Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday Afternoon in English Market

Saturday Afternoon in English Market

Saturday Afternoon in English Market

A change of dining plan for tonight meant a quick dash to the English Market this afternoon and to the Frank Hederman stall in particular. The aim here was to secure a couple of their tempting Fish pies (Smoked haddock, spinach cream, lovely mash).

That accomplished, I made a call to On the Pigs Back for some Bayonne ham and Arbutus Sourdough. Great to see the West Cork Garlic on sale there.

Made a quick dash to the chemist then to get some Senna Leaves and Wrights Coal Tar Soap. Only joking! Instead, I enjoyed a lovely reasonably priced cup of Maher’s coffee and very friendly service in the Arthur Mayne Wine Bar (which features quite a lot of old pharmacy related items).

Nearly jumped going up Bridge when a chorus of police sirens broke the peace and quiet but they were just escorting a big bunch on a Cancer Cycle. Just your typical Saturday afternoon downtown.

Superb Events in Autumn Wine Diary

Superb Events in Autumn Wine Diary

Hayfield Manor’s Wine Society offers the ultimate wine tasting experience in Cork. Each of our Society evenings feature vintages selected from among the finest domaines in the world, with a five course meal specially created by our Executive Chef, Graeme Campbell, to match the individual qualities of each wine.

The next Hayfield Manor Wine Society takes place on Thursday, 11th October 2012 at 7.00pm. The evening begins with aperitifs and an introduction to wines by Noel Tymlin from Findlater Wines followed by a 5 course menu with a different Italian wine per course.

This tasting will feature regions from northern and central Italy and wine that will be featured include:
·         Santa Cristina (Trebiano) which is light white wine

·         Montepulciano D'Abruzzo which is a light-medium red wine

·         Masi Macianco which is a dry Pinot Grigio

·         Campofiorini which is a full bodied red wine

·         Ca 'Bianca - Muscato D'Asti which is a dessert wine

Dinner is €79.00 per person and is served from 7.30pm with five different wines to match each course.

Limited spaces are available, therefore an early reservation is strongly recommended.
Further details are available on
To book please phone Charlotte on             021-4845909       or email


Wine Australia  in association with the Irish Times
Galway and Dublin Tastings

Wine Australia is delighted to be hosting another delicious wine tasting in Dublin on Thursday 11th October.

The tastings will be presented by Irish Times wine writer John Wilson and Wine Australia’s John Mc Donnell and the Dublin event will be hosted in ely Bar and Brassiere, Custom House Quay in the IFSC between 7pm and 8.30pm while the Galway venue is The Kitchen Café & Restaurant.

 The wine line up will include some of the great wine styles that Australia has become known for, as well as a few unusual offerings to challenge the perception that Australia only makes Chardonnay and Shiraz.

The cost to join the tasting is €25 per person and please use this Irish Times link to book directly. With some delicious nibbles served during the evening this should be another fun, and tasty, event. Places are limited so please book early to join us for a great night.

The Details again
DUBLIN, Date; Thursday 11th October, Time: 7pm – 8.30pm, Venue: ely Bar & Brassiere, Custom House Quay, IFSC, Dublin 1. Cost. €25 per person. Bookings: Direct with the Irish Times (link above).

GALWAY, Date; Wednesday 10th October, Time: 7pm – 8.30pm, Venue: The Kitchen Café & Restaurant at the Galway City Museum, Spanish Parade, The Latin Quarter. Cost. €25 per person. Bookings; Direct with the Irish Times (link above).

If you require any further information please contact Wine Australia’s John Mc Donnell on or 065 7077264

The Many Faces of Australian Shiraz.
Winemaker Tim Adams is back in Dublin and brings us on a tour of Australia on the good ship Shiraz.
Our tasting aims to challenge the perception that there is only one version of Australian Shiraz.
We hope to show that region, sub region, winemaking, vine age and vintage all contribute to more than one style of the variety from Australia.

Date: Thursday 25th October.
Time: 7pm - 8.30pm.
Venue: Fallon and Byrne, 11 - 17 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2
Cost: 20 Euro per person
Reserve your place with Wine Australia on


Tuscan Wine and Olive Oil at Ballymaloe

8th November 2012, 7pm
The Ballymaloe Sherry event has been postponed from October until the New Year  but don't despair, they have a major event early in November.
An Italian evening - wines of Tuscany & New Season’s Olive Oil
with the owners of Fontodi, Selvapiana and Villa di Capezzana, and ‘New Seasons Tuscan Olive Oil’ launch, with the owners of some of Tuscany’s iconic Olive Oil & Wine Estates, including Bea Contini Bonacossi, from Capezzana, Carmignano; Federico Giuntini, Selvapiana, Rufina; Giovanni Manetti, Fontodi and David Gleave MW of Liberty Wines. €24 (includes new season's Olive Oil presentation & Olive Oil tasting; and Tuscan wine presentation & tasting, and nibbles). Contact details here.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Jim Crowley Butchers. Multi-award winners.

Jim Crowley Butchers, Midleton
Criostoir (2nd left) with his team at the festival
 The outstanding treat that I enjoyed at the recent Midleton Food Festival came from the Jim Crowley Butcher stall on the main street. I had met joint owner Criostoir O’Crualoai a few days previously and he had told me to watch out for their Steak Sandwich, also a hit at the previous year’s festival.

So I did keep an eye out and soon found the stall, along with Criostoir and his friendly crew. Just have to say that the steak sandwich was terrific, even at a comparative early hour of the day. So tender, we were able to gently tear it in two, the better to share. Tender, and tasty.
The shop on Mill Road
 While a well placed source in the food industry later told me that Crowley’s have a loyal following in the area, I had never heard of their shop (on the Mill Road) before meeting Criostoir. After the festival, I called up there and met another friendly bunch behind the counter. The shop was neat and sparkling with a great selection of meats on sale.

But I were after the shop’s pride and joy: their pork, chorizo and mozzarella burgers. Took them home and cooked them up and enjoyed them - just the right amount of chorizo to spice up the pork without overdoing it. Quite a chunky burger too and good value. And they are gorgeous. Don't take my word for it. It won second prize in May in the ACBI national barbeque competition!

