Michael O’Callaghan of Longueville house near Mallow, Co. Cork decided to plant 25 acres of apple orchards 18 years ago with the pioneering idea of producing Irish apple brandy. When Michael passed away 3 years ago, his son William took over the running of the house and in addition to continuing to produce his father’s apple brandy decided to market the excellent cider already being produced as part of the brandy making process. Longueville House Cider was launched on the market 3 years ago and has quickly been recognised as one of the best artisan ciders being produced in Ireland. Last year 25,000 litres were produced, and this year William anticipates reaching 35-40,000 litres. The cider is produced in the traditional way – with apples being harvested in October and crushed in an oak cider press. The fresh juice is then fermented with its natural yeasts for 4-5 months to produce a rich amber coloured cider with a unique taste. The cider is filtered and pasteurised, but no sugars, colours or preservatives are added. Longueville House are members of Cider Ireland, a pioneering group of artisan cider producers who have come together to help market their cider and bring down production costs through cooperation. Euro-toques commended the excellent quality and taste of Longueville House cider, and praised the production methods and respect for tradition at Longueville which have resulted in another excellent Irish artisan product.
Regan Organic Farm is a 45 acre organic mixed farm near Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford. The main focus is on poultry – with both laying and table chickens and ducks, as well as Turkeys for Christmas – but there are also pigs, lambs and a small suckler herd. Having grown up on a conventional farm and studied agriculture, Mary Regan decided to start the process of organic conversion in 2004 and became certified by the Organic Trust in 2006. This decision mainly stemmed from her experience of intensive animal rearing systems, particularly in the area of pigs and poultry, and a growing interest in the organic option.
Mary Regan’s organic Aylesbury ducks are sourced as day olds from a hatchery in Arklow and are reared outdoors on pasture. They are slaughtered at approximately 10 weeks at an Organic Trust certified abattoir in Tipperary. Following tastings and visits the Euro-Toques Food Council singled Regan’s ducks for superb flavour and for excellent animal husbandry and production methods. Mary Regan has chosen a system of animal rearing which respects the nature of the animal and results in healthy animals and land, which in turn produces meat of excellent eating quality. The free ranging lifestyle and slow-growing of the ducks results in meat which is not too fatty but has excellent flavour.
Having studied horticulture and worked in the apple growing industry, David Llewellyn leased a 15 acre orchard in 1999 and eventually planted his own orchard near Lusk, north county Dublin in 2002. His original plan was to wholesale apples, but being naturally innovative and experimental, before long he began to add value to his apples and seek out direct markets. His first step was to produce a range of apple juice and with the advent of farmers markets he soon found a steady outlet for these. The simple natural process of fermenting his apples led to him developing his own cider – now marketed as ‘Double LL’ – and fermentation of the cider, led to production of Llewellyn Cider Vinegar which hit the market about 8 years ago. Probably his most innovative product, and the one which received most attention from the Euro-Toques chefs, is his Irish Balsamic Cider vinegar, originally developed about 6 years ago – this vinegar, produced from concentrated apple juice (4-5 litres to produce 1l of vinegar), takes about 3 years to produce. Acknowledging the excellent quality of all his products, Euro-toques recognised David Llewellyn in particular for the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit which has allowed him, along with other similarly minded apple growers, to continue the traditional cultivation of apples in Ireland.
Pat Lalor converted his family farm near Kilbeggan, Co. Westmeath to organic is 1999 in order to “make more money”. He became certified by the Organic Trust and the changeover did increase profitability on the farm but also inadvertently led Pat down the road of direct marketing and hugely increased satisfaction in his role as a farmer.
After the conversion, Pat brought 50% of his farm land into oat production. Realising the quality of his product and wanting it to be recognised as coming from his farm, in 2011 he took the bold step of his selling his porridge oats direct under his own brand. ‘Kilbeggan Organic Foods’ was born. He now produces 100 tonnes of porridge oats and 100% of these are sold direct under the Kilbeggan brand. While about 90% are sold within Ireland, his oats are now stocked in high end NY food store Dean & Deluca and Selfridges in London. Demand is far out-stripping supply and Pat says he could sell 4 times more if capacity was there to produce it. Euro-Toques chefs were hugely impressed by the quality and taste of Kilbeggan Porridge Oats, all of which Pat puts down to good stewardship of the soil, which is so essential to organic production. They also commended his innovation in bringing this traditional crop direct to market under his own farm brand.
