Tuesday, November 30, 2010

From Sunburst to Goatsbridge -Charlie;s diary

This is a diary kept my my good friend on his first visit to goatsbridge this October. Lets hope we do not loose the majic we have here in Ireland. I think we will always have a lot to offer.
charles has kindly allowed me to publish his first day here.

Sunburst Sally
Day 1: International Local Food Tour
Day 1:

Arrived in Dublin, Ireland at 8:30 AM. Passports stamped we are ready to take on the Day. All 7 of us were collected at the Airport by our Gracious Host, Mag Kirwen of Goatsbridge Trout Farm, and her trusted associate Billy. After trying to get into the driver’s side of her van, we make our way towards Thomastown down the N9 Motorway. On our one and half hour Journey to Goatsbridge, the similarities between Sal and Mag are uncanny. Her phone is constantly ringing: she is talking business, taking orders, relaying trout orders to her Husband Ger, making final adjustments for Savour Kilkenny, arranging child care for their four beautiful children and in between she is planning our itinerary.
We arrive at Goatsbridge famished and tired. Mag immediately turns me loose in her kitchen, as this is a Monday, one of her busiest days. I am totally excited about the prospect of cooking some true Irish goodies. I put together a breakfast of Rashers, Sausages, White Pudding, scrambled eggs, bread, tea and coffee. I managed to fill the entire house up with smoke. I'll blame it on Jet Lag.

Energized we headed to take a tour of Jerpoint Abbey. The Abbey is within walking distance of Goatsbridge, but I do not recommend walking. It is beautiful country with Sheep, Cattle, and wild blackberries on the way. But it is also a very busy, narrow two lane road with no sidewalk.

Once we arrive at the Abbey we are saddened to learn that admission is cash only. We have yet to convert anything to cold hard Euros. We are not discouraged because walking around the outside we are in awe of the centuries old stone. We marveled at the engineering of this beautiful structure and took many photographs, and had a little fun too. On the walk back we decided to explore a dirt road and discovered a railroad Bridge that made a nice photo opportunity.

Once back at Goatsbridge, I try unsuccessfully to stay awake. I am enjoying the warm Irish Sunshine that is abundant in Mag and Ger's House. When I awake I learn that I am missing a tour of the farm. I arise with a new found vigor and join the group as they are visiting the new processing facility that is being constructed. Once completed, the new processing facility will provide them the much needed space to meet the increased demand for their Premium Irish Trout.

After the tour, we are treated to a homemade lasagna, good bread and wine. The lasagna was a meatier less saucy version than what I am used too, but it was delicious. 3 plates delicious. With a full belly and content spirit, I head to bed for some much needed sleep.
This is just Day One and I am already in love with the country, the people and the food!

Friday, November 19, 2010

TV comes to town !!

Last week we had a visit from the Nationwide team much to the excitement of my four kids. The day started with the team filming our chaotic morning ritual although the kids were unbelievably cooperative for a change.
Helen McInernie was a pet and we spent at least 6 hours looking at the finer details of our operation here. They say 1 hour of filming translates into 1 minute of air time.
We are looking forward to our 5 minutes of fame tonight on Nationwide at 7 o clock.
As if that wasn’t too much excitement for one week TV3 came yesterday to do a short profile for Bank of Irelands who will show it as part of their involvement in Enterprise week starting Monday. Alas the kids were not needed this week but my seven year old has now decided she will no longer like to be a fish farmer but feels TV is for her!!
Tune in folks.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Around the world in 80 days-We built a factory !

It is all about being in the right place at the right time. We realised a long time ago our fish handling facilities did not meet our new found demand for trout. We had spent a long time looking at the various possibilities to solve this issue and I am glad to say that project was completed on the 11th November 2010.
I was down in Clonakility on a lovely sunny day in early August when the big announcement was made that BIM were funding projects after a long battle with the EU. Unfortunately for 95% of the industry Salmon farmers and business in SAC regions were not eligible for this support.
Our application went in on 20th August and we started the project the following Monday. I have faced many challenges in my life to date: toilet training, first tooth, early school days, adolescence, first kiss, college exams, marriage, mother-in-laws, childbirth, parenting, and now old age! No challenge could compare to the mammoth task ahead.
We had 80 days to complete this building from the day the application went in but would not hear until well into the project if we were to get funding or not. It was a big risk but I knew the Gods were with us as always and we decided to take the risk.
Big thanks to all those who put their shoulder to the wheel .I have to give a special mention to the Foley Construction brothers. They are a family of 5 men and I must say it was like 7 brides for 7 brothers as times. Actually some of them are looking for a bride and I would recommend them highlybecause nothing is a problem and they could turn their hand at anything.
The job is complete and now we must fish on.
Nothing will stop us now!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tipperary Food Extravaganza

I spent an absolutely fantastic evening g at the Food Extravaganza in Clonmel last week. As you can see from the above panel I was in very good company indeed. The idea was very novel and I think it was a great way to communicate to the outside world the great work being done in Tipperary to promote the local artisan food movement. From my point of view I think it was a good opportunity to meet some of the food producers I have learned to admire over the last few years and I also think it is very important to share ideas and hopefully work closely with them in the future.
Hats off to all involved but make no mistake we in Kilkenny will be back next year for the all Ireland hurling final. They have started on their diet of trout already!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bloom brought to you by bord bia

