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

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Exquisite New Seasonal Menu at Montenotte's Panorama.


Exquisite New Menu at Montenotte's Panorama.
Superb Food. Great Views Too.
Hake

The foyer of the Montenotte Hotel is abuzz as we enter last week. Lots of shiny suits and colourful dresses fill the comfortable spaces. And the buzz continues into the Panorama Bistro where we thankfully have a booking (they are turning people away) and where we are about to enjoy a surprisingly delightful meal.

Well, maybe not that surprising! We have been studying the menu and it looks very inviting indeed. At the table, among the family parties celebrating their new graduates, we see that this evening there are no less than nine specials, three under each of the main headings. Besides, we have some inkling of what new chef Liam Kirwan is capable of as we enjoyed a delicious lunch during the summer at Mikey Ryan’s in Cashel (where he was then employed).
Crab

And big kudos too to the Panorama staff. They were busy but, nonetheless, they performed very well indeed, always with a smile and even finding time for a quick chat or two. So efficient were they, that there were no delays in getting the food to the tables. We were in early and some customers were leaving but soon the restaurant was full again, those with tables near the long window getting the full benefit of the great view over the city and, just underneath, over the lovely new gardens here.

But our eyes were on the menu, my hand on a pint of Chieftain Ale as they do offer the Franciscan Well beers here. You could well start with one of their Snacks, a Cashel Blue Rarebit among them, but we go for the dishes under Starters and get two beauties.

CL picks for the Crab Gratin with Wheaten Bread Crust. Clearly stated. No big highfalutin phrases on this menu. But the dish is high class, packed with flavour and a little spice and she declares it as one of the best crab starters she’s ever had.

But, we agree, mine is even better. The Roast Jerusalem Artichoke and Shallot Jam Tart with walnut ricotta, is pleasing to look at and its melange of flavours and textures is hard to match. Not too sure that any starter I’ve had in recent months comes anywhere near this gem!

CL is a Hake lover (Hake’s not my pet name, by the way) but not so much if this delicious fish is smothered in a creamy sauce. No danger of that here (none of the four fish dishes, including the two on special, has a cream sauce). Her Saffron Poached Hake, with Gubbeen chorizo, butterbean and charred Padrón pepper casserole is a magnificent melange of flavour, texture and smoky aromas. Really top class.
Venison Wellington

My mains is deceptive, looks like a small pie in a big dish. Maybe I should have had ordered a side. But the Ballinwillin Venison Wellington is loaded with the aromas and tastes of Autumn in the wild - that “little pastry” packs a powerful punch of flavour and texture, with no little help in that department coming from the cavolo nero (the kale of Tuscany), the dark chocolate jus and the roast celeriac. As you can see from this dish, the new menu is seasonal and local (Ballinwillin is in Mitchelstown).

Quantities here are, like the quality, very well judged indeed. You won’t really be stuffed, unless of course you wish to be and indulge in some of the tempting sides which include Truffle and Rosemary Fries, Buttered Greens, and Creamed Spinach to mention just a few. 
Plum Pie
So we had room for dessert and went for the one we had noted when we first got our hands on the menu: the Mulled Plum Pie. Another beauty and another seasonal dish, so you’d better get in there quick and, don’t forget, make a reservation!

Excellent choice of desserts (again three extras on special) but I’d better tell you about the cheeseboard as it illustrates the kitchen’s commitment to local. The description is Milleens, Crozier Blue, Daru, Cooleeney Camembert, oat cakes, whiskey honeycomb, barm brack, walnut brittle, pear. If you get that, sit back and relax and hold off on that taxi for a while!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Cork Cheese Dinner. Amazing Variety of Irish Cheese.


Cork Cheese Dinner
Amazing Variety of Irish Cheese.
Carrigaline's Padraig O'Farrell (left) and Coolea's Helene Willems
with yours truly at last night's dinner in Cork Airport Hotel

We are used to the cheese course at the end of the meal. But this one came at the end of a meal in Olivo, the restaurant at the Cork Airport Hotel, the host venue for the inaugural Cork Cheese Week, a meal in which all the previous four courses had been based on cheese. Were we stuffed? No. Our four local chefs got the quality and the quantity just right and we enjoyed a delightful meal that brilliantly illustrated the variety of texture and flavour available in Irish cheese today.

