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Category: Side Dishes (Page 2 of 15)

Spud Sunday: Subtropical Spuds

National Potato Day 2013

Given the image above, I may as well get straight to the point: National Potato Day is, once again, on its way.

Started as an initiative by Keogh’s, it’s two years since the inaugural National Potato Day took place and this year, for the first time, it will run with the support of Bord Bia (which, I suppose you could say, makes it official). That, in turn, means that we can expect more in the way of events in the run up to the day itself, Friday August 23rd, and greater media coverage; details of happenings will appear on the potato.ie site from this coming Monday, July 29th, with a number of events announced already, including the plan by Sam’s Potatoes to make an attempt on the record for the largest ever potato sack race at the Tullamore Show on August 11th and a 5K fun run hosted by the Meade Potato Company on National Potato Day itself.

Running and sack racing aside, I chatted to Lorcan Bourke of Bord Bia about their aims for National Potato Day. It was a conversation that had a familiar ring: counteract the perception that carbs are bad; highlight the neat nutritional package that is the potato; broaden people’s perspectives on how a potato can be prepared; bring some colour to the potato palette (***) – in other words, the kind of thing I do on a regular basis. So, with that in mind and anticipating the event to come, here’s a little colour from the warmth of the Canary Islands, where they’ve got salt and spice and aren’t afraid to use ’em.

*** This is a rare bird – a sentence where you could probably get away with using palette, palate or even, at a stretch, pallet (for those who like to think of their potatoes in bulk terms)

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Spud Sunday: Darling Spuds Of May

New was, without question, the operative word this week.

There was new beer, with Oxman, a chocolatey, treacly brown ale, brewed in England using Irish oats, by those nomadic brewers from the Brown Paper Bag Project and launched, in both bottle and cask forms, in L. Mulligan Grocer’s on Wednesday; there was the new and beautifully shot quarterly food magazine, Feast, launched by Donal Skehan, celebrating seasonal foods and sensational producers; there was the stylish new video recipe series, Forkful TV, launched by Aoife McElwain of I Can Has Cook; there was a new perspective on an old drink (not to mention an awful lot of bottles) at a gathering organised by wine writers John Wilson and Raymond Blake to celebrate World Sherry Day; there was the announcement of the first tour by new enterprise, Irish Food Tours – set up by chefs Zack Gallagher and Wendy White Kavanagh – which will give participants a real taste of Kilkenny on the weekend of July 5th (details here) with visits to local food producers and cultural sights, and bookable now at what I reckon is a very reasonable all-in cost for meets, eats and sleeps.

Phew.

A lot of newness to be going on with, then.

Most notably, from my point of view though, there were new potatoes.

Country Crest new season Irish potatoes

Country Crest new season Irish potatoes

Specifically, I had new season Irish potatoes sent my way by Dublin-based produce suppliers, Country Crest. Given the god awful slowness of the growing season this year, I have to admit surprise at local new potatoes making an appearance in May at all, even with crops grown under glass, as these first-of-the-season spuds would have been.

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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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