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

Monday, November 26, 2018

Sizzling Dishes At Quinlan’s Fish in Princes Street


Sizzling Dishes At Quinlan’s Fish in Princes Street


Sizzling deep-water Atlantic prawns, in olive oil, chilli and garlic served with a mixed leaf salad and sourdough bread, were the star of the show when we visited the busy Quinlan’s Seafood Bar in Cork recently.

It was a Monday and I didn’t expect it to be so busy - but it was abuzz, people were being turned away. Just as well we had booked a table. We got a nice welcome and service was pretty good too throughout.

Fish direct from tide to table, they say, claiming to be “unique in Ireland as we source all our Fresh Fish and Shellfish from our own boats and fish factory at Renard Point, Caherciveen”. Fresh Hake, Cod, Haddock, Whiting and Plaice, from Dingle Bay are available throughout the year. The mussels come from Oysterhaven.

But back to those sweet and delicate prawns. CL had them as starter (12.00) while I enjoyed them as mains (19.00). The “soup” of oil, chilli and garlic was nicely judged so that the texture and flavour of the fish came through. The well dressed salad was excellent while the average sourdough was put to good use in mopping up! No Picpoul de Pinet or Muscadet on the white wine list but the listed Albarino would be a good match.
Salmon

Quinlan’s always have a list of specials and it was a tempting one the other night with Black Sole and Lobster included. I went for one of the special starters, the Prawn and Smoked Salmon croquettes, served with salad and Asian Aioli (12.95). Quite a substantial dish and very tasty too!

It wouldn’t be a fish bar if you couldn’t get Fish and Chips. And here you have a choice of fish: whiting, plaice, haddock, cod, hake or fish goujons. And those fish and chips are served with a batter they “have developed to complement our super fresh fish”. For a healthier option you can have the fresh fish pan-fried in olive oil. And you can also choose salad instead of chips. In any event, those Fish and Chips seemed to be flying on the night as were those sizzling prawns.

Along with the specials, you have a fine choice of main dishes here including Dingle Bay Wild Squid and Portmagee Crab Claws, even a Portmagee Crab Bake. Also simpler dishes with Hake and Salmon. CL went for the Pan-fried fillet of Salmon served with Lyonnaise potatoes, asparagus, carrot purée and basil pesto (19.50). Quantity yes but quality too.

The Kerry family are well known too for their award winning smoked salmon and we had that as a lunch dish in their Killarney restaurant earlier in the year served as an Open Sandwich on brown bread and it came with a straightforward salad and lemon wedge. The amount of “smoking” was nicely judged and the flavour of the salmon itself is not diminished but rather enhanced by its engagement with Irish oak. So watch out for that too.

And what did I have at that lunch in Killarney? Yes, you’ve guessed it, those prawns again but this time served in a light tempura batter. A different dress then but still beautiful!
Smoked Salmon lunch dish, Killarney in March.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Cork’s SpitJack. Making A Difference on Washington Street.


Cork’s SpitJack.
Making A Difference on Washington Street.
Camembert, for sharing 

When you’d like something that little bit different, for breakfast, lunch or dinner, then head to the SpitJack on Washington Street. Number 34 is a lovely old building the food (based on local produce and generally given the rotisserie treatment) is excellent and the staff are very helpful and friendly.

There were four of us in for dinner the other evening and we absolutely enjoyed the buzz - the place was full - the ambiance and the food. The expertise of the team and quality of the food combine to make the lovingly restored old venue conducive to enjoying a good night out in comfort.

And the drink. They have much to offer here, including spirits galore and a tempting cocktail list. One of us enjoyed the smooth 8 Degrees Knockmealdown Irish Stout (5.0% Abv) 5.5 with its espresso and molasses aromas. The rest shared a mouth-watering bottle of Abadia do Seixo Albarino (32.00). 
Calamari

Choices made and starters delivered. Lets begin. A pair of us shared the Rotisserie Melted Camembert (€15). This was studded with Rosemary and Garlic and came with Crusty Bread, Chilli & Tomato Jam. Quite a plateful and none went back. A lovely dish and not often seen in these parts.

Sounds of approval too from the others. The Ballycotton Prawn Pil Pil (€9.90 ), a dish of Chilli & Garlic Prawns, Warm Country Baguette, Allioli, was highly ranked as one of the best of its kind and the same rating was garnered by the Ballycotton Crispy Calamari (€8.50) tossed in Home Made Allioli,  with Sautéed Chorizo, Red Pepper Coulis, Mixed Leaves.

