Showing posts with label Crozier Blue. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Crozier Blue. Show all posts

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Ballymaloe Box illustrates dining “At Home” gets better and better.

Ballymaloe Box illustrates dining “At Home” gets better and better.


Dining “At Home” just keeps getting better and better. Our latest box, from Ballymaloe House, was just superb, from the beautiful presentation, to the quality of the produce, to the ease of putting it on the table once you had it At Home! 

Ballymaloe by the way are just getting into their stride on this front as this is just their second “At Home”. The meal underlined the quality that the Ballymaloe kitchen, under Head Chef Dervilla, turns out day after day, course after course.

Beef Cheek

The star factor began at Ballymaloe itself, the box coming decorated with freshly picked tulips, which, once home, were quickly found a role as a table decoration. No bother involved and no bother later on either as only the main course required any heating at all and here the meat and potatoes were each timed to come to perfection at the same time. Some “At Homes” are much trickier, more troublesome.

But first, the starter, featuring asparagus that was picked that morning by gardener Mags in the Ballymaloe walled garden along with the garlic and rocket leaves, was already cooked for us. Better give you the full description: First of our season’s Walled Garden Asparagus Salad, Wild Garlic, Lemon Olive Oil, Roast Grantstown Cherry Tomatoes and Pine Nuts. So we assembled this, according to instructions. Very easy, every simple and simply delicious along with some Ballymaloe bread and their rich Jersey Butter. A great start and that standard continued all through.

Ballymaloe Cider
also on At Home Menu

The mains: East Cork Beef Cheeks with Gremolata was the basic description. Much more than that though including Boulangéres & Thyme Potatoes, Bay Scented Carrots, Mushrooms & Tarragon and that garden salad (which we lightly tossed with their Honey & Muscatel Vinegar Dressing). Finally, the Beef was sprinkled with the Gremolata. Again, totally pleased with this one, perhaps the best beef cheeks we’ve had in a long time.

The additions here were crucial and most came in their own little glass jars. As did the dessert: Panna Cotta and Espresso Jelly with Pistachio Langues de Chat. A very impressive Panna Cotta with that jelly a star. Happy out after that, like the cat that got the cream!

We did, by the way, take decent gaps between the courses, savouring the earlier ones and looking forward to what was to come. Next was the the cheese course. And, of course, it featured an all Irish line-up: St Tola Goat (from County Clare), Coolea Cow (from hills above Ballyvourney, Co. Cork) and Crozier Blue Sheep (from the Grubb family, the same people that make Cashel blue in rural Tipperary), all accompanied by Ballymaloe Cheese Biscuits and Membrillo Paste (each perfect and perfectly suited to the plate).

And that wasn’t quite it. There was a little jar of truffles, though to be honest, they were kept to go with the mid-morning coffee on the following day!

The box also contained next week’s menu:

Ballycotton Day Boat Crab and Garden Asparagus with Lemon Aioli;

Ballymaloe White Bread and Farm Butter;

Free Range Duck Breast & Ballymaloe Pork Belly with Marsala Jus, Wild Garlic Mash;

Bay Scented Carrots & braised Garden Green Onion, Shanagarry Green salad with Rosé Vinegar & Honey Dressing.

Chocolate St Emilion with Cocoa Nib Nougatine & Cream.

Fancy that? Order online or ring 021 4652531.

Just about to tuck into dessert!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

12 Tables & Tandem Winery. In vino veritas.

12 Tables & Tandem Winery
In vino veritas.

José María Fraile

In vino veritas. And truth to tell, there was good wine, good food and good company as some fifty diners enjoyed the Tandem Winery Tasting Dinner at the 12 Tables in Douglas last Wednesday. 
The welcome drink

The truth of another Latin saying, Dove regna il vino non regna il silenzio (Where wine reigns, silence does not) was also well illustrated on the night. 

But, what’s with all the Latin boy?

