Monday, April 29, 2013

Amuse Bouche. Palestinian Picnics.

We spread a red and white checked cloth over the rock and placed on it different salads and vegetable dishes that we had brought with us. We ended with a colourful display, all entirely vegetarian. There was beetroot salad, baba ganoush [an aubergine dip], goat’s cheese, a bowl of carrots, tomatoes and broccoli, different kinds of patties and fruits. We settled down to eat, the men from the group opposite left the women and children to search for dry wood for their barbecue of kufta and lamb chops.
From Occupation Diaries by Raja Shehadeh.

Dining at Liss Ard

Dining at Liss Ard

Visited Liss Ard Estate near Skibbereen for the first time recently and decided to join a few of the other residents for dinner in the main house. Head Chef Cliona McCarthy uses lots of produce from local suppliers including Caherbeg, Gubbeen, Glenilen and Sally Barnes. The food on the table is, as they say themselves, “simple uncomplicated food bursting with freshness and flavours”.  It is also fairly priced.

We started off with two salads (7.50). My pick was the Caherbeg Crispy Bacon and Potato Salad. Some really fresh leaves here with excellent flavour from both the bacon and potato. It was much the same with CL’s Warm Chicken Salad with Glenilen Yoghurt and Mint Dressing, another very simple yet satisfactory plateful.

You don’t have a great choice here but there is no shortage of quality in the five starters and five main courses. We both settled on the same mains: Roast Union Hall Cod with Lemon Herb Butter and a Mussel Risotto (about 18/19 euro). This was as fresh as you’d expect and the risotto was really well executed.

The wine list is also rather short but appropriate to the demands on the restaurant and again there is quality there. We certainly enjoyed our Main a Main Chardonnay from the Pays d’Oc, unoaked with a gorgeous gold/yellow colour, fresh and fruity and a balancing citrus zest, all for €25.00.

The evening’s dessert was a New Season’s Rhubarb Fool with homemade shortbread (6.50). Again, quite a simple dish but delicious.

Service was excellent at dinner but more hit and miss at breakfast time (two bookable sittings 8.45 and 9.45). For instance, you do have to make your own toast. No big imposition but the toaster (and remember you can have maybe more than twenty people in the room) is your ordinary domestic two slice job and the bread slices are supplied in drips and drabs. So you may have to visit the hall more than once and then be lucky to have bread and access to the toaster at the same time.

Some of you might like to know that there is no bar here. But they do have an “honour bar” from which you may help yourself to a bottle of beer or wine and sign for it on the nearby blackboard!

The estate itself is huge with many woodlands paths that lead you to different features such as the Water Gardens and a Wild Flower Meadow, both of which will probably look better in another month or so. By the way, there is a unique long term approach at work here with the gardens as a whole  expected to reach maturity in thirty to fifty years time!

 The main feature of course is the Irish Sky Garden, also growing and developing, where you’ll experience the giant earth and stone works, The Crater, by famed artist James Turrell, with its contemplative 'Vault Purchase' or plinth (below) at its centre.
There is also a large lake in the grounds, used for various sports including canoeing and fishing. We stayed in the Lodge that overlooks this lake. So too did a ten strong group who had exclusive access to the lounge there. If we needed to lounge (we didn’t really), we'd have had to travel up to the main house (either by car or by a pleasant short walk through the woods). You also have to "travel" for breakfast and dinner but we knew that!
 One other handicap in the Lodge (some may not regard it as such) is the lack of a decent signal for your mobile phone – even our receptionist who showed us our splendid room there had to go back to the main house to check something out because she had no reception. Needless to say, the Wi-Fi, available in the main house, doesn’t extend to the lodge. Ideal, if you want to get away from it all!

There is a lot going on in Liss Ard even though driving up the bumpy main driveway, you might be wondering what you are letting yourself in for. But there is a philosophy at work here, allowing you to experience the “beauty, wonder and tranquillity of Irish Nature”. We did see a fox running along the same driveway!

See also Stunning West Cork in yesterday's sunshine.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tomas Clancy: Wine Geese were "on the make"!

