Showing posts with label Mustard Seed. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mustard Seed. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Mustard Seed. An oasis in Limerick.

Mustard Seed. An oasis in Limerick.

Baked plaice, sep puree, prawn dressing and fritter, buttermilk froth.
Enjoyed a few days in County Limerick recently and our base, The Mustard Seed in Ballingarry, had much to do with it. The former convent has been, over the past 18 years or so, converted into a very comfortable place to stay. You get a warm welcome here every time you walk in the door, tea and shortbread at the ready, even if you’ve been gone for only a few hours.
Warm Strawberry with lime puree, walnut powder, beet meringues, balsamic and elderflower syrup

And you relax with the cuppa, sitting back in the most comfortable sofas with the fire blazing away in front of you on the colder days. Comfort is to be found all over the Mustard Seed. Here too is some very interesting furniture and a massive collection of paintings, arts and crafts (many with an eastern theme). 

Pan-fried Irish Hereford rib-eye of beef, served with a goat cheese and celeriac risotto, roast almond mousse, Iron Age rare breed pork profiterole
And then there are the gardens with trees, shrubs and flowers to the front and mainly fruit and vegetables at the back but no shortage of herbs either. Some flowers scattered here and there and even a Buddha shrine.
Cheese plate including Cashel Blue, Milleens, local cheddar
The Mustard Seed is renowned for its food. Deservedly so. Breakfast is a treat here. Of course you may have your full Irish but my favourite was the Ummera Smoked Chicken in an omelette. Lovely breads too, available at breakfast and dinner. At dinner, there are great choices, local produce well handled and presented and served.

Nectarine cheesecake, sorbet and honeycomb
And that five star friendly service runs through the whole operation. You are treated like one of the family from start to finish. So well done and a big thank you to Dan and John and to the entire team for looking after us so well over the three night break that we will remember for a long time.

The Mustard Seed is a terrific base to see Limerick, both city and county. This time we decided to concentrate on the county, a county that has quite a lot to offer. It is easy to reach, easy to get around as distances are short. So why not give it a try rather than just passing through to somewhere else (which is what I did for many years, I must admit).
Clockwise from top left: Mustard Seed, a "blue" window, a petit treat, artichoke
and resident Buddha.
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Limerick,Day 3: Mustard Seed Delights.

Limerick, Day 3

Mustard Seed Delights. Adare's Old Creamery. Curragh Chase Woods. The Lottery Dog.

Rabbit terrine

Back to the Mustard Seed for this evening’s dinner and that meant a return to a culinary paradise and tasty temptations in the former convent in Ballingarry, super food and service and a four course meal, fit for a Gourmet Superior, in a pleasant and unhurried ambience.

A smoked salmon Amuse Bouche was followed by a couple of terrific starters. Mine was the Rabbit Terrine (with pickled wild mushroom, tarragon puree, chicken mousseline, and Guinness gel). CL went for the Warm Strawberry with lime puree, walnut powder, beet meringues, balsamic and elderflower syrup, another winner.
Guinea fowl
Hit the jackpot also with the mains, hard not to be a winner here, such is the high standard of the produce and the team.  I choose the pan-fried Irish Hereford rib-eye of beef, served with a goat cheese and celeriac risotto, roast almond mousse, Iron Age rare breed pork profiterole.  A long way from your usual onions and fries!

Mine was excellent but I think CL’s may have been even better as the sheer quality of her Guinea Fowl was out of this world. And that quality was illustrated in a number of ways as you can see from the menu description: Pan seared breast of guinea fowl, confit leg and pressed thigh, parmesan custard, vegetable fricassee and sauce basquise. Excellent produce handled well all the way to the plate. Different class!
Butter at Mustard Seed
At the creamery!
Never heard tell of the Adare Old Creamery store until the other day. Visited it today and now feel like I should tell you all about it. It is just a few hundred yards from the County Limerick village and it quite fascinating.

