Wednesday, June 6, 2018
Taste of the Week
Ruth Healy has long been an unofficial champion of local food and, in recent years, she’s actually an official food champion, a Failte Ireland Food Champion.
Failte say: Ruth Healy brings people together – shopkeepers, sellers, producers, restaurateurs, eaters – and she champions the food of West Cork by providing the link. A pivotal member of Slowfood West Cork, a founder of Bandon Farmers Market and Bandon Food Trail, the centre of all her activity is her ‘Culinary Store’ URRU.
Ruth’s shop in Bandon, URRU, is well stocked with the best of Irish, the best of local. So it was no surprise when I picked up a jar of honey, it was from Bandon and produced by Robert McCutcheon and his bees. Can’t get more local than that!
It is marked with the seal of the Federation of Irish Beekeepers Associations and it is pretty good stuff, full of flavour with a great viscous texture, and is our Taste of the Week.
Monday, May 7, 2018
A Couple of Days in West Cork Syrian Food. Manning’s Emporium. An Eagle’s Nest. Burgundy on the Beach. Room with a View. Magic.
A Couple of Days in West Cork
Manning’s Emporium. Syrian Food. An Eagle’s Nest.
Burgundy on the Beach. Room with a View. Magic.
|On Garinish Island, with the Italian Garden in the centre|
Mid April and we’re off to West Cork for a couple of days. We get to taste Syrian food in Bandon, lunch at the amazing and expanding Manning’s Emporium, see the eagle’s nest near Glengarriff where we stay and dine at the spectacular Eccles Hotel before a wander around the large and engaging Bantry Market.
|Manning's Pizza oven|
First stop is in Bandon where we had a little lunch at the Bayleaf (LINK), a restaurant serving a delicious mix of Irish and Syrian food. Then a stroll around the town and a call to Ruth at URRU for coffee and also to check out the shelves stocked well with good food and drink. URRU by the way is expanding, upwards, and Ruth is waiting patiently for the stairs to be installed! It will be an even better place to visit and relax over a cuppa.
|Salad at Manning's|
The first major halt is at the beachside hotel Inchydoney Lodge, a spectacular place. We are here for the Louis Jadot Burgundy Wine dinner and, before that, a walk on the beach of course.
The following morning, after breakfast, we decide to take advantage of the emerging sun to walk the beach on the other side of the hotel before heading off west. First stop is at Manning's Food Emporium in Ballylickey. They too have well-stocked shelves, all kinds of food and drink.
|Eagle's next, top right|
But the major attraction is their expanding outside dining area (they have covered and indoor spaces too, in case of rain!). And we spot their newly installed pizza oven, going down a treat at the weekends.
A little lunch is called for on this occasion and one of us has a plate of crisp and beautiful salad while the other enjoys a delicious Ploughman’s on a baguette. Amazing freshness, colour, flavour and texture on each plate. And the tea was top class also!
On then to beautiful Glengarriff. With the sun in a strong position, it was an ideal day to visit Garinish Island. We got the boat at the lovely Blue Pool and our skipper took great care of us, making sure we had lots of time to enjoy the seals lazing on the rocks and then he pointed out the lofty tree top nest of the sea eagles. Enjoyed the walk around the island - we’ve been there a few times before - especially the climb to the Martello tower and the Italian Garden.
There is a new attraction here now, a guided tour of Bryce House. You need to plan this into your schedule. It starts at quarter past the hour and takes about 45 minutes. We didn’t have quite enough time but will visit on the next occasion. The ferry charge is 12 euro and there is a 5 euro fee to visit the island.
|On Garinish, Italian Garden|
More seals and another look up at the nest (there was an eagle standing there) as we made our leisurely way back to the Blue Pool. Time then to check in at the Eccles. We had specified a room with a view and it was rather special. After a little drink in the hotel's Harbour Bar, we strolled up to the village.
Dinner in the bar (the main restaurant opens for the main tourist season) was excellent. Breakfast was actually served in that lovely main restaurant, the Garinish, and that set us nicely. It was another sunny morning and ideal for a visit to the huge Bantry Market where everything from the best of local food to bric-a-brac is for sale. Well worth a visit.
Links for this visit:
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!
Monday, November 20, 2017
Garden to Plate at Ballymaloe.
