Saturday, March 30, 2024

Taste of the Week. Juicy Pears from The Roughty Fruit King

Taste of the Week. 

Juicy Pears from The Roughty Fruit King

Calling all fruit lovers!

Today, we're featuring a taste sensation that's sure to tantalise your palate: unsprayed pears from The Roughty Fruit King at the English Market.

While you might be reaching for chocolate this weekend, don't underestimate the power of a gorgeous pear. These juicy and flavourful beauties are bursting with freshness and haven't been treated with any sprays.

Enjoy them your way! Bite right in for a burst of flavour or, as I did yesterday, slice them up for an extra dose of deliciousness. They're also perfect for poaching in red wine for a warm and comforting dessert.

Don't miss out on this taste of pure, unadulterated goodness! Head over to Margo Ann's Roughty Fruit in the English Market and grab your own bag of unsprayed pears today. Fairly priced too, by the way!

Friday, March 29, 2024

This delicious red carries Vin De France on its label but is none the worse for that! Famille Hubert L’Atypic de Peybonhomme.

Famille Hubert L’Atypic de Peybonhomme (Vin de France) 2021, 12.5% ABV

About €22.00 retail. Stockists: Sonas in Newcastle West, Co. Limerick & Wunderkaffee in Cork along with Mary Pawle

The delicious L'Atypic carries Vin De France on its label but is none the worse for that! 

The Cabernet Franc and Malbec blend may be well regularly used in Argentina but not so much in Bordeaux. And so we get the name, “The Atypic”. This atypical blend also means that it doesn't qualify for AOC and so is sold under the Vin De France designation. None the worse for that!

The colour of this wine is a deep ruby. Aromas are fresh and fruity. And that follows through to the palate, delicious fruity juice (blackberry and cherry) with a pleasant peppery bite. It is well-rounded with soft tannins.

The blend is 60% Cabernet Franc (a grape noted for its freshness) and 40% Malbec. The percentages may not be the same in every vintage. Highly Recommended.

L’Atypic is organic and fermentation is with natural grape yeasts. They say it is bottled early to “keep all the freshness of the fruit”. L'Atypic is raised entirely in concrete (and bottled unfiltered so expect some natural sediment at the bottom of the bottle). Cultivation here, since 2000, follows biodynamic practice. Lots of "hands-on" work involved.

It is not recommended to accompany fish but is otherwise quite versatile at the table (including with Charcuterie platters and tapas) and very enjoyable at the barbecue. Serve slightly chilled at 17-18°C.

The winery itself can be found in the Premières Côtes de Blaye on the right bank overlooking the Gironde estuary. If, like many Irish people, you have holidayed in the Royan area, you may well be familiar with these Famille Hubert wines from Peybonhomme as the vineyard is just 75 minutes or so away.


Thursday, March 28, 2024

Buds and Blossom

Buds and Blossom

Blarney Castle Gardens 


Wild Garlic

Blossom at the entrance

On the way to the castle

Walking to and from castle under a cover of spring blossom


Cashel Blue named Best Irish Cheese and Reserve Champion at British & Irish Cheese Awards

Cashel Blue named Best Irish Cheese and 

Reserve Champion at British & Irish Cheese Awards

Sarah Furno, Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers, Ian Thomas, Greenfields and Julius Longman, chairman of the British Cheese Awards. Photo: Mike Duberry

Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers in Co. Tipperary has landed the Best Irish Cheese and Reserve Champion trophies at the British & Irish Cheese Awards 2024, taking two of this year’s top honours with Cashel Blue, a characterful semi-soft blue cow’s milk cheese with a full flavour and signature tang. Held at the Bath & West Showground on Friday 22 March, the 28th British & Irish Cheese Awards assessed over 600 entries from across the UK and Ireland, before welcoming cheese lovers into the judging arena throughout the new Bath & West Food & Drink Festival.

All trophies were presented during the British & Irish Cheese Awards Dinner, with Snowdrop by Cote Hill in Lincolnshire taking the Supreme Champion trophy. Best English Cheese was awarded to Tor from White Lake Cheese, Best Scottish Cheese went to Minger from Highland Fine Cheeses and Best Welsh Cheese was awarded to Gafr Las from Bryngaer Goats.

