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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Northern Whites. Double Delight.

Northern Whites
Double Delight


On the Loire

We’ve got two excellent whites for you to consider this week. One is a Riesling from Germany’s Rheingau and the other is a Sauvignon Blanc from the little-known Menetou-Salon appellation in the Loire valley.

Germany’s greatest variety, Riesling, is first documented in the Rheingau in 1435. Don't think Carl Ehrhard has been there that long but he has built up a great reputation and our selection is a lovely example.

Menetou-Salon is a village at the eastern end of the Loire Valley wine region. Wine-searcher.com says it is “forecast by many to be a potential rival for the famous Sancerre appellation (its immediate north-eastern neighbor), Menetou-Salon is rapidly establishing its reputation at an international level”. The reputation is being built on two varieties: Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

Carl Ehrhard Rüdesheim Riesling Kabinett Feinherb 2015, Rheingau (Germany), 11.5%, €18.60 Karwig Wines

A few words:
Kabinett: a wine made from fully ripened grapes of the main harvest, one level lower than Spätlese.
Feinherb: off dry.

This light gold 100% Riesling has lots of mini-bubbles clinging to the glass. There are white fruit aromas and the intense fresh fruit flavours (apple, citrus) make the tongue tingle at the start before rolling deliciously on. That tingle is the acidity keeping all that lively lovely fruit (with its hints of sweetness) in balance, right through to the excellent finish. Carl Ehrhard never leaves one down and this is Very Highly Recommended.

Just to let those of you worried about the whiffs of diesel from some Rieslings know, there is not a trace of fumes here!


Jean-Max Roger, Morogues, Le Petit Clos 2014, Menetou-Salon (AOC), 12.5%, €21.55 Karwig Wines

This is a classic Loire Sauvignon blanc, on a par with neighbouring Sancerre where Jean-Max also farms. It is elegant and restrained and the perfect partner for “the bounty of the seas,..... Also a good match for white meats and goat’s cheese”. The fruit comes from 5 hectares of vines in Le Petit Clos vineyard. In this steep south-facing slope, grape quality is the season long target.

This light gold wine has pleasant herbaceous aromas, citrus hints too, and these follow through on a fresh and lively palate, superb balance and long finish. Dry and crisp, with lots of character, this excellent Sauvignon Blanc is Highly Recommended.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Fine Art and Fine Dining at Greyfriars Church. Superb Waterford Gallery

Fine Art and Fine Dining at Greyfriars Church
Superb Waterford Gallery
Hake
Might as well have been a Philistine that walked into the old Greyfriars Church for the EAT Waterford Tasting Menu last Sunday afternoon. Oh, I knew about the multi-course lunch and the combination of local restaurants that had worked so hard to put it together and showcase their different skills. But I had no idea that the old church is now a gallery, has been since 2001.

But soon, one or two local enthusiasts were pointing me away from the tables, to the walls. I hadn't really noticed all the artwork hanging here. And so I started viewing before too many diners came in. “There’s a Yeats there,” I was told. And so there was, an oil on canvas titled While Grass Grows.
Greyfriars and Jack B. Yeats

And close by there’s a Paul Henry (Evening in Kerry), a Mainie Jellett (Virgin and Child), an Evie Hone (abstract), one by George William Russell, better known as AE, called Boy with Donkey on Skyline, a Louis Le Brocquy (Belfast Refugees at Mespil Road, Dublin, 1941), and quite a few more, thirty nine in all.

The 39 have been selected from the Waterford Municipal Art Collection by Patrick Murphy, director, Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin and were exhibited in the RHA in 2015. There is not much time left to see the current display in Greyfriars as it due to finish at the end of the current month. All the Greyfriar details here.



Amuse Bouche
 So back then to meet the strangers at our table - not strangers for long - and time to study the menu with a glass of wine in hand. Some pretty pictures soon on our plates, starting with the Colcannon, Leek compote and Bacon Crumb Amuse Bouche.


An amazingly juicy Heirloom tomato from the local Grantstown nurseries was the feature of our starter, a salad with ribbons of local vegetables. The next course, the fish, was possibly the highlight of the afternoon: Seared Dunmore East Hake “Chu-Chie”, coconut, Thai Spice Rub, Kaffir Lime Leaves and pickled veg, a perfect balance between the delicate fish and the spices.



