Showing posts with label ORSO. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ORSO. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Catalan Take-over at the Castle Cafe. Chef Sessions Number Four!


Catalan Take-over at the Castle Cafe
Chef Sessions Number Four!
Dessert

Every now and then the young chefs of the Market Lane group get a chance to shine. The latest came on Monday evening at the Castle Café at Blackrock Castle where, under guidance from Executive Chef Stephen Kehoe, Sara Movilla Cobo, Jose Emilio Escobar Garcia Prieto, Marc Montserrat Vila and Marc Oliveras Duran, cooked a Catalan meal for a full house.
The four have become a core part of the team at the group (which also includes a micro brewery and city restaurants Elbow Lane, ORSO and Market Lane itself) as a result of the excellent recruitment programme that the group has had with CETT (Campus de Turisme, Hoteleria i Gastronomia) University in Barcelona since 2017.

That full house included Market Lane’s Conrad Howard. He was excited as any of the guests as he welcomed us and looked forward to the evening, the fourth in what has become known as the Chef Sessions. Neither he nor we would be disappointed.
We got off to a good start with a glass of Kir. Soon the breads were on that table and soon we were trying them. The selection of Spanish and Irish breads were accompanied by some lovely butters, one featuring beetroot, another garlic and kale, the third mushrooms. And they went down well with a glass of the Elbow Lane red ale.
Black pudding, scallop
Next up was the Salmorejo, a cold tomato soup with olive oil. It was served with cured Spanish ham (on top) and a boiled egg (at bottom). Enjoyed that and also the Black pudding, scallop and pickled carrot tapa.
Eel and apple
There were no less than five “units” in the next serving session. The highlight for me was perhaps the Courgette cannelloni with Cashel Blue cheese, a beautiful combination. The most unusual was the Kokotxas al Pil Pil. Kokotxas is goats neck in garlic oil, with an emulsion of olive oil and garlic and basil.
Also included was a cube of Foie Eel Apple, layers of eel and thinly cut apple with a caramelised top; a Croqueta de L’avia (traditional); and a Seafood Paella.
Cannelloni

All the while, we were sipping our wine, two organic gems imported by Le Caveau. The red Almate has been described as “as outstanding within its type and style” and it certainly lived up to the Spanish Wine Lover description. The white, Château Beauregard Mirouze Campana blanc from Corbieres, was aromatic, elegant and with a long finish.
We were getting to the serious end of the evening now and our fish course was Hake with five sauces. I particularly liked it with the fennel. The meat was a well cooked piece of pigeon, served with pack choi and pear. 
Getting full now! But dessert was on the way and a nice one it was as you can see by the top photo. And then there was a selection of petit fours to sample: a Hazelnut Financier, Bailey’s Bombon, and a Panellet. The latter is  the traditional dessert of Catalunya. I think with all the delicious food displayed by the chefs at the Castle, a move to the north east of Spain would be no hardship at all. Meanwhile, we can all look out for the Spanish influence on the menus of the Market Lane group.




Monday, August 20, 2018

The Meadows of Hive Mind. Bees’ Paradise in Myrtleville.

Bees’ Paradise in Myrtleville.
The Meadows of Hive Mind.

The honey, in its tallish jar, is of a light colour though a bit cloudier than usual. But there is a natural explanation. It is produced by the bees at Hive Mind in Myrtleville and is unfiltered. The aromas are attractive, mainly light and floral I think. No wonder, these bees are spoiled, meadows of flowers and herbs set out for them. I am enjoying this sample with its smooth consistency, pleasantly coating the palate, the flavours and aromas persistent.


