Boredom, Success and Apple Pie á la Mode

Last year before the whole motherhood thing happened, I felt completely worn out with a low fever so I surmised I was battling something and rested. Two days spent cuddled up under a blanket in my PJs. I knew I was feeling better when I got frustrated and bored of it. I don’t get bored. To me, boredom is a choice. It arrives on the doorstep like a chaotic houseguest and it is up to me to help it settle in and feel at home with the many joys the house has to offer and then boredom ceases to exist and is merely known as peace. After all, don’t we all wish there were more hours in the day? Then, when we are left waiting or idle we complain of boredom when really we should cherish those nuggets of quiet and inactivity for what they are – mini vacations within our modern, hectic schedules. So, how do I battle boredom when I’ve had enough peace? Well, I cheat a little.

To wage a war against boredom and win, I merely succeed at doing something. Yep, that’s it. Big secret is out. If everyone knew this, boredom and general malaise of life may be eradicated! Now you may be wondering how to make sure you succeed. Easy, set your standards and expectations aside, take on a goal or task, and DO IT. My get well boredom remedy was baking an apple pie from scratch (including the crust). I was still worn out after I rested away whatever ailed me, but needed a win to not feel like such a blob. I was craving apple pie with vanilla ice cream all that week (one of my occasional American food cravings) and Margaret Smith, the mastermind behind UmNumNum in Cork, took me out for a day of food appreciation, which included three food stores and lunch! Now to go grocery shopping with a hungry person is one thing, but to go with a foodie like Margaret is in a class of itself. Just following her Tweets makes me hungry most days. So, I ended up with ingredients that fed me through my blob days, including fresh Bramley apples and bourbon-vanilla ice cream (Lidl brand).

Though baking a pie from scratch wasn’t easy and I felt like I was crumbling when the woven top crust kept disagreeing with my efforts, I stuck with it. Soon enough, the pie was made and it was delicious! I had a success and my fleeting boredom was long gone. Of course, I didn’t need to make an apple pie from scratch to have a success, I could have just put away my clean laundry, read a book, or emptied the SPAM folder of my email, but I wanted apple pie á la mode.

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Homemade Apple Pie

2 refrigerated pre-made pie crusts (in the biscuit or cookie dough section of your grocery market) or your preferred pie crust recipe

6 cups apple slices (peeled and cored before slicing thinly), I like Granny Smith or Bramley

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.

2. Let both the pie crust pastry circles warm to room temperature (do not heat rapidly to accomplish this), then place one in a 9-inch round glass or ceramic pie dish. Prepare the bottom crust according to the instructions on the package, which should require it to be baked for 10 minutes, the cooled for 10 minutes before adding the pie filling. While the crust is baking and cooling, prepare the filling.

3. Place the apple slices in a bowl and pour the lemon juice over them. Toss them together. The lemon juice will hinder the browning of the apples from being exposed to oxygen. In a separate mixing bowl, blend the brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. This can be done with a hand mixer for quicker results, or with a fork. Once the ingredients are well blended, add the mixture to the apple slices and toss them together, like you would a salad.

4. Spoon the apple filling into the slightly cooled pie crust. Dot the filling with butter then add the uncooked pie crust to the top so its edges meet up with the edges of the bottom crust. Pinch the edges against the dish or the bottom crust to seal the apples inside. This increases the heat to cook the filling more evenly and efficiently. Flute the rim however you prefer it to look.

5. Cut small slits in the top crust or even be creative and cut small teardrop or heart shapes from the top pastry. This allows some steam to escape and you can keep an eye on when the filling starts bubbling.

6. Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degree and bake the pie for another 45 minutes. Check often during the final 15 minutes of baking to make sure you remove the pie just when the top is starting to take on a pale brown shade and the crust edges are tan. Through the slits or openings, you should be able to see the apple filling bubbling.

7. Let the pie cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving with cinnamon ice cream. The pie is equally good after being refrigerated and reheated briefly in the microwave. Though it is likely the pie won’t last long, its lack of preservatives give it a shelf life of 3 to 4 days, if covered and refrigerated.

Learn about Pure Seeds for Home-growing from Madeline McKeever

On Thursday, 29th of March at 7:30 p.m. Cork Free Choice Consumer Group is hosting a lecture by botanist and cultivator of garden life Madeline McKeever at the Crawford Art Gallery Café on the topic of Saving Your Own Seeds. Ms. McKeever will be discussing the importance of and techniques for saving vegetable seeds from tomatoes, beans, lettuce, courgettes and more. She’ll explain how to produce pure seeds and prevent inbreeding. You’ll learn about basic genetics and pollination as well as proper storage tips. All this knowledge and earthy fun for €6 (includes tea/coffee).

