Showing posts with label ABC Bread. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ABC Bread. Show all posts

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Electric Spice Up Valentine's Night With New Tasting Menu

Electric Spice Up Valentine's Night With New Tasting Menu

About 12 months back, with Covid on the retreat, Electric ventured into Asian and now, just this week, they made their new Asian Tasting Menu the centrepiece of their Valentine’s Night offering.

Electric's Asian aficionados needn’t worry. You’ll still get those Asian dishes you have become used to, such as the Malay Chicken Satay, the Japanese Chocolate Cake, Okonomiyaki (the Japanese pancake), Chicken Katsu Curry, and Sweet Waffles. And there is also a Vegetarian Menu on offer. The new Tasting Menu is designed to extend the dining options in one of Cork's favourite dining-rooms, one of the City’s very few upstairs rooms, with views over the river and the Mall.

And there’ll be the usual beer selection including Asahi and Cobra to give the Asian touch along with locals such as Original 7 and KPA and not forgetting Stonewell Cider. Local Kinsale whiskey will of course will be there for you and they will also feature in the cocktails (many Asian themed). Fancy an Electric Avenue? Perhaps a Kyoto Daiquiri? Span the world in a couple of cocktails. 

Pic by Electric

Great to get the chance to try out the new menu on Valentine’s. Tables of four were encouraged and we two had some help. After a warm welcome and a few tips and hints, our first task was to decide on what to drink. Wine seemed to be the preferred option. I’m familiar, happily, with the Domaine Bousquet Organic Malbec and that helped start the evening off, getting thumbs up around the table. 

We stayed with the red and our second, following a well-founded tip by manager Aaron O’Gorman, was the La Garde Rouge from the Languedoc, a supple wine which is a blend of Carignan, Grenache & Merlot, perfect with the duck, the evening’s highlight. Both wines are actually included in the Matching Wines option that you may choose if you wish to further enhance the Tasting Menu.

Succulent Skeaghanore

I mentioned the well-presented duck there. It was Skeaghanore Duck Breast, cooked with precision, served simply with a Pine Peppercorn Sauce and confit carrots. Simply superb actually. Skeaghanore is always a winner but wrapped in this delicious sauce, it reached another level, tender and succulent, packed with flavours and aromas, quite a taste sensation.

Just before that, we had enjoyed the Clonakilty Bao Bun. Always a little suspicious of that bao but no need to worry on this occasion and that was mostly down to the delicious filling of Clon Black Pudding, the Bull Dog sauce, apple and the sweet crispy onion. Quite a feast for the senses, even visually as they came packed, two by two, in a bamboo container, just a little bit of theatre, a little bit of fun in keeping with the spirit of the evening.

The dining had started with Miso Soup that came to the table with seaweed and silken tofu “floating” and waiting to be hooked. And with it, came some of the ABC “Oat Topper” Soda Bread. A lovely tasty warming start. 

Next, Cork Mussels arrived all dressed up, Thai style. The colours in the bowl certainly caught the eye and the taste buds were well engaged by the perfectly judged spicy sauce in which the little Ballycotton bivalves gently rested. A bit messy of course but spot-on excellent.

And, of course, after the excellent bao and duck, there was to be a sweet ending. Though there were one or two at the table a little hesitant when they saw coconut mentioned in the dessert description. But again no need for worry as the Chilli Rum Pineapple (with coconut ice-cream) was another well-balanced beauty with no single element dominating. Just a perfect sweet end to a lovely evening.

The 5-course tasting menu is now available and costs €49.50.

ABC “Oat Topper” Soda Bread

Miso Soup

Cork’s Ballycotton Mussels

Clonakilty Bao Bun

Skeaghanore Duck Breast

Chilli Rum Pineapple

Electric contacts

Instagram: electriccork




Tel: 021-4222990.


Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Susan’s Award-winning ‘Jewelled Christmas Cake’ Is A Festival Gem

Susan’s Award-winning
 ‘Jewelled Christmas Cake’ Is A Festival Gem

Great excitement for Susan Robbins Fehilly when her Christmas cake was declared the overall winner at the recent Irish Quality Food & Drink Awards. I could say it was the icing on the cake but there’s no icing on this champion, just a crown of preserved fruits and nuts. 

