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Wednesday, October 31, 2018
La Boussole Pinot Noir Les Grandes Cotes (Pays D’Oc, IGP) 2015, 12.5%, €13.45 Le Caveau
Colour is a bright ruby and the aromas feature strawberries and raspberries. It is medium bodied, smooth and juicy. Light fruit flavours much in evidence as is a lively acidity, a little spice and an excellent fruity finish. Very Highly Recommended and great value too.
Winemaker Claude Serra employs, among other things, low yields and “a ruthless approach to quality control” to ensure a wine that reflects the variety and its terroir. And that terroir is in the Ardeche region of western Provence. The fact that it’s a cool-ish area helps the Pinot Noir.
By the way, if you ever have the good luck to be in the area, try the clafoutis! And try everything else as well. All with a glass or two of this Pinot, a very good food wine. Bon Appetit!
Domaine Ste. Croix “La Serre” Vin de France 2016, 13.5%, €20.75 Mary Pawle Wines
La Serre is the name of the limestone hill which overlooks the village of Fraïssé des Corbières. The wine is blended from the fruit of old vines grown on a limestone influenced terroir : Grenache Blanc (50%), Grenache Gris (35%), Terret Bourret (15%). Under the hot Midi sun, the vineyard produces delicious ripe fruit to make this organic dry white wine.
Colour is a mid straw and you’ll note lots of micro-bubbles hanging around in the glass. It has an aromatic nose with hints of honey. Citrus fruit flavours and a striking minerality share the spotlight on the palate. Lively acidity too and a long lip-smacking finish with the aromatics lasting the pace too. Very Highly Recommended.
M. Chapoutier Gigondas (AC) 2015, 14.5%, €34.95 Bradley's Cork
Like most Southern Rhone wines, this is a blend, mainly Grenache plus Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvedre. And it is made by a man whose philosophy is summed up by this sentence: I will not use the power of death (herbicides, pesticides, other -ides) but I will use the power of life.
And, from the dry hot Provencal climate (2,800 hours of sunshine each year), this dark ruby wine is full of life. Aromas of ripe red fruits, mainly strawberry, hints of kirsch. And magnificent fruit flavours feature prominently on the palate, well-balanced though. Chapoutier is always worth following, right to a very satisfying finalé in this case. No hesitation here: Very Highly Recommended.
The VHR was always on the cards here as both Chapoutier, “the Poet of the Rhone” and Gigondas are among my favourites. For more on this fascinating winemaker check here.
Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Cahernane House. Comfort and Class.
Superb Food and Service.
|Morning view from the window of the Albericci Room|
Many Killarney hotels have the advantage of mountains, lakes, herds of deer, more or less in the front garden and the renovated and very comfortable Cahernane Hotel on the Muckross is one of them. The lakes and mountains are constant but you may need to be on the alert around dawn or dusk to see the deer who come right up to the lawn boundary.
We were there in October and enjoyed a fantastic meal (details here) with restaurant manager Aileen and duty manager Youri looking after us. Have to say all the staff are brilliant here, always good for a chat and a laugh.
Aileen is from the Philippines and has been in her current role since 2013. She oversees all aspects of the beautiful high-ceilinged Herbert Room restaurant and even demoed her singing talents with a rendition of Happy Birthday for a surprised guest on the night.
Not too sure if Youri can sing but I wouldn't be surprised. He is from Holland but in some ways is now as Irish as any of us. The minute you talk to him, you'll see he has a tremendous love and knowledge of all things food and drink.
|Deer at dusk|
He told me they had had an extremely successful summer. "Tourists kept coming, more and more of them. And the season is extended even further this year." Indeed, the hotel was fully booked even for the opening two weeks of October.
Dinner is excellent here and you will also enjoy your breakfast in the Herbert Room. You may of course help yourself at the cold buffet as well as ordering from the Hot menu. The buffet includes juices, an excellent selection of fruits, seeds and nuts too, charcuterie, yogurts, cheese, cereals, breads and pastries.
You may start your Hot breakfast with Porridge (with some lovely additions including honey), Bruléed Pink Grapefruit, the Traditional Full Irish (of course), Manor House Omelette, Salmon and Egg Bagel, Buttermilk Pancakes, Smoked Kippers and a few other specials.
