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Tasty Party Dips for New Year’s Eve

With New Year’s Eve upon us this weekend, I thought that a few tasty and easy to make Dips would come in handy if you are planning a house party for the occasion! The dips can be used with crisps, crackers, potato wedges, cut-strips of carrot or celery, tortillas, oven chips, breadsticks, samosas, spring rolls or anything else that takes your fancy! These recipes each make enough for 10-12 people. Happy New Year!

Smooth Prawn Dip

250g Philadelphia cheese
1/4 small onion, peeled and chopped
Bunch of parsley
2 tbls Lemon Juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1/4 tspn black pepper
200 g cooked, peeled prawns
Mix all together in a blender and chill for 1 hour before use.

Sweet Chilli Mayonnaise

3 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
8 tablespoons mayonnaise
Mix both ingredients together and serve straight away.

Avocado Guacamole

4 mild chillies, finely chopped
A wee bunch coriander, chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
Pinch of salt
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 tbsp water
Juice of ½ Lime
3 ripe Avocados
Peel & dice the avocado and leave aside. Mix all the other of the ingredients together in your blender keeping them chunky. Tip this into a bowl and add the avocado. Mash all together, keeping it chunky! Chill for 1 hour before use.

Mint & Mayonnaise Dip

3 tbls Mint sauce
250g Mayonnaise
Mix both ingredients together and serve straight away.

Fresh Tomato Salsa

600g chopped tomatoes, de-seeded if you wish
1 chopped green pepper
3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
4 scallions small
2 tablespoons fresh coriander
1 red chilli chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 tspn salt
Chop everything small but not finely. You can do a quick pulp in the blender but keep it chunky and don’t let it go into a puree! Chill for 1 hour before use.


200g canned chickpeas
2 tbsp lemon juice or more
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
Pinch Salt
100ml Tahini (optional)
4 tbsp water
2 tbsp olive oil
Drain the chickpeas and rinse. Combine all and mix in a blender to a creamy purée. Add more lemon juice, garlic, cumin or salt to taste. Tahini is a ground sesame seed paste you can get in most health food shops. Substitute 1 tbls sesame oil if you don’t have any tahini. Chill for 1 hour before use.

Don't forget to Feed the Fish at the bottom of this Post!

Hotel School in GMIT to host it's 1st National Food Forum in 2012

The Hotel School in the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, GMIT, will host it's first
National Foodie Forum on Thursday February 2nd, 2012.

The event will be an interactive one day experience which will showcase the abundance and variety
of excellent local and artisan produce available in Ireland. In addition the event aims to support local
food businesses and promote consumer sustainability.

The FoodieForum 2012, promises to be an exciting interactive showcase of excellence in Local and Artisan produce and a platform to network with like-minded "foodies".

The forum will include a series of Master classes with leading chefs and seminars by well known and established industry professionals. In addition visitors can experience micro-brewers and participate in food and wine workshops coupled with an indoor market of local producers.

The event aims to give delegates an amazing opportunity to experience culinary demonstrations in the "Melting Pot" with high profile and contemporary chefs, incorporating Masterclasses in Irish Lamb and Pork, the art of smoking salmon, chocolate craft and bread making, as well as molecular gastronomy!

An impressive line up of contributors have joined The Foodie Forum team in their quest to educate on the importance of the providence of food, the support of local suppliers and the use of seasonal Irish food. The event will conclude with a celebratory  culinary dining  experience, prepared by Hotel School Lecturers and Students.

The "Drinks Quarter" will host, wine appreciation workshops and tastings from Irish Micro-brewers, bespoke whiskey distillers and blenders. Visitors can also take this unique opportunity to visit the indoor Market to mingle, chat and buy!

This initiative, the inspiration of  three Hotel School Lecturers, Jacinta Dalton,  Cormac Handy and
Colin Gilligan and supported by the Hotel School at GMIT,  was pitched on Twitter to like-minded
“foodies” and the momentum gathered  within a matter of hours.  The team said that whilst they knew there was a strong foodie presence on Twitter, they were pleasantly surprised at the pace at which their idea has taken off and the goodwill amongst individuals wishing to get involved.

