Monday, December 31, 2012

Chapel Steps top of the 2012 posts

Chapel Steps top of the 2012 posts
Home smoked duck at the Chapel Steps.
Popular chef Kevin O'Regan figured in no less than three of the top six blog posts this year....

In May, Electric chef Kevin O'Regan was dishing out gorgeous slices of freshly cut Iberico (top left pic), the top ham of Spain, perhaps of the world at the Murphy's Food Event in South Main Street. And then he took to the stage and delivered a delightful demonstration of how best to cook the humble pig’s trotter, perhaps better known as the crubeen.

In July, he was busy on the Electric stand at the Cork Food Fest in the Mardyke. By November, Kevin had made the big move to the newly upgraded Chapel Steps in Bandon. It was a miserable November evening when I walked it but the place was busy, a great ambience and great food on the table. The account of that meal went on to accumulate over two thousand hits and was my most popular post of 2012.
Bluegrass in Cobh

1 - Chapel Steps (November)

2 - Sun Shines on Cork Food Fest (July)

3 - Velvet Blue and American How-downers light up Cobh (July)

4 - New Cafe at Toons Bridge Dairy (September)

5 - Family Fun Day at Tramore Park (August)

6 - Electric go the Whole Hog (May) 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Château Lynch-Bages at Ballymaloe

Château Lynch-Bages at Ballymaloe

Jean-Charles Cazes, of  Château Lynch-Bages, Pauillac, Bordeaux, is coming to Ballymaloe, Sunday 10th March 2013

Colm McCan of Ballymaloe has been in touch with great news for local wine lovers.

"Château Lynch-Bages, needs no introduction in Ireland – one of the best known, respected, collected and followed, of the ‘Irish Wine Geese’ Château of Bordeaux. We are delighted to be welcoming Jean Charles to Ballymaloe – and as part of The Gathering 2013, there will also be a series of other wine events, which are being planned for Cork City and County, throughout the year, with ‘Irish Wine Geese’ winemakers from all over the wine world, ‘flying home’.

Born in Bordeaux, Jean-Charles Cazes grew up in Pauillac in the heart of the family vineyards at Château Lynch Bages, and since 2006, taking over from his father, Jean-Michel Cazes, he has been in charge of all the family vineyards, in France and abroad.

Join Jean Charles at Ballymaloe, for one, or both, of the following events – a wine tasting & presentation in the Grain Store at Ballymaloe, followed by a wine dinner, with the wines of Château Lynch Bages and The Cazes Family Collection wines"

Wine tasting & presentation, by Jean Charles Cazes, at The Grain Store, Ballymaloe, 6.30pm, Sunday 10th March €18

Followed by a wine dinner, with Jean Charles Cazes, in the Yeats Room dining room, at Ballymaloe House 8.30pm €95

Special rates available for accommodation.

Advance booking advised.

Ballymaloe House,
Co. Cork,

Tel:             00 353 (0)21 4652531    


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Lunch in Bandon

Christmas Lunch at Chapel Steps in Bandon

Bandon (clockwise from top left): Hake, tempting window in butcher's shop,
aubergine and roast pepper parcels, warm salad of Butternut squash, Pavlova,
Chicken liver pate, swollen river, URRU, and
delicious warm chocolate cake

Enjoyed a terrific Christmas lunch at the very busy Chapel Steps in Bandon yesterday. Very good value too at €20.00 for four courses with good choices. Well worth checking out in the few days left in the run-in to Christmas. Took a stroll around the town too and did a little shopping in the marvelous URRU shop and also at Matson's Wine Store, another busy spot.

Food and Drink Spotting

Food and Drink Spotting
Taste of the Week
Always a bit suspicious when I see the blurbs on American products. “While the weather outside is frightful, Ben & Jerry’s Winter Berry Brownie tastes delightful” was spotted on   Ben & Jerry’s latest ice cream creation. “With fluffy fudge brownies and scrumptious raspberry-blackberry swirls that melt into Fairtrade vanilla ice cream. Flavour fans can cosy up on the couch while they sleigh their way through the indulgent flavours.”   Must say though that the ice-cream, especially the Brownie bits, hits the spot. Very enjoyable indeed, delightful even.
Burns Night Returns to West Cork

In an event to brighten up the winter days after Christmas and New Year, the spirit of Rabbie Burns kindles a flame in Skibbereen!

Following the success of the first West Cork Burns Supper in 2012, the West Cork Hotel and West Cork Food will host the event again on 25 January, 2013.  Last year the supper was completely sold out and guests enjoyed a seven course meal which married West Cork produce into a traditional Scottish meal including, of course, ‘a wee dram.’

The 2013 event will work on the same basis with the addition of a Scottish Ceilidh duo, which will perform and guide novice Scottish dancers in the famous Ceilidh dances, hopefully with the support of the attending Scots guests!

Not only did last year’s event celebrate Scotland and Robert Burns, it celebrated West Cork produce with a West Cork/Scottish fusion theme!  For details of next year’s Burns Supper please bookmark: and Bookings are already being taken by the Hotel at €40 per head and around one third of the tickets have sold in the first couple of weeks.

 Midleton Farmers Market
“Our Christmas market on Sat. 22nd Dec will be the last one of the year. So come early to do your last Market shopping before Christmas. There is a great buzz around the market especially for the children as they count the number of sleeps left for Santa to come. The music has been fantastic with several different carol singing groups singing over the last few weeks and this Saturday will be something special. Come along and enjoy the festivities. The Market returns Saturday 12th Jan.2013. Thank you all for your support throughout the year.”
Midleton Farmers Market opening hours:
Sat. Dec. 22nd 9am. - 1 pm.
Sat. Jan. 12th 9am - 1 pm.
The Market will be closed for 2 weeks for Christmas.

Fermoy Indoor Market
“There are still some tables available for the last of our 10 Fermoy Indoor Markets, Sunday the 23rdDecember. Due to public demand we are running a Baby Fair along with our regular market. If you have a few hours to spare and fancy a break why not do a clear out of all no longer used toys, books, baby/ kids clothes & accessories.It will be a fun day, kettle will be on, Xmas carols will be playing & you'll be making some extra money for the Holidays. Tempted- call me on 0863231010.”

