Showing posts with label Ballinwillin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ballinwillin. Show all posts

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Exquisite New Seasonal Menu at Montenotte's Panorama.


Exquisite New Menu at Montenotte's Panorama.
Superb Food. Great Views Too.
Hake

The foyer of the Montenotte Hotel is abuzz as we enter last week. Lots of shiny suits and colourful dresses fill the comfortable spaces. And the buzz continues into the Panorama Bistro where we thankfully have a booking (they are turning people away) and where we are about to enjoy a surprisingly delightful meal.

Well, maybe not that surprising! We have been studying the menu and it looks very inviting indeed. At the table, among the family parties celebrating their new graduates, we see that this evening there are no less than nine specials, three under each of the main headings. Besides, we have some inkling of what new chef Liam Kirwan is capable of as we enjoyed a delicious lunch during the summer at Mikey Ryan’s in Cashel (where he was then employed).
Crab

And big kudos too to the Panorama staff. They were busy but, nonetheless, they performed very well indeed, always with a smile and even finding time for a quick chat or two. So efficient were they, that there were no delays in getting the food to the tables. We were in early and some customers were leaving but soon the restaurant was full again, those with tables near the long window getting the full benefit of the great view over the city and, just underneath, over the lovely new gardens here.

But our eyes were on the menu, my hand on a pint of Chieftain Ale as they do offer the Franciscan Well beers here. You could well start with one of their Snacks, a Cashel Blue Rarebit among them, but we go for the dishes under Starters and get two beauties.

CL picks for the Crab Gratin with Wheaten Bread Crust. Clearly stated. No big highfalutin phrases on this menu. But the dish is high class, packed with flavour and a little spice and she declares it as one of the best crab starters she’s ever had.

But, we agree, mine is even better. The Roast Jerusalem Artichoke and Shallot Jam Tart with walnut ricotta, is pleasing to look at and its melange of flavours and textures is hard to match. Not too sure that any starter I’ve had in recent months comes anywhere near this gem!

CL is a Hake lover (Hake’s not my pet name, by the way) but not so much if this delicious fish is smothered in a creamy sauce. No danger of that here (none of the four fish dishes, including the two on special, has a cream sauce). Her Saffron Poached Hake, with Gubbeen chorizo, butterbean and charred Padrón pepper casserole is a magnificent melange of flavour, texture and smoky aromas. Really top class.
Venison Wellington

My mains is deceptive, looks like a small pie in a big dish. Maybe I should have had ordered a side. But the Ballinwillin Venison Wellington is loaded with the aromas and tastes of Autumn in the wild - that “little pastry” packs a powerful punch of flavour and texture, with no little help in that department coming from the cavolo nero (the kale of Tuscany), the dark chocolate jus and the roast celeriac. As you can see from this dish, the new menu is seasonal and local (Ballinwillin is in Mitchelstown).

Quantities here are, like the quality, very well judged indeed. You won’t really be stuffed, unless of course you wish to be and indulge in some of the tempting sides which include Truffle and Rosemary Fries, Buttered Greens, and Creamed Spinach to mention just a few. 
Plum Pie
So we had room for dessert and went for the one we had noted when we first got our hands on the menu: the Mulled Plum Pie. Another beauty and another seasonal dish, so you’d better get in there quick and, don’t forget, make a reservation!

Excellent choice of desserts (again three extras on special) but I’d better tell you about the cheeseboard as it illustrates the kitchen’s commitment to local. The description is Milleens, Crozier Blue, Daru, Cooleeney Camembert, oat cakes, whiskey honeycomb, barm brack, walnut brittle, pear. If you get that, sit back and relax and hold off on that taxi for a while!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A Magical New Menu at the Maryborough. Dinner at Bellini’s is a Top Local Treat

Dinner at Bellini’s is a Top Local Treat
A Magical New Menu at the Maryborough
Cod

Bellini’s, the classy comfortable restaurant at the Maryborough Hotel, may be a little bit out of town but the short hop has been worth it in recent years and even more so now that Head Chef Gemma Murphy has introduced a splendid new menu.

