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Friday, November 30, 2012

Yaso! Just what the doctor ordered.

Yaso. Just what the doctor ordered!
Yaso is the name of the god of healing in Greek mythology. It is also the name of one of the well priced well bred new wines from Cork importer Wine Alliance. 
Well bred? Yes indeed, the vineyard is owned by the Osborne family. No, not the heavy metal tribe. I’m talking about a vine respectability here: the owners are the Osbornes of Jerez. The Tonto de Toro (Tempranillo) vines that provide the fruit are in 40 year old vineyards in the South Eastern province of Zamora and the wines spend 6 months in French oak.
Yaso Tinto de Toro (Tempranillo), 2010 Toro (Spain), 13.5%, €12.00 to €14.00 Stockists 
Cherry red is the colour and there is a fairly concentrated red fruit nose. On the palate it is smooth, fruity, with light spice and a good finish. On the wallet, it is light to medium. Highly recommended.
The other recent additions to the Wine Alliance portfolio include Las Pizarras Si O Sy Syrah 2010 Calatayud (€10 to 12); Sembro Tempranillo 2011 Ribera Del Duero (€12 to 14); and the white (also from Osborne) Oropendola Verdejo 2011 Rueda (€13 to 15). 
Read the Toro background here 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Brendan Cashman to cook at CIT Charity Event


CIT ENTERTAINS FOR CHARITY WITH BRENDAN CASHMAN

Some of the audience at last year's
 event with Rory O'Connell
 CIT and the Department of Tourism and Hospitality are delighted to welcome back multi-award winning Chef Brendan Cashman to perform a seasonal-themed cookery demonstration on Wednesday, 5 December 2012 at 7.00pm.

The demonstration will take place in the Tourism and Hospitality Department and all proceeds will go to St Vincent de Paul (Cork).

Tickets cost €20 and are available from cookeryevents@cit.ie or by phone
 from Michelle Kelleher              021– 4335804      .

Food and Drink Spotting


Food and Drink Spotting
Taste of the Week!

A Winter’s Ale
I have a highly recommended seasonal beer for you today. It comes from Mitchelstown’s 8 Degrees Brewing and it called A Winter’s Ale and it is widely available.

They say “it will warm you from the inside out”. Not too sure about that but I certainly enjoyed this strong (7%) spiced darkish ale. The spices, which come via Green Saffron, do not dominate. Neither is there an overpowering aroma or flavours.

This is a really well balanced glassful, rich and rewarding, an excellent blend for the season. I suggest serving in and sipping from a wine glass. Top up from time to time to revive the head.

Ladies Lockdown!
On December 6th at The Rising Tide, there will be a Pre Christmas Food & Fashion Night for the Ladies! “There's a Kir Royale reception on arrival with make up tips and touch ups with Glamity Jane. Nails Inc will be on hand (literally) to do complimentary file & paints. We'll then serve up a stunning 4-course dinner while you enjoy the fashion from The Dress Bar & Verso. Tickets are limited and are €35 pp. — with Emer Lockdown Models and 4 others.”

Beat the Budget!
The folks in From Vineyards Direct have been on with their plan to beat the budget. “This time we expect a rise in duty on the 5th. So now is a great time to stock up with some of our delicious reds for all occasions.

Chateau La Cardonne is a perfect, plump big occasion party wine from the much lauded 2003 vintage.
Our fantastic house Claret, La Reserve 2009, made with merlot from St Emilion, which is not only a delicious party wine, but will fool your guests into thinking it's a far more expensive offering.
Finally, Chateau Trillol 2008 from Corbieres, our staff favourite from 2012 and recently awarded a Coup de Coeur in the Guide Hachette, France's wine Bible. Big, brambly and really delicious.”

Soup-er Friday
Cork Penny Dinners is set to benefit from a “Soup-er Friday” fundraiser being organised by award winning local Cork food company, Just Food, on Friday 30th November. Fifty cents from every Just Food soup pot sold in Cork on the day will be donated to this worthy cause.

