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Showing posts with label Knockalara Cheese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Knockalara Cheese. Show all posts

Monday, October 1, 2018

Cork Cheese Week. Old Favourites and New Cheeses


Cork Cheese Week
Old Favourites and Amazing New Cheeses
Part Two: Minding the Treasures of our Countryside
Stephen of Ballinrostig speaking to visitor Sue at the Airport Hotel.

Cheese makers may often live in isolated places but not in isolation. And it is no surprise to hear Siobhán Ní Ghairbhith of St Tola enthusiastically speak of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Geopark during the Cork Cheese Week at the Airport Hotel. The natural treasures of County Clare (and indeed of any county) must be managed in a sustainable way, as must the local farms. 

Siobhán is one of the people supporting this drive to preserve the unique landscape to help develop thriving communities. If the landscape is damaged so too is our future, whether we are farmers or consumers. Might be a bit late this year (though you’d never know!) but I’ll certainly be heading to Clare next year to explore the park and also the Burren Food Trail.

Hadn’t met Siobhán for a few years (aside from Twitter of course!) but did stay very much in touch with her St Tola Irish Goat Cheese, a magnificent cheese (especially the ash log version). The St Tola motto is “better, not bigger.” And it is better. Try it for yourself; stockists listed here.

Coolea Cheese is nowadays made by Dicky Willems junior. Nothing but healthy fresh cows milk is used to produce this internationally highly acclaimed cheese on a mountain farm in Coolea, West Cork. One cheese but sold at different ages, from a mild and creamy 3 to 6 months version to the deep intensely flavoured Extra Matured (18 months). “You can’t improve on perfection,” said Dicky’s sister Lenneka when I met her at the Airport Hotel. No arguing with that!
Ballinrostig Cheese is owned and run by husband and wife team, Stephen Bender and Michele Cashman, since 2014. This year they converted their entire range to organic.  Their basic product is a Gouda style cheese.  The signature cheese is the Ballinrostig Organic Gold, mainly made from Jersey Milk, and it’s a beauty! The Gouda style herb cheese range includes Nettle, Cumin and Red Pepper and Garlic.  In addition they produce an Organic Cream Cheese with Nettle and Garlic, and a Halloumi and a Bán (Feta) cheese.  

Widely available are the goats cheeses being produced by Bluebell Falls from Newtownshandrum in North Cork. Outlets include SuperValu, Tesco and On The Pigs Back. I asked Victor how the change to tubs (from their earlier “tubes”) was going. “Very well indeed,” he said. “The tubs are more convenient, easier to open and easy to reseal.” And the quality is as good as ever!

Tipperary’s Cooleeney are well established and have been making cheese for 30 years. Catriona told me that they make no less than 13 varieties “mainly brie and camembert and a few hard ones also”. The milk comes from their own cows while the goats milk comes from local farmers. Enjoyed tasting their Gortnamona Brie style soft goats cheese and also their delicious Tipperary Brie, mild, creamy and buttery, the milk from their own cows. 

I also met Rob, representing Knockalara Sheep’s Cheese from County Waterford. The cheese, mild and soft, is made by his in-laws Agnes and Wolfgang Schliebitz in West Waterford, and was the centre-point of a delightfully delicious dish with pistachio, baby artichoke and roasted red pepper during a recent visit to the up and coming Waterford city restaurant Everett’s. 

They also do a mature version. Their cheeses - they also do a goats cheese - are available at local markets: Waterford City Market (Saturday); Dungarvan Farmers Market (Thursday); and Ardmore Market (Sundays in summer). Heard they made quite a match at the cheese show finding a perfect pairing with Melanie Harty’s Apple and Sage Jelly with chilli!

I did a few turns around the various stalls at the Airport Hotel but missed out on at least two. One was Coolatin, hand-crafted by Tim Burgess from his own pasture fed cows in West Wicklow for the past 20 years with a motto for their Mature Raw Milk Cheddar that reads: Pasture to Cheddar The Same Day.

