Lidl’s latest offering: An Iberian Feast with their Sol&Mar range

Lidl have launched a new range of Iberian cuisine, Sol&Mar, that will be available in stores nationwide for a one week promotion from the 21st to 27th July.

Dubbed their “Iberian Feast”, the range encapsulates dishes from Spain and Portugal, who are  famous for seafood, as well as using spices that reflect African and New World influences.

The Sol&Mar range features an abundance of tapas including Spanish Potatoes Pastas Bravas (€1.29), Assorted Tapas already in their own attractive serving bowls (€3.99), Manchego Cheese Corners (€3.49) and the fresh and exotic Vannamei Prawns (€8.99).

Lidl Patatas Bravas €1.29

Additional easy to serve nibbles include a selection of Spanish hams such as Gran Reserva Sliced Ham (€1.99), dry cured for 16 months this is the best Serrano ham around and Pata Negra Ham (€2.49) which is exceptional quality as it has been dry cured for more than 20 months.

Also available is Spain’s most famous cured spicy meat, Chorizo, including Pamplona Chorizo Slices 2 pack (€1.99) as well as additional nibbles like Black Olives Cacerena (€0.99) and Green Olives Manzanilla (€2.49).

For those who love seafood, the Sol&Mar fresh Hake Fillets with Spicy Spanish Salsa (€3.49) and Sea bass Fillet with Zesty Mediterranean Lemon (€3.99).

Lidl will also have sharp and zesty Spanish wines available such as Pyrene Chardonnay 2013 Somontano (€8.99).

Prices for wines range from €7.99 to €14.99.

Additional household items including Spanish pottery (small €7.99 or large €9.99) and a Paella Pan (€9.99) will also go on sale to complete the Iberian theme.

The Sol&Mar Iberian promotion will run from Monday 21st July until Sunday 29th July (inclusive) with items available while stocks last.

“Quacking” good duck: The latest in store at Aldi

Fancy an alternative to chicken? Why not try some duck.

Aldi have Silver Hill Aromatic Duck Breast Fillets (€5.00 / 350g), now available across their 108 stores nationwide.

Fresh from the Steele family farm in Emyvale, Co. Monaghan, these award-winning duck breast fillets are 100% Irish and fully traceable from farm to fork.

The ducks at Silver Hill are hand-reared and fed on a natural diet, without any additives, resulting in meat that is succulent, tender and full of flavour.

The boneless fillets are also quick to cook and particularly suited to fruit or piquant glazes, so you can cook up a simple duck dish in minutes – roasted, sautéed, braised or barbecued, the choice is yours.

Silver Hill Duck Breast Fillets

Tips for tasting chocolate on July 7th’s World Chocolate Day

One for the chocoholics of Ireland – July 7th officially marks the day where you can happily gorge yourself on chocolate guilt free, because it’s World Chocolate Day!

Skelligs Chocolate

So whether you love favour white, milk or dark chocolate or prefer the traditional chocolate bar over a rich gooey chocolate brownie – Skelligs chocolate has you covered (being from Kerry – I can confirm that it does taste delicious).

Below, Skelligs Chocolate share their top tips for tasting chocolate:

  • Make sure you’re somewhere you won’t get distracted
  • Store your chocolate in a cool, dry place, never in the fridge and serve at room temperature.
  • Begin with the chocolate with the lowest percentage of cocoa and work your way up.
  • Clear your palate between each piece of chocolate egg with water and lime – make sure nothing gets in the way of tasting your chocolate!
  • Break (don’t cut) your piece off. The ‘snap’ indicates the quality of your chocolate. The cleaner the better!
  • Bite a piece off the chunk. You’re allowed a few chews (to release the flavours), but don’t swallow!
  • Place at top of tongue as here lie most of the taste buds.
  • Let the chocolate melt a little then push the piece to the roof of your mouth and rub your tongue along it.
  • How does the chocolate feel? A great chocolate should be silky with a smooth, cool dissolve.
  • Savour each aroma. You should taste them in the following order – Cocoa with a hint of caramel, nuts, coffee and fruit.
  • As the chocolate leaves your mouth, it should leave you with a pleasant finish. The finish shows the true flavour of the chocolate as others aromas may have been masking it beforehand. Does it leave you wanting more or does it make you want to wash it away with water?
  • Finally, and most importantly ENJOY.

(Image via Wikimedia Commons/David Leggett and Skelligs)

My fascination with food stems from survival – and video games

One of the most unusual reasons why I love food so much, apart from the pure joy of preparing it, is my fascination with survival.

I’m a geek at heart, and when it comes to gaming I love to immerse myself in a world where I have to fend for myself and survive in the wilderness (hat-tip Minecraft and Lost in Blue).

