Showing posts with label Dungarvan Brewing Company. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dungarvan Brewing Company. Show all posts

Monday, April 29, 2019

Picado Mexican Pop-Up. A Highlight of West Waterford Food Festival


Picado Mexican Pop-Up
A Highlight of West Waterford Food Festival

Horrible Hannah blows outside but inside Lily Ramirez-Foran and her chef friend Anthony O’Toole are cooking up a super-tasty Mexican storm as part of the 12th annual West Waterford Food Festival. A warm welcome and soon we are seated with scores more in the Causeway Tennis Club in Dungarvan.

The service began with Botana and Beer. The beer was top class stuff as always from the Dungarvan Brewing Company, who were combining for the second year running with Mexican Lily. The initial event was in the brewery but such was the demand for tickets that it was obvious a bigger venue was needed for this year.
Margarita

Back then to the Botana and Beer. Not your usual beer though! This was the Dungarvan Mine Head after a make-over, transformed into an Ale and Chili Margarita, with the aid of Hibiscus and lime. Sounded well, tasted better. And there were some tasty nibbles to go with the Déise Margarita: handmade Corn Chips, Spicy pepitas, Salsa Verde, De Arbol Salsa Roja.

Lily is the founder of Ireland's first Mexican boutique grocer and cookery school, Picado Mexican in Portobello, Dublin 2, and has been here for the past 19 years with her husband and business partner Alan Foran (also helping out on the night).
Superb starter

Anthony O’Toole is a private chef, curating one-off food and drink events for a wide range of clients. He is quite a gardener as well and this was not his first collaboration with Lili. They gave us an idea of what we would be eating for the evening and advised to use our hands (we did have a fork!) and pile up our plates as there’s not much sympathy for slow eaters in Mexico. 
Squash

Sally Barnes is a recent favourite of Anthony's and her smoked mackerel (wild, of course) featured in the Comienzo, the starter. Its full title: Sally Barnes Smoked Wild Mackerel Tostada, pickled Jalapeños, the Sea Gardeners’ Toasted Dillisk. First bite and I knew I was on a winner. A superbly made starter, a smooth combination of delicious flavours and textures.
Slaw

On then to the Taquiza, the mains. There were two and we got both, everyone did. First up was Anthony’s Crown Prince and Waltham Butternut Squash with Ancho Chili Crust, peanuts and sesame Salsa Macha, Citrus Créma, and Mexican Slaw. It may not have looked the best but scoop the squash up into the hot tortilla, add a little from the dips on the table and some of that Mexican Slaw (with lime juice, I think) and nobody around me stopped with after just one. It was excellent. 

And then came another dark offering but another superb dish: Old Farm leg of pork braised in Mine Head American Pale Ale (also by Dungarvan Brewing), Gaujillo and Mandarin Adobo Fried Jalapeno Salsa and that excellent slaw again. The pork, thinly cut and perfectly cooked, was delicious and again those tortilla warmers were empty in no time, replacements arriving just as fast as the punters dug into the irresistible deliciousness. 
Sweet Crema, Pomegranate, for your chocolate

By the way, the matching beer for the starter was the Blonde Ale and for the main course we had their Copper Coast Red. But there was plenty of beer and no compulsion. If you preferred it vice versa, that’s what you got. 

The final beer, with the Postre (dessert), was Black Rock Irish Stout. And that dessert was Tequila, Chipotle and the Proper Chocolate Company 85% Dominican Republic Chocolate Torte, with sweet créma, pomegranate, and Crystallised Hibiscus dust on the side. Quite a finalé to a lovely evening in Dungarvan. Final score: three sets to love for Lily and Anthony.

* The producers featured were Dungarvan Brewing, Old Farm fro Nenagh, Anthony O’Toole (eggs, veg and herbs), Sally Barnes Woodcock Smokery in West Cork, The Sea Gardener (Dungarvan), The Apple Farm (cider vinegar), Picado Mexican, Edible flowers by Bumble Bee Farm (Drimoleague) , and The Proper Chocolate Company (Glasnevin).