Tomas Clancy at The Crawford
We are not impressed.
John Hogan's statue of
William Crawford looms over the wines.
In the Crawford Art Gallery last night, wine lover Tomas Clancy dispelled any romantic notions we might have had held about the early Wine Geese, saying that these Irish were “people on the make”. They had tried it in Ireland and indeed there is some evidence that some left their Irish loves behind for richer pickings abroad, particularly in France: “They married well, mainly to the daughters of the aristocrats, some even to the rich widows.”

In some leisurely moments before the talk, part of the series of Wine Geese events in the Cork area, Tomas had time to wander upstairs in the Gallery and was struck by the juxtaposition of two portraits, one of the merchant and the Lord Mayor of Cork (1776) Hugh Lawton and the other of a stern Roy Keane. Only in Cork. Lawton by the way will feature in another Wine Geese event later in the year.

Colm McCan pours for Ted Murphy
Tomas has visited many of the Wine Geese and says that they love to see the Irish coming all the way to see them; he has found this a common expression around the world whether the winemakers have been in situ for hundreds of years or for just a few decades.

Wine historian Ted Murphy, the inspiration and perspiration behind the international wine museum in Kinsale (well worth a visit), was in the audience. He and Tomas are great friends and Tomas took the opportunity to point out that while many nations have as many and in some cases more wine geese than we have, it was Ted who “brought it all together” mainly through his book The Kingdom of Wine.

Tomas made some terrific points too about how Ireland, for much of the 20th century, shut out many of its famous and very successful exiles as it nurtured its infant sense of nationhood. He reckons now, that the shutters are gone, that it is entirely appropriate to look again at the achievements and the achievers aboard.

“Aer Lingus should use wine geese wines” he stated. And why not, particularly on flights to and from the wine producing countries where we have engaged (most of them!).

Maybe we should even look at characters like the Duke of Wellington, an Irish MP for over 25 years. He too had a wine connection for it was he who secured a large area where Port is made for the British!

On to the wines then and we started with L’Abeille de Fieuzal, Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux 2009, but the big story in the whites came with the next bottle, the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2010.

Jim Barrett from Waterford, who started his working life shovelling coal off the back of a lorry and, having been a US marine and lawyer, bought the winery and then had the satisfaction of seeing his 1973 Chardonnay win the famous Judgement of Paris against the best the French could offer.

Something of an interruption then as the time at the Crawford came to an end and, with huge thanks to Victor Murphy of the prize-winning House Cafe in the Opera House next door, we were all accommodated for part two.

Chateau de la Ligne (Bordeaux 2008) was next up. Tomas has been there and said that owner Terry Cross has, among other interesting items in his collection, an enormous Celtic Cross on the estate driveway. The wine, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, “has another few years to go” and Tomas advised us, while waiting, to get our hands on their Cuvee Prestige (05 or ’06).

The Barton family story is pretty well known so it was no surprise to see of their wines, the Chateau Leoville Barton, St Julien, Bordeaux 2004, included. “Here”, said Tomas, “The Irish roots will never go away”.

But what was the Irish connection with Château Musar, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon 2004, the mystery wine? Well, it was Ronald Barton who joined the army in WW2 and ended up in the Lebanon where he got to know the family and helped the chateau in the ways of making fine wines.

And to round it all off there was yet another Irish connection. On arrival, we had been served the El Comandante Chardonnay from Argentina. Founder of this winery was the late Michael Lynch. As a UN officer in Lebanon, he too helped Musar by using some Irish blarney to get their harvested grapes through an Israeli roadblock to the winery, thus saving the vintage.

The wine geese are here, there and everywhere!

Next event: Thursday May 16th at L’Atitude 51 where Fleur McCree of Little Beauty in Marlborough, New Zealand, will retrace her family roots back to Cork.

Food to feature in Ring of Cork Fest

Food will be one of five themes featured when the Ring of Cork festival is held in Midleton next month...
There will be live cookery demonstrations by renowned Cork chefs including food writer and cook, Lilly Higgins. Artisan food producers and stalls from all over the South and East Cork area will showcase the finest delicacies and delights on offer in the Region. Tastings and market stalls will ensure that visitors really get a taste for the Ring of Cork. Read more here.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cashel Blue in Safe Hands

Cashel Blue in Safe Hands
Cashel Blue, at 3 weeks. See the needle holes made to allow the blue develop
“One sunny summer’s day my daughter Sarah and I were watching my husband, Louis, herd his cows in from pasture. What a deliciously rich and creamy milk they gave! I started to experiment. Eventually, in 1984, I created Cashel Blue, a cheese I believe truly represents the outstanding quality of Tipperary milk. I hope you will agree.”

