Showing posts with label Waterford. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Waterford. Show all posts

Sunday, July 7, 2019

A Can of Bass and A Swallow in a Country Pub. My Nire Gap Walk. Thirsty Work


A Can of Bass and A Swallow in a Country Pub
My Nire Gap Walk. Thirsty Work.
Paint the town red?

We saw a swallow in a country pub. Well, you would wouldn’t you, lots of them! Sorry, not that kind of swallow. It was the one that can fly!

Let me start at the beginning, that very morning when I,  as fresh as a daisy, left Cork; I was heading for the Nire Valley in West Waterford with a plan to walk the Nire Valley Gap. 

First call though was to Lismore, a lovely town with many attractions including the castle, the cathedral, the park, its location on the Blackwater River, its cafés (even without the much lamented Chop House) and its hotels (including Ireland first purpose built hotel).

What attracted me most this morning though was the frontage of Biddy Greehy’s Public House and Grocery. This famous pub lasted from 1952 to 2003 and the current owners maintain the window displays – now part of their home – as they would have appeared in the middle of the previous century: all manner of wine and beer containers (including a can of Bass that looks more like a can of paint), tobacco boxes, shoe polish tins, snuff and wine corks and so much more. 

After a “considerable” delay there looking at the old curiosities, we headed to nearby Cappoquin and enjoyed a delicious lunch at Barron’s Bakery (one of the oldest if not the oldest in Ireland). 

About 30 minutes later, having passed through Ballymacarbry and passed Hanora’s guesthouse, we arrived at the Nire Valley Car Park, the Sat Nav lady working very well indeed on this occasion. It was a warmish but grey day. I'd have preferred a bit more light for the photos but locals said later we were lucky the sun wasn’t out as it would have made the trek very difficult.
Movin' on up!

Anyway, we changed the footwear, sorted out what to carry (water, for sure), picked up our sticks and headed into the hills. A few walks, mainly big loops begin here, but we only had eyes for the Gap Walk, the shortest and most straightforward one. The opening stretch was perhaps the toughest and we rose rapidly with our view expanding all the time, the car park quickly becoming a dot below.

Once we went through a stile, the walk through the Comeraghs became easier as we were now walking across the slope, mainly on a grass surface with lots of sheep and those Comeragh lambs around us, red splotches of paint marking them now (they had been blue before the stile). Lots of stops for photos and we were delayed by having to skirt around some boggy bits (there had been very heavy rain two days earlier). Some watery bits had permanent timber platforms across to help the walker.

Cheeky chappy
In the mountains, of course, you think you are near your destination, that the height ahead is the final one. But that is seldom the case. We were wondering were we ever going to get to the gap! 

Then we met a small group who promised us that the cafe at the top was excellent! We checked the remaining distance and they said about 20 minutes. Not very encouraging but, being so close, we kept going and indeed got to that magnificent view out the other side, over the lowlands where the village of Rathgormack is situated.

If you are up to it, you can now go to the left or the right and head off on a loop that will take you back to the car park. But we were just about fit enough to make it back the way we had come and that was the plan in any case. 
Rathgormack is down there somewhere!

Two mile walk
Of course, the sun began to peep out every now and then and give us a tempting glimpse as to what the lovely area would look like when the sky is clear. So on we went, slowly but surely and we did manage to make it back about 15 minutes outside the maximum of two hours indicated in various sources (the minimum is 90 minutes). But we certainly enjoyed it and I promised myself I'd be back once the weather is guaranteed!

Back to Ballymacarbry now and soon we found our Glasha Guesthouse, a splendid place with the splendid Olive in good form, tea and cake at the ready and we soaked up the now well-established sun in the well kept enclosed garden with the fountain running. Later, she served us an excellent dish of salmon and we washed that down with very nice organic Verdejo from her short list. Not every guesthouse can offer such a service!
Glasha sunset

Large Bottle
Then she suggested a visit to the pub (three minutes away) but said a drink would only be deserved if we competed another walk, a two mile loop around the country roads. We did that as the sun began to go down and eventually headed to Lonergan’s pub across the bridge. 

No big selection on tap here  as you might expect and so I ordered the large bottle as the locals do. Indeed, I had a works colleague once, from this area, who was known as Large Bottle. Mine was a Smithwick Red Ale #1 and it is indeed a large bottle at 568 mls (and with an abv of 3.8). Very cool and enjoyable after all the walking.

