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

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



Monday, May 7, 2018

A Couple of Days in West Cork Syrian Food. Manning’s Emporium. An Eagle’s Nest. Burgundy on the Beach. Room with a View. Magic.


A Couple of Days in West Cork
Manning’s Emporium. Syrian Food.  An Eagle’s Nest.
Burgundy on the Beach. Room with a View. Magic.
On Garinish Island, with the Italian Garden in the centre

Mid April and we’re off to West Cork for a couple of days. We get to taste Syrian food in Bandon, lunch at the amazing and expanding Manning’s Emporium, see the eagle’s nest near Glengarriff where we stay and dine at the spectacular Eccles Hotel before a wander around the large and engaging Bantry Market.
Manning's Pizza oven

First stop is in Bandon where we had a little lunch at the Bayleaf (LINK), a restaurant serving a delicious mix of Irish and Syrian food. Then a stroll around the town and a call to Ruth at URRU for coffee and also to check out the shelves stocked well with good food and drink. URRU by the way is expanding, upwards, and Ruth is waiting patiently for the stairs to be installed! It will be an even better place to visit and relax over a cuppa.

Salad at Manning's

The first major halt is at the beachside hotel Inchydoney Lodge, a spectacular place. We are here for the Louis Jadot Burgundy Wine dinner and, before that, a walk on the beach of course.

The Ploughman

The following morning, after breakfast, we decide to take advantage of the emerging sun to walk the beach on the other side of the hotel before heading off west. First stop is at Manning's Food Emporium in Ballylickey. They too have well-stocked shelves, all kinds of food and drink.

Eagle's next, top right
But the major attraction is their expanding outside dining area (they have covered and indoor spaces too, in case of rain!). And we spot their newly installed pizza oven, going down a treat at the weekends.


A little lunch is called for on this occasion and one of us has a plate of crisp and beautiful salad while the other enjoys a delicious Ploughman’s on a baguette. Amazing freshness, colour, flavour and texture on each plate. And the tea was top class also!


On then to beautiful Glengarriff. With the sun in a strong position, it was an ideal day to visit Garinish Island. We got the boat at the lovely Blue Pool and our skipper took great care of us, making sure we had lots of time to enjoy the seals lazing on the rocks and then he pointed out the lofty tree top nest of the sea eagles. Enjoyed the walk around the island - we’ve been there a few times before - especially the climb to the Martello tower and the Italian Garden. 

There is a new attraction here now, a guided tour of Bryce House. You need to plan this into your schedule. It starts at quarter past the hour and takes about 45 minutes. We didn’t have quite enough time but will visit on the next occasion. The ferry charge is 12 euro and there is a 5 euro fee to visit the island.
On Garinish, Italian Garden
 More seals and another look up at the nest (there was an eagle standing there) as we made our leisurely way back to the Blue Pool. Time then to check in at the Eccles. We had specified a room with a view and it was rather special. After a little drink in the hotel's Harbour Bar, we strolled up to the village.

Dinner in the bar (the main restaurant opens for the main tourist season) was excellent. Breakfast was actually served in that lovely main restaurant, the Garinish, and that set us nicely. It was another sunny morning and ideal for a visit to the huge Bantry Market where everything from the best of local food to bric-a-brac is for sale. Well worth a visit.

Links for this visit:
Bantry Market


Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Rich And Famous (and me) Stay At Glengarriff's Eccles Hotel


The Rich And Famous (and me) Stay
 At Glengarriff's Eccles Hotel

I recently added my name to a list that includes William Makepeace Thackeray, George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats and, of more recent vintage, Pippa Middleton. They all stayed at the Eccles Hotel in Glengarriff. The splendidly situated hotel opened in 1745 and is currently undergoing renovation under new owners but is fully open for business.

Visitors are invariably impressed. Thackeray wrote “What sends tourists to the Rhine and Saxon Switzerland? Within 5 miles of the pretty Inn of Glengarriff there is a country of the magnificence of which no pen can give any idea.” There is still a room named after him in the hotel.

