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New Irish Food Writing Awards Launched

 The high quality of food writing in Ireland across print, broadcast and online will now be recognised and celebrated with the launch this week of The Irish Food Writing Awards. This inaugural year will see the awards being held exclusively online with a virtual Awards Event in September. Once restrictions allow, the annual Irish Food Awards will adopt a traditional format of judging meetings and a Gala Awards Ceremony each autumn.

Food writing in Ireland is diverse and this is reflected in the award categories which will include restaurant writing, cookery writing, features and drinks writing. There will also be  awards for online content, photography, podcasts and audio, writing on sustainability in Irish food, and investigative writing.

The judging panel features well-known international names from the world of journalism and food. Already confirmed are René Redzepi of Noma in Copenhagen, writer and broadcaster Jay Rayner, investigative journalist Joanna Blythman, author and food columnist Trish Deseine, chef and author Richard Corrigan, critic Tom Parker Bowles, founder of Saveur magazine Colman Andrews and The Guardian wine writer Fiona Beckett.

Journalist and food author Suzanne Campbell

The Irish Food Writing Awards are the initiative of journalist and food author Suzanne Campbell. “I had always wanted to see an awards for food writers in Ireland as there are great journalism awards for other sectors. So I decided to take it on myself this year as something really positive both for writers and the food sector.”

“The aim is to reward excellence in food writing. It’s quite a diverse field - paid journalism is under threat but content is more popular than ever. So we wanted to highlight the best content out there; whether it be investigative journalism on Irish food systems, or cookery writing, or food photography”.

“The food community has really come behind us in an extraordinary way. Everyone we’ve asked to support the awards or to judge has just said yes immediately. It’s been incredible!” she added.

Food publicist and former restaurateur, Paul O'Connor

On board with Suzanne is Paul O’Connor, a food publicist and former restaurateur. “It’s been a really tough year for restaurants and many have had to close or adapt very quickly to survive," said Paul.  "Journalists have been so important getting that word out there and supporting chefs so much during this pandemic. Also as a former restaurateur and head judge of The Irish Curry Awards, we’ve found that awards really build community. They celebrate both food and the people behind it, so this time it is the writers that are being celebrated, I’m delighted to join up with Suzanne on this venture”

The Irish Food Writing Awards will recognise writing from throughout the island of Ireland. 

Categories for entry are: 

  • Restaurant Writing
  • Recipe Writing
  • Drinks Writing; wine, spirits and beer
  • Food Writing/Feature Article
  • Writing on Sustainability in Irish Food
  • Writing on Irish Food Producers
  • Investigative Writing
  • Writing on Specialist and Ethnic cuisines in Ireland
  • Food Magazine or Supplement
  • Cookbook of the year
  • Food photographer of the year
  • Food Broadcast or Podcast
  • Online Food Writing; this includes blogs and social media
  • Emerging food writer of the year
  • Outstanding Contribution to Irish Food Writing

 The awards are open for entries, from the beginning of April until the 31st of May at their brand new website at

Follow them on Twitter @Irish_Writing 

and on Instagram @IrishFoodWritingAwards

Make your own Home-made Haggis for Burns' Night!

In 1801, some five years after the famous Scottish poet Robert (Robbie) Burns' death, nine of his friends sat down to dinner, to celebrate his extraordinary life and to gave thanks for his friendship. Little did they know that this remembrance would resonate down through the centuries and span all across the world. Over the years, the informal theme from that evening has developed into the ritual known internationally known as Burns Night.

Presenting and Toasting the Haggis have become part of the ritual of a Burns Night event!

Here in County Donegal, with the historic association of many Donegal people with Scotland and Scottish traditions, we have long been enjoying the lightly spiced and peppery flavours of this famous dish. Haggis is traditionally eaten on Burns Night which falls on the 25th January which is the birthday of the Scottish poet. Many venues in all nine counties of Ulster, celebrate Burns Night on the weekend closest to the 25th.

Robert Burns - Celebrating the poets birthday has made the Haggis world famous!

The Haggis, which tastes a little like our Irish black and white puddings mixed together, is a very old traditional dish that combines meats, spices and oatmeal.  A traditional Scottish recipe for haggis would involve the boiled and minced liver, lungs and heart of a sheep mixed with chopped onions, toasted oatmeal, salt, pepper, and spices.

