Showing posts with label Dingle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dingle. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

A Right Royal Progress Through The Kingdom


A Right Royal Progress Through The Kingdom
The view from Bray Head walk

With the best of lodgings booked, her majesty and myself headed off to the Kingdom of Kerry one sunny morning in July. The natives were friendly and we were well watered and fed in the triangle between Killarney, Valentia and Dingle.

After a superb lunch at the well-appointed and newly established Kingdom 1795 in Killorglin , we drove on south-west to the Island of Valentia. The plan was to take the spectacular walk on Bray Head. So we paid our two euro (no royal exceptions, apparently) in the car park and headed up.
On Valentia

Old Barracks, Cahersiveen
And up, and up. All the time, the views (including the Skelligs) kept improving as we, and quite a few others, took the path towards the top. We came back the same way we went up, didn't do the full loop. On the way down, just managed to stop a doctor (the fly) from biting my arm. Haven't see one of those in years.

Back on the road and next stop was the nearby town of Cahersiveen. Had a little walk around here, taking in the massive church of Daniel O’Connell (The Liberator), the impressively restored Old Barracks (must do a detailed visit next time) and the monks in a boat sculpture on the way out of town. No plaque on that sculpture and I’m not certain if it is to do with monks rowing out to the Skelligs or St Brendan and company heading to America. Anyone enlighten me?
Glenbeigh Hotel

By the time we reached Glenbeigh we were rather thirsty so called into the small Glenbeigh Hotel for a reviving drink in the dark and old-fashioned but popular bar.

Time was running out so we headed to base for the night. And what a base the Hotel Europe proved to be. Amazing space and comfort here. But we were soon on the road again, heading for a 7.00pm dinner in Malarkey’s the new stomping ground in Killarney of expert chef Seamus O'Connell (ex Ivory Tower).

Back to base, well back to the Europe’s exceptionally comfortable bar, its friendly staff and its drinks list as long as your arm. Thought I’d treat myself to a cocktail and the Brandy Alexander fitted the bill after the multi-course meal in Malarkey’s.

The hotel is huge, 180 rooms, and we saw many of the guests at breakfast in the amazing Panorama restaurant the following morning, panorama because it boasts great views of the beautiful lakes. Must be hard to cater for that many people. The Europe uses the buffet method to good effect. Good but, unlike the rest of the operation, hardly five-star.
Chocs in Crinkle Store, Dingle

Still, we were fed, and fit enough for the second leg of the progress. Off we went to Slea Head, a popular spot for us and for many many more. July may not be the best time to drive that narrow road, especially if you have Italy’s slowest driver in front of you! Thought they were all super fast. So much for stereotypes!

After that trip it was back to Dingle for lunch at the packed Boatyard on the waterfront. Not bad at all but I thought my crab claws were excessively expensive, almost 17 euro for six with a little salad, chorizo and garlic butter. A fairly basic dish by comparison with what I got in the excellent Pier 26 in Ballycotton a week before: at least 10 claws, superbly prepared and presented, for just €12.00. 
Slea Head

High Notes. Dingle
After a look at the weekly market - it was closing up at that stage - and  a little shopping around town, we headed back. We could see Inch Strand ahead, lots of activity there, so we stopped and enjoyed a good stroll, taking in all the activity on the water, on the sand, and even in the air (kite-flying). Amazing the amount of cars and vans and campers that were parked on the beach. But where else could they park?

No big rush to turn around quickly at the Europe this time. They have an fantastic display of flowering shrubs here, all the way on through the drive and then all around the various sections of the car park. Top class.
Inch Beach
Brandy cocktail Europe

Our dinner that evening was in Nick’s in Killorglin… I’m saying “nothing at all”. Back in the marvellous hotel, we had a wander through the fantastic lounge areas, areas (including the library) that are well used, before ending up with our friends in the bar. Drinks this time included a Negroni (I do rather like that cocktail), some local beers from Killarney Brewing Company and that non alcoholic cider by Cronin’s (another Kerry company).

All good things come to an end and the following morning we had to settle up but thanks to the children’s generous present (for our recent 50th) we didn’t have to dig too deep at all!

How about this? On the way back, we were in traffic on the bridge in Macroom - not as bad as it can be - when we saw a heron standing on the parapet, calmly watching the cars go by!

