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The "Just Ask" Restaurant for the Month of June is Good Things café in Skibbereen

The Bordbia Just Ask restaurant of the month for June goes to Good Things café at Dillon’s Corner, Skibbereen, Co. Cork.


Carmel Somers, Owner & Chef at The Good Things Café, Skibbereen, Cork
Good Things is the creation of chef, boss and mother extraordinaire, Carmel Somers, a passionate chef who cooks simple, fresh and tasty food.


“Good ingredients make good food", says owner Carmel Somers, owner & chef at Good Things café. "Therefore, at Good Things we make a priority of locally sourcing the best ingredients possible. In essence, whatever we cook, we like to ensure it’s something we would like to eat. Not only do our customers eat our food but also our staff, our family and our friends, therefore, we do our utmost to provide truly good food".


Their fresh meat is supplied by local butcher, William Walsh and Dave Louks of Sheehymore Free Range Farm supplies their chicken and eggs.


Fish and seafood are sourced from The Fish Station in Skibbereen and Ted Browne of De Brun Iasc Teo in Dingle. Additional suppliers include Sally Barnes of Woodcock Smokery for her smoked fish and the Ferguson family of Gubbeen Farmhouse for their Gubbeen cheeses and cured meats.


The Kingstons of Glenilen Farm are the suppliers for all their country butter, creme fraiche, clotted cream and yoghurts. Local fruit & vegetable suppliers include Steve and Aly of Grá Farm, Radical Roots of Bandon, grower Phil Walsh, Gubbeen Greens from Gubbeen House Gardens and Tim York of Lisheen Organics in Skibbereen.



Carmel also runs a successful Cookery School which continues with their tradition of cooking honest tasty good things to eat. For more details visit their website at www.thegoodthingscafe.com or call +353 (0)28 51948. (pics @GoodThingsCafe )

Bord Bia’s Just Ask initiative was established in 2009 to recognise restaurants across the country that demonstrate best practice both in sourcing local produce, and profiling suppliers on their menus. Listing the local farmers and businesses involved with bringing a menu together can enhance the experience for diners and promotes better engagement with the farm to fork journey.


To date, there have been over 65 winners, selected by food writer Georgina Campbell in collaboration with Bord Bia. Each month, a Restaurant of the Month is selected for an eatery that exemplifies the principles of the campaign. A leading restaurant is chosen for the annual Restaurant of the Year award and Good Things cafe actually won the Restaurant of the Year 2017 at an award ceremony last September.

Zack.

A Very Fast Soda Bread Pizza!

Summer time, gardens, children, friends, Barbeques & Pizza are some the main ingredients for a great day with the family! 

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 10 minutes!

This is based on a traditional Irish white Soda Scone Bread with a wee twist and it works perfectly every time.


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 fairly cheap, in any hardware or discount shop.

My Method:
Heat your oven to 180ºC.
  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 in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove, turn them over and leave aside in the trays.
For the topping
1x jar of Tomato Bolognaise 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

My Method:
Spread the sauce on the half-baked pizza base. Place your sliced meats, vegetables & herbs on top and finish with the grated mozzarella and cheddar cheese. Pop into the oven for another 6-8 minutes 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!

Zack

The Deadline for Foodie Destinations 2017 Applications is July 13th

The deadline is approaching for entries to the  Foodie Destinations 2017 organised by the Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI). This competition celebrates the best of  Ireland’s unique and wonderful food offerings and encourages local food tourism initiatives across the country. 



If your town, village, suburb or region believes you have a unique food tourism offering and would like to apply, head over to www.foodiedestinations.ie where you'll find the entry criteria and the application form. 

The Foodie Destinations 2017 winner will be a destination that actively promotes itself through joint promotional activities such as food festivals, gourmet trails or farmers’ markets as well as great dining experiences for locals and visitors alike. They will have established a local producer/supplier network which is utilised and promoted by local businesses. 

