Showing posts with label Macroom Buffalo Mozzarella. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Macroom Buffalo Mozzarella. Show all posts

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Enjoyable Lifeboat Inn Wine Dinner. Fabulous Food. Superb Wines. Best of Company!


Enjoyable Lifeboat Inn Wine Dinner
Fabulous Food. Superb Wines. Best of Company.
Monkfish and Ripasso de Valpolicella 

I think many of the customers at last week’s superb Rizzardi wine dinner in Courtmacsherry’s Lifeboat Inn had Amarone on their minds. And when the 3CRU 2013 came, it didn’t disappoint. It was introduced, like all the previous wines, by Giuseppe Rizzardi and he gave us a few tips.

“Don’t decant,” he said. “By all means, open it a few hours in advance but don’t decant! Also, don’t serve it too warm. It is our most prestigious wine. Amarone is not a grape, not a region, it is a method, a process. The grapes are picked and then put into boxes that hold 4 to 5 kgs. Some 15,000 to 18,000 boxes are left to dry out in a large room in a method known as appassimento. It takes 2 to 3 months and you end up with less fruit but with more concentrated tannins, more colour, more sugar. It then spends two years in barrel.”

The Rizzardi version, a 2013, was excellent and fantastic match with the Beef Cheek and the pairing was heartily endorsed by the winemaker. But Giuseppe told us that not all Amarones are the same. “Too often is it very sweet and that sweetness covers the lack of other qualities.”

Giuseppi, enjoyed the craic
in Courtmac
Giuseppe is quite familiar with Ireland and did a few summer jobs here in the 1990s and of course he's a regular visitor now to O'Brien's Wine, his distributors here. On arrival the guests were treated to a glass of Rizzardi Prosecco, the famous sparkling wine made from the Glera grape. “This one is smooth and dry, with a little bit bit of character.” He told us they use it as a base for cocktails, “especially Bellini.”

The Italian enjoyed the food and was intrigued by the local Mozzarella in our starter. Pinot Grigio is quite a well-known Italian white and we started our meal with that. “It is not barrel aged, is quite light, made with fruit from the region of Soave. It’s ideal as an aperitif and will go well with soups.” And it went very well indeed with our delicious opener.

Indeed Giuseppe, like the rest of us, was every impressed with the starer, surprised to hear that the cheese was locally sourced “very interesting texture, very impressed”. He told us that a lot of Soave, our next wine, is made but much of it is just for everyday. Theirs comes from a beautiful fortified village in the Classico area and the Gargenega vines are grown on volcanic soil. “Again it is unoaked, a little bit of Chardonnay is blended in.” And he advised against serving this too cold. “You get more flavour as the temperature goes up.” It was paired with the scallops, local and absolutely superb.

So don’t serve the Amarone too warm, don’t serve the Soave too cool. What next? Well a red wine with fish! And the Roast Monkfish paired with the 2013 Ripasso de Valpolicella was a match made in a Courtmacsherry heaven. Again, Ripasso is a method with the grapes “refermented on the skins of the Amarone and then 12 months in big barrels”. “This is a red wine that can be poured cool, at about 14 degrees,” he advised. “Great freshness and acidity and it provides a link between simple Valpolicella and Amarone.” 

And it did indeed go very well with that splendid Monkfish dish. Front of house here is David O’Halloran and he had been giving us some extra details on the dishes. He told us it was a “purposeful decision” to pair the Ripasso and the Monkfish “to show that fish and red wine will go together”. Referring to the Amarone he said that here, in a reversal of the norm, they picked the food to go with the wine, not the other way round. Chef Martin Buckley got out later on and thanked Giuseppe, saying “it was special to have him here tonight”. 

And there was another surprise when it came to the dessert, an excellent chocolate offering as the wine was, believe it or not, a Merlot, the 2016 Clos Roareti. An unusual choice. And an unusual project, according to Giuseppe, that began in 1999 in a region near Verona where there was no Merlot. But they succeeded and produced their first bottles in 2006. “Now (we were drinking the 2016) the vines have matured, there is a good richness and concentration but not too much. It has spent 12 months in barrel and this 2016 is still a baby. Production is limited and the bottles are individually numbered.”

