Showing posts with label Cork. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cork. Show all posts

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Bayview Lunch Brings Out The Sun!


Bayview Lunch Brings Out The Sun!

Red Mullet

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.
Terrine

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.

Ballycotton
Co. Cork
Ireland

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Farmgate Café 25 Years On. Still Going Strong


Farmgate Café 25 Years On
Still Going Strong
Old Millbank salmon

When the Farmgate Café advertise for staff, they stress “it's a busy fast paced environment”. And it is. I saw for myself last Wednesday week (Aug 7th). No shortage of spaces when we arrived at 12.30pm but it was such a different story thirty minutes later. By then, the Dining Room was full and there was a queue for the Balcony, even a little queue to exit! Twenty five years after its founding, the English Market restaurant's food is as much in demand as ever.

We got a table in the glassed off Dining Room and were soon studying the menu and the specials on the board (which included plaice and corn beef). Service is friendly and efficient here and water was quickly delivered to the table along with some of their complimentary breads (delicious, as always) and Glenilen Butter.
Chicken Livers

Something on the lighter side was our target, so we passed on the mains of fish, the beef, the free-range chicken and the Irish Lamb Stew, all tempting and most sourced from the English Market below.

We could have nibbled on olives and on the addictive House Spiced Nuts (we had those during the Walk the Long Table stop here). In the end, I picked the Seared Chicken Livers with Marsala on sourdough toast (8.50). There was a well-dressed salad on the plate as well and it was a superb combination of flavour, texture, even colour.

You can get Irish beers here and European wines but I regularly go for their sparkling elderflower drink and we shared a carafe (4.50). There’s a great loyalty between the Farmgate and their suppliers so it was no surprise to see the Old Millbank Organic Irish Smoked Salmon (12.50) on the menu here and CL gave that a run and confirmed the offering was as good as ever.

One of the advantages of the smaller plates was that dessert could be accommodated!  There was a Pannacotta Special with strawberries up on the board but it was the regular Champagne and Elderflower Sorbet with West Cork Strawberries that tempted me. Must say I hit dessert jackpot with that one, so delicious I was half inclined to lift the bowl to my lips and drain the last drop of the melting sorbet!
Champion Sorbet!

Actually, there is a quite a long dessert menu here. Our other one was also cool and colourful: Lemon Tart and Raspberry Sorbet.  Did a bit of sharing there and that too was excellent but I still gave mine the nod as the best! Each cost  €5.90.

You may reserve a table in the Dining Room (table service) but not in the Balcony (counter service). The menu available in the Dining Room is mostly available too across the way and, in addition, you’ll be able to choose from soups, salads, toasted and open sandwiches, and a daily roast or two.

English Market
Princes Street
Cork
T12NC8Y
Ireland
local: 021 427 8134
international: 00 353 21 427 8134 
e: info@farmgatecork.ie (general enquiries)


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Local Producers Shine as Cask Introduces Weekend Brunch

Local Producers Shine as Cask Introduces Weekend Brunch
French Toast


When Cork’s Cask recently introduced its weekend Brunch, there was no doubt that it would be local and seasonal. Head Chef Bryan McCarthy emphasised it in the notice: “For the brunch menu at Cask we wanted to keep it simple, offering no-frills brunch favourites with the focus firmly on the quality of the ingredients which we’ve sourced from some wonderful local producers. We’re delighted with how it has turned out and we think people are going to love it.

I tried it out this weekend, enjoyed it and delighted too that Killahora Orchards, a producer just about five miles east of the city, figured so much in my choice. I should say choices as there was a cocktail involved as well! Well, it was a late brunch.

The menu is short, with favourites, such as Eggs Benedict featuring. Seated by the window, we ignored the busy street scene outside and studied the options. My choice was the French Toast with the Killahora Apple Syrup and Strawberries (bananas were an alternative).
So what cocktail? You have to smile at the names here but there is something a little more serious behind the one I picked: Bee Positive. Ketel One vodka, Killahora Rare Apple Iced Wine, Suze, Borage and local honey are the ingredients. And it comes with a packet of wildflower seeds to throw and grow! Aside from the needed nod to the bees, the drink itself is delicious, nectar springs to mind! 

