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Thursday, March 31, 2011

LIKE A LITTLE MYSTERY IN YOUR WINE?

CHEEKY CORKSCREW CREW!

Have you ever been trained to a computer application by a tech wizard about ten years younger than you, his impatient digits hopping form one key to another, guiding you from one screen to another, at a blinding speed?

You say to yourself: What did he do there? And, the first time, you ask him? Then you see he doesn't slow down one little iota and you realise it is a waste of time asking.

Some wine professionals can be a bit like that, expecting you to pick up everything in one gushing rush of the trade argot and then totally surprised when you walk away without making a purchase.

People in the wine trade take it for granted, but lots of consumers find it difficult to choose a wine. The Corkscrew crew are using a novel concept to make that choice easier, by removing it altogether! 


With their Mystery Case concept you pay €150 for €180 worth of "mystery" wine, delivered free to your door.

It may seem a little strange buying wine before you know what it is but Chris Gifford sees it differently, "Our customers trust our recommendations so this is just an extension of that, perhaps with a little extra intrigue. It's also a great excuse to try some gorgeous wines you may never have considered before".

The mystery case offer will last for only 5 days if stocks last that long as it's already proving popular with customers. So buy your wine the easy way and get a decent discount at the same time.

RIOJA WINE JEWEL MATCHES IRISH FOOD GEMS

Promesa Crianza 2007, Rioja, 13.5%, €11.99,  stockists,
A 100 per cent Tempranillo by Familia Martinez Bujanda, 12 months in oak (70% American, 30% French)
Had good Irish food on the table the other night: starter included some excellent black pudding by Jack McCarthy (via Manning’s Emporium), Pat Whelan’s fantastic Wagyu steaks (won in a Twitter competition), and some Hegarty’s Mature Cheddar (market). Needed a good wine to take its place and match that Cork and Tipp line-up and had it in this superb warm spicy Wine Alliance sample.
The colour is a deep red, close to purple. On the nose, you have black berry fruits along with spice notes. It is strong and intense on the palate, silky tannins combining with the other elements to give an elegant wine with a long and tasty ending. A really well balanced satisfying wine.
The recommended pairings are: Medium-aged cheeses. White and red meats. Lamb, cooked fishes and stews such as tuna with potatoes, beans, and beans with partridge.
Familia Martinez Bujanda are “one of the leading lights of Rioja” and their wines are exported to fifty countries.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

SINS and SONGS of the FLESH

The boys of AN CRÚIBÍN have been sinning and singing again. They just can't resist that flesh. They have confessed. Here is the evidence: http://themeatcentre.com/wordpress/?p=908

Hot Off the Vines

Mary Dowey visits The Restaurant @ Donnybrook Fair to host a wine dinner with a difference. Change is the only constant in the world of wine and that’s why so many of us find it endlessly intriguing. 

Like the world of fashion, new styles, new fads and new talents are  constantly emerging while others are cast aside.  Mary has chosen a line-up of wines from some of the world’s most pioneering regions and cutting‐edge producers for what promises to be a memorable night for food and wine aficionados. DF’s Head Chef, Ben Anderson, has worked closely with Mary to create a mouthwatering four course menu to complement the five wines that have been selected.

DATE: Tuesday 19th April TIME: 19.45
LOCATION: The Restaurant @ Donnybrook Fair
COST: €60 per person / limited places available
T: 01 6144849 E: restaurant@donnybrookfair.ie

EASTER RECIPES (and more)

Easter Ideas all on one page!


Thanks to Diana Moutsopoulos,  Editor of AllRecipes.co.uk, we have this handy dedicated 'Easter guide' this year, with loads of ideas from how to make chocolate eggs to Easter cupcakes and roast lamb.
http://allrecipes.co.uk/guide/easter.aspx

Win loads of luxury chocolate!
Diana Moutsopoulos  Editor of AllRecipes: “We just launched a competition with The Chocolate Trading Co., with 21 chances to win! Just submit a recipe to enter. All those who enter get 15% off their next Chocolate Trading Co. purchase, too!”
http://allrecipes.co.uk/competition-entry.aspx

 WhoseView.ie has just launched its Clodagh McKenna Big Deal offering. With the Big Deal coupon service, consumers can buy coupons at significantly discounted prices. Clodagh is offering 36% off a selection of €140 courses at the Village of Lyons Estate. Essentially you can buy any 1 of 4 day courses for €90 instead of €140. Offer ends April 4th 2011. More details can be found on the link below. 
http://www.whoseview.ie/deal/-854064.html

