We were at a wonderfully convivial but unconventional wedding recently. The church service was utterly beautiful with music and readings and hauntingly beautiful hymns, but I’m not going to dwell on that because after all this is a food column.
The groom was one of Ireland’s most innovative young artisan food producers, the bride a brilliant fund manager from the ‘City’ in London. Both have a huge eclectic circle of friends. They grappled with the usual dilemma – where to draw the line on the guest list and the ultimate challenge of how to provide so many cherished relatives, neighbours, and colleagues with a delicious feast.
The groom is a stalwart of the Farmers Market movement, so they decided to invite many of their market friends to bring their beautiful produce so wedding guests could wander from stall to stall nibbling and tasting, filling and refilling their plates.
The event was held in Robert Putz’s pristine horse arena overlooking Dunmanus Bay. There were little posies of bluebells on the white linen covered tables, hunks of Gubbeen cheese made specially for the occasion, cheese biscuits and pots of relishes.
As guests arrived, pink and white fizz was served from Febvre’s white French Citroen van, Barry and Ian of The Alchemists Cocktails were whipping up cool Caipirinhas and pressed apple juice and elderflower Collins. The Sam Hudson Quartet played jazz as the guests filtered into the arena.
John Pettersen, a favourite at Schull Country Market was ladling out his homemade lemonade and John Gowan of Cork Coffee Roasters who specializes in small batch roasting was dispensing steaming shots of freshly brewed coffee.
A traditional saddleback pig specially reared for the wedding, stuffed with Clovisse’s herbs was cooking on the spit since the early hours, Barry Tyner was in charge of the Hog Roast. He cooked it for 7-8 hours over wood flames until the flesh was juicy and succulent and the crackling to die for.
Farmers Market stalls were set up all around the perimeter of the inside of the arena so guests could help themselves. We started with Stephen and Sarah Canty’s sushi with wasabi and pickled ginger. There was a selection of Gubbeen pates, terrines, salami, ham, tapas, oysters, mussels, lots of fat prawns in the shell, and great big bowls of organic salad leaves. Clovisse, the groom’s sister had grown all the organic greens and herbs in her beautiful Garden of Eden for the big bowl of salad.
Arun Kapil and the team from Green Saffron were ladling out delicious spicy rogan josh, chicken korma and red lentil dahl.
The Spanish tortilla de patatas were made from fresh Gubbeen eggs and came with a dollop of chipotle pepper salsa, this and the Paella were made by Stephen Canty to Giana Ferguson’s Andalucian family recipes,
The breads came from bakers Pagan and Jim Cruit from Ballydehob, who must have been baking all night to produce the huge basket of bread and little pigs for the guests.
Chris Hedges created the dessert, a Grand Marnier bavarois, with macerated oranges. He also baked the delicious chocolate genoise wedding cake. When it was safely enrobed in a thin coating of marzipan he passed it on to Lynn Wright who painted the most beautiful West Cork landscape on top, with Mount Gabriel clearly recognizable in the distance, so beautiful.
The groom had also made delicious homemade icecream for the occasion, guests argued about their favourites, pistachio, fresh mint, coconut, dulce de leche with mango or lemon sorbet. Of course there was lots of wonderful Irish farmhouse cheese and Gubbeen Oatcake biscuits.
When the jazz band slipped off to Ballydehob to play at the International Jazz Festival, The Glorified Jam took over, a band made up of some farmers, fishermen, market boys and their musical friends. The guests boogied and danced and nibbled into the wee hours and continued to enjoy the convivial slow food wedding.
The Farmers Market concept was an inspired way to entertain a large number of guests in an easygoing and truly delicious way.
Here are the contact details of some of the participants.
Stephen Canty, Food for Thought Tel 087-7528945 www.foodforthought.net
John Pettersen 086-0767970
Barry Rogerson The Alchemists Cocktails – 086 3423522
John Gowan, Cork Coffee Roasters 087-7766322 www.corkcoffee.com
Barry Tyner 087-6306761
Pagan & Jim Cruit 028-38961
Chris Hedges, Free-lance chef 086-8245984
Lynny Wright, ceramicist and artist 028-21889 firstname.lastname@example.org
Gubbeen Cheese and Cheese Oatcake Biscuits 028-28231 www.gubbeen.ie
Arun Kapil, Green Saffron 086-8331030
Clovisse’s Gubbeen Greens 086-3991415
Febvre & Co. Wine Merchants 01-2161400 www.febvre.ie
Peter Luke’s Paella Valenciana
Giana Ferguson shared her Dad’s recipe for his favourite paella.
1 chicken, preferably free range and organic, jointed, deboned and chopped
2 dozen mussels in their shells
1lb (450g) prawns in their shells
1lb (450g) squid
4-6 soft Spanish Chorizo
1 cup per 2 people of round Spanish rice
green and red peppers
Brown the chicken pieces and put aside. Clean, chop and lightly fry the squid, put aside with chicken.
