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WIN a signed copy of "Donegal Table - Delicious Everyday Cooking" by Chef Brian McDermott

This Wednesday, 7th March 2018, sees the Official Launch of a fabulous new Irish Cookbook!

"Donegal Table - Delicious Everyday Cooking", written by Chef Brian McDermott and published by O'Brien Press, brings together a collection of real Irish family recipes that is sure to inspire a whole new generation of modern home cooks.

"Donegal Table - Delicious Everyday Cooking" by Chef Brian McDermott

Brian McDermott, from Moville in County Donegal, is one of the most sought-after Irish chefs on the national food festival circuit in Ireland, as the guiding hand that acts as Master of Ceremonies at the biggest Food Festivals in the country, including Taste of Dublin, Taste of Cavan, Taste of Donegal. He is the National Dairy Council's official chef demonstrator at events such as Bloom in the Park, the National Ploughing Championships and many more.

Chef Brian McDermott launches his new Cook Book on Wednesday 7th March

After working as a chef for over twenty five years in the hospitality industry, Brian decided to make a career change and is now recognised in foodie circles here as "the most versatile chef in Ireland". Brian is a regular guest chef on RTE and BBC television and radio. He also runs a very successful cookery school in Moville and works as a food consultant with some of the biggest food companies on the island of Ireland!

Donegal Lamb and Barley Hotpot from Donegal Table

Brian believes that tasty, healthy food based around local produce is something every family should be able to make and enjoy. In this new cook book "Donegal Table", Brian shares his own passion for real food made by real people and includes classic recipes along with modern versions of old favourites. The book is a collection of achievable, affordable and accessible recipes. There’s something for everyone to try.

Pan fried Hake with buttered Leeks and Poached Egg

Brian's home county of Donegal is renowned for the quality of its amazing seafood and local produce. Those superb local ingredients are what inspire Brian every day and are perfectly showcased in the recipes in "Donegal Table". There are seperate sections in the book on Cooking Seafood, One Pot Wonders, Baking and Breads, traditional Potato dishes, Desserts and a special one on Kids Meals.

Brian's Pear and Almond Tart from his new Cookbook

Brian tells the story behind every dish, takes you through his basic Store Cupboard requirements and explains how to capitalise on wonderful produce available from your own local butcher. There is even a section in the book entitled Cooking & Craic, were Chef Brian shows the reader how to create some of the most amazing sharing and party food like Whiskey-Glazed Chicken Wings, Porky Pies and Racks of Ribs to Die for!

With a wonderful and personal Foreword by Chef Neven Maguire from McNean House & Restaurant and superb food photography from Zita & Rob at A Fox in the Kitchen, this new Irish Cook Book really is a must for anyone who loves real Irish food!

Brian McDermott is a true gentleman, a great chef, a real professional and he's good craic too! I look forward to joining him and his family and friends to celebrate the launch  of his new cook book, Donegal Table, this Wednesday 7th March, at the Redcastle Hotel, in Inishowen, County Donegal.

To help celebrate the launch, we have a competition to win a signed copy of Chef Brian McDermott's new cookbook, "Donegal Table - Delicious Everyday Cooking", right here on the Irish Food Guide blog!

To Enter simply Like Brian McDermott's Facebook Page and leave him a quick message

or Follow Brian McDermott on Twitter and send him a quick tweet!

You can even do both to double your chances of winning Brian's new cookbook!

The Winner will be announced next Friday 9th March on our social media so follow the Irish Food Guide too to keep up to date with even more Irish Food News.

Brian's new Cookbook is also available to buy, priced €19.99 + delivery,

So get your copy of Donegal Table and Get Cooking!


A Very Fast Soda Bread Pizza!

Pizza really is simply a cheese and tomato sandwich on crispy flat bread but it is something that every one loves and is a perfect sharing food for a great meal with all the family, no matter what time of year! 

