Friday, July 29, 2011


Cuinneog Ltd. (Balla, Co. Mayo), are celebrating after winning coveted gold stars for both Cuinneog Irish Farmhouse Country Butter and Cuinneog Buttermilk at the 2011 Great Taste Awards. This prestigious award scheme is run by the Guild of Fine Foods in the UK and a grand total of 7481 entries were received this year.

“Cuinneog Ltd. are really pleased with this result”, said Seamus Mulligan, Business Development Manager, Cuinneog, “We’ve received a Great Taste Award for our butter on three occasions before, but never for both our products. Cuinneog is the only buttermilk to achieve this award. It’s a real endorsement for Cuinneog and for genuine traditional Irish food”.

Bob Farrand, Chairman for The Great Taste Awards, said: “Winning Gold in the country’s largest and most respected independent food accreditation scheme is a massive pat on the back for any producer - independent proof their products are of the highest quality.

The Judges comments are made available to entrants and it was no surprise to Cuinneog that the flavour was specifically mentioned. “For the flavour” is the tagline used on Cuinneog butter and buttermilk and it’s good to know that the Judges at the Great Taste Awards agree with the sentiment.

Cuinneog can be found in all major retail groups including Tesco, Dunnes Stores, Superquinn/Musgraves, Supervalu, Costcutters and Euro Spar. Artisan shops throughout the country carry Cuinneog products. Both Cuinneog butter and buttermilk are widely used in the restaurant and catering trade.

The Great Taste Awards, organised by the Guild of Fine Food, are now in their 18th year and going from strength to strength. 7481 products were entered from 1600 companies for the 2011 Great Taste Awards. It took 350 experts 34 days to blind taste all the entries and decide which entries would achieve the coveted awards. The Great Taste Awards judging standards, devised by the Guild of Fine Food, are the most rigorous in the UK.

Costières de Nîmes - Home and Away

Mas de Bressades, Tradition Blanc, AOC Costières de Nîmes 2009, 13.5%, €13.00, Bubble Brothers, 4 stars.
Rhone-Setes Canal, south of Nimes
I was surprised by the quality of the whites from Costières de Nimes during last month’s visit to Provence. The Costières, for some time now officially a Rhone wine, is based in the area around Nimes, including the “wild” Camargue, in the Bouches de Rhone.
I spotted this on the Bubbles Brothers site  and was keen to compare it with one that survived the journey home. Must admit I had meant to pick up the 2010 version but, with all the chat, ended up with the 2009.  I needn't have worried.
Colour is a weak golden straw and the nose is intensely aromatic. On the palate it is fresh and fruity (grapefruit mainly for me), quite complex plus a pleasant flavoursome finish. A very acceptable wine indeed.

Camargue ponies near Gallician
But do watch out for the 2010 version which according to the Bubble Bros site is “as fresh and fruity as ever” and “an irresistible temptation to those who like the fuller, richer style of white that comes from Roussanne and Grenache blanc” It is 50% Roussanne and 30% Grenache.

Gallician Costières de Nîmes Prestige blanc 2010, 13%
Cave Pilote de Gallician recommends that their white wines be kept for no more than two years. No danger of my exceeding that as the sole remaining bottle from June’s French haul was enjoyed at Tuesday’s barbecue. 

Not exactly comparing like with like here as the grape mix is different to the one from Bubble Bros. It is 50% Grenache blanc, 30% Clairette and 20% Marsanne and the cost, at the Cave, was less than four euro.

Colour is pale yellow and the nose is moderately floral and, on the palate, it is fresh and smooth with a decent finish. Not bad at all but the honours in this little contest go to the Mas de Bressades.
To see more of my June trip to some of the Costieres de Nimes villages, click here

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Marco de Pegões 2009

Marco de Pegões 2009 Portugal, 13.5%, €8.99, stockists

Take a sip of this red blend from Portugal. I did and thought it good. Then I took a look at the price: €8.99. Incredible. Incredibly good value.

Colour is an attractive ruby with an attractive nose of berries. The acidity here is the first to shake hands with you as the tannins are not shy. But immediately there is a rich follow of fruit and the decent finish is along similar lines. Quite a wine for the price.

Castelao is a well known Portuguese grape and makes up 50 per cent of this wine. The other constituents are: Syrah / Cabernet Sauvignon/ Alicante Bouchet.

