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

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. 
Njuda

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.”
Ardsallagh

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

Hot!
“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!

Ingredients
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
Tramore
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
earlier"
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.


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Frédéric Desormeaux and his Fantastic Fish at the Mountain Bar.


Frédéric Desormeaux and his 
Fantastic Fish at the Mountain Bar.

French chef Frédéric Desormeaux, well known from his days in Greene’s, is loving life in West Cork. And producing plates of fantastic food in the kitchen of the Mountain Bar in Ardfield. Fifty covers last Saturday night! One hundred and fifty the Sunday before. And the numbers will go up in the summer when Fred cooks outside with customers accommodated in two marquees.

When we arrive in this seemingly isolated country pub, we are presented with the specials board. We know we are in for a treat and, eventually pick the fish specials, as Fred is noted for his fish dishes. 

At the bottom, there is a Buttermilk marinated Southern Fried Chicken Burger, Dubliner cheese and smoky bacon, Brioche bap, aioli, and Parmesan cheese and wedges. Fred likes this, maybe too much! “Never trust a skinny chef,” he laughs. We stick with the fish. I should mention, just in case that you don’t like fish, that the Mountain is also well known for its steak!

We’d never really heard of this pub until recently. But lots of people have, as you can guess by the numbers turning up. It is about ten minutes from Clonakilty, about fifteen from Rosscarbery. There are beaches nearby, some stunning ones, some  fantastic scenery too, including Galley Head. So lots of visitors around and quite a few have holiday homes in the area. 

And, for just over 12 months now, many of them have been flocking to Patrick and Carol O’Sullivan’s Mountain House. The O’Sullivan’s acquired the premises in 2010. Travel The Distance Taste The Difference, they say. We did, on both counts. Not that the distance is all that much: Ardfield is just about 45 minutes from Cork city.

There is a regular lunch menu here including soups, sandwiches, burgers, fish and chips and so on and also a Sunday Lunch. But we didn’t really go past the specials. There was a dish of Quail breasts, confit duck potato croquettes, Turmeric baby pear, broccoli sprout, yogurt and beetroot dressing, light jus. Also one of Chicken, Prawns, Gubbeen Chorizo Caesar salad, crispy potatoes, garlic brioche croutons and poached egg. Pub grub? I ask myself.

My pick is Seared Tuna on a smoked tuna potato salad, pea purée, roast garlic aioli, squid ink tuile (19.95) . A masterly and vivid rendition of the fruits of sea and the garden, the tuna so fresh and flavoursome, the salad a little masterpiece on its own, all topped off with the delicately wrought squid ink tuile. Very Highly Recommended if you get the chance!

Across the table, there was another hymn of praise being murmured as CL engaged with her Fresh Rigatoni Pasta with Salmon, Prawns, Mussels, Gubbeen chorizo cream, Parmesan and Garlic bread.  A magnificent combination, another harmonious song of the sea with that Gubbeen too playing a key role, even the garlic bread was noteworthy. By the way, everything is fresh here, that beautiful pasta was made that morning.

We had a very friendly and helpful server and also a wee chat with a lady who I presume was one of the owners and both seem to be enthusiastic about the food, know the dishes well, always a good sign.

Another chat then with our chef, about old times and new. And what would we have for dessert? There was a choice of three or four. Fred recommended the Tiramisu (made fresh that morning) and I'd seen the Mango Creme Brûlée flying out to a group at a nearby table. So they were the two that we ordered and that we shared. Needless to say, both were superb.

After that excellent meal, we stepped from the restaurant room into the bar and there was Fred preparing a slightly raised section to accommodate the numbers expected that evening. You may also eat in the bar itself. An older gent was tucking in when we first entered and a threesome were eating at the counter as we said au revoir to Fred. Great to hear him say “I’m very happy here”. And many customers of the Mountain will be glad of that as well.

* By the way, if do get to Ardfield, and you should, check across the road from the bar; there is a plaque to a famous English musician, Noel Redding, who came and enjoyed life here. 

Also on this 24 hour trip:
Celtic Ross dinner
West Cork Farm Tours

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Exquisite Aldridge Lodge. Accomplished Cooking in Attractive Corner of Wexford


Exquisite Aldridge Lodge.
Accomplished Cooking in Attractive Corner of Wexford 

Aldridge Lodge is one of Ireland’s hidden gems. A top class restaurant, with a Michelin bib since 2007, in rural surroundings just outside of the Wexford village of Duncannon (with its Kennedy family connections). Amazing food here and, hidden or not, you’ll be well advised to book well in advance. Even more so if you want one of the three rooms on offer.

The beautiful spacious rooms are very much in demand and I’m told that groups make annual dates here. They enjoy a great meal, at very reasonable prices, and then take a bottle or two of wine upstairs, where there is a very comfortable common room, and chat into the night.

Aldridge Lodge may in a secluded part of County Wexford but you won’t feel isolated here as the marvellous Hook Head Peninsula is just a short drive away - you may visit the lighthouse, the haunted Loftus Hall, Tintern Abbey and its 200-year old Colclough Gardens, and Ballyhack and its castle, and so much more.
Duncannon Tasting Plate

Chef Whitty
Billy Whitty and Joanne Harding are the owners here and the welcome is warm. Chef Billy met us as we parked and helped bring in the cases and invited us to come down for dinner at our leisure.

And it is leisurely, no rush, but no delays either! First you are brought into the bar area. The menus are brought as you sip your drink - I enjoyed their special Aldridge “G&T”! They don’t have a spirits licence so the special “G&T” is based on white port. Delicious!

The choice for the 35 seater restaurant is fantastic, almost totally local. Billy’s family are involved in fishing and farming in the area and are the main suppliers. 

They have a Tasting Menu for just €35.00. After an amuse bouche in the lounge, you move into the dining room and do watch out for a superb starter, the Duncannon Tasting Plate: Tempura smoked salmon, smoked salmon mousse, smoked sea trout and a divine smoked haddock fish pie.
Pork Belly

The Middle Course may offer Twice cooked free-range pork belly rib with celeriac purée, soya and honey jus. Or Seared Kilmore scallop with Gubbeen chorizo croquette and creamed cauliflower. Each terrific.

If you are there in winter-time, it is probable that venison will feature. I certainly enjoyed the Venison haunch and loin with a black pudding cake and tomato. CL’s choice was also superb: Glazed Free Range Chicken Breast with spiced sprouts, cranberry compete, roast baby parsnips, golden raisins, almonds and pan juices.

Desserts are also rather special. Ours were Raspberry Tiramisu and a Vanilla Crême Brulée with honeycomb. There’s an interesting and wide-ranging wine list, also a selection of ports and dessert wines. Quite a few available by the glass. We finished off with one of their specials: a glass of the delicious Stonewell Tawny. They also have local beers, mainly from the Cleverman range.
Breakfast "starter"

After a good night’s sleep, we woke to see the December sun shining over Duncannon before heading down to the same room for breakfast, another five star event, again with Billy in the kitchen and also front of house! 
Plaice plus!

We didn’t go for the Full Irish, but rather the Full Fish! Let me give you a few details; the magnificent plate came with plaice fillets, reinforced with a poached egg (choice of hen or duck), tomatoes and a Portobello mushroom. All that after some terrific starters including Pear poached in red wine and a Yogurt pot with hazelnuts and raspberry.

That set us up for the day, for sure. Time then for a leisurely chat with the chef/owner before we struck off to Ballyhack to begin the journey home with a short ferry trip to Passage East, all the while promising ourselves we’d be back!

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