Thursday, October 31, 2019

Kay Harte and The Farmgate Café's Early Years. Twenty Five Years in the English Market.

Kay Harte and The Farmgate Café's Early Years
Twenty Five Years in the English Market.
The Farmgate above the English Market, its Restaurant on the far right, the Balcony on the left.

The 16 year old is sitting with her mother in a room overlooking the Front Strand in Youghal in the mid 1960s. It is the house of her mother’s friend and the table is set for dinner. The teenager remembers the table setting, especially those flowers floating in a bowl.

The meat was boiled leg of mutton and the teenager was given a bit of the nap of mutton as a treat. “I never forgot that meal,” she told me recently. “It was my first time at an adult meal and it was absolutely divine."
The younger generation at The Farmgate with Rebecca Harte (3rd left at rear).

Kay Harte at ease.
That 16 year old was Kay Harte and we were speaking in her café, The Farmgate, celebrating 25 years in the English Market. When I had asked her what had been her best meal ever, I had prefaced it by saying it would be a hard one to answer. “Not at all,’ was the immediate reply. It was memorable indeed. “That was my first realisation that plain simple Irish food can be so sophisticated."

Soon afterwards she got her first cookery book, by Robert Carrier. “I still have it, still use it, I have to very careful handling it now. He was particularly good at Italian dishes and my first Spaghetti Bolognese was his.” I asked Kay what her favourite non-Irish cuisine was. Well, she likes Middle Eastern and Spanish but especially Basque.

Let us fast forward now to 1994, the year  a nervous Kay opened the Farmgate. Though she had worked, “on and off” with sister Marog, who had started the still strong Farmgate in Midleton ten years earlier, she had never run a business. There was competition too. Famous chef Michael Clifford was trading very successfully in his café across the street!
President Michael Higgins at the Wall of Poetry in the Farmgate when his poem Stardust was added in 2018. Kay has long believed that our food is part of our culture and the Hartes have supported the arts here from day one.

Besides, the English Market wasn’t exactly at its best then. Marog though was having none of it. “You’ll have no problem. The market is your larder.” They brought the Midleton Farmgate brand and ethos with them. “The focus was very much on what was available in the market downstairs, a focus that we’ve maintained ever since. There’s been great loyalty, on both sides.” Kay's daughter Rebecca is now the manager here. While Marog was quite the driving force, another sister, Claire O’Brien, was also very much involved and indeed worked with Kay for ten years. Many of you will have met and continue to meet Claire at Farmers Markets in recent years, selling cakes, tarts and loaves in her own stall under her Gan Gluten label.
The Farmgate ensured a strong spotlight was directed towards the often forgotten efforts of our Women of the South when the revolution was commemorated in 2016.

The Farmgate, as it turned out, was opening at a good moment, as some very interesting people were already there and more were coming onboard regularly and they started a momentum that has gathered pace and respect over the decades.

Toby Simmonds was there, Mary Rose too and also Iago. Isabelle Sheridan had started, working first with Anne Marie and Martin (who were making an organic French cheese out in Reenascreena) and then Isabelle, with a stall down by the Princes Street entrance, started introducing her French terrines, charcuterie and more. Hederman’s Smoked Fish arrived too and Sheila Fitzpatrick opened her ABC (Alternative Bread Company) stall shortly after Kay's arrival.
Majella Cullagh raises the market rafters from the Farmgate 

And they were all very helpful. Mary Rose Daly “was the go-to person, always helpful, no hesitation.” All the camaraderie was “a huge encouragement”. Kay also remembers that Kay O’Connell (the fishmonger and mother of Pat) was always ready with advice. And she also remembers Paul Murphy of Coughlan's Butchers as being exceptionally helpful. “He was the Ard Saoi of the market, a rock of common sense. He always listened and then invariably came up with the solution.”

