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Monday, December 10, 2018
Eight Degrees Blowhard Imperial Stout 12%, 330ml bottle widely available
Long yarn on the label, rare deep-diving whales who go down to the darkest black and blow hard on their return. The Eight Degree brewers trawled to the furthest limits here and, barely decompressed, came to tell their daring Christmas tale and they called this deep-dark and delicious creation Blowhard.
The smooth and flavour-packed beer, from regions hitherto unexplored, was quarantined for 30 days in Jameson barrels. Don’t worry, it is now safe in this Christmas season to open the little bottle but do pour slowly, sip slowly too. No point in going overboard when the hard work of the voyage is done. Enjoy the amazing flavours and do watch out for a nice hint of uisce beatha in the long aftertaste!
This is a classic Imperial Stout, with knobs on. They stuffed the mash tun to the gills, double mashed for extra flavour, used premium Irish malt, went overboard with toasted dark malts and extra roasted barley – all before committing the beer to a month long sentence in Jameson whiskey barrels, courtesy of their friends in Irish Distillers.
It is a spectacular seasonal special. Try it, they recommend, with steaks and cheese. Or at the end of the meal, pair with a dark and rich Christmas pudding or a decadent Belgian chocolate mousse. Didn’t have either in the house last Saturday night but did have some Mince Pies (made by Foods of Athenry). Got lucky with that pairing as it worked a treat. Pudding is next!
Availability: Very limited draught. 330ml bottles (RRP €4.20).
Monday, November 26, 2018
Dreaming of a Wild Christmas with Brett, Black and Brut.
Eight Degrees Trespass Dark Farmhouse Ale with Blackberries 7.5% ABV 75cl bottle.
Raised with Brett and infused with Blackberry, I was thinking funky and farmyard as I pondered this Christmas special from Mitchelstown. And then when the person alongside, who had started ahead of me, said it smelt like cider I was thinking of some early natural wines that had ill-advisedly been put on the market, quite possibly putting some people off natural for a long time.
A friend of mine who had then recently opened a market stall, always maintained you just had to get a drop or a morsel into the potential customer’s mouth to make the sale. So I remembered him as I raised the glass and soon the preconceptions vanished like the courage of a Ballyhoura poacher disturbed in the act.
This dark farmhouse ale is not a rough and ready country bumpkin (by the way, what do you call a city bumpkin?) at all. Au contraire, Rodney. And its natural sophistication is not overly surprising when you consider the distinguished “assistant” the Eight Degrees brewers had. None other than Jamil Zainasheff, owner of California’s Heretic Brewing and author of Yeast and Brewing Classic Styles.
I enjoyed my first glass with a slow-cooked dinner of Woodside Farm Pork (shoulder) and a bunch of winter root vegetables. The experience was excellent. But how would my Trespass drink on its own?
Excellent is the answer, again. The adventurous “melange” is more about the Brett than the hops. Not a bubble in sight in the dark brown liquid but a refreshing tang and a cutting acidity, the kind you’d come across in a good Brut champagne. A classy drink which, by the way, has spent no less than 15 months in Burgundy (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) barrels. And, after finishing school, Eight Degrees added even more of those Ballyhoura blackberries.
Perhaps not my favourite aromas but now this rich and dark saison-like beer with its lip-smacking finish is a firm favourite. Brett, Black and Brut is the new order! Now, I’d better order that goose for Christmas, as that’s the recommended match from Eight Degrees.
Trespass is the latest in their Ballyhoura Wild Series which already includes Hopsfume 100% Brett IPA, The Oak King Belgian Pale Ale, and the Holly King Imperial Stout.
Thursday, August 16, 2018
Two Hundred Year Old Pub Gets New Lease of Life Thanks to Máire and Victor. Emphasis very much on Local Food and Drink at O’Mahony’s Watergrasshill.
Two Hundred Year Old Pub Gets New Lease of Life Thanks to Máire and Victor.
Emphasis very much on Local Food and Drink at O’Mahony’s Watergrasshill.
O’Mahony’s Pub in Watergrasshill packs a lot into its weekend life. Start with the food: delicious sharing boards and small plates are based on the best of local and seasonal produce and don't cost the earth. While you will get your mainstream pints, you may also enjoy a good craft beer or two and their current House Drink is Bertha’s Revenge Gin made by their neighbours over in Castlelyons.