The boys of Wine Alliance have a nose for wines of value and they have certainly hit the jackpot here. I’m not the only one thinking along these lines. The Sunday Times online have it listed as a Star Buy  this summer

Stockists by County
1601 Off Licence, Kinsale Cork
Bradleys Off Licence, North Main Street Cork
JJ O Driscolls, Ballinlough, Cork
Barrys Off Licence, Midleton, Cork
The Beer Garden, Turners Cross, Cork
Mulcahys Off Licence, Charleville, Cork
Matsons Wine Store, Bandon, Cork
Monkstown Golf Club, Monkstown, Cork
Murphys Foodstore, Dromcummer, Cork
Electric, South Mall, Cork
Liberty Grill, Washington Street, Cork
Cafe Gusto, Washington Street, Cork

Wednesday, July 27, 2011



Much about the featured painter, Daniele Buisson, on the label but not so much about the wine from Tavel. It is Rosé, as that is all they produce in this southern Rhone village. 

The nose is slightly shy, yet aromatic. On the palate it is dry and the fruit, after a shy shakehands, begins to blossom and you find yourself sipping a smooth and flavoursome wine. Tavel wines are dry and tend to have more body and structure than most rosés.

Tavel promotes itself, not in a shy way, as the Best Rosé in France and it is certainly a contender. But there are many such contenders further south in Provence where virtually each wine village produces a very presentable rosé. I especially liked the one from Mas de la Dame.

On a recent visit to Tavel, I bought this Cuvee a la Peinteure. But they do have another ace up their sleeve and the helpful lady in the Vignerons de Tavel premises produced it, though not from under her sleeve! In my humble opinion, then and now, the Cuvee Royale was better and didn't cost a whole lot more. This may well be the best in France!

It is grown in a different part of Tavel on the smooth round stones also found in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and is located east of the town in the direction of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Irish stockists of Tavel, not necessarily my tastings, include Power and Smullen and O’Briens  

For more on my visit to Tavel, and the strange little animal I saw after lunch (and the tastings!), click here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Clonakilty Waterfront Festival 2011

Clonakilty Waterfront Festival 2011

Avril, of Rosscarbery Recipes (who make award winning black and white pudding) plus fabulous rashers and sausages), has been in touch to tell me that the Clonakilty Waterfront festival starts this coming Thursday. Music, craic and good food will feature strongly from Thursday right through to a monster Farmers Market on Sunday.

The festival kicks off on Thursday July 28th to the rousing sounds of the Roaring Forties; sure to have everyone on their feet, with Cafe Orchestra also providing further entertainment on the opening night, while guests are treated to every local delicacy imaginable in the signature opening event “Flavours of West Cork”, sponsored by Carbery. This spectacular event features suppliers and restaurateurs from around West Cork providing festival goers with the opportunity to taste their culinary delights before they enjoy Ireland’s premier Swing Band.

Avril says it was great last year: “I’ll be there again, alongside the Celtic Ross stand. It should be good again. All sorts of great food. Hope to see you all there.” And do call to the Rosscarbery stand. In addition to the top black and white pudding, you may also get a taste of their fabulous rashers and sausages, all from their free range pigs.

You’ll find all the festival details here.



Temperature controlled tasting machine
Didn't realise Bubble Brothers, who started off as Champagne importers in the 1990s, were so strong in Sicilian Wines until I made call to their Centrepark Road Headquarters last week. 

It turned out to be a very pleasant interlude indeed as I enjoyed the chat and the help in picking out a few whites.

I did some homework on my search on their website which, in fairness, is easy  to navigate. There are quite a few headings for searching wines (country, colour, grape and so on) and they also do some non-wine products such as beer and coffee.

As I said, I was on the prowl for white and, armed with one of these Living Social Deals (€15.00 bought me a 30 euro voucher), I called to the well laid out shop.  The first thing that caught my eye was their Taste before you Buy facility, made possible by their state of the art temperature controlled tasting machine where some 16 bottles can be open at any one time. Very impressive indeed.

