Showing posts with label Castle Café. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Castle Café. Show all posts

Monday, October 11, 2021

Time Now For Blasket Islands Lamb. At Market Lane, ORSO, Castle Cafe and Elbow Lane.

Time Now For Blasket Islands Lamb

At Market Lane, ORSO, Castle Cafe and Elbow Lane.

Chops and Feta

For the month of October, or as long as stocks last, you can taste one of the country’s most sought after products in the Market Lane Group of Restaurants, scattered across Cork City. Executive chef Stephen Kehoe has created a dozen or so dishes that highlight the amazing quality of Blasket Islands lamb, “arguably the most delicious lamb in the country”. 

Sausage Board, Lamb nearest you
Market Lane annually get a small share of the lamb which is raised on Beginish, one of the Blaskets. There the lambs, which are born in the summer, graze in a marshy meadow full of heather, grasslands and wild herbs, which gives the meat a unique depth of flavour. The meadow is salty from sea spray, and this gives the lamb its highly valued pré-salé flavour.

Delighted to get an invite to Elbow Lane last week to sample the lamb. Lots of other dishes, all very tempting, especially some of the fish ones, but I stuck to the brief, hardly a hardship with that lovely lamb coming in different guises. Actually if you wish to try out a variety of lamb dishes, Elbow Lane and ORSO are the places to go.

Soon, we were seated in the busy restaurant with its bright colour theme. They do of course have a wine list but for me the excellent beers from the on-site micro brewery are always an irresistible attraction. We settled, happy to do so, on the continental style Elbow Lane Lager and the Wisdom Lane (an amber ale that is very versatile at the table).

Lamb neck crostini
The menu here is divided into snacks, starters and mains, sides too of course. On the snacks we spotted the Pulled Blasket lamb neck crostini, grilled peach hot sauce. Just terrific, enhanced by the moderately spicy sauce.

Not mentioned on the night’s menu itself but we were told at the table that the lamb also featured in a starter called the Smokehouse sausage board, house pickles & chutneys. Quite a dish this one, both in terms of quality and quantity. It consisted of three plump sausages. Firstly, I tasted the Lamb (with fennel on the side); the smoothest of the three and packed with flavour. The Duck, with its accompaniments of two different chutneys, was another beauty. And the more rustic Pork sausage with sauerkraut - an excellent combination of taste and texture, perhaps my favourite - completed the hat trick.

Colours of Elbow Lane

Now, for the main event. The Slow-grilled Blasket Lamb chops, ember cooked courgette, pistachio mole, feta, tender and tasty, gave us perhaps the best flavour of the lamb. I’m told the lambs are smaller this year but I reckon the flavour is even better. Beside, the combination with the feta was just spot-on.

Very happy with the meal overall. And here is one reason why. The lamb is leaner, “creating a near-perfect fat to meat ratio” says award-winning Dingle Butcher, Jerry Kennedy, who looks after the lamb when it comes off the island.  “This is the perfect example of produce that is not only free-range, but contains no additives, colourants or preservatives and is vaccination free.” 


Blasket Islands Lamb on Market Lane Group menus (subject to change)

Lamb Shank: Braised Moroccan Blasket Island lamb shank on a bed of turmeric, feta and pomegranate giant couscous served with lamb reduction and pistachio.(ORSO)

Lamb Shoulder: Braised Lamb shoulder served glazed in pomegranate molasses lamb jus, with warm baba ganoush and ribbons of carrot and cucumber in caraway pickle.(ORSO)

Lamb Mince: Batersh - Aromatic ground lamb served on a bed of hot baba ganoush with a side of home-made flatbreads to dib.(ORSO)

Lamb Shank: Lamb Lavaş- Six hour braised lamb shank, pulled, served on in-house flatbreads, with a mango and coriander mambo.(ORSO)

Slow roasted lamb saddle, confit baby potato, lardon, in-house smoked parsnip puree, lamb treacle jus and tender stem broccoli (Market Lane)

Slow cooked lamb rump, fondant potatoes, sunflower seed romanesco, crookneck pumpkin. (Castle)

The busy grill at Elbow

Pulled Blasket lamb neck crostini, grilled peach hot sauce. (Elbow)

Monkfish, lamb pastrami, tomato and horseradish salsa,

mussel emulsion (Elbow)

Smokehouse sausage board, house pickles & chutneys (Elbow)

Slow grilled Blasket lamb chops, ember cooked courgette,

pistachio mole, feta (Elbow)

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Keep Going Cork. Competition! CLOSED!!!!

