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Enjoyable Lunch at Historic Barron's Bakery in Cappoquin.
Try a Blaa and a Cappoquino!
Last week, while heading east in Waterford, we enjoyed lunch in the café at the famous Barron’s Bakery in Cappoquin. Later that day, a person working in local hospitality asked me why would you stop in Cappoquin: “There’s nothing there. I always recommended Lismore to my guests.” No doubt lovely Lismore, just a few miles further west, has a lot going for it but I rarely pass Cappoquin either.
We had a wee stroll around the town before calling in to Barron’s, a place we’ve visited a few times before. Barron’s Bakery has been operating for five generations, serving only the local community for all those years. Esther Barron, a direct descendant of the founder John Barron, runs the oldest bakery in Ireland with her husband Joe Prendergast.
The baking takes place during the night, using the amazing old-fashioned Scotch Brick ovens. Bread-making here is a slow process but the bread is all the better for it. The bread is two hours in the making before it even gets to the oven whereas a factory process take only 20 minutes. Esther: “Hand-moulded bread is always more flavoursome. The bread can't be rushed. My father used to say ‘the art of bread-making is beyond science’”.
The bakery was established in 1887 and is one of the last bakeries in Ireland that still uses the Scotch Brick ovens. These give the bread a unique taste, flavour and crust as we found out for ourselves when we tasted their Blaa at lunch last week. Along with the Blaa, they produce Pans, Cobs, Grinders, Bloomers, Basket Pans, Brown Sliced, Doorstep Sliced and Stonebaked Pans.
The Coffee Shop, founded by Esther herself, serves breakfast, lunch and snacks all day until 5.30 pm daily, Monday to Saturday. It is a great place to meet friends, enjoy good local food and drink a quality freshly brewed coffee. You might treat yourself to a "Cappaquino" or eat a tasty slice of old fashioned Chester cake. If there's a celebration coming up, you may order your special cake here too. You can also admire some of the stunning photography from "Our Daily Bread” the story of the bakery by Roz Crowley.
Here’s a flavour from the book: The ovens were turned on each Christmas Day and people brought their turkeys. I loved the smell of the turkeys roasting with their delicious stuffing. We had to call to the houses, about twelve of them, to tell them they were ready. Daddy often got up on St Stephen’s Day to bake if people ran out of bread.
We had a look at the extensive menu here, soups, lots of sandwiches, wraps, quiche and so on but when we saw the specials featuring the famous Waterford Blaa, our orders were confirmed.
CL’s choice was the Fresh Baked Salmon with pickled cucumber and salad. This was served on either brown soda or Blaa and she picked the local favourite. An excellent dish for just eight euro.
My special, even slightly cheaper (7.90), was Coronation Chicken with salad, again on the Blaa. The light curry sauce enlivened it and there was also a small bowl of slaw. Both dishes were well cooked, excellent food at reasonable prices. Good service too.
So, do keep Barron’s and Cappoquin in mind if you find yourself passing through these parts, maybe after or before a trip to the Vee or the Nire Valley.
Kinsale’s Engaging Lemon Leaf Café Contender in this week's Burger Fest.
If you are in the Kinsale area and looking for great food in a relaxed atmosphere, serving local ingredients and the finest coffees, teas, breakfast, brunch, lunch and baked desserts, then the Lemon Leaf Café on the Main Street, just three minutes from the big central car park, is the place for you.
You’ll get a big welcome from Tracy Keoghan and from her staff. Tracy has owned and operated the Lemon Leaf since 2010. There are two big rooms here although many customers gravitate towards the glass roofed one, so bright and airy. And when the weather improves a bit, there is an outdoor area too. If you are a regular here, you’ll know all about their Loyalty Card.
A new menu is on the cards from Chef Gavin by the end of January but you can be sure that some old favourites will still be there. The Lemon Leaf had a series of Supper Nights in the run up to Christmas and so successful were these that another is planned for February 17th. Like the others, it will be a single theme (not Valentine’s, I’m told). It will be a set menu, cooked up for you by Claire O’Brien, well-known from her market stall.
