Showing posts with label Jack McCarthy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jack McCarthy. Show all posts

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Meet the Cronin Sisters, Champions of Local. The Square Table in Blarney


Meet the Cronin Sisters, the Champions of Local.
At The Square Table in Blarney.

The Cronin sisters at Blarney’s Square Table are pure Cork. When they have something to say, and they often do, it is straight up. Just like the produce they use. Honest to goodness top class stuff, raised and grown locally. They’re not shy about emphasising where their meat, their fish, their veg, comes from. They are rightly proud of it and have a long list at the back of the menu so that you can look for yourself.

So call out to Blarney, to the champions of local. Study that menu and order and then you’ll have all the proof you want on your plate. Because, the twins, Martina and Tricia, are also well capable of handling all that beautiful produce and of serving well cooked and well presented dishes that wouldn’t be out of place in a top restaurant. What am I saying? This is a top restaurant, right on the edge of the village green in Blarney.
Crispy Egg

And this dinner of champions won’t cost you the earth. Especially if you go for the Early Bird which is available on Wednesday and Thursday 6pm to 9pm, Friday and Saturday 6pm to 7pm. 2-courses €26.75, 3-courses €31.

I took my own advice last Thursday and called to the Square Table which is looking very well following its renovation and small expansion early in the year. We got a great welcome as always and were soon studying the menus plus the specials. The local Old Butter Road Food Trails Festival kicked off in earnest the previous weekend but, because of the reliance on local produce, the area around Blarney is always well represented on the Square Table menu.
Black pudding

Kanturk’s Jack McCarthy is a member of the Old Butter Roads and you’ll see his name on the menu. As it happened we gave the Early Bird a trial spin and CL’s starter was a delicious McCarthy’s Black Pudding and Puff Pastry Roll, with house piccalilli and apple purée. Perfect.

The Crispy Egg with Ballyhoura Mushrooms and Hollandaise is also a regular on the menu and I was very happy to renew acquaintance with it. The Early Bird was off to a flier and the standard stayed high right to the finalé.

My main course was O’Connell’s pan-fried hake, buttered leeks, celeriac purée, pickled Ballyhoura Mushrooms. It was exquisite, perfection on a plate, as we’ve come to expect here, their high standards never seem to drop, amazing consistency meal after meal.
West Cork Chicken

I just kept saying perfection to myself and CL was also humming across the table as she enjoyed her West Cork Chicken, Cauliflower purée, Wild Garlic, Coolea cheese. And another thing I keep saying is to keep an eye on the small things in a restaurant as they can tell you a lot. Take the sides here, for instance: mashed potato, carrot and kale, sweet potato and turnip purée. They too were top notch, you could have had a lovely dish with just those on their own!

Time then for dessert; again we decided to share. The Crumble of the Evening (caramelised apple and rhubarb) with Featherbed Farmhouse Vanilla ice-cream was our pick. The crumble topping was light and lightly applied while everything underneath was full of soft and softer textures and delicious flavours with a touch of sweetness. Another Square Table meal made with skill and delivered with a smile. Why wouldn’t we come again!  

Read all the detailed Square Table menus here

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.


Sunday, July 8, 2018

At The Square Table, Sisters From The West Make The Best of Local


At The Square Table, Sisters From The West Make The Best of Local


We are in a small restaurant in Blarney. Behind me, the front of house person is explaining the dishes to a table of visitors. The info is precise, full of detail and confidently given with clarity, enthusiasm and no little humour.

This is Tricia Cronin in action. Tricia and her twin sister Chef Martina  (left) are the team, a formidable straight-talking duo, at The Square Table - the 35 seater sits on the village’s ancient square - and they serve up lots of good things here. And another good thing - they don’t do bullshit! What you see is what you get.


egg, mushroom

After a formative spell in Cork with Dubliner Ciaran Scully, teacher and chef, Martina headed for the capital where her culinary education continued under top chefs Ross Lewis and Graham Neville. One of the things she learned along the way and which she and Tricia implement at the Square Table is to use local as much a possible. “This way we meet and got to know the local producers.”

At the launch of a local festival earlier this year I heard Tricia declare: “I enjoy engaging with the customers on local produce and local producers. But you do need to know your stuff. There’s a lot of homework to be done, especially with new dishes.” Here’s a woman, a pair of them, who talk the talk and walk the walk.

black pudding, apple purée


We’ve walked in to try the Early Bird, available from 6-9pm Wednesday & Thursday; 6-7pm on Friday & Saturday: 2-courses €25.50, 3-courses €29.50. By the way, this is no skinny early bird - you’ll get good quality and quantity here! The Cronin sisters grew up in the country and food was a key part of the hard-working daily life.

