Thursday, February 28, 2013

Food and Drink Spotting

Food and Drink Spotting

Folláin No Added Sugar Jams
Couldn’t have been better timed by the folks at Folláin. A couple of samples of their new No Added Sugar Range of jams arrived in the post this morning, just as my previous marmalade reached the end of the jar. Luckily, they had included Marmalade and that pot got an immediate test! And passed, with flying colours.

Like the jams in the range, the marmalade has no sugar added. Only the natural sweetness of concentrated grape juice is used. This natural grape juice sweetness produces a delicious fresh taste! And that trademark tang of the orange is still there. And the blackcurrant is brilliant also, a terrific balance of tasty fruit and flavour

The No Added Sugar range includes that Orange Marmalade and the following jams: Blackcurrant, Blackberry, Raspberry, Strawberry, Rhubarb & Vanilla and Apricot. Must get my hands on the Blackberry (my favourite of the regular range) and also on the Apricot which has won the Gold Medal at the UK Great Taste Awards!

Health & Nutrition: When it comes to eating healthy, Folláin No Added Sugar and Salt range of preserves and relishes are very convenient for those wishing to reduce the salt and sugar content of their diet. They are also recommended for diabetics wishing to use a no added sugar jam or marmalade. The Folláin No Added Sugar/Salt Range are 100% natural, made from fresh fruit prepared meticulously by hand and contain no added sugar, no artificial colours or preservatives and are sweetened naturally with grape juice. They are also gluten free.

“15 grams of Folláin No Added Sugar jam or marmalade only contains approximately 25 kcal and 5 grams of carbohydrate. Compare this with a normal jam or marmalade where a similar amount (15 grams) contains approximately 40kcal and 10 grams of carbohydrate.”

For lots of info on Folláin Preserves (they also do some great relishes), and more info from their consultant nutritionist Niamh O’Connor, check out their website here . They also have a lively Facebook page with lots of recipes (just in case you thought jam was something you just spread on bread) and the link is

Celebration Stout

I am constantly trying to find an ale that I can really call my own but, almost effortlessly, I keep finding great stouts. The latest is the Porterhouse Celebration Stout (Imperial Irish Stout), available in bottle (33cl) in Bradley’s. North Main Street, Cork.

This is just the job. It comes with a lasting creamy head with a smooth flavoursome body and quite a dry finish. What’s not to like? Well, maybe a bigger bottle. Then again, it is 7% abv.

Treyvaud's Restaurant

Treyvauds is located in Killarney Co Kerry and one of Munster's leading restaurant. Paul Treyvaud has set up their own video channel. “We like to show you how to cook amazing food but also how to make it fun. Join us and please subscribe to ...

Killavullen Farmers' Market (via Facebook)

Next Farmers Market is this coming Saturday, March 2, at 10.30am. “We're under cover so don't let the threat of wet weather stop you from coming out!! We would love to see you.”

IKEA Meatballs (from Australia)

Bia Sásta via Facebook

A garden workshop is coming up @ The Cottage (headquarter of Bia Sásta) on 23rd March. Learn how to grow your own vegetables, the easy way. Tips & tricks from a pro - Kitty Scully. Email for further details

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Baltimore’s Saddleback Pig Company

Baltimore’s Saddleback Pig Company

Got a pleasant surprise on a recent trip to the Bandon Farmers Market when I came across the Saddleback Pig Company from Baltimore. Stopped to have a look at the joints, the rashers and the sausages and soon had a hot piece of sausage in my hand as a sample. Gorgeous stuff, full of great flavours and a lovely supple texture, real meat.

Got a pack of the sausages, a new mix: gluten free sausages 100% pork,  cracked black pepper, cumin, oregano, sweet smoked paprika and garlic.  Very tasty indeed and they sold out last Saturday! So get to Bandon early this Saturday or maybe Clon on the Friday.

Had a chat with Nathan Hall who is very proud of his small family run farm at Rath Hill on Baltimore: “We are a small family run farm situated specialising in the breeding and rearing of rare breed Saddleback pigs. Though only a small business we concentrate on the welfare of all our pigs which are reared and run outside where they are free to root and forage. Our pigs are raised on a diet of mainly vegetables and rolled barley which are chemical free and do not contain any growth enhancers allowing the pigs to mature over a longer period of time giving the meat a fuller flavour.”

Their Dry cured bacon is naturally smoked or unsmoked in a cure made up of sea salt, raw cane sugar and a mixture of herbs and spices. Hams are produced in a brine of white wine, rosemary, bay, thyme, pepper and juniper. All cuts of pork are available fresh or frozen. And they certainly looked great on the stall in Bandon.

You can find them at Clonakilty Farmers Market every Friday and in Bandon Farmers Market every Saturday. Find out much more about them on their Facebook page.

Location: Rath Hill, Baltimore Co. Cork.
Phone 086 2633219.

The Ring Of Cork

Secad Event To Highlight ‘Ring Of Cork’ Brand

Branding Experts to discuss the value of “Ring of Cork” brand.
Cobh, Co. Cork

Leading brand champions will convene to discuss the importance of the Ring of Cork brand for the Region at an event organised by the South and East Cork Area Development company (SECAD) on Monday, 4 March 2013 at 7:30pm in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Little Island.

The aim of the event, which is open to all and free to attend, is to promote the opportunity of extending the Ring of Cork brand to include; tourism, hospitality, adventure, food and craft businesses in the Region.