Sunday, December 30, 2018

Winter Coffee Stout Double from Rascals and Dungarvan


Winter Coffee Stout Double

Rascals Brewing Irish Coffee Stout, 4.8%, 500ml bottle 

“A collaboration with our friends over at The Dubliner Whiskey. First off we brewed delightful coffee-infused milk stout. We then aged this beauty in fresh bourbon barrels. The result is a mesmerising Irish Coffee – Stout! All the wonder of an Irish Coffee in a stout; this is magic!”

As you can see, Rascals are very happy with this collaboration. The coffee by the way comes from Irish roaster Khanya.

Coffee on the nose, whiskey on the finish, both on the creamy palate. This barrel aged beauty does what it says on the bottle and went down well with the Christmas pud.

Dungarvan Brewing Coffee and Oatmeal Stout, 4.7%, 500ml bottle  

“A rich, full-flavoured stout with lifting red berry flavours and a lasting smoothness. Perfect for the long winter evenings!”

That’s the Dungarvan summary of this lovely seasonal beer. Can’t believe though that is is the 7th edition! But that’s how long it’s been a firm favourite in this house, a winter brew made using Flahavan’s oatmeal and Badger & Dodo coffee. Coffee nose and amazing flavours including roast notes from the barley.

Rich and smooth on the palate and full of flavour all the way through to the satisfying finish. Has been excellent from Day One and this current version keeps the Dungarvan flag flying high.

By the way, I was reading on their site that they change the coffee each year. This time it is a filter brewed Ethiopian Ambela -with intense red fruit and blackberry flavours that lift the beer while muscovado sugar notes give a rich warmth. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

CorkBilly’s Drinks Digest: Wines, Spirits and Beers. A Wolf in Town!


CorkBilly’s Drinks Digest
Wines, Spirits and Beers


At The Bierhaus Cork, this Thursday, 7.30pm
Wicklow Wolf X Anspach & Hobday (London) Tap-takeover
Meet the Wicklow Wolf Team & Anspach & Hobday owner/brewer (Jack Hobday) 
3 Beers from Wicklow Wolf 
3 Beers from Anspach & Hobday 
1 Collaboration beer 
Tastings promos on the night! Details on the Bierhaus Facebook page.

and if you want more Wicklow Wolf then you’ll find them teaming up with their friends Dungarvan Brewing Company at Dungarvan’s Merrys Gastro Pub for a 6 Course Beer Dinner, celebrating Irish Craft Beer on Friday the 23rd November.


Spanish Wine Evening at Rostellan Chocolate
Friday, November 30, 2018 at 7 PM – 9 PM
An evening of tasting 6 varieties of Spanish Wine with cheese and pates. Alejandro from Heart of Spain will present this event which promises to be a fantastic evening. Strictly limited tickets are on sale at an introductory price of €25 each. Contact Peter at 087 2908774 to purchase a ticket.

SuperValu Case Deal

Kate Barry of Barry & Fitzwilliam has been on to tell me about the terrific Villa Maria Case Deal exclusive to SuperValu.

6 different bottles of Villa Maria wine per case.  The RRP for the pack is €105 – it is on offer in selected SuperValu stores at €70.00

The Buy 6 Save €10 starts next Thursday 22nd November and will run until December 24th -  hence this will bring it down to €60.

Please note the Villa Maria Case Deal is a limited offer and once it’s gone it is gone!!

Mezze & wine pairings night in Ardkeen Quality Food Store. 
Join us at the Barista Bar in Ardkeen Quality Food Store on Saturday 24 November for a Mezze & wine pairings night. Husband and wife team Dvir and Nicola of Mezze (Waterford locals) will prepare an authentic Middle Eastern feast with shared plates using the amazing locally sourced produce from Ardkeen Quality Food Store. Experience casual authentic Middle Eastern dining, ideas of how to use local produce to prepare bright and vibrant foods, and learn which wines work best with Middle Eastern flavours - all chosen by resident expert Julie Ward.

