Ennis’ Favourite Dessert 2017 is White Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake on an Oreo Base

This recipe for a White Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake on an Oreo Base, by Chef Bernie Kelly at The Old Ground Hotel, Ennis, County Clare, was the winner of the Ennis’ Favourite Dessert Competition for this years’ Ennis Food Festival.

Chef Bernie Kelly, from the Old Ground Hotel, wanted to share her winning Cheesecake Recipe with you all, so here it is!

Ennis Favourite Food 2017 White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake on an Oreo Base recipe Irish Food

White Chocolate & Raspberry Cheesecake on an Oreo Base

250g oreo biscuits crushed
125g melted butter

500g Cream Cheese
200g caster sugar
4 ½  Gelatine leaves softened
250g White Chocolate melted
650g Cream – lightly whipped

300g raspberry puree
3 gelatine leaves softened

1. Make the base with crushed Oreo biscuits & melted butter and press onto lined 10” base biscuit tin.
2. Beat the cream cheese & sugar together.
3. Heat 200g of the lightly whipped cream until warm only, add the gelatine & mix until melted.
4. Add the melted white chocolate to the gelatine cream mix, then pour onto the beaten cream cheese.
5. Mix together and then fold in the rest of the lightly whipped cream until combined.
6. Finally add in the raspberries, stir and pour onto prepared biscuit base. Pop it in the fridge until completely set.
7. For the glaze, heat raspberry puree and add softened gelatine, pour over the cheesecake  when cool and let the glaze set before serving.

The 2017 Ennis Food Festival takes place this week from the 12th – 15th October with loads of great people cooking and showcasing loads of great Irish Food. Full details are available at www.ennisfoodfestival.com

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Fáilte Ireland launches New Taste of Place Food Charter for National Visitor Attractions

Food Tourism is an increasing part of the global tourism industry and Ireland is becoming well positioned to showcase our excellent quality food and build a modern Irish Food Tourism industry.

Tourists and travellers, all over the world, are seeking out locally sourced dishes and the stories of the people and the production behind the food. This growing interest in experiencing local food presents an ideal opportunity for Irish Visitor Attractions to create and deliver more authentic food experiences that are reflective of the area in which they are located.

Fáilte Ireland, is today rolling out a new food innovation programme ‘Taste of Place’ for Ireland’s Visitor Attractions, including sites of historical or cultural interest, museums, national parks, and interpretive centres, to improve and enhance the food and drink on offer at these sites and bring it into line with the standards of modern Irish Food that is being offered in Ireland’s best restaurants and hotels.

Modern Irish Food by JP McMahon at Aniar, Galway

This new programme has been developed by Fáilte Ireland, to ensure that visitors to Ireland get a real Taste Of Place at national visitor attractions and it will also help encourage businesses in the Irish Food sector, who’s food offering may be lacking Irish Food provenance on their menus, to up their game.

The programme aims to support catering teams at high density attractions in delivering an authentic and quality food and beverage experience that is rooted in place by:

  • Introducing more menu options that reflect the culinary traditions of a local area.
  • Sourcing ingredients from local Irish suppliers.
  • Linking elements of the food offering to the wider destination brands.

Food Services who commit to the changes outlined in the charter will complete an intensive three day programme with cookery demonstrations from renowned Irish chefs, JP McMahon in Galway, Paul Flynn in Waterford and Domini Kemp in Dublin.  The locations and dates of these Cookery demonstrations are:

