Showing posts with label Killahora. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Killahora. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Local Producers Shine as Cask Introduces Weekend Brunch

Local Producers Shine as Cask Introduces Weekend Brunch
French Toast


When Cork’s Cask recently introduced its weekend Brunch, there was no doubt that it would be local and seasonal. Head Chef Bryan McCarthy emphasised it in the notice: “For the brunch menu at Cask we wanted to keep it simple, offering no-frills brunch favourites with the focus firmly on the quality of the ingredients which we’ve sourced from some wonderful local producers. We’re delighted with how it has turned out and we think people are going to love it.

I tried it out this weekend, enjoyed it and delighted too that Killahora Orchards, a producer just about five miles east of the city, figured so much in my choice. I should say choices as there was a cocktail involved as well! Well, it was a late brunch.

The menu is short, with favourites, such as Eggs Benedict featuring. Seated by the window, we ignored the busy street scene outside and studied the options. My choice was the French Toast with the Killahora Apple Syrup and Strawberries (bananas were an alternative).
So what cocktail? You have to smile at the names here but there is something a little more serious behind the one I picked: Bee Positive. Ketel One vodka, Killahora Rare Apple Iced Wine, Suze, Borage and local honey are the ingredients. And it comes with a packet of wildflower seeds to throw and grow! Aside from the needed nod to the bees, the drink itself is delicious, nectar springs to mind! 

In any event, the drink and the superb French Toast went very well together, I’m glad to report. CL meantime was enjoying her substantial plate of Avocado, Bacon, Tomato, Rocket, and Poached Egg on toast. That too was delicious, quite a feed. I know, as we swapped halfway through.

Like an increasing number of places, Cask offer a non alcoholic cocktail. Their Shrub consists of Ceders Non Alcoholic Spirit, Seasonal Shrub, and Poachers Ginger Ale. Tonic and soda are listed as alternatives but Dan, who was looking after us, hinted that the Poachers Ginger ale was just the job and he was talking to the converted as CL had recently enjoyed a cocktail with ginger ale in Kerry. This didn’t look all that spectacular, just the one flowerhead, providing colour, but it tasted very well indeed.

Cheers to the bees
Andy Ferreira, Cask bar manager and chief mixologist. “In recent years brunch as a concept has really taken off so we were excited to introduce it to Cask, but making sure to put our own unique spin on things. We’ve combined delicious food and a fun and intriguing drinks menu with the great craic that we’ve become known for - a killer combination!”

Having been asked to put it to the test, we can endorse that! Also on the menu are Eggs Benedict on Toasted Honey Spelt Bread; Potato, Black Pudding and Beef Hash with Baked Eggs. Lighter dining options include Granola with Natural Yogurt and Berry Compote, and Smoked Salmon with Scrambled Eggs and Chives.

Brunch is available here from 10:00am - 3:00pm every Saturday and Sunday. Cask is also open daily for lunch and dinner from 12:30pm - 10:00pm. 

48 MacCurtain Street
Cork
Tel:  (021) 450 0011



Monday, June 17, 2019

Walk The Long and Local Table


Walk The Long and Local Table
You'll Never Eat Alone
G&T for the gang in Electric Fish Bar
Welcome to Ali's
Why not start a very fine event with a very fine perry? That’s exactly what happened when we joined a group to Walk the Long Table at Ali’s Kitchen. Ali herself would be our guide for the afternoon (and well into the evening) and, as she told us what to expect, she served a glass of the gorgeous Killahora Poiré. The event is all about local produce and the Glounthaune produced perry set the tone along with some delicious and potato bread with home-made butter.

A big welcome next at The Farmgate Cafe where our plate was based on produce from the Olive Stall in the market. The dish featured Toonsbridge Mozzarella with tomato and tarragon salad and crispy kale. Here we also enjoyed a glass of Elderflower/Prosecco and a shot of Gazpacho.
Farmgate

Nash 19
Next stop was in Nash 19, 27 years in business and involved in the Long Table from the very start. A very tasty dish here: Cod from Pat O’Connell in the English Market, in a light crispy batter featuring Longueville House cider. Longueville’s Rubert told us, as he filled our glasses, that the cider is made from their own apples and that nothing is added. “Should pair well with the fish,” he said. It was indeed a winning match.

