Showing posts with label Colm McCan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Colm McCan. Show all posts

Monday, August 29, 2022

Friday is wine night at Grainstore and Ballymaloe House

Wine Events at Ballymaloe

Friday 2nd and 9th of September
Thomas (left) and Colm

There's a@feastcork wine event Friday 2nd September 6.30pm in the Grainstore at Ballymaloe. Colm McCan is enthusiastic: "I'm
looking forward to Thomas Walk @thomaswalkvineyard #irishvineyard #irishwine joining me for the wine talk and tasting @feastcork event in @ballymaloe_grainstore - Thomas will talk about his Co.Cork vineyard and taste his wine." #irishwine @ballymaloe_grainstore with Ted Berner @wildsidecatering #feastcork #eastcork #wildsidecatering



Hosted by Niels and Penny Verburg of Luddite Wines.

Friday 9th September at 7pm in the Long Room at Ballymaloe House

€155 per person

Book via 021 465 2531

Limited availability, so please book early via 021 465 2531

An entertaining and delicious South African wine event with the wonderful Niels and Penny Verburg of Luddite Wines, Bot River, Western Cape, South Africa.  Guaranteed to be a delicious and interesting evening with these entertaining duo returning to Ballymaloe House for the first time since 2012.  We are looking forward to welcoming them back.

More info here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

East Cork Food Now. A One Day Snapshot

East Cork Food Now. A One Day Snapshot

With the 5km limit banished, we headed east on a little ramble that took us through Midleton to Killeagh and then back to the coast around Ballycotton. The weather was sunny and quite warm, all in our favour, as we had a quick, though far from exhaustive, look at what was going on food-wise in the area.

First stop was the relatively new Grumpy Bakers in Midleton. There was a little queue (partly for coffee) outside. Inside our first choice sourdough has been sold out (at about 10.00am). But they did have what turned out to be an excellent wholemeal sourdough and a delicious rhubarb and custard Danish.

Superb local cheddar available at Joe's Farm

Next stop was in the lovely countryside north of Killeagh where Joe’s Farm operates. You’ll know Joe and Sandra through Joe’s Farm Crisps (which have a wide distribution). But did you know, that once the pandemic struck, they turned part of the yard into a farmers market. Of course they have lots of their own vegetables and potatoes for sale but much more besides, including produce from Waterford (Tom Baldwin’s ice-cream) and Achill Island (Sea Salt and Sea Salted Fudge) and Laois (The Merry Mill). No shortage of more local produce either including home baking and the most delicious Raspberry Jam (produced by the adults and children of the Cooking Club in Youghal). In no time at all, we had our bags full and ready for road. Oh, by the way, they don’t do credit cards so be sure and bring cash (including perhaps a few small denomination notes).

The sun was well and truly in charge as we pulled into the car park opposite the Sea Church Restaurant and Concert venue. By the way, the newly installed Sea Church van opens for business on Wednesday April 28th. It will be open 7 days a week 10AM - 4PM for all your coffee and cake needs.

We strolled in toward the village proper where CUSH restaurant is offering an At Home service. We didn't get that far though. Spotted an ice-cream cone outside the Trawl Door and, in a separate room called Coney Island, got a couple of delicious cooling beauties, Strawberry along with a Rum & Raisin both made by Glenown Farm of Fermoy. We could also have had a lot more including an East Cork Mess or a Ballycotton Banoffee! Had a quick look at the Trawl Door itself which was busy. Lots of good stuff here, including a selection of wine and a very tempting deli counter. Must call there again when it’s less busy and when I don’t have an ice-cream in my hand.

Strawberry ice!

The Blackbird and The Schooner Bar here are not able to open of course under the current regulations but each offers takeaway at weekends. The popular Skinny's Diner also has weekend hours posted up on the window but you may need to check in advance.

Back then to pick up the car and our next destination was the beach at Ardnahinch. Here, the car park was close to full. On the beach itself as we walked along, we could see about 15 colourful "kites” in the sky at the next beach up, Ballinamona, quite a spectacle provided by the kite surfers as they enjoyed the brisk wind!

