|Camembert, for sharing|
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Thursday, August 23, 2018
Making A Difference on Washington Street.
When you’d like something that little bit different, for breakfast, lunch or dinner, then head to the SpitJack on Washington Street. Number 34 is a lovely old building the food (based on local produce and generally given the rotisserie treatment) is excellent and the staff are very helpful and friendly.
There were four of us in for dinner the other evening and we absolutely enjoyed the buzz - the place was full - the ambiance and the food. The expertise of the team and quality of the food combine to make the lovingly restored old venue conducive to enjoying a good night out in comfort.
And the drink. They have much to offer here, including spirits galore and a tempting cocktail list. One of us enjoyed the smooth 8 Degrees Knockmealdown Irish Stout (5.0% Abv) 5.5 with its espresso and molasses aromas. The rest shared a mouth-watering bottle of Abadia do Seixo Albarino (32.00).
Choices made and starters delivered. Lets begin. A pair of us shared the Rotisserie Melted Camembert (€15). This was studded with Rosemary and Garlic and came with Crusty Bread, Chilli & Tomato Jam. Quite a plateful and none went back. A lovely dish and not often seen in these parts.
Sounds of approval too from the others. The Ballycotton Prawn Pil Pil (€9.90 ), a dish of Chilli & Garlic Prawns, Warm Country Baguette, Allioli, was highly ranked as one of the best of its kind and the same rating was garnered by the Ballycotton Crispy Calamari (€8.50) tossed in Home Made Allioli, with Sautéed Chorizo, Red Pepper Coulis, Mixed Leaves.
One of a couple at a nearby table were celebrating a birthday and the staff joined in with a little cake and a song so we helped with the chorus and the applause.
The main event followed and two decided on the Ballycotton Pan Roasted Hake with Butter Bean, Chorizo & Kale Broth, Shaved Asparagus, Fennel & Radish Salad, Potato Mousseline (18.50). Both were well pleased, each remarking on the flavoursome broth. Another winner from the kitchen. Ballycotton was doing well too and everything from there went down well at our table.
Back to the rotisserie for my friend who gleefully demolished the Big Jack Burger, a North Co. Cork Aged Striploin Beef Burger, Cashel Blue Cheese, Baby Gem, Home-Made Pickles, The SpitJack Relish, Brioche Bun (€16.95). By the way, she asked for it without the bun. I could understand that, as most of the time, I usually eat just one half of it.
Meanwhile, I was tucking into a dish that was that little bit different, the confit and Rotisserie Roasted Duck Leg Salad with Pearl Couscous, Roasted Sweet Potato, Red Onion, Carrot, Mixed Leaves, Tarragon and Orange Dressing (€17.95). Must say I loved it, every little bit.
34 Washington Street
(021) 239 0613
Hours: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM, 5:00 PM - 9:30 PM
Monday, March 23, 2015
Beer Versus Wine
Colm v Caroline.
Colm v Caroline.
|Scrumptious Blackpudding from Jack McCarthy.|
Great flavours from the L'Atitude kitchen.
Lots of good humour and great drinks at the Beer v Wine Smackdown in L’Atitude last Thursday night where the protagonists were Caroline Hennessy and Colm McCan.
Caroline, co-author of the Irish beer bible Sláinte, made it clear at the outset that she was making the case for craft beer saying “the other beers have no flavours”. Her first beer, Black’s Kinsale Pale Ale, was a perfect example. “Hops are the spice of beer,” she said.
“Beer is just to wash away the dust”, joked Colm as he introduced his heavy hitting first, the Decanter Gold winning Wiston Rosé, an English Sparkling Wine, made in the South Downs by Limerick’s Dermot Sugrue. Both were matched with Hederman Smoked Mackerel with Rhubarb Compote from the L’Atitude kitchens.
Colm did admit he was a big fan of craft beer as he put a call, on speaker-phone, through to Dermot in the UK and they chatted about the huge honour received by Wiston when their wine, a twenty-bottle bottle of it, was chosen, instead of the traditional champagne, to launch the mega cruise liner Britannia.”Twenty minutes later the Queen was still saying wow”, referring to the pop (explosion!) when the Nebuchadnezzar made contact with the ship. See it here on video.
Ireland is fast becoming a big producer of all kinds of drinks, including spirits, and so Caroline decided to include cider as her second round choice. And the local cider she picked was the Stonewell medium dry, a great match with Jack McCarthy’s black-pudding and apples.
Colm said cider, in the way it is made, is the closest thing in Ireland to wine, “at the moment!” as he introduced his biodynamic 2012 Vinsobres from the Southern Rhone, “a winter-warming wine..with a natural acidity that should cut through the black pudding”. It sure did and even won the round with “victory” in round one going to the Pale Ale.
