Showing posts with label Ballyhoura Mushrooms. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ballyhoura Mushrooms. Show all posts

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Meet the Cronin Sisters, Champions of Local. The Square Table in Blarney


Meet the Cronin Sisters, the Champions of Local.
At The Square Table in Blarney.

The Cronin sisters at Blarney’s Square Table are pure Cork. When they have something to say, and they often do, it is straight up. Just like the produce they use. Honest to goodness top class stuff, raised and grown locally. They’re not shy about emphasising where their meat, their fish, their veg, comes from. They are rightly proud of it and have a long list at the back of the menu so that you can look for yourself.

So call out to Blarney, to the champions of local. Study that menu and order and then you’ll have all the proof you want on your plate. Because, the twins, Martina and Tricia, are also well capable of handling all that beautiful produce and of serving well cooked and well presented dishes that wouldn’t be out of place in a top restaurant. What am I saying? This is a top restaurant, right on the edge of the village green in Blarney.
Crispy Egg

And this dinner of champions won’t cost you the earth. Especially if you go for the Early Bird which is available on Wednesday and Thursday 6pm to 9pm, Friday and Saturday 6pm to 7pm. 2-courses €26.75, 3-courses €31.

I took my own advice last Thursday and called to the Square Table which is looking very well following its renovation and small expansion early in the year. We got a great welcome as always and were soon studying the menus plus the specials. The local Old Butter Road Food Trails Festival kicked off in earnest the previous weekend but, because of the reliance on local produce, the area around Blarney is always well represented on the Square Table menu.
Black pudding

Kanturk’s Jack McCarthy is a member of the Old Butter Roads and you’ll see his name on the menu. As it happened we gave the Early Bird a trial spin and CL’s starter was a delicious McCarthy’s Black Pudding and Puff Pastry Roll, with house piccalilli and apple purée. Perfect.

The Crispy Egg with Ballyhoura Mushrooms and Hollandaise is also a regular on the menu and I was very happy to renew acquaintance with it. The Early Bird was off to a flier and the standard stayed high right to the finalé.

My main course was O’Connell’s pan-fried hake, buttered leeks, celeriac purée, pickled Ballyhoura Mushrooms. It was exquisite, perfection on a plate, as we’ve come to expect here, their high standards never seem to drop, amazing consistency meal after meal.
West Cork Chicken

I just kept saying perfection to myself and CL was also humming across the table as she enjoyed her West Cork Chicken, Cauliflower purée, Wild Garlic, Coolea cheese. And another thing I keep saying is to keep an eye on the small things in a restaurant as they can tell you a lot. Take the sides here, for instance: mashed potato, carrot and kale, sweet potato and turnip purée. They too were top notch, you could have had a lovely dish with just those on their own!

Time then for dessert; again we decided to share. The Crumble of the Evening (caramelised apple and rhubarb) with Featherbed Farmhouse Vanilla ice-cream was our pick. The crumble topping was light and lightly applied while everything underneath was full of soft and softer textures and delicious flavours with a touch of sweetness. Another Square Table meal made with skill and delivered with a smile. Why wouldn’t we come again!  

Read all the detailed Square Table menus here

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Sunday Lunch Supreme at Barnabrow


Sunday Lunch Supreme at Barnabrow
Smoked salmon

When you think of Barnabrow, I bet you think of weddings. They are good, very good, at weddings here. But they do much more besides, including a tremendous Sunday lunch, local produce superbly cooked and presented by Head Chef Stuart Bowes. At twenty four euro for two courses and twenty eight for three (with tea or coffee also included), it is also excellent value.

We were back there last Sunday, the first wet one in a long time, for a lovely leisurely lunch. Not so leisurely though for the chef and his crew. Barnabrow is getting quite a name for its breads. The preparation started on Saturday and the sourdough was finished off on Sunday. I can tell it was well worth the wait, as good as you’ll get anywhere. Though you may not get it exactly like this anywhere else as Chef Bowes, reckons local kitchen conditions play a part in the final outcome.

