The top 20 best Irish foods to watch out for in 2015
Every year I ask a question on Twitter, "What was your best Irish Food find of the year?" I get hundreds of replies from food lovers all over Ireland and this year was no exception.
I collate all the suggestions for great new foods from all over Ireland on a spreadsheet and from that I create the “Top 20 Best Irish Foods to Watch Out For in 2015” list.
There have been an amazing amount of new food businesses set up over the last year and many new products are being developed by small producers all over the Island of Ireland. Many established small food producers have also been streamlining their product offering and expanding their lines. People are testing their foods at country markets and farmers markets and getting great feedback from customers, chefs and restaurants. This obviously helps them bring a better product to market for us to enjoy.
This year, people tweeted about old-style butters, artisan bakers, flavored vinegars, innovative seafood, hand-dried salts, top quality meats, hand-made confectionery, unusual dips and chutneys, honeys, crisps, foraged foods, and much more.
One new food product, above all others, received the most mentions. I'll save that to last.
And so, here are the top 20 best Irish foods to watch out for in 2015 as voted for by the food lovers on Twitter, all over Ireland:
Tartine Organic Bakery - County Dublin
Food lover and artisan baker Thibault Peigne is passionate about baking bread and uses the finest organic ingredients and traditional methods. He has created Tartine Organic Bakery to make freshly baked sourdough breads, French pastries, and cakes.
Improper Butter - County Dublin
This is a range of improperly delicious, Irish flavored butters that inspire creativity at mealtimes. These ingenious butters are made by Elaine Lavery and Hannah O'Reilly.
Wild About Foods - County Wexford
Fiona and Malcom Falconer produce a wide range of artisan chutneys, preserves, syrups, seasoning rubs, cocktail bases, and wild pestos made from foraged and homegrown ingredients. They specialize in native wild ingredients like nettles, hips, haws, sloes, damsons, elderberries, crab apples, rowan berries, guilderose, and whatever else is in season.
Goatsbridge Trout - County Kilkenny
Fresh trout, smoked trout, trout pate, trout caviar, and more are all farmed, processed and produced on the banks of the Little Arrigle River, by the family of Mags and Ger Kirwan. They have a passion for trout, which comes across in the quality of their product.
The Wild Irish Foragers & Preservers - County Offaly
Sharon and Gordon Greene create wild syrups, sauces, fruit cheeses, pontack, and more homemade to old recipes using hand-picked ingredients from their Millhouse Farm near Birr, County Offaly.
Abernethy Butter - County Down
Alison and Will Abernethy make handmade butter from local cream, handmade in churns the traditional way and patted into rolls. It is creamy and slightly salty to give a luxurious creamy taste. They also make fudge.
Broughgammon Farm Kid Goat - County Antrim
Broughgammon Farm produce cabrito (kid goat meat), free range rose veal, seasonal game and hand harvested Irish seaweeds. Their ethos is to produce great food locally, sustainably, and competitively while balancing the growing requirements for food production with environmental protection.
Rebel Chilli Hot Sauces - County Cork
Ken and Paul Moore's award winning 'Red Chilli with Lemongrass and Ginger' is a crowd favorite and the Cork-based Rebel Chilli range also includes the fantastically hot 'Chillionaire' and the sweet 'Jalapeno and Raspberry Jelly.'
Irish Bee Sensations - County Cork
Tom and Croéin Ruttle are multi-award-winning producers of artisan honey and jams made only with their own Irish raw honey. They have a passion for their bees and for the reintroduction of the native Irish bee.
Achill Island Sea Salt - County Mayo
Achill Island Sea Salt was founded as a family business by Kieran, Marjorie, and Sean O'Malley in July 2013, reviving the age old tradition of salt production on Achill Island, creating a sustainable and pure artisan product, which has received critical acclaim from chefs and cooks alike for its appearance, texture and taste.
Le Fournil Bakery - County Donegal
In 2007, French chef Franck Pasquier retired from restaurant kitchens to set up Le Fournil Artisan Bakery in Donegal Town and Sligo. He bakes superb sourdough breads, chocolate patisserie items, tarts, croissants and much more. He also supplies Clotilde Rambaud and Tomasz Giderewicz at Le Fournil, in Sligo.
