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Showing posts with label Ummera. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ummera. Show all posts

Thursday, September 20, 2018

L’Atitude Scales New Altitude. Filling Me Softly With Her Food


L’Atitude Scales New Altitude
Filling Me Softly With Her Food
Stracciatella. Multo Bella.
No secret that Cork’s L’Atitude 51 is one of the best wine-bars around. That’s been confirmed by awards, both local and national. But did you know they have a lovely food offering too? Number One Union Quay is certainly a place to take it easy, easy drinking and also easy eating, sometimes easy listening as well.

Here you can go from aperitifs to small plates to large plates and have a lot of fun doing so. No shortage of variety here with a range of dishes that distinguishes L’Atitude from the mainstream. Who, for instance, is doing Toonsbridge Stracciatella?

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. There is a huge wine menu here, page after page of organic and natural wines, and that is what we looked at first. Many are available by the 125ml and 175ml glass, a 250ml carafe and by the bottle. Some, the more expensive ones, are available by bottle only! Since we were in, we were going to try a few so the glass was our vessel choice for the evening. 
Tapas Plate

And we started with the Crisp with Attitude Page, featuring wines that are lively, racy and mineral. CL made a very good pick: the Secateurs Chenin Blanc from the Badenhorst estate in South Africa while I enjoyed the Wines Direct import, the Paddy Borthwick Riesling from New Zealand. Sipped those as we tucked into a bowl of mixed olives. 

The menu here is “less formal”, encouraging you to share as the dishes arrive from the kitchen. Oh, they also do a Plat du Jour. You’ll see that on the blackboard. On the night of our visit it was Tagliatelle with a lamb ragu and they coupled that with a glass of wine, all for around fifteen euro (if I remember rightly). And they also do lunch daily.

And soon we were sharing another dish, a much bigger one; the Tapas, at €18.50, is one of the more expensive ones on the menu, but a very impressive platter indeed, well assembled and well presented. It contains Coppa, Jamon, Pecorino, Toonsbridge Mozzarella, Charred Aubergine, Artichokes, Roasted Red Pepper and Caponata was irresistible and easily and lazily dispatched.
Duck x 3.
At this point, the wines had changed. I was on to the orange wine (lots of skin contact and yet a good introduction to the style for beginners) from Sicily, the cloudy Rallo Baglio with a fantastic concentration of the flavours. CL meanwhile was on safer ground with the Madregale Rosso, one of the best house wines around these parts.

Now with the Tapas and the basket of bread finished we sipped the wines and waited for the next batch of food! And that’s where the eye-catching palate pleasing Stracciatella comes in. Even though the two dishes came together, there was a duel around this beauty. It is the creamy filling you’ll find in Burrata (another Toonsbridge cheese). It is soft and fresh, it has to be. Presented on a  bed of grilled aubergine and topped with Dukkah, it was temptation from the first bite, especially when spooned into the “pocket” breads that came with it.

The sharing continued with the Duck 3 Ways: Ummera Smoked Duck, Duck and Port Paté, and Potatoes sautéed in Duck Fat. Well, you know that Ummera’s Smoked Duck is a gem of southern cuisine yet the combination here somehow managed to put an extra shine on an already excellent product. Superb.


We were on to our final wines by now, both of us on the red. CL picked from the “Fruity with Attitude” section and came up trumps with a classic Pinot Noir by Regnaudot (Burgundy) while my final tipple was the Blaufrankisch by Austria’s Judith Beck, a winemaker that seems to be appearing more and more in this country. The plush Blaufrankisch, with generous fruit, is biodynamically produced and worth seeking out.

And L’Atitude itself, with its friendly service and informal style, is also worth seeking out either for wine or food or both!

1 Union Quay (corner opposite City Hall)
Cork
021 239019





Sunday, August 12, 2018

A Taste of West Cork Festival. A Personal Selection of the September Events.


A Taste of West Cork Festival
Some of the Best.
There is so much to do in next month’s major festival, A Taste of West Cork: over 250 events, spread over 41 towns and villages and eight islands. And, despite the one hundred thousand welcomes, you’ll find it difficult enough to make your choices. So, this is where my digest comes in. 