A pop-up Just Food Soup stand, located outside Brown Thomas, will also sell soup to passers-by on the day, with all proceeds from these sales going to the charity. To coincide with this fundraiser, Cork businesses who don’t manage to get their hands on any of Just Food’s delicious soups, are invited to bring their lunch into work on the day and the money saved by doing this can also be donated to Cork Penny Dinners.

Donations can be made to Cork Penny Dinners via MyCharity.ie, by posting a cheque to Cork Penny Dinners, 4 Little Hanover Street, Cork City; or bank transfer to The Ulster Bank, 88 Patrick St, sort code 98-54-80, account no. 10927581.

For further details on “Soup-er Friday” and information on Just Food products, visit www.justfood.ie or www.corkpennydinners.ie

Shorts

Yesterday we got this tweet from ‏@Kajuiter
Want to make Traditional Irish White SodaBread ......Check out @poolchef30 http://bit.ly/WTamSx  #sodabread

No shortage of ideas for Christmas food here.

Mountain Dew gets a makeover. Check here.

Are you ready for General Tso’s chicken? Just click and check.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Blair’s Inn. Hot Food and Fire!

Blair’s Inn. Hot Food and Fire!



Hard to beat a seat by the fire these days, especially one by the fireside in Blair’s Inn where, in addition to the comfort (not to mention the craic), you have a fantastic choice of top nosh and beer.

Called in there yesterday for lunch and got that seat by the fire before settling down to study the fantastic menu, the beer menu that is. Lots of craft beer on draught and much more in bottle, including the new deliciously spiced A Winter’s Ale from 8 Degrees.



St Tola Goat Cheese Tartlet
I picked a pint of the draught Friar Weisse (Franciscan Well) and then began to study the other fantastic menu as the place began to fill up. No slack here on a Tuesday! No shortage of craic either. One diner was advised that drinking too much water could result in rust!

Some great producer names on the menu but when I saw two of them together, I couldn’t resist. My choice: Warm Salad of Ummera Smoked Chicken and Gubbeen Chorizo. Delicious. CL also hit the jackpot with a terrific plateful of Warm St Tola Goat Cheese Tart with smoked salmon and creamed leeks. 
Corned Beef.


Resisting the urge to try some seasonal game, we agreed on the mains which is a house special. It is the Silverside of O’Crualaoi’s Irish Corned Beef on a bed of champ served with cabbage and a parsley sauce, not to mention a side plate of veg and another of baked potato. You can’t go wrong with this one. Highly recommended.

Indeed, the Blair’s Inn experience is highly recommended. Some great choices here. About a half dozen starters, all served with their Black Rock Stout Brown Bread. Then you may choose from a dozen main courses. Not too sure about the desserts, as we didn’t get that far!

Riesling: Steel and Sweet.

Riesling. Steel and Sweet.
And a Stocco for the stocking.

Carl Ehrhard Rheingau 2009 Rudesheimer Riesling Kabinett Trocken 12.5%, €12.47 at Karwig Wines 

It has the colour of pale straw, with hints of green, micro-bubbles clinging to the glass. The nose finds white fruits, apples and lime for me. On the palate it is fruity and dry with a little minerally tingle (especially on the lips), yet overall it is a harmonious blend with a gorgeous steely finish fulfilling the initial promise. Very pleasant and easy drinking, more so with food, this 100% Riesling has that second glass appeal for sure. Highly recommended.

Willi Haag 2008 Mosel Riesling, 9%, €12.92 at Karwig Wines 

Light straw is the colour here and it also has that white fruit nose though low key. Delightfully fruity and concentrated and slightly sweetish, almost like a French Moelluex. Well-balanced and a good alternative to my preferred dry Riesling style. Diufferent strokes for different folks! Amazingly the estate has been “in family property” for over 500 years. The steep slopes are perfect for Riesling. Recommended.


Stocco Delle Venezia (IGT) Malvasia 2011, 13.5%, €12.99 at Deveney's (Dundrum) and Williams and Allen (Dundrum).

