Wednesday, September 18, 2019



Ireland’s Hotel, Restaurant, Chef, Hideaway and Pub of the Year announced at National Awards Ceremony
From Ireland’s best street, ethnic and seafood to the finest host and the most pet-friendly destination, winners of Georgina Campbell  Irish Food & Hospitality Awards 2020, in association with AIB announced
Representing the four corners of Ireland, the winners of the 2020 Georgina Campbell Irish Food & Hospitality Awards, in association with AIB, were announced on Sunday.
Celebrating 21 years in their current incarnation, the Georgina Campbell Awards recognise and honour Ireland’s standard-bearers in food and hospitality in Ireland with particular emphasis, this year, on the industry pioneers who put down quality markers a generation or more ago. For a full list of the winners and citations please click here 
Celebrating generations of standard-bearers
According to Georgina Campbell, one of Ireland’s foremost food and hospitality writers, Ireland’s success in food, tourism and hospitality is a very exciting and ever-developing story. “I have been thinking a lot about the legacy of the wonderful Myrtle Allen -  to whom the industry owes an enormous debt of gratitude and who we remember fondly at today’s event - and those of  her generation who have laid down the unshakable foundations of quality. Many of these great people are still active and working alongside their children and often their grandchildren, and they are the pioneers of the genuine hospitality, sustainable food sourcing and innovation that Ireland is gaining a reputation for today,” said Georgina Campbell.
“Equally we can marvel at the wave of talented, skilled and motivated young people who are laying down new foundations and safeguarding the future for the generations to come. It’s a challenging time to be in food and hospitality right now, but it’s also a very exciting time and, in the main, standards are increasing at every level from ground-breaking new restaurants to casual dining destinations, street food trucks, cafés and bars. So much so, in fact, that selecting the shortlists for these awards was an even more demanding task than usual.”
Georgina added, “This year, in tune with our special recognition of the pioneers in Irish food and hospitality, we have also been looking particularly at sustainable development, and especially when it takes place within a family business. The ability to recognise the need for change and act creatively and sustainably so that they can not just survive, but thrive, is what marks out many of our most successful multi-generational businesses - some of which have re-invented themselves several times in recent decades.”
for a full list of the winners and citations please click here 

Room for improvement
Whilst the awards are a celebration of our best hospitality and finest producers, Georgina Campbell did express a note of caution. “When carrying out our independent and anonymous assessments around the country, we have encountered disappointments once again, and particularly with some 4- and 5-star hotels, where there really should be no excuses. There is a worrying lack of a sense of hospitality in some cases and poor training - or indeed no apparent training at all - and it is baffling that there are still issues with standards at ‘top’ establishments every year.  Hotel prices are continuing to rise too, especially in the major cities and without any corresponding rise in standards, and it is disappointing to see us losing the competitive edge that was so hard won during the recession,” said Georgina.
Sourcing and provenance
Speaking at the awards, Georgina Campbell had praise for the improvements in sourcing policies, crediting Bord Bia’s Just Ask programme for the work it has done in this area. “Provenance is so important to consumers and establishments owe it to themselves, their suppliers and their customers to highlight the origin of the produce on the menu, thereby supporting Irish suppliers,” said Georgina.
The Awards were held in association with AIB for the first time and David McCarthy, Head of Hospitality & Tourism at AIB said: “Our message to hospitality businesses in a time of uncertainty with increased competitiveness, mounting cost pressures and slower revenue growth, is that it is now more important than ever for SMEs to focus on sustainability from a social, environmental and economic perspective.”
Amongst the many guests who attended the prestigious awards were Richard Corrigan, Darina Allen, Michael Deane, Niall McKenna and Andy McFadden, all of whom are widely recognised as leading lights in the promotion of Ireland’s thriving food and hospitality industries.
for a full list of the winners and citations please click here 
Press release

Ballymaloe House embraces excitement of Rugby World Cup with Sake Dinner

press release
Scrum-tious Sake
Ballymaloe House embraces excitement of Rugby World Cup as they present a Japanese dining experience that is not to be missed

As the excitement of the upcoming Rugby World Cup grips the country, Japan is the destination on everyone’s mind and the topic on everyone’s lips. To coincide with this momentous event, the award-winning Ballymaloe House have decided to bring a taste of Japan to their famous venue, with a dining experience that will see a carefully curated menu paired with five varieties of sake.

