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Archive for March, 2011

#inishfood – Journeys End

March 21st, 2011

With about 4 hours sleep; I awoke on Saturday morning after the Odyssey of the previous day’s trip and the late night hospitality of the Lake of Shadows resident bar resting upon my shoulders. I felt less like the Greek poet Homer who charted Hercules long voyage from Troy, but more like that other Homer, of Springfield fame.

The breakfast room was abuzz with all manner of foodie debate as @pat_whelan and Mag Kirwan of @goatsbridge fame cut to the heart of the Irish food industry. It was not a conversation for a man who had only hours before heard the sirens song and crashed among the rocks that were the Drift Inn and the hotel resident’s bar. I ate my rashers, sausages and eggs and drank my coffee in silence. Incidentally, the breakfast at the Lake of Shadows Hotel is very good.

Coffee & Pigs

We arrived at Harrys Bar & Restaurant after the coffee demo ( which I had really wanted to see ) and just in time to see some pig carcases on display. Luckily there was still coffee a plenty and Ross from Bailies Hand Roasted Coffee and Juan from Coffee Angel sorted out by coffee cravings, and I thawed out about 11 o clock. Tipperary Pork hero TJ Crowe joined Ed Hick, Jack McCarthy and a dead pig on stage and brought us through the process of getting the animal to the table.

This little Piggy went to the market

This little Piggy went to the market

It was a joy to see craft butchery at its best and the bloody excess of Ed’s black pudding demo was the icing on the cake.

Ed Hick's bloody hands

Ed Hick's bloody hands

I recently found a Spanish wine with a Pig on the label and I dropped it down to TJ during his demo. He seemed happy with the present.


I spotted Pat Whelan giving one of his passionate interviews to Ella McSweeney and promptly took a photo and tweeted it. Never let a #tippfood promotional moment get away.


The Media were delightful

I had tweeted with Ella but never actually met her. Being involved with the Tipperary Food Producers, she had really helped our profile when she visited Crowes Farm and covered our Food Extravaganza last November. I was one of the members the crew chose not to interview on the evening, but I was determined not to dwell on that.

As the day progressed, I got talking to Ella and tried to embarrass her by getting a photo to show to my uncle, who is a dairy farmer in Tipperary. Ella is very well regarded by the dairy farmers of Tipperary. My advice would be for her to never visit there alone. There would be all manner of road frontage offered and quotas would be bandied about with gusto. The fact that she was so nice and down to earth was great. We talked about GIY, the Food Connect program run by the Tipperary Food Producers and also about our plans to hold a Salon du Blog as part of the Totally Tipperary festival planned for Cloughjordan in late June. I hope she can make it down, and I will keep the dairy farmers away.

Ella McSweeney gets to meet Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine

Ella McSweeney gets to meet Gary Gubbins of Red Nose Wine

The Food Bloggers of Ireland

It was great to meet so many passionate people that you come across online and in print on a regular basis. Sally McKenna was just lovely and the support that the Bridgestone Guides give to the local food ( and wine ) businesses is invaluable.

Food Heros from Donegal to Cork to Tipperary

Food Heros from Donegal to Cork to Tipperary

I had long been an admirer of Imen McDonnell’s very stylish blog “I Married an Irish Farmer” so it was great to meet her in person. I would love to say that I watched the butter making demo intensely, but last night’s exploits were catching up and a cure was needed. We snuck out the bar for a quick minute
I should state that I did watch #butterlive a few days later online.

Where everybody knows your name

Where everybody knows your name

Tipps best butchers enjoy a laugh

Tipps best butchers enjoy a laugh

The mood in Harrys on the day was electric with lots of interaction between everyone

Sleep & Rugby

Sleep was catching up on us and a Rugby match was looming at 5, so I slipped away and made my way back to the hotel and the bed that I was dreaming of. A bad rugby result was not an ideal aperitif for what was to come but the bus took us back to Harrys for the main event, the Inishfood no menu feast.

There are better food bloggers than me that can better describe the banquet that Donal and Ray put before us, and I would suggest you check Kristin and Caroline’s Irish Food Bloggers roundup of blogs to get a real flavour of all that was on offer.



