Thursday, October 31, 2013

Torres Tasting at Bradley’s

Torres Tasting at Bradley’s
Torres Tasting at Bradley’s
Bodegas Torres, probably best known here because of their Vina Sol and Sangre de Toro labels, is the largest wine company in Spain and exports to 140 countries. They also run wineries in Chile and California.

Their Brand Manager Marta Delfa will be in town next week. Bradley’s Off Licence on North Main Street is the venue for a two continent tasting. There’ll be a rosé and white from Chile and two reds from Spain.

It is an interesting line-up and I’m really looking forward to tasting the Ibericos, their first wine from La Rioja, their most recent regional venture in Spain. See more about Torres wines on You Tube (links at bottom).

Venue: Bradley’s, 81/82 North Main Street, Cork.
Date: Wednesday November 6th.
Time: 3.00pm to 5.00pm.

The wines:
Torres Ibericos Rioja Crianza Spain
Ibericos is Torres' first wine produced in Spain's most famous wine region, Rioja. Deep red cherry colour. On the nose it reveals notes of black ripened fruits and spicy aromas (cocoa and nutmeg) from the wood. Silky in the mouth with pleasant tannins. Long and spicy aftertaste. Tomas Clancy of the Sunday Business Post gave Ibericos 89 points and found it a "Polished, glossy and vibrant Tempranillo, bursting with blackcurrant and leather, rounded out with modernist tannic grip. Pitch perfect for drinking now". Accompanies roasted meats, stews, Iberian charcuterie and cured cheeses.

Torres Celeste Crianza Ribera Del Duero Spain
Made entirely from Tempranillo, rich, full bodied style, brimming with fruit and colour. Intense blackberry colour. Spicy and intense nose, with liquorice and black pepper hints on a base of well ripened fruits (blackberry and cherry). On the palate, very fruity at first with ripened tannins, also persistent and full bodied. Owing to its fruity and tannic characteristics, this wine pairs well with a great variety of meat dishes including roasts and small game.

Miguel Torres Santa Digna Sauvignon Blanc (Chile)
This unwooded Sauvignon Blanc is a lively dry elegant refreshing style showing a lovely combination of green apple flavours supported by ripe tropical fruits. Zesty, clean finish.

Miguel Torres Santa Digna Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé (Chile)
Fragrant and floral, with a temptingly fruity sensuality. On the palate the wine is voluptuous, with a silky texture and the sort of fresh, fruity body (blackcurrant, cranberry, redcurrant) that only Pacific Cabernet Sauvignon rosés can offer. Delicious with cured sausages, meat pies and many pasta dishes. The perfect wine for sweet-and-sour Chinese dishes.

See more about Torres wines on You Tube (links below)

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week
À la recherche du temps perdu.
A blàs from the past.
Oxtail Soup at the Farmgate Cafe, English Market, Cork.
Many of you will have put with weak imitations from packets in recent years.
This superb Oxtail will bring you back to the original
and will set you up for a wintry afternoon.
It is the real thing, eating and drinking in it!
Well done to the Farmgate team and to Chef Eddie!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Easy Food Home-Cook Hero Awards 2013 Finalists

Finalists Announced For Easy Food Home-Cook Hero Awards 2013

After months of entries, short-listing and deliberations, the 30 finalists have been selected for the upcoming Easy Food Home-Cook Hero Awards 2013, which takes place on Saturday, November 9th in Dublin.
The Easy Food Home-Cook Hero Awards, run by Ireland’s number one food magazine, is a national cookery competition open to all ages and 2013 sees its third year, and possibly highly contested and most popular to date!
Three finalists were selected for each of the ten varied categories from thousands of entries for their unique, tasty and creative recipes. Finalists are asked to take part in a cook-off final on the morning of Saturday, November 9th at Cooks Academy cookery school, South William Street, Dublin 2, where each person will cook their dishes for the competition judges.

One of our youngest finalists this year is eleven-year-old Andrew Ryan, from Navan, Co. Meath, who created ‘Andy’s Banana and Caramel Invention’ in the Tiny Taste category. “I made it for my Mam after dinner on Mother’s Day. My Dad made the dinner which turned out very bad but Mam said my Banana and Caramel Invention was the best thing ever.”

Bordeaux tops the Euro Red Contest

Bordeaux tops the Euro Red Contest
Beautiful wine from a very good year

I was in a really comfortable zone with the last glass of Caldora Yume Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2008. I reached out for the next bottle and was totally ambushed, in the nicest possible way, by this 2009 from Bordeaux.

