Showing posts with label Clonakilty Chocolate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Clonakilty Chocolate. Show all posts

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Clonakilty Chocolate. All my changes were there

Clonakilty Chocolate
All my changes were there
In Neil Young’s song “Helpless” you hear this line: All my changes were there. He was referring to his hometown in Ontario, Canada. Allison Roberts is also from Ontario and naturally enough had some moulding there.

One that would last came as a result of her following up an ad in a local shop window for a chocolate making course. That skill didn't bring her to Clonakilty but it was a major factor in her staying in West Cork where she now makes delicious Fairtrade chocolate in a room at the back of her house on a hill overlooking the town.

That early course saw the 12 year old invest in a set of moulds, including a turtle. And for “years and years, at Easter and at Christmas, I made mypocket money by making and selling chocolate”.

Growing up and attending university, she began to realise the negative impact of globalisation and was “always inclined” to Fairtrade. Years later, after traveling and stints living in Taiwan and Australia, she arrived in West Cork for “a six months stay”.

And, of course, one of the first things she saw were the signs on the way in to Clon declaring it to be Ireland's first Fairtrade town. It was a sign in more ways than one. And then there was another, more practical, sign that would lead to that six months going on and on. A local shop was looking for local chocolate. Allison sent home for the moulds, including that turtle, and went to work.

And there was yet another hook to the local community. An older lady recruited the Canadian to the Fairtrade Committee and now Allison is the group's treasurer. “There are lots of ways of doing Fairtrade,” she says. “Start by buying from the local farmers.”

“I like local but cocoa is faraway. Be aware of where your stuff comes from. All mine comes from Africa.” Indeed, it all comes from a group of farmers in Ghana, the Kuapa Kokoo Fairtrade Farming Co-operative. Allison visited there in 2013 as a representative of Fairtrade Ireland and you can read and see all about it here.

During our recent visit, we were nibbling away at all kinds of bits and pieces of chocolate as we spoke. “West Cork and the people in it have a magnetic energy, I soon realized I had found my home and in 2010, after seeking out local blessings, my traveling chocolate business was named Clonakilty Chocolate.”
The chocolate is made in a large back room in the house that Allison and Justin share and where baby Ari is the most recent chocolate loving addition. He was very quiet during our visit and Allison said it's great to be able to work at home and keep an an eye on her son.

She has two employees now. Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays are production days. Thursdays are spent bagging and labelling while Fridays see her at the local market. If you visit Clon on a Friday, be sure and check out the market and you’ll see Allison and her bike which she uses both for transport and display.

You can buy the chocolates at the markets, in many shops in the town, in Cork city and in quite a few places around the country. See the full range of stockists here.

Allison would love to get her bars and treats into other markets but obviously can’t cover them all herself. So if you have a suitable established stall, perhaps selling other similar products, why not get in touch via the website contacts. If you’d like to buy and there is no stockist near you, then check out the online shop - it includes a Choco-Lovers Club!
As well as the beans from Ghana, she also uses milk. She can get powdered cows milk in Ireland but has to import the goats milk equivalent from Holland.

The Goats Milk bar (So Milky Milk) is one of my favourites and I was surprised to hear her say that it is “controversial”, in the sense that people are either for it or against it. Luckily though, the majority love it! She is also “super delighted that the 100% bar pure Cocoa Bar is going really well, even if it's not the best seller”.

What is her own favorite? “That varies from time to time. At the moment it is the Chai.” She could well be selling a lot of these bars in the months ahead as “it is the Christmas one”.

And there was a Christmas feel as we left the chocolate house - we finished off with some of her fresh truffles. Gorgeous!

  • And before we said goodbye, Allison had a word for a fellow local producer. She told us the Clonakilty Brewing Company was about to hit the market after Christmas.

    Watch out too for Allison herself as she features in a Christmas edition of Rachel Allen's Coastal Cooking. Musician Justin featured in the first!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Taste of the Week. So Milky Milk Chocolate

Taste of the Week

So Milky Milk Chocolate
One of the bonuses of visiting Clonakilty recently for A Taste of West Cork was the chance to meet chocolatier Allison Roberts at the tasting event in Spiller’s Lane. She was one of the local producers showing their wares and I stocked up on her chocolate bars, including the So Milky Milk bar, our Taste of the Week.