Superb Craft Fair Too.
There were gasp when Ballymaloe House gardener Mags Coughlan told us she grows 4,500 leeks here each year. Soon we would see some of them on our plates as we enjoyed lunch in the house. The garden tour, a mead tasting, a long leisurely lunch and a visit to the ever increasing craft fair in the Grainstore and Big Shed, were all part of a lovely day that brought the curtain down on the Munster Wine and Dine activities for 2017. A good day. A good year.
Hazel Allen introduced the fifty or so of us to Mags who told us the aim here in the walled garden and surrounding area is to grow “seasonal and unusual”. Even with Mags working flat out, there is no way the garden could fully supply the house, so Ballymaloe gets much of its regular plant and vegetables supplies from local growers, a traditional relationship maintained.
That leaves the gardener, in consultation with the chefs of course, to concentrate on something different, a crop of sea-kale for example, followed in turn by asparagus and artichoke. And then there are also edible flowers and flowers for decoration. One of the specialities of the walled garden, taking advantage of a south-facing wall, are peaches. Lots of herbs here too, of course.
All is grown from seed so that means glasshouses and we walked through there admiring the lines of harvested pumpkins (also on the day’s menu). We were then shown the relatively new cider apple orchard; varieties here include Dabinett and Bramley. Here too we saw the hazel bushes which provide quite a harvest and have a bit of growing to do yet!
All had been quite in the fields where the pigs are kept until the arrival of our group. Then little groups of the younger pigs came rushing out to greet the visitors. They may not have been so eager had they known that the same people would be eating their older siblings later on.
Back then to the conservatory room in the house for an aperitif, thanks to Kate Dempsey of the Kinsale Mead Co. We sampled her Atlantic Dry Mead and also Wild Red Mead – and then she made some delicious cocktails using her mead (and also the new Beara Gin). Quite a few were very impressed by the mead. Both meads are honey based and are rapidly becoming widely available in Supervalu’s and speciality shops such as URRU in Bandon and Bradley’s in the city's North Main Street.
|Kate and her meads|
We had a choice for the main course. CL chose the Poached Ballycotton Monkfish with Chive Butter Sauce served with Leeks and Romanesco while mine was the Roast Ballymaloe Farm Pork with red cabbage and Bramley Apple Sauce. Each, with Pommes Duchesse and Glazed Carrots on the side, was superb.
The temptation levels then soared with the arrival of the famous Ballymaloe Dessert trolley. We were like the little piggies! Pavlova, poached pears, chocolate cake (and sauce), and so much more, all washed down with little sips of sweet Jurançon. Pratsch Gruner Veltliner and Solstice Rhone Valley were the earlier wines.
After the tea or coffee, or a garden infusion, there was a quick review of 2017, a raffle for foodie prizes and an announcement that Munster Wine and Dine had decided to donate €300.00 to Penny Dinners.
Some of us then took a walk around the annual craft fair. The opening day, Saturday, had been busy but one stall holder told me Sunday, the day of our visit, was even busier and she was looking to getting her feet up for the night! There were some gorgeous crafts here but, looking for a particular item with certain restrictions as to material, size and colour, proved mission impossible for me! The search begins again next week at the big Craft Fair in the City Hall and the smaller one at Franciscan Well Brew Pub.
Darkness had now settled on this amazing East Cork farm and our bus had arrived. A very satisfied group headed back to the city, bang on schedule. Here’s to another great Munster Wine and Dine season in 2018. Happy Christmas everyone from Eithne, Richie, Colm, Beverly, Michael, Stuart, and yours truly.
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.
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Rare Cookery Books Workshop – Keith Floyd. A Taste of West Cork Food Festival Event. Urru Culinary Store Bandon
If you love your rare cookery books and recipes and are interested in showing, sharing and seeing other people’s rare books then come join us for a round table show ‘n’ tell workshop.
The Rare Cookery Books Workshop continues this year with a particular focus on Keith Floyd – a one time resident of Kinsale and acknowledged by many chefs as the “Original Celebrity Chef”.
Food writer and Floyd fan, Dianne Curtin will lead the discussion by sharing her books from the era out of which Keith Floyd emerged. Kinsale based chef, Una Crosbie, will also share her memories and books from Keith Floyd.