Delighted too to share this meal with Helene Willems. Helene with her husband Dicky were among the pioneering Irish cheesemakers, setting up in Coolea about 40 years ago. Now the second generation carry on the business at the same high standard, leaving Helene and Dicky plenty of time to enjoy life on the road in their beloved camper-van! 

Stracciatella

Appropriate that Helene was with us at the Gouda table! As was another superb Cork cheesemaker Padraig O’Farrell of Carrigaline Farmhouse whose mother and father started their cheese-making business over 30 years ago.

The innovative Toons Bridge Dairy featured in our Amuse Bouche, a delicious Stracciatella with picked cherries and candied walnuts by Fran Jara who has just completed a six month course at the famous Basque Culinary Centre in San Sebastian, “well worth every cent,” she told me as we sipped some lovely bubbles as the guests gathered.
Soufflé

Quite a few were associating cheese meals and heaviness but the opposite was the case with our lovely starter by Kate Lawlor, a soft and delicious Twice Baked Bluebell Falls goats cheese soufflé with a Hegarty’s Cheddar glaze with beetroot carpaccio. 

Pam Kelly’s main course was naturally more substantial, quite a tour de force actually. The Gubbeen pork was the star of the plate of course which also featured Coolea and Rockfield (sheep) cheeses with an excellent apple and parsnip sauce.

Our chefs were rocking it and the dance continued with a flower bedecked dessert from pastry ace Christine Girault, now dividing her time between Cork and Paris. Her “tarte aux fruits” looked well and tasted even better.

Pork

By now, the generous servings of wine were being replaced by coffee though not before we sampled the cheese board with Coolea, Cashel Blue, Carrigaline, Hegarty’s Smoked Cheddar and Gubbeen all featuring. And the hotel continued to spoil us with a selection of petit fours! Quite a night ahead of two working days for the cheese makers as they were due to meet the punters for tastings and workshops on today Saturday and Sunday, starting at 11.00am each day. Details here.

The Cheese Week at Airport Hotel
Part One, mainly new cheeses
Part Two, mainly the classics









Monday, August 13, 2018

Taste of the Week. Gubbeen Hot Smoked Ham


Taste of the Week
Gubbeen Hot Smoked Ham

This is another gem from Fingal Ferguson at Gubbeen Smokehouse and our Taste of the Week. Hot smoked ham, “a marriage of traditional methods and modern flavours”, is a superb product and very versatile also.

Try it in a salad, as we did. Use what leaves you have in the garden. Add a fruity couscous, maybe an Asian Noodle salad, maybe both.

And don’t forget the classic Ploughman’s and try enhancing that with a dollop or two of Derry Clarke’s Ploughman’s Relish. Lots of other uses too, so over to you.

We got ours at the Gubbeen stall in Mahon Point Farmers Market. Do check the website below for stockists.


Gubbeen
Schull
Co. Cork
00 353 (0)28 27824



Thursday, August 9, 2018

A Magical New Menu at the Maryborough. Dinner at Bellini’s is a Top Local Treat

Dinner at Bellini’s is a Top Local Treat
A Magical New Menu at the Maryborough
Cod

Bellini’s, the classy comfortable restaurant at the Maryborough Hotel, may be a little bit out of town but the short hop has been worth it in recent years and even more so now that Head Chef Gemma Murphy has introduced a splendid new menu.