But we weren't there to see them! We were looking for the Trawler Boyz from Ballycotton who set up shop every weekend in the Ardnahinch Car Park. But we were too early as they weren’t due to start for another hour or two. There are some good reviews coming from that three person operation and they later reported selling some 500 meals during their few hours there. Check their Facebook page for opening times. Hours currently shown are: Fri & Sat 4.30-8.30; Sun 1.000-7.00. Tel: 086 4073057.

After Ardnahinch, we headed to a very important date, to collect our “At Home” dinner from Ballymaloe House. These meals come in all types of boxes and bags but none presented as classily as this one, it even had a bunch of tulips attached! We got a great welcome and a lovely chat as well. And the meal, featuring the first of their asparagus, East Cork Beef Cheek, a gorgeous panna cotta plus a super Irish cheese plate, was also high class. Details and next menu here.  

Ballymaloe Pop Up Wine Shop. Saturday afternoons only.

As we arrived, Colm McCan was opening up a Pop-up wine shop at the front of the Grainstore. He had a well-judged selection of organic and natural wines, also the Ballymaloe Gin. And also there was their very own cider, made with apples grown on the farm, including Dabinett, Crimson Bromley, Santana, Topas, Delles Bell and Dellinquo. You can get it only in Ballymaloe or though the At Home menu. Delicious and refreshing as we found out when we got home and relaxed in the garden before getting that marvellous dinner onto the table later on. Quite a day in the east.

PS: A day or two later, we were in Knockadoon. You’ll find the Lobster Pot food truck in place at the pier here, again opening at the weekends.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

Being Alive on The Night of Ideas. Raw, Naked and Living.

Being Alive on The Night of Ideas. 
Raw, Naked and Living. 
The panel (l to r): Nicolas, Pascal, Oliver, Anna and Colm

Here we are in Cork city centre, in the vaults of a 19th century wine warehouse, watching a French film about a bunch of “neo” winemakers at the foot of the eastern Pyrenees, close to the Spanish border. The showing is part of the ongoing worldwide initiative, Night of Ideas, spearheaded by Institut Français, that celebrates the constant stream of ideas between countries, cultures and generations, and the current theme is ‘Being Alive’.

The documentary is titled Wine Calling, though the Google translation, Wine Rising, of the French Le vin se lève, may be quite accurate as the 90 minutes are a lively celebration of the rise of the organic, biodynamic and natural wine movement. In a preview of the night, here,  I quoted wine importer Mary Pawle who was at last week’s Millesime Bio ( the annual organic wine showcase) in Montpelier. She first attended 20 years ago when there were just 40 stands; this year, there were close to 1,400, another indicator of the rise.

Director Bruno Sauvard followed this revolution in the South of France for over a year, from the harvest to the bottling, revealing a rising global movement for taste and sustainability. During a post-screening discussion in the Cellar Theatre, the film’s producer Nicolas Manuel, when asked about the terms used to describe these wines as a group, said he was somewhat jealous of the English terms RAW and Naked. The term “Living” was used in the film and I rather like that myself.
Steep in Banyuls. Not a place for lazy winemakers! 

Nicolas said he had “a good feeling” about the possibility of a film emerging at the initial meeting with the group in January 2016 but it did take the best part of a year to earn their trust. He reported that no money was made on this film but “it is something you want to share”. A bit like the wines then!

And it’s no joke being out here in the weather. Even though some people joke (a few turn it into a jibe) that natural winemakers are lazy. Early shots in the film, showing workers struggling on the steep slopes of a vineyard near Banyuls, quickly dispelled that notion. Here you have to be on top of it all the time, well for nine months anyhow, in the vineyard and later in the winery. “It’s like giving birth,” one  said.

