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Friday, October 20, 2017
Great to see the Powers John’s Lane, one of my favourite whiskeys coming out on top at the Irish Whiskey Awards last night. Thanks to the Celtic Whiskey Shop, you can see all the winners below....
Thursday, September 7, 2017
The Perfect Serve.
Ferrit & Lee on Distillery Walk.
It is a bright and lively room. No gourmet gravitas here. But Ferrit and Lee know their food and produced evidence aplenty at Wednesday night’s A Taste of East Cork 2017, one of the events of the current FEAST Festival in the area.
The FEAST emphasis is very much on local. Ardsallagh, Jameson, Ballycotton, Leamlara, Jim Crowley, Hegarty’s Cheese, Rostellan Chocolate, are all name-checked on the menu (below). I’ve often maintained that the small things on the menu, in the meal, can shine a light. And so it was here.
Take the crumble, for instance, the foraged berries in particular. What a splendid burst of juice and flavour! It immediately reminded me of picking a few blackberries at the edge of a warm Rougrane cornfield. Local and brilliant. Not flown in from Guatemala or Mexico.
Staying in the hedgerow. How about that elderberry jus with Jim Crowley’s feather-blade? Absolutely outstanding. And the humble mackerel was the highlight of one of the early dishes. Maybe not so humble anymore. They told me here they are scarce this year confirming what Bayview chef Ciaran Scully mentioned a couple of weeks back.
But back to the meal itself in a full and buzzing restaurant, previously known and loved as Raymond’s and now taken over by former employees Pat Ferrit and Stephen Lee. They have a welcoming crew out-front also, mixing East Cork smiles and chat with a calm efficiency throughout a busy evening.
The whiskey, ginger and lime cured salmon, with local crab and pickled fennel, was the perfect Jameson serve. The Ardsallagh cheese, an East Cork food icon at this stage, was perfect too with the honey and lime while the beetroot relish added a wee bit of piquancy.
And then came that marvellous mackerel with a delicious roast beetroot (another humble ingredient that has been “rediscovered” in recent years); great too to see the Leamlara micro greens making yet another appearance on local menus.
Oh, forgot to mention, there were two glasses of wine including in the meal, both from Liberty Wines and both made by New Zealander Graeme Paul in the Languedoc in the south of France. We started with his white, the Baron de Badassiere Sauvignon Blanc 2015. This was superb and Paul is in danger of putting some of his fellow Kiwis out of business with this quality. And that standard was maintained with the red, a fruity and spicy Baron de Badassiere Syrah 2016.
The feather-blade is by now quite popular in the Cork area and Ferrit and Lee’s version is in the very top rank, so tender and tasty. That shallot added a sweetness to the dish and the jus crowned it. That little croquet by the way, with Hegarty’s famous cheddar, also played a delicious supporting role.
|Salmon and crab|
And then not one but three desserts. The crumble, with those berries and the judicious use of ginger-nut, was more or less perfect and the Jameson panna cotta was pleasurably dispatched. I kept the chocolate dark and handsome, ’til last, leaving me looking forward to more good things to come from the Rostellan producer.
By the way, if you are free this Friday evening, a FEAST event is taken place in the courtyard of the chocolate shop in Rostellan. Lobster and prosecco, and chocolate of course, are on the menu. Ferrit & Lee will be one of eleven local restaurants in the big tent as the festival reaches a climax in the streets of Midleton tomorrow (Saturday). All the details here.
A Taste of East Cork 2017
Jameson, Ginger and Line Cured salmon, Ballycotton Crab cake and pickled fennel.
Honey and Lemon Ardsallagh Goat’s Cheese Bon Bons, Beetroot relish and bacon.
Pan-fried Ballycotton mackerel, roast beetroot and Leamlara Micro Greens.
James marinated Jim Crowley’s feather-blade of Beef, caramelised shallot, carrots, Hegarty’s Smoked Cheddar croquette and elderberry jus.