My shortlist contained just three. I had seen the 2010 Picpoul de Pinet  (12.00) recommended. I wanted to see how their Costieres de Nimes 2010  (€13.00) compares with some of my recent bottles in Provence. They themselves highly recommend their 2010 Sicilian Montoni Catarrato  (€15.50) and that was my third choice. All three were in stock and I’ll be sampling them soon. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Another advantage of calling to Centrepark Road, aside from the tasting facility, is that you can buy by the case and, if you do, you get two bottles free. If you can’t get down the Marina, don't forget they have a stall in the English Market and, of course, you may also order online.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Local food, local lingo

Enjoyed a classy Cork on a Fork meal at the ever reliable Fenns Quay this week. This good value menu, even better now since the VAT reduction, includes mostly local food, such as spiced beef, and the menu card itself is “spiced “ up with some local lingo.

You are encouraged to have a starter by “Give it a lash boy” and a dessert by “Era, go on so”.

The food too is served with a smile and certainly put a smile on my face. Enjoyed my starter of Spiced beef and shredded beetroot. On the other side of the table, her regular Warm Chicken Salad lived up to expectations.

Mains for me was one of the evening’s specials: Baked Hake with herbed basmati rice, sautéed French beans, courgette with fennel and salsa rossa. A terrific combination, light and satisfying.

The other mains was Braised Irish Lamb Shank with Green Saffron Spiced Potatoes. The lamb was cooked to perfection and the spiced potatoes really added to the dish. As they say around here: “Savage Cabbage.”

We agreed on dessert: Lemon pudding served with Baldwin’s Ice-cream and a tiny jug of chocolate sauce. Presentation was inviting and the combination – that ice cream is gorgeous – went down a treat.

Wines were Pazos de Ulloa DO Ribeiro 2009 and Domaine d’Angayrac Costieres de Nimes 2008, each at €5.50 a glass.
Cork on a Fork: 2 courses €22.50; 3 courses €27.50.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Spanish wine tasting in Cork

This year FOOD&WINE Magazine in association with the Embassy of Spain Commercial Office will be taking the event to Cork.

Hope you can join us….

ü Imperial Hotel, Cork.

ü 15th September 5.30pm to 7.00pm

ü 150 Spanish wines, Plus nibbles

ü Only €20 per person

ü To book simply call Sarah on 01 2405387 or email

Click on image below to enlarge

The Smart Way to Locate your Business

The Smart  Way to Locate your Business  

I recently met with and old friend of mine Jim Nolan who introduced me  to to Loc8 Codes (Location codes) a brilliantly modern and easy way to locate properties and places in Ireland.

From talking with Jim  using the Loc8 codes appears to me to be the ideal way to  overcome the time wasting and frustration that people experience in trying to quickly find exactly where  the hotel, restaurant,sports pitch etc that they wish to travel to is located and to be guided to it.

Loc8 Code was founded by GPS Specialist  Gary Delaney who has spent many years researching, developing and finessing the code  to meet the exacting requirements of  modern needs and usage.

Launched on the 12 July 2010 , with Enterprise Ireland  and Garmin  Sat Nav support, Loc 8 codes are now widely used by commercial businesses, tourist, Local Goverment, Emergency Services ,sporting bodies and private users.

Having checked, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that many of you are already displaying and using Loc8 Codes on their web sites. Ummera Smoked Products Ltd in West Cork is one and here is a link for you to browse

Why use Loc8 Codes?
Loc8 Codes can be assigned for any location, not just

Another Little Beauty

Little Beauty Sauvignon Blanc Limited Edition 2009, New Zealand, 13.5%, €15.99, stockists

She may have a big nose but this tropical visitor is another Little Beauty.

Raised and finished in Marlborough by Eveline Fraser, formerly of famed Cloudy Bay, this Sauvignon Blanc takes her well deserved place in a distinguished family.

We recently met her sister, the irresistible Pinot Noir  and look forward to meeting the other siblings, especially Dry Riesling.

This 13.5% Sauvignon Blanc sports a complexion of pale gold and the vibrant sheen is enhanced by attractive aromas. On the palate, the fruit shines through, grapefruit and gooseberry for me. It is refreshing, dry and crisp with a long and satisfying finish.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Howling Gale, Shu Pu Erh and Country Loaf


Got a good nose for that those strange things the experts find when they sniff a sample of wine? No wine in Little Buddha’s in McCurtain Street but you could certainly give your sniffing "muscles" a workout in this treasure trove of teas and coffees from around the world.
Black tea

Called in there today, after a longish absence, on the lookout for some Pu-erh, the black Chinese tea. They had at least six on the packed table (must have been about 100 types altogether). 

