Showing posts with label Old Butter Road Food Trail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Old Butter Road Food Trail. Show all posts

Thursday, June 1, 2017

These Ladies Like to be Out and About. Bluebell Falls Goats Cheese

These Ladies Like to be Out and About

Bluebell Falls Goats Cheese

“Our goats are outside all the time. They have the use of the shed but seem to prefer the outdoors, even when it’s wet,” said Victor O’Sullivan to me when I visited his Bluebell Falls goats, all four hundred of them, last week. “It makes a definite difference to the cheese.”

Victor and his cheesemaker wife Breda have a mix of three breeds on the farm, just outside Newtownshandrum in North Cork “Why the mix?”, I asked. “They each have different characteristics and, with the three, we get a more balanced type of milk.” 
Milking lessons!
Two of the breeds here are originally Swiss. The Saanen goats are a white or cream-coloured goat breed, named for the Saanen valley in Switzerland. The Toggenburg goat, is a breed of milk goat, named after the region in Switzerland where the breed originated, the Toggenburg valley in the Canton of St. Gallen. The British Alpine is a high-producer of quality goats' milk, and the breed can be found in many goat dairies.

They’ve had goats here since the middle of the last decade and the herd was up to the 400 mark by 2007, the milk being sold on to dairies. They took the big step in 2013 when they bought out Bluebell Falls (then in County Clare). Breda and Victor did cheesemaking courses under Eddie O'Neill at Moorepark (near Fermoy) and, very importantly, Paul Keane of the original Bluebell gave them a solid grounding in the business over a three month period. 
By 2014, they were retailing their own cheese. And, continuing “the same system as Bluebell”, have expanded each year since and are proud of their BRC accreditation, the global standard for food safety.

Their long oval packages have becoming well known to cheese lovers at markets, festivals and in the aisles of supermarket such as Dunnes and Tesco. Varieties such as the Original, the Honey and Garlic, the Cranberry, the Pepper, Mixed herbs and Garlic, and the Caramelised Onion and Caraway seeds, will be familiar to many of you.

I met Victor at the recent Mallow Garden festival and he showed me the original and the cranberry in a newer different “tub” packaging. As tasty as ever but looking well. 

And right along them were the new products, not made from goats milk but from cows. Not any cows either. He uses gorgeous creamy milk from a herd of pedigree Jersey cows on a farm in nearby Dromcollogher. And the two new products, the Jersey Cream Cheese Original and the Jersey Cream Pesto  are absolutely superb, well worth seeking out.
After that chat, it was time to get out and do a bit of farm work. Victor took us through the long grass where a big group from the herd were grazing and soon, with the promise of food, we were surrounded.

“How about giving a hand with the milking?” was the surprise question. Both of us put the hand up. Soon, he had a hold of one of the goats and CL was taking instructions, trying to concentrate and avoid the odd stray leg flying out. A second goat was more steady and the milk flowed, well flow may not be an exact description but she was getting the hang of it as I did later.
One of the young ones
Luckily, Victor doesn't have to rely on city visitors to do the milking of the large herd. He has a mechanical set-up that milks them twice daily. Then of course the cheese making starts. 

And when it is made, you must sell it. And that too takes time. Last weekend, Victor was at both the Mallow Festival and at The Sheridan's Irish Food Festival in Co. Meath. This week, it is five days at Bloom in Dublin, not counting the coming and the going. Tough going really but he gets great satisfaction from making a top class product and getting it out to the public. He is rightly proud of Bluebell Falls cheese and we consumers are lucky to have him on our Irish doorstep. Bluebell Falls is another reason why I'm happy to buy local!
Victor at the Mallow Show
The multi-award winning soft cheese is supplied to top end  hotels, restaurants and food service. It is distributed by, among others, Pallas Foods, La Rousse Foods, and Plassey Foods. Also available in all major retailers and good health stores.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Top Posts 2016

Top Posts 2016
from Twisted, Kinsale


The demand for information on new restaurants is, as almost always, reflected in the most popular posts on this site. The list, by the way, is calculated on hits on posts published since 30th November 2015 and is ordered by the amount of hits. That makes the performance of Republic amazing as it was posted just a couple of weeks back. Not all newcomers though as the likes of The Farmgate Cafe and Bunnyconnellan demonstrates. And not all restaurants either as there is room too for the guerrillas of The Sharp Knife. And not all food either: Youghal's Munster Brewery makes the list.