Madeline McKeever’s name may ring a bell [pepper] (my pathetic garden humor there) because she is one of the Brown Envelope Seeds team and was featured (with an amazingly fun portrait) in an article in The Southern Star this past Christmas Eve. Since 2004, Brown Envelope Seeds has encouraged growing one’s own food, which as it happens is her philosophy: “To enable people to grow their own food.” And just to prove you can grow your own produce and still have a job, hobbies, and a social life, you can find Brown Envelope Seeds on Facebook, Twitter, and Blogspot (oh yes, Ms. McKeever blogs!). Oh and there’s a whole blog post just about beetroot, one of my favorites.

If you attended last month’s lecture by Susan Turner on cultivating and growing your own vegetables in your garden or allotment, this lecture will help you go one step further by emphasizing the importance of the seeds themselves. If you’re into gardening, allotments, or pure vegetables and fruit, this event is for you.

Crawford Art Gallery Café (map of location • info on city parking options)
Thursday 29th March at 7.30pm
Entrance €6 including Tea & Coffee

Green Beans not Greenbeans

Recipe for Inspiration: Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize & Awards Event

Ireland has a reputation the world over for its poetry, literature, music, and friendliness and now that passion for words and prose is given proper reverence with the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize.

Launched this past summer in Dublin, the competition invited poets to submit any original, previously unpublished work. Almost 1,000 entries from Ireland and around the world were received and three prizes will be awarded this Sunday, March 25th at The Grain Store at Ballymaloe in conjunction with Moth Magazine.

Speaking about the forthcoming event, Ballymaloe’s own Darina Allen remarked, “A little poetry enriches all of our daily lives so I am delighted to sponsor this prize. Due to the response to the competition, we are more encouraged than ever to celebrate the arts”. The prize giving event promises to play host to some of Ireland’s most captivating creative and literary figures. There will be readings by poet (and judge) Matthew Sweeney, whose most recent collection was shortlisted for The Irish Times/Poetry Now Award and the T. S. Eliot Prize, and the winning poets. The Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan is also expected to attend.

Of the poems in the competition, only three winning entries and five honorable mentions were selected by Matthew Sweeney. First prize is €2,000, second prize is €1,000, and third prize is €500. Well, Irish novelist Robert Graves was almost right when he said, ““There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either.” Definitely no poetry in money. The winners of the 2011 Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize are:

The first prize goes to Paul McMahon for his poem ‘Bourdon’. Originally from Belfast, Paul is a professional musician. His poems have been shortlisted for many prizes, including the Bridport Prize in 2011, but this is his first major win.

Sarah Clancy receives second prize for her poem ‘I Crept Out’. Sarah is from Galway and was the Cuirt International Festival of Literature Grand Slam Champion in 2011. Her second collection of poetry, Thanks for Nothing, Hippies, will be launched at the Cuirt Festival in April this year.

The third prize goes to ‘The Fisherman’ by Lydia Macpherson, who grew up in the Yorkshire Pennines and now lives near Cambridge. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway University of London and her poems are widely published in magazines and anthologies.

Matthew Sweeney also commented on these poems, which will also be read at the prize giving ceremony on Sunday:

‘Winter Solstice Poem’ by Josephine Dickinson
‘Friendly Fire’ by Padraic Harvey
‘Soldier and Piano’ by Kona Macphee
‘Vico: On the State’ by Laurence O’Dwyer
‘Girl with a Bag in Barcelona’ by Adam Wyeth

If you’d like to read these poems (or if you love poetry and can’t believe you don’t already have a subscription), you may purchase the Spring 2012 issue of or a year’s subscription to Moth Magazine here.

If you wish to attend the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize giving event at The Grain Store this Sunday, March 25th from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m., email editor@themothmagazine.com to reserve your place. This event is free and a perfect evening for poetry lovers or just those who may be interested in hearing poetry be read and appreciated.

Darina Allen to celebrate the arts as the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize proves to be a recipe for inspiration.

Darina Allen to celebrate the arts as the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize proves to be a recipe for inspiration.

Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize Giving Ceremony Invitation
Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize Giving Ceremony Invitation

Celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day in Ireland and Myths Debunked

There is a tingle of something in the air. It makes your toes feel like wiggling and the corners of your mouth turn up involuntarily. It’s Saint Patrick’s Day in Ireland. As you can imagine, March 17th is an exciting time to be in Ireland. The shops are carrying fun and crazy supplies for Saint Patrick’s Day festivities. Here, it is celebrated like July 4th is in the States, a family holiday. Sure, some people drink or go to bars, but the big focus in Cork City is the parade! The streets are lined with people, cheering and eating food. It is a holiday with an amazing atmosphere. The day warrants a complete shut-down. Banks are dark, smaller shops close their doors, and schools shut their books for the occasion.

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Our first year here we were warned it wouldn’t be much of anything because our Irish friends had seen television coverage of the festivities in New York City and Chicago. But they were forgetting that this was Ireland, just being here made it special. That first March 17th that we were living in Cork and those we’ve enjoyed since tend to follow the same pattern. We sleep late and eat breakfast then go out to explore the festival and scout out a vantage point along the parade route which happens to within a half-block of where we live. We have yet to find a place to see the parade because the sidewalks get crowded early.

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Each year, the parade is filled with the best musicians, dancers, local celebrities and athletes. Military or police pipers often being the biggest draw along with Cork’s hurling or Gaelic football team. It is a family affair from start to finish.

St. Patrick's Day Parade in Cork City, Ireland - South Mall. 1539

There is a food fair and other fun delights along The Grand Parade. Again, fun for the whole family. This isn’t the excessive drinking that you may see in NYC. This is definitely like Fourth of July for me but with different colors and music.

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Don’t miss out on Man of Aran’s Bannoffe Fudge. I’m serious.

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We learned that just walking one block off the parade route meant not battling crowds (like go up a lane or Washington Street to South Main Street or Paul Street or Oliver Plunkett) for a calmer stroll.

Bottleneck

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The parade’s path includes Saint Patrick’s Street, or Pana as locals call it. Pana has been a hub of commerce and culture since the late 1700s. At that time, it was a channel of the Lee River that was filled in to create a street and corresponding bridge to connect the city centre island to the north side of the city. Much like the Foggy Bottom neighborhood of Washington, D.C., Cork City expanded as it took over river-side marshland. Pana is lined with shops and known to be the second most expensive piece of real estate in Ireland.

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Without a place to watch the parade, we’ve started our own tradition to find a local pub or restaurant near the route and enjoy a good meal and a bit of craic (the Irish term for fun). Inevitably, we run into friends because though Cork is the second-largest city in the Republic, it is really just a small town with big buildings and a population to match. One year, we ended up in a place that had Irish dancing on the actual bar!

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Though the pints are flowing on March 17th, food and entertainment rival drinking for popularity. There is a mini festival for the weekend of the holiday with food, live music (not just traditional Irish stuff either), dancing, storytellers, and street vendors. Barry’s Tea, a local company with an international following, has a cute caravan from which they serve free hot cups of tea.

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The important thing, no matter where we end up on St. Patrick’s Day, is to enjoy the lively atmosphere. It is one of the few times of the year that no matter the weather almost everyone is in good spirits and all the tourists blend with locals to celebrate the life and work of the man who brought Christianity to Ireland.

Le Château

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And if you’re not much for crowds or parades, just find a nice little spot to have a drink or a bite to eat. This worked well for my Mom and I two years ago because she has mobility issues and couldn’t manage the sidewalk crowds so we just ducked into Cornstore for a bite. She still remembers teaching the bartender how to make American iced tea. After her Bulmer’s, of course.

The Calm Before The Parade Ends at Cornstore

Untrue myths about St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland:

1. Everyone drinks and gets blind drunk.
People who like to drink will always look for an excuse to celebrate with a few pints.

2. You get pinched if you’re not wearing green. 
No one notices if you’re not wearing green. Kids usually wear something fun or green. Tourists always do. It’s really a personal choice. TODAY, however, more people will wear green because we play England in Six Nations Rugby so must support the lads by wearing Ireland jerseys.

3. Pubs are packed. 
Not exactly. The pubs are fairly quiet until the parade ends then families, friends, and just about anyone who isn’t ready to leave town trickles into the pubs and cafes for a drink (not necessarily beer or whiskey) or a bite to eat. It can be tough to get a table after the parade for this reason. But the pub itself is not a destination for St. Patrick’s Day in larger cities and towns that host parades or festivals. Later on, especially during the match today, the pubs will be crowded.

