Archive for the ‘Evan’s Food Blogs’ Category

Turf Roasted Organic Beef Fillet

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

January, like every winter month is all about comfort foods, about real earthy cooking and about savouring those deep, dark winter flavours..this is what we are so good at doing in Ireland and this is what the Menu is about at this time of year in The Strawberry Tree.

Turf roasting, fits this season so well. The turf works ini the sam way as a salt crust does, protecting the food and keeping the moisture in. We first came up with this concept in The Strawberry Tree back in 1995. In the interim, we have developed so may varations, however all centre round this simple recipe and method.


1 kg Organic Beef Fillet

80g Brooklodge Organic Steak Rub

2 kg Flaked Turf, further ground with a rolling pin

50 ml Organic Rapeseed Oil


Portion the beef fillet into two 500g pieces, rub in the BrookLodge Steak Rub and put to one side. Heat a large frying pan with the rapeseed oil and seal the beef on all sides to a nice brown colour.

In a large roasting tray place enough of the moistened turf (about 2 cms) to line the bottom of the dish. Place both beefs on lengthways and cover with the rest of the turf, patting and pressing to form the shape of the meat. Preheat oven to 220C and roast for 20 min to 25 min.


When cooked, take out of the turf and rub off with some paper towel to take off most of the excess turf, carve and serve.


Is a wonderful, earthy and slightly smokey taste that really suits the beef. What you also get is a pink, juicy roast that allows you to brag about bringing true ‘Irish terroir’ to the kitchen. 


The Strawberry Tree Restaurant, 2013. Photo, courtesy Steve Ryan

Return to The BrookLodge Website

The Wild Primrose – ‘Springs Prima Donna’, and other Wild Leaves

Monday, May 14th, 2012

We like this time of year, there are welcome breaks in between the Big Annual Wild Food Harvests. The Wild Garlic has just, been reaped, and The Pantry is packed to the brim with our dark, glossy green pesto.

Now, we find ourselves just waiting for the bee’s to finish cross-pollinating The Elder Flower for the next large Wild Food Harvest, indeed it is virtually upon us. Room has been set aside in The Pantry for Elder Flower wine, champagne, cordial etc and our famous Elder Flower Fritters will do a ‘Ta Dah’ on The Strawberry Tree menu over the next few weeks.

However, this lull provides us with the opportunity to get out foraging along The Long Field for the sheer pleasure of it! All the Wild Greens are up, Wild Wood Sorrel, Penny Wort, Dandelion, Sheep Sorrel, Primrose Leaf as well as the Wild Flowers…The Wild Garlic Flower, Gorse Flower, early Herb Robert and our favourite, The Primrose.

Down on The Farm, the baby greens are not up yet. As with all farmers, Alan and Mark are very careful about when they go to plant their crops. The overall temperature of the soil and much more besides, results in the Farmer choosing the optimum time to sow.

Nature is reckless, though when it comes to Wild Foods. They are already starting to burst into full growth, it happens whenever She wants and with the hardier nature of wild greens…they arrive much sooner than the Farm Harvest.

So, Wild Greens and Wild Flowers are making welcome cameos all over The Strawberry Tree menu, whether as simple raw adornment with our Starters or Main Courses or as wild sauces, wild soups etc and The Wild Flowers have started to slip into our Dessert recipes too.

However, it is our simple Wild Green Salad, which we love best! This is an annual ‘show off’ moment. A ‘Menu Course’ that deserves a better name than just ‘A Middle’…this is a Course that makes a statement to our guests.

All The Wild Leaves, Wild Garlic flowers and Gorse flowers simply tossed in Kitty Colchesters Organic Rapeseed Oil, and topped with The Prima Donna of the Irish Spring, The Wild Primrose Flower. Its mild peppery and lettucy flavour needs no dressing. Just sprinkled and placed over the top and letting them shine, is enough for us!

Here are two of our Strawberry Tree recipes, where we show off the Wild Primrose.