We were there the other night and the biggest problem was trying to decide between the many tempting dishes. There are no less than eight starters for instance and ingredients used include Ballinwillin Boar Salami, Heirloom Tomatoes, Baba Ganoush, Confit Pork Belly, Dill and Albarino Cream and Velvet Cloud Sheep’s Yogurt.
Carrots

Finally, we settled on a couple and CL beat me to the Grilled Mackerel, Red Pepper, Baba Ganoush, Feuille De Brick, Coriander Oil (€10.95). “Lovely,” she said. “Different. The pepper, the baba ganoush. Lots of different flavours but all combining, nothing dominating.”
Mackerel

Having enjoyed carrots with buttermilk some time back in Paradiso, I thought the smoothly delicious Velvet Cloud Sheep’s Yogurt (from County Mayo) would go well with the carrots so that was one reason I went for the Warm Irish Carrot Salad with Charred Baby Gem, Velvet Cloud Sheep’s Yoghurt, Sesame, Lime and Honey Dressing (€8.50). The combination was sublime and those carrots with that dressing were so incredibly sweet. 

And that harmonious high continued with my beautiful main course:  Miso and Ginger Marinated Cod, Wakame Seaweed, Compressed Cucumber, Irish Shiitake Mushroom, Shiso Gel, Dashi Broth (€26.00). A marriage made in culinary heaven. The freshness of the fish, the clean flavours of the broth and the vegetables, the precision of the whole dish were amazing, nothing else needed.

Trout

And CL was also well satisfied with the Fillet of Irish Trout, Brown Butter Shrimp, Shaved Fennel, Pepper, Caperberries, Local Gubbeen Chorizo Bisque (€26.50). The fish itself was excellent and the accompaniments all played a part, especially the Chorizo bisque which was nicely judged, not strong enough as to dominate but strong enough to support.

Desserts often disappoint, often because they are the same old suspects. Not here though. Mine was the White Chocolate Mousse, Blackberry and Gin Gel, Macerated Blackberries (€7.95). A generous topping of that gel led to the delicious chocolate underneath, all served in a large glass. Excellent, very satisfying finalé for me. And CL was more than pleased with her Tropical Delice, Mango Sorbet, Toasted Coconut (€7.95).
White chocolate mousse

What a chef! Gemma has been doing this here for quite a while now but rarely pops up in short lists of the top Cork chefs. She’s certainly on mine, as is Bellini’s and their courteous, informative and efficient staff.

No shortage of drinks, including cocktails, here as the bar adjoins the restaurant. Quite a wine list too. I enjoyed a glass of Swallows Tail Sauvignon Blanc/Chenin from South Africa with the cod while the more aromatic Hooded Plover Semillon Chardonnay, from Australia, went very well with the trout. Think I got those pairings right! Gemma and her crew did everything else to make it a memorable meal.

Tropical Delice






Bellini's at The Maryborough Hotel
Maryborough Hill, Douglas, Cork, Ireland, T12XR12.
Tel +353 21 436 5555
Email: info@maryborough.ie







Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Late Lunch in the City. How About Dockland?

Late Lunch in the City. How About Dockland?

A trip down town yesterday meant an unexpected but very enjoyable late lunch,  in the sun, at Dockland on Lapps Quay. Superb dishes, full of flavour.


Chargrilled chicken, tomato fondue, Gubbeen chorizo, basil pesto, olive oil mash.
Dockland Fish Cakes, watercress mayonaisse, wilted spinach, red pepper relish.
No big secret here: they use lots of fish in the cakes!

Ideal for a sunny day: Raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake.




Sunday, April 8, 2018

Richy’s Restaurant. Sixteen Years In Clon - Getting Better All The Time.


Richy’s Restaurant. 
Sixteen Years In Clon - Getting Better All The Time.
Warm chicken salad

Richy’s Restaurant is celebrating sixteen years in Clonakilty and is better than ever. Richy is an outstanding chef and the whole enterprise, the original restaurant and the newer R Cafe, is amazing. Here you can eat well all day long, every day of the week, and virtually everything on the menu is based on local produce. 

Here too you can learn about food. Richy is passionate about local produce, about sustainability, a campaigner against obesity and his food and classes reflect these concerns. A four evening course on Healthy Eating (with chef Matt Williamson) starts on April 24th details here
Renowned West Cork smoker Sally Barnes
is one of Richy's suppliers

But back to our lunch, the purpose of our recent visit. We had a good look at the menu, one page of which is given over to a list of local producers, some of them just a few yards away from the Wolfe Tone premises but virtually all of them from the general West Cork area, including familiar names such as Toonsbridge, Shannonvale, Clonakilty Black Pudding, Sally Barnes Smokery, Gubbeen and Milleens.