They also serve food (an all day menu) in the Cellar Bar and, later, you may enjoy a drink here. Quite a few cocktails available including their signature, 'The Herbert’, a smooth combination of gin, spiced rum, elderflower and fresh lime juice!
|Pint at ease in the Cellar Bar|
They also offer gin (including my favourites Blackwater and Bertha’s Revenge) and whiskey flights. They support local too and stock beers (on draught) from the Killarney Brewing Company. All these beers are named after local myths and legends, evoking emotions of all things Killarney. And all are pretty good, including the Casey Brothers stout!
Of course, the bedroom is a key part of any hotel and those in the Cahernane are excellent. We have previously stayed in the Garden Wing but this time we had a splendid room in the Manor itself, the heart of the old building.
|Welcome to Cahernane!|
Like all the rooms here our Albericci Room has been recently renovated. It is spacious, comfortable, beautifully decorated, with great views, well-heated too, especially the bathroom (hard to beat hot tiles and hot towels in the morning!). And of course it has WiFi and TV as well.
|A pleasant entrance drive to Cahernane|
Just got in this press release on behalf of the Cahernane:
Christmas and New Year
Enjoy a festive break like no other this Christmas in the wonderful surrounds of the luxurious Cahernane House Hotel overlooking Killarney National Park.
The beautiful recently renovated manor house in Cahernane will be turning into a Christmas wonderland for the most wonderful time of the year, and guests will be able to finish 2018 in some style in the twinkling Kerry destination.
This Christmas, guests will be treated to an exquisite culinary experience at the renowned Herbert Restaurant which was recently awarded 2 AA rosettes for its excellence. The one-night Christmas package for two (€145 pps) includes a delightful five-course dining experience with the wine of your choice in the Herbert Restaurant, while a two-night package with dinner on one evening is just €220 pps. Booking dates are available from December 27-30th.
Guests who book via the Cahernane House Hotel website will also receive a complimentary glass of prosecco on arrival to ensure that their stay gets off to a welcoming start.
There is also no better place to ring in the new year than the toasty confines of Cahernane, who are running a brilliant New Year Celebration package that on December 31st. Guests will enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail reception before tucking in to a delicious 7-course tasting menu in the Herbert Restaurant.
An exclusive Christmas Party Package for groups of 10 or more is also available from November 1st- December 15th, with a luxury overnight stay kicked off by mulled wine on arrival, before guests enjoy a private Christmas Party in the Herbert Restaurant featuring a six-course menu and a complimentary class of champagne. A full Irish breakfast is also provided the following morning, all for just €140 pps.
There will also be live music in the drawing room on New Year’s Eve, where complimentary champagne will be served to ring in 2019 in style.
The New Year Celebration package is available for €175 pps.
Monday, October 29, 2018
Taste of the Week
Miena’s Handmade Nougat
|Miena Facebook photo|
Haven’t given Miena’s Handmade Nougat a shoutout since 2014 when I first came across the delicious bars in Bradley’s of Cork. And it was in the same shop that I got my latest selection, including the Almond and Pistachio, my Taste of the Week!
Made in small batches with locally sourced fresh ingredients, Miena has developed a recipe different from those used elsewhere. The result is a unique and uncompromising soft Irish Nougat.
There is a whole list of tempting nougat flavours coming from County Wicklow these days. You may have Almonds and Coconut, Almonds and Fig, Almonds and Mixed Berries, Roasted Almonds (I have one here as I write!), Chocolate Hazlenut and Cranberry, plus various selection boxes and tins. Christmas sorted!
And there’s more good news - these scrumptious prize-winning nougats are widely available, including in Dunnes Stores Simply Better and at Miena’s own online shop. For a list of stockists, please click here.
Sunday, October 28, 2018
As Heather picked her way through the closely packed tables in Bewley’s, she could feel the stress of the morning melting away. There was something about Dublin’s legendary café that instantly cheered her. The smell of roasting coffee and warm scones… In one corner a stunning dark-haired young woman…. It was Sinead O’Connor… In another corner, a punk with a green-tipped blond Mohican was gently pressing his teabag against the side of his mug while holding an ancient Penguin paperback in his other hand. Only in Bewley’s.
from One Bad Turn by Sinéad Crowley (2017). Recommended.
