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

Monday, October 12, 2020

Nduja in Newcestown. On the West Cork Pizza Trail with The Curly Stu

Nduja in Newcestown. 

On the West Cork Pizza Trail with The Curly Stu


The Curly Stu is bringing a touch of Naples to a trio of mid and west Cork villages. We called to Newcestown last Friday evening to see what all the fuss is all about. Stuart Bowes is the man behind The Curly Stu and, we know, from his many years as Head Chef at Barnabrow House, that the Scot is a good one.

He told me: "I left Barnabrow at the end of August so I’m doing the pizzas Wednesdays in Castletownkenneigh (small country pub, Cookies, near my home beside Coppeen). Friday nights I'm in Newcestown in O’Mahony's Bar car park and Sunday evenings in Cloughduv in the Spreading Chestnut pub car park, all from 5-8.''  He keeps Saturdays free for all kinds of private parties and gigs.

He has a regular menu posted up on the side of his converted horse-box and every session he has at least one special and they can indeed be very special. The regulars include Margherita and Pepperoni, both very popular with the younger generation. Also in Newcestown, his Nduja (spicy salami on a Margherita base with fresh chilli, red onion and chilli oil) and his  Smoked Scamorza cheese (again on a Margherita base with roast piquillo peppers and West Cork Garlic scape pesto).

O'Mahony's and the horsebox

We were early and got ourselves one of the picnic tables by the pub. A week earlier, we'd have been able to take our pizzas inside. Still the sun was out as we sat down with the Nduja. We had enjoyed one of those in Barnabrow months ago and this lived up to the memory, absolutely top class with the occasional delicious hits from the Nduja itself.


On then to the Scamorza. Another gem with the Italian cheese a star with the peppers and that garlic scape pesto also playing leading roles. Of course in all his pizzas, that base is out of this world, great for the taste buds and, as you can read below and in his social media, for the digestion. 

At the end of the second pizza, the rain started to come down and as the evening was also rather cold, we decided that discretion was the better part of valour and made a run for it. But not before Stuart boxed a third, the special, for us. We were wondering how it would survive the 40 minute spin home. 

But not a bother.  Just a few minutes in the oven and the Ardsallagh goats cheese on a Margherita base with artichokes and caramelised onion ketchup came up tasty trumps. Another beauty from the Scotsman. That super base, the artichokes adding juice and texture and their unique modest flavour to the pie and the ketchup also pitching in. 

Busy boys

So three pizzas on a Friday night and all three of the highest standard, a standard that you won't find in too many places on these islands. Skill, and attention to detail pays off, quality in quality out. Some very lucky villagers in West Cork.

Stuart confessed: "I’m a man obsessed with the Neapolitan way. Since the lockdown I’ve been doing them Wednesdays, Fridays, Sundays and they were very busy! Since everywhere opened up I’ve managed to keep a lot of regulars and there’s new customers coming so it’s still going very well!"

Goats cheese, artichoke

"The dough is made in the traditional Neapolitan way, so mixed the day before and is generally always kept at room temperature, normally for 24-30 hours. They have a really nice airy puffy crust, a little soft in the middle and are cooked for 60-90 seconds at 420-450 degrees c."

"I’m playing around with the actual fermentation, I was using a sourdough culture before but I’ve been using a (pre ferment) called poolish for the last few weeks and that has given great results. I’m going to try biga next, which is similar to the poolish method, but with half the amount of hydration in the pre ferment."

"I have an Italian supplier that is really passionate about his produce! The flour I’m using is Molino Spadoni PZ4. This flour mill is very well known for their quality in pasta flour, I would have used this in London. The mill is in Ravenna, northern Italy, and only uses Italian grains that are quality controlled and checked."

"The best thing is my supplier organises for me to get the flour straight from the mill now so it is super fresh. You can actually smell and see the difference when mixing the dough!!"

"I have a Sunmix mixer on order. This mixer is known for being one of the best you can buy. It can make and close the dough in 15 minutes so you are not overheating the dough with the friction. These are made to order in Italy. Fifteen long weeks I’ve been waiting so far but it is going to be well worth the wait!!"

The 400 year old village has some food history!

"The Fior Di Latte mozzarella is made in the Campania region - "The mother land of mozzarella" my supplier calls it. There are no chemicals in this cheese and the difference compared with most of the other mozzarellas I’ve tried is very noticeable. The cheese melts nicely and goes stringy when cooked in the high heat and doesn’t colour and go crispy!"