Quite a choice on the menu, including lots of pizzas from their own oven. Salads too, fishcakes, lasagna, a beef burger and a vegetarian burger and more. And then check the board for the specials. Here we saw a Monkfish and Bean Stew, Union Hall salmon with mash and veg, Seafood chilli pasta with the option of adding scallops, and a Pork Burger with apple purée and chips. 

And one (I had this on a previous visit) that you must consider is the Mauritian Beef Curry! A range of dishes and a range of prices too and family friendly as well with a special kids menu.
Frittata

My pick was the Warm Salad of Grilled Chicken with Gubbeen bacon and avocado, cherry tomatoes and baby leaves (11.95). Full of textures and flavours and those leaves were so fresh and well-dressed, a delightful lunch for a coolish spring day but one that could be just as satisfying in summer and winter.

CL meanwhile was making pleasurable progress with her Cauliflower, garlic, potato and red onion frittata, also with local leaves (8.95 small, 11.50 large). “Faultless,” she reported. “Salad was lovely too, the cauliflower a delicious ingredient, and the few halved olives gave a tarty bite as well.” So there you are, two happy customers and we went on to share a pot of tea after that.

After settling the bill in this bright and airy room we asked to say hello to the man himself in the adjoining white-walled restaurant. As our chat progressed, he told us how things have changed in the evening menu here, with a page now devoted to tapas (small plates, ranging in  price from 4.95 to 15.00). 
Local supplier

You may still have plenty of meat (48 hour Jacob’s Ladder, Slaney Valley Rack of Lamb, Carrigfadda Farm Shoulder of Pork, and Dexter Burger). Seafood too features in the list of mains, including a Roast fillet of Monkfish, a West Cork Fish Bake, Seared Beara Scallops, and a mega seafood plate with Lobster, prawn, crab and scallops. Indeed, reading the menu details, you realise you are in a really top notch restaurant.

So back to the Tapas, divided into meat and fish ones and also an equally long Veggie section. How about Panko Soft Shell Crabs with spiced tomato relish? Anyone for Clonakilty Black Pudding samosas with vegetable achard. Maybe Fillet of Beef medallions with rosemary potatoes? On the Veggie List, you’ll want those Spiced Lentils with spinach and Macroom halloumi. Would you prefer the Tipperary goats cheese balls, with cranberry relish and leaves? Reckon you've got the picture by now. Better to call down though and check out the real thing for yourself.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Taste of the Week. Gubbeen Marinated Pork Ribs

Taste of the Week
Gubbeen Marinated Pork Ribs



The Gubbeen stall at the Thursday Mahon Point Farmers Market is always worth a call. Recently, we got a wheel of their delicious cheese, an Irish classic. Fingal Ferguson’s smokehouse and charcuterie in general is always there in abundance and we spotted these ribs there, now our Taste of the Week.
We got enough for three, maybe four, for a tenner. And advice on how to cook them: low and slow, with a tray of water underneath to keep them moist during the process.

The Blog Chef followed the instructions, added a simple salad, and it proved to be a delicious flavoursome main course. Thank you Fingal and company!

And, of course, we had some of the cheese later on.


Gubbeen
Gubbeen House,
Schull, Co. Cork.
Ireland.
Cheese Telephone:
00 353 (0)28 28231
Smokehouse Telephone:
00 353 (0)28 27824

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Fergusons. And the Gubbeen Bug. The Family That Farms Together

The Fergusons. And the Gubbeen Bug. 

The Family That Farms Together

Cheese in brine
Farming at Gubbeen is a family affair with father and mother Tom and Gianna Ferguson and their son Fingal and daughter Clovisse the key figures. 



