Saturday, August 31, 2019

Amuse Bouche

After Ferguson unpacked,… went to the dining room for breakfast, which was still being served at ten o’clock, and had his first taste of English cuisine, a platter that consisted of one sunny-side-up egg (great but delicious), two undercooked rashers of bacon (slightly repellent but delicious), two pork sausages, a thoroughly cooked cooked tomato, and two thick slices of homemade white bread slathered with Devonshire butter that was better than any butter he had ever tasted. The coffee was undrinkable…

from 4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster (2017). Highly Recommended.

Blas na hÉireann 2019 finalists announced ahead of October's final judging in Dingle

Blas na hÉireann 2019 finalists announced ahead of final judging in Dingle in October  and there are 62 producers shortlisted from Cork.
Take time out to tour the stunning peninsula, including Slea Head (above)
Arte Clifford (Blas)

 Blas na hÉireann, the Irish food awards, have reached the penultimate stage of this year’s awards, with the announcement of the finalists who will go through to the final round of judging in Dingle this October, with 350 producers from across Ireland reaching this coveted stage.

The Blas na hÉireann awards are the biggest blind tasting of produce in the country, and the criteria on which the product is judged as well as the judging system itself, which was developed by Blas with the Food Science Dept of UCC and the University of Copenhagen that is now recognised as an industry gold standard worldwide.

During the first round of judging which took place over the course of four weeks in June and July, over 2,500 entries were judged in UCC & TU Dublin, bringing the total number of finalists in each category down to just five.

Each of these producer finalists will have their products tasted, compared, savoured and judged at the final of Blas na Éireann 2019 in Dingle on Thursday 3rd October. This is the 12th year of the biggest competition for quality Irish produce on the island, and the Blas na Éireann 2019 final will produce worthy winners of awards that have become an important part of the commercial success of so many exceptional Irish products.
The finalists shortlisted from Kerry across a range of different categories are Kinsale Mead Co., West Cork Garlic, 9 White Deer Brewery Ltd., Bainne Codladh Ltd., Baked 4 U, Ballyvolane House Spirits Company Ltd., Bandon Vale Cheese Ltd., Barrie's Pate, Bluebell Falls, Bó Rua Farm, Caherbeg Free Range Pork Ltd., Centra - Inspired by Centra Made in store salads, Clona Dairies, Clonakilty Food Company, Cooke's At The Gallery, Coolmore Foods, Elbow Lane Brewhouse Ltd., Fitzgeralds Butchers, Follain, Gloun Cross Dairies, Good Food Processing Ltd., Gourmet Pantry Kinsale, Happy Days, Artisan Ice Cream, Hassetts Bakery & Confectioners Ltd., Henry Denny & Sons (IRE) Ltd., Hodgins Sausages, Irish Yogurts Clonakilty, Keohane Seafoods, Kepak Cork, Kinsale Bay Food Company, Longueville House Beverages, Macroom Buffalo Cheese Products Ltd., Maggie's Homemade Jam, MamaBear Foods Ltd., Mellas Fudge, Milleens Cheese, Milsean, Nohoval Drinks Company, North Cork Co Op, North Cork Creameries, Ó Crualaoi Feoil Teo, O'Flynn's Gourmet Sausage Company, O'Leary Family Butchers, On The Pig's Back - La Charcuterie Irlandaise Ltd., Praline Pastry Shop, Quish's Kitchen, Saturday Pizzas, Secret Recipe, Serendipity Smokehouse, Shannon Vale Foods, Skeaghanore Duck, Spice O' Life Ltd., St. Patricks Distillery Ltd., The Fresh Fish Deli, Tom Durcan Meats Ltd., Trace Of Cakes, Liz's Grain Free Bread, Uflourish Foods, Union Hall Smoked Fish, Velo Coffee Roasters, West Cork Distillers, West Cork Eggs Ltd.
A former Supreme Champion

 Backyard at Blas
Returning to this year’s Blas na hÉireann in Dingle is the hugely successful Backyard at Blas, an innovative meeting space designed to bring fellow producers together in a relaxed and informal way to meet, mingle and share experience and insights into running a business, and to offer support to those starting out. First supported by Bank of Ireland in 2017 and again last year, the talks series has proved so popular with attendees that Bank of Ireland have just signed a new deal for Backyard at Blas 2019.

