Showing posts with label Isaacs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Isaacs. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Carlos (right) and yours truly at Isaacs

Carlos Gatica, Chief Winemaker with Santa Rita, the second biggest wine producer in Chile, was in Cork yesterday and brought a strong line-up to the Gilbeys Wine Tasting Lunch at Isaacs.

Many of you will be familiar with the Chilean winery’s 120 series and Carlos referred to the story (with a strong Irish connection) behind the 120 and you may read more on that here.

Santa Rita’s current mission though is to “educate” their Irish sellers, including hotels and restaurants who were well represented here, in an effort to broaden the appreciation of the better Santa Rita wines and particularly their reservas.

The introductory handshake was a very pleasant concentrated white: the Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2010. This was accompanied by a selection of tempting tapas.

Could have happily stayed with those tasty bites but move on we did and Carlos then presented their 2009 Gran Reserva Medalla Real Chardonnay,

This has quite an intense bouquet and is a well balanced wine with silky texture and went down well with a warm salad of Marinated Chicken, smoked bacon and rustic potatoes.

Now it was on to the steak and the first of the reds. This was the superb Pehmén Carménère 2007 made with grapes from an old vineyard in the Apalta Valley. Aging is in 100% French oak barrels for 18 months. Really liked this flavoursome persistent wine.

The cheese made its appearance as it was time for the piece de résistance: a vertical tasting of the classic Casa Real. This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon “seeks to obtain the maximum expression of the Alto Jaheul terroir”. New French oak barrels are used.

Many of you will know that vertical tasting means tasting the same wine from different years. The vintages at Isaacs were 2007, 2002 and 1999. The still young 2007, marginally higher in ABV @ 14.5%, was of excellent quality, the fruit concentrated after a good year, but was overshadowed by the other two.

The very elegant and concentrated 2002 (14.4%) was perhaps my favourite. Well balanced with ripe flavours and tannins, it has a full body and “a sleek finish”.

No vote was taken but the number one choice was the 1999 (4.3%), an “opulent” wine from an “opulent” year. The winemaker’s comments covered it all: "As a terroir concept, the 1999 vintage has been undoubtedly considered as the maximum expression of a 100% Cabernet Sauvignon to date.”
Maipo Valley

Interesting to note that Santa Rita has a presence in six wine areas of the country, allowing it to grow many different kinds of grape and expand its portfolio. Some of their areas are north of Santiago de Chile, some to the south (Carlos lives in Curicó), some are close to the coast, others in the foothills of the Andes. The valleys are Limari, Casablanca, Leyda, Rapel, Maipo and Apalto.

Credit to Gilbeys for putting on this excellent event “the first of many around the country”. Well done also to Carlos for his descriptions and humour and for bringing such a stunning selection to Isaacs.

Monday, August 1, 2011


See some more photos, these by Billy

Captains Sylvia and Sandra

Scores of pirates gathered in Cork City on Saturday. But their intentions were benign. Make the most of the inaugural Cork Gourmet Trail  was the mission and it was accomplished with much fun, thanks to our merry captains.

First call was to Soho in mid-morning where a Pannier Champagne reception was laid on. There was a pirate hat competition running and early favourites emerged at the photo call. Champers downed, the gathering was divided into three crews and marched out on to the streets.

Led by feisty captains Sylvia and Sandra, our crew wandered peacefully through the side streets until we reached Greens by the Waterfall where the host restaurant was joined by Isaacs and the Rising Tide in dishing up the grub. The grog, as was the case in all four venues, was sponsored by Classic Drinks.

On then to the Boardwalk – nobody had to walk the plank – and the impressive line-up to feed the villains here was Club Brasserie, El Vino, Augustine’s and The Boardwalk Bar and Grill
Sing for your supper

Next host was Electric, again through the side streets including a stop in Oliver Plunkett Street and a song which earned the singing pirate a meal out for two!

More music at Electric where Pa Fitz entertained and where the high standard of food was maintained by Jacobs, the Ambassador, Soho and Electric itself. Still one more food stop to go and that was at the Cornstore where the providers were Amicus, Fenns Quay and Cornstore.

About five o’clock, the different crews re-united upstairs at the nearby Bodega to compare notes and the bounty – some restaurants, including Jacobs and Electric, gave out meal or wine vouchers – and listen to the band. The quiz and costumes winners were announced and the Bodega management offered everyone a free drink.
Pat Fitz at Electric

It was a very enjoyable day and very encouraging for the organisers. Looks like one that will be repeated. Personally, I enjoyed every moment, from that first starter of Jack McCarthy Black Pudding with Apple Sauce by Isaacs to the final Chocolate Mousse in a mini-cornet by Fenns Quay.

Tried hard to sample everything; don't think it was possible. My favourite of those that I did try out was the Chicken Balti with the French Morteau sausage by Augustine’s. Isaac’s breaded lamb chop and Electric’s cold sea bass dish were other favourites.

