At a recent lunch in the two-Michelin-star Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, executive chef/owner Guillaume Lebrun created a special menu to celebrate the winners of this year's Irish Food Writers' Guild awards. Liberty Wines provided wines to match.
The prestige of the awards, which have been running since 1993, lies in the fact that they are not - unlike some others - a social media-driven popularity contest. No company or individual can enter themselves for these awards, and judging takes place at a formal tasting meeting, at which members of the Guild vote using a system of proportional representation. To be eligible, products have to be Irish, and the main ingredient must be produced or grown in Ireland.
This year, six IFWG awards were announced, alongside the Guild's first posthumous award, which went to the late Oliver Hughes, a pioneer of the Irish craft beer revolution. Hughes was the man behind the Porterhouse pubs, Porthouse tapas bars and the Dingle Distillery, which produces vodka, a distinctive gin flavoured with local botanicals including rowan berry, bog myrtle and heather, and bottled its first batches of Dingle Single Malt last year. Oliver Hughes sadly died in 2016 at the age of 57, and the award was collected by his son and daughter, Elliot and Holly.
The Food Awards went to The Friendly Farmer, Ronan Byrne, for his pasture-reared Galway chickens; Cork's Ummera Irish Smokehouse for Ummera Smoked Silver Hill Duck Breast; and Cuinneog in Mayo for Irish Farmhouse Country Butter and Natural Buttermilk. Bertha's Revenge Irish Milk Gin made at Ballyvolane House, Co Cork, received this year's Irish Drink Award, and Mag Kirwan of Goatsbridge Trout Farm in Kilkenny was presented with a Special Contribution to Irish Food Award. The 2017 IFWG Environmental Award went to The Little Milk Company in Waterford for its innovative approach to fostering sustainable family farms.
The menu featured Goatsbridge Cold Smoked Trout with Bertha's Revenge gin and tonic foam and pickled ginger, a salad of Ummera Smoked Silver Hill Duck Breast with beetroot and horseradish (above), The Friendly Farmer Pasture-Reared Chicken with lemon viennoise and sweet potato purée, Cuinneog Buttermilk Ice-Cream with pear and white chocolate café au lait, and cheeses from The Little Milk Company, served with Porterhouse An Brain Blásta ale.
In the mix
Poacher's Citrus Tonic Water was one of last year's successful Irish product launches and has now been joined by a Classic Tonic Water and a Ginger Ale. The soft drinks are made with mineral-rich spring water from the Litterbeg Estate in Co Wexford and use all natural ingredients. @PoachersWell
G & Sea?
To celebrate the first anniversary of The Coburg restaurant and Lemuel's bar at The Conrad, the hotel is hosting a Gin and Oysters night on April 27 at 6pm. A €35 ticket gets you canapés, unlimited oysters plus two G&Ts. To book, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Cooking for cancer
On April 3, Paul Flynn, Takashi Miyazaki, Robbie Krawczyk, Jess Murphy and Enda McEvoy will cook together at Ballyvolane House to raise funds for Breakthrough Cancer Research. Tickets are €120 from breakthroughcancerresearch.ie