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It's not just for breakfast either! Blackpudding with Strawberries and Balsamic Vinegar at the Emmet Hotel

It's not just for breakfast either! Blackpudding with Strawberries and Balsamic Vinegar at the Emmet Hotel

Despite our acclaimed cheeses, seafood, preserves and other artisan foods, traditional black pudding is the food product most associated with West Cork. I know this because we at the Fuchsia Brand do fairly regular surveys to gather information from visitors and shoppers about brands and foods they associate with West Cork and Clonakilty Black Pudding comes to mind most frequently. But I suspect that many people’s experience of West Cork black puddings stops there. Does this matter, I wondered? Are all puddings much the same anyway? This week, with the help of my 7 colleagues I set out to fill in a few more of the blanks on my culinary map of West Cork. We tasted 5 local puddings all of which are made with fresh blood. This was our first such office tasting session and I was quite surprised at the enthusiasm with which my colleagues devoured the plates of lightly fried black pudding, each keeping one hand free to scribble notes on the tasting sheets. I had thought that asking people to eat 5 pieces of black pudding unaccompanied would be a strain, but in fact they would have eaten more. Like wine tasters who don’t spit, a few of my colleagues were later to rue their over enthusiasm and will perhaps feel less compelled to eat every morsel next time. Black pudding in West Cork is made with blood from either pork or beef, minced meat trimmings, pinhead oatmeal, onions and spices. The oatmeal is left to steep in the blood before the other ingredients are mixed in. It is then filled into casings and boiled gently for 20-30 minutes until is has firmed up sufficiently. Cooking requires careful judgement, overcook it and you end up with a pot of mush. The blood firms up fully as the pudding cools. Unfortunately, nowadays almost all of the black puddings on the supermarket shelves in Ireland are made with reconstituted powdered blood rather than fresh blood, generally sourced from Holland, this can result in a grainy, crumbly texture. The fresh blood has a better aroma when cooked and a firmer texture. Butchers puddings are ususally made from beef blood because they do not slaughter very many pigs. Sheeps blood can also be used. Amongst the 5 we tested, Stautons and Rosscarbery Recipes use pig’s blood. Of course, black pudding is not unique to Ireland, but appears in different forms all across Europe. It is one of the oldest known cooked foods and t is believed to have been invented by the Celts. Black pudding or blood sausage can rightly be called a heritage food for the manner in which distinct and well respected regional variations have survived. In Germany it is called blutwurst and is often served with mashed potato. In parts of Germany it can be made with horse meat. In Spain it is called morcilla and can include other fillers such as rice, breadcrumbs, pine nuts, almonds. There is even a sweet morcilla from Galicia in the northwestern region, which is fried and served most commonly as a dessert. French black pudding is called boudin and the Confrérie des Chevaliers du Goûte Boudin (Brotherhood of the Knights of Blood Sausage) in Mortagne-au-Perche, Normandy holds a annual contest of international blood sausage specialities.

 

Rosscarbery Recipes

This is the newest of the puddings we sampled and its creation is a very positive indication that the decline in fresh blood puddings can be reversed. Made by Willie and Avril Allshire of Caherbeg Free Range Pork, Rosscarbery, this pudding was best of the Irish entries at the aforementioned International Black Pudding Competition in France this year. It has a lower oatmeal content than the other four resulting in a softer texture. The flavour is full and well balanced with the meat holding its own against the salt and spices. This pudding is sold in plastic wrapped chubs and when cooked without its casing holds together well. Rosscarbery Recipes is sold in quite a number of supermarkets and butcher shops.

Ml O’Neill & Sons, Clonakilty

O’Neill’s black pudding is sold only from their butcher shop in Clonakilty and is probably the longest in existence among the five we sampled, having been created by Mike’s grandfather. Mike still buys his spice mix from a descendant of the man who used to work for his grandfather and made the original puddings. O’Neill’s is made in the traditional rings and packed in natural casing. It was the only pudding we sampled that is cooked in the casing, which some people enjoyed chewing on to savour the lasting flavour. It has a fairly open, coarse texture though it did not threaten to crumble during cooking. Although the pudding was quite salty, it was the clear favorite amongst my colleagues, none of whom had eaten it before but most of whom will now seek it out.