It was then that the swallow flew in, past us and over the head of the only other customer who was reading his paper before circling the small area and exiting out the front door again to join his feathered colleagues in the dusk. The customer didn’t spot the bird but suggested that since it had left so quickly, it hadn’t liked what it had seen!

Anyhow that led to a chat with the customer and the barkeeper about the demise of some birds, including the corncrake. The customer, from nearby Newcastle (Co, Tipperary), said he does hear the cuckoo from time to time. 

That got us on to Old Moore’s Almanac, for some reason. I remember using that little magazine to try and pick (without success) the Grand National winner. It is still being published apparently and its latest success according to our fellow customer was in predicting that Prince Philip wouldn’t be well enough to greet President Trump. I reckon Philip was happy that that one came true!

On this trip:

Plum Wine. Sparkling Apple Juice. The Butler and The Queen. Fruit Cakes and Steeplechasers. All in a Tipp Day-trip

Enjoyable lunch at historic Barron's Bakery
Lonergan's Bar

Monday, July 1, 2019

Enjoyable Lunch at the Historic Barron's Bakery in Cappoquin. Try a Blaa and a Cappoquino!


Enjoyable Lunch at Historic Barron's Bakery in Cappoquin.
Try a Blaa and a Cappoquino!

Last week, while heading east in Waterford, we enjoyed lunch in the café at the famous Barron’s Bakery in Cappoquin. Later that day, a person working in local hospitality asked me why would you stop in Cappoquin: “There’s nothing there. I always recommended Lismore to my guests.” No doubt lovely Lismore, just a few miles further west, has a lot going for it but I rarely pass Cappoquin either.

We had a wee stroll around the town before calling in to Barron’s, a place we’ve visited a few times before. Barron’s Bakery has been operating for five generations, serving only the local community for all those years. Esther Barron, a direct descendant of the founder John Barron, runs the oldest bakery in Ireland with her husband Joe Prendergast.
Salmon Blaa

The baking takes place during the night, using the amazing old-fashioned Scotch Brick ovens. Bread-making here is a slow process but the bread is all the better for it. The bread is two hours in the making before it even gets to the oven whereas a factory process take only 20 minutes. Esther: “Hand-moulded bread is always more flavoursome. The bread can't be rushed. My father used to say ‘the art of bread-making is beyond science’”.

The bakery was established in 1887 and is one of the last bakeries in Ireland that still uses the Scotch Brick ovens. These give the bread a unique taste, flavour and crust as we found out for ourselves when we tasted their Blaa at lunch last week. Along with the Blaa, they produce Pans, Cobs, Grinders, Bloomers, Basket Pans, Brown Sliced, Doorstep Sliced and Stonebaked Pans.

The Coffee Shop, founded by Esther herself, serves breakfast, lunch and snacks all day until 5.30 pm daily, Monday to Saturday. It is a great place to meet friends, enjoy good local food and drink a quality freshly brewed coffee. You might treat yourself to a "Cappaquino" or eat a tasty slice of old fashioned Chester cake. If there's a celebration coming up, you may order your special cake here too. You can also admire some of the stunning photography from "Our Daily Bread” the story of the bakery by Roz Crowley. 
Coronation Blaa

Here’s a flavour from the book: The ovens were turned on each Christmas Day and people brought their turkeys. I loved the smell of the turkeys roasting with their delicious stuffing. We had to call to the houses, about twelve of them, to tell them they were ready. Daddy often got up on St Stephen’s Day to bake if people ran out of bread.

We had a look at the extensive menu here, soups, lots of sandwiches, wraps, quiche and so on but when we saw the specials featuring the famous Waterford Blaa, our orders were confirmed.

CL’s choice was the Fresh Baked Salmon with pickled cucumber and salad. This was served on either brown soda or Blaa and she picked the local favourite. An excellent dish for just eight euro.

My special, even slightly cheaper (7.90), was Coronation Chicken with salad, again on the Blaa. The light curry sauce enlivened it and there was also a small bowl of slaw. Both dishes were well cooked, excellent food at reasonable prices. Good service too.

So, do keep Barron’s and Cappoquin in mind if you find yourself passing through these parts, maybe after or before a trip to the Vee or the Nire Valley.


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Copper Hen Adds a Royal Touch to Tramore Food Scene.


