Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Before Champagne, there was Blanquette De Limoux. Here’s one!

Before Champagne, there was Blanquette De Limoux. Here’s one!

Delmas Brut Cuvée Tradition Blanquette De Limoux (AC) NV, 12.5%

Mary Pawle has one six-bottle case left in stock @ €122 ( that includes VAT @ 23%); she'll have more in by Easter but expect a different price!

Haute Vallée is a favorite terroir for Limoux bubbles. This Cuvee is made from grapes from organic farming and a subtle blend of 3 grape varieties: Mauzac (mostly, at least 90% according to the AOC), Chardonnay and or Chenin.

It comes in a brilliant pale gold colour with a myriad of bubbles racing towards the top where they form a crowded circle around the rim. Aromas are a medley of fruit (white - peache and apple) and a hint of sweetness. It is quite intense on the palate, fresh and fruity plus the biscuity/bready element often present in sparkling wines. The finish, as you’d expect, is dry. This is real bubbles. Think non-vintage champagne at a fraction of the price! 

Very Highly Recommended.

Enjoy as an aperitif and also with grilled fish and cheese. The Limoux AOC says dry versions (such as this) can be paired with an entire meal whilst medium-dry offerings sit well alongside desserts, particularly chocolate-flavoured ones! So start your special meal with this and get a medium dry for the finalé. Serve between 6 and 8 degrees.


Check my list of top wines


Check out my Good Value Wine List here


Wine historians believe that the world's first sparkling wine was produced in this region in 1531, by the monks at the abbey in Saint-Hilaire. Indeed, the Saint-Hilaire was being made a hundred years before champagne and I’ve read that Dom Perignon may well have learned a trick or two here.

It was first created by the Benedictine monks of the abbey over 450 years ago. Written records survive from 1531. The abbey is 25 miles south of Carcassonne (a town that many of you will have heard of because of its airport). The main grape in the blend is the Mauzac which is called Blanquette locally. This accounts for ninety per cent of the mix with Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay also used (up to a maximum of ten per cent). 

Monday, February 5, 2024

The MICHELIN Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2024. Honours for Homestead Doolin, Bishop's Buttery, D'Olier St and Terre.

The MICHELIN Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2024
Honours for Homestead Doolin, Bishop's Buttery, D'Olier St and Terre.

Congratulations to Homestead Doolin, Bishop's Buttery Cashel and to D'Olier Street Dublin on being awarded One Star in The MICHELIN Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2024 event in Manchester this evening. Quite a coup for the island and for the three restaurants in particular. 

Homestead Cottage

Homestead Cottage, with its delicious cooking, makes a visit to the rural west coast all the more appealing. Further inland, The Bishop’s Buttery offers top-quality produce and great natural flavours to Cashel Palace Hotel, and D’Olier Street boosts Dublin’s dining scene with visually striking and technically accomplished dishes.
D'Olier Street

And to top it all, Terre at the Castlemartyr Resort was awarded a second star. So  County Cork now has another Two Star restaurant to add to its collection. Gaining One Star last year and now a second, Vincent Crepel and his kitchen team at Terre have made impressively quick work of crafting a bold, assuredly Two-Star experience.

The MICHELIN Guide Great Britain & Ireland 2024
Welcomes a New Three Star restaurant

The Ledbury becomes the ninth Three MICHELIN Star restaurant in Great Britain & Ireland
6 new Two Star establishments, including 2 Indian restaurants which become the first in the UK to receive Two MICHELIN Stars
18 new One MICHELIN Star
6 new MICHELIN Green Stars awarded for outstanding commitment to sustainable gastronomy

MICHELIN is pleased to present the 2024 restaurant selection of The MICHELIN Guide Great Britain & Ireland, which was unveiled during a special ceremony held this Monday at The Midland Hotel in Manchester. 

Bishop's Buttery at Cashel Palace.
All pics via Michelin guide

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of The MICHELIN Guide in Great Britain & Ireland.A total of 1,162 restaurants are included in the selection, with The Ledbury announced as the Guide’s ninth Three MICHELIN Star restaurant. A further 6 restaurants have been newly awarded Two MICHELIN Stars and there are 18 new One Star establishments. 6 restaurants have been recognised with a MICHELIN Green Star for their commitment to sustainable gastronomy and 20 restaurants were announced to have received a Bib Gourmand on 29th January, one week prior to the Ceremony.

