Showing posts with label Brown Thomas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Brown Thomas. Show all posts

Friday, December 6, 2013

Happy Gaggle of Wine Geese at BT. Last of 2013 Events

Happy Gaggle of Wine Geese at BT

Last of 2013 Events

The last of the 2013 Winegeese events, celebrating Irish connections to the wine industry worldwide, was one of the best. Last night, at the Ballymaloe Pop-up Wine Shop in Brown Thomas, Limerick’s Dermot Sugrue of Wiston Wines in the South Downs and Wicklow winemaker Simon Tyrrell in the South Rhone were the stars of the evening, delightfully hosted by John Wilson of the Irish Times.

John’s well judged interventions were sprinkled with some wine wit by Cork’s own Maurice Healy, an ex Christian Brothers pupil, then a barrister and author. Healy, born here in 1887, moved to London after WW1 and it was there that his interest in wine flourished. Besides writing (often rather wickedly) on the subject, he also contributed to radio programmes and indeed Winston Churchill was one of his fans.

Dermot Sugrue started the evening, and a lovely one it was, with his own wine: Sugrue Pierre. He dabbled in beer and wine at home in Limerick as an adolescent before going to learn the ropes at Plumpton College in the UK. He started his wine making career at the famous Nyetimer, also in the UK.
Dermot with Ted Murphy
In 2006, he decided to leave in order to fulfil his ambition of establishing a new winery in West Sussex, in collaboration with the Wiston Estate's Harry & Pip Goring. This wine though is his own, a blend of the classic champagne grapes, and awarded an unprecedented 96 points, the highest ever for an English Sparkling wine. It is a gem for sure.

He was at pains to point out that while the English wine is similar to champagne the local winemakers are all keen to stress that it is essentially an English sparkling wine, with its own character, and not a mere copy. They are to some degree helped by the natural conditions which results in low yields and very high concentration.

This was all underlined with his next wine, the 2011 Wiston Sparkling Rosé. This, newly released and in a miniscule quantity (compared to the big houses), had “great flavour, great intensity, all from a great year”.
Simon making a point!
Simon Tyrrell didn’t admit to any adolescent attempts at beer or wine making but he too ended up at Plumpton College before he and wife Emma set up their own wine importing business in Ireland in 2003, Tyrrell and Company.

Simon has a particular focus on the Rhone valley and it was there that he eventually achieved his ambition to do more than buy and sell wine and began to make his own. And the wine he showed last evening was the one he wanted to make, a good simple Cote du Rhone: Les Deux Cols “Cuvée d’Alizé” 2012.

Made with a blend of 55% Grenache 35 Syrah and 10 Cinsault, it is simply very good with a “great savoury balance”. Might well be one for the Christmas dinner. John Wilson wrote of the 2011 bottle: “An exceptional wine for the price, with wonderful fresh but rounded dark berry fruits, herbs and black olives. It has the substance to stand up to the full range of flavours but won’t dominate proceedings.”
John Wilson enjoying the craic.
John Wilson himself didn’t come empty handed. His first wine was the 2009 L’Abbeille de Fieuzal (Pessac Leognan), the second wine of the estate. Second wine but not second class. Made with 60% Merlot, 33 Cabernet Sauvignon and 7 Cabernet France, it “is a very good example of the vintage”.

Then we moved on to the Barton family and John told the story of a tasting he attended there where the big dog invariably tried to catch the spit of wine bound for the free standing spittoon on the floor of the tasting room. Wonder if that dog stayed sober.

Any dog that strayed into BT last evening would have left thirsty as we tasted the first Barton, the L’Impression de Mauvesin Barton, a lovely Medoc mix of mainly Merlot,with the two Cabernet grapes. And that was followed by a gem from St Julien, La Reserve de Leoville Barton 2008, a smooth elegant blend of 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23 Merlot and 4 Cabernet Franc.
Colm, Beverly and Mauirce

And we finished off with a wee drop of Cognac. No, not Hennessy as you might expect, but Delamain. The original company was founded by Dubliner James Delamain but had its ups and downs after his death in 1800. Nowadays, it is one of the few family owned Cognac producers and is based in Jarnac. Despite the Irish connection, you won’t be able to buy it here but do watch out for it in duty free shops where the Pale and Dry XO turns up.

