Food file: getting the home fires burning and cooking up a storm

Marie-Claire Digby rounds up this week’s food news

COFFEE MORNINGS: The innovative team at Fabulous Food Trails have added a coffee walk, guided by food writer and coffee shop aficionado Aoife McElwain, to its programme of culinary walks. The Dublin coffee-tasting experience takes in visits to several very different and independent coffee houses. Roasteries including Roasted Brown, Vice and Kaph, so you'll be well caffeinated in addition to being well informed after your stroll, and there will be edibles too. The walk, from 11am-1.30pm, costs €50 and the next one takes place on July 2nd. See

In other coffee news, Ponaire Coffee has opened a coffee roastery, production facility, coffee bar and barista school in Newport, Co Tipperary, see And Jamie O’Neill, who has worked as a barista and roaster in London and Dublin, most recently at Cloud Picker roastery, has set up Upside Coffee in Dublin’s Fairview, where he will be roasting beans and working on plans to open a cafe too. See upside

GETTING ALL FIRED UP FOR VALORIANI: It was a batch of perfectly pale meringues coming out of the type of oven you would associate with charred meat and blistered pizzas that brought Valoriani wood-fired ovens to my attention.

Peter Cashell of Wood Fire Land, who imports the Tuscan ovens, describes them as "a professional quality wood-fired oven in a domestically friendly format". They are expensive; the entry model Baby Valoriani costs from €2,495 including delivery, but they can be installed indoors as well as outdoors.


Cooking with fire is a big trend at the moment, but it has to be learned. “Practice makes perfect,” Cashell says, advising buyers to explore cooking at various temperatures, “from the screaming heat and rolling flame required for top-notch pizzas, to the last vestiges of stored heat hours later for those meringues”. Once you’ve finished cooking, “sling in a joint of seasoned meat for melt-in-the mouth deliciousness the following day”.

Wood Fire Land can also supply seasoned ash, beach, birch, oak and fruit woods, “never softwood like pine as it sparks and has a resinous content which imparts an acrid aroma and flavour”. Gas-fired models are also available. You can check them out at, and Avoca in Rathcoole and Kilmacanogue.

IRISH STUDENT WINS TAPAS BURSARY: Patrick Brady from Donegal, a culinary arts student at Letterkenny Institute of Technology, has been awarded one of 12 bursaries for a Spanish gastronomy and tapas training programme at the International School of Culinary Arts in Valladolid.

The bursary is worth €12,000 and Brady will have six weeks of study, followed by a 13-week workplace internship and a two-week tour of Spanish food- and drink-producers.

The bursaries are offered annually by Spanish embassies and are supported by the Spanish trade body Icex. Brady joins students from prestigious culinary schools in Germany, Sweden, Mexico, Singapore, China, South Korea and the US. At the end of the 21 weeks, participants will compete to present the best tapas dish to an international jury in Valladolid.