Showing posts with label Schull. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Schull. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Mabel, Matriarch of Loughbeg Farm. Meet Ginger & Biscuit. Black & Decker too.

Mabel, Matriarch of Loughbeg Farm
Meet Ginger & Biscuit. Black & Decker too.
Mabel (left) and one of her possible successors.
We are high on a hill on a farm in Lowertown, Schull, County Cork, and have a 360 degree view.

Looking out to the Atlantic we have a splendid view. It is the last day of August and here, as it often is, the sky is clear and we can see, to our right, the Sheep’s Head Peninsula and the long blue of Dunmanus Bay; Dunmanus Castle (near where there a sea urchin producer operates); we can see, to the left, all the way over to Cape Clear island. Beyond Sheep’s Head, Hungry Hill, blue/grey in the distance, rises into the sky on the Beara peninsula (where there is an abalone producer).
Decker and her litter
And, if we shift position a bit and head towards the pure bred Connemara ponies on a neighbouring farm, we can even spot the Fastnet Rock in the distance.

Behind us, the mountains, including Mount Gabriel, match the sweep of the sea in front of us. And immediately below and around us, lies the farm where Walter and Josephine Ryan-Purcell raise their pigs and goats, soon to be joined by a Dexter cow or two; here they grow their vegetables and do much more besides.
Dunmanus Bay and, beyond, Sheep's Head
In the mountains, you note the ridges of rocks crowding together like the bonhams feeding! The pattern is repeated as the rocks continue through the farm and onwards. On the farm, the gaps get a little wider, allowing some grass to flourish, but still narrow, and the gaps get a little wider (sometimes the width of a decent field) nearer the coast. There are some good fields in the vicinity but this farm is not so lucky. Still, the rough land, bushy and scrubby and sometimes marshy, is an ideal spot for the chosen animals.
Connemara pony and Ginger and Biscuit
 It is an open farm and a  lovely place to visit but the open season has just ended and so you’ll have to wait until next summer. There were some visitors on the final day and their small kids were entranced by the goats and the sheep, mostly by the ten piglets that Decker had produced just three days earlier.

Decker and her pal Black (who is due to give birth to her litter any day now) are Duroc crossed Large Black while the dad Bubba is an Gloucester Old Spot. We also met Ginger and Biscuit, a happy pair of pure Tamworth pigs.


Waiting time. Black in the mud.
 Decker’s recent litter has put the spotlight on the pigs but it is the goats that have and are a symbol of Loughbeg Farm, more or less since Walter and Josephine settled here less than ten years ago. So Mabel, the matriarch of the herd and the best known goat in West Cork as she appears on all their labels, may be feeling a little put out. But not a bit of it. She was in good form as were the rest of them. Walter told me they hope to have 14 goats milking next year.

But, for all the animals, Loughbeg is now best known for its bread, for its Oat Bread in particular. Loughbeg benefited from the Supervalu Food Academy and now you can find the hugely popular loaf all across Cork and Kerry. And maybe further afield in the near future. And if you do come across it, ask too about the delicious Oat Tea Break (soaked in tea and cider!).


 Such has been the success of the Oat Loaf this year that Loughbeg now employs nine, including six full-time. Walter hasn't had as much time to concentrate on other aspects of the farm including his Loughbeg Watering System. He is developing this using drainage pipes with slots for his pots and the water in the pipes keeps the plants irrigated. He never stops! And neither does Josephine. As we were galavanting around the farm with Water and Munich based food writer (and translator) Natascha Afanasjew, Josephine was getting hundreds of loaves of bread packed.


We finished up with a lovely lunch of local produce. The bread and the brack featured, of course, as did some of their own chutneys, ham from Gubbeen, tomatoes and cucumbers from their greenhouse, and cheese, a new one, from Sean O'Brien of Ballingeary. Lovely food and good conversation.

We were joined for lunch by Bruno, here to improve his English and, like Natascha, staying in a newly built cottage on the farm. You may rent a room or rent the cottage, check it out on Airbnb, and then you can really take your time as you take in the fabulous views and indeed everything else that goes on in this remarkably productive piece of West Cork.

