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Now in its 21st year, the annual Irish Food Writers’ Guild (IFWG) Food Awards recognise homegrown producers, organisations or individuals, whilst also celebrating the heroes who have devoted – and are continuing to devote – their lives to supporting and promoting Irish food
Although Easter is just around the corner (and early this year) March is only the beginning of spring and it can be a very chilly month, when comfort food that makes the most of the remaining autumn and winter ingredients can be very welcome.
Well timed to hit the book shops just before St Patrick’s Day, Clodagh’s Irish Kitchen offers a nicely balanced collection of 150 upbeat traditional recipes presented with pzazz. more...
by Clodagh McKenna, with photography by Tara Fisher. Kyle Books, hardback, 256pp. RRP €25
Fish smoking has a long history in Ireland, with traditionally smoked fish a staple on our tables until relatively recently. It is still held in affection and many people have fond memories of locally smoked fish enjoyed on childhood holidays - all of which helps to create a positive mindset for contemporary shoppers when they see modern versions of these traditional foods on display, take note of their healthy eating credentials and (in the case of Atlantic Treasures mackerel) spot the familiar Great Taste Awards logo, which is a respected independent indication of quality.
Pork is one of our most traditional and most versatile foods and, while the introduction of refrigeration made a big change to attitudes as fresh pork was no longer seen as being ’just for winter’, there is something wonderfully comforting about it and many of the great pork dishes seem to have a secret ingredient that brings warmth to the chilliest of days.
Blood oranges are a variation of the familiar orange (Citrus x sinensis) with slightly reddish tones showing in the skin and deep, in some cases almost blood-red, flesh. They are grown mainly in Mediterranean countries and one, the Arancia Rossa di Sicilia ( the Red Orange of Sicily), has PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status.
What could be more comforting in the cold, dark days of late winter than hearty dishes based on the nation’s favourite vegetable, the spud. Or any dish with a lovely big, steaming baked potato on the side? Okay, strictly speaking it’s a tuber rather than a vegetable, but we all think of it and cook it like a vegetable.
What better food could there be to begin a new year than a comforting and healthy sausage. While sausages are an all-year food, they’re especially appealing in the early months when the weather can be harsh and comfort food is the order of the day, along with simple cooking and pocket-friendly prices. Add to that the feel-good factor of serving up a different kind of sausage, made with fresh fish, and you have a winner on your hands.
A member of the brassica (cabbage) family dating back to the 16th century or earlier, cauliflower is one of our healthiest and most versatile vegetables. With its white curdy head surrounded by a collar of green leaves, it is a lovely plant when freshly picked, yet it is widely undervalued - and that despite the fact that its image in some quarters has had an unexpected boost thanks to its rise to stardom in top restaurant kitchens of late.
Chef/restaurateur and academic Jp McMahon’s passion for all things Iberian is no secret and, of the terrific trio of Galway restaurants that he and his wife Drigin operate - the much-feted Aniar, Cava Bodega and EAT Gastropub - there’s always a feeling that his heart beats fastest for Cava. This book is certainly written from the heart and, like so many books with subtitles, therein lies its raison d’etre.