I doubt that I will ever become a true locavore.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for the principles of eating (and drinking) locally, when and where possible, but I am ever appreciative of the ease with which we can import that which is neither cultivated nor produced here. Potato-heavy though my diet (naturally) is, I think that I would find it impossible to confine myself solely to the food and drink which emanates from within our Irish borders. Or would I?
For starters, wine would be a no-no. Especially the far away new world kind.
Take these limited edition South African World Cup wines from Nederburg that came my way recently. While I won’t be overly concerned with the World Cup itself (the less said about us not being in it, the better), I am nevertheless thankful for the opportunity to indulge in the associated wines.
And what about this little lot, eh?
Salts and spices from no less that 4 different continents – from delicately pink and flaky Murray River salt crystals to small, dense crystals of black lava salt from Hawaii – all very kindly sent to me by Chef E. I’m quite sure that I could survive (and well) without any of these things, but I love the foreign accent that they bring to our native staples. Like the African potato stew I made yesterday. The vegetables are decidedly local (the chard, from my own garden, especially so) but not one of the spices used originates here. Could I give up the flavours that they bring? Yes. Would I want to? No, not ever.
African Potato Stew
After a little blast of sunshine and warmth last week, yesterday was dull and wet and much more appropriate to this kind of wintry fare. Welcome to the Irish summer.
This stew is based on a recipe found in The Potato: Around The World In 200 recipes, which was published in 2008 as an initiative to promote the then United Nations Year of the Potato. The recipes were collected by Florence Lebras.
The original uses potato, sweet potato and cauliflower, whereas I’ve used my tricolour of chard, potatoes and carrots, and have also added allspice berries to the original spice mix.
As for the raisins or sultanas, when it comes to using dried fruit in a stew, I reckon that you either love it or hate it. If you are in the love it camp, then add them in, but if it’s not your thing, then by all means leave them out.
- 750g potato (3-4 medium sized potatoes)
- 250g carrot (2 large-ish carrots)
- 300g swiss chard (or substitute spinach)
- 1 tblsp coriander seeds
- 4 cloves
- 6 allspice berries
- 2 tblsp olive oil
- 300g onion (2 medium onions), finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 3cm piece root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 2 tsp poppy seeds
- 1.5 tsp fine salt
- 3-4 tblsp raisins or sultanas (optional)
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tblsp cider vinegar
- Spice grinder or mortar and pestle for grinding spices.
- Scrub the potatoes and, leaving the skin on, chop into 1cm cubes. Peel and slice the carrots, around 0.5cm thick or less.
- Wash the swiss chard and separate the thick centre veins and stalks from the green leafy parts. Slice the leaves into 0.5cm strips, chop the stalks into approx 0.5cm dice.
- Place a small frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, add the coriander seeds, cloves and allspice berries and toast, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and then grind in a spice grinder or using a mortar and pestle.
- Place a large heavy saucepan over a medium heat. When hot, add the oil, followed by the onion and garlic. Stir and fry for about 5 minutes or until the onion has softened.
- Add the chopped ginger, mustard seeds, poppy seeds and ground spices to the saucepan and stir briefly.
- Add the potatoes, carrots and chard stalks, stir to mix and then add the salt and about 750ml water (enough to barely cover the vegetables). Bring to the boil, then cover, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Add the chard greens and raisins (if using), stir to incorporate, return to a simmer and simmer for about another 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
- Stir in the cider vinegar, ladle into bowls and serve on its own or with some crusty bread.
- I would certainly consider adding chickpeas to this next time round, and, if so, would use the chickpea cooking liquid in place of the water.
- About 4-5 helpings
There are one or two wines made here in Ireland, one from my own town of residence, in fact – Kinsale. The other might be from Sutton in North Dublin.
And we have those elderflower and gooseberry (etc) “wines” that you occasionally see in health food shops.
I hadn’t seen those Nederburg wines before – can’t believe they’re jumping on the whole World Cup bandwagon!
And still on football wines, there is one around called “Everton” (an Australian wine – I forget the grape – from Brown Brothers) – my Premiership team of choice. Keep it real, Moyes.
Ah, yes, Paul, I was, of course, discounting the elderflower, gooseberry and dandelion wines that are made here (including the ones that my mother used to make) – they are a different breed entirely. But I did not know that we had bona fide local wines – Kinsale and Sutton you say? I will have to seek them out. As for the World Cup, Nederburg are, I’m sure, far from alone in hopping on that particular bandwagon!
Ah yeah, I know – and why not! In the absence of our good selves at it, I would love to see South Africa win the tournament. Pipe dream stuff, but still.