The mixture would then be stuffed into the cleaned sheep’s stomach, sewn up and then boiled gently for several hours! The dish is usually served with neeps (mashed buttered turnip) and tatties (mashed potatoes), a whiskey sauce, a few readings of some poetry, along with copious amounts of whiskey to toast the Haggis!

A Traditional Haggis with Neeps (Turnips) and Tatties (Potatoes) & a Wee Dram of Whiskey!

Creating a Burns Night event at your home or restaurant is a splendid reason to go out to eat and drink with friends in January! Although the traditional date is the 25th January, most restaurants and hotels celebrate a Burns Night event on the Friday or Saturday closest to that date.

That's me assisting with "Presenting the Haggis" a Burn's Supper event
hosted by members of the local Ulster-Scots community. 

Here is my version of an old Haggis Recipe, where instead of a sheep’s stomach you cook the Haggis in a casserole dish.

My Ingredients:
500g minced lamb
500g minced beef
125g suet (beef or vegetable)
500g beef liver
100g of porridge oats
300ml of  meat stock (strain this from your boiled beef and lamb - see method)
250g finely chopped onions
½ tsp grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground mace
½ tsp of cayenne pepper
¼ tsp ground coriander
butter for greasing
a few twists of sea salt
a few twists of ground black pepper

My Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
2. Cover the roughly-cut liver with cold water, bring to a boil and cook for five minutes. Strain and dump away this liquid and then chop the cooked liver with the onion, in a blender or on a board.
3. Cover the lamb & beef mince with water and bring to the boil in a large pot. Cook out for approximately 30 minutes. Keep 300ml stock from this cooked meat and pour away the rest.
4. Give the porridge oats a rough chop and toast them on a hot pan, shaking occasionally to make sure they don't burn.
5. Now mix all the ingredients together with the meat stock and transfer this mix to a well buttered casserole dish. Cover and seal with a layer of tin-foil.
6. Cook in the oven at 160°C for about 2 hours.
7. Meanwhile cook and mash some Turnips with real butter, white pepper and a drizzle of honey. Cook and mash some potatoes with real butter and white pepper.

Invite your friends around and make your own home-made Haggis for a Burns' Night Supper!

For the Whiskey sauce:
500ml cream
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 shot of whiskey
sea salt
ground white pepper
3 tbls chopped scallions

To make the whiskey sauce, heat the cream in a pan over a medium heat. Add the wholegrain mustard, Dijon mustard, scallions and whiskey and stir with a small whisk. Increase the heat until the mixture is simmering and cook for 1-2 minutes until it reduces and thickens up a little. Remove the pan from the heat and season with salt and ground white pepper.

To serve:
Spoon out the Haggis, accompanied with mashed turnips and potatoes and drizzle with the whiskey sauce. I like to stack the Haggis, using a serving ring (see pic above) for presentation and then drizzle the sauce around it!

Donegal Burns Suppers
One of the longest established and most famous Burns' Night events held in the republic of Ireland has been the Annual Burns' Supper & Ceilidh hosted by Deirdre McGlone and Family, previously owners of Harvey's Point Hotel, in County Donegal. Why not make your own Haggis this year and have a Burns Supper of your own with the family!


Black Pudding and Apple Mince Pies

A week or so ago while having a mince pie with a cup of tea, I wondered what Mince Pies made with Black Pudding and Apple would taste like. The two flavours go well together and should marinate nicely with the other fruits in the pie mix.

I finally got around to making them and guess what? They really are delicious! So here is the recipe I developed for my Black Pudding and Apple Mince Pies. Go on, Give them a go...

I used 7cm wide top x 6 Muffin Tins, as you can see in the picture below, to make these pie. You can use whatever tins you have and adjust the size of the cutter accordingly.

Note: The filling is made the day before you are making your pies.

Filling Ingredients 
Makes 1kg filling (enough for 24 pies)

225g Eating apples, cored and diced small (no need to peel them)

150g Black Pudding, diced small the same size as the apples

2 tspn ground mixed spice

½ tspn ground cinnamon

35ml whiskey

115g shredded suet

375g dried mixed fruit

175g soft dark brown sugar

grated zest and juice 1 orange

grated zest and juice 1 lemon


1. Combine all the filling ingredients in a mixing bowl, stirring them together well. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge overnight to let the flavours amalgamate.