The Copper Hen Adds a Royal Touch
 to Tramore Food Scene.

The Copper Hen has flown its original home at Fenor and has perched in Queen Street, Tramore. And here, in a beautifully decorated building, you may now enjoy the superb food produced by owner-chef Eugene Long and his team. There are no less than three dining rooms in this long town centre building and, when the sun comes out, there’ll be al fresco dining in the garden patio as well.

They seem to have hit the ground running. Despite being newly opened, there were no hitches the other day when we called for lunch. Quite the contrary - everything was perfect, the food and service top notch.

Lunch is offered on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays while dinner’s available Wednesdays to Saturdays (from 5.30pm). You can expect extended opening hours when the holiday season kicks off in earnest. While the quality is very high here, the prices are not. And you can get even better value with the evening Early Bird offer, two courses for €24.00, three for €29.00.

We had spent the previous evening and indeed some of the morning at the West Waterford Food Festival, so weren’t exactly starving when we arrived in sunny Tramore. 

There was a soup on offer but we went straight to the mains. From a good choice we picked what turned out to be two gems. I thought the Beer Battered Cod with lemon mayonnaise and handout chips (€14.00) would be good but the prospect looked even better when the cod ran out and I was “upgraded” to John Dory. Probably, the best fish and chips ever!

We were enjoying the food and the service and a lovely glass of wine. This was the Atlantik Albarino (7.95), aromatic and full of flavour and ideal for fish. The wine list here may not be the longest but it is very interesting (as you’d expect with Wines Direct as suppliers). All are available by the glass, by the way, which is great for the customers. For instance, if you start with mussels and a white, you can order a glass of red for your meat course.

Anyhow, that Albarino was superb with the John Dory and also with CL’s choice: Tiger Prawns tossed with garlic, Gubbeen chorizo and herb butter served with Seagull Sourdough (11.00). Another excellent and very enjoyable dish.

The Copper Hen is a terrific supporter of local produce and you’ll hardly get more local than the sourdough as it is made around the corner in the well-known Seagull Bakery, a very impressive bakery indeed. The Copper Hen make their own brown bread and that went down a treat, not least with a group of American ladies at another table.

Would we have dessert? Yes was the answer, but just the one, to be shared. There was a choice of five, all at €7.50. On the face of it, our Apple and Berry Crumble wasn’t the bravest of picks but it turned out to be a gem, beautifully made and presented - apparently they have a bit of a reputation on this one. If you do get the chance, do order one. One each!

20 Queen Street
Tramore
Co. Waterford
Tel: 051 330179








Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Granville Hotel’s a Superb Base for Waterford Getaway


Granville Hotel’s a Superb Base for Waterford Getaway
Blaa Eggs Benedict at The Granville

I’m sitting in the busy TF Meagher Bar in Waterford’s Granville Hotel, sipping a pint of Helvic Gold Ale by Dungarvan Brewery. The bar is busy, with most of the customers eating from the well-priced bar menu. There are old prints and pictures all over the place, hardly a spare bit of space on the walls. 

One catches my eye. The tour de France is currently running and Carrick on Suir man Sean Kelly is one of the Eurosport commentators. The Granville have a painting of the cyclist when he was a very young competitor indeed. 

Another pic is even more eye-catching. It is a large scale drawing of a group of heads, nine in all if I remember rightly. Who are they? Politicians? Perhaps, but we don't recognise any. We ask the barman and he tells it’s an representation of a bunch of regulars and that a few are still alive. Great to see a bar appreciate their regulars!
Breakfast plaice at The Granville

The Granville is a friendly place, thanks to its staff. Our room is excellent; we have everything we need and a view over the quays where our car is parked for free (thanks to an arrangement between the hotel and the operators). 

We are in Waterford for about twenty four hours and our first stop for grub is at the Candied Hazelnut, a relatively new restaurant on O’Connell Street. Its food is gluten free, peanut free and plant based and the casual and colourful space is fast becoming a favourite haunt for foodies, coeliacs, vegetarians, vegans, plant based people, tea and coffee lovers, and those with a sweet tooth. We enjoyed our meal there and you may read about it here.
O'Connell Street

Mount Congreve view
On recent visits, we’ve seen the three museums (account here) and taken the Waterford Crystal tour (account here). So we headed out to nearby Kilmeaden to visit Mount Congreve House and Gardens. 