And that’s only the start of it. Take a look outside and you’ll see an area “as big as a field”. More like a big garden, with a stage platform and there’s lots of cover here making it an ideal spot for a celebration of any kind (they’ve already had a wedding here) and great too for BBQ with its own bar.
And it’s also here that you’ll find the Long Room, the music venue. And if you feel like dancing, go right ahead. Take the floor, a real dance-floor, maybe a chunk of a ballroom of romance recycled.
And all that music and dancing takes place in a recycled cow shed. The village used to be a staging post for cattle on their way to the city and indeed, there was a slaughter house at the back (a glasshouse will be going up there soon). The meat hooks hanging in the bar will remind you of those times.
And that’s not all you’ll see hanging here. Máire is an artist and her works are proudly on display. And that leads me to the kids. Yours are more than welcome. Their own menu is up on the big blackboard. And there’s another blackboard, a whole wall of them, outside in a smaller sheltered area. Here the children can draw to their heart's content and every now and then there is a competition.
Just so much going on here. The Bushby strawberries, those beautiful fruits from West Cork had run out, just a few left. No problem. Blackberries are growing well “out the back” - lots of herbs there too and there will be more. So those blackberries are on the menu in an instant! Beat that for fresh and local.
So what did we have al fresco on a sunny Friday evening? Started with Antipasto (10.50), one of three sharing boards. It consisted of Pana Sourdough, Mozzarella from Macroom, artichoke hearts and more, with little bowls of hummus and pesto. Enjoyed that, me sipping from a cooling flavourful pint of Eight Degrees Howling Gale Ale (5.00) while CL was enjoying some of Bertha’s Revenge Gin with Fever-tree Tonic (9.50).
Victor is well known for his part in the House Cafe in the Opera House and there are similarities with the food in that successful venture. For instance, suppliers such as Ballyhoura and Kilbrack Farm also feature in Watergrasshill.
As does butcher Eoin O’Mahony (no relation). The O’Mahony’s Bavette steak salad, a beautiful Asian marinade worked a treat on the meat which is scattered with sesame seeds and served with vermicelli noodles (9.50), is a beauty.
The Lamb Kofta is another highlight, also €9.50. This comes with Cork made Syrian flatbread, hummus, tzatziki, sumac pickled onions and leaves.
Time now for dessert. With the strawberries running out, Victor suggested the Treats Board (8.50). And we shared the delights of the mix of a Shortbread treat with fruit (those blackberries from Watergrasshill, not Guatemala), a chocolate brownie, a lemon curd slice, and more.
Too full to dance after that! Only joking. The food here is excellent, well sourced and you won’t be stuffed with chips, mash, baked potatoes and so on. But do watch out for their side of Patatas Bravas, just one of many good things in this warm welcoming venue. Try it out soon, just ten minutes from the tunnel!
|Tradition and sustainability|
Main St, Watergrasshill, Co. Cork
6pm – 9pm, Fri – Sun
6pm – 9pm, Fri – Sun
+353 (0)86 831 6879
Monday, March 26, 2018
Eight Degrees Can Three Of Their Range
Eight Degrees are the latest brewery to can their beers. The Mitchelstown based firm launched three cans this March, two with established favourites and one with a newcomer. Very colourful cans they are too, joining a myriad of other colourful cans on the shelves. Canfusion for me but luckily Michael Creedon in Bradley’s always knows where the one you want is situated.
Brewery co-owner Scott Baigent said: “We've definitely seen an increased demand for cans in recent times and, despite our ongoing love for the 330ml bottle, are releasing three of our beers in 440ml cans.”
Neon Velvet Kiwifruit and Lime infused FPA, 5.0% abv, 39 IBUs
This is the newcomer, a limited edition beer, and only available in cans or on draught. This cloudy beer is a golden colour. Aromas are bright hoppy. Very pleasant smooth intro. Infused with kiwi and lime and more flavour from the Citrus and Amarillo hops, all before a dry hopping with New Zealand hops Pacific Jade and Motueka. A lovely fruity ale, “hazy, silky and fruity” as they say themselves and with a dry finish.