One of a couple at a nearby table were celebrating a birthday and the staff joined in with a little cake and a song so we helped with the chorus and the applause.

The main event followed and two decided on the Ballycotton Pan Roasted Hake with Butter Bean, Chorizo & Kale Broth, Shaved Asparagus, Fennel & Radish Salad, Potato Mousseline (18.50). Both were well pleased, each remarking on the flavoursome broth. Another winner from the kitchen. Ballycotton was doing well too and everything from there went down well at our table.



Duck

Back to the rotisserie for my friend who gleefully demolished the Big Jack Burger, a North Co. Cork Aged Striploin Beef Burger, Cashel Blue Cheese, Baby Gem, Home-Made Pickles, The SpitJack Relish, Brioche Bun (€16.95). By the way, she asked for it without the bun. I could understand that, as most of the time, I usually eat just one half of it.

Meanwhile, I was tucking into a dish that was that little bit different, the confit and Rotisserie Roasted Duck Leg Salad with Pearl Couscous, Roasted Sweet Potato, Red Onion, Carrot, Mixed Leaves, Tarragon and Orange Dressing (€17.95). Must say I loved it, every little bit.

34 Washington Street
Cork
(021) 239 0613
Hours: 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM, 5:00 PM - 9:30 PM
Twitter: @theSpitjack 




Thursday, August 2, 2018

New Chef and Tempting New Menu in Pembroke Restaurant at Imperial Hotel

New Chef and Tempting New Menu
 in Pembroke Restaurant at Imperial Hotel


It seems the public has already heard about the tempting new menu in the Imperial’s Pembroke Restaurant as the place was full when we called last Tuesday. Jerome Joyce is the new Executive Chef at the Flynn Family owned Imperial Hotel and has been busy with the new dishes. And his first converts were the staff. Each one that we met is fully conversant and already has a favourite or two - rarely have I come across such enthusiasm.

So now we are in to try but of course we can't try everything! We do however have enough to know that this is an excellent set of dishes, top class local produce very well handled and presented indeed. There is a separate steak section (locally sourced Hereford) but the menu is really well balanced overall with something for meat-eaters, fish-lovers, and those that eat neither aren't forgotten either.
We had a plate of tasty breads to choose from as we studied the menu. Among the starters, we could have had the tempting Ardsallagh Goats Cheese, Feuille de Brick, Mango Chutney, Confit Vine Tomato, Salted Pine Nuts, Pea Shoots (8.95).

My pick though was the rather unusual Lemon Sole Tempura Batter, Red Pepper and Tomato Stew, Basil Mayo, Lemon and Olive Oil Emulsion (8.95). Unusual in the sense that you don’t see this very often on a list of starters. This version, with the red pepper and tomato stew, was excellent. 


And another beauty that we enjoyed was the Organic Duck Liver Parfait, Cinnamon and Star Anise Poached Plums, Homemade Brioche Loaf, Hazel Nut, Green Bean Salad (7.95). A good one too, enhanced by the Poached Plums. All part of our excellent start to a lovely evening in a very comfortable place indeed.

Taittinger champagne features on the wine list (they do a well priced flight in the bar) along with a port and Beaumes de Venise (one of my favourite dessert wines). A good selection of white and red also, many available by the glass including white favourites such as Albarino and Sauvignon Blanc and popular reds like Montepulciano and Cotes du Rhone. 


We go for the Picpoul de Pinet, Saint-Peyre, France (fresh and fruity with a long lingering finish) and also the intense and elegant Domaine Peirière Pinot Noir, France. Each comes at €7.50 per glass, €29.50 a bottle.

CL spots a favourite fish and the Halibut (26.95) Fennel Pollen Brioche Crust, Kale, Chorizo, White Bean and Broad Bean Cassoulet, Crispy Crab Claw, doesn't disappoint at all. Might have preferred a little less chorizo but the Fennel Pollen Crust is a delightful touch, a little crunch with a little aniseed. A lovely dish, so well presented. Interested in the Fennel Pollen as I’m saving some seeds at the present.

I rarely turn down duck and so I choose the West Cork Duck Breast, Brussel Sprouts and Smoked Bacon, Duck Fat Roast Potato, Black Berry Gel, Broad Beans (23.95). Well thought out, well executed, and well presented. Great combination of flavours and textures and I was well satisfied.