We were there the other night and the biggest problem was trying to decide between the many tempting dishes. There are no less than eight starters for instance and ingredients used include Ballinwillin Boar Salami, Heirloom Tomatoes, Baba Ganoush, Confit Pork Belly, Dill and Albarino Cream and Velvet Cloud Sheep’s Yogurt.
Carrots

Finally, we settled on a couple and CL beat me to the Grilled Mackerel, Red Pepper, Baba Ganoush, Feuille De Brick, Coriander Oil (€10.95). “Lovely,” she said. “Different. The pepper, the baba ganoush. Lots of different flavours but all combining, nothing dominating.”
Mackerel

Having enjoyed carrots with buttermilk some time back in Paradiso, I thought the smoothly delicious Velvet Cloud Sheep’s Yogurt (from County Mayo) would go well with the carrots so that was one reason I went for the Warm Irish Carrot Salad with Charred Baby Gem, Velvet Cloud Sheep’s Yoghurt, Sesame, Lime and Honey Dressing (€8.50). The combination was sublime and those carrots with that dressing were so incredibly sweet. 

And that harmonious high continued with my beautiful main course:  Miso and Ginger Marinated Cod, Wakame Seaweed, Compressed Cucumber, Irish Shiitake Mushroom, Shiso Gel, Dashi Broth (€26.00). A marriage made in culinary heaven. The freshness of the fish, the clean flavours of the broth and the vegetables, the precision of the whole dish were amazing, nothing else needed.

Trout

And CL was also well satisfied with the Fillet of Irish Trout, Brown Butter Shrimp, Shaved Fennel, Pepper, Caperberries, Local Gubbeen Chorizo Bisque (€26.50). The fish itself was excellent and the accompaniments all played a part, especially the Chorizo bisque which was nicely judged, not strong enough as to dominate but strong enough to support.

Desserts often disappoint, often because they are the same old suspects. Not here though. Mine was the White Chocolate Mousse, Blackberry and Gin Gel, Macerated Blackberries (€7.95). A generous topping of that gel led to the delicious chocolate underneath, all served in a large glass. Excellent, very satisfying finalé for me. And CL was more than pleased with her Tropical Delice, Mango Sorbet, Toasted Coconut (€7.95).
White chocolate mousse

What a chef! Gemma has been doing this here for quite a while now but rarely pops up in short lists of the top Cork chefs. She’s certainly on mine, as is Bellini’s and their courteous, informative and efficient staff.

No shortage of drinks, including cocktails, here as the bar adjoins the restaurant. Quite a wine list too. I enjoyed a glass of Swallows Tail Sauvignon Blanc/Chenin from South Africa with the cod while the more aromatic Hooded Plover Semillon Chardonnay, from Australia, went very well with the trout. Think I got those pairings right! Gemma and her crew did everything else to make it a memorable meal.

Tropical Delice






Bellini's at The Maryborough Hotel
Maryborough Hill, Douglas, Cork, Ireland, T12XR12.
Tel +353 21 436 5555
Email: info@maryborough.ie







Monday, May 7, 2018

Cronin Sisters Walk The Walk as Old Blarney Butter Roads Festival Steps Up A Gear

Cronin Sisters Walk The Walk
 As Old Butter Roads Festival Steps Up A Gear

Quite a few tributes were paid to the women behind the Old Butter Roads Summer Féile at the 2018 launch in Blarney on Saturday. Two of those women are the Cronin sisters who spoke honestly and eloquently about the importance of local produce. 

Having talked the talk, the sisters, Tricia and chef Martina, showed they could walk the walk at a multi-course meal in their Square Table restaurant on Sunday night. Local produce was right, left and centre as the courses came to the table. 

