Wednesday, March 6, 2019

A South African to Savour and Sweet from Spain.

This is a very young estate, the first vines planted by owners Brian and Marion Smith in 2007; it is now certified biodynamic. Marion is from Ballyjamesduff and they set up in Elgin having sold their IT business in London to pursue their dream of farming organically. The farm had lain idle for some time and that made it easier to go organic. Marion: “We are living the dream and have wonderful workers here.” 
It is not just vines. Marion is the largest breeder of Dexter cattle (the native Irish breed) in the Western Cape. Sheep “mow” the grass between the vines. Their ducks also help. “These are hatched on our farm and trained to eat pests daily.” Lots of eggs too from the ducks and the chickens.

What does she miss about County Cavan? “I miss the long bright evenings sitting out in Ireland”. Darkness falls rapidly here. Be sure and take a look at the website. Elgin Ridge is a gorgeous place, so many animals.

The name comes from the fact that the vines grow at 282 metres, “the ideal height to create cool climate Sauvignon Blanc in the Elgin Valley. Organic farming gives the wine its elegant and unique flavour”. The vines benefit from the cool afternoon breeze and the proximity of the ocean.

Colour is a very pale yellow. Aromas of peach and apricot, gooseberry too. A vibrant wine, with a beautiful freshness, savoury yet full of ripe fruit. That palate also carries a classic mineral counterpunch and there is a satisfying lip-smacking finish. Highly Recommended.

It is a good food wine, a great match with our local Ardsallagh Ash Pyramid Goats Cheese. Fish (including scallop and squid) and pasta are also recommended.

Heredad de Emina Moscatel Castilla y Leon (Vino de la Tierra), 12%, Heart of Spain (Cork).
This is a sweet wine, not all-out sweet by the way. It is produced from the Muscatel grape; fermentation is halted to leave a natural sweetness; no spirit is added so ABV is in the normal range. It is ideal with desserts and snacks.
Colour is a light straw. Aromas hint at blossom and citrus. Excellent body, white and yellow fruit flavours and the natural acidity kicks in to balance. Use as they recommend (lighter desserts, though) and a glass is excellent too as an aperitif. A lovely little number and Recommended.
  • Didn’t keep the receipt and it is not listed on their website but I think it is priced in the low to mid teens.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Taste of the Week. Ballinrostig Gold Cheese


Taste of the Week
Ballinrostig Gold Cheese
Pic from Ballinrostig Facebook
Just finished a piece of Ballinrostig Organic Gold cheese, a Gouda style cheese mainly made from Jersey Milk, and it’s a beauty! Hand-crafted and packed full of flavour, this high-quality creamy cheese with a rich colour from the Jersey milk is a gem from East Cork and is our Taste of the Week.

Ballinrostig Cheese is owned and run by husband and wife team, Stephen Bender and Michele Cashman, in the small village of the same name.

They’ve been making cheese since 2015. Last year they converted their entire range to organic.  Their basic product is a Gouda style cheese.  The signature cheese is the Gold and our Taste of the Week is a beauty! The Gouda style herb cheese range includes Nettle, Cumin and Red Pepper and Garlic.  In addition they produce an Organic Cream Cheese with Nettle and Garlic, and a Halloumi and a Bán (Feta) cheese.  
I got my Jersey gold in Bradley’s Cork (€4.95 for a good sized wedge) and other outlets are listed here.  

Ballinrostig Cheese
Ballinrostig
Whitegate
Co. Cork
Tel: 087 2773141
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/corkcheese/

Monday, March 4, 2019

Mellot Sancerre. Surprise Tasting In Kinsale's Finns' Table


Mellot Sancerre. Surprise Tasting
 In Kinsale's Finns' Table
On a stony hill in Sancerre

Quelle surprise! In Finns’ Table Kinsale recently, we were delighted to have the opportunity, totally unexpected, to talk with Olivier of Joseph Mellot wines from Sancerre. 

It was late in the evening when Olivier arrived but he was as enthusiastic as if it were a sunny morning by the banks of famous Loire. 