In any event, the drink and the superb French Toast went very well together, I’m glad to report. CL meantime was enjoying her substantial plate of Avocado, Bacon, Tomato, Rocket, and Poached Egg on toast. That too was delicious, quite a feed. I know, as we swapped halfway through.

Like an increasing number of places, Cask offer a non alcoholic cocktail. Their Shrub consists of Ceders Non Alcoholic Spirit, Seasonal Shrub, and Poachers Ginger Ale. Tonic and soda are listed as alternatives but Dan, who was looking after us, hinted that the Poachers Ginger ale was just the job and he was talking to the converted as CL had recently enjoyed a cocktail with ginger ale in Kerry. This didn’t look all that spectacular, just the one flowerhead, providing colour, but it tasted very well indeed.

Cheers to the bees
Andy Ferreira, Cask bar manager and chief mixologist. “In recent years brunch as a concept has really taken off so we were excited to introduce it to Cask, but making sure to put our own unique spin on things. We’ve combined delicious food and a fun and intriguing drinks menu with the great craic that we’ve become known for - a killer combination!”

Having been asked to put it to the test, we can endorse that! Also on the menu are Eggs Benedict on Toasted Honey Spelt Bread; Potato, Black Pudding and Beef Hash with Baked Eggs. Lighter dining options include Granola with Natural Yogurt and Berry Compote, and Smoked Salmon with Scrambled Eggs and Chives.

Brunch is available here from 10:00am - 3:00pm every Saturday and Sunday. Cask is also open daily for lunch and dinner from 12:30pm - 10:00pm. 

48 MacCurtain Street
Cork
Tel:  (021) 450 0011



Sunday, July 21, 2019

Springboard into Summer at the Kingsley Hotel


Springboard into Summer at the Kingsley Hotel
Pork Belly

Springboard, the relaxed bistro in the Kingsley Hotel, the one with the large windows that look out at the River Lee, has quite a lovely summertime menu as I enjoyably discovered last week. 

We arrived just as the only shower of the day finished up; three courses later we were singing the praises of the restaurant, named for a prominent part of the old Lee Baths that once stood here, the only downside being the fact that the sun never re-appeared to enhance the view of the river, the strollers, the runners and the kayakers.
View. Wine. Prosciutto & Ricotta starter

And it wasn’t just the food that was good. So too was the comfort here and, more importantly, the service: smooth, friendly, helpful, without ever being overly attentive. The menu is quite extensive, takes a bit of reading! Starters include everything from Olives to Chowder to a grilled mojo chicken Cobb salad, about a dozen items in all.  The mains is even more expansive, featuring beef, chicken, and pork dishes, a Thai curry, vegetarian options, even a Pizza list.

No shortage of desserts either and there’s also an Irish Farmhouse Cheeseboard. Plenty of wines to choose from as well; our pick was the aromatic and crisp Markus Huber Grüner Veltliner. And, of course, there are lots of whiskies and gins and other spirits and, if you’re driving, they can offer you a choice of non-alcoholic cocktails. Good to see the local Cotton Ball beers also well represented on the list.
Fish Cakes special

So, with the wine sorted and the breads enjoyed, we made a start, an excellent one. Lots of local produce here and CL’s salad included Toonsbridge Ricotta, with Prosciutto, fig and honey crostini and baby leaves. She enjoyed that. My soya glazed pork belly with black pudding bon bon, cos leaves, mango relish was another beauty. Both, by the way, were quite substantial yet two empty plates went back.

You don’t get trout out that often so I was delighted to try the Pan-seared fillet of sea-trout with smoked haddock, pea and saffron risotto, pine nut pesto, delighted that I did as it was a superb combination, appetising on the plate and totally pleasing on the palate.

CL had spotted the special and, with some encouragement from our server, choose the Pan-fried Fish Cakes with dressed summer salad, sweet potato fries, garlic and saffron aioli, lemon mayo. All the salads here by the way were well dressed. Again the dish was superb, full of flavour and textures. Another clean plate, another vote of confidence in the kitchen team.
Trout
The dessert menu was laced with temptation and we were pointed in the direction of the Glazed chocolate and caramel dome. But, after two excellent courses, space was limited and we opted for the lighter Lemon meringue éclair (choux pastry éclair, lemon curd filling, Italian meringue, mango sorbet) to share. It was served in the “neutral territory” on the table and provided a very pleasant end to a very pleasant evening as guests of the restaurant. 
Dessert

