Friday, 22 July 2011

FOR FOOD'S SAKE III: Food Tourism – can we eat our way out of trouble?

Thursday 28 July
The Sugar Club, 8 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2
Doors 7pm sharp (discussion kicks off 7.30pm)
Adm €5 on the door
The Irish food industry is something we should all be proud of and deserves a platform for discussion. For Food's Sake is a regular bi-monthly evening of food talk and tastings.

On the last Thursday of every second month, journalist and food blogger Aoife Carrigy (of, and former deputy editor of FOOD&WINE Magazine) chairs a themed night of discussion, joined by a panel of four guest speakers. Past themes have included the future of Irish food production, and the state of the Irish restaurant industry. This month, we turn our attention to the crossover industries of food and tourism, and to all the exciting new food festivals, trails, networks, initiatives and events taking place around the country.
There will be free food tastings from several Irish artisan producers (including some of the best cheesemakers and fish smokers in the country) who will tell you a bit about why they do what they do, and an inspirational talk from TV chef Paul Flynn.
There will be a chance to win some great foodie prizes (including dinner and overnight stay at The Tannery, Dungarvan).
And there will be a madcap Karaoke Cook-Off, hosted by Oisin Davis of The Ticket’s ‘Booking the Cooks’ monthly food column.
Aoife Carrigy will be joined by the following panel to discuss Food Tourism in Ireland today.
  • Paul Flynn, The Tannery restaurant and cookery school & Waterford Food Festival
  • Helen McDaid, Food and Hospitality Innovation Manager, Failte Ireland
  • Birgitta Curtin, Burren Smokehouse, Burren Eco-Tourism Network & Burren Slow Food Festival
  • Hugo Arnold, food writer, restaurant consultant & advisor to Good Food Ireland

July’s discussion of Food Tourism in Ireland today will look at some of the sustainable local tourism developments and grassroots events which have been taking root around the country, and will highlight how the simple act of eating your way around the country can help to support jobs and redirect money back into the local economy.
We’ll ask who's doing what well, both here and abroad, and what kinds of supports are there for businesses looking to attract tourists through food.
We’ll discuss the challenges and rewards of setting up a food festival or initiative as well as how evolving a multi-faceted experience by adding wine-dinners, cookery classes, accommodation, demos as spin-offs can help build a business.
We’ll consider the strength of marketing as a united network rather than as individuals, and the power of using social media and other marketing tools.
And we’ll debate how Ireland’s food culture is perceived overseas as well as at home, and what exactly our tourist industry is trying to sell, and to whom?

So, For Food's Sake, come join us, and Eat! Drink! and Be Merry!
We've a lot to be cheerful about. And much to discuss.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Producers: For Food’s Sake II

FFS II, held on Thursday 26th May, posed the question “Are Irish Restaurants Up The Swanny?”.  
Once again, four Irish producers were on-site to help feed the crowd and spread the word about their lovely products.  

Gleann Gabhra Goats’ Produce
Dominic Gryson was the representative of Gleann Gabhra Goats’ Produce at FFS II. He and his wife Fionnuala’s farm is at the foot of the Gabhra Valley close to the hills of Tara, which may or may not add a magical taste of their goats’ milk products. They specialise in milk, cheddar cheese and ice-cream. To find out more visit their website ( or email them at

Curraghchase Pork
Rigney’s Farmhouse Bed and Breakfast’s Caroline Rigney was at FFS II to showcase some of the farm’s free range pork products, which are the prized product in their Farm Shop at Curraghchase, Co Limerick. They produce their rashers, black and white puddings and sausages from rare-breed pigs such as Tammleworth and Saddlebacks.  
Have a look at their website ( to find out more.

Ballyhoura Apple Farm
Maurice Gilbert from North Country Cork’s Ballyhoura Apple Farm brought along some of his apple-based treats for the FFS II audience to sample. Specialising in apple juice, Ballyhoura also have a range of cider in production as well as some salad dressing using the farm’s apples which they’ve been growing since 2006. You can Maurice and his goods at farmers’ markets throughout Munster, as well as in Dublin’s Blackrock Market at Jonathan’s stall. Find out more at  

George’s Patisserie
Georg Heise is the man behind George’s Patisserie, whose goods were sampled at FFS II.  Originally from Munich, this world-travelled pastry chef moved to Ireland in 2000 and set up his bakery in Slane, Co Meath, in 2001. Available in the Dublin Food Co-op on a Saturday and other farmers’ markets around Dublin, the bakery produces artisan breads, cakes, pastries and fine confectionary fresh every day.  To make your order, or to just find out more, have a look at

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Our Timpano Recipe

I think it would be fair to say that the revealing of the timpano in Big Night is pretty much the culinary money shot of the movie. A pie loaded with pasta, cheese, two sauces and a geansaĆ­ load of meat is certainly not for the faint of heart, or indeed anyone with a heart condition. But for everyone else, it makes for one heckuva tasty ass delight.