Hive Mind themselves have persisted since 2014 and the bees are enjoying their meadows by the sea, meadows planted with herbs and flowers (the seed has been organically sourced) that include: Berseem Clover, Borage, Buckwheat, Calendula, Caraway, Chinese Mallow, Cork Cockle, Cornflower, Dill, Fennel, Phacelia, and the beautiful Sainfoin.
Aishling and Mark

The variety of flowers and blossoms from the meadows and the hedgerows help balance the flavours of the honey. Buckwheat on its own yields a dark brown honey which is pungent, the flavour a distinctively malty. Clover, on the other hand, gives a sweet and delicate result, closer to a “normal” honey. The bees love clover but there are quite a few varieties of the plant, so not all clover based honey is the same.

“It’s not too surprising to find that the magical, cliff-edged village of Myrtleville, with its stunning views of the sea, is producing some of best wild honey in the country today,” says Aishling Moore, head chef of award-winning Elbow Lane restaurant, who rates Hive Mind amongst the best honey she has ever tasted. And the good news is that you too can help Hive Mind continue to stretch out a helping hand to the Irish honey bee.

Mark Riordan's apiaries and bee meadow are located at his family farm in Myrtleville House.  To create a sustainable business Riordan has started 'renting' his hives to organisations and individuals in exchange for his honey.   And the Market Lane restaurant group has committed to financially supporting three colonies of honey bees at Riordan's farm.
A meadow at six weeks

His collaboration with Moore, the first with a restaurant, will not only provide for the restaurant’s honey needs throughout the year but it also means that Riordan gets solid financial support to build up his bee stocks and increase the number of hives.  It will also help to maintain a vibrant, healthy habitat for these bee colonies and help Riordan to engage other beekeepers to spread the word.  

Hive Mind is now making an appearance as a hero product on the menus at Elbow Lane, which is part of the progressive Cork-based Market Lane Group of restaurants.  The talented, young Moore has woven this wonderful honey into dressings, sauces and spun it into ice-cream and cocktails. 

Factors such as weather, parasites and pesticides have meant that local bee stocks are diminishing every year so Riordan sees that initiatives like Hive Mind will be vital for the survival of the honey bee into the future. These black and yellow-striped flying friends are key to the country's biodiversity and economy. It is estimated that they contribute some €53m* to the Irish economy every year. 

Riordan, who has a Masters in horticulture and years of experience as a beekeeper, set up Hive Mind in 2014.  “I am delighted to be working with Aishling and the Market Lane Group.  This company is so well established and respected for its ethical and sustainable approach to sourcing.  It is a perfect partner for Hive Mind. It is also a vital link into the city for me.”

The Hive Mind goals are:
  • Promote the growth and development of a national passion for beekeeping.
  • Set up provincial apiaries to carry out a nationwide service.
  • Arrest the decline of the honey bee on a local level.
  • Aid in educating and inspiring as many people as possible.

To buy by the jar, shoppers can go online and fill in an ‘expression of interest’ form.  They will be contacted when the next harvest is completed at the beginning of Autumn.  See the website here.  


Monday, March 12, 2018

Food Photo Exhibition At City Library. Cork Food Policy Competition

Food Photo Exhibition At City Library
Cork Food Policy Competition

"Haddock Man" by John Dempsey
It is amazing that so many Irish people have very little idea as to where their food is coming from. Most of us city dwellers are barely a generation removed from the countryside, which for many of us is still just a short drive away. 

Yet I got a shock myself last year when a thirty something visited our garden; only then did she learn that peas grow in pods! Had she been born sixty years or so earlier, she’d have been sent to the corner shop for a bag of unshelled peas. Back home, she and her siblings would then get to "work" on shelling the sweet green peas.
Eleanor Attridge receives her prize from yours truly

Last week, over half-a-dozen or more magpies were making a massive racket on a bare tree in a school avenue but neither the mother nor the offspring walking underneath looked up. In the good old days, your mother or father would have plenty to say on the magpies - remember one for sorrow, two for joy.… 

So how did this disconnect with food and nature happen? Rather than looking for someone to blame (parents, educators, farmers, supermarkets), would it not be much better to concentrate on mending that “break”? 