And local plays a big role here. When Stuart arrived here over six years ago from the Hayfield Manor, he began to revitalise the walled garden and that is now a key supply source for him. And he relies on local suppliers for much of the rest, including meat and fish.
Black pudding

As we sample the sourdough, we take a look at the menu. There is a choice of four starters, four mains and four desserts. There’s Whipped Ardsallagh Gloats Cheese listed and also a Potato and Leek Soup with truffled cream.

My pick though is the Oak smoked salmon with Garden Beetroot, caper and herb dressing and vegetable crisps. The salmon is top notch, moist and smooth and full of flavour and is enhanced by the dressing and also by the combination with the crunchy chips made locally by farmers Sandra and Joe Burns. A lovely dish.

The Clonakilty Black Pudding Salad, with crispy potatoes, Feta, apple and semi-dried tomato dressing is quite a plateful but OBC makes short work of it, enjoying the flavours and the textures. This dish is very popular at wedding dinners and we can see why!
Beef

Courgette are now in season and feature on the mains menu, served with new potatoes, sauce vierge,  garden basil pesto and Parmesan cream. The fish option is Seared fillet of Seabass with Garden Courgettes, sauce vierge,  garden basil pesto.

OBC goes for the Chargrilled Chicken Supreme, new potatoes, garden herbs, Ballyhoura wild mushrooms and Parmesan cream. Another delicious combination.
Chicken

My pick is the Roast Sirloin of O’Connell’s beef, with horse-radish creamed kale, roast shallots and red wine jus. Magnificent. Cooked to perfection with unreal flavours and that creamed kale was something else. 

Dessert
And, speaking of something else, the side dishes were also superb, beautiful roast potatoes (nicely judged fat and salt applied) and outstanding vegetables (enhanced with a scatter of chopped almonds). Nothing went back, not even a sliver of an almond!

And dessert? We could have had Red Wine Poached Pear stuffed with Praline, Valrhona Chocolate Marquise with summer berry, or a selection of ice-cream and sorbet. But we could manage just one between us and enjoyed the Roast Peanut Parfait, with strawberry sauce and (very tasty) marshmallows.

Coffee followed as did some gorgeous rum and raisin petit fours. As we drove home, we were thinking that the excellent meal might have had one or the other nodding off during the World Cup final but no danger of that as France and Croatia served up a goal fest.





Sunday, July 8, 2018

At The Square Table, Sisters From The West Make The Best of Local


At The Square Table, Sisters From The West Make The Best of Local


We are in a small restaurant in Blarney. Behind me, the front of house person is explaining the dishes to a table of visitors. The info is precise, full of detail and confidently given with clarity, enthusiasm and no little humour.

This is Tricia Cronin in action. Tricia and her twin sister Chef Martina  (left) are the team, a formidable straight-talking duo, at The Square Table - the 35 seater sits on the village’s ancient square - and they serve up lots of good things here. And another good thing - they don’t do bullshit! What you see is what you get.


egg, mushroom

After a formative spell in Cork with Dubliner Ciaran Scully, teacher and chef, Martina headed for the capital where her culinary education continued under top chefs Ross Lewis and Graham Neville. One of the things she learned along the way and which she and Tricia implement at the Square Table is to use local as much a possible. “This way we meet and got to know the local producers.”

At the launch of a local festival earlier this year I heard Tricia declare: “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.” Here’s a woman, a pair of them, who talk the talk and walk the walk.

black pudding, apple purée


We’ve walked in to try the Early Bird, available from 6-9pm Wednesday & Thursday; 6-7pm on Friday & Saturday: 2-courses €25.50, 3-courses €29.50. By the way, this is no skinny early bird - you’ll get good quality and quantity here! The Cronin sisters grew up in the country and food was a key part of the hard-working daily life.

