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Thursday, September 27, 2018
Bastion. Playing in the Irish Top Rank.
The summer was back as we headed towards Bastion in Kinsale on Wednesday last. Late in the season, but the town was still busy, tourists walking around and checking the menus. With the water sparkling and the colourful marina packed, it could have been the Med. What we ate in the Bastion could sit easily on Europe’s top tables. And that puts it in the top rank here.
We even have a window table (good light for the pics!) so the signs are good from the start. And it continues that way with the two breads, a hard to match sourdough and a matchless Brioche. Hard to decide then between the Treacle Butter and the Olive Oil with Balsamic. But no decision necessary - enough to share!
There is a mega wine-list here. Take the reds for example. You may start with a €27.00 bottle, a very nice Vina Albergada for example, and go right up to the famous Penfold’s Grange. The Grange will set you back nine hundred euro or €180.50 per glass. They use the Coravin here so you can indeed sample some of the more expensive wines by the glass.
They have Prosecco on tap and some very interesting Prosecco based cocktails. The Kir Royale (cassis and prosecco) is a superb example of its kind while I was absolutely delighted with my Pisco (elderflower, orange bitters and Prosecco).
By now, the first of our five courses, from the Early Bird Tasting Menu, had arrived. A local oyster, from Oysterhaven; served with apple yogurt, purée and jelly and pickled fennel, this bracing delight of the sea had the taste buds standing up.
The Celeriac Velouté was next, an unctuous sauce in its own container, and, on a little dish, pickled giroles, apple, celeriac mousse and hazelnut oil. Now those taste buds were on full alert.
And their reward was a gorgeous Smoked and Cured Organic Salmon dish. That salmon was superb but the accompaniments, especially the soft goats cheese and the salt-baked beetroot, were also outstanding and the candy walnuts got into this tasty act as well.
The main event was now at hand: Lamb rump, with peas, turnip and preserved lemon. The peas were good but the turnip was something else and there were some pickled rounds of it also. Needless to say, the lamb from the Kerry hills, in its two manifestations (roast and slow-cooked), was spot on.
Desserts, occasionally, don’t match the rest of the meal. Not the case here! Our White Chocolate Panna Cotta, with Pistachio Sponge, cherry sorbet and cherry granola, was a delightful finalé, served in an eye-catching fine china cup.
This superb restaurant, which has gone from strength to strength over the past three years under Helen (front of house) and Paul (Head Chef), supports local producers. In this menu alone, suppliers include Horizon Farm, Padraig O’Donovan fish, while the cheese, the beef and the lamb are all Irish.
It holds the only Michelin bib in Cork city and county and everything you eat here, from the bread to the sweet treat with your coffee, is made in-house. While Bastion faces the same challenges as most other restaurants and cafes in staff recruitment, their service is friendly and attentive (without ever being in your face).
As we walked earlier in the warming September sun towards town centre Bastion, we spotted, in the backwater under Man Friday, a quartet of herons in different trees, all on the alert. There were fish jumping, seemingly without a care in the world. On our return, there were no fish jumping. And the herons looked well satisfied. Like us, they had enjoyed a very good meal!
Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Jim Edwards. A Kinsale Classic.
After All These Years!
|Scallops starter, also available as mains|
Jim Edwards is a renowned restaurant in the renowned foodie town of Kinsale and it has been serving up classic fare since 1971.
And while some of those beloved classics are still on the menu, Jim Edwards is not slow to support new producers and new products in the area. Just a peep at their drinks list confirms this, with Kinsale Mead, Stonewell Cider and beers from Black’s of Kinsale and 9 White Deer (Ballyvourney) on offer.
Local gins include Kinsale gin, Blackwater gin and Black's gin. while local whiskeys include Pogues from West Cork and the world famous Midleton Very Rare. With the best of spirits available, there is no shortage of cocktails. Produce suppliers, some long-standing, are listed on the back of the menu.