“It’s a very long story,” he said, referring to the family’s history in the area. It began in 1513! In the 17th century, the family obviously knew their wine well enough for César Mellot to be appointed sommelier to Louis XIV, this paving the rue for a long dynasty of passionate winemakers. Sancerre by the way, is as close to Paris as it is to Tours and then too the kings regularly visited the chateaux on the Loire.

In the 20th century, Alphonse Mellot, is the first winemaker of Sancerre to exhibit his wines at the Foire de Paris and to win several medals in wine and culinary events. He then opened a warehouse in the Halle aux vins of Bercy to develop his sales in the capital. 

Nowadays, Joseph Mellot wines are sold in over 40 countries, and distributed here in Ireland by Longueville Wines. And Longueville was represented in Finns Table by none other than Eoghan O’Hea who I hadn’t set eyes on since his Tennents days.

The soil of course goes back even further, tens of millions of years. “The ocean has been here twice,” said Olivier. Flint dominates the soil now and it and Sauvignon Blanc get on very well together. “It is a well draining soil, gives lots of aromatics and minerality. Last but not least, the sun warms the stones and if you walk in the vines at 11.00pm, you’ll find it 2-4 degrees warmer then elsewhere as the warm stones return the heat to the vines. The night-time warmth encourages the grapes to ripen, an earlier harvest. Amazing.”

The Mellot vineyard is on hills in Sancerre, at 450 metres altitude, above the River Loire which still has some 500 kms to travel before it reaches the Atlantic. Wine-Searcher says Sancerre is typically less "obvious" than the most famous New World styles of Sauvignon Blanc; less grassy than those from Marlborough and less overtly citrussy than those from Chile. Once upon a time, Sancerre made mostly red wines but now their Pinot Noir accounts for just about 20% of wine. But that may change again with global warming!

Julie Finn had been gently and generously introducing us to the wines before Olivier’s arrival. The red was Le Connétable, Cuvée Prestige, a red Sancerre of character! The fruit is raised on those hillsides rich in flint. It is matured in oak barrel for one year, local French oak that is, and then one year in bottle before release. 

It boasts an aromatic persistence with notes of blackberry and cherry.  Matched perfectly my starter of beef brisket and CL’s main course of lamb.

We also enjoyed the Domaine de Bellecours 2016, a delicious Sauvignon Blanc with a pale gold colour and aromas of tropical fruit. Palate shows elegant balance of freshness and fruit. Superb with the restaurant’s Oysterhaven mussels starter and later with the Seafood Bourride (Provencal fish stew).

Cuvée Pierre Etienne 2015 is another Sauvignon Blanc, smooth and elegant and quite a treat. Beautiful yellow/golden colour, sign of the ageing in barrel which has also tamed the strong mineral character of the younger wines. Generous and intense, with a nice aromatic persistence. 

This cuvée was created in tribute to the founder of the Mellot dynasty, Pierre Etienne, and his descendants. It is vinified only in the best vintages and just 3,000 bottles are produced. The front and neck labels are reproductions from the 1930s. We were really privileged to sample this on the night! A mega merci to Julie and John!







Montenotte Hotel's Afternoon Tea with a View


Montenotte Hotel's Afternoon Tea with a View

The Montenotte Hotel have been offering an Afternoon Tea treat for the past two years. They had a rather special February offering, both an acknowledgement of the food bounty of the county and a tribute to the local Cork Chamber who are celebrating 200 years. The menu included local delicacies from Milleens cheese and Gubbeen chorizo bites to Tanora paté de fruit and Toonsbridge Ricotta cake. 

The offering followed traditional lines, moving from the savoury to the sweet. There were sandwich style bites with Ardsallagh and Milleens cheeses, followed by Cork Gin Trifle, Murphy’s Stout (the cream!) Chocolate Tart, Barry’s Tea Crême Brulée and the sweetest of finishes featuring Tanora Paté de Fruit and Midleton Rare Whiskey Fudge.

You’ll take your Afternoon Tea in the Panorama Bistro and Terrace which overlooks the river and the city. Of course, the mix of bites will change from time to time and in line with the seasons but it is always quite an occasion. So do take it easy, enjoy the food, the company and the view. Maybe treat yourself to an upgrade with a glass or two of Prosecco or Champagne.

