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

Monday, October 11, 2021

Time Now For Blasket Islands Lamb. At Market Lane, ORSO, Castle Cafe and Elbow Lane.

Time Now For Blasket Islands Lamb

At Market Lane, ORSO, Castle Cafe and Elbow Lane.

Chops and Feta

For the month of October, or as long as stocks last, you can taste one of the country’s most sought after products in the Market Lane Group of Restaurants, scattered across Cork City. Executive chef Stephen Kehoe has created a dozen or so dishes that highlight the amazing quality of Blasket Islands lamb, “arguably the most delicious lamb in the country”. 

Sausage Board, Lamb nearest you
Market Lane annually get a small share of the lamb which is raised on Beginish, one of the Blaskets. There the lambs, which are born in the summer, graze in a marshy meadow full of heather, grasslands and wild herbs, which gives the meat a unique depth of flavour. The meadow is salty from sea spray, and this gives the lamb its highly valued pré-salé flavour.

Delighted to get an invite to Elbow Lane last week to sample the lamb. Lots of other dishes, all very tempting, especially some of the fish ones, but I stuck to the brief, hardly a hardship with that lovely lamb coming in different guises. Actually if you wish to try out a variety of lamb dishes, Elbow Lane and ORSO are the places to go.

Soon, we were seated in the busy restaurant with its bright colour theme. They do of course have a wine list but for me the excellent beers from the on-site micro brewery are always an irresistible attraction. We settled, happy to do so, on the continental style Elbow Lane Lager and the Wisdom Lane (an amber ale that is very versatile at the table).

Lamb neck crostini
The menu here is divided into snacks, starters and mains, sides too of course. On the snacks we spotted the Pulled Blasket lamb neck crostini, grilled peach hot sauce. Just terrific, enhanced by the moderately spicy sauce.

Not mentioned on the night’s menu itself but we were told at the table that the lamb also featured in a starter called the Smokehouse sausage board, house pickles & chutneys. Quite a dish this one, both in terms of quality and quantity. It consisted of three plump sausages. Firstly, I tasted the Lamb (with fennel on the side); the smoothest of the three and packed with flavour. The Duck, with its accompaniments of two different chutneys, was another beauty. And the more rustic Pork sausage with sauerkraut - an excellent combination of taste and texture, perhaps my favourite - completed the hat trick.

Colours of Elbow Lane

Now, for the main event. The Slow-grilled Blasket Lamb chops, ember cooked courgette, pistachio mole, feta, tender and tasty, gave us perhaps the best flavour of the lamb. I’m told the lambs are smaller this year but I reckon the flavour is even better. Beside, the combination with the feta was just spot-on.

Very happy with the meal overall. And here is one reason why. The lamb is leaner, “creating a near-perfect fat to meat ratio” says award-winning Dingle Butcher, Jerry Kennedy, who looks after the lamb when it comes off the island.  “This is the perfect example of produce that is not only free-range, but contains no additives, colourants or preservatives and is vaccination free.” 


Blasket Islands Lamb on Market Lane Group menus (subject to change)

Lamb Shank: Braised Moroccan Blasket Island lamb shank on a bed of turmeric, feta and pomegranate giant couscous served with lamb reduction and pistachio.(ORSO)

Lamb Shoulder: Braised Lamb shoulder served glazed in pomegranate molasses lamb jus, with warm baba ganoush and ribbons of carrot and cucumber in caraway pickle.(ORSO)

Lamb Mince: Batersh - Aromatic ground lamb served on a bed of hot baba ganoush with a side of home-made flatbreads to dib.(ORSO)

Lamb Shank: Lamb Lavaş- Six hour braised lamb shank, pulled, served on in-house flatbreads, with a mango and coriander mambo.(ORSO)

Slow roasted lamb saddle, confit baby potato, lardon, in-house smoked parsnip puree, lamb treacle jus and tender stem broccoli (Market Lane)

Slow cooked lamb rump, fondant potatoes, sunflower seed romanesco, crookneck pumpkin. (Castle)

The busy grill at Elbow

Pulled Blasket lamb neck crostini, grilled peach hot sauce. (Elbow)

Monkfish, lamb pastrami, tomato and horseradish salsa,

mussel emulsion (Elbow)

Smokehouse sausage board, house pickles & chutneys (Elbow)

Slow grilled Blasket lamb chops, ember cooked courgette,

pistachio mole, feta (Elbow)

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Taste of the Week. Treble by Hederman, ORSO and Riceflour GF Bakery.

