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Tuesday, May 29, 2018
I must get over to Bandon and Clonakilty markets more often as these are the only places that I can get Baltimore Bacon, my Taste of the Week.
And it will probably be even more difficult to get now as Nathan Wall, who began farming pigs in Baltimore ten years ago, was recently honoured by the Irish Food Writers Guild, an award that is more valued than most an award that is more valued than most as it comes from independent professional writers.
After a recent visit to Bandon, I tried Nathan’s Maple Smoked Rashers (also available in joints) at home. The first bite and you just stop, stop talking, stop thinking, such is the amazing flavour. Then you get on and enjoy it.
Nathan had a delicate touch as a specialist plasterer in London and now has a delicate touch in his new career. “Our bacon is cured by hand, using just organic sea salt and natural ingredients with no added water, no nitrites, nitrates or phosphates. This is real bacon, made the time-honoured way, with nothing added except our passion and dedication..”
And if those rashers were top notch, the Black Bacon joint was something else. Another must try! This is Artisan Dry Cured Bacon, West Cork pork, Atlantic sea salt, black pepper, molasses, raw cane sugar, spices, natural oak smoke. Another outstanding product from Baltimore.
Other Baltimore products are Cider and Apple Smoked Bacon, Cider and Apple Unsmoked bacon, Baltimore Bacon unsmoked and also smoked. And don’t forget his tasty lardons.
Nathan has had help and input from other artisan producers in the area, particularly from Fingal at Gubbeen where he works part-time and where his products are smoked. At the award celebration dinner in Dublin, the main course was Cider and Apple Smoked Baltimore Bacon with Parsnip Purée, Caramelised Brussels Sprouts and Onions and Fresh Mandarin. And that cider came from Stonewell in Nohoval.
Below is the citation from the awards presentation:
Baltimore Bacon cured bacon, Co. Cork: Food Award
A specialist plasterer turned free-range pig farmer, Nathan Wall of Baltimore Bacon began curing his own bacon in 2014. He now keeps over 40 free-range Berkshire pigs on his Baltimore farm and sells produce from his own pigs at the weekly farmers’ markets in Bandon and Clonakilty.
As demand grew, he began sourcing free-range pigs through Our Piggy Co-op run by Fingal Ferguson of Gubbeen Smokehouse and locally reared pigs from Staunton’s in Timoleague for the non-free-range produce that he sells through local restaurants and shops.
The range includes smoked and unsmoked bacon and ham, all of which are produced naturally and free from nitrate and additives. Some are simply cured with Atlantic sea salt and raw cane sugar, while the superb dry-cured black bacon is cured with molasses and black pepper. His apple and cider-smoked bacon, available sliced or as a joint, uses Stonewell Cider from a previous IFWG award-winner. The bacon is smoked over hardwood at Gubbeen Smokehouse.
See more on the awards and their background at the Irish Food Writers Guild website http://www.irishfoodwritersguild.ie/index.html
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Stonewell Seasonal Ciders
Taste of the Summer!
Stonewell Apple & Cucumber Limited Edition Craft Cider 2017, 5.5%, 330ml bottle.
In 2016, Stonewell won the Supreme Champion Award at the Blas na hEireann Awards in Dingle with their Rós, an apple and rhubarb cider, and their current seasonal is this medium dry Apple and Cucumber.
First thing you notice is the huge difference in colours, the cucumber one looking more like a white wine (with hints of green), though with lots of bubbles. The cucumber comes through, gently, on the nose and on the palate.
Flavours are probably lighter than the Rós but, if anything, are even more refreshing. A light and moreish flavour, as they say themselves, from this combination of Royal Gala apples and a subtle twist of cucumber.
Rós Apple and Rhubarb Limited Edition Craft Cider 2017, 5.5%, 330ml bottle
The Supreme Champion is an all local amalgam. The rhubarb juice is extracted from the produce of Robbie Fitzsimmon’s East Ferry Farm in Cork and blended with the “soft caressing” flavours of the apple juice.
This new batch has a gorgeous mid-gold (no pink!), with fountains of bubbles. Rhubarb comes through on the palate but its tartness is more than balanced by those soft caressing flavours of the apples. An engaging mix indeed from the small but highly innovative team at Nohoval and you can taste why it won a surprise overall gold at Blas.
Both ciders are vegan and coeliac friendly and each should go well with food. Thinking of a salad in the garden with a bottle of the Apple and Cucumber while the Rós should be ideal with the strawberries. Must set that one up while the sun is out!