The “Jewelled Christmas Cake” is indeed a winner as I found out when I sampled it last weekend. I spoke to Susan who recalled the night of triumph: “What a fantastic night it was at the Irish Quality Food Awards 2019! Winning not only the Christmas cakes and pudding category, but also the overall Christmas Q award. Of course, not forgetting our Chocolate and Raspberry cake which won the Good Choice cakes and biscuit category!”  Wildberry is a regular award winner but this was something special.
And that cake is something special. Once I got it home, a small slice was extracted and I sat down in anticipation with an Americano at hand. It is absolutely delicious. The fruit cake itself is superb, wonderful textures and flavours and the fruit and nuts from the crown add an extra individual flavour as you take a nibble from the top of your slice every now and then. Easy to see why the judges went for this one, Wildberry’s first attempt at the Christmas Cake market.

The Wildberry bakery is located in the village of Ballineen, West Cork. It has both a Gluten Free & a Floury unit. Their complete focus is on taste and quality. All cakes are handmade to taste perfection using only the best ingredients. For instance, Clonakilty free range eggs and Bandon butter are used in the Christmas cake, no preservatives, no additives. Susan’s ethos is to create great flavours and textures, particularly in her Gluten Free Range. Her influences are French but her passion is for Irish ingredients and the excellence of Irish food.

It also looks stunning, with that necklace of preserved fruits and nuts on top instead of traditional icing. And a little tip. All you need here is a small slice, such is the concentration of flavour. It’s a bit like sipping a very fine wine as against a run of the mill bottle -  a little goes on long way. At an rrp of €15 for an 800g cake, this would be a welcome gift in any home, especially your own!

It is available in in the following Dunnes stores, at the ABC Bread concessions: Cornelscourt, Rathmines, Naas, Bishopscourt [ Bandon Rd ] Cork, Jetland [ Limerick].
The 800g [€15] and the 1600g [ €25] are also available at ABC in the English Market.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Taste of the Week from Kilbrack Farm. Buy local, fresh and fair.

Taste of the Week
from Kilbrack Farm

I found my current Taste of the Week in the superb kale on sale at the Kilbrack Farm stall in the Coal Quay Farmers Market last Saturday. They have other amazing organic vegetables, as does Caroline Robinson a few stalls away. It doesn't have to be just at the Coal Quay. Midleton or Douglas Markets may be more convenient for you. I plan to go to Killavullen next Saturday morning. If Saturday doesn't suit, head to Mahon Point on Thursday. There's a couple of excellent farmers stalls there and don't tell me the markets are expensive. Last week, I got five or six superb carrots in Mahon for one euro!

After the Coal Quay last Saturday, I called to the English Market. Eoin O'Mahony had a lovely piece of porchetta* to go with the kale. There was bread from ABC and paté from On the Pig's Back. As you know, there's lots of other stalls in both markets so no shortage of choice. The point I'm making is support local, buy fresh and fair and you'll end up with a taste of the week that suits your tastes and your budget and, more than likely, your health. The longer my food's journey, the less I trust in it (anyone been watching Rotten on Netflix?). So buy local and from a trusted source. The more we pull together, the further we will go.

* Speaking of pork, we got a delicious shoulder from Woodside Farm at Mahon Thursday; cooked low and slow with seasonal root vegetables, it gave us a very satisfactory dinner on Sunday, as it regularly does.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Kay Harte and The Farmgate Café's Early Years. Twenty Five Years in the English Market.

Kay Harte and The Farmgate Café's Early Years
Twenty Five Years in the English Market.
The Farmgate above the English Market, its Restaurant on the far right, the Balcony on the left.

The 16 year old is sitting with her mother in a room overlooking the Front Strand in Youghal in the mid 1960s. It is the house of her mother’s friend and the table is set for dinner. The teenager remembers the table setting, especially those flowers floating in a bowl.

The meat was boiled leg of mutton and the teenager was given a bit of the nap of mutton as a treat. “I never forgot that meal,” she told me recently. “It was my first time at an adult meal and it was absolutely divine."
The younger generation at The Farmgate with Rebecca Harte (3rd left at rear).

Kay Harte at ease.
That 16 year old was Kay Harte and we were speaking in her café, The Farmgate, celebrating 25 years in the English Market. When I had asked her what had been her best meal ever, I had prefaced it by saying it would be a hard one to answer. “Not at all,’ was the immediate reply. It was memorable indeed. “That was my first realisation that plain simple Irish food can be so sophisticated."