Lots of food pairing suggestions on the Eight Degrees site but the one I fancy is: “a chunk of good Irish farmhouse cheddar will play off the fruit flavours in both elements of the pairing”.
Citra Single Hop IPA, 5.7% abv, 62 IBUs
Tropical fruit aromas and flavours on display from the get-go here with this pale orange coloured beer. Hoppy notes too in the aromas. The Citra hop holds up well on this solo run, its tropical flavours scoring all the way through, the malt also playing its part in quite a flavoursome drop indeed, fruity and juicy and a good finish as well.
Think I'd like to try that with the suggested “grilled spicy fresh Gubbeen chorizo sausages”.
Full Irish Single Malt IPA 6.0%, 65 IBUs
This excellent beer is well known at this stage, having gathered award after award following its 2014 launch. They describe this as “a hop bomb” and so it is but the bitterness in this pale gold drink is rounded. No shortage of hops in the aromas with citrus and floral notes in there too. Local barley is the malt hero here but the hops (Ahtanum, Centennial, Citra, Amarillo) share the limelight as this clean tasting well-balanced IPA makes its journey across the palate before you enjoy that rounded bitterness at the finalé. Quite a few food suggestions again; I’m inclined to go for the smoked duck, especially if it's Ummera.
So there you go. An excellent way to pass an evening watching Champions League on the telly. Just as well, Barca stopped at three against Chelsea!
Stockists: Eight Degrees beers are widely available in Ireland. Also in Italy, France and the Benelux countries. See stockists here. I got my three (for a tenner) at Bradley's Cork.
Thursday, December 14, 2017
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
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.
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).
Tel: 021 427 8134. Int: 00 353 21 427 8134
Email (general enquiries only): firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, December 11, 2017
Winter Kings by Eight Degrees.
Royal Clash of the Oak. And the Holly.
|Ale (left) and stout, peaceful in the pack.|
Quite a lot of talk about Brett C when Eight Degrees recently launched their pair of winter seasonals, a Belgian Pale Ale and an Imperial Stout, both part of the Ballyhoura Series.
Who the hell is Brett C? I googled it and found that he is a Melbourne, Australia based photographer who specialises in sport, fashion, event and people photography.
We all know Eight Degrees have antipodean connections but this is the wrong answer. Brettanomyces is its proper name and it is a yeast that the brewery has used in each of these beers. Brett C, the yeast that is, is more likely to be noticed in the aromas than in the flavours and funky is the term regularly associated with it.
Mid-winter is a source of many legends and myths and the battle between the oak king and the holly king is the one you’ll see on the bottle labels. Various versions abound and here are two links you might explore when sipping these Mitchelstown gems.
Tree lore https://aliisaacstoryteller.com/2015/11/30/tree-lore-in-irish-mythology-holly-king-of-winter/
The Holly King (wren) and the Oak King (robin) https://stairnaheireann.net/2016/04/13/the-holly-and-oak-king/
|Scott (left) and Cam, at work|
The Oak King Belgian Pale Ale, 6.5% abv, RRP €7.95 (75ml bottle)
This Belgian style pale ale has an amber robe. There’s an almost cider-y intro to the palate, gradually getting more complex before a tart finish. Sour maybe but not crab apple sour, perhaps the oak has rounded off any extremes.
Austere is probably the single best word to describe this sophisticated offering. Don't let the “austere” put you off though. This is one of the most interesting seasonal beers this Christmas and I may well be serving it as an aperitif in champagne flutes as suggested by the brewery.
Brewery tips: Serve well chilled in champagne flutes as an aperitif on Christmas morning, with a half-dozen oysters or some smoked salmon, or take it to the dinner table to pair perfectly with your turkey.
The Holly King Imperial Stout, 9.8% abv, €11.95 RRP (75ml bottle)
As black as a mid-winter’s night in a Ballyhoura boreen, though it starts with a tanned head that, like many a tan from a bottle, doesn't last too long. The intro to the palate is intense, treacle like in flavour or maybe it’s funk, but soon more traditional flavours, including coffee, take over. Some vanilla there too, all brought together, along with Brett C of course, during the sojourn in the oak casks (previously used for Pinot Noir). Strong start, strong finish, quite a player for the Christmas team.
