Showing posts with label Skeaghanore. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Skeaghanore. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Gallagher's GastroPub Rocks


Gallaghers GastroPub Rocks

Funny how things work out. Didn’t intend to spend all of last Sunday night in the company of old rockers. But that’s what happened. Can’t really take full credit for it but it turned out to be a terrific night with a super meal in Gallagher’s GastroPub and a lively charity concert in the Everyman with Dezperado (an Eagles tribute band).

The first plan had been to call to the White Rabbit at the exact opposite end of MacCurtain Street to Gallagher’s and try something from the grill there along with a glass or two from their renowned Bourbon selection. But a block-booking at the Rabbit snared that one and so we, four of us, ended up in Gallagher’s, taking in the view (and the sun) from our window seat that also allowed a view across towards Shandon.

The reservation here had been online, made with D***a, and she was back confirming it within a few minutes. And that kind of customer service continued in the bar/restaurant when we met and chatted with R****n. Service with a smile is always a big help.


I did have a quick look at the menu online before I booked and had a good feeling. Choices looked tempting. Starters included Burnt Maple and Cider Glazed Baby vegetables, Ras el Hanout Cauliflower Purée and Dukkah and also Skeaghanore Duck Leg Confit, rolled in Parma ham, corn and thyme purée, Kale red cabbage slaw and spiced plum gel.

There are impressive sharing boards, a choice of meats and a also a choice of fish. Other mains include a Crispy pan-roasted kale and leek “Bubble and squeak” Jerusalem artichoke velouté, roasted artichoke, charred apple, Cashel Blue crumble and truffle oil. Being Sunday, you might go for their signature pie: Irish Beef and Cork’s local stout “Beamish” with root veg, topped with puff pastry and served with fries.

All very tempting but our two friends had a few tips for us. Firstly, the fish and chips is excellent and secondly be sure and study the Cork on a Fork Special. So we read that board: Hazelnut crumbed duck leg, asparagus, candied beetroot, charred baby gem, celeriac purée and duck fat potatoes (21 euro).

Three of us went for that and it was superb, not just the delicious duck but also the asparagus, the beetroot and the gem, not to mention those spuds! Gastropub is no empty title in this establishment. The fourth diner was following his Fish ’n Chips tip come what may and he too enjoyed a very satisfying mains. Described as locally sourced catch of the day (Haddock in this instance) in a Franciscan Well Chieftain IPA beer batter, fries, mushy peas and tartar sauce (18 euro).

Speaking of Franciscan Well, we enjoyed a few glasses of the Rebel Red and it was four very happy customers who said goodbye to Rock heroes Rory Gallagher (his portrait looked down on our table) and Phil Lynott (you’ll see him on your way downstairs to the toilets), and headed down the street to see the sold out Dezperado gig in aid of MS Ireland.

Veteran musicians from the Cork area formed the band - not all veterans by the way, young guitarist Sean Hegarty (playing with his dad Ray) showed enormous promise.  Lead vocalist Der O’Riordan and also Ken Healy belted out the well-known classics of the American band. Backing vocals were provided by Anita Curtin and Neasa de Baróid.

Earlier, Neasa and her band opened the evening and included her new single Rain due to be launched upstairs in the Spailpín Fánach on Friday evening (9.30 sharp). Neasa, a relation of CL's, is quite the composer and other songs enjoyed by Sunday’s audience included Mrs Murphy’s Moving On and Tabhair dom do Lamh.

Perhaps you’ve known before now that McCurtain Street, with its hotels and theatre, its classy restaurants, its world class cocktails and buzzing bars, its ethnic cafés, and its  burger & down-home BBQ joints, really rocks. Now you know for sure. Don’t know if I’ll ever need to walk southwards over Patrick's Bridge again!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Celtic Ross. Dinner Supreme in Kingfisher Brasserie


Celtic Ross. Dinner Supreme in Kingfisher Brasserie
Terrine
Spring roll
Had heard lots of good things about the Kingfisher Brasserie in the very popular Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery. And it was with great anticipation that we studied the menu, instantly encouraged by the stated commitment to local producers. 

Local drinks too and we sipped our Sherkin Lass Ale by the West Cork Brewery as we we went through our dining options. Earlier we had sampled two of the area’s spirits, whiskey from the West Cork Distillery in Skibbereen and gin from Beara.