Stockists for both ciders: Bradley’s Cork; 1601 Kinsale; Blackrock Cellar, Co. Dublin; Gibney’s of Malahide, Co. Dublin; No 21 Lismore, Co.Waterford; Paddy Blues, Gorey, Co. Wexford; Redmond’s of Ranelagh, Dublin; Lilac Wines, Dublin 3; Supervalu Kinsale and Clonakilty; Riney’s Bar, Sneem, Co.Kerry. Matson’s Wine Store, Grange and Bandon, Cork.
You may get the Apple and Cucumber at the following O’Brien’s Wines locations:
Ardkeen, Co. Waterford; Beacon, Dublin; City West, Dublin; Blanchardstown, Dublin; Douglas Court, Cork; Dun Laoghaire, Dublin; Glasnevin, Dublin; Malahide, Dublin; Naas, Kildare; Rathgar, Dublin; Rathmines, Dublin; Templeogue Village, Dublin.
Sunday, April 22, 2018
Inchydoney Island & Maison Louis Jadot
Also on this trip:
Stunning Combination of Location and Terroir
Isn’t the Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa one of the best situated hotels in the country? One of the most welcoming too! Can’t recall any other greeting me (and every guest) at reception with a glass of the excellent (and local) Stonewell Tawny. And when you leave, well there is a pot (a very tasty one too) of their own Winter-Berry Jam.
So now add in a wine dinner with the renowned Maison Louis Jadot and you can understand I was in a foodie heaven. The weather didn’t exactly cooperate (it was about 12 hours behind schedule!) so the event didn't quite live up to the Burgundy on the Beach title but it was top class in every aspect.
The beach-side hotel, miles of sand to each side, supports quite a few local producers and a few were featured in the five course menu. But I spotted many also in the ancillary menus: Kids, Sandwiches, Room Service, and Afternoon Tea. Some of those included were: Clonakilty Pork, Bushby Strawberries, cheesemakers (Coolea, Cashel Blue, and Bandon Vale), Timoleague Ham, Ummera Smokehouse, and Shannonvale Chicken. Breakfast is also quite an occasion, some great choices on the menu (hot and cold) and lovely service in a smashing room.
And that Gulfstream Restaurant, with its windows looking down on the Atlantic, was also the venue for the Wine Tasting Dinner at which I was an invitee. The guests met in the superb lounge and we were welcomed with some tasty canapés and a cool glass of Chablis, by Louis Jadot bien sur. This bright and fresh wine was just the ticket to get the evening off to an excellent start, the canapés vanishing and the chats starting.
Marie-Pierre Dardouillet (left), Export Director with Maison Louis Jadot, supported by distributors Findlater's, was introduced in the restaurant before dinner. And, not wanting to interfere with the flow of the dinner, spoke about the three white wines, produced by Jadot from their 250 hectares of vineyard.
The Chablis comes from the northern part of Burgundy, somewhat cooler than the second wine, the fresh and fruity Saint-Véran. This comes from a small village in the Maconnais region, “nice to compare the two, side by side”. Both are produced from Chardonnay. Generally, white wines from here are Chardonnay, reds are Pinot Noir.
Soon we would “meet” the third white, the Meursault, another 100 per cent Chardonnay. This is fermented in wooden barrels and aged 15 months before bottling. “well balanced oakiness, much more complex and deep,” said Marie-Pierre. A beautiful wine, full-fruited bouquet, generous palate and a long finish and a terrific match with the Gulfstream Seafood Assiette.
Now too sure which I was most looking forward to try: the fillet of Macroom beef or the Nuits-Saint-George. The wine is one of the region’s most famous wines, aged in oak barrels for 12 months, deep of colour and flavour. Marie-Pierre: “Lots of structure, tannin. Elegant.” Mais oui!
For our final wine, we moved south from Burgundy to Beaujolais next door and that meant a change of grape from the Pinot Noir of the Nuits-Saint-George to the Gamay.
As you might expect, it wasn't any old Gamay (Beaujolais nouveau for instance is a Gamay) but a cru. There are ten crus in Beaujolais and Moulin-a-Vent (Windmill) was where our wine was produced. “The Gamay thrives on the granite soil and this spends 12 months in barrel. It is much more fruit driven and will be interesting with dessert!”, said Maire-Pierre. Probably not the best match but a lovely wine that I more or less held back until my plate was cleared. Then I enjoyed it and its reviving acidity all the more!
And those plates. Thanks to Head Chef Adam Medcalf and his crew, they looked splendid from start to finish.
The starter was Macroom Buffalo Cheese Plate: crisp Feta and polenta, Ricotta pannacotta, Mozzarella and Tomato Tian with beetroot, sun-dried tomato and rocket.
The fish course was entitled Gulfstream Seafood Assiette and consisted of Ummera Smoked Salmon and crab roulade, sugar cubed salmon, crisp fried squid with a celeriac remoulade, pickled cucumber, quail egg and a bisque reduction.
