Showing posts with label Sea Gardener. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sea Gardener. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Sea Gardener. Interest in seaweed rising

The Sea Gardener

Interest in seaweed rising
Marie, busy at her market stall
Amazing how seaweed, so long out of the Irish diet, has made such a comeback in recent years.

Now the natural produce of the seashore is being used in all kinds of things. Samphire is everywhere there’s fish. Fenn’s Quay chef Kate Lawlor uses Carrigeen Moss in a dessert. I’ve eaten Nori crisps in West Cork. You may buy Nori Bake from Galway company Connemara Food Ventures. Arbutus are one of the bread companies using it. Recently, from a new Union Hall venture, I sniffed a gin with a seaweed ingredient! Today, there was a Seaweed class in UCC (Diploma in Speciality Food Production).


 Many people deserve credit for the rise and rise of seaweed and related products in our restaurants and in our homes. Prannie Rhatigan of the Irish Seaweed Garden is one. The McKenna's, Sally and John, are eager supporters. And there are many more.  In Dungarvan, Sea of Vitality supply Milled Dillisk and Ground Kelp and recipes galore and neighbours Dungarvan Brewing Company have a Seaweed Saison.

Today, I just want to shine a little light on Marie Power, the Sea Gardener, also from County Waterford. I met Marie during the Harvest Festival. I had to wait a little while as her stall was so busy. We enjoyed a little chat and then I moved on as people were starting to queue!


 One of the things I bought that day was little bag of Dillisk. That brought me back to my childhood and holidays in Mayo with my mother who loved her Carrigeen and Dillisk. These are straightforward seaweeds.

But things have moved on a lot since those good old days. Maire had a few bars for sale and I helped myself to a couple. The Almond and Orange Bar was good but my slight favourite was the Coconut and Lime. Both contain free range eggs, seeds galore, dark chocolate and, of course, a seaweed mix.


Dillisk & Sea Salt from Wild Atlantic Way Products
She was also doing a tasting that sunny day of her Mushroom and Olive Caponata. I tried that and bought and it was used just the other day on top of a pasta dish, “180 mls of goodness”. It can also be used on vegetables or cold on crostini or salad or use as a dip with raw vegetables or crackers. Recommended!

By the way, Marie learned much of her early knowledge from a 2007 workshop in Annestown with Prannie Rhatigan (see above).  Now Marie herself does foraging walks, cookery demos, ecology workshops, nutrition talks and visits schools and colleges as she spreads the good news about seaweed. And she has a book published too called The Sea Garden - a guide to seaweed cooking and foraging. The book and her products (also a list of stockists) are available online here - no queue!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Harvest Days in Waterford. Visiting the Viking City

Harvest Days in Waterford
Visiting the Viking City
Harvest Festival
Hadn't been in Waterford in a while until we headed east for the recent Harvest Festival. Just ninety minutes after leaving Cork City we were parking in Bolton Street. It was the day before the festival started and we had decided to see some of the city, like any visitor.

First on the agenda was the much heralded Viking Triangle. It is based around Reginald's Tower, the Medieval Museum and the Bishop’s Palace and you can see them on a combined ticket. Amazing collections of exhibits, everything from a 12th century dog’s collar and Brendan Bowyer’s Hucklebuck shoes to exquisite jewelry (12th century) and the sword of a Viking warrior (broken on his death and buried with him).  And don't forget to visit Christ Church Cathedral. It is all on an easy walk.
Wine vault under the Medieval Museum
 We started in the circular Reginald's Tower, once part of the town's defences, built in the beginning of the 13th century, with a second phase in the 15th century. It was also used as a mint, prison and military store and now houses an exhibition. Here you will see that broken sword and much more as you wander its three small floors.

The modern Medieval Museum, incorporating the 13th century Choristers’ Hall and the 15th century Mayor’s Wine Vault, is Ireland's only such purpose built medieval museum and the first thing you are offered is an opportunity to try out as an archer! You may also mint coins here.