Taste of the Week.

Treble by Hederman, ORSO and Riceflour GF Bakery

I've regularly thought I could get a delicious 3-course dinner from the big box that arrives when Neighbourfood delivers here. Made a deliberate attempt as I ordered it this week and hit the jackpot, on the treble.

Starter was Portuguese Fritters by Frank Hederman, mains a Chicken Borek Pie from ORSO, while the dessert was a well-named Sweet Tooth Meringue Cake by Riceflour.

Hederman's Portuguese Fritters with Hot Smoked Salmon and Tartar sauce. Frank himself calls them "dreamy light pillows of hot smoked salmon, potato, parsley, garlic and smoked chillies, bound with beaten egg and rolled in Panko bread crumbs". And they are a delicious dream and, something else, that tartar sauce is also a champion. 

But don't take my word for it. Here's what Michelin Chef Miyazaki wrote on Twitter on Thursday (yesterday): “Fritters are amazing, very tasty!! Tartar sauce is nice with it also .. fritters texture reminds me of when my mother used to make crab cream croquettes when I was child. Amazing”.

We shared the four that came in the packet as a starter with a salad, the leaves from Purple Squirrel Farm. They may also be used as a main course. Lots of suggestions for using this and other Hederman products on their website. Colm O'Gorman is a regular contributor to Hederman and he created these beauties.

We were in for another very pleasant surprise with our main course: ORSO Chicken Borek Pie. Borek is a family of baked filled pastries made of a thin flaky dough such as phyllo or yufka, typically filled with meat. It is a Turkish word and the pie or versions of it are found in many neighbouring countries.

Our filling was Chicken, Apricot, Sage, Onion, Barley, Nutmeg, Sesame, Oregano, Sumac, Salt and Chilli. It turned out to be a very harmonious combination, with the chicken and apricot the leading duo. Again, you could try one of these and divide between two for a very tasty lunch! The picture above has a complete pie on the bottom with an open half of another on top.

And the pleasant surprises continued with the dessert: the Sweet Tooth Meringue Cake by Riceflour. Layers of luscious sweetness, yum from top to bottom, from first to last.

And, another surprise, at least for me! Riceflour, a gluten free bakery, is run by Spanish sisters Silvia and Olga, who you may remember from farmers markets and food festivals of a few years back. I often wondered had they returned to Spain but here they are now and I'm sure  your sweet-tooth will join with mine in welcoming this lively duo back to the food stage.

Think I'll let them have the last word on our dessert: "Sweet Tooth treat is a stunning creation which boasts decadent swathes of a whipped consistency of meringue with numerous layers of our crisp puffy pastry in the outside. Available in individual portions or as a full cake for any occasion." See their other products here.


Thursday, April 15, 2021

The versatility of Shines Tuna. And do watch out for that Yellow Fin Belly

The versatility of Shines Tuna

And do watch out for that Yellow Fin Tuna Belly

Shines Yellow Fin Tuna with Macroom Buffalo Mozzarella.

I never really thought of the can of tuna in the cupboard as anything other than a handy standby. But all that changed over the past month or so. Beginning when a box of cans that I had ordered from Shines of Killybegs arrived at the house, six cans and two jars!

How could that all be used without us getting fed up of the fish? We did a little bit of research and found recipes in unexpected places. Firstly, Shines themselves have quite a few on their website and it was there that we started.

Shines Wild Irish Tuna

We picked one by Ciara Shine. Her “Speedy Salad” was described as “a nice fresh dish, easy to prepare. Looks and tastes amazing!” And it lived up to its billing. You can see the recipe here.There are a quite a few items on the list of ingredients but you can pick and choose. Basically you need Shines Wild Irish Tuna (we used the jar) and salad leaves. We added olives and semi-sundried tomatoes and also some of the ORSO Pickled Red Onion (which didn’t make the photo). We were off to a great start.

