stole a march by making second trip of the summer to Nautilus in Ballycotton last evening and once again hit the jackpot at this little French run restaurant by the harbour.

Telling it like it is...

No hiding place as guest blogger Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wines gets down to the nitty gritty.....


So, here is the truth, or at least my truth. I’ve wanted to write this down for a long time. I am going to tell you exactly how the cost of a bottle of wine breaks down. 
I will break it down into 3 price points. A wine that retails under €10 works out like this. Let’s assume I am buying the wine ex-cellar ( which means at the cellar door free of VAT ). If the price is €2, then I need to transport that wine to Ireland which can range in cost depending on how many pallets are moving and from which part of France etc. A good average is 75 cents / bottle. 
We are now up to €2.75 and we need to add on the cost of putting the wine into a bonded warehouse. This works out at about 50 cents a bottle. We add on excise duty which is €1.96 / bottle for still wine ( sparkling is double ) and we come to €5.21. 
At this point we haven’t put on a margin and if you are an importer you need to add on a decent margin to counter against the cost of holding the wine for a sustained period of time. If you are buying by the case, you can take less margin, but you have to hold large stocks if you are selling it into trade. We will take an average margin of 35% which brings you up to €8 a bottle. When this wine is sold into restaurants this margin would be drastically cut. 
Even though you paid the revenue the excise duty of €1.96 they are not satisfied and you must now pay VAT at 21% on top of the €8 bringing your bottle of wine to a shelf price of €9.70. It should be noted that the VAT was on top of the excise duty so in effect the tax you paid was also taxed. So, a bottle of wine that cost €2 at the vineyard door now comes in at €9.70. 
That’s a fair price for the wine but it should be noted, if you buy a €12 bottle of wine, you end up paying your vineyard owner €3.24 and I can tell you there is a huge difference in quality for that €1.24. The duty is the same, but you are getting a lot more wine for your price. 
If you buy a €17 bottle of wine, the vineyard is getting nearly €6 and you are getting a wine that is 3 times better ( in theory ) but costing you €12 euros less €9.70 euros / bottle x 3 = €29.10 euros.
With a merchant you can trust, the more you spend on a bottle the better value you should receive. That is why my current 15% and 20% sale is the very best I can offer. I am making no money on that and am just trying to clear stock ahead of the new wines coming in. 
If you put on proper margins, you should not be able to offer 50% sales. You need to ask how much the original price is for the wine, and is that a fair price for the quality. In saying that, I do think there is a ceiling here and I do not think wines that cost €200 / bottle are 10 times better than a €20 bottle of wine. Once again, it comes back to trust.
On a slightly different note, here is an interesting fact for you. At the recent Tipperary Food Producers Long Table dinner a member of the group spoke of a startling statistic. For every €10 spent with a local merchant, €34 goes back into the local economy, while for every €10 spent in a supermarket, that figure is only €14.
Don’t forget to log onto the blog at or follow the ranting on Twitter –
For anyone who would like more information and can’t make it into the shop, please feel free to contact me at
“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Friday, September 17, 2010


A guest post by Rick LeVert of the Food Coast...

Four Bridgestone-Recommended Restaurants
One Communal Harvest Feast

On 26 September 2010, four Bridgestone recommended restaurants  Rathmullan
House, Harry¹s Restaurant, An Bonnán Buí, and The Beach House  will be
joining forces to serve 300 guests a sociable harvest feast against the
backdrop of Lough Swilly and Rathmullan¹s historic Battery. What¹s on the
menu? Donegal¹s best local ingredients turned into a four-course, communal
lunch by Donegal¹s best chefs.


A bumper Weekend Catch, fresh from the Net.
Restaurant & Bar Scene in Cork
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French Food and Wine fest coming up – see blake Creedon’s blog

Cafe Gusto The evening menu which we serve late on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Washington Street has become very popular. This month we introduced Cicchetti, Venetian tapas which have gone down a storm. On a recent visit to London we were amazed to see that this type of informal cafe food is all the rage. So call in, no booking needed, as we..

Irish Foodies Cookalongs