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Monday, August 6, 2018
Taste of the Week
Cratloe Hills Sheep Cheese
Bought a small wedge of Mature Cratloe Hills Sheep Cheese in On The Pig’s Back on a recent Saturday. Should have bought more of this exquisite cheese, our Taste of the Week.
The story of Cratloe Hills cheese began in the mid 80s when Sean and Deirdre Fitzgerald began making it in County Clare on their Cratloe farm that overlooks the Shannon.
It is a delicious, full-bodied, intricate blend of tastes with layers of flavours. This is quite an experience as they say themselves: “…each bite brings more hints of butterscotch and burnt caramel come to the fore”.
With such a tide of sophisticated flavour from the cheese on its own, you hardly need anything by way of accompaniment. I did try a gorgeous artisan-made Confiture Cerise Noire (from Sheridan’s) as this type of jam is often served with sheeps cheese in the Basque region.
And while the combination is pleasant, I’d say the Cratloe is possibly best on its own. By the way, if you think you’d like something with it and can’t get your hands on the Confiture, then Follain’s Loganberry Jam is a good substitute.
The Clare product is 100% sheep's milk using only a vegetarian starter, rennet and salt. It is a natural product manufactured in a traditional way with no additives or flavours.
Thursday, May 31, 2018
Leisurely Tour and Tasting at Cotton Ball Micro-Brewery
|Eoin (right) starts the tour.|
The sun shone as members (and guests) of the Munster Wine & Dine gathered at the Cotton Ball for a leisurely tour of and tasting at the pub’s own micro-brewery. The brewery was founded by the Lynch family less than five years ago yet they’ve outgrown the original brewery and have moved into a new one in their Mayfield (Cork) premises.
The old brewery is being wound down, our guide Eoin Lynch told us, but is still being used for some brews, including their Lynch’s Stout. He is delighted with the “huge difference in space” afforded them by the new facility.
They also have their own mill, the grain coming from Togher. Speciality malts are imported, mainly from Europe, and we had some fun smelling the many aromas.
|Speciality malt, from Belgium|
Someone asked what’s the most popular beer. Eoin: “Most of the beer in the world is lager. Craft or not, you can’t ignore that. It is a very competitive market with more and more craft breweries opening. We use tip top ingredients here but labour is the big cost!”
They have almost tripled batch size with the new facility. “But we still need to balance demand, not to get too far ahead. You don’t want product sitting around.” And he confirmed, in response to a question, that draught does indeed taste better. One of the reasons is that most bottles are filtered for “shelf life purposes”.
He showed us some of their kit, including the bottling line, capable of doing 1,000 bottles an hour. A new keg wash means they put through three kegs at a time instead of one previously.
Now it was time to sit down in the Brewery Room, pay tribute to the bar founder, one Humphrey Lynch, Eoin’s great-grandfather, who left Ballyvourney at 15 years of age and settled in an American town known as Byefield which he later used in naming his Cork estate house.
After working for two years with Joseph Longfellow, cousin to the famous poet, he worked for a year in the ship yard at Newburyport until the American civil war broke out.
He was one of the first to enlist in the 4th U.S regiment light artillery battery and served through 27 general engagements principally in the army of the southwest and along the Mississippi valley. Then he worked for 14 years as a foreman of the picker room in Newburyport cotton mill.
This would later give him the name of a public house he purchased in Baile na mBocht (now Mayfield) after returning to Ireland in 1870’s. Nowadays, each bottle from the new brewery pays tribute to the man who made it all possible, bearing an image of American Civil War veteran Humphrey on the label.
|Keg washing facility|
We were on the draught though, five beers in all. And Isabelle Sheridan of On the Pig’s Back supplied the cheeses for the pairings. Generally, it seemed the stronger the beer, the stronger the cheese.
For instance, the lager and the easy drinking Indian Summer paired well with the Ardsallagh Feta, the Ale with Hegarty’s Cheddar, the Indian Pale Ale (with the Magnum hops, a favourite bittering hops here) with both the Cheddar and the Bleu D’Auvergne. The stout too matched up well with both the cheddar and the bleu. And Hegarty’s new comté style cheese called Teampallgeal was very popular across the board!
|A pint of Lynch's|
After that generous tasting, there was a pint “of your choice” for each guest and lots of chat as the evening wound down and I relaxed with a flavoursome pint of Lynch’s excellent stout.