Douglas Farmers Market
“We've been offered another location for the market next Saturday the 22nd of December. We will be holding a small market on the east plaza of the Douglas Village Shopping Centre (outside M&S) from 10-3. The stalls attending this market are Mealagulla Orchard Apples, Joys flame grilled goodness, Badger & Dodo coffee, the organic BBQ, Ned McCarthy Dairy, the Baking Emporium, Hamammi Kebab, Roly’s Fudge, Nibbles Emporium, Margaret Scannel veg, Healthy You Seaweeds and Barry's Nursery. The rest of our stallholders will be at Mahon Point from 10-2 on the same day.”

“We're sorry to have had to split up the market, but unfortunately it's our only option this year. We'll all be back as normal in Douglas Court on Saturday 12th January. Happy Christmas and sorry for the inconvenience.”

More Markets
English Market
Eoin O'Mahony ‏@guilderdbutcher has tweeted the English Market opening hours for Christmas #Cork

Fermoy Indoor Market
BABY FAIR – “In conjunction with Fermoy Indoor Market. Sunday the 23rd of December we will be running a Baby Fair for all new & pre-loved baby & toddler related items. A €15- charge will apply which includes the use of a 6ft table. Time is from 11am-4pm (set up at 10am). To reserve your spot or for more detail call Louise on 086-3231010.”

Cahir Farmers Market
Cornelius Traas ‏@theapplefarmer tells me that Cahir Farmers Market is open today 4-8 pm for a Christmas special, and also Saturday 9-1.

Tipp Green Business ‏@tpgbn have been in touch to say that the Christmas Market at St. Joseph's CBS, Nenagh, will be held on 23 Dec-proceeds go to Children's Hospital Crumlin & North Tipperary Hospice.

Breakthrough Cancer Research
If you are in Cork City and in need of a quick cup of coffee why not call to the Breakthrough Cancer Research Pop-Up Market. Here you’ll be greeted by Eoghan O'Sullivan and while sipping your cuppa you can browse and maybe pick up a gift for someone. Maybe something for yourself. Eoghan: “Our pop up shop for 12 days of Christmas is open in Cornmarket Shopping Centre Cork (under KT Maxx) until 1pm on the 24th. Please visit.”

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Food Fight: Derry Clarke v Clodagh McKenna!

Two Celebrity Chefs will fight it out
 on RTE1

Food Fight Sees Derry Clarke and Clodagh McKenna ‘fight’ it Out in Two Gorey Restaurants

Food Fight takes the ever popular food/restaurant format and adds a competitive edge to the proceedings, by pitting two celebrity chefs against one another.

 A one-off special, where two well-known chefs, Derry Clarke and Clodagh McKenna, are given the task of designing the ultimate Christmas themed restaurant.  They are transported to a small Irish town location where two similarly sized eating establishments have agreed to allow them to take over for four days.

With Food Fight, viewers will watch Derry Clarke and Clodagh McKenna go to Gorey, where they will each take over a restaurant.  Each Chef will have just TWO days to revamp their restaurant, meet their staff, devise and cook menus which will ultimately win over the locals when they open for business ready or not, and over the next two nights try to win over the locals.  The locals will judge both of the newly run establishments with their wallets, as the diners will compare and criticize both venues etc and leave comment cards telling the chefs what they really thought of their night out.

Derry and Clodagh’s task to create the ultimate Christmas eating experience.  Working to the same budget they must revamp, and restyle their establishment, as well as design a menu, source and cook the food for the two nights they are open. Each Chef must train their staff and bring both the kitchen staff and the front of house staff up to speed on their ways.  Finally, they must each advertise their restaurant to get to ensure they get full houses and maximum profits.

The Chef with the most profits will be crowned victor with profits from both restaurants going to SVP, Gorey. Food Fight is produced by Another Avenue and will air Thursday 27th  December, 6.30pm on RTE 1. Read more here

Rico’s new Italian restaurant in Cork City Centre

Rico’s new Italian restaurant opens in Cork City Centre

This weekend Rico Valleballa launched his new Italian Restaurant ‘Rico’s’ in The Mardyke Entertainment Complex, Sheares Street, Cork! People queued for over an hour before doors opened at 5.30pm last Sunday when Rico himself welcomed the guests and showcased his new Italian menu.

Guests were very impressed with the new eatery, the delicious food and friendly atmosphere: “Outstanding food at great prices” ...“The Italian’s really know good food”...“A great place for all the family”.

Rico’s menu shows he takes great pride in carrying on the tradition of recipes handed down from his grandmother to his Mother and to the Vallebella Peccerillo family. The family love a celebration and any occasion is the cause for a long meal and a noisy gathering over favourite plates like gnocchetti sardi, ditali piselli or calamari e patate.

Riccardo began trading at Farmers Markets with signature dishes Parmigano and ‘arranchini’ filled rice balls, and within a few years had opened The Castle Bar and Trattoria at Blackrock Castle and Baile Bella, a pizzeria at Blackrock Village.

Riccardo Vallebella’s new Italian venture in Cork is Rico’s at the Mardyke Entertainment Complex and assures you’ll find a familiar mix of fresh fast real food at good prices. Family favourite pasta and pizza dishes will feature along with daily specials from Mama’s recipe book. Start with antipasta and finish with ammazza caffé (to kill the coffee) and eat like the Italians!

Adjoining Rico’s is the new Mardyke Ping Pong bar, the first of its kind in Ireland. So you can enjoy delicious Italian food followed by a few drinks and some Ping Pong – Now there’s a night with a difference!

English brought Riccardo Vallebella to Ireland from Rome in 1996 but the Irish kept him here once the young Italian broke free of Dublin’s Little Italy.

It took coming to Cork for the Jazz in 1999 for Rico to learn the English language and the ways of the Irish and it was to a backdrop of a lively Cork scene that this took place. Rico started working in Cork’s social hot spots at the time including the Bodega, Rumplestiltskins and the Yumi Yuki Club at Triskel. His ease with the customer and skill behind a service counter soon brought him to management attention but it was his love for the kitchen that raised the bar.

Rico and his late brother Maurizio (who followed his trail from Rome to Cork) had grown up with a natural affinity to food and cooking that was second nature.

