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.

Keith

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.

Keith

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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

Keith

BiabeagOnline.com – 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 wordpress.com 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 www.biabeagonline.com 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 🙂

Keith

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.

still viewing window

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?

or

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

@riotrye and the Common Loaf

Back in January we hosted Meet The Bakers and one of the 3 was Joe Fitzmaurice

He had an itch and you could sense it. Or hear it if you listened to him carefully 🙂

He has scratched it and brought it forth. 

Screenshot 2014-09-01 20.53.26 IMG_8432

Its all about helping everyone to be able to bake #realbread at home. He shared his vision (video underneath), he showed us his locally grown rye (above) and he gave us a live demo of his bread recipe. 

Find out more at www.riotrye.ie

Keith

Raw Milk – why is it so important?

Within the Slow Food movement Raw Milk is seen as a great example of real food the way it should be without unnecessary processing.

Over on the newly relaunched Slow Food website (a big callout to Eilis Boyle who led this redesign and reimagining)  Darina Allen shares her own thoughts on raw milk and acknowledges the possible risks and what can constructively be done about them. From that piece:

“In countries both in Europe and the US, there is a growing demand for raw milk. In Germany, there are 50 registered raw milk producers. In Italy, farmers sell directly to the public through refrigerated dispensers in supermarkets, town squares, hospitals, schools. The sale of raw milk gained momentum so fast that at present almost 10% of the nation’s raw milk is now sold through dispensers).

In the US, 39 states have legalised the sale of raw milk and the demand for cream top milk in glass bottles continues to grow apace.”

On 5th April we will be speaking to three great Cheese Makers of whom 2 – Siobhan Ni Ghairbhith – St Tola: Irish Organic Goat Cheese, Co Clare and Tom Burgess – Coolattin Cheddar: Mature Raw Milk Cheddar, Co Wicklow – use raw milk in their products.

sttola_hard_cheese

This will be one of the topics we will get a chance to debate and explore on the evening. Find out more here.

Keith