Keep Going Cork 

Competition! CLOSED!!!!

Correct Answer: Goldie's

And the winner is: 

crazy_chemist_coffee via Instagram

Back in the early stages of Covid, back when we thought it would last a couple of months rather than a couple of years, the Market Lane group commissioned the Keep Going Cork logo. They displayed it on the windows of their restaurants around the city and it became very popular and the group allowed other businesses use it as well.

Covid hasn't gone away and neither has Market Lane. Conrad Howard has just been in touch: "We are going to sell tote bags in January and February with the #keepgoingcork message on them. €6 per pop from the front door with all profits going to SVP." A lovely thought from Conrad and his team, all for a great cause.

He has sent on a couple of the bags and you can win them through this competition (Closing Date 9.00am 12th Jan 2021 and open to Republic of Ireland addresses only ). Just answer the following question:

Q. Name the Market Lane group restaurant that specialises in fish.

Send you answer, name and contact details, to 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

It’s Blasket Lamb Time at Market Lane Group.

It’s Blasket Lamb Time at Market Lane Group.
Uan Blasta at ORSO, Castle Cafe and Elbow Lane
Lamb Shank

It’s that time of year again. The Market Lane’s precious quota of delicious Blasket Lamb has arrived in Cork and the chefs at ORSO, Elbow Lane, Castle Café and the parent restaurant itself are trying to outdo each other with tasty expressions. Every bit of the lamb will be used and there’ll be quite a variety of offerings to choose from.

Diners can look forward to dishes such as ‘Spicy Lamb Sausage, grated tomato, red onion, parsley pine nuts, mint, and sumac served with flatbread, ‘Slow Roasted Lamb Neck Shawarma with tahini, green peppercorn and pickled squash, ‘Braised lamb breast with black garlic mash, wild mushroom and Tawny cider jus’, and ‘Loin of lamb with pancetta and potato terrine, aubergine puree, winter vegetables and a lamb jus’.

When I got the call to try out the dishes at Elbow Lane, there was no hesitation. We got in early on Friday evening last and enjoyed two fabulous courses from their famous grill and some of their own superb beers as well.
Lamb Cutlet

Not too many restaurants use kidneys nowadays, maybe the customers are reluctant. But we had no hesitation when our fantastic server detailed this starter dish for us: Blasket Lamb Kidneys, with Quince, Rhubarb and Kombucha glaze and sautéed Chard.

Kidneys with Chard
Quite a hat trick on the plate. The glaze was unreal, the green Chard provided an extra texture (and flavour of course) and the interaction with the kidneys rounded the potentially robust and rustic dish into a very sophisticated mouthful indeed. Quite a few mouthfuls actually!

The sauce in the next dish, a preserved lemon and marjoram beurre blanc, was another standout. You could have either Lamb Leg (no bone) or Lamb Chops. Both had the same sauce and also a crunchily delicious caper roast cauliflower. 

So one of us  had the Chops, the other the Leg, and there was a bit of swapping going on. If it had been a contest, I think I’d have given the chops, with their amazing fat enhanced flavour (or was it the Angel Lane stout factor), the edge. Must admit I know little about the grill here but it sure delivers fantastic flavours.

Elbow Lane Smokehouse and Brewery, as you may know, is not the biggest, but the crew here make the very best of it, whether it’s the chef is his very confined quarter or the front of house people explaining the various dishes, helped diners make their own choices, in the narrow dimly-lit space,  and it all runs very smoothly indeed. Quite an enjoyable customer experience and highly recommended, especially for couples and foursomes.

Just a bit of background on the Blasket Lamb….