Claire Nash emphasised that their menu is local and seasonal driven. And she credited the Long Table with enhancing the cooperation between the local restaurants. “It is raising the standard, “ she said and Rubert agreed.

A few minutes later we in were in Fish Bar at Electric where oysters were on the menu. At least one of the group tried one for the first time! There was one for everyone in the audience and a generous glass too of Kinsale Gin.
Perfect serve (gin & oysters) at Electric

A short walk took us to Jacob’s On the Mall where Michelle was on the street to welcome us in and tell us a bit about the fascinating venue. And they had quite a dish for us, all local of course. A generous slice of Jack McCarthy's famous Queen’s Pudding and a few fritters featuring Cashel Blue cheese went down very well indeed with a glass of wine.
Jacobs on the Mall

Ali then found the shortest way to reach Crawford and Co on Anglesea Street. Sarah told us all about the changes here and was full of praise for Eoin O’Mahony, the well-known butcher in the English Market. The informal and enjoyable atmosphere continued here as we sipped our Beamish and tucked into the superb fillet of beef from Eoin.
Tender stuff at Crawford & Co

Time for something sweet now and Beth at Dockland had just the job: Bushby strawberries, marshmallow meringue, lime, vanilla + basil cream, strawberry daquiri sauce with, for good measure, a glass of prosecco, pomegranate, passion fruit + mint spritz. Think she mentioned there was a drop of Kinsale gin in there too!
Dockland

Beth and Harold have been in this location over 11 years, thanks to her "amazing customers". About 18 months ago, they closed the old Club Brasserie and a few hard weeks later opened up on the same spot as Dockland! The customers loved it and why not. Here you enjoy a a great variety of local produce.”We love local, our food is not fussy, just tasty good food.” The menu is quite large and has something for virtually every taste and budget.
Dockland

The finalé was close at hand and we were welcomed to the 200 years old Imperial Hotel (Charles Dickens and Michael Collins have been guests) by new manager Bastian who guided us to their Whiskey Experience, three local bottles paired with pastries cooked by the hotel’s pastry chefs.

Bastian
Alan took over for the tasting in the lovely Lafayette’s, introducing the West Cork Bourbon Barrel, the Jameson Black Barrel and the well known Paddy. The Jameson seemed to be the favourite whiskey and was also my pick of the three. But the best pairing, I thought was, surprisingly, the Paddy and a Milk Chocolate Fudge. Even better with a hot Paddy according to the ebullient Alan. 

So a very fine start at Ali’s and now a very fine ending in Lafayette’s as we reflected, with a Cosmopolitan cocktail in hand, on the happy hours we had passed as a group. Until the next time! Cheers and well done to all the restaurants involved. Walk the Long Table is a tour through a string of Cork's best restaurants. It continues this week with two walks each of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. They are all booked out but, just in case a few become available (as happened last week), do keep an eye on  and @CorksLongTable. Website: https://www.corkmidsummer.com/programme/event/walk-the-long-table1  
Alan takes us through the whiskey!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Taste of the Week. St Tola Hard Goat Cheese


Taste of the Week
St Tola Hard Goat Cheese


You’d better get a move on if you’d like to enjoy out superb Taste of the Week: St Tola Hard Goat Cheese.

This is only made when there is a surplus, as there was last year - there was no hard cheese for a few years before that. It is tasting very well at present but stocks at the Inagh farm are beginning to run down! And running down even faster now that it is available in SuperValu.

This rare and delicious cheese is made in a Gouda style, pale, fine and smooth, boasting a distinctive tangy flavour. As there is no overpowering goat taste many people are amazed that it is made with goat milk. This makes a super addition to any cheeseboard; try pairing it with the Killahora ice wine or apple port. And take it easy - a small wedge goes a long way such is its outstanding flavour and texture!


Sunday, December 30, 2018

Meet Ireland’s Great Producers. Just a few of them!