Starter

Next up was the meat course: Honey mustard glazed pork neck, smoked bacon choucroute, home-made white pudding, and red wine apple purée. Another excellent balanced combination. I liked that choucroute and the purée went so well with the pork.


Tom Cleary popped up on nearly every table over the weekend but it was something of a surprise to some to see the well-known grower of salads and vegetables contributing to the dessert: Bavois of Tom Cleary’s organic beetroot, pistachio, wild blackberry glaze, lime and basil sorbet.



Pork
 The Tasting Menu was the work of EAT Waterford, a collaborative initiative by the restaurateurs of Waterford City, that is aimed at helping food lovers to find the best places to eat in Waterford.


This year it was the turn of Athenaeum House Hotel, Bellissimo, L’Atmosphere, Loko, Momo, the Olive Tree, Sabai and the Tower Hotel, all ardent supporters of local produce to contribute their time and skills. No shortage of local drinks either at Greyfriars with beers from Dungarvan Brewery and gin from the Blackwater Distillery on hand. Wines too, of course, but we haven’t started to grow enough grapes to make our own yet!

Dessert
See also:

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Granary’s Waterford Brunch. And more from the harvest streets

The Granary’s Waterford Brunch
And more from the harvest streets
Goatsbridge trout

Peter Fowler, owner of The Granary, was in great form as he welcomed guests to the bright and spacious cafe. The guests came in numbers for the Producers Brunch, one of the highlights of the annual Waterford Harvest Festival. It was a sell-out, with part of the proceeds going to the local Samaritans.


The Granary put on a fantastic spread last Sunday morning for guests that included Gay Byrne. “This is the first time for The Granary,” said the enthusiastic Peter. I don't think it will be the last time. “We have met the best suppliers, suppliers that we wouldn't otherwise have met. Events like these put ideas in your head.” He had praise too for his staff “the best in Waterford”.

Anyone for porridge?
 The event was sponsored by John Flahavan; Flahavan's are long time supporters of the festival. For over 200 years Flahavan’s has been operating its oatmill beside the River Mahon in Kilmacthomas, John reminded us as we sampled their Bircher muesli with Deise honey, fruit compote and cinnamon!

John then handed the mike over to another John, John McKenna. “What an unbelievable spread,” enthused McKenna. “This would not have been possible in the years when Sally (who was in the audience) and I were starting out”. He went on to list the advantages that Waterford food enjoys and can enjoy into the future, “unique food, including the blaa”. “You have everything here to stake a claim to be food capital of Ireland's Ancient East”.

Dessert?

The choices on the groaning tables were eye-catching, everything from Hot and Cold Choices, salads, cheeses, desserts, and drinks. Hard to list them all but here’s a few highlights:

Cod from Jim Doherty with a Metalman Pale Batter;

Baked fillets of Goatsbridge Trout;

Broccoli, tomato and Dungarvan Cheese Salad;
Blaas by Walsh's Bakery, sourdough by Seagull Bakery;
Cheese selection by the Little Milk Company;
Granary desserts, especially that massive Blackberry Pavlova;
And brunch drinks from Clodagh Davis and Cahir's Apple Farm.


Smoke on the street
 We had arrived in Waterford around lunchtime on Saturday and, having found parking (not easy, but we got lucky!), we started looking at the hot food stalls. Quite a few around, lots of smoke rising but as soon as we reached the Irish Piedmontese stand, we stopped and ordered a pair of their delicious burgers. Tasty stuff. Enjoyed them sitting on the sun as the band played on the Thin Gin stage.


Barry John was sampling his award winning flavoured sausages. How about Bacon and Cabbage? Maybe Cheddar Cheese and Chilli? No shortage of pizzas. There was a taste of Portugal. Stuff to bring home too, honey from Knockmealdown, trout from Mag of Goatsbridge and jams from Wexford Preserves both in the SuperValu area. There were Cocktail Classes, Whiskey Tastings, Iyer’s Pop Up and so much more.