Brewery tips: It's a hugely complex beer, so pour it into snifters and sip it slowly to end a meal with a slice of spicy Christmas Cake, studded with nuts and dried fruit, classic Black Forrest Gateau or a box of cocoa-dusted dark chocolate truffles.
* Both are packaged in 750ml amber champagne-style bottles and are available individually or as 2 x 750ml bottle gift packs (RRP €19.95). They are widely available, including at Bradley’s Cork; for more stockists and more info, click here: BeoirFinder App now available for Android and iOS .
* And while you're on the net, check out some of my favourite funk right here
* And while you're on the net, check out some of my favourite funk right here
Thursday, December 7, 2017
The SpitJack's Superb New Menu.
Amazing Cheese and Fortifieds List
|Pom'O (right) and Ice Wine|
The SpitJack has hit the ground running in Washington Street and, with its first summer a success, has just announced its new winter menu. I took the opportunity to try it out in mid-week. The meats as you’d expect, as SpitJack is a rotisserie, are top notch but the real surprise was the new Cheese and Fortified Menu. Not too many of our top restaurants will match this magical list of possible combinations.
And the good news is that there is quite a local input. Near neighbours, Ardsallagh Goats and Johnny Fall Down, feature strongly. The inventive Glounthaune drinks outfit are doubly represented with a Pom’O Apple Port and a Rare Apple Ice Wine.
The Pom’O is based on the traditional Normandy pommeau (pressed apple juice with apple brandy) but the Glounthaune orchard has added a twist or two of their own to make this beauty. They used rare apples and then a combination of freezing and thawing, a year long fermentation and nothing at all was added to make the Ice Wine, the first Irish ice wine to be sold.
It is beautiful and rich and perfect with the cheeses that we had and with the Ardsallagh Ash Pyramid in particular. Ardsallagh have a much longer history in the East Cork area than Johnny Fall Down but Jane Murphy continues to innovate and this is her first ash pyramid. Made from pasteurised mild goats milk, it is formed into the traditional Valencay shape and sealed in ash. Got an early taste during the Culture Night but this is the first commercial batch and it won't be the last.
The Ardsallagh was served with Fig Compote. Our second cheese was a favourite of ours from our (too) few visits to the Basque country. It is a sheep cheese from Ossau-Iraty a area of the Pyrenees where we got “lost” once or twice. In the Basque country, they often serve it with a Black Cherry conserve (I use Loganberry jam at home!); last night, SpitJack’s Quince paste was excellent.
Then we finished with the Comte AOC from the Jura mountains, served with truffle honey. This 24 month vieux is a beauty, delicious, and enhanced by that honey.
Other cheeses on this impressive list include: Brillat Savarin, Camembert Bonchoix AOC, Cashel Blue Mature, Durrus Og, Epoisses AOC, Manchego 18 months PDO, Pont L’Évêque AOC, and Stilton PDO. There are three Quinta Seara D’Ordens signature ports on the fortifieds list while dessert wines include Chateau Camperos Sauternes and a couple of sherries, a Colosio PX and Orleans Borbon Manzanilla, plus the two Johnny Fall Down drinks.
The new menu, like the previous one, is well constructed, in the sense that, if you wish, you can avoid meat in the starters and that’s what we did.
Salted cod is an Atlantic tradition so I was delighted to see the House Salted Cod “Bunyols” (€8.5) Catalan Style Cod Fritters, Flaked Salted Cod, Fried Crisp Exterior, Soft Pillow Centre, Lime Chantilly, delighted too that I choose this tasty plateful.
Across the table, CL also made a good pick. The pickled Heirloom Beetroot Carpaccio (€7) with Ardsallagh Goats Cheese Foam, Candied Walnuts, Tarragon Oil, Watercress, looked well and tasted well.
On now to the main event, as my Eight Degrees Sunburnt Red Ale sank in the glass. Time for the Rotisserie Pork Belly Porchetta (€17), Slow Roasted Pork Belly Stuffed with Sage & Garlic, Crisp Crackling, Kale Colcannon Potatoes, Braised Kale & Apple Compote, Sautéed Tender Stem Broccoli, Honey Mustard Jus. “Savage,” as we say around here. The word’s not the most sophisticated but, when pronounced with soul, means the meat (in this case) is rather good my dear.