There are quite a few people already doing so, including the Cork Food Policy Council who recently organised a photo competition where the categories were:
1- Food and Health - where does it come from?
2- Cork Food. What’s eating Cork and what’s Cork eating?
3- Community. What could a sustainable food system look like?

The categories were all well chosen to make the photographer think a little before pressing that shutter button and the winners of the inaugural Cork Food Policy Council’s Food Photo Competition were presented with their prizes at the Cork City Library in Grand Parade last Friday evening. You may see all 43 entries there, in the library foyer, until March 26th.

“A competition like this presents an opportunity to tell a different story about what we actually eat and where it really comes from,” Keelin Tobin, Coordinator of Cork Food Policy Council as she introduced the winners.

"Olive" by Annelies Verbiest
“This competition is an opportunity for photographers to showcase and celebrate the efforts being made towards a sustainable food system in Cork,” said Ellie Donovan of Green Space and Member of Cork Food Policy Council Steering Committee.

Annelies Verbiest won the ORSO sponsored prize for the Food and Health category. Her photo of Olive the hen was taken the day “Olive arrived in our garden”. “At 18 months, she was deemed too old for the industry as she had stopped providing an egg each day. She lived with us for a year, until she died. Her featherless body shows the true cost of cheap eggs in high production environments.”

The Cork Food category was the most popular one and the judges, who included professionals Giles Norman and Monika of Pepperazzi, picked two winners here. Beekeeper Eleanor Attridge’s honeycomb pic was one, “nature at its best, straight from the comb”. “It looked well and tasted better,” she said on the night.
Eileen Duggan receives her prize.

Frances Deasy’s photo of a grandmother and grandson gardening was the other winner. “Growing and eating my food is a pleasure, sharing with family a joy,” she said. Both Eleanor and Frances received a voucher from the English Market.

The Community Category prize (from O’Leary’s Camera World) was won by John Dempsey for his Haddock Man, a portrait of fish-monger William Martin at his stall in the English Market. Keen photographer John will enjoy spending that voucher.

Joleen Cronin's shot (left) of a fisherman landing his catch was the winner of the Giles Norman Selected Prize. The fisherman was pictured coming in after several days at sea, “the last fishing trip before Christmas.” The vessel, the Buddy M, arrived in Crosshaven at 3.00am on a wet and cold December morning.

The Monika Coghlan Pepperazzi Selected Prize went to Eileen Duggan for her shot of a bee, busy at work. “No bees, no honey. The bee was working very hard to gather nectar. Our bees are a very important part of our food chain, therefore we need to protect them.” 

Monika, “a great help throughout the competition”, also took the presentation photos  (some reproduced here) at the library. Other sponsors for the opening were Rocket Man and Green Space.

* Don’t forget to drop in to the library entrance where you’ll be able to see all the photos until March 26th.




Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The Chef Sessions. Bone marrow, lambs hearts, cauliflower stalks, tripe, pigs tail, pig skin pasta, and more.


The Chef Sessions At ORSO
Bone marrow, lambs hearts, cauliflower stalks, tripe, pigs tail, pig skin pasta, and more.
Bone marrow

In a remote restaurant in Sweden, Chef Magnus Nilsson saws a bone lengthways as his customers look on. The marrow is scooped out and mixed with other ingredients, a bowl for each guest. Fäviken* is the name of the restaurant and it is in the world’s top 50. No such theatre at ORSO on Monday evening when the Market Lane young chefs presented their latest Chef Sessions, the first one open to the public, but we did have bone marrow, lambs hearts, cauliflower stalks, tripe, pigs tail, spent grain brioche, pig skin pasta, even a stout wort fudge.


