Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Taste of the Week. Kilmeaden Fully Mature White Cheddar

Taste of the Week
Kilmeaden Fully Mature White Cheddar
An enforced change of shopping habits over the past week or two led to a few different products on the table. One, Kilmeaden’s Fully Mature White Cheddar, was a very tasty surprise and its intense and distinctive flavour went down very well indeed.
This aromatic and rich cheese, made by Glanbia in Waterford, is our Taste of the Week. And, if you’d like to take it a stage further, Kilmeaden have a few recipes on their website, including this Ratatouille & Cheese one here
Our Taste of the Week has been typically matured for 10 months and comes in a handy resealable pack. Handy size too at 200g. If it’s this good at 10 months, then the Grader’s Choice (which is matured for 2 years) must be worth a go. I’ll have to keep an eye for that and perhaps take a stab at the recipe above.
Glanbia, Citywest, Dublin 24 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Have you been to the Borrow Box? (passing the time in a cocoon)

Have you been to the Borrow Box?
(passing the time in a cocoon)

With the physical libraries closed, the Borrow Box app has turned out to be a god send. Online, I've been reading books dealing with everything from hurling to wine, all free!

I joined up just about two weeks ago and so far have enjoyed a selection of new and older titles including Christy Ring (by Tim Horgan), Lampedusa (by Steven Price), Death in the Vines (ML Longworth), Resurrection Man (Eoin McNamee), Peaches for Monsieur le Curé (a follow-up to Chocolat by Joanne Harris) and have started The Rhythm Section by Mark Burnett, as Natural Wine for the People (by Alice Feiring) awaits. 

Quite an eclectic selection! Variety is the spice of life. Some serious, some light, some in between. Something for everyone in Borrow Box and the number of books available has been boosted by a whole load of new titles thanks to a financial input by the government.

This is all online and Cork City Libraries have posted the info here “Borrow now straight to your device. Details on how to register from our website".

Basically, all you need do is download the app, sign up using your membership card number and PIN and make your choice. You may have five books at any one time. The five will include any that you have booked. When you go through the books, you’ll note that some have an available date - it could be next week or next month - and you can reserve it with a click.

You may order from different headings such as All Releases, Adult, Young Adult, Children. From different categories eg New Releases, Most Popular - Adult, Most Popular - Teen, Most Popular - Children, Bestseller and so on. And then there are genres: American Fiction, Autobiography, Celebrity, Memoirs, Musician among them. Be sure too to tick the type of delivery you want: eBooks to read yourself, and eAudioBooks if you’d like someone to read to you! They seem to have thought of everything!

More info on signing up here (from Dublin City Library): https://twitter.com/dubcilib/status/1242068845994676224 

Borrow Box is not the only online facility provided by Irish libraries. You may also sead original library publications in pdf format. You may learn a language online. Then there's Press Reader (online newspapers and magazines service, free to current library members). You can also download the FreeGal (music app). RBdigital offers full-colour and interactive magazines to download to your computer, laptop, or mobile device. And you can access the Naxos Music Library. And more.. check it all out here.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Amuse Bouche

Steaming platters of swordfish carved shuddering into slabs and delicate wobbles of eggplant and dishes of Sicilian macaroni thick with peppers and tomatoes and pork under a golden crust. Twists of bread still hot and soft. Calamari wrapped in brown sugar. 
Plato said, of Agrigento, that we build as if we expect to live forever and eat as if we expect to die tomorrow.
If we eat even half of this, Giuseppe said dryly, we likely shall.

from Lampedusa by Steven Price (2019). Very Highly Recommended. Available on Borrow Box

Friday, March 27, 2020

Plate full of colour

Nice bit of colour on the lunch plate this sunny day, thanks mainly to the Toons Bridge Dairy/Real Olive Company

Excellent delivery service from the online shop and we enjoyed these semi-sun-dried tomatoes, the mixed olives, the sliced Jamon Serrano reserva. The Mozzarella (Fior di latte) didn't survive very long once the package was opened but there's much more to look forward over the next few days. The rocket's from the back garden, the cheese a mature Kilmeaden.

