Showing posts with label Rosscarbery Recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rosscarbery Recipes. Show all posts

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Celtic Ross. Dinner Supreme in Kingfisher Brasserie


Celtic Ross. Dinner Supreme in Kingfisher Brasserie
Terrine
Spring roll
Had heard lots of good things about the Kingfisher Brasserie in the very popular Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery. And it was with great anticipation that we studied the menu, instantly encouraged by the stated commitment to local producers. 

Local drinks too and we sipped our Sherkin Lass Ale by the West Cork Brewery as we we went through our dining options. Earlier we had sampled two of the area’s spirits, whiskey from the West Cork Distillery in Skibbereen and gin from Beara.

So how could I not pick something from Rosscarbery for my meal? And I did, starting with a superb Ham Hock and Rosscarbery Black Pudding terrine (€8.50), with Jerusalem artichoke and shiitake piccalilli, wild garlic pesto, artichoke crisps. Superb. We shared. 

And we also shared the other opener, the Skeaghanore Duck Spring Roll (€8.95) Confit duck, carrot and apricot chutney, blue cheese, ruby red sauerkraut, cos lettuce. Thumbs up from each side of the table for the work of the kitchen under Shane Deane (Head Chef) and Alex Petit (Executive Chef) in this family owned hotel.

Chicken
Time now for the mains, chicken supreme. But not just any chicken supreme. Their Shannonvale Chicken Supreme Zaatar (€20.50) with Aniseed carrots, chickpea, harissa and golden raisin stew, minted chimichurri will have your taste buds dancing to a different beat. Supreme indeed!

The Irish Trout Fillet (€20.50) Crushed sweet potatoes, quinoa, sunflower seed and orange granola, wild garlic pesto, again illustrated that expertise and the little things (the quinoa, the seeds, the granola, the pesto) can make a delightful difference.

Sat back then for a wee spell and relaxed in our comfortable seats and after a chat with our friendly and informative server, decided to share the final round. The Citrus Plate (Yuzu curd, physalis drizzle cake, lemon sorbet, mint crème fraiche, lemon tuile) was tempting as was the West Cork Cheese plate (a collection of the classics) but the one we picked and enjoyed was the Medovik Cake Honey sponge, sour cream, caramelised walnuts, chocolate tuile.

Second drink!
All this in the split level brasserie, part of the adjoining eating areas here. You also have the option of choosing from the Kingfisher Bistro menu which includes starters such as Woodcock Smokery Smoked Haddock Tartare and mains like Seared Union Hall Brill. So no shortage of choice, no shortage of quality either.

Having finished the Medovik Cake, we stepped through the open door to the bar which was also busy and we took our ease as a trio of young fellows played some traditional music and one of them seemed set to crack the timbers with a dazzling display of Irish dancing. A relaxing end for us to an evening in Rosscarbery that had begun with a walk across the causeway and then down towards Warren Strand, watching the estuary birds eagerly feeding as we strolled. 

Rosscarbery
Co. Cork
Tel +353 (0)23 88 48722

Also on this 24-hour trip:
A day out with West Cork Farm Tours
Super Food at Ardfield's Mountain Bar

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Taste of the Week. Rosscarbery Irish Biltong


Taste of the Week
Rosscarbery Irish Biltong


You’re a person on the go. Playing stamina sapping games. Surfing. Climbing. Hill Climbing. Farming. Maybe you’re just hovering the stairs carpet. And you need a quick snack to boost those energy levels. Well, our latest Taste of the Week might interest you. The Irish Biltong by Rosscarbery Recipes is naturally high in protein, a great on the go snack made from 100% Angus beef. Just sea salt, organic raw cane sugar, toasted coriander, ground black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and dried Irish seaweed have been added to the beef.

The Allshires, the family behind Rosscarbery and Caherbeg Pork, are well known in West Cork and beyond and it was one of the younger members, son Maurice, who developed this product. Initially is was for himself. 

