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Thursday, August 30, 2018

Georgian Wine. How The Ancient Becomes Cutting Edge


Georgian Wine. The Ancient Becomes Cutting Edge

Pheasant’s Tears Rkatsiteli Kakheti (Georgia) 2016, 12.5%, €22.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

When American artist John Wurdeman, then working in the Soviet Union, was persuaded by a new-found friend to get involved in a Georgian winery, they were thinking of using oak, like some were. But the local bishop put them on the right wine road: “Stay with tradition. Keep true to the Georgian way. Use no additives. Use qvevri. Have faith.”

And so John Wurdeman and Gela Patalashvili now use the qvevri and, “with love and awe”, make their wine as it has been made here for 8,000 years. “Our natural wines are made entirely in qvevri inside the womb of the earth.” A qvevri is huge earthenware vat sunk into the ground and used for fermentation and storage. Another difference is that the Georgians use skin contact extensively, hence the deep colours of the two wines in this post.

“At Pheasant's Tears we believe our primary task is to grow endemic grapes from unparalleled Georgian soil, harvest that fruit and then preserve it as wine using traditional Georgian methods. 

In working this close to the vine we experience both heartache and celebration; yet every year there is a new harvest to cultivate, and the eventual discovery of a wine of untold beauty.” This is one of the beauties!

To read more on the amazing story, including how the Georgian winemakers survived a long period of Soviet industrialisation of the vineyard and the winery, get your hands on “For the love of wine” by Alice Feiring. And to understand better the philosophy behind the men and women of Pheasant’s Tears check out this YouTube video

And so back to our bottle made from the white wine grape Rkatsiteli where the skin contact helps give this amazing amber colour. Nose is intense with a waft of honey. The palate is rich with range peel and dried apricot and walnut notes also. It is full-bodied and the noticeably dry finish is persistent, with tannins kissing the lips.

It is versatile with food (ask the Georgians who typically allow three litres per person at their legendary feasts). We tried it with Chicken Piri Piri (with a courgette and tomato accompaniment from the garden). Later, with a bowl of unadorned strawberries. And later again with a slice of courgette (a bit of a glut at present!) and walnut cake.

Made with love and awe. We drank it with love and awe. Very Highly Recommended.

Tbilvino Marks & Spencer Rkatsiteli Qvevri, Kakheti, Georgia, 2015, 12% abv, €15.00 (on offer at the time) M & S.

Okay, so you need a bit of translation. Tbilvino are the producers for Marks and Spencer who blended it. Rkatsiteli is the grape and the Qvevri is the Georgina underground vessel (an amphora) in which the wine has matured. Kakheti is the wine region in the far east of the country.

The company story begins in the twentieth century, in 1962, when one of the most powerful wine factories in the Soviet Union was launched in Tbilisi. For years the factory remained an essential part of the Soviet winemaking industry (nine of ten bottles of wine sold inside the country and abroad were made in this factory). The emphasis was more on quantity than quality until the early 1990s when it emerged as an independent wine company with a new philosophy.

M & S say this orange wine from the white Rkatsiteli grapes is made in the traditional manner. The grape juice and skins are fermented together, then partially matured in the Qvevri for several months developing the wine’s rich and unique style. So unique that wine beginners may not like it, so be careful who you offer it to.

The colour, some say orange, some amber, is striking in the glass and the rich aromas have hints of honey. Rich and deep too on the palate, dried fruit (apricot), some spice too, nutty notes also in the mix. And a good finish as well. Highly Recommended. I think food is an essential with this one and M&S recommend pairing it with mixed seafood platters, and spicy dishes such as chicken tagine or tandoori chicken.


See previous post on orange wines here

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Jim Edwards. A Kinsale Classic. After All These Years!


Jim Edwards. A Kinsale Classic.
After All These Years!
Scallops starter, also available as mains

Jim Edwards is a renowned restaurant in the renowned foodie town of Kinsale and it has been serving up classic fare since 1971.

And while some of those beloved classics are still on the menu, Jim Edwards is not slow to support new producers and new products in the area. Just a peep at their drinks list confirms this, with Kinsale Mead, Stonewell Cider and beers from Black’s of Kinsale and 9 White Deer (Ballyvourney) on offer. 

Local gins include Kinsale gin, Blackwater gin and Black's gin. while local whiskeys include Pogues from West Cork and the world famous Midleton Very Rare. With the best of spirits available, there is no shortage of cocktails. Produce suppliers, some long-standing, are listed on the back of the menu.
Mussels

And there is no shortage of food choices here. You may dine in the Gastro Pub or in the restaurant. The Gastro Pub menu (including a sandwich selection) and A La Carte menu are available from 12pm to 10pm daily. In addition they have daily specials and a value menu also available all day. No wonder the venue has been declared  “a standard bearer in Kinsale's distinguished culinary culture” by  the McKenna Guide.

