Showing posts with label Midleton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Midleton. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Sunil Ghai at SAGE

Sunil Ghai, Master of PICKLE, at SAGE

Take A Break! Halfway through, we were invited to try
 the cucumber with three salts: black (mildest), lemon and chilli.
Sunil Ghai, of Pickle Dublin and one of Ireland's top chefs, was guest chef at Midleton's SAGE Restaurant last Saturday as part of the fantastic FEAST Cork festival, bringing together the best of produce from the area and featuring local and visiting chefs and a whole lot more besides.

Sunil, relaxed in the kitchen and dining room, went down a treat as did his food. It was an unmissable  opportunity to enjoy a feast by one of the foremost Indian chefs in Ireland, to sample his bold, contemporary cooking style. And we enjoyed an array of dishes inspired by his hometown of Gwalior in central India.
Sunil in Sage kitchen. Pic courtesy of Sage.

Kevin Aherne, chef patron st Sage, introduced Sunil and welcomed him, saying that the focus of FEAST 2019 was very much on the multiculturalism of food. Indeed there was a very successful 13 nation get-together in Midleton on the following day and, in my own case, I had attended a Polish dinner in Surf and Turf (Midleton) on Thursday night, an Argentinian BBQ at Barnabrow on Friday before heading back to Midleton on Saturday.

Kevin explained that both Sunil and he are members of Eurotoques. He said Sunil had surprised the chefs in the Sage kitchen with the variety of amazing aromas and flavours of his food and he would surprise us too. There was a surprise for Sunil himself. He told us he could hardly believe the way the local farmers brought their produce direct to the back door of the Midleton restaurant. "I don't know when this will happen in Dublin."

The Gupshup Gwalior Platter was our starter. On the left is the Semolina Puff with chickpea, pomegranate and tamarind chutney; in the middle, the Crispy fried kale leaf in carom infused gram flour batter with chilled yogurt and mint chutney; and finally the Grilled Artichoke marinated in PICKLE spice mix & smoky chilli yogurt. The kale was outstanding but each was delicious.
The Fish Course. But first we were invited to bite into the dark piece on top: a pickled lemon. Just bite in and you get an amazing explosion, like a concentrated lemon drink but with none of the sourness. Sunil told us that this Amritsari Fried Fish (cod in this case) is a very traditional Punjabi dish and he served it in Sage with a warm raita and charred asparagus.
Looked inviting and tasted even better.

The Gwalior Goat Keema Pao is the signature dish at Pickle. It is a Special goat preparation from Sunil's hometown: goat mince, diced and marinated liver, marinated for 24 hours in reshampatti (Rajasthani chillies) then slow cooked with shallots and yogurt. Served with Maska Pao (buttered Pao). Maska also means to "butter someone up, to flatter them".

Our dessert was Gulab Jamun: fried milk doughnut poached in saffron and cardamom flavour sugar syrup. Yumil!
Also at Feast

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Lobster & Sushi at Granary a Highlight of Midleton Sunday Stroll

Lobster & Sushi at Granary a Highlight of Midleton Sunday Stroll. FEAST 2019
Lobster from the Lobster Man
Food was left, right and centre in Midleton last Sunday as FEAST 2019 reached its finalé. Restraint was called for as there so much on offer. The Lobster and Sushi offering at The Granary had been pinpointed earlier as a likely lunch plate and that was where we found ourselves in the early afternoon.

A big warm welcome and soon we were sitting at our outdoor table awaiting one plate with lobster, the other with sushi, and both also packed with a range of delicious salads. Oh, and not forgetting the glass of wine, all for twenty euro per person. The tables were communal and we like that on these occasions, even more so when on Sunday we were joined by two young gentleman and we went on to have a lovely chat before heading out to all those stalls on the sunny main street.
Okawari supplied the sushi.
Our first stop on Sunday morning was to the demo area where Ballymaloe pastry chef JR Ryall and Ali of Ali's Kitchen were baking a "Raspberry Beret". They had to match their cake to a song and they choose the Prince number. Lots of fun as they got this part of the show on the road and they would be followed by a series of top names in the Irish food community.

