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Monday, January 7, 2019
Heart of Spain
In the heart of East Cork
You’ll find the Heart of Spain at the very back of the Fota Retail Park (by Cobh cross). And by the Heart of Spain, Alejandro and his friends, mean Castilla y Leon, a big region in the North-West of the country. Speaking of Castilla y Leon, Lonely Planet says “as with most of Spain, food here is an agreeable obsession, promising the country's best jamón (cured ham), roast lamb and suckling pig.”
No roast lamb in Cork but they do have expressions of the other two. The Heart of Spain is the quality seal for Castilla y Leon´s finest food , has a special place amongst those products that bear the name, tradition and history of the farmers that have produced the ingredients they are made with. The eye-catching yellow heart seal certifies total traceability from origin, guaranteeing professionals and consumers alike clearly differentiated quality.
Just to be clear, you won’t be getting food or drink here from all over Spain, just from this region and that yellow seal is stamped with Tierra de Sabor, meaning Castilla y Leon is “a land of flavour”.
Take the cured meats for example. Their supplier, Chacinerías Diaz, manages the entire manufacturing process from breeding and raising their own livestock to producing their own fodder, slaughterhouse and production plant.
You’ll find quite a display of sheeps cheese here for which Pago Los Vivales has been nominated twice at the World Cheese Awards between 2017 & 2018. You can get it at 6 months, 12 months (Reserva) and 18 months (Gran Reserva).
Lots of patés here also, including Foie Gras, made by three French brothers who returned to their parents’ Spanish village in the summer of 1989. Not just duck. They also sell pork paté and Ostrich (the one I bought).
Quite a selection of jams and mermeladas too including Quince Jelly, Tomato Jelly, and a Fig jam that caught my eye. If you call there around lunch-time (from 1.00 to 3.00pm) on Saturdays, you won’t be buying blind. They serve up some lovely tapas, using the cheese and the various spreads. By the way, if you cannot make it to the store, they do have an on-line ordering facility.
And they have a couple of bottles of wine open as well every Saturday, usually one red and one white. The wines are DO Rueda & Ribera del Duero and produced by Emina, based in Valladolid. Got myself a 50cl bottle of their Moscatel - also handy over the Christmas!
And where there’s wine, there’s usually olive oil. And yes, they have Extra Virgin Olive Oil and also Balsamic Vinegar of various flavours.
No huge selection of anything - this is not a supermarket. More like a farmers market. If you have a taste for the real food of Spain, then this is worth a call. And while you are there, don’t forget that, a hundred meters away, the fantastic Bakestone Pantry has well over one hundred Irish artisan products for sale.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Kinsale Bay Food Company
Big Range of Gluten Free Products
I visited the Kinsale Bay Food Company’s premises last week. With a name that includes Kinsale, you'd expect some fish products. And you won't be disappointed. But there are also lots of soups, chowders, patés, even Shepherd’s Pie and Cottage Pie. And all are Gluten Free.
GF is a growing market, and not just for coeliacs! According to a very recent report by Bord Bia, one in five Irish people are regular gluten free shoppers, though if you look at the accompanying infographic you’ll see that it is one in five shoppers. Even so, it is a massive number considering only 1% of the Irish population have been medically diagnosed with coeliac disease.
The Bord Bia insight centre has three tips for producers:
1 Gluten Free brands need to challenge mainstream.
2 Product should not feel like a compromise
3 Emphasise health credentials.
Thanks to Aoife Barry (Market and Area Manager, South-West), I visited the Kinsale Bay facility at Little Island and have been sampling the produce since and it seems to be that they didn't need to be tipped - they are already up to speed.
General Manager Tommy Doyle emphasised freshness. “We worked with local suppliers to get the freshest daily supply of quality ingredients… we don’t store here..by the end of the working day, there may be a half bucket left…Everything we sell is produced here.” Suppliers include Matt O’Connell Seafood, Keohane’s Seafood, Daly's Seafood while fruit and vegetables come from Allfresh Wholesale.
|Some of the Kinsale Bay staff in Little Island.|
Then it is over to the chefs in the Kinsale Bay kitchens, who work in really modern facilities, streamlined from start to finish. There has been a lot of investment over the three years.