Food plays such an important part of our existence and sometimes I like to imagine what it would be like to have to come up with a food source and construct a make-shift shelter.

Could I survive? I’m not talking about running to a supermarket and raiding it clean, but what could I actually make from the most basic of ingredients, straight from the wild?

Despite what a lot of post-apocalyptic games and books lead you to believe, often times it’s not about what’s in store, but what’s in your backyard. And wild food can be just as delicious as anything found on shelves.

Growing up in Kerry I was spoiled for choice when it came to trying out nature’s finest and I would rarely give up the opportunity to try something that was on the doorstep.

Periwinkles, sea spinach, samphire, elderflower and wild garlic became regular features on my foraging adventures and I’d always wonder about what else the world had to offer.

I adored, and still do love putting on wellies and traipsing through fields – consulting my books on edible plants and get an even bigger kick creating something with them (elderflower is currently in season too!).

I can safely say that video gaming and post-apocalyptic literature contributed to my love of food.

Survival will always be one of the main reasons why I pursued my interests and I think that’s what’ll keep me going in years to come.

Consider what Ireland’s outdoors has to offer – you won’t be disappointed.

Gluten and wheat free range now available at Aldi

Aldi have announced a HAS NO… range that includes foods such as cakes, cereals, breads, biscuits and pasta for coeliacs.

Specially developed for those with a gluten or wheat intolerance, the range consists of everyday essential groceries and delicious sweet treats.

The new range at Aldi includes HAS NO… Gluten & Wheat Free Cornflakes (€1.99 / 350g) and HAS NO… Gluten & Wheat Free Fusilli (€1.49 / 500g) which is 100% corn pasta shaped and suited to rich meat or ricotta based sauces.

Also included in Aldi’s new range are the HAS NO… Gluten & Wheat Free Wholegrain Rolls (€1.99 / 3 pack) and Aldi’s HAS NO… Gluten & Wheat Free White Baps (€1.99 / 3 pack), perfect for picnics, packed lunches or summer barbecues.

Aldi’s HAS NO… Gluten & Wheat Free Loaf (€1.99 / 400g) is soft, fresh and available in either a white loaf or multi-grain loaf which is perfect for a lunchtime sandwich.

As well as that for those with a sweet tooth, HAS NO… Gluten & Wheat Free Muffins (€1.99 / 2 pack) are available in citrusy lemon or delicious chocolate and make a tempting treat and HAS NO… Gluten & Wheat Free Queen Cakes (€1.99 / 165g), which contain a mixture of plain and chocolate flavour topped cakes.

Why not enjoy a slice of Aldi’s HAS NO…Gluten & Wheat Free Madeira Cake (€2.49 / 320g) with a cup of tea?

You can also choose from variety of biscuits from Aldi including:

  • HAS NO… Gluten & Wheat Free Milk Chocolate Digestives (€1.49 / 200g)
  • HAS NO… Gluten & Wheat Free Digestives (€1.49 / 170g)
  • HAS NO… Gluten & Wheat Free Ginger Cookies (€1.49 / 150g)
  • HAS NO… Gluten & Wheat Free Jammy Rings (€1.49 / 200g)
  • HAS NO… Gluten & Wheat Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (€1.49 / 150g)

Lidl’s Italiamo range is back by popular demand

Lidl have announced that their Italiamo range of Italian food will be back in stores nationwide from Monday, 7th July, while stocks last.

From cured meats and stonebaked pizzas, to fresh pasta, classic Italian meatballs and desserts, the new range features quality meats and sliced hams, like Prosciutto Crudo (€1.99), Milano Salami (€2.99) and Mortadella Bologna (€2.49) (Serve with juicy green olives (€2.49), warm focaccia bread and Garlic Dipping Oil (€1.79).

meatballs

Succulent Mediterranean-Style Meatballs (€2.79) and spaghetti, will also be available in stores, along with crisp white wine, like Frascati DOP 2013 (€6.99).

If you’re more of a pizza lover, stonebaked pizzas will be available in a variety of flavours, including Spicy Arrabbiata (€2.49), Creamy Goat’s Cheese with Spinach and Caramelised Onion (€3.99) and Serrano ham, Spicy Salami & Spanish Chorizo Sausage (€3.99).

pizza

Pasta lovers can also rejoice, as the Italiamo range includes a variety of delicious, fresh pastas, including Spinach Pasta (€1.49), Pennoni Giganti (€1.79) and fresh tomato and paprika-flavoured Tagliolini Pasta (€1.49).

tagli2

A light and delicate dessert like the Sicilian Lemon Ice-Cream (€1.49) or Raspberry Tartufo (€1.79) is perfect for balmy summer evenings.

