The details of the 2009 Blas na hEireann food awards have just been announced and the organisers are looking for entries from Irish food producers.
A mixture of stories and demonstrations around the theme of Irish pork made up the afternoon workshop at the Mitchelstown Food Festival on Friday. Carol O’Brien spoke about her pig farming family’s experiences of the dioxin scare and how this incentivised them to become involved with the setting up of Truly Irish. A national cooperative, Truly Irish represents pig producers from the entire island and products – rashers, sausages and ham – sold under the brand will be sourced in Ireland. Truly Irish will be officially launched at the Mitchelstown Food Festival producers’ market on Sunday and the products are available from Superquinn, Centra and SuperValu outlets around the country.
The Mallow Food Festival may be over, but the local focus on food continues. This year’s Mitchelstown Food Festival will take place this coming weekend, Friday 28, Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 August and the theme is, very appropriately after last year’s pig-meat debacle, Bringing Home the Bacon.
Despite the weather, there was a good turn out at the Mallow Food Festival on Sunday, plenty of people around to eat at the stalls that lined the main street. Our pick of the lot was the fresh fish and chips from West Cork, fish caught that morning and battered as we watched, decent chips and homemade tartare sauce for dipping. The Husband declared it the best fish ‘n’ chips that he had eaten since we were last in New Zealand, it being practically a national dish there.
I wrote last week about the smoked trout from Old Millbank Smokehouse in Buttevant. If you’re interested in picking some up, Geraldine will have her stall at the Mallow Food Festival on Sunday 23 August with plenty of trout, salmon and some of her fantastic pates and fishcakes. Many of my favourite traders will also be there, including Arun Kapil‘s Green Saffron, wafting gorgeous smells of curry down the street, Gudrun Shinick’s Fermoy Natural Cheese, the Baking Emporium (make sure you pick up a pack of their fantastic spelt cheese crackers) and skin care products that are good enough to eat from Shirley’s Herbal Care. There will also be baking from Nibbles Food Emporium, tasty snacks from Allan’s Crepes and Tom’s Sushi alongside a selection of ethnic foods from the Caribbean (The Joy Store), Lithuania (Vias) and Thailand (Thai Lanna).
The third part of The Wine Geese radio documentary is on Lyric FM tomorrow morning at 8.30am. In this show, Tomas Clancy meets the far-seeing Francis Mahoney, devotee of Pinot Noir and the man who pioneered it in California 35 years ago. You can read more about Mahoney here and the programme will be online after broadcast on the Lyric FM Features page.
Last summer, when we had the Mallow Farmers’ Market running outside Urru, we saw a lot of Patrick Frankel, a local organic vegetable grower. When he started coming to the market he had just started producing vegetables on his family farm near Doneraile and customers were delighted with the early fruit of his labours: spring onions, yellow and green courgettes, an assortment of tomatoes, new potatoes, peas and, my favourite, mangetout. I bumped into him a few times at the Killavullen Farmers’ Market, always making sure to stock up on the mangetout – great shredded and tossed raw into salads or briefly steamed and served as a side – but hadn’t seen him around for a while so I was delighted to see that the North Cork Organic Group had organised a farm visit.