This September, Blas na hÉireann are going on the road with a special roadshow to help finalists get ready for the weekend in Dingle. They have been kindly welcomed by their partner Bank of Ireland to host special events across the country in their Bank of Ireland Workbench venues. These events will help finalists with details on the weekend of final judging, tips on how best to prepare from a press and buyer point of view, local information for travel, help on timings and how best to prepare your product for delivery and judging.
The roadshow will be in Cork on Tuesday 3rd September at 2pm in the Bank Of Ireland Workbench, 70 Patrick Street, Cork.

Over 2,500  products were entered into this year’s competition to win Gold, Silver or Bronze Blas na hÉireann awards in over 140 food and drink categories, as well as key awards like Supreme Champion and Best Artisan Producer, so there will be good food and drink guaranteed in Dingle this October.

press release

Friday, August 30, 2019

A Taste of West Cork Forum to Explore The Challenges of Change

press release
The Challenges of Change:
Annual West Cork Forum, as part of A Taste of West Cork Food Festival, set to shine spotlight on food safety, sustainability and climate change

As avid foodies all over the island salivate at the thought of the upcoming A Taste of West Cork Food Festival (6-15th September) – including international food fans who have travelled long distances to be a part of the gourmet action – organisers of the annual festival are also keen to use their platform to showcase West Cork’s prominence as a standalone, sustainable food capital of Ireland and one that strives to protect and nurture its surrounding environment. This will be carried out through the annual West Cork Forum, a free event that will take over the Baltimore Sailing Club on Saturday 7th September and serve as one of the key highlights of the 2019 Festival programme.

Sponsored by Sean and Rose O’Driscoll, this year’s conference covers a hugely pressing topic, namely ‘Facing the Challenges of a Rapidly Changing World – Our Survival’. An all-day event, the 2019 West Cork Forum will kick off at 11am sharp, with the morning section running straight through until lunchtime at 1pm. After a brief break, the activity will be back in full swing from 2:30-4:30pm, when the conference element of the Forum will come to a conclusion.

The West Cork Forum agenda is this year decorated with a wide range of esteemed guest speakers, who will discuss an array of notable topics including food safety, food justice, sustainability and climate change. Among those addressing the gathered crowds will be the Australian Ambassador to Ireland, His Excellency Richard Andrews; Baroness Bryony Worthington, Architect of the UK Climate Change Act, Founder of Sandbag Climate Campaign and Executive Director for Europe of the Environmental Defence Fund; Dr Aifric O Sullivan UCD, member of the Editorial Group of the InterAcademy Partnership Report 2018; Owen Brennan, Executive Chairman Devenish Nutrition; Dr Christie Godsmark, School of Public Health and the Environmental Research Institute, University College Cork; David Byrne, Former EU Commissioner, Health and Consumer Protection with Responsibility for Food Safety in the EU; and Chairman Lord David Puttnam, climate activist, educator and filmmaker.
At last year's forum (l to r): Sean O'Driscoll, sponsor West Cork Forum; Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development and Helen Collins, Chair of A Taste of West Cork Food Festival. 
Those attending the West Cork Forum can also take advantage of another A Taste of West Cork Food Festival programme highlight, which will be held in the area on the evening in order to celebrate the centenary of the RNLI Baltimore. The event, taking place at Baltimore Harbour from 5pm is also free of charge to the public and will feature a rescue demonstration staged by the RNLI Lifeboat station and the Coast Guard helicopter, giving onlookers an opportunity to witness the bravery and professionalism of the volunteers that battle the elements and put their lives at risk to rescue those in danger at sea.