The family home was the hub for the Vallebella Peccerillo clan and Amalia their mother the centre of this clatter her four sons enjoyed. Rico’s father Antonello comes from Porto Torres, Sardinia, and Amalia from Casserta, Naples, and the Roman kitchen became the expression of these food cultures. Sunday lunch for thirty plus is a regular occurrence there and the travelling sons brought this knowledge of food and function to Cork where it was widely welcomed.

It made sense then that this familiarity with food would translate into business and Riccardo and Maurizio opened Buon Appetitto followed by Casanova at Triskel Arts Centre in 2001.

The style was ‘agriturismo’ where a short set menu described the season’s dishes and staples like bruschetta and antipasta plates allowed the seasonal toppings like aubergine, artichoke or baby roma tomatoes to feature on the toasted pane casareccio bread or board.

The main courses of ‘Primi’ (usually a pasta, polenta or rice dish) and ‘Secundi’ (featuring the daily special of meat, fish or vegetable) followed this tradition of allowing the harvest food to take centre stage.

€10,000 Christmas gift at Examiner Coffee Morning

Ten thousand euro donation highlight of
Irish Examiner Christmas Coffee Morning
Clockwise from top left: Catriona Anderson, Michelle Darmody (Examiner),
Darina Allen, UCC singers, dancing shoes!,  Irish Examiner editor
Tim Vaughan, cheque in hand, announces €10000 donation.

Irish Examiner editor Tim Vaughan admitted he wasn’t too happy with his public speaking role at the start of yesterday's festive coffee morning at the paper’s HQ. But he had no bother in rushing back to centre stage halfway through to announce that he had just been handed a €10,000 donation for St Vincent de Paul.

That really was the icing on the cake (forgive the pun) on a very enjoyable morning. And yes there was no shortage of cake. The reception area had been magically transformed into a “cafe” by Mary Terry and her crew and we were all enjoying a drink and a cake as the UCC Choir got the morning, arranged in aid of St Vincent de Paul, off on the right note.

The Examiner’s Michelle Darmody and Darina Allen were the cake experts to speak and they freely gave some terrific advice on Christmas cooking in general and on cakes in particular. Darina also sounded a serious note, reminding us to think of the charities after Christmas as well.

The main event though was the announcement of the Irish Examiner Christmas Cake competition. Finally, the tension was broken for the 12 finalists when Cobh's Catriona Anderson was named as the overall winner.

So well done to Catriona and to the other brave contestants, to the Examiner staff who put on a great show (and organised many prizes for the raffle) and to that anonymous donor! Happy Christmas everyone.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Yellow Pearl & an Irish Vineyard

Wohlmuth Gelber Muskateller Steinriegel (Austria) 2011, 12.5%, €14.72 Karwig Wines

Yellow is the colour of my true love’s hair
In the morning when we rise..

Yellow (Gelber) is also the colour of this gorgeous aromatic Austria wine, the grapes for which are hard won from very steep slopes (up to 78%). The soil is a red slate in this vineyard which has been referred to, for centuries, as the best in Styria. The Muskateller is an ancient variety and the fruit is harvested very late and is handpicked.

It is more light gold than yellow and you’ll see hints of green. The aromas are quite fragrant. It has a gorgeous mouthfeel, no shortage of fruit. Indeed it is excellent from the intro to the long dry finish. Quite a gem by one of the area’s top producers and highly recommended.

The Irish Vineyard – No Kidding!
Many of you, especially the Cork contingent, will be familiar with the Blarney Blonde, an ale by the Franciscan Well. But how many of you about the Blarney Red, the Blarney White, the Kilkenny Red and the Kilkenny White not to mention Pog mo Thoin.

Not beers but wines and they are produced in California by Irish Vineyards Could hardly believe it when I stumbled on the site. Apparently it, the vineyard, was set up by the Murphy boys in 1849. Nowadays it is owned by Russell and Joan Irish and you’ll find them in Vallecito, California!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Santa's Tea Winners

Barry's Tea Winners
The winners in our recent Santa's Tea competition are:

1 Donal Riordan  Ballyvolane Cork City.
2 Sean Browne, Mallow,Co. Cork
3 Ian Healy, Ballincollig Co Cork
4 James Casey,  Rylane, Co.Cork
5 Seamus Ring, Blarney  Cork
6  Sean Hegarty Blackrock, Cork.
7 Martin Conlon,  Blarney Street, Cork
8 Ann Bevan,  Commons Road, Cork.
9 Adrian O’Flynn Bandon Co Cork
10 Kathleen O'Driscoll, Knocknaheeny , Cork City
11 Cian o Mahony , Millstreet, Co Cork
12 Brian Murphy,Valentia Island Co. Kerry
13 Carol Harpur  Glounthaune Co Cork
14 Timmy Kelleher The Glen, Cork City
15 Will Knott Dublin 8
16 James O’Donoghue Cobh County Cork
17 Neil O Sullivan Rathcooney Road Co Cork
19 Stephen Barr Ovens Co Cork
20 Denise Purcell   Newbridge Co Kildare
21 Robert o Sullivan  Donoughmore  Co Cork
22 Gwen Hollingsworth St Stephens Green Dublin 2
23 Dermot O' Sullivan Ballygarvan, Co. Cork
24 Michael Crowley  Douglas, Co. Cork
25 Jonathan Tighe South Douglas Road, Cork

Roz comes up with a top mince pie!

Roz comes up with a top mince pie!

The Irish Examiner's Roz Crowley complied her list of top mince pies about ten days ago and there were no less than three joint winners: Diva Ballinspittle, Heaven’s Cakes and Noreen’s Home Produce. Each scored nine out of ten.

Roz herself though has come up with a terrific Mince Pie and I reckon it would give any of the winners a run. Ace Examiner photographer Dan Linehan caught it all on video and you can see it here, along with the details of the competition winners.

I retweeted the video and soon Roz issued a challenge to me to make them! Well, it took a while but, with a with a little (considerable!) help from the Chef de Cuisine here, the job was done. And the mix of puff pastry, mince and feta cheese proved irresistible. A great taste with the feta adding a nice piquancy to the overall experience.

