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Fancied some good fish last Friday so we headed off to Ballycotton’s marvellously situated Bayview Hotel, a hotel where head chef Ciaran Scully has an unrivalled reputation when its comes to fish. But, as we turned right at Shanagarry, we could see the fog straight ahead and it stayed with us, not quite blocking out the view of the pier as we parked but certainly most of the bay was out of sight.
But the mood and the weather improved as we tucked into our excellent lunch and, before the dessert, we were able to see right across the large bay to the Garryvoe Hotel, a “sister” of the Bayview. It turned out to be a lovely afternoon. Would have been a good one to take the cliff walk but, well, we were pretty full at that point so a stroll down to the shore was a much as we managed.
There’s an amazing menu here, packed with a huge choice of good things, not all from the sea. We were thinking of trying Roscoff Onion & Rebel Red Broth topped with Sourdough Croutes & Melted Hegarty’s Cheddar, just one of the soups on offer.A Salad of Macroom Mozzarella, Leamlara Farm Leaves, Heritage Tomatoes, Basil Pesto, Balsamic, Sourdough also caught the eye.
Grilled Inch House Black pudding with Beetroot Ketchup, Young Buck Blue Cheese, Onion Mousse featured prominently in our short-list of starters. But our pick - we shared it - was the Pig’s Head Brawn Terrine, Plum and Pedro Jiménez Puree, Bayview Piccalilli. This was perfect, the tasty meat flavours improved no end by that purée and even more so by the selection of pickled vegetables. These guys know how to pimp your terrine!
There were Steak, Duck leg, Lambs Liver on the mains. But fish of course is the specialty here and the Fish Board of Smoked Mackerel Pate, Dublin Bay Prawns, Little Darling Pickled Herrings, Ballycotton Smoked Salmon Salad & Sourdough Baguette beckoned but will have to wait for another visit!
They always have a selection of simply pan-fried fish here, served with side salad and chunky chips (really chunky!), usually priced around the €22.00 euro mark. We know the plaice around here is always top class so that was CL’s pick while I went for the Red Mullet.
The plaice was perfection itself, no batter to take from its delicious flavour. And I can honestly say the same about the more “meaty” mullet, a fish you don’t see that often on local menus. Hopefully that will change as it really is a beauty.
The choices continue at the end. There’s an Irish Farmhouse Cheese selection, Ice-cream variations, plus Sorbets. The Bayview uses lots of Irish produce and Tipperary Farm Boulaban is their ice-cream supplier. And we finished off with the Bayview Affogato: Boulaban Vanilla Ice Cream drowned In Freshly Made Double Espresso Black Barrel Syrup. Nice!
The four-star Bayview has a cliff-top nest in Ballycotton, overlooking both the pier and bay, a great place to dine and stay.
Stephen Belton, GM of the Garryvoe Hotel, welcomed the guests to host venue the Bayview (where he is also GM), for the first big event of Feast 2018. Speaking of Bayview Chef Ciaran Scully, Stephen said he’s never met anyone with “such a passion for food”. And a mischievous sense of humour too as you can see by the second dish being called My Ding A Ling. “Enjoy the flavours and the fun,” Stephen concluded.
Kevin Ahern of Sage was introduced as the driving force behind Feast but he quickly countered that he wasn't the only person pushing the expanded and expanding festival. “We are proud of Midleton’s past festivals but now we want to drive it forward. We see East Cork as a food destination, both nationally and internationally. We want to create revenue in the area, not in just one town. We are very happy with it so far, so many nights booked out already.”
Ciaran's Ding A Ling
The wines for the evening were provided by James Nicholson Wine and their man on the
spot was Richard Reeve. “The wines chosen are a little left field, not the obvious ones (not even a Sauvignon Blanc!)”.The pairings were excellent and we got more info on the individual bottles as the evening went on.
The first offering from the kitchen was a rather spectacular Seafood Cocktail (Ballycotton Brown Shrimp, smoked eel, herring, trout caviar, confit of tomato, pickled apple, Bloody Mary Jelly, Samphire, Sea purslane, Fried sea lettuce). Lots of flavours and textures there. And the wine chosen, was the Bodegas Coloma Pinot Noir Rosé from Extremadura in Spain. This early release wine has quite a bit of heft compared to the normal rosé and was certainly a winner with the mix in cocktail. A terrific opening all round.
The high standard would be maintained. Next up was My Ding A Ling (torched Ling with Salt Baked Celeriac, Little gem, Hazelnut & Gubbeen Pesto, Smoked Skeaghanore Duck-breast). A superb combination with that celeriac playing a key role. And the wine here, the vibrant South African Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap white, was terrific and again a great match, with its fantastic aromas and flavours.
Holy Mackerel was the title of Ciaran’s next offering. Basically it was all about the humble fish, the flavour packed pan-fried fillet enhanced by a Roast Miso Aubergine, Pickled mushrooms, peanut powder, Nasturtium, rice crackers. A good fresh wine to cut the oily fish was required here and Richard had just the job in the Umani Ronchi Vellodoro Terre di Chieti Pecorino. An intense aromatic wine with clear mineral notes, fresh with ripe fruits, it matched the mackerel well.