Until the next time, which will be a mid-summer trip to the county on July 8th. Members are asked to keep an eye on their emails for details. Later in the year, we will be visiting The Mews in Baltimore and Longueville House in Mallow.
- A more detailed account of the soldier and entrepreneur Humphrey Lynch may be found here
- The Cotton Ball website is here.
- For more info on Munster Wine & Dine, click here
Monday, December 4, 2017
Taste of the Week Special from On The Pig's Back
A Celebration of Spiced Beef in Cork Cafés
Popped across the city to On the Pig’s Back in Douglas to start the Spiced Beef Week in Cork’s Character Cafes. Warm welcome and soon we were sitting at the table with two menus, the regular and the specials. The regular is packed with good things: Paté Plate; Charcuterie and Cheese Board; and a Terrine Plate. Quiche, Fish and Brisket all featured on the specials (see below).
Great choices indeed but where was that spiced beef, I'd come for? It turned out it was on the Sandwich Menu, the one we hadn't been offered. The spiced beef was fresh in from Jack McCarthy in Kanturk and is a regular on the menu here. It comes with perfectly matured fruity milky Brie de Meaux Nugier and is packed into delicious Arbutus Wholemeal slices, big but tender.
The whole combination, they don't reveal all the ingredients (super secret, I'm told), was absolutely perfect. There was a wee bowl of extras including broccoli florets, Feta cubes, sun-dried tomatoes, nuts etc and, all in all, it was five star food, dressed in humble garb, not that there was anything untidy at all about the presentation. Just goes to show that once the ingredients are fresh and when they are well handled and matched, that you can dine like a king for a fair price (€8.95 in this case).
And the same price too for our other sandwich: Chicken and Harissa Mayo with salad and roasted peppers, again on that magnificent Arbutus Wholemeal sourdough. Another excellent lunch. A top class munch. Other city restaurant participating in the Spiced Beef Week are Idaho Café and Nash 19. In Nash 19, they have great time for Derek McCarthy’s spiced beef.
|Monday's specials at On the Pig's Back whose store in|
the English Market is celebrating 25 years in business. Well done!
Well done to Failte Ireland food champion Ruth of URRU who has organised this (and previous) themed week. URRU serve Allshire's spiced beef and Ruth says that Maurice, producer of Rosscarbery Biltong, “is going to do something very special with it for us for the week".
Many of the Cork cafés will be using the Spiced Beef from the Chicken Inn in the English Market. They have been producing the famous beef for over fifty years now and Tim Mulcahy tells me they supply some of Cork’s finest independent cafés.
That list includes Idaho where the Quesadilla will be filled with Tim’s spiced beef, Monterey Jack cheese, pickles and French's mustard. “It's like a crispy New York deli taste, but using a spiced beef that is produced in Cork. Idaho Café love Tim Mulcahy's beef, moist, lightly but firmly spiced and evocative of Christmas and a proud history of food production in this city. €9 on the menu for that week!” Beat that boy!
Saturday, September 23, 2017
Culture Night 2017
|Isabelle busy at On the Pig's Back|
Progress is slow as we enter the English Market on Culture Night. Little by little, it becomes clear that there are two lines in the packed old building, one going one way, another going the other way, both going slow! But you want to turn? No bother. Crowds yes, but courtesy abounds. A smile and then a gap and you’re on your way.
|Tim and Jack McCarthy|
On our way to a plate of local food. Eat it a counter or from the top of a cask. Eat it with strangers, from Cong, from Conna, from Congo. Who knows? Who cares? The music plays. The conversations start, flow on, on the food, the new baby, the dog, the new house, the turkey sexer (yes, that came up too).
Time to move on. Like the Arc-de-Triomphe roundabout, it is easier to get out than in, particularly if you're not too pushed where you exit. We weren't. Where next? There a gang of steel drummers playing by Brown & Thomas, a circus in North Main Street.
|Justin introduces his Bertha's Revenge to|
Cllr Des Cahill, ex Lord Mayor
We had been in North Main Street earlier, at a very well attended wine tasting in Bradley’s. Music outside the door there too. Master of Wine Mick O’Connell was conducting the tasting on behalf of Findlater's, introducing new wines he has sourced for them. Some gems there, from Portugal and Crete and Bordeaux, though it looks as if the Roqueterre Reservé Carignan 2016 from the Languedoc was “flying out the door”.