My highlights included the pork in all its guises ( obviously ), but the fish dishes were so fresh, and the langoustines and the Pollack were just superb. Donal was generous enough to include one of my favourite wines as part of the banquet. I think that everyone enjoyed Les Obriers de la Péira and the people who make it adhere to very similar principles to Donal and his team at Harrys.

Bob Dylan and the Lotto

Pat Whelan started a Twitter rumour that I won the lotto and there were some very interesting tweets flying about for about an hour. The band played Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and I think there was even some Tom Waits. A great end to a great odyssey and Donal Doherty and his team deserve huge praise for pulling off such an epic event.

My only regret is I did not spend more time seeking out and talking to more people. I am a little shy in such exalted company but hopefully some or all of them will come to one of our Tipperary Food Producers events. Look out for #totallytipp and #tippfood hastags on Twitter. April’s Dungarvan food festival will see many of the faces make a reappearance so I hope to be braver and introduce myself to more when I venture across the mountains to beautiful West Waterford.

The Long way home

We won’t mention the navigation on the way back and ‘someone’ getting us lost and finding ourselves on the backstreets of Belfast and then in Armagh. It’s a good thing he makes good rashers. So, just as Odysseus did in ancient Greece, we tied ourselves to the foodie mast, and had our ears plugged up with beeswax so as to safely sail past the Sirens and their song and we arrived safely back in Tipperary. It’s getting late, and this blog has lasted way to long and I’m starting to ramble so until the next foodie journey.

20% Sale on Irish Wine

March 17th, 2011

Since it is St Patrick’s weekend we are delighted to show off one of our favourite vineyards, which also happens to be Irish. Domaine des Anges is set in the beautiful Ventoux region that saddles Provence and the Rhone Valley. Kilkenny man Gay McGuinness owns the vineyard and Dubliner Ciaran Rooney makes the wine. The wines are organic and have received rave reviews from all over the wine world and have been a huge hit with Red Nose Wine’s customers. To celebrate St Patricks weekend and all things Irish, we are delighted to offer 20% discount on these wines.

The Archange and Tradition Red & whites

The Archange and Tradition Red & whites

Domaine des Anges Red
The wine is a blend of 75% Grenache and 25% Syrah. Rich raspberry flavours with touches liquorice and chocolate on the nose. Subtle woodland fruits and the palate, followed by silky tannins leading to a full, rich finish. – Down from €12.50 to €10

Domaine des Anges White
The wine is a blend of 30% Roussanne, 30% Grenache blanc, 20% Clairette and 20% Bourboulenc. A nose of pears and lemons with a touch of tropical fruits. A full, rich, creamy, well-balanced palate with notes of pears and pineapples leading to a long finish, both lively and elegant.
Down from €13 to €10.40

Domaine des Anges Rose
The wine is a blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Cinsault. It is pale salmon pink and the nose is a delicate mix of woodland fruits with touches of liquorice. The fruity notes return in the mouth, with a rich creaminess and a soft but lively aftertaste – Down from €12.50 to €10

Domaine des Anges “Archange” Red
The Archange is a blend of 80% Syrah and 20% Grenache coming from three vineyard blocks each over 50 years of age. Rich intense flavours of black cherry, spices, liquorice and tar on the nose. On the palate, cherries, spices and violets fill the mouth in unison with elegant, ripe tannins – Down from €19 to €15.20

Domaine des Anges “Archange” White
100% Roussanne. The wine comes from a single block of 0,75 hectare planted 25 years ago. A complex nose of honey blossom, lemon zest and toasted bread. The full round palate has both citrus and floral flavours underlined by subtle spicy notes from the oak fermentation. The wine has a surprising length and complexity on the palate. – Down from €21 to €16.80


The Road to #inishfood – Part 1

March 16th, 2011

The old song says that it is a long way to Tipperary, except for those who are lucky enough to live there. However the tables were turned on a few brave Tipperary souls who ventured out on the even longer road to Bridgend in Donegal. This border village is a gateway to the beautiful Inishowen peninsula but also home to the much celebrated Harry’s Bar and Restaurant.
As the song might have sang, “It all started with a tweet”, and in this case the tweet turned into the hashtag #inishfood ( copyright fued pending between Donal Doherty and Ella McSweeney ). A modern foodie miracle happened and on the weekend of March 11th to 13th the Irish online gastronomic world converged to this little corner of Ireland.

