Showing posts with label smoked salmon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label smoked salmon. Show all posts

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Taste of the Week. Old Millbank Salmon Paté

Taste of the Week
Old Millbank Salmon Paté


Geraldine Bass is a regular at the local farmers markets here in Cork and her Old Millbank Salmon Paté is our Taste of the Week. You’ll certainly see her stall in Mahon Point (Thursdays) and Douglas (Saturdays).


The paté - you can get a nice little pot of it for four euro - comes two ways. The original is in a very tasty creamy paste, ideal for spreading on canapes or, if in  a hurry, spooning! And now there is a variation. She adds little chunks of her salmon to it, giving an extra twist to the texture and the flavour (see photo above). Either way, it’s delicious.


Geraldine also sells her award winning smoked salmon to restaurants and delicatessens.


Old Mill Bank Smoke House, Willow Pond, Summer Park, Buttevant, Co. Cork.
It’s between Mallow and Buttevant, so sometimes you’ll see Mallow in the address.

Email:
bass3@indigo.ie
Phone:
+353 22 23299

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mr Hederman smokes fish. The Touch of a Master

Frank Hederman. Master of Balance.
Mr Hederman smokes fish, which is a little like saying Steinway makes pianos. (Johnny Apple, New York Times).



There is a fine balance to smoking fish, according to Frank Hederman who has been doing it in Belvelly, Cobh, for over thirty years now. The balance between the original fish flavour, the salt (for the cure) and the smoke is achieved with some delicate handling and determined by the experienced touch of the smoker. Time, timing and touch.
The touch and timing improve with time. I remember a member of the 60s pop band, the Searchers, telling a guitarist friend of mine maybe 15 years back that they were now much better musicians than they had been when they were in the charts. I suggested to Frank that he was now a better smoker than he was 30 years ago.

He laughed and agreed and amid an aside or two, one about the above mentioned Mr Apple,  told me he was self-taught and even now learns something new everyday.  

This is a busy smokehouse. “There is something going on here in this smokehouse every day of the week”, he said. And no wonder, as they have customers at home and abroad to take care of. Frank is “the smoker of choice for some of the world’s finest chefs and has also smoked salmon for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II”.



Wild fish, and Frank is looking forward to getting some wild salmon soon, have to be handled with even more delicacy than normal. Any fisherman supplying Frank will need to know and love his fish and not just the money he can make from it. Early in his career, Frank saw a fisherman roughly lobbing salmon up from the boat, well below the level of the pier, on to the rough ground. The fish don't go down well and the act didn't go down well with Frank who never bought from him again.

The original smoker. Use the boot (right) for an idea of scale.

Frank’s timber smokehouse, the oldest traditional smokehouse in Ireland, is where the sides of salmon are hung on tenterhooks and bathed in natural smoke “for as long as they need”. The smoke comes from beech “which has fewer tannins than other woods, giving the salmon a distinctive delicate character”.

Frank likes to see his salmon handled well, both before it comes to him and after it leaves him. “We recommend that you allow it to come to room temperature before you eat it. Slice finely by cutting straight down to the skin with a very sharp knife.” And whatever you do, do not use lemon. “No lemon!”.

Frank is well entitled to lay down the law here. His experience is immense, yet there is no complacency and even now nothing is left to chance. He is always on the alert. A change in the outside atmosphere can upset the delicate balance sought inside. Will it rain soon? Does that smoke smell too strong?

He recalls how he started, by rebuilding an old shed, not quite according to the textbook, not all parallels were parallel. And here it all started, in a small smoker made of brick, the fish laid in a Pyrex dish. He used barrels from Midleton Distillery (50 pence a barrel) for chips and fed them in by hand “for hours on end”. The timber was soaked in alcohol and every now and then there was an explosion and the Pyrex dish came flying out the opening until a simple slat was attached.

Cheese and tomatoes in the smoker.
It was rough and ready. “I was daft and mad”, he laughs. But he went on to build Ireland's first modular fish plant and the rest is history.

Hederman's also smoke silver eel, mackerel, haddock and mussels and in the kitchen “simple recipes are transformed with the finest smoked fish, and other local specialities, including Ballycotton Irish queens, smoked Glenstal country butter, stoneground pinhead oatmeal from Macroom, and Ballintubber Farm vegetables. We make everything by hand, within reason, and use only natural preservatives such as lemon juice.”