While I don’t know West Cork like the back of my hand, I have a decent amount of experience there, including at this festival. So, if you lose patience with the official multi-page guide (especially if you’re reading it online), check out these suggestions divided into BARGAIN, OFF PLATE (eating not essential!), A/N (afternoon), EVENING, and BtB (bust the budget). Some of these are free or have just nominal charges. 

By the way, I have omitted the guest chefs/pop up events. I have mixed feelings on these because I’ve had mixed experience of them. I’ll leave the decision up to yourself but do get as much information from the venue in advance as possible and that should help avoid any disappointment.

The programme has been published in national and local newspapers and is available online hereSomething for everyone. Take your pick and enjoy! 

Baltimore

Friday Sep 7th
BARGAIN: Traditional Fishing, Boats, Pots and Lines. Free. 2.30 Baltimore
OFF PLATE: Lough Hyne To The Sea. Kayaking €65.00
A/N: Afternoon Sea - seafood savouries at Seaview House Hotel, Ballylickey €29.00
EVENING: Lobster Garden Party with Diana Dodog at The Lifeboat Inn, Courtmacsherry €55.00
Sherkin Island

Saturday Sep 8th
BARGAIN: The Honey Bee, with experienced bee-keeper at Organico, Bantry. €10.00.
OFF PLATE: Pencil to Garden to Plate, drawing class with Annabel Langrish at Heron Gallery Cafe €50.00 inc lunch.
A/N: Islander’s Rest BBQ with Derry Clarke. Sherkin 1.00pm €20.00
EVENING: The West Cork Food Tour. Manning’s Ballylickey from 6.00pm. Farm Tour and BBQ €80.00
BtB: The Ancient Craft of Blacksmithing at O’Driscoll Ironworks, Durrus Day long class €150.00
Garinish Island, Glengariff

Sunday Sep 9th
BARGAIN: Kilcrohane Country Fair 2-6pm. Stall, producers, music, BBQ (€5.00)
OFF PLATE: Hidden Edibles, The Ewe Experience, Glengarriff, 10.00 to 11.00am, €12.50
A/N: Tarte Tatin Demo & Tasting by John Desmond at Heir Island 2.30pm, free but pay for ferry
EVENING: The Celtic Camino Dinner at Gougane Barra Hotel. Caminos popping up everywhere. Dinner is €50.00.
BtB: ——
Michael Collins event, 10th September, Clonakilty

Monday Sep 10th
BARGAIN: Manage your own herb garden, Organico Bantry 4.00pm, €5.00
OFF PLATE: Plastic is a Plague. A seminar with distinguished speakers at Liss Ard, Skibbereen, 11.00am-3.00pm, €20.00.
A/N: Devoy’s Organic Farm visit. Vegetables, eggs, chickens stories 2.30pm Three euro
EVENING: Scannell’s Tastes of the Sea Aperitif plus 5-course feast of fish. 7.00pm €60.00
BtB: —-


Tuesday Sep 11th
BARGAIN:  The Secret Garden, The Sutherland Centre, Skibbereen. A true secret garden. Free.
OFF PLATE: Art and the Great Hunger, a guided tour of this incredible exhibition at Uillinn, Skibbereen, two euro
A/N: Cream Tea at the Top of the Rock, Drimoleague. Guided Walk around eco-farm before grand tea and scones. €12.00.
EVENING: Wine & Dine at Deasy’s in Ring. Italian wine and Caitlin Ruth’s cooking combine in five-course meal from 7.00pm for €55.00.
BtB: Heron & Grey at The Mews Inventive Tasting Menu, 7.30pm, €95.00

Wednesday Sep 12th
BARGAIN: Ummera Smokehouse, Timoleague. A marvellous visit and tasting for free. 10.30am
OFF PLATE: Bere Island and the Great Famine. Informative historical bus tour 12.00pm to 2.00pm and packed lunch €30.00. Ferry at 11.30am extra.
A/N: Wild Berry Bakery, Ballineen.  Bakery visit and samples. All proceeds to charity. Entry €5.00
EVENING: A Taste of India at Richy’s Clonakilty. Welcome drink and multi-course Indian meal by Meeran Gani Manzoor, Head Chef at Richy’s. €60.00.
BtB: Intimate Dinner at Inish Beg House on Inish Beg Island. Formal dinner surrounded by country house grandeur, silver service. €95.00

