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Friends Of FEAST: Ballyvolane House

Posted on December 10, 2013

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In the run up to the release of our 3rd issue of FEAST: A Dinner Journal, and our very first print edition on December 14th, we are taking a look back at some of the Irish food champions who have filled the pages of our previous issues.


The first view of Ballyvolane House by the weary traveller is a welcome one, framed as it is by shimmering trees, green lawns and languishing mauve wisteria. It is a grand house, a Georgian county retreat, but not overwhelming and the simple façade feels homely and welcoming. No surprise really considering the welcome you’ll get from Justin and Jenny Green, this unique and peaceful spot is
their place of work and their home so there’s a great family run atmosphere here. Guests all sit around the family dinner table for breakfast and dinner. Attention to detail is everything from the deep, cloud-like beds to the impeccably sourced food, it is a place set apart.

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Evenings start with rhubarb martinis from the Victorian walled garden, though this obviously changes with the seasons, their hedgerow martini of autumn fruits is something of a legend. They keep rare breed pigs including Saddlebacks, Gloucester Old Spots and Durocs all of which appear on the menu in some form, breakfast being the natural starting point. A meander around the estate is a chance to see a country house which is truly embedded in the locality. Justin proudly shows off their chickens, doves, donkey’s and a motley pack of dogs which add a huge amount of personality to the setting. Guests can choose to go fishing in the local river for salmon and trout, and then see the fish appear on their dinner menu.

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Justin’s father Jeremy grows a huge amount of vegetables throughout the year in Ballyvolane’s vast walled garden. Guests are lucky enough to see these appear on the menu which often includes more exotic vegetables like sea kale, asparagus and globe artichokes. Salad leaves of all hues and textures are grown along with chard, spinach, courgettes, all sorts of cabbages, curly kale, beetroot, Jerusalem artichokes and four varieties of potatoes. And that’s just the short list. Fruit such as loganberries, figs, pears, apples and raspberries are served up in season and the green house is used for growing cucumbers, chilies and tomatoes too.

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The menus change daily and are dictated by what is ready to harvest, what’s seasonal and of course the weather and fishing conditions also dictate what will appear on your plate.


Ballyvolane House, Castlelyons, Fermoy, Co. Cork. Tel + 353 (025) 36 349.

www.ballyvolanehouse.ie

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Friends Of FEAST: Firehouse Bakery

Posted on December 9, 2013

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In the run up to the release of our 3rd issue of FEAST: A Dinner Journal, and our very first print edition on December 14th, we are taking a look back at some of the Irish food champions who have filled the pages of our previous issues.  Our visit to the Fire House Bakery was the first feature we ever shot for the magazine.


An obsession with detail has got a bit of a bad rap in recent years, yet it is the deep knowledge of the details of a craft which ensure the very best quality. That’s what you’ll find at the Firehouse Bakery on Heir Island where Patrick Ryan and partner Laura Moore have created a bakery school of unparalleled excellence.

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Patrick is the star of BBC2’s the Big Bread Experiment, which
charted a social experiment in reuniting a community through bread. He is also the co author of Bread Revolution. He wrote this book with Duncan Glendinning who hails from Bath, where Patrick spent four years as head baker at Duncan’s Thoughtful Bread Company, an award wining artisan bakery.

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The Firehouse Bakery is located on a picturesque island off the West Cork coast. A ferry takes you across the sea to their world of baking, where all aspects of their craft are taught from bread and scones to sour dough. Once you’ve finished pummelling and proving, the baking is done in the wood burning clay oven, the only oven they use. Time spent at the school is an opportunity not just to learn bread making but to gain a life skill that was previously such an important part of daily Irish life. The work at Firehouse Bakery acts as an ark of ancient skills where hands are still intimately involved in the bread making process. Machines that make soulless bread have no place at Firehouse Bakery where the human touch has been woven back into this most ancient of foods.

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Alongside Patrick you’ll find his ever supportive partner Laura Moore. They have quickly developed a highly successful business, and are kept busy with bookings which already stretch into the summer. The pair have also just launched a bakery in Delgany, Co. Wicklow, which is now up and running.

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In an age of mass bread production this thriving artisan business is a lesson in the fine art of integrity and quality. They shared their rosemary and olive oil sourdough bread for our Spring/Summer 2013 feast as well as a bit of a masterclass in giving life to your very own sourdough starter. Bread revolution, here we come.


Firehouse Bakery, Heir Island, Skibbereen, Co. Cork, Ireland, Tel: +353 85 1561984.

www.thefirehouse.ie

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Friends Of FEAST: Connemara Hill Lamb

Posted on December 8, 2013

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In the run up to the release of the Winter issue of FEAST: A Dinner Journal on December 14th, we are taking a look back at some of the Irish food champions we’ve met in our previous issues…



If ever the essence of terroir was expressed in an Irish product it is Connemara Hill Lamb. We visited Martin Joe Kerrigan’s lamb farm at the edge of Lough Corrib and in the heart of the Connemara Ghaeltacht region. He is part of a group of farmers who have gathered together to promote and protect the lamb which is indigenous to the Connemara region. The Connemara Blackfaced Horned Ewe dates back to the 1800’s.

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The grand sweep of herbage, heathers and grasses on the Connemara Hills are its feed which gives the lamb a natural, succulent flavour with a very pronounced aroma. The carcass is lean and the meat is rose red in colour with a solid deep, texture and a light covering of fat.