This is Jane Grubb telling how Cashel Blue cheese came into being and we do agree, as do thousands of customers worldwide, from the US to Australia, from Harrods to IKEA. “All areas of the market are supplied," Sarah told us on a recent visit. Sarah emphasises that this is a deliberate decision, as they want everyone to try their cheese, not just those that shop in elite outlets.

I should of course say cheeses as Cashel Blue has been joined by two other products, the very latest being Cashel Cream Cheese, a convenient cheese in a tub for everyday use, a mix of Cashel Blue, Natural Cream cheese and 5 per cent cream.

The other cheese is Crozier Blue. Jane’s nephew, Henry Clifton Brown, of Ballinamona Farm, overlooked by the Rock of Cashel, set about establishing a flock of milking sheep, then somewhat of a rarity in Ireland. As a result, in 1993, Crozier Blue was developed. To this day Crozier Blue is the only blue cheese made from sheep’s milk in Ireland.

Blue is doing well here on a 6 week Crozier
But back to Jane and those early days. She had decided to make cheese but didn’t know how. So she got herself a library book. Even that wasn't available locally and had to be obtained via the inter-library route. That book, lots of experiments and then the aquisition of a small vat, led to the famous Cashel Blue.

Over twenty years later, the new dairy was established near the original, farmhouse (which had become almost overwhelmed by the success) and opened in 2010 right in “one of the best fields” and locally became known as Louis’ shed. Louis is Jane’s husband and the entire family were glad to get their home back.
Some of the thousands of wheels in the Maturation Room.
 While there is no great visible signs of it in the Tipperary countryside, this is a major operation and a boon to the area. The production team now consists of about twenty members, sometimes joined by their children. And isn’t it great to have such a place to sustain the countryside, keeping the people at home. Sarah told us that some forty children under 10 live between the two local crosssroads and she finds that so encouraging for the future of the area.

The early cheesemakers too needed encouragement as they tried to find their way. And that encouragement came in the shape of an early prize and soon they were on the right path, choosing to make the blue rather than what many others were making.
The Dairy
 Cheesemaking is no easy job. Lots of muscle and hands on work is required. Cheesemaking starts at 6.00am and work goes on everyday, though they do try and keep it that bit less demanding at weekends. Still, someone has to be there 365 days a year!

We saw Geurt van den Dikkenberg, now the main cheesemaker, (by the late 1980s Jane developed a bad back, the infamous cheesemaker’s back, and so taught Geurt how to make Cashel Blue) in action with the cheese harp, drawing it through the curds and whey in large vats time after time. Not easy work at all and yes that Cheese Harp has to be re-strung from time to time.
Main cheesemaker Geurt van den Dikkenberg,
using the cheese harp.
 With all that hard work, some people would be tempted to cut corners and speed up the process. But glad to say, there is no compromise here. The quality of the milk, which is pasteurised but unhomogenised, is all important and the care that it gets from the time it it piped into the vats, through to the final wheels in the Maturation Room, is hands on.

There is of course some mechanical help with placing the mix from the vats into moulds and also with the injection of the wheels to allow the blue to occur and also the turning of the wheels but nothing whatsoever to compromise the integrity of this natural product. Find out more about the Cashel way of cheese making  here
Wheels, ready for turning

We recently enjoyed an eye-opening guided tour of the Dairy with Sarah showing the way ( and also met other members of the family who are involved, including Jane’s husband Sergio Furno and her cousin Louis Clifton Brown).  The cheesemaking operation at Beechmount Farm was in good hands from the start with Jane and her husband Louis the pioneers and is in good hands now and for the future with Jane and Sergio and their team.