The came the Roasted Fillet of Macroom Beef with a lobster and prawn crust, fondant potato, celeriac purée, shiitake mushroom and a horseradish cream sauce.
Time then for dessert: Roasted Rhubarb and orange pannacotta with ginger biscuit Ice-cream.
The lovely evening was drawing to a conclusion but Ruth McCarthy, Director of Sales & Marketing at Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa, cheered the guests up with a promise of “many more evenings like this”. Marie-Pierre complimented the hotel kitchen saying the food was "very good". “Hope you enjoyed the wines and see you in Burgundy.” Inchydoney on tour. Now who’s organising that trip.
|The Gulfstream Restaurant|
Thursday, December 14, 2017
Farmgate Café. Traditional. Seasonal. Regional.
Food of the land and work of local hands.
Irish stew. Bacon and Cabbage. Just the mention of these traditional Irish dishes can get some modern “foodies”, some chefs too, on their high horses. They don’t want us posting pictures of our peasant food on the internet, preferring instead those “decorated” with colourful drops from a squeegee bottle.
I like my stew, like my bacon and cabbage. Just as the French like their hardly photogenic Coq au vin. And when I saw the lamb stew on the menu during last Saturday's visit to The Farmgate, above the English Market, I had no hesitation in ordering it. It was a cold day and the warming stew was the ideal comfort food. And reasonable photogenic as well.
The Hartes (Kay and daughter Rebecca) are in no doubt about the value of tradition. “Farmgate Café embraces much of what is unique and traditional to Cork along with new influences in this dynamic multicultural food market and port city. Centuries old traditional, seasonal, regional, even ‘forgotten’ foods are at the core of the Farmgate ethos, and also form a visible link between the menu and the wonderful array of produce downstairs.”
“This allows Farmgate Café to provide a uniquely Irish eating experience both reflecting and playing a small role in a vibrant Irish food culture truly embracing how good indigenous ingredients and food products are.”
The popular Farmgate is divided into two sections, as you may know. You may well need to book to get a table in the Dining Room while most of the rest of the mezzanine, the Balcony, is informal so you just queue and order and the order, if not self-service, will be delivered to your table.
We had booked and were lucky to get a table in an outdoor room adjoining the Dining Room. We were told it would be cold but no problem. There are glass panels up to head height (where you sit), heaters overhead and, just in case, blankets!
No need for the blankets though as we ordered from the regular list. There are always at least three daily specials: meat, fish and tart. The Lamb and Potato stew (€14.00, a euro less on the balcony) has regular company in Chargrilled Chicken, Traditional Pork Sausages with lentils, a Cured Fish plate, a Market Mezze, and a Warm Salad of free range chicken. Traditional yes but not hidebound by the past either.
In any case, that Lamb stew was delicious, the meat flavoursome and tender, the vegetables spot-on, and the potatoes were perfect. And here you’ll have no problem enjoying the last of the tasty liquid as, in addition to knife and fork, they also provide a spoon.
|Lunchtime queue for the Farmgate lunch|
on the Balcony while the market continues
This was peak lunchtime on Saturday yet the staff, in their smart seasonal clothing, were excellent, very helpful all the way through.
I’d finish up also with a traditional touch. Had been swaying between the Christmas Pudding and the Mince Pie (3.50). The Brandy Cream swung it for the Pie which had a nice layer of crumble on top.
CL wanted to experiment so she went for the non-traditional Salted Caramel Confit Banana with Rum and Raisin Ice-cream (5.00). A brave woman to take on the ice-cream but it was a seriously delicious finish.
CL wanted to experiment so she went for the non-traditional Salted Caramel Confit Banana with Rum and Raisin Ice-cream (5.00). A brave woman to take on the ice-cream but it was a seriously delicious finish.
The Farmgate believes in supporting local food. And local drink too. Ciders come from Longueville House and Stonewell, beers from Eight Degrees and Dungarvan Brewing, while the wines are all European.
We had been taking the odd peek down to the floor of the market and, after settling up, we joined the crowd down on the floor. Eventually we had a stroll through Glow and then visited Christmas markets in St Peter’s and The Franciscan Well (this is on again next Saturday).
Tel: 021 427 8134. Int: 00 353 21 427 8134
Email (general enquiries only): firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, September 18, 2017
Taste Cork Week. Plus!
Jazz Extension Added
|The perfect cider pour by Rupert of Longueville House|
Following last year’s success, Taste Cork Week returns next month. Indeed, it will run for more than a week with an extension that takes it up to the eve of the Jazz Weekend.
