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

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Splendid Festival Food From Market Lane. (and they'll be doing it again at Easter!)

 Splendid Festival Food From Market Lane

(and they'll be doing it again at Easter!)

Ballinwillin Venison Pit with Wisdom Ale & Flaky Pastry!
Side dishes were Creamy garlic potato gratin with Coolea Cheese and Thyme.
Fondant carrots, Braised Hispi Cabbage.

Spiced Veggie Moussaka (baked aubergines,
tomatoes, lentils and cinnamon, topped with
Toons Bridge Feta and Pinenuts.)

Tempting Moussaka, just out of the oven.

Chocolate cheesecake with
hazelnut Praline

Orange & Vanilla bread and butter pudding
with custard.

Just got in the Market Easter Menu. Very tempting!

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Tip Top Tapas and a lovely experience at Vikki's in Sunday's Well

 Tip Top Tapas and a lovely experience at Vikki's in Sunday's Well


“Wild mushroom and truffle arancini” 

“Tempura prawn, wasabi mayo” 

“Burrata, tomatoes, olives and sour dough”

“Mackerel Pate and watercress salad”

 “Wild mushroom bruschetta”

“Miso glazed tofu, sesame and smoked almond crumbs”

All and more chalked on the tempting Tapas Board at Vikki’s (which comes under the Blue Haven wing) in Sunday’s Well. 

Add in the Charcuterie board (Ballinwillin goat salami, bresaola, Serrano ham, Ummera smoked duck, salami, olives and croutons). Plus the Cheeseboard of Cashel Blue cheese, Hegarty's cheddar, Macroom mozzarella, Taleggio, Knockanore vintage red cheddar, sundried tomatoes, Ballymaloe relish, grapes, crackers, apple chutney. I could see I was in for a tapas treat.


And that it would be enhanced by some excellent wines. Quite a few whites by the glass including the Blue Haven Collection Sauvignon Blanc by Better Half in Marlborough, New Zealand, and reds too such as the Johnny Q Shiraz-Viognier (South Australia). Fancy a full bottle? No bother. I can rarely resist a Gruner Veltliner and they have the Peter Scheiger Kogelberg among their whites, while the red list includes Chateau Maucoil Chateauneuf-du-Pape (Rhone, France).

No shortage of sparkling or rosé either. And they also offer local drinks in bottle such as Blacks of Kinsale KPA and Stonewell Cider Medium Dry, each a favourite of mine. As we started making tapas decisions, we sipped two terrific whites, the Abadia de Seixo Albariño and the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The Marlborough has been created in partnership between The Blue Haven Collection and Better Half Wines Marlborough, a small family winery sourcing premium grapes from thirteen hard-working, local growers in the Wairau and Awatere Valleys. Each was impressive in its own way.


Soon our opening tapas were on the table and the sharing began. The cauliflower pakora with its mint yogurt was a pleasant opener but it was the Chicken Yakitori that came with its crunchy slaw and spicy dip that stole the opening act of a very pleasant and satisfactory meal.  All part of an easy-going evening with pleasant and good humoured staff who knew the menu and had time for a chat and a laugh or two.

I often feel that local chefs can better display their talents through smaller dishes and indeed we often agree that we would sometimes prefer to eat nothing but starters on certain occasions. And this is more or less what we were doing here because the tapas portions are equal in quantity to many starters.

Quantity and quality came together again in our next double. First up was the Baked Camembert with chutney and sourdough. Another superb dish, another highlight of the evening, the experience enhanced no end by the stunning plum chutney.


We had now moved on to a couple of red wines. One was Organic “Authentico” Bobal Tempranillo, an excellent tapas wine, a rounded, fruity and persistent blend of Bobal and Tempranillo organic vines by Covinas. Bobal is a relatively unknown grape despite being widely planted in Spain. As it turned out, we both leaned towards our other red, the  “Original” Malbec by Rigal, from the South of France, a smooth fruity and harmonious wine.

