Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Taste of the Week: Baci di Dama by West Cork Biscuits

Taste of the Week

Baci di Dama by West Cork Biscuits

Ready for this week’s Italian lesson? Baci di Dama means Lady’s Kisses and yes, with almonds and Belgian chocolate among the ingredients, they are the sweetest and our Taste of the Week.

They are produced by the West Cork Biscuit Company from Dunmanway, who have been making good things there since 2003. 

You won’t find big automatic production lines here. “We make all our own dough in small batches, portioning and shaping by hand, then baking them in traditional ovens…..We source only natural ingredients as locally as possible, meaning…you are getting wholesome food made with you in mind.”

I picked up my packet during an unplanned stop at the Avoca shop in Molls Gap during a recent trip to the Kingdom. 

They make a whole of tasty stuff in Dunmanway and you’ll find lots of info here

Monday, April 29, 2024

New names added to the lineup for Inaugural Ballymaloe Festival of Food, 17th - 19th May

New names added to the lineup for Inaugural Ballymaloe Festival of Food, 17th - 19th May

Tulips in May at Ballymaloe House

New names have been added to the interesting and eclectic list of speakers and chefs participating in the inaugural Ballymaloe Festival of Food, running at Ballymaloe from Friday, May 17th to Sunday, May 19th this year. This celebration of 60 years of Ballymaloe House, as Myrtle Allen and her husband Ivan opened The Yeats Room at Ballymaloe back in 1964, with a clear message — one of sustainability, and a return to the roots of that original farm to table movement— with interesting and engaging talks from some key experts, producers and advocates telling the crucially important story of sustainable local food.

Those new additions to the exciting lineup include

Highlighting a Lake Garda Gem: Guerrieri Rizzardi Cuvée XV Bardolino Classico

Guerrieri Rizzardi Cuvée XV Bardolino Classico (DOC) 2022, 13.5% ABV.

€15.95 O’Briens Wine 

Highlighting a Lake Garda Gem: Guerrieri Rizzardi Cuvée XV Bardolino Classico 2022

Escape to the picturesque shores of Lake Garda, Italy, with the Guerrieri Rizzardi Cuvée XV Bardolino Classico 2022. This delightful red hails from a region known for its stunning scenery and, of course, its delicious wines. While its neighbour, Valpolicella, may steal the spotlight, Bardolino offers a lighter, equally captivating red waiting to be discovered.

Crafted primarily from Corvina and Rondinella grapes, the lifeblood of Bardolino wines, this DOC Classico boasts a decades-long heritage.  Guerrieri Rizzardi's meticulous approach shines through, with grapes reaching the crusher within ten minutes of picking, maximising freshness – a cornerstone of Bardolino Classico.

Bardolino. Image by Tommy from Pixabay

A Feast for the Senses:

Expect a beautiful light ruby colour that sets the stage for an enticing bouquet of mixed red berries. The first sip unveils a delightful fruitiness, a wine light-bodied and approachable. Delicate tannins and bright acidity create a perfect balance, lingering pleasantly on the finish. Highly Recommended

This versatile red pairs beautifully with an array of lighter fare. Think vegetarian dishes, chicken, turkey, or a delectable charcuterie board.  Imagine enjoying a glass alongside a stunning lakeside view – pure Italian bliss!

A Budget-Friendly Delight:

At €15.95 at O’Briens Wine, the Guerrieri Rizzardi Cuvée XV Bardolino Classico offers exceptional value. So, next time you're seeking a refreshing red that won't break the bank, consider venturing beyond the usual suspects and exploring the charm of Bardolino. After all, sometimes the hidden gems offer the most delightful surprises. If you’re shopping for it and come across a rosé from the same area known as Chiaretto, don’t be shy! One of each, please!


On the craft trail with Mescan, Western Herd and Bullhouse.

On the craft trail with Mescan, Western Herd and Bullhouse


Western Herd Blue Jumper IPA, 6.2% ABV, 440 ml can

The bright amber colour and all those little bubbles of this Western Herd IPA is quite a come-on. The beer’s name is apparently a Father Ted reference: “Do you remember when you were drinking Blue Jumper?”

There’s a citrus and tropical fruit presence in the aromatics, plus a hint of pine and resin, even a little dankness as well. And that vibrant hoppy edge continues all the way. After all, as the brewery indicates, India Pale Ale, or IPA is a bigger, hoppier version of a pale ale. 