This Malvasía (rare to see it out on its own) is being distributed here by Distinctive Drinks, whose local rep is Paul Kiernan (@Grapes_Of_Sloth on Twitter). Malvasia originated in Greece and now is notable in the Med (often blended with Trebiano or Viura) and in California. The variety here is Malvasia Istriano, also well known in Croatia and Slovenia.

It has modest floral aromas and a straw colour. On the palate it is quite flavoursome, citrus, apricot and peach mainly; it has a fresh and pleasant mouthfeel and a decent dry finish. Quite pleasant overall and  it also makes a very nice Kir! Recommended.



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Beef 'n Turf. Mo Bros Cook Up A Storm!


MOVEMBER INVITES MO BROS TO ‘BRING IT ON HOME’ AND COOK UP A STORM WITH A COOKBOOK TO INSPIRE MEN TO THROW A DINNER PARTY

In 2010 Movember challenged Mo Bros around the country to have confidence in the kitchen, take pride in the meals they prepared and to ‘Cook like a Man’. In 2011 they ventured to the countryside and showed Mo Bros how to hunt, forage and fish for their supper with ‘Cook From The Land’. This year, Mo Bro chefs share their wisdom and knowledge with ‘Bring It On Home’- a new cookbook that encourages their fellow Mo Bros & Mo Sistas to celebrate Movember and host a dinner party during the month of Movember.

With a range of established expertise, the book hosts chefs from across the country who share their skills, tips and favourite dinner menus with their fellow moustachioed brethren and inspire them to host their own Mo inspired dinner parties. With delicious recipes the cookbook teaches men ‘if it’s worth doing – it’s worth doing right’ and to cook amazing meals with dishes that are tailored to help make hosting a dinner party simple – so more time can be spent around the table celebrating Movember and having fun.

Chefs from Diep Le Shaker, Ukiyo, Brooklodge, The Damson Diner and The Fumbally are just some of the many Mo Bro chefs who have shared their knowledge with mouth-watering recipes in ‘Bring It On Home’. Make your dinner party memorable with a beef bourgignon, BBQ prawns with piri piri, herb crusted john dory and a simple cheese fondue  and know that your guests will be blown away with your cooking prowess.

Not alone have we got the pretty pictures for you. We've also got the recipes right here

Movember, the month formerly known as November, is when brave and selfless men around the world grow a moustache, with the support of the women in their lives, to raise awareness and funds for men’s health - specifically prostate and testicular cancer. Donate at www.movember.com



White Gypsy Likes Her Food

White Gypsy Likes Her Food

American Pale Ale, 7.5%, 75cl bottle, €7.99 Bradley’s
Dark amber colour and a really bitter taste. Sufficient initial head soon reduces to a thin lacy cover. A really good balance of malt and hops (which they grow themselves). The bitterness doesn’t make your mouth pucker but it is obvious enough in the dry finish. Good body, made for food, and should perform ably at the table. Maybe that’s why I served it in a Reidel glass!

Tipperary Brewery White Gypsy, where Cuilan Loughnane is owner and brewer, intends this ale, one of a series of four beers, as a food beer and Cuilan says this is great with spicy dishes and grilled chicken. So you might well see it in restaurants in the near future and that would be no bad thing.

Russian Imperial Stout, 7%, 75cl bottle, €7.99 Bradley’s
Have been enjoying the excellent Irish craft stouts over the past 12 months and thought I might get on well with this one from its initial caramel aromas.
The ample head soon settled down to a see through cap but the toasty flavours remained intense and smoky right through to the dry finish.
The stout, like the ale, is part of a series, the big bottles aimed at the restaurant market. Indeed it, and the others, carry a food pairing recommendation. 
Didn’t have a steak handy for this one but did have a chunk of Gubbeen Smoked cheese. Like all good pairings, neither dominated and they proved a good match.

Also in the series (not tasted, yet!):
German Doppelbock 750ml  ABV:7.5%, A sweet malty beer with a juicy toffee finish. A perfect match for venison and roast pork and terrific with sweet vegetables.

