|Three Star Bacon and Cabbage|
(with orange, mustard and redcurrant sauce)
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Monday, November 12, 2018
Taste of the Week
James Whelan Rack of Roasting Bacon
With the now well-established move to a more modern Irish cuisine, a few people were led to forget the past or at least to look down on it, and that meant putting the traditional bacon and cabbage well down the ranking as if it were something to boot out of the Irish kitchen.
Thankfully many, including a few leading chefs, knew that the past had many lessons for the future. Bacon and cabbage devotees meanwhile stuck with their favourite and are now reaping the rewards. Take the James Whelan Rack of Roasting Bacon for example.
Here's what the Great Taste judges had to say as they gave it a coveted 3 Star Award: "An impressive looking piece of bacon, with a good layer of fat, well caramelised. There is a good amount of juice when cut into, and it cut quite easily. The meat was succulent and soft, and there was a great piggy flavour and subtle smokiness. The flavours of the meat were superb and very well balanced through the curing. Clearly a quality piece of pork, and well looked after”
This Taste of the Week is all that and more. We tried it out recently. I’m a long time bacon and cabbage devotee and I have to say that this is the best bacon dish ever. Big thanks to three: James Whelan of course, Bord Bia for the fantastic recipe (including that amazing orange, mustard and redcurrant sauce) and finally to the official Blog Chef herself.
A superb treat that could well make the turkey redundant this Christmas!
Thursday, January 4, 2018
SeaFest Rotation Gone by the Bord?
Millions Slip Through Cork Nets as Galway Gains
|Rory O'Connell, a regular at SeaFest|
Ireland’s national maritime festival SeaFest attracted 101,113 visitors to Galway Harbour during the three day event in 2017, generating €6.3 million for the city.
The figures, details here, showed a phenomenal 68% growth in attendance in just one year. The 2016 SeaFest saw 60,000 visitors attend the festival in Galway, and in 2015, its inaugural year, it netted 10,000 visitors.
It has been confirmed that SeaFest 2018 will take place in Galway from 29th June to 1st July. It incorporates a series of marine-related business and research events, the annual Our Ocean Wealth Summit, as well as a maritime festival.
Run by the Marine Institute, with major partners BIM (Bord Iascaigh Mara) and Bord Bia, the initial Seafest was held in Ringaksiddy, County Cork, in 2015 when The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, was Simon Coveney TD. Report on the Cork event here.
There was much more than fish demos in Ringaskiddy with linked events around the harbour including Captain Your Own Ship in the Simulator of the National Maritime College, the base for the event. There were SeaFest Science Talks, the BIM Beaufort Scale Hurricane Experience, Marine Recreation and Tourism and much more.
It was a two day event and the impression given then was that this festival would “tour” Ireland annually and “plans are in hand to bring it to Galway in 2016”. So Cork is not the only loser as the Festival now seems set for a permanent stay in Galway. Fishing places such as Killybegs (Ireland’s largest fishing port), Dingle, Kilmore Quay, Howth, Greenore, Castletownbere, Burtonport, Dunmore East and Greencastle, and Cork of course, will be wondering and, one suspects, waiting.
Read all about SeaFest and its success in Galway here.
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Irish Food Companies Honoured at Bord Bia Awards
~ Bord Bia Food & Drink Awards 2015 ~
|Pictured are Michael Carey, Chairman, Bord Bia (left) and Simon Coveney TD, Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (right) with Tim Ryan and Eoin Doyle from Glanbia’s Avonmore Supermilk, Ireland’s leading milk brand, which was named the Branding Award winner. For more details on the winners, see www.bordbia.ie/awards .|
The achievements of eight Irish food companies were recognised at the Bord Bia Food and Drink Awards in Dublin’s Mansion House last night. The Awards, held every two years, reward excellence within the Irish food and drink industry across eight categories – Branding, Consumer Insight, Digital Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Exporting, Innovation, Success at Home and Sustainability. Over 300 industry representatives from Ireland’s leading food and drink companies gathered for the ceremony, where they also heard from guest speaker, Joe Schmidt, the Irish Rugby Team’s Head Coach who provided his insight into leadership and teamwork.