Another look at the Shine page led to us following, approximately, John Shine’s own contribution: Tuna Mediterranean Wrap. Again, some substitutions were made and our “mix” consisted mainly of Shines Chilli Tuna, lettuce leaves, tomatoes, peppers. Easy to do and worked out well and met John’s description: “Healthy and tasty. Perfect lunchtime treat.”

So what next? Well, the answer was in the post. I had recently ordered The Anti-Cancer Cookbook (an excellent cookbook with all the royalties going to cancer research). A quick flick through on arrival and, without specifically looking for tuna recipes, two turned up. We picked the Tuna and Sweetcorn Fritters, something different, something quite tasty. We added a nice salad to the tuna (Shines Irish Tuna from a can this time) and sweetcorn with a Spicy Ketch-up (by Tipp’s 3 Men in a Trailer). And this surprise recipe turned out very well indeed!

I had read somewhere about tuna being used with Mozzarella and that became our focus for our next dish, another easy one. Yellowfin Tuna belly in olive oil was the chosen can this time - John Shine is very enthusiastic about this particular Tuna, with very good reason as this particular fish is so exquisite you could eat it straight out of the can. A quick trip to the local Dunnes Stores saw us get the Macroom Mozzarella from Johnny Lynch’s farm.

Tuna Fritters

We didn’t need much more, some large tomatoes and basil for the cheese, and a bunch of cherry tomatoes for the salad. It looked nice and tasted even better. Thanks to an internet event, I had just received received the marvellous prize winning Rós Cider (Apple and Rhubarb) from local producer Stonewell. And Rós got on so well with the tuna and the cheese you’d have sworn they were made for each other. 

We still have a few cans of Shines fish left (sardines certainly) but I doubt that we’ll top the Tuna belly, the Mozzarella and the Rós cider combination! Might well do it again soon as there’s still another bottle of that delicious Rós hanging around here.. I think!

On a separate note, did you know the Irish fishermen catch plenty of top quality sardines each November /December ? Very soon you will be able to buy Irish sardines from Shines. Interested businesses are invited to call John Shine anytime on 0868164106 for further info on this new product.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Taste of the Week. The Big Cork Salad with Jack McCarthy, ORSO, Olives West Cork, Purple Squirrel, On the Pig's Back, Neighbourfood.

Taste of the Week. 

The Big Cork Salad.

Salad with Jack McCarthy, ORSO, Olives West Cork, Purple Squirrel, On the Pig's Back, Neighbourfood.

How many hands does it take to make a lively tasty salad at the start of spring. Quite a few as it turned out last weekend. But it turned out very well indeed. Quite a Taste of the Week!

The leaves, a lovely mix, came from Purple Squirrel Farm. There was Sweet Pickled Onion from ORSO, adding a delicious kick. From Olives West Cork came Freshly Marinated Koroneiki Olives (big plump and superb) and Semi Sundried Tomatoes (big juicy Sicilians that had to be cut down to size with a scissors). 

The main star of the dish was Jack McCarthy's Pastrami (left), all the way from Kanturk, and supplied to Neighbourfood via On the Pig's Back. Indeed all the ingredients came via Neighbourfood, illustrating once again how this organisation is helping small producers and at the same time giving customers the chance to taste the very best around.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Keep Going Cork. Competition! CLOSED!!!!

Keep Going Cork 

Competition! CLOSED!!!!

Correct Answer: Goldie's

And the winner is: 

crazy_chemist_coffee via Instagram

Back in the early stages of Covid, back when we thought it would last a couple of months rather than a couple of years, the Market Lane group commissioned the Keep Going Cork logo. They displayed it on the windows of their restaurants around the city and it became very popular and the group allowed other businesses use it as well.

Covid hasn't gone away and neither has Market Lane. Conrad Howard has just been in touch: "We are going to sell tote bags in January and February with the #keepgoingcork message on them. €6 per pop from the front door with all profits going to SVP." A lovely thought from Conrad and his team, all for a great cause.

