Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The 5th All-Ireland Chowder Cook Off takes place in Kinsale This Weekend!

And Kinsale Good Food Circle want your help to choose the chef that makes the Best Chowder in Ireland!

Representatives from all 32 counties will compete for the title of  “All-Ireland Chowder Champion” at the 5th annual All-Ireland Chowder Cook-Off 2015. Everyone attending the event will have a chance to vote for their favourite chowder-chef as sponsored by Clona.

Building on the huge success of last year’s Chowder Cook-Off, Ireland’s gourmet capital & Best Small Town is pleased to announce that this year’s event will take place at Actons Hotel, Kinsale on Sunday 19th April from 2 to 4pm. The All-Ireland Chowder Cook-Off will feature chefs from 32 professional restaurants, each selected to represent their county, in competition for the title of All-Ireland Chowder Champion.

The All-Ireland Chowder Cook-Off is the highlight of a two day Family Festival that will take over the streets of Kinsale on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th April. On Saturday, this popular annual event sees areas of the town transformed into an open-air street market, with food stalls and family fun. Local businesses will offer samples and take-home food for under €5, and there will be something for all age groups. A 'pay as you eat' system means you are in control of your spend and not left with books of tickets! This event is supported by Kinsale Chamber of Tourism.

Members of the public will be the judges in the All-Ireland Chowder Cook-Off on Sunday. Everyone will be given a voting card at the entrance, which entitles them to sample all chowders from the individual stalls, before casting their vote for the All-Ireland Chowder Champion 2015.

How to choose the best chowder? Do you like a lobster-stock base, topped with a swirl of cream, or a spicy bowl laden with mussels and a hint of coconut and chilli? You can be the judge! You the public will decide - Tickets are €10 each, making it an unusual and affordable Sunday lunch option!

Liam Edwards, Chairman of Kinsale Good Food Circle said “The All-Ireland Chowder Cook-Off has become a much-loved event on Kinsale's annual calendar. A thriving fishing port, famous for its gourmet restaurants, and an anchor destination of the Wild Atlantic Way, Kinsale is the natural home for this prestigious national competition. We extend a warm welcome to visitors from every county in Ireland, and from overseas. May the best chef win”!

2014 Winner - Danny Fitzpatrick - Fitzpatrick’s Restaurant, Dunleer, Co Louth
Competition among chefs is keen. The winning chef will not only be crowned All-Ireland Chowder Champion, but will also receive a customised trophy and be invited to Newport, Rhode Island, Kinsale’s transatlantic twin town, next summer as a guest chef. The 2014 winners, Fitzpatrick’s Restaurant, Dunleer, Co Louth will represent Ireland this summer.

Tickets for Sunday’s All-Ireland Chowder Cook-Off from 2 to 4pm at Acton’s Hotel are available from Finishing Services +353 (0)21 4773571 (office hours) or at the door on the day for €10 each.

Check out the Kinsale Good Food Circle website at


2015 Boyne Valley Food Series launched at the Hill of Tara

The Hill of Tara, seat of the High Kings of Ireland, was the backdrop today for the launch of the 2015 Boyne Valley Food Series – a fitting setting for this innovative calendar of events throughout Summer and early Autumn weaving the region’s exciting food produce and cooking into its rich heritage.

Chefs, farmers and food producers gathered at the historic site today to celebrate all that this fertile river valley has to offer in terms of food produce and cooking. They were joined by John McKenna, author of the McKenna Food Guides, who launched this year’s programme of events.

Over 40 unique food experience events will take place over a 5 month period from May to September across almost 50 venues & locations throughout the Boyne Valley region, which stretches across counties Meath & Louth to the Eastern seaboard. This initiative, supported by Failte Ireland and Meath County Council, brings together almost 50 businesses working to create a food tourism offering based on visitor experience and quirky, authentic events rooted in the unique history and landscape of the area. The series will include foraging, farm walks, beer tastings and tapas trails, but also some more unusual events, such as a Mad Hatter’s Dinner Party, Braveheart Banquet and Gourmet Electric Bike Tour, and no less than 6 festivals.

“We are a group of businesses – restaurants, hoteliers, food producers and visitor attractions – who are passionate about food, keen to celebrate its journey from producer to the table, and to link it to the rich heritage of this region”, says Chair of the group and Failte Ireland Food Champion Olivia Duff of the Headfort Arms Hotel & Maperath Farm in Co. Meath,

“We have great farm produce and seafood, as well as incredible emerging artisan food producers and talented chefs, but what makes this series so special is the great bunch of like-minded people working together to tell our food story in a way that is fun and engaging”.

