Tak­ing pop-up din­ing to the next level

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS - Aoife McEl­wain

In the first week of July, the Gar­ri­son Church at the former Kick­ham Bar­racks in Clon­mel was taken over by two cooks and their ex­tended team. They were here to feed the au­di­ence and the artists of the Clon­mel Junc­tion Fes­ti­val, and the wider com­mu­nity of Clon­mel, in The Black Sheep Café. It was a meet­ing-place hub for the fes­ti­val, and home to art and food work­shops dur­ing the day and mu­sic at night.

The two cooks were Ciarán Meade and Wayne Dun­lea (be­low), the founders of Glut, a Cork-based food project that have been pop­ping up since 2015 with an in­tent to bring­ing peo­ple to­gether over ex­cep­tional lo­cal pro­duce. Pre­vi­ous pop-ups have in­cluded a tem­po­rary restau­rant in The Cork Cricket Club, a long-ta­ble sup­per in Shan­don Guest­house, and a din­ner in Levi’s Corner House (“the best pub in the world” ac­cord­ing to Meade) in Bal­ly­de­hob, west Cork. “Driv­ing around the coun­try meet­ing pro­duc­ers and learn­ing about their pro­cesses is prob­a­bly my favourite part of the whole job,” says Meade.

In Clon­mel, that means hook­ing up with lo­cal pro­duc­ers, of which there are plenty of ex­cep­tional ones to choose from within the Tip­per­ary bor­ders, or nearby Cork. This sum­mer was Meade and Dun­lea’s sec­ond year as the hosts of Clon­mel Junc­tion Fes­ti­val’s pop-up café.

This year, there was Tip­per­ary Soup made from Cor­nelius Traas’ Ap­ple Farm ap­ples and lo­cal cel­ery. A Clon­mel Mess also fea­tured The Ap­ple Farm’s rasp­berry paired with lo­cal cream. There was lamb, mar­i­nated in yo­gurt and cooked over a bar­be­cue, sourced from James Whelan Butch­ers in Clon­mel.

PJ Ryan from Cashel Blue and the award-win­ning Crozier Blue de­liv­ered a talk at The Black Sheep about a new cheese they’re de­vel­op­ing called Shep­herd’s Store. “Hav­ing PJ break open an 18-month old wheel of this new cheese was prob­a­bly one of the high­lights of the week,” says Meade. Other lo­cal cheeses, such as Cooleney’s creamy brie, made an ap­pear­ance in The Black Sheep’s sand­wich through the week. The cof­fee was sup­plied by Golden Bean, whose roast­ery is based in Bal­ly­maloe House, but their founder Mark Kingston is orig­i­nally from Clon­mel.

“Across the board, the feed­back was great,” says Meade. “The lo­cals were very ap­pre­cia­tive of what we were do­ing. We were taken aback by the re­sponse to our din­ner sit­tings. We were do­ing busy din­ner sit­tings, every­one was wis­ing us well and ask­ing us to stay all year around. When you hear great feed­back like that, you re­mem­ber that’s why you do it.”

Their other projects in­clude COMIDA, a pop-up tapas night that they have held pre­vi­ously in Gulped Cafe in Cork City. The idea is late-night ca­sual din­ing with vi­su­als and mu­sic with a mix of clas­sic tapas and Ir­ish tapas, such as Bal­ly­houra mush­rooms with cau­li­flower purée, cripsy onions and kale.

Meade was the host of Blind Dates at Body & Soul, where peo­ple were paired up for blind dates, in­tro­duced by Meade and then sent out on a raft packed with a Glut pic­nic on the lake at Body & Soul. They are also be­hind Eggs on Tour, a Sun­day day-trip that in­volves brunch. They’ll be do­ing an Eggs on Tour event in Septem­ber for Taste of West Cork.

Their next event pop-up sup­per of four or five cour­ses for around 40 peo­ple will be hosted in Meade’s home, where they ran a pop-up Good Fri­day sup­per ear­lier this year. The best way to keep in touch with these pre­serv­ing, for­ag­ing and fer­ment­ing cooks is through their Twit­ter feed or word of mouth.

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