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Sligo to get a Michelin Star Restaurant (for a Day)

There is something for everybody at this years’ Food Festival in Sligo. It starts on Wednesday 11th June and continues until Sunday 15th June with things happening all over the county! In Sligo town, the Só Sligo Food Trail has over 30 tapas sized house specialities available for €5 each!

Urban Foraging to Seaweed Walks, Fermentation and Cheese Making workshops as well as many demonstrations and talks by local and celebrity chefs and experts including Rachel Allen, Jp McMahon, Prannie Rhatigan, Silke Croppe and many more!

Galway chef JP McMahon will be bringing a pop up version of his Michelin Star winning ANIAR Restaurant to The Model in Sligo on the Friday night of the food festival!

For one night only, Sligo diners will be able to experience the exceptional cuisine of the award winning Galway based Aniar Restaurant. Só Sligo has invited chef and co-founder of Aniar, JP McMahon, to run a pop up restaurant at The Model on Yeat’s Day, Friday June 13th.

Described as a terroir based restaurant – a word which is usually associated with wine-making – the combination of factors, including soil, climate, and environment, that gives a wine its distinctive character. In the case of Aniar, terroir is used to describe the way in which the food comes from the specific place that is the west of Ireland, revealing the distinct and various food stuffs that dictate Aniar’s ever-changing and evolving menu.

A Lamb Dish from Aniar

Owned and operated by JP McMahon and Drigín Gaffey; the team who brought Cava Spanish Restaurant and Tapas Bar and EAT Gastro pub to Galway, Aniar is the only Michelin Star restaurant in the West of Ireland.

Beef Flank Dish from Aniar

At the 2012 Good Food Ireland Award ceremony in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, Aniar was awarded the Supreme Award for “the business that most strongly reflects the Good Food Ireland experience”. Aniar was also awarded Best Regional Newcomer and Overall Newcomer of the Year for their commitment to showcases Irish produce and upholding the philosophy of Good Food Ireland.

Don’t miss this opportunity to dine Aniar style. Tickets are limited so early booking is highly recommended and tickets can be booked by CLICKING HERE

For further info on the SoSligo Food Festival see or contact


Winners of the Euro-Toques Ireland Food Awards 2014

The very best of Irish produce has today been recognised and celebrated at the EirGrid Euro-Toques Food Awards 2014 at the Residence Club on Stephen’s Green in Dublin at a reception hosted by Ear to The Ground presenter, Ella McSweeney.

With Irish cuisine currently enjoying excellent international recognition, five food producers were recognised at the 18th annual awards for their outstanding produce and methods and were presented with a coveted Euro-Toques Award.

Euro-toqueswas established in Brussels in 1986 by the top chefs in the Europe with the aim of forming a network of chefs committed to quality local food sourcing and to be a voice for the industry to protect Europe’s traditional foods and culinary heritage. Ireland's Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe House was one of the founding members and went on to found Euro-toques Ireland the same year.

The Euro-toques Food Awards have been in existence since 1996. Their purpose is for Euro-toques chefs to identify the very best food being produced in Ireland for the benefit of fellow chefs and consumers, and above all the producers themselves, who are often very small operators. In doing this they seek to highlight foods and production methods that may be in danger of being lost and to promote people who were producing food of the very highest quality and, above all, the best taste. 

Producers are nominated by Euro-Toques member chefs who use their produce on their menu. The Euro-toques Food Council made up of 8 chefs from across Ireland carry out tastings, investigations and visits before choosing 5 winners each year. The awards have been sponsored by EirGrid since 2010.

The prestigious awards honour enterprise, innovation and the preservation of traditional methods behind the fine produce that is celebrated and enjoyed by top restaurants in Ireland and abroad.

The Euro-Toques Ireland Food Council, together with the Euro-Toques Commissioner General Wade Murphy chef/proprietor of acclaimed 1826 Adare restaurant in Adare, Co. Limerick, selected the winners following a nationwide process that involved Ireland’s 160 Euro-Toques chefs nominating producers. Central to the selection criteria was taste, production methods, preservation of traditional methods and provenance.

