Showing posts with label Manning's Emporium. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Manning's Emporium. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Flirty Nouveau’s on her way but here’s some Beaujolais that will stay around.


Flirty Nouveau’s on her way but here’s some Beaujolais that will stay.

I’ve known for a while now that the annual Nouveau affair is not meant to last very long. She’s certainly a palate pleaser, with "more of a floral bouquet" this year, and even those wine-merchants who talk her down during the year are all so eager to sing her praises while she’s on the premises. By all means enjoy the date. But, when the one-night stand is over, it will be time to take a look for a more long-lasting relationship with Beaujolais and I've got a few mature suggestions from my little black book!

Chateau du Chatelard Brouilly, Karwig €19.25
Karwig Wines have relied on Chateau du Chatelard for years now and I’ve always liked their Brouilly (19.25). There are ten Crus in Beaujolais and Brouilly is the largest. This bottle has concentrated aromas and flavours. It may throw a little sediment so no harm in decanting it. Enjoy and look forward to a longer acquaintance!
Jamie Goode gave a
Beaujolais masterclass in
Cork earlier this year.

Juliénas, Domaine de la Conseillère, €20.95, O’Brien’s
This is pretty much faultless: expressive fruity aromas, well rounded, ripe fruit, long finish.

Chateau des Jacques Moulin À Vent 2012, €28.00 Mitchell & Son
A challenging vintage from the best known cru. Vineyard owned by Louis Jadot since 1996. This is a Burgundian style, oak included, the colour is towards Pinot Noir. At a Louis Jadot tasting with Findlaters earlier in the year, I found it very approachable, fruit driven with a refreshing acidity. In Moulin à Vent, the Gamay grape thrives on the granite soil and this spends 12 months in barrel!

Domaine Jean Foillard Cote du Py, Morgon 2013, €34.20 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny
This, from the second largest of the crus, is a standout wine.

Colour is a light ruby. Look closer and you’ll see a little cloudiness - no worries, this is a natural wine. Aromas hint of red cherry, berries too. The palate is out on its own, red fruits and a little spice, that typical balancing acidity again, tannins are fine and then a superb finalé.

The fact that the vines are grown on “one of the best sites of the entire Beaujolais region”, on an extinct volcano, plus the use of minimum intervention (the use of oak is minimal), makes this a rather unique expression of the Gamay. You could well settle down with this single vineyard Beaujolais gem.

Dominique Morel Fleurie (AP) Vieilles Vignes 2015, €23.99 JJ O’Driscoll’s Cork, Manning’s Emporium Ballylickey, Wine Online, World Wide Wines

In Fleurie, Gamay, always refreshing and never short of acidity, thrives on the granite soil. Fleurie is an excellent partner for a wide variety of lighter dishes.

Here the colour is mid ruby. Very aromatic with delicate cherry scents, floral notes too, an inviting melange.The silky palate is bursting with fruit flavours and tannins close to velvety, very elegant indeed with no shortage of the concentration expected here, more heft indeed than you'd expect, and with a long and satisfying finish.

This is an excellent example of the expressive Gamay, no doubt helped by the fact that the fruit was well ripened in the good 2015 vintage.

Beaujolais rocks



Villa Ponciago Les Pierres Bleues Morgon 2016, Searson's 21.95

The fruit is grown on a mix of blue schist and ancient igneous type rocks. Complex aromas, excellent fruit, some grip, acidity too and a superb finish. Very very impressive. In 2016 and 2017, the quantity of wine produced in Beaujolais was down because of hail but the quality was up.





Saint Amour, Maison Jean Loron, Domaine Des Billards, Classic Drinks.

If your love is on the serious side rather than flirty, then this Saint Amour is the Beaujolais for you and him/her. Colour is a youthful ruby with aromas of small red fruits combined with a spicy note of chocolate is unveiled quickly. In the mouth, the attack is round and supple, then a pleasant and persistent. A beauty from the most northerly Cru. The 2017 edition earned 16.50 from 20 from Jancis Robinson.


