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

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

John Torode’s Ireland visits Kinsale. See it on RTE2 this Friday

John Torode’s Ireland visits Kinsale 

See it on RTE2 this Friday

Meeran, Head Chef at Kinsale's Rare, and John (right)

John Torode's Ireland, a TV show which documents the Masterchef star, restaurateur, and cookbook author’s culinary journey around Ireland, lands in Kinsale this Friday on RTÉ 2. 

Featuring a number of Kinsale food and hospitality businesses John gets an insight into some of Kinsale’s favourite food heroes including a trip to Fishy Fishy, Kokos, Rare Restaurant, Kinsale Mead and Sams Bar. 

During his visit to Rare Restaurant, he chatted with Head Chef Meeran Manzoor and General Manager Ciaran Fitzgerald about what makes Rare unique. 

John also sampled one of the signature dishes at Rare and learned about the local produce in Ireland’s ‘Silicon Valley’ of food produce, West Cork. 

Meeran said “It was such an honour and pleasure cooking for John. He has a genuine interest and curiosity about the locality. We were very proud to show him what we do in Rare.”

 The show will be aired on Friday 14th at 8:30 pm on RTÉ 2.

Keep up to date with the latest news by following Rare Kinsale on social at @rarekinsale

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Kate and Denis have shown in six years that they've got what it takes to lead the revival of Mead in Ireland. An impressive palette of flavours from Kinsale.

Kate and Denis have shown in six years that they've got what it takes to lead the revival of Mead in Ireland. 

Already, an impressive palette of flavours from Kinsale.

Cleanliness. Temperature Control. Good Ingredients. These are vital if you are in the mead business (or in any any food or beverage business). Add in infinite patience and enthusiasm, the appropriate skills and hard work.

See the Wild Geese on this marvellous Barrel Aged mead

And these qualities were evident in abundance during our recent visit to the Kinsale Mead Company, officially opened on Friday the 13th October 2017 (following a period of unofficial trial and error).

Kate and Denis Dempsey are the couple behind the venture and, in 2016, they went to work to rediscover the ancient art of mead making and to create a world-class range of light and refreshing drinks. Much has been achieved since then. They have certainly opened many eyes (palates?), both here and abroad, to the flavours and possibilities of the ancient drink.

St Bridget

But they are not sitting back these days, far from it. If you have the good fortune to have had a tour  here, you’ll know of their enthusiasm. And you’ll also have heard of the history of the drink and the bees, the bees because honey is the main ingredient in mead.

Two of the bees from Gobnait's sculpture in Ballyvourney

They have some marvellous illustrated info-posters by local artist Fiona Boniwell on the walls of the reception and one in particular deals with the Bechbretha, the Brehon Bee Judgements. The Brehon system was quite revolutionary for the early medieval age and dealt with all kinds of situations involving those between humans but also including animals.

There was a full set of laws and judgements relating to cattle for instance and, yes, also for bees. A compensation was laid out for an injury (even as simple as a sting). There was a procedure in place to deal with swarms, even if a neighbour’s bees “invaded’ a person’s land to gather nectar. Not surprisingly, honey also featured as a compensation.

Denis. Waiting by the barrels!

Very very detailed stuff indeed - just Google it and see for yourself. Edited by Thomas Charles-Edwards, Bechbretha is available in Cork City Library.

Saint Gobnait features in the posters - many of you will have seen the rather large bees that sculptor Seamus Murphy included in his statue of her in Ballyvourney. In the meadery itself, there are a couple of murals and here a golden-haired St Bridget is seen urging a bunch of bees to go forth in search of the precious nectar so they can make more honey.

St Bridget is also regarded as the patron saint of brewers and,  just a few days back, I enjoyed a beer, a Honey Hefeweizen from Wicklow Wolf, that used honey from the locality and supplied to the brewery by @openhivehoney.

You can have all the stories and saints you want but your product still needs to have substance and Kate and Denis are strong on all counts. The meads are superb and vary a lot so there is something there for every taste as we found out in our tasting.

Kinsale Wild Red Mead (12% ABV) is a gorgeous melomel mead fermented off-dry with Irish blackcurrants, dark cherries and pure honey. Melomel mead has fruit as an ingredient and here it comes through here beautifully.

Kinsale Atlantic Dry Mead (12% ABV) is a delicious, off-dry traditional style mead (no fruit), beautifully crisp with a lovely citrus honey flavour

The third in their Signature series is Kinsale Hazy Summer Mead (11% ABV) a fabulous, fruity, off-dry berry mead with generous strawberry and raspberry aromas, a lovely burst of summer berries and a smooth, subtle honey finish. 