So let us take a look at the menu for this particular Wednesday evening. We are in the middle of a heatwave, so the soup is relegated to the also rans! Record temperatures or no, I rarely turn down the chance to eat Ballyhoura mushrooms so I go for the Crispy Egg and Ballyhoura Mushrooms with Hollandaise. Yumami!

Cleaned the plate as did OBC (the official blog chef) whose pick was the Jack McCarthy’s Black Pudding and Puff Pastry Roll, house piccalilli, and apple purée. An excellent combination and a generous helping of the purée to help it on its delicious way. 
Hake

And that generosity is also exemplified when we are served three gorgeous side dishes with our mains: carrot and kale, a potato mash, and a delightful turnip and mustard dish (that drew compliments galore from the tourist table behind).

I had noticed my mains on their Twitter feed: West Cork roast chicken, buttered leeks, cauliflower purée and Coolea Cheese (from the sisters’ home area). Cooked to perfection, served at the perfect temperature and well presented, a delight to dispatch. The best of Irish given an accomplished touch of the continental.

Chicken

And OBC, a bit of a Hake connoisseur, was also well satisfied with O’Connell’s Pan-fried hake, pea purée, McCarthy’s crispy bacon and organic sugar snaps. Great colour, great flavours and texture. And then those sides!

They offered us a choice of three tempting desserts but we were rather full.

And where do the Cronins get their good things? Well if you go there, and you should, just ask and Tricia will tell you. You can also look it up on the back page of the menu, a long back page but here’s a sample of suppliers: Hegarty’s of Whitechurch for cheese (six other suppliers), Tom O’Brien also Whitechurch for eggs, Kilbrack and Anna Belle farms for vegetables and salads, meat from Michael Twomey (their mother’s butcher) and more, smoked salmon from Old Mill Bank and crab from Liscannor, and further afield there’s yogurts from Velvet Cloud and ice-cream from Featherbed Farm. A tasty journey through the best of Ireland’s producers.

5, The Square,
Blarney,
Co. Cork
021 4382825




Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Taste of the Week. Ballyhoura Mushrooms Risotto Mix

Taste of the Week
Ballyhoura Mushrooms Risotto Mix

Not all of you are lucky enough to be in a position to get your hands on Ballyhoura mushrooms at Farmers Markets (we got ours at Mahon). But did you know that they have quite a few mushroom products available to buy at various good food stores, including the new pantry in Bakestone at Cobh Cross? 

Products include Cep Oil, Mushroom Vinegar, Mushroom Ketchup, Mushroom Soup Mix, even a Mushroom Unami Powder, and also this Risotto Mix, our Taste of the Week. Indeed, you can also purchase online.

The mix provides earthy woodland notes and intense mushroom flavour and is perfect for making a dish for two people. You’ll find the recipe on their site here. Well worth a try!

Our pic looks a bit on the dark side  and the reason is that we used black garlic cloves.


Monday, June 4, 2018

One Hundred and Twenty Top Artisan Products in the Bakestone Pantry. No Wonder Neil is over the Moon


One 120 Top Artisan Products in the Bakestone Pantry.
No Wonder Neil is over the Moon.
Shannen and Neil

Neil is excited when he starts telling me about the new Pantry at Bakestone in the Botanic Home and Garden Centre at the Fota Retail Park near Carrigtwohill in East Cork. And with good reasons: one hundred and twenty of them. Yes 120 top quality artisan products are stocked here, displayed ever so neatly by Neil (who started this new facility here about two months ago) and by Shannen. 

The come from everywhere on the island: butter from Abernethys in County Down, mushroom products from Ballyhoura on the Cork-Limerick border, fresh strawberries from Bushy's in West Cork, cheese from nearby Ballinrostig, jams from Donegal, Blackcastle drinks from County Wicklow, patés and more from On the Pig's Back in Cork City, and so much more.

And then he points to Bakestone’s own products. We’ve all known for quite some time that the Bakestone kitchen can come up with the goods in the café but now that expertise is being packaged and displayed in the Pantry. “Like any any pantry worth its name, we have jams and marmalades. All made over there in the kitchen.”