Following an engaging morning and afternoon filled with debate, discussion and contemplation, lucky ticketholders (to a now sold-out event) will be invited to celebrate and sample all of the finest produce that West Cork has to offer, with a drinks’ reception at the Baltimore Sailing Club, followed by a gourmet seafood dinner at The Lookout Restaurant. Pre-dinner drinks will be complimented by a special performance from St Fachtna’s Silver Band, while a seafood feast served up by Kate Jacob and her team at The Lookout will showcase the bounty of the Atlantic Ocean, with each course paired with carefully selected Australian wines. During the dinner, critically acclaimed Dutch cookbook author, recipe writer, TV presenter and culinary editor Yvette van Boven, will address the crowd and bring yet another memorable, educational Forum to a close.

Speaking ahead of next week’s conference, His Excellency Richard Andrews, the Australian Ambassador to Ireland, said: “This festival and indeed the West Cork Forum highlights the love and knowledge the people of West Cork have for their own place, their pride in the quality of the fruits it bears, and their commitment to managing their land sustainably for the future. These are values Australia’s Aboriginal people have held for over 60,000 years, and of which Australians today remain proud. Our communities, although separated by land and sea, remain intrinsically linked thanks to the major role played by Irish people in the building of Australia as it is today. We want 21st century Ireland – and especially West Cork – to be an ongoing part of the story of our national cuisine and we equally want Australia to contribute to the evolution of Ireland’s culinary landscape.”

He added: “We look forward to celebrating our mutual commitment during this ground-breaking visit and to sharing an educational experience through the West Cork Forum.”

Also commenting on an event that promises to be one of the busiest of the Festival, Chairperson of the A Taste of West Cork Food Festival voluntary committee, Helen Collins, said: “This year’s topic is undoubtedly of great importance to all of us as citizens of the world, and it certainly holds particular prominence for those of us living in West Cork and familiar with its rich landscape and the huge efforts of its local people in contributing to sustainability, food quality and combating climate change. Our status as one of Ireland’s most prominent food capitals gives us a natural platform to hold such serious discussions on sustainable food safety and environmental health and the West Cork Forum addresses all these issues in depth. This status, combined with a list of speakers that are as esteemed as they are informed on their individual subject, creates an unbeatable formula for an event that will both enlighten and inspire. We are proud that through the annual Forum and bountiful programme, our Festival continues to excite and educate those that visit this heavenly part of the planet.”

For further details on the West Cork Forum and A Taste of West Cork Food Festival, which runs from 6-15th September, visit To book events please call the venues directly.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Taste of the Week. Irish Bacon Jam by Erne Larder

Taste of the Week
Irish Bacon Jam by Erne Larder

Just had a mid-day snack there with three simple ingredients: sourdough from El Door in Cork, Durrus Óg from West Cork and Irish Bacon Jam (our Taste of the Week) from the Erne Larder. Very happy with that combination.
The Bacon Jam is basically a chutney, with the main ingredient being Irish dry cure bacon. It has a delicious flavour so use it sparingly, up to your self really but a little goes a long way!
Declan O’Donoghue, a former chef, is responsible for this excellent product and his serving tips include cheese. Also burgers, baked potatoes (“will never be te same again” he says), with cheese on toast, with ice cream, and in bacon sarnies with attitude. That’s enough to be going on with! Enjoy.
Erne Larder, 3 Lackaboy View, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A Trio of Excellent Wines from Mary Pawle

A Trio of Excellent Wines from Mary Pawle

Château Peybonhomme-Les-Tours “Energies” Blaye Côtes de Bordeaux (AOP) 2016, 13%, €30.00, Mary Pawle

This biodynamic wine from the right bank of the Gironde estuary (those of you who have holidayed in the Royan region may have seen booths selling Blaye wines in the local markets) is outstanding. It is a blend of 60% Merlot, 30% Malbec and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Dark ruby is the colour and there are fairly intense dark fruit aromas with a hint of minerality. It is fresh, light and dry to finish. Fresh and flavourful and packed with those dark fruits. Medium bodied, juicy and light, quite succulent indeed. Excellent acidity help with the food pairings. Tannins are smooth. Young, yet smooth beyond its years. This early maturity means it can be enjoyed now or postponed for up to ten years. No postponing here, Very Highly Recommended as it is.

Interestingly, having been wild yeast fermented in concrete with a week-long, post-ferment maceration on skins,  it is then then aged in Italian clay amphora for one year before being bottled unfiltered and with minimal use of SO2. The terracotta of the amphora has been credited with “assuaging” the power and giving the palate a nice amplitude. 

