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

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

In Praise of East Cork. Food. People. Place. Worth a Visit!

 In Praise of East Cork.

Food. People. Place. Worth a Visit!
Tasting of the best smoked fish included in guided tour of Hederman Smokery in Belvelly Cobh.

Friendly people, great food, coastal and inland attractions, make East Cork a gem of a place to visit. From the fantastic 13th century St Mary’s Collegiate Church in Youghal to high class Gardens and Arboretum at Fota, both free to enter, there is a treasure chest of places to visit in the area.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Bakestone Beef Hits The Spot After Wild Side Walk

 Bakestone Beef Hits The Spot

After Wild Side Walk

Nothing like a walk on the wild side to work up an appetite. And that old saying was proven once again last week when a walk on the very windy Harper’s Island was followed by lunch at the nearby Bakestone Café in the Fota Retail Park near Cobh Cross, just a few minutes away from the island wetlands.

There weren’t that many on the wetlands but it was a different story when we entered Bakestone for lunch. It was 2.00pm or so and the place was pretty full and this was a Tuesday. There is no booking though, walk-ins only. But they have a big open and bright space there and also quite a lot of tables in a well sheltered area between the glass wall of the main building and the garden centre around its south and east walls.

The first thing you see as you join the queue (a small one in our case) is a large breakfast menu and this is their signature offering. Many of my friends go there and enjoy it: all kinds of eggs, plain or  Benedict, Florentine, or Royale.  Then there’s Pancakes and French Toast and after that well you can try a pastry or cake from a large selection.

The lunch menu is not as extensive and, on a recommendation from our server, I picked a Beef Brisket Sandwich, the beef pulled, and served in a delicious bun packed with the meat, various greens and pickled cucumber. 

I picked from a large selection of salads and got myself a Beetroot one and also a Leaf one, each adding a euro to the basic price so that the sandwich cost a very reasonable €8.35 in total. They also do quiches here and they cost €6.25 each before add ons.

That beef sandwich was just the job after the walk and I was soon tucking in, really enjoying the flavour and the textures.  But is was quite substantial and it was finished at a slower pace! By the way, I noticed that quite a few people at nearby tables were enjoying breakfast dishes even at the hour!

After a pause, I decided on a cup of coffee and a pastry. Coffee is by Badger and Dodo so you are guaranteed a decent cup of Joe and I confirmed that for myself. The cake, a White Chocolate Tartlet with raspberries, was a really sweet one and half of it was packed into a serviette to be finished later on!. The main conclusion from the visit was that, next time, I would test that obviously very popular breakfast menu!

Harper’s Island Wetlands

The wetlands, open everyday 9.00am to 4.30pm, are a relatively new visit in the area. The entrance, with a small car park, is on the old Cork-Waterford Road, on the left roughly halfway between Glounthaune Village and Bakestone, just beyond the railway station but before the Elm Tree Pub.

Goodbye Geese!
Once parked, you make your way over an ugly concrete bridge and soon you are walking  onto the island. To your right, you can see Glounthaune village, straight ahead is the Cork-Waterford dual carriageway (the N25 or the East Cork parkway - its more fancier name), but mostly, including to your left, you see the wetlands and the various bits and pieces of this part of the backwaters of the massive Cork harbour.

Then you reach the first of the hides, a solid timber structure with plenty of openings for visitors to see the various birds. There are another two hides in the map and other points from where you may get close-up views. But nothing’s guaranteed as regards the wildlife and I was about to depart when I spotted the four large white geese in the distance.

What is guaranteed is a good long walk. When you come to the end of the first path (good solid surface, works vehicles have to get around here too, though there is no traffic as such), there is a looped walk that brings you back to this point again. 

Then you walk back to the car park with a view of houses on the slopes to the immediate north and you should be able to see too the house and farm where Killahora Orchards grow some of the earliest-ripening apples in Ireland and produce some very innovative products with their harvest. More on the wetlands here.

Other attractions close to Bakestone are Fota House and Arboretum, the Fota Wildlife Park, Barryscourt Castle (closed at present for OPW works), and Cobh (with its many attractions) is not too far away.

Monday, January 17, 2022

An East Cork One-Two. Hard to Beat This Walk and Eat! Beaches and lunch at Castlemartyr Carewswood Café

An East Cork One-Two. Hard to Beat

This Walk and Eat!

Lime & Chilli Chicken Salad

Beaches and lunch at Castlemartyr Carewswood Café

Some great sunny days last week and on one of them we headed east to Ballinwilling beach, between Garryvoe and Redbarn. Plan was to have a long walk and then call for lunch to the Carewswood Garden Centre between Ladysbridge and Castlemartyr.