And it also may be applied to CL’s earthy choice, a peasant’s pleasant pot in winter time of Brazed and Rotisserie Roasted Lamb Shank (€19.00), with Red Wine Glaze, Pearl Barley & Winter Vegetable Cassoulet, Crème Fraîche, Mint Oil, Braised Lamb & Brandy Jus. Local and seasonal, simple soul food, simple but superb.
So two very happy customers and that was before the cheese and Johnny Fall Down took us to a higher level!
Check out the new menus and more here at SpitJack
34 Washington Street
Thursday, October 19, 2017
Holy Smoke On The Mardyke
Temple of Fire and Smoke
If you visit Holy Smoke, and you should, you’ll be visiting a kingdom of fire and smoke. And your royal guides will be John Relihan and Deccie Walsh.
John welcomed us to their tasty palace on the Mardyke last Tuesday night for a rather special evening: six courses of pit smoked BBQ paired with either Irish Craft Beer or Irish Whiskey. Caroline Hennessy, of Eight Degrees and author of Slainte, introduced the beers while Killian O’Mahony, a recently qualified cooper at Midleton Distillery, told us about the whiskey.
Did you know that Holy Smoke is housed in the original Woodford Bourne cellars (1875), that stored at one time over 50,000 gallons of choice whiskies, Cognac, rum and casks of wine, sherries and ports?
John told us they cook here “with fire”, using a Japanese Robata grill and a large smoker. They use sustainable charcoal (supplied by an Oxford firm). Ribs take four hours while brisket and pork can take 14 to 16 hours. He stressed the importance of using the right charcoal and the right wood.
He has trained with some of the best, including Jamie Oliver, and in many cuisines including BBQ, Italian, Spanish, Japanese. “It’s been quite a journey,” said the man from Duagh in Co, Kerry. They have just introduced steak to the menu - “you can expect lots of different cuts and do check out our Jazz event on October 25th.” Link is here.
Six courses seems like a lot. But the Holy Smoke team judged this to perfection. It was quality all the way but the quantity was spot-on too, not too much and certainly not too little.
After a welcome drink of Prosecco and a bowl of pickles and pork scratchings, Caroline introduced the first of the beers. “The Franciscan Well were among the first of our craft brewers and their traditional red ale, the Rebel Red, is great with pork.” And our first dish was Gubbeen Hot Links Sausages. These spicy sausages, commonly used in southern US barbecues, got the taste buds up and running.
More pork now but of a very different kind: Wet Rubbed Baby Back Ribs (marinaded overnight and smoked for four hours over oak). Caroline praised the quality of Irish Malt and said Eight Degrees were proud to use it. And certainly the Howling Gale Pale Ale had a good solid base of malt, a lovely aroma and not too hoppy and proved a good match for the ribs and the cornbread.
And next came one of the highlights of the night: Pulled Pork Slider (shoulder smoked low and slow for 14 hours). Amazingly succulent and delicious and the Stonewell cider, that Caroline had been keeping in reserve, proved an ideal match.
Head Chef Deccie Walsh managed to take a few minutes away from the kitchen and told us of his love for slow cooking and nose to tail cooking. He really enjoys this type of event. After last night, we all do!
Another highlight next: Pit Smoked BBQ Chicken Wings (marinaded, smoked for 4 hours and char-grilled). Accompanied by pickled celery and a blue cheese dip, this was a superb mid-menu course, fingers in action again. And the beer? Another from Eight Degrees: the Barefoot Bohemian Pilsner, a nice light beer in the traditional Czech style and excellent with the wings.
Brisket Burnt End Sliders were now arriving on the table, another highlight for me, all the more appreciated when we heard that their journey to our plates had started during the storm of the day before.
We had a two drinks to go with this one. The first was a can of the Franciscan Well Irish Pale Ale, a favourite of mine. “Don't drink from the can,” Caroline advised. “Pour it into the glass, the better to appreciate its lovely amber colour, the citrus aromas. As you drink, you’ll note the citrus bite.”
Killian told us about the importance of the casks as he introduced the Green Spot whiskey made at Midleton from pot still whiskey aged between seven and nine years, with 25% coming from sherry casks.
