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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 www.irishfoodwritingawards.ie

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!

Zack

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