Thursday, June 20, 2019

Bobo Café at the Glucksman


Bobo Café at the Glucksman
Cajun Pork

For over a year now, Bobo, the café in the Glucksman Gallery in UCC, has been serving breakfast, lunch, weekend brunch, while all the time superb coffee by local roaster Golden Bean, along with a tempting host of baked delights, are available.
Miso

About time I called, I said to myself the other day. And off we went - by bus. The number 8, sorry 208, takes you to the Western Road entrance, just a few steps away from the gallery.

Bobo is also the venue for food related events, once a month. Recently, they held a cheese and also a fermentation workshop. And, if you’re in for brunch on Sunday, you’ll more than likely have live music to add to the atmosphere.
Risotto
The breakfast menu is very tempting but, on this particular day, lunch suited us better. The menu is not the longest but choices are good, usually with a few to suit vegetarians.

Last week, they had two soups on offer. Miso (4.50), with toasted sesame and seaweed, was my choice while CL enjoyed her daily special, carrot, ginger and squash (5.50) with an excellent brown bread. By the way, a few crackers came with mine.

There were five main courses on offer, one with fish, another with meat. CL chose Cajun pork fillet, butternut squash purée and mango salsa (13.50). This was well Cajun-ed! Well cooked actually and a lovely dish, good flavour, colour and texture.
Dodger

Glucksman. Bobo is bottom right.
My Shiitake mushroom and Artichoke Heart Risotto (12.50) with an olive tapenade mightn’t have looked so well - it was tidily presented - but it was another very enjoyable dish. The main ingredients, the mushroom and the artichoke, could well have turned this into a bowl of blandness but the tapenade and the salad helped to balance it.

They do have a short wine-list, most available by the glass, and a few craft beers but we stuck with water on this occasion. Had some of that excellent Golden Bean coffee though with our dessert.

Very few desserts on the menu, but there’s quite a spread of sweet things on the counter. Hard to choose! But we did enjoy our Jammy Dodger (coconut and raspberry compote) and Warm Apple Cake with Vanilla Ice cream (6.00).

They are very much into supporting local producers here and you’ll see some mentioned on the menu. A blackboard lists O’Mahony’s English Market (meat), Ballycotton Seafood (fish, seafood), Colin Woulfe  Macroom (eggs) Greenfields Farm (leaves, veg) and My Goodness (kefir and vegan treats).
Bobo 
at The Glucksman
Lower Grounds, UCC,
Western Road, Cork
(021) 490 1848
Hours: 10am - 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday;12pm - 5pm, Sundays

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Whites Shine in O'Brien's Summer Promotion


Whites Shine in O'Brien's Summer Promotion

There's a whole world of white wine out there aside from the big names such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio. The O'Brien's Summer Promotion, now in full swing (until July 21st), gives you the chance to try something new. I took advantage myself as I sampled a few, including a gorgeous Verdejo from Spain, a fresh and fruity Verdicchio from Italy, a Grüner Veltliner (a long-time favourite of mine) from Austria, and a top notch Chenin Blanc from South Africa. Terrific wines and now at very attractive prices. While I did concentrate on the whites, the reds too are excellent and that Sicilian Appassimento will go down well at most tables.

De Alberto Organic Verdejo Rueda (DO) 13.5%, on offer 12.95 (was 14.95). New at O’Brien’s


The more I drink Spanish whites, like this Verdejo (new to O'Brien's), the more I begin to appreciate them. This organic wine, by De Alberto, is refreshing and quite intense (with citrus to the fore) and is Very Highly Recommended.

Colour is a light straw, clean and bright, with a green tint. Ripe white fruit, herby notes too in the aromas. Superb fruit flavours make their presence felt instantly, a lively citrus-y acidity too, lips a tingle and a persistent and very pleasing finish. Enjoy with poultry, fish and seafood

The 2018 vintage enjoyed good weather conditions, no extremes at all, and this meant the grape stayed healthy and reached an optimum state of maturity.

Verdejo, which may not be familiar to us as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay, is an aromatic grape variety behind the crisp white wines of Rueda, its undisputed home in central Spain. Wine-Searcher says that full-bodied Verdejo wines are held in high regard, displaying herbaceous, nutty characters with balanced acidity and some cellaring potential.

Marotti “Albiano” Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi (DOC) Classico 2018, 13%, €11.95 on offer, was 14.95. O’Brien’s

I’m a big fan of Verdicchio, whether it is from Castelli di Jesi or from Matelica (a bit further inland). Both are in the Marche in the central eastern part of Italy. And this typically refreshingly crisp Albiano is as good an example as you are likely to come across.

