Showing posts with label Finns' Table. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Finns' Table. Show all posts

Monday, March 4, 2019

Mellot Sancerre. Surprise Tasting In Kinsale's Finns' Table


Mellot Sancerre. Surprise Tasting
 In Kinsale's Finns' Table
On a stony hill in Sancerre

Quelle surprise! In Finns’ Table Kinsale recently, we were delighted to have the opportunity, totally unexpected, to talk with Olivier of Joseph Mellot wines from Sancerre. 

It was late in the evening when Olivier arrived but he was as enthusiastic as if it were a sunny morning by the banks of famous Loire. 

“It’s a very long story,” he said, referring to the family’s history in the area. It began in 1513! In the 17th century, the family obviously knew their wine well enough for César Mellot to be appointed sommelier to Louis XIV, this paving the rue for a long dynasty of passionate winemakers. Sancerre by the way, is as close to Paris as it is to Tours and then too the kings regularly visited the chateaux on the Loire.

In the 20th century, Alphonse Mellot, is the first winemaker of Sancerre to exhibit his wines at the Foire de Paris and to win several medals in wine and culinary events. He then opened a warehouse in the Halle aux vins of Bercy to develop his sales in the capital. 

Nowadays, Joseph Mellot wines are sold in over 40 countries, and distributed here in Ireland by Longueville Wines. And Longueville was represented in Finns Table by none other than Eoghan O’Hea who I hadn’t set eyes on since his Tennents days.

The soil of course goes back even further, tens of millions of years. “The ocean has been here twice,” said Olivier. Flint dominates the soil now and it and Sauvignon Blanc get on very well together. “It is a well draining soil, gives lots of aromatics and minerality. Last but not least, the sun warms the stones and if you walk in the vines at 11.00pm, you’ll find it 2-4 degrees warmer then elsewhere as the warm stones return the heat to the vines. The night-time warmth encourages the grapes to ripen, an earlier harvest. Amazing.”

The Mellot vineyard is on hills in Sancerre, at 450 metres altitude, above the River Loire which still has some 500 kms to travel before it reaches the Atlantic. Wine-Searcher says Sancerre is typically less "obvious" than the most famous New World styles of Sauvignon Blanc; less grassy than those from Marlborough and less overtly citrussy than those from Chile. Once upon a time, Sancerre made mostly red wines but now their Pinot Noir accounts for just about 20% of wine. But that may change again with global warming!

Julie Finn had been gently and generously introducing us to the wines before Olivier’s arrival. The red was Le Connétable, Cuvée Prestige, a red Sancerre of character! The fruit is raised on those hillsides rich in flint. It is matured in oak barrel for one year, local French oak that is, and then one year in bottle before release. 

It boasts an aromatic persistence with notes of blackberry and cherry.  Matched perfectly my starter of beef brisket and CL’s main course of lamb.

We also enjoyed the Domaine de Bellecours 2016, a delicious Sauvignon Blanc with a pale gold colour and aromas of tropical fruit. Palate shows elegant balance of freshness and fruit. Superb with the restaurant’s Oysterhaven mussels starter and later with the Seafood Bourride (Provencal fish stew).

Cuvée Pierre Etienne 2015 is another Sauvignon Blanc, smooth and elegant and quite a treat. Beautiful yellow/golden colour, sign of the ageing in barrel which has also tamed the strong mineral character of the younger wines. Generous and intense, with a nice aromatic persistence. 

This cuvée was created in tribute to the founder of the Mellot dynasty, Pierre Etienne, and his descendants. It is vinified only in the best vintages and just 3,000 bottles are produced. The front and neck labels are reproductions from the 1930s. We were really privileged to sample this on the night! A mega merci to Julie and John!







Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Always a Warm Welcome at The Trident Hotel Kinsale


Always a Warm Welcome at The Trident Hotel Kinsale

Always enjoy going back to the Trident Hotel in Kinsale. The views from the bedrooms, any of their 75 rooms, are striking. The hotel is spectacularly set on the water's edge in Kinsale, in a prime location for guests to enjoy the views of the harbour. And quite often the sun is shining! As it was last week when we called. The Trident has a private marina and onsite parking (very handy in the busy seaside town).

