Ballycotton's finest: you know you're in East Cork when...
I seek ’em here, I seek ’em there, I seek them potatoes everywhere (a fact which, to be fair, will come as no surprise to even the most cursory reader of this blog).
And so it was in East Cork a few weeks back, when a trip to the Midleton Farmers’ Market by your intrepid spud reporter yielded a bag of Willie Scannell’s best. These are potatoes of quite some repute, grown on salty clifftop fields near the picturesque fishing village of Ballycotton and supplied, among others, to the renowned Ballymaloe House nearby, so I could hardly have let a trip to the area pass without scoring a bag or two. They crowned a visit to East Cork which had originated with an invitation to Barnabrow House. A few miles out the road from Midleton, and just shy of Ballymaloe, it had been my East Cork home for a night.
Around Barnabrow Country House
There I was, waiting patiently throughout the
spring extended winter for my rhubarb plants to make their entrance proper and bring forth stalks enough for me to cook with.
I had very particular plans for the first rhubarb of the season, in the shape of a recipe that may possibly explain why Martijn Kajuiter of the fabulous Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co. Waterford, has a Michelin star and I do not.
My somewhat over-enthusiastic rhubarb
I was a little perturbed however, when, with a dry spell and a little bit of heat, my rhubarb plants got ahead of themselves and started producing seed heads – a thing I have not seen rhubarb do before. Pretty though the seed heads may have been, they weren’t going to do rhubarb production any favours. They consequently met a swift end and the plants were left to get on with their normal stalk-producing business. Thankfully, there was enough of that happening to meet my stewy dessert purposes.
Bold and beautiful borscht
First Russian Salad, now borscht – you might be forgiven for thinking that The Daily Spud had packed up and moved several countries to the East. In fact, with the weather these days, you could be forgiven for thinking that the entire country had migrated somewhere east and north of its usual position. Not actually the case, though. I’m still firmly rooted in Irish soil and the country would still appear to be residing in its accustomed spot on Europe’s western fringes. It’s just that the snow and temperatures hereabouts make me feel like I’m in a Russian winter (perhaps I exaggerate slightly, but still, my extremities do have trouble thawing out these days).