Last week when we screened Big Night, we presented our own timpano on the stage of  The Sugar Club at the end of the movie. Giving the first slice to mama mia/me auld wan, was a cool buzz. Sharing the rest with everyone who came along to see the movie was even better. Watching everyone bumrush the stage when we said it was free was kinda scary, a bit like a Zombie march if I'm honest. But at least I knew they wanted our food and not our brains...

As there is a fair amount of prep involved, it's actually quite time consuming, but it would be unjust to say that it's hard to make. You will need to get an enamel pot to cook it in, at least 14 inches in diameter. And Luca came up with a great idea - put a pyrex dish underneath it so that the heat doesn't go too hard directly onto the bottom. It worked for us as we had to use the pizza oven in the club and were afraid that the base stone would get too hot.

I would recommend cooking all the meats the night before, especially the meat ragu as it's always better the day after. Enjoy!



1 pound large round steak, cut into cubes
2 jars of passata
Half a bulb of garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of oregano
1/2 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 litre of good beef stock
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 glass of simple red wine
2 tablespoons of olive oil


Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pot and brown the meat. Remove with slotted spoon and put aside. Heat remaining olive oil and lightly cook the onion, then the garlic. Then drop in the passata and fry it up a little for about a minute or so. Put everything else in (including the beef), bring it to the boil and then drop it down to a simmer. Let it cook for at least 3 hours, stirring occasionally so it won't stick.

While that's cooking you can sort out the sausage and the meatballs....


2 packs of Hick's Italian Sausages
1 pound of pork mince
1 pound of beef mince
2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
1 egg
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 heaped tablespoon of hot chilli powder (this is optional but I liked it spicy as it counteracted everything else)
1 tablespoon of dried basil
Half a bulb of garlic, chopped and lightly fried
2 teaspoons of salt
Heat a griddle pan with some olive oil and cook off the sausages. Or else you can barbecue or even hot smoke them. When they're done, let them cool off and then slice them diagonally.

Combine all the other ingredients in a mixing bowl with your hands. Shape the meat balls into an even size (but not too big), place them on a tray and grill them. They may go a little dry but that's grand because the sauce in the Timpano will keep them plenty moist.
Here is what all my meats looked like after I cooked them all. Like I said, make them a day in advance.


Luca made this one. He seemed to think that it was just fine but I thought it was excellent. Studding the shallot with a bay leaf and cloves was pretty freakin' cool and you could really taste it. Nice touch.


2-1/2 cups milk
1 shallot with 1 bay leaf stuck to it using 1 – 2 whole cloves
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Combine the milk, shallot, and nutmeg in a saucepan over low heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes, uncovered, to infuse the flavor into the milk. Remove the clove and bay leaf from the shallot, but leave it in the sauce.

Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium, heavy saucepan over low heat. Stir in 4 tablespoons all-purposed flour. Cook uncovered stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon or spatula, over medium-low heat until the roux is fragrant but not darkened, 2 – 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and slowly mix in the milk, about 1/2 cup at a time. Turn the heat back on and simmer 8 – 10 minutes. Do not boil. Season with salt and pepper.

1 kilo of rigatoni or large penne. Boil it as you normally would but stop cooking it about 2 minutes away from al dente. If it's too soft the pasta doesn't hold in the timpano. When it's cooked, cool it off in some ice and put it aside.

 Again, Luca made this and did a sterling job. You will need a clean, large flat table/counter.
4 cups flour
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
Olive oil
1/2 cup water, divided
To make the dough, place flour, eggs, salt and olive oil in a mixing bowl mixer.  Add 3 tablespoons water, roll up your sleeves and start combining it all, old school with your hands. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, up to 1/2 cup, until mixture comes together and forms a ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead to make sure it is well mixed. Set aside to rest for 5 minutes.

Olive Oil and Butter to grease the enamel pot with.
2 cups of Tallegio Cheese, broken into little chunks
1.5 cups of good Parmesan cut into little slices

Generously grease the timpano baking pan with butter and olive oil. Fold the dough in half and then in half again, to form a triangle, and place it in the pan. Open the dough and arrange it in the pan, gently pressing it against the bottom and the sides, draping the extra dough over the sides. Set aside.Heat your oven to 180 degrees.