Shipping is free for purchases over 50 euro.


press release

A close up of a sign

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Due to increasing restrictions around the Covid-19 crisis, Cork’s trendy design and food festival, Design Pop, originally due to happen in May, has made the decision to postpone their event until 28-30th August 2020.

Design Pop brings together six top Irish designers to create six pop-up installation structures which will go on display in various locations across the city over three days. Each designer is paired with a Cork-based food or drink producer to create a bespoke space which the public are invited to explore and interact with. The 2019 edition saw designers Shane O’Driscoll, Alan Macilwraith, Fíor studios, Meitheal Architects, Conor Merriman, and Alex Pentex team up with food specialists Banana Melon, Good Day Deli, All Full up, My Goodness, Soma and Applebee cakes.

As well as this exciting new design and food trail across the city, the festival also hosts a jam-packed programme of exhibitions, talks, and workshops, which will take place both within the designed structures and in more unusual spaces around Cork allowing artists, creatives, food stylists, producers, designers, and makers, to discuss and showcase their work processes.

Creative Director of the Festival, Amy McKeogh, commented:

“In light of all that is happening with COVID-19, the Design Pop team has come to the decision to postpone the festival until 28th - 30th of August 2020. This is to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone participating in and attending the festival. 

Developments for the festival have paused and not stopped, I feel very lucky that we are in a position where we can reschedule our festival to a later date. The silver lining is that we have more time to make DP 2020 as fantastic as possible.”

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Look out for this favourite Rioja in the spring promotion at Supervalu.

Pagos de Labarca “AEX” Rioja (DOC) 2015, 13.5%, €20.00 (was 22.99 check) 

Wines from Finca Labarca in Rioja feature regularly on the Supervalu shelves. This AEX is a favourite of customers and also of wine buyer Kevin O’Callaghan. Keven has described this as "a blockbuster" and it certainly lives up to the billing.

Colour is a dark cherry.  Complex nose, intense dark fruits plus vanilla. Smooth and rounded, concentrated fruit, hints of spice and oak, fine tannins, and a persistent finish. AEX, I’m told,  stands for the Spanish Alta Expression, highest expression.

Produced from some exceptional Tempranillo grapes, this is a limited edition of 17,250 bottles. After fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the wine is left 15 days to macerate before malolactic fermentation and ageing on the lees in new American and French oak casks with different levels of toasting to give the wine the aromatic and flavour complexity it demands. After racking off the lees, the wine continues to age in the same casks.

Supervalu have included it in their Specially Sourced Signature Range. Try with beef and good hard cheese and serve at 17-20 degrees. 

A few of the other wines now on offer at Supervalu:
(March 26th until Wednesday April 15th 2020)

was €20.99
The Remy Ferbras is a handy bottle to have on your table at any time. Colour is ruby red and ripe dark fruits abound in the inviting mix of aromas. There is a great balance between the ripe fruit and spices, plus a hint of liquorice, impressive texture, full bodied and rounded. Pair with lamb and hard cheese. Note too that the Remy Ferbras Gigondas is reduced to €15 from €19.99. Another Rhone Red worth checking out, especially if you have steak in the house!

was €24.99
Not too much to say about this - just go out and buy and enjoy! This classic Chardonnay has beautiful intense white fruit aromas, peach the most prominent. Colour is a bright gold and there are amazing fruit and nut flavours, some spice too. The acidity too is outstanding. Fresh, with  a gorgeous mouthfeel and a long finish. Great, with seafood, roast chicken and ham.

Was €29.99
This sparkler won IWSC Silver Medal in 2015.  Judges' verdict: “Pale lemon-yellow, steady streams of small bubbles ; fresh, delicate aromas showing green apple and hints of red fruit behind, fresh bread; well-balanced with bracing acidity, richness across the mid-palate and lingering crisp finish. Harmonious wine.”

was €12
Lots of bubbles but here they don’t hang around. This is a Frizzante (gently sparkling) not a Spumante (fully sparkling) like the champagne. This calmer bottle is very very pleasant indeed. You’ll also note a different closure on it - use your normal corkscrew to get started.