Sweat onions and garlic with pepper, add the bay leaves and reserve.
Take one box of saffron and add to warm water and leave to infuse.
Fry the rice in the paella dish in olive oil until the oil is hot and the rice translucent and not quite browning.
In a proportion of approx. ⅔ cup of good stock to one cup of rice, flood the rice in the paella dish and add the saffron liquid – it is a bad idea to stir as the rice becomes glutinous so shake the paella to keep it from sticking and to help it absorb the stock.
Meanwhile sweat the mussels in white wine and shelling some, leave a few in their half shells as garnish.
The chorizo can be lightly fried at this time too (or done much earlier – keep some for tapas.)
Add the prawns (again leaving some with their coats and whiskers on for garnish)
Add the prawns, first, then the mussels which mustn’t overcook then as the rice swells with the absorbed stock, tomatoes in quarters, the chicken, chorizo and squid. Allow to heat thoroughly through while the rice absorbs the rest of the stock without becoming tight.
Season with generous amounts of pepper and salt (unless your stock is already salted) and garnish with the half mussels, the whiskery prawns, some loosely chopped flat parsley and a few nasturtium flowers – add a good few quartered lemons and serve hot in the paella – Salut.
Tortilla de Patatas
Tortilla de Patatas sounds deceptively simple but its not as easy to make to perfection as you might think.
8-9 eggs, free range and organic
14ozs (400g) diced potato (1.5cm)
6ozs (175g) diced onion
3fl oz (75ml) extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp salt and freshly ground pepper
The secret of success is to use enough oil. Put a generous (2.5cm) 1 inch of olive oil into a frying pan. Fry the potatoes and onions in the hot oil for about 5-7 minutes. Add the crushed garlic and cook until the potatoes are golden on the outside and soft in the middle. Drain off the excess oil from the potatoes.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl, add a teaspoon of salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the potato and onion mixture. Put 2 tablespoons of oil back into the pan, when it begins to sizzle pour in the egg mixture then lower the heat, when the egg begins to cook, loosen around the edge continue to cook shaking the pan occasionally. When the tortilla is well set and golden underneath, cover the pan with an oiled plate and turn it out, be careful not to burn your hand. Add a little more oil to the frying pan if necessary. Slide the tortilla back in cooked side uppermost. Cook until firm but still slightly moist in the centre. Serve hot or at room temperature cut into wedges.
Fingal and Ciara’s Wedding Cake
A Chocolate Genoese Sponge:
16 free range eggs
8 oz (225g) butter
1lb (450g) caster sugar
12oz (350g) plain flour, sieved
4 oz (110g) Green and Black’s or Fairtrade cocoa powder
8oz (225g) hazelnuts
8oz (225g) almonds
1lb (450g) castor sugar
Praline Butter Cream:
1lb (450g) butter
1lb (450g) caster sugar
5 fl.oz (150ml) water
Praline paste to taste (see recipe above)
2lb (900g) ground almonds
2lb (900g) caster sugar
2lb (900g) icing sugar
12 oz (350g) egg yolks, approx.
2fl.oz (50ml) brandy
Baking tray 16 inch x 20 inch, lined with silicone paper.
Preheat the oven to 375F/180C/gas 4.
To make the cake:
Sieve the flour and cocoa together with a pinch of salt.
Whisk eggs and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy and doubled in bulk, showing the signs of the whisk (ribbon stage).
Gently fold in the sieved flour and cocoa, and finally the melted butter.
Pour into the lined baking tray. Bake for approx. 30 minutes, it should feel firm to the touch.
When cooked turn out onto a cooling rack and remove the lining paper.
Make 2 of these ‘sheets’ of cake, using the above quantity for each.
To make the praline:
Carefully roast the nuts in a hot oven. If using nuts with skin on, rub skin off in a sieve.
Boil sugar with a small amount of water until it reaches the caramel stage.
Add the warm nuts and stir to coat in the caramel. Use a slightly oiled wooden spoon to flatten.
Grind two thirds of the mix to a paste. Chop the remaining into chunky pieces.
Use to add to butter cream.
To make the praline butter cream:
Put the sugar and water into a saucepan over a medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and continue to cook until it reaches 240F/115C (soft ball stage). Pour the hot syrup onto the well whisked egg. Continue to whisk until cool. Beat in the well creamed butter and praline paste to taste.
Fold in chopped praline to taste.
To make the almond paste:
Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl, add the egg and brandy and mix to a pliable paste.
To assemble the cake:
Place one sheet of sponge on a suitable board, ie. ½ inch/1cm plywood.
Spread buttercream over sponge and then place second sheet on top.
