Showing posts with label Nano Nagle Place. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nano Nagle Place. Show all posts

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Meet Ireland’s Great Producers. Just a few of them!


Meet Ireland’s Great Producers
Just a few of them!
Cheesemaker Jean-Baptiste at Hegarty's

2018 Highlights now completed.
See below for brilliant National Stud visit;
A Taste of West Cork;
Life galore in the Irish Pub;
Michelin Stars, a trio this year;
Clonakilty's outstanding street festival;
Variations on the Irish Breakfast

Always manage to visit a few producers and 2018 was no exception; well, there were some exceptional visits, one to the innovative duo at the relatively new Killahora Orchards, the other to the well-established Hegarty Cheese in Whitechurch .

We were with a group of members of the Munster Wine & Dine who spent a very enjoyable May evening on a tour and tasting at Killahora Orchards near Glounthaune. Barry was our enthusiastic guide as we got both our whistles and our feet (aside from those who had brought wellies) wet in a most delightful way. 

Some of us had already marked Killahora products, including Johnny Fall Down cider, the Pom 'O Apple Port and their unique Rare Apple ice wine, among our favourite things. Those who hadn't come across them before were converted on this tour and tasting. More here

I met Jean-Baptise Enjelvin, cheesemaker at Hegarty’s, a few times during the year before heading out to see him at work in Whitechurch on an October morning.When I arrive at Hegarty’s farm on the outskirts of Whitechurch, less than twenty minutes north of Cork City, I’m greeted by Dan Hegarty, the frontman for their magnificent cheddar cheese that has been snapped up by restaurants and retail customers alike over the past 16 years or so. 
Killahora Orchards

For the past three years, Dan has had the considerable help of French cheese-maker Jean-Baptiste who had been on duty from earlier that morning.  He helps me get my kit on and I start to note how he makes their Templegall, a Comté style cheese, which has been getting sensational reviews over the past few months. 

I try my best to stay out of his way as the work progresses from the milk to the tank to the wheel on the stand. Amazing combination of skill, knowledge and muscle and then a lot of patience (a year or so of it) before the cheese is ready. It is a high quality product so do watch out for it! More here

* If you are food or drink producer and would like me to do a post in 2019, do drop me a line at cork.billy@gmail.com
* A producer for every week; see the list of Great Irish Tastes 2018

National Stud/Japanese Gardens
One of Ireland’s Stand-out Visits
2018 Highlights continued...
Guide Aoife has a back-pocket treat for Hardy Eustace.  And he knows it!

Last June, we “did” a loop around the Midlands, taking in Mikey Ryan’s in Cashel, Birr Castle, a tour of Tullamore DEW, and a stay at the impressive Heritage Hotel in Killenard but the undoubted highlight was our visit, on the one ticket, to the Japanese Gardens and the National Stud.

The Japanese Gardens are small but perfect. Now over a hundred years old, it is still very much worth visiting. Some 120,000 visitors soak up the peace ad beauty here every year. They were devised by Colonel Walker and were laid out by Japanese master horticulturist Tassa Eida and his son Minoru between 1906 and 1910. Walker named one of his classic winning horses after Minoru.

Before, or after, visiting the stud, you can refuel in the Japanese Garden Café. Here, Ballymaloe-trained Natalie Collins and her manager Ronan Mackey take pride in offering simple, wholesome food with the emphasis on freshness and flavour. Local ingredients are used wherever possible. The restaurant is open 7 days.

By the way, the grounds of the National Stud rival the gardens for beauty. But it is the characters here that I’m inclined to remember, especially Hardy Eustace! Described in his highly successful racing career as a hell of a horse and a tenacious battler, the now twenty year old is described as a big baby by Aoife, our fantastic guide, as she feeds him polo mints and those “missing” sugar cubes. 

Indeed, we all help out, keeping our fingers straight as we make our offerings to the famous gelding. Also keep it relatively quiet, just in case the jealous Hurricane Fly, who shares the field, might hear. 
Aoife was brilliant, our guide of the year, and later she took us to see the stallions, the guys that pay her wages! You may read an account of the visit here
John Coll's Famine Funeral at Coming Home

Other excellent “visits” this year included Nano Nagle Place (Cork City) , Youghal’s Historic Clock Gate Tower  and the amazing Ewe Experience  in Glengarriff.


