Showing posts with label Kerry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kerry. Show all posts

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Planning 2019? Try A Day and a Night on the Ring of Kerry.


A Day and a Night on the Ring of Kerry.
See. Stay. Dine. Visit.
Some foodie shopping had been notionally lined up for this October morning. But the sun shone so brightly, the landscape looked so inviting, even from our hotel window (above), that we decided to spend the day outdoors, outdoors on the beautiful Ring of Kerry. 

And that was the new, if last-minute, plan as we drove off from Killarney in the direction of Killorglin, the home of King Puck whose feisty statue greets you as you enter the town.
View from Carrig House dining room

We had no need to stop in Killorglin this time. But if you haven’t been, you could well take the short walk from the town centre over the old railway bridge. Go to a big car park just off to the right of the one-way (up) main street. Park there and walk downhill with the church to your left. Then up a slope, again on the left, as a metal bridge looms overhead. Up on to the bridge, the old railway bridge, from where there are very good views of the River Laune and the road bridge that you just crossed.

Feel like a mid-morning snack? Check out Jack’s Bakery & Deli, on Bridge Street, and they’ll feed you well and you can take your well-filled baps outside to the street side tables.
On the Ring. The Dingle peninsula is in the distance

There will be photo stops today, lots of them. After all, you are driving on one side of the Wild Atlantic Way and across the bay is the Dingle Peninsula. On a day like this, you can even see the beautiful Inch Beach where part of Ryan’s Daughter was filmed.

A place worth calling to between Killorglin and Cahersiveen is Kells Bay. We enjoyed a tour of the gardens (and the swing bridge!) there a year previously.
In Kells Bay Gardens

Ancient tracks
On now to Cahersiveen, from where you can take the short ferry to Valentia Island where there are terrific walks and views to enjoy; don’t miss the 385 million year old tracks of the Tetra Pod and also the lighthouse.

Cahersiveen (make sure you spell it correctly when entering it into your Sat-Nav!) is a busy enough town, boasting attractions such as The Old Barracks, the Daniel O'Connell memorial church and ancient stone forts and that ferry to Valentia. But the island, and the Skelligs Ring, is too much of a detour for us today and we carry on towards the pretty village of Glenbeigh.
Views from Valentia Island

Mick O'Dwyer
Our main stop is at Waterville on the huge and scenic Ballinskelligs Bay. Both Charlie Chaplin and General de Gaulle holidayed in the area. Indeed, there is a sculpture of Chaplin alongside the beach but, perhaps because of a rough looking character sitting alongside Charlie, no one seems to be taking his photo today. De Gaulle by the way has his sculpture in Sneem.

A more recent Waterville “statue” of a living legend, footballer Mick O’Dwyer, has no such distraction. There is also another sculpture here and it commemorates the Commercial Cable Company that in 1884 laid two cables across the Atlantic connecting Canada, Britain and France all via a station in Waterville.

Snack in Waterville

The first message from Waterville to St. John, Nova Scotia, passed along the transatlantic cable on Christmas Eve 1884. The cable station in Waterville was operational from 1884 – 1962. Read more here.  

We had enjoyed a hearty breakfast, as always in the Cahernane House Hotel, and didn’t need much of a mid-day meal. Not too many cafés in Waterville - bigger choice in Sneem. After a good walk, we headed for the Beachcove and enjoyed an excellent pot of tea (of generous proportions) and slices of well made apple tart, chunks of real apple here, none of that stuff squeezed from a tube!).

Sunshine on the edge of the sea at Waterville

They say do the Ring in the anti-clockwise direction and so we did, leaving Waterville and heading now towards Sneem, with the Atlantic on our right, one fabulous view following another, some back towards Waterville and the bay, and more as we came towards Derrynane, home of The Liberator Daniel O’Connell.

And soon, we were in Sneem, the sun still shining strongly, people eating and drinking outside, a man playing classical guitar, another serving coffee and crepes from a mobile van. Hey, I asked myself, what country am I in. But look, I know where I am. Maybe my momma told me, maybe she didn’t, but I often get days like this in Ireland.