We didn't have the bests of days when we took up the invitation to try it out last Friday - it lashed outside. But we were warm and comfortable inside as we started on the lower tier with those very tasty Finger Sandwiches. Tier 2 had the Selection of Mini Pastries including their macaron and delicious scone with jam and cream.

The highlight was, of course, the top level, with all kinds of sweet things, even strawberries slices and cream and also those outstanding Handmade Truffles (with a drop or two of whiskey in the mix!). No shortage of tea, of course, or coffee if you prefer.

And if you have too much - it’s entirely possible - the Montenotte are well prepared for that too. They have a lovely carry-box so that you can take any of the goodies home with you. This is an occasion where you can truly have your cake and eat it (later, if you like!).

By the way, I had an evening meal in the restaurant here a few months back. It's well worth checking out. Details here.
Evening starter: Roast Jerusalem Artichoke and Shallot Jam Tart with walnut ricotta

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Liberty Grill. Best of Food. Warmest of Welcomes.


Liberty Grill. Best of Food. Warmest of Welcomes.

Liberty Chicken

Céad Míle Failte. A worthless cliché? Certainly not at Liberty Grill, busy from early ’til late in Cork’s Washington Street. We called in for our 5.15 booking on a recent Friday and got the warmest of welcomes. And that chatty approach, studded with vital info about the day’s specials, continued from start to finish. We met three helpful and knowledgeable front-of-house people during our meal before we were waved off with cracking smiles. And, I’d better mention the food was superb as well.

The place was packed at 5.15pm. “You should have seen earlier in the afternoon,” our server said. “When I came on it was like Christmas. Great!” So if you’re thinking of going, then be sure and book ahead.

Just earlier we had been in the English Market, buying our Saturday dinner meat from O’Mahony Butchers. Eoin served us his special (pork steak stuffed with Italian sausage and wrapped in Parma ham) and when we mentioned Liberty Grill tipped us off that his 35-day aged rib-eye was on special and was worth looking out for.

So we did, and I ordered it. The Rib-Eye special was one of six listed and the full description was: Char-grilled 10 ounce rib-eye on the bone with Café de Paris butter or Béarnaise sauce, served with sautéd mushrooms and onions, oven-roasted cherry tomatoes and French Fries. I choose the Café de Paris and medium. 
Mexico

I knew immediately I saw it that I was on a winner. Then touched it with the knife and the gentlest of pressure produced the tastiest biteful ever. Amazing steak, one of the very best I’ve had. Everything on the plate was perfect, the button mushrooms, the sweet onions. And terrific value at €22.90!

I wasn’t the only happy camper at this stage as CL was thrilled with her chicken. This was also a special: Amalfi Chicken (16.90), chargrilled supreme of free range East Ferry Chicken served with a warm salad of baby potatoes, spinach, sun blushed tomatoes, roast peppers, and tapenade. This had all the flavour and colour of a Mediterranean dish in the grey dusk of this northern city, a beautiful combination of tastes and textures, so well assembled, so well cooked, the chicken itself juicy, a plateful that illustrates fully that buying the best of local and treating it properly from delivery to the fairly-priced plate will keep the customer happy.

Liberty has always been well-known for its burgers and, while there is mega competition in the field, they are still very popular here. The choice is wide. Aside from six or seven on the regular menu, there were two on the specials: a spiced honey Halloumi (honey from their own hive in Fountainstown) and also a Sienna Beefburger featuring chuck steak and Toons Bridge Smoked Scarmoza.

We didn’t get to the desserts but did enjoy a couple of lovely starters, each from the regular menu.   I fancied the Mexican Mille Feuille description: Crispy tor­tilla lay­ers of tem­peh, gua­camole and salsa (6.50). A little bit of spice, a little bit of sweet, lost of textures and colours, an excellent starter. CL also enjoyed her Small Plate of Crushed tomato and avocado toast (5.00).

