* The Tipperary Food Producers are invading Dublin with a once off Pop-up restaurant
Marie Antoinette would approve! Tipperary’s top food producers are to let them eat more than cake when they showcase the best of the county’s traditional, wholesome food at a special pop-up dinner to be known as, “Eat Tipp” in Avoca, Dublin.
I’ve been doubly blessed this week by two different people who both gave me a bunch of home grown rhubarb. I was thrilled; my rhubarb cup was truly running over. There was far too much for me and I couldn’t find anyone else at the time to share it with, so I took it all home and sat in the kitchen admiring the over abundant pile sitting on the worktop. It also made me smile as I remembered asking another foodie friend some years ago what was the best thing to do with rhubarb. This culinary comic genius suggested that I eat it as it wasn’t much good for anything else!
We share a great deal in common with our nearest neighbour the UK. We don’t think anything of watching British television or reading British magazines and embracing the texts and programmes as our own. We’ll watch cookery programmes, largely presented by British chefs and cooks and we forget we are watching something from another country as the ingredients, methods and tools used are all totally familiar. An indigenous French or Italian cookery programme would be watched with an entirely different mindset. Indeed even programmes made in America where the language is the same have obvious discrepancies when it comes to ingredients in particular. I am not aware of a general Irish supermarket that sells Marshmallow Cream or Graham Crackers, nor have I ever attempted to make a corn dog! Yet shows from Britain are watched avidly as if they are our own. Our own chefs even get in on the act and often pop up on UK shows and even host their own British made series.
The weather is strange at present, even by Irish standards. The rain is expected but the yo-yo-ing temperatures are beyond odd. Normally at this time of year the summer clothes are well and truly out, even if the day is slightly grey and overcast, as it is usually mild. Despite the longer, brighter evenings there is still an abundance of overcoats; unusually so if you ask me. I love each and every season but I’m not keen on this mixture. As far as I’m concerned it’s now early summer and so even if it looks wintry on the outside I think we should cook like summer on the inside. The difficulty is the rain and the cold don’t encourage light summery foods. A salad seems less than satisfying when the wind is howling and the rain pelting off the windows. There is a way around the dilemma and that’s by cooking warm foods with a summery attitude.
I had an absolutely filthy thought recently. It was mid afternoon and I was working on some very boring paperwork in the office when suddenly, out of nowhere, a soft, slightly warm and moist fat scone slathered with real butter, juicy raspberry jam with a generous dollop of cream sauntered nonchalantly into my thoughts. I tried hard to ignore this naughty scone that was salaciously dancing around my head and winking provocatively at me, as I knew to respond would mean leaving my desk and the dull but important task at hand.
On my way home recently, I stopped off at a little country café for a coffee. It was one of those rare overly warm and sunny April afternoons. As I sat there I realised that beyond the plate glass window at the back of the restaurant was a large chicken enclosure, where lovely, fat, fluffy and obviously healthy chickens were roaming around. They looked good, the enclosure was large and clean and so I would also assume they were very happy chickens. I have no doubt they supplied the eggs to the café and were also a lovely attraction for customers.
I have a funny feeling this is going to be my kind of year! I love 2012 already even though it is still but a pup. My excitement is twofold; first of all Tipperary is starting the year with an award, and a food award at that! Oh yes, in case you haven’t heard Tipperary has just been given the much coveted accolade of Food County of the Year in the well recognised 2011 Bridgestone Guides Megabytes Awards. The competition in this category is fierce every year but, according to the well known judges John and Sally McKenna, “Tipperary really has its act together managing to present a pop up shop selling the produce of 14 Tipp producers at Electric Picnic and organising their superb annual Long Table Dinner”. High praise indeed and I am delighted for the multiple Tipperary Food producers involved in both of those events under the umbrella of the Tipperary Food Producers Network. Lads, when it comes to prizes we’re gaining on the hurlers everyday!
In the wake of the most recent slash and burn budget, Wednesday night last at the Clonmel Park Hotel emerged like a glorious abundant mirage in a parched gloom and doom dessert. All thoughts of frugality and austerity were forgotten for a few hours as the stands of the Tipperary Food Producers Network overflowed with epicurean delights; no shortage or lack here. Everyone was assembled for the Rachel Allen Cookery Demonstration as part of the network’s Christmas food extravaganza now in its second year and having all the hallmarks of an annual event.
“These yoghurt pots have a taste of the Middle East, and though they’re deliciously sweet, they also manage to tick the healthy box. A lovely light dessert, they’re also perfect for breakfast”. – Rachel Allen
Celebrity chef, Rachel Allen, to put her tasty twist on Tipperary Food this Christmas
Top TV cook, Rachel Allen, will be making a special “Trip to Tipp” next month to host a Tipperary Food Producers Christmas Cookery Extravaganza.
I received a glorious gift of fresh carrots from a friend’s garden last weekend and decided to make carrot and coriander soup. Once October hits I love making fresh soups for these cooler days and I always feel very smug indulging in something so irresistibly tasty, safe in the knowledge that it is so virtuous. As I prepared everything for the pot, including one large potato, I was struck by how much we take the humble spud for granted. The onion is of course king of the kitchen for flavouring practically everything but the versatility of the potato should also be celebrated. Sadly I think our love affair with the potato while strong in reality has waned in prose.
Pat Whelan is a member of a dwindling brotherhood, independent butchers. In the 21st century world of supermarkets, it’s getting increasingly hard to find these food artisans who thrived in a bygone era when people moved away from farms and no longer raised their own meat. His shop, James Whelan Butchers, in Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland, has been in business since 1960. The current shop, in a strip mall adjacent to a major supermarket, was opened in the 1970s, The location was appealing because it had ample parking. When asked why he became a butcher, Whelan answers, “It’s part of my DNA. It seemed natural for me to do. It’s was never a question of doing anything else.” What Whelan calls the “art of butchering” has been in his mother’s family for five generations. His dad is still involved in the business.