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Showing posts with label Atlantic Sea Kayaking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Atlantic Sea Kayaking. Show all posts

Monday, July 27, 2015

36 Hours in West Cork. Not that I was counting!

36 Hours in West Cork
Not that I was counting!


Baltimore sunset
I was thinking of Garrett Oliver, master brewer at New York’s Brooklyn Brewery, while I was eating lunch at Union Hall’s Coffee Shop last Thursday. Garrett related at the Ballymaloe LitFest how people, on first drinking one of his beers, tell him that it is so good it doesn't taste like beer. Garrett tells them, with some satisfaction, that what they have been drinking before is not real beer.

Well, here in Union Hall, our first call on our most recent trip to West Cork, I was eating real panini. I’m sure there are other good paninis out there but it is superb here, like nothing I've ever tasted before. It was packed with chicken, brie and pesto, all adding up to great flavours and terrific textures.
Panini
 The menu is short here as you'd expect but quality is high. And that is underlined with CL’s Quiche of Roast peppers, feta, Ballymaloe Relish. After that and a good cup of coffee we were on our way.


Having been in West Cork regularly, particularly this year, I were looking for one or two different things to see and do. West Cork obliged. Big time.


Graveyard on Myross Island
 After the Coffee Shop, we headed for Myross Island and found it. Drove up the narrow road to the graveyard which has terrific views over the Atlantic, including the nearby Rabbit Island. Next call was to Reen Pier where we ran into Jim Kennedy. He runs Atlantic Sea-kayaking and has his base here in this beautiful place.


We got some great views of it as we took the narrow road, rising up above the water, heading for a bridge that would take us to the other side and down to the peace and calm of Castletownsend with its distinguishing tree in the middle of the street, acting as a roundabout.

On the road above Reen Pier
 Baltimore was our destination for the night but there would be another stop or two on the way. First was the amazing Lough Hyne (the unusual seawater lough) and it was quite busy with many enjoying the sunshine, sitting around, swimming in the clear waters and others walking on the wooded hill above and getting fantastic views over the coast.


After all that activity, I felt we deserved a drink and knew just where to get it. On the way into Baltimore, we stopped at Casey’s Hotel. They have recently opened a microbrewery here and some of their Sherkin Lass Pale Ale went down a treat in the beautiful beer garden that overlooks the waters of Baltimore. They also do a red ale.


Rolling hills of West Cork
 Time then to check in at our accommodation. This was in Rolf’s. The Haffner family have been here for over twenty five years and their restaurant, where we enjoyed a terrific dinner at night, is well known. It is a great place to stay too, a fine and friendly base for the area.


In the morning, we were down on the pier, hoping to get a place on one of the boats going out to see the dolphins and, hopefully, a whale or two. But we had no luck. The lesson here is to book in advance.


Castletownsend
 So off we went to the Sheep's Head peninsula and stopped at the car park high in Seefin. We were almost sun-burned here a few months earlier but this day turned cloudy for a while and a strong wind greeted us as we climbed along the marked trail on top of the ridge. We got as far as the megalithic tomb before deciding to turn back. Not the best of days up there but still well worth the effort.


Down then to Old Creamery Cafe in Kilcrohane. This is a spanking clean spot with a menu of sandwiches, paninis, and salads and some home baking. We went for tea and some of that baking. I picked a Raspberry and Lemon Curd Sponge and those raspberries, fresh from the garden, were spectacularly juicy.


Courtyard garden at Rolf's
Refreshed now, we drove up the other side of this spectacular peninsula, heading for Durrus. Our stop though was at Ahakista to pay our respects to the three hundred plus victims of the Air India bombing disaster twenty years ago. Quite a few mementos, mainly wreaths, scattered here since the commemoration last June. Such a waste of life, such sadness.
Megalithic tomb on Sheep's Head
The sun was out as we headed over to Schull to see Walter Ryan-Purcell of Loughbeg Farm (now an open farm that you may visit). Walter, his wife and son, were up in Schull and we met them outside the Bunratty Inn, a gorgeous sun trap! Walter is well known in food circles and great to see the success Loughbeg is enjoying with their Oat Loaf. Look out for it in your local SuperValu.

Sweet! Old Creamery Cafe
 Down then to the pier and we were tempted by the fish dishes on offer at L’Escale but had a date in Rosscarbery and, after a walk on the path alongside the harbour in Schull, we headed for Pilgrim’s in Ross. Hadn't been there before, but is is easy to find as it is right smack bang in the centre of the village.