Meet Ireland’s Great Producers
Just a few of them!
Cheesemaker Jean-Baptiste at Hegarty's

2018 Highlights now completed.
See below for brilliant National Stud visit;
A Taste of West Cork;
Life galore in the Irish Pub;
Michelin Stars, a trio this year;
Clonakilty's outstanding street festival;
Variations on the Irish Breakfast

Always manage to visit a few producers and 2018 was no exception; well, there were some exceptional visits, one to the innovative duo at the relatively new Killahora Orchards, the other to the well-established Hegarty Cheese in Whitechurch .

We were with a group of members of the Munster Wine & Dine who spent a very enjoyable May evening on a tour and tasting at Killahora Orchards near Glounthaune. Barry was our enthusiastic guide as we got both our whistles and our feet (aside from those who had brought wellies) wet in a most delightful way. 

Some of us had already marked Killahora products, including Johnny Fall Down cider, the Pom 'O Apple Port and their unique Rare Apple ice wine, among our favourite things. Those who hadn't come across them before were converted on this tour and tasting. More here

I met Jean-Baptise Enjelvin, cheesemaker at Hegarty’s, a few times during the year before heading out to see him at work in Whitechurch on an October morning.When I arrive at Hegarty’s farm on the outskirts of Whitechurch, less than twenty minutes north of Cork City, I’m greeted by Dan Hegarty, the frontman for their magnificent cheddar cheese that has been snapped up by restaurants and retail customers alike over the past 16 years or so. 
Killahora Orchards

For the past three years, Dan has had the considerable help of French cheese-maker Jean-Baptiste who had been on duty from earlier that morning.  He helps me get my kit on and I start to note how he makes their Templegall, a Comté style cheese, which has been getting sensational reviews over the past few months. 

I try my best to stay out of his way as the work progresses from the milk to the tank to the wheel on the stand. Amazing combination of skill, knowledge and muscle and then a lot of patience (a year or so of it) before the cheese is ready. It is a high quality product so do watch out for it! More here

* If you are food or drink producer and would like me to do a post in 2019, do drop me a line at cork.billy@gmail.com
* A producer for every week; see the list of Great Irish Tastes 2018

National Stud/Japanese Gardens
One of Ireland’s Stand-out Visits
2018 Highlights continued...
Guide Aoife has a back-pocket treat for Hardy Eustace.  And he knows it!

Last June, we “did” a loop around the Midlands, taking in Mikey Ryan’s in Cashel, Birr Castle, a tour of Tullamore DEW, and a stay at the impressive Heritage Hotel in Killenard but the undoubted highlight was our visit, on the one ticket, to the Japanese Gardens and the National Stud.

The Japanese Gardens are small but perfect. Now over a hundred years old, it is still very much worth visiting. Some 120,000 visitors soak up the peace ad beauty here every year. They were devised by Colonel Walker and were laid out by Japanese master horticulturist Tassa Eida and his son Minoru between 1906 and 1910. Walker named one of his classic winning horses after Minoru.

Before, or after, visiting the stud, you can refuel in the Japanese Garden Café. Here, Ballymaloe-trained Natalie Collins and her manager Ronan Mackey take pride in offering simple, wholesome food with the emphasis on freshness and flavour. Local ingredients are used wherever possible. The restaurant is open 7 days.

By the way, the grounds of the National Stud rival the gardens for beauty. But it is the characters here that I’m inclined to remember, especially Hardy Eustace! Described in his highly successful racing career as a hell of a horse and a tenacious battler, the now twenty year old is described as a big baby by Aoife, our fantastic guide, as she feeds him polo mints and those “missing” sugar cubes. 

Indeed, we all help out, keeping our fingers straight as we make our offerings to the famous gelding. Also keep it relatively quiet, just in case the jealous Hurricane Fly, who shares the field, might hear. 
Aoife was brilliant, our guide of the year, and later she took us to see the stallions, the guys that pay her wages! You may read an account of the visit here
John Coll's Famine Funeral at Coming Home

Other excellent “visits” this year included Nano Nagle Place (Cork City) , Youghal’s Historic Clock Gate Tower  and the amazing Ewe Experience  in Glengarriff.


Best art experience of the year was Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger  in Skibbereen.

A Rib around Bantry Bay
Just one of 250 events at A Taste of West Cork
2018 Highlights continued...

Ten days, 41 towns and villages, 8 islands, over 250 events. I’m talking about Ireland’s biggest and probably best food festival: A Taste of West Cork.

