Showing posts with label Skelligs Chocolate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Skelligs Chocolate. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

A Right Royal Progress Through The Kingdom 2023

 A Right Royal Progress Through The Kingdom 2023

Doorway to the Kingdom South-West Coast. Waterville April 2023

Getting to Kerry a lot this year and the latest trip began on April 25th with the destination being the area from Waterville to Valentia Island.

First stop was for a lunchtime snack at the newish Luna Wine Bar in Killarney, quite close to where the jarveys gather to pick up their fares. Luna is a high-quality deli serving coffee, pastries, sandwiches, salads with a natural wine offering.


Saw their sandwiches on Facebook and they caught my eye. The offering on the day’s menu was:

• chargrilled chicken thighs, smoked harissa mayo, black olive + lemon tapenade, pink pickled onions, mixed leaves

• panko crumbed tofu, katsu mayo, carrot + cabbage slaw, coriander

  • hot smoked @gubbeen ham, smoked cheese, wild garlic pesto + horseradish mayo, mixed leaves

You can always rely on Gubbeen so that was my pick, quite a hearty one. Some interesting drinks there, including Kombucha (from Galway), their own sparkling rhubarb lemonade “back by popular demand for the season”, but my pick was the excellent Attyflin Apple Juice.

McCarthy Mor Tower House, Ballinskelligs Beach

Charged by that, we motored on and headed for Ballinskelligs with the intention of doing part or all of the Bolus Head walk. But the meagre sunshine that accompanied us to Killarney had begun to vanish. 

We drove to the trailhead and headed off on the walk for Bolus Head (it takes about three hours). It soon became apparent (maybe not the right word) that it would be foolish to keep going as the mist was begin to creep down from the mountain tops and a second front spread across the ocean and those magical islands of the Skelligs had disappeared totally. But we did enjoy our hour on the walk with the sea on one side and the hard fields full of sheep and their lambs and a scattering of cattle on the other.

On then to Ballinskelligs itself and there was better visibility down by the bay. Good view of the ruined McCarthy Mor Tower House (Ballinskelligs Castle) and the more distant Ballinskelligs Abbey (also in ruins). 

Time then to check in at our accommodation for the night, the outstanding Seaclusion B & B right on the seaside in Waterville. It is one of the best examples of its type that I've come across in a long while. A very warm welcome, beautifully decorated throughout, and a great view over the bay from our room. Great choice at breakfast and top class as well. Hard to beat the French Toast there! Plenty of private parking also. Very helpful too with tips of where to eat and it was here that we found out the location of the McGill Brewery (a very good tip indeed!).

Next “trip” was a leisurely walk from Seaclusion to the Lobster, a bar cum restaurant a few blocks nearer Waterville centre. We got a table by the window and by the time we left were full to the gills with some excellent food, including a outstanding Halibut special.

The following day was widely forecast to rain on us all day long. It just didn’t happen, though there was a shower as we made our first stop at the McGill Microbrewery (recommended by Seaclusion) across from the church on the road to Ballinskelligs. Be careful crossing the road here as the traffic comes from a few different directions and moves quite quickly


Bubbles & Chocolate

Got a warm welcome from founder-owner Joe and we'll feature the brewery in the blog soon. We had enjoyed his Waterville IPA at the Lobster and on the strength of that bought a bunch of his beers at the local Centra.

Off then to Ballinskelligs Beach. The rain had stopped, for the day, but it remained dull. There was one sign of summer though as a large crane arrived to lift the Lifeguards’ Hut into position on the strand. Off we went on our walk, first to the ruined abbey; apparently the monks from Skelligs ended up here when they abandoned the island. Back then to the McCarthy castle, on the beach, before getting into the car again and following the Skellig Ring.

This took us back towards our stop of the day before but this time we continued on to visit the Skellig Chocolate factory. We had been disappointed that we haven’t been able to get their Brittle boxes recently and had it finally confirmed to us that they have been replaced by the Shards. Still disappointed at that decision by the new owners but we did buy a few bits and pieces including a couple of their bars, most notably an outstanding Milk Chocolate with Aran Island Sea Salt Fudge.

On along the narrow roads then for a visit to the spectacular Kerry Cliffs (€5.00 per person). You walk up a prepared pathway to a 2-pronged viewing area. You are advised to do the one on the right first (where the cliffs are more rugged) and then the left, but you do have a view all the while. 