She remembers too the sisters Siobhan and Eileen, each a stallholder. “They regularly came up for a cuppa and were incredibly supportive, pure Cork characters.” Declan Ryan (Arbutus Restaurant) was another who came up with great advice, “especially on cooking tripe”. 
Many famous people from the world of food have visited The Farmgate, including Claudia Roden (4th left)

Sometimes, bureaucrats get the thumbs down from business people but Kay recalls that they got fantastic support from City Hall, support that was essential in opening the new enterprise. So with all that support, the Cork Farmgate began to find its feet. “It was still a daunting task, especially the fit out." Furniture came from Eric Pearce, art via painters Tom Climent and Billy Foley and sculpture from Michael Quane. Finding its feet, establishing its character, starting out as she meant to go, food and culture in the melange.
Beara's Leanne O'Sullivan's poem on the Great Wall

It wasn’t all plain sailing of course. “There was that famous Christmas Eve,” Kay recalls. “Big queues, customers lined down the stairs. Then the power went - no lights in the kitchen.  I managed to stay calm, we got through it, but it was afterwards it hit me!”.

One bit of advice to restaurant owners. Take more heed of your customers than the food critics. Don’t be worried about the food writers. They don’t run cafés or restaurants, often more interested in what is currently in fashion. But your customers are in regularly, whether it’s just for tea and toast or a big lunch when the occasion demands. Look after them because they vote with their feet.

And that was underlined during our talk when Kay excused herself to walk a recently widowed elderly customer down the stairs and have a few words together on the way. You can have presidents (the Farmgate has fed a string of them) but Kay believes the regular customer is the real royalty here. And she practices what she preaches.
Kay and I at the meeting with US bloggers, New York's Amy Cao and San Fran's Chris Connolly (who took the photo). 
All other pictures from the Farmgate collection.

Eight years ago, Kay and I sat down at very short notice with two visiting US bloggers. Kay ordered samples of everything on the menu and told us all about each part of the dish as she shared it out. I don't think the Americans had ever seen any restaurant owner as informative (she explained our "great balls of flour") and as passionate about food and where it came from. All through the encounter, Kay emphasised the importance of local provenance. I'll say it again, Kay practises what she preaches, and it has stood the Farmgate well over the last 25 years.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Gallina de Piel. Best of Design and Wine!

Gallina de Piel

The first thing that caught my attention when I got these two bottles were the labels and their amazing designs. Then again, I shouldn’t be too surprised because some of the best label designs I’ve seen in recent years have come from Catalonia.

Gallina de Piel is an exciting winemaking project from the former head-sommelier at El Bulli. David Seijas worked at Catalonia’s famous three-Michelin-starred restaurant for 11 years until it closed in 2011.

Along with Ferran Centelles (another El Bulli alumnus), this highly acclaimed Spanish duo’s aim is to create versatile wines from Spain’s gastronomic northern regions: Catalonia, Aragon and Galicia. They work with local growers, selecting the best vineyards and indigenous grape varieties.

The vineyards are located in the Penedès denomination at an altitude of between 750 and 1,000 metres above sea level on deep clay soil with pebbles on the surface. The vines are aged between 35 to 80 years old and trained on the double Guyot system.
Lithograph for the Mimetic label

Gallina de Piel Mimetic Calatayud (DO) 2018, 14.5%, €20.99
Baggot Street Wines; Blackrock Cellar; McHugh’s Off Licence - Kilbarrack Rd; McHugh’s Off Licence - Malahide Road; Drink Store Ltd; Bradley's, North Main St., Cork;

This first one, the first of the two that I tasted, certainly lives up to its billing. It’s a bright juicy Garnacha (98%) with an engaging freshness. Colour is a mid to a dark ruby. Dark fruits with a touch of herb (marjoram), feature in the aromas. First thing I noticed on the palate is the balance, no extremes in this graph, and that perfect harmony continues between the delicious fruit flavour and acidity. A touch of spice adds interest through to the lengthy finish. Elegant and fresh, this is Very Highly Recommended.

Vinification: Fermentation took place in concrete tanks using natural yeasts for three weeks. The wine then underwent full malolactic fermentation and spent six months ageing on fine lees in concrete tanks with periodic bâtonnage.

Gallina de Piel, `Ikigall` Penedès (DO) 2018, 11.5%, €20.99

Blackrock Cellar; Baggot Street Wines; McHugh’s Off Licence - Kilbarrack Rd; Bradley's, North Main St., Cork

Mid straw is the colour. Fragrant for sure, floral and citrus (lime). Immediately you note that tingly feel at the tip of your tongue, a feel that soon spreads, right through to crisp finish. Citrus flavours are subtly influential in this fresh and rather elegant white. Highly Recommended.

