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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

12/28/2015 - Cocktails to Bring in the New Year and an Exciting New Designer Cider, Appleman

Slow Living Radio welcomes Megan Broberg, creator of Appleman Cider and Paul Martin of Napa Valley Distillery to bring in the New Year and say farewell to 2015.  We hear of Megan's inspirational path from advertising to winemaker to creator of the fabulous designer line of Ciders.  Paul Martin brings his mixology prowess to the show with new ideas, trends, tipples for parties and more adventures.  Sit back, pour yourself your favorite beverage and enjoy!

Megan Broberg
Appleman Cider

Megan Broberg started her career in the advertising industry, spending over 15 years working for some of the biggest agencies in the world. Then, through a chance temp job at Domaine Chandon in the Yarra Valley, she began the transition to winemaker.
Thanks to the wonderfully symbiotic relationship between advertising and alcohol the transition was a relatively easy one. Trading high heels and city glamour for work boots and a ute, Megan enrolled in Wine Science at Charles Sturt, and continued to expand her winemaking knowledge with vintage roles at Rosemount Estate, Domaine Chandon, then working as a production winemaker in the Southern Highlands in NSW.

In 2013, seeing the explosion of popularity of cider, and not finding any cider that she liked, Megan launched Appleman with at desire to bring the sensibility of winemaking to cider production. But also, to have the experimental freedom in flavor development that traditional winemaking does not allow.

The first cider, Primo, launched in January 2013 was an apple cider with a touch of fresh pear. This was followed in August, by the launch of Apple with Green Tea, and Apple with Rosewater. All the ciders are made with 100% fresh fruit (not concentrate) from the Snowy Mountains of NSW, and are flavoured with the purest natural ingredients; using the finest hand milled Matcha green tea from Japan, and organic distilled Roses.
The ciders are sold in Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore, and all going to plan she will be expanding into the US by summer 2016.


Paul Martin
Tasting Room Manager/Brand Ambassador
Napa Valley Distillery

Tonight, Paul brings us ideas for celebration, trends and tipples for the new year, and some great recipes.

Paul had been enjoying “mixed” beverages since 2001, but it wasn’t until 2008 that he learned the difference between good and bad “booze” and became “intoxicated” with the industry.  Working his way through all aspects, from tour guide, to production, bottling, tasting room management, and of course, mixing, Paul has an acute sense of  the defining levels of many spirits including vodka, gin, brandy, tequila, rum, whiskey, absinthe, liquor, and the accompanying world of bitters.

Leading the tasting room of Napa Valley Distillery, Paul is often seen guiding large groups through a more extensive selection of beverages than one would ever see in a wine tasting room.  One could wonder whether his goal was to educate or inebriate?

Family owned and operated by Arthur and Lusine Hartunian, Napa Valley Distillery was founded on one basic principal - Make it different!


Sunday, December 20, 2015

12/14/2015 - Ireland's Magnificent Ashford Castle

Slow Living Radio brings you a very special show, coming from the magical Ashford Castle in Cong, Ireland.  Here, Stephen and Sally interviewed the hotel's General Manager, Niall Rochford, Restaurant and Wine Program Manager, Robert Bowe, and Debbie Knight, owner of the acclaimed Ireland School of Falconry.  Hear their fascinating stories, and the story of the castle. And then, venture over for a visit yourself, we promise you, it will be one of your most memorable vacations - you'll be telling your own Ashford Castle story for years after!

From the moment you are greeted by the grandly robed footman at the towering greystone Entry Arch that welcomes guests to Ashford Castle, you are enveloped in that warm and generous Irish hospitality – right up until that sad time when you have to depart the estate grounds of the palatial 12th century property.

A trip to Ireland would not be complete without at least one night at this iconic estate, Ireland’s oldest castle hotel. Every experience is a treasure to hold, from the amazing meals and high teas, or whiskey at the historic bar, to the abundance of unique activities, and the lure of the property's many "nooks" where you just want to snuggle up and dream of times past.