“We launched the first phase of the Ring of Cork brand last year with good success”, explains Ryan Howard, CEO SECAD.  “The focus of that initial phase was the tourism and hospitality sector, and now we are looking to push the brand out to the next level and incorporate the food and craft industry along with tourism.  We feel branding the South and East Cork area of Cork can add real value and attract more business and more trade for our Region.  We are extending an open invitation for any business in the Region to attend this important event to understand the appetite for this branding exercise, which should ultimately have a very positive impact on the Region”.

The impressive line-up of speakers at the event promises to provide real food for thought in relation to branding the Region.  Cormac Fitzgerald of The Blue Haven Collection will address the event about his experience of developing a food business and the benefits of being part of a regional branding initiative – West Cork’s Fuchsia brand.

Leading retail brand, the Kilkenny Group, is no stranger to the importance of building a strong brand to drive success in business.  Gregory O’Gorman, Marketing Manager at Kilkenny Group, will talk about the experience of building a brand, and how he would envisage Kilkenny working the Ring of Cork brand for the benefit of the Region.

As members of South and East Cork Tourism and Ring of Cork initiative, Trabolgan Holiday Village’s marketing manager Deirdre Mannion will speak about the value of being part of a network, and the opportunities that the brand ‘Ring of Cork’ presents in the industry.

Speaking at the launch of Ring of Cork last year, Minister for Agriculture, Food & Marine, Simon Coveney T.D., welcomed the new brand by saying: “This is a very positive development for the South and East Cork area, and will serve to attract national and international visitors to this region, which has so much to offer.  The Ring of Cork is particularly important as it encourages visitors to explore this ring of Cork from wonderful sites of cultural importance, marine activities, scenic trips, festivals and family activities, to great food and fun.”

The Ring of Cork includes the towns of Cobh, Midleton, Youghal, Carrigaline, and Ballincollig and their surrounding areas, and is supported by the South and East Cork Area Development organisation (SECAD) as well as the town councils of Cobh, Midleton and Youghal.
For registration, please contact Liam Fitzgerald at SECAD, 021.4631432, and visit for more information.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bandon Farmers Market

Bandon Farmers Market
Baking Emporium

Finders Inn
 Enjoyed a refreshing visit to the Bandon Farmers Market recently, refreshing mainly because I hadn’t seen many of the stalls anywhere else before. Enjoyed meeting up with, for instance, Nathan Wall of the Saddleback Pig Company, the Big Cheese herself and the Hungry Hill granolas.
The Big Cheese

The Market was set up in 2006 by a voluntary committee, who shared a love of good food, to supply a wealth of local and artisan produce to the residents of Bandon and the surrounding area. Early every Saturday morning the car park of the Old Market Garden buzzes with the activity of stalls setting up and the first customers arriving. Fruit, Vegetables, Fish, Cheese, Chocolate, and Cakes are among the many delights and you may warm up these days with a hot coffee.
Heavens Cakes
 Quite a selection of smoked cheeses available and got two big chunks for a fiver, included a delicious extra mature Carbery. Then a call to Nathan and also to Finders Inn for their excellent Ratatouille mix.

Baking Emporium's Apple Strudel
 No shortage of cakes or breads. Indeed, Heaven’s Cakes, well known in the English Market, are based in Bandon and, in addition to the cakes, have some smashing loaves available on Saturdays. The Baking Emporium is well known in West Cork and their Apple Strudel caught my eye. Next door was the Hungry Hill stand. Had a sample or two here before purchasing.
Yeast loaves by Heaven's Cakes
Lots of other stands here, including vegetables (from Ballycotton and The Hollies), fish from Baltimore (always a queue for fish), The Olive Stall, an Italian stall, an Asian one and more. See the full list here

Monday, February 25, 2013

Davitt’s of Kenmare, an excellent base

 Davitt’s of Kenmare, an excellent base
Kenmare in the evening
 Spent a few days in Kenmare recently. I was based in Davitt’s  in Henry Street and am glad to say it was a delight to stay there. We had a lovely welcome and our upstairs room, away from the street, was spacious and, with two big skylights, quite bright as was the spotless bathroom. Just in case you don’t like too much light, I’d better let you know the windows had pull-down blackout blinds!
Kenmare in the evening (2)
We had prior dining arrangements for the evenings but thoroughly enjoyed our breakfasts, not least the friendly chats with Mary. She told us that they have been there about 14 years. The well kept place, which also includes a restaurant and bar, is a credit to them. The feeling of space applies throughout and even the corridors along the different flights of bedrooms are well lit compared to higher classed accommodation. Just to finish off about the breakfasts, I must say that the choices were huge, everything from the Full Irish to cereals and seeds and yoghurts and fruits and juices, virtually anything you’d want really.

Parking was no problem to us in the middle of February but could be one later in the year, though that applies to Kenmare as a whole. Davitt’s do have a small area at the back and we used that all the time but it is really small. The parking on-street is by meter and there are some good car parks not too far away. Still, if you’re hauling cases, go to the back if you’re not lucky enough to get a spot on the street outside.

Kenmare in the morning
Kenmare itself is a lively town with some great hotels and restaurants, more than you’d think. It is also a terrific base for local touring. Indeed, it gives you a gateway both to the Ring of Kerry and to the Ring of Beara. Walking, cycling or driving, you’ll be well placed for some of the best scenery in Ireland.

