|Fish in Garvey's SuperValu, Dingle|
Blas na hEireann 2015 Award Winners
Spotlight on Best in County Awards
|Ger Kirwan of Goatsbridge Trout Farm|
Year on year, the awarding of Best in County Awards has been growing as a part of the Blas na hEireann Awards in Dingle every October. These awards are presented by the the Local Enterprise Office from the various counties and are much appreciated by the winners.
Blas: “The winners of these awards have reported that being recognised in their own counties has been vital to their businesses where a large portion of their sales are made locally, either in stores or farmers markets.” And it is not just the awards, important as they are, that are appreciated by the producers. They also very much appreciate the support that they receive throughout the year from their Local Enterprise Office.
Actually one of the Local Enterprise officers Joe English let slip that food producers may already have a foot in the door. He said the offices find it hard to resist when someone comes in with good things to eat. You get their attention straight away! So there you are, if you are a food producer, make a beeline for your local office.
Like the Blas awards in general, this shorter list from the Local Enterprise offices reflect the trends happening across the Irish food and drink scene. Here you see craft brewers, gin distillers, sushi makers, cider makers, all relatively new to the stage but, of course, bakers, black pudding makers and, very importantly, chocolate makers also feature.
|Joe's Farm Crisps|
Increasingly, the winning products, either Blas or Local Enterprise, are ending up in prominent position in supermarkets. While walking around Dingle on Saturday morning, I was urged by Walter Ryan-Purcell of Loughbeg Farm, whose Oat Loaf has been a great success in Cork and Kerry Supervalu's, to take a look in the supermarket just behind me.
|Jim's Kerrs Pink in Garvey's|
Garvey’s was something of a revelation. It was completely revamped last May and looks brilliant, spacious and bright, with a great layout. And, encouragingly for me, there were lots and lots of what is loosely called “artisan” food. They love their spuds in Kerry, grow some terrific ones up around Ballydavid and Ballyferriter, even have annual hotly contested tastings, and local spuds and veg were prominent.
Then I took a look at one of the cheese displays, seeing Dingle Gold, Crozier Blue (one of my favourites and a Blas winner) along with their own brand cheeses. They have a very inviting fish display, most of it fresh from the nearby seas. But right smack bang in the middle were fillets of the farmed trout from Kilkenny’s Goatsbridge, a winner at Blas this year.
|Cathal of De Roiste|
On a shelf nearby, I spotted Longueville cider and the local Cronin's cider, beers by Eight Degrees and Galway Bay Brewery. Lots of foreign beers too but at least the Irish were up there, battling shoulder to shoulder. And naturally enough, Dingle gin and vodka has a display case to itself!
I’m told quite a few SuperValu managers are visiting Garvey’s to see what the future looks like. Looks pretty good for Irish producers to me, even if my look-around was far from forensic. Not all producers go the Blas route but a win in Dingle (be it gold, silver or bronze, or recognition by your county) is a boost to the producer and quite possibly a boost to his or her sales figures as well.
Best in County Awards 2015
Best in Carlow: Sunshine Juice
Best in Farmers Market: The Chocolate Garden of Ireland
Best in County: Aran Ard Teo – Gallaghers
Best in Farmers Market: Mallow Mia
Best in Galway: Galway Hooker Brewery
Best in Farmers Market: Tribal Foods
Best in Kerry: O’Donnells
Best in Farmers Market: Dingle Sushi
Best in Kildare: Aedamar’s Lemon Curd
Best in Farmers Market: L’Art du Chocolat
Best in Louth: Dan Kelly’s Cider
Best in Farmers Market: Daisy’s Pantry
Best in Mayo: Kelly’s of Newport
Best in Meath: Big Red Kitchen
Best in Farmers Market: Blaste & Wilde
Best in Roscommon County: Waldrons
Best in Roscommon Town: Gilligans
Best in Tipperary: Piedmontese Beef
Best in Farmers Market: Ayle Farm Foods
Best in Waterford: Blackwater Distillery
Best in Farmers: Market Pure Food Company
Best in Westmeath: Mr Crumb
Best in Farmers Market: An Olivia Chocolate
Best in Wexford: Wexford Preserves
Best in Farmers Market: Naturally Cordial
Best in Cork South: De Roiste Puddings
Best in Farmers Market: Joe’s Farm Crisps
Best in County Moonriver Chocolates
Best in Farmers Market Silver Darlings
You may see the full list of Blas winners for 2015 here.