Thursday, February 29, 2024

Kildare's the place. Mum's the word!

Mother's Day Press release 

Kildare's the place. Mum's the word

Lawlor's Hotel

If you’re looking for the perfect Mother’s Day present, then don’t forget it’s your presence that makes the difference! So why not spend a precious afternoon with your Mum this year and get her a wonderful gift of afternoon tea. Into Kildare, Kildare Tourism Board has identified some great Afternoon Tea venues in Co. Kildare that offers a really sweet treat for your Mum.


Lawlor’s of Naas

Sit back and enjoy a splendid Afternoon Tea served in the lobby of Lawlor’s of Naas Hotel, exclusively on Saturday and Sundays.  If you fancy swapping tea for their “Tipsy Tea” why not upgrade to their refreshing pink prosecco and make it an afternoon to remember.

From €30 per person


The Court Yard Hotel

Indulge in a unique Afternoon Tea experience at the Court Yard Hotel, in Leixlip, County Kildare.  The cosy surrounds of the Court Yard Hotel's riverside lounge area of Steakhouse 1756 offers the perfect spot to relax and enjoy their afternoon tea which includes a wide selection of gourmet sandwiches, freshly baked scones, delicate pastries and desserts. 

From €30 per person

Pippin Tree at Killashee Hotel


Killashee Hotel

Chat over a delicious spread of dainty sandwiches and delightful pastries at the Pippin Tree in the Killashee Hotel located in Naas.  Served from 1-2.30pm daily in serene surroundings it’s the perfect treat for the mum in your life.

From €35 per person



Moyvalley Hotel and Golf Resort

A quintessential English custom Afternoon Tea has never gone out of fashion.  Nibbling on delicate sandwiches and homemade scones and pastries while relaxing with family and friends in luxury surroundings.  Moyvalley Hotel and Golf Resort in North County Kildare serves Afternoon Tea Monday to Saturday from 1pm to 4pm.

From €25 per person


Club Hotel @ Goffs

Treat yourself and the mum in your life to the age-old tradition of Afternoon Tea at The Club Hotel at Goffs. Enjoy fresh finger sandwiches alongside deliciously savoury tarts, quintessential homemade scones, and delicately delightful treats including Valrhona coffee mousse choux; Citrus yoghurt tea bread; and Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

From €35 per person

A NoteworthyTrio from Western Herd Brewery: Porter, Pilsner and Witbier

NoteworthyTrio from Western Herd

Porter, Pilsner and Witbier

Western Herd Turlough Porter, 4% ABV, 440 ml can.

Our Western Herd Turlough looks like a porter. Black as a December night in the Burren. The soft head has a slight coffee colour. Aromas are modestly floral. The hops though come through and take over on the palate with a chocolate twist, nothing too much though as there’s a good balance here, making the dry porter, with its smooth mouthfee l, easy to drink, before a crisp and satisfying finish.

Pretty much the perfect porter and Very Highly Recommended

Geek Bits


Dark ruby/black with a creamy head

Slight coffee and chocolate

Vanilla, coffee, chocolate, creamy and smooth mouthfeel

Willamette, Cascade

Pale, White Wheat, Caramunich III, CaraPils, Carafa I, Carafa III




The porter is named after the disappearing lakes of the limestone region of the Burren, “a uniquely Irish experience”.

Western Herd Back Beat Witbier, 5.0% ABV, 440 ml can

Our fruity herbal “witbier” from County Clare has a pale gold body and a soft white top. Perle and Saaz are the hops used, malts are Pale, Unmalted Wheat, and Torrified Wheat. A larger proportion of wheat as against barley gives the beer its character and name. The water is from their farm and the yeast is WB-06. I've tried a wide selection of beers by Western Herd over the past couple of weeks and this may be my favourite.

Witbier is almost always brewed with added spice or flavouring; here the brewers have chosen fresh orange peel and coriander and that comes through, in a balanced way, in both the aromas and flavours. And the finish is clean and crisp with a lingering aftertaste, again with citrus and coriander featuring. Clove is another regular in this type of beer and it too is here.

This Belgian-style Witbier is nicely balanced, well-produced and  Highly Recommended.

Loop Head on a foggy day.