So let us take a look at the menu for this particular Wednesday evening. We are in the middle of a heatwave, so the soup is relegated to the also rans! Record temperatures or no, I rarely turn down the chance to eat Ballyhoura mushrooms so I go for the Crispy Egg and Ballyhoura Mushrooms with Hollandaise. Yumami!

Cleaned the plate as did OBC (the official blog chef) whose pick was the Jack McCarthy’s Black Pudding and Puff Pastry Roll, house piccalilli, and apple purée. An excellent combination and a generous helping of the purée to help it on its delicious way. 
Hake

And that generosity is also exemplified when we are served three gorgeous side dishes with our mains: carrot and kale, a potato mash, and a delightful turnip and mustard dish (that drew compliments galore from the tourist table behind).

I had noticed my mains on their Twitter feed: West Cork roast chicken, buttered leeks, cauliflower purée and Coolea Cheese (from the sisters’ home area). Cooked to perfection, served at the perfect temperature and well presented, a delight to dispatch. The best of Irish given an accomplished touch of the continental.

Chicken

And OBC, a bit of a Hake connoisseur, was also well satisfied with O’Connell’s Pan-fried hake, pea purée, McCarthy’s crispy bacon and organic sugar snaps. Great colour, great flavours and texture. And then those sides!

They offered us a choice of three tempting desserts but we were rather full.

And where do the Cronins get their good things? Well if you go there, and you should, just ask and Tricia will tell you. You can also look it up on the back page of the menu, a long back page but here’s a sample of suppliers: Hegarty’s of Whitechurch for cheese (six other suppliers), Tom O’Brien also Whitechurch for eggs, Kilbrack and Anna Belle farms for vegetables and salads, meat from Michael Twomey (their mother’s butcher) and more, smoked salmon from Old Mill Bank and crab from Liscannor, and further afield there’s yogurts from Velvet Cloud and ice-cream from Featherbed Farm. A tasty journey through the best of Ireland’s producers.

5, The Square,
Blarney,
Co. Cork
021 4382825




Sunday, May 13, 2018

12 Tables & Tandem Winery. In vino veritas.


12 Tables & Tandem Winery
In vino veritas.

José María Fraile



In vino veritas. And truth to tell, there was good wine, good food and good company as some fifty diners enjoyed the Tandem Winery Tasting Dinner at the 12 Tables in Douglas last Wednesday. 
The welcome drink



The truth of another Latin saying, Dove regna il vino non regna il silenzio (Where wine reigns, silence does not) was also well illustrated on the night. 

But, what’s with all the Latin boy?

It is a theme at the Navarra based winery. Tandem itself is Latin for “finally” and nothing to do with bikes while the names of the individual wines are in Latin (or derived from it): Casual, Inmacula, Ars In Vitro, Ars Nova, Macula, Ars Memoria, and Inmune.




Tandem is of much more recent vintage than the ancient Latin tongue, founded in 2003 by by Alicia Eyaralar, José María Fraile and a small group of wine-loving relatives and friends. José was in the 12 Tables having left Pamplona at 5.00am that morning on a route that brought him to Cork via Madrid and London.

He was introduced by Nicolas Sicot of O’Brien’s Wines who import the Tandem wines. “I love organising these events, love to share the wines. It's great to meet the people behind the label and delighted to have José here. Dave Farrell has worked wonders and has come up with a great menu to go with the wines.”

José admitted to being delighted with the full house. “It is incredible. I hope you enjoy the dinner and the Navarra wine. I feel very humbled and proud; it would be hard to match this crowd in Spain!”
Duck

The vineyard is quite close to Pamplona and on the northern edge of the Navarra wine region. “We like freshness and elegance and luckily we’re in the coolest part of the appellation. It is super green where we are, a big contrast with the desert in the south. The Atlantic influence, the cool summer nights and picking late in the season is good for the grapes and we get that natural acidity.” We would soon see how that acidity helped with the food pairings.

Their rosé, or at least the very first version of it, was more or less an accident and hence the name Casual. A very enjoyable accident though, as we appreciated on arrival.

The kitchen, with chef-patron Dave Farrell at the head, produced an excellent starter: Serrano wrapped Monkfish, spiced crevettes, roast pepper purée, pistachios pickled samphire and Parmesan cream. And the wine was the Immacula (meaning without blemish), a blend of mostly Viognier and 15% Viura. It is fermented in French oak (not new) and kept on its fine lees for three months to gain texture and volume. “It is very successful for us and highly rated and there is nothing of it left at the winery.” We were on a winner.