We have been in Sneem quite often and have seen quite a few sculptures here. This time, on the road in, we saw signs for a Sculpture Park and started looking for it. But, as we walked around, we found it is really a sculpture trail, spread over three small parks. 

We did see one new one, that of the famous Kerry footballer John Egan who died too young. Like his family and friends, we would have preferred to have had to wait much longer for the event that gave rise to the memorial, nice and all as the statue is.  
Steve "Crusher" Casey, in Sneem

So now, we said goodbye to the Ring of Kerry. We could have headed into Kenmare but we had been there a few weeks earlier and instead took the high road towards Molls Gap. Again, there are spectacular views, this time mostly of the mountains. We also pass the Strawberry Field and its Pancake Cottage (below) where we’ve enjoyed a tasty snack from time to time! 

The views as we pass the high point of Moll’s Gap are now of the Lakes of Killarney and spectacular views they are and you can easily see how they would have attracted tourists especially in Victorian times when the railway arrived in the town. Soon, after negotiating 1001 bends on the narrow road, we would arrive in the town.
Superb steak at Murphy Browne's

We have dinner at a relatively new venue, Murphy Browne’s on High Street. Nothing cutting-edge in the cuisine offered here but they do their stuff well and turn local produce into very attractive meals indeed and the service is also excellent.

Our base for the night is the very centrally situated Killarney Lodge. It has 17 rooms and is just three minutes from the town centre. The rooms are spacious and very well equipped and the breakfast is top notch, served with a smile and a chat. 

And so it was with a smile on our faces that we left the Lodge and headed up the N22, back to our city by the Lee, knowing that the magic of the Kingdom is just about 90 minutes away!
Chill unit keeps breakfast items cool at Killarney Lodge




Thursday, November 8, 2018

Murphy Browne’s New in Town. Already Packing Them In


Murphy Browne’s New in Town.
Already Packing Them In
Super Steak
Murphy Browne’s, the new restaurant on Killarney’s High Street, know where their steak is coming from: from Cronin’s Butchers next door. And it’s quite a steak as I found out on a recent visit.

Denis Murphy and Deirdre Browne are the pair behind this lively new spot and they put in a few months of hard work on the old Smokehouse before opening their doors at the end of last spring. Denis does front of house while you’ll find Deirdre in the kitchen.

Back to that steak. I don’t often order it when out but did in Killarney. It was superb, an excellent piece of meat, very well handled and the basis for quite a dish. They don’t do things by half-measures here, no shortage of onions, a pot of chips plus a some lovely seasonal veg as well.
Bruschetta 

The menu is available online so we weren’t expecting anything really cutting edge here. What we got though was superb, good local produce well handled and well presented. And the service was stream-lined, really efficient but always a moment for a smile and a quick chat. They are doing well - the downstairs section filled quickly and they were directing customers upstairs.

They don’t have a full bar but they have a decent wine list. I’m always on the lookout for local beer and sure enough they had bottles from the Killarney Brewing Company available and I enjoyed a quart, approximately, of the Blonde.

Good choice of starters including soup, chowder, chicken wings and Caesar Salad. My pick though was the flavoursome, slightly spicy and aromatic Duck Spring Rolls, with chilli dip. Enjoyed while CL was very pleased with her Bruschetta (rustic bread, marinated tomato, hazelnut, basil, garlic and sun-dried tomato). The accompanying salads were well dressed, excellent.
Add caption

While I was making happy progress with my steak, she was pronouncing herself well pleased with Baked fillet of salmon which came with superb Mediterranean vegetables. She wasn’t too keen, in advance, about the Lemon cream sauce but, on request, they served it on the side.

There were other fish options on the mains, along with a Beef Burger, Lamb Shank, chicken, duck, lasagne, and a curry. Not too much for the vegetarians, just a Wild Mushroom Pasta.
Salmon

We probably had enough in any case and the dessert list wasn’t all that tempting, mostly the usual suspects such as Apple Pie, Chocolate Fudge Cake, Cheesecake of the Day and more, including the Day’s Special. More than likely, and going by what we had earlier, they would have been fine but we gave it a skip. We had been well fed and it was two quite happy customers that stepped out onto the main street, heading for a nearby bar.