Monday, October 8, 2018

My West Cork Package


Sandycove, near Kinsale
My West Cork Package
Summer 2018

I'm often asked where I've been for the holidays and I often get sympathetic looks when I answer Ireland (can't bring myself to say staycation!). But I'm not in need of that the kind of sympathy! Far from it. 

Didn’t realise I spent so much time (not to mention money) in West Cork this marvellous summer of 2018. But I did and I enjoyed it, every minute. So I’ve put it all together in this “package” and am hoping it will give you a few pointers if you are heading in that direction in 2019. 

Bastion

Restaurants:
Pilgrims Rosscarbery
Richy’s Clonakilty
Fish Kitchen Bantry
Supper Club Kinsale
Monk’s Lane Timoleague
Lifeboat Inn Courtmacsherry
Jim Edwards Kinsale
Cru Kinsale
Bastion Kinsale
Manning's

Lunch:
Richy’s Clonakilty
De Barra's Pub in Clon

Pubs:
Scannell’s Clonakilty
De Barra’s Clonakilty
Eccles. Window view

Stay:
Fruit at De Barra Lodge
De Barra Lodge
You'll find it hard to get a B&B breakfast better than that served up by Sinéad at their lovely house near Rosscarbery. Here you'll see the cows grazing, the rabbits sunning themselves and the hens (who provide the eggs for your breakfast) in their run by the house. The dining-room is brilliantly lit by a series of Velux windows. It, and indeed, the bedrooms are comfortable and spacious. And Sinéad and her husband will themselves drive you to the village if you have your evening meal booked there.

Glendine House
Mick and Mari are the owners of Glendine House on the edge of Clon. Both are "blow-ins" but each is well involved in the life of the town and contribute much of their time. They too have their own hens and the produce for the breakfast is more or less all local including that of the Clonakilty Black Pudding Company. The house is about an eight minute walk downhill to the town centre (a bit further on the return!). You get a terrific welcome here and plenty of help and advice on what to do in the area. It is comfortable and well equipped (loved the shower-unit here!).

Inchydoney Lodge
Courtmacsherry

Maritime
I usually stay about once a year in Bantry's Maritime. It it so central with an underground car park just across the way and a very warm welcome. Well equipped too and spacious, with a lovely dining room where you may enjoy your breakfast. The bedrooms have all you want and all have great views out over the magnificent bay. Lots of music in the bar during the season. Would love to see some local craft beer on tap here but they do carry some good ones in bottle.

Ballydehob

Visit:
Garinish Island
Gougane Barra


Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Taste of West Cork Festival. A Personal Selection of the September Events.


A Taste of West Cork Festival
Some of the Best.
There is so much to do in next month’s major festival, A Taste of West Cork: over 250 events, spread over 41 towns and villages and eight islands. And, despite the one hundred thousand welcomes, you’ll find it difficult enough to make your choices. So, this is where my digest comes in. 

While I don’t know West Cork like the back of my hand, I have a decent amount of experience there, including at this festival. So, if you lose patience with the official multi-page guide (especially if you’re reading it online), check out these suggestions divided into BARGAIN, OFF PLATE (eating not essential!), A/N (afternoon), EVENING, and BtB (bust the budget). Some of these are free or have just nominal charges. 

By the way, I have omitted the guest chefs/pop up events. I have mixed feelings on these because I’ve had mixed experience of them. I’ll leave the decision up to yourself but do get as much information from the venue in advance as possible and that should help avoid any disappointment.

The programme has been published in national and local newspapers and is available online hereSomething for everyone. Take your pick and enjoy! 