Opening the event, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Mr. Simon Coveney T.D. said, “I am delighted to be here at the ‘Oscars’ of the sector as we take pride in the exceptional achievements of our food and drink companies. Last year’s record €10.5 billion in exports follows five years of sustained growth by the sector, which is now well positioned as it seeks to expand towards its €19 billion export goal set in Food Wise 2025. He added, “As the industry continues to develop premium positions in established markets, significant progress is also being made in opening up new markets that can help sustain its growth. I am deeply conscious that business is not easily won and Irish food and drink companies are to be commended for their success and determination in developing Ireland’s largest indigenous industry. “
In congratulating the winners, Aidan Cotter, Chief Executive, Bord Bia said “As the industry seeks to grow output and expand its export reach, it is important to recognise the achievements and ongoing progress of the sector, which are underpinning growth and competitiveness and elevating the industry’s reputation at home and abroad. The awards highlight the talent, imagination and sheer professionalism that is at the heart of the industry’s current success and that will secure its continued growth and expansion.”
This year, Bord Bia received in excess of 160 award entries across the eight categories which were judged by an independent judging panel (see Notes to Editor for details). Gallagher’s Bakery was honoured with two awards while two companies received Sustainability Awards reflecting the high calibre of entries. The overall category award winners included: (See Notes to Editor for full profiles)
· Export and Entrepreneurial Awards - Gallagher’s Bakery was honoured in both the Export and Entrepreneurial categories, for what the judges described as a “stunning success story and turnaround demonstrating great credibility and huge ambition”. Gallagher’s Bakery, established in 1968 as a family run business in Ardara, Co. Donegal, traditionally serviced the North West region with conventional bakery products, until 2012 when they entered the gluten free market having identified the scale of opportunity. The company now employs 260 people, up from 95 in 2012, with employment expected to continue to grow further. Export growth has been steep, now accounting for more than 70% of turnover, while the compnay successfully trades with some of the biggest retailers in the world.
· Innovation Award – Nobó, founded by Brian and Rachel Nolan, has produced the world's first dairy free alternative to ice cream made from avocado and coconut milk. The brand name ’Nobó’, meaning no cow, has played a clever role in communicating the Irishness and dairy free approach. The judges highlighted the “strong vision for future development” noting that the product has already successfully grown with retail and foodservice listings nationwide and they are exporting to Dubai and about to expand into the UK market.
· Success at Home Award – Celtic Pure, a family owned company established in 2000 by the McEneaneys, has grown to sell over 40 million bottles of Irish spring water. Over the past eight years, the lowest percentage increase on sales year on year was 15%. Last year, the company invested over €3m in a new bottling line that increased the production capacity to 100 million bottles per annum. The company, which the judges deemed a “great Irish success story”, has also built a strong management team which the judges stated was crucial to the company’s success.
· Branding Award – Glanbia’s Avonmore SuperMilk, Ireland’s leading milk brand, outperformed overall milk sales by as much as 6.3% in volume terms in a sector with declining sales, and consumer brand awareness and loyalty increased across the board. The campaign, called “Playground of Life”, was based on insight that consumers are increasingly concerned about the lack of vitamin D in the diet and posing Super Milk as the solution.
· Digital Marketing Award - Britvic Ireland’s Club Orange #thebestbits campaign was created to tap into themes of Irishness, nostalgia and colloquial humour. The campaign reached over 5.3 million influencers through online and PR mentions, while over 350,000 consumers viewed the video content on Facebook and YouTube. Club Orange sales increased by close to 10% compared to the previous year. The judges remarked on the low budget utilised compared to the results achieved, as well as on their innovative use of crowd sourcing to develop concepts from loyal Club Orange fans.
· Consumer Insight Award – Glenisk used consumer insight to develop their new range of high protein, authentically strained Greek Yogurt. The judges acknowledged the “huge lengths” Glenisk went to get a deep understanding of their consumer, in commissioning intensive research over a 12 month period and in engaging with consumers to innovatively ‘co-create’ the new range in a difficult yogurt category. Since its launch in April, it has already delivered a 10% increase in revenue for Glenisk.
