Showing posts with label cafe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cafe. Show all posts

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Monday, June 6, 2016

Cheesemaking Buzz at Toons Bridge. Café And Shop. And A Pizza Oven

Cheesemaking Buzz at Toons Bridge
Café And Shop. And A Pizza Oven
Franco, the maestro, ready to rock 'n roll
It is around noon on Friday and Franco gives the signal. No big noise then but you can feel the creative buzz as the three-man crew swing into action making Mozzarella in the gleaming Toons Bridge Dairy. Amazing to see the trio work from the big floppy cubes of curd.

First the cubes are mechanically diced, then Franco gets his hands on it - the skilled hands of a fourth generation Italian cheesemaker who’s been making cheese since he was eleven - manipulating the curd in
a steaming vat (hot water is being piped in), stretching it to almost unimaginable elastic proportions, then after a little draining off, he hands it on and soon from the little machine opposite emerge those gorgeous little balls.
Awaiting their turn to get to market - Cacio Cavallo mainly.

We are offered a taste. We chew the sample; it is like a milky “meat”! No salt yet. Brineing, a strong one for a short spell (an hour or so), and then it goes into its “transport brine”, the one you’ll see in the stalls the very next day. Toons Bridge Mozzarella is the freshest in Ireland,” says our guide Ronan. “Made today, on sale tomorrow.” Indeed, if you call to their cafe next door, you could well be eating your freshest ever! Some of the whey, by the way, is retained in the dairy and used as a starter for the next batch

We’ll get to the café soon but first there’s much more cheese to be seen and tasted. With no fresh buffalo milk available to them anymore, Toons Bridge have creatively filled the gap by adding a string of gorgeous Italian style cheeses to their range.
Cacio Cavallo
Recently, we featured their Cacio Cavallo as Taste of the Week. They actually make four versions of this cow's milk cheese. Cacio Cavallo can age marvellously, turning the soft, rubbery paste hard and flinty that it needs to be broken in shards. The flavours can be huge, as they harness all of the various raw milk bacteria to ripen the curd.

Franco tolds me that they use a kid rennet (in a paste form) for the Piccante version and also in their Pecorino (we’ll get to that later). He reckons it enhances the fermentation, leading to better flavours. They also do a Mesophilic version. No starter culture at all is used, just a natural slow fermentation of the milk. The result is reminiscent of traditional English cheese such as Caerphilly or Cheshire.
The curd, before it is diced into much smaller pieces
Lots of new words to be learned around here. Another is Scamorza which is a simple stretched curd cheese that is hung (you can see the mark of the string) for a short period of time to air dry. It is similar to mozzarella and melts well. It is sweet and delicate. They do both smoked and unsmoked versions and I must say I enjoy the smoked one (great when stuffing those big flat mushrooms). Pier 26 in Ballycotton have it on their cheese plate.

They also do Halloumi and Ricotta (try with Highbank Orchard Syrup). And then there’s the Pecorino Vincenzo.  Pecorino is the general name for sheep’s cheese in Italy. This pecorino is made in Toons Bridge by Vincenzo to a family recipe from his native Marche region.  Vincenzo has a small flock of sheep nearby and they make this gorgeous Pecorino right here. Another must try from this rural hub of creativity. If you want more details on the cheeses, please click here.
 Time now for lunch in the sun. After all the cheese tasting, we decided on something different.  Most of the staff were getting their pizzas, topped with Toons Bridge cheese of course! Friday is a nice relaxing day here.  Both of us started with a Hummus Plate (two types of hummus, with basil pesto, olives and flat breads from the pizza oven). Substantial and delicious.

The counter was lined with attractive colourful salads (quite a few in the shop for takeaway as well) including Pearled barley, harissa, carrot and dill; pesto, potato and pea; beetroot, quinoa and chickpea, with balsamic dressing; two potato and mint. You could pick any three plus salad leaves for nine euro. We each did just that and enjoyed them in the sun in the garden. Meat Boards and Tapas Plates were also available as were of course the pizzas. Lots of soft drinks too, including my Elderflower cordial, wines by the glass and local beers.

The old stumps - there are 100s-
in The Gearagh
It was a delightful interlude, the lunch well earned we thought! Earlier, after the short drive down from the city we took the familiar R584. This is quite a road if you have time on your hands. Even in a short space, you can call to the Prince August Toy Soldier Factory (a must if you have kids), The Gearagh and Toons Bridge.

Our first stop was at the nearby Gearagh, the only ancient post glacial alluvial forest in Western Europe, a beautiful spot, great for a walk through bushes and trees and wild-flowers and the stump-strewn waters on both sides of your path. Click here for the Discover Ireland listing and a short paragraph of info on this remarkable place.
Looking into the cafe, from our table in the garden;
we were early, the place would soon be full.
 If you want to continue on the R584, there are many more stops to make (including Gougane Barra, Keimaneigh, and Carrigass Castle) before you get to Ballylicky and a stop for refreshments at Manning’s Emporium. For more on the R584, check my post The Many Attractions of Driving the R584

But last Friday, we settled for The Gearagh and Toons Bridge Dairy and Cafe. Well educated and well fed, we headed for home and a sunny afternoon in the back garden!