At the launch last week, in Nano Nagle Place, the spanking new major attraction right in the heart of the city, Ernest Cantillon of Festival Cork told us to watch out for some of the more informal events: jazz cafes, a distillery visit in a barn, and pop ups in unusual places.
|Ernest Cantillon of Festival Cork|
One or more of those pop ups will be in the café in the peaceful gardens of Nano Nagle. Keep an eye on the Taste Cork website here for more details of all events.
Evenings with guest chefs always seem to be popular. One of the highlights from last year was in Isaac’s when Arun Kapil, founder of award-winning spice company Green Saffron, Chef Patron Canice Sharkey along with restaurant co-owners Michael and Catherine Ryan, hosted an exclusive sold-out spice pop-up at the Cork city institution in McCurtain Street.
Holy Smoke are one of the first up this year with an invite “to embark on a unique gourmet journey and experience the best of Irish BBQ cuisine, prepared with the local meat that is cooked in Holy Smoke’s signature barbecue-style, low-n-slow, for four to sixteen hours”.
Pitmasters John Relihan and Decky Walsh will serve up an exquisite six-course meal on October 17th and will walk you through the secrets and preparation techniques behind each dish while Caroline Hennessy will masterfully guide you through the pairing of each dish, presenting and explaining the corresponding whiskey or craft beer.
Justin Green, and Bertha’s Revenge of course, were at the launch. And Justin has an event lined up at Ballyvolane House. It will kick-off at 12 noon (October 18th) with a B&T (Bertha & Tonic) and as soon as everyone has arrived, guests will be given a tour of the house, gardens and gin distillery.
Lunch will be served at 1pm in the dining terrace where guests can meet and chat with the makers over lunch. Stonewell Cider and Eight Degrees Brewing will also be involved and tipples produced by all three makers will be served during lunch.
So there you are, a nice trip to the countryside. As Ernest Cantillon said in his address the event is designed to bring city and county together and indeed both were officially represented on the night.
|Lorna Conroy of|
Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald pointed to the fact that Cork has been designated as a Healthy City and put that down largely to the good food in the area. He stressed the importance of festivals in drawing visitors and said he was very proud of what Ernest and his colleagues are doing.
Ian Doyle, Deputy County Mayor, rightly congratulated the City Council on the marvellous work that they have done (and are continuing to do) at Nano Nagle Place, “a fantastic venue”. He noted that artisan food and drink are becoming very important and praised the great dedication shown by the producers.
Ernest said there is a great relationship between businesses, such as restaurants and hotels and suppliers. “Cork is well known for the quality of its produce and it is up to us to make sure we use it.”
Shane Clarke, of Nano Nagle Place, gave us a brief rundown of the life of Nano Nagle and of the current project and said there had been some 250 years of education on the site, an element they intend to take forward. And he too mentioned their lovely cafe and is looking forward to the pop-ups during the festival. The Nano Nagle has just recently opened and is well worth a visit. Details here.
As is usual with Taste Cork, there were quite a few producers in Nano Nagle: Cider from Stonewell and Longueville, spirits from Bertha’s Revenge, Kinsale and St Patrick’s, Kinsale Bay and the Fish Deli (great to meet up again with Monica and Peter), Bluebell Falls, Hassett’s, On the Pigs Back, and Ballymaloe Relish. And the Old Butter Roads Food Trail had a lovely tasting plate. Well done to all for turning up and adding to the occasion.
Thursday, April 20, 2017
Fenn’s Quay's Special
From breakfast ’til late at night Fenn’s Quay will feed you, and feed you well. Lots of menus here, including a set lunch and an Early Bird. That Early Bird is, unusually, available on Saturdays up to 6.30.
It is good value and has quite a few dishes from the A La Carte. As it happened, it was the A La Carte that we concentrated on last weekend. We noticed some dishes that are almost fixtures here, such as the O’Mahony's Feather-blade and the same O'Mahony’s Collar of Bacon.
|Beetroot cured salmon|
But there is no shortage of variety in Fenn’s Quay, once you factor in a packed specials board. And, conveniently, they also include a written list of the specials as well as the traditional blackboard.
We tend to make good use of the specials and we did so here as well, though neither of the starters featured on the board.
CL choose Cork Dry Gin and Beetroot cured salmon with buttermilk dillisk and cucumber pickle (€10.00), a very well judged combination, very tasty indeed.
|Braised lentils and beef tongue with pickled quail egg|
I was delighted with my Braised lentils and beef tongue with pickled quail egg (€10.00). The broth or jus - I used some of their well-made bread to mop it up - was full of the flavours from the tongue and the lentils and the quail was the first of my Easter eggs. Happy out!
We had been tempted by one of special starters, a Fish Platter with O’Connell’s smoked salmon, smoked mackerel, fish croquette and beer battered cod.