The hotel, under manager Hal McElroy, has been through an extensive upgrade and its interiors are now looking splendid as well. We stayed in one of those refurbished bedrooms and we had splendid views of the harbour. The decor is restful and the spacious room had all we needed, including hairdryer (well, I didn't need that!) and tea-maker.
Room with a view

The welcome here is always warm but it got that little bit better last Monday (18th) when we were told we were upgraded. We enjoyed that. While walking along the corridors, I was struck by the restful colour combination, mainly white and grey on the walls, blue and grey in the carpet, and a little extra colour in the curtains. All very peaceful throughout. A really lovely place to stay, good rooms, good food, and just about four minutes from the very heart of the town.
Sandycover, near Kinsale

Kinsale itself has quite a lot to offer. It has often been called the Gourmet Capital of Ireland. You’ll get some arguments from other areas no doubt but Kinsale was awarded The Restaurants Association of Ireland’s ‘Top Foodie Town’ in the 2018 competition. 

The Trident and its manager are key players in Kinsale, long-time members of the town’s Good Food Circle which believe it or not are now taking bookings for the annual Gourmet Festival. Dates this year, for the 43rd running of this famous and fun event, are 11th to 13th of October. 
Safe harbour
For more info, check "Kinsale Good Food Circle - 43rd Kinsale Gourmet Festival”. Before that though, the Good Food Circle will host the National Chowder Championships in April with a street food festival on the same weekend (6/7 April 2019). 
Charlesfort

If you visit the town, you’ll be assured of good places to stay and terrific restaurants and café, and you’ll be well set up for some fabulous sightseeing. Charlesfort overlooks the harbour and is perhaps the biggest attraction in the town. It is open all year and regular guided tours are available. Well worth a visit and you can also see it from the water if you take one of the popular Kinsale harbour cruises.

Desmond Castle, an even older building in the heart of the town, is open during the season. It is also known locally as the French Prison. Built originally as a customs house, it now includes a wine museum as one of its attractions.
Lusitania Museum and the Old Head

The nearby coast includes many small coves that are worth a visit (see here) and not too far away there is the large beach at Garrettstown, the waters here also popular with surfers. On the way, you may stop and admire the famous Old Head of Kinsale and visit the nearby Signal Tower and Lusitania Museum.

Kinsale, often called the gateway to West Cork (see my West Cork Package), is your starting point on the Wild Atlantic Way. It is hardly 30 minutes from Cork City, even less from the airport and not too far away from the ferryport of Ringaskiddy.
In the harbour

Our latest visit was prompted by Kinsale Restaurant Week, a very successful event that finished up on the 24th of February. We had a great meal, a great night indeed, in Finns’ Table, another member of the Good Food Circle. 
Blacks Ale

Breakfast view at the Trident
Finished the night with a pint of local beer (from Blacks Micro-Brewery and Distillery) in the Trident’s Wharf Bar. And said goodbye to the Trident after a hearty breakfast in Pier One, their main restaurant, used mainly for breakfast and functions. 

The lively Wharf Bar downstairs will keep you well fed during the day and evening. And in the good weather, at the water’s edge, the Trident have their self contained Foredeck Bar with some seating for your comfort.

Oh, the hospitality continued at the breakfast table when we were surprised with the gift of a bottle of wine from Anthony of the Trident and congrats from all the servers. He knew we had been been celebrating our 50th anniversary at Finns’ Table. Thanks to Anthony and the Trident. And, before you ask, we didn’t open the lovely Sancerre at breakfast!

Also on this Kinsale trip:
Dinner at Finns' Table
Surprise Mellot Sancerre Tasting at Finns' Table



Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Finns’ Table Highlights Kinsale Can-do Attitude. Especially when it come to food!


