Showing posts with label West Cork. Show all posts
Showing posts with label West Cork. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Clonakilty in 24 Hours. A July Excursion!


Clonakilty in 24 Hours.
A July Excursion!
Clonakilty Black Pudding and strawberries, delicious starter at the Emmet Hotel

Lunch on the beach at The Fish Basket
Mussels (left) and Fish Tacos on the lunch menu at The Fish Basket. Both polished off.

The sun is out as we arrive at Long Strand after the drive down from Cork city. The idea was to have lunch at the Fish Basket which has established itself in a wooden shack on the edge of the beach. But we are a little too early as lunch service doesn’t start until about 12.45am. So that gives us time to take a walk on the long and pleasant beach, taking in the splendid views of Galley Head.

When we get back, the Fish Basket crew, a friendly and efficient bunch, have turned the kitchen after a busy breakfast service and we check out the lunch menu. We went on to enjoy two delicious fish dishes, well cooked and neatly presented. There are a few dozen seats inside and as many outside. Great spot and Very Highly Recommended.

Scannell's, a Bar with a Back-Garden Buzz
Together again, in Scannell's

After lunch we headed back to a private visit to the industrial unit in Bandon where Philip O’Connor and his staff turn out those delicious Seymours Irish Biscuits. By the time we get back to Clonakilty, we agree that we deserve a drink and so we called to Scannell’s who we know, from previous visits, serve craft beer. 

Hardly anybody in the bar but the extensive beer-garden at the back is buzzing. It is the 4th of July and there are quite a few foreign accents and every French person in the area seems to be here. We get a seat at a bench (under the shade in our case) and enjoy some Blacks of Kinsale 1601 lager and also the Franciscan Well Chieftain Pale Ale.

The Friendly and Central Emmet Hotel


Fish for dinner
Our base for the night was the O’Keeffe family owned Emmet Hotel, situated in the Georgian square that also owes its name to the Irish patriot. Lots of Irish patriots honoured in the lovely flower bedecked West Cork town. There is a statue of Michael Collins in the square and nearby streets are named, Ashe, Wolfe Tone, and there are more. Indeed, you may visit the Michael Collins house right here in the square.

This is a small high-ceilinged hotel with 20 rooms, a lovely dining room, a garden room and a garden for barbecues and other events. Might be small but there’s a lot going on here. 

It was long been known as a supporter of local producers and this continues with the likes of Caherbeg Pork, Fresh Fish Deli, Irish Yogurts, Rosscarbery Recipes, ZT Fish Rosscarbery, Gloun Cross Dairy, Shannonvale Foods, Bushy’s Strawberries, Clonakilty Black-pudding, and Clona Dairy listed.
Pancakes with superb local bacon

We had our dinner and breakfast here, both very enjoyable. The Emmet is well worth checking out, a lovely friendly well-run spot right in the town centre.

After that breakfast, we strolled around the Friday Farmers Market, which now sets up in Emmet Square, before our visit to the nearby Clonakilty Distillery, the newest attraction in this lively town. And we had lunch in the distillery’s Whale’s Tail Bistro before a leisurely journey back to the city.

Also on this trip:
Clonakilty Distillery
Bandon's Seymour Biscuits

Monday, July 15, 2019

Seymour Amazing Shortbread Biscuits Travel The World


Seymour Amazing Shortbread Biscuits Travel The World
Philip and stalwart Theresa pack those shamrock shortbreads

“It can be tricky here this time of year with the humidity,” said Philip O’Connor as he greeted us at his Seymour Biscuits production facility in Bandon on a very warm 4th of July. The date is appropriate enough as the USA is one of the countries to which these delicious biscuits are exported. And the shortbread biscuits, in their distinctive shamrock shape, also find their way to the states and other countries as they are widely available in tourist frequented shops (including Dublin’s Temple Bar) and are the best seller.

Philip was working on his coating line when we arrived and we watched as the little discs were covered with chocolate. Not too long afterwards we were tasting the little beauties. Lots of butter here and combined with the chocolate it makes for a beautiful crunchy experience on the palate. And the good news is that Philip is strongly thinking of adding these to his regular products next year.

There is a little story too behind the butter. Philip’s family are farmers and their land is a few miles east of Bandon. Their milk is supplied to a local co-op and it is from here that Seymours buy their butter.