Quality is enhanced by processing only in the summer months when the cows are grazing fresh clover-rich pastures. Besides, they use early morning milk, high in melatonin which aids sleep and relaxation and there is no storage or pasteurisation with the milk going direct to the cheese-vat.

The Carlow Farmhouse stand was also busy each time I called. They make an award winning Sheep Cheese, a hard cheese, which may be matured for up to two years. They also produce a Goats Tomme and a Cow Cheese (sometimes flavoured with herbs and spices).

Part One featured mostly the new cheeses and you may read it here.
See Also: The Cork Cheese Dinner






Monday, August 6, 2018

Everett’s Vaulting To Culinary Peaks. New Waterford Dining Destination


Everett’s Vaulting To Culinary Peaks
New Waterford Dining Destination
Cod
Ireland’s love affair with wine has left a legacy of wine vaults. Some have been converted and are now being used as restaurants, Ely in Dublin and Holy Smoke in Cork spring to mind. The latest are Everett’s in High Street in Waterford who are using the 15th century vaults of a local mayor. 

James Rice gave this wine vault and the dwelling above it to Dean John Collyn on the 6th July 1468 and it was used to house the priests of the new chantry chapel built by Collyn until 1520. Now Everett’s, just opened a few months back and already gaining quite a reputation, are using the building for their 58 seater restaurant. The street level room seats 28 while the vaults below cater for 30.
Knockalara cheese

 It is quite an atmospheric place, especially if there’s a party going on downstairs! But no great point in having a historic venue for your restaurant unless the food is good. And that’s where chef Peter Everett, who owns the restaurant with partner Keith Noonan, comes in. 


The Chapter One trained chef, back in his native Waterford, is using the best of local produce and using it well. Beautifully cooked and presented plates are flying out of the kitchen and the customers are flying in. The menu is short but long on quality.
Rilletes

Three courses here will set you back forty euro. Let me be clear. It is not a set back, it is great value considering the high quality. And I reckon the Pre-Theatre menu is probably even better value. You may like to know that they do lunch on Fridays and Saturdays (not on Sundays).


We called there recently and, after an initial “set back” about the reservation, we settled in and throughly enjoyed the accomplished cooking and the service from start to finish.
beef

 We had five starters to pick from and one was the Knockalara Sheep’s Cheese with pistachio, baby artichoke and roasted red pepper. The cheese, made by Agnes and Wolfgang Schliebitz in West Waterford, was the centrepoint of a delightfully delicious dish.


Our other starter was the Andarl Farm Free Range Pork Rillettes, Cherry, Beetroot and Almond. Another winner, again beautifully presented, a gorgeous toothsome combination. Needless to say, two empty plates went back. And that was to be repeated, twice!
mash
I think there were five mains on for the night and mine was the Striploin and Braised Brisket of Derek Walsh's Beef, Carrot cooked in Ale, Spring Onion. The local beef was spot on, even the carrot in ale was a highlight.


Meanwhile, the CL was happily tucking into her Fillet of Cod, N'duja Crust, Courgette, Samphire, Sherry Sauce. The shimmering cod looked as if it had just been plucked from the ocean outside Dunmore East. And the mash was smoother, certainly more buttery, than an electioneering politician’s words.

Chocolat
Now for the real sweet stuff, the chocolat! At least, pour moi. Opera Chocolate Fondant with Malt Ice-Cream had me singing, well metaphorically so, for I was the class crow, not even allowed in the group - no bum notes allowed in Mrs Shaw’s chorus. 


And there were happy notes coming from across the table as the Fresh Peach Purée, Raspberry and Elderflower combo struck the perfect balance, the Peach on the sweet side, the Raspberry on the tart. Quite a finalé at Everett’s. Just opened in the spring, they may be in their infancy but the stride is already confident, the outlook good.