And that is not the only award that Crowley’s, owned jointly by Criostoir and Jim Crowley, have won in recent years. You can see the list here and it includes five Bridgestone’s in a row, the most recent for 2012.
Prize-winning pork burger!

Criostoir: “Attention to detail is what makes us leaders in our field. Our product is thoroughly traceable. Crowley’s is a family business spanning two generations and has a very good reputation locally. The fact that many restaurants in the area use us as their supplier is testimony to the quality assurance that we bring to the marketplace.”

The Midleton Food Festival may come around just once a year but you can visit that sparkling welcoming shop on the town’s Mill Road all year round. Worth a detour!

Margaret River Pioneer at Ballymaloe

Margaret River Pioneer at Ballymaloe

The Margaret River visited East Cork yesterday.

After cricket and a kite surfing demo on the lawn, the action in Ballymaloe moved in to the Grain Store where Australian wine legend (and founder of New Zealand’s Cloudy bay) David Hohnen produced a team of six scintillating wines, three in white and three in red.

David, of McHenry Hohnen, is a brilliant speaker for an occasion like this, delivering solid information with wit and with sharp brevity.

He did repeat himself a bit though. Well, just one phrase. “Take a step back.” He was talking passionately here about letting the wine “work itself out” and was a bit worried that modern technology and courses were giving students both the knowledge and the means to interfere too much in the process.

He did some interfering himself though when he started off in 1966/67, when varieties were not mentioned on the bottles. In the morning, they made claret; at lunch-time, they added dye and so made Burgundy in the afternoon!

David is a firm believer in blends, believing that they can add up to more than the sum of their parts and that belief was illustrated by four of the six wines.

“I won’t buy a bottle sealed by a piece of bark,” he declared, not for the first time, one suspects. He is a firm advocate of the screw cap, going as far as to say that in forty years of making wine, the screw cap was the most significant technical innovation, both for the maker and the consumer. “Both can have great confidence in the screw cap.”

And from one timber to another. Oak has its uses, he said, but as a container. “We don’t seek to add aromas, texture or flavour via the barrel.” They import older used barrels and the oak, at that stage, has little influence on the wine.

He highly praised modern machinery in the vineyard, especially for harvesting. “It doesn’t get pissed on Fridays and gets the work done in the window of opportunity.”

The Whites

Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2011

3 Amigos, 2008

Calgardup Brook Chardonnay, 2010

All three were excellent and all three have been marked in the mid 90s by James Halliday, but it was the 3 Amigos that caught my attention. I liked this, so rich and creamy, full bodied. David said it was one of their “new direction wines, a lovely delicious style, beautiful, a pure natural wine.”

The Reds

Shiraz, 2010

3 Amigos, 2007

Tiger Country, Tempranillo, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon, 2006

Once again a superb set. The Shiraz was “very much Shiraz, lovely, clean and sharp, made from Autumn ripened grapes.” Important if you are looking for good Shiraz to watch out for areas where the grapes ripen in Autumn, was a tip from David.

The 3 Amigos, with a very rich mouthfeel and a long finish, was a brilliant blend of Shiraz, Grenache and Mataro (Mourvedre).

For me, the real class in the glass came with the Tiger Country blend. Tempranillo is the main grape here and it shows. It has power and elegance, is supple and silky with a persistent finish. “Tread carefully,” they say, “this Tiger’s got some savoury bite!” Well worth the risk for 24 euro.
David and yours truly

The wines, priced from €19.00 to €26.00, are available via Tindal Wine Merchants. Rounded off with a delicious Harvest Supper, it was another terrific night in Ballymaloe and well done to David, to our host Colm McCan and his colleagues and to William Tindal. 

The Ballymaloe Sherry event has been postponed until the New Year but do watch out for the An Italian Evening - wines of Tuscany & New Season’s Olive Oil – on November 8th.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Food and Drink Spotting

Marc and Darra
of Golden Bean.
Ballymaloe pic.

Food and Drink Spotting

Coffee Delights
Must say I’m enjoying some great coffee these days.

Many of you will know from recent media coverage that Robert Roberts won a 3 Gold Star Award for their widely available Java Coffee Beans but the coffees that I have at the moment from the long established Dublin firm are from Central and South America.

The Cuban Altura, an earthy smooth flavoured cupful, is now almost used up. Most of Cuba’s coffee is grown for the local market and for some limited export markets. Glad that this came our way.

The September selection from Roberts is the Bolivian Nakhaki, smooth and regarded as “very sweet”. Didn’t really notice any great sweetness, the term is relative anyhow, but found it well balanced and creamy. Up until recently, the coca bean was the main crop in Bolivia but it is now recognised that they have the rich soil and ideal conditions for growing top class coffee. This is one of them!

And the top class standard continued with a recent purchase from the Golden Bean Roastery which is based at Ballymaloe House. I bought my pack at the Mahon Point Farmers Market.

The Yirga Cheffe comes from the highlands of Ethiopia. This is a lovely coffee, bright and crisp, fragrant, with a slightly chocolaty or nutty quality and a bit stronger than you might expect for its light to medium body. Maybe use just a little less coffee when brewing up your cup!

Glenisk partners with the Marie Keating Foundation and supports local communities
As part of its 25th anniversary celebrations, Glenisk has partnered with the Marie Keating Foundation, donating €25,000 to help the charity raise awareness of breast cancer, promote screening and prevention measures, and help those families who have been adversely affected by the illness. Glenisk has created a series of Limited Edition Pink Yogurt packs to highlight the partnership across the company’s Fat Free Organic yogurts, which are available in Natural (500g), Strawberry (4x125g) and Tropical Fruits (4x125g).

In addition, Glenisk has set up a small fund on their Facebook page, inviting visitors to apply for ten community support grants of €250 each. The funds are for events or fundraisers which help to make a difference in local communities around Ireland. Community organisers and charities can apply on Facebook. Further information on all Glenisk products, partnerships and organics is available at, on Facebook and on Twitter.