The festival lasts all through May. The spotlight was on Blarney last weekend but will shift to Macroom, Kanturk and Mallow, Mitchelstown and Fermoy, to villages Aubane, Watergrasshill, and Whitechurch and to other parts of the general North Cork area. Check the website link below and also their Facebook page.

Toonsbridge Mozzarella with Follain red pepper chutney;
Bluebell Falls goats cheese and beetroot crumble;
Michael Twomey's crispy black pudding with red cabbage chutney;
McCarthy's black pudding wrapped with puff pastry, piccalilli and apple purée.
Annabella Farm micro-herbs.

Ballinwillin Farm wild boar and mushroom tortellini, onion purée

K. O'Connell's pan-fried hake, Bertha's Revenge Gin,
Jerusalem artichoke and mussel

Michael Twomey Butcher Angus aged rib eye, Tom O'Brien's free range egg
béarnaise (not shown but exquisite!), McCarthy's beef dripping chips,
and onion confit.

Longueville House apple brandy chocolate mousse,
buttermilk foam, expresso ice cream

Hegarty's cheddar and new Templegall (comté) cheese and Toonsbridge
scamorza , served with Follain relish and Longueville house apple brandy
and fig chutney and house crackers.


Sunday, May 6, 2018

A Bit of Banter. At Old Butter Roads Launch in Blarney


A Bit of Banter
At Old Butter Roads Launch in Blarney
Joe McNamee with, from left, Martina and Tricia Cronin and Lenka Forrest

“Sometimes you need to be broken to get stronger”, said Martina Cronin, Chef at the Square Table where her twin sister Tricia is front of house and manager, at the launch of the 2018 Old Butter Roads Food Trail in The Church Of The Resurrection Blarney on Saturday.

Martina was responding to journalist Joe McNamee whose gentle prompting drew some terrific answers from the chefs and producers on stage. Martina paid tribute to her mother: “The house was very food oriented.” But she was in transition year before she made her mind up to be a chef.

Ciaran Scully, teacher and chef, “had me ready for Dublin” where her education continued under top chefs Ross Lewis and Graham Neville. One of the things she learned along the way and which she and Tricia implemented at the Square Table was to use local as much a possible. “This way we met and got to know the local producers and that in some ways led to this festival.”
Hegarty's cheese

Joe asked Tricia how customers reacted to local produce. Her years in Jacques gave her a good grounding and introduced her to local produce. “I enjoy engaging with the customers on local produce and local producers. But you do need to know your stuff. There’s a lot of homework to be done, especially with new dishes. I find too that now locals and international customers are talking about the Old Butter Roads.”


Lenka Forrest who runs the Old Blarney Post Office Café in the village started here about two years ago and immediately “clicked” with the Cronin twins and Maire, the chair of the Old Butter Roads. “It is important to promote the great food that's within this area to locals and tourists. I was happy to get the call to join the OBR. And happy too to see how Irish food has changed over the past twenty years.”
Victor of Bluebell Falls

Pat Mulcahy
Lenka, originally from Czechoslovakia (“the Czech side!”), didn’t really have a food background. But spotted the closed-up Post Office and rented it. “I didn’t know anything about the business, about the margins. It is a tiny place - you can see us make everything. We use the right ingredients and give good customer service. I like sharing food and love to see people enjoying our food.”

Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Enjelvin is helping Dan Hegarty of Whitechurch make his great cheese for the past two years or so. He admitted he had no idea about Irish cheese but soon discovered “other amazing cheese makers, Gubbeen, Milleens, Coolea”. Hegarty’s are long renowned for their cheddar but Jean-Baptiste told us that the range is expanding, a Comte/Gruyere style, and had some delicious samples to share.


Zwena McCullough of the nearby Hydro Farm Allotments said she is passionate about growing. “We share everything in the allotments, including the fruit cage. It is organic, no chemicals, we have a great community from tiny tots to the quite elderly. A great variety of nationalities including a Moroccan lady who makes a great tagine! We help educate by running courses and so on.”


