Is there no end to Graham Norton's talents? The TV presenter and author also has a hands-on involvement with winemaking. Sales of a sauvignon from New Zealand, a shiraz from Australia and a prosecco, all carrying the GN Wines label, topped three million bottles last year.
Now he has turned his hand to gin, and his special blend is being made by West Cork Distillers in Skibbereen, near his Irish home. The gin is made with Irish grain and gets its flavour from a combination of 12 botanicals including lemon peel, orange peel, elderflower, rose hip, and fuchsia flowers.
Graham Norton’s Own Gin is exclusive to SuperValu and costs €39.
A Drogheda pig farmer has hit upon a way of packing more flavour into the meat he produces, to address consumer concerns that commercially produced Irish pork is bland and tough.
Colin Marry, a business and economics graduate with a master's in agricultural economics, has been feeding his pigs Greek olive pulp, a by-product of olive-oil production, as well as spent rape and flax seed from his neighbouring farmer Jack Rogers, who makes Newgrange Gold oils. The result, he says, is pork that tastes "remarkably different".
Some Spanish pigs feast on acorns before being turned into jamón ibérico de bellota and studies have shown that acorns are high in oleic acid, the same chemical which can be found in olives. So, taking inspiration from that, Marry began giving the Greek feedstuff to some of his pigs in December 2017.
The difference in the taste of the meat was considerable: “It was unexpected how much of an effect it had.”
He sent it to be tested in the UK, and lab reports showed that it had elevated levels of both oleic acid and Omega 3, from the rape and flax seeds.
Marry, whose father started the farming enterprise in 1960 with just two pigs, describes his business as “a commercial, intensive farm” which turns out 400 pigs a week. “I don’t try to hide that,” he says.
The farm operates within the Bord Bia Quality Assured Scheme.
He has established a supply chain for his OlivePork and OliveHam products through Michael Bermingham of MK Meats, and also has a delivery van on the road.
Stockists include branches of Donnybrook Fair, and independent butchers on the east coast. See olivepork.ie for a full list of stockists and to order online.
Kinsale Restaurant Week
Just €20 will buy a two-course dinner at any of the 11 restaurants that are members of the Kinsale Good Food Circle, during the town’s inaugural Restaurant Week (February 18-24th).
The town runs three annual food events, with the others being its Gourmet Festival, which in October celebrates its 43rd year, and the National Chowder Cook Off in April.
The restaurants taking part are Fishy Fishy; The Bulman; White Lady Hotel; Finns' Table; The Blue Haven; Actons Hotel; Jim Edwards; The White House; the Trident Hotel; The Supper Club; and Man Friday.
Food breaks in Rosslare
Kelly's Resort Hotel & Spa in Rosslare, Co Wexford launches its popular spring midweek activity breaks series on February 15th. TV presenter and cookery-school owner Catherine Fulvio is hosting the cookery activities this year (February 24th-March 1st), and the wine appreciation (March 3rd-8th) is in the hands of Samuel Baron of Domaine Baron in Touraine, Eric de Suremain of Château de Monthelie, and Richard Kelley MW, who will lead explorations of the wines of South Africa and of France.
The five-day midweek rate including breakfast, lunch, dinner and the activities, is €645 per person, with a four-night option for €545. See kellys.ie.