Who made all the pies . . .
FOOD FILE:“If you find yourself in a meeting sitting opposite a big buyer and they suggest you compromise your quality, close your briefcase and walk out.”
Peter Ward, one of the patrons of the Blas na hÉireann Irish Food Awards had those words of advice for Úna Martin (pictured), winner of the Bord Bia supreme champion title in Dingle last weekend for her range of savoury pies which took gold, silver and bronze in their class, for the second year running.
Having tasted the roasted vegetable with goat’s cheese and chorizo pie from the Úna’s Pies range, I’d be inclined to agree. Gubeen chorizo, Ardsallagh goat’s cheese, and roasted squash, pepper, tomato and red onion siting on a shortcrust base with a puff pastry top makes a very good pie indeed, but only good enough for silver at the awards this year. Martin’s whitewash of the prizes was headed by her chicken, leek and cheese pie, with her green Thai chicken curry taking the bronze.
The urban planning and sustainable development graduate formulated her business plan while travelling in Australia. “I knew I had to come home with a plan as there weren’t any jobs in planning,” she says. Two years on and she is turning out 1,500 pies a week from a business incubation unit in Ballincollig, with the help of one other cook and a cleaner.
The pies sell for €5 each and are available at farmers’ markets at Mahon Point (Thursday), and Douglas and Midleton (Saturday), as well as in delis, butcher shops and cafes in the Cork/Kerry region.
More than 2,000 food products were entered for the Blas awards this year, and the shortlist of almost 300 were tasted and evaluated by a team of 40 judges to find winners in 50 categories. The full list of winners is online at irishfoodawards.com.
Smorgasbord of gourmet delights in Dingle
Where in the world can you buy barbecued kangaroo on the street, watch a cookery demonstration in a church, do a wine tasting in a crystal shop, and discuss food memories while sitting on a double decker bus?
The Dingle Food Wine Festival, incorporating the Blas na hÉireann food awards, is the Glastonbury of food festivals, and last weekend the Co Kerry town was thronged with revellers enjoying the festival programme in sunshine.
The Taste Trail, a food safari meandering through 64 outlets in the town was terrific fun. Seafood, crepes, burgers, pies, pancakes, raclette, pizza, ice cream and cake could be sampled at knockdown prices, and one of the most popular was the tasting plate at seafood restaurant Out of the Blue, where just two taste tickets (€2 each) bought you a trio of fishy dishes from one of the best kitchens in town. For dessert, you could don a fetching hairnet and apron and scoop your own ice cream cone at Murphy’s.
In St James’s Church (where Other Voices is recorded), London-based cook, writer and blogger Niamh Shields, originally from Dungarvan, and Norwegian Signe Johansen headlined a line-up of cookery demos. Shields shared her trademark Spaghetti Corkese recipe, made with black pudding rather than minced meat, and Johansen talked about why she loves to visit Ireland – as well as knocking up a duo of stylish open sandwiches using local seafood.
There was food for thought across the road at the Big Blue Bus, where Aoife Carrigy organised a fascinating line-up of intimate chats with personalities well known in the food world, on the theme of food memories. If you haven’t visited this food festival before, put it in your diary for next year, it’s terrific.
The winners of the Blog Awards Ireland 2012 will be revealed tonight at an awards ceremony in Naas, Co Kildare. Shortlisted in the food and drink category are edibleireland.com; foodbelfast.com; donalskehan.com; wisewords.ie; bakefortheborder.com; likemamusedtobake.com, and nessasfamilykitchen.blogspot.ie. The last named is written by Nessa Robins, who is the latest member of the Irish food blogging fraternity to bag a book publishing deal. Her cook book debut, ‘Apron Strings’, will be published by New Island in April 2013.
THE BUZZ: Top food tweets . . .
Eamonn OReilly @EamonnOReilly: No show tables again tonight at the Greenhouse. It’s destroying our business. Please a phone call is all it takes to cancel a booking.
David Llewellyn @DavidsOrchard:Still some places on cider-making course: Equipment, apples, pressing, fermenting, maturing, bottling, tasting. Sat 20th Oct.
Joe Fitzmaurice @Cloughwoodfired:Want some of that #BlasnahEireann #RealIrishbread #Sourdough. Be @BlazingSalads in the morning