From Cornwall to Cork, the newly crowned restaurants span across Great Britain & Ireland. London has had a highly successful year, with a new Three Star, 3 new Two Star and 11 new One Star restaurants bolstering the city’s selection. Cumbria adds 2 new One Star restaurants to its already impressive collection, and Birmingham has welcomed its first ever Two Star restaurant. The establishments themselves range in style, from counter dining to country houses. The cuisines are varied too, and this year sees both 2 new West African Stars and the selection’s first ever Two Star Indian restaurants. 

All be booked directly via The MICHELIN Guide website and appThe selection showcases unique destinations both across Great Britain & Ireland and throughout the world. Every hotel in the selection has been chosen by The MICHELIN Guide experts for its extraordinary style, service and personality.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Meeran Manzoor of Rare Restaurant in Kinsale Wins Ireland’s Chef of The Year

Meeran Manzoor of Rare Restaurant in Kinsale
 Wins Ireland’s Chef of The Year

A Blue Haven Double with gold also
in Best Family Run Hotel Group

Meeran Manzoor, Executive Head Chef of The Blue Haven Collection and Rare Restaurant, took home gold in Ireland’s Chef of The Year category at the Virgin Media Business Gold Medal Awards. Winners were announced on Tuesday 30th January at a black tie event held in the Galmont Hotel & Spa in Galway.

Meeran said “It is always a great feeling to get recognised, and it gives both me and the team a boost of motivation going into the new year. This award also honours my amazing team in Rare, I see it as a collective award for all of us, acknowledging all the hard work that goes into producing the food and experience we are so proud of in Rare.

The menu in Rare is influenced by Meeran’s Tamil Nadu heritage; diners can choose from a five-course tasting menu or a seven-course tasting menu which are both available with wine pairings. 

Judged by industry experts, the Virgin Media Gold Medal Awards recognise and reward excellence in hospitality and catering operations across Ireland. The judging panel reviews a set of criteria including a blind site inspection to decide the winners of each category. 

The Blue Haven Collection also won Best Family Run Hotel Group in Ireland at the Virgin Media Gold Medal Awards. The collection includes The Blue Haven Hotel, The Old Bank Townhouse and The Schull Harbour Hotel, Hamlets Bar & Kitchen, Kielys of Cork and Black Barrel Midleton. 

Rare at The Blue Haven is located in The Blue Haven Hotel on Pearse Street, Kinsale, Co Cork. For more information see www.rare1784.ie

This organic and vegan-friendly Sangiovese is ideal for the table. And a refreshing red from Ventoux.

ERA Sangiovese Marche (IGT) 2020, 13% ABV

RRP: €14.60 Stockists include: Quay Co-Op Cork/ Olive Branch, Clonakilty/ Little Green Grocer, Kilkenny/ Mortons of Galway/ Sonas, Newcastlewest.

(Below: Refreshing red from Ventoux).

This organic and vegan-friendly wine is ideal for the table.

You’ll more than likely associate the grape Sangiovese with Italy’s Tuscany where they use it to produce the well-known, well-loved Chianti wine. Immediately to Tuscany’s east is another Italian region called Marche, pronounced Mar-Kay, which has the shores of the Adriatic Sea as its eastern border, and that the region is where this Sangiovese originates.

The aromas of our ERA wine are intense, ripe dark red fruit, floral and herbal notes too, and liquorice also. Flavours are just as bright and intense, full of those red and darker fruits, plus more than just a hint of spice. Tannins are more or less silky and there’s enough acidity to ensure harmony through to the lingering finish. 

An organic and vegan-friendly wine, it is ideal for the table. Try it with Broiled Marinated Pork Chop, Savoy cabbage, Fondant Potato and Mustard Sauce. Winery tips are stewed meat and aged cheeses while other suggestions include Fried chicken livers, Pappardelle pasta with a rabbit and porcini mushroom ragù,  spaghetti bolognese, lamb shank and steak Milanese, and Slow-roasted pork with white bean mash. 

Highly Recommended. Very well priced too, by the way. 


Charm and character in this Ventoux red by M. Jacques

Jacques Frelin Contreforts Du Delta Ventoux (AP) 2021, 14% ABV, Mary Pawle Wines

This organic red wine, another from Mary Pawle, is a blend of Grenache and Syrah, and comes rom the edges of the southern Rhône. 

The vineyard (soil consists of “Gravel and pebbles”) is under the gaze of Mount Ventoux, the mountain famous for its Mistral Wind and its long-lasting association with the Tour de France. I did climb it once myself - by car! The pebbles referred to above by the way are rather large flat stones.