The famous islands from the Kerry Cliffs

The heights are very impressive. It remained dull but we still got a good view of the Skelligs from a specially built extension to the pathway. A popular place and well worth the few euro!

People high on the viewpoint to the right at Kerry Cliffs

Down then to Portmagee and over the bridge to Valentia. It had been a while since we visited the Skellig Experience Centre just past the bridge.  It has an exhibition area, an audio visual, gift shop as well as a fully licensed restaurant.

Here, through re-creations and models, you can study the works and lives of the Skellig monks of the early Christian period and wonder at the legacy of architecture that they left behind.

The Skellig Experience with its grass covered roof; Portmagee in background

The Skellig Experience Centre also offers the history of the island’s lighthouse keepers and its service to mariners since the 1820’s. And there’s a fine educational display about the seabirds of the area. It may be a bit limited in size and in technology, but there’s still quite a lot to take in here.

Whenever we visit Valentia, the Bray Head walk is part of the tour. But not this time and we didn’t get to the lighthouse, the slate quarry or the tracks of the tetrapod.

View from the top of the island. Just a fraction of the 360° panorama

But we did get to the top of Geokaun Mountain, the highest point on Valentia Island at 266 metres. On top of the mountain you have a fantastic 360° panoramic view over the Skelligs, the Blasket Islands and Dingle Bay.

We called it a day in the great outdoors after that and headed for the B&B for the night. Horizon View is just about 15 minutes walk from Knightstown and is splendidly located with great views out over the water, even to the Blasket Islands, but certainly to the lighthouse. And your host Alan will give you a warm welcome and fill you in on things to do in the locality, the first of which is to view the superb seaview (including the lighthouse) from the sitting room balcony.

Sunset over the lighthouse, as seen from Horizon View, our B&B.

This gull came to see
what we had on our plate at the Royal
Later that evening, the sun (after just a few minutes being up) went down for the day.  Alan gave us the direction earlier on and we managed a decent photo or two even though he has seen many more spectacular sunsets in his lovely location, just minutes from Knightstown (and the ferry to Cahirciveen.

But we were in good form at that stage having been well fed at the Royal Hotel by the waterside, where the local beer Killarney Blonde was on tap. Next morning, having had a hearty breakfast, we said goodbye to Alan and headed away from the Kingdom and back to the Rebel City where we arrived 2.5 hours later.

Also on this trip:

The Lobster Waterville

Skellig Experience Centre - The Monks Dinner

McGill Brewery*

Royal Hotel, Knightstown

A Right Royal Progress Through The Kingdom

* Post to follow

Recent Kerry posts

Killarney's lovely Victoria Hotel

Dinner at The Ivy in Killarney

Dining at The Harrow Killarney

Excellent Lunch at Brehon Hotel

Seeing Red at the lovely Sneem Hotel

Lunch at Killarney Brewery & Distillery in Fossa.

Dingle Drive, Slea Head and more 

The 2017 version of this trip has some other attractions not visited this time. Take a look here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Taste of the Week. Skelligs Milk Chocolate Rose & Pistachio Bar

Taste of the Week. 

Skelligs Milk Chocolate Rose & Pistachio Bar

You immediately think Turkish delight as this gorgeous bar begins to melt in your mouth. And you are correct as this is a delicious blend of the creaminess of milk chocolate and the irresistible aromas of rose, not forgetting the gentle crunch of the pistachio nuts.

"An exotic Turkish delight inspired seduction," according to the Kerry makers. Well we know they have poets and writers in the Kingdom who can get carried away by the magic of words. This time though, I have to agree and the little bar (€2.95 at Bradleys of Cork's North Main Street) is our Taste of the Week.

They will last ten months, I read on the packaging. Very unlikely, methinks, ten minutes more likely!

I see they also have a Gin & Tonic bar available, that could be next on my list! See the range of flavoured bars here.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Taste of the Week. Skelligs Truffles

Taste of the Week
Skelligs Truffles

Handmade on the spectacular Atlantic Way, this box of Skelligs Chocolate, the Chocolatiers Selection of Assorted Truffles is just irresistible!