L’Atitude 51
“In association with On The Pig's Back, we are delighted to announce a Cheese & Wine Masterclass taking place on Wednesday 3rd October @7pm upstairs in our Wine Workshop. A Tasting of 6 Cheeses & 6 Wines carefully selected for each cheese to teach you about cheese and wine pairing. You can experiment with the different combinations & find the best match for yourself."

Admission €15. Spaces are limited so booking is essential. Send them a message on FB, or call 021 2390219 or email to book your spot.
Good news for Magnol lovers
For a couple of years (vintages of 2008 and 2009), Mother Nature put a halt to the development of the Château Magnol production. Two hail storms in a row (unheard of by Bernard, their winemaker for 40 years) had drastically shortened the yields, forcing them to put their best customers on allocations for the past 3 years. Time for celebration now though as the 2010 vintage  produced 15,000 cases “of an extraordinary quality”. More info from Barton and Guestier here

Don’t forget  the 'Margaret River comes to East Cork' event at Ballymaloe, this Thursday 27th September. Well known winemaker, David Hohnen (formerly of Cloudy Bay, which he established, and Cape Mentelle) oversees a Margaret River wine presentation, followed by a 'Fire-cooking Harvest Supper' by Wildside's Ted Berner - more details here at this link.


Dermie's Spanish Baked Eggs with Tomato & Gubbeen Chorizo ... 

Gary O’Hanlon, recent winner of the Celtic Cook-Off in Skibbereen, goes all French for RTE. Here he shows his class with Coq au Vin:

Congrats to St Tola who won two Awards this week at the Irish Cheese Awards! Their lovely Ash log won Silver in the New Cheese Category while their classic St Tola Log won Gold in its class!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Delicious White Wines of Tondonia

Delicious White Wines of Tondonia

R. Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia, Viña Gravonia Crianza 2002, Rioja DO, 12.5%, €11.00 (at the vineyard bodega in Haro).

When I first noticed this Gravonia, 100 per cent Viura, on the shelf in Haro, I thought “this has to be a dessert wine”. I said as much but was quickly corrected: “All these whites are dry.”

So we had a taste and yes it is dry. The colour though is like rich honey and there are gorgeous floral blossoms on the nose. On the palate, there is a soft explosion of beautiful exotic flavours but, while rich, the aged wine is well crafted and well balanced, all leading to a very pleasing, lingering dry finish.
This is surely something different and very highly recommended.
Door to the tasting room!

Vineyard notes
Colour: Pale gold slightly evolved. Nose: Fresh and aromatic. Complex and developed. Bouquet with aromas of third generation. Taste: Fruity, complex, developed and fine.Issued Quantity: 29.000 bottles.

R. Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia, Viña Tondonia Reserva 1996 Rioja DO, 12.5% abv, €20.00 (at the vineyard bodega in Haro).

The nose is complex and the colour is even richer than the Gravonia, red/gold, like a good whiskey. I was told the extra richness in the colour comes from the ten per cent Malvasía used; the rest is Viura. Even though I had been told it was dry, I was still expecting something sweet. But, yes, it is really dry. It is also rich and elegant, shaping up like a good smooth sherry before finishing long and dry. Gorgeous. Very highly recommended.

It has spent six years in barrel and just 20,000 bottles were produced. They say it is perfect with all kinds of fish, with seafood and well seasoned white meat.

Vineyard notes: 1996 was officially a good year. There was a perfect balance in all parameters: colour flavour and taste. The white wines keep evolving in a fantastic way, showing elegance and finesse as per the best vintages.
For even more details, click here

I had been hoping to get some of their famous Viña Tondonia Rosé Gran Reserva, another aged wine, but there was none available and, because it is not made every year, none will be available for another year or two.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Amuse Bouche

In the 1840s, a Florida physician named John Gorrie, trying to cool the rooms where patients were suffering from yellow fever, figured out how to make ice using mechanical refrigeration, paving the way for household refrigerators that appeared in American homes en masse in the 1920s and 1930s,8599,1862562,00.html#ixzz0YKancgNq

Opening night at The Hub

Opening night at The Hub
Grainne Connolly, Caroline Buckley and Caroline Ellard from Crosshaven

Cork’s newest craft and specialty import beer house, The Hub, opened officially a week back.
Manager Lauren O’Shea was proud to show off this newly relaunched Anglesea Street house, stocked to the brim with craft, local and international beers.

I certainly enjoyed my visit to beer heaven. I’m on something of a wheat beer kick at the moment and sampled the Erdinger Weissbier and then Schneider Weise, both top class. There are 15 different specially beers on tap. Not easy to make a choice. However The Hub offers a tasting tray of three and I took this route and enjoyed Hoegaarden, Blue Moon (the one with the orange slice!) and Krombacher. Choices galore too on the bottle side with over fifty available.

Lauren O'Shea, Manager, with Mick and Margot O'Shea

Opening night guests were treated to eye popping magic from mentalist and mind reader Liam Sheehan, as he managed to stick playing cards stuck to the ceiling, find money on the inside of a kiwi fruit and magically make beer bottles disappear through tables.

In the back of the bar there is a secluded beer garden, and here a farmers market type set up was in place. Gidi made delicious Isreali kebabs from a mixture of fresh minced beef and lamb, mixed with spices and stuffed in an organic pitta with youghurt and salad.

Anita Radley, C&R Drinks, and Kieran Curtin, Carrigaline
Craft brewers and their representatives were present on the night.These included Ciara Kissane of Molson Coors, Anita Radley from world beer importers, Cremin and Radley, and Jim Kelly of C&C group.

The party continued into the night with guests from all over enjoying the atmosphere at Cork’s newest craft and import speciality beer house in the heart of the southside.


