Showing posts with label Lettercollum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lettercollum. Show all posts

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Celebration of Cork’s Summer Bounty

Media Release

The Cork Character Café Series
supported by Taste Cork
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A Celebration of Cork’s Summer Bounty
Cork Character Cafes across the county will be telling the next chapter in the Story of Cork Food from Sunday 2nd July – Saturday 8 July. This time the celebration is of “Cork’s Summer Bounty” through specially created, seasonal and local dishes, displays and storytelling.  
It is peak summer in Ireland’s most southerly county. The ingredients these independently owned and committed cafes draw on come from the sea and shores spanning Castletownbere to Ballycotton; the wild hedgerows in every corner of the county and the fruits and vegetables cultivated by the many skilled small growers and bigger established farmers. All benefit from Cork’s long coastline, fertile fields and temperate climate. All are accessible, to locals and visitors alike, though the transformative skill of Cork’s food producers and everyday food providers like Lettercollum Kitchen Project and Sticky Bun in Clonakilty, Idaho Café and Nash 19 in Cork City, Urru in Bandon, The Old Blarney Post Office Café, The Stuffed Olive in Bantry, Kalbos in Skibbereen and Budds Ballydehob.
The Cork Character Café Series, led by owner of Urru Culinary Store and Failte Ireland food champion, Ruth Healy, aims to gradually build consumer awareness of what makes Cork food ‘Cork’ and to promote where people can access Cork food in its most authentic form. Throughout the year, the cafés will champion various themes in order to effectively showcase the outstanding variety of producers in Cork.
Rebecca O’Keeffe, Taste Cork, says “In honour of summer and all that it brings, the Cork Character Cafés are back to celebrate this wonderful season. We are delighted to support Ruth Healy’s initiative to tell Cork’s Food Story, and endeavour to work together with the great cafes of Cork to continuously connect the consumer with the seasons and our local produce”.

Participating cafes celebrating Cork’s Summer Bounty:
Urru Café & Culinary Store, Bandon
Urru will be sharing complimentary taster dishes during lunchtime showcasing Cork’s Summer Bounty, as well as creating a vibrant, live Cork Summer Bounty Display for touching, smelling and tasting.
Idaho Café, Cork City
“This summer, as every summer, we LOVE Cork strawberries.
We will be serving a simple sundae, using Cork strawberries, freshly baked shortbread and soft ice cream from our pop up ice cream bar.
We will also be serving a Cork version of the Niçoise salad - Ballycotton New Potatoes, Union Hall Smoked Tuna and our own hen's free range eggs, served with local leaves.
It is Cork on a plate, and we love celebrating the humble potato, especially at this time of year.”  - Richard & Mairead Jacob, Idaho Café, Cork City
Budds, Ballydehob
“Taste & savour the true taste of West Cork here at Budds, Ballydehob, this summer.
All our fresh produce comes from within a few miles of the restaurant which include:
  • Bob Allen of Kilkilleen Organics
  • Lea Miklody of Coolcaha gardens
  • Tim York of Lisheen Organics
  • Smoked meats and fine cheese from Gubbeen farm & smokehouse
  • Smoked fish from Sally Barnes of Woodcock Smokery
  • Cheeses from Milleens/ Durrus/ Macroom & Toonsbridge
  • Fabulous meats from Walsh’s in Skibbereen, Hegarty’s in Schull & Twomey’s in Bantry
  • Fresh fish from the fish station Skibbereen
We will be incorporating all these wonderful ingredients to create our daily changing menus throughout the summer and pairing them with local craft beers & cider.” - Jamie Budd, Budd’s Café & Restaurant, Ballydehob 
Lettercollum love their beetroot!
The Old Blarney Post Office Café
“We will be showcasing our homemade Elderflower Cordial. Pop in to enjoy a range of delicious Elderflower drinks” – Lenka Forrest, The Old Blarney Post Office Cafe
Kalbos Café
Kalbos Café grow all their own salads, tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs & new potatoes which are all just coming into the kitchen now. Kalbos will be promoting them in lots of delicious salads next week. 
Lettercollum Kitchen Project
“We will be celebrating beetroot - we have plenty growing in our garden!
We will be making beetroot soup, muffins, hummus, cakes and salads the special feature of the week.” – Karen Austin, Lettercollum Kitchen Project, Clonakilty