So how could I not pick something from Rosscarbery for my meal? And I did, starting with a superb Ham Hock and Rosscarbery Black Pudding terrine (€8.50), with Jerusalem artichoke and shiitake piccalilli, wild garlic pesto, artichoke crisps. Superb. We shared. 

And we also shared the other opener, the Skeaghanore Duck Spring Roll (€8.95) Confit duck, carrot and apricot chutney, blue cheese, ruby red sauerkraut, cos lettuce. Thumbs up from each side of the table for the work of the kitchen under Shane Deane (Head Chef) and Alex Petit (Executive Chef) in this family owned hotel.

Chicken
Time now for the mains, chicken supreme. But not just any chicken supreme. Their Shannonvale Chicken Supreme Zaatar (€20.50) with Aniseed carrots, chickpea, harissa and golden raisin stew, minted chimichurri will have your taste buds dancing to a different beat. Supreme indeed!

The Irish Trout Fillet (€20.50) Crushed sweet potatoes, quinoa, sunflower seed and orange granola, wild garlic pesto, again illustrated that expertise and the little things (the quinoa, the seeds, the granola, the pesto) can make a delightful difference.

Sat back then for a wee spell and relaxed in our comfortable seats and after a chat with our friendly and informative server, decided to share the final round. The Citrus Plate (Yuzu curd, physalis drizzle cake, lemon sorbet, mint crème fraiche, lemon tuile) was tempting as was the West Cork Cheese plate (a collection of the classics) but the one we picked and enjoyed was the Medovik Cake Honey sponge, sour cream, caramelised walnuts, chocolate tuile.

Second drink!
All this in the split level brasserie, part of the adjoining eating areas here. You also have the option of choosing from the Kingfisher Bistro menu which includes starters such as Woodcock Smokery Smoked Haddock Tartare and mains like Seared Union Hall Brill. So no shortage of choice, no shortage of quality either.

Having finished the Medovik Cake, we stepped through the open door to the bar which was also busy and we took our ease as a trio of young fellows played some traditional music and one of them seemed set to crack the timbers with a dazzling display of Irish dancing. A relaxing end for us to an evening in Rosscarbery that had begun with a walk across the causeway and then down towards Warren Strand, watching the estuary birds eagerly feeding as we strolled. 

Rosscarbery
Co. Cork
Tel +353 (0)23 88 48722

Also on this 24-hour trip:
A day out with West Cork Farm Tours
Super Food at Ardfield's Mountain Bar

Monday, February 11, 2019

Barnabrow and Chef Bowes Rise to the Occasion. Again!


Barnabrow and Chef Bowes Rise to the Occasion. Again!
Skeaghanore Duck

The Gourmet Evening at Barnabrow House is becoming quite an occasion in East Cork and once again Geraldine Kidd’s charming venue and the skills of Chef Stuart Bowes combined to give us an evening to remember. 

Donie O’Brien of ENO had a selection of wines to be proud of and very enjoyable they were. And the occasion was further enhanced by music from the violin duo of Áine O’Halloran and Teresa Foley (known as Violini).

We began with a Cava and Canapé reception. As the glasses sparkled and the music played, there was time for a chat before entering the dining room proper. Quite a few of you will know this room as it is here they hold their well-known wedding meals. With its pointed gothic windows and high vaulted ceiling, it has a church like interior though the seating is more comfortable!

Cahermore Pork
More organic Cava at the table as the amazing Bouillabaisse was served. We had to do a bit ourselves as the Hegarty’s cheese came in little shreds on a side plate. Just added those to the soup and the magic happened as they complemented one another superbly, not to mention that rouille and the chefs top notch sourdough.

The Ballotine was just superb, again that match with the fig and the cinnamon spiced bread so really spot on. And the young slightly oaked Rioja was an easy drinking accompaniment. That high standard continued through the remaining courses. And again it was often the “little things” that enhanced the dish, like the Golden Raisin and Wild Garlic cream with the superb Duck Breast, even the tasty base on which the petit fours were served. 

Stuart Bowes had flagged that duck in his wee speech to the guests, proud to use produce such as Caherbeg and Skeaghanore, insisting on the importance of “local” and “using what’s on your doorstep”. “We are excited to do this, this quiet time of the year.”

Geraldine Kidd, now in her 23rd year here, is obviously proud of Stuart’s contribution over the past seven years and has battled to hold on to him against quite a few “poachers”! She was thrilled that word of these occasional gourmet evenings has spread beyond the Cork borders as she welcomed guests from Dublin and Clare.

