Festival Food & Drink Favourites 2021
Eight Degrees and Bakestone in Happy Holiday Pairing
What were your food and drink favourites over the Christmas and New Year?
I’d say one of mine came at the end of the Christmas Day Dinner when we matched the Bakestone Pudding with a shared can of Eight Degrees Irish Oak-aged Barleywine. At 12.2% abv, this is a heavy hitter and needs respect. Pour a little into a wine glass and sip and enjoy. It went perfectly with the pudding from East Cork (you’ll find Bakestone at Cobh Cross - they’ve been there for years and, as well as a popular café, have a magnificent pantry of top notch Irish produce).
And so it was appropriate that it was two locally made products that topped our Christmas bill!
The Eight Degrees’ aromatic and multi-flavoured seasonal special was aged in especially rare Irish whiskey barrels that have been made from native Irish oak. Not alone did it pair with the rich and dark pudding but it also went well with the light and delicious Christmas cake from Barnabrow House (bought at Roughty Foodie) and also with the cheese course, notably with the Crozier Blue (via On The Pig’s Back).
Bubbles are usually associated with the festivities at this time of year and I was lucky to have a couple of delicious bottles of Prosecco on hand, each by Bottega. The Gold Prosecco Brut impressed for sure but it was the Bottega Rose Gold that really caught my attention. It is a terrific Spumante Brut rose, made from Pinot Noir grapes grown throughout the Veneto.
The hand painted bottles are not only eye-catching but "reflect the quality and care put into producing this wine”. Bottega do not use chemical-based products for their metallised bottles; this means the solvent for the varnish is water-based, instead of being oil or alcohol-based like more traditional varnishes.
It wasn’t just Prosecco of course. There was wine. We won’t go into too much detail just to say that we had an impressive pair via Liberty Wine for dinner on the big day. From South Africa came the Western Cape Momento, the country’s only Grenache Gris. And we made it a lovely Grenache double with the red, a Willunga 100 from the McLaren Vale in Australia.
You always need something extra to bring the best out of all the good stuff on the table at Christmas and two jars in particular were in regular use here. One was the Big Red Kitchen’s Spiced Plum and Port Jam and the other was the seasonal Ballymaloe Foods Cranberry and Mór Wild Berry Gin Sauce.
The Spiced Plum and Port Jam is very versatile, a match with paté, cheese and duck and we find it outstanding with Skeaghanore smoked duck breast and gives the Skeaghanore Confit Leg sweet hint of Asia. This year it also impressed with the Bakestone pudding. Nicola of the Red Kitchen combines ripe plums with a hint of warming cinnamon and port in this excellent seasonal preserve which is also wonderful with scones and bread. It won’t go to waste around here.
And neither did the Ballymaloe Foods Cranberry and Mór Wild Berry Gin Sauce. It certainly did what it says on the jar and enhanced the turkey (and the other meats) no end and also impressed when used with the cheese board. This blend of cranberries and the Irish gin proved indispensable over the week.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Cork Christmas without a helping of spiced beef on the table. No shortage here thankfully and, supplied (like the turkey and ham) by local craft butcher Chris Davidson, it was once again a highlight. Turkey and ham was pretty good too!
Another highlight was our order from Ummera Smokehouse in Timoleague, a box packed with chicken, duck, salmon (two ways), even rashers, all smoked and all delicious as always. Good use was made of this package over the holidays. Nothing like a bit of variety over the hols.
We did indeed use the Ummera smoked chicken on New Year’s Eve and later there were more holiday bubbles. It was now the turn of a super Beaumont des Crayères Vintage 2013 Fleur Blanche Blanc de Blancs Brut (via O’Briens Wines) to shine. Intense and exciting from the engaging first sip, with fountains of micro-bubbles powering upwards, with biscuity aromas and flavours and floral notes too, this is one of the better ones for sure. It is made from 100% Chardonnay and obviously 2013 was a very good year.
Let us hope that 2022 will also be a good one. Happy New Year to you all and fingers crossed that it will be better for all of us.