Tastes and Producers of the Season
Christmas & New Year Treats
Okay, let us start with bread. Make that cake! The arrival of Angela Nöthlings
German micro-bakery in Cork, specialising in organic artisan sourdough breads, especially rye, was a highlight of the year 2022.
Her Stollen, the traditional German Christmas Cake, was a highlight of our festival days. And we can't forget her sweet "little" stuff: the decadent Berliner Brot, her shortbread fingers and her Salted Rye cookies, and more.
The Germans have no shortage of sweet wines to pair with their Stollen. They also use Schnapps (which often has apples in its ingredients) and that put me thinking of something far closer to home.
Pom’O is an apple aperitif made from rare apple varieties by Killahora Orchards in Glounthaune. The fruit is grown "in our 200 year old orchards on the south facing slopes of Ireland’s County Cork. We mix the juice from our bittersweet apples with the finest apple brandy, then age it in Irish whiskey barrels for at least a year."
They recommend serving it lightly chilled as an aperitif, with cheese or in a cocktail, with strong, nutty cheddar, fruit desserts. No mention of Stollen but I carried on regardless and the pairing was just perfect.
No bother in finding highlights. Another mega one was the Heritage Ham by James Whelan Butcher. And since we weren't entertaining on the big day, we had most of this beautiful piece of cooked meat all to ourselves (not all on the one day!). This award-winning Heritage Ham has already been lovingly cooked low and slow for over five hours. All we had to do was slice, serve and savour. Our favourite accompaniment came via the Bord Bia recipe pages and was/is a Redcurrant sauce or glaze. You'll find a few variations here.
The perennial favourite Cashel Blue Cheese was again enjoyed, Wicklow Blue also and some Knockanore Cheddar. These were enhanced by our own Autumn Tomato Chutney made with some excess tomatoes from the back-garden, the recipe from BBC Good Food.
We've still got a few jars of that but will have no shortage of opportunities to use it. Another great match is the cold cured sliced Pork Fillet (lomo) from the Heart of Spain at Fota Retail Park where I had gone to get some of their Spanish wines and also to get Serrano (which was sold out). Here too I bought their Smoked Sliced Duck "Ham", another meaty gem. You could also have a mixed platter of cheese and charcuterie and the chutney will also do the business here!
Also in the Fota Retail Park, I got myself a jar of the award winning Wild About Sloe Jelly from The Pantry at Bakestone. Very versatile indeed and it too goes very well with the cured pork, if used sparingly, and they also say it is great with duck or pate, so I'll be trying it with the duck. If you warm it, just drizzle it over desserts and ice cream and you have another winning combination thanks to this Wexford producer.
While I think of it, The Pantry was also my source for the Killahora Pom'O. That too was put through its paces with various bits and pieces and proved quite a match with the Stollen and also with our the cake and even more so with the pudding (from Barnabrow).
Barrel aged beers tend to go well with Christmas pudding and we tried a few. Perhaps the best were the Brehon Oak & Mirrors BA Imperial Porter (7.5%) and the 9 White Deer Stag BA Export Stout (7.4%). Whiskey is almost always a winner with pudding - there was already some whiskey in the Barnabrow one - and the new 7-year old Single Malt from West Cork Distillers was a treat with it.
|Barnabrow House Christmas Cake
We regularly get our hands on the Christmas double by Barnabrow House and got the cake and pudding in early this year when we bought them from the hard-working owner Geraldine Kidd who was selling them at the Ballymaloe Craft Fair. They are as good as ever!
Of course we had some other sweet bits and pieces around for the Christmas including regulars Mella's Fudge, Miena's Nougat and Turkish Delight, all bought on that visit to The Pantry at Bakehouse.
I'm thinking that this blog post may well be my shopping list for Christmas 2023. In the meantime, Happy New Year to you one and all.