Donie O’Brien and his ENO wines are regulars here and he was very proud of the organic Cava by Pares Balta that we started with. He loves Baron de Ley too, the producer of the Rioja. “They don’t buy in grapes, use all their own, a guarantee of quality”.
Turbot

I must say that the Pouilly Fumé was gorgeous. Richly flavoured with tropical fruit and with a “concentrated minerality”. This was followed by another beauty, the Ribera del Duero, another organic wine. “It is 100% Tempranillo, 8 months in new oak, vanilla..aromatic, clean and fresh and will be great with the duck!” And so it was.

Violini stayed with us for the evening. They are classically trained and stylistically versatile. “We play movie soundtracks, pop and rock songs, big band jazz, latin, blues, and the best loved Classical music.”  If you want music for events in hotels, manors, castles, concert halls, or for special occasions big and small, contact them out at violinicork.ie@gmail.com, also at 087 779 5031.

Dessert

The Menu and Wines
Bouillabaisse with Hegarty’s Cheddar, Rouille, Country Sourdough.
Cava Pares Balta organic

Ballotine of Caherbeg Free Range Ham Hock and chicken, fig, watercress, Pain D’Epices
Baron de Ley Club Privado Rioja 2016

Irish Atlantic Turbot, Pearl Barley, Gremolata, Pickled Ballyhoura Mushrooms, Chicken Essence
Chatelain Pouilly Fumé Abbaye St Laurent 2016

Roast Skeaghanore Duck Breast, Polenta, Savoy Parcel with Confit leg, Golden Raisins & Wild Garlic Cream
Camino Romano Ribera del Duero Pares Balta Organic

Iced Nougat Parfait, Apricots, Rhubarb, Archers
Chateau Caillou Sauternes 2007.

Maher’s Coffee, Barry’s Tea, Petit Fours.

Head Chef: Stuart Bowes, Sous Chef: Adrian Kaszynski.
Wines: Donie O’Brien ENO.

If you missed out on the Gourmet Evening, you can still try Stuart’s cooking and the marvellous produce (both from his producers and the Barnabrow walled garden) during Sunday lunch at Barnabrow. See the menu here
Sweet dreams
Morning walk

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Taste of the Week. Big Red Kitchen’s Spiced Plum & Port Jam


Taste of the Week
Big Red Kitchen’s Spiced Plum & Port Jam

“We combine ripe plums with a hint of warming cinnamon and port in this wonderful seasonal preserve. Wonderful on bread and scones, but why not try serving it with pate or cheese?”

A big thanks to Margo Ann of the Roughty Foodie in the English Market for introducing me to this lovely jam. We had been thinking of trying it with seasonal items, such as the Christmas pudding but that wasn’t really an item!

In the meantime, Nicola (from Big Red Kitchen) had tweeted that it was a match with paté, cheese and duck. Plenty of opportunities over the Christmas to try it, although funnily enough no paté (though there is a small tin of Ostrich hanging around). Excellent with most cheeses, though I preferred a sweeter preserve (such as Fig Jam) with the blue cheeses.

But the outstanding match came when we had it with Skeaghanore Smoked Duck. Their richly flavoured smoked duck breast is a favourite here, even more so now that we have this delicious Big Red Kitchen jam - our Taste of the Week - to go with it. I’ll be in for more, Margo!

Tel: 01-6978092 
Mob: 086-1508462 
Email: nicola@bigredkitchen.ie 
Address: Simonstown Lane, Navan, Co. Meath, Ireland 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Bayview's Feast of Fish. Flavour and Fun, thanks to Ciaran & Team


Bayview's Feast of Fish
Flavour and Fun, thanks to Ciaran & Team
Seafood Cocktail

Stephen Belton, GM of the Garryvoe Hotel, welcomed the guests to host venue the Bayview (where he is also GM), for the first big event of Feast 2018. Speaking of Bayview Chef Ciaran Scully, Stephen said he’s never met anyone with “such a passion for food”. And a mischievous sense of humour too as you can see by the second dish being called My Ding A Ling. “Enjoy the flavours and the fun,” Stephen concluded.

