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The Powerscourt Blog

Win €250 worth of autumn plants!

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Sep 19, 2017 3:48:31 PM

Be in with a chance to win some stylish autumn and winter plants to adorn your front door, patio, back garden or garden landscaping. We have €250 worth of plants to give away to one lucky winner!!

ENTER COMPETITION

Whether you are looking for an instant burst of colour, an elegant look, a sunny, tropical style, a warm welcome or a natural, woodland style our horticulturalists will give you a personalised shopping experience to help you select what will best suit your garden.

Autumn plants

Enter our competition and choose from fabulous berried Plants and different textured blooms and foliage. Get your winter garden looking chic and cheerful with Powerscourt Garden Pavilion!

ENTER COMPETITION

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Topics: Competitions, Powerscourt Garden Pavilion, Gardening

Avoca Puy Lentil, Rocket & Feta Salad

Posted by Carmel Byrne on Aug 1, 2017 4:00:00 PM

This Summer, enjoy your favourite Avoca dishes in the comfort of your own home. All of our scrumptious Summer salads, BBQ vegetables and delicious dishes are available to go in our Foodhalls. Or you can put your own twist on our classic recipes with our Avoca Cookbooks. Find some of our favourite recipes below and happy eating.

Avoca salads 16.50 per kg - green herb cous cous; puy lentil, feta and rocket; heirloom tomato and basil, tenderstem broccoli, spiced cauliflower, coleslaw

Avoca Puy Lentil, Rocket and Feta Salad

Ingredients

100g puy lentils

1 red chilli

4 garlic cloves, 2 unpeeled, 2 peeled and finely chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

4 handfuls rocket leaves

4 tablespoons semi-sundried tomatoes

150g feta cheese, crumbled

½ teaspoon pickled thyme leaves

To make

Place the lentils in a saucepan along with the chilli and unpeeled garlic and cover with water by 2cm. Bring to the boil removing any scum from the surface, then simmer slowly for 20 minutes or until cooked. Remove and drain, discarding the garlic.

Toss with the olive oil, chopped garlic, shallot, parsley and balsamic vinegar and allow to cool.

When the lentils are cool combine with the rocket and semi-sundried tomatoes and toss well. Check the seasoning. Add the feta on top and sprinkle over the thyme. If you wish, you can also serve with lightly toasted walnuts on top.

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Topics: Cooking, avoca salad

Avoca Meringue with Raspberries & Pistachios

Posted by Carmel Byrne on Jul 25, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Over the past 20 years we have tried all sorts of meringue recipes and ideas from Pavlovas and roulades, to nests and shells. The best thing about these is that you don’t need to worry about them being misshapen or large, this makes them all the better!

Avoca Raspberry and Pistachio meringues a

Avoca Meringues with Pistachios

Serves 8

Pre-heat the oven to 110°c / gas mark ½

360g caster sugar

6 large egg whites (room temperature)

40g pistachios, finely chopped

1tbsp rosewater

While we’ve gone for this flavour combination this time this recipe is made for experimentation – Why not try adding 40g chopped walnuts and 1tbsp coffee essence or 1tbsp raspberry purée or strawberry purée or a drop of red food colouring

  • Line a flat baking sheet with a piece of baking parchment.
  • Place the egg whites in a spotlessly clean metal or glass bowl, not plastic as it can absorb grease which could affect the volume of your egg whites as they are whisked.
  • Add in half the sugar and, using an electric mixer with a balloon whisk attachment, whisk until the mixture forms soft peaks and is visibly increased in volume. Continue whisking, adding the remaining sugar in three stages, allowing the mixture to absorb the sugar between each addition. This will take about 10-15 minutes, by which the meringues should have formed stiff peaks. Using a metal spoon gently fold in the pistachios and rosewater, or your flavour of choice.
  • Use 2 large serving or kitchen spoons to place 8 oval-shaped meringues on the baking sheet allowing plenty of room between each meringue as they will double in size.
  • Bake in the oven for about 90 minutes depending on their size. You will know they are cooked when they can be easily lifted off the paper.

From A Year at Avoca (Cookbook 3)

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Topics: Baking

Avoca Green Herb Cous Cous

Posted by Carmel Byrne on Jul 18, 2017 2:00:00 PM

This Summer, enjoy your favourite Avoca dishes in the comfort of your own home. All of our scrumptious Summer salads, BBQ vegetables and delicious dishes are available to go in our Foodhalls. Or you can put your own twist on our classic recipes with our Avoca Cookbooks. Find some of our favourite recipes below and happy eating.