Thanks to Frank and Caroline, you may enjoy Smoked Salmon Crush & Smoked Mackerel Crush; Smoked Salmon and Mackerel Pate; Poached Salmon & Crab salad with Marie Rose; Mrs. Hederman Smoked Fish Cakes; Smoked Tomato Tapenade; and much more. Check it out here .

These products are only available in local markets. Hederman’s have three stalls, in Midleton, Cobh (run by Frank’s amazing 83 year old Dad) and of course in the English Market (where their space is soon to be revamped).
Smoked Mackerel on a Hederman stall in Midleton.
Frank says Mackerel is the most under-rated fish.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Three Clare champions at Ballymaloe

Three Clare champions at Ballymaloe

Birgitta

Fit for a queen
Met three champions from Clare at Ballymaloe last evening. The first, Skillogalee founder Dave Palmer, comes for the Clare Valley in Australia, while the other two, Birgitta Curtin of the Burren Smokehouse and Siobhan Ni Ghairbhith of St Tola, come from our own County Clare, after which the Australian valley is named. It was a promising line-up and they delivered big time.


Colm McCan of Ballymaloe greeted us all with a Skillogalee Sparkling Riesling. “A very unusual wine, only four or five are made in Oz,” said Dave. “It is light, dry and refreshing and aromatic. It is a properly made sparkler, bottle fermented and aged on its lees.” Great start.


Siobhan
Hard
Ash




Dave then took to the stage at the Grain Store to introduce his two whites for the evening: the Riesling 2011 and the Gewurztraminer 2011. “These are cold climate wines. We pick pristine fruit and try to preserve it all the way through”. These were matched with the soft goats cheeses and the smoked salmon. “Matches made in heaven,” according to Dave. “I think the lemon and lime flavours in the wine is one of the reasons.”

Next on the wine list was the Rosé (a Cabernet Malbec blend) 2011, a rosé “with attitude..brings out the summer berry characters”. Delightful all the way through from its initial beautiful strawberry bouquet.

Two Gold medal winning reds followed as the high standard was maintained: The Cabernets 2007 and the Shiraz 2008. Quality control is vital in Skillogalee and you won’t find The Cabernets 2008. They didn’t make it as the fruit wasn't good enough.

The reds were matched with the St Tola Hard Cheese, just three months old. Very good now, like Gouda, but Siobhan promised it will get better as it matures (more like Parmesan in the end).

Dave
Quite often, the language of wine maker and food producer is the same. They are one and all affected by factors outside their control including the obvious one of the weather. They are one and all dependent on their terroir. Siobhan knows that if she were to transport her 200 plus goats to an inland county that the cheese flavours would be different.

“We have a peaty soil near the Atlantic. The St Tola Log cheese is quite natural, a little fruity, hints of the peat and undertones of salt. The St Tola Ash is made in the same way but in smaller log and is rolled in a food grade charcoal to produce the Ash rim. The Ash makes it stand out on the cheeseboard and keeps it fresh.”

The hard cheese is weather dependent, made only in summer with surplus milk. In a good year, St Tola make it from May to July/August but this bad summer they were curtailed to making it from June to mid July.

It soon became obvious that you really need to know what you are doing with hard cheese. “Timing is very important. If done wrongly, it can even explode!” With its beautiful taste and texture and creaminess, it proved a great match for the Cabernets.

Just like Dave and Diane Palmer, Birgitta and Peter started their Clare business about 23 years ago. Now the Burren Smokehouse is internationally recognised and its products are stocked in speciality food shops in places such as London, US and Kuwait. They too set high standards and their excellence has been regularly recognised and many awards have come their way.

They love their location but even here there are challenges, like the scarcity of wild salmon. She told us the wild salmon is a little drier and the flavour lingers a little longer. They get theirs from a fisherman on the Nore and it ends up in the most unexpected places. Like the Queen’s table, for example. Last year, during the Queen's visit, Ross Lewis choose Burren Smokehouse Wild Salmon for the state banquet. Another honour for Birgitta and company!

Birgitta is Swedish and explained that hot smoking is prevalent in her home country while cold smoking is more common in Ireland. She showed a selection at Ballymaloe, including the Donegal Silver (fresh, sweet and full of Omega3) and the slightly paler Clare Island.

Her Hot Smoked Organic Salmon “is slightly spiced, fully cooked and more meaty.” Birgitta suggested it is a good way to get young people interested in smoked fish though she suspected that “the real fish eaters might prefer cold smoked”.

The Burren Smokehouse is quite a tourist attraction. “Some 30,000 people visit us each year, 10,000 of them from France. Please call in!”

