Back for its second year, Cork on a Fork Festival is five days of events and experiences that celebrate all that Cork can stick on a fork! I’ll be hosting three events – find out more…Continue reading “Flavour.ie Popping Up at Cork on a Fork!”
I recently asked 143 V Café for top tips for Vegan lunch on the go for an article. Proprietor Lauren Marples came back with some – and a whole lot more. What couldn’t be used in the article now has a home here!
143 V Café opened in 2017, a diminutive and unfussy space serving scratch made vegan dishes for breakfast, brunch and lunch; coffee, fruit and veg juices as well as sinfully delicious sweet treats too.
It’s location on the Lower Glanmire Road, is just outside of the bubbling hub of the city centre in Cork, but the brisk 10 minute walk there is worth it, as these reviews by The McKenna’s and Joe McNamee for the Irish Examiner attest.
When I asked Lauren for her top tips for Vegan Lunches On The Go, she kindly sent back far more information than I could fit into the article I was compiling for The Echo (due to be published on 18th January 2021). But such was the value of the information provided, it felt wrong to just cast it aside as a mere casualty of the cutting room floor in my edit, so I asked Lauren if I could share her information here instead – and she agreed.
Before we launch into this, which includes a weekly menu plan and a recipe for a delicious Vegan Chili Burrito Bowl, show 143 V Café some love by liking them on Facebook and Instagram. Just take a look at the grid for 143 V Café’s IG feed:
Lauren also wanted me to let you know that, if you are starting to get sick of the sight of your own kitchen during Lockdown 3, then help is at hand! A three-course vegan meal is available to order and collect for takeaway for the month of January. Check out the Menu below, then call them up to order on (021) 241 4204.
Over to you Lauren…
Hi everyone, I’m Lauren Marples, owner of 143 V Cafe in Cork.
I am now celebrating 5 years since I became vegan. Some benefits I have noticed in that time have been an increase in my energy levels, I no longer feel bloated after I eat, I no longer suffer from PMS, and my muscle recovery time is so much faster after exercise – just to name a few! I have become in tune with my body because I am more conscious about what I eat. I’ve never enjoyed cooking as much as I have since going vegan as I have infinite opportunities to be creative and experiment with my meals.
Happy Veganuary and Happy Plant-based Cooking!
Week Lunch Plan
Planning ahead for lunchtime is essential to eat well on a plant-based diet – and especially during a lockdown when your usual lunchtime vegan eateries are not open or you find yourself once more working from home. Here are my tips for getting prepared for lunchtimes with some easy to make and make-ahead dishes that transport well if you are on the move, or perfect for lunchtime al-desko dining!
- Monday: Burrito Bowl or Wrap
- Tuesday: Tofu “Steak” Sandwich and Soup
- Wednesday: Noodle Stir-Fry
- Thursday: Sundried Tomato Pesto Pasta
- Friday: Chickpea Curry and Rice
Snack ideas to be brought every day:
- Celery or Carrots Sticks + Hummus,
- Vegan Yoghurt,
- Vegan Protein Bars,
- Energy Balls,
- Chia Pudding,
- Overnight Oats
Recipe for Chili Sin Carne for your Burrito Bowl:
This recipe allows for easily increasing the quantity of ingredients to scale up for batch cooking. Store in air tight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze.
- 2 Onions Diced
- 1 Red/Yellow Pepper Diced
- 1 Large Carrot Diced
- 3 Cloves of garlic Chopped Finely
- 1 tin sweetcorn
- 1 tin of your favourite beans (kidney or adzuki or black beans) or a mixture
- 2 tins chopped tomatoes or 500ml passata or 10 fresh tomatoes
- 1 chili
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 cup of Soy Mince TVP (Organic + Non GMO)
- Season with salt and pepper
- In a large saucepan, sautée the onions. Add the garlic, peppers, and carrots.
- Add the tomatoes, chili, sweetcorn and beans. Bring to the boil and let simmer.
- Add the soy mince, smoked paprika and season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
- Enjoy in a wrap, or with rice and guacamole and don’t forget your favourite vegan cheese.
Huge thanks to Lauren for this guest blog post, and a happy Veganuary!
My love for Lassi knows no bounds. I’d sooner have a Lassi over a milkshake, and of course they can be sweet or salty but always delightful.
It is currently Mango season, so I’m getting beautiful mangoes in my organic veg box regularly. And just like pears, rarely do they arrive in perfectly ripe condition, so there is an element of waiting for the perfect moment of peak ripeness. Use up the mangoes we must do, and having them in a Lassi is one of my favourite ways to enjoy them!
We are blessed in West Cork to have Gloun Cross Dairy on our doorstep (more or less, West Cork is bigger than you might think!) I adore their milk, their cream and their Buttermilk too. It’s proper stuff, thick and full of goodness with just about the most perfect texture for Lassi making! Because its February, and because our immune systems are screaming for sunshine and warmth, (still a good few weeks away yet), I added organic, whole turmeric root here. It helps to boost the golden, sunshiny colour, but also is a great immune booster, good for the gut and to help ward anyway any nagging aches and pains with its anti-inflammatory properties. Despite its colour, it’s not sweet, but earthy in flavour, so a little goes a long way!
