Showing posts with label Cork County Council. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cork County Council. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Taste of West Cork Guide. Kate Brings It All Together

A Taste of West Cork Guide

Kate Brings It All Together
Ross with Sally Barnes
In West Cork, there are scores of good food producers, one down every lane, up every boreen. But which road, which village? Where do you find them when you want them? The answer is now quite simple: buy a copy of the Artisan Food Guide, just published by A Taste of West Cork Food Festival. 

The 80-page guide, edited by Kate Ryan, was launched by Michelin chef Ross Lewis (Chapter One) in Vertigo, the top floor of the County Hall, last week. Ross said good cooking begins with good shopping and this guide will help you do some great shopping.

And indeed, guests arriving in Vertigo were able to sample some of the produce from the likes of Ummera, Rosscarberry Recipes, Durrus Cheese, Hungry Crow Chocolates, Sally Barnes (Woodcock Smokery), Glenilen, Skeaghanore, Gubbeen, West Cork Pies, and West Cork Olives.

Helen Collins, chairperson of the A Taste of West Cork Festival for the past four years, welcomed the guests and other speakers. She extended a big thanks you to Tim Lucey, Chief Executive Cork County Council for his unwavering support, to outgoing Mayor of Cork County Seamus McGrath, another great supporter.

And, of course, she had a huge welcome for Ross Lewis, the chef who grew up in the area around the County Hall itself. Ross has dined in some of the world's finest restaurants but that doesn't stop him from enjoying the best of local (he had earlier lunched on lamb stew and floury potatoes in The Farmgate). He repeated his high regard for artisan producers - they are not in for the money - and that regard is well documented in his book "Chapter One- An Irish Food Story”.

Helen told us that the guide author Kate Ryan is Bristol born but has been living in Clonakilty for the past ten years. She is well known on the food scene through her blog flavour.ie, through her Clonakilty Walking Food Tour  (Failte Ireland approved, by the way!) and her willingness to get involved in local endeavours.

Clockwise from top left: Mayor Seamus McGrath, Helen Collins,
Ross Lewis and Tim Lucey

Another Ummera product
The book could easily have been just a list of the producers but is much more than that. West Cork is a big place so Kate decided to use some natural divisions, eg The Beara Peninsula, as chapter headings. So yes, of course, the producers are listed with some detail (including contacts and if visits are possible). Listed also are specialist food shops and local farmers markets. And, importantly, from a tourist point of view, she suggests itineraries to follow.

Let us illustrate her “scheme” by using the Clonakilty section as an example. So, you're an English or French foodie and newly arrived. Where to start? Spend a fiver on this book and you’ll see Clonakilty and its neighbours Timoleague, Dunworley and Rosscarberry.
Hungry Crow Chocolates, the bigger ones have dates and figs inside!

There are no less than 21 local food producers here including well known ones such as Ummera and Rosscarberry Recipes, lesser known such as Clonakilty Homemade Ice-cream and Devoy’s Organic Farm.

You can read which places are open to visitors and plan your own food journey. Or perhaps you’d like to rely on Kate's suggestions which starts with Ummera in Timoleague and ends with Bushy’s Strawberries in Rosscarberry. In between, you’ll visit The Baking Emporium, Camus Farm and Clonakilty Chocolate and more, maybe even a tour with Kate herself. After all that, you may well make Dunworley Cottage your overnight stay. And that's just one section!

The book will be an ideal "guide" to the Festival itself which takes place this year from 8th-17th September, with over 180 culinary and adventure events taking place across the region’s 33 towns and villages and 9 islands.  Visitors will find a foodie’s paradise, with several national and international chefs preparing culinary-themed feasts in local restaurants, food tastings al fresco, foraging walks, open-air markets, seminars, cook-offs, masterclasses and intimate evenings with local artisan food producers imparting their culinary wisdom.

As I said, West Cork is a large area, so much to see and do, so much good stuff to eat and drink!



Monday, June 19, 2017

Cork Summer Show 2017. Town and Country Get-together in the sun.

The Cork Summer Show 2017

Town and Country Get-together in the sun.
Ford 100

The organisers of the Cork Summer Show got the weather they, and it, deserved this weekend and once again it proved to be a very enjoyable occasion, a chance to catch up with old friends, to try something new (like the Cotton’s Ball’s Cascade beer), to pick up info from the County Council tent on the many things to see and do from Mitchelstown to Allihies, from Youghal to Newtownshandrum.
First friendly face we recognised was Sandra Murphy. She had been up late at the previous night's fashion show in the Cork International Hotel but was in bubbly form as always at their desk. We entered a competition there, so fingers crossed!


Then we met Rebecca at the Taste Cork tent, all busy preparing for the day-long schedule of cookery demos. Up and down the rows of trade stalls then before arriving at the County Council stands where we collected quite a few information leaflets on places like Spike Island and Camden Fort Meagher, along with those handy town maps for places like Clonakilty, Youghal etc.
One Horsepower!

It was getting busy at the western section as owners (often with the whole family) prepared the cattle and horses and more for the judges. The equine judges were first in action and I must say I was taken with the side saddle event even if there were just two competitors.

Something cool was now in order and we got a delicious ice-cream from Clonakilty Ice-cream (I recommend the honeycomb!) before moving on to see the petting section. Luckily for the pigs and hunting dogs (there were two packs) here, the tops of their cages were partially covered so that they could enjoy some shade.