  •  Treyvaud's is a restaurant in the middle of Killarney. They have been out in the national park  recently hunting for Wild Garlic – “It's everywhere and so tasty. Watch this and you'll know what to look for if you are out walking around forests or rivers. Its around for the next few weeks and I'll have some cooking videos up soon just to show you exactly what can be done with it. Enjoy.”
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Diw-yxUNQPs

·         Recipe 1: Moroccan Spiced Orange Cake


A simple but nice rhubarb compote 
1 bunch of rhubarb washed & chopped 
75g castor sugar 
2 oranges juiced 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put in a pot and cook on a low heat for 20 minutes or until rhubarb has softened 
Its yummy with custard !

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

FANCY A CUP OF SIGRI A?


SIGRI A

No. Not a mis-spelling of Sangria. Not alcoholic at all, in fact.

Sigri A is the latest coffee I’ve received as a fully paid up member of the Robert Roberts Coffee Connoisseur Club and it comes all the way from the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea (pictured).

Was it worth the journey? Had my doubts when I read it was a fine and delicate coffee and also noticed the colour, which was quite light compared to most of the coffees I’ve known.

Gareth Scully, the Master Blender at Roberts, suggests it is ideal in the morning - when your palate “is a bit more open to taste”. He has a point. If you yourself are feeling a little “delicate” in the morning, then this is the one for you.

I have drunk it at other times also and have grown to like it, even though it is certainly no way near as strong as the Monsoon Malabar, last month’s selection.  Gareth suggests using milk but I never do. The Sigri is a really nice subtle coffee, well balanced and a fine finish indeed. No need for supports or disguises.

The artisan producers apparently take a little more time over the beans and Roberts went for a lighter roast here, 11 minutes at 189 degrees with the beans released 50 seconds after the first crack is heard. Nice choice Gareth and well handled.

This is the third in series. The first was a Brazilian Bruzzi. From where in their world will Mr Scully pull the next gem from?

Easter Wine Bonanza Weekend in Urru Bandon

Urru Bandon Re-Launch Wine Card...

Glad to see that two old “friends” of mine will be prominent when Urru Bandon  re-launch their Wine Club Card scheme this Easter. Bubble Brothers are their wine partners and the two friends I refer to are two favourite wines from the Margaret River area of Australia, Xanadu’s Next of Kin Cabernet Sauvignon and Semillon Sauvignon Blanc.

This Easter Bonanza Wine Weekend in Bandon will feature the re-launch of Club Card; a mix & match wine offer for Easter itself and the start of a series of fun Saturday wine tastings for casual and dedicated wine lovers alike. It will all kick off from 11 am on Saturday 23 April.

Urru’s Wine Club Card will re-launch with a really easy, straightforward wine “collect-to-get” schemes. Simply collect 36 tokens (one with each bottle of normal priced wine) and redeem them to get a 10% discount card on all normal priced wine purchases for 12 months following redemption. This will replace the previous “collect-to-get” gifts scheme that has been running since 2009. The revamp of the scheme is in response to what shoppers having said is what they most want.

 For Easter there will be a mix & match offer of Buy 5 Bottles, Get 1 Free on a range of best-selling wines. To make it easy to choose your favourite five, John McCarthy from Bubble Brothers will be in-store on Saturday 23rd April from 11am to guide the tasting of the wines. Wines on offer will include the likes of Agricola Castellana, Pampano Inspiracion (Rueda, €11), Xanadu, Next of Kin, Sauvignon-Semillon (Margaret River, €13.50), Mount Langi Ghiran, Billi Billi, Pinot Grigio (Victoria €13.50), Chateau la Mothe du Barry, Bordeaux Superieur, €12.50, Bodegas Pingon, Carramimbre Joven Roble (Ribera Duro, €13.50), Xanadu, Next of Kin, Cabernet Sauvignon (Margaret River, €13.50), Mount Langi Ghiran, Billi Billi Shiraz (Victoria, €13.50) and more.

Thirdly, an 8 week series of “Taste of Wine & Cheese of the Week” for summer will start. It will offer an opportunity to blind taste a selected wine each Saturday, covering a range of prices, styles and regions. It is a chance to hone the senses, with the aid of tasting charts, guess the grapes, price range and country of origin; then the wine will be matched with a compatible Cheese of the Week, selected from a range of over 40 Irish farmhouse cheeses and to help it all go down there will be 10% off the price to take home and savour in the long summer evenings with friends and family.