Time then for dessert: Chocolate, banana and caramel brownie, with a whiskey sauce. Obviously, if you had whiskey remaining (I didn’t), you could have tried a drop with this.
The final beer was the award-winning Amber Ella from Eight Degrees. As Caroline said, it has a lovely malty flavour to go with the brownie and the sauce. First brewed in 2014, this American style amber surprised the home brewers by taking a bronze in the World Beer Cup in the US. “It was a big surprise,” recalled Caroline. “ It was a boost for Eight Degrees but also a boost for Irish craft.”
Killian had ended his whiskey intro with a toast to friendship and the lovely evening finished in that kind of spirit, old friends met and new friends made. Thanks for the invite and Slainte to all at Holy Smoke.
Monday, September 18, 2017
Taste Cork Week. Plus!
Jazz Extension Added
|The perfect cider pour by Rupert of Longueville House|
Following last year’s success, Taste Cork Week returns next month. Indeed, it will run for more than a week with an extension that takes it up to the eve of the Jazz Weekend.
At the launch last week, in Nano Nagle Place, the spanking new major attraction right in the heart of the city, Ernest Cantillon of Festival Cork told us to watch out for some of the more informal events: jazz cafes, a distillery visit in a barn, and pop ups in unusual places.
|Ernest Cantillon of Festival Cork|
One or more of those pop ups will be in the café in the peaceful gardens of Nano Nagle. Keep an eye on the Taste Cork website here for more details of all events.
Evenings with guest chefs always seem to be popular. One of the highlights from last year was in Isaac’s when Arun Kapil, founder of award-winning spice company Green Saffron, Chef Patron Canice Sharkey along with restaurant co-owners Michael and Catherine Ryan, hosted an exclusive sold-out spice pop-up at the Cork city institution in McCurtain Street.
Holy Smoke are one of the first up this year with an invite “to embark on a unique gourmet journey and experience the best of Irish BBQ cuisine, prepared with the local meat that is cooked in Holy Smoke’s signature barbecue-style, low-n-slow, for four to sixteen hours”.
Pitmasters John Relihan and Decky Walsh will serve up an exquisite six-course meal on October 17th and will walk you through the secrets and preparation techniques behind each dish while Caroline Hennessy will masterfully guide you through the pairing of each dish, presenting and explaining the corresponding whiskey or craft beer.
Justin Green, and Bertha’s Revenge of course, were at the launch. And Justin has an event lined up at Ballyvolane House. It will kick-off at 12 noon (October 18th) with a B&T (Bertha & Tonic) and as soon as everyone has arrived, guests will be given a tour of the house, gardens and gin distillery.
Lunch will be served at 1pm in the dining terrace where guests can meet and chat with the makers over lunch. Stonewell Cider and Eight Degrees Brewing will also be involved and tipples produced by all three makers will be served during lunch.
So there you are, a nice trip to the countryside. As Ernest Cantillon said in his address the event is designed to bring city and county together and indeed both were officially represented on the night.
|Lorna Conroy of|
Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald pointed to the fact that Cork has been designated as a Healthy City and put that down largely to the good food in the area. He stressed the importance of festivals in drawing visitors and said he was very proud of what Ernest and his colleagues are doing.
Ian Doyle, Deputy County Mayor, rightly congratulated the City Council on the marvellous work that they have done (and are continuing to do) at Nano Nagle Place, “a fantastic venue”. He noted that artisan food and drink are becoming very important and praised the great dedication shown by the producers.
Ernest said there is a great relationship between businesses, such as restaurants and hotels and suppliers. “Cork is well known for the quality of its produce and it is up to us to make sure we use it.”
Shane Clarke, of Nano Nagle Place, gave us a brief rundown of the life of Nano Nagle and of the current project and said there had been some 250 years of education on the site, an element they intend to take forward. And he too mentioned their lovely cafe and is looking forward to the pop-ups during the festival. The Nano Nagle has just recently opened and is well worth a visit. Details here.
As is usual with Taste Cork, there were quite a few producers in Nano Nagle: Cider from Stonewell and Longueville, spirits from Bertha’s Revenge, Kinsale and St Patrick’s, Kinsale Bay and the Fish Deli (great to meet up again with Monica and Peter), Bluebell Falls, Hassett’s, On the Pigs Back, and Ballymaloe Relish. And the Old Butter Roads Food Trail had a lovely tasting plate. Well done to all for turning up and adding to the occasion.