I added West Cork honey for some additional sweetness and goodness, and a little spritz of fresh lime juice just to enliven the natural acidity in the buttermilk to make the whole thing sing. Your blender does all the work for you, making this a perfect fuss free breakfast drink that sings of the warmer, sunnier days to come!
Time saving tip: keep ready to use frozen mango in your freezer, and simply add two handfuls to the blender!
Ingredients (makes 1 Lassi):
- 1 ripe mango, peeled and chopped;
- 2 cm piece of fresh turmeric root, peeled and grated (wash hands afterwards to prevent staining);
- 150ml of fresh Buttermilk;
- 2 tsp raw honey;
- Spritz of fresh lime juice;
- Place everything into a blender. Blend on high for 2 mins (or more if your blender is less powerful), ensuring everything has been well blended.
- Pour into a glass and consume with glee!
Talking of mangoes… Dianne Jacob won the MFK Fisher award for her essay, The Meaning of Mangoes. Have a read of it HERE.
If you liked that, you might be interested to know that Dianne will be coming to West Cork in October this year to co-host a food writing workshop and food tour with yours truly called Food With a Story to Tell. Full event information and online booking can be found HERE …
Early Bird offer runs until 31st March 2020!
I’m one of those people who adore Brussel Sprouts. Mr Flavour refers to them as The Devil’s Vegetable, a non-compliment he bestows upon Cauliflower – also a favourite vegetable of mine. It’s a wonder how it is we have managed to be together for 20 years to be honest!
Frankly, it’s all in the cooking of them, and this recipe which will hopefully inspire you to gather up the last of this season’s wonder veg, is inspired by my food hero, Nigel Slater who penned a recipe for Brussels and Stilton Soup. My version could also be eaten with a spoon, from a bowl, wrapped in your Jim Jams against the last of the winter storms in front of a roaring fire with a decent box set for company. All’s fair in love and Brussel Sprouts…
Because this recipe requires the sprouts to be thinly sliced, there is no need for steaming or boiling to death. Instead this is like a gentle braise, enhancing their flavour while retaining form and texture.
Ingredients: (serves 2 people generously)
- 1tbsp Olive oil
- Some Brussel Sprouts (however many you’d like, I’m not here to judge you), peeled and thinly sliced;
- Roast Chicken pieces (don’t be roasting a chicken especially for this dish, but it is great for using up any left over chicken);
- 1 medium white onion, finely diced;
- Generous splash of a decent white wine – whatever you have to hand, but not a sweet wine;
- Creamy blue cheese – I used Macroom Buffalo Blue here because it is a stunning cheese to use wherever possible;
- Handful of chopped parsley;
- Pumpkin seeds
- Knob of butter, sea salt and black pepper
- Preheat a deep saute pan, add the oil and the onion over a low heat until the onions turn translucent but not coloured.
- Add in the sliced Brussel Sprouts, and stir about to cover.
- Lash over the wine, 150ml should do it – a small glass.
- Cover and allow to cook gently for about 5 minutes.
- Uncover, allow the liquid to reduce slightly, then add in the roast chicken. Stir to combine.
- Add in the blue cheese, reserving some. Mix it through with the reduced liquid to create a creamy sauce that lightly coats.
- Add in the fresh chopped parsley and season to taste.
- Sprinkle over the pumpkin seeds.
- Pile up onto a plate, and finish with a few little nubs of blue cheese.
- Serve with thick, crusty bread, and a glass of that lovely white wine!
Twas three nights before Christmas, and Mr Flavour and I palmed off our beloved Springer Spaniel onto our unwitting friends and heading to Cork for a night of food, drink, a Bag O’Cans and a gig in a Church. Rock and Roll!
The gig in questions was Beoga, Live at St Lukes, an incredible live music venue in a deconsecrated Church where there’s no drink to be had, only what you can stuff into a shopping bag from the Off Licence across the road. Beoga are great (watch and listen here), St Luke’s is brilliant; but it was the pre-gig dinner at newly opened The Glass Curtain that really kicked off the evening in spectacular fashion.
Back in August, I had gotten wind of a new restaurant opening on MacCurtain Street inside the old Thompson bakery while interviewing for a feature on Midleton’s fEast Food Festival in September. I managed to wangle an email contact for Brian Murray, a returning Corkonia, head chef and soon to be proprietor, and got in contact, asking him to let me know when the restaurant would open. Now, you would think that Brian had more important things to worry about that emailing me on the eve of the restaurant’s opening in early December, but he did. Attaching his press release was a lovely note recalling how our paths had briefly crossed earlier in the year. Those are the kind of personal touches that make you realise this is a chef who pays attention. I had thought I wouldn’t get to dine until after the festive season, but the impromptu decision to make a night of it in Cork for the gig meant I could make good on my intention earlier than planned.
