The ostensible purpose of this blog is to rave about the delightful Courthouse Restaurant in Kinloch and the lovely Organic Centre at Rossinver (both in the far west of County Leitrim) but I also wanted an excuse to give an airing to some of the wonderful cloudscapes that County Leitrim can offer on a fine day.
But first, the restaurant. Owned by Sardinian chef, Piero Melis who settled in the tiny village of Kinloch in the 1990s, it is the most unlikely gastronomic gem to find tucked away on the west coast of Ireland. But, using the excellent local produce to its full (I had the MOST delicious zuppa di mare I have had in years) the menu is more than recognisably Mediterranean but interestingly inventive – and accompanied by some excellent and specially imported Sardinian wines.
(Seen above are some scallops sitting on a squid risotto….)
However, even more exciting than the Zuppa di Mare was the fact that the Courthouse offers a comprehensive gluten-free menu and is happy to create dairy-free and nut-free menus for those who request them. One of my dinner guests was wheat free and no sooner had we asked what might be available than an delicious seedy, freshly baked, gluten-free bread appeared and we were offered not only gluten-free pasta (among several other dishes) but the most mouth watering chocolate fondant for dessert. So frustrating that I had not known about them before entry to the FreeFrom Eating Out Awards closed! Never mind – next year…
The Organic Centre at Rossinver, only 10 miles or so down the road from the Courthouse, has been around for just about as long. It runs a variety of courses which include not only gardening and horticulture but local crafts such as basket making, cheese making, ‘managing reed bed systems as a cost effective and ecological way to treat effluents’ and much else.
They also sell organic seeds and plants and recently started a community garden scheme. In return or a few hours hard grind with a hoe or a spade, participants can gather cabbages and lettuces, tomatoes, grapes or courgettes from the poly tunnels and damsons, apples and berries from the orchards.
Or, if you were too busy wielding your hoe and your spade to pick your own, then you can just collect one of the wonderful salad bags, filled not only with lettuces and tomatoes but with borage and violas and nasturtiums…
OK, so much for the local food, but what about those cloudscapes? I was staying with my cousin looking down on Lough Melvin with the Atlantic westwards to the left and the huge expanses of Lough Erne over the hills ahead.
This is the early morning (well 10am early anyhow) view across Lough Melvin and the white cloud that you can see beyond the lough is the mist lying over Lough Erne.
Here, later in the day is the Lough looking west towards the sea in the distance and the hills of Donegal beyond the estuary.
And finally, as the evening drew in, just the peak of the hill across the lough still caught the evening sun….
And viewing it from his perch on the front doorstep – the lord and master of it all!!