Paul on preservation

Preservation 2018

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

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Kevin’s wine tasting trip

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.

Paul at food on the edge

Food on the edge and a bank holiday weekend

As I sit here in the back room after service I have a chance to reflect on the week that it’s been for me personal and professional. Starting last Sunday the journey to Galway begins. Drive to Galway check in and time for beer. Monday bright and early off to NUIG for food on the edge, a few familiar faces appear a few new ones to acquaint with. For the most part I was alone, i.e. not with my group of Kevin Noel Dale and Dave. Rubbing shoulders with some of the best that the world has to offer and then there’s us. I really enjoyed the whole experience I met several icons for me including Neven mcguire (absolute gent). From there some of Ireland’s producers.

I’ve shorten the above from an essay to a paragraph as I believe nobody wants to read the rant of irrelevant nonsense. If your interested in Food from behind the pass or growing in the field or making cheese this is the place for you. Changed me personally and professionally.

Came back to a steak night provided by one of my old school friends, thank you that steak was amazing, thanks Dad for your input too, much too modest a man to take credit for what he’d deem to he his job and to tell the honest truth a dying art form true butchery skills pulling meat from bones on a carcass to a plate near you.

As always follow the page on Facebook and myself directly @chefpaulc on all social media platforms

Chefs why we do it

Why do we do it……..

Family and friends will never understand
We work every weekend, holiday and special day
Mother’s day, fathers day, birthdays you name it we work it
Unless you have worked as a chef you could never understand the…Why….
For reasons you won’t understand…. not that’s it’s personal well it is but, beyond mosts to really understand ,
Our shortest days are longer than your longest
15 plus hours in a sweat box of heat under pressure from the moment we start till long after you go to bed
While you put on the pjs and brush your teeth we are scrubbing down writing orders filling out paper work only to start early again the next day
And for what…..!!!!!
To express ourselves through food , to tell our story
Lost on most
Boiling pots, sizzling pans , sharp knifes, in a tight space with everybody running around shouting behind , passing,
We cut ourselves, enough to send you to the doctor , we just use duck the or glue and carry on , pain …… we have no time for it …. No place for it ,
Burns that will blister , you don’t stop because of it

The order fly in the pressure mounts but it’s not just physical but mental it will test you and break you nightly
Phyiscally mentally and emotionally every night
For what ……. the few who get it …!!!!
Or care to ..
Well yes ,
We believe or hope that we make a difference to somebody sometime even onetime
Cause that makes it worth while
All the shit,the pain,the missing family
Yes it is worth it
That one moment
Makes it worth while
That one moment that one comment
The best meal ive had
You have made our night special
Yes it easier way the shit the pain the missing
For everybody …..No not even close.
Artist who’s art is never again seen
Poets who’s words are heard once
Painters who’s art is edible
Story.tellers …. but not our story…theirs the producers the grows the farmers
Their stories
We tell theirs not ours
We are the teller.of stories not the story ,

Does it make sense…. not even to us

Rock n roll is dead by Gorka

Rock n roll is dead by Gorka

There was a time no long time ago where our industry was ruled by bad ass , loud , genius, hard sweeting rock and rollers
This post might seem a bit nostalgic but I miss the era of no internet, google, master chefs, Netflix,TripAdvisor,bloggers……
There was a time when the chef was the person to admire,fear,loud….. he was a super rock and roll star
There was a time where everything was about products,suppliers,seasons….and skills
There was a time where the restauranteur was a passionate person, proud , father figure, mentor……not everything was about how many customers, how much money ,where can I buy it cheaper and make more profit ,holidays, more companies, more business, more money……….
There was a time when you where told to shut the f…. up and we were ok with it, we learn our craft and pursue our career and learn and learn and learn
There was a time where the was no shows, screams ,hungover,music
There was a time were food was not just fuel and we will eat what Mother Earth 🌏 provide us
There was a time where maitre d and waiting staff wore precise and immaculate uniforms
There was a time where a chef will appear on tv half drunk and still managed to cook a masterpiece
There was a time that recognition will come from one book and one book only every year , creating excitement and glamour
Funny enough I am posting this on Facebook so undoubtedly, there are good things about modern times
I see no more Marco Pierre whites in kitchen, we are a dying breed ….
Our industry is f…. and if we don’t rebel against it , we have lost
I don’t want to earn 50 euros p hour and put shit food in front of you
I want to cook good food , interact with you , please you , surprise you , be proud of your experience …….. I want the guitar to have this amazing solo…… and I totally refuse to wear skinny jeans and make up on tv…….
I love rock and roll !!!!!