There really is something for everyone in this series, including many free and family events and plenty to get your out in the open air – with gourmet cycles and farm walks providing exercise to balance all the indulgence. Some of the highlights across the 5 months include:

  • May offers 2 festivals; the Seafood festival in Kells and the Sheridan Irish Food Festival, as well as a craft beer & food pairing at Bru Brewery and a Dawn Chorus & Artisan Breakfast with Birdwatch Meath and Newgrange Gold farm.
  • June there’s a Mad Hatter Dinner Party, Meath Food Safari, a Gourmet & Craft Beer Festival, and a Summer Solstice event.
  • July events include Children’s Cookery Camps, a Gourmet Cycle and a 25km Producer Electric Bike Tour, as well as a ‘Dine in the Dark’ dinner, a Barnyard bash and a South American street food festival.
  • August kicks off with the Navan Tapas Trail, back by popular demand following its success in 2014, followed by ‘The Boyne Valley Yank hosts a Hoe Down’, foraging on Girley Bog, and a traditional Garden Fete at Slane Castle. The series will also host a number of events for Heritage week from 22-30 August.
  • September will incorporate no less than 3 festivals; the Sheridans Harvest Festival, the Slane Street Festival and the Slane Food, Film & Music Festival at Rock Farm

That's just a taste of the diverse array of events on offer. Renowned dining destinations in the region will also offer special events as part of the series, including ‘Taste of the Estate’ Dinner at Tankardstown House, a ‘Braveheart’ Medieval Banquet at the Stockhouse, Trim and a Heritage Dinner at the Vanilla Pod restaurant in Kells.

Food Writer John McKenna with Olivia Duff at the launch of the 2015 Boyne Valley Food Series

Speaking at the launch of this year’s programme of events, food writer John McKenna said “This is an inspired idea…the range of events, covering every aspect of food, cooking and artisanship in the region, reveals the rich fabric of its culinary creativity and reflects the seasons as the year unfolds."

He continued, "Nobody else has ever organised a festival of food in this way, as a series of stand-alone and yet related events with food at the centre of everything, and it's a great tribute to the Boyne Valley area that they have such a wealth of local food and creativity to offer to locals and visitors as part of the Boyne Valley Food Series”

View a larger size Map of events  Here
The Boyne Valley is known as the heritage capital of Ireland with the UNESCO World Heritage site Bru Na Boinne recognised as one of the world’s most important prehistoric landscapes. Now the region is rapidly building a food heritage to match, with its farmers, fishermen and new wave of food producers turning out distinctive foods from the area’s fertile, vibrant green landscape and rich coastline, and its chefs inspired by this natural larder and artisan craftsmanship to cook dishes that reflect the wealth of the region’s heritage.

The Boyne Valley Food Series, now in its 3rd year, brings all of this together, by offering a calendar of food events which weave through the region, embracing the area’s landscape and natural environment, as well as its built heritage and its more recent history allowing the visitor to really taste the region, to follow its trails, to interact with its rich heritage, to shake the hands that make the food..and to eat like Kings!

Head of Food Tourism, Hospitality Education, & Standards at Fáilte Ireland - John Mulcahy

Commenting on the Launch of the Boyne Valley Food Series 2015, John Mulcahy, Head of Food Tourism, Hospitality Education, & Standards at Fáilte Ireland said, "As overseas visitor numbers continue to grow, food tourism is becoming a very important component in the visitor experience with the amazing quality and authenticity of our food offering in Ireland. You’ll find some of the best raw ingredients in the world, expertly prepared then served simply and fresh… it’s as if you can really taste the place."

"I am delighted to see so many food businesses in the Boyne Valley showcasing their food offering in a collaborative way to promote the variety of food related events taking place in their region,” he added.

The events kick-off this May Bank Holiday weekend with Blossom Walks in the Orchards of Boyne Grove Farm, with apple juice & cider tasting with Dan Kelly’s cider, and from there you can munch and taste your way through the months ahead with events every week until the end of September.

So if you are heading to the Boyne Valley Region or just looking for something fun to do make sure you check out


Saturday, 28 March 2015

Hot Cross Buns for Easter!

One a Penny, Two a Penny, Hot Cross Buns!

Hot cross buns are traditionally baked to be eaten during Lent, the 40 days before Easter. The bun acquired mythical properties over the centuries and early literature reveals that the hot cross bun was also known as the Good Friday Bun.