It is a theme at the Navarra based winery. Tandem itself is Latin for “finally” and nothing to do with bikes while the names of the individual wines are in Latin (or derived from it): Casual, Inmacula, Ars In Vitro, Ars Nova, Macula, Ars Memoria, and Inmune.

Tandem is of much more recent vintage than the ancient Latin tongue, founded in 2003 by by Alicia Eyaralar, José María Fraile and a small group of wine-loving relatives and friends. José was in the 12 Tables having left Pamplona at 5.00am that morning on a route that brought him to Cork via Madrid and London.

He was introduced by Nicolas Sicot of O’Brien’s Wines who import the Tandem wines. “I love organising these events, love to share the wines. It's great to meet the people behind the label and delighted to have José here. Dave Farrell has worked wonders and has come up with a great menu to go with the wines.”

José admitted to being delighted with the full house. “It is incredible. I hope you enjoy the dinner and the Navarra wine. I feel very humbled and proud; it would be hard to match this crowd in Spain!”

The vineyard is quite close to Pamplona and on the northern edge of the Navarra wine region. “We like freshness and elegance and luckily we’re in the coolest part of the appellation. It is super green where we are, a big contrast with the desert in the south. The Atlantic influence, the cool summer nights and picking late in the season is good for the grapes and we get that natural acidity.” We would soon see how that acidity helped with the food pairings.

Their rosé, or at least the very first version of it, was more or less an accident and hence the name Casual. A very enjoyable accident though, as we appreciated on arrival.

The kitchen, with chef-patron Dave Farrell at the head, produced an excellent starter: Serrano wrapped Monkfish, spiced crevettes, roast pepper purée, pistachios pickled samphire and Parmesan cream. And the wine was the Immacula (meaning without blemish), a blend of mostly Viognier and 15% Viura. It is fermented in French oak (not new) and kept on its fine lees for three months to gain texture and volume. “It is very successful for us and highly rated and there is nothing of it left at the winery.” We were on a winner.

Immune was the next wine, a 100% Garnacha paired with Gubbeen Chorizo, Ardsallagh Feta, Olive Tapenade, Romesco, Physalis and Avocado Oil. “Immune, to failure, to critics!”, joked José. “This is a powerful expression of the Garnacha (the vines are 70 years old and more); great depth and structure, a stunning wine that fills the palate.” He, and we, were enjoying the meal: “Amazing dishes.”

Up next was Jack McCarthy’s black pudding rosti, caramelised Radicchio, golden beets, wild mushroom, Crozier blue cheese and aged balsamic. Quite a lot going on in that plate and José had a favourite wine to match, the Ars in Vitro (art in glass), an unfiltered, unoaked wine with fruit and fragrance and a silky palate, raised for a minimum of two years. “How wine for me should taste,” remarked Jose. 

This 2014 has been raised in concrete. “Nowadays, concrete is accepted, the epoxy lining has made the difference, more complexity, more tannins, more colour, finesse and elegance.” It is a blend of Tempranillo and Merlot.

The wines and the food reached a high point with the main course. Jose introduced his Ars Nova, a 2014 blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, fresh, fruity and long. Ageing is a minimum 24 months in concrete vats plus 9 months in 300-litre French oak barrels. “More complex, more spice and great with lamb.”

Great too with duck as it turned out as the kitchen pulled out all the stops with Tea Brined Skeaghanore Duck breast, Almond and Apricot roulade, potato confit, charred onion, baby carrots and roast shallot purée. Quite a climax.

We eased out with a Trio of Artisanal Cheese with Fig Jam. The cheeses were Roquefort, Milleens and Tipperary Cheddar and the wine was Mácula, described as “a masculine wine of good length” and a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from 2011. Tandem are slow to let their wines off to market. This, for instance, spends a minimum 24 months in concrete and 26 months in 300-litre French oak barrels.

José was delighted with the reception for his wines. “It has been an incredible dinner, fantastic being here. I'm so happy.” Nicolas thanked the kitchen and front of house at 12 Tables saying “We’ll do it again!”, a sentiment that went down well. In vino veritas.