They also do a series of barrel aged meads. The Wild Red Mead – Merlot Barrel Aged (12% ABV) is a gorgeous 3 year-old berry mead fermented off dry and silky smooth and matured for the last 12 months in French Merlot wine barrels to add intriguing structure and depth. An exceptional, unique mead, a lively, attractive drink with a decadent richness. The beautiful label was inspired by the story of the “Wild Geese”.

Another is the Atlantic Dry Mead – Sauternes Barrel Aged (12% ABV) , a gorgeous 3-year-old traditional mead fermented from orange blossom honey, matured for the last 12 months in a French oak wine barrel to add intriguing structure and depth. The third is the same Atlantic Dry Mead – this time aged in White Port Barrel (12% ABV),  matured for the last 12 months in an oak port barrel to add spicy oak depth.

We were also privileged to taste the Kinsale Irish Wildflower Mead. This is a very special, limited edition mead made from 100% Irish summer wildflower honey from the  Chanting Bee Apiary. This honey is a lovely expression of the aromas and flavours of West Cork. Quite a few of the meads were seen on celebrity chef, John Torode’s Ireland on the Food Network.

John Torode wasn't the only TV chef to visit Kinsale Mead. Neven came too!

It may be the only Irish honey based mead that they produce - all their other honey comes from Spain as Irish honey is just not available in any quantity - but the Dempseys do use Irish as much as possible.

Their blackcurrants (from day 1) are supplied by Des Jeffares (Wexford), wild berries from John Howard of Rathcormac (John is also into wildflower seeds) and that Irish honey is by West Cork’s Paul Kelly (of Kelly Family fame). Local artists are supported like Fiona Boniwell who, in addition to the Bechbretha poster, also has done a splendid Mead Map of Ireland for them while the eye-catching counter was crafted in Carrignavar from timber between two and three hundred years old..

I mentioned patience at the start. Honey mead is slow to finish (though the fruit version is faster). You are talking about 6 to 18 months to mature and then another 12 are added with the barrel-aged trio.

A honey tasting.

They have some excellent technology on their side such as a US made Ozone-ator, their German tanks are very well made (no crevices inside where the nasties might hide) and they have a Ferrari bottle washer! Also a bit of luck in that Kinsale’s hard water is ideal for Mead.

They do all this themselves, on the road promoting far and wide, in the meadery when required, with the help of a small staff including daughter Grace who just loves the festivals and tastings.

We mentioned melomel mead (those with fruit) earlier. There are quite a few other types. How do serve them? Can you use them in cocktails. Besides, you’ll probably have quite a few questions on mead in general. And here too Kinsale Mead can help you. They have a long list of FAQ and much more info (including on those tours) on their excellent website here .

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Kinsale Meadery Tours Reopening Monday June 29th at 1pm

Kinsale Meadery Tours Reopening

 Monday June 29th at 1pm

Curious about Mead? Planning a Day Trip or Staycation to Kinsale?

Kinsale Mead Co. has been a hive of activity recently getting ready to re-open for their popular meadery tours and tastings on Monday 29th June. They are following the latest guidelines so their visitors can experience the tour safely.

“We are really delighted to be welcoming visitors back to the meadery. It’s been way too quiet here for the last few months and we really miss meeting everyone,” said Denis Dempsey, co-founder.

Explore the making and tasting of Mead, the drink of Celtic Ireland’s Kings and Chieftains at Kinsale Mead’s family run meadery. Mead, also known as "honey wine," is believed to be the world's oldest alcoholic drink, dating back to 6500 BC.

During the fun-filled hour you will meet the Mead Makers of Kinsale Mead and hear stories of ancient legends and the colourful history of mead in Ireland. Indulge in a tasting of three different raw honey types while learning about the life of the honeybee. Explore the production area and follow the process of modern mead-making, from fermentation through to maturation and onto bottling. Revel in the opportunity to sample three different award-winning varieties of this ancient drink, with great tips for food pairing and mead cocktails.

The Meadery has been running tours since 2018 and has received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence last year. Previous visitors have said the “Informative and fun” tour lead by “Very friendly and knowledgeable” staff is “A must for your trip to Kinsale”.

Tours run at 1pm, 3pm and 5pm. Tickets cost €14 per adult. Please pre-book to guarantee your place at or call 021 477 3538.

