Showing posts with label organic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label organic. Show all posts

Monday, May 29, 2017

Richard's Little Farm Delivers

Richard's Little Farm Delivers

Richard’s Little Farm deliver their organic vegetables to top restaurants such as Greene’s and Elbow Lane. But you too can become a regular customer by signing up for the regular vegetable box scheme!

Richard Hooton has been growing his own food for many years and decided to set up Richard’s Little Farm after completing a Masters degree in Organic Horticulture at UCC.

The farm, established in 2015, is situated in Hazelwood, Mallow, Co. Cork where he produces over 20 different varieties of vegetables, salads, herbs and fruit. Everything produced on the farm is grown only as nature intended, without the use of artificial pesticides, herbicides or fertilisers. 

All the crops are grown and harvested by hand and sold locally at the Mallow Farmers Market (Friday 9am- 1pm) and the Nano Nagle Centre in Killavullen (every second Saturday 10:30am- 1pm) and also in local shops and restaurants. And, as we all know, vegetables are always so much better when harvested fresh and used in season.

That Vegetable Box scheme is seasonal of course so will vary from time to time. You may receive updates each week via text, Facebook, email or Twitter. Then you pick what you want and, freshly harvested, it is delivered to your doorstep free of charge! You can sign up via the Facebook Page or by contacting Richard at 087 281 2054.

With just an acre to work from, this farmer sometimes has to think outside the box. Caught for space? Do what Richard did and start planting your salads in a length of gutter!

Richard is one of quite a few North Cork producers that I saw at The Taste Cork tent in the Mallow Home and Garden Festival at the weekend. One visitor asked him how he started, what did he need. “Oh, just a patch of land and a broad back,” he joked. A bit of get up (early) and go too, I reckon.
Other local producers at the show included Ballyhoura Apples (above)
and Longueville House cider and brandy.




Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Montepulciano and Montepulciano

Montepulciano and Montepulciano

I think we’ve all been confused at one time or another by Montepulciano on an Italian wine bottle. It is the name of a grape and of a town in Italy. According to Wine-Searcher.com the grape was named after the town and was once widely grown there.

Nowadays, the grape has found another home in Abruzzo, hence Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.  In the late 20th and early 21st century, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo earned a reputation as being one of the most widely exported DOC classed wine in Italy (Wikipedia). 

Abruzzo is a large area on the east coast. The local wine industry, according to Vino Italiano, is dominated by giant cooperatives of which Cantina Tollo (below) is one example.

Now let us return to the city of Montepulciano. This is in Tuscany, in the province of Sienna, and is one of the most attractive hill towns in the area.

The main grape grown here is Sangiovese (blood of Jove or blood of St Giovani or maybe something else entirely!). Only the very best grapes are used for Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The others are used for Rosso di Montepulciano. The Vino Nobile has the big reputation but the simpler Rosso is no mean wine either as our example indicates.

Other grapes grown here, according to Vino Italiano, are Canaiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Alicante (Grenache). No mention of the Montepulciano on that list, so you are highly unlikely to see a Montepulciano di Montepulciano. Let me know if you do!

Cantina Tollo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (DOP) Bio 2015, 13%, €14.45 Le Caveau


This organic wine has quite a few admirers and I'm among them. Pascal Rossignol of Le Caveau, the importers: “The Bio wines are a great find. The wines are literally singing in the glass with their exuberant fruit and juicy flavours”. The winery itself says they are bursting with primary red fruit.

The fruit is hand-harvested and the wine is neither “fined nor filtered”. Colour is an attractive ruby. Aromas are mainly of red berried fruits. It is fruity and juicy and easy drinking. Lots of lovely fruit flavours, nothing extreme, mild tannins, well balanced and with good acidity. Class finish too, long and dry. Very Highly Recommended.

Innocenti Rosso di Montepulciano (DOC) 2012, 14%, €17.45 Le Caveau

The Innocenti estate lies between Montefollonico, a walled city in Tuscany, and Montepulciano, just a short drive between them. This is a blend of Sangiovese (mainly), Canaiolo Nero and Mammolo and has spent six months in oak.