This one certainly

Friday, April 26, 2024

A Hospitality Symposium : Topic - mental health and gender challenges in commercial kitchens

 A Hospitality Symposium

 A Hospitality Symposium : Topic - mental health and gender challenges in commercial kitchens will be held in University of Galway on the 15th of May. 10am-2pm (Networking coffees from 9am and a light lunch after the event).


Deirdre Curran (UOG) is hosting

The perfect lighter red if you want a smooth and not too heavy Italian. Avignonesi Rosso di Montepulciano

Avignonesi  Rosso di Montepulciano (DOC) 2019

€25.00 Bubble Brothers. ABV is 13.5%

The perfect lighter red if you want a smooth and not too heavy Italian.

This light ruby Rosso di Montepulciano introduces itself with red and darker berries aromas. It is well-balanced on the palate, lively and smooth, fruity with a touch of spice.  A lively acidity also features as the wine heads towards a pleasant finish. Pretty faultless from start to finalé, this vibrant and approachable red wine from Tuscany is Very Highly Recommended.

As importers and sellers Bubble Brothers say

From gill-to-fin, Aishling Moore has the Whole Catch covered in her new book

Red Gurnard and, below, on the plate at Goldie.


A blue and white poster with a tail and white text

Description automatically generated#10 WHOLE CATCH

Aishling Moore

Blasta Books

Published 25th April, £13/€15

#10: WHOLE CATCH introduces you to pioneering young chef Aishling Moore, one of Ireland’s biggest advocates for regenerative aquaculture and a promoter of the gill-to-fin approach.


At 24 years old, Aishling opened Goldie, a seafood bistro in Cork. In just two years,

Three Days in the Kingdom. Food Diary

Three Days in the Kingdom. Food Diary 

Day 1

Smoked Haddock Beignets with Crab Mayonnaise and Pickled Cucumber at Nua Vista 

Beautiful ware by Ross Kenmare

We had three days or so to check out the eating and drinking scene in the Kingdom. Well, more like in Killarney and Kenmare. It would take much more than three days to sample the full county!

Headed off from Cork for Kenmare on a good enough day. The "new" driver made

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Nine Cork Farmhouse Cheesemakers Honoured At CÁIS 2024. Hegarty’s ‘Templegall’ Retains Title Of ‘Supreme Champion’

Nine Cork Farmhouse Cheesemakers Honoured At CÁIS 2024 Hegarty’s ‘Templegall’ Retains Title Of ‘Supreme Champion’ 

Supreme Champion again for Dan Hegarty (left) with cheese makers Jean-Baptiste Enjelvin
 and Quentin DubozPics by Finbarr O'Rourke

Nine Farmhouse Cheesemakers from across Co. Cork were honoured this week at the 2024 Irish Cheese Awards during a prestigious ceremony hosted by CÁIS, the Association of Irish Farmhouse Cheesemakers, at Kilshane House in Co. Tipperary on Wednesday April 24th. Between them they took home a total of fourteen awards - the most of any county. 

The biennial celebration of Ireland’s farmhouse cheesemakers, now in its tenth year, named winners across

Blarney Castle Gardens

Blarney Castle Gardens

Pics taken 23.04.2024


Against the light

Primula Buttercup Yellow( ?)

Wild garlic and bluebells.

Another top beer from Templemore. One that those Bavarian monk brewers would appreciate. Whitefield Bock is Beer of the Week!

Beer of the Week

Whitefield Bock 7.0% ABV, 500ml bottle Bradleys

Another top beer from Templemore. One that those Bavarian monk brewers would appreciate.

Whitefield's traditional strong lager has a clear copper colour with a persistent and soft off-white silky head. There’s toasty malt in the aromatics and more on the rich, deep, and complex palate. There’s an old legend that Bavarian monks subsisted on bock during long spells of fasting and indeed you feel that some sweet malty sustenance is being delivered with every sip. Maybe that's where the saying "there's eating and drinking in it" came from😉.

The sweet, toasty, nutty aroma and flavour is an excellent addition to a hearty meal of veal, pork, or beef or a nice companion to an earthy cheese course.

Very Highly Recommended. Not altogether a surprise as Whitefield is consistently coming up with the goods, particularly when it comes to ales and lagers and bock is a form of lager.