An active young man, he was unimpressed with the snacks available, certainly with those long lists of strange ingredients. “I needed something tasty, something that I could rely on with an ingredient list that a toddler could read.” And so he developed Rosscarbery Biltong around his own lifestyle. It took a while though but now it is widely available.

The beef has been cured and air dried and cut into small strips and the product comes ready to eat in a pocketable pack. Just put a piece on your tongue and allow the juices in your mouth to work their magic. The beef softens and you can chew away to your heart’s content. Another  strip or two and you’re ready to move that mountain, well climb that hill!

Caherbeg
Rosscarbery
Co. Cork

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Seasalt’s Good Start in Cobh


Seasalt’s Good Start in Cobh
Tart with two salads

If a good start is half the battle, then Cobh’s new café Seasalt is already winning. Jacqui O’Dea’s Casement Square daytime restaurant (9.00 to 5.00) has hit the ground running. And you’d better get a move on too as they are popular and busy. We were there on a bitterly cold and showery midweek day and it was packed at lunchtime, with some potential customers turned away.

So what’s it all about? It’s about good fresh food, sourced locally and cooked well by the Ballymaloe trained chef Jacqui. Amazingly, for the first time ever, a Cobh chef is offering the smoked salmon of Frank Hederman even though he is just out the road and has been supplying some of the world’s best outlets for 38 years! You may have the salmon in the morning and at midday, as Seasalt offer tempting Brunch and Lunch menus.
Hederman

And while Seasalt have lots of salads and veg on the menus, they have the Full Irish too, well at least the Rosscarbery Irish: two sausages, rashers, black pudding, sautéed spuds, roast tomato, two organic fried eggs and sourdough toast! Impressive.

And Frank Hederman’s salmon features on their Eggs Royale with two poached organic eggs and Hollandaise sauce on toasted Pana sourdough.
Window view

Having just escaped a heavy shower, we settled in for lunch and thought we’d warm up with their Mushroom Soup. It came in a colourful pot but I didn’t bother with a photo as the soup was so dark, not at all photogenic! But don’t judge a book by its cover! This was a splendid thick soup, a power-packed shot across the bows of the cold weather and probably the very best mushroom soup that we’ve ever tasted.

Orange Polenta
The menu changes weekly here, partly so regulars won’t get bored! I had been looking at the Cork Reuben as my main course. This consists of McCarthy’s Pastrami, house sauerkraut, pickles, with Edam cheese on Pana sourdough. 

In the end though I picked the Hederman Smoked Salmon that came with a salad, plus a helping of apple and fennel, all on a base of their own very tasty brown bread. Very happy with that, the crunch of the bread, the apple and the smoothness and precision of the smoked fish, just perfect.

CL meanwhile was enjoying her Tart of the Day with two salads, a puff pastry base loaded with roasted vegetables (aubergine and courgette) and much the same salads that I had. Another good mix of textures and flavours, not to mention the attractive colours. These were both specials. Aside from the Pastrami, they also had Croque Madame, a Cauliflower Dahl, and a Macroom Halloumi Salad to choose from.

Would we have dessert? Hummed and hawed a bit but once we took a closer look at the counter, all resistance faded. And, along with a couple of cups of the Badger and Dodo coffee, we enjoyed an Orange and Polenta Cake and also a Lemon Slice. 

The sun has been shining while we ate and for a few minutes after we left. But soon we had to pick up “speed” as another shower coming from the city threatened. Just made it back to the Five Foot Walk car park.

17 Casement Square
Cobh.
Call: 086 085 1650

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Finns’ Table Highlights Kinsale Can-do Attitude. Especially when it come to food!


Finns’ Table Highlights Kinsale Can-do Attitude
Especially when it comes to food!
Beef Brisket Croquette

Kinsale’s renowned Good Food Circle seem to have backed a winner with their Restaurant Week. The place is abuzz as was Finns’ Table when we walked in there around 7.00pm last Monday. We hadn’t met Julie and chef John with quite a while so it was great to take the opportunity to eat, drink and chat in such a lovely and lively spot.


