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Ortus has spiced up the dining scene in Bandon since its arrival on St Patrick’s Quay earlier this year. They started in February and were fully into their stride by April.
Though there is quite a bit on Tripadvisor, I hadn't heard anything about it until a week ago. I was in Bandon for the Frank Krawczyk eventat the weekend and, afterwards, strolled over to Patrick's Quay for dinner.
Pretty good menu there, fish from Baltimore, beef from a local butcher, and it took us a few minutes to study it. First up, we got a basket of tasty bread along with some even tastier hummus. And then came a delightful amuse bouche of foccacia bread topped with cheese and vegetables.
Soon our starters were served, looking well, all at the right temperature. One was the Crunchy Goats Cheese with aubergine, and paprika relish, mixed leaves and balsamic dressing (8.25), the other Pulled Pork with Gubbeen fritters and a garlic mayo (7.75). Both were excellent and each had a little touch of spice that seems to feature, in a rather pleasant way, across the menu.
Now we were really looking forward to the main courses and we would not be disappointed. My pick was the Crispy Lamb cutlets that came with a mildly spicy Ras el Hanout and a delicious confit of Mediterranean vegetables, a lively flavoured dish with a great mix of textures and flavours, the vegetables playing quite a role here, adding hugely to the pleasure of eating this one (18.50).
Our other main course was Slow roasted spicy pork belly with tomatoes and roast potatoes, also some mashed potatoes on the side (18.50). The pork was beautifully cooked, so tender and tasty, and the spice brought it to a different level.
So you add all those up and you get a terrific meal, served with a calm courtesy. If you add them up in a different way, you see they come to €53.00. But because they all qualified for the Early Bird Menu (up to 7.00pm on the Saturday night), we paid only €35.00 for the two courses. So there you are, good food and good value at Ortus.
So said Avril Allshire during our recent visit to the Rosscarbery farm that she runs with husband Willie and their two sons William and Maurice. The small farm is home to two related enterprises: Caherbeg Free Range Pork and Rosscarbery Recipes. It is also the place where the young sons practice on their racing quads!
“Every little mouthful should be savoured,” she continued. “None of us can afford to gorge ourselves, we can't afford to waste meat.”
Pork Fruit Cake. Secret Recipe!
Avril was talking to me in her own home, surrounded by shelves and shelves of books, many of them food related. No surprise either to see that she is a big fan of Joanna Blythman, the English writer who constantly exposes the con-men of the big-food world and who will again appear at the 2015 Ballymaloe Lit-Fest next month.
Avril could well write a recipe book herself. She agreed with me that food producers should provide recipes to customers but only if they have something new to add.
She certainly has and you’ll see quite a few of them on her Rosscarbery Recipes blog. But there is one that she won't be publishing, won't be sharing! As we spoke we were treated to a slice of what looked like a normal fruit cake.
Spots (left) and Timmy
As we began to enjoy it, she revealed that it had “no eggs, no dairy”. She named this delicious creation, an exclusive one, Pork Fruit Cake, as one of the important ingredients is, believe it or not, sausage meat! “It is an alternative to Christmas Cake, may well have been a forerunner of Christmas cake.”
Later, at lunch, she served us her Black Pudding lasagna, another of her originals, a flavoursome echo perhaps of the time when there were no convenience shops, maybe also a shortage of cash, and people had to use what was close at hand, what was in the cupboard. And indeed there was another echo of those days in her answer to the question What is your own favourite? “Depends on the humour,” she laughed. “But I’ll use whatever is in the house.”
“Has the success of any particular product surprised you?”, I asked.
“Yes, I have been surprised by the success of the black pudding, by the variety of people that like it, the young and the old alike. Eastern European peoples quite like it too. It is quite low in fat and useful for a variety of dishes.”
Husband Willie drove the rest of the family to the brink of frustration during the long 15 months he (and they) spent developing their black pudding, developing it to his and their satisfaction. But the passion paid off in a big way and the pudding has won a string of awards, mostly gold, in Ireland, the UK, Belgium and notably in France. “How do you know you have a good one?”, I queried. “The acid test,” she replied, “is to cut a sliver and eat it at room temperature.”
We discussed trends in the business.”Six or seven years ago, you could not give away belly of pork. Then the recession hit and everybody wanted it. The Caherbeg herd is quite small. We have limited numbers and not that much belly and so the Celtic Ross have exclusivity on our belly.” We had enjoyed that special dish in the local hotel the previous evening and it is worth travelling for!
Then it was time to take a tour of the free range pigs (a mixture of breeds including Gloucester Old Spot, Tamworth and Kune-Kune) and we met some of the main characters including Spots, the mammy of many of them, and Timmy, the daddy. Pigs are not the only animals here. We met the dog and some of the five cats. And also Maa-aa, the growing lamb that they adopted from a neighbouring farm after its mother had rejected it. Maa-aa has been given a job! She'll be keeping the grass and weeds in control in their orchard! Two legs or four, you have to pull your weight in Caherbeg!
Read more about Caherbeg Free-Range Pork and Rosscarbery Recipes here
Truly Irish have unveiled their latest marketing campaign with the addition of this clever billboard which is situated on the Dublin Road between Exit 14 and 15 close to Newbridge.
Truly Irish were frustrated from all the mislabelling and confusing names on pork and bacon products as other brands were giving the impression they were Irish. As a result of this, a farmer co-op was formed with producers in every county coming together to make a stand. The Irish pig industry supports over 8,000 Irish jobs.
The billboard was erected to highlight the importance of buying Irish and not what ‘appears’ to be Irish. The model is pictured pulling back her Irish flag to reveal she is in fact of Spanish and Dutch origin, something which occurs too often unknown to Irish consumers.
“Choose Truly Irish, we guarantee you won’t get caught out” is the slogan used and which they stand by with 100% traceability on all Truly Irish products. Truly Irish will be one of the first companies in the world to offer DNA traceability continuing their fight against the mislabeling of pork and bacon products which is badly affecting the Irish pig industry.
Truly Irish offers premium products which are 100% Irish, locally produced and traceable from the farm. Truly Irish are very thankful to all their retailers for their continued support to Irish farmers and The Truly Irish brand who have just announced the following new listings; Dunnes: Pork Goujons, Gammon steaks, Beechwood Smoked Back Bacon, Cocktail sausages and Gluten Free sausages and Tesco: Pork Goujons and Roasting Back Bacon Joint with 25% less salt.
Truly Irish, the brand with its own quality mark, their logo, was featured on The Business Show with George Lee on RTE1 recently. George commended the brand for what was achieved in their three short years of business and announced their plans of entering the UK market.
The above is a press release from the Truly Irish Group http://www.trulyirish.ie . Just received the latest newsletter from Avril of Rosscarbery Recipes and Caherbeg Free Range Porkhttp://www.caherbegfreerangepork.ie/ and she too has much to say about labeling and also covers food events in West Cork.