It will be no secret to anyone that the Cork Market is one of my favourite places. Shopping there is a world apart from the robotic experience of pushing a trolley up and down the aisles of even the plushest supermarket. The warm welcome, the banter with the stallholders, the wonderful market aromas, the stalls piled high with a myriad of tempting foods, the smell of Mary Rose’s coffee, the gleaming fresh fish, piles of vegetables, fruit and organic produce, the variety of offal from pigs heads to tripe and drisheen. Round the corner you’ll find homemade pasta and a dozen varieties of olives, Paul Murphy has local honey, thick and unctuous in the jar or still intact in the honeycomb. About a half dozen skilled butchers each with their own loyal following will cut your meat to order – and throw in some cooking tips for free.
Seems no length ago since Toby Simmonds tentatively set up his tiny stall selling a variety of olives in timber pails – a new age hippy side by side with third and fourth generation traders like Mrs. Aherne and her sister Siobhan who have now retired and are sadly missed from the Princes St end of the market. Now Toby’s Real Olive Co is thriving and has stalls in markets around the country as well as a flourishing wholesale business. Look out for Rachel McCormacks sandwich bar around the back of the Olive Stall in Cork Market for the yummiest juiciest salads, sambos and wraps you can imagine.
1993 was in fact a landmark year on the Cork food scene, that was the year that Denis Cotter and his New Zealand wife Bridget opened Café Paradiso on the Western Road, now arguably the best vegetarian restaurant in these islands. Denis has gone on to be the best selling author of two Café Paradiso cookbooks. A few streets away on Oliver Plunkett Street, Seamus O’Connell bounced onto Cork’s gastro scene when he opened his eclectic restaurant Ivory Tower, still a magnet for the adventurous gourmet, Seamus’s television series has been a terrific success and has done much to focus people’s attention on local food and artisan producers.
Back to the Cork Market - in 1993 a renaissance was taking place there also. Isabelle Sheridan (nee Boquet ), originally from the Loire Valley in France, started to make gorgeous coarse textured pate de campagne and rillettes, out of desperation when there were none to be found in the local shops or ‘charcuterie’. Friends loved them and begged for more, soon there were requests to purchase and so inevitably she began what has now developed into a French deli of sorts, selling glorious French cheeses, charcuterie, quiches, preserves, pickles and tarts, as well as Declan Ryan’s deliciously crusty Arbutus yeast and sourdough breads.
Just around the corner, close to the fish market, Sean Calder-Potts and Josephine Kennedy moved into what seemed initially a huge stall. They set out to be a sandwich bar along the lines of "Pret a Manger" in London. The stall was very big so in an effort to fill the stall, they displayed the sandwich ingredients to sell as well. Demand grew and grew for farmhouse and artisan cheeses so eventually they began to sell cheese, they closed the coffee and sandwich bar (despite having been awarded a star by the Bridgestone Guide for the best sandwiches in the country.) Cheese is still the biggest part of the business. They have two sheet-pasta machines which supply their customers and restaurants with Genovese style rolled pasta made with durum semolina and fresh free-range eggs. Their new premises at the Pier Head in Blackrock, Cork has a laboratoire designed by consultants from CEPROC in Paris. Head Chef Annette Fitzgerald (ex Ballymaloe) oversees the production of all the cooked & prepared food which is sold in the tiny Blackrock shop as well as in the stall in the English Market. It is something akin to a French Traiteur but with a definite Irish accent. Sean says “Our customers come from all over Ireland and the diaspora. Our most valued customers are the local people we see daily and weekly. Ordinary people wanting ordinary food. We believe that these people make up less than one tenth of one percent of the population. Maybe they are extraordinary people for wanting ordinary food?”
So this year is the 10th anniversary celebration of all these businesses whose entrepreneurial owners have made such a valuable contribution to the Cork food scene and to the lives of those of us who really care about the quality of our food – I for one am truly grateful.
On Saturday 6th September every customer who shops at Iago both in the Market and at their Blackrock shop will be given a ticket for an exciting draw. First prize will be a huge hamper worth over E250 and there will be lots of other prizes and I am delighted to donate a prize of two afternoon cookery demonstrations and lunch for two at the Ballymaloe Cookery School.
The Cork Market, is situated just off Patrick Street, open every day except Sunday from 9-5.30. Visitors to Cork shouldn’t miss this unique market, the only one of its type in the entire country. Well worth the effort, even when one has to negotiate the current road works on Patrick Street.
Iago, Cork Market (021- 4277047)and The Pier Head, Blackrock, Cork (021-4358870)
Café Paradiso, 16 Lancaster Quay, Western Road, Cork. (021-4277939)
Ivory Tower, Exchange Buildings, corner Princes St./Oliver Plunkett St. (021-4274665)
On the Pigs Back, Cork Market, (021-4270232)
Real Olive Co. Cork Market (021-4270842)
Meat & Vegetable Lasagne
Annette Fitzgerald from IAGO shared her delicious lasagne recipe with us.
50g Smoked Pancetta finely chopped,
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 kilo minced beefsteak
3 tablespoons tomato puree
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 cup full bodied red wine
2 cups tinned tomato
2 red peppers, roasted, peeled & cut in quarters
2 courgettes roasted in 1/4 inch slices
2 aubergines roasted in 1/4 inch slices
A slice of carrot, a slice of onion, a sprig of rosemary, sage, salt & pepper to taste. Roux to thicken.
Brown pancetta in saucepan with butter & olive oil. Add chopped onion, carrot & celery and sauté over medium heat.