Punch Magazine, in a kind of 1870s Trip Advisor review, wrote: Glengarriff – Eccles Hotel, charmingly situated. Facing the bay and on the road. Old fashioned, covered with creepers and roses with bedrooms commanding the bay view. The Eccles is worth more than a passing visit. I am delighted with it. It is, as far as attendance, cuisine, and general comfort the best hotel I’ve been in.

So how did I get on there? Very well indeed. The hotel, just off the main road, is as you probably know situated on a little height overlooking the bay. You will see splendid views even from the bar on the ground floor. Stroll across the road and you may get a boat to Garinish Island and I did just that, taking in the island, the basking seals and the eagle’s nest (a new temporary attraction here).

I stayed in one of the renovated front rooms at €100.00 per night with breakfast; the room had a bay view and cost a few euro extra. While not the biggest, the room (with its old fashioned high ceiling) was very comfortable, nicely decorated and both it and the bathroom were well equipped
Gubbeen crubeens starter

They serve breakfast upstairs in the Garinish Restaurant, a splendid room indeed. And breakfast was rather splendid too, excellent service too. An eye-catching table was laden with all kinds of good stuff: fruit juices, cereals and breads while you could also order something hot, including the full traditional Irish, from the kitchen. My order was Eggs Benedict and that got me off to a good start for the day.

Local producers get a fair crack of the whip here. They featured at breakfast and also in the dinner that we enjoyed, not in the Garinish (which will serve dinner later in the year), but in the Harbour Bar downstairs.
Hake

At first glance, the menu seems ordinary enough but do study the bits and pieces that come with your meat or fish and you will note some combinations that are a little different and, in this case, more than a little better, than usual.

We were by the sea, so you'd expect salmon on the menu. But the Eccles version is something else. I thought it worth exploring and was delighted with my Cork Whiskey and Vanilla Cured Salmon (Braised Barley, Apple, Prawn, Radish, Herb Cream).
Caramel Apple & Raisin Oat Crumble

There’s a pretty good choice here, augmented by specials on the board. Indeed, CL picked from that board on the bar counter and came up trumps with her Herb Crusted Baked Hake, served with a red pepper confit. Both mains were fairly priced in the mid-teens. Other options included steak, chicken, lamb, and burger.
Salmon

No shortage of starters either, including cheese and meat platters with Gubbeen featuring. Gubbeen too in my starter: the flavourful Crubeens (Smoked Gubbeen Bacon Hock, Piccalilli, Gem, Pickled Onion.). CL’s Bantry Bay Mussels came with an rather unusual but excellent Cider, Apple and Barley “sauce”.

Service was pretty good throughout our short stay and the WiFi was excellent in the room. 

Indeed, the only thing on the downside was that they seemed to be running down their stock of craft beer. They had a tap for 8 Degrees Howling Gale but no beer. So we asked for two bottles of the Full Irish - they had just one. In the end we shared a larger bottle of Mountain Man’s Banjo’d and noticed, just as we were about to finish, that it was well out of date. On the other hand and to finish on a good note, we later enjoyed a couple of glasses of the local and excellent Beara Gin.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Inchydoney Island & Maison Louis Jadot. Location and Terroir Combine

Inchydoney Island & Maison Louis Jadot
Stunning Combination of Location and Terroir

Isn’t the Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa one of the best situated hotels in the country? One of the most welcoming too! Can’t recall any other greeting me (and every guest) at reception with a glass of the excellent (and local) Stonewell Tawny. And when you leave, well there is a pot (a very tasty one too) of their own Winter-Berry Jam. 


So now add in a wine dinner with the renowned Maison Louis Jadot and you can understand I was in a foodie heaven. The weather didn’t exactly cooperate (it was about 12 hours behind schedule!) so the event didn't quite live up to the Burgundy on the Beach title but it was top class in every aspect.

