Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

[Review] New Season Menus at Brioche Ranelagh

I've been a fan of Gavin McDonagh and his restaurant, Brioche, for quite a while now. It all started several years back with an evening time pop-up style restaurant called Brioche Ce Soir on Aungier Street where McDonagh produced very tasty small plates in the smallest of kitchens. In 2014, I visited Brioche in its stylish new home just off the main Ranelagh strip, where it was quickly clear that McDonagh had moved up a gear. I've visited several times since, each of which has reinforced that original impression of constant improvement and refinement. 

At the end of August, we visited for Saturday Lughnasa lunch. With autumn and winter looming around the corner, new season menus are coming at Brioche and we got to sample a few of the new dishes throughout our lunch. Presentation is one of McDonagh's key strengths, as well as his ability to infuse intense flavours throughout his dishes, and the bright afternoon sunshine really allowed the vibrant dishes to shine.

Because I've eaten at Brioche several times, and have already written reviews, I am not going to go into detail here. Instead, I'll let my photos do the talking. 
Smoked cured mackerel with tomato salsa and lightly fried onion rings


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

[Wine] Wines of Chile Event

I recently attended the Wines of Chile tasting, held in the beautiful settings of the Royal Hibernian Gallery. (By th e way, if you're looking for a hidden lunchtime spot in Dublin 2, I can definitely recommend Coppa Cafe at the RHA). Apparently Chilean wines account for 20% of sales in Ireland, but I think it's safe to say that a lot of that is in the bulk retail and bar trade. It's a country with incredible  geographic diversity, bounded on one side by the Pacific Ocean and Coastal Mountains and by the bulk of the Andes on the other side, with the Central Valley running in between. 

However, winemakers from Chile are seeking to change consumers' attitudes, and are bringing the latest technological improvements and processes to bear on their winemaking. In a country with such a dry climate, many winemakers are seeking organic certification. In addition, a wine range of grape varieties are grown in Chile, which when combined with the range of climates, leads to some very interesting and exciting wines.

The wines listed below are some of my personal favourites from the tasting. Everyone's tastebuds are different though, so feel free to venture away from Central Valley and try out some wines from different regions.

Montes Outer Limits Sauvignon Blanc 2014, Zapallar Valley, RRP €29.99
Distributed by Liberty Wines (Ireland)

Grown on very old vines, this wine has an intense nose with citrus, lime and green vegetables. Good acidity, balanced with minerality. Good length. 

Valdivieso Singe Vineyard Wild Fermented Chardonnay 2005, Leyda Valley, RRP €20.99
Distributed by J&C Kenny

Barrel fermented on the lees in a mixture of new and old oak leads to a deep golden colour with aromas of butterscotch. Approximately 10 years has left this wine  with great length, finishing with nutty, bread notes. Interestingly, this winemaker has an extensive range of wild fermented wines, which surely bears further investigation.

Vina Morande Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2014, Casablanca Valley, RRP €18.99
Distributed by Cassidy Wines

A very decently made wine in the style of classic Burgundy chardonnays. Fermented in French oak, with aromas of cedar. Peach, citrus and crisp apple initially, leading to the classic buttery hazelnut-tiness you'd expect from this style. 

Bouchon Canto Sur 2014, Maule Valley, RRP €15.00
Seeking representation

A blend of 70% Carmenere, tempered with 15% Pais and 15% Carignan. An interesting wine which made me think of my mother's crab apple jelly on the nose. Medium tannins, slight spiciness with notes of licorice and soy sauce. If this winemaker secures distribution in Ireland, make sure to try it. 

Vina Carmen Carmenère 2008, Colchuaga Valley, RRP €30.00
Distributed by C&C Gleeson

From the first look and sniff of the glass, I knew this would be special. Carmenère is the classic Chilean grape. Darkly rich, with complexity aromas of cedar and leather on the nose. Grippy tannins (my lips were literally stuck to my teeth). A perfect wine for some very decent red meat. 

Vina Carmen Carignan 2014, Maule Valley, RRP €30.00
Distributed by C&C Gleeson

From the same winemakers as the meaty Carmenere above, but a completely different affair. Lots of strawberries, loganberries and other soft red fruit on the nose. The red fruit continues through to the palate with lots of juiciness, good intensity and length. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

[Event] Judging the Pitmaster Competition at the Big Grill

Remember when you were a child and you wished so hard to become a sweet taster in a sweet factory, or else perhaps to be one of the toy testers on the annual Late Late Christmas Toy Show. The chances of these childhood dreams becoming reality were pretty slim, but that didn't stop you from dreaming. Fast forward thirty years and I bet you that we all still have some childlike dreams. Our wishes might have matured somewhat, like becoming the chief shoe buyer for Brown Thomas or working in quality control for a grand Champagne house, but I bet you those dreams still exist.

When I recently saw that the Big Grill Festival was looking for BBQ judges, I knew with every bone and tremor of destiny in my body that my time had come. This was going to be MY moment. I submitted the application form and waited. And waited some more. And then the magnificent moment arrived when I was confirmed as a judge for the inaugural Pitmaster competition with US-style low and slow BBQ.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

[Review] Klaw, Temple Bar, Dublin 2

Temple Bar isn't exactly the location that immediately springs to mind for Dublin's latest fish shack restaurant. Rather than being perched moodily overlooking the sea, Klaw is neatly tucked into a narrow space on the cobblestoned Crown Alley. Owner Niall Sabongi is on a mission to make diners fall in love with fun and casual seafood, and after all, Temple Bar is the party central of Dublin.

Once you pass through the open doors, Klaw is small and narrow, with customer seating to the front, and the wide-open kitchen at the rear. (In fact, to get to the toilet, you have to walk through the kitchen). The space may be tight, but if you're lucky enough to grab one of the three small tables, you can settle in nicely.
Interior at Klaw

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