But, for a long time now, they've had the help of an unseen bug, officially known as Microbacterium gubbeenense, a unique strain (hence its own name) of lactic acid producing bacteria. Gianna, the cheesemaker, was thrilled when informed about the bug back around 2001. She told us during last Friday's Munster Wine and Dine Tour: “Gubbeen’s own bug. I was totally delighted with that. I have three children, and a bug!”
Munster Wine & Dine at Gubbeen

Tom
“Our cheese story begins out on the land.” She praised Tom’s herd, mostly Friesian, a few other breeds too including a few Jerseys "for their cream!" The cheese took off well and since then “everything seems to have dovetailed together”. Here, she was talking about the smokehouse charcuterie (and smoked cheese of course) by Fingal along with the gardening skills of Clovisse, not that either are confined to just one skill, far from it.

She said Irish cheese regulation is geared towards cheddar cheese production. “But my tradition is based on the practices of small farms in France and Spain. We in Gubbeen use the traditional rennet, made from an enzyme that grows in a calf’s stomach. We tried it vegetarian rennet but it didn't work for us.”
Once the cheese is made into wheels, not very big ones in Gubbeen’s case, the bacteria is inoculated by hand into each and every one four times. The rind is known as washed rind because, it it comes from regular washing (water yes but also white wine!) of the individual wheels. “It is edible,” she said. “But it is a different texture and I respect why people may not eat it.”

Gubbeen basically make one cheese type but you may buy it young or more mature or smoked and in different sizes. Read all about the variations here on the Gubbeen cheese page  .

Fingal shows his knives

The Gubbeen smokehouse story begins with a neighbour. “In my early teens I would drive over to the village of Goleen to bring our cheeses to Chris Jepson to be smoked in his Smokehouse,” Fingal told us as he took us around the new (the 2nd) smoke house. After the cheese, they did meat. “Then the salamis really took off, helped by the fact that our name was appearing in top restaurants such as Chapter One.”

Like his mother, Fingal too pointed “to the care of the land” as key. “Milk is vital to cheese. The quality of pig is vital to us. We have embraced with locals via the Piggy Coop. We stress the husbandry and the breed, mostly outdoor reared. You pay more but it is worth it.” By the way, there are 25 employed (including family members) in Gubbeen.
Welcome to the smokehouse

He showed us how he heats his kilns, “important to get the correct balance of air and smoke. Different temperatures create different flavours”. And, wouldn't you know it, they use local timbers, local windfall timber. A fair bit of work in chopping up a big tree but father Tom takes no excuses: “The man who cuts his own timber warms himself twice!”

Fingal spoke of salting and brining. “The brine is traditional Irish, herbs jazz it up.” He uses natural casings, “more expensive but a better result”. “These smoked products are not overly sterilised but good for your gut and more interesting in terms of flavour.” Read all about the smoke house, including the fabulous salamis and chorizos here

Just a hint of the Superb Lunch from Clovisse

And when Fingal has time, he crafts the most amazing knifes for cooks and butchers but don’t rush down to buy one; there is a waiting list of close to 800 for these beauties. Heat treating and quality of steel are key in making a good knife. “The tempering cycle, well done, can change the properties of the steel to enhance its eventual role, including durability.” His attractive handles are made “of everything from old bog oak to weird and wonderful materials.”

Then he took us on a walk around the yard and here we met some baby animals, including calves and bonhams, also a big turkey and a mighty cockerel that almost matched him.

Then it was the turn of Clovisse to feed us. And, using the cheese, the smokehouse meats, and herbs, vegetables and leaves from her own garden just outside the dining room window, she put together a feast of Gubbeen. Nothing much to be added, though the organic wines from Le Caveau, the Gran Cedro Tempranillo and the Meyer-Fonné Pinot Blanc, were entirely appropriate and excellent matches.

Her garden is completely chemical free with a strong emphasis on keeping the soil clean and healthy.  Many of the herbs are used in the sausage recipes and meat cures. Gianna used the word dovetail earlier to describe how the different elements of Gubbeen have come together and the Gubbeen greens are becoming an increasing element of the great family story. Read all about them here
Back to the garden
See also:

Tapas at Schull’s Casa Diego. And Farewell to lovely Stanley House