Thursday 29 August 2013

50th Food Festival?

Here we are, then, all quiet again on site after having just dropped our latest group of visitors back to Knock Airport. It is always lovely to have good friends stay and enjoy the place and these had the added plus-point of it being a chance for us all to celebrate a 'significant' birthday together for Liz. These were long-term and very best friends from the Faversham days, Diamond and her husband John who you may recall were married in Greece recently around the famous "Happy Webbing" cake and not-quite-so-long-term friend, Mazy-Lou.

This, rather superbly, brought together three ladies who are amongst the best cooks we know, so the holiday event was always likely to turn into a foodie extravaganza and so it proved with everybody chipping in marvelous recipes and some beautiful eating. John and I were reduced to 'service and supply' roles and largely evicted from the kitchen but you can hardly complain about being asked to gather and prep veg', make 'tay', wash and dry up, lay tables, chop wood etc when you are being fed and 'watered' so handsomely, can you?

A HUGE thank you too, to Mentor Anne and Simon on the 'supply' side in this case by giving us a gorgeous haunch of venison. We gather they had tried it and found venison too 'gamey' for their tastes but it was definitely a case of 'their loss is our gain'. Thank you very much, A+S! The venison was just one in a series of superb meals coming, in this case, as "Roast Venison in Red Wine Gravy" - the meat was marinaded in olive oil, peppercorns, thyme, juniper berries, red wine and orange peel for 36 hours. The gravy is similar but has redcurrant jelly and beef stock.

Dessert on that occasion came from Mazy who tried us out on a new recipe as a birthday cake, a chocolate mousse 'Genoise' sponge, this one off page 453 of Darina Allen's Ballymaloe Cookery Course (pub Kyle Cathie). Genoise sponge, in case you did not know is one used in many French gateaux recipes. It was a great success and we have plenty of it left over. Diamond did her gorgeous mashed spuds. All veg were from the garden, of course.

This quality and effort set the standard for the visit and has us remembering it as a Food Festival which will be hard to top. Other days saw us taking on an enormous roast pock shoulder and an elabourate cheese board which included Cooleeny (Tipperary Brie), Cashel Blue, a goat's cheese and a Crozier Blue as well as the Camembert, Cheddar. There was a superb coq-au-vin which featured our 'late' 8-ball Sussex rooster, "Son of William" and a delightful, genius sticky-toffee pudding with caramel sauce.

Breakfasts were light and 'roll your own' yogurt and toast style affairs except for the final morning when we have now established a good tradition of sending folk off to their planes or cars with a belly full of "Irish Fry" - sausages, rashers, white pudding, black pudding, Mazy's scrambled eggs, beans, mushrooms and 'tay' or proper coffee. Even the 'down-times' and non-special lunches were rendered a bit 'foodie' - one day we had cold pork sandwiches, but the bread was actually special rolls (more like individual loaves) and Mazy knocked up a delicious sweet spicy BBQ sauce to smear on them.

In between all this food there was plenty of time for catching up with old friends, relaxing, enjoying the 'farm' and the livestock and sipping the occasional wine or Bloody Mary (or indeed Bushmills). There were outings to local towns and to Knock Shrine and Basilica. John loves chopping kindling and I was more than happy to let him work away - I now have a big Curver bucket and 2 coal sacks full of neatly chopped and lengthed kindling wood. We had a play at the pick-axe earth bank. He also come with me on the dog walks. Diamond fell in love with the geese and chickens and was fascinated to see that the chooks take themselves off to bed as it gets dark, while you have to shepherd the geese home to their night time quarters. Our only regret was that firm local friend John Deere Bob did not drop by. He is busy with 2nd cut silage and bale carting. The visitors had heard so much about him and Diamond met him last time she was over so we had hoped to get everyone together for a chat but it was not to be.

And so, another successful and very enjoyable bit of 'hosting' comes to an end and peace returns to the 'farm' disturbed only by the crowing of William, cheeping of Hubbard chicks, baa-ing of lambs, honking of geese, roar and clang of a nearby silage baler and the busy hum of the fridges as they try to keep the gourmet and bountiful left-overs in fit condition... you know how it is. We will not have to shop or cook for a while.

1 comment:

Anne Wilson said...

Glad you enjoyed the venison.