The Strawberry Tree Wild Leaf Salad


1 Handful Wild Wood Sorrel

1 Handful Wild Penny Wort

1 Handful Wild Dandelion Leaf

1 Handful Wild Sheep Sorrel

.5 Handful Wild Primrose leaf

.5 Handful Wild Garlic Leaf

Quarter cup, Happy Heart, Irish Organic Rapeseed Oil


Simply toss these spring leaves with the rapeseed oil, no need to add seasoning; the lemony peppery taste of the sorrel and pennyworth combined with the pungent flavour of the wild garlic is enough to carry off this salad. Both The Primrose and The Dandelion are really easy for anyone to harvest, if your not sure about the Wild Greens, supplement your salad with some indoor-grown baby greens from your Green Grocer.


Finish to impress, toss in Wild Garlic flowers, Gorse Flowers, there’s lots out there! Finally, top off with lots of Wild Primrose Flowers.


The Strawberry Tree Wild Primrose Flower Jelly


100 Wild Primrose petals

100 Scented early Garden Rose Petals

600g Sugar

400 mls Water

2tsp Rose Water

Juice 2 Lemons


Put half of wild primrose flowers and all rose petals into a bowl. Sprinkle over half the sugar and crush into flowers, leave over night in the fridge. Pour over boiling water and infuse for a second night.

Strain, combine with lemon juice and remaining sugar, heat gently in a pan to dissolve sugar. Bring to rapid boil until setting point (3-5 minutes or 106 degrees). Remove. As it cools, stir in the rose water. Pour into sterilised Kilner Jars. Just before setting, fold in the remaining fresh primrose flowers, seal.


Finish with roast baby lamb either in the jus/gravy, finish as an accompaniment to a fresh goats cheese, with any white chocolate dessert or a light sweet mousse or blancmange.


Is a fabulous tinted jelly, great on its own, but perfect as a gift to your friends or family

Return to BrookLodge website

Celebrate – with your own homemade wine and bubbly as Wild Elderflower returns…

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

The Wild Foods year really starts to get into the swing, when Wild Elderflower arrives.

With recipes including Elderflower Champagne and Wine, the attached Wild Elderflower template includes everything you need to know about what it looks like, where to find it and pick it, and how to prepare and preserve it.

Return to BrookLodge website

Wild & Slow Work Shops PRE-REGISTRATION

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Well, with only two weeks to go to Wild&Slow2011, all things connected with this unique event are starting to fall into place….we hope!

Wild&Slow2011 is delighted to announce its comprehensive programme of  Wild&Slow WorkShops touching on twenty Wild Food WorkShops and spanning the two days  As always, please take time out to read and pass onto your email buddies!

Then all we need is for you to Complete this WorkShops Pre-Registration Form by putting an “X” against your the WorkShops (maximum of 5) that you would like to attend and fill in your contact details. Some WorkShops by their nature are limited to numbers. Although access cannot be guaranteed, Wild&Slow2011 require this information in order to maximise various WorkShop capacities. 

Please return this form ONLY to with the header subject ‘Wild&Slow2011, WorkShops’. Your tickets for accessing these WorkShops will be available from The Slow Food Ireland Cabin on the street at Wild&Slow2011. Tickets are priced at €5 daily, giving full access (numbers permitting) to all WorkShops on each day.

For more details of Wild&Slow and accommodation options in The BrookLodge, click HERE 

Return to BrookLodge website

Wild&Slow2011 is sponsored by:

Go Wild Foods Foraging – THIS WEEKEND!

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Hi All,

This is a great time of the year to go Wild Foods foraging, and attached are two pdf”s –  Wild Foods – Rowanberries and Wild Foods – Elderberries, which will help you enjoy this unique and rewarding pastime. They are designed for any ‘Joe Soap’ to use…. The ‘What it looks like’, the ‘How to find it’, the ‘Irish history behind it’, the ‘Traditional methods of preserving it’ and the recipes are all there.

You can keep the finished product for you, your friends and family through the dark winter months, or you can set-up a stall (or share one) at Slow Foods Ireland’s, Wild & Slow Festival 2011, will take place in Macreddin Village, Co. Wicklow on November 19th & 20th.

