Showing posts with label James Whelan Butchers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label James Whelan Butchers. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

James Whelan opens 8th Butcher’s Shop. Son Pat keeps his feet on the ground.


James Whelan opens 8th Butcher’s Shop
Son Pat keeps his feet on the ground.
Display at new Whelan's shop in Dunnes Stores, Bishopstown Court.

I met Pat Whelan at the original James Whelan shop in Clonmel in November 2011. He took time out to have chat about that shop and also a new one in Avoca in Monkstown (Dublin) to which he was applying the finishing touches. Now he has eight in total. Progress has been amazing. 

I met Pat again at Dunnes Stores Bishopstown Court last Friday. He was there to play a role in the weekend celebration of the extensive renovations of the popular supermarket, a weekend to highlight the newcomers to the store including Whelan’s, Sheridan’s Cheese, ABC Bread, O’Connell Fishmongers, Baxter and Greens and Café Sol. 
Part of the new food hall

Again, the Tipperary man took time out for a chat. I reminded him about our first meeting and how he enjoyed going out to the marts and farms to meet the producers. Has the expansion put a stop to that? 

I was glad to get the answer that it hadn’t, an answer that I had more or less expected from a man who stays in touch with the grassroots, staying connected to the source. He goes out weekly and told me that only the Tuesday before he had bought about 40 cattle in the Fermoy Mart but what I hadn’t expected was that his 80 year father, after whom the shops are named, was on the road with him. Respect to both!
Dunnes Kiwi chef Matthew Brownie was promising the Irish an All Black grilling ahead of the big game.
He was just joking, of course!

But some things have of course changed and not just over the last seven years. Pat was (still is) a regular visitor to the English Market in the good old days. Then he felt it “was alive” when he walked through. It certainly was in your face. The food scene began to change back in 60s and 70s. It became “sanitised”, the connection with its source fragmenting, we agreed, me thinking of sliced pan and supermarkets as being among the agents of change.
O'Connell fishmongers

People like Pat, and luckily there are quite a few of them, kept the flame alive. “Good food is an investment in your future,” he says. “Great to see the youngsters coming into it, great to see them make the connection and great to see it done right. We owe it to ourselves and to the planet to really reconnect with nature.”

“Training is important,” he emphasised in answer to my query about Whelan’s Butcher Academy. Indeed, the good work of the academy has been recognised by a counterpart in South West France. “They want to do an Erasmus exchange with us where our trainees can swap experience with their French counterparts. It’s great for us to be recognised like that and great too for the apprentices.”
Whelan's Himalayan salt aged beef, before and after (so tender!)

The eight Whelan butcher shops are in Clonmel, Dunnes Stores Cornelscourt, The Swan Centre Rathmines, Dunnes Stores Blanchardstown Centre, Pavilions Shopping Centre, Swords, Avoca in Rathcoole and Kilmacanogue as well as Dunnes Stores Bishopstown Court. Pat is very happy about the link-up (now 30 months old) with Dunnes seeing them as a family company that “is all about the customer, the Better Value is not just a slogan, and they are very warmly regarded in Cork".

And it looks as if the Whelan shop is warmly regarded as well. “We’ve had a great welcome from our fellow debutants, Pat O’Connell’s and Sheila of ABC”. Whelan will have in-house competition from Dunne’s own butchers. He knows that his produce is top class and may cost a little more. A customer may like a treat at the weekend and something good but less pricey on a Monday. “Retail is all about choice,” he says and is quite happy with that.

Earlier Donnacha, the manager of Whelan's Bishopstown shop, showed me some of that choice. The Tralee native has worked for two and half years for Pat in Dublin and jumped at that chance to get back nearer home. “We started off four weeks ago and it took off straightaway, so far so good. Now we’re setting up for Christmas.”
And where there's Dunnes, there's Simply Better

The shop has a beautiful lay-out and lighting. It is well manned with expert help at hand as you choose between the different meats and the different cuts. 

A lot of the weekend focus was on “the big reveal”, the collaboration between Pat Whelan and Peter Hannan which has resulted in the amazing Himalayan Salt Aged Beef, now on sale exclusively in Whelan’s eight shops and at their online shop.

