Porcini Dust – the new sundried tomatoes?

Fresh chanterelles from Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms

A few weeks ago, as I was leaving Mahon Farmer’s Market with little Isabel under my arm, racing off to collect Hector from playschool and already 15 minutes late, I spotted a tiny stall selling mushrooms. Lucy Deegan and Mark Cribbin are the owner/operators of Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms and this – on the community stall, a class of guest spot each week at Mahon – was one of their first real forays into the market world.Continue reading “Porcini Dust – the new sundried tomatoes?”

(A lot) more on the Belling West Cork Artisan Food Awards

Sally Barnes, Woodcock Smokery

On a mid-afternoon in early December, winter-weak light already fading and a damp cold sucking the life out of bones, you’d imagine any right-thinking folk would have taken to the fireside with a pile of logs, a stack of papers and a nice hot toddy. But, no, through the doors of the West Cork Hotel, in Skibbereen, they flowed in an unwaveringly steady stream until the large reception hall was nicely full, buzzing with life and laughter.

By 4pm, the place was jampacked, collars were opened, coats discarded and some serious inroads being made into wine, cava and highly toothsome nibbles courtesy of chefs Mickael Viljanen of Gregan’s Castle, Co Clare and Rory O’Connell of Ballymaloe – all in all, the equal of any cosy fireplace and a helluva lot more stimulating than the Sunday papers.Continue reading “(A lot) more on the Belling West Cork Artisan Food Awards”

Belling West Cork Artisan Food Awards – The Winners

Just a quick post to detail the winners of the inaugural winners of the Belling West Cork Artisan Food Awards, announced this afternoon at a ceremony in the West Cork Hotel in Skibbereen.

Veronica Steele (Pic: John Carey)

Veronica and Norman Steele’s Milleens Farmhouse Cheese, of Eyeries on the Beara Peninsula, and Madeleine McKeever’s Brown Envelope Seeds, of Turk Head near Skibbereen, were each awarded the 2011 Belling Trophies (Milleens for the Originals category and Brown Envelope for the Newcomer category), along with a cheque for €5,000, the biggest prize in Irish food.

Madeleine McKeever (Pic: John Carey)

More on this tomorrow, particularly the down and dirty on some stunning food prepared by guest chefs Mickael Viljanen of Gregan’s Castle and Rory O’Connell of Ballymaloe.


Storming the Castle

Castle Café, Blackrock Castle. (Pic: Miki Barlok)

After a great deal of finagling and an almighty amount of shenanigans, we managed to get my (actually quite ill) brother and his wife through the doors of the Castle Café (www.castlecafe.ie), in Blackrock Castle, last Saturday night for a surprise joint 40th birthday party. Despite my poor brother looking and acting as if he would have been better off dining (come to think of it, he couldn’t eat a thing!) in O’Connor’s funeral home, he enjoyed himself enormously. My sister-in-law, who wasn’t remotely sick, said that the night ranked right up there with her wedding day, high praise indeed! The choice of venue was agreed by one and all to be a major factor in making the night such a success.Continue reading “Storming the Castle”

Getting Totally 3FE-d!

A recent trip to Dubland yielded a rare old treat when I tracked down 3rd Floor Espresso’s (http://www.3fe.com/) operation in The Twisted Pepper on Middle Abbey St. Following a most stellar recommendation by my Swami of the Bean, Marc Kingston, of Cork’s Golden Bean Coffee Company, I just had to check the place out – what the Swami says, I dutifully does.Continue reading “Getting Totally 3FE-d!”

Fruits of the Sea

I do hope, like me, you find this pic of an open scallop truly exquisite and not suggestive of something coughed up on the pavement after a night on the Majors. A trophy from last Thursday at Mahon Point Farmer’s Market, it tasted every bit as delectable as it looks.Continue reading “Fruits of the Sea”

Eat the Library

Gillian Nelis, Assistant Editor of The Sunday Business Post, put out a tweet today looking for cookbook suggestions for a Christmas round-up – that was all the excuse I needed to drop all efforts at earning a buck to feed the childer and indulge myself a while with a little trawl through my collection. I grabbed a pile at random – on another day, I might well have picked an entirely different set of titles, save the couple of ‘essentials’ that have been with me for years.

Hector cooks the books

Continue reading “Eat the Library”

Hayfield Manor Wine Society Inaugural Meeting

I’ve always had a soft spot for Hayfield Manor. When my mother worked in UCC, just around the corner, it was her number one choice for entertaining all and sundry. Even in retirement, she’s only looking for an excuse to round up a bevy of daughters and daughters-in-law to head off there for afternoon tea. I’ve even squeezed in a little discreet socialising myself there over the years.Continue reading “Hayfield Manor Wine Society Inaugural Meeting”

At Long, Bl**dy Last!

Nearly two years ago, Mrs Swashbuachaill (who lectures in journalism) told me I HAD to start a blog, that it was an absolutely vital part of any continuing future I might have as a writer, paid or otherwise. 14 months ago, I asked my kayaking instructor and one of my foremost food-heroes,  Natural Navigator Sally McKenna, for advice. She re-emphasised the point – I HAD to start a blog. So, I registered this blog.

And then I waited a while. Then I tarried. Followed by a spot of time-biding, my own time, at that, and very precious time it is too. Then I settled in for some good old-fashioned hanging around and putting it on the longest finger I could find. I even contemplated constructing a super-long finger but never actually got around to it. (Me, procrastinate? Why would I procrastinate when I can put off procrastination until another day?) Well, at long last, here’s my first post – nothing to report other than the staggering achievement that is me finally posting. Hope it’ll prove to have a little staying power!

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