Avoca salads 16.50 per kg - green herb cous cous; puy lentil, feta and rocket; heirloom tomato and basil, tenderstem broccoli, spiced cauliflower, coleslaw

Avoca Green Herb Cous Cous

Ingredients

500g cous cous

6 tablespoons olive oil

500-700ml hot chicken stock

3 tablespoons of flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoons of mint

2 tablespoons of chives

2 tablespoons of basil

100g of defrosted edamame beans

2 tablespoons of roasted pistachios

2 tablespoons of finely sliced spring onions

To make

Place 500g cous cous and 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl, mix well and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Pour over 500-700ml hot chicken stock cover and allow to sit for 3-4 minutes. Place 3 3 tablespoons of flat-leaf parsley, 2 tablespoons of mint, 2 tablespoons of chives and 2 tablespoons of basil with another 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a blender and blitz. Then add to the cous cous.

To serve, stir in the edamame beans and sprinkle with the roasted pistachio and spring onion.

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Topics: Summer Salads; Cooking

Avoca Heirloom Tomato & Basil Salad

Posted by Carmel Byrne on Jul 11, 2017 11:00:00 AM

This Summer, enjoy your favourite Avoca dishes in the comfort of your own home. All of our scrumptious Summer salads, BBQ vegetables and delicious dishes are available to go in our Foodhalls. Or you can put your own twist on our classic recipes with our Avoca Cookbooks. Find some of our favourite recipes below and happy eating.

 

Heirloom tomato and basil salad

 

Simple Heirloom Tomato and Basil Salad

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

6 large heirloom tomatoes (different colours and shapes will make this salad colourful and exciting, with each tomato bringing a slightly different flavour to the dish)

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves plus additional whole leaves for garnish

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Balsamic vinegar (for a balsamic vinaigrette dressing the general rule is 3 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar)

250g buffalo mozzarella (we love Toonsbridge buffalo mozzarella for ours)

To make

Cut tomatoes into wedges and place in large bowl. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Add the torn basil.

Combine the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and pour over the top. Mix slightly to lightly cover the tomatoes in dressing.

Top with the buffalo mozzarella, torn into large chunks and some whole basil leaves to garnish before serving.

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Topics: Cooking

Avoca Scones

Posted by Carmel Byrne on Jul 4, 2017 11:18:26 AM

Scones can be prepared to breadcrumb stage and then left overnight for the milk to be added in the morning, once the milk is added to the mixture the raising agent starts to work. Scones come in so many variations, this mixture can be adapted to make savoury scones such as sundried tomato, or add mixed berriers for an alternative fruit scone.

 

Avoca Scone

 

Ingredients:

450g self-raising flour

A pinch of baking powder

A generous pinch of salt

50g caster sugar

110g unsalted butter, diced

1 egg, lightly beaten

50ml double cream

200ml milk (a little more may be needed)

1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water, to glaze

(Makes 12-18)

Add 110g of raisins and sultanas to make fruit scones

 

Instructions:

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and stir in the sugar.

Using your fingertips, lightly work in the butter until the mixture resembles dry breadcrumbs.

Add the egg, cream, and enough milk to moisten. Mix well until it has a soft, doughy texture – but not too moist.

Gather the dough into a ball and turn it out on to a floured surface, then roll lightly with a rolling pin to 2.5cm/1 inch thick. Cut out with a round cutter, transfer to a greased baking sheet and brush the tops with the egg glaze. Bake in an oven preheated to 180°c/350°F/gas mark 4 for 15-20 minutes.

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Topics: Cooking, Baking

Powerful Powerscourt celebrates record visitor numbers

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jun 28, 2017 10:15:00 AM

Powerscourt Estate is celebrating record visitor numbers in 2016 as 467,000 guests visited Powerscourt Gardens and Waterfall over the past 12 months. This represents a +14% increase on 2016 visitor numbers and confirms Powerscourt Estate’s place as the most visited paid tourist attraction in County Wicklow. 271,000 people visited Powerscourt Gardens in 2016, up +9% over the previous year, while visitors to Powerscourt Waterfall were up by +21% at 195,000.

Four Season at Powerscourt-1

These strong results place Powerscourt Estate as the 9th most popular tourism destination in Ireland according to Failte Ireland’s recent list of the best performing tourist attractions. The Guinness Storehouse and the Cliffs of Moher are the top 2 tourism attractions in the country.

