In Cork today and during my inevitable trip to Ó Conaill’s chocolate shop on French Church Street – I used to go for a dark cardamom all the time, now I’ve moved on to a ginger oil-infused dark chocolate, all the better to fend off the winter chill – I noticed that they have just started stocking Cate McCarthy’s giant cookies. The Cookie Jar is the name of her company and the trademark jars recently arrived on Ó Conaill’s counter, packed with American-style cookies made from real ingredients. I met Cate last year at the Terra Madre Farmers’ Market in Waterford and sampled quite a few of her delicious wares.Well worth a quick visit when you need your caffeine – or hot chocolate – fix accompanied by something sweet to munch on.Ó Conaill Chocolate, 16b French Church Street, Cork. 021 4373407The Cookie Jar, Graigue, Poulmucka, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. 052 35448 www.thecookiejar.ie
I’ve always loved old cast-iron kitchen ranges. My Grandad would always put the porridge on overnight in the warming oven of the old, age-darkened Aga at Oldcastletown. By morning it would be cooked creamy, although with such a thick skin that I couldn’t stomach it. As a child I was a very picky eater. The Aga – it ran on solid fuel – also made the best toast. Grandad would supervise the making of this treat on a cold winter’s evening as we came in hungry from school. There were two methods: the first was simply to place a thickly sliced piece of bread from the local shop directly onto the base of the hot oven where it turned brown in a matter of minutes. And then there were the evenings when we were allowed to get out the ancient toasting forks, open the front of the firebox and toast on the flame. Those were the times that Grandad’s work- and age-toughened hands came into their own, holding the bread close enough so it toasted properly. Our softer little paws – and faces! – weren’t quite up to enduring the heat.
Watch out for The True Cost of Cheap Food on Channel 4 tonight at 8pm as Observer food critic Jay Rayner looks into the realities of cheap pre-prepared supermarket food. With sales of organic food dropping and an ever-increasing rise in the purchase of supermarket value ranges, Rayner asks if supermarkets have a responsibility to feed their customers properly. Judging by the profits made by Tesco alone in the last year (£1.8bn in the UK), it doesn’t look like they’re going to want to do anything that might eat into their shareholders gravy train. Surely pre-made food – be it from the cheapest or the most expensive supermarket ranges – can’t be as good for you as something made from scratch at home? Wonder do they actually look at that side of things. Should be worth a look – I’ll be downloading it from 4oD tomorrow.
I’ve been nominated for an Irish Blog Award in the Best Food/Drink Blog category, along with another 26 – count ’em! – Irish food, wine and beer bloggers. The entire category list below so take a good look around, there’s plenty of interesting reading out there. The full list of this year’s Irish Blog Awards Nominations is now online here. Well done to the organisers – they’ve done a fabulous job putting it all together. This Awards are taking place closer to home for me this year, in the design-tastic Cork International Airport Hotel on 21 February.
Trying to upgrade Bibliocook at the moment and, like last year, there’s been a lot of frustration and pulling my hair out over long nights at the computer. Fortunately the Techie and her Husband have stepped in to help out so I hope to be back in the land of the useable blog very soon. Wish us luck!
I was thrilled to hear the first Foodtalk on Christmas Day at 1.30pm, just as we were basting the turkey, making gravy and chopping vegetables for dinner.That programme – very topically – was on Livestock, focusing on Irish pork. Jacque Barry (Jacques Restaurant) talked about her love of good quality ingredients and food eaten with family while Fingal Ferguson of the Gubbeen Smokehouse explained how the cycle works on the Gubbeen farm in West Cork – the pasture is eaten by the cows who produce the milk for the cheese, the whey of which is fed to the pigs who are turned into the best pork, sausages, salami and chorizo by Fingal.