Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Taste of the Week. On the double: Raw honeycomb and Berliner Brot

Taste of the Week

On the double: Raw honeycomb and Berliner Brot

Just one little slice of Berliner Brot will bring you to sweet heaven.

Raw honeycomb is a real delicacy of nature and our joint Taste of the Week. It is also one of the most efficient ways of storing the honey and I picked up my current honeycomb from Galtee Honey at the recent Ballymaloe Craft Fair. It is delicious plus any superlative you’d like to add.

Aoife runs the Galtee Honey Farm, just off the R639 north east of Mitchelstown. The honey is 100% fresh floral honey from the Galtees. It is seasonal and you won't find too many more this year but no harm in trying!

The short "season" for Berliner Brot lasts from the first day of advent until these beautiful sweet snacks run out probably, unless you hide them away, before Christmas. Addicts (and that is what will happen to you!) have waited patiently the past 11 months for the comeback of the most delicious Christmas German biscuit. 

I got a little bagful from Ryes and Shine at the regular Saturday morning stall (10.00am to 12.00pm) at St Lukes Cross . Baker Angela says: This is my German family’s secret recipe. .. These biscuits are so heavenly delicious - they are a little soft, gooey on the inside, and are packed with cocoa and walnuts. 

Ryes and Shine (086/3565036) is a German microbakery in Cork, a member of  #realbreadireland, specialising in organic artisan sourdough breads, especially rye.

These "biscuits" are amazing. As Angela says: A perfect little gift - if not to someone else, then to yourself!

* By the way, in honour of the location and of the help she has received from Henchy's, Angela has produced a superb St Luke's loaf. Watch out for that also!

The Imperial Hotel unveils Sketch dinner menu and opens its swanky new bar, No. 76

 press release

The Imperial Hotel unveils Sketch dinner menu 

and opens its swanky new bar, No. 76

Cork’s elegant Imperial Hotel has unveiled further plans to bring its food and drinks offering to the next level.

Due to its popularity, their botanical-themed Sketch venue on Pembroke Street will become the main restaurant, serving brunch, lunch and a newly designed dinner menu devised by the recently appointed Executive Head Chef Ali Honour. 

The menu, which will change regularly to ensure it features fresh local produce and to cut down on food waste, will feature small plates of appetisers and starters along with mouth-watering mains including Coconut, Ginger & Spinach Chicken; Braised Orange & Anise Duck Leg, Beef and Guinness Pie; a gourmet Double Cheeseburger with onion jam; roast pumpkin with coconut dahl; local fish and steak. Elevated desserts on offer include Cafe Gourmand, Blackberry and Bay Panna Cotta; Sticky Pear and Ginger Pudding with Butterscotch and Chantilly; Gubbeen Cheese with Cracker & Drunken Figs; and a limited edition ‘Grinchmas Misu’ to tie in with the hotel’s Grinch who stole Christmas theme.   

P. O’Connell Butchers, Ballycotton Seafood, Toonsbridge Dairy, The English Market, and Gulfstream, known for responsible and sustainable fishing, are some of the local producers that feature in the menu.

The restaurant, which is an oasis of informal charm, looks set to become a top spot to catch up with friends over delicious food and original locally sourced cocktails, like the Princess Grace, the Rebel Passion and the Season’s Diamond.

Meanwhile the Imperial’s former restaurant at their South Mall entrance has undergone a makeover and will be home to a swanky new barNo. 76.  The space has a new look and feel with a fresh navy and blue colour palette and specially commissioned wallpaper, based on the hotel’s dinnerware from 1890 and Cork landmarks behind each place on the pattern, which hold significant meaning for Cork’s oldest hotel.  Two plates from the dinner set were gifted to an employee named Annie Perrie for her wedding and were passed down to her eldest granddaughter who gifted them back to the hotel in 2018. 

Photo credits: Louis Tang @noirxtone (Instagram)

No. 76 will open Thursday to Sunday and will have live music every night in December, with an eclectic mix of lounge, soul and jazz.  There a fully stocked bar featuring the hotel’s signature cocktails which use 99% local ingredients signature, along with their own Imperial Pale Ale (IPA), which has an ‘8 miles to the tap’ ethos, locally brewed Cotton Ball craft beers, Guinness and Diageo products, spirits, and their popular European organic and vegan wines and Taittinger champagne flights. 