Kevin Ahern of Sage was introduced as the driving force behind Feast but he quickly countered that he wasn't the only person pushing the expanded and expanding festival. “We are proud of Midleton’s past festivals but now we want to drive it forward. We see East Cork as a food destination, both nationally and internationally. We want to create revenue in the area, not in just one town. We are very happy with it so far, so many nights booked out already.”
Ciaran's Ding A Ling

The wines for the evening were provided by James Nicholson Wine and their man on the
spot was Richard Reeve. “The wines chosen are a little left field, not the obvious ones (not even a Sauvignon Blanc!)”.  The pairings were excellent and we got more info on the individual bottles as the evening went on.

The first offering from the kitchen was a rather spectacular Seafood Cocktail (Ballycotton Brown Shrimp, smoked eel, herring, trout caviar, confit of tomato, pickled apple, Bloody Mary Jelly, Samphire, Sea purslane, Fried sea lettuce). Lots of flavours and textures there. And the wine chosen, was the Bodegas Coloma Pinot Noir Rosé from Extremadura in Spain. This early release wine has quite a bit of heft compared to the normal rosé and was certainly a winner with the mix in cocktail. A terrific opening all round.
Mackerel

The high standard would be maintained. Next up was My Ding A Ling (torched Ling with Salt Baked Celeriac, Little gem, Hazelnut & Gubbeen Pesto, Smoked Skeaghanore Duck-breast).  A superb combination with that celeriac playing a key role. And the wine here, the vibrant South African Boekenhoutskloof Wolftrap white, was terrific and again a great match, with its fantastic aromas and flavours.

Holy Mackerel was the title of Ciaran’s next offering. Basically it was all about the humble fish, the flavour packed pan-fried fillet enhanced by a Roast Miso Aubergine, Pickled mushrooms, peanut powder, Nasturtium, rice crackers. A good fresh wine to cut the oily fish was required here and Richard had just the job in the Umani Ronchi Vellodoro Terre di Chieti Pecorino. An intense aromatic wine with clear mineral notes, fresh with ripe fruits, it matched the mackerel well.

Fish and Chips

Now it was time for the Fish & Chips. The Bayview’s version: Deep fried monkfish, octopus, pea, lemon and potato purée, fried capers, oyster mayonnaise, Jerusalem artichoke chips. Another amazing effort from the kitchen. Richard didn’t have a Sauvignon Blanc but he did have a Chardonnay. The Domaine Bellevue from the Touraine, Loire Valley, was unoaked with excellent depth of fruit and that with its northern freshness gave the wine a lovely mouthfeel, another excellent match.

Time now for the sweet finalé. The Chocolate Trinket Box contained Jameson and Burnt Orange Chocolate Mousse with a Beamish Stout Ice Cream, rich and delicious. The dessert wine came from the Quady Winery in California, the Essensia Orange Muscat 2014.

A superb night of fish and wine again at the Bayview. Great how Ciaran chooses these events to highlight the super qualities of fish that we don't always rate in Ireland, such as the Ling and the Mackerel in this case.

Still lots to do in Feast. Check the remaining events here

Monday, July 23, 2018

Cliff House Hotel. New Menu. Bar above. Sea below.

Cliff House Hotel. New Menu.
Bar above. Sea below.
Salmon

Some people wanted a table in the sun. Some preferred to be in the shade. And a few stayed indoors. We were on the terrace at The Bar in the Cliff House on one of the sunniest days of this sunny summer. Earlier we had been walking on the Waterford Greenway and so we two settled for a place in the semi-shade to try out the new bar menu at this superbly situated hotel.
Looking out to sea

A glass of Rebel Red and lots of water helped cool things down as we studied that inviting menu, divided into sections: From the Garden, From the Land, From the Sea, Irish beef from McGrath’s and Sheelin,  Small Bites and Snacks, Sides, and Desserts. And also a Dish of the Day. This superb well-priced menu is served 12 noon to 4.00pm and 6.00pm to 9.00pm.

Service, we noticed, is rather leisurely here. In any case, it is the kind of spot you come to slow down, take in the fantastic views out to the ocean and back towards the curve of Ardmore beach. A “school” of young wanna-be sailors gather below at the base of the cliff and add a riot of colour. Who’s in a rush?
Asparagus
Spring rolls

So, eager to try out as much as possible, we pick and choose from under the various headings. My Green Asparagus Peperonata, Burrata, Almonds (9.75) comes from the Garden, maybe the Garden of Eden it is so tempting, so delicious.

