This week our Fáilte Ireland Commis Chef students were given a great opportunity to head down to Wicklow to meet some fantastic food producers and food heroes.
Our first stop took us through the Glen of the Downs, along the scenic route to The Brooklodge Hotel & Macreddin Village.
Known as a Food Village, Macreddin features a variety of venues that are onsite that not only have excellent menu options, but also free-range, organic and wild food choices too.
Greeted by BrookLodge owner Evan Doyle, it was fascinating to wander through the grounds to see how self-sustainable the hotel and restaurants were.
A member of Euro-toques, Evan has hosted the National Food Forum for many years and has been hugely influential in the Slow Food Movement in Ireland.
He has a real love for real, organic food and his restaurant, The Strawberry Tree, is the only certified organic restaurant in Ireland, with a daily-changing menu that captures and reflects the seasons.
Our students got a sneak-peek into the pantry and were generously guided through what The Strawberry Tree had to offer, from flavoured vinegars, to dried herbs and berries, to cured meats and essences. It was a real, dream pantry!
The wild foods that they use in the restaurant are freshly foraged by the chefs on the lanes and in the fields around Macreddin.
Untouched by the fumes from the roads, they capture the best of the wild – what a life!
Nestling down in The Strawberry Tree, we were treated to a private Wild Food Masterclass from Evan, Clothilde Walenne and Head Chef James Kavanagh.
With a stunning display of preserved wild foods in front of them, the students were in awe as they tasted and smelled food that for some, were a completely fresh experience for them.
Sitting in The Orchard Café, the students relaxed and got to taste some of the delightful produce that BrookLodge has been creating.
From lightly smoked salmon, to delicate macarons, we were treated like Kings and Queens.
A beautiful venue, and beautiful food.
Waving “goodbye” to BrookLodge and in admiration of their surroundings, we hopped back onto the bus and made our way to Delgany.
Master Butchers based in Delgany, Farrelly’s Butchers was founded in 1958 by Anthony Farrelly Snr and run today by his sons Anthony Jr. and Padraig.
Practicing a simple philosophy of mixing traditional knowledge, master craftsmanship and local produce with constant innovation and outstanding quality, what stands out the most about these gentlemen is their charming nature and hilarious sense of humour!
The Farrellys are licenced to slaughter their own sheep and cattle, including local organic animals, which Anthony selects each week from local farms.
“We strive to provide meat of the utmost quality and flavour”, they say, “local and Irish wherever possible which is butchered and treated with respect the way our father taught us”.
Intrigued by the meat around them, the students had many questions to ask, and it was so wonderful to see how open the Farrellys were about their methods and produce.
A trip to remember for sure!
They had an absolutely brilliant time and came out of their visits brimming with knowledge and enthusiasm. We hope to visit them both very soon.
Farrelly’s of Delgany
Number: 01 2874211