Local hotels and restaurants were represented in the many stalls on the main street
and here we see Patryck of Surf and Turf greeting customers.

This bad boy would get busier and busier.

The bees came too! No shortage of wasps either.

Children were very well catered for, especially in the farmers market area.
Here they are busily painting their own tea towels.

We got our dessert from the Bite Size stall, very nice too!
Also at Feast



Thursday, November 22, 2018

Delicious Sunday Lunch at Ferrit & Lee


Delicious Sunday Lunch at Ferrit & Lee
Outstanding Risotto

A brilliant November sun lifted the spirits as we headed to Midleton’s Ferrit & Lee for a Sunday lunch. And the body was well taken care of with a superb and delicious lunch. Service with a smile also increased the satisfaction levels!

They have some very popular dishes here that appear on both the lunch and evening menus. And there are quite a few of their starters that can also be served as mains so all that increases the choices for the customer. And they'll tell you about the specials which are also written on a large blackboard facing the entrance door. 
Fish Cakes

And another thing you’ll notice is the plates. No not those on the table but a couple of eye-catching displays on the walls. Lots of painting around too and window length boxes, well kept and full of greenery.

So what would we have? A bit of reading to do before we made our choices. There was a tempting Ham Hock and Black Pudding Terrine, also their popular Goat’s Cheese Bon Bons, Beetroot Relish, Pistachio Nuts. And more, including another two starters on the board.
Smoked Mackerel Salad

We got two delicious ones. CL went for the Thai Fish Cakes, Asian Salad, Nam Jim Dressing, Miso Mayo. (Starter €8.00 Main €13.50) and was very happy with that, with every element of it including the dressing.

And I did very well too with the Smoked Ballycotton Mackerel Salad, New Potatoes, Apple, Pickled Vegetables, Horseradish Creme Fraiche, Cured Egg Yolk (€8.50). A terrific mix of flavours and textures, quality and well judged quantity and I was off to a flier.
Ballycotton cod

Again there were some favourites on the main list including Slow Cooked Featherblade of Beef and also their Confit Leg of Duck, Braised Apple and Red Cabbage. But our eyes were on the specials.

CL choose the Fish of the Day, Pan Fried Cod with a Spinach Mash, Roast Vegetables and Lemon Hollandaise. Just perfect, local and seasonal at its best as is the norm here.
Ferrit & Lee in the November sun

And I got one of my best risottos ever with Ardsallagh Feta and hazelnuts (16). Absolutely delighted with it - even if it meant there was no room for dessert - and those hazelnuts were a delightful part of it.

So it was two happy customers that headed off into the sun just as more punters checked in. Busy friendly spot and Very Highly Recommended.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

FEAST. On the Street. The Main Event

FEAST. On the Street

The Main Event
Family day out. Busy side-street.

From the outset of the rebranded FEAST, Saturday had been billed as The Main Event. And the crowds of people up and down Midleton’s Main Street and side streets and in the Farmer’s Market, demonstrated just that. And, once again, the weather played its part, the odd shower no deterrent at all to those strolling and snacking, and those eating a tad more seriously at the long outdoor table opposite the Restaurant Tent where some eleven restaurants were selling delicious small plates at a fiver each.
Ethiopian stall

But is wasn't just the restaurants. Lots of other food (Green Saffron were busy, as always) available as well under the mainly blue sky. Great too to see the local butchers, including Jim Crowley and Frank Murphy, on the street, bakers too and coffee makers. No shortage of sweet stuff as you made your way between the various hot-spots.
The Granary Crew

The Demo Marquee was a magnet as Bertha’s Revenge Gin, Patrick Ryan’s sourdough, and various chefs, including Ciaran Scully, Lilly Higgins, Kevin Aherne and Martin Shanahan kept the punters entertained. Down in the Distillery, you could enjoy a premium whiskey tasting and Carol Quinn’s talk on the  history of whiskey here for a tenner.

