Tuesday, November 29, 2011



Dominique Geary is a wine person I’ve nearly met, on a few occasions. We came quite close in Beziers this summer but no connection materialised. Still, the welcome tweets go on and her latest is a tip off about some Languedoc wines that will go on sale, indeed on offer, in Dunnes Stores from tomorrow (30th November) until 3rd January.

“To entertain a crowd or simply to bring some cheer to those gloomy evenings,” Dominique suggests you “try the Nord Sud new vintages”.

Nord Sud Viognier 2010, Nord Sud Syrah 2009 at €8.99 or two for €14 (usually €10.99)

Night in Languedoc
And for those special festive meals? Cazal Viel based Laurent Miguel’s Grandes Cuvées are also on very special offer for the same period:

Bardou St Chinian 2007, Vérité Viognier 2008, Saga Pegot Faugères 2007 all at €12.99 (usually € 17.99)

Tasting notes and food suggestions:

Nord Sud Viognier 2010: the fresh versatility of this wine makes it a perfect choice for an aperitif or for large parties, it is perfect on its own and will also complement well any seafood canapés: try spreading smoked salmon rillettes on mini ciabatta or blinis, to make rillettes just blitz smoked salmon with crème fraîche and fresh dill or horseradish to taste!

Nord Sud Syrah 2009: cherry fruit flavours mingle with pepper and spices making this wine the ideal foil for beef. For an easy canapé with wow effect try thin slices of rare beef with a dash of crème fraîche seasoned with Moutarde de Dijon in a mini choux pastry …

Bardou, St Chinian 2007: is a Syrah based wine that shows has great intensity but displays surprising fresh fruit and minerality…A beautiful selection for traditional Christmas dinner

Vérité Viognier 2008: Vérité has become Laurent’s signature wine. The 2008 vintage displays the characteristics of the Viognier grape with fruit and floral aromas, fermented in oak barrels it has a luscious finish. Pair with traditional roast turkey or goose, or also as a perfect foil for a festive cheese selection.

Saga Pago, Faugères, 2007: a dark intense wine, dominated by robust, characterful fruit and a hint of mocha, like Bardou it will be best suited to richer meat dishes, daubes and game roasts. Why not be adventurous and try incorporating chocolate in the sauce!

CONGRATS KAMIL, 2011 Euro-toques winner

Second year running for Knockranny House Hotel
Kamil Dubanik, from Knockranny House Hotel, is Crowned Winner of
2011 Euro-toques Young Chef of the Year

The best parties are celebrated in the kitchen. Young chef Kamil Dubanik, from Knockranny House Hotel in Co. Mayo, celebrates becoming the 21st Euro-toques Young Chef of the Year, in association with BIM & Failte Ireland. 

This is an exceptional win for Knockranny House Hotel as last year’s winner also came from the hotel (Mary Ryan was the 2010 Euro-toques Young Chef winner). Chefs mentored by Knockranny House Hotel Head Chef Seamus Commons (right in picture, with Kamil) have reached the competition final for three years running.  Toques off to Kamil Dubanik (23), who was crowned the winner on Monday 28 November at a gourmet tasting lunch prepared by the competition finalists in The Merrion Hotel Dublin.

This is the ultimate acoloade that Kamil and fellow finalists have been contesting for over the last 6 weeks.  Kamil’s journey to this culinary award is remarkable. Originally from Poland, he has been in the kitchen only three year; starting out as kitchen porter Knockranny House Hotel in Westport, Co. Mayo and workings his way up to his current position of Demi-Chef de Partie. He recently completed an Advanced Certificate in Professional Cookery at GMIT.

His recipe for the culinary skills test was Roast Troncon of Achill Island Turbot, Dublin Bay Prawn Tortellini, Jerusalem Artichoke, Mushroom, Cheek, Liver, Dublin Bay Prawn, Lovage.  Cooking has allowed Kamil express his passion for a diversity of ingredients and demonstrate his creativity.  His interpretation of the competition brief and his understanding of ingredients was evident in the dish he delivered to the judging panel. Judges felt he was an eager, hungry chef who showed intelligence in his approach and an extremely high level of skill considering his mere 3 years in the kitchen. A talent to be watched.

Kamil is motivated by sometimes taking the least obvious approach to cooking.  For example in his culinary skills test, he used the fish cheeks and liver in his recipe which achieved different flavours and textures in his dish, that stood out to the judges.  Kamil appreciates and respects great Irish ingredients and pushes his own culinary instinct to use all elements where possible.  This creative thinking is also parallel to Eurotoques values of “nose to tail” cooking.