We were glad to see the A La Carte menu available from lunchtime on when we arrived there about one o’clock on a recent Friday. Soon we were seated by the window and reading our way through the choices. By the way, from exchanges at a nearby table, we heard that you can pick and choose from the various menus.
Monkfish classic

The mussels and oysters come from nearby Haven Shellfish and I picked the rather traditional starter (they don’t really do cutting edge here in any case) of Kinsale Mussels toasted with Garlic Breadcrumbs. Very tasty, with a well prepared salad. And CL too was very pleased with another excellent appetiser, this of Pan Seared Scallops in garlic and basil with a cauliflower purée.

We sipped our Black’s ale as we waited for the mains. Unbeknownst to ourselves we had chosen two house classics and looking back we can appreciate how they’ve stood the test of taste and time. Both were superb.
Lamb

One is the flavoursome Mint and Herb Crusted Rack of Slaney Valley Lamb with a rosemary and garlic jus. Beautifully cooked, neatly presented, as were all our dishes. 

Our other mains was the Medallions of Monkfish, pan fried with ginger, spring onion chill and lime dressing. Another superb combination, no shortage of quality here. And no skimping on quantity either.

And, just in case you haven’t enough, in another nod to tradition, they serve three sides as well: potatoes gratin, seasonal vegetables and fries.

It was a fairly busy lunch service in the restaurant and no problem to the staff as they kept the food coming and helped the customers make their choices, patience needed in some cases!

We did have a look at the dessert menu but, having been well fed, decided to give the sweet stuff a skip and finished off with an excellent cup of Maher’s coffee, another local business supported by Jim Edwards. Roll on the 50th celebrations in 2021!




Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Noteworthy Trio from Karwig Wine


A Noteworthy Trio from Karwig Wine

Produttori del Barbaresco Nebbiolo Langhe (DOC) 2015, 14.5%, €21.65 Karwig Wines

“Langhe Nebbiolo is a close relation of the famous Barolo and Barbaresco wines but one that is usually softer and more accessible.” - Decanter. They also say that it is “Part of great value Italian wines made by cooperatives". 

This mid ruby coloured wine has inviting red fruit aromas, a hint of spice too. The same fruit and spice invade the palate, in the nicest possible way; it is medium-bodied with good acidity, a decent finish with soft tannins. Easy drinking (despite the high alcohol), very pleasant and Highly Recommended.

Perfect, they say, with pizzas and pastas, white and red meat, and rich fish dishes.

Verso Rosso Salento (IGT) 2016, 14%, €15.75 Karwig Wine

Salento is a town in Puglia in the south-east of Italy. Oak ageing has played a role here and the wine is made with a “small amount of apassimento” which gives a raisin element in the flavours. 

They recommended using it with red meats, stew, game and mature cheese. Duck breast should also be a good match. The blend is Negromaro (60%), Primitivo (35) and Malvasia Nera (5).

It is a deep red (skins have been left in must for “extended period”). Legs are slow to clear. Dark fruit on the nose. Juicy and fruity (think crème de cassis) with a vibrant spice, sweet tannins at play also. An easy drinking wine and Highly Recommended.


Château Boisson Bordeaux Blanc (AC) 2016, 12.5%, Karwig Wines €14.95

This blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Sauvignon Gris comes from a stunning estate located at the gateway of Cadillac in the small municipality of Beguey, overlooking the Garonne River. You’ll hear that Bordeaux whites are often better value than the reds and this is the case here.

It has a pale straw colour. Citrus and floral notes feature in the expressive nose. Fresh engaging fruit on the palate, lovely acidity also and a superb lip-smacking finish. A Highly Recommended melange of Bordeaux fruit and craft.

It has spent two months on fine lees and is, they recommend, a perfect accompaniment for oysters, sea food and smoked salmon sushis. The salmon I enjoyed it with wasn't smoked but they paired well nonetheless.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Taste of the Week. Derry Clarke’s Ploughman’s Relish


Taste of the Week
Derry Clarke’s Ploughman’s Relish

Sometimes I’ve seen it labeled Derry Clarke’s Kitchen but the one I bought recently was titled Derry Clarke at Home Ploughman’s Relish and it proved to be an excellent relish.


