Sage Words

midleton brick

Another Irish Mail on Sunday restaurant review from last year, this time of Sage restaurant, in Midleton, Co Cork, run by Chef/Proprietor Kevin Aherne — great restaurant and a great chef! Continue reading

Pilgrim’s Progress

april 2016 pilgrims

This is a review I wrote for the Irish Mail on Sunday, last August, 2015. Pilgrim’s is a very fine little restaurant based in Rosscarbery, in West Cork, owned and operated by chef Mark Jennings and his partner, Sarah-Jane Pearce, who runs front of house. It took just a single meal for it to be instantly installed as one of my most favourite dining establishments around, offering some genuinely original interpretations of superb local, seasonal produce in a wonderfully zen-filled setting.

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Dishing Up the Nosebag at A Taste of West Cork Food Festival 2015

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Cold Smoked Loin of Tuna, Lemon Basil Aioli; Smoked Mackerel, Wasabi Crème Fraiche; Gin Gimlet Scallops, Cucumber Risotto, Pickled Samphire. (Photo: Trish Deseine)

It has taken The Swashbuachaill some weeks to recover from his recent foray back into the professional culinary world when he presented a nine-course menu in the magnificent surroundings of Uillinn, home of the West Cork Arts Centre, in Skibbereen, as part of the Taste of West Cork food festival. He was delighted and honoured to be invited by chairperson Helen Collins and the festival team to participate in this wonderful celebration of some of the finest food to be found anywhere in the world and it was billed as ‘The Menu Cooks The Menu” a nod to his epicurean alter ego and the title of his weekly food column, The Menu, in The Irish Examiner, the idea being to showcase some of the very splendid Irish produce he features each week in the aforementioned publication.

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And, Lo, he Did Emerge from the Jungle!

Behind the counter at Elbow Lane Brew & Smokehouse – a fine new addition to the Cork dining scene

It is some time since The Swashbuachaill has graced this fair forum, buried, as he has been, under an unforgiving pile of children, academia and actual paid work and he is still desperately scrambling to catch up with himself. So, instead of posting new material, he shall take the slacker’s option and simply upload some of the paid-for work of recent times, such as the following, from the Irish Examiner, yet another annual summer round-up of dining choices in Ireland. (Can’t emphasise enough, though: this is not a definitive ‘best of’ list; rather, excellent options encountered on The Swashbuachaill’s travels around this fair isle during the previous 12 months.)

http://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/foodanddrink/features/food-columnist-joe-mcnamee-is-back-with-his-annual-foodie-awards-339342.html

Food fraud Ain’t Just Flogging Horse-burgers

Spinach & Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms' Shiitake Tart

Spinach & Mushroom Tart made with Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms’ Shiitakes

I find it truly disheartening when certain restaurants or retailers choose to exploit the integrity of fine growers and producers and, ultimately, the consumer by perpetrating food fraud—here’s a piece I wrote on the subject, now up on the Irish Food Writers’ Guild website, after yet another ‘episode’, this time involving Ballyhoura Mushrooms.

And in case the link doesn’t get you there directly … Continue reading

Asturias and Cantabria, Northern Spain

A traditional shepherd’s dwelling in Los Picos de Europa, Asturias, Spain

The Swashbuachaill has been off on yet another skite to his beloved Spain. He has more than a few dear Spanish friends and has long held the view that they are closer in temperament to the Irish than most other peoples of Europe. For years, his Spanish meanderings were concentrated in the South, most particularly, Andalucia, other than a few trips to Barcelona but more recent visits to the Basque Country, La Rioja and now Asturias and Cantabria have revealed a whole other dimension to the country: the wonderful welcome and hospitality are the same, maybe even better, but the landscape is entirely different; lush, green and an Atlantic coastline that is quite different from that seen on the ‘Costas’ down South. Driving along the Asturian coastline, a body could as easily be in Ireland as in Northern Spain, albeit on the finest Irish summer’s day imaginable. Here’s a link to a recent piece I wrote about my trip for the Irish Examiner. (Do please excuse the sub-editor who decided that Asturias and Cantabria are actually the neighbouring region, Basque or Basque Country!)  Continue reading

Ballymaloe Litfest of Food & Wine 2014

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For the weekend that’s in it, here’s four of my most recent articles, all previewing the 2nd Ballymaloe Litfest. Last year’s inaugural event defied all expectations, even those of the organisers, and I’m gearing up for yet another splendid weekend even if my own schedule (including a 9.30am interview on Sunday morning with one of Ireland’s Queens of Cheese, the magnificent Giana Ferguson of Gubbeen, which The Swashbuachaill shall conduct in an entirely somnolent state) appears to have been planned with the sole intention of  putting manners on The Swashbuachaill’s innate ability to party for Ireland. If you get the chance, do visit what will be the premier culinary gathering anywhere on the globe this weekend.  Continue reading