Thursday Sep 13th
BARGAIN: Tasting (and bottle to take away) for a fiver at 9 White Deer Brewery in Ballyvourney. 2.00pm
OFF PLATE: Tea and Tales on Dursey Island. Take the cable car across and then a guided bus tour with dramatic views and island stories. Tea costs 25 euro and cable car is extra.
A/N: Bean and Grain, chocolate and beer at Clonakilty Brewery. The chocolate will be by Alison of Clonakilty Chocolate and there’ll be lots of pairings. €25.00
EVENING: A Taste of Organico, hosted by Hannah and Rachel Dare who’ll have dozens of their producers on hand including Fermoy Raw Milk, Mary Pawle Wines and Sally Barnes Smokery. Samples galore and even a glass of wine is included in the 5 euro fee. 5.30pm to 8.00pm.
BtB: ——
Welcome to Union Hall Smoked Fish

Friday Sep 14th
BARGAIN: Martin Shanahan of Fishy Fishy puts on a brilliant demo, very engaging with his audience, especially the younger ones. See him from 10.00 in Fields of Skibbereen. Free.
OFF PLATE: Live Life Well. A students’ food and lifestyle conference at Skibbereen Community School. From 10.00am to 2.00pm, hear talks, see demos, and sample at the mini-market. All free.
A/N: there’s a tour of the Union Hall Smoked Fish facility at 2.00pm, a lovely family run business. The Nolan's are a generous bunch and they won’t charge you a cent yet, a similar event two years back, there was no shortage of samples and even a glass of wine.
EVENING: Real Food from Here is the title of the event at Macroom’s Castle Hotel where the Buckley family invite you to a dinner featuring real food. Real wine too from Le Caveau with Colm McCan doing the pouring and talking. €60.00 including dinner and wine. Special overnight rate.
BtB: ——
Walking on Sheep's Head

Saturday Sep 15th
BARGAIN: A 2.5 hour walk on the Sheeps Head with guide Charlie McCarthy (086 2333420). Registration at 11.30am, walk at 12 noon. Meet at the cabin Ahakista.Free
OFF PLATE: Meet at the car park in Barley Cove Hotel on your way to the Three Castle Head Walk, one of West Cork’s hidden gems, with breath-taking views. Starts at 3.30 and duration is 90 minutes. Free. Contact: 0868808190.
A/N: Fish and Whiskey Brunch is the unpriced event at the Glandore Inn with local man Bryan McCarthy doing the cooking and West Cork Distillers supplying the  spirit. All proceeds to LauraLynn children’s Hospice and Union Hall Inshore Lifeboat.
EVENING: I suspect that Taste of the Sea at Arundels by the Pier (Ahakista) will sell out fast with Head Chef Dominique Carucci presenting a delicious Taste of the Sea menu. Five courses for €50.00.
BtB: The big spenders can whip out that credit card again as they go to Eat, Drink and Sleep at the Castle, Castletownsend. At 7.00pm, the six course meal, paired with selected wines and beers, will get underway. Slip upstairs much later, wake to a spectacular view of the bay and a hearty breakfast. Cost overall: €220.00 per person.

Sunday Sep 16th.
Still a good share of events on the closing Sunday but undoubtedly the focus will be on the Festival Finalé, the Sunday Street Market in Skibbereen. It starts at noon and as usual there’ll be bands, and dancers, craft, and food to eat and take away and a children’s entertainment area. A superb finalé to a marvellous festival that encompasses over 250 events.

Reen Pier area








Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Courtmacsherry Hotel. Welcome to the Club.


Courtmacsherry Hotel. Welcome to the Club.


In some multi-starred hotels, the fuss they make of you is about as genuine as a Trump tweet. Not the case in the 10 room Courtmacsherry Hotel. Here, the chats are warm and real. You feel you’re part of a social club, you’re not a stranger here.

How about this for social? On a recent Saturday, May 19th, they were catering for a wedding, two communion settings and, yes, two matches on the big screen. And the season hadn’t really started yet. They admit they are struggling a bit to finish off renovations before they go full-time on June 1st. In May, it is open just Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

I was kind of sorry that I wasn't around there on the Saturday but had a great time in Courtmac and surrounds on the sunny Friday. We got that real down to earth Irish welcome and were soon shown up to room number six. 