“Gorgeous with bacon sarnies or with cheese” it says on the front panel. We used it in a sandwich, a Ploughman’s, with Gubbeen Hot Smoked Bacon, and again with various cheeses and it does a great job.

Our Taste of the Week is widely available, including selected Dunnes and Supervalu. And another good thing about it is that you may keep it in the fridge for up to 12 weeks after opening. That didn’t happen!



Further info from:
Grazerfield
Unit 11,
Block G,
Greenogue Business Park,
Rathcoole,
Co. Dublin.
Sales: Donal Bermingham 
086 1743479


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Kinsale’s CRU is Grand! Bubbling with personality


Kinsale’s CRU is Grand!
Bubbling with personality


CRU, at 5 Main Street, Kinsale

Cru is a relatively new winebar and bistro in Kinsale’s centre and was busy and buzzing when we called recently for dinner. Good simple food is promised here with good wine and music as well. And they deliver on all counts.

And there’s a very warm welcome led by owner Colm Ryan and backed up by the friendly staff. The wine list is pretty extensive ranging from cheap and cheerful to the very serious stuff and all the notes are by the owner who will also be very glad to help you make your choice. Indeed, there is almost a “standing order" here to have fun. Enjoyment is positively encouraged.

Colm has also compiled the music list which blends perfectly into the buzz as the long and narrow room, divided into three sections, fills. There is also a smaller room upstairs, ideal for groups of up to twenty two or so.
Fish special - Lemon Sole

No delay here - you soon have the menu and water at your table and either the owner or one of the staff on hand to answer any queries and also to fill you in on the day’s specials. And these specials are seriously worth reading and noting.

Fish is prominent here, on both the regular menu and on the specials. It is a very good place to try oysters if you haven't done so before as they sell them singly here. They come from nearby Haven Shellfish as do the mussels.

Indeed CL started with the Moules Mariniere with the traditional white wine, cream and garlic sauce. They don’t promise cutting edge here, just “simple but high quality food”. And that can be applied to the mussels. And also to my Pan seared scallops with Clonakilty black pudding, pea and mint puree, crispy pancetta. And the Clon mention reminds me to say that there is a definite support here for local producers.

On then to the mains, both fish. My pick, and it was faultless, was the Pan roasted John Dory with salsa verde, basil mash and a side of market vegetables. CL went for the special of Lemon Sole, a couple of delicious fresh fillets with prawns and mussels, samphire, black pepper and lemon butter, crushed baby potato and market veg. Well cooked, well presented and another dish well polished off. Indeed, all of six plates went back empty.
Sundae

There is also a desserts specials board, quite a few choices. CL is a crumble specialist so she picked the Apple and Blackberry Crumble with crême Anglaise and ice-cream. The fruit was superb here. I meanwhile was tucking into the eye-catching strawberry and lemon curd ice-cream sundae.

Oh, I’d better mention the wines!😀 We enjoyed an Albarino; the Val de Sosego 2017, from Rias Baixas DO, had a great balance of fruit and acidity and went well with the fish. And our second was the Frescobaldi Castello di Pomino 2016, a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, with a lovely rich palate and persistent finish. I think I got more out of this excellent wine while sipping between courses.

Prefer a beer? You’re covered here with craft beers by Eight Degrees, 9 White Deer, Black’s of Kinsale, Clonakilty Brewing Company, all available and also the local Stonewell cider.

So that was it. After another wee chat with Colm, another two happy CRU customers headed out into the calm summer’s evening.




Saturday, August 25, 2018

Amuse Bouche


They were sat at the special guest table. The cloistered, white-clothed mafia table had been generally unoccupied since the Irish brotherhood - na fir maith - were forced to close the government tab back in ’97, when one of its very coked-up boys let the cat out of the hotel window, instigating the Moriarty Tribunal. (The coke and the pussy and the hotel room had been paid for by the public purse. …. A helicopter to the races was the new working weekend.)

from Orchid & the Wasp (2018) by Caoilinn Hughes. (Recommended)

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Cork’s SpitJack. Making A Difference on Washington Street.


Cork’s SpitJack.
Making A Difference on Washington Street.
Camembert, for sharing 

When you’d like something that little bit different, for breakfast, lunch or dinner, then head to the SpitJack on Washington Street. Number 34 is a lovely old building the food (based on local produce and generally given the rotisserie treatment) is excellent and the staff are very helpful and friendly.

There were four of us in for dinner the other evening and we absolutely enjoyed the buzz - the place was full - the ambiance and the food. The expertise of the team and quality of the food combine to make the lovingly restored old venue conducive to enjoying a good night out in comfort.