The habitat on the islands is what makes this product so special. The animals mostly graze on the small island of Beginish, a natural bird sanctuary, which makes the soil incredibly fertile.  There, the animals graze at leisure in a marshy meadow full of heather, grasslands and wild herbs.  They have even been known to nibble on the seaweed which washes up on the natural beaches that provide access to the island.  The grass is salty from sea spray and this gives the lamb its highly valued flavour.
Donnacha (farmer) and Jerry (butcher) inspect the sheep as they arrive on the mainland.
As the animals are free to roam uninterrupted, there is no forced ‘fattening’.  This means that the lamb is leaner, ‘creating a near-perfect fat to meat ratio’ says award-winning Dingle Butcher, Jerry Kennedy.  “Fortunately, there is no liver fluke on the islands, so the lamb is not treated for anything other than worms.” 

Conrad Howard, head of the Market Lane Group, who has been supporting Blasket Island lamb for many years now says “We are delighted as a group to highlight this very special produce.  The impeccable provenance of this lamb is reflected in its superb quality and flavour. We are also very proud to be the only restaurants to serve it to our customers. Our chefs begin creating their dishes in August in the anticipation and hope that the lamb will arrive.”

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Catalan Take-over at the Castle Cafe. Chef Sessions Number Four!

Catalan Take-over at the Castle Cafe
Chef Sessions Number Four!

Every now and then the young chefs of the Market Lane group get a chance to shine. The latest came on Monday evening at the Castle Café at Blackrock Castle where, under guidance from Executive Chef Stephen Kehoe, Sara Movilla Cobo, Jose Emilio Escobar Garcia Prieto, Marc Montserrat Vila and Marc Oliveras Duran, cooked a Catalan meal for a full house.
The four have become a core part of the team at the group (which also includes a micro brewery and city restaurants Elbow Lane, ORSO and Market Lane itself) as a result of the excellent recruitment programme that the group has had with CETT (Campus de Turisme, Hoteleria i Gastronomia) University in Barcelona since 2017.

That full house included Market Lane’s Conrad Howard. He was excited as any of the guests as he welcomed us and looked forward to the evening, the fourth in what has become known as the Chef Sessions. Neither he nor we would be disappointed.
We got off to a good start with a glass of Kir. Soon the breads were on that table and soon we were trying them. The selection of Spanish and Irish breads were accompanied by some lovely butters, one featuring beetroot, another garlic and kale, the third mushrooms. And they went down well with a glass of the Elbow Lane red ale.
Black pudding, scallop
Next up was the Salmorejo, a cold tomato soup with olive oil. It was served with cured Spanish ham (on top) and a boiled egg (at bottom). Enjoyed that and also the Black pudding, scallop and pickled carrot tapa.
Eel and apple
There were no less than five “units” in the next serving session. The highlight for me was perhaps the Courgette cannelloni with Cashel Blue cheese, a beautiful combination. The most unusual was the Kokotxas al Pil Pil. Kokotxas is goats neck in garlic oil, with an emulsion of olive oil and garlic and basil.
Also included was a cube of Foie Eel Apple, layers of eel and thinly cut apple with a caramelised top; a Croqueta de L’avia (traditional); and a Seafood Paella.

All the while, we were sipping our wine, two organic gems imported by Le Caveau. The red Almate has been described as “as outstanding within its type and style” and it certainly lived up to the Spanish Wine Lover description. The white, Château Beauregard Mirouze Campana blanc from Corbieres, was aromatic, elegant and with a long finish.
We were getting to the serious end of the evening now and our fish course was Hake with five sauces. I particularly liked it with the fennel. The meat was a well cooked piece of pigeon, served with pack choi and pear. 
Getting full now! But dessert was on the way and a nice one it was as you can see by the top photo. And then there was a selection of petit fours to sample: a Hazelnut Financier, Bailey’s Bombon, and a Panellet. The latter is  the traditional dessert of Catalunya. I think with all the delicious food displayed by the chefs at the Castle, a move to the north east of Spain would be no hardship at all. Meanwhile, we can all look out for the Spanish influence on the menus of the Market Lane group.

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Meadows of Hive Mind. Bees’ Paradise in Myrtleville.

Bees’ Paradise in Myrtleville.
The Meadows of Hive Mind.

The honey, in its tallish jar, is of a light colour though a bit cloudier than usual. But there is a natural explanation. It is produced by the bees at Hive Mind in Myrtleville and is unfiltered. The aromas are attractive, mainly light and floral I think. No wonder, these bees are spoiled, meadows of flowers and herbs set out for them. I am enjoying this sample with its smooth consistency, pleasantly coating the palate, the flavours and aromas persistent.

