Showing posts with label Woodcock Smokery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Woodcock Smokery. Show all posts

Monday, June 14, 2021

Superb Dining in “Garden Restaurant” at Liss Ard Estate

Superb Dining in “Garden Restaurant”

 at Liss Ard Estate

John Dory

Garden Restaurant at Liss Ard Estate is quite a splendid venue and the food served up by Alex Petit and his team in the bright and high ceilinged L-shaped dining room is top notch. Because of Covid restrictions it is not at full capacity these days but there is still quite a buzz.


We hadn’t been here for a few years and then the meals were based on local produce. And glad to realise, as we read the menu, that the new owners and the new chef have continued on that trail, with top West Cork producers such as Gubbeen, Skeaghanore and Woodcock featured, along with quite a bit of produce from their own walled garden.

Beef starter

Good to see some local beers on the drinks menu even if the only craft beer on draught was the Lagunitas IPA but then the new owners are American, I’m told. I went on to enjoy a bottle of the West Cork Brewery's “The Rapids” Rye IPA and also the Inchydoney Blonde Belgian Style Wit by Clonakilty Brewery.

We had a choice of five starters or Small Plates as they’re called here. The Wild Atlantic Mackerel (with gooseberry jam, pickled radishes, seaweed and Walled Garden potato salad, and dill oil) was eye-catching and palate pleasing. And the West Cork Beef (12 hours braised beef croquette, smoked aubergine yogurt, charred Walled Garden courgette, chimichurri dressing) was another excellent opener. Other starters on the night were Skeaghanore Duck, West Coast Scallops and the vegetarian Walled Garden Offerings.

Pork Belly

They say: “All dishes are inspired by the seasons, harvested from the garden, coupled with the best of local meat, fish & game to bring you the most authentic West Cork flavours. Garden’s ethos combines; supporting small producers, locally sourced ingredients & farm to fork lifestyle.”

And that’s the way it turned out over the enjoyable evening. Five main courses were reduced to four from early in the evening as the Bantry Bay Lamb had sold out. My pick was the Free Range Rosscarbery Pork Belly (Thai spices, roasted turnips, peanut rayu, and fresh apple salsa) a flavoursome and slightly spicy combination and enhanced by a shared side dish of really excellent potatoes.

CL meanwhile was delighted with her Wild Atlantic John Dory. The quality of the fish was certainly respected here by the kitchen and, cooked over charcoal, with Walled Garden beets, dukkha crumb, saffron aioli and on Woodcock smoked mackerel and tomato purée, it proved to be a gem of a dish. West Cork Fillet of Beef and the vegetarian Walled Garden Carrots were other mains available.

There was a hiccup with the service but the faux pas was quickly acknowledged and corrected and indeed, free desserts and coffee were offered. Just room for one dessert though and that was  their own strawberries (white chocolate parfait, caramelised pecan nuts, edible flowers, lemongrass and lime leaf syrup). Smooth and sweet and all’s well that ends well. Other desserts on offer were Dark Chocolate Crèmeux, Walled Garden Rhubarb, Café Gourmand, and West Cork Cheeseboard.

Woodland shortcut back to rooms,
lit up after dinner

After that, we resisted a call to the splendid and comfortable bar and headed off on our 8-minute spotlit walk through the woods to our room at the Lake Lodge. As the name suggests it is at the edge of the lake and has great views over it. It includes six of the estate’s “ 25 oversized guest rooms”. Our room was not one of them; we knew that as it is named “Cozy”. 

Quite a lot of money is being spent at Liss Ard and I’m sure some will find its way to the lodge. If you can’t do without your mobile, this lodge is not for you; the signal is bad, sometimes non existent and the Wi-Fi is not great either, certainly not in Cozy!

The main building, where the restaurant and bar is situated, is quite impressive and here the Wi-fi is fine. You have 163 acres of pristine nature and manicured gardens to explore, a 40 acre private lake to paddle on and it is also home to James Turrell’s renowned Irish Sky Garden.

Breakfast in The Garden

We visited the Sky Garden after breakfast which was taken in the Garden Restaurant. Again, Covid regulations were adhered to, which wasn’t the case in a 5-star hotel in Kerry last summer. There was no buffet but a good mix of cereals and juice and breads was brought to the table on a sharing board and there was a decent choice of cooked dishes to order from.