Pizza is so easy to make but some people are put off by the thought of getting the yeast, proving the dough and all that. So here is a simple soda bread dough that you can make in five minutes and the cooking of the pizza then takes another 15 minutes! This is based on a traditional Irish Soda Scone Bread (with a wee twist) and it works perfectly every time. 

As a traditional pizza oven reaches much higher temperatures, make sure you have your oven pre-heated to 200ºC before you put it in and don't open the door during the cooking or you lose all your heat and the pizza base will not be crispy.

My ingredients:
For the dough -makes two 10” pizzas
800g plain white flour
½ tspn baking powder
A few twists of ground black pepper
A few twists of ground sea salt
½ tspn mixed Herbs
½ tspn finely chopped garlic
2 tbls olive or rapeseed oil
400ml cold water (approx)

You can buy Pizza Trays in any hardware or discount shop.

My Method:
Heat your oven to 200ºC.
  1. Put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and stir with a whisk to mix well. Add the oil and stir.
  2. Now add ¾ of the cold water and with your hand pull the mix into a dough. Add a little more water if you need to. When the dough comes together in the centre dust it with a little flour and turn it out onto your table.
  3. Cut in half and roll out into two thin circles the size of your pizza trays. Place the circles on the trays and push it our to the edge to help create a thicker crust.
For the topping
1x jar of Tomato Bolognaise Sauce or similar (or make your own sauce)
Thinly sliced peppers, Salami, onions, olives, bacon or any other topping of your choice
Chopped fresh Basil
150g grated Mozzarella cheese
Grated Irish Cheddar or Goats cheese (optional)

My Method:
Spread the sauce on the pizza base. Place your sliced meats, vegetables & herbs on top and finish with the grated mozzarella and other cheeses. Pop into the hot oven for 15 minutes (dont open the door until 15 minutes is up) and serve immediately.

Experiment with toppings like prawns and cheese sauce, potato slices and chorizo, vegetables of all kinds (sliced very thin), bacon and blue cheese or anything else you like!


Valentines Food Tour on 14th February in Galway City

The annual Homage to Love, Valentines Day, is close at hand and the inevitable “what are your plans" is sure to be asked!

If you’re single, the options are either hiding away or going out on the town! In a long-term relationship, well then its "how do you re-invent the wheel this year"? In a new relationship… it’s time to impress!

If you happen to be all of the above on February 14th this year, then there is the answer for you, in Galway City!

Galway Food Tours, the culinary walking tour of Galway by Sheena Dignam and Gosia Letowska is answering all the above love dilemmas with a special Valentines inspired Food Tour.

Join Galway Food Tours on Wednesday 14th February for a fun food tour in Galway’s Westend.

“We will introduce you to our own take on Valentine's night for the foot loose, those in a relationship and those in-between people, who all love to eat, drink and be sociable," said cupid wannabe herself Sheena. "You never know what could happen as we stroll around these streets!“

(The pizza mightn't look exactly like this!)

The tour will take in Galway’s Westend including the award winning Dela Restaurant, John Keoghs The Lockkeeper, On The Crust Bucket pizza bus and Massimo Gastro Pub.

“At each stop, the food tour is treated to a flavour of just what each place offers as well as a little tipple, " explained Gosia. "Each location has a story to tell and this is the beauty of the tour, you get to experience the inside track on all these brilliant food and drinks haunts in Galway’s Westend. As well as great food and drinks, we'll also be playing some fun Valentines games and the night will be all about just enjoying yourself.”

The tour will take place from 6:30pm on Wednesday 14th February and is priced at €55 per person and as places are limited, booking is essential.

Call Sheena Dignam on 086-7332885 or book on

You can Like Galway Food Tours on Facebook to keep up to date with upcoming events
by Clicking the Like Button Here:



The Minister for Health must engage with the Irish Craft Drinks & Tourism Industry before the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill becomes Law

Visitors to Irish Whiskey Distillery & Visitor Centres are up by a quarter in just two years proving “Irish whiskey tourism is a hot trend right now and an increasingly important part of Ireland’s tourism offer”. Currently there are 12 distillery visitor centres open on the island of Ireland, with plans to open at least 10 more in coming years.

