Tuesday, 29 May 2012

BBQ Sauce & Basting Stock!

With this wonderful weather upon us and the whole of Ireland pulling out their BBQs to take advantage of the sunny afternoons, I thought that I’d give you a tip that will help turn your Barbecue into something really special!

The first thing to note is that you should not coat your meat (any type) with your Barbecue sauce until it is almost finished cooking. The reason for this is that the sugars and tomatoes in the BBQ sauce will caramelise and burn on the outside of the meat before it is actually cooked on the inside!

Instead you use a Basting Sauce (or stock) while it is cooking to keep it moist and add flavour. Use a 1” paintbrush to coat the basting sauce over the meat as it is cooking. 

When your food is cooked, brush the BBQ Sauce over the meat and give it another few minutes on the grill to glaze and finish the flavouring.

My Basting Sauce Recipe:
500ml apple juice
100ml olive oil
50ml malt vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Chicken stock cube
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tspn thyme
1 tspn rosemary
½ tspn paprika
½ tspn black pepper
½ tspn salt

Put everything in a pot and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and let it cool completely before using it to moisten your meats as they cook.

My BBQ Sauce Recipe:
50ml olive oil
1 medium onion
5 cloves garlic
1 red chilli (deseeded)
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 green pepper
2x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
50g brown sugar
4 tbls honey
50ml soy sauce
300ml tomato ketchup
100ml brown sauce
1 tbls Treacle
1 tbls Sesame OIl
1 tbls Dijon mustard
1 tbls Worchester sauce
juice and zest of 1 lemon
juice and zest of 1 orange
1 tspn Tabasco sauce
½ tspn cracked black pepper
100ml water

Chop the vegetables finely or blitz them in a food processor. Put them into a large pot and add all the other ingredients. Bring it all to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer the sauce for 30 minutes. You can use this BBQ sauce straight away or, if you have the time, put it in the fridge overnight to help the flavours develop. 

Simply brush the sauce over your meat, when it is cooked to your liking, give it another few minutes on the Barbecue and let it add that tasty, shiny, crispy glaze that will have your guests licking their fingers with delight!

Both sauces can be used for beef, chicken, ribs, lamb, Kebabs, burgers, sausages – everything really except fish (you can if you wish - but I wouldn't !)

My BBQ Sauce is also excellent for rubbing on Chicken Wings for roasting in the oven. Coat them well and cook, uncovered, in a pre-heated medium oven (around 150°C) for about 25 minutes. Finger Lickin' Good!

Both sauces can be made in advance and kept in the fridge for up to a week. Enjoy the Sunshine and insist on locally-sourced Food!


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Irish Restaurant Awards 2012 National Finals - Full Results

see HERE for 2013 Irish Restaurant Awards Full Results

The Regional and All Ireland Titles of the Irish Restaurant Awards were announced at the Awards Ceremony which was held in the Burlington Hotel Dublin on Monday 14th May 2012. 

The awards celebrate all aspects of the Industry from Chefs and Restaurants to Food Producers, Local Food Heroes and Cookery Schools. Nominations for the awards are made by readers of the Sunday Independent LIFE Magazine and members of the Restaurants Association of Ireland.

The event recognizes achievement and excellence in the Restaurant and Hospitality Industry throughout the Island of Ireland. The Irish Restaurant Awards are brought to you by The Restaurants Association of Ireland and are sponsored by Santa Rita/Sunday Independent LIFE Magazine & others. The awards are the largest and most coveted awards in the Irish Restaurant Industry.

County winners were announced at a number of Regional Events in the run up to this main event.  Guests at the main event were treated to a five course menu prepared by the winning Chefs in each of the five regions from last year.

There were 3 components to the final phase of the process & each element was independently assessed by KPMG.

1. Mystery Guest Visit (35%) -This component of the awards was conducted by Prism Consulting headed by Hugo Arnold, independent food writer and consultant (http://www.hugoarnold.com). All County Winners received a mystery guest visit throughout the month of April.

2. National Awards Academy (55%) -The National Awards Academy were made up by representatives from each of the regional judging panels and they met during May to Judge the County Winners.

3. Menu Judging (10%) -All County winners and the Dublin Shortlist in each category were asked to submit a copy of their food menu and wine list for judging.

