Showing posts with label Gluten Free. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gluten Free. Show all posts

Monday, December 30, 2019

Christmas Cheer Reviewed. Including Drinks Gluten Free & Alcohol Free

Summer Beer Downed In December
Including Drinks Gluten Free & Alcohol Free

Very much into seasonal when it comes to my food. Not so much when it’s beer. Especially when there’s a can handy, a can from Eight Degrees called Orange Ball 5. It’s part of their 8th year anniversary celebration series called Rack ‘Em Up and intended to be a summertime sup.

But I come across it late-ish, on a December night on the run-in to Christmas, spot the 3.9 abv and I say to myself that this Fruity Pale Ale fits the bill. Athgarret Malt, Ireland’s newest maltsters, as suppliers of the wheat and oats, get much of the credit. Credit too though to the brewers at the Mitchelstown brewery who came up with this fruity sessional pale ale, silky sunshine on a cloudy day. Just the job to fit this Bill, late on a windy Friday night. A juicy wet sunshine-ey kiss, declares the label. A kiss for all seasons, methinks.

Staying a bit out of sequence here, all the better to draw your attention to the Blue Ball, number 2 in the series. This one’s a coffee infused Vienna Lager (4.50%). You usually come across coffee in stouts but the Eight Degrees boffins went outside the box - they usually do - when they got together with local coffee roaster Badger & Dodo.

I admit to be being a little sceptical when I pulled this one. So it was quite a pleasant surprise when I found the combination worked a treat both on the nose and on the palate. The balance is just spot-on, another winner racked up in North Cork. By the way, who is Dodo? I have met the badger, better known as Brock.

The Christmas dinner was excellent, both food and company, and gave me a chance to pot the black. The  #8 Black Ball Metric Stout that is! Aged in Jameson whiskey barrels, the big bold (11.5%) stout proved quite a match for the Christmas pudding.

For all the excellent beers in the Rack ‘Em Up eight, my favourite remains the Howling Gale Irish Pale Ale. It is the first beer Eight Degrees ever brewed, back in 2011. Perfect then. Perfect now.

Just going back to Christmas Day. We had quite a few visitors. Some were driving so I made sure to have a few non alcoholic beers in the house. The newish Dungarvan Brewery Main Sail was one and that went down well. One guy enjoyed the Erdinger but no one tried the Russian Baltica.

The big alcoholic attraction though was the Chateau Turcaud "Cuvée Majeure" Bordeaux blanc, a beautiful wine in an impressive magnum, a present for our 50th earlier in the year!

As usual there were bubbles - of various types. And here a local Elderflower cordial, made by Maura’s Kitchen and bought at Killavullen Market, came into its own, drawing lots of compliments. Sometimes, it was mixed with sparkling wine and, where the request was for no alcohol, with sparkling water. Really made quite a favourable impression all round.

Bīru, appropriately enough since it is the Japanese word for beer, is the name of a premium light lager with an abv of 4.3%, which also proved a favourite. It is a Japanese inspired rice beer;  ingredients also include water, malted barley, maize and hops and is also gluten free.

It certainly tastes pretty well with a very smooth mouthfeel. Easy-drinking, light and refreshing, with very little bittering, it is an ideal session drink. It is contract brewed by Cork’s Cotton Ball Brewery.

As you probably know, the 9 White Deer Brewery, from Baile Bhúirne, have a full range of Gluten Free beers and their Stag Bán ale was very popular with our guests. 

So there you are. More than one way to a Happy Christmas! Now here’s to a happy 2020.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Susan’s Award-winning ‘Jewelled Christmas Cake’ Is A Festival Gem

Susan’s Award-winning
 ‘Jewelled Christmas Cake’ Is A Festival Gem

Great excitement for Susan Robbins Fehilly when her Christmas cake was declared the overall winner at the recent Irish Quality Food & Drink Awards. I could say it was the icing on the cake but there’s no icing on this champion, just a crown of preserved fruits and nuts. 

