Showing posts with label Ballyhoura Apple Farms. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ballyhoura Apple Farms. Show all posts

Friday, August 8, 2014

Heather’s Sunny Opening. New Gap of Dunloe Restaurant.

Heather’s Sunny Opening
New Gap of Dunloe Restaurant
Rachel Allen and Denis Pio Moriarty at Heather opening.

The sun shone, the band played, the crowd came, saw and approved as Heather, the new restaurant at The Gap of Dunloe, was officially opened by Rachel Allen yesterday. Ailish and Denis Pio Moriarty are the enterprising couple behind Heather, on the same site where Denis Pio’s parents established a shop, “in a shed”, fifty years ago. Amazingly that little shop has grown gradually into an amazing place.

Still some growing to do though. Ailish and Denis Pio have invested here both in the restaurant and in the large split level garden around it. The gardens looked well yesterday but I’m really looking forward to seeing them fully in bloom come next summer.

Rachel Allen, who obviously enjoyed the engagement, immediately saw similarities between the Moriartys and her own family, noting their shared commitment to good Irish food. And the Moriartys had some of their producers there yesterday, including Mountain Man and his craft beers, some gorgeous Kerry cheeses, Sasta Sausages (long queues for their products!), and Maurice Gilbert of Ballyhoura Apples with his great range of apple drinks.
Knockatee cheese
By the way, the gardens, which have amazing views towards the famous Gap of Dunloe, are not entirely decorative. Many fruit bushes have been planted on the slopes and the fruits will be used for jams, relishes and chutneys. And just across the little river that runs in front of the shop and restaurant, the newly built polytunnel is already producing salads and edible flowers for the restaurant and Head Chef Christian Conte is making the best of them.
Lots of samples from the kitchen were available for the guests yesterday. The wine flowed but the most popular drink was the Elderflower and Sparkling Water Cordial. That went down well with young and old and beat tea into second place!

Clare, Yours Truly, Jennifer and Karen

Delighted to meet up with Ailish and Denis Pio again and also with restaurant manager Jennifer Dowling. Also with Greg Canty and Deirdre Waldron of Fuzion who helped make the relaxed event run like clockwork - not that they were waving stop watches or anything. No shortage of tweeters either and we enjoyed the chats with Karen Coakley and Elke O’Mahony.

Heather is now up and running, a far cry from the time when young budding entrepreneur Michael Moriarty went up the mountain many years ago to pick bunches of heather flowers to sell to the passing tourists. A little enterprise goes a long long way!

A lovely day and I’m sure there’ll be many many more of them in the years to come.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Heather. Eat in Style at Gap of Dunloe.

Heather. A Taste of The Gap.

Quiche, Heather Style. Very Highly Recommended!
The new Heather Restaurant at the Gap of Dunloe is at once a celebration of the past and a confident step into the future. It is also backing local producers and the food, including provenance, cooking and presentation, is really excellent, and that can only be good for tourists and locals alike.

Fifty years ago, the enterprising Moriartys opened a small gift shop close to the entrance of the renowned Gap, a spectacular valley, with cliffs and lakes and a huge echo, created in the dim and distant past by ice on the move.

Their warm welcome and quality goods proved a successful combination and bit by bit they expanded the shop, so much so that the family had to leave and find a new house! Husband and wife Michael and Margaret Moriarty started that wee store in 1964 and it predominantly operates in the coach tour market, welcoming visitors as they enjoy The Ring of Kerry tour.
Smoked Mackerel Salad.
The shop, offering high quality Irish goods, including a great selection of clothing and gifts, is still going strong. A new generation, Denis Pio Moriarty and his wife Ailish (who showed me around in midweek), has taken up the reins and the couple are guiding the new venture, playing a pivotal role in the interior and exterior designs.

It is not just a restaurant. Five acres of multi-level gardens, with great views of the McGillacuddy Reeks, have been set out and will be spectacular when in full flower. Not all the ground is given over to the ornamental planting. They will be growing their own salads and vegetables, mostly under cover, and Ailish hopes to have some on the menu in Heather in the coming summer months.

