Cellar Tours Blog

Archive for the ‘Ireland Gourmet’ Category

Kilbeggan Distillery, located in central Ireland, makes some of the best premium whiskies in the world including Connemara Peated Single Malt, Tyrconnell Single Malt, Greenore Single Grain, and Kilbeggan Irish whiskey.

We had the chance to interview their distiller, Andrina Fitzgerald this month and are delighted to share it with our readers.

CELLAR TOURS-  How do you find it being one of the the only female distillers in Ireland?

I am no longer the only female distiller in Ireland. Jameson has recently hired an apprentice female distiller. It is great for the industry to see women getting involved in the production side of the whiskey industry. Primarily it was a male dominated world, and even to this day when visitors hear there is a distiller on site at Kilbeggan, they are a bit surprised to see a woman operating the stills. I’m proud to have the opportunity to learn the trade from the masters before me – I take pride in my work and appreciate the fact that I am very lucky to have the job I have. I love the science behind the craft but also knowing that I am creating something from scratch which others will enjoy in a few years’ time, fills me with pride.

kilbeggan 3

CELLAR TOURS- How did you first come to learn about, appreciate and enjoy whiskey?

Everything I have learned, I have learned here on site. Prior to starting the job, I had a very limited knowledge of whiskey, but I understood the science behind the process having studied chemistry and biology at university. With each day that passed, I gained more knowledge about whiskey, the different brands (both what we make and other brands), and what distinguishes one whiskey from another. Being immersed in the day to day running of the distillery ensured that I got a great understanding of whiskey. Knowing the time and effort that goes into creating a whiskey means that I will appreciate the next dram I have.

CELLAR TOURS- What is an average work day for a distiller like?

A typical day for a distiller is full of variety. The morning starts off with getting everything up and running for the day ahead. Once the stills are charged, heated up and running, the rest of the day is taken up with monitoring the stills for flow rate, alcohol strength and temperature, along with doing paperwork, checking in with mashing, fermentation and maturation. And of course meeting and greeting with visitors and telling them how we operate and make whiskey here at the home of Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey.

CELLAR TOURS- What is the main difference between Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey?

The difference primarily lies in location. Scotland is more Northerly than Ireland resulting in colder winters. Ireland has a very temperate climate; the summers are never too warm, the winters never too cold. This lack of extremes allows Irish whiskey to mature at a more mild and mellow pace resulting in a softer, smoother style of whiskey.

8/06/2013 Kilbeggan Distillery Photography. Picture Conor McCabe Photography.

CELLAR TOURS- What types of whiskey do you make at Kilbeggan and do you have a personal fave?

Here at Kilbeggan we are currently making single malt whiskey. We have in the past made some innovation whiskies which are currently maturing in the warehouses here in Kilbeggan. However for now, we are focusing on making single malt which will go into our Kilbeggan blend after maturation. Although I do love all of the brands that we produce, Kilbeggan would be my favourite. I particularly enjoy the caramel and vanilla expressions which are revealed on the palette before finishing quickly with the soft, light malt sugar note. I enjoy having my dram of Kilbeggan on the rocks or in an Irish Coffee.

CELLAR TOURS- Where do your barrels come from? I heard some barrels come from Jerez and Marsala?

Here at Kilbeggan we are using ex-bourbon barrels from America to mature our whiskey. Our barrels are coming from some of the Jim Beam distilleries in America. We use the ex-bourbon barrels for the development of our desired and signature flavours. Another reason for using ex-bourbon barrels is that they are plentiful. Ex-sherry, port or maderia barrels can also be used for maturation, but the supply of these is not as plentiful as the ex-bourbon barrels. Therefore, this makes these barrels more costly to source.

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 CELLAR TOURS-How is Kilbeggan different to the larger players in Ireland like Jameson?

Kilbeggan is a double distilled whiskey. This allows the whiskey to retain more flavor than a triple distilled spirit like Jameson. While as smooth and soft as a triple distilled whiskey, Kilbeggan has more flavor resulting in a more versatile and fuller flavoured whiskey.

CELLAR TOURS- Is it sacrilege to use whiskey in cocktails? If not, is there a certain whiskey cocktail you like?

Definitely not sacrilege! A good cocktail is all about balance and complementary flavours; just like a good whiskey. The beauty of whiskey is that it can be enjoyed in many ways; straight, with a little ice or water, in a long drink like Ginger ale or indeed in a good classic cocktail like an Old Fashioned, Whiskey Sour or Manhattan style drink.

8/06/2013 Kilbeggan Distillery Photography. Picture Conor McCabe Photography.

CELLAR TOURS-What can visitors to the distillery look forward to and is there a best time of year to visit?

Visitors to the Kilbeggan Distillery Experience start their tour in 1757 and discover how Irish whiskey was made in decades past. They will discover the families that owned the distillery in the past and the importance the local community had on what you see today. They’ll see the old mash tuns and fermenters, still in their original positions. Visitors can also get close to the iconic waterwheel which once powered the whole distillery and kept whiskey flowing through Kilbeggan.

A stroll across the courtyard takes you to the present day, where whiskey is being produced in the traditional way – ancient traditions have been passed on from generation to generation, and the team are happy to talk you through what they are doing. Visitors can see the traditional method of mashing in an oak mash tun, fermentation in Oregon pine vats and the new Kilbeggan malt spirit flowing the from ancient pot still –  which is over 186 years old! Of course no visit would be complete without a taste of Kilbeggan’s finest. A visit to Kilbeggan Distillery is a unique experience not to be missed! The Distillery is open 7 days a week, except for between Christmas and New Year periods.

8/06/2013 Kilbeggan Distillery Photography. Picture Conor McCabe Photography.

CELLAR TOURS-With the holidays around the corner, it´s the season for Irish coffee, do you have a Kilbeggan Irish coffee recipe you could share with our readers?

Classic is best. A good shot of Kilbeggan, topped up with freshly brewed coffee and lightly whipped chilled cream floated on the top.

Gourmet Country Houses in Ireland

Posted by gen On October - 25 - 2013

We  had a special wedding anniversary to celebrate earlier this month and decided to visit some of Ireland’s famed country houses. Being foodies, we looked for ones with a fine reputation for their cuisine. We were blown away by the quality of the cooking and hospitality and are delighted to share our travel notes with you!