BRUNCH · LUNCH · DINNER
32 WASHINGTON STREET, CORK
TEL: +353 21 427 1049


After Liberty, we walked to the “back” of the block to Impala, the new craft beer pub in Liberty Street. Buzzing, just managed to get two seats at the counter. Was looking for the February Flagship special, a pint of Sierra Nevada for a fiver. But it was no longer available so I enjoyed another ale, the Gamma Ray by Beavertown. A huge range of craft (and some mainstream too) available, no shortage of local gins either. And do bring your credit card. Well, they do take cash no problem but tap and pay is the customer’s preferred method of payment here!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Amuse Bouche


There was a bucket of mussels and a plate of snails, neither of which he’d had before. Since Coca-Cola was so expensive, a dollar for a tiny bottle, Pat insisted he try un verre du vin, the first dry wine Parker had ever tasted. For someone raised on meat loaf and soda, these tastes were all new and wonderful, a revelation, and it didn’t hurt that he was so much in love. Parker couldn’t get over the different aromas and flavours in the food and wine, and he wanted to taste everything—frog’s legs, pâté, Camembert—and much more wine.

from The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy (2005). Highly Recommended (Very Highly if you’re interested in wine!).

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Izakaya Evening with Echigo Saké at Ichigo Ichie


Izakaya Evening with Echigo Saké at Ichigo Ichie

 
Smashed cucumber with Bonito flake.

For one night this/last week, Michelin Star Chef Takashi Miyazaki turned his Ichigo Ichie restaurant into a Japanese style gastro-pub with a lot of help from Mr. Ono from the Echigo Saké Brewery in Japan. 

It was the first Izakaya evening here and a delightful experience that began with a glass, sorry, that should read masu, of Echigo Koshi No Happo. The Masu is a square wooden cup used to measure rice in Japan during the feudal period. It holds 180ml of that first saké so that was quite a substantial aperitif. Quite a lovely one also, smooth, almost savoury with a slightly syrupy texture giving it a rich mouthfeel.
First pour

There would be more sakés as the pleasant evening went on, with Mr Ono on hand to explain the various types. Perhaps the outstanding one from my point of view was the Ozeki Karatamba Honjozo Namachozoshu. Here, we were told that the brewing technology brings out the crisp and rich flavour yet dry taste of “Karatamba” that pairs well with any cuisine, indeed the prefect saké to indulge your taste buds. It certainly did that!


Of Japan’s major saké-producing regions, Niigata is regarded as the most prestigious and well-known. And deservedly so. Known long ago by the name Echigo, modern-day, Niigata is the region of small craft producers from the countryside. It is also the origin of the light and dry tanrei-karakuchi style of saké that has become so popular amongst saké lovers today. And we did indeed enjoy the Echigo Karakuchi, “a very hearty saké”.
Sashimi selection

At the end, we had a taste of the Amakuchi, the sweet saké. But not that sweet! From the delightful, if limited  (we didn’t have all night!), tasting, it seems that the dry to sweet range of the Japanese drink is much narrower than is the case with wine! Open to correction on this one.

And how did we get on with the square cup? The masu? Quite well actually. It stands on a saucer so, when  it is full to the brim, you can lift the saucer and sip, “not rude” says Mr Ono. Being Cork of course, there was one “complaint”: we couldn’t make those cups clink! Well, if you really want to get that cheerful sound, you may drink it from a short clear glass also!
Pork belly with bean sprout

The special Izakaya Menu was a multi-course treat. Hard to keep track of all the courses and Mr Miyazaki also added in a couple of bonuses. So, from the Smashed Cucumber at the start to the delicious pannacotta at the finish, we were more than well fed.

Highlights? Well those two already mentioned for a start. The Sashimi was an early highlight for me with salmon, tuna and sea-bass in the mix. The Prawn (a substitute for squid) and Padron Pepper Tempura was another as were the Chicken Tatsuta. And an unexpected one - it was additional to the 12-course menu - was the swordfish towards the end.
 
Prawn

CL also enjoyed the meal from start to finish especially that little Smashed Cucumber at the start. The next dish, the Pork Belly, was another of her favourites along with the Sashimi. But all were appreciated.