So why don't you take up the Crowley challenge?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Amuse Bouche

Isabel Allende on eating testicles in her book Aphrodite: “Women don’t eat them. Men do, but it gives them the shivers when they relate what’s on the plate with their own anatomy. …  In Asia, they prefer monkey testicles, in America, the bull’s, in other parts of the world, those of sheep and rams. In the United States, animal testes are called Rocky Mountain Oysters. Chopped and cooked, they don’t look like what they are, but even so, don’t give it away until your guests are through gorging on them.”

Friday, December 14, 2012

Meet The Producers At Midleton Farmers Market

Meet The Producers At Midleton Farmers Market

Midleton is the original farmers market and is still well worth a visit every Saturday. Perhaps even more so now with Christmas on the horizon as festival extras are on tempting display.

No shortage of music and fun last Saturday as I made a fairly quick visit that started with a cheery mulled wine from the Green Saffron stall and finished with a relaxing high quality coffee in Sage Restaurant, just a few yards from the busy market.

There was an amazing amount of tempting smoked delicacies on the Frank Hederman stand. Lots of mackerel here with different flavourings and I picked the piri-piri and the chive. Spotted a very good deal in apple juice with the Little Irish Apple Company selling five big bottles for a tenner. Heavy going but worth it!

Jane Hegarty was on duty as always at her Ardsallagh cheese stall. The hard goat cheese caught my eye and I bought a chunk of the mature one. She also had goat cheddar and cow cheddar for sale.

Noreen Conroy, looking forward to the Christmas break, was busy at the Woodside Farm stall while husband Martin was on duty in Douglas. The Woodside hams are flying these days though, on this occasion, we settled for a chat and their tasty sausages and rashers.

The question of dinner had been settled in favour of a Green Saffron meal deal and here we got a pot of Chicken Korma, top notch basmati rice and naan bread for just €8.50. We were already well stocked with bread so gave Arbutus a skip on this occasion and the same applied to a few others. Besides, the three bags were fairly full and weighing me down. Time for that coffee and the short trip back to the city!

List of stalls here

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Santa's Tea is coming...

Santa's Tea is coming...

Listen up folks! Thanks to Barry's Tea, we've a big bunch of boxes of Santa's Tea as a gift for you! But you gotta be quick - closing date is Sunday next at noon. Send me an email  here with the words Yes Please Santa in the subject line. Don't forget your name and address! (RoI addresses only).

Barry’s Tea has created a very festive limited edition Santa’s Tea box which is for sale exclusively on for tea fans at home and abroad. The box retails at €3.49 and is the perfect stocking filler for young and old.

The Barry’s Online Tea Shop also hosts the full Barry’s Tea range and a plethora of tea gifts for the entire family. The Online Shop was created to help the needs of tea fans living abroad who may not have access to their favourite tea brand. Tea fans should take note that the final postage date for sending a box of Santa’s Tea to a loved one within Ireland is December 19th.

Food and Drink Spotting

Food and Drink Spotting

The Irish Examiner Christmas Coffee Morning in aid of St Vincent de Paul will take place on Tuesday, December 18 at 10.30am. Roisin Quain tells me the coffee morning, in the Irish Examiner offices, also marks the culmination of their Christmas Cake Recipe Competition. “Our 12 finalists will be in attendance and Darina Allen will be announcing the winner. Darina will also be taking culinary questions from the floor.”

“Michelle Darmody will also be there to share her baking tips in time for Christmas. We will also have some really fantastic raffle prizes to give away, members of the UCC choir singing carols, cakes, mince pies and Christmas cheer. Tickets are €5, and are available from our reception and over the telephone on 021 4802209/021 4802208.”

Cooking for Cork Penny Dinners
Staff of Neville Jewellers are all set to cook and serve Christmas Dinner at Penny Dinners. Almost 150 Christmas dinners will be served at Cork Penny Dinners by the staff and management of Neville Jewellers on Sunday 16th December.

A family run business since 1971, John Neville and his team will swap the tools of their trade for kitchen utensils and aprons, and have a fabulous traditional turkey and ham Christmas dinner planned for diners of 4 Little Hanover Street in Cork.

“Thankfully Christmas is a busy time for retailers in Cork”, said John Neville, managing director at Neville Jewellers.  “Our stores in the shopping centres in Wilton and Blackpool as well as Winthrop Street have been busy, but we really wanted to give something back to those less fortunate during the holiday season”.

The team at Neville Jewellers are looking forward to cooking and chatting with the diners and hope to bring some Christmas cheer to a wonderful charity that continues to provide food and support to so many of Cork’s people in need.  Donation boxes for Cork Penny Dinners are also in store at Neville Jewellers should shoppers wish to make a contribution to this Cork charity.

Theatre of Food Back on Parade
Theatre of Food pop up at Cork Christmas Market
Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th December
Theatre of Food is ‘popping up’ at Cork Christmas Market this year to bring some top tips for festive fare your way.  Popping up at weekends throughout the market run, the Theatre of Food with Bosch kitchen will host fantastic participants

Saturday 15th December
10am The Beauty of Brussels Sprouts
Caitlin Ruth of Deasy’s Harbour Bar & Restaurant in Clonakilty, who, alongside Bridget Healy will be celebrating their love of, and the glory and beauty of the humble Brussels Sprout – with recipes from the traditional, to crostini toppings and coleslaw, it promises to be a good one!

Shannen Keane, owner/operator of Diva Boutique Bakery and Cafe an award-winning bakery located in the heart of Ballinspittle, will be treating you to 3 types of cookies, Russian teacakes, Linzer cookies and Linzer cookies with a twist, as well as making 2 - 3 quick and easy cocktails for entertaining   Recently their mince pies were rated with a gold star in the Irish Examiner’s best mince pie review.

Sunday 16th DECEMBER

12pm   crust to crumb baking
Patrick Ryan from Firehouse Bakery & Bread School, situated on Heir Island in West Cork promises to bring a bit of festive real bread baking to Theatre of Food, with all the classics: mince pies, stollen and panettone but with the unique Firehouse style.  Think of delicious mincemeat swirls with brandy butter icing, flower-pot panettone and Brioche that will certainly set the heart rate racing. A fun demonstration with lots of tasters!