We had heard great things about this delightful country house in idyllic County Tipperary and it is literally the most enjoyable night we have had in years- and we travel/dine out and stay at great hotels for a living! Located in the quiet village of Clogheen in the foothills of the Knockmealdown Mountains in the famous Vee it´s a truly beautiful part of the country. Colorado native Christine and local chef Dermot Gannon bought this historic property dating back to the late 1800´s in 2005 with the intention of creating the kind of place they themselves would love to stay at- an adults only (ie, for couples who need a night away on their own), food centric luxurious and pampering country house. They have created something extremely special indeed. We arrived in the late afternoon and (thankfully) decided to do a pre dinner walk to get our appetites going. The house is a short walk to the tiny village and there is a lot of history here as well as a charming local pub where we had a great chat with the friendly publican.

Before sitting down to our 8 course gourmet Irish artisan tasting menu we met and chatted with other couples in the super cozy living room, there is a convivial air in the place and your spirits are boosted in this house! Dinner was simply stunning, dish after dish of gorgeousness. They have a nice and varied wine list with names from all over the world including a tempting wine from Lebanon, but we settled on an old time favorite, Condado de Haza reserva.  Breakfast the next day was probably the best breakfast we have ever enjoyed outside of our own house.  Spelt waffles with maple syrup and local bacon, Baked Garden Fresh Hens Eggs with Organic Smoked Salmon and  St. Tola’s Goats Curd & Goatsbridge Caviar were just a few of the delicacies on offer. Needless to say after breakfast a serious walk was in order and luckily the Old Covent is a short drive to some of the loveliest hill walks in the region, which we were grateful for after so much rich cuisine! If we were to recommend one country house in Ireland, this would be it! Great for romance too with the claw foot bathtubs, four poster beds and dreamy setting….





Enroute to Mount Juliet we were graced by bright blue skies and gorgeous sunshine and we visited some fabulous spots. Highlights included the stunning Cistertian Jerpoint Abbey, the Jerpoint glass blowers (they have a neat little shop, the glassware is high end and special), the adorable village of Inistioge (featured in our post on the most beautiful villages in Ireland) and we called in to visit one of our fave cheesemakers, Helen from Knockdrinna near medieval Kilkenny (we will be offering new cheesemaking classes as part of our gourmet tours of Ireland next season).  In the afternoon we arrived to the beautiful Mount Juliet estate, it´s huge! There are 1500 acres of woodlands, gardens and rolling green hills of golf course (there is a world class Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course onsite).  This Irish Georgian country house also boasts their own stables  and equestrian center, and a Michelin starred restaurant, what a treat! We would love to actually come back and spend 3 nights here as there is so much to do- salmon and trout fishing, archery and they have a great spa. Plus it´s only a few miles down the road from Kilkenny which is always lovely to visit (and for foodies, note there is another Michelin starred restaurant in Kilkenny, called Campagne).  We loved the relaxed elegance in the main house and The Lady Helen Restaurant (awarded a Michelin star for 2014) is terrific. The opulent dining room has  panoramic views over the River Nore and like many country estates in Ireland, dishes are used with their own fresh herbs and veg and local ingredients from the county. Highly, highly recommended.





We drove from gorgeous County Kilkenny to the gentle, bucolic region of Carlow. Idyllic rivers crisscross historic villages and this is an extremely authentic pretty area hardly touched by tourism. The main industry is small scale agriculture and there are some gems to discover here. We really loved the tidy town of Leighlinbridge with its Norman castle and Valerian bridge, and the eccentric  Huntington Castle and Gardens are fun (the castle is said to be haunted and they even do a candelit ghost tour!).  We arrived to Kilgraney House, a historic Georgian home stylishly updated with ethnic decor from around the world. After enjoying an aperitif by the fire in the romantic drawing room we sat down to dinner.  Seven courses of dinner! Highlights included wild mushroom risotto and the citrus panna cotta.  Most ingredients are sourced from the estate and the dishes are made with all seasonal ingredients.  In the morning we enjoyed a tour around the beautiful gardens, the owners offer gardening courses and are on the Carlow Garden Trail and it would be fun to go back and do a course, along with one of the aromatherapy treatments they are famous for. For  design lovers, Kilgraney will tick all the right boxes.



A few other great country houses in Ireland we recommend that we have stayed at and enjoyed the dining experience immensely include beautiful Longueville House  (best autumn vegetable soup scented with sorrel EVER), Ballyvolane House (loved the breakfast) and Carrig Country House in beautiful County Kerry (truly stunning country cuisine).

There are a few great resources where you can find lovely historic accommodations in Ireland including the Blue Book, Hidden Ireland, and Manor House Hotels of Ireland.

The Winding Stair Restaurant in Dublin

Posted by gen On May - 20 - 2013

Guest blog-  The Winding Stair Restaurant in Dublin, Ireland

By Maria Burpee

One of the perks of my job is travel. This is about my gourmet experience in Dublin at The Winding Stair. With charming and simple decor and a down-to-earth staff the restaurant felt local and approachable. I started with an Ancora, Pinot Grigio Rose from Italy and then had the Nutty crusted haloumi with nectarine and green peppercorn chutney and caper berries, with a side of rocket. It had a Lackluster presentation and a strange haloumi. Maybe it’s the Irish cows, but it was too creamy to be haloumi in my mind. Is that not a designated origin cheese I wondered? Also the chutney was more currants than nectarine.

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Next the Irish seafood chowder with Fingal Ferguson’s chorizo and treacle bread. The bread is to die for I must find the recipe. The chowder I thought smelled too fishy and too heavy on potatoe at first but it was delicious, very filling though with the bread. The seafood was great, the chorizo is spectacular and well spiced, a great depth of flavor and welcome bite to the creamy soup. I don’t usually eat pork and I lived in Spain for 5 yrs so for me chorizo needs to be like this if you are going to eat it, otherwise don’t bother.