The “Jewelled Christmas Cake” is indeed a winner as I found out when I sampled it last weekend. I spoke to Susan who recalled the night of triumph: “What a fantastic night it was at the Irish Quality Food Awards 2019! Winning not only the Christmas cakes and pudding category, but also the overall Christmas Q award. Of course, not forgetting our Chocolate and Raspberry cake which won the Good Choice cakes and biscuit category!”  Wildberry is a regular award winner but this was something special.
And that cake is something special. Once I got it home, a small slice was extracted and I sat down in anticipation with an Americano at hand. It is absolutely delicious. The fruit cake itself is superb, wonderful textures and flavours and the fruit and nuts from the crown add an extra individual flavour as you take a nibble from the top of your slice every now and then. Easy to see why the judges went for this one, Wildberry’s first attempt at the Christmas Cake market.

The Wildberry bakery is located in the village of Ballineen, West Cork. It has both a Gluten Free & a Floury unit. Their complete focus is on taste and quality. All cakes are handmade to taste perfection using only the best ingredients. For instance, Clonakilty free range eggs and Bandon butter are used in the Christmas cake, no preservatives, no additives. Susan’s ethos is to create great flavours and textures, particularly in her Gluten Free Range. Her influences are French but her passion is for Irish ingredients and the excellence of Irish food.

It also looks stunning, with that necklace of preserved fruits and nuts on top instead of traditional icing. And a little tip. All you need here is a small slice, such is the concentration of flavour. It’s a bit like sipping a very fine wine as against a run of the mill bottle -  a little goes on long way. At an rrp of €15 for an 800g cake, this would be a welcome gift in any home, especially your own!

It is available in in the following Dunnes stores, at the ABC Bread concessions: Cornelscourt, Rathmines, Naas, Bishopscourt [ Bandon Rd ] Cork, Jetland [ Limerick].
The 800g [€15] and the 1600g [ €25] are also available at ABC in the English Market.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Kinsale Bay Food Company. Big Range of Gluten Free Products

Kinsale Bay Food Company

Big Range of Gluten Free Products
Kinsale Bay

I visited the Kinsale Bay Food Company’s premises last week. With a name that includes Kinsale, you'd expect some fish products. And you won't be disappointed. But there are also lots of soups, chowders, patés, even Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie. And all are Gluten Free.

GF is a growing market, and not just for coeliacs! According to a very recent report by Bord Bia, one in five Irish people are regular gluten free shoppers, though if you look at the accompanying infographic you’ll see that it is one in five shoppers. Even so, it is a massive number considering only 1% of the Irish population have been medically diagnosed with coeliac disease.

The Bord Bia insight centre has three tips for producers:
1 Gluten Free brands need to challenge mainstream.
2 Product should not feel like a compromise
3 Emphasise health credentials.

Thanks to Aoife Barry (Market and Area Manager, South-West), I visited the Kinsale Bay facility at Little Island and have been sampling the produce since and it seems to be that they didn't need to be tipped - they are already up to speed.

General Manager Tommy Doyle emphasised freshness. “We worked with local suppliers to get the freshest daily supply of quality ingredients… we don’t store the end of the working day, there may be a half bucket left…Everything we sell is produced here.” Suppliers include Matt O’Connell Seafood, Keohane’s Seafood, Daly's Seafood while fruit and vegetables come from Allfresh Wholesale.
Some of the Kinsale Bay staff in Little Island.

Then it is over to the chefs in the Kinsale Bay kitchens, who work in really modern facilities, streamlined from start to finish. There has been a lot of investment over the three years.

And they have developed recipes that are bursting with flavour and texture, which makes eating a gluten free diet an enjoyable dining experience. No artificial preservatives and additives are used thus ensuring the highest quality and wholesome taste. No compromise here.

Eleanor Downes, the Quality Manager, gave me a tour. Precautions are strict here but, booted and suited up, wristwatch off, nothing loose allowed, we started and there would be more changing and hand-washing as we moved from one unit to another.
Your paté comes with its own relish. Cool!

Hygiene is paramount, lots of checks during and after production. “With the highest standard of diligence we ensure that no gluten containing products are on the production site, to eliminate risk of cross contamination.” And, while checking the ingredients, I was delighted to see no big confusing words in the lists! No mono-this or poly-that!

And so we moved through the various processes: soup production, chowder filling, regeneration process, blast chilling process, X-Ray (that’s why I left my watch and mobile in reception) and packaging, packing and storage and then dispatch. 