Saturday, October 27, 2018
And he taught me how to cook damper and johnnycakes and whatnot… And a couple times I went back to the ridge country and popped a roo to give us a break from goat. Fintan loved a bit of roo. He boiled the tails for a stew. A few times I frenched him out a rack or two to do in the oven but mostly he liked to fry up a fillet with pepper and a tomato. Said it reminded him of beefsteak lunches at the Shelbourne, which is a pub in Ireland.
from the Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton (2018). Highly Recommended.
Thursday, October 25, 2018
Herdade do Peso Trinca Bolotas Alentejo (DOC) 2016, 14%, RRP € 19.99 wineonline.ie
It’s a vinho tinto (red wine), a blend of Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Nacional and Aragonez (Tempranillo). It has a vibrant mid ruby colour and intense ripe berry aromas. Fruity and dry, full-bodied, very well balanced with a prolonged finish. Thanks to the equilibrium of tannins, acidity and fruit, this is an excellent food wine and Very Highly Recommended.
After malolactic fermentation, the wines are transferred to French and Caucasian oak barrels, where they are matured for around six months. To maintain its high quality, the wines are bottled without cold stabilisation. It may thus throw a slight deposit during bottle-ageing.
Serve: Trinca Bolotas Red should be served at between 16ºC-18ºC.
I read the story of the local pigs on the bottle label: This pig is part of the "Porto Preto" breed, and meat from this pig is called black pork (pata negra i.e. black hoof). During the fattening-up phase, these pigs, which have never been crossbred, roam freely over the countryside and eat the acorns of holm oaks and seeds of cork oaks that are native to the area. The acorns are the secret that makes these pigs so special. The Alentejo pig or black pig (porco alentejano, porco preto) is a native of Portugal, the only surviving species of grazing pig in Europe. It is a gastronomic treasure, part of local cuisine since time immemorial. See more on the ham here.
The Alentejo pigs are classed as Iberian and therefore may be used to make the much desired Iberico ham (of which the Bellota is the highest standard of quality). So the Iberian pig is not exclusively Spanish. And if you can get your hands on the Portuguese ham, you know where to get a lovely wine to match it!
Casa Ferreirinha Esteva Douro (AOC) 2016, 12.5%, RRP €14.99, Stockists include JJ O’Driscoll Cork, The Cinnamon Cottage Cork, Bradley’s Cork, winesonline.ie
Mid ruby is the colour of this Highly Recommended Portuguese wine. Intense aromas feature fruits and floral plus a hint of spice. Light red fruits too and again some spice on the harmonious palate with polished tannins a benign factor. There is good acidity and the finish is long and dry.
It is a welcome wine at the table. You could well come across it on restaurant lists - I enjoyed it recently at Killarney’s Great Southern - if you do see it, go for this easy drinking example of Douro reds.
Like many Portuguese wines, this is a blend and the grape varieties are Tinta Roriz (40%), Tinta Barroca (35), Touriga Franca (15) and Touriga Nacional (10).
Red Nose Wine
"We will keep this simple and tell you that we have added 10 more wines to the special 25-30% Offer wines and we even left a few from the last list on. You can see what wines are now on sale ( they include Mirabello Pinot Grigio, Gassac Picpoul, 30 Mile Shiraz, Chateau Valcombe, Bordeaux and many more )
Lots open for tasting and don't forget, the Ladder SALE is still on until the end of the month
Beautiful Wines at Beautiful Prices."
Chateau Feely is a winery in Saussignac, a winery with an Irish interest. The excellent wines are imported by Mary Pawle.
News from Chateau Feely https://chateaufeely.com/
Harvest 2018 took place under gorgeous Indian summer conditions. The good weather meant no need to rush and perfect timing for all the wines. Quality is excellent and quantity is more than last year's frost affected vintage but not as much as 2016. Read on for news of this happy harvest, the early season tour and course schedule, accommodation and more.
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Taste of the Week
Joy on a Plate.
James Whelan Butchers
Enjoying some delicious breakfasts these days, the best of rashers, black and white puddings and sausages, all by James Whelan Butchers.
I visited owner Pat Whelan in his original Clonmel shop seven years ago (thought it was much more recent!); then, that was his only store. It’s been onwards and upwards for Pat and his team since and just last week they opened outlet number eight, in Dunnes Stores in Bishopscourt.
