Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Taste of the Week. A Woodside Farm Special!

Taste of the Week. A Woodside Farm Special!
If you are heading down to the weekly Mahon Point Farmers Market this Thursday, make a beeline to the Woodside Farm stall and treat yourself to our Taste of the Week.

Martin Conroy’s blackboard gives all the details: Free Range Saddleback Hog Roast, with caramelised Onion, Apple sauce, Ballymaloe relish, Mustard and salad, all contained (almost) in a lovely bap by Pana. The slow cooked meat comes with a guarantee:  All our meat comes from pigs born on our farm.

Martin and wife Noreen (and increasingly the younger members of the family) operate not just in Mahon but also in Douglas, Cobh and Midleton markets. Their products are on sale in the shop at the Ballymaloe Cookery School and you’ll also see them next month in the Big Shed in Ballymaloe during the LitFest.

“We breed pedigree Saddleback and Pedigree Gloucester Old Spot pigs.They live outdoors all of their lives where they root and forage, they sleep in movable arks on straw bedding.We don't feed our pigs commercial ration instead they are fed mainly rolled wheat and we also grow Kale and Swede Turnip.They are rotated onto fresh pasture regularly.”

You may well be familiar with his tasty pork and bacon products but this recently introduced hot dish is something special. “That’ll set you up for the day,” Martin called to me as I queued up last Thursday (it does get very busy as lunch-time  approaches).  He wasn't kidding. This wasn't just a lunch snack. Think dinner here! Massive and massively tasty. Very Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Amuse Bouche

Ranty went to the calf and wished her well….and tied a rope about her neck… The animal stood legs outstretched and the veins on its neck...Ranty moved fast and…produced a blade...and made an incision. The beast gave its blood, the fluid draining into a piggin he held in the other hand, and when he had enough he handed the jar to Coyle...and made good the wound with thread.
He boiled the blood with oaten meal and they ate the blackened stew from cracked bowls and not a sound...but for the working of their jaws.

from Red Sky in Morning by Paul Lynch

Eating Bandon and Drinking Bordeaux

Good Food from Bandon and Good Wine from Bordeaux
Made a short visit to Bandon Farmers Market last Saturday. And every stallholder I called to said I was great to come out in the rain. But if you'ee not willing to go out in the rain in Ireland, you’re going to waste half your life.

Great to see some familiar faces like Shirley Kingston, the market co-ordinator, and some new ones as well. Of course, it’s all about the food and I was delighted when Nathan Wall of the Saddleback Pig Company in Baltimore showed me his new product: Sweet Black Bacon Smoked. He tells me it's proving very popular. We’ll have more on Nathan and his fantastic “black” rashers in the next week or so.

There was a terrific selection of organic vegetables available at one stand where the popular “Dutch” was in excellent form, not a bit cranky today he indicated. Tomatoes, chillies, sweet peppers, aubergines and onions caught the eye but we helped ourselves to carrots, some haricot vert, onions and the in-season Asparagus of course.

No shortage of bakers here and Heavens Cakes, well known in the English Market, had some sweet things on offer. Good too to see Dunmanway Baking Emporium with a stall here, including a baguette that we needed for the evening.

And another surprise was the stand manned, if that’s the word, by Toni. Jams, chutneys and pickles, and relishes of all types, including Red Currant Jelly, Rose Hip and Apple Jelly and Fruit  compote. She also sells her eggs, all at a very reasonable price.

The rain, by the way, was bad enough at times but there were clear spells as well and we took advantage of one of those to trot over to the quay and call in to see Ruth Healy in her fabulous food store and cafe at URRU. The warm cups of coffee and a massive ginger cookie were more than welcome.
Bandon is indeed well supplied with places to eat and, of course, things to eat. I had spotted the well stocked, well laid out butcher shop of Martin Carey on previous visits and made a point of calling this time.

This award winning store has a huge choice of meats but we went for the French trimmed lamb shanks, served up later that evening with market vegetables and a red wine gravy. The red wine, Chateau Lamothe Vincent, came from Bordeaux and not all of it went into the cooking!

