Showing posts with label Goatsbridge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Goatsbridge. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

James Whelan opens 8th Butcher’s Shop. Son Pat keeps his feet on the ground.


James Whelan opens 8th Butcher’s Shop
Son Pat keeps his feet on the ground.
Display at new Whelan's shop in Dunnes Stores, Bishopstown Court.

I met Pat Whelan at the original James Whelan shop in Clonmel in November 2011. He took time out to have chat about that shop and also a new one in Avoca in Monkstown (Dublin) to which he was applying the finishing touches. Now he has eight in total. Progress has been amazing. 

I met Pat again at Dunnes Stores Bishopstown Court last Friday. He was there to play a role in the weekend celebration of the extensive renovations of the popular supermarket, a weekend to highlight the newcomers to the store including Whelan’s, Sheridan’s Cheese, ABC Bread, O’Connell Fishmongers, Baxter and Greens and Café Sol. 
Part of the new food hall

Again, the Tipperary man took time out for a chat. I reminded him about our first meeting and how he enjoyed going out to the marts and farms to meet the producers. Has the expansion put a stop to that? 

I was glad to get the answer that it hadn’t, an answer that I had more or less expected from a man who stays in touch with the grassroots, staying connected to the source. He goes out weekly and told me that only the Tuesday before he had bought about 40 cattle in the Fermoy Mart but what I hadn’t expected was that his 80 year father, after whom the shops are named, was on the road with him. Respect to both!
Dunnes Kiwi chef Matthew Brownie was promising the Irish an All Black grilling ahead of the big game.
He was just joking, of course!

But some things have of course changed and not just over the last seven years. Pat was (still is) a regular visitor to the English Market in the good old days. Then he felt it “was alive” when he walked through. It certainly was in your face. The food scene began to change back in 60s and 70s. It became “sanitised”, the connection with its source fragmenting, we agreed, me thinking of sliced pan and supermarkets as being among the agents of change.
O'Connell fishmongers

People like Pat, and luckily there are quite a few of them, kept the flame alive. “Good food is an investment in your future,” he says. “Great to see the youngsters coming into it, great to see them make the connection and great to see it done right. We owe it to ourselves and to the planet to really reconnect with nature.”

“Training is important,” he emphasised in answer to my query about Whelan’s Butcher Academy. Indeed, the good work of the academy has been recognised by a counterpart in South West France. “They want to do an Erasmus exchange with us where our trainees can swap experience with their French counterparts. It’s great for us to be recognised like that and great too for the apprentices.”
Whelan's Himalayan salt aged beef, before and after (so tender!)

The eight Whelan butcher shops are in Clonmel, Dunnes Stores Cornelscourt, The Swan Centre Rathmines, Dunnes Stores Blanchardstown Centre, Pavilions Shopping Centre, Swords, Avoca in Rathcoole and Kilmacanogue as well as Dunnes Stores Bishopstown Court. Pat is very happy about the link-up (now 30 months old) with Dunnes seeing them as a family company that “is all about the customer, the Better Value is not just a slogan, and they are very warmly regarded in Cork".

And it looks as if the Whelan shop is warmly regarded as well. “We’ve had a great welcome from our fellow debutants, Pat O’Connell’s and Sheila of ABC”. Whelan will have in-house competition from Dunne’s own butchers. He knows that his produce is top class and may cost a little more. A customer may like a treat at the weekend and something good but less pricey on a Monday. “Retail is all about choice,” he says and is quite happy with that.

Earlier Donnacha, the manager of Whelan's Bishopstown shop, showed me some of that choice. The Tralee native has worked for two and half years for Pat in Dublin and jumped at that chance to get back nearer home. “We started off four weeks ago and it took off straightaway, so far so good. Now we’re setting up for Christmas.”
And where there's Dunnes, there's Simply Better

The shop has a beautiful lay-out and lighting. It is well manned with expert help at hand as you choose between the different meats and the different cuts. 

A lot of the weekend focus was on “the big reveal”, the collaboration between Pat Whelan and Peter Hannan which has resulted in the amazing Himalayan Salt Aged Beef, now on sale exclusively in Whelan’s eight shops and at their online shop.

Hannan has constructed a Salt Chamber made of rock salt bricks from the Himalayas and here the beef spends over 35 days and the final result is exceptional quality with a truly unique flavour.  More details here.  