So how did a farmer’s son get involved in biscuit making? “I started working in the car industry, in marketing in Dublin. But, while in college, I always had a hankering to get involved in the food or drink industry, though on the market side.” 

The beginning was small. About 12 years ago, he began making biscuits in the family kitchen on one day a week and began to supplying locally. Then one year later, in 2008, this unit became available and “I jumped in.”

With all of the equipment having to be bought, it was a big gamble, more so as the financial crisis was unfolding. But he stuck it out and survived. Lots of changes over those few years including the demand for gluten free and zero sugar products. “Independent outlets are going off the scene much to my regret. There’s a lot of competition and it is hard to get shelf space. But I have diversified a bit and that helps keep the show on the road.”

Recently has introduced Cheese Sables and these terrific savoury biscuits, excellent as a snack, “are getting nice repeat orders”. So far, he has two versions, the original and one with garden herbs (I really enjoyed that a few weeks back). West Cork cheddar is used in both, so you don’t even have to have cheese in the house!

And he is looking at new lines for next year, maybe with lower sugar (perhaps replacing it with honey or natural sugar). He is doing more too with coffee shops and hotels, and exports are increasing.

And back to the coating line, or the “enrobing” line to give it its proper name. There are not that many of these around and his investment in it has enabled him open up a new opportunity, that of contract coating. Philip though is happy with his business model, “small and niche, high quality, lower sales maybe but with a better margin”.

You’re more than likely familiar with some of his current products. One of my favourites is the Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Bites. Then there are shortbread variations, the original Shamrock that we’ve mentioned, Shortbread Bites, Chocolate and Hazelnut, and the top of the range (usually seen round Christmas) absolutely delicious Social Circles.

And, thinking of presents for someone, home or abroad, take a look at the Spirit of Ireland Biscuit tin,  displaying the iconic Rock of Cashel on its cover, the tin features individually hand-cut round and shamrock shaped Irish butter shortbread biscuits set within a custom made cushion tray. This is a special Irish product to give and receive. No doubt the biscuits will quickly be devoured and the tin kept forever. You can get many of the Seymour products online at https://seymours.ie/6-our-handmade-irish-biscuits 


Seymours Fine Foods Ltd
2 Cloughmacsimon Business Park, Bandon, Co. Cork.

Land line: +353 21 733 1129
Mobile:       +353 86 330 9378

e-mail:  info@seymours.ie
                   
Also on this trip:
Clonakilty Distillery

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Clonakilty Distillery. A New West Cork Landmark.


Clonakilty Distillery. A New West Cork Landmark


The spanking new Clonakilty Distillery, so conveniently situated on the N71 (the main road from the city to West Cork), is well worth a visit as I found out on July 5th. It has its own car park (tour buses accommodated) but we just strolled in from the town - we had booked online a few days earlier. Like most distilleries, there are a number of tour options; basically, the more you pay, the better you taste!
Checking the lauter tun, Paddy (left) and Pedro

Our guide, Paddy Hodnett (the visitor centre supervisor), was in top form as he welcomed up and took us upstairs to begin in a room that displayed the town’s drinks heritage and much more. The display, reinforced from time to time by Paddy, told us of the great brewing companies, including Deasy’s. You need barley for beer (and whiskey) and the climate here, mild and damp, is ideal for the crop. And, uniquely, they had a special sea manure, a mix of seaweed and silt available through frequent clearing of the area’s sea access.

Anyone for Gin School?


Next we were on a mezzanine (railed!) that gave us a great view of the three large stills below. Photos taken, we headed on down to the base of the stills and were filled in on purposes of the various tanks around the place, all part of the process, and were told that Clonakilty use 50% malted and 50% unmalted. 

The distillery’s gin, Minke (named after the whale), is also made here in a much smaller set-up compared to the whiskey stills. Interestingly, two local botanicals  (Sea Pink and Rock Samphire), are used. No less than five separate distillations are required to ensure that the best is extracted from each botanical. Then all five are blended together. “It’s an expensive way to make it but the best way,” said Paddy. The process ensures that the likes of the Sea Pink (with its two week window) is at its freshest best and the use of fresh citrus (rather than dried) gives the Minke an edge as well.