8 High Street
Killarney
Co. Kerry
(064) 667 1446

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Cahernane House. Comfort and Class. Superb Food and Service.


Cahernane House. Comfort and Class.
Superb Food and Service.
Morning view from the window of the Albericci Room

Breakfast pancakes
Many Killarney hotels have the advantage of mountains, lakes, herds of deer, more or less in the front garden and the renovated and very comfortable Cahernane Hotel on the Muckross is one of them. The lakes and mountains are constant but you may need to be on the alert around dawn or dusk to see the deer who come right up to the lawn boundary.

We were there in October and enjoyed a fantastic meal (details here) with restaurant manager Aileen and duty manager Youri looking after us. Have to say all the staff are brilliant here, always good for a chat and a laugh. 

Aileen is from the Philippines and has been in her current role since 2013. She oversees all aspects of the beautiful high-ceilinged Herbert Room restaurant and even demoed her singing talents with a rendition of Happy Birthday for a surprised guest on the night.

Not too sure if Youri can sing but I wouldn't be surprised. He is from Holland but in some ways is now as Irish as any of us. The minute you talk to him, you'll see he has a tremendous love and knowledge of all things food and drink. 
Deer at dusk

He told me they had had an extremely successful summer. "Tourists kept coming, more and more of them. And the season is extended even further this year." Indeed, the hotel was fully booked even for the opening two weeks of October.

Dinner is excellent here and you will also enjoy your breakfast in the Herbert Room. You may of course help yourself at the cold buffet as well as ordering from the Hot menu. The buffet includes juices, an excellent selection of fruits, seeds and nuts too, charcuterie, yogurts, cheese, cereals, breads and pastries.

You may start your Hot breakfast with Porridge (with some lovely additions including honey), Bruléed Pink Grapefruit, the Traditional Full Irish (of course), Manor House Omelette, Salmon and Egg Bagel, Buttermilk Pancakes, Smoked Kippers and a few other specials.

They also serve food (an all day menu) in the Cellar Bar and, later, you may enjoy a drink here. Quite a few cocktails available including their signature, 'The Herbert’, a smooth combination of gin, spiced rum, elderflower and fresh lime juice! 
Pint at ease in the Cellar Bar

They also offer gin (including my favourites Blackwater and Bertha’s Revenge) and whiskey flights. They support local too and stock beers (on draught) from the Killarney Brewing Company.  All these beers are named after local myths and legends, evoking emotions of all things Killarney. And all are pretty good, including the Casey Brothers stout!

Of course, the bedroom is a key part of any hotel and those in the Cahernane are excellent. We have previously stayed in the Garden Wing but this time we had a splendid room in the Manor itself, the heart of the old building. 
Welcome to Cahernane!

Like all the rooms here our Albericci Room has been recently renovated. It is spacious, comfortable, beautifully decorated, with great views, well-heated too, especially the bathroom (hard to beat hot tiles and hot towels in the morning!). And of course it has WiFi and TV as well.
A pleasant entrance drive to Cahernane

Just got in this press release on behalf of the Cahernane:

Christmas and New Year
Enjoy a festive break like no other this Christmas in the wonderful surrounds of the luxurious Cahernane House Hotel overlooking Killarney National Park.

The beautiful recently renovated manor house in Cahernane will be turning into a Christmas wonderland for the most wonderful time of the year, and guests will be able to finish 2018 in some style in the twinkling Kerry destination.

This Christmas, guests will be treated to an exquisite culinary experience at the renowned Herbert Restaurant which was recently awarded 2 AA rosettes for its excellence. The one-night Christmas package for two (€145 pps) includes a delightful five-course dining experience with the wine of your choice in the Herbert Restaurant, while a two-night package with dinner on one evening is just €220 pps. Booking dates are available from December 27-30th.

Guests who book via the Cahernane House Hotel website will also receive a complimentary glass of prosecco on arrival to ensure that their stay gets off to a welcoming start.

There is also no better place to ring in the new year than the toasty confines of Cahernane, who are running a brilliant New Year Celebration package that on December 31st. Guests will enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail reception before tucking in to a delicious 7-course tasting menu in the Herbert Restaurant.