So, if you are a fan of Floyd or have a rare cookery book or two that you would like to share with like-minded enthusiasts or if you are just curious, then come along, with your books, memories and little stories for an afternoon of chit chat and discovery.
€6 including light refreshment
Booking advised as space is limited.
Contact Ruth for further details and booking 023-8854731 or book on line www.urru.ie
Sunday, September 27, 2015
My place of belonging is West Cork
I see myself primarily as a human being and my place of belonging is West Cork. These are the only two labels I’ll admit to. But I am proud of my Polish and other cultural influences.
So said Frank Krawczyk as he told us his family's amazing story in URRU, Bandon, last Saturday evening in a round-the-table discussion hosted by Ruth Healy and guided by Dianne Curtin. The event was one in the Art of Living Series, itself part of the local Engage Arts Festival.
That story ranged from the second world war in Poland, the gulag and the Katyn forest in Russia, prison and refugee camps, Kazakhstan, India, Uganda, London, Franco’s Spain, West Cork’s Baltimore and Schull and even Tankardstown House where Frank’s son Robbie is now head chef and carrying on the charcuterie trade that made his father a living.
Poland was right in the middle of the conflict as WW2 raged back and forth across Europe. Its citizens were pawns, many lives taken, many disrupted forever. Frank’s immediate relations were caught up in the mayhem and he never got to meet many of them, including his father’s parents.The Soviet Union was particularly harsh on Poland and no less than 15,000 Polish officers were murdered in the Katyn atrocities.
His father was released and made his own way, with great difficulty to the Caspian Sea, and from there to transit camps in Persia (Iran). At that stage, the British were dispersing refugees to the Commonwealth countries and his mother (she hadn't met his father, yet) ended up in India, close to Kerala, along with 15,000 others. She even got to meet Gandhi and wrote about it.
His father, who had been badly treated in the Gulag, had been fairly well educated and also ended up in India, getting work at the Polish consulate from 1943-45. But the new Polish government, a communist one, dispensed with his services and he too was sent to the refugee camp where he met his future wife.
After Indian independence, the refugees were relocated to many countries. By then, Frank's father was working in camp administration and made sure that both he and his future wife would end up together. And they did both get to Uganda, to a camp near Kampala. Here, they married and here both Frank and his sister were born.
But, by 1951, the family was on the move, this time to England where Frank would be educated. Up to then, he had spoken only Polish and had no English when starting school. The food at home was very much Polish. His memories from that time including: free range chickens, beehives, foraging for mushrooms and wild strawberries. His Russian grandmother influenced his culinary awareness, as did Polish and neighbouring cuisines.
He went on to work in London where he would meet his own wife Ann. After his introduction to the hippy movement in the 60s, he dropped out and headed off to, of all places, Franco’s Spain. He tried to get home but needed the assistance of the British consulate. Ann, from Cork, had made her own way to Paris where she too joined the hippy “movement”.
Six months after the Spanish escapade, Frank heard a knock on his door. The young visitors said they had come for the party. Frank said there is no party here. “There is now,” said the hippies. In return, Frank was invited to the next party, in Hampstead, and it was here that he met Ann.
She brought him home and introduced him to West Cork. “It was winter time,” he recalled, “but even so I decided to move to Ireland and it happened two years later in 1974”. A year earlier (1973), they were married in Baltimore and spent the honeymoon on Sherkin Island.
When Frank started living in West Cork, he had nothing but a self sufficiency book (by John Seymour). He was leaving “a good enough job” behind but “never had a great grá of urban living. I preferred the woods and foraging.”
Some years later, he had his “beginnings in food production”. Not with charcuterie but by making a soft fresh cheese (Polish style but from a Scottish recipe based on buttermilk). It was quite a success and won a 1st prize in the RDS in 1990.
Gradually he got back and used to occasionally fill in for his sons who were working as kitchen porters in a local restaurant. The chef patron though was in the habit of drinking too much and often Frank had to do the cooking, learning a lot in the process. Lots of compliments were coming his way but, when he asked for a raise, the boss told him where to go!
Next step was to start his own supper club. And that was such a success that they still get requests to stage it again. It was here too that son Robbie “got a liking” for cooking (even if his 3rd level education took a completely different track). But later he raised the money for the Ballymaloe course and it was that that put the younger Krawczyk on his way.