And watch out too for terrific local festivals. Mary was very enthusiastic about the traditional gathering there on the 15th of August and a newer one, the Kenmare Food Carnival , is also attracting the crowds and this year’s event is scheduled for the 12th to 14th of July.

By the way, if you need a taxi while in Kenmare, you could try A1 Taxis (087 2910584 and 087 3560011). Davitt's booked them for us for one trip and we found them friendly and efficient and their fares seemed reasonable.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Fatty Wangs – best for salted jackass!

Fatty Wangs – best for salted jackass!

A[Cock by CorkBilly
Chief Chowzter

Just to let you guys know – I’ve got a brand new hangout on the net. No, it’s not Fatty Wangs. It’s a new up and coming foodie app called Chowzter and its aim is to provide the punter with a regularly updated list of the best dishes in the area. Chains and chandeliers are ruled out but that leaves a lot of good food in between. 

Chowzter is just taking its first steps but already regions such as North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe and Africa are represented. Europe is possibly under-represented at the moment but still cities from Brighton to Seville are covered and so too is Cork (where I come into the picture).

Chowzter is committed to finding the tastiest food item on earth each year. “We seek out and support the local independent food purveyor and locally sourced ingredients.” Read the short mission statement here

While we are waiting for the full lift-off, Chowzter has been having some fun with its bloggers. Latest team effort has been an attempt to find the best sandwich in the world. There have been nominations from all over: Train Wreck Po Boy from Philly, the Hire Katsu Sando from Tokyo, the Vietnamese Sandwich from Saigon, the Choripán from Argentina, theKoKoreç from Istanbul. And then that Donkey sandwich from Beijing!

I’ll let Lillian Chou explain:

“I'm in Palawan now but back in Beijing tomorrow and will say the Shanxi ‘roujiamo’ which is available all over Beijing as a locally made bread that is stuffed with slow braised fatty pork shoulder that’s hand chopped while cooking liquid is slowly ladled onto the meat to keep it moist, then fresh green pepper (sweet) and cilantro is mixed in and it goes into the bun. In some restos, you can order extra fatty or regular lean.

Another option which is simply stunning is the Donkey sandwich. Yes, sliced salted jackass is piled on a crisp handmade bun that's been split open and piled with cilantro. The result is something like a corned beef because it's either room temp or slightly warm and the biggest surprise that's delish. The best shop is Fatty Wang's.”

So there you go! Might not be able to get you a Donkey Sandwich here, though the way things are going, better never say never. But we’ll do our best to bring you the best dishes locally.

Coming soon: Bordeaux to Ballymaloe

Visit of Jean-Charles Cazes, of Chateau Lynch-Bages, Pauillac, Bordeaux, and the Cazes Family Selection Wines, to Ballymaloe on Sunday, 10th March 2013
The Grain Store, Ballymaloe, 6.30pm, Sunday 10th March €18

Wine tasting & presentation, by Jean Charles Cazes, showing a selection of different wines from the Cazes Family Selection wines, including Chateau Lynch-Bages. Advance booking strongly advised. Special rates also available for accommodation.

Colm McCan of Ballymaloe: "We are delighted to be welcoming Jean-Charles to Ballymaloe, in association with Michael Barry and all the team at Barry & Fitzwilliam. 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. 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."

 (The tasting and presentation in The Grain Store is followed by a wine dinner in the dining room in Ballymaloe House, with Jean Charles Cazes, showing a selection of wines from the Cazes Family Selection wines, including Chateau Lynch-Bages, at Ballymaloe House 8.30pm €95 **Please note, the dinner is now waitlisted– but please do leave details if you would like to be contacted in case there are cancellations (there are still places available for the presentation |& tasting in the Grain Store at 6.30pm) **)

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 many other ‘Irish Wine Geese’ winemakers from all over the wine world, ‘flying home’ Further details here on this link:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Amuse Bouche

He stowed a bottle of the local rotgut called Five Island Gin – nicknamed Five Ulcer Gin – in radioman Harry Brooks’s gas mask holster. When an MP* tapped Brooks’s hip to check for the mask, the bottle broke and left Brooks with a soggy leg. It was probably for the best. Louie noticed that when he drank the stuff, his chest hair spontaneously fell out. He later discovered that Five Island Gin was often used as a paint thinner. After that, he stuck to beer.
- From Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.
* Military Policeman.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Treyvaud’s, a Killarney Gem

Treyvaud’s, a Killarney Gem

Treyvaud’s is a gem among Kerry restaurants, a friendly place, noted for its fantastic game night. Paul is the friendly face of Treyvaud’s, starring in numerous food videos on You Tube  (in one, he takes a chain saw to a deer carcase!) and also the author of a book about the business. Paul and brother Mark run the High Street restaurant that is open for both lunch and dinner.

Walked in the last Saturday at lunch-time and thought we’d be on our own, the main reason being that at least half the town were up the country supporting the local football team. But Paul was expecting them back that evening as bookings were strong. And, as it turned out, numbers at lunch also picked up.

There were three of us, including one local who likes the place and says she never has any fear of recommending it. And as we went through the meal, we could see why.

The two ladies started with the soup (5.95) while I choose the Chowder (7.50). This was described as Fresh Seafood Chowder with a melody of shrimp, mussels, and salmon served with homemade bread By the time I reached the end of the deep bowl, I was singing the praises of this gorgeous “melody”.

The Lunch Menu is divided in various sections, including Nibbles, Sambos, Mark’s Specials and Tasty Salads. Treyvaud’s Fish Cakes (with wholegrain mustard and garlic Aioli) lurked among the Nibbles and were promptly seized upon by the two ladies and that meant I had two happy diners alongside me.