An exclusive Christmas Party Package for groups of 10 or more is also available from November 1st- December 15th, with a luxury overnight stay kicked off by mulled wine on arrival, before guests enjoy a private Christmas Party in the Herbert Restaurant featuring a six-course menu and a complimentary class of champagne. A full Irish breakfast is also provided the following morning, all for just €140 pps.

There will also be live music in the drawing room on New Year’s Eve, where complimentary champagne will be served to ring in 2019 in style.

The New Year Celebration package is available for €175 pps.




Sunday, October 21, 2018

‘Best Dining Experience' at Cahernane House Hotel



Cahernane House Hotel in Condé Nast Top 3  

‘Best Dining Experience' 
Eric Kavanagh

Cahernane House Hotel in Killarney has been shortlisted in the Condé Nast top 3 hotels for ‘Best Dining Experience UK & Ireland’.  Condé Nast is widely regarded as the ultimate globetrotting bible for even the most discerning traveller and features luxury hotels, restaurants and destinations from all corners of the world.  

The leading lifestyle travel magazine will hold its ‘Annual Awards for Excellence Dinner’ at the glitzy May Fair Hotel in London on Monday, 5th of November when the overall winner will be announced. Cahernane House Hotel, General Manager, Emer Corridan will attend the black-tie awards ceremony to represent the property.


Emer has been working at Cahernane House Hotel since 2016, managing the hotel and ensuring that each guest that walks through the door has a relaxing and memorable stay as well as leading her team to a four star standard and beyond. Emer as an individual can best be described the life of Cahernane with her passion shining through in her everyday contact with both the team and guests.

Cork native Eric Kavanagh is the Executive Chef at Cahernane House and leads a talented team in the kitchen at the distinguished Herbert Restaurant in the hotel. Before starting at Cahernane House Hotel in 2017, Eric worked at Longueville House in Mallow, Marlfield House in Gorey and Sheen Falls in Kenmare. He also spent some time abroad in Canada and New Zealand where he was inspired by the many international chefs he worked with.
Crab, cucumber

The key ingredient behind any good meal is the timing however, and Eric is keen to point out that he bases his menu and technique on what time of the year it is. 

“It’s a seasonal thing,” he said. “You want to make the food so it’s good, but that it also shows technique and it’s not over the top and there for the sake of it. You see what’s around, what is in season, and you put it together and you make sure that there is some sense of technique to it to. From there you test it, and if it works you use it, if it doesn’t work you keep adjusting it until you’re happy with it really.”
Cured Halibut, carrot, finger lime, Bergamot 

Cod
The Herbert Restaurant has two AA Rosettes and serves fabulous seasonal dishes prepared with flair and style by a hand that understands great technique with minimal fuss. We were on the Table d'Hote €55.00 menu and started off with an excellent glass of Prosecco. Delicious breads, including a treacle version and an onion one, followed as did an amuse bouche.
Raspberry mousse

No shortage of interesting starters on the menu and mine was a gorgeous Wild Boar and Foie Gras while CL was thrilled with her Castletownbere Crab wrapped in cucumber. A couple of palate cleansing "Middle Courses" followed, Cured Halibut for me, Clementine Sorbet for her. Two beautiful dishes, small but enough for the chef to again display his skills.

As he did again with the mains. Hard to top the Slow Cooked Guinea Fowl, with Mead and Soy, Pistachio, Pumpkin, Black Trompette Mushrooms, and Baby Turnip. CL enjoyed a beautiful fish dish: Confit Cod and smoked Cod Belly, with Seaweed Pastille, Cauliflower, Cabbage and Apple. Really high class stuff and all washed down with a PradoRey Verdejo, aromatic, elegant and expressive.
Figs

And did we have dessert? Of course. We had a couple of beauties, not from the usual list of suspects at all. CL was delighted with her pick: Iced Raspberry Mousse (Lemongrass gel, crème fraiche and coco snap) while I indulged my sweet tooth with Sauternes Infused Figs and Pressed Kefir (fig compote and wild blackberries). Quite a finalé!

See second post from this visit, details on room, bar and breakfast, here.