He has sent on a couple of the bags and you can win them through this competition (Closing Date 9.00am 12th Jan 2021 and open to Republic of Ireland addresses only ). Just answer the following question:

Q. Name the Market Lane group restaurant that specialises in fish.

Send you answer, name and contact details, to 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

It’s Blasket Lamb Time at Market Lane Group.

It’s Blasket Lamb Time at Market Lane Group.
Uan Blasta at ORSO, Castle Cafe and Elbow Lane
Lamb Shank

It’s that time of year again. The Market Lane’s precious quota of delicious Blasket Lamb has arrived in Cork and the chefs at ORSO, Elbow Lane, Castle Café and the parent restaurant itself are trying to outdo each other with tasty expressions. Every bit of the lamb will be used and there’ll be quite a variety of offerings to choose from.

Diners can look forward to dishes such as ‘Spicy Lamb Sausage, grated tomato, red onion, parsley pine nuts, mint, and sumac served with flatbread, ‘Slow Roasted Lamb Neck Shawarma with tahini, green peppercorn and pickled squash, ‘Braised lamb breast with black garlic mash, wild mushroom and Tawny cider jus’, and ‘Loin of lamb with pancetta and potato terrine, aubergine puree, winter vegetables and a lamb jus’.

When I got the call to try out the dishes at Elbow Lane, there was no hesitation. We got in early on Friday evening last and enjoyed two fabulous courses from their famous grill and some of their own superb beers as well.
Lamb Cutlet

Not too many restaurants use kidneys nowadays, maybe the customers are reluctant. But we had no hesitation when our fantastic server detailed this starter dish for us: Blasket Lamb Kidneys, with Quince, Rhubarb and Kombucha glaze and sautéed Chard.

Kidneys with Chard
Quite a hat trick on the plate. The glaze was unreal, the green Chard provided an extra texture (and flavour of course) and the interaction with the kidneys rounded the potentially robust and rustic dish into a very sophisticated mouthful indeed. Quite a few mouthfuls actually!

The sauce in the next dish, a preserved lemon and marjoram beurre blanc, was another standout. You could have either Lamb Leg (no bone) or Lamb Chops. Both had the same sauce and also a crunchily delicious caper roast cauliflower. 

So one of us  had the Chops, the other the Leg, and there was a bit of swapping going on. If it had been a contest, I think I’d have given the chops, with their amazing fat enhanced flavour (or was it the Angel Lane stout factor), the edge. Must admit I know little about the grill here but it sure delivers fantastic flavours.

Elbow Lane Smokehouse and Brewery, as you may know, is not the biggest, but the crew here make the very best of it, whether it’s the chef is his very confined quarter or the front of house people explaining the various dishes, helped diners make their own choices, in the narrow dimly-lit space,  and it all runs very smoothly indeed. Quite an enjoyable customer experience and highly recommended, especially for couples and foursomes.

Just a bit of background on the Blasket Lamb….

The habitat on the islands is what makes this product so special. The animals mostly graze on the small island of Beginish, a natural bird sanctuary, which makes the soil incredibly fertile.  There, the animals graze at leisure in a marshy meadow full of heather, grasslands and wild herbs.  They have even been known to nibble on the seaweed which washes up on the natural beaches that provide access to the island.  The grass is salty from sea spray and this gives the lamb its highly valued flavour.
Donnacha (farmer) and Jerry (butcher) inspect the sheep as they arrive on the mainland.
As the animals are free to roam uninterrupted, there is no forced ‘fattening’.  This means that the lamb is leaner, ‘creating a near-perfect fat to meat ratio’ says award-winning Dingle Butcher, Jerry Kennedy.  “Fortunately, there is no liver fluke on the islands, so the lamb is not treated for anything other than worms.” 

Conrad Howard, head of the Market Lane Group, who has been supporting Blasket Island lamb for many years now says “We are delighted as a group to highlight this very special produce.  The impeccable provenance of this lamb is reflected in its superb quality and flavour. We are also very proud to be the only restaurants to serve it to our customers. Our chefs begin creating their dishes in August in the anticipation and hope that the lamb will arrive.”