A workshop on Mexican Food Gift Ideas with Lily Ramirez-Foran, the writer behind ‘A Mexican Cook in Ireland’, a food blog where she shares her Mexican family recipes and her adventures in her Dublin kitchen.  Lily has been living and cooking in Ireland for over 10 years with her Irish husband and business partner, Alan Foran.  Together they run ‘My Mexican’, an online shop with everything you need for an authentic Mexican feast at home. Lily is a member of the Irish Food Bloggers Association and passionately believes in the Slow Food ethos of good, clean and fair food.  She works full-time for an Irish not-for-profit organisation and divides her days between her full-time job, the business and cooking and writing for the blog.  Busy bee, she usually finds time for a cooking demo or class.

URRU Culinary Store
Bandon’s URRU has announced its Opening Hours for Christmas & New Year:
Sun 16 Dec 2 - 5.30
Mon 17 - Saturday 22 Dec 8.45 - 6
Sun 23 Dec 10 - 5.30
Mon 24 Dec 8.45 - 4.30
Tues 25 - Thurs 27 Dec Closed
Fri 28 Dec 10 - 5
Sat 29 Dec 10 - 5
Sun 30 Dec Closed
Mon 31 Dec 10 - 5
Tues 01 January Closed
Wed 02 January Back to Normal 8.45 - 6

Wines in Clon
News from last month’s B & G wine tastings in Clonakilty and for more wine news with an Irish angle check the company's current newsletter here


Potato Gratin recipe from Pat Whelan 

Surf and Oink

Last orders From Vuneyards Direct

Mary Daly ‏@MaryDalyHACCP
"Now taking bookings for our Primary Course in HACCP & Food Safety on 21/01/2013 in Cork. Please see  for course details

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Nash 19. Alive with good food and good humour.

Nash 19. 
Alive with good food and good humour.

 Thought I wouldn’t get a spot at Nash 19 yesterday at lunchtime but there was a table at the back. After a big warm welcome we settled down, our order was taken and we sipped the gorgeous Italian white wine Pecorino.

While we were waiting for the mains, we were treated to an Amuse Bouche, chicken liver paté with their own cranberry sauce (when it is as good as this, a little goes a long way).

 Then down to business, sorry, that should read pleasure. CL picked the O’Connell’s Hake, served with a pea puree and field mushrooms. As usual the fish was fresh, just out of the water you’d think, and cooked to perfection as was everything else on the plate.
 I choose the Supreme of O’Sullivan’s Chicken with Gubbeen chorizo and spinach. Supreme is the word. Moist and tasty and a spirited reminder every now and then from Fingal Ferguson’s lively chorizo. A vote of confidence in this game is an empty plate and two of them went back to the kitchen.
 If you are in Nash 19 at this time of the year, you just have to try the Christmas treats. I went for the traditional Mince Pie. Been eating these for over 60 years now and I reckon the Princes Street version is the best ever. Try it for yourself some day. Even if you don’t have time for a meal, just drop in for a pie and a cup of coffee and let me know!

CL thoroughly enjoyed her Warm Festive Fruit Tart and I loved my sample but it’s the mince pies for me, though I could me tempted by the Christmas pudding next time.

I finished off with a couple of cups of Bewley’s Coffee and headed out in good humour, not just because of the good food but because of the good humour of everyone we met in the restaurant. It is true what they say – it is contagious. Laugh and the world laughs with you. Happy Christmas to all at Nash 19.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Buying Irish at the local markets

Market Meal #4
Making up a meal from your local market is a great idea. It gives your shopping a focus on the day and not alone are you supporting local producers and buying Irish but you are also in for a treat.

And these kind of meals don’t have to be that expensive. The basics in this one, from the English Market here in Cork, cost about a fiver a head. Allow about a euro for the liver, 3 euro 50 for the fish and 50 cents for the pear.

Bought the liver from Eoin O’Mahony and used a recipe called Catalan Style Liver. It turned out to be a brilliant dish, a fantastic starter. Here the liver is browned and lightly simmered in a well flavoured tomato and raisin sauce with extra flavour coming from a dash of Madeira or Sherry (we used Port) and served with croutons.

I’ve always thought that Cod and Tomatoes go perfectly well together and that was the case with a French recipe Cabillaud a la Provençal (basically cod with a Tomato and herb sauce). Simply delicious.

The pears, bought across the way from O’Mahony’s, were grilled with honey and served with ice cream. Perfect with a shot of Tokaji Aszu.

A few minutes around the market and we had the makings of a fabulous meal for ourselves.

Hederman's smoked mackerel

Meal #4a
Now, there was a fair bit of work in the meal above. Even the pears took more work than you’d think. But if you want an easy meal from the market, here is one, constructed from food bought at the Midleton Farmer’s Market.

Starter: treat yourself to the fantastic smoked mackerel from the Hederman stand. Pure class. Must be the best around.
Mains: Just turn around and go to the Green Saffron stall and pick up one of their meal deals for €8.50. We got enough Chicken Korma, rice and naan bread for two. Easy to prepare and very tasty indeed.
Cheese: Ardsallagh’s hard mature goat cheese with any relish you like. You get quite a chunk of this cheese for about €5.50 and less than half that will do for this course. Love their fresh soft cheese also but the hard (they also have a smoked version) is nice for a change.

Cost per head for the basics: €7.50 approx.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Tremendous Verdejo

Meet this attractive Verdejo
Vina Orpendola, Verdejo 2011, Rueda (Spain), 13%, €13.00 to €15.00, stockists 

Just take a look at this remarkable Verdejo. It is beautiful and bright. Already your guard is down. But don't worry, it is a tender trap!

Rueda DO is a prestigious white wine region in NW Spain. This Orpendola is made with one hundred per cent Verdejo and “tries to express the personality “of the area. Vino Orpendola is a unit of the Osborne family, best known for its sherry.

I fell for it at first sight. It has lovely aromas of white fruits and blossom. It is full-textured, fruity, lively and dry. Generous, it doesn’t flatter to deceive and is excellent from start to long finish. Another winner from Wine Alliance. Highly recommended.