The beach-side hotel, miles of sand to each side, supports quite a few local producers and a few were featured in the five course menu. But I spotted many also in the ancillary menus: Kids, Sandwiches, Room Service, and Afternoon Tea. Some of those included were: Clonakilty Pork, Bushby Strawberries, cheesemakers (Coolea, Cashel Blue, and Bandon Vale), Timoleague Ham, Ummera Smokehouse, and Shannonvale Chicken. Breakfast is also quite an occasion, some great choices on the menu (hot and cold) and lovely service in a smashing room.

And that Gulfstream Restaurant, with its windows looking down on the Atlantic,  was also the venue for the Wine Tasting Dinner at which I was an invitee. The guests met in the superb lounge and we were welcomed with some tasty canapés and a cool glass of Chablis, by Louis Jadot bien sur. This bright and fresh wine was just the ticket to get the evening off to an excellent start, the canapés vanishing and the chats starting.
Starter

Marie-Pierre Dardouillet (left), Export Director with Maison Louis Jadot, supported by distributors Findlater's, was introduced in the restaurant before dinner. And, not wanting to interfere with the flow of the dinner, spoke about the three white wines, produced by Jadot from their 250 hectares of vineyard.

The Chablis comes from the northern part of Burgundy, somewhat cooler than the second wine, the fresh and fruity Saint-Véran. This comes from a small village in the Maconnais region, “nice to compare the two, side by side”. Both are produced from Chardonnay. Generally, white wines from here are Chardonnay, reds are Pinot Noir.

Soon we would “meet” the third white, the Meursault, another 100 per cent Chardonnay. This is fermented in wooden barrels and aged 15 months before bottling. “well balanced oakiness, much more complex and deep,” said Marie-Pierre. A beautiful wine, full-fruited bouquet, generous palate and a long finish and a terrific match with the Gulfstream Seafood Assiette.
Seafood Assiette

Now too sure which I was most looking forward to try: the fillet of Macroom beef or the Nuits-Saint-George. The wine is one of the region’s most famous wines, aged in oak barrels for 12 months, deep of colour and flavour. Marie-Pierre: “Lots of structure, tannin. Elegant.” Mais oui!

For our final wine, we moved south from Burgundy to Beaujolais next door and that meant a change of grape from the Pinot Noir of the Nuits-Saint-George to the Gamay.
Fillet

As you might expect, it wasn't any old Gamay (Beaujolais nouveau for instance is a Gamay) but a cru. There are ten crus in Beaujolais and Moulin-a-Vent (Windmill) was where our wine was produced. “The Gamay thrives on the granite soil and this spends 12 months in barrel. It is much more fruit driven and will be interesting with dessert!”, said Maire-Pierre. Probably not the best match but a lovely wine that I more or less held back until my plate was cleared. Then I enjoyed it and its reviving acidity all the more!

And those plates. Thanks to Head Chef Adam Medcalf and his crew, they looked splendid from start to finish.

The starter was Macroom Buffalo Cheese Plate: crisp Feta and polenta, Ricotta pannacotta, Mozzarella and Tomato Tian with beetroot, sun-dried tomato and rocket. 

The fish course was entitled Gulfstream Seafood Assiette and consisted of Ummera Smoked Salmon and crab roulade, sugar cubed salmon, crisp fried squid with a celeriac remoulade, pickled cucumber, quail egg and a bisque reduction.

The came the Roasted Fillet of Macroom Beef with a lobster and prawn crust, fondant potato, celeriac purée, shiitake mushroom and a horseradish cream sauce.

Time then for dessert: Roasted Rhubarb and orange pannacotta with ginger biscuit Ice-cream.

The lovely evening was drawing to a conclusion but Ruth McCarthy, Director of Sales & Marketing at Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa, cheered the guests up with a promise of “many more evenings like this”. Marie-Pierre complimented the hotel kitchen saying the food was "very good". “Hope you enjoyed the wines and see you in Burgundy.” Inchydoney on tour. Now who’s organising that trip.

The Gulfstream Restaurant
Also on this trip:
Syrian Food at Bandon's Bayleaf.
Bantry Market Every Friday