Food news: meet the tastemakers
The UK Guild of Fine Foods has announce its 2018 Great Taste Award winners, with a remarkable 392 based in Ireland. A total of 12,634 products were judged this year winners get to display the distinctive Great Taste Award on their packaging, with either one, two or three stars awarded.
From the three-star winners, a Supreme Champion will be announced on September 2 at the Guild's Golden Fork Dinner, held at the InterContinental Hotel on London's Park Lane.
For the last three years in a row, the Supreme Champion has come from Ireland, and from the meat trade - Clonmel-based James Whelan Butchers; Peter Hannan of Hannan Meats in Moira, Co Down, whose products are stocked in Fortnum & Mason, and Meath's Hugh Maguire, The Smokin' Butcher.
Unlike other food awards, the Great Taste Awards value taste above all else. Whether it is vinegar, granola, bacon or cheese being judged, all products are removed from their wrapper, jar, box or bottle before being tasted. The judges then savour, confer and re-taste to decide which products are worthy of a one-, two- or three-star award.
Great Taste three-star winners from Ireland this year include Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms' Mushroom Salt made by extracting and concentrating the naturally present salts from mushrooms; Ballyhoura Apple Farm's unique Apple Chai Shrubs, a sweet drinking vinegar made from its Apple Chai juice blended with cider vinegar and honey, which impressed the Great Taste judges with its "bold, robust and sharp" flavours; and the "fresh, creamy, salty and delicious" Carlingford Oysters, which are grown in the A-classified waters of Carlingford Lough.
Other three-star winners from Ireland include Boyne Valley Bán Farmhouse Cheese, and Dunnes Stores' Simply Better Smoked Trout Pâté.
Peter Hannan (pictured above) landed another four three-star awards, for his Salt Aged Lamb Striploin, Lamb Bacon and both the seasoned and unseasoned versions of his Three Mix Burger, while James Whelan Butchers and The Smokin' Butcher also brought home more awards.
Olly's Farm won a pair of two-star Awards, for its Dublin Mountain Heather and Summer Blossom raw honeys; and Abernethy Butter won several awards for its delicious hand-rolled butters.
View the full list of winners at greattasteawards.co.uk.
King of the west
Sample the West of Ireland's top producers with The King's Head's new summer menus. Local ingredient highlights include the Wild Atlantic seafood platter of Kelly oysters, Malbay crab, Connemara Smokehouse smoked salmon and mackerel, and Goatsbridge trout. facebook.com/thekingsheadgalway
Vino and vindaloo
Curry and beer have long been deemed the perfect pairing but Dublin's Kerala Kitchen is encouraging you to try a winning wine with your jalfrezi or korma. This Wednesday from 6-8pm, artisan wine specialist Claire O'Boyle will discuss five divine wine and Indian spice pairings. Tickets €35, eventbrite.ie
The Taste of Cavan continues today at Cavan Equestrian Centre with a star-studded line-up of Ireland's top chefs. Highlights today include tasty demos by Richard Corrigan and Neven Maguire (above), Jeeny Maltese, Gearóid Lynch and Shane Smith. See tasteofcavan.ie for the full line-up.