In singing the praises of a young Spanish wine I must not forget some of the older whites. I had the pleasure of revisiting one this weekend: R. Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia, Viña Gravonia Crianza 2002, Rioja DO.

Just gorgeous, as I remembered. See the full story here, plus a review of the even better 1996, both white and dry, both memorable.

Friday, December 7, 2012

More Food and Drink Spotting


Celebrity Chef gives Wilton Shoppers Festive Food for Thought
Not only are shoppers at Wilton Shopping Centre enjoying live carol singing and piano playing, as well as great value shopping, but next week they will also be treated to a free Christmas cookery demonstration with celebrity chef and author, Rachel Allen.

Shoppers will be shown how to create simple but delicious festive treats and Christmas party food by Rachel Allen, who will be in Wilton Shopping Centre on on Friday, 14 December at 11 am.  The demonstration is free to attend and all are welcome.

The free Christmas cookery demonstration is the latest in the Wilton Shopping Centre line up this holiday season, which has seen local schools carol singing as well as stunning Christmas piano tunes from Jeffers Pianos on site.  Santa is in his grotto at Wilton every day checking his list, reading the Santa letters posted in store, and hearing whether the children of Cork have been naughty or nice.  The team at Wilton Shopping Centre are also providing a free gift wrapping service.   And of course, Home & Away star, Brax, will be visiting on New Year’s Eve.

“We have a fantastic Christmas experience for shoppers at Wilton this year”, said Susanne Irwin, Manager of Wilton Shopping Centre.  “From carol singing, Christmas food tastings and cake decorating, and the elves’ free gift wrapping station ensuring that all gifts bought here are wrapped by Santa’s little helpers, Christmas shopping has never been so much fun or so easy!”

Boasting 62 shops under one roof, Christmas at Wilton is truly a unique shopping experience in Cork.  From the welcoming scents of cinnamon and orange to the friendly service and great choice of Christmas gifts available, Wilton Shopping Centre won’t disappoint.

Opening hours have been extended throughout December, and the Wilton Shopping Centre will be open from 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays opening hours run from 11am to 6pm.

For more information, see or follow Wilton Shopping Centre on Facebook.

‘Wine for the Festive Season’ with Colm McCan & Peter Corr

Ballymaloe Cookery School, Tuesday 11th December, 6pm

This entertaining & educational wine evening will run like a dinner party, starting with wines for the Aperitif, moving on to the Main Event and finishing with the End of the Day. Presenting the evening, with wines to taste, are Colm McCan, Sommelier at Ballymaloe House & Wine Teacher at Ballymaloe Cookery School, together with Peter Corr of Febvre & Co Wine Merchants who is also a guest wine teacher at Ballymaloe Cookery School, both of whom have a combined 50 years experience in the wine world, making them the ideal guides to Festive Wines.

Amaze yourself, your family and your friends with your wine knowledge, food & wine pairing, hot tips and wine gift ideas, all with Christmas and the Festive Season in mind.

Proceeds for this evening to the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project

€8 (Slow Food members €5). All are welcome. Advance booking essential.

Theatre of Food
(via @Bibliocook)

Theatre of Food is ‘popping up’ at Cork Christmas Market this year to bring some top tips for festive fare and seasonal treats. The stage, equipped with a Bosch kitchen will host fantastic participants including some of Cork’s finest chefs: Multi-award winning chef Brendan Cashman, formerly of the Michelin Star-ranked Augustine’s Restaurant; and Kevin Ahern of Sage Restaurant in Midleton, whose restaurant's ethos is to source the best of local produce from Cork County – East, West & North, with most sourced within a 12 mile radius of Midleton.

Both will be kicking off the pop up Theatre of Food this Sunday, taking centre stage between 3pm and 6pm, and treating the audience to some seasonal flavours and foods from the English Market.

Brendan Cashman and the magic of Brining

Brendan and the magic of Brining

Chef Brendan Cashman brought his cooking magic to CIT this week. Turkey, Smoked Salmon, Pan Roast Squab Pigeon and a dark Chocolate Cake were all on the list but it was brining that caught the attention of the audience.

Brendan, giving his services free for this charity event (in aid of St Vincent de Paul), started the evening with a demo of his Alternative to Smoked Salmon. The cure here consisted of lemon zest, dill, coarse sea salt, castor sugar and peppercorns. Samples were soon passed a round amid hums of approval.

The main practical demo had Brendan showing us how to cook his Pan Roast Squab Pigeon and Confit leg. The crown had been placed in brine for four hours. But before the pigeon was finished, we had a break, enjoyed some sweet delights produced by the CIT students.
Confit leg: Brendan and the pigeon leg
that he transformed into a tasty "lollipop"

Back to the splendidly appointed demo area then and Brendan explained the Brining. “Several years ago, I began to brine all kinds of meats, fish and vegetables to ‘infuse’ or impart more depth of flavour. In simple scientific terms it breaks down the muscle filaments, helping tenderise the meats. Once the filaments have broken down they can begin to absorb the flavours in the brine.”

Bringing was one of preserving options used before the refrigerator and is now making a huge comeback in modern cuisine, particularly in Scandinavia, and is an everyday approach to flavour enhancement in Michelin starred kitchens all over the world.

All attendees received a bunch of recipes, along with detailed instructions on curing, smoking and brining. Brining was again the main topic in the closing question and answer session.

At the very end, we had the results of the raffle for St Vincent de Paul and glad to say I was among the many winners of Christmas goodies. Great cause and a great demo. Well done to CIT’s Tourism and Hospitality Department and to Dr. Margaret Linehan, the Head of School of Humanities, and her staff, who organised the event.

Brendan is officially starting his cookery school in Douglas in the New Year but there are a couple of opportunities to enhance your Christmas cooking skills before then as he has two two-night courses taking place on the 10th and 17th and also on the 11th and 18th of December. For bookings contact him at or telephone 021-4365083.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Food and Drink Spotting

Food and Drink Spotting

Happy Anniversary to L’Atitude 51

Happy First Anniversary to L’Atitude, the wine cafe at number one Union Quay.