It is stamped “Contains Alcohol” and that makes it even more tempting. And you’ll get that in the Irish Whiskey Créme and also in the superb Strawberry and Champagne. No alcohol in the Hazelnut Praline or the Vanilla Ganache but not a crumb of chocolate escaped.

First up was a long-time favourite of mine, the Citrus Delight. Here they somehow manage to transform a simple white chocolate into a thing of beauty, absolutely delicious. #lemonchoco

Still, if I had to pick a winner, it would be the Strawberry and Champagne, our Taste of the Week. Hard to top that, except perhaps to order the large Easter Egg version. Which I did earlier in the year!

St Finian’s Bay
Co. Kerry

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Taste of the Day that's in it.

Taste of the Day
The Big Red Egg from Skellig Chocolate

Happy Easter Everyone.
We're in the cocoon but so too is this big
red Strawberry and Champagne Egg from
Skellig Chocolate. Don't think it will last too long, the egg that is, not the cocoon.

And, don't forget the real eggs. This East Ferry Farm box came via our local craft butcher Davidson's Montenotte

#buylocal #supportlocal

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Wet and Windy. But Enjoyable Stay at Powerscourt Hotel

Powerscourt Visit 2019

Wet and Windy. But Enjoyable Stay at Powerscourt Hotel
Lobby at the Powerscourt Hotel

It was a wet and windy Monday when we made our most recent visit to Powerscourt. The estate, there is also a waterfall nearby, is just an hour or so from Dublin and now, with the improved motorways, it is just two and a half from Cork. Use M8, M7, M50, M11 (to Wexford) and that will leave you with just a few miles of country road to reach your destination.
Weather was so much better when we last visited in 2015

The rain followed us up from Cork and it was pelting down when we pulled in to the hotel on the grounds, hoping to have a quick lunchtime snack in the bar. But McGill’s Pub was closed until 4.00pm so we headed up to the house and the Avoca Cafe whose high-ceilinged dining rooms look out over the grounds. Not much to be seen that Monday, I’m afraid, but a tasty soup with a warming piquancy set  us up for the afternoon.
Night view of the fountains in the pool from the balcony

We did a little food shopping in the adjoining Avoca shop. Lots of local produce on sale, including Skellig Chocolates, and also plenty of fudge under the Avoca label but this was unmistakably Mella’s fudge from West Cork. No shortage of non-Irish produce too and surprised to see they had apple rings from China when Con Traas mades a superb delicious apple ring down in Cahir.

We had an appointment to tour the newly built Powerscourt Distillery just a few hundred yards away. With the weather still bad, we drove over (rather than walked) and parked outside the door. The tour is excellent and highly recommended and you may read about our experience here. Didn’t realise they had a café there also.

Back then to the Powerscourt Hotel to check in. Entry to the gardens is free to hotel guests but no possibility at all of exercising that option as the rains continued to pour down. Our room here was fabulous and indeed the hotel itself is magnificent, the lobby particularly impressive.

Super starter of Gin Cured Goatsbridge Trout, Pickled Apple, Green Gazpacho, Avocado, Tapioca

We had been hoping to dine at Sika, the main restaurant, but this is currently subject to occasional closure due to renovations. However we did enjoy the Sika cooking in the Sugar Loaf Lounge instead. Both restaurants have views out towards the Sugar Loaf mountain but, such was the extent of the rain, that famous landmark wasn’t visible at all.

Goat cheese, smoked beetroot purée,
Heirloom cherry tomato, cucumber gel
Basil Oil, Balsamic pearls

Dinner was excellent, quite a lot of choices here, and service, as you might expect, was also top notch. 

After dinner, we headed to McGill’s Pub in the hotel. This Irish pub is an excellent venue. The bar itself is “made for elbows”. The seating is not at all plush but good enough to enjoy your pick from a fine selection of whiskeys, beers and stouts. They also offer "a tasty menu of wholesome, traditional dishes, prepared and served with imagination and style".

And, even on a wet Tuesday, it was busy with food and drink, as indeed was the hotel itself. There was a great buzz in the bar and a football game on the screens. Not exactly what you’d expect in a five star but very enjoyable indeed with a very friendly and efficient service. 

I usually look for local beers and noted a string of Wicklow taps. Unfortunately none were active so I settled for a pint of Smithwick’s Red Ale. Not bad at all but not quite as good as the large bottle (568 mls) of Smithwick Red that I enjoyed a few months back in Lonergan’s Pub in Ballymacarbry (west Waterford).