The most famous story says that the origins of the Hot Cross Bun date to the 12th century when an English monk was said to have placed the sign of the cross on the buns to honor Good Friday. Throughout history the bun has received credit for special virtues, among them that of ensuring friendship between two people sharing a bun. An old rhyme states, "Half for you and half for me, between us two, good luck shall be."

Another tradition holds that a hot cross bun should be kept hanging from the kitchen ceiling from one year to another to ward off evil spirits. Healing properties were also attributed to it. Gratings from a preserved bun were mixed with water to provide a cure for the common cold.

There are loads of delicious ways to eat this legendary treat: you can slice them, toast them and butter them! I love them toasted with real butter and strawberry jam! This recipe is an old family one and it makes about 10 buns - but we always double it up!

Hot Cross Buns

My Ingredients:
450g bread (strong) flour
pinch of salt
2 tsp mixed spice
75g butter
7g fast action dried yeast (generally 1 sachet)
50g caster sugar
1 egg
275ml warm milk (40 seconds in microwave will do)
200g dried raisins or currants (I don't like the traditional dried mixed fruit - but if you do, use that instead)
grated rind of an orange

My Method:
1. Put the flour, salt and mixed spice in a bowl and give them a quick whisk to mix. Rub in the butter to the flour mix until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the yeast, sugar, beaten egg and milk and stir together into a soft dough.
      2. Knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. If you are using a mixer to make these buns give it five minutes on low with the dough hook. Add in the dried fruit and the grated orange rind and knead for another minute.
        3. Roll out the mix slightly and cut the dough into 10 pieces. Roll these into balls on the table using the flat of your hand and place on a baking sheet or tray. Leave their own width again between each bun so they will have room to rise.
          4. To make the cross mix 1 Cup flour with about 3 tbls cold water to make a basic soft dough. Roll it out really thin and cut into little strips. Dampen with a little water and stick to the top of each bun. Take a length of plastic wrap and brush with a little cooking oil. Place this loosely on top of the buns (oiled side down) and leave in the kitchen to double in size - about 20 minutes depending on the weather and the warmth of the room. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 390ºF (360ºF if a fan oven) for 20 minutes.
            Hot Cross Buns were traditionally brushed with a sugar & water glaze when they're still hot, but I prefer to brush them with local honey from the Saturday country market in Leghowney, near Donegal Town!

            And Here's my recipe for Hot Cross Buns with American Cup measurements



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            Thursday, 26 March 2015

            Major Food Tourism Workshop in Donegal Town - Free Registration

            The Wild Atlantic Way is the world’s Longest Defined Coastal Touring Route. Irish people and visitors to the west of Ireland who travel the route, find it really inspiring, renewing, relaxing and invigorating. 

            From its northernmost point in Donegal to its southernmost in Cork, the Wild Atlantic Way offers one of the world’s most diverse and spectacular coastlines. You can immerse yourself in the culture, music and food found in the towns and villages along the way, climb the most breathtaking heights and experience a landscape that revives the soul.

            In response to the greater emphasis our international visitors now place on food as part of their overall holiday experience, Fáilte Ireland, Ireland's National Tourism Development Authority, has developed Ireland’s Food Story – a resource packed full of engaging content and inspirational advice to help people in business to capitalise on this growing trend.

            Fáilte Ireland has recently asked all their Food Champions to host workshops to help people in the tourism business along the route to develop their Food Story using the new Failte Ireland Food Story Toolkit

            Let's Talk Food on the Wild Atlantic Way is a workshop on how Food Tourism can enhance your marketing and drive sales to your business.

            As there are four Food Champions in County Donegal and here being the starting point of the Wild Atlantic Way, we decided to host one central Donegal Workshop to avoid duplication. 

            Sliabh Liag sea cliffs are on the Wild Atlantic Way in Donegal

            Let's Talk Food on the Wild Atlantic Way will provide practical tips and advice on how to write a food story for your business and how it can deliver additional business.

            Workshop Content:
            • Food and the Wild Atlantic Way – how and why it’s important to your business
            • Examples of the food experiences your target market wants
            • Marketing tips to create, promote and deliver your food story 
            • Examples of how other businesses have used local food to gain business, stand out and drive revenue 
            • Ireland’s Content Pool – How to access the free collection of images, video and copy to use in your marketing material

            This three-hour workshop is open to everyone who is interested in building and promoting their business on the Wild Atlantic Way. It will be especially beneficial to managers, marketing managers, business owners and the people who write content for your website, social media, brochures, advertising etc.

