Wednesday, March 16, 2011


The Best of Inishowen, and Ireland

So what started out as a few bloggers going to visit Harry's restaurant, became about 60 foodies, producers, farmers and chefs descending on the Inishowen Peninsula. It was a packed 2 days (it would have been 3 had the weather not failed us!) Filled with demos, tastings, lunches, dinners, coffees, drinks and the tasting of fresh blood!

The man that no one will argue was the driving force behind the weekend was Donal Doherty of Harry's restaurant. He made everyone equally welcome and seemed justifiably excited in the shared enthusiasm of everyone there for this ethos and ideas of how we should eat.

The atmosphere and tone of the weekend was unbridled enthusiasm and positivity,  which in recent times is like a refreshing jump in the cold Atlantic - yeouch! The occasion made you feel like you would look back at this weekend in the years to come and say - yes I was there! The simple and very straight forward fact is that we have such a rich and fantastic island here - we should eat as much that comes from it's soils for a multitude of reasons. Supporting our farmers, keeping money on our shores, keeping carbon emissions down, freshness, this list could go on and on. Donal used the term locavorism, a term he really takes seriously in the running of his restaurant, using meat and produce from his closest neighbors.

On a more personal level, recently I have become slightly disillusioned with the blog. A point that arrives in each bloggers life where you think "Do you know what I don't think anyone reads this?" A little down at heel I got myself all the way up to Donegal. Now re-inspired by a wealth of local producers and farmers, who all seemed keen and interested in the bloggers and the work that we do. Donal during his introduction to the walled garden community project, he said that bloggers were responsible for spreading the word. The weekend told me no don't give up, what you do is important to people outside the blogging community.

Now to do a quick pictorial run through of the weekend - get ready to drool!

Darren Bradley - very generously invited us all into his back yard where he has built his own pizza oven. With the help of his neighbor they fired out the pizza for several hours, while we all enjoyed a beer. My favorite slice was of goats cheese, carmelised onions, rosemary and truffle oil pizza.

Men of the moment - Donal of Harry's and Darren Bradley - self named Pizza Guy
After a quick welcome speech from the lovely Kirsten and Caroline of the Irish Food Bloggers Association and the blogs Dinner Du Jour and Bibliocook. It was the turn of Colin & Seanin from L. Mulligans Grocer in Stoneybatter. He introduced 3 Irish brewed and produced beers. Dungarvan Brewery's Helwick Gold, a lovely crisp beer ideal for serving with fish and chicken. A second beer that escapes me now. Thirdly was Dark Arts from Trouble Brewing Company, a truly beautiful porter, it maybe in the running for my new favourite beer.
Colin from L Mulligans Grocer loves his beer

Then it was away down a candle lit drive to Linsfort Castle B&B for storytelling and songs. A great range of stories told from Inishowen natives. The highlight of which had to be Bertie (88?) a true performer and he made me cry.

In the room next door a stew was bubbling on the stove, of venison and Dexter beef, prepared by Raymond Moran the head Chef at Harry's. It was truly tasty. In the following room a table was groaning under a weigh of cakes and a wheel of the creamy goodness that is Durrus cheese and Glebe Brethan cheese too.

Off to bed, breakfast the next morning was prepared by the welcoming Mary at Westbrook B&B.

The day at Harry's was kicked off by the lovely Juan of Coffee Angel, he was using Bailies Coffee Beans in a multitude of different ways to produce a range of coffees. 

Harrys' own butcher butchers one quarter of beef every week, so when it's gone it's off the menu! They have their own hanging room where they hang all their meat. Surprisingly little waste as seen here in this bin!
Then it was over the the enigmatic Ed Hick to demonstrate Pork Curing. We all got stuck in and I have alovely piece curing away in my fridge. I also got talking to the pigs producer of Wishing Well Farm, who told me this was his first pig. I'll be reporting back on my piece when it's ready to go.

Fluffy Blood
Pudding Ingredients
Ed Hick gets down to business
Jack Mc Carthy - you can't hide behind that pudding!
Theatrical Shots of the Puddings
McCarthy of Kanturk Award Winning Pudding
The Happy Butchers!
Lunch was slow cooked the brisket, rib, pot roast & shoulder from Marshall farms very first dexter  5mins from Harry's
After lunch we were treated to  raw milk latte, which was Divine. Then it was onto butter making with Imen from I married an Irish farmer. Great demo and so easy to do - you just need some good elbow grease. I think I've learnt the secret to Imens great photos - it's all her  pretty accessories! 
Then a tour of the walled garden that Donal along with the help of are setting up as a community garden. 
Pretty Lichen is bad for the fruit trees
A Man with a Vision!
Whippet on the Wall
Curious Horsie
Then home for a quick change of clothes and onto what I can pretty safely call the best meal of my life. Not only because of the quality of the food, cooking and ingredients, but the build up started that morning at Harry's when we got to talk to and meet the producers and farmers, that passion really came through in the food that night.
Selection of pates and toasted brioche
Butter we made earlier
Breaded Langoustine, Salt Cod and Greencastle Scampi
Pollack with Thai Spices, seaweed crisp and
sweet pepper sauce
Beef Shin Ravioli with horseradish Sauce on wild garlic
Venison Carpaccio, Mc Carthys pistahio, mint and chocolate black
pudding &  Venison Confit with Hazelnut Crust
Football Special Panna Cotta, Buttermilk Ice-cream
& deconstructed cheesecake with Yeats Country
Cream Cheese  
The only thing left to do is thank everyone from my fellow bloggers to the farmers and producers who all gave so generously of their time. Thanks to the lovely Joanna of Smorgasblog for the lift. To Catherine at the Runcible Spoon and the hilarious Aoife of I Can Has Cook for their good company. A big thank you to Caroline and Kirstin of the IFBA. An finally the man who I've mentioned about 20 times in the post - Donal Doherty for sharing his passion and showing us how things can be done when you really believe in the quality of our amazing local produce! 