I was really tempted by the four dishes under Mark’s Specials and eventually picked the first: Treyvaud’s Homemade pie with Mashed Potato. Some beautiful meat here under a perfect cover of spud, quantity and quality combined to make yet another happy customer.

We had started with some very tasty breads and finished off the very enjoyable meal with excellent coffees.
So, if you ever find yourself wandering around Killarney looking for food, I can certainly recommend Treyvauds.

62 High Street
Killarney, Co Kerry
Phone (064) 663 3062
Mon: 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Tue - Thu: 12:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Fri - Sat: 12:00 pm - 10:30 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm - 10:00 pm

Yalumba’s Ferrari wows Cork Supper Club

Yalumba’s Ferrari wows Cork Supper Club
Yalumba’s Jane Ferrari was the star of the show at the O’Donovan Off Licence Cork Supper Club in Club Brasserie this week. The well travelled Aussie had some great wines from the venerable but vibrant Barossa winery and some terrific yarns and observations from her years there and on the road.

Well she did say it was full of spring blossom!
Gary O’Donovan opened the evening, welcoming one and all to the "continuing adventure" that wine is. Don’t get stuck in a groove was Gary’s advice and promised that the evening would be a great chance to try something new. And so it proved.

We had been welcomed with a choice of either the Y series Vermentino (2011) or the Merlot (also 2011) and then had three tasting before the multi-course meal began.
Loved the Organic South Australian Viognier (2011) and the excellent Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling (2010) but really fell for the Organic South Australian Shiraz 2011 (and just picked up my order at the local branch today!).

Founded 1849
Jane, in her admittedly “ugly broad Australian accent”, told us that Yalumba was founded in 1849, that she herself started in winemaking and has worked in every part of the business. Ten years ago, she started on the road, selling Yalumba all over the world.

It wasn't always easy for the Smith family, the Yalumba owners. Nor for their employees! Back in the tough times of the 80s, the winery was at risk, saved only by an agreed four year pay pause. Apparently, that particular piece of austerity paid off.

It was a very enjoyable evening in Club Brasserie. The courses flowed and so too did the wines with the starters accompanied by a smashing Chardonnay, this the Eden Valley Wild Ferment 2009.

 Some serious stuff followed. Those that took the fish course, were served the Yalumba The Virgilius Viognier 2008, “a wine of finesse, opulence with layers of complexity and lusciousness”, yet all in a restrained combination.

Those eating the steak enjoyed the Signature Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz (2008). “This is my favourite of the things we do,” said Jane, telling us that the signature is of a different person each year.

This one belongs to Judy Argent who came to work there for her summer holidays in 1977 and is still there. It is a magnificent wine, combining great power and elegance.

And still more wine followed. The Cheese plate was matched with the soft and fruity characteristics of the Menzies Coonawarra Cabernet 2003 while the dessert came with the “sticky”, The Yalumba Museum Muscat.

The very pleasant evening ended on a light note, not that it was ever heavy, when Gary tried to “dig” a little deeper to see what Jane really thinks. Oh by the way, we never had a problem with that ugly broad accent and everyone loved her broad sense of humour.

Gary asked her what her favourite thing about New Zealand was. “Leaving,” was the lightning response. Her favourite politician? “The best looking.” He also quizzed her on her “crush” on Ronan O’Gara. She confirmed that it was still alive and kicking, just like the international career of the player himself, “there is life in the old dog yet” she said.

Then it was off to bed for Jane though not before she managed a few paragraphs in her blog. Check it out here.

This was a terrific wine evening, thanks to Jane, to O’Donovan’s team and to Brian Hogan of Cassidy Wine Merchants and to Club Brasserie. Keep an eye on O’Donovan’s Facebook page for future events.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Food and Drink Spotting

Food and Drink Spotting

Curious Crush

Just been working my way through the Spring edition of First Crush, the Curious Wine Club Magazine. The cover makes it plain that the Kinsale Road outfit are not taking the budget increases lying down and they have come out fighting, taking the gloves off for sure with 20 per cent reductions on their wines from Italy, New Zealand and Bordeaux!

Once upon a time, it was difficult to get a good white wine from Spain but times have changed. Verdejo and Albarino are now popular white wine grapes and Curious have an excellent example of the first one in Real Castel Rueda Verdejo (11.99), so popular among their customers that it made their Top Ten Whites for 2012.

I attended a Curious Wines dinner in the Cornstore last year and one of the most popular wines on the night was the Gavin Quinney made Château Bauduc Les Trois Hectares Semillon  (reduced to 14.39). Unusual to see Semillon (80%) carrying a European wine but this is a gem, aromatic, long and complex.

There is a rather nice Italian section in the magazine, featuring the Dievole estate and the Sangiovese grape. That got my attention, along with the 20 per cent off of course. Curious have a short list of five to try and the two that caught my eye were the Dievole Dievolino Sangiovese IGT 2009  (down from 13.99 to 11.19) and the Gregorina Sangiovese Superiore (reduced to 11.59).

And then there is Bordeaux, again with twenty per cent off. Back to Gavin Quinney again for one of my red picks here, the Chateau Bauduc Close de Quinze 2010 , another of the stars of that dinner at the Cornstore and even more attractive now that the price is cut from 17.99 to 14.39.