It comes in a light straw colour, greenish tinges, lots of micro-bubbles clinging to the sides of the glass. There’s a pleasant aromatic mix of floral and white fruit, moderate rather than intense. Bright and lively palate, citrus led flavours with a barely noticeable herbaceousness, and that typical zesty acidity. 

Unoaked, there is nothing overly complex here, dry, fresh, fruity. Good finish too and this well-made wine is Very Highly Recommended, a good one to start your relationship with this grape if you haven’t already done so!

I enjoyed this as an aperitif but I’ve read that it goes well with Brodetto di Pesce, a rich seafood stew made locally in the Marche. You may not be able to get that here and other recommendations include seared scallops, Linguini with clams, other shellfish, with pasta and rice dishes, and salads, even pecorino cheese. It is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Rabl Grüner Veltliner Löss Kamptal (DAC) 2018, 11.5%, €14.95 (was 18.95). O’Brien’s

From peachy attack to citrus finish, this Grüner Veltliner goes the delicious distance. The Grüner Veltliner grape, known for its aromatic fruity wines, gets on very well with the local Löss soil.

Colour is light gold. There is a fresh bouquet of white and yellow fruit, a touch of white pepper. Peach and citrus mingle well in the tingly palate. Mineral notes too plus excellent acidity. All followed by a lip-smacking dry finish. Fresh, crisp and zesty, a refreshing experience and Highly Recommended.

The Rabl Winery in Langenlois has three guiding principles: 1. Only perfect grapes can yield a top wine. 2. Must from perfect grapes allows minimal intervention. 3. No fear of powerful wines! Rabl are well regarded and they recommend pairing this generous and refreshing wine with light starters or as an aperitif. Should go well too with simple fish dishes, fresh shellfish and salads.





This is new to O’Brien’s and worth keeping an eye out for. The fruits are hand-harvested with careful selection, barrel and tank fermented and the wine is further barrel matured for a rounded complexity. Ideal, according to the label, with seafood and shellfish, also with mildly spiced curries and lovely with saffron.



This ia regular award winner over recent years and comes in light gold colour. White fruit and honey notes in moderately intense aromas. A good depth of flavour follows: apricot, melon, plus touch of vanilla. No shortage of acidity either. Quite a mouthfeel too - it has spent some 9 months on lees. It is harmonious all the way through to a very satisfying finalé. Another ace Chenin Blanc from Forrester and this rich and ripe wine is Very Highly Recommended.


Fonte do Ouro Branco DÃO (DOC) 2018, 13%, on offer 13.95, was 16.95. O’Brien’s




Portuguese wines can often be a hard sell because of the unfamiliar names of the grapes but don’t let that put you off. You could be missing out on some real gems such as this white blend of Arinto and Encruzado, ideal with starters, seafood and fish when served at 10 degrees. Like the way Boas Quintas (the producers) sum it up on the label: green colour, apple, pear, and tropical fruit aromas, good structure, fresh and mineral.


Pretty accurate too, I’d have to say. Colour is a light straw with a pronounced green influence. You’ll find peach, apple, pear and more exotic notes too in the aromas. A very pleasant melange of flavours on the palate, mouthfeel also impressive, fresh too with minerality, and acidity enough to balance. Finish is persistent. Highly Recommended.

Fonte do Ouro Tinto DÃO (DOC) 2017, 13%, on offer 13.95, was 16.95. O’Brien’s
And here's another good one from the same stable, a blend of Touriga Nacional, Alfrocheiro and Jaen. This fresh and smooth wine has spent six months in oak and should be served at 16 to 18 degrees and will go well with red meats.

It has a dark ruby colour. Fairly rich aromas of blackcurrant and cherry. I see lots of references to Earl Grey Tea but must admit I didn't pick it up in the nose. There’s a great mix of those fruit flavours on the palate, fresh, with a touch of spice, smooth tannins and a very satisfying finish. Highly Recommended.

All three grapes are popular in the region. The Alfrocheiro adds depth of colour, Touriga Nacional is considered to be the country’s finest, while Jaen is the local name for the what the Spanish call Mencía.



Colpasso Nero D’Avola Appassimento Sicily (DOC) 2018, 14%, on offer at €12.95 (was 15.95). New to O’Brien’s.

Appassimento? You may well ask. If you ask Wine Spectator, they’ll tell you it is the Italian term for drying harvested grapes, traditionally on bamboo racks or straw mats, for a few weeks up to several months, to concentrate the sugars and flavors. 

Appassimento is most associated with northern Italy but there are many examples in the south and this Colpasso is one. Here they make a careful selection of the very best Nero D’Avola grape in the Sicilian area of Agrigento and Vittoria. Some of the grapes are partially dried prior to vinification “giving the wine an incredible intense flavour”. You’ll note that intensity at your very first sip.