We would though have O’Connell's cod on the double as we agreed on the mains, the Fish of the Day special (19.00). Details are: Cod, spinach, cod skin and cod purée, served with roasted cauliflower florets and peas. All added up to an exquisite dish, the fish as fresh as could be and cooked perfectly and that cauliflower was excellent.
The dessert special was another winner: Bewley's Pannacotta with dark chocolate and brandy mousse (€6.50); had an idea this was going to be delicious (and it was!) and so we left the popular Mimi’s Cork Dry Gin and Tonic Dessert behind!
They have a short but well judged list of wines here, some available by the glass and most, if not all, by the carafe and bottle. And also they had a couple of specials on the board. Unusually, they also have a list of craft beers, Blacks and Mountain Man among them, but I went for a regular favourite the Stonewell Medium Cry Cider (€6.50). Food and presentation was top notch, service too and so it was a happy if overdue return to No. 5 Fenn’s Quay. Very Highly Recommended.
Thursday, December 1, 2016
Stonewell Cider Cheers!
Win yourself a hamper.
Stonewell Irish Craft Cider have enjoyed “an astonishing year” and are spreading the cheer on Social Media.
In 2016, the Nohoval (Cork) cidery were crowned the Supreme Champion at the National Irish Food Awards (Blas na hEireann) and also won accolades at international events. “None of which would have been possible without the support and encouragement from you, our customers."
So, for Christmas, they are running a competition on all their social media. It starts today 1st December and the winner will be announced on 15th December. The prize is a Stonewell Christmas hamper containing a selection of Stonewell Cider products along with produce from local businesses such as Hassett's Bakery and Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheese.
It is easy to enter. Simply ‘like’ the Stonewell Facebook page and post a photograph of a Stonewell Cider (drinking, cooking, wrapping presents etc) using #stonewellchristmas on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Good luck!
And, speaking of cooking, watch out for the Cinnamon Apple Cake video which will be up on the 5th December.
Monday, October 10, 2016
Dingle Diary. Blas and the Festival
|The Supreme Champion|
Massive crowds attended the Dingle Food Festival (1st and 2nd ofOctober) but it was much quieter in the town when I arrived on the previous Thursday morning, just one of the dozens of judges gathering in the Skellig Dingle for the Blas 2016 judging. A record 2,500 products were entered and these had been whittled down to manageable numbers.
Still there was a lot of tasting to do - from about 11.30 until around 8.30 pm in my case. We finished up in Dick Mack’s pub in Green Street for the alcohol tastings. The pub is well worth a visit in its own right, just to see the huge whiskey selection alone!
|One of Dingle's little cafes|
Then it was down to O’Flaherty’s Pub for a proper drink and a proper bite. There was a great buzz here, particularly when the music started. Dingle Gin and Tom Crean lager was flying but I delayed turning to those until myself and my new buddy Johnny had cleaned out the Beal Bán from the West Kerry Brewery!
|On the Taste Trail|
The next day, Friday, was more or less at leisure and we did a trip around the peninsula (post to follow). That evening though, the Blas judges assembled in the Oceanworld Aquarium where candles lit the scene as the various fish, the shark and the turtle swam around and we gathered for more Dingle Gin and more Tom Crean and, yes, fish and chips!
|A Gold winner. For a full list of winners,|
please click here
And then Blas chairman and founder Artie Clifford introduced local adventurer Mike O’Shea who gave us an illustrated talk on his life, concentrating mainly on last year’s trip to South Georgia to retrace part of Tom Crean’s footsteps. Very interesting indeed, even the penguins behind seemed to stay still, though there were some strange noises off stage! Check out more of Mike’s amazing adventures here.
Saturday was the first full day of the Dingle Food Festival and the town was transformed as thousands of visitors arrived, sauntering through the closed streets to sample the food and drink on offer at every step. A huge market covered a few of the streets and then there was the Taste Trail with close to 80 offerings, some very inventive bites indeed. Besides there were craft workshops, demonstrations by top chefs, a farmers forum, special lunches and dinners and so much more, even a visit to the distillery for us.
|Pesto winners: Gold (left) and Bronze|
Time too for the Blas judges to visit the producers and see the products (now in their packaging). It was an anxious time for the Blas entrants as the awards were announced throughout the day. I had a lot of sympathy for the entrants in Spirits and Liqueurs, Beers, Ales, Lagers, Stouts and Cider as these were last on the list, scheduled for 5.00pm. A long wait!