Things to note about The Glass Curtain:
- It’s small. Only 36 seats with a funky bijoux bar with high stalls, perfect for sipping cocktails and partaking in a couple of the small plates.
- The kitchen is open and HUGE. I like seeing the chef team work – it gives a sense of dinner and a show. The long narrow nature of the space means the kitchen space is cavernous!
- A menu that can be shared or devoured alone. Small plates that can be shared or eaten as individual starters; large plates the same. It’s a flexible approach to menus that I love, personally, but for some might be a bit baffling.
- Have a cocktail before dining. Because the cocktails are excellent.
The Glass Curtain is about local, seasonal foods and celebrating the best of Cork grown and reared produce. Food is cooked over fire and charcoal; there is also magik and wizardry. Meat and fish feature throughout, but vegetables are treated with the level of detail ensuring that, only when together, does the flesh truly sing.
Casing point: For my large plate, I ordered Collar of Pork (a cut rarely seen on restaurant menus but one I love for its rich flavour and yielding texture). Served blushing, just the way it should be, melting and seared with sweetly sour sticky tamarind, it was possibly one of the best treatments of meat I have had this year (one exception: duck at The Chestnut, Ballydehob). It was served with a house made spicy Peanut Rayu and a selection of three cabbages: kale, sweetheart cabbage and green cabbage. The pork on its own was very good indeed, but only when eaten with the cabbage, buttery and smokey from the grill, did the dish truly come alive. I’ve always said that cabbage is a much underrated vegetable, and I would wager that Brian and I share the same belief; for while the Pork was meant to convince you of being the star of the show, frankly it was the unexpected glorious performance of the supporting act, Cabbage, that stole the show and made the Collar of Pork even better than it was on its own. A triumph of technique and flavour wrapped up in a cape of modesty. Positively indecent cabbage, in all the right ways.
Mr Flavour has a penchant for beef, and so opted for the Ribeye. Darkly barked and smokey without, erubescent within; sighing in surrender to the knife and served with an unctuous bone marrow jus: “This,” Mr Flavour proclaimed, “This is the best Ribeye I have ever eaten. EVER!” Now, Mr Flavour is not one to be given over to public, or even private, effusive proclamations of approval. ‘Tis Grand’ is the height of his usual praise, so you can imagine how utterly suspicious I was of this sudden outburst. But he kept saying it over and over again, so decided this euphoria was well placed. I was proffered a measly morsel, which thankfully was enough for me to agree with Mr Flavour that, indeed, this was a very delicious piece of beef, cooked to perfection. Bone marrow, I have determined, has the ability to do strange things to folk. And as this was our second taste of it, (the first being a split femur, from the size of it, filled with grilled onions and a crunchy herby crust), we were both certainly well indulged.
So, what else did we indulge in? In addition to the bone marrow small plate, we also inhaled the sweet and earthy Beetroot Tartare with Horseradish Tofu and Nori and the Seared Scallops with Coconut and Broccoli. And once again, the vegetable treatment was excellent. Someone, probably famous, once said: anyone can cook a piece of meat, but it takes skill to get the most out of vegetables. I concur.
A note about dessert. As in previous posts, you may already be away of my proclivity towards anything remotely custardy. Therefore, it was an inevitable that to finish, I opted for the Honey Custard Tart with Nutmeg and Fresh Cream, scattered atop with Pistachios. Take me to church! (Well, ironically, I kinda did afterwards). Thick and stiff, like clotted cream, super thin, crispy pastry and that hint of wintery nutmeg. Rich yet light, completely indulgent and a day hasn’t passed that I haven’t thought about it and wanted it. Can one hold an obsessive desire for an inanimate plate of dessert? Well, I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!
We arrived for an early sitting, but by the time we departed, dragging our full but happy bodies up the hill to the Offy for a Bag O’Cans and onto our gig, The Glass Curtain was hopping! I feel right now that only those in the know know about The Glass Curtain, but it won’t be too long before word properly gets out, and it’ll be a fight to the end for a table. And so it should be. Brian may have spent the last few years of his career Not In Cork, but now he is very much Back In Cork and, from his careful selection of ingredients, and the careful treatment of them using seemingly nothing but fire and a shed load of butter, Brian is a chef reveling in his prodigal return.
I don’t profess to know much about Korean food, but there is something reminiscent of this cuisine in Brian’s menu. Yes, there are overtures of Asian flavours, the smoke and fire charcoal BBQ element is very on trend with Korean BBQ right now; and yet the way these ingredients and flavours are put together are still recognisably, well, Irish? Tis far from Nori, Coconut and Tofu we might have been raised, but the core ingredients are well rooted in Ireland – embracing great Irish produce with flavours from far away, melding them together and creating something venturing on Modern Irish.