Chateau Beaulieu Comtes de Tastes, Bordeaux Superieur 2009, 13.7%, 20.30 Karwig Wines 
This blend of Merlot (60%), Cabernet Sauvignon (30%) and Cabernet Franc, is a delight from a year of delight in the region. It has everything going for it: silky, fruity for sure but so well balanced and, of course, a long finish.

The producer’s description: A round and exuberant wine, very enjoyable in its youth, yet with a complexity and elegance one expects of prestigious Bordeaux. This wine will be enjoyed from its second year and beyond.
Very Highly Recommended.
Chateau du Donjon, La Pujade, Minervois 2010, 14.5%, €15.25, Karwig Wines

The vineyards of the "Château du Donjon", Panis family property since the 16th century, stretch out over the rural district of Bagnoles, the western part of the Minervois region. It is divided into two large parts, one for A.O.C. Minervois, and the other for "Vin de Pays". The grapes for this are from a vineyard that is over 100 years old, planted mainly with Grenache Noir vines.

There is a magnificent concentration of aromas in this dark red wine. Beautiful juicy black fruit flavours on the palate and also a little spice. Totally luscious then before this well balanced wine produces an excellent finish.
Needs to be decanted. Highly Recommended.

Messias Grande Escolha, Douro 2011, 13.5%, €15.40, Karwig Wines
Continued the very enjoyable Euro red sequence with this beauty from Portugal’s Douro, another with an intense aroma and then a smooth mouthfeel, a supple fruitiness on the palate followed by a terrific finish.

Grape Varieties used in this blend are all local: Touriga Franca; Touriga Nacional; Tinta Roriz; Tinta Barroca.

A big wine for the price and Highly Recommended. Unfiltered - Decanting advised.

Must say this was one of the best sets of reds that I’ve come across recently but the Italian, the Portuguese and the languedocien will have to take a place behind that superb Bordeaux. Of course, if you are having a group in, start them off with the other three before springing the Bordeaux. A perfect ambush. Of the nicest possible kind.

* Prices quoted all before recent tax ambush!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Visit to Midleton Country Market

Midleton Country Market

Farmers Markets are the buzzword now but don't think that the original country market has gone away. There are still scores of them around the country, including eight in Cork alone. Get the details here.

I called to the one in Midleton last Friday. The venue is the old school on Church Lane right in the middle of the town and with parking nearby.

You might be under the impression that this type of market is all about baking and you'd be half right. Midleton has a table full of baked goodies, small cakes and big ones. I picked up a gorgeous Strawberry and Almond cake for a fiver. Great value.

But there is much more there besides the cakes. Lots of healthy looking vegetables were on offer, along with pots of jams, honey, and relishes, apple juice, goat cheese and goat yoghurts and more besides (sometimes including crafts, maybe books from time to time).

A word of advice though. Do get there early as the best things are all snatched up first and I missed out a few items last week, including a goat curry! Good quality here as well. For instance, the hard goat cheese, from Castlemary Farm, won bronze at the 2012 Blas Awards in Dingle.

There is a major difference between these and the Farmers Markets. Here, you don't necessarily deal with the individual seller. In fact you might not meet him or her at all but you will meet some lovely helpful people around the hall.You pick up your basket on the way in and collect what you want from the various tables. Then you settle up as you go out. The lady wrote down our list and totted it up. She didn't have a calculator but was as quick as any checkout operator and soon we were on our way.


Weir Street
G.A.A. Hall
Youth Centre
St.James` Hall
GAA Hall, Macroom
Old School Church Lane
Glanmire GAA Hall
Abbeystrewry Hall

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cork Jazz Fest and Child of Prague

Jazz Fest and Child of Prague

Overheard: Saturday.
A man opening a new bar (the old Phoenix) on Union Quay was offered two Child of Prague statues, blonde and blue eyed of course.
“Why?” he asked.
“You can't open a bar without a Child of Prague,” was the answer.
“Why two?”
“In case the first one breaks.”

The bystander did not report the conclusion but I wonder if the person with the statutes also tried to off load one or two at 6IX (not sure whether that is pronounced Six or Six Nine), another new bar that opened this weekend on the premises previously known as Boqueria. The jazz weekend proved a good time to open for Electric (Happy Birthday Denis and Ernest) some three years ago and they haven't looked back since.