Impressive vestments
There is an Art of Devotion Tour (with many statues having been collected from old churches), models of Waterford, the stunning Vestments Room, read (and see) about James Rice and Luke Wadding, see the Waterford ring brooch, the city’s huge involvement in the import of wine and so much more. Check it all out here.

The Bishop’s Palace, the city’s “exquisite Georgian jewel” starts where the Museum leaves off and brings us right up to date. It houses a lovely cafe, where we stopped, and here you can have breakfast, lunch, morning coffees and afternoon teas, even private functions.


Medieval Museum
 You enter the tour via the Garden Hall and its beautiful fireplace. Portraits and another magnificent fireplace decorate the Grand Landing. Later, see the 18th century painting of the city. Read about General Thomas Francis Meagher.  And bacon problems in the 1890s.

Here you will see old Waterford glass, including the Penrose Decanter (the oldest surviving piece), the John Redmond/Ballybricken room, stories of the First World War (read about 14 year old John Condon, the youngest soldier to die in WW1)  and wars nearer home. Then peace and poverty, and sport of course. And then the better times, the nights of dance and music as you enter the Showbands Room and see those white shoes!


Oldest piece of Waterford glass
That night, following a gorgeous dinner at La Boheme, we met Nollaig Brennan at Downes Pub, an old rambling building (even contains a squash court). Here in the snug, we sipped the local Metalman Pale Ale and were introduced to the pub’s own whiskey, Downes’ No. Nine, smooth as the darkness slipping into the narrow streets outside but much warmer!

Busy too the following day with a visit to Waterford Crystal. By Friday lunchtime, the Harvest Festival had started in earnest and there were stalls in virtually every square around the Mall and the Viking Triangle.

 We were looking for a snack after the visit to the Crystal factory and found it in the Enterprise tent where Walsh's Bakery and the Bodega had combined in a Reuben Sandwich, well maybe a Reuben-ish one. In any case, the spiced beef in the local blaa was absolutely delicious. Other stalls around were offering exotic foods with Portuguese, Kenyan, Polish and more available.

The threatened rain arrived later in the afternoon and we headed out the road to the Ardkeen Superstore, on the face of it a normal supermarket. But inside you'll see that a high proportion of the offering is from small artisan producers and we picked up some nice things there.


Elliot Organ in Christchurch
 That evening saw us head out in the rain to the Bodega. The warm colours, the buzz and excellent food inside soon warmed us up.

The sun shone the following morning and the crowds were out in force, walking around the stalls and sampling. We followed suit of course and had a lovely conversation with Maire Power, the Sea Gardener. She has some interesting produce and after a few tastings, we bought some of her Mushroom and Olive Caponata (with seaweed), some bars (including my favourite Coconut and Lime) and a wee bag of Dillisk!


Great choice at Ardkeen Superstore
Also had a chat with Jeni Pim, busy volunteer (husband Nigel was helping out too) in the GROWfest Demo Tent in Blackfriars. Time too for a coffee at the excellent Momo cafe.Then we took a break from the busy streets to call into Christ Church, which houses the tomb of James Rice - quite a story!

I had seen in the week previous two big organs, one at St Luke’s in Cork and the other at St Coleman’s in Cloyne. But the one here certainly caught my eye as it looked so well. This is the Elliot Organ, restored in 2003 after vandalism, at a cost of some €300,000 euro! Now it is in regular use for services and concerts. Read all about the cathedral and its history here.
Saturday's blue sky
Our visit was now drawing to an end. But we had  a lunch date before departure, guests at the EAT Waterford meal in the marquee on the Mall. After that, just time for a quick browse through the stalls on the Mall and a call to Mag of Goatsbridge to buy a few of her tasty trout products. Back to the car then and, with traffic light, we were back in Cork in an hour and a half, bags full and bags of happy memories too!

Down on the quays