On the Pig’s Back
On the Pig’s Back will be featuring a delicious Strawberry, Mascarpone & Lime Tart on their menu during Summer Bounty Week.
Nash 19
Nash 19 will be showcasing the seasonal bounty of beautiful local salad leaves in all their natural and varied glory.
With details to follow from The Stuffed Olive (Bantry), Ali’s Kitchen (Cork City), and The Sticky Bun, (Clonakilty)
Share the online celebration via @corkcuisine and @tastecork on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and enjoy the actual celebration of Cork’s Summer Bounty in Cork Character Cafes from Sunday 2 July – Saturday 8 July.

About the Community of Cork Character Cafés
The community of Cork Character Cafes is evolving as the collective platform for sharing Cork’s distinctive, casual food and hospitality experiences. The Community is becoming progressively active on social media (#ThisIsCorkFood @corkcuisine), the Cork Character Café Series (specific Cork food themes on menus and activities in cafes) and pop up café experiences in novel venues across the year.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

In Spiller’s Lane. Choc And Aah!

In Spiller’s Lane
Choc And Aah!
Allison, on her bike, with her Clonakilty Chocolate
Clonakilty hotels and restaurants were out in force as A Taste of West Cork festival kicked off in the town’s Spiller’s Lane on Saturday. The sun came out too and so did hundreds of punters as the local mayor opened the event.
With music playing, we sauntered up and down the narrow lane and started off with a delightful cocktail from Fernhill Hotel. Ingredients were mostly local, of course, and the "Corktail" included service with a smile. Neighbouring stall saw the Emmet Hotel dishing out loads of delicious small bites. We sampled canapés featuring Union Hall Salmon and Chicken Paté, both excellent.

An Sugan (top)
and Richie's bun.
A beetroot salad? The offer came from the man at the Baile an Ard Foods Stand and, of course, we said yes. It was very impressive. He told me the salad, along with quite a few others, may be bought in local shops and supermarkets and that they also do catering for events such as Communions, Confirmations, parties, even Christmas. So now you know.

An Sugan had quite a menu on offer and we picked their Scallops with a parsnip and potato puree. Three big juicy scallops, for a fiver! 

And we did well next door too with Richy’s Bistro where the man himself served up their Steamed Pork Bun, based on a dish by a top New York chef. Ricky took a while to figure out how to reproduce it but it was worth the wait as it is a beauty, another gem for a fiver.


The Lettercollum Project
On the way back down (maybe up!), we stopped for the speeches alongside the Clonakilty Black Pudding stand. And then there was ice-cream from the lady at Clonakilty Homemade Ice Cream. The Honeycomb was delicious and a reasonable two euro for a boule. They have a shop in the town and do outdoor events and supply to restaurants and hotels around West Cork. They’ve been doing it for the past ten years and all the ice cream is made on the premises.
We had lots of other samples as we made our way around but our final stop was at Clonakilty Chocolate where Allison was not alone displaying her range of freetrade bars but also the newest addition to the family, the baby sleeping soundly despite the crowds. No need to sample here, we know how good her chocolate is.

We did buy a few bars, including the favourite Mo Milk Chocolate. This includes goats milk and Coconut Blossom Syrup, a creamy compromise between the bean and milk. Enjoying it now as I write this. Tough going!

  • A Taste of West Cork continues all this week with events, big and small, taking place across the area. Get your hands on the brochure or check it out here .

Monday, December 1, 2014

Fish & Wine on the Double. Recipes from the Lettercollum Cookbook

Fish & Wine on the Double

Recipes from the Lettercollum Cookbook
Grilled Cod

Dipped into the fish section of the newly published Lettercollum Cookbook  twice over the weekend and came up with two beauties! And matched them with two lovely white wines from Supervalu.

