Food news: protected status for Oriel sea salt and sea mineral extract
Last week, coveted Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status was awarded to two Irish food products made by the Oriel Sea Salt Company in Clogherhead, Co Louth: its Mineral Sea Salt and Sea Mineral Extract. Oriel is the first Irish company since 1999 to receive PDO status (akin to champagne) from the EU. PDO covers agricultural products and foodstuffs which are produced, processed and prepared in a given geographical area using recognised know-how. The last Irish company to receive this designation was Imokilly for its Regato cheese.
Oriel Mineral Sea Salt is harvested from the bay of Port Oriel in Co Louth. It is powder-like to the touch and naturally crystal white so does not need to be washed or rinsed. The quality of the salt results from a combination of deep water currents, the mineral content and purity of the water, and from the process used to make, preserve and refine these characteristics. Harvesting of sea salt in Port Oriel dates back centuries to when salt was a vital ingredient in preserving fish landed at the harbour for consumption, storage and subsequent transport to market. The salt is lower in sodium and has a higher mineral content than other sea salts, meaning that less salt is required to impart flavour.
Oriel Sea Minerals are concentrated sea mineral salts in liquid form, and these too have also been accorded PDO status. They are marketed as a food supplement providing magnesium and minerals and used as an active ingredient in cosmetics and other products.
With the addition of these two names, Ireland now has seven food names protected in the EU quality register as four products - the Waterford Blaa, Connemara Hill Lamb, Timoleague Brown Pudding and Clare Island Salmon - hold the Protected Geographical Indicator (PGI) status.
Oriel has also teamed up with Teelings Whiskey to make a Teeling Whiskey Smoked Sea Salt, which has become a successful export to the US in partnership with the San Francisco Sea Salt Company.
Irish chefs such as Ross Lewis, Ed Cooney, Noel McMeel and Domini Kemp use Oriel sea salt, as do Irish brands including O'Donnell's Crisps, Improper Butter, and Glastry Ice Cream.
DIANA HENRY: SIMPLE
Diana Henry is based in London but grew up in the North, so I'm claiming her as Ireland's most eloquent food writer, with recipe after recipe that cry out to be tried. Her new book is Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavours and it's even lovelier than its predecessors. Mitchell Beazley, £25.
Rhoda Kirwan's exquisite hand-crafted chocolate fusions - single origin dark chocolate with caramel sprinkles and sea salt is one - are available in Wicklow at Holland's of Bray, SuperValu Greystones and, until September 18, at the Pop-Up shop in Dun Laoghaire, Dublin beside the People's Park. Divine.
Nicoya Enrichment makes dishes inspired by indigenous tribes. Its nourishing salads are produced in Dublin and are a cut above what's on offer in the pre-packaged salad sector; we particularly like the asparagus, quinoa and kimchi version, which is available at Donnybrook Fair and other outlets.