So yesterday was a fabulous day. Up at 5 am (not so fabulous) for the early train to Dublin. Arrived at Suesey Street restaurant in Dublin at 10.00 , set up a yogurt display, photos at 10.45, and then got to mingle with the good and the great of Irish food writing and media. This is because we have been awarded an Irish Food Writers Guild award for 2023 alongside some amazing other food producers.
We then had the most amazing lunch including an Amuse Bouche of Smoked Lough Neagh Eel, Velvet Cloud Yogurt Mousse with Dill and a dessert of Lemon Cheese Cream with Velvet Cloud Sheep’s Milk Granita, Shortbread and Mago Ginger Gel, a creation by chef Denis Lasenko.
I was sitting at a table with chef JP McMahon of Michelin start restaurant Aniar fame and Cava in Galway.
JP has been a supporter since week one and does everything he can to support Irish producers. I met lots of my food heroes: celebrity chef Donal Skehan who is just as lovely in the flesh as on screen. James Kavanagh Presenter and Podcaster and William Murray of Currabinny Cookbook and food truck fame. Darina Allen from Ballymaloe still smiling and encouraging us all. Manuela Spinelli from Eurotoque Ireland and Declan Coppinger from Bord Bia The Irish Food Board.
There were also so many wonderful food writers from the guild, including Caroline Hennessy, Leslie Wiliams, Aoife Carrigy and Kate Ryan. The best bit though is always meeting fellow friends and food producers and swapping stories, this time I was blessed among fellow cheese makers Gabriel Faherty and Mark Wright.
The full list of awards is as follows:
The winners of the 2023 Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards are:
- Food Award: Smoked Lough Neagh Eel, Co Antrim
- Food Award: Velvet Cloud Sheep's Milk Yogurt, Co Mayo
- Food Award: Ballylisk of Armagh, Co Armagh
- Irish Drink Award: Beoir Chorcha Dhuibhne for Béal Bán, Co Kerry
- Notable Contribution to Irish Food: Gabriel Faherty, Aran Island Goats’ Cheese, Co Galway
- Environmental Award: The Wooded Pig, Co Meath
- Community Food Award: Field of Dreams - Down Syndrome Cork, Co Cork
- Lifetime Achievement Award: Kevin and Seamus Sheridan, Co Galway
At the presentation a little piece about each winner was read out by the hilarious Ross Golden Bannon. Kate Ryan wrote about Velvet Cloud
There’s something ethereal about Velvet Cloud Sheep’s Milk Yogurt. “Nothing added, nothing strained away,” the label says, just the pure, natural goodness of sheep’s milk from an almost 400-strong flock on the Flanagan family farm near Claremorris, Co Mayo. Nutritionally, it punches above its weight with a higher-than-average protein yield, alongside probiotics and live cultures. Eaten on its own, the yogurt is a pleasure in itself, but it performs magical things in sauces, marinades, drinks, bakes and desserts.
Meanwhile back at the farm poor Michael is burning the candle at both ends because lambing has started again, and we are short staffed in production. The most junior shepherd is doing the last lamb check around midnight, because transition year for him means there is less stress on academia, at the moment. The next shepherd has just come out of leaving cert mocks and is also doing driving lessons, so lets just say stress levels are high. Junior shepherd #2 is preparing for university finals, but off for two week from next week so she’s coming back then to put on the wellies. Junior shepherd number 1 is in full time employment (lucky him !) so can’t really be here, but I have him booked for a session on improving something technical on the website at the weekend. So while I am swanning around in posh restaurants they’re doing the hard graft, this award as they say at the Oscars, is for them, my heroes. Lets hope now for us all it turns into some extra sales.