Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Back home part two: Sleepful in Castlemartyr

Now this is a site about cooking, eating and living in LONDON. But this week I'm going all Evel Knievel on you and writing about eating in Ireland. I know, check me out.

If you read Back home part one you'll know I was back in the Emerald Isle this weekend. Down South in the Castlemartyr Resort, Cork. If you're planning a trip to Cork do try and squeeze it in. 

By the way. You can't buy fake reviews from Cuisine Genie. We paid for all our own meals and accommodation. We loved it there so much I wanted to tell you all about it. 

Exciting update Thursday 20 September!
After I wrote the review the hotel kindly offered me a fabulous prize for one of my lovely readers.  One night accommodation, breakfast and dinner in the two AA rosette awarded restaurant. Yes, that could be you! And your guest. Sure you couldn't go alone now could you? Just comment on this post telling me why YOU want to win the prize before 1pm on Sunday 23 September. One reader will be chosen at random on Sunday and will need to take their luxury trip within the next 12 months. Good luck!

Further exciting update Sunday 23 September!
The entries are in....the hat's been closed....congratulations to David at The Silver Chicken! He'll finally get to take his girlfriend away after his tough exams! Enjoy David! We're all jealous!

Red carpet Mr. Moustache? You shouldn't have.


So here's the background-information section:

  • It's a five star baby. Oooh yeah. * * * * * count 'em. 
  • You've 220 acres to explore. I explored 1 acre (possibly). From bedroom to pool to breakfast to the living room to the Bell Tower restaurant and back to the bedroom.
  • A beautiful castle built by The Knights of Templar sits in its grounds, but you can't stay in it, unfortunately.
  • Relax in the 20 metre pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. In that precise order. Sorry to be bossy today. 
  • You could also go to the gym. Like I said, you could go
  • Breakfast and dinner are must-eats. More about them later.
  • There's a spa. Back massages. Enough said.
  • It's 5 minutes drive from Midleton and 30 minutes from Cork Airport.



 View from the hotel gardens

 View from the front entrance

Here's where I tell you what we really liked about it:
  • Tonnes of space, so you have lots of privacy and it's so so easy to relax in. There were 2 weddings on when we were there but we didn't feel crowded at all. 
  • The bed: I melted into it each night. 
  • They have 'spare' dogs you can bring on walks. Gorgeous ones too. I know. 
  • Plenty of spaces to chill out in, like the Living Room. Perfect for post-breakfast food comas. 
  • They don't raise an eyebrow when you order scandalous amounts of food for breakfast.
  • It is family friendly, but no kids in the pool before 10am. I must confess, we liked that a lot.
  • The staff have that lovely Irish charm. I have it too, honest. They're friendly and very helpful without being invasive. Many are from the local community too.

Perfect Post-Breakfast Digestion, Sunday papers in the Living Room


Here's what we didn't like about it:
  • They don't raise an eyebrow when you order scandalous amounts of food for breakfast. I needed someone to stop me.
  • The chocolate coated strawberries awaiting us in the bedroom were a little old school for my liking.
  • The mini bar fridge in the room wasn't cold enough.
  • The bedrooms are far away from reception. Actually this was the only exercise I got, so just as well.

One of the many corridors to our bedroom

Here's the part where I post photos of the food we ate and you drool a little:

We had dinner in the AA rosette Bell Tower restaurant on Saturday night. Kevin Burke is the Head Chef, who in a previous life worked in the Michelin Star Foliage at the Mandarin Hotel, London (Foliage is now Dinner by Heston Blumenthal). 

                                                                Let the games begin

There's only one option - a four course menu, plus tea/coffee and petit fours is €62.50 per person. Wine and service is extra.  A little pricey but you get quality Irish cooking using local and seasonal ingredients. Lighter dining options are available in the bar also. The sommelier thought we asked for 2 glasses of red wine, not a bottle (seriously?) so we nabbed them on the house. Fitting as it was the house red for €32 (a Rioja  - Vina Hermosa). For the most part I loved it. A few niggles, like the green apple sorbet which tasted too grainy and didn't quite hit the A spot. Chicken with leek and truffle was all leek and chicken with no earthly truffle smell or flavour. 