Also on this trip: Malarkey in Killarney
Kingdom 1795 Killorglin

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Skipper’s Next Port? Bon Voyage

The Skipper’s Next Port? 
Bon Voyage
Seafood Gratin

For the last eight years or so, The Skipper restaurant has been moored at Ventry, overlooking the nearby Atlantic Ocean. And fish from that ocean, delightfully cooked, has drawn customers here from near and far. 

But, aside from one or two farewell parties, dinner on September 30th may well prove to be the final fling for The Skipper, at least in this location. If a move is a must, and it looks like it, then owner-chef Paddy Chauvet, better known as Paddy The Irishman, may well turn up somewhere else on the peninsula, though Dingle town itself doesn't seem to be in the running.

But there were no tears, out-front at least, last Saturday night week, lots of humour among the front-of-house if anything. And the blackboard was, as always, in use. The pier is only 100 metres away and so the menu is subject to frequent change. If you're a meat-eater, you'll be catered for - Boeuf Bourguignon was on the menu. And there was even a Vegetarian Dish of the Day.

The wine-list seemed a bit run-down, there were red marks indicating “all gone” but there was still enough on the exclusively French list to satisfy most tastes. As it happened, I left the wine and picked a local beer, the delicious Beal Bán from the West Kerry Brewery which is less than three miles away.

The use of fruit pieces in the salads was a bit unexpected, CL first to be surprised when she started her Smoked Salmon Salad. It was excellent, the fish perfect, the leaves fresh as can be and nicely dressed and the melon and grapes provided an extra dimension.

The wind was blowing hard outside and my Seafood Bisque starter was nicely warm and full of flavour, and wouldn’t have been out of place on a seafront café in Marseilles.
Ray wing

Service was excellent here, casual but efficient, and always a chat or a joke and soon the mains were arriving. I picked the Ray Wing, not usually found on Irish menus.  It came with a caper cream sauce and rustic potatoes, leaves and fruit pieces of course. Quite enjoyable and, like most dishes here, well priced too.

CL's pick was the Seafood Gratin, a rather pedestrian name for what turned out to be a lovely dish. The gratin was presented in two large scallop shells with rustic potatoes, leaves and fruit pieces. All the leaves by the way were as fresh as could be and well dressed.


And there was fruit too in the dessert but different! We were unlucky that the French Apple Tart was off so shared the Raspberry and Strawberry Fool. We wouldn’t go back especially for that but would certainly follow The Skipper around the peninsula for his superb savoury stuff. And more so, if they leave those back-breaking church seats behind! Bon Voyage, Skipper!


See Also:


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Out of the Blue. And only out of the blue!

Out of the Blue

And only out of the blue!

Out of the Blue, the restaurant with the colourful beach-hut style frontage on Dingle’s waterfront, is a fish restaurant. Nothing else. So, if there’s no fresh fish, there is no opening. They have a few sample menus on their tidy website but you won't know what is really on offer until you get there, indeed, they themselves profess not to know until the boats come in. So it is always something of a surprise, but never a let-down.

Do book in advance though especially when there is a festival in town. We were there last weekend and reserved a table for Friday night, the night that the Food Festival launched. You don't get a menu in your hand. A large blackboard is positioned on a nearby chair and you are given plenty of time to consider the long list, everything from mussels to lobster, from pollack to black sole. We made our choices as we sipped a glass of cool prosecco.
Curried plaice

If the outside looks like a hut, the inside is solid and comfortable, lots of paintings hanging there, including a lovely Currach by local artist Liam O'Neill. We had time to look around before the starters arrived.

Pan fried curried plaice fillet with mango salsa was CL’s choice. And mine was the Duo of home cured and smoked salmon with citrus dressing. Indeed, it was an agreed choice and we went half and half. Both were excellent, the salmon smooth and easy, the plaice enhanced by the mild curry treatment.
Salmon

Jean Marie Vaireaux has been chef here for the past ten years - he has been in Dingle for much longer - and we noticed that was demoing his Scallops flambéed with Calvados on the following day. We didn't pick that as a mains as we thought we’d catch him at St Jame’s Church, the demo venue for the festival. But we got side-tracked by the Taste Trail!