Sweet Pastry Ingredients 
Makes approx. 24

450g plain flour

300g cold butter, diced

50g icing sugar

2 medium eggs


1. In a mixing bowl, crumble the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the icing sugar and mix in together well.

2. Whisk the eggs in a cup and pour it in to the flour mix. Stir gently together and then using your hand pull the pastry together until it leaves the sides of the bowl clean.

3. Wrap the pastry in cling film and pop it into the fridge for 30 minutes.

To make the Black Pudding and Apple Mince Pies 

Pre-heat your fan oven to 200ºC

 1. Grease the tins with a little butter.

2. Cut the pastry in half if you need to because of rolling space, lightly dust the table with flour and roll it out as thinly as possible.

3. Using a 9cm cutter cut out your larger rounds and line the pie tins.

4. Gather up the pastry and gently bring it back together on dusted flour. Roll it out again and cut out the tops with a 7cm cutter.

5. Fill your pies with the cold filling up to the level of the top of the pastry.

6. Lightly dampen the rim of the pies with a little beaten egg and put the lids on, pressing gently around the edge to seal. Brush the top of each pie with a little beaten egg.

7. Make a little snip on top of each one with a pair of scissors to let the steam out.

8. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove to a wire tray and sprinkle with icing sugar.

Now, don't be thinking that these are just a gimmick for Christmas - these Black Pudding and Apple Mince Pies are actually delicious! Even the kids loved them and they didn't last very long, so I'm off now to make another batch! Enjoy!


Wildwood Vinegars launches New Limited Edition Four Seasons of Wildwood Gift Box

Competition is Now Closed - Winner is Eleanor Mathews.
(But you can still read on to find out where to purchase some...)

Fionntán Gogarty, of multi award winning Wildwood Vinegars, has just announced the release of a brand new Limited Edition Gift Box. And you can WIN one of them, right here!

The Limited Edition Four Seasons of Wildwood Collection

The beautifully presented Balsamic Vinegars Gift Box is called The Four Seasons of Wildwood Collection and each Balsamic vinegar is flavoured with Fionntán's own foraged ingredients from the four seasons - Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. 

The Four Seasons of Wildwood Collection is only available to purchase online through Husseys Farm Shop (click here) Priced at €85 each with Free Delivery in the greater Dublin area and a €10 Delivery Charge outside Dublin. 

The collection is Limited to only 365 sets, each unique box also being hand-numbered by Fionntán. 

The gift set contains 4 Bottles of his internationally celebrated Balsamic Vinegars (none of which have yet been released to retail shops) including previously unreleased flavours and two unique 6-year-old Barrel Aged vinegars. 

Take a look at this super Gift Idea for yourself or someone special!

The four flavoured Balsamic Vinegars in the gift set are:

Wild Elderflower & Wild Rose Petal

Wild Mountain Thyme & Fuchsia Blossom

Oak Barrel Aged 6 Year Old Wild Blackberry 

Oak Barrel Aged 6 Year Old Wild Elderberry & Star Anise 

The presentation box is filled with the dried foraged fruits, herbs, nuts and seeds that are used to create Wildwood Vinegars unique and much-loved flavours! Also included is a packet of dried Bee & Butterfly Seeds that you can sprinkle around your own garden or window box to create your own mini wild flower garden.

WIN a Limited Edition Four Seasons of Wildwood Gift Box!

Fionntán has kindly given me one of these beautiful Gift Sets to offer as a Competition Prize to one very lucky winner!

All you have to do to Enter is SHARE THIS POST to your social media with a comment and the hashtag #WinFourSeasonsOfWildwood

You must use this hashtag to be entered into the competition. 

The Winner will be picked from across all social media channels and will be announced on Monday 30th November 2020.

And don't forget, The Four Seasons of Wildwood Collection is limited to only 365 sets is only available to purchase online through Husseys Farm Shop (click here) Priced at €85 each with Free Delivery in the greater Dublin area and a €10 Delivery Charge outside Dublin.

Get yours now and good luck!


New Seafood Suppers at Home by Niall Sabongi and Chef Mickael Viljanen

This is the food delivery service that seafood lovers have been waiting for! Seafood Suppers at Home by Niall Sabongi and Chef Mickael Viljanen. A new collaboration brings the best of seafood and shellfish to your door, ready to enjoy. 