Organised by The Royal Bath & West Society, the British & Irish Cheese Awards saw a 63-strong judging panel made up of cheesemakers, cheesemongers, cheese experts, buyers and commentators assessing entries in their individual classes during the morning session, awarding Bronze, Silver and Gold accolades. During the second round, all Gold award winners from each category were judged alongside one another to identify the category winners, before all category winners were judged in the final round to find this year’s Supreme Champion and Reserve Champion.

Hosted for the first time by the new Bath & West Food & Drink Festival, the British & Irish Cheese Awards invited festival visitors to sample some of this year’s entries over the course of the weekend and to cast their votes in the People’s Choice Award.

press release

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Big congrats to Stonewell Ciders who have been awarded two Golds and a Silver at Cidermaking Industry ‘Oscars'

 Stonewell Cider Gains Global Recognition 

at Cidermaking Industry ‘Oscars’

Big congrats to all at Stonewell Ciders who have been awarded two Golds and a Silver in the Cider with Other Fruits & Flowers, the Open Class and the Modern Cider categories respectively at the International Brewing & Cider Awards 2024, specifically Rós (Rhubarb & Apple Cider), Tawny 10 and Stonewell Cider Medium Dry.

Following three days of deliberation from an international panel of 38 judges from around the world, 115 medals were awarded to beers and ciders including winners from Cambodia, China, Czech Republic, Ireland, Finland, Norway, Taiwan, Thailand, USA and the UK.  

For the first time in its 138-year history, Manchester hosted the brewing industry ‘Oscars’ which date back to 1886 and have a rich history championing the world’s best brewers and cider-makers.

The International Brewing & Cider Awards relocated to Depot Mayfield in Manchester this year and – in another first – was accompanied by a public festival. The two-day International Brewing & Cider Festival will provide a rare opportunity for the public to sample the range of beers and ciders entered into the competition, including the award-winners. 

Stonewell's Daniel Emerson tasting.
The judging for The International Brewing & Cider Awards took place over three days between 19th – 21st March and provided an unparalleled opportunity for brewers and cidermakers to have their products evaluated by internationally acclaimed, commercially practising international brewers and cidermakers, led by Chair of Beer Judging, Rob McCaig and Chair of Cider Judging, Gabe Cook. 

Ruth Evans MBE, Director of the International Brewing & Cider Awards, said: “It’s been an honour to recognise and celebrate the extraordinary beers and ciders across the world at our new home here in Manchester.

“We support the brewing and cidermaking industry on a not-for-profit basis, and the Awards has a long and rich history championing the best beers and ciders going into the market. 

“This week, we’ve had some of the best brewers and cidermakers in the world judge our prestigious competition and I’d like to personally thank all of them, as well as all the brewers and cidermakers who entered their products to make this year’s Awards one to remember. 

“We’re thrilled to be able to continue to provide a platform to reward the best beers and ciders with the recognition they so truly deserve. And for the first time ever expand to launch our Festival, providing the public a chance to sample these award-winning drinks from the most extensive collection of international beers and cider in Europe.”

Rob McCaig, Chair of Beer Judging, said: “We’ve had such an outstanding lineup of judges from all corners of the world, and they’ve all done a remarkable job tasting and evaluating some of the finest beers from around the globe. 

“This year proved to be one of the toughest yet to determine which of the beers were deserving of a medal. We had an exceptional amount of great quality beers enter this year, making the job of our judging panel extremely difficult. It’s a shame we couldn’t award more medals, as there were so many beers that were deserving of the accolade – some of which narrowly missed out. 

“We saw a significant increase in entries in the Non & Low Alcohol category, which reflects the growing demand in the industry, and also saw an influx of international brewers enter the Smallpack Ale category, which is very promising. Historically, this category has often been dominated by the UK, but this year saw the inclusion of breweries from Japan, North America and South America.”   

Gabe Cook, Chair of Cider Judging, said: “It has been a great pleasure once again to chair the world’s premier cider competition. This year has been the best calibre of judges we’ve ever had, coming from all over the world including Japan, Latvia, Norway, USA, Spain and the UK. 

A winner!