Plans for future growth and investment into the food and hospitality industry at a local level will also be taken into consideration by Foodie Destinations judges. Education, training, development and employment will be key components of the ultimate food Foodie Destination and collaboration is of utmost importance - they want to see communities working towards a common foodie goal.

This year the RAI welcome FBD Insurance as their official sponsor. John Reade, Head of Business Insurance at FBD Insurance has this to say: “For 50 years FBD Insurance has been proud to support local community initiatives and as Ireland's only indigenous Insurer we are delighted to see so many communities developing their own food culture offerings and contributing to the wonderfully diverse food culture in Ireland.”


The Boyne Valley was the winner of the 2016 Foodie Destination competition and it had successfully pitched itself as a region "synonymous with heritage and lush green landscape" with a concentrated effort on the marketing and growth of their fabulous artisan producers from Ireland’s only garlic farm, heritage potatoes, blue goats cheese to rapeseed oils.

The deadline for 2017 applications is 12 noon, Thursday 13th of July.

All final applications must be submitted online here at : https://goo.gl/forms/HdLGs4h69RB9WQla2

Follow the competition on Twitter @FoodieDest and hashtag #FoodieDestinations and check out the dedicated website  www.foodiedestinations.ie

For all queries contact Emma at the RAI on +353 (1) 677 9901 or media@rai.ie

Zack.

Restaurant Association calls for immediate action on Chef Shortage crisis

The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) has again made calls for emergency measures to be implemented to solve the crisis shortage of chefs in Ireland. The RAI are again reiterating the need for the re-establishment of CERT, the former State Tourism Training Agency. 


Chief Executive of the RAI, Adrian Cummins commented, “Some restaurants across the country are being forced to close on Mondays and Tuesdays due to the shortage of chefs. It is interesting to note that the other large industries in Ireland such as agriculture and fishing have dedicated training centres around the country.”
The RAI says that there is still a crisis in the shortage of chefs in the country, and an investment in training is needed urgently. The organisation is calling on the Minister for Education Richard Bruton T.D. to re-establish CERT with immediate effect. Mr. Cummins continued “The hospitality and tourism industry is one of our most valuable assets. It is ludicrous that there are no training colleges for our industry in this country.”


Mr. Cummins commented on the new proposals, “The chef shortage in this country is an ongoing problem. The new apprenticeship proposals are a stepping stone in tackling the crisis but the re-establishment of CERT is the only solution.” The RAI state that the main skills shortages are among suitably qualified chefs. Shortages of commis chefs feed into shortages at higher and specialist levels. Among the applicants submitted for chef positions, many are deemed not to be appropriately qualified. This reflects the fact that there is not enough chef training centres. Currently 1800 chefs qualify each year from certified culinary training programmes. There remains an immediate deficit of 5000 chef trainees annually.


The RAI recommends investment in management and the establishment of 10 new chef training centres nationally. CERT, the State Tourism Training Agency, was established in 1963. CERT was responsible for providing a trained workforce for the hotel, catering and tourism industry. It offered training courses for those wishing to pursue a career in this field and for employees in the industry who wanted to develop new skills. It was abolished in May 2003. Speaking about CERT, Mr Cummins said “CERT was fit for purpose and serviced the industry with skilled labour, it was held in very high esteem during its operational years.”


Irish workers account for 69% of employees in the Hospitality sector. This highlights the importance of the industry. Mr. Cummins continued, “We want to be able to market Ireland as a centre of food excellence, a true culinary experience with world-class chefs leading the way. Instead, we are finding ourselves in a position where we have a severe shortage of chefs in Ireland which is now threatening the success of the tourism industry’s recovery.”

You can contact the Restaurants Association of Ireland by Telephone on : +353 1 6779901

You know, it is actually OK to eat Sliced Bread!

I've been a professional chef for over thirty years and being a chef means that you have the opportunities to cook and eat some amazing food! I will eat anything (except prawns, crab and lobster, which I suddenly became allergic to, six years ago, after a lifetime of eating them without any problem). I still cook them by smell and memory, but I miss eating crab claws - terribly!