Here be friendly dragon.
There was a massive dragon under the Bishop’s Palace and he, multicolored against Saturday’s blue sky, was dominating the Mall but no one worried - he looked a friendly fellow. All kinds of art all over over the place, on the streets, on the quays. The larger than life size tables and chairs, there was even a deck-chair, attracted kids of all ages. Tango dancers entertained us too. There was a Tapas River Tour also and we heard it was great.


And we would return to the streets again on Sunday to enjoy the fun of the Market, The Fit & Wellness Area, The Food Heroes Exhibition, Farm to Fork at Ballybricken, The Viking Rocks Craft Beer Fest, The Festival Fair, the SuperValu Food Academy. We didn't get to them all. Looks like we’ll have to go back next year!



Haute cuisine. Have you got the bottle?
See also:

Monday, September 12, 2016

Pleasures of the Sea at La Bohème

Pleasures of the Sea at La Bohème
If you walk up Gladstone Street from the Waterford quays, you will immediately see, straight ahead, an elegant Georgian building. We are headed for the equally elegant basement underneath to enjoy the fruits of the sea served up by Eric Théze and his team in La Bohème.

When Eric and his wife Christine came here, it was love at first sight. “What endeared us to the vaults of the Georgian building we chose to restore was its flagstone floors, lime washed walls and arched ceilings that reminded us of the great kitchens of the French chateaux, their old world charm and classic culinary ambience. It was meant to be a restaurant. It has the heart and soul of a kitchen with the warmth and character of a home.” La Bohème started in 2006.

It is a taste of France in the heart of Waterford but the restaurant is very much committed to using Irish produce. “Fresh, free range, organic and delivered daily is like music to our ears.” Elda Wild, M & D Bakery, Tom Cleary, the Ballybeg Horticulture Initiative (salads, herbs, veg, even the flowers in the window boxes outside!), Butler’s Family Farm, Larousse, fishermen James and Maurice O’Rourke, Grantstown Nurseries, Sheridan's Cheese, Dawn Meats, Knockalara (sheep) and Killeen (goat) for cheese, Billy Burke fish, Tea Pigs and Fancy Fungi are among their suppliers.

In the city for the annual Harvest Festival, we started our meal last Saturday evening with Croustillant of local hand-picked local Crabmeat, Julienne of vegetables with a sweet and sour Vietnamese Sauce. Enhanced by that exquisite sauce, probably the best crab dish I’ve ever come across.

 Next up was another classy treat, the Lobster Salad (Organic Leaves, Semi-sun dried Grantstown Cherry Tomatoes, Avocado Puree, Grapefruit, Watercress Mayonnaise, Raspberry Vinaigrette). A delicious memorable cold-plate! Lots of pairings here with the lobster, all good though my favourite was perhaps the ruby grapefruit. Wouldn't mind trying all those tasty mouthfuls again!


Then came the pièce de résistance, a duo of pan-fried John Dory and steamed Black Sole (in a plait!) and served with steamed new potatoes and a Pot au Feu of Tom Cleary Organic Vegetables, celeriac purée, and Lemon and Sorrel Butter Sauce. Hard to beat that gorgeous plateful but so easy to eat.



No resistance though to dessert: chocolate (lots of it!), sea-salt and vanilla ice-cream. It was a pleasure and a privilege to dine here. Merci beaucoup to Eric and Christine.


  • West Cork diners will have that privilege and pleasure at the Celtic Ross this Thursday when Eric, along with Alec Petit of the hotel, will serve up a Breton night as part of A Taste of West Cork. Don't miss it! I won't.

    La Bohème
    2 George's Street
    Waterford
    051 875 645
  • Facebook: @LaBohèmeWaterford
  • Twitter: @bohemewaterford
  • Web: http://labohemerestaurant.ie 
See also: 

SaveSave

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Amuse Bouche

....he had experienced far more global diversity than the average college junior. He knew about shaved ice and malasada, the fried pastry coated in sugar of Honolulu, and about permen cabai, the red pepper candy of Jakarta; now he picked up a simple Sindhi chicken curry recipe from the Pakistanis that became a staple of his home cooking during the New York years: caramelize some onions; toast a spice mix of turmeric, coriander, garlic, and cumin for a minute or so; throw in six chicken thighs and a bit of water; cook until the skin falls from the thighs. He knew the ways of different cultures better than he knew himself.

