The excitement is bubbly, fizzy and appropriately energising for this the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere after a hugely successful Fermentation Festival out west in the Organic Centre in Rossinver, Co. Leitrim. It was the first giddy gathering of what is sure to be an annual event co-ordinated and hosted by Hans & Gaby Wieland.
I am tripping over words to get through to the thoughts as they are abundant, in a way, like a overly excited bottle of fermented goodness, ready to explode out of the bottle before making it to your mouth. Captured in a bottle, this feeling would be everyones Monday Morning Tonic.
The immense sharing, the enthusiastic presentations, the depth of knowledge and the life-affirming experience has been immense. If this was your first interaction with ‘THAT’ fermented feeling I can only imagine the overwhelm you must be experiencing today. We were a pretty excitable bunch.
We gathered from the North, the South, the East and the West of our Island to express our passion, experience and knowledge of this ‘forgotten’ skill. Thankfully a revival is in full swing now, good things take their time to become a new social norm. They grow organically because they cannot be forced and I am delighted that I am no longer alone with my crazy, hissing kitchen and subtle, yet intentional food anarchy.
Already I can imagine the explosion of interest and offerings for next year, there are many giddy folk I am sure will be part of the fermentation fever.
In the meantime, I have a sourdough starter from Dimitar Dosev of My Strandhill Bakery to introduce with to our own starter. I have a wonderfully medicinal Turmeric and Ginger apple cider vinegar cultivated by April Danann of Rebel Foods in Skibereen, Co.Cork.
I have a belly full of wonderful herbal kefir concoctions from Gaby Wieland and all kinds of Kombuchas from Hans Wieland Fermentation bar.
I have this inspiring read to keep me right from Oonagh Monahan- Money for Jam. It is a wealth of information to channel and preserve the passion involved in these wonderful foods into a successful small business.
More small scale fermentation businesses, yes please!
Live fermented foods disappeared from our diets for many reasons. One plausible reason is due to the commercialisation of the food industry which favoured pickling in vinegar, a much cheaper and stable process. These pickled foods are the product of high heat and pressure which destroys nutrients and do not in any way enhance health.
So perhaps every large town should have its fermentation expert, producing and providing live, probiotic foods for their communities? Imagine the epidemic of wellness and joyful neighbours? These are the thoughts one leaves a festival with!
Other inspirations included Paul Monaghan from FEED restaurant in Sligo, who will feature my fabulously funky purple beet kvass eggs in his restaurant. Probably someones lunch as I type. I am honoured!
JP Mc Mahon and his culinary creativity, bringing fermentation to the plate and the palate of those lucky to dine in his fabulous fine dining restaurant Aniar in Galway. This will have to be a stop on my annual west coast adventures this year.
I am beyond delighted that I get to take home the freshly harvested seaweed collected yesterday morning by the hands of a master. This will feature on The Cultured Clubs Tasting Table experience this weekend in Helen’s Bay Organic Gardens and is making its way into seaweed falafels today.
See more on that here. No doubt the excitement will exude into this food prep this week.
Dr. Prannie Rhatigan is huge inspiration for food, foraging and creatively using an abundant food source in this part of the world. Her lifetime experience of harvesting, cooking and gardening organically with sea vegetables has been published as a extremely handy (and clever) pocket size, key chain guide for when you are strolling the coast. It will definitely be coming with me next month on my holidays out west.
So with much thanks to Hans & Gaby Wieland for hosting this wonderful event. We have consolidated the Irish contingent of SCOBYs thriving of the shared passion from reviving these foods. No doubt we will continue to thrive and next year we will welcome more ‘Fermentistas’ to the festival from near and far.
In the meantime, I have a book to launch on the topic. It will be out in September with Gill books. There will be a launch in Dublin and one in Belfast to honour the first Cultured Club members who started this journey with me way back in 2012. I feel beyond inspired to make that a nation wide tour, so stay tuned, I anticipate similar excitement and giddiness all round.