Presented by Slow Food Ireland and celebrating all that is wild in Ireland in a WinterFest Style Market, it will run from afternoon into crisp dark evening, complete with Wooden Stalls, the odd glass of mulled wine, wood burning braziers and roasted chestnuts – enough to keep everyone happy. In addition to the fantastic Wild Foods that will be on sale from the stallholders, there will be Wild Workshops, Tastings, Talks and Demonstrations…something to spark the interest of all.

Although the inaugural year of any event should be small and concise, all events need to think BIG….and so all hands are required to deck, for this Event.

So it’s a wonderful excuse for you and yours and any kids that you can roundup, to get out this weekend and start harvesting for Wild & Slow 2011.

There’s lots of info at 

Happy foraging and warmest regards


Return to BrookLodge website


Thursday, April 28th, 2011

The Players

Denis Healy is the Patriarch of organic vegetables in Ireland. A Founder stallholder at The Temple Bar Market and at The Macreddin Market, Denis has being providing superb chemical free vegetables since 1847 Indeed The Strawberry Tree could not survive without him. Denis is infectious and contagious and if you haven’t met him, you have to!

Jenny Young runs 170 organic acres at CastleFarm over the hills in Kildare with her partner Peter. They produce, well, just about everything organically…and produce it well. Not content with working 168 hours a week, they still find time to set up stall at Macreddin Market…they understand their innate need to trade and barter and banter and we understand them.

Eugene Giblin is our Backstage Man. Eugene’s team makes sure that the Hotel runs smoothly when it comes to all things maintenance related. And come every Market Day, our Backstage Man and his team provide the tabling, umbrellas, electricity connections and all the help that The Macreddin Market stallholders require…and much, much more

The Produce

Its something that we really don’t notice as we drive through our towns and villages…its just there! It has to be the most commonplace name in Ireland and it’s so familiar, that we take it for granted. There isn’t a town or perhaps a village in Ireland that doesn’t have an area titled, Market Street, Market Square or The Fair Green. Irish Fairs date right back to our Pagan Gods, specifically Lugh (or more so his mum who died of exhaustion after clearing the hills and vales of Ireland for agriculture) and it seems they have been doing a pretty good job in providing us with harvest for our Markets ever since. Indeed The Lughnasadh and The Auld Lammas Fairs were always the biggest Harvest Markets offering the opportunity to barter or exchange an individual’s harvest for the staple and occasionally the exotic.

And so from the Middle Ages to the present day, fairs and markets have brought together people and played an important part in shaping local society. Town met country, farmer met trader and the influences of the wider world were introduced into the local culture. The unmistakably Irish buzz and banter of the traditional fair has passed down through generations, leading to the modern farmers’ markets we see today.

Way back in our black and white days, when The Strawberry Tree was based in Killarney, we committed our energies to promoting ‘the fresh’, ‘the local’’, and ‘the seasonal’ – and what better way to showcase this than a traditional marketplace? Today we’re happily settled amongst the rolling Wicklow hills, and our Macreddin Market (now, one of Irelands longest running) is held on the first Sunday of every month. It celebrates our Irish ‘Growing Season’ and so begins in April, building gradually towards our own Harvest Festival, where we celebrate the finest autumn fare before we wind down in October. We’re still the only market in Ireland with ‘no charge’ to stallholders, and every single stall attending is wholly devoted to food and nothing else.

After a long winter, spring is finally… well, springing upon us once again, and as summer approaches, so do our Market days.

We like our Market Days! Because these are ‘Sunday’ Markets, so they’re more tasting, grazing and indulging, than mere shopping. We also like the ‘laid back’ afternoon jazz, the lazy beers in the apple orchard, and the goodly amount of sunshine that we seem to get, and that never goes unnoticed…no doubt provided by Lugh or his mum.

So if you find yourself liking this too, well then, we’ll see you on the first Sunday!


Spring 2011


Monday, November 29th, 2010


 Paul Pritchard runs The Organic Herb Company with Michael Martin; they produce a range of organic blended herbs and spices, and uniquely flavoured seed, spice and herb oils for The Strawberry Tree kitchens, The StoreRooms and other outlets.