The reds line up at L'Atitude!
Heard the child of Prague story in L’Atitude to where we had retreated between beats on the streets. Haven't they got a magnificent collection of wines in there many of which come in 75ml, 150ml or 250ml (pichet) size servings.. As a guitarist played in the background we, who drink mainly European,  made something of a round the world trip on their reds: Australia for Cat Among the Pigeons Cabernet Sauvignon, California for Zinfandel, Lebanon for Massaya, and Argentina for Malbec. Favourite was perhaps the Massaya.
Moved on then to what we thought was a funeral, New Orleans style and starting outside the English Market at 5.30. We were there in good time but no sign of a corpse! Indeed no sign of life until the New York Brass Band turned up to inject massive fun into the proceedings. These guys are not from New York at all but from York in England. Why don't we twin with a town like that and guys like this?

They impressed on last year’s visit and were in top form on Saturday. They immediately commandeered any street furniture with a bit of height and soon had the crowd singing along, spilling out on to the parade and almost stopping the traffic. Great session guys and well done.
Beat 'n Blow
And this is all free. Have to say that the organisers put on a fantastic in-depth programme here in the city every year, anything from learning the ropes to impromptu stuff on the streets, to the extensive music trail around the pubs, to the fringe and to the serious (some not so serious) concerts.

Beat ‘n Blow were another band that I enjoyed last season. Saw the group from Berlin walking by the Opera House and followed them up to Paul Street where they put on a typically energetic engaging display in the plaza. They couldn't believe how the weather had changed from the morning rain and really enjoyed the sun and we all enjoyed their music. Great stuff folks.

In the meantime, the jazz goes on today and indeed you are sure to see the New York Brass Band and the Beat ‘n Blow on the streets and in the venues. And, as I write this, the sun is out. Let's go down town and blow up a storm!
Beat 'n Blow

Friday, October 25, 2013

Amuse Bouche

So I went to the Races with my family, Listowel was mobbed and everywhere was beautiful. Then we went up to the dancehall that night; you’d have to queue to get a meal in Listowel that time, there were only a few restaurants; women used not drink much that time, ‘twas all the men that went into the pubs; a woman was considered a bit of a gangster if she drank...
From Mary Keane in conversation with Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Cork Literary Review 2013.

Bunnyconnellan's Michael off to Amsterdam

Bunnyconnellan's Michael off to Amsterdam as Irish Star Serve champion
Blarney Castle Hotel, SoHo and Barry's also shine at Heineken event.

Michael O’Sullivan, winner of Heineken Star Serve Award 2013 pictured at the Heineken Star Serve Awards final in The Savoy Theatre, Cork. Michael will compete and represent Ireland in the Global Pint Pouring Championships next month alongside 22 other international markets in Amsterdam. Heineken Star Serve celebrates the perfectly poured pint of Heineken every time. 

Michael was elated with the news “I’m absolutely delighted. I take real pride in my job and put passion into giving good service so having that recognised by Heineken Star Serve is a true honour!” 
Representing his country on the global stage doesn’t faze the Cork man in the slightest - “I can’t wait! Being hosted in the home of Heineken and getting to pour the perfect pour in the place where it all began while representing my country is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m going to enjoy every minute.”

Michael wasn’t the only Cork hero however. Local Cork bars shone brightly on the night when The Blarney Castle Hotel and John O'Sullivan's Bar  picked up special awards for demonstrating Best Customer Service Experience in the industry while SoHo and Barry’s of Douglas Bar scooped the Best Star Serve Bar awards. Well done to all and best of luck to Michael!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Annam - From my kitchen to yours.

Annam - From my kitchen to yours.
(authentic taste of south India)

Ruth was in touch recently to tell me all about Annam - From my kitchen to yours.
“We are two friends (one Indian, one Irish) who have been running supper clubs and cookery classes in Cork for over six months now. We are attempting to introduce a really authentic taste of south Indian to the people of Ireland. There's no vindaloos or lamb baltis on our menus! We even encourage people to eat the Indian way - with their hands! If people are interested to find out about Idly, dosa, chicken chettanad, chutney and lots of different types of food and spices then we're here to help!

We run our supper club on the second Friday of every month and our cookery class on the fourth Friday of the month at the Cookery Cottage on the South Douglas road. So far we have had a huge response what we are doing. We have had people from all over Cork attend our evenings, which are very social, everyone eats together and are positively encouraged to bring a bottle of their fancy while cooking and eating.