However, the proposed Public Health (Alcohol) Bill may be a major threat to this growth and this threat applies to the further tourism development of all Visitor Centres and Tours to Irish Whiskey, Gin, Beer, Cider, Spirits, Liqueurs and Wine producers premises.

The number of visitors to Irish whiskey distillery visitor centres reached 814,000 in 2017, according to new figures published today by the Irish Whiskey Association. This marked an increase of over 11% up from 2016, when 733,000 visitors were recorded. More significantly, it marks an increase of 25% up from 2015, when 653,000 visitors were recorded. And that is only the tourism visitors to the Whiskey distilleries! Imagine the tourism potential for the whole Irish Drinks industry!

Irish Whiskey Distillery & Visitor Centres offer a diversity of experiences, where visitors learn not just about the 'grain-to-glass' production of Irish whiskey, but also about the people and places that define the rich heritage of Irish whiskey. Currently, a majority of visitors to whiskey distilleries in Ireland come from the US, UK, Germany, France and Northern Europe.

In 2015, the Irish Whiskey Association, together with Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, launched the Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy to support this growth. This strategy delivers a route-map on how Ireland can become the world leader in whiskey tourism by 2030 and sets out four key recommendations which are required in order to achieve that objective:
  • Support the growth of Irish whiskey distilleries and visitor centres.
  • Develop an all island whiskey tourism product.
  • Create an Irish whiskey trail and tourism infrastructure around distilleries.
  • Develop an embassy network of hotels, restaurants and pubs.

The Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy forecasts that the future of Irish whiskey tourism is dependent on a collaboration of local communities and state agencies supporting the growth of Irish whiskey distilleries and visitor centres all around the island. It also proposes innovative ideas including the establishment of an all-island whiskey trail that will attract a significant number of tourists to Ireland, similar to the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky, which attracts nearly a million tourists every year.

Advertising of visitor centres throughout the Irish Drinks industry could be severely constrained

At present, the  Irish Whiskey Association members operates 12 distillery visitor centres on the island of Ireland. This includes two new distillery visitor centres which opened during the last year at Slane Distillery in Co. Meath and Pearse Lyons Distillery in Dublin. A new distillery visitor centre will open on the 21st of January at Rademon Estate Distillery in Co. Down. 2018 is also likely to see the opening of further visitor centres at new whiskey distilleries in locations ranging from Clonakilty, to Drogheda, to Dublin 8, and planning permission for the Sliabh Liag Whiskey Distillery & Visitor Centre, in County Donegal, has recently been approved. In total, Irish Whiskey Association members plan to open at least 10 more visitor centres in the coming years.

Craft Brewery Tours could also be affected by the restrictions on promotion and advertising

William Lavelle, Head of the Irish Whiskey Association said today, “Whiskey tourism is delivering tourists, jobs and investment to local economies right across Ireland, from Dublin’s Liberties to rural communities. Continued double-digit growth proves that Irish whiskey tourism is a hot trend right now and an increasingly important part of Ireland’s tourism offer.”

Mr. Lavelle explained how the promotion of  Irish Whiskey Distillery & Visitor Centres is vital to the future success of this new Irish tourism product. “Irish whiskey remains the fastest growing spirits category in the world and whiskey consumers, both domestically and globally, are interested in knowing more about the origin and authenticity of the spirit. Increasingly, the promotion of a whiskey brand goes hand-in-hand with the promotion of the home distillery."

For this reason, the promotion and advertising of Irish whiskey distillery visitor centres is often inseparable from the promotion and advertising of the Irish whiskey brands produced there. And, as the saying goes, there-in lies the rub!

The Irish Government is attempting to restrict the promotion and advertising of Irish Alcohol products through the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill. It does include some worthy changes to the present law governing the advertising of alcohol at children, by curtailing advertising at or near places or events that children attend, visit or regularly pass by. It also includes changes to minimum pricing, reduced-price promotions and point-of-sale display and advertising.