And then he shows me their own 12 hour slow-roasted Tomato ketchup and the Sriracha Sauce developed just in time for the BBQ season. And there’s also a coffee rub, which creates a delicious crust on the meat and locks in the juices. That coffee based rub is so new it hasn't got a label yet. And those labels are well designed by Coolgrey, as are all the labels here.

Neil has been busy sourcing local products and while local means Irish (he has Filligan’s jams from Donegal) he also has products from very close to their Cobh Cross/Carrigtwohill base. Take the honey for instance. “That’s Youghal honey,” Neil proudly tells me. “Robert Anthony is doing great work there on behalf of the native black bees.”

And also from Youghal comes the HOLO Kombucha, proudly organic and certified by IOFGA, the drink is the brainchild of Youghal brewers and twin brothers Padraig & Adrian Hyde whose Munster Brewery in the town is already well-known.

The Kombucha and Kefirs displayed in the Pantry are an effort to steer people away from the big-name sugar loaded soft drinks. No added sugar, for instance, in the bottles from Dublin’s King of Kefirs, including a couple of interesting combinations: lemongrass and ginger, cucumber, mint and thyme!

But don’t worry, Neil has some alcoholic drinks here also, almost all recent entrants to the market, including Móinéir Irish Fruit Wines from Wicklow, Mead from Kinsale, and those innovative drinks from nearby Killahora Orchards.
Chocolate from Carrigaline by O'Conaill

There is also has a sweet and dessert section, everything from the delicious Wilkies chocolate to the traditional hard boiled sweets by Shandon Sweets in the heart of the city. And biscuits also, including those classy ones from Lismore Food Company, delicious and beautifully packaged and ideal as gifts. I just noticed that one of the varieties is now available in a Gluten Free version.

Coffee is a big deal here. Not surprisingly, since Neil has worked with Badger and Dodo. He is chuffed that one famous Irish-Australian loves the Pantry coffee and always pops in here for a cuppa and a discussion whenever she is home. Neil and Shannen try to help people with their coffee choices, just a little practical info, nothing too overwhelming. But, if you do wish to take it to a higher level, help is at hand here as they do run Barista Courses.
Biscuits from Lismore

They also serve coffee in the Pantry and that helps take the pressure off the queue in the cafe itself and you’ll probably see that developed a bit further in the coming months. Neil took us over to the café and stood us lunch. An excellent quiche and a couple of salads did the trick and, by the way, the salad leaves come from Derek at the Greenfield Farm a few miles away in Knockraha.

Speaking of a few miles away reminds me to mention that Bakestone have taken over the Café in Fota House for the summer months. I’m a reasonably regular visitor here to the gardens and now I have another excuse to visit.
Wild Irish Foragers

Bakestone will be offering visitors locally sourced produce and the best of each season, and they will be serving produce from the Victorian Working Garden at Fota House. They will be serving a wide variety of fabulous eats every day and promise some exciting food events in the near future.
Quiche for lunch

Fota house themselves have a number of theatrical events lined up for the season including A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream on July 20th. Bakestone will be supplementing these with a series of music events. Tickets for the very first of the “LIVE AT FOTA HOUSE” gigs featuring Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill with special guests Swedish trio Väsen on Thursday 14th June are on sale now via the Bakestone Facebook page.

So there you are. Thanks to Neil and Shannen and others behind the scenes, there is quite a buzz and a good deal of momentum at Bakestone these days. Be sure to call in to the pantry anytime you’re passing along the N25; take the Cobh exit and you’ll be back on your journey and well fed or well stocked up or both in no time at all. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Outstanding Gourmet Night. Thanks to Barnabrow Chef Bowes


Outstanding Gourmet Night.
Thanks to Barnabrow Chef Bowes

Blood Orange and Burrata

The Barnabrow Gourmet Evening is becoming a must-have ticket. Head Chef Stuart Bowes, with the aid of sous chef Adrian Kaszynski and team,  put on a top class multi-course meal last Saturday evening, highlight following highlight, and each course well paired by Donie O’Brien of Eno Wines.