Belgian Dubell 750ml  ABV:8%, A dry slightly spicy beer with a fruity finish. An excellent choice for grilled oily fish like tuna and salmon.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Discover the magic of Barnabrow


Discover the magic of Barnabrow

 Barnabrow House, a top wedding and Sunday lunch venue, reveals its magic little by little. Driving up the tree lined lane on a dark winter’s night, you might easily imagine a band of fairies at the weak edge of the headlight beams. In the morning, no imagination required, you will see a bunch of friendly donkeys, four generations, including a couple of this year’s foals.

Climb up a little higher behind the house towards the main restaurant, where the weddings are held, and lift your head and you will see a terrific view, over the neighbours in Ballymaloe, all the way to Ballycotton on the coast and its lighthouse winking in the grey morning light.


Lodge interior

Imagine this in the Spring and Summer. Then you begin to realise why the fairy of Cloyne based herself here, not that we did get to see the fairy fort. But there is so much else to see here, thanks to the magic, not to mention the hard work, of owner Geraldine Kidd who has been restoring and developing the ancient house and its surrounding acres over the past 16 years.

And the newest magic, and again hard work, is being supplied by recently installed head chef Stuart Bowes. His aim is to make everything on the table “as local, as organic and as fresh as possible”. We saw the motto put into super tasty reality in a stunning meal in one of the dining rooms in the house and you may read all about it here.

As part of a party of journalists and bloggers, we were welcomed warmly by Geraldine and her staff.  As we sipped the mulled wine, she explained that the place had been evolving for hundreds of years. After working in London, Geraldine came to visit Ballymaloe, saw the melons growing in the greenhouse, "an epiphany moment",  and signed up for a three months course.




Lodges

 She added to her cooking experience with a stint in the Arbutus and also worked with Denis Cotter of Café Paradiso and also in Midleton’s Farmgate. She bought it “very cheaply” in the mid 90s. It has proved very popular as a wedding venue.

After a candlelit breakfast, Geraldine and Stuart took us on a tour of the facility, which is on three levels, almost terraces. There are various accommodation units and at the top you have the large room where the weddings are held and directly in front there is a decked area from which you have the views over East Cork. It is an exclusive location and a bespoke service is offered to each bride and groom.

They can cater for up to wedding150 guests and, yes they can stay overnight, not in the house itself but in a dozen or so lodges nearby. And very impressive lodges they are. Can be used by non wedding guests as well.



All are individually furnished and very tastefully so, loads of space. The one we toured had a huge kitchen cum living room, a massive upstairs bedroom (double and 2 singles), and as much downstairs, including a four poster bed.




Wedding venue
The rooms in the main house itself are also individually furnished with different styles from traditional to bright and airy with a Mediterranean touch. Ours had its own touches, among them some old suitcases casually on the top of the wardrobe and a packed bookcase.



Accomodation
Indeed, the house itself can be something of a mystery to the first timer. Which door to use? In the room where we dined, you push a door and a bookcase revolves to meet you.

In the greenhouse
On our walkabout, we were accompanied by the dogs, and saw the donkeys and the walled garden where Stuart can get his grapes, organic purples ones. His know-how and a little pectin is added and hey presto you have a delectable purple jelly! More animals on view, including a goat and also some poultry wandering around. All so natural here.





And that about sums up Barnabrow, hidden behind the trees for most of the year. Just another farmhouse you might think but there is a magic at work here, the latest supplied by the accomplished young Scottish chef. Well worth a visit. Or two. One couple with us had been married here a few years ago and enjoyed the return to Barnabrow.

Introducing Chef Stuart Bowes at Barnabrow

Introducing Chef Stuart Bowes at Barnabrow

 Experienced Scottish chef Stuart Bowes is the new Head Chef at Barnabrow House  in East Cork and owner Geraldine Kidd introduced him to the media last week. Later Stuart introduced himself with a smashing dinner.

But first we met in the smaller kitchen of the big house, Geraldine’s own kitchen! She told us Stuart spent six years training at the Michelin starred Chapter One in the UK before embarking on a trip to Australia where he broadened his experience before coming to Cork to work in the Orchids restaurant in Hayfield Manor. He joined Barnabrow last June.

