Showing posts with label Knockdrinna Cheese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Knockdrinna Cheese. Show all posts

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Don't you know you’ll get piles? The Fantastic Dingle Taste Trail.

Don't you know you’ll get piles?
The Fantastic Dingle Taste Trail.
Fenton's Fizz
“Would you ever get up off the cold street. Don't you know you’ll get piles. At least couldn't you put your jacket under you?” 

We two were sitting (on seats) in the closed Dingle street, outside the An Canteen door, enjoying a beer with another couple. But one of the four was sitting on the street surface, as there were no more seats, when a young Irish Mammy came along and started on him. It was a laugh a minute for a while after that as the young woman sat near us and the banter continued. Only in Ireland. Maybe only on the Dingle Taste Trail. Priceless. And no ticket required! 

We had spent a few hours on the Taste Trail.  It was time for a drink and one of the best places for craft beer and cider at Dingle Food Festival, anytime really, is An Canteen. Got a great welcome, including a tasty beef sandwich, from Brian and Niall and a smashing pint of Indian Pale Ale from Andrew of Killarney Brewing Company.

Raclette (also Fondue) at Little Cheese Shop
That Ale by the way is called Scarlet Pimpernel in memory of Killarney man Fr Hugh O'Flaherty who saved 6,500 people during WW2. A glass of the regular Golden Spear Blonde Ale also got the thumbs up.

The Taste Trail at the annual Dingle Food Festival is one of the very best. The quantity of choice is amazing as close to 80 outlets take part, officially! And the quality, while it can vary, is mostly of a very high standard, sometimes really top class. And the value per bite is incredible. A book of  tickets can be bought at any of the participating outlets and in the festival office and then you can go and sample wine, beer, whiskey, fish, meat, pizza, desserts and more.

We enjoyed our few hours on the trail on Saturday afternoon and had some memorable stops, particularly at Fenton’s, Out of the Blue and finally at An Canteen. There was a big delay at our first port of call as the Fish Bar on the Marina seemed surprised by the massive crowd that turned up for their Tandoori Prawns on a skewer.
Waiting at the fabulous Global Village
But there was no problems with queues elsewhere. Yes, there were queues for sure but all moved quickly along. There was one other disappointment though in that the Liam O’Neill/Derry Clarke charity event at O'Neill's art studio was unavoidably confined to Sunday.

Fenton’s had a massive line, out on to Green Street, through the full length of the restaurant, right into to the back garden. But it moved along nicely and soon we were sitting down eating a couple of delightful organic Dexter Beef sliders and then sipping a Sloe Gin Royale Pink Fizz.

The drink was a mix of gin, made from locally foraged sloes, and prosecco. A wee amount of the red gin was poured in first, and then the prosecco was added to change the colour to pink. But the big kick remained in the bottom of the flute and that last mouthful was an ambush of liquid delight! By the way, all this (beef plus fizz) cost us six tickets (12 euro worth).
Music on the trail
More top class stuff to eat and drink at Out of the Blue. They had a few choices but we went for the two ticket option: Roasted halibut fillet with steamed smoked cod, rocket and toasted hazelnut pesto, roasted red pepper and garlic pesto, and celeriac mash. And that was washed down with a small glass of Verdejo (just one ticket).

The Boatyard next door had their tables out in the sun and here we stuck with the fish theme, a lightly spiced Fish Curry.
Fenton's (top) and
Out of the Blue

Up along Green Street after that and down Main Street heading for Orchard Lane to see the Trade It exhibition that featured producers from all over Europe, from Poland, Finland, Spain, UK and Ireland and more. It was scheduled for 2.30 to 4.30, but my jaw dropped when we arrived at 3.30 and found an empty tent. It had all finished up. I had really been looking forward to that.

Still there were plenty of market stalls in the Lane and we had a few samples of various foods, including a marvellous Goats Cheese from Helen of Knockdrinna. And then we had a little bonus when Chef Marc Murphy of the Dingle Cookery School gave a demo (how to cook hake) at their stand.

Next, we headed for An Canteen and that hilarious meeting with the Irish Mammy!

Mark Murphy demo

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Kilkenny Dinner, in Cork

Kilkenny Dinner, in Cork
Goatsbridge smoked trout

Zwartbles lamb chops were the highlight of a weekend dinner here in Cork. Other Kilkenny products to feature were Goatsbridge Smoked Trout and Knockdrinna Cream cheese with a pesto topping.
The lamp chops (gigot) were a present from Suzanna at her Zwartbles farm near Bennettsbridge when a group of bloggers visited recently. Not alone did she provide the meat but she also came up with the other main ingredients, Catillac pears and Newtown Wonder Apples. And she didn’t to stop there as she also gave us the recipe.

Carrots, butternut squash, red onions and more were added to the old Creuset and the stew was ready about five or six hours later. Suzanna is a slow cook advocate! It was well worth the wait. The pears and apples mixed so well with the gorgeous lamb while the other ingredients all added to the delightful flavours. A superb main course, a rare treat indeed, polished off appropriately, with a glass of Riscal Gran Reserva 2001 (the 150th anniversary edition).

Zwartbles lamb
Eat Trout is the marketing slogan - you’ll notice it on their packaging - for the marvellous Goatsbridge Trout Farm in Thomastown, Kilkenny. It is now appearing on their Canned Smoked Trout. We opened up the tin and added a fairly simple salad, leaves and some potato. Great flavours from the smoked finish, and pleasing texture too.