Stuart has been at the lovely 30 acre estate for the past six years. “It is a happy working relationship,” says owner Geraldine Kidd as she celebrates 21 years in business here. “One of friendship as well. Stuart is a very patient person with a passion for food and makes so much of his own stuff here. He and Adrian are a well-oiled machine.”

The big restaurant, with its church style windows, was packed for the occasion and, after a reception with Canapés and organic Cava, we were led to our seats and soon began with an amazing dish: Ballyhoura Wild Mushrooms, Ardsallagh Goats Cheese Polenta, Crispy Hens Egg, Pangrattato. Just a big “wow” all round and even better when sipping the Pa Road Pinot Noir from Marlborough. The owners are friends of Donie’s, friends worth keeping as this wine is an excellent rich, ripe and elegant. Fresh and enlivening and with woodland aromas, it certainly did the business with the mushrooms.
Crispy egg and mushrooms

A good standard had been set and would be maintained all through. Indeed, the next course was one of my favourites. The Lobster Agnolotti, White Cabbage, Cognac, was innovative and delightful, the soft texture of the pasta, the crunch of the cabbage, the flavour of the lobsters and the pairing with the Chatelain Sancerre all added up to a sensational experience. 

While Donie might rave about New Zealand Pinot Noir, when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc he cheers for the Loire. “This is Sauvignon Blanc at its best. Sauvignon is now produced all over the world but they never match the Loire.” The Chatelain, with is summer meadow aromas, its citrus fruit and mineral character, is a beauty.
Lobster Agnolotti, white cabbage

Time now for the big red and the Cuvée Raphael, Chateau Parenchere, Bordeaux 2013, was just the job with Roast Squab Pigeon, Smoked Potato, Celeriac Gratin, White Dandelion. This fifty fifty Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon is “one of the classics” said Donie. Very concentrated, smooth, full-bodied, mellow and rich with autumnal red fruits and excellent with the game dish and its accompaniments. Another well thought out plate and yet another well-executed.
Pigeon

And there was yet another beauty on the way, this the Toonsbridge Burrata, Blood orange, Corinader Seed, Lavosh. The occasion gives Stuart the opportunity to get some “unusual ingredients” and the blood oranges were one example. He didn't have to go to Sicily for the Burrata. That was made in Toonsbridge just 24 hours earlier. The superb Lavosh was made right here in Barnabrow. What a fantastic combination, another of my favourite courses (truth to tell, I liked them all). 

Must say chocolate pairs well with me! And so I was delighted to see Hot Valrhona Chocolate Mousse, Blackberry, Vanilla Ice-cream, Pain d’Epices appear in front of me. The ice-cream was “hidden” under the warm chocolate and the contrast in flavour and texture and temperature was a pleasant ambush! Delighted with dessert.
Valrhona

At this stage too we were enjoying sipping our Chateau Caillou Grand Cru Classé Sauternes 2007. Grand Cru Classé means it is one of the very best, very sweet on its own but, with rich desserts, it displays amazing richness and power yet has acidity enough. Donie filled us in: “They practice low yield, so the fruit is concentrated; it is rich and powerful and the flavour lingers.” Enjoyed that too.

We weren't quite finished yet as the Petit Fours appeared, some chocolate truffles and old fashioned delightful jellies.  A lovely end to an evening of gourmet pleasure.

I was a guest at Geraldine Kidd’s Barnabrow which is a superb location for weddings (the majestic, medieval-style banqueting hall, with its gothic windows, sets a grand, yet relaxed tone), for corporate events, for celebrations of all kinds (birthday parties, christenings, naming ceremonies, and Christmas parties), rooms and holiday cottages too and, don't forget, for Sunday lunch. Check it all out here.

