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Day 2: JK Orienteering

Day 2 dawned bright and early in Llangors.  We headed early to the arena as the parking was supposed to be scarce.  We ended up parking approx. 2km from the arena.  There were cars as far as the eye could see.  Nigel commented that JK Rowling must have attended one of these massive orienteering events when she envisaged the Quidditch matches.  Cars and people seemingly in the middle of nowhere.

The Car parking

The Car parking

Due to various circumstances we headed to the start as we soon as we arrived, ending up with only minutes to go.  But at least we were warm.

My map seemed enormous in my hand, but I’ve learnt to fold it immediately so as not to scare myself with details of how far I have to go.

Map Day 2

Map Day 2

I started slow so as not to mis-navigate, and was delighted to find my number 1 quite easily.  And after that, I meandered my way through the heather, avoiding the pits and ponds.  It was really beautiful at the top, and I wished I’d had my camera.

I certainly didn’t come first. but didn’t come last either so it was a day well spent.  We finished the day with a shared meal with family, WATO and other orienteers popping in and out in the sunshine. Much discussion was had before during and after the meal.

Maps and more maps

Maps and more maps

And we do it all again tomorrow….

Day 1: JK 2014- Do not go gentle into that good night..

We arrived in Pembroke yesterday afternoon after a lovely flat calm crossing.  One of the other families had organised the accommodation this year, close by to where Robert had run in the JHI’s in 2013.

Our place of residence for the weekend is the Lakeside Caravan Park in Llangors.  The sprint was held in Swansea University. For over 2700 runners the organisation was excellent. The sun was shining, the finish was fast and there was plenty of discussion over route choices.

Robert at the Finish

Robert at the Finish

Our journey down to the sprint took us through the National Park of the Brecon Beacons.  A truly beautiful part of Wales that we have never visited.  Granted, the weather today would have softened the hardest of hearts, but everything does seem brighter on the sun!

Reservoir in the National Park

Reservoir in the National Park

Although we didn’t win any medals today, we certainly didn’t disgrace ourselves.  Tomorrow will definitely be a different story, until then adieu.  or hwyl fawr.

Some quotes in the University Restaurant

Some quotes in the University Restaurant

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

Tasting Menu at The Tannery

We love attending the West Waterford Festival of Food.  And for quite a few years we have been able to attend the guest chef night at The Tannery.  This year, as Nigel was away with work we did not get to this which was awfully disappointing, but it did mean we got to go to the night featuring the Tasting Menu with Paul Flynn on the Saturday night.

We were joined by Nigel’s brother and his lovely wife, Pam, who are both really into food too, so it made for a wonderful evening of chat and food.  The atmosphere upstairs in the Tannery lends itself to social interaction, the light and décor reflects the bubbly personalities of the staff and the owners.

Our first course of salami and house pickle started the show off with a taste bud bang.  Perfectly sliced and balanced, the pickle brought a sharpness that was both intense but not overpowering of the salami.

This was followed by Knockalara sheeps cheese, chicken wing and beetroot.  I passed on the walnuts, as I am not a fan.  This was just gorgeous.  The cheese was lovely and soft, and the chicken wing sweet and balanced with the beetroot.

Knockalara Sheeps Cheese , chicken wing and beetroot

Knockalara Sheeps Cheese , chicken wing and beetroot

Meanwhile of course, Nigel had persuaded his brother to partake in the local brew, while Pam and myself had the most beautiful white wine, the name of which I did not record, to my distress.

Kevin trying the Copper Coast Ale from the Dungarvan Brewing Company

Kevin trying the Copper Coast Ale from the Dungarvan Brewing Company

There was a perfect length of time between courses, not too long that we were wondering when it would arrive, and not too short that we felt we were being rushed.

I am a big fan of pasta, especially ravioli, the the Ham Hock and Rabbit Ravioli did not disappoint. The Garlic broth was so delicate, the texture of the turnip adding to the rounded flavours.

Ravioli of Ham Hock and Rabbit

Ravioli of Ham Hock and Rabbit

Next up was the fish course,

Monkfish Chop

Monkfish Chop

I had never had monkfish chop before, and for me it was more cooked than I would normally have had monkfish, but the bisque was such an amazing flavour that it married very well with the chop.

The short Rib of beef was so soft and flavourful that it made me want much more.  Although my eyes would definitely have been bigger than my tummy, and my lucky husband receive d a little extra from my plate.  Our eldest always says that Paul Flynn makes the best mashed potato on the planet, and I cannot disagree.  The parsley was also an addition to the flavour that completed the taste.

Shortib of Beef

Short rib of Beef

For dessert, my favourite course as you know, was a  blood orange pannacotta with  rhubarb, rose and pistachio.  The textures in this dish were what set it apart.

Blood Orange Pannacotta

Blood Orange Pannacotta

A lovely addition to the tasting menu was the Waterford Cheese plate, I would have loved to take a party bag of these cheeses and biscuits home, the Waterford Brie was especially worthy of a mention.  Unfortunately we dived into this course and the result is no picture.  I do hope that Paul puts the cracker recipes into a future book.