The starter, a bruschetta using the baguette from the market, some Atlantic Sea Salt and a tomato salsa (all along the lines suggested by the Turkhead Delights cookbook), was excellent as was the dessert, a crumble with rhubarb (from the back garden) and orange. But mainly it was Bandon and Bordeaux. And I really couldn’t tell you if it was raining when I tucked into the lamb!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Nash 19. The Twenty Fourteen Renaissance.

Nash 19. The Twenty Fourteen Renaissance
Domaine Montmarrin (Fr.)
 Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Sometimes it is the big things. All this beautiful produce. Where does it come from? The answer is it’s local. How it is handled, cooked, presented? Brilliantly. And in the mix too are small things. Like those fresh-as-the-morning-dew salads. And that gorgeous creamy custard that comes with your fruit tart. Add them all together with a classy friendly service and you have Nash 19. Now add a remake from the sodden tatters of the floods and you have a new comfortable space in which all this happens. Bright and white, it is the Nash 19 Twenty Fourteen Renaissance!
After this display of determination, some things have changed but some remain the same. The must-try Producers’ Plate, a Taste of the Region, still tops the lunch menu, a menu that changes daily. Other favourites, like Ardsallagh Cheese and Jack McCarthy, get their share of the spotlight, all adding up to a terrific choice.
On Friday, McCarthy’s black pudding made an unusual appearance, as part of a Frittata with  caramelised apple and Brie. I did get a taster of this and it is lovely, highly recommended.
Delighted to also recommend my main course, the Mexican Chicken Warm Salad with Guacamole, tomato salsa and Horizon leaves. The Horizon Farm leaves also featured on our other mains: the Crab Cakes Warm Salad, another one to recommended.
And that smashing custard, a reminder of times past, featured in CL’s dessert, a beautifully done Mixer Berry and Apple Tart. My dessert, their famous Mille Feuille, may well have been misspelled on the menu but on the plate it was as delightful as ever. Glad that some things remain the same but glad too of the new bright surroundings, including that new ceiling window, in which the well loved Nash 19 operates. A bright future to all involved.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Wine from the isle of Margaux. And one from mainland Medoc.

Wine from the isle of Margaux.
And one from mainland Medoc.

Domaine de L’Ile Margaux, Bordeaux Superieur 2006, 13%, €24.00, Karwig Wines    

Amazing how your geography improves when you are interested in wine. Just found when checking up on this bottle that there is an island called Ile de Margaux in the Gironde estuary and it is opposite Chateau Margaux and, in addition, grows all the main grapes of the Medoc!

This charming wine is more complex than your normal Bordeaux AOC. Colour is garnet and the aromas are of the darker fruits with a hint of vanilla. Black and red fruits and some spice too on the palate. It has a refreshing acidity, tannins there for sure but not too obvious. It has quite a pleasing mouthfeel and a longish dry finish.

Traditionally made so you will find a deposit but this just emphasises its credentials. Superbly made and well balanced, this is Very Highly Recommended. Might well be hopping over to the island when in the area this summer.

La Paroisse Haut Medoc 2009, 13.5%, €22.35 Karwig Wine

The Cave Saint Seurin de Cadourne is hardly one of the best known producers in the Medoc but this well structured 2009 red, 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, is quite a wine.

You get a hint of what's to come from the welcoming red fruit aromas. It is really well balanced, with supple tannins, and a long finale. Hard to beat Bordeaux! From aroma to finish, this traditional elegant wine doesn't disappoint.

Don't worry if it hasn't a big chateau name attached. Don't worry either if you find a deposit in the bottom of the bottle. This is all natural as the wine hasn’t been treated. Very Highly Recommended.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Organic Wines at Karwig

Organic at Karwig Wines

On a recent visit to the Carrigaline HQ of Karwig Wines I was surprised by the amount of organic wines they had on sale. Here are a few that I enjoyed.
At Karwig in Carrigaline

Latué Clearly Organic Tempranillio 2011, vdt Castilla Spain, 13%, €11.75, Karwig Wines
Apparently, this wine is also sold under the Latué label but this Clearly Organic label, reinforced by a Bio collar, is selling better than its unadorned stablemate. It has a bright ruby red colour and has aromas of fruits, including blackberries. This 100 percent Tempranillo is quite pleasant, slightly spicy, with a good finish. A really decent organic wine at a good price and Highly Recommended.