  • Wild Atlantic Way: Aniar Restaurant, Galway, October 2, 16 & 23.
  • Ireland’s Ancient East: Tannery Cookery School, Waterford, October 10, 11 & 12.
  • Dublin: Cooks Academy, Wicklow Street, October 11, 18 & 25.
The three-day workshops will include an introduction to how food motivates the tourist with participants discovering the latest tourist trends and culinary concepts together with best practice examples of where local authentic food offerings drive revenue growth in business and enhance value perception.  Participants will also get a variety of cookery demonstrations and take part in working sessions to inspire change and deliver a renewed food and beverage offering.
Modern Irish Food by Colin McKee at Harveys Point, Donegal
“With visitors to Ireland spending some €2.2 billion on food every year,  it is our job as the tourism industry, to ensure we put our best foot forward when it comes to giving them the experiences they want,” said Sinead Hennessy, Food Tourism Officer with Fáilte Ireland. 
She added, “From the tourist’s perspective, the food and beverage offered at visitor attractions is a core part of the entire experience and should be viewed as a critical revenue driver and not ancillary to the visit.  This new ‘Taste of Place’ charter is the first step in ensuring that visitors to Ireland’s attractions encounter an enhanced offering that is reflective of Ireland’s growing food reputation.”

To be eligible for the ‘Taste of Place’ charter, participating attractions must:
  • Complete a baseline survey detailing current sourcing practices.
  • Successfully complete Failte Ireland’s Taste of Place development programme.
  • Verify commitment to sourcing 50% of food items from Ireland and/or the local area.
  • Verify commit to sourcing 25% of drink items from Ireland and/or the local area.
  • Identify provenance of local food and drink on the menu.
  • Include one signature dish dedicated to the destination brand on the menu.
  • Undergo an evaluation to verify the commitment.

Participating attractions on the Wild Atlantic Way include:
Kylemore Abbey, Galway
Lisadelle House, Sligo
Glenveigh National Park, Donegal
Westport House, Mayo
Foxford Woolen Mills, Mayo
Glenkeen Farm, Mayo
Bunratty Castle, Clare
Ailwee Caves, Clare
Tralee Bay Wetlands, Kerry
King Johns Castle, Limerick
Participating attractions in Ireland’s Ancient East include:
Wicklow Gaol, Wicklow
Hook Lighthouse, Wexford
Jameson Experience, Cork
Bru Na Boinne, Meath
Waterford Treasures, Waterford
Newbridge Silverware, Kildare
Castlecomer Discovery Park, Kilkenny
House of Waterford Crystal, Waterford
Participating attractions in Dublin include:
National Botanic Gardens
Kilmainham Gaol
Glasnevin Cemetary
Dublin Zoo
Trinity College
Abbey Theatre
National Library
Teelings Irish Whiskey Distillery
GPO – Witness History
Richmond Barracks
This is an excellent step forward by Fáilte Ireland to raise the standard of Irish Food on offer at national Irish Visitor Attractions and to create and deliver more authentic food experiences and food memories for international visitors to Ireland. 
Guests on an Irish Food Tour to Donegal Craft Bakery in Donegal Town
Online images of modern Irish food from these internationally recognised visitor attractions will help change the traditional perceptions that international tourists have of Irish food and will certainly assist the further development of Irish Food Tourism.
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Keep VAT at 9% for the Hospitality Sector in Budget 2018

The Restaurants Association of Ireland has today expressed deep concern about any increase to the 9% VAT rate for Tourism. The Association has launched its economic impact report by Economist, Jim Power which assesses the impact a 1% increase in the VAT rate would have on the sector.

The food service and accommodation sector currently employs 152,200 people directly and 17,388 indirectly. The Economic Report highlights the inevitability that a 1% increase would cost jobs in the sector. The only question is, how many jobs would be lost? It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that up to 4% of the jobs in the sector could be shed, which would equate to around 6,000 jobs, both part-time and full-time. This would leave rural areas particularly vulnerable, according to Jim Power Economist.

A comparative between 2011 and 2017 demonstrates the advantages to the sector and employment as a whole because of the reduced VAT rate. Between 2011 and 2017, the number of people working in the Accommodation & Food Services Sector nationally increased by 37,800, taking total employment from 114,400 to 152,200.

