Irish pork at the Mitchelstown Food Festival
A mixture of stories and demonstrations around the theme of Irish pork made up the afternoon workshop at the Mitchelstown Food Festival on Friday. Carol O’Brien spoke about her pig farming family’s experiences of the dioxin scare and how this incentivised them to become involved with the setting up of Truly Irish. A national cooperative, Truly Irish represents pig producers from the entire island and products – rashers, sausages and ham – sold under the brand will be sourced in Ireland. Truly Irish will be officially launched at the Mitchelstown Food Festival producers’ market on Sunday and the products are available from Superquinn, Centra and SuperValu outlets around the country.
John Finn of Finn’s Butchers arrived in with half a pig carcass and proceeded to demonstrate why you should buy meat from your local butcher, as he explained how to cook the various cuts. His experience and passion was evident as he entertained and educated, pointing out how much of the pig that we waste in this country and the value of a joint like the shoulder. He helped Paddy Ward of Teagasc to demonstrate how sausages are made, followed by Mervin Hodgins describing how Hodgins’ Sausages (their herbal sausages are great in this Baked Stuffed Cabbage dish) started out and Caroline Rigney’s account of how she embarked on producing Curraghchase Free Range Pork (watch out for the Slow Food open day at Rigney’s Farm on Sunday 27 September).
A demonstration from Catherine Beary, head chef at O’Callaghan’s Deli in Mitchelstown filled the room with savoury aromas as she cooked a glazed loin of bacon with a delicious creamy mustard sauce, a roast pork steak stuffed with pear and almond stuffing (this disappeared so fast that I only got to taste a few piquant crumbs) and a sticky Asian pork on a fresh bed of herb salad.
The Mitchelstown Food Festival continues with an open air barbecue on Lower Cork Street on Saturday evening and a producers’ market tomorrow, Sunday 30 August, at the Coolnanave Business Park. After my afternoon, I’m now inspired to make a trip to Finn’s Butchers – it’s about time I got around to trying out Jamie Oliver’s Six Hour Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder!
As an ex-pat now living in Australia, I am thoroughly enjoying your roving through contemporary Irish cuisine and Irish produce.Please keep it up.
Thanks a million for posting the info and after all my planning to get to the Michelstown Fest, I didn’t make it out of Co. Tipp on Sunday. HoneyB was a little under the weather so we had to stay put … tummy was a little upset so I thought it best not to tempt her with the smell of sausages. She is much better now and we had our own local sausages tonight to make up for it.Sounds like a good show and a lot of effort from the organisers … maybe next year.
Good to hear it Sorcha! Lucky you being in Brisbane – I visited, too briefly, a few years ago and loved the city and the food.Pity that you didn’t make it, Gillian, but I can’t imagine HoneyB would have been able for much at the market. It took place in a huge shed with a bouncy castle and plenty of stomach-stirring fun for small children! We didn’t stay for too long as Little Missy wasn’t really liking the enclosed sound but I still managed to get my hands on plenty of different cheese, a chunk of terrine and some of Caroline Rigney’s meaty-looking sausages. Toad in the Hole coming up soon, methinks.
Great seeing you all at the local food fest Caroline, came home with a feast of gorgeous, sausages, fudge, brownies, coffee and walnut cake and raspberry jam! Yum!
Great that you finally made it there, Maria. There certainly was plenty to taste and eat!
Caroline,Great to see you and the family recently. That rhubard cake with rosewater was seriously yum. Many thanks!What do you think about this week’s report that Irish pork is not up to scratch, according to chefs? They claim it has no flavour and that pigs are being fed genetically modified and sub-standard food.Why don’t we have a pork industry like Italy and Spain? Also, is it possible to buy ham that has not been injected with chemicals?Mags
Sorry about the delay in responding, Margaret, but I was trying to track down the Euro-toques report, which had landed in my spam folder.I do think the Euro-toques chefs have a point. I’ve just finished reading Basket Case: What’s Happening to Ireland’s Food? and its authors make the point that Irish pigs are fed GM soya and GM cereals. Why? Because they are cheaper than non-GM feeds. The wrongs and rights of GM foods can be debated elsewhere: you just have to make the decision if that’s what you want to eat.I do think that it is worth searching out the small producers and paying a decent price. After visiting the farm and seeing his pigs, I buy Gubbeen ham from Fingal Ferguson because I know how and where it is produced. I also get organic pork belly and mince from Knockatullera Farm Produce at my local farmers’ market in Killavullen.That said, the pork and bacon that I tasted at the Mitchelstown Food Festival workshop was fantastic – and produced on a much larger scale. Just make sure that you have some fat on it!