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

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Sunday Lunch returns in style to The Cork International Hotel

Sunday Lunch returns in style to 

The Cork International Hotel

Chorizo and prawn salad

Sunday Lunch returned in style to The Cork International Hotel for Fathers’ Day. I didn't make it that day but glad to get the opportunity to try it out last Sunday and found lots of company as the lovely and comfortable space began to fill from one o’clock on.

The lunch, which is served from 12.30 pm to 3 pm, is based on locally sourced produce and the hotel’s New Yorker Bar and Restaurant is the venue and I was a guest of the hotel. The a la carte menu offers a variety of dishes as well as a roast-of-day specials list from the carvery (these are brought to your table).

Salmon from the carvery

Starters last Sunday included Homemade Soup of The Day, Pan Fried Atlantic Prawns Pil Pil, West Cork Steamed Mussels, and New York Inspired Chicken Wings.

CL’s picks were the Mussels served in a Classic White Wine and Herb Cream Sauce, with a length of sourdough to mop up the sauce. Not too sure about the New York in the wings (aside from the fact that we were in the New Yorker Bar!), but they were excellent, the hot sauce and the famous Cashel Blue doing the business and giving the necessary lift.

NY Chicken Wings

Mains on the day included: Summer Poke Bowl, Empire State Double Beef Burger, Chef Mihira’s Authentic Elawalu Maas Vegetable Curry, and Fresh Crab and Chilli Linguine. The Carving station offered: Prime Roast of West Cork Hereford Rib of Beef with a Rich Red Wine Jus, Hony Glazed Loin of West Cork Bacon, Roasted Crown of Irish Turkey, and Lemon & Thyme Marinated Irish Salmon.

CL loves her salmon and this, perfectly cooked, got the thumbs up. All roasts come with Crispy Roasties, Mashed Potato, Roasted Carrots, and Yorkshire Pudding with a side of Cauliflower & Cheese. Quite a plateful.

My quantity was somewhat more modest but the Warm Gubbeen Chorizo & Prawn Salad (with Fried Potatoes, Mixed Leaves, Red Onions, and Garlic Croutons) lacked nothing in quality and exceeded expectations and was one of the best salads so far this summer and one to note for sure.

I’d say the NYC Cheesecake has been on the menu here since the restaurant was renamed. But it has stood the test of time and, aided by sliced West Cork Strawberries and an excellent wild berry compote, impressed no end last Sunday. Other desserts on the list were Dark Chocolate Brownie; Lemon, Ginger & Chilli Posset; and a Classic Summer Eton Mess.

Great also to see local producers acknowledged on the menus. Food suppliers include McCarthy Meats, Keohane Seafoods, Ardsallagh Cheese, and Gubbeen Farm cheese and charcuterie. Drinks suppliers listed include Blacks of Kinsale, Stonewell Cider, Rebel City Distillery and 9 White Deer Brewery.

All in all a very satisfactory outing to the airport. Quite a large venue and full credit to the staff who were both efficient and very friendly all through. A drive to the airport was regarded as a treat in its early days. A drive for Sunday lunch is the new treat in Farmers Cross!

The Cork International Hotel Sunday Lunch is €19.00 for main course, €26 per person for two courses or €34 per person for three courses. A full kids’ menu is also available. To make a reservation call 021 454 9800.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Ron D's Food Truck Brings The Muffuletta From New Orleans To Ballydehob!

 Ron D's Food Truck Brings The Muffuletta

 From New Orleans To Ballydehob!

The Muffuletta

The Muffuletta has landed! It is on the menu of Ron D’s Food Truck every Wednesday in Ballydehob.

Simon and Liz are the American couple behind this wagon of wonderful sandwiches. Liz fills us in on the Muffuletta: “We first had this amazing Sandwich in New Orleans @centralgrocerynola where it was first made by a Sicilian immigrant in the 1900's. If you haven't guessed it, Simon & I love Sandwiches & this one is damn close to being at the top of the list!”

“The bread is our homemade Sesame Sourdough, not traditional, but this is our take on the original. Next are layers of salty cured meats Capicolla & @gubbeen Salami followed by the softer Mortadella. Lots of Provolone cheese & the amazing Giardiniera (also not traditional). It's a delicious pickled vegetable Italian relish that we make. Traditionally it would be just olives but Giardiniera gives the sandwich a real zing. Hope you guys love this classic New Orleans Sandwich as much as we do!!”

