Slow Food and Fabulous Food Trails Reconnaisance Trip
Dublin Slow Food member Eveleen Coyle and owner of Fabulous Food Trails joined Slow Food Westmeath on Saturday July 23rd to review and assist us in potentially establishing a Westmeath Food Trail. The weather was amazing and fun was had by all in trailing the interesting food points of North East Westmeath.
for Pics from our enjoyable day see: http://pix.ie/wmeathslowfood
A Great Taste of Westmeath at Hilltown’s New Music Festival
Westmeath’s Slow Food Convivium served up a delicious tasting plate of Westmeath food to those who attended a special Hilltown New Music Festival Pre Concert on Friday last.
The concert introduced 80 guests to a combined taster menu of contemporary music and local Westmeath produce.
Slow Food’s Westmeath tasting plate consisted of - Mary Kelly's Moonshine Organic Cheese from her pasture fed dairy herd on the shores of Lough Ennel, Kevin Harmon’s freshly picked green leaf and edible flower salad from Fore, Joe Brady’s organic pasture and clover fed beef adjacent to Lough Owel, Christopher Kelly’s Lough Bishop organic lamb and John Rogan’s smoked mackerel (a Great Taste Award Winner). Guests broke warm seed breads freshly provided from Just Baked Bakery of Mullingar.
“The reaction to the Westmeath tasting plate was wonderful to witness” said Westmeath Slow Food organiser Morag Newman. “It was great to see concert goers from our own local community with those from the four corners of Ireland and as far afield as Italy, Spain and France enjoying Westmeath’s pure ingredients and great food”
“People loved the creaminess of the Moonshine cheese” said Morag. “The Harmon’s garlic flowers were a wonder for tasters from overseas as was Joe Brady’s tender beef which the continental Europeans particularly liked.”
The food was served simply with a mint jelly and mustard and honey dressing on the side.
John Rogan's smoked mackerel was described by tasters as smooth with a smoky flavour and spiced finish.
Joe Brady's organic rib of beef was marinated in olive oil and freshly picked local sage and oregano overnight and roasted medium rare. People described it as wonderfully tender and moist. The Lough Bishop House organic leg of lamb was butterflied and stuffed with locally grown garlic and lavender and marinated in fresh locally grown mint with olive oil overnight. It was described as sweet and succulent.
Beef from Joe Brady of Lough Owel Organic Farm
Smoked Mackerel from John Rogan of Rogan's Real Smoked Fish. Tel: 043 76264
Gouda from Mary & Gerry Kelly of Moonshine Organic Cheese
Salad from Kevin Harmon (Castlepollard on Fridays, and Mullingar Farmers Market)
Breads from 'Just Baked' 29 Pearse St. Mullingar
All served with a delicious glass of Prosecco from Wines Direct in Mullingar
View our pictures of the event on: http://pix.ie/wmeathslowfood
Celebrate The Auditory and the Culinary in County Westmeath
The Hilltown New Music Festival 2011 is embracing Ireland’s Slow Food Movement. Hilltown and the Westmeath Slow Food Convivium are partnering to provide a tasting of Contemporary Music and Westmeath Slow Food. The Slow Food plate will serve local produce reflective of farming and food from the fields and fresh water lakes of Westmeath. Food for the plate is being selected by Feargal O’Donnell from Glasson’s Fatted Calf restaurant. Wine is being carefully chosen to match the foods by Paddy Keogh of Wines Direct in Mullingar. Food and wine will be followed by a performance from Cork based Quiet Music Ensemble preceded by a series of sound improvisations.
It’s an event that promises to appeal to the senses.
Pre-booking essential and limited spaces available.
Event: Hilltown New Music Festival 2011
Date: Friday July 15th
Venue: Hilltown Studio Theatre, Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath
Ticket Price - €20 per person
To book a ticket Log on to www.hilltown.ie
Catch the full sounds of Hilltown’s Festival comprising of a series of other performances on the Saturday and Sunday (see Hilltown’s detailed release also attached or view the website).
Join us at the Westmeath Slow Food Workshop "Nettles"
Saturday 9th July
Time of workshop: 11am
A celebration of the humble nettle! We will discuss the culinary and nutritional properties of nettles while rambling and foraging around the country lanes of Curraghboy before returning to McCormacks Cottage for a cookery and tasting session.
Venue: McCormacks Cottage, Curraghboy, Athlone.
