When the newly married Edward and Colette Twomey took over a Clonakilty butcher shop in the late 70s, blackpudding was not really one of the attractions for them. But the deal did include a secret spice recipe and the Twomeys soon realised that the pudding was very popular with their customers and quite a few of them were sending it to relatives abroad. The couple were wise enough not to ignore the market and the rest is history.
All this came back during A Taste of West Cork event in the company’s impressive new facility in their home town. The two of us and a few dozen other paying guests were given a tour of the new visitor centre before being treated to a series of blackpudding based dishes by top chef Peter Clifford.
|Chef Peter Clifford|
Why Peter Clifford? Well Peter’s father, Michael, was one of Ireland’s most famous chefs, holder of a Michelin star, and an early and influential supporter of the Clonakilty product. Both Peter and Colette acknowledge that his signature dish of black pudding elevated the humble breakfast staple to being acclaimed as an excellent starter.
|The new Veggie pudding in a salad with Serrano, pomegranate, and sherry dressing.|
Tragically, Michael died at the age of 54 when Peter was in his mid-teens. Tragedy too for the Twomeys when Edward passed in 2005; at least he had seen and enjoyed the success, a success that would be driven even further by his widow, the only holder of that secret spice mix recipe.
|Colette (left), Peter and Deirdre Clifford, with picture of the late Michael.|
Pic courtesy of A Taste of West Cork.
|The digitised butcher ready to chat|
There is even a spice mixer on display in the inter-active visitor centre, which is not quite completed at present but getting very close indeed. And here too you may find out about Johanna O’Brien, the 19th century compiler of that magic mix! It was passed down through generations of the butcher shop owners. The original butchers were Harringtons and so the recipe was named after them.
You will also meet the digitised versions too of the butcher and the grocer and hear employees talk of their experiences with the firm. By the way, that Twomey’s shop on main street is still going strong and well worth a visit and while you’re there be sure and check out the other company products such as rashers and sausages.
Colette, chief executive and co-founder of the host company, told us that Michael Clifford grew up in Clon. “He had a great passion for food and saw the potential in the black pudding and passed that on to us.” Peter's family, including Michael’s widow Deirdre, were at the event and Colette presented them with a framed portrait of Michael.
|The new Veggie Pudding, now in the shops|
Peter too enjoys cooking the black pudding and went on to demonstrate five dishes including the Gateau of Clonakilty Blackpudding, his father’s special. Other dishes, and we got generous tastings of the five, included Celeriac and Pear Soup with Blackpudding, A Clonakilty Veggie Pudding salad with Serrano Ham, pomegranates and sherry (PX no less!) dressing, Clonakilty Whitepudding with a stew of wild rice, pearl barley and wild mushrooms and also a Clonakilty Blackpudding on toast with butter beans and apple.
|More on Peter here |
That Veggie Pudding may surprise you as you may not have heard of it. It was launched just the previous Monday (September 8th). Peter gave it quite an endorsement and said he loved the spice element in it. It may be used in much the same way as the others, certainly substituted for the whitepudding. No shortage of recipes on the website, for breakfast, lunch, dinner and parties. Please click here.