We do. It is just an amazing and harmonious concertina of tasty layers, the different types of meat, the relish, the zing of the Giardiniera, the superb bread, the quality, the quantity, a classic that rocks from first bite to last.

And speaking of classics. They do a mean Reuben too: Salt Beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian Dressing (not the mass-produced one!). Another amazing sandwich to make those taste buds stand up on full alert. Because of the drizzle, we had to eat our two, the Muffuletta and the Reuben, in the car. There weren't too many full sentences spoken for quite a while, just lots of oohs and aaahs!

The grilled sandwiches come on their own sourdough and other choices last Wednesday were a Veggie Reuben, The Grilled Cheese and The Vegan Dream. 

It isn’t just big flavour-filled sandwiches though. You can get doughnuts here, if you’re fast. And you need to be faster still to get their potato versions. 

“Donuts for me bring me back to my childhood. Where I'm from in New England or Cape Cod, Massachusetts to be specific, hole in the wall, mom 'n pop donut shops still exist. Mostly all are family owned and are packed full of delicious homemade donuts and usually bad coffee.”

 “The donuts are big and they have funny names like Honey Dip, Cruellers, Old Fashioned, Bear Claws, the list goes on. My first Potato Donut was in Portland, Maine, and it was fluffy, so fluffy, more so then a traditional yeast raised donut and so good. I thought they would be perfect for the truck especially since we are in Ireland the land of potatoes.” 

Looking for something sweet to bring home? How about a Hand Pie? “In America the pie is enjoyed throughout the year, each season showcasing a different delicious pie, my favourite being Rhubarb! So I decided to make a smaller version of my classic pie for the truck. These hand pies are filled with a local rhubarb compote and Irish apples.  These are a perfect treat for after your sandwich or better yet bring it home, warm it up, and enjoy it with your cup of tea! And if you’re feeling fancy, put a scoop of ice cream on top for an amazing dessert!”

Simon and Liz have been in the West Cork area for quite a while now but it all started before when they were in San Francisco. “We were absolutely blown away with all the amazing bread there, especially from @tartinebakery. We were hooked on REAL bread and never looked back. So our focus now is baking sourdough for y'all and turning those loaves into delicious grilled sandwiches. Which we'll be selling from our trailer, Ron D's, in the Ballydehob Community Hall Car Park, Wednesday's from 12:30-3. I will be baking up some sweet treats as well and diving in to my American roots for inspiration.”

So you may be asking who is Ron D. Well the truck is named after Liz’s father, quite a foodie! 

Ron D’s Food Truck  

Parked outside the Community Centre in Ballydehob. Coming from Skibbereen, take the first left after you go over the bridge. Wednesdays from 12:30-3.00pm.

Also on this trip:

Visiting the home of Clonakilty Blackpudding

Garden Restaurant at Lee Ard Estate

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Taste of the Week. Gubbeen Ribs in Marinade

Taste of the Week.

Gubbeen Ribs in Marinade

No restaurant take-out last weekend. We did have a terrific take-home though: Gubbeen Ribs in Marinade. And the cost for four came to the huge sum of 10 euro! There's also a smaller size for just over a fiver.

Our Taste of the Week, very highly recommended by the way, came from the Gubbeen Stall at last Thursday's Farmers Market in Mahon. They are mildly spiced and may be slow-roasted in the oven for 2.5 hours or you can also do a 1.5 hour cook at a higher temperature. Also suitable for the BBQ.

We did the 1.5 hour and, accompanied by a simple salad (mostly from the back-garden, they were perfect, a perfect Taste of the Week.


Monday, May 17, 2021

Five-Star Greenes 6-Course Tasting Menu At Home

Greenes 6-Course Tasting Menu At Home 

Pana Bread, Miso Butter, Wild Garlic Pesto, Hummus & Cassava Puffs.

Haven't eaten the Cassava puffs before. The flour is obtained from the starchy root of a tropical tree of the same name, also called manioc. Miso is of Japanese origin and you do see it used in one form or another fairly regularly here. Head to beat the wild garlic though!