Lifted the lids on the big jars and sniffed. Some were very flowery (you could see the petals  and stems) and in the end I settled for some Shu Pu Erh and some Pu Erh Pomegranate and Nettle.

The first is a four year old loose black tea, from the Menghai district in Yunnan province, the second is 79% tea to which have been added nettle leaves (7.2%) and pomegranate seeds (1.3%).

I let slip that I had been drinking branded varieties of Pu Erh. The lady was rather shocked. “Oh, those are very weak.”  She warned. “These are much stronger. For the morning, not for the evening.”

They also have a big selection of flavoured coffees and lots of accessories. If you can't get into town (to give those sniffers a test), then the next best thing to view the website.

North Main Street proved fruitful. Called into Michael in Bradley’s  for some Howling Gale made by the Eight Degree Brewery  in Mitchelstown.

Man does not live by beer alone so next stop was Daily Bread, just a few doors up, where I bought a lovely Country Loaf. The young lady behind the counter while plying me with a sample of their breads along with some tasty Spanish ham told me they had recently taken over the shop and would have some publicity material available shortly. I’ll let you know.

O’Brien Chop House are well known for their Curry Nights but there are some big differences on July  22nd as the event is being held in Ballyvolane House and is in aid of charity. Get the details here

Excellent red from Spain

Corona d’Aragon Garnacha / Cariñena, 2008,    Spain, ABV: 13.5%, €13.99 stockists 

I’d like to introduce you to this excellent red from Spain, the older cousin of the 2009 Garnacha you met here  a  few weeks back.

This is a dark red with black cherry and plum on the nose. Full of flavour and concentrated on the palate, supple and smooth. With 85% of the mix being Garnacha and having spent five months in French oak, it has the notes of spice that you’d expect and has quite a lengthy and satisfying finish.
The wine tasting room

Corona d’Aragon take their wine-making seriously.  “So that people know, once we leave this life, what we have bequeathed to the world.” This 14th century quote is on the back label.

Corona d’Aragon needn’t worry too much about their reputation if they keep turning out this kind of quality. Not that there will be much evidence of it in the future as it will all have been consumed!

My advice is to get your share now. Not alone is the wine right, so too is the price. Sourced from vineyards planted in 1950, the 2008 has picked up its share of awards: a Decanter bronze and an IWC bronze and has also been given 89 points by the Wine Advocate.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Gubbeen Chorizo, peas and rice. Let's cook!

West Cork Chorizo and Sage with Rice

Gubbeen's Chorizo is widely available.

I regularly get one at the Mahon Point Farmer's Market where Gubbeen have a stand. Their Chorizo is based on southern Spain’s famous spicy salami: Pimenton, chili, garlic, oregano, pepper. So you'd expect it to go well with Spanish rice. It does and here is the recipe. 

Fresh peas are beautiful just now. I know the recipe (from an old Reader's Digest Book) says frozen but if you have fresh then so much the better. Picked a bowl in the garden the other day and used them with the recipe and they were just terrific.

Friday, July 15, 2011



Have been promising myself, and one or two others, to visit Manning’s Food Emporium in Ballylickey for some time. Made it, finally, on a  sunny day this week and enjoyed the call which included a chat with Val, the man who started it all.

Val was in great form and gave us quite a laugh when he let loose as a delivery man as about to demolish one of his flower stands out the front. It didn't come to a collision and soon it was smiles as usual.

Manning’s Emporium  has been in the Manning family for over 70 years and has evolved in that time from post office and convenience store to what it is today: a gourmet shop renowned for its high quality local produce, fine wines and excellent service.

No doubt in Irish cities you’ll find some similar stores with bigger selections but remember that Mannings is in deepest West Cork in a country village on the coast road between Bantry and Glengarriff. That makes the selection here, mostly locally produced but also some stand-out items from aboard, quite remarkable indeed.