With all those savings, might be time to spash out. Must admit I know very little about the Chateau Cardinal-Villemaurine Sainte Emilion Gran Cru 2008  (20.00) but there is a fiver off and it is stamped as a best buy.

Wagamama Cook-off

Mighty Munster players line-out against the Mallow youngsters for the great Wagamama cook-off! This takes place on Tuesday February 26th (9.00am) and the venue is Wagamama, 4/5 South Main Street, Cork. Read more here.

Hamburger Macaron?

Beef patty is a hazelnut sponge cake covered in a dark chocolate ganache, the cheese is actually a thick slice of caramel chocolate, and the buns are two huge caramel macarons, all stuck together with more chocolate caramel. Not only that, its actual size is that of a small hamburger. This is sweet tooth heaven!! I love bubo!!!! See the pic here.

All the way from Turin, we have Romanian cuisine.

Galway Food Festival

28 March - 01 April 2013

The Galway Food Festival - even bigger and better in its second year and featuring an extended five day programme of fantastic food and free, family-friendly events in Galway on the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend. Read more about this and other food festivals here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Strawberry Field

The Strawberry Field

On the road from Sneem (Co. Kerry) to Moll’s Gap, there is a place called A Strawberry Field  where you will find Pancake Cottage, which is open all year round. The views from the garden are splendid but not so last Saturday as the rain was coming and going.
Warm inside Pancake Cottage

We had earlier called to Sneem for a quick walk around, having a look at only some the many sculptures in the little town and also at the river as it rushed under the bridge. Then we took that rising road and enjoyed some decent views, despite the cloud kissing the mountain tops.
The Garden

The Strawberry Field is nearer Moll’s Gap than Sneem and is on the left hand side. We just had time for a cup of coffee (Illy) and never got to the pancakes. And that may be just as well as we’d have definitely missed our appointment in Killarney.
Pancake Cottage

The selection of toppings just goes on and on, sweet and savoury and also a kids menu. Our friend in Killarney told us she stopped there once for one and ended up eating a series, her ultimate destination never reached. It is that kind of place.
The Lakes

There is some home-baking here also, including scones and a traditional Dutch apple pie, good teas and coffees and soft drinks, including water from their own well, soup also. In addition, there is a side room that contains a little craft shop, with photos, paintings and craft products for sale.

But we resisted, promising ourselves we’d call again, and headed on to Moll’s Gap and eventually to our meeting in Killarney and a lovely lunch in Treyvaud’s. Not a bad half-day’s work!

Warm Welcome in Mulcahy’s

Warm Welcome in Mulcahy’s

Walked in off the cold of Henry Street to the warmth of Mulcahy’s Restaurant one evening last week. For a second or two, thought there was no one home but that was just the dim lighting in the Kenmare restaurant.

The cold outside was soon forgotten and, after a warm welcome, we were shown to our comfortable seats and, now accustomed to the lighting (it wasn't that dim!), began to study the menu, with the helpful staff reminding us of the specials board and also advising us of one or two minor changes.

Sampled a couple of tasty breads as we began to make our minds up and indeed there was also a lovely Amuse Bouche, goats cheese and beetroot, delivered to the table.

There were seven or eight starters to choose from, including the soup at €5.50. I picked the Hen Egg, twice cooked, Asparagus, Iberico Ham and Garlic Hollandaise (€7.50). Quite a combination of tastes and textures but really well balanced. The other starter also went down very well indeed. It was that bit different: Cannelloni, Prawn, Salmon and Lobster, Bisque, and Parmesan (11.00). 

They use a great deal of local produce here and fish is obviously going to feature strongly. Again there were seven of eight choices for mains and three were fish: Halibut, Scallop and Lemon Sole. We weren’t complaining. On the contrary!

Halibut doesn’t feature that much on local menus so this was my pick: Roast Halibut, Mussel, Bacon and Clam Cream (26.00). Excellent, as was the side dish of vegetables and potato, included in the price.

The same veg was included in CL’s choice: Lemon Sole with Tomato Brown Butter (22.00).  This is cooked on the bone and served whole. Takes a bit more “work” with the knife and fork but well worth it!

Each of the desserts on the short list costs seven euro, though you’ll pay two more for the cheese plate. Some interesting choices here and I gave it a bit of thought before picking the Rhubarb Mille Feuille. The photo will give you an idea with the rhubarb, in a form of ice cream, between the pastry layers. Very enjoyable, a kind of low key sweet and sharp! CL went for the equally delicious Passion fruit Soufflé with Honeycomb ice cream.

Finished off with a cup of tea. They were out of my favourite Rooibos so I switched to Earl Grey and that was no hardship! There is a big enough wine list here, with some expensive ones, but I settled for a glass of a crisp De Martino Sauvignon Blanc (Chile) that went well with the fish.

Head Chef Bruce Mulcahy is back and Mulcahy’s are once again known as Mulcahy’s with the short-lived Wild Garlic title now redundant. So there you have it. To find them, go to Henry Street, Kenmare, though you may have to park some distance away as the town is short on parking spaces.

36 Henry Street, Kenmare
Hours Thu - Sun: 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Phone (064) 664 2383

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Enjoyable Eating at BT Dublin

Eating at BT Dublin
Parmesan crusted chicken
Shop ‘til you drop they say but there really is no need to go that far, especially if you are in the Brown Thomas Store in Dublin. Here they have a superb in-house restaurant on the third level, run by the sisters Peaches and Domini Kemp. It is a stylish bright area with stylish bright food but the style is always accompanied by a genuine substance, much of the food locally sourced. Service is really excellent and the seating is comfortable, toilets nearby.