Salmon and Crab Paté, Piccalilli Salad

Tasty starter for sure, the pickle of cauliflower playing a key role.

Pan-seared Monkfish Fillet, Seafood Risotto
Overall, the meal required very little intervention at home.
This did require, both the fish and the risotto, about 8 minutes finishing.

Duo of Braised and Seared Lamb, Cous Cous
and Red Wine Jus
Not much more than ten minutes finishing to have this terrific "main course" ready for the plate. The meat was superb, in both variations, as was the cous cous (generously enhanced with small pieces of peppers, olives and more)
Gubbeen Cheese, Walnuts, Rhubarb Compote, Biscuits
Delighted with the classic Gubbeen smoked cheese, benefitting from all of the accompaniments,
especially the caramelised nuts and the tangy compote. By the way, I had a bottle of that lovely Stonewell Tawny open and it paired very well indeed with this course!

Eton Mess, Passion Fruit Curd
The pauses between the courses had been growing longer as the evening wore on.
No bother with this dessert though, very appropriate considering what had gone before
and a delight to dispatch.  The glass was loaded with the broken meringue, the outstanding curd before the Chantilly and fresh berries were added.
I'm always tempted by tasting menus at Greenes, especially when there's 15% off as was the case last week. Check out all their menus here

Monday, May 3, 2021

Stunning Umbrian Wines Showcased at Online Tasting by Greenes Restaurant

Stunning Umbrian Wines Showcased at Online Tasting by Greenes Restaurant 

With his family vineyard overlooking Assisi, the city associated with St Francis, the patron saint of animals and ecology, perhaps it is no wonder that Roberto Di Filippo uses animals in the vineyard and that it is biodynamic. Perhaps Francis enjoyed the odd glass of wine!


“We were one of the pioneers of organic wine in Umbria,” said  Roberto during the weekend’s superb tasting helmed by Fionnuala Harkin of Wines Direct and Frank Schiltkamp (Somm and Restaurant Manager) of Greenes Restaurant who were hosting the event.

Di Filippo are based in Umbria. Roberto told us that Umbria is in central Italy and is the only Italian region without a coastline. It is in the very centre of the country and while it may not be the best known for wine, it had no doubt learned much from neighbours such as Tuscany and Marche. Perugia is the capital but Assisi is probably its best known city, a city that Di Filippo overlooks.

“Organic since 1994,” continued Roberto. “By 2009, we moved into biodynamic farming. Horses and geese arrived, tractors and chemicals were the past. Year by year we are seeing a big impact on soil and crops. Horses are my passion. Tractors can compact the soil so much, up to one metre deep. The system now is efficient and, for the majority of time, the horse is cheaper than the tractor.”

Another part of the horses' work

All the while, Fionnuala was showing a series of slides that matched what Roberto was talking about. Then he moved onto the first of wines, the white. “This is 100% Grechetto, the most typical white grape in Umbria. It is harvested in two turns and then blended. The earlier harvest gives freshness and mineralogy while the second gives full body and complexity.”

“Thanks to that double harvest, the aromas are fruity and fresh and with its acidity it will go well with tuna meat, fish, seafood, cheese and vegetables.” It was agreed generally that the wine was matching well with the salami, cutting through the fat.

“Why are those hands on the label?” asked Fionnuala. “They represent what we are - farmers. Without these hands you cannot drink the wines!”

The second wine, La Conversino (named after a local area, nothing to do with conversation!), is red and Sangiovese (80%) dominates. The balance is made up of other local and some international grapes and that part of the blend varies from vintage to vintage.

I saw this pair of horses at work in North Cork a few years back.
I was amazed at the precision of the large animals at work.
Here, they are cutting corn but another horse drew a scuffler through drills without putting a
foot wrong (and those hooves are large).

“It is a ruby colour,” said Roberto, “Not really deep. Aromas are fruity, it has a good balance, soft tannins, a good combination for many types of food, excellent with meat.” “Ideal for the lighter style of game,” said Frank. “Stunning with pheasant.”

And finally a tip from Roberto: “When you come to Umbria, book into a nice Agriturismo in the countryside. Take your time. Have nice food. Not just countryside, we have cities and mountains too. And don’t forget the truffles. - they are cheap!”