While doing a little demo in the kitchen, Stuart told us that “preparation is vital...helps get consistency..whether your group is 20 or 120.”

 While demoing his Rabbit dish that we would so enjoy later on, he spoke of a new experience at the wedding meals in Barnabrow, the shared platter, which we would also see later. “We give the couple the choice and so far two have taken the shared platter. The reaction has been great and we hope to do more with it.” Many see the platter as a good ice-breaker.

Having talked the talk, Stuart walked the walk, starting us off with Cork-a-leekie! That Scottish classic was given an East Cork twist by the proud Scot with Dan Aherne’s organic chicken and leeks from Barnabrow’s own walled garden.

Some of my tasty bits from the Shared Platter

Conversation was now flowing and that flow was further enhanced as the shared platter was passed around. The wines too were flowing and they also were top notch. I could go on and on with the superlatives but I think I’ll just let you have a look at rest of the menu now. Top produce and a top chef meant we were in foodie heaven for the very enjoyable candlelit evening meal.

Food to Share:
Platters of Barnabrow’s home smoked Mallard duck, Gulf stream oak smoked salmon, Rosscarbery’s free range pork, pistachio and cranberry terrine, jamon Serrano.
Barnabrow’s home grown and home pickled artichokes, roasted and marinated beetroot and garden leaves, Olive Hallinan’s Cloyne Goat Cheese accompanied by hazelnut dressing, fig puree, aged balsamic and Barnabrow basil pesto.
Homemade rosemary and onion focaccia, hot crusty bread rolls.
Wine: Domaine Emilian Gillet 2009 from Burgundy.

 Bitter Sweet Sorbet:
Gin and pink grapefruit sorbet tanged with their very own organic apple jelly, married with fresh cucumber.



Main Course:
Loin of East Cork wild rabbit, poached and roasted, with a pithivier of rabbit leg, Cloyne quince, Barnabrow walled garden spinach and 8 Degrees Ale jus.
Wine: Paddy Borthwick Pinot Noir 2010.

Dessert:
Coast meets culture. Stuart’s parfait of Irish Atlantic sea salt and caramel with Green Saffron spiced marshmallows and Valrhona chocolate sabayon.
Wine: Château Joly Cuvee Jean.

One magnificent meal. Perhaps the humble rabbit provided the highlight but then I wouldn’t want to miss either the Shared Platter or the Dessert. Great stuff, thanks to Geraldine, to Stuart and their lovely staff.




Thursday, November 22, 2012

Randall’s Court. A Star in Killarney.

Randall’s Court. A Star in Killarney.
National Park
Randall’s Court was my base for a recent two night stay in Killarney. Must say I was really impressed with this four star venue. Not just with its location but with the room, the staff, and the service all the way from check-in to check-out. There is some parking up by the hotel but there is an ample under-ground car park just off the road
Heavy duty curtain
 The room was top notch and so too were the well heated public spaces, no shortage of comfortable chairs and lounges. The dining room, split in two, is marvellous, really eye catching. And all over the hotel, there are paintings (even a mural in one part of the dining-room) and objects of old furniture that also catch the eye.
Hotel Terrace and view

Smoked salmon breakfast
Killarney is well situated to do the Ring of Kerry and is not too far away (75 minutes) from the fantastic Dingle peninsula. The hotel, just a few minutes’ walk from the town centre, is quite close to the National Park and its many lovely walks.
Comfort
 Didn’t get to eat dinner here but did enjoy a terrific meal in the Dromhall, the sister hotel next door. Breakfast though gave a good indication that quality and service are high here. You had everything needed for an excellent breakfast, hot or cold, even a mixture, and no shortage of friendly smiling people to help you ease in to the day.
Just in case!


Amuse Bouche



.....a Corkman’s testimony to the Irish Folklore Commission declared that even after the Great Hunger ended, “Old people said it was God’s will to have the famine come. They abused fine food when they had it aplenty.”