The company, then called Blue Haven, started in 2008 selling in a small way at the Kinsale town market. Then they spread their wings, and awards (Great Taste and Blas na hEireann) came their way. About three years back, there was a change of ownership and Kinsale Bay Food Company emerged.

So, what will we start with? A soup perhaps. Quite a choice: Vegetable, Tomato and Basil (might be my favourite!), Carrot and Coriander, Mushroom, Potato and Leek. And the Chowder is excellent too.

Then move on to a paté. Can't wait to try the Smoked salmon. The Chicken liver comes three ways, all smooth, one is just chicken liver, the second with Red Pepper Relish, the third with onion marmalade.  By the way, the “jam” is pumped into the small container first, the paté added later; so no need to go and buy a separate relish as it’s included. Very convenient. Very tasty too.

And now lets finish with the Kinsale Fish Pie, a dual award winning recipe based on fresh salmon, white fish, and smoked haddock chunks. Lots of good stuff there and they have recently added Shepherd's  Pie and Cottage Pie. New packaging and a new website on the way too so its all happening for Kinsale Bay.

Monday, February 27, 2017

5 Gluten Free Beers from 9 White Deer

5 Gluten Free Beers from 9 White Deer

Good news this week as Ballyvourney craft-brewers 9 White Deer launch Europe’s first full range of Gluten Free-Beer. The Stag Saor range features a Red Ale, a Pale Ale, an IPA, a Kölsch and a Stout.

So what’s a Kölsch? This is the beer of Cologne in Germany; Kölsch means “local to Cologne” (according to Beer FAQ) and the name is protected and that is why the Ballyvourney beer is labelled Kölsch style. Like its German inspiration, this Stag Saor light beer is cold lagered. With its gentle hops and malt character, it is easy-drinking, full flavoured with fruity hints and a crisp and lager style character.

I loved the Red Ale for its depth of flavour and texture and, with its likeness (in flavour) to stout. Good too with food. 

Like the others, their Pale Ale is vegan free and brewed with “love”. Easy to love too with its light body, aromas and moderate hop flavours. Lots of new age hops in the IPA. Hop usage is late in the boil so giving big flavours and aromas without major bitterness. Well balanced and quaffable.

The Saor Stout though is perhaps my favourite of the five. This is described as a double chocolate and Madagascan vanilla stout, rich and luxurious. You must try this chocolate “block” from the West Cork Gaeltacht; it is distinctive and delicious.

Don O'Leary
For a chance to meet the founders and sample the new Stag Saor gluten-free range, drop in to O’Brien’s Off Licence, Beacon South Quarter, Dublin on Thursday 2nd March between 12 noon and 8pm or Matson’s, Cooney's Lane, Grange, Douglas Co. Cork on Friday 3rd March between 12 noon and 8pm.

9 White Deer was founded in 2014 by former marine engineer, Gordon Lucey, and respected publican Don O’Leary (who runs the famous Mills Inn pub). The brewery initially offered a core range of four beers. Within the company’s first year, Don was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance, which essentially determined the direction for the business.

Don O’Leary recalls: “At first the timing seemed terrible, we had just opened a craft brewery and I identified as gluten intolerant! However, the development of Stag Saor has changed everything for the business.  It prompted us to research the market and see how limited the beer offering is for those with gluten intolerance. There have been a very small number of gluten-free lagers and pale ales developed in Ireland over the last two years but, with options still very limited, we identified an opportunity to create a full range of gluten-free beers, which also taste really good,”.
Co-founder Gordon Lucey began brewing at home in 1999 and has since become a qualified brewer.  He said, “We are determined to lead the way in breaking new ground for brewing in Ireland. It was critical to us that our gluten-free range, not only met the gluten-free requirements but also tasted great. Each batch of the Stag Saor range is independently tested and certified to maintain its excellence and to ensure that it complies with EU regulations of less than 20ppm of gluten. We regularly get the certificates back with less than 5ppm.”
Brewer Gordon
9 White Deer launched its first gluten-free product, Saor, in 2015. It received a bronze medal in the 2016 Blas na hEireann awards following a blind taste testing where the judges did not know it was a gluten-free product.