Petit Fours with tea and coffee finished the meal.  We fought over the salted ones.  Fought too hard actually, Nigel had to get another few to keep the piece.

Petit Fours

Petit Fours

Máire and Paul Flynn always entertain and introduce us to flavours that are bold and unique.  We loved our experience and were only sorry that we had not been there the night before also.  Next year, next year…..

My First Visit to the Copper Hen

My brother in law and his wife love The Copper Hen in Fenor.  For no particular reason Nigel and myself had never visited. So they made a reservation for last Saturday night.

The Copper Hen, Fenor, Co Waterford

The Copper Hen, Fenor, Co Waterford

The waitress that met us on arrival was truly a beacon of light! I meant to ask her name, but never got around to it, she was so lovely and upbeat, very knowledgeable about the menu, and was not a bit hesitant about her recommendations when asked.

We decided to all have something different to get a true feel for the menu.  I started with the brie, which came with a lovely mixed leaf salad, but my brother in law hit the jackpot with his mussels.  They were perfectly cooked in a lushishly smooth cream sauce.  I could have eaten them all night.

The Mussels Special

The Mussels Special

The whole ambience of the restaurant was inviting, the chairs were particularly comfortable and even though the room was full, we were able to chat and laugh comfortably without feeling we were intruding on other diners pleasure.

I had the sole special for main course, it came, as I had hoped, on the bone, and flaked off quite easily.  For my taste there was a little too much sauce which slightly dulled the flavour for me.  The winning main course at our table, however, was the madras curry.  Piquant spices, carefully crafted together made for a mouth wateringly good combination that shown serious chef skills.

We were so full that dessert was not an option. I would love to have tried one or two, but will have to leave it for next time.  We were not at any stage rushed, even though on booking they had advised they needed the table for 8. It was a very pleasant evening, the company was excellent, and it was lovely to support a local restaurant.

 

 

A well deserved dinner- Harrys of Inishowen

Ever since the beautiful @italianfoodie set foot there a number of years ago, both Nigel and myself have been looking for an excuse to head North to visit Harrys Bar & Restaurant.  While doing my UCC Food writing course, John McKenna said I HAD to visit it too.  Surely it was a sign?

Harrys, Made in Inishowen

Harrys, Made in Inishowen

Local food from local people is their mantra, and they truly live it.  We could have spent hours talking to Donal about his growing methods, what he grows, where he grows it. But we really had to order.

Another difficult choice.

I started with the wild garlic risotto and the red mullet. The delicate combination of flavours and aromas were bordering on nirvana.

Wild Garlic Risotto, with Red Mullet

Wild Garlic Risotto, with Red Mullet

For my main course I went with the steak, Donal explained the hanging process to us, and both Jordan and myself almost wept with the taste.  The men went for the fish, and there was complete silence at the table for a while as we took in the culinary mastery.  Simple yet elegant, full of flavour yet soft in its approach, the caressing of the core ingredients with evident love.

Rump Steak, with herbed Bearnaise.

Rump Steak, with herbed Bearnaise.

Dessert is always a given in our family, but I really struggled both with choice, and my capacity.  But it would have been rude not to.  The Black Cherry Cheesecake was both light and tasty, and finished off the meal perfectly.

What made the meal such a success was the people, Donal and the other staff were so exceptionally friendly, the restaurant was busy yet we felt like the only guests.  My son is hoping to do work experience in the veggie gardens as he was so enthused after meeting Donal.  I think I’ll “have” to bring him up.

As we were in Derry running in the Legenderry Orienteering  event, we also had an opportunity to visit the food festival. Once again Donal was there in the marquee, selling his wares.

Donal busy prepping

Donal busy prepping

This time we went for the bangers and creamy mash.  The littlest Pim expressed a wish to bring a bottle of the onion gravy home.  High praise indeed.

Outdoor bred bangers, creamy mash, and onion gravy

Outdoor bred bangers, creamy mash, and onion gravy

Legenderry Day 1

We arrived in Letterkenny late Friday night after a 5 hour drive from Waterford.  The first thing that strikes you about Letterkenny are the amazing roundabout art.

photo1

 

Although the picture is not very good, it’s dramatic effect is still evident.  This artwork is The Workers monument made from stainless steel and stone. The monument was created in 2001 by Maurice Harron, a local sculptor. The monument commemorates a generation of men who worked on building the original bridge and train track at the Dry Arch. The piece of stone in the monument, which the workers are lifting, is a piece saved from the original bridge.

The next one is the Polestar,

Roundabout on the way into Letterkenny

Roundabout on the way into Letterkenny

The site of the Polestar, on the Port Bridge Roundabout, has had an historic past where trade and goods were landed by boat and transported to the surrounding areas by rail and road. The sculpture is made of 104 timber poles and rises to a height of 12 metres. Its shape refers to the outline of a boat, as well as having a locomotive (train track) theme, to commemorate the fact that both forms of transportation played a major part in the town’s development in the past.