Kamil’s chef hero is the infamous Ferran Adrià and while the world’s is now his oyster, Kamil remains true to his second home of Ireland and would like to progress his career working with the best talent in the country.  Kamil  is mentored by Knockranny House Hotel Euro-toques Head Chef Seamus Commons (formerly Head Chef at Dublin’s Michelin star L’Ecrivain restaurant).

The top prize for the 2011 Euro-toques Young Chef of the Year is the opportunity of an all-expenses paid stage at The Ivy, London's favourite restaurant, under Executive Chef Gary Lee. Plus a one week stage at the award winning Michelin star Chapter One restaurant in Dublin under the tutelage of Euro-toques head chef Ross Lewis.

The ultimate challenge in the Euro-toques Young Chef competition was the culinary skills test which took place in Chapter One Dublin on Sunday 27 November.  Speaking on behalf of the judging panel, Ross Lewis commented on the high standard of skill and creativity from the finalists this year.  “There was a very high standard reflecting local and original cuisine that was thoughtful, clever and well crafted.  It was very hard to choose a clear winner today and they should be all extremely proud of themselves.”

Kamil Dubanik competed for this honour along with his fellow finalists - Aisling Gallagher (24) from Ballynahinch Castle, Galway; Kyle Greer (24) from No 27 Talbot Street Belfast; Micheal Harley (22) from Rathmullan House, Co. Donegal; David Magaeen (24) from Restaurant Victoria Belfast and Margaret Roche (23) from The Cellar at The Merrion Hotel Dublin.

Each of the six finalists in this years competition final showcased their culinary expertise by each cooking a course for the presentation lunch in The Merrion Hotel.  Each course was carefully paired with the appropriate wine for the dish, supplied by Findlater Wine & Spirit Group.

Among the overall prizes, each of the finalists will win a unique food experience with BIM and Failte Ireland. BIM will host a one day practical on-site introduction to the complex world of the seafood industry, visiting a seafood facility and discussing how fish is caught or harvested, bought, and sold, and what this all means to a chef. Including meetings with key industry personnel, processors and industry chef.  Failte Ireland will host a Food Tourism road trip - an educational 4 day food focused road trip taking in ‘hands-on’ cooking time  in top professional kitchens, visits to artisan food producers;  tastings, demos, unique meal experiences  and overnight stays with exemplary Irish food and hospitality operators.

The Euro-toques Young Chef competition emphasises training and development, with the role of the mentor being central to the process.  This years sponsors are BIM and Failte Ireland and their involvement reflects their recognition of the importance of chefs in building Ireland’s national and international food reputation, the pivotal role that ‘local food’ plays in this and, above all, their commitment to education and development in this sector.  This year’s competition is also supported suppliers La Rousse Foods, Findlater Wine & Spirit Group and Bragard, and Industry partners The Merrion Hotel Dublin, The Ivy London and Chapter One Restaurant.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Miss Ireland, Holly Carpenter

Barry’s Tea has created a limited edition Santa’s Tea box which is for sale exclusively on barrysteashop.ie for tea fans at home and abroad. The box is still only €3.25 which is a winner for stocking fillers and sending to family and friends across the world.

The Online Tea Shop, which hosts a range of Barry’s Tea blends, from the flagship Gold Blend and the varied Speciality range, to bespoke Barry’s Tea merchandise has been a huge hit with Irish abroad. For Christmas 2011, Barry’s Tea is introducing a special edition Santa’s Tea box for Barry’s fans at home and abroad.

The store was designed to meet the needs of Barry’s Tea fans abroad who otherwise have no access to their favourite tea brand. Barry’s Tea fans in the UK are the biggest users of Barry’s Tea online store followed closely by USA, Australia and, in fourth place, Germany.

Camille O’Flanagan from Barry’s Tea said “So many Irish abroad are delighted that Barry’s Tea have created an Online Tea Shop where they can purchase their favourite blend. It’s a fantastic feeling to be able to send our blends direct from our home in Cork to anywhere in the world.”

Note: An Post recommend posting all parcels and packages before December 6th for deliveries to arrive in time for Christmas in all countries outside of Europe.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Amuse Bouche

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

Saturday, November 26, 2011



A short notice from Fáilte Ireland to meet Foodspotting.com  aces Amy Cao (New York) and Chris Connolly (San Francisco) turned into a long and leisurely tour of the outstanding Farmgate menu, our guide none other than owner Kay Harte, recently named Good Food Ireland’s Ambassador of the Year for her tireless promotion of local food.