Best art experience of the year was Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger  in Skibbereen.

A Rib around Bantry Bay
Just one of 250 events at A Taste of West Cork
2018 Highlights continued...

Ten days, 41 towns and villages, 8 islands, over 250 events. I’m talking about Ireland’s biggest and probably best food festival: A Taste of West Cork.

Impressive numbers indeed. But statistics only hint at the September story unfolding across the bays, the mountains, the hills and dales of the region. We dabbled a bit this year, as we regularly do and one of the highlights was the Indian Night in Richy’s of Clonakilty, another restaurant in the top echelon of this Michelin starred food-scape.

But the most fun that we had came down in Bantry, on a rib run by Diarmuid Murphy of the Fish Kitchen. The rib run and a fish dinner that evening were one of the official events for the festival. We weren’t quite sure why to expect when we booked - even thinking at one point that we’d have to fish for our dinner!

And, then as the clouds rolled in and the wind increased, we still weren’t sure as Diarmuid introduced us to his rib on the new marina in the bay. We put the gear on and soon we were bouncing out there on the bay. Exhilarating stuff even if our experienced skipper (we took just the one splash) decided against taking on the waves at either end of Whiddy Island and a trip across to see the liner in Glengarriff had to be abandoned.

But all the while he was filling us in - we two were his only passengers - on the geography and the amazing history of the bay: Wolfe Tone, the American flying boats on WW1 duty, the Eagle Pointers, Bantry House, the blue cliff, the Whiddy disaster and so much more including, of course, the mussel farming in the huge bay. He is a superb guide to the area and no wonder he is thinking of running this as a tourist attraction in the summer of 2019. Keep an eye out for that! Once I have details, I’ll post them here on the blog.


About two hours later, we were back on dry land. Time then for a rest and a shower before heading to the Fish Kitchen in the heart of Bantry for a delicious meal, enjoyed with a communal table that, by pure chance, included Esther and Joe Barron from the famous bakery in Cappoquin. A great afternoon trip and a terrific evening.

Life Galore in the Irish Pub
2018 Highlights continued...
Hot in the city. Galway in July.

We visited Galway in the high heat of the amazing summer, met some lovely people and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly everywhere we went and that included a visit to Michelin starred Aniar, strolls in the narrow streets, a cooling (not really!) cruise on the Corrib and on the huge lake (biggest in the Republic) but the memory that stands out was our visit to a pub!

We’ve been in some  memorable pubs in recent times, Dick Mack’s (with its micro brewery) in Dingle,  Reidy’s with its uncountable corners and crannies in Killarney, the Swagman and its amazing host Dale in Sligo, and a few more but the King’s Head in Galway is out on its own.

Well worth a call. And there is a bistro here that serves excellent local food - enter through a small archway off the city’s Latin Quarter. Chef Brendan Keane is a keen local and seasonal operator and hopefully Sorcha will be on duty to fill you in on the menu and the specials.

Afterwards, find your way to the adjoining pub and get a seat, by the stage if you want to get close up to the music or maybe by the bar. Our second night was by the bar, excellent choice of drinks here including local craft beers. 
Cocktail time!

And they have an impressive cocktail list here and put on quite a show as they get them ready. In the meantime, you’ll find yourself chatting to customers from all over the place. It won’t be a quiet chat - the music will be loud and lively, just like the street outside. Life con brio.

Another memorable pub was found just a few miles north-east of Cork city. O’Mahony’s of Watergrasshill operates only at weekends but do get there for the food and the fun if you are anywhere close. 


Máire and Victor (you’ll know him from the House Café at the Opera House) have given this two hundred year old pub a new lease of life, the emphasis very much on local food and drink. Old cow sheds have been converted into use - there is a stage in one - as venues for concerts and weddings. New soul in the old stones and well worth a visit for its lovely food and lovely people.

Michelin Stars in a Row.
More to follow!
Daikon, bamboo shoot (Ichigo ichi

Michelin stars are like the No. 8 bus (sorry, it’s 208 now, ask Billy Murphy of the Young Offenders); you wait, and wait, and then three come together. Just three? There are a few more waiting in the wings.