What will turn up in the Winegeese series next year? The three person committee – Colm McCann, Beverly Mathews and Maurice O’Mahony – are determined to keep it going. I’m told a major Californian vineyard will be in Cork in February. Watch this space! For now, well done to the three and their helpers and distinguished guests (local wine historian Ted Murphy was present again at BT). Joyeux Noël et bonne année.
Three wine fans at Brown Thomas last evening.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week
Crozier Blue Cheese
Cashel Blue may be better known, but Crozier Blue (left in picture), that beautiful creamy cheese made from the milk of sheep that graze under the Rock of Cashel, is up there now with its more established cousin (made with cow's milk) and a firm favourite in our house. Enjoyed it most recently at a marvellous tasting in the Food Emporium in Brown Thomas (Cork) where Colm McCan and the Ballymaloe Pop-Up Wine Shop brought the Grubb family, who make both cheeses, and Taylor's Port (represented by Chris Forbes) together. Not just a Taste of the Week. More like the Tasting of the Year. Brilliant. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Amuse Bouche

Taylor's Late Bottled Vintage was launched in 1970 with the 1965 vintage. Not everyone welcomed this innovation. One unnamed source predicted that 'it will kill the Port trade, but it will kill Taylor's first'. In fact the contrary proved to be the case. LBV was a resounding success and gradually other Port houses launched their own versions. 

From Taylor’s, The Story of a Classic Port House.

(Chris Forbes of Taylor's, who did much work on this book, is in Cork City tomorrow evening. The Port tasting is in Brown Thomas at 6.00pm and Sarah Grubb of Cashel Blue will also be there with both Cashel and Crozier. That should make for an interetesing taste event!)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Taylor's Port and Cashel Blue at BT Friday

Taylor's Port and Cashel Blue at BT Friday
 Friday 15th November, 6pm
Cashel, before the blue.
Ballymaloe's Colm McCan has been in touch about Friday's tempting "match-up" in the Food Emporium (Brown Thomas) between Taylor's Port and Cashel Blue Cheese.

"Established over three centuries ago in 1692, Taylor’s is one of the oldest of the founding Port houses and will be represented by Chris Forbes. We will also be joined by Sarah Furno from Cashel Blue Cheese and Crozier Blue Cheese, in Co. Tipperary, so an evening to look forward to, with Taylor's Port and Cashel Blue.
Here too, we have a selection of wines from our award winning wine list and wine cellar here at Ballymaloe. Open seven days a week, we have a great selection of wines and gift ideas, and we will also be holding wine tastings and welcoming visiting winemakers."

Some well priced good wines
Thought I might share the details on some decent well priced wines that I've come across recently.

In Cafe Gusto last weekend, I was reminded of the merits of Beso de Vino range imported by Wine Alliance and widely available. They are the house wines in Gusto. The white is a Macabeo and the red is a blend of Syrah and Garnacha, and both come from the Carinena region of Spain. Just checked on Bradley's Off Licence website where they are available for €10.99 a bottle.

Earlier, I had picked up an award winning white in Karwig Wines (Carrigaline). The Claude Val Vendages 2012, an IGP by Paul Mas from the Aude Valley in the Languedoc, is a blend of no less than six grapes: Grenache Blanc, Chenin, Mauzac, Chasan, Vermentino and Sauvignon Blanc. Didn't quite know what to expect when I parted with my €11.25 but it is a beauty: fruity, fresh and well balanced and a smooth, almost oily, mouthfeel. Quite a good wine at a decent price.

Hayfield Festive Wine Event
"Join us on December 5th for our Festive Wine Society evening, delight in an evening of superior wines and exceptional cuisine. Our guest speaker is Richard McMahon from Erne Wines and he will be presenting Spanish wines which they supply exclusively from the Baron de Ley winery. 

Begin your evening with a sparkling wine reception,this shall be followed by a 5 course menu, exclusively designed by Executive Head Chef Graeme Campbell, to complement the 5 wines showcased."

Tickets are €79 per person. To Book: Please call us on +353214845941 or email

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Super Saturday. Castlemary Farm. Midleton Farmers Market. The Food Emporium.

Super Saturday

Castlemary Farm. Midleton Farmers Market. The Food Emporium.

Olive and one of her goats.
This super Saturday started with a visit to Castlemary Farm. Great to meet up with the hard-working Olive Hallahan and her goats (who have a very comfortable life, especially Dan the Man!). Olive’s small shop on the farm opens every Saturday morning and today, for the first time, she had her Smoked Goats Cheddar on sale.