And there is no shortage of food choices here. You may dine in the Gastro Pub or in the restaurant. The Gastro Pub menu (including a sandwich selection) and A La Carte menu are available from 12pm to 10pm daily. In addition they have daily specials and a value menu also available all day. No wonder the venue has been declared “a standard bearer in Kinsale's distinguished culinary culture” by the McKenna Guide.
We were glad to see the A La Carte menu available from lunchtime on when we arrived there about one o’clock on a recent Friday. Soon we were seated by the window and reading our way through the choices. By the way, from exchanges at a nearby table, we heard that you can pick and choose from the various menus.
The mussels and oysters come from nearby Haven Shellfish and I picked the rather traditional starter (they don’t really do cutting edge here in any case) of Kinsale Mussels toasted with Garlic Breadcrumbs. Very tasty, with a well prepared salad. And CL too was very pleased with another excellent appetiser, this of Pan Seared Scallops in garlic and basil with a cauliflower purée.
We sipped our Black’s ale as we waited for the mains. Unbeknownst to ourselves we had chosen two house classics and looking back we can appreciate how they’ve stood the test of taste and time. Both were superb.
One is the flavoursome Mint and Herb Crusted Rack of Slaney Valley Lamb with a rosemary and garlic jus. Beautifully cooked, neatly presented, as were all our dishes.
Our other mains was the Medallions of Monkfish, pan fried with ginger, spring onion chill and lime dressing. Another superb combination, no shortage of quality here. And no skimping on quantity either.
And, just in case you haven’t enough, in another nod to tradition, they serve three sides as well: potatoes gratin, seasonal vegetables and fries.
It was a fairly busy lunch service in the restaurant and no problem to the staff as they kept the food coming and helped the customers make their choices, patience needed in some cases!
We did have a look at the dessert menu but, having been well fed, decided to give the sweet stuff a skip and finished off with an excellent cup of Maher’s coffee, another local business supported by Jim Edwards. Roll on the 50th celebrations in 2021!
Sunday, August 26, 2018
Kinsale’s CRU is Grand!
Bubbling with personality
|CRU, at 5 Main Street, Kinsale|
Cru is a relatively new winebar and bistro in Kinsale’s centre and was busy and buzzing when we called recently for dinner. Good simple food is promised here with good wine and music as well. And they deliver on all counts.
And there’s a very warm welcome led by owner Colm Ryan and backed up by the friendly staff. The wine list is pretty extensive ranging from cheap and cheerful to the very serious stuff and all the notes are by the owner who will also be very glad to help you make your choice. Indeed, there is almost a “standing order" here to have fun. Enjoyment is positively encouraged.
Colm has also compiled the music list which blends perfectly into the buzz as the long and narrow room, divided into three sections, fills. There is also a smaller room upstairs, ideal for groups of up to twenty two or so.
|Fish special - Lemon Sole|
No delay here - you soon have the menu and water at your table and either the owner or one of the staff on hand to answer any queries and also to fill you in on the day’s specials. And these specials are seriously worth reading and noting.
Fish is prominent here, on both the regular menu and on the specials. It is a very good place to try oysters if you haven't done so before as they sell them singly here. They come from nearby Haven Shellfish as do the mussels.
Indeed CL started with the Moules Mariniere with the traditional white wine, cream and garlic sauce. They don’t promise cutting edge here, just “simple but high quality food”. And that can be applied to the mussels. And also to my Pan seared scallops with Clonakilty black pudding, pea and mint puree, crispy pancetta. And the Clon mention reminds me to say that there is a definite support here for local producers.
On then to the mains, both fish. My pick, and it was faultless, was the Pan roasted John Dory with salsa verde, basil mash and a side of market vegetables. CL went for the special of Lemon Sole, a couple of delicious fresh fillets with prawns and mussels, samphire, black pepper and lemon butter, crushed baby potato and market veg. Well cooked, well presented and another dish well polished off. Indeed, all of six plates went back empty.