Whelan’s are renowned for the quality of their lamb and beef but, this week, I’ve had tasty proof that their offering from the pig is also of a high standard. The Heritage Cure rasher is, as they say themselves, simply delicious, “joy on a plate”. The pudding too is top notch and my personal favourite is the sausage, full of hearty flavour.
Many of the Whelan products, including his famous beef dripping, have won awards both here and in the UK, and now I’m looking forward to trying his Heritage Cure rack of bacon. Both the dripping and the bacon were part of a gift from the butcher to mark the opening of his newest store.
Oakville Shopping Centre
Upper Gladstone Street
Co. Tipperary E91 FX58
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Two Big Nights Coming up!
It is the season for game and you can get your fill of Venison, Wood Pigeon and Partridge at Loving Salads in Academy Street next month. They'll be holding Game specials on two nights, November 7th and 8th. Dinner starts at 7:30pm on both nights.
Loving Salads have good form with their evening specials, having already held a Vegetarian dinner and a Fish dinner and both nights sold out. Owner Jason Carroll decided on two nights for the game on that basis. But, bearing in mind those sellouts, you are advised to book early via an email to Jason@lovingsalads.com. Another dinner special is on the horizon for December, most likely a fish night.
On arrival at the Game event, you’ll be greeted with nibbles and a glass of Prosecco. Then start in earnest with Red Legged Partridge Breast, Celeriac, Bread sauce and Juniper Jus. On to the Wood Pigeon with Crown Prince Squash, Seasonal Mushrooms, Chicken Liver Paté.
Slow down then with a Lemon Mousse before the big one: Saddle of Venison wrapped in Brioche with Black Truffles! Pause now for a few minutes before the sweet finalé of Madagascar Dark Chocolate Delice!
Sounds tempting! Don’t forget: email Jason@lovingsalads.com to book your place!
Monday, October 22, 2018
Growing Together for a Healthy City
Cork Food Policy Harvest Festival 2018
|Members of the Churchfield Community Trust|
“We are training people who are on the CE scheme. Some may have fallen out of the normal routine and we give them the opportunity to get back into it.” Micheál is a team leader with the Churchfield Community Trust and he was telling me about their horticultural work and its results. “We deliver to CUH every week.”
I met Micheál and his colleagues at the plaza in front of the Old Butter Market in Shandon last Saturday. They were one of many groups taking part in the Cork Food Policy Harvest Festival.
And then he and his fellow team members showed me some of the attractive seasonal vegetables they are harvesting in their garden (Garrai an Aonaigh) at the old St Finbarr’s College at Farranferris at the moment. Others on the team include Emma, Frances, Padraig and Mairead.
|Deputy Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald serving the public!|
At present, with the winter just around the corner, they are concentrating on over-wintering greens, such as Pak Choi, Kales, Spinach, and Swiss Chard. The Horticulture venture is just one of the three helping arms of the trust. Aside from supplying CUH, they also supply their own Garden Café and this gives the trainees experience in hygiene and packing.
|More clay, less plastic|
That café is rather special and is based on the grounds of the Cork Foyer (formerly the Assumption Convent) and is located in a beautiful Victorian style glasshouse. It offers spectacular views of Blackpool and is open daily from April to October and Monday to Friday each week for morning coffee, freshly baked scones, brownies and flap jacks.
Along with the horticulture and the cafe, they also produce a range of Handmade Wooden Creche and Pre–School products at their purpose built workshop at Churchfield, Cork. “These products have been designed and developed by our work shop manager who gives guidance and instruction in the production of items such as bespoke tables and chairs.” And they are for sale!
|800 people fed with delicious warming Curry|
Gardening and health was more or less the theme for the weekend events where Hydrofarm Allotments, Shandon Area Community Green Garden and the St Stephen’s Sustainable Food Lab were among other groups taking part in the weekend’s activities.
And I came across more at the Harvest Fest Finalé in Fitzgerald’s Park on Sunday where some 800 visitors were fed, for free, with food from the various growers and communities taking part. The donated food was turned into a gorgeous curry by volunteers (who did the work at the Quay Coop), all coordinated by Keelin Tobin and her team.