Amy  is Head of Community at Foodspotting, a worldwide visual guide to good food and where to find it. Photos are important here and that is where Chris comes in. Aside from being an expert with the lens he is also a designer.

Kay sat down with us and ordered samples of everything on the menu and told us all about each part of the dish as she shared it out. I don't think the Americans had ever seen any restaurant owner as informative and as passionate about food and where it came from.

The tour was delivered with a calm passion that amazed the visitors and was illustrated in the best possible way: with examples from virtually every single dish on the current menu at the English market institution. Didn’t have enough room on one table so we had to move to get space.

Some of the simple things took the interest of the visitors, including the starting plate of breads. And then there were the “balls of flour”. Kate illustrated that with a bowl of Golden Wonders, skins intact, and cut one in half to show just what she meant by the phrase. The potatoes come from her regular supplier in Ballymacoda in East Cork.

Oysters were on offer and they were ordered from the O’Connell’s fish stall downstairs, the regular practice here. The oysters originally come from the appropriately named Oysterhaven near Kinsale. And there was also her marvelous fish pie, cod on this occasion. This looked so delicious that even Chris, not a lover of fish, was tempted.

All the time emhasising the place of food in the Irish way of life and , at one point, making reference to the Irish language book, the Diary of Humphrey O’Sullivan (Cín Lae Amhlaoibh), which details the rich and varied diet of an ordinary Irish household in the first half of the 19th century, Kay emphasised the importance of local provenance. Not just Cork, by the way: if the best cheese in Ireland comes from Donegal, then she will get it from Donegal.

Farmgate classics on the table included Old Millbank Smoked Organic Salmon, Spiced Beef, Irish Lamb Stew, Corned Beef, Lamb’s Liver and Bacon and, of course, Tripe, Onions and Drisheen (with those local jacket potatoes).

Time flew by and I got a bit worried towards the end when I spotted my two hour parking had long since run out but luckily I wasn't clamped or anything like that. In any event the two bloggers were also anxious to head off to the Cliff House in Ardmore and very sorry that they wouldn't get to Ballymaloe.

What an enjoyable afternoon. Oh, forgot to mention the drinks. Both were craft beers. From Mitchelstown’s Eight Degrees Brewing: Chris took the Howling Gale Ale while I choose the Knockmealdown Porter.

To read more about the Foodspotters trip...

Friday, November 25, 2011



From Vineyards Direct brought a very impressive collection, curated by Stuart Smith, to the Crawford Art Gallery last evening, some minor and major masterpieces among the 30 or so wines up for tasting.

Missed some familiar faces in the crowd: there were two other wine events on in the city, one even in the Crawford Café up the hallway. But nice to see ex garda and author Jim Ryan (on escort duty), Ollie from Glanmire's Cream Café and Miriam from the Cork and Bottle Wine Club.

Some punters were very happy with the Torrebrava Manzanilla but I went for the Brut 1415 Moingeon Blanc de Blanc (€12.95) as my aperitif. This south of France sparkler was top notch and a great way to start a Christmas party.

There were at least two gems among the whites including Domaine de la Motte, Chablis Premier Cru Beauroy 2007 (17.95), a beautiful fresh minerally example of Chardonnay.

Perhaps the best of the New World offerings, of both colours, was the Stanley Estate Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2011 (€15.95), confirming to me once again that this area and neighboring Nelson are the places to go for reliable SB.

Those two whites would fit into the Christmas schedule without any problem as would two good value reds. For quality and value it would be hard to beat the Chateau Bauduc Bordeaux Rouge 2008 (€11.95) and, for two euro extra, the rich and spicy Mas Belle Eaux, les Coteaux, Languedoc 2008.

And for the special occasion, which Christmas is, you might consider splashing out on a top Bordeaux, the luscious and intense Chateau La Commanderie de Mazeyres, Pomerol 2001 (€31.95).

While in you are in the mood, why not try a sweet ending. Maybe not Yquem but Haut Charmes, Sauternes 2009, a good example of the famous dessert wine. A full bottle will cost you €35.95 while a half will set you back €18.95.

Maybe you don’t like them as sweet as that. There was a good alternative there last night, well balanced and warming: Churchills Reserve Port (€17.95).