Impressive numbers indeed. But statistics only hint at the September story unfolding across the bays, the mountains, the hills and dales of the region. We dabbled a bit this year, as we regularly do and one of the highlights was the Indian Night in Richy’s of Clonakilty, another restaurant in the top echelon of this Michelin starred food-scape.

But the most fun that we had came down in Bantry, on a rib run by Diarmuid Murphy of the Fish Kitchen. The rib run and a fish dinner that evening were one of the official events for the festival. We weren’t quite sure why to expect when we booked - even thinking at one point that we’d have to fish for our dinner!

And, then as the clouds rolled in and the wind increased, we still weren’t sure as Diarmuid introduced us to his rib on the new marina in the bay. We put the gear on and soon we were bouncing out there on the bay. Exhilarating stuff even if our experienced skipper (we took just the one splash) decided against taking on the waves at either end of Whiddy Island and a trip across to see the liner in Glengarriff had to be abandoned.

But all the while he was filling us in - we two were his only passengers - on the geography and the amazing history of the bay: Wolfe Tone, the American flying boats on WW1 duty, the Eagle Pointers, Bantry House, the blue cliff, the Whiddy disaster and so much more including, of course, the mussel farming in the huge bay. He is a superb guide to the area and no wonder he is thinking of running this as a tourist attraction in the summer of 2019. Keep an eye out for that! Once I have details, I’ll post them here on the blog.


About two hours later, we were back on dry land. Time then for a rest and a shower before heading to the Fish Kitchen in the heart of Bantry for a delicious meal, enjoyed with a communal table that, by pure chance, included Esther and Joe Barron from the famous bakery in Cappoquin. A great afternoon trip and a terrific evening.

Life Galore in the Irish Pub
2018 Highlights continued...
Hot in the city. Galway in July.

We visited Galway in the high heat of the amazing summer, met some lovely people and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly everywhere we went and that included a visit to Michelin starred Aniar, strolls in the narrow streets, a cooling (not really!) cruise on the Corrib and on the huge lake (biggest in the Republic) but the memory that stands out was our visit to a pub!

We’ve been in some  memorable pubs in recent times, Dick Mack’s (with its micro brewery) in Dingle,  Reidy’s with its uncountable corners and crannies in Killarney, the Swagman and its amazing host Dale in Sligo, and a few more but the King’s Head in Galway is out on its own.

Well worth a call. And there is a bistro here that serves excellent local food - enter through a small archway off the city’s Latin Quarter. Chef Brendan Keane is a keen local and seasonal operator and hopefully Sorcha will be on duty to fill you in on the menu and the specials.

Afterwards, find your way to the adjoining pub and get a seat, by the stage if you want to get close up to the music or maybe by the bar. Our second night was by the bar, excellent choice of drinks here including local craft beers. 
Cocktail time!

And they have an impressive cocktail list here and put on quite a show as they get them ready. In the meantime, you’ll find yourself chatting to customers from all over the place. It won’t be a quiet chat - the music will be loud and lively, just like the street outside. Life con brio.

Another memorable pub was found just a few miles north-east of Cork city. O’Mahony’s of Watergrasshill operates only at weekends but do get there for the food and the fun if you are anywhere close. 


Máire and Victor (you’ll know him from the House Café at the Opera House) have given this two hundred year old pub a new lease of life, the emphasis very much on local food and drink. Old cow sheds have been converted into use - there is a stage in one - as venues for concerts and weddings. New soul in the old stones and well worth a visit for its lovely food and lovely people.

Michelin Stars in a Row.
More to follow!
Daikon, bamboo shoot (Ichigo ichi

Michelin stars are like the No. 8 bus (sorry, it’s 208 now, ask Billy Murphy of the Young Offenders); you wait, and wait, and then three come together. Just three? There are a few more waiting in the wings.