Cork City is settling in well to its reputation as an exciting proposition for diners, and The Glass Curtain is hitting a pitch perfect point between casual dining and restaurant dining; where the customers are made to feel like family and the food is excellent yet understated. I simply cannot recommend this restaurant enough.
A joy. An absolute joy.
I can’t tell you how much I love this dish! I sometimes exchange the cheese for homemade Kofte, but using Macroom Buffalo Haloumi is a really great substitute for a Meat Free feast!
There are a few elements to this dish, but actually if you follow the sequence in the method, you’ll find that it’ll all be done in under 40 minutes. Also worth noting is that this sauce will make more than you need, but don’t fret – this sauce goes with everything! Just portion off what you don’t use for this and use for a quick and easy pasta dish another night!
- Two tins of tomatoes
- 1 medium red onion, finely diced
- Olive oil and a generous knob of butter
- Sea salt
- 1 large aubergine, sliced into rounds
- 1 or 2 egg whites
- Panko breadcrumbs, seasoned with black pepper
- 1 pack of Macroom Buffalo Halloumi, slice in half length ways
- Dried oregano
- Green herby pesto: either homemade or a good quality shop bought one
- In a deep saucepan, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and the butter. Gently fry off the onion until its softened but not taken on any colour. Add the tomatoes and cook for at least 30 mins on a low heat, stirring every so often.
- While the sauce is cooking, place the aubergine slices in a colander and salt over generously. Set aside.
- When the sauce is cooked, place everything into a blender a wiz until super smooth. Check for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper. Place back in the saucepan ready to warm through.
- Pat the aubergine slices with kitchen paper, then brush both sides with the egg white. Pane on one side only with the breadcrumbs.
- In a large heavy based frying pan, heat some oil and then cook the aubergine slices on the naked side first, then flip and cook through on the crumbed side until golden brown. Set aside.
- Warm through the sauce until it just begins to bubble.
- Prepare the halloumi with a light brush of oil and sprinkle a small amount of dried oregano on both sides. Fry off until golden brown in the frying pan used for the aubergines.
- Spoon a generous amount of the tomato sauce onto a place and frame with slices of the aubergine. Place the halloumi in the middle of the tomato sauce and top with a spoonful of pesto.
I made this recipe back in September just as the autumn was starting to make an appearance in earnest. And, despite it taking me a solid three months to get it up on the blog, thankfully all the flavours are still as relevant as we head into the end of one year and the beginning of a new one!
With some dishes I come up with, I wonder where a dish transforms from being a mere assemblage of ingredients into an actual recipe, and this is very much one of those dishes. So whichever it may technical set upon, the ingredients and method, such that it is, is noted below. But aside from all of that, this is the kind of dish that is pure comfort and joy. Don’t stimp on loading the roasting tray for the squash/pumpkin with endless cloves of garlic so that the kitchen is filled with that: the best aroma of all!
Ingredients (serves 2):
- Enough Oriecchiette pasta for two people
- 1/2 Butternut Squash, peeled, deseeded and cubed into 1inch pieces
- Lots of garlic – at least 5 cloves, in their skin and smashed
- 20g of blue cheese (Shepherds Store works well)
- 1 pack of Gubbeen streaky bacon, sliced into thin lardons
- 2 generous handfuls of seasonal kale, destem and tear the leaves.
- Handful of toasted pumpkin seeds
- Parmesan cheese
- Olive oil, sea salt and pepper
- Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, prepare the squash and arrange it on a baking tray. Toss in the smashed cloves of garlic, drizzle over a small amount of olive oil. Toss through and roast until the squash is tender. Turn once during cooking.
- Bring a pan of well salted water to the boil, add in the pasta, a drizzle of olive oil and cook until tender. Drain and set aside.
- Fry off the bacon until all the fat has rendered out and the bacon has gone crispy. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
- Keep the bacon fat, and once the squash is cooked through heat up the bacon fat again and quickly cook the kale leaves until they have softened.
- Into a large sharing bowl, add the drained pasta, squash, pumpkin seeds and the crumbled blue cheese, season with sea salt and black pepper and toss together.
- Scatter about the kale, then crumble the bacon over. Finally, using a veg peeler, peel off some Parmesan cheese over the whole dish and serve immediately.
Let’s talk about new powerhouse restaurant in Cork: Goldie Fish & Ale…
This is some of the most exciting food to grace Cork for a while: if not for the exceptional culinary inventiveness of 25 year old head chef Aishling Moore, or the deliciously friendly front of house service from a dedicated, highly motivated and cohesive team, but for its ethos.
For the past number of years, chatter has been all about #nosetotail and very much in the realm of meat. But other “wholeness” ethics of food production, cookery and consumption are pushing their way past and, in the hands of visionary and talented chefs like Aishling, are making an indelible mark and changing the way we think about what food is and how to better respect it by using the whole of it – not just the best bits: Root to Tip in the veg world, and Gill to Tail in the fish world.