Had a lovely lunch there recently. Had a great mix on the plate: Parmesan crusted free-range Irish chicken, sautéed potatoes, shallot and tomato dressing, and rocket. At €17.50 it was the most expensive dish on the menu but well worth it.

Goat cheese salad

Warm Fivemiletown Goat Cheese salad with Puy Lentils, roast beetroot, baby spinach, micro herbs and roast hazelnuts was another lovely plateful, priced at €15.90, and thoroughly enjoyed by CL. They have a great choice of mains, including Pasta of the Day, Asian spiced crab cakes and Soy and Ginger glazed salmon.

CL went for the healthy dessert option, quite a colourful and tasty one: Raw energy fruit salad – pineapple, mango, grapes, melon and mixed berries (6.90). I didn’t have the energy for that so settled for large cookie and a great cup of coffee. Back to the shopping after that enjoyable interlude!

By the way, the Kemp sisters also run the restaurant in the Brown Thomas store in Cork. Must check it out!

On the way west? Fill up at Manning's!

If you're heading for the Healy Pass, call to Manning's in Ballylickey to fuel up.
Full story and more pics here

Monday, February 18, 2013

Top Irish Beers at Bradley’s

Top Irish Beers at Bradley’s
Blackrock stout
at the Cliff Town House

While in Bradley’s recently (always recently!), I had an enjoyable chat with Michael Creedon about the amount of Irish beers now on the market and we began to discuss our favourites and also the top selling beers from the dozens and dozens available in the North Main Street store.

So we went to work on a few lists but decided to leave out seasonal beers, which we both enjoy. In the past couple of months, I was delighted whenever I had a glass of A Winter’s Ale (8 Degree Brewing) or one of the Dungarvan Coffee and Oatmeal Stout in my hand. Draught beers – the Tom Crean lager and the Franciscan Well’s Friar Weisser are among my current favourites – were also left out of these lists.
When it comes to bottled Irish, I have a grá for the black stuff. The boys out in Blair’s introduced me to the Blackrock Stout by the Dungarvan Brewing Company the best part of a year back and it has been a firm favourite since.

And it was in Blair’s also that I met the folks from the West Kerry Brewing Company. I had already made the acquaintance of their Carraig Dubh porter and that too is building up into a long term relationship.
When it comes to ales, I have a preference for the wheat beers. Not too many bottled in Ireland but one that is and one that I really like is Curim by the Carlow Brewing Company.

Don’t think I’ve really made up my mind about a favourite among the regular ales. The current top choice is the Galway Hooker Irish Pale Ale but I’m open to offers!

 In any case, I mustn’t be drinking enough of them as none of mine have made the best sellers list in Bradley’s where the current top four selling Irish craft beers are:

O’Hara’s Irish Pale Ale (abv 5.2%)
This pale ale has a light malt base with just the right mouth feel to allow the hop character to predominate. Grapefruit like bitterness is full and lasting and is balanced by a zesty citrus burst of aroma from the late addition of cascade hops. The Citrus flavours give way at the end to the floral, spicy bitterness of Amarillo hops.

Eight Degrees Howling Gale Ale (abv 5%)
It pours a pale golden colour and the malty sweetness is well balanced by the American Chinook, Amarillo and Centennial hops. Howling Gale has a pleasant grapefruit and citrus aroma and goes well with fish, chicken or anything off the barbeque.

Porterhouse Brewing Hop Head (abv 4.8%)
A fulsome, winsome strong ale. A deep copper tinged brew for the true aficionado, longer fermentation and thrice hopping bring about a complex soft bitterness allied to a malt induced sweetness with the characteristic oily Fuggles hop perfume.

Dark Arts Porter, 500ml (abv 4.4%)
 A dark, almost black porter, named for the part of the brewing process not quite covered by science.
Dark Arts is brewed using a healthy dose of Black malt and Chocolate malt, to add to the flavour as well as to give the beer its dark colour. This unfiltered porter has a clear roasty flavour, but with hints of caramel and chocolate, while maintaining enough bitter hop presence to preserve its balance.

 I wasn't letting Michael Creedon off the hook and asked him to pick the “house” favourites: “Our favourite Irish craft beers and the ones we like to recommend change with the seasons and even with our mood! Ones we’re really enjoying at the moment include -

White Gypsy Belgian Dubell (abv 8%)
A dry slightly spicy beer with a fruity finish. An excellent choice for grilled oily fish like tuna and salmon.

Dungarvan Brewing Helvick Gold Blonde Ale (abv 4.9%)
 A great introduction to the world of craftbeer, this blonde ale is not a bland ale. There is a complexity at play here with a fruity aroma balanced by a hoppiness that makes it a slightly challenging but still quite easy to drink beer.

O’Hara’s Leann Folláin (abv 6%)
O’Hara’s Leann Folláin Stout is laden with complex chocolate and coffee flavours balanced by a robust bitterness and delicate spicy aroma imparted from the generous portions of Northdown and Fuggle Hops.

Eight Degrees Brewing Knockmealdown Porter (abv 5%)
 A robust malt-driven ale balances dark malts with some old world bitter hops. It won’t weigh you down like a stout and offers a rich chocolaty aroma with a burst of espresso.

Now, what are your top four?