Stag Saor is available nationwide from Classic Drinks and also in Dublin from CBG Wholesale. For a full list of stockists visit

Sunday, January 24, 2016

At the Club Brasserie, Old Chum Be good. Be Bold. Be There!

At the Club Brasserie, Old Chum

Be good. Be Bold. Be There!
Relax at the Club Brasserie, one of Cork's most gorgeous dining venues. Many of us want to be “good” in January and Beth will help you there. Have you seen her inviting display of salads? 

But, if you want to be bold, with a glass of wine or two, well she’ll help you there too, all the way to a delicious dessert. And to be serious for a moment, there is a major welcome here for coeliacs as 95% of the new menu is gluten free!

In any event, you’ll get a warm welcome from Beth and her staff. Smiles and chat all the way to the bar if you enjoy a pre-meal drink or to your table if you want to get started there. Facilities, comfort and service are all excellent here and so too is the food.
 We had lunch there at the weekend and it was superb. My main course came from the Specials Board: Organic Salmon Potato Cakes with a spinach butter sauce (€10.50). The cakes were so well cooked, beautifully crisp on the outside and a well judged mix of potato and flavoursome salmon inside, all with a lovely sauce and salad.

Roasted marinated chicken breast with Rosemary and garlic rustic potatoes, Romesco sauce, Saffron Aioli and mixed leaves (€12.00) as CL’s pick. Again, the chicken was perfectly cooked and the flavours were magic. Even the potatoes were a delight.

As you can see, we skipped the salads but that was just because we wanted something cooked on the day. Another day, we’d be delighted to dip into a selection that includes: Rainbow Rice, Potato Salad, Superfood Salad, Peppery Chickpea Salad, Roasted Broccoli and Feta Salad, and Asian Salad. You can have a mix of two or three.

And if time, or cash, is scarce on the day, you can still have nice lunch here. Eight euro will get you half a sandwich and soup, and for ten you'll get the full sandwich and soup. The sandwiches themselves cost €7.50 and options are: Pastrami; Honey Glazed Ham; Organic Seared Salmon; and Bang Bang Chargrilled Chicken. We had started with the soup, a lovely warming bowl of Leek and Potato.
Some of the salads.
And were we bold? Well, a little! It takes two to tango and dessert was shared. It was a beauty: Honey Parfait with a delicious drizzle and a scattering of pomegranate and pistachio nuts.

On the way out I had a quick look at the new dinner menus. Lots of temptation there also. No shortage of starters, including: Spiced Potato Fritters; Spiced West Cork Crab Spring Rolls; Sizzling Prawns and more. My pick might be the Warm Salad of Roasted Pear, Crispy Pancetta and Cashel Blue cheese, with walnuts, honey and mustard dressing.

Lots of local ingredients are used here and the mains selection illustrates that aspect: East Cork Lamb; O’Connell’s Fillet Steak; and then there’s the Tempura of Cod with a Yuzu Mayonnaise. Think I'd be looking seriously at the other fish dish here, the Baked Hake with gremolata crust, piperade, tomatoes, black olives, cream and Parmesan cheese. Oh yes and a glass or two of wine! Even in January.
Club Brasserie
City Quarter, Lapps Quay, Cork.
(021) 427 3987
Facebook: The Club Brasserie
Twitter: @clubbrasserie

Friday, September 5, 2014

Club Brasserie. All Things Nice. Even Spice.

Club Brasserie
All Things Nice. Even Spice.
It’s a Thursday evening and Club Brasserie on Lapps Quay is abuzz. Following a warm welcome from Beth Haughton, we are soon at our table, the menus and water there almost as soon as we sit under a row of chandeliers in the large attractive room, the two long walls lined with of mirrors.

We are ready for action and start to study the menu and also the blackboard which has an impressive list of specials. And I start with one of those: the crispy chicken wings with Harissa aioli (€7.50). This is one of the many Gluten Free dishes available here (they have separate friers) and it is superb and you can have it with a Cashel Blue dipping sauce at lunch-time.

