Showing posts with label Irish Wine and Food Society. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Irish Wine and Food Society. Show all posts

Monday, November 9, 2015

Longueville House Lunch. Award Winning Cider and Apple Brandy

Longueville House Lunch

Award Winning Cider and Apple Brandy
It is a big country house. And the fire is on. Not just to warm the building and its hosts and guests. But to cook your lunch. Don't worry, that big haunch of lamb will be ready in time. Welcome to Longueville House.
What's for lunch?

The welcome begins at the front door where an engaging posse of rascally dogs, all well behaved, snuggle up to their visitors. Once indoors, you are warmly welcomed by Aisling and William O’Callaghan. Their house, the central block of which was built about 1720, stands in a 500 acre wooded estate, and on a rise over the Blackwater Valley.
Lamb roasting, slowly
Sunday lunch here is a legendary leisurely affair, the rush of the 21st century left behind when you turn off the Mallow-Killarney Road. It is highlight after highlight in the relaxed dining rooms.

The first thing that catches your eye is the Appetiser Buffet. Could be a rush here! But, no. All is well organised. The staff organise the flow and there is never anything approaching a queue, just a line of five or six, moving smoothly along and getting any information they need from the helpful staff at the buffet.
One selection of starters
The buffet can change from time to time of course. Here is last Sunday's selection: House patés, House smoked fish, Longueville Pork Sausage in puff pastry, Egg mayonnaise, Potato salad with Garden herbs, Seasonal salads and pulses, Garden leaves, Garden fruit chutney, Homemade mayonnaise, Herb infused vinaigrette, various breads. Take your pick!

The main course is served at your table and the lamb was the number one pick, certainly at our table! Think I’ll just give you the choices as listed:
Leg of Longueville lamb cooked over an open oakwood fire, sausage of braised shoulder, garden thyme sauce.
Pan fried fillet of Cod, Longueville House cider, tomato and chervil velouté sauce.
Garden Pumpkin pithivier, baby garden vegetables, sorrel pesto.

 The lamb, accompanied by a selection of vegetables and potatoes from the garden, was superb, full of flavour from “lands as beautiful and fertile as any in Ireland”. Our gaze though turned from the distant valleys and hills, now lit by the sun after heavy rain of the morning, to a table to my right when dessert was announced, another buffet, another irresistible selection. And, after all that, tea or coffee at your table or in one of the nearby rooms. Just relax and linger awhile.

And, if you feel like it, take a walk, a short one or indeed a long one. I had come with a group from the Munster branch of the Irish Wine and Food Society and we had a walk that morning, guided through the orchards by William himself. The harvest was in full flow and would go on right up to Christmas. It is a late one this year, three weeks behind normal.

There are 25 acres of apples and the orchard is 20 years old. “We don't spray Roundup here,” William said. “We try to stay away from them. No pesticides.” One way they counter the aphids, a tiny bug that can do enormous damage, is to encourage the hoverfly by planting the likes of Fennel, Angelica and Yarrow. These attract the hoverfly, a natural enemy of the aphid.

 Sheep are normally kept in the orchards and they ensure a low level of grass. But they do have to be taken out immediately before and during the harvest. I began to wonder about the meat cooking below in the house!

Soon though we were back in the buildings and in the crush house where the process of making cider, and eventually apple brandy, starts. We met Dan the distiller and he handed out samples of raw brandy, starting from the still. That warmed us up!
 Then we had a “proper” tasting with William and Dan. We started with the now well established award winning Longueville House medium dry cider. More recently they have launched Longueville Cider Mor which has a more robust ABV of 8 per cent, “a bit like a Bordeaux superieur” someone observed! And then we sampled the apple brandy, a really serious drink and another award winner.

Back at the house itself, we were welcomed in from the rain with a glass (or two) of mulled cider, a superb drink, quite a few saying they'd prefer it to mulled wine and I concur. After that it was time for that leisurely and lovely lunch. A terrific venue and Very Highly Recommended.
William (right) speaking to some of his guests last Sunday.