Choose from a selection of Italiamo traditional Italian ice-creams in a variety of flavours (€2.49), like pistachio, lime & raspberry and amaretto cream.

icecreamrasp

For those who prefer a more luxurious after-dinner treat, Strawberry Tiramisu (€1.79) comes in individual dishes.

For the perfect finale to your meal, shoppers can enjoy a cup of Italian-style coffee (€7.99), followed by a glass of Limoncino Lemon Liqueur (€12.99) or Crema & Caffè Macchiato (€14.99).

Three-quarters of Irish older people are overweight or obese

According to the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing, three-quarters of Irish older people are overweight or obese – a statistic that worries ARI.

Active Retirement Ireland is a national network of over 570 local older people’s clubs comprising more than 24,500 members and last month they launched a campaign to encourage older people to cook for themselves and to eat balanced meals.

Backed by Bluebird Care, the campaign is fronted by TV chef Gary O’Hanlon, who won the Georgina Campbell Restaurant of the Year award for 2014, and is supported by Garrett Fitzgerald of Brother Hubbard café in Dublin and food blogger Nollaig Bourke of Fascination Food.

“Working with Healthy Ireland and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine over the last few years, we have seen that for many older people, old age can be a time when they pay less attention to what they’re eating” said Peter Kavanagh, Information & Networking Officer of ARI.

The problem can be made worse, said Kavanagh, by personal history.

“Many older people would have grown up eating balanced diets without even realising it. Now, in an age when processed food is so readily available, many older people are taking the easy option and their diets are suffering.”

“With so many older people overweight or obese, it’s incredibly important that we encourage older people to cook healthy and nutritious meals for themselves,” said Kavanagh.

“Above all, we want people to enjoy their food.”

The campaign kicked off with a competition to find Active Retirement Ireland’s best recipe and as part of the new initiative, a TV3 show aimed at finding classic homecooked recipes is also in the works.

You can get in contact with them on their website here.

(Image courtesy of ARI)

Food Works: Ireland’s Entrepreneurs Creating a Recipe for Success

New and innovative food and drink products are soon to be launched by some of Ireland’s most creative entrepreneurs.

Participating in Food Works, a training and development programme run by Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and Teagasc, the new products include dairy-free ice-cream, biodegradable gum, sustainable seafood butter and premium Irish vodka.

Food Works was established in 2012 and was set up to identify a export-orientated entrepreneurs who want to be part of Ireland’s growing food and drink industry.

As part of a series of workshops and one-to-one mentoring, successful entrepreneurs were offered practical business advice that was required to develop their concert into a world-class food product with great export potential.

Just some of Food Works success stories

(2012/2013)

Elivar, the world’s first range of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals tailored specifically for athletes and active sports people over 35 years of age participated in the inaugural Food Works programme.

The company, owned and managed by Donal Hanrahan and Len Dunne, has since secured investment through Enterprise Ireland and the Halo Business Angel Partnership and is currently focusing on sales in the UK market.

* * *

IASC (Atlantic Seafood Company of Ireland), a Cork based company who produce a range of Irish shellfish butters using Irish mussels, brown crabmeat and wild foraged Dillisk seaweed, also participated in the programme.

Branded as the world’s first Umami butter, IASC’s versatile products are used as traditional butters and / or a natural flavour-enhancer and ingredient for fish dishes, steak, risottos and chowder etc. In addition to listings with 30 Musgrave’s outlets nationwide, the products are currently used by more than 300 foodservice outlets and restaurants across the UK and Ireland. IASC also received EI HPSU investment.

* * *

The award winning Orpens Cider is the brainchild of Matthew Tindall and Chris Hill, two former wine industry professionals and another Food Works success story. Orpens completed the programme in 2013 and following a successful initial trial, in February this year they secured a listing with 65 Tesco stores nationwide, growing their presence in the Irish market.

They have recently secured a distributor in the UK and the export market is now the key priority for them.

(2014)

Included in this year’s programme are: Patrick Shelley, founder of Origin Spirits and formerly Commercial Director LVMH Moët Hennessy Russia is launching a new upper premium Irish vodka for international markets; Robert and Louise Doyle from Irepak, the company behind a new non-fat gluten free greek yogurt with high protein content aimed at active men; Simon Lynch and Quincey Fennelly, co-founders of Wicklow Wolf craft beers and Liam Ryan and Eamon Murphy from Mr. Gum Innovation who have developed a biodegradable chewing gum.

While the companies and entrepreneurs are at various stages of development, each is working towards exporting their products within the next 12 months.

Think you’ve got what it takes? Registration for Food Works 2015 is now open.

Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland and Teagasc will run a series of “drop in clinics” across Ireland to assist potential participants with their applications.

For more information on the clinics or to register, visit www.foodworksireland.ie.

(Image via Ardfern through Wikimedia Commons of St George’s Market, East Bridge Street, Belfast)

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