The Daily Spud

...there's both eatin' and drinkin' in it

Month: February 2013 (page 1 of 2)

Spud Sunday: A Farmer And A Gentleman

I was very sad to hear of the untimely passing, the other day, of David Tiernan, one of life’s true gentlemen, and the maker of Glebe Brethan, one of Ireland’s finest farmhouse cheeses.

I interviewed David, who was in his mid 50s, a few months ago for a piece on Irish farmhouse cheese which appeared in the Sunday Times last December. He was warm, helpful and generous with his time, a dairy farmer first and foremost, whose life, for the last 38 years he said, had been, simply, ‘wake up and milk the cows.’ He had a real connection to the land and the food that came from it and, for three or so months during the summer, would, in addition to milking his Montbéliarde cows and working in the yard, make two 45kg wheels of glorious Comté-style raw milk cheese a day. He loved the pleasure that his cheese gave to others and – never short of an opinion on the issues facing farmers and small scale food producers – he was familiar to many in Irish food circles, not least when it came to opposing the proposed ban on the sale of raw milk here.

When asked in an interview published in the Irish Times last April to describe himself in six words, David said simply “just very happy to be alive.” Sadly, that is no longer the case and the Irish food landscape is all the poorer for it.
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Spud Sunday: Not So Humble Spuds

Gourmet crisps, eh?

It was the first phrase I noticed when I picked up a packet of Bill & Mick’s crisps – or, to give them their official mouthful of a title, Bill & Mick’s Real Irish Gourmet Hand Cooked Crisps – newcomers to the Irish crisps scene. Dedicated, as ever, to the spud-eating cause, I quickly exchanged my cash for said crisps and, in less time than it took to say their (admittedly rather long) name, I was at home with some real Irish gourmet hand cooked crisps in tow. In what, I suspect, was less time than that again, the packets of same were emptied and the contents well and truly dispatched.

Bill and Mick and their gourmet crisps

Bill and Mick and their gourmet crisps

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Spud Sunday: Rose-Tinted Spuds

And tint your potatoes blue or rose or green! How do you know that you will not like them?

MFK Fisher, from the essay “Shell-shock and Richard the Third” in Serve it Forth

It was a mildly curious coincidence that, in the week where bones found in an English car park were confirmed to be those of long-dead monarch, Richard III, I found myself reading an essay by MFK Fisher which referenced that self-same, newly identified king.

In the essay, written some 75 years or so ago, the author urges her readers to avoid indifference and monotony in their eating – as laudable an endeavour then as now. “Baked potatoes,” she says, “no matter how hot and flaky, become almost nauseating the seven-hundredth time they are served pinched open, with paprika and butter on the scar.” Well, quite so. Ardent eater of potatoes though I am, such relentless baked potato-ism might even cause me to recoil (and that’s saying something).

We should instead, she advises, forsake the mundane, and bring excitement and imagination to the dishes we create, as innovators now, and in centuries past, have done. She cites, among others, fanciful creations like the half capon, half pig cockentrice, described in 15th Century manuscripts, and which may well have graced the table of the now decidedly skeletal Richard III. It’s a somewhat extreme example and (unless you’re Heston Blumenthal, that is), you’re unlikely to be recreating such a thing in the comfort of your own kitchen anytime soon. That doesn’t mean to say that you can’t mix it up a little every now and then, though. Perhaps you will, as she suggests, tint your potatoes blue or rose or green. How do you know that you will not like them? How indeed.

Potato Pinwheels with Goats Cheese and Hazelnuts

Potato pinwheels with goats cheese and hazelnuts

So here, then, is something a little different to do with your potatoes. They may not be tinted blue or rose or green, but these potato pinwheels will do nicely for a change nonetheless.

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