|On a stony hill in Sancerre|
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Monday, March 4, 2019
In Kinsale's Finns' Table
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 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.
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).
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.
|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 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.
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!
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
Also on this Kinsale trip:
Warm Welcome at Trident Hotel
Surprise Mellot Sancerre Tasting at Finns' Table
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!|