The Bobal Tempranillo really came into its own with the Wild boar and Gubbeen cheese croquettes, perhaps the least photogenic of our tapas, but packed full of robust flavours and a delight to dispatch, especially with the lively sauce on which they were laid.

Would we like dessert? Reluctantly, we shook our heads, even though earlier we had put an eye on the Tunisian almond and orange cake in the short selection. We had enjoyed our tapas and the wine and the evening in Vikki’s and decided to call a halt!

You’ll find all the details, opening times and menus, on their website here and stay up to date with last minute changes by checking their Facebook page.  By the way, their Covid 19 precautions are some of the most impressive around. Delighted to take up an invite to visit this comfortable venue.

Tapas are served here from Wednesday to Sunday. They also do lunch and brunch - see social media. Below is a screenshot of their Christmas opening times (subject to Covid changes).

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Cheers #6. Wines from Ballinwillin House. Keeping You Up To Date With Wine, Beers, and Spirits

Cheers #6: Keeping You Up To Date With Wine, Beers, and Spirits

Wines from Ballinwillin House
Pat Mulcahy, in his Hungarian style cellar in Ballinwillin House (Mitchelstown)
Ballinwillin House Farm is an organic farm situated in the heart of the Golden Vale in North Cork, Ireland. "We are a family business owned and run by Patrick, The Mindful Farmer and Miriam Mulcahy. The certified organic farm has a magnificent herd of organic fed deer for over 20 years. Our organic venison meat has won awards all over the world and we are internationally recognised for our quality and taste."

But did you now they also have a vineyard? It's in Hungary and you can taste the Chateau Mulcahy wines in their Irish cellar in Mitchelstown. Inspired by the Mulcahys' experience in Hungary this Austro-Hungarian style Wine Barn is a great location for parties and gatherings of all sorts. The traditional Hungarian Bake Oven stands proudly in the Wine Barn and creates a warmth and atmosphere that is unrivalled. The barn can host groups of up to 60 people. Check out the range of wines here.

A Gin-Tastic Sale at SuperValu
Clonakilty Distillery, producers of Minke Gin

Celebrate World Gin Day on June 13th with some of Ireland’s finest gins exclusive to SuperValu from Thursday 11th June to Wednesday 1st July

In recent years, gin has no doubt become the nation’s favourite spirit, so it only seems right to mark World Gin Day with a nice bottle from SuperValu’s incredible Gin Sale.  This summer’s gin sale starts on Thursday 11th June, and SuperValu are once again bringing amazing Irish gins to a shelf near you, all at great value prices.

From pink flavoured favourites to non-alcoholic options, there is something for everyone to enjoy whether your preference is a gin spritz or a traditional gin and tonic. SuperValu have new and exciting offers so you can raise a glass, or goblet, on Saturday 13th June for World Gin Day! Celebrate in the comfort of your own garden with some of Ireland’s premium pours brought to you from all over the country including Galway, Dingle and West Cork.

Some of the excellent options exclusive to SuperValu, include Food Academy member Loch Measc Gin, an award-winning spirit produced as ode to its wild surroundings in Mayo.  Made with Lough Mask water and wildflower botanicals, this gin certainly hits the taste buds. Founder and distiller, Eoin Holmes said “Our spirits aren’t genteel and overly refined, they’re robust, flavoursome and just a little wild.”   

To celebrate World Gin Day there are 20 magnificent gins on special offer at your local SuperValu. Some of our favourites are:

Beara Ocean / Pink Ocean Gin 75cl
€38 Was €43
Inspired by the seas off the coast of the Beara Peninsula, award winning Beara Gin, blended with the fuchsia bud, west Cork’s iconic flower, and infused with Atlantic salt-water, is a member of the SuperValu Food Academy.

 Clonakilty Minke Irish Gin 70cl.  
39 Was €44
Fresh from the Clonakilty Distillery and inspired by the Minke whale, the majestic creatures that swim wild off the Atlantic Ocean coastline, this subtle yet unique tasting Irish Gin is carefully crafted with smooth and sophisticated refreshment and infused with citrus and aniseed notes. Perfect with fresh lemon, lime and mint.  

