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Showing posts with label A Taste of West Cork. Show all posts
Showing posts with label A Taste of West Cork. Show all posts

Monday, October 8, 2018

My West Cork Package


Sandycove, near Kinsale
My West Cork Package
Summer 2018

I'm often asked where I've been for the holidays and I often get sympathetic looks when I answer Ireland (can't bring myself to say staycation!). But I'm not in need of that the kind of sympathy! Far from it. 

Didn’t realise I spent so much time (not to mention money) in West Cork this marvellous summer of 2018. But I did and I enjoyed it, every minute. So I’ve put it all together in this “package” and am hoping it will give you a few pointers if you are heading in that direction in 2019. 

Bastion

Restaurants:
Pilgrims Rosscarbery
Richy’s Clonakilty
Fish Kitchen Bantry
Supper Club Kinsale
Monk’s Lane Timoleague
Lifeboat Inn Courtmacsherry
Jim Edwards Kinsale
Cru Kinsale
Bastion Kinsale
Manning's

Lunch:
Richy’s Clonakilty
De Barra's Pub in Clon

Pubs:
Scannell’s Clonakilty
De Barra’s Clonakilty
Eccles. Window view

Stay:
Fruit at De Barra Lodge
De Barra Lodge
You'll find it hard to get a B&B breakfast better than that served up by Sinéad at their lovely house near Rosscarbery. Here you'll see the cows grazing, the rabbits sunning themselves and the hens (who provide the eggs for your breakfast) in their run by the house. The dining-room is brilliantly lit by a series of Velux windows. It, and indeed, the bedrooms are comfortable and spacious. And Sinéad and her husband will themselves drive you to the village if you have your evening meal booked there.

Glendine House
Mick and Mari are the owners of Glendine House on the edge of Clon. Both are "blow-ins" but each is well involved in the life of the town and contribute much of their time. They too have their own hens and the produce for the breakfast is more or less all local including that of the Clonakilty Black Pudding Company. The house is about an eight minute walk downhill to the town centre (a bit further on the return!). You get a terrific welcome here and plenty of help and advice on what to do in the area. It is comfortable and well equipped (loved the shower-unit here!).

Inchydoney Lodge
Courtmacsherry

Maritime
I usually stay about once a year in Bantry's Maritime. It it so central with an underground car park just across the way and a very warm welcome. Well equipped too and spacious, with a lovely dining room where you may enjoy your breakfast. The bedrooms have all you want and all have great views out over the magnificent bay. Lots of music in the bar during the season. Would love to see some local craft beer on tap here but they do carry some good ones in bottle.

Ballydehob

Visit:
Garinish Island
Gougane Barra


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Taste of the Week. West Cork Garlic


Taste of the Week
West Cork Garlic
Bryn of West Cork Garlic in Bantry last Friday.

Probably more like Taste of the Year as the garlic I bought from Bryn Perrin in last Friday’s market in Bantry were bulbs for sowing now and eating from next summer on. Though I did also get some of his Roscoff onions and am very much looking forward to tasting these over the next few days.

But back to the garlic. Bryn, who took over the business from pioneers Axel & Marye Miret (who founded the company in 2010), is quite happy to share his expertise on the subject and will give you lots of advice on planting, growing and harvesting. 
Ready to plant

The first thing to know right now is don’t wait until the spring as most garlic is planted in late autumn and early winter, some varieties as early as September! We bought a few Lautrec and a few Grey Shallot garlics for planting and another one, the Chesnok ­(Hardneck). Already in the ground. Fingers crossed for summer 2019!

If you don’t have the chance to meet Bryn at the markets (he also does Skibbereen Saturdays), do by all means check out the website as they sell garlic bulbs for kitchen and medicinal purposes - and cloves for planting so you can grow your own - all available in handy packs, delivered straight to your door. And there is a page with loads of hints on how to grow your own. And much more, including recipes and garlic gadgets!

Bryn Perrin
Coolmountain West, 
Dunmanway, West Cork, Ireland
Tel 087 133 3751, Email bryn@westcorkgarlic.com



Monday, September 17, 2018

Eye-opening Boat Trip on Bantry Bay. Thanks to Diarmaid of the Fish Kitchen.

Eye-opening Boat Trip on Bantry Bay
Thanks to Diarmaid Murphy of the Fish Kitchen.



Last week we found ourselves in a boat in the middle of the Bantry Bay mussel farming area, very extensive, and could see the long lines where blue mussels are placed on ropes that remain suspended in the water. Once the industry was very labour intensive but Diarmuid told us that it is now very much mechanised. In any case, the results are great as we found later that evening in the Murphy’s Fish Kitchen.