The focus here in these sessions is very much on using the previously unused, rarer cuts of meat, little known fish, and on avoiding food waste. But the focus, and the challenge, is sharpened by the imperative to cook and present the unusual to a very high standard. The confident crew did very well indeed and their nine course meal took us beyond the familiar comfort zone and was a delicious delight of taste and imagination.
Heart

Served with some excellent beer (their own) and organic wines, this turned out to be a thought provoking nine courses of excellent dining. Keep an eye on the Market Lane and Chef Sessions social media accounts for future events (which may have a different theme but with the same talent behind this “evolving, exciting eating”).

Last Monday's theme was underlined by the welcome drink, Blood Orange Fizz, a delicious cocktail of Beara Gin infused with waste from segmenting blood oranges and topped with Prosecco. Bread and butter was served, the brioche made from spent grain, a by-product of their brewing process. The delicious cultured butter is a fermented butter. Then smoked Cods Roe “criminally underused in our opinion” was served as a mousse on a squid ink cracker. At this stage we were enjoying a bottle of their Jawbone cloudy beer, a superb drink with the food.
Smoked cods roe on squid ink cracker

Then a combination of classic Cork and classic France: Tripe and gribiche. The tripe was slowly braised, pressed, cooled and cut unto rings before dusting with flour and deep-frying. Looking at it, you’d have thought you had calamari on the plate. Then came the bone marrow, served and roasted in the bone and topped with an oil based sauce, flavoured with parsley capers and lemon. Another excellent pairing.

Their own beer
Next up was the Coffee Grounds Baked Beetroot, Hive Mind Honey, ricotta, and malt cracker. Hadn't heard of Hive Mind before but they are a County Cork company, a kind of co-op really, that for a fee will look after hives for you at their location and give you the honey at the end of the season; more info here.  Market Lane have invested in hives and the honey here came from a fennel meadow. The ricotta was made using leftover buttermilk from making the cultured butter and the malt cracker was made from malt from the Elbow Lane micro brewery. And, by the way, all these ingredients came together very well indeed.

The following dish, Pigs Tail and Garlic broth, was also full of flavour. The tails, with the inner bone removed, had been slowly braised, pressed and pan-fried while the broth was made from the skins of roasted garlic which is often wasted. I thoroughly enjoyed that one. 
Tripe..

Welcome
Another interesting combination followed: Cauliflower stalks, parmesan rind custard, and smoked ham. The stalks had been "confited" in duck fat and the cheese sauce garnished with ham crumb. Time for a palate refresher then and that was a Cucumber sorbet, pickled watermelon rind. Apparently, there is a fair bit of waste with cucumbers and here the outer skin and inner seeds were used to good effect.

Pig skin “pasta” with clams got us going again. Had really been looking forward to the next one and the Lambs heart, potato fondant, kale and lamb demi glace didn’t disappoint. Far from it.

Baked beets
Burnt toast and “barmalade” parfait Barry’s Tea ganache was the tasty dessert. Citrus fruit waste from the bar was used to make the “barmalade” and the white chocolate ganache came from used Barry’s Tea bags. “Using used tea bags you get a more caramel flavour and lose the harsh tannin flavour from the tea”. All a bit complicated to the outsider but no bother at all in cleaning that plate!
Cauliflower stalks..

We had, a long time back, started on the wines, both by Le Caveau. The white was a Judith Beck Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) from Austria while the red was Inspiration by Domaine de la Ville Rouge in Croze-Hermitage and both were excellent.
Dessert
The coffee then appeared along with a selection of “petit fours”. More invention here. The coffee and walnut was filled with a coffee grounds infused custard. The Beetroot aqua fava Macaron saw the egg white in the recipe replaced by water from Chick pea tins. My favourite was perhaps the Angel Stout wort Fudge. Wort is a by-product of the brewing process, a sweet and malty one.

Just another surprise on the night. At the start, Conrad Howard of the Market Lane group had promised us “a treat” even if many of the ingredients were by-products, discards, or waste. He was spot-on. So well done to all involved, to Lorenzo Luzzani, Chef de Partie in Market Lane, Janos Schmidt, Chef de Partie in the Castle Cafe and Liam Flynn, grill chef in Market Lane and to young Aishling Moore sous chef at Elbow Lane, who once again headed up the team. They also benefited from the regular input of the Group's executive chef and Elbow Lane owner, Stephen Kehoe.