Taking place on Friday 11th October, the event will kick off at 6:30pm and will take guests on an educational and palatable journey through the process of sake production, from its origins in the paddy field to final presentation. Sake expert Honami, Head of Marketing for KEIGETSU, a range produced by the family owned Tosa brewery, will be on hand to guide guests through the entire taste experience as he introduces a selection of sake that varies from sparkling to cold to sweet. Ballymaloe House’s Head Chef Dervilla O’Flynn will create a tailored menu specifically suited to sake pairing, ensuring that the overall dining experience is enhanced and thoroughly enjoyed by those attending.

Created from rice through fermentation, sake is a Japanese wine, which has been brewed and manufactured by KEIGETSU since 1877. The company’s quality product is as a result of the brewers’ expertise combined with the clear waters and fresh air to be found in abundance within the Tosa-Cho region, where the brewery is based. The area is surrounded by a serene natural environment near the Sameura Lake and KEIGETSU sake is handmade in small batches using this high-quality, soft water from the locale. The creation of sake, from fermentation to production, will be explored by Honami during the upcoming event at Ballymaloe House, as he takes diners on a rare gastronomic journey they are unlikely to forget.

Tickets for the event cost 105 per person and advance booking is essential as places are limited. For more information on the event visit Tickets can be purchased by emailing or calling 021 4652 531.

Walking in Knockadoon

Walking in Knockadoon
Looking west towards Ballycotton. The tower is one of Ireland’s Napoleonic-era signal towers. There is a restored
tower near the Old Head of Kinsale. Walked here again on Wednesday 18th Sep 2019.
To get to Knockadoon and this lovely walk:
If coming from the east, via Youghal, follow the main Cork road. Turn left when you see the Ballymacoda sign and then turn left in Ballymacoda itself. If coming from Cork city, turn right when you see the Ballymacoda sign. There is an alternative when coming from the city. Turn right at the lights in Castlemartyr and then turn left in Ladysbridge - there is a sign there for Ballymacoda. Enjoy this fabulous walk in East Cork.
Still looking west. Ballycotton is in the distant haze.

The islands and lighthouse of Ballycotton


Looking east to Youghal, its lighthouse and the mouth of the Blackwater.

That old signal tower.

Bales of straw

The signal tower again

Bales of straw in the fields

Flowers have faded. Now it's all about survival. Get those seeds out there for 2020.

The sky here is often criss-crossed with jet trails. But Wednesday (18.09.2019) was so fine that the
vapour vanished quickly in the dry atmosphere; the trails didn't last long.

Nearing the end of the western part.

Sheep here (and below) graze above the cliffs

Capel Island, also below, is at the eastern side (where you start the walk)

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Taste of the Week. Crossogue's Clementine & Limoncello Marmalade

Taste of the Week
Clementine & Limoncello Marmalade
by Crossogue Preserves

Regular winners at the World Marmalade Awards, Tipperary’s Crossogue Preserves keep coming up with new combinations. I got the latest, a Clementine & Limoncello Marmalade from Margo Ann at the Roughty Fruity Stall in the English Market and it is now our Taste of the Week.

One of the other ingredients is Lemon so there is something of a tang there along with the sweetness of the Clementine (the fruit is not as bitter as some other oranges) and the Limoncello (made from the zest rather than the more bitter fruit). Indeed, the marmalade seems to carry an almost Asian sweet and sour touch and Margo Ann suggests it may be handy around Christmas time.

I’m not waiting until then. Nor should you. Lather it over a slice of fresh sourdough and enjoy the current Taste of the Week! And don't forget all those other award winning marmalades from Crossogue!