Soon afterwards she got her first cookery book, by Robert Carrier. “I still have it, still use it, I have to very careful handling it now. He was particularly good at Italian dishes and my first Spaghetti Bolognese was his.” I asked Kay what her favourite non-Irish cuisine was. Well, she likes Middle Eastern and Spanish but especially Basque.

Let us fast forward now to 1994, the year  a nervous Kay opened the Farmgate. Though she had worked, “on and off” with sister Marog, who had started the still strong Farmgate in Midleton ten years earlier, she had never run a business. There was competition too. Famous chef Michael Clifford was trading very successfully in his café across the street!
President Michael Higgins at the Wall of Poetry in the Farmgate when his poem Stardust was added in 2018. Kay has long believed that our food is part of our culture and the Hartes have supported the arts here from day one.

Besides, the English Market wasn’t exactly at its best then. Marog though was having none of it. “You’ll have no problem. The market is your larder.” They brought the Midleton Farmgate brand and ethos with them. “The focus was very much on what was available in the market downstairs, a focus that we’ve maintained ever since. There’s been great loyalty, on both sides.” Kay's daughter Rebecca is now the manager here. While Marog was quite the driving force, another sister, Claire O’Brien, was also very much involved and indeed worked with Kay for ten years. Many of you will have met and continue to meet Claire at Farmers Markets in recent years, selling cakes, tarts and loaves in her own stall under her Gan Gluten label.
The Farmgate ensured a strong spotlight was directed towards the often forgotten efforts of our Women of the South when the revolution was commemorated in 2016.

The Farmgate, as it turned out, was opening at a good moment, as some very interesting people were already there and more were coming onboard regularly and they started a momentum that has gathered pace and respect over the decades.

Toby Simmonds was there, Mary Rose too and also Iago. Isabelle Sheridan had started, working first with Anne Marie and Martin (who were making an organic French cheese out in Reenascreena) and then Isabelle, with a stall down by the Princes Street entrance, started introducing her French terrines, charcuterie and more. Hederman’s Smoked Fish arrived too and Sheila Fitzpatrick opened her ABC (Alternative Bread Company) stall shortly after Kay's arrival.
Majella Cullagh raises the market rafters from the Farmgate 

And they were all very helpful. Mary Rose Daly “was the go-to person, always helpful, no hesitation.” All the camaraderie was “a huge encouragement”. Kay also remembers that Kay O’Connell (the fishmonger and mother of Pat) was always ready with advice. And she also remembers Paul Murphy of Coughlan's Butchers as being exceptionally helpful. “He was the Ard Saoi of the market, a rock of common sense. He always listened and then invariably came up with the solution.”

She remembers too the sisters Siobhan and Eileen, each a stallholder. “They regularly came up for a cuppa and were incredibly supportive, pure Cork characters.” Declan Ryan (Arbutus Restaurant) was another who came up with great advice, “especially on cooking tripe”. 
Many famous people from the world of food have visited The Farmgate, including Claudia Roden (4th left)

Sometimes, bureaucrats get the thumbs down from business people but Kay recalls that they got fantastic support from City Hall, support that was essential in opening the new enterprise. So with all that support, the Cork Farmgate began to find its feet. “It was still a daunting task, especially the fit out." Furniture came from Eric Pearce, art via painters Tom Climent and Billy Foley and sculpture from Michael Quane. Finding its feet, establishing its character, starting out as she meant to go, food and culture in the melange.
Beara's Leanne O'Sullivan's poem on the Great Wall

It wasn’t all plain sailing of course. “There was that famous Christmas Eve,” Kay recalls. “Big queues, customers lined down the stairs. Then the power went - no lights in the kitchen.  I managed to stay calm, we got through it, but it was afterwards it hit me!”.

One bit of advice to restaurant owners. Take more heed of your customers than the food critics. Don’t be worried about the food writers. They don’t run cafés or restaurants, often more interested in what is currently in fashion. But your customers are in regularly, whether it’s just for tea and toast or a big lunch when the occasion demands. Look after them because they vote with their feet.