9 Anglesea Street, Cork, IE.
(021) 497 5774

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tom Crean Dining Experience at Annie’s

Tom Crean Dining Experience at Annie’s

Saturday night, at 18.35, we sat down to enjoy the Tom Crean Fresh Lager multi-course dinner in Annie’s Gastro-Pub. Why 18.35? Annascaul man Crean took part in 3 of the 4 Antarctic Expeditions and during the Terra Nova Expedition he undertook a superhuman 18hr 35 mile solo trek to save the life of his two companions.
The meal was also quite a voyage of discovery but a very pleasant one indeed as the kitchen team at Annie’s   came up with a string of class dishes, all incorporating the excellent lager made by the Dingle Brewing Company. The crew out front also did a marvellous job with only a couple of minutes between efficiently and courteously delivering a course to first and last client in the packed venue. It was the second night of the event and Friday went very well also.
Crean’s can be described as a fresh, clean, refreshing golden lager with a slight sweet taste. The soft flavours, slightly sweet aftertaste and rich golden colour combine to give you a thoroughly enjoyable drinking experience. I’d be very happy to see it in my local. The brewers also boast that it goes well with food and that was well and truly confirmed in Annie’s.
Started off with a pint and then came the first dish: Pan fried fillet of Mackerel on Crean's Brown Bread. We were up and running with this brilliant tasty match. Then came the mussels and langoustines with smoked bacon and leeks in a Crean’s Broth. Creamy and delicious.
And the standard remained very high as the Risotto was served, Wild Mushroom and Roast Chestnut with a Cream Thyme Reduction. We were being spoilt now for sure.
For me, one of the best dishes of the evening followed: Crean’s Confit Roast Pork Belly, Parsnip Puree, Kale and Crean’s Jus.  This was a brilliant combination of textures and flavours.
And the inventive chefs weren’t finished yet. Up came another star plateful: Crean’s Braised Beef Cheek, Celeriac and Potato Rosti, Roast Beetroot and Chive Emulsion. So tender, so tasty.
Then we had the sweet finish, their take on Ile Flotante with Chilled Blueberry Anglaise and Crean’s Hazelnut Caramel. Sweet and cool. A class finish to a class meal. And still time for some music and another pint of that fresh lager!

The chefs at Annie's enjoy some well deserved lager.
From left - Mark Ahern, Chris Starr and Head Chef Micheál "Tiffin" Griffin

New Cafe at Toons Bridge Dairy

New Cafe at Toons Bridge Dairy

The Real Olive Company and Toons Bridge Dairy this summer opened a little shop beside their warehouse and buffalo dairy in the old creamery,  Toons Bridge, near Macroom, West Cork.
"We sell our buffalo milk produce (mozzarella, ricotta, butter, raw milk, aged cheese, cream cheese and yoghourt) and our Mediterranean foods (olives, oils, Iberico meats etc.) We also provide an outlet for other local artisan producers (De Roiste puddings, Coolea cheese, jams etc.)."
"Attached to the old creamery there is a pretty garden, where we grow lots of the herbs and edible flowers used on the olive stalls."
 On Friday 28th Sept. We will open a cafe in the creamery garden serving simple food made from the abundant ingredients on site as well as good coffee, organic wine and sherry and scrumptious homemade desserts.
Using Our Own Buffalo Milk And Cream
Ricotta cake
Toons Bridge cheese board
Mozzarella salad
Ice cream

Using Real Olive Co. Stuff
Warm crispy Pane carasau with various toppings
Tapas boards
Toasted sandwiches

Please note: Both  shop and cafe will only open Fri, Sat and Sun because the stalls and vans are gone all over the country to markets, the cheese maker has finished his week and all is peaceful at the creamery.

Open Fri. Sat. Sun. 11am-6pm

Saturday, September 22, 2012

India at the Farmgate

India at the Farmgate

Jaipur Restaurant Dublin came to Cork’s Farmgate for Culture Night and their team of chefs got a surprise. “We’re doing okay but no one told us about these queues,” one said. And they did more than alright as the punters flocked in last night. And so too did the Farmgate team, keeping the flow going and organising seating for everyone.
Jaipur showcased the pan-Indian way of serving a complete meal at the local market eateries – The Thaali. Food is a very communal experience in India and Jaipur applied their flair and expertise to recreate the flavours of India in Cork’s historic food market, The English Market.
And, from all around me, I heard the diners praising the essence of ‘India on a Plate’!
The Plate for a tenner:
Samosa & Chole…Punjab
Gram pearl’s Raita with Cumin & Rock Salt Simla
Old Delhi Style Railway Chicken Delhi
Yellow lentils with young garlic, tomatoes and raw mangoes Jaipur
White Cabbage, crushed peas Foogath.....Chennai
Aged Basmati rice with Tellicherry Pepper & thyme Kerala
Kachumber Calcutta
While, for me,  the Farmgate event was the main one, there was a lot more going on in the Market with lines of people building up at every stall that was serving food. Not to mention drink. Bubbles Bothers reported a mad mad night. Maybe we should do it more often!

Friday, September 21, 2012

La Rioja: Faustino 1 and V

Faustino 1 and V

Faustino V, Rioja Reserva 2005, 13.5%, €13.32 Venta Mugica (Ibardin).

This is very smooth, dry, with a decent bit of spice, medium bodied, lingering finish. The bottle, as is usual, is frosted but comes without a net. Proposed pairings for this dark aromatic red include red meats, poultry with spicy sauces and mild cheeses. Fairly widely available here from, among others, Superquin and O’Brien's. Highly recommended.

Faustino 1, Rioja Gran Reserva 1999, 13.5%, €17.00 Venta Mugica (Ibardin).

This dark red, in the net, is a blend of Tempranillo (85%), Graciano (10) and Mazuelo (5). Nose is of red fruit with balsamic notes. It is very smooth and rounded, well balanced; no big rush on the palate but rather elegant all the way to the finish. Produced only in the very good years and this is a very recent release. There was also one in 1998 and it is unusual to get two in a row. Some top pundits reckon 1996 is the best. Very highly recommended

Nine Million Bottles!
Bodegas Faustino are one of La Rioja’s most famous producers and one of the biggest also, according to that excellent book, The Fine Wines of Rioja, who say they have a permanent stock of 9,000,000 bottles! They make quite a few wines, including Cava. The Gran Reserva, aged for a long time and released a decade or more after the harvest, is your classical Gran Rioja.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fresco Value and Variety

Fresco Value and Variety

Spent a pleasant interlude yesterday in the Fresco Bistro and was once again reminded of the excellence of the place in terms of variety and value. With the college “populating” itself again, the restaurant was busy enough for lunch but deserves to be better known and better supported.