Tickets include 4 course vegetarian meal with wine tastings and must be purchased in advance. 


Les Gourmandises have a Malbec wine & dinner on November 27th (7.00pm); details on their Facebook page.

Premium Irish whiskey tasting and 4 course tasting menu at Cronin’s Pub.
Tuesday, November 27, 2018 at 7:30 PM – 10 PM
"Join us in Cronin's Pub, Crosshaven for a premium Irish whiskey tasting and 4 course tasting menu. We will be joined by Irish Distiller's whiskey ambassador Michael Cowman. Each whiskey will be paired with a specially prepared tasting menu from the Mad Fish Kitchen at Cronin's Pub.

Be amongst the first to taste the newly launched Red Spot, 15 Year Old Single Pot Still, which was discontinued in the mid-1960s and now rejoins Green Spot and Yellow Spot in Irish Distillers’ Spot Whiskeys range. It has been created using an old recipe handed down by the Mitchell & Son family of wine merchants, who created the original Spot Whiskeys in the early 1900s. We will be tasting this alongside Yellow Spot 12 Year Old.

This will be a night to remember! Starts at 7.30pm. Tickets must be purchased in advance."

Cillian of Mescan Brewery has a special for you

Westport’s Mescan Brewery
“Delighted to announce the release of our Christmas beer, Beoir na Nollag!

We made a version of the beer 3 years ago and it was a huge success. This year's beer follows the theme but it's a new recipe. It's a strong dark beer 8.8% which was brewed in the spring and was cold conditioned in bulk for 6 months before transfer to Irish Whiskey casks for 2 months of barrel ageing. It was then dry hopped and bottle conditioned. 

The flavour profile is malty, with dry fruits, warming alcohol and sublte notes of whiskey, wood and hops. Over time it will demonstrate an evolving complexity as it matures farther in the bottle so it's a beer that can be enjoyed now or cellared for later drinking. 
We only bottled 1,000 litres but we hope not to run out before Christmas!”

And, speaking of Christmas specials, Eight Degrees have two beauties. Check them out here 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Heron's Cove. Goleen. Splendidly Situated. Excellent Food.

Heron's Cove. Goleen. 
Splendidly Situated. Excellent Food.
Can be messy!
Easy crab

Many of us drive through Goleen on the way to Crookhaven, Barley Cove, Three Castle Head and, of course, Mizen Head. It is worth a stop you. Take a left turn on the main street and a surprise awaits.Fish and shellfish feature very strongly on the menu here and we indulge. I pick the aforesaid Mizen Head claws (10.50) and find the hammering and the messy fingers well worthwhile as the flavour is intense, the crabs as fresh as can be.



Beer and a view
Not such a surprise to the customers of Heron’s Cove though. The restaurant - they also do B&B - overlooks the little harbour here and diners can enjoy the views. The cove has a narrow neck and here the resident heron waits, and waits. It is all peace and calm on the water as we arrive on a late August evening.


Not as quite inside. There is a guy hammering at one table, a lady doing the same at another. But don’t worry. The crab claws they serve here are in their shells so you get a hammer and base to do the necessary. It is beyond some of us, bits and pieces flying across the table, so a little help is called for and rescue is close at hand.

Sole

CL meanwhile has taken the easier route, ordering the Devilled Crab, spicy brown crab meat, crackers, mixed salad (7.95), another delicious dish with no hard labour required.

They have a full restaurant licence here so no shortage of drinks. There is a wine rack as well. I didn’t quite have the patience for that but was thinking of a beer or a cider in any case. Both of us enjoyed the Dungarvan Helvick Gold Blonde Ale.