Goldie is a fish and ale restaurant, and the nose to fin ethos is very much alive and kicking here: cod collar panko fried with chervil emulsion; the incredible fish head terrine, prawn cocktail crisps etc.
This, from a diners perspective is what makes Goldie Restaurant exciting – and challenging too. The fish head terrine may not be the first thing you’d automatically jump to, but order it – it is a texture somewhere between sushi and soft yieldingness of a crab salad: fresh, delicate, meaty and a lightness of being from the ribbon of fresh herbs running throughout. Crispy fish skin on top provides a contrasting texture to the soft bite.
The other radical element of this ethos is the commitment to the “whole catch approach” to fishing. Goldie sources all its fish from day boats landing into Ballycotton and Kinsale. These boats are small, heading out and back to shore in a day catching small amounts of seasonal fish from within inshore fishing grounds. The catch is landed in the morning and arrives into Goldie the same day and served up from 5pm to their customers. Family enterprises usually run these boats and are essential for sustaining coastal communities reliant on the inshore fishing trade. Fishing in this way is sustainable in many ways, and by buying the whole catch means that these boats can be sure they have a market for whatever they can catch, but also it is incumbent on the chef team at Goldie to make use of every bit, bite, fin, scale and bone of every fish landed in, making zero/minimal food waste another essential part of their offering thanks to their understanding and respect of the work that goes into bringing this fish to shore.
The interior of the restaurant is almost diner-esque with just a hint of art-deco Hollywood kitsch. There is window seating, counter seating and a few tables towards the back with high stalls. The kitchen is Right There; open to the customers with the pass aglow. Aishling’s team of chefs work with a quiet focus that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but the plates are very seriously good. At the pass, Aishling inspects every dish, adding final garnish flourishes and a last meticulous clean of the plates, and then they are gone and delivered with a studied efficiently to your table in seconds. The dish comes with a spoken guide, and whatever question you may have about the food, its provenance or even what to drink with and why are all questions deftly handled with ease. The whole vibe is relaxed, welcoming; and every now and again in a moment of quiet time, Aishling herself steps out from behind the pass to come and say Hi, find out how your doing, and answer any more questions you might have while singing the Gospel According to Day Boats. It is all simply brilliant.
Finally, let’s talk about Aishling.
I met Aishling nearly two years ago during an interview where someone else was the focus. After that initial interview was over, I sat and chatted to Aishling for a good while, and quickly realised that she was someone to keep a beady eye out for. She was working in Elbow Lane at the time, mastering the grills at this fire only restaurant, and really finding her stride. She had spent her apprenticeship studying Culinary Arts at Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), and had earned stripes working beside strong, talented female chefs Pamela Kelly at Market Lane and Kate Lawlor, the one time proprietor of the now sadly lost to us Fenn’s Quay. We bumped into each other a few times after that: at Food on the Edge in Galway and so on. And then in August earlier this year there was a very unpretentious post on her Instagram story that she was starting a new project and was looking for team members in the kitchen and front of house. Immediately, I got the tingles because it could only mean one thing: Aishling was finally opening a restaurant of her own.
To open a restaurant that just specialises in Fish is a risky business, but Ireland as a whole are finally starting to shake off the negative emotions towards fish, largely as a cultural and social hangover from the time of An Gorta Mhór: when there was nothing else to eat, eat fish. Along with Oysters, Mussels, the rise in popularity and quantity of high end Fish and Chip shops/restaurants and a newly embraced fascination of seaweed and other sea vegetables, we are learning to love fish again. It is our most abundant wild food source, but it is also our most precious, so it makes huge sense from a sustainability point of view that, if we are to start giving fish a more important role in our diets, replacing meat a few times a week, then we shouldn’t make the same mistakes as meat and only cherish the most popular fillets, cuts or species. Goldie does that by looking at the fish as a whole and then turning on the creativity to decide how to use every single part of it; embrace the seasonality of this migratory food source and take pressure off fish stocks but giving equal credence to all fish and seafood, not just the premier and most favoured.
I love what this restaurant is doing; and I love what Aishling and her merry cohort of chefs, front of house staff headed up by the ever smiling Jerry, and beer sommeliers have created. Being part of the wonderfully diverse Market Lane Group, (encompassing: Market Lane, Elbow Lane Restaurant and Brewhouse, Orso and the Castle Cafe in Blackrock), Goldie Fish & Ale is yet another very exciting addition but still with that unmistakable friendly and welcoming MLG touch.
And, without a shadow of a doubt, keep an eye on one young lady in particular. At only 25 years old, Aishling Moore is going to become a name that you will start to hear more and more often. She is already a gift to the culinary scene of Cork city, and one that will no doubt continue to develop both skill and creativity – and that is a very exciting prospect indeed.