Luck of the Irish or Counting My Blessings?

Until last month, I had never purchased a lottery ticket, played a slot machine, or placed a bet outside a race course. Then I felt lucky.

Horseshoe Patina

It all started with my winning a giveaway from Irish Food Bloggers Association. I won a hardcover copy of SABA: The Cookbook and a voucher for a Thai cooking day in Dublin. Then I won a trivia contest on Twitter from the American Embassy in Dublin which resulted a care package of books including: The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama, a double-flag Ireland-U.S. lapel pin, a copy of the U.S. Constitution with explanation notes, a paperback of full and partial speeches by President Barack Obama, and a mini biography of our 44th president. Within a week of that win, I won four tickets to the Cork screening of The Muppets film from Innocent Ireland. In the midst of all this winning, I began to think I may be on a lucky streak so why not buy a lottery ticket. Sure, why not?! So I bought one ticket twice a week for two weeks. I won €4. In spite of the fizzle of success with the lottery, the lucky streak continued in my everyday life. I got a double egg yolk in my salad at Fresco Bistro, won a blog giveaway on Modern Farmette of a Slugs & Snails prize, and even won a Valentine’s Tulip bouquet (shown below) from Unforgettable Flowers while at a Cork Women in Business event. Seriously, it was getting ridiculous [and quite nice since as a new mother I certainly could do with a bit of pampering].

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It was about then that I realized that maybe the universe wasn’t trying to tell me I would win big if I played the lottery, I think it was trying to communicate that life is full of luck and happy surprises if you put yourself out there. Because, if you think about it, all the things I won are because I participate in life. Then I realized that maybe all this winning and nice things coming my way wasn’t telling me to look for MORE luck but to feel fortunate for what I have.

Whether you believe in luck or not, most people think the Irish have a special and personal connection with luck so here’s my family’s scone recipe. Best served with Irish butter, delicious jam, and maybe some unsweetened whipped cream (the real stuff)…and a cup of tea!

Sullivan Farm Scones

4 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or favorite dried fruit (if a large fruit, chop into bits)
2 eggs
2 cups milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Sift dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, sugar) together. Add dried cranberries and 1 cup milk. Mix together.

3. In a small bowl, pour the remaining 1 cup of milk and add both eggs. Beat together then pour into larger bowl to blend with dry ingredients.

4. Transfer the scone dough into a 10” cast iron skillet or cut into triangles and place on a baking sheet. Brush the top with milk and bake in the oven for 30 minutes to 1 hour (depending on whether you put in individual scones or one big one).

5. Slice and serve with a selection of jams, honey, and butter. Best enjoyed alongside a cup of tea.

Sullivan Family Scone Recipe

Sarah Riordan’s night as Fenns Quay Chef du Jour

Last week, I enjoyed a delectable meal which was designed by amateur chef Sarah Riordan of Athy. She submitted a menu to Kate Lawlor of Fenns Quay and was chosen to be part of the second round of competitions as part of the restaurant’s Chef du Jour challenge. To refresh your memory, the first round included the culinary imagination of Paul Callaghan (I’m still raving about his cheesecake) and Tramore’s Jeni Pim (who won that round). Sarah Riordan was in the second round of the challenge against Paul Axford (his amuse bouche was something I could have eaten for a month without getting bored of it). This post is about Sarah’s menu.

Sarah’s amuse bouche was a kale and creamy soup in a shot glass alongside pork belly. I am allergic to pork so mine was served with tasty and addictive crispy parsnip ribbons. Here are photos of the intended amuse bouche and my own plate.

Amuse bouche by Sarah Riordan is Chef du Jour at Fenns Quay

Amuse bouche by Sarah Riordan is Chef du Jour at Fenns Quay

Amuse bouche by Sarah Riordan is Chef du Jour at Fenns Quay

Sarah’s starter was beetroot risotto with tiny cubes of tangy roast beetroot and a beetroot crisp on top with a dollop of Ardsallagh goat cheese. And if you’re a regular reader, you’ll remember I’m a sucker for beetroot anything.

Sarah Riordan is Chef du Jour at Fenns Quay and her starter is Beetroot risotto with Ardsallagh

Her main course was duck confit with carrots, carrot butter, carrot mousse (OMG so good), with nutmeg dauphinoise. Every bite was perfection!