CL picks the Superfood Salad, another special, packed with char-grilled chicken, pomegranate, quinoa, roasted beetroot, carrots, sweet potato, toasted seed and a lemon and herb dressing (€9.00). Super indeed. Just as well she picked the starter portion. Had she chosen the larger size, I reckon she'd have ran all the way home.
At this stage we were sipping our Sangiovese (Chianti style), one of three reds available by the carafe. The list is not massively long and is mainly European based. Some lovely wines are included and I spotted a Hugel Riesling in the whites and a Chateau Ksara from Lebanon among the reds. You may have your wine by the glass, by carafe, and some by the bottle. Besides, they also have a fully licenced bar with beers on draught.

We could have had anything from a Classic Burger to a Sirloin Steak on the mains. This is a French style restaurant and so CL picked the Crispy Duck Confit (19.00), a great choice and one of the best examples we've come across in recent years. It was served with rustic potatoes, green beans, delightful creamy rosemary flageolet beans and a red wine sauce.

I did well too with my East Cork Rack of Lamb (22.00), marinated with garlic, rosemary and olive oil with an aubergine, cherry tomato and basil compote, mint butter sauce and those lovely rustic potatoes. Absolutely superb.
Starters (top) and desserts.

Both main courses were cooked to a “T” and very well presented, so well done to Howard Lynch, Beth’s partner in crime and the busy chef here. And there was no let-up with the desserts, each excellent, mine an exquisite Eton Mess with a strawberry Daiquiri sauce while CL took her time, enjoying every lush spoonful of her Creme Brulee served with poached berries.

Club Brasserie also do a Prix Fixe menu (Monday to Thursday 5-10pm and also on Friday and Saturday between 5 and 6.30pm) and it includes that lovely Confit! Some tempting dishes too at lunch-time including the Club Hot Dog (with Toulouse Sausage) and also a Spicy Moroccan Lamb with couscous. And just a reminder that up to 80 per cent of the dishes here are Gluten Free.
Speaking of spicy reminds me that the riverside restaurant holds occasional Spice Nights. The Spice Club is a unique dining experience serving delicious curries, yummy cocktails and some fantastic music for a fun filled night! With dishes ranging from the subtle to the intense, it's ideal for those with a very mild and delicate palate to those who prefer even more spice! Keep an eye on their Facebook page for details of Spice Nights and other occasional fun events.

Service is excellent here, prompt, efficient and friendly.

Club Brasserie
(021) 427 3987

Friday, August 1, 2014

Griffin’s Spinning Wheel Unveils Gorgeous Gluten Free Options!

Griffin’s Spinning Wheel Unveils Gorgeous Gluten Free Options!

Sweet GF! Don't forget, today is Fiver Friday at the Spinning Wheel.
Paid a visit to the beautiful Griffin's Garden Centre on the banks of the Lee in midweek and came home from the Dripsey venue with a Eco-Friendly Champion Anthurium. I can’t eat it - that’s what the label clearly says!

But I ate more than enough as the main purpose of the trip on a sunny aftenroon was to check out the new range of gluten free food that they have in their lovely river-side Spinning Wheel Restaurant, a very busy spot indeed. It is open 9.00 to 5.30, so you may have breakfast and lunch here and lots more besides.

Miriam, who invited me out, told me they  “have been working hard with our head chef, bakery team and customers to ensure that we have a large range of gluten free meals, cakes, scones, desserts and breads available at all times from our customers. We will always have gourmet options for coeliacs and people who wish to live a gluten free life.”

GF samples: Chicken salad, Fish Pie, and, right, breakfast options
"We offer a range of gluten free breakfasts from gluten free scones, breads, omelettes and full Irish Breakfast. Gluten free quality sausages are  available on our breakfast menu. A range of gluten free sausages have been taste tested by our customers and restaurant team. And the best have been given the Granny Griffin seal of approval and are now on the menu.Throughout the day, we are constantly baking gluten free scones, bread and desserts that are available to eat in our restaurant or to take away.”

“Our Lunch Menu has one the largest ranges of gluten free options in Cork. Lunch is served from 12 to 3pm. We have two options of soups every day which are both gluten free. Over 80% of our  salads are Gluten free including an option of gluten free quiche. So for a light lunch option you have a choice of soup, quiche and salad or a vibrant flavoursome open Sandwich.”

