Showing posts with label Gubbeen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gubbeen. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Ichigo Ichie goes again! And I’ll be going again. Friendly informal feast with Michelin flare!

 Ichigi Ichie once again. 

And I’ll be going again!

Duck with Nori potesala

Ichigo Ichie's 2024 version isn't just good, it's captivating

Ichigi Ichie goes again! It was good (good enough for a Michelin Star) in 2023 and previously. The 2024 edition is a diner's delight as the Fenns Quay restaurant now has more choices, credit-card friendly prices and still amazing quality (and almost immediately a Michelin Bib). It's the kind of place I certainly want to go to again. Encore!!

It is the last Tuesday of a far-from-dry January. Quite early in the evening and the two sections of Takashi Miyazaki’s reimagined Ichigo Ichie Noodle and Natural Wine Bar are more or less full by six o’clock and the delighted staff tell us the weekends are even busier, so do be sure and book ahead.


The same staff are also welcoming, friendly and helpful. And we certainly needed a few pointers when it came to the choices on offer. That offer is in two parts, the A La Carte which has a handful of starters and then three sections of main dishes. One is headed Rice Dishes (Doburi). Two come under the Handmade Buckwheat Noodles title, one section cold  (Hiya), the other hot (On). 

These noodles are the stars here and you’ll have plenty of choices. Oroshi bukkake soba - grated mooli daikon, ginger, sobatsuyu in the Hot for instance, nanbun soba- Skeaghanore duck, hay leek, scallion in the Cold.

Cantina Rallo's rosso and Original 7 Pale Ale

I have to admit though that we were captivated by the Specials Board, almost as expansive as the A La Carte, full of tempting dishes, even more enticing because there is a mix of small and larger plates, mostly designed for sharing. This second edition of Ichigo is much less formal and more fun. As it happened, everything we had came from the blackboard, leaving Takashi’s noodles for the next visit.

Local Ingredients, Unexpected Delights

Local suppliers are supported here. Indeed, the likes of Garryhinch Mushrooms and Skeaghanore Duck, both feature more than once over the two menus. Hongos (€15.50) al la plancha Kamo Yaki, mushrooms with egg yolk, turned out to be a terrific “starter” for us though I’m sure the other mushroom dish would also be fine.

Expect the unexpected. Tripe, an old Cork favourite, features and was given a flavoursome and palate-pleasing twist by Miyazaki. The “Tonchan” came with cabbage, bean sprouts, Fukuoka-style tripe stew, ginger and garlic (€13.50).  


A beer by Original 7, the brewery based in the Franciscan Well in the North Mall, is available on draught here. Had to try that pale ale and it just so happened to be a perfect pairing for the tripe!

O’Mahony Butchers of the English Market supplied the beef for our next dish. The fillet came with egg yolk, Cucumber, Moyahsi, and Namul (€16.50). We were tipped off in advance that this was something like a carpaccio and so it proved. But the marinated beef, super tasty with all its accompaniments, was cut, not into thin rounds but instead into finger-sized strips, the better to take up the marinade! Delicious.

Panna Cotta

Our largest dish of the evening featured Skeaghanore Duck (€22.00). It arrived charcoal grilled with Hay Leek, grilled scallion, leaves, Sansho salt and an unexpected garnish of potato with Nori that went down very well indeed.

Sweet Endings

The delicious delights didn’t stop there. I’d say you’d find it hard to get a better apple dessert than his Matcha Panna Cotta with caramelised apple, lycee ice cream and hazelnut praline, our favourite, and we got the impression it is a staff favourite as well. Just two desserts were available and the Gubbeen Smoked Cheese Cake with Wasabi ice cream was impressive also, even if the apple stole the sweet show.

Gubbeen Cheese Cake
Drinks Galore

This 2024 Ichigo Ichie doesn't lack drink options. A craft beer exclusive from Original 7, Beamish on draft, and an amazing, all-natural wine list curated by Le Caveau await. While the three Jura wines sit at the higher end, don't miss the house red and white from Sicily's Cantina Rallo at a budget-friendly €7.50 a glass. And there's much much more in between!

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

A Right Royal Progress Through The Kingdom 2023

 A Right Royal Progress Through The Kingdom 2023

Doorway to the Kingdom South-West Coast. Waterville April 2023

Getting to Kerry a lot this year and the latest trip began on April 25th with the destination being the area from Waterville to Valentia Island.

First stop was for a lunchtime snack at the newish Luna Wine Bar in Killarney, quite close to where the jarveys gather to pick up their fares. Luna is a high-quality deli serving coffee, pastries, sandwiches, salads with a natural wine offering.


