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Thursday, September 27, 2018
Bastion. Playing in the Irish Top Rank.
The summer was back as we headed towards Bastion in Kinsale on Wednesday last. Late in the season, but the town was still busy, tourists walking around and checking the menus. With the water sparkling and the colourful marina packed, it could have been the Med. What we ate in the Bastion could sit easily on Europe’s top tables. And that puts it in the top rank here.
We even have a window table (good light for the pics!) so the signs are good from the start. And it continues that way with the two breads, a hard to match sourdough and a matchless Brioche. Hard to decide then between the Treacle Butter and the Olive Oil with Balsamic. But no decision necessary - enough to share!
There is a mega wine-list here. Take the reds for example. You may start with a €27.00 bottle, a very nice Vina Albergada for example, and go right up to the famous Penfold’s Grange. The Grange will set you back nine hundred euro or €180.50 per glass. They use the Coravin here so you can indeed sample some of the more expensive wines by the glass.
They have Prosecco on tap and some very interesting Prosecco based cocktails. The Kir Royale (cassis and prosecco) is a superb example of its kind while I was absolutely delighted with my Pisco (elderflower, orange bitters and Prosecco).
By now, the first of our five courses, from the Early Bird Tasting Menu, had arrived. A local oyster, from Oysterhaven; served with apple yogurt, purée and jelly and pickled fennel, this bracing delight of the sea had the taste buds standing up.
The Celeriac Velouté was next, an unctuous sauce in its own container, and, on a little dish, pickled giroles, apple, celeriac mousse and hazelnut oil. Now those taste buds were on full alert.
And their reward was a gorgeous Smoked and Cured Organic Salmon dish. That salmon was superb but the accompaniments, especially the soft goats cheese and the salt-baked beetroot, were also outstanding and the candy walnuts got into this tasty act as well.
The main event was now at hand: Lamb rump, with peas, turnip and preserved lemon. The peas were good but the turnip was something else and there were some pickled rounds of it also. Needless to say, the lamb from the Kerry hills, in its two manifestations (roast and slow-cooked), was spot on.
Desserts, occasionally, don’t match the rest of the meal. Not the case here! Our White Chocolate Panna Cotta, with Pistachio Sponge, cherry sorbet and cherry granola, was a delightful finalé, served in an eye-catching fine china cup.
This superb restaurant, which has gone from strength to strength over the past three years under Helen (front of house) and Paul (Head Chef), supports local producers. In this menu alone, suppliers include Horizon Farm, Padraig O’Donovan fish, while the cheese, the beef and the lamb are all Irish.
It holds the only Michelin bib in Cork city and county and everything you eat here, from the bread to the sweet treat with your coffee, is made in-house. While Bastion faces the same challenges as most other restaurants and cafes in staff recruitment, their service is friendly and attentive (without ever being in your face).
As we walked earlier in the warming September sun towards town centre Bastion, we spotted, in the backwater under Man Friday, a quartet of herons in different trees, all on the alert. There were fish jumping, seemingly without a care in the world. On our return, there were no fish jumping. And the herons looked well satisfied. Like us, they had enjoyed a very good meal!
Thursday, February 8, 2018
Good Day Deli
Good Food Daily
|Pic by Good Day Deli|
Kai Moana is one of the exotic names that pops up on the menu at Good Day Deli in the gardens of Nano Nagle Place in Cork City. Those of you who have visited the South Pacific, especially New Zealand and the “neighbouring” islands, will not find them strange at all and know that Kai Moana is the Maori for seafood.
Perhaps the most important two words you’ll read are Mana Tiaki. It is the motto for this lovely new daytime restaurant. “In the Cook Islands, the core value of Mana Tiaki is guardianship of heritage and the environment for future generations. Mana Tiaki is a beautiful value to live by and is at the core of Good Day Deli.”
So sustainability is the guideline for the crew here, fronted by owners Clare Condon and New Zealander Kristin Makirere and Head Chef Charlotte Murphy, from the food sourcing right down to the paper napkins.
Importantly that food is delicious; the word has already spread and the place was packed when we visited about 12.30pm last Friday. Don't just look in through the glass and say “we’ll never get a table”. Open the door and soon enough you’ll be seated. You may reserve a table earlier in the week (Tuesday to Thursday).
The afternoon menu kicks in at 12.30. After a few minutes delay we were seated and studying the list. There was a hot seasonal soup (chilli and coriander in this case), a Tart of the Day, a Vibrant Vegan dish, and a Halloumi Citrus Salad. Sides galore: honey, nut dukkah, tapenade, hummus, paprika fries and more.