Enjoyed the Moncrieff Show from the Midleton Distillery on Friday afternoon; no shortage of whiskey and tasty canapes, even wine. Still, ever mindful of the next meal, our first call on the way out was to the Ballycotton Seafood shop on main street and here we bought some scallops and cod.

The scallops, an impulse purchase,  were done this time, not with bacon, but with black pudding. The black pudding was really good but a bit on the strong side for the shell fish and I think the Truly Irish bacon is a better match! 

The cod was deliberately bought for the Lettercollum Recipe: Grilled Cod with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Basil. It is the kind of dish we've made lots of times on holidays (easy to get the basic ingredients). Indeed, Karen Austin’s book says “this recipe is great in summer and very quick to make”. But the result, with the super fresh cod, was also excellent on the last Friday of November.

The wine:
Portico da Ria Albarino 2013, Rias Baixas (Spain), 12.5%, €10.00 SuperValu.
With its light gold colour and fresh aromas, you get to like this one immediately. Fresh and fruity, it is quite intense on the palate, lively and lovely, and with an ample finish. It is the perfect match for simple fish dishes, including this one and the one below. Very Highly Recommended. Lovely label too! Rias Baixas is an area in North West Spain, around the Atlantic city of Vigo. Albarino is its dominant grape, also the easiest to pronounce!
Suquet de Peix. Tasty in any language!
Fish Two
We were soon back in Midleton, this time for the Saturday Farmers Market and joined the queue at O’Driscoll’s Fish stall, again shopping for a Lettercollum recipe, this time the Suquet de Peix, better known around here as Catalan Fish Stew!

We got a bag of fish bones from O’Driscoll’s to make the fish stock and also Monkfish (you may also use Hake) and mussels, the other main ingredients. Onions, red peppers, garlic, waxy potatoes and tomatoes, even a drop of brandy, also feature in this very tasty dish.

Karen says they first came across it in Cadaques on the Costa Brava, the town where Salvador Dali lived for most of his adult life. “Essentially, it’s a one pot dinner but a great dish for entertaining as the basic stew can be made and then left aside until the guests arrive when you can reheat the stew and pop the fish in. It is served with a parsley and almond picada - a sauce similar to a pesto”.

It turned out very well, thanks to the chef de cuisine here.


The wine
Macon Lugny Les Coteaux des Anges 2013 (Burgundy), 13.0%, €10.00 Supervalu.


This is an excellent Chardonnay from the home of the variety. There is even a village called Chardonnay, not too far from Lugny. Like Rias Baixas, most production here, in the Mâconnais part of Burgundy, is on a small scale. Again, the match was a good one and the wine is highly recommended, especially at the discounted Christmas price.


Colour is a light honey, really bright, and the white fruit aromas hint at peaches, nectarines, apples, a little citrus too. No shortage of inviting flavour on the palate, concentrated fruit, crisp but with a good weight and a long finish.

The Book
The Lettercollum Cookbook, by Karen Austin, is widely available in bookshops nationwide (including Waterstones and Bradley's) and in the UK . Great too that it is printed in Ireland by KPS Colour Print. It is published by Onstream in Cork and available online here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Our Treat From Lettercollum Cookbook


Our Treat From Lettercollum Cookbook
First of many!

Delighted to meet author Karen Austin at her book-signing in Waterstones last Saturday. Editor (and publisher) Roz Crowley was meeting and greeting and doing the introducing. Karen was hoping the new book, the Lettercollum Cookbook, would get people back into the kitchen and cooking for themselves, especially now that there is so much much great produce available in Ireland.

I did my best to assure Karen that her book, packed with easy to follow recipes, would not be left to gather dust on the shelf in our house and I told it would be dog-eared before long, all the while nibbling her much sought after chocolate and hazelnut cake. No point in putting that promise on the long finger - indeed, I already had my ingredients on the bag!

A few hours later, we began our first project, her Beetroot, Caramelised Goat’s Cheese and Pumpkin Seed Salad. Got a couple of rounds of the creamy St Tola cheese at On The Pig's Back while the beets came from Sandra and Joe Burns’ farm stall at Mahon Point farmers market.