Check out the full Springboard menu here

The Springboard details   
OPENING TIMES
  • Monday - Friday 17.00 - 21.00
  • Saturday & Sunday 12.30 - 21.00 (Sunday lunch from 12.30 - 17.00)
CONTACT INFORMATION

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Taste of the Week. Award-winning Longueville House Cider


Taste of the Week
Award-winning Longueville House Cider

Longueville House Cider 5.5%, widely available in 500ml bottle

The big thing you notice, aside from the golden colour of this medium-dry cider and the rich aromas of the autumn in the 24-year old orchard, is that the flavour is long and deep, like the mighty Blackwater that flows by the Longueville Estate near Mallow, Co. Cork. 

The balance, between the estate grown fruit (25 acres) and the acidity, is remarkable, hinting that the production process is precise. But this is not measured, not weighed, at least not in any industrial sense. Remember this is all comes together in an old bare-walled farm shed, using “machinery”, for the apple brandy in particular, that is just as likely to be seen in a folk museum or come across in a secondhand sale.

Two varieties of apple, Michelin and Dabinett, are grown in Longueville. The amount of each variety is not measured. They are gathered up together and go into the old oak press together. Nothing is added. Irish Distillers ace cooper Ger Buckley told me recently that, when reassembling a barrel, he judges everything by eye. Cider making in Longueville is something similar: by eye, by smell, by touch, by intuition, the basic tools of an artisan honed by years of experience.

Put them all together as they have in this North Cork estate (a proud member of the Old Butter Roads Food Trails) and the result is this superb cider, yours to savour, the pleasing sensation of the orchard fruit, long and deep on the palate and its refeeshing finalé. With no artificial sweeteners, additives, colourings, preservatives or added sulphites, this is a true craft cider. 

Do not spoil the effort of the land and the human hand with ice. Longueville’s Rubert Atkinson (pictured above) advises: “No ice! It waters down the flavours and kills the carbon. Enjoy this like a wine, in a wine glass.” Chill it well and pair with fish, meat (especially pork), cheese, charcuterie or simply on its own.

* Back in the mists of time, these Longueville lands were owned by a Daniel O’Callaghan but, after the collapse of the 1641 rebellion, O’Callaghan’s lands went to Cromwell. Amazingly, the wheel came full circle in 1938 when the present owner’s grandfather Senator William O’Callaghan bought the property, restoring it to the same family clan of O’Callaghans. You may read all about the centuries in between in a leaflet they hand out at the house and, on the back, is a map of the many and varied walks on the estate! Info also on the website here.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

See Unusual Fish on the Celtic Explorer at Seafest

See Unusual Fish on the Celtic Explorer at Seafest
Full programme here
This is an Orange Roughy, a deep water fish that is now more popular with consumers since he got a change of name.
Previous name was Slimehead! It is a bottom living species.

This Bearfish, pictured also with the Roughy above, is common in the
Eastern Atlantic. Normal length is about 13cm.

This is a Ray. Fishmonger Pat O'Connell: Ray wing is a really economical fish choice and delivers a good quantity of meat which is easily accessed. 

The red mullet is common in the Eastern Atlantic, including around Ireland.

Look at the teeth on this fellow. No wonder it is called the Rabbit fish. The teeth and the big eyes (below) help its survival
in the dark deep ocean. The proper name is Chimaera and it is found in the north eastern Atlantic at anything
 from 40 metres down to over 1,600.



This is the Red Gurnard. There are two types; the Tub Gurnard is pictured below.


Open wide. The Gurnard is well equipped to sweep in anything nutritious in the vicinity.

Didn't note the name of this one!

This is a small Black Shark, another bottom dweller, again with big eyes and sharp teeth. Many of these deepsea fish
have sharp "spikes" to deter predators. This shark also has a tough skin, tough enough to use as sandpaper!
The fish room is just one of the attractions - a highlight for me - on the Celtic Explorer which does fascinating work in the oceans around our coast. The crew here are also very helpful and it is a very highly recommended visit.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Izz Café On George’s Quay. Quality Food in Cork from “our mothers and grandmothers”.


Izz Café On George’s Quay
Quality Food in Cork from “our mothers and grandmothers”.

