Showing posts with label Clonakilty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Clonakilty. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Clonakilty in 24 Hours. A July Excursion!


Clonakilty in 24 Hours.
A July Excursion!
Clonakilty Black Pudding and strawberries, delicious starter at the Emmet Hotel

Lunch on the beach at The Fish Basket
Mussels (left) and Fish Tacos on the lunch menu at The Fish Basket. Both polished off.

The sun is out as we arrive at Long Strand after the drive down from Cork city. The idea was to have lunch at the Fish Basket which has established itself in a wooden shack on the edge of the beach. But we are a little too early as lunch service doesn’t start until about 12.45am. So that gives us time to take a walk on the long and pleasant beach, taking in the splendid views of Galley Head.

When we get back, the Fish Basket crew, a friendly and efficient bunch, have turned the kitchen after a busy breakfast service and we check out the lunch menu. We went on to enjoy two delicious fish dishes, well cooked and neatly presented. There are a few dozen seats inside and as many outside. Great spot and Very Highly Recommended.

Scannell's, a Bar with a Back-Garden Buzz
Together again, in Scannell's

After lunch we headed back to a private visit to the industrial unit in Bandon where Philip O’Connor and his staff turn out those delicious Seymours Irish Biscuits. By the time we get back to Clonakilty, we agree that we deserve a drink and so we called to Scannell’s who we know, from previous visits, serve craft beer. 

Hardly anybody in the bar but the extensive beer-garden at the back is buzzing. It is the 4th of July and there are quite a few foreign accents and every French person in the area seems to be here. We get a seat at a bench (under the shade in our case) and enjoy some Blacks of Kinsale 1601 lager and also the Franciscan Well Chieftain Pale Ale.

The Friendly and Central Emmet Hotel


Fish for dinner
Our base for the night was the O’Keeffe family owned Emmet Hotel, situated in the Georgian square that also owes its name to the Irish patriot. Lots of Irish patriots honoured in the lovely flower bedecked West Cork town. There is a statue of Michael Collins in the square and nearby streets are named, Ashe, Wolfe Tone, and there are more. Indeed, you may visit the Michael Collins house right here in the square.

This is a small high-ceilinged hotel with 20 rooms, a lovely dining room, a garden room and a garden for barbecues and other events. Might be small but there’s a lot going on here. 

It was long been known as a supporter of local producers and this continues with the likes of Caherbeg Pork, Fresh Fish Deli, Irish Yogurts, Rosscarbery Recipes, ZT Fish Rosscarbery, Gloun Cross Dairy, Shannonvale Foods, Bushy’s Strawberries, Clonakilty Black-pudding, and Clona Dairy listed.
Pancakes with superb local bacon

We had our dinner and breakfast here, both very enjoyable. The Emmet is well worth checking out, a lovely friendly well-run spot right in the town centre.

After that breakfast, we strolled around the Friday Farmers Market, which now sets up in Emmet Square, before our visit to the nearby Clonakilty Distillery, the newest attraction in this lively town. And we had lunch in the distillery’s Whale’s Tail Bistro before a leisurely journey back to the city.

Also on this trip:
Clonakilty Distillery
Bandon's Seymour Biscuits

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Frédéric Desormeaux and his Fantastic Fish at the Mountain Bar.


Frédéric Desormeaux and his 
Fantastic Fish at the Mountain Bar.

French chef Frédéric Desormeaux, well known from his days in Greene’s, is loving life in West Cork. And producing plates of fantastic food in the kitchen of the Mountain Bar in Ardfield. Fifty covers last Saturday night! One hundred and fifty the Sunday before. And the numbers will go up in the summer when Fred cooks outside with customers accommodated in two marquees.

When we arrive in this seemingly isolated country pub, we are presented with the specials board. We know we are in for a treat and, eventually pick the fish specials, as Fred is noted for his fish dishes. 

At the bottom, there is a Buttermilk marinated Southern Fried Chicken Burger, Dubliner cheese and smoky bacon, Brioche bap, aioli, and Parmesan cheese and wedges. Fred likes this, maybe too much! “Never trust a skinny chef,” he laughs. We stick with the fish. I should mention, just in case that you don’t like fish, that the Mountain is also well known for its steak!