While the gin is selling well you, and distiller Paul Corbett, will have to wait up to two and a half years for the whiskey. They are looking forward to seeing how their own Heritage Barley - the owners, the Scully family, have been farming in the area for hundreds of years - works out. In the meantime, they have finished off whiskey that was sourced elsewhere and we would taste some of those with Paddy guiding us through.
The big three

We started our threesome with the Single Batch, a light to medium bodied spirit finished in a refurbished wine cask. Then a definite step up as we enjoyed the same whiskey but this one finished in a Cognac cask. He kept the best until last. The 15 year old Single Malt was exquisite, rounded, smooth, not too many words needed (just lots of euro!). All the tasting was carried out in the bar, the Speakeasy.
My tasting

Just before, we had seen a film, showing the warehouse on the Scully family farm, out towards the spectacular Galley Head, “perfect to mature fine whiskey”. “We use Country Connections to source the best casks worldwide,” Paddy continued. “though the majority are Bourbon. So our whiskey gets the best possible start. There is minimum filtration…, our commitment to quality is ongoing.”

Clonakilty Distillery founders, the Scully family, have patiently farmed by this coastal land for eight successive generations. And their promise is to use that same patience and attention to detail in the distillery. We wish Helen and Michael all the best in this new venture.
West Cork Crab Salad

After the tour, we called to the shop and bought a bottle of the gin to try at home. By the way, they run a popular Gin School  here with the help of a row of mini-stills. It is a great group experience. So team-building or a stag or hen, why not book in and have loads of fun while making your own gin (you’ll also enjoy a Minke G&T) and then take home your own bottle.

The whale’s tail is a symbol of the distillery and is also the name of its bistro. We called there too - it was lunchtime. And here we found a non-alcoholic gin: the Seedlip Garden Gin with Fevertree Elderflower Tonic, a lovely aperitif.
Gin distillery

This is a large and comfortable restaurant serving lunch, dinner (including Early Bird) and Sunday lunch. It was a gorgeous day outside (they also have an outdoor area for dining) so I was thinking of something light and picked the delicious Cork Summer Crab Salad with mixed leaves, pickled cucumber, croutons and tomatoes. CL enjoyed her Cod Fishcake with pickled cucumber and aioli is typical. 

You’ll see local producers named on the menu and all their beef, chicken and fish is locally sourced. Of course, their own whiskey and gin is here, along with a good wine offering and, again, craft beer from the local brewery. Great to see that support for local. The more we pull together, the further we will go.

Clonakilty Distillery     
Fish cake starter in the Whale's Tail Bistro
The Waterfront
Clonakilty
West Cork
Ireland
51 37`17.21 N
8 53`10.37 W
T: +353 23 884 0635
E: info@clonakiltydistillery.ie

Also on this trip:
Bandon's Seymour Biscuits

Thursday, April 4, 2019

The Celtic Ross Hotel. A West Cork Jewel


The Celtic Ross Hotel 
A West Cork Jewel
Well placed to visit
the treasures of the West Cork coast

Situated between Clonakilty and Skibbereen, the Celtic Ross is a jewel in the West Cork coastal necklace. This is a gem that exudes warmth in every aspect of its hospitality: reception, touring help, accommodation, food and drink. 




The hotel overlooking the Rosscarbery estuary has a splendid location and not just for the immediate views. It is one of the most central places from which to visit the West Cork highlights, from Clonakilty to the peninsulas in the West.
And just on its doorstep it has the beautiful villages of Glandore and Union Hall and coastal walks galore. And if you like a bit of height as you stretch the legs why not head up to Carrigfadda where you get the most splendid 360 degrees views inland and over the sea.
Warren Strand, within walking distance

And another thing about the Celtic Ross, under manager Neil Grant, is their huge involvement in and support for local events, including A Taste of West Cork, the Clonakilty Street Carnival and the prestigious West Cork Sports Awards to name but three. 

And more recently, they have thrown their weight behind a new initiative, the West Cork Farm Tours, that gives you the chance to visit one of five farms in the area. We did a tour recently and you may check it out here.