Colour is a dark ruby. Those rich red fruit are noticeable in the aromas, immediately. And the flavours are indeed rich and intense, the main feature of the velvety palate, some spice there too, and a hint of sweetness. A good example of appassimento, easy drinking and Highly Recommended.

Check out my post on a few of the O'Brien rosés here




Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Taste of the Week. Award-winning Longueville House Cider


Taste of the Week
Award-winning Longueville House Cider

Longueville House Cider 5.5%, widely available in 500ml bottle

The big thing you notice, aside from the golden colour of this medium-dry cider and the rich aromas of the autumn in the 24-year old orchard, is that the flavour is long and deep, like the mighty Blackwater that flows by the Longueville Estate near Mallow, Co. Cork. 

The balance, between the estate grown fruit (25 acres) and the acidity, is remarkable, hinting that the production process is precise. But this is not measured, not weighed, at least not in any industrial sense. Remember this is all comes together in an old bare-walled farm shed, using “machinery”, for the apple brandy in particular, that is just as likely to be seen in a folk museum or come across in a secondhand sale.

Two varieties of apple, Michelin and Dabinett, are grown in Longueville. The amount of each variety is not measured. They are gathered up together and go into the old oak press together. Nothing is added. Irish Distillers ace cooper Ger Buckley told me recently that, when reassembling a barrel, he judges everything by eye. Cider making in Longueville is something similar: by eye, by smell, by touch, by intuition, the basic tools of an artisan honed by years of experience.

Put them all together as they have in this North Cork estate (a proud member of the Old Butter Roads Food Trails) and the result is this superb cider, yours to savour, the pleasing sensation of the orchard fruit, long and deep on the palate and its refeeshing finalé. With no artificial sweeteners, additives, colourings, preservatives or added sulphites, this is a true craft cider. 

Do not spoil the effort of the land and the human hand with ice. Longueville’s Rubert Atkinson (pictured above) advises: “No ice! It waters down the flavours and kills the carbon. Enjoy this like a wine, in a wine glass.” Chill it well and pair with fish, meat (especially pork), cheese, charcuterie or simply on its own.

* Back in the mists of time, these Longueville lands were owned by a Daniel O’Callaghan but, after the collapse of the 1641 rebellion, O’Callaghan’s lands went to Cromwell. Amazingly, the wheel came full circle in 1938 when the present owner’s grandfather Senator William O’Callaghan bought the property, restoring it to the same family clan of O’Callaghans. You may read all about the centuries in between in a leaflet they hand out at the house and, on the back, is a map of the many and varied walks on the estate! Info also on the website here.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Walk The Long and Local Table


Walk The Long and Local Table
You'll Never Eat Alone
G&T for the gang in Electric Fish Bar
Welcome to Ali's
Why not start a very fine event with a very fine perry? That’s exactly what happened when we joined a group to Walk the Long Table at Ali’s Kitchen. Ali herself would be our guide for the afternoon (and well into the evening) and, as she told us what to expect, she served a glass of the gorgeous Killahora Poiré. The event is all about local produce and the Glounthaune produced perry set the tone along with some delicious and potato bread with home-made butter.

A big welcome next at The Farmgate Cafe where our plate was based on produce from the Olive Stall in the market. The dish featured Toonsbridge Mozzarella with tomato and tarragon salad and crispy kale. Here we also enjoyed a glass of Elderflower/Prosecco and a shot of Gazpacho.
Farmgate

Nash 19
Next stop was in Nash 19, 27 years in business and involved in the Long Table from the very start. A very tasty dish here: Cod from Pat O’Connell in the English Market, in a light crispy batter featuring Longueville House cider. Longueville’s Rubert told us, as he filled our glasses, that the cider is made from their own apples and that nothing is added. “Should pair well with the fish,” he said. It was indeed a winning match.

Claire Nash emphasised that their menu is local and seasonal driven. And she credited the Long Table with enhancing the cooperation between the local restaurants. “It is raising the standard, “ she said and Rubert agreed.

A few minutes later we in were in Fish Bar at Electric where oysters were on the menu. At least one of the group tried one for the first time! There was one for everyone in the audience and a generous glass too of Kinsale Gin.
Perfect serve (gin & oysters) at Electric

A short walk took us to Jacob’s On the Mall where Michelle was on the street to welcome us in and tell us a bit about the fascinating venue. And they had quite a dish for us, all local of course. A generous slice of Jack McCarthy's famous Queen’s Pudding and a few fritters featuring Cashel Blue cheese went down very well indeed with a glass of wine.
Jacobs on the Mall