However, the present wording of the Bill means that the advertising and promotion of Distillery & Brewery Visitor Centres could be severely constrained and adversely affect the enormous tourism potential that entrepreneurs in the Irish drinks industry have worked towards over the last ten years.

New proposals under the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill will also restrict the new entrants and smaller distillers that are crucial to promote sustainability through depth and diversity in the Irish whiskey tourism industry.

"This", added Mr Lavelle, "is unfortunately an unintended consequence of the Alcohol Bill that could prevent the advertising of whiskey tourism, negatively impact this growing industry and put jobs at risk in communities which are heavily reliant on the influx of visitors to the local distillery visitor centre.”

The Full Text of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill can be read HERE

The apparent refusal of the Department of Health to engage with industry means that the consequences of this legislation have not been fully assessed.

With the Alcohol Bill due to come before Dáil Éireann again, soon, the Irish Whiskey Association are calling on the Minister for Health and interested TDs to engage with them on reasonable amendments to the Bill, ensuring that the growing Irish Craft Drinks & Tourism industry is protected. Interesting times ahead.


Chef Swap at Aniar, Galway, to continue through 2018

The very successful "Chef Swap at Aniar" programme continues into and throughout 2018 and will see more acclaimed international and Irish guest chefs collaborating with Chef/Owner JP McMahon in his Michelin-starred Aniar Restaurant in Galway, Ireland, on different weekend dates throughout 2018.

Confirmed so far are Danni Barry, formerly of Michelin star Deanes Eipic, Belfast, and now leading the kitchen at Clenaghans Restaurant, Craigavon, on the 9th and 10th February; Amanda Cohen of cutting-edge New York City vegetable restaurant Dirt Candy on the 6th and 7th April; Christophe Dufau of Michelin star Les Bacchanales restaurant, Vence, France on the 15th and 16th June; and rising Russian star Stanislav Pesotskiy of Björn, a new Nordic restaurant in Moscow, on the 16th and 17th November. Gunnar Karl Gíslason from Michelin star, new Nordic Restaurant Dill in Reykjavík, Iceland is also due to join JP in the Aniar kitchen in 2018 at a date to be confirmed.

ChefSwap at Aniar Galway will feature Danni Barry, Stanislav Pesotskiy and Amanda Cohen among others

JP McMahon said, "Chef Swap is a wonderful way of visiting chefs to learn more about the produce we have here in Ireland. As part of the experience, I travel with each chef to visit local producers and experience how the produce is harvested. On the other hand, for the team in Aniar and our guests, it gives us an insight into each chef’s unique way of cooking and every time is a surprise. Many chefs bring signature dishes to their menu while challenging themselves to use Irish ingredients. Feedback, both from our guests who book dinner and from the visiting chefs, has been overwhelmingly positive so it’s exciting to extend the programme into 2018.”

The Chef Swap at Aniar programme, which started in 2017, has innovation, education and the strengthening of Irish food at its centre.

In 2017, Aniar welcomed guest chefs Ross Lewis of Chapter One, Dublin; Sasu Laukkonen, now of Ora, Helsinki; Nathan Outlaw of Outlaw’s at the Capital, London, and Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, Port Isaac; Syrco Bakker of Pure C, The Netherlands; Alexandre Silva of LOCO, Lisbon; Benoit Dewitte of Restaurant Benoit Dewitte, Ghent; Daniel Burns of Luksus-Tørst, Brooklyn; and Adam Reid of The French, Manchester.

The 2018 Chef Swap at Aniar programme kicks off in February 2018 and each of the Chef Swap at Aniar dinner menus follow the same menu format as the regular Aniar tasting menus - 6 courses at 65 euro, 8 courses at 85 euro, or 10 courses at 110 euro.

For more information and reservations see, or phone +353 (0)91 535947.

Follow Chef Swap at Aniar on Twitter - #ChefSwap | @chef_swap


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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 Visit

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