Baltimore

Friday Sep 7th
BARGAIN: Traditional Fishing, Boats, Pots and Lines. Free. 2.30 Baltimore
OFF PLATE: Lough Hyne To The Sea. Kayaking €65.00
A/N: Afternoon Sea - seafood savouries at Seaview House Hotel, Ballylickey €29.00
EVENING: Lobster Garden Party with Diana Dodog at The Lifeboat Inn, Courtmacsherry €55.00
Sherkin Island

Saturday Sep 8th
BARGAIN: The Honey Bee, with experienced bee-keeper at Organico, Bantry. €10.00.
OFF PLATE: Pencil to Garden to Plate, drawing class with Annabel Langrish at Heron Gallery Cafe €50.00 inc lunch.
A/N: Islander’s Rest BBQ with Derry Clarke. Sherkin 1.00pm €20.00
EVENING: The West Cork Food Tour. Manning’s Ballylickey from 6.00pm. Farm Tour and BBQ €80.00
BtB: The Ancient Craft of Blacksmithing at O’Driscoll Ironworks, Durrus Day long class €150.00
Garinish Island, Glengariff

Sunday Sep 9th
BARGAIN: Kilcrohane Country Fair 2-6pm. Stall, producers, music, BBQ (€5.00)
OFF PLATE: Hidden Edibles, The Ewe Experience, Glengarriff, 10.00 to 11.00am, €12.50
A/N: Tarte Tatin Demo & Tasting by John Desmond at Heir Island 2.30pm, free but pay for ferry
EVENING: The Celtic Camino Dinner at Gougane Barra Hotel. Caminos popping up everywhere. Dinner is €50.00.
BtB: ——
Michael Collins event, 10th September, Clonakilty

Monday Sep 10th
BARGAIN: Manage your own herb garden, Organico Bantry 4.00pm, €5.00
OFF PLATE: Plastic is a Plague. A seminar with distinguished speakers at Liss Ard, Skibbereen, 11.00am-3.00pm, €20.00.
A/N: Devoy’s Organic Farm visit. Vegetables, eggs, chickens stories 2.30pm Three euro
EVENING: Scannell’s Tastes of the Sea Aperitif plus 5-course feast of fish. 7.00pm €60.00
BtB: —-


Tuesday Sep 11th
BARGAIN:  The Secret Garden, The Sutherland Centre, Skibbereen. A true secret garden. Free.
OFF PLATE: Art and the Great Hunger, a guided tour of this incredible exhibition at Uillinn, Skibbereen, two euro
A/N: Cream Tea at the Top of the Rock, Drimoleague. Guided Walk around eco-farm before grand tea and scones. €12.00.
EVENING: Wine & Dine at Deasy’s in Ring. Italian wine and Caitlin Ruth’s cooking combine in five-course meal from 7.00pm for €55.00.
BtB: Heron & Grey at The Mews Inventive Tasting Menu, 7.30pm, €95.00

Wednesday Sep 12th
BARGAIN: Ummera Smokehouse, Timoleague. A marvellous visit and tasting for free. 10.30am
OFF PLATE: Bere Island and the Great Famine. Informative historical bus tour 12.00pm to 2.00pm and packed lunch €30.00. Ferry at 11.30am extra.
A/N: Wild Berry Bakery, Ballineen.  Bakery visit and samples. All proceeds to charity. Entry €5.00
EVENING: A Taste of India at Richy’s Clonakilty. Welcome drink and multi-course Indian meal by Meeran Gani Manzoor, Head Chef at Richy’s. €60.00.
BtB: Intimate Dinner at Inish Beg House on Inish Beg Island. Formal dinner surrounded by country house grandeur, silver service. €95.00

Thursday Sep 13th
BARGAIN: Tasting (and bottle to take away) for a fiver at 9 White Deer Brewery in Ballyvourney. 2.00pm
OFF PLATE: Tea and Tales on Dursey Island. Take the cable car across and then a guided bus tour with dramatic views and island stories. Tea costs 25 euro and cable car is extra.
A/N: Bean and Grain, chocolate and beer at Clonakilty Brewery. The chocolate will be by Alison of Clonakilty Chocolate and there’ll be lots of pairings. €25.00
EVENING: A Taste of Organico, hosted by Hannah and Rachel Dare who’ll have dozens of their producers on hand including Fermoy Raw Milk, Mary Pawle Wines and Sally Barnes Smokery. Samples galore and even a glass of wine is included in the 5 euro fee. 5.30pm to 8.00pm.
BtB: ——
Welcome to Union Hall Smoked Fish