Menu

Cava & Canapés (Pares Balta Cava)

Ballyhoura Wild Mushrooms, Ardsallagh Goats Cheese Polenta, Crispy Hens Egg, Pangrattato
(Pa Road Pinot Noir, New Zealand 2014)

Lobster Agnolotti, White Cabbage, Cognac
(Chatelain Sancerre, Loire 2016)

Roast Squab Pigeon, Smoked Potato, Celeriac Gratin, White Dandelion
(Cuvée Raphael, Chateau Parenchere, Bordeaux 2013)

Toonsbridge Burrata, Blood orange, Corinader Seed, Lavosh

Hot Valrhona Chocolate Mousse, Blackerry, Vanilla ice-cream, Pain d’Epices

Bewley’s Coffee, Barry’s Tea, and Petit Fours.

Dessert wine was Chateau Caillou Sauternes 2007

Head Chef: Stuart Bowes. Sous Chef: Adrian Kaszynski. Wines: Donie O’Brien of Eno Wines.







Thursday, January 25, 2018

Dynamic Duo At Dockland Cork

Dynamic Duo At Dockland Cork
Lamb

Dynamic duo Harold Lynch and Beth Haughton are behind the new Dockland Restaurant on the very same site where their popular Club Brasserie stood up to a few short months ago. A hectic two month conversion process (= flat-out hard work!) saw a new, brighter, deli cum restaurant emerge to cater to the new lighter and healthier eating trend that has begun to emerge in recent years.

The welcome is as warm as ever. And don't worry! Lots of small bites but If you want your full dinner here, you’ll be in for a treat. Take your time as you make your way through the delicious starters, the array of main courses and the tempting desserts. 

We had missed out on the experience before Christmas but made it Lapps Quay the other night. And, yes, we were there for the dinner! Settled in and studied the menu, starting with the Bites to Bigger Bites. Something here to suit every pocket and taste, from a Bowl of Marinated Olives (3.00), to Baked Ardsallagh Goats Cheese, red peppers, chilli flakes dip, on toasted Arbutus Bread (5.00) to Baked King Prawns, garlic, chillies, olive oil, Arbutus sourdough (13.00).

My pick was the Ballyhoura Mushrooms crostini, cream, tarragon, parmesan truffle oil (5.00). Just love the texture and flavour of this little marvel. And CL’s starter was another gem: Roasted Aubergine, Toonsbridge Mozzarella, tomato fondue, parmesan and pesto (5.00).
Aubergine

There have a list of Pizzas as well but we concentrated on the Main Plates of which there was quite a choice. Mine was the Grilled Sumac Spiced Lamb steak (with tomato, herb cucumber salad, chargrilled vegetable couscous, spiced yogurt, and toasted almonds). What a lovely dish, a perfect balance of flavours and spice, tender and delicious, all for €18.00. 

CL considered the Fish of the Day but in the end went for the regular Baked Hake (22.00). The hake came with gremolata, parmesan crust, piperade, tomatoes, black olives , cream and basil. Lots going on there but the meticulous cooking of Harold Lynch and crew in the kitchen means every little detail was spot on, as was the case with the lamb, and the whole dish was a flavoursome treat.
Something Sweet was the next heading to be considered. CL picked the Yogurt, poached vanilla mint berries, muesli, honey, pumpkin seeds (6.30). This is a new addition to their morning, brunch, lunch and evening menu and perfectly described as “a little sweet healthiness”, which it certainly was. Mine was a little more indulgent but I enjoyed every little bit of the Rolled Meringue, lime vanilla cream, poached plums and toasted almonds (6.30).
Hake

The lunch menu is even more extensive and at all times you may spend as much or as little as you with. Drop in for a pair of the small bites and a glass of wine. Maybe just a pizza. If you don’t have time to linger, then join the queue at the Deli counter for take-out. By the way, even though there are 90 seats in the restaurant, you are advised to book, particularly at the weekend. 
Plum

Front-of-House is led, as was the case with Brasserie, by Beth. She and her crew make you feel welcome from the opening smile and they are efficient also. The bar is now part of the main restaurant and you may enjoy a favourite drink before you start, a gin and tonic perhaps, maybe a Negroni? Cheers.
“a little sweet healthiness”
Dockland
City Quarter
Lapps Quay
Cork
T: 353 (0)21 427 3987




Sunday, February 26, 2017

Four Hands, Five Stars, One Michelin.