Visitors from Ireland to Powerscourt Gardens were up by +34% while visitors from China grew by 47%, making them the third-most important market in terms of visitors to the gardens.

Powerscourt is a popular location for TV series and films. Productions shot on the estate over the past year include the historical drama ‘Vikings’ and BBC spin-off, ‘Kat & Alfie: Redwater.’ Travel and lifestyle programmes recently filmed at Powerscourt include “Destination: The Emerald Isle” which aired in the USA on ABC live to 3 million people in February and BBC’s Great British Railway Journeys with Michael Portillo which enjoyed 1.8 million viewers. Publicity opportunities such as these help raise awareness of County Wicklow as a tourism destination and bring more tourism business to the surrounding areas.

Celebrating the record number of visitors achieved, Sarah Slazenger, Managing Director of Powerscourt Estate commented: "2016 confirmed that Powerscourt Gardens & Waterfall continue to be among the must-see visitor attractions in Ireland. With exciting new businesses in the pipeline including Powerscourt Distillery and the Cool Plant Experience, the estate’s offering and appeal continues to grow each year.”

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate, Powerscourt Gardens, Powerscourt Waterfall

Magical Theatre in the Magical Surroundings of Powerscourt

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jun 7, 2017 9:55:43 AM

 

Join Chapterhouse Theatre Company in the magical surroundings of Powerscourt Gardens in County Wicklow as they present Peter Pan in one of Ireland’s most stunning open-air venues. Enjoy an afternoon in Neverland on 25th of June at 1.30pm as J.M.Barrie’s timeless classic is brought to life in a brand new adaptation by award winning writer Laura Turner, with beautifully designed costumes, music and songs.

 

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Little ones will enjoy experiencing Wendy, Michael and John Darling on their adventures with Peter on the far away on the magical island of Neverland. There they encounter the enchanting mermaids, magical fairies and the cruelest pirate of them all, Captain Hook.

 

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Performed in Powerscourt’s period Walled Gardens this promises to be one of the most splendid afternoons of the open-air theatre season. Bring along a picnic and soak up the views while you relax in one of Ireland’s most beautiful gardens. Ticket prices are from €16.00 and include entry to Powerscourt Gardens. To book visit www.powerscourt.com/events.

Presented by special arrangement with Samuel French Ltd.

 

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Topics: Events

Delicious recipe for Irish brown bread from Avoca Powerscourt

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jan 20, 2017 9:33:55 AM

Looking for a tasty new recipe to try this weekend! Look no further!

Here's the recipe for Avoca's famous brown bread recipe. Enjoy :)

Ingredients

200g white flour

300g coarse brown flour

100g mixed seeds (sunflower, poppy, sesame, linseed, pumpkin), keep back 10g to sprinkle on top of bread

3tbsp of bran

2tbsp of wheatgerm

2 heaped tsp baking powder

1 level tsp salt

1dstsp treacle

600 – 900ml milk

Makes 1 loaf

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Instructions

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the treacle and stir in enough of the milk to give a moist but not sloppy mixture.

Place in a well oiled 900g loaf tin and bake in a oven preheated to 200°c/400°F/gas mark 6 for 20 mins until risen.

Reduce the heat to 170°c/325°F/gas mark 3 and bake for a further hour.

Run a knife around the tin and ease the bread out. If it sounds hollow when tapped at the bottom it is cooked, if not, return it to the over for 10-15 mins. Don’t worry about putting the bread back in the tin for this, just turn it upside down and put it directly on the shelf.

For more great recipe ideas see the Avoca website 

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate

Powerscourt boss is brimming with ideas - Sunday Times Article

Posted by Aoife O'Driscoll on Jan 6, 2017 9:46:59 AM

Sarah Slazenger, the managing director of the picturesque estate in Enniskerry, will build on the success of her family business with a €10m whiskey distillery

Article by Gavin Daly - The article appeared in the Sunday Times on 27 September 2015.

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Slazenger has had more than her share of misfortune at Powerscourt — but she has ‘the best job in the world’ (Fergal Phillips)

As a child, Sarah Slazenger grabbed every opportunity to visit her grandparents at Powerscourt, their 1,000-acre estate outside Enniskerry in Co Wicklow. She was staying one night in 1982, aged 15, when an armed gang barged into their house, knocked her grandfather to the ground and put a gun to his head.

“There were half a dozen of them in balaclavas, coming in and out,” says Slazenger. “It was very, very frightening.”