And the drink. They have much to offer here, including spirits galore and a tempting cocktail list. One of us enjoyed the smooth 8 Degrees Knockmealdown Irish Stout (5.0% Abv) 5.5 with its espresso and molasses aromas. The rest shared a mouth-watering bottle of Abadia do Seixo Albarino (32.00). 
Calamari

Choices made and starters delivered. Lets begin. A pair of us shared the Rotisserie Melted Camembert (€15). This was studded with Rosemary and Garlic and came with Crusty Bread, Chilli & Tomato Jam. Quite a plateful and none went back. A lovely dish and not often seen in these parts.

Sounds of approval too from the others. The Ballycotton Prawn Pil Pil (€9.90 ), a dish of Chilli & Garlic Prawns, Warm Country Baguette, Allioli, was highly ranked as one of the best of its kind and the same rating was garnered by the Ballycotton Crispy Calamari (€8.50) tossed in Home Made Allioli,  with Sautéed Chorizo, Red Pepper Coulis, Mixed Leaves.

One of a couple at a nearby table were celebrating a birthday and the staff joined in with a little cake and a song so we helped with the chorus and the applause.

The main event followed and two decided on the Ballycotton Pan Roasted Hake with Butter Bean, Chorizo & Kale Broth, Shaved Asparagus, Fennel & Radish Salad, Potato Mousseline (18.50). Both were well pleased, each remarking on the flavoursome broth. Another winner from the kitchen. Ballycotton was doing well too and everything from there went down well at our table.



Duck

Back to the rotisserie for my friend who gleefully demolished the Big Jack Burger, a North Co. Cork Aged Striploin Beef Burger, Cashel Blue Cheese, Baby Gem, Home-Made Pickles, The SpitJack Relish, Brioche Bun (€16.95). By the way, she asked for it without the bun. I could understand that, as most of the time, I usually eat just one half of it.

Meanwhile, I was tucking into a dish that was that little bit different, the confit and Rotisserie Roasted Duck Leg Salad with Pearl Couscous, Roasted Sweet Potato, Red Onion, Carrot, Mixed Leaves, Tarragon and Orange Dressing (€17.95). Must say I loved it, every little bit.

34 Washington Street
Cork
(021) 239 0613
Hours: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM, 5:00 PM - 9:30 PM
Twitter: @theSpitjack 




Wednesday, August 22, 2018

We are red, we are white. Samurai Dynamite.


We are red, we are white.
Samurai Dynamite

Talking here about two Australian wines new from Le Caveau, both in the Samurai series by Free Run Juice and each worth taking notice of. By the way, you won't see Samurai written on the labels but it is there in the illustrations!

Free Run Juice “Samurai” Chardonnay (Australia) 2016, 13%, €14.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

Tastes, they say, like rain on a hot day. Do you remember what that tastes like? In any event, this organic wine tastes very well indeed, is Very Highly Recommended and is also excellent value.

Colour is a light straw. Aromas are fairly classic Chardonnay, melon and peach. A hint of a tingle on the palate as the creamy textured liquid, laden with rich fruit flavours, spreads across. A crisp acidity balances and a persistent finish crowns it.

Free Run Juice “Samurai” Shiraz (Australia) 2016, 13.5%, €14.95  

“Tastes like Australian sunshine, and ninjas”. Not familiar with either! Conditions were “ideal” for the harvest, giving a delicious richness and intensity. Another remarkable wine, remarkable value too, and Very Highly Recommended.

A crimson red pours from the bottle with that cracking label. Aromas speak of spice and vanilla but mostly of intense plum. Medium to full bodied, flavours of juicy dark cherries and berries, velvety tannins and a finish that reverberates. A rich and delicious Shiraz. Go for it.

Suntory Roku Gin. Six Japanese Botanicals.


Suntory Roku Gin, 43% abv, €45.00 at 34 O’Brien’s Off Licences and O’Brien’s online  

6
There’s a whiff of the evergreens when you nose this, floral and citrus notes also. Clean and fresh  on the palate too, the aromatics still pleasantly at play. Quite a backbone of savoury notes too as you realise that this well-balanced gin is a good one, one that lives up to its premium tag.

With tonic (Fever tree regular), the nose remains clean and fresh. Give the mix a bit of time and more of the flavours and aromas of this nuanced gin emerge before a dry lingering dry finish, a touch of tannin at the finalé.

Roku means six in Japanese and six, including the Kanji symbol, is all over the hexagonal bottle. Indeed, there are six Japanese botanicals inside: Sakura (cherry) flower, Sakura leaf, Yuzu peel, Sencha tea (green tea), Gyokuro tea (refined green tea) and Sanshō pepper. And each, delicately embossed, has a side of the bottle to itself.