Western Herd Loop Head Pilsner, 4.5% ABV, 440 ml can

My Loop Head Pilsner by Western Herd is a bit on the “foggy” side, not unlike the head itself on a bad day. Later, I declare myself happy with this pretty serious Pilsner. So if you’re toasting County Clare, put a Western Herd Pilsner in your glass and enjoy.

Plenty of bubbles rising through the murky light gold to a quickly thinning head. Yeast and malt on the slightly sour nose for sure. After that, the anticipated crisp clean Pilsner style comes through and we’ve got a central European lager to enjoy from the west coast of Ireland. 

And that was their plan all along, based on “a single malt and simple hop bill”. Hops were Saaz and Perle, the malt Pilsner, with a Lager yeast of course. Highly Recommended.

Pilsner is one of the main styles of European lager. But what exactly is it? Pilsner is a pale lager named after the Czech city of Pilsen from where it originated. This bright golden beer is typically crystal clear with a large amount of foam. Saaz hops are a must for this style offering a spiciness to the beer resulting in some earthy, floral, crisp flavours. A refreshing Pilsner is always a popular choice. The vast majority of beer drunk around the world is lager of one type or another. It is a style that micro-breweries should be sure to include in their portfolio.

Geek Bits


Straw colour and crystal clear.

Yeast and malt on the nose

Clean mouthfeel and malt forward with a slightly fruity and dry finish.

Saaz, Perle

Pilsner malt


Wednesday, February 28, 2024


press release





The Five-Star Anantara The Marker Dublin Hotel will launch its brand new Afternoon Tea offering on ‘Mother’s Day’, the 10th of March. The ‘Poetry and Places Afternoon Tea’ has been inspired by some of Ireland’s most famous poets and scribes and features the tastes and flavours of the country’s most iconic destinations.  The rugged cliffs of the west of Ireland and the wild and native flavours of the hedgerows are evocative in every sweet and savoury bite.  Ingredients such as wild Atlantic Sea salt from the west of Ireland and sweet and tangy berry flavours from the wild hedgerows are just some of the indigenous flavours and ingredients the pastry chefs have used to create unique delicacies that will provide you with a true sense and taste of Ireland.


This creative and truly unique culinary journey transports the guest through a literary journey via the lines of some of Ireland’s most famous poems while also paying homage to the most dramatic landscapes in the country. Guests will enjoy three pastries from ten themed delights. Flavours have been inspired by The Ring of Kerry, Achill Island, Valentia Island, The Wild Atlantic Way, Kilkenny Castle and Newgrange.


The menu also features a choice of delicate sandwiches, pastries, tea breads and homemade preserves. Sandwiches include choices such as Burren Organic Irish Oak Smoked Salmon with dill crème fraiche, served on a traditional soda bread. There’s also a roast beef, horseradish and Achill Island Sea Salt sandwich which presents robust and memorable flavours. Delicate cucumber and chive cream cheese sandwiches are light and refreshing while the corn-fed chicken, tarragon mayonnaise and brioche bun is smooth and deeply satisfying.

Gareth Mullins, Executive Head Chef at Anantara the Marker said, “We wanted to pay tribute to the many great local and indigenous flavours that are found in every corner of this country.  Artisan producers all around the country are making great products in small batches and often by hand. We searched high and low for the very best artisans whose products now sing from our plates.  For example, we created a gorgeous verrine with a bavarois of sheep’s milk yoghurt from Mayo, it features heather honey, oat crumble and is finished with a smoked Achill Island Sea Salt. Our Opera Cake was inspired by the steep cliffs that are found along much of the west coast and is flavoured with chocolate, rye and dillisk.”


On the literary side of the Afternoon Tea story, the poem, ‘Blackberry Picking’ by poet Seamus Heaney inspired the blackberry tart, which is seasoned with Wicklow blackberry wine, and topped with a clove meringue. Meanwhile, the poem, ‘Lilac’ by the contemporary poet, Martina Dalton provided the inspiration for the violet macaroon, with Berriolette curd and dried flowers.  Martina is in fact, the mother-in-law of the head pastry chef, Sebastian Ritzen, whose words, and evocative images have resulted in the creation of this tasty treat.