Just to give you a  flavour, here are some of the items that ended up in my basket: Molaga Honey €3.40, Tikka Masala Curry Sauce (UK) €4.05, Janet’s Country Fayre Beetroot Blush €4.00, Healthy Thirst Elderflower Sparkling Drink (UK) €3.25 for 75cl, Cooleeney Handmade Irish Cheese €3.75, The Apple Farm’s Sparkling Irish Apple Juice €4.45 for 50cl, Donegal Rapeseed Oil €5.95 for 50cl and El Comandante Chardonnay 2010 Argentina.

I’ve forgotten the price of the wine but you’ll see that the others are priced fairly, better value than in some of the city shops. Quite a lot of other local producers on display including Lorge Chocolates, Jack McCarthy (Kanturk), Gubbeen, Durrus and there is a rack of vegetables by the door and more.

Shopping done, it was time to take a table out-front and enjoy a cup of coffee and a cake. They have a selection of pastries to chose from, all served with a smile. Soon, we were ready to check out two other delights of the delightful area: the unusual Ewe Sculpture Garden  and Bantry House.  A cool bag in the boot came in handy and some of the drinks - the Elderflower  was gorgeous – were seen off during the afternoon of what turned out to be a great day in the west.

Thursday, July 14, 2011



TAYLOR’S CHIP DRY EXTRA DRY WHITE PORT, 20%, (Bradleys, North Main Street)

This is a rather rare, in these parts anyway, white port. But is has a 77 year history, having been first introduced, as a style, by Taylor’s in 1934. It is made in exactly the same way as regular Port but from white grapes.

Taylor’s claim that it is the original extra dry white aperitif port. Don’t let the many mentions of dry put you off – it has a crisp dry finish but it is some distance away from its Sherry counterparts in terms of jaw-locking! Indeed, it is quite fruity, both on the nose and on the palate, the mild mellow aromas coming from its aging in seasoned oak vats.

Even the white is a bit mis-leading, as the colour of mine was close to gold.

Really glad I took a chance on this one. Chilled it down well and used it as an aperitif with a small bowl of marinated olives from Provence. As you know, there is no shortage of olives in the English Market (and in some Farmers Markets) these days. Toasted almonds are also recommended as an accompaniment or just have it on its own.

The producers also promote it as a long drink, in a big glass with ice and tonic. Not too sure about that but different strokes for different folks!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Rice growing near Arles
Last Thursday wasn't the best of of days and the Mahon Point Farmers Market  had moved indoors (into the covered car park) to avoid the forecasted wind and rain. Still, I enjoyed the visit and called to some regulars (such as Woodside and Arbutus) and also met one or two new folks.

Back at the ranch, we put the purchases to good use. You’ll probably know that the mozzarella from Toonsbridge Dairy in Macroom was in the presentation made to the Queen on her recent visit to the city market.

But did you know they also make a Philadelphia type cheese with the same buffalo milk and it is called Buffadelphia . Picked up a packet at the Real Olive Company  stall in Mahon (they probably have it in the English Market also) and used it in a salad that included some beetroot from Lolo’s stall, where a three head bunch cost just €2.50. The salads came from the back garden and all in all it was very tasty.

At the market, I had bought some potatoes and vegetables from Ballycurraginny Farm and also from Ballintubber Farm but none of these was required for that night’s dinner.

The centrepiece here was Lamb Tagine from Flynn’s Kitchen. Iain Flynn’s stall isn't the biggest but he has quite an excellent range including soups, pates, jams and prepared dishes.

Brought some rice back from the recent visit to Provence and decided it to use it with the Tagine. Had visions of a nice photo as we added red and black rice to the white. But the colours all ran and so no photo as we spooned out the purple mix!

Still it tasted very well indeed and proved an excellent accompaniment to the Tagine which, as usual for Flynn’s Kitchen, was spot-on, the ingredients top class.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011



A good friend of mine recently sent me an urgent email: “Met this amazing girl last night.  
She has just started her own business teaching children how to grow food and plants. I believe strongly that this skill has not been passed on to children over the Celtic Tiger years.
You might consider giving her a mention in your food blog.”

That was how I first heard of Ailish Drake, the lady behind Sow and Grow which works with crèches, play-schools, after-school clubs and primary schools providing creative gardening and nature programmes for children. The kids at the crèche or school will be encouraged to explore and discover all about gardening.