Sustainability Award Boasts Competitive Edge
Due to the competitive nature of the category, the high calibre of entries and the strategic importance of Origin Green, Bord Bia’s sustainability programme, the judges deemed it appropriate to recognise the efforts of two companies. Aidan Cotter stated, “In a week when Bord Bia hosted its inaugural Global Sustainability Forum and released its first Origin Green report, it is encouraging to note the importance placed on sustainability by food and drink producers, with over a quarter of the total entries received for this award. This is also evident in the fact that, over 85% of total Irish food and drink exports are now coming from companies that are fully verified members of Origin Green. Sustainability is an established driver for the industry in terms of how it conducts business, and Origin Green has provided a renewed sense of purpose of how we can be different and still make a difference in a challenging marketplace.”
· The judges recognised Glanbia Ingredients Ireland, Ireland’s leading dairy company, processing 1.8 billion litres of milk annually into a range of ingredients for export to over 60 countries, for their outstanding achievements in this area. As a founding member of Origin Green, GII is committed to auditing its entire milk supply base to establish a baseline under a number of sustainability indicators by 2016. Their ambition is to reduce carbon emissions by 10% by 2020, zero waste to landfill by 2015 and a 25% reduction in water abstraction by 2020. The judges felt Glanbia Ingredients Ireland was “in a league of its own, with a great story to tell, while the integrity of the business plan was very impressive”.
· Island Seafoods Ltd is a family owned and run business, which was established in 1986 in the popular fishing village of Killybegs. Both the quantity and quality of sustainability undertakings surprised the judges for a company of its size. They were also impressed by the level of innovation in driving sustainability within their business. For instance, new technology has given them the ability to track the kWh consumed per tonne of fish processed. As part of their Origin Green sustainability plan, they are working to reduce the overall operational electricity usage and water consumption for cooling and cleaning by 15% by 2016. In addition, there is a comprehensive plan in place in terms of food waste, renewable energy, cold store lighting and social sustainability.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Potatoes in Sea-water!
The Gender of Crabs.All at SeaFest in Ringaskiddy!
|Good for soup. Gerard Collier and a Conger eel|
Chef and author Rory O’Connell urged his audience to cook their new potatoes in sea-water “for at least once in your life” while BIM’s Young Fishmonger of the Year Gerard Collier told us how to distinguish a female crab from a male, all that and so much more at the very interesting SeaFest at Ringaskiddy over the weekend. I called there Saturday morning and enjoyed the demos (missed Martin Shanahan as he was on in the afternoon) and visited the fish stalls along with quite a few of the other sea related exhibits.
Gerard Collier, a former trawlerman, of Fisherman's Catch, Clogherhead, Co. Louth, was first up on the splendidly outfitted demo unit in Ringaskiddy and took us through the handling of fish: how to open the various shellfish, how to clean, debone and fillet everything from Grey Mullet to Thornback Ray.
|This is one strong creature!|
“There are sixty six bones in a salmon,” he said “and getting them out is tedious!” If you come across a Conger Eel by the way, they are “great for soup”. He had a grey mullet to show as well and, referring to its diet, called it “the vegetarian fish”.
He worked his way through the oysters and prawns, a cod and pollock and more and then sent them down, one by one, so the audience could see them close up.
The crabs and lobsters were quite an attraction but he had a warning: “Be careful. Both are very strong!” And how to recognize Lady Crab. Simple - she has a pouch (to carry her young!).
|Dublin Bay Prawn, all ready for you!|
Ballymaloe's Rory O’Connell was next on-stage and he did two dishes. One was Roast Haddock with Roasted Pepper, Basil and Olive Salsa and the other was Pan-fried Hake with a Bretonne Sauce.
By the way, that Salsa is terrific and will keep for three weeks or more in the fridge. The Bretonne sauce “is easier to make” than Hollandaise.
|Cook it well with Rory O'Connell|
We all got recipe sheets and loads of tips as well. Rory, as you’ll know from his reputation as a teacher in Ballymaloe and from his TV shows, is a brilliant person to learn from. He has the cooking down to such a fine art (though he has to keep an eye on what’s happening on the pan as much as anyone else) that he always seems to have time to dispense great hints and tips.
