Meet The Bakers2 #realbread – 24th Jan 2015 at 6.30pm

EARLY DETAILS UPDATE – Real Bread Ireland  – a new network to encourage and support the baking of real bread will be launched on the evening.

Timing Date: Saturday 24th January 2015 Time: 6.30pm for 2 hours or thereabouts. Venue: Highbank Orchard – You will also be able to sample and buy from the wonderful range of Highbank Ciders – Proper, Medieval and Drivers and sample and buy from their their new Orchard Spirit range.

Map showing entrance to Highbank – Link to buy tickets (only €8 to join us if you book in advance, €5 for Slow Food Ireland members). €10 on door


Whats happening on the night? Josephine Plettenburg (Speltbakers), Joe Fitzmaurice (RiotRye) and Declan Ryan (Arbutus Bakery) all return to Highbank to continue the night of discussion and munching of real bread. For the first hour we’ll be hearing about their stories since the first gathering in January 2014 and exploring topics such as aggressive sourdoughs and the provenance and growing methods of the flours which each of them use. The second hour will be special.

They will be joined on stage by a number of other bakers including Patrick Ryan from Firehouse (Dublin) and Kemal Scarpello SlowFoodCo (Donegal) to launch Real Bread Ireland.

This is a new network to support and encourage real bread baking (by both bakeries and consumers) and to make it easier to identify and find. The bakers will be looking to discuss and debate how the new network should operate.

Link to buy tickets (only €8 to join us). If you want to sign up for my email newsletter click here.


My first published work – restaurant reviews of vegetarian meals in 1988

A couple of years before John and Sally McKenna’s guides started (I think it was 1991, the earliest I have is 2001) I was training as an accountant in KPMG in Limerick and through the internal grapevine heard about a guy in the Dublin office who had written a Vegetarian guide for Ireland.

This is 1988. So choices were few and far between. It was before I became vegan and I was happy to contact a number of restaurants around me and ask for a meal in return for a review and inclusion.

They were:

  • The Mustard Seed, Adare
  • Riverrun Gallery, Limerick
  • Foley’s Seafood & Steak Restaurant, Killarney
  • Mac Closkeys Restaurant, Bunratty

The guide has long since disappeared and I can’t even find a photo of the cover on the internet. Neither do I know what became of Brian and Carol!

But I do have a copy and finally got around to a clumsy digitising of it. This is it as uploaded into Scribd. Blazing Salads, Cornucopia and Quay Coop caught my eye as I scanned it it :-)

enjoy it, a tiny piece of the recent food history of Ireland


Biabeag Online update – now up 67 online sources of great Irish food products

I’ve put up another 8 online stores today – all websites based in Ireland and run by small to medium businesses where you can buy Irish artisan food products online. The full listing is also on a single page and I’ve reproduced below.

Enjoy browsing and shopping – either in this online stores or in your local independent food shop.


Food Producers


Abernethy Butter Company

AlgAran Seaweed

Badger & Dodo


Big Red Kitchen

Burren Smokehouse

Castlemine Farm

Chocolate Garden

Comeragh Mountain Lamb

Chez Emily

Connemara Smokehouse

Crowe Farm

Delicious Bakery

Diva Bakery

Donegal Rapeseed Oil

Duncannon Smokehouse

Eight Degrees

Foods of Athenry

Goatsbridge Trout Farm

Good Food Ireland

Green Saffron

Griffins Bakery

Herterich Artisan Meats

Highbank Organic Orchards

Irish Piedmontese Beef

Iswari Superfoods

James Whelan Butchers

Kerry Fish

Kettlyle Irish Foods

Kingfisher Tea

Kinvara Smoked Salmon


Leaves Pure Food

Maria Lucia Bakes

McCarthy’s of Kanturk

McGeough’s Artisan Butcher

Mileeven Honey

Natashas Living Food

Newgrange Gold


Real Italian Foodies

Rebel Chilli

Roscommon Chocolate Company

Seagull Bakery

Seymours Biscuits

Sprout & Co

Stript Snacks

The Apple Farm

The Cookie Jar

The Truffle Fairy


Wild Irish Sea Veg

Wyldsson Elite Nutrition

Pure Online

Absolutely Organic


Bite To Savour

Indie Fude

Made to Savour

Manna Organic Store

Plant Goodness

Offline and Online

Ardkeen Quality Food Store

Bradley off-Licence

My Mexican Shop

O’Briens Wine

Sheridans Cheesemongers

Learn to bake Real Bread – Kilkenny, Tipperary and Wicklow/Cork #realbreadireland

One of the aims of Real Bread Ireland is to help people rediscover the art of baking real bread at home. These are the members that run baking sessions:

Speltbaker, Kilkenny

These will run every second weekend starting on 14th/15th February. The bake house is small and numbers are limited to 5 per day. Because of this small number, we can tailor the course to individual requirements and make whatever people want to learn or have the biggest problems with.

Saturday is “the full Irish” and work on Soda breads, railway cake, fruit scones, stripy cats, apple tarts and such like and

Sunday is the continental day with yeast, sourdough and brioche dough, with loaves, rolls,  stromboli and pizza. 

The days are scheduled to run from 2-6pm on Saturdays and Sunday with tea and coffee at the start and a glass of wine with whatever we managed to make at the end of the day. We will supply all that is required for the days baking and people will receive a folder with recipes, addresses etc.