Urru Culinary Store and Bubble Brothers Wines have been working together for 8 years to bring a uniquely wide selection of artisan and emerging wine makers to West Cork.Urru is a member of Good Food Ireland  /and Slow Food Ireland and is featured in the Bridgestone Irish Food Guide and Georgina Campbell Guides.
This is the 4th in a series of 11 Bonanza Days from Urru across 2011 to bring some  good cheer to West Cork and remind us of what is great in our culinary community.

Monday, March 28, 2011

BEST IN CONNAUGHT - IN GALWAY TONIGHT!!

“Best County Restaurants and Chefs in Connaught to be announced tonight .”

The Connaught Regional Event for The  SANTA RITA Irish Restaurant Awards will take place tonight Monday 28th March 2011 at 7.30pm in The House Hotel, Spanish Parade, Galway http://thehousehotel.ie
County Winners in the following categories across the province will be announced
Best Chef
Best Restaurant
Best Gastro Pub
Best Hotel Restaurant
Best Customer Service
Best Wine Experience.
The event will begin with a prosecco, wine and light finger food reception, for over 200 guests. Also in attendance will be local food producers with tasting stalls for guests

Linnalla Ice Cream:        http://www.linnalla.com/
Killary Harbour Mussels: http://www.martysmussels.ie/
Smokehouse:                http://www.smokehouse.ie/Sheridans Cheese:         http://www.sheridanscheesemongers.com/Foods of Athenry:          http://www.foodsofathenry.ie/
Since their inception, the Irish Restaurant Awards have cast a spotlight on Irelands hottest restaurants and chefs.
They have become a byword for quality, class and achievement… The awards everyone wants to win. As a testament to their success, the entries have doubled since last year, with 6,000 nominations made for Ireland’s favourite Restaurants, Chefs, Gastro Pubs, Hotel Restaurants and Local Food Heroes throughout the Country.
We celebrate the award winning cuisines and the great restaurateurs and chefs who have brought international recognition and accolades to the Irish restaurant scene.  We are the economic engine rooms in every town in Ireland, creating and maintaining much needed local employment.  Our industry has annual sales in excess of €2 billion and we employ 64,000 people.  In fact, we are the largest employer within the Irish Tourism Sector’  Paul Cadden, President, The Restaurants Association of Ireland.

EXCELLENT WINE FOR €9.99!!


A STUNNING WINE
NO STING IN THE PRICE
Beso de Vino Seleccion 2009 Cariñena Spain Syrah (85%) and Garnacha, 13.5% ABV, €9.99 Stockists.... 
You taste this wine and then you think you paid just 9.99 for it. You almost doubt it. Incredible but true. Awarded, and rightly so, 90 points by Jay Miller for the Wine Advocate Robert Palmer, you can pick this up for under a tenner.
The colour is a fresh and clean garnet and the coffee/chocolate nose is even more evident here than in our recent Barista. Coffee/chocolate traces also on the palate, though unobtrusively so. Here the main flavours are cherry and blueberry and a nice slash of spice with tannins enough to balance and give a terrific all round finish. All in all a fantastic wine and, once again, at a fantastic price.
Try it. You might like it, might well have an experience like Antonio the Bull (pictured on the label): “I'm a Bull, I suppose you'd guessed that, male, I suppose you'd noticed that too, and Spanish. I'm young, sociable, carefree, modern, likeable, friendly to everyone, casual, adventurous, generous, sensitive and ecological. I like trying new things, travelling and eating. I haven't got a clue about wine, but I fell in love with BESO DE VINO the first time I drank it.”
Lot of bull there (could be handy for a Rose of Tralee contestant) but I can sympathise with the sentiments of the last line!

Dining in Blackrock Castle

THE CASTLE

Dined in a castle last Friday night and it cost me just over 30 euro. Incredible? Not really, just take yourself down to the Castle Cafe and Restaurant in Blackrock Castle and you’ll see I’m not kidding.

The food operation has recently been taking over by the folks from the well established and well regarded Market Lane and the experience shows here. But there seems to be a different lighter touch at play here or at least there was in the dishes that I enjoyed.

The cafe is divided into two rooms and has a full bar. Service is excellent, friendly and considerate and efficient, and the seating is quite comfortable.