Sri Pandalla arrived to The Lodge from Catering College in Switzerland in 2004. Sri, just about gets to every part of Macreddin during his working day and if you haven’t bumped into him, it means you’ve probably gone to bed too early!

Anna Gethings, well I’ve written about Anna on previous occasions, she totally controls the pastry section of the kitchen (truth be known, she controls much more!) Anna’s hand is so fine for Summer Desserts, but I’ve always felt that her Winter Puds and Festive Desserts are her forte.


 Long, long time ago, every year, well before we even yielded our harvest here on this Island…exotic foods like ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and cumin had already set off to Ireland from India and slow-travelled, swapped and traded through The Ottoman region picking up sultanas, raisins, coriander, cloves and more. This perfect way of preserving foods then slowed boated it’s way through the Mediterranean to Portugal, where the traders moved through Iberia and France swapping, trading and picking up, port, oranges, claret wines and Normandy cider, before arriving here in time to trade these exotic goods at our harvest markets.

It wasn’t by coincidence that these foods arrived here during the major autumn markets that once took place all around Ireland at harvest time. Harvest provided a bounty to us and gave us the means to trade for these treasures. These provided much needed winter foods during those dark months, and indeed luxuries for the wealthier homesteads…spices and exotics like Seville oranges and maybe claret. In return we traded dried beef, Limerick hams, salted fish, crop harvest and livestock. This trade then moved on down through Europe back to Turkey to start the annual food circle once more…this was the way we traded in the world as we knew it, remaining this way for so many generations that it became tradition. 

  And tradition is what it has become; we’ve put our own twist on ginger, in our cakes and our famous ginger biscuits. We’ve put our own uses to these dried grapes in our Barm Brack, Plum Pudding and Christmas Cake. All these we think as being typically Irish, and of course time has made them this. But now think about cloves in our hot whiskey, think about nutmeg on our late night warm milk, we took Seville oranges and now it’s ‘our traditional Irish marmalade’, we brought in Port and served it hot with sugar. We mulled our Bordeaux red wine with cinnamon and other spices.

 We’ve given these once exotic foods an Irish twist…show me an Indian that would understand ground nutmeg on warm milk, or an Iberian that would tolerate their port being heated, or indeed a Turk that could comprehend that we boil their dried fruits into what we call Plum Pudding. Nonetheless that’s what we did, we applied our take and our cooking methods and now we have integrated these foods into our traditional cooking. These perfectly preserved foods arrived to us in Ireland for hundreds of years, every year by slow-road and slow-boat…this undoubtedly was the original SlowFood, as we know it today.

 And today Paul carries on this tradition and imports these, now, quintessentially ‘Irish’ Spices for the kitchens of Macreddin and The StoreRooms. Sri, of course has an inherent skill when it comes to understanding the spices that are needed to go into making the perfect ‘wine mull’ for you. And as for Anna, well when you were recovering from the Festives last January she was busy making your Plum Puddings for this Christmas, just like her mum and all our mums and grandmothers did… of course it’s still Organic (like it always was) and it’s on The Strawberry Tree menu and in The StoreRooms during December


Autumn 2010


Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

The Players

James Kavanagh is a long-time-long-field enthusiast. There is a certain innate satisfaction that is gleaned from gathering wild foods. In spring, its wild greens and more, in summer, its wild berries and more and in autumn, its wild mushrooms, nuts and, yes more. It is these wild foods that make up and add to, what is the uniqueness of The Strawberry Tree Kitchen for him and for us 

Marcin Gruszka came to us in April 2005 from Dobra Limanowej in Poland. His contribution to The Strawberry Tree kitchen is unquestioned, but also is his European upbringing and his appreciation of nature’s wealth when it comes to harvesting wild foods. Just watching him gather something as simple as wild gorse flowers, for service, in his whites…has always given me a buzz. 

Noelle Ward is studying a Degree in Health Promotion at W.I.T. and is with us during breaks from college. Noelle works with our second team back-house, they’re the life-blood of our kitchens, they get deep, down and dirty keeping your dishes clean and turning around pots and pans for the kitchen brigade, we simply could not operate without them. Noelle, though, constantly steps outside this box to help the chefs, tend to the Herb Garden and prep the wild foods that we gather.

