Monday, 14 January 2019

The Rise and Rise of Meat-Free Eating


Our eating habits have changed drastically in the last few decades. One in eight Britons are now vegetarian or vegan according to a recent report on food shopping. A further 21% claim to be flexitarian eating a predominantly ‘plant based’ diet, occasionally supplemented with a little meat or fish. That amounts to a staggering one third of UK consumers that have reduced or removed meat entirely from their diet. 




This rapid and dramatic change is being fuelled by the perception that farm animals are one of the major contributors to CO2 emissions… However it is important to realise that those statistics were based on ‘feed lot’ systems rather than grass fed or pasture raised cattle.

Animal welfare issues are high on the list of concerns that have swayed the 18-34 year olds. This age group particularly are becoming much more curious and concerned about how their food is being produced.


Many have lost trust in multinational food companies, supermarkets, governments and the health service. They are confused by food labelling and are becoming more and more desperate as food allergies and intolerances grow exponentially. Consumers are demonstrating increasing concern about the impact of our food choices and behaviour on the environment.

Haulie ploughing our organic glasshouses
The focus on the effect of plastic on our oceans (see BBC’s Blue Planet 2) and the fact that up to 9 different types of plastics were found in human stools in a recent study conducted by the Environment Agency Austria, has shocked people into action.
We want our governments to legislate for less plastic packaging and we want our supermarkets to be proactive about reducing plastic.
For the first time this year The Good Food Guide highlighted restaurants with vegan menus. The UK supermarket group Waitrose, have created vegan sections in 134 of their stores and launched a range of more than 40 vegan and vegetarian meals. This is not going to change anytime soon. My gut feeling is that a plant based diet with lots of fresh organic vegetables, fresh herbs and grains, organic eggs, dairy and some meat and fish is the best for humans, animals and the planet.

In the sage words of Michael Pollan, “Eat food, mostly plants and not too much”.



Our Dynamic Vegetarian Cooking course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School runs on 27th February this year.

See details and book here. 

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Little Women's Christmas


Nollaig Na mBan…

That’s the enchanting Irish name given to Women’s Little Christmas on the 6th of January– the feast of the Epiphany.
It’s the traditional end of the Christmas season, the day we take down the Christmas tree and pack the baubles and tinsel into the attic for another year. But most importantly, it’s the day when the women of Ireland get to have time off from household chores after all the festive cooking.

A special day to get together with friends, sisters, mothers and aunts…The men, cheerfully take over the household for the day so the women can gather together to party and have a glass of fizz.
I was surprised to discover that many other countries have a similar tradition although the date sometimes varies. 

The Nordic countries have many customs, as have Ukraine, Slovenia, Galicia and closer to home there are high jinks and ceilis in the Scottish highlands it’s called, Là Féill nan Rìgh, The Feast of the Kings in Gaelic. La Fête des Rois is also celebrated in France with the delicious Galette des Rois as the centre piece of the table. Every boulangére offers their version of the flaky pastry galette, with a little trinket known as a ‘fève’ hidden deep inside the marzipan filling. Each comes with a golden paper crown which the lucky person who finds the fève in their slice will wear when they are crowned king for the day.

Here in Ireland the custom had almost disappeared, apart from in the counties of Cork and Kerry but there has been an enthusiastic revival of Women’s Little Christmas in recent years. Many restaurants and hotels are offering jolly Nollaig na bMan celebrations with exciting entertainment, dancing and music as well as afternoon tea or dinner so the womenfolk can enjoy a night out.
Just found this funny poem on social media penned by Nuala Woulfe @NWoulfeWriter – a few lines to whet your appetite.

Mammys on the Dance Floor
Mammys on the dance floor, let out for the night,
Dancing round their handbags, whooping with delight,
Mammys on the dance floor, kicking up the dust
Checking out the six packs, overcome with lust!
Mammys on the dance floor, one more round of beer,
Eyeing up the bouncers, giving them the leer…


Monday, 31 December 2018

Best Cookbooks of 2018


Well Christmas is well and truly over for another year, not sure about you but I’ve already managed to break several of my New Year resolutions but despite the dark evenings I do love this time of year. Lots of chunky soups, comforting stews, steamed puddings and the smell of Seville orange marmalade bubbling in the pot. The bitter oranges are in the shops now, so rush out to buy more than you think you need, freeze some and use my Whole Orange Marmalade recipe (see Examiner website), whenever you are running out of Seville orange marmalade during the year.
Meanwhile how about some fresh new ideas to liven up your cooking for 2019. Here are some of my favorite new cookbooks to use up your Christmas book tokens:

