Cooking

Where the Oatmeal comes from

Years and years of eating porridge and flapjacks, of collecting tokens from the packets, and only now I visit the source of all this delicious oatmeal. It dawned on me that many of the farmers on the east coast of Ireland were growing oats for the factory.

It took a visit to the Waterford Greenway, linking Waterford

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to Dungarven on a 48km stretch of disused railway for me to make the connection between my breakfast , the mill and the crop grown to make it.

Sitting in the Coach House cafe near Kilmacthomas, I felt I had to walk at least some of it if I was to get bragging rights for having been on the Grenway.

So I walked the 1 km to Kilmacthomas village. Signs for the Mill but no actual sighting. Reillys traditional butchers where you can see them making sausages. No card machine-I was nearly checking to see that they had switched to the decimal system. Had to buy some wagon wheels eventhough they were made for children. A round of sausage meat with an circle of black pudding in the middle and finished off with pastry trimming as the wheel rim. I baked one later in the oven and they were a real treat.

But back to KIlmacthomas and the Oatmeal. I wandered down the hill to the river. I was able to get back to the greemway by walking up to the Kilmacthomas viaduct. Enormous arches holdung up the now disused railway line.

Up here I could look beyond the village. There in all its industrial magnificence was the Flahavans oat mill. I looked below and saw the river. Duh! Mill – has a millrace. Seems obvious but of course it would have originally been powered by water.

It is a beautiful setting and looking over my other shoulder, I could see the village. I had an ‘Under Mildwood’ moment when I observed the comings and goings of the place from a distance.

It was a revelation to me that my chilhood bowls of porridge had come from here. I would say there is not a child in Ireland who has not sat dejected in front of a bowl of porridge and been told not to leave the table until its finished. The misery of seeing snakes coiling in the bowl while anothe bite is forced down. This food has become aclaimed for its low glycaemic index in latter years and it has enjoyed a revival unparalled by any other food except maybe avocadoes.

And still it comes from a mill on a river in a splendid corner of our beautiful country.

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Break my heart at Breakfast

Apricot jam -v Marmalade

unopened jar of Apricot Jam bought by mistake

Did you ever cut open a brown scone, butter it and reach for the marmalade only to find the orange spread you ladle on is Apricot jam masquerading as marmalade?

The illogical anger as your taste buds struggle and yearn for the zest and buzz of marmalade is matched only by the disappointment that your breakfast on your breakaway has been partially spoiled. The anticipation of the perfect breakfast scone has been unfulfilled and you look around for someone to blame.

How could anyone think the bland smoothness of apricot would fool me? Who actually made the decision to substitute the real thing with an inadequate replacement. Better by far to say ‘We do not have marmalade’ than to lead one down or up the garden path and lull one into a false sense of consumable confiture.

It is actually not jam at all  or jelly as they call it in the US.  The real thing was sliced in a manual slicer attached vice like to the kitchen table  Seville oranges came in once a year and the annual ritual would rotate between the Rayburn where the slices would bob around in the preserving pan, pounds of sugar added until it was decanted into sterilised Jam jars  and oh the smell!

In times of need when the real thing was all eaten, mother would make it out of a tin .  Delicious !  Only when all else failed did we buy a pot of marmalade.

The sausages are eaten, the second cup of coffee is poured but its all gone up in a puff of smoke.

Is it worth talking to the waitress? Will this only serve to fuel the anger, underlining the unfortunate start to the day.

Or does one just bottle it up and buy ones one jar of the real stuff at the local shop.

Did you not know that ‘I was a morning grouch – until I discovered Little Chip marmalade ‘. One of the best pieces of advertising ever.

So remember- serving Apricot Jam can be responsible for morning grouches all over the world.

Gooey Chocolate Cakes

Nigella says ‘before you even take off your coat break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a bowl over hot water’. image

Her writing adds excitement  to the recipe and gives you a story to visualise when you make these cakes.

I found the recipe in ‘How to Eat’ by Ms Lawson and I have been making it since Andrew was seven. He makes them more than I do now, impressing his friends by treating them to an indulgent treat. They have been made in an assortment of mugs over the years when we could not get a set of ramekins together. So the Tom& Jerry mug , the charity mug from the cathedral fundraiser and the one stolen from the Europa hotel have all had chocolate dripping down their sides obscuring the lettering with a crusty layer of deliciousness.

My father loved Nigella so much with her uninhibited sensuality as she described tastes and indulged her passion for food. She has such a gift for communicating pleasure! Even the name for these cakes describes exactly what they are in down to earth language.

Thank you Nigella for reaching three generations of my family in such a positive way!

Vegetarian Paradise

Cafe Paradiso is the most aptly named restaurant in Ireland.

It takes you to a world of fresh food cooked with care and expertise. It introduces your taste buds to stimulating flavours and your eyes to natural colours of bright greens , reds and orange.

Using a base such as haloumi or coucous, the dish is built up with beluga lentils or surrounded with chick peas

Hazelnut gougeres were divine as nutty starters – balls of delicate flavour to mop up the delicious sauce.

Lyndas buffalo mozzarella was delicate and refreshing with a clear taste. We both admitted to having thought buffalo referred to the size of the cheese,not the fact that it actually came from real buffalos near Macroom County Cork. Lynda never thought that there had of course to be female buffalo!

We loved the delicious thin crackers with seeds in top that were placed in the middle of the table. The waitress kindly jotted down the recipe and we will both produce our version and see who produces the better cracker.

The service was excellent and the restaurant was full from 5.45 pm.

Great value.  €102 between us including the bottle of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

We finished the night in the Bodhran on Oliver Plunkett Street – which we were informed by a barman in the Imperial is “the best street in Europe”. Who were we to argue? There are not many pubs in this country where you would walk in to hear Lou Reed followed by a mix of classic tracks from Blondie to , of course, Rory Gallagher

Nothing like a good dose of nostalgia!!

Cafe Paradiso certainly was not something that would have succeeded when I was growing up in Cork

its surely a sign of our growing appreciation of good foods and sustainability that it has such a huge reputation in Ireland and abroad .

As the big healthy man himself said- I’ll be back!