If you want a guide to Bantry, land and sea, Diarmaid Murphy of the Fish Kitchen is your man. He has immense experience of the sea, including boats (he is cox for the local lifeboat) and fishing, and allied to that is a love and detailed knowledge of the history of the town and its magnificent bay and its surrounds. Next summer (2019), he plans to do guided trips on his six-passenger rib.
Windy, even inside the harbour wall.
We were delighted with our “preview”. It wasn't the best of days on the bay, far from the worst though, and we were in good hands as we headed out from the new marina that has made a huge difference to boating in the bay. 
From the hotel. The bay looked more benign an hour or so before the trip.
See the green fields of Whiddy and, beyond, the mountains of the Beara peninsula
Having left the Bantry pier and the marina behind - the ferry from Whiddy Island was coming in - we headed towards the left of the island taking a look to the mainland on our left. Diarmuid pointed out the aerodrome where private planes come and go, some from the continent. Nearby too is the Blue Cliff. Not blue during our trip but quite grey. The blue is noticeable when the sun shines.
Homeward bound - the Whiddy ferry

Plan was to do  full circle around Whiddy and get close to the liner over in Glengarriff. But, with the rib hopping off the incessant waves, discretion was the better part of valour so we turned and ran alongside the town side of the long island, meeting the ferry again on its return trip. We saw the local pub, the Bank House.
The Whiddy local

Of course, one of the major historical events in the bay came with the Wolfe Tone attempted invasion in 1796. Unsettled by this, the British ordered the construction of three forts on the island and these were pointed out to us in their hilltop locations.
Cruise liner Astoria in the bay
Over a hundred years later, the USA Navy set up a short-lived flying-boat base here during the great war and the planes were used to hunt German submarines. And in 22 October 1918, Walford A. Anderson (an US flier from Springfield, MO) was killed in a crash, the first ever air-crash fatality in Ireland according to our guide.

There was a much larger tragedy on Whiddy in January 1979, when the oil tanker Betelgeuse blew up at the offshore jetty for the oil terminal on the island. The explosion and resultant fire cost 50 lives.
Mussel farmer at work. Eagle Point in the distance
Soon we were at the other (eastern) corner of Whiddy, we could see across towards Glengarriff and the visiting cruise liner, the Astoria. Diarmuid thought we might get closer from this side but it was not to be as the waves were a little too big so we retreated in the general direction of Ballylickey.
There were plenty of mussel rows here also and we got a splendid view of the Eagle Point Caravan Park; it has a very impressive location indeed and well spaced pitches. No wonder it is a very popular place and locals mark the start of summer when the “Eagle-Pointers” arrive.
Bantry, with the Maritime Hotel on right.
In this area also, you’ll find Donemark (the fort of the ships). Often saw this name on signposts but didn’t realise the legends and history attached to it. Indeed, they say it is the first place that humans (the Milesians) landed in Ireland although there is also a story that a niece of Noah’s landed here much earlier!
Bantry House
Bantry Bay longboats are replicas of the captain’s landing vessel used by the French navy in the 1700s. A longboat from the Wolfe Tone attempt was found in the bay and eventually ended up in Bantry House. There have been international races featuring the longboats and their 13-person crews and again Diarmaid has been involved.
The Blue Cliff
Other points of interest included the very scenic Bantry Golf Club, the hill of Seskin, the various smaller islands, the ruin of the jetty wrecked in the 1979 explosion and more. I may well have missed out on some others as sometimes, with the wind, it was hard to hear each other and it was not a day to be taking notes and not the best of days for photos either. But the whole experience was brilliant, exhilarating for these two ancient land-lubbers.

Thanks a million to Diarmaid and we wish him well on his sight-seeing venture next summer and will let you have details when available.

Read all about our dinner at the Fish Kitchen here.
Reckon this guy would fancy a mussel
The Blue Harvest. The mussels farmed here are Blue Mussels.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Fish Kitchen’s Special. A Taste of West Cork Waters


The Fish Kitchen’s Special
A Taste of West Cork Waters

As we walk up the stairs to our Bantry restaurant, the multi-event A Taste of West Cork festival is in full swing, heading for its closing weekend. Many attractive food options around the towns and villages but knowing punters make their way to the Fish Kitchen and a packed house enjoys the best produce from the local shores and seas. The Kitchen crew are busy but not a bother as the delicious meal is served.


