Showing posts with label bread. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bread. 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.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Taste of the Week. Medieval. Magical.

Taste of the Week. Medieval. Magical.
Medieval loaf by Arbutus Bread


The Medieval loaf from Arbutus Bread doesn’t look all that attractive. It looks dark and ancient, something that a serf might eat but surely not his knight! But, don’t judge the book by the cover.


Arbutus say it is “for cheese lovers”, “delicious with a fresh goats cheese or other cheeses or superb on it’s own”. And it is.


But now I have another way, a very delicious way indeed, my Taste of the Week. I find the loaf keeps very well but, for some reason, decided to toast a few slices the other morning. And then I added a decent slather of a city honey that a friend had given me from his own bees. Serendipity! Whatever, it is gorgeous, fantastic texture and flavours from the warmed fruits and nuts and the honey sinking in to the bread. Try it!

Ingredients: Wholemeal Flour, White Flour, Water, Sourdough Cultures, chopped Figs, dates, Almonds, Walnuts, Hazelnuts & Organic Cider Apple Syrup. It is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week
Sourdough by Pana
Thanks largely to the pioneering work of Arbutus Breads, many of us are used to getting high quality loaves at markets and shops. If I had to guess, I would say that sourdough is the most popular. This is an excellent example. It is made by Pana (who have a shop in Merchant's Quay) and has won at Blas na hEireann. I bought this at the Coal Quay Market last Saturday from the Clover Wholefood stall and it is Taste of the Week.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

On Bread and Beer. And Beer in Bread.

Not Bread Alone!
Man does not live by bread alone! Not sure that Arbutus Bread would go along with that. Especially after their latest loaf, a very tasty white bread that is made with, among other things, beer from Eight Degrees Brewing Company in Mitchelstown.

Picked up a loaf in Bradley’s at the weekend. It didn't last long at all. What a crust. Couldn't wait to try it. Just added some Glenilen butter for the first slice. Fantastic. Some homemade gooseberry jam for the second slice. Superb. Ain’t going to tell you about the next slice. Nor the one after that. Experience it for yourself.

Am I the only one thinking that the Kinsale Pale Ale is the best around? Renewed acquaintance with this gem, by Black’s, in Jacque’s last week and thought it was just outstanding. Loved the way the flavours spread over the palate from the first sip and that dry clean lingering finish. Indeed, linger is the word. Took my time sipping, the better to enjoy every single every drop.

The very next day I called in to Bradley’s to get a wee stock of the KPA and here Michael Creedon,helpful as always, introduced me to the latest beer from Black’s, Ireland’s first Black IPA. Another gem that might well confuse you because of the dark colour and chocolate and coffee tones. Very happy with that one, though I must confess I’d have a slight preference for the KPA.

Kinsale have moved up to the popular 500ml size and I'd like to see more brewers follow suit and that includes Franciscan Well. I do like a wheat beer and the Well’s Friar Weisse is a favourite. Up to recently it was available only on draught and in that form I enjoyed a few out in Blairs Inn. Now is it in bottle but only in the 330ml size, same as their Rebel Red. Still, bottle size notwithstanding, it is a very tasty drop - love those refreshing flavours.

Tasting Notes
Kinsale Pale Ale ABV 5% - An exciting fusion of Cascade and Citra hops inspires tropical and citrus flavours that are beautifully balanced with the malty sweetness. The taste dollops a smack of citrus onto the palate – grapefruit and lime – alongside more sweet pineapple and tangerine a decent little malt body fairly creamy, with definite biscuit and cake-dough sweetness and straw overall very well balanced. Clean and crisp citrus bite to finish on, which lingers for a while alongside the sweet tropical fruit notes.  - Alltech Dublin Beer cup bronze medal winner 2013.

New from Blacks of Kinsale, Ireland's first Black IPA! A unique beer that ambushes your senses, it pours dark with a creamy beige head but tastes light and hoppy! Complex hoppy fruity flavours and aromas mixed with roasty bitter chocolate and coffee tones. Low carbonation for a smooth stout like finish. Dressed in black, charged with hops and ready to rock.




Monday, October 29, 2012

In Praise of The Phoenix Park Tea Rooms


The Phoenix Park Tea Rooms

There are many attractions in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, the Zoo the most obvious and popular and perhaps also the biggest. But if you are in the area, keep an eye out for one of the smaller ones, the Phoenix Park Tea Rooms, on Chesterfield Avenue, just across the road from the Zoo entrance.

It looked gorgeous from the footpath last week, framed by the golden foliage of the many trees. So we walked in for a quick snack and right into a delightful spot and not just because there were a few squirrels frolicking in the immediate area.

They are open all day long and include some terrific organic stuff on the menu, including the coffee and tea. All the vegetables, salads and fruits are from Kinneden Organics in Roscommon, the chicken is from Cootehill in Monaghan. And their sourdough is by Arun Bakery.

I settled on a bowl of their terrific vegetable soup, served with a lovely tasty brown mini loaf by Arun, all for a fiver. Would have loved to have eaten more there but the soup and the bread fitted the bill at the time and I didn't get a chance to go back there.

But do put it on your list if you are in the area. It is hardly 15 minutes from Heuston Station and should be even more of a delight in the summer when you can sit out on a circle of rustic tables.

Telephone:             01 677 0090