Karen says: "If you are lucky enough to be able to get your hands on some golden beets or striped chioggia beets as well as the regular type, your salad will be all the more beautiful". Well, our beets weren’t quite as colourful as those in the photo* in the book but were delicious.

Just as we suspected, this turned out to be a gorgeous dish, a perfect combination of beets, honey, seeds, and cheese and the dressing was also outstanding. Well worth trying on your own. Now what will we do next?

* The fantastic photos in the book, widely available in bookshops nationwide and in the UK (including Waterstones and Bradley's), are by Arna Run Runarsdottir. Great too that it is printed in Ireland by KPS Colour Print.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Lettercollum Cookbook Local Ingredients. World of Flavours.

The Lettercollum Cookbook
Local Ingredients. World of Flavours
I like the freedom and flexibility afforded by Karen Austin, the author of the just published Lettercollum Cookbook. The book tends to the vegetarian but there is no preaching, no straight lines to follow. Quite the opposite. Plenty of flexibility and there is a chapter on chorizo, another on fish.


Karen and her husband Con have been operating in West Cork for the last thirty years and that remarkable story, progress from a crowded dilapidated old mansion to their own walled garden plus an ever so popular shop in Clonakilty, the Lettercollum Project, is told in a couple of pages early in the book.


Not detailed in the book is the couple's input to a recent Cork/Beirut collaboration. Here, along with Sally Barnes of Woodcock Smokery, they took part in ‘Make Food Not War’. This included cooking with war widows in Tripoli, helping them create dishes that can be sold in the markets, a step towards freedom.
Author Karen having fun with her two sons, Darren (left) and Ronan
both professional jugglers.


The freedom in the book that I’m talking about is of a different kind. For instance, in talking about a vegetarian Leek, Sweet Potato and Spelt Soup, she says: “If you have a chicken carcass handy, throw it in”. In a Seafood Chowder: “if you don't like mussels, add more fish”. In a Potato and Chorizo Tart you are invited to try Puy Lentils instead of the potatoes. Her recipes are not straightjackets, though the likes of myself would probably do well to pay close attention to the basics!


The book is well laid out, not cluttered, with some terrific photographs of the food (my favourite is not of food though but the spread with the bird nesting boxes). Some beautiful salads in the first section, many of them for the summer time. But some too for these short days, including a Red Cabbage, Celeriac, Apple and Hazelnut Salad. And you also have the Asian Slaw, “equally delicious summer and winter”.


The New Potato and Smoked Mackerel Salad looks tempting. While it is perhaps, as indicated, one for sunny weather, methinks it would do just as well at this time of year, especially if using Fresh Hederman’s fish.


And speaking of freedom and flexibility in the kitchen, there is a Rooty Toot Soup. “This is a bottom of the vegetable basket type soup - just chuck in whatever you have.”


Sometimes, when on holidays in France we buy fish at the market. We don't want to do much cooking, and it usually ends up with cherry tomatoes. And, in the fish section, Karen has a very “quick to make” recipe here: Grilled Cod with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes and Basil. Just the job, for Ireland or wherever. Think we’ll be trying that soon.


Quite a few recipes for Chorizo and one that caught my eye was the Chorizo and Cabbage Paella. Lots of very good chorizo available locally nowadays.


Karen must be delighted to see the increase in the variety of local produce over the past thirty years and her Linguine with Tomato and Mozzarella, in the vegetarian chapter, would no doubt see many of us using the super fresh Toonsbridge Mozzarella. Here too, the Pindi Channa looks amazing, Karen referring joyfully to the “fresh, sweet explosions of the jewelled pomegranate seeds”.


There are recipes for a string of gorgeous savoury tarts and she details how you can make the Lettercollum savoury pastry (they have had many requests for it over the years). Of course, there is a Sweet Things corner. Recipes that got my attention here are her takes on Crême Brulée and also her Rhubarb Clafoutis.

Recipes too for Summer Fruit Jam, Sweet Pastry, and Peach Bellini. Quite a lot in this book for all seasons. Reckon the one in this house will soon have many dog-eared pages.