Besides, you are living on the edge. No matter how good a winemaker you are. “Mastery isn’t a word we use around here…We adapt and improve each year… It’s a trial and error process.” They acknowledge that nature is the boss. And then there’s human error, illustrated when one of the group (they each have their own vineyard, by the way) poured the wrong grape juice into a blend. No way could he reverse that error. He’ll just have to wait and see how it turns out.
Ready to roll at the cellar

And, in the face of nature, for instance the constant battle between yeasts and bacteria, Jean-Francois Nicq, summed it up: “Doubt is crucial. Certainty a disaster.” Doubt keeps you on your toes!

Joe McNamee was the moderator of the discussion and he asked Dr Oliver Moore (UCC Centre for Cooperative Studies and ACR2020) for a general view on the environment now. Oliver admitted he was not “super-optimistic” but was encouraged by some positives including “the teenage revolution”. “A lot of hope but barriers are huge”.

He also said the reaction to the EU’s ACR2020, for smaller farmers and running “parallel to CAP, is interesting. “It’s a push for something different”. “The current system is wasteful, especially the fertiliser element”. Monoculture in wine “is not a positive - we need more biodiversity”. We had seen horses working in the vineyards in the film and Oliver remarked: “Horses can produce horses; tractors can’t produce tractors.” 
Horses working in North Cork in 2014

Kilkenny’s Le Caveau was founded by Pascal Rossignol and family in 1999 (time for a 21st celebration then!) to sell artisan wines (including organic). The man from Burgundy recalled his first taste of natural wines. “No going back. You really get hooked.” Though he admitted that the first trade tasting produced mixed reactions.

Colm McCan, who works with Pascal in Le Caveau, reminded us that as far back as the 80s, Myrtle Allen ran a restaurant in Paris, a restaurant that sold natural wines! He agreed with Oliver that changes can already be seen, eg the rising temperatures in Bordeaux and elsewhere. He also sympathised with the winemakers in the film who because of their methods find themselves outside of the appellation system and agreed with them that your name is more important than the appellation stamp. And you’ll see that Le Caveau stock quite a such few wines.

Anna Kopecká, the new Director of Programming at the Cork International Film Festival, the local organisers of the very enjoyable and informative evening, was also on the discussion panel. She was able to sympathise with the winemakers who only get one chance a year to get it right, “like the film festival”. She enjoyed the film: “Soundtrack was very special, not what you’d expect, and the film is a great way of understanding what’s going on in the world.”
Prades,  where the great Spanish cellist Pablo Casals lived in exile. See the "cello" at far side of roundabout.

The Film Festival, now in its 65th year, will be held in November. But this out-of-season screening may be followed by others before then as Anna told Joe there’s the possibility of a film club to screen "films like this" (not necessarily about wine). If I remember rightly, the festival did survive as a film club probably in the 70s, when the venue was the Cameo up by Collins Barracks. I attended quite a few there.

And that wasn’t the end of the evening. No shortage of volunteers to clear the chairs off to the side and we all queued up for a tasing or two of the wines made by M. Nicq. His Foulards Rouges (Red Scarves) Rouge and Blanc were the wines and the cheese was supplied by On the pig’s back. The red, a blend of Grenache (80%) and Syrah, is a fresh and fruity delight, easy drinking. The cloudy white is just as pleasant, hard to pick between the two, and we didn't have to in any case!. 

These wines and similar are available at Bradley's, North Main Street, Cork. Indeed, you should also look out for Octobre, another light red from Foulards Rouges. I enjoyed it recently, details here.

By the way, I know quite a few Irish make their way down to that Catalan corner of France, just above the Spanish border. You may know Collioure or the holiday village of Argeles-sur-Mer. Well, leave the coast behind and about twenty minutes later you’ll arrive at Montesquieu-des-Albères where Jean-Francois makes these delicious wines.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

CorkBilly’s Drinks Digest. Wines, Spirits and Beers Events

CorkBilly’s Drinks Digest
Wines, Spirits and Beers Events

Silver Spear Gin Tasting at The Woodford. Date has been changed and is not on this Friday.

