Showing posts with label On the Pig's Back. Show all posts
Showing posts with label On the Pig's Back. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Taste of the Week. Choice of three

Taste of the Week. 

Choice of three.

Choose one, or all three!

I've been enjoying some superb Irish-made cheese in recent weeks. It is tough to pick one as Taste of the Week so I'll highlight all

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Where's the Beef? Ten of the best in Cork City

Where's the Beef?

Ten of the best in Cork City

(beef round-up for 2022/23)

Brown's Brasserie at BT Jan 2023 €15.50
French Dip: Rotisserie North Cork Sirloin, Emmental Cheese,
Caramelized Onion Emulsion, Red Wine Jus, ODB Sourdough

Impressive steak salad at Liberty Grill Aug 22

Cork City has had a long, and continuing, history in beef. Such was the scale of the trade here in the 18th century that it was known as the slaughterhouse of Ireland. 

And it wasn’t just Ireland. In 1756, France and Britain were at each other’s throats in the Seven Years War and “the Great Ox-slaying city of Cork” emerged as the Royal Navy’s preferred supplier for beef, pork and butter.

So where’s the beef now? Let me take you on a lunch-time tour of the city and check out what is on offer. Some terrific beef-based dishes in Liberty Grill, Market Lane, Nua Asador, Oliver Plunkett, On The Pig's Back, Sketch at The Imperial and Woodside Farm, Bella Napoli and L'Atitude 51and all were enjoyed over the past few months.

We’re starting with a beauty at Liberty Grill on Washington Street: a seared beef salad (vodka and chilli marinated fillet strips, chargrilled on leaves with balsamic onions, rustic potatoes, red peppers and toasted pecans) was outstanding, a highlight being the palate pleasing combination of the meat and balsamic onions. A terrific dish for €15.50.

Market Lane: Korean bulgogi steak sandwich
Dec 2022

Now (a different day, of course!), it is the turn of Market Lane and their superb Korean bulgogi steak sandwich on sourdough baguette, chilli, sesame and soy marinade, carrots, spring onions, lime mayo and with a helping of excellent house chips (€16.90). The marinade is key here and the kitchen certainly did it well and the meat was top quality; the sourdough was moistened as well and they all worked so well together, enhanced by the crunch of carrot strips and the onions, the salad leaves and those very tasty fries. A terrific dish and well priced.

Picanha Steak by Nua Asador May 2022

We make a visit to the Marina Market and the Nua Asador stall where Chef Victor Franca, in partnership with Tom Durcan Meats, serves up, without gas or electricity, just fire, the best of Irish beef in a Brazilian style. You’ll really enjoy the Picanha Steak with sourdough bread, grilled baby potatoes, chargrilled onions, Farofa, and Chimichurri Sauce (13.00).

Oliver Plunkett's Seared Steak Sandwich July 2022

It was a visit to the Oliver Plunkett that started me on this beef trail. Here’s why: Seared Steak Sandwich was worth every cent of the €18.95. Four generous slices of beef wrapped in Garlic Ciabatta, with a red onion and Smoky Bacon Jam, Pepper Jack Chips, Brandy Pepper Sauce and a Little Salad.

I wasn’t letting go of this, clinging on until the last bite. It was sensual, an enthralling mix of textures and flavours. The steak was ace,  cooked to perfection and so easy to slice. And then the enhancement, that garlic ciabatta, the onion and the bacon jam. The Brandy Pepper Sauce was another major player on the palate, deeply enticingly enhancing everything else. The salad too was perfect and then those Pepper Jack Chips, cheesy, tasty, delicious.

On the pig's back with Bourguignon Beef Baguette Oct 2022

Next stop is Douglas to visit On the Pig’s Back and enjoy their Bourguignon Beef Baguette: Braised Beef Brisket, Mushrooms, Bacon and Pearl Onions on Toasted Arbutus Baguette with Red Wine Jus. Just five-star lunch-ing, spot-on for the cool day, quite a warming ensemble, robed deliciously in the red wine jus. Love the French touch!