“Each has been harvested at the peak of its season to extract the best flavour, and distilled to fully embody the blessings of nature.” Four distinct types of pot stills are used in a process unique to the "Liquor Atelier", the specialised craft distillery for Suntory spirits, whereby “the botanicals are distilled separately according to each feature of botanicals to extract the best flavour and maintain their individual characteristics. For instance, the delicate scent of cherry blossom is drawn out through vacuum distillation in stainless pot stills, whereas the deep flavour of yuzu is achieved by distillation in copper still pots”.

There is of course a big nod to the gin tradition so juniper berries, coriander, angelica seed and root, cinnamon, cardamom, bitter orange and lemon peel are also in the mix.

I’m certain the mixologists will find many applications for this excellent gin. Roku themselves offer just one recipe. They believe that the warm, pungent flavour of ginger further highlights the unique quality of the Japanese botanicals and so they give us the the Roku Gin and Tonic, their Perfect Serve that “evokes the style of Japan”.


  1. Use six thinly sliced sticks of ginger
  2. Pour 5cl of ROKU into a measuring glass.
  3. Add the ginger sticks and ROKU to a long glass filled with ice and tonic water.
  4. Enjoy!
I've tried this GG&T a few times and it is indeed very enjoyable. I tried re-using the ginger sticks in the next glass as well and it seemed to heighten the partnership in this Perfect Serve. Or was that just the second glass effect?


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A couple of excellent Karwig reds from the Veneto


Conte Loredan Gasparini “Falconera” Colli Trevigiani Merlot (IGT) 2013, 13%, €18.95 Karwig Wines

This Merlot is from the Montello region, 50 kms north of Venice, where the Count used to hunt with his hawks (hence the wine’s name). 

With medium tannins and good acidity, you’ll find it pairs well with many foods. It has spent 18 months in oak (25 and 50 hectolitre barrels). And, “a little secret” from the vineyard is that they add in 10% Malbec from the same fields.

Mid ruby is the colour. There are intense scents of cherry and berry, plus vanilla from the oak. On the palate, it is fresh and fruity, light and bright, with delicate spice notes, a pleasing acidity and a long mellow finish. 

Many of us would not immediately associate Merlot with Italian wine (though it has some history in this area - see last para) but this is a very convincing effort and Very Highly Recommended.

Count Loredan Gasparini wasn't just a hunter. In the the 1960s, he was responsible for the “celebrity” wine Riserva Capa di Stato, first made in 1964 and still produced today. 

According to the Modern History of Italian Wine, this celebrity owed its name to the fact that it was served to heads of state visiting Venice. They loved it and international newspapers included it in shortlists of the world’s great wines. The wine, like our Falconera, came from the Montello area where Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec are grown from old clones.


Luigi Righetti Campo Tordi Corvina Veneto (IGT) 2016, 12.5%, €13.95 Karwig Wine

Mid ruby is the colour here. Aromas of ripe red fruit, slight spice. Fruit and spice on the palate too; it is mid-bodied, a light touch of tannins, balancing acidity of course! Very quaffable everyday wine I was thinking but it’s a bit more than that. Certainly has the second glass appeal and Highly Recommended. 

Corvina may not be one of the big names in grapes mainly because it is usually blended in its home area which is the north of Italy. It is the cornerstone of Valpolicella and Bardolino and the major contributor to the blend that gives Italy’s most famous dried grape wines, Amarone and Recioto.

Cash in your Apple Windfalls at Killavullen Farmers Market HarvestFair this Saturday

Cash in your Apple Windfalls at Killavullen Farmers Market HarvestFair this Saturday



Bring your windfall apples to Killavullen Farmer's Market Saturday 25th August, and each subsequent market to get them juiced. Bruised apples and slightly damaged ones are all fine for juicing, just make sure to wash them to get rid of grit and dirt before juicing. We will shred and press your apples for you so just make sure you have enough bottles and containers for your juice! Advice on how to store it and other questions will be free flowing on the day! It's €1.50 per litre to press. There should be juice by the glass on the day too.

The return of apple pressing coincides with the annual Harvest Fair where we celebrate and showcase an array of great local fresh produce. You will be able to speak to the growers and buy the very best of local produce on the morning. There will be an array of incredibly delicious tomatoes, baking, breads, jams, chutneys, cordial, Ice cream, smoked salmon and of course all the usuals! Fair, 


On the same morning there is a very interesting Pollinator Hunt for kids to learn all about how bees and insects help us so much in growing food. Spots are limited and it is advised to book yours through https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/childrens-pollinator-hunt-tickets. This runs from 11-12 noon and is suitable for primary school kids!