Glengarriff Wild Dry Irish Gin 70cl.  
€30 Was €35
A truly delicious fusion of wild berries that flourish in the micro-climate of the West Cork region and a Mediterranean citrus of lime, grapefruit and orange. Citrus fruit on the nose and palate interlaced with warm oriental spice and fresh lime. A heady infusion of local aromatic hedgerow botanicals from the region of Co. Cork combined with classic botanicals of Mediterranean provenance.  

Blackwater Tanora Tangarine Gin 50cl.  
€30 Was €35
A true Cork legend, this gin features a classic juniper profile, with star anise, ginger and a whole metric barn load of fresh tangerines to create a Tanora inspired Gin. Each and every tangerine is peeled by hand and crafted with 100% Irish alcohol.   

Wilde Irish Gin
€44 Was €49
Distilled and produced in West Cork Distillers, this gin has a distinctive citrus and floral forward gin with a background juniper note, instilled with extracts of bitter orange peel and wild Irish mountain heather from West Cork. It has an exquisite blend of carefully selected ingredients that are guaranteed to shine through in every sip.  This gin not only has taste in abundance, but it stands out from the crowd with a nod to Oscar Wilde’s cane with an elaborate cap and a bespoke book shaped purple Italian Murano glass bottle – a real winner on the party gift list.   

For the full list of gins on offer please visit

Father's Day Gift Ideas From O'Briens Wines

Forget about woolly slippers or eau de musk, get them something they can sit back, relax, and enjoy on Father’s Day this Sunday 21st of June. Let us take the hassle out of choosing a gift, pop in store or browse on line for a range of great Father's Day Gift Ideas

Australia’s 2020 vintage: Winemakers' perspectives

Join winemakers Virginia Willcock (Vasse Felix), Louisa Rose (Yalumba) and Sarah Crowe (Yarra Yering) to hear their take on the unprecedented 2020 vintage in Margaret River, Barossa Valley and Yarra Valley. The winemakers will be beaming in live from their respective regions, with Sarah Ahmed leading the conversation and fielding questions. 
More info here.

Wine Searcher Attempts Predicting The New Normal In The World Of Wine
Wine, beer and spirit categories have all benefited from a sharp rise in online sales in the US and UK markets, while Champagne and esoteric labels have suffered. E-commerce is now critical for businesses and many wineries, particularly in the US, will seek to grow their DTC sales. New formats and online communication will become increasingly important – all uncontroversial, reasonable assumptions. Read more here.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Taste the Place. Superb Dinner in the Limerick Strand Hotel

Taste the Place. Superb Dinner in the Limerick Strand Hotel

Tom Flavin
Taste the Place is the name of a menu at the Terrace Restaurant in the splendid Strand Hotel in Limerick. The comfortable dining room overlooks the Shannon and it is here that Executive Head Chef Tom Flavin and his culinary team put a huge emphasis on fresh, seasonal and local produce; the produce is carefully sourced from over 40 local suppliers. “Our ethos is to champion local produce where possible in all our menus”. 

We made our choices exclusively from Taste the Place and enjoyed every single bite of a meal, confidently cooked and presented. Add in excellent service from start to finish, even a chat with the accomplished chef himself, and the visit turned into an occasion to savour and remember.

The first name I spotted on the menu was Mulcahy’s of Ballinwillin and knew straight away that I had my main course sorted. The Mulcahy Wild Boar belly came with a Rigney’s Free Range Pork Sausage and that too was a gem, packed with texture and flavour. Also on the plate were O’Brien Mature Cheddar Colcannon, Urban Farmer Beetroot and Attyflin Estate Apple Jus. Quite a celebration of the best of local and also a demonstration of the skill on the kitchen. I'll certainly be looking out for Rigney's produce after this!