Three salads

The Gearagh

Walk through The Gearagh

Take a break!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Always Busy at the Bramley Lodge Café

Always Busy at the Bramley Lodge Café
 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!

Bramley Lodge,


Co. Cork.
t: 021 4882499

  • Opening Hours

  • Monday - Thursday 8AM- 7PM Last orders 6PM.
  • Friday - Saturday 8AM-9PM Last orders 9PM.
  • Sunday 9PM - 8PM Last orders 7PM.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Well fed at the Pavilion

Well fed at the Pavilion
Chicken wrap
Many of you will, when travelling in the Carrigaline area and on the Kinsale Road, have seen the signs for the Pavilion in Ballygarvan and will know it is a large garden centre. But did you know that they have a very busy cafe there and also a well stocked food shop?
Smoked salmon sandwich
Called there for lunch recently. In plenty of time, I thought. But, having taken a browse amongst the plants and garden furniture, got quite a surprise when I returned to the cafe area about 12.30 to find a big queue for the goodies.

Olives, pesto and tapenade for sale in the food shop
Took time to study the menu, printed over the serving area on a large blackboard. Decided to go for the Delicious Dill sandwich: Open smoked salmon on homemade bread, with cream cheese, cucumber and dill and a choice of two salads.
Plants and water feature in garden centre
Quite a feed, as was that chosen by CL: Tasty Tarragon, a wrap of Chicken, bacon, tarragon, mayo, lettuce and tomato, not forgetting your choice of two salads. Each cost €8.50. Great value. And value obviously appreciated as many of those in the café came from nearby factories and offices – it’s just about two miles or so from Cork Airport. Service is friendly and efficient – that queue moved quickly.

Also had a look at the food shop. Couldn’t leave without a loaf of Arbutus bread and a pack of those fantastic smoked rashers by Ummera but there is much more there, a lot of it by local producers.

They also have a country store where you may buy unusual items for the house. One display that caught my eye was the unusually shaped soaps crafted by Mianra from Carrigaline.

The garden centre is a big one and much of it is undercover. Hard to resist making a purchase here. In truth, there was no resistance and more was spent on the garden than on the food!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Rural Cafe serves Europe on a Plate

Rural Cafe serves Europe on a Plate
Mozarella to Manzanilla

There is a little red shop and cafe in the countryside on the R584, a fascinating winding road  between Macroom and Bantry. Nothing special here, you might think. You’d be a long ways wrong. For in this little treasure house, you may buy Olives, Olive Oil, Sundried Tomatoes, Dried Fruit and other Mediterranean goodies.

And you will also see Mozzarella and Ricotta on sale here. More from the Med? No, because these gorgeous cheeses are made with milk from the local buffalo, introduced here a couple of years ago by Toby Simmonds (of the Real Olive Co) and local farmer Johnny Lynch.

Was on my way to Killarney last week and decided to make a detour to the shop which is just past the famous Gearagh and on the right immediately after crossing the Toon River. As it turned out, Toby and Jenny Rose were in the café. Delighted to see them.

Toby said they had been “blown away” by the reaction to the recent opening of the cafe, thrilled with the huge local support. Already there are plans for expansion and the Toons Bridge Dairy Shop/Cafe could become a must call stop on the way west. Maybe a full stop!

Jenny Rose: "We sell our buffalo milk produce (mozzarella, ricotta, butter, raw milk, aged cheese, cream cheese and yoghourt) and our Mediterranean foods (olives, oils, Iberico meats etc.). We also provide an outlet for other local artisan producers (De Roiste puddings, Coola cheese, jams etc.). Attached to the old creamery there is a pretty garden, where we grow lots of the herbs and edible flowers used on the olive stalls."

In the cafe, they serve simple food made from the abundant ingredients on site as well as good coffee, organic wine and sherry and scrumptious homemade desserts. We didn’t time it all that well. Would have loved to have had a bigger meal but settled for a small one.

But that small one was unbelievable: mozzarella (so so fresh), tomato and basil. Best ever! And CL was also thrilled with her Toasted Sandwich of Mozzarella, Tomatoes, and a basil pesto, served with a tomato relish. Top class and so too was the coffee. Sadly, we had to leave the collection of cakes and desserts behind us but I’m sure they found good homes.

Jenny Rose and Toby then took time out to show us around the adjoining dairy where the cheese is made, soft cheese and hard cheese. Sean Ferry is the cheesemaker, an experienced operator, previously involved with Gabriel cheese. 