Friday Sep 14th
BARGAIN: Martin Shanahan of Fishy Fishy puts on a brilliant demo, very engaging with his audience, especially the younger ones. See him from 10.00 in Fields of Skibbereen. Free.
OFF PLATE: Live Life Well. A students’ food and lifestyle conference at Skibbereen Community School. From 10.00am to 2.00pm, hear talks, see demos, and sample at the mini-market. All free.
A/N: there’s a tour of the Union Hall Smoked Fish facility at 2.00pm, a lovely family run business. The Nolan's are a generous bunch and they won’t charge you a cent yet, a similar event two years back, there was no shortage of samples and even a glass of wine.
EVENING: Real Food from Here is the title of the event at Macroom’s Castle Hotel where the Buckley family invite you to a dinner featuring real food. Real wine too from Le Caveau with Colm McCan doing the pouring and talking. €60.00 including dinner and wine. Special overnight rate.
BtB: ——
Walking on Sheep's Head

Saturday Sep 15th
BARGAIN: A 2.5 hour walk on the Sheeps Head with guide Charlie McCarthy (086 2333420). Registration at 11.30am, walk at 12 noon. Meet at the cabin Ahakista.Free
OFF PLATE: Meet at the car park in Barley Cove Hotel on your way to the Three Castle Head Walk, one of West Cork’s hidden gems, with breath-taking views. Starts at 3.30 and duration is 90 minutes. Free. Contact: 0868808190.
A/N: Fish and Whiskey Brunch is the unpriced event at the Glandore Inn with local man Bryan McCarthy doing the cooking and West Cork Distillers supplying the  spirit. All proceeds to LauraLynn children’s Hospice and Union Hall Inshore Lifeboat.
EVENING: I suspect that Taste of the Sea at Arundels by the Pier (Ahakista) will sell out fast with Head Chef Dominique Carucci presenting a delicious Taste of the Sea menu. Five courses for €50.00.
BtB: The big spenders can whip out that credit card again as they go to Eat, Drink and Sleep at the Castle, Castletownsend. At 7.00pm, the six course meal, paired with selected wines and beers, will get underway. Slip upstairs much later, wake to a spectacular view of the bay and a hearty breakfast. Cost overall: €220.00 per person.

Sunday Sep 16th.
Still a good share of events on the closing Sunday but undoubtedly the focus will be on the Festival Finalé, the Sunday Street Market in Skibbereen. It starts at noon and as usual there’ll be bands, and dancers, craft, and food to eat and take away and a children’s entertainment area. A superb finalé to a marvellous festival that encompasses over 250 events.

Reen Pier area








Monday, May 7, 2018

A Couple of Days in West Cork Syrian Food. Manning’s Emporium. An Eagle’s Nest. Burgundy on the Beach. Room with a View. Magic.


A Couple of Days in West Cork
Manning’s Emporium. Syrian Food.  An Eagle’s Nest.
Burgundy on the Beach. Room with a View. Magic.
On Garinish Island, with the Italian Garden in the centre

Mid April and we’re off to West Cork for a couple of days. We get to taste Syrian food in Bandon, lunch at the amazing and expanding Manning’s Emporium, see the eagle’s nest near Glengarriff where we stay and dine at the spectacular Eccles Hotel before a wander around the large and engaging Bantry Market.
Manning's Pizza oven

First stop is in Bandon where we had a little lunch at the Bayleaf (LINK), a restaurant serving a delicious mix of Irish and Syrian food. Then a stroll around the town and a call to Ruth at URRU for coffee and also to check out the shelves stocked well with good food and drink. URRU by the way is expanding, upwards, and Ruth is waiting patiently for the stairs to be installed! It will be an even better place to visit and relax over a cuppa.