Monkfish
The mains soon arrived, service is friendly and efficient here. I had a lovely plateful of Pan Fried Lemon Sole (22.75). It was also available with a wine and cream sauce but I thought that might have been too much for the delicate and delicious fish. 

The batter on CL’s Monkfish Tempura (26.75) wasn’t quite as light and crisp as the menu promised but the fish itself was cooked perfectly. We got some of the best potatoes of the year so far in the accompanying side dishes.

They do have a signature dessert here, a baked chocolate and vanilla cheesecake called the Russian Cheesecake (7.25). We shared that, though not equally!

Aside from the A la Carte menu, they also do a three course offering here for €32.50 and that includes quite a few of the A La Carte dishes.


Harbour Road
Goleen
Co. Cork
Tel: 028 35225

Also on this trip:
A Walk in Gougane Barra
The Amazing Ewe Experience

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Granville Hotel’s a Superb Base for Waterford Getaway


Granville Hotel’s a Superb Base for Waterford Getaway
Blaa Eggs Benedict at The Granville

I’m sitting in the busy TF Meagher Bar in Waterford’s Granville Hotel, sipping a pint of Helvic Gold Ale by Dungarvan Brewery. The bar is busy, with most of the customers eating from the well-priced bar menu. There are old prints and pictures all over the place, hardly a spare bit of space on the walls. 

One catches my eye. The tour de France is currently running and Carrick on Suir man Sean Kelly is one of the Eurosport commentators. The Granville have a painting of the cyclist when he was a very young competitor indeed. 

Another pic is even more eye-catching. It is a large scale drawing of a group of heads, nine in all if I remember rightly. Who are they? Politicians? Perhaps, but we don't recognise any. We ask the barman and he tells it’s an representation of a bunch of regulars and that a few are still alive. Great to see a bar appreciate their regulars!
Breakfast plaice at The Granville

The Granville is a friendly place, thanks to its staff. Our room is excellent; we have everything we need and a view over the quays where our car is parked for free (thanks to an arrangement between the hotel and the operators). 

We are in Waterford for about twenty four hours and our first stop for grub is at the Candied Hazelnut, a relatively new restaurant on O’Connell Street. Its food is gluten free, peanut free and plant based and the casual and colourful space is fast becoming a favourite haunt for foodies, coeliacs, vegetarians, vegans, plant based people, tea and coffee lovers, and those with a sweet tooth. We enjoyed our meal there and you may read about it here.
O'Connell Street

Mount Congreve view
On recent visits, we’ve seen the three museums (account here) and taken the Waterford Crystal tour (account here). So we headed out to nearby Kilmeaden to visit Mount Congreve House and Gardens. 

Quite a few signed walks on this massive 70-acre estate and of course we took the orange one, the long one. There is a walled garden here, with a frail Georgian glasshouse. But it is mainly about large-scale plantings where some great views open up over the Suir, especially from the Temple. 

The 4-acre walled garden was alive with bees and insects and further into the walk we saw a couple of sturdy rabbits bouncing around in the trees. Later, near the entrance/exit, a fox prowled in the distant corner of a field.

As we finished our walk, we got a fine view of the house itself. There is a excellent café near the garden shop and here we enjoyed a decent cup of coffee but, with dinner not too far away, we avoided the good things. Nearby is the terminus for the Waterford & Suir Valley railway but we had missed the last run at four o’clock. Next time. This picturesque run takes you into Waterford and back, and runs at the margins of Mount Congreve, alongside the Suir and the Greenway.
Your move

The dinner I mentioned would be in Everett’s, another relatively new restaurant here, sited near the Medieval Museum in a very old building indeed and part of it is based in ancient wine vaults. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and the account is here.

It was after that that we enjoyed a spell in the Granville bar. After a good night’s sleep we were ready for breakfast. And what a breakfast you get here in the Bianconi Room, their main restaurant. 

Take the porridge, for example. It is of course the Flahavan’s variety and you can add to it from a selection of Bailey’s Cream, Irish Whiskey, Muldoon’s Waterford Whiskey Liqueur, or Highbank organic Apple Syrup!