At least they could relax on the Sunday as Blas had been put to bed for another year and the sun shone as the Food Festival, again mightily well supported, continued for another day. Well done Dingle! Again.
|Lots of talk about this Gold winner!|
|Sampling at the street market|
Driving the Dingle peninsula
Monday, October 3, 2016
STONEWELL RÓS CIDER IS CROWNED SUPREME CHAMPION IN A GREAT YEAR FOR CIDERS AT THE 2016 BLAS NA hEIREANN IRISH FOOD AWARDS
Ciders win big at this year’s Awards…
Stonewell Rós Cider from Cork has beaten off stiff competition from food and drink producers all over the island of Ireland to be awarded the coveted Supreme Champion title of the 2016 Blas na hEireann, the Irish Food Awards, sponsored by Bord Bia.
Geraldine Emerson from Stonewell Cider said “We use all natural ingredients. The Rós cider has a very pure, clean taste. This award is great because it is recognition for all the work that goes into making it. We’re delighted.”
Ciders also made it to the top of the pile in the Best Artisan Category, proudly supported by Bord Bia. In a first for Blas na hEireann there was a tie for the prize which was won jointly by Tempted? Elderflower Cider and MacIvors Plum and Ginger Cider.
Tempted? cider is made by Davy and Janet Uprichard near Lisburn. MacIvors cider is made by the MacNeice family in Armagh.
“Ciders have done really well this year. We have had to expand the number of categories in this area. With the growth of the cider sector on the island, the producers are reacting to customer demand by developing new flavour combinations such Stonewell which is made with rhubarb juice. It’s a stunning drink” said Awards Chairperson, Artie Clifford.
“This has been such a strong year for so many of our producers. The bar gets raised year on year pushing the producers react accordingly and to constantly improve their offerings. This can only mean that the quality of Irish food and drink is world-class.”
Other key award winners included:
Best New Product which was won by The Purple Pantry for Teeling Small Batch and Ginger Marmalade. Best Start-Up was Dublin City Gin. Best Seafood Innovation went to Kilmore Quay in Wexford for their Breaded Haddock Goujons.
The Best UCC Packaging Innovation Award went to Cracked Black Pepper Beef Bites made by the Monaghan-based company, Rucksnacks. Best Packaging Design, also sponsored by UCC, went to Amodeo Salad Dressing by Tuscany Bistro from Annacotty in Limerick. Rogha na Gaeltachta, proudly supported by Udarás na Gaeltachta went to Folláin Preserves, Cork.
Chef’s Larder awards were given to Cavanagh Free Range Eggs, Co. Fermanagh, Fancy Fungi Mushrooms from Wexford for their Umami Paste, Dexter Beef Dripping from Killenure Dexter in Tipperary, Shellfish Pearls from IASC, Cork and Bog Oak Bitters, also from Cork.
Best in Farmers Market Awards included Antrim; North Coast Smokehouse, Armagh; Burren Balsamics for their Armagh Bramley Apple Infused Balsamic Vinegar, Cavan; Ciste Milis for their Raspberry Bakewell, Clare; Anam Coffee for their Burren Seasonal Espresso Blend, Cork; Freebirds Bakery for their Raspberry Brownie, Donegal; Bidlims Moods for their Mint Jelly, Dublin; Hawthorn Lane Piccalilli, Galway; Mocha Beans, Kerry; Pauline’s Pantry, Kildare; Gibney's Garden Preserves, Kilkenny; Cakeface Pastry, Laois; Jenny's Little Kitchen, Limerick; The Green Apron, Louth; Daisy’s Pantry, Mayo; Clew Bay Cookies, Meath; Tullyard Farm, Offaly; Wild Irish Foragers, Tipperary ; Ayle Foods, Waterford; Pure Food Company, Westmeath; An Olivia Chocolate, Wexford; Wild About, and Wicklow for Daisy Cottage Farm.
Best in County Awards were given to Antrim; Tempted? Elderflower Cider, Armagh; Mac Ivors Plum and Ginger Cider, Carlow; The Village Dairy for their The Village Dairy Fresh Jersey Milk, Cavan; Lakelands Dairy for their Tesco Salted Caramel Ice-cream, Clare; Carrygerry House for their Creamy Seafood Chowder, Cork; Stonewell for their Stonewell Ros Cider, Derry; Morelli’s Frozen Yoghurt with Cherry, Donegal; Green Pastures for their Low Fat Creme Fraiche , Down; Clandeboye Estate Greek Style Yoghurt, Dublin; Dublin City Gin, Fermanagh; Erin Grove preserves for their Sour Cherry and Cracked Black Pepper Fruits for Cheese, Galway; Kylemore Abbey, Kerry; Quinlan’s, Kildare; Rye River Brewing, Kilkenny; Mileeven Fine Foods, Laois; Abbey Farm Foods, Limerick; The Green Apron, Longford; Goodness Grains, Louth ;Hilton Foods, Mayo; Carr and Sons, Meath; What’s for Pudding, Monaghan; IGWT, Offaly; Wild Irish Foragers, Roscommon; Gilligan Meats, Sligo; Aurivo, Tipperary; Ayle Foods, Tyrone; Quinn’s Homemade Gelato, Waterford; Pure Food Company, Westmeath; An Olivia Chocolate, Wexford; Irish Country Meats and Wicklow for Gino’s Italian ice-cream.