Salad at Manning's

The first major halt is at the beachside hotel Inchydoney Lodge, a spectacular place. We are here for the Louis Jadot Burgundy Wine dinner and, before that, a walk on the beach of course.

The Ploughman

The following morning, after breakfast, we decide to take advantage of the emerging sun to walk the beach on the other side of the hotel before heading off west. First stop is at Manning's Food Emporium in Ballylickey. They too have well-stocked shelves, all kinds of food and drink.

Eagle's next, top right
But the major attraction is their expanding outside dining area (they have covered and indoor spaces too, in case of rain!). And we spot their newly installed pizza oven, going down a treat at the weekends.


A little lunch is called for on this occasion and one of us has a plate of crisp and beautiful salad while the other enjoys a delicious Ploughman’s on a baguette. Amazing freshness, colour, flavour and texture on each plate. And the tea was top class also!


On then to beautiful Glengarriff. With the sun in a strong position, it was an ideal day to visit Garinish Island. We got the boat at the lovely Blue Pool and our skipper took great care of us, making sure we had lots of time to enjoy the seals lazing on the rocks and then he pointed out the lofty tree top nest of the sea eagles. Enjoyed the walk around the island - we’ve been there a few times before - especially the climb to the Martello tower and the Italian Garden. 

There is a new attraction here now, a guided tour of Bryce House. You need to plan this into your schedule. It starts at quarter past the hour and takes about 45 minutes. We didn’t have quite enough time but will visit on the next occasion. The ferry charge is 12 euro and there is a 5 euro fee to visit the island.
On Garinish, Italian Garden
 More seals and another look up at the nest (there was an eagle standing there) as we made our leisurely way back to the Blue Pool. Time then to check in at the Eccles. We had specified a room with a view and it was rather special. After a little drink in the hotel's Harbour Bar, we strolled up to the village.

Dinner in the bar (the main restaurant opens for the main tourist season) was excellent. Breakfast was actually served in that lovely main restaurant, the Garinish, and that set us nicely. It was another sunny morning and ideal for a visit to the huge Bantry Market where everything from the best of local food to bric-a-brac is for sale. Well worth a visit.

Links for this visit:
Bantry Market


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Vinostito at Spit Cork! No Motor Bike and Wine Without Make-Up.


Vinostito at Spit Cork!
No Motor Bike. Wine Without Make-Up.

Antonio Lorente may have left his motor bike in Dublin but he and Vinostito partner Rafa Salazar made it to Cork for the Spit Tasting yesterday in the River Lee Hotel. Naturally enough, the company is know for its strong Spanish focus but over the last four years or more have begun to add wines from other countries to their portfolio. We love wine, they say, and good wine knows no borders. Not all Rioja wines, for instance, are contained within the administrative area of La Rioja.

I am surprised to see the Basque Txakoli wine, with its high acidity, on restaurant lists here and asked Antonio if it was a hard sell on the Irish market. “It was, at the start,” he said. “But now it is more accepted, it is very good for vegetable dishes and spicy food.” Would love to see an Irish server pouring it from shoulder hight into a tumbler by his waist as they do in Hondarribia and other Basque towns!

Sometimes, for whatever reason, a good wine doesn't take off in the market. We asked him if he thought any of their whites were under-appreciated. He pointed to the Bodegas Contreras Ruiz Edalo 2017 from Condado de Huelva. The grape variety here is the little known Zalema and the wine is very fresh, light and fruity. Very drinkable indeed. That reminds me I have a nephew living in Huelva - I may well be sending him a request before his next visit home.
Yours truly with Andrew (from Manning's, Ballylickey). Pic by Rafa!

Xarel-lo, used mostly in Cava and “seldom seen as a still wine”, was the next grape to explore, thanks to Cellar Pardas Rupestris 2016. This blend of Xarel-lo, Malvasia de Sidges and red Xarel-lo, is produced biodynamically and, like the Edalo, it is fresh and also excellent.