Maybe you want to buy a doll’s house or furniture for it. Some beautiful scented candles perhaps. Maybe high quality china such as Ainsley or Belleek. Well, this is the place to check out – see it on Facebook.
Adare's Austinian Friary
Downstairs there is an old style sweet shop (including ice-cream) and upstairs a gorgeous tea-rooms (with the best apple pie ever!). Books and clothes and much much more in this treasure house. And later in the year it turns into an incredible Christmas store. A must visit.

Had done a fair bit of walking in Adare during the morning, calling to the Franciscan Abbey ruins on the golf course and the more intact Dominican Abbey, now part of the Adare Church (Church of Ireland), maintaining on that site a tradition of Christian worship going back seven centuries. Enjoyed a fine view of the Castle from the bridge near the entrance to the golf club.
Doll's House at the Old Creamery
Still enough "teaspai" left for another walk and so we headed to the much recommended Curragh Chase Woods and its now ruined house, once the home of 19th century poet and author Aubrey Thomas de Vere. 
Curragh Close
Ger McDonnell's tree.

Some lovely walks here in the 313 hectares of lakes, mixed woodland and parkland. But the memory I’ll take away is the tear that fell as I unexpectedly came across the tree planted by local mountaineer Ger McDonnell to mark his conquest of Everest in 2003, about five years before the dreadful events on K2 that ended his life and that of ten others.  

As we worked our way towards Ballingarry, I spotted the Croke Park pub. Walking is thirsty work so popped in and we had a great chat with our genial hostess Deirdre and the visiting dog Judy, a one-time stray that was raffled off in the pub one night and thereby found a home. Her second home though is the pub itself where she is well known to all the customers, even sitting it on card games.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Limerick Day 2: Superb Wild Geese. Medieval Kilmallock. No go at Gur.

Limerick Day 2
Superb Wild Geese. Medieval Kilmallock. No go at Gur. 
Crab in Smoked Salmon
Not the best of days but a superb finish. And not just the ending back here at the Mustard Seed, sipping some red wine in front of a blazing June fire!

That final luxury came after a superb meal in Adare’s Wild Geese, run for the last 14 years by David Foley and Julie Randles. Enjoyed a tasty Goat Cheese Amuse Bouche and then followed two of the best starters you are likely to find.

CL’s was a Terrine of lamb fillet, with a chicken and basil mousse, wrapped in smoked bacon served with Lentil dressing and homemade tomato chutney. Not listed were orange bits and an apple puree. Nothing superfluous, all added up to perfection.

Dominican Friary, Kilmallock
Mine was also high class: a parcel of Kenmare smoked salmon stuffed with crabmeat and served with a cucumber and dill salsa. Sharp and tasty, it woke up those taste buds, just like a flurry of sea foam coming over the cliffs and waking you up on the morning after the night before.

For the mains, I went for the trio of Barbary Duck: Roast Breast, Spring roll of confit and a warm salad of smoked duck. Three out of three! And CL’s Roast Atlantic Cod, topped with crab meat, on a bed of rösti and with a sauce of mussels was a happy dish, like the fishing fleet coming in.

Wine was something of a compromise between white and red but the Round Hill Merlot from sunny California lacked nothing in quality and gained a couple of fans on a drizzly night at the Munster crossroads of the tour buses.
Lough Gur
Nearby Kilmallock, once the crossroads of Munster, has a wealth of history and the buildings, or at least the remains of buildings, to prove it. Most visitors will be familiar with John’s Castle on Sheare’s Street. Built in the 15th century, it is a “fine example of a ‘Peel’ tower. It has been suggested that it saw use as a town gate; other uses included as an arsenal during the war against Cromwell, a meeting place for the local corporation, a school, even a blacksmith’s forge!

Also visited the Priory, a 13th century Dominican abode. The five-light east window of the church is one its impressive features. Not too much of the cloister remains. Another 13th century ruin, that of the Collegiate Church, stands nearby.