And then we were on to round three where Double Chocolate Porter Brownies were paired with Knockmealdown Stout and Taylor’s 2008 LBV. The stout, with its traditional flavours, is by Eight Degrees where Caroline can't help but be involved considering that husband Scott is one of the two founders. The brewery, set up in 2011, has been going well ever since. She said the current craft beer wave is well underway thanks largely “to a tax break in 2005 by then finance minister Brian Cowan”. Eight Degrees are just about to start a “massive expansion”.
Chris Forbes of Taylor's was next the next speaker on Colm’s phone and he explained some of the terms used in the port industry including LBV (late bottled vintage, all from one year). “Slow aging,” he said, “helps maintain the flavours and the tannins. The beauty of Port is that it cannot be made anywhere else in the world, only in the Douro. “We use all kinds of traditional grape varieties here”. He mentioned the various Tourigas and Tintos but he said the really important thing for Taylors was not the individual varieties but the blend itself.
|Contestants in round 2,|
paired with the pudding.
That attention to detail was evident in the LBV as it held its own with the brownies. The Stout was an excellent match, not surprising since a generous amount went into the Brownie mix! Then we had the voting, via murmurs of approval. Caroline and Colm had a round each to their credit and the final matching ended in a draw and that meant honours were even overall.
The point of all this is that there are very good wines out there and, increasingly, very good Irish beers and ciders. And now, the Irish is taking its place alongside wine at the dinner table and in the restaurant.
Here's my recent example. I spent 24 hours in Kinsale on the weekend before last and enjoyed craft beer Malt Lane and in Monk’s Lane in Timoleague. Last Friday and Saturday, I was in Bantry and sampled craft beer in the Fish Kitchen, across the road in Ma Murphy’s, in the Maritime Hotel and, on the way home, they had a selection in Church Lane in Macroom. Don’t think that would have happened 12 months ago. Point made!
The next “match” between Caroline and Colm is likely to be at Savour Kilkenny in the autumn.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Wine: Two for the Meat. One for the Sweet
I have been dipping into SuperValu’s 12 wines for Christmas and reckon these three are ideal companions for the season. The first can match most desserts while the others will go well with your roasts, including the turkey. All are reduced from the 10th of December until the end of the month.
Vinha do Foral Moscatel de Setubal (Portugal), 17.5%, €12.00 SuperValu
The beautiful amber colour catches your eye and the aromas (orange skin, honey) are quite intense. On the palate, this sweet wine, well balanced and not at all “sticky”, is crisp and fresh, enough sweetness to pair with desserts (even the Christmas pudding), yet dry enough to shine as an aperitif, maybe even as an apres digestif. Either way there is a prolonged finish. Oh, by the way, it seems you can have it with two or three ice cubes. I haven’t tried that.
Made by the Cooperativa de Pegoes from one hundred per cent Moscatel grapes, this is a Very Highly Recommended. Do note the higher alcohol content. Like Port, this is a fortified wine.
|Right bank ahead. Crossing the Garonne|
Chateau Sissan Grande Reserve 2011, Cadillac Cotes de Bordeaux, 13.5%, €10.00 SuperValu.
This is a relatively new (2008) denomination and covers a narrow strip on the right bank of the Garonne, more or less across the river from Barsac and Sauternes. According to the World Atlas of Wine, the area produces “toothsome reds”.
And this one certainly is toothsome! It has a lovely ruby robe and, on the nose, has lots of red fruit aromas, some spice too. A well made wine with superb ripe soft fruits on the palate and again hints of spice; it is full bodied, mellow and with a lingering finish.
Blend of Merlot (55%), Cabernet Sauvignon (40%) and Cabernet Franc (5%). Very Highly Recommended.
Finca Labarca Reserva 2007 (Rioja), 14%, €10.00, SuperValu
Rioja, and its Tempranillo, is a favourite here, so this was welcome when it arrived and even more so after opening. It may well be seven years old and the red may not be as deep as early on but there is no shortage of fruit on the palate and there is lively spice as well (quite a match for the local spiced beef!). The oak has been well integrated, the tannins are soft, the finish long. Another wine for the Christmas where its versatility will be a bonus. Very Highly Recommended.
Monday, May 19, 2014
Sipping Beer and Cider in a Tractor ShedAt the Ballymaloe LitFest
|Dungarvan's Claire takes the mike at the Beer and Cider event.|
“Three years on and it feels like a lifetime,” said Scott of Eight Degrees Brewing at last Sunday’s Irish Craft Beer and Artisan Irish Cider event at the Kerrygold Ballymaloe LitFest. The rapid pace of the craft brewing industry in Ireland has astonished many of us, not least those pioneers (excuse the dry pun) directly involved. “Consciousness has been raised now,” said Claire of Dungarvan Brewing Company. “It is an easier sell.”