Had a short list of Vinostito reds to taste but that expanded - I wonder why! First I was interested in the Casa de Passarella A Descoberta, Colheita Tinto 2014. This blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Alfrcheiro, and Jaen, from Portugal’s DÃO, had a vivid colour and aromas, great fruit, lovely balance, long finish, quite a charmer all round.

On to the Douro then and Xisto iLimitado Tinto 2015 by Luis Seabra, another excellent red, this produced from a blend of Touriga Franca, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Malvasia Preta and Dozelinho. No wonder the supermarket go mad when trying to get all that onto the label. This wine from the Douro though is well worth it!



Now for another of the wines without make-up - forget where I read that but its certainly applies to Filipa Pato Tinto 2017 and to many of the wines here, most of them organic or close to it. Full bodied, black fruit, velvety tannins and acidity all in comfortable alignment. Amazing.

I’d have been happy to stop there and move on to another table but then I spotted the familiar netting and read the label: Rafael Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonia Reserva 2005. I had visited tis bodega in Haro and was hooked; glad to be hooked by this brilliant wine and there were similar comments to the left and to the right of me.

If you ever do get the chance, buy (as many as you can) of the amazing aged whites from their Riojan winery. They also do an aged Rosé but only when the year is good, so the supply is scarce. Antonio told me they had managed to get some but alas they were quickly snapped up!

And still one more irresistible temptation from this area, the 2010 Remelluri Reserva, a Rioja Alavesa blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano. Smooth. Spicy. Superb. We hadn’t worked Rafa much but we had him on camera duty before we said goodbye to Vinostito.

Read about
Nomad Wines at Spit here
Grapecircus here
Winemason here

More on Spit Cork over the next few days. Nomad Wines, The WineMasons and Grapecircus were the other companies involved in the event at The River Lee Hotel.



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Islands in the Sun. Ferries and Food in West Cork

Islands in the Sun
Ferries and Food in West Cork
 It was sunshine all the way for last week's two day excursion to West Cork. It looks as if there is no shortage of sunshine this week either.


Once we knew the weather was “settled” we determined to re-visit two islands, Garnish near Glengarriff and Sherkin near Baltimore. West Cork of course has many more islands and most have a ferry service. Check here for island and ferry details and do look out also for the Ten Island Tour.

Our base was the Celtic Ross in Rosscarbery but Garnish was our first destination so we took the R585 via Crookstown and headed off down on the old Bantry line. On reaching Kealkil, where our road joins the R584 from Macroom, we felt the need for a quick pit-stop as we did have a specific time for the boat from Glengarriff.


Italian Garden on Garnish
At the junction we spotted a board saying Cully & Sully Soup and Brown Bread for three euro. The Gala shop, also the Post Office, is right there and, within minutes, on the seats outside, we were tucking in to a tasty lunch, great value too.

On then to Glengarriff where we caught the ferry (€10.00) from the Blue Pool to Garnish. But first there were a couple of stops to see the many seals basking on the rocks around Seal Island. Lots of close-ups taken!

Garnish (€4.00 entrance) is an amazing mixture of gardens, arboretums, clock tower, Italianate buildings, even a Martello tower and will look even better in the weeks and months ahead as the trees, shrubs and flowers put on their summer show. Great views too over the bay and mountains.
Dessert at the Clonakilty Hotel
Back then on the ferry, and again a stop, this to say goodbye to the seals. Next call was to Manning's Emporium for a cool drink and a chat with Andrew. Manning’s will of course feed you, and feed you well, but we had a dinner date that evening. Soon we were making our way through Bantry and Skibbereen and then we got a lovely warm welcome as we checked into the spick and span Celtic Ross.

That evening’s dinner was in the restaurant of the Clonakilty Hotel, very enjoyable too. Afterwards we spent a hour or so in the Celtic Ross bar sipping a pint or two of Franciscan Well’s Rebel Red, available on draught.