Back to Out of the Blue and the mains, where there were many choices. Mine was the Char-grilled Halibut fillet with garlic butter. An excellent dish, superbly cooked and delivered to the table.
Halibut

I enjoyed that and CL was very happy indeed with her Pan fried Plaice fillet with Ratatouille Provençal, another simple dish, superbly executed.

Oh, almost forgot, We have wine. The list is large enough to cover most tastes and the majority of the wines are European.  Not a great fan of Picpoul de Pinet but the Cave L’Ormarine Preambule from the Languedoc could change my mind! Crisp, smooth, fruity, and mouth-watering, it proved an excellent match all through.

Dessert? Tempted yes, but in the end settled on a share of the cheese offering that featured Gubbeen and Crozier Blue and we finished off with that and a glass of port. Delicious end to a lovely evening and then a short stroll back to the hotel.


See Also:



Monday, October 2, 2017

Dingle Weather Or Which? Ignore Forecast. Just Go!

Dingle Weather Or Which?
Ignore Forecast. Just Go!
Louis Kennedy Pottery

We have an ex Dingle woman as a neighbour in Cork and if she hears we’re heading for the peninsula, she says: “Why go, it will be covered in fog. That’s why I left.” The weather forecasts can be equally discouraging. My advice, based on years of practice, is to ignore both Mrs Flaherty and the forecasters. Just go and enjoy yourself.

Our latest examples came last Friday. Rain was forecast for early afternoon. It didn't come until about seven in the evening. Here's what we did in the meantime.

We had been in Dingle since the day before but had some time to ourselves on Friday. First stop was the beach at Ventry, wild, windy and beautiful, the sky a gorgeous blue. Great for a walk to clear the cobwebs from the night before. 

On then to the magnificent Slea Head, along with a few cars and even fewer buses. What a magnificent sight under that clear blue sky. Loads of big waves rolling in, crashing on the sharp rocks and sending sun-lit white foam bubbling towards the sands. What a son et lumière.

And then more of the same as we continued around the peninsula. Waited for the one shower of the morning to pass before walking up on Clogher Head to a point where we had a fantastic view of Ceann Sibeál and the various bays nearby, the waves crashing wild and white against the rocks. Magnificent.

Time now for a snack. We had already passed the Blasket Centre (where we’ve often snacked in the past) so carried on a wee bit and stopped at the Louis Mulcahy café in the famous pottery. Just a little snack, tea and a scone (apple and cinnamon), and soon we were shopping for a tea-pot, a lovely piece that was well wrapped up for us. Actually that took quite a leisurely while as we had a great chat with the gentlemen serving us.
Slea Head

Luke, Sharon, Zack.
Back then to Dingle and to the The Backyard at Blas, a new “club” for people involved in the event. Here, whether you’re a judge or producer, you could have a cuppa and catch up on the latest news. There were also some more formal talks about various aspects of a small food producer’s business, part of the #BOIFoodseries.

We were at the Be Social event, designed to be a MASTERBlast of social media tips with the #Blas2017 Twitter Fairy, Sharon Noonan, who was joined on stage by Zack Gallagher (@Irishfoodguide) and Luke Burgess of Bean in Dingle Coffee shop. They were trying to influence those producers who are too busy in the kitchen or the yard to have anything to do with social media.

Zack says he took to social media “like a duck to water” and wants producers and chefs to go on Twitter and promote modern Irish food by using hash tags such as #Irish and #food. Luke is more an Instagram fan as it has a focus on younger people and the cafe can show their “fun attitude”.

“Get a website,” said Zack "and use the other platforms to drive traffic to you. We have too many amazing producers who are scared of social media.” Sharon advised to “be yourself. Don't leave social media to an intern.”
Walking down to beach by Slea Head

It could hardly be expected that a 20 minute session would be a blow by blow learning experience for the audience but the over-riding message was that if you are a producer or restaurant who needs to sell (is there another kind?) then you do need to get that website up and need to use either Twitter or Facebook to engage with possible customers, not to bluntly ram your big selling points down their channels but to at least let them know that you are operating and where and when they can find you.
Aussie takes us on tour at Dick Mack's new brewhouse

Next port of call was to Dick Mack’s on Green Street. Not to see the famous pub but to visit the newly unveiled Dick Mack’s Brewery in the yard. Here, an old cowshed dating back over 150 years, has been transformed into Ireland's newest brewery. So new that the samples we were drinking were all first batches.