Also on this trip:
The Candied Hazelnut

Lunch at Spectacular Cliff House

22 High Street
Waterford
(051) 325 174


Monday, July 24, 2017

Jacques. High Standards Since 1980.


Jacques. 
Style and High Standards Since 1980.
Kidneys

The warmest of welcomes. An evening meal of outstanding quality. An exemplary service. An evening to savour. Where? In Jacques Restaurant of course, where the Barry sisters, Jacque and Eithne, have reigned - morning, noon and evening - since 1980.

Back in the 80s, you had hair to the skies and shoulder pads not far behind and the guys had big and obvious gold chains. Those fashions have long gone but the high standard at Jacques endures.
Crab

In early 2015, after an previous outstanding meal there, I wrote: For 35 years now, Jacques has been setting the standard for restaurants in Cork. With the Barrys' unswerving commitment to local produce and high class cooking, it looks as if the calm and comfortable Phoenix Street venue will be the benchmark for years to come. No need to change an iota!

Just as well we four had booked well in advance for our Friday night out. The main restaurant was full and there was a lively buzz too coming from the new-ish tapas section which fronts onto Oliver Plunkett Street. You can access both areas from either that street or the original Phoenix Street door.

No delay in bringing the menus and water, breads too, to the table. The A La Carte is quite extensive and we were immediately filled in on the specials. Quite a choice. 

That Lambs Kidney tempted me but in the end I picked the Fresh crab mayonnaise, new potato, mint, and the Busby strawberries from West Cork. Hadn't seen that combination before and it was delicious. CL enjoyed her Roast beetroot, quinoa, Knockalara cheese, saying the caramelised walnuts included were “divine”. Got enthusiastic reports too on the Kidneys and also on the Fried Ardsallagh Goats Cheese Gnudi with cured egg yolk.
Monkfish

Some excellent wines (and craft beers too) on the list. Indeed, the wine quality is very evident in those listed as house wines including a superb Anselmann Riesling Classic 2012. A pichet of Argentinian Malbec also went down well as did a bottle of Steininger Grüner Veltliner from Austria’s Kamptal.

Now, for the main event. The Cork Lamb Cutlets were enthusiastically dispatched while the two ladies were very happy indeed with the fresh Hake, pan fried, lemon butter, crispy capers, parsley, Ballycotton queens and greens, a lovely plateful indeed. 
Lamb

I went a little exotic: Fresh monkfish, Malaysian noodles, pancetta, chilli and black pepper jam and julienne of vegetables. I think I hit the jackpot with this one. It was perfectly cooked and the fish was superbly enhanced by the accompaniments. Just like my crab and strawberry starter, I would highly recommended this one!

No big decision required for dessert as two sharing plates appeared. And soon disappeared! We four would soon head off into the city night, all talking about the marvellous meal and hospitality in a lovely place. I think we’ll be spreading the good word for a long while.

Jacques, 23 Oliver Plunkett St and 9 Phoenix Street.
"Whether you come in the front door or the back door,
you're more than welcome."
021 427 7387
Opening hours:
Mon 10am to 4.00pm
Tue-Sat 10am to 10pm.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

House Café. In the middle of our town

House Café
In the middle of our town
Mega mushrooms
The shows come and go but The House Café keeps performing in the Opera House, just a few yards from Patrick’s Street. So central, so good.

We called to this friendly place for lunch this week and enjoyed it from the start to finish, the welcome, the friendly informative service, the little chats and, of course, the food. Food that is based for the most part on top notch local produce: Crozier Blue, Knockalara, Ballyhoura, Coolea, O’Mahony Butchers among those featured.
Falafel
We could have had one of the soups (carrot, ginger and coriander looked tempting. Or one of the sandwiches (Coolea cheese with wild garlic pesto caught the eye). But once I saw the Creamed Ballyhoura Wild Mushrooms on sourdough toast with Parmesan and organic leaves, I was hooked. It is one of the best expressions of these fabulous mushrooms (much in demand by the country’s top chefs) you're likely to come across. Go in and try it!