Julie had reserved the “Love Table” for us, knowing that we were celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary. So we sipped our Veuve Clicquot and soon we were tucking into two delightful mini-loaves from John’s kitchen, a treacle bread and also a potato bread, each different, both delicious.

So, what do they give you for your twenty euro? A choice of four starters and four mains, all really top class. One starter was Mushrooms on toast, crispy hen’s egg and Hollandaise sauce, another was Jerusalem Artichoke soup with honey, almond and rosemary granola.

Not easy to turn down either of those but I picked the Braised Irish Beef Brisket Croquet with celeriac remoulade and horseradish cream. The packed croquet was full of flavour, the remoulade and cream the perfect partners. CL spotted that the local mussels (from nearby Oysterhaven) were enhanced with coconut, coriander, ginger and lemongrass. Oh, the steamed bivalves have rarely been so well accompanied in a bowl.

Joseph Mellot wines from Sancerre - we would meet Olivier from the winery later on in the evening - were produced and much appreciated as the lovely occasion unfolded.

So what would we have for mains?  The quartet on offer were all very tempting indeed. There was a Confit Duck Leg, slow cooked, with Rosscarbery black pudding, and cider braised lentils and also a Vegetarian Wellington (Uncle Tom’s Turnip, Sweet Potato and Bandon Vale Cheddar). 

The Irish Lamb Tasting plate was CL’s choice: Roast Rump, Slow Cooked Neck and Braised Shoulder, with Fondant Potato and Jus. We swapped wines at this point with CL taking the Pinot Noir and I taking the Sauvignon Blanc. The SB proved a perfect match with the exquisite Seafood Bourride, a Provencal style fish stew containing lightly poached local fish and shellfish in saffron broth with garlic aioli and herbs, a delightful  mix of flavours and aromas.
Bourride

I’ve often thought that it is the small things on your plate that can indicate a chef’s skill. And what caught our attention here, in the most delightful way, was the side of Mixed Garden vegetables. No exotic veg included but excellent stuff, superbly cooked and a pure delight on the palate. Still wondering what little extra magic he added here. 

Fair play to the Finns. Since moving to Kinsale from nearby Timoleague about six years ago they have played a full role in the Good Food Circle, as indeed do all the members. Bookings have been brisk for this week’s combined venture and you may find it too late to reserve a place in some venues. 

But two excellent courses for just twenty euro is well worth checking out. The full list involved is: Actons Hotel, The Blue Haven, The Bulman, Jim Edwards, Finns’ Table, Fishy Fishy, Man Friday, The Supper Club, The Trident Hotel, The White House, and The White Lady. The week opened on the 18th and closes on the 24th - no time to lose!
Lamb

The big event for the Good Food Circle comes every October when the annual Gourmet Festival takes place. Dates this year, for the 43rd running of this famous and fun event, are 11th to 13th of October. And, believe it or not, bookings can now be made. Check "Kinsale Good Food Circle - 43rd Kinsale Gourmet Festival”  for further info.

Before that though, the Good Food Circle will host the national Chowder Championships in April with a street food festival on the same weekend (6/7 April 2019). 

Cast Your Vote in the 9th All-Ireland Chowder Cook-Off on Sunday 7th April.  Kinsale Good Food Circle want your help to find the best chowder chef in Ireland. A representative from each of the 32 counties will compete for the title of “All-Ireland Chowder Champion” at the annual All-Ireland Chowder Cook-Off. Everyone attending the event will have a chance to vote for their favourite chowder-chef. The food festival in the streets will be held on the Saturday (6th).

FINNS' TABLE, 6 MAIN STREET, KINSALE. 
Phone:  021 4709636


Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Feast of Small Plates at Ferrit & Lee. The Dynamic Duo of Distillery Walk.


