Rhubarb Ocean Gin Martini

Thanks to our never ending summer there is still loads of rhubarb knocking about, and this is probably one of the nicest ways to partake in it. This cocktail recipe was inspired by the Rhubarb Martini that my friend and all-round awesome chef, Caitlin Ruth, makes as Deasy's Restaurant in the tiny village of Ring just outside of Clonakilty.

I was delighted to be asked to work with Allison Roberts, founder of Clonakilty Chocolate, on a new product launch and rebranding project. In February, Allison launched her Cocoa Husk Tea under the new brand Exploding Tree. I absolutely love everything that Allison is about - her enthusiasm and energy is to be seen to be believed.

I love autumn - every little colourful part of it. Of all the seasonal changes, summer into autumn is the one that really gets me excited. From chunky knits to the first log fire; blackberry and rosehip picking, apples and pears, pumpkins and game season. It's simple impossible not to fall in love with it. And that's something coming from someone who feels the cold in the height of summer!

If ever there was a food stuff that bonded two countries together so closely, it is the Irish and French adoration of shed loads of butter/buerre. Whether you are still a butter skeptic, a butter convert or sitting firmly on the aluminium rails of the farmgate, there is one universal truth that the epicureans of these two great nations agree on - everything tastes better with butter!

I can't tell you how many times I have wanted to write this blog post. Well, since about mid-November 2016 to be correct. Ever since it properly sank in that I had just been commissioned to write a book. Well, a guide. A guide book. My first book!

My love of a good bowl of soup is well known by now I should think. I have written a lot about it being the ultimate "bowl food" experience, and because of the myriad flavour combinations, textures and ability to adapt to the changing seasons it is a meal that knows no end to variation.

A few days before I made this recipe, I had a little rant via Facebook Livestream on the vagaries of food labelling and packaging.  It was a very successful broadcast which garnered a lot of interaction and reach - which was great because it's a topic I feel very strongly about and raising awareness is crucial. 

It was exactly a week ago today that I was starting to experience a noticeable increase of the amount of butterflies in my tummy as I busied myself pulling together the final few bits and pieces before heading to the Celtic Ross Hotel to meet with Ireland’s finest Smoke & Fire chef: John Relihan and Decky Walsh, his head chef of Holy Smoke restaurant.

Rhubarb Ocean Gin Martini

Thanks to our never ending summer there is still loads of rhubarb knocking about, and this is probably one of the nicest ways to partake in it. This cocktail recipe was inspired by the Rhubarb Martini that my friend and all-round awesome chef, Caitlin Ruth, makes as Deasy’s Restaurant in the tiny village of Ring just outside of Clonakilty.

I would never profess to be as much a master at the art of cocktail making as she is, but I think that this is pretty damn good go! I’m using Gin as my martini base, but of course you could just as well swap this out for the classic vodka and vermouth combo. The other twist here is that I am using juice from raw rhubarb here so no cooking involved!

Rhubarb Ocean Gin Martini

Ingredients (makes min 4 cocktails): 

  • Liquid from 1 bunch of rhubarb, trimmed, chopped, pulped and strained
  • Per person: 50ml of Beara Ocean Gin
  • Juice of 4 sweet oranges (Jaffa/Blood)
  • 1 tbsp Sugar syrup / Agave syrup
  • Vanilla Dusting Sugar

Method:

  • Into a blitzer of some kind (smoothie maker, processor etc), add the chopped rhubarb and process until the rhubarb is completely pulped. You may need to add a dash of water to help this process along.
  • Arrange some muslin/clean tea towel over a bowl or jug and spoon out the rhubarb pulp into the cloth.
  • Gather up the ends of the cloth and pull tightly into a ball. Begin squeezing the juice out from the pulp into the bowl/jug. Get all the juice out, this might take a few minutes to do properly.
  • Once all the juice has been gathered, decant into a large mason jar or a cocktail shaker. Add in the gin, orange juice and sugar syrup or agave and add plenty of ice.
  • Prepare your cocktail glasses by running the empty orange segments around the top of the glass and then dusting with the icing sugar. Do this by placing some of the sugar onto a plate and dipping the glass rim into it. The orange juice will help it to stick to the rim.
  • Shake the cocktail mix vigorously and then strain into the prepared glasses.
  • Garnish with a small slice of orange and ENJOY!

Launch of Cocoa Husk Tea by Exploding Tree

I was delighted to be asked to work with Allison Roberts, founder of Clonakilty Chocolate, on a new product launch and rebranding project. In February, Allison launched her Cocoa Husk Tea under the new brand Exploding Tree. I absolutely love everything that Allison is about – her enthusiasm and energy is to be seen to be believed.