            This Free Workshop is fully subsidised by Fáilte Ireland and takes place at: 
            Donegal Town Community Enterprise Centre, in Donegal Town
            on Wednesday 22nd April from 10.00am – 1.00pm.

            Directions to Donegal Town Community Enterprise Centre

            To Register email

            or contact any one of the four
            Donegal Failte Ireland Food Champions
            Mary McGettigan 087 1777140 (A Taste of Donegal Food Festival)
            Hugh O'Donnell 087 7975704 (Kitty Kelly’s Restaurant Killybegs)
            Zack Gallagher 086 6632079 (The Irish Food Guide)
            Donal Doherty 087 2195577 (Harrys Restaurant & Harrys Shack)

            This is a great opportunity for people in business and potential new businesses to learn from and work with some of Failte Ireland's Food Champions and to make the most of this amazing country we live in.

            I look forward to seeing you there!


            Wednesday, 4 March 2015

            Seven Irish Food Producers celebrated at the 2015 Irish Food Writers' Guild Awards

            Seven Irish Food Producers were celebrated this afternoon, at the 2015 Irish Food Writers' Guild Awards and Lunch which were hosted at l'Ecrivain in Dublin by top chef and avid Irish food promoter Derry Clarke.

            The Irish Food Writers' Guild (IFWG) was formed in 1990 to promote high professional standards of knowledge and practice among writers about food, nutrition, food history and other allied matters and to assist in the forging of links and networks between professionals in the food industry.

            The IFWG Food Awards are considered one of the most prestigious of their type in Ireland. They are also unique in that the members of the Guild are the sole nominating and decision-making body and no company or individual can enter themselves for these awards.

            Each year they present awards that celebrate homegrown producers, organisations or individuals, whilst also celebrating the heroes who have devoted and are continuing to devote their lives to supporting and promoting Irish food. Now in its 21st year, the annual Irish Food Writers’ Guild (IFWG) Food Awards is a firm favourite on the Irish culinary calendar. 

            Food provenance and authenticity were top of the agenda at this year’s Irish Food Writers’ Guild Awards, as seven food producers were awarded and honoured for the high standard and impeccable quality of their products, as well as for their unwavering dedication, devotion and commitment to Irish food. At the event in Dublin today, special mention was also given to producers who embraced sustainable practices and techniques.

            Chairperson of the Irish Food Writers Guild, Lizzie Gore-Grimes - Picture courtesy Aoife Carrigy

            Lizzie Gore-Grimes, Chairperson of the IFWG said, “The origin of food and drink products is becoming an increasingly important and influential factor for consumers; more and more we are seeing ‘local’ and ‘homemade’ as key factors in their decision-making process. What’s more, as the consumers’ knowledge and interest in food provenance grows, so too does the need for complete transparency on the part of the producer. The stronger the story behind the brand and the more that is known about its origin, the greater the connection between the consumer and the product.

            “All of our winners are flying the flag for food provenance this year. They come to the market with products that are real, authentic and bursting with honest-to-goodness quality. The quiet success of these seven winners is in no small part due to the richness of their produce, the strength of their story and the passion of the people behind them." said Lizzie. "What may initially have started as a labour of love for our award winners is now reaping the rewards today. All of our winners are wonderful ambassadors for Irish food, and I am certain that they will remain key players in maintaining Ireland’s enviable reputation on an international stage.”

            The 2015 awards were held  at Derry Clarke's much-celebrated l'Ecrivain Restaurant and the Guild presented seven awards at an event which was attended by some of the biggest names in Irish food!

            The winners at the 2015 Irish Food Writers' Guild Award are:

            On the Pig’s Back
            Home Made Pates & Terrines. Farmhouse cheeses, Charcuterie. Stall in the English Market in Cork, and Cafe-Deli in Douglas, Co Cork.
            (@PigsBackCork on Twitter)

            Skeaghanore West Cork Duck
            Fresh farm ducks, hand reared and fed a 100% natural cereal-based diet by Helena & Eugene Hickey in Ballydehob, West Cork.
            (@SkeaghanoreDuck on Twitter)

            Wild About Foods
            Artisan chutneys, preserves, syrups, seasoning rubs, cocktail bases and wild pesto made fresh from ingredients sourced locally, foraged in the wild or grown in Malcolm and Fiona Falconer's permaculture gardens in Co. Wexford. (@WildAboutFoods on Twitter)

            A special Irish Drink Award was presented to 
            Richmount Elderflower Cordial
            Husband and wife team, David and Martina Burns,make Elderflower Cordial from pure, natural ingredients without any concentrate or artificial sweeteners, flavourings, additives, colourings, or sulphites in Co Longford (@ElderflowerLfd on Twitter)