Delicious steak at Sketch Oct 2022

Here we are in Sketch, the bright and airy dining room in the lovely Imperial Hotel, a room where new executive chef Ali Honour is making her mark. There was a group of us and the Steak Sandwich (6oz Sirloin, Onions, Garlic Butter, Focaccia, Lettuce, Tomato, Fries) for  €19.00 proved very popular, ordered by three of the seven adults. The meat and the Focaccia were absolute top notch and all three were well satisfied.

Beautiful! Beef Burger by Woodside Farm Oct 2022

Alphabetically, Woodside Farm is our final destination and they are found every Thursday in Mahon Point Farmers Market (and at other markets on other days). They are perhaps best known for their magnificent free range pork but they also do a highly rated Beef Burger and serve it with relish and salad in a lovely bun, for 8 euro  (if I remember rightly). Superb meat and great value.

All their offerings are cooked and filled in front of you, and there's a chat as well, as the salads and relishes are added. And, if necessary, they even provide a tailor-made insulated envelope to take your purchases back to the office or home.

Bella Napoli Dec 2022

Bella Napoli came up Rigatoni with Ragu Napoletano with six-hour braised beef in an onion and tomato sauce served with rigatoni pasta and bruschetta (17 euro). I hit the jackpot here. This was beautifully cooked, the quality of the beef was top class and plenty of it as was also the case with the ragu. Very happy with this one.

L'Atitude pic Dec 2022

Slow-Braised Beef Cheeks, Celeriac Mash, Spiced Pickled Cranberries (a cool inclusion) was one of the highlights of a recent visit to L'Atitude, a superb dish in an impressively expanded menu and well worthy of inclusion here. More details at

* All these dishes enjoyed relatively recently but remember that menus and chefs change.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

From the Rhone and Med. Two Outstanding Reds For You. Beaujolais Soirée at On The Pig's Back.

 From the Rhone and Med. 

Two Outstanding Reds For You.

Beaujolais Soirée at On The Pig's Back.

Famille Tari IGP Méditerranée Cadet de la Bégude (IGP Méditerranée) 2020, 14% ABV 

RRP €26.99 Neighbourhood Wines; Green Man Wines; Terroirs; The Corkscrew; Pinto Wines; Myles Creek;; MacCurtain Wine Cellar, Cork

This red is a blend of three grapes associated with the Mediterranean: Grenache 35%, Mourvèdre 35%, and Cinsault 30%. It is classed as a IGP Méditerranée, a wide-ranging appellation that covers most of Provence and more. Wine Searcher tells us that this Cadet de la Begude has been ratedas one of the top 5 IGP Mediterranée wines” even though it is also regarded “like a second wine for the estate”. 

Colour is mid to dark ruby. Aromas are quite intense, darker fruit, mostly cherry. And that cherry edge continues on the palate. The balances comes from a fresh acidity and you also get fine-grained tannins, plus a spicy finish. Very Highly Recommended.

I’m not the only one happy with it. The producers are ecstatic, if the almost poetic label is anything to go by: A noble terroir and the signature of the Tart family 7th generation of winegrowers, give birth to this valiant Cadet. A selection with a fragrance of freedom, respectful of its environment, carried by the Mistral wind and the light of the Mediterranean Sea.


Domaine de la Bégude was purchased in 1996 by seventh-generation winemaker Guillaume Tari, Once a stopover for travellers seeking shelter and sustenance – ‘beguda’ means ‘drink’ or ‘the place to drink’ in Provençal – the estate was abandoned and overgrown when Guillaume discovered it. He and his wife set about replanting the old terraces and restoring the buildings. Certified organic since 2006, the vineyards are located at 400m altitude above sea level at the highest point in the Bandol.

Guillaume’s focus now is on producing wines that truly reflect their origins. All the grapes are harvested manually, sorted twice, destemmed and fermented with natural yeasts. The Cadet rouge and rosé are an equal blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache and Cinsault and are produced from the youngest vines at the estate, which have an average age of 10 years. As the vines are not old enough, the range is classified as IGP Méditerranée instead of Bandol AOC.


Top Wines 2022. With Reviews & Irish Stockists. 