Apologies for some grainy photos, mass confusion with Mr. Moustache and I swopping between the camera and phone. 

A pretty plate of juicy scallops and cauliflower fritters set the bar high for the evening. Mr. Moustache's peppery tuna raised the taste stakes even higher. I can never resist anything with an egg on it, especially a mini quail one. A choice of red pepper soup or apple sorbet followed the starter.

Scallops with cauliflower beignet and cauliflower purée white raisin butter

Black pepper tuna, green beans (bad photo). Crushed potato with a quail's egg.


Irish Hereford filet of beef was the star. I inhaled its heady dark scent and grumbled about not ordering. A light cut from the knife and it fell into juicy slices. My monkfish was a perfect combination; carmelised and crispy on the outside and flaky inside. It sat alongside a portion of  velvety aubergine caviar, for a short time before it was gobbled up.

Filet of Irish Hereford Beef, potato terrine
Pickled shallots, oyster mushroom duxelles with a red wine jus

Roast Monkfish with courgette caponata and aubergine caviar 
Courgette and basil, red wine and olive oil

All accompanied by, what else, la  purée de pommes de terre. 
That's mashed spuds to you and me.

I didn't think I was full when the dessert came. Oh dear, how wrong I was. Predictably Mr. Moustache chose the very French and sticky apple tarte tatin. Served in its own little pan, I swear I saw him shed a tear for La Belle France. I insisted on the artisan cheese plate. I love strong cheeses, but the pungent odours were too much for me and I only managed half of the generous plate. 

Apple Tarte Tatin, caramel ice cream and blackberry compote

Artisan Cheese Plate

Here's where I harp on about the obscene amount of food I ate and start to get a little bit annoying. But you see the photo and forgive me:

Obscene. The sweet smell of freshly baked pastries can really go to your head. I'm back a few days and my body is still adjusting to the fact that breakfast does not consist of three courses. Like 2 and a half croissants, 2 mini pain au chocolates, 1 mini croissant-custardey yoke. A bowl of fresh fruit and yogurt. French toast with eggs on the side. You know you've lost all reason when you order scrambled egg with your French toast. And a latte. Make that a skinny one now won't you, I glared at the waitress. Sabotaging my healthy eating by putting full fat milk in it I'm sure.

French toast with scrambled eggs


Here's the painful part: 

It doesn't come cheap, but you do get bang for your Euro. Prices are available here and they seem to do lots of special offers. Self catering cottages are also available. Go on, you're worth it. You'll sleep well.

And finally, in three words:

Indulgent, spacious and peaceful. 

Castlemartyr Resort, Co Cork, Ireland
+353 (0) 21 4219000
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You might also like:

Back home part one: Up the Rebels!
Back home part three: Eating Midleton (Midleton Food & Drink Festival and Farmers Market)
Back home part four: Jameson Whiskey Tour

61 comments:

  1. Love this hotel, stayed here last year for our anniversary. Lovely review.

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  2. Sounds magic ! Have wanted to go check it out for ages so fingers crossed I win your competition Cuisine Genie :0)

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    1. Thanks Laura! It WAS magic! We want to go back again too!

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  3. Oh la la! I want to win because it looks MAGNIFIQUE and the pungent cheeses made me drool (as well as everything else) miam miam :-)

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    1. It was magnifique! I'd eaten too much so couldn't manage the cheese!

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  4. Looks amazing, great review!

    Now, why I would like to win: Because I really need a break away and would love to eat some great food.

    Also, Ms. FFID would love to come too!

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    1. Thanks Martin! Fingers crossed for you and Ms.FFID!