Next an Allento, Syrah tourgu merlot, alentejo Portugal and a  Char grilled 28 day dry-aged Irish Hereford beef rib eye steak with sticky onions, roasted garlic truffle butter and homemade chips. The onions were the star of this show, the red onions reduced in balsamic vinegar and a touch of brown sugar mean they are a sweet perfunctory side to balance the lovely garlicky meat and fantastic homemade chips. The presentation was nothing to speak of but that’s the point really, it doesn’t need it, the fufu plating has no place with simple, authentic, flavorful food.  Finally a smooth, rich chocolate pudding with (alleged) caramel cream and pistachio praline. When I die, please just bury me in that pudding.

winding stair 3

A member of Good Food Ireland The Winding Stair says on their website:

“The food is good, old-fashioned home cooking, with produce sourced from artisans within the island. The beer list focuses on local and international micro breweries with an emphasis on good, food-matched beers and ales. The wine list is extensive and also aims to showcase some of the new and emerging stellar boutique wine makers from the new and old worlds. We aim to be a restaurant devoid of bells and whistles, with food cooked by chefs devoid of ego and served by warm, friendly professionals with a passion for their business.”

You have succeeded in your aim in my opinion. This is not a restaurant critique because that might imply I am an expert and a sense of high brow judgement. It is not my place to judge, I simply wanted to document my dining experience so that ordinary folks can experience this authentic, purposeful, delicious tour of Ireland. I wish The Winding Stair a tasty, twisting, successful journey.

Whiskey and Food Matching

Posted by gen On December - 4 - 2012

Food and wine matching is a complex and highly subjective topic. It causes endless debate as to which wines should be matched with certain foods and whether there should there be any rules at all, or is it purely a matter of taste? So you can imagine the passions that are aroused, certainly among the traditionalists, when your waiter suggests a Single Malt with your cheese course, rather than an old bottle of left bank Bordeaux.

Indeed, the idea of pairing whiskey with food appalls some people, how can you possibly balance that much alcohol and intensity with food they cry? These fears are underpinned by a perception that only fine, red and white wines work with certain foods, cheese being a classic example and this is something we must accept as gastronomic law! In fact, the notion that cheese and red wine are a marriage in heaven is not born out by our experience – strong cheeses slaughter older red wines and only sweet or sharp white wines survive.

Another major obstacle to accepting whiskey as a viable match for some foods is tradition – Scotland, Ireland and the US as major whiskey producers have no established culture of drinking whiskey with a meal, or using whiskey in their signature dishes.

Yet, in recent years there have been commendable attempts to bring whiskey to the dining table, to the surprise of all involved whiskey can work wonderfully well with certain cheeses and other dishes. Grain can be a much better suitor to many foods than the grape, the fats in cheese react more comfortable with beer and whiskey, seafood is also a natural partner for peated whiskey.

The number of chefs, sommeliers and drinks enthusiasts starting to take whiskey seriously as a food pairing is heartening and we can expect great combinations to come. The key of course, like matching wine and food, is to carefully consider the ingredients and characteristics of the meal to choose an appropriate whiskey – desserts like Bread-and-butter pudding and cheesecake would be devastated by a strong, peaty whiskey such as Laphroaig.

The beauty of matching whiskey with food is that you have so many different flavors and styles to experiment with – Single Malts, blended whiskey and bourbon can offer vanilla, peat, tar, spice, leather, stewed fruit, honey, the list goes on.

So, when pairing whiskey with food, start with the principle that the body or strength of the whiskey shouldn’t over-power the strongest ingredient in the food.

You want balance between the competing flavors, i.e one doesn’t dominate and cancel out the other. Heavily spiced Indian food can therefore work beautifully with a sweet, intense Malt like Amrut. Japanese whiskey, which tend to be on the lighter side work with Sushi, try Yamazaki whiskey with Tuna.

Hard cheeses like Cheddar love a fruity, Speyside whiskey – try Glen Elgin for a real treat. Roquefort on the other hand seems to work well with peaty, powerful Single Malts like Lagavulin.

Seafood, especially oysters and smoked fish can also be matched quite comfortably with full-bodied, spicy whiskeys like a 12 year old Jameson reserve.

Some foods, however, work better with wine and delicate fish and meat dishes, or salads are best enjoyed unaccompanied by whiskey.

With these guidelines in mind, here are some tried and tested combinations sufficient to change anyone’s opinion. At the very least, in may broaden your mind!

Spicy, full-bodied whiskeyBowmore, Laphroaig, Lagavulin. Certainly types of seafood are a marriage made in heaven with peaty, weighty whiskeys. Prawns, muscles and oysters suit a peaty whiskey like Bowmore, the saltiness is the perfect foil for the seaside, salty notes in the whiskey. Smoked chicken, teriyaki salmon and blue cheese also cry out for a robust Malt like Talisker.

Rich, fruity, Highland whiskeyDalwhinnie, Glengoyne. These rich, intensely sweet whiskeys can taste like alcoholic bottled honey and they work extremely well with a range of desserts and sweets. Fruit cake in particular, cries out for a sweet, vanilla and honey Malt like Dalwhinnie. ginger biscuits, sticky toffee and bread and butter pudding also love a sweet Malt.

Light, aromatic, fruity whiskeys – Arran, Cragganmore, Jura, Glendiffich Fine, aromatic whiskeys like Aran and Glenfiddich can work surprisingly well with some Chinese or Japanese food, try pairing spring rolls, sushi or Peking duck with a fruity Speyside whiskey like Gragganmore. Softer cheeses also like lighter whiskies so experiment with goats cheese tart and cream cheese with an older Jura.

Our personal favorite combination is smoked salmon with Glenfiddich – stunning.

Interested in learning about Irish whiskey on a tasting tour? Check out our sample private whiskey tours program, with more whiskey experiences being added throughout the year, see here.  Sláinte!

Michelin Stars in Ireland- Fine Dining Experiences

Posted by gen On May - 5 - 2011

Michelin Starred Restaurants in Ireland

by Nancy O’Neill

The legendary Michelin guide for 2011 has been released with The Republic of Ireland retaining all of their stars and Northern Ireland losing their only one. Sadly, Michael Deane of Deane’s in Belfast lost his star, which he had originally received in 1997, due to an ill-timed burst water pipe and subsequent flooding of the restaurant last year.

Of the six fine dining establishments to be allocated the coveted stars in the Republic, only one, House at The Cliff House Hotel, is outside Dublin. For each of these talented chefs the emphasis across the board seems to be marrying the finest and freshest LOCAL ingredients with expert culinary skill to create utterly sublime dining experiences. Ireland may not be at the forefront of every foodie’s mind but it is certainly getting there.

