Friday, January 31, 2020

Amuse Bouche

‘Tea!’ Mrs Howard pushed the door open with a rattling tray. I went to help her, shoving the folder at Derwent so he could hide it. Her eyes were red, up close, and her face was swollen but she smiled at me…
We let her fuss over us, choosing biscuits from the plate she offered, making conversations about… the house and her art. Eventually, reluctantly, Derwent put his mug on the table.
‘Mrs Howard, I need to ask about the letters. Did they come from the prison?’

from Cruel Acts by Jane Casey (2019). Very Highly Recommended.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Time to go fishing folks! Head to Goldie

Time to go fishing folks! Head to Goldie

The much loved salmon, popularly known as Goldie, swims forever on top of the tower of St Anne’s in Shandon, in one of the most elevated positions in Cork City. The fish and ale restaurant named Goldie, in the flat of the city, is already in an elevated position when its comes to matters fish on the plate. Our first meal there a few months back was impressive, this latest even more so.They appear to be getting into their stride. Who knows what heights this creative kitchen will hit in the seasons ahead.

Lots of hard work here too. After all, they get the whole fish in here every morning. But Head Chef Aishling Moore is relishing it, the head to tail ethos, the challenge that each delivery poses, plus the freedom to create that it also makes possible. “I’m living the dream,” she said on our latest call.

Cork's Goldie Fish (Shandon) and Goldie Angel (Saint Fin Barre's)

The Goldie Menu has three main sections: Snacks, Small Plates, and Mains. You also have sides and desserts of course. And then there’s the beers, all from their own brewery across the road in Elbow Lane, ales formulated by brewer Russell to “specifically suit the foods that we offer”, three on draught, two in bottle. They do have a matching wine list of course and, on the night, had some interesting special offers on.

You can expect to see quite a range of fish on the menu. On our visit last week, squid, prawn, ling, oyster, mussel, salt fish brandade, plaice, ray, and monkfish were all in the mix to some degree or other. No meat here but vegetarians are catered for at all stages including a mains of Piccalilli Panisse, Coolea Cheese sauce, and kale.

We started with beers (Elbow Lager and Jawbone Ale - all their beers are named after Cork lanes) and a couple of snacks. The Chickpea Wafer, fennel and Coolea Cheese, was a delicious wee bite but my favourite was the Salted Ling fish finger, with gherkin ketchup.

CL continued on the vegetarian path with a small plate of Beetroot, gherkin ketchup, yogurt and horseradish. Absolutely superb, so good I persuaded her to share. She did well too though as she was full of praise for my Tempura of Oysterhaven Oysters, with ponzu sauce. 

That sauce was magic and indeed I thought the combination well capable of converting oyster haters and when I mentioned that to our server, she said she’d seen it happen here. So if you are a bit doubtful about oysters and you find yourself in Goldie, do go for it. Other small plates on the night included Steamed mussels, creamed watercress and cider and also Salt Fish Brandade, seaweed cracker, pickles.

Now, for the main event. We were both tempted by the Whole Roast Plaice, bok choi, café de Paris but that will have to wait for another night! Instead we went for the Ray and Monkfish dishes and a delicious side (shared) of Sea Salt shoestring chips.

Sauces and relishes here are key - like the ponzu earlier. Now it was turn of a well-judged red wine sauce to work its magic with the Pan Fried Ray and the parsnip. And superlatives too for the oyster velouté  and fennel that enhanced the Pan Fried Monkfish. Umami on the double.

And those thin little chips were also top notch. Other tempting sides available included Chinese cabbage squid, peanut and tahini dressing and also Roast cauliflower and hazelnut brown butter.

Just a short dessert list. We had tried, and enjoyed, the Killahora Orchard apple port Panna cotta on the previous visit and this time picked the equally enjoyable Blood orange posset, brown butter Madeleine, white chocolate and tarragon ganache. Quite a delightful plateful that we shared.

Then time to say goodbye to the very friendly and efficient crew here. But we did have a peek at the upstairs room that has just been opened for service. Downstairs, it is very bright and modern. Upstairs, there is more by way of decor, lots of foliage. Will definitely take the pressure off downstairs at weekends and would also be a lovely room for a midweek party (up to 15 people or thereabouts). 