And the three friends, Aussie, Finn and Seamus, who set up the brewery, while understandably a little nervous as the gang arrived, were soon smiling as the compliments started to flow for their three beers: a Session IPA, an Amber Ale and a Coffee Stout. All were excellent and, during the tour, Aussie promised they'd be getting even better, though hard to see how that delicious stout can be improved.  
Slea Head

With such a promising start this is surely a brewery to watch. Initially, the beer will be on sale in Dick Mack’s but you may except it to travel, and travel well, in the not too distant future. Watch this space!
Ceann Sibeál (top left)

The tour finished just in time for us to head down town to Out of the Blue on the waterfront for a lovely fish dinner - separate post to follow! Back then to our hotel, The Dingle Bay, for the Food Festival Opening Night party. Paudie’s Bar was packed and rocking with the 7-piece Limerick band Trees Fall Down setting the pace, picked up eagerly by the punters (including a  lively bunch of Germans On Tour! ) Great day. Great Night. Great Town.
Beach at Slea Head
See also: 72 Tastes of Dingle  Out of the Blue Dingle The Skipper, Ventry




Friday, October 7, 2016

If Any Beer Can, Franciscan Well Can!



If Any Beer Can, Franciscan Well Can!
Ireland’s favourite craft beer now available in can

During last weekend’s Dingle Food Festival, I called into the craft beer tent, at the back of Geaney's Bar in Main Street, last Saturday afternoon and was immediately at home as the first stall was that of the Franciscan Well. They were showing their new cans, three of my favourite beers all wrapped up and looking good and shiny.


But I delayed testing the cans as they also had the beers on tap and we enjoyed a Rebel Red (by now a veteran, a veteran that has stood the test of time!) and Chieftain IPA. By the way, I noted the Rebel Red was very popular in Dick Mack's pub during the previous evening. The Rebel and the Chieftain are now available in cans along with the Friar Weisse. The cans will be sold in retailers and off-licences across Ireland, with selected bars also stocking the products.

The announcement marks the first time Franciscan Well, which is brewed in Cork, has canned any of its beers and also the first time that Friar Weisse or Chieftain IPA will be available for purchase in off-licenses.

Acknowledging the rising consumer demand for delicious, flavoursome craft beer in a canned format, founder of Franciscan Well, Shane Long, has spear-headed the move which demonstrates the progressive and innovative thinking which has underlined the success of the Cork-based brewery over the past 18 years.

Commenting on the launch, Shanesaid: “This is a very exciting development for Franciscan Well. Taste and quality are among our core beliefs and we always prioritise ways to ensure that these core traits are present in the beer we create. The decision to move to a canned format reflects the growing trend internationally, whereby more and more craft beers are sold in 330ml can format. This is something that has been prevalent in the U.S. and has proven extremely popular. We are confident this will be the case as we roll out craft in a can for beer-lovers here in Ireland, making our award-winning range of beers even more accessible and readily available.”

All brewing and canning will take place at Franciscan Well’s new brewery in Cork City. The brewery opened last year, allowing for operational growth and further expansion for Ireland’s leading craft beer brand, while staying true to Franciscan Well’s proud history and identity as one of Ireland and Cork’s favourite craft beers. The nearby North Mall brew-pub and home of Franciscan Well will be used an innovation centre, while remaining a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

This decision from the award-winning Cork Brewery is in keeping with internationally recognized best practice for freshness and taste, with cans providing superior product packaging quality and recyclability.
Yes. We can.

The introduction of the Franciscan Well can range also highlights Franciscan Well’s commitment to offering fans a more accessible and convenient means to enjoy the award-winning range in the comfort of their own homes. They protect and preserve the taste of the beer, which is considered a telling feature by the Franciscan Well brewers. They are also lightweight and portable, meaning they are easier for consumers to enjoy in more places and for bars and off licences to display. The new cans also chill quickly and are recyclable.

“We are very excited about this latest innovation for Franciscan Well, coming as it does less than a year after the opening of our new brewery in Cork,” said Shane Long. “Since its introduction, craft beer in a can has proven extremely popular with consumers. It is a very handy, portable way of consuming the beer and one that preserves the taste better than any other. We are delighted to be able to offer consumers the chance to enjoy our award winning beers in an increasingly popular format in the comfort of their own home.”

