Food file: Getting in touch with nature - and eating it

River Cottage weekends; mushroom vinegar ketchup and cep oil from Ballyhoura; curry awards

John Wright is  visiting Croan Cottages for a weekend Walk on the Wild Side (August 27th-28th)

John Wright is visiting Croan Cottages for a weekend Walk on the Wild Side (August 27th-28th)

 

GET IN TOUCH WITH NATURE – AND EAT IT
Steven Lamb, who works with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall at River Cottage in the UK, is returning to Croan Cottages in Co Kilkenny for a second “Taste of River Cottage” cooking, curing and smoking weekend (Sept 23rd-25th), and he is bringing with him Tim Maddams, former head chef at River Cottage. “It’s great to be able to teach a residential course from a working smallholding,” says Maddams.

Foraging expert John Wright, who has written three books in the River Cottage Handbook collection as well as the recently published A Natural History of the Hedgerow, is also visiting Croan Cottages for a weekend Walk on the Wild Side (August 27th-28th), which will teach participants how to safely forage for and prepare wild food and drinks.

For details of both courses, see croancottages.com

LONDON CALLING
Harrods Food Hall is to stock cep oil, mushroom vinegar ketchup and wild garlic vinegard made by Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms in north Cork from next month. Microbiologist Dr Lucy Deega runs the company along with food scientist Mark Cribben. The cep oil (€7) is made with wild Irish cep mushrooms and olive oil only, no artificial aroma additives. Deegan suggests using it in pasta and risotto dishes or with eggs.

The vinegars (€5/6.25) are from their own Irish cider mother culture and can be used in marinades, pickling and Asian dishes. Mushroom ketchup was produced in Europe long before the arrival of tomatoes, Deegan says, and the extract can be used in the same way as soy sauce. Available from ballyhouramushrooms.ie, and at the farmers’ markets at Mahon Point, Cork on Thursdays and Midleton on Saturdays.

CURRY FAVOUR
“Asian food is now as popular and as widespread as the Irish stew, the full Irish and the Ulster Fry,” says Belfast restaurateur Ali Askir, who has launched the inaugural Irish Curry Awards. There are six awards categories: best chef, young chef, restaurant, front of house, takeaway and newcomer. Customers can nominate their favourite at irishcurryawards.com. A judging panel will select the winners and an awards ceremony will be held on October 24th. The charity beneficiary is Children’s Heartbeat Trust.

THEATRICAL TREAT
Smock Alley’s summer season dinner or brunch and a show is back, and this time it’s Pygmalion that will be drawing crowds to the Dublin venue. You can sit down to dinner and a glass of wine (€30) at 6pm, with the performance to follow at 7.30pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from next week until September 3rd (except August 20th), or brunch (€25) on Saturdays and Sundays (except August 21st), at 1pm. To book, see smockalley.com

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