Tuesday, June 30, 2020

An Easy-drinking Double From Two Of Sicily’s Most Popular Grapes

An Easy-drinking Double From Two Of Sicily’s Most Popular Grapes

Did you know that the the vineyard area of Sicily is among the largest in Italy? It's about 107,000 hectares, about twice the size of a region like Emilia-Romagna or Tuscany. Nero D'Avola is the most popular red grape here while Grillo is a well known white grape.

Zabu Nero D’Avola Sicily (DOC) 2018, 13%, €14.99
Baggot Street Wines, JJ O’Driscolls,  Martins, Drinkstore, Cinnamon Cottage, Power & Co, Red Island and www.wineolnline.ie

The Nero d’Avola grape, sometimes compared to Shiraz, is the most important and widely planted red wine grape variety in Sicily and is called after a town on the island. Importers Liberty Wines tell us the fruit for this wine is grown by Lake Arancio, in Sambuca di Sicilia. The crystal clear water of the lake creates an ideal microclimate for this eminently drinkable red.

A beautiful mid ruby colour. Attractive aromas also, fruity, floral, a hint of herb. Juicy cherries in a warm body, soft tannins contribute to its drinkability, and that juicy plummy fruit takes you through the persistent finish. Aged in stainless steel tanks, the wine is well balanced, uncomplicated maybe, but still an excellent companion for first courses, grilled and roasted meat, good with medium-aged cheeses, also as an aperitif. 

Serving temperature recommended is 16-18 degrees. Not too sure I’ve come across as light an Nero D’Avola as this. Highly Recommended.

Zabu Grillo Sicily (DOC) 2018, 12%, €15.99
Jus De Vine, Cinnamon Cottage, JJ O’Driscolls  and www.wineolnline.ie

Grillo is a Sicilian white grape variety most famous for its role in the island's fortified Marsala wines. Despite Marsala's decline in popularity, Grillo is still widely planted on the island.

Light to mid-straw, with tints of gold. Fresh on the nose, peach and citrus notes. Fruit-driven flavours (peach and citrus again)  on the palate, a refreshing wine with a long dry finish.  A nice light fresh and uncomplicated white wine. Recommended.

Suggested pairings:fish dishes (crab), fresh cheese, light risotto, couscous and fish soup. Great with smoked fish. Serving temperature: 10-12°C.

Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey and more on beers, wines and spirits in Cheers #10

Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey

The Shed Distillery by P. J. Rigney, distilling Irish Whiskey since 2014, have been on social media telling all about their Drumshanbo Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey. "Every precious drop distilled at The Shed Distillery with Irish oats; distiller Brian Taft; no colour added; non chill filtered.  #singlepotstill #historic #truth #drinkresponsibly #transparency #irishwhiskey

Stonewell Apple and 

Passion Fruit

Passion isn’t in short supply at Stonewell and there’s been plenty of it over the last ten years. It seemed logical therefore that our 10th anniversary seasonal cider in 2020 should reflect that. Inside this bottle you will find a fusion of fermented Jonagored, fresh apple juice and a hint of Natural passion fruit. A light yet fruity apple flavour with a hint of the tropics.
If we are not able to go to exotic places this summer, Stonewell is bringing exoticism to you. Sit down, put your feet up and enjoy a refreshing Stonewell Apple and Passion Fruit.

Western Herd Now Canning For First Time
Here's the story from the Clare Champion
We popped out to @WesternHerd in Kilmaley today who are canning beer for the first time and also launching a brand new double IPA called 'The Height', this is how it went. See more here.

Lambay Whiskey. A Winner Again

Congrats to  Lambay Whiskey on its 15th award for their Single Malt since first launched in 2018.

Wines Direct Get Cracking with Crianza.
Wines direct have a cracking case offer on crianza - check it out here

The Whale's Tail at Clonakilty Distillery
DJ Ronnie Costley at The Whale's Tail Restaurant this Saturday at 2pm

Ronnie Costley will be playing vintage vinyls at The Whale's Tail Restaurant this coming Saturday, July 4th at 2pm in aid of the front line staff workers at Clonakilty Hospital. Donations gratefully accepted.

Limited seating available with social distancing rules applied. Booking is essential.

Reserve a table online at www.thewhalestail.ie
call 023 88 78111

Monday, June 29, 2020

Taste of the Week. Yum Gelato's Raspberry Sorbeto

Taste of the Week.
Yum Gelato's Raspberry Sorbeto

How about a summer treat to brighten up these Covid days? Yum Gelato has just the job. 

Our latest Taste of the Week is Raspberry Sorbeto. An amazing concentration of real flavour in a cool tub of Italian style ice-cream made right here in Cork by Marcus Hodder. 