Me(a)d-ia Release

Monday, April 20, 2020

Blacks Win Gold For Their Rum At World Awards. Amazing Kinsale Duo Soon To Lay Down Their Whiskey

press release
Blacks Win Gold For Their Rum At World Awards

Amazing Kinsale Duo Soon To Lay Down Their Whiskey

Husband and wife duo, and founders of Blacks Brewery and Distillery, Sam and Maudeline Black, were in high spirits on winning a prestigious Gold award for their Blacks Golden Rum at the World Rum Awards. Founded originally as a craft beer brewery in 2013, this unstoppable couple expanded and opened their distillery in 2015, where they began producing gin in their top-of-the range facility in Kinsale, Co.Cork.  In 2018, they made history with Blacks Spiced Rum, Ireland’s first-ever rum, made entirely from start to finish in Ireland. Continuing to add to their extensive range of award-winning craft beers and spirits, this year their first bottle of Blacks Golden Rum hit the shelves, after maturing in ex Irish whiskey oak barrels for the last five years.

The World Rum Awards are the leading global rum awards, which select the very best in all of the internationally recognised styles, and award and promote these world best rums to consumers and trade across the globe. It was with immense pride that passionate entrepreneurs, Maudeline & Sam, accepted this coveted World Rum Award, a recognition of their master craftsmanship and innovative recipe. Blacks Golden Rum was the only rum to win Gold in its category - World’s Best Column Still Rum 5 Years & Under, and the only Irish spirit to make the winners list. This was the first time Blacks Brewery & Distillery entered these illustrious awards, with their golden rum undergoing a series of three stringent judges tasting sessions. Due to Covid19 restrictions, this year, all aspects of these awards took place behind closed doors, with virtual tasting sessions chaired by head judge Peter Holland. The distinguished judging panel comprised of international, leading journalists, specialist drinks retailers and industry experts.

Speaking in relation to the taste of this Gold award-winning Blacks Golden Rum the judging panel commented, ‘An interesting nose. It starts off with wood varnish and dunder/funkiness. Very ripe tropical fruit and very ripe stone and citrus fruit with a very notable dry orange peel aroma. There is roat vegetal notes too. The palate is quite straightforward and easy. One dimensional with easy tropical fruits and little hints of wood smoke and medicinal characteristics.’
Sam Black
‘We couldn’t believe it when award organisers contacted us with the good news. Gold! We are very proud of our golden rum, as we are with all of the beers and spirits which leave our brewery and distillery displaying our name. They really are a testament to the time and talent invested by all of our team in Kinsale, but to receive this recognition on a global scale, especially when up against such long standing and established rum brands it was just phenomenal.’ commented Founder Sam Black. 

Having made their mark on the global rum stage, there is no stopping this pair who already have their eyes firmly on their next endeavour - the whiskey market. Always looking for a unique angle, and bringing creativity to their business, be that in the form of seasonal craft beer recipes, production methods or eye-catching packaging, Maudeline & Sam wanted to make their whiskey journey special too. They have achieved this by opening up their business to other whiskey enthusiasts who wish to share in their passion with the Blacks Whiskey Founders Club.

Already boasting over 100 members, the Blacks Whiskey Founders Club gives whiskey lovers the opportunity to purchase their own cask of whiskey, starting from €6,500. This club allows members to create their very own personalised and branded whiskey, with a cask expected to deliver over 397 bottles of pot still single malt Irish whiskey, or to use this as an investment opportunity and after the five-year maturation period sell back their cask to Blacks. This buy-back scheme will generate a minimum 4% annually compounded (approx. €280 per year per cask) return on a members initial investment.

Phase one of this €1million project has now been completed, the installation of two copper whiskey stills. With the club still open for new members to join, and with lots of different cask options to choose from for example ex bourbon, sherry or port, the next key date in the diary is the first annual Blacks Whiskey Founders Club party, which is set to take place on Friday 18th September. This annual event gives members an opportunity to network and check in on their whiskey, becoming an actively engaged part of the distilling process. During the day members will have a choice of some social activities such as golfing and a Kinsale Harbour sailing trip,  while in the afternoon there will be tours of the distillery and brewery, with lots of spirit and beer tasting.