The Menu
Heritage Tomato, Macroom Mozzarella, Hazelnut, Balsamic Dressing
Pinot Grigio 2018

West Cork Scallops, Parsnip, Gubbeen Chorizo, Blood orange
Soave DOP Classico 2016

Roast Monkfish, Risotto Nero, Parma Ham, Confit Tomato
Valpolicella Ripasso 2013

Haulie’s Beef Cheek, potato, Wild Garlic, Grilled Sprouting Broccoli and Carrot
3CRU Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2013

Guinness and Chocolate Cake, Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Clos Roareti Rosso Veronese (IGT) 2016
The Lifeboat Inn
Courtmacsherry
Co. Cork.
For more on the Rizzardi wines, please check the O'Brien website

Monday, March 18, 2019

Cafe Paradiso. World Champion Farm-to-Plate


Cafe Paradiso. World Champion Farm-to-Plate
Aubergine parcels (Paradiso pic)

If I put my all too infrequent visits to Café Paradiso together, the common carrot would be the common thread. 

Maybe I shouldn’t say the common carrot as there is nothing common about the way the vegetable is treated here. You can get it in any state from raw baby (with leaves attached) to roasted as we did last Friday evening. Besides, these carrots come from Gort na Nain Farm and the long-standing combination of that farm and this leading Irish restaurant has seen Denis Cotter of Paradiso and Ultan Walsh of Gort na Nain win the Collaboration of the Year prize at the recent World Restaurant Awards in Paris.
Baby carrots (2013)

I think my first carrot experience on Lancaster Quay was  Baby Carrots with buttermilk yoghurt and the kombu. Last Friday’s was Roast carrots, Macroom buffalo mozzarella, burnt aubergine, honey, pickled fennel, ras-el-hanout crumb. Being a country boy, I’m partial to carrot, have grown and eaten a lot of them, but this was exceptional, soft and sweet and so well enhanced by the other bits and pieces.

That was one of our starters - we were sharing them as it’s a great way to extend the excellent experience here in this busy, buzzy room, a very popular place even before world recognition! 
Roast carrots (2019)

Our other opener was Kohlrabi, asparagus and daikon salad, pickled rhubarb and radish, lamb’s lettuce, black garlic, hazelnut, sheep’s milk labneh. An entirely different dish, more colourful, full of crunchy texture, one to crunch and savour each delicious biteful. Just as with the carrot, you can feel the freshness. 

These vegetables haven’t travelled far! Just from the farm in Nohoval - by the way, their vegetable stall was due to open this month. Check the Gort-na-Nain facebook for updates here.

Paradiso has a superb wine list. The lower end and the slow-moving higher end were chopped from the list about three years ago and what remains is packed with quality, great choices, between approximately thirty and fifty five euro a bottle. By the way, all the wines are available by the glass, by 250ml (quartino) and 500ml (mezzo) carafe and by the bottle.
Corn pancakes

We had started with the Domaine Séguinot Bordet Chablis 1er Cru 2016, bright and vivacious, harmonious from start to finish. And our second wine - we knew we had to have this even before we left home - was the superb Jean Foillard Morgon ‘Cote du Py’, 2016. This natural wine, intense and soft, from Beaujolais is one the very best expressions of the Gamay grape you are likely to come across. 
Kohlrabi


Corn pancakes of leek, parsnip and Dunmanus cheese (by Durrus), potato-wild garlic terrine, fennel-caper salsa, smoked tomato is a delightful main dish, very highly recommended if you get an opportunity to call in.

Again we were sharing and we both enjoyed the Aubergine parcels of spinach and Knockalara sheep’s cheese, miso gravy, walnut crumb, beluga lentils, broad beans, purple potato. Thought that the potato was beetroot at first - all those coloured vegetables nowadays makes it hard to keep up!

One of my friends, who travels widely in the hospitality industry, told me a few years back: "It is not alone the best vegetarian restaurant in Ireland, it is probably the best restaurant in Ireland”. I wonder has the Michelin man ever called to Lancaster Quay.