MICK & TRISH MURPHY – WILD RIVER NORE SALMON
Murphy Fisheries, Ballinabarna, Inistioge, Co. Kilkenny
087 1927169/051 423917 (Trisha)
087 9329979 (Mick)
Mick Murphy is a snap-net salmon fisherman on the River Nore, a skill he learned as a teenager. Snap-net fishing, which is thought to date back more than a thousand years, involves a pair of fishermen in two small wooden boats known as cots, stretching a wide net across the river between their boats which they ‘snap’ shut when they feel the pull of a salmon, quickly and skilfully paddling their canoes together to trap and land the fish. It is a tradition passed down from father to son which takes many years to perfect. Salmon drift-netting at sea in the 1970s and 80s meant such a dramatic fall in salmon numbers that this ancient trade almost died out. By the time the commercial salmon fishery was closed in 2006, very few salmon were being caught in the snap-nets and the number of skilled fishermen had dwindled. However, salmon conservation measures undertaken by Inland Fisheries have been highly successful and in 2009 following 3 closed seasons, snap-net fishermen were allowed return to the river Nore to catch a small quota of fish for a short 12 week season (mid-May-mid Aug). Each year since, due to healthy stock numbers, the quota has been increased and there are now 30 commercial licences operating on the Nore. The ancient craft of cot-making has been revived and young men who had never fished before are now learning the skill.
But when Mick Murphy returned to fishing in 2009 he, like others in the community, found the traditional buyers for his fish had disappeared. He and his wife Trisha took the enterprising step of contacting smokehouses and local hotels and restaurants in an attempt to find a direct market for the wonderful wild salmon, available for just 2 months a year. The Burren Smokehouse in Co Clare and Brooklodge Hotel in Wicklow were quick to come on board and soon took most of the salmon. In order to provide a constant supply, Trisha registered for a fish buyer’s licence, which now allows her to buy from the other fishermen for re-sale. 80% of the river Nore cotmen now sell to her. The snap net fishermen have held fast to their tradition which they are immensely proud of and through their determination and enterprising spirit, Mick & Trisha Murphy, have helped bring the wonderful wild Irish salmon, so much part of our ancient food heritage, back to our tables.
Tradition meets innovation at 2013 EirGrid Euro-Toques Food Awards
At today’s Euro-Toques Food Awards, sponsored by EirGrid, Ireland’s top chefs honoured farmers, fishermen and producers who have ensured the survival of some of our most traditional food produce through enterprise and innovation. All five awards, presented at a reception hosted by Ella McSweeney in Residence Club on St. Stephen’s Green this afternoon, went to businesses involving foods with a long history in Ireland’s food and farming heritage.
The 5 award recipients were:
Mick Murphy, a traditional Snap-net salmon fisherman on the River Nore, Co. Kilkenny, and his wife Trisha, who has registered as a fish buyer in order to buy wild salmon from Mick and the other snap-net fishermen for supply to smokehouses and restaurants
Pat Lalor of Kilbeggan Organic Oats, Co. Westmeath who converted his family farm to organics in 1999 and began selling his oats direct under his own farm brand in 2011.
David Llewellyn of Llewllyn Orchard, Lusk, Co. Dublin an apple grower who, over the course of 10 years has innovated and added value to his apples producing a range of excellent products including juices, cider, cider & apple balsamic vinegar, and apple syrup.
Mary Regan of Regan’s Organic Farm, who was commended for her organic Ducks, raised on her mixed 45 acre farm near Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford.
William O’Callaghan, producer of Longueville House Cider, near Mallow, Co. Cork – 3 years ago William launched this cider, produced exclusively with the apples from the 23 acres of orchards on the Longueville estate, onto the market.
(See biogs below)
“It is important to look to traditional farm products and food production in Ireland to understand what is most suited to our land and climate”, said Ruth Hegarty, Secretary-General of Euro-Toques Ireland at today’s awards,
“But in order for these traditions to survive we must have innovation. All of today’s winners have been innovative in the way they have added value to their product and brought it to market, getting it as close to the final consumer as possible. This is what will ensure the survival of quality traditional farming”.
