Showing posts with label Kinsale. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kinsale. Show all posts

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Kinsale Hotel & Spa. A Hidden Gem With Stunning Views.


Kinsale Hotel & Spa. A Hidden Gem With Stunning Views 
Room with a view

In 1837, Rathmore House, the seat of J. Thomas Cramer,  was " a handsome mansion embosomed in flourishing plantations”. The house is no longer there but the splendid Kinsale Hotel and Spa far exceeds anything that Mr Cramer would have offered his 19th century guests. Set in the midst of 90 acres of Rathmore parkland, with terrific sea views, this hotel is truly an eye-opener, a hidden gem, and one that deserves to be better known.
20 metre pool

Now, with the previous staff enlivened by a new management team, renovation is ongoing and there is a spring in the collective step, according to Aoife Lohse, Sales and Marketing Manager, as she gave me the tour starting in the spectacular lobby.

The team here are happy to cater for weddings of any size, from 40 to 240 in the magnificent Rathmore Suite. And don’t forget they have an outdoor option as well, used as recently as May 4th for a civil wedding. And remember it doesn’t have to be a wedding. Any large function, even a party, can be accommodated here.
One of the terraces, with another just above

Weddings though are well suited to the hotel. There’s a covered walkway for the bride and groom to use on arrival. And, with those 90 acres, there’s no shortage of scenic places to take those photos. “It is a one shop stop,” says Aoife.

Relax!
When you book a room in the Kinsale Hotel, you are sure of a view. On one side, you’ll wake up to the sights and sounds of running water, a beautifully landscaped area on a steep slope between the main building and the lodges (more on those later). On the other side, there are splendid views over the Oysterhaven inlet.

And the rooms are excellent, from the Classic through the Executive and Superior to those extra-spacious and supremely comfortable Suites. Something for everyone, for couples or families. The Classic sleeps up to 2 adults and 2 children and has everything you need for a truly relaxing break away. 
The woodland view

The other rooms will have more equipment, better views over the bay perhaps, but all are excellent with something in the range to suit most budgets.  Besides, the Kinsale offers Accessible Rooms giving you the same level of luxury, complete with peace of mind. These  are designed for wheelchair access and feature accessible bathrooms to ensure that you're comfortable and secure during your stay.

Spa
In addition to the hotel itself, there are some twenty self-catering lodges in the grounds, quite close to the hotel and reached by a covered walkway (you can do B&B if you prefer!). These are very family orientated, very popular for extended family gatherings and also for hen parties. The lodges are of various sizes and are being refurbished.

If the fully equipped gymnasium is not enough for you, or if you find all the gear too daunting, why not take a walk in the grounds. Lots of space in  the 90 acres of parklands and over 5 kilometres of paved walkways.


Like a swim? You’ll enjoy the amazing 20 metre pool here. It’s got a huge window running on one side with great views out over the countryside and the inlets. And the sauna and steam room are among the most generously proportioned around. The facilities here are very popular and the gym and leisure centre has some 700 members. There is also a fully equipped Elemis Spa, quite an experience, from initial contact through the various stages and finally the rest room!
Preparing for a wedding

The Rockpool Restaurant has been renovated recently. Those of you who have been there previously will be amazed with all the light streaming in from the side windows, the effect enhanced by the fact that the old partitions have been taken down. You’ll have great views as you look out those windows.

And some tasty stuff to look at on your plate also. A new dinner menu was launched just last week. Snacks include some tasty small plates ranging from a Chicken Kebab to an Oyster Bay Open Crab Sandwich. Starters include choices from Kinsale Bay Mussels to Oysterhaven Bay Scampi.
Enjoyed this lunch dish (Wild Atlantic Hake)

They offer quite a range of main dishes. The fish lover is well catered for with Wild Atlantic Fillet of Hake, Monkfish Fillet, maybe the Oysterhaven Bay Fish ’n Chips. No shortage of meat options either with Wagyu Beef Burger, rack of Irish lamb and Steak listed. You’ll also find Salads, Curry, Chicken Supreme, and a Homemade Vegan Burger.
Sautéed Chicken Salad at lunchtime

And you’ll have dessert, Of course! Pick from the Mango Banoffee Pie, the Raspberry Belgian Chocolate Ganache Tart (I’ll have that, please), the Almond and Pistachio Cake, the White Chocolate Cheesecake and the spectacular Kinsale Hotel Signature Sundae (maybe I’ll have that!). Choices galore.
Lemon posset

The corporate side is very important here and they have great relationships with local firms whether for entertaining, team-buildings (they have their own private beach) and more. They have not just one heli-pad, but two.