"The tomatoes are certified organic from a company down south of Italy called Manfuso; they have good ethics and all tomatoes are canned on the same day as harvest with no added salt."

"I also get organic extra virgin olive oil, so straight from the first press of organic olives and with no heat."

"Nduja and smoked Scamorza are both becoming well known with the folks here in West Cork and both are really good quality products."

"And then I have Ardsallagh goats cheese, I use West Cork garlic scapes for pesto, I got a load of scapes from him at the end of the season. I have Gubbeen chorizo on the options for weddings. I used Toonsbridge Stracciatella last week for a special, I got Asparagus from Drummond House for a few weeks on special so I’m just trying to work my way around the suppliers around the general area.

Toonsbridge stracciatella special

"The ovens I use are Gozney Roccbox. They are easily portable and a great product that are exceptionally good at keeping the high temperature inside the oven consistent at between 420-450c to get that Neapolitan crust. Especially when I’m busy!"

You'll see those little ovens mounted on the counter, that is if you can take your eyes off the busy chef as he assembles and cooks and talks all at the one time. As we were quite early, we were kind of wondering what all the action was about. But it turned out he gets quite a few advance orders for collections. 

Do watch out for those specials. I'll give you just two examples here.

1 - Braised Ham hock with smoked Scamorza cheese and portobello mushrooms and then finished with a honey mustard mayonnaise.

2 - Toonsbridge stracciatella with roccbox roasted tenderstem broccoli, gremolata and toasted almonds. "Really nice veggie pizza that packs a punch and full of flavour."

And you can check out others on his Insta page thecurlystu

And another thing to watch out for is his offer. All the pizzas are keenly priced but best of all is the standing offer of three for €22.00, terrific value for a family meal on a Friday, a Sunday, or a Wednesday!

The Curly Stu

085 196 0706

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Taste of the Week. Roscoff Onion Soup

Taste of the Week.
French Onion Soup
with Roscoff Onions from West Cork Garlic
Le Yumion Soup
Don't think this has happened before but when something is this good you just got to go with the flow. For the second week running, unprecedented, the source for my Taste of the Week is the same supplier: West Cork Garlic.

Garlic was, as you might well think, was our main target when we called to see Bryn at the Bantry Market. And we did indeed buy a few varieties for planting. But Karen Coakley (of Kenmare Foodies fame) had tipped us off about these sweet melt-in-the-mouth Roscoff Onions.

Like Karen, we are Francophiles, and so we had no hesitation in buying a bagful. Three were put to use this week in  this magnificent French Onion Soup, a potage packed with tempting aromas and very satisfying flavours, and topped with baguettes slices weighed with Gruyere. I know Karen has her own recipe up online (couldn't find it at the time) but this is a mix of a Nigel Slater recipe and one from an undated cookbook titled Le French (A Taste of France).

If you can't make it to the West Cork Garlic stall at Bantry or Skibbereen Farmers Markets (Friday and Saturday respectively), you may order online.

Bryn Perrin
Coolmountain West, 
Dunmanway, West Cork, Ireland
Tel 087 133 3751, Email

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Taste of the Week. West Cork Garlic

Taste of the Week
West Cork Garlic
Bryn of West Cork Garlic in Bantry last Friday.

Probably more like Taste of the Year as the garlic I bought from Bryn Perrin in last Friday’s market in Bantry were bulbs for sowing now and eating from next summer on. Though I did also get some of his Roscoff onions and am very much looking forward to tasting these over the next few days.

But back to the garlic. Bryn, who took over the business from pioneers Axel & Marye Miret (who founded the company in 2010), is quite happy to share his expertise on the subject and will give you lots of advice on planting, growing and harvesting. 
Ready to plant

The first thing to know right now is don’t wait until the spring as most garlic is planted in late autumn and early winter, some varieties as early as September! We bought a few Lautrec and a few Grey Shallot garlics for planting and another one, the Chesnok ­(Hardneck). Already in the ground. Fingers crossed for summer 2019!

If you don’t have the chance to meet Bryn at the markets (he also does Skibbereen Saturdays), do by all means check out the website as they sell garlic bulbs for kitchen and medicinal purposes - and cloves for planting so you can grow your own - all available in handy packs, delivered straight to your door. And there is a page with loads of hints on how to grow your own. And much more, including recipes and garlic gadgets!