Collins Brothers, Dunmanway

If you haven’t tried this pudding before the first thing that strikes you is the size, being considerably wider than the traditional rings or the chubs made by most commercial manufacturers. Produced by James and PJ Collins pudding is made in a large size only – c.2 inches across and 18 inches long, and is packed in a plastic casing. It is sold in slices, either vacuum packed or freshly cut. James told me that their recipe was adapted from the process used by their mother at home – “At that time every house used to kill a pig and making the pudding was part of that. It was for home use but we knew how to make it then when we started the butcher shop. One thing that has helped a lot is the hollow tube knife for extracting the blood – it’s a very clean and contained process now.” The introduction of the hollow tube knife that James refers to has put the production of fresh blood puddings on a much sounder footing with the regulatory authorities and appears to significantly reduced the threat of losing this part of our food heritage.

Dan Maloney Meat Centre, Bandon

Another large diameter pudding, this one had distinctly more chew than the others owing both to the meat and the higher oat content. I’ve eaten this a few times recently as part of my weekend fry and have come to appreciate the balance it brings to a plate already overloaded with salty, fatty pork products. Dan told me that they launched their pudding 15 years ago at the Bandon Show and that the man who makes it learned his trade in Clonakilty. I found this a common feature among the butchers I spoke to and probably accounts for the high degree of similarity in West Cork puddings. There is usually one person employed for the task and he will have developed his skill elsewhere, the result is a high degree of cross fertilisation and consistency.

Stauntons, Timoleague

Although it is produced in a large, modern meat factory, Stauton’s pudding is made in exactly the same way as the others we sampled and is quite a separate process to main production activity at the plant. The growth in demand for their pudding from supermarkets was actually the main reason Michael Staunton closed his butcher shop in 1985 to establish a dedicated manufacturing and slaughtering plant. Fresh blood pudding making, is a tight process in terms of handling the blood and meat and is very much tied with the killing of pigs. Stauntons could not have grown the pudding sales without this new facility. The business is now wholly owned by Barryroe Co-Op who took a majority shareholding in 1998, but the puddings are still made almost exclusively by Donie O’Callaghan who started with Michael Staunton in 1967. “These puddings have stood the test if time. Nothing has changed apart from some larger machines, which make the job easier.” When I asked Donie about how Staunton’s compares with other puddings he told me that not surprisingly he doesn’t really eat any outside of work, where he’d “be nibbling away at a bit all the time.” The pudding we sampled is sold in a three pack with white and brown pudding also included. Stauntons puddings are also produced in traditional rings in natural casing. It has a nicely balanced flavour and aroma that should suit most palates.

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We Should Talk

 

Bill Hogan of West Cork Natural Cheese

Bill Hogan of West Cork Natural Cheese

I’m sitting in the stimulating setting of the new Riverside Café in Skibbereen with Bill Hogan of West Cork Natural Cheese watching jackdaws steal peanuts from a feeder intended for smaller, more colourful birds. “I think we should talk about the crisis,” Bill says to me. I agree because I want to see where this will go, but I’m hesitant because the gloom is getting to me and I want to hear something positive in this bright haven by the water. Bill Hogan is one of Ireland’s most celebrated cheese makers. He and Sean Ferry started West Cork Natural Cheese in Schull in the mid 80s and produce two large hard cheeses in the Swiss style using summer milk – Gabriel and Desmond. Their cheeses have many champions, particularly among Ireland’s community of chefs, who tend to favour them over parmesan for flavours that have as much bite, depth and authenticity but are distinctively Irish. “If you want to talk about something positive then let’s talk about Irish milk. Sean and myself have proven that there is great taste in Irish milk. When you can walk out on a lovely May morning and sniff something good and then find that it’s there in the cheese too, you know you are doing something right. These are tastes that were there all along and the work of the artisan is to give them back to the people.”

Bill and Sean have also been championed over the years by food writers, particularly recognising their refusal to go under in their legal battle with the Department of Agriculture. Almost all of their 2002 cheese production was seized when TB was found in 2 of the herds supplying their milk. This effectively shut down the business without compensation. Bill and Sean were able to prove in court that the cheese did not present any health risk but still the dispute dragged on for four years and six court cases. Despite their appeal against the seizure being repeatedly vindicated in court, they have never received meaningful compensation. It was only through an alliance with Newmarket Co-op that the pair finally got back to making cheese again, just in time for the recession!