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Like other heritage livestock it matures at a slower rate gaining the benefits of their natural habitat in the taste. The result is a lamb of specialised quality which is an expression of the heathers, herbs and grasses of Connemara, almost symbols of Ireland in themselves. When Martin Joe was growing up, the lower lands were saved for the dairy cows but now the lamb have become his main source of income.

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Modernity is only allowed to peek in where it doesn’t interfere with the traditions of the region. Martin Joe used to walk the land but he now uses a quad bike, though the fences which divide the lands are all maintained by hand. While we were up the mountain shooting, ten lambs were born and we watched them up and walking within a few hours.

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The lamb has won a number of important awards including one from the Guild of Irish Food Writers. Most importantly has been their designation of EU wide recognition through Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, a little like an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC), on French wines and food. There are at present only three others in Ireland. Without the dedication and passion of these farmers this breed would no longer exist and our feast would be sadly lacking in the taste of Connemara Hill Lamb.

 

Connemara Hill Lamb, Corr Na Mona, Connemara, Co. Galway, Tel +353 9495 48798.

www.connemarahilllamb.ie

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Friends Of FEAST: Damson Diner

Posted on December 7, 2013

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In the run up to the release of the Winter issue of FEAST: A Dinner Journal on December 14th, we are taking a look back at some of the Irish food champions we’ve met in our previous issues…

Hipster New Yorkers probably come to Damson Diner for inspiration. Located on South William Street in Dublin 2, the space is a modern style American diner with neon lights, exposed pipes and high ceilings. They’ve the low-down on what’s happening in the food world too.

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Run by Oisin Davis, formerly of The Sugar Club, and the guys behind Coppinger Row the diner serves up dishes like Vietnamese bánh mi, a sort of light baguette along with other Thai street food favourites. You’ll also find Louisiana crowd pleasers like po’ boys and Indian inspired nibbles like courgettes and fennel bhaji.

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We love the food but we’re in love with the cocktails. Damson have their cocktail shakers right on the ancient and modern zietgeist by celebrating old infusion traditions. Foraged wild foods like sloes and elderflowers are combined with gin, vodka and whiskey helping to revive old glories like elderflower gin but creating exciting new mixes too. These are then combined into the latest cocktails, one of which they kindly shared with us for our Spring 2013 feast.



HEDGEROW COCKTAIL



70ml elderberry infused cork dry gin
50ml crinnaughtan Apple Juice
20ml green Tea Syrup a dash of lemon juice


Chill a tumbler with ice and water and set aside. Place all ingredients in the shaker with ice, shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Empty your tumbler and strain the shaker into the glass. Garnish with a preserved baby apple or slices of apple dipped in lemon. The Damson Diner’s gin was infused for 5 months with wild Irish elderberries, though we have a 2 month version below.



ELDERBERRY GIN



500g elderberries, ripe

100g sugar

700ml cork dry gin gin


When gathering the elderberries make sure to just pick the ripe ones. Be a responsible forager too, always leave plenty behind for the birds. To prepare the berries use a fork to strip them from the stalks. Pick through removing any unripe berries and stalks.
Put the berries in a microwave proof bowl and pop in the microwave for about 2 minutes. Stir half way through. The berries are ready for the next stage when they have started to split and juice is coming out. They should be hot but not collapsing into a mash. A more traditional method is to piece each berry with a darning needle instead of heating in the microwave.
Once the berries are ready place in a sterilised jar, add the sugar and finally the gin. Seal tightly and shake vigorously. Shake two or three times a day for for 2-3 days ensuring all the sugar has dissolved. Store in a dark press or shed for one month.
Strain the berry and gin mix through a fine muslin. Taste for sweetness and add sugar if necessary. Bin the berry mush and store the liquid for another month before decanting into individual bottles.


Damson Diner, 52 South William St, Dublin 2; Tel: + 353 1 677 7007.

www.damsondiner.com

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Friends of FEAST: Brown Hound Bakery…

Posted on December 6, 2013

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In the run up to the release of the Winter issue of FEAST: A Dinner Journal on December 14th, we are taking a look back at some of the Irish food champions we’ve met in our previous issues…

In our Spring 2013 issue of FEAST, we visited the Brown Hound Bakery in Drogheda Co. Louth: The cakes and pies in the Brown Hound Bakery initially look familiar. Then a closer inspection of the exquisitely hand-written labels reveal clever twists which cast the sort of spell that makes you want to buy double. Richly veneered wooden cabinets act as counter tops and display areas for mountains of chocolate cakes, torched meringue, American style parmesan-chive scones, apple monkeybread, pumpkin spiced doughnuts and chocolate banana bread.

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Precious take-away treats are carefully wrapped and tied with dainty string, more of Jeni Glasgow’s just-so stylish take on life. They shared their lemon temples recipe with us for our feast and we’ve been worshipping these tangy treats ever since. Brown Hound Bakery, Drogheda, Co. Louth. Tel: + 353 (0) 41 983 3792

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FEAST: A Dinner Journal – Winter 2013/2014

Posted on December 5, 2013

FEASTSUMMERCOVERyiyIntroducing the brand new issue of FEAST: A Dinner Journal and also our first official print issue.  In this Winter issue we side step the Christmas festivities and instead focus on the ingredients from the season as a whole, running in to the new year.  We visit artisan producers and craftspeople all over Ireland to gather the ingredients for a seasonal FEAST which we celebrated at 12, Henrietta Street, a grand old Georgian building in the heart of Dublin city.


This issue will be available on our free iPhone/iPad app which can be downloaded here.  In Ireland readers for the first time will be able to purchase print copies in Easons bookshops priced €3.95.



The Winter issue will be on sale from December 14th.


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