Sheen Shines on Valentine’s

Sheen Shines on Valentine’s
Campari in the bar
Sheen Falls Lodge was the classy venue for this year’s Valentine’s Night outing and it turned out to be a cracking meal, though there was not, thankfully, a special menu for the night. A new season just started, new owners and some new staff, saw us get off to a rather slow start but, soothed by an excellent meal and the live piano music, we were very happy at the end.

Enjoyed a drink in the bar, in the Sun Lounge to be precise, before heading to La Cascade Restaurant, nicely lit and furnished and very well staffed and a decent crowd in. First surprise was a very tasty Amuse Bouche: herb baked oyster in shell accompanied by a lively Bloody Marie shot. The taste buds were up and running.

Now for the starters. From a choice of six, I picked the Home Smoked Salmon and Citrus Marinated Sea Trout, served on a crispy coriander sesame flat bread with fresh horse-radish. Very colourful and tasty with the razor flat bread adding a contrasting texture.

The other starter was also well received and that was Confit Pork Belly and Black Pudding with Pear Vanilla Compote and jus, with a liquorish yoghurt. The first three provided a perfect combination while the yoghurt didn’t add much. 

We both started off the wines with a rosé from Provence: Noas, Château Ferry Lacombe 2010 (€9.00 a glass). Not too many people drink rosé during the Irish winter but this was well up to the task. For the mains, I switched to an unremarkable, though quite drinkable, Navara Principe de Viana Crianza Tempranillo 2008 (€7.50 a glass) while CL was very pleased with the Alain Geoffroy 2011 Petit Chablis (€10.00 a glass).

My mains was just perfect: Fillet of Beef with Sautéed artichoke, pommes dauphine and red wine jus. CL was more than pleased with the Pan-fried Cod Fillet, beetroot tarragon sauce, bacon lardons, sweet potato rosti and winter vegetables.

Grand Marnier Marinated Strawberries with Iced Champagne.

The break between mains and dessert was sweetly filled by the sorbet, a really top class one, a little glass containing Champagne ice, Grand Marnier and Strawberries. More like a mini-dessert than your normal sorbet!

Took our time making a pick from the six or so desserts on offer. CL went for the Irish Whiskey and Golden Raisin crème Brûlée with Guinness Ice Cream while my choice was the much more sober Fig Beignets with Fromage Blanc Mousse and Berry Compote, both excellent, especially when matched with superb dessert wines. 

For me it was the Muscat de Rivesaltes Domaine des Schistes 2009  (Languedoc-Roussillon) while for her it was Domaine Chiroulet, Soleil d’Automne 2007 (Gascoigne), each at €9.00 per glass.

It was a long evening but all too soon it was time to settle up, get the coats on (they do that for you here) and head for the taxi.

The basic 3 course meal in this restaurant will cost you €65.00.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Island Bakery to open in Delgany

Island Bakery bringing it's “Bread Revolution” 
to the mainland 

Recession, what  recession? This may be an exception, but on Heir Island off the Coast of West Cork, business is going from strength to strength for The Firehouse Bakery & Bread School.

It is not yet 9 months since The Firehouse Bakery opened its doors and in that time Patrick Ryan and Laura Moore (left) have seen people from all walks of life turning up at Cunnamore Pier to take the short ferry journey to beautiful Heir Island for a days bread making. Some have come out of interest, others out of intrigue but everyone has left with a renewed passion for real bread and as much baked goods as they can carry.

Laura says “ We have been overwhelmed by the support and interest which we have received since  our doors opened on June 30th. Even through the depths of winter people have been coming, something we never expected”

But this appears to be only the beginning for the West Cork duo as plans are under way to bring their 'Bread Revolution' to the mainland. In early April Patrick will be expanding his Firehouse bakery to Delgany in Co. Wicklow with the opening of a new bakery, coffee house and patisserie.

With an open plan bakery everything that goes into your loaf will be on show for all to see. “Real bread is bread that has nothing to hide” says Patrick. “Pick yourself up a loaf, grab a cheeky pastry or simply sit back and watch the world go by, we intend to bring a bit of island life with us”

Based on the site of the old Delgany Inn The Firehouse bakery is teaming up with Emma Stone of The Romany stone and Jackie Spillane to create a go to destination. Spread over two floors 'The Delgany will offer a bakery, café, coffee house, grocery and restaurant. The concept is based on quality, local, seasonal produce but most importantly reasonably priced. What we intend to offer says Patrick “Is comfort food with a touch of class”

Firehouse bakery will continue to offer regular one day hands on baking courses from their home on Heir Island  as they intend to extend their offering to include 1 on 1 baking days as well as family baking; where adults and kids bake together.

Looking ahead to 2013 Patrick says “ It looks like the plan to hide out on a beach in Thailand till summer may have to wait”

The Firehouse Bakery's  'Bread revolution' is currently seeking recruits. Real bread bakers, pastry chefs, baristas and passionate foodies get in touch at

Amuse Bouche

Pomus could not get over how some of Spector’s nuttiest habits were so commonplace to the young man.

“One thing he did was, he carried this briefcase around with him all the time. And . That was it. He’d break off a piece of bread and sit there eating and he was the happiest guy in the world. We used put him on, ‘cause he was so funny. But he was very smart and politically oriented too. You couldn’t figure him out, whether he was putting you on.”

