All posts filed under: Ireland

A Postcard from a St Stephen’s Day Walk by the Atlantic in Waterford, Ireland

After the insanity of Christmas Day and cooking for so many people, the day after, St Stephen’s Day in Ireland, is an oasis of calm, with a morning dedicated to sleep. I grew up on the Atlantic on the south coast of Ireland with lovely beaches of all types, mountains, waterfalls within, woods nearby and a magic road. Other stuff too but you get my meaning, there is quite a bit going on here. Yesterday, we took a walk out on the old train track to the beach and beyond. Fresh cold air stinging the cheeks as the sun was setting, the moon rising slowly and then switching its light on. We walked back in the pitch darkness guided by moonlight. Which was lovely. I felt human again. Photos from my phone but worth sharing, I think. 

A Trip Down Memory Lane at Dingle Food Festival

There are so many stories that I could tell you about Dingle. I could tell about the first dinner that I cooked for over 22 people at the tender age of 22. 22 mainly random people, randomly decided, in a youth hostel in Dingle. My friend Emma and I made Mexican food using what we could get. We didn’t do too bad a job. More importantly, we had a great time. It was a significant moment and one that was instrumental in getting me here. I could tell you about the time that same summer when we went to beautiful Slea Head nearby, and a local fisherman whose boat had just come back in, offered me a huge crab and a pike. I quickly readied myself and we carried the enormous fish & crab in a blue plastic bag and tried unsuccessfully to hitch a lift the 10 miles or so back. One family from Northern Ireland stopped their car to enquire as to what was in the bag, and wished us luck. When they passed …

A Postcard from the Waterford Festival of Food

I sit in Dungarvan, gazing out at a gorgeous sunny day, with maybe a few hours before I dash to catch my flight back to London. Pondering the brilliant Waterford Festival of Food, I have to send you a quick little postcard on it. I am immensely proud of what has developed in my little home town over recent years. We have food to rival anywhere and attract great food talent like Mark Hix & Richard Corrigan. The Tannery had some fantastic events that top anything I have been to elsewhere. Brilliant local cheeses were showcased, fantastic beef, local oysters and other fish. Our local brewery, the Dungarvan Brewing Co made a terrific coffee & oatmeal stout with – of course – our local Flahavans. We have everything here, including Irelands only michelin starred chef outside of Dublin, Martin Kajuiter. I am bursting with pride. What really made it was just how much fun it was, and the enthusiasm of everyone involved. I can’t wait to see next years evolution. More soon once I get …

This Weekend: Waterford Festival Of Food

I am bursting with excitement! This weekend is the Waterford Festival of Food in my hometown of Dungarvan in Ireland. There is so much great stuff going on and I will be filling my boots. Of course, I am going to wax lyrical about it. We have a brilliant food culture there and I frequently rant about it. In case people didn’t believe me, I brought four other bloggers there, and they loved it too. And now, Richard Corrigan and Mark Hix are popping over to cook dinner this weekend. The weekend is peppered with Bus Bia (Bia is food in the Irish language) tours including a Beer & Seafood one on Saturday, and  a Seaweed Seminar on Sunday. There will also be Farmers Markets, walks, talks, demonstrations in the town hall and lots of fringe events. Highlights (for me!) are: The Dungarvan Brewing Co are launching a festival beer – a coffee and oatmeal stout. It will be available in the Craft Beer Garden at The Moorings all weekend. Only established one year,they have …

Smoked Haddock Fish Cakes

My trips home of late have been hurried and frantic, but when I can, I will visit Cork’s English Market to indulge. I love to pop to the Farmgate Café for a toastie (either our famed Irish toasted special or sometimes something unusual like Ardrahan Goat’s Cheese & Beetroot), a coffee, or a rich and nostalgic Irish Stew for lunch. After that I will wander about picking up bits and pieces. This deserves a post on its own and it is way overdue. One of the things I always do, is pop to Frank Hederman’s stall and buy my fix. It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Frank’s produce. I used to get it at his stall at Midleton Farmer’s Market,and have previously called to his Belvelly Smokehouse to buy some for my market stall in Covent Garden. It’s wonderfully convenient now at the English Market. Better still, he has expanded his range. For these fish cakes, I used his Beech Smoked Haddock. It is very gentle and rich, I haven’t tasted …