  • Back in the mists of time, these lands were owned by Daniel O’Callaghan but after the collapse of the 1641 rebellion O’Callaghan’s lands went to Cromwell. Amazingly, the wheel came full circle in 1938 when the present owner’s grandfather Senator William O’Callaghan bought the property, restoring it to the same family clan of O’Callaghans. You may read all about the centuries in between in a leaflet they hand out at the house and, on the back, is a map of the many and varied walks on the estate! Info also on the website here I know I stressed the relaxing apsect of Longueville but there is much scope for activity here too, including shooting and fishing and more, and you may read all about it

Monday, October 26, 2015

Italian Night at Farmgate. Umbria & Valtellina Combine

Italian Night at Farmgate
Umbria & Valtellina Combine
Mirco and the wines of his home region

The Munster branch of the Irish Wine and Food Society were joined by quite a few others at last week’s Italian night in the Farmgate at the English Market. The menu was cooked in the style of Umbria (the green centre of Italy) by well known chef Adelaide Michelini, while the wines, chosen by the Farmgate's Mirco Fondrini from his home area of Valtellina (Lombardy), were making their debut in this part of the world.

Mirco was delighted to be able to bring his hometown gems to Cork. He had quite a display ready as the fifty plus guests arrived. Valtellina is in the foothills of the Alps that Italy shares with Switzerland. The valleys are deep and the sun reaches just one side, the side you'll see the houses and the vines on. Wine-making here is hard work but the Pietro Nera Vineyard in Chiuro thrives on it.

Our opening wines as we arrived included the Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio Bianco IGT. The 2014 “La Novella” was made from a blend of Nebbiolo (vinified to white), Rossola, Chardonnay and Incrocio Manzoni grapes. Quite a mix in the blend but this white, with its flavours of tropical fruits and balancing acidity, was a delight.

You won't see tractors in these vineyards!

Some of us picked the 2010 Valtellina Superiore DOCG “Sassella Alisio” as our opening drink. This bright ruby coloured red, a blend of Nebbiolo, Pignola and Rossola, all grown in the village of Sassella, was a hint of the serious wines to come, once we had finished our opening canapes. One was Chicken Liver pralines with hazelnuts and cocoa beans, the other a Savoury choux with mortadella and pistachio.

We continued with the reds as the meal was served, enjoying more of the Sassella before moving on to its older sister the 2008 Sassella Riserva, made from 100% Nebbiolo (called Chiavennasca in these parts!). The bouquet and hints of oak and the wine itself was strong, smooth and velvety.

Our final wine was also 100% Chiavennasca, but with a difference. This 2009 Valtellina was a ”passito” wine, made from partially dried grapes, not unlike the Veneto’s Amarone della Valpolicella. This was quite concentrated, 15% abv also, rich in flavour and aromas. It had been aged for 18 months in oak, rested in stainless steel and refined in bottle for at least eight months. Quite a selection overall by Mirco. Maybe someone will start importing from his region!


The position of Principal Chef Instructor for the Gambero Rosso's International Cooking Schools abroad - Bangkok, Miami, Seoul Hong Kong - has given Adelaide Michelini “the great privilege to bring the true Italian haute cuisine in the world”.

“In 2013 I was included within the Catering & Delivery section of the Gambero Rosso - Rome Guide. In 2014, I became a TV host, presenting my very own TV show called La buona cucina di Adelaide (Gambero Rosso Channel, 412 Sky Italia).”

Adelaide, now living in Cork, used local produce in her dishes at the Farmgate and the Antipasto was a Soft Truffle Egg with Potato Mousse. Then followed the Primo Piatto, a Toonsbridge Ricotta & Hazelnut Gnocchi in West Cork Swiss Chard Soup.

Soft Truffle Egg

And then we were on to the star dish, the Secondo Piatto: O'Mahony's Porchettina with fennel semifreddo and Autumn vegetables. The perfectly cooked round of pork, with embedded herbs, was a delight in itself but the combination with the icy fennel took it all to another level. Perfect!

The Dolce was described as Tiramisu...almost! Let’s says there was no shortage of cream, no shortage of coffee as the night with a difference came to a sweet end. Thanks to Mirco and Adelaide, and to Rebecca and the crew at the Farmgate.

The next IWFS event:
Sunday November 8th. Harvest Lunch in Longueville House. We will join William and Aisling O'Callaghan for a tour to see the orchards, presses and stills where they make their fantastic cider and brandy. After the tour and tasting, we will head to the house for a special harvest lunch. William and Aisling are great hosts, so this will be a really special day out. A bus will be laid on from Cork City so people can enjoy the cider and brandy. Buses leave Cork City Hall at 11am. Price for bus and tour, tasting and lunch €65 (€73 non-members).
A lot of people have already signed up. Indeed it is very close to the limit but if you'd like to attend, please send an email to

Porchettina (Google translates this as naughty girl!)