Oysters, Iberico Ham and Organic Olives come under the Small Bites and Snacks section. So the Official Blog Chef (OBC) gets a surprise when she sees no less than three Skeaghanore Duck Spring Rolls (7.50) arrive. And they are packed with that renowned duck meat, rich and satisfying. She feels the energy lost on the Greenway flowing back!
Below the bar's terrace

A bit of a gap between round one and two. But the second phase is just as impressive. My pick, From the Sea, is the Organic Irish Smoked Salmon (12.50 small & 21.50) Mi-Cuit, Buttermilk, Dill Oil, Radish. I take the starter portion. The quantity is enough and the quality is off the charts. Just superb and the buttermilk, dill oil and radish make a great match with the warm flaky flavoursome fish.
Terrine

View from Table 40
Table number on the stone!


And it’s thumbs up at the other side of the table also as OBC tucks into the well presented (they are all well presented) Guinea Fowl Terrine Pickled Vegetables, Brioche, Parsley, Mayonnaise (9.50) that comes out of the Land section.

The Lemon and Cream pot with Blackwater Gin was calling me from the dessert menu but, having enjoyed a hearty breakfast earlier in the Granville in Waterford, we had had enough and so reluctantly bade goodbye to the lovely crew at The Bar. 

With so much much delicious food on that menu, we promised ourselves a return visit! After all, the hotel is just 53 minutes from the eastern side of Cork City (and Google Maps often over-estimate). No excuse.

Also on this trip:
The Candied Hazelnut
Everett's New Waterford Restaurant

Sunday, May 13, 2018

12 Tables & Tandem Winery. In vino veritas.


12 Tables & Tandem Winery
In vino veritas.

José María Fraile



In vino veritas. And truth to tell, there was good wine, good food and good company as some fifty diners enjoyed the Tandem Winery Tasting Dinner at the 12 Tables in Douglas last Wednesday. 
The welcome drink



The truth of another Latin saying, Dove regna il vino non regna il silenzio (Where wine reigns, silence does not) was also well illustrated on the night. 

But, what’s with all the Latin boy?

It is a theme at the Navarra based winery. Tandem itself is Latin for “finally” and nothing to do with bikes while the names of the individual wines are in Latin (or derived from it): Casual, Inmacula, Ars In Vitro, Ars Nova, Macula, Ars Memoria, and Inmune.




Tandem is of much more recent vintage than the ancient Latin tongue, founded in 2003 by by Alicia Eyaralar, José María Fraile and a small group of wine-loving relatives and friends. José was in the 12 Tables having left Pamplona at 5.00am that morning on a route that brought him to Cork via Madrid and London.

He was introduced by Nicolas Sicot of O’Brien’s Wines who import the Tandem wines. “I love organising these events, love to share the wines. It's great to meet the people behind the label and delighted to have José here. Dave Farrell has worked wonders and has come up with a great menu to go with the wines.”

José admitted to being delighted with the full house. “It is incredible. I hope you enjoy the dinner and the Navarra wine. I feel very humbled and proud; it would be hard to match this crowd in Spain!”
Duck

The vineyard is quite close to Pamplona and on the northern edge of the Navarra wine region. “We like freshness and elegance and luckily we’re in the coolest part of the appellation. It is super green where we are, a big contrast with the desert in the south. The Atlantic influence, the cool summer nights and picking late in the season is good for the grapes and we get that natural acidity.” We would soon see how that acidity helped with the food pairings.

Their rosé, or at least the very first version of it, was more or less an accident and hence the name Casual. A very enjoyable accident though, as we appreciated on arrival.

The kitchen, with chef-patron Dave Farrell at the head, produced an excellent starter: Serrano wrapped Monkfish, spiced crevettes, roast pepper purée, pistachios pickled samphire and Parmesan cream. And the wine was the Immacula (meaning without blemish), a blend of mostly Viognier and 15% Viura. It is fermented in French oak (not new) and kept on its fine lees for three months to gain texture and volume. “It is very successful for us and highly rated and there is nothing of it left at the winery.” We were on a winner.

Immune was the next wine, a 100% Garnacha paired with Gubbeen Chorizo, Ardsallagh Feta, Olive Tapenade, Romesco, Physalis and Avocado Oil. “Immune, to failure, to critics!”, joked José. “This is a powerful expression of the Garnacha (the vines are 70 years old and more); great depth and structure, a stunning wine that fills the palate.” He, and we, were enjoying the meal: “Amazing dishes.”