Five Stars. I will become a regular here…
Find out more: www.goldie.ie – also on Instagram
There were whispers about things of beauty being brewed and bottled in West Cork; things of a very adult nature indeed. Made to majestically pair with crafted spirits, but equally good on their own as a grown up tipple. This is the world of Fintan’s – Small Batch Botanicals Handcrafted in West Cork.
Pamela Weaver and Janet Paterson are foodies and brewers – and from their home near Bantry in West Cork they have created a range of Botanical Syrups and Shrubs from exotic aromats and locally harvested berries.
Ireland is home to some ingenious small batch distillers, and for Pamela, it seemed disingenuous to their time and effort that there wasn’t an equally well-made mixer to pair with it.
Having gone as far as she could experimenting brewing beer at home, Pamela decided to try her hand at brewing tonics instead. The result is a small but beautifully curated range of Botanical Syrups and shrubs to compliment a craft spirit, or simply virgin, on its own, with some sparkling water as a refreshing adult-friendly non-alcoholic drink.
Having finally got my mitts on a bottle of each, I set about experimenting to see what goes well with each. I still haven’t cracked what to do with the Blackberry and Lime Shrub (my earlier attempts were lacking in something, so I have to return to it again!), but for Botanical Syrups 1 & 2 I am happy indeed with the results! The good news for you is that, like all my cocktail recipes, you don’t need any fancy kit to make them! So dive in, chin-chin, and set your watch to Cocktail O’Clock!
The range of Fintan’s come with a handy set of tasting notes. These helped enormously in identifying other flavours and craft spirits that I thought would work well with each.
Botanical Syrup No. 1 : Orange and citrus notes with an edge of tartness. Whole green cardamom and allspice berries round things out with a light spice note in the background.
By order of the king
Working the orange and cardamom hints and warming spicy background of Botanical Syrup No.1, I decided to bring it together with the rather superb Kinsale Mead Co’s Wild Red Mead, rich with tart berry flavours, and The King’s Ginger, a luxuriously warming ginger liqueur. The vanilla sugar dusted rim helps to soften the spices, heat, acidity and sweetness to give a pleasing finishing mouthfeel.
- 50ml Kinsale Mead Co Wild Red Mead
- 25ml Fintan’s Botanical Syrup No. 1
- 10ml The King’s Ginger
- 130ml Sparkling Water
- Vanilla Sugar and Orange to garnish.
- Muddle Mead, Syrup and King’s Ginger with slices of fresh juicy orange. Brush the rim of a glass with orange juice and dust with vanilla sugar. Strain and pour the mixture into the glass and garnish with orange.
Botanical Syrup No. 2 : Genuine cinchona bark gives this its classic, ultra-dry tonic notes. Wood and spice undertones complement the hit of quinine, with grains of paradise for a little pepper, rounded out with grapefruit and fennel.
I knew that I wanted to pair Botanical Syrup No.2 with gin, and my favourite of all is Beara Ocean Gin. It is distilled from West Cork whey and flavoured with sea water, sea kelp and fuchsia botanicals among many others. I’ve always been drawn to gin and passionfruit as a winning flavour combination, and with the prevalent grapefruit coming from No. 2 syrup for me, this just made sense! This is a juicy, tangy and uplifting cocktail, suitably able to transport you to somewhere hot and full of palm trees…
- 50ml Beara Ocean Gin
- 25ml Botanical Syrup No. 2
- Seeds and juice from 2 passionfruits
- Sparkling water and passionfruit garnish
- Muddle and then shake together vigorously with ice cubes the gin, syrup and passionfruit. Strain and pour into a martini glass, top with sparkling water and garnish with a passionfruit round.
There are many things I love doing with my down time: walking, eating great food, relaxing, playing with my dog, Buddy. I also love heading away for a spontaneous nights away in a lovely hotel to escape the everyday.
As a committed dog parent, spontaneity isn’t always possible; because, like any responsible parent, we have to get a minder or beg, plead and borrow for a boarding kennel at 11th hour notice. But I do so love it when I can indulge in all the things I love about my down time and am able to combine it with an escape to the countryside where my pet is as welcome as I am, and then add all manner of bells and whistles and what you have is one of my favourite places of all time to walk, dine, relax and have adventures with Buddy, my dog. Welcome to Liss Ard Country House Estate.
Liss Ard is less than five minutes’ drive from the bustling west Cork market town of Skibbereen. The elegant Georgian estate is nestled in 163 acres of gardens and peppered with unique vignettes such as James Turrell’s award winning Sky Garden. The elegant Country House, built in 1856, is hidden from view until arriving virtually at its doorstep. It has an immediate welcoming air, relaxed and dripping with understated luxury.
Liss Ard has changed hands many times in its 165 year history, but in the hands of the Stern Family based in Switzerland it is undergoing something of a renaissance.
Since 2017, a small but ambitious chef team has been built busy reimagining what it means to be a restaurant in a hotel. Head Chef, Danny Barter, along with a young talented sous chef in Josh Graddon, have been garnering a reputation for Liss Ard as an exciting and creative dining destination.
