Cheese, Chocolate and Spirits. Friday 23rd Oct, Butler House

The first of these 3 special Biabeag Meet the Makers events kicks off with a trio grounded in Kilkenny. The theme is the After Dinner Treat and our producers will be messing with your taste buds a little bit with their tastings. Tickets for all 3 events here.

Each of these evenings has a lead producer – the one whose works with the others to shape the evening and on Friday its Julie Calder Potts from Highbank.

Julie Calder Potts, Highbank Organic Orchard

Julie and Rod (her husband and parter on the farm) have farmed organically for over 20 years and now they have the largest organic orchard in Ireland. Having moved from apple juice to orchard syrup (like maple but nicer!) they then developed a range of ciders before reaching the pinnacle of their range – the Single Estate Gin, Vodka and Brandey which they launched in December 2014.

I’ve known Julie and Rod for over a decade and they have become great friends of mine. I admire their ability to constantly develop and refine and their dedication to organic farming.

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Mary Teehan, Truffle Fairy

For just over a decade Mary has been making a range of award winning chocolates in Kilkenny. Starting at home and selling at farmers markets she make the jump to her own production area and cafe in Thomastown and started to export as well as sell here in Ireland.

For the first couple of years of her business I couldn’t buy from Mary as the limited space she had meant she could not do a vegan range. Since she moved she has always had at least one truffle in the range that is vegan and also produces a constantly evolving range of raw chocolate slices. Happiness for me!

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Helen Finnegan, Knockdrinna

Helen set up a year before Mary (2004) and she slowly expanded with the help of Carlow based cheese maker Elizabeth Bradley. In 2008 she took over the cheeses made by Lavistown in Kilkenny and in the same year she became involved with the Little Cheese Company – an organic cheese collective based in Waterford.

She has won stacks of awards, the most special being the win of Knockdrinna Gold semi-hard goats cheese at the 2013 British Cheese Awards where it was named ‘Best Modern British’.

I know Helen since she worked in Local Rural Development in Kilkenny where the obviously glamorous life of food producers lured her to start up herself. Oops 🙂

Tickets for this event are €10 and you can buy them here

Keith

 

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Keith

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

 

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

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.

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