1.    The Noma Guide to Fermentation by René Redzepi and David Zilber
2.    Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi
3.    Extebarri by Jon Sarabia and Juan Pablo Cardenal
4.    Ethiopia: Recipes and Traditions from the Horn of Africa by Yohanis Gebreyesus
5.    Zaitoun: Recipes and Stories from the Palestinian Kitchen by Yasmin Khan
6.    Jamie Cooks Italy by Jamie Oliver
7.    Venice: Four Seasons of Home Cooking by Russell Norman
8.    Copenhagen Food: Stories, Traditions and Recipes by Trina Hahnemann
9.    How to Eat A Peach by Diana Henry
10.   Cook, Share, Eat, Vegan: Delicious Plant-based Recipes for Everyone by Áine Carlin
It may not be to everyone’s taste but my book of the year is the Noma Guide to Fermentation by René Redzepi and David Zilber. Few chefs know or understand how to use fermented foods to their full potential like René does. For several years now, David Zilber, Arielle Johnston and Lars Williams have been experimenting and perfecting all manner of fermented foods in their bunker turned fermentation lab beside Noma in Copenhagen, and have gone where few others have dared to venture. For those of us who have been experimenting over the years this book is the master class Penny, Marie and all of us in the ‘Bubble Shed’ at Ballymaloe Cookery School have been eagerly anticipating.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s new book, Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook, has taken the US by storm as well as this side of the world. Israeli born Yotam, author of Jerusalem and Plenty already has quite the following for his take on his beloved Middle Eastern food. However, he is not known for simple recipes so in the nick of time, before people get too exasperated, he’s published this volume of enticing dishes, many with fewer than 10 ingredients – and several that take less than 30 minutes to get on to the table. Love this book of quick and everyday recipes from one of the most creative chefs on the current food scene.


Ethiopia: Recipes and Traditions from the Horn of Africa by Yohanis Gebreyesus. Always fascinating to learn about the food of an area that is totally unfamiliar, so I was intrigued to find this book published by Kyle Books. I first tasted Ethiopian food in Santa Fe in California and later ate Teff, the fermented flat bread from a stall in Union Square Market in lower Manhattan. Ethiopia, a fascinating country that has never been colonized but it’s intriguing cuisine is enriched with the different religious influences of Christianity, Judaism and Islam, a combination unique to Africa. Chef Yohanis Gebreyesus, takes us on a journey of the essential Ethiopian dishes, interwoven with enchanting stories of local people and customs. He whetted my appetite not only for the food but for the country – must visit soon…

For a taste of Ethiopia here in East Cork, rush to Fizzy’s stall at the Mahon Point and Midleton Farmers Market. She also sells the quintessential Berber spice mixture that you’ll need for many of the dishes.

Trina Hahnemann’s name is not nearly as well known as René Redzepi but in her own way she is a much loved and highly respected ambassador for Scandinavian food. Trina has written ten best selling cookbooks full of gorgeous simple recipes. She is an enthusiastic advocate for sustainable solutions, organic sourcing, and food cooked with love. Copenhagen Food is a love letter to her native Copenhagen and the delicious dishes enjoyed from her home town.

 


Of the new vegan cook books published in 2018, of which there were many here are a few worth a mention: Cook, Share, Eat, Vegan: Delicious Plant-based Recipes for Everyone by Áine Carlin; Veganish by Holly White. The runaway best seller is by The Bosh Boys, Bosh! Simple Recipes, Amazing Food, All Plants. And finally 15 Minute Vegan Comfort Food by Katy Beskow.


Jam makers should definitely seek out 5 Seasons of Jam by Lillie O’Brien of the London Borough of Jam and last but not least a shout out to some Irish titles, Currabinny Cookbook by James Kavanagh and William Murray (alumni of Ballymaloe Cookery School) which recently won the Irish Cookbook of the Year, Donal Skehan’s Meals in MinutesNeven Maguire’s new book Home Economics for Life, Irish Seaweed Christmas Kitchen by Prannie Rhatigan one of the pioneers who highlighted the magic of seaweed long before it became trendy. There are many more but I am out of space however, I can’t forget How to Eat a Peach: Menus, Stories and Places by Diana Henry – certainly one of the great books of the year.



Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Christmas Leftovers


I hope you’ve managed to resist the urge to fill your fridge and pantry to bursting point but having said that I love the fun of using up leftover bits of this and that.


Now for a few ideas…Not sure if there will be any little morsels of turkey or crispy skin left over after everyone has tucked into turkey sandwiches on Christmas evening but, if there are, strip off the carcass to make this delicious pilaff. Then pop the carcass into a pot with 2 or 3 quartered onions, same of carrots and a stick or two of celery, a sprig of thyme and a few peppercorns. If you don’t use the giblets (neck, heart and gizzard) to make a flavourful stock for the gravy, add them in to the pot. Cover the whole lot with cold water, bring to the boil, skim and simmer for 3 to 4 hours. Strain and you’ll have a delicious pot of turkey broth to sip or use as a base for a stew, casserole or to make an unctuous risotto or the pilaff.

Use the turkey liver immediately while it is fresh to make this parfait and serve it in little pots with plump Pedro Ximénez raisins. It’ll make a delicious starter or can be slathered on crisp, hot toast for a snack. (Read on for the recipe).

What other leftovers? Might you have any leftover Brussel sprouts, if so trim the outsides, then half or quarter each one, blanch, drain well, toss in extra virgin olive oil and roast in a hot oven. Then toss with chorizo crumbs – so yummy. I’m loving roasted cauliflower and Romanesco florets too.

Leftover cranberry sauce keeps well so don’t fuss about using it up but do try it with some soft goat cheese. Fresh cranberries also keep well and of course freeze perfectly, otherwise throw a fistful into your salads, scones, muffins or soda bread. Maybe stew them down, add a little chopped rosemary and add them to an apple sauce to serve with a pork chop or make a ‘catch-all’ cranberry chutney.

Sprinkle left over mincemeat into a batch of scones. Serve them warm with the remainder of the brandy butter. 

What else might you have lurking in your fridge, perhaps some miscellaneous morsels of cheese? Well I’ve got just the perfect recipe, a little gem that turns leftover cheese into delicious biscuits. A perfect snack or an irresistible nibble to serve with a glass of wine.

Make breadcrumbs from left over bread and pop them into the freezer. They’ll be so useful for crumbles, stuffing or panagratto to sprinkle over stews or gratins, sweet or savoury or make a Queen of Puddings. Otherwise make a bread and butter pudding, it’s a brilliant, catch-all for all kinds of scraps, morsels of meat or smoked fish, Brussel sprouts, chard, sautéed mushrooms, chopped herbs, grated cheese… just omit the sugar for a savoury version and serve with a  good green salad.

Well, there are just a few ideas to help you to be creative with your leftovers. Meanwhile, a very Happy Christmas and New Year, hopefully you’ll manage to get a few delicious long walks in….

Turkey Liver Parfait with Pedro Ximénez Raisins


Serves 10-12 depending on how it is served.

225g (8oz) fresh organic turkey livers
2 tablespoons
200-300g (8-12oz) butter (depending on how strong the livers are)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 large clove garlic, crushed
225g (8oz) butter, cubed
freshly ground pepper
50g (2oz) of raisins or sultanas
2 tablespoons Pedro Ximénez Sherry
50g (2oz) pistachio nuts, halved

clarified or melted butter to seal

Put the raisins into a small bowl, cover with warm Pedro Ximenez and leave to soak until plump and juicy.

Wash the livers in cold water and remove any membrane or green tinged bits. Dry on kitchen paper.

Melt a little butter in a frying pan; when the butter foams add in the livers and cook over a gentle heat.  Be careful not to overcook them or the outsides will get crusty; all trace of pink should be gone.   Add the crushed garlic and thyme leaves to the pan, stir and then de-glaze the pan with brandy, allow to flame or reduce for 2-3 minutes. Scrape everything with a spatula into a food processor.  Purée for a few seconds.  Allow to cool.

Add the butter. Purée until smooth.  Season carefully, taste and add more butter.

This parfait should taste fairly mild and be quite smooth in texture. Fill into little pots or into one large terrine.   Tap on the worktop to knock out any air bubbles. Spoon a little clarified butter over the top of each little pot of pâté to seal. If serving immediately spoon the Pedro Ximénez soaked raisins and pistachio nuts on top.
Serve with brioche, crusty bread, sourdough toasts or croutes.   This parfait will keep for 4 or 5 days in a refrigerator.