At the Awards ceremony Wade said: “All five winners are true champions of Irish produce and deserved recipients of these coveted awards. The exceptional standard of nominations considered by the panel demonstrates the passion and expertise within the industry that makes Irish produce famous around the world.”

All of these winners have been innovative in preserving traditional techniques and bringing their products to market, ensuring that quality traditional farming and produce does not just survive, but it thrives.”

Euro-Toques Commissioner General, Irish Chef Wade Murphy

"What is special about all of today’s award recipients is that they channelled their passion for traditional produce into thriving artisan, and above all, local businesses. Ireland is a nation of great producers and great food and the survival of the traditional techniques and skills, handed down from generation to generation are very much alive with these award winners, albeit with an innovative twist."

The common underlying theme for this year award recipients is the rural nature of their produce, the care and attention towards our precious heritage and an in-depth knowledge of the raw materials, resulting in these five products which are rare gems in the Irish culinary scene.

The five recipients of Euro-toques Food Awards 2014 are:

Toby Simmonds and Johnny Lynch Toonsbridge Dairy
Toby Simmonds and Johnny Lynch from Toonsbridge Dairy have been making celebrated Mozzarella at their dairy farm in Macroom, County Cork since 2011, using traditional techniques learned in Italy to make delicious mozzarella from their herd of specialty Prince of Lombardia Buffalo. Twitter @ToonsBridgeCafe

Ed Hick of J. Hick & Sons, Dun Laoghaire

Ed Hick of J Hick & Sons is renowned for his curing and smoking techniques. He is a champion of innovation and tradition, particularly in his production of his much vaulted cured and smoked Irish wild venison, which is celebrated at restaurants throughout Ireland. His shop is situated in Dun Laoghaire and they attend Temple Bar Food Market every Saturday. Twitter @edhick

Lucy Deegan and Mark Cribben of Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms

With a background in food science Lucy Deegan and Mark Cribben of Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms are celebrated growers of specialty mushrooms popular for their taste and texture and famed for their scientific methods to produce a unique natural microclimate in Ballyhoura, County Cork to deliver their award-winning Shitake and Marinated Oyster mushrooms bursting with flavour and texture. Twitter @irishshiitake

Marjorie and Kieran O’Malley of Achill Island Sea Salt
New on the scene, Marjorie and Kieran O’Malley of Achill Island Sea Salt, have been producing the finest hand-harvested sea salt since 2013 at Achill Island Sea Salt. Their passion to deliver a pure, natural, product that celebrates traditional techniques, coupled with the famed texture, flavour and appearance quality of their artisan sea salt has proven a hit with consumers and critics alike. Twitter @achillseasalt

Mick Healy of Wild Irish Game Ltd.

Mick Healy of Wild Irish Game Ltd in County Wicklow is Ireland’s only Department of Agriculture approved processor of wild game including pheasant, venison, rabbit, quail, guinea foul, grouse, pigeon and duck and his customer list reads like a guide to Ireland’s top restaurants. Twitter @WildIrishGame

All of today’s award recipients have chosen the path of directly marketing their produce, which has ensured the viability of their businesses and has given them a vital direct link to the restaurant kitchens! Euro-Toques chefs cherish the direct link with the producers and their kitchen door is always open to those who constantly inspire their menu. 

Irish food producers with this calibre of dedication to their craft are vitally important as they encourage others to also concentrate on top quality. Thus begins a new Irish Food Legacy. Congratulations to them all!


Donegal Rapeseed Oil re-brands with Neven Maguire and casts an eye to International Markets

Established in 2009, Donegal Rapeseed Oil uses seed grown on small farms throughout Donegal, Derry and Tyrone. The seed is cold pressed, filtered, bottled and labelled at a pressing facility near Castlederg, Co. Tyrone - making it a truly local product. Donegal Rapeseed Oil is cementing its success and continuing to develop the business with a total re-brand.