Best known for its huge range of wine, available by the tasting glass, by the normal glass, by the carafe and by the bottle, the friendly venue also does morning coffees and gorgeous pastries, light lunches and light meals later on. Beer drinkers are not forgotten either. And, if you like a little music or art, then that’s another reason to make a visit. Wine tastings, even wine classes, are regularly available here.

Tuesday was the official anniversary. I couldn’t make that evening’s party but did call in earlier for lunch. They do one soup, one hot dish and a few open sandwiches, all a cut above the average and all priced below the average. Yesterday’s selection: Porchetta and sundried tomato; Fennel salami and gherkin; Buffalo mozzarella with aubergines.

Potato and Leek soup can sometimes be bland but not here and you get a massive bowlful and great bread for €4.50. My main course was the Jack McCarthy Black Pudding with Apple Sauce and a Mustard Mash. The cost? Just €6.50. Good food, good value.

Ballymaloe's Pop-Up Christmas Wine Shop

Ballymaloe’s Colm McCan has been in touch: “We are opening a ‘Pop-Up Christmas Wine Shop’ at Ballymaloe House, each weekend in the run up to Christmas, on Saturdays & Sundays, from 11.00am - 4.00pm.

Lots to see & do, and shop, in the area, including Ballymaloe House Shop, celebrating 40 years this year, and the Ballymaloe Shop Cafe for delicious morning coffee, light lunches, and afternoon tea; Ballymaloe House for lunch & dinner, and vouchers for Christmas, and the Farm Shop at Ballymaloe Cookery School.

All your Christmas shopping in tranquil Shanagarry – hassle free, lots of parking, delicious food – and a walk on the beach afterwards maybe.... Christmas Shopping with a smile!”

Sunday Brunch No. 5 Fenn’s Quay
Brunch may have been around for decades but Fenn’s Quay Restaurant, located on Sheares Street in Cork City Centre, is bringing it to Sundays on the 9th, 16th and 23rd of December, from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Executive Chefess Kate Lawlor has created a delectable brunch menu featuring local ingredients in classics, like Eggs Benedict with Rosscarbery Rashers or Boiled Eggs and Soldiers with Marmite, and indulgent favourites, like fluffy Feirm Úr Buttermilk Pancakes with your choice of crème fraîche, homemade jam or maple syrup.

For light eaters, there are Croissants or Fruit Scones served with Irish butter and Kate’s own house-made jam. With a variety of brunch dishes on the special menu, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Known for its family-friendly menu and staff, even the littlest brunchers will enjoy themselves.

Roz Crowley’s Mince Pies

Irish Examiner and Feelgood food writer Roz Crowley looks at the mince pies available this Christmas. On tomorrow, Friday the 7th, she will give her verdict on the best in the Feelgood section of the Irish Examiner. Here she also makes her own Christmas mince pies. Video by Dan Linehan @lensdan

Brendan Cashman Pop-up

Brendan is having his own Pop-Up consisting of a 7-course tasting menu for just €55 next Sat 8th Dec in his brand new Cookery School. Or why not sign up for his Christmas Cookery Course running on Mon 10th & 17th and Tues 11th & 18th December and wow those relations with your newly-found cooking skills on Christmas Day! For more details email Brendan directly on or call 021 4365083


St Tola Goat Cheese ‏@StTolaCheese

St Tola Ash Log won Best Irish Cheese at the World Cheese Awards! Mature log wins Bronze too. What a great end to 2012!

Ballymaloe Cookery ‏@BallymaloeCS

Wines for the Festive Season @BallymaloeCS Colm McCan and Peter Corr in aid of slow food - Tue December 11th 6pm. lots of wine ideas €8.00

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Love your food? Love Your Fun?

Love your food? Love Your Fun? Read on..

"Six In The City" is RTÉ's newest reality entertainment series. Based on the success of a pilot episode, which aired during RTÉ's "Format Farm" season this autumn, "Six In The City" will return to RTÉ 2 this March for a full series of 6 episodes.

Lorna Hackett of WAKA TV telles me: “We are currently accepting applications from candidates in every Irish city, asking people to show us what makes a great night out in their city. The series will be recorded from January until March.”

“We are looking for couples and pairs (friends, colleagues, etc.) in every Irish city to take part in this RTÉ television show. The pair will showcase the best that their city has to offer in terms of dining, socialising, events and activities. Participants in the show get the chance to show off the best of their city's social life, and they will also get to visit two other Irish cities for great nights out, all expenses paid.”

“ The most successful pair in hosting a great night out, as voted for by the others taking part, will win a €1,000 city break to the European destination of their choice.

Do you & your better half have a fantastic social life?

How About Showing The Rest Of Ireland How It's Done?

With the chance to win a European Party Break worth €1,000

RTÉ Two's hit reality show, Six In The City, is back in March, and we'd love YOU and your partner to be the stars.

We're looking for party-loving couples from all across Ireland to compete in an exciting city vs city challenge.

You'll host YOUR perfect Night Out in YOUR City, and you'll also enjoy a weekend party break in two other Irish cities - all expenses covered.

Three couples, three cities and three great nights out. The couple judged to host the best night out wins the €1,000 prize. That could be YOU!





Party time!
To apply send your name and a contact number to:

or call             01 - 6611384       and ask for Trevor

Lorna Hartnett WAKA TV (01) 661 1384 and 085 77 080 52


A Stellar Pair from Spain

A Stellar Pair from Spain

The weekend provided the opportunity to try out a pair of reds from Spain and it was time well spent with a stellar duo, each well priced. Both were really good, though the Sembro perhaps had the edge.

Las Pizarras Si O Sy Syrah 2010 Calatayud, 12.5%, (€10 to 12), Stockists 

The vineyard says tradition is respected but “our young team of winemakers are open to innovation and advances, in search of ways of raising qualities”. Reckon they got it spot-on with this warm and spicy 100 per cent Syrah.

Nose is complex, fairly intense, dark fruits, especially plum. Plum and cherry on the palate, it is full bodied, smooth and well balanced, moderately spicy with a good long finish. Good value and highly recommended.

Sembro Tempranillo 2011 Ribera Del Duero, 13.5% (€12 to 14) Stockists 

This is another of the three Osborne family wines recently imported by Wine Alliance. Osborne, well known for its sherries, have several estates in quality DOs in Spain and the philosophy is to ensure the wine “is a unique reflection of the personality of the vineyard”.

