In the earlier blog post concerning the Old Irish Goat and the many fine comestibles in the area of the Burren Food Trail, a place for unique lodgings was mentioned by Siobhan at St. Tola. I thought this might be worth elaborating on.
In conversations with the proprietors of Burren Glamping, mentioned by Siobhan as a great place for groups of the semi-outdoorsy on a budget, I got wind of a number of tasty aspects of this venue, that included both the site and accommodations and the fact that they are a sustainable enterprise that raises saddle-back hogs. Now, I am plainly more into goats than anything else, nevertheless, I have been a breeder of Tamworth Hogs (a British heritage breed) and Mulefoot Hogs (an American heritage breed). So I was intrigued by the goings on at Burren Glamping, where visitors are invited to camp in a horse trailer (in Irish lingo, ‘truck’) that was converted in a country posh and adorable way into a glamping spot and where visitors can also treat themselves to some humanely and sustainably pasture-raised heritage breed pork.
First the glamping….from the website “The Glamping Truck is comfortable and spacious – fully insulated with a wood burning stove, an electric shower and a flush toilet. Two comfortable double beds snugly fit over the truck cabin and a handmade settle bed doubles up as a twin bed, while used as a couch during the day. We are situated in The Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark, outside the village of Kilfenora and enjoy a scenic and peaceful countryside. The Glamping Truck sits right at the heart of the farm, a stone’s throw from the well preserved Iron Age, Tullagh Ringfort. The lack of light pollution allows you to stargaze and the darkness at night allows for a good night’s sleep.”
This stunning photo of the night skies of County Clare courtesy of Astrophotographer Frank Ryan, Jr.
And speaking of a good night’s sleep!
These comfy saddle back piglets exemplify humane and compassionate animal husbandry.
Moving along, from personal experience, I can attest to the unique and stark, yet fascinating and appealing, contrasts of the area, from the Geopark, to the Caherconnell Ringfort Museum and their daily sheepdog exhibitions (13 minutes away). For me, as a falconer, I also love the falconry exhibit at the Aillwee caves and, of course, I always buy some cheese. My daughter was pretty thrilled in 2017 that one of the raptors flew to her and sat on her forearm. Since I have had them sit on my head (unintentionally), I was happy to see her get a bit of a safe thrill that was a little less alarming than some experiences that I have had! To get to this venue, you can take the R480 from Burren Glamping for 30 minutes, but it might be good to leave a little extra time to visit the Poulnabrone Dolman on the way.
Now for the pork…The Essex Saddleback, now extinct in Essex, ironically, but existing in other places as the British Saddle Back, is known for its hardiness, excellent mothering skills, docility, and ability to fatten on pasture. Eva Hegarty of Burren Glamping and farmer at Burren Free Range Pork notes that “The reason why we have the rare breed Saddlebacks is because they are very hardy and sociable. They are perfectly suited for the outdoors in the Irish climate. Although, saying that, they need warm shelter from the rain. They don’t mind cold weather; we have even seen them outside when on a rare occasion when we have got a little bit of snow. Their black colour is protecting them from sunburn, yes we do get sunshine too at times. When pigs are outdoors they develop a good hide, that is good for roasting as the crackling gets really crispy and scrumptious. Also, the meat of our outdoor reared animals is very dark in colour (looks almost like beef, compared to the light pink colour you normally see in the meat counters) due to animals has the freedom to run around and graze. Most people don’t even know that pigs like eating grass! From the Saddleback you get nice marbled cuts (neck and shoulder) that are very tender when roasting and they have very flavoursome fat layers just under the rind. The level of fat usually corresponds with the age of when the animal is slaughtered. Our customers usually start by asking for cuts with little fat, but as they get to know the flavour they tend to ‘’convert’’ to more fat content meat choices. The recent years of paranoia about fats have at last started to abate and people are having a more informed view on the difference between healthy and unhealthy fats and their nutritional values. It is a known fact that free range animal fat is actually healthy and especially children need fat for their brain development. Finally, the taste is, of course, second to none. Many elderly customers often say that the meat tastes like what they remember from their childhoods when every farm had their own pigs that were slaughtered once a year and shared between farms.” So when you stay at Burren Glamping, which is usually open year round, be sure to save some time to grill some succulent pork on the bar-be-que provided right next to the ‘truck’ for guests.
For more info on the products offered check out:
Now, of course, since this is a goat blog, I need to include a recipe that utilizes a goat product. Fortunately, Eva had one!
Eva’s ‘Pork and St. Tola Goat Cheese’ delight…A little reminiscent of the way to use a reindeer fillet and goat cheese (see the post on the Norwegian heritage breed goat).
Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Wild Garlic Pesto and St Tola Goat Cheese
- cold pressed rapeseed oil or olive oil
- 1 cup wild garlic pesto
- 3 ounces goat cheese (about 2/3 cup), at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
- 2 whole free range pork tenderloins
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
How to Make It
Blitz wild garlic with almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts and salt and pepper and add rapeseed oil or olive oil until you have a smooth paste in a food processor.
Combine goat cheese, parsley and lemon rind in a small bowl.
Holding knife flat and parallel to cutting board, cut horizontally through center of pork loin, cutting to, but not through, other side. Open flat, as you would a book. Starting at the center seam, cut horizontally through each half, cutting to, but not through, other side. Open flat on either side. Place pork between 2 sheets of plastic cling film; pound to an even 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small, heavy skillet. Remove plastic film.
Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Spread wild garlic pesto evenly over pork; top with goat cheese mixture. Roll up the pork tightly. Tie with kitchen twine at 1-inch intervals. Sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Wipe pan clean. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add pork; cook 3 minutes per side or until browned. Place stuffed pork in an ovenproof dish with a lid. Cook on slow heat (170C ) for about an hour.
Remove the dish from the oven. Place pork on a cutting board; let stand 15 minutes. Remove and discard twine. Slice pork into thick slices and serve.
Oh and by the way, if you want your own Old Irish Goat, there are some that need to be adopted that did not fit the specific genetic requirements of the captive breeding program, which after years of DNA sampling, has gotten pretty darn specific. Still, there are some lovely ladies to be adopted that will probably keep you in rich and flavorful milk and cheese, or boys who can be used as pack goats (and that is a subject for another post). Don’t be shy, contact the OIG and see who is available for adoption.