Second year Higher Certificate in Arts in Culinary Arts students had the pleasure of attending and meeting with some of Kerry and Corks finest purveyors of artisan produce and products on Wednesday 21/03/2012. First was a visit to internationally reputed, Lorge Chocolatiers based in Bonane, South Kerry see http://www.lorge.ie/. Ben Lorge - Proprietor and Chef du Chocolate - demonstrated the art of chocolate making, with insightful demonstrations of chocolate tempering and moulding. Prior to the demonstration, Ben delivered a lecture on the nature and make-up of chocolate, from types of Cocoa Bean to the best regions of the world for Cocoa bean growth to the average commodity price internationally.
They then proceeded to Manning's Food Emporium in Ballylickey, Co.Cork see
http://www.manningsemporium.ie/. Manning's delivered an exceptional display of local Cork cheeses, and with Mr. Manning himself there to discuss the delights of Cork cheese production, the students attained a greater understanding of the passion and love of cheese that we Irish have. Internationally, both within the professional culinary sector and the retail sector, Irish cheese has made its long awaited mark. The nature of the land, the environmental conditions and breed of cattle all play an integral part of the cheese making process, but the love of the production process is what gives Irish cheeses their distinctive character.
Satiated by the consumption of the glories of Cork cheese it was onward to
Schull and to learn about the idealistic life of an Irish farming family Gubeen is recognised as being one of the fore-runners of what we call today, artisan producers see http://www.gubbeen.com/. The cheese, and other Gubeen produce such as bacon, sausages, salamis and smoked products, have been manufactured there for over 30 years. Fingal, 3rd generation of the family business, spoke about the life-style and life-experince of growing up and working on the family farm. Cheese production was an essential component of the annual calendar so as to utilise the milk from the 200 head of cattle on the farm. Easy going, relaxed and receptive to student, and lecturer, queries, Fingal displays what Irish hospitality has come to mean. No question was unanswered and no element of the business was hidden or forbidden. Gubeen has expanded over the years into rearing key selected breeds of pigs for pork and bacon products, 2 smokehouses for both cheese and meat products, an array offree-range chickens, geese,
turkeys, and even a few peacocks, all alongside its original cheese production facilities. The students were mesmerised not only at the range of Gubeen products and produce, but also at the fact that essentially, and in essence, it is a working farm. After a tour of the cheese facility, the farm-yards, the pig pens, the smokehouses and the packaging area, Fingal arranged for a selection of Gubeen meats and cheeses for tasting for the group of 26 students and lecturers.
The student feedback on returning to Durrus was of immense satisfaction that they had the opportunity to have shared such a wonderful experience. Durrus provided us with a chance to relax and rest before our final destination - Blair's Cove Restaurant, http://www.blairscove.ie/home/.We had booked dinner for 6pm and true to the nature of the day we arrived at Blair's Cove at 5.55pm. Before us lay an evening of culinary delights, which was presented by Philippe and Sabine De Mey and their team of kitchen and service staff. A cold buffet selection to start was followed by main courses designed to stimulate and intrigue the palate. It must be said that, in particular, the duck was exceptional and showed ingenuity and panache as it was inspired by the French classic - Cassoulet. The meal was rounded off with a display of desserts from chocolate duo pudding to macaroons - all of which tasted of more! After teas and coffees it was time to return to Tralee.Culinary experiences are made by not only the food products consumed, but also by the people we meet and the people we share the experience with.