Killowen Farm Yogurts - County Wexford
The Dunne family has been farming in Enniscorthy for nine generations. Their award-winning yogurts are gluten free, low in sugar, naturally low fat and contain no artificial additives. Everyone says they taste great!
Soul Soup - County Dublin
Lloyd Hamilton-Felton wanted to bring the healthiest and tastiest soups possible to soup lovers all over Ireland. He is now supplying some of Dublin's best artisan cafés and health shops.
Keoghs Farm Crisps - County Dublin
Keoghs Farm says they produce Ireland’s only “hand cooked on the farm” artisan potato crisps. The family has been farming their potatoes for over 100 years and their crisps have become a favorite at home and abroad.
John Stone Beef - County Longford
John Stone comes from a very long line of butchers and has been at the forefront of gourmet meat production for almost 50 years. His meats come from small manageable farms and he believes that the natural lifestyle of the cattle gives his meat it's unique and delicious flavor.
The Foods of Athenry - County Galway
The old milking parlor on the Lawless family farm is now the bakery where they bake wheat and spelt soda breads and bread mixes, scones, cakes and pies as well as a range of gluten-free breakfast cereals, cookies, crackers, flapjacks, and cakes.
Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms - County Limerick
Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms produce a wide range of foraged and cultivated specialty mushrooms and also a selection of handmade artisanal mushroom products. However, it was their shiitake dust which caught the imagination of so many people this year. This powdered Irish shiitake mushroom delivers delicious buttery and umami notes making it perfect for seasoning meat, fish, vegetables, gravies, soups, and sauces.
Toons Bridge Buffalo Cheeses - County Cork
The first Toons Bridge buffalo calves arrived in the early spring of 2011 but their buffalo mozzarella took almost two years to perfect. A joint venture between Toby Simmonds of the Real Olive Co. and his neighboring farmer Johnny Lynch, the dairy is now producing buffalo mozzarella balls, feta cheese, parmigiano reggiano, pecorino sardo distintu, ricotta, a buffalo Greek style and a Zamora Spanish sheep's cheese. And Ireland loves it all!
Silver Darlings Herring - County Limerick
Kirsti O’Kelly pickles Irish herrings according to traditional family recipes handed down from her mother and grandmother in her native Finland. She marinates the fish in a combination of mild vinegars and spices which dissolve the herring bones and keep the integrity of the fish flesh allowing it to take on the subtle flavors of aromatic spices like mustard seeds, sandalwood, cinnamon, bay leaves, cloves, pink peppercorns and fresh herbs such as dill, tarragon and coriander.
And the Best Irish Food to Watch Out For in 2015 as voted by the Irish Public, via Twitter, is...
Wild Wood Vinegars, Rathlacken, Ballina, County Mayo
Fionntan Gogarty is an artist, vinegar producer, a lover of fine food, poetry and the wild rugged west of Ireland, an organic farmer, a dry-stone-waller, a beachcomber and an innovator. He is indeed all of these things!
Wildwood Vinegars, based in the little village of Rathlackin, near Ballina in County Mayo, are a unique range of foraged wild fruit, herb, berry and blossom infused vinegars that unlock the hidden magic of nature's flavors and essences. Fionntan has only been producing them for less than a year but already they have been received with rapturous delight by all who have tasted them and have won several awards.
The fruity and flavorful vinegars are used for sauces, salad dressings, marinades, desserts and chilled as an alternative to sorbet or even added to soda-water for a refreshing soft drink.
If ever there was a product that gives you a true taste of the best of Ireland, Fionntan Gogarty's Wildwood Vinegars are just that! It's no wonder that so many people all over Ireland tweeted that this product was their Best Irish Food Find of the year.
Congrats to Fionntan and everyone else that made to Top 20 Best Irish Foods to Watch Out For in 2015. We look forward to another great year for Irish food
You can Follow Zack on Twitter at @IrishFoodGuide.