The Road to Donegal

I had met Donal Doherty a number of times and was following his success online. As a member of the Tipperary Food Producers and a regular Tweeter, I was very interested in going. TJ Crowe ( of Crowe Farm fame ) was one of the early headline acts secured, but myself and Pat Whelan felt he needed company. In the name of Food and the #TippFood movement in particular, myself, Pat and TJ headed north. The word RoadTrip was not mentioned once, but I think myself and Pat were both thinking about a book.

Without boring you with the early parts of the trip, we ended up driving via Belfast ( otherwise known as the long way with the good road ). We needed food and a quick call to Jane Boyce MW ( who was part of the Tipperary Food extravaganza in November ) drove us in the direction of Hillsborough and a gastro pub she recommended called The Parsons Nose. Jane consults with some of the best restaurants in Northern Ireland so we knew she would know where to go.

The Town I Loved So Well

This is about #inishfood so I won’t dwell on our dinner in The Parsons Nose, but for anyone heading north, it is a great place to stop. Great value, service and food. I will be back. Onwards to Belfast as the snow started to fall, and then the road to Derry via the ear popping Glenshane Pass. We sang “The Town I loved so Well” as we crossed the River Foyle. We arrived in Bridgend and dropped (Red Nose) wine and (Crowe Farm) pork into Harrys and then headed for Buncrana and the hotel. Donal had a taxi waiting and after checking in, we headed for Linsfort Castle where the foodies were in full swing. We had unfortunately missed the pizzas but it is hard to get two butchers to drive 6 hours without a meat laden food stop.


The Rambling House

A few drinks sorted out the shyness and we all started to mingle and introduce ourselves. There was one gang in the kitchen and more in the Rambling House ( there is a great video on The Bridgestone Guide Facebook Page ) where songs and stories are the order of the day. I was bursting to sing but couldn’t leave the Dungarvan Brewing Company Beer or the wine in the kitchen. The fact that I can’t really sing rarely enters my thought process at these times.

I caught up with Donal and stole some of his very expensive wine ( because I left all of mine in the hotel – misunderstanding about BYOB ). I also chatted to Caroline and met Kristen for the first time. The kitchen was abuzz and in the chocolate room I met up with Yvonne from Hey Pesto and nearly tripped over a strange looking dog about eight times. The lady of the house told me why my hotel was called the Lake of Shadows and my earlier assumption about it being haunted and the scene of many a mystery was destroyed. It has a very Scooby Doo name and I was concerned about the caretaker, as he usually ends up being the villain. In our case, the night porter was a gent, but more on that later.

After more beer, wine, chocolate cake and introductions, a bus collected us after midnight to take us away. Could we find somewhere that would offer a band of weary travellers’ shelter from the storm? All my blogs and articles must have a Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen reference so now that it is out of the way, it was another way of saying that we wanted late drinks. Ask and you shall receive and we drifted into the Inn, The Drift Inn ( boom boom ).

Smoke machines and Karaoke

A great little bar complete with smoke machines for the karaoke. Among the revellers were @Pat_Whelan @crowesfarm @the_tastytart @harrysdonal @mccarthykanturk, chef extraordinaire Raymond Moran and many more. I’d like to say that was the end of it, but as I said, the night porter in the hotel was a very nice man. I won’t name and shame or reveal the finish time or the nature of the absurd conversations that took place. It would make a fascinating AudioBoo. I was wrecked and InishFood hadn’t even started.

This was Day 1 and the best was yet to come ( with photographic & video evidence ) … tune into or #inishfood on Twitter for the follow up piece.

Article – Wedding Wines

March 2nd, 2011

“The Bells, the Bells”. I can hear them ringing in my head. That may be due to the amount of wine tastings I have been attending lately, but I think it is due to the wedding season being upon us. I was at a very lively wedding fair in the Clonmel Park recently and it was abuzz with innocence and youth.

I remember it well. I was married in Minella back in 2004. My wife never asked me to go to a wedding fair though. She knows me too well. I turned up and the hair was combed. My promise fulfilled.