In addition to the launch of its all new canned beer offering, Franciscan Well has also introduced a newly redesigned brand logo.

Shane continued: “The new logo more clearly reflects the provenance of the brand and its roots in Cork. The new identity and logo retains the strength of the previous logo, while emphasizing that this is very firmly an Irish beer which was established in Cork and which is still brewed there. We believe that the heritage of Franciscan Well is extremely important and it is something we are very proud of.

“The new brand logo positions Franciscan Well as an authentic Craft brewery from Cork, Ireland. The archway is a new devise that has been created to highlight a strong sense of place, that is welcoming and which captures the unrivalled heritage associated with the brewery founding site along with the welcoming aspect of our range of beers.”



*AC Nielsen ROI On-Trade MAT to end August 2016

Post based on press release


Monday, October 3, 2016

Spirit of Dingle Coming Soon

Spirit of Dingle Coming Soon.

ap1200549On the 18th of December 2012, a week before Christmas, the Dingle Distillery started making whiskey. You may well see the results around this Christmas, as the whiskey has now served more than the necessary three years and one day in 700 litre capacity oak barrels.  The period time, the oak and the barrel size are all mandatory, we were told on a tour during last weekend’s Dingle Food Festival.
It looks as if it may be a Happy Christmas for Dingle and for the “Founding Fathers”. These pioneers could also be called the Funding Fathers as it was their money that got the project off the ground, each offering up about six thousand euro for a cask in his or her own name. We saw quite a few of the barrels during the tour and there is also a founding fathers’ wall with all the names inscribed.



ap1200554
Making Gin and Vodka, in Irish

The Spirit of Dingle, with the mouth of the harbour featured, is the name of a painting by a local artist that inspired the setting up of the distillery. And that view can be seen from the gates of the distillery which stands on the western edge of the town.
Like all whiskeys, Dingle’s goes through three main stages: fermentation, distillation and maturation. Yeast is added during fermentation and when it sinks to the bottom, that is the end of the fermentation (see timber fermentation vessels in 2x pic slideshow at bottom). By the way, if you can manage a sniff of a vessel when the yeast is active, it is a great way to clear a stuffy nose! Just don’t overdo it – it is potent!
At end of fermentation, the incipient whiskey has an abv of about 10 % , much like a very strong beer. By the end of the next stage the distilling, the abv has risen to 80 or 85%. It is “cut” with water later to bring the strength down to the normal 40%.
The process in Dingle though is distinguished by the use of a boil bowl on two of the copper stills. This gives what you need for nice, smooth spirit: plenty of reflux. This  built-in bulge (see 2 x pic slide show below) in the neck  – other stills have long slim necks – means the vapour doesn’t all rise right up and condense beyond the drop. You need it to condense and fall back into the still a few times before it eventually condenses and drips into the receiver. And so, to get this smooth spirit before maturation, was why  Dingle modified their still design.
I didn’t know that barrels used for the maturation of Irish whiskey had to be a certain size but I did know that the barrels have already been used elsewhere, “secondhand” as our guide Shane termed it. The barrels used most in Dingle have previously held Bourbon, Port, and Sherry. By the way, there is a constant evaporation during maturation, the often quoted Angels’ Share.
Shane then showed us a smaller area where their gin and vodka are produced in a much simpler way, though the gin process “is a little bit more difficult”.  Interestingly, Dingle uses no less than 13 botanicals in their very popular gin. All the bottling is done on site.
And the site has been in use, on and off, since 1840 when it started life as a flour mill. I spotted an old mill-wheel in storage. A fire destroyed this first business and later, in 1914, a lumber firm took over.
We were then taken to the tasting room and introduced to the main ingredients: malted barley, milled barley and yeast. Here, we enjoyed a taste of the vodka and the gin. No whiskey to taste, of course, but we did get a drop of the “raw spirit” with an abv of about 65%. Hot stuff, yet it tasted quite smooth  – “a good sign” said Shane.


Good things to come, then, from those whiskey casks. All at Dingle and, indeed a wider audience, are looking forward to the day in the very near future when Cask No. 2 is opened. (Cask No. 1 will be kept closed in perpetuity!). Happy Christmas with the spirit of Dingle!