Party or no party, go fishing folks! Head to Goldie.

128 Oliver Plunkett Street (opposite Market Lane)
Open 5pm, Tue - Sat.
+353 21 239 8720

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Two Outstanding Reds from Yecla and Valpolicella

Two Outstanding Reds despite contrasting growing seasons in Yecla and Valpolicella
Drought was a regular feature in Spain’s Yecla in 2016, resulting in very low yields, but that in turn led to increased concentration in the Monastrell grapes. No complaints about the season in Valpolicella in north east Italy and the results were excellent. Here, the wine-maker availed of a version of the Ripasso method to enhance concentration. And so we have two excellent reds for you to enjoy.

Bodegas Castano “Hécula” Monastrell Yecla (DO) 2016, 14%, €17.99

Baggot Street Wines; McHugh’s Off Licence; Red Island Wine Co Ltd; World Wide Wines; Martins Off Licence; JJ O’Driscoll; The Wine Centre; Drink Store; Clontarf Wines; Fresh The Good Food Market;

Just a few info bits and pieces for you…
“Hécula” is the name of the wine and it is produced by the Castano family from the Monastrell grape in Yecla ( a small wine DO in the north of Murcia, about an hour inland from Alicante). The grape is known as Mourvedre in France and the fruit used here is from 40-year old vines.

Dark intense ruby, legs slow to clear. Inviting aromas of blueberry and raspberry. Not at all shy on the palate, soft and elegant with fresh juicy raspberry flavours, a hint of the oak too, quite concentrated. A long and substantial finish. This wonderfully harmonious wine is Very Highly Recommended.

Drought was a regular feature in Yecla in 2016, resulting in very low yields and that probably accounts for the extra concentration of flavour. After fermentation, the wine was aged for six months in oak barrels of which 50% were new. The oak used was 80% French and 20% American. It is untreated and unfiltered so you expect to see some sediment. It may be best to decant. I didn’t take my own advice but, as it happened, there was no sediment.

Pic via Allegrini Facebook
Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre Rosso Veronese (IGT) 2016,  13.5%, €27.99

Clontarf Wines; 64 Wine; Blackrock Cellar; McHugh’s Off Licence - Malahide Road; Mitchell & Son Wine Merchants; Thomas`s of Foxrock; Jus de Vine; Whelehans Wines; Drink Store; Seamus Foley T/A Cashel Wine Cellar; Red Nose Wine Ltd; La Touche Wines 4U; Martins Off

Mid to dark ruby is the colour of this blend of 70% Corvina/Corvinone, 25% Rondinella, 5% Sangiovese. Quite aromatic with cherry prominent and some scents too of chocolate/coffee. Juicy and darkly flavoursome, velvety smooth with refreshing acidity. Harmonious all the way with silky tannins in a long and richly satisfying finish. 

Back in 2002 when Vino Italiano was first published, its authors described  Allegrini as one of the biggest names in Valpolicella. They added: “the value-priced Palazzo della Torre (which includes 30% dried grapes) is a fruity and fun Valpolicella with more meat than most.” Still holds true today and this 2016 is Very Highly Recommended.

The Modern History of Italian Wine praises the “fruit philosophy” of the Allegrinis, first espoused by Giovanni, “a true innovator of the 1960s”, a philosophy based on preserving the fruit from the vine to the bottle.  They are based in Fumane, with Lake Garda about 20 minutes to the west and Verona less than 30 to the southeast.

Nowadays Franco Allegrini (of the new generation) uses the modern version of the traditional 'ripasso' technique for Palazzo della Torre, drying a proportion of the grapes in the 'Terre di Fumane' drying centre, to intensify “the character of this vineyard”. And, the 2016 season and the result here “was one of the best ever, outstanding for its great balance and elegance”.

Palazzo della Torre pairs effortlessly with various Italian dishes, above all risottos, especially those flavoured with saffron, porcini mushrooms and pork; classic dishes such as pasta with Amatriciana and Carbonara sauces, baked lasagna, gnocchi with gorgonzola cheese and walnuts; grilled meats and roasts. It also excels when matched with Parma ham and fine-cured Zibello pork loin, as well as medium-matured cheeses, especially Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan), Pecorino and Monte Veronese. Anything Italian by the looks of it!