- As he roasted some vine-ripened Heritage tomatoes, he urged us to use Extra Virgin Olive Oil all the time, “even frying or grilling”.
- Red and yellow peppers are best for roasting. Roast them until they collapse (then remove the seeds and skin).
- Use boiling water for new potatoes, cold water for old. And try potatoes in seawater, at least once in your life!
- Egg whites freeze perfectly.
- Chervil is great with fish and is surprisingly hardy. Fish love herbs.
There was much more than fish in Ringaskiddy and in linked events around the harbour including Captain Your Own Ship in the Simulator of the National Maritime College, the base for the event. There were SeaFest Science Talks, the BIM Beaufort Scale Hurricane Experience, Marine Recreation and Tourism and more and more.. This festival will “tour” Ireland annually and plans are in hand to bring it to Galway in 2016.
|Superb innovative products from IASC|
Friday, May 16, 2014
Schull Country Market
Cornucopia in a Car Park
|Dave from Shehymore Free Range Farm|
Sunday morning and the car park near the pier in Schull in transformed into a cornucopia, a profusion of good things to eat and drink from the locality. And not just food as there are also stalls that feature high quality crafts, also from the local area. The Schull Country Market, one of the first markets in the country to be approved under the new Bord Bia ‘Good Practice Standard’, is well worth a visit as I discovered last Sunday after a ninety minute drive from the city.
While I had met some of the stallholders before, including Gubbeen and West Cork Pies, Loughbeg's Walter Ryan-Purcell, who runs the Fresh from West Cork stall in the city's English Market, made sure I knew most of the others before I left.
Modest Walter introduced me to his wife Josephine (together they run Loughbeg Farm) and son Jack. You can get their gorgeous chutneys here and in the English Market and we were lucky on Sunday to get a taste of some products that they’ll have on the market soon.
Watch out in particular for their Goats Milk Ice-creams. They have a range of flavours, including a beautiful banana one. These are highly recommended. Another likely hit is their Num Num range, for juniors over 12 months. Not sure I’m qualified (well, I suppose I am over 12 months) but I got a couple of samples to taste. These are the Ratatouille with Steline Pasta and the Three Cheese Macaroni; these are gluten free with no added salt or sugar. Tried both and they are full of flavour. Lucky juniors!
Enjoyed a chat too with Willie McCarthy who now sells fish rather than catching it. His fish is fresh! His man does no more than two casts at a time and then makes for the shore and Willie. McCarthy also has a stall in Togher (Clashduv Road) and it is is proving a popular draw every Thursday morning.
Local grower Tim York produces a variety of chemical-free summer vegetables - specialising in tomatoes, French beans and mixed leaves and asparagus - with other fresh vegetables in season. On Sunday his Lisheen Organics stall was full of veg, including in season asparagus. That was irresistible but the first of his vegetables that we tried was a super fresh bag of Pak Choi that went very well indeed with a piece of smoked bacon from Fingal Ferguson of Gubbeen.
As you probably know, Fingal and his family produce delicious smoked meats, cheeses, salami, sausage, pork and burgers from their own farm and smokehouse near Schull. Like us all they were enjoying the sunshine on Sunday and all are looking forward to a great weekend at the Ballymaloe LitFest. By the way, we had a little of the bacon left over on the Monday and CL put it to good use in an omelette, a great way of further enjoying the flavour and texture.
Fingal introduced me to a new product made in Skibbereen by Scratch my Pork. The main ingredient is Irish Pork Pig Rind and it comes in various flavours, including Smokey Bacon, Mexican and Cajun. Crispy and very tasty stuff indeed!
I have sung the praises of West Cork Pies on this blog before. They are very good indeed and they don't stand still, new flavours coming onstream all the time. And they are having some fun with the names. On Sunday, I bought one called The Dragon Pie (chilli included!). It was hot for sure. And of a very high quality, like all their previous pies I’ve tasted. The ethos of the company is excellent as you can see from the photo.
