Sunday, November 24, 2019
A Little Night Magic in English Market
The Farmgate Supper Special
“If they were on every Friday night, I’d be here every Friday night,’ declared a delighted customer at the end of last Friday’s Farmgate Supper. And she was roundly applauded by the long table.
Even before the day softly and slowly turns to night, the Farmgate has much going for it, including an amazing wide-ranging larder from the market underneath, and the expertise of the kitchen. Then, when darkness shuffles into the corners of the city, the magic of the upstairs venue is enhanced, especially on the run-up to Christmas. Add in next the conviviality of the communal table and you have a winning hand of four aces.
It’s a relaxed start; a glass or two of bubbles and an amuse bouche or two on the balcony. Soon we are being led into the famous restaurant, this year celebrating its 25th anniversary. And indeed, this series of suppers is part celebration of the 25th. There are still three nights more to come, all with the winning formula. Take your pick from 29/11; 6/12; or 13/12. Just letting you know before the lady from the other evening and her friends book them all up!
We nibble on soda bread and butter as the staff fill all the drinks orders, everything from excellent European wines, Irish beers to their own Elderflower Cordial. The initial small plate of Organic Beetroot, Ardsallagh Goats Cheese, Hazelnuts, a classic combination of local ingredients, gets this part evening underway as people introduce themselves across the table.
Frank Hederman, whose fish stall is downstairs, was among the company and so it was entirely appropriate that his smoked salmon (mussels too) was on the next plate. In 2000, the New York Times said of Frank (as well as labelling him “droll”): “Mr. Hederman smokes fish, which is a little like saying Steinway makes pianos.” Not much one can add to that except perhaps to say that Frank (like his now veteran smokehouse which is increasingly more than a passive player in the process), has improved in the 21st century. By the way, another refreshing taste of the sea, in the form of a dressed oyster, came with the fish plate.
Back to Terra Firma and the next treat, from Chef Pam Kelly and her team in the kitchen, was Featherblade of Beef (from butcher Eoin O’Mahony downstairs) with Artichoke and Potato Dauphinoise. Featherblade has been a favourite around Cork over the last decade or so and this rendition, perfect in both quality and quantity, won’t have harmed its reputation in any way whatsoever.
Someone asked the following day if we had had music. We didn’t but the music of the animated conversations around the table was all that was needed. The next course was chocolate, a luscious Dark Chocolate Marquise, Brandy and Shortbread Biscuit. Actually that dessert did stop the conversation flow for a short spell. The finalé, a rather splendid (and local of course) one, soon followed: Milleens Cheese with fig compote.
Soon we were leaving in happy dribs and drabs. It’s cold outside, someone warned, but we were pretty well warmed at this point, happy too or happy out as we are inclined to say in these parts. In fact, we felt as if we were i gcorplár an tsamhraidh, the name of Cormac Mehegan’s 2012 painting reproduced on the cover of the menu card.
Inside the card, the producers and suppliers were acknowledged and here they are: Glenilen Farm, Kilbrack Farm, Ardsallagh Cheese, On the Pig’s Back, Hederman’s, O’Connell’s Fish, O’Mahony’s Butchers, Longueville House Apple Brandy, and Roughty Foodie.
Thursday, February 8, 2018
Good Day Deli
Good Food Daily
|Pic by Good Day Deli
Kai Moana is one of the exotic names that pops up on the menu at Good Day Deli in the gardens of Nano Nagle Place in Cork City. Those of you who have visited the South Pacific, especially New Zealand and the “neighbouring” islands, will not find them strange at all and know that Kai Moana is the Maori for seafood.
Perhaps the most important two words you’ll read are Mana Tiaki. It is the motto for this lovely new daytime restaurant. “In the Cook Islands, the core value of Mana Tiaki is guardianship of heritage and the environment for future generations. Mana Tiaki is a beautiful value to live by and is at the core of Good Day Deli.”
So sustainability is the guideline for the crew here, fronted by owners Clare Condon and New Zealander Kristin Makirere and Head Chef Charlotte Murphy, from the food sourcing right down to the paper napkins.
Importantly that food is delicious; the word has already spread and the place was packed when we visited about 12.30pm last Friday. Don't just look in through the glass and say “we’ll never get a table”. Open the door and soon enough you’ll be seated. You may reserve a table earlier in the week (Tuesday to Thursday).
The afternoon menu kicks in at 12.30. After a few minutes delay we were seated and studying the list. There was a hot seasonal soup (chilli and coriander in this case), a Tart of the Day, a Vibrant Vegan dish, and a Halloumi Citrus Salad. Sides galore: honey, nut dukkah, tapenade, hummus, paprika fries and more.