L' EcrivainL’ ECRIVAIN

L’Ecrivain Restaurant, a hidden treasure located in a cute courtyard off Baggot Street in Dublin, is run and owned by accomplished chef Derry Clarke and his wife Sallyanne.  With one Michelin star and having won Best Restaurant Wine list, Best Sommelier and Georgina Campbell’s Restaurant of the year, its fan base seems to stretch far and wide. The restaurant has an established reputation for innovating old-fashioned classics and using top quality seasonal ingredients with a strong emphasis on the freshest, locally sourced seafood.

Michelin starred dining Ireland

Inside, the restaurant is small, intimate but in no way cramped with simple crisp white décor and luxuriously rustic wood and brick elements. Menus are refined and well thought through including succulent specialties such as Dublin Bay prawns, Pigeon breast, Organic Salmon or Wild Seabass with divine desserts to indulgently finish off a sublime eating extravaganza.

At L’Ecrivain there is a huge emphasis on hiring highly trained, experienced and unbelievably friendly staff (even by Irish standards!) to look after the diner’s every need; making any visit not only a tantalisingly tasty one but an extremely pleasant one too. Within that staff, award-winning sommelier Martina Delaney has compiled a delightful wine list combining classic favourites and exciting new finds. Highly recommended.

109A Lower Baggot Street, Dublin

GUILBAUD’S- Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud

French born proprietor Patrick Guilbaud, originally from Cognac, is the only person to currently hold two Michelin stars in Ireland. His restaurant is located in an 18th century Georgian townhouse (think colourful Dublin doors!) beside the beautiful five-star Merrion hotel over-looking the hotel’s delightful  16th century garden.

Michelin starred dining in Ireland

The food at this elegant establishment reflects the décor; modern French sophistication and Irish charm using the finest in-season local produce. Signature dishes on chef Guillaume Lebrun’s menu include the Clogher Head Lobster Ravioli and Roast Lacquered Challans Duck. Even the pea soup gets rave reviews!  The Testing Menu is also extremely popular allowing you to try Lebrun’s take on classic Irish dishes.

Equally impressive is the wine list which includes wines that Mr. Guilbaud has been collecting from all over the world since 1981. Finding the perfect wine to accompany your meal will not be difficult however the vast array could throw the more indecisive amongst you into a quandary. Fear not, highly accomplished sommeliers are on hand to take you through each offering in great detail. Why not combine a delicious dinner at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud with an overnight stay at luxurious Merrion Hotel. The perfect way to round off any trip to Dublin.

Merrion Hotel, Photo Cred Good Food Ireland

21 Upper Merrion Street-Dublin 2


Controversial, acclaimed chef Kevin Thornton won Chef of the Year in 2007 and has previously held two Michelin stars. He is renowned for speaking his mind (probably due to being one of nine children!) and never backs down in the face of adversity. Love him or hate him he is one of Ireland’s most famous and respected chefs. He has worked in the gardens of Cashel Palace hotel, on a farm, in a vineyard and an abattoir all helped to create a vast culinary knowledge base.

Specialities at the restaurant include Roast Suckling Pig with Poitin sauce or Lightly Smoked John Dory with Brunoise vegetables. Vegetarians are well catered for too. Exciting and delightful from the very first bite, the menu changes with the seasons and availability of produce.  Sommelier Paul Young will help you choose a wine to complement each dish from their interesting wine selection.

Michelin Ireland

The dining room, designed by New York architects, is light, airy and modern with crisp white linens, plush décor and large photos from Thornton’s book adorning the walls. There is also a canapé bar where you can enjoy a refreshing glass of wine, taste some exquisite nibbles and soak up the atmosphere without having to make a reservation. Perfect at the end of a long day of sight-seeing and/or shopping!

Thornton’s, 1 Portobello Road, Dublin 6


Award-winning Chapter One in Dublin city centre went through a vast renovation in 2009 to create a slick and exciting eatery with the main centre-piece being the culinary theatre that is The Chef’s Table. This snug little alcove with its shiny volcanic rock table offers diners the chance to interact with the professional kitchen while indulging in an intimate banquet of modern, robust dishes executed to the highest level using only the highest-quality local, seasonal produce. For a restaurant renovated at the back end of the Celtic Tiger there is none of the pretension one would expect from that era. Dishes are hearty, soulful and well-balanced with the elegance and sophistication one expects from a Michelin starred kitchen without the diner running the risk of leaving the restaurant feeling only half full. Specialities include wild halibut with a blanquette of cockles and mussels, or for the carnivores, loin of venison with blackberry and chocolate ravioli.

Michelin dining Ireland

As for the wine list, sommelier Ed Jolliffe has chosen a wonderful selection to suit all budgets, careful to compliment the menus without the wines taking centre stage.  And chef and co-owner Ross Lewis is one of Ireland´s most charismatic and innovative foodie personalities. For a divine and indulgent dining experience combining modern Irish cooking with old-fashioned grace and charm a visitor to Dublin cannot beat Chapter One.

18 – 19 Parnell Square, Dublin 1, Ireland. Check out our friends at Good Food Ireland’s wonderful profile on Chapter One here.


Bon Appetit overlooks the harbour in Malahide, a quaint and picturesque village north of Dublin City Centre famous for its stunning seascapes, relaxing coastal walks and, of course, Malahide Castle  and peaceful surrounding gardens. The Georgian building housing the Michelin starred restaurant also includes a chic brasserie, trendy cocktail bar and a glitzy wine bar called Le Bon Vin offering tantalising tapa style nibbles and extra special wine tastings.The Restaurant itself is the definition of stylish sophistication and elegance; neutral greys, mochas and creams set off by plush carpets and classy Victorian furniture.

Michelin starred dining Ireland

Executive chef at Restaurant Bon Appetit Oliver Dunne was awarded a Michelin Star in 2008. He began his career in Dublin and then worked in London under Gary Rhodes and Gordon Ramsey and was tipped as one of Ireland’s rising stars when he came back to Dublin in the early noughties. Again the seasonal menus focus on locally sourced produce beautifully executed in a contemporary Euro/French style. Signature dishes including Boudin of duck and foie gras with celeriac purée and fresh peas or Fillet of John Dory with new season asparagus, pine nuts and salted grapes are bound to leave even the most avid foodies satisfied. Jean Baptiste, the in-house sommelier, manages an interesting and extensive wine list to complement all the delectable goodies on offer.

