Food File: The weekly food news round-up


Lessons in cooking organic
If you’ve ever wondered if organic produce really does taste different – and if it’s worth the extra expense – the inaugural National Organic Food Fair in Marlay Park, Dublin 16 tomorrow (10.30am-4.30pm) is the place to find out. There will be organic food vendors and lots of free tastings, as well as cookery demonstrations with Clodagh McKenna at 12.30pm and 2pm, using Irish organic produce, and a full day’s programme of seminars, talks and workshops.

Skehan to star on screen and stage
Donal Skehan has just published what is undoubtedly his best book, Homecooked (Harper Collins, £18.99). It’s one of those books that every time you turn a page, your dinner plans change, and a lot of that is down to Skehan’s superlative food photography. He has been in Italy for the past two months, filming Grandma’s Boy for Fox, and next month he will tour Ireland with a cooking and family entertainment show called Kitchen Hero:HomeCooked. For dates and venues, see

All roads led to Dingle . . .
Dingle is magical at any time of year, but last weekend the Co Kerry town was at its very best as thousands of visitors joined the Dingle Food & Wine Festival’s Taste Trail, in which more than 70 businesses participated. Unlike some food festivals, Dingle keeps things accessible. Armed with a book of 10 taste tickets (costing €22), you could dine very well and drink good wine too.

Big draw of the day was Michelin-starred chef Derry Clarke’s Dingle mutton pies, which he hand-glazed (all 500 of them) and baked off in the back room of his friend the artist Liam O’Neill’s gallery.

The tasting plates offered by the Chart House and Out Of The Blue restaurants were also popular, and great value at just €4. The Chart House’s selection: Brandon Bay crab and shrimp; Lispole rocket pesto, Annascaul black pudding, apple chutney turnover; and Five Mile Town goat’s cheese tartlet with red onion jam, gazpacho sauce, sold out in record time. Fenton’s restaurant’s mini Dexter burgers with caramelised onions were also a highlight.

Maja Binder had a constant stream of customers at her raclette stand outside The Little Cheese Shop, queuing for the hot melted cheese on sourdough bread, served with gherkins. For dessert you could pick up a cheesecake made with Binder’s homemade cream cheese.

Babyfood cleans up
Shauna McCarney, a mother of two whose third child is due in a couple of weeks, was rewarded for her long trip from Tyrone to Dingle for the Blas na hÉireann awards when her Heavenly Tasty Organics range of chilled and frozen baby foods took gold, silver and bronze, and the Enterprise Ireland best export opportunity award. McCarney, who launched her company in 2011 and now runs it along with her husband James, developed her recipes based on what she fed her own children at home, and upscacled the recipes with help from Loughry College. Tesco and Dunnes Stores nationwide will be stocking the chilled meals.

Smokin hot duck from Sheaghanore
Eugene and Helena Hickey took the Best Artisan award for their Skeaghanore oak-smoked breast of duck, winner in a hotly-contested charcuterie class that saw On The Wild Side’s Kerry chorizo take silver, and Coopershill House smoked venison, reared on the Co Sligo estate and smoked in Dún Laoghaire by Ed Hick, in third place. The Hickeys spent a year perfecting their smoked duck before launching this summer. It is smoked by Polish butcher Mariusz Lampart in Little Island, Cork.

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