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Thursday, August 18, 2016
Rare Cookery Books Workshop – Keith Floyd. A Taste of West Cork Food Festival Event. Urru Culinary Store Bandon
If you love your rare cookery books and recipes and are interested in showing, sharing and seeing other people’s rare books then come join us for a round table show ‘n’ tell workshop.
The Rare Cookery Books Workshop continues this year with a particular focus on Keith Floyd – a one time resident of Kinsale and acknowledged by many chefs as the “Original Celebrity Chef”.
Food writer and Floyd fan, Dianne Curtin will lead the discussion by sharing her books from the era out of which Keith Floyd emerged. Kinsale based chef, Una Crosbie, will also share her memories and books from Keith Floyd.
So, if you are a fan of Floyd or have a rare cookery book or two that you would like to share with like-minded enthusiasts or if you are just curious, then come along, with your books, memories and little stories for an afternoon of chit chat and discovery.
€6 including light refreshment
Booking advised as space is limited.
Contact Ruth for further details and booking 023-8854731 or book on line www.urru.ie
Sunday, September 27, 2015
My place of belonging is West Cork
I see myself primarily as a human being and my place of belonging is West Cork. These are the only two labels I’ll admit to. But I am proud of my Polish and other cultural influences.
So said Frank Krawczyk as he told us his family's amazing story in URRU, Bandon, last Saturday evening in a round-the-table discussion hosted by Ruth Healy and guided by Dianne Curtin. The event was one in the Art of Living Series, itself part of the local Engage Arts Festival.
That story ranged from the second world war in Poland, the gulag and the Katyn forest in Russia, prison and refugee camps, Kazakhstan, India, Uganda, London, Franco’s Spain, West Cork’s Baltimore and Schull and even Tankardstown House where Frank’s son Robbie is now head chef and carrying on the charcuterie trade that made his father a living.
Poland was right in the middle of the conflict as WW2 raged back and forth across Europe. Its citizens were pawns, many lives taken, many disrupted forever. Frank’s immediate relations were caught up in the mayhem and he never got to meet many of them, including his father’s parents.The Soviet Union was particularly harsh on Poland and no less than 15,000 Polish officers were murdered in the Katyn atrocities.
His father was released and made his own way, with great difficulty to the Caspian Sea, and from there to transit camps in Persia (Iran). At that stage, the British were dispersing refugees to the Commonwealth countries and his mother (she hadn't met his father, yet) ended up in India, close to Kerala, along with 15,000 others. She even got to meet Gandhi and wrote about it.
His father, who had been badly treated in the Gulag, had been fairly well educated and also ended up in India, getting work at the Polish consulate from 1943-45. But the new Polish government, a communist one, dispensed with his services and he too was sent to the refugee camp where he met his future wife.
After Indian independence, the refugees were relocated to many countries. By then, Frank's father was working in camp administration and made sure that both he and his future wife would end up together. And they did both get to Uganda, to a camp near Kampala. Here, they married and here both Frank and his sister were born.
But, by 1951, the family was on the move, this time to England where Frank would be educated. Up to then, he had spoken only Polish and had no English when starting school. The food at home was very much Polish. His memories from that time including: free range chickens, beehives, foraging for mushrooms and wild strawberries. His Russian grandmother influenced his culinary awareness, as did Polish and neighbouring cuisines.
He went on to work in London where he would meet his own wife Ann. After his introduction to the hippy movement in the 60s, he dropped out and headed off to, of all places, Franco’s Spain. He tried to get home but needed the assistance of the British consulate. Ann, from Cork, had made her own way to Paris where she too joined the hippy “movement”.
Six months after the Spanish escapade, Frank heard a knock on his door. The young visitors said they had come for the party. Frank said there is no party here. “There is now,” said the hippies. In return, Frank was invited to the next party, in Hampstead, and it was here that he met Ann.
She brought him home and introduced him to West Cork. “It was winter time,” he recalled, “but even so I decided to move to Ireland and it happened two years later in 1974”. A year earlier (1973), they were married in Baltimore and spent the honeymoon on Sherkin Island.