Saw their sandwiches on Facebook and they caught my eye. The offering on the day’s menu was:

• chargrilled chicken thighs, smoked harissa mayo, black olive + lemon tapenade, pink pickled onions, mixed leaves

• panko crumbed tofu, katsu mayo, carrot + cabbage slaw, coriander

  • hot smoked @gubbeen ham, smoked cheese, wild garlic pesto + horseradish mayo, mixed leaves

You can always rely on Gubbeen so that was my pick, quite a hearty one. Some interesting drinks there, including Kombucha (from Galway), their own sparkling rhubarb lemonade “back by popular demand for the season”, but my pick was the excellent Attyflin Apple Juice.

McCarthy Mor Tower House, Ballinskelligs Beach

Charged by that, we motored on and headed for Ballinskelligs with the intention of doing part or all of the Bolus Head walk. But the meagre sunshine that accompanied us to Killarney had begun to vanish. 

We drove to the trailhead and headed off on the walk for Bolus Head (it takes about three hours). It soon became apparent (maybe not the right word) that it would be foolish to keep going as the mist was begin to creep down from the mountain tops and a second front spread across the ocean and those magical islands of the Skelligs had disappeared totally. But we did enjoy our hour on the walk with the sea on one side and the hard fields full of sheep and their lambs and a scattering of cattle on the other.

On then to Ballinskelligs itself and there was better visibility down by the bay. Good view of the ruined McCarthy Mor Tower House (Ballinskelligs Castle) and the more distant Ballinskelligs Abbey (also in ruins). 

Time then to check in at our accommodation for the night, the outstanding Seaclusion B & B right on the seaside in Waterville. It is one of the best examples of its type that I've come across in a long while. A very warm welcome, beautifully decorated throughout, and a great view over the bay from our room. Great choice at breakfast and top class as well. Hard to beat the French Toast there! Plenty of private parking also. Very helpful too with tips of where to eat and it was here that we found out the location of the McGill Brewery (a very good tip indeed!).

Next “trip” was a leisurely walk from Seaclusion to the Lobster, a bar cum restaurant a few blocks nearer Waterville centre. We got a table by the window and by the time we left were full to the gills with some excellent food, including a outstanding Halibut special.

The following day was widely forecast to rain on us all day long. It just didn’t happen, though there was a shower as we made our first stop at the McGill Microbrewery (recommended by Seaclusion) across from the church on the road to Ballinskelligs. Be careful crossing the road here as the traffic comes from a few different directions and moves quite quickly


Bubbles & Chocolate

Got a warm welcome from founder-owner Joe and we'll feature the brewery in the blog soon. We had enjoyed his Waterville IPA at the Lobster and on the strength of that bought a bunch of his beers at the local Centra.

Off then to Ballinskelligs Beach. The rain had stopped, for the day, but it remained dull. There was one sign of summer though as a large crane arrived to lift the Lifeguards’ Hut into position on the strand. Off we went on our walk, first to the ruined abbey; apparently the monks from Skelligs ended up here when they abandoned the island. Back then to the McCarthy castle, on the beach, before getting into the car again and following the Skellig Ring.

This took us back towards our stop of the day before but this time we continued on to visit the Skellig Chocolate factory. We had been disappointed that we haven’t been able to get their Brittle boxes recently and had it finally confirmed to us that they have been replaced by the Shards. Still disappointed at that decision by the new owners but we did buy a few bits and pieces including a couple of their bars, most notably an outstanding Milk Chocolate with Aran Island Sea Salt Fudge.

On along the narrow roads then for a visit to the spectacular Kerry Cliffs (€5.00 per person). You walk up a prepared pathway to a 2-pronged viewing area. You are advised to do the one on the right first (where the cliffs are more rugged) and then the left, but you do have a view all the while. 

The famous islands from the Kerry Cliffs

The heights are very impressive. It remained dull but we still got a good view of the Skelligs from a specially built extension to the pathway. A popular place and well worth the few euro!

People high on the viewpoint to the right at Kerry Cliffs

Down then to Portmagee and over the bridge to Valentia. It had been a while since we visited the Skellig Experience Centre just past the bridge.  It has an exhibition area, an audio visual, gift shop as well as a fully licensed restaurant.

Here, through re-creations and models, you can study the works and lives of the Skellig monks of the early Christian period and wonder at the legacy of architecture that they left behind.

The Skellig Experience with its grass covered roof; Portmagee in background

The Skellig Experience Centre also offers the history of the island’s lighthouse keepers and its service to mariners since the 1820’s. And there’s a fine educational display about the seabirds of the area. It may be a bit limited in size and in technology, but there’s still quite a lot to take in here.

Whenever we visit Valentia, the Bray Head walk is part of the tour. But not this time and we didn’t get to the lighthouse, the slate quarry or the tracks of the tetrapod.