Watchpoint: It is essential to cover turkey liver pate with a layer of clarified or even just melted butter, otherwise the parfait will oxidize and taste bitter and turn grey in colour.

Pilaff Rice with Turkey and Ham and Fresh Herbs

Although a risotto can be made in 20 minutes it entails 20 minutes of pretty constant stirring which makes it feel rather laboursome. A pilaff on the other hand looks after itself once the initial cooking is underway. The pilaff is versatile – serve it as a staple or add whatever tasty bits you have to hand. Beware however of using pilaff as a dustbin, all additions should be carefully seasoned and balanced.

Serves 8

25g (1oz) butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion or shallot
400g (14oz) long-grain rice (preferably Basmati)
975ml (32fl oz) homemade turkey or chicken stock
225g (8oz) diced cooked turkey
225g (8oz) diced cooked ham or bacon
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons freshly chopped herbs eg. parsley, thyme, chives: optional

Melt the butter in a casserole, add the finely chopped onion and sweat for 2-3 minutes. Add the rice and toss for a minute or two, just long enough for the grains to change colour. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, add the chicken stock, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a minimum and then simmer on top of the stove or in the oven 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3 for 10 minutes approx. By then the rice should be just cooked and all the water absorbed. At this stage stir in the diced turkey and ham/bacon to heat through, ensure it is piping hot. Just before serving stir in the fresh herbs if using.

Note
Basmati rice cooks quite quickly; other types of rice may take up to 15 minutes.


Roast Brussels Sprouts with Chorizo Crumbs
Serves  4-6
I first tasted roast Brussels sprouts cooked in a wood burning oven in a restaurant in San Francisco about ten years ago. My friend Mary Risley told me this new way of cooking Brussels sprouts was causing lots of excitement. I didn’t get it, but now I love them cooked this way, there’s a fine line between sweet roasted and acrid burnt, so watch them like a hawk.

(450g) 1lb Brussels sprouts
extra virgin olive oil
flaky sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Chorizo crumbs to serve (see recipe)

Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/Mark 8.
If necessary trim the Brussels sprouts of any tough outside leaves, trim the stalk, cut into halves. Blanch in boiling water for 2 – 3 minutes. Drain well.  In a bowl drizzle the blanched sprouts with extra virgin olive oil. Season with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, toss to coat. Transfer to a roasting tin, cook for 10 – 15 minutes depending on size, shake the pan occasionally. The sprouts should be pale golden and crisp on the outside and tender within. Sprinkle with the chorizo crumbs and transfer to a hot serving dish.

Chorizo & Parsley Crumbs

Chorizo crumbs are delicious used in so many ways.  We like to scatter them over potato, celeriac, Jerusalem artichoke or watercress soup.  They are particularly good sprinkled over cauliflower or macaroni cheese.  Keep in a box in your fridge for several weeks, or freeze and scatter when you fancy!

Makes 175g (6oz)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
125g (4 1/2oz) chorizo, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
100g (3 1/2oz) coarse breadcrumbs
1 – 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

Put the oil into a cool pan, add the diced chorizo.  Toss on a low heat until the oil starts to run and the chorizo begins to crisp.  Careful it’s easy to burn the chorizo, drain through a metal sieve, save the oil and return to the pan.

Increase the heat, add coarse breadcrumbs and toss in the chorizo oil until crisp and golden.  Drain and allow to cool, add to the chorizo, stir in the chopped parsley.

Doune McKenzie's Cheese Biscuits


Any bits of left over cheese eg. Cheddar, Parmesan, Gruyére, Coolea, Cashel Blue … a little soft cheese may also be added but you will need some hard cheese to balance the flavour.

Weigh cheese then use equal amounts of butter and plain white flour.

Grate the cheese - rinds and all. Dice the butter.  Cream the butter and stir in the flour and grated cheese, form into a roll like a long sausage, about 4cm (1 1/2 inches) thick. Alternatively whizz in a food processor until it forms a dough, shape using a little flour if necessary. Wrap in parchment and twist the end like a Christmas cracker. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 -2 hours until solid.  

Slice into rounds - about 7mm (1/3 inch) thick.  Arrange on a baking tray, cook in a preheated oven 250ºC/475ºF/regulo 9 for approximately 5 minutes until golden brown.  

