East Cork Slow Food

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East Cork Slow Food Convivium was established in August 2002.
The latest event was a Slow Food dinner at Café Paradiso in Cork on 21st August. So what’s a slow food dinner? The mere mention of Slow Food causes considerable confusion and conjures up images of hearty stews bubbling away on the stove or lamb shanks braising gently for hours and hours in the simmering oven of an Aga. Not so, although it could incorporate all or any of that. Neither does it mean slow service. 
Slow Food is in fact a philosophy and its now worldwide membership is made up of people who have concern around all kinds of food issues. 

“Slow Food works to counter the degrading effects of industrial and fast food culture that are standardizing taste, and promotes the beneficial effects of the deliberate consumption of nutritious locally grown and indigenous foods. By promoting taste education programs for adults and children, it works towards safeguarding and promoting public awareness of culinary traditions and customs.

The Slow Food Movement supports artisan food producers who make quality products and promotes a philosophy of pleasure. In addition, it encourages tourism that respects and cares for the environment, and – last but not least – Slow Food promotes charity initiatives around the world.

Slow Food seeks to combine pleasure with an understanding of responsibility towards the environment and the world of agricultural production. One fundamental slow food idea is that gastronomes and food enthusiasts must be sensitive to the protection of endangered local cuisines, animal breeds and vegetable species. Slow Food’s aim is to develop a new, less intensive, cleaner model of agriculture, one that is capable of preserving and improving biodiversity and offers prospects to the world’s poorest regions.”

The Slow Food organisation actively supports artisan producers, local butchers, bakers and endangered food cultures. The Slow Food ethos offers a way forward for rejuvenation of Irish agriculture and rural economies through encouraging value-added artisan food production, to a premium world market place.

Every now and then, slow food members and other interested observers get together for a convivial event, could be a tasting, a celebration of artisan producers, a lecture or a fabulous picnic such as the one organised by Clodagh McKenna for the West Cork Convivium at Lough Ine on a sunny Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago.

Denis Cotter and his team of chefs cooked a truly delicious vegetarian dinner. In the very best Slow Food tradition all the seasonal raw materials came from local producers. The event was over-subscribed and those of us who managed to get a ticket felt deeply fortunate, not only because of Denis’s sublime food but to hear Patrick Holden, Director of the Soil Association, speak on the importance of realising the connection between the quality of the food we eat and our health, an age old message which seems to be overlooked in our frantic search for a fast convenient processed food. In the words of Lady Eve Balfour, founder member of the Soil Association, he reminded us “the health of plant, animal and human are all one and indivisible”. The Soil Association and Slow Food are natural partners, the former passionate about the organic production of healthy plants and animals, the latter equally concerned about the former, but also passionate about taste and quality.

Patrick sees hope for the future in grass roots movements like, Slow Food, Farmers Markets and local food initiatives. 

He also referred to the organic baby food phenomenon, where 80% of sales in the UK are organic and several of the biggest baby food manufacturers are reported to be considering discontinuation of conventional baby food. The hope is that this bulge of concern about how food is produced will continue to gather momentum through the generations.

According to Patrick Holden the Departments of Health and Agriculture and the farming organisations are ignoring at their peril how unstable intensively produced food is becoming and the detrimental consequences this is already beginning to have on public health - a time bomb which needs to be addressed.

With that food for thought, we tucked into dinner. Each course - a celebration of local food was accompanied by a wine chosen specially by Monica Murphy of Febvre & Co. who generously sponsor Slow Food Ireland.

For details of how to join see Hot Tips.

Rigatoni with rocket, broad beans, cherry tomatoes, olives and fresh cheese

From ‘Paradiso Seasons’ by Denis Cotter – published by Atrium
Rocket adds a little spicy kick and the tang of fresh greenery to a pasta dish, but only if you don't cook it too much. In fact, don't cook it at all, but stir it into the cooked pasta just before you serve.. 

