Our food ethos is grounded in care – bringing ourselves to care deeply about how food is grown and processed, that it is in balance with natural ecosystems and social justice. If our choices around food are clear and strong enough, we can put an end to a system that is wrecking our planet.
Local and seasonal – for us these two indicators have very specific meanings. Local is measured in strides from our kitchen. The challenges of west of Ireland weather and soils are overcome each year – our harvests are moments of triumph! To eat seasonally was a commitment made years ago which has now become second nature – it makes sense and is good for our health. Seasonal for Macalla Farm is uniquely determined by conditions of weather, our labour and often luck. So we wait – for the tomatoes to ripen, for the cucumbers and courgettes to come on stream, for the first peas and beans – and of course- for the grapes! So there’s the waiting followed by the obligation to eat during the glut and then the preserving and fermenting – and attempt to hold on to the harvest until the whole thing begins again with the soil and the seed, to participate in nature’s cycle of abundance and depletion.
Seed to fork
How we cook and eat is forever being shaped by what we grow, and the varieties we start as seed are chosen to suit our palate. Seed to fork requires an approach to cooking which is flexible, creative and fun. We’ve become quite adept at handling gluts (courgettes!!) and managing absences of vegetables due to crop failure or being patient for things to ripen in their own sweet time. Our recipes are mostly simple and straightforward, the ingredients must be as fresh as possible, bursting with flavour and nutrients and not difficult to find.
But seed to fork is a bit of a limiting notion – how about soil to soil? then we really allow for the big picture – Michael Pollen says it clearly “To eat with a fuller consciousness of all that is at stake might sound like a burden, but in practice few things in life can afford quite as much satisfaction. “
Through the food we serve on our courses and retreats, as well as our seasonal vegetarian cooking courses and mindful eating retreats, we hope to inspire you to eat with this fuller consciousness. One can then re-discover the satisfaction that comes from connecting with real food—food that has been grown in soil that is rich with vitality, prepared in a kitchen with attention and care and eaten with awareness.
For more information on our food courses see Vegetarian Cooking Course .
While fermentation is very much in fashion at the moment we can say proudly that we’ve been doing it for nearly 20 years with our first attempts at sourdough bread and elderflower champagne. In 2005, Christophe discovered lacto fermented vegetables while wwoofing in the South of France and there was no turning back.
Fermented foods make up our every day diet – whether it be our sourdough bread, kombucha, saeurkraut (we make it mostly with red cabbage and spices), our version of kimchi carrots, green beans, cucumbers (of course!), beetroot, cauliflower. But we are using fermentation when we make our own yoghurt and cheese from the sheep’s milk. We also make meade- an amazing drink made from fermented honey.
There is something quite radical about making use of the bacteria that are in the air, that inhabit our environment. With no special equipment or ingredients, no fancy gadgets. Just salt and water and the vegetables or fruit – as fresh as possible.
MACALLA FARM RECIPES
Here are a few of our favourite vegetarian recipes of dishes served on our courses and retreats.
We have been working on a Macalla Farm Cookbook as well and hope to have it available for the end of 2021.