Lots of complimentary onsite parking for the motorist too! All the bedrooms have WiFi, Saorview TV, Tea & Coffee making facilities, Iron & Ironing Board, Elemis Spa at Home products and 32” flat screen televisions and more. 

The hotel not alone has lovely surroundings but is very well located, close to the airport and the city, on the doorstep of Kinsale and its renowned food culture, and West Cork is just a short drive away. So much to see and do in this area.

The Kinsale, as Aoife saysm, it quite a one-stop shop: Weddings, Spa, Girl's Getaway, Corporate, Family Breaks, Health Club, Active Retirement Breaks, Dining. Check it all out at www.hotelkinsale.ie 


Sunday, April 28, 2019

Carole's Back with Crackpots Encore.


Carole's Back with Crackpots Encore. 
Hake
It’s a big bravo to Carole Norman on her return to the Kinsale restaurant scene. Three years ago, she closed the doors on the original Crackpots. But couldn’t stay away and you’ll find her now every weekend at Crackpots Encore in Cork Street. You’ll also find a warm welcome, good food based mostly in local produce and, if it’s a Friday evening, you’ll have the bonus of Billy Crosbie on the piano and a guest (or two, perhaps!). 
Platter

Carole has that hospitality gene in abundance and the trademark warm welcome had us settled even before we are seated and studying the menu. A menu with a twist. Instead of starters, you are offered Platters. Have one for yourself or order a bigger one for sharing. Great variety and good value too. And yes, you may also have soup, oysters perhaps, mussels too.

Those Platters include Spanish Tapas, Patés on Parade and a Seafood Platter with prawns, oysters, mussels, and smoked salmon included. Hard to resist the superb Taste of Ireland (Irish cheese and charcuterie, including spiced beef from the local butcher just up the street) and a helping of Ballymaloe Relish! 

The table tops are a decent size here but if you get one of those large platters, it makes for a tight squeeze. A delicious one though as we found out when we shared the Middle Eastern, a board loaded with Falafels, creamy Hummus, pomegranate tabouleh, roasted aubergine, artichoke hearts, olives, toasted pitta breads, stuffed vine-leaves.
Curry

There is a long wine list here, quite a few available by the glass as well. All kinds of spirits too and some gorgeous cocktails. I went for the local Black’s beer, always enjoy their superb ale.

Chef John Paul McCarthy comes into his own with the Plat du Jour, which features a short but ever-changing list of main courses with something guaranteed for fish lovers, meat eaters and something too for the vegan/vegetarian. You might find a Rib-eye steak, a pan-seared chicken supreme, a Monkfish red Thai curry, or a  mixed bean chilli, for example.
A classic

Our set of choices included a Baked fillet of Hake with teriyaki glaze on shredded Pak Choi, chilli and garlic and with basmati rice (or fries) and it was perfectly cooked, well presented and a terrific combination. We choose the rice and that also featured in another excellent dish: Chicken Massaman Curry, slow cooked in Thai spices and coconut milk and served with basmati rice and a green salad.

Other mains on offer on the night included Roasted Cauliflower cutlets, with a smoked tomato and red pepper sauce and olive tapenade and a Rib-eye with caramelised red onions, peppercorn sauce and hand-cut chips.

We had made an early start and as we were looking at the dessert menu, the punters were streaming in. It was Friday night and it was obvious that quite a few regulars had booked around this time, knowing that Billy Crosbie would soon be tinkling those ivories. He soon was and the lovely buzz increased. From Abba to Andy Williams, Beatles to Buble – Billy can play “almost” anything!!

We just had to be somewhere else later on but enjoyed our sample of Crackpots craic as we shared a dessert. Like some of Mr Crosbie’s numbers, this was a classic: Poached Pears in mulled red wine. And it was a terrific version. The list is short but also includes an excellent Irish cheese plate. If you’d like something small with your coffee, you can treat yourself to the local Koko chocolates. Pity we had to go. Next time we’ll give yourselves more time at Crackpots Encore.