  • Just keeping this down the bottom (maybe the little piggies won’t see it). There are plans to add to the Loughbeg Range with rashers, sausages and puddings likely to appear in the near future.
Walter, under glass.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Schull’s Café Cois Cuan. Good View, Good Food

Schull’s Café Cois Cuan.
Good View, Good Food


Roast Mediterranean Vegetable salad
 Many visitors will arrive in Schull around lunch-time. You park the car in the car-park above the fishing boats and wonder where will you get lunch. Just look up towards the street and there you’ll see Café Cois Cuan, serving breakfast, lunch, teas and coffee.


It wasn't there last year, you might say. And you'd be right. The bright and tidy café, run by Kevin Rochford (chef) and Brittany Ingram, opened at the start of 2015 and, during a lunch-time visit last week, Brittany told me that each week so far has been better than the previous one.

And we hope that trend continues. For here you will find good food at a fair price. And, by the way, you'll find excellent coffee. They prefer the “classic” and so they went for a Maher’s blend and the cup I enjoyed was one of the very best I’ve had in a long while.


There is quite an extensive menu at this family run place and be sure to check the board for their daily specials. Indeed, we went for two of the specials. CL picked the Roast Mediterranean Vegetable salad, a very impressive plateful indeed in which the aubergine played the starring role. It was available in two sizes, one for €6.95, the larger for €9.95.

I had been thinking of going for the De Roiste Black Pudding and Cashel Blue Cheese salad but instead picked the Tune special, basically a Tuna Wrap Special with salad and chips. Quite a meal, I must say, and the salad, just like CL’s, was superb.

There were lots of sandwiches available as well, including a Ploughman’s Lunch for just €5.95. You could also start with a bowl of soup and if you were feeling the chill, they were offering a Beef and Murphy’s Stew!
And if you enjoy something sweet, well they have you covered as well. They have Baked Apple cake, Chocolate Fudge cake and Maple Banana Slice (in nibble and full size!). No alcohol here but they have lots of soft drinks and teas and that superb coffee. Service is efficient and friendly and yes the view from the window seats is excellent.


Café Cois Cuan http://www.cafecoiscuan.ie
East End, An Scoil, Cork, Ireland
Tue - Sat:
8:30 am - 5:00pm.
028 27005

kevin@cafecoiscuan.ie

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week
Organic Relaxing Tea
I got mine at Schull Farmers Market.
Also available online - see website below.

A relaxing cup of tea. How often have you heard that said. And much truth in too, particularly if you sup in good company.

How about a relaxing cup of Relaxing Tea? No kidding. I have here in my hand a pack of Organic Relaxing Tea from the Peppermint Farm and Garden in West Cork.

Lots of teas around this house, I can tell you, And it took a while to get around to this one. Not sure that it is more relaxing than some of the others but it does slow things down - after all, brewing time alone is ten minutes! Must say though that it is very enjoyable and that is a big step on the way to relaxation.

The ingredients are basil, chamomile and peppermint and I like the line on the pack: “if you are strained this tea will help you relax”. Humour too in the names of some of the many other teas available from the farm, e.g. Splendid Women's Tea, Kicked Back Evening Tea, Cupid’s Delight Tea (I wonder what’s in that one!) and Banish Exhaustion Tea.

Peppermint Farm is run by Doris and Achim Hoffmann. They do much more than blend and sell teas and you may read all about them here.




Friday, May 16, 2014

Schull Country Market. Cornucopia in a Car Park

Schull Country Market

Cornucopia in a Car Park
Dave from Shehymore Free Range Farm

Sunday morning and the car park near the pier in Schull in transformed into a cornucopia, a profusion of good things to eat and drink from the locality. And not just food as there are also stalls that feature high quality crafts, also from the local  area. The Schull Country Market, one of the first markets in the country to be approved under the new Bord Bia ‘Good Practice Standard’, is well worth a visit as I discovered last Sunday after a ninety minute drive from the city.

While I had met some of the stallholders before, including Gubbeen and West Cork Pies, Loughbeg's Walter Ryan-Purcell, who runs the Fresh from West Cork stall in the city's English Market, made sure I knew most of the others before I left.