Hive Mind themselves have persisted since 2014 and the bees are enjoying their meadows by the sea, meadows planted with herbs and flowers (the seed has been organically sourced) that include: Berseem Clover, Borage, Buckwheat, Calendula, Caraway, Chinese Mallow, Cork Cockle, Cornflower, Dill, Fennel, Phacelia, and the beautiful Sainfoin.
Aishling and Mark

The variety of flowers and blossoms from the meadows and the hedgerows help balance the flavours of the honey. Buckwheat on its own yields a dark brown honey which is pungent, the flavour a distinctively malty. Clover, on the other hand, gives a sweet and delicate result, closer to a “normal” honey. The bees love clover but there are quite a few varieties of the plant, so not all clover based honey is the same.

“It’s not too surprising to find that the magical, cliff-edged village of Myrtleville, with its stunning views of the sea, is producing some of best wild honey in the country today,” says Aishling Moore, head chef of award-winning Elbow Lane restaurant, who rates Hive Mind amongst the best honey she has ever tasted. And the good news is that you too can help Hive Mind continue to stretch out a helping hand to the Irish honey bee.

Mark Riordan's apiaries and bee meadow are located at his family farm in Myrtleville House.  To create a sustainable business Riordan has started 'renting' his hives to organisations and individuals in exchange for his honey.   And the Market Lane restaurant group has committed to financially supporting three colonies of honey bees at Riordan's farm.
A meadow at six weeks

His collaboration with Moore, the first with a restaurant, will not only provide for the restaurant’s honey needs throughout the year but it also means that Riordan gets solid financial support to build up his bee stocks and increase the number of hives.  It will also help to maintain a vibrant, healthy habitat for these bee colonies and help Riordan to engage other beekeepers to spread the word.  

Hive Mind is now making an appearance as a hero product on the menus at Elbow Lane, which is part of the progressive Cork-based Market Lane Group of restaurants.  The talented, young Moore has woven this wonderful honey into dressings, sauces and spun it into ice-cream and cocktails. 

Factors such as weather, parasites and pesticides have meant that local bee stocks are diminishing every year so Riordan sees that initiatives like Hive Mind will be vital for the survival of the honey bee into the future. These black and yellow-striped flying friends are key to the country's biodiversity and economy. It is estimated that they contribute some €53m* to the Irish economy every year. 

Riordan, who has a Masters in horticulture and years of experience as a beekeeper, set up Hive Mind in 2014.  “I am delighted to be working with Aishling and the Market Lane Group.  This company is so well established and respected for its ethical and sustainable approach to sourcing.  It is a perfect partner for Hive Mind. It is also a vital link into the city for me.”

The Hive Mind goals are:
  • Promote the growth and development of a national passion for beekeeping.
  • Set up provincial apiaries to carry out a nationwide service.
  • Arrest the decline of the honey bee on a local level.
  • Aid in educating and inspiring as many people as possible.

To buy by the jar, shoppers can go online and fill in an ‘expression of interest’ form.  They will be contacted when the next harvest is completed at the beginning of Autumn.  See the website here.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Chef Sessions. Bone marrow, lambs hearts, cauliflower stalks, tripe, pigs tail, pig skin pasta, and more.

The Chef Sessions At ORSO
Bone marrow, lambs hearts, cauliflower stalks, tripe, pigs tail, pig skin pasta, and more.
Bone marrow

In a remote restaurant in Sweden, Chef Magnus Nilsson saws a bone lengthways as his customers look on. The marrow is scooped out and mixed with other ingredients, a bowl for each guest. Fäviken* is the name of the restaurant and it is in the world’s top 50. No such theatre at ORSO on Monday evening when the Market Lane young chefs presented their latest Chef Sessions, the first one open to the public, but we did have bone marrow, lambs hearts, cauliflower stalks, tripe, pigs tail, spent grain brioche, pig skin pasta, even a stout wort fudge.

The focus here in these sessions is very much on using the previously unused, rarer cuts of meat, little known fish, and on avoiding food waste. But the focus, and the challenge, is sharpened by the imperative to cook and present the unusual to a very high standard. The confident crew did very well indeed and their nine course meal took us beyond the familiar comfort zone and was a delicious delight of taste and imagination.