Morale boosting window messaging by Cork's Market Lane


Picture Shows: Morale boosting window messaging created by Cork's Market Lane Group of Restaurants for their establishments in the Oliver Plunkett Street area of the city center including Market Lane, Elbow Lane Smokehouse & Brewery, Goldie and ORSO.
As a gesture of solidarity, this window display is now being used by several other businesses on the street which have also been forced to close. The initiative has also been getting lots of traction on social media from those who are still using the city centre. 
Any other establishments who would like to display these messages can download the artwork freely and find out more information from bitedesign.com/love-cork
Stay safe!    

press release

My Wild Atlantic Kitchen: Recipes and Recollections by Maura O'Connell Foley

My Wild Atlantic Kitchen: Recipes and Recollections 
A Snapshot of Maura O’Connell Foley’s Life and Culinary Career

My Wild Atlantic Kitchen: Recipes and Recollections is a compilation of Maura O’Connell Foley’s favourite recipes created throughout her career in Kenmare spanning over six decades. The dishes contained in the book follow Maura’s ethos of keeping food simple, cooking with care and using the best available local produce. 

Several years in the making, this book is a comprehensive collection capturing over 250 recipes of the food Maura has loved to cook throughout her life and successful career as a cook and restaurateur. My Wild Atlantic Kitchen features stand-out dishes from the first tea shop she and her mother Agnes opened in 1961, The Purple Heather Restaurant and Piano Bar, The Lime Tree Restaurant, Packie’s Food and Wine and also from Shelburne Lodge Guesthouse which she continues to run today with her husband Tom.

Maura said, “Over the years, I was approached on many occasions to write a book, but I just didn’t make the time. I finally put pen to paper, and I can tell you it has been a tremendous effort! The recipes are a diverse collection of the food I have loved to cook at various times in my life”.

Maura’s recipes are seasonal, classic and carefully organised into eight chapters in the book: Breakfast, Starters, Fish, Meat, Vegetables, Desserts & Baking, Sauces, Stocks & Staples, as well as a dedicated section on Dinner Parties. Examples include Drop Scone Pancakes with Dry Cured Bacon and Apple Syrup, Confit of Duck Leg with Pear and Ginger Salad, Twice Baked Hazelnut Goat’s Cheese Soufflé, Seafood Sausage with Beurre Blanc, Smoked Cod Cakes, Beef and Guinness Casserole, Dover Sole Stuffed with Atlantic Prawns and Brandy Cream Sauce, Chocolate Pots, Irish Barmbrack & Butter Pudding, and Spicy Apple and Rum Pudding  

Working in close collaboration with Kenmare based graphic designer Éamonn O’Sullivan of Anchor Studio, the project was very much a labour of love, with Maura and her family undertaking the task of lovingly creating a beautiful book that would be a testament to her years of hard work and dedication to her craft. Not only a cookbook, My Wild Atlantic Kitchen features Maura’s culinary recollections and stories woven throughout, accompanied by over 100 images of her recipes captured by Lynda Kenny and Maria Bell. In keeping with her love of art and the Irish landscape, the book includes photography by nationally renowned landscape photographer Norman McCloskey, illustrations by artist Christine Bowen and paintings from internationally acclaimed Irish artist Pauline Bewick. 

The foreword is written by Irish Michelin starred chef Derry Clarke of L'Ecrivain Restaurant in Dublin. He says “This book is the culmination of 60 years of passion, hard work and imagination and is a summary of Maura’s life working in busy kitchens. These recipes are timeless, classic and detailed. This is a book I feel every cook should have in their kitchen as there are so many brilliant and varied recipes. This is a book recording Maura’s legacy through the many years she has been at the forefront of Irish cooking. As a fellow chef, I am proud to know her and respect her for all her achievements.”