16 Lancaster Quay
Cork
Tel: +353 21 4277 939
Opening Hours: Monday - Saturday, 17:30 - 21.30

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Dockland's Post-Christmas Delights


Dockland's Post-Christmas Delights
Curry

Amazing how the Turkey and Ham (and the spiced beef) seem to overstretch their welcome every single Christmas. Time to get out and about and away from the many variations of that particular diet and no better place to head to than the beautifully decorated Dockland on Lapps Quay. Open from 2.00pm (on the 28th December) and we arrived soon afterwards to a warm welcome and a meal that was right on the money.
Broccoli Caesar Salad

Don’t get me wrong  - you may have lots of meats here. They offer Toulouse Sausage and Clonakilty Black pudding among the starters, Lamb and Steak among the mains. But definitely no turkey!

There’s Baltimore Shiitake with all the little trimmings and also a West Cork Crab crepe offered on the Bites to Bigger Bites list. On a previous visit, I had tasted the Chargrilled Broccoli tender stem Caesar Salad with toasted hazelnuts, parmesan crumble, and parmesan cheese (€6.00). This was every bit as good, as tasty, as I remembered.
Aubergine, Mozzarella

And CL also had a winner in her Roasted aubergine, Macroom Mozzarella,  tomato fondue bake, parmesan, pesto (also six euro), juicy and delicious, another lovely “Bite” in this attractive space.

No less than eleven choices (meat, fish, duck included) on the Mains List, pork belly too and fish cakes. The Dahl took my fancy: Spiced lentil and sweet potato Dahl, spinach, basmati rise, poppadum crisps, yogurt (16.00). Superb, a lovely mix of flavour and texture and quite a feed too.

Our other mains was the Thai Green chicken curry, basmati rice, cucumber mint salad (18.00). This has been well tried and tested here and was spot-on, nicely spiced, no shortage of top notch chicken and overall quite a treat.

At this stage too, Beth’s Picpoul de Pinet had proved itself a terrific match to both the mains. Happy New Year to Dockland, to Beth and Harold and their terrific staff. Service was once again terrific - it wasn’t that mighty busy in mid-afternoon - but we enjoyed the smiles and the chats as always.
Dahl
Hadn’t noticed this before but they do have an excellent gin list here, a good mix of Irish and imported. The offer includes Dingle, Blackwater and Gunpowder. Most local of all is Cork Dry Gin and that comes with Rosemary, Lemon, and Fever-tree Tonic (9.00). 

Tanqueray, Hendricks, and Beefeater are among the imports. And here too you’ll find the Botanist. This Scottish gin is a favourite of mine and here they offer it with Lavender, Lemon, and Mediterranean Fever-Tree Tonic (10.00). Bottoms up!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Inchydoney Island & Maison Louis Jadot. Location and Terroir Combine

Inchydoney Island & Maison Louis Jadot
Stunning Combination of Location and Terroir

Isn’t the Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa one of the best situated hotels in the country? One of the most welcoming too! Can’t recall any other greeting me (and every guest) at reception with a glass of the excellent (and local) Stonewell Tawny. And when you leave, well there is a pot (a very tasty one too) of their own Winter-Berry Jam. 


So now add in a wine dinner with the renowned Maison Louis Jadot and you can understand I was in a foodie heaven. The weather didn’t exactly cooperate (it was about 12 hours behind schedule!) so the event didn't quite live up to the Burgundy on the Beach title but it was top class in every aspect.

The beach-side hotel, miles of sand to each side, supports quite a few local producers and a few were featured in the five course menu. But I spotted many also in the ancillary menus: Kids, Sandwiches, Room Service, and Afternoon Tea. Some of those included were: Clonakilty Pork, Bushby Strawberries, cheesemakers (Coolea, Cashel Blue, and Bandon Vale), Timoleague Ham, Ummera Smokehouse, and Shannonvale Chicken. Breakfast is also quite an occasion, some great choices on the menu (hot and cold) and lovely service in a smashing room.