There is terrific value here, quality too of course, as one would not be much good without the other. Almost all the specials on the board were under a tenner. Just the day before, I had a very ordinary carvery Roast of the Day (Bacon) in a suburban pub; meat and veg were fine but the potatoes were rock hard and it cost €12.99. Not great quality and no great value there. That dish would end up at the bottom if put in competition against anything at Fresco.

The variety at the Glucksman restaurant was underlined when we got a plate full of hot tapas and two glasses of wine, all part of a discount scheme now reaching its conclusion. The tapas are not a regular item on the menu and we had to ring in advance.

We enjoyed a brilliant selection, all with an Asian touch: chicken, pork, beef, calamari, fish, prawns and more. They came with three brilliant sauces, sauces that didn’t come out of a bottle: Satay, Sweet chilli and Raita.

I had been looking at the dessert specials on and off during the tapas and couldn’t leave without trying. We picked the Mixed Berry Tart (€4.00) and Jamaican Rum Banana and Fruit Tart (€5.00). Had a half of each and, hours later, I’m still very contented!

So well done to Brian and Chef Kash along with their very pleasant and efficient staff. Keep up the very good work and hope to see you all again soon.

Mixed Berry Tart

Food and Drink Spotting

Food and Drink Spotting
Arun Kapil, Green Saffron Spices, Cork; Mary Beary, Taste Kerry; Ciara McGee, South Cork Enterprise Board; and Kathleen O'Connor, Sasta Sausages, Killorglin, Co Kerry; with Amber, Ardsallagh Goats Cheese; at the launch of the Inaugural Cork / Kerry Food Forum, which takes place at the Rochestown Park hotel on 1st Oct.

The Cork Kerry Food Forum
The Cork Kerry Food Forum 2012 is to be held at the Rochestown Park Hotel on October 1st. There will be workshops, exhibitions, a conference and one to one mentoring sessions. Get all the times and details here.

More than 200 people involved in the region’s burgeoning food sector will meet with Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Simon Coveney T.D., at the forum which is aimed at SME food producers, buyers, retailers and distributors who are keen to further their knowledge of the Irish food sector which is worth more than €20billion to the economy. Read more.

Waterford Festival to Host 'A Taste of Brittany Market'
Storytelling Southeast – September 26 - 30
Storytelling Southeast, a festival in Dungarvan which has been developing its Celtic connections with the French region of Brittany where Storytelling is a popular culture, will this year for the first time host a 'Taste of Brittany' artisan food market.
From Thursday, September 27 to Saturday, September 29 the 'Bretagne Excellence' producers will feature at Dungarvan Castle with some of Waterford finest food producers creating a Celtic market of the first artisan foods at 'Village Breton'.
A not to be missed highlight of the festival takes place on Friday evening when the renowned French singer, storyteller and poet Giles Servat will host an audience at the Town Hall Theatre. And the final day of the festival offers families and story lovers a variety of events. An afternoon of free family fun day at Walton Park followed by a free live gig with American band Jason Serious. For further details see here

Cafe Paradiso
Now you're all nicely settled back into school, ROMM is back with some homework for you. Learn to make this sublime custard. The rewards will be heavenly. Someone will love you for it. Recipe

Ballyvolane House
Despite the wettest summer in 40 years, the house has been buzzing, the glamping has been in full-swing, the gardens have been blooming and exploding with veg and the weddings have gone well. ITV has also been filming here with actor James Nesbitt. He is presenting a travel show about Ireland - due to be broadcast in March 2013.
Check the Autumn highlights here

Milleens Cheese
Irish farmstead cheese making is the story of a great comeback, one told in Culture's autumn issue by writer Maggie Armstrong. Here's a glimpse at Irish cheese maker Veronica Steele's early days of production, before Milleens became the lauded name it is today: Milleens: the Humble Irish Beginning 
Veronica will be sharing her life philosophy with us at the Bandon Arts Festival on Sat 29 Sept 5.30pm in Urru. Details.


A Blueberry Mojito

October Beer Festival at Franciscan Well

Porcinis with a view!

Multi Colored Corn @ City of Falls Church Farmer's Market 

PICNIC PIZZA MUFFINS from Rozanne Stevens: This recipe is a real crowd pleaser with kids and adults alike loving to devour them. Picnic Pizza Muffins are the perfect picnic bag and lunch box filler, although they may be gobbled up before lunchtime! Get the recipe

Easy peasy Granola Recipe from Fernhill House Hotel Clonakilty 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Outstanding New Zealand Wines

Outstanding New Zealand Wines at Ballymaloe

Sunday afternoon’s trip to Ballymaloe  proved to be a very rewarding one. Not alone did we taste some terrific wines from New Zealand but we were entertained and educated by two of the beautiful country’s top winemakers, Larry McKenna of Escarpment and John Hancock of Trinity Hill.

Ironically both are Australian and went to High School together. They later combined in an early venture in New Zealand before going their separate ways. They are still great friends and a terrific combination at evenings such as this.

While John recognises the importance of terroir Larry, also known as Larry McPinot, is “unashamedly a terroiriste” and tries, very successfully, to emulate Burgundy.

The pair were introduced to the Grain Store audience by Anthony Tindal of the Tindal Wine Company, their distributors in Ireland. John told us that Trinity Hill has been established for just 15 years as he introduced the first pair of his wines.

The first up was the Hawkes Bay Pinot Gris 2011. Beautiful aromas, “Turkish delight!” John said. Even though the wine is a dry one, it has a magnicient texture and fullness and “makes food look good”. This is perhaps the best Pinot Gris I’ve tasted.

Then we tasted the Gimblett Gravels Viognier 2011, another standout wine and again one of the best Viogniers I’ve tasted. Loved its apricot and floral aromas, the rich and soft texture. John recommended trying it with Asian food.

The first of the Trinity Hill reds followed, a Hawkes Bay Merlot 2010, 87% Merlot to be exact, the balance of the blend shared between Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. This, with an abv of 14%, is “more about the fruit. It was a very successful year. This is good value and a great seller in New Zealand. Try it with lamb and rosemary.”