The Lemon Leaf is an engaging café, always up to taking part in local promotions. For instance, they are one of Ruth Healy’s Cork Character Cafés (@cuisinecork on Twitter) that, during the past year, highlighted some typical Cork foods, such as Milleens Cheese (April) and Cork’s Summer Bounty (July).
And Tracy has also entered the Lemon Leaf into the national Burger Festival and the entry was on the board when we called so that was my choice for lunch! My Viking Beef Burger was topped with bacon, Jalapeños,Carrigaline Oak Cheese, Baby Gem, Mayo, Avocado, and Tomato, all in a Kaiser Bun served with hand-cut chips. A big one and a very good one. Will surely be a contender!
We had actually started by sharing another dish from the specials board: Flash-fried home-made Falafel on a bed of mixed leaves, pickled cucumber, grated carrot, pomegranate, and poppy seed yogurt. Hummus too. A delicious warming taste of the East on a cold wet day in Kinsale!
CL went for one of regulars on the menu, a regular that most likely to be on the new menu as well. This was the Warm (we were all looking for heat on the day) Spicy Chicken Wrap: Cajun chicken, roasted red peppers, pickled cucumbers, tomatoes & sweet chilli mayo dip, served with organic mixed leaves. Another delicious dish from the Lemon Leaf kitchen, another happy visitor.
And happier again after a shared dessert, a delicious apple crumble, and a large coffee. They do all the coffee styles here and lots of teas too including green and herbal.
Breakfast is 8.30am to 11.30am and you may have anything from Porridge (power porridge, that is) to scrambled eggs to Eggs Benedict. How about Eggs Royale? Two eggs, Ummera smoked salmon on Focaccia with a zesty Hollandaise sauce.Light bites and pastries too, including Sausage Rolls with black pudding. You’ll be set up nicely for the morning! By the way, Breakfast or lunch, you’ll find many vegetarian, gluten & dairy free options in this lovely bright café in the heart of Kinsale.
Lemon Leaf Café
70 Main Street,
Kinsale, County Cork,
Ireland, P17 PN28
Tel: +353 (0)21 470 9792
8:30a-4:30p Monday to Friday
Ballymaloe Cookery School & Gardens. Coffee Break turns into A Day Trip
The cock crows. He always does when I arrive at Ballymaloe Cookery School. Good to be back!
The Food Truck Café in front of the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry has just reopened for the season. So when a friend suggested a mid morning cup of coffee, there was no hesitation. Plan was to be there for just a short interlude but that stretched to a walk in the gardens and part of the farm, and, much later, a return to the Food Truck for a delicious lunch.
A productive day for the panels.
You may have coffee and cafe here from 10.30am until 5.00pm and they serve a light lunch between 12 noon and 3.30pm. First question? What to have with the morning coffee? There is a short list of temptation and the Tunisian Orange Cake was my pick and a good one it was. But it seems the winner on the day was the Gooseberry Compote served with their Jersey Cream Yogurt. Absolutely delicious.
Time on our hands then, time enough for a walk through the garden. There are some 70 varieties of herbs in the herb garden, laid out in a formal parterre edged with box hedges. Plenty of fresh herbs for Ballymaloe House and Cafe and the school.
The Herbaceous Border, planted in 1996, has thrived here, though not without a great deal of care and attention. Deep borders of fabulous perennials and grasses make it one of the very best of its type.
At the end of the border is the Shell House, with shell decoration by artist Blott Kerr-Wilson. We had been in these areas before - read more here.
There is something new, always something new in Ballymaloe where their creatives just do what comes naturally. One striking feature, near the border, is the Garden Amphitheatre, a mini one. But it is capable of holding up to sixty people and is good for a cookery school lecture, even better for a wine tasting and lesson!