Roll out the almond paste into length to run down side of cake, dusting with ground almonds to prevent sticking to work top and rolling pin. Cut to size. Brush with heated apricot jam and attach to side of cake. Do this to all sides, finally roll out piece for the top. Brush heated jam on top of the cake. Place almond paste on top. Decorate as desired or ask Lynn Wright to paint a picture on top.
Orange and Grand Marnier Bavarois with Crystallised Orange Peel
This classic dessert can be made at least a day ahead. Christ Hedges served it with orange slices and Grand Marnier.
½ pint (300ml) milk
2 free-range eggs
1-2oz (25-50g) castor sugar
Vanilla pod or pure vanilla extract
Grated rind of 1 unwaxed orange and 2 tablespooons Grand Marnier
¼ oz/4 teaspoons gelatine dissolved in 4 tablespoons water (if you like it a bit more wobbly use 3 teaspoons of gelatine and 3 tablespoons water.
¼ pint (150ml) cream, softly whipped
To decorate: crystallised orange peel
1 pint (600ml) mould or 8 small moulds
Prepare the moulds by brushing evenly with sunflower oil and drain.
Infuse the vanilla pod and orange rind in the milk. Separate the eggs.
Cream the egg yolks and sugar, and pour the flavoured milk on to them. Return to the saucepan and cook over a gentle heat until the custard thickens.
Put 4 tablespoons of water in a little bowl, measure the gelatine carefully and sprinkle over the water. Leave to ´sponge´ for a few minutes until the gelatine has soaked up the water and feels spongy to the touch. Put the bowl into a saucepan of simmering water and allow the gelatine to dissolve completely. All the granules should be dissolved and it should look perfectly clear. Add the dissolved gelatine to the custard mixture and stir gently until mixed in. Strain and cool to setting point. Fold in Grand Marnier and the softly whipped cream.
Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Mix a little of the whites into the custard and then fold in the remainder carefully.
Pour into the prepared mould or moulds and allow to set.
Unmould onto a flat dish or individual serving plates and decorate with crystallised orange peel.
Crystallized Orange Peel
We always have lots of crystallized orange, lemon and lime peel in a jar to decorate tarts, scatter on mousses or just to nibble.
16 fl oz/450 ml cold water
Sugar syrup (see recipe)
Peel 2 oranges very thinly with a swivel top peeler, be careful not to include the white pith. Cut the strips into fine julienne. Put into a saucepan with the cold water and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain, refresh in cold water, cover with fresh water and repeat the process
Put the julienne into a saucepan with the syrup and cook gently until the lemon julienne looks translucent or opaque (10-15 mins approx.). Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to cool on bakewell paper or a cake rack. When cold toss in castor sugar and allow to dry in a cool airy place.
Can be stored in a jar or airtight tin for weeks or sometimes months.
Makes 28 fl.oz (825ml)
1lb (450g) sugar
1 pint (600ml) water
To make the sugar syrup: dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes then allow it to cool. Store in the fridge until needed.
Summer at Country Choice in Nenagh, on Friday 23rd May Languedoc Wine Barbecue Supper – guest Catherine Wallace, one of the best winemakers in the South of France where she and her husband make an amazing biodynamic and organic red wine on their farm in St Chinian. Evening starts at 8pm with new rosé tasting, followed by informal barbecue supper with tutored talk and tasting with Catherine. Pre-booking essential – email@example.com 087-7931113 or call Anne Marie 067-32596
Farmers Market at Castlehyde Courtyard, Fermoy on Sunday 25th May 12-4pm
– The Brothers of Charity Southern Services are hosting an Open Day – Alongside the market there will be childrens’ workshops, entertainment, jazz band and art exhibition – a true family day out for a worthy cause.
Slow Food Ireland in Association with Irish Natural Forestry Foundation presents The Slow Food Forest Feast ‘The Munch at the Manch’ to celebrate Bio Diversity Week –A great family day out not to be missed – there will be special workshops, competitions and games for children and teenagers with trained environmental teachers, knife making, hedge laying and basket making for the dads, guest chef cookery demonstrations, guided woodland walks, traditional crafts demonstrations, workshops and lots of music – a day of Slow Fun –in the wonderful setting of the 300 acres of the Manch Estate, Ballineen, Co Cork also on Sunday 25th May – noon to 6pm
Tickets €25 adults €12 children, available from Lynn @ INFF Tel 023-22823 or email
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Cookery Demonstration by Darina Allen at Garryvoe Hotel on Tuesday 27th May at 7.45pm in aid of Shanagarry Playground Fund. Pre-booking essential.
Tickets €25 available from Garryvoe Hotel, Mahon Point Shopping Centre (Customer Services), Ballymaloe Cookery School Shop, Brodericks Shanagarry, Stephen Pearce Gallery and Mark Doyle 087-6749503 , firstname.lastname@example.org Great spot prizes –100% of money raised will go to the playground fund.