Izz Café have proved quite a hit in local farmer’s markets over the past few months. I, for one, have enjoyed their salads, their jars of good things, and their superb cakes.  Now, you don’t have to wait until Thursday in Mahon or Saturday in Douglas as the Palestinian family behind the tasty venture have opened a café at 14 George’s Quay. They will continue their market stall.

The new café is small but bright and airy and, by the way, also does takeaway, and was officially opened last week by none other than Darina Allen. I made my first visit there this week and enjoyed a lovely lunch.  The Alkarajeh family behind Izz Cafe are determined that their Cork customers will enjoy the “original quality of our mothers and grandmothers.” They’re off to a good start.

Not too sure what to order. There is no written menu yet but there will be as soon as they decide on what dishes to present. In the meantime, there is an electronic board showing all the choices: appetisers, manaeesh and desserts.

So there we were, staring at the displays until we spotted the Tasters Mix, a collection of their appetisers served with freshly baked bread (€9.50). So we absolutely enjoyed, with a glass of water (they do have soft drinks available),  a silky smooth hummus, Fattoush, Babaganoush, with olives and pomegranate seeds. That bread was just out of the oven and was a treat.

Manaeesh, the heading for the main dishes, is a popular Levantine food consisting of dough topped with thyme, cheese, or ground meat, etc. Similar to a pizza, it can be sliced or folded, and it can be served either for breakfast or lunch. Most of these are priced at €6.50.

While mostly vegetarian, you can also get chicken and beef versions on George’s Quay. But why not try the Zaatar and Cheese version? This is a mixture of Palestinian oregano, with sesame and olive oil, and a blend of white traditional cheese, spread on their traditional dough and baked together. I saw a few customers enjoying those!

Cinnamon Roll
And as the regular market-goers will know, Izz has irresistible cakes. Their Cinnamon Roll (one is enough!) had customers drooling. And that roll is also here in George’s Quay. Along with a whole lot more.

They have Bounty Cake (coconut and chocolate), Warbat (a kind of enhanced Baklava), and Saffron Cake. Even scones if you want traditional Irish! I went for the Basbooseh, a delicious melange of coconut with semolina, eggs, yogurt, sunflower oil, vanilla baking powder, rose water and sugar syrup.

Okay, so you can’t be eating large slices of cake all day long. What do you do if all you want is a cuppa? Bet you’d like a little bite to go with it. Sure you would and Izz has just the thing. It is called Maamoul and is a traditional Palestinian bite-sized dessert stuffed with walnut or date. Ideal with that mid-morning or mid-afternoon coffee (which is also excellent here).

Izz Café
14 George’s Quay
Cork
Phone: 085 149 5625
Email: info@izz.ie
Also on Facebook and Instagram.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Franciscan Well Easter Fest. Was 2019 the Best Yet?


Franciscan Well Easter Fest
Was 2019 the Best Yet?


Franciscan Well is located held its 20th annual Easter Festival at its North Mall location at the weekend. And, by all accounts, from the organisers, the visiting brewers and the customers, it was the best yet.

I met Franciscan Well Market Manager Kate Clancy when I called early on Sunday afternoon. She reported that the previous day was amazing. “Once we opened the doors at 1.00pm, the crowds just kept coming.”

"What a weekend we had! Beer, Easter eggs, beer out of Easter eggs, pizzas, live music and this crowd! Thanks to everyone for coming along and a huge thanks as always to our amazing staff & their hard work! 

And the brewers confirmed that. Many had run out of their headline beers which meant I didn’t get to taste Peaches and Cream by the Cotton Ball or the Witness Protection Belgian Wit by Wexford’s Yellow Belly. 
I got in before the crowd on Sunday.

It was much the same story at UCC. UCC? You might well ask. Well, yes, they have a research brewery and you’ll see them at various festivals. Like the other breweries, they ran out of certain lines and, just like the others, had to be nimble to keep the show on the road. And one I enjoyed there was Manneken Pis, named after the Belgian beer. Apparently, the Manneken Pis statue has on occasion been filled with beer and you were welcome to hold your cup up and get a fill.
No such shenanigans at Franciscan Well!

