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The Blog: Farmette
Imen McDonnell is one of Ireland’s most popular food bloggers, chronicling her life as an American expat living on an Irish farm. She is hard at work on a book and recently released a film about Irish food artisans called Small Green Fields.
What Irish food traditions do you absolutely love?
For me, I love the time-honored country cooking rituals most. Making country butter is restorative. And, there is nothing better than homemade clotted cream on a freshly-baked scone. Elderflower cordial in the springtime is a revelation. Also, each Sunday my husband makes a mean Full Irish Breakfast, which is simply the best.
Are there any Irish dishes you could do without?
Not many! There is something called “Goody” that is basically made when a person is ill or cannot eat solids. It is essentially bread soaked in milk. It’s meant to be comforting. For all intents and purposes, I should like it, but I find it very unpleasant. Also, not a huge fan of tripe and onions.
What are some of your favorite winter recipes?
For winter I must admit to loving all things parsnip and potato. It’s what we have in the garden and/or coldstore that I can just dig out and freshly prepare. I actually have an entire chapter in my book devoted to potatoes, which still astounds me. Before I moved to Ireland I never touched a potato, they were meant to be evil. Now, it’s all about potato or parsnip latkes, fritters, roasties, colcannon, champ, crêpes, dumplings, bread, cake....you name it. Simple, I know, but to me everything is better with potato or parsnip during the winter season.
What inspired you to create your film, Small Green Fields? Are any of the products featured available in the US?
My background is in broadcast production so I suppose it was only natural that I would want to document and share a cinematic picture of Ireland’s rich food culture once I was steeped in it. This country has never really been associated with world-class cuisine, yet there are so many outstanding Irish producers of artisan ingredients, chefs, and passionate farmers. The landscape and grassfed livestock itself lends itself to some of the best dairy and meat in the world. I wanted to give a face to some of the incredible people I have broken bread with over the years as I found my niche as a food writer. I’d love to produce a longer format documentary film on Irish food and farming as well.
You can find Sheridan’s Crackers in fine cheesemongers across the country, also Burren Smokehouse Salmon is available in Dean & Deluca along with many magnificent Irish cheeses. Goatsbridge Trout Caviar is currently looking for distribution in the USA, I hope it works out as it is just a fantastic product.
Kristin Donnelly is a former Food & Wine editor and cofounder of Stewart & Claire, an all-natural line of lip balms made in Brooklyn.