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This award is to recognise the outstanding achievements of one business woman in Cork who has demonstrated exceptional ability in her business and proven her desire to succeed is of great benefit to their business and community. Our winner this evening comes from a business family that are well known throughout Cork and having taken over the family fruit business of her parents in the English market, she was Ireland's first female bookie, and today runs her business that stocks the largest range of artisan food products in the South of Ireland. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Cork Business Woman of the Year 2017 is Margo Ann Murphy of the Roughty Fruit King.
When Margo Ann heard these words on the recent Business Cork Awards night, she “was in shock”. “I was the outsider of the field.” It was a competitive category and she didn't expect to win. Her sister noticed: “Will you be able to go up?” Of course she would; the shock was temporary!
She told afterwards that it was a great boost to her food business in the heart of the English. Over the past six or seven years (from 2011), the focus has shifted from fruit to quality artisan food and Margo Ann says the award is a boost for her many producers. “They are small producers, most of them in rural Ireland which is dying. We need to support them.”
And it's a two way street. She is loyal to the producers and they to her. When I interviewed Margo Ann’s brother Garrett a few years back he listed some of the suppliers for me and most, such as the Big Red Kitchen, are still going strong in the market.
Sometimes in the past year, I've found it hard enough to find honey around town. But never a bother at the Roughty (now becoming known as the Roughty Foodie!). It was the same earlier in the week when I met Margo Ann. There were at least three suppliers on the shelves; Galtee (their bees explore the mountain flowers and heathers), Ballyvourney (mainly from blackberry flowers) and Youghal (coastal flowers mainly). “The honey is not heated, not pasteurised. It is raw,” she told me.
And speaking of blackberries, she told me she used to pick blackberries when she was a kid of eight and her foraged berries ended up at the Michelin starred Arbutus Lodge in the city. And not too far from the Arbutus she also picked fruit at the Rathcooney Fruit Farm and has been making jam at home for years.
So, if Margo Ann says that the blackberry jam made by Nicola of the Big Red Kitchen is good, and she does, it is an opinion based on long experience. Indeed, she has praise for all the Big Red Kitchen jams which come in a choice of small and large jars. And Margo Ann also pointed to the home made mincemeat as a good one for this time of year. And got even more excited when highlighting the Spiced Plum and Port. “This is great, especially with duck, with cheese, with the turkey and ham.”
One of many hampers
Tipperary’s Crossogue are also mainstays at the Roughty. They have won dozens of awards for their innovative products and Margo Ann has great time for Veronica. Veronica’s Damson and Port Jelly won Triple Gold at the 2016 Great Taste Awards and more recently her Lime and Tequila marmalade won gold at the World’s Original Marmalade Awards. There is quite a selection of Crossogue products in the stall here and Margo Ann highlighted the Orange and Damson marmalade.
At the very start I had asked Margo Ann what was the product most in demand. And she did surprise me by saying it was jam. “People are very interested in homemade jams. They are aware of what they want.” Margo Ann may not be picking the fruit herself anymore but she sure knows where to source good quality food in Ireland.
There are too many foods and drinks to mention them all but these are some that I spotted. Didn't know that Highbank Orchards now have an organic treacle as well as their apple syrup, both are here. Spices from Green Saffron, seaweeds from Wild Irish Sea Veg, gift hampers of different kinds and sizes, ginger beer and more by Black Castle, chocolate from Skelligs and O’Conaill’s, biscuits from Seymours and Lismore……
Syrup. And treacle
And it is not just food you’ll find in this packed stall. There is an outstanding display of colourful candles from Valentia Island, all containing essential oils (citrus, cinnamon, honey, lime, to name but a few). You’ll see colourful knitted mitts from Sneem, soaps from Ballinskelligs, even a goats milk soap from County Clare.
So produce from all over, good stuff and certainly the producers deserve major kudos. But well done to to the lady that brings it all together in the heart of the English Market, Margo Ann Murphy, the Business Cork Businesswoman of the Year 2017!
Raw honeycomb is a real delicacy of nature and our Taste of the Week. It is also one of the most efficient ways of storing the honey and I picked up my most recent honeycomb at the Killavullen Farmers Market. It is delicious plus any superlative you’d like to use.
Stefan Buzoianu was the man selling them. Based in Fermoy, he is the man behind S Bees and also sells hive products and gives beekeeping advice and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
While he was selling me my honeycomb, he was also feeding bits of another one to a box of bees he had on display on his market stand. This was to compensate them in some small way for the fact “that they were missing a good day's foraging.”
Stefan supports “healthy common sense living” and is worried, like many of us, about the decline in the bee population. Life would be better if we take better care of the bees and encourage them. What happens if the bees die? Check out this videohere.
Got a bit of a drop recently when Michael Creedon of Bradley’s told me they had run out of my favourite honey. Not available again until the Autumn! But he has sourced a fantastic alternative from Galtee Irish Honey, our latest Taste of the Week.