Izakaya Menu

Peanuts Tofu (peanuts, wasabi)

Kyuri Tataki (smashed cucumber, bonito flake, crushed garlic chilli)

Chashu and Moyashi Namuru (pork belly, bean sprout, shichimi, sesame oil)

Sashimi (Corvina, Organic Salmon, Daikon, Shiso, Wasabi, dashi shoyu)

Yakitori (tsukune tare sansho and egg yolk sauce, pork belly)
Dessert

Buta Shabu Salad (Pork, Mizuna, Silken Tofu, Radish, Sesame Ponzu)

Grilled Asparagus Yakidashi (asparagus in dashi, bonito flake, chilli)

Ika and Shishitou Tempura (squid and Padron Pepper). Ika (squid not available so we had prawns instead).

Chicken Tatsuta (Fried chicken thigh)

Satoimoni, Tori Soboro Sauce (Taro Potato stew with minced chicken sauce)

Tamago Maki (Egg Roll Sushi)

Amazake (White chocolate pannacotta, cherry)


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Always a Warm Welcome at The Trident Hotel Kinsale


Always a Warm Welcome at The Trident Hotel Kinsale

Always enjoy going back to the Trident Hotel in Kinsale. The views from the bedrooms, any of their 75 rooms, are striking. The hotel is spectacularly set on the water's edge in Kinsale, in a prime location for guests to enjoy the views of the harbour. And quite often the sun is shining! As it was last week when we called. The Trident has a private marina and onsite parking (very handy in the busy seaside town).

The hotel, under manager Hal McElroy, has been through an extensive upgrade and its interiors are now looking splendid as well. We stayed in one of those refurbished bedrooms and we had splendid views of the harbour. The decor is restful and the spacious room had all we needed, including hairdryer (well, I didn't need that!) and tea-maker.
Room with a view

The welcome here is always warm but it got that little bit better last Monday (18th) when we were told we were upgraded. We enjoyed that. While walking along the corridors, I was struck by the restful colour combination, mainly white and grey on the walls, blue and grey in the carpet, and a little extra colour in the curtains. All very peaceful throughout. A really lovely place to stay, good rooms, good food, and just about four minutes from the very heart of the town.
Sandycover, near Kinsale

Kinsale itself has quite a lot to offer. It has often been called the Gourmet Capital of Ireland. You’ll get some arguments from other areas no doubt but Kinsale was awarded The Restaurants Association of Ireland’s ‘Top Foodie Town’ in the 2018 competition. 

The Trident and its manager are key players in Kinsale, long-time members of the town’s Good Food Circle which believe it or not are now taking bookings for the annual Gourmet Festival. Dates this year, for the 43rd running of this famous and fun event, are 11th to 13th of October. 
Safe harbour
For more info, check "Kinsale Good Food Circle - 43rd Kinsale Gourmet Festival”. Before that though, the Good Food Circle will host the National Chowder Championships in April with a street food festival on the same weekend (6/7 April 2019). 
Charlesfort

If you visit the town, you’ll be assured of good places to stay and terrific restaurants and café, and you’ll be well set up for some fabulous sightseeing. Charlesfort overlooks the harbour and is perhaps the biggest attraction in the town. It is open all year and regular guided tours are available. Well worth a visit and you can also see it from the water if you take one of the popular Kinsale harbour cruises.

Desmond Castle, an even older building in the heart of the town, is open during the season. It is also known locally as the French Prison. Built originally as a customs house, it now includes a wine museum as one of its attractions.
Lusitania Museum and the Old Head

The nearby coast includes many small coves that are worth a visit (see here) and not too far away there is the large beach at Garrettstown, the waters here also popular with surfers. On the way, you may stop and admire the famous Old Head of Kinsale and visit the nearby Signal Tower and Lusitania Museum.