Di Filippo Grechetto Umbria IGT 2019, 13%, organic. €15.75

Lovely light gold colour (the brightness can vary from year to year). Delightful fresh and  fruity nose and you get more of the same, including a wash of citrus, on the palate before this rounded wine, with its tangy acidity, finishes pleasantly, medium-long and well. Very impressed with this one. Not just second glass appeal, more like second bottle! The producers recommend matching it with fish, white meat, fresh cheeses.

Fermentation is in stainless steel with wild yeast, and resting on lees in stainless steel until bottling. Very Highly Recommended.

Di Filippo “La Conversino” Rosso Umbria (IGT) 2019, 13.5%, organic, €14.75

A bright mid ruby is the colour of this Sangiovese dominated red. Aromas are quite intense, red berries prominent. Quite full-bodied and elegant as we move along on a fruity palate with enough acidity to maintain harmony all through. This is soft with beautiful embedded tannins and a medium long finish. The other grapes in the blend could include Barbera and Sagrantino but will vary from year to year.

Di Filippo suggest pairing with typical Italian pasta dishes, boiled meats, fresh cheese. Other suggestions are Pasta and Pizza, Hard Cheese, Game, Beef and Lamb. Quite a wine, full of resilience; as the night wears on and course follows course, this and its fruit core just gets better and better. Very Highly Recommended.

The cheese and charcuterie from Greenes was, as ever, top class, the portions generous.

Gubbeen cheese, Smoked Scaramoza cheese, Durrus, Young Buck blue cheese.

Gubbeen salami, Gubbeen chorizo, Gubbeen venison, Serrana Ham.

Olive tapenade, Tomato pesto, Basil Pesto, Humus, Olives, Capers, Gherkins, Onion

Compote and bread.

I may have been busy taking notes but it was a relaxing evening. Frank welcomed us on Zoom and struck the right note at the start: “Treat it casually and enjoy. Don’t be waiting for us. Sit back and enjoy as we go along.” We did! We could have been with friends in Umbria.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Taqueria Takeout from O'Mahony's Watergrasshill

Taqueria Takeout from O'Mahony's Watergrasshill

Takeouts or At Homes or Click & Collects have kept quite a few restaurants in close contact with their customers during the lockdowns. Máire and Victor at O'Mahony's of Watergrasshill have been very successful. They started with a Dim Sung offering and that sold out each of its three weekends. 

Last Saturday we indulged in their latest, El Monte (a Mexican style offering), all based on local produce and produced with advice from Lily Ramirez, Ireland's favourite Mexican cook. 

What's next for this innovative duo? Could it be Basque? Catalan? Check out their Facebook page from Tuesday onwards. But don't dally! They get booked up pretty quickly. Cost is €25.00 a head.

If you don't fancy a more or less three course meal, then have a look at their Farm Shop on the premises. If you like to get even close to their local producers, then Neighbourfood is the ideal channel and O'Mahony's run a weekly depot where you can collect your order. Looking for presents for the Christmas? They may well have a hamper for you. 

A busy spot! But relax with a takeout coffee and pastry. They serve the excellent Golden Bean coffee, tasty Bread and Roses based sandwiches, seasonal soups and baked goods and more.  The Farm Shop and Café is open 9-5 Tue-Fri; 11-5 Sat.

The taquitos
Crispy Croppy Boy Cauliflower, tomato & lime salsa
Pulled East Ferry free range chicken, burnt lime aioli
Ballycotton White Fish, pickled fennel & garlic aioli.
And on the side: tons of Arroz Rojo (rice)
Totopos, Pico de Gallo, Guacamole, Hot Sauce,
Not So Hot Sauce and Sour Cream.
And we also had some very tasty Totopos (crunchy tortilla chips)

We started with some Knockalara Jalapeno Poppers and this Mole Pinto stew with Gubbeen chorizo..
This super-tasty dish, also with tomato and Pinto beans, was rich, satisfying and warming!
For me, the star of the show!

The Sweet just had to be churros and O'Mahony's version came with a
chilli chocolate sauce. Time to relax after all that!

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Taste of the Week. From the Pig.

Taste of the Week.
From the Pig.

