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Ireland’s Leading Independent Food & Hospitality Guide
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without some sweet treats to hand round after dinner and you can’t beat good old fashioned fudge, made with pure butter.
It’s a nostalgic treat for many - not least Tomás Poil, the man behind the evocatively named Man of Aran Fudge.
Born on the small island of Inis Oirr on the Aran Islands, where there was no secondary school, his love of fudge all began with the treats his granny used to send him when he went away to school on the mainland.
He qualified in agriculture but, many years later, the time came when he needed an alternative to farming rented land. And inspiration came from those childhood memories, which he decided to share by recreating the treats he had enjoyed so much - and also, by selling them from a stall in the traditional way, at markets and shows, reliving the trading atmosphere of the old fairs.
Now based in County Meath, Tomás started to make fudge commercially in 1996 and he has since developed the concept to a point that must have seemed unimaginable at the start. He currently offers over 20 varieties - and counting - all handmade to the same high standard.
And, while fudge is definitely ‘the one’ for Tomás, he has permitted one other, equally nostalgic, sweet treat to take its place on his product list: real old-fashioned Turkish delight, flavoured with rosewater...
You can't miss him at markets and events such as Bloom and regional food festivals, where (unlike many traders, who erect stalls with little or no branding on them) his stall is invariably the most recognisably branded and simply leaps out from the crowd.
And there he'll be himself, selling award winners like Granny's Nutty Fudge and Irish Coffee Fudge, and many others - some of them, such as the Christmas Pudding Fudge are seasonal, while others like the Tiger Butter Fudge and Caramel Beurre Salé Fudge are not only delicious but have some curiosity value as well.
There is no limit to Tomás's imagination and energy - and this, plus the quality of his ingredients, including real Irish butter and fresh cream, are the secrets to Man of Aran's success.
• Meet Tomás at markets (Galway Continental Christmas Market, on Eyre Square, Galway City, runs until 22nd December 2016),
or buy online from here