It is a fantastic buffet selection and the hot dishes from the kitchen are also top notch, including the Full Irish of course. But being in Waterford, I just had to have a Blaa. And there it was on the menu: Blaa Eggs Benedict Waterford Style (poached eggs and ham on toasted Waterford blaa with Hollandaise). Delighted with it. Maybe Cork Chef Bryan McCarthy should have went with the Blaa in Barrack Street rather than the bao. Blaa Boi would make a good name too!


The Pagoda
Mount Congreve
Full after that excellent breakfast, it was time to say goodbye to the Granville and head west along. And we stayed on the main road (the N25) until just beyond Leamybrien when we turned left on a country road towards Durrow. We were following signs for the Waterford Greenway and soon arrived at the parking area near a bar and shop where you could have a bite to eat and hire a bike.

No bikes for us and we walked along in the sun. For a while. After a few minutes we found ourselves in the Ballyvoile Tunnel, cool and a few drops of water falling down too. Soon we were back in the sun, admiring the countryside and before we knew it were atop the Ballyvoile viaduct where the views improved! Quite a few cycling and not too many walking.

We carried on for another while in the direction of Clonea and, not too far from the viaduct, we got a brilliant view of the ocean. Time to return, we thought, and so we retraced our steps to Durrow, the total walk, a leisurely one with lots of stops for photos, taking just over an hour.
Al Fresco at The Granary

Greenway tunnel
It was getting close to lunch-time and we had just the spot in mind, having read a few days earlier that the Cliff House Bar had introduced a new menu. And a good one it is as we found out as we relaxed on the terrace watching the comings and goings on the blue waters below. A superb finalé - read all about the meal below - to our superb trip to Waterford. 

Also on this trip:

On The Greenway






Thursday, December 14, 2017

Farmgate Café. Traditional. Seasonal. Regional. Food of the land and work of local hands.

Farmgate Café. Traditional. Seasonal. Regional.

Food of the land and work of local hands.
Irish stew. Bacon and Cabbage. Just the mention of these traditional Irish dishes can get some modern “foodies”, some chefs too, on their high horses. They don’t want us posting pictures  of our peasant food on the internet, preferring instead those “decorated” with colourful drops from a squeegee bottle. 

I like my stew, like my bacon and cabbage. Just as the French like their hardly photogenic Coq au vin. And when I saw the lamb stew on the menu during last Saturday's visit to The Farmgate, above the English Market, I had no hesitation in ordering it. It was a cold day and the warming stew was the ideal comfort food. And reasonable photogenic as well.

The Hartes (Kay and daughter Rebecca) are in no doubt about the value of tradition. “Farmgate Café embraces much of what is unique and traditional to Cork along with new influences in this dynamic multicultural food market and port city. Centuries old traditional, seasonal, regional, even ‘forgotten’ foods are at the core of the Farmgate ethos, and also form a visible link between the menu and the wonderful array of produce downstairs.”

“This allows Farmgate Café to provide a uniquely Irish eating experience both reflecting and playing a small role in a vibrant Irish food culture truly embracing how good indigenous ingredients and food products are.”

The popular Farmgate is divided into two sections, as you may know. You may well need to book to get a table in the Dining Room while most of the rest of the mezzanine, the Balcony, is informal so you just queue and order and the order, if not self-service, will be delivered to your table. 

We had booked and were lucky to get a table in an outdoor room adjoining the Dining Room. We were told it would be cold but no problem. There are glass panels up to head height (where you sit), heaters overhead and, just in case, blankets!

No need for the blankets though as we ordered from the regular list. There are always at least three daily specials: meat, fish and tart. The Lamb and Potato stew (€14.00, a euro less on the balcony) has regular company in Chargrilled Chicken, Traditional Pork Sausages with lentils, a Cured Fish plate, a Market Mezze, and a Warm Salad of free range chicken. Traditional yes but not hidebound by the past either.