Opposite the restaurant area was where the long table was situated and just beyond there was a packed children's zone with music shows, puppet shows, and amusements. The siting of the table and the amusement space close together was great for parents and I saw more than a few taking turns at the table and then relieving the partner on child duty!

The regular Farmer’s Market was also buzzing. Maybe one day, all will be accommodated on Main Street but on Saturday the traders were doing well. Had a friendly word with the Lobsterman who I’d met in Rostellan the evening before. Baker Declan Ryan was, as ever, on duty at Arbutus stall while Noreen Conroy was as busy and as friendly as ever at Woodside Farm. Nearby, at the Courthouse, the friendly GIY folk were dishing out advice on what to grown, how to grow it and when.
Monkfish, chorizo, flatbread by Samphire (at Garryvoe Hotel)

New!
Back on Main Street, it was hard to make choices. Would have been a gargantuan feat to sample something from all eleven restaurants! And that would leave out all the others. Tough. I had heard on the Twitter that Farmgate’s Chowder was a thing of splendour but by then I had had my fill.

One of the highlights was the Monkfish and chorizo flatbread served by head chef Kevin at the Samphire (Garryvoe Hotel) stand. The crab beignet by Pier 26 went down well. Jack and his team at the Granary Cafe stand were busy and their massive baked Rooster (with Ballinrostig nettle and  cream cheese and Gubbeen chorizo) was quite a treat and I also got a few pastries here to bring home.
Garlic selection

Indeed, that bag for home filled rapidly. Included were the Mango, Peach and habanero chutney a new product from the Rebel Chilli lads, some garlic (including Avram, Lautrec, and Pink Marble) from West Cork Garlic, a bag of Honduran coffee beans from  Badger & Dodo and 30-day aged beef from Woodside. Happy out, as we headed west from F-EAST! Here’s to next year.
Busy butcher Jim Crowley
See other posts from FEAST 2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017

FEAST Launch. Amazing Week Coming Soon

FEAST Launch
Amazing Week Coming Soon

Cork County Mayor, Declan Hurley, was in the Malthouse of the Midleton Distillery last Tuesday to help launch FEAST, the East Cork Food and Drink Festival. The Mayor, well used to the Taste of West Cork Festival, encouraged those involved in FEAST to keep it local.

Kevin Aherne spoke on behalf of FEAST and he too stressed that provenance had to be a key factor in the festival. Not too much point in a local food festival unless the local food and drink is at the heart of it.

This is the first time that the former Midleton festival has been marketed as FEAST and the hope is to spread it even further in the East Cork area in the future. And to do that, even more sponsorship will be necessary. 

For now, the committee are grateful for the help coming from Irish Distillers, Cork County Council, Secad, Red FM, Taste Cork, Ireland’s Ancient East, Jim Crowley, Midleton Park Hotel, Market Green, Ballymaloe Relish, East Cork Journal, Pallas, Sage, Cully & Sully and Wiser Recycling.

The cooperative spirit behind the venture was well illustrated on the menu for the evening and we enjoyed a lovely four course meal in the Malthouse. The Farmgate produced the starter, a delicious combination of Ballycotton Seafood smoked salmon, crushed mint potato salad, caper and citrus dressing.

No shortage of wine as the evening progressed to the Ferrit and Lee main course: Beef feather blade marinated with Jameson, fondant potato, celeriac purée, roast onion, baby carrots and thyme jus. Perfect.

Conversation left and right at this stage, live music too, as dessert appeared, courtesy of Sage: Sixty four per cent Midleton chocolate delice, brittle, butterscotch. Say no more!

And on then to the Malthouse cheese board: Ballinrostig Gouda, Bo Rua Cheddar, and Ballymaloe Chutney. And we finished as we had started. With whiskey. On arrival, there was the perfect Jameson serve with ginger ale and lime. And the finalé was a glass of Black Barrel, one of my favourites from Jameson, so called because the barrels are well charred!

Thanks to Irish Distillers, John Wall, Frank Murphy, Village Greengrocer and Wilkies Chocolate, who also had an input in the meal.