Indeed, we both were. But we were persuaded to check out the dessert menu and decided to share the Strawberry Panna Cotta with Elderflower Infused Strawberries, Ginger Textures, Rhubarb Tuile. Colourful and easy to eat, a sweet finalé to a superb meal.

By the way, you may check out the dishes and can see the great choices now available in the Pembroke here

The Pembroke Restaurant opening times are as follows:
Breakfast from 7.00am to 10.30am - Monday to Friday
Breakfast from 7.30am to 11am - Saturday and Sunday
Carvery Lunch from 12.00pm to 3.00pm - Monday to Saturday
Carvery Sunday Lunch from 12.00pm to 3.00pm
Dinner from 5.30pm to 9.30pm - Sunday and Monday  
Dinner from 5.30pm to 10.00pm - Tuesday to Saturday
Contact: 
021 4274040 or by emailing pembroke@imperialhotelcork.ie



Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Taste of the Week A Sheridan’s Cheese and Jam Double


Taste of the Week
A Sheridan’s Double

Sheridan’s get the credit for our current Taste of the Week. It’s a double and features one product bought in their Galway store during a recent visit to the City of the Tribes and another product bought in Bradley’s of Cork but distributed by Sheridan’s.

The product from Bradley’s is a semi-circle of Cashel Blue made, as always, by the Grubb family in Tipperary, but selected, matured and distributed by Sheridan’s.

So there I was one lunchtime with that Cashel Blue at hand and wondering how I’d enhance it. And then I remembered being served Black Cherry jam with sheep’s cheese in the Basque Country. I had the very thing in the cupboard: a big pot of artisan made Confiture Cerise Noire (my purchase from Sheridan's).



A perfect pairing and a delicious Taste of the Week. Lots of that jam left, so it looks as if I’ll be heading to Bradley’s for more cheese. Indeed, I may well also keep an eye out for that new hard sheeps cheese by Velvet Cloud.

By the way, I also found another match for the cheese, a bottle of Gerard Bertrand’s Banyuls Vin Doux Naturel (from O’Brien’s Wine). Not the whole bottle, mind you, a little sip will do! 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Seamus Goes Solo at Rum Bar And Kitchen

Seamus Goes Solo at Rum Bar And Kitchen
A yummy rummy dessert!

Quite a menu at the Rum Bar and Kitchen in Marlboro Street. A few nibbles, a long list of small plates (you may order one or two in bigger sizes), some excellent large plates, and also a few tempting desserts! Took us a while to make up our minds but many of the dishes are shareable - indeed they have some large platters, mainly charcuterie and cheese, to share -  and that makes choosing that bit easier.

No matter what we ordered we were going to omit some very desirable choices such as that €12.00 Cheese Platter (Cashel Blue, Gubbeen Smoked and Tipperary Brie with apricot chutney, candied walnuts, grapes and crackers).

But we wouldn't be disappointed. Far from it. We started with three, from the small plates. One choice was the Spanish Fries (4.50). The fries, served with chopped olives, grated cheese, aioli and pesto, were a delicious delight, quite a change from the usual Patatas Bravas.

The Crispy beef brisket Bon Bons (four for 7.50) enhanced by a red wine jus were full of flavour, the jus superb. And the hoisin sauce with the home-made duck-leg spring rolls was also top notch and added to another very enjoyable small plate (8.50). 

Other small plates available include: smoked Gubbeen and honey roast ham croquettes, English Market Chicken liver paté, and also their own house chicken wings. See the full menu on their Facebook page below.


So, after those excellent small plates, how would the large plates measure up? They hadn’t been open a week when we called but our mains were top notch too.


The Seafood Fricatta (14.50), a fresh seafood selection in a tomato sauce, was well cooked, neatly presented and at the correct temperature (as were all the dishes), no shortage of fish and slightly spicy.

But our favourite of the two was the Classic Meatballs (14.00). The dish was choc-a-bloc with those meatballs and linguini in a spicy Italian herb tomato sauce with shaved parmesan. A simple classic and simply excellent.

Would we have dessert? Yes please, we’d love the Rum Baba. And we did. The sponge cake was soaked in the rum, came with fresh cream and fruit. It vanished very quickly indeed. By the way, all desserts are a fiver. Very reasonable, as are all the food prices here, considering the quality and the friendly service.

