As 2019 roars into action for Kevin Noel and myself the list of things to do this year, last year’s list was fairly small. As many people know getting a proper 3 meals a day is hard enough, and in the kitchen surrounded by food it’s often hard than you’d think, tasting and seasoning and tasting again keeps hunger pangs at bay a lot of the time. We often go a few days without a proper meal in the kitchen, “Did we eat yesterday??” Is a common question in the kitchen here anyway. We tend to feed everyone but else ourselves, ironic cooks for everyone except himself.
As a result we eat late and honestly fairly crappy food, snack box, toastie, chocolate, basically all the stuff you shouldn’t be eating. I’m just speaking here from personal experience, across the industry, both front and back.
When I 1st met my now wife, i was fairly slender, now I’ve what’s called a Dad bod, or beer belly. Whichever you prefer, catching it now seems like a good idea.
I’ve a fairly hectic life as it stands without the addition of exercise and cooking at home.
I found last year I had motivation from here to go after my goals for last year so I figure why not do the same here. I don’t want or need a shaped muscular toned beach body, just a healthier body than what I currently hold, I know my BMI is high and I also realise the flaws with it. For me it’s pretty accurate. Just a few stone 2 or 3.
Now I don’t plan on sticking to a regimental diet of apples and oranges with spinach and kale, that to me seems counter productive, as I know I won’t stick to that at all or anything resembling it.
To speak frankly I want to do this naturally, good honest food less of t ghe crappy processed food that I currently consume. I want potato with butter, I want bacon, beef, pork, fish and lamb all honest food. As I believe it’s the added sugar salt and chemicals that’s added to food today to cut cost and maximise profit.
As always stay tuned,
@chefpaulc on all social media platforms.
Building a different Era.
As we step into 2019 it seems we have A lot to do. Events seem to be the best way to fill the town with people from other towns. The rose of Tralee being the extreme of this but if you take a close look at Brian Carr’s Feile na Blath you have a clear line between well organised events and drawing people. At the restaurant Noel, Paul and I work on getting as many events on for the public as possible because it does effect the growth of Croí and also brings people to the town. With 32 events on the calender so far it’s set to be a busy year. The secret is and it’s true to the bone, you can always find time to put on another one. Events are difficult to get over the line and if they aren’t always free events, selling tickets and advertising can be an issue. The trick there is to be persistent and believe in your event, advertising in the right places and tapping into people you know would be interested. When I do up my plans for events I always tick the boxes of who would like this. Before Croí I never ran an event in my life and as we head into year 3 in business and now after being part of 20 plus events, the tactics used to get bums on seats has gained huge experience and the marketing strategy for the events is key. Working with Noel and Paul has given me huge space to work on thing I enjoy and working on events is amazing. Seeing the people’s faces light up as they recieve above and beyond their expectations. Chef Noel always delivering the best he can and watching Paul bend over backwards to knock it out the park is amazing. From demos to themed evenings, charity gigs to wine tastings, finding my love for events has been a true gift from Croí.
What is the purpose for events.
1) You want to increase revenue by giving people things they are genuinely interested in.
2) To get people through the door that have never been there before.
3) Hopefully meet like minded people so as that connection may begin and the most important word can start. Story.
We do several free events during the year, we also do events that are special and need to pay and deciding which is which isn’t always easy as the 3 of us can differ but and the end of the day if Noel comes up with an event then he has the final word. If Paul comes up with an event, he has the final word. Respecting each individual and realising that everyone you meet is a potential event is also key. A simple conversation could be a potential goldmine.
Why do I put on events, I don’t care to much for money, I have a firm belief that it has its place in society but to witness the look on someone’s face as they truly enjoy something you’ve put on is one of the greatest gifts in my life. On busy Saturday nights to take a minute to close your eyes and listen to a packed restaurant of chatting, giggling, laughter and more, what else could you want….
Roasted Mooncoin Beet, Ruby Red Grapefruit, and Warm apairy Honey Salad
2 Ruby Red grapefruits
3 medium red beets
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons local honey
1 (1-inch) rosemary sprig
Flaky sea salt, for garnish
How to Make It
Using a sharp knife, cut the skin and bitter white pith from grapefruits. Working over a medium bowl, cut in between the membranes to release sections, and cut sections in half. Squeeze juice from membranes into bowl.
Preheat oven to 160. On a large sheet of heavy-duty tin foil, rub beets with olive oil and season with salt. Wrap beets in foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 50 minutes. Unwrap beets and let cool slightly, then rub skins off with paper towels. Cut beets into 1/4-inch wedges. Add to bowl with grapefruit. Season with salt and pepper and toss well. Transfer to platter.
In a small saucepan, warm honey and rosemary sprig over moderately low heat. Remove sprig, and drizzle rosemary honey over salad. Garnish with flaky sea salt
Anyone that knows me will tell you that I’ll talk for Ireland, beneath the extrovert exterior lies a fear of public speaking, no problem speaking at mass, Just a ball of nerves at demos so I tend not to talk much there, silence is golden so embrace it. I recently did a demo in Garvey’s super valu in Tralee.
Easy once I got into it and felt comfortable with myself, I had Max from once upon a cheese on my peripheral vision so I knew I was good and if I fell short Max or Kevin would throw a comment in somewhere, to set me off again.
I normally go out and forage, Kevin and Noel go to demos and I’m happy out cooking away in the restaurant, not the case this time around it’s Wednesday Paul your doing the demo.
I’m much happier in the forest or the coast getting smart comments from random strangers. This demo was an exception, we were part of a showcase of kerry producers.