And it was while doing the supper club that Frank decided to revisit salamis, based on the Polish style of his childhood memories. But, having mastered the technique, he gradually came to the intention, and then the practice, that it was “better to do something from the region rather than replicate from somewhere else”.
He was so successful that he was soon recognised by Euro Toques. “I just happened to be the one that opened the door for Irish charcuterie, similar to what Veronica Steele did for cheese.”
It was with the supper club and the charcuterie that Frank had his battle with the food bureaucracy though he smilingly admitted to being as “much an architect of the battle as the system”. I am a firm believer in the “economics of enough”, that is making enough to live on and no more. He doesn't want to make a fortune but rules are made for the big producers, not for the small but, of course, they are still applied to the small.
Frank is no longer producing his own charcuterie. Son Robbie is now doing it at Tankardstown. And Frank is obviously and rightly proud of that. But, he stressed, “he is not copying, he is doing his own thing.” Frank participated in the launch of Slow Food West Cork, about ten years ago, and is still very much involved.
The many Polish people coming to Ireland, over the past fifteen years or so, have given Frank opportunities to use Polish, “my first language”. “There is a lot I can give to that community. I value my Polish education.”
And there is doubt that West Cork and the Irish food scene generally values Frank.
Friday, September 18, 2015
THE ART OF LIVING
URRU CULINARY STORE
Schull-based Frank Krawczyk (left) is one of Ireland’s best known and most respected salami and sausage makers.
His son Robbie is an award winning chef currently at the much acclaimed Tankardstown House.
Join Frank and Robbie in an around-the-table conversation format event.
Of Russian-European ancestry, Frank will recount his family history, from gulags to re-settlement camps through London to the story of his, and his wife Anne’s, adventures into the West Cork of the ‘70’s, with us.
He will recount his battles with bureaucracy in his endeavours to establish a world class charcuterie business and, more recently, his championing of the Slow Food movement in West Cork.
The conversation will be facilitated by food writer, Dianne Curtin. Active audience participation will be encouraged. Refreshments will be served.
This event is part of Engage Arts Festival .
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Good Food from Bandon and Good Wine from Bordeaux
Made a short visit to Bandon Farmers Market last Saturday. And every stallholder I called to said I was great to come out in the rain. But if you'ee not willing to go out in the rain in Ireland, you’re going to waste half your life.
Great to see some familiar faces like Shirley Kingston, the market co-ordinator, and some new ones as well. Of course, it’s all about the food and I was delighted when Nathan Wall of the Saddleback Pig Company in Baltimore showed me his new product: Sweet Black Bacon Smoked. He tells me it's proving very popular. We’ll have more on Nathan and his fantastic “black” rashers in the next week or so.
No shortage of bakers here and Heavens Cakes, well known in the English Market, had some sweet things on offer. Good too to see Dunmanway Baking Emporium with a stall here, including a baguette that we needed for the evening.
And another surprise was the stand manned, if that’s the word, by Toni. Jams, chutneys and pickles, and relishes of all types, including Red Currant Jelly, Rose Hip and Apple Jelly and Fruit compote. She also sells her eggs, all at a very reasonable price.
The rain, by the way, was bad enough at times but there were clear spells as well and we took advantage of one of those to trot over to the quay and call in to see Ruth Healy in her fabulous food store and cafe at URRU. The warm cups of coffee and a massive ginger cookie were more than welcome.
Bandon is indeed well supplied with places to eat and, of course, things to eat. I had spotted the well stocked, well laid out butcher shop of Martin Carey on previous visits and made a point of calling this time.
This award winning store has a huge choice of meats but we went for the French trimmed lamb shanks, served up later that evening with market vegetables and a red wine gravy. The red wine, Chateau Lamothe Vincent, came from Bordeaux and not all of it went into the cooking!
The starter, a bruschetta using the baguette from the market, some Atlantic Sea Salt and a tomato salsa (all along the lines suggested by the Turkhead Delights cookbook), was excellent as was the dessert, a crumble with rhubarb (from the back garden) and orange. But mainly it was Bandon and Bordeaux. And I really couldn’t tell you if it was raining when I tucked into the lamb!