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

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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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My Culinary Hero – Myrtle Allen at 90, Ballymaloe at 50

BallymaloeFamilyMarch2014_large

From left: Rory O’Connell, (Myrtle’s daughter) Tash Harty, (Myrtle’s son) Rory Allen, Joe Cronin, Colm McCan, Darina Allen, Rachel Allen, Myrtle Allen, Hazel Allen in the Drawing Room at Ballymaloe House. (Pic: Denis Scannell/Irish Examiner)

Contrary to popular opinion, The Swashbuachaill is not a callous sort though it may well appear so, such is the lack of attention or care devoted to this poor old site. But in fact, The Swashbuachaill is writing all the time, churning out the paid-for stuff that foots the bills, so will endeavour to regularly post links to aforementioned scribblings until such time as his carefully wrought investment strategies* come to fruition enabling him to retire entirely from the world of hard labour and solely dedicate himself to his dear, dear reader/s.

(*occasional scratchcards, half-baked notions of pursuing poorly thought-out business ideas at some ill-defined time in the future, a rather misguided notion of karma)

Which brings me to the cover story in last Saturday’s Irish Examiner Weekend magazine, a feature I wrote about my great culinary hero, Myrtle Allen, who is 90 years of age on March 13, in this year, the 50th anniversary of Ballymaloe House as a restaurant. Imagine, a farmer’s wife, 40 years old with six children, the youngest just three, and she decides to open a restaurant in her front room with no formal culinary training save a series of night classes in the Cork College of Commerce. Just over a decade later, she has a Michelin star  but, without doubt, the even greater achievement was introducing and standing by her culinary philosophy, whereby she saw it as  a chef’s duty to use the very finest of local, seasonal produce and, dispensing with ego and the panoply of ‘cheffy’ tricks and techniques that so often disguise inferior ingredients, to allow this food the star turn on the plate. It is a philosophy that the late Chef Gerry Galvin, dubbed ‘revolutionary’ at the time but is now accepted best practice the world over and, in the culinary world, her renown—very rightly!—is global. Happy Birthday, Myrtle!

Fungarvan – Waterford Festival of Food 2012

The Brewer (Claire Dalton), The Blogger (Niamh Sheils) & The Baker (Eunice Power) - Pic: Karen Dempsey

So, The Swashbuachaill is back home again, and contrary to the old saw, the heart is not yet here, still lagging way behind somewhere east of Cork city, loath to leave Dungarvan town. And the spiteful, spitting rain, that sly chill wind without Swashbuachaill Manor only adds to the pain of returning to the real world after yet another glorious spell in the alternative universe that is the Waterford Festival of Food but is often and very appropriately abbreviated to ‘Fungarvan’. Continue reading

My reviews of the Electric (Irish Examiner & The Bridgestone Guide)

Honestly, The Swashbuachaill is not on a retainer from The Electric; it was sheer coincidence that I was asked to do these reviews within days of each other. Hardly surprising, when you think about it, as The Electric is getting noticed in a lot of places. Nominated for the Restaurant Association of Ireland awards in 2011 as best casual dining in its first year of opening gives you an idea of the standards they are aiming to reach.

http://www.bestofbridgestone.com/blog/joe-mcnamee-electric-cork

http://www.examiner.ie/weekend/foodandwine/switch-on-the-senses-184879.html

My Irish Examiner review of Star Anise

ImageIt’s surprising how many people are unaware of the existence of Star Anise but Bridge St, where it is located, is a connecting street, a class of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it link between the quays and MacCurtain St, so perhaps that may be why. Actually, I worked on Bridge St many moons ago and it is one of my favourite streets in Cork, a little self-contained universe including Cork Coffee Roasters Café, one of the very best coffee shops in the country. Star Anise, too, has become another valuable member of that community,  it is a rare gift to be able to create a feeling of real welcome. And Star Anise has that gift.

http://www.examiner.ie/weekend/foodandwine/added-value-183256.html