  • From Barack Obama by David Maraniss.

Autumn Treats from Munster Wine & Dine

AUTUMN TREATS
from Munster Wine & Dine

As Summer fades and our trip to Cashel Blue and Ballinwillin House seems like a distant memorywe're delighted to bring you news of some great events to look forward to in the Autumn. 

Placeholder Event: 
Spacial MWDC Tour & Tasting of Midleton Distillery followed by dinner in a well-known Midleton eatery
Full details, price and date to be announced in the next week, but the placeholder date is Wednesday 19th October late afternoon/early evening.   

Sunday 20th November 
Sunday Lunch in Ballyvolane House, Castlelyons with Tour and Tasting at Bertha's Revenge Gin Distillery 
Ballyvolane House is a beautiful historic Irish country house set in the stunning Blackwater Valley amongst woods, vast gardens and parkland. Run by Justin and Jenny Green, it is renowned for its delicious home-cooking using ingredients grown in Ballyvolane’s own walled garden, reared on the farm and sourced from local artisan producers. It is also home to Bertha's Revenge Gin Distillery which produces Ireland's only milk gin made from distilled whey. This is a fantastic opportunity to visit one of Ireland's most magical country houses and experience a day of life on the estate! 

Depart Cork City Hall 11.45am  
€40pp for members includes transportation to and from Ballyvolane House, tour of the distillery & tasting, and 3 course set lunch. 
Please advise of any dietary requirements (such as vegetarian, coeliac, allergies, etc ) when booking.  

Send an email to mwdcircle@gmail.com if you’d like to attend. RSVP by Friday 4th November
Cheques can be made payable to MWDC.


For those of you who missed the Summer outing, it was a really enjoyable day-out with lots of good food and wine and great company (there was even a sing-song to cap it all off!) Our hosts in both Cashel Blue and Ballinwillin House couldn't have been nicer and the passion for what they do was infectious. We'd like to thank Sarah and all the team at Cashel Blue for lending us so much of their precious time to show us around and to Patrick and Miriam of Ballinwillin who were charming and welcoming hosts who really made us feel at home. Cork Billy has summed up both visits really nicely here: http://www.corkbilly.com/search/label/Cashel%20Blue http://www.corkbilly.com/2016/05/ballinwillin-house-farm-where-deer-and.html      

We look forward to seeing you on one or both of our Autumn events! 

All the best 

Friday, September 9, 2016

THREE CHEFS (FROM MANY) AT A TASTE OF WEST CORK

 THREE CHEFS (FROM MANY)
 AT A TASTE OF WEST CORK
Matthew checking down under!
Made my mind up early this year to get a little deeper into this month's A Taste of West Cork. Rather then driving down and coming back on the same day, I'm going to stay for three consecutive nights. And as it happens, the three nights give me the chance to see three very different chefs, beginning at the Celtic Ross on the 15th with Breton Eric Theze in action. On the Friday, Kiwi Matthew Brownie takes us all down under in Skibbereen's Eldon and, on the Saturday, West Cork's own Rob Krawczyk serves up a feast in Ballydehob's Levis Bar. That's the nights catered for - just have to fill in the days now!
Eric (left)

Thursday September 15th:


Eric Theze; Irish Restaurant Awards Best Chef in Co. Waterford 2016 offers up 5 courses ‘a La Boheme’.
The coastal location of Roscarberry will play host to one of A Taste of West Cork’s international dining experiences, as the Celtic Ross Hotel welcomes guest chef Eric Thezé, who will present a delicious five-course tasting menu featuring dishes from Brittany. The chef, who is proprietor of La Boheme in Waterford, will be joined by Alex Petit, Head Chef at the reputable Celtic Ross Hotel. This luxurious dining event will take place on Thursday 15th September and will showcase not only the talents of the chefs involved, but also the diversity of the annual A Taste of West Cork Food Festival. Visit www.celticrosshotel.com.  