Day of bottling was determined by the biodynamic calendar. Day of drinking? Seventh of July 2019.

Amastuola “Vignatorta” Puglia (IGP) 2014, 14%, €15.50 Mary Pawle

This blend of Syrah (75%) and Primitivo comes from Puglia in the heel of Italy and is organic. Vignatorta goes perfectly with red meat, game such as venison or wild boar, but also with white meat of poultry, turkey and duck.

Colour is an intense ruby. The aromas are also rather intense, berries and cherries in the mix. Cherry flavours make for a fruity and juicy palate experience; spice is prominent there too. Good acidity is also in evidence while the tannins just about retain their grip. Fruit and spice again at the decent finish. Highly Recommended.

Amastuola “Lamarossa” Primitivo Puglia (IGT) 2015, 14.5%, €19.95 Mary Pawle

My attention wandered after opening this and I was pleasurably sipping away,  thoroughly enjoying it, when I realised that  I hadn’t taken a single note.

This is 100% Primitivo, the twin of California’s Zinfandel, and has the high alcohol content of its American relation. Like the Vignatorta (above), it is organic. In my humble opinion, it is more sophisticated and a better wine than the Vignatorta, a bit more expensive too of course. Ageing is 6 months in oak barrels, 6 months in cement.

Amastuola Lamarossa is a wine suitable for the whole meal, which goes perfectly with both white and red meats. Referred as “a veritable ode to the terroir of Taranto”, this Primitivo IGT has a deep, almost impenetrable ruby-red colour. 

Aromas are intense, featuring  berries and cherries. A very juicy palate, less spice than its stablemate, acidity enough along with quite subtle tannins and persistent finish. A pleasure to drink and Very Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Dining at Russborough House

Dining at Russborough House

We are on our way to dinner at Russborough House. It is one of the most sought after invitations and we are looking forward to the evening as we ease up the drive. The old Jaguar makes quite a sound on the gravel as the brakes are applied. Sir Alfred and Lady Beit are waiting for us in the great hall, genuinely delighted to see us.
Amazing stucco throughout, here on the main stairs

Soon, the other guests arrive and we are shown to the dining room with its Spanish carpet, paintings of the family and that magnificent fireplace with a bust of Bacchus (is that a red wine stain I see on his face?). We start off with a 1954 Hock Deidesheimer. 

Soon the conversation is buzzing. Not by accident, I might add. Our hosts are well-known for their shrewd and thoughtful organisation and have spent quite time on the seating arrangements. We dine in some comfort. Dishes include roast pheasant, game chips and braised chicory and the fish is poached salmon with extremely thinly cut cucumber, new potatoes and mint. We are fully at ease by the time Sir Alfred introduces us to his favourite Sauterne. Oh, by the way, cheese is served here instead of dessert.

It isn’t always fine cuisine here, not even for our hosts. I was told that when Sir Alfred dines on his own he might have bangers and mash, served in a silver salver of course!
Ready to dine?

Anyhow, at the end of the meal, the hospitality continued in fine style. We are offered luxury cigarettes from Turkey and Cuban Cohiba cigars, with port on the dining room table. Cognac too of course. All kinds of aromas, include fine perfumes, mix in that smoke-filled room.
More stucco. One of many chandeliers

Pollard is the long-serving butler to Sir Alfred and they work hand in hand on all kinds of arrangements for events in the house and estate. You can be sure that Pollard had been instructed as to the vintage of the wine and whether or not a tablecloth should be used. That level of detail plus Lady Beit’s organisational skills almost always ensures a perfect evening. And in the morning - we are staying for the night - we are informed that breakfast  (usually includes grapefruit segments) will be served in the dining room at 9.30am. 
Aesop's greedy dog about to lose his bone in the water

It is all routine here and the place works like clockwork, lunch at 1.00pm and afternoon tea at 5pm precisely. For the latter, and we’ve been there from time, you may enjoy Darjeeling tea plus a chocolate biscuit each. Fine china and silver thongs for the sugar bowl are always used. And don’t miss dinner, timed for 7pm precisely!
More Aesop: The Shepherd feeds an injured lion who will eventually spare the shepherd when they meet in the arena