With sales of Donegal Rapeseed Oil increasing substantially year by year, the company’s Managing Director, Austin Duignan decided that now was the time to take stock and develop a clear brand and image that merits the award winning high quality product, which would sell not only in Ireland, but looking to the future, further afield.

"We have had to work hard over the past number of years to educate the consumer on the incredible benefits of using local Rapeseed Oil over the more established options such as imported Olive Oil" said Austin. "We are now getting to the stage where many people, having realised the fantastic health benefits, and sampled the great taste are making the switch."

"As with any product however, there are variants in both quality and taste within the Rapeseed Oil market itself, and as Donegal Rapeseed Oil is an award winning premium quality oil with a unique taste as a result of the quality of the Donegal soil, we want to ensure that our product visual and branding is distinctive and reflects the quality and flavour of the product, as well as the beautiful part of the country from which it takes its name" Austin added. "We have accumulated a loyal following, and a reputation for excellence and amazing taste, therefore we want to make it as easy as possible for our current and future customers to find us on the shop shelf”. 

Donegal Rapeseed Oil has the lowest saturated fat content of any other oil on the market. It only has 6% saturated fat content compared to most olive oils at 14% and sunflower oil at 10%. It is high in omega 3, 6, and 9, all believed to have a profoundly positive effect on heart health, reduction of strokes, and rheumatoid arthritis. The oil is also a rich source of vitamin E, and can help lower cholesterol.

Indeed the product has gained a reputation as being the oil of choice with an ever growing number of consumers and it is now stored in over 300 stores nationwide including Supervalu and local grocers. It has also gained the seal of approval from some of Ireland’s most revered chefs including award winning celebrity chef Neven Maguire who has used the product for a number of years;

“I don’t cook with anything else, it has a fantastic nutty taste and it’s great for salads and marinades,” Neven said recently “When you cook with it, it doesn’t smoke like vegetable or other oils, it gives a great even heat. It really is a fantastic local product, and I’d highly recommend it to everyone.”

The company have also recently extended their product line with flavoured Donegal Rapeseed Oil in Lemon, Chilli and Garlic and the premium gold range oils in Curry, Fennel and Porcini Mushroom flavours. 

With the new look Donegal Rapeseed Oil on the shelves, Austin Duignan, his team and his marketing manager Thomas Hughes, have ambitions to expand and extend the customer base and grow the business further. “Until recently our focus has been solely concentrated on the Irish market, north and south - there is still room for continued growth in the home market, as more and more people are finding out about Rapeseed Oil, however, we have started to look at the prospect of entering new markets."

They have attended food expos in the UK, are taking part in programmes working towards launching the product in Germany market and they have received great interest from the US and Canada. 

The future prospects for this small food company from the northwest of Ireland is exciting and the new branding will ensure Donegal Rapeseed Oil will shine out from any store or supermarket shelf – wherever it may be in the world.


Seaweed is on the Menu in this year's 8th Annual Burren Slow Food Festival

Seaweed is the common theme throughout the 8th Annual Burren Slow Food Festival to be held this weekend, 23rd, 24th & 25th May 2014, at the Pavilion in Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare.

Author of “Irish Seaweed Kitchen”, Dr. Prannie Rhatigan, is hosting a demonstration and talk on how the thousands of tonnes of seaweed washed up on Irish coastline each day can be exploited for their potential as a foodstuff.

Prainne Rhatigan - distinguished author of Irish Seaweed Kitchen

Meanwhile, Sally McKenna of John and Sally McKennas' Guides (formerly The Bridgestone Guide) and Stefan Kraan, author of "The Science and Gastronomy of Umami", will be discussing the benefits for Ireland's seafood industry in harvesting seaweed.

Sally McKenna's new book on the culinary & cosmetic wonder of seaweeds 

The festival also features food sampling of local artisan foods, a chance to meet local producers and growers, engage with fellow foodies and enjoy cookery demonstrations from well-known chefs including Jess Murphy, Kai Restaurant, Galway; John Sheedy, Sheedy’s, Lisdoonvarna; and Aidan McGrath, Wild Honey Inn, Lisdoonvarna.