Domaine Bourdic, Octandre 2009, Cotes de Thongue IGT, 13.5%, €13.42 Karwig Wines  
This very likeable red from the Languedoc (near Pezenas) is made from the eight red vines of the domaine. Each variety is vinified separately and blended after 12 months. Cabernet Sauvignon (39%), Cinsault (24) and Tempranillo (15) are the main contributors. The fruit is picked from vines “in the course of conversion to biologique”.
Colour is medium red and the soft subtle aromas are of red fruits. On the palate it is juicy and fruity, easy drinking, well balanced and with a good finish. Highly recommended.

Domaine Bourdic, Density 2010, Cotes de Thongue IGT, 12.5%, €15.29, Karwig Wines

No major complications with this white as just two varieties are used: Vermentino and Roussanne. Colour is a sandy gold (micro bubbles cling to the glass) and the aromas are also rich. The initial contact on the palate is fairly complex, even hints of sweetness, followed by a long and dry finish. Takes a bit of getting used to but Highly Recommended. Maybe I'm a bit biased as I do like these two grape varieties.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Taste of the Week: Star of the Dão. Flor de Viseu.

A Star of the Dão. Flor de Viseu.

Flor de Viseu, Selection Branco 2012, Dão (Portugal), 12.5%, €12.99/13.99 Wine Alliance Stockists.

Must admit I know very little about Encruzado, Cerceal Branco and Malvasia Fina, three Portuguese grapes. What I do know now is when you skillfully blend the three, as has been done here, you’ll have a lovely crispy zesty white wine in your hands, a Very Highly Recommended one. This is so good, I have no hesitation whatsoever in adding it to my (rather skimpy) 2014 recommendations.

Colour may well be a bit on the pale side but the aromas are inviting. And, once you have it on the palate, you'll know you have a good thing. Fruitiness and freshness combine, reaching all parts and then you have a gorgeous lingering finish.

They recommend serving it at 8 degrees centigrade. Advice worth taking. Certainly, don’t serve it at anything under it or you'll risk losing some of those beautiful flavours.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

English Market + 2 New Cookbooks

English Market + 2 New Cookbooks = 2 Excellent Meals

Been busy with two new cookbooks this weekend: The Buenvino Cookbook and Turkhead Culinary Delights. The former, recently launched in Ballymaloe Cookery School, is by Jeannie and Sam Chesterton, while the latter is by Alain and Edel Wille and is subtitled A West Cork Indulgence.

As it turns out, the West Cork one is the more international containing recipes from Indonesian, Japanese, French, Italian, Dutch, Belgian, British and Irish kitchens and the latter is based on recipes from a finca (farmhouse) in Spain, in Andalusia.  Luckily enough - and it is a sign of the times - most of the ingredients can be obtained locally.

Indeed, I got most of them in the English Market on Friday morning: Quails eggs from O’Sullivan Poultry, Arbutus Sourdough, Serrano (Iberico would have been better) and a chunk of Jack McCarthy’s French Style black pudding from On The Pig's Back, salmon and mussels from O'Connell's, Chicken fillets from The Chicken Inn, seaweed and organic salads (and the Turkhead book) from Fresh from West Cork, and so on.

Garlic Buttered Mussels from Turkhead (French Kitchen)

Quails Eggs on Black Pudding from Buenvino
Used Jack McCarthy's black pudding instead of the Burgos and Serrano instead of Iberico,
all on toasted Arbutus sourdough.

Romeria Chicken from Buenvino
Chicken breasts, turmeric, white sesame seeds, parsley or coriander.
May be served hot or cold.

Dutch Appleflappen from Turkhead.

Mussels with (Saffron and) Spinach by Buenvino.
Forgot the Saffron but this is one of the best mussel dishes I've ever had.

Edel's Salmon Oven Dish from Turkhead (Irish Kitchen)
Salmon, Dijon Mustard, Tomatoes, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper, Cranberries, Raisins, Rice, Dried Seaweed.
A superb main course.

