Showing posts with label mussels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mussels. Show all posts

Monday, September 17, 2018

Eye-opening Boat Trip on Bantry Bay. Thanks to Diarmaid of the Fish Kitchen.

Eye-opening Boat Trip on Bantry Bay
Thanks to Diarmaid Murphy of the Fish Kitchen.

Last week we found ourselves in a boat in the middle of the Bantry Bay mussel farming area, very extensive, and could see the long lines where blue mussels are placed on ropes that remain suspended in the water. Once the industry was very labour intensive but Diarmuid told us that it is now very much mechanised. In any case, the results are great as we found later that evening in the Murphy’s Fish Kitchen.

If you want a guide to Bantry, land and sea, Diarmaid Murphy of the Fish Kitchen is your man. He has immense experience of the sea, including boats (he is cox for the local lifeboat) and fishing, and allied to that is a love and detailed knowledge of the history of the town and its magnificent bay and its surrounds. Next summer (2019), he plans to do guided trips on his six-passenger rib.
Windy, even inside the harbour wall.
We were delighted with our “preview”. It wasn't the best of days on the bay, far from the worst though, and we were in good hands as we headed out from the new marina that has made a huge difference to boating in the bay. 
From the hotel. The bay looked more benign an hour or so before the trip.
See the green fields of Whiddy and, beyond, the mountains of the Beara peninsula
Having left the Bantry pier and the marina behind - the ferry from Whiddy Island was coming in - we headed towards the left of the island taking a look to the mainland on our left. Diarmuid pointed out the aerodrome where private planes come and go, some from the continent. Nearby too is the Blue Cliff. Not blue during our trip but quite grey. The blue is noticeable when the sun shines.
Homeward bound - the Whiddy ferry

Plan was to do  full circle around Whiddy and get close to the liner over in Glengarriff. But, with the rib hopping off the incessant waves, discretion was the better part of valour so we turned and ran alongside the town side of the long island, meeting the ferry again on its return trip. We saw the local pub, the Bank House.
The Whiddy local

Of course, one of the major historical events in the bay came with the Wolfe Tone attempted invasion in 1796. Unsettled by this, the British ordered the construction of three forts on the island and these were pointed out to us in their hilltop locations.
Cruise liner Astoria in the bay
Over a hundred years later, the USA Navy set up a short-lived flying-boat base here during the great war and the planes were used to hunt German submarines. And in 22 October 1918, Walford A. Anderson (an US flier from Springfield, MO) was killed in a crash, the first ever air-crash fatality in Ireland according to our guide.

There was a much larger tragedy on Whiddy in January 1979, when the oil tanker Betelgeuse blew up at the offshore jetty for the oil terminal on the island. The explosion and resultant fire cost 50 lives.
Mussel farmer at work. Eagle Point in the distance
Soon we were at the other (eastern) corner of Whiddy, we could see across towards Glengarriff and the visiting cruise liner, the Astoria. Diarmuid thought we might get closer from this side but it was not to be as the waves were a little too big so we retreated in the general direction of Ballylickey.
There were plenty of mussel rows here also and we got a splendid view of the Eagle Point Caravan Park; it has a very impressive location indeed and well spaced pitches. No wonder it is a very popular place and locals mark the start of summer when the “Eagle-Pointers” arrive.
Bantry, with the Maritime Hotel on right.
In this area also, you’ll find Donemark (the fort of the ships). Often saw this name on signposts but didn’t realise the legends and history attached to it. Indeed, they say it is the first place that humans (the Milesians) landed in Ireland although there is also a story that a niece of Noah’s landed here much earlier!
Bantry House
Bantry Bay longboats are replicas of the captain’s landing vessel used by the French navy in the 1700s. A longboat from the Wolfe Tone attempt was found in the bay and eventually ended up in Bantry House. There have been international races featuring the longboats and their 13-person crews and again Diarmaid has been involved.
The Blue Cliff
Other points of interest included the very scenic Bantry Golf Club, the hill of Seskin, the various smaller islands, the ruin of the jetty wrecked in the 1979 explosion and more. I may well have missed out on some others as sometimes, with the wind, it was hard to hear each other and it was not a day to be taking notes and not the best of days for photos either. But the whole experience was brilliant, exhilarating for these two ancient land-lubbers.

Thanks a million to Diarmaid and we wish him well on his sight-seeing venture next summer and will let you have details when available.

Read all about our dinner at the Fish Kitchen here.
Reckon this guy would fancy a mussel
The Blue Harvest. The mussels farmed here are Blue Mussels.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Cooking Lunch in Paris

Cooking Lunch in Paris
Poulet Basquaise
Oven Grilled Sardines (Sardines Grillées Au Four)
Mussels with white wine and fennel (Moules Marinières)
Chicken and sweet pepper stew (Poulet Basquaise)
Mini Almonds Cakes (Financiers aux Framboises)

Has a meal ever changed your life? That’s the question posed by Elizabeth Bard, US author of Lunch In Paris. It is not a cook book, even if the menu above was “pulled” from its pages.  It is a love story, with lots of food and quite a few recipes.

It begins with a recipe. Or does it?
“This is amazing,” Elisabeth said. “You have to give me the recipe.”
“There is no recipe,” he said, smiling. “I use whatever I have. It never tastes the same way twice.”
She had no way of knowing how this man, and his non recipes, would change her life.

Each chapter follows the twists and turns of the relationship between the American woman and her Breton lover and later the interaction between her American relations and the French family. It has its ups and downs but mostly it brings smiles. Not least because at the end of each chapter there are a few recipes related, in some way, to incidents in the previous pages.
Elizabeth was puzzled for a long while as to how French women, particularly her mother-in-law,  stayed so slim and able to wear bikinis right into old age. She twigged when a gateau Breton was being shared out. “Une petite part ou une normal?” she was asked. “Normale,’ she replied. It was the wrong answer, if you wanted to fit into your bikini. All the other ladies choose the small portion.

