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 …