Her rebranding from Clonakilty Chocolate to Exploding Tree took a little selling to me – only because I loved the original brand, but when Allison shared her vision for where she wanted to take her business it all fell into place and made total sense. Read all about the journey of her new product and then head to her website and purchase some – seeing as Storm Emma is preventing us from heading out at all at the moment! The tea is brilliant – I love it!

Continue reading “Launch of Cocoa Husk Tea by Exploding Tree”

Chocolate Stout Pulled Venison

I love autumn – every little colourful part of it. Of all the seasonal changes, summer into autumn is the one that really gets me excited. From chunky knits to the first log fire; blackberry and rosehip picking, apples and pears, pumpkins and game season. It’s simple impossible not to fall in love with it. And that’s something coming from someone who feels the cold in the height of summer!

If you were to ask me what my favourite bit about autumn is, I’d struggle with an answer for a moment or two and then relent: game season, always game season!

Continue reading “Chocolate Stout Pulled Venison”

Restaurant Review: BIA, a new tasty mouthful for Bantry

If ever there was a food stuff that bonded two countries together so closely, it is the Irish and French adoration of shed loads of butter/buerre. Whether you are still a butter skeptic, a butter convert or sitting firmly on the aluminium rails of the farmgate, there is one universal truth that the epicureans of these two great nations agree on – everything tastes better with butter!

BIA Restaurant, The Bantry Bay, Main Street, Bantry T: 027 55789

 

Continue reading “Restaurant Review: BIA, a new tasty mouthful for Bantry”

My First Book

I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to write this blog post. Well, since about mid-November 2016 to be correct. Ever since it properly sank in that I had just been commissioned to write a book. Well, a guide. A guide book. My first book!

Having been sworn to a thinly veiled secrecy about any details about it right up until it’s launch of it on Thursday last week (22nd June), I have had to keep this project under lock and key – and I am someone who finds it very difficult to keep good news to themselves. All I wanted to do was talk about this opus I was busy creating!

Even at the point of the official launch photoshoot surrounded by PR and those wearing medals of office, to the launch event itself in Vertigo – the room with a 360 degree view at the very top of the high rise Cork County Council offices, surrounded by the very people who I admire for crafting tremendous things to eat, with beautiful words of praise and thanks being heaped upon me and feeling incredibly awkward at the same time – it still hasn’t sunk in!

I’VE WRITTEN A BOOK AND PEOPLE LIKE IT!

I realise I have come this far in the blog post without actually telling you what this book is! Well, it’s full and proper title is: “A Taste of West Cork Food Festival: Artisan Food Guide – a definitive guide to the best artisan food producers, farmers’ markets and speciality food shops from Bandon to Beara” – phew, a mouthful, wha’?

Indeed.

I’ve been a fan of the Festival ever since I settled in West Cork. Nowadays it takes place over 10 days in early September and covers the breadth of West Cork over many towns, villages and islands. Last year there were 188 events, this year there will be over 200! It has won Best Festival in Ireland and countless number of recognition and awards. It has a stalwart of a Chairperson in Helen Collins whose love of West Cork is unmatched (even by mine), who has grown the festival over the past 4 years of her direction to the best Festival in Ireland. Her colleague, friend and personal counsel is Fiona Field – someone whose eye for design and attention to detail is beyond compare.

It’s not that often that there is a meeting of minds and the synchronicity of fate to bring those minds together. As someone whose foundation stone for creating Flavour.ie was to champion local food producers and to get people using the beautiful foods created in our region daily, I had already noted on the mental post-it notes that are “The Flavour.ie Business Plan” that I would work up some sort of directory for Food Producers.

Roughly at about the same time, it seems, Helen and Fiona has noted that outside of the Festival, there wasn’t a definitive guide for locals and visitors alike to be able to know, find and visit our amazing food producers at anytime of the year. With this kernel of an idea, they went looking for funding which came through Cork County Council and Taste Cork thanks to the council’s CEO Tim Lucey.

With the idea fixed and funding secured, next they needed someone to write it. In mid-November I was invited to a chat over a cuppa with Helen and Fiona. This was the fateful day that they pitched their idea to me and asked if I would be interested in writing it for them.

To say I almost bit the hand off of Helen is probably an understatement! It was as though the universe had stumbled upon my mental post-it note and decided for me that this was something I really, really should do!

I began researching and writing the manuscript in late January this year. By early May the manuscript was finalised and we went into editing and design mode. The printed copies flew hot off the press on Tuesday 20th June and they were being eagerly picked up and picked over at the official launch just two days later. Down to the wire is an understatement.

Launch 4 The result is over 100 food producers and 40 or so speciality food shops and farmers’ markets encased within 80+ pages of a guide complete with maps, directory containing information about each producer, shop, market; information about visiting, contact information and where to buy. There is also a suggested itinerary for each section of who to visit and for what.