Sarah Riordan is Chef du Jour at Fenns Quay

For dessert, Sarah’s sweet finale to the enjoyable evening was deconstructed peanut butter chocolate pie. Which reminded me of an episode of Top Chef in the U.S. Only the one on TV was gavin an identity crisis (like it wanted to be deconstructed but the chef wasn’t bold enough to take the leap completely).

Sarah Riordan is Chef du Jour at Fenns Quay

The result? My fellow judges and I awarded Sarah four-and-a-half stars. Just a bit more than Paul Axford’s four-star menu the week before.

Fenn’s Quay
Shears Street, Cork City
Tel: 021 4279527
Facebook
Twitter
Chef Kate on Twitter

Sarah Riordan is Chef du Jour at Fenns Quay

Other posts about Fenns Quay:

Chef du Jour 2012 at Fenns Quay with Paul Axford (Mar. 2012)

Reserve Your Seat for Chef du Jour at Fenns Quay (Feb. 2012)

Kate’s Beetroot Fudge Recipe (Jan. 2012)

Chef du Jour Returns (Jan. 2012)

Chef du Jour at Fenns Quay (Nov. 2011)

An Omelet Named After Me (Oct. 2011)

Lunch at Fenns Quay (Sept. 2008)

Tonight! Something special for dinner with Chef du Jour 2012 at Fenns Quay

Tonight is the final night of four for the Chef du Jour challenge at Fenns Quay. This event gave amateur chefs the opportunity to create an original menu and execute it with professional help in a restaurant kitchen. This kind of opportunity does not often happen outside of culinary academies or reality TV shows, but Fenns Quay thought to make it more approachable. Four chefs competed in this event with the two winners of each pairing advancing on to the finals (on a Sunday in April). In November, Jeni Pimm won in her challenge with Paul Callaghan. Each ‘chef’ was carefully selected based on the menu submitted.

Sarah Riordan is chef du jour tonight. She loves cooking and eating and blogs about it on YummyNom’s Culinary Adventures. Sarah hopes to beat last week’s contender Paul Axford with her menu. Sarah’s menu is distributed when guests arrive tonight, but rumor has it pork belly will make an appearance as well as some unusual breads, risotto, duck confit, and a deconstructed chocolate dessert. Barry’s tea or coffee all, of course! It’s just €36 per person (or a discounted €144 total for a group of five), kicking off 8pm. 

It may sound like a competition in the kitchen, but in the dining room of Fenns Quay, diners just get good food that was prepared expertly with local ingredients and a dash of creativity. Three judges (Billy Lyons and Margaret UmNumNum Smith and ME) rate the meal on various elements and stars are awarded, which determine who advances to the final. Meanwhile, there is great conversation, hearty laughter, and delicious bite-after-bite of good food. A great evening!

€36 per person for a carefully-crafted four-course menu plus coffee or tea (beer/wine is extra but they have a lovely wine list and stock 8 Degrees craft brew beers). Spaces are still available for tonight, so ring Fenns Quay now to reserve your place. Tel: 021 4279527 (Be sure to request a seat for Chef du Jour when you ring for your booking). Oh yes, and a special offer for the final night of Chef du Jour is that if you and your friends get a group of five or more together, Fenns Quay will give your group a 20% discount. Do the math, people, that’s €144 (plus alcohol and gratuity) for a night out for five people!! So, get organized and join us tonight at Fenns Quay’s Chef du Jour.

This is an ideal night out if you want to try something new that isn’t being served on any other menu in the city. And if you’re a foodie…well, you should definitely join us because we’d have so much to talk about between courses!!! Hope to see you there.

Fenn’s Quay
Shears Street, Cork City
Tel: 021 4279527
Facebook
Twitter
Chef Kate on Twitter

No 5 Fenns Quay, Cork City

Other posts about Fenns Quay:

Chef du Jour 2012 at Fenns Quay with Paul Axford (Mar. 2012)

Reserve Your Seat for Chef du Jour at Fenns Quay (Feb. 2012)

Kate’s Beetroot Fudge Recipe (Jan. 2012)

Chef du Jour Returns (Jan. 2012)

Chef du Jour at Fenns Quay (Nov. 2011)

An Omelet Named After Me (Oct. 2011)

Lunch at Fenns Quay (Sept. 2008)

Fresco Bistro & Eaterie is Keeping It Real at the Glucksman Gallery

It all started with a recommendation by Greg Higgins in response to my post listing spots serving Brunch in Cork City. He Tweeted: @FreckledPast You should add Fresco’s in @glucksman (‘s) basement to that list.”

