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New North West Irish Culinary Team to Compete at Hotelympia London 2014

A group of professional Irish Chefs from the Northwest of Ireland have come together and founded a new Regional Culinary Team which intends to compete as an independent Culinary Team at Hotelympia, London, in April 2014.




Hotelympia is the UK & Ireland's largest hospitality and food service event and the most important event of 2014 for people involved in the hospitality industry and the Salon Culinaire is at the centre of Hotelympia for all chefs. Over 8,000 chefs visit the event and for many, the three different sections of Salon Culinaire are the principle reason for their visit.



The Northwest Culinary Team Captain  is international award winning chef Joe Clinton

The Northwest Culinary Team comprises some of the top chefs from counties Donegal , Leitrim & Sligo who have all taken part, very successfully, in international culinary competitions in the past. Earlier this year the North West Culinary team took 4 Golds, 4 Silvers and 6 Bronze Medals at the Chef Ireland International competition held in the RDS Dublin. From this achievement was born their desire to enter a team into one of the world’s most prestigious culinary competitions, Hotelympia.



Hotelympia is a world-class culinary competition and the largest of its kind in the UK & Ireland consisting of three elements: fine dining restaurant La Parade des Chefs, stunning culinary creations in Salon Display and the live competition thrills of the Live Theatre.

La Parade des Chefs is the fine dining experience at the very heart of Hotelympia, where competing teams of chefs from around the world cook for visitors and their guests. The newly formed Northwest Culinary Team say they are determined to win La Parade des Chefs!


Meet the newly formed Northwest Culinary Team

Joe Clinton, Dee Clinton, Gabriel McSharry, Billy Grimes



John Kelly, Alan Fitzmaurice, Tony Campbell, Sylvester Dolan
"We have about 25 members in the complete team between the main exhibition chefs and the backup team. These are both young & senior men and women who want to promote the local region in terms of tourism and in particular our regional food," said Gabriel McSharry, Team Manager. "We believe that we have the best quality food in the world produced locally and at our fingertips, and we want to expose this great food product to the rest of the world. Our shores contain an abundance of beautiful seafood, sea vegetables and a host of other marine foods. Our fields are filled with wonderful organic fruit and vegetables."

"We intend to compete as an international culinary team at Hotelympia London next year and we look forward to putting our skills and knowledge, as professional Chefs, to the test, without fear, on the world stage!" said Joe Clinton.  "We are requesting people involved in the Hotel, catering and restaurant industry and the general public in this region to support us in our efforts to promote our region and help us to help the local industry promote our food and hopefully create jobs in our region."





The chefs have organised "A Taste of the North West", a fundraising night and the Official Launch of the Northwest Hotelympia Culinary Team, with celebrity Executive Chef  Joe Shannon, in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Sligo, on Tuesday, 29th October. The night will include cooking demonstrations, culinary delights & tastings and some special guest appearances. Comedian Frank Ford will also entertain during the evening.

Tickets for the event are only €10 each or 3 for €25 and are available from:
the Radisson Blu Hotel in Sligo on 071 914 0008
or from the chefs:
Alan 087 2472607 (Sligo) - Sylvester 086 8187165 (Leitrim) - Billy 086 8416476 (Donegal)

If you'd like to sponsor the North West Culinary Team in their goal to win at Hotelympia 2014 in any way, please contact any of the chefs above.

Zack

Rough Puff Pastry, Beef Guinness Pie & Monica Lewinsky!

My friend Chris Cassidy wrote a song in 1999 about Monica Lewinsky at the height of that particular scandal.  The Master Tape was lost until last week when we found it in a box and this week just happens to be Monica's 40th Birthday!


Chris' dad was a butcher so all his family have the 'local family name' of "Pie" eg Chris 'Pie' Cassidy etc. A local family name is a thing that you often find on the Irish west coast to distinguish one family of the same name as another. This being a food website, it was only logical that I give you a recipe for a Pie to go with the music! So here is "Rough Puff Pastry & Beef Pie" to the music of Chris Pie Cassidy!