Photo Cred Bon Appetit

No. 9 James Terrace, Malahide, Co. Dublin


House at The Cliff House Hotel, Co. Waterford is the most recent restaurant to receive a Michelin accolade and the only Michelin starred eatery based outside Dublin. Located in a beautiful cliff-side boutique hotel (which we have already featured on the Cellar Tours site), the restaurant offers a menu which is exciting, glamorous and slightly off-the-wall. Dutch head chef Martijn Kajuiter has worked under Marco Pierre White and Michel Roux and executes his dishes with passion and flair. He only uses produce sourced from within a forty kilometre radius of the hotel and has a nursery on site to ensure the freshest herbs and vegetables reach your plate. Dishes we recommend are Ardmore Bay Lobster with Broccoli juice and Black Angus Fillet steak with Murphy’s sauce.

Michelin starred dining Ireland

Sommelier Anke Hartmann has worked in many Michelin starred establishments over the years with the likes of Gerard Basset and takes her responsibility as sommelier at House very seriously. “I…use my knowledge and professionalism to open the horizon on a confusing wine world and hopefully an unforgettable experience to our guests. Food and wine belong together and add another dimension of pleasure when married to perfection”. Passion, professionalism and originality set off by a back-drop of stunning seascapes; enough said.

Middle Road- Ardmore, Co. Waterford

Why not visit these Michelin starred restaurants in Ireland on a private chauffeured gourmet tour?

Michelin starred dining Ireland

Memorable Dishes of 2010in France, Spain, Italy, and Ireland

It’s become an annual tradition: we look back at the last year and consider what the best meals of the year were.  Last year we focused on Italy, and this year we are doing it across the board.

As we travel throughout the five countries where we offer our gourmet tours (France, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and France) throughout the year, between the whole team we get to try literally hundreds of restaurants throughout the year. These range from hole- in- the wall – family restaurants to gastro pubs to Michelin starred high end eateries.

We have selected some of our favorite dishes (as you can see we tended to favor simple preparations and top quality ingredients over complicated dishes)  this past year with links to where we were lucky enough to taste them.

May 2011 be a terrific year for all our readers, may you eat and drink very well!

1. Seafood platter, with delicious lobster and oysters, at Aherne’s in Youghal – county Cork, Ireland

Memorable Dishes 2010

2. Frog legs at Maison Lameloise in Burgundy

Memorable Dishes 2010

3. Pizzoccheri at Locanda Altavilla in Valtellina

Memorable Dishes 2010

4. Amazing Irish breakfast with wild smoked salmon and carragheen pudding at The Mill in Dunfanaghy – county Donegal

Memorable Dishes

5. Scallops at Le Coquillage of Chateau Richeaux and informal tasting of oysters (creuses and plates) in Cancale

Memorable Eating 2010


6. Pan fried eel and salad with shallot vinaigrette at 2 Michelin starred restaurant at Domaine des Hauts de Loire in the Loire Valley

Memorable Dishes 2010

7. Spring specialty with wild asparagus at La Subida in Friuli

Memorable Dishes 2010

8. Strawberry millefeuille at Venissa (owned by top Prosecco producer Bisol) in Venice




9. Grilled Rodaballo (Turbot ) at Elkano in Getaria, Spanish Basque Country

Memorable Dishes 2010

10.  Sole with Fennel, Bergamot and Med Flavors at Celler de Can Roca in Catalunya, Spain

Memorable Dishes 2010

Kinsale, located in County Cork in the far south of Ireland, is without a doubt one of the most charming villages in the country. It´s got it all:  dramatic natural scenery, a thriving yacht scene, colorful cottages and art studios, a fascinating history complete with pirates and Spanish Armadas, terrific seafood restaurants and lively pubs.

Enjoy these photos of our favorite Irish hamlet:

Kinsale - Charming village in Ireland

Kinsale - Charming village in Ireland

Kinsale - Charming village in Ireland

Kinsale - Charming village in Ireland

Kinsale - Charming village in Ireland

Kinsale - Charming village in Ireland

Kinsale - Charming village in Ireland

Kinsale - Charming village in Ireland

Some highlights of Kinsale:

Fishy Fishy– unpretentious seafood restaurant with the freshest most delicious fish you can imagine. The owner chef is a real personality, and does TV shows in Kinsale on his program “Martin´s Mad about Fish”

Check out an episode here, featuring Kinsale.

Don Herlihy´s Historic Stroll of Kinsale- this local guide well versed in the history of Kinsale and Ireland, gives a passionate tour of the town. Terrific.

Sea Kayaking- up the road from Kinsale in Garretstown, H20 offer half day, full day and sunset kayak tours of the waterways around Kinsale.

Wine Museum– anyone with an interest in Ireland’s “Wine Geese” would enjoy a visit to the tiny wine museum, located in Desmond Castle. Provincial and small, yes,  but the history of the Irish emigres who set up wine businesses around the world is truly fascinating.

The Scilly Walk- pedestrianized path along the sea from the village of Kinsale to Summercove. From this beautiful walkway partially shaded in ferns, you have divine views over the bobbing boats and the harbor. When the walk finishes, carry on down the hill and stop in the Bulman pub for a drink and then continue on up the hill to the Charles Fort which offers the best panoramic view of Kinsale.

Classy St Patrick´s Day Dinner Party Ideas

St Patricks Day dinner party

If dying your hair green, wearing “kiss me, I´m Irish” stickers” and  knocking back whiskey shots in Irish pubs just does not appeal this Paddy´s Day, why not celebrate St Patrick´s day this year with a civilized dinner party with good friends and family?

Here is how we will spending St Patrick´s day (March 17) this year, and it won´t be bacon and cabbage (!):


Pre dinner cocktail- Irish Mist with ginger ale and lime

Appetizer (starter)– Mixed green salad with Gubbeen chorizo and St Tola´s Organic Goats Cheese.

Entree (Main Course)– Rabbit stew with cider, recipe in Clodagh McKenna´s wonderful Irish Farmer´s Market Cookbook

Side Dish-Irish champ with Clonakilty black pudding (from butcher Edward Twomey) and apple jelly, recipe here.

Dessert – Chocolate Guinness Brownies (Here is a recipe from Northern Irish chef Stephen Jeffers, also featured in this month’s Food and Wine magazine in Ireland)

St Patrick's Day menu

Wines– the Irish wine geese will be our inspiration and we´ll serve the excellent Concannon Merlot (Livermore Valley) and Reserve de Léoville Barton 2005 (Bordeaux). Sublime. More on Irish American wineries here.