Time for the taxis then and to look forward to the big week that begins on Monday, September 4th. You can see the daily highlights here http://www.corkbilly.com/2017/08/feast-in-east-midleton-festival-expands.html, lots of evening meals.

But the closing Saturday, beginning in Midleton at 11.00am is a big day and is indeed billed as the major event. The main street will be packed with stalls and, this year, you’ll have a long table to sit down, relax and eat some of the goodies on sale. No doubt there’ll be tasty bites too from the restaurant tent and the farmers market. And the children will have their own area with music shows, puppets and amusements.

And the FEAST demo marquee has a long list of demos including one with Justin Greene on Bertha’s Revenge Gin, a sourdough demo by top baker Patrick Ryan, a seafood masterclass by Ciaran Scully, an invite to her kitchen by Lilly Higgins and then a East v West cook-off between Kevin Aherne and Marin Shanahan (Fishy Fishy).

If you still have any energy left, then get yourself into the courtyard in Sage on Sunday for a #12 mile BBQ with music, fun and a “BBQ that Midleton has never seen before”.
September sunshine on the menu. (Sage photo)



Monday, August 21, 2017

FEAST in the East. Midleton Festival Expands.


FEAST in the East.
Midleton Festival Expands.
Rory O'Connell
I've been dipping into the FEAST website to see what's in store for visitors to East Cork in early September......

FEAST, the expanded East Cork Food and Drink Festival 2017, is building on a strong foundation laid by the 14 years experience of the Midleton Festival. Events will run from 4th to 10th September with the family favourite, the Street Festival, on Saturday 9th September.
Bayview Terrace

Before the big day on the Saturday, there are quite a few restaurant highlights, beginning at the Bayview Hotel on Monday the 4th, where you are invited to “immerse yourself in the tastes, scents, sights and sounds of our Wild Atlantic Bounty... Be astounded by the creative, conjuring of Ciarán and his team over a Five-Course Tasting Menu... Drink it all in from the cliffside-splendour that is the Bayview at Ballycotton overlooking Ballycotton Bay and Harbour.”

The evening begins at 6pm with drinks on the spectacularly situated terrace, “followed by Ciarán’s imaginative and poetic Five-Course Seafood Celebration Menu and accompanying wines at 6.45pm.”
Demos galore

On the Tuesday, award-winning Chef Kevin Aherne invites you to join him in his SAGE Courtyard for a unique and memorable culinary event. Kevin will conjure up a Feast inspired by bygone eras and serve it in a traditional long table setting. Think roast pig, stuffed game birds, whole fish cooked on an open fire, ales, traditional cider, rounds of cheese, pies and tarts. Guests will dine outside under the heated canopy.
Ferrit & Lee

On the Wednesday, you may enjoy A Taste of East Cork in the Ferrit & Lee Restaurant, Distillery Walk, Midleton. To celebrate FEAST (East Cork Food and Drink Festival), they are hosting an event to showcase some of the fine produce East Cork has to offer. “We will be serving a 5 course tasting menu including two glasses of wine. There are only 40 seats available so booking early is advisable!”

Next up, on the Thursday, is a visit to Ballymaloe. The evening will begin at 7pm with Cocktails in the Walled Garden with Andy Ferreira (2017's World Class Irish Mixologist of the Year 2017 and representing Ireland in the World Class Global Final in Mexico). Andy will be using herbs foraged in the garden at Ballymaloe House. 

Dinner will be served at 8pm in the Long Dining Room in the house and the 3 course 'Seasonal Supper' menu will be written and prepared by Rory O'Connell, Ballymaloe Cookery School co-founder and teacher, author, TV personality and former Head Chef at Ballymaloe House.