It is a guide that is as useful for local people as it is for visitors from home and abroad. It’s vibrant, clearly laid out and, most importantly to me, it is written like a story…a whole raft of mini-stories about place and people and great food!

AND I LOVE IT!

And I am very proud of it! It may not be a book in the traditional sense, but to me it is my first book. One off the bucket list!

So, where can you get a copy?

Well, like with all quality publications, there is a price to purchase – but it’s just €5 – one of them small blue notes or a wee pile of coins, that’s all! It’s going to be available across West Cork and in the City too. The Festival Committee are working up a list of stockists at the moment that is growing. I will add details of Stockists below as and when they are confirmed.

Please buy a copy and support the work of the Festival, all our local food producers and myself as well – it would mean the world to me to have your support!
If you do buy a copy, email me: kate@flavour.ie and let me know what you think.

Thank You: to all the producers who are so inspiring; Helen Collins and Fiona Field who do such important work through the medium of the Festival and for Cork Co Council and Taste Cork for supporting the project with vital funds. And finally, to Fintan O’Connell of Inspire.ie who was the driving force behind the creativity and bringing my idea of a “hand made book” to life in such great quality design and print.

STOCKISTS!

ARTISAN FOOD GUIDE – Available a from the following shops:
Aylmers Newsagents Bantry
Bandon Books, Bandon
Bantry Tourist Office, Bantry
Fields Supervalu, Skibbereen
Hickeys Newsagents, Skibbereen
Mannings Emporium, Ballylickey
McCarthy Newsagents Clonakilty

The Olive Branch, Clonakilty
McCarthy Newsagents, Macroom
Meades Newsagents Clonakilty
O’Farrell’s Newsagents , Bandon
Olives West Cork at various farmers markets across West Cork
Time Travellers Bookshop, Skibbereen and Cork
Urru, Bandon
Yin Yang Whole Foods Skibbereen

…more being added all the time…!

Celery and Blue Cheese Soup

My love of a good bowl of soup is well known by now I should think. I have written a lot about it being the ultimate “bowl food” experience, and because of the myriad flavour combinations, textures and ability to adapt to the changing seasons it is a meal that knows no end to variation.

I came up with this recipe for Celery & Blue Cheese soup during a spell of weather in early May that was all blue sky and sunshine. So, loosely I am calling this a summer soup as for me it was inspired by the prospect of BBQ’s and dipping hot smoky chicken wings into a cooling blue cheese dip with sticks of crunchy, crisp celery on the side. So yes, I feel I am at liberty to call this a summer soup, although of course it would be just as comforting eaten beside a roaring fire, post walk on a rainy November day so, you know, whatever floats your boat!

Continue reading “Celery and Blue Cheese Soup”

Potato, Leek and Smoked Salmon Baked Galette

A few days before I made this recipe, I had a little rant via Facebook Livestream on the vagaries of food labelling and packaging.  It was a very successful broadcast which garnered a lot of interaction and reach – which was great because it’s a topic I feel very strongly about and raising awareness is crucial. 

I had chosen to “pick on” smoked salmon, greek yoghurt and butter.  I had purchased quite a bit of these in order to be able to demonstrate my points.  Ergo, I had a lot left over and because I am anti-food waste, I needed to find a way to make use of it.

A quick sconce through the fridge and cupboards to see what I had to hand, and voila, off I was making this super tasty dish. There’s not too much prep in this – mainly the potatoes and making the white sauce, but really these things are not taxing and can be completed in the time it takes for your oven to come up to heat so it’s efficient with your time too!

The trick is to not get to over zealous with the amount of smoked salmon here.  Stick to the amount suggested below and you will achieve the perfect balance of flavour.

Continue reading “Potato, Leek and Smoked Salmon Baked Galette”

Low’n’Slow, Night’n’Day, Rain’n’Wind

It was exactly a week ago today that I was starting to experience a noticeable increase of the amount of butterflies in my tummy as I busied myself pulling together the final few bits and pieces before heading to the Celtic Ross Hotel to meet with Ireland’s finest Smoke & Fire chef: John Relihan and Decky Walsh, his head chef of Holy Smoke restaurant.

Pitmaster Poster

And as I sit here writing this, the sky awash with blue and a punch of late summer heat, I recall that a good proportion of those butterflies were down to the horrific weather that was unfolding before my very eyes last Sunday. Despite some promising signs that the wind and rain would abate come 3pm on Sunday, in the end the weather decided to throw the whole lot at me and give me a mini-hurricane instead.  Thanks for that.

Continue reading “Low’n’Slow, Night’n’Day, Rain’n’Wind”

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