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Dawn Chorus at Newgrange Gold

I woke up at stupid o’clock 3am on Sunday morning to head to Newgrange Gold’s farm in the Boyne Valley. They had teamed up again with Birdwatch Ireland to bring us the dawn chorus… My reward for doing all this was going to be a locally produced Boyne Valley Food artisan breakfast!

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Participants met at Crewbane just outside Slane for a guided walk by expert, Franck Ar Moenner of Birdwatch Ireland Meath.  Frank was an incredibly passionate French guy who could spend every minute of the day talking about birds.

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At first we heard wrens, robins, blackbirds,  and as the morning went on we heard all sorts of other birds. We wondered on down from the farm towards the river to explore further.

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Photo by Boyne Valley Food

I can’t say I could tell you which bird was which, but I could hear a difference. Between churping and tweeting and tra-la-la-las, it was beautiful. I didn’t quite understand the three phrases of song that Franck talked about, but he said they were just improvising! It was fascinating and a great experience.

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It was such a beautiful, fresh morning and I was thrilled that it hadn’t rained but after all the walking I was ready for breakfast!

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Jack and Daryl from New Grange Gold met us back at the house with a fantastic spread.

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There was Boyne Valley Blue cheese,  Sheridans crackers and Big Red Kitchen onion chutney.

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There was Bakelicious brown bread, The Whole Hoggs sausages and white pudding and Big Red Kitchen chutney. The biggest suprise was the porridge. It was lovely and warming at 6.30am! Thanks to Daryl at Newgrange Gold for the recipe below…

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Newgrange Gold Camelina Porridge:

1 cup Dunany Farm Spelt Berries
1 cup Kilbeggan Porridge Oats
4 cups of Goats Milk (or cows milk) – we used Michael Finnegan’s milk
2 Tbsp Camelina Oil
1/2 cup of Apple Juice – we used Mark
Jenkinson’s from Cockagee Cider
1 tbsp Honey-we used our own honey
Pinch of salt

To serve:
Drizzle some Camelina, Honey and Big Red Kitchen’s Raspberry and Vanilla jam over your hot porridge and Enjoy.

Method :
Soak the spelt berries in cold water over night. In the morning, drain the spelt berries and boil them for 45 mins. Add all your ingredients including the spelt berries into a pot and simmer
for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. And Serve!

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Check out Boyne Valley Food Series for more events.

Melissa xx

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Coole Swan Chocolate & Coffee Muffins

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I posted this last year and will continue to post it every year until people GET IT RIGHT!

Sorry, there’s no green food or bacon and cabbage at The Glen House today, there is however, great local Irish produce (and stew for tea)! It’s St. Patrick’s Day today and all around this tiny little world millions of people will be celebrating the guy that got rid of all the snakes. That pretty much sums it up in a nut shell, oh, and he marked the arrival of Christianity here too.

Last week the lovely people at Coole Swan sent me a gift box containing all sorts of Coole Swan goodies. Coole Swan was born by blending the finest Single Malt Irish Whiskey with White Belgium Chocolate and Fresh Cream. Coole Swan is 100% natural and is now regarded as the world’s most delicious tasting Irish Cream Liqueur. The guys are based on a real farm in the Boyne Valley; their cows produce the fresh dairy cream and their grain is used for the whiskey.

image Along side sample of the gorgeous liqueur were some great little recipe books with ideas for afternoon tea and other scrumptious treats. I’m making some of their Coole Swan Chocolate and Coffee muffins to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Ingredients: 2015-03-17-11-03-30_deco 300g Self Raising Flour

275g Caster Sugar

300g Soft Butter

2 Tablespoons of Coole Swan Ground Coffee

40g Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

6 Eggs

2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract

150ml Coole Swan

100g Chocolate Chips

Method:

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.

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In a mixing bowl add all the ingredients except the Coole Swan and chocolate chips and combine.

image Add the Coole Swan slowly to form a smooth batter, then add the chocolate chips. 2015-03-17-11-06-19_decoDivide the batter into muffin cases and bake in a preheated oven for 18-20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.

These are gorgeous little treats, for a very special day. Happy St Patrick’s Day!

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Coole Swan Muffins

Melissa xx

Boyne Appétit Gala Dinner

Last Friday saw the launch of the 2015 Boyne Valley Food series, as part of the Boyne Valley conference. Spread across the counties of Meath and Louth, the Boyne Valley encompasses world renowned heritage sites including the World Heritage Site at Bru na Boinne, the Battle of the Boyne site, Trim Castle and Mellifont Abbey. To me, the area is beautiful; green and lush, the way you’d expect Ireland to be and crammed full of sites and ruins. I have my favourite foodie destinations and local artisan products, but never before had I realised just how much my little part of the world had to offer.

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Boyne Valley Food Series

The evening was introduced by distinguished food and hospitality writer Georgina Campbell; she explained that “food tourism has huge potential” and that the Boyne Valley region has “history and mystery” on its side as it looked to the future. However she urged that more interest was needed from cafes, pubs, hotels and restaurants in order to showcase the wonderful produce to the public.

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Georgina Campbell

She praised Chef Jean Michel Chevat from the CityNorth Hotel on creating a menu that featured:

Slane Bake; my cute local bakery who do yummy breads and gorgeous tarts!

Blast and Wilde; winners of Supreme Champion at the Blás na hÉireann 2014 Awards.

Newgrange Gold; who have an amazing smoked oil launching soon (watch this space…)

Morgans Fine Fish; who have been in business for over 150 years!