From: He’s a Rebel (Phil Spector) by Mark Ribowsky.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Food and Drink Spotting

Food and Drink Spotting

With all the love in the February air, this Taste of the Week just had to be a sweet one. Had earlier opened a bottle of Vin Doux Naturel Rasteau to pair it with that beautiful new St Tola Goat Cheese in the Lorge Chocolate case and still had a lot of it left. What now to match it with?
 I had the answer all along. When I bought the bottle, the lady in the Rasteau shop said chocolate and indeed if I remember rightly I sampled some there in that lovely part of the lower Rhone. Off then last Saturday to the English Market and called to Niall Daly at The Chocolate Shop.
What a selection! Had a little chat with the man himself and soon I was on the way home with a pack of Valrhona Grands Crus, a dark bitter-sweet chocolate with 70% cacao.
With the dinner finished, I tried out the match, the dark chocolate and sweet fortified red wine. And I was very happy with it. That lady in Rasteau knew her stuff. The chocolate, already quite a lovely mouthful, had its best qualities enhanced by the wine. Taste of the Week, without a doubt!

Coal Quay Convenience

You don’t have to go to your big supermarket for convenience shopping. Last Saturday found me at the far end of the Coal Quay Farmer’s Market, down towards the north channel of the river.

Didn’t have too much time to spare and most of that was spent in the line for O’Driscoll’s fish. Didn’t resent a bit of it as the fish is so fresh, the value outstanding. Got enough West Cork hake for three for six euro.

The stand across the way was Caroline’s, a very popular fruit and vegetable stall, and here I helped myself to a bunch of leeks. A few yards away was a well known face though new to the Coal Quay. Mark of Ballyhoura Mushrooms, well known at the main farmers markets, now has a stall here every Saturday.

While packing some of those colourful Oysters mushrooms, rose in this case, he told how he thoroughly enjoyed the Foodie Forum held earlier that week in Galway and was very impressed with North Cork chefs Bryan McCarthy and the up and coming Jack O’Keeffe.

So there you are, a few pleasant minutes passed and dinner in the bag. Convenient or what!


O'Donovans Off Licence
The Irish Examiner recently reviewed Club Brasserie very favourably…we’ve chosen it for our Cork Supper Club event, an association of fine food and wine presented by Jane Ferrari. Tickets are €50 per person including all of the wine selected to go with each course. Call Rose or Deirdre to book on 0214296060, places are limited so book soon!

Breaking News from the Bringing The Wine Geese Home Front.........New Website is now up and running with a diary of upcoming events, so you won't miss out on any of the action!
Check it out on:

Roz Crowley ‏@RozCrowley1
You did well with the mince pies, but how are your choccy cake skills?   Gauntlet thrown! #cakeoff

Porterhouse Food Menu available from Monday 11th February!

To celebrate we will be offering 2 for 1 on all main courses at the Mardyke from Monday the 11th to Sunday 17th February.
(Pre - Book offer only)
Ph:             021 4273000      .

Valentine’s Tiramisu from Hong Kong 

Baby Pancakes Brunch, anyone? Follow the link to learn this mouth-watering recipe!

Flemings Restaurant - Valentine's 6 course menu.... Cappuccino of Wild Mushrooms with truffle .....and that is just the 1st course......tempted? Only a few tables left for Friday and Saturday! has teamed up with Clontarf Castle to offer one lucky visitor a chance to win a romantic break with dinner for two at the luxurious Clontarf Castle in Dublin ...

Caroline@Bibliocook ‏@Bibliocook One for the diary: off to @BallymaloeCS next Tues 19 Feb for @8degreesbrewing talk, tasting and food matching...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Quality and Value at Toscana

Quality and Value at Toscana

Warm colours outside and a warm welcome inside. That was the experience at Toscana in Dublin’s Dame Street last week. And it didn’t flatter to deceive as I enjoyed a really good lunch at this city centre Italian restaurant, established over a decade ago.

Had a good look at their lunch offer of two courses for ten euro. You could pick from four starters and seven main courses. But since we were on a break and had time to spare we picked from the A La Carte which went way beyond the normal pasta and pizza lists.

 I settled on their Pollo alla Toscana: Chicken Supreme with Spinach, Three Cheeses, wrapped in Parma Ham and served with a white wine and mustard cream (€16.95). I was given a choice of sides and went for their salad. Must say I thoroughly enjoyed this light and tasty dish and that salad.

Most of their fresh produce (vegetables and salads) comes from their own farm (in Wicklow) and not too many restaurants can say that. CL ordered the Duck Salad (€16.75) which consisted of warm fresh duck, rocket and mixed leaves, sun ripened cherry tomatoes, sweet balsamic and parmesan shavings. Another substantial plateful and a really satisfying one.

They have many menus here so it is well worth checking out the website before you go. And there is no shortage of choice on the wine front either, the vast majority of it from Italy. If you are going by the glass, you have four choices in red and four in white, but, if you are going by the bottle, you could be a while making up your mind as the wines come from all parts, from the north to the south and not forgetting the islands!

Duck Salad

The place is neat and tidy and the wall decor consists of large black and white photos of Italian characters going about their daily lives, not the film stars you sometimes see in Italian restaurants. The place can cater for couples or larger groups and I would like to go back there by night as I reckon you’d have a great atmosphere, especially on Sunday when a singer entertains.

Service is friendly and efficient and the prices are reasonable for the excellent quality delivered to your table. Definably worth a try.

Dame Street - Opposite Dublin Castle, Dublin 2.
Mon - Thu: 12:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Fri - Sat: 12:00 pm - 12:00 am
Sun: 12:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Phone (01) 670 9785