Niall Sabongi, of Sustainable Seafood Ireland & Klaw Restaurants, has called in his friend and two Michelin star winning chef, Mickael Viljanen. Together they have devised a weekly menu of delicious dishes that they love, delivered to your door, nationwide.  All the ingredients are prepped and ready to use. Follow the simple instructions to cook and assemble, and dinner is on the table in no time.

Order your Seafood Supper at Home here:

Making the most of Sabongi’s passion for seafood and unrivalled access to the best of the sea’s bounty , and Chef Viljanen’s culinary creativity, this limited time collaboration is not to be missed.

Each meal will feed to 2 to 4 people, including a dessert to share!  There will be 2 options: 

  • The Midweek offering, priced at €35 
  • The Weekend offering, priced at  €69

Seafood Suppers at Home BOUILLABAISSE

This Friday (6th November), the first dish is a Deluxe Fish Pie, with truffled lobster, turbot and sole, with vin jaune potato (Dublin only trial).

Order your Seafood Supper at Home here:

The midweek dish the following week is a Monkfish and Crab Curry followed at the weekend by a classic  ‘Bouillabaisse Marseillaise’ with braised fennel, saffron potatoes, rouille, croutes and gruyere. There will also be the option to add starters, desserts, sides, wines etc. The food is quick and easy to heat, plate and serve.

Seafood Suppers at Home MONKFISH CURRY

Order by Tuesday for the Wednesday mid-week meal, and by Wednesday for the Weekend option, delivered Friday. (Nationwide delivery orders from this Sunday 8th November for the following week)

Order your Seafood Supper at Home here:

“This is an exciting way to showcase how delicious and versatile our seafood and shellfish can be. Since March we’ve opened new fish stalls and taken our Salty Buoy Truck on the road. We’ve met so many new customers and this is a great way to encourage more people to embrace our wonderful seafood and shellfish. This is all about two good friends, cooking up all their favourite seafood dishes that they love and miss,” said Niall. 

Seafood Suppers at Home SEAFOOD PIE

Catch up too on The Salty Buoy Food Truck and Sustainable Seafood Ireland

Niall Sabongi’s food truck, The Salty Buoy, is based at The Red Stables Farmers Market in Clontarf on Saturdays from 11am to 4pm and at Herbert Park Farmers Market on Sundays from 11am – 4pm. When lockdown ends, they are hoping to return to their week day home of Roe & Co Distillery, where you can enjoy their beautiful seafood dishes alongside some gorgeous whiskey cocktails. They have begun to take booking for Christmas outdoor corporate lunches during December, a Covid conscious alternative to traditional corporate Christmas lunches . 

Follow @SaltyBuoyTruck on Instagram and Twitter for updates on locations.

Fresh Fish and Seafood is also available for delivery nationwide via the website offering a wide range of white, flat, prime and oily fish, as well as shellfish and smoked fish.  Currently SSI are focusing on only selling 99% Irish seafood.

Each Saturday from 11am to 2pm there is an open door Fish Market at SSI HQ at Willsborough Industrial Estate in Clonshaugh, Dublin 17.

In addition, they run Fish Markets across Dublin at the following locations :

Fridays & Saturdays    9:30 - 2pm         Airfield Estate Farmers Market, Dublin 17

Friday                             10.30am-3pm     The Fumbally Stables, Dublin 8 

Saturday                          10am – 4pm       The Red Stables Farmers Market, St. Anne’s Park, Clontarf

Sunday                             10am – 4pm      Herbert Park Farmers Market, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4 

Keep up to date with the two lads on Social Media:

Instagram: @NiallSabongi  and @mickaelviljanenchef 

Twitter:      @NiallSabongi and @Stove28  

Order your Seafood Supper at Home here: 

Éan Bakery, Restaurant and Wine Bar Takes Flight in Galway

Enda McEvoy and Sinead Meacle, the husband and wife team behind Galway’s sustainable Michelin-starred restaurant, Loam, have just opened Éan (meaning 'Bird' in Irish), an innovative new 56-seater bakery, restaurant & wine bar - on Druid Lane in Galway, which occupies the same building as the city’s prestigious Druid Theatre Company.