We had spotted a hake dish on their facebook page and were hoping it was still on. It was and CL picked that one: Kai Moana Fish Tacos, lightly battered Irish Hake on Blanco Nino Corn Tortillas with raw slaw, pickle plus lemon coriander mayo and fries. That fish was fresh and delicious, a lovely dish for €15.00.
I also hit the jackpot with the GDD Curry Bowl (€14.00). Crown Prince Squash + Chickpea Coconut Curry Bowl, with Basmati rice, yogurt and toasted coconut is the full description. Probably the best curry I've ever tasted is mine. Just perfect.
Service here, even with the small queue at the door, is excellent. No pressure, just smiles and all the info you want.
One of their aims is to “elevate local producers”. They feature quite a list on the menu including (it will change seasonally) well-known cheesemakers such as Ardsallagh, Hegarty’s and Toonsbridge, farms like Kilbrack, Horizon and Richard’s, also Green Space, Frank Hederman, Ballycotton Seafood, and Organic for Us (milk). Quite an impressive list and that’s only half of it. Oh yes, the Blanco Nino Corn Tortillas with the hake are made in Clonmel.
The café, bright and airy with some outside tables, has one of the best situations on the city, in the middle of the peaceful well-kept gardens of the Nano Nagle Place, fast becoming one of the city centre’s top attractions. While at the café, I took the opportunity to visit the buildings and you may read about it here. No doubt as the season goes on, both Nano Nagle and Good Day Deli will get busier.
Nano Nagle Place
(021) 432 2107
Monday, October 26, 2015
Go Visit the Diva
She can’t come to you!
|Get your share of these!|
If you go to the Diva in Ballinspittle, and you should, and if you order a side of those gorgeous Sweet Potato Chips, and you should, then you should also mind your manners and do please share with the person you came with!
If the team here, in their newly revamped kitchen, back in action (since 21.10.15) after months out due to fire, can get the small things right, and they do, there is every chance they’ll get the big things right. And they do. Big time.
|The Big One!|
We called there for lunch last week and thought we’d have no problem by going early. We just about managed to get a table for two. Lots of different styles of tables here - it was after all the kitchen that got the revamp! But it is all part of the charm, as is the friendly service and the imaginative use of all that brilliant local produce.
Indeed, one of the first things you’ll notice is the back wall (the left bit) as you go in. Here there is a huge declaration of provenance. Meat from Lordan's butchers in the same street, greens from Horizon Farms, vegetables from All Fresh, free range eggs from Beechwood Farm and fish supplied by James O’Keeffe.
|All Wrapped Up!|
I had enjoyed a Reuben sandwich at the recent Waterford Harvest Fest and so was open to trying the Diva version. The Waterford one, in a Blaa, was very tasty but, in fairness, it was from a street food stall and could hardly be compared to the Champions League effort in Ballinspittle. Well, maybe New York rather than European. Massive, contained (not quite) in two large slices of their own bread, the length of my knife and about half the height, corned beef from Lordan’s, Sauerkraut, Gherkin, cheese and more. A magnificent Reuben. Worth the journey on its own.
We were sitting at a small table and directly opposite us was the counter and the utterly tempting display of sweet things. We settled for a pot of tea and two cakes from the display, sharing (again!) the Raspberry Crumble and an equally lovely Honey and Spice (ginger) Cake.
|Honey & Spice!|
And after that, we said goodbye to the efficient and friendly folk in the cafe and strolled down to the bakery to see more good things, including produce from other local and Irish artisans. Some lovely breads on display - probably would have been more had we called in the morning. One that we bought was the Potato Loaf. It is a delicious souvenir (didn't last too long, of course) of a pleasant trip to Ballinspittle. Very Highly Recommended.
Diva Boutique Bakery Cafe & Deli
Main Street, Ballinspittle, Co. Cork
Wednesday-Saturday 9.30-5.00 Sunday 11.00-5.00
Tel: (021) 477 8465
Facebook: Diva Boutique Bakery Cafe & Deli
|In the bakery/deli|
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
The West’s Awake.
Find it Fresh in Bradley’s
|Opening day in Bradley's|
Fresh from West Cork is back in town and you’ll find it installed in Bradley’s, North Main Street. Walter, familiar to many of you from his stint last year in the English Market, fronts the operation and is as enthusiastic as ever.