Frank Hederman did the smoking here so that cheese was top of our list but we also got a  few other bits and pieces including a Goat Cheese Fruit Yoghurt and a lovely brown loaf made with goat buttermilk! She also sells produce by the neighbours, including honey and eggs. The smoked cheese, by the way, tastes like a success, the smoking very finely judged indeed.
Olive meets another Billy

You may also buy Castlemary products at the regular Friday Country Market in Midleton and at the nearby shop recently opened by Helen Aherne. Olive tells me that Helen is a talented baker and her cakes also feature in the Midleton shop.

From Castlemary, I made my way to Midleton and to the regular Saturday morning Farmers Market. We were still reasonably early but O’Driscoll’s of Schull were rapidly running out of fish. Still we managed to get some fresh cod. Mushrooms from Irish Shiitake, Smoked Mackerel from the aforementioned Mr Hederman, and a lovely sweet Almond Brioche ring from Arbutus Bread were among the other products to find a way into the sturdy shopping bag. Lots of choices for lunch and later!
The sunshine was giving way to rain as I headed downtown in the afternoon to the Food Emporium at Brown Thomas. Lovely to meet Darina Allen who was signing copies of her most recent book, 30 Years at Ballymaloe (with over 100 new recipes), and to renew acquaintance also with Anthony Cresswell of Ummera Smoked Products who had samples of his brilliant produce for tasting.

Ballymaloe have a pop-up wine shop here and some of their wines were open for tasting with Peter Corr of Febvre Wines doing the honours and opening some terrific wines including a Vacheron Sancerre, a lovely pure white wine, mineral rich and zesty, produced by biodynamic farming.

That was good but the star of the show was undoubtedly the 2008 Raveneau Chablis. It was a rare pleasure to sample this Classic Chablis 1er Cru from Reveneau’s Butteaux vineyard.

The tastings here are of a very high standard indeed and that will continue next Friday evening at 6.00pm when Chris Forbes of Taylor's Port, one of the oldest of the founding Port houses, and Sarah Furno, of the magnificent Cashel Blue and Croizier Blue Cheeses, are the distinguished visitors. Should be a lovely evening.
Darina Allen, Ursula Bosman (Brown Thomas) and Yours Truly at the
Food Emporium.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Try the Taste of the Week at Brown Thomas this Saturday.

Taste of the Week
Smoked Chicken @ Urru Culinary Store by CorkBilly
This smoked chicken, from Ummera in Timoleague, is a top top product. And very versatile too,. We used it in a paella last weekend and it was a treat. There are quite a few more recipes on the Ummera website here
If you are in Cork City this very Saturday, November 9th, Ummera will be up on the 2nd Floor of Brown Thomas in their new Food Emporium offering tastings as Darina Allen signs copies of her new book, "30 Years at Ballymaloe". Peter Corr of Febvre Wines will be tasting a selection of wines from the classic French wine regions. Time: 2pm to 4pm

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week
Hadji Bey's Turkish Delight
from the Food Emporium at Brown Thomas (Cork).
For much of the 20th century, the Hadji Bey
shop in McCurtain Street was a favourite
destination for many Cork children. And their
parents! Made by the Batmazian family, the fame
of their Turkish Delight spread throughout the land.
There was much consternation when the family eventually
ceased production but now, thankfully, the delicacy is being made
by Urney Chocolates in Newbridge, Co. Kildare.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Taylor's Port Tasting in City

Taylor's Tasting in City
Chris Forbes of Taylor's was in the Ballymaloe Wineshop at Brown Thomas for an early afternoon tasting. We started off with the White Chip Dry Port. This may be mixed into a long drink, with tonic water for instance, but I like it just the way it is, straight from the fridge. 

Then we moved on to the Crofts Late Botted vintage (LBV).  LBV ports are the product of a single year's harvest and tend to be lighter bodied than a vintage port. This 2005 is very approachable, a ready to drink Port with an attractive fruity, rich taste. Chris advised that this may also be taken chilled.
Ballymaloe's Colm McCan (left) with Helen Lynch (Cloudberry Bakery),
Chris Forbes (Taylor's), Yours Truly and Maurice O'Mahony (Wine Alliance)
The two older wines followed, starting with the 1983 vintage. Taylor’s Vintage Port is one of the world’s great iconic wines. Made only in the very finest years – known as ‘declared’ vintages – Vintage Ports are blended from the best produce of the firm’s own estates of Quinta de Vargellas, Quinta de Terra Feita and more recently, Quinta do Junco.