Cheese- the cheese plate will all be delicious Irish farmhouse cheeses like Gubbeen, Durrus and Killeen.

Coffee– Irish Coffee with Jameson Irish whiskey, but of course.

St Patrick's Day Dinner Party

THE MUSIC– Some beautiful Irish music like Kila, Cork native Tim O’Mahony, Moving Hearts The Storm, Lúnasa Otherworld, Cathie Ryan, and Mary Black.

St Patrick's Day Dinner party

THE TABLE DECORATIONStephen Pearce Irish pottery (made in County Cork), Kinsale Crystal stemware,  Newbridge silverware (cutlery) and Avoca table linens.

St Patrick's Day Dinner party

HISTORY OF ST PATRICK’S DAY– Here is a little background on this Irish national holiday and on Saint Patrick himself.

St Patrick

And if you will be in Ireland on St Patrick´s day this year then here are a few wonderful suggestions:

* See Kila live in Dublin on Paddy’s day at the Olympia Theatre. Other Dublin events here.

* Enjoy live music and the festival in Cork city

* Traditional music and a seriously fun atmosphere in Doolin, County Clare

Ireland Gourmet Awards – Georgina Campbell 2010 Awards

Posted by gen On December - 29 - 2009

The annual Georgina Campbell Awards are here for 2010! Discover fabulous places to dine and stay in Ireland…

Awards Ireland

The 2010 Award Winners are:

Hotel of the Year – The BrookLodge & Wells Spa – Macreddin, Co Wicklow

Restaurant of the Year – Campagne – Kilkenny

Chef of the Year – Eamonn O’Reilly – One Pico, Dublin

Pub of the Year – The Ballymore Inn, Ballymore Eustace, Co Kildare

Just Ask Restaurant of the Year Award Sponsored by Bord BiaRathmullan House – Rathmullan County Donegal

Natural Food AwardGood Things Cafe – Durrus, County Cork

Casual Dining AwardThe Sheelin Tea Shop – Bellanaleck County Fermanagh

Taste of the Waterways Award 2010 Sponsored by Waterways Ireland
Cafe Merlot at Blakes of the Hollow – Enniskillen County Fermanagh

Host of the Year -Kay McEvilly – Cashel House Hotel – County Galway

Wine Award of the Year Ballymaloe House – County Cork

Atmospheric Restaurant of the YearSha Roe Bistro – County Carlow

Hideaway of the Year The Old Convent Gourmet Hideaway – County Tipperary

Country House of the Year Gregans Castle – County Clare

Newcomer of the YearAn Port Mor – Westport Co Mayo

Irish hospitality awards 2010

Seafood Festivals and Culinary Events in Ireland 2009-2010

Posted by gen On February - 1 - 2009

Ireland Seafood Festivals

Galway Oyster Festival, September 24-27, 2009– The mythical Galway Oyster Festival takes place on the west coast of Ireland in the atmospheric and “wild” region of Connemara. This festival has been taking place annually in Galway  for over 50 years and features plenty of oysters, Guinness (the classic pairing) and Irish “craic” (fun and warm spirit). The city comes alive with the influx of visitors (the event attracts over 10,000 local and international guests on average, who consume over 100, 000 oysters over the course of the festival!).  This festival also features jazz bands, gala dinners and champagne & oysters VIP events.


Where to stay: We love the G Hotel with its contemporary design and FABULOUS spa (a “must” on a grey day).

Where to eat: Oyster lovers head out of Galway to the quaint 300 year old Moran’s Oyster Cottage (which attracts locals and celebrities alike, from Woody Allen to Pierce Brosnan). In Galway itself, our top choice is Oscar´s.

VIP Touring: Cellar Tours offer gourmet private tours in Galway with private chauffeured Mercedes, visits to artisan smoke houses in Connemara, private cooking classes and unique luxurious experiences.

Ireland Seafood Festivals

Connemara Mussels Festival, May 1-4, 2009– also in Connemara, the Killary Mussels are celebrated in Letterfrack (County Galway), in this new seafood festival. This year´s activities include mussels cooking competitions, children´s treasure hunts, Irish music and of course plenty of great local stouts.


Baltimore Seafood Festival, May 22-24, 2009- This absolutely darling little coastal village in West Cork holds an annual seafood festival called “A taste of Baltimore”, in association with the Baltimore Wooden Boat festival (a vintage sailing fest). This year there will be dozens of local food artisans serving up stunningly fresh seafood from West Cork- crab, oysters, mussels, prawns and more; handmade local cheeses (West Cork is famous for its artisan cheese producers); and smoked salmon. There will be fun events to accompany the great food and live Irish music, like a harbor race, vintage regatta and kids crab fishing competition.


Where to stay: In West Cork, one of our favorite “hotels” is the elegant Bantry House in the lovely seaside village of Bantry (on extensive grounds with historic gardens and sea views).

Where to eat: The possibilities are endless in West Cork, but if pushed to make a few recommendations they would include: Good Things Cafe in Durrus, Island Cottage on the Heir Island, and  Casino House in Kilbrittain. For charming pub ambiance, don´t miss “The Algiers” in Baltimore itself.

VIP Touring: Cellar Tours offer spectacular gourmet private tours throughout Baltimore and West Cork.

Baltimore, West Cork

Taste of Dublin, June 11-14, 2009– The “Taste” festivals are relatively new and have been a roaring success. The Taste of Dublin festival is set in the romantic Iveagh gardens, with four days of cooking demos (by Michelin starred chefs, tv chefs and emerging culinary stars) and various seafood tasting opportunities.

Taste of Dublin

Taste of Dublin Taste of Dublin

Where to stay: Our top choices are the Dylan for design and style and the Merrion for old world charm.

Where to eat: Don´t miss Chapter One and L´Ecrivain!!

Taste of Ireland

Taste of Cork, June 25-27, 2010- the Cork version of this fabulous food festival, Taste of Cork, will be held next year. This is the gourmet epicenter of Ireland and you can expect fresh seafood, artisan cheeses and tantalizing smoked and cured meats and fish. Check out a video from last year´s Taste of Cork:

Where to stay: Hayfield Manor is a relaxing and elegant place to stay in Cork city, our preferred choice when you want to be near the center of Cork.