Cáit Noonehead of the Hotel School, at  GMIT
Cáit Noone, Head of Hotel School believes that this event is an excellent opportunity to showcase the excellent work being done by Local and Artisan food & beverage producers in the West of Ireland and beyond and is an appropriate prelude to the Volvo Ocean Race which will arrive in Galway in the summer of 2012.

"At the launch of the countdown to the Volvo Ocean Race the LDIG team announced the four main pillars of the race next summer – marine, green, innovation and food." said Cáit. "The food pillar will provide Ireland with a global showcase opportunity to share with the world our food experiences and the  outstanding locally sourced produce we have to offer. The event in the Hotel School in GMIT will  provide an introduction to the many wonderful culinary experiences visitors to Galway can expect next summer’ she added.

Visit the Hotel School "Pop Up" restaurant and get a taste of G.M.I.T or be a part of the "Forum" where industry experts and key note speakers with a passion for food will hotly debate the topics of the day.

The Foodie Forum is open to the public and industry colleagues and is set to attract a large number of visitors. In the first instance all wishing to attend the event must register their interest at

Note: Tickets for the event will be available from January 9th to January 20th only.

Tickets for entrance to the event are €10 and tickets for the event and the celebratory dinner are €35, please call Margaret at 091 742249 to ticket payment. Students with a valid ID student card will be admitted free to the day event if they bring their identification along on the day.

In the meanwhile, for regular updates follow the team:
 on  @thefoodieforum  and find TheFoodieForum on  Facebook
with more details to follow!

Don't forget to Feed the Fish at the bottom of this Post!

New version of Gay Byrne's Christmas Cake Recipe

This is Irish TV Personality & Legend, Mr Gay Byrne, giving a spoof Christmas Cake Recipe where he gets to tasting the whiskey (that's supposed to be for the cake) just a little too much!

Gay, affectionately known as Gaybo, is one of the most famous Irish TV personalities and one of the founding fathers of modern Irish television journalism. He hosted and produced the RTE Late Late Show, which has broadcast every Friday night since it's first show in 1962 until he retired in 1999!

The Late Late Show is Ireland's most popular and prestigious television show and is also the longest running chat show in the world.

Gay sometimes tells a story about him making a Christmas Cake, where he follow a recipe and as he cooks it he makes regular tasting checks on the quality of the whiskey, with humorous results!

I pasted Gay's face into a Santa Claus suit and used a little bit of PhotoShop to make this wee animation to go along with the story. It's the best I could do in an hour but I had a laugh myself at the finished film clip!

So sit back and listen to...

Gay Byrne's Christmas Cake


For more from Zack see

Cakebombs - A New Irish Gourmet Lollipop!

Last week, on Twitter, I noticed two tweets by a new Irish business @Cakebombs"Truffle cake, ganache and lashings of Belgian chocolate on a lolly stick...what more could you want?" said one, and "We are now open for business! Check us out on".

So I did. 
What I found was a simple but tasty wee idea that looks like it has the potential to be the next Irish Chocolate classic! 

Cakebombs are handmade artisan chocolate truffle & cake treats blended with butter-cream or ganache, placed on a lolly stick and dipped in chocolate with various toppings. They are made fresh to order using the best of ingredients including top quality Belgian chocolate.

The brains behind the business (based in Dublin) is Cake Designer Debbie Ross and she sent me a little box to sample during the week. 

"Eat Me!" it said on the box. "With Pleasure", said I.
"The devil is in the detail" they say and Debbie and her team really have put their all into the making of these tasty wee nibbles. The cardboard box arrived wrapped in brown paper & tied with string. Inside was another layer of tissue to protect the little Gourmet Pops that lay waiting to be devoured!
You can see that attention paid to the product
There are six signature Cakebombs in the collection so far, three are dark chocolate & three are white chocolate flavours. These are:
Chocolate Bomb - Dark Chocolate truffle cake, chocolate ganache, dressed in dark chocolate, decorated with a top hat of cocoa.
Lemon Bomb - White chocolate & lemon truffle cake, lemon buttercream, dressed in white chocolate, a top hat of toasted crumbs
Mocha Bomb - Dark chocolate & coffee truffle cake, chocolate ganache, dressed in dark chocolate, a top hat of sugar cane crystals.
Vanilla Bomb - White chocolate & vanilla truffle cake, vanilla buttercream, dressed in white chocolate, with a top hat of toasted coconut.
Orange Bomb - Dark Chocolate & orange truffle cake, chocolate ganache, dressed in dark chocolate, a top hat of toasted cake crumb.
Peanut Butter Bomb - White chocolate & peanut butter truffle cake, peanut buttercream, dressed in white chocolate, a top hat of crushed nuts.
Debbie has further plans to expand the range and take into account the various seasonal fruits and flavours.
All the Cakebombs are hand made to Order!
I have to admit that they tasted yummy, my favourite being the Lemon Bomb & the Peanut Butter Bomb. The are soft and very fresh, probably due to the fact that they are being baked to order. The chocolate truffle & ganache is light as a feather, lighter than I expected and if you like your coffee strong you will love the Mocha Bomb!