Bryn Perrin
Coolmountain West, 
Dunmanway, West Cork, Ireland
Tel 087 133 3751, Email

Monday, January 29, 2018

The West Cork Burger Company. Taking the humble burger to higher levels

The West Cork Burger Company

Taking the humble burger to higher levels

Smoked Shin of Beef Burger
A new entrant has arrived in Washington Street, moving comfortably into the Premier League of the Burger. The early hamburger had typical ingredients of bread, vegetables, and ground meat. It is gone well beyond that now and the West Cork Burger Company, who opened in October, are elevating its status even further.

A hamburger, beefburger or burger is a sandwich consisting of one or more cooked patties of ground meat, usually beef, placed inside a sliced bread roll or bun. The patty may be pan fried, barbecued, or flame broiled. Hamburgers are often served with cheese, lettuce, tomato, bacon, onion, pickles, or chiles; condiments such as mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup, relish, or "special sauce"; and are frequently placed on sesame seed buns. A hamburger topped with cheese is called a cheeseburger. (from Wikipedia)

Last year’s Cork Burger Fest and last week's nationwide event and the competition involved have challenged burger outlets to come up with something a little different. Probably a little early to look closely at this year but last year, with food outlets and butchers joining in the spirit, certainly led to a a lot of innovation locally before Son of a Bun were declared the winner.

And innovation leads me neatly back to Washington Street where co-owner Henry Hegarty proudly introduced me to his line-up last week. No less than five burgers. Henry is planning a new menu in about six week’s time and it will be interesting to see which of the five is selected.

The early favourite, it was ahead on Wednesday, is the Reb-Elvis. “This burger comes with a serious health warning”, Henry said just as we started eating. Keep your finger on speed dial to the emergency department. This burger finished the King and it may just get the better of you too! We teamed up with our friends at Rebel Chilli to create this monster of a burger. We call it, The Reb Elvis! A 6oz patty, peanut butter, raspberry and jalapeno jelly, smoked streaky bacon, Irish cheddar, bacon and fig jam, gherkins and pickled chilli's. Long live the King!

I read the detail, and kept eating. What an amazing feast for a tenner! The jelly, the jam, the heat and, of course, the meat. And the bun, soaking up the juicy bits and the flavours, wasn't half-bad either. 

All local. And, for the Festival Week, sides were included.  My pick, should probably say my kick, was the Kimchi. Spot on. Shared that with CL, and got a bunch of their tasty fries in return. And I also stole some of her pickled Shiitake mushrooms.

My burger was great but we both agreed that hers probably shaded our mini-contest. And we are hoping that it will feature in the new menu. It is the Smoked Shin of Beef Burger: 6oz Patty, black garlic aioli from their friends at West Cork Garlic (great the way they support local producers), smoked chilli jam, sun dried tomato and those pickled shiitake mushrooms. Cheese too of course. This one scored big, well worth its place in the Premier League!

There is a interesting strand in the backstory here. When Henry was a young fellow (he’s not really that old yet!) and travelling with his father they often stopped here in this premises in 6 Washington Street - for a meal. It was then known as the Delphi Palace and the new operators acknowledged that with another of their Festival Five, the Delphi Palace Burger: 6 oz lamb patty, spice rub, black garlic aioli, green chilli, aubergine pickle, rocket and spinach raita.

Also featured was the Chicken Avo Burger - Marinated chicken breast, avocado, tomato, bacon & fig jam, sun dried tomato pesto, cos lettuce & garlic mayo. Back to the east for the fifth burger, the Pork Banh Mi: 6 ounce patty, Vietnamese dipping sauce, carrot and Daikon pickle, cucumber pickle, pickled chillis, coriander, mayo.

Quite a line-up!

* Pics by the West Cork Burger Company.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

FEAST. On the Street. The Main Event

FEAST. On the Street

The Main Event
Family day out. Busy side-street.