This has no “artificial anything” and is “Gluten free”. Aside from Cocoa, the other main ingredient is Coconut Blossom Syrup. And the milk is not from the cow but from the goat!

Clonakilty Chocolate is a Fairtrade operation, the beans coming to Clon from the farmers of Kokoo (Ghana). Even the wrapper is bio-degradeable. Eating it, the chocolate that is, will make you feel good in more ways than one!

Other bars include: Chai Chilli, 100% Cocoa, Decadent Dark, Wild West Salty, and Seriously Minted. The Salty and the Minted are also among my favourites but do sample and take your pick from a great choice.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

In Spiller’s Lane. Choc And Aah!

In Spiller’s Lane
Choc And Aah!
Allison, on her bike, with her Clonakilty Chocolate
Clonakilty hotels and restaurants were out in force as A Taste of West Cork festival kicked off in the town’s Spiller’s Lane on Saturday. The sun came out too and so did hundreds of punters as the local mayor opened the event.
With music playing, we sauntered up and down the narrow lane and started off with a delightful cocktail from Fernhill Hotel. Ingredients were mostly local, of course, and the "Corktail" included service with a smile. Neighbouring stall saw the Emmet Hotel dishing out loads of delicious small bites. We sampled canapés featuring Union Hall Salmon and Chicken Paté, both excellent.

An Sugan (top)
and Richie's bun.
A beetroot salad? The offer came from the man at the Baile an Ard Foods Stand and, of course, we said yes. It was very impressive. He told me the salad, along with quite a few others, may be bought in local shops and supermarkets and that they also do catering for events such as Communions, Confirmations, parties, even Christmas. So now you know.

An Sugan had quite a menu on offer and we picked their Scallops with a parsnip and potato puree. Three big juicy scallops, for a fiver! 

And we did well next door too with Richy’s Bistro where the man himself served up their Steamed Pork Bun, based on a dish by a top New York chef. Ricky took a while to figure out how to reproduce it but it was worth the wait as it is a beauty, another gem for a fiver.

The Lettercollum Project
On the way back down (maybe up!), we stopped for the speeches alongside the Clonakilty Black Pudding stand. And then there was ice-cream from the lady at Clonakilty Homemade Ice Cream. The Honeycomb was delicious and a reasonable two euro for a boule. They have a shop in the town and do outdoor events and supply to restaurants and hotels around West Cork. They’ve been doing it for the past ten years and all the ice cream is made on the premises.
We had lots of other samples as we made our way around but our final stop was at Clonakilty Chocolate where Allison was not alone displaying her range of freetrade bars but also the newest addition to the family, the baby sleeping soundly despite the crowds. No need to sample here, we know how good her chocolate is.

We did buy a few bars, including the favourite Mo Milk Chocolate. This includes goats milk and Coconut Blossom Syrup, a creamy compromise between the bean and milk. Enjoying it now as I write this. Tough going!

  • A Taste of West Cork continues all this week with events, big and small, taking place across the area. Get your hands on the brochure or check it out here .

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Clonakilty Chocolate. From Ghana to Clon.

Clonakilty Chocolate. 
From Ghana to Clon.

Allison (centre) in Ghana with farmers
Allison Roberts of Clonakilty Chocolate held a very enjoyable and informative chocolate and tapas evening in Molly’s Bar last week. She is treasurer of the town’s Fairtrade Group and has been active in that role too as Clonakilty recently highlighted its commitment to the Fairtrade idea. Read all about it here.   

Clonakilty Chocolate import their beans from Ghana and owner Allison, who has visited her suppliers there, started the evening by explaining where the chocolate beans come from and the importance of the fairtrade idea. She explained about the hard work in producing the crop, the cacao pods, the hand-harvesting. 