The Lettercollum Cookbook (€21.00) is available at bookshops nationwide and also in the UK. Great to see that the book is totally "home-grown". It is edited by Cork journalist Roz Crowley, published by Onstream and printed in Mayo by KPS Colour Print. Well done to all concerned.



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Great West Cork Distillery Tour. Beautiful Baltimore

Great West Cork Distillery Tour

Beautiful Baltimore. Bountiful Clonakilty. 

A terrific tour of the West Cork Distillery in Skibbereen was the highlight of the first part of our twenty four hours in West Cork. A twenty four hours that had some changes to the “plan”, a rather loose one admittedly.

First hiccup, if you could call it that, came on the way down when a phone call to Baltimore revealed that the two o’clock trip on the SeaSafari was off as the craft was out of the water for the afternoon and being cleaned up.

So then the Distillery tour, one o’clock start, was pencilled in. Got into Skibbereen in good time and called to a busy Apple Betty’s. Ordered a panini. That was a little slow in coming but it was gorgeous, a terrific filling of bacon, Cashel blue and a fantastic relish. Rushed it a bit and hot footed down the street to the Distillery.

John O'Connell (foreground) in the Distillery
Things didn't look good here as people were coming away rather than going in! Apparently, the Distillery weren't very happy with the time published in the "Taste of West Cork" brochure. Director John O’Connell explained they couldn't do the tour at one but would have “a good one” at three.

It worked out well, at least for us. We headed off in the sun (the weather forecast was not exactly spot-on either) to Baltimore, packed with people who seemed to know more than the forecasters. So packed, we didn't find a space in the car parks.

Off out the road we went to the Beacon and enjoyed marvellous views both on the way and during our walk up to the Baltimore landmark. Great views over the islands, Sherkin the nearest, and back to the little town. Later, we had a pause and a walk by the harbour. Hiccups yes but this day was going very well indeed.
The Beacon
So well, we nearly missed the tour or so we thought. But there was no rush as dozens and dozens of people arrived, the big numbers a surprise to John and his friendly staff. Still we were all settled, with a glass of their Drombeg, perhaps their most famous whiskey so far, and a good one too for this time of day as it is just twenty per cent abv.


John then took us on a walkabout of the distillery where the staff were still working. He took us through the process, from the malted barley coming in, and along the journey to the casks (they use sherry casks) and the bottling at the end.

Great informative stuff and more whiskey before we left, with tastings of their West Cork whiskey, the normal and the cask (57% abv!). If you like your whiskeys flavoured then Kennedy’s is the one for you. You may have it Spiced, Honied, Limed and Chillied! They also do a gin, poitin and a vodka here, under the Two Trees brand. And that’s not all.

The ferry, from Sherkin, just arrived in Baltimore
But that was it for us and we headed through the town and off to the Inchydoney Island for that evening’s magnificent nine course dinner “A Taste of West Cork”, all part of the week long food festival in the area. Read all about it here.

And there was yet more whiskey on arrival as we were pleasantly surprised with a glass of the lovely Irish Mist. Time then for a walk on the fantastic beaches here.

The Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa is a four star hotel on the Wild Atlantic Way but I must say that the facilties and service that we enjoyed there were closer to five star. Great place with great staff. The only hiccup perhaps was a delay at breakfast but I think that was down to the many customers that all came together at about ten o’clock on the Saturday. Hard to legislate for that!

At Apple Betty's
They support local produce here obviously and I enjoyed my Scrambled Egg and Ummera Smoked Salmon before we headed off to Clonakilty in the morning mist. It had dried up by the time we arrived and we wandered through the streets looking for the Lettercollum Project shop.

We found it and it was busy, selling salads, tarts, cheese, wine, nuts, seeds, breads and so much more, much of it based on produce from their walled garden in nearby Lettercollum. We went off with enough salad (mixed beans) and bread for two delicious lunches over the weekend.

And we also found Vic and his organic Dexter beef in the market. The main market is on Friday but you’ll find some stalls operating on Thursday and Saturday. I’ll soon have a separate post up about Vic and his tasty beef but for the latest check out his Facebook page

Our twenty fours in West Cork were up and it was time to head back to the city. But we’ll return. Again and again!