Speaking in relation to the Blacks Whiskey Founders Club , Sam Black commented, ‘This really is a unique opportunity for whiskey enthusiasts, who otherwise would not be in a position to produce whiskey alone. It was my passion for brewing and my wifes support that gave me the push to open Black Brewery & Distillery and I want to share that experience with others. Some of our members who have already joined plan to bottle and label their whiskey to gift to family, friends, as corporate client gifts and to sell some on the secondary whiskey market, while for others its an investment opportunity, but one in which they to play an active role in also creating a piece of our famous Irish whiskey heritage. The next few weeks mark a huge milestone in this project as the actual whiskey production begins. I look forward to watching our club grow, adding more people to the Blacks family and getting to meet a lot of these face to face at our annual get-together.’

Blacks Brewery and Distillery are among some of the lucky businesses who have been able to adapt their operations processes in order to remain functioning safely through this Covid19 pandemic. Not only are they still supplying beers and spirits to off-licenses and supermarkets across the country, but they are also playing their part in trying to fight this virus and support the community, with the production of much needed hand sanitiser. Despite their online sales increasing over the last month and sales staff required to focus their efforts here, Maudeline and Sam were still adamant that they were going to use their resources to help, and therefore redeployed members of their sales team, who would have primarily focused on on-trade pubs and restaurants.

Sales staff are now helping in the distillery to bottle and label hand sanitizer. This supply of hand sanitiser is being split between charities, such as Cork Simon and local Kinsale volunteers, and consumers. In addition to charity drops and for consumers through retail stores, when placing online spirit orders through the Blacks website consumers receive free sanitiser and one is also donated to a charity group in their name. Now that the new copper whiskey stills are installed they will also play a role in this sanitation process, as before whiskey production begins in the coming weeks the stills must undergo a cleaning run in manual mode with vinegar, followed by a sacrificial alcohol run which will also be transformed into hand sanitiser.

Commenting on the new edition to their production line Sam Black said, ‘We consider ourselves very fortunate to still be in a position to stay open and meet the demand of customers. It is a very hard time for the entire Irish community and we just wanted to play our part, no matter how small in helping during this crisis. When we became aware of the huge shortage of hand sanitiser for those on the frontline we realised we were in a unique position to be able to assist, and so we quickly went about altering our production process to start manufacturing and getting this into the hands of those who need it.’

To find out more about the award-winning Blacks Golden Rum, to become a member of the Blacks Whiskey Founders Club, or to place an order for some of Blacks Brewery & Distillery famous craft beers or gin visit You can also contact Paul, a member of the Blacks team at or stay connected online at Instagram/blacksbrewery Instagram/blacksdistillerykinsale, Twitter @BlacksBrewery or Facebook/BlacksOfKinsale

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Trident Hospitality Hard to Beat. Surrender's Sweet.

Trident Hospitality Hard to Beat. 
Surrender's Soft and Sweet.

Always a warm welcome at the Trident Hotel in Kinsale. It is the stop for us when we visit the harbour town and not just because the hotel has one of the most spectacular locations in the country. That welcome, from manager Hal McElroy and his team, is so friendly, so helpful. Makes one inclined to come again. A really lovely place to stay, good rooms, good food, and just about four minutes from the very heart of the town.

And of course I’m not downplaying the scenic location. Always love the view when I walk into a room here. The hotel consists of two wings at right angles to the main block and has been designed so that each room has a view of the water, some towards the town and port, some straight out across the bay and some over the fishing harbour and James Fort. Besides, the hotel is just a few minutes walk from the lively town centre with its restaurants (including the Michelin starred Bastion), boutiques, bars, and bookshops. It is the gateway to West Cork and also the first (or last) stop on the Wild Atlantic Way.
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 famous Old Head. Good stories here and also splendid views over the ocean and the land, especially over the Old Head itself.

Usually, Hal and company arrange a bit of sun, but this time the December evening was uncompromising though at least it stayed dry on our short walk to and from the fabulous Finns Table for dinner. On check-in we were happy to hear we had been upgraded. Needless to say we enjoyed our stay in the Ringrone Suite with its extra space and facilities (including your own Nespresso machine). No problem catching up on the internet with a faultless Wi-Fi connection.
The Trident's Foredeck Bar for fair-weather sailors and sippers

Supporting local
The smallest rooms (and they are not really small at all) are the Superior. These have just a shower but no bath. But  they share 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 am always 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.

In all there are 75 refurbished bedrooms including an executive wing comprising 30 rooms and a penthouse floor of 9 luxury suites, all with breathtaking views. 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.