Ahakista's Air India memorial
 We were pleasantly surprised by the very high standard of the food here, a standard that many high class restaurants would find hard to match. We thoroughly enjoyed our few hours in Pilgrim’s before motoring back to the city.

Schull

Monday, September 8, 2014

Seaweed Featured in Multi-course Taste of West Cork

Seaweed Featured in Multi-course Taste of West Cork
Inchydoney Chef and team in top form


 Meet Jim and Maria Kennedy from the Intertidal Zone. “We spend most of our time there,” said Jim as they introduced us to the Magic of Seaweed at the start of the third annual A Taste of West Cork meal in the Inchydoney Island last Friday.


Jim and Maria had quite a few samples of the various seaweeds available (to taste, to touch) and spoke in detail of their different properties. “Seaweed is a super food….from a garden that doesn’t need to be weeded… dulse and carrigeen have traditionally been used in the Irish kitchen...Seaweed is also an amazing detox ingredient….makes a nourishing top dressing for your garden plants.”  And so much more.



West Cork garlic, organic Rosscarbery leeks, Clonakilty potato, and hand foraged Sea Vegetable Soup,
with a seaweed scone, tomato jam and roasted garlic cream cheese.
Jim advised to “look at the Spring tides when the better seaweeds are exposed”. “But,” he added, “If doing it yourself, be careful.” Read more about seaweed here.

Jim and Maria, who run Atlantic Sea Kayaking, are from Skibbereen but you could come across them almost anywhere, from the Liffey to Mexico, from Spain to Japan.

Rabbit and Harrington's black pudding, Shannonvale Chicken lollipop.
Friday evening though was firmly rooted in West Cork and Inchydoney Head Chef Adam Metcalf had the major task of blending all the marvelous products of the area, from its bountiful and beautiful land and sea, into a multi course meal as the week long festival, also named A Taste of West Cork, got underway. Surprisingly, there were no local beers, ciders or spirits included. Maybe next year?

Adrian, the local representative of Findlaters, took us through the various wines that had been picked to accompany the meal. We were greeted with a glass of Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Heredad Cava and that went very well indeed with the Seaweed Sushi (including an amazing toasted Nori) that came with Ummera Smoked Salmon and also the Smoked Shannonvale chicken with Pickled Ginger and Sea Kale.

Castletownbere Monkfish, wrapped in Gubbeen cured ham
with Carrageen Moss and caramelised Shallot Potato Puree.
Some gorgeous breads on the table as we sat down including a Dulse Seaweed, Marsh Samphire and Atlantic Sea Salt Loaf. And Sea Lettuce featured in the Bantry Bay Lobster Course as did a spiced Bluefin Tuna.

Next up was a hand foraged Sea Vegetable soup with a seaweed scone! Rabbit was stuffed with local black pudding and also accompanied by a Shannonvale Chicken Lollipop.

Elderflower Parfait
All the while, the wines were being poured and the next course, the Castletownbere Monkfish (caught by the Fair Maiden), was accompanied by an intense Albarino. The fish was wrapped in that terrific Gubbeen Cured Ham and there was some discussion as to whether the salt of the ham did the fish any favours. Someone suggested that a pancetta wrap would have been better. Someone else said the fish didn’t need a wrap at all!

Then on to the sweet things, an Elderflower Parfait (foraged elderflower, Valley View egg and Clona Dairy Parfait) with a hand picked Wild Damson Compote and a Bushy Strawberry Sauce. Delightful.

The finale.
To finish, there was a choice of Barry’s Tea or Java Coffee with Inchydoney Recipe Chocolate flavoured with seaweed, some oak smoked Gubbeen cheese along with the hotel’s own Plum and Sultana Chutney on an impressive Patisserie Royale Cracker, handmade in nearby Lisavaird by Richard Graham Leigh.

That last course was accompanied by a glass of Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port. The earlier wines were Vicar’s Choice Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (quite a favourite at our table), Pionero Mundi Albarino, and Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz (70%) Cabernet.


Findlater's Albarino

So well done to the many West Cork producers chosen this year and a big congrats too to Chef Adam and his crew who did the hotel proud.  I spoke to one guest who has been at all three events. He reckoned the first was a bit over the top (quite large portions all the way through), the second was underwhelming (probably in reaction to year one), but “this time they got it right”!  And so say all of us.
See account of the full day in West Cork, including Distillery visit, here.