As always follow me on all social media @chefpaulc and the restaurant @croitralee
At the start of the year I wanted to expand on preservation, that I was doing in 2017. So far I’ve made 2 batches of kraut, cabbage and wild garlic, I’ve made a tonne of pesto, cordials and pickles, I’ve also dehydrated some things, made powders and dried leaves and herbs. All in all one part of my years goals achieved. Seaweeds well I’m working on them, I’ve identified many of the one on the beaches that I forage on, as for use of these well that’s another story. I still havnt picked the courage to say sod this I’m doing it. I know there’s no issue with experimentation in the way I work i dont know is it more a fear of failure, or being pulled yet another direction in my own experiments so far.
I’ve picked up information and I believe it to be key to success in seaweeds as opposed to herbs, way more scope for error with herbs, pesto, salad, powder, dried, etc I’m working on options with seaweed so bear with me.
Dehydration was fun this year between the oven and the dehydrator and the natural dehydration process I’ve seen many different results,good bad and indifferent, nettles were the biggest surprise, nettle powder and paper and no that’s not auto correct. Both were really cool and fun to work on. Wild garlic dried leaves, pesto and powder 2 of these are still in the restaurant (for now).
Mushrooms again not a great year, too dry and what came was depleted in places, I did however dry some and powder a few so yay me.
I’ve a lot of rosehip and Hawthorn preserved in bottles and apples in the freezer until I need them thanks Eileen.
See ye soon guys
So today I cooked one of my favourite dishes to cook, not the traditional cut of meet uses but deffinatly my new favourite after eating it.
Chin is the traditional recipe meat but after seeing (Jacob’s ladder) beef Ribs at a Peter Curran butchery demo in the collage I could not resist.
The only part I will describe for you is the sauce I made for it and the way I made the sauce. I used Know beef stock cube (in theory as a chef this is cheating, it is possible to make beef stock). I used a Garnache grape wine, plenty of herb and spice in that wine. I used a high acidic balsamic vinegar so as the help cut through the fat but not to much, to much and no one will be able to stomach the sauce. 1 tin of chopped plum tomatoes 1 small tin of tomato puree. After that I diced my veg and sealed the meat in a cast iron pot. Take the meat out, saute the veg in the same oil. Add the red wine, just under half a bottle and reduce by half. Then the balsamic (half a small cup), the tin of chopped tomatoes and the puree. Add 2 beef stock cubes dissolved in about half a litre of water. Put the ribs back in and put it in the over and serve with mash after about 4 hours at 180 degrees. Simple
After returning from a trip I was brought on by one of our suppliers I am left with a feeling of humble pie. Taken by my wine supplier Terra Food & Wine, Juan Calljero has a selection of stunning wines in his catalogue. We met at the gates of the plane in Dublin airport and the seven of us were on a journey. When we arrived in Madrid and got the hotel stuff out of the way, we set off on a guided tour of Madrid as this was Alberto Mendozas back garden. Living in Ireland for 17 years and being part of serious achievements for restaurants, Albert showd us amazing food culture in the Spanish city centre. We went to a food jungle is the only way to describe where we were brought, the Platea. A hall set with the backdrop of a stage with a Dj that later became a band. In the middle there was a gymnastic display and on we went. The next place was the city council building where the rooftop had been turned into a viewing, relaxing lounge area. As the night grew late and the feet got tired, we ended the tour and the centre of Madrid and we took our final photo of the evening, no one could imagine what was to happen in the morning.
Up and a’tem early Saturday morning and with the sat nav on, we headed off to the vineyard. 3 hours out the road and we arrived at a discrete location, with stunning gardens, doors, fountains and grape fields as far as the eye could see. Welcomed by Manuel who introduced us to his wine maker Pedro, the tour of this amazing vineyard began. A beautiful tour at the fields in a horse drawn carriage, we got to see all the grape varieties your merlot’s to Syrah’s and the mapping and planning that goes in. They keet stallions, ducks and also host weddings. After the tour of the grounds we were brought through the wine making process and first shown maps of the land and all they harvest. Almonds, olives for oil, pistachios and of course several different types of grapes from reds to whites and rose. Brought through the great halls where the wine is stored in giant 1.5million litre worth of tanks, it was incredibly impressive. After seeing unfiltered chardonnay that had the resemblance of cloudy beer to beautiful blends of stunning fermented grape juice. We had a break then for a couple of hours where food and wine was consistently represented. It seems the culture is built around food and the enjoyment of company and spending time. After a midday siesta Manuel brought us to his private cellar where he showd us some amazing personal possession. Wines from the years his kids were born, wines served at his sister’s wedding and the first wine produce by Manuel. A 15 year old bottle of priceless wine. With very little left and it not being sold you could see the passion in Manuel’s face. Manuel wanted to show us a local village called Chinchilla so we headed there after for an evening meal. At the table we ate some traditional Spanish pinchos and tapas and Manuel had brought a few bottles of wine to taste which included one from the first batch. The liquid inside the bottle hadn’t seen the world in 15 years and as Manuel decanted the beauty I began to feel this amazing feeling of community and enjoyment. The conversation was flying the food was so tasty, no frills no spills just really nice local food. The place was packed, it wasn’t a huge place but it was full. An early night after the long day around 2.30am and I can honestly say one of the best days ever. Breakfast the following morning and a short tour of another part of Madrid where the palace is, we found ourselves in another huge market where every type of person hangs out. From young to old the culture seems to be, I’d rather live with my people then live without my people and the whole thing revolves around food and spending time together. A lot can be learned from cultures like that and being able to visit such places is an honour and a privalage. Trying to make the feeling of being at home is something I want people to feel in our restaurant I guess from spending time abroad in Spain the answer
The answer a Spanish person would give you is “well, what kind of a relationship do you have with yourself, what kind of relationship do you have with your people?” and at the end, they would say, “eating with your people is the only way to be”. When around restaurants and food in Spain you can’t help but feel like you belong or apart of, a beautiful community spirit full of soul, depth and history.