Soggy bottom alert: Want to have your cake judged by Mary Berry?

Food File: Luxury jams, summer lobster and Vish Sumputh moves to Luna

Mary Berry is coming to the National Ploughing Championships and you could be joining her there for afternoon tea. Photograph:  Georgia Glynn Smith

Mary Berry is coming to the National Ploughing Championships and you could be joining her there for afternoon tea. Photograph: Georgia Glynn Smith

 

Are you brave enough to bake for Mary Berry? The TV star and cookbook author will be a guest of the National Dairy Council (NDC) at the National Ploughing Championships in Tullamore on September 18th-20th, and three Irish bakers will be presenting their baked goods for her assessment.

The three will be chosen on the basis of recipes submitted to the NDC, for sweet or savoury items suitable for afternoon tea, which must contain dairy. The submissions will be judged by The Irish Times food writer Lilly Higgins, Chandima Gamage, head pastry chef at Dromoland Castle, and Ciara Leahy of the Irish Farmers Journal.

Here is the advice Berry offers to contestants: “It must be the very best of Irish dairy produce and the best of its type, whether that’s a quiche, tart or cake. We don’t want to see curdled custard or separated filling, the pastry must be beautifully done, it has to have great flavour and be beautifully presented. No soggy bottoms.”

All three winners will get to serve their creation to the queen of baking, and to enjoy afternoon tea with her. They will also win €300 vouchers for Ballymaloe Cookery School.

“I am looking forward most to meeting people and food producers and tasting some good Irish food. Irish stew is one of my favourite dinners, even better with a chunk of soda bread. My mother used to make it when I was young and I still make it for my children and grandchildren,” Berry says.

Entries, which must include ingredients, method, cooking time and a photograph, will be accepted until 5pm on August 10th. They can be emailed to competitions@ndc.ie or posted to Dairy Competition, The National Dairy Council, The Studio, 55c Maple Avenue, Stillorgan, Co Dublin.

Wexford man Michael Donnelly who makes Butterfly and the Bee artisan jams in London
Wexford man Michael Donnelly who makes Butterfly and the Bee artisan jams in London

Jammy news

Luxury jams made by an Irishman in London are being served at the Dorchester hotel in London. Claude Bosi, the French chef who has two Michelin stars at Bibendum, also serves them, in strawberry and apricot, and vanilla varieties, on the afternoon tea menu at Bibendum.

The brand, Butterfly and the Bee, is the brainchild of Michael Donnelly, originally from Wexford town where his mother Diana runs a well-known fashion shop. He trained in hotel management at Les Roches in Switzerland, and has worked in London at the Hempel Hotel and the Carlton Tower, but is now concentrating on his confiture business.

The jams are made in small batches in traditional French copper pans, and come in unusual varieties such as strawberry, basil and lime, raspberry and lemon verbena, and apricot and amaretto. The marmalade selection includes one made with oranges and Glendalough whiskey.

Butterfly and the Bee jams and marmalades are now available in 12 varieties at Fallon & Byrne, Exchequer Street and Rathmines, Dublin (€7.95)

Poached lobster tail on crab salad with couregtte fritter, on the summer lobster menu at Suesey Street
Poached lobster tail on crab salad with couregtte fritter, on the summer lobster menu at Suesey Street

Pots of lobster

A lobster menu and a sunny terrace sound like the essence of summer, and both are on offer – weather permitting – at Suesey Street in Dublin 2 until the end of August. Head chef Richard Stearn has created four new lobster dishes that are additions to the lunch and dinner menus.

Lobster and leek mornay, and breaded lobster claw with peas, pea jus, pickled samphire and olive oil are the starters on offer. For the main course, there is a choice of half or whole grilled lobster with basil and saffron emulsion, triple cooked chips, pickled fennel and orange salad, or butter poached lobster tail with crab, beetroot, carrot, turnip and green bean mayonnaise salad with courgette fritters.

The lobster menu is costed according to that day’s market price for the shellfish, but the starters have been running at around €15 and the main courses €33/€35.

Vish Sumputh is the new head chef at Luna in Dublin 2. Photograph: Alan Rowlette
Vish Sumputh is the new head chef at Luna in Dublin 2. Photograph: Alan Rowlette

New phase at Luna

Following the departure of Hugh Higgins to pastures new (he is joining formerly London-based Irish chef Niall Davidson of Nuala restaurant in a new venture on South Frederick Street), Luna, the glamorous subterranean New York Italian restaurant, has a new head chef.

Mauritian-born Vish Sumputh, formerly sous chef at Chapter One, has moved into the Drury Street kitchen. Sumputh will be adding his own dishes to the menu at Luna, but one crowd-pleaser at least looks set to remain. “The spaghetti al tartufo was the first dish I tasted here and was so perfect that it convinced me that Luna was the dining style for me,” he says.

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