Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dalkey Island days

The sun shone in Dublin all weekend, although it was a cool 12 degrees, the full strength of our spring sunshine felt wonderful.  Approaching Dalkey Island the sounds of the sun-bathing seals greeted us, the smell of the spring green sea, the seaweed drying in the heat ... it was perfect. Tipping all ten children out of the boat onto the grass to let them run free on the rocky shoreline was the best feeling, just being able to give them that freedom from the city felt good - exploring the crevices, climbing on the coloured rocks, digging for treasure ...  it brought back all those fond memories of my own shore-side upbringing.

We somehow managed to transport a mountain of food, an entire barbecue, a kite, seating, bedding and a lot more onto the island to enjoy a great afternoon of college friends and family fun.
The now infamous scotch eggs got another outing, some went to relieve the hunger pangs on the train to cork, the rest went to Dalkey Island, neither came back.

                                            wrapped scotch eggs to eat on the Cork train

I made a summer salad which was great to transport as it did not wilt and looked very presentable even after a hot half-hour car journey and a cool ten minute boat trip.  I took care not to label it a Greek salad because it is not really a true Greek salad, and given Ireland's current financial relationship with Greece,  I did want people to eat it! 

You will need:

some ripe, colourful tomatoes, sliced
about 6 radishes, sliced finely
12 oily, black Provencale olives, pitted
barrel aged feta
5 spring onions, chopped finely
a handful of mint leaves
3 tblsps extra virgin olive oil

Feta is key to this salad as it adds a lovely dry-ish texture to the tomatoes and the crunch of the radishes, the you get the hit of one of the olives...its great.
This made a side salad for about 8 adults.  Adjust the quantities as you like.

The Feta
I bought the Greek feta from Fallon & Byrne - it is a barrel-aged feta and the production process lasts about two months. It begins with pasteurized milk from local herds of sheep and goats that graze freely on pastures near the dairy. Greek regulations require that feta be at least 70 percent sheep's milk, with the remainder goat's milk. Sheep's milk is richer and more desirable, but sheep are shy producers, so supplementing with goat's milk is allowed.  I do not know the exact percentage of sheep/goats milk in this particular one that I bought but I will find out as it is very tasty and I will buy it again

The Tomatoes

I used a mixture of tomatoes for this, the small cherry tomatoes on the vine, some large beef tomatoes, some green zebras with the little yellow stripes, a few yellow ones and some regular sized on the vine - they were like a strange collection of heirloom tomatoes from a grannies garden, but the variety of colours and shapes look great on a plate.

To assemble:
Slice the larger tomatoes, half the cherry tomatoes and arrange in a bowl.  Mix through the radish slices, the spring onions and the black olives.  Drizzle over the olive oil and toss together with the mint leaves and a little salt and black pepper.

Serve and enjoy.  We ate this today with delicious beef burgers speckled with little chunks of mozzarella, some really sweet king prawns all cooked to perfection on the barbecue, under the not so pale Irish sunshine with the happy sound of children's shrieks and happy laughter ...  a really great day out.

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