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Grandmothers Day – Cancellation

The Grandmothers Day event at OOOBY store 25th April is cancelled.

The Sugarloaf Convivium was pleased to host an organoleptic assessment of traditional black and white puddings on the evening of Wednesday 14th April in the Buttery Café, Newtownmountkennedy.

The puddings had been prepared by Ed Hick, using traditional methods – fresh blood was used to make the black pudding, and the white pudding was prepared using both red and green offal. These traditional puddings were tasted alongside two shop-bought, factory-made brands, in order to compare and contrast. Apple juice and fresh apples were provided as palate cleansers and to complement the puddings.

Ed provided notes on his own assessment of the puddings, while explaining the methods used in preparing them. Meanwhile, the attendees were invited to examine the appearance, smell, taste and texture of the puds, and to take notes on their own organoleptic assessments. Our own experiences of food can be intensely personal and vary greatly from person to person, and consequently the tasting notes reveal a spectrum of results.

The texture of the traditional white pudding was universally described as soft, smooth, creamy and silky, but the analyses of its taste and smell varied from spicy, peppery and toasty, to meaty, fatty and “liverish,” right through to  one person’s “slightly fruity!” Many tasters noted a deep, lingering, peppery finish on the tongue.

The black pudding was found to be coarser and more grainy than the white pudding (with several descriptions including crumbly, crunchy and chewy) with a distinctive metallic blood smell (although one taster did compare the smell to “shoes”!) The taste of the black was described as nutty, spicy and peppery, with several attendees also picking up a delicate chocolately flavour. As the tasters got into their strides, a deeper analysis was revealed, with one taster even noting a resemblance to chai tea.

The industrially-prepared, shop-bought puddings were tasted next, and although tasting notes were not taken on these there were some notable comments made, mainly regarding the marked difference in appearance when compared to Ed’s puddings. The shop-bought puds were a blander colour and a much more uniform texture, with less obvious ingredients. It was also observed that a much higher salt content could be tasted.

The evening was wrapped up nicely with each attendee receiving rings of Ed’s black and white puddings to bring home. Many thanks to Claire and the Buttery Café for hosting the event, and to Ed for his expertise (and delicious puddings!)

Check out my Slide Show!

Fairytale of New Pork

 And so it came to be that two little Wicklow pigs reached the peak of their fattening. A glorious March Sunday was to see them get their final glimpse of Wicklow’s rounded hills.  Having feasted on local barley, mixed own grown vegetables and some farmhouse kitchen scraps, windfall apples and even a regular beer, the time had come for them to make the supreme sacrifice. Both gilts were seven months old, in rude health, well muscled and fit for the table!

 They were walked one at a time out of their ample yard into a small pen and quietly stunned and bled. The precious blood was all caught for some real puddings. So far so easy! The scalding tank had been purpose built for the job by M., with two gas burners hissing away underneath the water soon reached the critical temperature.

 At this point the hard work really started…. Once the hair started moving, the scrapers started scraping and flushed by the cleanliness of the initial strokes, took to the task with gusto. Scalding and scraping, scraping and shaving, shaving and singeing, and all the while rinsing. Gutted next and then split in two, soon enough there were four gleaming, steaming sides of excellently conformed pork hanging, cooling down slowly before being chilled.

The red and green offal was washed and prepared

Puddings first, then sausages, the slow roast of  a shoulder perhaps,  and then in a month’s time … let there be bacon!

 And they all fried happily ever after.

Bangers ‘n’ Beer

Twenty eight Sugarloafers found themselves elbow to elbow on a bitterly cold Thursday night, sipping beers and tasting sausages.

We kicked off with a wheat beer and it was matched with kettle fresh Münchener Weißwurst to give the evening it’s subtle start. These traditional Bavarian sausages were flavoured with pepper, lemon zest and a hint of ground mace.

Things got more robust quickly after that with a coarse cut grilled (Thank you, Bill!) Italian recipe Salsiccia, made with whole fennel seed and cayenne pepper. We paired these with a malty red beer.

Following on we had hot beechwood smoked Knackwurst, served directly out of the smokehouse, and we dived into the first of the evening’s stout! This stout was the lighter of the two, but only just!

Our last tasters were a double stout matched to cold smoked cured venison salami. The “Leann Folláin” stout has a lot going on… treacle, licorice, and toasted barley to mention a few.

Having sipped and scoffed all of the tasters, the remaining beer was divided out and everybody got a goodie bag of Bangers ‘n’ Beer to bring home. All beers were by The Carlow Brewing Company and tasting notes are available on request.