Mocha Bomb & Chocolate Bomb
Award winning baker and cook Debbie Ross set up Deb's Creative Cakes in 2011 and have created cakes that look like vintage typewriters, designer handbags, iPods, animals, cars and you can see more here

Dipping the Cakebombs

She makes, bakes and decorates all types of cakes, all handmade and tailored to each client. Her Wedding, Birthday & Christening cakes are "dedication to the art of beauty" says Debbie. You can see examples of her other work here.

I think these little CakeBombs are a perfect special little gift for Weddings, Celebrations, Special Occasions or Corporate events. They can be served as nibbles, dessert, favours or simply with coffee as a treat!


Debbie has given us 2 boxes of Cakebombs to give away here as reader prizes and they will be delivered to your door in the New Year. To enter simply leave a Comment with your name & contact details Here at the bottom of this Blog post. Winners will be picked by random.

To see more about Debbie's Creative Cakes go to

To Order & Buy your own Cakebombs go to

Don't forget to Feed the Fish at the bottom of this Post!

Donegal Artisan Butcher wins European Champion Title

Celebrating 60 years in business in 2012 is a great occasion for any family tradition and now McGettigan’s Butchers in Donegal Town have added another trophy to their prestigious silverware collection after taking the title of "European Champions" for their all time favourite Hickory and Maple Sausage. The award was presented at a ceremony in Alençon, Normandy, in November.
Ernan & Diarmuid McGettigan
with their European Championship Trophy -pic
“We are still in shock and we didn’t expect anything like this,” said Ernan McGettigan, co-proprietor of the family run butcher shop.

McGettigan’s Butchers won two rosettes for both their Lamb, Rosemary & Plum sausage and their Rhubarb & Ginger sausage and two trophies for their Traditional Sausage and a Curry, Banana & Mango sausage. The icing on their cake this Christmas, however, was when the judges awarded them the much sought-after European Champion’s Award for their most creative sausage with the Hickory and Maple Sausage.

By coincidence, their original version of this Hickory and Maple sausage got the family butchers their very first European award in that category back in 2001! “It was nice that ten years later, we received an even more prestigious award for the very same sausage,” said Ernan. The other countries competing for the European Title were France, Germany, Austria, Great Britain & the Netherlands. “We are delighted to take this home to Ireland!” he added.

Ernan, along with his brother Diarmuid, are now looking at the possibility of rolling out their award winning sausages nationally. “That’s something we are thinking about but for now we just want to savour and enjoy the moment!”

The wall in McGettigan’s Butchers is covered with numerous Gold Medal awards including an amazing Five times Supreme Champion Award in the Associated Craft Butchers Sausage Competition of Ireland! The family are delighted to be adding this European Champion’s Award to their already prestigious silverware collection!
60 years in business! Founder Michael McGettigan
with his sons Diarmuid & Ernan
On the 10th July 1952, Michael McGettigan opened his Butcher Shop in premises on the Diamond, Donegal Town, that were leased from a Mr Andrew Begley (where Begley’s Pharmacy now stands). Behind the counter at 9am on that opening day was Ms Minnie McGahern who, by purchasing three lamb chops for half-a-crown, became Michael’s first customer. In 1954, Michael moved to their present-day location.

For more on McGettigan’s Butchers of Donegal click on their Facebook page Here 

Don't forget to Feed the Fish at the bottom of this Post!

An Old Recipe for Fish Chowder

A Chowder is a satisfying thick fish soup that is said to have taken it's name from the large, French, three-legged iron cooking pot known as a "chaudiere". The term is generally applied, here in Ireland, to the classical thick & creamy dish, but the actual Chowder can vary enormously.