Weather wasn't the best this June,
so I've pulled out this pic of the lake from Spring 2013 visit.

We were both inclined to go for the pancakes but they were off. Still, I absolutely enjoyed my second choice of Eggs Benedict, perfectly cooked and presented. CL, who picked the Real Beans on Toast (slowly cooked beans in a rich tomato sauce, avocado & tomato salsa, poached West Cork egg, herb oil) was also very well pleased indeed. Other dishes listed included Creamy Porridge, Gubbeen Continental Plate, Union Hall Smoked Kippers and the Full Irish (of course!).

We had visited the Sky Garden eight years back but it still managed to surprise us. After that stroll, we packed the cases, settled up and headed a little deeper into the misty west on the search for Ron D’s Food Truck in Ballydehob!

Swing seat at The Lodge overlooks the lake.

Also on this trip:

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Taste of the Week. Woodcock Smokery Tuna

Taste of the Week
Woodcock Smokery Tuna

On a recent visit to the Woodcock Smokery in Castletownsend, smoker Sally Barnes gave me a piece of her Albacore Tuna to bring home.

It is really amazing; looks as if Tuna is meant to be smoked. Maybe, meant to be smoked by Sally. “It is hot smoked. Our tuna are guaranteed line-caught and are certified by Friends of the Sea.This is a tuna unlike any you have ever tasted. It's a succulent meaty bite with subtle smoke and ocean tastes”

I think that last sentence really sums up our Taste of the Week. We used it in a version of a Salad Niçoise and it was delicious. By the way, if you are looking for Anchovies, you can get very reasonably priced tins in O Português  in McCurtain Street.

Sally uses only wild fish, quite a variety of them, and her products are much sought after by top chefs. And you may read all about her operation here.

County Cork
Telephone: 028 36232 (Ireland)
00 353 28 36232 (International)

You may order online from Sally. Check the products and the prices here.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Good Things Cafe. People Together.

Good Things Cafe
Good Food, Wine, Company
Orange dessert

When we think of international, we think of country: Ireland v Italy in football, New Zealand v Australia in rugby, and so on. In food though, it struck me during an “international” meal in Good Things Cafe, in its sparkling new Skibbereen location, that we should be thinking more in terms of the individuals.

The Colombian farmer who grows your coffee beans, the Irish farmer who raises your free range pigs, the Indian who produces your spices and rices, the organic grower who sends us delicious clean wines and so on. The world is becoming to some small degree a collection of like-minded individuals, a collection of local producers, working hand to hand across the world, and not depending on some giant distributor who’d prefer to have the same food “from Nigeria to Iceland”.*

Orange wine
The conversation though wasn't anywhere near as serious as that. Carmel Somers, the owner of Good Things, got us off to a good start. “One of our growers has just delivered some asparagus. We are serving it with Coolea Cheese and some balsamic. Would you like that?” There was instant international accord.

“This Coolea Cheese? Is that from here?” Italian winemaker Elena Pantaleoni asked me. I had just met the lady from the famous organic vineyard of La Stoppa and she was delighted to hear that Coolea was very local indeed. Among those at the table were Pascal Rossignol, the Frenchman (now well seasoned with Irishness) who runs Le Caveau, and Sally Barnes renowned for her Woodcock Smokery in Castletownsend.

Many tongues, one language
Left to right: Clare, Elena, Billy, Nico, Pascal, Sally, Colm.
Elena’s Trebbiano was already in our glasses and she told me that they also make a sparkling version, “for food”. It is sold mainly in the local area and is great in summer, served a little chilled.

The delicious asparagus was now at the table along with a Mezze plate along with La Stoppa Macchiona 2007. “It is made from the same grapes, Barbera and Bonarda, as the Trebbiano but has spent two years in big barrels. This is the current vintage, it is warm, more powerful, more fruity,” said Elena.
Spectacular seasonal salad
The dishes and the wines, all exquisite, continued to come. Pascal asked Eleana for the story behind the names. Trebbiano is a valley, Macchiona is a very small village, and Agento is the name of the founder of the vineyard, a man from Genoa. The Agento is an amazing wine and not just because of its bright orange colour. The colour, and the extra tannin, come from three months skin contact. "The first Agento was first produced in 2002 so we do not have a long experience of this wine,” said Elena and she recommended serving it at 15 degrees.