Kinsale, often called the gateway to West Cork (see my West Cork Package), is your starting point on the Wild Atlantic Way. It is hardly 30 minutes from Cork City, even less from the airport and not too far away from the ferryport of Ringaskiddy.
In the harbour

Our latest visit was prompted by Kinsale Restaurant Week, a very successful event that finished up on the 24th of February. We had a great meal, a great night indeed, in Finns’ Table, another member of the Good Food Circle. 
Blacks Ale

Breakfast view at the Trident
Finished the night with a pint of local beer (from Blacks Micro-Brewery and Distillery) in the Trident’s Wharf Bar. And said goodbye to the Trident after a hearty breakfast in Pier One, their main restaurant, used mainly for breakfast and functions. 

The lively Wharf Bar downstairs will keep you well fed during the day and evening. And in the good weather, at the water’s edge, the Trident have their self contained Foredeck Bar with some seating for your comfort.

Oh, the hospitality continued at the breakfast table when we were surprised with the gift of a bottle of wine from Anthony of the Trident and congrats from all the servers. He knew we had been been celebrating our 50th anniversary at Finns’ Table. Thanks to Anthony and the Trident. And, before you ask, we didn’t open the lovely Sancerre at breakfast!

Also on this Kinsale trip:
Dinner at Finns' Table
Surprise Mellot Sancerre Tasting at Finns' Table



Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Taste of the Week. Silver Spear Gin


Taste of the Week
Silver Spear Gin

So many gins on the market nowadays. Some are very good. But others have little to distinguish themselves from the crowd. Not so with Silver Spear from Ballydarton House in Carlow. Came across this at a recent function, enjoyed the fragrant aromas and the classic characteristics in the glass and thought to myself that I had a Taste of the Week in my hands. 

So I did some further research, that is to say, I had another glass of their perfect serve.
The ingredients are: 
Silver Spear Gin 35ml
Premium tonic 150ml.
Stir and serve on ice, garnished with strawberry (sliced and slight muddled) and one wedge of lime (with a slight squeeze.

That research worked out quite well and the Silver Spear is our current Taste of the Week. Lots of other ways of serving it also. Check out a list of cocktails here
Perfect!

Silver Spear gin is an award winning contemporary Irish Gin produced in small batches by Smyth & O’Reilly. Taking over 14 months to develop and produced with absolute consistency, it’s is a marriage of 13 different ingredients, including fresh juniper berries, spices, herbs and citrus.

The name was inspired by an iconic piece of Irish and British military history. The ‘Silver Spear’ was awarded to John Henry Watson of Ballydarton House in 1876 for his ‘skill and horsemanship’ whilst he was in service in Colonial India, the home of Gin and Tonic.

The company is owned and managed by husband and wife team, Dawn and Charles Smyth. Dawn, well experienced in the food and drink business, is the only person who knows the secret recipe and blends. They were  awarded “Best Irish Contemporary Gin” in Ireland during blind taste tests at the World Gin Awards 2018. More info here





Monday, February 25, 2019

Two Very Enjoyable Reds from Bordeaux.


Two Very Enjoyable Reds from Bordeaux.

Larose Perganson Haut-Médoc Cru Bourgeois (AOC), 2007, 13%, €26.20 Karwig Wines

A keen sense of anticipation as I opened this one, pulling out a cork that had been there for about eleven years. The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) and Merlot and has been one hundred per cent raised in oak (40% new).There is no let-down here, quite the contrary. I decanted for an hour as advised and served somewhere close to the 16-18 degrees on the label. 

Colour is a dark ruby with lighter rim; legs are slow enough to clear even if the abv is not that high. Ripe fruit aromas (blackberries, blackcurrants), a touch of chocolate too. Ample and fleshy, classic and elegant, spicy too, soft and well integrated tannins, a superb finish, fruity, smooth, long and dry. Very Highly Recommended. Look out too for the 2010 as it is supposed to be even better!

Pair with hard cheese, grilled lamb or a juicy steak.

Cru Bourgeois is an evolving classification: Since 2010, the official selection has been published annually. Criteria: The quality and value of red wines produced in one of the eight Médoc appellations: Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Listrac, Moulis, Margaux, St. Julien, Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe. 

Each year, between 243 and 278 properties, often family-owned, form the Crus Bourgeois Alliance, accounting for more than 40% of the Médoc's production. From the 2016 vintage, there are three tiers of quality; Cru Bourgeois, Cru Bourgeois Supérieur and Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel. It is an evolving system! Read more about it here. 