Contact: Lynda Mc Farland Tel: 087 7927471 / email:
Free for Slow Food members. Cost to non members €10
Directions: McCormack's Cottage, Castletown, Curraghboy, Co.Roscommon (20 minutes outside Athlone); coming from Dublin take exit no. 13 off the M6 motorway signposted Monksland/Tuam; take the third exit off the roundabout; 2nd exit/straight through the next roundabout; straight through the next roundabout and straight until you come to a right turn for Athleague/Curraghboy; keep driving straight and drive through Curraghboy village; take the first left turn after the village which is approx.2 miles; then the first right turn and my house is the 3rd house on the right hand side. Call 087 7927471 if you have any problems.
Westmeath Elderflower Workshop Hosted by Christopher and Helen Kelly
June 13 2011
Westmeath Slow Food's elderflower workshop took place in Lough Bishop House last Saturday hosted by Slow Food members Christopher and Helen Kelly. With secateurs, trugs and even a ladder in hand we went about elderflower hunting. We set our sights on an elder tree close to the shore of Lough Bishop.The elderflower is only out in Westmeath in the last two weeks so we were still early enough to find young budding creamy coloured elderflower perfect for cordial, syrup and vinegar. On returning to Helen’s house it wasn't long before her kitchen filled with the heady aroma of freshly cut elderflower. Using our slow food template and Helen's personal compendium of recipes we made elderflower syrup for cordial to taste. Thanks Sophie for zesting those lemons. Lynda made elderflower cider vinegar which will be ready in two weeks time. Helen gave us some elderflower sparkler to taste as well as some of her elderflower white wine vinegar. After all that work Helen sat us down for lunch - a freshly baked Joe Brady bacon, marjoram and parsley quiche, with salad leaves from the garden, served with a homemade salad dressing made of elderflower vinegar; freshly baked homemade crusty white soda bread; hard mature goats cheese, followed by the piece de resistance - an elderflower gooseberry fool served with melt in the mouth sugar dusted shortbread. Most of us just had to go for seconds. We should also mention the delicious homemade blackcurrant cordial. Thankyou Helen and Christopher. For pics see http://pix.ie/wmeathslowfood/photos
Next up: nettle workshop covering nutrition properties and recipes Saturday July 9th time to be confirmed at Lynda McFarland's McCormack's Cottage, Castletown, Curraghboy, Co.Roscommon (20 minutes outside Athlone) (directions: coming from Dublin take exit no. 13 off the M6 motorway signposted Monksland/Tuam; take the third exit off the roundabout; 2nd exit/straight through the next roundabout; straight through the next roundabout and straight until you come to a right turn for Curraghboy; keep driving straight and drive through Curraghboy village; take the first left turn after the village which is approx.2 miles; then the first right turn and my house is the 3rd house on the right hand side. Call 087 7927471 if any problems! )
Elderflower Picking – Saturday 11th June
Meeting Place: Lough Bishop House, at 11am – see www.loughbishophouse.com/
The sun is due to shine this weekend which means the elderflowers will be in full bloom and they are best picked when the sun is on them. Check the attached template for detailed information and for titillating recipes. Meet up at 11:00 on Saturday morning for an hour or so at Lough Bishop House.
What to bring
- Bag or Basket
- Long reaching Secateurs or a walking stick or golf umbrella to reach and pull down those high elder branches. Most elderflowers are quite high up.
Decide beforehand what recipes you would like to make and it would be handy to buy your lemons and sugar ahead of time so you can get right into making your cordial, champagne or whatever recipe you choose. Rest assured you will need min 4kg sugar, and a dozen lemons. Also, if thinking champagne, source in advance white wine yeast, although you may not need this, it can be hard to come by, with many fewer home-brew retail outlets than might be thought! Health food shops are a good starting point, and it is available on-line also, but this takes several days.
Check out the Wild and Slow specially designed for up-to-date info on the Festival for November.
All Westmeath Slow Food events are organised by members on a voluntary basis. Slowfood is a voluntary organisation and depends on the dedication and time of its members’ worldwide.
Wild&Slow 2011 a Unique National Event
Check out the Wild and Slow specially designed for up-to-date info on the Festival for November.
Authentic Taste of Pork and Lamb Remembered
Westmeath Slow Food's Pig and Lamb roast at Hilltown included good local food and interesting talks on the subjects of Slow Food, Rare Pig Breeding and Sheep Farming.
Those who came were literally given the rare treat of tasting Mangalitza pork from the spit. Mangalitza is a rare and heritage breed of pig from Hungary which has been recently saved from extinction. The herd of Mangalitza contracted after the collapse of the Austro Hungarian empire following world war I, and declined even further after the introduction of cheaper and more efficient white pigs following world war II. Mangalitsa now supplies some Spanish pork producers. A Mangalitza pig breeder from Westmeath supplied the pig for the Slow Food event. People described the pork as luscious and melt in the mouth no doubt due to its unique marbling.
