Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Taste of the Week
Loughbeg Farm Oat Bread
From Loughbeg Farm, west of Schull, comes a by now rather famous Oat Loaf, our Taste of the Week. Famous because it has filled a gap in the gluten free market and because Walter Ryan-Purcell, the man behind the venture, made a memorable appearance on Dragon’s Den last year, leaving with the support of not one but two of the dragons.
It started off on a very small scale with Walter and wife Josephine experimenting with the recipe in their farmhouse. But gradually they got it right and then Loughbeg benefited from the Supervalu Food Academy and now the loaf is widely available.
The ingredients are milk, gluten free oatlets (41%), olive oil, bread soda, lemon juice and salt. I picked up a loaf in Bradley’s (early supporters of the venture) recently and enjoyed it very much indeed. The early versions were very crumbly but this holds very well together and is full of flavour with a gentle crunch. I like a slice with a good cover of butter but you can add any spread you like. Enjoy.
And when you do come across it, ask too about their delicious Oat Tea Brack (soaked in tea and cider!).
Monday, February 29, 2016
Taste of the WeekLoughbeg Farm 'Oat Tea Brack'
The Oat Tea Brack from Loughbeg Farm, near Schull in County Cork, is our Taste of the Week. Walter Ryan-Purcell tells us their brack is “wheat free, gluten free, dairy free and utterly scrumptious! Soaked in tea and cider”. It is our Taste of the Week. I got mine in Bradley's, Cork City.
The ingredients are gluten free oatlets, sultanas, mixed fruit, brown sugar, tea, eggs, cider, mixed spice, and bread soda. It is truly scrumptious. But take it easy. Though it is moist and choc-a-block with flavour, it's rather rich, great with a cuppa. Or why not try it, as I did, with a small glass of Sauternes.
Loughbeg, with Walter and wife Josephine at the helm, has benefited from the Supervalu Food Academy and now you can find their hugely popular Oat Bread loaf all across Munster. And if you do come across the loaf, ask too about this delicious Oat Tea Break.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
SuperValu Glanmire Christmas Fair
Such an enjoyable evening!
Congratulations to Liam Ryan’s SuperValu Glanmire who put on a tremendous Christmas Fair last Thursday night. Lots to eat and drink, Chef Kevin Dundon demoing too, and a terrific friendly atmosphere and a good cause (three local charities supported). The family has three SuperValu stores in the Cork area; Grange support Douglas Lions Club, Glanmire aid St Vincent de Paul while Togher is backing Cork Simon Community.
We each got an impressive Christmas Recipe booklet on the way in and that was just the start of it. As we did a circle of the bright and well laid out store, we were able to sample their own in-house goodies and there was also an array of Food Academy start-up food producers sampling their local produce.
Didn't stop at all the tasting spots - no point in being greedy. But great to meet up again with Des Jeffares from County Wexford, better known as Mr Jeffares Blackcurrants . He produces a refreshing cordial and last night he was offering a lovely warming mulled version. Loughbeg Farm with their now famous Oat Loaf and Tea Brack had come all the way from West Cork.
Also from west along came the three sisters of the Natural Larder Company (Macroom). They produce a range of seasoned breadcrumb mixes, and also a Cheeky Chilli sauce, Rollicking Red Onion pickle and Bodacious Baba Ganoush sauce. Interested? Check them out here.
Michael Corbett, a Tipperary farmer, was proudly displaying his Emerald Oils cold pressed rapeseed oil. Every single stage in creating this oil is completed directly on the family farm. As you know it can be used for stir-frying, roasting baking, salad dressing and marinating. He had some examples of the baking so we dipped a piece into the oil. Gorgeous!
|Mulled cider, courtesy of Longueville|
And then we were treated to Clotilde’s Fruit Compote, all the way from France, via Glanworth. These are really tasty sugar free compotes that can be used as a daily snack or with natural yogurts porridge, cereals, desserts and more. Clotilde is French and these pots are just like her mother used to make in France. They are absolutely divine. And so versatile.