My Wild Atlantic Kitchen: Recipes and Recollections (RRP €35) is available from the 26th of March on Amazon or directly from www.mywildatlantickitchen.com and selected  independent bookstores, hotels and stores nationwide.

Keep up to date with the latest news by following My Wild Atlantic Kitchen on Instagram @MyWildAtlanticKitchen.

Maura is a formidable woman with a strong family history of women in the food business. Her grandmother was a cook in Boston in the late 1800’s. She returned to Kenmare in the 1930’s and built and owned her own grocery store.  

Since the early 1960’s Maura has been a chef owner of several successful businesses in Kenmare. Born in London during the war in 1942, she returned to Kenmare and opened a cake shop at the age of 19 with her mother, Agnes, who had worked as a professional baker in Fraser’s Tea Shop in Haverstock Hill, London. 

In 1963 Maura and Agnes expanded the business and opened  a restaurant, with Maura following her true passion of cooking in the kitchen mainly with fresh local fish including sole, cod, Atlantic prawns and lobster. She is largely self-taught, having completed a short course at Le Cordon Bleu in London in the 1960’s and undertaking stages with great chefs including Sonia Stevenson, the first woman to earn a Michelin star in the UK. 

As well as her culinary skills, she has great artistic flair, a keen eye for interiors and is a strong supporter of Irish art and crafts.  In the early 1980’s she renovated an old school house in Kenmare, where she had once been a student herself, and opened The Limetree restaurant with her husband Tom. During her tenure at The Limetree, she received great acclaim both nationally and internationally and earned a Michelin Red M. Later, in the early 90’s, she converted her uncle Packie’s grocery store to a more informal restaurant, simply called Packie’s Food and Wine. In 1990 she purchased a large run-down Georgian house and after five years of meticulous renovations Shelburne Lodge opened to guests in 1996. Maura and her husband Tom, continue to run Shelburne Lodge today.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Amuse Bouche

I was able to sneak down… to the dressing room and watch him tog on. Then I would go back to the Glenmorgan and watch him eat dinner. He used to mash everything up and then spoon the food into him and so that was how I had to eat my dinner. Every chap had a favourite player and Ring was my idol. 

from Christy Ring by Tim Horgan (2007). Very Highly Recommended. (The man quoted here is Tipperary hurler Jimmy Doyle).

Taste of the Week. Clonakilty Distillery's Minke Gin

Taste of the Week.
Clonakilty Distillery's Minke Gin

Distillery photo shows the gin with Rock Samphire, one of the botanicals.
The Minke Irish gin is our Taste of the Week. It is produced in West Cork by the new-ish Clonakilty Distillery. It is named after the whale, a regular off the coast here, and makes a refreshing and delightful impression on the palate.
Interestingly, two local botanicals (Sea Pink and Rock Samphire), are used.

The Minke is made here in a much smaller set-up compared to the adjacent whiskey stills. No less than five separate distillations are required to ensure that the best is extracted from each botanical. Then all five are blended together. “It’s an expensive way to make it but the best way,” said our guide Paddy who took us around when we visited last year. 

The process ensures that the likes of the Sea Pink (with its two week window) is at its freshest best and the use of fresh citrus (rather than dried) gives the Minke an edge as well. And you'll note that the juniper is not quite as prominent as in more traditional gins. None the worse for that. The aromas are attractive and the mouthfeel is close to velvety. Quite a harmonious and refined gin; our Taste of the Week is a lovely sip indeed.

The Waterfront
Co. Cork
Tel: (023) 887 8020

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Springtime Gems in O'Briens March/April Promotion

Springtime Gems in O'Briens March/April Promotion

You may know that I’m a Beaujolais fan and, in particular, of its crus, Fleurie (and Morgon of course) are perhaps my favourites. So I was quite confident opening this 2018, by top Burgundy producer Maison Jean Loron. The Gamay grapes for this wine come from a single 13 hectare estate covering some of the best terroir in Fleurie.The Gamay grape just loves pink granite and the salmon pink coloured granite soil here is just the job!