A very satisfactory tour among the sculptures and drink for thought. For more info on the wines and to order contact From Vineyards Direct here

Thursday, November 24, 2011



Congrats to Waterford’s Jeni Pim, the winner of the first head to head in the Chef du Jour competition organized by the energetic Kate Lawlor, the Head Chef at Fenn’s Quay, one of Cork’s favourite restaurants.

Jeni got the nod ahead of Clare resident Paul Callaghan. But both were winners, brave and accomplished amateurs entering the professionals' den and each holding the nerves to come up with an excellent evening meal, each of four courses. Quite a daunting prospect but the two came through with flying colours in Fenn’s Quay.

Click on image to enlarge. Clockwise - From top left, Jeni and Kate, Dessert duo, dessert trio. Paul, Cranberry shot, petits fours, Coq au Vin

Amuse Bouche

Paul: Cherry Tomato with Ardsallagh goats cheese, basil pesto and a sea salt cracker.

Jeni: Sweet Potato salad with a cranberry shot.

A pretty even start but I think Paul’s was that bit more inventive and I gave him the thumbs up here.


Paul: Mussels (Oysterhaven) cooked with bacon and Stonewell cider.

Jeni: Venison Sausage with onion marmalade and crostini.

Nothing wrong with the mussels but the more adventuresome Jeni went ahead here and the venison proved very popular.

Main Course

Paul: Rosscarbery pork belly with potato and horseradish puree, braised red cabbage with a mulled red wine jus.

Jeni: Coq au Vin with celeriac mas, rosemary jelly warm spinach and mushroom salad.

This was of course the major round and a major point gatherer for Jeni with her unusual version of the French classic and a terrific salad. The pork belly was less well received, people not happy with an excess of fat. The excellent braised red cabbage, which really balanced the dish, arrived somewhat late at the table.


Paul: A trio of desserts - White chocolate cheese cake, mixed berry crumble and meringue tower of strawberries and vanilla cream.

Jeni: Dessert duo of Green tea parfait with plums and oatmeal shortcakes with warm

Well, it was sweet heaven each night. This was really a strong point for Paul but Jeni kept very much in touch with her offering and indeed scored again with her tempting selection of petits fours that came with the tea and coffee.


The evening was also enhanced by a very nice aperitif from Fenns Quay and by some excellent wines (White Ventenac Chenin Colombard 2010, Red: Domaine d'Angayrac Costières de Nimes 2009: Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre) from River Wines.

And there were loads of valuable spots, provided by the restaurant itself, Michael Wall, River Wines and Margaret Smith

Judges over the two nights included Elke O’Mahony*, Evin O’Keeffe, Michael Logan and Margaret Smith. Paul was awarded 3.5 stars for his menu while Jeni was showered with 4.5. Well done to both.

*Read Elke’s review of the first night here

Wednesday, November 23, 2011



Two thousand and seven was of of the best years in the Portuguese wine region called the Douro, a region best known for making Port. Indeed, quite a few of the varietals used in the making of this 2007, the vineyard’s top red, are used in Port.

In all, some 15 native varieties, from old vineyards, are blended in this red and the fruit is foot trodden in stone fermenters. “The old vines….constitute an enormous asset that Quinta do Judeu  will maintain and share.”

The wine is unfiltered and should be decanted. From my experience, I’m not sure that this is entirely necessary but you could do it as a precaution. This 2007 is the vineyard’s top red and has spent 10 months maturing in French oak and one year in the bottle.

Colour is a very dark red with inviting dark fruits on the nose, nothing spiky! The concentrated fruity feel in the palate is rounded and well balanced, the tannins still at work; it is somewhat smoother and more sophisticated than the 2008 (which the winery calls the younger brother!).

With a bottle of this under your arm, you’d be welcome at any party. My advice though would be to bring the very presentable younger brother and keep this gem for a romantic evening chez toi.

More about the wine, including the technical details, here.


Local Food Company Wins Major Bord Bia Award

~ Green Saffron win at Bord Bia’s Food and Drink Industry Awards ~

Tuesday 22nd November 2011 Arun Kapil (right) of Green Saffron, the spice company based in Midleton, Co. Cork, has won the Entrepreneurial Award at Bord Bia’s Food and Drink Industry Awards 2011, taking place in Trinity College Dublin tonight. In 2007, Arun Kapil set up Green Saffron, a company which specialises in premium, farm-fresh whole spices and blends for use in home and professional kitchens.