Tuesday, September 10, 2019


press release
Dee (left) and Tracey


Pictured are ORSO managers-owners, Dee Munnelly and Tracey Corbett, who revealed their new interior makeover and evening food and drink menus, all sourced locally, aimed at the growing nightlife market in Cork city centre. The Market Lane Group which includes iconic Cork restaurants Market Lane, Elbow Lane Smokehouse & Brewery and Castle Café Blackrock, also announced that its spend on local producers has exceeded €500,000 since Jan 1st, this year.

ORSO, Cork city’s tiny Levantine restaurant is famous for its delicious, fresh, flavour-forward dishes inspired by the cuisines of Eastern Mediterranean countries and islands. Following a colourful interior makeover at its Pembroke St location for its 7th Birthday this month, and the introduction of new evening food and drinks menus, owners and managers Dee Munnelly and Tracey Corbett have created an exciting, night-time experience full of rich, exotic tastes and flavours for new and existing customers.

Says Dee Munnelly “We wanted to offer something different with a great atmosphere and fantastic food to open up the night-time at ORSO. We are delighted that many of our regulars are now making ORSO a starting point for their evenings out. We are so lucky to be part of such a vibrant and diverse neighbourhood, a microcosm of independent retail, that has so much to offer locals and visitors alike. This also goes hand in hand in collaborating with local suppliers and small local producers where possible“

One of the best-loved breakfast and lunchtime spots in the city, the new evening menus build on ORSO’S culinary roots. It has a new Mezze section with lots of sharing plates such as ‘whole roasted Harissa prawns with confit of garlic’, ‘Sfeehas - Moroccan spiced beef in pastry with fennel cream’ and ‘Batersh - roasted aubergine, crispy lamb served with flatbread’.

Bigger plates offer dishes such as ‘Clay baked seafood, chermoula and garlic crust’ and Beef fillet skewers with tahini, fried sumac onions and dried limes’. Desserts include a ‘to die for’ homemade Pomegranate and pistachio ice cream sandwich with lime curd and a delightful chocolate board.

New to the drink’s menu is a range of traditional Turkish Sharbats; fresh home-made cordials served with sparkling water and dressed with fresh herbs (to which alcohol can be added). The wine list has some new organic and sustainable choices. Beer is exclusively from ORSO’s sister establishment, Elbow Lane Brewery.

The restaurant fully caters for vegans and vegetarians and many dishes are gluten-free. Menus are created with the season in mind in the restaurant’s kitchen, where spices are blended, fresh bread is baked daily and food is prepared. For further details about the restaurant’s local sourcing policies please visit ORSO is located at 8 Pembroke Street, Cork city centre.

Evening opening times are Tuesday – Saturday inclusive. Dishes can also be ordered online

Sunday, June 9, 2019

ORSO Breakfast Brightens Dull Morning

ORSO Breakfast Brightens Dull Morning
Poached Eggs on Sweet Potato and Courgette Cakes with Roast Pepper Relish

It’s a duller than dishwater June morning as we turn into Pembroke Street in a wet Cork City centre. But light is at hand. The bright breakfast menu in ORSO will cheer us up. 

The happy feeling begins with a warm greeting and generous mugs of hot tea, and spreads as we study the new breakfast line-up, packed full of colour, texture and flavour. It promises much and that promise is more than delivered over the next thirty minutes or so.

There are eleven choices (no sign of a Full Irish) on the new menu, under three headings: Hot Stuff, Healthy Kick and On Toast. Healthy includes Poached Eggs on Brown Soda Bread with mixed leaves and also Egg White, Spinach and Spring onion Omelette with Jalapeno, Tomato and Coriander. On Toast offers Baked Halloumi, Beetroot Spread and Zhoug though you may prefer the Scrambled Egg, Spinach, Pesto, Crumbled Feta, both are served on Toasted home-baked Focaccia. And you may order extra sides like crispy bacon, hummus, avocado and more.

CL spotted her pick in the Healthy Kick selection, though I always thought her kick was healthy enough! That could earn me another one. In any event, she was delighted with her Poached Eggs on Sweet Potato and Courgette Cakes with Roast Pepper Relish (7.80). It looks good in the photo and was superb, really perfect.

