A Taste of Wexford


Recently, I had many delicious ‘tastes’ of Wexford. I just love the way one county after another around the country is beginning to proudly highlight and showcase its local artisan foods.
Recently the Irish Guild of Food Writers, of whom I am a member, visited Wexford for an action packed day of visits to artisan producers around the Gorey area.
We started at Wild About, a company who creates magic with wild and foraged foods. Fiona Falconer and her husband Malcolm showed us round their wild, permaculture gardens and tunnel where they purposely grow crops of young nettles, fennel and other wild plants to make an extensive range of sparkling drinks, syrups, jellies, and chutney, all delicious but I particularly want to mention just one – a Nettle syrup full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  Customers come from far and wide to seek out this nettle syrup which they firmly believe helps to alleviate arthritis. No official health claims but people buy it by the case, there must be something in it!
We had a tasting of the range accompanied by velvety Meadow Field goat’s cheese, and Isle of Crackers also from the local area.
Just down the road. We were surprised to find ourselves in Jodi‘s donkey sanctuary, but we discovered that the donkeys whom she tenderly cares for,  love the leftover nettles – another riff on recycling waste products.
Lunch, created by Anthony O’ Toole, one of the dynamos behind the Taste Wexford initiative was at Salt Rock Dairy…love this concept also, Catherine Kinsella sells the milk from their herd of Holstein cross dairy cows directly to local people in recyclable glass bottles from her travelling vending machine.
Catherine has no wish to expand further. She simply wants to limit the food miles but plans to extend her range from fresh and flavoured milks to homemade yoghurt and butter.
Next, it was on to Tara Hill Honey, where Anne and Michael Wilde’s bees produce a range of honeys. We all dressed up in bee suits to visit the hives and hear a fascinating talk about beekeeping in the sunny southeast region from these multigenerational beekeepers.
I came home with several pots including a raw Heather honey and some beeswax candles.
Our ‘almost’ last stop of the afternoon was at Bean and Goose chocolates. Sisters, Karen and Natalie, work with Original Beans to source their fine couverture, a company, just as passionate as they are, about ethical and sustainable choices. They make a wide range of bars, inspired by the Irish landscape. Gorse, Toasted Soda Bread, Umami Seaweed, Smoky Sea Salt, Salty Almonds, Sour Cherry Orchard. They too have received many awards.
What a day – then back to the Ashdown Park Hotel in Gorey where MD, Paul Finegan was waiting with a taste of Jackford Irish Potato Gin with Poachers tonic and a taste of beautifully reared and matured beef from the Stafford’s home farm.
Feet up for a short interlude before dinner at Table Forty One where Chef Andrew Duncan once again did Wexford proud with a tasting menu of local foods. I particularly enjoyed the buffalo carpaccio with mount leinster raw milk cheddar, pickled baby carrots, basil aioli and hazelnuts – who knew…buffalo in Wexford.
The evening was further enhanced by many of the artisan producers who joined us for dinner as well as Lorraine O’Dwyer from Gallivanting Tours, our tour guide for the day and organiser extraordinaire, Anthony O’Toole. You too can have this experience because many of the producers arrange food tours which can be booked through gallivanting.ie

Chad Robertson’s Nettle Fritatine

Famous San Francisco baker Chad Robertson introduced us to this recipe when he taught a class here several years ago.  Look out for his book ‘Tartine Bread’ published by Chronicle Books

Serves 1-2

3 tbsp olive oil

225g approx. young nettle leaves

croutons (see recipe) made from 3 slices sourdough, crushed to make coarse breadcrumbs

1 large egg

350g homemade tomato sauce

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 lemon wedge

Heat a heavy skillet over a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. When the oil is hot but not yet smoking, add the nettle leaves. Remove the pan from the heat and stir and toss the nettles for about 2 minutes as they continue cooking. When the nettles are completely wilted, remove them from the pan and chop roughly.

In a bowl, combine the nettles, coarse crumbs and egg. Stir well to coat the crumbs and nettles with the egg.

Heat a 15cm skillet over a medium heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the nettle mixture and distribute evenly in the pan. Cook until the edges appear crisp, about 2 minutes. Fold the omelette in half and cook for 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate.

Pour the tomato sauce into a skillet and heat over high heat. Carefully place the omelette in the sauce and simmer for about 30 seconds. Serve with a squeeze of lemon.


3 slices day-old sourdough bread, each 2.5cm thick torn into 4cm chunks

2 tbsp olive oil


Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.

In a bowl, toss the torn bread with the olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spread the bread evenly on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes. Midway through the baking time, redistribute the croutons if they are colouring unevenly.

Breadcrumbs – use your hands or a rolling pin to crush the croutons to the desired consistency. For a superfine texture, sift the crumbs through a sieve.

Courgette Flower, Meadow Field Goat’s Cheese and Local Honey

A delicious little starter combining good cheese, local honey and the last of the courgette flowers.

Serves 2

4 courgette flowers

250g Meadow Field goat’s cheese (or other good quality goat’s/sheep cheese)

2 tsp local honey

Tempura Batter

200g rice flour

20g corn flour

1 tsp baking powder

cold sparkling water

First make the tempura batter.