Do enjoy both the music & the pie and please Share  it round the world - the words to the song are on the YouTube website :)



Click to play the music and the Rough Puff Pastry, Beef Guinness Pie recipes are here below :)

Rough Puff Pastry
This type of pastry is great for pies and tarts, either sweet or savoury. You can also use it for sausage rolls!


My Ingredients:
250g Plain flour
75g "Cookeen" vegetable fat
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Water
75g butter




My Method:
1. Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl and rub in the white fat as normal when making pastry. Add the lemon juice and cold water to mix to a stiff dough. Refrigerate for 1/2 an hour to relax.
2. Roll out the pastry into a rectangle. Cut the butter into lumps about the size of a walnut and place it over 3/4 of the pastry.
3. Fold in the unbuttered 1/3 to the middle of the pastry and then fold the 1st 1/3 over this, so that the butter is layered inside the pastry.
4. Carefully roll out this pastry to it's original size keeping it lightly floured to stop sticking. Fold it in 3 again and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
5. Repeat this rolling and folding three more times relaxing the pastry in the fridge between each folding.
6. Leave the pastry for one  hour in the fridge before finally rolling it out for your Pie top.

Beef 'n Guinness Casserole

My Ingredients:
1 kg Stewing or Braising Beef
75g Butter
2 tbls olive oil
225g Onions Roughly chopped
225g Chunky-cut Carrots
100g Roughly chopped Celery
2 cloves garlic, chopped small
1 tblsp Flour
1 tspn Wholegrain Mustard
1 tblsp Brown Sugar
1 tspn each of chopped Thyme, Parsley and Marjoram
1 Orange, simply cut in quarters
500ml Guinness
Sea Salt and Ground Black Pepper

My Method:
1. Cut the meat into bite-sized chunks. Melt 1/2 the butter in a large pan, add the meat and brown on all sides over a high heat. Remove with a spoon and set aside.
2. Turn down the heat to medium and add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic to the pan with the remaining butter and cook for 5minutes.
3. Add the flour, mustard, sugar and stir thoroughly. Add the Guinness and mix well. Stirring occasionally, cook until the sauce thickens a little.
4. Return the meat to the pan, squeeze in the orange juice and add the herbs. Season with a twist of pepper and sea salt.
5. Mix well. Then cover and simmer very gently, giving it an odd stir for approximately 2 hours until the meat is tender. You can eat this straight away as a casserole at this stage if you wish.
6. When making the pie it's best to let the meat cool a bit before topping so that it doesn't melt the pastry before it gets to the oven (which would effect the rising of the pastry). Roll out your pastry to suit your Pie Dish with 2cm extra all round.
7. Add your meat to the dish, cover with the pastry and roll in the 2cm around the edge to give a crust. Decorate and brush with beaten egg and milk to glaze.
8. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for about 35 minutes until risen and golden in colour!

There you go. Simple and delicious! And I hope you enjoyed the music too!
zack

Donegal Food Producers work towards Developing their Food Tourism potential

Food Tourism is a fast growing market segment internationally and many Irish tourist destinations are now developing this important sector as a means of gaining competitive advantage. Food creates a link to interacting with local people, which is of significant importance for visitors and can be a vehicle for experiencing our culture and heritage. Failte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority, are the driving force behind the recent increase in the regional development of Food Tourism in Ireland.

It is a natural business progression that food producers also open their production facilities to visiting tourists so that they can experience the story behind the local food. This obviously creates an opportunity for a food brand to become personalised and this in turn can create new customers for the product as people feel a bond with the product through their experience with the producer.

The food producers in southwest of Ireland realised this potential several years ago and with the help of The Allen Family at Ballymaloe and local food writers like John & Sally McKenna, who also live in west Cork, they have established the south and southwest of Ireland as leading the way in the development of Irish Food Tourism.