We added a few loganberries from the back garden (before the blackbirds could take them), spooned on the sorbet. Yummy! We could have been at the counter of the World Ice-cream Champion in San Gimignano.

Marcus has a whole range of flavours and they keep changing. Favourites stay around and new ones are added. They are widely available. I got mine in Bradley's, North Main St., Cork.

Yum Gelato also caters for private functions, weddings, confirmations & other events. Call Marcus at 086 884 1222 or check his Facebook https://www.facebook.com/yumgelatocork/

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Glad I Got The Glass Curtain At Home

Glad I Got The Glass Curtain At Home

From Thursday next, MacCurtain Street’s Glass Curtain will be welcoming the public back into their lovely new (more or less) restaurant. Like many others these past few months, they have been serving up dishes via a call and collect system and I’m glad I gave it a try at the weekend. It was superb and also that bit different.

Golden goujons
Their Friday menu offered: Fish Tacos - Panko breaded cod, pico de gallo, sweetcorn salsa, shredded cabbage, flour tortillas, bravas potatoes with lime chipotle aioli, fish skin chicharrones. Dessert was White chocolate and strawberry iced parfait. All for €40.00 for two people. Actually portions were quite generous and we had more than enough.

Cotton Ball Beers were available too and they also suggested a wine off their list: the lovely Verdejo by Bodegas Menade. And there was also the offer of their Pineapple Mezcal Margarita from the cocktail list. The drinks on the Saturday night were along the same lines with a Tempranillo from Castilla instead of the Verdejo. That red would have paired well with BBQ Brisket, house slaw, jalapeño cornbread, mac n’cheese  for two. Dessert: Chocolate chip cookies salted caramel sauce. On both nights, the Veggie Option was Veggie Tacos Panko.

In our case, there was, of course, a little bit of cooking to be done. The tortillas had to be rolled out and cooked in the frying pan while the patatas bravas were heated up in the oven. Simultaneously, the goujons were frying in oil, turning golden in no time. Indeed, the whole thing was ready in about 15 minutes.

And then we tucked into the feast, assembling the tacos with a bit of everything, the shredded crunchy white cabbage, the delicious grilled corn salsa and the tasty pico de gallo. The eight large goujons were top notch, the cod was a glistening white wrapped in its slightly spicy coating. No shortage of spicy bits but nothing too extreme once mixed in, not even the chipotle aioli and excellent spuds. And those fish skin chicharrones also added to the ensemble. Haven't had cod skin close to this since we enjoyed one on a baked white onion in Nerua, the Michelin starred restaurant in the Guggenheim in Bilbao.

Very happy with the Glass Curtain mains and we allowed a decent gap before tackling the dessert which had been in the freezer. And there was no letdown here either with the big tub of White chocolate and strawberry iced parfait. Very enjoyable and plenty of it, indeed so much that we left close to half for the following day!

The restaurant opened last December. Brian Murray and his team were doing very well indeed as we found on our January visit (check it out here). And then Covid put in a full stop. No wonder, they’re “delighted to be welcoming the public back into the restaurant from Thursday 2nd July. We will be starting with limited availability to ensure all possible steps are taken to protect patrons and staff alike.”  You may book your table now by visiting their website and clicking the reservations button here.

* Must say that our At Home (or Call & Collect) offerings over the past few weeks have all top notch. We stayed pretty local as we collected from Greene's, Micro's, and the Glass Curtain. Good Day Deli delivered and their offering was also of the highest quality. Best of luck to all the restaurants opening up this week. And do look out too for Call & Collect as these could well continue for some time to come.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Amuse Bouche

A young swan, neck curled and beak resting on her wing, lay on the gleaming silver. Surrounding the cygnet were medallions of meat soaked in black sauce……
‘My goodness, the talent of your cook. It looks still alive.”
We had never eaten swan before. Alice was showing her guests that she was as good as royal, heeded no churchman’s law, and neither should they.

from Her Kind by Niamh Boyce (2019). Highly Recommended.

Wednesday Walk on Corrin Hill

Wednesday Walk on Corrin Hill
Near Fermoy. 24th June 2020
Never very much colour in this wood. These "Foxgloves" are nearing the end of their display

Cuckoo Spit. That was our name (last century!) for this foamy stuff

A watery web on the briar

Fermoy, between the hill and the mountains

Looking NE (approx)

Looking south

See the motorway in middle of bottom half

Black Boar, Black Tower, JJ Corry. And more on wine, beer and spirits in Cheers #9

Black Boar, Black Tower, JJ Corry. And more on wine, beer and spirits in Cheers #9

Barrel Aged Black Boar and Barrel Aged Heather Ale Release
White Hag have finished packaging the Bourbon barrel aged Black Boar, and in a sign of the times this is the first time we have ever canned this beer. It will be available in a 330ml can.

