Showing posts with label Roscommon Lamb Festival. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Roscommon Lamb Festival. Show all posts

Friday, May 8, 2015

At Home in Gleeson’s Townhouse! Roscommon Lamb Festival.

At Home in Gleeson’s Townhouse!
Roscommon Lamb Festival.
When you stay in Gleeson's Townhouse in the middle of Roscommon, you get to meet the Gleesons. They, Mary and Eamonn, give you a big friendly welcome; you see them at breakfast, you see them in the bar, they'll help you out with news of what’s on and how to get there. And this kind of personal interaction, from their staff as well, was a delightful part of our mini-break in the town.

We had travelled up from Cork via Thurles, Roscrea, Birr and Athlone, a three hour trip if you don't make stops. But, of course, we did. First one was in Roscrea for lunch. In the Cosy Kitchen, at the back of SuperValu in the town, we had a smashing curry, very well presented and with a very friendly service. We paid fifty cent for an hour’s parking on the street but there is a large car park behind the supermarket.
The Join Our Boys Parade
On then towards Birr where we headed off the main road and over to Clonmacnoise. Had been meaning to visit here for  a long time and the account is here. Cut up then to Athlone and it was well into the afternoon by the time we reached Gleeson’s. Time enough though for a walkabout, that included a visit to the ruined Castle in the park. This is a big one and must have been very impressive in its heyday.

Preparations were going on in the park for the Lamb Festival. And much of Friday was dedicated to Join Our Boys, a locally founded charity to help families afflicted by Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Indeed, the Maltese Supper that we so enjoyed that evening in Gleeson’s was a major fundraiser for the boys and it was great to be there. We were slightly out of place though as most of the locals were wearing orange as a sign of support!
Super curry in Roscrea's Cozy Kitchen
One of the encouraging signs on the trip was the availability of Irish Craft Beer and Gleeson’s, who also run a food and wine shop next door, had a good selection in bottle and at least one of the bars in the town has quite a few on draught. We enjoyed a few from Roscommon's Black Donkey, a Poacher’s Pale Ale from Carrig Brewing (in nearby Drumshanbo, brewed where they once made Bo Peep jam, itself recently revived!) and of course we couldn't resist the familiar Kinsale Pale Ale.

Saturday was a bad day so we headed underground, and very much enjoyed our tour of the Arigna Mining Experience. Read all about it here. In the afternoon, we renewed acquaintance with Kevin Finnerty, the man behind the Percy French Festival in July and who has spent the last 19 years or so restoring Castlecoote House where we enjoyed a guided tour LINK
Lamb shanks, Maltese style
The rain did not relent as the night arrived and we had to get a taxi to the Brazilian Barbeque held in a large marquee in the grounds of Hannon’s Hotel. We arrived just as the first of the food was being served up from the grills (chefs undercover!) and it was a tasty plate of local lamb with salads and breads and more besides. The rain continued but the punters kept coming and the band played on.

More lamb related festivities, including sheepdog trials, on Sunday, mainly in the park but we were on our way home by then. Before we left though we had a great chat with Mary. We'll have to go back for another one and this time we'll just have to taste her famous Irish Lamb Stew.

See also: The Arigna Mining Experience
Castlecoote House
The Maltese Supper.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Maltese Supper. More than a Meal.

The Maltese Supper
More than a Meal.
Gleeson’s & Roscommon Support Join Our Boys
Butter beans, with garlic & parsley.
Malta met Roscommon last week as part of the Roscommon Lamb Festival.  In Dingli village, Malta, amongst the gnarled olive trees and low-hanging carob branches, there is a family run farm set in an idyllic valley on the sun-kissed island, producing some of Mediterranean’s finest and most iconic food, including olive oil and wine. The family are the Mifsuds, their project is called Diar il-Bniet and their restaurant on the farm uses only the produce of the farm.

Gleeson's Town House, members of Good Food Ireland, are recommended in all the guides and rightly so. The Gleesons met the Mifsuds in Malta and invited them over. Gleeson’s are an integral part of the town and it is no surprise that they are fully behind the Join Our Boys , a charity founded here last year. The supper was a fundraiser and so instead of paying for a ticket, you made a donation. By Sunday morning, over a thousand euro had been raised.
Calm before the supper.
The ultimate aim of Join Our Boys is to ensure a treatment or cure is found for this catastrophic disease in time to save the lives of Archie, George, Isaac and all the children in this generation diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. To be told that one of your children has a fatal disease, that currently has no treatment or cure, is devastating. To be told your three children (including your twins) have a fatal disease that currently has no treatment or cure is beyond comprehension; it is beyond words.

Virtually everyone in the town was dressed in orange for the fund-raising on Friday and we got to take part in a parade through Roscommon and out to the castle before we came back to Gleeson's for the supper.

Here we met some of the visiting Maltese, including Dorianne, Darren, Can and chef David. Dorianne and Can took us through the “starter” buffet and we enjoyed samples of their farm food.
Archie (at rear) with twins George and Isaac
pictured on the twins' 5th birthday cake in Gleeson's last Friday.
There was a delicious Baby Broad Bean Paste  which you took with a crispy biscuit (gallette). They had a peppered sheeps cheese and a plain one, both hard. Their own olives, marinated with Maltese garlic and parsley, were gorgeous and we also sampled the Goat Cheese Pie with Broad Beans. Perhaps my favourite was the Butter Beans with Garlic and Parsley. And there was no shortage of a superb Tomato Paste (known in Malta as Kunserva).

In between, there was entertainment and young Archie belted out a number on the drums and followed up with a some fast paced rap.

And no shortage of wine either with Willie Tindal on hand with a couple of excellent samples from the vast range of Tindal Wines, a Chenin Blanc/Viognier from South Africa and a Cabernet/Merlot from Australia.
Broadbean paste and olives

Mary dishing out the main course.
We didn't have to travel too far for the beer as local craft brewers Richard and Michaela from the Black Donkey brewery were there with their two beers - they hope to have another two before the end of the year. I sampled both. First up was the Sheep Stealer (5.5% ABV) a Belgian-style saison, ideal with food. The other was their amber ale, their own style: “not a hop bomb, this one’s a malt bomb”.

Main course was Braised Spicy Lamb Shanks, Maltese style of course, with salad, big green beans, tasty roast potatoes (with seeds). Overall, this was delicious and cooked to perfection. And their desserts didn't disappoint either, especially the Maltese almond biscuits. There was a whole table full of desserts, chocolate very much in evidence! We also had the chance to taste some of their lovely breads.
We're pictured here with Dorianne (left)
The Mifsuds contributed hugely over the weekend and their food was sampled again on the Sunday at the aptly named Global Village in the park, just one of many events (including of course, sheepdog trials) staged as part of the Lamb Festival, now a well established annual get-together.

With all the international cuisine available - we had a Brazilian Barbecue on the Saturday night - we never got to taste Mary Gleeson’s famous lamb stew. Next time Mary!