Showing posts with label vegan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegan. Show all posts

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Gallery Is A Natural In Westport. Wine, Books, Vinyl and Chats.

The Gallery Is A Natural In Westport.
Wine, Books, Vinyl and Chats.

We were walking down this narrow alley in the Westport night. And then we saw them. A trio of posh-looking black cats, padding stylishly along as if on, well, the catwalk. Then, simultaneously, they, les chats, executed the smoothest slickest synchronised slow-motion U-turn ever. We knew we were in the right place. We saw the welcoming light in the windows of The Gallery Wine Bar. Our directions had included the phrase “Look out for the cats”. I heard later that one of them is called Pinot Noir.
Peppers and cheese tapa

And inside, you will get various Pinot Noirs amid many listed in a catalogue of terrific wines. Generally though you work off two loose pages which indicate the wines available by the glass. But you needn’t confine yourself to those, good and all as they are. Do check out the full book and look at the shelves on the wall. You may well see something you love as I did when I spotted Ageno from La Stoppa in Italy and the delicious Lettre d’Eloise Chardonnay made by Bertrand Ambroise in the heart of France.

We entered the long and narrow space. It was quiet. But not for long. Owner-operator Tom Ramsell was missing but only for a few moments, chasing down some organic grapes in a nearby shop. We settled in on the cushioned seats, taking in a feast for the eyes and the ears (Tom’s vinyl collection gets a regular outing here). For the eyes, there are shelves of books and bottles; posters all over; take down one of those books if you want to read. Pick up a board game if you’d like to play chess, scrabble, or Jenga or one of the dozens of others available.

Tom, a surfer from Manchester, who found his way here a few years ago, will keep you entertained, telling all about his food, all organic, sourced locally (Dozio’s cheese, for instance) and abroad (rare syrups, a rare black cheese from England’s Wookey Hole). And then the wines will lead to endless conversations especially if you have that extra bit of interest. They have regular tastings here and lots of other events too including live music, record launches and more. It’s a lively spot for sure.

More and more people are arriving and soon the long narrow space is more or less full. By then, we have ordered a couple of tapas and a couple of wines: Bodegas Menade, Rueda ‘Verdejo for her and  Beauregard-Mirouze, Corbiéres ‘Campana’ for me.

The tapas are not small and our two multi-bite selections are Piquanté peppers served with Dozio’s of Mayo soft cheese and a spoon of honey, and a plateful of organic medjool dates with walnuts and served with a rare organic agave syrup.
A most diverse selection of organic, biodynamic, natural and skin contact wines 

There is no cooking here, all dishes are assembled on the counter by  Tom himself. He offers a selection of Vegan Plates and we enjoy the superb Baked Moroccan Falafels (described as an elegant blend of Moroccan spices and chickpeas, red peppers, apricots and dates, served with organic Kimchi and organic “spiritual” salad leaves).

The Gallery is also a venue for chats about the environment and sustainability and the future of the planet. Tom is all for organic and natural and saving resources. He’ll take in any old mugs or cups you don’t want and use them here for teas and coffees. He also runs a refill wine service. Bring your own bottle or use one of his.

And you’ll see his ethical streak in most of the food here especially under the Ethical Meat Dish heading and the Sustainable Fish heading. We shared one of the meat dishes: Labourdette Goose Rillettes. These geese are grown in total freedom on lush meadows and are not force-fed. The dish is served with marinated fig (superb), sweet ready to eat black garlic cloves, Velvet Cloud’s sheep cheese with fig and sultan mini-toasts. Quite a treat!

Bt then of course we had moved on to another round of wine, this time enjoying very much the Cantine Rallo, Ciello Bianco ‘Catarratto’ Terre Siciliane IGP, a lovely white; and the excellent Semplicemente red (his white is terrific too), from the late Stefano Bellotti’s winery in Piemonte. My rosso was on its last legs as Tom passed and, before I knew it, he had topped me up generously with the last bit in the bottle. That’s the kind of place this is. Generous, friendly. If you happen to find yourself in the Westport area, do drop in.