Next morning, we were served breakfast in the Sika, after a very warm welcome indeed, No shortage of choice here at all and the hot buffet was just brilliant. The food looked very inviting and all was at the proper temperature and, back at the table, proved very tasty indeed, a proper Irish breakfast, just what was needed for another wet day ahead. More on that and the fantastic Wicklow Heather in the next post.

More about the gardens (from a previous visit) here

Also on this trip: Powerscourt Distillery
The Wicklow Heather

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Taste of the Week. Skellig Milk Chocolate Dipped Marshmallows

Taste of the Week
Skellig Milk Chocolate Dipped Marshmallows

Wasn't expecting too much from this pack but, with Skellig Chocolates involved, I should have known better. It is a delightful delicious combination and our current Taste of the Week.

By the way, the chocolate is the main ingredient here at 83%, smothering the marshmallow at 17%. You bite in through the chocolate cover on the irregular sized treats and find the soft tasty marshmallow in the middle. It is quality all the way from the gorgeous chocolate to the soft yielding marshmallow, a terrific flavoursome packet. 

They go well together as I found out when I visited last year and enjoyed a hot chocolate in their cafe, a café with a splendid view out to the magic islands, the hot chocolate topped with a generous helping of marshmallow!

The Glen
County Kerry

066 9479119

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Coast, Cliffs and Chocolate. The Iveragh Experience: Killorglin to Ballinskelligs.

The Iveragh Experience

Killorglin to Ballinskelligs. Coast, Cliffs and Chocolate.

A special at Nick's Killorglin
Near Blackstone Bridge
Part Ring of Kerry, part Wild Atlantic Way. Part Ring of Skelligs. Mix them all up and enjoy the trip from Killorglin to Ballinskelligs, with a side visit to the lovely Blackstone Bridge and the Caragh River. 

If you are looking for a place to stay, there is no shortage. But I can heartily recommended the Carrig Country House, a lovely Victorian house on the shore of Carrig Lake; great hospitality and excellent food (including one of the country's best breakfasts). 

Just after one of those breakfasts, we set off on an inland spin, towards Glencar, a pretty place at the foot of the local mountains. If you don't climb, then there are many walks in the area, especially in Lickeen Woods.

Here too is where the Caragh River flows over the black stones that give the bridge its name. It is a picturesque spot and some fishermen were on the backs at the time. Later, we would drive up the narrow road to the Ballaghbeama Pass. It looks bleak on a grey day but splendid when the sun is shining. You can make a U turn at the top or continue on down between the mountains to Sneem.

The Kerry Cliffs
We came back and headed to Killorglin, passing the large statue of King Puck on the bank of the river near the bridge. There is a big car park just off to the right of the one-way (up) main street. We parked there and walked downhill with the church to our left. Then up a slope, again on the left, as a metal bridge loomed overhead. Up on the bridge, the old railway bridge, there are very good views of the River Laune and the road bridge that we just crossed.

Time then for a snack. We were in luck. Had spotted a sign for Jack’s Bakery & Deli, on Bridge Street, and it looked good. We were the last customers! It was just past one o'clock on a Sunday but they were about to close up, having sold out! But they did feed us, a couple of well filled baps (the last of morning's baking) and, as we sat down at the outside tables, a big slice of chocolate cake was added as a bonus! Thanks Jack!

On the Bolus Walk

By the way, if you are in Killorglin of an evening, you might like to try the well known Nick’s or their younger sister next door, Sol y Sombra. Nick's A la Carte prices can be a bit stiff yet one of our starters, Garlic Marinated Pan Seared Prawns with pickled cucumber and a herb vinaigrette, was one of the very best I've come across and worth the €12.50 price tag. You may also find good value in the set menus, including one that offers three courses for €28.00.
Mussel boat

You’ll see Cromane mussels on many a menu locally and the village is close to Killorglin and worth a detour. Here, you’ll see the flat-deck boats used for the purpose. No work though when I called on a Sunday. Would like to have seen them in action as I did in various parts of France, especially in Marennes-Oléron on the west coast.