Leave to cool for a couple of seconds then transfer to a wire rack.   Best eaten on the day they are made as they soften quite quickly.

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Christmas is Coming...


Christmas is almost here again, my grandchildren are wild with excitement and anticipation…

Letters are already winging their way to Santa and some have been making Christmas cookies and helping to stir the plum pudding. They love to hear stories of Christmas when I was a child and are incredulous when I tell them how a little mandarin or clementine in the toe of my Christmas stocking was a huge treat to be eaten slowly and enjoyed segment by segment.

In fact one of the biggest challenges nowadays is to encourage children to think of those less fortunate and perhaps wrap up some of the toys and clothes they have outgrown to share.




Hopefully you’ve ordered a nice plump, free range turkey or goose for Christmas day and decided on the accompaniments. Many people start with the idea of doing something different this year but if you have family coming home for Christmas they usually don’t want you to change a thing. The traditional Christmas dinner is sacred in many families and that is what memories are made of, the favourite stuffing, Mam’s gravy, plum pudding, trifle and Christmas cake…



Every detail must be the same, I’ve given recipes for traditional turkey and goose on the Irish Examiner website in the past. My new favourite way to cook the turkey is to dry brine it the day before then roast it over the tray of stuffing so the juices can drip into the dish and flavour it deliciously. It cooks much faster than a whole bird and you don’t have to forgo the stuffing either. Talking of stuffing, my new favourite stuffing (inspired by ‘the dressing’ used by US friends for Thanksgiving), is made with chunkier pieces of bread rather than the breadcrumbs we usually use. 




Try to find duck, goose fat or good lard to roast the potatoes. The flavour will be a revelation. Peel, blanch and refresh the potatoes on Christmas Eve, dry and keep them in the fridge in a covered box. Sprouts can be halved or better still quartered and blanched in boiling water for 2-3 mins, then drained and plunged into ice to stop them cooking. Drain them well and refrigerate, ready to be reheated in boiling salted water just before Christmas dinner. Don’t forget lots of melted butter and freshly cracked black pepper to serve. I also love celery in a rich parsley sauce, another dish that can be tucked away in the freezer a week or two ahead. Cranberry sauce can also be made weeks in advance, make more than you need for presents or gift hampers for even busier friends.
Bread sauce can also be made several days ahead and reheated, even frozen, if that works better for you.



In our house we have both plum pudding and trifle, everyone loves Mummy’s plum pudding. Once again think about making an extra one or two for gifts to share with someone less fortunate.

If you decide to break with tradition why not try my Christmas meringue wreath served with pomegranate seeds and verbena leaves, it too can be made ahead and decorated before serving.
A glazed loin of streaky bacon is our secret favourite dish at Christmas it is super succulent and juicy and a fraction of the price of ham. The best discovery is that it can be reheated if cooked and glazed ahead.

So with all that preparation done you too can really enjoy Christmas day… Remember to allocate responsibility of different aspects of the festivities to different members of the family of all ages, thus sharing the fun and passing on the skills to the next generation – laying the table, arranging the flowers, as well as the cooking.


Have a wonderful fun filled Christmas with family and friends and look out for your neighbours too.  

All your favourite Christmas recipes and many more besides are in my book Darina Allen’s Simply Delicious Christmas published by Gill Books.


Thursday, 13 December 2018

Food as Medicine - The Greatest Vegetable for your Gut Microbiome


Ted Dinan, Professor of Psychiatry at UCC and I shared a platform at the Science Foundation of Ireland and IIBN event at the River Lee Hotel recently. 


Professor Dinan at LitFest 2017

Professor Dinan spoke about the ground-breaking research he and his colleagues in UCC have done on the link between our physical and mental health and our gut biome. Given the conclusions of this research project and the indisputable link between the health of our gut biome and several autoimmune diseases including depression, there were many questions from the floor on how to enhance our gut flora…

Was there not a quick fix, a magic pill or supplement to fast track a solution? Professor Dinan stressed that very few of the nutritional and health claims on supplements could actually be substantiated.

Our food can and should be our medicine – we need a biodiverse diet to feed the approximately 1.5 kilos of beneficial bacteria in our gut (equivalent to the weight of our brain).