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Meadows of Hive Mind. Bees’ Paradise in Myrtleville.

Bees’ Paradise in Myrtleville.
The Meadows of Hive Mind.

The honey, in its tallish jar, is of a light colour though a bit cloudier than usual. But there is a natural explanation. It is produced by the bees at Hive Mind in Myrtleville and is unfiltered. The aromas are attractive, mainly light and floral I think. No wonder, these bees are spoiled, meadows of flowers and herbs set out for them. I am enjoying this sample with its smooth consistency, pleasantly coating the palate, the flavours and aromas persistent.


Hive Mind themselves have persisted since 2014 and the bees are enjoying their meadows by the sea, meadows planted with herbs and flowers (the seed has been organically sourced) that include: Berseem Clover, Borage, Buckwheat, Calendula, Caraway, Chinese Mallow, Cork Cockle, Cornflower, Dill, Fennel, Phacelia, and the beautiful Sainfoin.
Aishling and Mark

The variety of flowers and blossoms from the meadows and the hedgerows help balance the flavours of the honey. Buckwheat on its own yields a dark brown honey which is pungent, the flavour a distinctively malty. Clover, on the other hand, gives a sweet and delicate result, closer to a “normal” honey. The bees love clover but there are quite a few varieties of the plant, so not all clover based honey is the same.

“It’s not too surprising to find that the magical, cliff-edged village of Myrtleville, with its stunning views of the sea, is producing some of best wild honey in the country today,” says Aishling Moore, head chef of award-winning Elbow Lane restaurant, who rates Hive Mind amongst the best honey she has ever tasted. And the good news is that you too can help Hive Mind continue to stretch out a helping hand to the Irish honey bee.

Mark Riordan's apiaries and bee meadow are located at his family farm in Myrtleville House.  To create a sustainable business Riordan has started 'renting' his hives to organisations and individuals in exchange for his honey.   And the Market Lane restaurant group has committed to financially supporting three colonies of honey bees at Riordan's farm.
A meadow at six weeks

His collaboration with Moore, the first with a restaurant, will not only provide for the restaurant’s honey needs throughout the year but it also means that Riordan gets solid financial support to build up his bee stocks and increase the number of hives.  It will also help to maintain a vibrant, healthy habitat for these bee colonies and help Riordan to engage other beekeepers to spread the word.  

Hive Mind is now making an appearance as a hero product on the menus at Elbow Lane, which is part of the progressive Cork-based Market Lane Group of restaurants.  The talented, young Moore has woven this wonderful honey into dressings, sauces and spun it into ice-cream and cocktails. 

Factors such as weather, parasites and pesticides have meant that local bee stocks are diminishing every year so Riordan sees that initiatives like Hive Mind will be vital for the survival of the honey bee into the future. These black and yellow-striped flying friends are key to the country's biodiversity and economy. It is estimated that they contribute some €53m* to the Irish economy every year. 

Riordan, who has a Masters in horticulture and years of experience as a beekeeper, set up Hive Mind in 2014.  “I am delighted to be working with Aishling and the Market Lane Group.  This company is so well established and respected for its ethical and sustainable approach to sourcing.  It is a perfect partner for Hive Mind. It is also a vital link into the city for me.”

The Hive Mind goals are:
  • Promote the growth and development of a national passion for beekeeping.
  • Set up provincial apiaries to carry out a nationwide service.
  • Arrest the decline of the honey bee on a local level.
  • Aid in educating and inspiring as many people as possible.

To buy by the jar, shoppers can go online and fill in an ‘expression of interest’ form.  They will be contacted when the next harvest is completed at the beginning of Autumn.  See the website here.  


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Lunch to Relish at Lava Rock in Cahir


Lunch to Relish at Lava Rock in Cahir
Dessert

Headed off to Tipp on a recent unplanned day-trip. Not the direct route; that would be too easy! First stop was Lismore, then on up through the spectacular Vee, down into Clogheen and over to Ardfinnan with its castle lording it over the Suir. Time now for lunch. But where? Lava Rock in Cahir.

Lava Rock’s on Castle Street (park down by the castle, which can also be visited) and has been gathering good reviews and awards since it opened four years ago. With the kitchen open to the main room of the restaurant, we could see the attention to detail and that showed too on the appetising plates. Lunch was very enjoyable and I’m sure that the evening meals would be even more so.