And that was underlined during our talk when Kay excused herself to walk a recently widowed elderly customer down the stairs and have a few words together on the way. You can have presidents (the Farmgate has fed a string of them) but Kay believes the regular customer is the real royalty here. And she practices what she preaches.
Kay and I at the meeting with US bloggers, New York's Amy Cao and San Fran's Chris Connolly (who took the photo). 
All other pictures from the Farmgate collection.

Eight years ago, Kay and I sat down at very short notice with two visiting US bloggers. Kay ordered samples of everything on the menu and told us all about each part of the dish as she shared it out. I don't think the Americans had ever seen any restaurant owner as informative (she explained our "great balls of flour") and as passionate about food and where it came from. All through the encounter, Kay emphasised the importance of local provenance. I'll say it again, Kay practises what she preaches, and it has stood the Farmgate well over the last 25 years.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

James Whelan opens 8th Butcher’s Shop. Son Pat keeps his feet on the ground.

James Whelan opens 8th Butcher’s Shop
Son Pat keeps his feet on the ground.
Display at new Whelan's shop in Dunnes Stores, Bishopstown Court.

I met Pat Whelan at the original James Whelan shop in Clonmel in November 2011. He took time out to have chat about that shop and also a new one in Avoca in Monkstown (Dublin) to which he was applying the finishing touches. Now he has eight in total. Progress has been amazing. 

I met Pat again at Dunnes Stores Bishopstown Court last Friday. He was there to play a role in the weekend celebration of the extensive renovations of the popular supermarket, a weekend to highlight the newcomers to the store including Whelan’s, Sheridan’s Cheese, ABC Bread, O’Connell Fishmongers, Baxter and Greens and Café Sol. 
Part of the new food hall

Again, the Tipperary man took time out for a chat. I reminded him about our first meeting and how he enjoyed going out to the marts and farms to meet the producers. Has the expansion put a stop to that? 

I was glad to get the answer that it hadn’t, an answer that I had more or less expected from a man who stays in touch with the grassroots, staying connected to the source. He goes out weekly and told me that only the Tuesday before he had bought about 40 cattle in the Fermoy Mart but what I hadn’t expected was that his 80 year father, after whom the shops are named, was on the road with him. Respect to both!
Dunnes Kiwi chef Matthew Brownie was promising the Irish an All Black grilling ahead of the big game.
He was just joking, of course!

But some things have of course changed and not just over the last seven years. Pat was (still is) a regular visitor to the English Market in the good old days. Then he felt it “was alive” when he walked through. It certainly was in your face. The food scene began to change back in 60s and 70s. It became “sanitised”, the connection with its source fragmenting, we agreed, me thinking of sliced pan and supermarkets as being among the agents of change.
O'Connell fishmongers

People like Pat, and luckily there are quite a few of them, kept the flame alive. “Good food is an investment in your future,” he says. “Great to see the youngsters coming into it, great to see them make the connection and great to see it done right. We owe it to ourselves and to the planet to really reconnect with nature.”

“Training is important,” he emphasised in answer to my query about Whelan’s Butcher Academy. Indeed, the good work of the academy has been recognised by a counterpart in South West France. “They want to do an Erasmus exchange with us where our trainees can swap experience with their French counterparts. It’s great for us to be recognised like that and great too for the apprentices.”
Whelan's Himalayan salt aged beef, before and after (so tender!)

The eight Whelan butcher shops are in Clonmel, Dunnes Stores Cornelscourt, The Swan Centre Rathmines, Dunnes Stores Blanchardstown Centre, Pavilions Shopping Centre, Swords, Avoca in Rathcoole and Kilmacanogue as well as Dunnes Stores Bishopstown Court. Pat is very happy about the link-up (now 30 months old) with Dunnes seeing them as a family company that “is all about the customer, the Better Value is not just a slogan, and they are very warmly regarded in Cork".

And it looks as if the Whelan shop is warmly regarded as well. “We’ve had a great welcome from our fellow debutants, Pat O’Connell’s and Sheila of ABC”. Whelan will have in-house competition from Dunne’s own butchers. He knows that his produce is top class and may cost a little more. A customer may like a treat at the weekend and something good but less pricey on a Monday. “Retail is all about choice,” he says and is quite happy with that.