Colour is bright, and light, ruby. Generous aromas of stewed plums and a touch of heavier gamey notes. It is medium to full-bodied; that warm fruit is there, some spice too, really well balanced. Fine tannins noticeable on a long and dry finish. Very Highly Recommended.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Albet i Noya. Classy Wines from Catalonia

Albet i Noya
Classy Wines from Catalonia

The Albet i Noya family vineyard is situated at Can Vendrell near the village of Sant Pau d'Ordal. They cultivate 44 hectares of vines on the slopes of the Ordal mountain range in the Penedes region of Catalonia, and have held Organic Certification since the 1980's. The brothers Josep Maria and Antoni are steadfast in their pursuit of excellence and innovation, and their range of still and sparkling wines are synonymous with high quality. 

It was Scandinavian influences, staring in 1978, that led to the vineyard going organic. Josep Maria Albet i Noya decided to try one of the vineyards, despite doubts from friends and family. But it worked out well and encouraged him to extend the practice. Healthier vines and healthier wines are the result.

Albet i Noya, Lignum, Penedes 2013, 14%, €16.00 Mary Pawle Wines

This is a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon / Garnatxa negra (Grenache) / Merlot / Syrah / Ull de llebre (Tempranillo). The grapes are “from the highlands of the region” and the wine has spent 10 months in barriques.

I had been looking for some help after opening the bottle but my timing wasn’t good: “It’s red, smells like wine and it’s nearly time for East Enders!” In fairness, after the show, I did get a more considered opinion and we both were very happy with the Lignum.

It is a ruby red, bright. Aromas are an inviting mix of dark red fruits, especially plum. You have the same bright mix of fruit flavours on the palate, spice, smooth tannins. It is warm and supple and dry with a long lasting finish. Very engaging. Could well be a long term relationship! Well made, no loose ends here, a more or less perfect wine and Very Highly Recommended. Good value too.

The winemakers say it can be enjoyed straight away, although it will evolve favourably in the coming years if stored between 10° and 15° C. “We recommend serving it at 17°C.”

Albet i Noya, El Fanio, Penedès 2010, 13%,€15.90 Mary Pawle Wines

I was a little bit worried when I realised the age of this one. But re-assured when reading that Xarel-lo ages well and this wine is one hundred per cent Xarel-lo.

Pale straw is the colour and there are white fruits, honey and herbal notes in the aromas. Seven years it may be but still lively, stone-fruit flavours, touch of melon too. The mouthful is close to succulent - it has spent some seven months on lees. Hints of sweetness but all well balanced by a vibrant acidity and then there’s a decent mid-length finish to follow. Highly Recommended. Would be interesting to compare with a more recent vintage.

Albet i Noya say: Planted on small terraces of 2 or 3 rows and treated with Biodynamic preparations to heighten the expression of the terroir, the wine is vinified traditionally. It is left on the lees in the porous cement eggs that let it breath and constantly dynamises the wine due to their shape, bringing out the mineral character of the Costers de l'Ordal.



To read more about the varieties of the Penedes region, please click here

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Sparkling Intro to Le Caveau Tasting


Sparkling Intro to Le Caveau Tasting
Sparkling Sugrue

Limerickman Dermot Sugrue was in sparkling form in Cork’s L’Atitude 51 yesterday. And why not? Didn't he have his superb Wiston Estate wines all lined up on the first table of the Le Caveau Trade and Press Tasting.

These English sparkling wines are on a par with the top offerings of Champagne. Indeed, the Wiston Estate Blanc de Blanc NV commands a higher price per glass (and per bottle) than a very well known champagne in the Chiltern Firehouse, an exclusive London restaurant. “It is a great restaurant”, said Dermot. “An old fire station, architecturally impressive, and it's great to in there and poured by the glass!”

This NV, all Chardonnay, has a broad appeal, “a social wine”. It is mainly 2011 but contains twenty per cent of 2010 reserve, which plays a key role in this amazing wine. The grapes come from three different vineyards, all West Sussex, all chalk. The Wiston Estate vintage wines are from single vineyards.
Mark of Cockagee.
Next up was the “accidental rosé” of 2011. It was the warmest summer for 140 years. “The wine made itself”, said Dermot. ”But what pleases me is the way it has sustained itself since. The 33% of Chardonnay is now growing in influence.”  It is a magnificent drink and you are very highly recommended to get your hands on a bottle or two.

And it seems there is more good news to come on the rosé front. There was a great vintage in 2014 and the results to date “are extremely encouraging”.