There are many styles of making Chowder from the French brasserie style, the traditional cream-based one (which is internationally known as a New England style) to the tomato-based Manhattan style and many other regional variations in between! In truth, this now international fish dish is totally unpretentious and is flexible in it's use of ingredients. There are no fast rules!

The three-legged iron cooking pot known as a "Chaudiere"

I found this poem by 'Author Unknown' in an old book and wanted to share it...

"To Make a Good Chowder"
To make a good Chowder and have it quite nice
Dispense with sweet marjoram, parsley and spice:
Mace, pepper and salt are now wanted alone.
To make the stew eat well and stick to the bone,
Some pork is sliced thin and put into the pot;
Some say you must turn it, some say you must not;
And when it is brown, take it out of the fat,
And add it again when you add this and that.
A layer of potatoes, sliced quarter inch thick, 
Should be placed in the bottom to make it eat slick;
A layer of onions now over this place,
Then season with pepper and salt and some mace.
Split open your crackers and give them a soak;
In eating you'll find this the cream of the joke.
On top of all this, now comply with my wish
And put in large chunks, all your pieces of fish;
Now put on the pieces of pork you have fried
I mean those from which all the fat has been tried.
In seasoning I pray you, don't spare the cayenne;
'Tis this makes it fit to be eaten by men.
After adding these things in their regular rotation
You'll have a dish fit for the best of the nation!

This old recipe's method, based on de-coding the poem, goes something like this!

1. Fry off some bacon till crispy. Remove and leave aside.
2. In the bacon fat, brown off some chunky-cut potatoes and sliced onions.
3. Season with pepper, salt & mace. (that bit was easy!)
4. Cut open some bread rolls into pieces and add to the pot. Cover with cream or milk.
5. Add your fish, cut in bite-size, and the crispy bacon strips.
6. Sprinkle in a generous amount of cayenne pepper and cook until the potato is soft.

This says 1834 but the recipe most certainly dates from before that!

I'm going to have to just try this out because it really does sound quite delicious!

Don't forget to Feed the Fish at the bottom of this Post!

Cooley Distillery's launches new Poitín!

Cooley Distillery has just launched a new range of Poitín! It has been double-distilled in Riverstown, is only available in Ireland and is bottled at 65% abv. Consisting of only 1,800 bottles this small batch release will be initially available through the Celtic Whiskey Shop and Dublin Airport as well as through good independent off-licenses and each 50cl bottle will be around €30.

Cooley Distillery's new 65% Poitín!

The origin of distilling in Ireland dates back over 1,000 years. Before there was Irish whiskey there was Poitín – a clear Irish spirit famous for its alcohol strength. In homage to this ancient Irish Spirit, Cooley Distillery, Irelands only independent whiskey distiller, has released an Origin series of Poitín products to revive the traditional Spirit of Ireland.

An old illegal Poitín Still from Donegal
Poitín was traditionally distilled in a small pot still and the term is a derivative of the Irish word pota, meaning "pot". Normally distilled from barley grain or potatoes, it is one of the strongest alcoholic beverages in the world and for centuries was classified as illegal in Ireland.  Poitín is one of the most long-established spirits in the world with a rich and varied history and is exclusively associated with Ireland.

Jack Teeling, Managing Director of Cooley Distillery, commented,  “Poitín is at the origin of Irish Spirits and Irish whiskey in particular. Over the years it has been demonised because it was illegally produced and the end product lacked consistency, quality and credibility. We have produced a quality Poitín product using ancient techniques in our award winning distillery allowing consumers of today try this ancient Irish spirit with confidence as they are getting a high quality product.” 
Cooleys’ first Poitín release is triple distilled in small copper Pot Stills from a traditional Irish Pot Still recipe of malted and unmalted barley. Bottled straight from the still with no maturation produces a surprisingly smooth spirit even for one that is bottled at 65% abv. Poitín like any quality white spirit lends itself to be consumed in a variety of ways, neat, with water, with mixers and as a component of cocktails but due to its alcohol strength it should be enjoyed in moderation.