Another call was to the massive Church of SS Peter and Paul, built towards the end of the 19th century and still functioning. Juts behind it is the Martyrs’ Monument, erected in memory of three priests hanged in the last quarter of the 16th century and beatified in Rome in 1992.
Had been looking forward to my visit to Lough Gur but there was a big disappointment in store when I found the Heritage Centre closed. Checked their site and found it had been due to open in mid-June and now Sunday the 30th is mentioned as the re-opening. There are some walks around the lake and I enjoyed them but, without the back-up of information from the Centre was unable to do much more. Didn’t even see “the crannog or lake-dwelling which is still visible from the Lake shore” according to the website.

After the peace and quite of Lough Gur, the traffic through Adare was almost a shock. Got parking in the large lot behind the centrally situated Heritage Centre as did many more, including quite a few tour buses.

Wild Geese dessert
Needed a coffee after the morning’s exertions and got a good one in the Market Place, about 100 metres uphill from the Heritage Centre. The Market Place is a very busy spot with an extensive menu but, with dinner booked, I settled for the coffee and an excellent slice of apple tart, real chunky apple pieces!  Tasty stuff.

After that it was back to Ballingarry and a wee rest before heading out again to the Wild Geese.

Check out Day 1 here
Day 3 here

Friday, June 28, 2013

Faceless saint, unknown knight and wrong-way Corrigan

Day 1

Faceless saint, unknown knight and wrong-way Corrigan

There is, in the Askeaton Franciscan Friary, a saint whose face is fading away. For generations, visitors with toothache and related problems have been kissing him on the face in the hope of a cure. Not too sure if the aches vanished but the saint’s face, at least the area round the mouth, is vanishing.

In the same abbey, there is a statue of Saint Patrick, high in one of the internal walls, easily missed. I’d not have seen it but for the help of a local man who also told me about the toothache saint and the unknown knight. The story is that this anonymous knight arrived in Askeaton and died there and is buried in a wall in the abbey with the following inscription: Pass me for I am strange.

But the real highlight for me is the cloisters (below), more or less intact in this 14th century building. These, plus the saint, the knight and Patrick are national treasures, open to the elements, including the criminal ones.
No chance that early aviator Douglas Corrigan would remain anonymous. Denied permission to fly from New York to Dublin, he was given the option of NY to San Fran. But the intrepid pilot headed east and landed in Dublin, claiming his compass had mal-functioned!
Heard that yarn and a whole lot more in the fascinating Flying Boat Museum in Foynes earlier in the day. Many stories are about the flying boats in their heyday at Foynes (late 30s, early 40s) and obviously lots are of Irish interest. The highlight though is a full size replica of the Yankee Clipper (built by Boeing and called the B314). This gives a terrific idea of what a flight in this type of machine was like.

Here also you’ll hear how, and why, Irish Coffee was invented. There is a little gift shop and also an impressive little restaurant, the B. O’Regan. ”Mouth-watering home cooking at very reasonable rates” they say. Soup and brown bread for €3.95 sounded reasonable but my plain scone cost €2.95! But it was of decent quality as was the reliable Bewley’s Coffee.
Mustard Seed garden
After that, headed out the Shannon estuary, as far as Tarbert where we saw the impressive car ferries come and go between the Kerry port and Killimer in Clare. Pity the day’s weather wasn’t the best. It was dry and generally dull but we still got a great idea of the impressive estuary,  Ireland's largest.
Mustard Seed garden
Headed back then, via Askeaton, to Ballingarry and the Mustard Seed, set in a former convent. Great welcome here, local cheddar, peaches and Prosecco in the room, and then a walk in the garden, a garden given over mainly to vegetables but with some gorgeous flowers and surprising mini-vistas, even including a little Buddha shrine!
Plate of lamb

All that was needed now was a good meal. And I got it at the Mustard Seed. Superb from start to finish. Briefly, it was Rabbit and Pig Terrine, Lemon Sorbet, Assiette of Lamb (above), and Selection of Irish Farmhouse Cheeses (including Milleens and Cashel Blue).  Five star. And then a comfy finish with the end of the wine and coffee in front of the fire! Happy days.