West Kerry Take Over Bierhaus Taps

It’s time to get shouting about @CorkAleTrail 1st monthly event next Saturday16/02  7.30pm  @BierhausCork with @westkerrybeer #taptakeover #meetthebtewer 5 Beers pouring! @GrandCruBeers @Cadastrophe @bradleys_offlic @HouseAbbot @FranWellBrewPub @the_friary_bar #CAT

Meet the Alternatives - Wine Tasting
by Woodberrys 3 Middle Street Mews
Middle Street
Thu, 21 February 2019
17:00 – 19:00 GMT
We have selected 12 wines we think every adventurous wine lover must try! These are wines that you will love but may have overlooked when buying a bottle of your favourite Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or Malbec! Call in a try these wines your guaranteed to find one you like.
Book here

New consumer website for Australian wine. Packed with info.
The new consumer website will engage consumers with rich content that is educational and user-friendly. It highlights Australia’s 65 premium wine regions with winemaker profiles, stories, regional events and insights into some of Australia’s most popular wine varieties.
Content will be updated regularly and a simplified Chinese version will be published shortly.
Visit to explore this new resource for global consumers.

Wine Academy Weekend at Sheen Falls

Gallery Westport A Special Event!

The Cork Wine School Spring Dates

Valentine’s Night at The Rising Sons

Our beer & food pairings have always been popular with you rising sons and daughters and for this reason we're showing some love this Valentine's Day. Introducing our Beer and Dessert pairing - a guided tasting of our award-winning beer and a selection of sweet delights made in-house, paired perfectly for your Valentine night. All for the sweet price of €10.
Thursday, February 14, 2019 at 7 PM – 10 PM

Spanish Wine Week 
ICEX Spain Exports and Investments and the Economic and Commercial Office of the Embassy of Spain in Dublin organize the IV edition of the SPANISH WINE WEEK (SWW), the biggest Spanish wine promotion event that takes place in Ireland between the 8th and the 14th of April. The main objective of the actions organized in the framework of that week and simultaneously in various cities in Ireland, is to give the greatest possible visibility to Spanish wines and their different regions, in addition to showing their diversity and high quality.

The different activities organized include tastings, dinner paired, discounts on the purchase of wine and promotions in stores and media, as well as raffles in the press and social networks. This aims to give the public the opportunity to taste a wide variety of wines through different experiences, while encouraging the consumption and purchase of Spanish wine throughout the week, precisely because of the offers and discounts offered by the stores , bars and restaurants.

The Cork Beer Mile with CAT 
Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 6:30 PM – 11:30 PM
Get your walking shoes on and join us on a walk around Cork's must prestigious craft beer bars! 

This time we're in cahoots with two outstanding Irish breweries DOT Brew & Larkin's Brewing Company! More details to be announced soon! Who are the lads? 
​Dot :
Dot Brew is a gypsy micro brewery brand with roots strongly cultivated in Dublin 8. Specialising in uniquely designed barrel aged and blended beers for an evolving Irish and International palette. Dot adopts maturation and blending techniques from the Whiskey and Wine industries and applying them to break the boundaries of beer production. Dot has been rated one of the top 10 Irish brewers by Untappd users for 2018. (Placed 6th) 
Larkins :
Launched in 2018 after dipping their toes into the brewing market at the RDS Irish Craft Beer Festival the previous year, Larkins has already been rated one of the top 5 Irish brewers by Untappd users for 2018. (Placed 3rd) An independently family owned  brewery based in County Wicklow, Larkins set their focus on making lager style beers as good as they can be along with working on other styles of beers from IPA’s , Saisons to Pale Ales. 

Gin Tasting!!
Friday, March 1, 2019 at 7 PM – 9:15 PM

Sol y Sombra Tapas Bar & RestaurantOld Church of Ireland, Lower Bridge Street, Killorglin 6
see pic downloads..
On the night, we will present a selection of 6 superior gins, a selection of premium tonics and explore the different herbs and botanical's used in the distilling process of creating craft gins.  Info here 

A welcome G&T will be served at 7.15 pm to allow the group to mingle before the tasting, the tastings itself will begin at 7:30 pm (sharp) in the upstairs Mezzanine.