“You know this crisis has been coming for a long time. There’s no respect for money; it’s just another commodity to be traded. Did you know that 98% of currency transactions have nothing to do with commerce? It’s a demented game that has to end. That kind of playing with value should be illegal. Our trading relationships should be based on a respect for labour and a respect for real value. I know, for example, that the Sterling exchange rate is hitting food producers very hard; it would be so much steadier if the UK were in the euro, but they’re not. You can’t eat money, it’s the means of exchange not the end. I’m not against people being materialistic but we have to separate need from greed, everything has gone so bling. Getting rich and spending money doesn’t make you free. Marx said that real freedom comes from knowing what you need.” Bill suggests that this is where the sustainability movement has so much to offer in starting with meeting our needs now but not compromising the needs of future generations.

Much of Bill’s character was forged during his involvement in the US civil rights movement and working with Dr. Martin Luther King in the 1960s. He has first hand experience of dramatic social upheaval. He understands how lasting success can be gained through non-violent methods and the destructive and equally enduring impact of violence. “I see that a lot of people are furious at what has happened. My great fear is that some people won’t have enough to eat, that old people can no longer heat their homes, that families can’t afford kids school books. The one bonus for Ireland is that the crisis is global so we shouldn’t lose our talent like before. Emmigration is not a great option, I mean there’s jobs in the Canadian Yukon! …I think we’re in a pre-revolutionary state. A major overhaul is needed but we have to ensure that it doesn’t turn to violence, we must steer that fury to non-violent change.” Bill is not averse to the idea of upheaval but it is people that he cares about not ideas.

 “We must get back to basics in our relationships,” Bill continues, “Gandhi said that the revolution was about a transformation of relationships not the seizure of power. To do this we have to start talking to each other and get out of the box of thinking that the system will solve my problems. Just look at what the community achieved in Schull, when they got the Community College set up. They kept at it in spite of being told no; no, they were told, it doesn’t make any sense to have a college like that down on a tiny peninsula. But it has been fantastic. This is what we need now, not just intelligent individual thinking but community intelligence and will. I think people are very isolated in the gloom; Fuchsia could bring producers together to discuss how the crisis is affecting them. We can build on that Sean and I were thrown into crisis in 2002 when our case with the Department of Agriculture began. We’ve learned a lot about how to keep a small business going in a crisis situation and I would say that relationships are the key. In particular, our relationship with our bankers, AIB, has been fundamental. They have stuck with us right through the case. I do recommend to people to keep talking to your bank, don’t hide in the hole. Tell them what they can do for you and what you can do for them.”

“We have to find ways of having more direct and honest trading relationships that are based on real value, not stealing. When I look at how our sales have been affected I can see that they have really held up in the local market, particularly the English Market in Cork and the farmers markets. It’s in the big multiples that sales have really been hit. As a rural region we can start looking at our relationships with basic questions like, How are we going to feed ourselves? and, How are we going to sell food into the cities?”

As a rural development worker, I love the simple dynamic that the countryside produces food for the cities. It is a natural geographic relationship between people and places that allows everyone to have their need met. We talk about positive solutions, our great food and natural resources like renewable energy. Bill returns to the quality of the milk on the Mizen peninsula. “I would love to get involved in establishing a Mizen dairy, a small up to date plant that could deal with the wonderful milk that’s there. The technology that we’ve been using to make our cheese has moved on a lot. I’d design it differently if we were starting again.” It’s not just the hardware that Bill wants to re-invent. “This big corporate model that Ireland chose to pursue in the 1960’s is inappropriate; it looks good on paper, lower costs etc but it’s less diverse and it supports fewer people. The same applies to farms, they’ve shown the negative impact of corporate style agri-farms in the US, particularly how it leads to the deterioration of land and community. The family farms we have on the Mizen employ more people and families have a long term perspective of passing on the land in good health to the next generation.” I look again at the jackdaws at the feeder, and ponder how we can help the many smaller, more colourful birds get to the peanuts – if only they could talk to each other!

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Happy New Year and apologies for not having posted since early December – the Southern Star went into Christmas shopping ad mode and I took a holiday. Trying to walk that off now – that’s the price of full fat principles! Anyway whilst walking I’ve been thinking about what foods, farmers and producers I’d like to find out more about this year. Your suggestions would be very welcome, here’s the current pipeline: I’ve done a bit of work looking into Community Supported Agriculture which is getting going on the Sheeps Head thanks to John Dolan, Charlie Donovan, Stephen O’Donovan and a few other pioneers. More about that later this month. In house here we have a new learning initiative going with Safe Food that is targetted at eight to nine year olds, its called Taste Buds.  I’m going to try and talk to a teacher that has been using the pack and see what I can learn about what can motivate kids and their parents – that’s for next week.