We were seated in the back room and from the nicely printed one sheet menu I picked Asparagus, smoked salmon and mussels with a hollandaise sauce (7.95). The Asparagus was tip top as was the salmon and the whole thing was a treat. Gorgeous.

Now on to the main course: Pan Fried Sea bass with a tian of Mediterranean vegetables 17.95). Hard to beat this one. The combination was light and tasty and still quite substantial.

Desserts cost just over 6 euro each but I passed on that. Wine was the house Sauvignon Blanc at €5.50 a glass, 12 for a 0.5l carafe.

Of course you can spend more here. Steaks will cost you in the mid 20s. You can spend less – I spotted a Pan fried Chicken dish for 11.50 and they also have a selection of pizzas around that mark. Well worth checking out.

The restaurant is open for lunch seven days and serves evening meals on Fridays and Saturday. Phone: 4357911; info@castlecafe.ie

Sunday, March 27, 2011

SPUD and BACON BOXTY in CHINA

AN CRÚIBÍN IN CHINA


Here are a few shots from the recent, highly successful trip by Mr Lewis of AN CRÚIBÍN to China.


 Cooking his way from Hangzhou to Shanghai, Chef Lewis and the local chefs exchanged ideas and recipes before preparing meals for the large group of representatives from China and Ireland. 


The recipe for spud and bacon boxty with quail egg is here 



Saturday, March 26, 2011

PASTRY ACE RACHID

FOTA ISLAND RESORT

Danielle Gibbons recently introduced me to a few online cookery demos that their  pastry chef Rachid Zaouia has just released.

"The series, called ‘Simply Pastry Wowed’, features Rachid preparing and cooking simple but classic desserts such as Thyme Pannacotta & White Chocolate Parfait with Red Wine Figs using easy to-find-ingredients.  So far we have recorded 5 dessert demos and 1 cocktail demo, which we plan to gradually release over the coming weeks. Feel free to have a look at our new Video Recipe Section and of course feel free to browse our dining section."

"If you have any thoughts or comments on the new series, I would love to hear them."

Rachid discovered his culinary identity at a young age, while spending many enjoyable summers working in his Uncle's bakery in France. This love and passion for baking lured Rachid into completing a baking and pastry apprenticeship at the young age of 17.

Rachid left France for England where he worked for respected chef Raymond Blanc then onto Ireland where he polished his skills and practiced his art for three years in the K Club, Kildare before journeying to Australia to work for a year. Returning to England, Rachid worked in the Sheffield Thyme and then joined the team in the Host Arms in Norfolk. While at the Host Arms Rachid had the opportunity to really unleash his creativity and carve his own interesting niche.

Today Rachid continues to challenge his creative flair and embrace innovation as the Executive Pastry Chef at Fota Island Resort. Rachid's food philosophy is deeply rooted in local and seasonal produce, which is strongly reflected both in the ingredients used in the Simply Pastry Wowed series and in the food served at Fota Island Resort. Rachid plans to share his knowledge and passion for pastry by putting pen to paper for his first book, which he is currently putting the finishing touches to.

Friday, March 25, 2011

FRIDAY’S FOOD SHORTS

FRIDAY’S FOOD SHORTS

It's back! The return of the famous (or infamous) Mannings Emporium Food & Drink Fair, will take place on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 June. Mark it in your diary for a fun filled weekend of food and drink tastings, live music, cookery demonstrations, food quizes and much more.
Gourmet food shop, deli & cafe.

Manning's at Blarney Farmers Market
Manning's is a West Cork " food mecca with the best artisan produce in the area, wide selection of irish and continental farmhouse cheeses, a range of wines from around the world and an array of other artisan goodies!" Open daily 9am - 7pm. More info here  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mannings-Emporium/125428607483109

Nash19Cork, perhaps my favourite day-tiem restaurant in Cork also have a fantastic shop. One of the latest products here is Organic Belgooly Buttermilk from John and Mary Cronins Farm. "We used it in our pancakes"...http://fb.me/KjFBQDu3

Ben & Jerry’s newest flavourCoconUtterly Fair has mouth-watering chocolate ice cream with a rich coconut swirl and chocolate covered caramel crunch clusters. In 2010, Ben & Jerry’s announced it would convert all of its ice cream to 100% Fairtrade, by using fully Fairtrade ingredients by year-end 2011 and the crew are right on track with CoconUtterly Fair.