The other "senior" was the 30 year old Tawny. This is one of the rich and mellow tawny ports which age for longer periods in oak casks. Taylor's do 10,2030 and 40 year old tawny. These have a delicious nuttiness and aromas of butterscotch and fine oak wood that intensify the longer they spend in wood.

These were two beauties and regrets were expressed that we weren't going to Ballymaloe this evening where Chris is joining forces with Wilkie's Chocolate for what is sure to be a lovely evening in the Cookery School. Details here.

But we did have the considerable consolation of trying the ports with some delicious macarons from Cloudberry Bakery who also have a shop in the Emporium and then it was off on a surprise visit to Idaho Cafe where VAT campaigner Richard Jacob was able to celebrate his success with a drop of the Port and where we each enjoyed a cup of his super Joe.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Brown Thomas Launch Food Emporium

Brown Thomas Food Emporium
Birgitta Curtin
Cork’s Brown Thomas  launched their Food Emporium with music, wine and, of course, food in the store last evening. And it turned out to be a very enjoyable occasion.

Cheese producers were there in force. Great to meet, however briefly, Padraig O’Farrell of CarrigalineCheese  but we’ll see him again next week on their open day. Also there were Cooleeney,  Durrus and Gubbeen, the latter with their cheese and impressive Cheese Oatcakes.

Arun Kapil
Got a glass of wine on the way in and was soon comparing it in various glasses under guidance from Martin Turner of Riedel, in town especially for the event. The proper glass sure makes a difference – you can take that from an ex-sceptic! And the experience was repeated later with a lovely Pinot Noir (innocent Bystander) from Ballymaloe Wines , who have been in the Emporium for the past few months.

Ballymaloe  indeed strongly supported the event last evening and there was a sweet finish with their pastry chef JR Ryall  providing us with some gorgeous chocolate truffles to match with the dessert wine.  
But before that we had some great tastings. The Castlemartyr Resort even had a menu of good things to try and there was no shortage of volunteers. Tom Durcan, delighted with his Gold at the Blas as the weekend, had his corned and spiced beef on show.

Met Burren Smokehouse's Birgitta Curtin again, after the Blas Awards in Dingle, and this time got to taste her glorious smoked salmon. There too was Arun from Green Saffron  dishing out a perfect Chicken Korma. By the way, look out for his new Spice Blends and those luxurious Cook-in Sauces, so easy, so good.
It is a busy time too for Timoleague’s Anthony Creswell of Ummera Smokehouse. He smokes salmon, duck, bacon and chicken, all terrific and regulars on menus on top restaurants, now at the Emporium and also available online. And then we had Una’s Pies, a really top product as her regular awards at Blas Na hEireann underline. Una is also a regular at Mahon Point Farmers Market.
And from the kingdom itself came Sam of Cloudberry Bakery who make artisan cakes and desserts - anything from colourful cake pops and cupcakes to show-stopping wedding cakes. Cloudberry was a  Blas winner in 2012. So pop into the Emporium and treat yourself.

Very good but better in Riedel
We were very well treated last night – even got my pic taken with Rachel Allen – and there was a bonus of a goodie bag on exit. Well done to the folks at Brown Thomas and best of luck for the Christmas season.
Sweet finish!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Handsome Red at Ballymaloe

Handsome Red at Ballymaloe

Pena Roble, Ribera del Duero 2011, 14.5℅, €18.50, Ballymaloe Wines at Brown Thomas.

Had just tasted and dumped a cheap and cheerless South American red (no grape variety mentioned) before opening this. Chalk and Cheese. Actually had full confidence in the Pena Roble as I had tasted it last year at lunch in Ballymaloe, where it is the house red.
It is one hundred per cent Tempranillo and has spent six months in  American and French oak barrels. Colour is an intense red with warm inviting aromas of dark fruits and some spice. The palate reveals an extension and reinforcement of the aromas. It is complex and smooth, full and spicy, and possessed of an impressive finish.
The wine is produced by Bodegas de Penafiel, who began producing in 2000.   "All our wines are made from the indigenous variety Tempranillo. This grape, hallmark of Ribera del Duero, contains exquisite fruit notes that we extract to give our wines their own identity."
A young winery, an old grape and, for me, a new friend, one to keep close at hand. Very Highly Recommended.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Food and Drink Spotting

Food and Drink Spotting
Ballymaloe Pop-up at Brown Thomas

Ballymaloe have hit the city with their new pop-up wine shop upstairs at Brown Thomas, by the Table Restaurant. Their new space has quite a catchy design and you can’t miss it!