Classic Wines
But I was just one of many and others spoke to me of enjoying their particular favourites and I heard that the Tapas type offerings of some restaurants went down very well, the Boardwalk’s steaks were popular was were the Chinese offerings of the Ambassador.

Something for everyone then and nice to see some chefs trying something different such as the “Gravalaix of Tuna in a Nori seaweed” by the Rising Tide and the different take on the Seafood Chowder by Greene’s who also had a terrific Beetroot Soup on their table.

Just a word of praise to Classic Drinks who not alone kept the thirsty crews well lubricated but also took the trouble to post up plenty of information about the wines and varied the offerings from restaurant to restaurant, usually matching a red with a white from the same area. In Electric for example, they had a Muriel Blanco 2009 along with a Muriel CVC Rioja 2006.

So a big thanks to Classic, to Pannier, to all the restaurants and especially to the organisers! Just picked up a message in a bottle down the quays and it reads: Let’s do it all again next year!

Monday, July 4, 2011



Told you before. I’m a specials kind of guy. And that policy worked a treat for me when I dined in McCurtain Street’s Isaacs this weekend.

Had a quick look at the regular menu before getting down to serious consideration of the Specials. Four starters were listed and I choose the Pan Fried new season lambs liver and kidney salad with rustic potatoes and crisp bacon. Delighted with it: very tasty and surprisingly substantial.

Also very happy with the main course of Pan Fried John Dory fillets. Really well done as were the accompanying vegetables. Again, a substantial and tasty dish. The Sherry Trifle was also fine, scattered with broken bits of honeycomb and on a base of soaked cherries. Cherry Trifle maybe?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Firm favourites


It has been a month of favourites, regular visits to Isaacs and even more so to Jacques . Both stood up well to the stress testing. Enjoyable fish dishes in each spot, Haddock one evening in Isaacs, Hake at Jacques.

Jacques is pretty expensive but value is good though I find paying €3.50 for a cup of coffee (a good cup I must admit) annoying and won't be doing it again.

There is value to be had in Jacques on the €25.00 menu which is available most weekdays and up to 7.00pm on weekends. The number of choices is limited but what you do get is top class food and the menu changes regularly.

The recession is biting and there are an increasing number of early birds available around town – make sure you check the local press before you go out.

During the Celtic Tiger we probably got used to speedy and efficient service in the restaurants – sometimes you were glad to get in, they were so busy. But the old personal warm friendly touch was lacking in most places. Nobody was discourteous. But, once the formalities were concluded, there was nothing extra, proprietors and staff didn’t even use the Irish fallback of the weather in conversation.

Now that things are slowing down, it might be no harm to cultivate that kind of rapport again. A warm greeting doesn't do any harm. I know myself that certain shops in town are a joy to visit. Ronnie Moore’s and O’Leary’s Camera World are good examples. I started going there years ago, felt welcome and still go there. Restaurants please copy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

My Favourites in Cork



Favourite high end restaurant: Jacques

Favourite Bistro: Isaacs

Favourite medium priced restaurant: Market Lane

Favourite Italian: Casanova

Favourite Chinese: Ying’s Palace

Favourite Hotel restaurant: Pembroke Grill in the Imperial.

Favourite pizzeria: The Brick Oven in Bantry.

Favourite Dessert: While the desserts in Jacques are excellent, my vote goes to Jacobs on the Mall for its Date and Butterscotch Pudding.

Hard to go wrong here as you will get a decent lunch in most places in town, especially Market Lane. The outskirts are also well served: try Killumney Inn on the west, The Boot House on the north and the Elm Tree on the east. You will get a good roast of the day in any these.

For something different why not try Boqueria, the Tapas Bar in Bridge Street. On a recent visit I enjoyed a bowl of paella (loads of chicken and shellfish and served with a tarty side salad, for a €10.00). Just to add a note of caution, a glass of wine here (starting at €7.00 and mostly from Catalonia) is a full 25cl, a third of a bottle, and substantially more than your usual glass.

Friday, November 28, 2008



Rachel Allen recently proclaimed on TV that Isaacs (McCurtain Street) is her favourite bistro. She has many who’ll agree with her, even if the place was less than half full last night.

We had a smashing meal there. I must admit I was particularly pleased with the “Wine of the Month”, so pleased in fact that I didn't even notice that they charged me €25.00 instead of the €24.00 on the menu. It is a Lugana (from an area close to Lake Garda - see ) and is produced by Zenato. One of the best whites I’ve tasted in a long time.

Started off with a lovely plate of tapas between us. Great variety for €10.90. Then on to the main course. I had one of the day’s specials, Turbot on spinach with a Beurre Blanc sauce. Very good. The Advisor went for the Moroccan Tagine, shank of lamb with couscous. Again top class and quite reasonable at €18.80.

Dessert (€7.00) was also quite good and a little different: a Tunisian Orange Cake, served with a berry compote and crème fraîche. The orange taste was not dominant but it had a lovely light citrus flavour. Light and tasty.