Ailish told me that she started the business in April of this year. “I am currently doing a summer run of classes in crèches at Castleconnell, Newport and Murroe, but as crèches are quieter for the summer, I have a lot of interest for September. I will be running programmes in both schools and child care facilities in the autumn, including parent and child classes.”

“Currently I cover Limerick City and County, North Tipp and East Clare. However I am hoping to expand the business to Cork City and its environs in Spring 2012. I have started a blog on my website and I would love anyone from anywhere to follow it and my Facebook page, as I will have lots of tips for gardening with kids and projects to do at home.”

Ailish grew up on a dairy farm on the Cork Limerick border. Her background is in architecture and garden design. “Having spent many years out in the garden with my Dad as a child, I became passionate about gardening and growing my own. My little boy and my many nieces inspired me to bring my passion to kids in crèches and schools. They are never too young to get started growing their own too!”

“It is so important for kids to know about where food comes from and it also gives them the confidence to taste new things and eat simple veg like peas in the pod, they usually they turn their noses up at the frozen alternative. It doesn't have to take a huge amount of time or space; a few simple pots will grow a lot. I also do birthday party packages, which can be anything from individual pots for the kids, or planting a butterfly garden or wildlife window box.”

Sow and Grow provide training, consultancy and demonstrations for local groups, schools, allotment holders and individuals. “We also specialise in garden and landscape design. Also, check out our great birthday party ideas, and make that special day just a bit different!”

Thanks to Mairead O’Brien of Nash 19 who put me in touch with Ailish. I too believe that we, especially us city dwellers, have too quickly lost touch with much of what was good in our past, even though most of us are hardly a wet week off the land.

We can never really go back – times and places change – but through programmes like those set up by Ailish we can re-connect and appreciate what was good then and that will help us and our kids and grandchildren appreciate what is good now and into the future.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Corned Beef and Cabbage. As a starter! Yes and it proved a really tasty beginning to an excellent weekend meal at Blairs Inn.

What a menu they have there. If you combine the pages from the bar and restaurant menus, I reckon you could be eating there for a year and still have combinations to explore.

And then there are the drinks. There is an excellent wine list, for sure. But also lots of local (and international) drinks including craft beers from Dungarvan, Carlow, Eight Degrees (North Cork) and the new cider sensation Stonewell by the Nohoval Brewing Company.

After a big welcome and a chat with Richard we sat down in the cosy restaurant – they also have a lovely garden dining area – to go through the menus.

My starter was a Warm Tian of O’Crualaoi’s Corned Beef and Cabbage with a creamy Parsley dressing (€7.70). If you get out there, you should really try this. The beef, supplied by the well known Ballincollig butcher, was spot-on as was everything else in this well presented cylinder shaped offering of good local food.

Then on to the main course: Pan fried fillets of Sea Bass on a Chorizo mash with a sundried tomato and rocket dressing and a side plate filled with vegetables and another with gratin potato, both done to perfection. Again, another excellent plateful.

And a big plateful. Indeed, both starter and mains were quite substantial, so much so that I had to forego the dessert.

They helpfully suggest, on the menu, various drinks with each course; the tips for me were a wheat beer with the starter and a dry cider with the fish. I was in the mood for wine and settled on a bottle of their highly recommended an excellent Hopler Gruner Veltliner (Burgenland, Austria) 2009 (€26.95).

You get a great welcome here and also help and advice. Quite a few tourists make their way here and they must be impressed with the local knowledge that the owners and staff so freely dispense.

Lovely food, lovely place and lovely people. A return visit is on the cards. And not just for me.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Stonewell Medium Dry Irish Craft Cider, 5.5%, €3.99 for the 500 ml bottle.

During many trips to France over the years, a regular pleasure has been sampling their cider with a lunchtime salad. Now, at last, we have a local craft cider here and it is encouraging to see some Cork restaurants already adding it to their drinks list. Perhaps a smaller bottle size (maybe 250ml) might be more suitable for lunchtime!

Made from local fruit by the Nohoval Brewing Company, this is quite a refreshing drink. That fruit sure comes through well but there is enough acidity, just about, for the cider to merit its Medium Dry tag. It is close to being perfectly balanced.

It is early days yet in their admirable Nohoval venture and, already Daniel, the Master Cider Maker, has a product to be proud of. Good cutting in it, as they say. Now, all we need to go with it is a summer’s day!