For now I wanted to let you know about Cork Food Web – it’s a project to support local food production in Cork and they have a fab social networking type website that should be great for getting and keeping people involved. This Thursday they have a meeting to push the project out into the public realm and anyone interested in getting involved is welcome – just visit the link above etc.

Finally, my condolences to the family of Liam O’Regan and all at the Southern Star on the death of their editor and owner last Saturday.

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That we have seen great changes in the food scene in West Cork is undeniable. I have heard the phrase ‘artisan revolution’ used to describe these changes, award winning cheeses, smoked fish, salamis, fine patisserie and much more. Artisan is intended to draw a line and differentiate the good from the not so good. Durrus based food writer, John McKenna has defined artisan food in terms of 4 P’s. It is a synthesis of the Personality of the producer, the Place it comes from, the Product provided and the Passion, without which no food is ever great. But I often wonder whether many of the producers it should include actually identify themselves as artisan producers. I also fear the conception of a food revolution as indicating a break with the past. Perhaps for some there appears so little of merit in Ireland’s traditional food culture that it’s a case of “out with the old and in with the new”. At the behest of a colleague I have spent some time on the road visiting butchers around West Cork that do their own slaughtering, most of them have been at it for a long time, well before the revolution, in some cases several generations. These butchers tick all four P’s for artisan food: what they do is personal and considered, they connect firmly with their place, they produce exceptional products and they have a steady passion for what they do. But these men are not about a break with the past and nor do they belong there, most of them have never spoken at any length about what they do and unlike the cheese-makers or fish smokers their skills are taken for granted rather than celebrated in superlatives.

The twelve slaughterhouse owners listed below have come together as a group to share their common concerns and look for solutions. Central to this process are the Cork County Council vets that enforce the regulations relating to the slaughter of animals and processing of meat, in particular Dan Crowley and Jim Buckley. Jim told me about his respect for the quality of the work of the butchers, “They do such a good job and it’s stress free for the animals. We’re in here as regulators but we aim to be more than that. The council’s objective in anything it does is to promote sustainable development and our slaughterhouses are an important element in that, they buy locally and sell locally too, absolutely no food miles. They pay a premium for the farmers best animals, maiden heifers younger than 24 months. It’s sometimes called baby beef and fulfils all the criteria of a quality product – taste, nutrition, safety, environmentally sound, traceable, clear provenance and good animal welfare.” Dan outlines to me the specific policy Cork County Council has to support the butchers, “For reasons of food safety and animal welfare we decided not to move towards centralisation, which was the trend elsewhere from the 1960’s on. Overseas trade was the imperative driving centralisation but from public health point of view, small abattoirs have a lot of advantages for disease control, shelf life and so on.” The amount of work required to supervise the 28 abbatoirs in Cork should not be underestimated. It was 10am on a Monday morning when I met Dan, he had already inspected animals pre-slaughter at 8 West Cork abattoirs that morning and would finish the post mortem inspections at 8pm that evening.”

With Dan’s guidance, I set out to meet a few of the butchers he works with and came home with a real appreciation of why what they do matters and what makes their meat better. And I can safely say that I’ll never again use the phrase “Butchered it” to describe a task ill-performed!

These are the 12 approved local slaughterhouses in West Cork.

    Donal Lordan Kinsale
    Dan Maloney Bandon
    Ml. J O’Neill Clonakilty
    Liam O’Driscoll Skibbereen
    Thomas Walsh Skibbereen
    Paddy Hegarty Schull
    Patrick & James Collins Dunmanway
    John McCarthy Drimoleague
    Paddy O’Donoghue Bantry
    Tim Murphy Kealkil, Bantry
    T G McCarthy & Sons Ltd. Bantry
    Christopher Collins Castletownbere
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Catherine, Chris and Trevor Collins, Castletownbere

Chris Collins, Castletownbere

My lasting impression of the busy Collins butcher shop was of how lively it was. The four smiling butchers in bright red aprons bustling behind the small counter included Chris’s wife Catherine and his son Trevor. Customers arriving in had obviously been looking forward to their visit and Christy felt it necessary to explain my presence and mission to each one in turn. “With our own abattoir we can buy the best local lamb and we talk to our customers about it, like this one here is from Garnish. We have a competition going to see whose lamb the customers like best, and at the moment Noel O’Sullivan is top of the list. People will come in and say ‘Have you got any more of Noel’s lamb?’ Another farmer with great lambs we buy from is the postman, Seamus Spencer, and he was asking ‘Have I knocked your man off number one yet?’