The anointed threesome in Cork (Ichigo Ichie, The Mews, and Chestnut) are now well-known but I’ve been flirting with a few others. Reckon Pilgrims should be up there with a bib at least while Bastion should be up a notch from the bib. Missed out on Dillon's but on the list for 2019! Enjoyed myself in both of them in 2018 and the highlight was the meal in Ichigo Ichi - before it got the star.
Pollock, pine, at Aniar


Outside of Cork, Aniar (star) and Aldridge Lodge (bib) were also visited this year. By the way, if you’re lucky enough to dine and get one of the three rooms to overnight in Aldridge, consider yourself doubly lucky as breakfast here is also a star treat!


Festivals: Amazing Street Fest in Clon!
2018 Highlights

Food and food related festivals continue to pop up all over the country. Relatively new ones, such as FEAST in East Cork, are thriving, along with well established events such as A Taste of West Cork. The Old Butter Road Festival, mainly in North Cork, enjoyed a good year. Didn’t get to too many outside of Cork this year but had a quick and appetising day trip to Harvest Festival (to a Blaa event) in Waterford city.

There was quite an excellent Cheese festival too at the Cork Airport Hotel, a great cheese dinner on one night and some new cheeses on display in the many stalls on the following days. And the regular long-table was again a huge hit on Cork’s South Mall with over 400 diners.


For me though, the festival where food and fun totally and seamlessly combined was the Clonakilty Street Carnival. Long tables galore here on the main street, even one for the kids. Much more for the young folks too with games and music. Music too on various platforms for the attendees in general. And very impressive numbers with over 2,000 adults fed, by the town’s leading restaurants, for fifteen euro a head!


Variations on the Irish Breakfast
2018 Highlights
Plaice Plus at Aldridge Lodge

In the queue at Nash 19 the other day (coffee and scone for me), I was drooling at the elements of the Full Irish inside the counter. I already had had breakfast but those rashers and sausages etc certainly looked very good indeed. Another excellent one, that I fully enjoyed, was served in mid-summer at De Barra Lodge near Rosscarbery

Rarely go out for breakfast so it’s mostly in hotels and B&Bs that I sample the traditional Full Irish. Sometimes, I ask for the cut-down version: “one of everything”. 

And sometimes I ask for the fish, if there is one. 

Increasingly, there is a fish option. The very best (usually plaice, served simply) is to be found in the Garryvoe Hotel or its cousin across the bay, the Bayview. Superb stuff, especially if you’d had a hard night.

Last month, I had the good luck to dine and stay in Aldridge House on the beautiful Hook Peninsula in County Wexford. I will soon be publishing a full post on the dinner and the stay. I had an inkling that the breakfast would be good.

And when owner-chef Billy Whitty told me plaice was on the menu, I jumped at it. They have a Michelin bib here and Billy improved on the simple plaice, turning it into a marine version of the Full Irish.

Very hard to beat his magnificent plate of fresh and delicious plaice that came with a poached egg (choice of hen or duck), tomatoes and a Portobello mushroom. All that after a terrific starter of a yogurt pot with hazelnuts and raspberry. 

Pancakes are also very popular around the country at breakfast time and I’ve enjoyed a few in recent months, the best hotel offering probably that at the lovely Lyrath Estate in Kilkenny. 

The very best though came closer to home, in the spring, at the Crawford Gallery Café where they served up American style buttermilk pancakes, with delicious bacon, yogurt, blueberries and bananas and Maple syrup of course. Amazing flavours and textures. Simply irresistible! 
Pancakes at the Crawford Gallery Café
No bacon at another excellent Cork venue, the terrific Good Day Deli. But, early in the year, they had excellent Poached Pear Pancakes with coconut mascarpone and a drizzle of Irish honey. A morning winner from this sustainable foods champion. Another non-meat venue is the Candied Hazelnut in Waterford and here I enjoyed their Blueberry Pancake Stack with Maple Syrup.

Will the plaice or the pancakes displace the Full Irish? Maybe not on their own but there are other factors at play here and you can expect to see even more variety on the Irish breakfast plate.

* Have you a great breakfast offering? Email: cork.billy@gmail.com

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Taste of the Week. Wicklow Bán Brie


Taste of the Week
Wicklow Bán Brie

Encouraged by the immediate success of their multi-award winning Wicklow Blue, the Hempenstalls soon followed up with this equally delightful creamy brie cheese.