Must say though that this cider doesn’t really need the sunshine to illustrate its quality which is orchards ahead of some of the bland insipid watery stuff being imported.

Loads of info on the label, including that one of the three Apple varieties used is Michelin, but if you haven’t brought your reading glasses, don't worry: you’ll know the country of origin by the eye catching Celtic design on the front.

Stonewell. Another good reason to buy local, buy Irish. I got mine in Bradley’s (North Main Street) and you can see the full list of stockists here.

PS: My first bottle was chilled down fast in the freezer while the second was treated to a more leisurely and less extreme cooling in the fridge. The second tasted better. Wonder what the recommended serving temperature is?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

BEAUMES DE VENISE - Stronger and Sweeter


Having completed a long promised trip to the top of Mont Ventoux, the white mountain of Provence (and of the Tour de France), we found that the temperature (which had been 6 degrees at the top) was a very pleasant 26 in the valley.

By the time we got to Malaucene at the foot of the 1912 metre high mountain, we were ready for more. On the map, I spotted a road linking us with Beaumes. It turned out to be a beautiful country road through the vineyards and passed close to the mountains called the Dentelles (lace).

It was mid-afternoon when we reached Beaumes and the cafes were busy in the otherwise sleepy village. Could perhaps have sought out the Cooperative but, in the heat,  settled for the convenient shop of Domaine des Richard  in the centre of the hamlet where a lady, with two year’s English, took great care of us.

Her tasting samples were generous to say the least and we left well stocked with the famous fortified (15%) sweet wine called Beaumes de Venise and also the producer’s own Plan de Dieu, a lovely red.

Opened a bottle in the sunny garden last Sunday at lunchtime and the promise from those generous tastings was fulfilled. Well worth a try and, while making a call this week to Bradley’s in North Main Street for that new Stonewell Cider, I spotted that they had some of the Beaumes on the shelves, though not the exact bottle that I am enjoying – still have some left!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Hospitality & Dining 

In Clonakilty we take great pride in the quality and exceptional standard of food provided by our numerous restaurants, cafes and bars. Whereas fine dining used to come at a price to match, you're now guaranteed to find great food at affordable prices when dining out in Clonakilty. And to complete a great night out, we have some of the finest traditional and live music venues in Ireland.....

Eating out is just one facet of a visit to Clonakilty. Find out more here


We are delighted to be hosting a charity 'Beer & Curry Feast' in the vintage tent in the gardens at Ballyvolane House on Friday, 22 July 2011. All proceeds will go towards the Malawi Orphan Appeal Fund and we are expecting over 100 people to attend.

For more details and all the other summer news from Ballyvolane House, please click here



Had heard only good things about Kilkenny’s Highbank Orchards Syrup which was launched in 2010. Spotted the bottle in Iago in the English Market recently and snapped it up. The price is close to 10 euro and looks high for 200ml but the organic product has a long shelf life and is very versatile.

"Ireland's answer to maple syrup", this sweet and delicious, pouring, organic syrup, is the first of its kind. Grown and produced by Highbank Orchards in Kilkenny, Ireland. With years of research, Highbank launched the Orchard Syrup in 2010 at Savour Kilkenny.

There was a little leaflet hanging from the neck with quite a few suggestions. Drizzle it on your porridge was one. I tried that but didn't find it very successful. More joy though when I added some to cheese.

Uses suggested on the site are: Drizzle on porridge and muesli, pour on ice cream, pancakes and desserts, glaze your ham, sausages or vegetables, flavour your stews, oat cakes and breads. As a hot healthy drink or in whiskey. Drizzle on cheese (particularly blue cheese), on paté and game terrines. Delicious on bananas as well as poured on Waldorf Salads!

Tipperary’s Cooleeney was the cheese in question. Met them at their stand at the recent Cork TasteFest and, for three of those controversial Corkers, I got a small round of their Dunbarra Farmhouse Brie (this with garlic). 

Cooleeney make quite a range as you can see on their site. They often suggest a matching wine and Pinot Noir was their choice here. Just happened to have one and yes that New Zealand Marlborough Little Beauty and Cooleeney got on well together. But perhaps the best match was between the Tipp cheese and the Apple Syrup from neighbouring Kilkenny.