We had spotted a hake dish on their facebook page and were hoping it was still on. It was and CL picked that one: Kai Moana Fish Tacos, lightly battered Irish Hake on Blanco Nino Corn Tortillas with raw slaw, pickle plus lemon coriander mayo and fries. That fish was fresh and delicious, a lovely dish for €15.00.
I also hit the jackpot with the GDD Curry Bowl (€14.00). Crown Prince Squash + Chickpea Coconut Curry Bowl, with Basmati rice, yogurt and toasted coconut is the full description. Probably the best curry I've ever tasted is mine. Just perfect.
Service here, even with the small queue at the door, is excellent. No pressure, just smiles and all the info you want.
One of their aims is to “elevate local producers”. They feature quite a list on the menu including (it will change seasonally) well-known cheesemakers such as Ardsallagh, Hegarty’s and Toonsbridge, farms like Kilbrack, Horizon and Richard’s, also Green Space, Frank Hederman, Ballycotton Seafood, and Organic for Us (milk). Quite an impressive list and that’s only half of it. Oh yes, the Blanco Nino Corn Tortillas with the hake are made in Clonmel.
The café, bright and airy with some outside tables, has one of the best situations on the city, in the middle of the peaceful well-kept gardens of the Nano Nagle Place, fast becoming one of the city centre’s top attractions. While at the café, I took the opportunity to visit the buildings and you may read about it here. No doubt as the season goes on, both Nano Nagle and Good Day Deli will get busier.
Nano Nagle Place
(021) 432 2107
Sunday, September 17, 2017
A Slice Of Cork Food History
A walk; then a superb lunch in Jacques.
|Firkin Crane, with Butter Exchange on right.
Saturday last was that little bit different for members of the Munster Wine and Dine. No bus needed this time. A walk through some of Cork City’s old food (and drink) sites was followed by a lunch in Jacques where the menu gave an occasional nod to food from the past.
The walk, more of a conversation on the move really, began near Seamus Murphy’s Onion Seller sculpture in Cornmarket Street and threw up a few surprises.
The first was the delight of some walkers who were seeing the Saturday Coal Quay Market for the first time. And another delight came up in Shandon where sweets from the local sweet factory were distributed. Gaps of anticipation as the bags of Bull’s Eyes, Clove Rock, Butter Nuggets, Pear Drops, Rhubarb & Custard and other old time favourites appeared!
There were some differences as to the highlights - one walker loved the Seamus Murphy Dog Drinking Bowl in Patrick Street where the stroll finished - but there was general agreement that the powers that be need to get their act together about the Butter Exchange area, an area packed with history, that badly needs renovation and that has the potential to be a major tourist attraction. One suggested that a good power-wash would be a start.
Certainly much more needs to be done and quickly before the Exchange and its Portico fall victim to the march of time or the match of the arsonist.
|Kilbrack Farm in the market
While some of the history touched on stretched back over the centuries, some was quite recent and when we reached the site of the old Whitaker's Hatchery on Camden Quay, we had first hand knowledge passed to us by ex-employee Aoife McCan. She told us all about the day-old chicks that were dispatched by bus all over the county and beyond.
But it was her tale of the “turkey sexer" that really surprised everyone. Apparently it is not easy to tell the difference between the genders. But some people have the gift! And Whitaker's had to book their expert well in advance and get him in from England when the turkey chicks, destined for Christmas market, were being born. Nobody wanted the “tougher” male turkeys, so the “sexer’s” job was to weed them out.
The Kiln Rover once flowed past Whitaker's but that part of it is now enclosed underground. We went up towards the brewery to get a glimpse of its waters. And another walker was able to tell us that the brewery and a nearby distillery (St Johns, long closed) would have had an argument or two about their use of the Kiln River’s water.
If you missed the walk, I have published my notes for it here and you may check it out for yourself. And if you want to get some of those sweets, note that the factory is open Monday to Friday, not on Saturday.
Huge queue at Jacques as we arrived for lunch but it was at the other side of the street heading to see Cillian Murphy in Crane Lane. A welcome glass of Longueville House cider as we got to our seats and than an immediate bite from the past: pickled mussels, apple, nasturtium. The pickling was a method of preserving them.
We had a choice of starters and I picked one of the old ones: Lambs kidneys, smoked potato purée, raisins, pine kernels, red wine. A blas from the past. The Barry’s here buy quite a share of their vegetables from the Kilbrack Farm stall in the Coal Quay market - we had stopped there earlier - and the Kilbrack beetroot was featured here with Ardsallagh cheese.
Dave Barry’s Queens turned up in my mains which was a delicious fresh Hake, with seaweed butter, those spuds, and sprouting broccoli. Also available were Confit Duck (with pearl barley), Leg of Ham (with colcannon) and more.
And dessert was largely foraged: Carrigeen mousse and in-season blackberries. As we walked out on to the street, the rain had started to fall. We didn't mind too much as it had stayed dry for the walk!