The Winners in each of the following categories were:


This category recognises the dining experience which best offers outstanding value, excellent food, appropriate service, genuine hospitality and an appropriate overall dining experience.
ULSTER - Il Pirata
MUNSTER - La Cucina
LEINSTER - A. Caviston
CONNAUGHT - Mulberrys Restaurant & Wine Bar
DUBLIN - O'Connells


This category will recognise a hotel restaurant that demonstrates the very best in a dining experience as evidenced by attention to detail, a well-structured, balanced and appropriate menu, exemplary customer service and enjoyable and suitable atmosphere.
  • ULSTER - The River Room @ Galgorm Resort
  • MUNSTER - The Long Room @ Doonbeg
  • LEINSTER - Beaches Restaurant @ Kelly's Resort Hotel
  • CONNAUGHT - Ballynahinch Castle
  • DUBLIN - Seasons Restaurant @ The Four Seasons Hotel
  • ALL-IRELAND WINNER - The Long Room @ Doonbeg


Goes to the gastro pub with an impressive food aspect, genuine and demonstrable hospitality and an outstanding, relevant and complementary drinks offering.
  • ULSTER - The Brewers House
  • MUNSTER - The Roadside Tavern
  • LEINSTER - The Fatted Calf
  • CONNAUGHT - Bar One
  • DUBLIN - The Chop House
  • ALL-IRELAND WINNER - The Chop House

The chef who most impresses in their approach, design and execution of dishes and who is clearly pushing at culinary boundaries in Ireland.
  • ULSTER - Joery Castel, The Boathouse
  • MUNSTER - Wade Murphy, The Long Room @ Doonbeg
  • LEINSTER - Garrett Byrne, Campagne
  • CONNAUGHT - Philippe Farineau, Mount Falcon
  • DUBLIN - Ross Lewis, Chapter One
  • ALL-IRELAND WINNER - Garrett Byrne, Campagne


This goes to the restaurant offering a balanced and appropriate wine list, an interesting range of producers and which strives for excellence in the service of wine.

Best Wine Experience Ireland - West @ The Twelve Hotel

Best Restaurant 2012
This goes to the restaurant offering a balanced and appropriate wine list, an interesting range of producers and which strives for excellence in the service of wine.
  • ULSTER - James Street South
  • MUNSTER - Les Gourmandises
  • LEINSTER - Campagne
  • CONNAUGHT - Artisan
  • DUBLIN - Chapter One
  • ALL-IRELAND WINNER - Chapter One

Best Kids Size Me 2012
This award goes to the restaurant who aims to ensure children have access to healthier food options when dining out by making child size portions of appropriate adult meals available as an alternative to ordering from the standard children's menu.
Best Kid Size Me Menu Ireland  - Ely Gastro Pub, Dublin

Best Customer Service 2012

This award recognises the establishment that demonstrably goes above and beyond a normal level of service and does it consistently and in an appropriate manner.

ULSTER - Harveys Point Hotel
MUNSTER - Isaacs Restaurant
LEINSTER - Viewmount House
CONNAUGHT - Renvyle House
DUBLIN - Rasam
ALL-IRELAND WINNER - Harveys Point Hotel

*Comeragh Mountain Lamb - Local Food Hero 2012 Sponsored by Life Magazine

Best Restaurant Website sponsored by Lightbox - Milano, Ireland
Best Coffee Experience sponsored by Robert Roberts - 3FE, Dublin 
Best Ethnic Restaurant sponsored by Tiger Beer - Ananda, Dublin 
Best Artisan Producer sponsored by IFSA - Boulabane Ice-Cream
Best Club Restaurant sponsored by La Rousse - Restaurant FortyOne @ Residence, Dublin
Just Ask 2012 sponsored by Bord Bia - L. Mulligan Grocer, Dublin 
Best Seafood Experience sponsored by Kish - O'Gradys On The Pier, Co. Galway
Best Supplier sponsored by RAI - Pallas Foods
Great Value Dining sponsored by Tourism Ireland - Thyme, Co. Westmeath
Best Practice in Energy Management sponsored by Calor - Dromoland Castle, Co. Clare
Best Innovative Restaurant sponsored by Failte Ireland - Mulberry Garden, Dublin 
Best Restaurant Design sponsored by Hugh Jordan - Bijou, Dublin 
Best Cocktail Experience sponsored by Smirnoff Mojito - The Exchequer, Dublin 
Best Newcomer sponsored by Elavon - The Green House, Dublin
Best Cookery School sponsored by Avonmore - The Tannery Cookery School, Co. Waterford

The Irish Restaurant Awards 2012 are independently supervised by:

Congrats to Everyone that got through to the finals and Well Done to All the Winners!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

A National Irish Tea Cosy Competition!