In addition, our Beann Gulban Barrel aged Heather Sour is also being released. Having been packaged a number of weeks back, it has been bottle conditioned to perfection. It is available in a 375ml bottle, with cork and cage.  Read more here.

The JJ Corry Experience

Ireland's first modern Whiskey Bonder, J.J. Corry Irish Whiskey, has announced it will open its doors to guests from July 6th on their farm in Cooraclare. Pre-Bookings can be made now at www.jjcorry.com/experience.  The tour is strictly for over 18's but Dogs of any age on leads are welcome. Spaces are strictly limited and due to social distancing rules are by appointment via the website only.  

Spring into summer with Black Tower!

If you're lusting after just the right bottle for these sunny days and balmy nights, look no further. World-famous German wine brand, Black Tower is releasing a gorgeous limited-edition bottle for the warmer months. Adorned with delicate anemones, Black Tower Fruity White is sure to be a crowd pleaser at picnics and BBQs alike. 

Set to be this year's pick of the whites, Black Tower Fruity White is singing with flavour. Bursting with hints of fresh pineapple and lime flavours, Black Tower Fruity White is also great for washing down spicy chicken tacos or a sweet pork and chilli stir fry.
Widely available including Dunnes, Tesco, Supervalu,retailers nationwide, priced at €8.

Red Nose Wine - New Opening Hours
More details here on the hours, plus take a browses through all those lovely wines that Gary has lined up for the coming months.

Kinsale Mead Opens for Tours Again Mon 29th

Curious about Mead? Planning a Day Trip or Staycation to Kinsale?

Kinsale Mead Co. has been a hive of activity recently getting ready to re-open for their popular meadery tours and tastings on Monday 29th June. They are following the latest guidelines so their visitors can experience the tour safely. More details here

Cork Hotel Manager Honoured With Prestigious National Award

Cork Hotel Manager Honoured With Prestigious National Award

Cork’s Carrigaline Court Hotel are re-opening their doors with a spring in their step as they were honoured with three prestigious Irish Hotel Awards earlier this week, with general manager Jerry Healy (above) scooping the coveted national Hotel Manager of the Year Award.

The hotel, which will open its doors to the public again on Monday June 29th, also came out on top in two other categories, with Cosmin Trip winning the national award for Kitchen Porter of the Year, while Kate Goulding won Receptionist of the Year in the Munster region.

General manager Jerry Healy said the hotel were thrilled to have received the awards in advance of re-opening, and were very excited to welcome guests back to the hotel.

He said: “I’m delighted to have received the award and I see it as a recognition to the entire hotel team and the service they provide to our guests.

“We are very excited about reopening the hotel to both visitors and guests of our bar and restaurant and we’d like to extend our sincere thanks to all of our staff for working with us to help us get ready to open our doors again.”

The hotel will be opening in line with Government recommendations, with accommodation stays welcomed.

Collins Bar and the Bistro Restaurant will both re-open and residents and non-residents will once again be able to enjoy fresh morning pastries, breakfast, lunch and dinner at the hotel.

In line with current Government restrictions, the bar will only be able to host guests that wish to avail of food offerings on a table service basis. Guests will be encouraged to reserve a table in advance by contacting 021 4852100.

Mr Healy also said that the hotel was committed to keeping guests safe as a priority and have been working behind the scenes on developing new safety and hygiene practices known as the ‘Stay Safe’ approach.

He said this approach was taken to provide additional reassurance to guests:

“Perspex screens have been erected at the reception desk upon check-in, we also have a number of hand sanitiser stations on the premises. We have also enhanced our cleaning procedures and have introduced a one-way walking route to manage the flow of people, along with numerous other measures,”

“All staff have also been provided with the latest up-to-date training and information through the Staff Education Programme,” he added.

“To celebrate our reopening, the hotel is offering 20% off accommodation for stays across the Summer.” Mr Healy concluded.

Press release.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Gleeson’s Roscommon win another prestigious award. Great boost leading up to post-COVID opening

Gleeson’s Roscommon win another prestigious award
Great boost leading up to post-COVID opening 
Eamonn, Cait and Mary Gleeson.