Across the table, CL was enjoying her fish of the day: Whiting, with a creamy risotto (including various finely chopped veg) and a drizzle of beetroot sauce. Amazingly, you rarely see this delicious fish, related to cod apparently, on restaurant menus. Cooked perfectly, as was the case here, it is excellent, is light, firm, lean, sweet and delicate.
Wild Boar, Sausage

We had stopped at the bar on the way in and glad to see that they had ale by the local Treaty City Brewery on draught. Enjoyed that at our leisure while keeping an eye on the Ireland v Wales U20 rugby international on the big screen over the flickering flames of the modern fire. Outside, the leaves were shaking as the edge of storm Ciara began to make its mark. 

They have a very extensive wine list in the restaurant. Our picks were the Havalos Malbec, aromatic, rich and lush from Argentina and the Rabbit Island Sauvignon Blanc, typically New Zealand, crisp with lively acidity that makes an immediate impression on both nose and palate. 

Both of our starters came from West Cork, well one from the ocean. CL’s choice was the Castletownbere Squid Calamari with chilli butter. Perfectly cooked and the butter certainly enhanced it.

I have a great fondness for all things from Skeaghanore Duck and the Strand’s homemade liver paté, with sourdough croutons, Cumberland sauce and a striking pickled cucumber, just reinforced that fondness.

Having enjoyed two compelling and courses that masterfully showcased the sense of place, we were feeling quite happy and not all that keen on round three. But once the dessert menu arrived, resistance melted. My Caramel Bavarois, plum compote and coconut, was colourful, delicate and heavenly while CL’s highly recommended Oreo and White Chocolate Cheesecake was rich and smooth. 

Time then to say thanks to the staff and head to the comfortable bar for a nightcap!

Monday, December 2, 2019

Chef Bryan McCarthy Plays Mr Sandman to set you Dreaming💤 of a Greenes🎄🎅🎄 Christmas

Chef Bryan McCarthy Plays Mr Sandman
to set you Dreaming💤 of a Greenes🎄🎅🎄 Christmas

Greenes Restaurant, with Executive head chef Bryan McCarthy leading the way, is showcasing a locally-inspired Christmas tasting menu this festive season as an alternative to traditional Christmas dining. 

Not everyday I can get a line-up of so many of my favourite producers in the one menu. But Bryan has waved his magic kitchen wand and Ballinwillin Venison from Mitchelstown, Jack McCarthy’s Black Pudding from Kanturk, Twomey’s Pork from Macroom, Killahora Rare Apple Ice Wine from Glounthaune, and organic winter vegetables from Kilbrack Farm in Doneraile will all appear in starring roles. What a dream line-up. One to look forward to, for sure.

The ethos at Greenes in Cork’s Victorian Quarter celebrates the uniqueness and quality of the outstanding ingredients that are available in Ireland and the team work in tandem with the best Irish food producers year-round to create menus that are devoted to local, seasonal, foraged and organic ingredients.

Bryan said, “Promoting local ingredients is extremely important to us so we wanted to ensure that the fantastic winter produce we get from our suppliers locally were the real stars of our Christmas menus. The inspiration for each dish originated with the ingredient itself, rather than limiting ourselves to the traditional Christmas offering. We have a number of different festive dining options available so there is something for everyone. But all of our menus reflect the same food philosophy which is the celebration of high quality seasonal, local produce.” 

The festive dining experience will be enhanced by views of the iconic waterfall at Greenes, which was named Ireland’s Most Atmospheric Restaurant at this year’s Georgina Campbell Awards. 

The Christmas Tasting Menu (€75) is just one offering from Greenes Restaurant over the Christmas season. Diners can also choose from the Christmas Lunch Menu (€37.50), Christmas Early Bird Menu (€42.50), Christmas Set Menu (€65), as well as À La Carte options. 

Greenes Restaurant is part of a family of connected venues, together with Hotel Isaacs and Cask (Ireland’s most awarded cocktail bar), with beautiful period architecture, adjoining one another on MacCurtain Street in Cork city.

For information on menus and opening hours visit Bookings can be made at or by phone at 021 455 2279.