Take a Walk on the Wild Side: Award Winning Chefs Collaborate for Wild Ingredient Dinner

press release
Take a Walk on the Wild Side: Award Winning Chefs Collaborate for Wild Ingredient Dinner 
Bryan (left) and Eric

Bryan McCarthy of Greenes and Eric Kavanagh of Cahernane House Hotel to host a Four Hands Dinner at Greenes Restaurant on Wednesday the 26th of February.

Greenes Restaurant in Cork city is hosting a special wild ingredient-driven dinner on the 26th of February where executive head chef Bryan McCarthy will welcome head chef Eric Kavanagh of Kerry’s Cahernane House Hotel into the Greenes kitchen.

Coming into the end of game season, Bryan and Eric have devised a six course menu which is a celebration of wild food with stand-out dishes of venison and local, foraged ingredients. 

Bryan McCarthy said, “Eric is one of Ireland’s best game chefs and myself and the team at Greenes are delighted to be working alongside someone so renowned for their game cookery. The menu’s focus is on wild, foraged ingredients, offering something unique for our diners and allowing us to showcase our combined passion for this type of food.

There will also be a Spring season edition of this four hands collaboration, where the roles are reversed and Bryan will be joining Eric in the Cahernane House kitchen on the 2nd of April. 

Eric Kavanagh said, “I have known Bryan for many years and it’s a wonderful opportunity for me to go back to my Cork roots and work with the talented team in Greenes. Bryan has always been innovative in his work and I know our combined styles will make for two very special evenings for our guests in both Cork and Killarney.”

The Wild Ingredient Dinner at Greenes is taking place on the 26th of February and costs €59 per person for six courses, including a drink reception kicking off at 6:30pm. Dinner and accommodation in Greenes’ sister venue, Hotel Isaacs, can be booked at a cost of €258 for two people sharing.

Those who want to experience the best of both culinary experiences - one in the buzz of Cork city and one in the peaceful Kerry countryside - can also book the Spring Four Hands Dinner at Cahernane House for the same price - €59 per person for dinner only, and €258 for dinner and accommodation for two people sharing. 

Reservations can be made for both venues at or by phone at 021 455 2279.

Keep up to date with the latest news by following Greenes on Instagram and Twitter at @GreenesCork and on Facebook at @GreenesRestaurant, and Cahernane House Hotel on Instagram at @CahernaneHotel, on Facebook @Cahernane and on Twitter @CahernaneHouse.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Pouilly-Fumé Sauvignon Blanc is hard to beat. Loire and Marlborough getting closer?

Pouilly-Fumé Sauvignon Blanc is hard to beat
Loire and Marlborough getting closer?
The Loire

When it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, there are two main "religions" and many splinter groups. In the main, there is a "battle" between those who believe in wines made in the Loire area (the source) and those converts to the more intense Marlborough gospel. But the grape grows well in many places and SBs from Australia, Chile, and California, and more, will have their disciplines. And though you'll find excellent examples in all areas, I must admit I'm almost always more comfortable with a bottle from the Loire.

Here, there is even a split, as Sancerre is perhaps the best-known. Below, we have two from Pouilly Fumé which is generally more or less of similar standard as Sancerre (across the river). Indeed, the World Atlas of Wine declares: “It would be a brave taster who maintained he or she could always tell a Pouilly Fumé from a Sancerre. The best of each are on the same level; the Sancerre perhaps slightly fuller and more obvious, the Pouilly Fumé more perfumed.”

Perhaps though there is a middle ground emerging between the Loire and Marlborough. Just like the world in general, the wine world is changing, quite often because of the exchange of knowledge and know-how between different regions and you will read that the gap between the Loire and Marlborough is narrowing. Wines from both areas were brought together in a London tasting in 2019. Jamie Goode and Rebecca Gibb MW made the case for the regions. In blind tastings, several MWs and leading wine experts mistook New Zealand Sauvignons for Loire wines and vice versa.