Xarel-lo is a light-skinned grape from Catalonia, northeastern Spain, and is one of the region's most widely planted varieties. It is perhaps best known for its role in sparkling Cava. The other grapes included here are Malvasia (10%) and Muscat of Alexandria (5%).

The 2018 vintage didn’t enjoy ideal weather but it all came good towards the end. The grapes underwent cold maceration for five hours before fermentation took place in stainless-steel tanks at a controlled temperature of 15°C. The wine then spent four months ageing on fine lees before filtration and bottling.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Taste of the Week. Jameson Crested Whiskey

Taste of the Week
Jameson Crested Whiskey

Have long been a fan of Jameson Crested (known as Crested Ten up to quite recently). This blend has quite a bit of pot still in there, certainly more pot still than grain, and extra use of sherry casks gives it more fruit and spice on the nose, more body and flavour on the palate, and it all adds up to our current Taste of the Week.

The sherry is not overdone. There is a delicious harmony here (ideal for sipping) from start to finish where the warm sherry lingers. An excellent under-rated whiskey and widely available. Well priced too at under 40 euro. 

Jameson Crested is a tribute to the first drops bottled at The Bow Street Distillery and it is Jameson's oldest distillery bottled brand. According to the distillery: “Back in the day it was common practice to sell Irish whiskey to bonders by the cask. Then, it was left up to them to bottle it. Believe it or not, it was in 1963, after some greedy bonders started to water down the whiskey to fill up their pockets, that Jameson took over full control of the process, from grain to glass.” 

Read all about it here and get a few cocktail recipes as well.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Nash 19 Champions Local Producers. The Customer Wins

Nash 19 Champions Local Producers.
The Customer Wins
Superb pork, crowned with crackling

Quite a few new restaurants, all types, sizes, styles, in Cork these days, some of them grabbing the attention. But a experienced and still enthusiastic troop of the old reliables can teach these new kids on the block a thing or two. Take Nash 19 for instance, established in 1992 and now a treasure of good food and good cooking right in the heart of the city: seasonal, local, consistent and so welcoming.

Good to keep these places in mind and I reaped the benefit last Tuesday when I accepted an offer to a birthday lunch (mine) and we decided on Nash 19. Some new faces in the crew but all come with big smiles and they soon had us seated, the menus in our hands, water at hand. It was a good start and gradually got better.
Warm Chicken Salad

Lots to pick from here, various salads, four fish dishes, traditional offerings such as Lamb’s Liver and Irish Stew. And if you couldn’t make up your mind you could do worse than choose the Local Producer Plate, their signature tasting plate.

The one that caught my eye was the Pork Loin, baked in Bombay Aloo (potato) & Fennel, with crackling (15.90). Crowe’s Farm are their regular supplier so I had no worries about the pork and in addition to the described elements there was also a helping of cracking kale (from Waterfall Farm), gratin potato and root vegetables. Overall, a superb mains, well thought out and equally well executed.

CL meanwhile was enjoying her Chicken Warm Salad, Mexican style, guacamole, tortillas and salsa (13.90), a bowl packed with colour, flavour and texture. 

Wines are supplied mainly by Liberty and Le Caveau and the birthday boy was invited to help himself by his driver for the day. Our server was confident about the wines and suggested I try the light unoaked and organic Mesta Tempranillo, a 2018 joven, from Ucles in Spain. She was spot on and I enjoyed the pairing!

We had each started with a “small” bowl of Rich Tomato and bean soup; they also had a chowder on offer. The soup took the cold out of the system and we settled back to enjoy our mains.

Nash believe in quality. Not alone do they source the best but they handle it well all the way from delivery to the plate. And it is not just quality. Quantity is never lacking here. So we were pretty full when the dessert question came up!

I studied the list, again no shortage of choice. The legendary Raspberry Mille Feuille caught my attention immediately but then I spotted something that might better suit the cool October day and so we decided to share the Pillow Meringue with spiced plums and hot chocolate sauce (6.60). Glad to report my hunch was right on the money. Indeed, those mildly spiced plums were worth the money on their own.