“Our head chef is always creating new and improved gluten free lunches. The majority of sauces created in our kitchens are gluten free. Each gluten free meal is well signed to inform the customer. A expansive range of Gluten free desserts and Cakes are also available in the restaurant,  Pavlova, apple tart, brownies, orange and almond cake are just to name a few. And why not try our gluten free Afternoon tea. Pre booking is essential for all Afternoon Tea.”

More sweet stuff!
Chef Chris took me through the tasty options, starting with those Clonakilty Sausages and puddings which he tested on the visitors at last week’s World Feeder Fishing Championships. He uses the black pudding too in a delicious salad. Perhaps the top salad I tasted was the Caesar, great tasting chicken from his Macroom supplier and gluten free croutons that tasted better than the average.

And most impressive of all, I thought, was the Fish Pie, the excellent cornflour sauce recently developed by Chris. Many people think that Gluten Free food is bland, as Chris said. But this tasting plateful was full of great flavors, proof positive of the exact opposite.

The restaurant manager Helen introduced us to Pastry Chef Mary and what a belt bursting selection she had for us, everything from a simple scone to Pavlova to a stunning Chocolate cake. No penance going GF with these kind of goodies on offer!

Creme Brûlée
To get the best from this, and other Heuchera, plant it a little proud of the earth!
Aided by copious cups of coffee, we finally managed to get up from the table and enjoyed a stroll around the magnificent garden centre which will be familiar to many of you. Had another chat with Miriam and got lots of gardening advice!

They also have a home section and that includes an indoor plant display and it was here that we bought the Anthurium, pictured left!

* You have an even better excuse than usual to visit Griffin's today. It is Friday and they have a Fiver Friday offer in the restaurant. Check it out here.
The Spinning Wheel Restaurant

Monday, March 31, 2014

Glorious Foods

Glorious Foods
Wildberry's Raspberry Cheesecake. Good from any angle!

There was a lot of oohing and aahing going on in the English Market last week, especially inside the Fresh from West Cork stall. And the happy sounds soon spread as Water Ryan-Purcell, the man in charge of the stall, handed out samples.

It was a tough morning as I tasted cake after cake. They were made in the main by Wildberry Bakery and by Caroline Weese ; they were all of a very high standard,  absolutely gorgeous and, believe it or not, gluten free (gf).

Orange Polenta (left) and Chocolate and Almond

I sampled three cakes from Ballineen based Wildberry, one better than the other, though perhaps the Cheese Cake is my favourite..
(1) Choc and Almond:
chocolate , Bandon butter,ground almonds,sugar, free range eggs, vanilla seeds and essence.
(2) Orange polenta:
Bandon butter, sugar, ground almonds, polenta, free range eggs, lemons,oranges,G/F baking powder,cloves , cinnamon quills, walnuts and toasted almonds,ginger.
(3) Baked raspberry cheesecake:
cream cheese, sugar, free range eggs,raspberries,ground almonds,rice flour,icing sugar,cornflour, vanilla essence and seeds.

Three from Caroline (from left): Lemon, Chocolate and Coffee

Caroline Weese is another busy West Cork baker and we started off with her magnificent Carrot Cake. The Lemon Drizzle is also brilliant, full of the citrussy flavours but so well balanced. The Coffee Cake looks and tastes divine and that Chocolate cake is so gorgeous, so lusciously moist. A big lip smacking yum all around for Caroline. These are all gluten free but you just wouldn't know it. Go in and treat yourself. You'll get a large slice for just two euro!

Oh, she also makes a Gogi Bar, very concentrated and packed with textures and flavours. Ingredients include the Gogi Berries, dates, cocoa nibs, almonds, cinnamon and green tea. A recent Dutch visitor to the stall sampled one and bought the whole stock. But don't worry, it has since been replenished!

Not just cakes!

Most of us know someone who is on the lookout for Gluten Free food. I certainly do and I'll be tipping him off about the selection of fantastic cakes here. But I’ll also be passing on more information about other gluten free products at this packed stall including Clonakilty Chocolates, the Gubbeen salamis, Rosscarbery GF Sausages and the three Sauerkrauts from the Cultured Food Company (Juniper Berry, Ruby Red along with Carrot and Fennel).