Victoria Kukla told DRN: “New Zealand and the Loire are always pitted against each other when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc. People have preconceptions about both regions, but Sauvignon Blanc has evolved so much and there’s so much talent working in New Zealand and going over to the Loire, and vice versa and we just felt that with this tasting we wanted to challenge all the preconceptions that people had.” Read more here. Henri Bourgeois below are involved in wine-making in both France and New Zealand.

Henri Bourgeois La Porte de l' Abbaye Pouilly-Fumé 2018, 13%, €25.95 O’Briens Wine.

For 10 generations, the label declares, the Bourgeois family have been producing handcrafted wines that “reflect our terroirs, our traditions, our passions”. Food pairings suggested for this Sauvignon Blanc are: fish, white meat, goat cheese or a simple scallops tartare with lime. Best served 10-12 degrees. Other suggestions I’ve seen are Turbot with spinach and feta cheese, or a Crottin de Chavignol goat cheese with toasted sesame seeds.

O’Brien’s are very strong on this one: “Henri Bourgeois is one of the Loire's most celebrated premium producers. This Sauvignon Blanc has been a real revelation. This unoaked white wine has an electric balance between fresh mouth-watering fruit and a benchmark mineral character characteristic of Sauvignon Blanc grown on a great terroir. Absolutely delicious.” And, having giving it a good run, I agree.

Colour is light straw with green tints. Pear and citrus combine in the calm scents, nothing like the pungent Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs. Quite a minerally tingle on the palate, lime and pear in the mouthwatering flavour, fresh and lively and the finish is persistent and dry. Matured on its lees for five months, it has an excellent mouthfeel. Concentrated and elegant, this is Very Highly Recommended.

Gitton Père & Fils Clos Joanne D’Orion Pouilly Fumé (AOC) 2017, 13%, Karwig 13.95 in 2019 closing-down sale

This Sauvignon Blanc shows as a lovely bright gold in the glass. More herbaceous than fruity in the aromas (which are nowhere near as pungent as you’d find in the Marlborough version). Fresh and fruity on the palate. Crisp and acidic, and dry of course, and the cirtrus-y finish is long and satisfying. Suggested pairings are white fish, seafood, and goats cheese. Highly Recommended.

Pouilly Fumé is one the signature wines of the Loire area. The fumé is French for 'smoky'. According to Wine-Searcher, it denotes the struck gunflint aroma that characterises the local Sauvignon Blanc wines. This distinctive smell is often referred to as pierre à fusil, which means 'flint' (literally 'rifle stone'). It is a key point of differentiation for Pouilly-Fumé's winemakers, and a source of great local pride.” Can’t say I got any convincing trace of it in the scent here!

Finding the food of love on Sligo Food Trail

press release
Finding the food of love on Sligo Food Trail

The food of love on Sligo Food Trail. Find these Valentine's Cakes at The Bakehouse at Lyons Café

St. Valentine’s Day is synonymous not only with love, but with food as well. To celebrate the most romantic night of the year everyone loves to dine out in style. Here’s the Sligo Food Trail guide to finding the most fabulous food of love without a tacky plastic rose in sight.

Castles in the air …What could be more romantic than whisking your Valentine away on a luxurious overnight break in magical Markree Castle. The lavish package includes early check in and a very late check out (2.30pm) as well as afternoon tea with Prosecco, chocolates, Voya seaweed products and a 5-course candlelit dinner from chef Lee Mastin. Treat the love of your life to this very special break for just €145pps. Email to book.

Take the love tour
Sligo Food Tours fare kicking off their 2020 season with a Valentine’s Special on Friday 14th February from 2.30-5pm all around Sligo town. Hans and Gaby Wieland promise a food experience packed with flavour, freshness and fun not to mention the food of love, aphrodisiac ingredients and some special treats too. Book the Sligo Love Tour here

Fine dining Valentine fare
Award winning fine dining restaurant Eala Bhán along the Garavogue River has a very special Valentine’s Menu from chef Marcin Szczodrowski. It’s four delicious courses with a glass of bubbly Prosecco for just €44.95 and it is available from 13-16 February.