So there you are. What’s another year? Let’s see.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Amuse Bouche

Our first week at the firm was nothing short of a full-blown seduction - the generous gifts, the deferential treatment,… We embraced it all with the unbridled enthusiasm of the young and ambitious….
By 12:30 p.m., on the dot, we’d all be salivating in anticipation of our 1:00 p.m. gourmet lunch: sous-vide Wagyu beef served with potato fondant and char-grilled asparagus or Atlantic salmon with thyme infusion paired with parsnip mash, or whatever other culinary delights the executive chef had cooked up for the day. Each meal was matched with vintage Californian wines.

from The Escape Room by Megan Goldin (2019). Highly Recommended.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Taste of the Week. Mealagulla Apple Juice

Taste of the Week
Mealagulla Apple Juice

I was probably not fully awake the other morning as I reached for the juice glass*. A few sips later and I began to realise what a beautiful liquid it is, this apple juice from the Mealagulla Orchard in Ovens. A very pleasant wake-up call for the palate indeed and our Taste of the Week. 

The fruit is hand-picked, farm pressed, blended, pasteurised and freshly bottled to produce a refreshing natural drink. This is a natural product so the taste may vary during the season as the maturity of the fruit varies. Serve it chilled. It may also be used as a mixer - thinking of trying a few drops in my next Longueville House Apple Brandy!

The blend is 50% Bramley and 50% Golden Delicious and the result is superb, a great balance between flavour and acidity. Ingredients are apple juice, Vitamin C (as antioxidant). There is no added sugar. Refrigerate once opened.  

I bought the juice (they also sell apples) from James Scannel’s Mealagulla stall at the Saturday Douglas Farmers Market; they also have stalls in Mahon Point Farmers Market (Thursday), Clonakilty Farmers Market (Friday), & Cornmarket Street Farmers Market (Saturday); also available via Neighbourfood.

  • Do you like my juice glass? I bought a few of them at a secondhand sale (brocante) in a field in France a good few years ago. Note the big “E” on the side.
Mealagulla Orchard
Knockanemealagulla, Ovens, Co. Cork, P31 A073

Monday, October 21, 2019

Vikki’s Café & Wine Bar. Bright Spot on a Rainy Day

Vikki’s Café & Wine Bar
Bright Spot on a Rainy Day
Just six euro for this delicious quiche of the day including salad. Added to it with this generous cup of soup (3.00), a warming spicy tomato and black bean, quite appropriate for the unpleasant day. Watch out also for the daily special and a range of Arbutus Sourdough Toasties.

I was up around Sunday’s Well on a recent wet and windy morning. Wondering where I’d get a nice lunch when I thought of Vikki’s, well established now in the old post office. I hadn’t been there in a long while. It turned out to be a very good choice indeed.
A really excellent dish from the Brunch menu: Jack McCarthy's white pudding crumbled on to toasted Arbutus sourdough with two free range poached eggs and pomegranate raita.   Prefer Black pudding? They do a tempting Clonakilty Blackpudding Hash (with crushed potatoes and spring greens, a fried egg and Ballymaloe Relish, again on toasted sourdough. Each of these costs €11.00.

The menu is quite extensive. Maybe not the lunch menu itself but the brunch menu that starts at 8.30am runs right through until 3.30pm and you’ll have great fun choosing from the two. As it happened, I picked from one while CL picked from the other. See the menus (not the specials) here .

Drinks? No shortage. Lots of soft drinks, beer by the bottle (including the likes of Black’s, Galway Hooker), Stonewell cider and a wine list as well. The café opens every day and turns into a wine-bar for the weekend evenings. Watch out for music, mainly on Saturdays I think, with an extended programme for the Jazz Weekend.
Lots of tempting goodies on the counter, including this Almond and Plum Cake. Very enjoyable as was the Lemon Drizzle. Coffee is excellent also.