By the way, if you are booking in here, do ask for a front facing room. Number six has three fairly large windows and two of them have views over the magnificent Courtmacsherry Bay. The renovations hadn't passed it by either and it had all we needed: tea-making facilities, bottled water, new carpet and mat, and a very comfortable bed.

On the way in, there were dozens of people enjoying themselves, not in the hotel's Seven Heads Bar, but in the sun outside, dining and drinking. The hotel building, which dates from Victorian times (you’ll note those high ceilings), provided shelter and also reflected the sun back to diners and drinkers. There is a lovely old tree in the middle of the manicured lawn and lots of rustic style tables and chairs there as well.

On the way down from the city, we had stopped at Kilbrittain (mainly to see the huge skeleton of the fin whale), taken a stroll on the gorgeous beach at Dunworley and had reacquainted ourselves with the bluebells and wild garlic in full flower in Courtmacsherry Wood.

A week earlier, we had dined at the excellent Lifeboat Inn and had spotted their garden and terrace overlooking the bay. It was too cold to sit out on that occasion but we weren't going to miss out this time. Strolled down through the village and called to the Inn. Soon we were out on the terrace, enjoying the splendid views and also enjoying a well deserved pint of ale from Black’s Brewery in Kinsale.

We would renew our support of local in the Seven Heads that night with a gin, also from Black’s. They are not just a brewery, you know, as they also produce this excellent gin and more recently a rum! 

Later, I said I’d try out another gin from Shortcross, one I hadn’t tried before. The lady serving got a bit of a shock when she keyed it in and saw it was costing €10.50 a shot! Something wrong there, I thought, this must be some kind of super-premium. But it was late, the gin was in the glass with the ice so I went ahead with it. An excellent drop indeed but not worth that much! So maybe you'd better check the price if you are ordering it there!

While most of the day to day eating is done in the bar, or outside if the sun shines, breakfast is taken in the eye-catching Cork Tree Bar with its recently exposed original stone walls and unusual candelabras. And it is a very good breakfast indeed. If you like the Full Irish, you’ll get it here, even a mini version if you'd prefer. Plenty of variety with various eggs dishes, waffles also, and kippers. I went for the Scrambled Eggs with the top notch Ummera Smoked Salmon.

Very happy with that. And very happy too with their buffet table. Some great fruit there including fresh strawberries (I assume they were Bushby’s but I didn’t ask), good choices of juices, and also brown bread and tempting pastries and service was friendly (as ever) and efficient too, just one lady keeping the show going without any fuss whatsoever.

And, as we left on Saturday morning, heading for a final walk in the woods and then a visit to Bandon Farmers Market, the staff were getting the outside area spic and span for the visitors (while the bouncy castle was being readied for the kids). The soft covers, having been removed overnight, were being replaced on the chairs and the parasols were being put in place. Another sunny day ahead, another busy one at the friendly little hotel. And hopefully many more in the season ahead.

Just in case you can’t get a booking here in the 3-star hotel, why not try their holiday cottages situated in front of the magnificent woodland and overlooking the bay. All the cottages have central heating, two spacious bedrooms (sleeping 6+) and two fully tiled bathrooms with shower downstairs, towels and linen are supplied.

There is a barbecue area where you can sit out and enjoy the view in a relaxing atmosphere. The cottages come with parking, garden, free Wi-Fi and use of hotel facilities when it is open.

Other recent posts from this area:
The Lifeboat Inn
Monk's Lane

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!



Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Taste of the Week. Ummera Hot Smoked Rump Steak

Taste of the Week. 
Ummera Hot Smoked Rump Steak


Always something new out of the west. In Ballymaloe for the Litfest, I met up with Anthony Cresswell of the Ummera Smokehouse at his stall in the famous Big Shed. And he had something new for me, indeed I got the very first bite of his Hot Smoked Rump Steak.


He tried cold smoke too but eventually settled on the hot; it is then marinated and allowed rest for a couple of weeks. The smoke and the rump seem made for each other, great flavour and texture, gorgeous stuff and our Taste of the Week.

Ummera, operating on the banks of the little river Adrigeen in Timoleague for close on forty years, is licensed to smoke both fish and meat and the products are exported worldwide. Anthony smokes salmon, chicken, duck (I got an early taste of that beauty too a few years ago!) and bacon and you may buy them all and more online. Very Highly Recommended.