Recipe: Mushrooms on Toast from The Tannery Cookery School, Dungarvan

Of all of the photos that I posted of my recent trip to Ireland, the mushroom on toast from The Tannery, in Dungarvan drew the most audible gasps. Gorgeous robust portobello mushrooms, draped in mushroom sauce (based on a beurre blanc) and resting on some brioche with a sliver of intense mushroom puree in between, it is perfectly autumnal in colour, texture and taste, and delicious. It was one of my favourite dishes and I did promise to share the recipe, so here it is. Enjoy! Mushrooms on Toast from The Tannery Cookery School, Dungarvan Serves 4 4 slices of toasted brioche or country bread 4 field mushrooms 50g butter 2 cloves garlic chopped Pinch chopped thyme Salt and pepper Mushroom Sauce: 175g/ 6 oz butter 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots 50g/ 2 oz of dried mushrooms (porcini or similar) Half teaspoon cracked black pepper 75mls / 3 fl oz dry white wine 150mls/ quarter pint chicken stock 75mls / 3 fl oz cream 55mls/ 1 fl oz sherry vinegar Squeeze lemon juice 1 sprig …

MacGrath’s Butchers in Lismore & Some Thoughts on Butchery

Growing up in Ireland there were many local butchers, there still are. The small area that my grandmother lived in had two, and each of them reared, killed and butchered their own meat. This was common practice, until very recently. I have many fond memories of going to the butchers. Our local butcher was the son of a family friend and our grandmother would send us there to get some minced beef and a t-bone steak with an onion. An onion? Well, my father thought he hated onions, but my grandmother craftily had the onion minced in with the meat and to this day, he doesn’t know that he has been eating onions all his life. I told him once and he refused to believe me. In Ireland we have always consumed a lot of beef, and produced a lot more. We export 80% of our beef on average, and while beef consumption isn’t as high as it used to be, 55% of the population still consume beef regularly. Our cattle population is on a …

An Afternoon at Ballymaloe, Cork

Ballymaloe is an Irish institution. Home to three generations of Irish culinary matriarchs, it is the home of the internationally famous Ballymaloe Cookery School and Myrtle, Darina and Rachel Allen. I had the immense pleasure of meeting Darina last week there, she was nothing short of an inspiration. You canreally see how she has become a lynchpin in the modern Irish food scene. Set on a farm (where they grow products for their market stall at Midleton Farmer’s Market nearby in Cork), the school is housed in a beautiful building along with the shop and café. I wanted to move there. We enjoyed some great pizzas (part of their Saturday Pizza afternoons run by Cookery School tutor and 4th generation butcher Philip Dennhardt) and a gentle amble. A great constitutional following our prevoious days endurance eating on our tour of Co Waterford. http://www.cookingisfun.ie/    

Putting Dungarvan on Ireland’s Food Map: The Tannery Restaurant & Cookery School, Dungarvan, Ireland

Paul Flynn’s return to his (and mine) native Dungarvan put a bright pin firmly on the map of Gourmet Ireland when he opened The Tannery 13 years ago, and subsequently the Tannery Cookery School & Townhouse. Award winning (it recently won Best Cookery School in Ireland at the RAI Restaurant Awards) it is a lovely space offering lessons that are casual, relaxed, informative and fun. We pitched up for a lunchtime demonstration and Paul led us through a lovely 3 course lunch, which we subsequently ate with wine. Paul’s style of cooking is charming and accessible, offering tips that even experienced cooks can benefit hugely from. He champions flavour, and has slimmed down his cooking style from his days as head chef at 3 michelin starred Chez Nico in London. Basically, you can do it too.   He draws influence from his surroundings and sources as much as he can locally. Not always possible, he cites the difficulties in sourcing local seafood despite being next to the sea, he uses them where he can. We started with a decadent mushroom …

A Weekend Exploring the Food & Drink of Ireland (Part 1 of Many)

Irish Food & Drink, so very under rated and so very, very good. We have some excellent culinary figureheads and ambassadors that you will already know: Darina Allen, Rachel Allen and Richard Corrigan perhaps. What about the produce and the producers though, the integrity of production and passion for good local food? It is  not something that a lot of people outside of Ireland are aware of and I want to change that. I really want people to know more, to try, explore, maybe even visit, and enjoy it as much as the four food & drink passionistas that I brought to Ireland last weekend. I go home frequently – you will have noticed – but it was fun and delicious to see other food bloggers experience and enjoy it for the first time. Irish food is interesting, and Ireland in general. It has changed so much in recent generations, sparking from a colony to a republic, a struggling economy to a world leading one and back. A relative and recent affluence inspired a restaurant boom, which quickly suffered in our recent …