Wines for all occasions

I love supplying the wines for weddings as people really care about the wine being good but are also on a budget. This is where small independent importers come into their own as we can offer consistent ‘direct from the vineyard’ prices for serious quality wine. The happy couple can also taste the wines and be confident in their selection. This approach has also worked for christenings, communions and confirmations.

But apart from all the obvious self promotion, the thing that people want to know about wedding wines ( apart from the price ) is what to serve. As much as I love Riesling, I would not serve it at a wedding and as much as I adore Pinot Noir, it is too expensive and most people won’t get it.


Its all about the bride people

I am going to abandon my normal position on being adventurous in your wine choices. In terms of large gatherings where the wine is very much down the agenda in terms of the day’s priority (It’s all about the bride), I would suggest being conservative. My advice is stick with a crowd pleaser, and I am not talking about the bride. Stick with what is popular and goes well with beef or salmon.

Sauvignon Blanc is popular for a reason but closing in on its popularity is Pinot Grigio. These are the two white varieties of choice at the moment. The poor old Chardonnay grape cannot get a look in but it’s a pity as it is great match with that old stalwart of Irish weddings, Salmon.

Chilean Merlot still seems to lead the charge with the reds but the French Languedoc Syrah-Grenache blends are doing very well as that whole authentic earthy style sits well with the Irish palate. Cabernet Sauvignon is still doing well as it goes so well with that other classic, beef.

We want the finest wines available to humanity

You can’t ignore the price issue and to be honest when it is a large gathering and costs are already astronomical, price is important. However, If you want to spoil your guests, I am ready to serve. I am still waiting for Richard E Grant to jump in the door of the shop and scream “We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here, and we want them now”. For those of you not familiar with it, it’s a scene from one of my favourite films, Withnail and I.


To sum up, keep it simple and keep it cheap with wedding wines but don’t poison your guests. They are bringing you presents after all so you need to treat them well. If the wine is bad they will tell everyone and they may not come to your next wedding.

Enough with the bloody politics

This is my last political commentary – I promise. By the time this is published, we will have a new Taoiseach. Hopefully at that point, we can move forward as a united country and build a future that works for Ireland. I think that maybe I should run in the next election.

As Jackie Healy Rae famously said that he represented “the people who eat their dinner in the middle of the day”, I could represent the people who drink wine with it. I should probably distance myself from those who drink wine in the middle of the day.

This week I met with some like minded importers from around the country at a little wine sampling / dinner in Ely Bar in Dublin. Lots of progress was made and a serious plan put in place for the year. We were able to confirm our new shared Spanish wine collection which starts at €8 Euros per bottle.


Don’t miss our current 20% Sale on Languedoc wines. Now that is value.

Who wants a coffee?

As mentioned last week, Red Nose Wine is delighted to announce we have taken delivery of our first coffee. We are constantly expanding our range in wines, but we are now giving you another reason to call in. The coffee comes in full beans and ground bags and comes from Tipperary Food Producer Tommy Ryan of Ponaire. They have a fantastic roasting facility and have a range of flavours to choose from. We will be adding more quality coffee producers to the range in the coming weeks.

Don’t forget to log onto the blog at or follow the ranting on Twitter –

Please have a look at our Facebook site and ‘Like’ Us so we can share all the photos with you. Feel free to share this page with your friends and enemies.

For anyone who would like more information and can’t make it into the shop, please feel free to contact me at

“Life is much too short to drink bad wine”

Fancy a job in Wine? – One going in Tipperary

March 1st, 2011

Do you want to work in wine?
Do you want to work in Tipperary?
Do you want to work in a very progressive social media savvy online business?

We are looking for someone part time who likes people and likes wine.
You must have computer skills and if you have experience in blogging, Twitter or general social media in a business environment ( we all have Facebook accounts ), then that’s even better.

The basic role involves front of house sales, stocktaking, retail layout & paperwork ( of which there is a lot).
If you have any time left over, we hope you can contribute to our blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking and anything else we decide to try.

This is a part time role and it is covering a maternity leave but we are always looking for good people so don’t rule out the position continuing …. please send a CV and an availability date to
The position is based in Clonmel.