The Red Fox Inn seems to be a very popular spot with tourist buses. And, if you have 20 minutes or so to spare, you might be interested in seeing the adjacent Kerry Bog Village (fee) for “a snapshot of Irish life in the 18th and 19th century”. The few bog ponies and the Irish wolfhounds weren't overly animated and there were no mountain goats on our visit. There are a number of cottages, containing lots of interesting everyday memorabilia and, in one, the turf fire is blazing and the room is full of smoke!

On then to Glenbeigh. We took a walk on the nearby beach of Rossbeigh. It was windy and the wind sports enthusiasts were out in force. Didn't do Cahersiveen justice (another day!) as we drove quickly through heading for Renard Point to the south of the town to take the ferry to Valentia Island. No shortage of activities on the island as you may read here …
Bolus Walk
In preparation for your drive on the Skelligs Ring, you might like to visit the Skellig Experience (fee) on Valentia. It has a cafe but the offering is limited and average. Pick up the Skelligs Ring in Portmagee and make a visit to the Kerry Cliffs your first stop. There is a small fee but you get a good walk and a few excellent viewpoints over the impressive cliffs.

Continue to the coast and soon you'll see the signs for the Skelligs Chocolate (no fee). Here, you’ll get a warm welcome and get to sample their various offerings. If it is a working day, you'll see the produce being made. Lots of it for sale of course and I got some Strawberry and Champagne and also a white citrus (lemon and lime) chocolate. And they have the Puffin Cafe here as well. No sandwiches or anything like that. Just a treat for yourself. I enjoyed my tall glass of hot chocolate and a chunk of Rocky Road.
Skelligs Chocolate
Back to the road then, for a short spell. There is a great walk nearby, with views over the bay and the famous Skellig Islands. We drove to the trailhead but didn't have time to do the full walk around Bolus Head (it takes about three hours). But we did enjoy our hour in the sun with the blue sea on one side, the hard fields full of sheep and their lambs on the other.

Old Bog Farm
Kells Garden
Time then to turn around and head for Kells Bay and our final visit. Kells Bay Gardens is one of Ireland’s foremost Victorian Gardens and contains a great selection of southern hemisphere plants. The hairy fern tree plantation is impressive and there are lots of tree carvings around to amuse both kids and adults. The highlight - and it is a new feature - is the Skywalk, a shaky rope bridge over a stream. You’ll need your two hands here, so be careful with that camera.

After all the exercise, you’ll now be thinking about a well deserved dinner in the Lakeside Restaurant at Carrig House!
See also: Visiting Valentia Island
Lovely Dinner at The Lakeside 
Calm and Comfortable at Carrig House

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Taste of the Week. The Hot Choc & Coffee Combo

Taste of the Week

Hot Choc & Coffee Combo

Taste of the Week this time is a little bit different. It takes two to tango and our perfect partners are Skelligs Dark Chocolate with Chilli and Pink Peppercorn along with The Golden Bean’s Veracruz Coffee.

The chocolate is 70%, intense with a fiery kick of chilli heat and a lasting finish of the pink peppercorn. Hot stuff and lovely on its own but even better I think with that excellent coffee from Columbia.

The chocolate, along with more from the Skelligs Range, is available from Bradley's North Main Street while I bought the coffee at the Golden Bean stall in Mahon Point Farmers Market. Quite a duo! Let's go tango.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Taste of the Week. Skelligs Chocolate

Taste of the Week
Skelligs Chocolate

The current Taste of the Week comes all the way from the beautiful St Finian’s Bay area of Ballinskelligs in County Kerry: ten delicious Irish handmade chocolates truffles. 

Just five flavours in the box but something gorgeous for every taste. Off to a promising start with the Citrus Delight, then Strawberry and Champagne. Are you getting the picture? And still to come are the Vanilla Ganache, the Hazelnut Praline and, perhaps my favourite, the Dark Irish Whiskey, all creamy, all made with love and each dispatched with love as well.

Great to see the County Kerry firm bounce back so well from the fire of 2010. Did you know they overlook the UNESCO World Heritage site Skellig Michael? Well they do and, better still, they'd love to see you come and visit. Think I’ll take that invitation up myself when I'm in the area in a month or two.

If you can't make it down there anytime soon, they have many stockists: check the list here.  I got mine in Bradley’s, North Main Street, Cork, and, of course, you may also buy from their online shop here.