2011? Phew! A crazy, crazy year. Still, after a relatively calm January, I’ve finally had a chance to gather together my favourite food memories of the last 12 months.
Eight Degrees Beer: the first sip of our Howling Gale Ale at the Franciscan Well Easter Beer Fest – declared ready just the previous night – was the cumulation of years of planning, dreaming and home brewing. The Husband and the Aussie hit the ground running and haven’t stopped since.
From cracking open the first keg of Sunburnt Irish Red at the Irish Cloud Festival beer and food matching event, “testing” Knockmealdown Porter to develop a Chocolate Brownie recipe and checking out A Winter’s Ale with Farmette during the Irish Country Living photoshoot, it’s been a rollercoaster ride. Looking forward to seeing what the lads have planned for 2012!
Inishfood: it’s not often that you drive six hours for dinner. But it was worth it. And the Taste of Inishowen feast that we enjoyed at Harrys Restaurant in Co Donegal was only one of the high points of a most memorable weekend that celebrated not only the food of the peninsula but wonderful coffee, cheese, raw milk and black pudding.
I’m sure the indomitable Donal, who organised and facilitated the whole thing at Harrys, might have thought otherwise as he waved us off after the weekend but, as it turns out, it was too good to be a once-off event.
We’re all heading back up there in May to celebrate Irish food with workshops, talks and lots of convivial eating. Book your accommodation for 18 – 20 May, follow Inishfood on Twitter to find out what Donal has got planned and keep an eye on Irishfoodbloggers.com for more details. It’s going to be bigger and even better than 2011.
Irish flavours: 2011 was undoubtedly the year of Ed Hick’s Bacon Jam. Salty, sweet, bacon-y and all-round addictive, I first came across it at Bloom and have picked up a jar where ever I’ve seen it since. It’s so good that I’ve also been playing around with my own homemade version – it’s never going to top Ed’s top secret blend but at least it’s a good stopgap until the next Dublin trip.
At the cottage we’re also loving: crumbly, crunchy Irish Atlantic Sea Salt – buying Irish is a pleasure when the standard is this high; the sweetest Toonsbridge Irish buffalo mozzarella from Macroom; Keogh’s hand cooked crisps, complete with Spud Nav – apparently the Lady Claire potatoes in my bag of crisps came from Sheepshill near Blanchardstown; and Little Missy would undoubtedly vote for Highbank Orchard Syrup that she loves drizzled on yoghurt for a mid-afternoon snack.
The right food at the right time: steaming hot tea and limp buttery toast in CUMH half an hour after the arrival of the Small Girl. White processed bread has never tasted so good.