A range of light bites will be on offer at No. 76, which will also change depending on local supply. These include the hotels signature birdcage sharing platters and small plates like Macroom Burrata, Chickpea Flatbread with spicy carrot hummus, Crispy Goats Cheese, Ham Hock Rillettes, Crispy Cod, Crispy Brioche Beef Ragu, Smoked Mackerel along with snacks such as olives, mixed nuts and seeds or handmade crisps.

Commenting on the announcement, General Manager Bastien Peyraud said “We are proud to be a multi-award-winning hotel guided by a sustainable mindset. Our ethos is to constantly evolve, and we’re very excited to lift the lid on dinner at Sketch and launch our swanky new bar at No. 76, which will hopefully become a top spot to socialise in.

Both venues will feature an invisible cocktail for €5 with 0 calories and 100% of proceeds going to the Rebel Wheelers, who empower children and adults with a physical disability by introducing them to sports in a fun and safe environment.

Bookings can be made at

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Happy on The Hill. Badass Brunch at O’Mahony’s

Happy on The Hill. Badass Brunch at O’Mahony’s

Planet Dessert

Brunch in O’Mahony’s of Watergrasshill is that bit different. Certainly you may have your eggs and bacon and maple syrup and they do a French Toast. But the dishes here, based on local and seasonal, have their own outstanding character as we soon found out.

I suppose what really stands out when you scan the menu is the amount of local producers that are mentioned. That French toast is on Arbutus Bread and the bacon is from Fitzgerald's. 

Then, there’s Ardsallagh goats cheese, Adam’s eggs, Skeaghanore duck, Knockalara cheese, Glenbrook Farm pork, Goatsbridge trout caviar and also the marvellous Yum Gelato. On the drinks side (including cocktails) you’ll find Blackwater Distillery, Valentia Island Vermouth, Stonewell, 9 White Deer, Killahora and Blacks of Kinsale among others.

Rosti with duck, bacon and eggs

Our small group were soon sorted and the order went in. I was tempted by one of the specials: Rossmore Oysters, Spinach and Shallot and Vermouth Sauce but in the end went for the House Potato Rosti, Poached Adams Eggs hollandaise, Skeaghanore confit duck leg, and Fitzgerald’s streaky bacon. 

Quite a precarious stack but a lovely meal, everything cooked to perfection, full of gorgeous flavours and with a lovely crunchy texture in the rosti and bacon, soft in the eggs and the shredded duck was the usual high quality you expect from its West Cork producers. Another of our party also enjoyed this one.

Turbot and scallop special

CL meantime (who had her eye on the rosti initially), settled for the the other special: Turbot, scallops on toast with Langoustine sauce. “Settled for” is probably the wrong phrase as this drew envious glances as it was served and lived up to its promise. Another top notch dish from O’Mahony’s kitchen. Our fourth member enjoyed his Fitzgerald’s striploin steak, Adam eggs, chips and hollandaise, so a very happy quartet indeed.

And the finish was also superb, harmonious even as all four of us picked the Spiced crème brûlée tart, strawberry and cream Yum Gelato. That particular Gelato is perhaps my favourite of the extensive flavours from Yum Gelato and that tart was indeed well spiced (I think there was a decent drop of rum in there). Full marks too by the way for the coffees.

Steak, eggs, chips

They do evening meals there on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 5.30 and I got a copy of that menu. Much more extensive than lunch or brunch and every bit as tempting. 

Victor, who does front of house with Máire, told us that Chef Phelan is very strong on Italian and his Knockalara agnolotti, with Raw Lough Honey and Hazelnuts, has been known to stop the conversation when delivered to the table. So there’s a tip for you!

Lunch is served between noon and 3.00pm Thursday to Saturday. The brunch window on Sunday is 10.30 to 2.30. Bookings at 086 8316879 or

The Alternative Bread Company Celebrates 25 years in Business at the English Market, Cork

 The Alternative Bread Company Celebrates 25 years in Business at the English Market, Cork 

The renowned English Market stall, The Alternative Bread Company (ABC) is proudly celebrating 25 years in business this week. To thank its loyal customers for their support over the years, ABC is turning back the clocks and selling its range of artisan bread at the same price it was in 1997, all day today, Tuesday, 29th November 2022. 

