Showing posts with label Baltimore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Baltimore. Show all posts

Friday, July 14, 2023

Young People Learning The Baltimore Waves. With a rope! Making the best of what we have on our doorstep.

Young People Learning The Baltimore Waves. With a rope! 

Making the best of what we have on our doorstep.

The boys back on the Baltimore waters

Lively in Lekeitio (2012), a little village on the Basque coast between Bilbao and Donostia.

Back in the summer of 2012, I spent a few hours in the beautiful coastal town of Lekeitio (7,500). It is on the Basque coast in Spain, between Bilbao and Donostia (San Sebastian). It has a lovely harbour and a beach alongside, with an island, San Nicolas, that may be walked to when the tide is out. 

We were "entertained" here for a while by a group of children being taught how to handle canoes in the harbour. They had two adults in charge and showed great confidence on and in the water as they went through their exercises. On that trip, we saw quite a lot of watersports training on both sides of the border, to an extent not then seen in Ireland.
Two ferries leave Baltimore at the same time, the red one for Sherkin, the other making the longer trip to Oileán Chléire.

While in the Basque country and musing about Ireland being behind in imparting the skills of water sports to our children, I was aware that Baltimore in West Cork was doing its part. And delighted to see the current crop of energetic youngers in action in the harbour in late June with quite a lot of instructors at hand. You may read all about the Baltimore Sailing Club's programme and courses here.

And they had their hands full. Kids will be kids and it took quite a while to set up the exercise and the lead instructor must have been quite hoarse by the end of it. Eventually, they got the four boats of trainees (four per boat) lined up in a row, each boat attached to the one in front by rope with the rope secured to the adults' boat.
And off they went, out of the comparative safety of the harbour and into the sea between the little town and Sherkin island with Schull's Mount Gabriel away to the right. As they stretched out in a line, at least one other boatload of instructors kept watch on the left.

All in a row! The instructors' patience is rewarded.

Lekeitio 2012

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Long May Dede Reign In Baltimore

 Long May Dede Reign In Baltimore

Ottoman Spiced Firik Risotto

When I was growing up (in the middle of the last century), I was aware of three grain crops: barley, oats and wheat. I knew them well, from the time they broke ground to the time they were threshed (the workers enjoyed a bottle or two of the black stuff!). 

Later on, much later on, I became aware of other grains (rye, spelt) and, last weekend in Baltimore, Dede introduced us to another one or at least to another variation: Firik, an ancient grain from his Turkey.

Aged Striploin (Wagyu Dexter cross)

And there was much more from Ahmet Dede’s native country including mulberries, his spice mix, Turkish cold pressed olive oil. Indeed, he has some 50 different spices, oils, molasses, nuts, grains and more from Turkey.

Sourdough and glimpses of Stonewell Cider.

The restaurant in the local Customs House elaborates:  “Our spiced based Turkish fusion cuisine is created by using raw and fresh ingredients from West Cork… An emphasis on beautiful local produce married with Chef Ahmet Dede’s Turkish heritage…”. 

Turkish Delight

And then, to the premium inputs from Turkey and Ireland,  he and his team add amazing technical skills, precision and attention to detail.

We start our culinary trek, no cutlery required for this first step, with a couple of amazing snacks. One is based on a biscuit made from mushrooms, a toothsome squeeze of mature Coolea, then a sliver of onion, all crowned with a spicy crisp. The other was the dolma,  a top to bottom segment of poached onion stuffed with rice, topped with smoked yogurt and caviar, and decorated with chive flowers. 

Red Mulberry Vacherin

What a beginning! And it just got better. As we made our delightful way through the many courses, we said “that was the best” and repeated the phrase again when the next one came along.

But this next one was truly amazing, an illustration that this Irish-Turkish fusion was giving us the most amazing food. It was the Spiced Lobster Bisque, Brown Crab Manti and Caviar. The fish of course came from the waters around the nearby islands and the cape.


Around this point, he introduced us to his beautiful sourdough bread along with the Turkish olive oil and the Irish butter from Gloun Dairy. 

Now time for another gem: Langoustine, radish, pea, smoked Crème Fraiche, and spiced consommé. And it just got better with the Cod, Chicken, Butter, Grapefruit, Lobster, and Fermented Chili Oil. The cod is not a rare fish on Irish menus but rarely do you get it so pristine and beautiful as this, singing on the plate. Of course it had a classy chorus to accompany it.

Rice pudding tartlet

Course six was soon in front of us, the only meat of the day, a Wagyu and Dexter cross Aged Striploin, Ottoman Spiced Firik, Mint, Carrot, Kumquat and Isot. The meat, from Macroom, was excellent and yet it was that Firik that stole my taste buds, quite an amazing “risotto” with the grain looking like pearl barley but so much more flavoursome. In fairness, the grain and the meat together were quite the main course.