3 Cork St, Kinsale, Co. Cork
tel: 087 649 1322

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Delicious Food and No Plastic at Kinsale Street Feast

Kinsale Street Feast

The All-Ireland Chowder Cook-Off will take pride of place in Kinsale today (2.00pm) but yesterday it was the turn of the Street Feast. Lots of good food and fun and a big "NO!" to  plastic. I got down there early but not early enough to get one of the 150 lobster rolls that Bastion sold out in an hour! But there were plenty of other excellent offerings to taste and enjoy.

Best in show. This superb bowl of Chorizo and Bean Stew was my favourite on the day, served up by Chef Daniel Horgan from Man Friday. It was full of flavour and helped lessen the chill from the wind and good value too at €4.00. Also enjoyed the Fish Crumble from Fishy Fishy, the Mussels with Thai style sauce from Finns' Table, and the Moroccan Lamb Stew from Max. Most restaurants had at least two dishes on offer.
Julie Finn (right) serving.

"Not too much of that street food down here!"

The Barrett burgers were popular!
High Tide

Claire O'Brien (Gan Gluten) greets an old friend

Fishy Fishy's Fish Crumble

Gubbeen chorizo and cheese from Black Pig Wine Bar.

Street corner musicians
Bastion Sold out their lobster rolls in double quick time. But they did have Prosecco on tap!

Gourmet Pantry


Choices!




Monday, March 4, 2019

Mellot Sancerre. Surprise Tasting In Kinsale's Finns' Table


Mellot Sancerre. Surprise Tasting
 In Kinsale's Finns' Table
On a stony hill in Sancerre

Quelle surprise! In Finns’ Table Kinsale recently, we were delighted to have the opportunity, totally unexpected, to talk with Olivier of Joseph Mellot wines from Sancerre. 

It was late in the evening when Olivier arrived but he was as enthusiastic as if it were a sunny morning by the banks of famous Loire. 

“It’s a very long story,” he said, referring to the family’s history in the area. It began in 1513! In the 17th century, the family obviously knew their wine well enough for César Mellot to be appointed sommelier to Louis XIV, this paving the rue for a long dynasty of passionate winemakers. Sancerre by the way, is as close to Paris as it is to Tours and then too the kings regularly visited the chateaux on the Loire.

In the 20th century, Alphonse Mellot, is the first winemaker of Sancerre to exhibit his wines at the Foire de Paris and to win several medals in wine and culinary events. He then opened a warehouse in the Halle aux vins of Bercy to develop his sales in the capital. 

Nowadays, Joseph Mellot wines are sold in over 40 countries, and distributed here in Ireland by Longueville Wines. And Longueville was represented in Finns Table by none other than Eoghan O’Hea who I hadn’t set eyes on since his Tennents days.

The soil of course goes back even further, tens of millions of years. “The ocean has been here twice,” said Olivier. Flint dominates the soil now and it and Sauvignon Blanc get on very well together. “It is a well draining soil, gives lots of aromatics and minerality. Last but not least, the sun warms the stones and if you walk in the vines at 11.00pm, you’ll find it 2-4 degrees warmer then elsewhere as the warm stones return the heat to the vines. The night-time warmth encourages the grapes to ripen, an earlier harvest. Amazing.”

The Mellot vineyard is on hills in Sancerre, at 450 metres altitude, above the River Loire which still has some 500 kms to travel before it reaches the Atlantic. Wine-Searcher says Sancerre is typically less "obvious" than the most famous New World styles of Sauvignon Blanc; less grassy than those from Marlborough and less overtly citrussy than those from Chile. Once upon a time, Sancerre made mostly red wines but now their Pinot Noir accounts for just about 20% of wine. But that may change again with global warming!

Julie Finn had been gently and generously introducing us to the wines before Olivier’s arrival. The red was Le Connétable, Cuvée Prestige, a red Sancerre of character! The fruit is raised on those hillsides rich in flint. It is matured in oak barrel for one year, local French oak that is, and then one year in bottle before release. 

It boasts an aromatic persistence with notes of blackberry and cherry.  Matched perfectly my starter of beef brisket and CL’s main course of lamb.

We also enjoyed the Domaine de Bellecours 2016, a delicious Sauvignon Blanc with a pale gold colour and aromas of tropical fruit. Palate shows elegant balance of freshness and fruit. Superb with the restaurant’s Oysterhaven mussels starter and later with the Seafood Bourride (Provencal fish stew).