 After working in London’s food and drink sector for some years, Sheila relocated to Cork in 1996 with her five children and spotted a gap in the market for artisan bread. The artisan bakery, founded by Sheila Fitzpatrick and master baker Paul Walsh, first opened its stall in the heart of Cork’s English Market in 1997.

Priding itself on offering the largest range of handmade bread in Ireland, ABC leads the way in innovation, selling a large range of handmade bread and baked goods, from a range of 100% organic sourdoughs, traditional Irish soda bread and Syrian flatbread, to a wide variety of gluten free, wheat free, dairy free and sugar free products. 

Sheila Fitzpatrick, founder of Alternative Bread Company, said: “We have had a brilliant 25 years in business. Since opening in ‘97, all of my five children and plenty of my nieces and nephews have worked in the stall in the English Market. We have met so many great people through the stall - such as Evonne McMahon our manager who has been with us for almost 20 years, our suppliers and customers, who have become like family. We want to give back to both those long-term and new customers to celebrate the occasion. What better way then to bring life back to the nineties for a day!”

The English Market is open 8am-6pm, Monday to Saturday (closed on Sundays & Bank Holidays). For more information and to keep up to date with the latest news, visit The English Market social media pages on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook or visit

press release

Monday, November 28, 2022

The Whiskey Bulletin. Killowen Pangur Poitín Final. Hip Flask Pressie. Powerscourt's Triple Distilled Celebration.

press releases 

Killowen Pangur Poitín
Cocktail Competition Final

Closing off '2022 - The Year of Poitín' - Tomorrow will see the grand final of our Pangur Poitín competition.
The talent within the competition has been phenomenal to this point and our two expert judges Chris Hennessy and Nathan Evans have settled on two finalists
Irish Whiskey Auctions will host the grand final in the beautiful JJ Sheehy’s Bar Dundalk. The show will kick off at 4pm Irish time, where the winner will be crowned, tune in for some entertainment prior to what will be a game changer in the Irish poitín category.

The two finalists of course are Ronan Collins, Co Down & Rory McGee, Co Cork.
YouTube Link 
Facebook Link 




Hip Flask Service


The Bradleys Hip Flask Service gives you the chance to taste some new, interesting & exceptional whiskeys without having to purchase a full bottle. To avail of the service, simply purchase one of our bespoke Bradleys Hip Flasks (€20). The flask effectively works as your membership card for the service and allows you to return and purchase refills as often as you wish. For this reason we only fill whiskeys into Bradleys Hip Flasks.

Your flask itself is stainless steel and holds 6 ounces, which is just less than 5 standard pub measures. The cover is faux leather and therefore, vegan friendly.

Each month we pick one whiskey of the month. This will either be a whiskey already available on the service at a special price or it will be a limited whiskey not already on the service which is hard to come by.

Fill prices vary depending on the whiskey chosen. The usual price range is between €13-€50, however, sometimes rare or discontinued whiskeys are added which may fall outside this range.

Between each fill, your flask should be rinsed and dried thoroughly. This will preserve the integrity of each individual whiskey. We recommend filling the flask 3/4 full with warm water and washing up liquid, capping it and giving it a good shake. Empty out and rinse with cold water until it runs clear, before finally leaving it to air dry.



Triple Distilled Celebration for The Powerscourt Distillery At 2022 Icons of Whisky Ireland Awards!

Last Thursday night at the 2022 edition of the Icons of Whisky Ireland Awards, The Powerscourt Distillery team enjoyed a triple celebration by taking home three awards. Paul Corbett was awarded Master Distiller/Master Blender; the Distillery Visitor Centre took home the Visitor Attraction award, while the In-House Food & Beverage Specialist Santina Kennedy was Highly Commended in the Campaign Innovatorcategory. The Awards took place in Dublin’s Iveagh Garden Hotel.


This huge personal achievement for Paul Corbett as  Master Distiller/Blender of the Year - Icon of Whisky Ireland means he will now go forward  to London on 30 th March,  where he will be included in the ‘World’s Best Icons Competition”.


This is the first significant award for the  Visitor Centre – Visitor Attractionand is a key milestone, and down to the wonderful work all of the centre’s team do daily, ensuring visitors get the 5-star treatment at every touchpoint on their visit to Powerscourt Distillery.


Finally, Santina Kennedy received a Highly Commended for Campaign Innovator– all down to Santina’s sterling work around the championing and promotion of the Fercullen Whiskey & local Food Pairing concept .