Super sexy Supper ClubsSupper Clubs are the casual side of eating out with your loved one. Three fabulous cafés on Sligo Food Trail are offering Valentine’s Supper Clubs to make you swoon. In Strandhill, Shell’s Seaside Café invite you to bring your beloved and celebrate Valentines with a lovely three course meal for €35. You can even bring your own bottle (BYOB). Call 071 9122938 to reserve your table.
Nook in Collooney promises four 4 courses of seasonal sexy food, Prosecco cocktails and cheesy love. It’s perfect for couples, groups of friends, double daters and lovers of good food and costs €40 (BYOB). Call 0719118973 to secure your spot on either Friday 14th or Saturday 15th February.

The Jam Pot in Grange are also taking booking for their Valentine's Supper Club on Friday 14th February at 7.30pm. Ideal for couples or groups of friends, the cost is just€40 for 4 courses. To book, call 087 1644228.

Stay in Sligo – the land of hearts desireA one (or two) night stay in The Glasshouse in the heart of Sligo town could be just the ticket for Valentine’s weekend. Star Chef Alan Fitzmaurice has created a sumptuous six course menu including his signature hand crafted chocolates. You’ll find more of those chocolatey delights plus a bottle of Prosecco awaiting you in your room on arrival. Available from 14-16 February from €250 per couple. Non-residents can enjoy dinner for just €45. Phone 071 9194300 to book. Sligo Park Hotel has a two night romantic escape with dinner in their award winning AA Rosette Hazelwood Restaurant. Book on 071 919 0400.

Love TokensIf gift giving is more your style, you’ll find Sligo Food Trail rich in tasty treasures to suit your love. Choose some elegant wines from Hargadon’s Wine Shop, a Lough Gill Brewery craft beer set or a voucher for any of our delectable dining spots, food tours, food experiences or a romantic break away. Ideal fare for every food lover.
You’ll find details on all Sligo Food Trail members on the website.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Taste of the Week. Davidson’s Peppercorn Steak Bombs

Taste of the Week
Davidson’s Peppercorn Steak Bombs
Ready to go. The chips, by the way, are done like wedges in the oven with a little olive oil. Roosters were used.

“These are our Peppercorn Steak Bombs, minced chuck beef with a creamy pepper filling, lightly seasoned and rolled in a peppery crumb. Delicious.”

When our award-winning local butcher Chris posts something like this on social media, we are first in the queue and are at the Davidson’s door in  Montenotte in no time at all. 

We’ve never been disappointed and this latest offering is up there with the best of them, a bit of medium heat from the pepper taking the top notch meat to a new level, a new Taste of the Week!

7 St Christopher’s Drive
Cork City
(021) 451 8184


press release
Ballymaloe Grainstore
Pre-Show Dinner in Ballymaloe House Will Feature Recipes from Maura Laverty’s Iconic Cookery Book, Full and Plenty
Friday 28 February 2020

The sparkling new play, Maura Laverty – This Was Your Life, comes to Ballymaloe Grainstore on Friday 28 February. It tells the rollercoaster life of the broadcaster, playwright, novelist and agony aunt, Maura Laverty.
A household name in Ireland for three decades, her work was often controversial and her novels were banned by the censors for their sexual frankness.  In the 1960s her cookery books, with their unique blend of recipes and stories, were found in nearly every home in the country.
Maura is spirited back from the dead as a guest on a surreal TV show called This Was Your Life. She cooks a recipe on stage from her iconic 1960 cookbook, Full and Plenty, and talks about her dramatic and difficult life.
The host gets Maura to reveal dark secrets and confront the price she paid for her success.  Moving from comedy to tragedy, the play reassesses the legacy of a trailblazing Irishwoman and examines a life of triumph and heartache.
A pre-show dinner inspired by Maura’s Full and Plenty recipes will be served in Ballymaloe House at 6pm.  Head Chef Dervilla O’Flynn has created a three-course menu of deliciously ‘retro’ choices. Booking [€53 per person] is essential on 021 465 2531. A special ‘Play and Stay’ accommodation package includes overnight in Ballymaloe House, dinner, show tickets and breakfast.  Packages are from €185 per person sharing.
The Curious Ensemble production is written by Yvonne Quinn and Bairbre Ní Chaoimh, the authors of the enduringly popular award-winning Stolen Child. It stars Bairbre Ní Chaoimh as Maura and Malachy McKenna as television host, Rip Riley.  It is directed by Joan Sheehy.
Running time is 1 hour and 20 minutes with no interval.
Tickets for Maura Laverty – This Was Your Life in Ballymaloe Grainstore on Friday 28 February are €22.  They can be bought online at or by phone on 021 475 7200.