"We want to show Donegal Food Producers the potential increased revenues that can be achieved by adding tourism experiences to their facilities such as taking a more active part in the development of local food trails, starting new food festivals and showcasing their product, on-site, to visitors." said Eve Anne McCarron, Business Executive for The Food Coast, Donegal’s Good Food Initiative.

And so, Donegal County Enterprise through their Donegal Food Coast initiative have joined up with Irish Food Tours to offer a new concept in understanding food tourism education and are organising a Food & Tourism Insight Tour to the west coast via Sligo, Mayo & Galway. 

This tour will help Donegal food producers in the coastal regions of the county to understand the ethos behind the newly developed Failte Ireland Wild Atlantic Way. It will also benefit food producers who are not on the Wild Atlantic Way route by helping them to understand the business potentials that are possible by developing part of their food business as a tourism experience for visitors.




The Donegal County Enterprise Board are working with Zack Gallagher who is collating the tour & it's itinerary and has been developing a co-ordinated approach to Irish Food Tourism over the last year with his business partner, Wendy White Kavanagh, who co-founded Irish Food Tours.

"We have been building up our connections with food producers all over Ireland with a view to being able to facilitate Food Tours such as this," said Zack. "We work with Tour Operators, HR Departments and Educational facilities that want to offer Food Tours as part of their operations and also with government agencies, like County Enterprise Boards, that wish to develop better food tourism in their region."

The Purpose of this tour is to invite Donegal food producers to visit and meet with established producers that have already developed their business and embraced the potential of food tourism or include guided visits to their premises.

Format of the Tour:             2 Days, 1 Overnight.
Dates:                                  Tuesday 5th & Wednesday 6th, November 2013.
                                            
Departures from:                         Letterkenny & Donegal Town




If you are from County Donegal and have an interest in developing the food tourism potential of your business or becoming a producer with a food tourism offering, please contact Eve-Anne McCarron to register your interest at emccarron@donegalenterprise.ie or call 074-9160735. Tour costs per person are supported by Donegal County Enterprise Board. CLICKHERE for more Details. Limited spaces available. 

A Failte Ireland link with more information on the different ways that a food producer can be involved in food tourism can be found by clicking here.

Zack

Winners of the Irish Whiskey Awards 2013

Irish Whiskey is enjoying the strongest period of growth in popularity since the 1800′s. The number of Irish whiskey distilleries has doubled from three to six in the last few years and with several new Irish Whiskey start-ups in the pipeline, this could at least double again in the next few years.


This event was the first of the new Annual Irish Whiskey Awards

Exports are booming worldwide and there is huge investment being put into the industry. In the USA alone, 2012 saw Irish Whiskey sales grow by a whopping 22.5% making it the fastest growing spirits category in the country. The Irish Whiskey Awards were held on the Friday the 4th October, in the Old Jameson Distillery, in Dublin and I was delighted to see one of my own favourites, Redbreast from Midleton Distillery, winning the single pot still award.

These recently launched Irish Whiskey Awards intend to be a new annual event to celebrate and reward the dedication to quality and flavour that it takes to create world class whiskey. It has been organised by the Celtic Whiskey Shop, which recently won "Best Retailer Worldwide" in the World Whiskey Awards, along with members of the Irish Whiskey Society and the recently formed Celtic Whiskey Club.


First opened in June 2003, the Celtic Whiskey Shop has become a mecca for whiskey lovers.

This was the first year that the diversity and quality of the vibrant Irish Whiskey industry was nationally celebrated in Ireland. With whiskey drinkers broadening their tastes and consumers demanding more diversity and quality, new small craft distillers have embraced the opportunity to fill niche markets with small batch and high value brands.