“One of Europe’s most popular attractions and historic cultural symbols of Dublin is of course, The Guinness Storehouse, home to the world’s most iconic beer,” said Gareth Mullins.  “As a tribute to this icon and a ‘thank you’ to Arthur Guinness, we have created a chocolate and Guinness cake to look like a perfect pint of the ‘black stuff’’.  He went on to say, “When you visit the Storehouse, and you absolutely should, they’ll show you how to pour a perfect pint yourself and now you can taste a mini, sweet version of that famous stout on our Afternoon Tea plate.”


He continued, “The famous Battenberg Cake is renowned at Afternoon Tea’s around the world, and we’ve put a unique twist on this iconic bake. It’s inspired by our own hotel’s geometric façade which we have replicated in the cake. The traditional pink and yellow sponge has been reimagined in white and chocolate and is enveloped in vanilla caramel”.


The menu also features a comprehensive range of botanic and fragrant teas and fruit infusions, in fact there are 16 varieties of Ronnefeldt Tea to choose from, all served in traditional Wedgewood China teacups.  Some unique flavours such as Cherry Cheesecake and Irish Chocolate Cream are on offer as well as an Irish Whiskey Cream tea, while seasonal flavours will be added throughout the year.  Guests can choose to add Bollinger bubbles to their afternoon if they so wish with a choice of Bollinger Champagnes on offer.


Michael Davern, The General Manager of Anantara The Marker Dublin Hotel said, “The theme of ‘journeys’ is central to the Anantara brand itself and so the idea of experiencing Ireland through taste is really interesting and appealing.  We hope people will join us on a culinary and poetic journey around the country and we look forward to welcoming old friends and new for Afternoon Tea. We are so proud of our pastry team lead by Sebastian Ritzen whose creativity and attention to detail really comes through in our new Afternoon Tea offering.”


Afternoon Tea at Anantara The Marker Dublin Hotel will launch on ‘Mother’s Day’, the 10th of March with complimentary live music in the Marker Bar & Lounge.  The menu price starts from €65 per person for the ‘Poetry and Places’ option to €100 for the Bollinger Rose Champagne Afternoon Tea.  Afternoon Tea will be served daily from 1pm to 4pm every day in the Marker Bar & Lounge and on the Terrace, weather permitting,  To book call                  (01) 687 5104 | E:

Church Lane trip well worth it, even in the rain.

 Church Lane trip well worth it, even in the rain.


While home-cooked Sunday lunches chez moi are hard to beat, the recent arrival of Church Lane in Midleton piqued my curiosity at the weekend. Though the morning's weather was "apocalyptic" in co-owner Barry Hennessey's words, a well-timed dry (ish) spell and a nearby car park saved the day.

Stepping inside, a glass of Chateau De Cedre Marcel pushed back the weather blues. The concise wine list, featuring four whites and reds by the glass, included this delightful Malbec, a terrific reminder that Cahors is the home of this grape and can still come up with some gems.

Church Lane offers daily lunch, dinner from Wednesday onwards and a Sunday roast special, and promises more exciting additions (my receipt even mentioned new specials!). Last Sunday's Roast of the Day, chosen by regulars through a competition run in the previous week, was lamb. 

Given the team's impressive credentials, including chef Jamie Cullinane's experience under London's Richard Corrigan and his work in renowned local establishments (such as Ardmore’s Cliff House, Mallow’s Longueville House and Castlemartyr Resort) , our expectations were high. Barry and his brother Colin Hennessey co-own the business and they did well to get Jamie on board.

The lamb, reasonably priced at €17.50, surpassed expectations. Perfectly cooked and accompanied by delicious roasties, well-done root vegetables, and a generous jug of gravy, it was a complete success. Sharing a bowl of smooth mashed potato further enhanced the experience.

While CL slightly prefers regular potatoes to the purple ones accompanying her well-presented Roasted Plaice with trout roe butter sauce, she still thoroughly enjoyed the dish. The presentation was equally appealing, quite a plateful, also at €17.50.

Desserts, often a disappointment even in high-end restaurants, pleasantly surprised us. The shortlist presented two winners: a seasonal Rhubarb, Crème Patisserie, and Beetroot Meringue, and my choice of the classic Vanilla Creme Brulée with shortbread. I found myself slightly favouring the seasonal offering (I begged a few spoonfuls).