There is also a desserts specials board, quite a few choices. CL is a crumble specialist so she picked the Apple and Blackberry Crumble with crême Anglaise and ice-cream. The fruit was superb here. I meanwhile was tucking into the eye-catching strawberry and lemon curd ice-cream sundae.
Oh, I’d better mention the wines!😀 We enjoyed an Albarino; the Val de Sosego 2017, from Rias Baixas DO, had a great balance of fruit and acidity and went well with the fish. And our second was the Frescobaldi Castello di Pomino 2016, a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, with a lovely rich palate and persistent finish. I think I got more out of this excellent wine while sipping between courses.
Prefer a beer? You’re covered here with craft beers by Eight Degrees, 9 White Deer, Black’s of Kinsale, Clonakilty Brewing Company, all available and also the local Stonewell cider.
So that was it. After another wee chat with Colm, another two happy CRU customers headed out into the calm summer’s evening.
Thursday, June 7, 2018
Kinsale’s Supper Club Now On Main Street
Come on Down. Wine and Dine. Whiskey too
|Crème Brûlée, with a twist!|
Kinsale’s Supper Club, in its new location at 2 Main Street, was buzzing when we arrived on a recent Wednesday. But no problem to the crew there who kept serving up delicious food with a smile.
Maybe we should talk about the drink first. Did you know that all the wines, including bubbles, are available by the glass? And there are some super wines on the list, ranging in price from six euro to over twenty per glass.
The Irish whiskey list is also striking. It’s a long one with well over twenty offerings from Teeling’s Small Batch to the Jameson Rarest Vintage Reserve. And then they have cocktails galore, divided into Classics and House.
You might never make it past the bar. And that’s all part of the Supper Club, also a social club. Come in for a glass of wine, a cocktail, a beer or a whiskey and have a few nibbles with it, such as a few oysters (from nearby Oysterhaven of course!) to a Charcuterie Board.
The food menu is not as lengthy as the whiskey one but you do get a great choice, further enhanced by the fact that certain dishes (mussels, risotto, the charcuterie board) come in large and small sizes.
|Coq au Vin|
For my starter I was looking at the Crumbed Durrus Farmhouse Cheese with Roast Shallot & Cranberry Relish before going for their €8.00 Classic Chicken Caesar Salad (Crispy Cos Lettuce, Caesar Dressing, Garlic Croutons, Parmesan Shavings). Delighted with it, one of the best around. CL too was happy, having picked the Thai version of the Steamed Pot of Oysterhaven Mussels (9.00). The other style is Chardonnay, Garlic, Fennel & Cream.
Our wines were now being put to the test and each came up trumps. We had settled on the Guillemarine Picpoul de Pinet (8.10) from the Languedoc and the Rigal Malbec (8.10) from Cahors.
Time then for the mains and the high standard was maintained, the staff busy but going about the place with pace, precision and patience, always time to answer a query or check if everything was okay. And it was, all the way.
CL picked the Coq au Vin (18.00) and enjoyed the Kinsale version (as against the Dordogne version!), a superb Breast & Thigh braised in red wine with shallots and mushrooms, Baby Carrots, Truffle Mash. The mash, by the way, was outstanding. My sauce, a tomato and wild garlic seasonal one, was also outstanding in my Fish of the Day dish, a fresh as could be and generous piece of John Dory (26.50).
Dessert was offered. It comes in two series, the usual “solid” one and the less usual “liquid”. The latter included a Tiramisu Cocktail (Absolut Vanilla, Kahlua, Creme de Cacao, Butterscotch, Cream, Mascarpone), also a Lemon Meringue Pie (Absolut, Limoncello, Lemon Curd, Meringue).
We resisted and were tempted by the Apple Tarte Tatin but then spotted the Salted Caramel Crème Brûlée with Hazlenut Puff Pastry Swirl (7.00). We shared that beauty and were hardly a mouthful into it when we were thinking we should have ordered two! This is so good. They’ve put a fair bit of work into getting this right, we were told, and it is right, more than right, very highly recommended if you get the chance, as is indeed the Supper Club experience itself.