When Frank started living in West Cork, he had nothing but a self sufficiency book (by John Seymour). He was leaving “a good enough job” behind but “never had a great grá of urban living. I preferred the woods and foraging.”
Some years later, he had his “beginnings in food production”. Not with charcuterie but by making a soft fresh cheese (Polish style but from a Scottish recipe based on buttermilk). It was quite a success and won a 1st prize in the RDS in 1990.
Gradually he got back and used to occasionally fill in for his sons who were working as kitchen porters in a local restaurant. The chef patron though was in the habit of drinking too much and often Frank had to do the cooking, learning a lot in the process. Lots of compliments were coming his way but, when he asked for a raise, the boss told him where to go!
Next step was to start his own supper club. And that was such a success that they still get requests to stage it again. It was here too that son Robbie “got a liking” for cooking (even if his 3rd level education took a completely different track). But later he raised the money for the Ballymaloe course and it was that that put the younger Krawczyk on his way.
And it was while doing the supper club that Frank decided to revisit salamis, based on the Polish style of his childhood memories. But, having mastered the technique, he gradually came to the intention, and then the practice, that it was “better to do something from the region rather than replicate from somewhere else”.
He was so successful that he was soon recognised by Euro Toques. “I just happened to be the one that opened the door for Irish charcuterie, similar to what Veronica Steele did for cheese.”
It was with the supper club and the charcuterie that Frank had his battle with the food bureaucracy though he smilingly admitted to being as “much an architect of the battle as the system”. I am a firm believer in the “economics of enough”, that is making enough to live on and no more. He doesn't want to make a fortune but rules are made for the big producers, not for the small but, of course, they are still applied to the small.
Frank is no longer producing his own charcuterie. Son Robbie is now doing it at Tankardstown. And Frank is obviously and rightly proud of that. But, he stressed, “he is not copying, he is doing his own thing.” Frank participated in the launch of Slow Food West Cork, about ten years ago, and is still very much involved.
The many Polish people coming to Ireland, over the past fifteen years or so, have given Frank opportunities to use Polish, “my first language”. “There is a lot I can give to that community. I value my Polish education.”
And there is doubt that West Cork and the Irish food scene generally values Frank.
Friday, September 18, 2015
THE ART OF LIVING
URRU CULINARY STORE
Schull-based Frank Krawczyk (left) is one of Ireland’s best known and most respected salami and sausage makers.
His son Robbie is an award winning chef currently at the much acclaimed Tankardstown House.
Join Frank and Robbie in an around-the-table conversation format event.
Of Russian-European ancestry, Frank will recount his family history, from gulags to re-settlement camps through London to the story of his, and his wife Anne’s, adventures into the West Cork of the ‘70’s, with us.
He will recount his battles with bureaucracy in his endeavours to establish a world class charcuterie business and, more recently, his championing of the Slow Food movement in West Cork.
The conversation will be facilitated by food writer, Dianne Curtin. Active audience participation will be encouraged. Refreshments will be served.
This event is part of Engage Arts Festival .
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Good Food from Bandon and Good Wine from Bordeaux
Made a short visit to Bandon Farmers Market last Saturday. And every stallholder I called to said I was great to come out in the rain. But if you'ee not willing to go out in the rain in Ireland, you’re going to waste half your life.
Great to see some familiar faces like Shirley Kingston, the market co-ordinator, and some new ones as well. Of course, it’s all about the food and I was delighted when Nathan Wall of the Saddleback Pig Company in Baltimore showed me his new product: Sweet Black Bacon Smoked. He tells me it's proving very popular. We’ll have more on Nathan and his fantastic “black” rashers in the next week or so.
No shortage of bakers here and Heavens Cakes, well known in the English Market, had some sweet things on offer. Good too to see Dunmanway Baking Emporium with a stall here, including a baguette that we needed for the evening.
And another surprise was the stand manned, if that’s the word, by Toni. Jams, chutneys and pickles, and relishes of all types, including Red Currant Jelly, Rose Hip and Apple Jelly and Fruit compote. She also sells her eggs, all at a very reasonable price.