Friday September 16th:

‘DOWN UNDER’ NIGHT
Friday, September 16th
7.00pm 9:30pm


The Eldon Hotel, Bridge Street, Skibbereen/7pm to 9.30 pm/€25/Booking essential numbers limited /028 22802

G’day mate! Ever wondered what the other side of the world eats - well this is your opportunity to find out! The Eldon Hotel’s Kiwi Head Chef Matthew Brownie and Bar Manager Brett Cleary will create nine tasting dishes from the Southern Hemisphere including kangaroo. Many surprises in store along with music in the bar afterwards.
Charcuterie by Krawczyk
Saturday September 17th

 From Leinster to Levis’ with Love - Rob Krawczyk at Levis Corner House, Ballydehob.  
Indulge in an unforgettable dining experience at this year’s A Taste of West Cork Food Festival on Saturday 17th September (7.00pm), with a feast prepared by West Cork native and RAI’s Best Chef in Leinster Rob Krawczyk, served within the atmospheric surroundings of Levis’ Corner House Pub in Ballydehob. The intimate venue, which is lovingly run by former Fred frontman Joe O’Leary and his partner Caroline O’Donnell, will provide the perfect setting for a night of great food and music, with internationally-renowned Irish composer Maurice Seezer on hand for the evening to entertain diners. Those in attendance will even get an opportunity to perform alongside Maurice as they attempt to ‘sing for their supper’, with the most talented entry eating free of charge! This is most certainly a treat for the senses that is not to be missed. Visit www.leviscornerhouse.com.


Chefs in West Cork

There'll hardly be a street or a boreen in West Cork without a chef over the next week or so.  Talented chefs featuring at many different venues include Matt Williamson, celebrity Chef Derry Clarke (of Michelin Star L' Ecrivain restaurant fame), Freelance Chef Chris Hedges, Jessica Stutchbury, Chef and Forager Kevin O’Connell, Journalist Joe MacNamee, Takashi Miyazaki (Best Chef in Ireland 2015 – McKenna Guide), TV Chef Catherine Fulvio,  Danni Barry (Michelin Star chef),  Paola Vais, Ali Honour, Rachel Allen (Chef, author and television star), Blogger Louise Kelly, Eric Thezé (Irish Restaurant Awards Best Chef in Co. Waterford 2016), Leylie Hayes (Executive Chef at Avoca and esteemed cook book author), Francine Thurnheer, Rob Krawczyk (winner of the National Restaurants Association of Ireland Best Chef in Leinster 2016) and West Cork’s very own Martin Shanahan.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Cistín Eile. Slí Eile

Cistín Eile. Slí Eile

Starters

Cistín in the title of this narrow-fronted restaurant in a narrow Wexford street hints at bacon and cabbage and beef galore. And that is confirmed when you study the menu. But here, the bacon and the beef, and much more besides, is done in a different and delightful way, slí eile. Here, in this narrow-in-space but broad-in-mind place, your top local produce is stamped with the Warren Gillen imprint.


That long narrow space, divided into three rooms, each just a step or two up from its neighbour, has tables dressed in various colourful materials, mainly muted shades. Service too is calm and attentive without ever being in your face. A time and a place to relax.

And relax with a local beer from Cleverman, an amber or a pale ale, a Smoked Turf stout or a smooth light lager. You can also choose from the White Gypsy large bottle range: American Style Pale Ale, Russian Style Imperial Stout or a German Style Doppelbock. A pretty good, if short, wine list, includes a contribution from one of the modern Wine Geese, Wexford’s own Pat Neville who farms in the Languedoc.


Cleverman beers

Menus, water and breads soon arrive at the table. And one of those breads is dark and delicious and is made with the Clever Man stout and black treacle. A good start!


And starters? You’ll have quite a choice from the new Autumn menu that started its run on the first of September. Some stout too in my choice: The Glazed Pork-belly Salad (with stout and spices, red cabbage, curry and buttermilk). This was a delightful dish, great colour, texture and flavour, a great use of the popular Pork-belly.


Goats cheese is always popular on Irish menus. Gillen uses Bluebell Falls from Newtownshandrum in North Cork. It appears on the menu as Fried Bluebell Goats Cheese (with beetroot slaw, pear and hazelnuts). And appears on the plate as a delightful invitation to come and get me. And soon disappears with sighs of appreciation for yet another well constructed, well balanced combination. Each of the two starters costs 9 euro but the average price is eight.


Mighty mains.

