Food news: A Taste of our Waterways
It's great to see innovative food producers being showcased as part of SuperValu's Food Academy programme. A joint initiative between SuperValu, Bord Bia and the Local Enterprise Office Network, the national programme has been upping its ante this year, with sales for 2016 expected to double those of 2015.
The programme test-runs new producers in their local stores before rolling them out nationally. Of the 53 small food producers recently introduced to Supervalu shelves in their locality, several are tapping into the under-utilised edible resources of our island's waters to offer a 'Taste of the Sea'.
Donegal shoppers can stock up their store cupboards with jars of Shines' excellent Irish tuna preserved in oil or with tins of peppered smoked mackerel fillets from Irish Atlantic Canned Fish. Dubliners seeking a quick fish supper can choose between Simon's Smokies and Howth Cuisine's thai fish cakes, while down in Cork, the Union Hall brand produces a very decent smoked mackerel pâte.
But it's not just about the fish. Achill Island sea salt, available in 18 stores in Mayo, is a sea salt flaky enough to satisfy Maldon devotees.
And several companies are exploring clever uses for Irish sea vegetables. Cork's The Laughing Oyster dried seaweed seasoning adds flavour to everything from soups and stews to scrambled eggs, while The West of Ireland Seaweed Kitchen in Galway has developed a low-salt, organic chocolate mousse mix that utilises Irish carrageen for texture. Also in Cork, Roaring Water Sea Vegetable has developed meat-free substitutes for chorizo sausage and black pudding that make great use of Irish wakame.
It's also nice to see one of our seafood-focussed restaurants getting some international recognition. Howth is Dublin's most picturesque fishing village and Aqua Restaurant (above) boasts one of its most atmospheric locations, perched at the end of Howth's West Pier with views across to Ireland's Eye.
The restaurant recently picked up the title of Best Luxury Seafood Restaurant at the World Luxury Restaurant Awards, which took place at the Grand Kronenhof Hotel, Pontresina, Switzerland.
Another great champion of Irish fish, Mag Kirwan of Goatsbridge Trout Farm, is gathering trout recipes from women in Ireland and Uganda from diverse backgrounds and professions into an upcoming cookbook. Fishwives will be launched at Savour Kilkenny on October 28, and all proceeds will go to Hospice Africa Uganda. For more details, see goatsbridgetrout.ie/fishwives-fish-recipe-book
A clean-tasting brew that is free from gluten, fluoride, chemicals and preservatives, Brú Lager offers light and crisp drinking with subtle malt notes (think Rich Tea biscuits) and refreshing green hops that would pair well with fish and chips. 4.2pc ABV, €2.49 for 330ml.
Seaside Eats & Beats
The Beatyard Festival returns to Dun Laoghaire Marina (July 30 & July 31) with everything from disco legends to carnival games and Science Gallery installations. This year's new Eatyard zone features over 30 food and drink vendors, plus cookery and cocktail demos. the-beatyard.com
Bacon gets a makeover
Euro-Toques Ireland's 30-year anniversary celebrations conclude next Monday, July 25, with a five-course 'bacon and cabbage' themed dinner, cooked by five guest Euro-Toques chefs and served on The Woollen Mills' terrace overlooking Dublin's Ha'penny Bridge. For details, see facebook.com/eurotoquesireland