There are orchards, lakes, walled gardens and areas rich for collecting wild foods and mushrooms that grow in abundance in the grounds. In late Spring when the grounds reopen to the public, the woodland walks are carpeted in bluebells and the apple trees are heavy with blossom. But to really appreciate what Liss Ard has to offer, one simply has to stay and dine!
Throughout the year, Liss Ard host sumptuous dining events; tasting menus created by Danny and Josh and a welcoming experience curated by Aidan, Mags, Paul and David. Over the past two years, I have dined four times at Liss Ard, three times at their dining experience evenings. Most recently, Mr Flavour and I dined at their A Taste of Romance event on 16th February, two days post Valentine’s on a Saturday evening.
Segueway back to my dog, Buddy. Of course, you can stay in the human-friendly and rather grand surroundings of the Country House itself. The elegantly appointed rooms come with views and vistas of rolling green fields and beckoning forests as far as the eye can see. But where I love to stay is in the adjacent Mews Cottages; a handful of miniature houses-cum-apartments that open out into individual courtyards that back onto an expanse of immaculately kept lawn and head gardener, Sally’s, walled vegetable garden. These are Liss Ard’s pet-friendly cottages.
These apartments are sleek and modern and full of the comforts of home so your pet can feel like they are having a holiday and adventure in a home from home! Where practically replaces opulence, quaintness, privacy and your own courtyard patch with seats for when the sun shines more than makes up for it. You and your pooch will love it – and that’s before they have even started to explore the numerate trails, paths and super-fun spots that will leave them with their legs walked off. Perfect timing, in fact, for when you settle them in for the night as you head across to the big house, the restaurant and an evening of delectatious dining!
We are welcomed by the site of something fizzy and giddy being poured into glasses, as the sounds of piano and violin echo through the galleries and spacious drawing rooms of the first floor. Ever since we arrived to check in, there have been deep, rich, meaty aromas drifting on the breeze, catching our noses and making our tummies gurgle with desire.
We are called to dinner with a tinkling bell, and Aidan, the General Manager, requesting the pleasure of our company in the restaurant, situated downstairs. Tables are decorated simply but elegantly, and I am delighted to see that the tradition of tonight’s menu presented on an antiqued scroll is maintained. An amuse bouche to kick things off; a playful pear dish to start; followed by duck, gin cured salmon, charcoal flame-grilled Cote de Boeuf and a buffet assiette of desserts to finish. It was an outstanding menu, a great night, super comfortable stay and a brilliant breakfast the morning after too. Plus the opportunity to walk it all off and to head home full, happy with one delighted Buddy in tow too. Now, that’s how to make everyone jealous on a Monday morning when your colleagues ask you, “What did you do this weekend…”
Read on below for my best attempts at describing how wonderful each course was. By the time you’ve gotten to the end, you’ll be looking to book into their next event, or visit, or stay, or maybe start figuring out if maybe you could just live there forever…
Follow Liss Ard on social media to get first hand news of their dining experiences, or their fantastic value stay and play packages. Bring the kids; bring the dog – make the most of every second at this gem of all hidden gems in West Cork. Have a peak around… www.lissardestate.ie
Our first course was a mouth tingling Gazpacho. A light and refreshing heirloom tomato water topped with red onion and chili and a drop of herb oil. The tingle of chili and onion really set our taste buds alight – we were ready for the next five courses!
White Wine Poached Mini Pear with Baked Walnut Crumb, Pomegranate Seeds, Goats Cheese Snow, Quince Jelly, Thyme & Cranberry Dressing
This was such a fun starter! The dainty look of the dish belied the great punchy flavours. The goats cheese snow melted creamily on the tongue – it’s the perfect time of year for super creamy fresh goats cheese as the new kidding season gets underway. Walnut and thyme are perfect partners to both the pear and goats cheese. It was the cranberry gel that was the delight of this dish though… candy sweetness with a hint of tartness seemed to be bring all the elements together harmoniously.
…you know that thing in a murder mystery where the person who did it is revealed at the end, turning out to be the person you didn’t even notice earlier in the movie? That’s what the cranberry was like here! I wasn’t sure if it would be a flavour too far, but in the end it was pivotal to everything else working together perfectly!
Pan-seared Skeaghanore Duck Breast, Confit Leg Bon Bon, Garden Pea and Pearl Onion Cassoulet, Pickled Blackberries and Creme de Cassis Jus
WOW! This was our favourite course of all – and that is something as the whole menu was epic last night!
Perfectly, and I mean PERFECTLY, cooked duck breast flavoured subtly with anise; the confit bonbon with a hint of bright orange zest, sweet pickled carrots and juicy bright pickled blackberries. A total triumph; but then the pea and pearl onion cassoulet licked with the deep, rich, sweet/sour jus provided a glorious bedrock for everything else on the plate to sing. There was nothing left on our plate after this – the cooking and flavour balance were spot on.