Crossogue House
Co. Tipperary
Tel: 00 353 (0)504 54416

Monday, September 16, 2019

Kinsale's Bulman Buzzing on Misty Autumn Night

Kinsale's Bulman Buzzing
 on Misty Autumn Night

The mist had started before we set off for The Bulman in Kinsale. But when it comes to going for a walk - this from Perryville up to the Bulman - we need little encouragement to err on the silly side and that was forthcoming from our host. So off we went, on the scenic Scilly Walk. It is indeed an interesting walk with views to the harbour and the bay. And the trees sheltered us from the increasingly thick mist and we were quite dry when we entered the Bulman.

What a surprise to find the bar full (diners mostly) on this miserable Tuesday evening. We picked our way through and made our way upstairs to Toddie's, the restaurant, and that too was packed. Just as well we had booked. Soon we were seated amidst the groups, both large and small, and we went on to enjoy the buzz, the food and the drink (they have their own beer here, brewed by the nearby accomplished Black's Brewery). At the end, we asked for a cab but a lady who had served us earlier offered to drive us down - we didn't know then that she is one of the owners. Nice touch, especially after her 12 hour shift!

A few years back, I was introducing a Swedish journalist to the Kinsale area and, after visiting nearby Charlesfort, Pelle and I ended up at the Bulman for lunch. He loved the local Stonewell cider and was very impressed with the place and the food. On this occasion, it was our turn to be impressed and we have no hesitation in giving it the blog's Very Highly Recommended tag.

Oysters in the Bulman have a little section of their own on the menu. They all come from Jamie at the local Haven Shellfish. You may have them hot or cold or as Bloody Mary Shots  The cold Rock Oysters come with either Teriyaki  or a Shallot Vinaigrette.  You may have the hot with Courgette, Lime & Parmesan or, as I had above, with Leek & Gruyere. Perhaps the best hot oyster dish I've ever had.
Starters here are high on quality and are not short on quantity either.
This Irish Prawn and Avocado Salad with Marie Rose sauce and mixed leaves
is a great example, the dish loaded with the flavour-packed small local prawns. 
The Bulman's flowers enjoying the natural sprinkle.
The Hake (below) was one of the nightly specials and so was this Pan seared fillet of organic salmon, with Wasabi
mashed potatoes, broccoli and teriyaki sauce. Another winner, even if the wasabi potato wasn't finished! But they do have other side dishes, so just ask if you think you won't like an element of a dish on the menu.

The Bulman, as you might expect, are strong on fish, most from Kinsale
boats. This Oven Roasted Fillet of Hake, Ratatouille, baby new potatoes,
and broccoli, was excellent, the fish and the Ratatouille a
delicious moist combination. So good. Clean plate!  
Just one dessert but two spoons and our server diplomatically placed it in "neutral"territory!
But what a dessert! Fresh Strawberry Tartlet with Strawberry Ice Cream. Oh la la!
The Bulman
Co. Cork

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Clonakilty Blackpudding’s Sparkling New Home

Colette Twomey
Clonakilty Blackpudding’s Sparkling New Home

When the newly married Edward and Colette Twomey took over a Clonakilty butcher shop in the late 70s, blackpudding was not really one of the attractions for them. But the deal did include a secret spice recipe and the Twomeys soon realised that the pudding was very popular with their customers and quite a few of them were sending it to relatives abroad. The couple were wise enough not to ignore the market and the rest is history.

All this came back during A Taste of West Cork event in the company’s impressive new facility in their home town. The two of us and a few dozen other paying guests were given a tour of the new visitor centre before being treated to a series of blackpudding based dishes by top chef Peter Clifford.
Chef Peter Clifford

Why Peter Clifford? Well Peter’s father, Michael, was one of Ireland’s most famous chefs, holder of a Michelin star, and an early and influential supporter of the Clonakilty product. Both Peter and Colette acknowledge that his signature dish of black pudding elevated the humble breakfast staple to being acclaimed as an excellent starter. 
The new Veggie pudding in a salad with Serrano, pomegranate, and sherry dressing.