The winners were announced at an event during the annual Dingle Food Festival on Saturday 1st October, 2016. More than 2500 products were entered in a total of 120 categories. Finalist judging took place at the Dingle Skellig Hotel on Thursday 29th September, 2016. Preliminary judging took place at UCC. Baking was judged at the Baking Academy of Ireland, Dublin.
The Blas na hEireann awards are the biggest blind tasting of produce in the country. The criteria on which the product is judged as well as the judging system itself, which was developed by Blas na hEireann with the Food Sciences Department of UCC, are now recognised as an international industry standard.
Monday, June 13, 2016
LANDMARK FRENCH DEAL FOR CRAFT IRISH CIDER PRODUCER STONEWELL
|Daniel Emerson (right) of Finnbarra Cider/Nohoval Drinks Company|
and Arthur Lenormand, Marketing Director of House of Beer (France)
· Cork’s Nohoval Drinks Company secures 5 year contract for supply ofFinnbarra Irish Craft Cider to ‘House of Beer’ (France)
· Finnbarra Irish Craft Cider (aka Stonewell Cider) to be distributed and sold nationwide across France.
· Order for first 3 years alone equivalent to the entire 2015 output of Finnbarra/Stonewell Cider.
· House of Beer identifies Finnbarra Irish Craft Cider’s 100% pure apple juice composition as key factor for selection as it targets market dominated by mass-produced cider brands.
Nohoval, County Cork, Ireland & Boulogne Billancourt, Paris, France –: Carlsberg subsidiary, House of Beer (France) and the Nohoval Drinks Company (owned and run by husband and wife team, Daniel and Geraldine Emerson, since 2010), have agreed a five year contract for the supply of Nohoval Drinks’ premium Finnbarra Dry Irish Craft Cider to France. House of Beer, which specialises in premium international, craft and world beers, will sell and distributeFinnbarra Cider (known as Stonewell Cider in Ireland) nationally in France. The total volume ordered by House of Beer in the first three years of the deal alone equates to the entire 2015 output ofFinnbarra by the West Cork-based, family business. Finnbarra Dry Irish Craft Cider will be sold across France in both bottle and draught formats.
House of Beer has identified a growing demand for natural craft cider in a market currently dominated by mass-produced cider brands. The Emerson’s Finnbarra Dry Irish Craft Cider is made from 100% pure apple juice. The result is both an improved taste profile and a healthier drink that is lower in calories, devoid of any sugar or preservatives and both coeliac and vegan friendly.
Finnbarra Irish Craft Cider will be distributed nationally in France to both on and off-trade outlets by House of Beer across the company’s eight operational regions. In the early phase of the five year contract, demand for Finnbarra Irish Craft Cider is expected to come from the core summer holiday market and also the many Irish-themed on-trade premises throughout France. Demand is expected to broaden beyond these core markets over time.
Finnbarra Irish Craft Cider becomes the first cider to be added to the House of Beer portfolio which includes premium beer brands such as Amarcord (Italy), La Bête (French), Brooklyn (US), Guinness Project Beers (Ireland), Kilkenny (Ireland), Mythos (Greece), Moussy (Switzerland), Poretti (Italy), San Miguel (Spain), Smithwicks (Ireland), Staropramen (Czech Republic) and Tuborg (Denmark).
Commenting on the announcement Arthur Lenormand, House of Beer’s Marketing Director said:
“The French market is cornered between Brittany farmhouse and overseas industrial ciders. As with the micro beer sector, wherein lies our established expertise, we are convinced that there is a latent demand amongst French consumers for a new taste experience which will change their patterns of consumption. As a result we are delighted to be able to introduce Finnbarra to them. To enlighten and delight the French consumer with a different style of cider is an exciting challenge and we’re aiming to achieve that with a product of outstanding quality”
The contract is the largest to date for the Nohoval Drinks Company, which was founded by Daniel and Geraldine Emerson at their Nohoval home in West-Cork in 2010. Commenting on the contract, Daniel Emerson said: “This is a landmark deal for us on several levels. A large five year contract for a six year old company allows us to plan our business with greater confidence. That this contract is for a market of 63 million people and with a subsidiary of Carlsberg is a significant endorsement of both our business and our cider.”