Victor from Bluebell Falls was also on the platform - they weren't all up together! And he told Joe his story. We visited his farm recently and you can see all the details here
Hydro Farm Allotments 


Pat Mulcahy from Ballinwillin Farm told us his business includes deer, wild boar, and goats, B&B, lunch, evening meals. He has about 40 meat products, all through organic farming. He found lots of obstacles at the start: “You need to be determined, lots of walls to jump.” Now he works with many chefs to get his food message across.


And while he meets some of the biggest names in the industry it is often at home that he feels the big pride. “The chest expands,” he admitted, “when I’m sitting around the breakfast table with guests from many countries enjoying the farm food as was the case this morning.” You’ll probably be hearing more from Ballinwillin about wellness and the link with food as they are seriously looking at the influence of quality and authenticity on good health.


All together now!

Pat also imports his own wine from Hungary. “Some of the best winemakers in the world are in Hungary but they don’t sell. We were lucky to get into partnership in a cellar and now bottle and import our own range of wine. Growing grapes is like farming - that's what attracted me."

The Aubane community seem to be ahead of the posse on the Old Butter Roads as they celebrated the 250th anniversary 20 years back and Celeste Buckley told us on Saturday about another celebration on May 18th next, the 270th, with a five course meal at the local community centre to be followed by music and dancing. “We have a very exciting menu for the event and are really looking forward to the night.” Details on here
Jean-Baptiste

Kanturk too will be involved and we heard from Timmy McCarthy, the 5th generation butcher from the town. “We can't move forward without taking inspiration from the past. We have a rich array of producers and it all needed direction. This is a platform to promote the area!”


Joe McNamee then officially declared the event open. “This is a tremendous initiative. Food and tourism are intertwined and contributed to the country's recovery. The quality of the food and the movement of small premium producers led to this. But don’t reserve your support for special occasions. Support these producers in your weekly shopping.”

Chairperson Maire Ní Mhurchu, a founder member, then invited us to sample the trays of tasty bites laid out for us and so we did. “We all have a passion about food,” she said earlier. “We are a  cooperative group and intend to show the area at its best. Our new website has been launched. As you know our logo is the Milk Churn.”

Joe McNamee launches the 2018 event.


“This is a great unspoiled area, yet very close to the city. There is a great heritage here and that shouldn't be forgotten either and the Aubane celebration is part of it as it the cart outside built by the local mens shed.”

Soon the celebrations began. Indeed, I suspect they had already begun in nearby Blairs Inn. Next stop after the church opening was Lenka’s cafe where Pat Mulcahy was roasting one of his wild boars. Lots of events coming up over the month so do stay in touch with the website and also their Face book page

Also of interest:


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Good food. Good Wine. And Two Amigos. Equals A Fun Experience in the Maryborough

Good food. Good Wine. And Two Amigos.

Add Up To A Fun Experience in the Maryborough
Venison

The Maryborough Hotel held their first ever wine dinner this week and it was a resounding sold-out success. Stanley A. Moss, representing the Riojan winery Luis Cañas, set the tone early on, promising to “be fun, not geeky” and fellow presenter John Wilson, the Irish Times wine writer, had no problem in making it a double act. The duo went to successfully impart plenty of information on the various wines without tying us up in technical knots.

Towards the end, John described the experience as “one of the bargains of the century!”, referring to the brilliant wines and the excellent food, and that was the cue for a round of applause for the Maryborough’s outstanding chef Gemma Murphy, with thanks too of course to Luis Cañas from Rioja Alavesa.