Skibbereen Food Festival

I was very much looking forward to my friend’s wedding in Cork. Then she revealed that on the weekend of the wedding, just a  few miles away, a food festival would be taking place. A FOOD FESTIVAL! Wonderful. I was not in the best of shape, having spent most of Friday night lost in the woods on the way back to our house (yes, really, we were renting a cottage in a 10.5 acre private wood on a private island), but I bounded in regardless. West Cork has a terrific food reputation, and what I had seen already at the wedding really whet my appetite. I was surprised to see a big screen with the pope saying mass overseeing proceedings. It whisked me back to Pope Jaun Paul’s visit in 1979 (I think), when the country ground to a halt. I was but a nipper but I remember it so well, mainly because my Dad was glimpsed briefly on TV as he attended. Then I realised that they were just waiting for the All Ireland Gaelic Football …

Hidden Ireland: The Tannery, Dungarvan

And on to The Tannery. You’ve been waiting for this one, haven’t you? Dungarvan was never really a food destination, not until Paul & Máire Flynn moved in and opened The Tannery in 1997. The Tannery was an old leather factory, I remember it very well from my youth. One distinct time when very young I recall lots of people working with animal hides which were hanging very visibly, lots of steam, and a sense of industry. I remember people in hats and my surprise when I was told exactly where those skins came from. From animals! I remember the stench. I was very small. Since then, I’ve noticed a very big change in attitudes to food in the area. Maybe this was happening already, and the opening of The Tannery crystallised it, but I think it’s fair to say that they were critical to this development. They’ve since opened an award winning guesthouse (Tannery Townhouse) and an award winning Cookery School which I have yet to check out. I have enjoyed food at the …

Hidden Ireland: The Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore

Tucked away in a quiet corner of West Waterford is Ardmore. A seductive, sleepy seaside town, more of a village really, with a long beautiful strand and a hotel perched atop it. Overlooking the whole scene is Ardmore’s round tower, built sometime around the 10th – 12th century. One theory is that they were used to watch the coastline so that when any invaders aproached the locals would hide within. I however, have no intention of hiding in a round tower. If you want to find me in Ardmore, I will be hiding and indulging in the Cliff House Hotel. Hugging a cliff edge with a sweeping terrace overlooking the sea, the food options are terrific, offering michelin starred dining or great bar food. We popped over for lunch and gave it a whirl. The menu reads beautifully and simply, featuring lots of Irish and local produce. Local organic smoked salmon, monkfish from nearby fishing village Helvick, soda bread, Dingle crab and one of my favourite desserts, rhubarb fool. We opted for a couple of …

Hidden Ireland: O’Brien’s Chop House, Lismore, Waterford

Everyone’s been to Dublin, right? And a strong number I would wager to the west of Ireland and Cork City. But who among you has been to Waterford? I know not many as everytime I tell someone where I’m from they gaze back blankly and slightly perturbed until I explain that it’s next to Cork. Ah, Cork! But I am not from Cork, I am from Waterford. West Waterford to be precise. A small county on the Atlantic, Waterford has so much going on. The ocean, mountains, woods, restaurants, pubs, artisan cheese, traditional music, a Gaeltacht (a native speaking area). Lots of great shellfish, seafood, beef & lamb from the mountains. Game, oyster farms, shoals of mackerel leaping out of the water in late summer. Seals, turtles, dolphins, we’ve got them all. I am from Dungarvan a small coastal town in Waterford, set on a harbour with a backdrop of mountains (Irish mountains though you understand, our more petite versions). We have a very well known restaurant, The Tannery, brought to us by Paul Flynn. …

A Little Break in West Cork

Hi folks! Apologies, but my next Posh Lunch Club post (from Viajante) will be a little delayed as I am in Cork for a week. Hope to get it up in the next few days. For now I am at home for a wedding in gorgeous Glandore in West Cork. It’s really beautiful here, and very sunny. Sensibly sunny though if I may say so. Not like when it got hot in London last week, and as much as I loved it, I was burned, chomped on by some critter or other while asleep, leaving me with big swollen bites, and it was just that little bit too hot for someone as pale as me with blood those critters can’t get enough of. It always seems better with that sea breeze anyway. I’ve missed the sea, both the water and the salty sea air. I’ve missed my friends too. So, I am going to down tools for a little bit and enjoy it! Not long though, I will be back soon with some food stuff …

Merry Christmas!