The shop opened last Thursday and I called this week and had a great chat with Colm McCan and Fionn Little. Colm, the sommelier at Ballymaloe, tells me the older wines and natural wines are being kept in their on-site Eurocave which has three temperature settings. “It will be just like getting the bottle from the cellars in Ballymaloe.

Colm, as you probably know, is very keen on his sherry and has quite a few on display here, including some En Rama. But Port lovers are not forgotten and Madeira fanciers have a good selection to choose from.

Colm is looking forward to having a few tastings in the store over the coming weeks and he is also high-lighting the Wine Geese events with a fine display of wines with Irish connections.

The wine shop has something for everyone. Colm: “We have wines from €12.50 upwards, bubbles from €14.95.” So why not pop in to the pop up and have a chat with the friendly folks there and see what suits you from the large selection on offer.

Cloudberry Bakery 
Cloudberry Bakery are also new to the Emporium in Brown Thomas. Had a chat with Sam and she told me they make artisan cakes and desserts - anything from colourful cakepops and cupcakes, to show-stopping wedding cakes. “Our ingredients include Belgian chocolate, unsalted butter, Madagascan vanilla and local free-range eggs.”

Sampled their chocolate brownie which was gorgeous but the bite that really caught my attention was of one of their tempting Macarons. This was the lemon, made using with their own lemon curd. It was different to the norm and absolutely delicious! So now you have two calls to make when next you’re in Brown Thomas.

Shorts, from the net
Amicus Restaurant We attended the Eat the Street Awards Ceremony at the weekend. A very entertaining and fun event! Not only are these girls excellent restaurant critics, they are also talented singers, dancers and actors! We took away two awards: Spiciest Food for our chicken wings and Best Service for the warm welcome, friendly staff and the nicest Manager they had ever met. (Damien)
O’Donovan’s Off Licence Do YOU want to win tickets to INDIEPENDENCE Music & Arts Festival this Summer? All you have to do is create an object out of empty cans or bottles and upload the picture of your finished piece through our competition tab or through private mail!

Manning's Emporium We are looking for an experienced barista and deli counter assistant. Ideally someone who would have basic knowledge of Irish Farmhouse cheese and an interest in artisan food products. If this sounds like you or someone you know please email with contact details.

Griffin’s Garden Centre
Tomorrow is Fiver Friday and what a great menu:
A Home-grown Salad Dish and Granny Griffin's Home-baked Brown Bread with Free Tea or Coffee for just €5!
Aghabullogue Angus Beef Hotpot topped with sautéed potatoes (gluten free)
Breaded Fillet of Haddock served with chips and a homemade tartar sauce
served from 12:30pm, only while stocks last!

Check out the Poacher’s Inn Newsletter

All the way from Cairo...Raspberry Dirt Cake at DUKES Pâtisserie & Tea Lounge in Cairo, Cairo Governorate, Amazing raspberry butter cream!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Enjoyable Eating at BT Dublin

Eating at BT Dublin
Parmesan crusted chicken
Shop ‘til you drop they say but there really is no need to go that far, especially if you are in the Brown Thomas Store in Dublin. Here they have a superb in-house restaurant on the third level, run by the sisters Peaches and Domini Kemp. It is a stylish bright area with stylish bright food but the style is always accompanied by a genuine substance, much of the food locally sourced. Service is really excellent and the seating is comfortable, toilets nearby.

Had a lovely lunch there recently. Had a great mix on the plate: Parmesan crusted free-range Irish chicken, sautéed potatoes, shallot and tomato dressing, and rocket. At €17.50 it was the most expensive dish on the menu but well worth it.

Goat cheese salad

Warm Fivemiletown Goat Cheese salad with Puy Lentils, roast beetroot, baby spinach, micro herbs and roast hazelnuts was another lovely plateful, priced at €15.90, and thoroughly enjoyed by CL. They have a great choice of mains, including Pasta of the Day, Asian spiced crab cakes and Soy and Ginger glazed salmon.

CL went for the healthy dessert option, quite a colourful and tasty one: Raw energy fruit salad – pineapple, mango, grapes, melon and mixed berries (6.90). I didn’t have the energy for that so settled for large cookie and a great cup of coffee. Back to the shopping after that enjoyable interlude!

By the way, the Kemp sisters also run the restaurant in the Brown Thomas store in Cork. Must check it out!