Maison Les Alexandrins Crozes-Hermitage Rouge (AOC) 2020, 13% ABV
RRP €34.99 Michael's Mount Merrion, Pinto Wines, McHugh’s Off Licence - Malahide Road,

“Of all the wines produced in France, none offer more excitingly spicy flavours than those of the Rhone Valley.”*

And that is where our wine comes from. Colour of this 100% Shiraz is a deep purple with a sustained bright hue. It is fragrant with ripe cherry, small red fruit and spicy of course! On the palate it is well-structured, juicy, intensely fruity, spicy also, and fresh, with a wonderful balance, finishing long with velvety tannins. Very Highly Recommended.

The fruit for the Domaine Les Alexandrins wines comes entirely from estate-owned vineyards in Saint Joseph and Crozes-Hermitage. The Crozes-Hermitage Rouge is aged in large 55 – 80 hectolitre wooden vats for 10 months, followed by six months in stainless steel, softening the tannins and maintaining freshness.

The label indicates that the soil here - pebbles* and clay - has been made for Syrah. "Aged in wood for 12 months, our Crozes-Hermitage can be enjoyed young but will also age wonderfully.”

Crozes-Hermitage is the largest of the Northern Rhône appellations, about ten times larger than the neighbouring Hermitage, whose famous hill spreads out behind the town of Tain l'Hermitage 

Both wines are produced from Syrah and, while there are many similarities between the adjacent appellations, Hermitage scores where it counts even if you have to be patient with it as it “needs to be laid down for five, ten, even twenty years to fully open up”. Only some vintages of Croze can be laid down for long periods.  

The writer Alexandre Dumas is the famous patron of Hermitage while the best Croze-Hermitage can come up with is a bandit called Mandrin. I suspect that many of you, like myself, are glad that the less expensive Croze-Hermitage usually represents much better value. After all, some of its best vineyards are situated just behind that famous hill. You don’t have to be a bandit to enjoy.

And speaking of taking things for free….

Pebbles, brought in by the river from Switzerland in the quad-centenary period, is a bit of a misnomer here as the generally flat stones are quite large. Winemakers have to keep an eye on them: “People steal them to finish a calade (stone path) or build a pool wall. They are stealing our terroir!” More here


* from French Wines by Robert Joseph.


Best Value Wines 2022. With Reviews & Irish Stockists. 


Sunday, October 23, 2022

On The Pig's Back Menu Sings The Season’s Songs. A mellow melody for misty days ahead.

On The Pig's Back New Menu 

Sings The Season’s Songs.

A mellow melody for misty days ahead.

There is a new menu at On The Pigs Back in Douglas, gorgeous and extensive, plates over-brimming with something delicious for everyone, based on the best of local produce from the bounty of the current season, with a French influence, naturellement, and expertly curated by head chef Paul Siglar and his team and no shortage of expertise either in the cooking and presentation.

Just reading its two pages is a tonic for the appetite. But why walk when you can fly! Tempted by the long list of delightful dishes, I certainly “flew" down to the venue and may well have caught the new menu, with its marvellous melange of meats, breads, vegetables, fish, cheese, and eggs of course, on its debut day. It won’t be my last visit for this menu!

As they say themselves: "As the seasons change so does our menu, ensuring we use the best in season produce while staying exciting to our customers.” Variety is the spice of life and no shortage here.

Took us a while to make a decision! Just so many choices. On the meat side, you may well go for Jack McCarthy's Free-Range Ham Sandwich with Bandon Vale Cheddar Cheese, Green Leaves, Pickled Cucumber, Tomato & Onion with a Red Pepper Relish on Arbutus Sour Dough served

with house salads.


Dining out in Ireland? Cork in particular? Check out our up to date reviews hereRestaurants, cafés, and trucks included.


Cheese? How about the Irish and French Cheese & Charcuterie Board with Apple and Carrot Chutney, Crackers and Fresh Bread. Prefer fish? Then the Smoked Salmon and Prawn Salad with Mixed Leaves, Maryrose Sauce, Pickled Red Onions, Brown Bread Croutons may be the one for you.