And they have developed recipes that are bursting with flavour and texture, which makes eating a gluten free diet an enjoyable dining experience. No artificial preservatives and additives are used thus ensuring the highest quality and wholesome taste. No compromise here.
Eleanor Downes, the Quality Manager, gave me a tour. Precautions are strict here but, booted and suited up, wristwatch off, nothing loose allowed, we started and there would be more changing and hand-washing as we moved from one unit to another.
|Your paté comes with its own relish. Cool!|
Hygiene is paramount, lots of checks during and after production. “With the highest standard of diligence we ensure that no gluten containing products are on the production site, to eliminate risk of cross contamination.” And, while checking the ingredients, I was delighted to see no big confusing words in the lists! No mono-this or poly-that!
And so we moved through the various processes: soup production, chowder filling, regeneration process, blast chilling process, X-Ray (that’s why I left my watch and mobile in reception) and packaging, packing and storage and then dispatch.
The company, then called Blue Haven, started in 2008 selling in a small way at the Kinsale town market. Then they spread their wings, and awards (Great Taste and Blas na hEireann) came their way. About three years back, there was a change of ownership and Kinsale Bay Food Company emerged.
So, what will we start with? A soup perhaps. Quite a choice: Vegetable, Tomato and Basil (might be my favourite!), Carrot and Coriander, Mushroom, Potato and Leek. And the Chowder is excellent too.
Then move on to a paté. Can't wait to try the Smoked salmon. The Chicken liver comes three ways, all smooth, one is just chicken liver, the second with Red Pepper Relish, the third with onion marmalade. By the way, the “jam” is pumped into the small container first, the paté added later; so no need to go and buy a separate relish as it’s included. Very convenient. Very tasty too.
And now lets finish with the Kinsale Fish Pie, a dual award winning recipe based on fresh salmon, white fish, and smoked haddock chunks. Lots of good stuff there and they have recently added Shepherd's Pie and Cottage Pie. New packaging and a new website on the way too so its all happening for Kinsale Bay.
Sunday, February 5, 2017
Delicious Dinner from Cinnamon Cottage
A Very Special Thai Green Curry
A Very Special Thai Green Curry
Isn’t it great to be able to make one single visit and get everything for your dinner, a delicious three course dinner at that. We had that in mind as we recently called to Cinnamon Cottage and a few minutes later it was mission accomplished.
Ali and Pat are well into their second year at the Cottage by now. Pat told us they had a very busy run-in to Christmas as he helped us select. He suggested their readymade Thai Green Curry, their most popular dish. We opted for that.
And it is a beauty, amazingly well balanced between the various flavours and the delicate but definite spice. The Irish chicken was succulent and juicy, the vegetables superb, and that sauce brilliant.
On Pat’s suggestion, we used their White Rice, Wild Rice with the curry. A great and natural match, adding texture, especially from the wild grains. A top notch main course then for two for less than fourteen euro. Very Highly Recommended.
First things first though! What about a starter? Here you can get charcuterie, salads to beat the band, shell fish. There is a packed deli counter there with olives and sun dried tomatoes and more. But we wanted something that is made on the premises and got a tub of their creamy chicken paté, creamy indeed and with a dash of brandy added! We could also have had one of their soups or chowder.
And for dessert, well it had to be cake. After all, that is what Cinnamon Cottage is famous for over the years. Lots of them here, most available by the slice. We were again tempted by the very popular Coconut and Raspberry cake before we settled on a Salted Caramel and Chocolate slice. Quite a unique and delicious cake, rich yet not heavy.
Aside from the curry, they do many readymade meals, including warming soups, chicken and beef dishes and more, and handy side dishes as well. You may pick from fresh or frozen and there are cartons for one or two people. By the way, the Thai Curry is so popular, it doesn't spend long on the shelf! You've been warned.
It certainly made for a very enjoyable high quality meal in this house and so convenient to be able to call to the Rochestown Road venue, with its friendly and informative staff, and get everything you need under the one roof.
See previous post on Cinnamon Cottage here.
The Cinnamon Cottage
Tel: 021 4894922
Mon - closed;