Moderator John Wilson (of the Irish Times), who prefers his on draught, is delighted with the progress and is as surprised as anyone else. “Beer and cider are now appearing in restaurants. No excuse though for pubs and off licences not having them, even if it is just the local brews.” And so say all of us.
“The industry is one of experimentation,” continued Scott. “We take a risk in producing, the customers in trying a product. We tend to help one another in the industry as one new tasting leads to the tasting of other craft beers, one of the encouraging aspects of the business. We are trying to create a community of consumers who are highly experimental, making one off batches, full of flavour, being innovative. The consumer's interest has to be held.”
Simon Tyrrell, who produces Craigie's Cider with his partner Angus Craigie, says the cider world has a different approach. “The reason is that we have just one crop, one shot a year. Ours is very seasonal. The demands are different to beer, indeed more like wine. Cider looks to express the best qualities of the fruit, show where the nuances lie.”
Eloquent as Simon was, and always is, the best speech from Craigies came in our first tasting of their fabulous Dalliance, made from 100 per cent dessert apples (three different types). “It has been left on its fine lees for 15 months and then a little re-fermentation to give it sparkle.” This just has to be tried. It is so different with great apple flavours and a long dry finish. Superb!
|Four to Taste|
Then we were on to the beers and a taste of Dungarvan Copper Coast Red Ale. The red comes from the Crystal malt and the beer has “more of a malt profile”. It is sold in restaurants. I regularly come across it there and it certainly goes well with food.
|Ballymaloe's Colm McCan|
worked tirelessly over
two long days in
the Drinks Theatre
(a converted tractor shed).
The experimental nature of the craft beer industry was certainly underlined by our next beer, call Gosé, made by the Brown Paper Bag Project, Irish brewers without a brewery but who travel home and abroad and hire out or collaborate with existing brewers.
This beer was made in partnership with the local brewery on the Danish island of Fanoe in an ancient German style called Gosé. It uses 53% wheat and 47% barley along with the addition of sea salts and coriander. It has cider like characteristics and the acidity and salinity are prominent. Very good with oysters!
We finished off with one of the first of the second wave of Irish beers, Howling Gale Ale by Eight Degrees. It was important that the Mitchelstown brewery, then operating out of a cottage, got this right. They sure did set the standard and yesterday’s tasting shows it has stood the test of time and is still up there with many new ale rivals, both local and national.
Great to have the choice but Scott could do with a great choice of hops. The hops he uses are imported. “Hops are not grown commercially in Ireland,” he said. Now, with the industry mushrooming, hop growing must surely come next. Indeed, I think there are green shoots in Tipperary, White Gypsy the folks responsible.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Made an early visit to the Franciscan Well Beer Festival this Saturday afternoon and took my chance to sample some of the newer brews before the crowds started to roll in on this sunny day.
Last year, the Lynch brothers from Mayfield’s Cotton Ball were on the outside of the ring; this time, Eoin and Humphrey were serving their own beers including their latest. This is called Indian Summer and is quite a lovely drink for the days ahead, a mix of lager ingredients and an ale yeast.
Not to be outdone, the now well established Eight Degrees also had new one on offer, the Full Irish, a strong 100 per cent Irish Malt ale. I've had a sneak preview of the publicity shots for this one. X is the letter that springs to mind! Think Full Monty!
Blacks of Kinsale were promising a surprise for later in the afternoon when a special set-up will allow them to add fresh hops (a new one called Equinox) at the very last moment to Kinsale Pale Ale. Can't get fresher than that. Try that and don’t forget to sample their Beoir #1
|Beers from new Connemara brewery available at Bradley's, North Main Street, Cork.|
Great to meet up with Jamie from White Gypsy and his innovative beers. Tried his lovely refreshing Wheat beer, the beer you need after walking round, Bavarian in style but Irish “engineered”. The 5.2% Pilsner isn't half bad either. White Gypsy are growing their own hops this year and are also hoping that more and more restaurants will offer a craft beer as an alternative to wine.
The gregarious Mountain Man was another brewer I had not met before and he explained that his Hairy Goat was an English Style IPA with a lowish ABV. Nothing low though about the ABV of its American cousin, the 7.5% Crazy Horse. Well worth a try.
Micro-breweries just keep popping up around the country and next up was JJ's from County Limerick. This was their first outing and the 4.8% Pils lager promised much, especially as this is their very first beer.
aAnd another newcomer, the 9 White Deer Brewery from Ballyvourney, was also making its debut. Gordon Lucey tells me their hops, including Amarillo, Cascade and Fast Gold, comes from all over the world but the "mystical" water is local as is the yeast. This will soon be on sale in 500ml bottles and watch out for other beers, including a stout.
Nice to chat with Caroline of Eight Degrees and also with Claire from Dungarvan Brewing Company. I always enjoy the Dungarvan beers and tried a couple this time: their wheat beer and their Comeragh Challenge Irish Bitter. Had a preference for the former but isn't that what craft beer is all about. Great to have the choice. Long may the craft revolution continue!