The Books

Turkhead Culinary Delights (A West Cork Indulgence) is by Alain Wille and Edel Wille. You can get all the details on this book here, even an APP that will help make out your shopping list for the recipes. I got my copy at the Fresh from West Cork stall in the English Market and you may also download a copy at iTunes Book Store for only €1.99 on this link.

The Buenvino Cookbook (Recipes from our farmhouse in Spain) by Jeannie and Sam Chesteron is a much larger book and has a more traditional layout. It was launched recently (details here) in the Ballymaloe Cookery School and is available in the shop there. It is also available on Amazon   for £20.00 and less.

Both are quite practical and it looks as we will be using them regularly, a sign that they have passed the first test! Highly Recommended.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Amuse Bouche

They saw a man starving, so they began sending monthly food packages via UPS. There was an elaborate roast, capped with a spiked crown and wreathed in red roses. There were deliveries of salmon, tuna, chocolate cakes with thick icing, sponge cakes, pastries, fruits, and nuts. These provisions roused Carter’s long-dormant olfactory senses and satisfied a long-forgotten hunger. The moist meats and feathery cakes also had a powerful tactile dimension. Just holding a piece of roast or a slice of sponge cake, for Carter, was a balm on calloused fingers.

From Hurricane, The life of Rubin Carter fighter, by James S. Hircsh.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Franciscan Well Easter Beer Festival

Franciscan Well Easter Beer Festival

Made an early visit to the Franciscan Well Beer Festival this Saturday afternoon and took my chance to sample some of the newer brews before the crowds started to roll in on this sunny day.

Last year, the Lynch brothers from Mayfield’s Cotton Ball were on the outside of the ring; this time, Eoin and Humphrey were serving their own beers including their latest. This is called Indian Summer and is quite a lovely drink for the days ahead, a mix of lager ingredients and an ale yeast.

Not to be outdone, the now well established Eight Degrees also had new one on offer, the Full Irish, a strong 100 per cent Irish Malt ale. I've had a sneak preview of the publicity shots for this one. X is the letter that springs to mind! Think Full Monty!

Blacks of Kinsale were promising a surprise for later in the afternoon when a special set-up will allow them to add fresh hops (a new one called Equinox) at the very last moment to Kinsale Pale Ale. Can't get fresher than that. Try that and don’t forget to sample their Beoir #1

Beers from new Connemara brewery available at Bradley's, North Main Street, Cork.
Great to meet up with Jamie from White Gypsy and his innovative beers. Tried his lovely refreshing Wheat beer, the beer you need after walking round, Bavarian in style but Irish “engineered”. The 5.2% Pilsner isn't half bad either. White Gypsy are growing their own hops this year and are also hoping that more and more restaurants will offer a craft beer as an alternative to wine.

The gregarious Mountain Man was another brewer I had not met before and he explained that his Hairy Goat was an English Style IPA with a lowish ABV. Nothing low though about the ABV of its American cousin, the 7.5% Crazy Horse. Well worth a try.

Micro-breweries just keep popping up around the country and next up was JJ's from County Limerick. This was their first outing and the 4.8% Pils lager promised much, especially as this is their very first beer.

aAnd another newcomer, the 9 White Deer Brewery from Ballyvourney, was also making its debut. Gordon Lucey tells me their hops, including Amarillo, Cascade and Fast Gold, comes from all over the world but the "mystical" water is local as is the yeast. This will soon be on sale in 500ml bottles and watch out for other beers, including a stout.

Nice to chat with Caroline of Eight Degrees and also with Claire from Dungarvan Brewing Company. I always enjoy the Dungarvan beers and tried a couple this time: their wheat beer and their Comeragh Challenge Irish Bitter. Had a preference for the former but isn't that what craft beer is all about. Great to have the choice. Long may the craft revolution continue!