“As Poitín is basically un-aged Irish whiskey spirit and we hope to revive the Poitín as a national product. A lot of other countries around the world celebrate and market their national high alcohol spirits. Brazil have Cachaca, Greece Ouzo, Bulgaria Rakia and the Czech’s have successfully revived Absinthe after it was effectively outlawed for over 75 years. We want to bring Poitín out from the shadows and let Irish people have a national white spirit they can be proud of,” says Mr. Teeling.
Some of the Cooley range of Irish Whiskeys
Cooley Distillery is the award winning independent Irish whiskey distillery. Established in 1987, Cooley takes its name from the location of its distillery, situated at the foothills of the Cooley Mountains, in Co. Louth

Here is an old Song about Poitín called "The Hills of Connemara" as sung by Noel Mc Loughlin:

Cooley has an award winning portfolio of Irish whiskeys including Kilbeggan Irish whiskey, Tyrconnell Single Malt, Connemara Peated Single Malt and Greenore Single Grain Irish whiskey. 

To learn more about Cooley Distillery visit

My Traditional Irish Christmas Cake

Christmas cakes are made in many different ways, but generally they are variations on the classic fruitcake. They can be light, dark, moist, dry, heavy, spongy etc. They are made in many different shapes, with frosting, royal icing, a dusting of icing sugar or plain.

The spices and dried fruits in the cake are supposed to represent the exotic eastern spices brought by the three Wise Men to the newborn King! The fruit is all soaked overnight in the whiskey, in a covered bowl, before use.

I always make three cakes - one for Christmas Day and two to eat every day for tea until then!
My Ingredients:
150g (5oz) raisins
125g (4½oz) stoned dates
125g (4½oz) sultanas
100g (4oz) glace cherries
100ml (4 fl oz) Irish whiskey
(all of the above are soaked together overnight before making the cake)

225g (8oz) real butter
extra butter for greasing
200g (7oz) caster sugar
4 eggs
grated rind of 1 lemon & 1 orange
2tbls black treacle (or molasses)
225g (8oz) plain (all purpose) flour
½ tsp salt
1 rounded tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground clove
50g (2oz) ground almonds
50ml (2 fl oz) extra whiskey 

My Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F), Gas mark 2. Grease a 20cm (8") cake tin and line it with greaseproof paper. Wrap some Newspaper around the outside and tie it with string. This will help the outside of the cake from browning too much during the cooking and prevent it from drying out.

2. Beat together, in a bowl, the sugar & butter until creamy. Gradually add the eggs, dusting a little of the flour in with each egg added. Add the treacle & grated fruit rinds and mix well.

3. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl of soaked fruit and add the salt, spices and almonds. Stir all of this together, mixing well.

4. Fold the fruit mix into the egg mix, stirring evenly. Spoon the completed mix into the cake tin.

5. Bake in the centre of the oven for 3 hours. If it is browning a little too much cover it loosely with tinfoil. Cook for another ½ hour. The cake is cooked when a fine skewer, inserted into the centre, comes out clean and dry.

Make small holes all over the warm cake with a skewer and spoon the extra 50ml whiskey over the holes until it has all soaked in. Leave the cake to cool in the tin. 

When the cake is cold, remove it from the tin, peel off the lining paper, then wrap it first in clean greaseproof paper and then in foil.

A small amount of brandy, sherry or whiskey (depending on your favourite tipple) should be poured onto the cake every week until Christmas. This process is called “feeding the cake”. You also should turn the cake over, each week, before you pour another little bit of your favourite tipple over it. This ensures that all that lovely alcohol penetrates to the very middle of the Christmas cake and definitely creates that "Yum!" factor on Christmas Day. :)


This week's Guest Chef - Ruperta Gallagher

Ruperta Gallagher returned, with her husband Brian, from America in 1993 and opened the Blueberry Tearooms in Donegal Town. She loves baking tasty pies & tarts and this recipe, from her kitchen, is one of her favourite homemade Autumn cakes.

The Blueberry Tea Room & Restaurant, Donegal Town
Cinnamon Pear Cake with Vanilla Fudge Sauce
750g ripe Pears
40g butter
3 tbls muscovado sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
200g butter
200g caster sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
200g SR Flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

1. Set the oven at 160*C. Melt 40g butter, dark sugar & cinnamon together slowly in a shallow pan, stirring often. Carefully add the peeled, cored and roughly chopped pears and cook until tender and coated in sauce. Don't let the sauce go dark. Set aside to cool.