Treat the Vegetable lover in you to the Hot Braised Lentil and Rainbow Beetroot over Mixed Leaves, Red Onions, Toasted Hazelnuts and Maple Vinaigrette. And you can hardly get more seasonal than the Pumpkin Spiced Butternut Squash, Poached Pears, Watercress and Spinach Salad with Mulled Wine Dressing. How about those eggs? The Welsh Rarebit on Arbutus Beer Bread with an Arugula and Boiled Egg Salad is just one example

There’s bread everywhere: sourdough, baguettes, brioche, and more. Most irresistible though is the Arbutus Brioche French Toast Whipped Chantilly Cream and Blackberry Compote. There’s tea and coffee and soft drinks, of course, all served with a chat and a smile

I had read the menu online and had narrowed my choices down to two by the time I sat down and then made my mind up to go for the Bourguignon Beef Baguette: Braised Beef Brisket, Mushrooms, Bacon and Pearl Onions on Toasted Arbutus Baguette with Red Wine Jus. Just five-star lunch-ing, spot-on for the cool day, quite a warming ensemble robed deliciously in the red wine jus.

I devoured the Croque Madame back in May and it is obviously so popular it continues now and for a long time to come, we hope! This time CL enjoyed it. It comes in Arbutus Toasted Brioche with Free-Range Glazed Ham, Emmental cheese & Mornay Sauce topped with a Fried Free-Range Egg. Again, every little bit on that beguiling plate pulling its weight, the quality of the ingredients shining through, nothing there just for decoration (though of course, presentation is neat and tidy).

So that was it. We had been thinking a pastry for dessert but decided to leave well enough alone and it was two very happy customers that headed off for the hills, promising ourselves we’d be back again, so much more to enjoy!

On the Pig's Back in Douglas have both a café and deli.
Situated in Douglas Woollen Mills with free parking for up to two hours.

More details here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Taste of the Week. Killeen Cheese

Taste of the Week

Killeen Cows Milk Cheese

Taste of the Week

October 2022 has been quite a good one for cheesemaker Marion Roeleveld and her team at Killeen Farmhouse Cheese in County Galway. On the 5th, at the British & Irish Cheese Awards 2022 in Bath, their cows milk cheese (Kilmora) was named as the Best Irish Cheese. 

Marion even scored a double at Bath as their goats cheese (mature) won the Best Goats Cheese Special Award. Killeen (indeed best known for their goats milk cheeses) are of course quite used to winning awards and have a long list to their credit.

The Swiss-style cows milk cheese, which is produced at Portumna, took the trophy after more than 500 cheeses were judged in a single day at The Bath & West Showground on Wednesday 5 October, as the awards returned following a two-year hiatus. It took a 50-strong judging panel two rounds before the country winners were decided. Killeen have their own goats and they get cows milk from a neighbouring farmer. 

I got email confirmation of the results the following day and that very morning, by coincidence, I had bought a wedge of their cows cheese from the Gubbeen stall at the Mahon Point Farmers Market and, after sampling a sliver or two, decided without hesitation that this would be our Taste of the Week. And so it is! 

It is an Emmental type hard cheese. It is clean, nutty, savoury with a gentle tang, deliciously creamy and well worth seeking out at Mahon Point and also at On the Pig's Back. More info on stockists and the cheeses here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Taste of the Week. Dromana Cheese

Taste of the Week

Dromana Cheese 

I recently bought two sheep milk cheeses at On the Pig's Back in the English Market. One, a hard cheese from Cratloe Hills in Clare, I knew well. The other, Dromana, I didn't know well at all and it was only later when reading the small print that I realised is is produced by the outstanding Knockalara Farmhouse near Cappoquin. I know it very well now as it is our Taste of the Week.

The small pack contains the soft cheese, sunflower oil, fine herbs, and salt. You need nothing else really. Young and delicate, it is delicious but may be enhanced by adding a tomato or two. These are in season now and we have three plants in the back which are producing a handful each day (ideal for us). These fresh beauties go ever so well with the cheese and are themselves enhanced by the oil and herbs. Just some local serendipity! Enjoy.

Not too sure if these sheep, photographed on The Vee, are Tipp or Waterford!

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Taste of the Week. Boyne Valley Bán.

Taste of the Week. 

Boyne Valley Bán (Tomme Style) Cheese

These little holes are also seen in the French Tomme

Tomme? You may well ask. Tomme is an old French name for cheese and you'll find lots of it in Eastern France in hilly and mountainy areas. It has a mild creamy flavour that is pleasant and lasts in the mouth. 