In any case, that Lamb stew was delicious, the meat flavoursome and tender, the vegetables spot-on, and the potatoes were perfect. And here you’ll have no problem enjoying the last of the tasty liquid as, in addition to knife and fork, they also provide a spoon.

Lunchtime queue for the Farmgate lunch
on the Balcony while the market continues
below.
This was peak lunchtime on Saturday yet the staff, in their smart seasonal clothing, were excellent, very helpful all the way through.

I’d finish up also with a traditional touch. Had been swaying between the Christmas Pudding and the Mince Pie (3.50). The Brandy Cream swung it for the Pie which had a nice layer of crumble on top. 

CL wanted to experiment so she went for the non-traditional Salted Caramel Confit Banana with Rum and Raisin Ice-cream (5.00). A brave woman to take on the ice-cream but it was a seriously delicious finish.

The Farmgate believes in supporting local food. And local drink too. Ciders come from Longueville House and Stonewell, beers from Eight Degrees and Dungarvan Brewing, while the wines are all European.

We had been taking the odd peek down to the floor of the market and, after settling up, we joined the crowd down on the floor. Eventually we had a stroll through Glow and then visited Christmas markets in St Peter’s and The Franciscan Well (this is on again next Saturday).




English Market
Princes Street
Cork
T12NC8Y
Tel: 021 427 8134. Int: 00 353 21 427 8134
Email (general enquiries only): info@farmgatecork.ie

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Four brewers: "What we're doing now!" Superb Food at Malt & Music Festival.

Four brewers: "What we're doing now!"
Superb Food at Malt & Music Festival.
Colm, Eoin, Claire, Phil, and Michael

The Malt and Music Festival at Ballymaloe had its inaugural outing at the weekend. A few great nights were enjoyed. I’m told. Not a night owl these times so I turned up on Sunday afternoon to enjoy some beer, some food and eine kleine Tagmusik!*

Amazing how that Big Shed has been transformed, again. The things they use! Hanging (and flashing) high up in front of the stage was, believe it or not, a Honda 50. If you had one of those in its heyday, you'd get a lady, an ex-worker and now guide at the Arigna Mines once told me!

It was about lunch time when we arrived and we were spoiled for choice. One stall, Buena Vida Taco, made out of surfboards, caught my eye. They were also trumpeting their Crazy Bastard sauce. The Baja Fish Taco was our pick here: crispy battered haddock, pickled red onion, Mexican slaw, fresh coriander and chipotle aioli. Plus the saucy sauce, of course!

Quite a bite. Yet there was better to come, from Gubbeen. Their Reuben contained Pastrami, Emmental cheese, pickles, sauerkraut, and mustard. No rush job either. A superb sandwich, sandwich of the year maybe! No shortage of beers around the place but we didn't travel very far for ours, enjoying a glass of the Cotton Ball’s Indian Summer and one of the Cascade.

Eoin Lynch of the Cotton Ball Brewing Company was one of the four speakers in the Drinks Theatre in mid afternoon; the others were Claire Dalton of Dungarvan, Phil Cullen of Mountain Man and Michael Cowan of Manor Brewing (Wicklow). Colm McCan asked the questions and kept the flow going.

Claire told us about the family effort that led to Dungarvan getting off the ground. So what are they doing now? Well, their latest is “a sunny day beer” called Turning Tide. Light of body, Turning Tide, a lemon wheat beer, is the perfect accompaniment to a summery day, whether beach or BBQ! Moules Frites anyone?

Taco!
Eoin Lynch gave up his job and had some sleepless night after setting up the Cotton Ball Brewing in the family pub in 2013. But it developed quickly, started with 800 litres, now at 2,500 litres. Less sleepless nights now. He had the Indian Summer on show, a seasonal that was so good they couldn't let it go. It is a light hybrid beer (elements of both ale and lager), notes of citrus and pineapple and it was well received in Ballymaloe.