You may view a video of José talking about Tandem and its wines here
Check the Tandem wines in stock at O’Brien’s website or just call in to Nico at their Douglas branch!
All the news, including menus, from 12 Tables in Douglas is here; also on their Facebook page.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Come Join The Cheerful Chorus at Monk’s Lane

Come Join The Cheerful Chorus at Monk’s Lane
There is almost an monastic silence as we stroll towards Monk’s Lane in the centre of Timoleague. But, open the door, and there is the happy sound of people dining. Our table is ready and soon we join the cheerful chorus.

The menu is full of promise. The sandwich section uses the best of local produce: Toons Bridge, Gubbeen, Ummera. And so it continues. In the mains and salads you see O'Neill's sausages, Crozier blue cheese and Clonakilty black and white pudding.

I spotted an Eight Degrees tap on the bar and that was just the start of the craft beers as a separate menu lists over a dozen of the best including the local Black’s of Kinsale. And the wine list is good too, quite a few available by the convenient (it was midday!) 100ml glass.

Service is excellent, knowledgeable, chatty. The furniture has touches of the ecclesiastical and there are lovely bunches of wild flowers on the tables.

It is a cold day so we start with the soups. They are very simply titled: Roast Vegetable Soup (4.50) and Spanish Fish Soup (6.50). Both are excellent but that Spanish dish is a gem, packed with fish, mussels, vegetables too, and warming spice. We get real bread and butter on the side. Great start.

CL then goes for the Lamb Quesadillas with salad and salsa fresca. You can have a small portion for eight euro and the larger one will cost 11.50. Well cooked and presented, the minced lamb was very tasty and not too spicy (no great need to use the cooling dip).
My choice was the Steak Salad and I hit the jackpot here: Seared steak salad with pecorino shavings, toasted pumpkin seeds and cherry tomatoes, all for 12.50. The steak, in strips, was plentiful and perfectly cooked and all the elements, including a robust salad, complemented each other in an explosion of flavours and textures. Compliments to the chef!

Dessert. The usual question: would we? The usual solution: we shared. And there was plenty to share when our generous slice of Apricot and Raspberry cake arrived, surrounded by some fresh fruit cubes, cream and ice-cream! Happy out, as we say around here.

We made a detour to get here. Well worth it. Very Highly Recommended.

(023) 884 6348

Friday, December 6, 2013

Fenn’s Quay. Keeping it simple. Simply Superb.

Fenn’s Quay. Keeping it simple. Simply Superb.
Our philosophy is simple, we use only the best produce from the best local suppliers and treat them with care and attention to detail.” That’s the motto used by Kate Lawlor, the Head Chef at Fenn’s Quay. And, after a very enjoyable mid week meal at the city centre restaurant, I can verify that the place lives up to the motto and indeed extends its care and attention to its customers as well.

The overall menu has been trimmed back in recent times. The quantity of dishes available may be down but the quality is as high as ever, maybe even more so. In any event the regular menu is augmented by a tempting selection of specials: a  Mezze Platter, a Fish Platter, Beef Stroganoff with Ballyhoura Mushrooms and Pan-Fried Monkfish with Spinach all featured on the night. And, I’m told that O’Mahony’s Collar of Bacon with Savoy Cabbage, Parsnip Puree and Spiced Walnuts is one of the most popular regular dishes.

As it turned out, we never got past the Early Bird Menu, Three Courses for €23.00. This is terrific value and is available Monday to Saturday 5.00 pm to 7.00 pm. You may also have a glass of wine or beer instead of the starter or dessert.