Hannan has constructed a Salt Chamber made of rock salt bricks from the Himalayas and here the beef spends over 35 days and the final result is exceptional quality with a truly unique flavour.  More details here.  

“We got a great welcome to Cork,” said Kevin Sheridan of Sheridan's as we chatted in front of their very impressive stall. And I use the word stall deliberately as it does resemble a market display. A big stall, mind you. Space to display the many cheeses - lots of Cork produce there too - and all the little bits and pieces (crackers, relishes for example) that go with them.
Yours truly with
Kevin Sheridan.

‘We have more Cork cheese here - in Galway we would have more from Galway - and find the customers very enthusiastic. Great to be in Dunnes too, as they are part of the Cork heritage.”

“We started as a small cheese stand, and this weekend, we are celebrating the opening of the Cork Bishopstown Court location with many local producers that we are proud to call our friends. We feel so lucky to work with many quality Irish producers and are thrilled to share their amazing work all under one roof in Dunnes.”

Like Pat, Kevin emphasised the importance of training. Sheridan’s have brought some of their more experienced people from their other shops to Cork for the time being, passing on that experience, all for the benefit of the customer.

Didn’t see Pat O’Connell himself but got lots of fish there, some frozen, some fresh, and some smoked (including Goatsbridge trout produced by my friend Mag Kirwan in Kilkenny). Must go back and try that red mullet! 

Also met some regulars on the food scene: Padraig O’Farrell was showing his Carrigaline cheeses at Sheridan’s and Aoife was doing a Kinsale Bay tasting nearby while Dunne’s Kiwi chef Matthew was threatening to grill the Irish at the rugby! Could have spent the day there but time caught up with me.

  • You may see a YouTube clip of Peter Hannan’s salt chamber here.
  • And see Hannan cook those amazing steaks here. 


Monday, November 12, 2018

Taste of the Week. James Whelan Rack of Roasting Bacon


Taste of the Week 
James Whelan Rack of Roasting Bacon
Three Star Bacon and Cabbage
(with orange, mustard and redcurrant sauce)

With the now well-established move to a more modern Irish cuisine, a few people were led to forget the past or at least to look down on it, and that meant putting the traditional bacon and cabbage well down the ranking as if it were something to boot out of the Irish kitchen.

Thankfully many, including a few leading chefs, knew that the past had many lessons for the future. Bacon and cabbage devotees meanwhile stuck with their favourite and are now reaping the rewards. Take the James Whelan Rack of Roasting Bacon for example.

Here's what the Great Taste judges had to say as they gave it a coveted 3 Star Award: "An impressive looking piece of bacon, with a good layer of fat, well caramelised. There is a good amount of juice when cut into, and it cut quite easily. The meat was succulent and soft, and there was a great piggy flavour and subtle smokiness. The flavours of the meat were superb and very well balanced through the curing. Clearly a quality piece of pork, and well looked after”

This Taste of the Week is all that and more. We tried it out recently. I’m a long time bacon and cabbage devotee and I have to say that this is the best bacon dish ever. Big thanks to three: James Whelan of course, Bord Bia for the fantastic recipe  (including that amazing orange, mustard and redcurrant sauce) and finally to the official Blog Chef herself.

A superb treat that could well make the turkey redundant this Christmas!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Taste of the Week. Joy on a Plate. James Whelan Butchers


Taste of the Week
Joy on a Plate.
James Whelan Butchers

Enjoying some delicious breakfasts these days, the best of rashers, black and white puddings and sausages, all by James Whelan Butchers. 

I visited owner Pat Whelan in his original Clonmel shop seven years ago (thought it was much more recent!); then, that was his only store. It’s been onwards and upwards for Pat and his team since and just last week they opened outlet number eight, in Dunnes Stores in Bishopscourt.

Whelan’s are renowned for the quality of their lamb and beef but, this week, I’ve had tasty proof that their offering from the pig is also of a high standard. The Heritage Cure rasher is, as they say themselves, simply delicious, “joy on a plate”. The pudding too is top notch and my personal favourite is the sausage, full of hearty flavour.