The lamb was roasted whole on the spit. Roasting the whole lamb worked out really well. The meat was incredibly succulent and tender coming apart so easily. Roast whole lamb would have been the main item at the traditional feasts at family and religious gatherings for centruries gone by so it was nice to participate in a whole lamb roast just as generations have done in the past.
Be sure to view our pics on http://pix.ie/wmeathslowfood/photos
A Pig and Lamb Roast
The Westmeath Slow Food Convivium invites you to our forthcoming pig and lamb roast at Hilltown House in Castlepollard on Saturday September 25th at 1pm.
Taste delicious spit roast locally produced rare breed pork and organic lamb and enjoy two talks from Westmeath’s Morag Newman on Rare Breed Pig Keeping and Christopher Kelly on Sheep Farming.
The event will also feature a film review of Slow Food's Terra Madre (Mother Earth) Conference 2008.
Please pre-book tickets for yourself and friends in advance (as spaces are limited) and spread the word.
To book please contact: Helen: 087 933 9384, Una: 086 2478 922 or Morag: 087 7677726.
It took time - but Slow Food's arrived in Westmeath!
As reported in the Westmeath Examiner
Seventeen people sat down to dinner at a house in North Westmeath the weekend before last, and at an immaculately laid table, lit by elegant candlelight, they dined off the finest of Westmeath-produced food.
That was the first official event of the newly-formed Westmeath convivium of the Slow Food Movement, reveals Castlepollard textile designer, Helen James, one of the committee of this fledgling movement, which hopes to do much in the year ahead to spread the word around the county about the values of the Slow Food movement.
The meal, held at Coolure House, saw a menu which included Smoked Trout from John Rogan's smokery at Rathowen; Inny Eel pate by Therese Gilsenan, crusty bread made by Helen James herself, butter-wrapped venison from Greg Potterton's farm at Ballinea; gratin of potatoes made with cheese from Mary Kelly's Moonshine Farm at Dysart; Elderberry Jelly and mincepies made by Helen James of Lough Bishop guest house; Morag Newman's oatcakes and Kilbeggan Whiskey and local Honey home-made ice-cream.
"What we tried to do with the first event was keep it nice and informal and intimate, and to contact as many food producers as we could," says Helen, who stresses that the Slow Food movement is not just something for people involved in producing food: it's for anyone who enjoys food, or is interested in food, and interested in how it is produced and where it comes from.
"It was started by an Italian man who, when he saw a McDonald's restaurant open at the Spanish Steps in Rome, decided it was time to do something against fast food, so he came up with 'slow food'.
"It's about seasonal food, it's about local food, it's about growing your own, it's about the providence of food. It's against tv dinners and packaged food, and about becoming aware of where your food comes from, and trying to source food that is local to you," says Helen.
Locally, Helen credits Una FitzGibbon of Coolure House for starting the ball rolling in Westmeath. "Una works for Bord Bia, and she would be very aware of slow food through working with Bord Bia, and has been to the Slow Food Convention so it was her idea to do something locally around here and at the moment, the other people are Morag Newman, who raises rare-breed pigs in Fore, Helen Kelly, of Lough Bishop B and B, and myself. We're the committee."
For the launch event at Coolure, contact was made with food producers, and so the group who jointly prepared and dined what was themed as a "Hunters' Luncheon", consisted of a group who didn't all necessarily know each other.
"We hope in February or March to do something based around chocolate, and in the Summer, we are planning a big pig roast. We will hold the events in various locations," she says.
Helen, who enjoys cooking herself, denies that it costs more to live by Slow Food principles. "It's not more expensive to live by that approach, but it does take a little bit more planning. For example, my husband and I sat down today for home-made lentil soup and home-made bread, and we reckon it cost only about 50 c each. It was just red lentils, celery and onions, and bread from flour and yeast. It would cost you at least €5 to have that out."
Helen is confident that the time is right for the movement locally.
"I think parents are becoming more aware of what their children are eating, and I know that everyone is very conscious of budget, and it actually works out cheaper, or certainly, not more expensive."I think there is a definite interest, and we had a very positive reaction on Saturday, and we're hoping it will grow and grow.
"You don't have to be a food producer at all to join: it's just about people who are interested in food, and for me personally, it is also about meeting people in my community and getting involved in the community."
To join the slow food movement costs €50 a year, and it is done through the national website, which, when you join, asks you what convivium (the word used by the slow food movement for its groups) you want to join.
For your membership fee, you also get the quarterly "Slow" magazine, and you will be on the mailing list for Slow Food events.