#chef thoughts by Noel

You are the world you have created
And when you cease to exist
This world you have created will also cease to exist

But for those with the understanding that they are living the last days of the world
Death aquires a different meaning
The extinction of all reality
Is a concept no registration can encompass
And then all the grand designs and all the grand plan’s
Will be finally exposed and reviled for they are
Death comes to the prey at speed
A silence of an arrow
I never tire of that
To see somone killed with elegance
Is moving to me
The hunter has grace & beauty
And purely of heart
To be found no where else
You can make no destitution between who they are
And that they do
And what we do is kill
But our faintness of heart is what has driven us to the edge
Prehaps you want to create but nothing iis cruelier than a coward
And the slaughter to come is behond our imagining

#atyourservice by Diarmuid

The call to Arms it came! ‘Ask not what your blog can do for you but what you can do for your blog’ ‘and from this day ’till the day you lay dying in your bed, would you give all those days fron now untill to write a piece for your blog’ We have all see the great movies heard the great spine chilling speech’s we even at times felt compelled to jump off our couch and go out and take on the world.
So what am I referring to What does a blog I follow I read mean to me. I follow like most on social media alot of blogs. I follow food fashion sport and definately any current affair in the world. I love information. I love to be able to converse on most things that are current and to my mind relevant. It’s important to be abreast of All that’s happening in the World when operating at front of house. As I have explained before its my ‘tool of work’ it’s my way to break down all barriers it’s my secret weapon but more importantly I love information and most certainly not in a nosey neighbour way. Most of my Facebook twitter or blogs are not following facebook friends on their night out who they are with etc etc, no my feeds are full of blogs my Snapchat follows all the top bloggers in our industry and beyond.
Ok so what Am I referring to. Noel Keane called to ‘Arms’ this weekend so I thought for a while what I would right here today. I’m writing about ( in case you haven’t gathered ) Social Media. I’m talking about the Internet I’m talking about the importance of Social Media and how it is a massive benefit to all our careers point in case I’m writing this post this evening because Noel reached out thru Social Media on TCG to basically write a blog for the page. I am doing that now. I’m reacting on Social Media to that call. Here I am but more importantly here are you also. I’ve learned so much so often so quickly but more so informality thru Social Media. Long ago when I had my own business I used deligialantly listen to the radio watch TV and drive around in my car to get all the ‘goss’ and that was before going into work. I needed to know what as we say in Limerick ‘what the Craic was’ only to know to be informed to be prepared. I didn’t need to know just to be a nosey nellie ‘to be fore-armed is to be prepared. To gain my own information not second hand. I have that now everyday with just a touch of a button the flick of a screen or a simple search on the ‘net. So what’s new I hear you say. Well we all have our own particular likes and we all have our hobbies and Intrestes in life now Social Media just brought all that a little closer to us all. Some of my favourite past times are hiking walking and amature photography. I now can combine all 3 on one of my favourite blogs Ireland from the Roadside. Who would have thought hobbies and pictures opening new experiences and new friendships all thru SM. Anyhow I digress I think you all know the score at this stage. I now thru TCG appreciate alot more the love the passion and the commitment you guys put into your work. I watch the videos of foragging of fresh produce I admire the dishs you guys present to our guests and I won’t always understand you guys and your madness but I certainly have a huge appreciation and respect for the labour of love and talent you posess. For me I’m better armed better prepared and a bettter operator for all this. Again for me it’s teamwork accross the board and support and love of what we do. Social Media has brought my game now to a different level. I gain information ideas and thankfully when I have time I can share this with fellow bloggers. So yes Ask not what can you do for your blog not what the blog can do for you. That’s the way I see it anyways. Now I’m off to Instagram and follow what interests me next, how knows only last evening I started to follow a ‘gram’ in NY called NewYorksBesteats from all over the 5 boroughs. I’m learning more and I’m loving it. Thanks TCG.
Diarmuid Ring

Food alerts, David thoughts

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Ok there is something that has been kinda bothering me as of recently, and that is the growing number of recalls of food within supermarkets and local shops due to malpractice with the so called product being produced. We all heard about the frozen food being recalled about being contaminated with Listeria. Well here’s a wee little lesson on Listeria for you. Listeria is a foodborne bacterial illness that can be very serious for pregnant women and people with impaired immune systems. Listeria is most commonly contracted by eating improperly processed deli meats and unpasteurized milk products. Listeria bacteria can survive refrigeration and even freezing. That’s why people who are at higher risk of serious infections should avoid eating the types of food most likely to contain listeria bacteria.

