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At the 2016 Euro-Toques EirGrid Food Awards, held at Ballymaloe House, Co Cork, in June, it was pointed out that there are currently over 3,500 small to medium sized food businesses operating in Ireland
Ballymaloe - A Day in the Life, 24th June 2015, by Daphne Spillane; photography by Joleen Cronin and Leila Aldous (Trijar Publishing, hardback, 96pp; €25)
Following on the success of her first book, No-Bake Baking, it was only a matter of time before the impossibly talented and retro-stylish Sharon Hearne-Smith topped it with an even better one, and the time has come - enter The No-Cook Cookbook (Quercus Books, €24.99/£20.00; also available in Kindle, £13.99; Foreword by Donal Skehan).
The first new potatoes are always a joy but, long after the first earlies have had their moment, other varieties are coming on stream. Since potatoes are available all year, it's easy to forget that they all have a new season and in late summer that means the second earlies - especially Queens, in all their variations: Dublin Queens, Rush Queens or just plain Queens...they're all 'British Queens' going local.
Wade Murphy - recent Commissioner General of Euro-Toques Ireland and former head chef in several prestigious kitchens - planned a move away from fine dining when he had his own restaurant.
It's fair to say that garlic scapes are a pretty new concept to most Irish cooks, but they came to everyone's attention in a big way when they famously featured on Donal and Sofie Skehan's wedding menu in June 2015
Vegetarian or not, many of us are now choosing to eat less meat ('less but better', perhaps) and more plant-based protein. Aside from the health and environmental arguments, one of the great advantages for the cook is that is that it opens up a whole new way of thinking about cooking.
Paul Dempsey and Pauline Roe’s almost-Shannonside bar and restaurant has a lovely olde world feeling with dark wood, bric-à-brac and prints and, unusually, it doubles as an art gallery, so original artwork adds interest and charm. But the good food served is the main draw for most of the regulars, and visitors who pile in off their cruisers for dinner or plan a stop when driving out west or heading home after the weekend are sure of a good meal.
Could 2016 be the year when we finally earn our stripes as ‘the food island’? There are still plenty of bad meals to be found in Ireland and foods that don’t deserve the name, but in many ways things have improved dramatically in recent years and there’s a sense of sea change in the air.
Raw: Recipes For a Modern Vegetarian Lifestyle by Solla Eiríksdóttir Published by Phaidon; hardback, 240 pp, 100 specially commissioned photographs; £24.95/€34.95.