They are based in Cahir but their bees, from 150 hives in the Galtee Vee Valley, patrol three counties: Tipperary, Limerick and Cork, collecting from a big variety of fauna, including sycamore and horse chestnut blossom, dandelion, oilseed rape, hawthorn, blackberry blossom, clover and heather. And the resulting honey is gorgeous with a classic texture and a delicious complexity of flavour. Check out their excellent website for more information on Irish honey.
Some years back, I threw out the odd jar of honey when it became solid and cloudy until a helpful man at a farmer's market told me that this “crystallization” is a good sign, that the honey is pure and natural. Galtee Honey helpfully repeat that message on their jars. Just gently heat your cloudy jar and it will soon be back to normal.
They also say that honey does not spoil easily; the best before date on my current jar is end of 2020. I guarantee you it won't last that long in this house; it will hardly make the end of the week!
The Medieval loaf from Arbutus Bread doesn’t look all that attractive. It looks dark and ancient, something that a serf might eat but surely not his knight! But, don’t judge the book by the cover.
Arbutus say it is “for cheese lovers”, “delicious with a fresh goats cheese or other cheeses or superb on it’s own”. And it is.
But now I have another way, a very delicious way indeed, my Taste of the Week. I find the loaf keeps very well but, for some reason, decided to toast a few slices the other morning. And then I added a decent slather of a city honey that a friend had given me from his own bees. Serendipity! Whatever, it is gorgeous, fantastic texture and flavours from the warmed fruits and nuts and the honey sinking in to the bread. Try it!
Ingredients: Wholemeal Flour, White Flour, Water, Sourdough Cultures, chopped Figs, dates, Almonds, Walnuts, Hazelnuts & Organic Cider Apple Syrup. It is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
Bee Sensations, namely Tom and CroéinRuttle, are well known for their innovative range of jams and, of course, for their Amarena Cherries in Potcheen. All these jams and marmalades are based on their own Irish Honey which is used as a substitute for sugar. Perhaps, their most basic product of all is their Raw Honey, from their own hives. Resplendent in the newly designed Bee Sensations packaging, the raw honey is a beautiful productwithlots of uses - try using it in your porridge! I know many of you are more familiar with clear honey but please don't leave this behind because it is cloudy. Just take a smidgen on your tongue and soon you’ll know this is a natural gem and why it is Taste of the Week.
“Our bees are Irish Bees and we are involved with the preservation of Irish Bees through FIBKA and also NIHBS. As long standing members we are again true to nature by making sure while providing Irish Honey that our bees are well maintained...” Sounds good. Tastes even better! You'll find Irish Bee Sensations on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Bsensationsnews where they've just announced that they are have qualified for "the finals of Q awards". Blas na hEireann update on Bee Sensations July 2015 here
I need someone to educate me on honey. Why should I pay €6.95 for 340gm of the sweet stuff when I can get 454gms of it for €1.99?
I admit, the comparisons aren't exactly like with like. The dearer one, Deise Honey, is made on a farm in Co. Waterford.
The cheaper one was bought in Aldi and had the Irish tricolour marked on it and was called Kilcrea Gold. So, I thought it was Irish made, especially when I saw the County Cork address on the jar. There is a drawing of Kilcrea Abbey (Ovens) on the jar and the address is Cooleen Foods, Co.Cork.
The obvious difference, before tasting, was that the Kilcrea was much darker. On tasting, the difference, to me anyhow, is not that much though I would definitely prefer the Waterford product but at €6.95 it the most expensive I’ve come across in the last year or so.
Now, one other thing, rather annoying, about the Aldi jar. As I say, it had all the looks of a local product but, on closer inspection, I read, under the tricolour (where you normally expect to see “produced in Ireland”) “packed in Ireland” and the product is a blend of EC and non EC honeys.
That, of course, doesn't rule out Irish honey and of course it is no crime if it is not. In addition to its well known Irish Organic range, Mileeven Honey in Kilkenny market a “range of honeys from around the world”.
My sweet tooth picked something up on the radar today as I walked through the English Market. It was honing in on a pot of Molaga honey, in a butchers of all places. “Must be good. At that price,” I said to the man behind the counter. “It’s brilliant, they’re all going for it,” he replied. He would, wouldn’t he?
Paid over my €2.80 for 240 grams and, as I wheeled away, spotted a bigger jar for €3.60. Maybe next time. This first pot isn’t bad at all, really enjoying it. As you might have guessed, if you remember anything of your Irish, it is produced in Timoleague. Kevin Collins is the man and he may be contacted at KevCollins@eircom.net and 0238846208. The butchers, by the way, are P. Coughlan.
JOHN MARTIN’S HONEY
The Bee Knees
I like the occasional jar of honey. Picked one up recently made by John Martin of Dunmanway.
It has a very enjoyable caramel like taste and a modest pleasing aroma; it is clear and full bodied, with a thick consistency. It tastes great on its own (as a treat or maybe to ease a sore throat, any excuse really) but obviously may be used as a spread or drizzle. Someone has suggested using it on porridge, so we’ll try that.
It doesn’t come cheap, costing well over a fiver for a 340gm jar and I bought mine at the Nash 19 Food Shop (attached to the well known restaurant in Prince’s Street)