And that Gulfstream Restaurant, with its windows looking down on the Atlantic,  was also the venue for the Wine Tasting Dinner at which I was an invitee. The guests met in the superb lounge and we were welcomed with some tasty canapés and a cool glass of Chablis, by Louis Jadot bien sur. This bright and fresh wine was just the ticket to get the evening off to an excellent start, the canapés vanishing and the chats starting.
Starter

Marie-Pierre Dardouillet (left), Export Director with Maison Louis Jadot, supported by distributors Findlater's, was introduced in the restaurant before dinner. And, not wanting to interfere with the flow of the dinner, spoke about the three white wines, produced by Jadot from their 250 hectares of vineyard.

The Chablis comes from the northern part of Burgundy, somewhat cooler than the second wine, the fresh and fruity Saint-Véran. This comes from a small village in the Maconnais region, “nice to compare the two, side by side”. Both are produced from Chardonnay. Generally, white wines from here are Chardonnay, reds are Pinot Noir.

Soon we would “meet” the third white, the Meursault, another 100 per cent Chardonnay. This is fermented in wooden barrels and aged 15 months before bottling. “well balanced oakiness, much more complex and deep,” said Marie-Pierre. A beautiful wine, full-fruited bouquet, generous palate and a long finish and a terrific match with the Gulfstream Seafood Assiette.
Seafood Assiette

Now too sure which I was most looking forward to try: the fillet of Macroom beef or the Nuits-Saint-George. The wine is one of the region’s most famous wines, aged in oak barrels for 12 months, deep of colour and flavour. Marie-Pierre: “Lots of structure, tannin. Elegant.” Mais oui!

For our final wine, we moved south from Burgundy to Beaujolais next door and that meant a change of grape from the Pinot Noir of the Nuits-Saint-George to the Gamay.
Fillet

As you might expect, it wasn't any old Gamay (Beaujolais nouveau for instance is a Gamay) but a cru. There are ten crus in Beaujolais and Moulin-a-Vent (Windmill) was where our wine was produced. “The Gamay thrives on the granite soil and this spends 12 months in barrel. It is much more fruit driven and will be interesting with dessert!”, said Maire-Pierre. Probably not the best match but a lovely wine that I more or less held back until my plate was cleared. Then I enjoyed it and its reviving acidity all the more!

And those plates. Thanks to Head Chef Adam Medcalf and his crew, they looked splendid from start to finish.

The starter was Macroom Buffalo Cheese Plate: crisp Feta and polenta, Ricotta pannacotta, Mozzarella and Tomato Tian with beetroot, sun-dried tomato and rocket. 

The fish course was entitled Gulfstream Seafood Assiette and consisted of Ummera Smoked Salmon and crab roulade, sugar cubed salmon, crisp fried squid with a celeriac remoulade, pickled cucumber, quail egg and a bisque reduction.

The came the Roasted Fillet of Macroom Beef with a lobster and prawn crust, fondant potato, celeriac purée, shiitake mushroom and a horseradish cream sauce.

Time then for dessert: Roasted Rhubarb and orange pannacotta with ginger biscuit Ice-cream.

The lovely evening was drawing to a conclusion but Ruth McCarthy, Director of Sales & Marketing at Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa, cheered the guests up with a promise of “many more evenings like this”. Marie-Pierre complimented the hotel kitchen saying the food was "very good". “Hope you enjoyed the wines and see you in Burgundy.” Inchydoney on tour. Now who’s organising that trip.

The Gulfstream Restaurant
Also on this trip:
Syrian Food at Bandon's Bayleaf.
Bantry Market Every Friday



Thursday, May 4, 2017

Cafe Paradiso. Seasons On The Quay

Cafe Paradiso

Seasons On The Quay
Aubergine parcels
Flatbread and orange wine (Ageno)
Seasons come. Seasons go. Café Paradiso notes the comings and the goings in the fields, in the orchards, in the gardens. The orders go out, the fresh produce comes in. Seasons are key. And the customers keep coming to the amazing restaurant on Cork’s Lancaster Quay.

Good food calls for good wine and you get that here too on a finely selected list that includes quite a few organic and natural wines. And all are available in four sizes: 150ml glass, carafes of 250ml (quartino) and 500ml (mezzo), and the full bottle of course.