The Supper Club
2 Main Street
Phone: (021) 470 9233
Monday, April 23, 2018
Danny Martinez Doyle’s Hiberno-Iberian Special
is Champion in Kinsale All Ireland Chowder Cook Off
|No doubt about it, Cronin's chowder was a winner, many "came back for seconds and thirds".|
Note Danny's little helper.
Sunshine and fish drew the crowds to Sunday’s All Ireland Chowder Cook Off at Acton’s Hotel on Kinsale. And they were ready, quite a shoal crowding in at the first minute to sample the dozens of chowders on offer from most parts of the country. There were entries from Antrim to Beara and from Kenmare to Kildare, 26 in all.
|Head Chef Lee Mastin serving up a beauty from Sligo's Draft House|
At the end, there were big congratulations for the winner, Dan Cronin’s Bar and Bistro from Newcastlewest, County Limerick, led by Chef Danny Martinez Doyle. Donegal’s Waterfront Hotel were second while the Marine Hotel from Ballycastle, Co.Antrim, got the nod for third.
The large marquee was packed as CL and myself tasted our way around. Quite a few of the stands were pro-active and had staff meeting and greeting you out on the floor with their samples. The standard was high and both of us had the top three (not necessarily in that order) on our shortlists along with a few more.
|Tasty canapés from the Waterfront Hotel|
Indeed, we had sampled Danny's excellent chowder - they described it as an Irish-Spanish combination - early on, a little chorizo among the elements lifting it well out of the ordinary and we put a star on it straight away.
|Ready for the off in sunny Kinsale|
The Waterfront had some lovely seafood canapés on their table and a very nice chowder as well, nicely seasoned with a high proportion of shellfish.
|Mike from the Cornstore checks out the crowd|
I didn't come to the Marine Hotel until late in my round but immediately noted it as a contender, the seaweed based chowder an innovative and delicious bowl. I think if it had been up to the two of us, this would have been the winner!
Cork’s Cornstore are noted for their fish offering and they certainly came up with something different, a very tasty clam and bacon chowder served in the hollow of a parmesan bun. And not just chowder; they also provided a mini-dessert of posset.
|The Waterfront, a popular stop|
Some jazzed up their offerings with alcohol, one had brandy, while the Cork Airport Hotel used Eight Degrees beer. Quinlan’s had a more traditional embellishment, a delicious crab claw. They and Cornstone were also on our short-lists.
There were some very tasty breads on offer but I’m afraid we didn't manage to sample very many of them. There is only so much you can eat! The bread from Jinny’s Bakery was excellent but the best that we tasted was the Seaweed Sourdough from Kelly’s of Wexford.
|I enjoyed this one from the Marine Hotel|
In between, we found the calm of the smaller adjoining marquee and refreshed with a reviving sample of Black’s new rum, thanks to Sam and Maudeline, the busy couple behind the go-ahead local brewery and distillery.
|Liam Quinlan greets visitors to his stand|
So big congratulations to Danny and his Newcastlewest crew on their well deserved win. It was their first time entering and they take over from the 2017 champions the Beara Coast Hotel who gave it their best shot again this time.
There was huge delight in County Limerick gastro-pub: “The response to Danny’s Chowder was just incredible as many came back for seconds and thirds and looking for the recipe! Huge congratulations and very well done to Danny, Fiona and all the team”. And so say all of us! And well done also to the organisers, the Kinsale Good Food Circle.
|The overflow at the back door!|
Thursday, April 12, 2018
Kinsale’s Trident Hotel. Spectacular, Inside and Out
|View from the Bridal Suite|
Kinsale’s Trident Hotel must be one of the most spectacularly situated hotels in the country. Whenever I enter a room there, the view over the water makes me stop and look.
