Archive for June 20th, 2008

Dianne Curtin

Dianne Curtin

Provided by Dianne Curtin:

Sherkin Island is the pearl in West Cork’s crown of culinary beauty. This nugget of rock has a gastronomy all its own. Atlantic waters off the island are famous for finest oysters, mussels, periwinkles, shrimps, crabs, and an array of fresh fish. Come and join us to celebrate all these and more in an idyllic setting just ten minutes by ferry from the mainland.


Saturday 5th July 2008

A day of workshops dedicated to island life:

This day is packed with gastro-education, tastings, and above all – fun

Venues and times: Various. Call Matt Stephens at Sherkin Island Development Office 028 20802 for details.

Workshops include:

  • Kids in the kitchen! with Dianne Curtin – Cook, Food writer, Author. A Cookery Demonstration specially for kids and their mums – fresh fruit smoothies, real burgers and more – with lots to taste!
  • The Art of Traditional Seed Saving – the secret of growing veggies from your own seeds with Madeline McKeever, Ardagh Organic Farm, Church Cross West Cork
  • Start a Kitchen Garden: A small patch of ground is all that’s needed to produce a glut of homegrown herbs and vegetables with Marian Crudge – Horticultural expert
  • Cookery Demonstration: Utilising garden vegetables for summery salsas and relishes with Karen Austin, Acclaimed Cook of Lettercollum Kitchen Project, Clonakilty
  • How to keep a few hens in the garden – and enjoy your own free range eggs every day. Workshop with Giana Ferguson, Rare Breed Hen expert of Gubbeen Farmhouse
  • Food Integrity: Get to know where your food comes from and how it’s produced, and enjoy a tasting of Caherberg and Roscarberry Recipes award winning pork products with Avril Allshire Howe, Caherbeg Free Range Pork, Rosscarbery
  • Home brewing and Wine making: Taste some delicious home brews made from wild and cultivated Sherkin island fruits with Chris Dobin, Sherkin Island wine and beer maker

Saturday Evening

Go Fish!

A simple supper of the freshest fish, caught in the waters of Sherkin – who could wish for more? Catch of the day, cooked on the barbie by food writer and Slow Food campaigner Dianne Curtin and artisan producer Iain Flynn of McBride and Flynn. Enjoy the feast in the company of a traditional story teller weaving a magical tale of the sea – an evening designed to bring out the big kid in all of us! Music till late.

Venue: Jolly Roger Pub Food served 6.30pm – 8 -30pm


Sunday 6th July

Ireland’s First Ever Off-shore Artisan Food market!

Yes it’s true – it’s never been done before! Stallholders from Sherkin and the mainland come together, to bring an array of artisan specialities to the island. Browse the stalls of hand made farmhouse cheese, fresh Sherkin vegetables and seafood, artisan sweets, chutneys, preserves, and dressings, pastries, hand made breads, speciality west cork charcuterie and Caribbean pickles – we’ve got them all. Guest of Honour, Darina Allen of Ballymaloe Cookery School. After all that gourmet retail therapy, you’ll need a good lunch with a Slow Food theme – and we’ve got that too! Tuck into spit roast whole hog, fresh Sherkin oysters and mussels and delicious salads from island vegetables and herbs , and enjoy some trad music while you munch.

Venue: Hotel Garden , Time: 12pm – 5pm Lunch served 1pm – 3pm.

Music for Sunday evening venue to be decided

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Iain Flynn of McBride & Flynn, Kinsale

Iain Flynn of McBride & Flynn, Kinsale

Through all the great years of the Good Food Circle in Kinsale it had always puzzled us at Fuchsia why the area remained a blank on our maps of food producers. The gourmet capital of Ireland heaved with culinary talent and energy but you wouldn’t find the name Kinsale in your fridge or cupboard. Gladly in the last 2 years this anomaly has really begun to rectify itself and the key catalyst has been the Tuesday farmers market. This week I met with Iain Flynn of McBride and Flynn, an enterprise that draws together the strengths of the town, pairing the culinary flair of chef Paul McBride with Iain’s skills, appetite for work and determination to succeed.




The business started with jams and chutneys, which the pair produced on their days off from Acton’s Hotel where Paul had taken Iain on an as an apprentice. Their plan was to sell from the hotel and a few local shops but then the farmers market opened in 2006 – “We said we’d come down and try it out for a laugh. And we were there on the first day and doing fine with our preserves, but we looked at each other and said we’re both chefs, we’re good at cooking for people let’s do more and use our skills.” So to their stall they added pates, dressings, quiches and meals, like beef stroganoff, chicken a la king, pepper beef and Thai curry. The range changes over time in response to feedback and requests from their customers. “I love the feedback at the market; once you build up a relationship with people they are comfortable being really honest. It’s also great to see people sitting down to enjoy our food, which they can do at the Kinsale and Blackrock markets. When you sell to shops the only feedback you get is how many are on the shelf at the end of the week.”


The markets have also been important for Iain in sourcing produce. “We try our utmost to use local produce. I buy most of our vegetables from guys at the markets, they know what’s good and I know where it has come from. It also puts a bit of pressure on me because I want to get the best out of their ingredients and do justice to the work they’ve put into growing them. As chefs we’re part of a chain not the sole creators. We buy our beef from O’Connells at the Lough, they really look after their meat, no shortcuts like electronic tenderizing. It’s hung for 21 days and you can taste and see the difference, when you cook it, it doesn’t shrink to half its size.”


Iain is now working full time in the business and Paul McBride comes in on his days off. Iain’s passion for culinary learning and discovery is something he says has rubbed off from Paul, who describes his own involvement at the markets as more enjoyable golf. For Paul to have retained the enthusiasm of the hobbyist after decades in commercial kitchens shows a true calling. With this ethos their business will never be about making a quick buck, a motivation that Iain feels has let down most of the local restaurant scene. Iain also has an intuitive understanding of real food from his home life and is not impressed by showiness. “My mother and sister are great cooks and love cooking at home.” In fact, Iain has persuaded his mother to supply their stall with her brown bread, wonderfully enriched with treacle, eggs and oatmeal.


Working alone in food preparation can be a lonely business, starting at 6am and sticking to a demanding schedule. So Iain is looking forward to his chance to do some live cooking at the Eat Sherkin festival on the first weekend in July.


“It will be fun, as a chef I haven’t cooked live in a while and I know I’ll get a buzz working beside Diane Curtin, she’s such a bundle of energy. We’ll be cooking mackerel landed in the morning and serving them with salad leaves picked around the island, then someone else is bringing their strawberries which we’ll make into a strawberry fool”. The whole event sounds fantastic, there’s no where quite like Sherkin to generate a festive atmosphere. You can read below what Diane Curtin has sent me about the festival weekend and in the meantime take the opportunity to visit Kinsale farmers market which is a bright light in the project to reinvent Ireland’s gourmet capital.

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