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Thursday, 24 November 2011

a visit to france...

So there was a competition for one Irish-based food blogger to go along with Kristin of the Irish Food Bloggers Association on a trip to France, courtesy of Bord Bia, to represent the Irish at the popular Salon du Blog Culinaire. Bord bia wanted to show French bloggers what Irish food is all about! I was the chosen one - and it was a load of fun.

The name of the game was for the French to discover the quality of Irish food. Myself, Kristin and a few of the french bloggers rolled up our sleeves and got busy cooking up some quality Irish ingredients. Beef, lamb, crab and mussels all got a turn centre stage.

Chaperoned from the airport by the gorgeous Maeve from the Dublin Office, we arrived in Paris and traveled to the French office where we met the team and were whisked of for lunch and shopping by the excellent Noreen, a Tipperary native (Tipperary North that is). Having picked up the last of our ingredients for our demos in the Bon Marché we traveled onwards to Soissons with Bernadette Byrne, the Queen of Meat (yes, that is her official title). Bernadette was our guide, mentor and Mammy in all thing Francais. Lovely Hannah was there bright and early on Saturday morning to translate and help us prep our dishes.

Now, I feel to be entirely fair to these ladies I need to mention that, while they were gawgeaus and lovely, nice and entertaining, all of those good things, rarely have I come across a group of people so passionate and dedicated to their jobs, routinely giving up many weekends in a row, often getting up at silly o'clock in the morning to travel, and going constantly above and beyond the call of duty to get the desired results. I was impressed! Irish food seems to be in safe hands.

Then there was a whiskey leprechaun, room mix-ups and scary intruder stories, sitting in the dark, exploding deep fat fryers, rabbit ears, stalker photographers, fun fairs, McDonalds macaroons, fire alarms, angry shouting directors, charming chefs, rude sat-nav, good cheese & bad tea… but all of these are a story for another day.

Here is one of the recipes I made there.

Baked Crab Cakes with a Dill Tartare sauce

A saunter down to the docks in Galway gives me the choice of preparing my own crab or buying the meat already cooked and ready to go. Both the sauce and the crab mixture can be made ahead and left chilling in the fridge making this a very easy recipe to put together. Larger cakes make a lovely starter, smaller cakes make great finger food to serve with drinks. Sometimes I sauté a few crab claws in garlic butter, also lovely with the dill tartare and another lovely, almost effortless way with crab.

Crab Cakes
Up to 75g of mayonnaise, or good quality ready prepared 
2 tbsp soured cream
1/2 tbsp smooth mustard, I used Dijon.
1 small beaten egg
400g fresh white crab meat, drained and picked through carefully for cartilage or shell
Finely grated zest of a lemon and wedges to serve

Dill Tartare Sauce
I trimmed spring onion
6 cornichons
2 big sprigs of dill
2 anchovy fillet
tbsp homemade mayonnaise, or good quality ready prepared 
2 tbsp creme fraiche
Lemon juice - a little or a lot
Lemon weges and chopped chives to serve

Make ahead the dill tartare by chopping finely together the spring onion, cornichons, dill and anchovy. Put in a bowl and add the mayonnaise and creme fraiche. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Cover and chill.

Preheat the oven to 220C/fan200C Press the crab meat in a sieve to make sure as much as possible of the packing liquid is drained. Stir together all of the ingredients adding the mayonnaise last, a little at a time until a thick mixture is achieved, you may not need to use all of it. Spoon the mixture in heaped teaspoons onto a silicon lined baking tray and bake for 20 - 25 mins until nicely browned. Serve on a pretty platter, each cake with a spoon of the tartare sauce on top, a little chopped chive sprinkled over and lemon wedges on the side.


  1. Congratulations on winning the trip, it sounds like so much fun and I'm sure you did an excellent job at representing the very best of Irish food.

  2. Merci bien K. I had fun but I don't know how impressive my demos were what with the 'no french' problem!

  3. It sounds you had a pretty good trip as well. I can't wait to hear more about it :)

  4. Congratulations! Sounds like a wonderful trip and you definitely did them proud representing Irish food. I adore crab and crab cakes are one of my favourite ways to eat it. Just delicious.


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