“We got a great welcome to Cork,” said Kevin Sheridan of Sheridan's as we chatted in front of their very impressive stall. And I use the word stall deliberately as it does resemble a market display. A big stall, mind you. Space to display the many cheeses - lots of Cork produce there too - and all the little bits and pieces (crackers, relishes for example) that go with them.
Yours truly with
Kevin Sheridan.

‘We have more Cork cheese here - in Galway we would have more from Galway - and find the customers very enthusiastic. Great to be in Dunnes too, as they are part of the Cork heritage.”

“We started as a small cheese stand, and this weekend, we are celebrating the opening of the Cork Bishopstown Court location with many local producers that we are proud to call our friends. We feel so lucky to work with many quality Irish producers and are thrilled to share their amazing work all under one roof in Dunnes.”

Like Pat, Kevin emphasised the importance of training. Sheridan’s have brought some of their more experienced people from their other shops to Cork for the time being, passing on that experience, all for the benefit of the customer.

Didn’t see Pat O’Connell himself but got lots of fish there, some frozen, some fresh, and some smoked (including Goatsbridge trout produced by my friend Mag Kirwan in Kilkenny). Must go back and try that red mullet! 

Also met some regulars on the food scene: Padraig O’Farrell was showing his Carrigaline cheeses at Sheridan’s and Aoife was doing a Kinsale Bay tasting nearby while Dunne’s Kiwi chef Matthew was threatening to grill the Irish at the rugby! Could have spent the day there but time caught up with me.

  • You may see a YouTube clip of Peter Hannan’s salt chamber here.
  • And see Hannan cook those amazing steaks here. 


Thursday, July 5, 2018

Long Live the King’s Head. Food, Fun in Medieval Bistro and Bar.



Long Live the King’s Head.
Food, Fun in Medieval Bistro and Bar.
King Scallops
It’s like a mini rambla in Galway’s Latin Quarter as we work our way through the strollers, the chatters, the crowds circled around the musicians, to a small archway and the entrance to the King’s Head Bistro. 


Some are eating outside this hot sunny evening but we make our way in to a warm welcome in the restaurant itself, taking in the long wall filled with a huge variety of plates. Here, and later in the neighbouring bar, we would have good food and good fun.
Starters. Trout, crab
“We are strong on fish here,” is the message from Chef Brendan Keane. The concentration we learn is very much on local and seasonal, light rather than heavy sauces, and, before he goes back to work, Brendan tells us the strawberries are perfect at the moment.


I go along with Brendan and order two of his specials, beginning with the Pan-fried crab claws in garlic and chilli butter with organic salad. Hard to beat crab claws but this modest chef’s simple treatment takes them to another level. 
Meanwhile, CL is happily renewing acquaintance with an old friend, the trout from Kilkenny’s Goatsbridge Farm. The Barbecued Smoked Trout Salad, to give it its full title, consists of trout, rosemary roasted baby potatoes, pickled red onion, watercress, dill and mustard dressing.


At that stage, we were sipping our glasses of the local Galway Hooker Ale. Later, our server Sorcha would introduce us, guests of the bistro, to the King’s Head Blood Red Ale, the bistro’s own-label beer (by Galway Hooker) and a bloody good one it is, especially with food.

And more food was soon on the way. Again mine came from the specials list: Panfried king scallops, tender-stem broccoli, baby roast potatoes, crispy Andarl farm pancetta and butter sauce. A terrific combination of flavour and texture.

Fish-lover CL picked the organic salmon, a baked fillet of Clare Island salmon, colcannon and organic creamed spinach. Sounds simple. It was. Simply superb.

Nice head. Blood red ale!
Just in case you think it’s all fish here, it’s not. The menu is quite wide ranging and includes Lamb, Vegetable risotto, Veggie Dahl, Burger, Steak, Feather-blade of Beef, and Chicken. We are in on a Thursday evening and the place is busy, seats filling up again within minutes of being vacated.

After our delicious strawberry meringue dessert, we strolled over to the nearby King’s Head Bar, also owned by Paul and Mary Grealish. We had been in here too the previous evening and knew what to expect. It was just as busy and lively. The bar rambles on from room to room in this amazing building that dates back to medieval times. And, after the World Cup, the music comes on and the craic intensifies.

We park ourselves on a couple of vacant seats by the Havana Club section and watch them shake and make cocktail after cocktail before I finish the lovely night with a Drumshanbo Gunpowder Gin. The King’s Head is a brilliant place to have food and fun. Long live the king. Slainte!