Michael Cowan of Mont said they are a dedicated lager brewery. “With the very soft Wicklow water we have, our super-premium lager is better than the main stream piss and we are trying to improve lager’s image with a big concentration on packaging.”

He surprised us with a very dark lager called Black is the New Orange. It includes chocolate malt and orange and is clean and dry; good finish too. And he introduced Bigger than Ben Hur, a 9.2% Imperial IPA, with “a hopping regime of biblical proportions”! Pretty well balanced though, despite that big ABV. Shows that Mont do make more than lager.

May not look much. But this Reuben is the greatest!
Like the Cotton Ball, Phil and his wife started Mountain Man in 2013. He also told us that one of their core beers, that Hairy Goat, could well have reached the shelves as the Itchy Cow!

We got to taste his latest, the Vincent Van Coff (the name the result of a competition). What was the secret ingredient? Not too many detected the aroma but quite a few got the flavour of… coconut! It is a red ale with vanilla, chocolate and coffee. The point Phil was making was that the ability to recognise aromas and flavours can vary from person to person. “I didn't get the coconut…people starting telling me about it.. So, if you don't get it, you’re not on your own!”

As you gather, this was a rather informal session. And all the better and more enjoyable for it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Sea Gardener. Interest in seaweed rising

The Sea Gardener

Interest in seaweed rising
Marie, busy at her market stall
Amazing how seaweed, so long out of the Irish diet, has made such a comeback in recent years.

Now the natural produce of the seashore is being used in all kinds of things. Samphire is everywhere there’s fish. Fenn’s Quay chef Kate Lawlor uses Carrigeen Moss in a dessert. I’ve eaten Nori crisps in West Cork. You may buy Nori Bake from Galway company Connemara Food Ventures. Arbutus are one of the bread companies using it. Recently, from a new Union Hall venture, I sniffed a gin with a seaweed ingredient! Today, there was a Seaweed class in UCC (Diploma in Speciality Food Production).


 Many people deserve credit for the rise and rise of seaweed and related products in our restaurants and in our homes. Prannie Rhatigan of the Irish Seaweed Garden is one. The McKenna's, Sally and John, are eager supporters. And there are many more.  In Dungarvan, Sea of Vitality supply Milled Dillisk and Ground Kelp and recipes galore and neighbours Dungarvan Brewing Company have a Seaweed Saison.

Today, I just want to shine a little light on Marie Power, the Sea Gardener, also from County Waterford. I met Marie during the Harvest Festival. I had to wait a little while as her stall was so busy. We enjoyed a little chat and then I moved on as people were starting to queue!


 One of the things I bought that day was little bag of Dillisk. That brought me back to my childhood and holidays in Mayo with my mother who loved her Carrigeen and Dillisk. These are straightforward seaweeds.

But things have moved on a lot since those good old days. Maire had a few bars for sale and I helped myself to a couple. The Almond and Orange Bar was good but my slight favourite was the Coconut and Lime. Both contain free range eggs, seeds galore, dark chocolate and, of course, a seaweed mix.


Dillisk & Sea Salt from Wild Atlantic Way Products
She was also doing a tasting that sunny day of her Mushroom and Olive Caponata. I tried that and bought and it was used just the other day on top of a pasta dish, “180 mls of goodness”. It can also be used on vegetables or cold on crostini or salad or use as a dip with raw vegetables or crackers. Recommended!

By the way, Marie learned much of her early knowledge from a 2007 workshop in Annestown with Prannie Rhatigan (see above).  Now Marie herself does foraging walks, cookery demos, ecology workshops, nutrition talks and visits schools and colleges as she spreads the good news about seaweed. And she has a book published too called The Sea Garden - a guide to seaweed cooking and foraging. The book and her products (also a list of stockists) are available online here - no queue!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Superb Gin From Blackwater Distillery. Watch Out For The Cappoquin Heron

Superb Gin From Blackwater Distillery.
Watch Out For The Cappoquin Heron!