Four Hands, Five Stars, One Michelin.
JP McMahon at Greene’s, Cork.
Beetroot, goat's cheese
The event was billed as a Four Hands Dinner, the talented mitts of visiting Michelin Star chef JP McMahon (Aniar, Galway) and his host Bryan McCarthy accounting for the four. But there were many other hands in this marvellous meitheal, quite a few of those in Greene’s kitchen.

And hands too of a big band of their fantastic suppliers also played a part, producers such as Kanturk’s Jack McCarthy, Galway’s Bia óisin, Ballyhoura Mushrooms and the Lismore Food Company. 

Celeriac
 And so too did Fionnuala Harkin who told us a little about the “local” winemakers (mainly organic) that her company Wines Direct works with. And through the wines, hands from Austria, France and Italy, all contributed.

The enjoyable evening started with an aromatic, flavourful and aptly named Man of Aran cocktail in Greene’s highly impressive new bar Cask. They serve small plates here from the main kitchen so that’s worth a visit on its own!

Halibut
 Soon, at the tables in the main restaurant, we had a couple of what Bryan terms snacks, one of Ham and Seaweed, the other of Beetroot, Goats Cheese, and Buckler Sorrel. Those little beauties, with a little help from the Domaine Séguinot Bordet Petit Chablis, started the ball rolling in some style.

And it kept rolling with a Harty Oyster served with Sea Beet and Dillisk. The sea, oh the sea. And another sip of Chablis.  The delicious palate cleanser of Anise Hyssop and Gorse (the posh name for furze bush!) had us ready for more.

Sorbet
The plates were getting marginally more substantial as the courses continued. A lovely combination of Celeriac, Mushroom and Hazelnut, next appeared and Fionnuala wisely switched to a red wine, Jean Paul Brun’s L’Ancien, a light and lovely Beaujolais. So many people underestimate the gorgeous Gamay grape - this bottle could change a mind or two.

Time now for the fish: Halibut, Sea Radish, Bacon, Pepper Dulse and Elf Cap. Lots of flavours here but the star, as you’d expect, was the immaculately cooked Halibut. And the wine pairing was the fresh and well textured Grüner Veltliner from Kamptal (Austria) by Steininger.

Duck
 A little flavoured-packed sorbet was next: Preserved Elderflower, Kilbrack Apple and Sorrel. 

That was followed by the Skeaghanore Duck with Parsnip, Scurvy Grass* and Ramsons. The Skeaghanore duck is widely available now and a terrific meat. But hard to beat the way it was cooked in Greene’s, tender and moist. And that parsnip was fabulous too, possibly the best rendition of that vegetable  I've ever come across. 


Cheese
 The wine, it kept coming, had by now switched back to red, to Domaine Didier Charavin, Lou Paris, Côtes du Rhône. “That should work well with both the duck and the cheese,” promised Fionnuala and she was correct, again!

The cheese was Young Buck and came with pear and raisin and superb crackers by Lismore.  Were we finished? Not at all. One more course, one more wine.

Dessert
The dessert featured Rhubarb from Richard’s Little Farm in Doneraile and the sweet and fresh wine with the usual Italian acidity, the Bera Moscato d’Asti, was the perfect match for the beautifully presented sweet. 

Cheers to JP and Bryan and to the many hands, including those of the many efficient and friendly servers, that contributed towards a memorable dinner. Same time next year?