And if it were not God’s will, then it was the work of God’s dark opposite. It was said that an old woman of Rossport in County Mayo, returning home, saw her potatoes rotting and cried, “Oh, the Devil polluted all the potatoes last night. There is not a stalk standing.”

From Three Famines by Thomas Keneally.

Food and Drink Spotting

Food and Drink Spotting
Taste of the Week!
Mozzarella salad at Toons Bridge Cafe
Another Euro Beer goes stateside!
Duvel, the classic Belgian beer, is gone stateside. And old world aficionados, remembering what happened to the original bud, will be worried. Should they be? Read on.
“Last month, after years of wrangling and pleading, Belgian Duvel finally decided to unveil its long-secret recipe for the brewery’s premier golden ale. Duvel shipped the recipe to Ommegang, and the upstate New York brewer (now owned by Duvel) recast the golden ale recipe, which, despite its famous secrecy, is a pretty simple concoction.”

Waterford’s Winterval
The Winterval Festival in the medieval city of Waterford is keeping with a tradition established back in medieval times when end-of-year markets sprung up as social gatherings where people could enjoy a little excess before the onset of bitter weather.
A festive ‘Winterval Market’ will take over the heart of the medieval city where 60 beautifully decorated traditional log cabins will host an offering of the very best quality and range of goods in food, craft, wooden traditional toys and decorations throughout the Winterval festival, from November 30 to December 23, full details can be found here 

Market opening hours
Winterval Market at Cathedral Square
 
Fri. Nov. 30th to Sun. Dec. 2nd
Friday: 11am-9pm, Saturday: 10am-9pm, Sunday: 12.30pm - 8pm
Thurs. Dec. 6th to Sun Dec. 9th
Thursday & Friday: 11am-9pm, Saturday: 10am-9pm, Sunday: 12.30pm - 8pm
Thurs. Dec. 13th to Sun Dec. 23rd
Monday to Friday: 11am-9pm, Saturday: 10am-9pm, Sunday: 12.30pm - 8pm
 
 
Ardkeen Artisan Food Experience at Winterval
At Greyfriars Gallery
Fri. Nov. 30th to Sun. Dec. 2nd inclusive
 Thurs. Dec. 6th to Sun. Dec. 9th inclusive
 Thurs. Dec. 13th to Sun. Dec. 23rd inclusive
 
Dinner with a French wine maker
Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine has been in touch about Friday’s dinner in Fethard: 
“We are delighted to welcome Florent Chave over from the Irish owned, organic vineyard in Provence, Domaine des Anges. Tickets are only €40 and that includes all of the food and the wines. We will be matching their great wines to some fine foods. There is a strong rumour that there will be music in the bar afterwards as well, so bring a song. This sold out last year, so buy tickets online, in the shop or at McCarthy’s itself.”

Shorts
Ummera at Christmas
Christmas Orders for Smoked Organic Salmon..Find your local stockist..Keep in touch....all the latest from Ummera right here 

Scallops with Pastis!
French restaurant Cafe Portebleue for  the Charente are among my latest followers on Twitter.  ‏@cafe_portebleue. They have some promising recipes on the site and this one caught my eye. Seared scallops with pan fried lardons flambéed in pastis. Try it and love it!  

Fermoy
The lucky folks in the Fermoy area will soon have a Gastro-pub in which to enjoy the very best of local ingredients served up to a very high standard indeed. Watch this space!

Mercy Fenton Demo for Charity
Deirdre of ‏@DeesWholefoods tells me that Chef Mercy Fenton will be doing a cookery demo at the Cork City Indoor Night Market this Friday (23rd) as part of a fundraising night for Marymount. More info here. 

Mille Feuille at El Urogallo in Madrid
Irresistible, via my Foodspotting friend Coronaburg. “Layers and layers of crispy pastry puff all joined by a luscious pastry cream side and gooey rich whipped cream. This is their signature dessert, I have tried all of their desserts and this is their very best one!!!! CCC, since you came looking for dessert earlier today this is dedicated just for you!!! Lol!!!” http://www.foodspotting.com/coronaburg/reviews

Glenilen Farm
“We have slightly changed our cheesecakes, they are still the same recipe as when we started all those years ago but they are now a little smaller and for a smaller price. They also have some new packaging which we hope you like, so let us know what you think!! Visit www.glenilenfarm.com for more details!”