This medieval castle turned 5-star hotel, proudly sits on 350 beautiful acres on the shores of Lough Corrib, and is just over 2 hours from Dublin, on the Mayo Galway border.  With a history dating back to 1228, when it was founded by the Anglo-Norman de Burgo family, it is a castle in the truest sense of the word, even with its own soaring turrets and resident ghost.
Throughout history, the castle passed through numerous illustrious hands, each contributing to its elaboration and character. In 1589, The Lord President of Connaught called it home, adding a fortified enclave, and in 1715 the Oranmore and Browne family took ownership adorning the property with a French-style Chateau.  Sir Benjamin lee Guinness (of the famed beverage) purchased the estate in 1852 adding 26,000 acres of new roads, thousands of trees and two Victorian style extensions. He bequeathed the estate to his son, Lord Ardilaun, 16 years later who was an avid gardener, and soon the property was soon surrounded by massive woodlands and landscaping. 

In 1939, the public gained access to the castle when it was purchased by Noel Huggard, an experienced hotelier from Kerry, who brought the hotel notoriety as one of the most desired hotels in Europe.  At this time the hotel was a playground for royalty, dignitaries, actors, British officers, French and other European elite who would come to enjoy its country pursuits – to fish, shoot and relax in the lush surrounds.

Nineteen fifty sees the arrival of film director John Ford to the west of Ireland, scouting a location for his movie, The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne, and Ireland’s own Maureen O’Hara.  Ashford Castle won his vote, and the grounds became the backdrop for much of the movie.  The Quiet Man plays daily and on request in the hotel’s own cinema.
Yet another ownership change brought a picturesque 9-hole golf course when, in 1970, avid Irish-US golfer John A. Mulcahy became the new owner.  In 2013, Ashford Castle came under the caring hands of Bea and Stanley Tollman of the Red Carnation Hotel group in 2013, who undertook a massive refurbishment and enhancement to restore the fabric of the buildings and bring the castle back to its historical grandeur. 

Included in the renovation was the cinema, an archery range, wine cave, equestrian centre, fishing, falconry and tree climbing facilities – just to name a few of the activities guests can now enjoy in their castle escape. 

Among the guests to grace the corridors of Ashford Castle over the years are George V, Queen Mary, George Harrison, John Lennon, Oscar Wilde, John Wayne, Princess Grace and Brad Pitt, to name a few.  And awards abound – 2015 Virtuoso Hotel of the Year (the first Irish hotel to be shortlisted in this acclaimed industry voted award), Number 3 Best Hotel in the World by Travel + Leisure in 2015, and Number 4 in the Top Resorts in Europe by Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards 2015.


Ashford Castle is somewhere you will experience that warm Irish hospitality, polished service and 5-star luxury, amidst exquisite décor, plush fabrics and antiques, individual touches and unique artwork.  You’ll be surrounded by some of Ireland’s most beautiful woodland and landscaped gardens, where you can roam at your own pace, or partake of some of the vast range of activities offered, from a boat ride on the lough, falconry, or more strenuous pursuits such as cycling and kayaking.  The property boasts what some would say is the best trout fishing in Europe, whilst the nearby Cong River is frequently hailed as having the best salmon fishing in Ireland.

And for food and wine experiences, you have every choice at your fingertips.  Try an ornate high tea in the Connaught Room, or a pre-dinner beverage in the Wine Cave, housed in the original coal bunker and underground walkway. Here, you can peruse the hotel’s extensive collection of vintage wines while absorbing the atmosphere of another time.  Dine like a royal in the lusciously formal George V Dining Room where Chef Philippe Farnieau crafts what he describes as “Irish produce with French heart”, or partake of traditional rustic Irish fare at Cullen’s at the Dungeon.

George V Dining Room

To bring you more of the castle’s essence, I interviewed three of the hotel staff, asking their picks for a day at Ashford Castle....