Monday, May 23, 2016
Irish Craft CiderA Litfest16 Event
Pete Brown, author of the World’s Best Cider, said the Irish craft cider scene is one of the most exciting right now. The ciders have “high juice content” and the makers “love their apples”. One of the most exciting yes, despite rankling under a very unfair tax regime that would seem to be designed to stifle innovation rather than encourage it.
Take Longueville House Cider Mór as an example. Because producer William O’Callaghan has added a wee spoon of brandy to his basic cider, the tax on Mór is five times the normal. Leslie Williams has raised the general issue many times, saying the current rebate system, which is very good for craft beer makes, is unfair on cider makers. The producers of an excellent wholly Irish product are being punished.
So that's the sour notes out of the way. The rest of this panel discussion, the opening one in the Drinks Theatre at this year’s Ballymaloe Litfest, was focussed on five delicious ciders, five quite different examples, none of which would have been available just a few short years ago.
Pete Brown was joined on the panel by Leslie and by Caroline Hennessy, author of Slainte.
They and the audience were welcomed to the “tractor shed” by Ballymaloe’s Colm McCan as we gathered to hail cider, the drink of the common people for perhaps 2,000 years, according to Pete.
Producer Simon Tyrrell introduced his Craigies 2013 Dalliance. Simon, well known for his wine background, says with Dalliance “we try to express the vinous side of cider”. He mentioned the terroir (Cappoquin Estate, sandstone). The apple blend is fifty fifty between Ekstar and Falstaff, both eating apples, and it spends 15 months on its lees.
Bright fresh fruit with extra creaminess here and you’ll note some cloudiness from the yeasts. Pete Brown said Dalliance proves you can make cider out of eating apples. And this is a good one.
“We use no chemicals at any point” said Rod Calder-Potts as he introduced his organic Highbank Proper Cider 2014. “We encourage microbial activity to counter any malign organisms...Cider makes itself..no sulphites...we put it in a barrell..local yeasts do the rest.”
This was bottled just last week by Con Traas, is 100 per cent apple and naturally dry. Pete loved the contrast between the first two ciders and confessed to being obsessed by yeast, at least with how the yeast converts sugar to alcohol! Leslie reminded us that, compared to beer makers, cider makers get just one chance per year.
And now Leslie introduced yet another type of Irish cider, Cockagee from County Meath. He did mention that there was “devilment” in the name but didn't go into the details. It is keeved, a process common in Brittany and Normandy and explained here on the Cockagee website.
Pete said you can only shake your head with wonder that a process from the 14th or 15th century can still produce a “beautiful natural cider. In a blind tasting, I would class this as Breton and it would be a perfect match with crepes”. Caroline agreed but their hints for crepes went unheeded!
William O’Callaghan, as he introduced his Longueville Mór, disclosed that the first apples in their orchard, planted 25 years ago, were intended for apple brandy rather than cider and that their micro-distillery was the first such in ireland. William, a chef who trained in Normandy, started the move to cider there about two years ago.
The Mór is their regular cider with a drop of apple brandy that “gives it a nice little kick”. It fermented naturally with local yeasts and produced with no sulphite. It went down very well indeed and William is proud of it, quite rightly, “but that tax is a pain!”. Caroline asked him what food would pair with it. On its own or maybe with cheese was the answer. I had it a week or two ago at a cider evening in Electric with fish and chips. Caroline herself was thinking Lemon tart!
|The Ballymaloe five. Dead men.|
We finished with the limited edition (6,000 bottles) Stonewell Tawny 2014. Daniel Emerson told us all about it: “it is a chapitalised dry hop cider..the natural sugar is supplemented with additional sugar and this raises the ABV… minimum aging is 12 months and there is an extraordinary range of flavours over the 12 months”. Lots of tasting, no doubt!
At the end of the process, the cider is “very sweet, like an apple ice-cider”. They decided to counteract this by passing it through Eldorado dry hops. The result was very good and the Tawny has “proved remarkably successful.” And we could all see why. Pete was delighted with it saying it reminded him of a Canadian Ice Cider, “beautiful’.
Overall, it was a great reminder of how far Irish Cider has come in a few years. Perhaps next a tasting of these five might be arranged for the Dail bar and a few home truths delivered at the same time, in the nicest possible way of course!
See also: Hops and Glory. Seven IPAs before breakfast. Only at LITFEST16
Irish Atmospherics at John Wilson Tasting. Mediterranean Island Wines in Spotlight. LITFEST16
See also: Hops and Glory. Seven IPAs before breakfast. Only at LITFEST16
Irish Atmospherics at John Wilson Tasting. Mediterranean Island Wines in Spotlight. LITFEST16