Thursday, October 18, 2018
Beats and Brunch. Music and Munch.
All Happens at The River Club.
Cork’s progressive River Lee Hotel has spectacularly transformed its dining and beverage facilities in recent months. The eye-catching River Club is now their ultra comfortable centre.
Here you can relax and enjoy brunch, lunch and drinks (with the alternative of the adjoining enclosed riverside terrace) and there’s sophisticated dining in the Grill Room. Sophisticated or casual or just in for a drink and nibbles with friends, the River Club is worth a call.
We visited the colourful venue on Sunday as a part of a Media Sneak Peek. Head Chef Paul Lane had a line-up of tempting brunch dishes for us while the music, from vinyl, added to the buzz. Claire and Sinead, rightly proud of the new set-up, greeted us and told us their ingredients come from an array of local suppliers including the English Market and that all their beef is 100% per cent Irish.
Soon their Signature Bloody Mary (Ketel One Vodka, River Club Mary Mix, Lemon and with or without oyster garnish) made a welcome appearance and we were up and running in our comfortable high seats. You also have the armchair option! Enjoyed too one of their Juicery Shots (mine was the Blueberry with Almond Milk and Coconut water). And then followed the Granola (Greek yogurt, seasonal fruit compote).
By now, we were finding out more about the menu, making our choices. I put my eye on the Sautéed Wild Mushroom and Spinach (English muffin, poached eggs chilli flakes, and hollandaise sauce) and I wasn’t disappointed. Far from it.
CL too was very happy with her choice: Tomato and Avocado Toast (English muffin, poached eggs, chilli flakes and hollandaise sauce). We were both saying that we preferred the muffin to sourdough in the dishes. What do you think?
Also available were the River Club Brunch Special, Eggs Florentine and Toasted Banana Bread. And, don’t worry, on their full menu you’ll find Eggs Benedict and Eggs Royale and more.
And we also had dessert. CL picked the Lemon Posset, a very good one indeed. Meanwhile I was spooning from my tall Chocolate Sundae and sipping from a flavour packed Espresso O’Martini (Kalak Irish Vodka, Black Twist Liqueur, Espresso, Demerara). Both the Kalak and the Black Twist are Irish by the way.
Lots of tempting cocktails on offer, a selection from their Hi-Ball and Classic lists. Very tempted by the Safe Harbour (Kraken Spiced Rum, Ginger Beer, Lime, Murphy’s Irish Stout, Demerara) and the Barry’s Brandy (Courvoisier VSOP Cognac, Cold Brew Barry’s Tea, Honey, Lemon). I did get a taste of the the Brandy but my favourite was the Velvet Lady (Blackwater No. 5 Gin, Velvet Falernum, Cointreau, Lemon). Just perfect!
Thursday, February 15, 2018
Good food. Good Wine. And Two Amigos.
The Maryborough Hotel held their first ever wine dinner this week and it was a resounding sold-out success. Stanley A. Moss, representing the Riojan winery Luis Cañas, set the tone early on, promising to “be fun, not geeky” and fellow presenter John Wilson, the Irish Times wine writer, had no problem in making it a double act. The duo went to successfully impart plenty of information on the various wines without tying us up in technical knots.
Towards the end, John described the experience as “one of the bargains of the century!”, referring to the brilliant wines and the excellent food, and that was the cue for a round of applause for the Maryborough’s outstanding chef Gemma Murphy, with thanks too of course to Luis Cañas from Rioja Alavesa.
We were warmly welcomed at a lovely reception. Cava was on offer, a drink that John Wilson says is getting better and better, “different, distinctive”. The same words could well be attached to the Kalak vodka, produced by Tipperary man Patrick Shelley, “a rare single malt Irish vodka, distilled four times in Skibbereen” and available at the reception in a lovely cocktail.
Verdejo is one of my favourites white wine grapes and so I was delighted to see the Val de Vid 2016 paired with Scallops, Mandarin salsa and Yuzu Foam. Stanley said this aromatic and flavourful wine comes from Rueda and the production, from old vineyards, is small. It is difficult to obtain in Ireland and only available in restaurants.
John remarked that he thinks of it as the “Spanish Sauvignon blanc, with citrus, green fruits and dry like a New Zealand Sauvignon blanc.” He remarked that there are some cheap Verdejos out there and advised paying “a bit more to get the quality”. Tasty, aromatic and satiny and it got us off to a great start at the table.
We were now on to Cod, compressed cucumber, radish, shimeji, wakame, dashi, matcha green tea. More Verdejo? No, the reds were introduced, a lightly oaked elegant Crianza 2014, fruity on the nose and palate with a lively acidity playing a key role. John Wilson said that Rioja wines come ready to drink because of the ageing and classification system. The pairing, by the way, was quite a success.
|Beef Cheek Ravioli|
Third course was Foie Gras, Crispy Chicken skin, Hazelnut and miso caramel and this was matched with the Luis Cañas Reserva 2011. John pointed out the main grape in Rioja is Tempranillo, “the Spanish variety”. Stanley said they do their best to produce good fruit. Sometimes that means cutting back on the yield and less grapes means more expensive wine. “But usually you get what you pay for.”
There was a double step up in class with the Gran Reserva being by-passed as we were treated to the Cañas Reserva La Familia 2011, a good year here in Rioja. With its pleasant and complex nose, round palate with great structure and juicy tannins, it was a super match with the Assiette of Ballinwillin Venison, perhaps the highlight of the meal.
And it paired well too with the next course, Beef Cheek Ravioli, kohlrabi, cured egg yolk and spilt red wine jus,
This Familia is 85% Tempranillo with only the best of the grapes being selected to “magnify the good side”. It is a superb wine, intense and complex on the nose, “milkier, creamier on the palate”, powerful with chocolate notes (which came in handy as the dessert was Chocolate Pave with Cherry).
At that stage, some more “sweets” appeared as well, as did a Black Twist Cocktail. Black Twist, invented by Conor Coughlan, is a blend of coffee and whiskey and you may read more about it here.
All good things come to an end but I have the strong impression that the Maryborough will soon have another wine dinner. Watch this space!
* For more info on the wines check on Searsons.com
Food & Wine Event February 13th 2018 Tasting Menu
Scallops, mandarin salsa, yuzu foam.
Foie Gras, crispy chicken skin, hazelnut, miso caramel.
Cod, compressed cucumber, radish, shimeji, wakame, dashi & matcha green tea oil.
Assiette of Ballinwillin Venison Beef cheek ravioli, kohlrabi, cured egg yolk, spilt red wine jus.
Beef Cheek Ravioli, kohlrabi, cured egg yolk and spilt red wine jus
Chocolate pave with cherry.