By going through the Fairtrade route, and Clonakilty town is the leader here, the profit-taking middleman is eliminated and the producers get a fair price for their hard-won produce. Read here to see how the interaction between Clonakilty and Ghana plays out.
The new bars
Once the chocolate beans are in Clon, Allison has some hard work to do herself and she took us through the technical aspects of producing chocolate and the different types. The hard work though is well worth it: Cacao is an amazing product…highest concentration of antioxidants in any food..gets our blood flowing better…make us feel happy……a life giving is a powerful aphrodisiac..a gift of love… food of the gods…”

Everybody in Molly's seemed happy enough and with women making up about 90 per cent of the audience, there must have been some surprised stay-at-home husbands in Clonakilty beds last Thursday night when the wives came back!

The evening began with a welcome Prosecco and some shards of 65% Chocolate with Puffed Brown Rice. Some we were into the Savoury Spread:
Bluebell Falls Goats Cheese with 75% chocolate, honey, garlic and thyme;
Roasted fennel Dip with ground Cacao nibs;
Aubergine Caponata with 100% chocolate;
Spicy Mixed Bean Mole with 100% grated chocolate;
Puy lentil Toasted Tomato Salad with Raspberry Chocolate vinagrette.

They had some suggested drinks and I was happy to go with the Mountain Man Hairy Goat beer. The Aubergine was perhaps my favourite from the list, though the goats cheese and Rosemary Tartlet were pretty close to the top as well.

 Goodies at the tasting and, bottom right,
a conche to grind beans "into Fairtrade silky velvet".
Top right is my favourite, the Aubergine caponata.
Then a break for music before heading into the Sweet Selection:
Dark Chocolate Beamish Cake with mascarpone icing;
Chilli espresso cake with 75% dark chocolate with coconut sugar;
Beetroot Chocolate Brownie with fennel seed glaze;
Orange truffle cake;
Black-eyed bean dark chocolate loaf;
Hazelnut rum raisin and Honey sage truffles.

I think we were all feeling happy at this stage!

Hard to get the Irish away from their milk chocolate but one of Allison’s new products could well do that. She also loves goats and her new chocolate with Coconut Sugar and Goats Milk went down a treat at Molly’s. It is really excellent and she herself is also very happy with it. 

So look out for that Milky Milk and also for other new products including Seriously  Minted, Decadent Dark, Chai Chilli, and Wild West Salty with a pinch of Irish Salt & Seaweed.

Allison, who works out of her own home (the back has been converted into a chocolate factory), had help on the evening from Kate of who handed out her recipes for the Rosemary Tartlet and also the Beetroot and chocolate brownies. Home-cook Kate already runs supper clubs and you’ll see details and lots of recipes on her blog Soon too she’ll be running Food Tours in and around Clonakilty for visitors.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Superb Kale, and so much more, at Killavullen Market

Superb Kale at Killavullen Market
"Throw in a few beans, please!"

Delighted I made it to the Killavullen Farmers Market last Saturday. Brought the bags, as usual - no point in going to a market unless you bring bags - and filled them up.

A big welcome and lots of good things to eat and drink here. Rory and his Kildinan Farm organic stall caught the eye and not just because of his colourful vegetables (including yellow courgettes and black and yellow beans) but also because of his selection of great looking kale.
He had three types for sale but we eventually went for the Nero di Tuscano. Glad we did. It is terrific. Big dark leaves, beautiful texture and oh so very tasty.

We used the Kale and the beans (the black goes green, the yellow white, when cooked!) with a beautiful piece of hake from Yawl Bay Seafoods (enhanced with some of that amazing IASC seafood butter, of course!), a lovely dish.

By coincidence, I came across this recipe on Twitter this morning: Maple Drizzled Strawberry Kale Salad. What do you think? If you're doing it, why not use the Highbank Orchard Syrup.

The Killavullen market is held about twice each month in the Nano Nagle Centre  on the Mallow-Fermoy Road and it is appropriate that organic produce features highly. The centre’s mission now “is to promote a vision of eco spirituality” and it runs a 32 acre organic farm here. Directions to the centre and the market here.

Indeed, the Nano Nagle centre has its own stall in the market and here we got some very flavoursome organic tomatoes. All of the stalls are indoor, sheltered under a large polytunnel so the market is weather-proofed. Great idea.