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  5. the food looks so good I want to try it ;-)

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  6. I would like to stay there to celebrate the history behind the name

    Appartently during the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, better know as the Spanish Inquisition, the Inquisitor General descended on Southern shores due to tales of uncatholic practices down Rebel way. A young Martyr heard of their arrival and alerted the High priests of Cork. While the priests made way to The Pale, the young martyr was hunted dowm and left for dead by the Inquisators. Although his wounds were fatal, his last days were eased by refuge given to him by a chief in a local castle.

    And so Catholicism was saved and the Castle where the Martyr was laid to rest was forever known as Castlemartyr

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Thanks for the facts Anon! But it's going to be hard to give the prize to an Anon :-(

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  7. Oh, I would love to win because after working on our Town of Books festival in Graiguenamanagh this weekend I'm really going to need a fantastic break! :-D

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    1. Sounds like you will need a break alright after that!

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  8. I was incredibly lucky to be able to stay in one of the lodges over 4 years ago now before my 2 boys arrived. Loved the spa, and the grounds. It's an amazing resort. I'd love to revisit it & stay in the hotel without the kids!

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    1. Thanks Caitriona! I'd love to try the cottages too, maybe on our next trip home to Ireland! Good luck!

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  9. Oh, oh, it looks great.
    I would love to stay even just for checking if the mini bar fridge in the room wasn't really cold enough ;)

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    1. Hi Magda, I can confirm it was definitely NOT cold enough ;-) I hope you get a chance to check it out for yourself!

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  10. Looks amazing!!
    I want to try it. Wow! Photos are amazing.
    And peaceful - what more do you need?

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  11. Great review guys! Sounds like heaven. I've never been, would be perfect for a nice relaxing, peaceful break away

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    1. It was like a little bit of heaven! Fingers crossed for you!

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  12. Believe it or not, I'm reasonably familiar with the hotel, but only to go in the back door when making a delivery of Rosscarbery Black and White Pudding. Having seen how beautifully kept the kitchen is, I'd dearly love an excuse to be able to go in the front door and explore the hotel and especially the restaurant. Avril Allshire-Howe

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    1. Hi Avril, wow, I would have loved to see inside the kitchens! Had a look at the Rosscarbery pudding.....that's what we had in our amazing breakfasts then! We loved it! Good luck!

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  13. Oh I could review the remaining 219 acres you didnt get to see??!This place sounds like thee place to unwind and get locked away in its charm and devine food. And did i mention I am reaching my 30th milestone very soon and need a place like this to ease the depression of a quarter life crisis :-)

    Maire Ward

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    1. Hi Maire, ahhh I feel your pain, definitely an extremely worthy reason to win the prize! I survived my 30th milestone this year, just about, I still mourn for my twenties ;-) good luck!

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  14. Looks as charming as a place could possibly could be ! And I would love something to get me away from it all! X

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    1. Thanks Caroline, it certainly would take you away from it all! It was like we were in a little dreamland for a couple of days! Best of luck :-)

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  15. Looks fab really detailed review but I think you should have given more detail on the breakfast ; ))

    I would love to win so I could escape the rugrats for a night, with 3 aged three and under I need to escape !!

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    1. Thanks Anna! Oooooh! Sounds like you need a little escape alright! Good luck and you might be get to give a review with loads of details on the breakfasts :-)

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  16. It looks absolutely stunning!!! I'd love a chance at winning this as I have been studying for the last 4 months for an imminent and painful set of exams. This would be the perfect thank you to my girlfriend who has been brilliant and supportive throughout!

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    1. Thank you! Ooohh I have painful memories of exams and the cramming....hope you do really well in them and maybe you'll get to celebrate with the prize!

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  17. Dia Dhuit. This hotel is one of Irelands true gems. located in a beautiful part of ireland. we have stoped and eaten there a few times but never stayed. Myself and partner would love the experience to complete our wonderful year.......

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    1. Thanks Mirs. I love the south east of Ireland too. Best of luck... I wish everyone could stay there now reading all the lovely comments!!

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  18. Wow, what a fantastic review. I want to go now, right now in fact. Ok reason why I would like to win. Well it's not for me, but for my other half. He makes organising a surprise Birthday break away so difficult. I just cannot plan anything for him. So if I win I get to take him away without him knowing it. It would make my day knowing I was finally able to surprise him.