Also on this trip

The Aniar Experience
Kitchen at Galway City Museum
Getaway to the City of the Tribes. Galway






Thursday, July 20, 2017

Back to the Garden for Maryborough Chef. A Delicious New Summer-time Menu at Bellini’s

Back to the Garden for Maryborough Chef
A Delicious New Summer-time Menu at Bellini’s

Sea Bream

Hotel dining rooms are improving all over the city and Bellini’s at the Maryborough is at the forefront thanks to Head Chef Gemma Murphy and her team.

Gemma is renowned for her presentation skills. But there is substance galore behind the style on your plate. She is well able to source good produce, with the emphasis on local and seasonal, and cook it to perfection.

Macroom Buffalo Cheese, Goatsbridge Trout, La Rousse Fine Foods, Keeling’s Fruit and Vegetables, Matt O'Connell Seafood, the English Market and Ballinwillin Boar and Venison are among her sources.

And it's getting even more local! She has developed a vegetable and herb garden “so she can ensure only the best will be used in her cooking”.
Breads

Delighted to get the chance to try the new menu. After a warm welcome, we were seated comfortably and starting to make the choices. Not that easy as all the dishes appealed.

I was looking at the starters and found it difficult to get past the first two. Eventually though the Ballinwillin Wild Boar (Pea and Watercress Pannacotta, Apricot Mustarda) “won” against the Grilled Mackerel. The boar and venison coming from the Mulcahy's in Ballinwillin is top notch and this superb dish added another dimension.
Wild Boar


CL too had a difficult choice toying with the Assiette of Summer Vegetables (with Macroom ricotta) before settling on the Scallops (Bacon Dashi, Compressed Pineapple, Picked Shimeji, Cubanelle Chilli Oil). Another winner. The dashi was poured on at the table and the little umami mushrooms, like everything other element, played a tasty role. 

No big creamy sauces for the chef here. We both went for fish in the mains and each of us was very happy. CL enjoyed the Sea Bream Fillets (Grilled Asparagus, Charred Onion, Salt Baked Fingerling Potatoes, Shellfish Bisque, Squid Ink Dressing) while my Pan seared fillet of Cod (Braised Beluga Lentils, Fava Beans, Heritage Tomato, Grapefruit and Saffron Puree) was another delight.
Scallops

And of course there were sides; the House Fries and Market Vegetables (a substitute on the night for the  carrots) were our choices, both well up to standard.

So how about dessert? Some excellent choices here. Was looking at the Coconut and Yuzu Pannacotta before settling on the Pimm’s Jelly (Foraged Elderflower Scented Mascarpone Strawberry Sorbet, Shortbread). That was shared, our server diplomatically placing it centre-table. Service was excellent throughout. And another empty plate went back!

There are some fantastic wines on the list here, including quite a few by the glass and also a selection by the half-bottle. Once we decided on the fish, we ordered a glass of white each. One was the  German Eins-Zwei-Dry Riesling, smooth and fruity and dry for sure. The other was the Ara Della Valle Pinot Grigio, smooth and persistent. Both feature on the house white list, along with a few more.
Cod

If don't want the full menu of the restaurant, well take a look at the Bellini bar daytime menu here.  Here too, you’ll see Lots of cocktails on offer and you can also sample the local craft beer by the Franciscan Well Brewery.

And they also do Afternoon Tea in the Garden Room. And if the kids come, well there’s even an Afternoon Tea Menu for them. If you need to be pampered at any time, just follow the sounds of flowing water to the spa. And I'd better mention, they also have a gym!
Dessert

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Kernel Kilkenny. Maria’s Up and Running

Kernel Kilkenny

Maria’s Up and Running
Salmon
So here you are in the kitchen with this lot in front of you: Salmon, sugar snaps, mint, new potatoes, Toonsbridge feta, butternut squash, lime dressing. What to do? Well, check with Maria Raftery, the owner-chef at Kernel, Kilkenny’s newest restaurant. She grilled the salmon and put all the other ingredients together in a magical manner to produce one of the best salmon dishes you're likely to come across.

It is one of the main dishes on the new menu at the restaurant which has taken up most of the front of the Kilkenny Inn on Vicar Street. And the dish, and others, amply illustrate that Maria has lost none of her innovative qualities that shone through over 17 years at Zuni, also in Kilkenny.
Goatsbridge trout
 Kernel Restaurant and Bar, to give it its full title, will be running hand in hand with the hotel and is providing the breakfast for the lucky patrons. Brunch and dinner is also available, even afternoon teas for both ladies and gents!