On the Friday, why not head to Rostellan for the Chocolate, Cheese & Shellfish at Rostellan Chocolate. “We are showcasing our local food producers featuring Ballinrostig Homestead cheeses and local shellfish supplier Michael Barrett (The Lobsterman). We will be matching their produce with our wines and prosecco and we will also provide our coffees teas and Rostellan Hot Chocolate in our historic Courtyard. The event, which is not ticketed, is from 5pm to 8pm on Friday 8th Sept with live music so come early to avoid disappointment!”
Grow It Yourself (GIY). Advice, demos by the Courthouse in Midleton

And then comes Saturday, the Major Event; all over Midleton town there are events and demos galore:  Cooking Demos; Gin Demo; Grow Your Own Demo  (outside the courthouse);  The Long Table;  the Restaurant Tent. 

The usual Farmers Market will be on and look out for help and info from the folks of GIY. There is a Kids Area with Music Shows and Puppet Shows, Amusements of course. And you’ll also come across a Vintage Fair. A massive day, packed with food and fun.                               

For details on the Saturday and all the events during the week, click on the FEAST website here 






Thursday, June 8, 2017

Sage. New Superlatives Please!


Sage. New Superlatives Please!
Ravioli

Mackerl
Think I’d need a stack of superlatives to describe a recent dinner at Sage on Midleton, the home of the 12 mile menu. I could easily go over the top as Kevin Aherne’s kitchen is easily ahead of many around the country. But I’ll try and not bore you, just to say here at the start that the place, in a courtyard just off Midleton’s main street, has never ever disappointed.

Sage and its junior sister, the Greenroom, cater for a variety of tastes and budgets and the recent addition - the semi-open courtyard itself -  is a lively food and drink venue and was indeed booked out on the night we visited. Sage too was full by the eight o’clock mark so the advise is to book ahead.

Then you can relax. Everything will be fine: the fresh local food, the very friendly efficient service, the drink (much of the wine is organic) and the beer is craft and local as you'd expect. You can spot the crew cooking in the kitchen as you sit back in a lovely simple room, one of whose walls honours the many suppliers from within that 12 mile radius.
We, subsidised by the last of the gift vouchers from Christmas, were on the A la Carte but I spotted much of the same menu on the Early Evening offering (three courses for thirty euro!). Breads were delivered to the table as we studied the menu. We also thought about the drink and, with steak in mind, I settled on the regular stout from O’Hara’s. Regular but excellent, a bottle for 6.00. Soon we were nibbling on the amuse bouche of Apple rings  and Ardsallagh Goats cheese.
Hake


Great choice of starters, and mine was magnificent: Mackerel, oyster mushroom and samphire (10.00). It was a great combination, the warm soft flesh of the mackerel, full of flavour, perfectly complemented by the supple mushroom, the peppery crunch of the radish and the salty bite of the samphire.

Hard to guess sometimes what you are going to get on your plate when you read the brief description, as CL did: Beef cheek ravioli, horseradish, parsnip (9.00). Well, the beef was contained in one big plate-filling ravioli and the parsnip was a crisp. But it all worked so well together, another delicious interesting starter. I'm sure the other four on the list would have been of the same standard, each perhaps with a little surprise.
Beef

So, surprised and happy, we moved on to the mains. No big ambush for me: Beef Fillet (Charlie Terry), horseradish, shallots and spinach (30.00). I've long maintained that if a chef looks after the little things, that he will also come up trumps with the big items. In this case, for example, the shallots were outstanding, sweet and good and the spinach was fresh and tasty. The fillet? Add any meaty superlative you wish. As good as you’ll get and better than most.

And was the other side of the table jealous? No, not a bit of it. She loves her hake and that affair was enhanced by Sage’s: Hake, pasta, mussels, chorizo, samphire (24.00). A lot on the plate but another winning combination, well cooked, well presented and well served.
Sweet

It is strawberry time in Ireland so we both finished with a Strawberry and Marshmallow Posset (8.00). The two glass bowls were well stripped, as indeed were all the previous plates, when the servers came to take them away. We like good food and there’s no shortage of that in Sage. Very Highly Recommended!


Friday, October 7, 2016

The Whiskeys of Ireland by Peter Mulryan.

Review: The Whiskeys of Ireland
by Peter Mulryan
Midleton
“Whiskey. Irish for droplets of pure pleasure.” WB Yeats.