Eight Irish companies in all were honoured at the Bord Bia awards ceremony, which attracted over 220 senior representatives from the food and drink industry. The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD presented the awards. Speaking at the event, Michael Carey, Chairman, Bord Bia said “in spite of all the challenges we face – it is also probably the most exciting time ever to be in our industry. The increase in exports would be impressive at any time but against the backdrop of global economic uncertainty and our own domestic difficulties it is truly remarkableEqually remarkable are the achievements of the award winners, who have demonstrated success in areas critical to future growth, from innovation and branding to sustainability and entrepreneurship.”

The Food and Drink Industry Awards, held in association with Rabobank, were open to all food and drink products manufactured in Ireland. This year, Bord Bia received a total of 184 award entries across the six categories. The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD presented the overall category award winners which included: (See Notes to Editor for profiles)

·         Innovation Award  – Natasha’s Living Food for Kale Crunchies, a healthy crisp alternative made from dried locally grown kale

·         Sustainability Award – Country Crest, a family owned business, situated in north County Dublin. As part of its environment philosophy, Country Crest includes a wind turbine, water recycling, and a wildlife pond. The company aims to be energy self-sufficient by 2015.

·         Branding Award – Largo Foods for Tayto, Ireland’s Number 1 crisp and snack brand and Ireland’s 5th largest grocery brand (Nielsen). Over 3 million bags of Tayto are sold in Ireland each week.

·         Entrepreneurial Award – Arun Kapil, Managing Director, Green Saffron.

·         Export Award – Jameson Over one billion glasses of Jameson are consumed around the world each year. Jameson is a global brand with a presence in over 120 markets.

·         Domestic Success Award – Flahavan’s Flahavan’s, one of Ireland’s leading private companies, has been milling quality Irish oats for over six generations.

Kerrygold and Cashel Blue were also honoured with a Special Award in recognition of their co-branding, ‘co-opetition’ initiative in the US market. The Irish Dairy Board, owners of the Kerrygold brand, has recently joined forces with Cashel Blue in a new co-branding and distribution agreement to build brand awareness and market share in the US. Speaking at the event Aidan Cotter, Chief Executive, Bord Bia commented “this is an excellent example of co-opetition as a business strategy and how a large multinational exporter can collaborate with a niche player to develop a mutually beneficial brand offering. Kerrygold has added an artisan product to its portfolio while Cashel Blue is leveraging an established international brand with global distribution channels. It’s a win-win situation and we look forward to working with more companies on this exciting new model to develop our exports further.” Bord Bia is actively supporting the principle of co-opetition, where food companies work together to create synergies resulting in cost savings, improved returns and/or increased market distribution.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Christmas gift (in March!)
Hint. Hint. For the wine lover's lover.
Give the gift that lasts.
Wine weekend: starts €495.

(Also, below: Faustino 1 gift set €99
and Pandora Bell hampers form €29.99)

2nd – 4th March 2012
Mary Dowey’s Weekend Wine Course has become a firm fixture on the spring calendar at Ballymaloe House, Co Cork twice yearly for the past 11 years. Guests come from far and wide to learn the essentials of wine appreciation while enjoying superb food, great wines and good company in one of Ireland’s loveliest country houses.
Mary’s Introduction to Wine Appreciation  is suitable for anybody who enjoys wine and would like to know more about it. The course focuses on key grape varieties. Besides quickly mastering the characteristics of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir, guests will learn how to recognise quality, buy wisely, serve and store wines correctly and match them with the most suitable foods.  ‘The wine-tasting weekend was fantastic and we will highly recommend it to our friends.’  Emma-Jane Dockery, Dublin 
Listed among the Top 10 Wine Courses in the UK & Ireland by the Daily Telegraph, and Lonely Planet Top 10 Weekend Breaks. Ballymaloe House is also recipient of the Georgina Campbell Wine Award of the Year 2010.
Mary Dowey (www.marydowey.com) has built up a large following through her enthusiastic and refreshingly unstuffy approach. She is wine editor of The Gloss magazine and a contributor to the internationally acclaimed wine magazine Decanter, having been wine correspondent of The Irish Times 1995-2005. She has visited most of the world’s major wine-producing regions and is the author of several books including Food and Wine – Matching Made Simple and 101 Great Wines Under €12.