Tragically, Michael died at the age of 54 when Peter was in his mid-teens. Tragedy too for the Twomeys when Edward passed in 2005; at least he had seen and enjoyed the success, a success that would be driven even further by his widow, the only holder of that secret spice mix recipe.
Colette (left), Peter and Deirdre Clifford, with picture of the late Michael.
Pic courtesy of A Taste of West Cork.

The digitised butcher ready to chat
There is even a spice mixer on display in the inter-active visitor centre, which is not quite completed at present but getting very close indeed. And here too you may find out about Johanna O’Brien, the 19th century compiler of that magic mix! It was passed down through generations of the butcher shop owners. The original butchers were Harringtons and so the recipe was named after them.

You will also meet the digitised versions too of the butcher and the grocer and hear employees talk of their experiences with the firm. By the way, that Twomey’s shop on main street is still going strong and well worth a visit and while you’re there be sure and check out the other company products such as rashers and sausages.

Colette, chief executive and co-founder of the host company, told us that Michael Clifford grew up in Clon. “He had a great passion for food and saw the potential in the black pudding and passed that on to us.” Peter's family, including Michael’s widow Deirdre, were at the event and Colette presented them with a framed portrait of Michael.
The new Veggie Pudding, now in the shops

Peter too enjoys cooking the black pudding and went on to demonstrate five dishes including the Gateau of Clonakilty Blackpudding, his father’s special. Other dishes, and we got generous tastings of the five, included Celeriac and Pear Soup with Blackpudding, A Clonakilty Veggie Pudding salad with Serrano Ham, pomegranates and sherry (PX no less!) dressing, Clonakilty Whitepudding with a stew of wild rice, pearl barley and wild mushrooms and also a Clonakilty Blackpudding on toast with butter beans and apple.
More on Peter here 

Western Road
Co. Cork

That Veggie Pudding may surprise you as you may not have heard of it.  It was launched just the previous Monday (September 8th). Peter gave it quite an endorsement and said he loved the spice element in it. It may be used in much the same way as the others, certainly substituted for the whitepudding. No shortage of recipes on the website, for breakfast, lunch, dinner and parties. Please click here

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Amuse Bouche

The head, skin and feet of this beast (lamb) had already been removed and the first job was to deal with the innards. Hooks, a saw and a cleaver. The equipment was clean and standing by. Whether she was doing pastry or finding a lamb’s pelvic bone, or counting off the ribs with her eyes closed, Ségo operated by touch - it always seemed as if she could work blindfolded had it been required.
And when she sawed through the top of the spine, this was a thrill. Sometimes I was allowed to remove the neck but usually I wasn't allowed to do anything more than scrape the membrane from the ribs.

from One Star Awake by Andrew Meehan (2017). Recommended.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

An Australian Selection. Six of the Best.

Liberty Wines. An Australian Selection

Giant Steps Yarra Valley LDR 2017, 13%, Ely Wine Store Maynooth,
LDR? It means light dry red.

Mid ruby is the colour of this LDR. LDR? It means light dry red. This one’s a blend of Pinot Noir and Syrah (more or less fifty fifty) and is “an exciting new addition to the Yarra Valley range from 2017”. If you like  Beaujolais you’ll love this, I was told, and I’m happy to confirm. Not an exact replica of the French wine - that was hardly ever the objective - but in terms of lightness, juiciness and structure, they could well be cousins.

Red berries feature in the aromas, a touch of pepper too. Sweet ripe fruit and that pepper again on the palate, juicy and lively, with subtle tannins and a long finish, excellent structure for such a light wine. An easy quaffer, fresh and aromatic, and light of course. Just the job for the rest of the Indian summer. Very Highly Recommended.

The blend is not new in Australia and was, decades ago, prominent in the Hunter Valley. It faded but has in recent years made a comeback in the Hunter and is now on the rise in the Yarra and in other Australian regions also from Tasmania to the Clare Valley. You’ll even find one in the Yellow Tail collection. More on the blend here by Max Allen.