Key findings from the report include:

Weakening of Sterling & Brexit

Restaurants in general will suffer if visitor numbers from the UK continue to decline due to sterling weakness. Restaurants in the Border counties are particularly vulnerable to sterling weakness as less people will come across the border from Northern Ireland and customers from the South will have a financial incentive to go North of the Border. Restaurants in rural areas all over the country will suffer if indigenous exporters, which are very important contributors to rural economic activity, come under pressure due to sterling weakness.

Post-Brexit the following threats to the Restaurant sector can be identified:

Sterling weakness and its consequences will remain a serious threat if a ‘Hard Brexit’ transpires, indigenous Irish exporters will come under significant pressure.
Farming and agri-food businesses are likely to be particularly vulnerable.
If rural businesses suffer, the restaurant sector in rural areas will be particularly vulnerable. The Dublin market will be less vulnerable, due to its capital city status.

If the Common Travel Area is not preserved, the outlook for the UK tourism market will become very pressurised. This can be noted when comparing the UK tourist figures from January to May 2016 to the same period in 2017 which saw a decrease of 6.8% in UK visitor numbers to Ireland.  If the UK leaves the EU’s Open Skies arrangement, air travel between Ireland and the UK could be adversely affected, with negative consequences for tourism and by implication, the Restaurant sector.

Dollar Weakness

Visitors from North America increased by 21.6% in the first half of 2017. This growth is potentially under threat due to recent weakness of the US dollar against the euro. It is currently trading just under 1.20 against the euro, having been at 1.0384 at the end of 2016. This dollar weakness will damage the competitiveness of the tourism product from US visitors and if dollar weakness is sustained, it poses a significant threat over the coming year.

Wage Pressures

Wage pressures are building in the economy due to a combination of minimum wage increases and market pressures of the labour market. Given the labour intensive nature of Accommodation & Food Services, this sector is particularly vulnerable to wage pressures.

In any consideration of a 1% VAT increase in Budget 2018 the impact on the overall competitiveness of the tourism sector needs to be the key consideration. For many operators, (particularly outside of Dublin) absorbing the 1% increase could be the difference between success or failure. If the 1% VAT increase were to be passed on to consumers, it would seriously damage the competitiveness of a sector that is already coming under significant pressure from currency movements and other cost pressures.

Adrian Cummins, CEO Restaurants Association of Ireland said today, “I am appealing to the Government to think twice before loading another 1% VAT on consumers.  This will cause enormous damage to the economy of Border Counties and Rural Ireland.”

Recommendation: Maintain 9% VAT for the hospitality sector into Budget 2018!

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New Food Innovation and Networking Space at Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards

Bank of Ireland and Blas na hEireann are, this year, partnering to create The Backyard at Blas, a new innovative breakout space and networking venue at the 10th Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards.

The Backyard at Blas is a dedicated space to meet fellow producers, gain knowledge & find support for your business. An exciting line up of speakers will share their experiences to help you develop & grow your business.

The Backyard at Blas came about from the highly successful Bank of Ireland’s Food Series which takes place each month in the Bank’s Workbench & Community Branch in Limerick. The initiative aims to educate, celebrate and promote all that’s good about local Irish food. In addition to the Food Series being held in Limerick’s start up space, these events will also be rolled out in Cork and Galway’s Workbenches.

The venue is part of the ever expanding events and opportunities which are central to Blas na hEireann. The Backyard at Blas, in the heart of Dingle, will host a series of talks and networking events are scheduled on the Friday 29th September and Saturday 30th September.

Speakers will include well known chefs, buyers and industry experts offering valuable and insightful advice during interactive sessions with finalist producers.

Speaking on the partnership, Liam Sheedy, Director of Munster, Bank of Ireland said, “Bank of Ireland are absolutely delighted to partner with Blas na hEireann to bring the Backyard at Blas to this year’s awards. Bank of Ireland has always played an active role in supporting food, agri and hospitality businesses and our partnership with Blas na hEireann will further strengthen that support.”