The Rum Bar and Kitchen is Seamus Healy’s new city centre bar serving tasty bites with a fantastic drinks selection and, yes, there are some lovely rums there too. And cocktails of course including classics such as Mojito, Long island, Pino Colada, Daiquiri and Margaritas. But, on an invite from Seamus, we were there for the food (mainly!). 

Seamus has quite a few years of experience in the hospitality sector, mainly in local hotels. He has been encouraged by the comments since their “soft” opening on June 8th. This is the ex soccer player’s first solo venture and we wish the former Albert Rovers man all the best!


Rum Bar & Kitchen
32 Marlboro Street
Cork
Tel: (021) 427 4707
Message: @rumbarandkitchen
Twitter: @RUMbarkitchen 


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Late Lunch in the City. How About Dockland?

Late Lunch in the City. How About Dockland?

A trip down town yesterday meant an unexpected but very enjoyable late lunch,  in the sun, at Dockland on Lapps Quay. Superb dishes, full of flavour.


Chargrilled chicken, tomato fondue, Gubbeen chorizo, basil pesto, olive oil mash.
Dockland Fish Cakes, watercress mayonaisse, wilted spinach, red pepper relish.
No big secret here: they use lots of fish in the cakes!

Ideal for a sunny day: Raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake.




Thursday, May 3, 2018

Thali - Plates of Nepal


Thali - Plates of Nepal
Jimbu Timur Chicken

After a visit to Franciscan Well for a beer (and a call to Pat McDonnell for a few shade cards!), we took the opportunity to stop for an early dinner at Thali, the friendly Nepalese restaurant on Pope’s Quay.

We had been there just over a year ago and the dish we enjoyed then was the Thali Set. Thali means plate in Nepal and this dish, a collection of lentil soup (daal), chicken or lamb curry, vegetable curry, tomato chutney and rice, is delicious and, if you are a newbie to the cuisine, is a good way of starting into it.

Mix and Match
There is an early bird (€16.95). Other Asian dishes (Indian, Chinese and so on) are on offer here the A la Carte but we were sticking to the Nepalese section.  One of our choices was the Jimbu Timur Chicken (lamb option also available). This is cooked in a typical Nepalese style with herbs and spices, featuring a local herb from the Mustang region of the Himalayas called Jimbu. Good bit of spice in this one but very tasty and the chicken was perfect (15.90).

The other main dish - we shared both -,was simply called Mix and Match (18.90). “Very traditional,” we were told. It is a style and a dish that originated in the Nepalese army, combining a delicious mix of char-grilled lamb, chicken and jumbo prawns. Another excellent plateful. These dishes come with either rice or naan so we had one of each. By the way, the naan is superb here as is the poppadoms that we had with the amuse bouche.

They have quite a list of starters, mostly from Nepal, ranging in price from 5.50 to 9.90. My pick was the Aloo Chop (6.50), a type of spicy potato fritter, a really popular veggie snack in the country. It is hot and spicy and very very delicious indeed and is served with their traditional coriander and mint chutney.

CL’s pick was the Chana Chatpat (5.50). This classic street food favourite in Nepal features chickpeas combined with a  special peanut and herb chutney and garnished with fresh coriander. We went fifty fifty with the starters also and this is a beauty. Other starters that we can recommend from a previous visit are the Newari Sadeko (a chicken & salad dish from Katmandu) and the Mo Mo (steam dumplings filled with chicken).

Oh, I almost forgot. They also serve you an amuse bouche, well made poppadoms with a trio of dips, one cooling, the other two quite hot! There is a short wine list here, beers too (including a Nepalese one called Khukuri; poured from the bottle, it is nice and smooth). But we didn’t go for the alcohol this time and instead drank water, plenty of it!

Read about our previous visit here.

Thali Restaurant
30 Pope's Quay
Cork
021 4553389
Facebook: @thalinepal

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Ichigo Ichie. Twelve Courses. Many Lessons.

Ichigo Ichie. Twelve Courses. Many Lessons.
Takashi Miyazaki

The outstanding menu at the Takashi Miyazaki’s newly opened Ichigo Ichie has twelve courses and many tasty lessons for the Irish customers and indeed for Irish chefs.

Take the Mukouzuke, the fifth course, for example. Here, I came across squid like never before (so different to how it is served up here), the 6 days aged turbot was another eye-opener as was the bonito. An amazing plateful.
Nigiri

Mukouzuke, by the way, in the Japanese haute cuisine system known as Kaiseki (the style that Miyazaki is serving here) means the plate for sashimi. 