There is a wide range of outdoor activities available in the area including horse riding, cycling, golf, pitch and putt, woodland trails, garden visits and water sports such as kayaking and stand up paddle boarding.
Dinner in the Celtic Ross

And after all that touring and walking and other activities, you might well like to relax in their leisure facilities.  Let the aches of the day evaporate in the steam room or sauna, take an invigorating swim (15m pool) or unwind with a hot stone massage. As they say: “When you visit us you’ll find everything you need to make your stay as laid-back or as active as you want it to be.”
Celtic Ross is an active participant in the delightful Clonakilty Street Carnival

They support local drink producers in the hotel bar. Whiskey from the West Cork Distillery in Skibbereen and gins from the Beara Distillery are given pride of place here along with quite a few other Irish spirits. And local breweries too are highlighted with beers from Baltimore’s West Cork Brewery and Mitchelstown’s Eight Degrees available, some on draught, some in bottle. And when the sun shines, they have outdoor facilities where you may snack and sip.
Breakfast

And the food is splendid here, its reputation gradually built up over the past few years by hard-working General Manager Neil Grant and Executive Head Chef Alex Petit. Alex now has the considerable assistance of Head Chef Shane Deane. We enjoyed a terrific dinner here recently, details here. And we were able to choose between two very tempting menus indeed. Breakfast is excellent too, mainly from an assisted buffet where everything is kept at optimum temperature. 

They have 66 bedrooms and many enjoy beautiful water views over Rosscarbery Lagoon or Rosscarbery Bay. As well as the double, twin and triple rooms, they also have family rooms, interconnecting rooms and rooms with built in accessibility features.

During our recent stay (March 2019), our room had a view over the lagoon and had everything we needed, including tea-making facilities, iron, hair-dryer, safe. Of course, it had a splendid comfortable bed and was restfully decorated. The bathroom too was top notch. Indeed, the room was faultless, just like the well-maintained hotel itself.
You might see these two on a West Cork Farm Tour
You may check the room rates here at their website. It may be getting on in the year now but do keep an eye out for offers. I spotted my chance in a January Black Friday sale and the B&B cost me about fifty six euro. A very good deal indeed!

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Enjoyable Lifeboat Inn Wine Dinner. Fabulous Food. Superb Wines. Best of Company!


Enjoyable Lifeboat Inn Wine Dinner
Fabulous Food. Superb Wines. Best of Company.
Monkfish and Ripasso de Valpolicella 

I think many of the customers at last week’s superb Rizzardi wine dinner in Courtmacsherry’s Lifeboat Inn had Amarone on their minds. And when the 3CRU 2013 came, it didn’t disappoint. It was introduced, like all the previous wines, by Giuseppe Rizzardi and he gave us a few tips.

“Don’t decant,” he said. “By all means, open it a few hours in advance but don’t decant! Also, don’t serve it too warm. It is our most prestigious wine. Amarone is not a grape, not a region, it is a method, a process. The grapes are picked and then put into boxes that hold 4 to 5 kgs. Some 15,000 to 18,000 boxes are left to dry out in a large room in a method known as appassimento. It takes 2 to 3 months and you end up with less fruit but with more concentrated tannins, more colour, more sugar. It then spends two years in barrel.”

The Rizzardi version, a 2013, was excellent and fantastic match with the Beef Cheek and the pairing was heartily endorsed by the winemaker. But Giuseppe told us that not all Amarones are the same. “Too often is it very sweet and that sweetness covers the lack of other qualities.”

Giuseppi, enjoyed the craic
in Courtmac
Giuseppe is quite familiar with Ireland and did a few summer jobs here in the 1990s and of course he's a regular visitor now to O'Brien's Wine, his distributors here. On arrival the guests were treated to a glass of Rizzardi Prosecco, the famous sparkling wine made from the Glera grape. “This one is smooth and dry, with a little bit bit of character.” He told us they use it as a base for cocktails, “especially Bellini.”

The Italian enjoyed the food and was intrigued by the local Mozzarella in our starter. Pinot Grigio is quite a well-known Italian white and we started our meal with that. “It is not barrel aged, is quite light, made with fruit from the region of Soave. It’s ideal as an aperitif and will go well with soups.” And it went very well indeed with our delicious opener.

Indeed Giuseppe, like the rest of us, was every impressed with the starer, surprised to hear that the cheese was locally sourced “very interesting texture, very impressed”. He told us that a lot of Soave, our next wine, is made but much of it is just for everyday. Theirs comes from a beautiful fortified village in the Classico area and the Gargenega vines are grown on volcanic soil. “Again it is unoaked, a little bit of Chardonnay is blended in.” And he advised against serving this too cold. “You get more flavour as the temperature goes up.” It was paired with the scallops, local and absolutely superb.