This pleasant sparkling interlude was finished with a tasting of the Sugrue Pierre 2010, a family effort with even Noodle the dog getting his cartoon on the label. It is made from 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, matured in old barrels (50%) and stainless steel. Two and a half years on lees, disgorged in 2014 and then two years in the bottle. It is superb, fantastic body and finish. And Dermot put much of it down to the time in bottle, reckoning that many underestimate the importance of time spent under cork.
Stephane of Chateau Turcaud
I had been doing some “homework” in preparation for this tasting and one of the most pleasant parts was the bottle of Cockagee cider I treated myself to. Read all about it here.

At the moment, Cockagee producer Mark Jenkinson has just the one product but he’s working on some new ones. “I have some on lees since 2012 and will be disgorging this year on the way to making a full champagne cider. It will be a few months yet but is tasting very well at the moment.” And he is also working on an ice-cider!

Great to meet up then with Stephane Le May of Chateau Turcaud in Bordeaux. I was in his village two years ago but didn't know about his superb wines then. Now I do and now too I have an invitation to call next time I’m Entre-deux-Mers! His Cuvée Majeure (named after the local abbey) is outstanding and one of the finds of my “homework”. “It is wonderful”, agreed Stephane.”A wonderful freshness. It was a good summer and then we had a great September and that helped a lot.”  Turcaud exports about 50% of production, most of it to the East Coast of the US.
Orange alert!

Menade’s Nosso Verdejo natural 2014 was another of the highlights of my “homework” and I renewed acquaintance with this beautiful wine thanks to Eleonora Infuso who was at L'Atitude. “It is only our second vintage of this wine. It has been a  very big success for us and it is what we want to do.”  

She had another pleasant surprise for me: their V3 2012. Some of grapes for this come from their 30 ha of pre-phylloxera vines (over 140 years old!). It is fermented in 500 litre French oak for between 8 and 10 months and then aged 1 to 3 years in bottle. Rich and full and with a very crisp acidity, this is another gem from one of the leading estates in Rueda.

Stayed with the whites when I met Chris Forbes of Taylor’s Port. I do like my Taylor’s Chip Dry White Port and Chris had just the recipe for me. “To make a refreshing and original summer drink, mix one part of Chip Dry white Port with two parts of chilled Tonic water in a tall glass, adding a sprig of mint or a twist of lemon.” Obrigado. Cheers.
With Eleonora of Menade

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Spanish Organic Duo

Spanish Organic Duo

Bodegas del Rosario Monastrell 2012 (Bullas DO), 14%, €12.90 Karwig Wines


Red fruits prominent in the pretty intense aromas here. Fresh and light on the palate, with excellent fruit flavours, tannins yes but very close to smooth. This medium bodied red has a good share of acidity, some spice too, with a pleasant finish. More for summer recreation than winter contemplation and Highly Recommended.

Monastrell is the Spanish equivalent of Mourvedre and it is unusual to see this grape out on its own in Ireland as it is much better known as a part of many French blends. Also unusual to see anything from this appellation of Bullas which is in Murcia in South East Spain and about 75 minutes inland from Alicante. Just goes to show the work that Karwig puts in in sourcing their wines.

Hacienda Grimon Crianza 2012 (Rioja DOC), 13.5%, €15.70 Le Caveau


Colour is a medium to dark red and it gives up dark fruit aromas. On the palate you have rounded fruit flavours, tannins are pretty well integrated and there is a long dry finish. Overall you get the impression that this is a more mature wine than the age indicates.


Perhaps the rigorous fruit selection plus the 16 months in oak (6 months is minimum for Crianza) has combined to good effect to give more than a hint of almost old fashioned Rioja elegance, a rather serious one at that, and the wine is Highly Recommended.

The blend is 85% Tempranillo, 10% Garnacha and 5% Graciano. Viticulture is organic, no herbicides, no pesticides; the sheep provide the fertiliser and harvest is by hand.




Friday, May 29, 2015

Highbank Organic Orchards. Hundreds of Apple Trees. Billions of Microbes

Highbank Organic Orchards

Hundreds of Apple Trees. Billions of Microbes
I’m walking through long rows of apple trees, all in blossom, pink and white abound. The grass between is ankle height, lush and liberally populated with white daisies. Lush, but recently topped. Had I been there a week earlier, I would have seen battalions of dandelions.

I am in Kilkenny, in the healthy heart of Highbank Orchards, an organic farm owned and managed by Rod and Julie Calder-Potts.  This is excellent land for farming, recognised as such for many centuries - even the Normans had their eyes on it.  The farm-yard is 17th century, the house is 19th, and the distillery (which I've come to see) is 21st.  