Yellow Belly's Seamus was one of the happy brewers here who also seen his stocks diminish more rapidly than expected. But I did get to sample a couple. Their Jack Bauer Power Shower, a 3.8% sour, was deliciously refreshing in the heat and CL quickly became a fan. The Wolf of Malt Street, a 6.2 per cent Black Forrest Stout, a collaboration between Yellow Belly and neighbours Wicklow Wolf, also went down well at our barrel - could have done with a seat in the heat!

I also enjoyed the Elevation Pale Ale from Wicklow Wolf, an American style Pale Ale brewed and dry hopped with Mosaic Hops. Not everyone likes the dry hop beers but it suits me fine! Great too to meet up with James Ward of Lough Gill Brewery whose Mac Nutty is one of my favourite brown beers. This time we tasted their Roller Coaster, a 4.6% Berliner Weisse, with Guava, Mango and Passionfruit. Delicious and, like the Jack Bauer, refreshing. Also met up, after a few years, from Richard from Roscommon’s Black Donkey but we were making out exit at that stage.

The Rising Sun’s Common Eileen, a California Common, was malty with a decent bitterness, with traditional old-style American Hops. Had been hoping to taste the Cotton Ball’s Peaches and Cream but Eoin reported it all sold out. Still, there was the considerable consolation of a glass of their excellent Another Bloody IPA. I hadn't tasted that with a long while and enjoyed renewing the acquaintance. Indeed, called to the Cotton itself for a small selection of bottles when we got home - the sun was still shining in the garden.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Lingering by the Waterfall at Greene's Tasting Lunch


Lingering by the Waterfall at Greene's Tasting Lunch
Lamb 

We started lunch in Greene’s last Friday with a glass of Prosecco. This was a rather special lunch, one with a tasting menu, and the bubbles were included. Based on local and seasonal produce, as is always the case here, it was superb from start to finish.
Pickled mackerel snack

And, as often happens here, it was the smaller elements that caught the attention of the taste buds:   the pickled dillisk with the monkfish, the Sweet Woodruff Kefir, the carrot purée with the lamb, the flecks of apricot with the Coconut White Chocolate. Of course, the major items, the fish and the meat were superb as well.

After the bubbles, the breads arrived. And then a selection of “snacks”: pickled mackerel with dillisk and wild garlic, Purple potato chip with paté and elderflower jelly, Beef beignets with oriental mayonnaise, and a Mexican cracker sandwich. All small, all perfectly formed, all easily dispatched.

The starter was a little bit bigger: torched mackerel, asparagus, shallot, herb velouté, cucumber oil, dill leaf and wild garlic flowers. Now we were up and running, flavours galore yet all combining superbly. Time then for a Lychee and Lime (with Matcha Tea powder) palate cleanser.
Torched mackerel

Our main fish course was next: monkfish with a creamy dashi, spinach and that outstanding pickled dillisk, dashi powder and also a small cube or two of Morteaux sausage. A perfect melange of textures and flavours, immaculately presented and faultlessly cooked.

By the way, you don’t get a written menu. The offering can change from day to day so your server will tell you exactly what’s on your plate. And our server did that with precision and good humour and if there’s an error in these paragraphs than I’ll hold my hands up.
Dessert

Sorbet time now. We got a Lemon Sorbet with salt and, in a separate glass, a mouthful or two of that amazing Sweet Woodruff Kefir. Amazing on its own but even more so, surprisingly so, in combination with the sorbet.

We got lamb two ways in in our mains: the shoulder was cooked low and slow, the chop was also perfectly cooked, loved the carrot purée and the grilled asparagus and carrot. Not a spud in sight and it wasn’t missed either as we happily murmured our way through this delightful combination.

“Two desserts,” our server announced. “One big, one small.” Woodruff and rhubarb were the main elements in a dish that included espuma, meringue and a ginger sorbet. Big yes but also light and, at this stage, eminently digestible!

The truffles (the “small” dessert!)  came with their excellent coffee. One was a Coconut White Chocolate perked up with those littles bit of apricot and the other was a Dark Chocolate juiced up with a drop of Jameson. Cheers to chef Bryan and to all the team at Greene’s. Quite a lunch!

  • Quite often it pays to keep an eye on social media. I spotted somewhere a few months back that Greene’s were selling a voucher for this lunch at a 40% discount. I’m glad I pounced then!

48 McCurtain Street
Cork
021 455 2279