I loved that nothing was smoked here – something that seems to happen a lot these days as a “modern twist” on cooking duck, and although I am partial to a smoked meat or two, when duck is in the hands of a chef who understands how to cook duck right, it has a delicate flavour that can be easily overtaken by smoking. Here, this dish is all about quality of the primary ingredient – the duck, and the skill of cooking it with classic flavours put together in a well considered way. Nothing sticky or crying here – these flavours are fresh, light, clean and brilliantly balanced!
Fresh Strawberry & Garnish Island Gin Cured Salmon, Elderflower Tonic Gel, Pink Grapefruit and Black Mustard Seed
After such a rich dish previously, this light and refreshing fish course was a great way to refresh the taste buds!
Thick slices of house cured salmon had taken on the flavour of the floral Gin, and the tonic gel complimented perfectly, the quinine tang balancing the rich fattiness of the fish. Pink grapefruit both cleansed the palate and partnered with the tonic gel and gin cured salmon effortlessly. The black mustard seeds were an inspired change from black pepper offering both nutty flavour and mustard heat rather than just pepper heat! It’s all in the quality of that salmon.
Charcoal Flame-Grilled Côte de Bœuf, Baled Marrow of Leg, Crispy Shallot Rings, Pickled Land Mushrooms, Broccoli Chutney, Blackened Merlot Jus
Be still my beating heart… Before this awesome plate of beefy loveliness was placed before us, we were asked if we would be happy for our meat to be served medium rare, and also that it would be served to share. This was when we started to get excited about what was coming!
Where to start… this was such a phenomenal tasting piece of beef. Started on a charcoal grill, the bark yielded unbelievable flavour, kicking off the malliard process and unlocking all that flavour potential in the marbling and aging. So perfectly pink, so so tender, layers of flavour and endlessly satisfying. The blackened merlot sauce was thick enough to glaze the meat adding extra umami. Crisp from shallots, zing from pickled but meaty mushrooms and an ingenious sweet broccoli chutney (broccoli still had plenty of bite – perfect!)
Frankly, the nicest piece of beef I have had in a long time. I love how the chef team@had taken the time to select an amazing prime ingredient at its peak and doing very little to it allowing it to stand by itself and take all the praise. It takes a confident chef to do that, to avoid over complicating something and running out the uniqueness that inspired a dish in the first place. We couldn’t finish it all, but insisted what was left was boxed up so we could take it away with us. Something this good should never be wasted! I want the recipe for that broccoli chutney, and if I only ate beef once a year from now on, this would be my beef dish of choice. So, so good! Bravo chef!
Dessert Buffet: Raspberry Macaroon, Chocolate Mousse, Honeycombe Pieces; Lemon Meringue Tartlet; Cheesecake with Rhubarb Gel
I’m not quite sure how anyone else managed to eat one whole plate of these to themselves, they did, but we didn’t! Everyone of these miniature desserts were a delight, it’s hard to know which I enjoyed most! Was it the chewyness of the macaron against the velvety texture of the chocolate mousse; or maybe the marshmallowy Italian meringue or the vanilla rich cheesecake?
Ah, hell, it was all so good!! We did our best to demolish as much as we could and finished the whole thing off with a dram of West Cork Distillery bourbon cask finished Irish Whiskey. Put a fork in me, I’m done! Only thing left is to walk the whole thing off around the estate grounds!
Buddy seal of approval! WOOF!
Orso, tucked away on Pembroke Street in the heart of Cork city, is a restaurant that’s always on the “to go to” list for locals, and a delight to have stumbled upon as a first time visitor. Small but perfectly formed, Orso has never been afraid to bring something new and authentic to the discerning casual diners of the city.
And as a lover of Levant cuisine myself (food from the region that stretches from the southern Mediterranean coasts of Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey to the old Persian kingdoms of Iraq, Iran and Syria, and encompassing North East Africa, Palestine, Lebanon and Israel), I’m always delighted to settle in to eat. It is a cuisine that balances earthy and aromatic spices with an abundance of fresh herbs and punches of acidity from citric fruits both fresh and preserves. Charcoal vegetables, slow cooked meats, tangy yogurts and pillowy breads all amount to why Levant food is my favourite of all (second only to “Indian” food…).
For Corkonians, there is one place in our City (recently voted 3rd friendliest city in the world too, by the way), that captures our hearts more than any other. Maybe it’s because it has been part of the Cork City landscape for long; maybe it’s the Parisian feel of La Fayettes Cafe or the sumptuous surroundings of Wine Bar Seventy Six?
Well, not that anyone ever needed an excuse to extend that grá to a visit to The Pembroke Restaurant, but since Jerome Joyce strolled into town with his band of merry chefs there is now one extra reason to go weak at the knees for The Imperial Hotel on South Mall, in Cork…boi.