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Paddy O'Donoghue, Bantry

Paddy O’Donoghue, Bantry
Like many of the group, Paddy has a great range of his own products, making burgers, sausages and curing his own bacon, which he’d like to start smoking in time. They have their own suckler cattle herd from which they can provide most of their beef, which they also supply to their own restaurant in the square – the Waterfront. When I remark on the huge pieces of boiling beef they have on display, Paddy and his son Adrian comment on the differences between their older and younger customers, “Younger customers are keen to know where their meat is coming from but they always want the leanest meat. They rely on choosing from the display only and avoid the darker meat which you’d know would eat nicer. Older people know what to ask for and would know what to do with the cheaper cuts.”

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Paddy Hegarty, Schull

Paddy Hegarty, Schull

Paddy Hegarty was in a hurry to get to the mart when I arrived. “There’ll be weanlings inside in Skibbereen that you wouldn’t have anywhere else in the country. It’s all suckler herds around here now, very little dairy and the quality of the beef animals has definitely improved, all Angus and Hereford. You still have to get in and examine every animal though. There’d be days I come home with nothing. I’ll get into every pen of lambs to handle them. I buy store lambs in September and raise them to supply the shop throughout the winter until the new lambs arrive in summer.” I asked about the challenges of running a slaughterhouse. “We’d be grand only for the offal. Slaughtering for ourselves paid for itself when we used to get a “fifth quarter” – besides the meat we sold the hides and other parts, now you’ll only get 80c for a sheep’s hide and the collection costs for offal are huge, it’s all incinerated because we can’t separate out the low risk bits at this small scale.” This cost is what grieves the group most, some are paying up to €30,000 a year to the collector who has a monopoly.

PJ & James Collins, Dunmanway

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James and PJ Collins, Dunmanway

PJ and James emphasise the skills of their staff from dressing the carcass though to cutting and making their own sausages and puddings. They want me to mention each of them – Michael, Timmy, Patrick, Vincent, Geraldine and Noreen. “Every day you learn more. Like, the hollow tube knife was a breakthrough for the puddings. We can take out the blood completely without contamination now. You’d always be improving, finding new ways of cutting and so on. It’s always about serving the customer. People are turning away from the supermarkets and one reason is that the butchers are actually cheaper. They might put up an offer for 14 days, but they’d be codding you the rest of the week. We can offer better quality and value 365 days.” Their abbatoir provides a valuable service to local farmers and they have achieved organic status, an invaluable facility for a number of local organic farmers that sell their own meat.

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Dan Maloney, Bandon

Dan & Jim Maloney, Bandon

I asked Dan and Jim about the differences in quality that they can achieve by having their own slaughterhouse. “I know exactly how good our meat is. I can look a customer in the eye and say that steak will be nice. We have to sell the whole animal of course, but you’re judged on your steak. When we kill our own animals we know they are not stressed, they’re not in pens with hundreds of others and they haven’t travelled far. They are fasted for 24 hours first, which is very important to get the meat firm. You could buy factory meat that you could put your finger through, it’s like jelly because the cattle weren’t fasted and the sides weren’t hung. What is done by 23 workers on a factory line is seen through by a single butcher at the slaughterhouse. And because of the short chain and single operator, there’s no washing of the carcass. In effect, it’s dry aged, so you can hang it for longer.”

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Mike O'Neill, Clonakilty

Mike O’Neill, Clonakilty

Mike is the third generation of his family running his butcher shop and slaughterhouse. “I kind of fell into it, my father thought it might be better for me to do something else. Things have changed quite a bit. We used to actually drive in the cattle through town to the abattoir. We’d walk 5 down though we’d only want 2 and would have to walk the other 3 back, they’d be easier to control that way. Imagine that now, cattle in the town! There was a time when we kept our heads down, killing animals was seen as a bad thing. One night someone actually released the cattle from the holding pen. That has changed now, people want to know where their meat came from and how the animals lived. And I’m proud that we can tell them very easily. Anything that’s available close to us we take it, we buy nearly all our cattle from Leslie Beamish in Inchydoney.”

Stumble It!

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Came across this online local food database through an ad in the Observer Food Monthly.