Cuvée Pierre Etienne 2015 is another Sauvignon Blanc, smooth and elegant and quite a treat. Beautiful yellow/golden colour, sign of the ageing in barrel which has also tamed the strong mineral character of the younger wines. Generous and intense, with a nice aromatic persistence. 

This cuvée was created in tribute to the founder of the Mellot dynasty, Pierre Etienne, and his descendants. It is vinified only in the best vintages and just 3,000 bottles are produced. The front and neck labels are reproductions from the 1930s. We were really privileged to sample this on the night! A mega merci to Julie and John!







Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Always a Warm Welcome at The Trident Hotel Kinsale


Always a Warm Welcome at The Trident Hotel Kinsale

Always enjoy going back to the Trident Hotel in Kinsale. The views from the bedrooms, any of their 75 rooms, are striking. The hotel is spectacularly set on the water's edge in Kinsale, in a prime location for guests to enjoy the views of the harbour. And quite often the sun is shining! As it was last week when we called. The Trident has a private marina and onsite parking (very handy in the busy seaside town).

The hotel, under manager Hal McElroy, has been through an extensive upgrade and its interiors are now looking splendid as well. We stayed in one of those refurbished bedrooms and we had splendid views of the harbour. The decor is restful and the spacious room had all we needed, including hairdryer (well, I didn't need that!) and tea-maker.
Room with a view

The welcome here is always warm but it got that little bit better last Monday (18th) when we were told we were upgraded. We enjoyed that. While walking along the corridors, I was struck by the restful colour combination, mainly white and grey on the walls, blue and grey in the carpet, and a little extra colour in the curtains. All very peaceful throughout. A really lovely place to stay, good rooms, good food, and just about four minutes from the very heart of the town.
Sandycover, near Kinsale

Kinsale itself has quite a lot to offer. It has often been called the Gourmet Capital of Ireland. You’ll get some arguments from other areas no doubt but Kinsale was awarded The Restaurants Association of Ireland’s ‘Top Foodie Town’ in the 2018 competition. 

The Trident and its manager are key players in Kinsale, long-time members of the town’s Good Food Circle which believe it or not are now taking bookings for the annual Gourmet Festival. Dates this year, for the 43rd running of this famous and fun event, are 11th to 13th of October. 
Safe harbour
For more info, check "Kinsale Good Food Circle - 43rd Kinsale Gourmet Festival”. Before that though, the Good Food Circle will host the National Chowder Championships in April with a street food festival on the same weekend (6/7 April 2019). 
Charlesfort

If you visit the town, you’ll be assured of good places to stay and terrific restaurants and café, and you’ll be well set up for some fabulous sightseeing. Charlesfort overlooks the harbour and is perhaps the biggest attraction in the town. It is open all year and regular guided tours are available. Well worth a visit and you can also see it from the water if you take one of the popular Kinsale harbour cruises.

Desmond Castle, an even older building in the heart of the town, is open during the season. It is also known locally as the French Prison. Built originally as a customs house, it now includes a wine museum as one of its attractions.
Lusitania Museum and the Old Head

The nearby coast includes many small coves that are worth a visit (see here) and not too far away there is the large beach at Garrettstown, the waters here also popular with surfers. On the way, you may stop and admire the famous Old Head of Kinsale and visit the nearby Signal Tower and Lusitania Museum.

Kinsale, often called the gateway to West Cork (see my West Cork Package), is your starting point on the Wild Atlantic Way. It is hardly 30 minutes from Cork City, even less from the airport and not too far away from the ferryport of Ringaskiddy.
In the harbour

Our latest visit was prompted by Kinsale Restaurant Week, a very successful event that finished up on the 24th of February. We had a great meal, a great night indeed, in Finns’ Table, another member of the Good Food Circle. 
Blacks Ale

Breakfast view at the Trident
Finished the night with a pint of local beer (from Blacks Micro-Brewery and Distillery) in the Trident’s Wharf Bar. And said goodbye to the Trident after a hearty breakfast in Pier One, their main restaurant, used mainly for breakfast and functions. 

The lively Wharf Bar downstairs will keep you well fed during the day and evening. And in the good weather, at the water’s edge, the Trident have their self contained Foredeck Bar with some seating for your comfort.

Oh, the hospitality continued at the breakfast table when we were surprised with the gift of a bottle of wine from Anthony of the Trident and congrats from all the servers. He knew we had been been celebrating our 50th anniversary at Finns’ Table. Thanks to Anthony and the Trident. And, before you ask, we didn’t open the lovely Sancerre at breakfast!