Niall Rochford
General Manager
Sally with Niall Rochford
Niall was just 16 when he entered the hospitality industry, working as a “junior bar guy” at a rural hotel. It wasn’t long before he realized this industry was his calling, warming to the caring nature required to be successful. After graduating in Hotel Management in Dublin, Niall worked at every given opportunity to gain experience, including 11 years at Ashford’s sister castle, Dromoland. His passion is customer and team care, and describes his 14 years with Ashford as a privilege, rather than a job.  To him, Ashford is a hotel of character and characters, with an “OMG” moment around every corner.  But more so, it’s a real castle with genuine caring people.

For Niall, the falconry is a must! In fact it’s the oldest established falconry school in Ireland.  Follow this with a cruise on the lough, either the history cruise or one that docks at Inchagoill Island, where a local musician will entertain you with music, stories and song.   

Philippe Farnieau
Executive Chef

Philippe is a Chef with world class experience, from his beginnings as Trainee Chef at the famous Grand Vefour, a two Michelin star restaurant in Paris, before moving onto Le Bristol.   Having left his native country of France and the city of Paris in 1998, Phillippe came to Ireland to work in a number of the country’s finest hotels (K-Club, Dromoland Castle, Hayfield Manor and Mount Falcon) before joining the Ashford Team in April, 2015.

At Ashford, he has the pleasure of extensive gardens to grown much of his produce, supplemented by local organic suppliers, and farmers of grass fed lamb, gleamingly fresh oysters, lobster and salmon minutes out of the water.  Overseeing the property’s restaurants, he has huge diversity in offerings – traditional dishes such as Irish Stew in the dungeon, European and South African influences in the cottage (South Africa from the Red Carnation influence) and dining with finesse in George V.  Breakfasts are a highlight, buffet style, with elaborate platters of smoked fish, Irish cheese, eggs in all styles, black and white pudding, ham cooked overnight, bakery items, smoothies and juices – just for starters.

Robert Bowe
Restaurant and Wine Program Manager

Robert has been with Ashford for over 28 years, starting his career as a waiter, before moving up to oversee room service.  Being extremely interested in wine, Robert would come and assist the sommelier on his days off, and in I992, his dedication paid off being given charge of the hotel’s wine program.  At that time there was a wine boom happening and their cellar grew from 200 to 900 bins in just 5 years. A very exciting time for Robert indeed!  While in Robert’s hands, Ashford became the first hotel in Ireland to win Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence in 1999.  And no wonder, as he sources the best he can find from each region of the world. 

Guinness and cider are not overlooked, both having an extensive in house program and Robert works with local microbreweries to help create the quality of brew his clientele desires.  Irish whiskey is featured in the Billiard Room with tasting flights for guests to compare with Scotch. Being his favorite, you’ll often see Yellow Spot on that list.

Over the last 15 years, Robert has noticed a much greater interest and knowledge in wines in their guests, who take time to read the labels while browsing the extensively stocked Wine Cave. This is his favorite “room in the house” undoubtedly. The long limestone tunnel maintains the perfect temperature for storing wine, and oozes a wonderful historical ambience.

Since being under the ownership of Red Carnation, Robert has had the joy of working with their own South African boutique winery, Bouchard Finlayson, makers of a range of award winning New and Old World style wine from the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley (translated, Heaven-and-Earth), just half an hour south of Cape Town. 

For Robert’s day at Ashford, he’d check in early, rent a bike and ride to the local village, Cong, where they’d enjoy lunch.  Then he would return for a cruise before retreating to the calming and ultimately peaceful spa, with panoramic views from the conservatory across the lough. He’d indulge in one of their signature treatments, perhaps the four hand massage featuring two therapists, or the Indian Head Massage, I wonder. 
Go to and discover your dream visit to Ashford Castle.

Debbie Knight

The oldest established Falconry School in Ireland offers you the chance to fly a Harris hawk around the spectacular grounds of Ashford Castle in a one hour private Hawk Walk. Within minutes of arriving, you will have a hawk on your glove and be setting off to fly your hawk or hawks in the gardens and woodlands surrounding Ashford Castle.

You will never forget the moment when your hawk first swoops down from a tree and lands on your gloved fist – Flying a hawk is an experience of a lifetime.

Stephen tries his hand at some falconry.......