The next wine, the Gimblett Gravels ‘The Gimblett’ 2008, was built to last longer than the Merlot. Is uses the traditional five varieties of Bordeaux (Cab Sauv 43%, Merlot 41%, Petit Verdot 7%, Malbec 6& and Cab Franc 3%). 

“The fruit is from low yielding vines. It is more intense, more concentrated. It is made to age and needs it. It spends 18 months in oak, has good depth, is well balanced and will age for another five years. A food wine!"

All along the evening, the pair had some good discussions and good answers to questions from the audience. Larry told us that almost all the wine is made on the sheltered east coast as the NZ weather comes from the west, just like Ireland’s.

John explained that tannins come predominantly from the skins, also from the seeds and pips, and give the wine that grippy feeling while Larry said that, without tannins, wine has no backbone.

While Larry grows Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay on the Escarpment, the site is “a great place to grow Pinot Noir”. It is a bit of a Prima Donna – Larry described it as genetically instable – but he does very well with it, as his four examples underlined.

First up was Escarpment The Edge, Martinborough 2011. “No oak, simple..fruit driven..for immediate drinking.” Simple maybe but still full-bodied and with a lingering finish.

The Escarpment Pinot Noir, Martinborough 2010, was a “step up in quality” “it was a good year, very healthy grapes...we picked when we wanted to pick over a number of sites. This is what we call a district blend and a fantastic example of what we should be doing.”

The first two were good but the second two, each from a single vineyard, were even better, described as absolutely beautiful by Anthony Tindal and virtually everybody else I spoke to.

The Escarpment Te Rehua Pinot Noir, Martinborough 2010, showed how well Larry emulated Burgundy, though his site has its own characteristics of course. Made from 25 year old vines the wine showed unique complexity along with the usual black cherry and plum flavours.

Really good and then came another gem: Escarpment Kupe Pinot Noir, Martinborough 2010. “The density of planting in this vineyard, our oldest, is similar to Burgundy” and the wine was ”impressively velvety and supple...huge concentration of flavour...I am very happy with it..and really looking forward to seeing the Kupe in 25 years time!”

Nice stories too behind the labels and you can read all about them here. For more info on John’s wines check Trinity Hill.

Alain from the Vanilla Grape in Kenmare enjoyed his trip to Ballymaloe and he stocks the wines. There is a discount available at present and to see more about the wines in Ireland check Tindal Wines. Remember when using the internet that while a company may have with 100s of wines in stock, they may not all be listed on the site; sometimes you may have to phone.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

West Cork Suppliers on Show

Say cheese: Fooling around with Val Manning

West Cork Suppliers on Show

Some of the top food producers and suppliers in West Cork were gathered in the ballroom of the West Cork Hotel in Skibbereen last Wednesday as part of the week long A Taste of West Cork festival, specifically there in the morning so that the visiting chefs for the evening’s highlight, the Celtic Cook-off, could sample and choose from the produce.

Delighted to get an invite to the morning session and meet up with some old friends from the markets and also meet some new ones. Manning’s Emporium  from Ballylickey had a stand groaning with some of the best cheese around: Durrus, Coolea, Gubbeen, Fermoy etc. and Val and Andrew were in top form. More top notch cheese too at the Milleens stand where Quinlan Steele was on duty.

Frank Krawczyk, a citizen of the world who loves his West Cork home, is one of Ireland’s best known salami and sausage makers. Loved his Bresaola and his treatement of a shoulder of pork, both tasty and moist, not to mention his cured ham. Frank, based in Schull, gives regular demonstrations at Ballyvolane House and O’Brien’s Chop House.
Frank Krawczyk

Axel and Marye Miret are the couple behind West Cork Garlic  and their product was used by winning chef Garry O’Hanlon. Caroline Hennessy was on the 8 Degrees Brewing stand and she was displaying the full range of their popular beers. Saw the ale again on the Friday, on tap in Cork’s latest craft beer pub, the Hub in Anglesea Street.

Two of the four people on the Celtic Cook-off working group, Avril Allshire of Rosscarbery Recipes and Sally Barnes (“the greatest fish smoker in the country”, according to one Tom Doorley) of Woodcock Smokery were both busy at their stands.

Lingered also at the Skeaghanore West Cork Duck stand, for the conversation and also for a sample or two. Here they like to keep it simple, natural and additive free. Read all about this wonderful product here.

The chefs had been down to the coast earlier in the mornings so there was no fish stand in the ballroom but the sea wasn’t forgotten as we met Sally McKenna of Bridgestone Guides and Jim Kennedy of Atlantic Sea Kayaking.  They had a very impressive display from the sea and the shore including Dilisk, Carrageen Moss, Sea Spaghetti and Wrack and more. Tasty stuff too and Masterchef winner Tim Anderson was shopping there.

Got to most of the stands but missed out on a few, including Brown Envelope Seeds. All of the suppliers were back for the Cook-off in the evening and the stands were kept busy as hundreds of people squeezed in.

A few more producers came too, including Glenilen and Matson’s Wine and Food Store of Bandon who, with Searson’s, were supplying the matching wines for the cook-off meals. Matson’s are offering 20 per cent off on the show wines for the next while. I got a taste of one of them, the Vallado from the Douro, a terrific red, easy drinking and delicious.

All in all, a great experience that underlined once again the quantity and quality of the producers in the area. And, another thing, these are friendly folk. So why not put the festival in your diary for September 2013. You won’t regret it!

Cricket, Surf, Wine and Harvest Supper

Cricket, Surf, Wine and Harvest Supper
A Margaret River event at Ballymaloe
 Ballymaloe's Colm McCan tells me they have a special coming up at the end of the month:

"We are delighted to announce this unique wine, food, & sporting event, to take place on Thursday 27th September, at Ballymaloe House which connects two lovely coastal areas of the world - Margaret River, Western Australia and Shanagarry/Ballycotton Bay, East Cork.

Afternoon  - Cricket with the East Cork Cricket Club, in association with Cricket Ireland, who will give a demonstration on the lawn at Ballymaloe, and explain the rules of the game to all. Have a go yourself – ‘learn the basics whilst trying out the game’. There will also be a demonstration on the sport of kite surfing – linking in with the theme of the day – Margaret River comes to East Cork!"