The rain, by the way, was bad enough at times but there were clear spells as well and we took advantage of one of those to trot over to the quay and call in to see Ruth Healy in her fabulous food store and cafe at URRU. The warm cups of coffee and a massive ginger cookie were more than welcome.
Bandon is indeed well supplied with places to eat and, of course, things to eat. I had spotted the well stocked, well laid out butcher shop of Martin Carey on previous visits and made a point of calling this time.
This award winning store has a huge choice of meats but we went for the French trimmed lamb shanks, served up later that evening with market vegetables and a red wine gravy. The red wine, Chateau Lamothe Vincent, came from Bordeaux and not all of it went into the cooking!
The starter, a bruschetta using the baguette from the market, some Atlantic Sea Salt and a tomato salsa (all along the lines suggested by the Turkhead Delights cookbook), was excellent as was the dessert, a crumble with rhubarb (from the back garden) and orange. But mainly it was Bandon and Bordeaux. And I really couldn’t tell you if it was raining when I tucked into the lamb!
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Good Food Ireland Conference
Didn't expect a clinical psychologist to be the star speaker at the annual Good Food Ireland conference in the Shelbourne Hotel (Dublin) yesterday. But that psychologist was Dr Maureen Gaffney and she took the room by storm as she looked at the Feel Good Factor.
Must admit I’m one of those people who just love to see a smile. Maureen says smiles “are all important”. “People are ready to co-operate with you..work on it.. smiles help to form that very important first impression. We all have bad days .. act positively especially when things are bad.” She said there is evidence that shows that smiling even helps the smiler. “It triggers (even fools) your brain”.
And she also pointed out that a negative mood in the team leader can have a negative influence on the staff, your staff. This is a “high risk” to business. So learn to smile. Cheese!
“Get your self right..then you'll get a whole lot more right. Learn, achieve, grow. Vision is vitally important, start with your vision. Values are really important, not just accessories...There is evidence that people driven by a higher set of values do better.”
|Maureen Gaffney (left) and Xanthe Clay|
Set challenges, she urged. “Keep learning, growing, have projects, invest time and effort in them. And connect! Not just on digital platforms but also in the real world, family, friends, clubmates. These real connections will provide “personal experience and insight, contextual information, personal recommendations”.
So get social,and get connected, she urged. And she ended with a reminder about that smile. “Nurture your optimism!”
Xanthe Clay, author and journalist, spoke on the fickle British market, especially the fickle press. One day they headline that coffee is good for you, a week later they say it is bad for you. She urged irish producers to give value for money and highlighted the importance of trust (especially after the rocky year that saw the horse meat scandal gallop across the headlines). “Be open, she said. “Show people what you do. If you do add an additive to your food, list it, explain it.” Much better than your customers ambushed by the news in the press later on.
Asked what were the outstanding Irish qualities, she didn't hesitate: “Tradition, warmth, quality. These never go out of fashion.”
Coming into fashion is Origin Green, Bord Bia’s new programme to enhance and promote sustainability and explained on stage by Una Fitzgibbon. This was quite a sombre presentation, no jokes here. Great to see producers such as the Apple Farm’s Con Traas and Stonewell Cider’s Daniel Emerson being very enthusiastic about it on a short film. “This is a big deal,”said conference chair Darragh McCullough. “Only going to get bigger.”
Margot Slattery of Sodexo started with some very impressive numbers: purchases of some 18 million euro in Ireland every year. 420,000 employees worldwide and growing. “We stand for sustainability and fresh food” as client companies are looking for healthy weight and healthy life for their employees. Sodexo run gyms, even detox programmes.
|Siobhain from Kalbo's and Yours Truly|
Margot said they feed 50,000 a day in ireland. “Not frozen food, these are cooked, from scratch, on a daily basis.”
Just before a break for lunch, there was a panel discussion on Digital Marketing and two bits of advice emerged, at least two that I noted. Check out the recent changes in YouTube as they make it more interesting to business. And also have a look at Vine for short video promotions.
