The new menu features ingredients from the hotel\'s organic garden.

The new menu features ingredients from the hotel's organic garden.Fitzgeralds' Woodlands House Hotel

With an organic garden right on its doorstep, it makes sense that Fitzgeralds' Woodlands House Hotel in Adare, County Limerick has launched an organic menu in its Fielding’s restaurant.

Unsurprisingly, many of the ingredients come directly from the hotel's beautiful organic garden, which was born out of both necessity and a touching tribute. We spoke to Richard Fitzgerald, a member of the managing family, about the move towards organic and where the idea for the garden came from.

Mary's Organic Garden

Mary's Organic Garden

Why did you decide to go organic? 

Going organic is an extension of our desire to get as much of our food as locally as possible. Three years ago, when we couldn’t get salad leaves locally, we decided to grow our own - without fertilisers or chemicals. Fitzgeralds' Woodlands House Hotel & Spa has always had a great reputation for food and we wanted to take this to the next level.

The garden was the brainchild of my mother Mary. My father, Dick, had bought the farm on where the hotel now sits in 1967. They grew Brussel sprouts in the winter and strawberries in the summer. When my father passed away in 2014, my mother wanted to honour the memory of how they first started off together - growing good food. The organic garden has been in full flow since 2016. We grow tomatoes, garlic, all herbs, apples, raspberries, strawberries, kale, beetroot, chard, potatoes, edible flowers, spring onions, 23 varieties of salad leaves, micro herbs, carrots and turnips. The list is ongoing!

Head chef Donal O'Sullivan and Mary Fitzgerald

Head chef Donal O'Sullivan and Mary Fitzgerald

Has it been easy to source produce and ingredients?

With 95% of our fruit and vegetables coming from the garden, that side is easy! If we could get a bit of hotter weather for the organic lemons and oranges, we would be 100% sorted! We use everything in the garden through all departments, our mint and borage are used in Dick’s bar, all our leaves and vegetables for our wedding dishes. Our nasturtiums and violas are used to decorate the dishes as they are served. The fruit get used in our in-house pastry department. 

Are there any local producers that you're a big fan of?

We source our beef through John Purcell in Golden, Co. Tipperary, our chicken through Sean Ring in Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny and the rest of our meats through Coolanowle meats of the Laois/Carlow border. Our milk, cheeses, and butters come from the Little Milk Co. in Waterford while we source the ambient organic flours, sugars etc through the Sonas health food shop in Newcastlewest in West Limerick. We use a lot of local suppliers throughout the hotel from Cahills cheeses in Newcastlewest, Bally goats cheese in Monagea and Guiry’s eggs in Knockaderry. There are discussions about some of our suppliers going down the organic route in the near future but we were surprised about the widespread availability of wonderful organic ingredients. Ireland is an exciting country to be cooking organically in.

 Who is the chef behind the new menu?

Donal O’Sullivan is our head chef and creator of the new Fielding’s Organic menu. Donal has worked with us since the age of 16!

How has the new menu been received so far? 

The menu has been very keenly received so far. While it is organic, it still contains the essence of our food philosophy, simple wholesome food! It contains the best of ingredients cooked in the best ways by our exciting team. The menu is printed on seed paper which can be planted at home. A truly novel idea!

Was offering organic wines also important? 

Yes, hugely important. We offer a full range of organic wines from Spain and France at the moment. Like ourselves, they are small family based suppliers such as Pares Balta.

Is this ethos something the hotel is hoping to expand on in the future?

The sky’s the limit with this project. We see this menu as being at the forefront of the changing food conversation in this country. It’s an exciting time for the team here.

Fitzgeralds Woodlands House Hotel & Spa, Knockanes, Adare, Co. Limerick; woodlands-hotel.ie