Had a talk too with Dave Loukes of Shehymore Free Range Farm selling his poultry and eggs. He had some tempting whole chickens for sale but we bought a couple of breasts. At present Shehymore are selling just the chickens and eggs but coming soon are Free Range Pork and Young Beef and they’ll also be doing Marinated Chicken Fillets.
Frank Krawczyk is well known in West Cork and beyond for the quality of his charcuterie and we were looking forward to having one of his high quality sandwiches at the end of our turn around the stalls. But we left it a little late and Frank had run out of bread. Still he cooked up some of his flavoursome sausages and served us lunch in a bowl. We thoroughly enjoyed the meat and the salad, complete with flowers and sauce. A superb lunch. Well a superb main course, as a tub of Walter’s brilliant banana ice-cream served as a delicious dessert!
Bought lots of other bits and pieces including honey, brown bread and Wild Garlic Pesto. Would have liked a crepe from Lillian but Frank and Walter had filled us but we did enjoy a quality coffee from Shane who uses coffee from Badger and Dodo and who we met a few weeks back in Bantry.
Great to meet Shiona James as we were very impressed with the work of husband Nigel James. He creates beautiful and functional vases, jugs, dishes and bowls, finished in his own attractive glazes. All items are hand-thrown, from stoneware and porcelain clays and are intended for everyday use, being safe for oven and dishwashers.
Not all the regular crafts people were there on Sunday but there was some excellent wood products from Gary (he works mainly with bog oak, also does small “wish sticks” called Unicorn Wands!) and by Malcolm (who works with all kinds of wood).
Peppermint Farm is a busy place but Doris Hoffman was concentrating on her herbs and herb teas at Schull on Sunday. She has quite a selection, all made in West Cork. I came away with a bag of her relaxing tea. Just had a cuppa there a few minutes ago….zzzzzzzzz
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Blossom Walks - Open Day at Irish Apple Farms Nationwide
~ Bord Bia and Irish Apple Grower Association to host series of Blossom Walks ~
Bord Bia, in conjunction with the Irish Apple Growers Association, is delighted to announce details of the inaugural ‘Blossom Walk’ which will take place on Saturday, 3rd May. As part of the event, seven apple farms and orchards nationwide will open their doors and gates to the public. From Cahir to Cappoquin, members of the public will be invited to enjoy guided walks, engage with the growers, learn about the history of the individual farms and discover apple growing techniques. There will also be an opportunity to purchase some of the grower’s produce.
The value of Irish apple production is almost €4 million according to Bord Bia and trade estimates. Culinary and dessert apple production accounts for 80% of the production value (€3.15 million), while cider apple production accounts for 20% (€0.78 million). Approximately 15,000 tonnes of Irish apples are sold each year with culinary apples representing 47% of total sales. There are currently 83 commercial apple growers in Ireland.
Speaking ahead of ‘Blossom Walk’, Olan McNeece from the Irish Apple Growers Association said “We look forward to offering visitors a unique opportunity to see how the Irish apple growing industry works first-hand. While no entrance fee will be charged, any donations made on the day will be given to “Blossom Ireland”, a very worthwhile charity who provide dedicated, therapy-led camps and after school activities for children with intellectual disabilities.”
For more information, event listings and recipes visit www.bordbia.ie
Participating Apple Farms:
The Apple Farm
Moorstown, Cahir, Co. Tipperary
Lnockane, Ovens, Co. Cork
Gilbert’s Orchard & Farm Shop
Ferns, Enniscorthy, Co.Wexford
Cappoquin Estate, Cappoquin,Co.Waterford
Boyne Grove Fruit Farm
Stameen, Drogheda, Co.Meath
Blossom Ireland was founded by two mothers passionate in the belief that their boys with special needs deserve the same opportunities as all children. Their goal is to go some way towards filling the gap between the available public services and the actual needs of the child and their family, particularly during out of school hours. Currently we provide dedicated, therapy led camps and after school activities for children with intellectual disabilities aged between 8 and 15 years.
Blossom Ireland is a very young charity financed 100% by donations and fundraising.