The anointed threesome in Cork (Ichigo Ichie, The Mews, and Chestnut) are now well-known but I’ve been flirting with a few others. Reckon Pilgrims should be up there with a bib at least while Bastion should be up a notch from the bib. Missed out on Dillon's but on the list for 2019! Enjoyed myself in both of them in 2018 and the highlight was the meal in Ichigo Ichi - before it got the star.
Pollock, pine, at Aniar


Outside of Cork, Aniar (star) and Aldridge Lodge (bib) were also visited this year. By the way, if you’re lucky enough to dine and get one of the three rooms to overnight in Aldridge, consider yourself doubly lucky as breakfast here is also a star treat!


Festivals: Amazing Street Fest in Clon!
2018 Highlights

Food and food related festivals continue to pop up all over the country. Relatively new ones, such as FEAST in East Cork, are thriving, along with well established events such as A Taste of West Cork. The Old Butter Road Festival, mainly in North Cork, enjoyed a good year. Didn’t get to too many outside of Cork this year but had a quick and appetising day trip to Harvest Festival (to a Blaa event) in Waterford city.

There was quite an excellent Cheese festival too at the Cork Airport Hotel, a great cheese dinner on one night and some new cheeses on display in the many stalls on the following days. And the regular long-table was again a huge hit on Cork’s South Mall with over 400 diners.


For me though, the festival where food and fun totally and seamlessly combined was the Clonakilty Street Carnival. Long tables galore here on the main street, even one for the kids. Much more for the young folks too with games and music. Music too on various platforms for the attendees in general. And very impressive numbers with over 2,000 adults fed, by the town’s leading restaurants, for fifteen euro a head!


Variations on the Irish Breakfast
2018 Highlights
Plaice Plus at Aldridge Lodge

In the queue at Nash 19 the other day (coffee and scone for me), I was drooling at the elements of the Full Irish inside the counter. I already had had breakfast but those rashers and sausages etc certainly looked very good indeed. Another excellent one, that I fully enjoyed, was served in mid-summer at De Barra Lodge near Rosscarbery

Rarely go out for breakfast so it’s mostly in hotels and B&Bs that I sample the traditional Full Irish. Sometimes, I ask for the cut-down version: “one of everything”. 

And sometimes I ask for the fish, if there is one. 

Increasingly, there is a fish option. The very best (usually plaice, served simply) is to be found in the Garryvoe Hotel or its cousin across the bay, the Bayview. Superb stuff, especially if you’d had a hard night.

Last month, I had the good luck to dine and stay in Aldridge House on the beautiful Hook Peninsula in County Wexford. I will soon be publishing a full post on the dinner and the stay. I had an inkling that the breakfast would be good.

And when owner-chef Billy Whitty told me plaice was on the menu, I jumped at it. They have a Michelin bib here and Billy improved on the simple plaice, turning it into a marine version of the Full Irish.

Very hard to beat his magnificent plate of fresh and delicious plaice that came with a poached egg (choice of hen or duck), tomatoes and a Portobello mushroom. All that after a terrific starter of a yogurt pot with hazelnuts and raspberry. 

Pancakes are also very popular around the country at breakfast time and I’ve enjoyed a few in recent months, the best hotel offering probably that at the lovely Lyrath Estate in Kilkenny. 

The very best though came closer to home, in the spring, at the Crawford Gallery Café where they served up American style buttermilk pancakes, with delicious bacon, yogurt, blueberries and bananas and Maple syrup of course. Amazing flavours and textures. Simply irresistible! 
Pancakes at the Crawford Gallery Café
No bacon at another excellent Cork venue, the terrific Good Day Deli. But, early in the year, they had excellent Poached Pear Pancakes with coconut mascarpone and a drizzle of Irish honey. A morning winner from this sustainable foods champion. Another non-meat venue is the Candied Hazelnut in Waterford and here I enjoyed their Blueberry Pancake Stack with Maple Syrup.

Will the plaice or the pancakes displace the Full Irish? Maybe not on their own but there are other factors at play here and you can expect to see even more variety on the Irish breakfast plate.