Yeah, I’ve had that Kinsale wine, you see it around from time to time. Fallon & Byrne sell an Irish wine for €40, not sure what it is. Pricey!
We can all dream Paul! And I will look out for Irish wine in F&B next time I’m in. Not saying I’ll buy it at that price, mind, but still…
I’ve never come across the wine from Kinsale but it’s easy to get your hands on Lusk wine from David Llewellyn at his apple stall in various markets around Dublin. There’s also – or there was – wine made in North Cork at Longueville House although they were talking about getting rid of their grapes the last time we were there a couple of years.
Thanks for that Caroline – clearly there are far more winemakers here than I thought! I’ve had David Llewellyn’s very fine apple juice and cider vinegar, but didn’t know he did a Lusk wine. Must check it out next time I’m passing one of his stalls.
You took the words right out of my mouth. I could never be a true locavore either. I cherish diverse flavors and cultures in our food. So while I’ll buy plenty of Kentucky veggies and drink plenty of bourbon ;), I have to have curry, mango and Guinness, too. My husband and I were just having this conversation about wines. We have a lot in KY that are decent, but I can’t pass up those from Chile and France.
I’ve been tempted more than once to pick up some black lava sea salt. I think I finally need to go for it.
Great post, not because I am mentioned, but seriously so true! That soups sounds great, I will have to use some of my allspice berries in this way! I have only used them for my sticky rice post!
Love the veggie flag photo!
Lori: like everything, I think that it’s a question of balance – it’s important to embrace that which is local, but also good to explore what flavours other cultures can bring to the table – not to supplant what’s local but to enhance it
Chef E: Thank you so much for the allspice berries and more! The only other time that I have used whole allspice was in some onion pickles (which I loved) – but I have no excuse not to use them more now :)
The stew looks outstanding, such amazing flavors! I love the raisins in it!
Agreed! I buy local products when I can, but without some global variety I think I would hate the boredom that is sure to arise from the lack of interesting foods in my area. From the spice perspective alone!
Nederburg is a great winery, I have not seen any here in my little enclave in the US, we visited many times when we were living in SA and are lucky enough to still have some in the cellar.
I was absolutely spoiled in Northern California – where truly everything I ate was local (wine, fish, meat, fruit, veg, nuts, dairy, even salt…you get the point). The only thing I ate that wasn’t local was coffee.
Now in London I would say that at least 50% of my diet travels across some body of water and is not local.
While I love the concept of eating local there is so much great stuff produced all around the world that I have to enjoy!
This stew looks amazing…though I have a thing against raisins, so I’d probably go without those.
Looking forward to finally meeting this weekend!
Oooh…I hope I can find some of that Nederburg rose, sounds amazing. And what an impressive collection of salts, how nice of Chef E to send those to you! As for eating locally, I do my best to eat as local as possible but I could never give up those ‘foreign accents’. For example, tonight I’ll be making a Vietnamese themed meal with locally grown veggies, but flavored with imported condiments (what would I do without fish sauce?)
I try to eat as locally as possible but culinary culture and seasonal considerations means that I could never be a pure locavore. I consider food to be the best way to begin learning about another culture, such as with this Potato Stew. Now, I’d love to see what else you do with Chef E’s goodie bag! 8-)
5 Star Foodie: Thanks! I’d actually like to try something closer to the original version with sweet potatoes sometime too – that, I think, would also be good.
Kristen: I know – even just a few spices can make all the difference! Didn’t realise you had lived in SA (or perhaps I had forgotten) – I wonder if the World Cup association will mean a wider distribution in the US for Nederburg’s wines, hmm…
Gastroanthropologist: …and looking forward to meeting you! I agree that it’s definitely easier to eat local if you live somewhere like California, elsewhere it takes more of a conscious effort to strike some kind of balance between local food and global flavours.
Phyllis: Gotcha on the fish sauce! And, yes, it is a lovely little collection of salts – I feel very spoiled :)
Tangled Noodle: I think I’ll be dipping in and out of Chef E’s goodie bag for a while, sprinkling its contents on all that I eat :)
I eat so locally possible & grow a few things myself but my father has a large kitchen garden. He tries several things & new veggies out for me!
I so love this African stew. It looks so appetizing & so flavourful too!
I”m with Gastro – living in Northern CA its not hard to be a localvore but I am always on the search for new and exciting flavors. Given the international and cosmopolitan population its fun to see the international twist given to local product. I could do local entirely, but my sense of adventure would be left wanting more..
Sophie: it’s lovely that you can benefit from your father’s kitchen garden – that’s the best kind of local food!
Oyster Culture: yep, that pretty much sums up how I feel too