Made with four Fairtrade Certified ingredients including vanilla from Madagascar, sugar from Belize and cocoa from the Dominican Republic, Coconutterly Fair is certainly the fairest of them all. On top of that, Ben & Jerry’s need for Fairtrade Certified coconut provided the first Fairtrade customer for Acopagro, a Peruvian farmer cooperative. That’s sure to leave a sweet taste in your mouth!

Inch House, Country House & RestaurantHello everyone, What a great week for Inch House. We have just found out we have won a Bronze medal for our Black pudding at the Boudin Festival in France last weekend. We are absolutely thrilled!!! Well done everyone!”

The Perfect Gift For Mum this Mother’s Day

Kelly's Hotel Dessert
Wondering what to buy the woman (maybe women) in your life for the fast approaching Mother's Day? Linda Thomas of Good Food Ireland has some ideas:

"Why not make this Mother’s Day extra special and an unforgettable experience with Good Food Ireland! Give mum the perfect gift of a Good Food Ireland gift voucher to show your appreciation for all she’s done.

These unique vouchers can be used at over 260 Good Food Ireland members throughout Ireland for a well-deserved break in the best settings allowing your mum to experience the very best in Irish cuisine and hospitality.

Alternatively, choose from a variety of delicious mouthwatering food gifts or award winning quality artisan food hampers to share.

Whether you are looking for a relaxing spa weekend, or dinner in a famous Irish eatery or just pure food indulgence, a Good Food Ireland gift voucher is the perfect gift this Mother’s Day and is ideal for anyone who simply loves good Irish food!

Forget about having to travel to the likes of France for exceptional cuisine when you can enjoy dishes to delight every palate here at home. Le Guide Du Routard, the travel bible of the French-speaking world have deemed Irish Restaurants among the best in the world, it even goes so far as to praise Ireland's restaurants for being unmatched the world over!

Gift vouchers are available from 50 euro +. These vouchers will be available for purchase on the Good Food Ireland website and also by contacting the main head office. Log onto www.goodfoodireland.ie for further information."

Restaurants Association of Ireland announce its line-up for Annual Conference

Restaurants Association of Ireland announce its line-up for Annual Conference

Gibson Hotel, Point Village, Dublin 1

Tuesday, 12th April 2011.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland announce the line-up for the 2011 annual general meeting, taking place in the Gibson Hotel, Dublin on April 12th.

This year’s theme is “Brand Ireland, it’s in our hands” and Adrian Cummins, Chief Executive for the Restaurants Association of Ireland states that it is very important that we should focus in on the year ahead and drive as much business as possible into the restaurants using tourism as a vehicle for the economy.

We have a superb line-up  of speakers including the
.

The guest speakers are:

  • Cyril McAree, Conference Chair.
  • Norah Casey
  • David McKernan
  • Bill Cullen
  • Damien Mulley
  • Fionn Davenport
  • Linda Leonie Prager

The speakers for the annual general meeting are as follows:

  • Cyril McAree

Cyril McAree is the founder and publisher of Hotel & Restaurant Times. Established in 1998, the magazine is now considered an essential read for those involved in the hospitality sector. The publication is circulated bi-monthly, on a controlled circulation basis to named individuals. The magazine has an exclusive agreement with both the RAI and the IHI to feature member specific content, including newsletters. Hotel and Restaurant Times is circulated on a named basis to members of the Irish Hotel Federation; Fáilte Ireland Approved Hotels, Irish Country Houses and Restaurants, Catering Management Association, Hotel marketing groups, selected Architects and Interior Designers and can also be sourced in leading newsagents. Cyril is also a founding partner of the SMILE Hotel Marketing Conference and more recently was appointed to the Irish board of HSMAI (Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International).

  • Bill Cullen

Bill Cullen is a successful entrepreneur. Listed as one of Ireland’s top 100 businessmen. Bill was born in the inner city tenements of Dublin. One of fourteen children whose mother, Mary Darcy was a fruit seller, Bill was selling on the streets from the age of six. Bill went on to set up his own motor business, which became the biggest Ford dealership in Ireland. In 1986 he took over the troubled Renault Car Distribution franchise from Waterford Crystal. His turnaround of that company is a business success story well chronicled in his memoirs “It’s A Long Way From Penny Apples”. Of course, he is better known today as the boss of The Apprentice.