A terrific entertaining and informative evening was drawing to a close but, with Dave Palmer on hand, there was to be a sweet ending, a tasting of the famous Skillogalee Liqueur Muscat, made like a Tawny Port, the fermentation stopped at the right point (the tricky part) leaving a 25% sugar content. Great nose and great flavours, not at all cloying and with a long lingering finale.

Thanks to Dave and Dianne Palmer, to Birgitta and Siobhan and indeed to Colm and all at Ballymaloe.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Excellent Lunch in Pat Shortt’s Bar

Pat Shortt’s Bar
Lunch in Castlemartyr

 It was just about lunch-time when we arrived in Pat Shortt’s Bar in Castlemartyr last Saturday. The place was packed inside. Luckily, there were seats in the outside area by the local river, the Kiltha, and so, for the second time in eight days, we dined al fresco in Ireland!

And we got good stuff. The starters were terrific. I got an ample helping of Bill Casey’s Oak Smoked Organic Salmon served on a lovely brown bread (€7.50). Bill is just down the road; chef Mike Hanrahan told me he collected the fish that morning. It tasted gorgeous, really impressed.


The local theme is strong here and was again well illustrated in CL’s starter: Ardsallagh Goat’s Cheese, black pudding, and pear salad, served on a bed of leaves with roast peppers and Ballymaloe Relish (€6.50). A terrific well balanced combination of textures and tastes.

Had more than enough fries earlier in the week so had to give D’Unbelievable Burger a miss. Settled instead for the Chicken and Chorizo penne pasta in a tomato and herb sauce (€10.75). Quite a bit of chicken and it was first class, the real thing, and the sauce was brilliant and gave the dish a nice lift.


Polished it off in the sun and then crossed the road to the Village Greengrocer where Shortt’s get their veg. Just a few yards up is Clifford’s, his butcher. It was a busy afternoon but soon everything stopped as dozens and dozens of motorbikes came through the village. It was the members of the Gold Wing Treffen driving their bikes from Cobh to Youghal. Just another talking point on a terrific day in the East Cork area. 


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

GOURMET RAINBOW AT END OF BOREEN


GOURMET RAINBOW AT END OF BOREEN
Anthony Creswell with his 2010 UK Great Taste Gold and newly delivered salmon being processed.

On a boreen at the back of Timoleague, the back if we agree the front faces the estuary, there is a fork and if you take the left, even before you take the left, you will see a modest timber building below you.

It looks like a big hut but this is a state of the art smoke house and is the home of multi-award winning Ummera. Some of the awards are displayed outside. I had a guide here last week, none other than the owner Anthony Creswell.

Not only is this building a state of the art organic smoke house, it is also a highly efficient production unit, very streamlined indeed with the raw material arriving at one door and the tasty finished products leaving at the other end.

On the day I arrived, a delivery of salmon from Clew Bay had been made. The ice-packed boxes were being opened and the salmon, all individually tagged, were being filleted in preparation for the smoking. At the end is the packing and the dispatch, a room from which these high class products are sent to destinations all over the world.

The much sought after Ummera Smoked Products include Smoked Organic Salmon, Organic Gravadlax, Smoked Eel, Smoked Chicken, Smoked Duck and Smoked Dry Cured Bacon and are available at a range of outlets in Ireland. Sea Salt from Portugal and Raw Cane Sugar (Organic) from Costa Rica are used in the process but no artificial preservatives.

Ummera products have even ended up in Hawaii but they are also appreciated locally and indeed I enjoyed a gorgeous plateful of them in Dillon’s Restaurant (highly recommended) in Timoleague village before meeting Anthony.

Aside from being a very efficient “production line”, the smoke house is also extremely environmentally friendly. There are armies of worms working out the back in the vermi-composting unit set up to dispose of production waste and the site has a natural wetland for water waste.

The business goes back to the early 70s but this new house was built in 2000 and modified in 2004 to meet the demanding standards required by the Irish Government and the EU for the export of meat and poultry products. This enabled Ummera Smoked Chicken and Smoked Dry Cured Bacon to be exported throughout the EU in compliance to EU regulations. The Ummera Smoke house is the only one in Ireland licensed to smoke both fish and meat (including poultry).

Check out all the fascinating details here. http://www.ummera.com/

Sunday, January 2, 2011

TOP IRISH CHEESES

HAPPY NEW CHEESE

So many Irish cheeses around these days, you could buy a different one for each and every day of 2011.

Started on the local track, not that I ever strayed too far off it, at our New