Ummera Smokehouse
Timoleague
Co Cork
Email: info@ummera.com
Twitter: @ummera 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Munster Wine & Dine Launch. Up and Running!

Munster Wine & Dine Launch.
Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 18.57.59 copy.pngUp and Running!
Anthony (right) and Daniel (3rd right) at the launch.
The Munster Wine & Dine Circle is up and rolling. A full house at Jacques saw the 2016 launch in midweek. Lots of chat and information for the year ahead while Ummera Smoked and Stonewell Cider were the opening night stars. And of course, the kitchen at Jacques also played a blinder.

Munster Wine & Dine is a bunch of like-minded people, eager to taste the best the region has to offer and also to see how food and drink is produced. Last year, breweries, cider-makers, cheese-makers, gin producers, a smokery, and various restaurants (including Farmgate, The Tannery and Longueville House) were visited. And the coming twelve months should see something similar in the programme.

Last Wednesday though was the first step and here, Anthony Cresswell of Ummera and his brother-in-law Daniel Emerson of Stonewell told us about their enterprises. And they had some surprises in store.
Smoked duck, with its cider jelly!
We were each handed a glass of bubbles as we arrived and who doesn't love Prosecco! And some of us were fooled. This wasn't Prosecco at all but a sparkling cider called Esterre. Made exclusively from the beautiful Elstar Apple (grown in Tipperary and Waterford), Esterre is a sparkling cider "with reflections of a sparkling wine".  This is dry, really dry, is clean and crisp in the mouth with tart elements of the orchard and citrus notes and a smooth finish.

The first of our five courses soon appeared: Ummera Smoked Salmon with horseradish cream and beetroot relish. Delicious. Ummera is the only Irish smokery licenced to do both fish and meat. Smoked Chicken is always a favourite in this house and it was outstanding in Jacques with baby gem, pickled fennel and orange and was accompanied by Stonewell Dry Cider (the one that bites back, according to Daniel).

Then it was the turn of the Medium Dry Cider in a dual role. It accompanied the marvellous smoked duck served with a Kale crisp, a hazelnut salsa and a jelly made from the cider! Great match.
Stonewell's Tawny

The same cider also accompanied the next dish: Smoked bacon potato cake, crispy bacon, mustard cream and glazed apple. These Ummera rashers are amazing, perhaps the best around. And appreciated not just in Ireland. Anthony told us that a restaurant near the Spanish Steps in Rome is a regular customer. So if you get a great smell of rashers next time you visit the fountain there, then you know where it originally came from.

And the brothers-in-law had another surprise for us at the end. At least Daniel had. The cheese plate, with Knocklara and Durrus, was accompanied by a classy Tawny made by Stonewell from the fermented juice of Michelin and Dabinett apples and “elaborated with El Dorado dry hops”.  It keeps well and has an abv of 15%. It is described as “an opulent complex cider with chewy tannins and hints of fruit. Delightful as a slightly chilled aperitif but equally as a cheese or dessert accompaniment”. No arguing with that in Jacques last night.

Many of those present joined Munster Wine & Dine on the night and we are all looking forward to the events ahead. If you’d like to join, please contact the secretary at iwfsmunster@gmail.com. Below you’ll find a leaflet that was handed out at the launch and it gives a good idea of what you’ll be getting into!




We usually have something in the Spring. Last year we had a Beer versus Wine fight in L’Atitude. Don’t worry, no bottles or blows thrown. This year the plan is to get one or more of the new distilleries in to give a tasting. That will probably be in March or April.

Once the extra daylight comes in, we usually do a short evening trip to a local producer. Last year, we had a great time at Frank Hederman. This year, we’re talking to a local coffee roaster Golden Bean and hoping to get a local bean to bar chocolatier visit the roastery at the same time.
Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 18.57.59 copy.png
In the summer, we usually have a field trip. Away for the day and much of the night too. Last year was outstanding with a call to the Fermoy Natural Cheese farm, a visit to Dungarvan Brewing, a gin tasting and a fantastic meal at The Tannery. The likely one this time is being set up to include a visit to Cashel Blue cheese, the Apple Farm in Cahir, hopefully with the fruit trees in blossom and cider available, and a wine-tasting and dinner at Ballinwillin House.