Tried this Coconut Water but didn't really fancy it.
On the other hand, Vikki's fresh apple juice was
very good indeed.
Service is friendly, low-key and efficient here in this long and narrowish space. There is a quite a garden out the back, lots of seats there too, but that wasn’t in play on this particular day. There were a couple of hardy souls outfront though sitting on the pavement tables under the awning. 

Vikki’s also have another string to their bow. They operate a deli here and on sale are products from some of the top local producers around. Indeed, those same producers feature on the menu. 

85A Sunday’s Well Road
(021) 422 1729

If strong winds are forecast, this is the wine that you need!

If strong winds are forecast, this is the wine that you need!

Breton Avis de Vin Fort Bourgueil (AOC) 2017, 12.5%, €21.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

Immediately north east of the confluence of the two rivers (Loire & its tributary Vienne) you come to Bourgueil and appellations named after that town and its close neighbour St Nicolas de Bourgueil. Wine is so important here that there is a huge wine bottle outside the church in St Nicolas and a large bunch of grapes is a centrepoint on at least one roundabout. The reds here and in Chinon, across the Loire to the south, are often excellent. As the World Atlas of Wine declares: "For its quality, it is absurdly undervalued".

Cabernet Franc is the red grape in these parts and this is a slightly unusual example, made in the style of a Clairet (indicated on the label), a cross between a rosé and a red. 

Colour though is dark enough, mid to dark ruby. Aromas are of fresh red fruit. It is undeniably fresh and light on the palate, easy-drinking and something of a thirst quencher. Barely a trace of tannin, just enough to dry the lips a bit - and a pleasant finish to boot. This vin de soif is Highly Recommended for that picnic or a sneaky glass at lunch before returning to the daily grind. 

A husband-and-wife operation in the Loire Valley, Catherine and Pierre Breton, based in the commune of Restigné, have recently celebrated their 30th vintage and have built their reputation on making pure Cabernet Francs from Bourgueil and neighbouring Chinon using biodynamic viticulture and vinification.

The vineyards see ultra-intense organic care, no mean feat in this northerly clime though by no means unique either; they avoid chemical fertilisers and weed killers, restrict yields and harvest by hand. The Bretons use indigenous yeasts and their desire for “natural” winemaking comes through strong in their resistance to the use of sulphites, with typically just 10 mg/l added at bottling to many cuvées, although some are bottled without any sulphites at all. And they are bottled unfiltered. This one is raised in Grenier wood barrels until spring, bottled in April with minimal sulphur. There was a little bit of sediment in this bottle, nothing to worry about but you may prefer to decant.

The wine’s name is a reference to the maritime warning “Avis de Vent Fort” (meaning strong winds are in the forecast), and is a play on words to evoke the idea that if the weather is bad, one should sail back to shore and have a glass of wine instead.

Holy Salads and Sandwiches at St Francis Provisions

Holy Salads and Sandwiches at St Francis Provisions
Super salad

There is a white tigín in Kinsale. It is the home of St Francis Provisions, a café com deli that is causing something of a stir in the town and beyond.

Hardly because of its size - it would be hard to squeeze twenty diners in here. Not because of its furniture: three basic 2-person tables and perhaps ten basic high stools. Not because of the ware, lots of odd plates here, some the worse for wear! So, why the fuss? It’s the food, stupid!

Take this glorious salad in the top photograph. “Perhaps the best salad ever,” according to first time customer CL who paid €9.50 for this colourful flavourful plate that is also seasonal and local. The tasty bounty of the season is deliciously expressed in the ever so pleasing melange of mixed leaves, fig, spelt, nuts and seeds, roasted parsnips, pumpkin and sweet potato, soft creamy cheese.

I’m also a St Francis novice and ordered one of the two daily sandwiches: Gubbeen pistachio salami, Gubbeen cheese, fig and ginger chutney on focaccia, served on their own focaccia. On advice from the kitchen - there are certain advantages in sitting at the counter - I had this toasted and this too was excellent, local produce expertly handled.
Apple & Blackberry Pie and, right, Sticky Orange Cake

By the way, the day we visited (Oct 9th) was the day that they finally became truly their own bakery with chef Darren Kennedy and baker Sarah Walsh adding the sourdough to their repertoire. The bar has been well and truly raised here and it’s a pleasure to see such a young enterprise (it opened at the start of the summer) progress so impressively under the direction of owner/manager Barbara Nealon, a woman from the Banner who arrived in Kinsale via San Francisco (hence the tigín’s name).