Chateau Turcaud Cuvée Majeure Bordeaux (AOC) 2015, 14.5%, €20.95 64 Wine Dublin, Bradley’s of Cork, Greenman Dublin, Le Caveau Kilkenny 

Stéphane Le May of Chateau Turcaud

This award winner from the area known as Entre-Deux-Mers has quite a dark ruby robe. A great bouquet of ripe cherry and berry, smoky notes too. Intense flavour, a touch of sweet spice, tannins are very soft, superb character and it has a lovely lingering finish. Well balanced, well made. Well, try it! Very Highly Recommended.

It is a Bordeaux Supérieur and is, as is usual in these parts, a blend. The grapes are Merlot (about two thirds) and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is aged for about 15 months in oak barrels (new barrels and ones used for 1 or 2 previous vintages).

Chateau Turcaud recommend pairing it with full-flavoured meats such as rib of beef, game, duck breast, and strong cheeses. and say it is best decanted one hour before the meal. The wine name comes from the Sauve-Majeure Abbey that overlooks the vineyard and that I had the pleasure of climbing a few years ago, all of its 159 steps.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Dwyers. Good Food. Friendly Service


Dwyers. Good Food. Friendly Service


You walk in off the street on wet Wednesday and you get a lovely warm welcome in Dwyers of Washington Street. And that sets the tone for the evening and, with friendly service all the way, we enjoyed our meal in one of the many booths that break up the former wide-open spaces of this old (1820s) building.

I worked for about a year with Lee Hosiery, one of the Dwyer company’s factories, and was over and back to the Washington Street HQ regularly. Great place to buy a suit and, if some neighbour was getting married, a good spot to buy a present (if I remember, Foxford products were very acceptable in the mid 60s!). You paid your money, it shot up in a little container on a wire to the office upstairs and soon your change and receipt came back down.


But no high-wire stuff as we were buying our dinner the other night and soon checking the menu. No less than three burgers listed and also Fish ’n Chips so this is more like a gastro pub than a restaurant. 

But don’t worry, the food may be simple enough but is well priced, well handled and nicely presented and a very important part of the whole enterprise as they have no less than seventy tables. But do book ahead at the weekends as music and the long bar are big attractions here too. By the way, they also do lunch and brunch.
Special

Chieftain
With burgers being a key part of the menu, I thought I’d try one and was very well pleased indeed with the The Southern Fried Chicken burger served with garlic mayo, mixed leaves and tomato, on a brioche bun and with hand-cut fries. This was very tasty indeed, the chicken nice and moist and those fries are pretty good too. One of the other burgers is a Classic and another is Vegetarian. 

Other mains included Pan Roasted Supreme of Chicken, Kerry Lamb Pie, Thai Green Curry and Trump Steak sandwich and all are priced in the mid-teens.

Do watch out for the specials though. CL did and her Crispy Potato Cakes turned out much better than I expected. Great added flavour here from the chorizo and black-pudding. It was served with salad and also those delicious fries.

A short wine list, six bottles on the menu, all available by the glass. There is of course a full bar so no shortage of spirits and beers (including Franciscan Well on draught - enjoyed a pint of the Chieftain!).

A booth for 8/9
There’s a good selection of starters here and I’ve heard that the O’Flynn’s Pork and Apple Sausage with crusty bread and chutney is very popular. They also offer a Quinoa Salad, a Wild Atlantic Chowder, Crispy Chicken Wings and also Soup of the Day.

Ours were the Prawns Pil Pil and the Goats Cheese Bruschetta, both good and warming for the cool evening and both very tasty as well.

In between we were taking a look at the many changes here, loads of nooks and booths, even semi-private corners. You'd need to have your mobile charged up if you're meeting someone here! Old stuff, including mirrors and prints (including old adverts from the original Dwyers, who also owned Sunbeam), around the walls. 

Finished off with a well-made Apple Crumble and, after a night of good food and friendly service, two well-pleased customers headed off into the mist, hoping the bus would come soon!


