For anyone who is interested in the relationship between food and farming in Ireland, the annual Euro-toques National Food Forum and Fair – entitled Reconnecting: Farming, Food & Rural Communities – will be taking place at Brooklodge Hotel in Macreddin Village, Co Wicklow on Sunday 2 September. On this year’s panel are Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Trevor Sargent; UK organic movement pioneer and champion Helen Browning; Gerry Scully, the programme manager for Rural Development with Teagasc; Irish Farmers Journal columnist and farmer Peter Young; and Ross Lewis, chef/proprietor of Chapter One Restaurant and Commissioner of Euro-toques Ireland.
I have a confession to make: I’ve just bought myself a shiny, glossy red KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer! The workhorse of many an American kitchen and beloved by cooks like Nigel and Nigella, I’ve been lusting after one of these babies for quite a while. I first fell in love with one I saw in the Cork branch of Meadows and Byrne a few years ago but, after peeking at the price tag, never thought there was going to be a chance that it would ever be sitting in my kitchen. Then we got married. And one of the lovely things about having a celebration of your relationship is that people give you gifts. So, several of those gifts, in the handbag of a rather giddy girl, made their way to Brown Thomas a couple of weeks ago. Although my hopes were initially dashed as they had sold out of red mixers – and, having set my heart on a red one, who would want an almond-coloured one instead? – the helpful staff ordered one in and gave me a call when it arrived. The poor Husband got the job of carrying the heavy box, all rapidly-getting-heavier 22lbs of it, home, having been promised future riches of cakes, cookies and breads, and it sat, in its box, in the hall of our Dublin flat – no space for mixers – until this weekend when I finally got to take it down to the cottage.
The No-Kneed Bread recipe from Mark Bittman – aka the New York Times’ Minimalist – is one of those recipes that has taken on a life of its own. Published in the newspaper in 2006, it still keeps cropping up on other people‘s blogs and, finally – it was on my list of recipes-to-try for ages – I’ve gotten around to making it.
Rabbit is in season at the moment, at least according to one of the emails I got from Eat The Seasons a few weeks ago. I should tell the Husband although, with lush, fresh grass everywhere at the moment, I’m not sure our rabbits would venture into one of the cages for a carrot (even if it was a recently pulled one!) At least they’ve stopped trying to dig their way inside the fenced-off veggie garden recently and our purple sprouting broccoli, kale, sweetcorn, beans and silverbeet are all thriving.
Sitting on the N4 on Saturday night, watching the car temperature gage climb dangerously in the not-moving traffic and the clock moving much faster than we were able to, I was glad that I was heading off to dinner at Richard Corrigan‘s Café La Serre rather than continuing on with the crowds to Barbra Streisland’s first Irish concert in Castletown House, near Celbridge. We were taking my American Cousin and her Fiancé for a long-awaited dinner in advance of their August wedding – we didn’t realise that our trip to their Celbridge home was going to coincide with one of the flashiest traffic jams in years. Tickets, after all, were priced from €118.50 to €885!
Watch out on RTÉ One tonight for a programme called Home which features none other than finger-lickin’ Monica Sheridan! I discovered Monica or, rather, one of her cookbooks in a second hand bookshop in Athlone last year and Monica’s Kitchen is a treasure indeed. As well as useful recipes it is full of entertaining opinions – my favourite is her take on boned chicken: “Frankly, I wouldn’t recommend it, but, if you want to see green in the eyes of the women and hear the praise of gluttonous men ringing in your ears, well, here goes.” – and ahead of her time recipes and ingredients (anyone for foie gras and risotto in 1960s Ireland?).
The new Bridgestone Irish Food Guide didn’t see the Husband and I wrong on a brief trip to Carlow this weekend. Just released, it is a compendium of food producers, delis, markets, cafés and restaurants up and down the length and breath of the country. This is Sally and John McKenna’s eighth edition – the last one was published in 2004 – and it is a lovely chunky book, rammed full of great eating and an essential companion for any trip in the country.
A recent request for the Gingerbread recipe from the first of Paula Daly’s McDonnell’s Good Food Cook Books brought back a host of memories. This was a cake that was often made at home, first by my mother and then, when I was allowed to get stuck into more complicated recipes, by me, standing on top of a chair to stir the sweet, sticky mixture (and sneaking tastes whenever I could!).