Local produce is officially the best in the land
LOCAL producers had lots to celebrate at the Dingle Food Festival over the weekend when they were named among the best in the land at the Blas na hÉireann Food Awards.
For Dick Mack’s Brewhouse it was the perfect birthday when, exactly a year after launching, they won gold in the Blas na hÉireann ale category, another gold medal in the stout category for their coffee stout, and the Rogha na Gaeltachta award, sponsored by Údarás na Gaeltachta.
Only a stone’s throw from the converted outhouse where Dick Mack’s brew their beer, Jerry Kennedy plies his trade as a butcher in Orchard Lane and he too was among the winners in the highly competitive beef category. Jerry’s Dry Aged Dingle Distillery Mash Fed Sirloin Steak, which was reared by Bín Bán farmer Raymond Coffey, won the silver medal and earned him a place on the podium alongside mega producers Keypak.
Also in the meat trade, Micilín Muc in Ceardlann na Coille, Dingle, won a bronze medal for their black pudding and another bronze for their sausage rolls.
In the seafood section of the Blas Awards, Quinlan’s Fish won bronze medals for both their wild smoked salmon and their fresh crab.
Prestige Foods in Listowel won the prestigious title of ‘Best in County’ as well as a gold medal for their Dunnes Stores Decadent Belgian Chocolate Mouse Tortes, while Cahersiveen-based Camos Bistro won the Best in Farmers Market Award as well as silver for their Spicy Apple Chutney
There was more gold for Kerry in the dairy category, with Carralea Dairy Products ltd in Listowel winning a gold medal for their Carralea Natural Kefir Drink, while in the Ready Meals category Brown Sugar Café in Killarney won a gold medal for their Brown Sugar Cajun Chicken and Pineapple Wrap.
The bakers of Kerry had a good run of things in this year’s Blas Awards as well, with O’Sullivan’s Bakery in Killorglin winning bronze for their Traditional Kerry Brack, while Bake it Easy in Knocknagoshel added silver and bronze medals to the list of Blas awards they have won in recent years.
The Blas na nÉireann food awards, which were established 11 years ago by former fisherman Artie Clifford, are enormously valuable to local producers. As Artie pointed out, buyers from Buyers from Dubai, Hong Kong, Harrods, and the prestigious Borough Market in London are among those who attend the awards in Dingle to source new suppliers and this gives Irish producers a potential foothold in the international market.
One man who fully appreciates the value of a Blas award is Liam Quinlan of Cahersiveen-based Quinlan’s Fish. “Being a Blas Awards winner has been fantastic for our business,” Liam told The Kerryman. “We have one customer alone who buys €150,000 worth of product a year on account of the Blas Supreme Award we won in 2015 but, aside from that, it’s a great boost for the reputation of our fish shops around Kerry.”
Paddy Chauvais of the Skipper Restaurant (now based in the Dingle Peninsula Hotel near Muiríóch) was at his station in O’Flaherty’s pub during the Dingle Food Festival.
Grace Treloar from Rinn Bhuí tries her hand as milking - on a mock-up cow that was provided for the purpose at the Dingle Food Festival taste trail.
Patricia Flanagan fearlessly sampling snails the Dingle Food Festival on Saturday.
Brewers of the finest ale - Ozzy Barrett and Graeme Murray react in delight as Dick Mack’s Brewhouse was announced as the winner of the Blas na hÉireann Rogha na Gaeltachta award.
Tom Curran and his wife Eleanor with Arthur Spring at the Dingle Food Festival on Saturday.
Karen Pleass from Listowel and Mary Ahern, Glin, enjoying the comfort of a seat in the shade outside the Original Kerry shop on Green Street where Karen’s textile artwork is sold.
Diarmuid Mac a’ t-Saoir with Theresa Rafter-Moriarty on the Tig an t-Saoirsigh stall at the Dingle Food Festival where Biddy’s Irish Stew - made by Pablo the Portoguese chef - was a popular choice.
Máirín Ní Bhroinn and Máire Treasa Ní Chonchúir chatting over an ice cream at the Dingle Food Festival on Saturday.
Theresa Heneghan of Tribal Foods.
Caoimhe Barry-Walsh serving food at the Adam’s Bar stall.