Beetroot rasam
We started our early evening visit with a few nibbles: olives, nuts and a delicious seeded flatbread. As we nibbled we picked our wines. My choice was La Stoppa Ageno 2011, a lovely orange wine, made by Elena Pantaleoni in Emilia Romagna (who'll be in Dublin and Cork next week with Le Caveau) while CL’s was the Terras Gauda O Rosal Albarino 2016, one of the best of that now very popular variety.

You may need a little help here with the wine and menu if you’re not a regular. We did and it was given freely and informed our choices. 

Roast carrots, cheese
My starter was the Roast carrots, Macroom buffalo mozzarella, burnt aubergine, honey, pickled fennel, ras-el-hanout crumb, a gorgeous plate, full of flavours and textures and not a little colour.

And it was the colour of the other dish that first caught the eye but CL’s beetroot rasam, cauliflower kofta, cucumber coconut raita, a warm soup, had much more going for it as well.
Lemon Risotto and Artichokes
On to the mains then where I enjoyed the Aubergine parcels of spinach and sheep’s cheese with beluga lentils, miso gravy, pine-nut crumb, samphire, and radish. I do like aubergine and it was brilliant as were the lentils, indeed everything on the plate.

CL meanwhile was delighted with her Confit artichokes, broad beans & scallions with lemon risotto, parsley broth, hazelnut crumb, and Cratloe Hills sheep’s cheese. Again every little piece was polished off and that lemon flavoured risotto was something else.
Pear, Pecan pudding
Vin Santo
 A short dessert list but no lack of temptation though I went a little off piste with Vin Santo with Cantucci Biscotti. And I enjoyed that sweet holy wine (sweet yes, but well balanced) as I begged for a few spoonfuls of the delicious Roast Pear, Pecan Pudding and Beamish Ice-cream that CL had ordered. That Pecan Pudding could be a dessert on its own.


All in all, a lovely meal. And indeed a lovely relaxed evening at Café Paradiso where the welcome and the service left nothing to be desired.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Veronica Steele. Pioneer in Irish cheese. Focus too on County Cork in new Oxford Companion to cheese.

Veronica Steele. Pioneer in Irish cheese.
Focus too on County Cork in new Oxford Companion to cheese.
A buffalo on Johnny Lynch's farm, near Macroom
Pioneer cheesemaker Veronica Steele is credited with the development of modern Irish artisanal cheese and County Cork cheese in general gets a section to itself in the The Oxford Companion to Cheese, due to be published on December 1st. 


The 1084 page book, edited by Dr Catherine Donnelly, is the first major reference work dedicated to cheese and contains 855 A-Z entries in cheese history, culture, science and production. 

In the early 1970s, Steele and her husband, Norman, a lecturer in philosophy at Trinity College Dublin, decided to leave the city and the academic life in favour of raising a family on a small farm. 

Veronica first experimented to provide an alternative to processed cheese for her family and to preserve the excess milk from their one cow. She eventually evolved a soft and pungent washed rind cheese called Milleens. It was a great success and by 1981 was selling in shops and restaurants throughout Ireland and as far away as London and Paris. 

Steele was also inspired by cheesemaking as a route to viability for a rural area struggling with high unemployment. Today, Veronica and Norman’s son Quinlan carry on the tradition of making Milleens, but the book says that all of Ireland owes Veronica Steele a debt of gratitude for her vision and generosity of spirit. 

The big breakthrough for Milleens came when Declan Ryan and Myrtle Allen tasted her cheese and enthusiastically featured their discovery on the cheese boards of two of Ireland’s most renowned restaurants, Arbutus Lodge and Ballymaloe House.

The West Cork washed-rind cheeses Milleens, Durrus, Gubbeen, and North Cork’s Ardrahan, each has an international reputation, and were all created by remarkable, spirited women, most inspired by Veronica. The flavour of Milleens is reminiscent of Munster (not the local Munster!).