Time now for a drink or two! Rupert from Longueville House was on hand with their gorgeous mulled cider. Then Barry from St Patrick's Distillery treated us to a drop of his Sloe Gin and Honey. No shortage of craft beer either with both Cotton Ball Brewing and Black’s of Kinsale in attendance.
The circle was now completed and we entered the area where the main event was being held. Before we knew it, we had a glass of wine in hand and were queueing for some delicious store food. Tender flavoursome beef (and other meats too) and all the trimmings, even desserts! Amazing array of food and soon our plates were full. And all this even before Kevin Dundon’s entertaining demo started!
The food was brilliant and so too were the staff - a whole battalion of them - all keen to serve and to tell us exactly what we getting. You often hear about the soulless supermarket. Well this sure isn't one of them. Everyone we met last evening as we did our rounds was helpful courteous and busy!
So good quality all the way with the food and the same with the wine tasting, conducted by Supervalu wine-buyer Kevin O’Callaghan. He had an amazing selection in front of him, including an excellent wine from Margaux - not bad for a Thursday night!
By the way, if you want to check out SuperValu wines and other drinks, be sure and pick up your copy of the in-house magazine Uncorked (Winter 2015). Lots of info here and articles by Leslie Williams, editor Ross Golden-Bannon, Tomas Clancy, and Raymond Blake. And it’s free.
It was a big night for Liam Ryan and his team and they certainly played a winner. Well done to SuperValu Glanmire.
|Some of the wines for tasting|
Monday, October 12, 2015
Glorious Food, Drink and Scenery
Dingle has it all - glorious food, drink and scenery. It is a terrific visit at anytime and can be visited whether the sun shines or not. Nature doesn't have to perform at its best just because you’re on a visit. Indeed, sometimes Nature in a bad mood is as well worth seeing as it is on the days of calm and balm.
I was there for the Blas na hEireann tastings and the annual food festival and it was a marvelous few days. Tough enough start though on the Thursday with a full day of tastings for Blas in the Skelligs Hotel. Tough? Did I hear you say? Well try tasting nine blue cheeses in a row. Or, in the final session of the day, sampling 15 beers as the sun went down.
|Venturing out in Ventry|
But it has its rewards and the first came later that night in An Canteen when we sat down to a very local three course meal by the brothers Niall and Brian. Superb fish on the first two courses and those amazing savoury chocolates by Dovinia were a highlight. And I must also mention that excellent Connemara Pale Ale by the Independent Brewery.
Friday was largely a free day, so we headed west with the first stop at Ventry as the sunseekers were out in some numbers and, let me say, in their t-shirts. Also spent some time watching a group of kayakers getting ready and then sailing off into the haze. The weather had changed, duller and windier, by the time we got to Slea Head but we still got down to the sands and close to the rocks.
|Lunch at Blasket Centre: Baked potato, tuna, cheese|
The Blasket Centre is a great place to visit to get a feel for the peninsula and the islands and , as a bonus, it is a good spot to stop for lunch. Fueled up, we carried on and came to Clogher Head. Last time, our walk up here was stopped by a heavy shower but there was no such problems on this occasion. Great views out there, even if there was a little haze in the mid-distance.
On then towards Ballyferriter and a visit to Wine Strand before closing the loop - the sun was out again - and cutting cross-county back to Dingle. We were keen to see the Conor Pass while the weather was still reasonable. By the time we got up though, the clouds had taken over. Still we had a fine view down to Dingle and beyond.
|Ceann Sibeal from Clogher Head|
|Welcome to Wine Strand|
Then an hour or two was spent at the awards by the Enterprise Office from the various counties (details here) and after that it was time to think about eating again. We were joined by some of the judges (lots of laughs with Susan and Judith Boyle) in the Global Village who came up with a terrific tasting menu, very popular too as empty plates went back every time. This was a selection of the peninsula’s finest produce over six tasting courses. Highlights were the fish (turbot, seaweed and fennel) and the meat (wild boar, scallop and raisins).