Lots of stalls around the main green area in the park where the lively music was provided by the band of the First Brigade. And that theme of food and health was underlined by Our Garden at St Mary’s where the motto is “Growing together for positive mental health”. Here, they are using Eco Therapy to see beyond Mental Health illness, “allowing people to become active in their own journey”. The Sli Eile organic farm in Churchtown (North Cork) uses similar methods and they also had a Harvest event on the Saturday.
Back to Fitzgerald’s Park where the Bee stall was a big draw and the kids were also kept active with pumpkin throwing, face-painting, even tug-of-war. And the apple juicer stall was also very popular.
One of the most colourful stalls was that of Martha Cashman’s More Clay Less Plastic. She makes lovely bird feeders; they are reasonably priced (I bought a couple) and they (and the birds that visit for food) are a delightful addition to any garden or outdoor area.
Aside from the main display area, there were some colourful creations over by the pond, edible boat gardens created by the amazing crew at Knocknaheeney Hollyhill community garden, another angle to Cork Food Harvest Festival, not your regular food festival but a celebration by and of all those who commit to a sustainable and healthy food system. And the great news, according to Cork Healthy City over on Twitter, is that this community is growing every year. Excuse the pun!
See more on the Cork Food Policy Council here.
Sunday, October 21, 2018
Cahernane House Hotel in Condé Nast Top 3
‘Best Dining Experience'
Cahernane House Hotel in Killarney has been shortlisted in the Condé Nast top 3 hotels for ‘Best Dining Experience UK & Ireland’. Condé Nast is widely regarded as the ultimate globetrotting bible for even the most discerning traveller and features luxury hotels, restaurants and destinations from all corners of the world.
The leading lifestyle travel magazine will hold its ‘Annual Awards for Excellence Dinner’ at the glitzy May Fair Hotel in London on Monday, 5th of November when the overall winner will be announced. Cahernane House Hotel, General Manager, Emer Corridan will attend the black-tie awards ceremony to represent the property.
Emer has been working at Cahernane House Hotel since 2016, managing the hotel and ensuring that each guest that walks through the door has a relaxing and memorable stay as well as leading her team to a four star standard and beyond. Emer as an individual can best be described the life of Cahernane with her passion shining through in her everyday contact with both the team and guests.
Cork native Eric Kavanagh is the Executive Chef at Cahernane House and leads a talented team in the kitchen at the distinguished Herbert Restaurant in the hotel. Before starting at Cahernane House Hotel in 2017, Eric worked at Longueville House in Mallow, Marlfield House in Gorey and Sheen Falls in Kenmare. He also spent some time abroad in Canada and New Zealand where he was inspired by the many international chefs he worked with.
The key ingredient behind any good meal is the timing however, and Eric is keen to point out that he bases his menu and technique on what time of the year it is.
“It’s a seasonal thing,” he said. “You want to make the food so it’s good, but that it also shows technique and it’s not over the top and there for the sake of it. You see what’s around, what is in season, and you put it together and you make sure that there is some sense of technique to it to. From there you test it, and if it works you use it, if it doesn’t work you keep adjusting it until you’re happy with it really.”
|Cured Halibut, carrot, finger lime, Bergamot|
The Herbert Restaurant has two AA Rosettes and serves fabulous seasonal dishes prepared with flair and style by a hand that understands great technique with minimal fuss. We were on the Table d'Hote €55.00 menu and started off with an excellent glass of Prosecco. Delicious breads, including a treacle version and an onion one, followed as did an amuse bouche.
No shortage of interesting starters on the menu and mine was a gorgeous Wild Boar and Foie Gras while CL was thrilled with her Castletownbere Crab wrapped in cucumber. A couple of palate cleansing "Middle Courses" followed, Cured Halibut for me, Clementine Sorbet for her. Two beautiful dishes, small but enough for the chef to again display his skills.
As he did again with the mains. Hard to top the Slow Cooked Guinea Fowl, with Mead and Soy, Pistachio, Pumpkin, Black Trompette Mushrooms, and Baby Turnip. CL enjoyed a beautiful fish dish: Confit Cod and smoked Cod Belly, with Seaweed Pastille, Cauliflower, Cabbage and Apple. Really high class stuff and all washed down with a PradoRey Verdejo, aromatic, elegant and expressive.