This 2018 Loron has an attractive robe of garnet. Aromas are rather complex with floral and fruit elements. Bright cherry and raspberry fruit flavours feature in the rich and rounded palate, a fresh acidity too, and gentle tannins plus the bonus of a sustained finish.

That acidity enhances its pairing capability. Serve at 15 degrees and suggested matches include lightly grilled lamb, medium flavoured vegetarian dishes, creamy cheeses, pork, cold meats, and roast chicken. This pure and juicy medium-bodied wine is Very Highly Recommended.

Colour of this unoaked Chardonnay is a light gold, very bright in the glass. The more exotic fruits (lime, grapefruit) feature in the inviting aromas. Quite an intense palate, fresh and full of crisp apple, a backbone of minerality and then a lingering and very satisfying finish. Very Highly Recommended.

Haven’t seen a serving temperature but I reckon ten degrees or a little less. Too cool will be better than too warm. Pair with oysters and other shellfish, fish, snails, vegetable salads and terrines, chicken, turkey and rabbit. Just at the time of writing, I’ve seen 12 to 14 degrees recommended. From my own experience though, I’d prefer to stick with the 10.

Domaine Jean-Marc Brochard is “one of the first wine producers in organic farming in Chablis and Burgundy”. Today they have 60 hectares certified organic farming and biodynamic 40 hectares. They started on the organic way in 1997 but are still gaining experience: “A learning every day for the domaine and its teams.” The winery itself is ultra modern, everything is stainless steel, and this Chardonnay gets some lees ageing.

More Tips from the Promotion

Les Secrets de Sophie  (12.95, was 16.95) - This Sauvignon Blanc from the Touraine is recommended in Wilson On Wine 2020. This comes under the Crisp Refreshing White style and is light with a snappy dry finish. John Wilson suggests trying it with a goat’s cheese salad, tomato salad, or Greek salad. “Sauvignon loves salads.”

Volé Volé Trebbiano (13.95, was 17.95) - I very much enjoyed this dry refreshing organic white a few months back.Very light straw colour, clean and bright. Aromas are of light intensity, more floral than fruity. Lightly apple flavoured (more citrusy if it warms up a bit in the glass) with a noticeable acidity, it is light and crisp and easy to drink. Light seafood dishes are a suggested match. Perhaps with a Goatsbridge trout salad.

Casa de Uco Organic Malbec (16.95, was 19.95) - Purple is the colour of this organic wine from a high altitude vineyard in the Mendoza region of Argentina. The rich aromas of ripe dark fruit rise to meet you. And on the palate the big flavours (plum, dark cherry and blackberry) are matched by an excellent acidity, a harmony relayed to the decent finish (not overly long). An immediately engaging wine.

Astrolabe Pinot Noir (21.95, was 25.95)  From Marlborough comes this excellent Pinot Noir. Aromas are cheerful, ripe fruits (cherry and berry). Full bodied, flavours of plum and brambly fruits, well balanced, the oak (11 months of it) harmoniously integrated, supple and silky in a long and totally satisfying finish.  

Stores opening times: 18th March to 26th April. Current hours 12.00pm-8.00pm daily; 12.30pm-8.00pm Sun. Subject to change - check before you go or order online.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Film of the 2019 Vintage at Villa Maria. Isolation-friendly!

Check out how the 2019 Vintage went at Villa Maria, Marlborough, New Zealand, in this 80 minute film: Vintage 

Thanks to Leslie Williams who shared the link in his weekly wine column in the Irish Examiner. Anyone with any other isolation-friendly ideas, especially food and wine links, share to cork dot billy at gmail dot com and I'll put them up here.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Amuse Bouche

As they stood there, taking their leave of each other, the cheeses seemed to stink even more. They all seemed to stink together, in a foul cacophony: from the oppressiveness of the heavy Dutch cheeses and the gruyères to the sharp alkaline note of the olivet. From the cantal, Cheshire, and goat’s milk came the sound of the bassoon, punctuated by the sudden, share notes of the neufchâtels, the troyes, and the mont-d’ors. Then the smells went wild and became completely jumbled….. The stench rose and spread… a huge sickening mixture.

from The Belly of Paris by Emile Zola (1873). Translation by Brian Nelson (2007). Very Highly Recommended.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Hands On Fun during Roe and Co Whiskey Tour in Dublin’s Liberties.