Gráinne - Uplifting Food said...

Love your blog, keep it up, I had that moment of doubt about mine a few weeks ago too, think everyone has that moment of 'is anyone reading this?'.

Yeats Country Foods said...

Great post! I just wanted to agree with what Donal said during the weekend - its thanks to bloggers and great writers like those at #Inishfood who help raise awareness and support for local producers like ourselves and our Yeats Country Soft Cheese. To get a thumbs up from real food lovers means so much so I say keep up the great blogs and thank you for the mention! It is greatly greatly appreciated.

Catherine said...

Brilliant recap of the weekend, Lucy (I wanted to take that lovely whippet home with me!)

And please do keep the blog up, have loved reading your Cooks Academy posts and can't wait to read what's next x

SJ said...

Lucy DO NOT stop blogging .. seriously you're fantastic at it! The weekend looks and sounds amazing. We need more enthusiastic people like yourself who love local and buy local and create amazing meals.. recessions are the times of great change & great change is needed in the attitude of people in this country where food, nutrition and cooking are concerned!
Can't wait to see what comes next!!

Abu said...

I love your blog but I very rarely comment...Uh Oh bad blog reader!
But please do keep it up, I love all your posts, I order from fruitfellas because of you and have been inspired by your blog so many times,I owe you a big huge thank you for that!

Kristin said...

This is a wonderful recap of a wonderful weekend - made possible because of bloggers like you! I think we all go through the peaks and troughs of blogging and wonder whether it's worth all the effort from time to time. So glad to hear that Inishfood inspired you to get back in the fray! x

Lu said...

Hey Guys thanks for that kind words and support - my blog is my baby I could never give it up!

Lu said...

Hi Abu - thanks for the comment and thanks, much appreciated. Glad you enjoy the blog, I don't think I'll be giving up anytime soon!

Lu said...

Kirstin - thank you for doing the organising!

Hopeful Angel said...

Saw the link to your blog through Twitter. - Fantastic report on Inishfood - wowuld love to have been there. Great photo's too. Keep up the blogging! :)

Unknown said...

Wow! That weekend looks amazing! I am hungry after reading that haha

@donalharrys said...

Lucy, i posted your blog up on Harrys FB with the following intro...

The blogs keep rolling in, and each gives us such a lift when we see & hear Inishowen, Harry's & our local food campaign being talked about so positively. Many more have become "local food soldiers" thx to you bloggers. Thanks for sharing this one Lucy & especially for making the trip up to us! & keep it up!

Ross Kane said...

What a fantastic blog post! A great weekend beautifully captured in eloquent words and amazing photos really conveys the collective excitement that was the essence of the whole weekend
(and carries on after it!)

Never mind years to come, I'm already thinking 'I was there'!

Clare - An American in Ireland said...

Awesome post - those pizzas look absolutely DIVINE! I want I want!! Glad to hear you are re-energised about the blog, I can relate! Sometimes it just needs a little inspiration. Glad to hear you'll be sticking to it, I really enjoy your writing.

Aoife Mc said...

Great post Lucy, the pics are fab. Thanks again for being such great company over the weekend. Can't wait for the next roadtrip!

Unknown said...

Great blog, really summed up a great festival of food, I was buzzing as it was my tamworth on the table and I would love to hear your reviews as I am inspired to go out and get myself a sow and begin breeding. For years I have felt disillusioned with farming but with the farm to fork approach and being in contact directly with the consumer has really inspired me. Whether it be road to hell or the road to paradise, it's the road i'm taking. You can send me your opinions to said...

Great blog, really summed up a great festival of food, I was buzzing as it was my tamworth on the table and I would love to hear your reviews as I am inspired to go out and get myself a sow and begin breeding. For years I have felt disillusioned with farming but with the farm to fork approach and being in contact directly with the consumer has really inspired me. Whether it be road to hell or the road to paradise, it's the road i'm taking. You can send me your opinions to

Lu said...

Hopeful Angel - thanks for stopping by, I am pretty happy with the photos
Sinead - it was quite the weekend of eating alright, great fun
Donal - Thank you!! was great to meet you
Ross Kane - thank you for the most delicous coffee of my life - get the raw milk into coffee angel!
Claire - the pizzas were amazing, sorry you missed them
Aoife - we had a good car full alright - see you soon
Tremone - was lovely to meet you - been turning my piece of bacon every day - it smells great, will be sure and let you know how it comes out. Keep up the good work, better find a recipe to do your first tamworth justice. Buying and selling direct (more direct) can only build confidence on both sides

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