Dillisk  (Palmaria palmata) before drying

Other highlights of the weekend include a talk by Slow Food Ireland President and chef Darina Allen; a Wild Food Foraging Walk hosted by Oonagh O'Dwyer from Wild Kitchen in Lahinch; and a demonstration of the essential skills of making handcrafted fine chocolates by Burren Chocolatier and Burren Food Trail Kasha Connolly.

Getting ready for the Burren Slow Food Festival

The main festival banquet on Saturday night will be prepared by Vivian Kelly of Kierans Kitchen at the Roadside Tavern who will serve Gleninagh Lamb, Burren Smoked Irish Organic Salmon, desserts from Fabiola’s Pâtisserie and wines from Burren Fine Wine & Food.

Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food Movement

This year a team of food writers from Italy, the home of the international Slow Food movement, will travel to County Clare this week to report on the 2014 Burren Slow Food Festival., an Italian food magazine which highlights excellence and originality in the world of food, will be creating a complete reportage of the event including videos, photographs and articles. The Slow Food movement was originally founded in Italy, in 1986, by Carlo Petrini.

For more details on the Burren Slow Food Festival visit


Feast or Famine - A Cultural Food Journey of the North West of Ireland

Derry-born chef and cooking lecturer, Emmett McCourt, has just launched a new cookbook tracing the heritage of the traditional foods from the northwest counties of Ireland. The history and recipes, however, reflect similar regional cooking from all over Ireland.

Feast or Famine - A Cultural Food Journey of the North West of Ireland, published by Guildhall Press, is not just a cookbook. It is a remarkable journey through the varied influences that have shaped the style of cooking that is unique to the neighbouring counties of Donegal and Derry. These two counties may have been separated by borders over the years, but they have evolved together like brothers down through the centuries.

"Not only is Irish food amongst the best in the world but our food heritage connects people and places across the globe" says Emmett. "This book offers a window into the past concerning the history of regional Irish food. It also builds positive community relations, conveying the story of our varied cultures through food heritage while renewing the passion and belief in local produce."

Chef Emmett has spent several years researching the history of food in the region and has uncovered ancient recipes, long lost cooking techniques and rediscovered long lost Irish treasures such as the Lumper Potato, which is now undergoing careful growing research to in Ireland to keep it from extinction. He has traced recipes from the time of the Viking settlers and the ancient Irish Chieftains, when venison, turnips, seaweeds, shellfish, fish and wild boar were everyday staple foods along with honey and rhubarb.

This book is also beautifully photographed

When the Scot-Irish emigrated to America, they took with them their distilling skills, producing whiskeys, bourbons and moonshine across all the United States. Fishermen from Inishowen in northern County Donegal, who settled in New England, helped found some of the finest and most successful fishing ports in the world today!

There are some significant business success stories that started from humble beginnings in the northwest of Ireland. McCains, based in Canada, are the largest French Fry maker in the world and their ancestors hailed from Castlefin in County Donegal. A Scots-Irish farmer, originally from Derry and who became the richest oil family in America was Samuel Getty. He also gave his name to the town of Gettysburg, the site of President Lincoln's famous address. 

The McIlhenneys from Milford invented the now-famous hot sauce known as Tabasco! Also recalled are the heady days when Lough Swilly was the Herring capital of the world, Magilligan was a world leader in farmed Rabbits and Derry City was producing millions of gallons of whiskey for the US. The book is full of similar stories.

Lough Neagh Eel with Roasted Beetroot, Nuts, Celeraic
in a Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil Dressing
Emmett has researched and re-developed almost 50 recipes for Feast or Famine and his journey has brought him to know some of the north west's greatest story-tellers, modern-day artisan food producers and chefs. The book is also beautifully photographed and is quickly becoming a research book of choice for many of Ireland's college departments of both catering and Irish history. The history and recipes reflect similar regional cooking all over Ireland.