Sunday, August 27, 2017
Great Irish Beer Hall
Beer, Cider, Food, Music
Headed to the City Hall at the weekend for the Great Irish beer Festival. Some twenty brewers were listed so that meant a huge choice. While each exhibitor displayed their menu, there was no overall list, such as you’d find at a wine-tasting.
|Michael Cowan of award winning Mont|
More difficult then to find a particular pathway through that amount of beer. Who had the sours? Who had the stouts? Did they bring them? Were all the recent award winners here?
It would have been made a little easier also if there was a measure smaller than the half-pint (€2.75). On the other hand, if you knew exactly what you wanted, all you needed to do was fill your glass (€5.50) to the pint mark!
I had targeted Sullivan’s from Kilkenny for my first call. That worked out well and there’ll be a separate post tomorrow on their lovely award winning red ale.
Indeed, there were award winners all over the hall, including local brewery Rising Sons who are having a great month: “August 2017 has been an incredible month for us, winning 5 Gold Medals at The World Beer Awards 2017.”
Not too far away in this bright room, with the tables and seats, was the Mont stall and they too were celebrating a World Beer Award as their lager was named the Country Winner (Ireland) for “Czech Style Pilsner Lager”.
Michael Cowan of Manor Brewing (Wicklow) is the public face of Mont, Ireland’s “super-premium Pilsner lager”. They use pure Wicklow Mountain spring water, the finest barley malts, Hallertau, Saaz and Cascade hops.
Michael 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.”
Their Bohemian style Pilsner has “an Irish accent” and an ABV of 5.1%. You can quickly taste why it is picking up awards. There is quite a backbone to it, full of flavour and hop character and a superb dry finish, great balance all through. “Moreish” as they say themselves.
Just to compare, I took a token over to Eight Degrees - they were in the darkened room - and got a glass of their Barefoot Bohemian, “an unorthodox lager with complex biscuity malt, soft rounded bitterness and a twist of spice from the noble Saaz and Hallertau hops.”
This crisp and lovely Pilsner doesn't quite have the heft of the Mont but, at 4% ABV, is perfect for a session. And it has retained its popularity since the summer of 2012 when the Mitchelstown brewery introduced it as a seasonal beer.
The Cotton Ball’s Indian Summer is another beer that has surprised its creators. This hybrid, “capturing the best of ale and lager” was supposed to be a seasonal but goes on and on.
After that we welcomed the Shoot the Breeze, a 4.5% ABV California Common, just introduced by the Franciscan Well. “This light hazy amber beer has a distinct fruit background as a result of our own unique twist!” I'm a big fan of the Well's core beers and the Chieftain, Friar Weisse and Rebel Red completed their line-up on the night.
Time now for stout, after all we are in Cork. And the Cotton Ball make a terrific stout, Lynch’s, in the traditional creamy style. But there’s no shortage of substance, coffee and caramel and a dry finalé, behind the silky smoothness. A pleasure indeed to sink one of these.
Two heads are better than one, according to Jameson, talking about their Caskmates, which has emerged from a collaboration between themselves and the Franciscan Well Brewery.
First, the Well used whiskey casks to brew two beers, Jameson Aged Stout launched in 2013 and Jameson Pale Ale launched in 2014. The stout-seasoned casks were then returned to Midleton and this whiskey is the result. It has worked well and Jameson are now engaged in similar ventures with some US breweries.
No alteration to the usual Jameson smoothness in Caskmates. Maybe there is a hint of hops there but, back in the dark room, I wasn't paying full attention as I sipped and chatted as the music played. It is a modern easy drinking fruity whisky with a long sweet finish. Quite a lovely finalé to my excellent evening in the City Hall. For the music fans, the night was only beginning,
* My favourite beers, from the fraction that I sampled, were: the Mont Pilsner, Lynch’s Stout, and Sullivan’s Red Ale.
See also: An Ale of Two Families. Brewery Lost in a Bet.
See also: An Ale of Two Families. Brewery Lost in a Bet.