The Beits have a staff of between 20 and 25, like an extended family, though there is no familiarity as the staff always address them as ‘Sir Alfred’ and ‘Her Ladyship’. They only recruit people who are both able and dedicated - from the gardeners who grow the fruit and vegetables to the maid who makes the butter.
Dinner was interrupted when Rose Dugdale came calling in April 1974

The staff here are always immaculately dressed, with maids in white pinafores. They see food and wine that is rarely seen in everyday life as their employer is a wine connoisseur with a liking for dessert wines and also Clarets such as Chateau Margaux.
Face from the colonnade

Fantasy dinner over and no Margaux for me, I’m afraid, on our recent visit to this fascinating house, so much to see and take in and our excellent guide Iris gave us a terrific tour. Most of the info about the habits of the Beits (and the previous families) are detailed in various exhibitions around the house and you can get some fascinating insights into the Beits (and their troubles with the IRA and gangsters), down below in the basement.

Oh, by the way, I didn’t get to see the kitchens here. Simply because they are still in use, serving up food for the house café. It is a very busy spot with a couple of adjoining dining rooms and some visitors take food out to enjoy in the open air and keep an eye on the kids who are well catered for here with various playing areas and walks through the parklands. We confined ourselves to a couple of pastries and coffee before hitting the road home to Cork.

Two timber floors, the one on the right from Russborough. On the left, is detail from a Benedictine monastery in Engelberg (Switzerland), the 3D effect achieved by the use of four different timbers. Something similar in Wicklow?

See also on this trip:
 Museum of Style Icons
Decorator to the Stars Designed Newbridge Silver Café
Dining at Russborough House
Wine, Dine & Golf at Tulfarris Hotel & Golf Resort

Russborough House
Historic house and parklands
Blessington, Co. Wicklow
See also: Museum of Style Icons

Monday, August 26, 2019

‘Decorator to the Stars’ Designed Newbridge Silver Café. Museum of Style Icons, Factory Visit, Shop!

‘Decorator to the Stars’ Designed Newbridge Silver Café. Lots More to see Here !
Museum of Style Icons, Factory Visit, Shop!

The café - pic via Newbridge website

Didn’t know I was going to lunch in a space designed by the “Decorator to the Stars” when I pulled off Exit 12 on the M7 on a recent Sunday, planning to visit the famous Newbridge Silverware facility. 
A vintage piece

After a two hour trip from Cork, the café was our first stop. It sure is a stylish one. Carleton Varney has designed the interiors of landmark buildings from Washington to Japan, and now the world-renowned interior designer has brought his iconic style to Newbridge Silverware.  The ‘Decorator to the Stars’, who is also known in the USA as ‘Mr. Colour’, was commissioned by Newbridge Silverware in 2017 to redesign its restaurant, which is now known as ‘Café Carleton’.

The big bright and airy café uses what seem to be the official colours, blue and white, and lots of silver too of course! With a big dinner ahead that evening, I settled for a wrap, a good one too and well priced. They have a huge selection here and the Sunday lunch was very popular. Staff were friendly and absolutely efficient; the place ran like clockwork but with no shortage of smiles. One of the best of its type around, I’d say.

The menu (breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea) changes regularly and a board shows a long list of Irish suppliers that they support.

Rose was our welcoming guide on the factory tour and she told us the history of the place as we walked around. Newbridge Cutlery Company was founded in 1934 and is one of Ireland’s oldest surviving companies. It started in a local army barracks and a large order from the army gave it a welcome boost in the early years. 

In the 90s, their cutlery wasn’t cutting it anymore and a decision to start making jewellery proved a wise one. Cutting edge design and acclaimed photo shoots with supermodels such as Sophie Dahl, Yasmin le Bon and Naomi Campbell, enhanced the company’s brand image. RTE newsreader Anne Doyle was one of the first local personalities to wear the jewellery. 