The colour is a light garnet, a little lighter than you might expect by comparison to your regular Côtes du Rhone. The aromas have raspberry and strawberry notes, a bit on the jammy side, with a hint of spice.

It is immediately refreshing in the mouth, soft, supple and fruity, a really juicy blend and indeed one that may be served cool (not chilled though!). Very enjoyable and an easy-drinking style.

As the label promises, this expressive organic wine exudes charm and character. Well rounded and aromatic. Try with grilled lamb with thyme, or goats cheese with fresh figs. Serve at 18 degrees.

Highly Recommended.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

FOOD NEWS & EVENTS AT THE LIMERICK STRAND. Award-winning dining destination


Award-winning dining destination

Executive Head Chef, Paddy Anslow and his team are looking forward to showcasing their new offerings for 2024. Paddy and his culinary team are unconditionally supportive of all things local and always on the lookout for new suppliers and giving a helping hand to small artisan producers.  Passion for their location is evident on all menus and for over 10 years, have been at the forefront of the ‘farm to fork’ and traceability food evolution. Using, fresh, high quality and seasonal food, partnering with local farms and dairies wherever possible ensure that guests enjoy a taste of the nearby Wild Atlantic Way in the heart of the Golden Vale. 

This year they have launched a brand new offering called the ‘Friday Night Supper Club’ running in the award-winning AA rosette River Bar & Restaurant on Friday evenings with dining from 7.00 pm to 9.30 pm.    The cool tones, riverside location, exciting design details and new menus make the River Bar & Restaurant a must-visit when in Limerick. This experience includes the best of food with live music from 8pm-10pm and is the perfect way to officially kick-start the weekend.   Friday Night Supper Club offers 2 or 3 course dining options with an array of delicious homemade locally sourced dishes along with mouth-watering desserts.   The 2-course option costs €37 and 3-course €42 with full menu offer HERE.

Wine and dine your beloved with an amazing Valentine’s Dinner in the AA rosette River Room Bar & Restaurant complete with amuse-bouche and glass of bubbles to set the romantic scene on arrival followed by a candlelit 5 course dinner. This special dining experience is available to book on Wednesday, Feb 14th, Thursday, Feb 15th & Friday, Feb 16th from 6.00pm – 9.00 pm. The 5-course dinner including an amuse-bouche and glass of bubbles costs €49.50 per person.   Pre-booking is advised.  For menu see HERE.

Treat your mother like the queen she is with a Mother’s Day Sunday Buffet Lunch, Sunday March 10th at the multi award-winning Limerick Strand Hotel where you are guaranteed a stress-free and relaxing day.   The exclusive Mother’s Day Sunday Buffet Lunch is a gorgeous affair, where you’ll receive a warm welcome from the friendly and dedicated staff and enjoy a delicious feast in the gorgeous surrounds of the River Restaurant & Bar with stunning river-side views. The buffet lunch is available to book from 1.00pm – 5.00pm and includes a welcoming glass of bubbles on arrival and 4 course options to choose from.  Your mum will also be presented with a special gift and the talented Treble & Bass will entertain the room from 1.30pm-3.30pm.  The Mother’s Day Buffet Lunch experience costs €37.50 per adult

€17.50 per child with kids under 5 dining for free with child friendly menu on offer.

Alternatively, you can treat your mum ANYTIME to a relaxing Afternoon Tea in the heart of Limerick city. The Limerick Strand Hotel is the perfect spot to enjoy your afternoon tea while overlooking the River Shannon. Indulge in a three-tiered platter of exquisite finger sandwiches, served alongside freshly baked warm scones, clotted cream & jam, and a selection of afternoon tea pastries & treats. Available daily from 2pm – 4pm from €31.50 per person.

Only minutes from the St. Patrick’s Festival Parade The Limerick Strand is the perfect location to celebrate our patron saint in style.   Park your car in the hotel’s underground carpark and head out to enjoy the festivities.  Return for a delicious Buffet Lunch served in the River Restaurant from 1.00 pm – 5.00 pm, where dishes showcase the team’s culinary skills and passion for supporting local and kids under 5 years of age can dine for free! On Monday, 18th March 2024, the 51st edition of the International Band Championship will fill the streets of Limerick with the spectacular sight and sound of talented marching band musicians from across Ireland, Europe and America. Watch the bands compete to be crowned International Band Champions as they march through the city!  The buffet lunch will also be on offer at the Limerick Strand from 1.00 pm to 5.00 pm. Buffet costs from €32.95 per adult and €17.50 per child with kids under 5 years dining for free.  