“Freshness, simplicity, quality” is what they promise here and that is exactly what we get. Excellent service too, a good choice of wines and craft beer and good company too at the long tables. We enjoy the chat with Esther and Joe from Cappoquin and Jim and Barbara from the town.


Diarmaid, who owns and runs the Fish Kitchen with his wife Ann-Maria, served us a simple Amuse Bouche, a sharing plate of Sheep’s Head periwinkles with garlic. Hard to get them out of the little shells but well worth the effort!

Next up was a trio of Smoked Salmon, Prawns and Oyster. Tasty stuff. Excellent salmon, amazing prawns from the bay outside and a superb Carlingford oyster. Quite a hat trick of flavours.

We were very happy with that and got even happier with the next round: Steamed Bantry Bay mussels with Stonewell Cider. We had been out on the bay earlier and had seen the lines and lines heavy in the water with rope-grown mussels. And here they were now on our plate, meatier and tastier than any I’ve tried in recent times.
Croquettes

Another course was on the way as the Salterio Albarino level in our bottle was falling and this was another handsome combination: Union Hall Smoked Pollack and crabmeat croquettes, served with a simple salad.


Now for the big one: herb crusted Castletownbere Hake with sun-dried tomato and Gubbeen chorizo pesto. Sometimes in Ireland we smother delicate fish with heavy sauces. Not here. The Hake was the star, the others there just to show it off to perfection. And, yes, it was perfect, as were all the courses.
Hake

And of course there was dessert. Here we had a choice and the Plum Crumble won hands down at our table; maybe the lavender infused pannacotta found takers at the other tables!

While this was a special dinner (we paid 45 euro a head) for the festival, you will get the freshest of fish, skilfully handled and simply presented at a fair price every day, lunch and dinner, at this town centre venue. And, if you are eating at home, then grab some fresh fish from the family market on the ground floor!
Crumble

New Street
Bantry 
Co.Cork
(027) 56651


* Diarmaid was our host on our earlier trip around the bay - check it out here. He has been doing it a bit over the past summer and intends to make it a permanent feature next year. A proud native of the area, he is a superb guide to the huge bay, its geography and amazing history. His sturdy rib will take six paying passengers so keep an eye out for that in 2019.



Thursday, September 13, 2018

Harmony On An Indian Plate. Exquisite Food At Richy’s Tasting

Harmony On An Indian Plate. 
Exquisite Food At Richy’s Tasting
Tandoori chicken #2 on menu


Meeran Gani Mazoor, head chef at Richy’s showed his native cuisine to perfection at the Clonakilty venue on Wednesday evening as part of A Taste of West Cork. Oh yes, there was spice but such was the harmony created in each dish by the chef that nothing jarred as we enjoyed six amazing courses.

1 - South Indian lentil soup (sambhar). That harmony was evident from the start with this lovely soup. Indeed, we had had already begun with a delicious Prosecco with rose and pomegranate.

2 - Tandoori chicken, Bombay aloo, tandoori broccoli. Tandoori chicken like never before and that crisp broccoli was outstanding also. Aloo by the way means potato!

3 - Mali Kofta, puffed quinoa. Looks like meatballs on the plate but this, like the soup, was vegetarian, a vert tasty cream sauce based ricotta dumpling, the cheese a standout flavour in the mix.

4 - Scallops, sesame seeds, cumin and cashew crumble, pickled red onion, pea tikki, peanut ginger sauce. The harmony that Meeran mentioned afterwards is easily illustrated here. Take a pice of that pickled onion on its own and it is quite powerful. Take it with the rest and it blends in in a delcious almost gentle amalgam of flavours and textures. That pea tikki (patty) was another feature.

5 Mughal seekh kebab with pistachio, saffron butternut squash purée, spiced vermicelli, pomegranate raita. This was probably the piece de resistance. The meat (a marinated mince roulade) was perfect, not what you’d get in your takeaways, and the raita was a perfect accompaniment.

6 Gajar halwa, almond and cashew nut cake, vanilla ice cream, praline. Okay guys, I did’nt know that I was getting carrot cake (Gajar Halwa) but I was glad that I did. Indeed, this was something of a tour de force of a dessert as both the Carrot and the superb Nut Cake would have been fine on its own or with the ice-cream. But we scored on the double here!

The restaurant had quite a selection of drinks available, as it always does, but we decided to go with wine. We didn’t spot any Riesling or Grüner Veltliner and picked the Birchmore Charrdonnay from South East Australia and it turned out to be quite a delicious wine and, just as importantly, more or less a perfect match!

Meeran Gani Manzoor, newly appointed Head Chef at Richy’s Restaurant in Clonakilty is a graduate in Culinary Arts Management from the University of West London. His broad international experience has been acquired while working around the globe, in countries such as Belgium, UK and USA.

