Food news: Bord Bia turns trendsetter
Bord Bia has undertaken some serious research aimed at bringing global, high-end food and drink inspiration to Irish food and drink manufacturers seeking to develop commercially successful innovations. In other words, in looking at trends around the world, the Irish Food Board is asking whether it is possible to predict what the pulled pork and salted caramel equivalents of 10 years from now are going to be.
In conducting its research into flavours, ingredients and cooking techniques, the team at Bord Bia spoke to chefs at some of the world's top restaurants, including Tom Sellers of Restaurant Story in London, Jordi Artal of Cinc Sentits in Barcelona, Martha Ortiz of Dulce Patria in Mexico City and Anthony Myint of Mission Chinese.
Bord Bia has identified a number of key trends: All Natural; Constraint Breeds Creativity; Storytelling; The Personality Behind the Plate; Beyond Taste - Playing with Perception to Delight the Senses; and Adaptive Cuisine - Diner-Centric Dishes.
We are already seeing the influence of some of these in Irish food. The term 'local and seasonal' may have become a tick-box cliché on restaurant menus, but some of the world's best chefs say that by making heroes of ingredients naturally found in their locale - even in the gardens of their own restaurants - and by allowing seasonality and freshness to dictate their menus, they are able to elevate ingredients to world-class cuisine.
John Wyer of Forest Avenue (pictured) in Dublin is at the forefront of the new generation of Irish chefs working in this way, and the 'Mom and Pop' restaurant that he runs with his wife, Sandy, is an example of this modern restaurant sensibility. The décor is low-key and minimal, and the simple plating allows the ingredients to shine. So determined are the Wyers to minimise waste that, as well as pickling and fermenting, buying in whole animals that they break down in the restaurant's kitchen - and using turbot heads and oxidised wine to make umami-rich sauce - they have started to make their own soap using the rendered beef fat generated by the kitchen.
This is still a work in progress, explained Wyer at a recent presentation in Bord Bia's smart new Thinking House. He advises customers visiting the restaurant who are encouraged to help themselves to bars of this house-made soap to use it only on their hands, rather than on their whole bodies, lest they suddenly find themselves very alluring to passing dogs.
The barn at Cloughjordan Community Farm in Co Tipperary burned down recently and the community lost equipment, hay and 1.2 tonnes of potatoes. You can donate at gogetfunding.com/cloughjordanfarm/
GROW WITH DARINA
Darina Allen's inspirational new book, Grow Cook Nourish, which is published on Friday (Kyle Cathie, £30), is described as "a kitchen garden companion in 500 recipes". It's a practical guide to growing, cooking and preserving vegetables, herbs and fruits. Time to start planning.
CHAMPAGNE TEA AT THE CASTLE
The Aileen Plunkett Afternoon Tea will be served in the elegant Van Stry ballroom of Luttrellstown Castle at two sittings on Sundays from October, and on weekdays in December. From €45, or €57 with a glass of Veuve Clicquot; (01) 8609620.