We’d never really heard of this pub until recently. But lots of people have, as you can guess by the numbers turning up. It is about ten minutes from Clonakilty, about fifteen from Rosscarbery. There are beaches nearby, some stunning ones, some  fantastic scenery too, including Galley Head. So lots of visitors around and quite a few have holiday homes in the area. 

And, for just over 12 months now, many of them have been flocking to Patrick and Carol O’Sullivan’s Mountain House. The O’Sullivan’s acquired the premises in 2010. Travel The Distance Taste The Difference, they say. We did, on both counts. Not that the distance is all that much: Ardfield is just about 45 minutes from Cork city.

There is a regular lunch menu here including soups, sandwiches, burgers, fish and chips and so on and also a Sunday Lunch. But we didn’t really go past the specials. There was a dish of Quail breasts, confit duck potato croquettes, Turmeric baby pear, broccoli sprout, yogurt and beetroot dressing, light jus. Also one of Chicken, Prawns, Gubbeen Chorizo Caesar salad, crispy potatoes, garlic brioche croutons and poached egg. Pub grub? I ask myself.

My pick is Seared Tuna on a smoked tuna potato salad, pea purée, roast garlic aioli, squid ink tuile (19.95) . A masterly and vivid rendition of the fruits of sea and the garden, the tuna so fresh and flavoursome, the salad a little masterpiece on its own, all topped off with the delicately wrought squid ink tuile. Very Highly Recommended if you get the chance!

Across the table, there was another hymn of praise being murmured as CL engaged with her Fresh Rigatoni Pasta with Salmon, Prawns, Mussels, Gubbeen chorizo cream, Parmesan and Garlic bread.  A magnificent combination, another harmonious song of the sea with that Gubbeen too playing a key role, even the garlic bread was noteworthy. By the way, everything is fresh here, that beautiful pasta was made that morning.

We had a very friendly and helpful server and also a wee chat with a lady who I presume was one of the owners and both seem to be enthusiastic about the food, know the dishes well, always a good sign.

Another chat then with our chef, about old times and new. And what would we have for dessert? There was a choice of three or four. Fred recommended the Tiramisu (made fresh that morning) and I'd seen the Mango Creme Brûlée flying out to a group at a nearby table. So they were the two that we ordered and that we shared. Needless to say, both were superb.

After that excellent meal, we stepped from the restaurant room into the bar and there was Fred preparing a slightly raised section to accommodate the numbers expected that evening. You may also eat in the bar itself. An older gent was tucking in when we first entered and a threesome were eating at the counter as we said au revoir to Fred. Great to hear him say “I’m very happy here”. And many customers of the Mountain will be glad of that as well.

* By the way, if do get to Ardfield, and you should, check across the road from the bar; there is a plaque to a famous English musician, Noel Redding, who came and enjoyed life here. 

Also on this 24 hour trip:
Celtic Ross dinner
West Cork Farm Tours

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Getting Curried Away in Clonakilty. Richy's Indian Foodesessy


Getting Curried Away in Clonakilty
Richy's Indian Foodesessy 
Food galore from Bangalore
Last week, we were in Bangalore, enjoying the local cuisine, including Sagu and Alulugedda. Not really in Bangalore! But in Richy’s in Clonakilty at Week 3 of an 18-month culinary journey around the states of India, courtesy of  Head Chef Meeran Gani Manzoor.

Meeran, an accomplished chef with very high-level experience, is from the state of Chennai in the south-west and that city, capital of the state of Tamil Nadu, was featured on the opening night of the Curry Club with Beef Madras taking pride of place on the Thali* that also included Carrot Cauliflower Pickle, Lemon Rice and Dosa. On Thursday 26th Feb, the food was from Kerala, India. Malabar Fish Moilee, Coconut rice and other local dishes featured.

Richy told me this tasting tour around India with the Curry Club, takes place every 2nd and 4th Thursday of every month, for the next 18 months or so! “We will travel up the coast, showcasing authentic dishes from each state each time. Including a cooking demonstration and food presented in theatre-style, a real sense of community can be felt. Come and join us for a night like no other!”

Bangalore (also known as Bengaluru) as you may know is the technology capital of India. It is the capital city of Karnataka, the largest state with a population of over 12 million. Last Thursday’s curry was presented on a Thali with a circle of small bowls.

