The An invitation to participate again in the judging of the Blas na hÉireann National Irish Food Awards in Dingle on Friday gave me the opportunity to discover a range of new products – as well as stick around for the rest of the weekend’s Dingle Food Festival festivities! This year’s judging was quick and efficient as the initial judging at UCC had slimmed almost 800 entries down to three in each category; all we had to do, in a series of blind tastings, was choose the gold, silver and bronze winners.
I was fortunate enough to have to taste Minihan’s rich Chocolate & Hazelnut Torte (gold winner in the Functional & Health Foods category), one of only two dishes that my fellow judges and I were interested in having more of. The other was the well-spiced Chicken Korma from Bombay Pantry (gold winner in Ready Meals), which served as an early lunch.
Friday evening’s award ceremony turned up lots of favourites amongst the award winners, including Nibbles Food Emporium’s Pear and Almond Tart, Glenilen Farm’s handmade butter, Mella‘s Chocolate Fudge, Benoit Lorge‘s nougats, McCarthy‘s black pudding and Blazing Salads breads. Irish sourced products from SuperValu, Superquinn and Aldi made a strong showing and Country Choice‘s Peter Ward, the evening’s MC, made a heartfelt plea to the big supermarket buyers, many of whom were in the room, to treat artisan producers well.
This year’s Blas na hÉireann Supreme Champion was a product from Fermoy, Silverpail’s SuperValu Supreme Truffle Fudge Ice Cream, and you can see all the winners in each category here.