* Have you a great breakfast offering? Email: cork.billy@gmail.com

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Good Day Deli. Good Food Daily

Good Day Deli

Good Food Daily
Pic by Good Day Deli

Kai Moana is one of the exotic names that pops up on the menu at Good Day Deli in the gardens of Nano Nagle Place in Cork City. Those of you who have visited the South Pacific, especially New Zealand and the “neighbouring” islands, will not find them strange at all and know that Kai Moana is the Maori for seafood.

Perhaps the most important two words you’ll read are Mana Tiaki. It is the motto for this lovely new daytime restaurant. “In the Cook Islands, the core value of Mana Tiaki is guardianship of heritage and the environment for future generations. Mana Tiaki is a beautiful value to live by and is at the core of Good Day Deli.”

So sustainability is the guideline for the crew here, fronted by owners Clare Condon and New Zealander Kristin Makirere and Head Chef Charlotte Murphy, from the food sourcing right down to the paper napkins. 


Importantly that food is delicious; the word has already spread and the place was packed when we visited about 12.30pm last Friday. Don't just look in through the glass and say “we’ll never get a table”. Open the door and soon enough you’ll be seated. You may reserve a table earlier in the week (Tuesday to Thursday).

The afternoon menu kicks in at 12.30. After a few minutes delay we were seated and studying the list. There was a hot seasonal soup (chilli and coriander in this case), a Tart of the Day, a Vibrant Vegan dish, and a Halloumi Citrus Salad. Sides galore: honey, nut dukkah, tapenade, hummus, paprika fries and more.

We had spotted a hake dish on their facebook page and were hoping it was still on. It was and CL picked that one: Kai Moana Fish Tacos, lightly battered Irish Hake on Blanco Nino Corn Tortillas with raw slaw, pickle plus lemon coriander mayo and fries. That fish was fresh and delicious, a lovely dish for €15.00.

I also hit the jackpot with the GDD Curry Bowl (€14.00). Crown Prince Squash + Chickpea Coconut Curry Bowl, with Basmati rice, yogurt and toasted coconut is the full description. Probably the best curry I've ever tasted is mine. Just perfect.

Service here, even with the small queue at the door, is excellent. No pressure, just smiles and all the info you want.

One of their aims is to “elevate local producers”. They feature quite a list on the menu including (it will change seasonally) well-known cheesemakers such as Ardsallagh, Hegarty’s and Toonsbridge, farms like Kilbrack, Horizon and Richard’s, also Green Space, Frank Hederman, Ballycotton Seafood, and Organic for Us (milk). Quite an impressive list and that’s only half of it. Oh yes, the Blanco Nino Corn Tortillas with the hake are made in Clonmel.

The café, bright and airy with some outside tables, has one of the best situations on the city, in the middle of the peaceful well-kept gardens of the Nano Nagle Place, fast becoming one of the city centre’s top attractions. While at the café, I took the opportunity to visit the buildings and you may read about it here. No doubt as the season goes on, both Nano Nagle and Good Day Deli will get busier.

Nano Nagle Place
Douglas Street
Cork
(021) 432 2107
clare@gooddaydeli.ie

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Electric Fish Bar On The Double At Nano Nagle Pop-up

Electric Fish Bar On The Double At Nano Nagle Pop-up


The Fishbar@Electric Presents “Plateau de fruits de mer” for One Night Only was the hook as the South Mall restaurant advertised their pop-up evening at the café in the gardens of Nano Nagle Place.The punters took the bait big-time and while it was still For One Night Only, a second sitting was arranged.


The original meal was down to start at 8.00pm on Wednesday last and the additional one, the one I attended, started at 5.30. Sell-out was the way it went these past few days at Nano Nagle as Taste Cork Week extended to meet Jazz Weekend and that augurs well for the future of the café. A permanent operator is due to be named shortly.

It was quite an occasion as Electric’s Fishbar took advantage to showcase a selection of local and seasonal shellfish and fish, served both hot and cold. There was also breads, a chowder to start with and a dessert. All that, plus a welcome drink (spirits and mixer) and music as well in a historic venue (starting a new lease of life) for a very reasonable thirty euro.

One thing about a full house is that people are closer together. And we got even nearer to the couple next door, pulling the tables closer the better to chat. And that made a lovely meal into a lovely social occasion as well. So big thanks to Margaret and Ted!

And big thanks also to Fishbar Chef Ray who put the magnificent platter together. The “platter” came in two tiers, a bit like an afternoon tea, but space was limited and the tiers was a terrific solution.