The brewery kit in Templemore was made to make wheat beer. Brewer Cuilan expands: “So it comes as no surprise that our best sellers in both draught and bottle are Weiss beers. This makes it tricky to brew drier hoppy beers, so we focus on the malty styles of beer with plenty of sweetness.” And their Bock is a fine example, one that those Bavarian monks would recognise and appreciate.

Traditionally Bock is a sweet, relatively strong (6.3–7.6% by volume), a lightly hopped lager that should be clear, with colour ranging from light copper to brown, and a bountiful, persistent off-white head. That’s a summation from Wikipedia. Doppelbock is the bigger and stronger brother of Bock and others in the family include Maibock, Eisenbock, and Weizenbock.

Unforgettable Killarney Escape: Killeen House Hotel and Rozzers Restaurant

Killeen House Hotel & Rozzers

A Memorable Killarney Escape

View from the car park

Step into a world of warm Irish hospitality and exquisite French cuisine at Killeen House Hotel. Under the new ownership of Patrick Eviston, a seasoned Killarney hotelier, a new dynamic manager in Darren Looney, and with the culinary talents of Chef Cyrille Durand at the helm in the kitchen, Killeen House and its crown jewel, Rozzers Restaurant, are poised for an exciting future.

Location, Location, Location:

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

From Nightclub to Green Oasis: A Sustainable Feast at Killarney's Urban Farm

 From Nightclub to Green Oasis.

 Sustainable Feast at Killarney's Urban Farm

 "Imagine feasting on fresh vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers grown in a former nightclub! This isn't a scene from a dream, but a reality at the Killarney Urban Farm, a pioneering initiative by the O'Donoghue Ring Group.”

Farm cocktail

Bug off! In the nicest possible way.

The farm's leafy utopia wasn't without its initial challenges. Uninvited guests with wings (of the insect variety!) discovered this green haven and started making themselves at home. But the O'Donoghue Ring Group didn't resort to spray. Instead, they outsmarted the insects with a strategic planting of their favourite treats just outside the doors – a genius 'green' solution!”

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Nuns Farts by Ryes and Shine is Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week

Have You Tried Ryes and Shine's Nuns Farts?

Don't let the name fool you! Angela at Ryes and Shine is serving up heavenly little treats at the Coal Quay Market and St. Luke's. These wickedly delicious morsels, also known as Nuns Puffs (the more diplomatic term!), are the perfect accompaniment to your morning or afternoon coffee.

Made with free-range egg whites, sugar, hazelnuts, organic dark chocolate, and a touch of vanilla and sea salt (both organic), these delights will surely put a smile on your face. Get to the Coal Quay (Saturdays) or St Lukes (Wednesdays) and grab a bag (or two!).

* Nuns Farts are a sweet pastry originally from France, where they are also known as pets de nonne.

Monday, April 22, 2024

Double Win for Cork's Market Lane Group at Failte Ireland Awards

Double Win for Market Lane Group at Failte Ireland Awards


Pictured at the awards are (l to r) Jenny de Saulles (Fáilte Ireland), Jerry O'Sullivan
Judy Howard (both Market Lane)

Cork’s Market Lane Group of Restaurants has taken two of the top gongs at The Fáilte Ireland Employer Excellence Awards 2024. 

The group’s Elbow Lane Smokehouse & Brewery took the overall Award for Best Employer Food & Drink, and Goldie restaurant took the award for Best Employer Ireland’s Ancient East.  They were the only restaurants to win in any of the 14 categories announced on the night, and the only business to win two Awards.  




Pierce Lowney, Director of Food & Beverage, Trigon Hotels; Alex Petit, Group Executive Chef, Trigon Hotels;  Eoghan Murphy, General Manager, Cork International Hotel.  Pic: Brian Lougheed

The Cork International Hotel, which is located in the Airport Business Park, has launched a new food truck which will be operated by the hotel’s team of chefs.

“The New Yorker On The Go” will cater for the large number of businesses in the surrounding area.  Customers will be able to avail of a selection of sweet treats and sandwiches using locally sourced ingredients.  

A true blend of the Dão! Casa de Mouraz Tinto (DAO) 2020

Casa de Mouraz Tinto (DAO) 2020, 13.5% ABV,
 Mary Pawle

A true blend of the Dão!

According to the label, there are no less than nine different grape varieties in this blend, coming from assorted vineyard plots of different ages, heights and exposures. A true blend of the Dão indeed.