After a hearty breakfast we were off on another island trip, making the short journey to Baltimore to connect with the ferry (€10.00) to Sherkin Island. We thought we'd be the only passengers until a large bus parked up and some forty Italian students joined us. You’d be hard pressed to find a more well mannered, well behaved bunch.
Horses graze on Sherkin.
 Like Garnish, Sherkin is noted for its peace and quiet. Some good walks too that we enjoyed though again the place will look better in a month or so when the fuchsias are in full bloom. We made our way back towards the ferry point as lunch time approached and called up to the nearby Islander’s Rest where we got one (well two) of the best fish and chips ever. Hake was used and it was so well cooked.


I don't know how many of you know about the pirate raid on Baltimore by Algerian pirates in June 1631 when 107 locals were taken away to be sold into slavery and never seen again. You can read all about it and indeed see some artifacts of the time in the newly restored Baltimore Castle (also known as Dún na Séad). More history too in this recently restored building that started life in the 13th century. An interesting visit (€4.00) and from the top you get terrific views over the town and the harbour.


Beach on Sherkin
Off then towards Rosscarbery again, this time via the villages of Glandore and Union Hall (where you see from the memorial to those drowned at sea that it isn't always as nice as it had been to us these two sunny days).

Dinner that evening was taken in the hotel dining room. With chefs of the calibre of Graeme Campbell and Alex Petit, we were expecting good things and that’s exactly what we got. The highlight was my main course of local pork belly served with a White Bean and Chorizo cassoulet. The pork comes from the Allshire’s nearby and is only available here. Well worth a detour.


Fish & Chips at Islander's Rest
 Indeed, our final visit on the following day was to Caherbeg to see the free-range pigs and have a chat with Avril about her busy life in food. It turned out to be a lovely visit, memorable for many things, including a lunch of her special Black-pudding lasagna! And the sun was still shining as we headed east and back to the city.
Somebody's shopping arriving on Sherkin!





Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Two Special Days in West Cork. Bantry a Perfect Base

Two Special Days in West Cork
Bantry a Perfect Base
Bantry Library in the morning sun
Just back after two spectacular days in West Cork, two days when the sun shone non-stop. I drove through picture perfect scene after picture perfect scene: the sensational azure blue of the ocean and inlets, the bright yellow of the furze bushes. Just perfect. Lots of brown too, a relic of the winter, yet even that contained the promise of coiled up green waiting to shoot out to enhance and complete the picture in the weeks and months ahead.


First stop was Ballinascarthy, to take a look at the cross-roads memorial to Henry Ford, a full size model of the car-maker’s famous Model T. The slogan for this car, and for the stout of the same name now being sold by Black's Brewery of Kinsale, is: You may have any colour you like, provided it is black! The nailed-down Ballinascarthy model though is not black but a shiny silver. I suppose not too many would stop it were black.


Dunlough Bay
Next stop was the seaside village of  Schull with its lovely setting between Mount Gabriel and the sea. And just by the car park over the harbour, you'll find a cafe called Cois Cuain, perfect for a snack and, a tip, they have fantastic coffee here, Maher’s of course.

We continued west - we weren't taking the direct route to Bantry! Soon we were passing through Ballydehob and then lovely Goleen, heading for Mizen Head, Ireland’s most south-westerly point. A temporary cloud changed the light just as we arrived but the visit was brilliant. If you go out to the lighthouse - there is a reasonable fee - be sure and take the fenced path (with helpful hand-rails) up to where you can see the spectacular Dunlough Bay, probably even more spectacular on a bad day.
Model T
Time then to head to Bantry, via Durrus. Our base was the Maritime Hotel. And an excellent place it is, with very courteous staff, from reception, to bar to breakfast. Comfortable spacious rooms here, all with a view over the harbour. And breakfast is good. There is a hot buffet but here it is regularly refreshed. And you have the usual juices, meats and cheese too, and breads of course. No shortage at all. The long low rise hotel has its own underground car park and that, with a lift up to reception, is very convenient. Recommended.