Immune was the next wine, a 100% Garnacha paired with Gubbeen Chorizo, Ardsallagh Feta, Olive Tapenade, Romesco, Physalis and Avocado Oil. “Immune, to failure, to critics!”, joked José. “This is a powerful expression of the Garnacha (the vines are 70 years old and more); great depth and structure, a stunning wine that fills the palate.” He, and we, were enjoying the meal: “Amazing dishes.”

Up next was Jack McCarthy’s black pudding rosti, caramelised Radicchio, golden beets, wild mushroom, Crozier blue cheese and aged balsamic. Quite a lot going on in that plate and José had a favourite wine to match, the Ars in Vitro (art in glass), an unfiltered, unoaked wine with fruit and fragrance and a silky palate, raised for a minimum of two years. “How wine for me should taste,” remarked Jose. 

This 2014 has been raised in concrete. “Nowadays, concrete is accepted, the epoxy lining has made the difference, more complexity, more tannins, more colour, finesse and elegance.” It is a blend of Tempranillo and Merlot.




The wines and the food reached a high point with the main course. Jose introduced his Ars Nova, a 2014 blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, fresh, fruity and long. Ageing is a minimum 24 months in concrete vats plus 9 months in 300-litre French oak barrels. “More complex, more spice and great with lamb.”

Great too with duck as it turned out as the kitchen pulled out all the stops with Tea Brined Skeaghanore Duck breast, Almond and Apricot roulade, potato confit, charred onion, baby carrots and roast shallot purée. Quite a climax.

We eased out with a Trio of Artisanal Cheese with Fig Jam. The cheeses were Roquefort, Milleens and Tipperary Cheddar and the wine was Mácula, described as “a masculine wine of good length” and a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from 2011. Tandem are slow to let their wines off to market. This, for instance, spends a minimum 24 months in concrete and 26 months in 300-litre French oak barrels.

José was delighted with the reception for his wines. “It has been an incredible dinner, fantastic being here. I'm so happy.” Nicolas thanked the kitchen and front of house at 12 Tables saying “We’ll do it again!”, a sentiment that went down well. In vino veritas.

You may view a video of José talking about Tandem and its wines here
Check the Tandem wines in stock at O’Brien’s website or just call in to Nico at their Douglas branch!
All the news, including menus, from 12 Tables in Douglas is here; also on their Facebook page.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

A Bit of Banter. At Old Butter Roads Launch in Blarney


A Bit of Banter
At Old Butter Roads Launch in Blarney
Joe McNamee with, from left, Martina and Tricia Cronin and Lenka Forrest

“Sometimes you need to be broken to get stronger”, said Martina Cronin, Chef at the Square Table where her twin sister Tricia is front of house and manager, at the launch of the 2018 Old Butter Roads Food Trail in The Church Of The Resurrection Blarney on Saturday.

Martina was responding to journalist Joe McNamee whose gentle prompting drew some terrific answers from the chefs and producers on stage. Martina paid tribute to her mother: “The house was very food oriented.” But she was in transition year before she made her mind up to be a chef.

Ciaran Scully, teacher and chef, “had me ready for Dublin” where her education continued under top chefs Ross Lewis and Graham Neville. One of the things she learned along the way and which she and Tricia implemented at the Square Table was to use local as much a possible. “This way we met and got to know the local producers and that in some ways led to this festival.”
Hegarty's cheese

Joe asked Tricia how customers reacted to local produce. Her years in Jacques gave her a good grounding and introduced her to local produce. “I enjoy engaging with the customers on local produce and local producers. But you do need to know your stuff. There’s a lot of homework to be done, especially with new dishes. I find too that now locals and international customers are talking about the Old Butter Roads.”


Lenka Forrest who runs the Old Blarney Post Office Café in the village started here about two years ago and immediately “clicked” with the Cronin twins and Maire, the chair of the Old Butter Roads. “It is important to promote the great food that's within this area to locals and tourists. I was happy to get the call to join the OBR. And happy too to see how Irish food has changed over the past twenty years.”
Victor of Bluebell Falls

Pat Mulcahy
Lenka, originally from Czechoslovakia (“the Czech side!”), didn’t really have a food background. But spotted the closed-up Post Office and rented it. “I didn’t know anything about the business, about the margins. It is a tiny place - you can see us make everything. We use the right ingredients and give good customer service. I like sharing food and love to see people enjoying our food.”

Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Enjelvin is helping Dan Hegarty of Whitechurch make his great cheese for the past two years or so. He admitted he had no idea about Irish cheese but soon discovered “other amazing cheese makers, Gubbeen, Milleens, Coolea”. Hegarty’s are long renowned for their cheddar but Jean-Baptiste told us that the range is expanding, a Comte/Gruyere style, and had some delicious samples to share.