And did we have dessert? Of course. We had a couple of beauties, not from the usual list of suspects at all. CL was delighted with her pick: Iced Raspberry Mousse (Lemongrass gel, crème fraiche and coco snap) while I indulged my sweet tooth with Sauternes Infused Figs and Pressed Kefir (fig compote and wild blackberries). Quite a finalé!
See second post from this visit, details on room, bar and breakfast, here.
See second post from this visit, details on room, bar and breakfast, here.
Fancy a meal there? Why not check out their Autumn Escape Break (From €94.50 per person sharing) includes one night’s accommodation with breakfast and dinner in the fine dining, critically acclaimed 2 AA Rosette Herbert Restaurant (you can also enjoy a complimentary glass of prosecco when you book on www.cahernane.com). This lovely package also includes a complimentary art and history tour which runs each evening from 6.00pm. For more information on Cahernane House Hotel or to make a booking see www.cahernane.com or call (064) 663 1895.
Friday, October 19, 2018
Nobody knew about the long-term effects, but one piece of recent research has indicated that ‘Girls born to Dutch women who were pregnant during the famine at the end of the Second World War had an above-average risk of developing schizophrenia.’ Another, earlier study indicated that those who had survived by eating tulip bulbs did better than those who had included wheat in their diet, but when they consumed American bread parachuted in at the liberation, they rapidly succumbed to coeliac disease.
from Arnhem, The Battle for the Bridges, 1944 by Anthony Beevor (2018). Highly Recommended.
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Beats and Brunch. Music and Munch.
All Happens at The River Club.
Cork’s progressive River Lee Hotel has spectacularly transformed its dining and beverage facilities in recent months. The eye-catching River Club is now their ultra comfortable centre.
Here you can relax and enjoy brunch, lunch and drinks (with the alternative of the adjoining enclosed riverside terrace) and there’s sophisticated dining in the Grill Room. Sophisticated or casual or just in for a drink and nibbles with friends, the River Club is worth a call.
We visited the colourful venue on Sunday as a part of a Media Sneak Peek. Head Chef Paul Lane had a line-up of tempting brunch dishes for us while the music, from vinyl, added to the buzz. Claire and Sinead, rightly proud of the new set-up, greeted us and told us their ingredients come from an array of local suppliers including the English Market and that all their beef is 100% per cent Irish.
Soon their Signature Bloody Mary (Ketel One Vodka, River Club Mary Mix, Lemon and with or without oyster garnish) made a welcome appearance and we were up and running in our comfortable high seats. You also have the armchair option! Enjoyed too one of their Juicery Shots (mine was the Blueberry with Almond Milk and Coconut water). And then followed the Granola (Greek yogurt, seasonal fruit compote).
By now, we were finding out more about the menu, making our choices. I put my eye on the Sautéed Wild Mushroom and Spinach (English muffin, poached eggs chilli flakes, and hollandaise sauce) and I wasn’t disappointed. Far from it.
CL too was very happy with her choice: Tomato and Avocado Toast (English muffin, poached eggs, chilli flakes and hollandaise sauce). We were both saying that we preferred the muffin to sourdough in the dishes. What do you think?
Also available were the River Club Brunch Special, Eggs Florentine and Toasted Banana Bread. And, don’t worry, on their full menu you’ll find Eggs Benedict and Eggs Royale and more.
And we also had dessert. CL picked the Lemon Posset, a very good one indeed. Meanwhile I was spooning from my tall Chocolate Sundae and sipping from a flavour packed Espresso O’Martini (Kalak Irish Vodka, Black Twist Liqueur, Espresso, Demerara). Both the Kalak and the Black Twist are Irish by the way.
Lots of tempting cocktails on offer, a selection from their Hi-Ball and Classic lists. Very tempted by the Safe Harbour (Kraken Spiced Rum, Ginger Beer, Lime, Murphy’s Irish Stout, Demerara) and the Barry’s Brandy (Courvoisier VSOP Cognac, Cold Brew Barry’s Tea, Honey, Lemon). I did get a taste of the the Brandy but my favourite was the Velvet Lady (Blackwater No. 5 Gin, Velvet Falernum, Cointreau, Lemon). Just perfect!