Fresco’s? The name rang a tiny bell in the back of my brain, dust stirred. You know when you miss a television show or a popular band when it first hits the airwaves then find the box set at the library and feel like you’ve just discovered a new joy in life? Well, it turns out that can happen with restaurants too! The name was familiar because I had seen a video by Neil Danton of an editorial photoshoot he did at Fresco a few months back. After a few Tweets back and forth between me and Greg, mentioning Fresco Bistro & Eaterie, it became clear that a visit was necessary. Fresco’s culinary imagination and business brains are Kash and Brian. When they heard I hadn’t experienced the joys of the Fresco Bistro menu, they invited me out to tour their menu. It took two visits to work my way through their most popular dishes but I can honestly say that all 13 courses were completely enjoyable.

Brian and Kash

Before I move on to talk about the food, I want to tell you a few other things that I found to be pleasant surprises.

  • The prices are reasonable. Lunch for under a tenner? There is even a deal for students to have a full Irish Breakfast Monday through Friday for €5.
  • Throughout their opening hours, you can pop in just for a cup of coffee to go. An ideal afternoon perk-up, especially if you’re not partial to the Starbucks served at the main coffee shop on campus.
  • Their produce is sourced locally with an exclusive relationship with Convent Farms in County Cork. This is where their passion truly is. Fresh local ingredients.
  • Though the restrooms are on the level below (accessible by stairs), there is a changing room and handicapped restroom on the same level as the Bistro.
  • It’s on the #8 and #5 bus lines. So you can hop on the bus from city centre or Wilton or wherever and be whisked away to the Glucksman for lunch. Sounds so nice when you tell your friends, doesn’t it? “Oh, just popped into this great little bistro at the Glucksman Gallery for lunch.”
  • Fresco doesn’t have a kid’s menu. They believe children have the right to eat good food just like the rest of us so children can opt for a half-portion of any of their menu items. This is something Kash said he’d love to see all restaurants do (this was actually discussed at a TweetMeetTues a while back).
  • Their menu is in the top three best foods I’ve ever eaten in a museum. The other two? The cafés in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Crawford Gallery in Cork City.

Fresco Bistro has a modern design with timeless calm. You can go in, eat your meal, and enjoy some peace. Whether your day is filled with classes to teach, lessons to learn, paperwork to shuffle, or babies to nurture, you can enjoy an affordable meal made with care using local ingredients. Kash has cooked for the celebrity appetites of Bono, Van Morrison and Eddie Ervine and knows how to cook for us ordinary folks as well. Maybe we’re easier because we don’t wear sunglasses indoors?

Arriving at any museum with a baby in-buggy can be intimidating. This is the home of artwork and I have a tiny person who smiles at light fixtures. But my son is content and fairly quiet so I forged ahead with pretend confidence. Turns out that was not necessary since The Glucksman Gallery and Fresco Bistro love children. The Gallery hosts family activities and other events! I stepped into the  oversized and industrial lift, feeling felt like I was heading to some hip underground soiree in a New York City loft. You know, with my infant son, big buggy and oversized diaper bag. What about that doesn’t just scream hip?! The ground level is where Fresco Bistro is located. An expanse of windows along its outer wall face a small field of grass that must look like a meadow to a child. The dining space is fairly intimate and stark in design. That is just one reminder that you’re in a house of art.

I have to tell you about the chairs! They are the most comfortable chairs I have ever sat in at a restaurant. They’re made of some kind of rubberized foam so your posterior is not met with a hard surface but one with just a tiny bit of give. I sat there for three hours and never had to shift my weight once! It may seem like a small thing to make me so happy but give these chairs a try and you will go away thinking, “I forgot to look at the chair that girl wrote about” because it isn’t that you are swallowed by them in comfort so much as you are not injured by them after a lengthy sit. Wish I had taken a picture of one.

Ok, now let’s relive my meals!