            The Guild’s Environmental Award, where the Guild recognises the integrity of the production methods went to Foods of Athenry
            Family Bakers of Gluten Free products and wheat & spelt in their second and separate bakery, all containing no preservatives , additives or hydrogenated fats.
            (@FoodsOfAthenry on Twitter)

            Birgitta Curtin of the Burren Smokehouse
            was honoured for her notable contribution to Irish food. Originally from Sweden, Birgitta origionally studied marine biology and started up Burren Smokehouse in Lisdoonvarna in 1989. It produces award winning smoked organic Salmon, Trout, Eel and Mackerel.
            She is Chairperson of Slow Food Clare, Chairperson of IASC and a member of Good Food Ireland. They opened their Visitor Centre in 1995 to showcase their own products and other local gourmet products and crafts. It has become a popular tourist attraction in the North County Clare area and welcomes over 30,000 visitors from all over the world each year.
            Brigitta is at the forefront of promoting Irish Food and is very involved with Failte Ireland's drive to make Food Tourism an major component of the future of modern Irish Tourism.
            (@BurrenSalmon on Twitter)

            Veronica Molloy of Crossogue Preserves
            won the Lifetime Achievement Award for her dedication to growing on the home farm and the consistent innovation of her range of artisan Irish preserves over 20 years.
            Veronica was taught how to make preserves by her mother-in-law Nancy and many of the recipes used today are family recipes passed down through the generations.
            All her preserves are made using traditional cooking methods using the highest quality ingredients and produced in small batches by hand to maximise control procedures and taste; no artificial colourings, flavourings or preservatives are used. Although this means that production is labour intensive it results in a unique and distinctive flavour.
            This continuing dedication aimed at producing a superior product has brought success in the shape of national and international Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards over the last ten years.
            Crossogue Preserves remains a family owned operation with an experienced and dedicated team. Veronica's aim has always been to produce quality products with efficiency and to offer excellent customer service.
            (@CrossogueP on Twitter)

            The Awards are supported by Bord Bia which was commended by the Irish Food Writers' Guild for its tireless support of the Irish food industry both in Ireland and abroad.


            Thursday, 5 February 2015

            Customer Service Excellence Course for the Agri-food Sector in the North West

            The lifting of the USA embargo on Irish meat as well as changes to the Milk quota creates opportunities in the Agri-Food sector. The quality of Irish produce is respected globally. It is important to offer not only Produce Excellence but also Customer Service Excellence right through the supply chain. By providing both, the sector will be much stronger and those who apply it will have a competitive edge.

            Customer Service Excellence Ireland together with AIB, Skillnets and BASICC (Ballybofey and Stranorlar Integrated Community Company Ltd) are running a 4 night Customer Service Excellence Course for the Agri-Food sector. 

            This course is subsidised but a nominal fee of €25.00 per person will apply to cover some of the cost of delivering the course.

            The course dates will be:
            • Monday the 23rd February
            • Monday the 2nd March
            • Monday the 9th March and
            • Monday the 16th March
            Time: 6 – 9pm

            Venue: The BASE Enterprise Centre, Railway Road, Stranorlar. Co Donegal
            Cost: €25.00 per person

            Participants will gain increased skills and knowledge about how to offer the very best customer service through their work and the positive impact this has on sales and repeat business. 

            The training workshops are interactive and involve the entire group and their experience. 
            Customer Service Excellence Ireland Certificates will be issued to all who attend.

            Places are limited, to avoid disappointment book your place now by contacting:
            Donna Maskery
            Tel: 087 607 5555 or email

            For more info see


            The Irish Food Guide is...

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            The Irish Food Guide Blog includes news, foodie chat, recipes, award results, links and other general information on the Food & Tourism Industry in Ireland.

            It is written & curated by Zack Gallagher, Donegal Town, Co Donegal, Ireland.

            “My Blog is a slice of the Irish Food ‘Network’. I’m a Chef with over 27 years experience and also have a background in media. I’m passionate about Irish Food Tourism and I believe that a rising tide really can lift all boats!”

            Supporting Irish Food created by passionate producers and encouraging the Irish food & hospitality industry to use modern social media methods to increase their business.

            Zack is building an all-Ireland Food Tourism network to assist Tour Operators bringing guests into Ireland to connect easily with artisan Irish food producers, so as they can experience the provenance and personality behind our Irish food.

            The Wild Atlantic Way is the world's Longest Coastal Route

            Best Blog of an SME 2014

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