We would like to say a huge thanks to you all for your support in getting Annam off the ground over the last 9 months! It has been so inspiring and encouraging to have you at our supper clubs and cookery classes and we've learnt tons. We've had great fun doing them and we really hope you've enjoyed attending. We hope that we offer something a little different with our experience in that it's a very social evening but you also get the chance to learn too!”
Here are the up and coming events for October, November and December.

Friday 25th October 7pm - Cookery Class - Cookery cottage
A south Indian theme this time. As usual a cocktail served with vegetable bhajis and coconut chutney. You will also be given a short demo followed by hands on workshop:
Tomato Rice
Chicken Chettinad
Crispy Potato fry
Green Beans Poriyal
We will have a sit down meal at the end so please bring a bottle of whatever you like!
Cost - €40 BYOB

Saturday 2nd November - Diwali celebration - Cork cricket club
Annam is running a street food stall in the Cork Cricket club as a part of the Diwali Lights installation by the Cork Community Art Link and Cork Indian Summer. Come for the fabulous food and the lights 2.30 to 5.30 pm. More information at

Friday 15th November 7pm - Supper Club - At home with Annam
We will serve you a 3 course authentic Indian meal with a cocktail on arrival and tea or coffee to finish. Menu to follow. Due to very positive feedback we have decided to run the next few supper clubs from our chef Banu's home. We feel our supper club is more suited to an intimate, homely environment!
Cost - €35 BYOB.

Friday 29th November 12.30-2.20pm- Charity lunch - Cookery cottage
Annam is hosting an Indian Lunch in aid of Pralayashema which is a small Charity operating in the East Coast of India in Tamil Nadu. Come and eat our fabulous food and donate to a good cause. Your money will go towards buying school supplies for some very underprivileged children who would not get to go to school if not for Charities like Parlayashema. Their members travel to these very rural areas to give the school supplies like uniforms, books, stationary etc to the families.
For more information please visit

Friday 6th December 7pm - Cookery class - Cookery cottage
Fancy a Christmas party with a difference? Cook up a storm with your friends or colleagues at our Indian cookery class. Enjoy the labours of your hard work at the end with a few drinks! Menu to follow.
Cost - €40 BYOB

Places are limited so please get in touch as soon as possible to book your place. If you're at the cricket club for Diwali be sure to swing by and say hey!

Phone087 685 6315

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week

No rest for the inventive folks at Green Saffron. Arun and company have launched a range of Cook-in Sauces, all incorporating their wonderful blends of fresh spices. Was introduced to them at the launch of the Brown Thomas Food Emporium. 

They are also available at the Roughty Fruit King in the English Market and it was here that I picked up the jar of Tikka. Used it last evening for a four person meal and it went down a treat, thick and intense, and  so easy to use. Next we'll be gunning for the other flavours: the Jalfrezi and the Korma.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bobas Bubble Tea. A New Kind of Cuppa!

Bobas Bubble Tea

Called into the Bobas Bubble Tea Cafe in McCurtain Street yesterday, not really knowing what to expect.

Had heard that the Bubble Tea trend had started in Taiwan back in the 1980s but we were to be treated to the up to date European experience by manager Louise McCormack who opened the Cork shop early in the summer. It is proving quite a hit, particularly with the students from the nearby schools.
What mix will you have?

And their parents can be pleased enough as the youngsters are showing good food sense here; the tea drinks are a healthy alternative to fizzy drinks. “They have less sugar and less calories than a smoothie, no caffeine and the green tea is packed with antioxidants.”

Not surprisingly the European style is more popular here but you can also get the Asian style which relies more on milk. Louise is working on a new menu at the moment and basically Bobas will be going with the tea (and Toppings) on its own or with Pizza (slice) or Pasta (pot). And they hope to add frozen yoghurts in the new year.

Well, what about the tea? We had a look at the menu and picked the Peach and Passionfruit. The base tea was Jasmine Green which was put through the “machine” where it picked up the bubbles. Then Louise added the toppings, Popping Balls of Mango and Passionfruit, and also some jelly and served the cool drink to us in its container.

Louise on duty at Bobas

It was absolutely gorgeous, a very pleasant experience indeed. And a bit of fun as well as the popping balls came through the relatively large straw! I reckon those students and young professionals who are trooping to the cafe know a thing or two about good taste!

Bobas have a special Chritsmas Tasting Night coming up but you’ll need to book soon. Check it out on their Facebook page

Cafe Details
Manager: Louise McCormack
087 213 2753
42b McCurtain Street, Cork
Opening Hours:
11am-7pm Mon-Sat and closed on Sunday.