It was to be cheese and sweet all the way after that and so we switched from Stonewell Cider to Killahora Ice Wine, just as the Red Mulberry Vacherin (a soft cow’s cheese), pomegranate, wood sorrel, young meadowsweet, arrived on the table. It looked beautiful but, we were “ordered” to smash it with the spoon. And, having taken the photo of course, we did the vandal bit and then tucked in and enjoyed every large and little fragment.

Hazelnut Bon Bon

Next a trio of small sweets were introduced: Hazelnut Bon Bon, Blood Orange & Cardamom along with the best Turkish Delight I’ve ever tasted.

And yet one more treat before we made a leisurely farewell. As with all the previous courses, our friendly and efficient servers (and there were quite a few) gave us the details and, on this occasion, the chef showed amazing precision as he made the most flawless quinnelles to top the Sütlaç ‘Rice Pudding’ Tartlet.  

Killahora Ice Wine. Delicious

And that topped our memorable 10 course lunch at the Michelin Star restaurant. Thanks to Dede and Maria and to their lovely staff. Long may they reign in Baltimore.

Baltimore Video (short)

Sunday, August 2, 2020

A Bank Holiday Taste of the Week Special from Baltimore. Stunning "Combination" between Sally Barnes and Ahmet Dede

Taste of the Week
A Bank Holiday Special from Baltimore
A Stunning "Combination" between Sally Barnes and Ahmet Dede

A couple of weeks back, after a lovely lunch in Baltimore's Custom House where renowned chef Ahmet Dede now works, we stopped at their deli and bought a few things. Two dips ended up in our bag. One was the house pepper and garlic, the other was Sally Barnes' Smoked Fish.

"All you need now for a lovely meal is sourdough." We noted the instructions and a few days later put the three together in the sunny back-garden. And the day after as well...

An amazing Taste of the Week, quite a special one.

If you're anywhere near Baltimore, be sure and call to the deli in the Customs House, just a few yards from the village centre, and buy for yourself. You won't be sorry!

Monday, July 20, 2020

Dede brings a refined and exotic touch to amazing West Cork produce in his new Baltimore venue.

Dede brings a refined and exotic touch to amazing
 West Cork produce in his new Baltimore venue.
Beetroot, and peach

Often it is the simple things that make the meal. Local beetroot, his own bread, even the ice-cream, all stood out during a delicious lunch at Baltimore’s Customs House where top Chef Ahmet Dede may be found these days, just a few steps from The Mews where he helped win a Michelin star in 2018.
Baltimore sunshine

It is all much simpler here in the sunny courtyard with a scattering of rustic tables, a barbecue set up on one side, a young and friendly staff, the menu on a blackboard, the renowned chef himself in and out helping and with time for a chat as was partner Maria. The food for lunch is simple, and simply superb. The sky is blue, the sun high above. On a midday like today, the indoor rooms are redundant.
Chicken mains

Could this get any better? Believe or not, it did. In a gesture that underlines the admiration that Dede has for the people here and they for him, we (all the customers) were invited to taste one of the wines that the management had been trying out in the shade with Fionnuala of Wines Direct. 
Love that Pet' Nat!

Maria, Ahmet’s business partner, told me they do that here and that they want good wines that their customers can afford, particularly by the glass. Our sample was that bit different, a delicious, light and easy-drinking Pet’ Nat, not from France but from Greece! What a lovely bonus. A friendly touch in a friendly and cool place.