Wish we had more leaders like them in this country, modest people who get on with it. It is a fascinating story, a slice of history even, and you may read more about it here

Some Beechmount facts:
·         Sixty five per cent of the cheese output is sold abroad.
·         25,000 wheels in the Maturation Room
·         Crozier is white while the Cashel as it matures tends to be more of a yellow colour.
·         The sheep milk, used for the Crozier, is heavier and that means more muscle needed especially while it is in the vats.
·         The wheels are salted by soaking in brine, the better to preserve it. Previously the salt was added by hand but soaking in the tanks of brine gives a more consistent result. You will probably notice that the edible rind is that bit more salty than the paste.

Food and Drink Spotting

Food and Drink Spotting

Taste of the Week. Hendricks Gin at Bradley's, North Main St
Three for Tea
Lately, I’ve been buying some premium teas online from Fixx Coffee in Dublin. And I’ve been thoroughly enjoying them.

“Ronnefeldt is synonymous with high quality and exquisite teas blended to perfection. Each portion of tea is presented in the Teavelope which boasts an innovative seal that protects the individual flavour so that neither fragrance, aroma, nor flavour can escape.” 

My purchase included three of these Ronnefeldt teas and they are:

Rooibos Vanilla - A flavoured herbal infusion from South Africa, gently scented with delicate vanilla to create a full bodied taste.

Earl Grey - Full bodied and intensive in flavour, this Darjeeling blend has a refreshing bergamot (citrus) aroma.

Camomile - A herbal infusion of the flowering Camomile herb, this tea has a tangy and aromatic taste, creating a pleasant and relaxing effect.

If you are into this type of tea, you are in for a treat. I am enjoying all three. Perhaps the Rooibos is my favourite but only just. I am just as happy with the other two.

Fixx, best known for their Cuban coffees, – I have their popular Cubita on the go at the moment – also do other teas, including the Cha Teas range, all good.

By the way, if you’d prefer coffee, then I’ve come across a rather good one by Badger and Dodo. Indeed, most of this Cork roaster’s coffees are good but my current favourite is Rwanda Gisuma.

Ballyvolane House Newsletter Spring 2013
Ballyvolane House are looking forward to co-hosting a Garden Open Day at Ballyvolane House from 12 noon to 5pm this coming Sunday, 28 April 2013. 
·         » Tour of the gardens by Jer Green at 2.30pm.
·         » Plant & book sale in the marquee.
·         » Afternoon Tea in the marquee.
·         » Admissions €5 per person & €10 per family.
Did you know that Ballyvolane (in Castlelyons) are open for dinner throughout the spring and summer and always welcome non-residents. They do just one sitting at 8pm and offer a 4-course set menu each evening. Read more here

From Vineyards Direct were in Bordeaux last week tasting the 2012s and were impressed with the quality of the vintage, which was much better than originally thought - added to which, the Bordelais have seen sense and are bringing their prices down.   
“This is a ripe forward vintage that will provide us all with delightful drinking clarets in a few years time. We are kicking off the 2012 En Primeur campaign with what promises to be the biggest bargain of the year - Château Méaume at just €68 per case IN BOND is the perfect affordable every day drinking claret and we highly recommend you stock up.” 
To know more, click here.


A Filipino noodle dish for you!
Fresco Eaterie & Bistro
Remember we serve breakfast from 9 am until 11.30am. Try our porridge with apple and cinnamon, only €2.50.

[Activité] Apprenez à marier le chocolat et le fromage aux #vins à #Bordeaux

We all know about Pork Belly. How about Lamb Belly?

Diva Boutique Bakery
Attention to our Kinsale Customers: you can now buy our fresh baked breads in Kinsale Tues-Fri at the Kinsale Health Food Store! How cool is that?! — at Kinsale Health Store.

The schedule of classes for the next month or two

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Campo Viejo Tapas Trail comes to the streets of Cork

Campo Viejo Tapas Trail comes to the streets of Cork
Urban Art also in the mix!

This May and June, Spanish wine brand Campo Viejo, the flagship of Rioja wines, will bring the sell-out Campo Viejo Tapas Trail to the streets of Cork City.  Food and wine enthusiasts are invited to join in the month long celebration of Spanish style tapas dining and discover the true passion, vitality and vibrancy of Spain’s culinary culture from the 8th May to 5th June.  For further information and to purchase tickets, priced at €20 per person, log onto

Now an annual celebration of the best of Spanish cuisine and wine, the Campo Viejo Tapas Trail allows participants to enjoy the unique colourful social experience of going from eatery to eatery and sharing a selection of authentic Spanish tapas cuisine, while experiencing  the vibrancy of Spain right on their own doorstep.   

