Irish Speciality Foods Amongst the Very Best in the World
Irish-grown peppers, Irish hams, artisan dairy products, apple juice from an apple farm and two people who dedicated their lives to their craft have all received accolades at the Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards 2006.
Coveted Irish Food Writers’ Guild Awards have been presented to Keelings; Brady’s Family Ham; Glenilen Farm dairy products and Ballycross Apple Farm for the quality, excellence and consistency of their products, while Jack & Betty Hick received a Lifetime Achievement Award for their dedication to the production of traditional, handcrafted pork products and the passing on of their skills to the next generation of their family.
The Awards, now in their 12th year, honour food producers acknowledged for the excellent quality of their products. Nuala Cullen, Chairwoman of the Irish Food Writers Guild, said that those chosen for an award in 2006 demonstrated a standard of excellence that ranked Irish speciality foods amongst the very best in the world.
“This Awards presentation is the culmination of a year-long process. Only the members of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild are involved in the selection process. No person or product may nominate themselves. Throughout the year our members have many opportunities to meet food producers and sample products. Members nominate products and promote them at a members’ meeting held to agree a short-list. The product may be traditional or innovative. Although the product itself may be new to the market, the producer must have been trading for at least three years and the main ingredients must be of Irish origin. Finally, members gather for a tasting meeting at which each product (bought and paid for over the counter without the knowledge of the producer) is tasted and voted upon to arrive at agreed winners. In order to ensure that the wishes of the members are fairly reflected in the results we use the single transferable vote.”
The Awards, presented at a ceremony held at L’Ecrivain restaurant, were attended by many of Ireland’s leading food writers, restaurant critics, representatives from food agencies and food retailers. The award-winning products were served at a wonderful luncheon hosted by SallyAnne and Derry Clarke (the chef patron of L’Ecrivain), who took the award-winning foods, created recipes and a menu incorporating the winning products. Click here for recipes created by Derry Clarke for the 2006 awards lunch, showcasing the award winners.
About the Winners
Ballycross Apple Farm for their range of Artisan, Pure, Natural Fruit Juices (Wexford): Food Award
Ballycross Apple Farm and the Von Englebrechten family produce wonderful apple juices from handpicked fruit, grown in their own orchards in Bridgetown, South Wexford, and pressed by traditional methods. They specialise in producing single-variety apple juices, each with their own particular flavour. They also make blended apple juices and combinations of juices with apples combined with blackcurrants, with pear and with carrot, a mixture that is a favourite base for home smoothie makers.
Glenilen Farm for their range of Artisan Dairy Products (West Cork): Food Award
Glenilen Farm Dairy produces a range of fresh products made from milk produced on their own small dairy farm in Drimolegue, West Cork. It’s a family affair with Alan Kingston in charge of milk production and Valerie Kingston in charge of the production of an excellent range of products which includes clotted cream and double cream, a low fat cream cheese which she calls crème fraîche and quark, yoghurts (natural and probiotic) and a lovely variety flavoured with a fresh fruit compôte.
Brady Family Ltd, for the excellent quality of their Brady Family Hams (Kildare): Food Award
Brady Family Ltd produces a range of exceptionally succulent and flavoursome Irish hams. Owned by Bill O’Brien, the company combines traditional craft skills and the old Brady curing and cooking methods with modern standards of hygiene and quality control systems approved by the Food Safety Authority. Pork is sourced from Bord Bia approved suppliers and transformed into a range of products: whole hams (pale and, in the Irish tradition, naturally smoked using Irish oak). Some are left on the bone for hand-carving, while others are hand-boned to remove bone, fat and gristle without interfering with the natural muscle grain but allowing them to be machine sliced.
Keelings, for their production of quality Irish-grown Peppers (North County Dublin): Food Award
Keelings win their award for the production of quality, Irish grown peppers. A family company established 60 years ago on the family farm in St Margaret’s, Co Dublin, William Keeling’s growing skills were such that he became known as “the Strawberry King”. He also grew flowers, apples and mushrooms and in the 1960s built his first glass house for tomatoes. As the second generation, Joseph and his wife Mary, became involved, the company continued to develop and grows a wide variety of soft fruits: Bramley apples, salad leaves and other vegetables for the Irish market and for fresh food markets all over Europe.
Three members of the third generation of the family are now involved – Daughter Caroline Keeling is group managing director, son William is MD of the UK and son David is managing director of Farms.
Jack & Betty Hick for their dedication to the production of traditional handcrafted pork products and the passing on of their skills to the next generation of their family (Dublin): Lifetime Achievement Award
The Guild honours Jack and Betty Hick with a Lifetime Achievement Award for their dedication, in devoting the whole of their working lives to the production of traditional, hand-crafted pork products and, just as importantly, for the passing on of their traditional skills to the next generation of the family. This award acknowledges Jack and Betty’s achievement in passing down traditional German and Irish pork butchery and craft manufacturing skills and for preserving (and recording) highly important recipes that have become a part of the Irish/German tradition over the past 100 years – in particular the dry curing of bacon and hams, the manufacture of a variety of superb quality speciality sausages, traditional puddings, and wonderful Kassler.