Superb stop in Nash 19 in Prince's Street where our generous host was, as ever, Claire Nash. She had some of her local producers lined up. Rupert was there with his cool cider and warm apple brandy from Longueville House while Justin Green was tasting his amazing Bertha’s Revenge gin.
That same gin had been used by Jack and Tim McCarthy from Kanturk in their sausages (no shortage of those!) and of course you couldn't leave without tasting the black pudding.
|Thumbs up from Tim Mulcahy of the Chicken Inn|
And great too to meet Jane from Ardsallagh. Lots of new things going on there including her Feta style cheese and also her delicious creamy ash covered pyramid. She also had a selection of cheeses combined with a layer of chutney - the mango is superb. Watch out for these in SuperValu soon.
The evening had started for us with a visit to the lobby of the Metropole Hotel where another superb host, Sandra Murphy, welcomed the guests, including Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald. Haven had their delicious oysters both raw (with a tasty salsa) and cooked and the hotel laid on some excellent sushi. And of course, there was a glass of bubbles on hand as well, wine and Murphy’s Stout too.
After that it was out onto the street to join the good humoured crowds making their way on foot and on bus to the many events all over the city. What a night!
Sunday, July 30, 2017
Clayton’s Globe Goes Local
English Market a Tasty Source
As most of you know, there’s a new name on the Clayton Hotel in Lapp’s Quay. But do you know there is also a new focus on its renamed Globe Restaurant. That focus is local and much of the produce, including my flavourful Tom Durcan steak, is coming from the English Market.
The lunch menu is also very much a local one but we were there to sample the evening menu. As we studied the lists, we noticed they had a few craft beers on bottle and picked a familiar favourite, the Cotton Ball’s Indian Summer. Service was excellent throughout, very friendly. And that wasn't just us, as we spotted some great interaction with nearby tables, including one American group.
The menu highlights the English Market connection, especially with Tom Durcan (for beef), Kay O’Connell’s (for seafood), the Chicken Inn and On the Pig's Back (for cheese).
There was an Asian restaurant here before the Clayton took over and as it happened I picked an Asian starter: Spring Rolls (Vegetable spring rolls, pickled cucumber, soy and chilli dipping sauce). Very tasty indeed and just the right size as I knew a steak was to follow!
Meanwhile CL was enjoying her local and lovely Ardsallagh goats cheese in a roasted walnut crust, petit salad with sun blushed tomatoes and pomegranate.
You may check out the other starters, and indeed mains, online here.
My main event, cooked to perfection, was Chargrilled Irish ribeye, served with French fries (jacket potato was also an option), garnish salad, and no less than three sauces: garlic butter, pepper and whiskey sauces. The steak was full of flavour and delicious.
CL went for the Pan fried medallions of monkfish, served with a creamy lemon and basil risotto, finished with sun blushed tomatoes and fresh pesto. Again the fish was cooked to perfection and the risotto (quite a lot of it on the plate!) was also a delight, full of different yet complementary flavours.
After all that, we were close to full so agreed to share the dessert, a Classic Eton Mess (Fresh meringue pieces, soft berry fruits and freshly whipped dairy cream). Strawberries topped the big glass and quite a few were buried underneath as well. Very sweet,” said our server, encouragingly. And he was spot-on. Quite a finish to an impressive meal in a comfortable setting.
There are quite a few dining options in the Clayton, including what looks like a power-packed Vitality Breakfast, anytime from 6.30am! Lunch in the Globe starts at noon but all day you can enjoy a tea or coffee and some delicious pastry in the Red Bean Roastery in the Atrium. And if have a have an afternoon free and someone to spend it with, then Afternoon Tea is available, also in the Atrium. Enjoy!
Thursday, June 29, 2017
The Cork Character Café Series
supported by Taste Cork
A Celebration of Cork’s Summer Bounty
Cork Character Cafes across the county will be telling the next chapter in the Story of Cork Food from Sunday 2nd July – Saturday 8 July. This time the celebration is of “Cork’s Summer Bounty” through specially created, seasonal and local dishes, displays and storytelling.