* By the way, if you’d like something warm while here, there’s an arrangement with a local pizzeria. Just have your pizza delivered and you may eat it in the Gallery.

The Gallery Café, Wine and Tapas Bar 
Brewery Lane

The company bikes.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Coop Buzzing on Sullivan's Quay since 1982!

Coop Buzzing on Sullivan's Quay since 1982! 

Mid week in the Quay Coop and there’s a busy lunch service in progress. No menu on the tables so you get your info from the notice boards in the inner of three upstairs room. The outer room, the biggest, overlooks the River Lee. 

Lots of help too from the friendly folk at the serving counter and so we make up our minds pretty quickly, grab a bottle of water from the chill cabinet (plenty of soft drinks there as well) and sit ourselves down with our number on a stick. Wine is also available here, just a few bottles of each colour, all available by the glass.

We don’t have long to wait. We didn’t order a starter. Soups and small salads are available along with a vegan Antipasti Board. Oh forgot to mention - you probably know anyhow - that the Quay Coop (and it is a coop) is a vegetarian and vegan restaurant. And a good one. Food here is fuss free and well priced, well cooked and neatly presented. You are well fed and they make no big no big deal about it, no formality.

Anyhow, our two dishes look inviting and we tuck in. I’m very happy with my Shepherd’s Pie. Puy Lentils are a key ingredient in a tasty mix that also includes, carrots, celery, mushrooms and onions in a red wine gravy topped with root veg mash. Well cooked and well dispatched!

Across the table, CL was happily making progress with her Lasagna composed of Mediterranean vegetables, puy lentils, in a rich red wine and tomato sauce, béchamel sauce with red and white cheddar. Not an iota went back, both plates polished off.

Oh I almost forgot. When you order a main course - and you have quite a choice - you may have two salads of your choice. Or, if you want something hot, as we did, you may have Courgettes in a Tomato and Pesto Sauce along with rustic wedges. Both were excellent.

Coffee is very good here (as it is downstairs in the coffee dock that opens earlier in the morning) so we choose that along with a couple of treats from quite a selection. With everything at hand we sat back, relaxed, and savoured the Apple Crumble and also a slice of Almond Cake along with the coffee. Enjoyed the food and the friendly service.

Quay Coop
Sullivan’s Quay
Phone: +353 21 4317 026

Restaurant Hours: Mon-Sat: 11am - 9pm; Sunday: 12 - 9pm

See recent account of the Quay Coop enterprise, including the wholefood shop and more, here 

Monday, June 3, 2019

Amazing Selection of Produce at Cork's Quay Coop

Cork's Quay Coop
Huge Selection of Produce in this Multi-Roomed Store 
With Arthur (left) before the mid-week breakfast meeting

You probably know where the Quay Coop is. On Sullivan’s Quay. A wren’s flight from the west end of the South Mall. But do you know what’s behind the door? The doors? Here, you may need a guide. Room after room filled with good things: a coffee dock downstairs, a restaurant upstairs. In the maze of the shop, you’ll breads, teas, a health area, and their own products including soups and nut loaf.

You’ll even come across Key Books. It is run by volunteers as a not-for-profit venture, benefitting a range of charitable and cultural ventures the Quay Coop support. Drop into Key Books for a browse – Tuesday to Saturday 12 to 5pm.

Still with me? Now we’re out the back and crossing the street to their production facility. Fr Matthew probably lived on this spot. A later building housed a lap-dancing club. And on this site now, with its contrasting stories, the Quay Coop are modernising their production facility, bringing it  up to the standard and speed necessary to serve the export market. Already, they export to the UK and now the Benelux countries are next in line. They are in fact currently looking for a production manager.

Out here too, you’ll see their electric delivery van, unless of course it is off delivering. They are very happy with this economical and environmentally friendly workhorse which is regularly on the road to their other two shops, one in Carrigaline, the other in Ballincollig.
A fraction of the selection of teas here

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We were here for breakfast and to meet the people behind the venture, have a chat and share tips. We being a blogger or two like myself plus people from various city bodies such as Chamber of Commerce, Cork City Library, the Metropole Hotel and so on, all invited in by Marketing Administrator Mia Tran. 