View from the top of the island. Just a fraction of the 360° panorama

But we did get to the top of Geokaun Mountain, the highest point on Valentia Island at 266 metres. On top of the mountain you have a fantastic 360° panoramic view over the Skelligs, the Blasket Islands and Dingle Bay.

We called it a day in the great outdoors after that and headed for the B&B for the night. Horizon View is just about 15 minutes walk from Knightstown and is splendidly located with great views out over the water, even to the Blasket Islands, but certainly to the lighthouse. And your host Alan will give you a warm welcome and fill you in on things to do in the locality, the first of which is to view the superb seaview (including the lighthouse) from the sitting room balcony.

Sunset over the lighthouse, as seen from Horizon View, our B&B.

This gull came to see
what we had on our plate at the Royal
Later that evening, the sun (after just a few minutes being up) went down for the day.  Alan gave us the direction earlier on and we managed a decent photo or two even though he has seen many more spectacular sunsets in his lovely location, just minutes from Knightstown (and the ferry to Cahirciveen.

But we were in good form at that stage having been well fed at the Royal Hotel by the waterside, where the local beer Killarney Blonde was on tap. Next morning, having had a hearty breakfast, we said goodbye to Alan and headed away from the Kingdom and back to the Rebel City where we arrived 2.5 hours later.

Also on this trip:

The Lobster Waterville

Skellig Experience Centre - The Monks Dinner

McGill Brewery*

Royal Hotel, Knightstown

A Right Royal Progress Through The Kingdom

* Post to follow

Recent Kerry posts

Killarney's lovely Victoria Hotel

Dinner at The Ivy in Killarney

Dining at The Harrow Killarney

Excellent Lunch at Brehon Hotel

Seeing Red at the lovely Sneem Hotel

Lunch at Killarney Brewery & Distillery in Fossa.

Dingle Drive, Slea Head and more 

The 2017 version of this trip has some other attractions not visited this time. Take a look here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Warm Welcome and Superb Food at Finín’s of Midleton

Warm Welcome and Superb Food at Finín’s of Midleton


You walk in from the wind and the rain and there’s a buzz of conversation and then a smiling welcome and soon you are warming up at your table in Finin’s of Midleton on the last Thursday of 2022. It’s your final meal out of the year and it is a good one!

The packed downstairs room, and the staff  led by example by manager Tomislav, exudes welcome and warmth and you are immediately at ease, soon at your table and checking the menu from new Portuguese Head Chef Miguel Soares. 


The long-standing and popular restaurant was taken over by Blue Haven of Kinsale and opened mid 2022 after a period of renovation. In addition to this downstairs room, with the a feature along much of one side, they have also opened the room upstairs. 

And there’s more to come.  The frontage, on the main street, is slated for a makeover. And there are plans are in hand for another upstairs space in 2023; this new private dining room cum Whiskey Tasting Room will be  in conjunction with Redbreast.  But you won’t have to wait until then for whiskey. They have a splendid selection in the bar and that includes the complete Mitchell & Son Spot collection.

The new owners are pleased with the way things are going here: We have ambitious plans to build Finins into something special over time including some exciting additions in the new year in conjunction with Red Breast with a new private dining room and Whiskey Tasting Room. 

We are very excited about what the future holds for Finins and appreciate the support and warm welcome we have received in Midleton and look forward to playing our part in the local community for many years to come. 


And we was well pleased with our meal there. You can start with either something from the Nibbles or Starters section on the menu or both! Don’t forget to check the Specials before you start  - the staff will tell you anyhow.

We shared the Slow Cooked Oxtail Croquettes (with Dijonnaise Sauce & Smoked Gubbeen Cheese) and the Pork Belly Chicharrones (served with Avocado Cream & Mojito Sauce). The first (5.50) was from Nibbles, the second (8.50) from Starters, and both were excellent though the Chicharrones were my favourite!

From this and a previous visit, it seems that their burgers along with Fish and Chips are very popular dishes here; the restaurant caters for family groups.

Finin’s responds to the seasons and I absolutely enjoyed the excellent Wild Venison Loin (with Celeriac Purée, Garden Peas, Berry Medley & Smoked Jus).  This was just exquisite, so tender, so well executed and those little berries added so much to it.

Apple Tart

Another excellent mains, enjoyed by CL,  is the East Cork Lamb Rump with Organic Carrot Purée, Romanesco, Caramelised Silver Skin Onions & Jameson Jus Barley. And each of our mains was accompanied by a side of mash and greens.

We finished off with a shared dessert of Apple Tart and cream. It was one of the better ones,  a terrific warm dish and a boost against the windy weather outside!