When I was there for Sunday brunch, the chalkboard of specials had these appetizing options:
Brunch at Fresco Bistro in The Glucksman of UCC In Cork Ireland

The regular brunch menu lists many classics but also some unexpected delights:
Brunch at Fresco Bistro in The Glucksman of UCC In Cork Ireland

Amazing combination of flavors in the pork belly and sweet potato hash. A taster portion is pictured below, the usual size would be larger if ordering off the menu:
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They cure their own salmon for the gravadlaks and the pancake with chive sour cream is a lovely neutral accompaniment. A taster portion is pictured below, the usual size would be larger if ordering off the menu:
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The meaty and filling chicken supreme:
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Impressed and blown away by the amazing tortellini in creamy spinach and blue cheese sauce that was one of the daily specials:
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For a sweet finish to the meal, there are the pancakes with strawberries and bananas flambé and cappuccino:
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When I lunched there, I was astounded by the selection. In my university days, I dreamed of such a place existing on campus and here UCC has a place with delectable food, locally-sourced ingredients, and invigorating natural light. Lucky! So, about that food. The specials that day were:
Fresco Bistro Daily Specials Chalkboard Menu

Here is their current lunch menu:
Fresco Bistro
Fresco Bistro

The Thai beef salad is delicately dressed with the natural flavors of the steak and gently grilled flavor coming through. Perfect thickness too. A taster portion is pictured below, the usual size would be larger if ordering off the menu:
Lunch salad (half portion) at Fresco Bistro in Cork City

A pleasant surprise was the teriyaki of duck salad which had that enchanting balance of sweetness (papaya), savory (salad), crunchy (pecans), and tender (duck). I’m in love with their house-made candied pecans. Mmm, pecans. A taster portion is pictured below, the usual size would be larger if ordering off the menu:
Lunch salad (half portion) at Fresco Bistro in Cork City

I then enjoyed the lamb harira soup. It is the traditional Berber soup of Morocco and one associated with being nourishing. Each spoonful of soup was infused with natural coriander flavors and the melt-in-your-mouth lamb was so tender. This dish was so good, I forgot to take a photo.

The teriyaki of salmon salad is a fresh and healthy dish. Excellent textures and flavors. Very light salad dressing. A taster portion is pictured below, the usual size would be larger if ordering off the menu:
Salmon salad (half portion) at Fresco Bistro in Cork City

Then I enjoyed their Cajun pasta with spinach. It was creamy with a nice kick. Sweet and spicy are in harmony with the charming sweetness of tomatoes. No photo as it was eaten too quickly.

Next was the Fresco curry with rice and poppadom. The poppadom is the only item on their menu they do not make themselves! The sauce itself was perfectly sweet and spicy as a combination and the chicken was tender and not overcooked. A taster portion is pictured below, the usual size would be larger if ordering off the menu:
Fresco Bistro

And because six hearty taster courses just wasn’t enough, Brian and Kash wanted me to try their fresh Aki tuna salad. Now, this isn’t at all like the tuna salad I make at home. No, theirs is a fresh Aki tuna seared and served atop a bed of greens with a very light dressing on the salad and keeping the lettuce company are little potato bites and a hard-cooked egg. Neil Danton took an amazing photo of the full-size portion of thisA taster portion is pictured below, the usual size would be larger if ordering off the menu:
Fresh tuna over salad (half portion) at Fresco Bistro in Cork City

To complete the decadent and taste bud-pleasing afternoon, I enjoyed a small portion of their flourless chocolate cake. This is made with Callebaut! I cannot say enough good things about this dessert. The flavor is strong but the texture is light, making for a perfect combination as to not overwhelm the stomach but pleasing the senses. A taster portion is pictured below, the usual size would be larger if ordering off the menu:
Half portion of Fresco Bistro's flourless chocolate cake dessert

For anyone visiting UCC, this is a must! For anyone wanting to get out of the city centre but still within walking distance for lunch, this is the place. Come, eat, and enjoy the locally-grown produce, innovative cuisine, and beautiful Glucksman Gallery.

If you want to see more [by that I mean if you want to see some mouth-watering professional] photos of Fresco Bistro and their food, check out this video of Neil Danton’s editorial photography. Neil is a whiz with the camera and I think his appetite for good food comes through in his food photography.

FRESCO BISTRO & EATERIE – Official Website
IN THE GLUCKSMAN GALLERY, UCC CAMPUS, CORK CITY
TEL: 021-4901848
HOURS: MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY 8:15AM-5:00PM
SATURDAY & SUNDAY NOON-5:00PM
FACEBOOK
LOCATION

The Glucksman Gallery

Disclosure: In accordance with the FTC guidelines for bloggers, I disclose that the taster plates were provided to me free of charge so I could be informed about their menu. This was in no way payment or compensation. The words written are completely my own, except for Greg’s Tweet, and true to my opinions and beliefs.