Rod in the new distillery
Now though, on a lovely May evening, all is calm as Rod takes us through the orchard, though not through all its twenty acres. Fourteen of these are mature, planted with quite a few varieties, including Dabinett, Blusher, Bramley and, scattered in among the others, that lovely juicy Katy. Katy is an early apple and has lost its blossoms.

Nothing has been sprayed here for twenty years. It is not that nothing ever threatens the apple trees but they are essentially healthy and can look after themselves. And Rod reckons much of that is down to the microbes in the soil, billions of them, all "working", not necessarily together - some eat one another - but combining to preserve the habitat. They are not disturbed, not traumatized by chemicals, and so the orchards live on and thrive. “Soil health depends on a thriving population of organisms”, says Dan Barber in The Third Plate.
Orchard spirit!
The next big occasion for the orchard is, of course, the harvest. The Calder-Potts keep the apples on the trees for as long as possible, indeed they allow them fall off naturally when fully ripe. Then they are swept up and taken to the nearby yard.

They are transferred then to the apple press, an expensive piece of kit, and the juice is extracted to be used in the delicious products that Highbank now produces: Apple Juice, Apple Juice with Organic Mulled Spices, their famous Orchard Syrup (Ireland's answer to maple syrup and launched in 2010), Highbank Drivers Cider (a delicious, sparkling refreshing non-alcoholic drink), Highbank Proper Cider, and a honeyed Medieval Cider.
Proper cider!
Recently they have moved up the ABV scale with the installation of their little distillery and are making Gins, Pink Flamingo Gin and the premium Crystal Gin. And there’ll be more! We enjoyed the tour of the bright new distillery. It is small. The operation is small-scale, bottling is done by hand. Small yes, but these are top class products.


Highbank is the setting for many events but most notably, from a food point of view, they have hosted the Keith Bohanna Bia Beag series with subjects such as artisan bread, locally roasted coffee, bean to bar chocolate. And, of course, there is the Highbank Christmas Food and Craft Fair.
They are a busy couple and you’ll see them at markets and food festivals all over the country, including most recently, Sheridan’s and Ballymaloe LitFest. Besides, they are involved in promoting good food generally. Kilkenny too is naturally close to their hearts and so we couldn't have had a better guide on a quick Saturday morning run through the marble city than Julie.

She showed us, with pride, restaurants such as Zuni and the Salt Yard, Slice of Heaven and its newly opened cookery school, the food hall at the Kilkenny Design Centre. Then you need something to serve your food in so off we went to Nicholas Mosse in Bennettsbridge, you need some nice lighting while dining and we got that at nearby Moth to a Flame (Larry Kinsella’s hand-made candles) and you also need something nice to look at on your walls and shelves and we found plenty of that at the Bridge Pottery.
Needless to say, the credit card took a bit of a hammering. On the previous afternoon, left to my own devices, I was on the drinks trail! Called to Billy Byrne’s Pub (the Bula Bus and its excellent onboard restaurant is parked in the back) and sipped some nice local beer by Ger Costello and a pale ale from 12 acres.

Of course, I couldn't leave Kilkenny without calling to Le Caveau. Pascal himself was busy on the road but we did take advantage of the reductions for Real Wine Month and went off happy with a couple of his organic wines.

And it was the drink that brought us to Kilkenny in the first place! In Highbank's internet competition earlier in the year, I won a meal at The Strawberry Tree and, in addition, I also won a bottle of Highbank's new Crystal Gin and that was in the car with us as we said au revoir to the Marble City and to two of its outstanding citizens, the Calder-Potts.
Le Caveau (left) and Bennettsbridge (from the Nicholas Mosse pottery)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Taste of the Week. Highbank Crystal Gin

Taste of the Week

Highbank Crystal Gin
This is unique in these parts, a superb Irish produced gin from the apples of Highbank Orchards, owned by Julie and Rod Calder-Potts. It has aromas of the orchard and, not surprisingly, there are also flavours of the orchard.

While most of the usual botanicals are used here, including the essential juniper and other regulars such as dried citrus skins, Highbank also use six botanicals from their organic Kilkenny farm, including lavender and blackcurrant.

Highbank begin, not with bought-in alcohol, but with their own alcohol produced from their own apples. On the next trip through the still, the smallest legal still in Ireland, the botanicals are added. It is small batch production and bottling is by hand.