It is peak summer in Ireland’s most southerly county. The ingredients these independently owned and committed cafes draw on come from the sea and shores spanning Castletownbere to Ballycotton; the wild hedgerows in every corner of the county and the fruits and vegetables cultivated by the many skilled small growers and bigger established farmers. All benefit from Cork’s long coastline, fertile fields and temperate climate. All are accessible, to locals and visitors alike, though the transformative skill of Cork’s food producers and everyday food providers like Lettercollum Kitchen Project and Sticky Bun in Clonakilty, Idaho Café and Nash 19 in Cork City, Urru in Bandon, The Old Blarney Post Office Café, The Stuffed Olive in Bantry, Kalbos in Skibbereen and Budds Ballydehob.
The Cork Character Café Series, led by owner of Urru Culinary Store and Failte Ireland food champion, Ruth Healy, aims to gradually build consumer awareness of what makes Cork food ‘Cork’ and to promote where people can access Cork food in its most authentic form. Throughout the year, the cafés will champion various themes in order to effectively showcase the outstanding variety of producers in Cork.
Rebecca O’Keeffe, Taste Cork, says “In honour of summer and all that it brings, the Cork Character Cafés are back to celebrate this wonderful season. We are delighted to support Ruth Healy’s initiative to tell Cork’s Food Story, and endeavour to work together with the great cafes of Cork to continuously connect the consumer with the seasons and our local produce”.
Participating cafes celebrating Cork’s Summer Bounty:
Urru Café & Culinary Store, Bandon
Urru will be sharing complimentary taster dishes during lunchtime showcasing Cork’s Summer Bounty, as well as creating a vibrant, live Cork Summer Bounty Display for touching, smelling and tasting.
Idaho Café, Cork City
“This summer, as every summer, we LOVE Cork strawberries.
We will be serving a simple sundae, using Cork strawberries, freshly baked shortbread and soft ice cream from our pop up ice cream bar.
We will also be serving a Cork version of the Niçoise salad - Ballycotton New Potatoes, Union Hall Smoked Tuna and our own hen's free range eggs, served with local leaves.
It is Cork on a plate, and we love celebrating the humble potato, especially at this time of year.” - Richard & Mairead Jacob, Idaho Café, Cork City
“Taste & savour the true taste of West Cork here at Budds, Ballydehob, this summer.
All our fresh produce comes from within a few miles of the restaurant which include:
- Bob Allen of Kilkilleen Organics
- Lea Miklody of Coolcaha gardens
- Tim York of Lisheen Organics
- Smoked meats and fine cheese from Gubbeen farm & smokehouse
- Smoked fish from Sally Barnes of Woodcock Smokery
- Cheeses from Milleens/ Durrus/ Macroom & Toonsbridge
- Fabulous meats from Walsh’s in Skibbereen, Hegarty’s in Schull & Twomey’s in Bantry
- Fresh fish from the fish station Skibbereen
We will be incorporating all these wonderful ingredients to create our daily changing menus throughout the summer and pairing them with local craft beers & cider.” - Jamie Budd, Budd’s Café & Restaurant, Ballydehob
|Lettercollum love their beetroot!|
The Old Blarney Post Office Café
“We will be showcasing our homemade Elderflower Cordial. Pop in to enjoy a range of delicious Elderflower drinks” – Lenka Forrest, The Old Blarney Post Office Cafe
Kalbos Café grow all their own salads, tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs & new potatoes which are all just coming into the kitchen now. Kalbos will be promoting them in lots of delicious salads next week.
Lettercollum Kitchen Project
“We will be celebrating beetroot - we have plenty growing in our garden!
We will be making beetroot soup, muffins, hummus, cakes and salads the special feature of the week.” – Karen Austin, Lettercollum Kitchen Project, Clonakilty
On the Pig’s Back
On the Pig’s Back will be featuring a delicious Strawberry, Mascarpone & Lime Tart on their menu during Summer Bounty Week.
Nash 19 will be showcasing the seasonal bounty of beautiful local salad leaves in all their natural and varied glory.
With details to follow from The Stuffed Olive (Bantry), Ali’s Kitchen (Cork City), and The Sticky Bun, (Clonakilty)
Share the online celebration via @corkcuisine and @tastecork on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and enjoy the actual celebration of Cork’s Summer Bounty in Cork Character Cafes from Sunday 2 July – Saturday 8 July.