Kerrigans Mushrooms; they do loose fresh mushrooms, pre-packed fresh mushrooms, value added ready to cook mushroom products, sliced mushrooms, customised mixes, exotic and organic mushrooms…

Burke’s Farm; makers of delicious Jersey milk ice cream and sorbets (and my new best friends)!

The Whole Hoggs; who keep the very rare breed of Irish Grazer, making their own sausages, rashers and rather yummy pudding!

Boyne Grove Fruit Farm; based in Drogheda, county Louth

Derrycamma Farm; Located just outside Castlebellingham, they grow wheat , barley, oats and oilseed rape using eco till techniques

Meade Potatoes; producers of potatoes, fruit, vegetables and flowers.

The Oriel Sea Salt Company; “located on one of the world’s most beautiful and mesmerizing coastal headlands with the mountains of Mourne in the distance. This is the actual birthplace of Ireland and it must be seen to be believed”.

Sheridan’s Cheese Company; makers of cheese, chutney and handmade crackers

Glyde Farm Produce; producers of Bellingham Blue Cheese.

Boyne Valley Goat Farm; producers of Boyne Valley Blue Cheese

Lannléire Honey; locally produced from the natural flora of county Louth by native Irish honey bees.

Chez Emily; The couverture chocolate used is from Belgium and is a high quality chocolate that contains only cocoa butter. No substitutes or additives are used in the chocolate in place of the cocoa butter and this gives the chocolate a creamy mellow flavour, a shiny appearance and a snappier snap!

Coole Swan Superior Cream Liqueur; Coole Swan was born by blending the finest Single Malt lrish Whiskey with White Belgium Chocolate and Fresh Cream.

Harvest Group

Slane Castle Whiskey; a small batch, premium blend of Irish single malt and grain whiskeys which are made and matured in the traditional Irish style that has remained largely unchanged for hundreds of years.

Bru; The philosophy of the brewery is to produce not only great tasting Irish craft beer, but that they are also 100% naturally brewed and chemical free.

Olivia Duff officially launched the Boyne Valley Food Series 2015 by inviting producers and restaurateurs to tell their stories and promote their businesses. Over the past couple of years over 50 food related businesses have come together to hold events over the course of the Summer months.

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Olivia Duff

So on to the evening itself; there was a Pre-Dinner Drinks Reception with Stameen Farm Apple Juice, Dan Kelly’s Cider, Red Headed Ale, Coole Swan, Bru and Slane Castle whiskey. It was a first outing for Harvest Brewhouse Red Headed Ale, the drinks were from the first barrel of beer to be produced!

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Locally produced drinks

The drinks were accompanied by extremely tasty (I sooooo wanted more) canapés;

Spinach and Boyne Valley Blue Cheese served with cranberries

Feta Cheese, Sundried tomato and pesto

Whole Hogg Sausages in Brioche served with sour cream

Morgan’s Fine Fish mini Salmon bagels with onion marmalade

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Canapés

To say that I was excited by the time we actually sat down for dinner is an understatement! The room was beautifully decked out, and throughout the evening blasts of the Corrs and Riverdance could be heard. To start us off, we had a selection of freshly baked breads from Slane Bake with Newgrange Gold oils and Blast and Wilde butters. All three producers are dear to my heart, so I knew I’d enjoy picking away (and I did)!

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Amuse Bouche

The starter was an assiette of Irish salmon, beetroot gravadlax, ballotine, seaweed roulade from Morgans Fine Fish. It was simply stunning; so fresh and light that it convinced me that I’d be well able to munch my way through the next six courses!

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Starter

Now I’m not a soup fan and I’m not a mushroom fan, so I wasn’t really looking forward to the next course… However, the Kerrigan’s mushroom soup with mushroom wontons was delicious. It was smooth and rich and beautifully accompanied by Slane Bake breads and Blást Wild Irish Garlic & Pesto butter.

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Soup

What came next was the highlight of my night, Burke’s farm blood orange sorbet. The refreshing treat held the amazing flavour of the seasonal fruit really well. I immediatley jumped onto their Facebook page to beg for a 50 litre tub!

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Sorbet

The main courses consisted of braised pork belly, black pudding, Bellingham blue cheese, sweet potato fondant and a bittersweet sauce, (produced by The Whole Hoggs, Dan Kelly’s Cider, Glyde Farm and Meade Potatoes). Or a pan fried cod, crab risotto, spring onions, bisque sauce produced by Morgans Fine Fish. Both mains were served with farm fresh carrots, cabbage and swede and baby roasters from Meade Potatoes. The majority of guests opted for the pork belly (as I did), and it didn’t disappoint. I loved the black pudding which seemed to have a hint of cumin through it, which cut through the rich pork belly perfectly.

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Main Courses

The dessert was a slightly warm coconut rice pudding, exotic fruits, with Burke’s Farm bitter chocolate sorbet. The rice pudding was almost set like a cake and was complimented perfectly by mango and pineapple along with the dark, bitter chocolate. As a fellow guest commented, it had a slight “Bounty flavour” about it.

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Dessert

With bowls cleared away, a board of local cheeses was produced; Boyne Valley Blue, Bellingham Blue and Glebe Brethan were served with Sheridan’s crackers and chutney and Lannléire honey.

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Cheeses

Finally, there was tea and coffee along with chocolates by Chez Emily. These little petit fours were just fabulous, I’ll definitely be visiting the local shop.

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Petit Fours

As if all that weren’t quite enough, there was a final round of Coole Swan. I must admit that I’d never tasted the liqueur before last Friday night, how did I miss out on it? As their little card says “Chocolate for pleasure, Coole Swan forever”, agreed!

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Digestif

It was an unforgettable evening; I’m extremely proud to live in the Boyne Valley region, with its rich heritage and history and its magnificent produce.

Melissa xx