  • Linda Leonie Prager

Linda Prager started her studies in business administration in Zurich, after which she worked for several years at a Zurich-based consulting company. The decision to obtain her Master’s degree at the Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne was made following a prolonged period of time abroad in the United States. In 2008, she spearheaded the opening of mixed-use, multi-concept property in the north part of Switzerland. The company she currently manages with her mother, prager. gastronomie SA, includes a classic fine-dining venue as well as the trendy and popular concept restaurant, “Güterhof” which has come to be very well known in Switzerland. Linda continues to come up with innovative events and ideas for her company, and stays on top of restaurant and hospitality trends. It is no surprise that she comes from a lineage of hospitality professionals, as her grandfather was the founder of Mövenpick.

  • Damien Mulley

Damien is from Cork and asks this to be mentioned at the start of every bio. He is also in a 5 year battle with Damien Rice, Damien Dempsey and Damien The Omen to be first for his name on Google. Everything else he does, so he says, comes after that. He runs Mulley Communications, has a client base of multinationals to one person operations and is obsessed with food. He is known to rise people on Twitter by taking pics of great dishes and tweeting them out marked with the tag #foodporn. When he’s not winding people up online he works with his clients to design online marketing plans and/or designs ways for them to get attention and do something with it. Damien can’t cook but has the vernacular of one.

  • Fionn Davenport

Fionn Davenport has been a travel writer for 20 years, writing about far-flung places for the likes of Lonely Planet, Fodor’s Travel Publications and a host of travel magazines. He’s also devoted an enormous amount of words to his own country, which he critiques as only someone in love with a place can. You can hear him dispense travel advice every Tuesday on George Hook’s The Right Hook programme on Newstalk 106, as well as hosting his own show, Davenport After Dark, every Thursday at 10pm.

  • Norah Casey

Norah Casey is CEO (and owner) of Harmonia, Ireland’s largest magazine company printing over four million magazines annually for the Irish, British and US market. Harmonia’s stable includes strong women’s brands: Irish Tatler, U, Woman’s Way and www.ivenus.com; and specialist titles like Food&Wine, Auto Ireland and Ireland of the Welcomes (aimed at the Irish Diaspora with over 80,000 USA-based subscribers). She is a member of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, the London-based Women’s Irish Network and The International Women’s Forum. She was awarded The Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year Award for 2007/8 and has won The Publisher of the Year Award in 2006, 2007 & 2008. Most recently Norah has been announced as the newest Dragon in the Irish version of Dragons Den.

  • David McKernan

Entrepreneur and Founder of Java Republic Roasting Company
David McKernan culminated the world’s first purpose-built carbon-neutral coffee roastery and brand house 16 years ago known as Java Republic. Recently recognised as one of the most ethical coffee companies in Europe by its industry peers, they give 11% of nett profits to coffee growing communities to help develop micro-businesses so that the coffee farmer is not reliant solely on coffee for his livelihood. Education and enterprise form part of the philosophy too as the company has teamed up with Focus Ireland and the Fingal Enterprise board to challenge students to raise funds for a local charity whilst learning about business. David’s forthright manner will get you thinking and motivate you to look at life, your business and your vision.

Full Conference Details: http://www.rai.ie/RAI_booking_FINAL.pdf

COFFEE AT THE MILL

THE MILL RESTAURANT 

Blarney Woollen Mills Hotel have re-vamped the Mill Restaurant and, armed with a couple of complimentary vouchers, we dropped in there yesterday morning.

Dropped is not strictly correct as we really sat down outside on the terrace under the beautiful sunshine. There we enjoyed our coffees and scones which were served up with a big friendly smile.

A tempting range of pastries and salads were also on offer. The Mill also does full meals and I spotted a notice board offering three courses for less than twenty euro.

BLARNEY FARMERS MARKET

BLARNEY FARMERS MARKET

Enjoyed a pleasant stroll around the Blarney farmers market in the Grounds of the Blarney Woollen Mills Hotel yesterday.

This market is not all about food and has a few craft stalls. One that catches the ear as much as the eye is Windwalker. You will hear the music of the flute as you approach.

Windwalker (021 4874851 and 086 8168652) makes North American Indian style flutes and crafts, including handmade elk and deer hide moccasins and boots, even feather earrings.

Angel Foods are a stall new to me and here I was challenged to try out one of their baking mixes. Having tasted a few samples, I picked Spiced Oat and Sultana Cookies, enough to make 18. The 560 gram pack costs €4.99. I’ll let you know how I get on!