About the Community of Cork Character Cafés
The community of Cork Character Cafes is evolving as the collective platform for sharing Cork’s distinctive, casual food and hospitality experiences. The Community is becoming progressively active on social media (#ThisIsCorkFood @corkcuisine), the Cork Character Café Series (specific Cork food themes on menus and activities in cafes) and pop up café experiences in novel venues across the year.
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
Bringing the Market together.
In 24 Days in 24 Ways, Smokehouse Sauce is bringing the English Market together. Together on a plate, that is.
Smokehouse Sauce, fast emerging as a favourite across Munster, is the guest trader for six weeks at the start-up stall in Cork’s English Market. Emma Kelly of Smokehouse: “The English Market is iconic, a quality place to shop for quality. Traders here know their growers and suppliers. There is an honesty here, now so important as people become more aware of the importance of sourcing.”
So the mission for Smokehouse is 24 Ways in 24 Days. That means changing the dish daily and Chef Stephen of Elbow Lane is the man putting it all together on the plate. The sauce was the brainchild of owner Conrad Howard and his daughter and has been perfected in the Elbow Lane kitchen. It is available across Munster Stores of Supervalu, in the Food Academy section, and also from independent butchers.
“It’s amazing to be here in the old heart of the city, to be collaborating with the English Market, promoting it and the traders,” enthuses Emma. A recent dish, the Ploughman’s Sandwich, with sauce of course, involved no less than four traders. Brown spelt bread from Hassett’s, Cheddar cheese from the Roughty Foodie, ham from the Chicken Inn, and salad from Superfruit, lunch for just four euro!
Before that, they featured Smoked Pork Empanadas, the pork supplied by Ken and Helen of the Meat Centre who have been trading here for 37 years. The package also included an apple and courgette salad and smokehouse sauce (of course!).
|Tom Durcan's Spiced Beef, Hassett's Rye Bread,|
Sauerkraut and Coolea Cheese from
On The Pig's Back
And the versatility of the sauce was again underlined with On The Pig's Back goats cheese bon bons, with pearl barley, pea sprout and beetroot leaf salad and Smokehouse Sauce dressing. Day Three was an interesting one: Ham hock and scallion terrine (using meat from Bresnan's Butchers), with Smokehouse Sauce and homemade red cabbage slaw. And it’s not just meat. Cod from Kay O’Connell’s was used in delicious frittatas and enhanced with the sauce.
“There is a hard-to-match quality here in the market. We want to highlight that and support local at the same time, by combining traditional meats with modern flavours. The sauce itself is tomato based and may be used as a dip, a relish and as a marinade. It is extremely versatile. Use it with grilled, roast or cold meats, fish, cheese and vegetables.”
|Aoife and Chris at the Smokehouse stall|
So what is today’s dish? Check it out on their Facebook page by all means but do call in and try it out! And you must see their lively video celebrating the sauce and its arrival in the Market. Here's the link
For more on the Smokehouse Sauce, including recipes and stockists, check the website here.
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Taste of the Week.
A Double Delight
A Double Delight
Monday, September 15, 2014
Flight to the Top for Bee Sensations
Irish Quality Food Awards 2014.
Great to be at the table with Bee Sensations last Friday evening when one of their lovely jams won at the Irish Quality Food Awards 2014. On the Pig’s Back and Burren Salmon were also among the victors on a night which is mainly for the supermarkets and the larger producers (such as Dale Farm Dairies, ABP Cahir, Kepak, and O’Brien Fine Foods who were all on the podium).
Munster based Bee Sensations are a husband and wife company, run by Tom and Croéin Ruttle. They are quite famous for their innovative (often blended) jams, which use honey instead of sugar, and of course for their honey. As it happened it was one of their jams, the Honeyed Fig, Rhubarb and Chilli Savoury Jam, that struck gold in the Grocery Ambient - Savoury class.
But there was a moment of unnecessary drama before the win was confirmed as apparently the wrong class was called out first. Still, the busy couple were soon able to relax as their name appeared on screen. It was about the only obvious hitch in a very slick presentation, introduced by Paul Kennedy and compered by celebrity chef Catherine Fulvio (“a farmer’s daughter”).