The award-winning 4*  Limerick Strand Hotel offers a beautiful setting for 2024 Easter dining. Easter Sunday Lunch is rather special at The River Restaurant & Bar and a very popular choice for families looking for a memorable and entertaining afternoon with exceptional food and service.  On Sunday 31st March, they are offering a delicious 4-course Lunch Buffet where you will be warmly greeted with a glass of bubbly and a visit from the Easter Bunny, who will be

busy hopping about delivering a chocolate egg to all the children. Reservations are available from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. each Sunday (Pre-booking essential) and includes a glass of Prosecco on arrival for adults and an Eater egg for kids and costs €37.50 per adult and €18.50 per child with kids under 5 years of age dining for free!

Dine at the award-winning AA rosette River Bar & Restaurant every Sunday from 1.00 pm to 5.00 pm for their popular Sunday Lunch, ideal for a family celebration or group get togethers. With The Great Limerick Run taking place on May 4th it is set to be a popular spot for those looking to re-charge post racing on Sunday May 5th where patrons can enjoy the popular 4 Course Sunday Lunch Menu which includes a welcome glass of bubbles or orange juice for the non-drinkers, a selection of starters from the buffet, an array of Sunday favourite mains courses hand carved by Chef and a plated trio of tempting homemade desserts. The roast rib of Irish Beef was awarded overall Winner in Knorr’s “Ireland’s Great Roast 2019”, and is a firm favourite with guests. Executive Head Chef, Paddy Anslow slow cooks the Rib of Irish Beef for over 26 hours, and is marinated in 3 types of Mustard. There’s also a child-Friendly Buffet Menu, and kiddies under 5 eat for free and Complimentary on-site underground Car Parking is available during the duration of your meal to make your Sunday stress free! Prices from €32.95 per adult €17.50 per child.

We recommend making reservations in advance to avoid disappointment. To make a reservation call 061 421800 or book online via  www.strandlimerick.ie.

press release



L to R, Heather Humphreys T.D., Minister for Rural & Community Development, Margaret Jeffares, Good Food Ireland®, Paul Heery, General Manager, The K Club and Ivan Kiersey, Freezin' Friesian at the official launch of the Good Food Ireland Awards® 2024


The Good Food Ireland® Awards 2024 were officially launched by Heather Humphreys, T.D. Minister for Rural and Community Development and will take place on Monday, November 11th at The K Club, Co Kildare.



These highly-regarded cross-sector awards, celebrate businesses at every layer of our island’s food and drink industry – from primary producers, to manufacturers, to chefs, shops and restaurants – who embody all that makes Ireland’s food offering so standout.


Minister Heather Humphreys T.D. says“As Minister for Rural and Community Development, I am delighted to have been in a position to invest in a number of rural and regeneration projects that will do so much in terms of supporting Ireland’s food industry.


“Through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund, we are transforming an old historic site in Athy, County Kildare, into a State-of-the-Art food, drink and innovation hub. Similarly in County Roscommon, we have invested hugely in the Castlerea Food Hub to enable it to become a major driver of food innovation, enterprise and job creation in the region. And just last week saw the official opening of the first centre of excellence for the Irish food industry in the country in Athenry, County Galway. These are just some of the projects that my Department is supporting through investment under our ambitious five year rural development strategy, ‘Our Rural Future’.”


Minister Humphreys went on to send her best wishes to the participants and adjudicators involved in the Good Food Ireland® Awards 2024. She added: “I’m delighted to support the Good Food Ireland® Awards 2024 – a wonderful initiative that will showcase all that is good about Ireland’s food industry. Irish food producers are world leaders in their field and do us all proud on the global stage.


“I have no doubt that the adjudicators face an extremely difficult task as they choose the respective winners in each award category. I wish all the participants and organisers the very best of luck and I have no doubt these awards will be a huge success.”


The core emphasis of the Good Food Ireland® Awards is the use of local, fresh, seasonal, Irish ingredients, highlighting tourism-hospitality and retail businesses that prioritise local produce and encouraging others. This in turn supports Irish farmers, food producers and fishermen, sustainably strengthening local economies and communities.


This year’s award categories include: Producer of the Year; Drink Producer of the Year, Sustainability Award; Food Truck of the Year; Shop of the Year; Pub of the Year; Culinary Haven of the Year; Hotel of the Year; Café of the Year; Outstanding Contribution to Food Production; and Excellence in Food Tourism Award.