The main feature was perhaps the Korri Gassi, the chicken curry. There was also a Pudhina Chutney (a mint chutney), a very tasty Sagu (a mixed vegetable curry), Alulugedda (spuds!) and a Bisi Beli Bath (a traditional Indian rice lentil dish). So quite a bit of curry but all moderate, used more for flavour than spice. The only “jarring” note came from the Lemon Pickle and then only if you tried it on its own. Mix it in with some of the others and it became part of a delicious harmony of flavours and textures. 

And we even had dessert on the Thali. It was called Kesari, a Millet pudding with cream, cardamom, cloves, pumpkin seeds, cashew nut, and raisins. It’s not very photogenic but is deliciously sweet and not at all cloying. Quite a way to finish off this leg of the curry club trail that is going down very well indeed with Richy's customers.

Next stop on the Curry Club trek comes on March 28th with the spotlight on Andhra Pradesh. No menu available yet but the state is known for Chicken Biryani, spicy Tamarind rice, Fish Curry, with the light and delicious Curd Rice as dessert. No doubt Chef Meeran will come up with another superb selection on the night. Well worth the twenty euro!

Meeran Gani Manzoor, Head Chef at Richy’s Restaurant in Clonakilty since last year, is a graduate in Culinary Arts Management from the University of West London. His broad international experience has been acquired while working around the globe, in countries such as Belgium, UK and USA.

* Thali simply means plate and indeed, there is a friendly Nepalese restaurant, on Pope’s Quay, called Thali.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Harmony On An Indian Plate. Exquisite Food At Richy’s Tasting

Harmony On An Indian Plate. 
Exquisite Food At Richy’s Tasting
Tandoori chicken #2 on menu


Meeran Gani Mazoor, head chef at Richy’s showed his native cuisine to perfection at the Clonakilty venue on Wednesday evening as part of A Taste of West Cork. Oh yes, there was spice but such was the harmony created in each dish by the chef that nothing jarred as we enjoyed six amazing courses.

1 - South Indian lentil soup (sambhar). That harmony was evident from the start with this lovely soup. Indeed, we had had already begun with a delicious Prosecco with rose and pomegranate.

2 - Tandoori chicken, Bombay aloo, tandoori broccoli. Tandoori chicken like never before and that crisp broccoli was outstanding also. Aloo by the way means potato!

3 - Mali Kofta, puffed quinoa. Looks like meatballs on the plate but this, like the soup, was vegetarian, a vert tasty cream sauce based ricotta dumpling, the cheese a standout flavour in the mix.

4 - Scallops, sesame seeds, cumin and cashew crumble, pickled red onion, pea tikki, peanut ginger sauce. The harmony that Meeran mentioned afterwards is easily illustrated here. Take a piece of that pickled onion on its own and it is quite powerful. Take it with the rest and it blends in in a delicious almost gentle amalgam of flavours and textures. That pea tikki (patty) was another feature.

5 Mughal seekh kebab with pistachio, saffron butternut squash purée, spiced vermicelli, pomegranate raita. This was probably the piece de resistance. The meat (a marinated mince roulade) was perfect, not what you’d get in your takeaways, and the raita was a perfect accompaniment.

6 Gajar halwa, almond and cashew nut cake, vanilla ice cream, praline. Okay guys, I didn't know that I was getting carrot cake (Gajar Halwa) but I was glad that I did. Indeed, this was something of a tour de force of a dessert as both the Carrot and the superb Nut Cake would have been fine on its own or with the ice-cream. But we scored on the double here!

The restaurant had quite a selection of drinks available, as it always does, but we decided to go with wine. We didn’t spot any Riesling or Grüner Veltliner and picked the Birchmore Chardonnay from South East Australia and it turned out to be quite a delicious wine and, just as importantly, more or less a perfect match!

Meeran Gani Manzoor, newly appointed Head Chef at Richy’s Restaurant in Clonakilty is a graduate in Culinary Arts Management from the University of West London. His broad international experience has been acquired while working around the globe, in countries such as Belgium, UK and USA.

Daphny Hilven: Before working in L’Aperi Vino, Goei Goesting and Buon Eatalia in Hasselt, Belgium as Chef de Cuisine, Daphny worked at Bistro Binnenhof, which has a Michelin bib and La Source, which has 2 Michelin stars. This is her menu for the Belgian Tasting Menu, tonight, Friday in Richys (7.00). Call (023) 882 1852.