The 'Chef Sessions’ are the result of an intense collaboration among the young chefs working in the Market Lane Group’s four restaurants (Market LaneElbow LaneCastle Cafe Cork & ORSO Kitchen & Bar) who, over a six week period, create a menu to present on the night. CorkBilly was a guest at ORSO.


* For more on the story of this remarkable restaurant and indeed for behind the scenes accounts of restaurants past and present from around the world, do try and get your hands on In The Restaurant (Society in Four Courses) by Christoph Ribbat (2017). I got mine in the local library.





Sunday, October 15, 2017

Blasket Lamb Buzz at Market Lane. Also at ORSO, Castle Cafe and Elbow Lane

Blasket Lamb Buzz at Market Lane. 
Also at ORSO, Castle Cafe and Elbow Lane



There’s always a buzz when Market Lane announces that its annual allocation of tasty Blasket Lamb has arrived! Well in case you haven’t heard, now is the time for 2017. Just a short window during which you may get it at Market Lane and its associated restaurants: ORSO, Castle Café and Elbow Lane.


Grabbed an opportunity to taste it last week, had it in both starter and mains, and enjoyed every little bit. The Oliver Plunkett Street venue was indeed buzzing as we arrived to a warm welcome and lots of info on the lamb. We had no other interest on the night, well dessert maybe, so that made it easy for our enthusiastic and well-informed server.
Starter

Time perhaps for a bit of background.
This story begins with small holder, Donnacha O Ceileachair, who raises a small flock of sheep on the Great Blasket Island. When the April-born lambs are ready, he brings them by ferry from the Island onto the mainland. Award-winning Dingle Butcher, Jerry Kennedy, selects out the premium meat for the Market Lane Group.

“The impeccable provenance of this product is reflected in its quality and flavour; we are proud to be the only restaurants in Ireland to serve it to our customers. This truly is a farm to fork experience with everybody in the supply chain really respectful and excited about the product.” – Pamela Kelly, Head Chef, Market Lane. And we met Pam on the night and delighted to be able to congratulate her  and her team on a job well done!

The starter was Spiced Blasket Lamb croquette with Velvet Cloud sheep’s yogurt, crispy mint and pomegranate. All the ingredients, including the mild spice, the chickpeas in the croquette, the smooth cooling yogurt from Mayo, each played a role in a lovely plateful.

Server Yuliyan was coming up with some excellent drink matches but we were keen to renew  acquaintance with their own Elbow Lane beers and so he recommended the Wisdom Amber Ale with the starter. He was spot-on with that as he was when suggesting the sharper Elbow lager would do well with the mains.
Dessert!

And, if the starter was five star, then the mains was all of that but even more outstanding, hors catégorie as they say in the cycling world. I’ll give you the full description: Blasket Lamb Rack and pressed lamb belly with fondant root veggies, Elbow beer vinaigrette, and buttermilk mash. This was a duo of lamb to remember, tender and tasty, perfectly cooked and served.

Would we like dessert? Well, we’ll look. Yuliyan recommended the Marmalade and vanilla bread and butter pudding. “The massive one?”, I asked (having had previous). He confirmed with a smile. We decided to share and loved it.


It is just one of about a dozen desserts here. Lots of starters too and the same applies to the mains; here you’ll see the names of local suppliers such as Coolea, Goatsbridge, St Tola, Ballinwillin, Tom Durcan, and Toonsbridge. But, at present, the Blasket Lamb is the star of the show. You’ll need to get in soon as the limited supply won't last for very long!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Blasket Island Lamb Arrives at Market Lane Restaurants

press release

The Market Lane Group Celebrates Blasket Island Lamb 
Across all their Restaurants in October

Jerry and Donnacha
Cork’s Market Lane Group of restaurants will celebrate the unique, award-winning lamb from the Blasket Islands on all their food menus from Wednesday 11 October 2017.  This highly anticipated event is now in its 8th year, and given the popularity of this delicious, rare meat, the chance to experience it usually only lasts until the end of the month.  This celebration of Blasket Island Lamb is exclusive to the Group. 