Friday, February 22, 2019

Amuse Bouche


The maturation had not been uniform. The June flowering — the floraison — which had filled the air with that sweet, familiar aroma that ever since he was a child he had likened to the scent of honey, had occurred unevenly throughout the vineyard. The fruit on some vines was further along than the fruit on some other vines. Were the least mature grapes mature enough?
Interestingly, in his vineyard journal, the Grand Monsieur made no mention of the evil that had occurred in his prize vineyard.

from Shadows in the Vineyard by Maximillian Potter (2014). Highly Recommended. (Very Highly, if you have an interest in wine!)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Crucible's Cutting Edge Cocktails at Cask


Crucible's Cutting Edge Cocktails at Cask
My top two: Totally Mad Wae It (left) and L’Apostrophe 

Andy Ferreira’s team at Cask are always willing to enhance their already formidable cocktail skills and that was one of the reasons they had London’s Crucible show their paces at the Cork venue last Wednesday evening.

Led by Romeo, in the unavoidable absence of director Stu Bale, Crucible served up four impressive cocktails. Crucible is a member’s club, co-working space and creative hub for bartenders. Its community is a veritable melting pot of world class mixologists, drinks industry heavyweights and flavour experts. For instance, whiskey writer Dave Broom (you might remember him from Ballymaloe’s Lit-Fest) is one of the talented crew at Crucible.
Cask on Wednesday

Crucible’s in-house laboratory boasts an impressive range of equipment including  dehydrators, ice-cream makers, thermomixers, centrifuge (great for producing clear ingredients, or concentrated flavours), Carbonation Rig, and more, giving bartenders complete creative freedom in bringing their most exciting ideas to life. 

Creativity and science combine - “they take it right down to molecular levels” Andy told us -  and drinks producers, both large and small, have recognised the amazing possibilities of this “drinks lab”. Indeed, Wednesday’s Crucible takeover was sponsored by Irish Distillers Pernod-Ricard’s Affinity Brand Company, whose portfolio comprises luxury brands such as Midleton Very Rare, Redbreast, Green Spot, Method and Madness, Monkey 47, Lillet and CEDER’S.
Cutting edge!

Pacific Oisin
Science  (the original Latin word means knowledge) may be key at Crucible but they and Cask know how to have some fun too, illustrated with the names of the drinks on Wednesday. We started with Pacific Oisin, named for a well-known Irish operator in the Irish drinks space. 

The cocktail consisted of Monkey 47 gin, Yellow Spot Tasty Juice, Tiki Things, possibly including (but not exclusively) Pineapples, papaya, guava, nutmeg, coconuts, sand, and regret. Lots of ice too but no regret here though, just a long smooth drink with the spirits rounded and a sweetness provided by the fruits. Perhaps too smooth! Very easy drinking indeed.

Nial, another of their friends, had the distinction of featuring in the next one: Nial in the Coffin (Havana Club Seleccion. Malibu. Indestructible chemical acid with lime flavouring!). Not too much colour here but nicely balanced.

Nial in the Coffin
Next up was L’Apostrophe, a title tribute to Carl D’, an ace in the Cask team. And it was a beauty, a combination of Jameson, Foraged stuff (not too sure what that was, possibly the tip of a nettle!) and Perriet-Jouet Rosé champagne. “Pure buzzing” was the sub-text here and it was different class. Power and intense bubbles, firm fist in a velvet glove, a knockout.

It was more or less matched by another whiskey mix, again with no ice. Indeed, the two with no ice were my favourites on the night. This last one was called Totally Mad Wae It and ingredients were Method and Madness Irish Whiskey, Buckto and Ultrasonic. 

The description didn’t quite get my attention at the start of the evening. Apparently this got a “wash” of ultrasonic waves. Don’t ask! The result though is quite magnificent, with the Midleton-made whiskey the out and out star of the drink. When you finish, be sure and suck that strip of orange peel that has been giving you a lovely aroma all the way through.  

My Rankings:
1 - L’Apostrophe
      Totally Mad Wae It
3 - Pacific Oisin
4 - Nial in the Coffin