You’ll find tour guides in the many new Irish distilleries telling you that whiskey is a corruption of the Gaelic Uisce Beatha (water of life). No need to believe those novices! Yeats got it right and his interpretation is quoted on the back cover of the Whiskeys of Ireland by Peter Mulryan. 

Whenever I get my hands on a new Irish food or drink book, I usually flick through the opening pages to see where it was printed and am invariably disappointed. This, printed in the Czech Republic, is no exception. If we are expected to support the Irish food and drinks industry, then our food and drink writers should do all they can to support Irish printers. But that's about the only gripe  (one more - there is no index), I have against this excellent book.



The new Connacht Distillery in Ballina
Because, for a long time, there were spirits galore but no definition of whiskey, Mulryan says it is difficult to trace its evolution. But distilling was alive and well, if not up to FSAI standards, in the 15th century and the Crown passed a law in 1556, in vain, to put a stop to it. Eventually, after the collapse of the Gaelic order, a licensing system was imposed.

The first Irish patent was granted in 1608 but cronyism and corruption led to the collapse of the system. Taxation reared its head in 1661 and that reinforced the illegal side of the trade. And the same happened when a stiff tax regime was imposed in 1779. The underground operators sold their poitín and that became “the drink of the people”.


A more benign tax regime led to a booming whiskey industry in the 1820s and onwards. But that led to widespread alcohol problems and in stepped Fr Matthew. Distilleries closed by the dozen. 

On display in Teelings, Newmarket, Dublin
The respectable side of the business examined the newly invented Aeneas Coffey column still and he had some initial success here before turning to a warmer welcome in Scotland. Ireland, pants down in Mulryan’s phrase, missed the revolution and would pay dearly.

Close to the end of the century though, the big players in Irish whiskey, including Allman’s in Bandon, were flying high again. Phylloxera dealt the French distillers a hammer blow and that too helped the Irish in what Mulryan terms “the Golden Years”.


Scotland too was on the rise but the bubble would burst as the century turned, fraudulent trading, recession, wars, and increased taxes all contributing.

With the author (left) in his Blackwater Distillery
Ireland now had its own problems: wars and then partition. We were behind internationally and now the domestic market collapsed. And, in the US, prohibition was looming. Closure followed closure.

There were back doors to the US market. The Scots didn't hesitate, the Irish did. Then we Irish had the “Economic War” with England and next came WW2. After they were over, in the US, the Scots were in and, except for Irish Coffee, the Irish were out.

It was a long tailspin, halted only in 1966 when the three (yes, 3!) remaining distilleries amalgamated. Eventually a new outlook led to a new distillery in Midleton (1975). John Jameson was the brand that led to the current revival, the brand that eventual and current owners Pernod Ricard used as a wedge to once more open the international market to Irish Whiskey.

Cyril (left) and Barry of St Patrick's in Cork
Meanwhile, Mulryan relates that an opportunity was spotted by John Teeling at Cooley and, thanks to the eagle-eyed entrepreneur, the Irish industry acquired a new and vibrant arm, an arm that is still reaching out. Now virtually every county has a distillery, many of them micro. The consumer, home and abroad, has never had it so good. Cheers to John Jameson (5 million cases in 2015) and the French marketeers.

Those marketeers include a salesman selling Jameson in a Vendeé supermarket sometime in the 90s. He was an insistent guy and I bought a bottle (the price was good too!) and I still have the free cassette tapes that came with it!


Mulryan's fascinating book covers the history, the rises and the falls and the stunning re-birth, in a lively manner, great for the experienced and novice alike. It is well worth seeking out for the history alone. But he also casts his keen and experienced eye (he founded and runs the Blackwater Distillery) over the current scene (sending out a warning to mid-sized operators).

Whiskey by Hyde's
The closing chapters take us, in plain and engaging English, through the making and blending and, most importantly, the tasting of our beloved Uisce Beatha, sorry droplets of pure pleasure. Slainte!

The Whiskeys of Ireland is published by the O’Brien Press and is widely available. I spotted it in Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork  selling for €19.95.
Hands on research in Dingle recently