There have been many chapters to this Irish Food Story with The Strawberry Tree Restaurant.
In 1988, The Strawberry Tree became the first restaurant in Ireland to actually promote the individual producers of its SeaFoods, FarmFoods and WildFoods as being the most important ingredient on the menu.
And since 1988, the Strawberry Tree has also promoted Ireland’s wild foods and game and its Annual Wild Foods Menu every November has now become a calendar event.
In 1999 The Strawberry Tree relocated to the wonderful valley of Macreddin in Wicklow and became an integral part of the BrookLodge Hotel.
In 2002, the Restaurant underlined its commitment to sourcing only verified produce for its guests when it became the first Restaurant in Ireland to receive a fully certified Organic License from the Organic Trust and the Dept. of Agriculture under EU Regulations.
In 2007, the Annual Farm Harvest Menu was launched. This is a celebration of the produce our farmers bring into our Kitchen all year round and takes place every August at harvest time.
For nigh on three decades The Strawberry Tree has been hugely progressive with the provenance of its foods and in promoting the producers and farmers that bring their fare into our Kitchens every day.
2017 is going to be slightly different; we’re taking what we do with our Kitchens in Macreddin up to a level that has not been achieved before anywhere. We are already engaged on producing the first ever dinner that comes entirely from within less than 1 kilometre of a
Restaurant Kitchen… A ZER0KM DINNER!
The growing public desire for more knowledge as to the provenance of the food they consume has been answered by many restaurants worldwide with innovative concepts such as Fifty Mile Foods or Ten Mile Meals.
However, there have always been niggling questions about these Food Stories. Questions such as did the milk really come directly from a farm within a ten mile radius, what about the flour for the bread, where did the oil or vinegar used in the kitchen come from, even the wine served at the dinner was that grown, pressed and fermented within ten miles?
This got us thinking here in Macreddin Village, would it be possible to actually produce a totally complete Dinner here from within a ten mile radius and we agreed that we thought we could.
And then while we were discussing all the ingredients required for such a Dinner, we realised that with a little help from our producer and farmer friends we could actually rear, grow and harvest all the produce and ingredients required for one Dinner on one Night within less than one Kilometre from Macreddin Village… the world’s first ZER0KM Dinner!
One Dozen Friends
Click on images below for more information
Mary Regan’s 45 acre Organic Farm is just outside Enniscorthy in County Wexford, specialising in Organic Poultry and Pork.
Freda Wolfe is founder of Wild Irish Foods and since 2014 she is on a mission to produce wild, natural and indigenous Irish foods.
Liam Fanning’s Farm is right beside us within the ZER0KM parameters and once again is a perfect example of how we all network here as neighbours in Macreddin.
THE FARRELLY BROTHERS
The Farrelly Brothers are award winning butchers operating their own small abattoir for beef and lamb based in Delgany, Co. Wicklow.
Michael Stapleton’s Farm is just up the road and being right beside us within the ZER0KM parameters is a perfect example of how we all network here as neighbours in Macreddin.
Pat Lalor’s Organic Farm is in Ballard in Co. Westmeath and his award winning Kilbeggan Porridge Oatlets decorate the shelves in Macey’s New York and Harrods in London...
David Llewellyn’s fruit farm and vineyard are in Lusk, Co. Dublin, where he grows a range of fruits, and, yes - grapevines.
ROD & JULIE CALDER-POTTS
Highbank Organic Farm is in Co. Kilkenny. The orchard farm provides exceptional ciders and apple syrup - and also a micro distillery.
Corleggy Cheeses Co. Cavan have been making award winning Irish Artisan Farmhouse cheeses from wholly natural ingredients in the traditional time-honoured way, since 1985.
Denis Healy's Farm in Kiltegan Co. Wicklow was one of the first licenced Organic Farms in Ireland.
Dan Whelehan is a second generation organic farmer and runs Garden County Organics out of Redcross Co. Wicklow.
Kitty Colchester is a second generation Organic Farmer in Drumeen in Co. Kilkenny: one of the first licenced Organic Farms in Ireland.
A true ZER0KM Dinner requires extraordinary forward planning to ensure that all the produce required that needs to be reared, grown and harvested within ZER0KM actually arrives to the Kitchens at the same time. There is absolutely no room for error and sneaking down to the local Spar to get some forgotten produce from under the Tree for ZER0KM would not be ethically acceptable for us here in Macreddin!
All of us here in Macreddin fully realise that the mise-en-place and planning for this unique ZER0KM Menu is not just for one day, or one week or even one month in advance. It requires fully, a one year complete platform of planning to achieve all the foods that will be required just for the one night of the ZER0KM Dinner…and so we had no choice but to get out of the starting blocks last September!
The 12 month ZER0KM Diary is filling fast with hundreds of objectives that need to be met if the ZER0KM Dinner reaches the level that we are setting out to achieve. Here are just 12 of the Diary Highlights of what is required from each of the four seasons.
Autumn 2016 Harvest set-aside’s for ZER0KM
- Harvest the grapes from our vineyard and make the wine, grappa and vinegar
- Harvest the apples from our orchards and make the cider and the apple syrup
- Harvest wild rosehips, ceps, sloes, crab apples for sugars, ketchup and pectin
Winter 2016/2017 for ZER0KM
- Convert 0.5 acres with raised beds for all grains, seeds, greens and vegetables
- Plant the spring wheat and the rapeseed required for the flours and the oils.
- Seed and pot, the greens and vegetables in our south facing conservatory
Spring 2017 for ZER0KM
- Work with Liam and Silke to achieve a six month aged hard cheese
- Erect the poly tunnels for propagation with tomato plants, baby leaves etc.
- Start planting in the raised beds with the early start greens and vegetables
Summer 2017 for ZER0KM
- Start planting in the raised beds and poly’s with the late start greens and salads
- Work and learn from all our expert friends that have stepped up to assist us
- Start the early harvest of fruits and vegetables that require further processing
As we head into the second half of preparation, before the world’s first ZER0KM Dinner will take place here in Macreddin, these are really going to be the busiest and the most nerve-racking leading up to this one full Harvest for just one ZER0KM Dinner.
Since last September we have had to request that full ingredient orders are put in for the ZER0KM Dinner, months [and more] in advance from the Bakery, the Pastry, the Larder, the Sauté, the Pantry, the Line and also the Wine and the Beverage Cellars… as all these precious ingredients will have to be grown, reared and harvested here at ZER0KM for the Dinner.