In the mayhem, her grandmother Gwen convinced the robbers that she needed to go upstairs. Halfway up, she faked breathlessness, sat down on a window seat and pressed a hidden panic button. “That rang an alarm in the farm manager’s house and he called the head gardener,” says Slazenger. “When the lights of their car appeared, the raiders couldn’t figure out what was going on.”

The gang rushed out to investigate, giving Gwen time to hop up and lock the door. “She was an extraordinary, feisty person,” says Slazenger, smiling.

Her grandmother was on the phone, summoning help, as the raiders smashed the door in. “They pulled the phone out of the wall, and scarpered,” she says. The gang escaped empty-handed but the experience caused Slazenger’s grand- parents to quit Powerscourt for “a quieter life” in the Isle of Man. The trauma didn’t put her off the place, however.

Slazenger has worked at Powerscourt since 1990 and now runs an unusual family business including a Palladian mansion, ornamental gardens, two golf courses, an Avoca cafe, garden centre and upmarket shopping. The next addition, announced last week, will be a €10m whiskey distillery in an old mill house. There were several approaches about possible uses for the mill in the past, says Slazenger, pointing out a fine stone building on a walk around the estate. The whiskey proposal, from local businessmen Gerry Ginty and Ashley Gardiner, just clicked.

“I knew nothing about whiskey at all but the more we looked at it, the more we thought, there’s something in this,” says Slazenger. At full production, Powerscourt Distillery will turn out a million bottles a year, targeting the premium end of the Irish whiskey market, which is booming.

The planned distillery visitor centre shouldn’t have the “build it and they will come” worries of other distillery ventures. About 500,000 people already visit Powerscourt each year, mainly for the 47-acre gardens and the 400ft waterfall, which is on Slazenger land.

Slazenger takes a shortcut through the estate farmyard and into the walled garden, where an overhaul of original glasshouses is being completed. Tourists mill around the main Italian Gardens, created in the 1840s by Daniel Robertson, a gout-sufferer who was ferried around in a wheelbarrow as he drank bottles of sherry.

Latest accounts for Powerscourt Estates show accumulated profits of €17.7m at the end of 2013 and nearly €8m cash in the bank. It paid a €1m dividend to its parent.

“There are huge outgoings,” says Slazenger. Recapping the walls of the walled gardens was a two-year project that “most people don’t see”, and there is a plan to repaint and regild all the estate’s gates.

There will be a new interpretive experience for visitors, tying in with Failte Ireland’s new Ireland’s Ancient East concept. Longer term, there is a climate-change venture she can’t talk about yet.

Slazenger has a three-strand business philosophy: “To be inquiring, to be demanding, to be generous.” She adds “A good idea has to give way to a better idea.”

New ventures are Slazenger’s favourite part of her job, though many proposals are ditched before they even reach the family-run board of directors. They include a theme park (“though they make quite a lot of money”), a railway from the main estate to the waterfall, and a pet farm.

“You have to be quite hard-nosed,” says Slazenger. “We have to ensure it doesn’t damage the Powerscourt brand, which is one of timelessness, elegance and quality.”

Slazenger should be familiar with the power of brands. Her great-grandfather Albert started the Slazenger sports equipment company and invented the modern tennis ball, still used at Wimbledon.

Her grandfather Ralph was an engineer and inventor, and Gwen had a passion for farming. They came to Ireland in the 1950s, living initially at Durrow Abbey in Co Offaly, and knew the Wingfield family, who had owned Powerscourt for centuries.

When the Wingfields could no longer afford to keep the estate and decided to sell in 1961, the Slazengers snapped it up — though not for its obvious attractions. “My grandfather was fascinated by renewable energy and he wanted the waterfall for hydroelectricity,” says Slazenger.

Gwen farmed the estate and the family lived in the mansion, built around an original Norman keep. Slazenger and her siblings, who lived with their doctor parents in Ballsbridge, visited regularly and had the run of the place. “It was magical.”

She remembers massive Christmas trees and carollers in the main hall in the winter. A ball at Powerscourt in the summer of 1965 was attended by Princess Grace and Prince Rainier of Monaco.

In November 1974, on the night of a press reception to show off improvements to the house, a blaze was lit in an old fireplace, causing a chimney fire that gutted the house. “You were standing [on the ground floor] looking up at the sky,” she says.

Her grandparents moved to the east wing, which was undamaged by the fire, until the attempted robbery in 1982. The gardens and farm stayed open after their move, but it was a struggle.

