Competition Time – Win a behind the scenes tour of the new @highbankorchard distillery

On Saturday 13th December Ireland’s smallest legal distillery launches in Highbank Organic Orchard.

This one is special for a number of reasons. Apart from the distinction of being the smallest it will also be the only organic spirit distillery in Ireland and also the only one where the raw material for the spirits is grown on the farm the distillery is based on.

Thats important to Rod and Julie Calder Potts who are the driving force behind this.

Saturday 13th will see a big crowd turn up for the opening of the distillery and that will be the first time that the spirits will be for sale. Its a food production facility so everyone who turns up will get to see the distillery through a special viewing window.

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But for a special group it will be different – you will get a tour of the facility behind the scenes (booties and the works) with Rod (the master distiller) explaining how this lovely machine works and showing you a batch of spirits in production. One of this special group will also win a signed bottle of the first production batch made :-).

This is RTE journalist Sarah McIntyre having that same tour yesterday.

 

What do you need to do to be in the winning?

Answer one of 2 questions either

a) in the comments here

b) on Twitter using #orchardspirit

c) on the Highbank Facebook Page

d) do a blog post and leave a link here or on their page

Q1 – what is the capacity in litres of the still?

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Q2 Come up with a word or phrase for the labelling on the spirit that best describes the idea that the spirit is distilled on the farm from crops grown on the same farm. In chocolate this can be referred to as Bean to Bar, you can also see references to a Single Estate food product. What would best capture this for you?

Enjoy and look forward to seeing you on the 13th :-)

Keith

Highbank Orchards Christmas Food and Craft Fair 2014

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This Highbank Orchards Christmas Food & Craft Fair 13th and 14th December (Saturday and Sunday) promises to be a two day Christmas Extravaganza for all the family.

At 12.00 Saturday 13th December Highbank Orchard will cut the ribbon to open Ireland’s smallest distillery and they will have for sale the first bottles of Highbank Orchard Spirit amidst a celebration of over 30 local food and craft stalls with hot and cold food, hot apple juice, Glasrai & Goodies hampers and toys – Christmas shopping made easy.

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There is are also Christmas trees, puppet shows by Miriam Lambert, Mid Winter Mini beast hunts with Monica, Orchard Train rides and of course Ann Neary & Edward Hayden’s ‘Stress Free Christmas Cooking’ accompanied by Breda McDonald making butter. And of course there will be an occasional appearance of Santa.

There is no entrance charge but it is recommended to prebook the events listed below as places are limited.

Ann Neary/Edward Hayden Present : Stress free Christmas Cooking

Anne Neary (Ryeland Cookery School) & Edward Hayden (TV3 celebrity chef) appear in our Cooking Pit. Pre booking essential.

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Image thanks to http://greensideup.ie

Miriam Lambert Puppeteer presents: Goldilocks and The Three Bears – ‘imagine a story come to life’

Suitable for families. Only €5.00 per head with prebooking essential to avoid disappointment.

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Midwinter mystery adventure with Monica Fleming

Discover what our native wildlife is getting up to in the depths of winter mini-beast quest, pond dipping, winter tree identification, build an animal hide.

Last years mini beast tours fascinated the younger children particularly; they could be seen enthusiastically shaking autumn leaves from trees to see what insects might be hiding there.

These adventures run from 2pm to 3.30 each day Saturday and Sunday.

Pre booking essential – click here to get your tickets now.

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Ballaghtobin Real Christmas Trees

These are Nordman non-shed trees direct from the growers and each tree is over 9 years old. They are netted for easy transport. You can buy one online here and collect on the day.

Ardkeen Waterford – eCommerce Trading Manager

Over in my day job with Near Future I am doing a small piece of helping out with Colin and Kevin down in Ardkeen Quality Food Store. It is around the relaunch of their eCommerce website and service and as part of that they wisely have decided to take on someone dedicated to making it a success.

Hence this role. It will initially be part time but I’d wager a bet that whoever gets this will be part of the success of online for them and grow the role.

eCommerce Trading manager

Have a look, have a think. You will need a chunk of eCommerce under your belt so you understand both the functionality that drives a successful online trading venture and equally importantly the psychology of online food purchasing.

Will you also be passionate about small scale food production? I’d say so :-)

Do share this with anyone who might fit the bill.

Keith

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The 4 minute guide to Cacao Bean’s by @BLYSS_choc

As the Biabeag series of talks and sessions develops it is good to move further back and explore the provenance of the raw materials and the early processing that they are subjected to.

In this short video Lyss talks us through the word of cacao beans and helps us to understand how vital they are to the end product. Get them wrong (and we covered this a lot during the Roaster event) and you are guaranteed to fail.

You can meet, listen to and discuss cacao with Lyss, Karen from Bean and Goose and Mary from Truffle Fairy on Saturday November 8th. Click here for more info and to book.

Keith

Slow Food Gatherings and Food Writing Workshop – Events coming up

A couple that might be of interest to you.

Dalkey Creates: Food Writing Workshop: 18th & 19th October

October sees the kick off of an inaugural writing festival for Dalkey from Thursday 16th– Sunday 19th October 2014. Of relevance to people who enjoy food is the workshop being run by Aoife Carrigy.