The Produce

We’ve all grown up with The Long-Field…City Folk see it as green ditches with no footpaths as soon as they have escaped the Urban, cattle and sheep view it as manna from heaven when they escape out on to it from their closures and Rural Folk are always delighted to inform fellow farmers that their stock has escaped onto The Long-Field and not their own. We’re beginning to suspect though that, now and again, an alliance of some particularly wily sheep, or a shifty mob of bovine malcontents; hold clandestine moonlit gatherings to scheme and stage a jailbreak. Unfortunately for them, forward planning is not a talent common to either sheep or cattle, and come sunrise the glorious rebels are inevitably spotted ambling aimlessly along the nearby country roads, out on the Long-Field, and are duly rounded up.

The Long-Field is the 327,258 km of common Irish grass verges and hedgerows. Our lush damp climate produces a stunning array of wild foods, from fresh spring herbs to September mushrooms. Right now, it’s berry season, and bright scarlet Rowans and fat juicy Blackberries, the perennial favourite, are closely pursuing the Blueberries of a few weeks ago. Elderberries and Sloeberries will soon burst on to the hedges in perfect time for game season. At Macreddin, we are always excited about any opportunity to gather our own wild produce, and at this time of year the Long-Field foods are plentiful.

As always, we’re keen to use our imaginations when crafting menu options from Wicklow’s wildness. Blackberry jam may be delicious in all its sticky glory, but we want more from our long field loot. This year, we’ve already made a Blueberry and wild Elderflower wine jelly, a Rowanberry stuffing in time for the first September grouse. Our elderberry jus will be a happy match for deep, gamey venison, and later we’ll make a potent sloe gin, deepening to a perfect pink by Christmastime. Nevertheless, we still can’t resist making pots of our hedgerow jams. This year, sugary elderberries will make a fantastic contrast to the bitter tang of rowanberries, bonded by the crab apples’ gluey pectin.

And so, as summer draws to a close, we’re out wandering through the Long-Field, gathering the county’s finest for our guests and, let’s be honest, for the sheer pleasure of it. Cattle and sheep might not make for the very best of successful fugitives, but they know where to find the good stuff.


Autumn 2010 


Wednesday, September 8th, 2010


Alan Pierce and Mark Winterbotham run Gold River Farm, just a few miles down the road. Gold River is a certified organic farm, supplying to us since 1999, and two acres of its ever-expanding territory are dedicated to producing fresh Irish organic strawberries for us each year. Alan’s magic touch ensures a huge crop every summer, and this time he outdid even himself.

Anna Gethings presides sternly over every dessert made for the Strawberry Tree, Armento, and all the Macreddin weddings. Anna is very bossy, super dedicated and totally in control, and her perfect puds make up for the fact that when Anna talks, we listen. Currently, with a new arrival on the way, Anna is taking a well-earned break. Enter Anna Woldan (yes, it seems all good pastry chefs carry the name of Anna) who has bravely stepped in to fill Anna’s formidable kitchen clogs.

Seamus Mulkern has grown up with Macreddin and Macreddin has grown up with Seamus. He does lots of things for you out front, but also he spends time in the background focusing his creative talents just for you to enjoy. One such is the annual preserving of the glut of strawberries into new roles, such as chilled fresh strawberry and black pepper vodka shots, and a new strawberry twist on the classic Bellini.


We’re a little sentimental here in Macreddin. We remember when Irish strawberries made a brief, but dazzling, annual appearance in mid-summer. It may only have been a cameo, but they stole the show year after year – that first burst of June sweetness was undeniable proof that it was summertime, and the livin’ was easy. Nowadays, we Irish have become too impatient to wait for the first taste of high summer, and our national obsession with importing means that we can buy strawberries all year around.

