Northern Ireland producers are in the prizes at Irish Food Awards

Pictured during Open Farm Weekend at Broughgammon Farm, between Ballycastle and Bushmills. INBM26-16S
Pictured during Open Farm Weekend at Broughgammon Farm, between Ballycastle and Bushmills. INBM26-16S

The Dingle Food Festival took place last week in the Kerry peninsula seaside town. I was there as one of the judges for the Blas Na Eireann Irish food awards, which also happen in this major event, and to take part in various culinary discussions.

The awards are highly regarded in the food world and Northern Ireland scooped 20 gold awards and numerous bronze and silver as well.

Worthy winners included Burren Balsamics from County Down for their Bramley Apple vinegar, Gourmet Marshmallows in Limavady for their Lemon Meringue mallow, from Cookstown, Quinns Gelato for their hazelnut gelato, Belfast-based Papa’s Minerals for their clove cordial and Clandeboye Estate for their Greek style yoghurt. Cavanagh eggs in Newtownbutler won the Chef’s Larder choice for their eggs, Tempted Cider from Lisburn and Armagh based MacIvor’s cider were joint all Ireland winners of the artisan award. (check out www.irishfoodawards for a full list of winners).

The food festival encompasses the whole town and it was great to bump into so many producers from here while I walked around. Artisans from Ulster won four awards the first time they entered, seven years ago, so we’ve come a really long way.

Broughgammon Farm based outside Ballycastle scooped two gold stars in the recently announced Great Taste Awards for their smoked goat bacon. It’s a beautiful product - tasty, crispy with just the right amount of fat to meat ration. Just as importantly, it’s ethically sound.

Billy kid goat’s are normally incinerated in a western world more interested in goat’s milk than its meat. Even though it’s the most eaten meat globally, goat meat is not as popular in developed countries.

October has been adopted as “Goatober” to encourage us to eat more of this healthy product. In doing so we’re not wasting this delicious food. If you’re a bit hesitant, try their smoked goat bacon to begin with. Check out www.broughgammon.com for a list of suppliers.

Tynedale Farm also do high quality goat meat, bred on the lush fields outside Lisburn (www.tynedalegoatkid.com).

My first recipe is for a toasted barley salad with Broughgammon goat bacon, blue cheese and a honey dressing. If you can’t get the goat variety use regular smoked bacon.

I was particularly delighted that Susie Hamilton-Stubber of Burren Balsamics won a gold award for her vinegar in the Blas na Eireann.

Earlier on this year I used this product on a live TV show. Unfortunately the top wouldn’t come off the bottle and I handed a knife to the young radio presenter, who was assisting me, to prise it off. Unfortunately he was a bit cack handed with nerves. A slipped knife, a blood bath later, and a lot of award-winning acting, I presented my bacon chop dish! We can laugh about it now and the award is the icing on the cake.

I’ve included the recipe and you don’t need to worry about the screw top!