The bright and spacious restaurant, set alongside the River Loe, is a great spot to start or finish your tour of the Gap or before or after any of the many walks in the area. Here you will be well fed with the best that the artisan producers of Kerry and Cork provide.
Gorgeous Hake dish.
And if you want a genuine local drink, then that is what you’ll get. You can sample the craft beers by Mountain Man Brewing, the lovely ciders of Stonewell and some smashing apple juice drinks from the orchards of Ballyhoura Apples. It is open from 11.00am until 6.00pm daily, telephone 064 6644144.

Other suppliers include: Toonsbridge Buffalo Mozzerella, Kenmare Gouda, Ballinskellings Chicken, Glenbeigh Cockles and Mussels and Ring of Kerry Lamb. The menu is a name dropping of who’s who in local artisan food producers as well as being something of a geography lesson!

The menu for Heather comes on a brown paper, reminiscent of the old brown paper bags, and it takes quite a few sheets. Watch out too for the daily specials. And they also do a Kids Menu that includes half portions of the adult dishes. 

Lots of non alcoholic drinks too. Teas from Barry’s and Solaris (Galway) and Skelligs Chocolate Hot Chocolate and coffees specially roasted for Heather. The wine list may be short but again the quality comes through. And not just the regular varieties. You can of course have your Sauvignon Blanc and Rioja but maybe you'd like to try the Gruner Veltliner (Austria) and Zinfandel (California).

Deserved dessert!
We “worked” our way through the menu on Tuesday and it was a pleasure from start to finish. I enjoyed my Beetroot and Goats Cheese Salad, with orange, fennel and fresh as could be garden leaves (€8.00) while CL was more than pleased with her Smoked Mackerel Salad that came with Candied Beetroot, Rhubarb Chutney and Rye Croutons (€7.50).

We were tempted by the Spring Lamb Stew (€15.00). In the event, CL choose the Wild Atlantic Hake, with red peppers, fennel and Salsa Verde. The Hake was fresh, just out of the Atlantic, and the whole combination was light and appetising. Really superb.

She was very happy but I must say I was thrilled with my quiche. This was a rather special, almost melt in the mouth, quiche, described as Wild Nettle and Feta Quiche, with Parmesan, Mixed Garden Leaves and, yes, an outstanding homemade Tomato Chutney. I could go on about this but will simply recommended that you do try it if you get the chance. My mains cost €12.50 while the other was fifty cent less.

We had walked for over an hour in the Gap earlier and so felt we deserved dessert, one each this time! We got a generous slice of an Orange and Cranberry cake and another of Rhubarb Tart and two cups of Maher’s coffee to bring the curtain down on an excellent lunch in lovely surroundings.

Comfortable too and spacious and some nice touches, such as the elevated glass fronted fire (not in use on Wednesday!), the exposed stone on one section of wall and the sally saplings craftwork backlit feature that rises up the full height of its wall. This was crafted, the saplings still young enough to be pliable, by a local man and Ailish says it has already become quite a talking point.

Indeed, the Heather Restaurant, in a stunning location and with high quality cooking and presentation of the best of local produce, looks all set to become a talking point itself.

Other posts from this trip to Killarney:

See my full Kerry portfolio here

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pride of Ireland Awards 2013-2014

Pride of Ireland Awards 2013-2014
The inaugural Pride of Ireland Awards were held in Ballina, County Tipperary, on Sunday night, in a lovely well attended function hosted by the marvellous Sabrina Amodeo in her popular restaurant, the Tuscany Bistro.

We had a warm welcome and all the winners were in top form as we tucked into some gorgeous food.  And I can tell you the desserts got some mauling!

I had the honour of compering for the presentation of the awards. And not alone that but I was also presented with one of the awards myself for highlighting the work of local artisans, markets and restaurants. And it was a double for the blogosphere as Fiona Dillon of Carlow’s Hunter's Lodge was another winner.

But mainly it was about the producers, the craftspeople, the local shops and restaurants. As you may know, my motto on this site is Buy Local, Fresh and Fair and it is the winners listed below that make it all possible. They deserve our support. Keep an eye out for them when buying in 2014!
The folks from Bunratty Mead (left) and O'Leary's Charlville arrive.
Thomas Adlum Woodturning from Templemore
Category winner for woodturning
Producing one of a kind pieces from Irish Timber, Thomas Adlum is
based in Templemore. Self taught, but working with wood is in the family as his Dad was a carpenter. Thomas says his preference is to work with unusual woods that have been attacked by fungus, rot, wind, and often chainsaws! Thomas loves teaching and runs courses, ranging from 8 weeks to one day.