Denis uses Knockalara sheep's cheese or Oisin goats' cheese crottins, but ricotta, mascarpone or any mild soft cheese would be fine too. 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta until just tender. Drain it and return it to the pot. Meanwhile, chop the spring onions into long diagonal pieces. Slice the garlic. Halve the tomatoes; stone the olives and chop them lengthways into halves or quarters. Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a wide pan and cook the onion and garlic gently for a minute. Add the tomatoes, olives and broad beans and cook for one minute more until the tomatoes break down a little. Add just a splash of water to the pan to pick up all of the juices, then tip the contents into the pasta pot with another generous glug of olive oil, a generous seasoning of black pepper and a little salt. Heat the pasta through briefly, then stir in the rocket. Serve the pasta and crumble some cheese over each portion. 
FOR FOUR: 
450g rigatoni 
4 spring onions 
4 cloves garlic 
1OOg cherry tomatoes 
12 kalamata olives 
120mls olive oil 
4 tablespoons cooked broad beans 
black pepper and salt, to season 
1OOg rocket 
1OOg fresh cheese, from goats; sheep's or cows' milk

Blackberry tart with Calvados ice cream

From Paradiso Seasons by Denis Cotter
Denis says “If you have a regular supply of blackberries, you'll have your own favourite recipes, probably including one for a tart you're very fond of. I hope you also eat huge bowls of berries tossed in sugar with a blob of cream on top, and that in good years you make jam.. Hey, get out there and pick blackberries!! It's going to be winter soon. “
FOR THE ICE CREAM: 
1 cinnamon stick 
300mls milk
5 egg yolks 
125g caster sugar 
300 mls cream 
2 tablespoons Calvados liqueur 

Break the cinnamon stick and put it in a pan with the milk. Heat the milk to just short of boiling for one minute. 
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until they are thick and pale. Still whisking, on low speed, pour in the milk through a sieve. Return this egg and milk custard to the pan and simmer, stirring all the time, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Leave the custard to cool before adding the cream and the Calvados. Freeze using an ice cream machine. 
FOR THE TART: 
12Og unsalted butter
24Og plain flour
40g caster sugar 
1 egg 
1 tablespoon cornflour 
500g blackberries
l5Og caster sugar 
1 egg, beaten

Rub the butter into the flour, using your fingers or short bursts in a food processor. Transfer this to a bowl and stir in the sugar. Beat the egg lightly and add enough cold water to give 60mls of liquid. Stir this into the flour with a few quick strokes of a wooden spoon, then knead very briefly to get a smooth dough. Divide the dough into two flattened balls and chill them for an hour or more. 

Heat an oven to 19OOC/375°F. Roll one pastry ball to line a tart tin of 26cm diameter and 3cm high, leaving the pastry hanging a little over the edge. Sprinkle the cornflour over, through a sieve. Pile in the blackberries and sprinkle over the sugar. Roll out the second pastry ball to a diameter a few centimetres wider than the tart case. Brush the rim of the lower pastry with water. Use a rolling pin to pick up the second pastry and place it over the tart carefully. Press the edges together and trim off the excess pastry. Press the rim of the pastry with a fork or the flat side of a knife to strengthen the seal. Brush the top of the pastry with beaten egg and make a couple of cuts in the top. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the pastry is browned and crisp, and the blackberry juices are bubbling up through the cuts. Leave the tart to cool for at least ten minutes, and serve it warm or at room temperature with the Calvados ice cream or simply a dollop of cream. 
Darina's Foolproof Food

Courgettes or Zucchini with Marjoram

Serves 4
Now is the time that people often have a glut of courgettes, this simple little recipe is delicious.
I’m completely hooked on annual marjoram. The seed is sometimes difficult to track down because it can be called Sweet marjoram or Knotty marjoram, but if you have any little patch at all it’s worth growing because it transforms so many dishes into a feast.

1 lb (450 g) green or golden courgettes or a mixture no more than 6 inches (15 cm) in length
1-2 tablespoons approx. olive oil
1-2 teaspoon chopped annual marjoram or basil

Top and tail the courgettes and cut them into scant ¼ inch (5 mm) slices. Heat the oil, toss in the courgettes and coat in the olive oil. Cook on a medium heat until just tender –4-5 minutes approx. Add the marjoram or basil. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Turn into a hot dish and serve immediately.
Courgettes are one of the trickier vegetables to cook. Like mangetout peas they seem to continue cooking at an alarming rate after you’ve taken them out of the pot, so whip them out while they are slightly al dente.

Hot Tips

Have a look at the Slow Food Ireland website www.slowfoodireland.com  for details of your nearest Convivium and how to join.
The Organic Centre in Rosinver, Co Leitrim, are organizing a Green Festival Northwest from 19-28th September with demonstrations, music and storytelling workshops, stained glass and woodcarving, foraging, guided hill walk, organic food fair and much more …. For details contact Hans at organiccentre@eircom.net  Tel 072-54338 www.organiccentre.ie  
Bord Bia have a new guide to Farmers Markets on their website – ‘Pioneering Routes to Market’ including advice on how to set up a market – www.bordbia.ie

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Darina Allen
By Darina Allen

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