And that was even more the case recently as I was part of a group being shown the renovated bedrooms, all with new linen and pillows. The hotel is three-sided (the water completes the square) and all rooms have a view of the water. There are 75 in all, all with breath-taking views of a part of the Bandon River estuary, the harbour or the busy port and pier.
|In the Bridal Suite|
The Bridal Suite is probably the most stunning. It has an expanded view of the water, at least on two sides, and you can see it even better once you stroll out to its exclusive balcony. Again it is beautifully decorated, with living and loving areas. Even spotted a copy of the Kingdom of Wine by local author Ted Murphy among the distractions there. By the way, it is not just newly-married couples that end up here! So start working on the love of your life and get him or her down here.
The smallest rooms (and they are not really small) are the Superior. This class has just a shower, no bath. But it shares much the same outstanding decor as the others, the colours of the fabrics and the walls, all calm and soothing. 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.
|Evening view from Pier One restaurant|
The Executive Rooms are very popular. They have thirty of them, ten on each floor, extremely well equipped and very spacious and possibly with the more expansive of the views.
And if you are bringing the family, they have just the room for you. The Family Rooms are just that bit more roomy with a large sofa (doubles as a pull-out bed) for the kids or maybe it’s for the tired Mom and Dad.
The Signature suites are perched on the water's edge, with breath-taking views of Kinsale harbour from the large floor to ceiling windows and private balcony overlooking Kinsale harbour. You’ll enjoy additional comfort and space, a super king size bed, an Nespresso machine and more.
Pier One, again with a great view, is the restaurant. It is used mainly for large group events, such as wine tastings. And it is also where’ll you’ll get breakfast. They lay on quite a spread here, with real cheese and ham included. Loads of fruit too, plus breads and cereals. And a choice of hot dishes of course, including the full Irish (and any variation you wish) and a fish option. I choose the latter on this occasion and certainly enjoyed my two fillets of plaice (which I think a passing seagull fancied as he lingered outside the window).
Downstairs is the busy Wharf Bar and it is here that most of the daily dining, including dinner, takes place. They have a new menu and manager Hal McElroy and his staff, led by chefs Shirley Forde and Frank O’Reilly, had quite a tasting set up for our group of visitors that included many service providers in the local tourist industry.
The food (and drink!) was all arranged in the spacious Pier One as the Wharf was, of course, busy serving evening meals to the residents. Lots of local suppliers mentioned on the menu including Riverview Eggs, Quigley Meats, John Barrett butcher, Shannonvale, Clona and Sean Bohan, Matt O’Connell, Haven Shellfish, Horizon Farms, Pallas Green and Allfresh.
Not surprisingly, the fish samples caught my attention. The Stir-fried Fillet of Monkfish & Mussels on a bed of basmati rice and with its mild creamy curry sauce was a stand-out. Then again the Seared fillet of sea bass with sugar snap peas also impressed as did the slider of the Wharf Burger.
Lots of other tempting dishes on the new menu including Chicken Supreme, John Barrett’s local Sirloin Steak, the Aged Irish Lamb Rump, Kinsale Seafood Bake, George's Homemade Chicken Goujons, Traditional Fish and Chips, and the Pea and Broad Bean Risotto. Fairly priced too with prices ranging from 12.95 to 24.95.
|Sweet tasters in Pier One, with a Knuttel on the wall.|
Some tempting starters too, everything from Mussels Mariniere to Wild Mushroom Gratin to a sharing Plate of West Cork Charcuterie (featuring Gubbeen chorizo). There is a full bar here of course with local beer and cider featured and a varied wine list too. A Loire Sauvignon blanc will cost you €6.50 a glass and if the budget stretches you may enjoy a bottle of Chateau Corbin Michotte St Emilion Grand Cru 2006 for €80.00.
You’ll find some of the same dishes on the Daytime Menu. The big difference at lunch is the Ultimate Sandwich section. You may have the Smoked Atlantic Salmon Salad, perhaps the Wharf Toasted Special, maybe the Smoked Bacon BLT. Fancy something more substantial? Then the Seared John Barrett Steak Baguette will surely fit the bill!