Thomas also won a Sharing the Passion Award for his work in the community; he opens his workshop to work with children and adults who have gone through some hardships and finds, that when they are there, the focus totally changes and the moods lighten.

Tuscany Bistro Ballina, Sabrina AmadeoOur next winner is a very local restaurant who use local producers and local staff and add an Italian twist. In Ballina’s Tuscany Bistro, and indeed also in Castletroy (where they have been well supported for over 10 years), you’ll find a simple perfection. Whether you want a romantic dinner, a business lunch, or a family treat, you’ll be glad you picked Tuscany. Both the Ballina and Castletroy Tuscany’s picked up awards on the night.

Shirley Kingston-Bandon Farmers MarketShirley has been working  as the controller for Bandon Market for 8 years. She is passionate about  fresh produce and local artisan producers. I have been to this market a few times and I can see easily see why Bandon people are  so proud of it. Might not be the biggest but no shortage of quality there for sure and it is a very friendly space indeed.
Shirley Kingston receives her award from Tom, with Yours Truly.
Irish Bee Sensations
Category Winners for Artisan Jams Marmalades & Honey
I first came across Bee Sensations
at the Doneraile Farmers Market and was amazed with the quality and uniqueness of their products. As you probably know, they use their home produced honey instead of sugar in their jams. But, being an innovative couple, Tom and Croéin didn't stop at that so now you can get beautiful jams such as Strawberry and Champagne. And in time for Christmas, they came out with yet another sweet winner, Amarena Cherries with Potcheen.

The Irish Fairy Door Company
Shifted some furniture recently and was left with an small ugly patch where the skirting board was damaged. I think I've found my solution right here! The Irish Fair Door Company are bringing the magic and the fairies back to Irish homes and gardens. Relocating fairies is their motto and so if you have wee space in a room, in the garden wall, maybe at the base of a tree, why not install a fairy door - sure to delight the kids, the grandchildren and the little people.

The big hearted people that help the little people relocate, and make us all smile while they do so, also won a Helping Hands Award for their work in the community.

An Olivia Chocolate

Mullingar based Olivia has gone from making hurling sticks with her dad to creating award winning An Olivia Chocolates. Must admit I only came across her gorgeous products in Dingle this year where she was named the supreme champion at the October Blas Awards. The chocolates are a real pleasure and of course Olivia always incorporates local products.
Award winners Sabrina and Michael of Tuscany Bistro
Meirleach Chroi
Overall winner Celtic Artist
This is our youngest winner who does incredible pencil art and Pride of Ireland feel she is a force to be reckoned with. We’ll use her own words to explain: “
You know when you are a little kid and you just discover the magic of pencils & you just want to draw on everything & anything?...I am still at that stage of my life.(at 20 yrs old!!!). "Meirleach Chroi" means "A Bandits Heart" the Bandit being my big softie of a horse.”

This family forage together and create local  artisan products from their own home. THey enjoyed a great year in 2013 and now 2014 is starting well for them. You’ll find their unique products at markets across the country. Their foods are made from foraged wild berries,flowers,herbs & crabapples picked on the family farm in Co.Offaly. All the products are made by hand in small batches and include
Rosehip Syrup Concentrate)
Elderberry Syrup Concentrate
Gorse Flower Syrup Concentrate
Spring Nettle Syrup Concentrate
Hawthornberry Syrup (Mans Tea)
Hawthornberry & Ginger Syrup Concentrate (Strong Woman Tonic)

Billy LyonsSpecial Appreciation Award. Check me out here.

O’Leary’s Bar CharlevilleKeeping It Irish
O’Leary’s Bar is a landmark in Charleville Co. Cork, run by a marvellous couple. It still boasts the same  old time value  and service that is often sadly missing in bigger slicker pubs nowadays
Thomas Adlum (centre).
Bean & Gone Overall winner Teas & Coffee
From their mobile unit, Bean and Gone
are well known to market stall holders in Cork and beyond. Indeed many a stall holder and customer has been delighted to see them set up as they are known to have great tasting teas and coffees for all. Indeed, they can turn up anywhere from local car boot sales to large sports events, so keep them in mind if you are organising an event.