2. Beat the 200g butter and sugar until light & creamy. Add the eggs and flour alternately and fold in any remaining flour with the baking powder.

3. Add the pears and their syrup and mix gently. Pour into a 24cm loose-bottomed and lightly-buttered cake tin and bake for 45 mins. Leave to cool before removing from the tin.

Cinnamon Pear Cake with Vanilla Fudge Sauce
For the Fudge Sauce bring 100g muscovado sugar, 100g golden syrup & 50g butter to the boil in a heavy-based pot. Stir in 150ml cream and a few drops of vanilla extract and leave it to cool & thicken. Serve over the cake with some ice cream.

Don't forget to Feed the Fish at the bottom of this Post!

An Example of how modern Social Media can work

Some friends have been set a challenge by the Regional Cultural Centre in Letterkenny
and the Nerve Centre in Derry to promote one film from Donegal and one
from Derry using free social media.

I (of course) am helping to promote the Donegal film "Brighter Days" !!!

 Everything we do during the challenge will be recorded
and presented at a free seminar on 25th November to show local film
makers, arts and community groups how they can use social media to promote
their work.

 The challenge is part of the Sharing Stories project, a
collaboration between the Nerve Centre and the Regional Cultural Centre
under which about 20 short films have been produced in the past 2 years.

Please share this film by copying & pasting This link: and do Share it with your real friends!

And Don't forget to Feed the Fish at the bottom of this Post!

"Waterford Blaa" to be EU Registered as Unique


The Irish government has begun the formal process to seek EU recognition of the unique characteristics of the Waterford 'Blaa' - the simple, but special, bread roll/bap that is associated with Waterford City. 

The Waterford Blaa

Minister Simon Coveney launched a national consultation process on the application of the “Waterford Blaa” for registration as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). On completion of the national consultation the application will be forwarded to the European Commission for review. Granting of this intellectual property protection to "Waterford Blaa" would mean that producers of the product within the specified region only could use this name.

Bakers from the Waterford Blaa Bakers Association

Minister Coveney said "The publishing of the specification document follows a period of engagement between the producer group in Waterford (Waterford Blaa Bakers Association) and my Department."

He went on to say, "It is important that we take advantage of the EU Quality Products Scheme; to date Ireland has not sufficiently exploited this opportunity, this is a positive step forward, I would encourage producers of regional products to discuss possible applications with my Department". 

Technical Description:

“Waterford Blaa” / “Blaa” is a soft doughy white bread roll clearly identified by the white floury top on the product. Unlike other products in this category Waterford Blaa contains no enrichment and is made from preservative free strong bakers flour, table salt, compressed yeast, dough conditioner and water only.

The bread has the following characteristics:


“Waterford Blaa” / “Blaa” can be round or square. They are made both crusty and soft are pined out round and trayed up round but the batch together as they expand during baking, when they are pulled apart they are square shaped but their domed top gives them a round appearance.

“Waterford Blaa” / “Blaa” is 3-4.5cm high with a diameter of 8-12cm and weighs 40-65g.


“Waterford Blaa” / “Blaa” may be presented in two different ways:

Rustic square, or round shape of bread with a dome shaped, crusty top dusted with flour. Crunchy at first bite, then chewy with a subtle malt taste and a pleasing bitter aftertaste from the well cooked, dark crust.

Soft, well-defined square, oval or round shape of bread, pale in colour and heavily dusted with flour. Slightly sweet, malt flavour, light but firm in texture and melts in the mouth.

Geographical area:

The geographical area that applies to this application is described as Waterford city and county and an area of south Co. Kilkenny as outlined in the map.

The Blaa can only be made withing the area marked on the map

The geographical area is restricted to the geographical area known as all of County Waterford and that part of South County Kilkenny, which directly adjoins County Waterford made up of the Ullid and Dunkitt electoral divisions which is part of the southern Piltown electoral area The river Blackwater runs through the area and includes the town-lands of Dangan, Narabawn, Moolum, Newtown, Skeard, Greenvilleand and Ullid.

You can read the actual Technical Specification Document for the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI status) of the Waterford Blaa  HERE.

The PGI scheme protects particular product names that are linked to a particular territory or to a production method. The products themselves do not have to be unique, yet the applications must show how the characteristics of the region - topographic, reputation, natural resources - have an impact on the characteristics of the product.