We thank fully this morning woke to more good weather, after breakfast we headed off to our first race, a middle distance, in Binevenagh, just North of Limavaddy.  The bus ride to the start brought us thankfully up a steep incline, with me hoping that it meant the run would be mostly downhill.

 

View from the start

 

The run was through two types of mixed forest, and was the most enjoyable one I’ve done in a while, although I was slow downhill and through the low forest I felt I “spiked” my controls.

Course 3 mapAll the family had a good run, although Nigel fell heavily on his knee.  Here’s hoping this doesn’t affect his 3 races tomorrow.

Jords studying her map

Jords studying her map

View from the road after we finished.

View from the road after we finished.

Tonight we are eating in Inishowen, Harry’s Bar & Restaurant, can’t wait!

 

 

Legenderry Weekend

Jords on the run

Jords on the run

We are heading up to Derry this evening to partake in a weekend of orienteering. There are 4 races over the 3 days, so we should have the legs well and truly run off us!
https://oentries.com/multi/events/41-legenderry-3-day/details
They are still taking a small amount of entries on the day if anyone is interested.

I’ve never been to Derry so while I was on my writing course last week I asked the esteemed John McKenna for recommendations.
Of course you can also find more here;
http://www.guides.ie/megabites/browns-restaurant-derry-and-browns-town-review-and-soundbite
We have booked into Harry’s in Inishowen as we have heard SO much about it, mainly from the always enthusiastic @italianfoodie. So that is going to be a real treat.

The other recommendation we hope to indulge in is Pyke’n'Pommes foodcart, perfect nosh I hope after running. You can find them here on facebook.

Reports and deliciously mouth watering pictures to follow…..

The Jerusalem Artichoke

Chatting with Denis Cotter the other day about vegetables, we were looking at a book The Garden Going On Without Us, Lorna Crozier - (1985) which was nominated for a Governor General’s Award. Full of cute short poems about veggies, of which we only managed to read one or two.

Jerusalem Artichokes

Jerusalem Artichokes

He challenged me to write a similar, 4 line poem about one of the more obtuse vegetables, or which I am not the biggest fan.

And here it is;

Jerusalem Artichoke

“Ode to Pimmy”

Although knarled and twisted like the old gardeners hands that tend your roots

You sit patiently in the sodden ground

Not wishing to shine in the sun like your cousins

Content to rest, the earthbound apple.

 

However it would be remit of me not to add my recipe for soup using this earthy veg, as soup, we decided was probably it’s best use.

My soup has been inspired by the River Cottage everyday recipe for Jerusalem Artichoke and nettle gratin, Odd I know, but I like the combination of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ingredients.

1 tbsp sunflower oil

2 brown onions, finely diced

1 small clove of garlic, peeled and minced

2 (man’s fist sized) Jerusalem Artichokes peeled and cut into 2cm cubes

1 teaspoon dried thyme

200 ml double cream

350 ml vegetable stock

50 g fresh nettle tops

50 g porridge oats

to Finish:

flaked almonds, lightly brown from being tossed in a hot, dry pan

Heat the oil in a deep saucepan over a medium heat, stirring, until they start to colour, add the garlic, Jerusalem artichoke and thyme.  Stir again to 5 minutes.  Add to this the stock.  Leave to simmer, partially covered for 25 minutes, until the Jerusalem Artichokes, prodded with a knife, seem soft.

At this stage add the rest of the soup ingredients and stir until combined and just about to boil again.

Ladle into mugs of bowls, and sprinkle with the almonds.

 

 

Final Day- Ballymaloe Cookery School

Spring Garden

Spring Garden

We finished our three days in the Ballymaloe Cookery School. The setting is so idyllic, and as some of the class said, it was easy to be creative in such a wonderful environment.

Hellboras flowers displayed in the reception

Hellboras flowers displayed in the reception

We were lucky to have both Darina Allen and Rory O’Connell talking about their books. All of the lecturers have such different stories about the journeys they took when writing, almost akin to the different stories you hear of children being born.

Rory O'Connell's Book, Master It.

Rory O’Connell’s Book, Master It.

My Creative Journey, starting with Michael Pollan

FoodWritingI am attending a Module of the UCC School of English in Food Writing. It started this morning and already I feel so immersed in the creative jumble of juices that I want now to write forever. Not recipes, but will include them every now and then, but actual writing about food.
I have been reluctant when people have asked me, why are you writing a blog?, to answer truthfully. Surely the reason that I want to share an experience with others isn’t enough?
Turns out it is enough. Write, bring people with you, build characters, build yourself.
One of the articles we discussed this morning was
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/02/magazine/02cooking-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
I have read it during my lunch, and on this World book day if you read just one thing, albeit it’s not in a book, read this.