After all that, I dropped down to the Wharf to finish off the enjoyable evening. This bar has a nautical feel – designed by local yacht designer, Rob Jacob, to resemble elements of an old sailing ship, it is complete with portholes, decking, vaulted panel & beam ceiling and rope-wound galleon masts. And once the weather picks up, you can drink al fresco at the Foredeck Bar on the water’s edge with outdoor seating and splendid views of the harbour and estuary.
|Check the ships as they come and go|
* Just a reminder from Trident manager Hal McElroy about the 8th annual All-Ireland Chowder Cook-Off 2018, which will take place in Kinsale, Co Cork on Sunday 22nd April. This hugely popular event, hosted by the town’s Good Food Circle and an association of local restaurants, sees restaurants, cafés and bars compete to become the “All-Ireland Chowder Champion”.
|Serious reading for the bride and groom!|
Sunday, January 21, 2018
Kinsale’s Engaging Lemon Leaf Café
Contender in this week's Burger Fest.
Contender in this week's Burger Fest.
If you are in the Kinsale area and looking for great food in a relaxed atmosphere, serving local ingredients and the finest coffees, teas, breakfast, brunch, lunch and baked desserts, then the Lemon Leaf Café on the Main Street, just three minutes from the big central car park, is the place for you.
You’ll get a big welcome from Tracy Keoghan and from her staff. Tracy has owned and operated the Lemon Leaf since 2010. There are two big rooms here although many customers gravitate towards the glass roofed one, so bright and airy. And when the weather improves a bit, there is an outdoor area too. If you are a regular here, you’ll know all about their Loyalty Card.
A new menu is on the cards from Chef Gavin by the end of January but you can be sure that some old favourites will still be there. The Lemon Leaf had a series of Supper Nights in the run up to Christmas and so successful were these that another is planned for February 17th. Like the others, it will be a single theme (not Valentine’s, I’m told). It will be a set menu, cooked up for you by Claire O’Brien, well-known from her market stall.
The Lemon Leaf is an engaging café, always up to taking part in local promotions. For instance, they are one of Ruth Healy’s Cork Character Cafés (@cuisinecork on Twitter) that, during the past year, highlighted some typical Cork foods, such as Milleens Cheese (April) and Cork’s Summer Bounty (July).
And Tracy has also entered the Lemon Leaf into the national Burger Festival and the entry was on the board when we called so that was my choice for lunch! My Viking Beef Burger was topped with bacon, Jalapeños, Carrigaline Oak Cheese, Baby Gem, Mayo, Avocado, and Tomato, all in a Kaiser Bun served with hand-cut chips. A big one and a very good one. Will surely be a contender!
We had actually started by sharing another dish from the specials board: Flash-fried home-made Falafel on a bed of mixed leaves, pickled cucumber, grated carrot, pomegranate, and poppy seed yogurt. Hummus too. A delicious warming taste of the East on a cold wet day in Kinsale!
CL went for one of regulars on the menu, a regular that most likely to be on the new menu as well. This was the Warm (we were all looking for heat on the day) Spicy Chicken Wrap: Cajun chicken, roasted red peppers, pickled cucumbers, tomatoes & sweet chilli mayo dip, served with organic mixed leaves. Another delicious dish from the Lemon Leaf kitchen, another happy visitor.
And happier again after a shared dessert, a delicious apple crumble, and a large coffee. They do all the coffee styles here and lots of teas too including green and herbal.
Breakfast is 8.30am to 11.30am and you may have anything from Porridge (power porridge, that is) to scrambled eggs to Eggs Benedict. How about Eggs Royale? Two eggs, Ummera smoked salmon on Focaccia with a zesty Hollandaise sauce.Light bites and pastries too, including Sausage Rolls with black pudding. You’ll be set up nicely for the morning! By the way, Breakfast or lunch, you’ll find many vegetarian, gluten & dairy free options in this lovely bright café in the heart of Kinsale.