Up next was Jack McCarthy’s black pudding rosti, caramelised Radicchio, golden beets, wild mushroom, Crozier blue cheese and aged balsamic. Quite a lot going on in that plate and José had a favourite wine to match, the Ars in Vitro (art in glass), an unfiltered, unoaked wine with fruit and fragrance and a silky palate, raised for a minimum of two years. “How wine for me should taste,” remarked Jose. 

This 2014 has been raised in concrete. “Nowadays, concrete is accepted, the epoxy lining has made the difference, more complexity, more tannins, more colour, finesse and elegance.” It is a blend of Tempranillo and Merlot.




The wines and the food reached a high point with the main course. Jose introduced his Ars Nova, a 2014 blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, fresh, fruity and long. Ageing is a minimum 24 months in concrete vats plus 9 months in 300-litre French oak barrels. “More complex, more spice and great with lamb.”

Great too with duck as it turned out as the kitchen pulled out all the stops with Tea Brined Skeaghanore Duck breast, Almond and Apricot roulade, potato confit, charred onion, baby carrots and roast shallot purée. Quite a climax.

We eased out with a Trio of Artisanal Cheese with Fig Jam. The cheeses were Roquefort, Milleens and Tipperary Cheddar and the wine was Mácula, described as “a masculine wine of good length” and a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from 2011. Tandem are slow to let their wines off to market. This, for instance, spends a minimum 24 months in concrete and 26 months in 300-litre French oak barrels.

José was delighted with the reception for his wines. “It has been an incredible dinner, fantastic being here. I'm so happy.” Nicolas thanked the kitchen and front of house at 12 Tables saying “We’ll do it again!”, a sentiment that went down well. In vino veritas.

You may view a video of José talking about Tandem and its wines here
Check the Tandem wines in stock at O’Brien’s website or just call in to Nico at their Douglas branch!
All the news, including menus, from 12 Tables in Douglas is here; also on their Facebook page.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Taste of West Cork Guide. Kate Brings It All Together

A Taste of West Cork Guide

Kate Brings It All Together
Ross with Sally Barnes
In West Cork, there are scores of good food producers, one down every lane, up every boreen. But which road, which village? Where do you find them when you want them? The answer is now quite simple: buy a copy of the Artisan Food Guide, just published by A Taste of West Cork Food Festival. 

The 80-page guide, edited by Kate Ryan, was launched by Michelin chef Ross Lewis (Chapter One) in Vertigo, the top floor of the County Hall, last week. Ross said good cooking begins with good shopping and this guide will help you do some great shopping.

And indeed, guests arriving in Vertigo were able to sample some of the produce from the likes of Ummera, Rosscarberry Recipes, Durrus Cheese, Hungry Crow Chocolates, Sally Barnes (Woodcock Smokery), Glenilen, Skeaghanore, Gubbeen, West Cork Pies, and West Cork Olives.

Helen Collins, chairperson of the A Taste of West Cork Festival for the past four years, welcomed the guests and other speakers. She extended a big thanks you to Tim Lucey, Chief Executive Cork County Council for his unwavering support, to outgoing Mayor of Cork County Seamus McGrath, another great supporter.

And, of course, she had a huge welcome for Ross Lewis, the chef who grew up in the area around the County Hall itself. Ross has dined in some of the world's finest restaurants but that doesn't stop him from enjoying the best of local (he had earlier lunched on lamb stew and floury potatoes in The Farmgate). He repeated his high regard for artisan producers - they are not in for the money - and that regard is well documented in his book "Chapter One- An Irish Food Story”.

Helen told us that the guide author Kate Ryan is Bristol born but has been living in Clonakilty for the past ten years. She is well known on the food scene through her blog flavour.ie, through her Clonakilty Walking Food Tour  (Failte Ireland approved, by the way!) and her willingness to get involved in local endeavours.

Clockwise from top left: Mayor Seamus McGrath, Helen Collins,
Ross Lewis and Tim Lucey

Another Ummera product
The book could easily have been just a list of the producers but is much more than that. West Cork is a big place so Kate decided to use some natural divisions, eg The Beara Peninsula, as chapter headings. So yes, of course, the producers are listed with some detail (including contacts and if visits are possible). Listed also are specialist food shops and local farmers markets. And, importantly, from a tourist point of view, she suggests itineraries to follow.