If Maureen Gaffney was the morning star then Pádraig Ó’Céidigh caught the attention in the afternoon. The founder of Aer Arann took us on a flight. He started in the Comfort Zone, then challenged us to enter the Stretch Zone before warning us about the perils of the Danger Zone (here, you can damage yourself, he reported, from experience).
|Kevin and Réidín from Sage|
Citing the small beginnings of what is now the Kerry group in 1972 and the choice made by Clonakilty Black Pudding’s Colette Twomey to run the company after the death of her husband as examples of leaving the comfort zone.
And Padraig is optimistic right now. “This is a great time to be an entrepreneur. There is great optimism out there, great opportunities. Time to leave the comfort zone.”
“There have never been such a demand for good quality food. Be solid on your own two feet, use what’s between your ears. No reason why we can't have another Kerry.”
The world will go on with you or without you. Make sure it’s with you. Believe it and go for it. Never forget your roots and use that little bit of Gaeilge!”
An afternoon panel discussion on our food future produced some interesting points. Martin Shanahan thought too much of our fish is being exported. Country Choice’s Peter Ward urged the industry to be creative, to re-invent our own Irish produce. Chapter One’s Ross Lewis says he sees confidence building in young Irish chefs, “not necessarily mimicking foreign chefs.The industry has changed more in the last three years than in the previous thirty.”
Minister for Tourism Alan Varadkar launched the Good Food Ireland prepaid MasterCard, a food travel passport for visitors to the county’s producers, shops and restaurants and said he was encouraged by progress in tourism numbers this year and employment growth in the industry. He lauded the “great decision” by government colleagues to retain the 9% VAT and acknowledged that lobbying had had its effect and confirmed that there were no plans to increase the rate in the future. We are very much in recovery mode.”
The delegates assembled in the same room for a cracking dinner in the evening. Skeaghanore Duck and Clare Island salmon were the centrepieces, all washed down by superb wines from Classic Drinks.
The awards were announced as the desserts were being served and the large Cork contingent had plenty to cheer about with Midleton's Sage Restaurant, URRU Culinary Store in Bandon, MIlleens Cheese, Kalbo’s Cafe in Skibbereen and Kinsale’s Fishy Fishy all winning their categories.
One of the loudest cheers of the night went to Ballymaloe’s Rory O'Connell who was declared Ambassador of the Year, mainly for his part in feeding, at short notice, 10,000 delegates at the recent Web Summit. Mount Juliet won three awards including the Supreme Award and Restaurant of the Year Award.
All the awards were presented by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny who smilingly indicated there were three women he must listen to: Mrs Kenny, Angela Merkel and Margaret Jeffares (the dynamo behind Good Food Ireland).
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Christmas Lunch at Chapel Steps in Bandon
|Bandon (clockwise from top left): Hake, tempting window in butcher's shop,|
aubergine and roast pepper parcels, warm salad of Butternut squash, Pavlova,
Chicken liver pate, swollen river, URRU, and
delicious warm chocolate cake!
Enjoyed a terrific Christmas lunch at the very busy Chapel Steps in Bandon yesterday. Very good value too at €20.00 for four courses with good choices. Well worth checking out in the few days left in the run-in to Christmas. Took a stroll around the town too and did a little shopping in the marvelous URRU shop and also at Matson's Wine Store, another busy spot.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
|Click on image to enlarge|
OCTOBER BEER FEST
No shortage of choice when I called in to the well established OctoberFest at the Franciscan Well Brewery and Pub at the weekend. There were dozens of beers on tap, and many more in bottle at the bar itself.
Renewed acquaintance with John Radley of Cremin and Radley who had a stand there. Tempted also to renew acquaintance with their Fruli Strawberry beer or the Schneider Aventinus but then spotted the new Irish lager from Kerry named after the arctic explorer Tom Crean.
This 4.6% ABV from the Dingle Brewing Company is not half bad and I enjoyed my pint. The blurb says it is light and delicately hopped..perfectly balanced and elegant... I’d agree with that.