Wine Weekend Format

Friday evening:  welcome aperitif, dinner with specially chosen wines and brief talk
Saturday: wine course all day (9.30am – 4.30pm) with lunch, afternoon tea and a six-course wine-tasting dinner in the evening
Sunday morning: champagne and sparkling wine workshop (10am -12.30pm) 

Wine Weekend Packages  (course open to both residents and non-residents)
€495pp standard room; €595pp superior room, all inclusive of the following:
2 nights bed & breakfast; with Friday dinner and wine talk; Saturday all-day wine course with lunch, afternoon tea and gala dinner; Sunday morning champagne workshop. It is also open of to non-residents - and the price for that is €295 per person, which includes everything as already listed, except of course, bed & breakfast.

Gift vouchers available: the ideal birthday or Christmas gift for a wine-lover.  

Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, Co. Cork. Tel: 00 353 (0)21 4652531
E-mail: res@ballymaloe.ie  Website and online booking: www.ballymaloe.ie

Faustino 1 - 3 bottle wood giftNow, if he or she is not worth the €500, don't worry. If you spend 99 euro, you can get a gift that can be shared on the spot and you don't have to wait until March. I'm talking about the Faustino 1, Gran Reserva 3 bottle wood gift set.  This  Spanish icon, which was first released in 1964, is one of the greatest traditionally styled Gran Reservas. Thirty months in French and American oak and at least three years in the bottle results in a wonderful combination of complexity and harmony. This wine is the perfect accompaniment for all your festive meals. Serve with stewed meat, roasts, sautéed seasonal vegetables, chicken confit, pork cooked in the wine or mushrooms. The box is available in independent outlets for €99.99.

No wine drinker in the house? Not to worry. Why not try Limerick's Pandora Bell. Nicole has a range of luxurious hampers, featuring her fantastic nougat creations and more, with prices from €30 to 50. Check them out here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Start freezing now..

Your freezer makes it easier

Start freezing now to skip the stress later! Make it easy on yourself in the busy weeks to come with our freezer friendly suppers, or get a head start by freezing some party nibbles.

What are your get−ahead recipes?

Top freezer friendly fare

Sunday, November 20, 2011



This one is going straight into my list of favourites of 2011. It has quite a dark red colour and the tempting nose is full of red and black fruits and hints of spice. It is warm and fruity in the mouth, no shortage of spice and the tannins are still at work.

While you will no doubt get smoother, this is quite an accomplished wine, one you could bring anywhere though perhaps you may prefer to keep it at home for your red meat dishes. Excellent wine at a very good price.

It is a blend of five Portuguese grapes: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Amarela and Tinta Barroca. It has been aged for 8 months in French oak. It is not filtered and they advice you to decant. I did decant but it was hardly necessary though I would say it is important to have it in the room for a few hours before serving.

You may check out other technical details and more about the vineyard here.

Saturday, November 19, 2011



Click on image to enlarge
All the buzz in Fenns Quay is about the Chef du Jour joust next Tuesday and Wednesday but regulars have to be fed in the meantime and I must say there is no slacking in that regard. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit last night where the Fish of the Day special was a highlight of a very satisfying meal.

There are usually plenty of choices in Fenns Quay, including a very attractive Cork on a Fork menu. Both it and the A La Carte are supplemented by a bunch of daily specials.

The Bream was their Market Fish of the Day Special and you can see why were tempted. Quite a plateful, topped by fillets of very fresh fish. And all the extra bits and pieces made for a very tasty and very well balanced dish, also very filling.

Well perhaps the “filling up” feeling also had something to do with the starter, a rather large one. Again, we picked from the specials and Seared Scallops, done to a “T”, and the ever so tasty Rosscarbery White Pudding were an excellent match, enhanced by the parsnip purée.

After all that, we did manage one dessert between us and that was their house specialty: V’Ice-cream (a pichet of  Pedro Ximenez sherry with vanilla ice cream). Just the job, as it sweetly slid down!

New Zealand’s Marlborough has a strong reputation for producing high quality Sauvignon Blanc and our fruity and full of flavor Fair Hall Cliffs 2010, at €6.95 a glass, didn’t damage that reputation in any way.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Top restaurants announced at
The Dubliner 100 Best Restaurants 2012 in association with Santa Rita

Santa Rita People’s Choice Award goes to
Pichet while Derry Clarke scoops the
Santa Rita Chef’s Chef of the Year Award

Pichet has been announced as the winner of the Santa Rita People’s Choice Award at the launch of The Dubliner 100 Best Restaurants 2012 in association with Santa Rita, the must-have annual guide to the best eating out destinations in Dublin.