Quite a few signed walks on this massive 70-acre estate and of course we took the orange one, the long one. There is a walled garden here, with a frail Georgian glasshouse. But it is mainly about large-scale plantings where some great views open up over the Suir, especially from the Temple. 

The 4-acre walled garden was alive with bees and insects and further into the walk we saw a couple of sturdy rabbits bouncing around in the trees. Later, near the entrance/exit, a fox prowled in the distant corner of a field.

As we finished our walk, we got a fine view of the house itself. There is a excellent café near the garden shop and here we enjoyed a decent cup of coffee but, with dinner not too far away, we avoided the good things. Nearby is the terminus for the Waterford & Suir Valley railway but we had missed the last run at four o’clock. Next time. This picturesque run takes you into Waterford and back, and runs at the margins of Mount Congreve, alongside the Suir and the Greenway.
Your move

The dinner I mentioned would be in Everett’s, another relatively new restaurant here, sited near the Medieval Museum in a very old building indeed and part of it is based in ancient wine vaults. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and the account is here.

It was after that that we enjoyed a spell in the Granville bar. After a good night’s sleep we were ready for breakfast. And what a breakfast you get here in the Bianconi Room, their main restaurant. 

Take the porridge, for example. It is of course the Flahavan’s variety and you can add to it from a selection of Bailey’s Cream, Irish Whiskey, Muldoon’s Waterford Whiskey Liqueur, or Highbank organic Apple Syrup!

It is a fantastic buffet selection and the hot dishes from the kitchen are also top notch, including the Full Irish of course. But being in Waterford, I just had to have a Blaa. And there it was on the menu: Blaa Eggs Benedict Waterford Style (poached eggs and ham on toasted Waterford blaa with Hollandaise). Delighted with it. Maybe Cork Chef Bryan McCarthy should have went with the Blaa in Barrack Street rather than the bao. Blaa Boi would make a good name too!


The Pagoda
Mount Congreve
Full after that excellent breakfast, it was time to say goodbye to the Granville and head west along. And we stayed on the main road (the N25) until just beyond Leamybrien when we turned left on a country road towards Durrow. We were following signs for the Waterford Greenway and soon arrived at the parking area near a bar and shop where you could have a bite to eat and hire a bike.

No bikes for us and we walked along in the sun. For a while. After a few minutes we found ourselves in the Ballyvoile Tunnel, cool and a few drops of water falling down too. Soon we were back in the sun, admiring the countryside and before we knew it were atop the Ballyvoile viaduct where the views improved! Quite a few cycling and not too many walking.

We carried on for another while in the direction of Clonea and, not too far from the viaduct, we got a brilliant view of the ocean. Time to return, we thought, and so we retraced our steps to Durrow, the total walk, a leisurely one with lots of stops for photos, taking just over an hour.
Al Fresco at The Granary

Greenway tunnel
It was getting close to lunch-time and we had just the spot in mind, having read a few days earlier that the Cliff House Bar had introduced a new menu. And a good one it is as we found out as we relaxed on the terrace watching the comings and goings on the blue waters below. A superb finalé - read all about the meal below - to our superb trip to Waterford. 

Also on this trip:

On The Greenway






Monday, August 6, 2018

Everett’s Vaulting To Culinary Peaks. New Waterford Dining Destination


Everett’s Vaulting To Culinary Peaks
New Waterford Dining Destination
Cod
Ireland’s love affair with wine has left a legacy of wine vaults. Some have been converted and are now being used as restaurants, Ely in Dublin and Holy Smoke in Cork spring to mind. The latest are Everett’s in High Street in Waterford who are using the 15th century vaults of a local mayor. 

James Rice gave this wine vault and the dwelling above it to Dean John Collyn on the 6th July 1468 and it was used to house the priests of the new chantry chapel built by Collyn until 1520. Now Everett’s, just opened a few months back and already gaining quite a reputation, are using the building for their 58 seater restaurant. The street level room seats 28 while the vaults below cater for 30.
Knockalara cheese

 It is quite an atmospheric place, especially if there’s a party going on downstairs! But no great point in having a historic venue for your restaurant unless the food is good. And that’s where chef Peter Everett, who owns the restaurant with partner Keith Noonan, comes in. 