Where to eat: “Must do” restaurants include the mythical Cafe Paradiso, the much loved “Les Gourmandises” and of course in nearby Kinsale, the Fishy Fishy cafe.

Taste of Cork

A Taste of West Cork, Skibbereen, September 16-21– the 2009 calendar is not live yet, so keep your eyes peeled on their web. This festival is a must for local foodies and features the creme de la creme of Irish culinary personalities, emerging chefs and boutique producers. Skibbereen is located in West Cork, see travel tips above under the Baltimore Seafood festival.


Hillsborough International Oyster Festival, September 4-6– Northern Ireland is embracing “foodie-ism”, with a culinary renaissance taking place. The north is home to many food festivals including the Hillsborough International Oyster Festival (founded 15 years ago). The nice thing about this event is apart from all of the entertainment (from gala balls, Canadian boat racing, and oyster eating competitions), the purpose is for charity (last year´s proceeds went to Action Cancer). The historic town where this festival takes place is located in County Down, travel info here.

Hillsborough International Oyster Festival

Artisan Food Producers in Ireland & Gourmet Foodie Trends

Posted by gen On September - 21 - 2008

Gourmet Tours Ireland Gourmet Tours Ireland

We had high expectations for the Irish artisan suppliers we had researched for our new tours, based on what we have been hearing over the last year in the gastro press and word of mouth and after the inspection visits we are delighted to say this summer has been a roaring success in terms of finding enthusiastic suppliers and entrepreneurial food producers. Our new tours will be online as soon as we create the new itineraries with our new cheese producers, chefs, smokehouses, luxury hotels, limo drivers and entertaining guides! Why are we so excited? Some info on what’s happening in the foodie scene in Ireland:

Map Ireland


We were put in touch with this fantastic non profit organization, Good Food Ireland, through the managing director of the superb Merrion Hotel in Dublin (also included in our new tours) and met the director Margaret Jeffares in her beautiful home near Wexford to talk about the association. Over fresh scones and coffee Margaret passionately told us talked about some of the producers in her association and their dedication to preserve and promote Irish small scale and high quality food production.  GFI says ” The Good Food Ireland ethos is to prioritize the core indigenous ingredients of Irish cuisine and promote local and artisan food producers. ” Members include famous Michelin starred chefs like Derry Clarke (L’ Ecrivain, Dublin); the organic Apple Farm in Cahir; superb Irish farmhouse cheese producers like GubbeenKnockanore and Ardrahan; Smokehouses like the Burren Smokehouse in a gorgeous part of County Clare and the Connemara Smokehouse in the wild west; artisan butchers like McGeough´s in pretty Oughterard and Jack McCarthy in Kanturk (Cork).

We visited one of GFI´s most dedicated members, the Arlington Lodge, run by the very charming owner Maurice Keller and had our first fantastic lunch of the gourmet inspection- homemade game paté, St Tola Goat’s Cheese Bruschetta with red onion marmalade, local Atlantic crab claws (in photo above), corn fed Irish chicken…. delicious. Maurice passionately explained his belief about about using all local ultra high quality produce to try and fight the wave of cheap food imports to Ireland (tough and inferior chicken and tasteless frozen fish- mainly from around Asia). The Arlington is a pretty little historic Georgian house with period style furniture, and fabulous food indeed, highly recommended. We are putting together a ten day gourmet itinerary in Ireland for our foodie clients featuring Good Food Ireland members (many luxury hotels, high end restaurants and charming Irish country hotels are also members!), so keep an eye out on our website for this.



You might be surprised to discover that Ireland has one of the most active and exciting Slow Food chapters in Europe, much more so even than France or Spain. Celebrity foodie Clodagh McKenna (whose Irish Farmers Market Cook Book is highly recommended!) writes this in the Slow Food Ireland guide´s foreword, “For anyone with even a passing interest in food, Ireland has become an extremely interesting place to live or visit. Of all the many developments, two are particularly thrilling. The first is the emergence of the producer as hero. Suddenly farmers, fisherman, growers and artisans are being recognized and rewarded for the skill and care they devote to their chosen work. The second is the rapid expansion of farmer´s markets and specialist food shops. Crucially, the sense of connection between producer and consumer, which was under threat, is growing stronger”.

Slow Food Ireland

Slow Food Ireland´s members include many small producers like the Biddy Early Brewery (Ireland´s first microbrewery), excellent bakers like Arbutus Bread, air dried hams such as Krawczyk´s West Cork Salamis (West Cork, by the way is gourmet paradise with the highest concentration of gourmet producers, also stunning scenery) and then of course the gourmet goddesses Giana Ferguson of Gubbeen and Darina Allen of Ballymaloe (who head the local Slow Food chapters of West Cork and East Cork respectively).  This month, Slow Food organized the first Terra Madre gourmet extravaganza event in Ireland, in the Norman town of Waterford. It brought together foodies, journalists, consumers, and showcased the creme de la creme of Irish food producers. Various conferences were held on sustainability of food production, ethics questions, genetic modification, etc. From all accounts, the event was a roaring success and definitely was a chance to discuss the trends, controversies and predictions for the future of Ireland´s food scene.


We visited some fantastic dedicated cheese producers, hardworking and exceptionally charming people who are very open to the idea of gourmet tourism. Highlights included Gubbeen and Durrus and there are still many, many more producers to visit!

Gubbeen– The Ferguson family are culinary pioneers in Ireland and over the last decade have gained international fame for their cheeses and more recently for their smokehouse products, but the history of the farm goes back much longer, for five generations! Husband Tom is proud of of their “cheesemaker´s herd” of British Friesan, Simmenthal, Jersey and Shorthorn, as well as the indigenous Kerry Cow.  Wife Giana began making cheese at this gorgeous West Cork farm back in the late ´70´s, and has cultivated the Gubbeen brand over the decades. The estate makes the flagship Gubbeen cheese (semi soft with creamy and nutty flavors), and a smoked Gubbeen which son Fingal smokes in the onsite smokehouse. Fingal also makes a range of exquisite smoked salamis, hams, bacon and sausages (no ordinary sausages!), many flavored with herbs that daughter Clovisse grows in her onsite herb garden(photo below). A large portion of the Gubbeen products are sold at local farmers markets around West Cork and Cork city, such as the fantastic market in their own village of Schull (a pretty fishing hamlet on the coast).