Another course title, the 9th in our meal, is Sunomono and this is a serving of pickled vegetables. Here, Miyazaki relied on his granny's recipe; she was spot-on and the rice bran, with aubergine, purple ninja radish and cucumber may have been small but it was huge in flavour.

There were little surprises all through the multi-course meal, even with the opening Sakizuke. Here the humble rhubarb found a starring role with Tofu and white sesame. The clams in the 11th dish, the Tonewan, just became available on the day and so were skilfully placed with the red miso, tofu, chive and dashi.
The Hassun: Thornhill Duck, eel & cucumber, Asparagus & cured egg.

Moon Jar
This multi-course meal is meant to reflect the  seasons but “the seasons in Japan are different to those in Ireland”, said Takashi. Our four seasons in one day has him puzzled. But he did manage to get cherry blossom in Douglas for one element of the Hassun, a delightful combination of Asparagus, cured onsen egg yolk, whiting powder and salted cherry blossom.

It is a lovely calm room with a lovely calm crew, conversations bubbling nicely behind us; we were two of the lucky five that had managed to book counter seats. That got us the odd chat with the busy Miyazaki and the chance to admire the floral arrangement and the amazing pottery piece called the Moon Jar that he sourced in London.

One of our first decisions was on what to drink. There is an excellent list of organic and natural wines from Le Caveau and we each started with a glass of white. Some Asahi beer (including draught) also available. But we had spotted the sake list also and then moved on to that, enjoying a can of the delicious Honjozo (17% abv), fragrant and full and with an amazing persistence. I'm converted!
Mukouzuke

One of the highlights of the early part of the meal was the Oshinogi course, two pieces of nigiri (sushi) with soy foam. The yellow fin was high class and even the ginger was memorable. Daikon (winter radish) is a favourite of Takashi’s and appeared in at least two courses, most notably the Nimono where it accompanied the bamboo shoot and yuzu-miso.

Daikon, bamboo shoot
I don't want to go into all the details - leave you to discover some for yourself -  but other highlights for me were the Thornhill duck, the conger eel, the ox-tongue, and the chicken thigh and turbot fin (with a savoury custard). 

Dessert is not a big thing in Japan. The course name is Kanmi and set Takashi a problem but he came up with a neat response: soy milk, chocolate, mochi rice cake, mocha and Jameson Cask Whiskey. Small but packing quite a flavour punch!

Ichigo Ichie, as you may have heard, may be interpreted as “once in a lifetime”. “No once in a lifetime,’ said Takashi, as we left. “Come back soon.” We will. In the meantime, let us hope, his influence will be felt way beyond his Fenn’s Quay base.
Channelled wrack, carrot, burdock, shiitake, dashi = Gohanmono

Monday, April 16, 2018

Mise en place saves your ass. Chatting with Oyster Tavern Head Chef Kate Lawlor


Mise en place saves your ass 
Chatting with Oyster Tavern Head Chef Kate Lawlor
Kate in her Fenn's Quay days with John and Sally McKenna (left). See Kate
on RTE 1 on April 18th (8.30pm) in Healthy Appetite

Kate Lawlor, for so long associated with Fenn’s Quay, is now enjoying her Head Chef role at The Oyster Tavern in Cork city centre. And the team there, quite a young one, have a great chance to learn from one of the hardest working chefs around but one who enjoys “teaching others the joy of cooking, taking raw ingredients and making wonderful dishes.  I also enjoy heading to the English Market and meeting suppliers”. 

Her aim now is make the Oyster and its food offering better known among the public. We caught up with Kate after a lovely meal in the Oyster and enjoyed this chat.



I know you were sad to leave Fenn’s Quay. But you’re still on familiar ground and things have worked out well?
 After a little break after closing Fenn’s, it felt right to take on the role in the Oyster with its history and of course its location on Market Lane into the English Market. It’s taken me a few months to settle into new surroundings but, with the support of Bob (general manager) Dee (restaurant manager ) and Chris Curtin (assistant head chef)  and team, menus are coming together nicely. 

What direction is cooking here at The Oyster taking? What can we expect in the near future?
It’s very much a simple approach to good quality produce sourced within the English Market with a few Fenn’s classics popping up such as the flourless chocolate pudding  and the warm chicken salad on the lunch. There is a big emphasis on steaks and fish which will continue to evolve with the seasons. 