When vegetables have browned, add the minced steak and brown. Add red wine and cook until it evapourates. Add tomato purée, seasoning, mustard & garlic and finally add the tomatoes.
Simmer until the beef is cooked, then adjust the seasoning.
Mix ragu with one cup of bechamel sauce. Put a layer of the mixture on the base of the lasagne dish and cover with a layer of pasta. (If you use fresh pasta there is no need to pre-cook it.) Spread another layer of ragu then another layer of pasta sheets and so-on until you have three layers of ragu and three layers of pasta sheets.
Add a layer of roasted vegetables, Another layer of pasta, another layer of ragu covered with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170 c for about 30 minutes or until a nice golden brown on top.
Café Paradiso’s Roasted Aubergine Wraps of Pinenuts, Spinach and Coolea Cheese
From ‘Paradiso Seasons’ by Denis Cotter, published by Cork University Press.
Denis Cotter usually serves these with a tomato-based sauce, such as hot cherry tomato salsa, sundried tomato pesto, a tomato-balsamic sauce, and some grounding, earthy foods, such as grilled polenta and lentils or potatoes, or even a simple risotto.
200g mature Coolea cheese, Gruyere or Gouda
Trim the aubergines lengthways along two sides, then cut them into slices of about lcm thick - you should get five or six from a medium-sized aubergine, and you will need at least three for each portion and a few spares to allow for burnings, accidents and sheer greed. Brush the slices on both sides with olive oil and roast them in a hot oven until soft and browned, about ten minutes. A fan oven should cook both sides at the same time, but you will need to turn the slices over if you are using an oven without a fan.
Cook the spinach by dropping it into boiling water for a minute or so, cool it in cold water and squeeze all the water from it. Chop it well. Toast the pinenuts very lightly in the oven, then either add them whole to the spinach or crush them a little first. Don't grind them, just break them up a bit with a few taps of a heavy object! Add in some chopped or torn leaves of basil, season well and flavour with a strong olive oil, either a fruity or a peppery one.
Use a vegetable peeler to shave slices of the cheese and break these into lengths half as long as the aubergine slices.
Place a neat mound of the spinach & pinenuts on the wider half of each aubergine slice and top it with three or four layers of cheese, then fold over the other half and press it gently. Finish all the slices and line them up on baking parchment on an oven tray. When you are ready to serve, bake the wraps in a hot oven until the cheese is at a softly melting stage, and serve them straight away.
Tripe and Onions
This recipe was given to me by Michael Ryan of Isaacs Restaurant in Cork, this was how his father cooked tripe and onions.
1 lb (450g) tripe
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
salt and freshly ground pepper
cold milk - sufficient to cover
Put the tripe into a saucepan, with the lid on, place on gas ring for 8-10 minutes approx.
Discard the liquor in the pot, add the sliced onion and cover with cold milk. Simmer gently for 1 hour approx. until the tripe is tender. Strain off the milk, thicken with roux, season with salt and pepper. Strain the back into the saucepan with the tripe, heat through. Check seasoning, it will take quite a bit of pepper.
Serve on a slice of buttered white bread.
Tripe and Drisheen
After adding the thickened liquor back to the saucepan, you could if you wish add some drisheen to the tripe - peel and slice some cooked drisheen, add it to the saucepan and heat through before serving.
You might like to try this method of cooking carrots. Admittedly it takes a little vigilance but the resulting flavour is a revelation to many people.
Buy unwashed carrots, they keep longer and have a much better flavour.
1 lb (450g) carrots, Early Nantes and Autumn King have particularly good flavour
½ oz (15g) butter
4 fl ozs (100ml) cold water
Pinch of salt
A good pinch of sugar
Freshly chopped parsley or fresh mint
Cut off the tops and tips, scrub and peel thinly if necessary. Cut into slices 1/3 inch (7mm) thick, either straight across or at an angle. Leave very young carrots whole. Put them in a saucepan with butter, water, salt and sugar. Bring to the boil, cover and cook over a gentle heat until tender, by which time the liquid should have all been absorbed into the carrots, but if not remove the lid and increase the heat until all the water has evaporated. Taste and correct the seasoning. Shake the saucepan so the carrots become coated with the buttery glaze.
Serve in a hot vegetable dish sprinkled with chopped parsley or mint.
The first Mitchelstown Food Fair appeared to be a resounding success, six thousand people turned up on a blistering hot Sunday when when one would have expected folk to head for the beach in their droves. Yet another indication of the growing demand and deep craving for local food and artisan food products. For a list of the 40 food producers who displayed their wares visit the Ballymaloe Cookery School website www.cookingisfun.ie
Irish Lingonberries I was very excited to discover that Derryvilla Farms are now growing a small area of lingonberries in Co Offaly. These berries native to Northern Scandinavian countries make a truly delicious sauce and a fantastic ice-cream. Derryvilla Farm blueberries are in the shops now too, don’t miss them. For details of your nearest outlet contact Nuala O’Donoghue – email@example.com Tel 0502-43945 /42882, Tel. 087-2466643, Derryvilla Blueberry Farm, Derryvilla, Portarlington, Co Offaly.
Coming up soon at Ballymaloe Cookery School - Saturday 20th September – 1 day Foraging Course with Darina Allen –
Darina is an enthusiastic collector of foods that grow wild in the Irish countryside – natural treasures that taste superb – join her for the thrill of the hunt and learn how to use the spoils to best advantage – jams, jellies, soups and salads and much more including sloe gin!