Lemon Leaf Café
70 Main Street,
Kinsale, County Cork,
Ireland, P17 PN28
Tel: +353 (0)21 470 9792
Tel: +353 (0)21 470 9792
8:30a-4:30p Monday to Friday
8:30a-4:30p Monday to Friday
Thursday, October 19, 2017
Kinsale Mead Company
Up and Running.
|Kate does a check|
The Kinsale Mead Company was officially launched last Friday (13th) but owners Kate and Denis Dempsey have been working away since the spring in their meadery in an industrial unit in the Barrack Lane area of the town. Indeed, they already have two products on the market and a third due any day now.
|Note the distinctive bottle shape|
Atlantic Dry Mead is a traditional mead type, white in colour and with a refreshing citrus orange honey flavour. Its primary ingredient is raw orange blossom honey from southern Spain. Kinsale’s history is of course uniquely linked to Spain and the battle of Kinsale in 1601. This mead is best served chilled, or over ice or with tonic water and a thin slice of orange. Atlantic Dry Mead is lovely with olives, herby pasta dishes or with a dessert like raspberry and white chocolate tart.
Their Wild Red Mead is a melomel or fruit mead type, made from a Spanish dark forest honey, tart blackcurrants and sweet cherries to produce a zesty fruity aroma and long finish, perfect to have chilled or at room temperature. This Wild Red Mead also pairs very well with a cold meat platter, cheese board or sticky barbecued ribs.
The pair, both with an ABV of 12%, are available in local bars and restaurants and in the 1601 off-licence in Kinsale, also in O’Brien’s, Matson’s and Bradley’s and in SuperValu via the Food Academy. Mead is more a wine than beer, with a final alcohol level anywhere between 10 and 18 percent. Each of the Kinsale bottles is rated 12%.
|The business end of the meadery|
The newest version is a Six Berry mead. It is not in bottle yet but we got a taste from the tank when we visited last week. It has a red berry nose (raspberry and strawberry), fruity on the palate and again with that distinctive off-dry finish.
|A crossflow filter|
Local water is an important ingredient but honey is the essential, and expensive, component and indeed accounts for about thirty per cent of the ingredients. The Kinsale company are using Spanish honey while the country’s other meadery (at the Lough Gill brewery in Sligo) are also importing it.
The process itself, including fermentation, with good temperature, environmental and hygiene control, takes four to five months before the mead is ready for bottling.
Initially, the honey has to be heated but “not too much”. They use a honey pump to purify it and then mix it into the water (local) with a large whisk! A Cotes du Rhone yeast is then added. For the red, the frozen fruit added consists of the marvellous blackcurrants from Mr Jeffares of Wexford and cherries from Sunnyside in Rathcormac.
When the primary fermentation, usually at about 17.5 degrees, is complete, the temperature is reduced to 3 degrees to stop the action of the yeast which flocculates to the bottom of the tank. There the mead sits for a few days and then it is racked off the lees and into a new tank. A filtering process, using an Italian crossflow filter (more normally seen in a winery), also takes place and the now crystal clear mead is allowed mature for a few months.
Hygiene is an intrinsic part of the meadery and Kinsale Mead give it a very high priority from start to finish. When the mead is ready, the bottles are cleaned using a Ferrari engineered device. They are filled, corked (by hand, at present) and then labelled, all on site.
|Ferrari in the meadery|
Kate and Denis have indicated various uses for the mead (see opening paragraphs). But they also asked various people around Kinsale for ideas. Jamie from Haven Seafood suggested adding a few drops to an oyster. And there was a general guideline to use the white mead in situations where'd you would use a white wine.
And a corresponding guideline applies to the red. You could try adding a dash to venison dishes. Use in sauces for Barbecued ribs or similar. And ever inventive local chocolatier Frank at Koko has used the red as a main ingredient in a dark Madagascan chocolate truffle.