Soup Parmentier
Clonakilty Black Pudding & Truffle croquet, mustard sauace
Fish & Strofrietjes, Tartare Sauce
Organic Chicken Breast, mushrooms, pine nut purée, crisoy skin, dauphin potato.
Irish Hereford Beef medalion, béarnaise sauce, mash potato, gratin chicory wih ham.
Moelleux aux chocolate with Irish Whiskey salted caamel sauce, vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Richy’s Restaurant. Sixteen Years In Clon - Getting Better All The Time.


Richy’s Restaurant. 
Sixteen Years In Clon - Getting Better All The Time.
Warm chicken salad

Richy’s Restaurant is celebrating sixteen years in Clonakilty and is better than ever. Richy is an outstanding chef and the whole enterprise, the original restaurant and the newer R Cafe, is amazing. Here you can eat well all day long, every day of the week, and virtually everything on the menu is based on local produce. 

Here too you can learn about food. Richy is passionate about local produce, about sustainability, a campaigner against obesity and his food and classes reflect these concerns. A four evening course on Healthy Eating (with chef Matt Williamson) starts on April 24th details here
Renowned West Cork smoker Sally Barnes
is one of Richy's suppliers

But back to our lunch, the purpose of our recent visit. We had a good look at the menu, one page of which is given over to a list of local producers, some of them just a few yards away from the Wolfe Tone premises but virtually all of them from the general West Cork area, including familiar names such as Toonsbridge, Shannonvale, Clonakilty Black Pudding, Sally Barnes Smokery, Gubbeen and Milleens.

Quite a choice on the menu, including lots of pizzas from their own oven. Salads too, fishcakes, lasagna, a beef burger and a vegetarian burger and more. And then check the board for the specials. Here we saw a Monkfish and Bean Stew, Union Hall salmon with mash and veg, Seafood chilli pasta with the option of adding scallops, and a Pork Burger with apple purée and chips. 

And one (I had this on a previous visit) that you must consider is the Mauritian Beef Curry! A range of dishes and a range of prices too and family friendly as well with a special kids menu.
Frittata

My pick was the Warm Salad of Grilled Chicken with Gubbeen bacon and avocado, cherry tomatoes and baby leaves (11.95). Full of textures and flavours and those leaves were so fresh and well-dressed, a delightful lunch for a coolish spring day but one that could be just as satisfying in summer and winter.

CL meanwhile was making pleasurable progress with her Cauliflower, garlic, potato and red onion frittata, also with local leaves (8.95 small, 11.50 large). “Faultless,” she reported. “Salad was lovely too, the cauliflower a delicious ingredient, and the few halved olives gave a tarty bite as well.” So there you are, two happy customers and we went on to share a pot of tea after that.

After settling the bill in this bright and airy room we asked to say hello to the man himself in the adjoining white-walled restaurant. As our chat progressed, he told us how things have changed in the evening menu here, with a page now devoted to tapas (small plates, ranging in  price from 4.95 to 15.00). 
Local supplier

You may still have plenty of meat (48 hour Jacob’s Ladder, Slaney Valley Rack of Lamb, Carrigfadda Farm Shoulder of Pork, and Dexter Burger). Seafood too features in the list of mains, including a Roast fillet of Monkfish, a West Cork Fish Bake, Seared Beara Scallops, and a mega seafood plate with Lobster, prawn, crab and scallops. Indeed, reading the menu details, you realise you are in a really top notch restaurant.