Choices aren't as expansive in the middle of the day but still they had plenty to offer. One section is called Express. From it you may order Soup of the Day and various sandwiches (Chicken Strip or Pulled Beef for example).



Burger

The main lunch menu has a few more substantial dishes including Fish and Chips, Roast Chicken Supreme, and Spinach and Ricotta Cheese Tortellini.

We went for the beef, the Slow Braised Beef Rib in my case. It came with baked potato mash and seasonal vegetables, very well cooked and full of attractive flavour, a delicious jus and a crunchy selection of crunchy vegetables (carrot, baby corns and sugar snaps).

CL’s pick was the Char-grilled Burger, packed with excellent beef in a brioche bun. Red cheddar cheese, burger sauce of course, lettuce and the outstanding roast beetroot slaw completed an attractive plateful. And in addition, the chunky house fries were delicious.


Beef

They don't have a bar here but you may bring your own wine. We asked for a cordial, maybe something like an Elderflower fizz. They didn’t have that nor did they have the Apple Farm’s outstanding sparkling apple juice but they did have their still apple juice and that too is a lovely drink at mid-day on a warm Wednesday. The nearby Apple Farm, by the way, would be our final visit on the way home and we left with a box full of drinks, jams, fruits and more. Read about that day-trip here.

But back to the lunch and the sweet finalé. I enjoyed my Baked Strawberry Alaska (with strawberry cream, marinated strawberries and lemon curd), soft and lush and an overall delight. 

CL’s Rhubarb Almond Tart was another well presented dessert (that attention to detail again) and  served with orange crème anglaise and vanilla ice cream, another sweet winner.


Lava Rock

This restaurant is just a few minutes off the motorway and you may also linger in the town. If you are early for lunch, why not visit the castle? Check my account here. And if you’d like to walk off those desserts afterwards, stroll down to the nearby and rather famous Swiss Cottage - read my short account here.

Castle Street
Cahir
Co. Tipperary
Call (052) 744 5359




Saturday, August 18, 2018

Amuse Bouche


She poured her coffee, raised her mug. Could a woman sit in her kitchen and drink coffee and wait for a muffin to pop in her toaster, and then smother it with apple jelly and bite into it and not weep for her dead son lost beneath the rubble? Could she listen to the news, the weather, the stock reports, the live phone-ins full of grief and outrage, and mentally calculate what her stock was worth. And still be a mother?

from Academy Street by Mary Costello (2014). Recommended

Friday, August 17, 2018

In Praise of East Cork. Food. People. Place. Worth a Visit!

In Praise of East Cork.
Food. People. Place. Worth a Visit!
Town crier in Youghal
Friendly people, great food, attractions on land and sea, both natural and man-made, make East Cork a gem of a place to visit. From the fantastic 13th century St Mary’s Collegiate Church in Youghal to high class Fota House Gardens and Arboretum, both free to enter, there is a treasure chest of places to visit in the area.
Fota Wildlife

Let me take you on a trip to see part of it. We’ll also enjoy some delicious meals as East Cork is a foodie’s paradise with top notch venues including Sage and Kevin Ahern’s 12 Mile Menu,  Barnabrow (ideal for weddings and a leisurely Sunday lunch), Midleton’s pioneering Farmers Market (every Saturday) and the food mecca of Ballymaloe.
Christy Ring

And, before or after Barnabrow and Ballymaloe, do take the opportunity to visit the  medieval town of Cloyne. It is one of the hidden gems of the area, its skyline dominated by the large medieval Round Tower and across the road is St. Colman's Cathedral built in 1270/80 and still in use. Famous Cloyne people include the 20th century hurler Christy Ring and the 18th century philosopher George Berkeley, both of whom are remembered here: Ring's statue is by the GAA field and Berkley's tomb is in the cathedral.

Barnabrow
Coming from the city on the main Cork-Waterford road, take the Cobh exit ramp and head for breakfast or lunch, right to Bramley Lodge, or left to The Bakestone Cafe at Ballyseedy.  Now, set up for the day, go over the nearby bridge to Fota Island and its many attractions.

If you have kids, go the Wildlife Park; if not, walk through the renowned Fota Arboretum and maybe add a tour of the Georgian House. If you like it around here, you may also try the high class  Fota Island Hotel and Golf Resort. Other top class hotels in the area include the Raddison Blu (Little Island) and the Castlemartyr Resort.
Garryvoe walk

Moving on, go over the Belvelly Bridge and you’ll soon come to Frank Hederman’s famous smokehouse. You are now on Great Island where the cathedral town of Cobh is situated. Much to do here including the Sirius Art Gallery, walking tours (including the Titanic Trail and Spike Island), harbourside bars and restaurants and of course the Cobh Heritage Centre which tells of forced deportations and also the tales of the ill fated liners, The Titanic and the Lusitania.
Mitchel Hall on Spike Island

If you have four or more hours to spare, be sure to take the ferry over to Spike Island. It is a fantastic tour, great guides, so many interesting things to see and do, much of it related to its historic military and prison life, but also superb walks and views out over the harbour. Very Highly Recommended.