Local wine merchant Pascal Rossignol (Le Caveau) is impressed: “Caresses your palate with a richness and smoothness of aromas and flavours very rare in spirits.” Couldn't have put it better myself, an unique Irish gin from the rocks of Kilkenny and our Taste of the Week comes in a gorgeous bottle as well.

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.




Monday, July 21, 2014

Superb Kale, and so much more, at Killavullen Market

Superb Kale at Killavullen Market
"Throw in a few beans, please!"

Delighted I made it to the Killavullen Farmers Market last Saturday. Brought the bags, as usual - no point in going to a market unless you bring bags - and filled them up.

A big welcome and lots of good things to eat and drink here. Rory and his Kildinan Farm organic stall caught the eye and not just because of his colourful vegetables (including yellow courgettes and black and yellow beans) but also because of his selection of great looking kale.
He had three types for sale but we eventually went for the Nero di Tuscano. Glad we did. It is terrific. Big dark leaves, beautiful texture and oh so very tasty.

We used the Kale and the beans (the black goes green, the yellow white, when cooked!) with a beautiful piece of hake from Yawl Bay Seafoods (enhanced with some of that amazing IASC seafood butter, of course!), a lovely dish.

By coincidence, I came across this recipe on Twitter this morning: Maple Drizzled Strawberry Kale Salad. What do you think? If you're doing it, why not use the Highbank Orchard Syrup.


The Killavullen market is held about twice each month in the Nano Nagle Centre  on the Mallow-Fermoy Road and it is appropriate that organic produce features highly. The centre’s mission now “is to promote a vision of eco spirituality” and it runs a 32 acre organic farm here. Directions to the centre and the market here.

Indeed, the Nano Nagle centre has its own stall in the market and here we got some very flavoursome organic tomatoes. All of the stalls are indoor, sheltered under a large polytunnel so the market is weather-proofed. Great idea.

Much to buy here. We got a few bars of the gorgeous Clonakilty Chocolate (including my Himalayan Salt favourite!) and  a lovely Spelt and Honey loaf from a well stocked bakery stall. And of course who could pass the Fermoy Natural Cheese stall? Not me. Enjoyed a lovely chat with Gudrun Shinnick as I sampled the cheese and bought some of her famous Cais Dubh and also some of the same cheese embedded with fenugreek seeds. She also has milk and kefir on sale here.

Fermoy Natural Cheese
A quote from the market site just to give you a better idea of what is available: The products available are numerous including local fresh organic vegetables and eggs, imported fruit and vegetables from small producers to complement the local, potatoes and preserves, award winning cheeses, apples and apple juice, bread and baking, flowers and plants, knits and crochet, jewellery and candles, natural soaps and organic essential oils, environmentally friendly cleaning products, personalised poetry and greeting cards, charity bookstall, recycled paper products and fair trade products available at tea and coffee stall. The market received a Cork Environmental Award in 2009.

Kathy and her skin care stall
Last Saturday was also a special Arts and Food Celebration so there was even more to enjoy, including a pottery-making stand where you, or at least the kids, could get hands-on experience.

We came across a vibrant looking herb stall on the way out and saw a pot of basil with smaller leaves than usual. If I remember rightly, it is a Greek basil. Correct name or not, it is now standing on the kitchen windowsill.

Peace on the Blackwater. The river flows by the Nano Nagle Centre
You can also have a cup of tea or coffee and some home baking, maybe before or after the market or perhaps after taking one of several walks through the centre. We did the Cosmic Walk and that took us past a very large and impressive sundial.

Then we strolled through the animal enclosures, a couple of donkeys grazing, two pigs poking in the dust with their snouts and grunting happily and a community of hens clucking. Down  a few steps then to a field where a curious calf stared back and a few minutes later we were on the peaceful banks of the lovely Blackwater. After the walk, it was back to the car and a quiet cross country drive through the drizzly hills as we returned to the city.

Sundial.


Friday, July 4, 2014

Art, Craft and Food Naturally at Ballymaloe

Art, Craft and Food Naturally at Ballymaloe
Palais de Poulets
Ballymaloe is a working farm, producing magic by the moment. I went through the looking glass last Wednesday and, in a few short hours, sampled this incredible place.