So back to the Tapas, divided into meat and fish ones and also an equally long Veggie section. How about Panko Soft Shell Crabs with spiced tomato relish? Anyone for Clonakilty Black Pudding samosas with vegetable achard. Maybe Fillet of Beef medallions with rosemary potatoes? On the Veggie List, you’ll want those Spiced Lentils with spinach and Macroom halloumi. Would you prefer the Tipperary goats cheese balls, with cranberry relish and leaves? Reckon you've got the picture by now. Better to call down though and check out the real thing for yourself.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

A Hundred of the Best from Le Caveau. Starting with Franciacorta and a Clonakilty Girl


A Hundred of the Best from Le Caveau
Starting with a Franciacorta and a Clonakilty Girl
Meeting Rhona at St Peter's last week

“We are a small vineyard, ten hectares in total, eight planted with Chardonnay, two with Pinot Noir,” said Rhona Cullinane of the 1701 vineyard in the Franciacorta region of Italy when I met her at the Le Caveau portfolio tasting in Cork’s old St Peter's Church last Thursday. So I hear you asking: Rhona Cullinane, from an Italian vineyard? Well, Rhona is from Clonakilty and went to Sienna to finish off third level education and fell in love with the country and now divides her time between the 1701 vineyard and London with plenty of opportunities to get back to Clon.

1701 is an unusual name for a winery . It comes from the year of the first vinification there by the Conti Bettoni Cazzago family; that was in the “brolo”, a four hectare vineyard framed by X1 century walls. In 2012, brother and sister Federico and Silvia Stefini took over the estate and the winery and named it 1701 in honour of that long-ago first vintage. Rhona works with the Stefinis and they were the first in the Franciacorta region to be awarded the coveted biodynamic Demeter certification in July 2016.

There are about 100 to 120 producers in the area and they are now “slowly focusing” on external markets, Rhona told me last week. “there is a regional ambition to move to organic and biodynamic”. 

Rhona was showing the 1701 Franciacorta Brut DOCG. It is a blend of Chardonnay (85%) and Pinot Noir (15%).  The summer heat of the vineyard is tempered by the breeze from the lake (Iseo) and the mountains to the north. “We choose to keep it on the lees for 30 months, well above the appellation minimum. It is made in the traditional manner, manually harvested, with the indigenous yeasts, and a secondary fermentation in the bottle but with zero dosage.
Ballymaloe sommelier Samuel (left) and Damiem of Clos de Caveau

St Peter's
It is a gorgeous sparkling wine, the palate full and generous, clean, fresh and elegant, apple notes, citrus too and that typical brioche note, beautifully balanced and a dry finish. Expect to pay in the mid 30s, considerably less than what you'd pay for the bigger names of the region; lovely wine, great value.

Jules, who is spending a few month in L’Atitude (Cork) improving his English, was keen to show me some of the wines he was familiar with from his home in the south west of France, beginning with the family’s impressive Chateau de Cedre héritage. “This is 95% Malbec, 5% Merlot,” he said. “Four of the five parcels are organic but the next vintage will be fully organic. It is started in cement tanks, matured in barrels.” 

It is medium to full bodied, gorgeous black fruits on the silky palate with a clean finish. Colour is a light ruby, it is easy-going, no shortage of drinkability. Another quality wine at a very good price (15.40).

The small Mirouze vineyard in Corbieres produces some excellent wines, including that Ciel du Sud that Jules showed. It is a lovely lively blend, 50% Grenache, 50% Carignan. It is raised in cement tanks and no sulphur is added. 
Margaret of Le Caveau and, right, Dave of Café Paradiso

The little vineyard is surrounded by garrigue. That means the vines are well away from the sprays of neighbours. On the other hand, wild boar enjoy the cover of the scrub and so the Mirouze family have to use an electric fence to deter them.
My cuvée!!

Domaine No Control is into wine (of course) and music. One of their Gamay is called Fusion, the other Rockaille Billy. I had spotted the Billy on the list early on and wasn't leaving until I had a taste of it. The domaine consists of just five hectares and Jules agreed that this was that bit different to Beaujolais Gamay. “Lovely, great drinkability”. Must get a few bottles of that for the table when I have guests!

from Oregon
The next chat I had was with Damiem and he was showing the Clos de Caveau Vacqueyras AC Carmin Brilliant. Vacqueyras village, under the shade of its large trees, stays cool when the vineyards all around are warm. 

And this is one cool wine, coming from a height of 200m, higher than most of its neighbours, and bearing the distinctive diagonal wraparound label designed by Karl Lagerfeld. It is a superb blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah, natural yeast is used and nothing is added. Good structure and bite, lovely ripe tannins, excellent acidity and freshness.
Sustenance via L'Atitude 51

Superb
Then it was on to the Alsace table where there was a strong showing from Meyer-Fonné. Always find the Gentil wines from the Alsace very drinkable and the MF 2016 was typical. Later, I would come across a similar effort from Oregon’s Ovum Wines called Big Salt! 