These wines are produced, under Chief Winemaker Steve Flamsteed, with wild ferments, gravity-flow winemaking techniques, and minimal fining and filtration. This approach produces highly expressive wines, true to the regional characteristics of the Yarra Valley. The Giant Steps Yarra Valley range also includes Chardonnay, Rosé, Pinot Noir, and Syrah.

Cullen Wilyabrup Margaret River “Amber” 2017, 12.3%, Baggot Street Wines, €39.99
Sauvignon Blanc like never before. 

Looking at the orange colour, you expect it to be sweet. But it’s the exact opposite.  This is the kind of wine we’ve come to expect from the likes of Pheasant’s Tears from Georgia (Italy too, eg La Stoppa’s Ageno) but this comes from Western Australia and, yes, they have used amphora, stainless steel and oak too though.

They being the Cullens whose winery in Wilyabrup was one of the first in Margaret River when it started in 1971. It has always been a pioneer, especially on its journey to being verified biodynamic (2004) and also to being Carbon Neutral (2006).

The general idea behind orange wines is to make a white wine like a red, fermented on the skins. It is complex, with lemon, kumquat, orange blossom and hints of honey. Textured and concentrated on the palate with great length and persistence, with a gentle saltiness at the finish.

And so it is. Like the name says, it is amber, more or less, in colour. Aromas with strong citrusy elements and the light scent of honey. Complex and concentrated fruit on the palate and then that long finish. Did I get a touch of grass there? Maybe I did, but this is Sauvignon Blanc like never before. 

Cullens reckon it will pair well with a wide variety of food; we were thinking here that it could be great with scallops. Wouldn’t it be interesting to try those scallops with this and a regular Sauvignon Blanc at the same time!

For all the intense colour and complex aromas and hints of honey, this rich and elegant wine is definitely dry with something close to a tannic finish (you notice it as your lips dry!).Very Highly Recommended and a must try. There will be more of these coming down the line.

Cullens tell us that the grapes were left on skins and fermented partially before being pressed. The length of skin contact with the must ranged from two days to one month depending on the grape/parcel. The fruit was fermented in different vessels: open-top fermentation tanks, closed tanks as well as amphora which explains the many layers and complexity in this wine. 79% of the wine spent four months in new Tonnellerie Bordelaise and Louis Latour oak barrels.

“Winemaking is now in the hands of Vanya Cullen, daughter of the founders; she is possessed of an extraordinarily good palate. It is impossible to single out any particular wine from the top echelon; all are superb.” – James Halliday

Willunga 100 Grenache Rosé McLaren Vale 2018, 14%, Baggot Street Wine, Grapevine, Jus de Vine,, JJ O’Driscolls €18.99

The winery tells us fruit (100% Grenache) for this McLaren Vale rosé is sourced from 60-year old bush vines, which gives the wine “beautiful concentration and its classic strawberry and red cherry aromas”. Not too many rosés have that kind of provenance and, according to Wine Atlas of Australia, “the region makes the best Grenache in Australia”. Indeed, the focus in the Willunga 100 vineyard is very much on Grenache.

Peachy pink is the colour (agreed, eventually). Delicate aromatics, reminiscent of a cut cantaloupe melon rather than the expected strawberry and cherry. But there are certainly strawberry flavours on the fresh and lovely palate, quite a viscous mouthfeel as well. All in all a gorgeous and fairly dry drop all the way through to the fresh finish. You’ll find it hard to better this one. Highly Recommended.

Willunga 100 Grenache McLaren Vale 2016, 14.5%, Willunga 100 Grenache McLaren Vale 2016
Ely Wine Bar, Fallon & Byrne Wine Cellar Retail Wine, Jus de Vine, O Briens Wine Off Licence, Finian Sweeney,, JJO’Driscolls €18.99
Grenache from "a fantastic year"

2016 is considered to be a fantastic year for McLaren Vale, especially for Grenache. Again the fruit for this one comes from old bush vines. It is indeed an excellent wine, succulent and complex, and Very Highly Recommended

Mid ruby is the colour. Aromas of rich and ripe red and darker fruit. And the palate too is rich, warm and somewhat spicy. Fresh and supple; silky tannins play a role, as the hot summer and the influence of the oak combine in a pleasant and lingering finish. Willunga 100 may not have made it onto the pages of Wine Atlas of Australia but it gets its own page in my book. Chalk it down.