Back to our visit. While CL was finishing off the salmon and singing its praises, I was tucking into something a little less complicated: the Kernel Angus Beef Burger, smoked Gubbeen, burger sauce, pickle-slaw, house fries. Less complicated maybe but still a perfect combination of textures and flavours.
Ham Hock Scotch Egg
CL had started the meal with Goatsbridge Trout Ceviche, Nori Seaweed, Smoked Trout Mousse, Roe Dressing. Hard to beat that. You’ll notice that Kernel has started by supporting local producers and Goatsbridge Trout Farm is one of the best.

I didn't do too badly either with my Ham Hock Scotch Egg, Piccalilli. Lacked nothing in either quantity or quality, full of good flavour and a really satisfying opening to my visit to Kernel.
 The dessert list is short but still left us puzzled, a puzzle we solved by ordering the Assiette of Desserts, a sweet solution.


They’ve got a pretty good wine list, three suppliers contributing to a good balance overall. We made a bit of a compromise, an enjoyable one, on the Cantina Frentana, Montepulciano D’Abbruzo, fruity and smooth, and twenty five euro the bottle.
Dessert - for sharing!
Had noticed a few (quite a few actually) craft beers on the list including Franciscan Well, Costello’s, O’Hara’s, Free Bird and Hop Adventure (both from Carlow) and Falling Apple Cider (also Carlow). The taps on the bar heralded the three variations of Smithwick's (Red Ale, Pale Ale and the Blonde) but I'm sorry I missed out on the tap for O’Sullivan’s Malted Red Ale, a local beer (now revived) that was produced before Smithwick started in 1710. Next time!
See also

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Greene’s Lunch. Three Great Courses. Two Tell-tale Candles!

Greene’s Lunch.
Three Great Courses. Two Tell-tale Candles!

Looking for a lunch that will please both the stomach and the wallet? Stop under the waterfall and call to Greene’s in McCurtain Street. 

That’s what I did last Sunday for a birthday treat. Well, it had been arranged well in advance as we had quite a group, mainly family. 

The amazing set lunch menu comes in at €21.50 for two courses, €24.50 for three. And you are guaranteed a terrific meal, cooked and served up by top chef Bryan McCarthy and his colleagues in the kitchen and front of house. I know quite a few guests from last Sunday will be going back again.

There was a little cake at the end for yours truly but I can't guarantee you’ll get one of those!

I was in a fishy mood on Sunday so my starter was the Goatsbridge Trout and Crab, with cucumber, seaweed, squid ink, nasturtium and radish. The Curtins raise delicious trout on their long established Kilkenny farm and in Greene's kitchen the fish was in good hands and they produced a dish to delight. Other choices included Goat’s Cheese, Pork Belly, and the Chef’s Soup with seasonal Garnish.
Trout

Bryan’s trademark Braised Feather Blade Beef, enhanced with Mushroom, Carrot purée, black cabbage, pickled wild garlic stems, was a popular choice as was the Free Range English Market Chicken. 

I continued with the fish theme, and enjoyed every tasty bit of the Hake Fillet with sea vegetables, seaweed, smoked sausage and dashi cream. Also on the mains menu and enjoyed by a few at my table was the Ballyhoura Mushroom Risotto with Coolea cheese, potato crisp, pepper dulse and kale.
Hake. Note the crispy skin!

Time then for the dessert, and another great choice. I didn't get to sample the Chocolate Pecan Cremeux Tart nor the Red Wine Organic Poached Pear. But I did steal a bit of CL’s lovely Rose Cottage Fruit Farm Blueberry Tart. Meanwhile, my own Woodruff Set Cream Pudding, with elderberry and pistachio, was sliding down smoothly.

Lots of chat then as the relaxing afternoon came to an end. But soon I was called back to my place as that cake, complete with candles, a modest two (but they added up correctly!), appeared. Just about managed to blow them out.
Woodruff Set Cream Pudding


48 MacCurtain Street, Cork, Ireland
 021 455 2279
 Open Sunday to Wednesday, 12:15-14:15 & 17:30-21:00
 & Thursday to Saturday, 12:15-14:15 & 17:30-21:30

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Granary’s Waterford Brunch. And more from the harvest streets

The Granary’s Waterford Brunch
And more from the harvest streets
Goatsbridge trout

Peter Fowler, owner of The Granary, was in great form as he welcomed guests to the bright and spacious cafe. The guests came in numbers for the Producers Brunch, one of the highlights of the annual Waterford Harvest Festival. It was a sell-out, with part of the proceeds going to the local Samaritans.