A bit of a problem this week. I had no Taste of the Week for you. Well, nothing that hadn't appeared here before. I did have a few of this list on the plate or in the fridge, so I thought I'd put the best of the pig together for you, a sample of what you can get locally. So take your pick and enjoy! By the way, I'd appreciate it if you can point me in the direction of tasty local Irish produce for next week and the week after and the ..........   It can be meat, fish, vegetable, baked goods, something sweet, something to drink. This is my 6th year (at least) doing this, so I don't want to repeat, well not too much anyhow!

Woodside Farm Shoulder of Pork (slow-cooked)

James Whelan Rack of Roasting Bacon

Gubbeen Hot Smoked Ham. Made by Fingal Ferguson. See all about the Schull farm here.

Pork Steak Wellington (Davidson's Butchers)

Kanturk Pudding  (McCarthy Butchers)

Baltimore Dry Cured Black Bacon. Read more about Nathan and his various Baltimore Bacon products here.

Ummera Smoked Bacon Rashers

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Curly Stu Mobile Sourdough Pizza

The Curly Stu Mobile Sourdough Pizza

A great turnout in Barnabrow House last Sunday afternoon as Stuart Bowes launched The Curley Stu. This is a horsebox with a  difference, one that serves up delicious pizzas. And Stuart and that horse box will be coming to a venue near you in the not too distant future. 

Stu, who most of you will know from his excellent food at Barnabrow, told me that he is feeling his way into this new venture. “I’m getting used to the trailer and adjusting accordingly, few adjustments to make, there is a nice mixture of places I’m going to be so far over the summer.”

“I’m doing pizzas in Midleton by the Granary on Sunday the 23rd June when Ironman is on, I have a private birthday party in the city, then I’m in West Cork in Newcestown Festival on Sunday 25th August and there is a wedding in September in Barnabrow having them the day before the wedding, so a nice mixture to get into it.”

The pizzas are made with the very best of local ingredients, featuring Gubbeen chorizo, Caherbeg free range pork, and Ardsallagh goats cheese for instance. Barnabrow diners, including wedding guests, will know that superb sourdough that the Scot turns out and that has been carried over to the pizza base.

“Today, you have Oro Agugiaro which is a very strong flour grown and milled in Agugiaro and was used by the winner of the world pizza championships this year, so I look forward to trying it out myself today.”
Hard at work

“Normally we use the red Caputo which is the strongest of the brand and is ideal for long fermentation. We ferment the dough for two days and use a sourdough culture instead of commercial yeast as it gives more flavour and breaks down all of the nutrients in the flour to make it easy for us to digest and feel good after.” And that feel good factor was certainly present last Sunday afternoon.

San Marzano DOP is the brand of tomatoes used. “It’s very sweet with low acidity and please note that DOP means they were grown in San Marzano and not somewhere else.” The menu regularly mentioned Fior Di Latte and he explained that this cows milk mozzarella cooks well in high heat, is smooth and a bit tangy in flavour. And,  speaking of high heat, his Gozney ovens can operate up to 500 degrees centigrade!

Sunday’s launch was very well attended indeed with lots of families present. Stuart and the team work hard. “Just smashed 120 of these bad boys out of the horsebox today..... wasn’t easy but it was lots of fun…”, he said later.

There were five on offer:
Margherita - San Marzano Tomato, Fior di Latte, Basil.
Nduja - Spicy salami, San Marzano Tomato, Fior di Latte, Salsa Verde.
Ardsallagh Goats Cheese - San Marzano Tomato, Confit Red Onion, Gremolata.
Gubbeen Chorizo,-  San Marzano Tomato, Fior di Latte, Roast Red Pepper.
Pepperoni - San Marzano Tomato, Fior di Latte, Parmesan, Olive Oil.

My order at the horsebox was for the Nduja. And it was excellent, full of flavour with a moderate touch of spice. But I have to say that CL’s Ardsallagh was about as perfect as a pizza can get. Everything in balance, including the delicious influence of the Gremolata - an exquisite piece of work and one to watch out for. And that sourdough base, common to all his pizzas is also amazing.

So do look out for The Curly Stu. You’ll find them on Instagram (the_curly_stu) and on Facebook (The Curly Stu Sourdough Pizzas). For bookings, including Private parties, Markets, Festivals, Corporate, ring 085 1960706.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Copper Hen Adds a Royal Touch to Tramore Food Scene.