Hands On Fun during Roe and Co
 Whiskey Tour in Dublin’s Liberties.

We are sitting in a rather plush room. The lights are dim.There is a covered box on the table in front each of us. Eventually we are invited to flip the lid. In the box are three closed containers, a tube of liquid, a glass of whiskey, and two sections, one with malted barley, the other with corn (maize).

On the word, I squeeze a few drops of whiskey from the tube on to a palm and then rub my hand together, and smell the result. Now we open the three containers and use the old nostrils again. No 1 is sweet; “from the fermentation” says our guide. No 2 looks and smells like caramel and coffee; “from the distillation”. No 3 looks and smells like a piece of clove rock; “spice, from the maturation”. The barley and corn (maize) are there because this whiskey is a blend of malted and grain (aged in Bourbon casks).

We finish by tasting from the glass in the box. All the elements have now come together in harmony and we enjoy. What is a bit unusual about the new Roe and Co whiskey is that its ABV is 45 degrees, up on the usual forty.

The Roe master blender, Caroline Martin (a Scot), whose original brief was “to create a modern Irish whiskey”, went through over a multiple prototypes before eventually settling on this one. Then, she consulted widely again with the country’s bar staff. And the message that came back was that this higher alcohol mix was just the job for cocktails! So there you are.
Douglas Fir, Caroline insisting this was “essential” to the success of her process and project, was used here instead of the usual stainless steel.

You get a fair bit of fun in this new Dublin and, soon afterwards, in a different and well equipped room we each are assembling our own cocktail under the guidance of Shane. Again we did a bit of tasting, this time getting to know, by tasting of course, the five tastes: sour, sweet, bitter, umami and salt. We had all the essentials in front us including the all important jigger (20ml and 40ml) and whiskey of course. Not over impressed with my effort at first. It did seem to improve after a few minutes but by then we were heading downstairs to the bar for another drink, either a whiskey or a another professional made cocktail!
Wall of whiskey

No sails now on this old windmill tower
So who is this Roe? George Roe & Co helped build the golden era of Irish whiskey - this area of the Liberties was known as the Golden Triangle -  in the 19th century. Their distillery at Thomas Street in Dublin extended over 17 acres and they were Ireland's largest exporter of whiskey. As neighbours for hundreds of years George Roe & Co and Guinness were the two biggest names at the heart of Dublin’s historic brewing and distilling quarter. 

And now it is Guinness (through Diageo) that have opened this Roe distillery on the site of an old powerhouse. Our tour was called the Power House Tour. The original Roe distillery closed in 1926 and now all that remains is the distillery windmill tower (known as St Patrick’s and visible from the tour) and a pear tree that flowers to this day. Indeed, Shane told us the old tree is still fruiting and it and the tower are used as a marketing motif. In addition, a part of the old power house has been retained and you’ll see it on the tour.

For our twenty two euro each, we were promised a personalised experience. There were just five guests - a maximum of 16 is permitted - so we did enjoy the stories plus the sensorial tasting and cocktail workshop exploring the flavour and taste profile and that signature serve in the Power House Bar. Only over 18s are allowed.
Cocktail time

You also get to see the distillery itself, mostly from an overhead walkway. It opened last year so the whiskey used in the current offering has been distilled elsewhere on the island. The three stills are named Vision, Virtue and Valour. The middle one, Virtue, has a slightly different configuration to the others and is a gift from sister company Gordon’s Gin. All very impressive and Caroline and her crew here are all looking forward to their first whiskey which should see the light of day in 2022.

If you want to find out more about the various tours, read here

By the way, the Power House Bar is open to the public on Friday nights when they’ll be dishing out signature Roe & Co cocktails, great tunes and good vibes. 

Also on this trip: 
Kilmainham Gaol