Daphny Hilven: Before working in L’Aperi Vino, Goei Goesting and Buon Eatalia in Hasselt, Belgium as Chef de Cuisine, Daphny worked at Bistro Binnenhof, which has a Michelin bib and La Source, which has 2 Michelin stars. This is her menu for the Belgian Tasting Menu, tonight, Friday in Richys (7.00). Call (023) 882 1852.

Soup Parmentier
Clonakilty Black Pudding & Truffle croquet, mustard sauace
Fish & Strofrietjes, Tartare Sauce
Organic Chicken Breast, mushrooms, pine nut purée, crisoy skin, dauphin potato.
Irish Hereford Beef medalion, béarnaise sauce, mash potato, gratin chicory wih ham.
Moelleux aux chocolate with Irish Whiskey salted caamel sauce, vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Taste of West Cork Festival. A Personal Selection of the September Events.


A Taste of West Cork Festival
Some of the Best.
There is so much to do in next month’s major festival, A Taste of West Cork: over 250 events, spread over 41 towns and villages and eight islands. And, despite the one hundred thousand welcomes, you’ll find it difficult enough to make your choices. So, this is where my digest comes in. 

While I don’t know West Cork like the back of my hand, I have a decent amount of experience there, including at this festival. So, if you lose patience with the official multi-page guide (especially if you’re reading it online), check out these suggestions divided into BARGAIN, OFF PLATE (eating not essential!), A/N (afternoon), EVENING, and BtB (bust the budget). Some of these are free or have just nominal charges. 

By the way, I have omitted the guest chefs/pop up events. I have mixed feelings on these because I’ve had mixed experience of them. I’ll leave the decision up to yourself but do get as much information from the venue in advance as possible and that should help avoid any disappointment.

The programme has been published in national and local newspapers and is available online hereSomething for everyone. Take your pick and enjoy! 

Baltimore

Friday Sep 7th
BARGAIN: Traditional Fishing, Boats, Pots and Lines. Free. 2.30 Baltimore
OFF PLATE: Lough Hyne To The Sea. Kayaking €65.00
A/N: Afternoon Sea - seafood savouries at Seaview House Hotel, Ballylickey €29.00
EVENING: Lobster Garden Party with Diana Dodog at The Lifeboat Inn, Courtmacsherry €55.00
Sherkin Island

Saturday Sep 8th
BARGAIN: The Honey Bee, with experienced bee-keeper at Organico, Bantry. €10.00.
OFF PLATE: Pencil to Garden to Plate, drawing class with Annabel Langrish at Heron Gallery Cafe €50.00 inc lunch.
A/N: Islander’s Rest BBQ with Derry Clarke. Sherkin 1.00pm €20.00
EVENING: The West Cork Food Tour. Manning’s Ballylickey from 6.00pm. Farm Tour and BBQ €80.00
BtB: The Ancient Craft of Blacksmithing at O’Driscoll Ironworks, Durrus Day long class €150.00
Garinish Island, Glengariff

Sunday Sep 9th
BARGAIN: Kilcrohane Country Fair 2-6pm. Stall, producers, music, BBQ (€5.00)
OFF PLATE: Hidden Edibles, The Ewe Experience, Glengarriff, 10.00 to 11.00am, €12.50
A/N: Tarte Tatin Demo & Tasting by John Desmond at Heir Island 2.30pm, free but pay for ferry
EVENING: The Celtic Camino Dinner at Gougane Barra Hotel. Caminos popping up everywhere. Dinner is €50.00.
BtB: ——
Michael Collins event, 10th September, Clonakilty

Monday Sep 10th
BARGAIN: Manage your own herb garden, Organico Bantry 4.00pm, €5.00
OFF PLATE: Plastic is a Plague. A seminar with distinguished speakers at Liss Ard, Skibbereen, 11.00am-3.00pm, €20.00.
A/N: Devoy’s Organic Farm visit. Vegetables, eggs, chickens stories 2.30pm Three euro
EVENING: Scannell’s Tastes of the Sea Aperitif plus 5-course feast of fish. 7.00pm €60.00
BtB: —-


Tuesday Sep 11th
BARGAIN:  The Secret Garden, The Sutherland Centre, Skibbereen. A true secret garden. Free.
OFF PLATE: Art and the Great Hunger, a guided tour of this incredible exhibition at Uillinn, Skibbereen, two euro
A/N: Cream Tea at the Top of the Rock, Drimoleague. Guided Walk around eco-farm before grand tea and scones. €12.00.
EVENING: Wine & Dine at Deasy’s in Ring. Italian wine and Caitlin Ruth’s cooking combine in five-course meal from 7.00pm for €55.00.
BtB: Heron & Grey at The Mews Inventive Tasting Menu, 7.30pm, €95.00