There were all kinds of delicious fish and shellfish in the display: mussels, calamari, oysters, crab-meat, salmon, prawns (both big and small), and more, enough to fill you up for sure!


Good service too, friendly and efficient, and a selection of drinks (some free) to wash it all down. Very enjoyable indeed.



Monday, September 18, 2017

Taste Cork Week. Plus! Jazz Extension Added

Taste Cork Week. Plus!

Jazz Extension Added
The perfect cider pour by Rupert of Longueville House

Following last year’s success, Taste Cork Week returns next month. Indeed, it will run for more than a week with an extension that takes it up to the eve of the Jazz Weekend.

At the launch last week, in Nano Nagle Place, the spanking new major attraction right in the heart of the city, Ernest Cantillon of Festival Cork told us to watch out for some of the more informal events: jazz cafes, a distillery visit in a barn, and pop ups in unusual places. 
Ernest Cantillon of Festival Cork

One or more of those pop ups will be in the café in the peaceful gardens of Nano Nagle. Keep an eye on the Taste Cork website here for more details of all events.
.
Victor O'Sullivan (left) of Bluebell
and Tim Mulcahy (Chicken Inn)
Evenings with guest chefs always seem to be popular. One of the highlights from last year was in Isaac’s when Arun Kapil, founder of award-winning spice company Green Saffron, Chef Patron Canice Sharkey along with restaurant co-owners Michael and Catherine Ryan, hosted an exclusive sold-out spice pop-up at the Cork city institution in McCurtain Street.

Holy Smoke are one of the first up this year with an invite “to embark on a unique gourmet journey and experience the best of Irish BBQ cuisine, prepared with the local meat that is cooked in Holy Smoke’s signature barbecue-style, low-n-slow, for four to sixteen hours”. 

Pitmasters John Relihan and Decky Walsh will serve up an exquisite six-course meal on October 17th and will walk you through the secrets and preparation techniques behind each dish while Caroline Hennessy will masterfully guide you through the pairing of each dish, presenting and explaining the corresponding whiskey or craft beer.

Justin Green, and Bertha’s Revenge of course, were at the launch. And Justin has an event lined up at Ballyvolane House. It will kick-off at 12 noon  (October 18th) with a B&T (Bertha & Tonic) and as soon as everyone has arrived, guests will be given a tour of the house, gardens and gin distillery. 

Lunch will be served at 1pm in the dining terrace where guests can meet and chat with the makers over lunch. Stonewell Cider and Eight Degrees Brewing will also be involved and tipples produced by all three makers will be served during lunch.

So there you are, a nice trip to the countryside. As Ernest Cantillon said in his address the event is designed to bring city and county together and indeed both were officially represented on the night.
Lorna Conroy of
Kinsale Bay.

Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald pointed to the fact that Cork has been designated as a Healthy City and put that down largely to the good food in the area. He stressed the importance of festivals in drawing visitors and said he was very proud of what Ernest and his colleagues are doing.

Ian Doyle, Deputy County Mayor, rightly congratulated the City Council on the marvellous work that they have done (and are continuing to do) at Nano Nagle Place, “a fantastic venue”. He noted that artisan food and drink are becoming very important and praised the great dedication shown by the producers.

Ernest said there is a great relationship between businesses, such as restaurants and hotels and suppliers. “Cork is well known for the quality of its produce and it is up to us to make sure we use it.”

Shane Clarke, of Nano Nagle Place, gave us a brief rundown of the life of Nano Nagle and of the current project and said there had been some 250 years of education on the site, an element they intend to take forward. And he too mentioned their lovely cafe and is looking forward to the pop-ups during the festival. The Nano Nagle has just recently opened and is well worth a visit. Details here

As is usual with Taste Cork, there were quite a few producers in Nano Nagle: Cider from Stonewell and Longueville, spirits from Bertha’s Revenge, Kinsale and St Patrick’s, Kinsale Bay and the Fish Deli (great to meet up again with Monica and Peter), Bluebell Falls, Hassett’s, On the Pigs Back, and Ballymaloe Relish. And the Old Butter Roads Food Trail had a lovely tasting plate. Well done to all for turning up and adding to the occasion.