Christmas Recipes


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Champagne Dinner at Greene’s

Champagne Dinner at Greene’s
Bruno Paillard comes to town
A dinner with a difference at Greene’s of McCurtain Street this week. Not alone was champagne served with each course but it was also used as an ingredient in each.

This marriage of the wine-making skills at Bruno Paillard and the cooking skills of Green’s French chef Frederic Desormeaux meant we enjoyed a super evening.

Scallop
François Colas of Bruno Paillard, who kept us informed on the wines, was loud in his praise of Fred afterwards: “He was able to read the wines, especially with the dessert.”

Fred was much too modest to take all the praise for himself and introduced us to his sous chef Veronica and also to Nicky, the man responsible for the excellent dessert.

Turbo
The evening got off to a terrific  start with a warm greeting from Sylvia and Collette of Greene’s and a glass of bubbly poured by Searson’s Damien Archer-Good (the man who covers Waterford, Cork and Kerry for the company). Not just any bubbly, mind you. This was the Brut Premier Cuvée, full bodied, well flavoured and balanced, all elegance in the glass and on the palate.

The starter was Pan-Fried King’s Scallops on Julienne of Leeks and Carrots, “Blanc de Blancs” Beurre Nantais. Under “directions” from Francois, we had a sip of the second wine, before we took a bite and the Blanc de Blancs Réserve Privée did seem a little on the austere side.

But all that changed when we had a bite of the scallop and another sip. Now it had a different personality and we could endorse the opinion of a certain Robert Parker: “A fresh, bright sparkler, it will be found particularly successful if paired with food.”


Choucroute de la Mer
Two fish courses followed and gave us the opportunity to sample the first two wines again and, more importantly, to appreciate the different qualities of each. The Blanc de Blanc is 100% Chardonnay while the Brut is 22% Pinot Meunier, 33% Chardonnay and 22% Pinot Noir.

The first fish course was Grilled Turbot served with baby carrots, baby fennel, baby courgette, baby leeks gratinated with “Rosé Premiere Cuvée” Hollandaise. Superb.

The second, which provided a stiffer challenge for the champagne, was Choucroute de la Mer: Monkfish, Natural Smoked Haddock, Mussels, Langoustine, Sauerkraut cabbage, Baby Turned potatoes, finished with Cream “Blanc de Blancs”. Some strong flavours there, especially from the haddock and the lovely sauerkraut, but the champagne was well up to it.

Dessert
Fred and Veronica
 And then for that desert: Winter Berries and “Rose Premiere Cuvee” Jelly, topped with raspberries Sorbet, Tuile. An absolute gorgeous desert and it went so well with the Rosé Premiere Cuvée, “a very hard wine to get consistent” according to Francois.

It is produced from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay “in secret proportions” and a rather difficult technical process gives its “unique fruity flavour and gorgeous copper-gold hue”. It has inviting red fruit aromas; even if blindfolded, you’ll know you have a rosé in your hand! And the palate is fruity and fresh. It is dry of course and hence the need to avoid serving it with sweet desserts. Fred and Nicky read that info correctly to come up with the perfect match!

Bruno Gaillard, who sold his car (a big one) to start making champagne in 1989, is a “baby” in the history of the famous wine but a baby who has made a major impact. Read more of the fascinating story here 


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kayne’s Bistro at the Dromhall Hotel

Kayne’s Bistro at the Dromhall Hotel

 Called into Kayne’s Bistro at the Dromhall Hotel recently and enjoyed an excellent evening meal there. Was staying at the adjacent Randle’s Court and strolled over on a Saturday for a 7.00pm reservation and got a warm welcome. Soon we were comfortably seated and enjoying the rapport with a very friendly and helpful staff.

