A Great Review from Cork Billy
Barnabrow’s Gourmet Evening Exceeds Expectations
Exceptional Wine and Food Pairings
Calm, before the gourmet storm
Fine food, paired so well with gorgeous wines by ENO, featured in Barnabrow House last Saturday night as owner Geraldine Kidd continued to celebrate 20 years in business in the lovingly-restored manor house and 30-acre estate which dates back to the 17th century. The gourmet event was held in the majestic, medieval-style banqueting hall, with its gothic windows, a splendid room that sets a grand, yet relaxed tone.
Chef Stuart Bowes, who came to the East Cork venue some five years ago with an impressive pedigree – he once cooked for 2,000 people at the Sydney Opera House – came in for praise from the owner: “He made us pull our socks up!”
Stuart thanked everyone for coming. “It was quickly booked up. We have the best ingredients in the planet around here and my ethos is to keep it simple.” He pointed to the Périgord truffles, the Kerry venison and the blood orange from Sicily as probable highlights.
Donie O’Brien of Eno Wines had carefully selected wines to match the dishes and we enjoyed an organic Cava, Pares Balta Cava NV with the opening soup: Soupe de Poisson, Gruyere and Rouille. The Rouille sauce is most often used in the cuisine of Provence, most often with bouillabaisse and indeed the lovely soup had strong echoes of the southern French fish soup.
We had already been welcomed into the beautifully decorated venue, where Barnabrow hold their wedding feats, with a glass of the Cava. Donie congratulated Barnabrow and promised a real wine treat and he was fully justified in doing so. Most of ENO wines come from small producers and many are organic.
And, indeed, the next wine was the star of his selection, the next match a highlight of the evening. Stuart’s Ballotine of Organic Chicken and Ham Hock, Hazelnut, Pain d’Épices was paired with J. Lohr Riverstone Chardonnay 2015 from California.
The producer is a “real perfectionist”. The wine has been fermented and raised in oak yet Mr Lohr, a former NASA employee, has judged it all very finely indeed. No wonder, Ashford Castle are about to include it and its amazing aromas, flavours and texture, on their list.
Speaking of aromas, next up was the Winter Black Périgord Truffle Risotto. Another outstanding and superbly executed dish from the Bowes kitchen. No oak used in the production of the matching wine, a light and fresh Pinot Noir from the Auvergne. A lovely wine with spice, fruit and finish but the Truffle dish was the star of this round.
That was followed by the main event, the Wild Venison, Roast celeriac, Savoy Cabbage, Blackberry. A simple dish but every element played a part. The Venison was perfect, I loved the cabbage and the blackberry was a great idea.
And ENO came up with another terrific match: Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva 2012, very smooth and rounded, opulent and rich, very much the complete wine. Decanter Magazine declared the 2010 version “best in Spain”.
And before I forget, the service here was intuitive and unobtrusive, efficient and friendly. And continuing in a sweet vein, we next enjoyed a sweet and rich cheese course: Truffled Brie de Meaux, honey, Poppy Seed Dorrito. Just like every other course, the quantity was just spot-on, the quality never in doubt.
Truffled Brie de Meaux
And we also had a rich and sweet wine: Quinta Seara d’Ordens LBV Port 2007. So much sweetness in one drop, one little sip was enough each time. What a match. Perfect!
And dessert saw those oranges take to the stage, or at least to the table, in an eye-catching palate-pleasing Blood Orange Trifle. Superb. And still time to finish off with a selection of Petit Fours and tea or coffee.
Blood Orange Trifle
Geraldine Kidd’s enterprise is a superb location for weddings (the majestic, medieval-style banqueting hall, with its gothic windows, sets a grand, yet relaxed tone), for corporate events, for celebrations of all kinds (birthday parties, christenings, naming ceremonies, and Christmas parties) and, don’t forget, for Sunday lunch. The carefully designed menu and the matching wines made it an evening to remember and impressed the many guests, some here to check Barnabrow as a possible wedding venue, others (based on past experiences) back to enjoy .
And so to Rest!