“The incredible global range has also been reflected in the cider entries, with entries arriving from Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe and North America. 

“This has undoubtedly been the most difficult competition to judge – the quality of ciders has been truly, so high. It’s great to see that cidermakers have been upping their game on the quality, and those that were awarded a medal in their category is a recognition truly deserved. 

“We have seen a lot of fun and playful ciders being entered into the Open Class, which provides cidermakers with a bit of freedom to do something a little different, which is always nice to see.” 

The competition’s unique approach to the judging process sets it apart from other awards, which ensures each beer and cider is judged fairly and rigorously on its quality and commercial value. The 38-strong judging panel was chosen to reflect the current expertise in the tasting and commercial evaluation of beers and ciders going into the market and blind tasted hundreds of beers and ciders submitted by brewers and cidermakers from around the world. It is these values that has earnt it the reputation as the ‘Oscars of the brewing and cider world’.  

All the gold, silver and bronze medal winners announced at Depot Mayfield, Manchester will collect their medals at an official Awards Ceremony on 1st May 2024 at The Guildhall in London, when 12 trophy winners will also be announced.

A full list of all 2024 medal winners can be found on The International Brewing & Cider Awards’ website: 

The International Brewing & Cider Awards 2024 are supported by headline sponsors; Barth-Haas Group, Krones and Fermentis. Trophy sponsors include; drinktech + Marketing, The Morning Advertiser, Brauwelt, BFBI, All Party Parliamentary Beer Group, British Guild of Beer Writers, and Institute of Brewing & Distilling. 


In Praise of East Cork. Food. People. Place. Worth a Visit!

 In Praise of East Cork.

Food. People. Place. Worth a Visit!
Tasting of the best smoked fish included in guided tour of Hederman Smokery in Belvelly Cobh.

Friendly people, great food, coastal and inland attractions, make East Cork a gem of a place to visit. From the fantastic 13th century St Mary’s Collegiate Church in Youghal to high class Gardens and Arboretum at Fota, both free to enter, there is a treasure chest of places to visit in the area.

Beer of the Week. Galway Bay Lush Extra Pale Ale

Beer of the Week

Galway Bay Lush Extra Pale Ale, 4.3% ABV, 

440 ml can Bradleys

This new Galway Bay beer has a beautiful gold colour with micro-bubbles racing towards the soft white head. Mosaic and Citra hops blend perfectly, creating a mixture of citrus notes, pine, and tropical flavours. 

Built on a light base of Marris Otter and Pale Malts, with a touch of wheat, the beer is well-balanced and easy to drink. The brewery has declared it as one of their core beers and a new permanent fixture in their range.

I had an initial wariness of the name Lush (I thought it may be too fruity), but the beer is crisp, citrusy, and hoppy, with subtle bitterness and juicy flavours. It falls between their West Coast and hazy beers and is a great session beer at 4.3%. 

Very Highly Recommended and my Beer of the Week.


Redbreast Cuatro Barriles Edition


Redbreast Irish Whiskey, produced by Irish Distillers at its world-renowned Midleton Distillery in Co. Cork, Ireland, proudly presents Redbreast Cuatro Barriles Edition. The extraordinary single pot still Irish whiskey has launched exclusively to Global Travel Retail available now at Dublin and Cork Duty Free, Ireland, at €108 RRP and forms part of the Redbreast Iberian Series.

This exceptional expression has been created by marrying together whiskey aged in four distinct cask types – American ex-bourbon, Spanish oloroso sherry butts, Portuguese tawny port hogsheads and European virgin oak casks. Featuring this unique and rare combination of casks, the whiskey offers extraordinary complexity, with waves of sweet spices, delicate wine tannins, generous dark berry notes and subtle oak tones. Redbreast Cuatro Barriles Edition embodies the symphony of flavours from each barrel, instantly transporting the consumer across the Bodegas of Spain and Portugal, to the bright warmth of the Iberian Peninsula with each sip.