The wine was matured using a combination of older French oak barrel and steel tanks to preserve the purity of fruit, while adding complexity and mid-palate richness. Following maturation, the wine is blended and bottled under screw-cap to maintain freshness and ensure longevity.

Plantagenet  Three Lions Chardonnay Great Southern (Western Australia) 2017, 13.2%,  
64 Wine,, Cinnamon Cottage, €20.99
Cool nights. Cool Wine!

A combination of winemaking techniques* and the effects of the cooling night time breeze from the southern ocean climate results in a Chardonnay that is complex and yet fruit driven with an acidity that delivers great persistence and a hint of minerality. You read that on the label. 

The vineyard, in Mount Barker (a sub region of the Great Southern you see on the label), is a few hours east of the better known Margaret River and is particularly noted for its Riesling.

Colour of this unoaked Chardonnay is light yellow with green tints. Peach and blossom in the pleasant delicate aromas. A surprisingly strong attack, fruit-driven (lime, lemon), with cool and lively acidity in tandem; finish is lip-smacking and persistent. 

Plantagenet - the winery is named after a shire established by early English settlers - is now a self-sufficient winery. All their wines are now being made from estate fruit and this label showcases this fruit. As well as this Highly Recommended Chardonnay, you'll find Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Cabernet/Merlot. 

Mount Horrocks Cordon Cut Riesling Clare Valley 2018, 11.5%, The Corkscrew (previous vintage)
James Redmond & Sons,, €29.99
Sweet. And Special from Stephanie.

This intensely sweet wine is one of the best. Yet one may well ask what the hell is Cordon Cut! Here’s the answer, from the source: The underlying principle of this special wine is that the canes are completely severed and the bunches of grapes are left hanging on the vine. This causes them to shrivel like raisins, naturally concentrating the flavour.

Pour it from its neat very slim half-bottle and you’ll note it is pale to mid gold in the glass. Floral and citrus (lemon, lime) in the aromas, quite intense. On the palate, it is exquisite, clean and precise, definitely sweet (Cordon Cut also concentrates the sugars) though not of the sticky cloying type, lots of sweet fruit juice at play though, yet beautifully harmonious with a persistent and pleasing finish, particularly on a disappointing showery August Bank Holiday evening. 

A dessert wine but you won’t really need one with this. Produced from single-vineyard low-yielding Riesling vines, this is Very Highly Recommended.

Sourced entirely from her organic Watervale vineyard, this is Stephanie Toole’s 26th vintage of this outstanding dessert wine. This, from an an outstanding vintage, is one of the great Australian wines. By the way, Mount Horrocks are also noted for their Semillon, Shiraz, Cabernet Merlot and Riesling, all first-class wines according to Wine Atlas.

Kampai! The Twelve hosts exclusive sake dinner!


Kampai! The Twelve hosts exclusive sake dinner 
on Thursday October 10th as part of TwelveFest 

Sake, the uniquely enigmatic and versatile Japanese fermented rice drink, is at the heart of an exciting dinner created by chef Martin O’Donnell at The Twelve’s West restaurant on Thursday October 10th, celebrating TwelveFest and #12is12 as part of the hotel’s birthday year celebrations.

Hosted by Honami Matsumoto on behalf of Keigetsu by Tosa Brewing Company in Japan, Honami will share some of her expertise and tell a little of the fascinating story behind the five distinctly different and delicious sakes being served on the night, with each variety paired with one of Martin’s specially created dishes.