Saturday was a reasonably fine day and we were soon out and about after a good breakfast at the excellent and friendly Benners Hotel, so centrally located. Garvey’s SuperValu had their line of food already in place on the pavement outside. I had a look inside and was impressed. Outside, the market stalls on the various streets were busy and we called to quite a few.
|Welcome to Dingle Gin & Vodka from Joe|
|Turbot at Global Village|
Saturday though was mainly about the amazing Taste Trail and you may read all about that here. Caught up on the news from the award ceremony for Blas and delighted for the winners, particularly for those that we know. Taste trail or not, we were still up for a meal later that night and had booked in to the Grey’s Lane Bistro. It was a good call and a lovely meal.
Took it easy on the Sunday morning and, after yet another good breakfast in Benner's, two happy punters checked out and headed home. Dingle, we'll be back!
Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Mabel, Matriarch of Loughbeg FarmMeet Ginger & Biscuit. Black & Decker too.
|Mabel (left) and one of her possible successors.|
We are high on a hill on a farm in Lowertown, Schull, County Cork, and have a 360 degree view.
Looking out to the Atlantic we have a splendid view. It is the last day of August and here, as it often is, the sky is clear and we can see, to our right, the Sheep’s Head Peninsula and the long blue of Dunmanus Bay; Dunmanus Castle (near where there a sea urchin producer operates); we can see, to the left, all the way over to Cape Clear island. Beyond Sheep’s Head, Hungry Hill, blue/grey in the distance, rises into the sky on the Beara peninsula (where there is an abalone producer).
|Decker and her litter|
And, if we shift position a bit and head towards the pure bred Connemara ponies on a neighbouring farm, we can even spot the Fastnet Rock in the distance.
Behind us, the mountains, including Mount Gabriel, match the sweep of the sea in front of us. And immediately below and around us, lies the farm where Walter and Josephine Ryan-Purcell raise their pigs and goats, soon to be joined by a Dexter cow or two; here they grow their vegetables and do much more besides.
|Dunmanus Bay and, beyond, Sheep's Head|
In the mountains, you note the ridges of rocks crowding together like the bonhams feeding! The pattern is repeated as the rocks continue through the farm and onwards. On the farm, the gaps get a little wider, allowing some grass to flourish, but still narrow, and the gaps get a little wider (sometimes the width of a decent field) nearer the coast. There are some good fields in the vicinity but this farm is not so lucky. Still, the rough land, bushy and scrubby and sometimes marshy, is an ideal spot for the chosen animals.
|Connemara pony and Ginger and Biscuit|
Decker and her pal Black (who is due to give birth to her litter any day now) are Duroc crossed Large Black while the dad Bubba is an Gloucester Old Spot. We also met Ginger and Biscuit, a happy pair of pure Tamworth pigs.
|Waiting time. Black in the mud.|
But, for all the animals, Loughbeg is now best known for its bread, for its Oat Bread in particular. Loughbeg benefited from the Supervalu Food Academy and now you can find the hugely popular loaf all across Cork and Kerry. And maybe further afield in the near future. And if you do come across it, ask too about the delicious Oat Tea Break (soaked in tea and cider!).
Such has been the success of the Oat Loaf this year that Loughbeg now employs nine, including six full-time. Walter hasn't had as much time to concentrate on other aspects of the farm including his Loughbeg Watering System. He is developing this using drainage pipes with slots for his pots and the water in the pipes keeps the plants irrigated. He never stops! And neither does Josephine. As we were galavanting around the farm with Water and Munich based food writer (and translator) Natascha Afanasjew, Josephine was getting hundreds of loaves of bread packed.
We finished up with a lovely lunch of local produce. The bread and the brack featured, of course, as did some of their own chutneys, ham from Gubbeen, tomatoes and cucumbers from their greenhouse, and cheese, a new one, from Sean O'Brien of Ballingeary. Lovely food and good conversation.