Jeffa Gill started to make her semi-soft, washed-rind Durrus cheese on her hillside farm in Coomkeen on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula in 1979. She too was one of the first generation of Irish farmhouse cheese-makers. Using artisanal methods, Jeffa and her team, gently and slowly craft a cheese that is closely linked to the land and the mild and humid climate.

Gubbeen farmhouse cheese is made from the milk of Tom and Giana Ferguson’s herd of Friesian, Jersey, Simmental, and Kerry cows. One of the distinguishing characteristics of Gubbeen cheese is the unique type of microflora on the rind, which has now been identified and given the name Microbacterium gubbeenense.

Ardrahan, made by Mary Burns near Kanturk in North Cork since 1983, is possibly the feistiest and most pungent of all the washed-rind cheeses of County Cork.

Although the washed-rind cows milk cheeses have the highest profile they are by no means the whole cheese story of County Cork. Other fine cheeses, made from both cows milk and goats milk and now buffalo, round out Cork’s contribution to cheesemaking. 
Coolea

Dick and Helene Willems started making Coolea cheese in 1979 as a way to use up excess raw milk from their own herd of cattle and to provide the Gouda cheese that they were craving from their native Netherlands. Their son Dicky continues to make the superb cheese using milk from two local herds. 

Dicky told me an interesting story on a recent visit. Their cheese was to be called Milleens after the local townland but that was knocked on the head as the Steeles, further west, on the Beara peninsula, and living in a townland of the same name, had just started making a cheese called Milleens. And so the Coolea brand was born.
St Gall, by Fermoy
Frank Shinnick and his German wife, Gudrun, began making raw-milk cheese in 1996 from their own dairy herd outside Fermoy, in North Cork. The cheeses are made in a 396-gallon (1,500-litre) copper vat procured at considerable effort from Switzerland. Fermoy cheeses are part of the Slow Food raw-milk cheese presidium. 

There are many other cheesemakers in the Cork area, such as the O’Farrells in Carrigaline and the Hegartys in Whitechurch, both well established. 

“I love the smoked cheese”, declared Padraig O’Farrell during a visit. “It is indigenous to Carrigaline. The milk is local, and the wood, old beech, is local. And we smoke it out the back.”

Hegarty’s make cheddar and their more mature versions are in great demand. The oldest is indeed the more popular though, according to Dan Hegarty, his bank manager would prefer if the youngest was in top position!



Goats Milk Cheeses 


Jane Murphy

Jane Murphy, a microbiologist by profession, is perhaps the queen of goats milk cheese in County Cork, having started to make cheese on the Ardsallagh farm in 1980. At the other side of the city, Orchard Cottage thrives as does Blue Bells Falls in Newtownshandrum in North Cork.  



In Kilmichael, you’ve got the Sunview goats. Further west, on Cape Clear Island off West Cork, the remarkable blind cheesemaker Ed Harper makes small quantities of cheese from the milk of British Alpine goats that graze on his beautiful rocky farmland.

New Cheesemakers

Franco, cheesemaker at Toons Bridge Dairy, near Macroom
A few years back, neighbours Toby Simmonds and Johnny Lynch imported water buffalo and began making Toons Bridge mozzarella. A “parting” saw Johnny continue to make and sell the cheese, but now under the Macroom label.

There followed a burst of creativity at Toby’s Toons Bridge dairy and a few interesting Italian style cheeses emerged, including Cacio Cavallo (traditionally tied in pairs and transported to market by pack horse). And thanks to an Italian living near by, who has a small herd of sheep, Toons Bridge also began to make Vicenza’s Pecorino.
Cacio Cavallo (mainly) in Toons Bridge
And two new cheesemakers have emerged in East Cork this year. You’ll find the cheddar style cheese from the farm of Bó Rua used in the 12 mile menu at Midleton’s Sage Restaurant and on sale generally. Not too far away, Stephen Bender produces a delicious Gouda style cheese called Ballinrostig.

Looks like there’s no end to what Veronica Steele started!

The Oxford companion, the most comprehensive work on cheese available, has drawn on an astonishing 325 authors (from 35 countries), from cheesemakers and cheese retailers to dairy scientists, microbiologists, historians and anthropologists. 