It was another first for Goatsbridge when we participated in Bloom in the Phoenix Park on 27th of May this year. Although sales of my products were important in order to cover the cost of the stand it was’t my primary objective for being there. I could not bring my fresh fish along so I made up lots of smoked trout quiche and pates, products that we hope to bring to market sometime in the New Year.
It was my first time working directly with Bord Bia as they have been given the unenviable job of promoting fish here in Ireland as well as abroad. You may have noticed a new Bord Bia campaign headed by Doaithi O Shea encouraging people to eat more fish .As Martin Shanahan tells us “no skin, no bones ,no problem”.
It was great to meet @icanhascook, @babaduck, @bibliocook, @SHearnesmith ,@smorgasblog @dailyspud and of course the young and dynamic Donal Skeehan. These food bloggers are the new generation of food writers and I just love to dip in and out of their blogs keeping us up to date on the latest food trends. I had to laugh to myself when I realized @dailyspud was a woman so I guess you can say it is always good to put a face to a name. Donal Skeehan is the new up and coming Jamie Oliver and I look forward to watching him make his way to the top. Check out his good mood food blog.
On Monday evening after an exhausting 5 days it was time to make the return journey to Kilkenny. If I am to be honest I did’t have time to miss my family until that moment and I could’t wait to get home expecting a welcoming party at the door.Oh how they must have missed their mother. At 9 o clock I walked up the stairs to say good night only to be welcomed by my youngest with a look of bewilderment and astonishment on her little 4 year old face. She looked at me as she went into the loo for her ritual last minute wee wee and stopped momentarily and said “Hi Mum. Aine (my 7 year old going on 15!!) told me you were dead.” On she walked to do her business and that was that.

Just shows how Bloom,trout,food bloggers,market research ,award wining gardens were insignificant in her life. At least her mother was alive.!!!!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Good Food Ireland

Good Food Ireland is a beacon for all lovers of good food. It is a network of places that make, sell or serve good food. Goatsbridge Trout Farm joined Good food Ireland a number of months ago and attended its first Good food Ireland event on 18th May in Dublin. It was a showcase workshop for the Irish travel trade .I did not have the privilege of meeting the founder Margaret Jeffares till that night and she certainly left a lasting impression.
We arrived well ahead of time for a change because I was travelling with an experienced Good food Ireland member who informed me it was,t the kind of event to be late for. We began to set up our table with our bite size tasters of Thai fish cakes and hot smoked pate canapes. My friend and expert chef Rosanne O Brien came along to help me and she brought her very colorful purple chefs coat which I admired. I had been warned before hand to purchase a Good Food Ireland Apron and shirt so we were all set.
Just as the room was beginning to fill up with the other members I got a tap on the shoulder to be met by the one and only Margaret Jeffares. She looked exactly as I had imagined, dressed in a very smart black and white suit. She had a lovely warm and friendly way about her and introduced herself and welcomed us to what she hoped would be the first of many Good Food Ireland events
. It was only then that the fun started. She basically reorganized our table explaining to both Rosanne and I that the stainless Steele bowls we were using did not represent the ethos of Goatsbridge as a food producer connected to our heritage and the land we were farming. They were replaced with beautiful rustic bowls from the very kind Burlington kitchen staff. Margaret spoke about standards before she striped Roseanne of her purple chefs coat and replaced it with a crisp white coat with the very bold Good Food Ireland crest. That done she wished us well and was on her way to the next newcomer.
Moments later as the room filled up with tour operators from all over the world I looked around the room to see a sea of black, white and green Good food Members working together to highlight the best local and artisan food of our island.It was only then that I truly understand Margaret,s words and the strength of people working together to promote the brand.
She had a good laugh after the event as I bade her farewell and told her she was just like my mother who is always right too.!! What an amazing experience.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Big Sister

Just thought the other day as I sat in a meeting with a number of kilkenny food producers and my 'big sister ' how things never really change. I grew up in a large family and have an older brother who was 2 years older and a sister who was 1 year older. My mother had 7 more kids after me.
Miriam was always the big sister. I remember clearly having to give Miriam a lift down the first flight of stairs to the toilet each night. Louise and I would cross our hands to make a seat and Queen Miriam would climb aboard. She always promised a return trip back but needless to say that never happened.
Miriam is still the big sister as she puts me in my place when I make a ridiculous suggestion during one of our many meetings planning the Kilkenny Food Trail. She had just left her very successful career in journalism to pursue a career as a pr consultant. You may be wondering how on earth we got so much media presence in the last few months and continue to do so. It all boils down to the genius that is Miriam Donohoe, my big sister.
So when you read our spread in the Food and Wine magazine or hear Damien O Riley talking about Goatsbridge on his Saturday morning show think of Miriam Donohoe. She can do it for you too.

MD Media
Miriam Donohoe