Wednesday Sep 12th
BARGAIN: Ummera Smokehouse, Timoleague. A marvellous visit and tasting for free. 10.30am
OFF PLATE: Bere Island and the Great Famine. Informative historical bus tour 12.00pm to 2.00pm and packed lunch €30.00. Ferry at 11.30am extra.
A/N: Wild Berry Bakery, Ballineen.  Bakery visit and samples. All proceeds to charity. Entry €5.00
EVENING: A Taste of India at Richy’s Clonakilty. Welcome drink and multi-course Indian meal by Meeran Gani Manzoor, Head Chef at Richy’s. €60.00.
BtB: Intimate Dinner at Inish Beg House on Inish Beg Island. Formal dinner surrounded by country house grandeur, silver service. €95.00

Thursday Sep 13th
BARGAIN: Tasting (and bottle to take away) for a fiver at 9 White Deer Brewery in Ballyvourney. 2.00pm
OFF PLATE: Tea and Tales on Dursey Island. Take the cable car across and then a guided bus tour with dramatic views and island stories. Tea costs 25 euro and cable car is extra.
A/N: Bean and Grain, chocolate and beer at Clonakilty Brewery. The chocolate will be by Alison of Clonakilty Chocolate and there’ll be lots of pairings. €25.00
EVENING: A Taste of Organico, hosted by Hannah and Rachel Dare who’ll have dozens of their producers on hand including Fermoy Raw Milk, Mary Pawle Wines and Sally Barnes Smokery. Samples galore and even a glass of wine is included in the 5 euro fee. 5.30pm to 8.00pm.
BtB: ——
Welcome to Union Hall Smoked Fish

Friday Sep 14th
BARGAIN: Martin Shanahan of Fishy Fishy puts on a brilliant demo, very engaging with his audience, especially the younger ones. See him from 10.00 in Fields of Skibbereen. Free.
OFF PLATE: Live Life Well. A students’ food and lifestyle conference at Skibbereen Community School. From 10.00am to 2.00pm, hear talks, see demos, and sample at the mini-market. All free.
A/N: there’s a tour of the Union Hall Smoked Fish facility at 2.00pm, a lovely family run business. The Nolan's are a generous bunch and they won’t charge you a cent yet, a similar event two years back, there was no shortage of samples and even a glass of wine.
EVENING: Real Food from Here is the title of the event at Macroom’s Castle Hotel where the Buckley family invite you to a dinner featuring real food. Real wine too from Le Caveau with Colm McCan doing the pouring and talking. €60.00 including dinner and wine. Special overnight rate.
BtB: ——
Walking on Sheep's Head

Saturday Sep 15th
BARGAIN: A 2.5 hour walk on the Sheeps Head with guide Charlie McCarthy (086 2333420). Registration at 11.30am, walk at 12 noon. Meet at the cabin Ahakista.Free
OFF PLATE: Meet at the car park in Barley Cove Hotel on your way to the Three Castle Head Walk, one of West Cork’s hidden gems, with breath-taking views. Starts at 3.30 and duration is 90 minutes. Free. Contact: 0868808190.
A/N: Fish and Whiskey Brunch is the unpriced event at the Glandore Inn with local man Bryan McCarthy doing the cooking and West Cork Distillers supplying the  spirit. All proceeds to LauraLynn children’s Hospice and Union Hall Inshore Lifeboat.
EVENING: I suspect that Taste of the Sea at Arundels by the Pier (Ahakista) will sell out fast with Head Chef Dominique Carucci presenting a delicious Taste of the Sea menu. Five courses for €50.00.
BtB: The big spenders can whip out that credit card again as they go to Eat, Drink and Sleep at the Castle, Castletownsend. At 7.00pm, the six course meal, paired with selected wines and beers, will get underway. Slip upstairs much later, wake to a spectacular view of the bay and a hearty breakfast. Cost overall: €220.00 per person.

Sunday Sep 16th.
Still a good share of events on the closing Sunday but undoubtedly the focus will be on the Festival Finalé, the Sunday Street Market in Skibbereen. It starts at noon and as usual there’ll be bands, and dancers, craft, and food to eat and take away and a children’s entertainment area. A superb finalé to a marvellous festival that encompasses over 250 events.

Reen Pier area