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Aoife is Secretary of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild, and an experienced editor, food writer and freelance journalist. She is a regular contributor to FOOD & WINE Magazine, The Irish Independent, The Sunday Times and The Irish Times, and was employed as a local editor for the Zagat guide to Dublin restaurants.

In Dalkey Aoife is presenting a food writing workshop with a strong practical focus and designed to appeal to writers of all levels of experience. Spread over two morning sessions to allow for hands-on workshopping of written material, this unique event will include a Q&A session with entrepreneurial restaurateur Rachel Clancy, a skills-based demonstration from head chef, Hadi Fahes, and a convivial three-course lunch designed to get your creative juices flowing.

For more information download this PDF Dalkey Creates Press Release_Food Writing Workshop details

To book click here.

RiotRye – Sourdough and Introduction to Baking: starting October 18th

For anyone who wants to learn the wonders of home baking and #realbread check out Joe Fitzmaurice and his Saturday courses starting in 2 weeks time.

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Slow Food Northern Ireland – Learn “Sourdough Bread”: Saturday 11th October

For those of you closer to the North this is a one day bread course by David Semple.

Booking details and info underneath (interesting to note that the oven pictured as well as some of the breads, are RiotRye‘s!)

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Wild And Slow: 8th & 9th November

This annual Slow Food event, held in Wicklow each year, celebrates everything that is good about Irish food: fresh, local, traditional and wild. With over 20 speakers and workshops and 5,000 people attending last year this is a great one to go to.

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Keith

Thanks to @badgeranddodo @ponaire @roastedbrown for a great Meet The Roasters

Saturday evening was really enjoyable – between 55 and 60 people heard 3 passionate roasters talk about their businesses, their stories and what makes it work for them.

Some quick notes and video below – but first a couple of photos from the full set that Ken McGuire took on the night.

Jennifer Ryan, Ponaire

Jennifer opened and her main focus was on the work she has done on getting her supplies of beans certified. Interestingly, and this lead to discussion with the audience and also her fellow roasters, she found the Fairtrade certification to be extremely bureaucratic (17 page form not only for each bean but each size of packaging for the same bean from the same source). What was also revealing (and this was also said by Ferg) is that the premium paid in each case is not passed onto the consumer.

So more work and less margin. But she is adamant that it is so important to her personally and she also believes in it as a core brand value for Ponaire.

She also spoke about something that she does which is to buy the entire crop from either a small holding completely or a given area of it. All helping to build up the connection back to the grower.

Ferg Brown, Roasted Brown

This is a quiet man on the press and blog side so the majority of what he had to share on the night was new to me. He is “only” in business for a couple of years in his current location (having started off as a mobile coffee stand (#streetfood) and after an initial rocky start he bought from Brock for a while and learned loads from him!

When he moved into Curved Street he initially sourced from Hasbean and then, via a roasting course in the UK, came across someone who was about to invest in a roaster (Notes Roastery in London) and they came to a con-acre arrangement! So every 2 weeks Ferg goes to the UK and roasts half a tonne (this is from memory, I take zero responsibility for its accuracy) of coffee and bags it. They share the fun of sourcing green beans together from a Norwegian based direct trade supplier – Nordic Approach and he again learns loads from his roasting partners.

Ferg is growing the business slowly and does not yet want the pressure that his own roastery in Dublin will bring in terms of the volume required for payback on the investment. He expands by waiting for new business to come in (mostly from new cafes/coffee shops that are opening). As he puts it Dublin is too small to be poaching business off other roasters – it is not a game he wants to play.

He also wants to build up relations with one or two coffee farmers directly and to be able to visit them and work with them to develop and grow both businesses simultaneously.

Brock Lewin, Badger and Dodo

Brock got the chance to coffee-geek out a little as the last speaker and you could tell how much he enjoys it. He is the largest of the 3 with 150 trade customers and plans for his own place in Galway which is opening in October.

So he shared a little of his back story (with a sidebar on the strong coffee culture in Melbourne), and then spoke about the growth of his business and how he has changed and adopted to that growth. Stuff like being a judge in the Barista championship had to be stopped (because of time pressure) but the importance of Barista’s in the chain is carried through in the business through his insistence on his customers having fully trained barista’s on staff with training from Vin being provided as part of that.

On the geeky side of coffee brewing you will need to watch the video – wayyy too much detail to include here and if I got it wrong there is a chance he would hunt me down :-).

Thank you’s

Thanks to Jennifer, Brock and Ferg for coming to Highbank and sharing their passions. Thanks to the audience who came along (including a couple who travelled from Northern Ireland! They worked it into a visit to friends in Callan). And thanks to Ken for his pics and video and to our hosts Julie and Rod in Highbank Organic Orchards for the unseen work they put in each time to set the stage for this events.

Improvements for next time

A couple of things that will be done to improve the next one – Meet the Chocolatiers and Chocolate Maker. We will start at 18.30 and not 18.00 to give people a chance to finish off Saturday commitments and get in on time. And I will work harder to ensure that the sharing by the panel is opened up to questions and interaction with the floor :-)

Comments and feedback welcome as always.

Keith

Great @slowfoodhq video that explains Slow Food Movement clearly in under 2 minutes

This is worth a quick watch – really clearly communicated and executed by the team in Italy.

Slow Food South East will be briefly explained and introduced at Meet The Roasters on Saturday and we will have membership forms and be there to answer questions. Inbetween coffee imbibing :-)

keith