The making of a London Dry Gin is a process subject to certain regulations as regards to inputs, almost like a wine appellation. This was our introduction to Blackwater No. 5*, the LDC from Cappoquin with the heron in the logo that is already making a name for itself.


Peter Mulryan was our informative guide on a visit to the fledgling Blackwater Distillery. Peter, the distiller and one of four directors, told us about the botanicals, 12 if I remember rightly, used in the process, including Coriander which goes “citrus-y” in the mix. Considering that citrus (dried skins) and bitter orange (also dried skins) are also used you could see why he advised against using a lemon in your gin. Lime would be a better choice.

The orange skins, by the way, come from Spain, the pulp having been extracted to make marmalade. Some spices, including Cinnamon and Cardamom, are also used.

Juniper is perhaps the best known element, having been traditionally used to make gin, and indeed provides the dominant flavour. Got my hands on a juniper berry and when I crushed it between the fingers it began to feel oily. It is this oil that is extracted and used.

In the still.

Three roots help complete the mix, including liquorice and angelica which “tastes kind of gin-ny”.

And if you thought that this was the first time that these exotic botanicals have reached the beautiful banks of the Blackwater, you'd be mistaken. Peter related the remarkable story of the White family from Waterford who, in the 18th and 19th centuries, imported spices, some from faraway places, and distributed them widely, even sending their own boats up the Blackwater with spice consignments for the many big houses on its banks.

The stills are small here, so small they even have names. Distillation though happens quickly and you can make a decent size batch of gin in a day. By the way, there is a reason why most stills are made of copper. Peter: “Copper softens the mouthfeel. The alcohol won’t ‘burn’ you”, he told us. Aside from the stills, they also have a bottling machine on-site.

Already, the new distillery has cooperated with local brewers, including Dungarvan Brewing Company, as it seeks to position itself away from the really big distillers with which it cannot compete on price.
Still and, right, cooling tower.
 And Blackwater can certainly be different as I found out with the next few tastings. First up was the Curious Still vodka distilled from a double IPA by Black’s of Kinsale. “That is taking the bland out of vodka,” said one obviously impressed taster in our small group.


Now we were on to Poteen, called the Spirit of West Waterford, made from local ingredients, and recently subject to government regulations. This was based on a hop-free oatmeal stout, brewed by Dungarvan Brewing Company. It also contains local barley, Flahavan’s oats and "a smidgen of molasses". This “very soft” drink, with an ABV of 43%, was such a hit at the recent West Waterford Festival of Food that the plan is “to move it into commercial production” in the months ahead.

And there is even better news to come. Peter proudly showed us a few small casks made in Finland from juniper wood (the wood itself imported from Serbia). It is hard to get enough of the timber as juniper is a bush, not a tree. An initial batch filled one of the casks and has been a success, “a great gin”, and production of this will also be scaled up. One way of being different.


Small cask, made from juniper.
 And whiskey, Well, no whisky yet. Remember you have to wait three years and one day to have your whiskey approved as Irish Whiskey or as Irish Whisky as Peter would spell it. Plans are well advanced but you won't find their whisky on the shelves anytime soon. At present, you may pre-buy one of a limited number of  50 litre casks.


“We offer people a choice of seven whisky styles in a choice of wood finishes,” says Peter. These won't be any old whiskey. You’ll be offered anything from Single Malt to a peated Pot Still Irish. Check out their website http://blackwaterdistillery.ie for details.

Innovation is the name of the game here. Peter, a native of nearby Conna, learned the trade in Scotland and that knowledge and his enthusiasm are now being let loose on the final big bend of the Blackwater. Watch out for the heron silhouetted on their bottles, coming to a shelf near you.

*  Blackwater No. 5 is distributed by Classic Drinks.


Peter (left) and Yours Truly