Arthur, who has been with the Quay Coop since its foundation in 1982, is our guide both to the history and the geography of the very impressive operation. The coop is quite an employer with 70 currently on the books, spread across ten different nationalities.

So the food here is vegetarian and vegan. You could say “alternative” and Arthur says that in the early years they were also a source of alternative information, helping the many backpackers and so on find accommodation and entertainment of their liking. They still do a bit of that but the internet has taken over that function as well.
from the sea

So things have changed, many alternatives now. And the Coop sometimes wonder where they stand now. Because Cork is small, they think everybody “knows about us”. “But do they? And that is why we are reaching out today.” Reaching out with hands full, I hasten to add, as they supplied us with a delicious breakfast, a terrific start to the day.

Arthur and Una and all the staff are rightly proud of their achievements here, especially their exporting business. Their nut loaf is the export star at the moment and you can find it even in Harrods!

On the other hand, Arthur is disappointed that there is no Irish organic vegetable grower capable of satisfying the daily demand in the Quay shops and restaurant. They do deal with quite a few but none have the scale to keep the Quay Coop going every week of the year. There are some though talking to Bord Bia about upscaling and Arthur is hopeful something will come of that.

What can you expect to find in this many-roomed store? Here’s a list that will give you a good idea: organic fruit and vegetables of all kinds, organic wines, fresh bread from our in-house bakery, herbs and spices, an extensive range of gluten-free products, chilled and frozen foods, meat alternatives, environmentally friendly household and cleaning products, health supplements, natural baby products, natural and organic cosmetics.

Upstairs, the restaurant has a diverse menu including a wide range of vegan and vegetarian starters, salads, main courses, specials, desserts, teas and coffees, with plenty of choice for those with dietary requirements, or on a tight budget. It is famous for its fantastic grub, extensive menu and generous portions.
The Coffee Dock in the Sullivan’s Quay Shop offers delicious breakfasts, lunches, sandwiches, salads and desserts; a wide range of vegetarian or vegan. Everything is available to eat-in or to-go.

Since 1982, The Quay Co-op was and is a workers op-operative based on Sullivan’s Quay, in the heart of Cork City. It follows a green policy, in food, in packaging, in energy and transport, and in recycling. Read more about the coop and its philosophy here.  Better still, call in and explore.

Quay Co-op Vegetarian Restaurant, Organic & Health Food Shop,

24 Sullivan's Quay,

Cork City

Co. Cork

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Taste of the Week. Chocolates by the Hungry Crow

Taste of the Week

Chocolates by the Hungry Crow

 Niamh O'Reilly and Mark Stewart are the people behind Clonakilty’s 'The Hungry Crow’ and they make quite unusual and very delicious chocolate. The chocolates are missing just one ingredient: guilt! This ‘Free from’ policy helped them win the 2016 Listowel Food Fair ‘Best Emerging Artisan Food Product’.

And their Free From raw and vegan treats taste every bit as good as they look. Niamh makes her own nut butter and fruit is a very important ingredient.  Hungry Crow produce has no refined sugars, grains or dairy.

I had a few samples of the chocolate at the launch of A Taste of West Cork Artisan Book in the County Hall last week and more again this week when I called to see Mark at the start-up stall in the English Market.
He told me they are about half-way through their six week tenancy so you still have lots of time to call in and try the absolutely delicious chocolate treats, mostly featuring fruit and nut butter, perhaps the best chocolate I have tasted in a long long time.

My favourites are the bigger ones. They are normally built around either figs or dates (no ordinary dates either, these are the highly rated Medjool dates, Hungry Crow get theirs from Palestine). They are irresistible and are our Taste of the Week.