Ali then found the shortest way to reach Crawford and Co on Anglesea Street. Sarah told us all about the changes here and was full of praise for Eoin O’Mahony, the well-known butcher in the English Market. The informal and enjoyable atmosphere continued here as we sipped our Beamish and tucked into the superb fillet of beef from Eoin.
Tender stuff at Crawford & Co

Time for something sweet now and Beth at Dockland had just the job: Bushby strawberries, marshmallow meringue, lime, vanilla + basil cream, strawberry daquiri sauce with, for good measure, a glass of prosecco, pomegranate, passion fruit + mint spritz. Think she mentioned there was a drop of Kinsale gin in there too!
Dockland

Beth and Harold have been in this location over 11 years, thanks to her "amazing customers". About 18 months ago, they closed the old Club Brasserie and a few hard weeks later opened up on the same spot as Dockland! The customers loved it and why not. Here you enjoy a a great variety of local produce.”We love local, our food is not fussy, just tasty good food.” The menu is quite large and has something for virtually every taste and budget.
Dockland

The finalé was close at hand and we were welcomed to the 200 years old Imperial Hotel (Charles Dickens and Michael Collins have been guests) by new manager Bastian who guided us to their Whiskey Experience, three local bottles paired with pastries cooked by the hotel’s pastry chefs.

Bastian
Alan took over for the tasting in the lovely Lafayette’s, introducing the West Cork Bourbon Barrel, the Jameson Black Barrel and the well known Paddy. The Jameson seemed to be the favourite whiskey and was also my pick of the three. But the best pairing, I thought was, surprisingly, the Paddy and a Milk Chocolate Fudge. Even better with a hot Paddy according to the ebullient Alan. 

So a very fine start at Ali’s and now a very fine ending in Lafayette’s as we reflected, with a Cosmopolitan cocktail in hand, on the happy hours we had passed as a group. Until the next time! Cheers and well done to all the restaurants involved. Walk the Long Table is a tour through a string of Cork's best restaurants. It continues this week with two walks each of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. They are all booked out but, just in case a few become available (as happened last week), do keep an eye on  and @CorksLongTable. Website: https://www.corkmidsummer.com/programme/event/walk-the-long-table1  
Alan takes us through the whiskey!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Incredible Clonakilty Street Carnival


The Incredible Clonakilty Street Carnival
Volunteers Rise To The Occasion Again!

Volunteers. What would we do without them?

You've just got to hand it to the magnificent community behind the annual Clonakilty Street Carnival who once again provided a marvellous day's entertainment in the West Cork town last Saturday.
Finalising a table in the morning.

Lots of meetings ahead of the big day of course and it all came together in the most delightful way, even the weather cooperated!

Food is an essential element here. And, before the big event, the kids had their Long Table meal, a healthy one as well. Indeed, the children are very well catered for here. Lots of activities for them, everything from face-painting to penalty shootouts, from table tennis to learning circus tricks.

Chefs get ready
And for everyone, there’s so much to see and do. Music, music, everywhere. Brass bands, jazzy bands, solo singers on the side streets, big bands on the stage on the main street. And all of this is free!

You do have to pay for the main event, the long table dinner. Three long rows of tables along the main street have been prepared by those volunteers from early morning. The restaurants, cafés and hotels in the area, all get together to provide the food, a great variety of it.

Volunteer at the carnival stall
For just fifteen euro, you have a choice of main courses (all street food style), a glass of wine or beer (the local brewery did a special for the occasion), and a dessert from Irish Yogurts (a big sponsor of the event). All this for just fifteen euro per adult, half that (I think) for kids.

No wonder the queue for the 3.00pm “eat-off”, began about thirty minutes earlier. But it was all very mannerly and good-humoured, lots of banter and you could still hear the music and take in some of wandering acts.
The superb Clonakilty Brass Band. Well, half of them!

And no big rush once the "gates"opened! Just a few are let through at a time to pick up their chosen dishes from the restaurant stall of their choice. And when you emerge at the other end, there's a smiling volunteer there with a tray to help you to a vacant seat.

After that sit down and relax. Eat that food, sip your drink, listen to the band, chat to the neighbour, watch that stilt-walker go by. Just enjoy. The day is young, the sun is where it should be, and Clon is buzzing.

More photos below and more on my Facebook and Twitter accounts
The big drum proved a major hit

Wind section

"Applause for the band please". Another volunteer in action


Helping out at the children's long tabler.

Children tuck in.

This guerrilla band of would-be chefs, complete with pot lids and wooden spoons, led by a noisy broccoli-biting whirling dervish, made quite an impact!

This volunteer led the queue in a sing-sing!

Tempting!






Clon by the sea

Teaching a juggling trick


Full marks here for this quick-learner

On the first tee

Super stuff from the team at Celtic Ross!

Music. Music.

Diners relax in the sun

Earlier in the day.