Finns’ Table Highlights Kinsale Can-do Attitude
Especially when it comes to food!
Beef Brisket Croquette

Kinsale’s renowned Good Food Circle seem to have backed a winner with their Restaurant Week. The place is abuzz as was Finns’ Table when we walked in there around 7.00pm last Monday. We hadn’t met Julie and chef John with quite a while so it was great to take the opportunity to eat, drink and chat in such a lovely and lively spot.


Julie had reserved the “Love Table” for us, knowing that we were celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary. So we sipped our Veuve Clicquot and soon we were tucking into two delightful mini-loaves from John’s kitchen, a treacle bread and also a potato bread, each different, both delicious.

So, what do they give you for your twenty euro? A choice of four starters and four mains, all really top class. One starter was Mushrooms on toast, crispy hen’s egg and Hollandaise sauce, another was Jerusalem Artichoke soup with honey, almond and rosemary granola.

Not easy to turn down either of those but I picked the Braised Irish Beef Brisket Croquet with celeriac remoulade and horseradish cream. The packed croquet was full of flavour, the remoulade and cream the perfect partners. CL spotted that the local mussels (from nearby Oysterhaven) were enhanced with coconut, coriander, ginger and lemongrass. Oh, the steamed bivalves have rarely been so well accompanied in a bowl.

Joseph Mellot wines from Sancerre - we would meet Olivier from the winery later on in the evening - were produced and much appreciated as the lovely occasion unfolded.

So what would we have for mains?  The quartet on offer were all very tempting indeed. There was a Confit Duck Leg, slow cooked, with Rosscarbery black pudding, and cider braised lentils and also a Vegetarian Wellington (Uncle Tom’s Turnip, Sweet Potato and Bandon Vale Cheddar). 

The Irish Lamb Tasting plate was CL’s choice: Roast Rump, Slow Cooked Neck and Braised Shoulder, with Fondant Potato and Jus. We swapped wines at this point with CL taking the Pinot Noir and I taking the Sauvignon Blanc. The SB proved a perfect match with the exquisite Seafood Bourride, a Provencal style fish stew containing lightly poached local fish and shellfish in saffron broth with garlic aioli and herbs, a delightful  mix of flavours and aromas.
Bourride

I’ve often thought that it is the small things on your plate that can indicate a chef’s skill. And what caught our attention here, in the most delightful way, was the side of Mixed Garden vegetables. No exotic veg included but excellent stuff, superbly cooked and a pure delight on the palate. Still wondering what little extra magic he added here. 

Fair play to the Finns. Since moving to Kinsale from nearby Timoleague about six years ago they have played a full role in the Good Food Circle, as indeed do all the members. Bookings have been brisk for this week’s combined venture and you may find it too late to reserve a place in some venues. 

But two excellent courses for just twenty euro is well worth checking out. The full list involved is: Actons Hotel, The Blue Haven, The Bulman, Jim Edwards, Finns’ Table, Fishy Fishy, Man Friday, The Supper Club, The Trident Hotel, The White House, and The White Lady. The week opened on the 18th and closes on the 24th - no time to lose!
Lamb

The big event for the Good Food Circle comes every October when the annual Gourmet Festival takes place. Dates this year, for the 43rd running of this famous and fun event, are 11th to 13th of October. And, believe it or not, bookings can now be made. Check "Kinsale Good Food Circle - 43rd Kinsale Gourmet Festival”  for further info.

Before that though, the Good Food Circle will host the national Chowder Championships in April with a street food festival on the same weekend (6/7 April 2019). 

Cast Your Vote in the 9th All-Ireland Chowder Cook-Off on Sunday 7th April.  Kinsale Good Food Circle want your help to find the best chowder chef in Ireland. A representative from each of the 32 counties will compete for the title of “All-Ireland Chowder Champion” at the annual All-Ireland Chowder Cook-Off. Everyone attending the event will have a chance to vote for their favourite chowder-chef. The food festival in the streets will be held on the Saturday (6th).

FINNS' TABLE, 6 MAIN STREET, KINSALE. 
Phone:  021 4709636