We usually have two events in the Autumn. The highlight last time was a visit to Longueville House. A tour of the orchards (harvesting was in progress), then we saw the cidrerie and the distillery and there was lots of tasting, back then to the house to be greeted with mugs of mulled cider before settling into a great lunch, with wine and more apple brandy. And then a long snoozy session in front of the open fire before the bus came to bring us back. We’ll have to work hard to replicate that one! But we are working on a few ideas.

We also had an Italian night in the Farmgate. We may do something like that again as there are quite a few international chefs now working in the Cork area. It also depends a bit on how many new members we can attract. And we’re hoping to attract more as word of the massive reduction in the annual fee gets around.

You can see there is something in the provisional list for everyone. And we are open to suggestions. You can also see that there is plenty of variety each year. If you like good food, good drink, good company and a good time, you've come to the right place.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Munster Wine & Dine Circle. Launch 2016

Munster Wine & Dine Circle
2016 Launch - Feb 3rd in Jacques
Visit to Coolea Cheese 2014
The Munster Wine & Dine Circle will be launched next week (3rd February, 7.00pm) in Jacques in Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork. And it's going to be a spectacular launch, featuring the the wonderful Ummera Smokehouse from Timoleague and Stonewell Cider from Nohoval. Jacques have devised a brilliant menu using the Ummera products. 

MWDC Secretary Beverley Mathews is looking forward to the evening: “We are delighted that Anthony Creswell of Ummera will join us to give a talk on his incredible range of smoked products from the only traditional smokehouse in Ireland smoking both fish and meat. Anthony will be joined by Nohoval-based Stonewell Cider on the evening for a tasting of their products - these delicious ciders pair perfectly with Ummera's products.”


"You don't have to be a member to attend the launch. But we do ask you to consider joining. This newly formed group is open to all to join, including existing members of the the Munster Branch of the International Wine & Food Society."*

"As a result of the change, membership subs will be greatly reduced (see below) and our aim is to organise as many events, if not more, as we did under the IWFS umbrella, ranging from visits to producers, tastings, dinners, day-trips and much more. The committee already has a number of exciting events pencilled into the calendar for 2016."
Did someone say say cheese? Mozzarella maybe!
One of the Macroom buffalo
Events last year ranged from an evening visit to Frank Hederman’s, lunch and orchard tour at Longueville House, an Italian evening in The Farmgate, to a day trip to West Waterford (that included a visit to a cheese producer and a brewery, a gin tasting and a gorgeous meal at The Tannery).


Next week’s event is open to anyone who is interested in becoming a member of The Munster Wine & Dine Circle.  The evening (7pm start) will feature fun and an informal tapas-style meal during which you'll have the opportunity to meet other members and we will share the programme for the year with you.  Tickets for the event cost €25pp.


If you'd like to attend next Wednesday, please RSVP to iwfsmunster@gmail.com by Monday 1st February. Please pass this info on to anyone else you think would be interested in attending.  
The Annual Membership Subs for The Munster Wine & Dine Circle are as follows:  
Joint Membership €50

Single Membership €30
Longueville House visit was a 2015 highlight.

We will be sending out application forms shortly, but in the meantime, we would like to get an idea of membership numbers, so if you'd like to join The Munster Wine & Dine Circle for 2016, can you send an email expressing your interest  iwfsmunster@gmail.com .  

We hope to see you next Wednesday week in Jacques!


  • We wish to advise all our members that as of January 2016, the Munster Branch of the International Wine & Food Society has been replaced by a newly formed local circle which is separate from the IWFS. Memberships for the IWFS were due for renewal this month; however, due to high membership subs and a very unfavourable exchange rate with sterling which meant fees to remain part of the international organisation increased again this year, a decision was made to form a new locally-run society, which will carry out the same function as before (only without the international status).


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Taste of the Week. Ummera Smoked Bacon Rashers

Taste of the Week

Ummera Smoked Bacon Rashers

 Just the other day at dinner, the dog got worried. We were eating away and, unusually, not a word was being said. He had assumed his usual begging position but nothing was coming his way.


He got up, meerkat like, to better see what was going on. But he was still ignored. Blame it on Ummera. The famous Smoked Bacon Rashers from West Cork were in a delightful combination with local liver and there would be nothing left for the mutt.