We were warmly welcomed at a lovely reception. Cava was on offer, a drink that John Wilson says is getting better and better, “different, distinctive”. The same words could well be attached to the Kalak vodka, produced by Tipperary man Patrick Shelley, “a rare single malt Irish vodka, distilled four times in Skibbereen” and available at the reception in a lovely cocktail.
Cod
Verdejo is one of my favourites white wine grapes and so I was delighted to see the Val de Vid 2016 paired with Scallops, Mandarin salsa and Yuzu Foam. Stanley said this aromatic and flavourful wine comes from Rueda and the production, from old vineyards, is small. It is difficult to obtain in Ireland and only available in restaurants.

John remarked that he thinks of it as the “Spanish Sauvignon blanc, with citrus, green fruits and dry like a New Zealand Sauvignon blanc.” He remarked that there are some cheap Verdejos out there and advised paying “a bit more to get the quality”. Tasty, aromatic and satiny and it got us off to a great start at the table.

We were now on to Cod, compressed cucumber, radish, shimeji, wakame, dashi, matcha green tea. More Verdejo? No, the reds were introduced, a lightly oaked elegant Crianza 2014, fruity on the nose and palate with a lively acidity playing a key role. John Wilson said that Rioja wines come ready to drink because of the ageing and classification system.  The pairing, by the way, was quite a success.
Beef Cheek Ravioli

Third course was Foie Gras, Crispy Chicken skin, Hazelnut and miso caramel and this was matched with the Luis Cañas Reserva 2011. John pointed out the main grape in Rioja is Tempranillo, “the Spanish variety”. Stanley said they do their best to produce good fruit. Sometimes that means cutting back on the yield and less grapes means more expensive wine. “But usually you get what you pay for.”

There was a double step up in class with the Gran Reserva being by-passed as we were treated to the Cañas Reserva La Familia 2011, a good year here in Rioja. With its pleasant and complex nose, round palate with great structure and juicy tannins, it was a super match with the Assiette of Ballinwillin Venison, perhaps the highlight of the meal.

And it paired well too with the next course, Beef Cheek Ravioli, kohlrabi, cured egg yolk and spilt red wine jus, 
Chocolate
This Familia is 85% Tempranillo with only the best of the grapes being selected to “magnify the good side”. It is a superb wine, intense and complex on the nose, “milkier, creamier on the palate”, powerful with chocolate notes (which came in handy as the dessert was Chocolate Pave with Cherry).

At that stage, some more “sweets” appeared as well, as did a Black Twist Cocktail. Black Twist, invented by Conor Coughlan, is a blend of coffee and whiskey and you may read more about it here.  

All good things come to an end but I have the strong impression that the Maryborough will soon have another wine dinner. Watch this space!

* For more info on the wines check on Searsons.com


Food & Wine Event February 13th 2018 Tasting Menu 
Scallops, mandarin salsa, yuzu foam. 
Foie Gras, crispy chicken skin, hazelnut, miso caramel. 
Cod, compressed cucumber, radish, shimeji, wakame, dashi & matcha green tea oil. 
Assiette of Ballinwillin Venison Beef cheek ravioli, kohlrabi, cured egg yolk, spilt red wine jus. 
Beef Cheek Ravioli, kohlrabi, cured egg yolk and spilt red wine jus
Chocolate pave with cherry.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

My North Cork Collection. Including the Old Butter Roads Food Trail

My "North Cork" Collection
Including the Old Butter Roads Food Trail
Corrin Hill, one of many walks in North Cork area.

The Old Butter Roads Food Trail, launched earlier this year, is a cooperative effort between restaurants, producers and accommodation and activity providers in the North Cork area. 


North Cork is not an administrative area but then neither is West Cork. The boundaries are a bit flexible. The Food Trail organisers often refer to the three baronies of Duhallow, Muskerry and Avondhu (again none are administrative areas (except for GAA purposes!)) as being their constituent parts.

Blarney Castle

I have been visiting various restaurants and producers in the area over the past few years as you can see from the links below. Not all the places I've visited are necessarily members of  the Old Butter Roads Food Trail. If they are, you'll see the churn symbol displayed at the entrance or in their literature. Where there's a link below, it means that I have eaten, drank, visited or slept, maybe all four, at that place.