It is a landmark encyclopaedia, the most wide-ranging, comprehensive, and reliable reference work on cheese available, suitable for both novices and industry insiders alike.

* Cork has a butter museum. Time now for a cheese museum?

See also:
Cashel Blue featured in new Oxford Companion to Cheese




Sunday, January 10, 2016

Cafe Paradiso. Back to the Garden.


Cafe Paradiso. Back to the Garden

Eden may have been lost with a single bite of forbidden fruit but the garden can always be regained, at least in the Cork region, with a visit to Cafe Paradiso. No fruit, no vegetable forbidden here! Every meal in the city centre restaurant reinforces what one of my friends, who travels widely in the hospitality industry, told me a few years back: "It is not alone the best vegetarian restaurant in Ireland, it is probably the best restaurant in Ireland".

And what is perhaps not generally known, except to the regulars of course, is that Paradiso has a superb wine list. The lower end and the slow-moving higher end have been chopped from the list and what remains is packed with quality, great choices, between approximately thirty and forty five euro a bottle.

We were part of a seven person group the other night so the wines were shared, along with many a good laugh. Good advice on the wine list is also available and so we started with the Höpler Grüner Veltliner 2014, 12.5% Burgenland, Austria and finished with the Friedrich Becker Spatburgunder Pinot Noir 2011, 13.5%, Pfalz, Germany.
Aubergine parcels....
Others we could have had included the Susana Balbo ’Crios’ Malbec 2013, 14%, Mendoza, Argentina and the Alvaro Palacios La Montesa Rioja 2012 in the reds while among the whites that caught my eye were Wittmann Riesling Trocken 2012, 12% Rheinhessen, Germany and the Dos Victorias ‘Jose Pariente’ Verdejo 2013, 13%, Rueda. But it is easy to get a good one here as the list is really superb. If you’re not sure, just ask your server! By the way, all the wines are available by the glass, by 250ml and 500ml carafe and by the bottle.

Back to the food then and I'm not going to bore you with all the details. We picked the three course option here and you have lots of choice for forty euro. Two courses will set you back thirty three euro.

I had been toying with going for the truffled sunchoke soup with hazelnut gougere and buttered shiitake from a list of six starters (all tempting) but settled instead on the Macroom Buffalo Mozzarella with roasted carrots, pickled fennel, chermoula, preserved lemon and pistachio dukka. Amazing flavours and textures on this plate and the roast carrots came in for compliments all around the table.
Choc dessert...

CL meanwhile was delighted with her choice: roast beetroot, braised scorzonera and Knockalara sheep’s cheese with watercress, orange pickle and ras-el-hanout crumb. Colour, flavour, texture all combined, the dish showing that beetroot goes as well with sheep’s as goat’s. Great stuff indeed.

There were also six choices of mains but, amazingly, the majority of our group went for the roast aubergine parcels of cavolo nero and coolea cheese with miso gravy, beluga lentils,

pumpkin gnocchi and a green pepper and caramelised walnut salsa. Aubergine is one of my favourite vegetables in any restaurant but this was vegetable heaven, every little bit, the gravy, the lentils. Even CL polished off the gnocchi, usually left on the side! “These were good ones”, I was told.

And you must try the sides as they are superb as well. They do include sprouts but not like you've known them. Here they are served with tomato, chilli and ginger and well worth the fiver as are the Paradiso chips with truffled aioli.

Time then, and desire too, for dessert. Lots of temptation but I made up my mind early on the Orange and Date Bread and Butter Pudding and its Rum Custard. Oh la la! And other desserts enjoyed at the table included a Dark chocolate mousse with gingered pear and salted caramel popcorn and also Vanilla pod ice cream with brutti ma buoni, espresso and a shot of frangelico. A sweet end to a terrific meal and service was flawless throughout. Very Highly Recommended.


More desserts, including popular Orange and Date pudding
The menu here is based largely on local and seasonal produce.  Gortnanain Farm is the primary source of veg (and honey). All cheeses (which include Coolea and Macroom) are Irish except for Feta and Halloumi. Mushrooms are Ballyhoura or foraged. More details on the restaurant, founded 23 years ago, here.