Also met an “old" friend in Manning Emporium’s stand and left with some Jack McCarthy’s Black Pudding and also some Dunmanus cheese, made by one of West Cork’s leading artisans exclusively for Manning’s.

The Dunmanus was quickly pressed into service as part of an impromptu lunch in the back garden. The other ingredients were Janet’s Country Fayre Wine and Cheese Chutney (bought in Midleton’s Pantry) and the Arbutus Bread Company’s Brown loaf (bought early that morning in O’Keeffe’s Grocery Store in St Luke’s). Buy Irish, but local!

By the way, wasn't Declan Ryan of the Arbutus lucky not to be directly involved in that fatal boat accident in South America?

Back to Manning’s who have announced that they will hold the West Cork Food and Drink Fair on the 18th and 19th of June. If you are in the West Cork, even if you aren’t, that should be worth a visit. More details here 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

MAYO PUDDING HITS GOLD

French food group award gold medal to Kelly’s Butchers
Triumph for innovative black pudding shaped like a pint of stout

Kelly’s Butchers, Newport, Co. Mayo have just been awarded a gold medal from The Confrérie des Chevaliers du Goute-Boudin (The Black Pudding Fraternity of Lovers of Good Food). Kelly’s winning entry was a black pudding made in the shape of a pint of Irish stout. 

The Normandy based food group run a full scale black pudding (or boudin) festival each spring in Mortagne-au-Perche, France. Last September 23 members of the Fraternity came to Ireland and made Sean Kelly, Avril Allshire (Rosscarbery Foods) and Jack McCarthy (Kanturk) members of the Fraternity.

“I am genuinely thrilled with this gold medal for Kelly’s Black Pudding”, said Seán Kelly, the charismatic spokesman for the Kelly family, “I can’t wait to go over to the Boudin Noir Festival in France next week for the presentation and of course the Irish-themed gala dinner”.

During the visit of the Fraternity to Ireland last year Seamus Commons, award-winning Head Chef in Knockranny House Hotel, served them a show stopping Kelly’s Black Pudding themed menu. As a result of this, the French foodies decided on an Irish theme for this year’s festival and gala dinner. Chef Commons and his team are heading to France next week to produce the dinner for 350 using the best of Irish produce including Aberdeen Angus beef and Kelly’s Black Pudding of course. The support of Fáilte Ireland and Bord Bia has been invaluable in putting this together.

Kelly’s Butchers is an artisan butchers shop located in Newport, seven miles from Westport, Co. Mayo. Best known for black and white puddings and the traditional Putóg, the Kelly family have been instrumental in putting Mayo firmly on the foodie map. Kelly’s have earned a string of accolades for their puddings and sausages from Good Food Ireland, the Associated Craft Butchers of Ireland, the Great Taste Awards, Blás na hÉireann and Food & Wine Magazine. Kelly’s are proud members of Good Food Ireland and in the Bridgestone Good Food Guide.


Val de Vie’s Barista 2009 Pinotage

WINE OF THE BEAN: COFFEE IS A FRUIT

Val de Vie’s Barista 2009 Pinotage, South Africa, 14%, Bradley’s Off Licence, €12.99.
This is a great excuse to call to Bradley's, if you ever need one!
Colour is a dark red and the nose gives up dark red fruit, the bite of plum skins for me, and the famous "rush" of coffee. On the palate, you also find those dark red fruits, also pomegranate and cherry, and that coffee which, remember, is also a fruit.
The deliberately induced coffee (see video) element has led directly to this wine being labelled Barista. Despite that and the lingering dodgy past reputation of the Pinotage grape (“A love it or hate it” – Mr Oz Clarke’s summation), there is nothing to be afraid of here.
This is what Hugh Johnson terms Pinotage Mark 11 and the evolution means there is nothing preventing you from making a call to the iconic North Main Street store, founded in 1850. Where half the world goes anyhow. Massive selection of drinks, just about as many languages.
The coffee in this version by Val de Vie (not by any means the first of its kind) is far from being a dominant factor and there are tannins enough to give a well balanced and quite mature mouthful for a 2009.
In this video , you will see Val de Vie MD Bertus Fourie. His favourite accompaniment “remains a blue cheese-filled brandy snap, with Belgian chocolate and roasted coffee beans”. Didn't have anything that exotic on hand on the football-less Wednesday but there were some high class chocs. Tried them out. Neither the chocs nor the wine were improved by the combining but neither deteriorated either.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