With Colm McCan as our guide, we passed the Palais des Poulets and stepped into a one acre bubble where all kinds of vegetables grow organically under the warm shelter. And so too do a selection of vines, though even the enthusiastic Colm knows that more magic will be needed if the fruit of these East Cork plants is to be turned into wine.

A fertile Allen imagination is at work in the calm warm place. One segment of the shelter has a newly laid carpet, of grass. Here later in the month, one hundred people will sit down for the Long Table Dinner, a night of fine food and conviviality.
Under cover clockwise from bottom left:
tomatoes, passionfruit flower, Colm with grapes,
and borage in the herb garden

Many tales illustrate the 30 year old story of Darina Allen’s Cookery School and we mingle with the students for lunch. The starter is pea soup. Sounds mundane enough. But it was excellent and the main course, with the Belly Bacon an outstanding feature, was incredibly delicious.

And the magic was sweetly evident on the dessert plate, emphasized by that natural cream from the Jersey cows, a memory of good times past but very much part of the present reality here in Ballymaloe, provided by six Jerseys that yield the milk for the table and for the students to make their butter, cheese and yoghurts.

Man does not live by bread alone, though I could think of a worse diet than that emanating from the Ballymaloe ovens. Colm now directed us to the gardens, starting with the herb garden, based on the legendary gardens of Villandry. May not have quite the scope of the Loire chateau but Ballymaloe has its surprises, including that unforgettable After Eight Mint (one of many varieties, including Banana and Orange).


Dinner. Check out that Jersey cream on the dessert plate!
Soon we were into the herbaceous border, a magnificent example of the type, and heading for the  Shell House, hardly a house, just a very small building but unforgettable. Here, some 20,000 shells have been artistically arranged (by Blott Kerr Wilson in 1995). You'll never look at mussel shells or scallop shells in the same way again. The gardens and shell house are open to the public and there is a charge.

Back in the main house, built around the remains of a 15th century Fitzgerald castle, part of which still stands, we went down to the wine cellar in the rock on which the buildings stand. Here lay treasure! Colm handled some of the great wines of the world with care and, like a good Corkman, I just looked, eyes and mouth open!

Time now for a reviving cup of coffee and where else would you go but to the tig beag, the roasting house of Mark and Golden Bean, right next to the well known wine and entertainment venue, the Grain Store. Mark was roasting a few kilograms of Ethiopian beans so we waited for the crack and soon we were sampling, via his AeroPress, the freshest coffee we had ever tasted. Mark, by the way, has a new outlet for his excellent coffee and soon you'll be able to buy and drink it at the Princes’ Street store, just opened (02/07/14), by The Rocket Man.
Mussel shells in small sample from Shell House

Now for a little cultural exercise, in the environs of the house and the field outfront. Colm introduced us to Richie Scott, the exhibition's coordinator. Richie would be our knowledgeable guide on the sculpture trail which features a walk into the middle of the cornfield to see some of the exhibits.

Richie first assembled FORM for Mount Juliet last year and now this revised version will be in Ballymaloe until September 28th. There is something for everyone here: some humorous pieces, some severe, large scale pieces and small, abstract and figurative. You may not like every piece but do bring the kids and let them loose; take your time as you walk around and let your eye wander and allow the magic in.

My favourite, in this first walkabout, was perhaps Holger Lonze, especially The Large Seabird. Enjoyed too the quirky pieces, mainly in Kilkenny Limestone, by Eileen McDonagh. And what about that stranded surfboard, high and dry at the base of the big tree? Go see for yourself. No charge.

Almost ready. Mark checks a roast.
After quite a packed few hours it was time to say goodbye. But we’ll soon be back. Already the first date is confirmed. On Thursday, 24th July, at 7.00pm, a Krug Champagne tasting with Nicole Burke, Krug USA Brand Ambassador, will be held in the Ballymaloe Cookery School (note venue). Contact colm@ballymaloe.ie for further details and bookings.

And all that magic? Probably the usual formula: 5% inspiration, 95% perspiration.

Some upcoming Ballymaloe events
Ballymaloe Garden Festival, August 30th and 31st. www.ballymaloe.ie
Feel Good Food: Let’s Cook, one day course with Chef and Nutritionist Debbie Shaw at the Cookery School, Monday July 21st. www.cookingisfun.ie
Master It with Rory O’Connell, Two Day Course which sees Rory teaching a slection from his book. Wednesday Jul;y 30th to Friday Augist 1st.  www.cookingisfun.ie

On the FORM trail.