“The gardens and farming were at the mercy of the weather. And it was the 1980s, when everything was pretty down.”

When Gwen died in 1990, Slazenger’s father, an anaesthetist, convened his siblings and said he would take a year’s sabbatical to work on the estate. “Up to that point, he never intended to have anything to do with the estate,” says Slazenger. She remembers getting the call in Scotland, where she was based, to see if she would get involved. “I was on the plane home straight away,” she says. “It was only meant to be for a year. There was no grand plan, no assumption it could all work out.”

The first step was securing overarching planning permission to develop the estate. Then they cherry-picked the best parts of the plan. Her father did go back to public hospital work but parked his private practice to focus on Powerscourt. Fixing up the house was the “big driving motivation”.

A disused gravel pit beside the Powerscourt entrance was sold as sites for houses, becoming the upmarket Eagle Valley estate, where houses sell for millions. The funds paid for a reroofing of the house, completed in 1996 using a metal structure that supported the original walls.

The first golf course opened that same year, funded with the sale of member shares in the club. It “just took off”, says Slazenger, and has 900 members. Some land was sold to the Office of Public Works but no other land sales or housing development took place. A 3km riverwalk was developed, passing the tallest tree in Ireland, a 200ft tall Douglas fir.

Avoca opened in 1997, and a restaurant fills the old dining room where the viscounts Powerscourt would have sat, overlooking the gardens. Above the ground floor, though, there were just concrete floors “to stop the walls from waving”.

The restoration of the first-floor ballroom, with intricate plasterwork and detailed ceilings, was Slazenger’s “absolute favourite time”. It hosts weddings, balls and corporate events. The top floor of the house is now office space used by Crowley Carbon, a greentech company. “They have the best view in Ireland.”

A hotel was in the plans from the early 1990s, though an early idea to turn the original house into a five-star hotel was knocked on the head. “It would have meant cutting off the gardens from the public, and that was not what we wanted.”

Instead, a €250m 200-bedroom hotel was built by Treasury Holdings in a hollow off the main avenue and opened in 2007 as a Ritz-Carlton. It rebranded as Powerscourt hotel after being bought out of insolvency by investment group Tetrarch Capital in 2013. The hotel owners have a long lease from the Slazengers and they work closely, particularly on access to the gardens and golf courses. “When the hotel does well, we do well,” she says. It has just been named AA hotel of the year, while the gardens have been rated third in the world by National Geographic — the gardens at Versailles were top, while Kew was No 2.

Including the hotel, more than 350 people work on the estate, up from fewer than 20 in 1990, says Slazenger. There are visiting projects, such as the filming of TV drama Penny Dreadful on the estate last week. “It is sustainable in the long term. We’re not worrying about having a good year this year and a bad year next year.”

The distillery, which was first pitched about a year ago, fits that bill, she says. “The estate has been here 800 years. It’s an intergenerational business, and the whiskey business is the same.”

Powerscourt has been the setting for Slazenger’s best days and her worst. In April 2010, her father and a friend of his were killed when his small plane crashed on the estate. Slazenger pauses.

“I am tremendously privileged. I got to spend 20 years working with him. He was a visionary, and a hard act to follow.”

Her mother still lives up by the waterfall. “We have been unlucky in a lot of ways but we are also tremendously fortunate,” she says. “I pinch myself — I really think I have the best job in the world.”

The life of Sarah Slazenger

Age: 48

Home: Enniskerry, Co Wicklow

Family: Married with three children

Education: Schooling in England and at Wesley College, Dublin. Degree in economics and politics from University College Dublin, and a marketing degree from the Marketing Institute of Ireland.

Favourite book: My current favourite is The Undertaking by local author Audrey Magee.

Favourite film: About Time, starring Domhnall Gleeson. It has a very upbeat message. 

Working day

I work roughly office hours. The estate office is where it all happens. My days are hugely varied because we have the various businesses on the estate, whether it’s the golf club or hotel or the retailers. Then we might have a film crew or special activity on the estate. I start the day with meetings with the leaders of the various businesses. A good part of my day is spent looking at new ideas and developments — running Powerscourt is all about innovation and not standing still. It’s also seasonal and every season is different; at the minute we’re thinking about Christmas and getting the donkeys, goats and deer in for the Powerscourt Christmas stables. At weekends, I share an on-call with the estate manager.

Downtime

My downtime is family time. My sport is horse riding. I ride out on the estate early in the mornings — the sunrise can be glorious. I compete in eventing at weekends.

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Topics: Powerscourt Estate