Fancy a meal there? Why not check out their Autumn Escape Break (From €94.50 per person sharing) includes one night’s accommodation with breakfast and dinner in the fine dining, critically acclaimed 2 AA Rosette Herbert Restaurant (you can also enjoy a complimentary glass of prosecco when you book on www.cahernane.com). This lovely package also includes a complimentary art and history tour which runs each evening from 6.00pm. For more information on Cahernane House Hotel or to make a booking see www.cahernane.com or call (064) 663 1895.





Monday, September 17, 2018

No 35 Kenmare. It’s A Good Number!

No 35 Kenmare
It’s A Good Number!
Charcuterie Plate!

When they say Farm to Fork in No. 35 Kenmare, they mean exactly that. Their free range pigs are reared just about a mile away. And they don't have to go too far for their fish either!

We were there on a damp Tuesday night recently and the place, spread over two floors, was packed. A terrific buzz there and terrific food too from Head Chef Tony Schwarz and his team in the kitchen. The team outfront were excellent too, helpful and chatty, and efficient to boot.
Treacle and walnut bread

Luckily we had a reservation and were soon seated upstairs (those stair steps are very narrow by the way). I was aware of the pig farm so was concentrating on that on the menu as we nibbled at the excellent Treacle and Walnut bread that came with a seaweed butter.

I spotted my starter without delay: a charcuterie plate of salami, chorizo and coppa along with various relishes and gherkins, pickled cucumber,  Granny’s jam, olives, celeriac with mustard, capers, peppers. It was packed with good things, substantial and totally delicious.
Pork mains

CL was a little on the jealous side but I was able to share a few bits and pieces! Her starter was the Dingle Gin Cured Salmon, Cucumber: Ketchup & Soused & Charred. Not as substantial maybe but another excellent appetiser.

Cider and pork is always a good match so I was enjoying a glass or two of the lovely Stonewell Medium Dry. And I needed another one as my mains arrived. They do a Pork dish of the day and I tucked into the Collar of Pork, with colourful Mooncoin Beetroot, the excellent smoked black pudding, all in a red wine jus. A super plateful, great flavours and textures, aromas too.

CL got a lovely piece of Halibut, well cooked and neatly presented, served with summer vegetables, a basil pesto and red pepper relish.

Have to admit though, we didn’t make it to the desserts this time! It was a wet night, the last Tuesday in August, and we were not expecting to find so many in the pubs. But most were packed and most had live music. We finished the evening enjoying the craic, sipping a craft beer or two (Brú Pale Ale and the Tom Crean family Expedition Red Ale). Kenmare Abú!

35 Main Street, Kenmare, Co Kerry.
Tel: +353 (64) 664 1559 | Email: info@no35kenmare.com



Monday, May 21, 2018

Killarney: A Quick Visit


Killarney: A Quick Visit
Distillers from the 1800s remembered at Celtic Whiskey Bar

We were in Killarney for a short visit in early May. The intention, on arrival, was to eat outdoors at the lovely Deenagh Lodge but heavy showers put paid to that and we called to the Celtic Whiskey Shop & Larder, fast becoming a favourite of ours, for a light lunch. 

The Toastie Special with soup was ideal and came in at less than 16 euro for the two. The toastie was superb, on excellent sourdough, and the soup wasn't just a cup as you might expect for the price, but a big bowl. 

So, well refreshed, we were ready for a our water-bus cruise on the lakes. The rain had passed but it was still windy and cloudy as we embarked at Ross Castle. The boat was large, wide, and comfortable with a viewing area at the back, an area that was sheltered and I took the boatman’s advice and spent the trip out there.
Muckross Friary

We got an informative commentary - could hear him well out the back - and he slowed down, indeed stopped, at a few of the more interesting places, including Innisfallen Island. In other years, we’d have enjoyed the show of rhododendrons on some of the smaller rocky islands but the late spring had delayed the flowering. The trip took about an hour and cost a tenner; well worth it.
On the bus

In all the years we’ve been visiting Killarney we’ve never seen the Muckross Traditional Farm. The farm is quite close to Muckross House and there is an entry fee. The tour takes the form of a longish walk where you pass farmhouses and cottages of various sizes and vintages and hear about the good old days and the not so good. Lots of old farm implements around the place also, an old thresher, carts, and scufflers and so on.

