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There are cheesecakes. And there are Charly’s Cheesecakes
As patrons of the start-up stall in the English Market have been delightfully discovering over recent weeks, there is a new and exciting level in the world of cheesecakes and Charly’s heavenly creations are top of the pyramid. At an different level entirely.
And who is Charly? Well she is the daughter of Dubliner Derek Gilsenan. Derek is a chef and a few years ago, on his days off, he and Charly embarked on cooking and baking fun. Together they started making cookies, ice-cream, whatever Charly felt like on the day.
Starting another day in the English Market
The father and daughter were doing well and the praise came in after their first ever cake sale at Charly's school in Waterford, where the family live. Derek, not yet a converted cheesecake lover, felt he and Charly were on to something good.
He went all to to get proper gear and the rewards followed when Charly's Cheesecakes made an amazing debut at Winterval, Waterford’s winter festival.
And so they progressed and now this is Derek's only job. He is at it full-time and describes this as a make or break year. The big operators have taken notice but Derek is not about to reduce the superb quality of his products.
“I'd rather have four good markets and make a living by sticking to my guns. I enjoy what I do. Stalls like this one in the marvellous English Market are a great boost to me and other start-ups. It gives us a lift and I am really looking forward to taking up a stall at the Saturday Coal Quay Market in Cornmarket Street when I finish here on the 11th of March.”
Like many other food producers, Derek has noticed a huge demand for gluten free, particularly during the Glow Festival in Cork. And the good news is that many of his cakes are gluten free with anything up to 14 different flavours available GF, including the likes of Terry's chocolate, Belgian white chocolate and various fruits (passionfruit, strawberry, raspberry and more).
And he is passionate about what he uses in the business. All his packaging, comes from DOWN2EARTH MATERIALS at Forge Hill (and is compostable). And the packaging is top notch, that clear dome superbly displaying the goodies inside! And those goodies contain no gelatine. “No cakes need it, it is sinful to use it in cakes.”
“I will never run out of flavours.” If you check the list on his Facebook page, you'd think there are not too many more out there. But even that list is not complete and he promises many more. “Basically, if you give me a tin of roses I will reproduce each flavour in individual portion sizes.”
Only top quality ingredients are used in Charly’s. The high quality chocolate comes from Belgium and he counts Muldoon's of Waterford (makers of the award winning whiskey liqueur) and Malone’s Fruit Farm of Carlow among his suppliers.
By the way, all those fruit garnishes are hand-cut and mounted by the man himself. Oh, he still gets help from Charly herself. “She started it and she's sticking with it!” By the way, he is looking for a supplier of a soft cheese, cows or goats!
This business started out as a hobby a few years back and began getting serious about five years ago. You can find the cheesecakes in the Saturday market in Waterford, the Thursday market in Kilkenny and soon in the Saturday Coal Quay Market in Cork.
The quality and the passion have taken Charly's Cheesecakes a long way. They are totally different, “on a different level” as he says himself. Go taste one for yourself! And that's easily done, as he usually has a tray of little tasters available.
Waterford, Ireland's oldest city, has probably seen many a meal in a tent over the centuries but the weekend event in the Marquee on The Mall highlighted local produce and we were treated to five courses of delicious food, all prepared by a meitheal of local chefs and a big crew of helpers.
Indeed, the whole Harvest Festival, which ran from Friday to Sunday, had local produce at its heart as producers in the various markets, SuperValu with their food academy, bars who had no shortage of craft beer and other local drinks (Blackwater gin and Muldoon whiskey for example) and especially the GIY locations around Blackfriars, all embraced the idea of locavoring.
The practice of sourcing locally grown food has much going for it: freshness (so nutritional superiority), better taste, avoids trucking and air transport, biodiversity, and perhaps most importantly, supporting the local economy.
EAT Waterford is an association of 25 of the city's restaurants, restaurants that produce a great diversity of styles based on produce from the local farms and producers and, of course, all that fresh fish from the nearby seas, You’ll see their brochure at many places, including tourist offices, all over the city. Pick one up and you’ll enjoy your stay all the better.
The weekend Tasting Menu in the Marquee highlighted the excellence of both the food and the chefs. Five restaurants were involved in this year's effort and the people that got together to work their culinary magic were Christine and Eric (La Boheme), Stan, Mailo and Kelly (The Athenaeum), Donagh and Daithí(Loko), Arnaud and Patrice (L’Atmosphere), Tony (Bellissimo), and all their restaurant teams.
There were six opportunities to enjoy the meal. I came to eat at lunchtime on Saturday and enjoyed it immensely. I still think that the hake dish was the tops but all were excellent and we had a surprise glass of Muldoon Whiskey Liqueur as the finalé. The night sessions were sold out and it looks as if there will be more of them in 2016. A great idea and well done to all at EAT Waterford and to their producers.
Some of the chefs, gazpacho, the Muldoon surprise.