In 2007, the Museum of Style Icons was initiated and Newbridge is now associated with the world of celebrity and fashion. Still a lot of hard work here though, lots of manual stuff going on day after day and it still takes three years to train a cutler.

I won’t bore you with too much detail but terms such as Coining Machine, Linishing Machine, Cross Roller, Coining Machine were all new to me. Then there was Pronging, Vibration, and Clairpols. Hafting was another one, an old cutler’s term for joining a blade to a handle! Antique terms in a very modern company.

Yet a company that seems to inspire great loyalty in its workers, many of whom spend decades here. You’ll see lots of photos around the place of personalities who are nowadays associated with Newbridge but up there too you notice many pictures of valued employees and there’s a long list of workers named as you enter the building.

We saw the result of their hard work in the shop, including in the Christmas shop. Better not say anything about the latter - don’t want to spoil the surprise for anyone!

All in all, we enjoyed our few hours here even if we had been on our feet for most of it. Soon, we were putting them up at the Tulfarris Hotel and Golf Resort about 20 minutes away at the other side of the motorway. Read my post about the hotel here.
Display detail in the Christmas shop

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Museum of Style Icons at Newbridge Silverware

Museum of Style Icons at Newbridge Silverware

Come up and see me sometime

Take a tour through the Museum of Style Icons at Newbridge Silverware and you'll come out dripping with nostalgia (if you're a certain age of course). Then again, maybe age doesn’t matter that much as many of the visitors I saw were young and seemed to be well into the celebrities, the fashion and the music.
Olivia's shoe

Indeed, the music, or at least those who made it, is quite a large element of the very interesting display. You'll see the Beatles and Bob Dylan (hardly springs to mind as a fashion icon but do look at that jacket) among others but the largest space is reserved for the musical Grease. Indeed, that film was playing in one of the rooms as we walked around.

Olivia Newton-John's dancing shoes are displayed, with her autograph. And there is also a Paul McCartney autographed guitar.

Mostly though it is about the film stars and the clothes they wore on set and at receptions and parties while promoting the various films.  Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Tippi Hedren are all well featured.

Marilyn and her dress
And Lisa Minnelli’s costume from Cabaret is prominently displayed as is Elizabeth Taylor's ample kaftan from Boom. I certainly remember Cabaret but Boom not at all.

The exhibition ‘Fashion and Fantasy – a Lifetime Curation of Haute Couture’ contains a collection of one off or extremely rare designer pieces which date from the 1950’s to the 2000’s. Curated by international fashion collector, Gottlieb, it includes rare and one of a kind pieces by Chanel, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Lacroix, Givenchy, Balmain, and Hermes among many others.
Paul's left-handed Hofner bass

From time to time there are special exhibitions mounted. Keep an eye on their website for updates. By the way, the whole exhibition is free to enter. So, whether you’ve called in to do a bit of shopping or for a bite of lunch in the lovely café, do allow time to go up the red carpet and have a browse!

See also:
Decorator to the Stars Designed Newbridge Silver Café
Dining at Russborough House

Tulfarris Hotel & Golf
Dylan's fancy jacket

Friday, August 23, 2019

Amuse Bouche

We were greeted by a pleasant middle-aged lady who escorted us into a refectory….
There were some pitchers of iced tea on the table, hopefully to be turned into wine. Nice-looking young men and women, alight with the Holy Spirit, brought out platters of food. I’d expected loaves and fishes, but we got rice and beans, and poultry that had come second in a cockfight.

from The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille (2017). No Recommendation.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Bayview Lunch Brings Out The Sun!

Bayview Lunch Brings Out The Sun!

Red Mullet

Fancied some good fish last Friday so we headed off to Ballycotton’s marvellously situated Bayview Hotel, a hotel where head chef Ciaran Scully has an unrivalled reputation when its comes to fish. But, as we turned right at Shanagarry, we could see the fog straight ahead and it stayed with us, not quite blocking out the view of the pier as we parked but certainly most of the bay was out of sight.

But the mood and the weather improved as we tucked into our excellent lunch and, before the dessert, we were able to see right across the large bay to the Garryvoe Hotel, a “sister” of the Bayview. It turned out to be a lovely afternoon. Would have been a good one to take the cliff walk but, well, we were pretty full at that point so a stroll down to the shore was a much as we managed.