Animals also. The Kerry cow, of course, and sheep and a few goats along the way, one with two very young kids. A sow too nursing a bunch of hungry bonhams. 
Lakes in the mist

Quite a few schoolchildren were visiting, which is a good thing of course. But a few of the exhibits were being reserved for them and that meant we couldn’t get into one or two rooms. Could these visits not take place in the morning when the farm is not open to the paying public? All in all though, it was a quite interesting visit and it wasn't just the kids that learned a thing or two.

The ruins of Muckross Friary are nearby but more then the six minutes indicated by a lady at the farm, unless walking over 1200 metres in six minutes is normal in Killarney! 
Kenmare Steeple

Again, we hadn’t visited before and on this occasion there were quite a few visitors here. The ruin of the 15th century friary is quite substantial, with views out to the lake, views than can be better appreciated by climbing up a few sets of steps. The cloisters are fairly well preserved, with a very large tree growing in the middle of the quadrangle. 

We also made a quick visit to Kenmare, including a recommended stop for excellent pancakes at the Strawberry Field, now celebrating 21 years in the Moll's Gap area. 

Then time to return to our beautiful overnight base, the renovated Cahernane House Hotel where we enjoy a terrific dinner, a pint or two in the reinvigorated Cellar Bar and a decent breakfast before heading home on the following day. A bientot, Killarney!

Kid on the Muckross farm



Monday, May 14, 2018

The Strawberry Field Forever. Well, since 1997!


The Strawberry Field Forever. 
Well, since 1997!

Where can you find a royal flush of organic cinnamon, cardamon and ginger? An uplifting organic lemony zing with a flying finish? Guilty Pleasures? Where will you find a toilet seat in a strawberry shape? Where can you find “the biggest little treat in Kerry”?

I’ll tell you. Coming from Killarney towards Kenmare, turn right at Moll's Gap and, about four kilometres out the Sneem Road, you’ll find the Strawberry Field and its Pancake Cottage on your right. Call in, and you will see the first two above on the extensive Pukka Tea menu; the third is a menu list itself of delicious pancakes.

Believe it or not, this rural treasure has been here, not forever, but since 1997. Then Margaret and Peter Kerssens opened their family business, now very popular with locals and tourists alike. The farmhouse itself has stood here looking out over the Kerry mountains and valleys since the 1800s and these days it is both a restaurant specialising in pancakes and also a craft shop (includes oil paintings by Margaret).

The wood-burning soapstone stove  is a focal point in the front room and indeed has a tank directly on top where water is heated. Up to thirty may be seated in this room at the large benches and there is room for another dozen or so in the craft room. The pancakes range from savoury to sweet, are pan-fried and made to order.

And there is quite a menu, ranging from a Simplicity section (eg bacon and cheddar) to Speciality (like smoked Irish salmon, leeks, spinach leaves and sour cream). There is a Classic Selection (think lemon and honey), the Guilty Pleasures (which also includes Nutella), and Fancy Fruity to finish with.

It was misty when we arrived shortly after noon. We concentrated on the Speciality. I picked the pancake topped with a local Farmhouse Garlic Cheese, Leeks, Walnuts, Ballymaloe Relish. Super stuff and a lovely lunch at a fair price. And CL was also very happy with her Good Stuff pancake containing: quinoa, strawberries, cranberries, onion, apple, roasted seeds, kale/spinach, beetroot hummus.

We also had a bottled fruit drink each, both from Serbia, an Strawberry and Apple along with a Raspberry and Apple. The bill for the four items came to about twenty two euro.

What else? Well if you don’t like pancakes you may have Soup of the Day, scones or Dutch Apple Pie. Decent coffee (Giuljano) here too and no shortage of teas. We’ve been there twice in recent years but have yet to dine outside as the weather wasn't kind. Third time lucky?

Co. Kerry
+353 64 668 2977 (they don’t take reservations!)
Open 7 days a week from Saturday 24th of March - end of September.
Opening hours : 11 :00 am - 18:00. Please note : last orders for food at 17:15, last orders for drinks at 17:30

Also on this trip: Cahernane House Hotel

Killarney. A Quick Visit
Dining at The Garden Room in the Great Southern