When we, and the kids, used to visit France on holidays, Tomme (usually de Savoie) was always on the shopping list. We liked it and importantly so too did the kids. The Lost Valley Dairy and Creamery near Inchigheela make a semi hard cheese in a Tomme style and it is excellent. Theirs and all the French ones that we ate are made from cow milk.

When I spotted this Boyne Valley Tomme on sale in On The Pig's Back in the English Market, I had no hesitation in buying a wedge. Then when we unwrapped it at home, we realised that it was a paler colour than the French and soon found the reason: it is produced from goats milk. 

Boyne Valley are well known for their goats cheese, including their Blue. Five years ago, they developed this white goats cheese similar in style to the French Tomme cheese. There are very few cheesemakers producing goats tomme cheese on a commercial scale in Ireland and this Bán proved a perfect fit for the market.

We could taste why. It may not have the depth of colour and may lack some of the nuttiness of the Savoie cheese of the French or Macroom versions, but is has the smooth supple texture and enough of its own very pleasant flavour indeed to make it immediately wake up those taste buds, enough to make it our Taste of the Week.

Michael and Jenny Finegan run the 400-goat enterprise together. "We believe the lush grasses of the Boyne Valley produce a unique taste in our ‘Boyne Valley’ goats cheese. The lack of Irish produced Blue Goats Cheese lead to the creation of Boyne Valley Blue and soon after our award winning Bán was also produced here on the farm."

They didn't have to wait for my endorsement. In 2018 Boyne Valley Bán won gold and ‘Best Irish Cheese’ in the British Cheese Awards, received 3 stars and was nominated for a ‘Golden Fork’ award in the Great Taste Awards,  In a relatively short space of time Boyne Valley Bán has grown and has now outstripped Boyne Valley Blue in sales.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Taste of the Week. Jack McCarthy's Ham and Outregious Lettuce

Taste of the Week

Jack McCarthy's Ham and Outregious Lettuce 

We doubled up for this Taste of the Week. Well more than just two elements, but Jack McCarthy's cooked ham via On the Pig's Back in Neighbourfood and the well named Outregious Lettuce from Brown Envelope Seeds (via the Roof Top Farm Shop) were the stars on the plate.

Jack's ham is free range. The Kanturk butcher then delivers to On the Pig's Back in Douglas and there it is "cooked in our kitchen with onions, peppers, cloves and bay and finished off with a honey and whole-grain Dijon mustard". It is a lovely ham and can be enjoyed on its own.

Jack's Ham!

But we made up a salad with various leaves from the garden, tomatoes and hard-boiled eggs. One of the lettuces was the Outregious, described by Brown Envelope as "an upright salad variety which forms a loose head. An outrage of red in the salad bed". And very nice on the plate and palate as well. It certainly grew well for us.

Lots of variety in our Taste of the Week!

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Taste of the Week. Ardsallagh Goat's Cheese - Phantom Pyramid

Taste of the Week.

Ardsallagh Goat's Cheese - Phantom Pyramid

The Ardsallagh Goats Cheese Phantom Pyramid, inspired by the French 'Pyramide de Pouligny', is made with Pasteurised Milk in East Cork.  It is a most delicious semi-soft cheese with an irresistible creamy texture inside and lightly ash-ed on the outside which develops a white bloomy rind. It is our Taste of the Week, bought from On The Pigs Back via Neighbourfood.

It is very versatile indeed, so you won't have to confine yourself to the usual beetroot combinations but don't neglect them either as the two are a classic combination and available in many restaurants. You could, for a change, try an Oven Roasted Beetroot Salad with Candied Walnuts, and Rocket leaves with this cheese.

It can be the main piece of many a salad and you'll see it served with thinly sliced pears. We tried it with those very pleasing Medjool dates (chopped) and it worked a treat, especially with Marques De Poley Oloroso Montilla-Moriles (O'Briens Wine).

Here's another simple one: the cheese, tomatoes thinly sliced, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle this, or indeed similar salads, with the Big Red Kitchen's Spiced Plum & Port Jam (I got mine from Roughty Fruity in English Market but it is widely available).

And another: the cheese, chopped Medjools, some sliced grapes, and add as much as you like of the Ballymaloe Cranberry and Mór Wild Berry Gin Sauce. Delicious, especially so with a glass of Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2021 (at O'Briens Wine).