Sunday, August 27, 2017
Great Irish Beer Hall
Beer, Cider, Food, Music
Headed to the City Hall at the weekend for the Great Irish beer Festival. Some twenty brewers were listed so that meant a huge choice. While each exhibitor displayed their menu, there was no overall list, such as you’d find at a wine-tasting.
|Michael Cowan of award winning Mont|
More difficult then to find a particular pathway through that amount of beer. Who had the sours? Who had the stouts? Did they bring them? Were all the recent award winners here?
It would have been made a little easier also if there was a measure smaller than the half-pint (€2.75). On the other hand, if you knew exactly what you wanted, all you needed to do was fill your glass (€5.50) to the pint mark!
I had targeted Sullivan’s from Kilkenny for my first call. That worked out well and there’ll be a separate post tomorrow on their lovely award winning red ale.
Indeed, there were award winners all over the hall, including local brewery Rising Sons who are having a great month: “August 2017 has been an incredible month for us, winning 5 Gold Medals at The World Beer Awards 2017.”
Not too far away in this bright room, with the tables and seats, was the Mont stall and they too were celebrating a World Beer Award as their lager was named the Country Winner (Ireland) for “Czech Style Pilsner Lager”.
Michael Cowan of Manor Brewing (Wicklow) is the public face of Mont, Ireland’s “super-premium Pilsner lager”. They use pure Wicklow Mountain spring water, the finest barley malts, Hallertau, Saaz and Cascade hops.
Michael said they are a dedicated lager brewery. “With the very soft Wicklow water we have, our super-premium lager is better than the main stream piss and we are trying to improve lager’s image with a big concentration on packaging.”
Their Bohemian style Pilsner has “an Irish accent” and an ABV of 5.1%. You can quickly taste why it is picking up awards. There is quite a backbone to it, full of flavour and hop character and a superb dry finish, great balance all through. “Moreish” as they say themselves.
Just to compare, I took a token over to Eight Degrees - they were in the darkened room - and got a glass of their Barefoot Bohemian, “an unorthodox lager with complex biscuity malt, soft rounded bitterness and a twist of spice from the noble Saaz and Hallertau hops.”
This crisp and lovely Pilsner doesn't quite have the heft of the Mont but, at 4% ABV, is perfect for a session. And it has retained its popularity since the summer of 2012 when the Mitchelstown brewery introduced it as a seasonal beer.
The Cotton Ball’s Indian Summer is another beer that has surprised its creators. This hybrid, “capturing the best of ale and lager” was supposed to be a seasonal but goes on and on.
After that we welcomed the Shoot the Breeze, a 4.5% ABV California Common, just introduced by the Franciscan Well. “This light hazy amber beer has a distinct fruit background as a result of our own unique twist!” I'm a big fan of the Well's core beers and the Chieftain, Friar Weisse and Rebel Red completed their line-up on the night.
Time now for stout, after all we are in Cork. And the Cotton Ball make a terrific stout, Lynch’s, in the traditional creamy style. But there’s no shortage of substance, coffee and caramel and a dry finalé, behind the silky smoothness. A pleasure indeed to sink one of these.
Two heads are better than one, according to Jameson, talking about their Caskmates, which has emerged from a collaboration between themselves and the Franciscan Well Brewery.
First, the Well used whiskey casks to brew two beers, Jameson Aged Stout launched in 2013 and Jameson Pale Ale launched in 2014. The stout-seasoned casks were then returned to Midleton and this whiskey is the result. It has worked well and Jameson are now engaged in similar ventures with some US breweries.
No alteration to the usual Jameson smoothness in Caskmates. Maybe there is a hint of hops there but, back in the dark room, I wasn't paying full attention as I sipped and chatted as the music played. It is a modern easy drinking fruity whisky with a long sweet finish. Quite a lovely finalé to my excellent evening in the City Hall. For the music fans, the night was only beginning,
* My favourite beers, from the fraction that I sampled, were: the Mont Pilsner, Lynch’s Stout, and Sullivan’s Red Ale.
See also: An Ale of Two Families. Brewery Lost in a Bet.
See also: An Ale of Two Families. Brewery Lost in a Bet.