Served with some excellent beer (their own) and organic wines, this turned out to be a thought provoking nine courses of excellent dining. Keep an eye on the Market Lane and Chef Sessions social media accounts for future events (which may have a different theme but with the same talent behind this “evolving, exciting eating”).

Last Monday's theme was underlined by the welcome drink, Blood Orange Fizz, a delicious cocktail of Beara Gin infused with waste from segmenting blood oranges and topped with Prosecco. Bread and butter was served, the brioche made from spent grain, a by-product of their brewing process. The delicious cultured butter is a fermented butter. Then smoked Cods Roe “criminally underused in our opinion” was served as a mousse on a squid ink cracker. At this stage we were enjoying a bottle of their Jawbone cloudy beer, a superb drink with the food.
Smoked cods roe on squid ink cracker

Then a combination of classic Cork and classic France: Tripe and gribiche. The tripe was slowly braised, pressed, cooled and cut unto rings before dusting with flour and deep-frying. Looking at it, you’d have thought you had calamari on the plate. Then came the bone marrow, served and roasted in the bone and topped with an oil based sauce, flavoured with parsley capers and lemon. Another excellent pairing.

Their own beer
Next up was the Coffee Grounds Baked Beetroot, Hive Mind Honey, ricotta, and malt cracker. Hadn't heard of Hive Mind before but they are a County Cork company, a kind of co-op really, that for a fee will look after hives for you at their location and give you the honey at the end of the season; more info here.  Market Lane have invested in hives and the honey here came from a fennel meadow. The ricotta was made using leftover buttermilk from making the cultured butter and the malt cracker was made from malt from the Elbow Lane micro brewery. And, by the way, all these ingredients came together very well indeed.

The following dish, Pigs Tail and Garlic broth, was also full of flavour. The tails, with the inner bone removed, had been slowly braised, pressed and pan-fried while the broth was made from the skins of roasted garlic which is often wasted. I thoroughly enjoyed that one. 

Another interesting combination followed: Cauliflower stalks, parmesan rind custard, and smoked ham. The stalks had been "confited" in duck fat and the cheese sauce garnished with ham crumb. Time for a palate refresher then and that was a Cucumber sorbet, pickled watermelon rind. Apparently, there is a fair bit of waste with cucumbers and here the outer skin and inner seeds were used to good effect.

Pig skin “pasta” with clams got us going again. Had really been looking forward to the next one and the Lambs heart, potato fondant, kale and lamb demi glace didn’t disappoint. Far from it.

Baked beets
Burnt toast and “barmalade” parfait Barry’s Tea ganache was the tasty dessert. Citrus fruit waste from the bar was used to make the “barmalade” and the white chocolate ganache came from used Barry’s Tea bags. “Using used tea bags you get a more caramel flavour and lose the harsh tannin flavour from the tea”. All a bit complicated to the outsider but no bother at all in cleaning that plate!
Cauliflower stalks..

We had, a long time back, started on the wines, both by Le Caveau. The white was a Judith Beck Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) from Austria while the red was Inspiration by Domaine de la Ville Rouge in Croze-Hermitage and both were excellent.
The coffee then appeared along with a selection of “petit fours”. More invention here. The coffee and walnut was filled with a coffee grounds infused custard. The Beetroot aqua fava Macaron saw the egg white in the recipe replaced by water from Chick pea tins. My favourite was perhaps the Angel Stout wort Fudge. Wort is a by-product of the brewing process, a sweet and malty one.

Just another surprise on the night. At the start, Conrad Howard of the Market Lane group had promised us “a treat” even if many of the ingredients were by-products, discards, or waste. He was spot-on. So well done to all involved, to Lorenzo Luzzani, Chef de Partie in Market Lane, Janos Schmidt, Chef de Partie in the Castle Cafe and Liam Flynn, grill chef in Market Lane and to young Aishling Moore sous chef at Elbow Lane, who once again headed up the team. They also benefited from the regular input of the Group's executive chef and Elbow Lane owner, Stephen Kehoe.

The 'Chef Sessions’ are the result of an intense collaboration among the young chefs working in the Market Lane Group’s four restaurants (Market LaneElbow LaneCastle Cafe Cork & ORSO Kitchen & Bar) who, over a six week period, create a menu to present on the night. CorkBilly was a guest at ORSO.