While there is a quick turnaround for the soft cheese, the hard cheese (both buffalo and cow) has to be held for much longer, about eight months for the buffalo and maybe up to three times that for the cow. Sean then took us to the Cheese room where the big rounds mature under ideal conditions.

Back out into the yard then where the vans come and go to the English Market and to the many farmer’s markets that this little dairy serves. 

Time to say goodbye and thanks to Sean and head down a nearby side road to see the buffalo in the fields. Directions were precise and we found them without a bother, thinking all the time that the few people behind this thriving enterprise deserve fantastic credit for the way they have put it all together. And there is more to come! Watch this space.

For us though, the focus was now on the road. Toby obviously loves the countryside around here and strongly recommended we take the route. And it was well worthwhile, even if there was grass growing in the middle. Loved the autumn colours and the views as we headed up through Reenaree and then down into the back of Ballyvourney. 

Hard cheese, buffalo (on top) and cow.

Monday, September 24, 2012

New Cafe at Toons Bridge Dairy

New Cafe at Toons Bridge Dairy

The Real Olive Company and Toons Bridge Dairy this summer opened a little shop beside their warehouse and buffalo dairy in the old creamery,  Toons Bridge, near Macroom, West Cork.
"We sell our buffalo milk produce (mozzarella, ricotta, butter, raw milk, aged cheese, cream cheese and yoghourt) and our Mediterranean foods (olives, oils, Iberico meats etc.) We also provide an outlet for other local artisan producers (De Roiste puddings, Coolea cheese, jams etc.)."
"Attached to the old creamery there is a pretty garden, where we grow lots of the herbs and edible flowers used on the olive stalls."
 On Friday 28th Sept. We will open a cafe in the creamery garden serving simple food made from the abundant ingredients on site as well as good coffee, organic wine and sherry and scrumptious homemade desserts.
Using Our Own Buffalo Milk And Cream
Ricotta cake
Toons Bridge cheese board
Mozzarella salad
Ice cream

Using Real Olive Co. Stuff
Warm crispy Pane carasau with various toppings
Tapas boards
Toasted sandwiches

Please note: Both  shop and cafe will only open Fri, Sat and Sun because the stalls and vans are gone all over the country to markets, the cheese maker has finished his week and all is peaceful at the creamery.

Open Fri. Sat. Sun. 11am-6pm

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Irish Foodie now open in Blackpool


The sun shone as a large attendance gathered in Blackpool on Monday night to celebrate the opening of Irish Foodie, the new cafe and food outlet, run by Teresa O’Brien and daughter Caroline. It was a very enjoyable occasion and we were well plied with goodies, teas and coffees and other drinks as the busy hostess made sure that each and every guest felt at home.

We got in fairly early and had a good look at the products on sale. There are more to come as the new outlet settles in to its new life in the old Sunbeam area where there is no shortage of parking.

Aside from the products on the collage, I spotted a great range of fudge from the Melting Pot, a bunch of products from Kinsale’s Blue Haven, bags of those tasty potato chips by Keogh’s, fruit drinks by DP Connolly and Sons, the handmade Irish chocolates by Chez Emily brought a smile to a few faces, gourmet jams by G’s, gorgeous stuff from Regale Patisserie, and much more. Will have to go back, for sure.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Click on image to enlarge. Top: Bev (right) and Emma welcome guests and, top left,
Brock shows how it's done. Below: guests and staff.


L’Atitude Wine Cafe, on the go at 1 Union Quay, across from City Hall, since early December, officially opened last evening. Joint owners Beverly Matthews and Emma Lagrande were on hand, making sure the party went well. And it did: no shortage of wine, no shortage of tempting food, no lack of general merriment. A great buzz!

Half of Cork’s twitter characters were there and the conversation flowed for well over 140 minutes. I enjoyed mine. Brock of coffee roaster @BadgerAndDodo was the first man I met and he helped serve up some smashing coffee.

The crew from @BubbleBros joined the fun as did a bunch of wine connoisseurs including @theleggalamb, @wineallianceMoz and @marcus_karwigs. Had a great chat with the enthusiastic @biasasta and her husband.

Restaurants were well represented with @Nash19Cork and @AugustinesRest among the attendance. Food suppliers spotted included @TomDurcanMeats and @mccarthykanturk. The press and PR world were well represented by @deshocks and @renatemurphy, among others.

The Wine Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch and light evening meals. The wine menu is on a huge blackboard and there are over 50 carefully selected wines to try, 25 of which are available by the glass, pichet or in a special tasting measure. So: sample and learn!

Not all wine. Stout and lager and local craft beers are also available and of course locally roasted gourmet coffees and speciality teas. The food, described as “deli style”, comes with a strong French and Italian influence but with an Irish thread running through it. Something different and well worth a visit!