This very dark red has an intense mix of fruits on the nose. Fruits and some spice on the palate with a pretty smooth mouthfeel and then a good long flavoursome finish. This one has a lot going for it. Quite a personality and highly recommended.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Amuse Bouche

’We will go home and eat cakies, little lotus-filled cakies,’ Granny sang. ‘We will eat turnip squares, salty white turnip squares,' she sang. ‘We will eat grass jelly, tangy green grass jelly. We will eat dumplings, soft, steamy dumplings.’
From Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen by Marilyn Chin.

Bringing the Buffalo Home

Bringing the Buffalo Home
 Last weekend was the first time that Toons Bridge Cafe was selling buffalo meat. Called there Saturday morning and it was great to meet up with owners Toby Simmonds and Jenny-Rose Clarke and also with buffalo farmer Johnny Lynch. There was quite a selection of the meat and, don’t worry, the cafe/shop will be open from 11.00am every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Mozzarella and Ballyhoura Mushrooms

 By the way, they sell much more than meat. There are some great cheeses on displays, especially the mozzarella and ricotta. They also do local produce and we helped ourselves to some of De Roiste’s black and white pudding. Don’t forget that they also have a great selection of Mediterranean products, much the same as you see on their olive stalls at the markets, including the English Market.

And if you have time to pause and sip, there is the lovely little cafe.

The Mozzarella came in a plastic bag with its fluid, “the only way to sell Mozzarella” said Toby. We enjoyed that in the classic manner (below), with tomatoes and basil. The following day, the “leftovers” were put to good use, mixed with some marinated Shiitake Mushrooms (from Ballyhoura Mushrooms) and a little salad. The mushrooms added another dimension and we had an enjoyable mix on the plate.

Two fillets were next up and they quickly cooked and were served with pommes boulangères and some greens, not forgetting a lovely Spanish red. Perfect. Next day, we tried the round roast, cooking it slow and low as advised. Very little fat here so the meat could dry out quickly on a higher heat. Served it with roast spuds and parsnips. Very enjoyable.

Aside from buffalo meat having 90% less fat, 67% less cholesterol and 45% fewer calories, the opinion here is that, taste wise, the buffalo meat is not that far away from the more usual beef. After all, Le Buff and Le Bouef are closely related. No doubt, the traditional steak accompaniments, such as onions and mushrooms should also go well with the Toons Bridge newcomers.

The ricotta can be quite versatile but this time we stuck with it as a dessert, copying the lads in the Mills by drizzling it with a local honey and it worked fine. Also had some grilled pears with toasted walnuts on hand but this was really a second dessert rather than a match. 

Also got a tip from Karen on twitter to try spinach & ricotta cannelloni. Next time! There are many ways of using all these fantastic buffalo products from Toons Bridge – indeed they had a recipe for Pot Roast with Red Wine available last Saturday. So why not try it and get yourself down to the lovely cafe before meat stocks run out!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Rebel Fusion at Fresco Bistro

Seven Up for Fresco Bistro

They called it the Rebel Fusion Menu and Fresco Bistro made sure it lived up to its name. Based on the best of Irish ingredients, Chef Kash and his crew came up with a stunning series of dishes, some with a European influence, others with an Asian touch, all delicious and illustrating how the food revolution, inspired by our immigrants, has changed the plates of Cork. 

And to cap it all, the wine pairings by the experts at L’Atitude 51 were spot-on, with wines from California, Australia and Europe. Must say too that the service here was excellent, the staff friendly and well informed on the dishes and the wines.

If pushed, I might say that the Brisket Tart and Sausage was my favourite course of the seven but, if pushed another way, I might go for that opening Cappuccino or indeed any course at all. Think I’ll just let the pictures do the talking here.

Oh, by the way, it looks as if Fresco Bistro, so hugely encouraged by the response to the venture, will be doing something similar on a regular basis. So, watch this space.

Ummera Smoked Salmon Cappuccino
A Cappuccino with a difference using Ummera Smoked Salmon and Ballyhoura Shiitake mushroom served with pistachio biscotti. "A brilliant blend, the salmon shining through."
The Wine: 2010 Clay Station (California) Viognier.

 Criostoir's Rebel County Spiced Beef.
Spiced beef bon bon pasta accompanied with smoked bacon, cabbage roll and horseradish beurre blanc.
"A new way with spiced beef! And that cabbage roll was gorgeous."
The Wine: 2010 Casteliroig (Spain) Xarel-lo
 O'Crualaoi's Beef and Ginseng Consomme.
Beef consomee topped with goji berries, venison wanton and quail eggs.
"Loved those little berries, the eggs, the venison, everything."
The Wine: 2008 Cat Amongst the Pigeons (Australia) Cabernet Sauvignon.
Murphy's Organic Salmon Teriyaki.
Mixed berry teriyaki of salmon on sobi noodles and a red miso brother, topped with shichimi togarashi.
"A brilliant super tasty dish influenced by the land of the rising sun."
The Wine: 2010 Temps de Flor (Spain) Xarel-lo, Muscat and Gewurztraminer

Ballycotton Jumbo Scampi
Pan-fried jumbo prawns with an Asian Salad tossed in a soy, garlic and thyme dressing with an Agar Basil Jelly.
"The prawns were brilliant here and that salad was special. The black cylinder is the Agar. Wasn't too popular!"
The Wine: 2008 Rosso di Montalcino (Italy) Sangiovese.

Criostoir's Brisket Tart and Murphy's Beef Sausages.
A tender brisket filled with quail's eggs in a tart, baked to perfection and accompanied with homemade Murphy's beef sausage.
"Yet another top notch dish. The pie was irresistible; terrific sausage and jus."
The Wine: 2008 Chateau Ventenac Reserve (France) Cab Sauv, Merlot and Syrah.

Mixed Berries Pulut
An Asian glutinous rice dessert with berries, served with egg and coconut jam, flavoured with screwpine leaf.
"Wasn't too sure about the rice when I saw this but it was fine with the berries providing a lovely contrast. That jam was yet another treat."
The Wine: Franciacorta Brut (Italy) Chardonnay and Pinot Nero.