Much to buy here. We got a few bars of the gorgeous Clonakilty Chocolate (including my Himalayan Salt favourite!) and  a lovely Spelt and Honey loaf from a well stocked bakery stall. And of course who could pass the Fermoy Natural Cheese stall? Not me. Enjoyed a lovely chat with Gudrun Shinnick as I sampled the cheese and bought some of her famous Cais Dubh and also some of the same cheese embedded with fenugreek seeds. She also has milk and kefir on sale here.

Fermoy Natural Cheese
A quote from the market site just to give you a better idea of what is available: The products available are numerous including local fresh organic vegetables and eggs, imported fruit and vegetables from small producers to complement the local, potatoes and preserves, award winning cheeses, apples and apple juice, bread and baking, flowers and plants, knits and crochet, jewellery and candles, natural soaps and organic essential oils, environmentally friendly cleaning products, personalised poetry and greeting cards, charity bookstall, recycled paper products and fair trade products available at tea and coffee stall. The market received a Cork Environmental Award in 2009.

Kathy and her skin care stall
Last Saturday was also a special Arts and Food Celebration so there was even more to enjoy, including a pottery-making stand where you, or at least the kids, could get hands-on experience.

We came across a vibrant looking herb stall on the way out and saw a pot of basil with smaller leaves than usual. If I remember rightly, it is a Greek basil. Correct name or not, it is now standing on the kitchen windowsill.

Peace on the Blackwater. The river flows by the Nano Nagle Centre
You can also have a cup of tea or coffee and some home baking, maybe before or after the market or perhaps after taking one of several walks through the centre. We did the Cosmic Walk and that took us past a very large and impressive sundial.

Then we strolled through the animal enclosures, a couple of donkeys grazing, two pigs poking in the dust with their snouts and grunting happily and a community of hens clucking. Down  a few steps then to a field where a curious calf stared back and a few minutes later we were on the peaceful banks of the lovely Blackwater. After the walk, it was back to the car and a quiet cross country drive through the drizzly hills as we returned to the city.


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Taste of the Week

Taste of the Week

A few weeks back, I got a sample of Clonakilty Chocolate from the Fresh from West Cork stall in the English Market. Allison Roberts is making some gorgeous bars in Clon and has Easter treats (eggs and bunnies) on the way.

Allison, a member of the town's Fair Trade committee, is committed to producing her chocolate ethically and also to producing a top class product. She has over a dozen bars on the market with prices ranging from €2.50 to €3.00. Flavours include Orange Crunch, Milky Bar, Snow White, Decadent Dark and Espresso.

I got a bunch of them the other day and so far, the favourite is the 70% Pink Himalayan Salt. Mind you, there's just a pinch of the salt but it makes a difference. It is a delightful bar and is our Taste of the Week. Looking forward to having fun exploring the others. Might even get myself an Easter treat!

Read all about Allison and Clonakilty Chocolate here and don't overlook the report on her trip to Ghana. We’ve had lots of heroes in Irish food in recent decades.  Allison and fellow chocolatier Shana Wilkies of Midleton are among a new wave.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Glorious Foods

Glorious Foods
Wildberry's Raspberry Cheesecake. Good from any angle!

There was a lot of oohing and aahing going on in the English Market last week, especially inside the Fresh from West Cork stall. And the happy sounds soon spread as Water Ryan-Purcell, the man in charge of the stall, handed out samples.

It was a tough morning as I tasted cake after cake. They were made in the main by Wildberry Bakery and by Caroline Weese ; they were all of a very high standard,  absolutely gorgeous and, believe it or not, gluten free (gf).

Orange Polenta (left) and Chocolate and Almond

I sampled three cakes from Ballineen based Wildberry, one better than the other, though perhaps the Cheese Cake is my favourite..
(1) Choc and Almond:
chocolate , Bandon butter,ground almonds,sugar, free range eggs, vanilla seeds and essence.
(2) Orange polenta:
Bandon butter, sugar, ground almonds, polenta, free range eggs, lemons,oranges,G/F baking powder,cloves , cinnamon quills, walnuts and toasted almonds,ginger.
(3) Baked raspberry cheesecake:
cream cheese, sugar, free range eggs,raspberries,ground almonds,rice flour,icing sugar,cornflour, vanilla essence and seeds.