There’s an amazing menu here, packed with a huge choice of good things, not all from the sea. We were thinking of trying Roscoff Onion & Rebel Red Broth topped with Sourdough Croutes & Melted Hegarty’s Cheddar, just one of the soups on offer.  A Salad of Macroom Mozzarella, Leamlara Farm Leaves, Heritage Tomatoes, Basil Pesto, Balsamic, Sourdough also caught the eye.

Grilled Inch House Black pudding with Beetroot Ketchup, Young Buck Blue Cheese, Onion Mousse featured prominently in our short-list of starters. But our pick - we shared it - was the Pig’s Head Brawn Terrine, Plum and Pedro Jiménez Puree, Bayview Piccalilli. This was perfect, the tasty meat flavours improved no end by that purée and even more so by the selection of pickled vegetables. These guys know how to pimp your terrine! 

There were Steak, Duck leg, Lambs Liver on the mains. But fish of course is the specialty here and the Fish Board of Smoked Mackerel Pate, Dublin Bay Prawns, Little Darling Pickled Herrings, Ballycotton Smoked Salmon Salad & Sourdough Baguette beckoned but will have to wait for another visit!

They always have a selection of simply pan-fried fish here, served with side salad and chunky chips (really chunky!), usually priced around the €22.00 euro mark. We know the plaice around here is always top class so that was CL’s pick while I went for the Red Mullet. 

The plaice was perfection itself, no batter to take from its delicious flavour. And I can honestly say the same about the more “meaty” mullet, a fish you don’t see that often on local menus. Hopefully that will change as it really is a beauty.

The choices continue at the end. There’s an Irish Farmhouse Cheese selection, Ice-cream variations, plus Sorbets. The Bayview uses lots of Irish produce and Tipperary Farm Boulaban is their ice-cream supplier. And we finished off with the Bayview Affogato: Boulaban Vanilla Ice Cream drowned In Freshly Made Double Espresso Black Barrel Syrup. Nice!

The four-star Bayview has a cliff-top nest in Ballycotton, overlooking both the pier and bay, a great place to dine and stay.

Co. Cork

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

A Couple of Classics. To Charm the Palate if not the Wallet.

A Couple of Classics. 
To Charm the Palate if not the Wallet

Marques de Riscal Gran Reserva Rioja (DOC) 2011, 14.5%, €44.95 Bradley’s Cork

Colour is a dark ruby. Aromas are a rich mix of dark fruits (plums etc). Rich fruit too on the palate, no shortage of spice, polished tannins in play too, all adding t a pleasurable harmony from initial attack to the slow-fading notes of the long finish. Full bodied with a velvety power, this is one to savour, slowly. Very Highly Recommended.

Riscal, who up to the middle of the previous century were synonymous with Bordeaux style wines in Rioja, are a large company. Sometimes they are better known for their Frank Gehry designed hotel in the vineyard.

In some ways, the hotel has helped wine-lovers re-discover the Riscal wines, according to the “The Finest Wines of Spain”. And this Gran Reserva is one of their finest. Quantities are relatively small but “it has all the subtle appeal of delicate, traditional Gran Reserva aged in old American oak”.

By the way, the Gran Reserva wines age in a huge vault directly beneath the hotel’s lobby. Other wines of note from this producer include Proximo, and Baron de Chirel along with the 100% Tempranillo, the Frank Gehry Seleccion, named for the famous architect. 

Most Rioja reds will have spent some time in oak. Check out the various designations below:
The green label (cosecha) indicates less than one year in oak, less than one in bottle.
The red label (crianza) indicates 1 year in oak, 1 in bottle.
The burgundy (reserva) indicates 1 year in oak, 2 in bottle.
The royal blue (gran reserva) indicates 2 years in oak, three years in bottle.


Masi Costasera Amarone Classico (DOCG) 2013,  15%, about €39.95, Bradley’s Cork.

This is often referred to as Masi’s gentle giant, a benchmark for the Amarone category. It is indeed excellent and Very Highly Recommended.