Showing posts with label Caherbeg Pork. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Caherbeg Pork. Show all posts

Monday, February 11, 2019

Barnabrow and Chef Bowes Rise to the Occasion. Again!


Barnabrow and Chef Bowes Rise to the Occasion. Again!
Skeaghanore Duck

The Gourmet Evening at Barnabrow House is becoming quite an occasion in East Cork and once again Geraldine Kidd’s charming venue and the skills of Chef Stuart Bowes combined to give us an evening to remember. 

Donie O’Brien of ENO had a selection of wines to be proud of and very enjoyable they were. And the occasion was further enhanced by music from the violin duo of Áine O’Halloran and Teresa Foley (known as Violini).

We began with a Cava and Canapé reception. As the glasses sparkled and the music played, there was time for a chat before entering the dining room proper. Quite a few of you will know this room as it is here they hold their well-known wedding meals. With its pointed gothic windows and high vaulted ceiling, it has a church like interior though the seating is more comfortable!

Cahermore Pork
More organic Cava at the table as the amazing Bouillabaisse was served. We had to do a bit ourselves as the Hegarty’s cheese came in little shreds on a side plate. Just added those to the soup and the magic happened as they complemented one another superbly, not to mention that rouille and the chefs top notch sourdough.

The Ballotine was just superb, again that match with the fig and the cinnamon spiced bread so really spot on. And the young slightly oaked Rioja was an easy drinking accompaniment. That high standard continued through the remaining courses. And again it was often the “little things” that enhanced the dish, like the Golden Raisin and Wild Garlic cream with the superb Duck Breast, even the tasty base on which the petit fours were served. 

Stuart Bowes had flagged that duck in his wee speech to the guests, proud to use produce such as Caherbeg and Skeaghanore, insisting on the importance of “local” and “using what’s on your doorstep”. “We are excited to do this, this quiet time of the year.”

Geraldine Kidd, now in her 23rd year here, is obviously proud of Stuart’s contribution over the past seven years and has battled to hold on to him against quite a few “poachers”! She was thrilled that word of these occasional gourmet evenings has spread beyond the Cork borders as she welcomed guests from Dublin and Clare.

Donie O’Brien and his ENO wines are regulars here and he was very proud of the organic Cava by Pares Balta that we started with. He loves Baron de Ley too, the producer of the Rioja. “They don’t buy in grapes, use all their own, a guarantee of quality”.
Turbot

I must say that the Pouilly Fumé was gorgeous. Richly flavoured with tropical fruit and with a “concentrated minerality”. This was followed by another beauty, the Ribera del Duero, another organic wine. “It is 100% Tempranillo, 8 months in new oak, vanilla..aromatic, clean and fresh and will be great with the duck!” And so it was.

Violini stayed with us for the evening. They are classically trained and stylistically versatile. “We play movie soundtracks, pop and rock songs, big band jazz, latin, blues, and the best loved Classical music.”  If you want music for events in hotels, manors, castles, concert halls, or for special occasions big and small, contact them out at violinicork.ie@gmail.com, also at 087 779 5031.

Dessert

The Menu and Wines
Bouillabaisse with Hegarty’s Cheddar, Rouille, Country Sourdough.
Cava Pares Balta organic

Ballotine of Caherbeg Free Range Ham Hock and chicken, fig, watercress, Pain D’Epices
Baron de Ley Club Privado Rioja 2016

Irish Atlantic Turbot, Pearl Barley, Gremolata, Pickled Ballyhoura Mushrooms, Chicken Essence
Chatelain Pouilly Fumé Abbaye St Laurent 2016

Roast Skeaghanore Duck Breast, Polenta, Savoy Parcel with Confit leg, Golden Raisins & Wild Garlic Cream
Camino Romano Ribera del Duero Pares Balta Organic

Iced Nougat Parfait, Apricots, Rhubarb, Archers
Chateau Caillou Sauternes 2007.

Maher’s Coffee, Barry’s Tea, Petit Fours.

Head Chef: Stuart Bowes, Sous Chef: Adrian Kaszynski.
Wines: Donie O’Brien ENO.

If you missed out on the Gourmet Evening, you can still try Stuart’s cooking and the marvellous produce (both from his producers and the Barnabrow walled garden) during Sunday lunch at Barnabrow. See the menu here
Sweet dreams
Morning walk

Monday, April 27, 2015

Treat Meat With Respect. Talking to Avril Allshire-Howe

Treat Meat With Respect
Talking to Avril Allshire-Howe


Avril, and books!
“Meat should be treated with respect.”