A Feast of Small Plates at Ferrit & Lee

The Dynamic Duo of Distillery Walk.
Salud
Small was beautiful at Ferrit & Lee on Wednesday night when the Midleton restaurant used local produce to skilfully illustrate the theme over three plates, Chefs and owners, Pat Ferriter and Stephen Lee humbly took a bow at the end of delicious meal, enhanced by wines from Liberty Wines and served with a smile by the totally efficient front of house team.

It was a full house when we started at 7.30 with a welcoming glass of the very drinkable House Sangria. In keeping with the festive aspect of the event, Clare and her crew were quite flexible with the wines. If you didn’t fancy the Sangria, you were offered wine instead and if if didn’t like white wine, you were offered red (and vice versa).

The first plate had four elements. The crisp Calamari rings were cooked to perfection and came with a very impressive spiced tomato sauce. The Ballycotton Crab with Jameson, Ginger and lime cured salmon was served on lettuce leaves, another well considered treat.


Plate 1
They kept coming. The Ardsallagh Feta was accompanied by the most flavoursome Beetroot tartare. And then the Beef and Organic Ballinrostig Smoked Cheese croquette looked small but tasted big, terrific beef and a major contribution from the local cheese.

Soon we were tucking into Plate No. 2, again with four offerings. The first, well the first I tried, was the East Ferry Farm Confit Duck Leg Spring Roll. Don’t think you’ll find better. Courgettes are very much in season as I know from the back garden and they featured with Ardsallagh Goat’s Cheese, Red Pepper and Pine Nut Bruschetta in a delicious combination. Jane Murphy (and her goats) has to be one of our top food heroes!

The second quartet

Next up was the Ballycotton Smoked Mackerel and Horseradish Croquette. The flavour here was outstanding. And we finished the savoury bites with the excellent Ham-hock and Rosscarbery Black Pudding Terrine, served with an outstanding Apple Chutney.

It was all good really and the high standard was  maintained right to the sweet end, three not-so-mini desserts! I began with the Strawberry and Custard Cream Shortbread, a little stack of deliciousness.  The Lemon Posset with Foraged Blackberry Compote was a lovely combination and that was followed by the knockout Royal Chocolate Mousse with hazelnut praline.
The sweet ones!

Tapas are generally associated with Spain and the country was well represented by the Liberty wines on the night. The white was the Castano organic Macabeo 2017 and the red, also Castano, was an organic Monastrell 2017 and we had started with the Sangria of course. A good start and a good finish and excellent in between. Ferriter and Lee are quite a duo in the kitchen. Catch them at Distillery Walk!

Feast builds up to a major climax this weekend. See the full programme here




Monday, December 4, 2017

Taste of the Week Special from On The Pig's Back. Celebrating Spiced Beef

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!
Over 12 cafés are supporting the week so those south and west of the city won't be short of spiced beef choices either. Check out the Lemon Leaf Café in Kinsale, the award winning Kalbo’s in Skibbereen, the Riverside also in Skibb, the Stuffed Olive in Bantry and URRU on the banks of the river in Bandon. 

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, December 2, 2017

Meet The Producers. All Winners at Blas2017 in Dingle

Meet The Producers
All Winners at Blas2017 in Dingle

(This is Part Two on the evening in the bank. See Part One here.)
Aoife of Galtee Honey

Bank of Ireland Startups, who helped get the successful Backyard feature off the ground during this year’s Blas Awards in Dingle, hosted a number of follow-up events last Tuesday, including one at their premises in Patrick Street, Cork. Joe McNamee was the moderator for the evening and the principal speakers were Artie Clifford of Blas and local chef Kate Lawlor. After the welcome and introductions, Joe asked Aoife of Galtee Honey Farm  to tell her story.