So don’t serve the Amarone too warm, don’t serve the Soave too cool. What next? Well a red wine with fish! And the Roast Monkfish paired with the 2013 Ripasso de Valpolicella was a match made in a Courtmacsherry heaven. Again, Ripasso is a method with the grapes “refermented on the skins of the Amarone and then 12 months in big barrels”. “This is a red wine that can be poured cool, at about 14 degrees,” he advised. “Great freshness and acidity and it provides a link between simple Valpolicella and Amarone.” 

And it did indeed go very well with that splendid Monkfish dish. Front of house here is David O’Halloran and he had been giving us some extra details on the dishes. He told us it was a “purposeful decision” to pair the Ripasso and the Monkfish “to show that fish and red wine will go together”. Referring to the Amarone he said that here, in a reversal of the norm, they picked the food to go with the wine, not the other way round. Chef Martin Buckley got out later on and thanked Giuseppe, saying “it was special to have him here tonight”. 

And there was another surprise when it came to the dessert, an excellent chocolate offering as the wine was, believe it or not, a Merlot, the 2016 Clos Roareti. An unusual choice. And an unusual project, according to Giuseppe, that began in 1999 in a region near Verona where there was no Merlot. But they succeeded and produced their first bottles in 2006. “Now (we were drinking the 2016) the vines have matured, there is a good richness and concentration but not too much. It has spent 12 months in barrel and this 2016 is still a baby. Production is limited and the bottles are individually numbered.”

The Menu
Heritage Tomato, Macroom Mozzarella, Hazelnut, Balsamic Dressing
Pinot Grigio 2018

West Cork Scallops, Parsnip, Gubbeen Chorizo, Blood orange
Soave DOP Classico 2016

Roast Monkfish, Risotto Nero, Parma Ham, Confit Tomato
Valpolicella Ripasso 2013

Haulie’s Beef Cheek, potato, Wild Garlic, Grilled Sprouting Broccoli and Carrot
3CRU Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2013

Guinness and Chocolate Cake, Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Clos Roareti Rosso Veronese (IGT) 2016
The Lifeboat Inn
Courtmacsherry
Co. Cork.
For more on the Rizzardi wines, please check the O'Brien website

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Frédéric Desormeaux and his Fantastic Fish at the Mountain Bar.


Frédéric Desormeaux and his 
Fantastic Fish at the Mountain Bar.

French chef Frédéric Desormeaux, well known from his days in Greene’s, is loving life in West Cork. And producing plates of fantastic food in the kitchen of the Mountain Bar in Ardfield. Fifty covers last Saturday night! One hundred and fifty the Sunday before. And the numbers will go up in the summer when Fred cooks outside with customers accommodated in two marquees.

When we arrive in this seemingly isolated country pub, we are presented with the specials board. We know we are in for a treat and, eventually pick the fish specials, as Fred is noted for his fish dishes. 

At the bottom, there is a Buttermilk marinated Southern Fried Chicken Burger, Dubliner cheese and smoky bacon, Brioche bap, aioli, and Parmesan cheese and wedges. Fred likes this, maybe too much! “Never trust a skinny chef,” he laughs. We stick with the fish. I should mention, just in case that you don’t like fish, that the Mountain is also well known for its steak!

We’d never really heard of this pub until recently. But lots of people have, as you can guess by the numbers turning up. It is about ten minutes from Clonakilty, about fifteen from Rosscarbery. There are beaches nearby, some stunning ones, some  fantastic scenery too, including Galley Head. So lots of visitors around and quite a few have holiday homes in the area. 

And, for just over 12 months now, many of them have been flocking to Patrick and Carol O’Sullivan’s Mountain House. The O’Sullivan’s acquired the premises in 2010. Travel The Distance Taste The Difference, they say. We did, on both counts. Not that the distance is all that much: Ardfield is just about 45 minutes from Cork city.

There is a regular lunch menu here including soups, sandwiches, burgers, fish and chips and so on and also a Sunday Lunch. But we didn’t really go past the specials. There was a dish of Quail breasts, confit duck potato croquettes, Turmeric baby pear, broccoli sprout, yogurt and beetroot dressing, light jus. Also one of Chicken, Prawns, Gubbeen Chorizo Caesar salad, crispy potatoes, garlic brioche croutons and poached egg. Pub grub? I ask myself.

