Friday 14 March 2014

Irish Food Writers' Guild Food Awards 2014

It's St Patrick's weekend and as I'm very unlikely to ever bake anything green I thought I'd write about some award-winning Irish food producers instead.

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Irish Food Writers' Guild Food Awards 2014, which took place in Michelin-starred restaurant l'Ecrivain

The awards were created in 1993 with the aim of celebrating the best Irish food products, as well as the people and companies who contribute to the Irish food scene. Every member of the guild nominates a product that has been made in Ireland by a producer who has been trading for the last three years. Guild members then vote during a tasting meeting on which are the best.

I was delighted to be at the ceremony where I met journalists, food writers and producers, many of whom I follow on social media. It was great to see such a celebration of Irish food.

 So who were the winners?

Coolea Matured Farmhouse Cheese, which is by the way is one of my Irish favourite cheeses. This cheese comes from the Willems family, based in Macroom county Cork who have been producing farmhouse cheese since 1979.

Lucy Deegan and Mark Cribben from Ballyhoura Moutain mushrooms are also based in co. Cork and have a range of products including shitake powder, cep oil and mushroom ketchup.

Dermot Carey and David Langford's Heritage Irish potato collection includes over 200 varieties. It's such a brilliant project which helps to preserve an important Irish food heritage.

Michael and Aileen O’Neill also won an award for their Irish Atlantic Sea Salt produced in Beara co. Cork. These are natural gourmet sea salt flakes that contain no additives or anti-caking agents. 

Daniel Emerson and his French wife GĂ©raldine make their Stonewell cider in Belgooley co. Cork. I tried their dry cider for the first time last summer and loved it as I found it similar to what I used to drink in France. (picture at the top of this post)

Responsible Irish Fish, a label that has been introduced to the Irish market to promote Irish fish and shellfish caught in a responsible manner, also received an award. 

Finally a Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Myrtle Allen for her huge work and major contribution to the development and support of Irish food.

After the ceremony we all had lunch created by Derry Clarke from l'Ecrivain which featured all the award-winning products.

Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms Consommé, Coolea Cheese Tortellini

Responsible Irish Fish Cured & Smoked Mackerel, Heritage Irish Collection Potato Salad, Beetroot, Horseradish

Dry Aged Beef, Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms, Coolea Cheese

Irish Atlantic Sea Salt Caramel Mousse & Stonewell Cider Sorbet, Pickled Apples, Cinnamon Crumble, Clotted Cream

If you are a little envious you can always try to cook those dishes at home, here are the recipes for you. 

Have a great St Patrick's weekend everyone!

Disclaimer: I was invited to this event free of charge. I gave no undertaking to write a review and the words above are, as always, my honest opinion.