See also: Driving the Dingle Peninsula
Dingle and its massive Food Festival

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Kinsale Gourmet Academy.

The Kinsale Gourmet Academy
Speaking at the launch were (clockwise from top left)
 David Rice, Lord Mayor Alan Coleman,
Des McGahan and Ross Lewis.
Ross Lewis, the Cork-born Michelin star winning chef and co-owner of Dublin restaurant Chapter One, spoke of his early visits to Kinsale as he launched the spanking new Kinsale Gourmet Academy at Ballinacurra House on Tuesday.

“Kinsale was the only place where you could get coffee in 1978. That was in the Blue Haven, on Saturdays and Sundays only. And it was a bonus if you got a scone, left over from Saturday!”

Ross has a great admiration for the area and especially for Martin Shanahan of Fishy Fishy. At the Chef’s Table in Chapter One, they often have US visitors and these visitors were regularly asked if they were visiting Kinsale. And the usual answer was: Yes, we are going to Fishy, Fishy. Now Ross asks the visitors if they will visit Kinsale, after visiting Fishy Fishy.

Ballinacurra Head Chef David Rice heads up the new purpose built and very well equipped academy. David “missed medicine by about 600 points” and started his culinary career washing potatoes (with an occasional promotion to making sandwiches) in the Blue Haven.

Limerick man David eventually worked under Ross at Chapter One. “What that man taught me. Unbelievable!” He obviously taught David a respect for the country’s artisan producers and the Kinsale academy will showcase their work.
The sea featured in both demo dishes
“There will be a variety of courses, including one day, two day, and five day courses, that will be both for learning and relaxing! Next year, we intend to set up a professional course of a much longer duration. I really appreciate this evening’s turnout.”

Cork County Mayor Alan Coleman and owner Des McGahan also spoke at the well-attended launch, both with great humour and that trend continued when Ross and David took the mike. And indeed, it was a feature throughout the cookery demonstration that the pair undertook in the academy itself.

It was a lovely evening in a magical place. Some beautiful canapes and later there were pizzas from the brick oven and cocktails from the newly opened Cuban Bar. The Cuban Cocktail Lounge has authentic paraphernalia and original objects de art items sourced directly from Cuba. It’s the perfect Rum Shack for Havana Club based Mojitos, Cuba Libras, Daiquiris and more.

A large focus for the Academy will be building on Ballinacurra’s reputation for catering for private groups and corporates. Owners Des and Lisa McGahan will work with them to design a bespoke course to suit their needs and objectives, level of capability, and so forth. It will include a teambuilding element, adding in meeting time or other activities.

Individuals will also be able to book into scheduled courses which will range in duration from a half day upwards. Classes will be kept small to ensure the students receive the best quality and one-to one tutoring possible. The Academy has been purpose built with the students in mind,  8 double workstations where 16 students can work hands-on. There is also an instructors island with the top-of-the-range induction hob for demonstrations.

Ross and David show it's done!


"Ballinacurra House and Kinsale have become synonymous with fabulous food for many years.
The new Gourmet Academy will further strengthen Kinsale’s reputation as the ‘culinary’ capital’. It was one the key factors missing in Kinsale’s bid as ‘Foodie Capital of Ireland’ and we feel it’s the final piece of the jigsaw which will further add to the prestige of the town,” said Des.


Ballinacurra House, in a rural area on the edge of the town, is set within a walled garden with 10 foot-high stone walls, security gates and 40 acres of  woodland and lawns. This elegant country mansion brings back old-world opulence and personal service in a unique and totally private environment. “Our exclusive-use estate allows you the opportunity to share your experiences or special occasion with friends, family or peers in magical ambient surrounds, without compromise.” If you have a corporate event or a family event coming up, why not check it all out here.


Tel: +353 (0)21 4779040


Dingle School
Just about two weeks earlier, I had attended the opening, by Neven Maguire, of the Dingle Cookery School. This is another magnificent facility with a team of excellent chefs in charge of a large range of courses, everything from a half day Catch and Cook course to a four week evening course on Ethnic Cookery. And they also have a couple of Pop-Up Restaurant nights scheduled, including one for Halloween.


See the Autumn/Winter courses at www.dinglecookeryschool.com.

Tel: +353 (0)86 8723521.