What a year! Ireland never ceases to amaze me.
Despite being quiet here on the blog I’ve had such a busy few months trying new things and delving into new products.
I’ve experienced other products from these producers before, but I was amazed and delighted to get to taste new things. Here are the ones that stood out for me the most this year:
Wildwood Heather Vinegar
Not only is the vinegar exquisite but the bottle its sold in is stunning and immediately makes it a glamorous product. The heather-flavoured vinegar is just mind-blowing.
The vinegars are made in Mayo’s glorious landscape and really capture the flavours and scent of the natural world. I could buy bottles of the stuff!
Hazel Mountain Chocolates
From bean to bar: if you’re used to eating Dairymilk all your life then this chocolate is a revelation. This small-batch chocolate is just so different to anything I’ve tasted that initially it took me a while to get used to it.
Using rare Trinitario cacao beans and raw cane sugar for their dark chocolate and Irish milk from grass-fed cows in their milk chocolate, what they create is such a mix of flavours that’s something more than just your regular block. Trust me, you’ll savour this stuff.
I was introduced to the Dingle Gin “Ginito” this year, which uses basil instead of mint, and it is super.
Distilled in pot stills with a range of botanicals including Rowan Berry, Fuschia, Bog Myrtle, Heather, Chervil and Hawthorn, Dingle Gin fast became one of my favourites.
Goatsbridge Rainbow Trout Caviar
I was delighted to meet the extraordinary Mags Kirwan while I was working at the National Crafts and Design Fair this year and that was when I was introduced to her magnificent caviar.
Sitting on top of cracker, with a spread of cream cheese, these delightful, freshwater, salty balls of orange are dreamlike. Priced at €12.95 (plus shipping), they’re worth every cent and won’t disappoint.
Naturally Cordial’s Lemon and Lime Cordial
Clodagh Davis’ Naturally Cordial is made from organic citrus fruits and Wexford soft fruit giving it a really great taste. I was lucky to spend time and chat with Clodagh when I was working at the Bite Food Festival.
Keeping it simple and pure, Clodagh uses minimum ingredients to maximise her cordials’ quality and at her recommendation I love combining the lemon and lime cordial with cloves and hot water. It’s like a hot whiskey! Priced at €5.99 from Ardkeen Quality Food Store, it’s something that will treat your tastebuds to a little bit of magic.
Bertha’s Revenge Irish Milk Gin
A year for gin in my books, this year I was invited to the launch of Bertha’s Revenge Irish Milk Gin – yes milk! The brainchild of proprietor Justin Green and Antony Jackson, this small batch gin is bursting with all sorts of flavours with a fragrant nose and spicy middle notes. The fruit-driven finish is perfect in making this gin a special one.
Distilled from cow’s whey from local dairy farmers, Bertha the cow was the world’s oldest and native of Sneem in Kerry. She passed away in 1993, having given birth to 39 calves! Here’s a fantastic recipe for gravlax flavoured with this Irish gin.
Here’s to more great produce in 2016!