Birgitta Curtin is one of the heroes of Irish food and she keeps innovating and winning. Her success came in the Fish section where her Burren Smoked Irish Organic Salmon with Seaweed Marinade came out on top. This came in for high praise from the judges: “really fantastic in terms of colour, texture and flavour”. Like Bee Sensations (and unlike most of the other producers), she didn't have a supermarket partner listed.
|Olivia, of An Olivia Chocolate, and, sister Emily (left)|
But Cobh’s Deirdre Hilliard and her company Just Food weren't as fortunate in the Soups section. Her HiLo Super Greens Soup was behind a Lidl Ireland soup, Newgate Tomato Soup by Princes (the international food and drink company).
The cross-border event is labelled Irish Quality Food Awards not Quality Irish Food Awards. There is a difference as we all know from small print on food packaging! Honey is one often quoted example.
Cork’s Isabelle Sheridan of On the Pig's Back certainly enjoyed her trip to the Mansion House as she was named the Supervalu Small Producer of the Year. Based on her French family recipes, Isabelle has been making chicken liver patés and terrines in Cork since 1995. Her Chicken Liver Paté with Garlic and Brandy is the product that led to this breakthrough and the organisers say they are sure “it will be a fantastic addition to Supervalu’s product line and look forward to working with On the Pig’s Back”. Well done Isabelle.
|Yours truly with Isabelle Sheridan (On The Pig's Back)|
Blas na hEireann update on Bee Sensations July 2015 here
Monday, April 14, 2014
Talk of the Tongue
International Wine and Food Society Event
|The Tongue (left) and more from last Thursday's Celebrating Local Tastes.|
“Celebrating Local Tastes” was the title of the first outing for 2014 of the Munster Branch of the International Wine and Food Society. Held at L'Atitude 51 (1 Union Quay), it turned into an absorbing evening with suppliers Frank Hederman, Jack McCarthy, On the Pig’s Back and Eve’s Chocolates taking the opportunity to showcase their impressive wares while the whole event was enhanced by some well chosen words, not to mention well chosen wines*, by our hostess Beverly Mathews.
First up was smoker Frank Hederman: “Our smokehouse food is made very simply using salt and smoke as natural preservatives to enhance very beautiful Irish raw materials. We are in the condiment business, simply adding flavour, creating new taste experiences and memories using age-old, natural techniques.”
Most of us are familiar with his famous smoked salmon and mackerel, maybe even with the smoked mussels. Lately he has produced smoked butter and on Thursday last introduced us to the new smoked Creme Fraiche. If you see it, buy it!
Then it was the turn of On the Pig's Back and Maria Perez concentrated on their cheeses and demonstrated a terrific variety of flavours using Ardsallagh, Ardrahan and Crozier Blue, among others, to make the point that local cheeses are absolutely first class, capable of holding their own in any company.
One man who can certainly do that is Kanturk butcher Jack McCarthy. He came laden with generous plates of his fabulous charcuterie, Irish charcuterie he emphasized, maybe even Duhallow charcuterie!
On Thursday last, he had quite a selection, including his Italian style copa. Then he introduced his Sliabh Luachra, an air dried beef for which they have been named Nationality Speciality Champions. We thought that was good but what really set us talking was his Tongue. It brought memories back for many (of a certain age!) but everyone was talking about it in a most complimentary way!
Had to finish off this excellent evening with something sweet and that was supplied by Jill from Eve’s Chocolates. “Eve’s”, she said, “is one of Cork's best kept secrets”. But that is not how they want it. So do go and visit them at Eve's Chocolate Shop, 8 College Commercial Park, Magazine Road, Cork. If you go this week, watch out as you could be falling over eggs and bunnies or they may be falling over you. Death by chocolate!
The Wine and Food Society are planning their next outing and if you would like to become a member then contact Aoife (treasurer) firstname.lastname@example.org. Other officers are Richie Scott (assistant treasurer), Beverley Matthews (secretary) and Greg Canty (chairman)
*The wines were:
Valdespino, Manzanilla Deliciosa "En Rama" (unfiltered)
Pipoli Greco Fiano from Basilicata (Southern Italy) 2011
Chateau Ste. Eulalie "La Cantilene" from Minervois La Laviniere 2009