Not so here in BrookLodge. Our old-school organic strawberries are grown on Gold River Farm, tenderly raised by Alan. Unlike uniform supermarket strawberries bloated with water, these guys are pretty ugly, but ooze flavour, like Irish strawberries should. They live outdoors, like Irish strawberries should, and they have just celebrated their third birthday. Strawberry plants are at their peak at age three, after they’ve really had a chance to push their roots down (but before a string of failed marriages or a stint in rehab, sets in.) This year, it been Oscars all round – not only were our Gold River berries in their delicious prime, but Mother Nature kindly met us halfway and gave them some serious sunshine to bask in this summer. As a result, we had an enormous crop of big, fat, juicy fruits.

And so, for six or seven weeks only, we had strawberries plastered all over our menus. A sharp strawberry vinaigrette danced along our starter plates; a poitín and strawberry sorbet gave a serious kick to the middle course; our summer game, like wild pigeon and rabbit, flirted outrageously with a sweet strawberry coulis; and of course Anna has been serving up a whole host of desserts that would make any sweet-tooth weep with delight.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, and the curtain has fallen on strawberry season for another year, or to be more precise 45 weeks. You might think that with a restaurant name like The Strawberry Tree that we should have more permission than others to serve ‘the strawberry’ all year round. Not so, strawberries were always a summer crop in Ireland and we think they should remain that way. The memory of their juicy sweetness will be enough to sustain us, as it always was, till next summer. In the meantime, Seamus (and yes he still has some strawberry and black pepper vodka put aside if you give him the password!) and indeed the rest of us will keep ourselves busy thinking up new ways to let these fabulous Irish fruits shine the next time they burst upon our stage.


Summer 2010


Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

The Players

Michele Canosa is our Italian connection. He’s married to Deirdre Doyle from Aughrim and they reside now in Michele’s hometown of Armento deep down in southern Italy. Life in Lucania has never been easy; it’s like Connemara, but with sunshine! Michele has been a stalwart supporter of organic artisan food production from his native region and is the founder of Imex Lucania. Michele supplies our Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil to us, along with other traditional artisan products. 

 Antonio Craca is our organic olive man in Olefici Masturzo, and is heavily involved in both the selection of the olives and the oil production. He is also in continuous contact with the organic certification authority, ensuring that the oils are produced to exacting organic standards. The Masturzo pride in the Lucania region is evident in the sheer quality and unmistakable freshness of this oil.

 Greg Goode has been talking the hind legs off us and has been part of our kitchens for as long as any of us can remember. As soon as the village of Armento came into our lives, Greg was down there, not just checking out the produce, but also the people and the place and has indeed returned several times since then in order to truly understand the South Italian flavours that we are now so lucky to enjoy here in Wicklow.

The Produce

When we began to assemble our organic pantry for The Strawberry Tree, certain products such as olive oils, balsamic vinegar and coffee proved frustratingly elusive, so our friend Michele volunteered to help us find the remaining pieces of our organic jigsaw puzzle. Some time later, while roving through sun-kissed vineyards, olive groves and farms in his native Lucania region in Southern Italy, Michele stumbled across the Masturzo Oil Mills. This family-run company has been striving to produce the world’s finest olive oil since its foundation in 1923, four generations ago.

  Michele created an affiliation with Antonio, a young man bursting with enthusiasm, and began supplying Masturzo Organic Olive Oil to us. Masturzo’s DOP Oils are made using time-honoured traditional production methods, fused with a stunningly comprehensive knowledge of modern technology. Only the finest olives from healthy organic green groves are selected for use. These olives are stone-ground to a paste as soon as they are harvested, and this paste is then slowly filtered through cotton, using only gravity to push it through. This process releases a rich, glossy oil of liquid sunshine.

Macreddin Extra Virgin Olive Oil is stored in for us in a special vat and later poured smoothly into the dark green glass bottles that it will be sold in, in our Store Room Shop. The glass is dark because the influence of sunlight can have a damaging effect on that deep, pungent, nutty green taste resident in all good quality olive oils. These litre bottles, lovingly branded with the Macreddin logo, can be found in every kitchen in the Village, including the Lucania kitchen of La Taverna Armento, where our organic oil is used exclusively by Greg. Meanwhile, as Greg keeps bantering on, he and indeed all of us here in Macreddin are extremely proud to have our name on the label of this very special olive oil.


Summer 2010