Also on this Kinsale trip:
Dinner at Finns' Table
Surprise Mellot Sancerre Tasting at Finns' Table



Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Finns’ Table Highlights Kinsale Can-do Attitude. Especially when it come to food!


Finns’ Table Highlights Kinsale Can-do Attitude
Especially when it comes to food!
Beef Brisket Croquette

Kinsale’s renowned Good Food Circle seem to have backed a winner with their Restaurant Week. The place is abuzz as was Finns’ Table when we walked in there around 7.00pm last Monday. We hadn’t met Julie and chef John with quite a while so it was great to take the opportunity to eat, drink and chat in such a lovely and lively spot.


Julie had reserved the “Love Table” for us, knowing that we were celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary. So we sipped our Veuve Clicquot and soon we were tucking into two delightful mini-loaves from John’s kitchen, a treacle bread and also a potato bread, each different, both delicious.

So, what do they give you for your twenty euro? A choice of four starters and four mains, all really top class. One starter was Mushrooms on toast, crispy hen’s egg and Hollandaise sauce, another was Jerusalem Artichoke soup with honey, almond and rosemary granola.

Not easy to turn down either of those but I picked the Braised Irish Beef Brisket Croquet with celeriac remoulade and horseradish cream. The packed croquet was full of flavour, the remoulade and cream the perfect partners. CL spotted that the local mussels (from nearby Oysterhaven) were enhanced with coconut, coriander, ginger and lemongrass. Oh, the steamed bivalves have rarely been so well accompanied in a bowl.

Joseph Mellot wines from Sancerre - we would meet Olivier from the winery later on in the evening - were produced and much appreciated as the lovely occasion unfolded.

So what would we have for mains?  The quartet on offer were all very tempting indeed. There was a Confit Duck Leg, slow cooked, with Rosscarbery black pudding, and cider braised lentils and also a Vegetarian Wellington (Uncle Tom’s Turnip, Sweet Potato and Bandon Vale Cheddar). 

The Irish Lamb Tasting plate was CL’s choice: Roast Rump, Slow Cooked Neck and Braised Shoulder, with Fondant Potato and Jus. We swapped wines at this point with CL taking the Pinot Noir and I taking the Sauvignon Blanc. The SB proved a perfect match with the exquisite Seafood Bourride, a Provencal style fish stew containing lightly poached local fish and shellfish in saffron broth with garlic aioli and herbs, a delightful  mix of flavours and aromas.
Bourride

I’ve often thought that it is the small things on your plate that can indicate a chef’s skill. And what caught our attention here, in the most delightful way, was the side of Mixed Garden vegetables. No exotic veg included but excellent stuff, superbly cooked and a pure delight on the palate. Still wondering what little extra magic he added here. 

Fair play to the Finns. Since moving to Kinsale from nearby Timoleague about six years ago they have played a full role in the Good Food Circle, as indeed do all the members. Bookings have been brisk for this week’s combined venture and you may find it too late to reserve a place in some venues. 

But two excellent courses for just twenty euro is well worth checking out. The full list involved is: Actons Hotel, The Blue Haven, The Bulman, Jim Edwards, Finns’ Table, Fishy Fishy, Man Friday, The Supper Club, The Trident Hotel, The White House, and The White Lady. The week opened on the 18th and closes on the 24th - no time to lose!
Lamb

The big event for the Good Food Circle comes every October when the annual Gourmet Festival takes place. Dates this year, for the 43rd running of this famous and fun event, are 11th to 13th of October. And, believe it or not, bookings can now be made. Check "Kinsale Good Food Circle - 43rd Kinsale Gourmet Festival”  for further info.

Before that though, the Good Food Circle will host the national Chowder Championships in April with a street food festival on the same weekend (6/7 April 2019). 

Cast Your Vote in the 9th All-Ireland Chowder Cook-Off on Sunday 7th April.  Kinsale Good Food Circle want your help to find the best chowder chef in Ireland. A representative from each of the 32 counties will compete for the title of “All-Ireland Chowder Champion” at the annual All-Ireland Chowder Cook-Off. Everyone attending the event will have a chance to vote for their favourite chowder-chef. The food festival in the streets will be held on the Saturday (6th).

FINNS' TABLE, 6 MAIN STREET, KINSALE. 
Phone:  021 4709636