Wonderful Tasting Menu in Rare with chefs Meeran and Chad showcasing the Autumn bounty of Cork and Kerry

Wonderful Tasting Menu in Rare with chefs Meeran and Chad showcasing the Autumn bounty of Cork and Kerry

Teamwork. Concentration from chefs Meeran (right) and Chad (centre)

An rud is annamh is iontach!

Thought I might start with an old Irish proverb: what’s rare is wonderful.

And Kinsale’s Rare 1784 was certainly wonderful last Thursday night when Head Chef Meeran Manzoor and guest Chef Chad Byrne (Brehon Hotel) served up a six course festival of local food in one of the most comfortable dining rooms around.

Lots of nationalities involved in the kitchen and out front, including Rebel Cork and the Kingdom, plus a Rare crew that has people from India and Brazil and from places in between.

Chad, also well known for The Hungry Donkey food truck, brought a treasure trove of goodies from Kerry to the Blue Haven’s premier restaurant, including some of the finest cured and dried meats from Olivier in Dingle, Eileen’s black pudding from Annascaul, the famous Ardfert spuds, Wilma’s cheese, Venison from Beaufort, Wild Sloes and Cromane mussels.

Meeran, of course, has his finger on the pulse of all that’s best in Cork, particularly the growers and fishermen in and around Kinsale, and also adds a well judged touch of his native India. Both chefs and their crew were visible through a large window to the kitchen. They didn’t stay there, coming out regularly to detail the dishes and have a conversation or two with the tables.

And it wasn’t just in the kitchen that Rare excelled. The front of house team, led by restaurant manager Charlie, were busy but that didn’t mean they couldn’t have the odd chat with you. They came to the tables with big smiles, informal but on the ball, you never had to ask for water (or something stronger!).

Cheese, black pudding, potato

Quite a wine list! We started with two engaging whites. One was Carallan Albarino, a fine example of the wine of Rias Baixas,  quite pronounced on both the nose and fruity palate, excellent with the lighter dishes. The zesty Diez Siglos Verdejo, vibrant and intense, from Rueda (the home of the grape), paired well also with the earlier plates.

Love my BoJo

Later we moved on to two stunning reds. Gamay is always on my radar and I plumped for the organic Les Pépites Gneiss, fresh, fruity and nicely spicy. Big thumbs up for that and the same from the other side where CL renewed acquaintance with the multi-grape aromatic, fruity and intense (perfect with venison) Quinta do Judeu.

The dining started with the Organic Kerry Wild Meat Board (by Olivier), all kinds of tastes and textures (that soft goat chorizo!) and all superb. Then on to Jamie’s Oyster from nearby Oysterhaven, beautifully presented and accompanied by Alexander’s Jelly and a Ginger Beer Foam. Jamie’s oysters never disappoint and here the jelly and the foam enhanced it.

Scallop, Sole

And the plates just kept getting better. Eileen’s Annascaul Black Pudding made a huge tasty contribution as it combined with the renowned Ardsallagh Goats Cheese on an Ardfert potato skin!

Up next came the fish, a  two part perfectly cooked wonder with Union Hall Sole and Scallop in a Vol-au-Vent with a little Yuzu in the bisque. Chef Chad: “..really tasty dish of bang in season gear”.


For me the star course of the superb meal came with the Beaufort venison: Sika Deer, Cromane Mussels and Roasted Celeriac. The deer had been roasted for six to seven hours and was beautifully flavoured. The sloe jus was just amazing, a great fit with the meat. And that meat was as tender as can be, yielding easily to the blade of our  “chopper” knife!

A wee pause then before dessert came and that too was rather special: Chocolate, Salted Caramel and Kulfi. Meeran’s dark chocolate walnut cremeux was enhanced by Achill seasalt and Szechuan caramel and crunchy bits. Kulfi is a no-churn Indian ice cream. And there was also an Indian twist to the Petit Four that came in a mini-treasure chest!

Petit Fours

Quite a wonderful meal and occasion in Rare and there’s a promise of more. So do keep an eye on their socials!




Sunday, November 27, 2022

A Classy 20-Year-Old Tawny Port For Christmas. And a lively Sicilian white for the aperitif and lighter dishes.

A Classy 20-Year-Old Tawny Port For Christmas 

And a lively Sicilian white for the aperitif and lighter dishes.