We have two kids and they certainly don't eat everything that I'd like them to. They're very typical to most children, when it comes to food and they can be cautious to trying new things. I know that will change when they're a little older, and that's ok! 

I started my first job at aged 13, in a local bakery and restaurant here in Donegal Town, working after school and summer holidays and I worked there for five years. It was this experience that helped form the basis for my wanting to become a chef. 

There's been a lot of debate recently about which type of bread, if any, is best for you and I now just want throw my two cents worth of opinion into this pot! 

I believe that (like any other food) it's not really about what you eat, its more about how much of it you eat! Bread is a good source of carbohydrate for growth, as well as vitamins and is generally low in fat and sugar. 

When it comes to bread and sandwiches in our house, we eat wholemeal brown, white or treacle soda bread, Indian meal (maize) bread, pancakes, sourdough and sliced white bread. We bake our own bread, mostly white soda bread or wholemeal brown bread, regularly. 


Most of the time our kids will go for wholemeal soda bread or sliced pan white bread. They will eat the sliced pan either plain, as a sandwich, toasted, or dipped in egg and fried as french toast. They spread it with butter, honey, marmalade, chocolate spread, peanut butter or strawberry jam - and sometimes a combination of several of these! 

And although I personally prefer the taste and the texture of a sourdough bread, there is nothing wrong with a white sliced pan although it does get some pretty bad press. Most of the negative argument against it is because the sliced pan is made in mass production units, from refined flour with the addition of enzymes, stabilisers and preservatives which extend its shelf life. The flour is normally re-fortified with B vitamins (thiamine and niacin) and minerals (iron and calcium), which are necessary for growing children.



Unfortified flours like T55, that are preferred for making slow fermented breads, also have enzymes (alpha and beta amylases) added, to help the natural lactobacilli bacteria break the starches in the flour down into more easily fermentable sugars for the yeasts to feed on, which creates carbon dioxide, which gives the bread it's rise. It's actually these increased levels of reducing sugars that lead to the formation in the baking process of products similar to maillard reactions (a bit like like caramelisation or the searing of a steak) which intensify the bread's flavour and crust colour, making sourdough for example, taste so good.

The quality of white sliced bread certainly does vary but at the end of the day, a white sliced pan isn’t trying to pretend that its anything other than what it is - a simple, cheap, sliced white bread.

My point is that there’s room for all kinds of bread. Not everyone wants to (or can) bake, not everyone has time to bake, not everyone has access to a local small bakery and not everyone likes sourdough, but people are free to make their own choices. 

Put simply, it is actually okay to eat ordinary sliced bread!

And that's simply my opinion. 
Zack

Closing Date for Entries for the Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards 2017 is June 14th

Entries are about to close for the 2017 Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards.

Image result for blas na heireann 2017

The Blás na hÉireann Awards (which are now in their 10th year) take place alongside the Dingle Food Festival, in late September each year.

Last year there were more than 2500 entries in what are the largest blind-tasted Food Awards on the island of Ireland.


The 2016 Supreme Champion was the delicious Rós Rhubarb Cider from Stonewell Cider, Cork.

“Every product that carries a Finalist, Gold, Silver or Bronze sticker is picked up from a store shelf much more quickly than those without it,” said Artie Clifford, the Blás na hÉireann Awards Chairperson.

Artie Clifford, Chairperson and Founder of the Blas na hÉireann Irish Food Awards

“Our research has shown that the Blás accreditation has the highest recognition among Irish consumers. Putting the Blás na hÉireann Award logo on your food packaging has made a significant difference to the businesses that have received a Blás Award," added Artie.

The closing date for the Blás na hÉireann Irish Food Awards 2017 entries is June 14th.

To enter your amazing Irish Food product go to www.IrishFoodAwards.com Today!

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

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