The Santa Rita People’s Choice Award ten most popular restaurants in Dublin, as voted by the public, are as follows:

  1. Pichet
  2. The Exchequer
  3. Junior’s
  4. Chapter One
  5. Eatery 120
  6. Dillinger’s
  7. Jo Burger
  8. Dax
  9. Saba
  10. The Trocadero

Each year, chefs and restaurateurs nominate the Dublin chef they most admire and this year’s Santa Rita Chef’s Chef Award goes to Derry Clarke of L’Ecrivain. Honourable mentions included:

·         Ross Lewis, Chapter One
·         Kevin Thornton, Thornton's
·         Padraic Hayden, Camden Kitchen
·         Dylan McGrath, Rustic Stone

The Dubliner 100 Best restaurants, in association with Santa Rita, which is now in its 10th year of publication, features a host of dining options across the capital, including fine dining, casual eateries, family friendly venues, local favourites and hidden gems.

Copies of the 2012 guide to the 100 Best Restaurants are on
sale in bookshops across the country.

100BestCover (2)

Sallyanne Cooney, General Manager of Gleeson’s incorporating Gilbey’s, which distributes Santa Rita wine in Ireland, says:

Santa Rita, the leading Chilean wine in Ireland, is delighted to be associated once again with The Dubliner 100 Best Restaurants guide for the tenth year running. The ‘Santa Rita People’s Choice Award’ continues to be the most sought after accolade for Dublin restaurants, as it is voted for by the public – the toughest critics of all! We’d like to offer our heartfelt congratulations to Pichet, Derry Clarke and indeed the 100 Best Restaurants in Dublin for 2012

Thursday, November 17, 2011



Fenns Quay  head chef Kate Lawlor is a busy girl these days. Not alone is she organising the day to day menus for the popular city centre restaurant and, of course the Christmas menus, but she is also running an innovative competition where a guest chef takes over the Fenns Quay kitchens for a night.

This is an unusual event and should be great fun for foodies. Places are limited and the number to ring to reserve is 021 4279527.

Paul Callaghan is the first to enter the stage. Paul is from County Clare and, briefly, this is his story: Ran my own Plastering business but have had to adapt to change, Irish food blogger, veg grower, trying sustainable living and loving it! You can find out more about him and his cooking skills on his blog at http://www.thesustainablelarder.com/

Paul will be on next Tuesday (22nd) and the following night the spotlight will be on Waterford’s Jeni Pim who is looking forward to the night: “Yes, a big change from my little kitchen in the middle of nowhere, at least I won't have to dig all the veg for it!.” You’ll find her on Twitter at JeniPim.

Kate has been looking for judges for the event and yours truly has been roped in. On the opening night, I’ll be with Elke O’Mahony of Cork Slow Food and Evin O’Keeffe . On Wednesday, I’ll be joined by Margaret Smith  and by Michael Logan of River Wines.

Kate Lawlor (right) is determined that the foodie fun won’t stop there. “We are planning a second head to head between two different chefs in January with a final pencilled in for April. And already there has been some interest in those!”

A good start is half the battle so get on down to the Sheares Street venue next week (22nd and 23rd) and have yourself a great night out which, including the wines, will cost €50.00.

Sturdy Douro white...parade ground not catwalk...


I generally prefer wines made from old vines and this sturdy white from the Douro is no exception. It is a mix of native varieties: Malvasia Fino and Rabigato. Quinta do Judeu aim for high quality wines, using traditional methods including treading the grapes in granite tanks.
Colour of this full and complex wine is yellow with hints of green and it has aromas of white fruit, including peach. The initial impressions in the mouth are, for me: fresh, fruity, dry.
This is parade ground not catwalk, brawny not scrawny. It is a gripping engagement from the start and it remains strong to the end. No fade away here to a skinny citron pressé. It is also built to last, with a recommended drink-by date of 2015.
It has a pretty high ABV for a white but it is nonetheless a well balanced wine. More than a match for the turkey and ham!
The white is imported by Wine Alliance and you may check all the technical details, and more, here.

Very old vine at Quinta do Judeu

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


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

Hemingway, describing a visit to Miro’s summer home near Barcelona.