The Meyer-Fonné Gewürztraminer 2015 Réserve was aromatic and rich. Hints of sweetness too in the Pinot Blanc but this was dry with  a minerally finish. Also excellent - it suited my palate well - was the 2015 Riesling while the 2013 Grand Cru didn't quite do it for me, almost always find it hard to tune out that whiff of petrol. 
Mayer-Fonné well represented on Le Caveau list

The 2016 Pinot Gris was much more to my liking and the winery points to this one as “the archetypical Pinot Gris for the table”. Will put that on my list. Indeed, I think I may just make a list of all the Meyer-Fonné wines and see how I get on.

I had been pointed towards the Kumpf et Meyer 2016 Riesling by Ballymaloe sommelier Samuel. And with good reason. From its fresh, fragrant and full nose through its complex palate to the long and savoury finish, this is worth a second longer look and so another that will make my ever lengthening shopping list!






Monday, July 17, 2017

Pizza and Wine on a West Cork Beach. The Puffin Cafe at Castlefreke.

Pizza and Wine on a West Cork Beach

The Puffin Cafe at Castlefreke.
There is still plenty of room in the car park but many choose to park on the road. It is a typically Irish scene as you arrive at a beach-side car park on a sunny day. But what is not typical is the beach café, the only building on the Long Strand, Castlefreke. It is black, as black as a puffin’s back, and is named, The Puffin Café.

Most of the action, well if you call sitting and lying action, on this sunny day is on the outside. A few brave souls, kids mainly, are testing the water. But there’s not a surfer in sight. Soon, the kids will be trooping up to the café, making the hard choice at the ice-cream counter, something like 14 varieties to choose from!

Already family groups are eating at the big picnic style tables outside. Pizzas, and ice-creams and drinks, are in big demand. But the inside seats, and there are quite a few of them, are not! I'm happy with that. I've been out in the sun all morning and now glad of some shade.

A lovely warm welcome and we are soon seated, checking out the menu which doubles as a place-mat. We note the names immediately, smiling as we go through them: Bowie, Salsoul, Rick Rubin, Chuck D, Jazzy Jay, Larry Levan and more are used for the pizzas.

My pick is the Furious Five (€15.50), a welcome melange of San Marzano tomatoes, prosciutto, peaches, mozzarella, blue cheese and rocket. Quite an excellent pizza with the peaches working surprisingly well with all the rest. There were some nine pizzas on the list ranging from a Margherita (10.50) to a Fish offering, the Larry Levan featuring Smoked Mackerel and beetroot at €16.50.

CL has picked something that little bit smaller, the Salsoul Sandwich (8.50). This tasty starter consists of Marsala Roasted chorizo, roasted peppers, onions and leaves and is served in a sourdough flat bread. See the full menu here.

We drank lots of water as we ate but they do have wine here. From France comes Le Petit Pont Reserve in both red and white, at €6.50 a glass. From Italy, you can have the Costadoro organic white and red at €7.50 a glass or €28.00 a bottle. €28.00 also for a bottle of Prosecco. If you want something more expensive, then ask them about their small range “of quality and eclectic wines” that are off menu. Other drinks available are sparkling water, ginger beer, and pip organic.

The name game continues with the desserts: Boney Mmm; B-Boying; Minnelli: and Freke Out! The latter, by the way, is the Puffin’s special Ice Cream Sundae. And, of course, you can also check out the ice-creams! 

No shortage of coffee choices (I thought my espresso was top notch) and you may have tea, ordinaire or herbal. Oh yes, almost forgot, there is music too at the café, outdoors on this occasion. All that, and sunshine, means a fun stop at the beach.

The Puffin Cafe’s summer (June, July, August & September) hours are: MONDAY + THURSDAY + FRIDAY: 12pm-4pm. SATURDAY: 10am-10pm. SUNDAY: 11am-8pm.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Richy Virahsawmy. Clon’s Renaissance Man

Richy Virahsawmy
Clon’s Renaissance Man
Richy Virahsawmy is something of a renaissance man. He is a restaurant owner, a cook, a teacher, a consultant, an active contributor to the local community in Clonakilty, a TV chef, an author, and a farmer. He has cooked for you and me, for celebrities (Michael Flatley), in big houses (Castle Hyde, Castlefreke), for large crowds (World Web Summit and at the National Ploughing Championship), for Prime Ministers and their guests (in Downing Street and in his native Mauritius).