The Franciscan Well Festival continues until late this Saturday evening and is on again tomorrow Sunday with soakage provided by the on site pizza maker! Enjoy.
Monday, January 7, 2013
Operation: Transform the Chicken!
Back in the jour, there was poulet fumé. En vacances in France, it was a treat but nothing to write ( it was long before Twitter) home about.
Indeed, we had to come home and fast forward a fair bit to find something to write home about. And that was the smoked chicken from Anthony Creswell in Ummera. Indeed anything Anthony smokes is worth not just writing home about but bringing home with you.
Sampled a fair few of his delicacies over the recent holidays before getting down to the chicken. What to eat with it? That was the question until I began browsing through the latest Aldi newsletter and spotted the potato salad they had printed as part of their association with RTE’s Operation Transform.
This has proved to be quite a popular programme and the 6th series gets underway this very Tuesday evening. Dr. Eva Orsmond is one of the key people and her recipes appear in the Aldi booklet and all the info will be on the programme’s website.
In the meantime, I have attached a copy of the potato salad that did indeed go very well with the smoked chicken, even though Eve suggested you use it with her pan-fried salmon dish. In any event, it is quite versatile and very tasty!
Speaking of matches, I tried another one over the holidays and indeed, must say I am very pleased with it. Have you still got some Christmas pudding in the house? Good. Don’t use it until you get your hands on a bottle or two of A Winter’s Ale from Mitchelstown’s 8 Degrees Brewing Company.
The Ale, which is “reinforced” by some Green Saffron Spices, is stronger than usual. But don’t worry. This doesn’t call for a lot. We shared a bottle between each pair. Pour into a small glass, even a wine glass, and sip it with your steamed pudding. Gorgeous. That was the verdict here. Well worth a try.
Operation Transform starts Tuesday 8th January at 8.30pm on RTÉ One
Friday, January 20, 2012
WONDERS OF THE FARMGATE
Last time, I wrote about the Farmgate, I headlined the piece: Great balls of flour. The “balls of flour”, were there again today: Golden Wonders with skins intact. I cut one in half to demonstrate to my two UK guests what is meant by the phrase.
I must admit that the potatoes didn’t form part of my own dish but I did take a half, just because I couldn’t resist They are just as gorgeous now as they were last November and illustrate what the Farmgate is all about: local produce in good nick, cooked to perfection and served by a friendly and efficient crew in this busy day-time restaurant overlooking the English Market.
My main course is a regular on the menu: Old Millbank Smoked Organic Salmon (12.50), served with a cracking salad and Crème fraîche. Old Millbank are regulars at Mahon Point Farmers Market and their salmon is always top notch as indeed it was here.
The menu description of the salad wasn’t exactly spot-on but the dish itself was and I and one of my fellow diners were very happy with it. One of the visitors enjoyed the Lamb’s Liver and Bacon and the other polished off one of the specials, the Cod pie.
Two of us, myself included, went for the fruity Porter Cake with the coffee; one picked the light and tempting Lemon Tart while another choose the Fruit Crumble. Four empty plates, four happy customers.
Just wonder – didn’t check – if the Porter cake was made with the Knockmealdown Porter by the 8 Degrees Brewing Company. They sell that here but it was the same company’s Howling Gale ale that I imbibed with my main course. Must say, I’m getting to really like that after some initial ambivalence towards the Mitchelstown product.
But never any ambivalence with regard to the Farmgate. Top class.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
PORTER IN NORTH MAIN STREET
Never know what you’ll find when you visit Bradley’s in North Main Street. A bit of a sweeping statement so let’s adjust to something more like the truth: “I never know what I will leave with when I visit Bradley’s.”
Called at the weekend with a simple enough mission: to replenish my stock of Stonewell Cider and also to add the sweet PX to the Oloroso and Amontillado already bought from their brilliant Lustau sherry range.
That was easily accomplished, all in stock. But I also left with the 8 Degrees Brewing Company’s Knockmealdown Porter and that was the first thing I tried out. It is the latest addition to the Mitchelstown based brewery’s range and follows two well received ales.
So this is the first porter. It is black (as you might expect!), rich with a chocolatley flavour and well balanced (some old world bitter hops were used). It leaves, all too soon, with a longish dry finish. I like this one, another reason to call to North Main Street. Will have to get a bigger stronger bag! Maybe a porter to carry my porter. Bottle size is 33cl and the ABV is 5%.
Had been traipsing round town looking for Port glasses, without success. Tried TKMax as a last resort. They didn't have them either but did have sets of two Riedel wine glasses at the knockdown price of €15.00. Bought a couple of sets and tried them out over the weekend with a couple of Spanish reservas. But that’s another post!