Vinegar thrill from clever, no-waste, balsamic-based range

Food File: Brothers take over Lough Eske Castle kitchen, meet an olive oil sommelier

Burren Balsamics range of infused vinegars, marmalade, chutney and jam

Burren Balsamics range of infused vinegars, marmalade, chutney and jam

 

Susie Hamilton Stubber has been making infused balsamic vinegars since a batch made for a Christmas charity fair in 2013 proved so popular that she found herself with a new business on her hands.

Burren Balsamics in Richhill, Co Armagh, produces an extensive range of vinegars and white balsamic condiments, infused with a variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs and other ingredients, including a very blingy white balsamic condiment with edible gold leaf.

The vinegar comes from its source, Modena in Italy, and a gentle sous vide process is used once it arrives in Richhill to marry its distinctive flavour with other ingredients.

The process leaves Hamilton Stubber with quantities of vinegar infused fruit and vegetables, once the vinegar has been bottled, and she is now turning some of that into secondary products such as marmalade, relish, jam and chutney.

Her Armagh Bramley Apple infused vinegar has won Great Taste and Blas na hÉireann food awards and the apples used to make it are now being turned into Balsamic Spiced Apple chutney. Cranberry and orange-infused balsamic vinegar produces residual fruit that becomes a relish.

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What is left behind when blood orange and cardamom have been infused into white balsamic is turned into a versatile marmalade that Hamilton Stubber says is wonderful with ham or smoked duck. Roast onion balsamic provides the basis for onion jam, and the two together make a sausage casserole into something special. There are serving suggestions for all of the vinegars and other products, and recipes on the website, reflecting Hamilton Stubber’s previous career as a private caterer.

It is a clever, no-waste, value-added concept, made possible by the gentle treatment of the ingredients during the infusion process. The range is available at burrenbalsamics.com, with free shipping within Ireland for orders over £25.

Brothers in the kitchen

Brothers Richard and Andrew McKee who are head chef and sous chef at Lough Eske Castle
Brothers Richard and Andrew McKee who are head chef and sous chef at Lough Eske Castle

Richard McKee, the new head chef at Lough Eske Castle in Donegal, has been joined in the kitchen by his brother Andrew, who has been appointed sous chef. It is an unusual arrangement, but the brothers, who are from Newry, Co Down, say they get along well, in and out of the kitchen.

“Andrew and I have been working side-by-side on and off for about seven years, so we are used to it now,” Richard says. “Andrew is only one year younger than me and we both trained together at Newry College. We also live together now in Ballybofey. We both grew up in the kitchen – my mother and my granny were both pros in the kitchen. They were master bakers, as good as professionals. Cooking is in the blood.”

Richard is currently working on a new spring menu for Lough Eske Castle that he will launch next month, and says his focus is on “clean, local produce, and simple, quality cooking”.

Coffee for campers

Portable Minipresso by Wacaco
Portable Minipresso by Wacaco

Coffee lovers on the go might appreciate the new portable Minipresso by Wacaco, at branches of Meadowns & Byrne. It works with coffee pods and you need boiling water to use it. Useful for frequent travellers and camping enthusiasts who like an espresso. It costs €59.95.

Olive oil workshop

Karen Cryan, an olive oil sommelier – yes, that is an actual thing – will be demystifying extra virgin olive oil at a tutored tasting class and workshop on Saturday, April 13th (11am-1.30pm). It is being offered at the cookery school downstairs at Triggerfish Cookshop on the main street in Blackrock, Co Dublin and costs €40.

The workshop will cover the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil; how to tell a high quality oil from a low grade one; how to taste and evaluate; how to match oils with food, and how to store it correctly. There will also be an opportunity to taste six different extra virgin oils. Places can be booked online, or by telephoning 01-4425182.

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