They are offering a set menu of three courses on a Thursday, Friday and a Saturday evening at a set price of €50 per person.  The ingredients are sourced locally from the finest, eco friendly and passionate growers, producers, farmers, cheesemongers, foragers, fishmongers and butchers. The menu will constantly change according to the seasons and availability of ingredients, and may change again when hopefully the Covid time-limit is lifted!
We read our simple lunch menu from the blackboard (brought to our table). We both thought it was a bit warm for the Spiced Lentil Soup with sourdough (6.00) so gave it a skip. 
Mega dessert!
There were three salad options on the mains and CL went for the Beetroot, Feta and Peach offering (4 to 6 euro depending on size). The beetroot is at its best right now and Ahmet enhanced that fresh flavour even further with a few slices of peach and also some thin apple slices that were disguised by the red juice but also played a part on the palate. Very enjoyable dish indeed was the verdict! My Blog Chef though would have a little more peach, a little more feta, and a little less beet.
I felt like something more substantial, so picked the quarter rotisserie chicken with bulgar wheat, salad, potatoes and sourdough bread (17.50). Ahmet himself delivered our mains and told me I was having rice instead of the bulgar. He also said they were getting on well here and were very busy overall. So I busied myself with this superb dish, fantastic flavours and textures, reminding me a bit of the (obviously) memorable Farmyard Chicken lunch I had at Café Lavinal in Pauillac a few years ago.
Having skipped the starter, we were up for the dessert: brown butter ice-cream with honey sauce. We weren’t quite prepared for the size of it though, about as big as a wheel of Gubbeen. A very generous round indeed and the sauce was delicious as well. It may have been big but it was finished!
From the deli
We paid up (40 euro including tip) and then took a look at his deli. That has loads of tempting produce, including his salads, his magnificent sourdough, lots of pastries too. Much of the produce is local, including Gloun Cross butter for instance. 
We got a few things here and a bit of advice from Maria. With a Smoked Fish Dip from Sally Barnes and their own Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Dip in the bag, we were told all we needed for a super lunch with the dips was some sourdough. Going down to get that together as soon as I finish up here!
Baltimore was looking splendid when we arrived (and when we left). So we had a good look around, mainly at the boats coming and going from the islands. The little square above the harbour was quite busy too with customers dining in the sun.
But we couldn’t linger any longer and soon we were heading for Skibbereen, Drimoleague and Dunmanway on the way home via the R585. I’d normally prefer the R584 but, with so many interesting stops on that one, we’d have had to make an overnight somewhere, like Gougane. Next time.

Also on this trip:
Mizen Head Visit
Overnight and Dinner at Celtic Ross

Baltimore in the sun

Sunday, May 3, 2020

A Half-day Tour in West Cork? Now we can dream. Baltimore Beacon, Coffee Shop at Uillinn, Leap Waterfall

Half-day Tour in West Cork? Now we can dream a little.
Baltimore Beacon, Coffee Shop at Uillinn, Leap Waterfall

Actual Trip: 6th March 2020
The Beacon and, right, Sherkin Island

It’s a Friday and we’re heading west for a night, long booked at a bargain rate, in the Celtic Ross Hotel. The weather is dry and often bright so we leave a little early and eventually decide on a trip to the famous Beacon of Baltimore.

Plan was to arrive in Skibbereen around lunch-time with a visit to the Coffee Shop at Uillinn (which houses the West Cork Arts Centre and is popularly known as the Rust Bucket). I know that Jessie and Billy, who previously ran the operation in Union Hall, have transferred here.
Gubbeen sandwich and, left, a lovely Frittata
No bother finding parking in the town, indeed there are a few spaces available in the very central lot where the Saturday morning market is held and it’s free. We can see the “rusty” sides of the high-ish Uillinn from here and take an easy stroll over.

It is a small café with a good sized outdoor space for the better days. And there were a few hardy souls outside. But we headed in and Jessie, who told us they are edging towards their first anniversary here, filled us in on what was available. It is a small enough space, no kitchen area as such, but they make the best of some excellent local produce.

There are a few eye-catching light fittings around, including one colourful globe by the window that reflects some of the buildings across the way. But the most eye-filling piece of all is a large painting of the local Reen Pier area by artist John Kelly. In a few months this will be auctioned at Sotheby’s with the proceeds going to CUH and West Cork Rapid Response.

There is quite a choice: Sandwiches, Salads, Toasties, Frittata, Quiches, and more are on the menu, much of it chalked up on boards. Our order soon arrives. I am delighted with a toasted sandwich featuring Gubbeen ham and cheese and the delicious salad that comes with it. Much the same salad is with the well-made Frittata (CL’s choice). And we each enjoy a bottle of lovely Attyflin Estate Apple Juice. We did a bit of sharing and we agreed that the sandwich was one of the best of its kind that we’ve come across in recent years.

Back to the road then and into Baltimore. Fairly used to seeing it in summertime but I’ve never seen it as quiet. We don’t drive all the way to the Beacon and give ourselves a short walk. There’s a fair bit of mud and water at the start of the climb but we do stretch ourselves a bit to make it to the plateau!
At work. Lights on! 

The white painted signal tower at the entrance to the harbour is Baltimore's famous landmark. Jokingly, it is sometimes also called Lot's Wife by the locals, an allusion to the bible, where Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt.  It was built sometime in the 19th century. Various dates are mentioned but there seems to be some consensus that, in its present form, it dates from 1849 or thereabouts!

The views are well worth the climb, cliffs and sea to the left and right,the ocean and  Sherkin island ahead (a bit to the right) and the town and harbour behind.  We do find an easier way down but there’s still the odd slip or two and one of us gets a muddy behind!