And the output of the ovens is spread across the counters, lots of tempting pastries, both big and small. My pick was the Sticky Orange Cake, sweet, moist and delicious, enhanced no end by a cup of the excellent Red Strand coffee.

Rock and roll was playing on the record player - it is all vinyl here boy - with a voice from my past knocking out “Here comes my baby. Here she comes now…” as we settled up, €27.00 in all, before stepping out in the sunlit Farmers Market (a mega shower had just finished).

It is not just lunch that they serve here. Breakfast is available from 8.45, brunch is well worth checking out on Saturdays and Sundays, and there’s a dinner service (with some superb wines) available every Friday and Saturday from 5.00pm. They are closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Short Quay
Co. Cork
tel: 0830636879

Sunday, October 20, 2019

All Happening at the River Lee. Afternoon Tea, Harvest Carriage, Jazz Fest

All Happening at the River Lee
Afternoon Tea, Harvest Carriage, Jazz Fest
Petite pieces of finesse and elegance, crowned by this quartet of sweet sensations.
Congrats to the team here as their Afternoon Tea has been awarded best in Munster.

Always a buzz around the River Club in the River Lee. Even more so at present as the riverside hotel steps up another gear - no standing still around here. Latest highlights include a splendid Afternoon Tea and the Harvest Carriage. 

And, for the October Bank Holiday, between the Club and the River Room, there’s a score and more jazz slots, all free, a whole lot of fun from 5.00pm on Friday until 7.00pm on Monday. The excellent New York Brass Band will be here everyday. They are superbly entertaining and watch out too for the Art Crimes Band. But there is something for everyone. Check it all out here 

We were in for the Afternoon Tea last Friday but we also had a look at the Harvest Carriage. The what? Did you know that a three-foot narrow gauge train-line ran from Cork City to Blarney from the late 19th century until it finally ceased service in 1934.
The Harvest Carriage

The Cork and Muskerry Light Railway brought pleasure-seeking tourists from the city to the countryside and ran right through where the River Club now stands. This was the very site of the old Western Road station – in fact you can still see the remnants of the train tracks just under the terrace of the adjoining Grill Room restaurant and two stumps of supporting columns stand in the river outside!

These days, the riverside terrace has been decorated to evoke the good old days of train travel, not so much on the Cork and Muskerry, more like the luxury continental lines. The River Club, in partnership with Fever-Tree mixers, is offering a selection of cocktails to while away the “journey”.

And we started with one! Since we had been assigned to drive the express, the drink had to be non alcoholic. And our host, Pierce Lowney, General Manager, had just the ticket. A seasonal one, based on the refreshing and spiced Seed-Lip, with ginger beer and their own apple and pear cordial. Now, after that delicious Amuse Bouche, blow that whistle and check out the dining carriage for that superb tea.
River Club Bar

The menu follows the traditional three parts: savoury, scones and sweet, all tempting. Four finger sandwiches were Curry Spiced Coronation Chicken, Cucumber and Chive Glenilen Cream Cheese, Focaccia with sun-dried tomato and basil hummus and my favourite Dressed Ballycotton Crab on homemade Guinness brown bread.

The influence of Modern Botany was seen in the very tempting Bramley Apple and Flax Financier in the scone plate and in the sweets as well. There was Camomile and Honey Carrageen Moss pudding, Orange and Polenta Cake with calendula mousseline cream, Earl Grey Chocolate Choux Bun and a joint favourite Pineapple and Coriander Green Tea Tartlet.

We choose the House Tea here, Barry’s Gold Blend, to start with and when that pot was finished I switched to one of the Ronnefeldt Loose Leaf Teas, the delicious balanced Early Grey. And they had more to offer including an Irish Whiskey Cream tea! Coffees too of course.

Speaking of balance, I think that this was one of the best balanced Afternoon Tea menus I’ve enjoyed, not too heavy at all, even that green tea tartlet in the desserts is quite light. So, feeling nicely fed than overly so, off we headed on a leisurely walk downtown. No train going that way now.