And the same high standard continues into the mains, where the Bacon and Cabbage (Cistín Eile style) appears. He gets his beef from Doyle’s, a nearby butchers. It is a favourite here and Slow-cooked (10 hours) Doyle’s beef (with onion fondue, champ, carrot, and peppered cream) was my choice (17.00). It had been strongly recommended by the folks at our lodgings in Killiane Castle and so I was glad to be able to go back and report that it was absolutely brilliant, as they knew!


Cistín Eile is well known too for its fish dishes, the fish coming fresh from nearby Kilmore Quay. There was a special (18.00) on and CL went for it: Lemon Sole (with choucroute, rocket, home-fries, broccoli, citrus and herb aioli). Well cooked, well presented.


There are six desserts on the new menu, priced between seven and eight euro. We decided to share and agreed on the Gingercake, spiced caramel, rum and raisin ice-cream, rhubarb and chamomile. The agreement nearly ended when it arrived!  Let’s say the cake vanished quickly. A lovely finalé to a lovely meal. Very Highly Recommended. Recommended too to book in advance. Wonder if we could persuade Warren to move to Cork?
Cistín Eile
80 South Main Street
Wexford
(053) 912 1616
Opening Hours
Mon-Tue: 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Wed-Sat: 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm. 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

See also:
The Hook Lighthouse. Ireland’s Ancient East
Johnstown Castle
The Archways. More than a B&B
24 Hours in Wexford Ancient Castle to Oldest Lighthouse
Mr Jeffares Blackcurrants


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Smokehouse Sauce Bringing the Market together.

Smokehouse Sauce
Bringing the Market together.


In 24 Days in 24 Ways, Smokehouse Sauce is bringing the English Market together. Together on a plate, that is.
Smokehouse Sauce, fast emerging as a favourite across Munster, is the guest trader for six weeks at the start-up stall in Cork’s English Market. Emma Kelly of Smokehouse: “The English Market is iconic, a quality place to shop for quality. Traders here know their growers and suppliers. There is an honesty here, now so important as people become more aware of the importance of sourcing.”

So the mission for Smokehouse is 24 Ways in 24 Days. That means changing the dish daily and Chef Stephen of Elbow Lane is the man putting it all together on the plate. The sauce was the brainchild of owner Conrad Howard and his daughter and has been perfected in the Elbow Lane kitchen. It is  available across Munster Stores of Supervalu, in the Food Academy section, and also from independent butchers.
“It’s amazing to be here in the old heart of the city, to be collaborating with the English Market, promoting it and the traders,” enthuses Emma. A recent dish, the Ploughman’s Sandwich, with sauce of course, involved no less than four traders. Brown spelt bread from Hassett’s, Cheddar cheese from the Roughty Foodie, ham from the Chicken Inn, and salad from Superfruit, lunch for just four euro!

Before that, they featured Smoked Pork Empanadas, the pork supplied by Ken and Helen of the Meat Centre who have been trading here for 37 years. The package also included an apple and courgette salad and smokehouse sauce (of course!).
Tom Durcan's Spiced Beef, Hassett's Rye Bread,
Sauerkraut and Coolea Cheese from
On The Pig's Back
And the versatility of the sauce was again underlined with On The Pig's Back goats cheese bon bons, with pearl barley, pea sprout and beetroot leaf salad and Smokehouse Sauce dressing. Day Three was an interesting one:  Ham hock and scallion terrine (using meat from Bresnan's Butchers), with Smokehouse Sauce and homemade red cabbage slaw. And it’s not just meat. Cod from Kay O’Connell’s was used in delicious frittatas and enhanced with the sauce.

“There is a hard-to-match quality here in the market. We want to highlight that and support local at the same time, by combining traditional meats with modern flavours. The sauce itself is tomato based and may be used as a dip, a relish and as a marinade. It is extremely versatile. Use it with grilled, roast or cold meats, fish, cheese and vegetables.”
Aoife and Chris at the Smokehouse stall


So what is today’s dish? Check it out on their Facebook page by all means but do call in and try it out! And you must see their lively video celebrating the sauce and its arrival in the Market. Here's the link

For more on the Smokehouse Sauce, including recipes and stockists, check the website here.