On Monday night we launched Foodtalk on Newstalk at Thornton’s Restaurant on Stephen’s Green. It was great to see so many of the people that I interviewed on my trips around the country there – Fingal Ferguson came armed with cheese and lots of other Gubbeen goodies, Green Saffron‘s Arun Kapil had plenty of spices to smell and taste (just put me near his fennel seeds and watch them disappear!), while the Murphy’s Ice Cream boys – Kieran and Sean – turned up with a selection of ice cream snowmen which had us oohing and ahhing in delight before we dug in and promptly demolished them.
It started with a phone call in the early summer. The brothers behind Soundsdoable wanted to know if I was interested in working with them on a series of radio documentaries about food. I didn’t need to be asked twice. It was the start of an intense and fascinating time – journeys around Ireland in all kinds of inclement Irish summer weather to interview a variety of producers and chefs and the chance to record with chef (and fellow blogger) Kevin Thornton.
Christmas Gifts for Food Lovers * If you have a friend that loves extra virgin olive oil, why not give them an olive tree for Christmas? Nudo, an olive grove in Italy’s Le Marche region, offers the opportunity to adopt an olive tree for a year. They’ll receive an adoption certificate, a spring package of 1.5-2 litres of organically produced olive oil from their tree and an autumn treat of three infused extra virgin olive oils. The adoption costs £65 plus postage and packaging (approximately €83 plus €30 p&p). Web: nudo-italia.com
Residential Cookery Courses – Island AdventuresOne of the best presents you can give someone is confidence in the kitchen and that’s exactly what a voucher for a cookery course is designed to do. Of course, learning is so much easier when the school is located in a beautiful area – or even on an island.
The first of my contributions to last Thursday’s Irish Times Christmas Supplement…A Foodie Getaway in Ireland: The Old ConventWhat do you want from a weekend getaway? A romantic location that is not too obvious, yet easily accessible? A relaxed atmosphere, stylish comfortable bedrooms, fabulous breakfasts and a dinner to die for? In that case, head straight to Dermot and Christine Gannon’s The Old Convent. Situated in the small Tipperary town of Clogheen, this hidden treasure is nestled at the foot of the Knockmealdown mountains. Dermot and Christine established their restaurant with rooms here, in the former home of the Sisters of Mercy, in 2006 and have since been attracting customers from far and wide.The main draw, of course, is Dermot’s creative eight-course no-choice tasting menu, created afresh each day with a focus on organic and local artisan produce, including Trass raspberries, North Cork pancetta, Dunmore East crab and Gabriel cheese. Dinner is served at 8pm in an atmospheric candlelit dining room. From well-balanced appetisers, seasonal veloutés and sorbets, beautifully cooked fish and meats to the grand finale, The OC signature Chocolate Fondue, the meal is brilliantly paced and perfectly presented.
Published in the Irish Times Cork First supplement on Wednesday 2 July.Get started early – farmers’ markets wait for no tourist – at the busy Middleton Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning, making time to pick up some artisan Arbutus bread, a selection of Frank Hederman’s superlative smoked fish (make sure you try his smoked mussels), a bag of Ballycotton Kerr Pinks from Willie Scannall, some cooking tips and cupcakes at the Ballymaloe stall – and don’t miss getting your hands on a slice of sinful chocolate cake from Frank Krawczyk, who specialises in the best home-cured salamis and fantastic rillettes.