Saturday 20 July 2019

Cork sweep boards at food writers guild food awards

Aideen Sheehan

CORK cemented its reputation as the food capital of Ireland by scooping six out of the seven Irish Food Writers Guild Food Awards today.

From cider to sea salt and mushrooms, the southern county swept the board in the twentieth year of the awards for outstanding food products and companies as voted on by the country’s top food writers.

Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms grown in a unique mountain climate in Co Cork won an award for its specialty and wild mushrooms which includes varieties such as Rose Oyster, Lions Mane “Pom Pom” and Velvet Pioppino.

Lucy Creegan and Mark Cribben grow these mushrooms by inoculating the spores into local wood including oak, birch and elder, as well as harvesting wild ones to make into soups, pates, ketchups and oils.

Irish Atlantic Sea Salt in Lickbarrahan on the Beara Peninsula won an award for its salt flakes produced from top-quality unpolluted seawater and now sell nationwide having only launched four years ago.

Stonewell cider from Kinsale in Co Cork won the guild’s first ever drink award for its traditional additive-free cider made from Irish apples in Belgooley, Co Cork by Daniel Emerson and his wife Geraldine who is from a French family that has been making wines for centuries.

Coolea Flavoured Matured Farmhouse Cheese from Macroom in Co Cork was another winner.

The second-generation cheesemaker Dicky Willems makes plain and flavoured cheeses matured for up to 18 months with half their produce exported overseas and sold through upmarket retail chain Neal’s Yard in the UK.

Responsible Irish Fish which is a new label for fish caught using sustainable high quality fishing practices also won an award.

The member-run organisation headed by Frank Fleming is based in Castletownbere, Co Cork has a strong conservation approach which ealso involes bringing ashore marine debris caught while fishing.

Heritage Irish Potato Collection also won an award for its collection of over 200 varieties of traditional Irish potatoes including the Lumper famine variety and the Irish Apple which dates back to 1768.

Horticulturalists Dermot Carey and David Langford have been collecting and growing these heritage potatoes since the 1970s and the Irish Food Writers Guild backed their call for a permanent home for them.

Myrtle Allen from Ballymaloe House won the guild’s Lifetime Achievement award for her work developing and promoting local Irish food over five decades.

The awards were presented at L’Ecrivain restaurant in Dublin today where chef Derry Clarke created a lunch incorporating all the award-winning products.

Guild chairperson Lizzie Gore Grimes said that its members had discovered some truly wonderful products and innovative organisation in the south of the country that couldn’t be ignored.

“Today’s winners represent the very best of Irish and are awarded for their outstanding produce and important contribution to helping retain Ireland’s fine reputation on the international stage,” she said.

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