Chefs in each restaurant (Market Lane, Orso, Elbow Lane and Castle Cafe) create special lamb dishes that reflect their own in-house style of cooking and the full range of cuts will be used.  These will be carefully partnered with drinks recommendations from the group’s wine and beer experts.

The habitat on the islands is what makes this product so special and gives it such a great reputation. The animals graze in a marshy meadow full of heather, natural grassland and wild herbs such as rosemary, sage and thyme.  The grass is salty from sea spray which gives the lamb its highly valued pre-sale flavour. The animals are free to roam so the lamb is leaner creating a perfect fat to meat ratio.

Pamela Kelly Gough, head chef of Market Lane, who has been working with Blasket Island lamb for many years now says “We are delighted as a group to shine a light on this very special organic Autumn lamb, which is different in many ways from the more usual Spring lamb” she says. “The impeccable provenance of this product is reflected in its quality and flavour; we are proud to be the only restaurants in Ireland to serve it to our customers. This truly is a farm to fork experience with everybody in the supply chain really respectful and excited about the product.”
 
Lamb Shank at ORSO
This story begins with small holder, Donnacha O Ceileachair, who raises a small flock of sheep on the Great Blasket Island.  When the April-born lambs are ready, he brings them by ferry from the Island onto the mainland.  There, they are rested for up to a week on Donnacha’s farm in Dun Chaoin, to recuperate from their choppy journey across the Dingle Sound.  Award-winning Dingle Butcher, Jerry Kennedy, then picks out the premium lambs which are sent for slaughter. When the annual Market Lane order is delivered, the remaining lamb is sold to the public directly from Kennedy’s Butcher Shop on Orchard Lane, Dingle or via www.dinglebutcher.com

Diners at The Market Group can look forward to dishes such as;
‘Elbow Lager lamb pie, pommes anna and glazed heritage carrots’, “Blasket lamb leg in fish sauce with seaweed gratin’,  ORSO ‘Moroccan braised lamb shank with ras-el-hanout cous cous, preserved lemon, pomegranate and red onion pickle’ and ‘Anchovy and rosemary leg of lamb steak, creamed polenta, with caponata and crispy shallots.’
 
At Market Lane
Check out the new menus, drinks, specials, menu changes and availability of lamb dishes on the social media channels for the restaurants within the group including www.marketlane.ie and facebook; Market Lane.

Monday, June 15, 2015

All White on the Night. Dining Out in Cork City

All White on the Night.

Dining Out in Cork City.
“Bet you never thought you’d be sitting down to a three course meal on the street outside Penny’s and Guiney's,” said one diner as we gathered for Our Table in Oliver Plunkett Street (Cork) last evening. The four hundred of us, dressed in white (mostly!), were dined, wined and entertained for the two hours. The verdict: bring on 2016. Indeed, even before the night, indications were that double the number would be catered for next year.
Starter by House
So lots of craic, good fun and good food too. The long table was divided into four and we were at the B section. Each section had three restaurants looking after its needs and our trio were House, Isaacs and ORSO.