Ballinwilling. Redbarn is around the corner.

It didn’t quite to go plan but did work out very well. The tide was well in at Ballinwilling, leaving very little room for walkers unless you came equipped with wellies. We did a bit but soon retreated and drove the few minutes to Garryvoe. 


Of course the tide was well in there too but we walked on the beachside path and after that, to the west, there was a long stretch of sand up and beyond the entrance to the next beach (Ardnahinch). The last of the cloud has vanished as well and we and the four-legged friend enjoyed the hour or so, taking in the fresh air, the views (out to the Ballycotton Lighthouse on its island) and the sounds of the birds and the sea.

Island in the sun.

The appetite was well warmed up by the time we got back to the car. A few minutes later we were in Ladysbridge and soon turning right to Carewswood which is just off the R632. Got a bit of a shock to see the large car park more than half full at 12.05pm or thereabouts. “I should have had booked,” I said. But no worries. They had plenty of space in the two room cafe, no problem with social distancing and they took the details.

Getting a deserved drink from his new water dispenser.

They were just changing over from the breakfast to the lunch menu and we opted for the latter and a table in the sunny outer room. Lots of openings to the fresh air here, including a couple of sets of doors. It was warm enough to dispense with the coats as we studied the menu, quite an extensive one as it turned out, featuring soups, salads, sandwiches and hot dishes plus a short wine list.

Chipotle Chicken Burger

I picked Chef Pawel’s daily special: Chipotle Chicken Bap, with smashed avocado and mixed leaves, served with rustic fries (€14.95). CL, also on a spicy kick, went for one of the salads: Lime and Chilli warm chicken salad, fire roasted peppers, smashed ago, vine tomato and jalapeño salsa, Blanco Nino tortilla, lettuce and yogurt (13.95).

The airy outer dining room

Both dishes were excellent and in each case, the main element, the chicken was of a really high standard and delicious. CL’s bowl looked huge but, aside from the fairly hard crisps, made short work of it. I also had quite a feed both in term of quality and quantity but the walks on the beaches had certainly tuned up the appetites and it was two well satisfied customers that walked out into the sunny afternoon. 

Ready for the coming season

Not too many customers around the garden centre itself at the moment but the staff are busily engaged in preparing for the season ahead. They have quite a reputation here and indeed that very evening I was chatting to a gardening enthusiast from Dublin who said: “Glad to hear Carewswood is doing so well, I really like it. Aside from the food, their plants are better than anyone else’s and the prices are reasonable.” So there you are, another reason to visit lovely East Cork! 

* They pride themselves on ‘honest food with no artificial colourings or preservatives and serve a range of delicious freshly baked goods and local artisan and organic foods’. Good to see local producers supported. The salmon is from Ballycotton while Gubbeen, Blanco Niño, and bakers Pana are among the producers mentioned. 

Looking well, as always. The Garryvoe Hotel.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

East Cork Food Now. A One Day Snapshot

East Cork Food Now. A One Day Snapshot

With the 5km limit banished, we headed east on a little ramble that took us through Midleton to Killeagh and then back to the coast around Ballycotton. The weather was sunny and quite warm, all in our favour, as we had a quick, though far from exhaustive, look at what was going on food-wise in the area.

First stop was the relatively new Grumpy Bakers in Midleton. There was a little queue (partly for coffee) outside. Inside our first choice sourdough has been sold out (at about 10.00am). But they did have what turned out to be an excellent wholemeal sourdough and a delicious rhubarb and custard Danish.

Superb local cheddar available at Joe's Farm

Next stop was in the lovely countryside north of Killeagh where Joe’s Farm operates. You’ll know Joe and Sandra through Joe’s Farm Crisps (which have a wide distribution). But did you know, that once the pandemic struck, they turned part of the yard into a farmers market. Of course they have lots of their own vegetables and potatoes for sale but much more besides, including produce from Waterford (Tom Baldwin’s ice-cream) and Achill Island (Sea Salt and Sea Salted Fudge) and Laois (The Merry Mill). No shortage of more local produce either including home baking and the most delicious Raspberry Jam (produced by the adults and children of the Cooking Club in Youghal). In no time at all, we had our bags full and ready for road. Oh, by the way, they don’t do credit cards so be sure and bring cash (including perhaps a few small denomination notes).

The sun was well and truly in charge as we pulled into the car park opposite the Sea Church Restaurant and Concert venue. By the way, the newly installed Sea Church van opens for business on Wednesday April 28th. It will be open 7 days a week 10AM - 4PM for all your coffee and cake needs.