The Copper Hen Adds a Royal Touch
 to Tramore Food Scene.

The Copper Hen has flown its original home at Fenor and has perched in Queen Street, Tramore. And here, in a beautifully decorated building, you may now enjoy the superb food produced by owner-chef Eugene Long and his team. There are no less than three dining rooms in this long town centre building and, when the sun comes out, there’ll be al fresco dining in the garden patio as well.

They seem to have hit the ground running. Despite being newly opened, there were no hitches the other day when we called for lunch. Quite the contrary - everything was perfect, the food and service top notch.

Lunch is offered on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays while dinner’s available Wednesdays to Saturdays (from 5.30pm). You can expect extended opening hours when the holiday season kicks off in earnest. While the quality is very high here, the prices are not. And you can get even better value with the evening Early Bird offer, two courses for €24.00, three for €29.00.

We had spent the previous evening and indeed some of the morning at the West Waterford Food Festival, so weren’t exactly starving when we arrived in sunny Tramore. 

There was a soup on offer but we went straight to the mains. From a good choice we picked what turned out to be two gems. I thought the Beer Battered Cod with lemon mayonnaise and handout chips (€14.00) would be good but the prospect looked even better when the cod ran out and I was “upgraded” to John Dory. Probably, the best fish and chips ever!

We were enjoying the food and the service and a lovely glass of wine. This was the Atlantik Albarino (7.95), aromatic and full of flavour and ideal for fish. The wine list here may not be the longest but it is very interesting (as you’d expect with Wines Direct as suppliers). All are available by the glass, by the way, which is great for the customers. For instance, if you start with mussels and a white, you can order a glass of red for your meat course.

Anyhow, that Albarino was superb with the John Dory and also with CL’s choice: Tiger Prawns tossed with garlic, Gubbeen chorizo and herb butter served with Seagull Sourdough (11.00). Another excellent and very enjoyable dish.

The Copper Hen is a terrific supporter of local produce and you’ll hardly get more local than the sourdough as it is made around the corner in the well-known Seagull Bakery, a very impressive bakery indeed. The Copper Hen make their own brown bread and that went down a treat, not least with a group of American ladies at another table.

Would we have dessert? Yes was the answer, but just the one, to be shared. There was a choice of five, all at €7.50. On the face of it, our Apple and Berry Crumble wasn’t the bravest of picks but it turned out to be a gem, beautifully made and presented - apparently they have a bit of a reputation on this one. If you do get the chance, do order one. One each!

20 Queen Street
Co. Waterford
Tel: 051 330179

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Wine, Whiskey, Beer and Pizza at Franciscan Well. With ace cooper Ger Buckley the star of the show.

Wine, Whiskey, Beer and Pizza at Franciscan Well
With ace cooper Ger Buckley the star of the show.

Ger (right) doing a bit of barrel charring! Note fire exit and hose close at hand

After the flames...
“It’s a thrill to be back ‘working’ in the North Mall,” said Irish Distillers much travelled master cooper Ger Buckley as he introduced himself at the start of an evening of wine, whiskey, beer and pizza at the buzzing Franciscan Well Bar last Thursday night. The link between the three drinks (the whiskey, the wine and the special Franciscan Well stout have all spent time in barrel) is of course the wood. Ger will tell that it accounts for more than fifty per cent of the input to the final bottle of whiskey and many distillers will agree with him.

Many years ago, Ger started his cooperage apprenticeship, with his father, in the distillery on the Mall, remembering not just the smell of the whiskey but also that of leather as there were tanneries in the area. There was quite a tradition of coopers in that part of town, and an earlier source of employment for many was the Firkin Crane in Shandon, part of the renowned butter market.

Ger still has, still uses, many of the tools, some as much as 200 years old, used by his father and ancestors including the hammer, the driver, and the adze. On the hammer he said: “Let the weight do the work.” “Hold that driver properly. My father used say you’ll pay for your mistakes, in lost finger-tips and worse.”