A very happy Christmas to everyone! Or Happy Hanukkah! Or, just enjoy the few days off if you don’t celebrate either :-) I’m in Ireland for Christmas. Dungarvan, Co. Waterford to be exact. My hometown, on the sea and nestled in the mountains. Well, Irish mountains, they’re not that big! I come home every year, at least I always have done, it’s a great time to meet family and friends, almost all of whom are home at this time of year. This one is the exception to the rule, I have (I think) 9 first cousins and a brother in Australia this year. Christmas dinner this year is at my sister’s house, her husband is cooking, and it promises to be a lovely meal. We’ve been tucking into spiced beef all week, and as of an hour ago Christmas ham. I’ve brought one of my favourite wines from London, a bottle of As Laxas Albarino from Brindisa, and I’ll be having that with my turkey. Whatever you do, and whoever you spend it with, enjoy …

Taste of Cork

Taste of Cork I do like to do nice things, and these often involve food, ok, mostly involve food. I can never pass up the chance to attend a food festival, so when a friend mentioned that Taste of Cork would be running for the first time this year in Ireland, I made sure that I would be there for it. Taste of Cork, like Taste of London, showcases the best food that the area has to offer. It was in a fabulous setting, in the old city gaol, and on a beautiful day. We went along to the evening session, and keen as ever, arrived early to join an enormous queue. Well, to be truthful, I thought I was late as I had the time wrong, but, just as well! Now, I’d done a little research, and some Cork restaurants that I really wanted to try were there, so I had already drafted a list in my head, determined to start first with Ballymaloe House and then the Ivory Tower, moving onto Bell Tower, …

Kinvara Smoked Salmon

One of the things that struck me on my recent trip home to Ireland and the Burren, was how fantastically fresh and delicious the seafood was. This is to be expected, as it’s on Galway Bay, however, for an island, surprisingly, lots of Irish people don’t eat fish all that much. I, for one, didn’t really start eating fish until well into my 20′s, and while living in London! Kinvara itself, is well known for the award winning Kinvara smoked salmon. A small family run business, their organic irish salmon is smoked using age old, smoking techniques over a combination of oak and beech wood, in (to use their words) a state of the art HACCP approved Smokehouse. The salmon is sourced from their salmon farm, Clare Island Seafarm Cooperative, the only organic salmon farm in Ireland (certified organic by IOFGA), 4 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean. The salmon are fed on the by products of herring and mackerel and ground up crustacean shells. This lends their flesh a deep colour – it is …

Beannachtaí na Féile Padraig – Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Beannachtaí na Féile Padraig / Happy St Patrick’s Day! Greetings from the Emerald Isle. I’ve spent St Patrick’s Weekend on the cusp of the Burren in Kinvara, Co Galway – the perfect antidote to a busy month in London. Kinvara is a seaside village on the west coast of Ireland, home to Kinvara Smokehouse, the producers of the wonderful Kinvara organic smoked salmon (more on that in coming days). I had much fun with friends and lots of smoked salmon and shellfish, the smoked salmon delicate and pungent at once, and the shellfish – so fresh. Wonderful. I am ready for another crazy month now :) I cooked a few things but as I’ve spent most of the day travelling back to Dublin, I’ll have to write about those another time. For now, I’ll leave you with some random unedited pictures, straight from my camera via a disgruntled Mac that crashes every time I try to do anything, and, promise to be back soon! Tractor from the Gort St Patricks Day Parade (Co. Galway) Ballyvaughan, …

Dublin, briefly & Electric Picnic

How could I resist an indie music festival named after a food event? I couldn’t. My two passions, almost rolled into one. In a name anyway. Off I went after my trip to Paris to Stradbally, Laois in Ireland for Electric Picnic, the boutique music festival. I was really excited. I was going with some old friends I don’t see often enough to what promised to be one of the most fun festivals I had been to. Lots of bands I love – Clap your Hands Say Yeah, !!!, Iggy & the Stooges, Sonic Youth, Jarvis, the Good, the Bad & the Queen, My Brightest Diamond, the Go! Team, Ratatat… the list goes on and on. I was also assured of lots of late night dancing. Woohoo! I landed in Dublin on Thursday afternoon rather shook after my late night return on the eurostar. I whizzed around camping shops (yes, sigh, camping) buying a sleeping bag, wellies (in Ireland it’s sure to rain) and other random essential bits and bobs. I was pleased to see …