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Friends of FEAST: Wall & Keogh

Posted on March 26, 2014

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In the run up to the release of our 4th issue of FEAST: A Dinner Journal, and our 2nd print edition, we are taking a look back at some of the Irish food champions who have filled the pages of our previous issues.

When Oliver Cunningham opened his tea emporium he insisted that the name Wall & Keogh stayed above the door, the historic shop- space in Portobello needed to speak of its past as well as look to the future. Although a super-stylish space has been created inside with chocolate browns, oranges and accents in sky blue and white the space is sensitively managed and still echoes its earlier architecture.


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“We’re only passing through,” Oliver explains, as far as he’s concerned he is only minding the building for the next generation. Oliver opened the doors for business in December 2010, joining a growing band of teashops and coffee houses in Dublin, but few are as chilled as this little gem. The counter is packed with gleaming glass jars filled with every conceivable variation of tea, tisane and infusion. But none of them have arrived here by chance. Oliver had previously spent many years back-packing around the world and worked in tea and coffee plantations from Brazil and Vietnam to Guatemala. He receives many samples of teas from suppliers but only the finest will make the cut. Each tea tells a story and he knows each one. His passion is palpable as he tells us that regardless of the function of the tea, whether it is medicinal or for indulgent flavour, it must be of the highest quality. The tea is sold in plain brown bags with a simple label so people aren’t paying for packaging; all the investment goes into the quality of the tea.

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Step into Wall & Keogh and you step into a world of calm, nobody is in a rush here. Whether you want to chill downstairs in the kitsch 70s space, curl up with a book in a cosy corner by the counter or pop outside to the back terrace you’ll step back into our busy capital with a sense that all is well with the world. After all, most problems can be solved with a cup of tea.

Wall & Keogh

www.wallandkeogh.com

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Friends of FEAST: Highbank Orchard

Posted on March 21, 2014

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In the run up to the release of our 4th issue of FEAST: A Dinner Journal, and our 2nd print edition, we are taking a look back at some of the Irish food champions who have filled the pages of our previous issues.

Julie and Rod Calder-Potts’ idyllic Kilkenny farm is a successful business where the bottom line is balanced with stewardship and strong organic principles. Their sustainable ideals have seeped into all they do, including the gentle growth of related farm businesses. They have carefully renovated the stone courtyard and farm buildings which now include a small shop and a space to sit and enjoy the farm’s bounty. There are rooms to rent in the renovated farmyard buildings too but Julie’s marketing plan is
a kindly one – there’s a pensive look in her eye as she explains that it would suit people in need of nurturing or perhaps an artist yearning some creative space.

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We arrived on a damp autumn day and found a spread of venison for lunch in their toasty farmhouse kitchen. In the middle stands an ancient tree trunk as part of the work unit and a range oven emits warmth and the smells of sweet dessert treats to come. If Bilbo Baggins lived in Kilkenny it would probably be here. Once we were fed and watered with plenty of their apple juice and a taste of their Medieval Honeyed Cider we meandered around the orchard. Rod Calder-Potts filled us in on the nuanced differences between the apple varieties – some were better for cider others were better for syrup, some could be enjoyed shaken from the trees. The rich limestone soil here is ideal for the success of the organic orchard and just to be clear what organic means to them: that’s no herbicides, chemical fertilizers or GMOs. Indeed GMOs are treated with such derision that that they don’t use manure from animals fed on GM food. The first apples were planted here in 1969 and the farm went organic in 1994. Part of this process has been the creation of two small lakes and a variety of habitats including woodland which ensures a level of bio- diversity so important to the practical workings of an organic farm.

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Their Organic Orchard Syrup has become a popular ingredient in many kitchens and we’re a little in love with their Dessert Cider. Never people to rest on their laurels there are also plans afoot to make a bitters – ideal for the many Irish hedgerow and foraged cocktails appearing across the country.

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 Highbank Orchards.

www.highbankorchards.com