Ummera is a small family smokery near the village of Timoleague. Their Smoked Back Rashers are one of my favourites and the current Taste of the Week.


They are Dry cured in Traditional Sea Salt from Tavira in Portugal, Organic Raw Cane Sugar from Costa Rica and gently smoked over glowing oak sawdust. And thinly sliced. They are full of flavour as you might imagine and can be used in many ways.


Ummera Smoked Dry-cured Bacon is available from a number of retail outlets in Ireland and the UK, as well as direct from the smokehouse. The packs are approximately 250gms and contain both back and streaky bacon, thinly sliced, rind on.



Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Potatoes in Sea-water. The Gender of Crabs. All at SeaFest in Ringaskiddy!

Potatoes in Sea-water!
The Gender of Crabs.
All at SeaFest in Ringaskiddy!
Sally Barnes of Woodcock Smokery.

Good for soup. Gerard Collier and a Conger eel
Chef and author Rory O’Connell urged his audience to cook their new potatoes in sea-water “for at least once in your life” while BIM’s Young Fishmonger of the Year Gerard Collier told us how to distinguish a female crab from a male, all that and so much more at the very interesting SeaFest at Ringaskiddy over the weekend. I called there Saturday morning and enjoyed the demos (missed Martin Shanahan as he was on in the afternoon) and visited the fish stalls along with quite a few of the other sea related exhibits.

Gerard Collier, a former trawlerman,  of Fisherman's Catch, Clogherhead, Co. Louth, was first up on the splendidly outfitted demo unit in Ringaskiddy and took us through the handling of fish: how to open the various shellfish, how to clean, debone and fillet everything from Grey Mullet to Thornback Ray.
This is one strong creature!
“There are sixty six bones in a salmon,” he said “and getting them out is tedious!” If you come across a Conger Eel by the way, they are “great for soup”. He had a grey mullet to show as well and, referring to its diet, called it “the vegetarian fish”.

He worked his way through the oysters and prawns, a cod and pollock and more and then sent them down, one by one, so the audience could see them close up.

The crabs and lobsters were quite an attraction but he had a warning: “Be careful. Both are very strong!” And how to recognize Lady Crab. Simple - she has a pouch (to carry her young!).
Dublin Bay Prawn, all ready for you!
Ballymaloe's Rory O’Connell was next on-stage and he did two dishes. One was Roast Haddock with Roasted Pepper, Basil and Olive Salsa and the other was Pan-fried Hake with a Bretonne Sauce.

By the way, that Salsa is terrific and will keep for three weeks or more in the fridge. The Bretonne sauce “is easier to make” than Hollandaise.
Cook it well with Rory O'Connell
We all got recipe sheets and loads of tips as well. Rory, as you’ll know from his reputation as a teacher in Ballymaloe and from his TV shows, is a brilliant person to learn from. He has the cooking down to such a fine art (though he has to keep an eye on what’s happening on the pan as much as anyone else) that he always seems to have time to dispense great hints and tips.

  • As he roasted some vine-ripened Heritage tomatoes, he urged us to use Extra Virgin Olive Oil all the time, “even frying or grilling”.
  • Red and yellow peppers are best for roasting. Roast them until they collapse (then remove the seeds and skin).
  • Use boiling water for new potatoes, cold water for old. And try potatoes in seawater, at least once in your life!
  • Egg whites freeze perfectly.
  • Chervil is great with fish and is surprisingly hardy. Fish love herbs.
  • French tarragon is superior to Russian.

    Fish sausages, by Kilmore Quay Seafood

Soon he was finished and the two dishes looked gorgeous on the big screen. Time then to head to the fish stalls outside where we bought all kinds of fish from all kinds of folks including Sally Barnes of Woodcock Smokery, Mag Kirwan from Goatsbridge Trout Farm, Anthony Creswell of Ummera (actually bought smoked rashers there!), Kilmore Quay Seafood (where we got fish sausages and more).


There was much more than fish in Ringaskiddy and in linked events around the harbour including Captain Your Own Ship in the Simulator of the National Maritime College, the base for the event. There were SeaFest Science Talks, the BIM Beaufort Scale Hurricane Experience, Marine Recreation and Tourism and more and more.. This festival will “tour” Ireland annually and plans are in hand to bring it to Galway in 2016.

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