I won’t go into all the details in this post but you may read all about his background here. The Irish leg of his career began when he joined the staff of Inchydoney Lodge and his dream of opening his own restaurant became reality in 2002 when Richy’s was established in Clonakilty.

And, ten years later, worried that a restaurant that only opened a few days week might not be enough on its own, he reinforced his position in the town with the opening of the adjoining cafe, turning the operation into a multi-functional one. Now he had two types of dining room in the one premises.

Superb chowder, with Murphy's & Walnut Brown Bread
 Now too he could really get to grips with expanding his teaching. Autumn/Winter Courses include fish cookery, Canapes and Small Bites, Slow Cookin, Sushi Making, Cooking for Friends are among those available. These are all interactive classes: you cook and, at the end of the evening, sit down with your fellow students and eat!


And Richy loves teaching children to cook and every week he has classes for a small group (eight to twelve) of kids with autism. Indeed, in an attempt to meet the threat of obesity, he plans to increase his work with schoolchildren and has earmarked an old house on his farm for that purpose, and more. Watch this space.

He, his Finnish wife Johanna, and their three children, live on the farm in nearby Rosscarbery in a cleverly converted barn! The farm is worked and they have established a market garden there with herbs, and greens, tomatoes and so on, grown for the restaurant. Richy finds it hard to understand why so many Irish farmers stopped doing this for themselves. Another bonus is that most of the restaurant waste is composted here.


Back at the restaurant, it is all go. But not with the staff. He has a good team, twenty four strong, his chefs “stay longer”. The place, the flow of work, is tidy, highly organized, everything in its place.

“Ninety per cent is made in-house. You can't go much higher than that.” And the menus rarely stand still, always a few on the specials boards, He had taken an “office day”, on the day of our visit, to work on the Spring-Summer menus for 2016. A few years back, he introduced a pizza menu and that is going strongly.

When Richy started up in 2002, he knew he wouldn't have to go far for good produce. It is all around here in Clonakilty, in the fields of the local farms, and in the nearby seas. And he makes great use of it as we found out, again, last week.
There were at least five specials on the board and I started with one of them: the West Cork Seafood Chowder, packed with little chunks of fish and a few mussels in their shells, a terrific chowder and a great starter on a cool enough day. Meanwhile, CL was warming up with the Buttersquash and Sweetcorn Soup.

Again, I found my mains on the Specials list: Tuna Nicoise Salad, boiled egg, anchovies and green beans. A superb combination of flavours (the meaty tuna and the salty anchovies), colours and textures (crunchy beans, soft eggs). And the salad, from the farm, was simply outstanding.

That well dressed salad also made an appearance in CL’s dish: Chicken, avocado and pomegranate salad, Gubbeen bacon, balsamic and extra virgin olive oil. Again, this was one to savour, take your time with, a pleasure to eat.

We would have loved a dessert and were tempted but settled for a cup of coffee, a chat with the man himself and a tour of the kitchen.
The R Cafe (left) & the restaurant

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Taste of the Week. So Milky Milk Chocolate

Taste of the Week

So Milky Milk Chocolate
One of the bonuses of visiting Clonakilty recently for A Taste of West Cork was the chance to meet chocolatier Allison Roberts at the tasting event in Spiller’s Lane. She was one of the local producers showing their wares and I stocked up on her chocolate bars, including the So Milky Milk bar, our Taste of the Week.

This has no “artificial anything” and is “Gluten free”. Aside from Cocoa, the other main ingredient is Coconut Blossom Syrup. And the milk is not from the cow but from the goat!

Clonakilty Chocolate is a Fairtrade operation, the beans coming to Clon from the farmers of Kokoo (Ghana). Even the wrapper is bio-degradeable. Eating it, the chocolate that is, will make you feel good in more ways than one!

Other bars include: Chai Chilli, 100% Cocoa, Decadent Dark, Wild West Salty, and Seriously Minted. The Salty and the Minted are also among my favourites but do sample and take your pick from a great choice.