Due to current Level 5 restrictions, and in the interests of public safety, Éan will initially open for takeaway only with shortened opening hours and a limited menu of artisan bakes and sandwiches. Once restrictions are lifted and it’s safe for diners to sit in the restaurant, the full menu offering at Éan will consist of an array of artisan bakes and pastries created daily by Pastry Chef Lauren Goudeket, of Loam, served alongside seasonally-inspired breakfast available until 11am, lunch and wine bar dinner dishes by Head Chef, Christine Walsh, formerly Sous Chef at Loam, who will produce many of the pickles, ferments and charcuterie that feature on the menu in-house.

Christine Walsh, Head Chef at Éan, in Druid Lane, Galway

Head Chef Christine Walsh said: “I can't think of any other way for me to work with food other than with the seasons and to utilise each product as much as possible in the most sustainable way I can. This will be very evident in Éan’s menus. I just want to make delicious food. Éan is going to be somewhere you can go and either grab some good breads, pastries and coffee, or come a little later in the evening and chill out enjoying nice wines, listen to good music and eat tasty plates of food. Sure, what else would you want?”

Delicious daily baked breads and pastries will include the likes of Pain Au Chocolate, Kouigan Amann, Sourdough Croissants, Sausage Rolls, Cardamom Buns, Morning Buns, Fruit & Savoury Scones, and Seasonal Cakes of the day. There will also be a take away offering of pastries, bakes and naturally leavened sourdough breads.

For breakfast diners can expect to choose from Pain Perdu, caramel, whiskey dates + creme fraîche, Coddled eggs, nduja, romesco + greens, and Crab cake, white miso, watercress + chive, among other dishes.

Chilli miso cauliflower Sambo with black garlic aioli, kimchi & organic leaves

The lunch menu will morph into a wine bar offering (available from 5pm) of small and sharing plates of in-house pickles & charcuterie and grilled vegetables from Leaf & Root Farm in Loughrea, with additional dishes including the likes of Duck liver, gooseberry + toast, Venison tartare, beetroot, shallot + rye, and Potato dumpling, pumpkin, corn + chanterelles, to name but a few. Desserts will include Bostok (brioche brushed with syrup, topped with frangipane and baked in the oven), Apple & Salty Fudge, Lemon Verbena, Blackcurrants & Hyssop. There will also be a daily Cheese Selection.

The drinks menu will offer specialty coffees made using seasonally sourced beans from Barna-based roasters, Calendar Coffee, alongside homemade kombuchas and fresh fruit & vegetable juices. The wine list is made up of organic, biodynamic and natural varieties sourced from small winemakers which has been carefully curated by Loam’s passionate Sommelier, Niall Flynn. Also available will be an ever-changing spirits list and a selection of craft beers.

Check out Éan on social media here: On Twitter, Facebook and Instagram 


WIN a Shines Seafood Gift Box worth €25!

After decades living and working in Ireland’s largest fishing port, it’s no surprise that it was the Shine family who discovered the potential of Irish line-caught Albacore Tuna. Albacore tuna is more moist and delicate than other species of tuna and contains significantly more Omega-3 fats, which normalise and regulate cholesterol.

It was their love for this uncommonly sold fish that led to the setting up of Shines Seafood, the first to source the fish and sell it in Ireland. The family’s background has always been in fish. 

Ciara Shine’s father, John, worked as a fisherman for 20 years and her mother, Marianne, worked as a fish buyer and in a fish factory. They also ran a fish and chip shop, which Ciara started helping out in from when she was young. Ciara, John and Marianne now run Shines Seafood together.

They recently brought out a new Seafood Gift Box with a selection of 6 different seafood selections and the box is fast becoming one of their biggest selling online sales products. "People are buying them online from our shop for friends and work colleagues" said John. "If the purchase is a gift to be sent to someone other than the buyer, we remove any pricing information on the delivery docket for the client".

The Gift Box contains a selection of six products from our range including Albacore Tuna, Sardines in Tomato Sauce, Yellowfin Tuna,  Sardines in Olive Oil, Tuna Ventresca (the delicate Tuna Belly) and Sardines in Sunflower Oil. The Gift Box can be purchased (priced €25.00) online here at


I have some Gift Packs to Giveaway to 2 Lucky Winners in a simple Competition!

All you have to do is Like Shines Seafood on Facebook here 

Or Follow Shines Seafood on Twitter


And send them this message      I'd Love to Win a Shines Seafood Giftbox 
(you can simply copy and paste that!!)

The Winner will be announce on Saturday 7th November.

Good Luck!


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