The poultry section had quite a few exotic breeds including a big line-up of bantams. The owner of one helpfully opened the cage door for me and I was able to get a close-up of his Polish Bantam hen; the cock was next door but that cage stayed shut! “A high maintenance couple,” the owner confided.
The newly elected City Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald was being shown around as we got back to the entertainment area where many families were sitting on anything from long wooden seats to bean bags) having a bite and a drink and listening to the music or enjoying the magician. 

A bit early perhaps but we did enjoy a glass of that Cascade, a well hopped deliciously flavoured beer from the Cotton Ball, with an abv of just 3.8%. Lots of other choices here too, including local gins and whiskeys. 


By now, lots of old Ford vehicles were motoring into the grounds, cars, vans and tractors, as the show organisers recognised the company’s 100 year old links with the city and county. Some lovely old, and not so old, vehicles here and we got a personal run-down on a 1947 Prefect, even info on courting in the back seat! My Dad had one of these in the early 60s
Polish Bantam

How about a bit to eat? The only problem here was making up your mind; there were so many stalls, big and small, selling food to eat on the spot. A few months back, I got some Peri Peri sauces to sample from Athula and when I saw he was doing food here, I had to try it. And yes indeed, his Peri Peri Chicken Pitta was delicious and nicely spiced (I had asked for medium!). That and a glass of water was dispatched while standing at a barrel table as the sun beat down.


We were into the afternoon now and, having arrived early, stamina was running out. Besides, the dog, who had been left at home, would need to be walked, so we retreated from Curraheen, meeting many people on the way in. This is a huge attraction for town and country and deserves all the support. And they came in record numbers. It is estimated that 27,000 people attended the show on Saturday and a further 33,000 attended on Sunday. 

Perfect Prefect


Friday, March 11, 2016

Taste Cork's Electric Breakfast Part 2: Plan! Plan! Plan! Nutri Bullet Generation.

Taste Cork's Electric Breakfast Part 2: 
Plan! Plan! Plan!
And the Nutri Bullet Generation.

The 12 Mile Menu on a plate at Sage. (Photo 2014)
It may have been the morning after the night before for Kevin Aherne. But Kevin, who had rushed back from Killarney having seen his Midleton restaurant Sage named as the best in Cork at the Irish Restaurant Awards, was well up for for the Taste Cork Breakfast Seminar in Electric on Wednesday morning.

Once you have your idea fixed, Plan, Plan, Plan. That was his advice to would-be producers and restaurateurs. “It is the same as in the restaurant kitchen: preparation, preparation, preparation!

Kevin's own big idea was of course, his 12 Mile Menu. That came after Sage had been open for three years. So they closed while the new idea was formed and got going again when it was fully formed.

Jen O'Mahony, Bean Brownie, Kevin O'Connell, Forage and Find,
and Sarah Sexton, Bean Brownie
So number one for Kevin was to get “your idea”. Why did he not call his plan the Local Menu or the Artisan Menu. “Because those words, though still popular and though they still mean something, are losing weight.”

Once your idea is there and you believe in it, it is now time to get it marketed, to get the message across to your customers. In his case, the restaurant was the platform and he used it to highlight the high level of great produce in East Cork and indeed in Cork county.

“Producers don't always get the credit they deserve”. Up to 26 producers are supplying Kevin's 12 Mile Menu at present and you'll see many of their photos - in work situations - on the walls of Sage.

Declan Daly, Cork County Council, Mary Daly, Food Safety Company,
 and Rebecca O'Keeffe, Taste Cork
Small producers have to put up with food fraud from time to time with one outlet or another saying this is the genuine article or maybe buying the genuine thing for a week or two and then substituting an import. “It is important that the food label is true. No respect for bullshitters!”

Even though successful, there are always pointed questions. “You don't get everything from within the 12 miles, do you? Why not 20 miles?” Kevin is well used to them by now. He confirmed that all fresh produce comes from within the 12 mile limit; his poultry supplier is on the limit at 11.99 miles! But Kevin has no problem with someone having a twenty miles limit or a fifty mile limit. Not every part of the country has such a concentration of producers as has East Cork. Indeed, Kevin's great idea is obviously open for replication elsewhere.

More about Sage and its 12 Mile Menu here

Paul O'Brien, Bunnyconnellan Bar and Restaurant,
and Shannon Keane, Diva Boutique Bakery and Cafe,
After the traditional full Irish (full Cork) at Electric, Mary Daly (of the Food Safety Company) had the task of diverting minds to Changing Trends in Food. “Take the Healthy Option for instance. Smart food operators are onto it. Free From is part of it but much more than that. Lifestyle factors come into it and there are a growing number with allergy intolerance, 10% suffering from it and 20% who think they are! It represents a significant opportunity for the food sector”.

Take the Lifestylers, the “Nutri-Bullet generation”. “They eat out regularly, not necessarily high-end. So promoting healthy foods (less processed, less fattening food) will retain your lifestyle audience.”

“What is driving Free From? How do you give it to them? Eighteen per cent of them chose to eat healthier, not because to have to….they want great taste, guilt free treats and small portions.”

“Calories on menus are coming,” she has no doubt. “Most operators are responding to trends, keen to do the right thing, even if calorie counts aren't that popular. Listen to your customers: clean food, clear labels, and healthy options for kids. Make it your marketing message. It is what the customer wants; this is not a fad.”

Read more on Mary’s thoughts on Food Trends here.

For more background on Taste Cork's Breakfast Seminar see Part One .