Wheaten Bread cooking in a Griddle Pan over an open Turf Fire

Emmett McCourt's Wheaten Bread Recipe
(with Metric & US Cup measurements)

Ingredients (makes 1 medium loaf)
1 Cup/150g Plain Flour
1 Cup/150g Wholemeal Flour
1 Cup/100g Rolled (Porridge) Oats
1 tsp salt
2 tspn Baking Powder
2 tblsp/40g Butter
2 tblsp/40g Caster Sugar
1 Cup/250ml Buttermilk
(if you have no buttermilk, add juice of 1/4 lemon to ordinary milk - zack)


1. Preheat oven to 180°C/Gas 4/ 350°F. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
2. Stir the flours, baking powder, salt and sugar together. Rub the butter into the flour mixture.
3. Pour in the buttermilk and work the mixture to a thick, but not too soft, consistency.
4. Shape the dough and place on your baking tray. Pierce the centre, cut an "X" on top, 1/3 of the way through and sprinkle with a little more wholemeal flour.
5. Bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. The bottom of the bread should sound hollow when tapped in the centre.

Emmett Mc Court with Rene Redzepi of Noma Restaurant.
Both chefs share the same commitment to preserving the history of a country's food provenance

Feast or Famine - A Cultural Food Journey of the North West of Ireland is an amazing book that simultaneously educates the palate and the mind. It will become a must-have bookshelf addition for all who have a passion for Irish Food. It is available to purchase online from Guildhall Press at

The Irish Food Heritage Project are hosting the Official Launch of "Feast or Famine - A Cultural Journey of the North West of Ireland" at 11am on Tuesday 17th June, at the Titanic Quarter Campus of the Belfast Metropolitan College. This is going to be a culinary showcase with guest speakers, followed by a finger buffet lunch and book signing at the Linen Lounge Restaurant.

Get along and hear the story behind this amazing book and get your own signed copy while you're there!

For further info on the Launch contact Gavin Doran at Belfast Metropolitan College on:
 gdoran at


Entries Open for the Sheridan's National Irish Brown Bread Competition

Entries are now being accepted for the 2nd Annual National Irish Brown Bread Competition which will be held on Sunday 25th May with €150 Cash Prize for the Winner!

This popular bake-off is already one of the most important Baking Competitions in Ireland and is held as part of the annual Sheridans Cheesemongers Irish Food Festival. The festival, organised by Ireland's most famous Cheese family is now in it's fifth year and is hosted at their Virginia Road Station headquarters in Pottlereagh, Co Meath.

RTE’s Ella McSweeney will be hosting the event as well as judging the competition along with Chapter One Chefs Cathal Leonard and Darren Hogarty and the lady who inspired the Sheridan brother’s love of brown bread, their mam Maura Sheridan!

That's My Homemade Brown Bread - Yum!

The Rules of the Brown Bread Competition are:
  • The competition is open to anyone who has baked their brown bread entry at home.
  • €5 fee per entry -advance payment if entering online, or pay on the day if submitting entry via post/email/in person
  • Any shape of bread is permitted, but 1 lb weight loaves are recommended.
  • Marks out of 10 will be awarded for the breads and 1 point is available for “Irish Ingredients” 
  • Judging will take place at the festival and the breads must be delivered to the Brown Bread tent by 11am.

The overall winner will be announced at 3.30pm and will receive a cash prize of €150 plus a selection of Irish Foods including Irish flour from Macroom Oatmeal Mills and Dunany Organic Farm with which to keep making their brown bread.

The Deadline for receipt of Entries is Friday 23rd May 2014.

For Full details and to Enter the National Irish Brown Bread Competition, Click HERE or go to

Best of Luck to everyone!


Some handy Cooking Tips for any Kitchen

I was sent this infographic by David Dempsey of Noel Dempsey Kitchen & Bedroom Design, based in Charvey Business Park, Rathnew, County Wicklow and thought you might like to print it out and stick it up in your Kitchen!

Right-Click on the infographic above and click "Open image in a new Tab" to get the full-size image and then you can print it out from there.

You can check out Noel's Kitchen Design company at


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