The Granary put on a fantastic spread last Sunday morning for guests that included Gay Byrne. “This is the first time for The Granary,” said the enthusiastic Peter. I don't think it will be the last time. “We have met the best suppliers, suppliers that we wouldn't otherwise have met. Events like these put ideas in your head.” He had praise too for his staff “the best in Waterford”.

Anyone for porridge?
 The event was sponsored by John Flahavan; Flahavan's are long time supporters of the festival. For over 200 years Flahavan’s has been operating its oatmill beside the River Mahon in Kilmacthomas, John reminded us as we sampled their Bircher muesli with Deise honey, fruit compote and cinnamon!

John then handed the mike over to another John, John McKenna. “What an unbelievable spread,” enthused McKenna. “This would not have been possible in the years when Sally (who was in the audience) and I were starting out”. He went on to list the advantages that Waterford food enjoys and can enjoy into the future, “unique food, including the blaa”. “You have everything here to stake a claim to be food capital of Ireland's Ancient East”.

Dessert?

The choices on the groaning tables were eye-catching, everything from Hot and Cold Choices, salads, cheeses, desserts, and drinks. Hard to list them all but here’s a few highlights:

Cod from Jim Doherty with a Metalman Pale Batter;

Baked fillets of Goatsbridge Trout;

Broccoli, tomato and Dungarvan Cheese Salad;
Blaas by Walsh's Bakery, sourdough by Seagull Bakery;
Cheese selection by the Little Milk Company;
Granary desserts, especially that massive Blackberry Pavlova;
And brunch drinks from Clodagh Davis and Cahir's Apple Farm.


Smoke on the street
 We had arrived in Waterford around lunchtime on Saturday and, having found parking (not easy, but we got lucky!), we started looking at the hot food stalls. Quite a few around, lots of smoke rising but as soon as we reached the Irish Piedmontese stand, we stopped and ordered a pair of their delicious burgers. Tasty stuff. Enjoyed them sitting on the sun as the band played on the Thin Gin stage.


Barry John was sampling his award winning flavoured sausages. How about Bacon and Cabbage? Maybe Cheddar Cheese and Chilli? No shortage of pizzas. There was a taste of Portugal. Stuff to bring home too, honey from Knockmealdown, trout from Mag of Goatsbridge and jams from Wexford Preserves both in the SuperValu area. There were Cocktail Classes, Whiskey Tastings, Iyer’s Pop Up and so much more.


Here be friendly dragon.
There was a massive dragon under the Bishop’s Palace and he, multicolored against Saturday’s blue sky, was dominating the Mall but no one worried - he looked a friendly fellow. All kinds of art all over over the place, on the streets, on the quays. The larger than life size tables and chairs, there was even a deck-chair, attracted kids of all ages. Tango dancers entertained us too. There was a Tapas River Tour also and we heard it was great.


And we would return to the streets again on Sunday to enjoy the fun of the Market, The Fit & Wellness Area, The Food Heroes Exhibition, Farm to Fork at Ballybricken, The Viking Rocks Craft Beer Fest, The Festival Fair, the SuperValu Food Academy. We didn't get to them all. Looks like we’ll have to go back next year!



Haute cuisine. Have you got the bottle?
See also:

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Bellini’s at the Maryborough. Just one look. Hooked.

Bellini’s at the Maryborough
Just one look. Hooked.
Just one look at the list of their suppliers and I'm encouraged as I take my comfortable seat in Bellini’s Restaurant in the Maryborough Hotel. Two hours later, having seen and tasted what Head Chef Gemma Murphy can so with that very produce and I’m full, full of delight. The dishes on this new menu are tempting to look at and all you have to do is yield. I'm not the only one impressed. The Cork city hotel has just been awarded a second AA Rosette.

Quite a few starters to choose from including Warm Chicken Salad, House Cured Salmon with Goatsbridge Roe, Textures of Bluebell Falls Goat cheese, Pan seared Fresh Atlantic Scallops and Soup of the Day.