Aoife was brought into bee-keeping by her father and she said provenance was very important. “Genuine Irish honey has great flavour and complexity. It is because of our great bio-diversity, different flowers, different flavours. The native Irish black bees are under threat and we as a group are trying to preserve them”.

“Labelling is a problem, the public can be misled quite easily. Do check the label. Blas can help with awareness. Quality will cost more so Irish will cost more. This summer was great, we won't be running out of honey before the next harvest.”

Francis, a West Cork man, is with North Cork Creameries. “It is a small co-op, one of the originals. We sell milk and butter under our Kanturk brand and we also supply Supervalu. The butter is available in the Kanturk area and in Supervalus in the region generally.” Joe added that a lot of the milk in the supermarkets is not coming from the cattle you see grazing in the Republic’s fields but from indoor herds across the border.
Francis of North Cork Creameries


All of the producer speakers were winners at Blas 2017 and Avril, representing Caherbeg Pork, Ross-carbery Recipes,  and, most recently, Rosscarbery Biltong, is no stranger to Blas awards. 

Son Maurice is following in her footsteps with the Biltong, a dried beef product of African origin. Indeed, the machines used in West Cork are from Africa. Both Maurice and brother William are big into fitness and that inspired the move. He wouldn't be an Allshire if he didn't focus on quality and he does. Had a taste the other evening and no wonder it won a silver in Dingle. Seaweed and spice have been added and it is a handy and well priced packet.
Avril (Rosscarbery Recipes) and, right, Kate Lawlor

Avril just loves Blas and Dingle: “Food is at the core of it but the people make it. You are never on your own.”

More butter, but with a twist, as Mary and Billy from Waterford took to the stage with their Irish Gourmet Butter. They are in the early stages of development but still advanced enough to feature in Dingle where their Garlic & Herb stood out. Their butter is flavoured: cranberry and orange and Cointreau (have it with the Christmas pud) and cinnamon and honey (ideal on French Toast) are two examples. They are building on a long family tradition as Granny was an All-Ireland Butter Champion so food is in the family.
Artie and Tom Durcan (right)

Tom Durcan is a spice beef master and the Corkman is a huge supporter of the Blas Awards. “When I won in Blas, I milked it, got great contracts from it. It is definitely the most honest food competition going. To win, or even to be a finalist, opens doors. Do something, do it right, the world’s your oyster. Blas is a fantastic road for anyone in food to take. Great help available there. Thanks to Artie and to everyone involved.”

Sarah from Nut Case hasn't got quite the long experience of Tom but she too acknowledged the value of Blas. Their nut burger won gold this year. “It makes such a difference to us when we call to the shops.” We is Sarah and husband Mick who, in 2006, was made redundant. But he then took the 12-week course in Ballymaloe and they began checking their aunt’s nut business in the UK.
Sarah of Nut Case

They started Nut Case with a Nut Roast but after entering the SuperValu Academy found that their burger was outselling the roast. So they concentrated on the burger and their judgement was confirmed with that gold in Dingle. It is popular and they have many repeat customers. They place great value too on Farmers Markets, learning from the feed back.

“It is still early days, still doing it all by hand. Very time consuming but very satisfying. We are now included on the Body Chef menu so it’s a good success story for us”.

Joe McNamee then asked Kate Lawlor if she had any concerns for the Irish food story and she pointed to misleading labels and Artie agreed. They both hope that education in food, from an early age, can help counter this problem. And both agreed that if your product is being misrepresented, that you are fully entitled to shout long and loud about it.

Mary and Billy of Gourmet Butter
talk to Joe McNamee (left)
But McNamee wanted to finish on a positive note and prompted the main pair. Kate: “We are getting known for our food culture. We are value for money. We need to keep the small suppliers going. It is an exciting time.”

Artie: “I’d like to see it continue as it’s going, state agencies and producer groups pulling together. We have the raw ingredients and they are now being better used, the freshest, the best, all driven by passion, our biggest selling point. From bar food to silver service, the quality of Irish food is high and can improve even further.”