Monday, January 3, 2022

Festival Food & Drink Favourites 2021. Eight Degrees and Bakestone in Happy Holiday Pairing

Festival Food & Drink Favourites 2021

Eight Degrees and Bakestone in Happy Holiday Pairing

What were your food and drink favourites over the Christmas and New Year?

I’d say one of mine came at the end of the Christmas Day Dinner when we matched the Bakestone Pudding with a shared can of Eight Degrees Irish Oak-aged Barleywine. At 12.2% abv, this is a heavy hitter and needs respect. Pour a little into a wine glass and sip and enjoy. It went perfectly with the pudding from East Cork (you’ll find Bakestone at Cobh Cross - they’ve been there for years and, as well as a popular café, have a magnificent pantry of top notch Irish produce).

And so it was appropriate that it was two locally made products that topped our Christmas bill!

The Eight Degrees’ aromatic and multi-flavoured seasonal special was aged in especially rare Irish whiskey barrels that have been made from native Irish oak. Not alone did it pair with the rich and dark pudding but it also went well with the light and delicious Christmas cake from Barnabrow House (bought at Roughty Foodie) and also with the cheese course, notably with the Crozier Blue (via On The Pig’s Back).

Bubbles are usually associated with the festivities at this time of year and I was lucky to have a couple of delicious bottles of Prosecco on hand, each by Bottega. The Gold Prosecco Brut impressed for sure but it was the Bottega Rose Gold that really caught my attention. It is a terrific Spumante Brut rose, made from Pinot Noir grapes grown throughout the Veneto.

The hand painted bottles are not only eye-catching but "reflect the quality and care put into producing this wine”. Bottega do not use chemical-based products for their metallised bottles; this means the solvent for the varnish is water-based, instead of being oil or alcohol-based like more traditional varnishes.

It wasn’t just Prosecco of course. There was wine. We won’t go into too much detail just to say that we had an impressive pair via Liberty Wine for dinner on the big day. From South Africa came the Western Cape Momento, the country’s only Grenache Gris. And we made it a lovely Grenache double with the red, a Willunga 100 from the McLaren Vale in Australia.

You always need something extra to bring the best out of all the good stuff on the table at Christmas and two jars in particular were in regular use here. One was the Big Red Kitchen’s Spiced Plum and Port Jam and the other was the seasonal Ballymaloe Foods Cranberry and Mór Wild Berry Gin Sauce.

The Spiced Plum and Port Jam is very versatile, a match with paté, cheese and duck and we find it  outstanding with Skeaghanore smoked duck breast and gives the Skeaghanore Confit Leg sweet hint of Asia. This year it also impressed with the Bakestone pudding. Nicola of the Red Kitchen combines ripe plums with a hint of warming cinnamon and port in this excellent seasonal preserve which is also wonderful with scones and bread. It won’t go to waste around here.

And neither did the Ballymaloe Foods Cranberry and Mór Wild Berry Gin Sauce. It certainly did what it says on the jar and enhanced the turkey (and the other meats) no end and also impressed when used with the cheese board. This blend of cranberries and the Irish gin proved indispensable over the week.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Cork Christmas without a helping of spiced beef on the table. No shortage here thankfully and, supplied (like the turkey and ham) by local craft butcher Chris Davidson, it was once again a highlight. Turkey and ham was pretty good too!

Another highlight was our order from Ummera Smokehouse in Timoleague, a box packed with chicken, duck, salmon (two ways), even rashers, all smoked and all delicious as always. Good use was made of this package over the holidays. Nothing like a bit of variety over the hols.

We did indeed use the Ummera smoked chicken on New Year’s Eve and later there were more holiday bubbles. It was now the turn of a super Beaumont des Crayères Vintage 2013 Fleur Blanche Blanc de Blancs Brut (via O’Briens Wines) to shine. Intense and exciting from the engaging first sip, with fountains of micro-bubbles powering upwards, with biscuity aromas and flavours and floral notes too, this is one of the better ones for sure. It is made from 100% Chardonnay and obviously 2013 was a very good year.

Let us hope that 2022 will also be a good one. Happy New Year to you all and fingers crossed that it will be better for all of us.