Kate and Denis have quite a bit of space in their unit with a welcome room and bar at the front. The eye-catching counter was crafted in Carrignavar from timber between two and three hundred years old. Next year, you’ll have a chance of seeing it yourself as the company intend to start doing tasting tours.
|The bar counter|
Thursday, July 27, 2017
Superb Evening Meal at Pier One
And So Much More at Kinsale's Trident Hotel
|Three sails power this boat to harbour. View from the Trident bedroom|
Pier One is the main restaurant at the refurbished Trident Hotel in Kinsale and we enjoyed a lovely evening meal there recently. If you'd prefer something more casual then downstairs at the Wharf Bar is the spot to go, a lovely room with food all day long. And drink too, of course.
Indeed, if you’re one of the many that likes a drink outside these summer days then, between car park and the harbour, the Trident have their self contained Foredeck Bar with some seating for your comfort.
There was a coach load of visitors dining in Pier One when we arrived. But it was no bother to the efficient well practised crew on duty and the service at our table was top notch all through. We had menus, breads and water as soon as we seated and then got on with the “work” of making choices!
And we had plenty to choose from. Here, they buy local “as much as possible” and we could see that, from the breakfast in the morning to the drinks at night. Drinks featured included Blacks of Kinsale, Franciscan Well, Stag Ban, Killarney Brew, Stonewell Cider, lots of Irish whiskeys, gin by Dingle and Kinsale and also Kalak vodka.
I enjoyed a Crested Ten (one of Ireland’s most under-rated) in The Wharf, excellent service here too by the way, and they too were busy with people dining and drinking, some watching the British Open. The bar has a nautical feel – designed by local yacht designer, Rob Jacob, to resemble elements of an old sailing ship, it is complete with portholes, decking, vaulted panel and beam ceiling and rope-wound galleon masts.
But back upstairs to Pier One. Once we took our eyes off the collection of Knuttle on the walls and the activity on the water outside, the boats coming and going, we made up our mind. My mains would be Roast Crispy Duck (a half!), with wild berry, apple compote and citrus jus while CL went with the Seared Monkfish with carrot crisps and a Vermont Cream Butter Sauce.
The duck was surrounded by orange segments and I certainly enjoyed this more exotic style, very well cooked by the way. And so too was the monkfish, a more simple dish though with a most gorgeous sauce, and another excellent combination. The side dish, of lovely vegetables, included courgette, celery, carrot and leek on the side. And all the while I was sipping my Kinsale Pale Ale by Black’s.
The starters had been excellent also. My Pan fried crab claws, with garlic and coriander, were as good, if not better, than any I've come across previously. And The Trident style Duck Confit was dispatched, with no little pleasure at the other side of the table.
The high standard was maintained with dessert. This time there was no sharing as we each picked the delightfully presented Rosscarberry Strawberry Shortcake, Crème de Menthe cream, Vanilla and Raspberry Sauce. Quite a plateful and a great sweet way to finish.
We would be back in Pier One for breakfast. They lay on quite a spread here, with real cheese and ham included. Loads of fruit too, plus breads and cereals. And a choice of hot dishes of course, including the full Irish (and any variation you wish) and a fish option. We both went for the Eggs Benedict and, with the local Barrett rashers and the eggs by Riverview making a lovely impression, that set us up for the day.
The 75 newly refurbished bedrooms include an executive wing comprising 30 rooms and a penthouse floor of 9 luxury suites, all with breath-taking views of the harbour and enchanting town of Kinsale. The hotel has a private marina, onsite parking and a wide range of state of the art facilities for conferences and is an unforgettable venue for family occasions.
We stayed in one of those refurbished bedrooms and, with the sun obliging both in the evening and morning, 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.
|The Foredeck Bar, with some of Trident rooms on far right|
The hotel is three-sided (the water's edge completes the square) and all rooms have a view of the harbour. 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.
|Room with a view|
Lots to visit here, most notably Charlesfort. But don’t forget the wine museum in the smaller Desmond Castle. One of the new attractions is the Old Head Signal Tower and Lusitania Museum, a community effort alongside the Old Head itself. Good stories here and also splendid views over the ocean and the land, especially over the old head itself.
|The Old Head of Kinsale, with Lusitania Memorial Garden in foreground|