Started off with their €7.95 Signature Salad ((described as Fresh herb salad, sun blushed tomatoes, pine nuts (missing), crisp croutons (missing), roasted peppers)) with a Balsamic dressing and Char-grilled chicken added. Very enjoyable indeed, also quite substantial, and didn’t really notice the absence of the pine nuts and crisp croutons.
 Then onto to the Plat Principal, the Grilled Irish Prime Beef fillet (€26.95) served with champ potato, garlic butter, and crisp onion rings, and sautéed mushrooms. Not to mention a side dish of gorgeous seasonal vegetables. The steak was excellent, done to perfection and to order.
 Dessert? Well why not? Hung for a sheep as... Each cost €6.95 and the one I picked was the Lemon Tart (a lemon flavoured chilled crème anglaise on a sweet pastry base). Just the sweet job, delicious.


Had been sipping a bottle of a pleasant South African Merlot (Libertas 2010 €24.50) all the way through and finished off with a pot of green tea before heading downstairs to the bar and the music. Enjoyable evening all round in a highly recommended venue.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Fabulous Fleming’s

Fabulous Fleming’s
Foie Gras
Enjoyed the most perfect dinner in Fleming’s  last week. Game, as you know, is now in season and featured on the menu. But there was so much more besides.

Eileen and husband Michael, now an Award Winning Chef Patron with vast experience, took over the Georgian building in Tivoli in 1989 and gradually set about restoring it while at the same time building up a restaurant. Eileen took us to our table in one of the two comfortable rooms that combine to make a lovely dining space.

From quite a range of tempting starters, CL choose the Foie Gras, served hot with Timoleague Black pudding, glazed apple and Pineau de Charente Sauce. Ate a lot of Foie Gras in the Dordogne a few years back but nothing to match this!
Rabbit

I too enjoyed a very special starter: Roast stuffed saddle of rabbit with a plum compote and a light grain mustard sauce. Rabbit, tender and tasty, never tasted like this before.


Sorbet
We were up and running to a very high standard. Shouldn’t have been surprised. Michael: “I’m not media –focused. I’m kitchen –focused.” But he is highly regarded by his fellow chefs and you may read a bit about him here.

While waiting for the mains, we were treated to a couple of surprises. One was a Cappuccino of Wild Mushroom and the other an eye catching Champagne Sorbet with passion fruit and a sweet balsamic.


Venison

Now we were ready for the Plat de résistance, not that there was any resistance. I went for the Roast Loin of Venison, poached pear, venison sausage and a port sauce. Just perfect. The Loin was medium as requested and spot on, so tender and falvoursome, while the sausage provided a contrasting texture, all enhanced by the pear and gorgeous sauce, not to mention a glass of the smoothest Tempranillo from Navarre.

CL too enjoyed contrasting textures with her Roast Duck Breast and Duck Leg Confit, compote of fresh orange and a Grand Marnier jus. What a brilliant combination, every element cooked to perfection. Another prefect dish!

Duck


Sabyonne

 After all that, CL was thinking she’d have a light dessert, perhaps the first one that featured fresh fruit. Quelle surprise! We just weren’t prepared for the stunning plate that came to the table as the Sabyonne des Fruits was presented. It is an Italian dessert of Fresh Fruits with a glazed Sabyonne, sweet Sauterne wine and Grand Marnier. Gorgeous even if the egg yolk made the mix a little more filling than anticipated!

Mine, if anything, was somewhat lighter than expected but I wasn’t complaining as I spooned in my Warm Rich Soft Centered Chocolate Fondant with Crème Anglaise and Vanilla Ice Cream, all the while sipping a little Champagne as did my partner in crime!

 And so a fantastic evening in a fantastic place came to a lovely end. With Eileen heading the team, service was friendly and so well timed all through. It is a lovely space with comfortable chairs and heavy linen on the tables and with, the fantastic cooking of Michael and his team, you won’t be disappointed. If you want the best in town, this is the place to go!

* See earlier post on Christmas specials at Flemings here.