As we arrived we were treated to a refreshing flower-topped juice and guided to our table (and, yes, it was outside Penny’s and Guiney's). Soon we were meeting new and old friends and a glass of wine, sponsored by O'Donovan’s, went down well.
The event was sponsored by BAM Ireland and JCD and there were special thanks to Cork City Council, Cork City Forum, Elbow Lane Brewery, Stonewell Cider, One water, Down to Earth Materials, The Oliver Plunkett, O’Donovan’s Off Licence, The Pavilion Garden Centre, Cork Midsummer Festival. And a big round of applause too for the restaurants (management and staff) involved.
Mains by Isaac's. More on the side!
After the introductory drink and a nibble on the gorgeous Arbutus Bread (with butter), it didn't take long at all and the 400 were settling into the House starter: Carpaccio of baby radish, gold and red beets with tahini grapefruit and pistachio. Loved that mix of flavours, textures, not forgetting colours. A very promising start indeed.

Lamb was the main course at all the tables and Isaac’s came up with Slow roast shoulder of lamb with summer greens, spiced aubergines, and Ballycotton new potatoes. The best of ingredients plus the top class cooking forever associated with the MacCurtain Street venue made for a lot of happy diners at Table B!

The first two courses were excellent and the high standard was maintained right to the sweet end with the appearance of the ORSO dessert: Pecan and local honey baklava with gooseberry and elderflower compote, and Toonsbridge ricotta cream. A delightful dessert indeed, made even more so by the tang of the compote.

All that had to be done then was finish off the wine and head up the street to see how the others were doing. Met diners and restaurateurs alike and it was a case of thumbs up in all cases. Happy out!

The event was part of the Cork Midsummer Festival which continues for another week. See the programme for the coming week here.
Dessert by ORSO

Friday, November 28, 2014

Elbow Lane Brew & Smoke House. Best of goods in small parcels.

Elbow Lane Brew & Smoke House

Best of goods in small parcels




Best of goods in small parcels. An old Irish saying beloved of mothers.

And like many old sayings, there is some truth in it. Take the Elbow Lane Brew and Smoke House in Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork. The brewery here is so small, they call it nano rather than micro and the restaurant area, which can accommodate 25, is one of the smallest if not the smallest in the city. But you certainly get good stuff here.

Got the tour from Gerry O’Sullivan (you'll know him from the Castle Cafe) yesterday morning and you can see he enjoys his work here (he is also a home-brewer!). But then you realise that all the crew you meet here are on the same level of enthusiasm. Take a look at the top right of the menu and you’ll read: We’re really round of the beers that we make here. This is not marketing speak. It is true!

Perhaps, that enthusiasm has rubbed off from their beer guru Cuilan of White Gypsy. Elbow Lane folk are loud in their praise of the help and advice give by the pioneering Templemore brewery, especially Cuilán and Jamie.

The new Cork brewery is divided into two floors. The brewing and fermentation takes place downstairs while the conditioning takes place above. To save space, Gerry explained that they have an initial multi-purpose tank replacing the mash tun and lauter tun that you see in bigger breweries. Everything starts here and then the spent grain is neatly removed in its perforated container by a small hoist and no need for anyone to pop into the vessel with a shovel!

Gerry explained that hops can be added at different stages to the wort but with different effects. In general, hops added early in the boil will contribute more bitterness, but at the expense of flavor and aroma. Hops added at the end will have a more pronounced flavor and aroma, but will not contribute significantly to the bitterness of the beer.
Gerry, Conrad and brewer Russell
Hygiene is all important and is given the highest priority here. And Elbow Lane have also invested in temperature control, a key element in helping the brewer. Patience is also required, especially with lager. A German style lager can take up to six weeks while an Ale or Stout will be ready in 12 to 14 days.

There is a set of conditioning tanks upstairs - again you’ll see much bigger ones in other craft breweries. They are also known as Bright Beer Tanks. But the beer goes in cloudy. “All our beers here are unfiltered,” Gerry tells me. “They are naturally cloudy.”

The Cascade hop is one of the most popular and indeed, Gerry tells me there could well be a shortage of this particular type in the near future. They use it sparingly here, in pellet form. All the Elbow Lane beers are relatively lightly hopped, mainly because of food matching considerations. You don't want an over-hopped beer destroying the food flavours.