How did you start in the business? Was there a good cook at home or other family inspiration?
 Having taken up Home Ec in Secondary School my first summer job was in a cafe kitchen aged 16. I really enjoyed it, the cooking, the creating, so it was suggested I apply to what was then Cert in Cork Institute of Technology and the rest you could say is history. In later years I returned to complete a degree in Culinary Arts. 

Do you shout in the kitchen?
I tend not to. I learnt early on I didn’t like being shouted at and therefore I shouldn’t shout at someone, it only makes the situation worse. 

The importance of prepping. Do you ever have enough time in the kitchen?  
Some days are easier than others. There is  a great saying “mise en place saves your ass “ and it’s true. Still, you do have days when you feel you’re never on top of it but, with a great team behind you, you get there in the end.

Sourcing and provenance is important to you?
For me it is. It may cost a bit more but it’s worth it as I like to know the person behind the products and learn about how it’s made 

Have you ever come up with a dish by accident, a fluke?
Specials for me are always a bit of a fluke as always last on the prep list. Recently I cooked some pearl barley with carrots onions and some fennel seeds, added cabbage & prawn & a dash of lemon served with turbot & butternut squash purée. It truly was a dish I was super proud of.  

Meat as back-up, not the main feature in a dish? Will that happen?
Attitudes to food are changing but still our meat sales outweigh the vegetarian at present so I can’t see that happening. 

What non-Irish cuisine do you like most?
At present Japanese. Its clean flavours in the broths and the precision is mesmerising .

What is the best meal you’ve ever had?
Hard to pick out one in particular. Really enjoyed Nathan Outlaw and JP McMahon's collaboration in Aniar, Purnell's in Birmingham , 1826 in Adare. But best in the last 12 months was when I collaborated with Derry Clarke’s menu at the Oyster last November. 

Kate is set to star, along with Donegal's Gary O'Hanlon, in the first episode of a new RTE cooking series called Healthy Appetite, which is all about good food.  Episode one kicks off on RTE1 on Wednesday, April 18th at 8.30pm. 


See A Specials Evening at The Oyster Tavern.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Winemason do Spit in Cork. My focus on Riesling and Portugal


The Winemason do Spit in Cork. 
My focus on Riesling and Portugal

Soizic (Les Gourmandise) with Ben
Last week, one hundred bottles of “wine without make-up” were up for tasting in the River Lee Hotel thanks to the combined efforts of four Dublin wine companies. Spit, as the combination is called, consists of Winemason, Nomad Wine, Vinostito, and Grapecircus and virtually all the wines were organic. And there wasn't a dud among them. In this post, we’ll look at Ben Mason and his Winemason contribution.


Winemason is owned by Barbara Boyle (MW) and Ben and they provide restaurants and independent retailers with original and distinctive wines from Germany, Portugal (a favourite), Austria Spain, France, Italy and South Africa. “We are constantly evolving with the ever-changing wine world and we work to reflect this in the wines we sell.”

Graham was helping Ben in the River Lee and I asked him if there was a wine on the stand that deserved to be better known, one that was maybe under-appreciated at present, and he soon filled me a taster of the Julien Schaal Mountain Vineyards Chardonnay 2016. The winery is in Elgin Ridge, South Africa, the winemaker is “from Alsace” and the wine itself is very pleasantly distinctive. Crisp on the palate with citrusy flavours and minerality, tart on the finish, very engaging indeed.

I had picked a trio of Rieslings and started with one from the Nahe region, the ES Trocken 2016 by Emrich Schonleber. Quite intense on the palate, with a light spiciness and outstanding minerality. My favourite kind of Riesling.
Chardonnay to note
from South Africa

The next Riesling came from the Mosel and was the Zeppelin (Mulheim) 2016 by Max Ferdinand Richter. Apparently this wine was served on the flying Zeppelins. This too is elegant, no shortage of minerality, well balanced, and it is the tropical nature of the fruit flavours that catches your attention.

And, if we were in the skies for the Zeppelin, we now moved up a notch to the Kingdom of Heaven with the JJ Prum Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Kabinett 2016, the Himmelreich being the heaven. Here the aromas are a subtle but tempting floral, it is soft and fruity right through to a sustained finalé. Quite a hat trick of Rieslings there!