Our starter came at the end of that chapter. I had been hoping to do the sardines but was told “they won't be in until Wednesday”.  Neither dish could be regarded as diet food but both could help you get back into the bikini. The mussels (Pat O’Connell) are basically your normal Moules Marinières, with the addition of a half bulb of Fennel (Superfruit). Recommended wine: El Grano Chardonnay (€14.30 Le Caveau)

Not too clear why the Poulet (Chicken Inn), our main dish, came in where it did. It does follow on from her introduction to that very basic French dish, the andouillette, “a peculiar sausage, roughly cut from the stomach and intestines of the pig”. Another French hurdle jumped by the author.
Peppers drying in Espelette

You'll find lots of Poulet Basquaise recipes on the net. Bard includes peppers from Espelette. I failed to get them in the English Market but Mr Bell had a good alternative in smoked paprika. Recommended wine (will also go well with the mussels): Marco Real Corraliza de los Roncaleses 2012, Santacara (Navarra DO), €15.50 Karwig Wines.

The financiers are usually shaped like a gold ingot but these, like the ones in the book, are round. You can do the little rectangular ones if you have the proper mould! Elizabeth and her husband bought their fianciers at the boulangerie, along with croissants. Again, recipes for these addictive mini-almond cakes are easily found on the internet. Speaking of addiction, the recommended wine is: QA Velenosi Visciole NV, 13.5%, 50cl, €18.95 Karwig Wines.

* As you've realised by now, we didn't actually cook a lunch in Paris. Less than 12 months ago though, we did have lunch cooked for us there by a top Chilean chef, Chris Carpentier, who runs his own restaurant in Santiago and is the man who fronts Masterchef in the country. Check it out here.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Mussel Bites make a Tasty Tuesday Lunch!

Mussel Bites make a Tasty Tuesday Lunch!

The sun was out and about last Tuesday and the garden swing beckoned. And no problem about lunch as I had just arrived in from town with a pack of frozen Mussel Bites. Frozen. Yes, but no problem as these delicious bites can be cooked from frozen.

No need to wash or “beard” these beauties, all the way from Beara, and about 20 minutes later, with some leaves from the garden and sipping from a bottle of Rebel Red Ale by Franciscan Well, we were dining al fresco. Must say that the mussels, covered with multi-grain and garlic, were absolutely delicious and they went down very well with the ale.

With better days ahead, I’ll be sticking a few packs (€4.99 each)  of these in the freezer. They are very handy for a quick lunch and would also make a lovely starter or could even be served tapas style.

Beara Seafoods is a locally-based, family run company.  Its owner Ger Lynch is a fifth generation fisherman with thirty seven years experience in the cultivation and harvesting of mussels.  The mussels used in the product are locally grown on the Kenmare Bay, in SAC approved waters (Special Area of Conservation).  They are cultivated without the use of artificial feed or treatment of any sort and are packed with Atlantic goodness.  The Lynchs have taken a trusted family recipe and combined the two to create our delicious 100% Irish Mussel Bites. 

Helen Lynch told me that the succulent mussels are rolled in multi grain (rolled oats as well as a little rice and wheat) and real garlic is also added.  ”These Mussels Bites are healthy, low in fat and delicious too.  A 100g portion contains only 152 calories and 1.5g of fat; they are also packed with essential fish oils and protein.  What's more, they are very convenient for the modern family; suitable for baking, grilling or frying.  We recommend baking as it's a simple and healthy way of cooking.”

“Our mussels have all the goodness of slow-food without the labour intensive preparation beforehand; a delicious, filling and healthy alternative to the more processed breaded products on the market.”  


Mussel Bites are available in over ten SuperValu branches throughout Munster and Beara Seafoods  intend to expand that list in the coming weeks.  Local (city-based) outlets include: 
Scally's SuperValu on the Mahon Road
Ryan's SuperValu, Glanmire and Grange
Downe's SuperValu, Ballincollig
Quish's SuperValu, Ballincollig
Bradley’s, North Main Street
Keohane Seafoods, Kinsale Road

For info: Contact Helen on 086 169 2816 or Ger on 086 384 5377.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Cornstore ‘September Mussel Festival’ Returns

Cornstore ‘September Mussel Festival’ Returns

The Cornstore Group are getting set to serve a myriad of mussel dishes this September as their annual Mussel Festival returns for its third consecutive year. This autumn celebration of local mussels and seasonal flavours will see fresh Atlantic Mussels, sourced locally from Jamie O’Dwyer in Haven Shellfish, Kinsale, and Sea Lyons in Carrigaholt, Co Clare, served in over 10 different styles, take centre stage across the group’s menus.  

Restaurant goers can look forward to daily specials such as Mussels with carrot & orange with curry butter and coriander, Mussels with sake & pickled seaweed, or the popular Chorizo with tomato, chickpea and basil dish, along with current menu favourites such as the The Full Irish - Mussels with craft cider, Jameson whiskey, black pudding and chive cream.

‘Our September Mussel Festival has proven to be one of the tastiest and most popular times of the year with our customers,’ said restaurateur Padraic Frawley. ‘We’ve got an array of dishes with something to please all palettes, and if you’re not a mussels fan our current menu options will also be available.’  

Specialising in seafood and dry-aged steak, the group’s restaurants are located in both Cork and Limerick. Just last month they launched their Summer Seafood and Infused Cocktail Collection, which has seen both restaurants become a pilgrim destination for many seafood and cocktail lovers.