There was a still an hour or two left of the afternoon and the regular Friday market was winding down as we strolled up the huge impressive square where statues of St Brendan and Wolfe Tone stand.
Barleycove, on the way to Mizen Head
We were heading for the Evans sweet shop (great photo here by Nicolas O'Donnell), a shop that is one hundred years old. We joined the small queue. The woman just ahead of us was buying hard liquorice sweets for “a suck” that night. Then three young girls were next but they very courteously indicated that we should be take their place in the line. We declined but, seeing the kids were possibly still making up their minds on what sweets to buy, we did take up the option.

After a lovely chat with Jennifer who has been here for many years, we decided to buy some clove rock cubes.  “They are very fresh,” she said. And so we left with  a small bag, nostalgia for just a euro. We should probably have bought more as she had a great choice of old time sweets including Bon Bons, Raspberry and Custard, Pear Drops and more.
Market in the square in Bantry
Dinner, and a good one it was, that evening was in the Fish Kitchen. They are building their craft beer list there and we sampled a few and, later, across the street at Ma Murphy’s Pub - you go through the grocery store to get to the bar - we enjoyed some draft Green Bullet by the Mountain Man. Back in the lovely bar at the hotel, with a singer (Neil Young and JJ Cale songs mainly) on duty, I had a very impressive bottle of Galway Hooker Pale Ale. Great label design on that one.

The morning was cool enough as I strolled out to the pier and had a chat with a guy stacking full fertiliser bags in readiness for the Whiddy Island ferry. Then we drove off up the road to Manning’s Emporium in Ballylickey where Andrew told us of their plans for the season ahead, exciting plans too with an expanded restaurant service (serving local produce) and Culture Kitchen tours on the horizon with Val Manning as guide (should be fun!). We’ll bring you more details shortly when arrangements are further advanced.

Nostalgia for a euro
After the coffee, it was back to the car and on the road west. More of the spectacular blue water as we passed through sunny Glengarriff and headed for Adrigole and the Healy Pass. We stopped halfway up the winding road and immediately a car that had been behind us pulled in and the man got out and asked us if we needed help.

Healy Pass
Copper mines reminder
We didn't, we were just going to take a few photos. But then quite a chat ensued and question after question followed and I reckon he found out more about us - ages, children, and more - than any internet investigator would. The elderly man, a local sheep farmer, was also volunteering info about himself and we enjoyed the chat. Soon, he was back in his car and speeding up the windy road, leaving us well behind!
At the top, we paused again, this time for quite a while to drink in the amazing views of the mountains, the lakes and the sea inlets beyond. Amazing place. Then we dropped down into Kerry for a while before turning left on the Ring of Beara Road and back into Cork. And one word of advice. Do take that windy, up and down road that hugs the coast and do stop and enjoy the views.

 We passed through Eyeries and Allihies (above) and their colourful houses. Near Allihies, you’ll see remains of the copper mining industry and there is a museum and cafe in the village (it opens from April). And, of course, that amazing blue was out there to our right all the time, the frame changing from bend to bend. Our final stop was in Castletownbere itself and here we walked along the pier where many large fishing boats, not all of them Irish, were docked.

Ring of Beara
 Time now to begin the journey home, retracing our steps back to Ballylickey and then taking the road that takes you through Céim an Fhia, Ballingeary, Inchigeela and its lakes, past Toonsbridge and its famous buffalo and dairy/shop, past the magnificent Gearagh and onto the Macroom-Cork road.
Boats in Bantry
 Hunger was setting in now and we turned left to Macroom and the Church Lane restaurant. We had a lovely early dinner here and saw that they too have craft beer on sale, including one from the local 9 White Deer Brewery. Irish craft beer is certainly on the up.


About forty minutes later, we were back in the city after a brilliant two days in the west!



Our Bantry base
See also: Bantry's Fish Kitchen