Mix 6 cups of pasta with 2 cups of meat ragu and place it at the bottom of the timpano. Then evenly distribute half your sausage and place an even amount of tallegio on top of it.
Then you need to put a layer of meatballs on top of that along with half of your parmesan and another cup of ragu.
Mix another 6 cups of pasta with your bechamel this time and layer that on top.

Then you need to repeat what you did the first time round:  drop the other half of your sausage and tallegio on top of that followed by more ragu pasta, meatballs and parmesan. If there's any remaining ragu left over, pour it on top.

Fold the dough over the filling to seal completely. Trim away and discard any double layers of dough.Take the trimmed dough pieces, form a ball, and roll it out to form a 'lid' to cover. You can lay them in thin strips if you want, it doesn't really matter as long as the lid is firm. When I had to stick two pieces of dough together around the perimeter of the pot, I used a little brush if water to make sure they held. Think that was a good idea.

Place the bowl on a pyrex dish and stick it in the oven for an hour. Then carefully remove and wrap it in tin foil and bake for another 30 minutes but without the pyrex and let it rest for another 30.
Carefully slice and serve. Be prepared for any of your guests to have a very serious coronary.

Oisin Davis

The Producers: For Food’s Sake I

At the first For Food’s Sake event in The Sugar Club, which was held on 31 March, it wasn’t just all food for thought.  Four Irish producers helped make the first night a very delicious one indeed.

The event’s theme was “The Great Green Hope - where lies the future for Irish production?”.  The speakers helped to whet our minds’ appetites while the producers listed below are certainly among those helping to give culinary hope to this nation’s food future.  

Kelly’s Organic Products: Moon Shine Dairy Farm
Mary and Gerry Kelly from Moonshine Organic ( were on hand to let us sample some of their delicious dairy products, as well as sharing a touching poem written by one of their Moos. Well, ghost-written via Mary, of course.  
Located just outside Mullingar, the Kelly’s have been keeping their Moos happy and producing their organic dairy products since 2000. The name Moonshine refers to fact that their farm’s work schedule work in parallel to the moon’s cycles, which they believe benefits their products in taste, shelf-life and texture.  

You can read more on their website, where you’ll also find further details on their products as well as contact information. If you’re Dublin-based you’ll find them in The Dublin Food Co-op every Saturday. 

Connemara Smokehouse
Connemara Smokehouse has been the Roberts’ family business since 1979. Graham Roberts was one of the speakers at FFS I and gave us an insight into how he and his wife Saoirse manage their business. It’s one of the oldest smokehouses remaining in the west of Ireland, yet they’ve bridged the gap between the old and new by embracing digital media to spread the message of their outstanding smoked fish.

Have a look at their website ( to find out more about their products and browse through their on-line shop. You can also say hello to them on Twitter (@OldSmoky).

Janet’s Country Fayre
Janet Drew’s range of jams, chutneys, salsas, pestos and basically anything that’s fit to be jarred, are one of the best success stories of artisan food production in the country. You’re bound to have come across at least one of her products along your food travels in Ireland but if not, head to for more info on where you can get your hands on a jar of at least one of her delicious products. At FFS I, a number of Janet’s jars’ lids were popped open for the audience to enjoy.  

Janet was a bit of a trail-blazer when it came to artisan food production in Ireland, starting her company back in 1994. Her commitment to her food vision has seen her Wicklow-based company grow to produce 18 different sauces, chutneys and jams, including her most well-known Sweet Pepper Relish which tastes good slathered on pretty much anything.   

Le Levain Bakery
The bread at FFS I was provided by Dublin-based Le Levain Bakery, who produce their bread using naturally-fermented dough. In French, this bread is called ‘levain’ but you may be more familiar with its English name: sourdough. Rossa, the head baker, followed his passion for bread all the way to three French bakeries where he learnt his craft. He’s brought his skills back to Ireland and you can sample them at Le Levain Bakery stall in the Temple Bar Food Market on Saturdays, as well as in Dublin’s Lilliput Stores in Stoneybatter.  

The Big Night

Thanks to everyone for coming down to our first film night last Thursday. We had oodles of craic cooking for you all and got loads of good feedback, so the only thing left is to decide on the movie for the next one....

Great to see the bum rush towards the stage when Oisin and Luca unveiled the Timpano at the end - wish we had got that on video.

Zesty Summer Salad - Goldriver Farm mixed leaves with grilled courgette, mint, capers, tomatoes and parmesan

Leek, taleggio and walnut pesto risotto

The Timpano!!!!

the rush for the timpano