Three Biabeag Meet the Maker events during Savour Kilkenny

Because I was at the Slow Food Terra Madre gathering in Turin last year (2014) I missed out on Savour completely. So I am looking forward to both browsing the food producers marketing over the weekend and also to having fun and exploring the world of food producers each evening in Butler House.

This series will continue with the format we trialled during the Theatre of Food this year which was inspired by an idea from Patrick Ryan of Firehouse – Product collaboration panel. So each evening we will have 3 producers who have worked together to produce at least one new product.

The format of each evening will be each individual producer telling their own story for about 25 minutes and then the panel of 3 talking about the product collaborations they came up with for the series. Questions and discussions with the audience throughout.

Capacity in Butler House (a wonderful venue) is limited to 45 per evening. Tickets here.

Friday, October 23rd, 6pm – The Distiller, The Chocolatier & The Cheesemaker


Join Julie Calder Potts, from Highbank Orchard; Mary Teehan, from Truffle Fairy and Siobhán Ní Gháirbhith, from St Tola in an after dinner treats inspired evening.

UPDATE 11th Oct. Siobhan can’t make it for unavoidable reasons (missing you!) but our award winning local cheese maker Helen Finnegan from Knockdrinna is happily stepping in. Welcome 🙂

Syrup and spirits from organic apple are the centrepiece of this trio’s work with chocolates and cheese being added liberally.

Buy tickets here :-).

Saturday October 24th – The Butcher, The Baker and the Beer Maker


This trio had a lot of fun when we had this session at Theatre of Food :-). From left to right in order of beardiness are Patrick Ryan, Firehouse Bakery, Peter Rainier, Wicklow Wolf and Ed Hicks, Hicks and Co Butchers.

Bread, sausages and beer. Although not always in that order.

Buy tickets here :-).

Sunday October 25th – The Baker, The Forager and the Distiller


We finish off the series with a Waterford trio. Lead by Sarah Richards from Seagull Bakery are Tom Jones, Sea of Vitality and Nichola Beresford, from Muldoon Whiskey.

Sourdoughs, seaweeds and a whiskey liqueur form the basis of this evenings conversations.

Buy tickets here :-).

Look forward to seeing you there.


Biabeag kicking off Theatre of Food on Friday 4th September

With a programme of Autumn events slowing starting to coming into place I have a deadly one to start off with.

On Friday 4th at 4pm I am nervously kicking off Sally McKenna’s Theatre of Food with this trio of talented and passionate food producers. Nervous because the programme includes the most amazing of chefs, producers and foodies and this is my first outing! These 3 will be fine.


Thats Patrick (Firehouse Bakery), Ed Hicks (Hicks Traditional Pork Butchers) and Quincey (Wicklow Wolf).

They have been experimenting with a product collaboration for a couple of months now and Friday will see a mass unveiling and tasting for our audience. Ed Hicks has been teasing shots of the possible end result recently:

If you are around on Friday do come along. Rarely will you get to hear about and be the first of the public to taste such a product offering :-).

October sees a Foraging and Wild Producers event in Cooks Academy on 13th October (Tuesday) and 3 consecutive days of Meet The Collaborating Producers during Savour Kilkenny – you can buy tickets for those now here.




Meet The Brewers, @cooksacademy 15th June

After a great initial evening with the Real Bread Ireland bakers on 27th April the next Biabeag event in Cooks Academy is on 15th June when I will be chatting to 3 superb craft brewing brands.

You can book tickets here.

Caroline (first below) helped us put the lineup together and we have deliberately gone for a spread of experience so that, amongst other things, we can contrast the changing landscape for craft brewery startups over the last 4 or 5 years.

Caroline Hennessy, 8 Degrees (founded 2011)

Caroline has been closely involved with 8 Degrees since day 1 and she is also the co-author of Slainte, The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider.

Daire Harlin, Brú Brewery (founded 2013)

He left his job as a solicitor to co-found Bru Brewery and that cost €250,000 for the kit out.


Photo courtesy of the Irish Times


Barry O’Neill, O’Brother Brewing (founded 2015)

Three brothers, hows that going to work out? Barry (pictured here with his siblings Brian and Padhraig) will let us know.


Photo courtesy of the Irish Independent


For more information and to book tickets click here.


Irish Food and Drink Producers worth getting to know @unakavanagh

Úna-Minh Caomhánach has a series of posts that I’d be proud of right here.