Modest Walter introduced me to his wife Josephine (together they run Loughbeg Farm)  and son Jack. You can get their gorgeous chutneys here and in the English Market and we were lucky on Sunday to get a taste of some products that they’ll have on the market soon.

Watch out in particular for their Goats Milk Ice-creams. They have a range of flavours, including a beautiful banana one. These are highly recommended. Another likely hit is their Num Num range, for juniors over 12 months. Not sure I’m qualified (well, I suppose I am over 12 months) but I got a couple of samples to taste. These are the Ratatouille with Steline Pasta and the Three Cheese Macaroni; these are gluten free with no added salt or sugar. 
Tried both and they are full of flavour. Lucky juniors!
Enjoyed a chat too with Willie McCarthy who now sells fish rather than catching it. His fish is fresh! His man does no more than two casts at a time and then makes for the shore and Willie. McCarthy also has a stall in Togher (Clashduv Road) and it is is proving a popular draw every Thursday morning.

Local grower Tim York produces a variety of chemical-free summer vegetables - specialising in tomatoes, French beans and mixed leaves and asparagus - with other fresh vegetables in season. On Sunday his Lisheen Organics stall was full of veg, including in season asparagus. That was irresistible but the first of his vegetables that we tried was a super fresh bag of Pak Choi that went very well indeed with a piece of smoked bacon from Fingal Ferguson of Gubbeen.
As you probably know, Fingal and his family produce delicious smoked meats, cheeses, salami, sausage, pork and burgers from their own farm and smokehouse near Schull. Like us all they were enjoying the sunshine on Sunday and all are looking forward to a great weekend at the Ballymaloe LitFest. By the way, we had a little of the bacon left over on the Monday and CL put it to good use in an omelette, a great way of further enjoying the flavour and texture.
Fingal introduced me to a new product made in Skibbereen by Scratch my Pork. The main ingredient is Irish Pork Pig Rind and it comes in various flavours, including Smokey Bacon, Mexican and Cajun. Crispy and very tasty stuff indeed!
I have sung the praises of West Cork Pies on this blog before. They are very good indeed and they don't stand still, new flavours coming onstream all the time. And they are having some fun with the names. On Sunday, I bought one called The Dragon Pie (chilli included!). It was hot for sure. And of a very high quality, like all their previous pies I’ve tasted. The ethos of the company is excellent as you can see from the photo.

Had a talk too with Dave Loukes of Shehymore Free Range Farm selling his poultry and eggs. He had some tempting whole chickens for sale but we bought a couple of breasts. At present Shehymore are selling just the chickens and eggs but coming soon are Free Range Pork and Young Beef and they’ll also be doing Marinated Chicken Fillets.
Frank Krawczyk is well known in West Cork and beyond for the quality of his charcuterie and we were looking forward to having one of his high quality sandwiches at the end of our turn around the stalls. But we left it a little late and Frank had run out of bread. Still he cooked up some of his flavoursome sausages and served us lunch in a bowl. We thoroughly enjoyed the meat and the salad, complete with flowers and sauce. A superb lunch. Well a superb main course, as a tub of Walter’s brilliant banana ice-cream served as a delicious dessert!
Bought lots of other bits and pieces including honey, brown bread and Wild Garlic Pesto. Would have liked a crepe from Lillian but Frank and Walter had filled us but we did enjoy a quality coffee from Shane who uses coffee from Badger and Dodo and who we met a few weeks back in Bantry.


Great to meet Shiona James as we were very impressed with the work of husband Nigel James. He  creates beautiful and functional vases, jugs, dishes and bowls, finished in his own attractive glazes. All items are hand-thrown, from stoneware and porcelain clays and are intended for everyday use, being safe for oven and dishwashers.

Not all the regular crafts people were there on Sunday but there was some excellent wood products from Gary (he works mainly with bog oak, also does small “wish sticks” called Unicorn Wands!) and by Malcolm (who works with all kinds of wood).

Peppermint Farm is a busy place but Doris Hoffman was concentrating on her herbs and herb teas at Schull on Sunday. She has quite a selection, all made in West Cork. I came away with a bag of her relaxing tea. Just had a cuppa there a few minutes ago….zzzzzzzzz