Gubbeen Gourmet Cheese Tours in Ireland Gubbeen Gourmet Cheese Tours in Ireland

Durrus– Located in the same-named pretty hamlet in a breathtakingly beautiful corner of West Cork, we visited Jeffa Gill´s small, pretty estate. This award winning cheese (now sold at the famed Murrays Cheese Shop in New York) is made from a local herd which grazes on the Sheep´s Head Peninsula, and is made using all traditional methods.  Durrus is so famous on the international foodie scene that they have had French students come to doing a “stage”  and annually host a group from Slow Food in Italy who come to picnic in their peaceful garden (in photo below) on their delicious cheese. Jeffa, along with Giana of Gubbeen, is keenly involved with Slow Food activities and is a member of the Irish Farmhouse Cheese Association. Just a few minutes down the road is the fabulous Good Things Cafe, one of this areas gastro gems. The drive here from Gubbeen (in Schull) has to be one of the loveliest drives in Ireland!

Durrus Gourmet Cheese Tours in Ireland Durrus Gourmet Cheese Tours in Ireland


Ireland is home to a small select group of master smokers and it seems that the gourmet press is catching on fast.  Smoked Salmon has long been a prized commodity in Ireland and these days, top producers are branching out into smoked cheese, smoked chicken, even smoked eels!  We had the pleasure to visit some of the best Irish smokehouses and some top picks in county Cork include:

Frank Hederman Smokehouse Cork Ireland

Belvelly – Located near Cobh (the Titanic’s last stop), this tiny smokehouse is run by the effervescent Frank Hederman and his lovely wife Caroline (who co-wrote the “Good Food in Cork” guide along with Ireland´s cherished culinary granny Myrtle Allen. We visited on a gusty morning right before the salmon had been delivered and saw the cheeses being smoked. Frank is a real character, well known in all the local markets and the Irish and British gourmet press. He told us all about the history of the business and showed us around.  Belvelly is Ireland´s oldest traditional smokehouse and the salmon, mackerel, and (mythical) mussels that he smokes are cured with organic English salt and hang-smoked using beech wood. Caroline is starting up a gourmet shop on their property to showcase their own products, naturally, but also ancillary products like home smokers, sea salt, and gourmet goods from Ireland. We had some great ideas with Caroline for our tours, keep your eyes peeled.

Ummera– Owned and run by the softspoken and very charming Anthony Creswell, Ummera makes one of the most tantalizing delicacies I have ever tasted- smoked chicken. Sounds simple, right? You could almost mistake it for “roast chicken”, but no- smoked chicken is out of this world. Words cannot describe the chicken bliss….. Luckily Anthony sells and ships abroad, so try it for yourself! Not many smokers are actually licensed for both meat and fish, and as Ireland is ultra (some say even overly) cautious about food hygiene, Anthony had a tough time getting all the papers in order to be able to smoke his famous chickens on this beautiful estate in Timoleague (known for its dramatic 13th century Abbey in the photo below, and for another local foodie producer, “Mella´s Fudge”). The smokehouse is tiny, as they all are, and after a short tour of the production facility we went for a walk (me in high heels!) along the river on his sprawling estate. Anthony worked in the wine business for years, and only in his later life decided to go into his father´s line of work- master smoker. The quality of their products is top class. The dry cured bacon, organic farmed salmon from county Clare and of course that smoked crown of chicken- simple and mouth watering! Ummera also looks after a very interesting blog with plenty of news on their own business as well as other foodie news in Ireland.

Ummera Smokehouse Gourmet IrelandTimoleague near Ummera Smokehouse Anthony Creswell owner of Ummera Smokehouse Ireland

Irish Boutique Design Hotels

Posted by gen On August - 19 - 2008

G Hotel Galway Design Hotel Dylan Hotel Dublin Design Hotel Dylan Hotel Dublin Design Hotel

When you think of Ireland you think of castles, stately manor homes, cozy Irish hotels with masculine hunting decor and a roaring fire…. you don’t normally think of crazy Alice in Wonderland decor or lamps shaped like designer hats! Well, this summer’s research trips here in Ireland have blown away some of the stereotypes we had about luxury hotels in Ireland. And we are excited to include these two new hotels located on opposite sides of the country:

G Hotel, Galway

Located just outside the city center of this midsize Irish city known for its arts festival, the fairly generic and bland glass facade (the outside kind of looks like a car dealership!), disguises the truly FABULOUS interior of the G. This hotel is very special and you won’t want to leave. Once you enter you could spend the whole day inside, just in their award winning spa (a must if its a drab, gray day). The hotel was designed by famed couture hat designer Philip Treacy (based in London but originally from Galway) and is a treat on the eye. There are various salons and color schemes, a restaurant with a Michelin starred consulting chef Stefan Matz (who also looks after stunning sister hotel the beautiful Ashford Castle in Mayo county further north), a sumptuous Spa (products are Espa and all spa staff train in London at headquarters for Espa). Our favorite room at The G is without a doubt their outrageous Linda Evangelista Suite (Philip Treacy has dedicated this room to his top model friend), over 1500 square feet with a roofed in terrace overlooking the lough. A faux zebra trophy looks onto a sumptuously designed room, and the bathtub is a specimen of design in itself. G Hotel web

G Hotel Galway Design Hotel PHoto Businessweek

Dylan Hotel, Dublin

Located just over the Baggot street bridge, and steps from one of our favorite restaurants in Ireland, Michelin starred L’ Ecrivain, the beautiful Dylan hotel boats both a stunning interior (completely modern and designer) and a wonderful historic facade (it’s located in the converted royal hospital’s nurse’s home) . While many design hotels are minimalist and can be quite cold, the Dylan is full of luscious rich colors (eggplant, burgundy, silver and gold, etc) and textures (crushed velvet, silk, etc). Rooms are just wonderful with supremely comfortable beds, a range of high end bath products in the bathroom, lots of small touches like lighting around the bed so you don’t trip on the way to the bathroom at night, fresh flowers, CDs in the room, etc. The staff are top class and the candlelit terrace bar and indoor cocktail bar are simply THE place to meet in Dublin. Definitely one of the best hotels we have found lately and can’t wait to send you here! Dylan Hotel web

Dylan Hotel Dublin Designer Trend setting hotel Dylan Hotel Dublin Designer Trend setting hotel