Showing posts with label LORGE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LORGE. Show all posts

Thursday, May 23, 2019

A Tasty Morning With Karen Coakley On Kenmare Foodies Tour.

A Tasty Morning With Karen Coakley
On Kenmare Foodies Tour.
Enthusiastic Emma at Maison Gourmet
Henry Street is abuzz this sunny mid-May morning. Shoppers out and about, drivers trying to find parking. All kinds of small shops here, cafés and bars too. But we’re in a back lane watching bakers at work. We’re privileged because we’re with Karen Coakley, the Kenmare Foodie herself, and her Kenmare Foodie Tour takes you to places you won’t get to on your own, allows you see what goes on behind the scenes (away from the bustling street and the busy counters) and in most places you get to chat with the person or persons who started the food (or drink) business.

Margaret of Kenmare Ice Cream is one of those protagonists. Rose also plays a key role but she has to leave on business and it is Margaret that tells us the story. Both are Ballymaloe trained and were looking to start something in 2007. A gourmet deli was the first aim and they did much work on that before a discouraging coffee stop in Adare put them off. By the time they got back to Kenmare the ice cream idea was born but not yet taken seriously!

Margaret at Kenmare Ice Cream
But after research, it quickly gathered momentum and they got some equipment. How do we sell? They bought a tricycle, added three planks, and Margaret went off selling while Rose made the ice-cream. By the end of that summer, with over 11,000 scoops sold, they knew they were on to something.

Soon they had to scale up. They found “proper equipment” , including a 24 flavour cabinet, and a UK expert came over to give them two days training. They had  started making French style ice cream but now switched to the Italian style. “Because it’s all about flavour,” said Margaret. “More so than the richer (egg based) French style. Raspberry Ripple was our first flavour, and still my favourite. We stay as clean and green as we can. Four years ago, we started making whipped ice cream and that is now a big success. We do high quality but at a good price.”

Their Bia Bia is a full scale cafe, including ice-cream of course, in Railway Street while Kenmare Ice Cream, where we visited, can be found on Henry Street (open 11.00am to 11.00pm in season when Margaret and Rose have 22 people employed). Oh yes, you may still see that tricycle around Kenmare on special occasions but their famous cow, Moodini, is parked up for a while, awaiting a suitable grazing spot!
Patrick and Emma talk sourdough
If you’re arriving in Kenmare from the West Cork side, you’ll spot Maison Gourmet on top of Henry Street on your left. It was here, on the terrace at the rear that we joined up with Karen and her group. Soon, we met Emma, the French lady behind the bakery/café. And she took us out the back, to the lane where the bakery is and where we got our hands on the dough and fashioned our little baguettes (which we would collect, nicely baked, at the end of the tour).

Here they use a rather special butter, the Isigny AOC (now AOP). They can’t use Irish butter. It is good but it doesn’t have the same elasticity as the Isigny. Emma, having been part of large bakeries in Carcassonne and Toulouse, is delighted to be in Kenmare and you can see that Kenmare is delighted to have her and her bakery. Amazing too how many French visitors find their way to Maison Gourmet. Maybe it's that tempting smell of the breads, cakes and Java coffee.

Thirty years ago, she met Patrick who was already a baker, fell in love with the baking and the baker. Emma has “flirted” with Ireland since she came here as an au pair when she was twenty. Then, 3 years ago, she and husband Patrick “took the path of our dream and we opened a bakery in Kenmare. That was the best idea that we ever had.”
Beara Gin truffles at Lorge

Their butter and flour may be imported from France but they also use lots of high quality Irish produce in the busy café. But it is the breads (including sourdough) and pastries that attract me, all those classics from butter croissants to pain au chocolat (again the very best of chocolate is used) to Macarons to Mille Feuille, strawberry tartlets and more.
Olivier (On the Wild Side)

More chocolate down the street where’ll you find the Lorge shop. Hard to believe he started making chocolate by accident. His “factory” at nearby Bonane is housed in the old post office and is now a thriving business. Karen told us he is currently working with Beara Gin and indeed we sampled some of those delicious white chocolate truffles and, later, bought some bars and a bag of his marshmallow.
Alain knows his wines

Soon we found ourselves down by the town park where the weekly market was in progress. As we walked, Karen was dispensing food and recipe ideas, lots of tips all the way through the morning. 

At the market, we sampled the cured meats (including a beetroot and pork saucisson and a delicious chorizo) by Olivier of On the Wild Side. Later we called back to get some of his paté and also those Merguez Lamb Sausages. Cheese samples then, including Milleens and Coolea, from Christian’s cheese stall where he had many choices for his customers.

“How about a glass of wine?,” said Karen. Oh yes was the answer. We headed for the Vanilla Grape, a wine and card shop owned by Alain and Christine. “We are here 15 years now,” said Christine. “though those shelves are over 100 years old.” Frenchman Alain is always on the lookout to give his customers wine at a good price, not easy though considering we “had two tax hikes since the recession”.