1- Republic (Ballincollig)
2- Munster Brewery (Youghal)









3- The Mews (Kenmare)
The Mews


4- The Old Butter Road Food Trail
5- Supper Club (Kinsale)
6- The Sharp Knife
7- Twisted (Kinsale)
8- Bunnyconnellan (Crosshaven)
9- The Cafe at Stephen Pearce Pottery (Shanagarry)
10- The Old Imperial Hotel (Youghal)
11- The Farmgate (English Market)
12- La Calavera (Douglas)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

New Life For Old Butter Road. Putting North Cork on the Food Map

New Life For Old Butter Road
Putting North Cork on the Food Map
Carrigcleena Farm Poultry duck with Annabella Farm carrot puree, pickled carrots on crispy quinoa
An old butter road is set to become the centre of a new North Cork food venture. For a year or so now, a small group of people, with support from Taste Cork, have been working on the plan to bring producers and providers from the area together and showcase the result under the Old Butter Road Food Trail. 

It will cover a large area, from Macroom to Blarney, from Coolea to Mallow, from Kanturk to Castlelyons. You should be able to get your first taste of the new trail on the May Bank Holiday weekend 2017.
Mc Carthy's of Kanturk black pudding wrapped in puff pastry and served with house piccalilli

Chairperson of the Old Butter Road Food Trail Maire ní Mhurchu welcomed us to a networking meeting at The Square Table in Blarney earlier this week. “This has been in gestation for the past 12 months. Many have come onboard including producers, butchers, growers, hotels, and restaurants.” 

Longueville House, Macroom’s Castle Hotel, Ballyvolane House, McCarthy’s of Kanturk, and Blairs Inn are among those “onboard”. Eventually each participant will be entitled to display a churn at his or her entrance.
Michael Twomey Butchers Wagyu beef burgers 
with Whitechurch (Hegarty’s) cheddar, 
house tomato chutney made from Annabella Farm tomatoes

The Cronin sisters, Trish and Martina, who own the Square Table, are enthusiastic members of the steering committee. “We can't do good food without producers…there is great produce in North Cork and we are trying to put it on the map. It will be a slow-burner to start with but the knock-on will boost the local profile. And we hope that other restaurants will source local, even in part.”

Maire, who runs the Blarney based Activity Days company, pointed out that there are farmers markets in Mallow, Fermoy and Macroom but they are not so well known.  She and the other members of the steering group, including the Blair brothers from Blairs Inn, are determined to put the region firmly on the map.
Ardsallagh goat cheese
with house beetroot chutney on parmesan shortbread

And when you've eaten, you’ll have no shortage of attractions to choose from in the area. The list, from the lovely Lee to the majestic Blackwater and beyond, includes Blarney Castle, Doneraile Park, Millstreet Country Park, Mallow Castle, and The Gearagh in Macroom.

From the late 18th century, for many decades, Cork was the centre of the world butter trade. Supplies came to the Butter Exchange in Shandon in the city by a network of butter roads. 
Liscannor crab with Annabella Farm carrots, pickled ginger, avocado Vietnamese rollsOld Mill Bank Smoked Salmon blended with Velvet Cloud sheep's yogurt and avocado on home made brown bread made with Macroom wholemeal flour

Perhaps the most famous is that from Castleisland in North Kerry to Cork, via Millstreet. East of Millstreet and west of Rylane, in a small place called Aubane, you’ll find a couple of roadside plaques (right) remembering the heyday of the road.

And here too you’ll see the Kerryman’s Table, a large slab of rock, where the travellers stopped for refreshment and no doubt to exchange gossip. 

And possibly to check their pocket-watches! When a supplier reached Shandon, he would ‘bring home the time' by adjusting his pocket watch at the clock tower.


Did he not know that the clock, with its four faces, one on each wall of the tower, was and is known as the four-faced liar? Read the full article on the butter road, by Jo Kerrigan, here

The old road was busy then, a hive of activity. And the meeting in Blarney gave every indication of making it, and the surrounding roads, every bit as busy again, feeding all the hungry travellers. Maybe, come May, there’ll be a bite or two out on the Kerryman’s Table! And if you don’t know the time, just check your mobile!
Carrigcleena Farm Poultry duck on crostini with Annabella Farm kale and house beetroot chutney

Before the meeting, the Cronins illustrated just what they were taking about with an amazing spread of tasty bites (more than enough to cover the Kerryman’s Table), all made from local produce. 

We had Old Mill Bank Smoked Salmon blended with Velvet Cloud sheep's yogurt and avocado on home made brown bread made with Macroom wholemeal flour; Ardsallagh goat cheese with house beetroot chutney on parmesan shortbread; Liscannor crab with Annabella Farm carrots, pickled ginger, avocado Vietnamese rolls; Carrigcleena Farm Poultry duck with Annabella Farm carrot puree, pickled carrots on crispy quinoa; Michael Twomey Butchers Wagyu beef burgers with Whitechurch (Hegarty’s) cheddar, house tomato chutney made from Annabella Farm tomatoes; Mc Carthy's of Kanturk black pudding wrapped in puff pastry and served with house piccalilli; Carrigcleena Farm Poultry duck on crostini with Annabella Farm kale and house beetroot chutney.