Reckon Joe got his wish there. And we had all seen the passion from the producers on the night. Consumers are key too. Check that label and buy local, fresh and fair. The more we pull together the further we can go.

This is Part Two on the evening in the bank. See Part One here.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Winning Blas Producers at Bank of Ireland Food Series

Winning Blas Producers 
at Bank of Ireland Food Series
Rosscarbery producer Avril Allshire with moderator Joe McNamee

Bank of Ireland Startups, who helped get the successful Backyard feature off the ground during this year’s Blas Awards in Dingle, hosted a number of follow-up events last Tuesday, including one at their premises in Patrick Street, Cork. Joe McNamee was the moderator for the evening and the principal speakers were Artie Clifford of Blas and local chef Kate Lawlor.

Lia Boyland was involved in setting up the latest Workbench Food Series Event and she welcomed us to the Workspace at the bank, explaining that the digital progress in the banking sector has freed up the space for “events like this evening”. Work spaces are available during the day - bring your laptop - and you'd never know who you might meet.

We knew though we were going to meet Artie as not alone was he a panel member but he also launching the 4th edition of the Blas na hEireann Buyers Directory.  Artie, involved in the founding of the Dingle Food Festival eleven years ago and in setting up Blas a year later, was delighted to launch the book here.

“Thank you all for coming. Eight thousand inserts (from the 10,000 copies) will be coming with your Shelflife magazine. It makes it easy for buyers and chefs to find good Irish produce. There is no charge for inclusion - it is something we want to give back. We hope this is a useful guide for sourcing Irish products and that many of the producers listed here will become your suppliers of tomorrow.”

There is a lot of work going into the new Blas website and it will include a searchable catalogue of producers, and will be ready soon. “Next, we want to do a roadshow during the year to build on it, to talk among ourselves, producers, buyers, chefs, and to get our own solutions.”

We would soon find out more about Artie, the face of Blas, as Joe McNamee asked the questions before the discussion proper (which would include quite a few producers) began. Artie, from Dundalk, was a commercial fisherman, then a ship's engineer and a skipper. In 1992, the work was in Dingle so that was where he went, his family still in Dundalk before they eventually joined him in Kerry.

Later, Artie worked in a  fish factory, most of the output for export. When the MD retired, Artie took over and looked at adding value: smoked fish, paté, chowder and so on for the home market. But costs went up, prices didn't and eventually, in 2010, the company was sold. By then Blas was just a little baby and Artie was making a few bob at Farmers Markets.

And his future then began to take shape. He told us about the first food festival in Dingle and the start of the famous Taste Trail there. “People came back year on year. In the second year of the festival, the awards became part of it and we worked hand in hand.” 

Chef Kate Lawlor was the other main guest on the night and, like Artie, she too has had her ups and downs and is fully committed to using Irish produce. An early visit to Brussels with her CIT class inspired that commitment. They were there to promote Irish food and a belief took hold that it was as good as any. She joined Fenn's Quay in 2001 and that “amazing journey” included taking it over in 2008. 

“We built a bond with local producers. I enjoy food, it should be fun and that was why I used some of the local slang on the menu. Sad to let it go this year but the producers are still talking to me.”

Artie Clifford

After the closing down of Fenn's Quay earlier this year, she took a much needed two month break - “I had run out of ideas, though there was a sense of satisfaction as well as sadness. I enjoyed the two months off and a highlight was the weekend in Dingle. This year I had the time to relax and enjoy it.”

Immediately afterwards she joined the newly reopened Oyster Tavern and the aim is to get it back to its “iconic status”. There are great young chefs there and Kate is just the person to help them. It is right alongside the market so she is back in there buying local again. “The connection  between chef and producers in very important. It leads to personal relationships and a better understanding of the product.”