A Kikisakeshi-qualified sake sommelier, WSET-certified educator for Sake Level 3, and an International Wine Challenge(IWC) Panel Judge in the sake category, Honami has been working with sake and wine for over 15 years, and will introduce and describe each of the five Keigetsu sakes on Thursday October 10th in West.

Producing a remarkably diverse range of sakes for the past 142 years since it was founded in 1877, the family-owned Tosa brewery that makes Keigetsu sake is set in a particularly beautiful, mountainous region in the northern Kochi prefecture. Not dissimilar to the clean environment and high-quality ingredients chef Martin O’Donnell and his suppliers have to work with in Connemara, Tosa brewery uses locally-grown organic rice from a region prized for its soft water and cool climate. The name of the sake range, Keigetsu, is a Japanese term which describes the beautiful evening scene created when the moon hangs over Katsurahama shore — just like the moonrise over Claddagh!

Thursday October 10th sees the Keigetsu sakes from Tosa brewery paired with five courses of Martin O’Donnell’s exquisite food, where he takes exceptional local ingredients and creates Japanese-inspired dishes to enhance and complement the flavours of each sake.

With an amuse bouche of chawanmushi (Japanese egg custard) with calamari, oyster crackers, dill and caviar paired with Keigetsu Sparkling Sake John, next is a course of Galway mackerel with gyoza, dashi and tempura seaweeds served with Keigetsu Tokubetsu Junmai A. To follow there is a course of oxtail with morels, fermented black garlic and smoked beef jus paired with Keigetsu Junmai Daiginjo Gin-no-Yume 45, then Thornhill duck with beetroot and spices matched by Keigetsu Sake Nature. Finally, the dessert of lemon yuzu espuma, blackberry, lemon cream and Velvet Cloud yoghurt is served with Keigetsu Yuzusake, a sake made using locally grown yuzu. Kochi prefecture produces around half of Japan’s yuzu, and the yuzu used to make this sake is grown organically by the brewery owner’s relatives.

The Twelve sake dinner in West on Thursday October 10th is an opportunity to learn about this amazingly versatile pairing choice in the very best way — by drinking great sake with great food. It begins with an introduction at 7.30pm followed by dinner at 8pm and costs €70 per person. A true taste of Japan in Connemara, as per Japanese custom, always pour for your dining companions before filling your own glass. Sláinte — Kampai!

Menu and Wines €70 per person
P: 091 597000

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A Hat-trick of Whiskeys from the new Powerscourt Distillery

A Hat-trick of Whiskeys from the new Powerscourt Distillery

Powerscourt Distillery recently celebrated its first anniversary as a fully operating whiskey distillery with the opening of its visitor centre in the Old Mill House on Powerscourt Estate.  Master Distiller Noel Sweeney is a globally recognised expert who has already been credited for the release of many international award-winning whiskeys and was inducted into Whisky Magazine’s celebrated ‘Hall of Fame’ in 2017.  

I hope to visit Powerscourt in the near future but in the meantime I enjoyed the three whiskeys that make up the Fercullen Trilogy Set. The name comes from ‘FeraCulann’ or ‘Fercullen’, the Gaelic name given to the ancient and strategically important lands that surround and encompass Powerscourt Estate.

Like many young distilleries, Powerscourt are sourcing malt and grain from existing distilleries including Cooley Distillery. Here Noel Sweeney represents an unusual and valuable continuation as it was he who distilled this original liquid when he was Master Distiller in Cooley!

Fercullen Premium Blend Irish Whiskey, 40% abv, €44.00

A blend of carefully selected casks of aged malt and grain whiskeys, Fercullen Premium Blend Irish Whiskey, is aged in seasoned oak. Mid-gold in the glass, legs slow to clear as you’d expect. Surprisingly rich aromas, sweet too with vanilla notes. Quite smooth on the palate, quite a depth of flavour, a touch of toast, spice and sweetness too. Sweet finish too with those tropical fruits. Very promising indeed for their entry level drop. Then again distiller Noel Sweeney is far from entry level!