You also have the option to have a meal if you so wish before or after the tastings.

We will be sampling lovely gins, its will be a unique night you won't want to miss

Tickets are €25 plus booking fees they are available through

There are only 24 spaces available so book early to avoid disappointment!


Thursday, June 16, 2016

What to drink with Sushi? Answers At L’Atitude Event

What to drink with Sushi?
Answers At L’Atitude Event
Miyazaki magic

Cider? Wine? Sherry? Champagne? Which would win? These were the questions as this fun event, involving matching Sushi with various drinks, kicked off in the marvellous L’Atitude Wine Cafe in Cork last Wednesday. In the end an atypical Loire Sauvignon Blanc got the nod from the audience.

There was already one champion on the table as we entered and that was a plateful of delightful Sushi, skillfully prepared by Takashi Miyazaki, Cork and Ireland’s favourite Japanese chef. And what does the maestro himself drink with it? Well, saké, of course, after a beer or two! Saké, a natural match, wasn't in the line-up the other night. The omission was deliberate and that gave the others a chance.

Takashi (in front) with (l to r) Beverly, Leslie, Pascal, Paddy and Susan
Takashi had Seared Salmon (sesame oil added before the searing), Cured Salmon (tasted somewhat like the very best Prosciutto), Sea Bass (with salmon roe on top) and “Plain” Salmon (with green chilli, pepper, and salted to give it “a kick”) in his sushi selection.

Beverley of L’Atitude kicked off proceedings with a bottle of Cockagee Cider in her hands. “This is the champagne of ciders”, she declared. “I just love it. It's incredible, not overly tannic. A fine cider for some very fine sushi.”

And then came Leslie Williams, words flowing like bubbles at a West Ham game as he lauded the Devaux Rosé Champagne, made mainly with Pinot Noir grapes. “Its richness, that hint of sweetness, would work well with the sushi.” If in doubt, not that Leslie had any doubts,  “it has to be champagne”.
L'Atitude, No. 1 Union Quay.
And then, with hands in motion, Pascal introduced his natural wine, a Loire Sauvignon blanc by Alexandre Bain. “He makes wine like his grandfather did, not like his father did, and is the only grower in the area to allow malolactic fermentation. It is rounder, richer, creamier than the standard Pouilly Fumé. It is listed in a three star Michelin in Paris and paired with raw fish and pickled ginger!” The words plus, we believe, no little “practice” with Takashi, paid off in votes.

And then Paddy Murphy took up the cause of sherry. What else? His Manzanilla (La Guita) - “really a wine in its own right”- was bone dry and light with a saline character and paired with the sushi “should enhance the umami”. The Don Zoilo Amontillado was, said Paddy, “the king of sherry..with a slight richness, yet bone dry..savoury..tangy… should pair well”.  Indeed, both styles went down very well indeed among the voters but the two-wine strategy split the vote; both did well but neither got enough to win.
The noteworthy Champion
Susan Boyle sang the praises of her St Brigid’s Pale Ale and pointed to the hop bitterness “a key ingredient for this matching, not in any of the previous drinks”. She listed other local ingredients: barley and honey from their own hives. “It may be an unusual choice but I think it works particularly well. I’m saving the best til last so tick that little box!”

Ottolenghi tasted the beer at the recent LitFest and said it was “the bee’s knees”. Susan wasn't the only one to name-drop. In the end though, the audience went with Le Caveau Sauvignon blanc.
Two Many?
Really though, there were quite a few winners on a very enjoyable evening, including the punters. Well done to L’Atitude for their irrepressible enthusiasm and bubbling invention, to the five presenters, to our MC Colm McCan (he said he was using the south facing clock on Shandon Tower as a time-keeping aid - visitors had to be told that Shandon is known as the four-faced liar), and of  course to Takashi Miyazaki (whose famous must-visit takeaway is at the corner of Barrack Street and Evergreen Street).