The Urban Garden
And not too far away, an Urban Garden was being constructed. The “entrance” sees you going out the back door of your home to see how your plants are coming along. Lots of good ideas packed into the small place, that includes a composting bin, a frame and a little greenhouse. Well worth a look for city-dwellers, even country dwellers whose gardens are on the small side.
Drying in the glasshouse
I mentioned the Jersey cream earlier and soon we were passing those very ladies, at rest in the lush grass. Nearby were the free range pigs, at least the younger ones, a mix of Gloucester Old Spot, Tamworth and Saddleback. They were busy pushing one another near the water trough, looking to cool down on what was a very warm day. One even had his head buried in the wet mud nearby. Not too far away, some young hens gathered in the shade.
I hadn't seen the kitchen garden before so that was next on the walk. All neat and tidy, all organic, lots of vegetables and flowers too for dishes and drinks. And a scarecrow hiding in the high fox gloves!
Oh I almost forgot. We also had a tour though the glasshouse. It was baking! It is a fertile place, again supplying the restaurant, the cafes (both here and at the house), and the school itself of course. Always something being harvested, something being set, everything here is grown from seed and a no-dig policy is implemented.
You may buy a selection of the produce at the shop. I was looking for some honey but none available, not until August. All those stories you hear about bees being weakened by pesticides and other -ides are not fiction. Far from it. But I did get a few things including a white yeast loaf, one of the very best I've ever tasted.
We were just about to go back to the nearby carpark when we realised it was lunchtime. So why travel further? We sat under the canopy opposite the Food Truck for the second time and studied the light lunch menu. It included a Tart of the Day, a Taco and a Salad.
The Taco came with lamb, avocado, rocket, chipotle & horseradish mayo and crunchy veg, all for €7.50. Every single ingredient played a part here and the result was a slightly spicy and full of flavour meal.
CL’s Super Food Salad was served with “Bread Shed” breads and included red lentils, quinoa, haricot, red kidney beans, roast parsnip/beetroot/carrot/red onion/mixed seeds/peanuts (7.00). Massive! Thought she might walk back to Cork after that. But no!
I think Bramley Lodge Café has been perpetually busy since Gillian Kearney opened the café in 2009. It is situated just off the N25 (main Cork-Waterford-Rosslare road) at Cobh Cross. Parking has been improved here, it has long opening hours and so it is a very convenient stop. And a highly recommended one.
My latest visit came this weekend. The welcome is informal but warm, reflecting the friendliness of the staff. By the way, informal doesn't mean inefficient service, far from it. We were immediately directed to a table and soon had the menu and the list of specials and, as it turned out, we ordered mainly from the latter.
Had seen their Cajun style Salmon with a Mango Salsa and Rustic potatoes and seasonal veg (13.95) on their Facebook page earlier and went for that as my mains. It was terrific, cooked and assembled with a light touch, and thoroughly satisfying; it looked well and tasted well.
CL too was very happy with another nicely presented special: Roast Loin of sugar baked Pork with an Apple and Raisin Chutney, served with seasonal vegetables and potato (12.95). An excellent piece of meat and enhanced no end by that beautiful chutney!
My Halloumi affair continued with my starter, this from the regular menu: Grilled Halloumi with organic leaves, char grilled melon, rustic potatoes and honey and citrus dressing (7.95). That dressing was superb and I totally enjoyed the combination of the cheese and the melon, a combination that I haven't come across in recent weeks.
Our other starter was the soup of the day: Broccoli and Courgette (5.50). Much more than the two veg went into this very flavoursome warming bowl.
The café puts much of its success down to using “the best ingredients available from our local producers”. Their website lists Ardsallagh Cheese, Ballycotton Seafood, Riverview Eggs, and Clonakilty Black Pudding among those suppliers and I also noticed Woodside mentioned on the menu.
In addition to the café, they have a food store full of their own and other producers’ good things, a huge range of lovely stuff including cakes, take-out meals, soups and chowders and salads. And, they also do outside catering!