Glamping option at Ballyvolane House

So okay, just suppose you've landed in Blarney. Where to eat? Easy. Head to the The Square Table, Blarney in the evening. Just a few miles outside the village, you will find the boys of  Blairs Inn who'll feed you all day long (great place too for craft beer!). 
If you keep heading west, you may well end up in Macroom. Why not dine and stay the night in the Castle Hotel
Rainbow in Macroom

But perhaps you decide to head to the northeast. Lucky you will have much to choose from. Perhaps a day-time call to the Thatch and Thyme Café in Kildorrery. In the evening, visit the white deer at Mallow Castle and then call to the lovely and popular Peppers, Mallow for dinner. There are two cafes in Doneraile and, of course, the 166 hectare park with long and short walks that take you by the Awbeg River and herds of deer.

Deer in Doneraile Park

Lots of quality accommodation in the general area. Each of the three big houses below have an added attraction! Ballyvolane House near Castlelyons is the home of the renowned Bertha's Revenge gin. At Longueville House, enjoy the food and their very own cider, and don't forget their award winning Apple Brandy (as good as any from Normandy!).

Dinner is on. Longueville House

There's always a big welcome at Ballinwillin House & Farm and a tour of the farm where you'll see their Wild Boar and Deer. And the drink here is the wine, Chateau Mulcahy, from their very own vineyard in Hungary and the tasting is in a Hungarian style room. Cheers!

Wild Boar at Ballinwillin

And if you're a beer lover, then head west to the 9 White Deer micro-brewery in Ballyvourney.

He can talk and he can sing: Jack of McCarthy Butchers in Kanturk.

Looking for world class black-pudding and more? Then put McCarthy Butchers Kanturk on your list. You'll enjoy the produce and the chat. Close by, in Newtownshandrum you find the lovely Bluebell Falls Goats Cheese




Bluebell goat

Over in the Mallow direction, you'll come across Old Millbank Smoked Salmon. In the Blarney area, Hydro Farm Allotments and Blarney Chocolate are worth a check.
Toons Bridge

For great cheese and all things cheese related, Toons Bridge Dairy near Macroom is a must stop. Here too they have a café with lovely snacks and lunches, wine, even their own pizza oven.


View from Griffin's at lunch-time. Water-skier not guaranteed!
 A great place to sample what the area has to offer is the Killavullen Farmers Market. Lots of people like the garden centre and café double and you can score a good one at Griffin's Dripsey. Garden Centre & Restaurant.
Killavullen Farmers Market

If you venture into the Shandon area of the city, you'll find the place where all these old butter roads ended. While there, why not visit the Butter Museum (you might even see them making butter) and then ring the bells at St Anne's. Blarney Castle, right in the village, draws tourists from all over the world.

View of Firkin Crane from St Anne's Shandon

If you don't fancy sitting down, eating and drinking all day and need to stretch those legs then check out Blarney based Activity Days, with lots of choice for kids and adults. If you just have enough time for a short walk, there are a couple in Blarney, including the Blarney to Waterloo Loop. You'll enjoy your dinner, and the rest, that night!

Peppers in Mallow

Some other Butter Roads Food Trail members:

Annabelle Farm;
Follain, Baile Bhuirne;
Hegarty’s Cheese, Whitechurch;
O'Brien’s Free Range Eggs, Whitechurch;
Osbourne’s Butchers, Blarney;
Real Meat Co-op, Boherbue, Mallow;;
Twomey’s Buchers, Macroom;
Castle Hotel, Blarney;
Nibbles Cafe, Milstreet;
O Callaghan’s Delicatessen & Restau- rant, Mitchelstown;
Old Post Office Cafe, Blarney;
Praline Pastry Shop, Mitchelstown;
THe Farm Grenagh;
Old Post Office Cafe, Blarney