A Lamb burger on Waterford blaa topped with sweet cherry toms & dressing  from Eden Restaurant, Dublin,  who get their Blaas delivered from Waterford every day. pic via @MarkMatanes

The requirements for Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) are:
  • The product/foodstuff originates from the defined geographical area
  • Possess a specific quality, reputation or other characteristics attributable to the defined geographic area
  • At least one stage of production, processing and preparation of the agricultural product or foodstuff takes place within the defined geographical area.
It is a stringent process and can take several years to complete from the time a decision to apply for the registration of a product is made. After analysis by national authorities it goes to Europe for consideration. Once it gets to European level the Blaa will undergo examination by the Commission services & publication with a 6-month opposition period before registration may be granted.

Four Irish products already have an EU Quality label:
Clare Island Salmon, Connemara Hill Lamb, Imokilly Regato, and Timoleague Brown Pudding. These products were worth €35 million to the Irish economy in 2010 and have a strong track record in the export market.

12% of Irish products bearing EU quality labels are sold within the Irish market, 82% are sold to other EU countries, and 6% are sold outside of the EU. In the EU as a whole the opposite is the case, as the vast majority of quality label products are sold within their country of production. This difference reflects the strong export-oriented nature of Ireland's food production industry.


After over two years of consultation, the Waterford Blaa/The Blaa has, this week, received Protected Geographical Indication (PGI status) and is now a "protected food species". The Blaa was one of five new quality farm products added to the European Register of Protected Designations of Origin (PDOs) and Protected Geographical Indications (PGI), this week.

The other foods indocturned into this European Food Hall of Fame were for a French goat’s cheese Rigotte de Condrieu (PDO); Italian cheeses Puzzone di Moena/Spretz Tzaorì (PDO) and Pecorino di Picinisco (PDO) and for a Slovenian soft cheese Mohant (PDO).

Congratulations ans well done to the Waterford Blaa Bakers Association and the Department of Agriculture in their long struggle to get recognition for this unique bread product.


This week's Guest Chef - Dave Houraghan

Dave Houraghan is the Head Chef at Woodhill House in Ardara. His cooking style is traditional French cuisine with a modern Irish twist and insists on using fresh Irish produce, especially fish & seafood from nearby Killybegs and Donegal-produced beef, lamb & pork. 
Dave Houraghan - Chef at Woodhill House in Ardara, County Donegal
Woodhill House is an historic coastal manor house dating back in parts to the 17th century and formerly the family home of the Nesbitts, local landlords and Ireland's last commercial whaling family of the 19th century. The 6th century religious relic, St. Conal's Bell, was mysteriously stolen from Woodhill House in 1845 and has never been recovered.
The elegant dining room contains antique furnishing from by gone days

The house which overlooks the beautiful Donegal Highlands is set in its own grounds with an old walled garden. It is half a mile from the sea and a quarter of a mile from the coastal town of Ardara.

"I love this time of year" says Dave. " It's a great time of year to go foraging for wild mushrooms in the woods around Ardara".

Toasted Devilled Kidney and Wild Mushrooms

Ingredients for 2 people:
Half a stick of French bread
200g mixed wild mushrooms, quartered
1 Pigs kidney (or 4 lambs kidneys)
50g Butter
1 Tablespoon plain flour
¼ Teaspoon hot smoked paprika
Cracked black pepper
15ml Brandy
100ml red wine

1. Slice the French stick horizontally and toast on both sides, leave aside to cool.
2. Melt half the butter in a frying pan and fry the mushrooms, when done set aside and keep warm.
3. Meanwhile slice the kidney lengthways but not all the way through, open like a book. Add the paprika to the flour and season with salt and pepper.
4. Dust the sliced kidney with the flour ensuring a good covering. Melt the remaining butter in the frying pan and fry the kidney for 2 minutes turning regularly.
5. Reintroduce the mushrooms for 30 seconds and mix with the kidney. Remove from the pan and cover to keep warm.
6. Toss the flour we used into the pan with the juices and stir well. Cook for 30 seconds, add the brandy and red wine. bring to the boil and reduce by half. Season to taste.
7. Butter the toast then spoon over the ingredients, drizzle the sauce over the top and garnish with torn parsley before serving.

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