Dublin International Airport, which welcomed almost 32 million travellers in 2023 and is connected to over 190 destinations worldwide, and Cork Airport, the international gateway to the South of Ireland, represent incredible launchpads for the exquisite new GTR exclusive from Redbreast in its flagship home, where the brand carries iconic status. Brought to life in the stunning retail environments, amongst so many prestigious brands, including local heroes, Redbreast Cuatro Barriles Edition is in truly excellent company.image.png
Following the 2023 limited-edition release of Redbreast Tawny Port Edition, Redbreast Cuatro Barriles Edition marks the fourth expression in the award-wining Redbreast Iberian Series, which is inspired by Redbreast’s long-standing connection to some of the Iberian Peninsula’s most celebrated cooperages and winemakers. Each release combines the craft and rich heritage of the region with the excellence of Midleton Distillery’s single pot still whiskeys to create expressions that are truly remarkable. 
Redbreast Cuatro Barriles Edition is a significant new chapter to the brand's portfolio, showcasing the brand’s commitment to the exploration of new flavour profiles, adding depth to Redbreast's celebrated line-up.

The use of Oloroso sherry butts and ex-bourbon barrels, synonymous with the renowned Redbreast Iberian Series, remain as a cornerstone for the expression. These barrels, integral to Redbreast's identity, pay homage to the brand’s legacy and ongoing success. The influence of the Oloroso sherry seasoning imparts notes of dried fruits, orange peel and nutty undertones, while the use of ex-bourbon barrels contribute aromas of sweet vanilla, toasted oak and dustings of nutmeg.  

Meanwhile, the use of the tawny port hogsheads and pristine European virgin oak casks add a new dimension to this storied blend. The inclusion of these two casks signifies a creative new chapter in Redbreast's journey, that began during the Midleton Distillery teams’ travels across the Iberian Peninsula. 
The delicately drying tannins from the virgin oak barrel add structure and body to the mouthfeel, magnifying the depth and complexity of this wonderfully balanced whiskey. The use of tawny port seasoned casks contributes delicate hints of smoked almonds, praline and dark berry fruits adding further complexity to the adventurous array of flavours in this new expression.

The dynamic quartet of barrels work in harmony, marrying together the core of Redbreast’s distinguished identity with a unique twist. The result is a whiskey that seamlessly weaves tradition with innovation, a testament to Redbreast's devotion to both its heritage and the pursuit of new and exciting taste experiences for its consumers.

Master Blender, Dave McCabe expands: “There's a profound joy in creating a whiskey that mirrors the vibrant journey taken to create it, so I am delighted that the flavour of the final liquid is reminiscent of our travels, encapsulating each encounter, all of which have played a pivotal role in shaping the Redbreast Iberian Series to this day. Redbreast Cuatro Barriles Edition is a harmonious whiskey, echoing the diversity and richness of the outstanding barrels we have found across the Iberian Peninsula, and I can’t wait for both enthusiasts and those new to the range to experience it first-hand.”

Redbreast Cuatro Barriles Edition invites the discerning traveller to explore the distinctive influence of each barrel and savour the combined story of craftsmanship and adventure. Redbreast Cuatro Barriles Edition is bottled at 46% ABV and is exclusively available now through Global Travel Retail at Dublin and Cork Duty Free at €108 RRP.

IG: @RedbreastIrishWhiskey        #RedbreastCuatroBarrilesEdition   #PassItOn
Link to purchase:

Whiskey Press Releases 


Born from an alchemy of four distinct barrels, the second permanent expression in Redbreast’s award-winning Iberian Series transports whiskey lovers to the sun-drenched corners of Spain and Portugal.

Tasting Notes:
Nose: Toasted wood with a decadent and enticing selection of fresh and dried fruits, including notes of freshly picked plums, raisins, fig, and orange peel. Aromas of sweet vanilla with light dustings of nutmeg are carefully balanced by nutty and herbal undertones, while the pot still spices enhance the overall body and complexity of this wonderfully balanced whiskey.

Taste: Rich with spices of cinnamon and nutmeg at first with delicately drying tannins thanks to the toasted oak and wine seasoning. The spices quickly subside to reveal generous waves of dark berry fruits with marzipan, smoked almonds and salted caramel.
Finish: Satisfyingly long. The pot still spices are the first to fade, while leaving the oak and fruits to continue lingering effortlessly until the very end.