Porto Ferreira Dona Antónia 20-Year-Old Tawny Port NV

RRP €55.99 Redmonds of Ranelagh. Clontarf Wines. World Wide Wines. Blackrock Cellar. Terroirs.

Colour is a pale tawny (as may be expected after all those years), with coppery hues. There’s an evolved unity about the aromatics but you may note dried fruit (figs, apricots), marmalade and wood smoke notes. In the mouth this  polished full-bodied wine is smooth and velvety. Superb flavours and aromas, not forgetting that balancing acidity, takes us all the way through to the delicious lingering finish. An amazing wine to be sipped and enjoyed and it is Very Highly Recommended.

This intense and complex Tawny is a blend of Ports between 15 and 40 years of age and local grapes such as Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão, Tinta Amarela are used.

Importers Liberty  Wine tells us Ferreira was founded in 1751, when the Port trade was dominated by British shippers. Ferreira is the oldest Portuguese Port house and remains the leader in the domestic market.

“It was under the leadership of Dona Antónia Adelaide Ferreira, one of the formidable widows of the world of wine, that the company became the force it is today. Not only was Dona Antónia an astute businesswoman, she also fought to improve quality of life for the impoverished people of the Douro, building schools and hospitals and supporting them during the phylloxera crisis." 

Dona Antónia was ahead of her time in recognising the importance of vineyard ownership to guarantee quality, at a point when most other Port houses bought bulk wine from farmers. By the time of her death in 1896, Ferreira had become the largest Douro landowner and owned many illustrious Quintas including Quinta do Vesúvio, Quinta de Vargellas and Quinta do Vale Meão.

Today, the 27-hectare ‘Quinta do Porto’ is Ferreira’s flagship vineyard. Planted in 1771 and acquired by Dona Antónia in 1863. A warmer mesoclimate, due to the south/south-west exposure of the terraced vineyards and the proximity to the river, results in ports characterised by an exuberant ripeness, exceptional concentration, weight and structure, yet wonderful balance. 

Old-vine parcels, described by winemaker Luís Sottomayor as “over retirement age”, produce low yields of intensely flavoured grapes and form the backbone of many of the top ports in the Ferreira range. The entire Quinta is dry farmed, sustainable practices are followed and harvesting is carried out by hand.

Here’s how Ferreira make their port: 

Upon arrival at the Quinta do Seixo winery, the grapes were destemmed and gently crushed. Fermentation took place in stainless-steel vats with vigorous punch downs to extract the ideal levels of colour, flavour and tannin before fortification. The ferment was closely monitored to determine the ideal moment to halt the fermentation by fortifying with grape spirit, leaving some of the grapes’ natural sugars. The wines remained in the Douro until the spring following the harvest when they were transported downstream to the historic Ferreira cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia for oxidative ageing in oak barrels.


Best Value Wines 2022 Under €18.00. With Reviews & Irish Stockists. 


Curatolo Arini Inzolia Terre Siciliane (IGP) 2021, 12%

RRP €19.99 The Village Greengrocer Castlemartyr / Myles Creek / The Cinnamon Cottage Cork /

The winery tells us that Inzolia, also known as Ansonica or Insolia, is the oldest Sicilian indigenous grape. It is usually of good quality and mostly found in a blend, most famously perhaps in the local Marsala.

Here it is on a solo! It is quite clean and bright in the glass with a lovely straw colour and a tint or two of green.  Aromas are a little on the shy side but you’ll get the citrus, the almond and even the blossom. It is mostly citrus on the palate and there is also a pleasing salty note and a fresh minerality through to the satisfactory finish. A lively little number and one to note. Highly Recommended. Serve with grilled fish, baked chicken, grilled vegetables.

Importers Liberty: Established in 1875 by Vito Curatolo Arini, the winery is now run by the fifth generation of the Curatolo family, making it the oldest family-owned Marsala producer. Alberto Antonini is the consultant winemaker and his influence is evident in the wines, combining the richness that Sicily can easily provide with the freshness only someone with Alberto’s experience can retain.

Following harvest, the grapes were de-stemmed and allowed to macerate on their skins before a gentle pressing. Fermentation took place at 15° in stainless steel tanks. The wine is then left on lees at least 6 months before being bottled and “as a result it is fresh and vibrant with beautiful aromatics and a very clear sense of place”.


Top Wines 2022. With Reviews & Irish Stockists.