Let us illustrate her “scheme” by using the Clonakilty section as an example. So, you're an English or French foodie and newly arrived. Where to start? Spend a fiver on this book and you’ll see Clonakilty and its neighbours Timoleague, Dunworley and Rosscarberry.
Hungry Crow Chocolates, the bigger ones have dates and figs inside!

There are no less than 21 local food producers here including well known ones such as Ummera and Rosscarberry Recipes, lesser known such as Clonakilty Homemade Ice-cream and Devoy’s Organic Farm.

You can read which places are open to visitors and plan your own food journey. Or perhaps you’d like to rely on Kate's suggestions which starts with Ummera in Timoleague and ends with Bushy’s Strawberries in Rosscarberry. In between, you’ll visit The Baking Emporium, Camus Farm and Clonakilty Chocolate and more, maybe even a tour with Kate herself. After all that, you may well make Dunworley Cottage your overnight stay. And that's just one section!

The book will be an ideal "guide" to the Festival itself which takes place this year from 8th-17th September, with over 180 culinary and adventure events taking place across the region’s 33 towns and villages and 9 islands.  Visitors will find a foodie’s paradise, with several national and international chefs preparing culinary-themed feasts in local restaurants, food tastings al fresco, foraging walks, open-air markets, seminars, cook-offs, masterclasses and intimate evenings with local artisan food producers imparting their culinary wisdom.

As I said, West Cork is a large area, so much to see and do, so much good stuff to eat and drink!



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Superb Lakeside Dinner at Carrig House


Superb Lakeside Restaurant at Carrig House

Amuse Bouche
 If, as is said, location is everything, the Lakeside Restaurant at Carrig House near Killorglin, has it made. But, in a restaurant, food is all important and here too Lakeside is in a good place. Add location and that good food (not forgetting the impeccable service) and what more does a diner need. Good wine? You can count on that too. All organised by Frank and Mary who have been owners of this 1850’s house since 1996.


So book early (the restaurant is open to residents and non residents) and get one of those window tables, though you will be able to see the lovely Caragh Lake (it has its bad moods too) from most tables. 

Other nearby rooms are in play too as you begin your trip to the table. If it is cold or even cold-ish, an open fire is blazing as you sip an aperitif and study the menu in one of the ante-rooms. Here too, you’ll enjoy an amuse bouche and soon you are relaxed, ready to take the few steps to the dining room.

The long list of starters will almost certainly include their famous chowder and their Glenbeigh Shellfish Tasting. On our first visit (May 2017), I picked that Shell Fish combo: Steamed Cromane mussels, sage, cider, clotted cream, cockles tempura, Napa cabbage kimchi; shucked oyster, Prosecco granita. Well that fresh and chilly oyster was the star of the plate, no doubt, but the other, more humble shellfish, went down very well too. 

Meanwhile, CL was being royally entertained by her duo of Prawns: Poached prawn, watermelon, avocado purée, lime sorbet; crispy potato wrapped tiger prawn, physalis, and chilli relish. That lime sorbet was a terrific accompaniment and the crispy potato wrap another highlight.

She loves her rabbit and so once the Rabbit Loin with smoked bacon popped up, it was a cert for her. And a winner too, served with wilted spinach, Puck Fair Ale infused pear pearls (try saying that in a hurry after a few bottles of the local brew!),  Jerusalem artichoke, and bee pollen.
Rabbit

And I rarely skip a chance to indulge myself in Skeaghanore duck and this was another beauty. The full description: Skeaghanore Duck Breast, juniper spiced, blood orange, baby carrot, carrot and orange purée, meringue, lovage jus. 

And the wine? They have  quite a choice. And that’s before dipping into the Reserved Selection. Frank was host, a superb one I will add, and he helped us pick the Esk Valley Pinot Noir from New Zealand, one of quite a few wines from both old and new world vineyards, and a good one too.

The piano player wasn't on that particular evening but no need for music to put us in the mood for dessert. I spotted warm roast figs in one description and surrendered to the Warm Creamy Rice Pudding, a delicious and rich delight topped by those figs and served with a Port reduction and kataifi crisps.

The other dessert at the table was the Rhubarb Crumble Tartlet, spiced rhubarb jam, and frozen yoghurt, quite a combination and one that kept CL happy.

And the evening ended with another bonus, there being no need to go out at all. Just a stroll to one of the nearby lounges and a seat in the heat. Very Highly Recommended overall, not just the lazy luxurious finalé.