And why wouldn't he be? He has some great produce in Bradley's; all the familiar names are there including Irish Atlantic Sea Salt, Rosscarbery Recipes, Gubbeen, Ummera, Glenilen, Sally Barnes (he especially recommends her smoked mackerel, “a big seller”), West Cork Pies, Culture Foods (the Sauerkraut people, who are now exporting) and more.
June Kingston’s Soda Wheaten loaf is a best seller and there are tasty apple tarts from the Walshes of Caheragh (near Drimoleague). And don't forget the Loughbeg Tea Brack and be sure to get some Glenilen clotted cream to go with that! Then you have yogurts and Lemon Labneh from McCarthy’s Dairy not to mention the many fish products from Union Hall including Smoked Mackerel Paté and Smoked Salmon Paté.
No shortage of honey and jam. The honey comes from Noel and Patricia Love of Knockeen (Skibbereen) while jams are supplied by Kathleen McCarthy of Drimoleague and Eithne McCarthy from Skibbereen. And watch out too for the Loughbeg chutneys, quite a few but the star is the Yellow Zucchini Relish which was adored by a bunch of “nine Michelin chefs from London when they sampled it at the English Market last year”.
And the good news is that you can get these six days a week, from 8.00am to 9.30pm! And more good news. If you like your vegetables fresh (and who doesn't?), Colm O’Regan of Horizon Farms will be making three deliveries a week to North Main Street.
And from next Friday, you'll be able to get raw pressed juice here: carrot, beetroot and a vegetable and fruit blend! “And the week after that, we'll have mini-meals,” he said. I looked puzzled! “Especially for toddlers,” he clarified. So there you are. Walter and Fresh from West Cork will feed you all, big and small.
Friday, January 30, 2015
Generation to Generation
|Garett, on duty.|
“I believe the survival of the English Market over the last hundred years is down to the families who have ran the stalls from generation to generation. They have kept it going.” So said Garrett Murphy, as we chatted over a cuppa in the Farmgate Cafe. Garrett, a current stallholder, knows what he is talking about!
For fifty years, his father Michael ran the Roughty Fruit King stall in the centre of the market, until ill health came in 2011. Four generations of the Murphys worked there, in different locations, until they settled on the current stall in 1961. Nowadays, Garrett and his sister Margot Ann work in the new look foodie stall (now called The Roughty Foodie) and they have help from time to time from younger members of the family.Two thousand and eleven was the year of the Queen’s visit and the Murphys, in transition from a specifically fruit stall to something more general, weren't ready for her but, with help and encouragement from the City Council and fellow traders, they were up and running for the peak summer months.
“It kinda fell into our laps,” says Garrett as he recalled those anxious months. “But we could see the change of emphasis to quality. We could compete with the supermarkets on quality though not on price. So we took that new direction and grew organically. We soon had a few local producers on board, including Macroom Mills, Glenilen and our home-baker.” Garrett will never forget that first Saturday. “Everything cleared. We had nothing left on the shelves.”
They moved along from there with new producers coming on board, including Brian from Beechwood Farm and his brother Colm from Horizon Farms, Mags (who makes a great Lemon Curd) from Heavenly Preserves and Betty Smith with her jams and marmalades. Also joining were Harty’s Jellies, Taste the View, while local strawberries came from Rathcooney.
“The two months July and August of 2011 were great. The tourists came flooding in and kept buying, the locals too despite the parking problems. Traders told us it would get better in October and November but that didn't happen and we were worried until December and the run-in to Christmas which proved massive for us and had us back on track”.
I asked Garrett what the most popular products are. “It is seasonal so, for example, we sell a lot of porridge in the winter months. Jams, preserves and honey are always very popular and so too is cheese.” What has surprised you over the past few years? “This Christmas it was the amount of hampers and Irish cheese and crackers that we sold. At Christmas 2011, goosefat was a huge seller.”
What are his own favourites? Licking his lips he had no hesitation: Eddie Hicks’ fantastic bacon jam and Ballybrado Supreme Spelt muesli. He has great time too for Kitty Colchester’s Happy Heart organic rapeseed oil and the High Bank Farm Apple Syrup. And indeed is enthusiastic about every single product he displays!
The stall is packed with food. But it is not just food. Tourists love the Seaweed Bath. The Goats Milk soap from the Burren is very popular too and he has a great candle-maker from Portmagee on Valentia Island. So do go in and explore. You never know what treasure you’ll find in Roughty Foodie.