Margaret Jeffares, Founder and Managing Director of Good Food Ireland® adds: “Good Food Ireland® is a unique all-island destination brand, showcasing premium culinary and agri-food offerings for almost 20 years, creating competitive advantage and attracting visitors seeking authentic, Irish food and drink experiences. I am honoured that Minister Humphreys recognises the important role of Good Food Ireland® and its benefit to rural and community development.


“We’re on the ground, we work alongside Ireland’s agri-food and tourism industry across the four corners of our island. We hear first-hand what is needed from these proud farmers, fishermen, food and drink producers and tourism hospitality providers. We use this knowledge to foster a sense of community, encouraging collaboration and knowledge-sharing and promoting innovation. By highlighting these premium cross-sector experiences, the Good Food Ireland® Awards help contribute to economic diversification, increased tourism revenue, preservation of our agricultural and culinary heritage and improved sustainability and quality of life in rural communities. They celebrate the people who genuinely capture the essence of Ireland's food and drink, setting it in a cultural context to inspire travellers, international consumers and locals to seek out real, authentic Irish food and drink experiences”.


Dairy farmer and Ice Cream Producer Ivan Kiersey who co-owns Freezin’ Friesian with his two brothers on their County Waterford family farm says: “Being associated with the prestigious Good Food Ireland® Awards elevates our brand reputation and recognition amongst consumers, chefs, and food enthusiasts. This helps us attract new customers, increase sales, and establish Freezin’ Friesian as a leading primary food producer”.


Paul Heery, General Manager of The K Club and host of the upcoming awards adds: “We loved hosting last year’s return of the Good Food Ireland® Awards. It was an incredibly inspiring and uplifting day for all the team. Good Food Ireland’s emphasis on local sourcing and sustainability practices, aligns perfectly with ours and the growing demand for authentic Irish food and drink amongst discerning travellers. The Awards showcase The K Club’s commitment to these values by creating a unique dining experience that reflects the rich culinary heritage of Ireland.


“Celebrating with some of the bastions of our country’s burgeoning food scene also helps us to expand our reach within the local culinary community and associate The K Club with this reputation for quality and authenticity to attract discerning food lovers. We cannot wait for another crack of the whip this year, elevating last year’s business lunch to a glamourous evening event that’s going to feel like one big party including a delicious dinner fuelled by the very local producers we’ve gathered to celebrate”.


All businesses that have met strict criteria prior to being approved to the Good Food Ireland® collection are automatically eligible for the awards. For the first time this year there will also be an opportunity for all other businesses around the island of Ireland that believe they share the Good Food Ireland® philosophy to enter for free, a dedicated “Food Lovers Choice Award''. For more information and online entry as well as updates regarding the individual awards, tickets to the event, and general information about Good Food Ireland® visit goodfoodireland.ie




Aishling Moore, head chef and owner of goldie, Cork’s famous, sustainable, seafood restaurant, will promote her new book ‘Whole Catch’ at two exciting new collabs in February 2024.

Venues include the uber-hip Dead Rabbit Irish pub in NYC where she and fellow Irish chef, Mark Moriarty, will help diners celebrate St Bridget’s Day in style with a series of sell-out lunches and dinners on Sunday 4 February.

Later in the month, on the 18th of February, Moore and her good friend Daniel Hannigan will cook for guests for one special evening at Hannigan’s Orwell Road Restaurant in Rathgar, Dublin 4. Tickets are €90 pp and can be purchased at www.breenbros.com

Expect lots of wonderful Irish seafood cooked with the utmost style and skill and a good dollop of Moore’s sense of the quirky and exotic. Dishes will be taken from her new book which is a feast of delicious, easy-to-cook seafood recipes, with the whole family in mind.

The title of the book 'Whole Catch' refers to the founding principal of Moore's goldie restaurant, where she takes the entire catch landed by the local fishermen who supply her. This dictates what is on her daily changing menu. Nothing is discarded so there is no waste and her suppliers also benefit. Moore's fin-to-gill style of cooking ensures that as much of the fish as possible is used - again reducing waste to an absolute minimum.

Moore won ‘Best Young Chef in Ireland in 2023’ and Goldie won Best Casual Dining Ireland in 2022. The restaurant has retained its Michelin Bib Gourmand since it opened in 2021.

‘Whole Catch’ is the second 2024 launch from the Blasta Books stable. It can be pre-ordered on https://blastabooks.com/products/blasta-books-10-whole-catch

press release