Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Euro-toques Day Out. From Wood to Waterfall

Euro-toques Day Out
From Wood to Waterfall
Under the waterfall at Greene's: Pam, Kate, Christine.
From foggy morning to sunny afternoon, the Munster contingent of Euro-toques enjoyed their day out last Monday. That foggy morning was spent foraging mushrooms in a North Cork wood while the afternoon saw the chefs and guests tuck into a gorgeous late lunch in Greene’s by the Waterfall. Greene's head chef Bryan McCarthy put the day’s package together with a huge input from Mark and Lucy of Ballyhoura Mushrooms and sponsorship by Wines Direct and La Rousse Foods.
In the wood
It was quite an education in the woods and we all agreed you’d need more than one outing with an expert before trusting yourself in the mushroom field. Lots to take in as Mark and Lucy shared their in-depth knowledge.

“Chanterelles can't be cultivated, they are symbiotic. They grow from May to the first frost, have a sweet seafoody flavour and an apricot aroma when fresh. They have a solid stem. The false chanterelle has a hollow one. There are also autumn chanterelles, including a black one one called the Horn of Plenty, found in areas of pine, with a lovely woody flavour, our favourite!”.
In the wood (2): Caroline takes the higher ground;
Fionnula relaxes with her bag of food.
Bottom: "This one stinks!" (right)
and Gautham searching in the fog.
Note the polypores on the tree
on the left.
“Ceps are found near mature beech trees, When they are young they are snow white with a natural umami flavour, great texture and very versatile as regards use.” But maybe not as versatile as the Birch polypore which, when dried out, can be used to sharpen your kitchen knives!

Much more to be found out as the bus load of mostly amateurs spread out among the trees, watching out for branches springing back, muddy patches, cow pats, slippery slopes, briars, even barbed wire here and there. Still, despite a few minor tumbles, it turned out to be a terrific morning in the old deciduous wood and quite a few baskets were filled.
Cured organic Deenish Island Salmon
Back to the bus then and we arrived in Greene's in mid-afternoon sun be be greeted with cool glasses of La Contesse spumante.  Fionnula Harkin of Wines Direct, introduced us to Francesca of Le Contesse who told us about the family run vineyard, how the grapes are handpicked and that quality and consistency are prime considerations. Fionnula emphasised that this is the kind of vineyard that Wines Direct deals with, “family run vineyards, nothing industrial”.

Ross Lewis from Chapter One, a senior member of Euro-toques, then spoke. “Ireland has some of the best primary produce in the world. And Euro-toques is one big food family, passionately engaged with artisans. As the artisan movement gets stronger and stronger, Ireland's food will have its day in the sun.” He reported that tourists in his own restaurant are overwhelmingly positive about their experiences of Irish food.

Seared Wild Irish Venison Haunch Fillet
wine: Luc Lapeyre Les Clots (Languedoc)
And then it was time to sample some of that food. We had some beautiful nibbles by the waterfall in the sun before moving indoors to continue enjoying the produce of Ballyhoura Mushrooms, Wines Direct, Caroline Robinson Organic Vegetables, Kilbrack Farm, La Rousse Foods, Ummera, Jack McCarthy, Waterfall Farms, and Arbutus Breads. Greene’s chefs, like their Euro-toques colleagues nationwide are, as Ross Lewis said, “passionately engaged with artisans”. And this meal brilliantly underlined it!

  • If you spot your favourite chef sprouting a moustache this month and next, he’s more than likely doing it for charity, all in aid of Movember who raise awareness and funds for prostrate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s health. Don’t leave it all to the chefs!
Poached Garden Pear & Wild Foraged Blackberry
wine: Le Contesse Pinot Rose.

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