Tickets for the Campo Viejo Tapas Trail are priced at €20 with the trail taking place each Wednesday between 6.30pm and 9.00pm and each Sunday between 2.00pm and 4.30pm in participating restaurants (excluding Sunday 2nd June). 

Cork Trail
During the event, participants will visit four top tapas restaurants in Cork City where they will be presented with the venue’s three best tapas specially created to complement the elegance and full flavours associated with Campo Viejo Reserva. Restaurants on the Tapas Trail are; Arthur Mayne's, Pembroke St., Electric, South Mall, The Cornstore, Cornmarket St. and Oysters, Lapps Quay.  Participants will also enjoy a glass of Campo Viejo Reserva in each restaurant. 

Inspired by the Spanish way of life and Campo Viejo’s mantra of ‘stimulating a more expressive world’, the Tapas Trail will this year bring Spain’s expressiveness and vibrancy to the streets of Cork through urban art.   In an exciting new collaboration with renowned Irish urban artists, Psychonautes and Fatti Burke, Campo Viejo will capture Spain’s colourful culture and passion for living through bespoke installations which can be seen and enjoyed during the Tapas Trail.  Urban art features heavily in contemporary Spanish culture, with Madrid often considered the spiritual home of urban art, making it the perfect complement to the Campo Viejo Tapas Trail 2013.  Inspired by red wine, the artists will also work together with Campo Viejo winemakers to create a vibrant red paint colour, which they will use in the artwork.

Speaking about the Tapas Trail, Rachel Keogh, Brand Manager of Campo Viejo, said; “We’re very excited about the return of the Campo Viejo Tapas Trail, particularly with the expansion of the Trail to Cork and the introduction of urban art this year.  The creative process of winemaking and art is more similar than most people think.  Both start with a blank canvas and a vision of what we want to achieve.  The process then takes us on a journey of experimentation – be it with flavours or colours – until we are satisfied with the final outcome.  Through the introduction of urban art into the Tapas Trail we hope to encourage people to embrace the Spanish way of living, full of colour and passion, which is central to Campo Viejo’s mantra to live a ‘Life Uncorked’.”

80 people can participate on the trail during each session. They will be split up into four groups of 20; each group will be assigned a different route, starting from different restaurants and work their way around the trail. Hosts will guide participants on the trail educating them on the importance of the Rioja region and describing Campo Viejo’s unique characteristics. For further information and to purchase tickets log onto or 

Iberia Flying High

Iberia Flying High

The winemakers of Portugal and Spain certainly seem to be coming up with the goods nowadays. From Portugal, I’ve tasted some really good wines from the DAO recently along with a popular port while Spain has more than pleased with a Tempranillo from La Rioja Alta region and, not for the first time, with the Arana Rioja Reserva from the winery in Haro that bears the same name as the region.

Lagrimas de Maria, La Rioja Alta Crianza 2010, 14.5%, €13.99, stockists
This is one hundred per cent Tempranillo and made in the heart of La Rioja Alta. It spent 12 months in oak and the winemaker is Maria Martinez Maria whose hand writing appears on the labels.

Colour is a dark cherry red with aromas of forest fruits. This is Tempranillo at quite a high level, fruit for sure and hints of the oak but really well balanced and an excellent dry finish. No need for the tears, Maria. Highly Recommended.

Flor de Viseu Selection (red), DAO 2009, 13%, €12.99, stockists.
Colour is ruby red and the aromas, of moderate intensity, are those of red fruit. Red fruit also on the palate and slight spice, freshness and sufficient acidity present, and it finishes dry.

Grapes used are Tourigo National and Alfrocheiro. Should go well with red meat and cheese.

The flower on the label symbolises the thistle flower found locally. But nothing spiky about this rather smooth red wine. Highly recommended.

Viña Arana Rioja Reserva, 2004 La Rioja Alta
This wine, by the winery that bears the same name as the region, is a favourite of mine. But I am not alone. The Los Angeles Times Food section recently made it their Wine of the Week and you may read their take on it here. 