My pick is Seared Tuna on a smoked tuna potato salad, pea purée, roast garlic aioli, squid ink tuile (19.95) . A masterly and vivid rendition of the fruits of sea and the garden, the tuna so fresh and flavoursome, the salad a little masterpiece on its own, all topped off with the delicately wrought squid ink tuile. Very Highly Recommended if you get the chance!

Across the table, there was another hymn of praise being murmured as CL engaged with her Fresh Rigatoni Pasta with Salmon, Prawns, Mussels, Gubbeen chorizo cream, Parmesan and Garlic bread.  A magnificent combination, another harmonious song of the sea with that Gubbeen too playing a key role, even the garlic bread was noteworthy. By the way, everything is fresh here, that beautiful pasta was made that morning.

We had a very friendly and helpful server and also a wee chat with a lady who I presume was one of the owners and both seem to be enthusiastic about the food, know the dishes well, always a good sign.

Another chat then with our chef, about old times and new. And what would we have for dessert? There was a choice of three or four. Fred recommended the Tiramisu (made fresh that morning) and I'd seen the Mango Creme Brûlée flying out to a group at a nearby table. So they were the two that we ordered and that we shared. Needless to say, both were superb.

After that excellent meal, we stepped from the restaurant room into the bar and there was Fred preparing a slightly raised section to accommodate the numbers expected that evening. You may also eat in the bar itself. An older gent was tucking in when we first entered and a threesome were eating at the counter as we said au revoir to Fred. Great to hear him say “I’m very happy here”. And many customers of the Mountain will be glad of that as well.

* By the way, if do get to Ardfield, and you should, check across the road from the bar; there is a plaque to a famous English musician, Noel Redding, who came and enjoyed life here. 

Also on this 24 hour trip:
Celtic Ross dinner
West Cork Farm Tours

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Best Pilgrim’s Meal? Rosscarbery. Not Roncesvalles.


The Best Pilgrim’s Meal?
Rosscarbery. Not Roncesvalles.
Tomatoes with Toonsbridge Burrata. And much more!
If you’re on the Camino, on the way to Santiago di Compostela, you will enjoy a Pilgrim’s Meal or two. But no need to go so far. 


Just get down to Rosscarbery to the Pilgrim’s Restaurant in the West Cork village, and you’ll enjoy one of the best meals ever. That has been my experience on a couple of occasions now. The dinner here in this modest 35 seater is superb, the produce sourced and cooked by Mark Jennings, brought together in a splendid serving, is more enjoyable than many highly touted tasting menus.

I know many of us love to check out the menus before we go. Not possible here! They wait until the day, to see what’s best from the fields and hedges, what has come in on the fishing boats, before posting the menu on the restaurant windows shortly ahead of opening. Still, if you check the website here, you will be able to see one or two recent menus and that will give you a good idea.

Roast aubergine, lamb's liver......



Provenance is hugely important here. There are dozens of suppliers listed on the back of the menu, some of them well known such as the local Bushy’s strawberries and Toonsbridge Dairy, others you’ve probably never heard of like Radical Roots from Leap and Ardfield Mountain Honey.

The menu is not long, about three choices under each of the usual headings. Usual headings but not usual dishes. How about a “nibble” of Tatsuta age, ponzu? We enjoyed that, a Japanese style chicken dish, the chicken moist under the crispy coating. Don’t worry if you aren’t familiar with some of the ingredients - they will proactively explain everything to you in a gentle courteous way, without any fuss at all.

After sharing that delicious chicken, we moved on and shared everything else as well! One starter was Roast aubergine, lamb’s liver and tongue, flat bean, cabbage, radish and chilli-sesame oil, basil. Well used to lamb’s liver here but never anything like this in an outstanding ensemble of flavour and texture.



Hake stuffed squash flowers

And on it went. The other starter, if along more expected lines, was also a gem and consisted of Mike’s tomatoes, Toonsbridge burrata, cucumber, brined summer pickles, bay oil, and kale crisp.

They have some gorgeous European wines here. We were wondering what would go best especially since we were sharing. We settled on the Austrian Diwald Grossridenthaler Löss Grüner Veltliner. I always find the GV a very versatile wine indeed and so it proved once again. Most wines here, if not all, are organic.

