Category Archives: bakeries

Gluten free baker takes the cake


Michelle Mansuy of Michelle’s bakery at Midleton Farmers Market. Photo by Maria Kalaitzandanokes

By Maria Kalaitzandonakes

MIDLETON, Ireland — Tucked in between icy fish stalls and heaping piles of fresh veg in the Midleton Farmers Market, Michelle’s Bakery sticks out. It’s an eclectic mash up of signs, desserts and doilies. Delicious chaos. There’s a huge chalkboard sign that hangs precariously behind the table, showing off the handwritten names and prices of the sweets. Little perfectly baked pies and tarts sit in rows and stacks, beckoning. A sign on the left proclaims, “Carpe the hell out of the diem.”

“A gluten free welcome to ya,” owner, Michelle Mansuy said.


Gluten free baked goods at Michelle’s. Photo by Maria Kalaitzandanokes

Mansuy has run this stall for four years and has only been baking for eight. She was self-taught, explaining, “I learned how to cook how I learned how to knit. At first it is complicated, but then you begin practicing and now I simply love knitting orange jumpers.”

A witch themed wind chime blows in agreement, and a regular customer comes up to request a gluten free strawberry and cream cake for her mother’s birthday.

“Of course dear,” Mansuy agrees. “Now, you know where I live right? Come and pick it up Thursday afternoon.”

Mansuy makes treats for those who suffer gluten intolerance or those who prefer to avoid it. Coeliac Society of Ireland estimates that one in 100 people in Ireland are coeliac, and a further 7 percent of the population claim gluten sensitivity. Mansuy said she hope her stall can break stereotypes of gluten free foods.

“People say gluten free cannot be delicious, but the proof is the in the pudding,” she laughed.

Mansuy is the perfect pastry shop owner. She has dark hair, a gorgeous French accent and an obsession with the band Pink Martini. She bakes early in the morning with the band cranked to full blast. And she is always smiling.

“Days are only gray if you allow them to be,” she said. “Especially if you eat dessert.”

Every bite I took was delicious. The oat bars were tender and fruity. Her chocolate tarts were creamy and mellow. The fruit tarts were to die for.

Mansuy’s secret ingredient must be joy.

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Rising to the bread challenge

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Artisan breads at Artubus Breads in Midleton. Photo by Kristin Kenneally

By Kristin Kenneally

MIDLETON, Ireland – Over the river and through the city off to Midleton we went. Specifically, we went to Midleton Farmers Market to connect with the farm fresh agricultural aspects of County Cork.

At the market the smell of yeast and bread immediately filled the air from the first stall—Arbutus bread company started by Declan Ryan.

“I started baking in a two car garage,” said Ryan, “just to keep the brain ticking.” Little did he know that he would popularize sourdough in the Irish community.

In 1976 Ryan created his first loaf of sourdough. He was given some over-ripened grapes and his imagination began to swirl. After he mashed the grapes, Ryan combined them with a simple water and flour mixture and allowed the blend to sit for three to four days. The bread fermented and allowed him to create his signature sourdough; Ryan still uses this method to this day.

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Declan Ryan of Arbutus Breads. Photo by Kristin Kenneally

Ryan has had other successes. In the 1970s, he launched the Arbutus Lodge restaurant with his brother and it soon gained popularity and reputation for fine culinary works. In 1974 Arbutus won its first Michelin Award; this was the first Michelin award for County Cork as well. After the Lodge closed in the 1990’s, Ryan’s  bread stall at the Midleton ­­market allows him to continue working with his love of food.

Ryan, invited to travel to France with the Bakers Guild of America, learned of a twenty percent sourdough blend that he modified to work with his breads. From that day forward, Ryan ordered high protein French flour in five ton quantities per order.

It was on the trip to France that Ryan also learned to make his spiral bread. The spiral bread is a saffron and almond ring with a brioche base. Ryan uses his traditional sourdough brioche with saffron blended with an almond marzipan. Once the bread is cooked, it is sprinkled with sugars and almonds to create a crunchy glaze on the top of the ring.

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French flour at Artubus Breads stall at Midleton Farmers Market. Photo by Kristin Kenneally

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Tutto e bene

By Christine Jackson

FLORENCE, Italy — “Tutto e bene.” It means “everything is fine”. Sometimes that phrase is said despite anxiety, but today it’s just true.

After a full day of travel and varying levels of exhaustion, we turned our first afternoon in Florence into a fantastic day. Though we may have all been dozing throughout orientation, we got a second–third? maybe fourth?–wind from a walk around the city center and some much-needed sustenance. We conquered three big items on the Italian food bucket list today.

Our first food stop was L’Antico Noe for paninis. We mostly went because it was open and we were starving, but after a small amount of research (I Googled it to double-check the name) it turns out that the place has pretty phenomenal reviews. I can see why.
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I went with a number 14: Salame piccante, pecorino and melanzana. English translation: spicy salami, pecorino cheese and eggplant. The goal on this trip is to try anything and everything, so I just picked a number and went with it. My original pick was a number nine, which was something to do with porchetta, but they were out. I’m not mad about it. My sandwich was something close to perfect.

I love salami, but I usually get the Genoa variation out of a vacuum-sealed package from the grocery store. L’Antico’s was hot as promised, but not overwhelming. More noticeable was the range of flavors in it. The heat, the pork and something with a tomato-like acidity worked perfectly together. I could have just eaten slices of that all day. I could have, but I didn’t.

Instead I had soft pecorino that added the right amount of salt without taking over like its cousin Parmesan. The salami and cheese with meaty eggplant dressed in some kind of vinegar was a punch in the face in the best kind of way. A phenomenal start to our Florentine food adventure.
After some time off our feet and a few shoe changes, we headed back out in search of gelato to “celebrate our arrival” (I’m sure we’ll come up with another three weeks worth of excuses). We walked down Via Faenza, which is our favorite street at least for today, in search of a well-reviewed shop that we (I) promptly forgot the name of. We settled on the third or fourth shop we came across because its gelato wasn’t in mountains (we were warned about this) and went inside.

We probably paid a little too much, but we chatted, ate out of pretty glass bowls and enjoyed the evening weather after an exhausting day. It was fantastic.

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But the best decision of the evening had to be our stop at a bar/gelato shop run by world’s most enthusiastic shop owner. We think his name was Enrico, but we’ll be returning for confirmation.

We went to Enrico for a glass of wine to end our evening, but we got a whole experience. He wouldn’t let us buy anything we hadn’t tried first. He cut a euro off the price for us. He brought us snacks when we were out enjoying the aforementioned wine at the table outide his shop. We twisted our arms (it didn’t take much) into trying the gelato that he makes on top of running the coffee and alcohol operations all by himself. He also used to dance ballet.

He spoiled us on our first night in the city, and we’ll go see him again.
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