Zwena McCullough of the nearby Hydro Farm Allotments said she is passionate about growing. “We share everything in the allotments, including the fruit cage. It is organic, no chemicals, we have a great community from tiny tots to the quite elderly. A great variety of nationalities including a Moroccan lady who makes a great tagine! We help educate by running courses and so on.”


Victor from Bluebell Falls was also on the platform - they weren't all up together! And he told Joe his story. We visited his farm recently and you can see all the details here
Hydro Farm Allotments 


Pat Mulcahy from Ballinwillin Farm told us his business includes deer, wild boar, and goats, B&B, lunch, evening meals. He has about 40 meat products, all through organic farming. He found lots of obstacles at the start: “You need to be determined, lots of walls to jump.” Now he works with many chefs to get his food message across.


And while he meets some of the biggest names in the industry it is often at home that he feels the big pride. “The chest expands,” he admitted, “when I’m sitting around the breakfast table with guests from many countries enjoying the farm food as was the case this morning.” You’ll probably be hearing more from Ballinwillin about wellness and the link with food as they are seriously looking at the influence of quality and authenticity on good health.


All together now!

Pat also imports his own wine from Hungary. “Some of the best winemakers in the world are in Hungary but they don’t sell. We were lucky to get into partnership in a cellar and now bottle and import our own range of wine. Growing grapes is like farming - that's what attracted me."

The Aubane community seem to be ahead of the posse on the Old Butter Roads as they celebrated the 250th anniversary 20 years back and Celeste Buckley told us on Saturday about another celebration on May 18th next, the 270th, with a five course meal at the local community centre to be followed by music and dancing. “We have a very exciting menu for the event and are really looking forward to the night.” Details on here
Jean-Baptiste

Kanturk too will be involved and we heard from Timmy McCarthy, the 5th generation butcher from the town. “We can't move forward without taking inspiration from the past. We have a rich array of producers and it all needed direction. This is a platform to promote the area!”


Joe McNamee then officially declared the event open. “This is a tremendous initiative. Food and tourism are intertwined and contributed to the country's recovery. The quality of the food and the movement of small premium producers led to this. But don’t reserve your support for special occasions. Support these producers in your weekly shopping.”

Chairperson Maire Ní Mhurchu, a founder member, then invited us to sample the trays of tasty bites laid out for us and so we did. “We all have a passion about food,” she said earlier. “We are a  cooperative group and intend to show the area at its best. Our new website has been launched. As you know our logo is the Milk Churn.”

Joe McNamee launches the 2018 event.


“This is a great unspoiled area, yet very close to the city. There is a great heritage here and that shouldn't be forgotten either and the Aubane celebration is part of it as it the cart outside built by the local mens shed.”

Soon the celebrations began. Indeed, I suspect they had already begun in nearby Blairs Inn. Next stop after the church opening was Lenka’s cafe where Pat Mulcahy was roasting one of his wild boars. Lots of events coming up over the month so do stay in touch with the website and also their Face book page

Also of interest:


Monday, April 9, 2018

Dining and Staying in Killarney’s Brehon Hotel

Jack McCarthy's Blackpudding Bon Bons

Dine and Stay in Killarney’s Brehon Hotel
Spiced salmon
The Brehon Hotel on the Muckross Road was our base for a recent two night stay in Killarney. Dinner at Danú, the hotel’s restaurant, was included and it was a good one. It was a set menu, part of the package, so not A La Carte. Still, we had three or four choices in each section.
A familiar name, ex Taoiseach Bertie Aherne, was at an nearby table and another familiar name, Jack McCarthy, popped up in the starters. His Black Pudding Bon Bons came with a mango sauce, nasturtium salad and red onion. CL enjoyed that well cooked, well presented dish. I got off to a flier too with my Spiced Salmon, Yuzu yogurt, pear, lime and cucumber.
Hake


It is a very comfortable split-level room, divided in various sections, and service was pretty good all through. No delay at all and soon we were on to the mains. My pick was the Mushroom Ravioli with a wild mushroom sauce. Not bad at all and we both enjoyed a nice side of vegetables. CL probably had the better of the mains with her Pan-fried Hake with pickled carrot, sage and lemon crumble.
Mushroom Ravioli



Desserts were part of the deal and we enjoyed their Cranberry Crème Brulée (with vanilla ice-cream and biscotti) and Roasted plum (with vanilla ice-cream, pepper and almond salsa).