I am a friend of Local Food Advisor, visit the site to find your local food supplier

Looks like it could be a great addition – information is one of the 3 key dynamics of the spiral of empowerment (motivation and action being the others). Local Food Advisor is not the first of it’s kind – I also like bigbarn.co.uk but that site doesn’t cover Ireland.

If it’s going to be valuable in an Irish context, we need to improve the listings and other content. So if you’re a producer, retailer, butcher, restauranteur or farmers market please register and boost the number of Irish entries. Also there are currently no Irish regional recipes and only two Irish rare breeds.

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August this year marked the tenth anniversary of Growing Awareness, a Skibbereen based food and farming group and on Sunday next (September 28th) they have partnered up with An Sanctóir, the holistic centre in Ballydehob, to put together a day of walks, talks and demonstrations looking at local food production. The guided walk will take in the An Sanctóir’s ‘Nature Trail’ which supports a wide variety of wildlife and habitat areas, and will finish in the new Forest Garden Project begun this spring. The full days’ programme will include a selection of speakers, demonstrations and activities on topics such as: Beekeeping; Working Horses: Community and Schools Gardens; Allotments and Vegetable Box Schemes; Fruit and Nut Growing; Basket Making; Seed Saving and much more. Gardeners are invited to come along and enter the Heaviest Pumpkin and the Largest Diameter Sunflower Head competitions. You can enjoy the on site Cafe from the deck of a 40ft Pirate Ship whilst being serenaded by local musicians! People are also welcome to bring a picnic. The Café will be raising funds towards the running costs of the event and there will be no admission charge. For the full schedule of events visit www.ansanctoir.ie. For my column this week I took the opportunity to find out a bit more about 2 of the individuals who will be presenting on the day and learn something of their involvement in the food culture of West Cork.

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If you’ve enjoyed any of the posts from this blog, then I can wholeheartedly recommend the Stories from the Soil, Stories from the Sea eating sessions on Friday 19th September in Skibbereen. The event is being organised by ourselves at West Cork LEADER Co-op and is part of the Taste of West Cork Food Festival. We’ll be sitting down to on three occasions during the day to dine on local seasonal food and listen to the personal stories of 2 local producers at each sitting. Diane Curtin will be on hand to guide diners and introduce the speakers. Diane is a journalist and chef and is deeply involved with food in West Cork, particularly through Slow Food. She recently published her own book The  Creators, which combines the life stories of farmers and food producers in West Cork with enjoyable recipes. The breakfast session focuses on fish and we will hear from Sally Barnes of Woodcock Smokery and Frank Fleming, a fisherman from Crosshaven. Sally is one of Ireland’s most highly acclaimed artisan producers and has been smoking fish in Castletownshend since 1981. She has an unswerving commitment to producing the very highest quality food. Like everyone else involved in seafood though, her business has had to cope with turmoil and uncertainty. Frank Fleming has been fishing with his brother Martin for 24 years. They concentrate largely on catching prawns. Frank has strong views about the future of fishing and is committed to finding positive solutions to many of the industry’s current dilemmas. Lunch will have a bovine theme with talks from Paul Johnson of the Traditional Meat Company and Bill Hogan of West Cork Natural Cheese. Paul rears Dexter cattle on his farm near Dunmanway. Dexters are a rare breed of cattle native to this part of Ireland and as such are uniquely well adapted to live in harmony with our environment. Bill Hogan is one of our foremost cheesemakers, he and Sean Ferry produce Gabriel and Desmond Cheese. Bill is a real champion for the small producer and the importance of food for rural areas. The final session of the day will be afternoon tea, a chance to enjoy some very fine baking and patisserie with Jean Domican from Buns ‘n Stuff in Macroom. Jean will be joined by food historian Diarmuid Ó Drisceoil, who besides writing the fascinating history of Cork’s English Market, also spins a great tale.

Places for each session are limited so I would advise booking early by calling West Cork LEADER Co-op at 023-34035, tickets cost €15 per person.

The Stories sessions will be followed at 5pm by the launch of a new food map of West Cork by West Cork LEADER Co-op. The map presents the area as a photo montage of food and is bursting with colourful images of cheeses, fish, fruits, cattle and fowl. The map will be used by local retailers promoting food from West Cork and will also be available to local schools as an educational resource. As part of the launch I have been asked to present some of the stories from my Food Culture column. This is a free event, so come along if you’d like to hear more about the people I’ve met in researching this column and the part they play in creating such a thriving food culture in West Cork.

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