Rhubarb dessert

Church Lane is a vibrant space. On entering from the street, you'll find the restaurant to the right, through a brick arch. The large bar is to your left, where dining is also available, an option often chosen by midweek diners. Weekends offer live music and the opportunity to watch a game in a lively atmosphere.

Quite a lot going on here and you may stay up to date by checking their Instagram or Facebook

By the time we made our exit, very happy with the food and the service, we were glad to see the rain had eased off as we didn’t fancy sprinting (😉 ) up the lane on a full stomach!

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Beer of the Week: The White Hag Silver Branch Apple Sour 2023

Beer of the Week

The White Hag Silver Branch Apple Sour 2023

5.0% ABV, 375 ml bottle Bradleys

The Silver Branch Apple Sour, a complex sour beer, has a mid-amber colour and a thin white head. You certainly get the orchard aromas from the wild fermentation Irish Cider. And it is tart on the palate where the apple juice and the Golden Ale base combine to good effect. If you really pay attention,  you'll find slight notes of malt. Brewers White Hag have once again done a great job here and this complex sour beer, with a refreshing finish, is well worth your attention!

The brewery says that Silver Branch “is perfect served with some Tart & Fruity Desserts”. Didn’t have anything handy, other than a regular supermarket apple tart, a pretty decent one as it turned out, but I do think these two were not made for each other.

The White Hag, as most of you know, are well into their myths and legends. It is no different here: “In Irish mythology, the Silver Branch of the apple tree represented a passport to the Otherworld of Tir na nÓg. The effect of the apple in this beer can also be considered a gateway to magic and rebirth.”

Here’s how the magic came about. “For this one, we reached out to our friends at MacIvors and put our heads together. We made a Golden blond and blended it with wild fermentation Irish Cider from MacIvors. We started with our very own locally harvested wild yeast; brewing a beautiful golden sour ale, then blended to create an ancient Celtic ale made with spontaneously fermented Bramley apple juice from MacIvor’s cidery, aged in French Chardonnay Barrels.”

(Check our updated Beer of the Week Index here)

Silver Branch is now available from the brewery webstore and these stellar beer outlets around Ireland 







Monday, February 26, 2024

"A great natural white for everyday drinking." Ciello Bianco Catarratto Terre Siciliane.

Ciello Bianco Catarratto Terre Siciliane (IGP) 2022, 12% ABV

"A great natural white for everyday drinking"

RRP: €14.50. Stockists include 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny

Le Caveau is well known, among other things of course, for their range of appealing house wines, and this Cantine Rallo Bianco is one of them. See and try it at both Ichigo Ichie and 51 Cornmarket along with its red sibling Nero D’Avola. Rallo vines are organically grown and the label boldly states that the fruit for the Bianco was harvested in the first ten days of September.

Colour is a hazy gold - the wine is unfiltered, hence the cloudiness. Aromas feature both floral and herbal elements. On the palate, it is full of energy and freshness with refined white fruit leading before a slightly salty finish. If you love a fragrant and crisp Italian white, you’ll hit the target with this gem from the island. 

A great natural white for everyday drinking and, easily drunk, is also the perfect entry-level natural white wine. It is organic, unfiltered, and unfined.

 Very Highly Recommended. Well priced too by the way. 

Catarratto is a native grape in Sicily and the name means cataract or waterfall (not the cloudy thing in your eyes!). Why this name?  According to Vino (2022), because of “the prodigal amounts of wine from what is the most common grape in Sicily and the second most common in all of Italy”.

It is ideal to pair with the Sicily's traditional pasta, such as pasta with sardines or with broccoli or still with soft cheeses. Good too with turbot, white meats and very appealing by itself!

Check out  our Top Wines 2024 list (with stockists and short reviews) here 

Looking for better value? All under 20 euro. Click here

Andrea Vesco, whose family bought the winery in the 90s, runs it with expert commitment personally and meticulously attends to all the stages of production from the cultivation of the grapes to the final bottling, with the strong support of a professional staff of 21 employees.

Since 2010, Rallo wines have been “produced and bottled at their origin by the grower”. Night harvesting and modern temperature-controlled fermentations result in bright, fresh, and outstanding wines. The results are evident in this fragrant, crisp Catarratto and its red sibling the perfumed, fresh Nero d'Avola.