Many of the Whelan products, including his famous beef dripping, have won awards both here and in the UK, and now I’m looking forward to trying his Heritage Cure rack of bacon. Both the dripping and the bacon were part of a gift from the butcher to mark the opening of his newest store.

Oakville Shopping Centre
Upper Gladstone Street
Clonmel
Co. Tipperary E91 FX58

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Great Craic. Great Causes. Enjoyed Cork City Marathon 2018.

Enjoyed Cork City Marathon 2018
Better Late Then Never. Much Better!


One for all and all for one

For quite a few years now, I’ve been photographing the runners in the Cork City Marathon, usually down by Silversprings as the going gets that bit tougher. This time though, I went to the finish, long after the winners had been and gone, and enjoyed every minute of it.
Peri Peri with a spicy mango sauce at The Rocketman

Runners of all shapes and sizes, not to mention colours, doing it for a variety of good causes, and having a lot of fun and gaining friends all over the place as they came in hours behind the elite runners. 

Great too to see the kids jumping over the barriers and proudly helping (maybe sometimes hindering) Mammy or Daddy, over the last 100 metres or so.
James Whelan Heritage Ham features here
at The Rocketman

I had a interest in the Sanctuary Runners. They were drawing attention to the plight of those refugees stuck in our Direct Provision System. And the refugees, with Ballymaloe trained chef Ellie Kisyombe at the forefront, had an international day-long feast at The Rocketman in Princes Street. We enjoyed our lunch there before heading the few yards up to see the fun runners finish.
Wow - I can see the finish!

Well done to Ellie and her helpers, to Jack Crotty for opening up his premises for the day and to Our Table for organising and also to those teams of Sanctuary Runners. Beir bua!
Something sweet at the end of Our Table meal





Applause!

Helping Daddy over the closing metres



Thursday, December 1, 2011

CURVES AND COLOURS IN A BUTCHER’S SHOP


CURVES AND COLOURS IN A BUTCHER’S SHOP


Never knew that meat had so many variations in colour until I saw the counter in James Whelan’s shop yesterday. What a superb display for the customer. And so much information. All well laid out and superbly lit. The soft overhead lights do their job well; there is virtually no glare and the customer sees the meat as it is.

Must say I had a terrific guide in Pat Whelan himself, taking time out from his busy day which also included a trip to the Avoca Food Market in Monkstown (Dublin) to oversee preparations for the opening of his new butcher shop there. Would love to live near a Whelan shop but at least we can always buy online .

Pat explained that the lighting was an integral part of the design and then pointed to the floor (an earthy colour) and to the ceiling (sky colours) and said the meat was the bounty of nature in between.

Curves abound too in the shop, virtually no hard angles. Fung Shui principles were employed. Pat admitted to being gob smacked when the German designer first explained the plan to him but had a good feeling about it and signed the cheque. It has worked out very well indeed.

All the major meats are well laid out here and some minor ones, everything from rabbit to beef and poultry of course and no shortage of info as to where it was raised and bred, much of it on the nearby Whlena farms.

Opposite the counter, there is a long row of shelves, generally with packs, including a whole range of puddings, from as near as Inch House and from as far as Newport (Kelly’s).

Whelan’s own pre-packed products are also displayed here, vacuum packed bacon and ham, sausages, rashers and so on. The packaging is transparent. You can visually examine the contents. Another example of the Whelan integrity! What you see is what you get.

Towards the back of the shop, there is semi-circle (curves again) that contains the “deli”, another inviting counter where you can buy prepared or semi-prepared meals, everything from Boeuf Bourguignon to a mini quiche. It very much resembles the “traiteur” counter in a French butcher shop.

Pat has also managed to find the time to author a cook book called An Irish Butcher Shop. It is full of recipes and because it is written by an Irishman for an Irish audience, you won’t have any problem finding the ingredients.

The recipes are, I can say, brilliant and if you need any further help, there is a treasure trove of help, videos even, on the Whelan site which is well worth a visit. But, I have to encourage you to make a visit to the real shop and see one of the gems of the Irish food scene.

Just hope that these few words and pictures do it justice.