But he did have just the job for us, a Cà Vittoria apassimento style, not from the Veneto but from Puglia, and well priced at €19.50. As we sipped the Nero D’Avola, we discussed serving temperatures with Alain saying the fridge is not a friend of wine. Had another chat with him later in the afternoon and bought myself a bottle of Chateau Vincen from Cahors much to the delight of Alain who himself is from the area (Figeac).
Making coffee with the Syphon

Alexa and Dave are the duo behind Babors Beans at the Brewhouse in the Square. Here they are serving top quality coffees, sharing bites, monstrous burgers and zesty cocktails to brighten up your day. But we’re here for the coffee that they roast themselves.

Dave told me they have eight single origins and five blends. He has to keep an eye on the price. “You have to watch the market as the price changes every day. It is too expensive to buy from the individual farmers. I get mine from Inter America Company. 

He is, of course a passionate enthusiast. “You can drink 10 to 15 cups a day and it’ll do no harm if you drink a lot of water as well!” He showed us two ways of making coffee, with the Syphon (which I preferred) and with the Chemex. We also enjoyed an espresso. By the way, not alone can you buy 250 grm bags of the various coffees here but you can also get the implements including the Syphon and Chemex. The new roastery is close to being ready and then he’ll be doing classes and demos and no doubt Karen will have that on her tours as well!

After all that, it was back up to Maison Gourmet to collect our loaves and say goodbye to one another. The tour takes about three hours but it was so enjoyable, with so many different and informative chats, that the time flew.
Christian and his cheeses

Get all the info on Kenmare Foodie Tours here.   Karen is always working on varying the tour and soon there’ll be a fish call.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

24 hours in Kenmare

24 hours in Kenmare
View of Kenmare Bay from the Sea Shore guesthouse
An unexpected call led to a quick decision to head for Kenmare for a recent overnight stay. No rush on the way down so we took the “long” route: lunch at Manning’s Emporium and a trip around the Beara Peninsula.

Kenmare Bay
The Sea Shore, a well named guesthouse, just about a mile from the town, was to be our overnight base. We got a terrific welcome from Owen on check-in and a welcome cup of tea before we even thought to ask for it. Met his wife Mary Patricia at breakfast in the morning, quite a breakfast I might add, and she filled us in on places to visit and so on.
Kenmare town
Of course, we had been out the night before for a meal, this at the well known Lime Tree. Many of you will know of this restaurant over the years but did you know that it is now owned and run by one of its former chefs Michael Casey?
The Lime Tree
It remains a top class dinner venue. My starter was the Oak Smoked Kenmare  Salmon with celeriac and apple remoulade and a caper and red onion salsa. Excellent also was the Warm Sneem Black Pudding salad, served with crispy fried potato cubes, apple compote and blackberry vinaigrette.

Duo of lamb
On then to the mains. Mine was the superb eye-catching Duo of Lamb: a mini shepherd’s pie (served in its own pot) and a rack of locally sourced Kerry lamb with a confit of garlic and thyme juice, all served on a board. The other main course was also top notch, also so well cooked, and it was Pan-fried breast of Skeaghanore free range duck with a rhubarb and ginger chutney, apple and a cassis jus.

On the following morning we visited Bonane Heritage Park which is crammed full of archaeological sites of all descriptions, including a Stone Circle and a Ring Fort, all within easy walking distance. Amazing.

Nearby also is the Lorge Chocolatier and that also is worth a visit. Soon we had a bag full of chocolates, nougats, marmalade, honey and other foods. All great, though I didn't realise 'til later that the honey came in a plastic jar!

We didn’t touch the chocolate at that point as we had a lunch date at the Boathouse in Dromquinna. This restaurant is on the northern bank of Kenmare Bay, quite a setting. It is a lovely spot and they do excellent food there. The same menu runs from 12.30pm until closing.

CL very much enjoyed her starter portion of  Mussels in a gorgeous white wine cream sauce while I was delighted with the Potted Crab Mayonnaise, with crispy capers and tortilla chips. Off to a good start then.

Next up for me was the mains portion of mussels and I wasn't disappointed. CL’s choice was the seared fillet of Hake and this too was top notch, looked very well and tasted even better. 

Just time for dessert then (before heading to Killarney for a family visit) and this was the spectacular Boathouse Knickerbocker Glory. Try it sometime! And do try Kenmare, well worth a visit, even if for just twenty four hours.

Stone circle at Bonane

Wednesday, September 14, 2011



I met Kerry chocalatier Benoit Lorge for the first time at last Saturday’s Midleton Food Festival. You just couldn’t pass the range of tempting creations at his stall. And, when you study his brochure, you realise that this is only a fraction of his portfolio of chocolate goodies.

You can buy singles or boxes (with anything from two to 54 pieces). You can fill a mixed bag, like I did, 10 for €6.00. He also does chocolate bars including an award winning Praline and also Nougat (nice stuff too – I got some in Manning’s Ballylickey two months ago). His truffles - buy by the bag – are multi-awards winners, gold going to the Rum Bitter, the soft Rum and Caramel and also to the Orange and Cointreau.

I had whiskey and rum included in my selection and you may also get Baileys and other liqueurs.  But you may also avoid the

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


In a rural setting, between Kenmare and Glengarriff, in a Kerry village called Bonane, a French chef called Benoit Lorge makes exquisite chocolates that end up in all corners of the world.
This success story started back in 1995 and goes on and on. They ship worldwide via their website  while local stockists here in Cork are Nash 19 (Princes Street) and the Sugar Cafe (Washington Street).