And the cream cheese from Knockdrinna, also Thomastown, is also a new product, The cheese is also excellent on crackers (try Carrigaline or Sheridan’s). That pesto topping is a terrific idea. We served this as a simple bruschetta, tomatoes and the cheese on a slice of toasted Arbutus sourdough (had to get at least one Cork product in!).

To tell you the truth, I don't particularly like the points scoring that goes on between the different counties (e.g. that Tipp food is better than Kerry food). We have some magnificent producers, some large, many small, spread across the country. Just go out and support them. Wherever you find them. 
Cream cheese, with pesto, from Knockdrinna
 The Zwartbles flock is not very large, so the availability of the meat is very limited. You may have to start a flock yourself! Goatsbridge and Knockdrinna products are widely available. Check the websites.

see also

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bloggers On Tour. Caviar, Ceramics, and Cat Bodacious!

The Bloggers On Thomastown Tour
Caviar, Ceramics, and Cat Bodacious!

Ger Kirwan welcomes us to Goatsbridge Trout Farm

From Rainbow trout to Zwartble sheep, from ceramics to cheese, the Town of Food bloggers tour had a busy and every interesting day in the Thomastown area last Monday.

The first get together of the day was at Goatsbridge Trout Farm .  Mag and Ger Kirwan were our hosts. After coffee and cake, we headed down to the adjacent farm where some kids and adults were already fishing from one of the ponds.

The trout farm was started by Ger’s parents, Padraig and Rita, in 1961. Padraig's father was a miller in the area and the fish tradition goes back a long way, at least back to the monks of nearby Jerpoint Abbey, who established a fishery in the 12th century.

Trout hauled out for a quick look and the fabulous caviar.
These Cistercians would not recognise today's Goatsbridge. The Fish Farm employs twenty people. Virtually all the fish is sold in Ireland, about 10,000 a week! Each of the holding ponds, maybe 100 square meters, holds no less than 12,000 of the trout (all rainbow, by the way).

Goatsbridge trout is sold fresh, smoked and barbecued. And there is also a paté.Their latest venture - a very delicious one indeed, and one that you can taste in many of the country’s restaurants - is trout caviar. The idea came after a chance meeting in Boston with someone who was doing it in the US. It took Goatsbridge another few years to develop it for their conditions and they married the US practice with the French way and have perfected it since. Well worth seeking out! Why not try their online shop.

Back to the cars then and off to nearby ceramicist Karen Morgan .  Karen moved from Limerick to Thomastown in 2006. Originally, she operated in the town itself but has now set up a studio alongside her home in the countryside and here you can see her at work and see and buy her work. At present she produces functional kitchen items (dishwasher and microwave safe) with swirls and ripples - reckon she has been to the trout farm. She loves Thomastown: “So much going on here: craft, music, food.”

Karen (left) and Helen
From ceramics to glass, Jerpoint Glass the next stop. This was founded by Keith and Kathleen Leadbetter in existing farm buildings some 35 years ago and the boost they needed to get off the ground came when the Kilkenny Design Centre backed them. I have always loved the way they use the single colour. It looks delicate enough but this glass is tough stuff, largely because it is finished by hand. Mainly they make tableware that is meant to be used. Functional and aesthetic!

Then it was over the road to Stoneyford to meet Helen Finnegan who has been making Knockdrinna Cheese here for the past ten years.

“We’ve had some difficult times but are moving well now.” She started making goats cheese in the back kitchen. In more recent times she went into sheep cheese and even more recently started making cheese from cows milk for the Little Milk Company, a small group of local organic farmers. I love the Brewers Gold from this later venture and bought some of that! Helen also gives Cheesemaking Courses, so watch out for those.
There is also a little cafe at Knockdrinna but our lunch date was back in Thomastown at the Cafe Sol Bistro. Knockdrinna cheese is on the menu here too and lots of other good local produce including Goatsbridge trout. I went for the hearty Lavistown Sausages with creamy potato, root vegetables and a flavoursome thyme gravy. Well worth a lunch or dinner call if you're passing on the road to Waterford. If not, make a detour! And, by the way, they also have a cafe in Kilkenny itself.

After a call to see the Town of Food development in Thomastown, we headed to the Zwartbles farm to see Suzanna (a blanket designing shepherd!) and her unusual sheep and their cat shepherd Bodacious! She, Suzanna that is, is a Slow Food advocate and the philosophy runs through to what she does here: What you put in is what you get out.

And good things go into her Zwartble sheep. “They have a great variety of grasses and herbs and are finished off on clover and windfall apples.” Lucky sheep and lucky the customers that get the meat. It was a pity that darkness was setting in as we arrived. I didn’t get good pics but if you want to see the sheep at their best then check the site above!

Jerpoint glass
We got the brightest of welcomes from the lady and her happy bouncy sheep. By the way, it is not just the meat that is in demand (you'll soon be able to get it locally at Pembroke House restaurant in Kilkenny) but also the wool, available to buy as rugs and blankets in places such as Jerpoint Glass.

We brought our bags to the orchards and filled them with pears and apples, including the Catillac pear and the Newtown Wonder apples. We even got a taste of her outdoor grapes and also got to see her alpacas who help protect the sheep by scaring off dogs and foxes.

A lovely chat then and a welcome cup of tea. And even a going away present of some lamb chops. A warm feeling then at the end of a packed day as we headed into the darkness and the road to Cork. Thanks to Kilkenny in general, to all the food producers and providers and to all the craft people that we met and to Mag Kirwan and to Dee Sewell in particular for organising.

See also:

Better pics on their site