Indeed, the new brewery owes it existence to the food produced in the restaurants, Elbow Lane itself and big brother Market Lane next door, nearby ORSO and the Castle Cafe in Blackrock Castle. Owner Conrad Howard says they wouldn't have started a standalone “retail brewery”. But this one fits really well with the company's four food outlets, each with its own style. The Brewery has kegging and bottling facilities but that is to distribute the beers to ORSO and Blackrock. Market Lane is piped into the system!

And what kind of food do they do downstairs in the Elbow Lane Smokehouse? Well, very popular stuff by the looks of it. You'll find it difficult to get a seat after 7.00pm. Head chef Stephen Keogh is the man in charge and his pride and joy is the wood grill imported from the US.

Virtually everything you get on your plate here has been through the in-house smoker, the smoke coming from apple wood. Oak is used under the grill and here the T-Bones, the duck and fish (last Thursday night it was Sea Bream), is finished off.

And it really is going down very well. “There is a great feedback from all age groups”, says a delighted Gerry. “What’s your favourite?”, I asked. “Oh give me a T-Bone with that smoked Béarnaise butter and I’ll be a happy puppy!”

Sounds very good indeed. Pity it was early in the morning when we met! Must go back and try the cooking, the ribs are also highly rated. And it is a very different menu.  Even the desserts! Where else would you get Passion Curd, eucalyptus and tamarind jelly?

At present, there are some five beers in the Elbow Lane range: Elbow Lager, Wisdom Ale, Liberty Porter, Angel Stout and Jawbone Pale Ale. Check them out here. Oh yes, you may also drink wine here, even tea and coffee!


Elbow Lane
4 Oliver Plunkett Street
Cork
021 239 0479.
info@elbowlane.ie

Friday, January 17, 2014

Dining at the Castle


Dining at the Castle Café
The sky cleared as we arrived at Cork’s Blackrock Castle this week for lunch in the Castle Café. and, from the bright front room - there is also an inner room - we had a close-up view of the 16th century castle under a beautiful blue sky.

Blackrock Castle is located on the banks of the River Lee, about 2 kilometres from the heart of Cork city. Nowadays, it houses the CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory and, in the small grounds, the Castle Café.

It is  a very popular spot for lunch. We had arrived rather early, about 12.30pm, last Wednesday, but had to wait in line for a table. After a short spell, during which we studied the menu, we were led to our table. The menus are already there as they use them as table mats, just as they do in Market Lane, a busy city centre restaurant run by the same firm (ORSO is also under the same umbrella).

The Elbow Lane Brewery, soon to come onstream if reports are correct, is also part of the group. For the moment, at least in the Castle, you can sample the craft brews of Dungarvan Brewing and Eight Degrees Brewing in bottle. On draught, they have a White Gypsy red ale and I sampled, and very much enjoyed, a glass of that (€2.30) with the meal.

Service was pretty good here, even if all tables were full. Presentation and delivery of the food was fine and what was supposed to be warm was warm and water was refilled without having to make a request.

We had two good salads as our mains. One was the Slow cooked ham with honey glaze, roast sweet potato, watercress, sundried tomatoes and grapefruit dressing (€10.95) and the other a Caesar Salad with Romaine Lettuce, classic Caesar dressing, parmesan shavings and croutons (€8.50) enhanced by the addition chicken and Bacon (€2.50).

But it was the starters that had us talking, as both were superb. Mine was the Seared Escalope of venison with leek and thyme risotto (€8.50). The strongly flavoured meat was well matched with the soft and gorgeous risotto.


Homemade crab fish fingers with lemon cucumber pickle and quince jelly (€7.95) was another gem, a well cooked main ingredient enhanced by the pickle and jelly. Big marks for each of these. Curried prawn dauphine with a seafood sauce and watercress salad was another starter I'd have liked to have tried. Next time!

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Castle Café, Blackock Castle, Cork.