Tuesday, March 26, 2024

A Sicilian gem by the dynamic Vesco family. Ciello Rosso ‘Nero d’Avola’

Ciello Rosso ‘Nero d’Avola’ Sicilia (DOP) 2022, 12.5% ABV

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

A Sicilian gem by the dynamic Vesco family

This sprightly Sicilian red, crafted by the dynamic Vesco family, is fighting fit and full of freshness and vitality. Made from organically grown Nero d'Avola grapes, it boasts a  ruby hue (not quite the vino nero that it is often called) and an enticing bouquet of black plum, hints of coffee, and subtle chocolate notes. On the palate, the wine sings of the high hills with a pleasant spiciness and smooth dark fruit flavours.

Sustainable viticultural practices

Nearly two decades ago, the Vesco family took the helm at the winery, implementing sustainable viticultural practices and investing in cutting-edge technology. Their commitment to quality shines through in their organic vineyards perched high in the hills above Alcamo.

Ideal Terroir, Exceptional Results

Certified organic and planted on southeast-facing slopes with sandy soils (150-300 meters above sea level), the vineyards benefit from a climate perfectly suited for nurturing high-quality grapes.

Ciello Rosso's grapes are harvested earlier than many in the region, contributing to the wine's characteristically bright and fresh style. Night harvesting and modern temperature-controlled fermentation further ensure the vibrancy and freshness of the final product.

Stands out from the crowd

Ciello Rosso stands out from the crowd. Unlike some overripe styles, this Nero d'Avola offers a refreshing and contemporary expression of the grape. The result? A delightful and versatile wine, perfect for enjoying on its own or paired with food. See also our recent review of their matching white, the Ciello Blanco Cattarrato; both are terrific natural wines for everyday drinking, a pair perfect for conversation rather than meditation.

Naturally Nourished settling in well at North Point

 Naturally Nourished settling in well at North Point

Called out to North Point on the Mallow Road for lunch last week. This is the third outlet for Naturally Nourished who are already well-established in Mahon at City Gate and also in Penrose Dock. They were open for about a week when I dropped in and there was a steady stream of customers coming and going. Aside from sit-down meals, they also offer a takeout service and I managed to draw from both before the day was out.

Like their other premises, this one is bright and airy (after a ten-day revamp), lots of white paint used inside, to complement the light already coming through the existing "walls" of glass here. The menu boards (also white) are large and easily seen above the counters though the menu is not (yet) as expansive as that in Penrose Dock. If you know the place, you'll know that Lemon Pepper were the most recent occupiers and that Perry Street were also based here.

A blackboard on the ground just inside the door was dedicated to the specials and the main feature was a Katsu Curry; free-range breaded chicken, house Katsu Sauce, white basmati rice, Spring onion, sesame seeds, pickled onion, pickled Carrot (veggie option also available). The Soup of the Day was Leek and Potato with their own (excellent) stout bread.

Naturally Nourished are noted for their Warm Bowls and they were also tempting but we went for two dishes from the salad selection, each at €10.50. CL had missed out on their Goats Cheese in Penrose recently so she made up for it here with slightly "flamed" Chevre, mixed leaves, chopped beetroot, chopped dates, pink lady apple, lemon and bulgar wheat, roasted hazelnuts, honey and balsamic dressing. It was top-class!

My pick in North Point was the Buffalo Chicken Salad. This is made with free-range crispy breaded chicken, cos lettuce, spiced chickpeas, red onion, hot sauce and Cashel Blue cheese ranch. Another superb salad, every element playing a tasty part and I loved every bit from the crispy lettuce to the delicious chicken, not to mention the hot bits! I'm not surprised that it is the most popular salad on the menu! See more (a short in-house video) on it here.

Depending on your branch, you may get slightly different versions of a particular dish. Besides, since variety is the spice of life, th
ey regularly make little or big changes.

I was looking at the display of sandwiches as we made our way out and said to myself that one would come in handy later in the day! I must have been inspired as it was one of the best sandwiches ever. My baguette (well, a half) was rammed with amazing spiced beef, mature cheddar, a delicious crunchy coleslaw, fresh leaves and a marvellous mustard mayo. What a flavoursome feed for €7.50 approximately (can't remember the exact price!).