Evening 7.00pm - Wine tasting & Harvest Supper
Enjoy a Margaret River wine tasting & presentation, with iconic Australian winemaker, David Hohnen, in The Grain Store, Ballymaloe featuring the wines of McHenry Hohnen, followed by Wildside’s Ted Berner’s ‘Fire-cooking’ Harvest Supper.

Thursday 27th September 2012 €35
Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, Co. Cork
Tel:             021 4652531
Harvest in Ballymaloe

Monday, September 17, 2012

Amuse Bouche

Amuse Bouche

Down from the mountains and over the Cross-river Bridge, villagers came with newly hatched chicks and ducklings in bamboo baskets, the first batch of edible ferns picked by the small hands of children with smaller children on their backs, deer that had not escaped the hunters’ buckshot and now came in disjointed forms: antlers, hides, jerky, bucks’ members labelled as deer whips and said to improve a man’s performance in his bedroom business.
-       From The Vagrants  by Yiyun Li

Outdoor Bliss at The Glebe Gardens Cafe

The Glebe Gardens Cafe
 Great to eat outdoors under the sun and even better to eat something special. I enjoyed just such an occasion last week in the Cafe at The Glebe Gardens in Baltimore, a terrific location with innovative cooking and very friendly staff.

They do have an indoors but we ate in a courtyard type setting, out there with the birds and the bees, the sun shining and the specials on the board. CL picked the special soup: Courgette, Pea and Mint (€6.00). The balance of the ingredients was finely judged and, along with some gorgeous bread, with seeds inside and out, it was a terrific start.

I was just as happy with mine, The 3 Fish Chowder (€8.00), a regular item on the menu. It was described as a large bowl of chowder. It sure was large and it was also top notch. Also got the seeded bread with that.

We both agreed on the main course: Goats Cheese, Quinoa and Herb fritters, served with a garden salad (the garden is behind the wall), and Glebe tomato and chilli jam (€9.50). Again, a terrific combination of ingredients with the spicy and herby bits enhancing, rather than overpowering, the main ingredients. Really top class and at a decent price.

We should have been satisfied at that point but with class cooking so far, there was no way we were going to skip dessert, especially since we had been tempted all along by that big blackboard on the opposite wall.

I picked the lovely Peach and Almond Tart, excellent and well balanced. But the best looking dessert was at the other side where CL was tucking into the Lemon Curd Meringue Cake, easy on the eye and so sweet to eat. “The best dessert I’ve ever had,” she declared. Begged a few spoonfuls and agreed it was something else. A pretty photograph for sure and a delightful dessert for certain. Each dessert cost a fiver.

We were in the area for the fabulous Taste of West Cork festival and the Glebe told us they were also taking part. A treat indeed for those lucky punters who booked their “From Plot to Plate Evening”. Watch out for that event next year but you’ll be welcome at The Glebe anytime. Not quite anytime – make sure to check the site  for opening times. Oh, one more thing: they don't accept credit cards. Highly recommended.

Friday, September 14, 2012

My take on the Celtic Cook-off

Clockwise from top left: John McKenna (MC), Stephane Delourme,  Jack Stein,  Tony Singh,
Ian Bennett ,   Butch Buttery,  Garry O'Hanlon

The Celtic chefs: their dishes and their thoughts
My take on the Celtic Cook-off

It looks as if all six Celtic Cook-off chefs enjoyed this week’s visit to West Cork and hopes are high that some of them will be back again, following the example of Roy Brett the 2011 champion.

Roy, whose restaurant is the Ondine in Edinburgh, was guest chef at the West Cork Hotel on Tuesday night where he displayed his talents with a fantastic meal called A Taste of Ondine, one of the highlights for the week.

But a highlight for Roy and he said as much at the Cook-off on Wednesday was the Secondary Schools Cookery Competition. “This was one of the best moments. We can learn from the children, the food is part of their blood. The winners, the Mercy Heights, were outstanding, the food was incredible. The kids here have a great knowledge of food.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Jack Stein who served up a dish of Monkfish Cheeks as his meal in the Cook-off. “Food, culture, music, all the same thing,” he said, echoing the words I heard not too long ago from Kay Harte of Cork’s Farmgate.

Interview by MC John McKenna, Stein went on to emphasise the part that these elements, food in particular, can play in improving local life and keeping the kids at home. “Good restaurants draw people in and extend the holiday season”. A point emphasised by the fact that the Stein organisation in Cornwall employs some 450 people!

Stephane Delourme (from Brittany) also works with the Stein company, at the Seafood Restaurant in Padstow. Before that he worked in Dublin and was a regular visitor to Baltimore which he loved. He has noticed a huge improvement in Irish food over the last 13 or 14 years. He served up a dish of Dover Sole with local mussels, vegetables and beans from Brittany.

There was a big welcome for Wales representative Ian Bennett (of the Welcome to Town Restaurant) and he spoke of a fairly similar food scene in his native country where his fisherman rings him from the boat and tells him what he has. “You can’t get fresher than that!” Not surprisingly, fish featured in his dish: Union Hall Turbot with mussels, parsnips and Stonewell cider. By the way, we weren't supplied with a list of ingredients for the dishes so my lists are not complete!

Garry O’Hanlon of the Viewmount House in Longford won the Cook-off with his Hill Lamb (loin), a current dish in the restaurant. Local vegetables and fried bone marrow featured in the dish as did the newish West Cork Garlic, treated with a little local honey. I liked Garry’s modus operandi: “Find the ingredients, then bounce from there.”

Tony Singh, the man who “brought cocktails to Edinburgh” is co-founder of that city’s acclaimed restaurant Oloroso. He said we had fantastic produce here and used lamb and langoustines, spicy potato and a minted herb salsa verde. MC John McKenna praised Tony for using the spices “with sympathy and knowledge”.

Baltimore seafood featured heavily in Butch Buttery’s dish. Among many other roles, Butch is chef and recipe consultant for the Manx Organic Network and Island Seafoods. Langoustines, lobster, prawns, mussels and monkfish, even Sally Barnes’ fabulous smoked haddock, not forgetting his Isle of Man scallops (each chef was allowed an ingredient from home) were all added to the Bisque type mix.