FromVineyardsDirect.ie Christmas parties & tastings in Dublin and Cork

Dublin Christmas Tasting & Party
17th November 2011  
Royal Irish Automobile Club,
32 Dawson Street,Dublin 2

Cork Christmas Party & Tasting

24th November 2011
Crawford Art Gallery
Emmet Place, Cork

There is still plenty of time to attend and to tempt you here is the list of wines that will be tasted:
1.    1415 Brut, Crémant De Bourgogne €12.95
2.    La Chapelle Blanc 2009, Cotes de Gascogne| SW France €8.95
3.    Torrebrava Manzanilla Sherry, Bodegas Orleans Borbon €9.95
4.    Château Bauduc Blanc 2009 | Bordeaux €10.50
5.    Stanley Estates Sauv. Blanc, Awatere Valley 2011 | Marlborough €15.95
6.    Soave Classico Pra 2010 | Veneto €12.95
7.    St Véran ‘Merloix’ 2009, Pierre Janny| Burgundy €13.95
8.    Mercurey 2005 , Pierre Olivier | Burgundy €15.95
9.    Chablis 1er Cru ‘Beauroy’, Dom De la Motte 2008| Burgundy €17.95
10. Meursault
11. Primitivo 2004, casa Catelli | €9.95
12. Cotes Du Rhône Villages ’Les Trois Soeurs’, Dom Des Grands Bois 2010 €10.95
13. Altos De Oliva Gran Reserva 2004 | Catalunya  €9.95
14. Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2009, Mark Haisma | Burgundy €17.95
15. Barbera D’Alba’Granera Alta’, Cascina Chicco 2009 | Piedmont €12.95
16. Crozes Hermitage ‘Nouvelere’ 2007, Jaboulet | Rhône €22.50
17. Ronan 2009 | Bordeaux €13.95
18. Virginie-Thunevin 2006 | Bordeaux Supérieur €14.50
19. Pauillac 2006, Pauillac | Bordeaux €23.95
20. Commanderie de Mazeyres 2001, Pomerol | Bordeaux €32.95
21. Château Haut-Charmes, 2009, Sauternes | Bordeaux €34.95
22. Churchill Graham, 10YO Tawny Port | Portugal €24.95
23. Churchill Graham Reserve Port | Portugal €18.95

If you would like to attend any of these tastings please call or email Gareth on gareth@fromvineyardsdirect.ie / 01 845 7645

Tuesday, November 15, 2011



Joined the Robert Roberts Connoisseur Coffee Club at the start of the year and have enjoyed the experience so far. A new pack arrives every month and the cost, paid upfront, works out at about four euro a pack.

A high standard was set by the first one in January, a medium strong Brazilian Bruzzi and the packs that followed, which came from all over the coffee producing world, maintained the high standard.

Next came the unusual Monsoon Malabar  from India followed by the more delicate Sigri A  from Papua New Guinea.

April saw the arrival of the Columbian Paraiso followed by a purple patch as far as I was concerned starting with the Malawi Mzuzu AAA.

The June edition featured another African, a good strong Organic Yirgacheffe from Ethiopia, and then followed two more of my favourites: Organic Peruvian Cecovesa and August’s Finca La Bastilla from Nicaragua. Just finished the September pack of Guatemala’s Los Volcanes, again good and strong.

That means an opening later on today of the October pack which comes from Kenya and is named the AA Mweiga Estate. Gareth Scully, the Master Blender at Roberts , is very happy with this very aromatic full bodied cup and he hasn’t let us down yet! Looking forward to that!

Monday, November 14, 2011


The folks at Quinta do Judeu claim that this wine, named after a local river, is perfect to match everyday meals. I reckon they are right. Get a couple of these and you’d be ready for most red wine occasions.
Made my first acquaintance with this red over the weekend and must say I am impressed. Quite a lengthy introduction as the grapes used are not that familiar to me. They are: Tourigo National 10%, Tourigo Franca 20, Tinto Roriz 35 and Tinto Barroca 35.
The colour is dark red and there are red fruits, and spice, on the nose. On the palate, you again come across the fruits and the spice (a comfortable level) and a lovely warming medium weight mouthfeel. The tannins have smoothed the way here, all the way to an excellent finish. Good value too.

Must say I like this stuff, generous from start to the finish when the last drops tumble down from the commodious hollow stem of the standard Riedel receptacle. Not just a happy ending. More a happy story.
The Corgo da Regua is imported by Wine Alliance and you may check all the technical details, and more, here.


Getting better with age

Christmas cake 
Your Christmas cake and pudding are best made this month, for time to age that leads to an incomparable flavour come Christmas!

Email us your Christmas tips

Recipes and tips