Earlier Donnacha, the manager of Whelan's Bishopstown shop, showed me some of that choice. The Tralee native has worked for two and half years for Pat in Dublin and jumped at that chance to get back nearer home. “We started off four weeks ago and it took off straightaway, so far so good. Now we’re setting up for Christmas.”
And where there's Dunnes, there's Simply Better

The shop has a beautiful lay-out and lighting. It is well manned with expert help at hand as you choose between the different meats and the different cuts. 

A lot of the weekend focus was on “the big reveal”, the collaboration between Pat Whelan and Peter Hannan which has resulted in the amazing Himalayan Salt Aged Beef, now on sale exclusively in Whelan’s eight shops and at their online shop.

Hannan has constructed a Salt Chamber made of rock salt bricks from the Himalayas and here the beef spends over 35 days and the final result is exceptional quality with a truly unique flavour.  More details here.  

“We got a great welcome to Cork,” said Kevin Sheridan of Sheridan's as we chatted in front of their very impressive stall. And I use the word stall deliberately as it does resemble a market display. A big stall, mind you. Space to display the many cheeses - lots of Cork produce there too - and all the little bits and pieces (crackers, relishes for example) that go with them.
Yours truly with
Kevin Sheridan.

‘We have more Cork cheese here - in Galway we would have more from Galway - and find the customers very enthusiastic. Great to be in Dunnes too, as they are part of the Cork heritage.”

“We started as a small cheese stand, and this weekend, we are celebrating the opening of the Cork Bishopstown Court location with many local producers that we are proud to call our friends. We feel so lucky to work with many quality Irish producers and are thrilled to share their amazing work all under one roof in Dunnes.”

Like Pat, Kevin emphasised the importance of training. Sheridan’s have brought some of their more experienced people from their other shops to Cork for the time being, passing on that experience, all for the benefit of the customer.

Didn’t see Pat O’Connell himself but got lots of fish there, some frozen, some fresh, and some smoked (including Goatsbridge trout produced by my friend Mag Kirwan in Kilkenny). Must go back and try that red mullet! 

Also met some regulars on the food scene: Padraig O’Farrell was showing his Carrigaline cheeses at Sheridan’s and Aoife was doing a Kinsale Bay tasting nearby while Dunne’s Kiwi chef Matthew was threatening to grill the Irish at the rugby! Could have spent the day there but time caught up with me.

  • You may see a YouTube clip of Peter Hannan’s salt chamber here.
  • And see Hannan cook those amazing steaks here. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Culture Night Food

Culture Night Food
Some food stops on the Culture trail in Cork's English Market last evening.
Bottom: Chocolate Soup and Belgian Waffle with salted caramel,
 both by Lilly Higgins at the ABC stall. Above: O'Connell's Crab Cake with
Smoked Mackerel and Salmon by Hederman.
Top: Plate from the Olive Stall.
Main pic shows people queuing at Hedermans.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bavette Steak and Graffiti Aubergines

Must say I enjoy my trips around the EnglishMarket . So much to see. Just a selection from a weekend visit in the collage above. Some strange ones, such as the Graffiti Aubergines (top left) and familiar ones such as the Swedes (bottom left).

And while it is fun to look, it is much more satisfying to bring your bags and buy. One man I called to was Eoin at O’MahonyButchers. Have taken a shine to his Italian sausages but also like his bavette steak, now “the most popular cut in the shop, though it was a hard sell at the start”. Tasty, and economical!

The Real Olive Company is a regular stop and there was no exception this time. A wee bag of olives was the number one call but also stocked up with semi-dried tomatoes, a couple of packs of Iberico ham (the pigs feed on acorns) and I also chanced a tin of Portuguese Sardines. Next time, I’ll be going for those Feta Stuffed Sweet Peppers (Bottom right). 

The ABC bread stall is a must visit and quite often, the pick is the Country Baguette by Tom’s Bakery in Kinsale. Quite a healthy choice as it is Sugar Free and Dairy Free. Obviously, I like the texture and taste of it; it keeps longer than most sourdoughs and like most sourdoughs, it toasts up very well (useful to know if it starts to stale!).

Speaking of sourdough, I think Arbutus make the very best around, though some come close, and that and so much more is available at On the Pig’s Back. 

Another foodie treasure trove is the nearby Good Food Shop. They stock the excellent Ummera smoked products and I treated myself to a pack of Smoked Back Rashers. Looking forward to working my way through those!

So, lots to see in the English Market. But don’t forget to bring a couple of sturdy bags! I never do.