The Irish Whiskey Awards were presented across eight categories and the winners are:

Best Blended Whiskey Under €50

Writers Tears Pot Still Blend from Writers Tears Whiskey Ltd., Co. Carlow
Runners up: Powers 12 Year Old Special Reserve, Teeling Small Batch



Best Blended Whiskey Over €50

Midleton Very Rare 2013 produced at Midleton Distillery, Co. Cork
Runners up: Jameson Gold Reserve and Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve



Best Single Pot Still Whiskey

Redbreast 15 Year Old produced at Midleton Distillery, Co. Cork



Best Irish Single Cask Whiskey

Tyrconnell 14 Year Old Cask 204/96 produced at Cooley Distillery, Co. Louth
Runners up: Midleton Cask 1044, Bottled for the Loop at Dublin Airport



Best Irish Cask Strength Whiskey

Redbreast 12 Year-Old Cask Strength produced at Midleton Distillery, Co. Cork
Runners up: Writers Tears Cask strength and Connemara Turf Mor



Best Irish Single Malt Whiskey

Bushmills 21 Year Old produced at Bushmills Distillery, Co. Antrim
Runners up: Teeling Whiskey Company 21 Year Old and Bushmills 12 Year Old Distillery Reserve.



Irish Whiskey Bar Of The Year

L. Mulligan Grocers, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7
Runners up: The Palace Bar, WJ Kavanaghs and Against the Grain 



Irish Poitin Of The Year

Teeling Whiskey Company Poitin produced at Cooley Distillery, Co. Louth
Runners up: Glendalough Sherry Cask Poitin and Cooley Single Pot Still Poitin.



Overall Irish Whiskey of the Year

Redbreast 12 Year-Old Cask Strength produced at Midleton Distillery, Co. Cork

It will be interesting to see how many Irish Whiskies from the new breed of distillers will be in the running for the awards next year. For more information on Irish Whiskey and to buy all these Whiskies Online go to The Celtic Whiskey Shop Website

Zack

What's Your favourite Irish Whiskey? Leave your comments below.

International Wild Mushroom Festival in Co Leitrim on October 12th

Mushroom experts and wild mushroom lovers from all over the world will gather to the beautiful, centuries-old, Killegar Estate in County Leitrim to exchange scientific knowledge and celebrate our natural environment over the weekend of the 12th October, 2013.


The International Mushroom Festival runs over Saturday 12th & Sunday 13th October 2013

For the third successive year, this festival involves experts from Ireland, UK, Germany, Italy, Poland and the US, who aim to advance the understanding of Ireland's ecology and biodiversity with a special emphasis on the “Kingdom of Fungi“. This year the festival welcomes "Mushroom Garden", a commercial mushroom production company based in Bangladesh who are keen to visit Ireland to study cultivation methods employed here and learn more about our wild mushrooms.

The Irish Mycologist's Society and the Northern Ireland Fungus Group, having to date identified more than 300 species, will introduce mushroom enthusiasts to an exceptionally large variety of Ireland's fungi this year as Autumn 2013 promises to produce a bumper crop.

Get to know all about wild mushrooms and foraging

Amongst other things, festival goers will learn about the most common species, both edible and poisonous. As well as guided forays the programme offers a comprehensive range of talks, natural history-related displays and exhibitions.

For younger festival goers, the OWLS - Outdoor Wildlife Learning and Survival Nature Club will provide an educational programme about the natural world.


Chef Joe Shannon will be demonstrating how to cook with wild mushrooms

Joe Shannon, Executive Head Chef of the Radisson Blu Sligo, will present cookery demonstrations showing foragers how to transform freshly gathered wild mushrooms into inspired dishes. Further delicious samplings will be available at the festival Food Fair of locally sourced produce. The fair will also showcase a variety of wood-turning, hand crafted jewellery, quilt-making and more.

All proceeds go to the 'Save Killegar Campaign', set up to preserve Killegar as one of Ireland's and Europe's last remaining heritage houses, its native woodlands and sanctuary for wildlife.

For more details see www.internationalmushroomfestival.com and check out their Facebook Page HERE

Zack

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The Irish Food Guide Blog www.IrishFoodGuide.ie 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 www.IrishFoodTours.ie

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