Dropped into the bar, more a food than a drink venue, after that and saw for ourselves the very limited choice (Guinness associated) of beers on draught. Still, the Killarney blonde proved good company. On the second evening, I spotted an old friend, Bertha’s Revenge gin, and passed a late hour sipping that delicious drop (€17.20 for 2 gins and one TH tonic).


Crème Brulée 
While the hotel looked a bit gothic on the outside in the dull wet weather, like us all it will brighten up as the Spring comes in bringing green life to the creepers that will partially cover the exterior. The interior, with its soaring foyer, is eye-catching. Rooms are comfortable and have all the facilities you’ll need. Service is excellent and you’ll get lots of smiles and hellos in the corridors and public spaces as you come and go.
Plum


They also serve their breakfast in the Danú. The buffet is the main feature with hot and cold sections and plenty of choice. One thing about the buffet is that you can pick and choose and limit the size of your Full Irish! Extend it too of course if you are so inclined at that hour of the morning! 


We picked from the buffet (as most people seem to do) on the first morning and chose from the Kitchen List on the second. The list includes familiar breakfast items such as porridge and Eggs Benedict, less familiar like minute steak, but my choice was the plaice, the very tasty fish of the day, and I was off to a good start!

See also
Quinlan's Seafood Bar Killarney
Celtic Whiskey Bar and Larder
Visiting Killarney's Big Houses
The Yew Tree at The Muckross Park Hotel
36 Hours in Killarney, inc Killarney Brewing

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Greene’s Team Bowl Them Over At The Mardyke. Classy Brunch (plus Gin Bonus) in Cricket Club

Greene’s Team Bowls Them Over
Classy Brunch (plus Gin Bonus) in Mardyke Cricket Club
Crab and haddock
The punters were on a winner here, even if the “game” was a friendly. Very friendly and informal as Greene’s sommelier Frank Schiltkamp pointed out in his few words at the start, saying we weren’t going to get quite the same treatment as we would at his MacCurtain Street base, a point quickly underlined when the opening offerings for this five course tasting brunch came in cardboard containers. 

Cardboard or not, it’s hard to beat class and Chef Bryan McCarthy and his team have that in abundance and they again played a blinder at the opening brunch of the Spirit of the City Festival in the Cork Cricket Club at the Mardyke.
Scrambled eggs and smoked salmon

Before, and during, the meal, there was gin, Beara Ocean Gin from West Cork to be exact. They include botanicals, Salt Water and Sugar Kelp, from the Atlantic among their botanicals for their standard gin. And add Rosewater and Cranberry for their Pink Ocean Gin. The Pink was a special for Valentine’s Day but proved so popular, it is still with us.
Pink Ocean Gin Cocktail
 We started with a cocktail: the Pink Ocean, Prosecco and Fever-Tree’s Aromatic Tonic. Very nice indeed, especially with the sun shining on the cricket grounds outside. Later, I tried the standard Ocean Gin with the regular tonic. Will have to sample them again though without all the ice, the lemon and the lime, even juniper berries. I prefer to get down to basics see what my drink really tastes like!

Smoked spuds and black pudding
 Speaking of basics, my favourite dish had three basic ingredients: smoked potato, Jack McCarthy’s Black pudding and pancetta, plus a delicious Truffle Mayo. It was the three basic items that stole the show, fantastic flavours and textures that combined to keep the palate very happy.


With the place full and after a few words from the busy chef, we had started well with Crab and Smoked Haddock, Cucumber Pickle, Chilli, Lime and Coriander, all on brown bread (and in a cardboard container!). Super ingredients and a superb combination. 

Course number two was also small(ish) but again perfectly formed: Scrambled Eggs and O’Connell’s Smoked Salmon, Grain mustard and Honey Spelt Toast. Very tasty again, right down to the toast.
Bao Eggs Benedict
 Couldn't quite say the same about the Bao in the Eggs Bao Benedict that followed the smoked spuds. The eggs were accompanied by a dry cured bacon, wild Garlic leaves and Hollandaise. The Bao, by comparison with the earlier breads, was rather anonymous at the bottom, handy for soakage though. The eggs and the bacon on the other hand were top drawer, well equipped with both flavour and texture to take on the world on their own.


What would the team in the kitchen come up with for the final over? They bowled us over with a colourful and sweet dessert: natural yogurt, rhubarb compote, and granola. 
Dessert

So well fed and nicely ginned, we got the jackets on and headed out to see what the rest of the festival was offering. Not a great deal at that early stage (about 2.15pm). Thought we might knock across a few gin producers in the big tent. But no sign of any and with the prices set at cricket score proportions, we decided to up sticks and exit gracefully.


Up the Dyke on Saturday: Bridge over the Lee with St Vincent's Church (Sunday's Well)