The Chapter One trained chef, back in his native Waterford, is using the best of local produce and using it well. Beautifully cooked and presented plates are flying out of the kitchen and the customers are flying in. The menu is short but long on quality.
Rilletes

Three courses here will set you back forty euro. Let me be clear. It is not a set back, it is great value considering the high quality. And I reckon the Pre-Theatre menu is probably even better value. You may like to know that they do lunch on Fridays and Saturdays (not on Sundays).


We called there recently and, after an initial “set back” about the reservation, we settled in and throughly enjoyed the accomplished cooking and the service from start to finish.
beef

 We had five starters to pick from and one was the Knockalara Sheep’s Cheese with pistachio, baby artichoke and roasted red pepper. The cheese, made by Agnes and Wolfgang Schliebitz in West Waterford, was the centrepoint of a delightfully delicious dish.


Our other starter was the Andarl Farm Free Range Pork Rillettes, Cherry, Beetroot and Almond. Another winner, again beautifully presented, a gorgeous toothsome combination. Needless to say, two empty plates went back. And that was to be repeated, twice!
mash
I think there were five mains on for the night and mine was the Striploin and Braised Brisket of Derek Walsh's Beef, Carrot cooked in Ale, Spring Onion. The local beef was spot on, even the carrot in ale was a highlight.


Meanwhile, the CL was happily tucking into her Fillet of Cod, N'duja Crust, Courgette, Samphire, Sherry Sauce. The shimmering cod looked as if it had just been plucked from the ocean outside Dunmore East. And the mash was smoother, certainly more buttery, than an electioneering politician’s words.

Chocolat
Now for the real sweet stuff, the chocolat! At least, pour moi. Opera Chocolate Fondant with Malt Ice-Cream had me singing, well metaphorically so, for I was the class crow, not even allowed in the group - no bum notes allowed in Mrs Shaw’s chorus. 


And there were happy notes coming from across the table as the Fresh Peach Purée, Raspberry and Elderflower combo struck the perfect balance, the Peach on the sweet side, the Raspberry on the tart. Quite a finalé at Everett’s. Just opened in the spring, they may be in their infancy but the stride is already confident, the outlook good.

Also on this trip:
The Candied Hazelnut

Lunch at Spectacular Cliff House

22 High Street
Waterford
(051) 325 174


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Let's Avocuddle at Waterford’s Colourful Candied Hazlenut


Let's Avocuddle at Waterford’s Colourful Candied Hazlenut

The colourful tree, painted between the front door and the window, and climbing up the wall above both, catches your eye as you stroll along O’Connell Street in Waterford City.


There is a plant based restaurant inside and that interior is colourful too, a variety of tables and different coloured chairs, amusingly illustrated cushions scattered around a narrow shelf and a dresser full of pottery pieces.


Even the food is colourful. Gluten free, peanut free and plant based dishes are the order of the day (and of the evening) here and these dishes are full of flavour as well as we found out on a recent lunchtime visit to Teresa Heffernan’s The Candied Hazelnut.

Teresa, the chef/patron, is a busy girl, producing exciting, vibrant and extremely flavourful food using locally sourced produce. The menu changes daily and besides quite a few bits and pieces come from her very own garden.

With a rather big dinner scheduled for that evening, we were looking for something on the lighter side. Teresa has a good sense of humour too. After the first thing on the menu, Soup of the Day, she wrote: it’s too hot for soup folks! And, for most of this July, so it was.


I was tempted by The Bean Taco Fries served with salad (9.95). A terrific combination. The beans were a treat and you’d find it hard to get better fries.
Bean Taco Fries

At the other side of the table, the Blueberry Pancake Stack with Maple Syrup (5.95) was being eagerly demolished. And no shortage of blueberry. A few loose on the plate but plenty buried in the pancakes as well. Very very tasty indeed.

And we washed it all down with a a bottle each of the VitHit Apple and Elderflower (2.95,), a mid-day drink I’m getting to like, despite it costing forty five cent more here than I paid for it in Killaloe the previous week. They also sell bottled beer and wine by the glass and bottle. The wines (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvigon Blanc and Chardonnay) are all Chilean, all by Alameda, available by the bottle (€20), by the carafe and by the glass.

Some tempting dessert here also but we said we’d better give them a skip on this occasion. We certainly enjoyed our visit to this bright and colourful and high ceilinged dining room.

Also on this trip:
Lunch at Spectacular Cliff House
Everett's new Waterford restaurant
Another colourful building on O'Connell Street



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