By now we were on to our main course. I was very much enjoying my Crab Tart, Salad leaves and a Soda Scone. And that was just one of the many tempting dishes on the menu. Pascal pointed out: “The Agento is very versatile at the table, a wine for sharing!” And Elena echoed that sentiment.

Carmel & Elena

Desserts, like other courses, are somewhat different here at this very highly recommended spot who make a “priority of sourcing locally”. Mine, and it was superb, was an Orange and Rhubarb Salad, with a Coconut and Pomegranate Praline. Finished off the Agento and then moved on to a delightful Malvasia Frizzante! Coffee by the Golden Bean set us up for a trip to sample the fresh Atlantic air at the Woodcock Smokery.

Sally's operation has been going since 1981. She pulled out some kippers, smoked with no dyes, no additives. But she wasn't very happy: “Not a great batch. Herrings can live up to twenty years but there is now a poor population due to intervention on the market by the EU a few decades ago.”

Sally and kippers

Sally, who travels quite a deal in her role in the Slow Food movement, specialises in products from slow-smoked, “fresh wild-caught fish devoid of any artificial additives or preservatives. We don’t use farmed fish; the fish we buy in is caught locally and from sustainable sources.”

She wasn't too happy with bureaucrats in general though she did acknowledge a big improvement in the bluefin tuna population. It’s been a tough enough battle for Sally over the years and no surprise that she and Elena (who also had her battle as detailed in the film Natural Resistance, shown in Cork last week) are friends. Individuals are key, locally and internationally, not countries, not big companies.

  • A quote from the film Natural Resistance. See trailer here

Sally's kit!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Taste of the Week. Focus on Fish

Taste of the Week
Focus on Fish

If you’re a regular here you’ll know that we usually have a Taste of the Week, just one at a time. But, shortly after the marvellous Seafest at Ringaskiddy, we are still on a fish trend and have quite a few tasty bits.

Let’s start with Kilmore Quay Seafood. They had a string of products at SeaFest including fish burgers, even fish sausages. The one that impressed us though was the pack of Haddock Goujons, Hand cut fresh fillets of Haddock tossed in breadcrumbs with a Lemon and Pepper seasoning. (Available Frozen and Chilled).
Quite often, when you buy goujons in a store or order them in a restaurant, you have more breadcrumbs than fish and sometimes have to poke around to find the flesh. Not the case here. The fish is almost bursting out of the crumb and very tasty fish it is too.
Catch 'em young, at Seafest!
We got Smoked Rainbow Trout and Barbecued Rainbow Trout from Goatsbridge Trout Farm. One of the advantages of visiting the Goatsbridge website is that you’ll find a load of recipes there. Mag and Ger Kirwan are the people behind the farm (which you can visit). And another handy product that you can keep in stock is their Tinned Trout. And there's much more, including the much sought after Trout Caviar!

Last but not least we can recommend the products of the renowned Woodcock Smokery in West Cork. “All of our products are from fresh, wild fish caught by sustainable methods. We use no artificial chemicals or dyes, only traditional smoking methods over native hardwoods.” Fish smoked by Sally Barnes and daughter Joleine include Haddock, Pollock, Mackerel (our purchase), Tuna, and Salmon. And the good news is that they run a Mail order service.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Fish sausages, by Kilmore Quay Seafood

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

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

Superb innovative products from IASC

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week
It has been a good week at the table but pride of place goes to this magnificent Beef and Potato Pie from West Cork Pies in Schull. A hungry three man jury gave this flavour packed pastry a unanimous thumbs up! They also produce Pork Pies, Steak and Kidney Pies and Scotch Eggs. They say: What you’ll get from me are good quality, very tasty, products full of substantial ingredients not just cheap gravy and the odd lump of something indistinguishable. Glad to agree. The pies are available at various outlets in West Cork, in various pubs around the city (check the link above) and also at the Fresh from West Cork stall in the English Market.

The verdict may have been unanimous but it was very close. Other top class contenders this week included the award winning Steak Rub from the Cornstore, the fantastic Amodeo salad dressing from Tuscany Bistro and also the gorgeous Wild Smoked Salmon Butter by Woodcock Smokery (Sally Barnes).