Keep up to date with the latest news by following Greenes on Instagram and Twitter at @GreenesCork and on Facebook at @GreenesRestaurant . 

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Best of Game. Venison Dishes to Track Down

The Best of Game
Venison Dishes to Track Down

It’s game time in Ireland and one of the best places to get your fix is at Blair’s Inn in Cloghroe. You get hungry just listening to chef Duncan Blair: “Game is a big part of our menus this time of year. We introduce it gradually in November. It’s a slow burner at first, but it becomes extremely popular as the season progresses. 

“Our venison, stout and dark chocolate casserole is a real hit. Our own favourite has to be the haunch steaks (or the loin if we’re feeling fancy pants). Love serving it simply; rare with honey roasted celeriac and parsnip with a red currant and dark chocolate jus.”

Blair’s is well known and loved as a supporter of local craft beers so I wasn’t surprised with the answer when I asked Duncan what he’d drink with venison.  “With a casserole, it has to be the 9 White Deer Stag Stout. With the haunch or loin I love it with a decent Pinot Noir, like the Forrest Estate, which has a delicate fruitiness but with a bit of bite too. Savage!”

Martina Cronin, the excellent chef at Blarney’s Square Table told me they do venison every year. “We would do a bit more game but are a small restaurant and don't want to have waste.”

“We do a roast venison loin and braised venison served with Caramelised Brussel spouts, smoke bacon lardons, chestnuts and a parsnip puree. The orange and ginger and juniper berries in the parsnip puree works really well cuts through the richness of the venison.  It’s a really solid dish full of complementary flavours and the Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar in the venison braise brings a touch of acidity to the dish and balances well with sweetness of puree and saltiness of the smoked bacon.” Sounds superb! 
Square Table venison

At The Montenotte
Last April, the Irish Times headlined “Consumer interest in venison falls dramatically” . But is doesn’t seem to be the case around Cork. I’ve had some terrific examples recently, beginning with Liam Kirwan’s Wellington in the Montenotte Hotel.

This is somewhat deceptive, as at first it looks like a small pie in a big dish. And I was thinking 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.
At the Maryborough

Gemma Murphy is Head Chef at Bellini's in the Maryborough Hotel and she impresses with her Venison Loin, coffee and orange glazed salsify, heritage beetroot, parsnip foam. A magnificent combination and that venison was superb, possibly the best piece of meat, of any kind, that I’ve come across this year. And, in unknowing keeping with Duncan’s wine hint, our wine from Les Deux Cols, was a blend of Grenache Syrah and Cinsault (producer Simon Tyrrell calls this the Pinot Noir of the south); put to the test, it matched well with the venison, a super dish indeed.

Loving Salads

Loving Salads

During a special Game evening in Loving Salads, the venison was the star of the show. Chef-Owner Jason Carroll had major help from Craig Coady on the night and this was Craig's dish. The meat came wrapped in brioche and immediately under that was a moist circle of mushrooms, and parma ham. Black truffles, mustard, juniper and herbs had all been used to enhance the seared saddle of venison and there were also golden and red beets on the plate and a helping of madeira jus. Absolutely superb. Shame this game special lasted just for two days.

Top of the Game
Venison, as you know, often comes as part of a game pie and one of the best examples I came across over the past two years was the one at the Village Tavern in Murrisk (Mayo). 
Well fed in Mayo

I had been looking forward to that Game Pie since I first saw the list. The mega mix included rabbit, pheasant and venison with a horseradish and cheddar mash and the pie was surrounded by a tonne of roasted root vegetables. And then there was a bottle of Westporter Stout (from the local Mescan Brewery) to help it down. A memorable meal.

Like to know more about venison? Then one of the best places to try is Ballinwillin House, suppliers to restaurants in Ireland and the UK. Their website is here

* Just notice that Pier 26 in Ballycotton have a game night on Nov 30th. Details here

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Exquisite New Seasonal Menu at Montenotte's Panorama.

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

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).

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!