The Burren region is a marvel of nature where a great bounty of lamb, beef, fruits and vegetables emerge from the cracks, crevices and valleys of the limestone.
Flanked on the west by the magnificent Wild Atlantic, an abundance of fish and seafood is also assured. A further layer of intrigue lies in the fact that it is the practice of an ancient system of farming (winterage), unique to the Burren area, that maintains the appearance and fertility of this landscape for this and future generations.
In recent years, the Burren’s rich and ancient food culture has expanded through the emergence of many award-winning chef-led restaurants and high-quality artisan food producers, as well as an increase in practising market gardeners and growers.
Once again, The Fertile Rock is emerging as a vital component in maintaining a thriving rural community. The Burren Food Trail members have put together two celebratory events this year where locals and tourists had an opportunity to mingle, dine and discover the wonderful produce of the Fertile Rock. Each event consisted of a restaurant style long dining table at selected venues to celebrate local, seasonal, artisan, organic, wild and homemade produce.
Following on from the first Long Table evening in Teach Cheoil Ennistymon in June, the second of these series of events took place at Gregan’s Castle Hotel in Ballyvaughan last Thursday 21st of November, the 60 available spaces sold out within 2 weeks of its announcement. The evening started outside in the exquisite lounge with pre-dinner drinks.
After welcoming the lucky guests that got their hands on tickets, Simon Haden and the team at Gregan’s got to work to deliver 5 amazing starters that consisted of: Fillet of Smoked Burren Smoked Salmon, Ballyvaughan Apple, Horseradish & Brown Bread, St Tola Goats Curds, Confit Garlic & Homemade Sourdough Bread, Flaggy Shore Oysters & Seaweed Vinegar, Co. Clare Game Pate, House Pickles & Crusty Bread, Warm Flaggy Shore Oyster & Porter Dashi that the guests eagerly dug into.
For main course, the choice was either a celebration of Gleninagh Burren Lamb was served including Grilled Cutlets, Slow Cooked Shoulders, Spiced Legs & Spare Ribs or wild Irish Monkfish, stuffed with Garden Herbs, Capers & Kelp with Shore Herbs & Resting Juices. Main Courses were accompanied by Moyhill Potatoes, Rosemary & Garlic, Russian Kale & Chard, Brussel Sprouts & Pickled Red Cabbage, Beetroot & Raisin Slaw and local salad leaves.
Desserts consisted of an Irish Cheese Board using local cheeses, Warm Sticky Toffee Pudding with hot custard, Blackberry Roulade or Ballyvaughan Apple Crumble.
Suppliers included St Tola Goats Cheese, Burren Smokehouse, Aillwee Cave (Burren Gold Cheese), Flaggy Shore Oysters, Gleninagh Burren Lamb, Burren Fine Wine & Foods, Garrihy Seafoods, Moyhill Farm, Gregan’s Castle, Gourmet Game, JJ Corry, Liberty Wines, La Rouse & Classic Drinks.
“This was a truly memorable event. The presentation of the food was stunning and the fact that the event was hosted by one of our proud members made the evening very special. I think it was inspiring – we really can be very proud of our food heritage and the wonderful creativity of the growers, producers and chefs of the Burren region and indeed throughout Ireland.” Commented Jarlath O’Dwyer from the Burren Ecotourism Network
“The event follows on from the recent launch of our new book, Burren Dinners which features mainly the Burren Food Trail members who’s foods were enjoyed at the event, including the great chef Robbie McCauley. The book which is now available from our members throughout the Burren is selling very well and is helping us to create stronger awareness of our great food story here in the Burren.” he added
Photo: Members of the Burren Ecotourism Network from left Ciara O’Halloran – Flaggy Shore Oysters, New Quay, David Quinn – Hylands Burren Hotel, Ballyvaughan, Kathleen Connole- Burren Fine Wine & Food, Ballyvaughan, Eva Hegarty- Burren Free Range Pork, Kilfenora, Simon Haden – Gregans Castle Hotel, Ballyvaughan and Karen Connole of the Michael Cusack Centre, Carron.