The adze has an amazing and long history, used by ancient ship builders and log cabin builders; it was a sacred tool in the Maori culture. “It looks clumsy, “said Ger. “But it’s great to remove excess wood and gives a great finish.” Another tool he uses is the compass. “Everything I do (measure) is by eye. The compass, a Cork tradition, is my only aid. This craft goes back 4,000 years. I don’t do much that’s different from those early coopers.” 
Sophia brings us the wine

Ger would soon show us how to use those tools, or at least, how he uses them. But now it was the turn of Sophia and the Australian introduced us to the Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon, a premium wine finished in aged Irish Whiskey barrels. Blackcurrant on the nose and on the palate, smooth integrated tannins and a satisfying finish. Those charred barrels certainly played a part in this rich, deep, smooth and quite impressive wine.

The cooper returned to centre-stage and used those tools as he first demolished a barrel (see video below) and then, stave by stave, put it together again, working away with amazing precision while still keeping us entertained with yarn after yarn of his days in the North Mall. While reassembling the barrel he remarked to the incredulous audience: “It becomes second nature after a while. I know how to match the various stave sizes by eye”.
Sharp operator

In his days in the Mall, the coopers would be repairing barrels, always keeping an eye out for a few drops of whiskey in the bottom, often enough to fill a couple of bottles. But how do you fill a small container from a very large one? With great difficulty. They’d start by borrowing a tea pot from the canteen and then the fun began.
Paudie told us the
Caskmates story

“Can you two imagine langers, maybe each already half-langers, trying to hold a barrel over a tiny teapot and trying to pour the contents out of the big one and into the small one. Quite often they succeeded but there were regular failures too and broken teapots. So then the apprentice was sent down town to buy a new teapot for the lady in charge!”

He kept working and talking. “I live by Blarney, tells you why I talk so much,” he joked. And then more seriously, as he hammered a hoop into position. “Use the weight of the hammer but you must make the right contact. If you don’t, the hoop will bend - bad news!” He demo-ed that too!

Liam and Black Barrel

And then the Jameson rep Liam was introduced to tell us all about their Black Barrel whiskey, “one of the best quality whiskeys with its depth of flavour and spicy notes”.

Nowadays, Irish Distillers have some 1.5 million barrels in total stored in Midleton. But years ago, many were stored outside and weren’t in great condition when they were brought in for filling. “So they were charred to a greater degree than normal, were filled with whiskey and the result was Black Barrel.” 

He told us how to smell: “Put your nose inside the glass, open mouth slightly and breathe in that hint of vanilla sweetness and exotic fruit” We then went on to taste, getting that trademark Jameson spice (“from the unmalted barley”) and, “from the charred wood” came vanilla, butterscotch and caramel. “One of the best, pound for pound,” he concluded and there were nods all around.

Video of barrel collapse

"Here's one I un-made
A collaboration between Jameson and Franciscan Well led to Caskmates and that was explained to us by Paudie of the Well. Firstly, the brewery made a stout in six barrels that previously held whiskey and it turned out stronger than expected due to the whiskey in the wood. Later, the returned barrels were filled with Jameson in Midleton and Liam told us an extra long finish resulted and was called Caskmates.  “It is very popular as a sipping whiskey”. We sipped and enjoyed it as we enjoyed the delicious stout. Every second sip!
Cabernet Sauvignon Pizza, boy!

Ger then talked about another tool, the Croze, “the one tool I must have” and “that’s why I named my whiskey after it”. The Cooper’s Croze is one of three relatively new products from Midleton; the others in the set are Blender’s Dog and Distiller’s Safe. 

A croze? Ger has used a croze all his working life. He uses it to cut the grove along the top of the staves to hold the head (the circular cover) in place.

“Now,” said Ger. “The pizza is ready. The best pizza in Cork to go with the best beers in Cork, in my opinion.” Pompeii Pizza are the resident producers here in the Well and they had three specials for the occasion.

We enjoyed the Cabernet Sauvignon Chorizo (tomato sauce, Gubbeen chorizo roasted in Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon, black Kalamata Olives, Fior di Latte Mozzarella, Oregano).

Matching the whiskey was the Smoked Cheese and Caramelised Onion (featuring Carrigaline beech smoked cheese and Black Barrel Whiskey). For the beer lovers, Pompeii came up with the Shandon and Sausage (with Shannon Stout and Jack McCarthy’s Bramley Apple sausages in the mix).

Another brilliant night at the Franciscan Well.