Our Mission Realized

We planned our trip to Ireland with a mission to discover the hidden wonders of Irish food. Before leaving, we contacted Slow Food Ireland and were immediately connected to Paul Deegan. He asked us if we would be interested in discovering Ireland ourselves and writing about it for Ireland’s Slow Food website…ummm, YES PLEASE!

So with this quest in hand, we set off to see what we could find. Needless to say, it took no time at all to find local, family-made yogurts and cheeses, cured meats, and fresh farm eggs in the local Dublin Markets.

However, our real food discoveries began in the wee town of Ballybay in County Monaghan. While visiting family in Ballybay, we traveled around to the small villages in the area, headed up to the Antrim coast and spent much of our time learning about traditional Irish food with the people who have spent generations in the area. What we’ve discovered, thus far, is that no matter where we are, we’ll be surrounded by local foods made with longstanding traditions, pride and love.

After spending a day traveling along the breathtaking Antrim coastline, we ended up in the small town of Ballycastle for dinner where we dined on fresh crab claws, pasture-raised lamb shank and fresh, local goat cheese at The Cellar Restaurant. Sarah had never tasted crab so sweet and Nicole’s lamb shank was so tender it fell off the bone with a mere glance in its direction.

The following day, we were intent on seeing what we could find in County Monaghan. Sarah set off in the morning for the Irish Farmers Association office to see if anyone could shed some light on any local farms or “must visit” locales. Eleanor Wilson was a wealth of information and pointed us to a Camphill Community, Silver Hill Duck Farm, the farmers markets in Ballybay and Monaghan, and Monaghan mushrooms.

We began our outing with a stop by Sloans Farm where they have ingeniously installed a self-service, free range egg dispenser. Put in your couple of Euro and out come a dozen gorgeous eggs!

Next, we stopped over at the Camphill Community. These self-sustaining centers boast biodynamic gardens, resident housing and a life-sharing community for adults with special needs. The community in Ballybay welcomed us warmly with a tour of their beautiful grounds, weavery and candle-making shop while residents and volunteers worked side-by-side in the gardens.

After dropping Nic off in town, Sarah and her Cousin Sally set off for Monaghan to visit the Silverhill Duckfarm.

Laden with homemade beet relish, parsnips the size of grapefruit and some fresh duck breasts, we headed back to town for dinner at LaSalle’s.

Locally-raised beef sirloin, piled high with sauteed Monaghan mushrooms arrived at the table with crisp onion rings, bowls of broccoli and cauliflower and a gravy boat full of peppercorn sauce. YUM!

The next morning, as we walked around the local lake, we picked wild blackberries to complement the beautiful apples that were delivered to Sally’s doorstep by a friend. Sarah quickly whipped up a beautiful apple blackberry crisp as a perfect end to that evening’s dinner.

On our final morning, we sadly packed our bags and headed outside to discover a charming farmer’s market on our doorstep. The market is held each Friday in the Ballybay town square. Local farmers, including those from  Camphill, brought their fresh produce to town.  Sarah’s cousins Peter and Martin joined us for tea and Martin introduced Sarah to Rose, a local Slow Food member, gardener and chef. While talking about the beautiful pork she picked up from one neighbor and the fresh butter she collected from another neighbor, she generously supplied all who were near with samples of her beautiful pies, tarts and sausage rolls.

After saying goodbye to Sarah’s fabulous family with promises of a return, we hit the road to Waterford and the Waterford Harvest Festival.

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2 Responses to Our Mission Realized

  1. Alain&Joanne says:

    Geeeeee… all that looks sooooooooooooooo good….

    I am drewling…..

    Keep enjoying yourselves…

    En Francais: Je m’en lèche les babines à en “BAVER”….

    Alain

  2. Lynette says:

    You two are having such a fine time, learning, seeing, eating, visiting, cooking. What a blast for you!

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