Fercullen 10 Year Old Single Grain Irish Whiskey, 40% abv, €57.50

Carefully selected from rare stocks of aged Irish Whiskey, the Fercullen 10-year-old Single Grain Irish Whiskey has been aged exclusively in white oak for over a decade before being recasked to mature in fresh bourbon barrels.  A bit more gold in the colour here, plus the slow legs of course. Vanilla, honey and spice in the sweet aromas, more rounded, if slightly less intense, than the blend. Beautifully smooth and balanced on the palate; harmonious combinations all the way, nothing jars at all, no extremes, easy sipping to a long and lovely finale.
Fercullen 14-Year-Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey, 46%,  €92.95

Carefully selected from rare stocks of aged Irish whiskey, Fercullen 14-Year-Old Single Malt has been expertly distilled and set aside to mature in bourbon barrels by one of Ireland’s most accomplished Master Distillers Noel Sweeney. It is matured in Bourbon barrels. The darkest of the three. Also the strongest of the three, so slow slow legs. Aromas are quite mature and intense: vanilla, honey, fruit, herb and spice. So smooth, so harmonious on the palate, sweet and silky and fresh from start to finish. Gather up this Single Malt. Keep one for every one you drink now! 

Sligo Food Trail launches sizzling Taste The Island calendar

press release
Sligo Food Trail launches sizzling Taste The Island calendar
Pictured at the launch of Sligo Food Trail’s calendar for Taste The Island were (l-r)
Back: Hans & Gaby Wieland, Chef Marc Gallagher, Niall Tracey (Director of Marketing, Fáilte Ireland), Carolanne Rushe, Chef Joe McGlynn, Neil Byrne
Front: Anthony Gray, Prannie Rhatigan, Cllr. Marie Casserly (Chair Sligo Food Trail), Coeurine Murray, John Neary (Wild Atlantic Way, Fáilte Ireland)

Sligo Food Trail officially launched a compelling autumn calendar packed with Taste The Island events at Sligo Oyster Experience on Tuesday 10th September 2019. The new Fáilte Ireland Taste The Island programme, celebrating Ireland’s seasonal ingredients, adventurous tastes and bold experiences, dovetails perfectly with Sligo Food Trail experiences. Network members have produced some really creative and attractive food-related events, with the Sligo Food Trail Harvest Feast on Friday 18th October as the showcase event.

Speaking at the launch, Niall Tracey, Director of Marketing with Fáilte Ireland, said “Initially Taste The Island is targeting places easily reached by the visitor. In year 1 the focus is on domestic visitors from places like Donegal, Dublin or Longford. The second year will target international destinations with direct access from Knock.” He spoke about the Sligo specific promotion, saying, “There are two Sligo specific promotions this year – at the end of August and the end of September. This includes five half page ads in national papers as well as social media and radio campaigns”.

The full Taste The Island programme includes more than 700 food and drink-related events and experiences across the country. Taste the Island Sligo style is an eclectic combination tasting, trying, making and learning including sushi and seaweed, a tapas trail, food tours, farm to fork, fermented foods and Japanese Kaiseki. It comprehensively covers all five pillars designated by Fáilte Ireland: Taste of Place, Meet the Maker, Make it Yourself, Trails and Networks Festivals and Events

Marie Casserly, Chair of Sligo Food Trail spoke about Sligo Food Trail’s Taste The Island events, saying, “Sligo Food Trail is proud to spearhead Taste the Island programme in Sligo. During the 12 week Taste The Island campaign this year Sligo Food Trails has created 30 events. Collaboration is key for all these experiences. We have the people, the passion and the produce to make Sligo a leading food destination”.

Meet the Maker video seriesSligo Food Trail premiered the first of their Meet the Maker video series on the launch night and network member Couerine Murray of food producer Murson Farm introduced it to the audience. The inaugural video features Carrow Coffee Roasters from Beltra. Husband and wife team Andrew and Paola Willis were inspired by a four year stint in Colombia to launch their own coffee roasting business.

Full details of all the Sligo Food Trail events for Taste The Island are available on the website