Amazing colour on my starter: Beetroot & Cork Dry Gin Cured Salmon with Goatsbridge Trout Caviar & Mixed Leaves. Fantastic flavours and textures also. CL also got off to a terrific start with Crozier Blue Cheese Mousse, Roast Butternut Squash & Red Onion with Melba Toast. I reckon Kate has raised the bar here and thrown down a challenge to other local restaurants (and chefs!).
And that challenge, all very friendly, of course, was evident in my mains: O’Mahony’s Feather Blade of Beef with Roast Root Vegetables & Dungarvan Stout Gravy. What a gem of a dish. A few simple ingredients on an uncluttered plate but put together in a simply scrumptious way, a delightful practical illustration of the philosophy of the Fenn’s Quay motto.

And that simplicity of produce (not to mention its provenance and freshness) and presentation was also very much in evidence in CL’s main plate: Grilled plaice, with braised leeks, olive oil crushed potatoes and onion puree.
Simply written. What bit don't you understand? What bit would you not enjoy? It was, of course, aided by the Fenn’s Quay kitchen alchemy, the final result delightfully adding up to more than the sum of its parts. And, this special, even if it were not part of the Early Bird, is really good value at €15.00.

Still had room for dessert and here we went with the spirit of the season and tucked into the Fenn’s Quay Mince Pies with Cream (gorgeous buttery pastry), just one each  mind you as we shared. Drinks (a white Rioja for her, a refreshing Mountain Man Green Bullet ale for me) bought the total bill to €50.00.
Fenn’s Quay is highly recommended for breakfast, lunch and dinner and do watch out for their Christmas meals as well. You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week
Crozier Blue Cheese
Cashel Blue may be better known, but Crozier Blue (left in picture), that beautiful creamy cheese made from the milk of sheep that graze under the Rock of Cashel, is up there now with its more established cousin (made with cow's milk) and a firm favourite in our house. Enjoyed it most recently at a marvellous tasting in the Food Emporium in Brown Thomas (Cork) where Colm McCan and the Ballymaloe Pop-Up Wine Shop brought the Grubb family, who make both cheeses, and Taylor's Port (represented by Chris Forbes) together. Not just a Taste of the Week. More like the Tasting of the Year. Brilliant. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cashel Blue in Safe Hands

Cashel Blue in Safe Hands
Cashel Blue, at 3 weeks. See the needle holes made to allow the blue develop
“One sunny summer’s day my daughter Sarah and I were watching my husband, Louis, herd his cows in from pasture. What a deliciously rich and creamy milk they gave! I started to experiment. Eventually, in 1984, I created Cashel Blue, a cheese I believe truly represents the outstanding quality of Tipperary milk. I hope you will agree.”

This is Jane Grubb telling how Cashel Blue cheese came into being and we do agree, as do thousands of customers worldwide, from the US to Australia, from Harrods to IKEA. “All areas of the market are supplied," Sarah told us on a recent visit. Sarah emphasises that this is a deliberate decision, as they want everyone to try their cheese, not just those that shop in elite outlets.

I should of course say cheeses as Cashel Blue has been joined by two other products, the very latest being Cashel Cream Cheese, a convenient cheese in a tub for everyday use, a mix of Cashel Blue, Natural Cream cheese and 5 per cent cream.

The other cheese is Crozier Blue. Jane’s nephew, Henry Clifton Brown, of Ballinamona Farm, overlooked by the Rock of Cashel, set about establishing a flock of milking sheep, then somewhat of a rarity in Ireland. As a result, in 1993, Crozier Blue was developed. To this day Crozier Blue is the only blue cheese made from sheep’s milk in Ireland.

Blue is doing well here on a 6 week Crozier
But back to Jane and those early days. She had decided to make cheese but didn’t know how. So she got herself a library book. Even that wasn't available locally and had to be obtained via the inter-library route. That book, lots of experiments and then the aquisition of a small vat, led to the famous Cashel Blue.