Having observed students from all over the world responding positively to a diet of fresh naturally produced seasonal food over more than four decades, Ted’s scientific research confirms my ‘gut feeling’…pardon the pun! It’s clear, we need to ditch fake food and eat lots of real food, not ‘edible food like substances’.

Image: from one of our 12-week students, Shauna from thisbirdcanflysite.wordpress.com

There are several hugely beneficial foods that we can consume to enhance our gut flora, but we both agree that Jerusalem Artichokes (sunchokes in the USA), top the list.... They have the highest inulin content of any vegetable, which promotes beneficial bacteria in the gut biome. By coincidence, Jerusalem artichokes are coming into season right now and will continue to be available until late February or early March.


The freshly dug Jerusalem artichokes I brought with me to show the audience were eagerly snapped up. Many people had never heard of them before and really wanted to know how to cook them. I explained that they are a prolific winter root vegetable, super easy to grow. In fact given half the chance they spread like crazy. Where you plant just one tuber in Spring, there will be at least ten for you to harvest next year.

Meanwhile seek them out at Farmers Markets from now on. They look like knobbly potatoes but when they are freshly dug there is no need to peel. Jerusalem artichokes are nutty, sweet and crunchy and are also an excellent source of iron.

They are super versatile and can be cooked in a myriad of ways just like potatoes and parsnips, they make delicious winter soups and gorgeous gratins. Add them to stews, or sliver them to cook as artichoke crisps. They roast deliciously whole or in slices and are hugely appealing added to salads. I love them gently stewed or tucked around a casserole roast chicken or pheasant so they absorb all the delicious juices.


Despite what the name implies, they are not in any way related to the globe artichoke although the flavour resembles the fleshy heart.
Jerusalem artichokes are actually from the sunflower family, the name may well have been derived from the Italian word ‘girasole’. Our children love them, their knobbly appearance provides lots of fun identifying little monsters.

Some modern varieties are less knobbly and thus easier to peel but in my experience have an inferior flavour. By the way, the cheery yellow flowers are edible too.

Good to know…
Jerusalem Artichokes, like Globe Artichoke hearts, oxidise within minutes if exposed to the air, so they need to be dropped into a bowl or acidulated water as soon as they are peeled. They also earn their nick name ‘fartichokes’ but that is just proof that they are doing a good job for your gut biome…

They store for weeks in a cold dark place – forgot to mention that Jerusalem Artichokes contain more protein than most root vegetables, a big plus for vegetarians and vegans. 

Monday, 5 November 2018

Celebrating Local Culinary Talent

Super excited to have three new Michelin Star restaurants in County Cork, The Mews in Baltimore, West Cork under Chef Ahmet Dede, Ichigo Ichie in Cork City owned by Chef Takashi Miyazaki and Chestnut in Ballydehob with Chef Rob Krawczyk (a Ballymaloe Cookery School alumni). It focuses attention on the culinary scene outside the capital and hugely boosts the confidence of the many young chefs who are working tirelessly to raise standards in a time of tiny profit margins on food.
In the midst of all the euphoria came the budget and the reintroduction of the 13.5% VAT rate on restaurants, a whopping 4.5% increase from the 9% rate that enabled many, but not all to survive the recession. The hotel and restaurant scene in the capital is booming and profitable overall. The food scene in most of rural Ireland is quite a different scenario, the tourist season can be as short as 10-12 weeks. Many restaurants are just beginning to recover, from the crippling recession, starting to reinvest and were hoping to start a ‘rainy day fund’ to prepare for the inevitable next downturn which may not be too far away…
It’s all very disheartening… To maintain standards, continue to pay staff and local food producers, prices will have to increase significantly to enable restaurants to even stand still – a 2% increase was anticipated – 4.5% has totally knocked the ‘wind out of the sails’ of an industry that does so much to create employment, put Ireland on the global food map and boost tourism. I’m truly saddened and apprehensive – this can only result in dumbing down of standards, loss of jobs and closures - I so hope I’m wrong…

But to end on a positive I want to give a shout out to the recently published Currabinny Cookbook by super enthusiastic young foodies James Kavanagh and William Murray (ex Ballymaloe Cookery School student). The book exudes a love of food and their mission to encourage other cool young people like themselves (they have a huge fan base on social media), to discover the joy and larks to be had around the kitchen stove, doing pop-ups, selling at Farmers Markets and sharing the yummy food they’ve cooked with friends.