From the outset of the rebranded FEAST, Saturday had been billed as The Main Event. And the crowds of people up and down Midleton’s Main Street and side streets and in the Farmer’s Market, demonstrated just that. And, once again, the weather played its part, the odd shower no deterrent at all to those strolling and snacking, and those eating a tad more seriously at the long outdoor table opposite the Restaurant Tent where some eleven restaurants were selling delicious small plates at a fiver each.
Ethiopian stall

But is wasn't just the restaurants. Lots of other food (Green Saffron were busy, as always) available as well under the mainly blue sky. Great too to see the local butchers, including Jim Crowley and Frank Murphy, on the street, bakers too and coffee makers. No shortage of sweet stuff as you made your way between the various hot-spots.
The Granary Crew

The Demo Marquee was a magnet as Bertha’s Revenge Gin, Patrick Ryan’s sourdough, and various chefs, including Ciaran Scully, Lilly Higgins, Kevin Aherne and Martin Shanahan kept the punters entertained. Down in the Distillery, you could enjoy a premium whiskey tasting and Carol Quinn’s talk on the  history of whiskey here for a tenner.

Opposite the restaurant area was where the long table was situated and just beyond there was a packed children's zone with music shows, puppet shows, and amusements. The siting of the table and the amusement space close together was great for parents and I saw more than a few taking turns at the table and then relieving the partner on child duty!

The regular Farmer’s Market was also buzzing. Maybe one day, all will be accommodated on Main Street but on Saturday the traders were doing well. Had a friendly word with the Lobsterman who I’d met in Rostellan the evening before. Baker Declan Ryan was, as ever, on duty at Arbutus stall while Noreen Conroy was as busy and as friendly as ever at Woodside Farm. Nearby, at the Courthouse, the friendly GIY folk were dishing out advice on what to grown, how to grow it and when.
Monkfish, chorizo, flatbread by Samphire (at Garryvoe Hotel)

Back on Main Street, it was hard to make choices. Would have been a gargantuan feat to sample something from all eleven restaurants! And that would leave out all the others. Tough. I had heard on the Twitter that Farmgate’s Chowder was a thing of splendour but by then I had had my fill.

One of the highlights was the Monkfish and chorizo flatbread served by head chef Kevin at the Samphire (Garryvoe Hotel) stand. The crab beignet by Pier 26 went down well. Jack and his team at the Granary Cafe stand were busy and their massive baked Rooster (with Ballinrostig nettle and  cream cheese and Gubbeen chorizo) was quite a treat and I also got a few pastries here to bring home.
Garlic selection

Indeed, that bag for home filled rapidly. Included were the Mango, Peach and habanero chutney a new product from the Rebel Chilli lads, some garlic (including Avram, Lautrec, and Pink Marble) from West Cork Garlic, a bag of Honduran coffee beans from  Badger & Dodo and 30-day aged beef from Woodside. Happy out, as we headed west from F-EAST! Here’s to next year.
Busy butcher Jim Crowley
See other posts from FEAST 2017

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

West Cork Garlic

West Cork Garlic

Great to meet up with Axel and Marye Miret, the people who run West Cork Garlic, at their stall in the Kinsale Farmers Market last Wednesday. They were excited at a recent successful crop but even more excited about next year when thousands and thousands of bulbs will be planted

While they are relatively new to the commercial side of garlic growing, they have for many years been growing garlic successfully in their kitchen garden and soon became as the “Garlic People”. Now their garlic is used in some restaurants and for sale in shops such as URRU in Bandon and in On The Pig’s Back in Douglas. They also sell some handy garlic tools at their market stall and, if you want to sample the garlic itself  in the city centre, check it out at Bradley’s, North Main Street, where I first came across it last Tuesday.

Not alone do they sell garlic but they can also sell you the material to grow your own and are quite happy to dispense advice on how to get the best out if it. “We will be more than happy to share our experience and passion and provide you with all you need to for a successful home crop.”

You can meet them all over West Cork at the Markets: Kinsale (Wednesday), Dunmanway (Thursday), Clonakilty (Friday), Skibbereen (Saturday) and Enniskeane (one Saturday per month). You may also like to look at their website.

If you want to get sowing yourself, you don’t have that much time. Well, don’t wait until the spring as most garlic is planted in late autumn and early winter, some varieties as early as September!

So let us wish the enterprising couple all the best with their big planting next season. They are doing us all a favour. “West Cork Garlic, a welcome home-grown alternative to the Chinese garlic flooding the country,” according to Darina Allen. Import substitution is the name of the game here and we can all play a part, by buying from the Mirets or by planting up a patch in the back garden.