* Scurvy-grass was extensively eaten in the past by sailors suffering from scurvy after returning from long voyages, as the leaves are rich in vitamin C, which cures this deficiency disease resulting from a lack of fresh vegetables in the diet. The leaves, which have a strong peppery taste similar to the related horseradish and watercress, are also sometimes used in salads.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Munster Wine & Dine 2017 Launch at Club Brasserie

Munster Wine & Dine 2017 Launch at Club Brasserie


An amazing series of tapas style dishes, prepared by hosts Club Brasserie, heralded the start of the 2017 season for the Munster Wine and Dine Circle. Each dish was accompanied by news of an event already confirmed in the calendar for this local group, who love their food and drink and love also promoting local produce.
After a welcome prosecco, thanks to Gary O’Donovan, we had a short and interesting presentation by Cal McCarthy, Senior Sales Manager at Clonakilty Black Pudding. He told us the success of the company was down to the passion of the people involved, especially founders Eddie (RIP) and Collette. “It is available in the UK, Australia, the United Arab Emirates… we must be doing something right.” And he also told us about the right way to cook it: “..on its own, in the oven”. By the way, they also do gluten free black and white pudding and sausages.
Clonakilty Black Pudding
Beth and Harold and their staff in the Club Brasserie then began their superb service, starting with that iconic black pudding and Beth confirmed the tasty dish was indeed cooked in the oven. New committee member Stuart Musgrave then outlined the first event. In March, a group will visit Barry’s Tea, another iconic Cork producer, and the “best tea blender on the world” according to one time rival Stewert.

By now, another dish had arrived from the busy kitchen, a presentation of mushrooms from the folks at Ballyhoura and mixed in were some of their new smoked oyster and shiitake, “very tasty” according to Beth. MWD secretary Beverley Mathews was then on her feet, outlining the April event. “This will give you the chance to stand in the shoes of a large scale wine buyer.” Supervalu's top buyer, Kevin OCallaghan, will be present for a tasting of some of their wines in L’Atitude in what should be a fun evening.

Ballyhoura mushrooms
I’m not sure that there was an event for every dish and we were on to the mussels when chairperson Eithne Barry enthused about the next event, a May trip to Kinsale. She fleshed it out. A bus from the City Hall with the first stop at Black’s Brewery in Kinsale for craft beer and gin. Next stop at The Spaniard for a glass (of water?!). And finally, dinner at Man Friday, a dinner to be cooked by the younger generation in the long-established restaurant!

Soon Eithne was telling us about the summer’s premium event, a day out in West Cork. The bus will take us direct to Gubbeen where our hosts will be Fingal and his sister Clovis. Fingal will give a tour of the farm, telling us all about the cheese, about his very special smokehouse (where he produces the most divine Chorizo and Salami and more) and about his knife-making for which he is rather well-known. Over then to Clovis who will feed us all as the July evening unfolds.

Lamb
 Speaking of premium, Harold and Beth brought out a very special dish, their lovely East Cork Lamb, with their own harissa oil and spiced chickpea, small and beautiful. Speaking of East Cork, one of the earlier plates featured Ardsallagh goats cheese.

The MWD speaker now was yours truly and my task, on Saturday September 15th, is to take a group on a short walk, focussing on the Coal Quay and Shandon, areas long associated with Cork food. Back down to the city centre then for a late leisurely lunch in Jacques where no doubt there will be a reminder, maybe even a replica, of a dish from the good old days (but we'll leave the details up to the Barrys!).

Crab
 West Cork Crab was now on the menu, served with a lime chilli mayonnaise. And MWD treasurer Richard Scott took the floor to highlight the final event of the year on the 3rd Sunday of November. Lunchtime visits to Longueville House (2015) and to Ballyvolane House (2016) have proved highly successful. If it works, why change it., So this year, we are off to the Long Room in Ballymaloe where fifty happy visitors will be seated. Before the lunch, a local producer or two will be on hand to give a  presentation.

Looks like a great finalé to what should be a varied and entertaining programme.

* The membership list is very close to its upper limit. If you are interested, please email mwdcircle@gmail.com. Fees are €30.00 single, €50.00 double.

Chocolate mousse