We were joined for lunch by Bruno, here to improve his English and, like Natascha, staying in a newly built cottage on the farm. You may rent a room or rent the cottage, check it out on Airbnb, and then you can really take your time as you take in the fabulous views and indeed everything else that goes on in this remarkably productive piece of West Cork.
- Just keeping this down the bottom (maybe the little piggies won’t see it). There are plans to add to the Loughbeg Range with rashers, sausages and puddings likely to appear in the near future.
|Walter, under glass.|
Monday, July 27, 2015
36 Hours in West CorkNot that I was counting!
I was thinking of Garrett Oliver, master brewer at New York’s Brooklyn Brewery, while I was eating lunch at Union Hall’s Coffee Shop last Thursday. Garrett related at the Ballymaloe LitFest how people, on first drinking one of his beers, tell him that it is so good it doesn't taste like beer. Garrett tells them, with some satisfaction, that what they have been drinking before is not real beer.
Well, here in Union Hall, our first call on our most recent trip to West Cork, I was eating real panini. I’m sure there are other good paninis out there but it is superb here, like nothing I've ever tasted before. It was packed with chicken, brie and pesto, all adding up to great flavours and terrific textures.
Having been in West Cork regularly, particularly this year, I were looking for one or two different things to see and do. West Cork obliged. Big time.
|Graveyard on Myross Island|
We got some great views of it as we took the narrow road, rising up above the water, heading for a bridge that would take us to the other side and down to the peace and calm of Castletownsend with its distinguishing tree in the middle of the street, acting as a roundabout.
|On the road above Reen Pier|
After all that activity, I felt we deserved a drink and knew just where to get it. On the way into Baltimore, we stopped at Casey’s Hotel. They have recently opened a microbrewery here and some of their Sherkin Lass Pale Ale went down a treat in the beautiful beer garden that overlooks the waters of Baltimore. They also do a red ale.
|Rolling hills of West Cork|
In the morning, we were down on the pier, hoping to get a place on one of the boats going out to see the dolphins and, hopefully, a whale or two. But we had no luck. The lesson here is to book in advance.
Down then to Old Creamery Cafe in Kilcrohane. This is a spanking clean spot with a menu of sandwiches, paninis, and salads and some home baking. We went for tea and some of that baking. I picked a Raspberry and Lemon Curd Sponge and those raspberries, fresh from the garden, were spectacularly juicy.
|Courtyard garden at Rolf's|
Refreshed now, we drove up the other side of this spectacular peninsula, heading for Durrus. Our stop though was at Ahakista to pay our respects to the three hundred plus victims of the Air India bombing disaster twenty years ago. Quite a few mementos, mainly wreaths, scattered here since the commemoration last June. Such a waste of life, such sadness.
|Megalithic tomb on Sheep's Head|
|Sweet! Old Creamery Cafe|
|Ahakista's Air India memorial|
See also: Pilgrim's Restaurant in Rosscarbery
Friday, August 29, 2014
So Creamy. Amazing Flavours
San Gimignano in Italy regards itself as a great ice-cream centre and, indeed, when I visited a few years back, boasted the World Champion among its narrow streets. The ice-cream there, fresh and full of fruit, is gorgeous (my cappuccino was not!) but I reckon Loughbeg Farm from Schull, in County Cork, has come up with a few world class contenders.
The farm is well known for its goats, under the care of Josephine (mainly!) and Walter Ryan-Purcell, and this ice-cream is based on goat’s milk but it also contains cow’s cream, along with sugar and egg yolk.
First came across these at the Schull Sunday Market a while back but now they are ready for public consumption and on sale at the Fresh From West Cork Stall in the English Market. Very Highly Recommended. Watch out San Gimignano!
|Watch out San Gimignano!|
My first tasting this week came from the Strawberry pot. I thought it was absolutely amazing, a great mix of milk, cream and fruit, more like a high class sorbet than a mere ice-cream.