* For more on the story of this remarkable restaurant and indeed for behind the scenes accounts of restaurants past and present from around the world, do try and get your hands on In The Restaurant (Society in Four Courses) by Christoph Ribbat (2017). I got mine in the local library.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Blasket Lamb Buzz at Market Lane. Also at ORSO, Castle Cafe and Elbow Lane

Blasket Lamb Buzz at Market Lane. 
Also at ORSO, Castle Cafe and Elbow Lane

There’s always a buzz when Market Lane announces that its annual allocation of tasty Blasket Lamb has arrived! Well in case you haven’t heard, now is the time for 2017. Just a short window during which you may get it at Market Lane and its associated restaurants: ORSO, Castle Café and Elbow Lane.

Grabbed an opportunity to taste it last week, had it in both starter and mains, and enjoyed every little bit. The Oliver Plunkett Street venue was indeed buzzing as we arrived to a warm welcome and lots of info on the lamb. We had no other interest on the night, well dessert maybe, so that made it easy for our enthusiastic and well-informed server.

Time perhaps for a bit of background.
This story begins with small holder, Donnacha O Ceileachair, who raises a small flock of sheep on the Great Blasket Island. When the April-born lambs are ready, he brings them by ferry from the Island onto the mainland. Award-winning Dingle Butcher, Jerry Kennedy, selects out the premium meat for the Market Lane Group.

“The impeccable provenance of this product is reflected in its quality and flavour; we are proud to be the only restaurants in Ireland to serve it to our customers. This truly is a farm to fork experience with everybody in the supply chain really respectful and excited about the product.” – Pamela Kelly, Head Chef, Market Lane. And we met Pam on the night and delighted to be able to congratulate her  and her team on a job well done!

The starter was Spiced Blasket Lamb croquette with Velvet Cloud sheep’s yogurt, crispy mint and pomegranate. All the ingredients, including the mild spice, the chickpeas in the croquette, the smooth cooling yogurt from Mayo, each played a role in a lovely plateful.

Server Yuliyan was coming up with some excellent drink matches but we were keen to renew  acquaintance with their own Elbow Lane beers and so he recommended the Wisdom Amber Ale with the starter. He was spot-on with that as he was when suggesting the sharper Elbow lager would do well with the mains.

And, if the starter was five star, then the mains was all of that but even more outstanding, hors catégorie as they say in the cycling world. I’ll give you the full description: Blasket Lamb Rack and pressed lamb belly with fondant root veggies, Elbow beer vinaigrette, and buttermilk mash. This was a duo of lamb to remember, tender and tasty, perfectly cooked and served.

Would we like dessert? Well, we’ll look. Yuliyan recommended the Marmalade and vanilla bread and butter pudding. “The massive one?”, I asked (having had previous). He confirmed with a smile. We decided to share and loved it.

It is just one of about a dozen desserts here. Lots of starters too and the same applies to the mains; here you’ll see the names of local suppliers such as Coolea, Goatsbridge, St Tola, Ballinwillin, Tom Durcan, and Toonsbridge. But, at present, the Blasket Lamb is the star of the show. You’ll need to get in soon as the limited supply won't last for very long!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Blasket Island Lamb Arrives at Market Lane Restaurants

press release

The Market Lane Group Celebrates Blasket Island Lamb 
Across all their Restaurants in October

Jerry and Donnacha
Cork’s Market Lane Group of restaurants will celebrate the unique, award-winning lamb from the Blasket Islands on all their food menus from Wednesday 11 October 2017.  This highly anticipated event is now in its 8th year, and given the popularity of this delicious, rare meat, the chance to experience it usually only lasts until the end of the month.  This celebration of Blasket Island Lamb is exclusive to the Group. 

Chefs in each restaurant (Market Lane, Orso, Elbow Lane and Castle Cafe) create special lamb dishes that reflect their own in-house style of cooking and the full range of cuts will be used.  These will be carefully partnered with drinks recommendations from the group’s wine and beer experts.

The habitat on the islands is what makes this product so special and gives it such a great reputation. The animals graze in a marshy meadow full of heather, natural grassland and wild herbs such as rosemary, sage and thyme.  The grass is salty from sea spray which gives the lamb its highly valued pre-sale flavour. The animals are free to roam so the lamb is leaner creating a perfect fat to meat ratio.

