The 5 star hotel and resort is set in beautiful grounds just outside the bustling village with which it shares its name. Located within driving distance of Cork City and many of the county’s sights and attractions, Castlemartyr is the perfect place to stay in if you want some relaxing time-out in a luxurious and sophisticated setting.
Named after the wife of one of Castlemartyr’s previous owners, Lady Fitzgerald’s Afternoon Tea is served in the Bell Tower Restaurant which has all the understated elegance of the finest period dining rooms. It is immediately apparent that a great deal of thought has gone into all aspects of the afternoon tea. Everything, from the design of the menu to the choice of teas, cocktails and food offered and the table settings, has been carefully considered to ensure that guests have the best experience possible. Top wedding/event planner Peter Kelly, AKA ‘Franc’ was enlisted by management to advise on the re-launch of the afternoon tea in 2014 and he has helped create something that is truly memorable.
|Selection of Sandwiches|
A good selection of loose leaf teas is available. Supplied by Ronnefeldt, the choice includes Irish Afternoon Tea, Darjeeling Summertime, Superior Gyokuro Green Tea, Smoked China and the intriguingly entitled Light & Late. Separately, Barry’s Classic Blend loose leaf tea which hails from Cork is also available but in the end I plumped for a pot of Castlemartyr Assam which has been specially blended for Castlemartyr. With its deep amber colour and strong complex flavours this is a tea that is full of character and it stood up well to both the sweet and savoury elements of the afternoon tea.
|Poached Salmon Sandwich|
To start with a Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Strawberries & Honeycomb was served. Presented in a small glass cup, this was an absolutely beautiful dish to look at. Panna cottas can be tricky to get right, but this one was perfect and had a fabulous silky texture. Topped with a thin layer of strawberry consommé, diced strawberries and garnished with basil cress and honeycomb, this was a dish that despite its delicacy packed a real flavour punch.
|Scone, Jam & Clotted Cream|
I love the moment during afternoon tea when the cake stand arrives laden with bite-sized sandwiches, scones and sweet pastries and was delighted with the range of goodies presented to me. Too often sandwiches are an afterthought with more effort put into the presentation and flavour profiles of the pastries. The sandwiches here were innovative interpretations of traditional offerings. Chicken, Rocket & Wholegrain Mustard on Soft Wholegrain Bread was very enjoyable and generously filled with small chunks of moist chicken. I also loved the classic Cucumber & Cream Cheese Sandwich served on white bread but my favourite was the Baked Brioche Roll with Egg Mayonnaise & Sun-Dried Tomato. The well-made brioche roll was rich but still managed to feel light to eat. It was perfect with its creamy egg mayonnaise filling. The final sandwich - Poached Salmon with Herb-Infused Mayonnaise, Boiled Quail’s Egg & Trout Caviar on a Squid Ink Bread was visually spectacular and although the ingredients used might not be to all tastes, I loved it. The squid ink bread with its subtle taste of the sea really enhanced the flavour of the poached salmon to create a sandwich that was unusual yet somehow very Irish.
The final tier of the cake-stand, a selection of treats prepared by the pastry chef, was based around the theme of raspberries and included a Raspberry Macaron, a White Chocolate Mousse with Raspberry Purée & Chocolate Waffle Cone and a Chocolate Ganache Tart topped with Raspberry Mousse and a solitary fresh raspberry. It is impossible to pick which was my favourite as they were all exquisite and really demonstrated how versatile raspberries can be. Also included on the plate was the most delightful Crème Brûlée Swiss Roll which so successful captured the essence of that classic dessert. I loved the caramelized outside layer and could have eaten slice after slice of it.
|Crème Brulee Swiss Roll|