Opening Times: Tuesday - Saturday 12.00pm - 11.00pm; Serving food until 9.00pm

Address: 75 Main Street, Midleton, Co. Cork P25E6F7

Tel: (021) 463 1878. 

Web: Finín's

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Taste of the Week. Killeen Cheese

Taste of the Week

Killeen Cows Milk Cheese

Taste of the Week

October 2022 has been quite a good one for cheesemaker Marion Roeleveld and her team at Killeen Farmhouse Cheese in County Galway. On the 5th, at the British & Irish Cheese Awards 2022 in Bath, their cows milk cheese (Kilmora) was named as the Best Irish Cheese. 

Marion even scored a double at Bath as their goats cheese (mature) won the Best Goats Cheese Special Award. Killeen (indeed best known for their goats milk cheeses) are of course quite used to winning awards and have a long list to their credit.

The Swiss-style cows milk cheese, which is produced at Portumna, took the trophy after more than 500 cheeses were judged in a single day at The Bath & West Showground on Wednesday 5 October, as the awards returned following a two-year hiatus. It took a 50-strong judging panel two rounds before the country winners were decided. Killeen have their own goats and they get cows milk from a neighbouring farmer. 

I got email confirmation of the results the following day and that very morning, by coincidence, I had bought a wedge of their cows cheese from the Gubbeen stall at the Mahon Point Farmers Market and, after sampling a sliver or two, decided without hesitation that this would be our Taste of the Week. And so it is! 

It is an Emmental type hard cheese. It is clean, nutty, savoury with a gentle tang, deliciously creamy and well worth seeking out at Mahon Point and also at On the Pig's Back. More info on stockists and the cheeses here.

Monday, August 22, 2022

The Bookshelf Elysian hosts Cork on a Fork Dinner. And it turns out to be a superb evening!

The Bookshelf Elysian hosts Cork on a Fork Dinner.

And it turns out to be a superb evening!

Sweet sandwich!

The Bookshelf at the Elysian made a rare evening opening to host a one-off 4-course dinner experience for the Cork on a Fork Festival, with a specially created menu filled with produce from the region.  

Goats cheese, beetroot

The dinner, helmed by Head Chef Rebekah Harrington, was class from start to finish and featured an array of top notch local produce.

Pom'O x 2

In between the starters and the mains, we had a Mead interval. The meads, all by the Kinsale Mead Company, were Hazy Summer, Atlantic Dry and Wild Red. They were paired with nibbles that included Gubbeen Smoked cheese and Ballyhooly Blue (whipped) from Fermoy. Both the mead and nibbles impressed and you could see it forming the basis for similar demos at markets and other restaurants. More on Kinsale Mead Co here. 

Cider sparkling in the cloudiness

After a warm welcome, and with live music in the foyer, we were soon checking out the menu. There was a choice of three starters, each with a wine pairing (from L’Atitude 51). Out two were Chicken liver mousse éclair, piccalilli relish and Textures of beetroot, Sunview Goats cheese (from Kilmichael). The pair were shared and each was excellent and easily polished off.

Mead break

After the mead interlude, it was on to the mains. No need for sharing this time as we had each picked Free-range Caherbeg (from Rosscarbery) confit pork belly, blackberries, with Pom’O apple port jus. Just perfect. The pork was excellent and lifted by the amazing Pom’O by Killahora Orchards (that we would meet again at the end).

Pork Belly and that sauce!

Drinks? One was the Ameztoi Txacoli de Getaria Rosado “Rubentis” and the other was an unfiltered and delicious classy cider from orchards just west of the city. Each had plenty of acidity to go well with the pork and hard to pick between the Basque wine and the Irish cider. The only thing missing was that the wine wasn’t poured from shoulder height as they sometimes do in the lovely village of Getaria where this one comes from.

The Basque wine

Time for the sweet then. Two available so we took both. The Sandwich of meadowsweet namelaka and strawberry cremeux was a delicious as you’d anticipate, really well executed while the other, the Blackberry and lemon balm granita, with chocolate aero and candied nuts, was superbly refreshing. Thumbs up for two desserts worth waiting for!

Chicken liver mousse éclair

On then to the finalé. It was billed as a Dessert Cocktail featuring that fantastic Killahora Orchids Pom’O. But no cocktail! The Bookshelf decided that the Pom’O was so good there was no need to add anything and that proved to be a great call. What a finalé!

Blackberry & Lemon balm....

* Killahora on that unusual drink: “Our Pom’O is an apple aperitif made from rare apple varieties, grown in our 200 year old Orchards on the south facing slopes of Ireland’s County Cork. We mix the juice from our bittersweet apples with the finest apple brandy, then age it in Irish whiskey barrels for at least a year….”  More on the Pom'O here.