"A cuppa Tea's a Darling Thing!"  as Joxer Daly said to Captain Boyle in 'Juno & the Paycock', Sean O'Casey's famous play. In the play, the Boyle family are set against the political and social events of the Irish Civil War in 1922. 
Irish playwrite Sean O'Casey wrote "Juno & the Paycock" in 1924
Click here for an excellent website about Sean O'Casey
Set in a tenement house, Juno and the Paycock is an epic tale of survival and vengeance punctuated by dreadful poverty. Juno, the spirited matriarch of the Boyle household tries to keep her family together while it is being pulled apart by growing political unrest. Her husband, Captain Jack Boyle drinks his way through his days with his side-kick Joxer Daly, while their children fail tragically in their own search for a better life.

"A cuppa Tae's a darlin' thing, a darlin' thing" says Joxer Daly

They spend more time drinking tea, procrastinating and talking about a revolution, than working or taking part in anything!

The lovely people from the Irish Craft Festival 2012 are looking back towards the golden days of the Tea Cosy, by looking forward to people using them again! 

They have launched a Tea Cosy Making Competition as part of their festival and the idea has really taken off! Part of what they are trying to do is to get people making their tea in a Teapot again and to stop making 'one in a cup'. 

And right they are! No-one ever drinks only one cup of tea! And after all the talk, this week on Twitter, about Tea, making tea, the politics of tea and more, it is a great idea that they have spawned!

Here are some pictures of home-made Tea-Cosies that I found:

So, Now is Your chance to get involved!
You can find out more and Enter the competition here at: http://craftfestival.wordpress.com/teacosy/

What a lovely idea!


Friday, 4 May 2012

Roscommon Lamb Festival 2012 Now On!

Roscommon Lamb Festival 2012 is in it’s fifth year - celebrating all aspects of County Roscommon’s food, farming, heritage, craft  and most importantly – family, in a range of events designed to suit everyone’s tastes.  

The majority of our events are free and the festival itself is a non profit event. The Roscommon Lamb Festival runs until the evening of Monday 7th May.

Irish Lamb Cutlets - simply delicious! Pic: Bordbia

Roscommon Lamb Festival started in 2008 organized by a committee of local farmers, restaurant owners and community groups.  The vision for the festival was to “highlight the quality of locally-produced food and to attract additional tourists to Roscommon thus boosting the local economy and benefitting primary producers and suppliers”. 

This is still the case with the added vision of creating an internationally recognised festival in the Northwest of Ireland and an annual celebration for the people of Roscommon and its visitors.

Based on the fact that Roscommon has the highest lamb output in the country, the festival celebrates lamb in a diverse range of food and farming events over the course of the weekend. They are organising this event to increase awareness of the festival and promote lamb as a dish.

As part of this year’s Roscommon Lamb Festival we are launching the Roscommon Alternative Money (RAM). The RAM will be in the form of tokens embossed with the Lamb Festival logo. 1 RAM token will be equivalent to 3 euros and will be exchangeable at participating Restaurants, Pubs and Businesses and events throughout the weekend.   For example 1 RAM will pay for 1 tasting at the Global Village event.

On Saturday a Kids Can Cook workshop will take place in the festival marquee with a "Crafternoon" tea event running simultaneously.

There will be a competition to find the North West Young Sheep Farmer 2012 and this will be judged by Macra president Alan Jago. Saturday night finishes with the usual massive Barbeque Brazilian Style with music from Four Men and a Base. Sunday morning sees the start of the international sheep dog trials at 8am.  The trials will continue throughout the day.
The family Fun Day takes place also on Sunday in Loughnaneane Park with a host of attractions and activities for all. 
Irish Lamb cooked Brazilian BBQ style at the Roscommon Lamb Festival
The Global Food Village will also feature in the park.  Meanwhile the Wool Craft Village will be in full swing in the marquee with workshops and demonstrations featuring shearing, spinning, weaving, felt making, knitting, dyeing, in short everything to do with wool.
Sounds like a great weekend of what I reckon to be the Tastiest Meat in the World! Lamb.

For more details see http://www.roscommonlambfestival.com/

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