Ferreira Late Bottled Vintage Port 2007
Bought this bottle in the Basque Country last summer and it took me until now to get around to it. Don’t think I’ve seen it on sale in Ireland but Ferreira is a huge port exporter. Indeed, according to Hugh Johnson’s 2012 pocket wine book, they are the leading Portuguese owned Port shipper and “the best selling brand in Portugal”.

This is quite a gem, with beautiful flavours, great balance and a tremendous finish. Picked it up out of curiosity and it didn’t kill me. Read more about Ferreira, which is over 250 years old, here. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Buying local. Market Meal #5

Buying local. Market Meal #5

Simple salad with Marinated Butter Beans from the Real Olive Company
Haven’t posted a Buying Local post in a while. Just took a break from preaching about buying Irish (only stopped talking about it, mind you, I was still buying) and supporting local producers. This latest post was inspired by some delightful Lamb Merguez Sausages, new from Eoin O’Mahony in the English Market, and by last week’s visit to the makers of Cashel Blue.
Domini Kemp's Cashel Blue Cheese, recipe link below.
Let us start with those chunky sausages. Despite the Merguez name and also a few dollops of harissa, they won’t blow the head off you. We wanted to try the sausage flavour as pure as possible and tried them with a little mashed potato. Really tasty, moderately spiced and full of flavour and a great texture. I’m sure you’ll find lots of use for them, maybe with lentils, maybe with white beans, perhaps sliced lengthways and packed into a roll with salad, maybe in a Spanish Rice recipe such as this one

Moved up a few stalls in the market after that and called to the Real Olive Company for some sun dried tomatoes and also a scoop of their marinated butter beans. Got more of the slightly spicy beans than we bargained for so, for a quick lunch, used them with a straightforward salad and a few slices of the Country Baguette by Tom’s Bakery which is sold at ABC in the Market. Easy peasy! And tasty!
Lamb Merguez sausages from O'Mahony's in the English Market

 The sun dried tomatoes had been bought to be part of a terrific Cashel Blue cheese recipe from Domini Kemp and available on the Cashel Blue website The other main ingredients are Puy lentils (from Len’s Cereals in Mahon Point Farmers Market) and red onions. And keep a few slices of that Country Baguette handy.

Tom's Country Baguette from the ABC Stall in the Market.

On the following day, we had a collection of left-overs and added the butter beans to the Cashel Blue recipe and that gave us quite a plateful at lunch today. Looks like being a good day foodwise as the aromas of garlic and rosemary are now wafting around the house as a shoulder of lamb from Eoin O’Mahony is slow cooking for the Sunday dinner.

Buy local and everyone’s a winner, producers, suppliers and customers. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

UCC share world’s largest study on food allergies. Can you help?


Research into Severe Allergic Reactions will result in an App to limit Anaphylaxis

The national organisation for people with severe allergies, Anaphylaxis Ireland, is currently recruiting individuals to participate in the world’s largest study on food allergies.

Anaphylaxis Ireland is part of a global team, which also includes University College Cork, selected to participate in this study. Their work will ultimately result in the creation of an online app AlleRiC, which will be used to record accidental allergic reactions.

“We are looking for individuals and families who have experienced allergic reactions to food and who have been diagnosed with a food allergy, to participate in a number of focus groups in Cork (Saturday, 18 May) and Dublin (Saturday, 8 June)”, said Regina Cahill, Anaphylaxis Ireland.  “We will be working on the development of an online app, AlleRiC – Allergic Reactions in the Community. This integrated system will enable researchers to determine how, why, where and when, accidental allergic reactions occur in the community”.

Electric: Fish you were here!

Electric: Fish you were here!
From the large windows on Electric’s New Fish Bar, you see three of Cork’s quays: French’s Quay (named after a wine merchant), Sullivan’s Quay (where our government built ugly) and George’s Quay (from where this story comes).

Back in the last century, before the swinging sixties, a young girl from Evergreen Street skipped down Nicholas Hill and Dunbar Street to the riverside steps to collect sardines for her grandmother from the fishermen in their rowing boats. She took them back up, wrapped in a few pages of the Echo, where granny fried them and then ate them, bones and all.