Hadn’t seen the Svyturys range before so I had a try at their stand. Got a glass of their Ekstra, a pale easy drinking lager at 5.2%. They are especially proud of the Nefiltruotas Raw, a Zwickelbier Lager described as the lager world’s answer to real ale. Liked my sample and will explore this Lithuanian beer further. Some humourous ads on their site, by the way!
The Franciscan Well joined in the Bord Bia national Beer/Cheese Tasting Events this weekend and on Saturday afternoon, they had the very knowledgeable Willie Healy of the well known Bandon food store URRU in charge of that particular stand.
Here I got the chance to sample their newest stout, the Shandon Century Extra Stout (7.5%), available on tap and in a limited issue of numbered bottles (which, I’m told, are flying out the door at Bradley’s Off Licence). It is something special, full bodied and smooth and with a great dry flavour.
Willie had examples from four local cheese producers for sampling with the stout and the other Franciscan products and they were Hegarty’s, Gubbeen, Ardsallagh and the Fermoy Natural Cheese Company. My favourite match was the stout and the cheddar from Hegarty’s.
Well done to the Franciscan Well who had the whole thing well organised and had plenty of friendly staff on duty to help out.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Glad to see that two old “friends” of mine will be prominent when Urru Bandon re-launch their Wine Club Card scheme this Easter. Bubble Brothers are their wine partners and the two friends I refer to are two favourite wines from the Margaret River area of Australia, Xanadu’s Next of Kin Cabernet Sauvignon and Semillon Sauvignon Blanc.
This Easter Bonanza Wine Weekend in Bandon will feature the re-launch of Club Card; a mix & match wine offer for Easter itself and the start of a series of fun Saturday wine tastings for casual and dedicated wine lovers alike. It will all kick off from 11 am on Saturday 23 April.
Urru’s Wine Club Card will re-launch with a really easy, straightforward wine “collect-to-get” schemes. Simply collect 36 tokens (one with each bottle of normal priced wine) and redeem them to get a 10% discount card on all normal priced wine purchases for 12 months following redemption. This will replace the previous “collect-to-get” gifts scheme that has been running since 2009. The revamp of the scheme is in response to what shoppers having said is what they most want.
For Easter there will be a mix & match offer of Buy 5 Bottles, Get 1 Free on a range of best-selling wines. To make it easy to choose your favourite five, John McCarthy from Bubble Brothers will be in-store on Saturday 23rd April from 11am to guide the tasting of the wines. Wines on offer will include the likes of Agricola Castellana, Pampano Inspiracion (Rueda, €11), Xanadu, Next of Kin, Sauvignon-Semillon (Margaret River, €13.50), Mount Langi Ghiran, Billi Billi, Pinot Grigio (Victoria €13.50), Chateau la Mothe du Barry, Bordeaux Superieur, €12.50, Bodegas Pingon, Carramimbre Joven Roble (Ribera Duro, €13.50), Xanadu, Next of Kin, Cabernet Sauvignon (Margaret River, €13.50), Mount Langi Ghiran, Billi Billi Shiraz (Victoria, €13.50) and more.
Thirdly, an 8 week series of “Taste of Wine & Cheese of the Week” for summer will start. It will offer an opportunity to blind taste a selected wine each Saturday, covering a range of prices, styles and regions. It is a chance to hone the senses, with the aid of tasting charts, guess the grapes, price range and country of origin; then the wine will be matched with a compatible Cheese of the Week, selected from a range of over 40 Irish farmhouse cheeses and to help it all go down there will be 10% off the price to take home and savour in the long summer evenings with friends and family.
Urru Culinary Store and Bubble Brothers Wines have been working together for 8 years to bring a uniquely wide selection of artisan and emerging wine makers to West Cork.Urru is a member of Good Food Ireland /and Slow Food Ireland and is featured in the Bridgestone Irish Food Guide and Georgina Campbell Guides.
This is the 4th in a series of 11 Bonanza Days from Urru across 2011 to bring some good cheer to West Cork and remind us of what is great in our culinary community.