How about a pre-dinner drink? Just stroll down to the Wharf Bar and take your pick. It is here that most of the daily dining, including dinner, takes place. There is excellent service here too by the way. 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 & beam ceiling and rope-wound galleon masts. It is a friendly informal place and as well as eating and drinking, you’ll have the chance to watch golf or football in one or two corners.
Nearby Sandycove

Evening view from the restaurant
We have enjoyed a few dinners in the main restaurant, Pier 1, where you’ll see boats and even a ship or two just outside. Don’t forget to study the collection of Knuttle on the walls. It is also where’ll you’ll take breakfast. They lay on quite a spread here, with real cheese (Gubbeen, Carrigaline for example) 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 pancakes on this occasion and certainly enjoyed them while CL tucked into her Eggs Benedict (eggs and bacon from local producers).

And if the manager has missed you when checking in, you’ll almost certainly see him at Pier One for breakfast. Here he moves around and chats to everyone and anyone, wondering how they got on the day before, their plans for the day ahead, and if he can help! You don’t see that level of service in too many places!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Finns' Table. Real Food. Real People.

Finns' Table. Real Food. Real People.
Pork Belly starter

This pair of phrases indicate how I feel about Finns’ Table in Kinsale. I want to go. I don’t want to leave.

Julie (front of house) and husband John (chef) score on so many levels. Aside from the excellent food and quality drink here, it is those broad welcoming smiles. And all genuine. Nothing fake here, either on your plate or on their faces.

And we got that marvellous warm welcome when we visited just before Christmas. A chat ensued about the year that had flown by since we’d had eaten here and about their 2-week break in the USA from which they’d just returned.

Then as we studied the menu, including the long wine list, Julie warmed us up with a Mulled Wine Bellini, reinforcing the feel-good feeling. Oh and there was also a very tasty amuse bouche of ham croquette and garlic mayo. They had a pair of lovely breads (mini-loaves) too, one based on treacle, the other on potato, with hummus and butter on the side.

The food here is locally sourced. They are on a winner with the beef and lamb as that’s supplied by John’s parents, butchers in Mitchelstown. Fish and seafood comes from local West Cork trawlers, mussels and oysters from Jamie of Haven Shellfish just down the road in Oysterhaven. Free range eggs are from Beechwood Farm while Clona Dairies supply the milk and cream.
John Dory

Quite a choice of starters here, including those oysters in varying presentations. There was a slight hiccup with one of our requested starters as Chef John wasn’t happy that the Treacle and West Cork Whiskey marinade had yet completed its transformation of the smoked salmon. It would be fine in another day or two but not just yet! Just goes to show the level of detail and professionalism here in this kitchen, nothing is left to chance. And the rest of the meal confirmed it.

My Slow Cooked Pork Belly and Pudding Bonbons (€12), with cider and port and corn Salsa was absolutely superb, one of the very best examples I’ve come across, just full of flavour and a pleasure to eat. And there were similar words from the other side as CL enjoyed the Spiced Beef Carpaccio (12), crispy quail eggs, pickled mushroom and horseradish crême fraiche.

There was a little humming and hawing about the wine; because of our main dishes, one of us was tending towards white, the other towards red. A compromise was reached by choosing one of the house reds, the Vina Casablanca Cefiro Pinot Noir (28.00). It proved very versatile indeed, dangerously drinkable too and at a good price. And that sufficed until we switched to a glass of Sauternes for the dessert.

Before that though, there were the main courses. Always on the lookout for seasonal, so my choice here was the Pan Roast Venison Loin (30), with roast celeriac and spiced lentils. A stunning plateful that needed little adornment.

CL was tempted by what looked like a terrific Turbot offering but in the end went for the Pan Roast Fillet of John Dory (33.00), creamed leeks, Crab bisque sauce and beetroot salsa.  That crab and beetroot worked a treat and indeed the plateful was another delicious delight on the night. Main courses are served with oven roast root vegetables and potatoes.

Baked Alaska (left) with Mango and Orange cake (10.00) at the heart of it was our dessert, a lovely foil for the glass of Sauternes. The rich wine was slowly sipped as the enjoyable meal in this warm elegant appealing place  came to an end. And soon we stepped from the warmth inside to the dark cold of the narrow street outside, quickly increasing the pace to reach the Trident, another welcoming Kinsale hospitality establishment and our base for the night. 

If you are in Finns' Table between 6.00 and 6.30pm any evening, you may avail of the Early Bird offering: three for €37.50.

6 Main Street
Co. Cork
021 4709636