Mix the dry ingredients with a little water, it should be a thickish consistency (can be used immediately).

Dip the courgette flowers in boiling water for a couple of seconds to soften – dry on a tea towel.  Crumble the cheese and half fill each courgette flower.  Seal the ends.  Place the courgette flowers into seasoned flour, then dip into the tempura batter.  Deep-fry at 190°C for 1 minute.  Drizzle with honey and serve.

Andrew Duncan’s Macamore Buffalo Carpaccio, Mount Leinster Raw Milk Cheddar, Pickled Baby Carrots, Basil Aioli, Hazelnuts

Special thanks to Andrew Duncan from Table Forty One Restaurant, Main Street in Gorey who shared this recipe – tablefortyone.ie  

Serves 6  

Buffalo Carpaccio

300g centre cut of buffalo fillet, from macamorebuffalo.ie

5g fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped

5g fennel seeds

5g ground ginger

5g ground nutmeg

5g ground cloves

10g ground white pepper

5g ground coriander

5g ground cinnamon
20g caster sugar
10g Achill Island sea salt

Mix all the dry cure ingredients; this should be a dry, sandy texture.

Rub the dry cure onto the buffalo fillet, making sure to coat it evenly.

Place on a tray, cover in clingfilm, and leave in the fridge for 6 hours; turn once and leave for another 6 hours.

Remove the fillet from the tray and place on some kitchen paper. There should be some liquid in the bottom of the tray. This is normal as the sugar and salt draw moisture from the fillet.

With some kitchen paper or a clean towel, dry off any excess moisture from the fillet.

Place a double layer of clingfilm onto your counter and place the fillet in the middle.

Roll as tightly as possible in clingfilm and twist both ends of the film to make a cylinder shape. Return to the fridge for 2 hours, allowing the fillet to rest and be easier to slice. 

Slice as thinly as possible using a very sharp knife. A handy tip to aid slicing is to place your fillet in the freezer for 20-30 minutes before slicing.

Pickled Baby Carrots 

10 baby carrots, peeled, leaving the green top on them
100ml white wine vinegar
100ml water
100ml granulated sugar
pinch of sea salt 
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 shallot, peeled and sliced

1 sprig of fresh thyme 

Slice the carrots in half lengthways and place them into a medium-sized bowl.

Bring the rest of the ingredients to the boil in a medium-sized saucepan, making sure to dissolve all the sugar.

Pour the hot pickling liquid over the carrots and allow them to cool.

Basil Aioli 
¼ clove of garlic, finely chopped into a paste

2 egg yolks, organic or free-range eggs are best
1 tsp Dijon mustard
300ml Irish extra-virgin rapeseed oil. I use a local brand called Wild About.

50g fresh basil leaves
½ unwaxed lemon, zest only

pinch of Achill Island sea salt

Place the garlic paste, egg yolk and mustard into a blender. Turn the blender on a low setting and slowly dribble in the oil.

Once blended in a quarter of the oil and you see the mixture is thick and emulsified, you can increase the speed and add the rest in larger amounts.

Blend in the fresh basil leaves and lemon zest.

Season to taste with sea salt.

To Serve

Place five slices of thin Buffalo onto the centre of the plate, making a petal shape by layering one over the other at the edges.

Dot the aioli randomly over the Buffalo. Place five pieces of baby carrots on top.

Using a vegetable peeler, shave your Mount Leinster cheddar over the plate, 6-7 slices approx.

Scatter over some chopped hazelnuts.

The plate should look rustic and flat on the plate. I like to garnish this dish with some micro cress and a bit of smoked Achill Island sea salt for a special touch.

Andrew Duncan’s Lemon Posset, Green’s Berry Farm Raspberries, Buttery Shortbread Biscuit
From Table Forty One in Gorey, Co. Wexford.

Lemon Posset

Makes 6 small glasses or ramekins

450ml cream
65g caster sugar
juice of 2 unwaxed lemons, strained

Slowly heat your cream and sugar in a medium-sized pot.

Add the strained lemon juice once it starts to simmer (little bubbles will appear on top).

Leave to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure not to boil.

Pour mixture into glasses or ramekins and set in the fridge to chill for at least 3-4 hours. It’s best to make it the night before.

Shortbread Biscuit

Makes 12 biscuits

125g salted butter, soft
1 vanilla pod, seeds removed – you can use one teaspoon of vanilla extract/paste instead.

50g icing sugar

20g egg white
155g plain flour

pinch of salt

Whisk your soft butter, vanilla seeds and icing sugar together in a food mixer until white and fluffy.

Add the egg white and mix thoroughly. Then, slowly add your flour and salt until all ingredients are mixed well.

Transfer the mixture to a piping bag with a medium-sized star nozzle and pipe onto a tray with greaseproof paper to your desired biscuit size. 

Preheat the oven to 170°C/Gas Mark 3 and bake until light golden, approx. 15-20 minutes.

Garnish with fresh raspberries. I buy them from a local grower near me, Green’s Berry Farm in Gorey.

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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