INCREDIBLE VALUE

INCREDIBLE VALUE
Casa Solar Viura 2010 Vdt Castilla 11.50% €7.99 
This is an excellent white wine at an incredible price.
Colour: Strikingly bright; light honey.
Nose: Inviting fruity bouquet, including grapefruit.
Palate: They sum it up as alive and refreshing on the back label and I couldn’t agree more. Really fresh and fruity with a good slash of tartness.
This is an excellent combination in the mouth and further proof for Hugh Johnson’s theory that Spanish whites are very much on the up. “Spain,” he says, “is discovering that...she has a talent for whites of flavour and depth.”
“In five years time,” he concludes, “we’ll all be drinking them.” But thanks to the “talent spotters” of Wine Alliance we don't have to wait that long. This is now on the shelves nationwide at a very reasonable €7.99. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

FLESH FOR THE BODY, MUSIC FOR THE SOUL


An Cruibin’s FLESH on Sundays is fast becoming a weekly attraction for the initiated of Cork City. FLESH combines Paul and Frank’s fleshy menu with laid back sounds from The Roi Et Club, featuring Pre Khmer Rouge Garage, Western Classics and Siamese Soul.
Food served 6pm – 10pm every Sunday

Sunday, March 20, 2011

KILLARNEY BREAK

Killarney with Lake Hotel in foreground


KILLARNEY BREAK


The Killarney Royal Hotel was the base for a recent three night stay in the Kingdom. Centrally situated, this old four star is very comfortable with a fine bar and restaurant. The room was well furnished and very spacious and the staff were friendly all through. It doesn't have a car park but there are at least four close by including one on the Lewis Road where it will cost you just €3.00 for a 24 hour stay.


We had a couple of meals included in the deal and our first evening meal was in the bar/bistro of the Royal. Enjoyed my starter of Kerry Coast Fish Croquettes with leaves. The main course was excellent: Braised Lamb Shank served on a celeriac Mash with a rich onion and Port Wine Sauce. The choice of desserts was fairly standard. I was tempted by the Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble, augmented by some fresh fruit and cream, and it proved a fine finish to the substantial meal.

Wine was a 2009 14.5% Kleine Zalze Pinotage that cost €27.00. A smashing fruity red that went very well indeed with the main course. The following evening, we enjoyed another wine from the Kleine Zalze stable, this an excellent Chenin Blanc at €25.00.
Killarney Lake


The full restaurant was open for this meal on a busy St Patrick's Day and I started with the Deep Fried Crispy Duck Confit Spring Rolls with a seasonal salad and a sweet chilli sauce. Good light starter.


Main course was top class and somewhat lighter than the evening before, as you'd expect: Fennel Seed Seared Salmon on med style ratatouille with a basil pesto and seasonal vegetables.


The dessert, while pleasant enough, didn't really live up to the name: Orange and Cointreau Parfait with Strawberries and a strawberry coulis. Not too much sign of either orange or Cointreau.

Just to say, the seasonal veg served here were really good and that also proved to be the case when we met some friends for a meal out on the following evening. Chapter 40 was closed, due to re-open in April I think; we had been to Treyvaud’s and Gaby’s previously; we had suggestions for Bricín and the Stone Chat but neither could fit in four at the required time.
Path up Torc mountain


Weir Bridge nr Dinis Cottage
On our friends’ recommendations, we booked the Kayne’s Bistro in the Dromhall Hotel where we had enjoyed a light light lunch on one of the days and had spotted a Bridgestone sign on the door. I very much enjoyed my Sea Bass here served on potato mash and with stir fry vegetables.


Again dessert choice was fairly standard but I was happy enough with my apple tart and custard.


The wine was a Paula Sauvignon Blanc from Argentina (priced in the low 20s). Had I tasted blind, I’d have thought I was drinking a New Zealand SB. An excellent drink and good value as well.


We had the usual big choice for breakfast in the hotel and that usually set us up well for the day. But there was always time for a coffee and or a pastry. One of the places to do that in Killarney is the Lir Cafe. This busy little spot is best known for its hot chocolate which is poured in over a few mini-marshmallows. Very popular indeed. 


And no bad place either to pick up some tempting edible gifts as Lir sells a range of chocolates including their own creations.
To check out what we did and saw, click here