Cost is set at €60 per day or €100 per weekend. Contact Josephine on for more information

Riot Rye, Tipperary

Joe Fitzmaurice does both Sourdough and Introduction to Baking courses. This is the information on his Sourdough:

Sourdough Course

8 places, €95 per person, 1 day course
Saturdays – 28th Feb 2015, 14th & 28th March, 25th April 2015 with more dates to follow
11am-5:30pm, lunch included

You will learn

  • how to make flavoursome and highly nutritious sourdough breads
  • how to start and maintain a sourdough starter
  • how to manage the fermentation and flavour of your doughs
  • about the nutritional benefits and digestability of sourdough breads
  • You will gain an understanding of how to blend flours and flavours and refresh your sourdough starters. Using temperature and various fermentation techniques, you will learn how to work with the subtle and complex textures, flavours and forms of your breads.

You will bring home with you a selection of breads, fresh sourdough starter and the confidence to bake real bread at home!

Find out more on his website.

Firehouse Bakery

The most obvious place for a baker based in Delgany to run baking courses is in West Cork. On an island….

We limit our class numbers to ensure each course is personailized. Throughout the day you will work side by side with Patrick as he introduces you to the versatile world of real bread, no square and pre-sliced loaves here.

By the day’s end you will have produced authentic soda bread, seen your yeasted loaves rise and tasted both sweet and savoury treats. You might even get to meet the king of the bread basket, sourdough.

Where possible each course will be tailored to the needs, abilities and interests of the group. If you have a particular interest please let us know.

Course includes:

Return ferry to Heir Island
Full day hands on baking experience
Bake your very own hand made bread in a wood fired clay oven
Lunch with wine, with Roaringwater Bay serving as the back drop
An artisan baker’s goodie bag to take home
And as much freshly baked bread as you can carry
Split tins, cob loaves, pizzas, flat breads, foccacias, cinnamon swirls and a whole lot more are all waiting for you at the Firehouse Bakery and Bread school. Book your place today!

Timings: 10:30 am – 5:30pm Ferry from Cunnamore Pier at 10am ( Sundays 9.30am) Returns at 6pm

Cost: €110 per person

Check out their website for more details but as of the date of this post the 23rd June is the earliest there is space available! They also run evening courses in Delgany, equally booked out.

Keith – buying small scale Irish food products online

UPDATE 11:50 – I can see the site via iPhone over same wifi network but not on laptop on two different browers, Update again in a minute.

UPDATE 11:46 11th Dec – right now (8minutes after the blog post!) that website is down. It is hosted on so it is extremely unusual to see that. I had just purchased the domain name and tested that it was working so it maybe related to that. I’ll update again when up.

One of the ways in which small scale Irish food producers can survive and thrive is to develop alternative distribution and sales channels.

In some cases those channels fully substitute for working with distributors and/or retailers (either independent or multiples) and in other cases they are in addition to those.

When I worked with Bord Bia previously on this there were significant challenges to making a success of online retail – everything from the technology (websites, shopping carts and payment processing) through to fulfilment of multiple small orders.

It has gotten a lot easier and many more producers have moved to develop online stores – so many that when I finally got around to developing a quick guide/directory over Christmas I found more than I had anticipated and have been adding 3 or 4 a week as I see them. (There are no multiple retailers listed because they don’t need this assistance.)

The results are up on and it would be great if this makes it easier for small producers to sell and for us as consumers to find great food online – whether for regular purchases or irregular gifts and treats :-)

Some quick stats based on first 56 inclusions:

Screenshot 2015-01-11 11.31.31

Thats a lot of food producers selling their products with some of them using subscription packages to make it commercially viable and others like Real Italian Foodies curating a selection of products to make individual sales bigger.

As you can see online also makes it easier to reach niche food audiences and for those audiences to find relevant and suitable products.

If you find one I’ve missed please let me know in the comments and if there are inaccuracies point them out to me :-)


Food Producer Business – Starter Kit

This is a round up of a couple of different things I have referred to across different accounts and media. Aimed at anyone who is considering starting a business but especially a food product one in Kilkenny.

Farmers Markets:

You will want to test your product on real people. Farmers markets are the most popular and best way of doing this. Kilkenny has one every Thursday on the Parade outside the Castle. Here is Josephine, Spelt Bakers stall there:

Screenshot 2015-01-03 16.14.22

Food Production:

With initial production likely to be in your kitchen at home (unless you have very specific requirements) after a while you will hopefully need to produce in higher volumes. There is a commercial kitchen available to rent in Kilkenny

Further details:

  • 6 ring industrial gas hob / oven
  • Industrial fridge
  • industrial glass washer
  • Upright stainless steel deepfreeze
  • Double drainer sink and separate hand washing sink
  • PVC clad walls throughout
  • Industrial wall sockets and tiled floor with stainless steel gullies
  • Electricity and gas supply metered

For more information contact Kevin Mahon on +353 (86) 828 6863


Office space:

Not an problem initially but occasionally you might want to find a space to do your marketing and admin in. The newly launched (available from mid January) shared work space New Work Junction offers an affordable and professional working environment.

Screenshot 2015-01-03 16.22.47

Commercial Focus:

With a multiplicity of startup programs around 2013 saw the beginning of one that has gained a great reputation. The Food Academy is run by Bord Bia and the local Enterprise Offices with the Support of Musgraves. Right now I can’t find an up to date website for it but check this Fingal LEO link for some info and contact your local LEO office.

Food Academy Start Logo


Biabeag – WordPress generated 2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Decided to include it as a blog post :-)

Some of the stats are kinda interesting.


Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.