 That story came up after Friday’s visit to that splendid new upstairs fish bar, bright and informal with those riverside views. Might have had ordered the sardines on the menu had we thought of it earlier but, as it was, we were delighted with what we had and the lovely welcome and service.

CL, the little girl in the opening story, started off with a gorgeous Gravadlax, a superb vodka and dill cured salmon with marinated beetroot and cucumber pickle. This was from the regular menu as was my opener: Dressed Crab and Shrimp (that comes in a pot), served with lemon, chilli and a basil and olive oil infused sourdough.

 We were sitting at the bar by the window and there is also one around the kitchen. Don’t like sitting up at bars? Don’t worry as there are quite a lot of tables here as well. As we ate, eyes were kind of hopping from one’s own dish to the other’s. Eventually, halfway through, a swap was arranged. Two different yet lovely dishes.
 And the same sharing arrangement continued when the main courses arrived. Again also the same simplicity on the plate, mainly the fish. If you want a little more, you have the option of ordering from a little list of sides.

Back to the fish. CL had (should say started) with the popular special: Whole Pink Bream with roasted Lemon and Fennell, a delicious reminder of seaside eating in Portugal (which Electric quote as an inspiration for the Fish Bar). My pick was also delicious and also fresh. This was the  Pan Fried Cod  served with chilli jam and Asian Slaw.

And, yes, they do have a dessert menu. No fish on this list but there was a trace of seaweed in the one we shared: Lemon and Carrageen Moss Posset with Raspberries. And that was polished off  before two happy customers walked out into the South Mall sunshine. Oh, forgot to mention (almost) that our bill was accompanied by two colourful postcards, one printed with the Fish you were here (above).

Fish Bar opening hours: Thursday - Friday – Saturday 12pm Midday to 10pm; also open Bank Holiday Sundays.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Amuse Bouche

-       “MacArthur Park.” That was me favourite.
-       A classic until Richard fuckin’ Harris took it and wrecked it.
-       It’s all it takes, isn’t i? Some cunt from ******** takes a certified disco classic and turns it into some sort of bogger lament.
-       Someone left the cake out in the rain.
-       They wouldn’t know what cake was in ********. They’d be puttin’ it in their hair.
-       An’anyway, they’d’ve robbed the fuckin’ cake long before it started rainin’.
From Two Pints by Roddy Doyle

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Coeliac Friendly Estrella

Coeliac Friendly Estrella

It was at Gilbey’s Wine Portfolio tasting in the Clarion earlier in the week that I came across the Estrella Daura, their gluten free lager. Quite a nice one too. Brand manager Ealron Kennedy had quite a few other beers there as well including the Estrella Inedit, the beer developed in association with Ferran Adria and the famous El-Bulli restaurant.

But I had a particular interest in the Daura as a friend of mine is a coeliac so I took a few details for his information. It is a refreshing good quality beer, brewed by Estrella Damm, a sponsor of Barcelona FC, a fact that should appeal to my buddy as should its endorsement by the Coeliac Society of Ireland. Ealron told me it is on sale widely and certainly in Dunnes Stores.

Expanded my research a little further and found that, of course, it was also on sale in Bradley’s Off Licence in North Main Street. And, when I checked with Michael Creedon in Bradley’s, he told had more gluten free beers and, in a few seconds, he had gathered a few (see photo).

Gleeson incorporating Gilbey’s are building their craft beer selection and I heard later in the afternoon that one of the leading Irish craft brewers will soon have their products included in the portfolio.

The World Beer Award winner for 2010, the Weihenstephan Vitus, is already in the Gilbey’s line-up and was available for tasting at the Clarion. I like my wheat beers. This is a strong one, 7.7% abv, with a taste to match; well balanced though.

The Dunkel, a dark wheat beer, comes from the same stable as does the Hefe, a cloudy wheat beer. The brewery, dating back to 1040, is regarded as the oldest in the world.

Ealron also had some Belgium beers (Vedett and Duvel), the Czech Budejovicke Pivo and a couple of Dutch (Bavaria Lager and Bavaria Regular Malt). Always thought Bavaria was a German beer but now I know better!