Cafe Paradiso
16 Lancaster Quay
Cork
(021) 427 7939
Opening Hours: Dinner Monday – Saturday, 5.30 – 10.00pm



Monday, October 5, 2015

Quinlan's Fish is the Supreme Champion in Blas

QUINLAN'S FISH WINS 2015 BLAS NA hÉIREANN’S SUPREME CHAMPION AWARD
Just slide your little finger under the central loop
and take this four pack away. You don't have to be
as strong as the legendary Tom Crean. 

- Cork-based Bainne Codladh take Best Artisan Producer for its Lullaby Milk -

A family-run seafood business based in Caherciveen, Co. Kerry, Quinlan’s Fish, has won the prestigious Supreme Champion Award at this year’s Blas na hÉireann, The Irish Food Awards. The company’s winning entry is its fresh crabmeat. The entry won over the judges’ taste-buds because of its fabulous flavour, freshness and delicate texture.

There were more than 2000 entries for this year’s Awards from all over Ireland, making it the biggest competition of Irish produce on the island of Ireland. Adjudication involved over 400 independent judges over a period of three weeks. The winners were announced on Saturday night, 3rd October in Dingle, Co. Kerry - Ireland's foodiest town.

The highly acclaimed Blas na hÉireann awards have been setting the standards for Irish food producers for eight years and the number of entries this year broke all records, proving the value and vitality of the Irish food and drinks sector. For the winners, these awards are known to open doors to new markets at home and abroad

‘We are absolutely thrilled,’ said Liam Quinlan of Quinlan’s Fish. ‘We have four premium fish shops as well as three seafood bars supplying our produce direct from tide to table. My father, Michael, started the business 52 years ago and it has been 52 years of hard work since then. This is the biggest award and honour we have ever received and I hope it shows that quality always shines through,’ said Liam.

The Best Artisan Award, also sponsord by An Bord Bia, was won by Bainne Codhladh of Kanturk Co Cork, who won with its Lullaby milk. By taking the milk from the cows during the night it contains naturally high levels of melatonin which helps with sleep. It is particularly effective for babies with sleeping difficulties.


Also announced as prize-winners were:

Best New Product (Sponsored by Invest NI): Wild Irish Foragers of Birr, Co. Offaly for their Honeysuckle Shrub

Best Artisan Award (Sponsored by An Bord Bia): Bainne Codhladh Ltd of Kanturk, Co. Cork for their Lullaby Milk

Best Export Opportunity Award (Sponsored by Pan Euro Foods): Hannan Meats of Moira, Co. Armagh 

Best Start-Up (Sponsored by AIB): Cornude Popcorn: Cornude Artisan Popcorn is a range of yummy gourmet popcorn flavours freshly made in the Liberties in Dublin. 

Best Seafood Innovation (Sponsored by Bord Iascaigh Mhara): Kinsale Fare Limited, Co. Cork for Hake in a Mild Yellow Curry

Rogha na Gaeltachta / Best Emerging Producer in Gaeltacht area: Macroom Buffalo Mozzarella, which is produced from a herd of over 150 buffaloes on a farm at Cill na Martra. 

Best Packaging Innovation Award (UCC School Food Nutritional Sciences): Dingle Brewing Company, Dingle, Co. Kerry which hand crafts Tom Crean’s Irish lager.

Producers’ Champion 2015: Minister for Agriculture and Food, Simon Coveney. Following a survey of over 2,000 producers, Minister Simon Coveney was selected by the producers themselves as their Champion for 2015, in recognition of his efforts to promote Irish food producers and their products at home and abroad.

See the full list of the 2015 winners here.


This year’s Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards attracted over 2,000 entries, making it the biggest competition of Irish produce on the island of Ireland. Every county in the country is represented. The final judging took place on Thursday last, 1 October at the Dingle Skellig Hotel. The winners were announced at an Awards Presentation at the Phoenix Cinema in Dingle on Saturday, 3 October as part of the annual Dingle Peninsula Food Festival. Prizes were awarded in some 100 categories.