Pamela Kelly Gough, head chef of Market Lane, who has been working with Blasket Island lamb for many years now says “We are delighted as a group to shine a light on this very special organic Autumn lamb, which is different in many ways from the more usual Spring lamb” she says. “The impeccable provenance of this product is reflected in its quality and flavour; we are proud to be the only restaurants in Ireland to serve it to our customers. This truly is a farm to fork experience with everybody in the supply chain really respectful and excited about the product.”
Lamb Shank at ORSO
This story begins with small holder, Donnacha O Ceileachair, who raises a small flock of sheep on the Great Blasket Island.  When the April-born lambs are ready, he brings them by ferry from the Island onto the mainland.  There, they are rested for up to a week on Donnacha’s farm in Dun Chaoin, to recuperate from their choppy journey across the Dingle Sound.  Award-winning Dingle Butcher, Jerry Kennedy, then picks out the premium lambs which are sent for slaughter. When the annual Market Lane order is delivered, the remaining lamb is sold to the public directly from Kennedy’s Butcher Shop on Orchard Lane, Dingle or via

Diners at The Market Group can look forward to dishes such as;
‘Elbow Lager lamb pie, pommes anna and glazed heritage carrots’, “Blasket lamb leg in fish sauce with seaweed gratin’,  ORSO ‘Moroccan braised lamb shank with ras-el-hanout cous cous, preserved lemon, pomegranate and red onion pickle’ and ‘Anchovy and rosemary leg of lamb steak, creamed polenta, with caponata and crispy shallots.’
At Market Lane
Check out the new menus, drinks, specials, menu changes and availability of lamb dishes on the social media channels for the restaurants within the group including and facebook; Market Lane.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Stellar Food and Crew at the Castle Cafe

Stellar Food and Crew at the Castle Cafe
Some go to Blackrock Castle to learn about the Universe, extreme life forms on Planet Earth and to explore life in outer space! Some go to explore the local food on their plate in the Castle CafeAnd it is very good food indeed as we discovered on last week’s visit where we enjoyed a delicious meal in a delightful venue.

The  iconic Cork landmark dates back to the 16th century but the Caste Cafe is much younger than that. Indeed, the Market Lane group (which includes the cafe, Market Lane itself, Elbow Lane and ORSO) is celebrating ten years in business. And congratulations are in order!

It may be in a castle but the café is an easy-going informal place catering to locals and visitors alike. Service is friendly but very much on the ball. You have quite a selection of menus to choose from including  A La Carte, Early Evening Offer, Set Lunch, Set Dinner, Children's Menu.

We were on the A La Carte, with quite a lot of choices. For the mains, I skipped the normal courses and the selection of salads and, for a change, went for a pizza.

From five, I picked the Goats Cheese, charred aubergine, soft egg, pecorino, spinach and truffle oil. Each and every element, even the baby spinach that had been added at the last minute, looked well and tasted well. And it was excellent overall.

CL’s choice was the Lamb tagine, sweet potato, pearl couscous, tzatziki and homemade flat bread. It was another excellent combination and she loved it but the portion was very large indeed.
 One good thing about the cafe is that they have their own Elbow Lane beers and I enjoyed a pint of the Wisdom Lane Pale Ale. No shortage of wine either and plenty of soft drinks too, including home-made lemonades.

We enjoyed two excellent starterss. CL especially loved the broth that came with her mussels, full description: Local Mussels, Rosscarberry Black Pudding, shallot, cider and cream broth.

Mine was the Bresaola, olive and anise tapenade, Gorgonzola and pickled kohlrabi. Delightful mix of textures and flavours, especially the kohlrabi.
Just room for a shared dessert: Mango and passionfruit sorbet with fresh fruits. It was a lovely finalé, not least because of the excellent mix of fruit. So it was two happy diners who took a lingering look at the castle as we strolled down to the nearby public car-park.

Opening times:
Monday: 9:30am—4:00pm
Tuesday: 9:30am—9:00pm
Wednesday: 9:30am—9:00pm
Thursday: 9:30am—9:00pm
Friday: 9:30am—9:30pm
Saturday: 9:30am—9:30pm
Sunday: 9:30am—8:00pm

More info on the Castle Cafe website here.