We strolled in toward the village proper where CUSH restaurant is offering an At Home service. We didn't get that far though. Spotted an ice-cream cone outside the Trawl Door and, in a separate room called Coney Island, got a couple of delicious cooling beauties, Strawberry along with a Rum & Raisin both made by Glenown Farm of Fermoy. We could also have had a lot more including an East Cork Mess or a Ballycotton Banoffee! Had a quick look at the Trawl Door itself which was busy. Lots of good stuff here, including a selection of wine and a very tempting deli counter. Must call there again when it’s less busy and when I don’t have an ice-cream in my hand.

Strawberry ice!

The Blackbird and The Schooner Bar here are not able to open of course under the current regulations but each offers takeaway at weekends. The popular Skinny's Diner also has weekend hours posted up on the window but you may need to check in advance.

Back then to pick up the car and our next destination was the beach at Ardnahinch. Here, the car park was close to full. On the beach itself as we walked along, we could see about 15 colourful "kites” in the sky at the next beach up, Ballinamona, quite a spectacle provided by the kite surfers as they enjoyed the brisk wind!

But we weren't there to see them! We were looking for the Trawler Boyz from Ballycotton who set up shop every weekend in the Ardnahinch Car Park. But we were too early as they weren’t due to start for another hour or two. There are some good reviews coming from that three person operation and they later reported selling some 500 meals during their few hours there. Check their Facebook page for opening times. Hours currently shown are: Fri & Sat 4.30-8.30; Sun 1.000-7.00. Tel: 086 4073057.

After Ardnahinch, we headed to a very important date, to collect our “At Home” dinner from Ballymaloe House. These meals come in all types of boxes and bags but none presented as classily as this one, it even had a bunch of tulips attached! We got a great welcome and a lovely chat as well. And the meal, featuring the first of their asparagus, East Cork Beef Cheek, a gorgeous panna cotta plus a super Irish cheese plate, was also high class. Details and next menu here.  

Ballymaloe Pop Up Wine Shop. Saturday afternoons only.

As we arrived, Colm McCan was opening up a Pop-up wine shop at the front of the Grainstore. He had a well-judged selection of organic and natural wines, also the Ballymaloe Gin. And also there was their very own cider, made with apples grown on the farm, including Dabinett, Crimson Bromley, Santana, Topas, Delles Bell and Dellinquo. You can get it only in Ballymaloe or though the At Home menu. Delicious and refreshing as we found out when we got home and relaxed in the garden before getting that marvellous dinner onto the table later on. Quite a day in the east.

PS: A day or two later, we were in Knockadoon. You’ll find the Lobster Pot food truck in place at the pier here, again opening at the weekends.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Burns Family Playing A Blinder At Home On The Farm

Burns Family Playing A Blinder
 At Home On The Farm
Joe and Sandra at the Farm Shop.

The Killeagh farm of Joe and Sandra Burns is pretty well known for its stall at local farmers market and for its delicious vegetable crisps (available all around the country). They were going well on both fronts until Covid19 struck. Bang went the markets. Bang went the food festivals and with them a huge chunk of the crisps business.

But the resilient pair are fighting back. The business from the markets has been largely replaced by their superb Farm Shop. Believe it or not, the idea for this came from a little pioneering venture at the farm gate last year by daughter Meghan, one of their three children.
Parsnips. No shortage!

In the middle of all this, instead of feeling sorry for themselves, they found time to think of people less fortunate. Back in May, with huge help from the neighbours, they raised over €600.00 for Pieta House at an event in the farm.

And Joe told me that it is the neighbours who are the mainstay of the success of the Farm Shop. Here, though the shop is in the yard by the house, they operate a “honesty box” system. The price list for the vegetables is displayed (also available online); cash payment is put in an envelope and then into the box.
Joe, with Toby, and daughters Meghan (left) and Katelyn.

And what a choice you have! Fresh out of the nearby fields, you can have carrots (including rainbow carrots), parsnips, swede/turnip, white turnip, cabbage, red cabbage, broccoli, white cauliflower, purple cauliflower, romanesco, beetroot, kale, rhubarb, celery, courgette, onions, plus eggs, strawberries, mushrooms, tomatoes.

All the colours of the beet!
Of course, there are spuds, new at the moment, Queens or Ladyclaire. And Roosters. By the way, those Ladyclaires are the ones they use for their crisps (the white ones) and they are very good for boiling, steaming and chipping. And speaking of crisps, well they’re there too, the original Veg (carrot, parsnip and beetroot), Beetroot, and Mixed Potato.

A superb selection of fresh produce in the middle of the lovely East Cork countryside. Not in the middle of nowhere, by the way. This treasure trove is just about six minutes off the main Cork-Waterford road (N25) in the village of Killeagh. 