Three from Caroline (from left): Lemon, Chocolate and Coffee

Caroline Weese is another busy West Cork baker and we started off with her magnificent Carrot Cake. The Lemon Drizzle is also brilliant, full of the citrussy flavours but so well balanced. The Coffee Cake looks and tastes divine and that Chocolate cake is so gorgeous, so lusciously moist. A big lip smacking yum all around for Caroline. These are all gluten free but you just wouldn't know it. Go in and treat yourself. You'll get a large slice for just two euro!

Oh, she also makes a Gogi Bar, very concentrated and packed with textures and flavours. Ingredients include the Gogi Berries, dates, cocoa nibs, almonds, cinnamon and green tea. A recent Dutch visitor to the stall sampled one and bought the whole stock. But don't worry, it has since been replenished!

Not just cakes!

Most of us know someone who is on the lookout for Gluten Free food. I certainly do and I'll be tipping him off about the selection of fantastic cakes here. But I’ll also be passing on more information about other gluten free products at this packed stall including Clonakilty Chocolates, the Gubbeen salamis, Rosscarbery GF Sausages and the three Sauerkrauts from the Cultured Food Company (Juniper Berry, Ruby Red along with Carrot and Fennel).

Monday, February 10, 2014

Fresh from West Cork. In the heart of the city!

Fresh from West Cork
In the heart of the city!
A big welcome from Walter.
Have you visited the Fresh from West Cork stall in the English Market? With over thirty producers from the area participating (more joining all the time), it's like have a mini-farmers market every day in the heart of the city.
Walter Ryan-Purcell is the friendly face of the project and he'll guide you through the many tempting products on offer. You’ll be familiar with many of the names: Ummera Smoked Products, Milleens cheese, Durrus cheese, Irish Atlantic Sea Salt, Glenilen Butter, Milk and Clotted Cream!, Rosscarbery Recipes, Gubbeen...
You’ll almost certainly have heard of Sally Barnes and her Woodcock Smokery products but do you know of her gorgeous Salmon Butter? Or have you heard of the gluten free cakes  by Caroline Weese from the Oasis Bakery in Durrus?
Walter is very proud (but you have to drag it out of him!) of the products coming from Loughbeg Farm, run by himself and his wife. Watch out in particular for their Yellow Zucchini Relish and the Courgette and Ginger Jam. There are other breads, brown (with oats) and currant, and a marvellous Tea Brack, there as well.
No shortage of vegetables either with fresh stuff coming in regularly from Peter Ross in Drimoleague and Kathleen Hilliard in Goleen. And meat? Try Madeleine McKeever’s organic beef and the gluten free sausages by Rosscarbery. And fabulous pies (you must try the beef and potato) from West Cork Pies in Schull.
Don't stop now. Keep filling that bag. Try the marvellous organic apple juice by Lisheen Organics, the red cabbage Sauerkraut from Hayley Milthrope of the Cultured Food Company, Mr Pettersen’s Raspberry Extra (a perfect present for the gourmet in your life), the hand made cakes (love the brownies) by Yummy Tummy from Schull, and the Mung Bean Burgers by April Danann of Skibbereen.
And still you have more to choose from like Goat’s cheese, milk and yogurt from Orchard Cottage, McCarthy’s yogurts and more, Union Hall kippers, Mella’s Fudge, various dressings from Glebe Gardens, Clonakilty Chocolate, jams from Hillcrest, marmalade by Casey’s of Baltimore……….
It is a small stall but there is a something of a revolution going on here, a surging tide of top class foods, available six days a week. Fresh from West Cork is new to the market and the stall should soon be improved with better shelving and layout.
Delicious Tea Brack
The enthusiastic Walter also told me about some other new developments. They expect to have a website up and running soon and one of the items you'll be able to order online will be their BoscAbhaile. You may fill this box from the market products; packaging and delivery to any part of the 32 counties will cost ten euro. 
And the good news doesn't stop there. A new base is being prepared in Ballydehob, in the heart of the west, and here producers will be able to share facilities, advice and experiences, and you can be sure even more products will be flowing from the west to the stall in the market. Watch that space!