Symptoms

If you develop a listeria infection, you may experience:

Fever
Muscle aches
Nausea
Diarrhea

Symptoms may begin a few days after you’ve eaten contaminated food, but it may take as long as 30 days or more before the first signs and symptoms of infection begin.

If the listeria infection spreads to your nervous system, signs and symptoms may include:

Headache
Stiff neck
Confusion or changes in alertness
Loss of balance
Convulsions

9 people died from this particular foorborne illness in the past month alone, and as much as it scares me. I just keep seeing more recalls no one is questioning the big corporations. People are literally dying or being left really I’ll and hospitalised. How is it that these big corporations are not responsible for such things. I know as being a chef we have a duty of care to make sure every customer has a plesent meal and in no way gets sick or harmed by eating that meal. Does that always happen. No. And we unfortunately get blamed and have to suffer the the consequences. So why are the big corporations different.

Just as of yesterday morning (27 july) the Pepsi co had to recall a multivitamin juice due to fermentation. Fermentation is the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, typically involving effervescence and the giving off of heat found mainly in the making of beer and other alcohol products.

And that’s just yesterday if i go back towards the start of the month (6th july) there was a massive recall on dunnes and spar own brand pesto for contamination due to salmonella.

Salmonella (salmonellosis) is a common bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract. Salmonella bacteria typically live in animal and human intestines and are shed through feces. Humans become infected most frequently through contaminated water or food.

Typically, people with salmonella infection have no symptoms. Others develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps within eight to 72 hours.

Now with this particular recall I have a few issues.
1- dunnes and spar both claim to be Irish and do Irish food – well why would then have to buy in pesto from Belgium to mask as your own
2- as a junior chef who works in kitchen where a lot of foraging takes place pesto is frequently used. So what blows my mind is where in the **** do you get salmonella from basil oil and pine nuts.

It defiantly makes me wonder. WHAT IS IN OUR FOOD?

Dale on spring rolls

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In collage I learned how to roll a spring roll and learned how to prepare a spring roll , when I do pre dinner snacks in work and when I’m told create something for the customers to eat I get to learn what my styles and techniques are and each day I create something I get better. It helps me prepare for the time I’m ready to come up with a starter. One day I brought my techniques from collage into work and made a spring roll with duck,carrot and onion for a pre dinner snack , it wasn’t just making something that tastes nice to me it’s that at more when I think of something amazing to eat amazing to me is taste,texture and the art of the dish I like to surprise customers not just with taste but with the look of the plate too. My head chef thought me so many ways and techniques of cooking and so did my suis chef so I study and watch nearly everything they do to better myself at my passion. I saw the Dahl Curry on the menu one night and something just sparked to me I wanted to do something more with the Dahl that nobody would think of doing , something unusual , something so that when I created it and it was served out to the customers they’d be completely surprised with what they got , it came to me to combine a spring roll with a Dahl curry and that’s where my inspiration for the Dahl cake from

Paul on preserving

Summer time preserves.

Ok so, here goes I’ve got married and can say I’ve never been happier with my place in life right now, the path is clear for my personal life anyway.

Preservation work continues with chutney and cordials that have began to ferment to I suppose champagne is the best comparison, knowing when i made the “cordial” if I hadn’t killed the naturally occurring yeasts if end up in this position. Oh well elderflower champers, Wahoo. Tasty is an understatement for this beautifully light drink. I used this on the symphony of flowers dish for vegtopia menu, cooked and designed by myself and the 2 d’s Dave and Dale, fantastic dishes produced by these too lads also.

Now keeping nettles is much easier than the aforementioned elderflower cordial I’ve dried some and crushed some and rolled more into paper or as close as one can get to an edible paper. Fun idea I loved doing. Experimentation here is key to finding uses for this prolific weed.

Fraughans are in full flight at the moment I will be harvesting some this year, if I get a jar of jam I reckon I will have a lot.
More to the forefront of my preservation is that of the haws which will be colouring over the next few months. These little jems are all I’m looking forward to. Watch this space seriously there’s loads of them, I plan on hoarding them. Till the new year and far beyond if I can.

As always I’m on everything @chefpaulc for a more direct follow to me, the restaurant is on all social media platforms @croitralee
Chat soon people