If you’re coming from the city, instead of turning right for Youghal at the eastern end of the village, take the small road (L3806) straight up past the church. Tap P36 X582 into your Google maps and you’ll be there in no time. You’ll see a sign or two for the farm as you get closer. 

One of the highlights from last year was the pumpkin picking season. Groups of kids - play school, primary, families - came for the picking. No less than 83 children in one group from Mayfield. They enjoy the picking but also get the full tour, lots of tasing of raw veg - the coloured beetroot is a big hit. 

It is educational in a fun way for the visitors and the Burns family absolutely enjoy it themselves and are looking forward to December 2020. In a year or two, there’ll be apples to be picked as well. Joe has planted some 100 trees. The deers, displaced by clear-felling in nearby wooded hills, took an interest at first but seem to have eased off and the apples are growing well.
Pumpkins, sheltered by the barley.

Close to the lines of apples, a couple of hives have been installed by a local beekeeper as Joe and Sandra seek to improve pollination of the apples and other fruit and also expand the diversity of the farm. Another section of land has been planted with oats and linseed and it is allowed grow for the benefit of the birds under a Glas scheme.
Purple cauliflower and Romanesco

Sandra is perhaps best known for the crisps, originally produced in a small mobile kitchen (2014*). In fact, they had really started in the farmhouse kitchen. The mobile kitchen was quickly outgrown and now they have a very impressive brand new permanent facility on site. Here they can do much more. The packaging though is slow and proving something of a bottleneck. A new machine had been eyed up to ease the pressure but, being a fairly large expenditure, its purchase has had to be postponed because of Covid.
All quiet in the crisps unit!

With the farmers markets now off his agenda, Joe is enjoying some extra spare time and they, as a family, are getting out and about a bit more to cheer on their local teams and so on. Still, there’s always something being planned. Take Sandra for instance. She recently shared a Beetroot Brownie recipe with the shop’s customers and “it went down a treat.” She promises to work on another few! No standing still around here!
Sandra and Meghan at a festival in Ballymaloe. Covid19 put a stop to all that. Fingers crossed, festivals will be back soon

The Farm Shop is open every Thursday Friday & Saturday 10-6
Drishane More
Killeagh, Co. Cork P36 X582

* Back in 2014, I tweeted: Just got to get Joe's Farm Crisps on Twitter. Brilliant product. They're still not on but at least you'll find them on Facebook now!
Down on the farm!

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Knockadoon Cliff Walks

Knockadoon Walks, East Cork.
Welcome to Knockadoon

Knockadoon is a small rural peninsula, close to the seaside town of Youghal in County Cork. Take care, and watch out for walkers in particular, as you make your way through the narrow roads to the pier. From there, you have a choice of two walks, the Capel Way Coastal Trail towards the west (made up of two loops, 2.5km and 6km) and, towards the east, you may take the Barry's Cove Way.

From the pier itself, you can look across to Youghal nd you see more of that area if you take Barry's Cove Way. On the other hand, if you head west, you'll soon pass Capel Island, then an old Signal Tower. All the while, the ocean is to your left. Later again, views of Ballycotton and its lighthouse open up.
You'll start here by the pier. Youghal, and the mouth of the River Blackwater, are directly across from the pier.

Lots of wildflowers grow quite close to the path. Many kinds of birds are seen too, from big hungry looking seagulls to busy little sparrows, and they keep you company. And don't forget to look inland as well where the landscape changes from season to season. Do bring a bottle of water and perhaps a little snack and take a break. There are a few seats along the way.

Capel Island

On the road down to the pier (from earlier trip), all other pics July 1st 2020

On the lookout

The old ruined signal tower. The towers were part of an all-island coastal defence system constructed in the early 19th century. The one in Kinsale (near the Old Head) has been restored and is open to the public.

The island, with Ballycotton Lighthouse.  The village is on the mainland to the right of the island.

Don't forget to take the odd look inland!

A crop of barley. July 1st, 2020
Pictures from a 2019 walk here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Fota House and Gardens, Now Open. Waiting for you (with hours for cocooners). Photos to brighten your day.

Fota House and Gardens, waiting for you!
Now open (with hours for cocooners).
Photos to brighten your day.

"We are delighted to again welcome visitors to enjoy the magnificent grounds from 9.00 AM to 6.00 PM daily following Covid-19 closure. Our grounds access plan is for safe, respectful visits to the Arboretum & Gardens with visitors asked to observe HSE guidelines at all times. The House is due to reopen on July 20th." 

More info, including opening hours here and on their Facebook Page.