Although clouds threatened, the sun shone continued to shine all day on Sunday at the inaugural Taste of Cork as crowds gathered to eat and drink in the atmospheric surroundings of the Cork City Gaol. What would the former inmates have thought if they looked out the bars of their windows at the thousands of people swaping their florins for delicious satay at Jacobs on the Mall, devouring Flemings‘ layered foie gras dish, eating seasonal mackerel with a fresh gooseberry sauce from Ballymaloe House, pulling apart the Ivory Tower’s Venison Chimichurri with Chocolate and Chilli Sauce and queuing for the popular Fish and Chips with Minted Pea Purée at the Club Brasserie stand? Urru was there with pâtisserie from Richard Graham-Leigh, particularly his rich Chocolate and Raspberry Tentation and an array of fruit tartlets, Jack McCarthy brought a selection of his wares and there were tastings aplenty from a variety of stalls, including plenty of offerings in the chocolate and wine side of things.
Monthly Archive: June 2008
I’ve always thought that Mao was a strange name for a café/bar. Imagine a pub called Hitler or a restaurant named after Pol Pot. Or don’t. But, if you would like to enter a competition to win a meal for two, courtesy of Bubble Brothers and the introduction of their lip-smackingly good iki beer to Café Mao, wander over to their blog and put your thinking cap on!
Thursday night we spent at a sumptuous banquet of Indian food, courtesy of Green Saffron, in a marquee on the lawn of the elegant Ballyvolane House. We were treated to an assortment of curries made with Green Saffron spice blends, served on fragile-looking yet surprisingly long-lasting leaf plates, and accompanied by Bubble Brothers‘ wines and bottles of Tiger Beer. Live Indian music soundtracked the evening, punctuated by Green Saffron founder Arun Kapil talking about how the dishes were made and the spices used in each one.
Our half-acre plot is surrounded by mature trees, including several elders that are currently blossoming in a profusion of heady-smelling, cream-coloured flowerheads. Rather than just admiring them this year and thinking – afterwards, of course – that I should have made elderflower cordial, last weekend I dug out my recipe, buckets and ingredients, made a special trip to the chemist for citric acid, picked a selection of the flowers and had it made in minutes. The recipe I used comes via my mother, who noticed one of her students drinking a bottle of elderflower cordial last summer and got her mum’s recipe for me. Ever since then it’s been sitting on the kitchen mantelpiece, just waiting for some elderflowers – and a little motivation!
On Saturday – two weeks after our (supposedly) point-of-lay pullets arrived – there was great excitement when the Husband discovered a little egg, still warm, on the bottom of the hen house. Unfortunately, by the time he found it, it was already cracked, proving that our chickens still haven’t got the hang of things. The chicken that laid the egg managed to do it from her perch, rather than the nice cosy nesting box. Still, the cat was delighted to get an egg for her tea and hopefully it won’t take too much longer for the rest of the girls to follow her example.When you take the cost of the hen house and run into consideration, this is, as the Financially-Orientated Brother pointed out, the most expensive egg ever in the history of egg-laying. When the chickens get the hang of the egg-producing life, we are hoping that the average cost of each egg will come down quite a bit.
Open any page in A Table in the Tarn and you’re likely to be seduced. I got stuck in the Deserts, Petits Four and Chocolates chapter, with recipes for Blackcurrant Leaf Sorbet, Home-Made Vanilla Marshmallows and Cocoa-Nib Florentines but, once I tore myself away from the sweet things, there was much more to recommend this memoir-style cookbook.
I’m not much of a fruitcake fan but Tea Brack is an altogether different story. Because the fruit is soaked overnight it avoids the dryness that can often spoil a fruitcake, cuts into gorgeous thick slices and responds particularly well to being generously buttered and served with large pots of tea. The English Engineers, this time without Bridie, came to visit for the weekend so – as I had recently discovered that I had a stash of dried fruit, particularly golden raisins – I brewed up some tea on Thursday night, left the fruit to soak in quite a leisurely manner until Friday lunchtime, when I discovered that I needed to be in Cork at 6pm. The brack was promptly thrown together in a most hasty manner so that it would be cooked before I had to leave the house. Despite the hurry, it worked out well. I made double the mixture – two large 2lb loaves – and, the Engineers now on the plane home, there is just one half of the last brack left. I had intended to use a drop of whiskey to intensify the flavours but my search in our cellar (the unfinished gap under the stairs where we land all bottles of alcohol) showed that the Husband had imbibed the last of the Jameson during the last cold spell so I had to settle instead for the Ballyvoddy Damson Gin that I made last October.