The Franciscan Well Festival continues until late this Saturday evening and is on again tomorrow Sunday with soakage provided by the on site pizza maker! Enjoy.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Taste of the Week: Kimchi


Kimchi is a traditional fermented Korean side dish made of vegetables with a variety of seasonings. In traditional preparation kimchi is often allowed to ferment underground in jars for months at a time.
It is Korea's national dish, with hundreds of varieties made from napa cabbage, radish, scallion, or cucumber as a main ingredient. Kimchi also has many different kinds depends on the main ingredients.
You don't have to go to Korea to taste it Irene’s Kitchen in Schull has produced two versions as detailed below:

‘Kimchi Vegan’
Ingredients Chinese Cabbage, Shallots, Spring Onion, Garlic, Ginger, Chilli Powder, Cayenne pepper, kelp, chillies, sea salt. (in order of volume).
Ingredients Chinese Cabbage, Shallots, Spring Onion, Garlic, Ginger, Shrimp Paste, Fish sauce,  Chilli Powder, Cayenne pepper, kelp, chillies, sea salt. (in order of volume).
Both are stocked by the Fresh from West Cork Stall in the English Market. By the way, when you do taste it, do take just a little as it is hot!

If, like me, you don't know how to use Kimchi, then here are a few random tips from the internet.

...great on tuna sandwiches!!  …..put a little dish of it out with every meal.  
You could put kimchi on a hot dog, .. or maybe even grilled cheese!
-Spicy pork and kimchi: Sliced pork belly with kimchi stir fried together with some sliced green onions on top. You can add Gochujang for more spicy flavor but Kimchi already has so much flavor. Let pork and kimchi marinate overnight for more intense flavor!

-Ssahm: You can cook any ground meat (pork or beef would be better) or cubed tofu with shredded kimchi. All you need is some rice and boston lettuce and wrap them all together! yummy!

... kimchi and scrambled eggs.

...also add it to stir fries / fried rice.

maybe with mashed potatoes Click here for recipe

After doing that wee bit of research, I was in touch with Caroline Hennessy (Bibliocook on Twitter). She tells me that it is allied with Sauerkraut and she ”loved to eat it (drained) in sandwiches or with rice dishes, especially if the rice is topped with a fried egg. Fermented cabbage, some grain like rice, barley or wheat berries, some fried chorizo and a fried egg = that's a good dinner!”

Electric Fish Bar Celebrates

Electric Fish Bar Celebrates

Congratulations to Electric on the South Mall who celebrated the first birthday of their upstairs Fish Bar with quite a party last Wednesday night. Great too to meet and have a chat with Denis O’Mullane and Ernest Cantillon, the men behind the Electric enterprise. Neither seems to know where the past 12 months vanished to, but then they've been working hard!

Cork’s foodies were out in force to help celebrate the event and restaurant manager Triona Hennessy was on hand to ensure it all went well. She needn't have worried, as the happy guests were treated to some of the most popular dishes from the past year including Scallop & Cod Burgers, Thai Monkfish and Fresh Oysters.

Must say that the Burger, with its fabulous flavours plus the gorgeous texture of that Brioche bun (made on the premises), is a winner for sure and I enjoyed every tasty bit of that one. CL meanwhile was tucking into the Pan Fried Hake with Chickpea, Tomato and Spinach Ragout and Crispy Chorizo, another cracking dish.

We enjoyed the sunny view over the Lee as we started with a medley of Oysters, Seared Tuna and Salmon Gravadlax. Delicious and so too was Fiona Turner’s Tinpot Hut Pinot Gris that accompanied us for the evening. Nice touch too at the end with a dessert plate that surprised and included a Fruit Sushi, Pineapple Melty Bits and meltingly gorgeous truffles. Yes, indeed, Electric know how to celebrate!
Speaking about the success of the Fish Bar's first year, Ernest said: "The FishBar at Electric is extremely popular. We pride ourselves on being innovative and providing the highest quality fish dishes to our customers. We are lucky in Cork that we have access to such a plentiful supply of locally sourced fresh seafood, so we like to make the most of it. To celebrate our first birthday we wanted to treat our guests to some of our favourite and most popular dishes over the past year and judging by the empty plates it went down well.”

In the last 12 months, this Mediterranean inspired FishBar has gone from strength to strength, creating a fresh buzz in Cork City, and open each week from Wednesday to Saturday (5.00pm till late). No need to book - reservations are not taken - just walk in and enjoy.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Amuse Bouche

“If wine were to disappear from human production, I believe it would cause an absence, a breakdown in health and intellect, a void much more dreadful than all the excesses and deviations for which wine is thought to be responsible.” 
Charles Baudelaire, from the Michelin Green Guide: Wine Regions of France.