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.

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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.

 

/Keith

 

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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.

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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.

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Photo courtesy of the Irish Independent

 

For more information and to book tickets click here.

Keith

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

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Thank you Úna-Minh 😉

Keith

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

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 ideasunlimited@eircom.net 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

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:

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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