Salmon is so much part of our folk history and even national identity and a resource which has been much under threat in recent years due to over-fishing and pollution. But measures taken by Inland Fisheries in recent years have seen stock numbers quickly recover on the River Nore and allowed a return to the ancient tradition of snap-net salmon fishing there. Strong policy decisions, good management and the cooperation of the snap-net fishermen have resulted in a good news story for the future sustainability of wild salmon stocks on Irish rivers. The determination of these fishermen has ensured the survival of their ancient fishing method against the odds and the enterprising spirit of Mick & Trisha Murphy has resulted in new markets for the prized wild salmon, which is available for just 12 weeks each year from mid-May to mid-August.
Oats were one of our earliest and most traditional crops. Pat Lalor, through his stewardship of the soil and organic farming methods is producing creamy flavoursome porridge oats, which many say ‘tastes like porridge used to’. By branding and directly marketing his oats, he has increased the profitability and sustainability of his farm and given the consumer an entirely traceable quality Irish farm product. Apples are native to this land and orchards have long formed part of the traditional garden. But apple cultivation has been threatened by cheap imports, high costs and unpredictable weather. The innovations of growers like David Llewellyn and William O’Callaghan, along with other like-minded apple producers, in developing added value products and marketing direct has allowed the survival of this traditional industry. Small-scale poultry rearing has always been a vital income stream for farmer’s wives, providing pin money for everyday essentials. Now producers like Mary Regan are making viable businesses from rearing poultry in the traditional way and bringing it direct to market.
The Euro-Toques Food Awards are unique in that producers cannot enter or lobby for awards, they must be nominated by Euro-Toques member chefs. The Euro-Toques Food Council considers the list of nominations, taking into account taste, production methods, provenance and many other factors in order to select just 5 recipients who stand out in that year.
“Today’s award winners are all very different but all share a passion and belief in what they do. Meeting people like them is what gives us the greatest buzz as chefs”, said Euro-Toques President Chef Wade Murphy of the newly opened 1826 Adare restaurant in Adare, Co. Limerick, speaking at this afternoon’s reception in Residence.
“They have all looked to foods and crops which are indigenous and very much part of our food heritage and are producing them in a non-intensive, traditional way. They have made their business viable by marketing direct and chefs are a key part of this”.
This is the fourth year that EirGrid, operator of the national electricity transmission system, has sponsored the Euro-Toques Food awards. Fintan Slye, CEO EirGrid, said: “EirGrid engages with the farming community across Ireland on a regular basis. I congratulate all the winner of this year’s awards and commend Euro-toques for its on-going commitment to enhancing Ireland’s culinary heritage”.
Award recipients took part in a photo call on O’Connell Street this morning, where Mick Murphy and his fishing colleagues displayed a traditional River Nore fishing ‘cot’ (wooden canoe) and their snap nets. They received their awards from the Euro-toques chefs in the ceremony hosted by Ella McSweeney in Residence Club in St. Stephen’s Green this afternoon. Canapés featuring the winning food products were created for the event by Residence chefs and Euro-toques members Graham Neville & Peter Everett.
Follow the event on Twitter: @eurotoquesirl #ETFoodAwards
Euro-toques – the European Community of Chefs – was established in Brussels in 1986 by the top chefs in the region. Their purpose was to form a network of chefs committed to quality local food sourcing and to be a voice for the industry to protect Europe’s traditional foods and culinary heritage.
Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe House was one of the founding members and went on to found Euro-toques Ireland the same year. Euro-toques Ireland lobbies on a variety of food policy issues and is heavily involved in education, focussing on food education for children and skills training for chefs, in addition to organising food-related events and activities for both industry and the public.
EirGrid plc is a leading Irish energy business, dedicated to the provision of transmission and market services for the benefit of electricity consumers. It is a state-owned commercial company.
EirGrid is committed to delivering high quality services to all customers, including generators, suppliers and consumers across the high voltage electricity system and via the efficient operation of the wholesale power market. It puts in place the grid infrastructure needed to support competition in energy, to promote economic growth, to facilitate more renewable energy, and to provide essential services.
About the EirGrid Euro-toques Food Awards:
The Euro-toques Food Awards have been in existence since 1996. Their purpose is for Euro-toques chefs to identify the very best food being produced in Ireland for the benefit of fellow chefs and consumers, and above all the producers themselves, who are often very small operators. In doing this they seek to highlight foods and production methods that may be in danger of being lost and to promote people who were producing food of the very highest quality and, above all, the best taste. Producers are nominated by Euro-Toques member chefs who use their produce on their menu. The Euro-toques Food Council made up of 10 chefs from across Ireland carry out tastings, investigations and visits before choosing 5 winners each year.