Stay in touch with Hungry Crow on their Facebook page 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Vegan Degustation Menu a Pop-Up Delight

Vegan Degustation Menu a Pop-Up Delight
Clockwise from top left
1st course, 2nd, 3rd, 4th.
Dee's Wholefoods sponsored last week’s National Vegetarian Week, and Dee herself, whose motto is “Goodness is Tasty”, hosted a pop-up vegan dining club dinner in Cork last Thursday.

The advance notice read: “It will take place at a secret location in the City Centre where a minimum 10 course tasting menu will be served in a relaxed and comfortable environment. Guests can enjoy refined plant-based cuisine based on seasonal local ingredients. If you would you like your taste buds tantalised by an innovative culinary experience then come and join us!”

Well, I joined her and it sure was a very enjoyable experience. It was held in the Barden Supper Club in Leitrim Street and every single course of the ten was a treat. And we had good company as well. You can see the menu below.  

Vegan Degustation
Mushroom tempura maki roll sushi, cherry daikon nigiri

Deep fried chilli mozzarella, guacamole & pepper mayo

Cashew cheese, spinach & artichoke mille-feuille, beetroot oil

Asparagus & olive risotto smoked tomato coulis

Bloody mary sorbet

Maple glazed sweet potato with pickled rhubarb

Pan-fried miso’d tofu & kim chee

Cucumber sunomono on Japanese style kale

Wasabi & peanut grilled stuffed aubergine on butternut squash puree,
granny smith salsa

Chocolate coconut & strawberry mousse

Clockwise from top left
5th course, 6th, 7th, 8th
At the end of the meal, we had a chat and Dee asked what was the highlight. Naturally enough, the courses just eaten came up first but gradually we worked our way back through the menu and, in some cases, certainly in mine, every single course had something to enjoy.

Got “ambushed” with the first when I inadvertently picked up a hidden piece of wasabi. That certainly woke up the taste buds. The next two courses were thoroughly enjoyed. Perhaps the Asparagus and Olive Risotto was the highlight of the first half, a really lovely combination of flavors and textures.

Mark Cronin is the expert chef here and has problems getting Irish asparagus and indeed, his is the third kitchen I’ve heard say the same thing over the past week, though the other two were on Twitter. I know Lisheen Organics in West Cork grow some great asparagus but surely there must be other Irish growers.

After an excellent Bloody Mary Sorbet, with its own celery stick, we started on part two and here highlight followed highlight. The pickled rhubarb was an unusual treat as was the warmed Kimchee (a Korean dish). I loved the texture and taste of the kale and then that stuffed aubergine was a delight, enhanced by the Granny Smith salsa.

And then we had that sweet ending. The chocolate and strawberries combined well, as they usually do, and the dusting of coconut was a nice touch. Indeed, the whole event was excellent and demonstrated as Dee said at the outset that you don't have to be a vegan to enjoy this delicious menu.

This is a BYO venue and there is no corkage charge. We brought along the 2012 Little Beauty Sauvignon Blanc, a crisp tropical white that seemed made for the occasion. Importer Maurice O’Mahony of Wine Alliance told me that is “drinking well right now” and he was spot-on. With all the conversation going on, I neglected to take notes on the night but this New Zealand gem is Very Highly Recommended. Wine Alliance stockists
9th course (left) and dessert.

Mark Cronin is adding to his reputation with these vegan menus but he does quite a few styles and his skill is well recognized as parties of restaurant staff are among his clients. Find out more about this interesting club here.  Barden Supper Club, 20 Leitrim Street, Cork.

By coincidence Síle ní Donaile, a member of a Food Club of 8 members, was in touch that very evening. Basically about once a month one of the group hosts an evening, whereby they invite someone to cook and demonstrate what they are cooking to the group. The group then sits down to eat the food, generally a starter of some sort, main and dessert.  The chef demonstrating brings and cooks the food and the hostess provides wine, table set etc.

“So far we have been paying from €35 to 45 pp.  The Chef normally leaves as the mains are dished up so it’s not a late night for him. It’s very casual”. Interested? Then contact Síle at

And I have previously posted about another Cork Supper Club, this run by Ruth Stockdale & Banu Balaji. Read all about the social and local South Indian Supper Club here.