CL picked the Melon Soup (Compressed Melon, Peach Schnapps and Grapefruit Jelly with Feta Snow). Quite a display here as the liquid was added to the other ingredients at the table. An outstanding starter.
And so was my Boneless Roasted Baby Quail, soft herb mousseline, caramelised peaches and Micro Basil. Beautifully presented and so tender, a marvellous combination of flavours and textures. At this stage we were really settling in, feeling very much at home. Excellent food so far and great service too.

And that’s the way the evening continued. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the breads, the lovely amuse bouche (based on a mackerel pate) and the Mango and Passionfruit Sorbet.

The white wines cover a broad range; you may have anything from an Argentinian Torrontes to a Pouilly Fuisse. The reds range includes Club Privado Rioja (my choice) to a Walnut Block Pinot Noir (one of the Collectibles). No shortage of drinks here, everything from beer to the best of bubbles, as the bar is just alongside.
Melon soup
So on to the mains. Again plenty to choose from including Hereford Steak, Slaney Valley Lamb, Chicken Supreme, Wild Atlantic Hake, Orzo pasta. And check out that list of sides, including a Rocket and Parmesan Salad with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes. Indeed, the advice is to go beyond the headline and check out the details in each dish.

Take CL’s choice: Pan Seared Sea Bass Fillets. You’ll see that heading in lots of places but here it is served with Broccoli and Yuzu Purée, Steamed Prawn Dumpling and a Prawn Bisque. Magnifique!

I went for a favourite meat, the Skeaghanore West Cork Duck Breast, and got another amazing plateful. The duck, cooked to  perfection, came with a Rhubarb Purée, Walnut Granola, Carrot Textures, Braised Beluga Lentils, Five spice and Balsamic Jus. Another five star dish, every element on the plate playing a role. My side here was the Steamed Market Greens, soy, sesame and Mirin Glaze. Could have eaten a bowl of that on its own, particularly the mange tout and sugar snaps!
Quail
After all that we knew the desserts were going to be good too so there was no hesitation, no talk about sharing one this time. I finished off in style with the Dark Chocolate Cremeux with Griotte Cherries (the one they soak in booze!) and Pistachio Ice-cream while CL enjoyed her Strawberry baked Alaska with Prosecco Foam (more booze) Strawberry and Basil Salsa. Superb.

What an evening in a busy Bellini’s. What a meal. Very Highly Recommended.

  • Their suppliers include Macroom Buffalo, Bluebells Falls, Goatsbridge Roe, Skeaghanore Duck, Larousse Fine Foods, Wild Atlantic Way Seafoods, Keelings Fruit and Vegetables, Matt O’Connell Seafood, PJ Sheehan and Co Poultry and the English Market.
Amuse Bouche and desserts
Maryborough Hill, Douglas, Cork, Ireland, T12 XR12
Tel +353 21 436 5555 | Fax +353 21 436 5662 | Email: info@maryborough.ie

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Spotlight on Best in County Awards at Blas in Dingle

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
Carlow -
Best in Carlow: Sunshine Juice
Best in Farmers Market: The Chocolate Garden of Ireland
Donegal
Best in County: Aran Ard Teo – Gallaghers
Best in Farmers Market: Mallow Mia
Galway
Best in Galway: Galway Hooker Brewery
Best in Farmers Market: Tribal Foods
Kerry
Best in Kerry: O’Donnells
Best in Farmers Market: Dingle Sushi
Kildare
Best in Kildare: Aedamar’s Lemon Curd
Best in Farmers Market: L’Art du Chocolat
Louth
Best in Louth: Dan Kelly’s Cider
Best in Farmers Market: Daisy’s Pantry
Mayo
Best in Mayo: Kelly’s of Newport
Meath
Best in Meath: Big Red Kitchen
Best in Farmers Market:  Blaste & Wilde
Roscommon
Best in Roscommon County: Waldrons
Best in Roscommon Town: Gilligans
Tipperary
Best in Tipperary: Piedmontese Beef
Best in Farmers Market:  Ayle Farm Foods
Waterford
Best in Waterford: Blackwater Distillery
Best in Farmers: Market Pure Food Company
Westmeath
Best in Westmeath:  Mr Crumb
Best in Farmers Market: An Olivia Chocolate
Wexford
Best in Wexford: Wexford Preserves
Best in Farmers Market: Naturally Cordial
Cork South
Best in Cork South: De Roiste Puddings
Best in Farmers Market: Joe’s Farm Crisps
Limerick
Best in County Moonriver Chocolates
Best in Farmers Market   Silver Darlings

You may see the full list of Blas winners for 2015 here.