The family have been making cheese since 2005 and they credit the farm’s proximity to the Irish Sea with adding a distinctive flavour all of its own to these seductively addictive Wicklow Farmhouse cheeses. And this is distinctive. It is mild, creamy and buttery and our Taste of the Week.

Apples, berries, pears and many other juicy fruits are known to pair well with Brie. We came across another variation. We just happened to have some dried baby figs (from the Olive Stall in the English Market) in the house and they, along with a few grapes, made for a delicious plateful. If you want to make it even better, add a glass of that gorgeous Pom ‘O from Killahora Orchards.

Wicklow Farmhouse cheese is widely available. I got this piece at On the Pig’s Back in Cork’s English Market.

Curranstown House, 
Arklow, 
Co. Wicklow
Phone: +353 (0) 402 91713 
Mobile: +353 (0) 872515980 
Web: www.wicklowfarmhousecheese.ie

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

"We work on what the year gives us". Evening Visit to Killahora Orchards

"We work on what the year gives us"
 
Evening Visit to Killahora Orchards

A group of members of the Munster Wine & Dine spent a very enjoyable evening on a tour and tasting at Killahora Orchards near Glounthaune yesterday (Tuesday). Barry was our enthusiastic guide as we got both our whistles and our feet (aside from those who had brought wellies) wet in a most delightful way. 

Some of us had already marked Killahora products, including Johnny Fall Down cider, the Pom 'O Apple Port and their unique Rare Apple ice wine, among our favourite things. Those who hadn't come across them before were converted on this tour and tasting. And Barry (and his cousin Dave) who are responsible for this innovative orchard have more in the pipeline.

For more details on Killahora Orchards please check my January post here. Photos (and a few comments) from Tuesday's tour follow.

Blossom on a very young red fleshed apple tree. Rosé Cider?

Barry (striped top) finds a very stragglers under the crab tree. Lots of chat from Barry including pruning tips
and also the fact that cows don't like tannins!

Spray in the more established but still young orchard. The pears behind have already shed their blossom.

Promise of good things to come

Cork Harbour views from the orchards, above and below


Checking on how the grafts are taking.

Keeping out the rabbits. "We thought at first we and the rabbits
were on the same hymn-sheet but soon found out they
had their own agenda."

In full bloom. Not a crab tree, but a wilding and one of the most promising they found in the hedgerows/
It is coming in for particular attention "grafting the bejasus out of it". "We're going to keep
the wild ones going, to include in our mix."

The tasting line-up (some of it!). "We work on what the year gives us."
"In the cidery, we do as little as possible to it."

Another view of Cork Harbour

This Killahora tree appears on the Pom'O label.


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Taste of the Week. Killahora Rare Apple Ice-Wine

Taste of the Week

Killahora Rare Apple Ice-Wine
Barry (left) and Dave
show their amazing ice wine.

This superb drink, particularly with its aromas and finish, speaks very much of the orchard, maybe even a touch of warm apple tart. Mostly, there is on the palate a well-balanced tension between the dry and the sweet, a sweetness that is not at all sticky. “A bittersweet symphony,” they say themselves. Not a bad summing up of our Taste of the Week.

There was a lot of love expressed for it on Twitter when it made its public debut recently. One enthusiast was so impressed that she cancelled her standing order for importing Canadian Ice Wine!

How do they make it? The juice of their rare apples (114 varieties growing here on south facing slopes) is concentrated using freezing temperatures and slowly thawed. The resulting beautiful deep and rich must is slowly fermented for a year and stopped before completion, leaving half of the apple sugars intact…nothing is added, so the abv is a low 10.8%.

I came across this a few months back as a matching drink for the superb cheese menu at SpitJack. Beautiful and rich, it was perfect with the cheeses that we had and with the Ardsallagh Ash Pyramid in particular. More recently, I got the same magnificent result with the St Tola Ash Log, the two premium products mutually enhancing.

And where is Killahora? You might well ask. If you are lucky enough to get a bottle of the Ice Wine you’ll see a corner of an ordnance survey map from 1837 showing an orchard here on these warm slopes close to the village of Glounthaune just east of Cork City. Well over a hundred types of rare apples growing here now and it is here too that the bittersweet cider Johnny Fall Down is produced.

Killahora
Glounthaune
Co.Cork
PHONE 021 486 8177