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.”

Awards galore
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
Rosscarbery Recipes Website: http://www.rosscarberyrecipes.ie
Rosscarbery Recipes blog: http://rosscarberyrecipes.blogspot.ie
Caherbeg Free Range Pork website: http://www.caherbegfreerangepork.ie


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Islands in the Sun. Ferries and Food in West Cork

Islands in the Sun
Ferries and Food in West Cork
 It was sunshine all the way for last week's two day excursion to West Cork. It looks as if there is no shortage of sunshine this week either.


Once we knew the weather was “settled” we determined to re-visit two islands, Garnish near Glengarriff and Sherkin near Baltimore. West Cork of course has many more islands and most have a ferry service. Check here for island and ferry details and do look out also for the Ten Island Tour.

Our base was the Celtic Ross in Rosscarbery but Garnish was our first destination so we took the R585 via Crookstown and headed off down on the old Bantry line. On reaching Kealkil, where our road joins the R584 from Macroom, we felt the need for a quick pit-stop as we did have a specific time for the boat from Glengarriff.


Italian Garden on Garnish
At the junction we spotted a board saying Cully & Sully Soup and Brown Bread for three euro. The Gala shop, also the Post Office, is right there and, within minutes, on the seats outside, we were tucking in to a tasty lunch, great value too.

On then to Glengarriff where we caught the ferry (€10.00) from the Blue Pool to Garnish. But first there were a couple of stops to see the many seals basking on the rocks around Seal Island. Lots of close-ups taken!

Garnish (€4.00 entrance) is an amazing mixture of gardens, arboretums, clock tower, Italianate buildings, even a Martello tower and will look even better in the weeks and months ahead as the trees, shrubs and flowers put on their summer show. Great views too over the bay and mountains.
Dessert at the Clonakilty Hotel
Back then on the ferry, and again a stop, this to say goodbye to the seals. Next call was to Manning's Emporium for a cool drink and a chat with Andrew. Manning’s will of course feed you, and feed you well, but we had a dinner date that evening. Soon we were making our way through Bantry and Skibbereen and then we got a lovely warm welcome as we checked into the spick and span Celtic Ross.

That evening’s dinner was in the restaurant of the Clonakilty Hotel, very enjoyable too. Afterwards we spent a hour or so in the Celtic Ross bar sipping a pint or two of Franciscan Well’s Rebel Red, available on draught.

After a hearty breakfast we were off on another island trip, making the short journey to Baltimore to connect with the ferry (€10.00) to Sherkin Island. We thought we'd be the only passengers until a large bus parked up and some forty Italian students joined us. You’d be hard pressed to find a more well mannered, well behaved bunch.
Horses graze on Sherkin.
 Like Garnish, Sherkin is noted for its peace and quiet. Some good walks too that we enjoyed though again the place will look better in a month or so when the fuchsias are in full bloom. We made our way back towards the ferry point as lunch time approached and called up to the nearby Islander’s Rest where we got one (well two) of the best fish and chips ever. Hake was used and it was so well cooked.


I don't know how many of you know about the pirate raid on Baltimore by Algerian pirates in June 1631 when 107 locals were taken away to be sold into slavery and never seen again. You can read all about it and indeed see some artifacts of the time in the newly restored Baltimore Castle (also known as Dún na Séad). More history too in this recently restored building that started life in the 13th century. An interesting visit (€4.00) and from the top you get terrific views over the town and the harbour.


Beach on Sherkin
Off then towards Rosscarbery again, this time via the villages of Glandore and Union Hall (where you see from the memorial to those drowned at sea that it isn't always as nice as it had been to us these two sunny days).

Dinner that evening was taken in the hotel dining room. With chefs of the calibre of Graeme Campbell and Alex Petit, we were expecting good things and that’s exactly what we got. The highlight was my main course of local pork belly served with a White Bean and Chorizo cassoulet. The pork comes from the Allshire’s nearby and is only available here. Well worth a detour.


Fish & Chips at Islander's Rest
 Indeed, our final visit on the following day was to Caherbeg to see the free-range pigs and have a chat with Avril about her busy life in food. It turned out to be a lovely visit, memorable for many things, including a lunch of her special Black-pudding lasagna! And the sun was still shining as we headed east and back to the city.
Somebody's shopping arriving on Sherkin!