After the introductions, it was time to meet the producers and we’ll cover the interesting exchanges in the next post, now available here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

A Taste of West Cork Guide. Kate Brings It All Together

A Taste of West Cork Guide

Kate Brings It All Together
Ross with Sally Barnes
In West Cork, there are scores of good food producers, one down every lane, up every boreen. But which road, which village? Where do you find them when you want them? The answer is now quite simple: buy a copy of the Artisan Food Guide, just published by A Taste of West Cork Food Festival. 

The 80-page guide, edited by Kate Ryan, was launched by Michelin chef Ross Lewis (Chapter One) in Vertigo, the top floor of the County Hall, last week. Ross said good cooking begins with good shopping and this guide will help you do some great shopping.

And indeed, guests arriving in Vertigo were able to sample some of the produce from the likes of Ummera, Rosscarberry Recipes, Durrus Cheese, Hungry Crow Chocolates, Sally Barnes (Woodcock Smokery), Glenilen, Skeaghanore, Gubbeen, West Cork Pies, and West Cork Olives.

Helen Collins, chairperson of the A Taste of West Cork Festival for the past four years, welcomed the guests and other speakers. She extended a big thanks you to Tim Lucey, Chief Executive Cork County Council for his unwavering support, to outgoing Mayor of Cork County Seamus McGrath, another great supporter.

And, of course, she had a huge welcome for Ross Lewis, the chef who grew up in the area around the County Hall itself. Ross has dined in some of the world's finest restaurants but that doesn't stop him from enjoying the best of local (he had earlier lunched on lamb stew and floury potatoes in The Farmgate). He repeated his high regard for artisan producers - they are not in for the money - and that regard is well documented in his book "Chapter One- An Irish Food Story”.

Helen told us that the guide author Kate Ryan is Bristol born but has been living in Clonakilty for the past ten years. She is well known on the food scene through her blog flavour.ie, through her Clonakilty Walking Food Tour  (Failte Ireland approved, by the way!) and her willingness to get involved in local endeavours.

Clockwise from top left: Mayor Seamus McGrath, Helen Collins,
Ross Lewis and Tim Lucey

Another Ummera product
The book could easily have been just a list of the producers but is much more than that. West Cork is a big place so Kate decided to use some natural divisions, eg The Beara Peninsula, as chapter headings. So yes, of course, the producers are listed with some detail (including contacts and if visits are possible). Listed also are specialist food shops and local farmers markets. And, importantly, from a tourist point of view, she suggests itineraries to follow.

Let us illustrate her “scheme” by using the Clonakilty section as an example. So, you're an English or French foodie and newly arrived. Where to start? Spend a fiver on this book and you’ll see Clonakilty and its neighbours Timoleague, Dunworley and Rosscarberry.
Hungry Crow Chocolates, the bigger ones have dates and figs inside!

There are no less than 21 local food producers here including well known ones such as Ummera and Rosscarberry Recipes, lesser known such as Clonakilty Homemade Ice-cream and Devoy’s Organic Farm.

You can read which places are open to visitors and plan your own food journey. Or perhaps you’d like to rely on Kate's suggestions which starts with Ummera in Timoleague and ends with Bushy’s Strawberries in Rosscarberry. In between, you’ll visit The Baking Emporium, Camus Farm and Clonakilty Chocolate and more, maybe even a tour with Kate herself. After all that, you may well make Dunworley Cottage your overnight stay. And that's just one section!

The book will be an ideal "guide" to the Festival itself which takes place this year from 8th-17th September, with over 180 culinary and adventure events taking place across the region’s 33 towns and villages and 9 islands.  Visitors will find a foodie’s paradise, with several national and international chefs preparing culinary-themed feasts in local restaurants, food tastings al fresco, foraging walks, open-air markets, seminars, cook-offs, masterclasses and intimate evenings with local artisan food producers imparting their culinary wisdom.

As I said, West Cork is a large area, so much to see and do, so much good stuff to eat and drink!