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Ali and Patrick are just over 12 months into their adventure at Cinnamon Cottage and the hard-working pair are doing just that, working hard. Much done, more to do, but you can see the difference. The deli has been expanded and the wine selection has been doubled.
And still the work goes on. Fun too. They’re enjoying the run-in to Halloween and you (and the kids, of course!) are invited to the Rochestown cottage for face-painting and balloon animals on the Saturday. And don't forget to get the brack, complete with all the bits and pieces, including that all important ring.
Ali and Patrick
After that it’s Christmas. More work, more fun. And speaking of Christmas, you can already buy your cake. If you don't want a big one, you can get a small one. A slice will suit some people fine and Ali and Patrick do that too. Lots of cakes here, most available by the slice, including the very popular Coconut and Raspberry cake and old favourites like the Victoria Sandwich! And Chocoholics will be in their element!
And they do salads to beat the band, eight to ten freshly made each day, all seasonal. At the moment, look out for the Roast Pumpkin and Butternut Squash with feta and chilli. And then there’s the winter coleslaw.
On every cabinet, every shelf, there’s something delicious including a few surprises, jams and chutneys and porridge oats. And they have a selection of excellent cheeses, most of it coming via Sheridan’s. Six months back they started doing Kiddies Meals, with no added sugar, no added salt. Choose from a Mild Chicken Curry, Mac n Cheese, Cottage Pie.
You’ll see lots of local produce, beef from O’Connell’s, chicken from Sheehan’s, puddings and sausages and more from Kanturk’s Jack McCarthy, free range eggs and chickens from East Ferry, Shell fish from Dingle, Basil Pesto and Ravioli from Glanmire, popular stone-baked pizza bases made in Ireland by Pizza da Piero, Amodeo dressing from Tuscany Bistro in Limerick, Shine’s Wild Irish Tuna, Green Saffron spices, and the new Irish Tonic Water from Poacher’s in Co.Wexford! And that’s just a handful of what’s available in this treasure trove.
And they bake. Not just cakes but breads and buns. Check out those scones and croissants. In the deli counter, you’ll see artichokes, sun dried tomatoes etc. There’s readymade meals, fresh and frozen, including warming soups, chicken and beef dishes and more, and handy side dishes such as Wholegrain Mash with Gruyere cheese!
You’ll need a good wine to wash down all that food. And again, no shortage here. The Cottage have three main suppliers and that adds up to a big selection, including quite a few organic bottles, getting more and more popular, according to Patrick. I spotted a few favourites: the Pedra da Auga Albarino, the Walnut Blocks and the Gran Martinez Rioja Crianza.
There is so much more in this lovely place, including Badger & Dodo Coffee; I’ve just barely scratched the surface here. It must be the most productive cottage in Ireland. Well done to Ali and Patrick and their staff on a great 12 months. There are eight regularly employed and, on busy days, that can rise to 15, most of them local.
Our three featured bottles come from neighbouring counties: Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford, the three sisters.
Highbank Orchards Organic Kilkenny Apple Vodka, 40%, €30.50 (35cl)
If you’re used to vodka with little more than 40% abv going for it, you’re going to be surprised by this with its aromas and flavours of the autumnal orchard, an organic one at that.
The base spirit is made from their own apples and the vodka itself “lends a wonderful apple flavor to cocktails”. Use this in cocktails instead of your regular vodka and wait for the accolades.
This is 100% organic, single estate (grown, distilled and bottled at Highbank) and, yes, it is normal strength at 40%. Haven't got to the cocktail stage yet - waiting for a recipe specific to the product! - but I certainly enjoyed mixing it with Poacher’s Tonic, an excellent new Irish product.
The Highbank vodka comes in two sizes: 35cl at €30.50 and 50cl at €55.00.
In quite a short time, Peter Mulryan Blackwater Gin No. 5 has become one of the most popular of the small batch gins now available in ireland. This London Dry Gin is not the only one that Blackwater produce and their latest, a strawberry one, was launched at the recent Wexford Food Festival.
Twelve botanicals are used in the process, including Coriander which goes “citrus-y” in the mix. Considering that citrus (dried skins) and bitter orange (also dried skins) are also used you could see why he advised against using a lemon in your gin. Lime would be a better choice. Juniper (the oil is extracted and used) is perhaps the best known element, having been traditionally used to make gin, and indeed provides the dominant flavour.
The No. 5 quickly gained loyal fans and Peter, from Conna in East Cork, was on his way. The gin is crisp and elegant with great flavour. They say “ it’s year round summer in a glass” and “liquid sunshine for the soul”. Add in quinine (via your tonic) and you have a most pleasant way of taking your medicine. Well the G & T was one method the British used to counter malaria!
Now that we’ve highlighted two brilliant Irish spirits (from two producers who have even more on their lists), we’d better guide you in the direction of a good tonic. And just in time, comes this excellent Poacher’s from County Wexford. It is based on a “rich spring water: that has “been pilfered and poached since 1825”.
Taste it on its own and you'll immediately see the concentrated quality. Put it up against a 39 cent can, Freeway Indian Tonic Water from Lidl, and you’ll know why you will pay more for Poacher’s which is in a different class entirely.
Mixing cheaper tonic with premium products is a waste of time, a waste of good Irish gin and vodka and a waste of money. I mixed myself two gins, one of each. As an amateur it took me a while to spot the difference but you certainly notice it on the finish. With Poacher's, the finish (when you swallow) lingers and lingers but the other one kills it there and then. The longer the flavour lasts is a sign of quality in both food and drink. Much longer, much better with Poacher’s. Go for it!
The full list of ingredients for Poacher’s is: Carbonated irish spring water, sugar beets, Irish rosemary, Florida orange, natural flavours and natural quinine.
The full list of ingredients for Freeway is: Carbonated water, sugar. Acid: Citric Acid; Natural Flavouring, Flavouring (Quinine).