 Cream of Spinach Soup 
Winter Salad of Farm Eggs, Beetroot and Lettuce with Traditional Dressing
Main Course
 Steak and Kidney Pie 
Duck Rineanna with Apple and Cider Stuffing
Duchesse Potatoes, Leeks au Gratin, Glazed Carrots
Floating Islands with Poached Rhubarb or Plums

Writer Maura Laverty’s life is a fascinating tale of talent and tenacity; she is brought back to life in this charming play full of detail, wit and tragedy. Bairbre Ní Chaoimh (who plays Laverty in this hugely enjoyable production) cooks a Spanish omelette as the show progresses.  For younger audiences this is a fascinating picture of how a strong woman refused to play nice in the restrictive post-war decades and worked her way bang into the centre of Irish cultural life. Her ghost will be well pleased. – The Irish Independent
A witty and entertaining journey through the writer’s life, with Ms Ní Chaoimh in splendid form as the pugnacious Laverty. – Irish Mail on Sunday

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Great Start to the Day at Good Day Deli

Great Start to the Day at Good Day Deli
GDD Benny

It was with a good gut feeling that we headed to Good Day Deli for a recent breakfast. And it was with a very good gut feeling that we left this oasis in the gardens of Nano Nagle Place off Douglas Street Cork.

You won’t get your Full Irish here as GDD is close to being fully vegetarian; they do offer a few (sustainable) fish dishes. Owners Claire and Kristin bill the restaurant as a “Sustainable Foods Cafe serving a mix of healthy, local, seasonal, organic and fair trade foods with a commitment to sustainability throughout our food chain. We aim to inspire sustainable lifestyles in Ireland by empowering people to make good food choices that will boost health and wellbeing; elevate local producers; support animal welfare; and protect the environment now and for future generations.”. 
Pear & Pancakes

And they have a host of local suppliers recruited to help them attain those goals.  Organic for Us (milk), Holo Organics (Kombucha); My Goodness (Kefir), Wilkie’s Organic Chocolate, West Cork Coffee, Blanco Nino (tortillas), Pana Bread, and Leamlara Micro-greens, are among the names on the January list.

There is a Kia Orana (welcome) sign on the path up to the restaurant and the welcome inside is warm, smiles and chat and no shortage of info about the menu. We are spoiled for choice, everything from Morena Granola to a Vibrant Vegan Trio to Connolly’s Any Way Organic Eggs. 

I’ve enjoyed their Benny here before and was tempted by the Smoked Beetroot version, also by the Stack of Seared Toons Bridge Halloumi. The Kia Orana Bruschetta (Ardsallagh Goats Cheese with caramelised Mealagulla apples) also beckoned.

My pick though was the Good Day Deli Smoked Salmon Benny. Frank Hederman’s superb salmon came with two organic poached eggs, a very well made Hollandaise (perfect in both quality and quantity), toasted seeds and leafy greens all on sourdough. Delicious!

CL’s choice was the The Hibiscus Poached Pear Pancakes (chunkier than usual), tasty too with a poached organic pear, coconut mascarpone and a drizzle of the Hivemind Honey from the innovative Crosshaven farm.

The drinks here are that bit different too, including a selection of natural wines via Le Caveau. Of course, they have teas and coffees but be sure and study the menu further. You may well like the Coco Mocha (a mocha or hot chocolate with rich Wilkies chocolate plus West Cork Coffee Espresso with coffee, coconut and Maple Cream Whip!)

And then there’s the Hibiscus Soda (a mix of Hibiscus and Poached Pear, with citrus fruits juice, fresh mint and Fizz). A beautifully refreshing soda is what the menu card says and I can confirm that for sure. Absolutely delicious and refreshing. And another superb drink, CL’s choice, was the Apple Juice from Mealagulla in Ovens.

Just as much choice on the lunch menu. But that’s another day’s work! Or should I say another day’s pleasure.

Nano Nagle Place, Douglas Street, Cork T12X704
Phone: 021 4322107