Fish and Chips
Now it was time for the Fish & Chips. The Bayview’s version: Deep fried monkfish, octopus, pea, lemon and potato purée, fried capers, oyster mayonnaise, Jerusalem artichoke chips. Another amazing effort from the kitchen. Richard didn’t have a Sauvignon Blanc but he did have a Chardonnay. The Domaine Bellevue from the Touraine, Loire Valley, was unoaked with excellent depth of fruit and that with its northern freshness gave the wine a lovely mouthfeel, another excellent match.
Time now for the sweet finalé. The Chocolate Trinket Box contained Jameson and Burnt Orange Chocolate Mousse with a Beamish Stout Ice Cream, rich and delicious. The dessert wine came from the Quady Winery in California, the Essensia Orange Muscat 2014.
A superb night of fish and wine again at the Bayview. Great how Ciaran chooses these events to highlight the super qualities of fish that we don't always rate in Ireland, such as the Ling and the Mackerel in this case.
Still lots to do in Feast. Check the remaining events here.
For me, the humble mackerel was probably the highlight of Chef Ciaran Scully’s Seafood Evening at the spectacularly situated Bayview Hotel last Friday. But there were starring roles too in Ballycotton for less familiar fish, such as Megrim and Witch.
Witch? This is a flounder, known in the UK as Torbay sole. It is caught in abundance around our coasts and about 95% is exported! Megrim, also common, has the sole flavour and a slightly softer texture. The other fish that featured in the six course menu (including a fishless dessert) were Dublin Bay Prawns and Octopus.
The prawns were first up. They were grilled, scented with Rosemary from the garden, shell oil and Atlantic sea-salt, and served with carrot, cappuccino of Bisque, and Leamlara Celery cress.
Then came the Seared filet of Mackerel with cucumber, pickled Mushroom, Wasabi cream, dried sea grass, Purslane and sea spinach. Chef Scully says the mackerel haven't arrived in force yet this season but he had some good plump ones here and created a terrific dish.
Time now for the Megrim soup. First came the garnish (Coolea cheese croute, saffron rouille, fennel and tomato) and then the soup was poured, a perfect match. Second time in a week that the soup came midway through a meal. No problem on either occasion!
And it was also the second time in a week that I had octopus. This was landed in Duncannon (Wexford) but, like all the other fish, was caught by a Ballycotton boat. The Char-grilled Octopus was glazed with apple syrup and served with sweetcorn purée, chorizo lime and oil, a delightful combination of flavours and textures.
Now it was the turn of the Witch fillet, with lemon and potato purée, brown shrimp, parsley, capers, nut brown butter, samphire. Quite a finalé to the fish dishes.
Dessert was Caramelised pineapple, coconut parfait and Mount Gay rum with mango jelly, pineapple sorbet, fizzy citrus syrup, Speculoos biscuit, pina colada foam. Delicious with plenty of fruit flavours to match with the Brumes de la Tour Blanche Sauternes, an intense wine with concentrated fruit, yet with a refreshing acidity.
The wines for the evening came from Eno Wine and their Commercial Director Donie O’Brien was on hand to give a brief rundown on each wine, starting with the amazing Pares Balta organic Cava.The family keep bee hives (to assist in pollination) and sheep flocks (to fertilise the vineyards in autumn). When presented with a Cava like this, it is hard to believe that it is still one of the lesser known sparkling wines in Ireland.
That is not the case though with Albarino, which has been gaining in popularity for “past 25 years” according to Donie. And he had a delicious example, the Etra Albarino, aromatic, full of fruit and again that acidity that means its goes well with food, especially food from the sea!
It is often compared to Sauvignon blanc and we soon had the chance to compare as the next wine was Domaine L’Aumonier, an organic wine from the Loire produced by Sophie and Thierry Chardon. A fruity and pleasant wine to taste on all occasions. It is aromatic, well balanced between freshness and intensity and the perfect match for the Octopus and its sauce.
Donie reckons that the Godello grape is becoming ever more popular in Ireland and may well follow Albarino on the way to even greater acceptance here. Certainly the one he had is a gem, a great match with the Witch dish. This was the Celdina from Galicia. Donie says it has the richness and weight of Chardonnay but with a bit more crispness. Beautiful aromas too and, while good with fish, has the wherewithal to “accompany chicken, turkey and pork dishes even when served with a sauce”.
After that it was the turn of the dessert and the Sauternes to bring the very pleasant event to a close.
The fish was finished for the night but I started the next day with more fish. I was staying in the lovely Garryvoe Hotel, a sister of the Bayview across the bay, and was delighted to see plaice on the breakfast menu. Ballycotton Bay is noted for its plaice and this reinforced that opinion. No wine though!
The next special food evening in the Bayview’s Capricho restaurant, “Ingenuity and the Bounty”, again seafood themed, is scheduled for Monday September 4th and is also part of FEAST. More info here.
Bookings: 021 4646 746.
Maria Coleman and Chef Ciaran Scully have been filling me in on future themed evenings. Our Portuguese Night – Isaac's Soiree (this date has moved from the 15thof September to the 6thof October) - will consist of a Portuguese tasting menu to include paired Portuguese wines. Keeping it simple there will be no choice! We will also have music on the night."
"Following that on the 20th October we will be having the Bayview Swing- this will be held on the 20th of October 2017. Itwill be a themed 1920’s event to ease into the Jazz weekend in Cork. A Black tie event/1920’s theme, Full four course dinner, Prosecco and oysters arrival reception, Live music."
"All event are €65 per person and we are doing a special over night to include the above at €110 per person sharing."