Short informative listings of food producers who catch her eye. And 18 of them so far makes this a consistent update for her. They started in September 2014.

Here’s a list of the producers in the last 3 to give you a sense of them:

Part 18:

Tynedale Goats
Wild About
Toby’s Cider
Vera Miklas
Rake of Cakes

Part 17:

Ayle Farm
Duncannon Smokehouse
Joe’s Farm Crisps
Delish Melish
Blast and Wilde

Part 16:

Irish Wagyu Beef
Burren Free Range Pork
Ballybryan Bronze Turkeys
Mr Crumb
Naturally Cordial

Screenshot 2015-05-03 19.37.34

Thank you Úna-Minh 😉


Next Biabeag event is in Cooks Academy, Dublin – Monday 27th April

With a lull in the Highbank Orchards series because I want to focus some time on Real Bread Ireland an opportunity came up to do a couple of events with Cooks Academy on South William Street in Dublin.

It is owned and run by Vanessa and Tim Greenwood and their genuine passion for great food is what drove them to open up 10 years ago. So I was happy when they asked me to bring some of the Meet The Producer conversations to their place of work.

We are kicking off on Monday 27th with a chat with 3 Real Bread Ireland bakers.

  • Thibault (Tibo) Peigne, Tartine
  • William Despard, Bretzel
  • Eoin Cluskey, Firehouse Bakery

will join us and share the deep passion that each of them have for proper bread and baking. It will be the first outing for Eoin who apparently has been carrying Patrick Ryan for years now and is finally going to emerge from under his bosses shadow 🙂

You can find out more about the evening and book tickets here.

Look forward to seeing you on the night.




A day with Joe Fitzmaurice, Riotrye on his Sourdough Course

I spent a day with my son last weekend learning to bake sourdough bread with Joe Fitzmaurice of RiotRye Bakery in Cloughjordan. I know his family for years (having been a customer a long time ago of Blazing Salads when it was in Powerscourt) and got to know him over the last 4 or 5 years as he reestablished his business in Irelands most famous eco-village. He is also a founding member of Real Bread Ireland.

The course was 7 hours long and it flew. Over the course of the day we made 6 loaves each – 2 each of wheat, rye and spelt sourdoughs. The wheat needs the most loving so we started on that and worked it each 30 minutes until it was ready for the oven.

The other two we mixed and prepared straight away 🙂

I am mostly going to tell this story with the photos I took – keeping in mind that for most of the day your hands are covered in dough/flour so there is no way to take your phone out and snap!

There is also a video towards the end where Joe explains more about his (slightly famous in bread baking circles) wood fired brick oven.

Strongly recommend this to anyone who wants to learn and enjoy bread.


We start in a working bakery with 8 places prepared

We start in a working bakery with 8 places prepared

Locally grown biodynamic rye. Joe talks about this a lot during the course.

Locally grown biodynamic rye. Joe talks about this a lot during the course.


This is some of that rye sprouting,

This is some of that rye sprouting,


A small hand mill for preparing tiny amounts of flour

A small hand mill for preparing tiny amounts of flour


At scale Joe uses organic flours from Shipton Mill in the UK. Has bought directly from them since he started.

At scale Joe uses organic flours from Shipton Mill in the UK. Has bought directly from them since he started.


When you are working with a deep oven you need mechanical help!

When you are working with a deep oven you need mechanical help!


Courses don't run themselves and Julie, Joe's partner, is around for a lot of the day helping him.

Courses don’t run themselves and Julie, Joe’s partner, is around for a lot of the day helping him.


For participants who prepared their own starters (fermented flour) Joe gave feedback on each of them.

For participants who prepared their own starters (fermented flour) Joe gave feedback on each of them.


A free coating of flour goes with the day

A free coating of flour goes with the day

Joe spends time both explaining the essence of bread and also sharing his views on food and people. Its great :-)

Joe spends time both explaining the essence of bread and also sharing his views on food and people. Its great 🙂

Take local timber, burn it and this is what you get.

Take local timber, burn it and this is what you get.

This is the end result, in this case a white wheat sourdough

This is the end result, in this case a white wheat sourdough

A full basket of tasty real breads was ours to take home

A full basket of tasty real breads was ours to take home

thanks to Joe and Julie for the day. Much enjoyed, much learned. More here and book a course for yourself online.


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.