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    1. Thanks Michael! Maybe your OH will get a surprise! Fingers crossed!

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  19. Wow, what a great review sounds amazing, sounds like the perfect place to take himself away for our 25th wedding anniversary. I love the idea of the dogs, thats what i always miss the most when away, taking my dog for his daily walk!!

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    1. Thanks Belinda! I agree - the dogs are a brilliant idea! I don't have a dog and loved pretending I had one for a little while :-)

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  20. I would love to win this to treat my mother to a night away, she really deserves a night away as shes so good to us all & she might even bring me ;)

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    1. Thank you! I think if you win your mum will have to bring you now after such a lovely comment!

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  21. Would love to visit here for a special occasion - I stayed in the grounds many years ago as part of a trip I took when i was in the Boy Scouts (LONG before the hotel was built) and always remember the fun times on the great grounds there. I would love to go return again - this time in style; swapping the tent for a luxury room.
    My wife and I also love any stories about the Knight's Templar and the Holy Grail etc. so this would be a very interesting extra to explore. On top of that, I'm a fanatical golfer and have heard many great reports on the golf course and I would love to play it. I did take a diversion into the resort a few years ago when I was passing through Castlemartyr, just to reminisce and to get a quick look at the course and grounds and was very impressed. (Big bonus for me is that my sister lives nearby and I could take her & husband for dinner in the hotel & my brother lives in Cork also, so I have a ready-made golf partner available also :-)

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    1. Thanks Sam! Oh! It sounds like you'd be the perfect guest for Castlemartyr...the castle is lovely there. We didn't get any golf in, but maybe you will! Best of luck!

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  22. I have always wanted to stay here but it is a little out of the budget! It's on the bucket list though looks amazing. Lovely blog post

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    1. Thanks Kat! Good luck! Had a look at The Purple Page, lovely post on Kenmare, making me want to plan another trip back home now!

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  23. Love to win this 5* break it sounds like the perfect treat for relaxation

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  24. The food looks amazing. Licking my lips as I look at the presentation of the delightful food. Would love to win this lovely prize. I am sure I would not forget the experience for many years to come.

    Best wishes and here's a hoping....

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    1. It is delightful! Thanks for your entry and good luck!

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  25. Wow it sounds amazing, what a treat it would be to stay there. I like the way you put the bits you didn't like in, its a very honest review.....it has to be the best hotel to stay in for a little time off and a rest

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    1. Thanks Amy! We felt like we'd been away for a week when we came back. Best of luck!

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  26. I would love to stay here, I travel lots for work so I always prefer to holiday in Ireland (minimize travel, spend locally etc).

    This place sounds fantastic for the next holiday, hopefully this winter

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    1. Holidays in beautiful Ireland are the best, long live the staycation! Fingers crossed for you too :-)

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  27. Wow, I am drooling over the photos of the food. What a lovely review, this place looks fantastic! Definitely looking forward to checking this out for a nice, relaxing weekend away. Great overview, very thorough!

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    1. Thanks Martha! Don't worry, we drooled over the food too :-) Best of luck!

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  28. Great review. Looks like an amazing place to stay and eat. Maybe one day...

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    1. Thanks Will! It was pretty amazing....fingers crossed :-)

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  29. Castlemartyr looks and sounds like the heaven. The rooms, food and surrounds are clearly to die for but I'd LOVE to win a night's stay to walk one of the 'spare' dogs!! Amazing!

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  30. The dogs are one of the best bits! Thanks for your entry Louise! Just in the nick of time...we're on a 1.5 hour countdown to cut off for entries! Good luck :-)

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  31. I know I'm at the wire....but I'd love to go so I could take my mum! She deserves a beautiful break away like this!

    P.s. You writing is a pleasure to read! Say hello to Mr M from me!

    Debi L

    x

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    1. Thanks Debi! As Chief Judge, Mr Moustache is allowing your entry into the hat!

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