There’s more to Ireland then Guinness & potatoes – food & wine matching

Ireland has been in the news a lot lately and sadly it´s not for it´s gastronomic delights.  This past October, I visited the Emerald Isle and I can attest to the high quality and just plain deliciousness of their cuisine. The old stereotype might be of potatoes, potatoes and more potatoes but Ireland has experienced a culinary boom in the past few years and  I was invited along with 4 food bloggers, Eat like a Girl, Scandilicious, Gastronomy Domaine and  Simply Splendiferous to see what´s going on.

looking out of Cliff House Hotel to the bay

Although food is not my main thing, I do think that food and wine should go together so I was very curious to see what an Irish wine list would look like. I was not disappointed at the Cliff House Hotel. Situated on a cliff overlooking the sea, the Cliff House is a beautiful 5 star hotel in West Waterford and boasts one of the few Michelin starred restaurants in Ireland, the one star, House Restaurant. We had the tasting menu which was matched by their female German sommelier Anke Hartmann. Although Anke was not there that evening, the assistant sommelier, Hungarian Niki Fajd, was on hand to answer my questions.

Asst Sommelier, Niki Fajd

Each course was paired with a wine and was all Irish, from the salmon to the venison. The wines were all European, heavy on the Italian side but a German riesling was matched with a course as well as a Jurancon. The list was well rounded, not too big or small. The hotel had chosen wines mainly from Italy to pair with our tasting menu. I’m not very familiar with Italian wines, sadly, but the ones that Anke picked were spot on. From Sicily, a white blend from Donnafugata, a Veronese red, and a Sardinian red to go along with the German riesling and French Jurancon.

The next night we stayed and dined at the Castlemartyr Resort and golf course!!  Castlemartyr is an 18th century mansion which has been renovated into a luxurious spar and resort. It sits next to the ruins of an 800 year old castle that is said to have been built by Strongbow himself, Richard Earl de Clare. A beautiful setting, the castle ruins providing lovely views from the pool house. Sadly, I didn’t have time to play golf. It was a choice between early morning swim and jacuzzi or a rushed game of golf as we had to be on the bus by 10am. I chose the pool. I needed to work off the previous nights meal anyway.

Castlemartyr pool

 

A big plus for me on this trip was that since I was with a group of food bloggers, they let me choose all the wines when possible – FUN!  We had a 5 course gourmet meal  at Castlemartyr and it was bit tricky to match everything but I was assisted by their very friendly sommelier, Sandra Biret, who advised me on the wines.  My choices ranged from 2007 Dom. Schlumberger pinot blanc, a 2005 Cote de Nuits Village, a Spanish Albarino, Luis Pato’s 2005 Portuguese vino tinto, and finishing off with a 200o Hungarian 5 puttonyons tokaji aszu.

The discerning wine lover doesn’t have to worry about getting a good wine (or good food for that matter) in Ireland. These were only the first two places we visited. We also visited the English Market in Cork, Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe, Paul Flynn’s cooking school in Dungarven, an abbattoir that’s been in operation for 10 generations and a few other choice restaurants around Cork, which I will be getting round to writing up soon.

the vanity in my room at Castlemartyr

well, we ARE in Ireland

interior, Castlemartyr

 

In the meantime, if you’re worried about finding more to drink in Ireland other then Guinness, put your fears to rest, there’s plenty of ace wines to match with your meal.

how we bloggers work off our meals, sitting in a jacuzzi at Cliff House

and bicycling round the grounds of Castlemartyr

 

12 Comments

  1. Wonderful showcase of what Ireland has to offer. Anyone visiting should of course try the usual things such as Guiness and potatoes. Thinking beyond this though is a great idea! Ireland has plenty more food and drink types to offer.

    • Hi Paul, yes, I was really surprised at everything that Ireland had to offer both culinary and beverage wise. A great trip! Would love to get over to Dublin now and see what’s on offer there! Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Lovely reminder of a great trip, Denise. And you did a mighty job keeping all of us ‘refreshed’ with some delicious choices. A pleasure to travel with our own sommelier! We definitely need another trip this year : )

    • It was my pleasure to be your personal sommelier, so many great wines to choose from! We should definitely see if we can arrange another trip like that!

  3. So glad you enjoyed! x

  4. Freaky prams notwithstanding – next time take me with you!

  5. Pram’s a bit freaky, no?

    • The freakiest thing was we saw them everywhere and they were all empty. Except for this one we saw at Ballymaloe, we all thought it was empty and then we heard a cry coming from it, so I guess they really do use them!

      • Didn’t one of us (I forget who) actually get as far as poking the baby to work out whether it was real? The prams were creeptacular, and weirdly ubiquitous. Food was fab, though!

        We *really* ought to do this again some time! Lovely post. You have reminded me that quite recently, I was in an environment warm enough that I didn’t have to wear a vest. Roll on spring.

        • I think we all crept up on it enmass to see if anything was in there and got a hell of a shock when we saw the baby! I think one of us wanted to take it for a joyride before we discovered there was a baby in there :D

          We should do something like that again. Where to next? ;)

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