It looked well too with the langoustines attempting to escape the bowl. Butch though said that this wasn't a “dish to worship, get it in and get it down.”

‘It’s a tribute to the quality of our award-winning West Cork producers that top chefs are so willing to come to West Cork and cook with our world class food,’ said Neil Grant, manager of the West Cork Hotel. ‘All of this year’s competitors have been truly impressed by the produce available to us here and these are chefs at the top of their game, they don’t mince their words!’

“It is great festival, unbelievable the amount of voluntary work that goes into it. A massive thanks to the suppliers, sponsors, judges, to the chefs and to Roy Brett who has been a brilliant ambassador for us. Must also mention Fáilte Ireland, great backers and here in force this evening.”

Neil had praise for Clare Gallagher, chairperson of the organising committee, for Avril Allshire, and Sally Barnes and Stephen Sage, his colleagues on the Working Group. It was a very enjoyable evening, though I thought the visual delivery to the 200 plus audience in the ballroom lacked a bit but I’m told they are working on that for next year.

So onwards and upwards with the Celtic Cook-off. The more we pull together the further we will go!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Food and Drink Spotting

Food and Drink Spotting
Pictured at the announcement were Bernadette Byrne, Bord Bia, Ross Lewis, Chef, Chapter One and Florent Suplisson, Director of Bocuse d’Or

Irish Beef

Irish beef has been selected as a key ingredient for Bocuse d’Or, the esteemed French and world renowned, culinary competition. The Bocuse d’Or held every two years in Lyon, France, is regarded as the most challenging and prestigious haute cuisine cooking competition. The selection of Irish beef, following a rigorous and lengthy process by the Bocuse d’Or International Organisation Committee, was based on its grass fed nature meaning the product is of a high quality in terms of tenderness, taste and texture. Securing this much sought after accolade is an invaluable endorsement and recognition of Irish beef.
 Referred to as the Olympics of the culinary world, the Bocuse d’Or was pioneered and named after a 3 Star Michelin Chef, Paul Bocuse, in order to broaden the public’s understanding of the extraordinary dedication, practice and precision required to execute the very finest cuisine. Securing a place as a chef in the Bocuse d’Or Finals is an honour in its own right and involves months of preparation and planning whilst beating off stiff competition in the World Series of qualifying rounds and heats.
Much more on the Bocuse d’Or and our Irish beef here

The Steele Family, founders of Milleens Cheese and pioneers of cheese making in Ireland, will be at Bandon’s URRU on September 29th for a special event.
The Art of Living – in conversation with the Steele Family will take place as part of the Bandon Arts Festival on Saturday, September 29th at 5.30pm in Urru Culinary Store, McSwiney Quay, Bandon.

The around-the-table conversation will be led by West Cork based food writer Dianne Curtin and active audience participation will be encouraged. Milleens cheese based canapés and refreshments will be served.There is no entry charge for the event however as space is limited to 30 people early arrival is recommended.

Greene’s feed the Palace
Well, maybe not that royal palace, but McCurtain Street restaurant Green’s are stepping up to the plate in a big way this weekend to help their neighbours, The Everyman Palace Theatre. The Palace has a double Tom Murphy bill on this Saturday, one show (A Whistle in the Dark) at 3.00pm and a second (Conversations on a Homecoming) at 8.00pm).

Greene’s will help feed the assembled troops and will open an hour earlier (5pm) Saturday, to feed those of you who'd like to dine between watching the Druid Murphy double bill! That’s the way to do it. The more we pull together, the further we will go.

20 Nations To Compete In World Oyster Opening Championship
The Guinness World Oyster Opening Championship will take place on Saturday 29th September in the festival marquee, 12pm-7pm. The 58th Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival and will see contestants from 20 countries around the globe battle it out to become the 2012 World Champion! Tickets are €70 and include admission, half a dozen oysters, 2 tastes at the Food Village, a complimentary beverage and non-stop entertainment from 12pm-7pm.

Books and Food
If you like books and food, then Kilkenny’s Graignamanagh is the place to be on Sunday 23rd according to Twitter’s ‏@TownOfBooksFest. They have an artisan food & craft market on on the Sun 23rd (11.00am to 5.00pm), featuring chef @EdwardHayden. The bookfest by the way starts on the Friday and you may see the full programme here.

Ballymaloe’s Early Start

There is a 4.30pm start next Sunday for the New Zealand Wine Adventure at The Grain Store at Ballymaloe. The event features New Zealand winemakers Larry McKenna, Escarpment Wines, Martinborough & John Hancock, Trinity Hill Wines, Hawkes Bay. Meet the winemakers, listen to their story, and taste their wines over a tutored tasting. A great way to learn more about New Zealand and its wonderful wines. This Sunday, at 4.30pm. € 15 (includes wine presentation and wine tasting)

Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine tells me he has finally given in to the pressure: “I have been asked about a wine course for many years and while I have given them to larger groups on request, we haven't yet run our own in house course. The planned one will be a 5 week course. More details to follow but the basics - It will start some time in October (date TBC) and will cost €75. It will be on from 7.30-9pm in the warehouse but at least one of evenings we want to move the class near a kitchen and match some wines to food. All details will be posted up soon on our Facebook page ( give us a Like ) as well as in the shop and on the next newsletter.”


@tastewestfest  - Join us for a bite at Taste of Westfest Sat 15 & Sun 16 Sept, Newcastle West, Co Limerick - part of the Knights of Westfest Music extravaganza 12-16 Sept.

Meet the Goat this Saturday, 15th September, at Castlemary Farm, Cloyne; see how cheese is made from milk fresh from the goats and enjoy some tastings and a mini BBQ. Elke of @biasats filled me in: “Olive is our host for this event and she is looking forward to meeting you all. Price per person is €15 which includes tastings & BBQ as well as information about goats farming. Children are welcome and go free but as this is a working farm, need to be supervised. Please email to book your place.”

On Saturday 29th September 2012 - 8:00pm in the Temperance Hall, Emmet Street, Kinsale, go and see Betrayal,  A One Man Play By Bill Griffin, in support of Breakthrough Cancer Research. Not a food event, but a good cause.