Over twenty years later, the new dairy was established near the original, farmhouse (which had become almost overwhelmed by the success) and opened in 2010 right in “one of the best fields” and locally became known as Louis’ shed. Louis is Jane’s husband and the entire family were glad to get their home back.
Some of the thousands of wheels in the Maturation Room.
 While there is no great visible signs of it in the Tipperary countryside, this is a major operation and a boon to the area. The production team now consists of about twenty members, sometimes joined by their children. And isn’t it great to have such a place to sustain the countryside, keeping the people at home. Sarah told us that some forty children under 10 live between the two local crosssroads and she finds that so encouraging for the future of the area.

The early cheesemakers too needed encouragement as they tried to find their way. And that encouragement came in the shape of an early prize and soon they were on the right path, choosing to make the blue rather than what many others were making.
The Dairy
 Cheesemaking is no easy job. Lots of muscle and hands on work is required. Cheesemaking starts at 6.00am and work goes on everyday, though they do try and keep it that bit less demanding at weekends. Still, someone has to be there 365 days a year!

We saw Geurt van den Dikkenberg, now the main cheesemaker, (by the late 1980s Jane developed a bad back, the infamous cheesemaker’s back, and so taught Geurt how to make Cashel Blue) in action with the cheese harp, drawing it through the curds and whey in large vats time after time. Not easy work at all and yes that Cheese Harp has to be re-strung from time to time.
Main cheesemaker Geurt van den Dikkenberg,
using the cheese harp.
 With all that hard work, some people would be tempted to cut corners and speed up the process. But glad to say, there is no compromise here. The quality of the milk, which is pasteurised but unhomogenised, is all important and the care that it gets from the time it it piped into the vats, through to the final wheels in the Maturation Room, is hands on.

There is of course some mechanical help with placing the mix from the vats into moulds and also with the injection of the wheels to allow the blue to occur and also the turning of the wheels but nothing whatsoever to compromise the integrity of this natural product. Find out more about the Cashel way of cheese making  here
Wheels, ready for turning

We recently enjoyed an eye-opening guided tour of the Dairy with Sarah showing the way ( and also met other members of the family who are involved, including Jane’s husband Sergio Furno and her cousin Louis Clifton Brown).  The cheesemaking operation at Beechmount Farm was in good hands from the start with Jane and her husband Louis the pioneers and is in good hands now and for the future with Jane and Sergio and their team.

Wish we had more leaders like them in this country, modest people who get on with it. It is a fascinating story, a slice of history even, and you may read more about it here

Some Beechmount facts:
·         Sixty five per cent of the cheese output is sold abroad.
·         25,000 wheels in the Maturation Room
·         Crozier is white while the Cashel as it matures tends to be more of a yellow colour.
·         The sheep milk, used for the Crozier, is heavier and that means more muscle needed especially while it is in the vats.
·         The wheels are salted by soaking in brine, the better to preserve it. Previously the salt was added by hand but soaking in the tanks of brine gives a more consistent result. You will probably notice that the edible rind is that bit more salty than the paste.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Trimbach Wines, Gubbeen and Cashel Blue

Iconic French winemaker with iconic Irish food producers
Darina Allen and Jean Trimbach

Jean Trimbach, Trimbach Wines, Alsace, France
with Giana & Fingal Ferguson, Gubbeen Farm, Cheeses & Cured Meats, Schull, Co. Cork
and Sarah & Sergio Furno, Cashel Blue & Crozier Blue Cheese, Fethard, Co. Tipperary

The Grain Store at Ballymaloe, Wednesday 4th July, 7.00pm

A special evening in Ballymaloe with Trimbach Wines, Alsace, France - family run since 1626, and listed in the Top 10 White Winemakers of the world, with their wines & stories presented by Jean Trimbach. Also alongside Jean Trimbach, will be Sarah & Sergio Furno of 'Cashel Blue & Crozier Blue Cheeses', and Giana & Fingal Ferguson, of 'Gubbeen Farm, Cheese and Cured Meats',  who will also tell us their story with a tasting of their produce, to taste alongside the wines of Trimbach.

Wednesday 4th July, 7pm, €15 (includes wine & nibbles)