List of suppliers (more to come!)
1.Loughbeg Farm Foods Limited, Schull, Co. Cork, Josephine Ryan-Purcell (Goats milk, goats milk soft cheese, soft cream cheese with herbs, goats milk yogurt, strawberry, raspberry, chocolate, vanilla and banana goats milk ice cream, fresh herbs, chillies, dried herbs, tomato chutney, apple chutney, cucumber pickle, courgette & ginger jam, and vegetable soups).
2. Rossbrin Foods, Ballydehob (vegetables including melons, butternut squash, peppers, broad beans, french beans, runner beans, rainbow and Swiss chard, peas, carrots, nero di tuscana kale, red Russian kale, curly kale, asparagus kale, potatoes, beetroot, turnips, celery, asparagus, watercress, fresh salads, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, Romanesque, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, courgettes, and fruit)
3. John Pettersen, Goleen (Raspberry Vinaigrette, Raspberry Extra, and mustards);
4. West Cork Cheeses. Gubbeen, Milleens, Durrus, Ardagh Castle goats cheese. Also Gubbeen cheese biscuits.
5. Smoked salmon, duck, game and chicken, and salmon butter and pates from Sally Barnes, Woodcock Smokery, Castletownshend, Ummera Salmon, Timoleague, Union Hall Smoked Fish Company, and more fish products from Clonakilty Cuisine, and John Kearney, Fastnet Catch, Skibbereen.
6. Salamis, pepperoni, bacon, and Chorizo, from Gubbeen Smokehouse, Schull;
7. Strawberries from Busby’s, Rosscarbery.
8. Mella's Fudge, Lissavaird;
9. Oat Bread and Fruit loaf from June Kingston, Skibbereen.
10. Home produced biscuits and some bakery products (including tea brack, apple tarts, quiches, and almond cake): Caroline Weese ‘Oasis Baking’, Durrus, Patricia Love, Knockeen, Skibbereen, Eithne McCarthy, Skibbereen.
11. Crepe Francais, crepes and buckwheat gallettes;
12. Jams, chutneys, and apple jelly, Jean Perry, Glebe Gardens, Baltimore.
13. Apple Cider Vinegar and spelt bread, Gary and Eleanor Murphy, Ballydehob;
14. Irish Atlantic Sea Salt, Cahermore, Beara Peninsula;
15. Hayley Milthorpe, The Cultured Food Company, Skibbereen, Fermented food products;
16. Hillcrest Jams, Drimoleague;
17. Breads: The Baking Emporium, Dunmanway, and another small baker in Ballineen.
18. Waterbuffalo and free range meat products: Beara Pigs: Leo and Erin O’Shea.
19. Tim York, Lisheen Organics – asparagus and tomatoes (in season) and a good range of organic vegetables. Apple Juice;
20. Honey: Knockeen Honey, Noel Love, Knockeen, Skibbereen.
21. Pork Pies, Steak and Kidney Pies, Scotch Eggs, West Cork Pies, Schull.
22. Thornhills Organics, Skibbereen, organic vegetables – mainly bags of fresh salads.
23. Yogurt, cheesecake, farmhouse butter, lemonade, Glen Ilen Food Products, Drimoleague.
24. Frozen organic beef, Madeline McKeever, Church Cross (very limited supply).
25. Free Range Chicken, David Louks, Shehymore Poultry, Dunmanway (very limited supply).
26. Rosscarbery Recipes. Rashers, sausages, black and white puddings.
27. ‘Gnosh’, Richard Gostyn, Goleen, hummus, salads, coleslaw, potato salad, tomato salsa, beet salsa.
28. West Cork Garlic Company;
29. Roaringwater Bay Seaweed products – sausages, puddings;
30 Yummy Tummy Cakes, Róisín McCarthy, Schull;
31. Barry and Joseph Desmond – goats milk, yogurt and cheese;
32. Rebel Foods, April Danann, Leap, Co. Cork. Apple butter, elderberry juice, nettle juice (in season), herbal teas, and sugar free baking;
33. Casey’s Hotel, Baltimore – jams and marmalade;
34 Vegetables from Peter Ross in Drimoleague and Kathleen Hilliard in Goleen