Fota House and arboretum; walled gardens too

Cruise liners call here regularly during the season, with a carnival atmosphere in the town on the days they are in port. And here boats take you across to Spike and also on harbour tours. Maybe you’d just like to walk around the town; I did so recently, taking in the Holy Ground, the Titanic Garden and the Sonia O’Sullivan statue, and you may check it out here. Perhaps you'd prefer just to sit on the decking at The Titanic Bar & Grill and watch the boats go by.

Sonia

Whiskey Sour in Jameson
Time now to head out of the islands and head east to Midleton and a tour of the Jameson Experience. If you give the right answers here, you’ll end up with a certificate of proficiency in whiskey! No shortage of cafes and restaurants here (indeed there's one in the distillery). Plenty more outside, including Ferrit & Lee and the family friendly Granary now celebrating twenty two years in business.
Cork Harbour

Dessert at Radisson Blu, Little Island
There will be detours, of course. One that I like is off the Whitegate road, out of Midleton. Look out for the signs for East Ferry and enjoy a walk by the estuary and maybe reward yourself with a well cooked meal at Murph’s, a restaurant with a lovely view.

Another suggested detour - you may need a driver here - is to head towards Ballyvolane House near Castlelyons. Lots to do here, including fishing and glamping, and it is also the home of Bertha's Revenge Gin!

And if you're in this area at the weekend, be sure and call to the 200 year old O'Mahony's Pub in Watergrasshill. Superb local food and drink, music also, extensive sheltered outdoor areas and ways and means to keep the kids happy.
Dinner at Sage


Next stop is Ballymaloe, the home of modern Irish food. You could spend a day here. Maybe an overnight stay to sample the world renowned cooking. Call to the cafe for a mid afternoon or mid morning  coffee. Be sure to take a look at the impressive Cookery School gardens, not forgetting the Shell House and their truck cafe during the summer. And don’t forget Golden Bean coffee roaster Marc Kingston is also based here.
Krug tasting in a Ballymaloe cornfield

In the nearby seaside village of Ballycotton, take a stroll down to the pier and see the fishermen come and go, maybe take a boat trip to the lighthouse on the nearby island. If you feel you need to stretch the legs, then there is a spectacular walk  along the cliff tops. After all that exercise, treat yourself to a gorgeous meal at Pier 26.
View from the Bayview Terrace


If you need to overnight, then the Garryvoe Hotel and its top notch Samphire Restaurant, with great views over the bay, is close at hand. And across the bay, there's its sister hotel, The Bayview; great views here. Closed in winter but, when open, check out the superb cooking of chef Ciaran Scully, an example here.
Ballycotton cliff walk

Youghal is the final town, on the Blackwater and just shy of the border with Waterford. On the way, you could stretch the legs in Killeagh’s Glenbower Woods one of many attractive walks in the East Cork area. In Youghal, take a boat trip on the Blackwater. If you want a mid-day salad or sandwich in the town, then the Sage Cafe will take good care of you. Just alongside is the newly refurbished Clock Gate Tower, a must visit!


After all the activity, you deserve to rest up for the night. Enjoy a meal in the Old Imperial Hotel on Youghal's main street, maybe just a drink in its old Coachhouse bar, maybe both! Aherne’s, of course, is famous for its seafood and they too have rooms.
Samphire at Garryvoe Hotel



And do try and get your hands on the local craft beers, including Ireland's first organic Red Ale, made by the dedicated team in the town’s Munster Brewery; they also do tours. Amazing apple and pear drinks, including their unique Ice Wine, coming from Killahora Orchard (near Glounthaune).

And before leaving the area, don’t forget to visit Ballynatray House, a Blackwater gem.
Dinner at Brook Inn

If, at the end of a day's touring, you find yourself heading back towards the city, then do consider the Brook Inn near Glanmire for dinner. It is a lively buzzy place and the food is good there too.

Enjoy East Cork, the food, the place and its people!

Ballynatray House, by the Blackwater

(revised 17.08.18)
If you have a cafe, restaurant, visitor attraction, not listed here, please let me know and I will do my best to visit with a view to inclusion in next revision. You may also use the comment facility below.