Ben had a superb selection of reds also but again I focused on a hat trick, all from Portugal, an area where Winemason is strong though Ben has noted that prices are rising there. First up was the Mouchao Dom Rafael Tinto 2015 from Alentejo, a blend of Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Trincadeira. Ripe dark fruits and tannins, a bit of spice too, combine in a rich and complex wine. 
Zeppelin

Next we called to the Lisbon area and tasted the Fossil Tinto 2015 by Vale da Capucha, an organic producer; this a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Syrah. Rich dark fruits, hints of spice, fresh and elegant, and with a long dry finish. Excellent.

Then I enjoyed very much the Niepoort Vertente 2015 from the Douro, enjoyed it as Graham sang its praises: the rich blend (Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional and others), its long dry finish. “And it’s low in alcohol as well,” he said. It’s a gem, elegant and smooth. One to stock up on before those prices rise or even when they do!

Would have loved to have stayed longer and tried more of the Winemason wines, including those from Austria and South Africa, but time to move on up the line! Here’s to the next Spit.


Read about Nomad Wines at Spit here
Read about Vinostito at Spit here 
About  Grapecircus here


Friday, April 13, 2018

Frogs Attack #1. Do It Again. Soon!


Frogs Attack #1. Do It Again. Soon!

They came. They saw. They conquered. They, collectively the Frogs Attack, being two pioneering natural winemakers (Jean Foillard and Thierry Puzelat), a guerrilla chef (Antony Cointre) and a comedian (Sebastien Barrier) and they cornered their willing victims in a packed Latitude 51. 
Cork’s leading wine bar was the ideal venue for the French influenced evening. Beverley and her staff caught the informal spirit of the occasion perfectly and we wined and dined, and laughed a lot too. 

Hard to keep up with Sebastien as he roamed between the two floors. He even wandered outside at one stage, startling the customers by banging on the window and, with his phone, taking photos of the surprised faces. We were wondering was the ebullient funny man in trouble a few minutes later when a couple of cops appeared at the door but nothing to do with Sebastien!

May I introduce Jean Foillard to you, via Le Caveau catalogue: A vigneron like Jean Foillard doesn’t come around too often. Jean Foillard and his wife Agnès started their handkerchief-size domain in Morgon in the 1980’s when the majority of appellation, driven by big negoces, were (and are still) producing industrial wines. Undeterred by their surroundings, Jean and Agnès decided to embark on their own path. They returned to honest vine growing and wine making the way their grandparents did. The vines are grown organically. The same attention is paid in their cellar. There are no additives in the cellar to hide shortcuts in the vineyards because there are no shortcuts in the vineyards. The hand-harvested grapes are fermented using natural yeasts only. 
Cooking done and Le Gros relaxes 

And, quoting from the same source, Thierry Puzelat: Having met and worked with Francois Dutheil (Bandol) and Marcel Lapierre (Morgon), two pioneers of the ‘natural’ wine movement, Thierry decided he too, wanted to make his wines as naturally as possible. Puzelat’s wines are quite unique, they are highly expressive of their terroir, authentic, filled with life and have very strong personality.
Le Caveau borrowed, as we do here, this quote from Jamie Goode: ‘Thierry and Jean-Marie Puzelat—brothers—are natural wine royalty. They are making some of the Loire’s most interesting wines and are at the heart of the natural wine movement.’
Behind the counter: Jules and Beverley

And the wines really are superb. The night’s list: Thierry’s Clos du Tue Boeuf, blanc and rouge, and the three Morgons from Jean, all 2016, including his “Cote du Py” and the “Corcelette”. And to make things even better, they were available at shop (rather than restaurant) prices. A nice touch that!

According to his website, Antony Cointre, aka Le Gros, is not an ordinary chef, he is an enthusiastic cookHe does not have a permanent restaurant because he likes to change atmosphere and to touch lots of different audiences. …. making tasting meals in 10 steps at home for 6 or popular banquets of 650 people or even weddings in unlikely conditions. 

And Le Gros, in the tiny kitchen, came up with some tasty dishes at L’Atitude. They included a Feta and Kumquat starter, then a Monkfish carpaccio with Harissa sauce, three French cheeses with date, and dessert of chocolate and, believe or not, rhubarb.
Sebastien attacks the window!

In between the six courses, Sebastian kept us entertained and joined up with some Irish friends to play some tunes. And all the time, we were sipping and enjoying those natural wines, the real stars of the show!

I’ll finish with a message to the frogs: Please attack us again, soon!