Time now for the mains. The most spectacular was probably the Battered Hake stuffed squash flowers, prawns, tomato lemon verbena broth, and flat beans. Looked well but tasted even better.


Pudding

Our other mains was the equally satisfying 12-hour Pork belly, wilted greens, potato mash, pickled apple, blackberry, and crackling salt.

Tatsuta age, a nibble
Choices for the finalé include Ices, Puddings, and Cheese. That cheese by the way was the Baked Corleggy Cavanbert. Tempted yes but we left it for another day.

Instead we picked one from Ices: the Macroom Buffalo ricotta ice-cream, Red Star Espresso, Salted Honeycomb. Very enjoyable and our second was rather special, a pudding consisting of Salt Caramel set custard, black pepper chocolate grenache, whipped crème fraiche, and cacao nut crumble sound magnificent.

* Roncesvalles is a Spanish town in the Pyrenees just over the border from France and on the Camino (Santiago is still over 700 kms away).  I drove in there a few years ago from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and asked for the Pilgrim’s Meal. But I was a few hours too early - they serve it only in the evening - and had to settle for a sandwich.




Pilgrim’s Restaurant
South Square
Rosscarberry
Co. Cork

Bookings by telephone only: (023) 88 31796


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Visit Courtmacsherry. Small Place. Lots to see and do.


Visit Courtmacsherry.
Small Place. Lots to see and do.



The West Cork village of Courtmacsherry, just about an hour from the city, is within easy reach for a break of a day or two. Here is what I got up to on a recent visit.

On the way down, I stopped in the lovely well kept village of Kilbrittain. Here they have on display the skeleton of a huge Fin Whale that got stranded on the nearby shore in 2009. 


The impressive skeleton is mounted near a playground. From here, you can take a short woodland walk and see the old Kilbrittain Castle  to your left on the way down. Cross the road to a peaceful spot near a small waterfall. If you feel like doing more walking, there is one through a forest here or you may just prefer to walk back up either via the path you originally took or on the road itself.

If it is dinner or lunch time, then you’ll be in Timoleague in a few minutes. There are a couple of good restaurants here and the one we most recently visited is the excellent Monk’s Lane just about a hundred yards away from the village’s ancient and famous abbey ruins.


Courtmacsherry is just four kilometres away and there is an easy flat walk between the two villages. Courtmac, as most people down here call it, is attractive whether you approach by car or on foot.

We came in by car on this occasion and booked ourselves into the ten room Courtmacsherry Hotel. Small it may be but it has a big hearty welcome for you.
Kilbrittain Walk

If it is Sunday, I’m told they do a amazing fish platter in the hotel. If you’d prefer something lighter at lunchtime, then try Diana Dudog’s Food Depot, a truck which parks up by the beach every Sunday.

Before lunch, or after, you might fancy a walk through the nearby woods. This is something you must do if you come in May as then the flowers of the bluebells and the wild garlic put on a big show here. If you are a “real” walker, then keep going - there’s over forty kilometres of the Seven Heads walk ahead of you!
Wild Garlic in Courtmac wood

Most people will head back to the village, I reckon. And recently quite a few are heading to the newly opened restaurant, The Lifeboat Inn. We enjoyed a lovely evening meal here and also a beer out on their new terrace overlooking the harbour.

if the sun shines, then you have a beach at your doorstep, just outside the hotel. Fancy something more dramatic? Then head over to the spectacular Dunworley beach.
Lunchbox from the Food Truck

Even though Courtmacsherry may not be the biggest place, I know you’ll find your own spots in which to wine and dine in the general area. And be sure to bring those walking shoes. And the camera - sunsets are spectacular down here but I was never up for the sunrise! 

And don’t forget the fishing rods - you can hire a boat and perhaps spot some of those sharks and whales that visit here. A year ago, we saw a basking shark but wouldn’t really have known what it was but for the shouts of some excited locals on the cliffs beyond the walk in the wood.
Donworley. Kids below. Cows above.

And, on the way home, you might fancy calling to the Farmers Market, held in nearby Bandon, every Saturday morning. Clonakilty has one on Fridays. Bandon’s not the biggest a round but the quality is high and you’ll find plenty of good food for dinner and that will save you having to go shopping when you get back home.
Courtmac sunset
See other recent posts from this area:
Courtmacsherry Hotel
The Lifeboat Inn
Monk's Lane