The awards have been sponsored by EirGrid since 2010.
PRODUCER VISITS & LOCAL FARM (& CRAFT BEER!) DINNER
Join us on Wednesday 20th March as we visit the ‘Fields of Athenry’ to meet 2 remarkable food producers; one preserving a tradition and skill that has almost died out and the other reviving it.
Then make your way into the city to stop into one of Galway’s (indeed Ireland’s) food icons and finish up with a casual early evening supper with Euro-Toques chef JP McMahon (and some local beer!)
WEDNESDAY 20 MARCH – ITINERARY
10am Arrive at Athenry Town Park at the Church Car Park, near the Train Station, our first stop is just across the road.
(If you arrive early, you can grab a coffee at The Nook further along the same street on the opposite side or at the Old Barracks on Cross St)
Visit to BRADY’S BUTCHERS
Brady’s is a family butchers for several generations and still have their own on-site abattoir killing beef & lamb, all sourced from local farms around Athenry.
We will be visiting the abattoir to observe the Beef & Lamb kill and will meet with Richie Brady who now runs the business. Richie was one of the last generation in Ireland to have formal butchery training which included slaughtering skills.
Following what is believed by many to have been the systematic closure of small abattoirs by the Irish authorities throughout the 1990s, only a handful of slaughterhouses remain in operation in County Galway, the majority of these in the east of the county. A very small number of these also have a butcher shops and in some cases their own farm, providing total traceability and real food provenance to the consumer. The tenacity of those who have continued against the odds to carry out this practice is to be greatly admired.
12.30 approx Drive to Knockbrack – 5 mins from Athenry
Visit to THE FRIENDLY FARMER
A short drive into the countryside at Knockbrack, Athenry we find Ronan Byrne (aka The Friendly Farmer) at work on his picturesque farm with the little yellow cottage which once belonged to his grandparents. The Friendly Farmer’s mainstay is Pasture Reared Chickens, along with Geese, Turkeys and Ducks seasonally, but he also has a few free ranging saddleback pigs and a small herd of beef cattle.
Last year Ronan won a Euro-Toques Food Award for his excellent quality chicken. But something very special has happened on the Friendly Farm in the meantime – in December Ronan opened his own on –farm abattoir meaning all of his Turkeys, Geese & Ducks for Christmas were killed and processed on farm and he now kills his chickens weekly right across the field from where they were reared.
We will meet Ronan (he really is very friendly!), get a tour of the farm and an understanding of his farm practices, and observe how the chickens are killed on-farm.
2.30pm approx. Travel to Galway City
You may a parking space at the Cathedral car park, which will put you roughly half way between our 2 locations or park around Newtownsmith or Market street close to Sheridans and then move the car closer to Massimo later or leave it there and stroll down via Dominick St.
Visit to SHERIDANS CHEESEMONGERS
On Churchyard St in Galway (beside St. Nicholas Church) you will find Galway food institution Sheridans Cheesemongers and above it Sheridans Wine Bar. Inside you will meet Seamus Sheridan, just as much of an institution as the shop itself perhaps!
After a browse in the shop, Seamus will take us through a tasting of some local West of Ireland cheeses (perhaps with a sup of wine to accompany) and a general chat about food in Galway and the history of Sheridans. The perfect thing to whet our appetites for a lovely Euro-Toques meal.
4pm approx. Make your way, via Dominick st, to MASSIMO, William Street
LOCAL FARM & CRAFT BEER DINNER – Eat @ MASSIMO
This part of town has become known as the West End and is famous for its bars and more recently its restaurants, thanks in no small part to the efforts of JP McMahon, who first opened Cava Restaurant on Dominick St 5 years ago, followed by the Michelin starred Aniar next door and later started doing the food at well-known pub Massimo further down the town. Since then a slew of new restaurants have opened in the area.
For this occasion, JP will be sourcing produce from Brady’s and The Friendly Farmer, as well as other regular local suppliers such as Castlemine Farm in Roscommon and Green Earth Organics in Galway to bring us a 3 course menu based on local farm produce. All of this will be lovingly washed down with beers from the Galway Hooker Brewery accompanied by chat from the brewers themselves.
We are making it an early evening casual supper, so that you can get on the road home again or set yourself up for a good night in Galway (and sure there’s always craic to be had in Galway!).
Hope you can join us for this interesting day out!!