Plants and flowers, both wild and cultivated, are at the heart of Modern Botany’s approach to skincare, using the best natural botanical ingredients to promote skin health, including flax, calendula, borage and chamomile. 

These same plants and herbs all feature in this Modern Botany Afternoon Tea at The River Lee. The company is based in Schull and draws on the botanical richness of the Wild Atlantic Way to create their products. And, if you are an Afternoon Tea customer, you’ll get a gift of a Modern Botany travel size gift.  

Western Road

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Richy's "No Menu" Night. Huge Success

Richy's "No Menu" Night. Huge Success

Richy Virahsawmy is a happy man this weekend. "The first no menu night was a huge
success, full house !! Thank you all. The next one is on 14/11/2019. Bookings open now!!"
Now wonder it went down well  in the Clonakilty restaurant - just look at these pictures of
 the wonderful dishes created by Richy's Head Chef Meeran Gani Manzoor. You can see
 that this talented guy has learned well from his time spent working in
 Michelin starred restaurants.

House cured salmon with Turmeric, lemongrass & gin, lime fraiche, apple & cucumber gel, wasabi pearls, lemon oil, fermented rice crisps! 

Pumpkin and pink peppercorn brûlée, goats curd, sage and pistachio
Scallops, cauliflower poriyal, tamarind & palm sugar glaze.
Duck, celeriac, red cabbage, carrot and hazelnut 

Chocolate & coffee

Friday, October 18, 2019

Amuse Bouche

Good boy. Now, come on. We have eggs. Let me cook you an omelette.
She pulled a soggy box out of the press, opened it and at once turned up her nose.
Maybe we’ll skip the eggs, she said, and took a good look around the kitchen as though she was convinced a second press, one with proper eggs and other food, was hiding from her. Her scan complete, she shook her head sadly, threw up her arms and yelled, What a dump! As fast again, she jerked her head towards the stereo, her face lighting up at what was coming out of it.
And off she went. De-de doo-duh. De-de doo-duh. Clicking her fingers.

from Ithaca by Alan McMonagle (2017). Very Highly Recommended.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

White Gypsy's Tempting Threesome. Limited Edition Brews

White Gypsy's Tempting Threesome
Limited Edition Brews

Smoked Wheat, 5.2%, 500 ml bottle

A traditional Bamburg style beer made from malt that has been dried over fires from beechwood logs. Weyermann Dark Wheat and Pale Pilsner Malts, Saphir hops and Weihenstephan yeast have all been harnessed here.

A delicious mix of fruit, clove too, plus just a hint of smoke from the drying process. Should be good with food, particularly with those from the BBQ. Next time, I may well try it with smoked salmon or trout.

Farmhouse Ale, 5.5%, 500ml bottle

This is Gypsy’s take on a traditional Wallonia style beer brewed by the local farmer to provide his workers with refreshment during the hard work of the summer. Ingredients include Irish Heritage Hunter Barley, Irish Wheat Malt, Mandarina Bavaria Wet Hops and Saison Yeast.

I’d be very happy to working with any farmer that can come up with an ale of this quality. A perfect balance, positively refreshing, and just the job after a hard days work. A superb saison. Wonder if I could sneak one at lunchtime!
Some similarities between Wheat and Ale, including mouthfeel and hints of clove.

Bock Lager, 6.5%, 500 ml bottle

A traditional Munich style beer brewed by Bavarian monks during Lent to provide them with their nutritional needs. White Gypsy say it’s the best excuse they ever heard for drinking beer. Ingredients listed are Weyermann Barke & Munich Malts, Hallertau Traditional Hops and Munich Yeast.

Dark-ish and power packed at 6.5 abv, this lager was originally brewed by those crafty Bavarian monks for nutritional purposes! In fairness, you could say there’s eating and drinking in it. Superb flavours round down the potential alcohol spike; still though, this is one to sip and enjoy rather than glug and regret!

These three superb beers are all produced by White Gypsy in Tipperary. I got mine, for eleven euro, in Bradley's, North Main Street, Cork. White Gypsy beers are widely available and you can check their other stockists here.