CL too cleaned her plate, every little bit. Her choice was the Spiced Chickpea and Sweet potato Falafel with hummus, tahini sauce and salad with a roasted pide (a Turkish bread). Her dish cost nine euro, mine two euro more. Both were vegetarian but we didn't even think about that, just good food, and that’s the way it should be.

Since we had skipped the soup, dessert was on the cards. I went for one of the specials and it was very special, again worth a call if available. This was the Carrot and Pistachio cake (3/50), toasted and served with butter and cream. It was so good! Too good in fact. CL got very interested and I had to give over fifty per cent, On the other hand, I got fifty per cent of her lemon Drizzle Slice (3.50), and quite a superior Lemon drizzle it was.

Sp we relaxed and finished off our Golden Bean coffees (2.30) before settling up at the counter (cash only, by the way!) and heading off to Pana (the local name for Patrick Street).

House Café
Opera House
Emmet Place
Cork
Tel: (021) 490 5277
Email: housecafecork@gmail.com

Twitter: @HouseCafeCork

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Jacques. The Gold Standard.

Jacques. The Gold Standard.


Barbecued Smoked Quail
For 35 years now, Jacques has been setting the standard for restaurants in Cork. With the Barrys' unswerving commitment to local produce and high class cooking, it looks as if the calm and comfortable Phoenix Street venue will be the benchmark for years to come.

Was in there at the weekend. There were happy sounds in the main restaurant and, going by the twitter reaction, these were matched by the murmurs of approval in their adjoining small-plate room that opens onto Oliver Plunkett Street. You may access both from each street. But be sure to book. This is a popular spot, particularly towards the weekend.

I started to study the menu and was immediately struck by the quality of the starter selection, that little bit different. I picked the Barbecued Smoked Quail with a sauce romesco (€9.90). This was superb, a tempting whiff from the smoke, and the flavours were spot-on, the Barbecue element was just so well judged, not too heavy, not too light, the sauce and salad were perfect as well.
Monkfish
CL’s starter was Knockalara Sheeps Cheese, pickled courgette, roast beets, crushed potato and praline (9.90). Again, this was so well put together, the Waterford cheese evenly scattered through the other elements and she was particularly surprised and pleased with the pickled courgette.

We had been looking at the Fresh Crab Salad, served with Bushby’s Strawberries (from West Cork), avocado, lime and pumpkin seed (12.90). Later, another customer told me enthusiastically that this was delicious. Other starters included Fresh Castletownbere Scallops, Fresh Mussels (with white wine and pepperonata) and Organic Purple Sprouting Broccoli (with fried duck egg and Hollandaise). Spoiled for choice!

And it is much the same with the main courses. Goatsbridge Trout and East Ferry Duck Breast featured as did a Ribeye Steak to share, also a Red Wine and Mushroom Risotto and a Brace of Quail (with Japanese Style Noodles & Pak Choy). And more, including their own special Irish Stew.
Photo: Jacques
There were also a couple of  fish dishes and we both agreed on the Tuscan Fresh Monkfish with cannellini beans, Italian Sausage and a wild garlic pesto. Exquisite. Bellissimo. A superb combination of flavours and textures and that little bit of pesto played quite a role.


Desserts? I’m sure they were brilliant but we didn't even look! One can have too much of a good thing here. Next time, maybe. Earlier, we did have a generous glass of their Albarino, sunshine and stone on the tongue and in the throat, great with the fish.


Jacques Restaurant is located at the heart of Cork City near the G.P.O. They are open Monday 10am - 4pm and Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 10pm. Lunch is from 12pm - 4pm, side plates and tapas from 5pm to 10pm and the  evening dinner menu is available between 6pm and 10pm. Very Highly Recommended. If you’d like to get a good idea of the place, why not try the €24 Two Course Dinner? Or some of their small plates and tapas?