Since I first saw the menu published a week or two back, I had my mind set on a particular dish (and never quite made it as far as the Healthy Kick). Must say that I was tempted by the Manoushi of freshly baked flatbread, black pudding, caramelised onion, egg, harissa and cheese. But the Shakshuka with baked eggs, harissa, beans, spicy chorizo and crisp bread (9.00), was my target and it hit the bullseye with that delicious moderately spicy combination, warming and filling and very highly recommended.

The small restaurant, part of the Market Lane group in the city, fully caters for vegans and vegetarians and many dishes are gluten-free.  Menus are created with the season in mind in the kitchen, where all of the spices are blended, and where fresh bread is baked daily and the food prepared.

ORSO and the Market Lane group in general support local producers and you can see a full list of their suppliers here. While you’re on the site, you can also browse the various menus. And, if you are busy at work and can’t get in to eat, you are welcome to phone in your take-out order to 021 243 8000.

8 Pembroke Street
021 243 8000

Mon­day 8:30am – 5pm; Tues­day to Thurs­day
8:30am – 10pm; Fri­day & Sat­ur­day 8:30am – 10:30pm; Sun­days in Decem­ber 4:00pm – 10:00pm; All other Sun­days: Closed.

Monday, January 14, 2019

ORSO: Making a difference. Superb new 3-course menu for €19.00

ORSO: Making a difference.
Superb new 3-course menu for €19.00

For the past six years, tiny ORSO has been making its own distinctive mark, serving fresh and vibrant flavours, in the heart of Cork City. This is Irish food but influenced by the Mediterranean, including the Maghreb and the Levant, and places further east. The Pembroke Street venue may be small but there’s a big variety here and now it's well illustrated in a delicious new 3-course menu for just nineteen euro!

This Prix Fixe menu is available between 5.00 and 7.00pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. And this is not just a January offer. It trialled in December, is now formalised and manager Dee Munnelly and her enthusiastic kitchen team hope it goes on and on. And the reaction so far indicates that it will.

We were there last week to try it out and can honestly give it a very enthusiastic thumbs up as we enjoyed every bite from start to finish and a bottle of their own (ORSO are part of the Market Lane group) Elbow Lane Jawbone Pale Ale. The drinks - wines, beers and cocktails available - are not of course included in the fixed price!

They have four starters on offer including a Chicken Manti with Tomato Ragu and Toasted Seeds and also a Courgette Carpaccio with Parmesan, and sumac and saffron oil.

But it was the Seared Watermelon that caught CL’s eye. It was a great choice, a lovely tasty and warm dish, the slices of warm melon served with Goats Cheese, Gremolata and pomegranate. Gremolata? It is a chopped herb condiment usually made of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley.

Meanwhile, I was just as enthusiastic with my Sardine Bruschetta. The little silver sardine was delicious and indeed the warmed bread itself, soaked with oil and covered with tomato and onion, would have made a fine starter on its own. We were up and running and looking for more.

And that didn’t take long. Service is excellent here, friendly, helpful. Again you’ll have a choice of four mains. On the night, our quartet included a Lemon and Oregano Lamb shoulder, Feta and fennel and also a tempting Red Rice Black Bean falafel, harissa and pickled veg.

I picked the Crumbed Hake, served on spiced lentils with a poached egg on top. What a bowlful! No shortage of quantity here. And certainly no shortage of quality either. A magnificent palate-pleasing mix of textures and flavours, great for a winter’s evening.

Chocolate Pot
And it was much the same result at the other side of the table where the Chicken Harissa Tagine went down a treat. Tasty stuff all round. And we also had a side plate with red cabbage, couscous and a cooling raita. 

Just two desserts but again two gems. I’ve never had Baklava like the fabulous ORSO version, a proper and very appropriate dessert considering the orientation of the cuisine here. And the other dessert, the Chilli Chocolate Pot, was also rich and delicious. 

Nothing but good things to say about this Prix Fixe. So, happy out, as we say around here! 

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!

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.

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.