Next up was the Banana! A total surprise, a delicious one. I thought the strawberry was good but this was magnificent, the true banana flavours shining through.
Anticipation was keen as I spooned out the Vanilla. But I needn't have worried! This is yet another beauty, a creamy flavoursome classic. Didn't get to sample the Chocolate but I'd bet my house on it, bet it is every bit as tasty as the others in the range.
This gorgeous range is really worth a try and I’m sure there are some chefs out there who could turn out fabulous desserts with it. Over to you!
Also available at Hegarty's Centra, Schull, and Field's SuperValu, Skibbereen
Monday, February 24, 2014
One Stall DinnerMarket Meal #7
This is the latest in a series of Market Meals. The difference here is that the meal comes from just one stall and that is the relatively new Fresh from West Cork initiative in the English Market, just opposite the renowned Chicken Inn.
And another difference is that I’ve had a bit of fun matching the four courses to beers. Since four beers is hardly enough for a growing boy, I’ve done it twice. Match One is with Cork beers while Match Two is with Porterhouse Beers.
Thanks to the ever patient Michael Creedon of Bradley's Off Licence for his knowledgeable help with selecting the beers but the final pick was mine! Don't want you going into North Main Street and blaming Michael if your local favourite is not on the list.
Back now to Fresh from West Cork. Walter Ryan-Purcell is the face behind this “cooperative” effort from the west and close to forty producers are represented so it wasn't that difficult to get enough for a four course dinner. Indeed there were many options.
It just illustrates that you can do all your food shopping in the English Market. Maybe not all at Fresh from West Cork - they don't do fresh fish, for example - but you’ll be spoilt for choice if you wander around the wider market
Starter: Union Hall Smoked Salmon with Lemon Labneh by McCarthy’s Natural Dairies.
Cork Beer: Green Bullet Ale (Mountain Man).
Porterhouse: Hersbrucker Pilsner.
The smoked salmon, served with a little salad, was quite rich and the creamy Labneh added to the texture. Might have been better served on a Ryvita cracker or similar. Both beers worked well though in different ways. The Ale added more flavour while the Pilsner, not lacking in flavour, provided a nice cutting edge, a contrast against all the creaminess. One up to the Porterhouse team!
Mains: Gubben Traditional Dry Cured Smoked Bacon with vegetables from Peter Ross.
Cork Beer: Blacks Black IPA (Blacks, Kinsale).
Porterhouse: An Brain Blásta Strong Ale.
The Gubbeen bacon, smoked and lightly peppered, was sensational, the star of the night. With its fantastic texture and flavour, it was out on its own. The beers were both good matches; the Black perhaps best taken with bacon on the palate, the PH between bites! An Brain Blásta (even at 7%abv) doesn't mean brain blaster. It is Irish for The Tasty Drop.
Cheese: Loughbeg Farm hard Goat Cheese with Yellow Zucchini Relish also by Loughbeg.
Cork Beer: Friar Weisse (Franciscan Well).
Porterhouse: Red Ale.
The gorgeous crumbly cheese didn't seem to be getting on too well with the spiced up relish. Until the Friar Weisse was introduced. The local wheat beer transformed the potential discord into a very edible treat. A terrific match. Porterhouse don't make a wheat beer and through no fault of its own their Red Ale couldn't quite replicate the feat of the Friar here. Still, it was a nice way to pass the longish interval to dessert. That makes it 1.5 each for the beer teams.
Dessert: Yummy Tummy’s Brownies with Glenilen Clotted Cream.
Cork Beer: Knockmedown Porter (Eight Degrees).
Porterhouse: Oyster Stout.
Let me get this straight. Yummy Tummy’s Brownies are ace. Glenilen Clotted Cream is ace. You're on a winner. Now, add Knockmedown Porter (Eight Degrees) and you have a jackpot combination! Irresistible! That gave the edge to the Cork beer team, 2.5 to 1.5. The Oyster Stout, a gem in its own right, didn't have quite the same impact in the sweet finale to a smashing West Cork dinner.