Gleeson’s Roscommon has just been awarded the HotelsCombined Recognition of Excellence Award for 2020. This award is a recognition for consistently achieving the highest standards of customer satisfaction worldwide. The boutique townhouse hotel achieved an outstanding score of 9.1 out of 10 based on customer reviews from the Australian-based hotel price comparison website. 
“We are absolutely thrilled with this news”, said Cait Gleeson, General Manager and daughter of founders Eamonn and Mary Gleeson, “We pride ourselves on giving a really personal service to our guests and an award like this, based on guest reviews, is a wonderful endorsement of our staff.” This award is a recognition for consistently achieving the highest standards of customer satisfaction worldwide
“We are thrilled to be working with the best hotels in the Ireland. Gleeson's Roscommon has proven its place among them with this award and its commitment to providing high-quality services to all guests,” said Melinda Balazs, Hotel Awards Programme Manager at HotelsCombined. Gleeson's now joins an elite group of hotels around the world that have been awarded the HotelsCombined Recognition of Excellence. 
Looking well!
Gleeson’s is currently closed, like all other hotels and restaurants but the Gleeson’s have not been idle during the lockdown period. They’ve been busy refurbishing the restaurant as well as getting the entire premises ready for post-COVID opening. “As always, our guests are our first priority”, emphasized Eamonn Gleeson, “We’ve been busy making sure we adhere to all guidelines while still keeping that special Gleeson’s experience intact. We’re looking forward to opening and seeing all our friends and customers again.”

Gleeson’s Roscommon, in a listed building dating from 1872, is a well-known café and restaurant with period guestrooms. It’s well known for excellent food and hospitality which is underlined by this prestigious new award.
Media release

A Trio Of Interesting Whites To Enjoy. Sancerre. Sauve. Pay D'Oc.

A Trio Of Interesting Whites To Enjoy


Jacques-Frelin Sancerre (AOP) 2018, 12.5%, €26.60 Mary Pawle Wines

Sancerre is a small wine district in the Loire Valley, famous for its crisp, aromatic white wines made from Sauvignon Blanc. This one has a light gold colour with a tint of green. The pleasant aromas of this organic wine are both floral and mineral with gooseberry. A bracing acidity makes the taste buds sit up and take notice and what they notice is the apple and pear and citrus flavours, nothing over the top, all’s in balance. 

As it happens, there is a famous goats cheese (Chavignol) in the Loire Valley, a perfect match for the wine, which will also go well with fish and seafood. I’m certain the likes of Ardsallagh and St Tola would also pair well with it. Very Highly Recommended. Serving temperature is 10-12 degrees.

For over thirty years now, Jacques Frelin has been at the forefront of the organic wine movement in France. While organic is often associated with small, this is not the case with Frelin who has vineyards all over the country, in the Languedoc (where he is headquartered), in Gascony, in the Rhone and the Loire.

Fasoli Gino “Borgoletto” Soave (DOC) 2018, 12.5%, €15.55 Mary Pawle Wines

Mary Pawle imports quite a few well-priced wines and this 100% organic Garganega is one of them. It has a light straw colour, a pleasant bouquet both floral and fruity. Fresh and fruity on the palate, quite full-bodied, no shortage of acidity, with a long and dry finish. Highly Recommended.

The producers are also obviously very happy as they say, on the label, that it is “an ode to the terroir”. It is indeed a lovely easy-drinking wine and Fasoli Gino produce more Borgoletto than any other wine in their range. 

Their back label has most of the info you need, nicely and economically laid out: Vino Biologico. Hand picked 100% Garganega. Drink up to three years. And their social media addresses are also listed.

A dry, crisp, fruity white wine, Soave's naturally refreshing appeal led it to phenomenal popularity in the second half of the 20th century (pretty sure it was our wedding wine back in the day!). Wine-Searcher.com say it “is arguably the most famous white wine DOC in Italy”. But I think, most current Irish wine-drinkers would nominate Pinot Grigio as the most famous Italian white.

Domaine de Brau Chardonnay Pays d’Oc (IGT) 2018, 14%, €16.50 Mary Pawle

Colour is a lovely mid-gold. Fairly intense aromas of white fruit and a hint of honey. A pleasant burst of tropical fruit finds it way across the palate, rich and round, with an almost creamy mouthfeel it finishes well with increasing citrus notes. Lightly oaked and organic, this fresh and surprising Chardonnay is Very Highly Recommended. Well priced too and that’s a bonus!

This is made from 100% Chardonnay and fermented and matured in oak. A great food wine! Serve fresh at 10 - 12°C, with white meat, poultry and fish, grilled or in sauce.

Gabriel and Wenny Taris, of Chateau de Brau, are too close to the hard Languedoc ground to get carried way with romantic cliches - it is not sunshine all the way: "Not all vintages are exceptional. There are the weather conditions. And the weeds that we will never overcome. And the little beasts and larger animals who demand their share."

That they share with the little and large of the local animal world gives you the clue that the work here is more in cooperation with nature than against it.