Seanchai ListowelTraditional Irish Foods
, in the museum in Listowel, consistently provides good old fashioned Irish food daily; staff are friendly and lovely to deal with. All the food is sourced locally and you can combine a meal here with a visit to the museum where local writers such as John B Keane and Bryan McMahon are honoured.

Bradleys Off-LicenceA family business since 1850, Bradley's is somewhat of a Cork institution, currently run by the 4th generation in the person of Michael Creedon. They pride ourselves on a personal, friendly service. They also pride themselves on selling the best of Irish, as many artisans  find shelf space here. And if you want an Irish craft beer, then Bradley’s is the place to go! And if you can't make it in person then check them out online.

Finns' Table restaurant
A lovely well run restaurant  in Kinsale County Cork. Up to 2012, John and Julie Finn were running a highly successful restaurant called Dillon’s in Timoleague and seemed set for a long stay. But, through no fault of their own, they had to leave. Soon though they bounced back and early last year started Finns' Table in Kinsale. Serving the very best of local produce, the couple haven't looked back since.

Producing a range of fresh fruit drinks  including their award winning apple juice, this company is well known for being there for any good cause in their community. They are also well known for top notch quality and, under the driving and innovative force that is Maurice Gilbert, have won a string of awards including a few at Blas.

A lovely experience for morning coffee and lunch and situated in the stunning Doneraile Park. Quality is good and prices are reasonable and you have the added bonus of dining in the old kitchen of the big house. A very pleasant place indeed and just yards from the main street in Doneraile.  
Winner: Fiona Dillon.
The Farmers Market in Doneraile Park, held twice  a month or thereabouts during the summer, (check their facebook page for exact dates) is well situated in the courtyard of the big house. The market features the best of local produce, including home made jams, chutneys and relishes, smoked salmon, farm apple juice, cheese, bread and scones, delicious cakes and buns as well as a range of arts and crafts from the local area. And, of course, the Tea Rooms alongside. And if you eat too much cake, you can walk it off as you have hundreds of acres in front of you with pleasant riverside paths and herds of curious deer along the way.

Overall winner in craftsmanship & Irish gifts, this family run business creates lovely personalised gifts from Irish Oak. Very unusual items, everything from a feeding bowl for the pet to candleholders to a personalised garden seat. Well worth checking out!
The Cake Fairy Cork
Overall winners.
Joanne, Cork’s own Cake Fairy
, along with her mom,  are our overall winners  for outstanding breads and cakes. In fact, Mam’s brown bread  is some of the best in Ireland. Joanne creates all her products from scratch and has a  wide range of specialty cakes in her range. The Cake Fairy picked up a second award as they were also deemed the Champion Bakers, “streets ahead” according to the judges.

Bakers supreme: Joanne and her Mum.
Fiona Dillon
Blogger, author, and all round supporter of all things artisan and Irish, Fiona Dillon gets this award for all the hard work she does  in her efforts to draw attention to all the wonderful Artisans who work so hard at keeping it Irish.  

Keeping it as Irish as it comes,  this company has been working for over thirty years making one of the best things to ever come out of Ireland  and certainly one of the oldest products…Potcheen, once known as moonshine or, as the song said, the good old mountain dew.

Longueville House is well known for setting a hugh standard and that continues with their Irish Apple Brandy made in their own distillery from their own apple and aged in French oak barrels. Rich and smooth and delightful and a formidable rival for the Calvados of Normandy and a deserving winner.

Irish Bee Sensations Grand Champions
Tom and Cro
éin were the overall winners “not only because of the quality and uniqueness of their products but also because they are most certainly true artisans and produce a delicious range of honey based products from their own honey. They are master beekeepers for 30 years plus. They also tirelessly promote and encourage other artisans  We have been really impressed with their efforts and the pride they take in keeping things Irish”. And so say all of us.

Some of the dishes that we enjoyed at Tuscany
at the awards night. A lovely meal.

Related Posts

Tuscany Bistro. Superbo. Splendido. Eccellente

Blas na hEireann update on Bee Sensations July 2015 here