The label for this 2020 vintage lists Touriga-Nacional, Tinta-Roriz, Alfrocheiro, Jaen, Rufete, Caramate, Trincadeira, Tinto Carvalho and Baga. The grapes for this excellent red come from several vineyards of Casa de Mouraz “some of which are mentioned in documents from the 16th century”. They were no doubt organic then and are organic now.

It has an intense red colour with a violet hue and the legs are in no hurry to clear even though 13.5% ABV is not over the top. The aromas, with ripe rich red fruits, are quite intense. It is smooth and spicy, with a lovely kick of acidity, and a lingering finish. A serious drop indeed and Very Highly Recommended.

All the grapes are co-fermented with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tank, followed by a long maceration. And 20% is aged for 8 or 9 months in used French oak barrels. Delicious with roast beef or barbecue, duck, rice and magre de canard. Also delightful with soft cheeses.

In 1997, Casa de Mouraz became the first biodynamic winery in the Dao. All went well until  October 2017. Late at night, their phone rang: Your warehouse is on fire! According to the excellent Foot Trodden, “savage forest fires.. had reached Dāo, thanks to Hurricane Ophelia…” Not only was the warehouse almost totally destroyed but the equipment around the yard and more than half of their 20 hectares of vines were also burned. A local news outlet put the cost at not less than €700,000.

Antonio and Sara were down. But not out. Helped by crowdfunding (from December 2017) they got back up and running and were soon producing this and other marvellous wines.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

You can drink this French Albarino "with anything that lives in the sea"

Laurent Miquel Côte 238 Pech Gentille Albarino Aude (IGP) 2022, 12.5% ABV

€15.00 Dunnes Stores

You can drink this French Albarino "with anything that lives in the sea"

This bright Albarino comes in a lovely light gold robe. The nose is pleasantly perfumed with fresh citrus. And that zestiness (along with peach) is also a feature on the palate where it is light and elegant with a cloak of bracing freshness. 

Our Pech Gentille is a crisp, light and refreshing one produced from the Albarino grape. It may not be from the traditional areas of Spain’s Rias Baixas and Portugal (where it is known as Alvarinho) but is one to note. Highly Recommended. Be sure and keep an eye out for special offers in Dunnes; I got this for €12.80 during their French Wine Sale.

Looking out from a Roman hill-top fort, Oppidum d'Enserune, 
located near Béziers in the Languedoc, not too far from
Cessenon-sur-Orb where Laurent Miquel operates from.

The producers suggest trying it with Oysters Kilpatrick or any way you like the crustaceans! “You can drink it with anything that lives in the sea. By the sea, preferably.” Excellent also as an aperitif.

The wine’s name 238 refers to the coordinates of the vineyard plot that the fruit comes from. “All these plots all have their own little secret. A section that gets the right amount of sun and soaks up the right amount of natural water. These areas tend to grow the vines that grow the grapes that lead to wines really worth talking about.” The Pech Gentille is harvested at night, with clarification done at low temperature before ageing.


Check my growing list of top wines for 2024


Check out my Good Value Wine List here

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Beer of the Week. Mescan Westport Saison, enhanced by longer ageing.

Beer of the Week

Enhanced by longer ageing.

Mescan Westport Saison, 5.8% ABV, 330ml bottle No 21 Coburg Street

The colour of this Mescan is mid-gold, slightly hazy with a soft white head that sinks slowly. Aromas include clove and citrus notes. It is dry and light on the palate, effervescent and refreshing, full of concentrated flavour. It is refreshing, and also very well balanced, with the New World hops matched by the earthy spicy yeast flavours, and you don't really notice the highish alcohol. But do sip rather than gulp!

Not just an excellent saison but also another superb beer from Westport's Mescan and Very Highly Recommended. It is the kind of beer that, once it hits the palate, makes you take notice. You may also want to note that it has an ABV of 5.8%.

There is something different, something more wide-ranging about this Mescan saison. Flavours are more concentrated, longer lasting, and the experience more satisfactory. More than likely it comes from longer ageing (a brewery policy). 

On my 2023 visit to the rural brewery in Mayo, brewer and co-founder Cillian Ó'Móráin explained that Mescan beers take a minimum of 4 months with the heavier ones getting 6-8 months. In contrast, your normal craft beer takes just a few weeks from start to shop (can vary from brewer to brewer). While the extra time makes the Mescan more expensive, Cillian reckons it is crucial for the quality of the beer. And it is indeed a premium product, illustrated well by this superb saison.