The North Point café is open Monday to Friday 8am-3:30pm, serving breakfast till 11am and lunch till 2.30pm. Free on-site parking. Service here is excellent, friendly and helpful, just as we found it in Penrose a few weeks back.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Recommended Craft Ales from Killarney Brewing, Hopfully and Wicklow Wolf

Recommended Craft Ales from Killarney Brewing, Hopfully and Wicklow Wolf 

Killarney Full Circle IPA, 5% ABV, 500 ml bottle, O’Donovan’s

The colour is close to amber, a little darker than you might expect. All American hops are used here and the aromas make that clear from the moment you flip the cap. 

The soft head collapses soon enough onto the slightly hazy body. The hops are not identified on the label but the ensemble brings quite a current of deep flavour with dry bitterness (IBU is 42) clearly displayed at the finalé. Easy to see why it is now part of their core range. No pairings seen but I found it very compatible with a mature cheddar.

Highly Recommended.

Full Circle? “Emigration has forever been at the heart of Irish history.  From the mid 1800’s onwards, generations left these shores destined for the land of opportunity.  Over a century on, life’s journey has come full circle and their progeny are returning home.  This is a story illustrated by our Head Brewer Mike, who with his wife and daughter, have brought back to Kerry this USA branch of their family tree.”

The big news though is that tours are now possible at the impressive new facility (brewery and distillery) out in Fossa. “The team are working hard .… As Tim O’D, one of our founders, would say, we haven’t been drinking a lot of beer, just a lot of coffee!’

The new building includes salvaged red brick imported directly from the Windy City of Chicago. If they could talk, no doubt an Irish accent could be heard in the original laying. They now take pride of place in the main stairwell of the new visitor centre.

Plan your visit and tour to Killarney Brewing & Distilling Co in Fossa, Ireland’s largest co-located and independently owned Brewery, Distillery and Visitor Centre. Visit the new brewery, learn how the beers are made, see the brewing team making the magic happen, enjoy the aromas of the day’s brew and finally visit the tasting room to sample the product. 

For groups of 10 or more please contact Otherwise, book here.  

The original and very popular Taproom on Muckross Road, quite close to the town centre, operates on a walk-in basis, Wednesday through Sunday, 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm.

Wicklow Wolf Sugarloaf Juicy IPA, 4.3% ABV, 440 ml can Bradleys

Wicklow Wolf commandeered a heavy-hitting quartet of tropical hops for their Sugarloaf (you’ll know where the name comes from). The tropical notes and flavours dominate though you’ll also notice citrus and pine in there. 

The colour of their new core beer is a hazy yellow and there’s a creamy mouthfeel, with a barely noticeable bitterness. But it is well-balanced and the tropical fruits are nicely rounded. Still, this is one for you if you’re a fruit head! Another well-made beer from the Wicklow aces and definitely one for your shortlist.

The relatively low ABV of 4.3% certainly puts this it into the Session category where it sits as an outstanding example. Highly Recommended.

Geek Bits

Hops - Idaho 7, Chinook, Sabro and Citra.

Malts - Pale, Wheat Malt, Oats, Cara Ruby

Hopfully Inside Out Pale Ale, 5.0% ABV, 440 ml can Bradley

In its early days, Hopfully was known as a gipsy or contract brewery, making beers wherever they were welcome to borrow an established brewery’s kit. Metalman in Waterford was one such “host” and nowadays, with the Deise brewers retired, you’ll find Hopfully fully at home in that very brewery.

Hopfully has been more than generous with the amounts of Mosaic and Strata hops used in the pale ale and they are very happy with the results: ”lovely notes of bright juicy tangerine, citrus, and pine aromas”.

It is a hazy yellow colour with the expected aromas. Mosaic was used in the whirlpool while the two hops were combined for the dry hopping. For all that, the bitterness level is modest and this smooth fruity beer proves an easy drinker.

It is an honest straightforward Pale Ale deserving of your attention. Highly Recommended.

Geek Bits

Hops - Mosaic & Strata.

Malts - Maris Otter, Flaked Oats, Wheat, Vienna & Dextrin

Art work - by Stasele Jakunskaite’