Back to the harbour car park then. In the toilets, we see the first of those yellow Covid-19 safety signs - we would see them again in the hotel later on. A stroll around the village is next and we take a peek at the Customs House where work is going on inside in preparation for “a new concept” with an opening on March 19th (three days a week for Michelin chef Ahmed Dede and his team for a start). But that opening was knocked out (temporarily) by Covid19 but they did get going with a very popular takeaway service. Better days ahead!
The Beacon, from a previous visit
Lamp in the Coffee Shop

We skirt around Skibbereen on the way back and soon find ourselves in Leap. I spot the sign for the local waterfall. We’ve never seen it, so we park up on the street and head in the few yards. No charge but you are asked, via a notice, for a donation. After the recent rains, the water was flowing quickly down the narrow channel but the whole thing is on the small side. 

According to Wikipedia, the town’s full Irish name means "O'Donovan's Leap" and is derived from the story of a chieftain called O'Donovan, who was pursued by English soldiers, but escaped them by jumping across a ravine and its waterfall. A local website says “an O’Donovan leaped on horseback while being pursued by British soldiers”. Check it out here.  
Dunsead Castle
in Baltimore

After that, it's an easy drive back to Rosscarbery and to the Celtic Ross, our marvellous base for the night where we had a five star dinner. Read all about it here.

Actual Trip: 6th March 2020

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Taste of the Week. Roaring Ruby Red Ale

Taste of the Week
Roaring Ruby Red Ale

I was eating out recently in Timoleague's Monk’s Lane where Gavin and Michelle have, since they started out a few years back, been strong supporters of local craft brewers. They have a very long list of beers, both in draught and in bottle.

I spotted the Roaring Ruby Red Ale by the West Cork Brewery from Baltimore in draught and noted the “dangerously drinkable” in the blurb.

I can vouch for that having sipped my way through a smooth pint of its delicious caramel and toffee flavours, a superb red ale almost crossing into stout territory. And our Taste of the Week is great with food.

The West Cork Brewery is based at Casey’s of Baltimore, Ireland’s first Brew-Hotel, and was launched in December 2014 by Dominic Casey, Henry Thornhill and brewer Kevin Waugh. They also produce the Sherkin Lass Ale and Stout x Southwest. Wouldn’t mind being down there now in that sun trap beer garden, sipping a pint of Roaring Ruby and the boats coming and going on the blue waters.

Check out three other top Irish beers all on the darker side here

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Rolf’s in Baltimore. Local Produce. Continental Touch.

Rolf’s in Baltimore
Local Produce. Continental Touch.
Quail and apricots
Lots of eating places in Baltimore. I’ve been to a few but last month’s visit was my first to Rolf’s Country House and it was an excellent meal in a lovely room with a friendly and efficient service all through.

Some rich fare on offer here, cream sauces feature in many dishes, and there is quite a middle European touch to the desserts. Here you can find (not necessarily all together) a Flemish Apple Tart, a Black Forest Gateau, Frederike’s Chocolate orange cake and do watch out for the Swiss Chocolate Tart.

Not all heavy though! My starter was the Fresh Brown Crab, served with salad and Marie Rose sauce (10.50). An excellent dish, flavour from the waters from the nearby ocean well matched with the classic sauce. CL too got off to a tasty start: West Cork Black Pudding, on a bed of caramelised apple and served with pan-fried quail eggs (9.50).
Starters and sunset
Quite a good wine choice at Rolf’s. Indeed, they have a wine-bar as well. But would we have red or white? In the end, we settled on the Vier Jahreszeiten Spatburgunder (31.00). This velvety Pinot Noir with its excellent aromas and flavour was a decent match for the various dishes.

Mains for me was the arresting 2 Quails Deboned, flambéed with cognac, and served with apricots and a cream sauce (24.00). This was dispatched, with delight. The sides of potatoes and vegetables were also cooked to perfection and CL got rice with her classic Beef Stroganoff, flambéd with vodka and served with onions and mushrooms and, yes, enriched with a cream sauce (24.50).
Desserts (6.50) were not going to be ignored on this occasion! If you are giving into temptation, you might as well go all the way. More cream with CL’s delicious strawberries, vanilla ice cream and shortbread biscuits. And mine? Well that was Gertrud’s Dark Swiss Chocolate Tart, a sumptuous treat (including cream!). For the finalé, I did very much enjoy a glass of superb Warre’s Otima 10 year old tawny.

After all that, I had to “race” the mile down to the seafront to get a few photos of the spectacular sunset. Just about made it!

Aside from the restaurant and all day cafe, Rolf's also have The Private Dining Room, now available for parties of 10-14 people.

Rolf’s Country House
Baltimore Hill, Baltimore, Co. Cork
Phone: +353 (0)28 20289
email :