Back: Michael Murphy, John Doyle, Artie Clifford, Frank Shaw 
Front: Fallon Moore, Roisin Crotty, Pat Carroll

Artie Clifford, Blas na hEireann Chairperson, added, “Blas are delighted to partner with Bank of Ireland to bring this exciting new venue where producers can meet fellow producers, gain knowledge and share their experiences.”

Conversations in The Backyard, which opens from 12 noon, include:

  • Friday 29th September

2pm: Start Talking…
Blas Producer’s Champion 2016 John McKenna introduces the core theme of The Backyard at Blas. Communication. He will be in conversation with award-winning producers on why you should look to your competitors in the industry as your colleagues.

3pm: Be Social…
A 20 minute session of social media tips with the #Blas2017 Twitter Fairy, Sharon Noonan aka @QueenOfOrg. If you’re a complete novice with social media or use it sporadically, come along and get for inspiring material, time-saving tips and strategic tools to capitalise on the opportunities that social media can generate for you, your business and your award winning products.
Social media costs nothing but your time and it does pay off. Don’t be scared, get social.

4pm: Think it Through…
You have worked hard on your product. You have done late nights and early starts. You have put your heart and soul into it. To carry this through to the finish line with a buyer you really need to know more than just your own product inside out. You need to know what is happening in your category; what the trends are and how to prepare for that all-important meeting.

5pm: Be ready to Show your Best…
You can’t just rock up at a trade show and hope for the best. You have invested time and money in getting there, but you need to know what to do when you are at your stand. You also need to check certain things before you go. This talk will give you invaluable hints and tips on a successful sales plan and managing and achieving realistic targets. It will also give you the heads up on potential snags and hidden costs.

6pm: Press on without pressure…
The temptation in business is always to say yes to too many things and end up running out of product and or/steam. This session is a useful discussion on how to scale up your business sensibly and sustainably. It will focus on how to finance growth as well as pinpointing potential grant options. Slow and steady wins the race.

  • Saturday 30th September

10.30am: Mind Yourself as well as your Business
Burnout is a common problem in business, especially with self-employed small producers. They tend to eat, sleep and breathe what they do, which is not good for them or their families. Life is all about striking the right balance between work and play. Happy people are more productive.

12noon: Don’t take it for Granted
So many businesses are sticking their heads in the sand. Barring seismic political change, Brexit will happen and it will have a major impact on how you do business. This session looks ahead to the challenges Brexit will bring along with potential opportunities. Find out what assistance, strategies and aids are out there to help plan.

3pm: Get your Story straight
If you can’t get your story across, you can’t sell your product. You need to be able to catch a journalist’s attention and know what they are looking for. It is devilishly difficult to get coverage these days but knowing what the media looks for is half the battle. So, too, is responding quickly to their requests and not badgering people. There is a world of difference between being dogged and being pushy.

The Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards, which take place every year on the last weekend in September, in Dingle, Co. Kerry, are the largest blind-tasted food awards on the island. More than 2500 products were entered this year.

All Winners will be announced on Saturday 30th, September and you can find out more about the Blas Na hEireann Irish Food Awards at www.IrishFoodAwards.com.

Follow the Blas Na hEireann Awards on Twitter by clicking the link:
//platform.twitter.com/widgets/follow_button.html?screen_name=BlasNahEireann and on the Official social media hashtag #Blas2017

See you in Dingle!


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West Cork named as Foodie Destination of Ireland 2017

West Cork was recently announced as the winner of Restaurant Associations of Ireland (RAI)  Foodie Destinations 2017 competition, sponsored by FBD Insurance. The winner was announced at an event held in the Headfort Arms Hotel, Kells, in the home of last year’s winners, Boyne Valley Food Series, on 29th August.

Nora Rice and Nora Collins from West Cork, Foodie Destinations of Ireland Winner 2017

After a rigorous few weeks of applications, regional judging visits and over 10,000 online votes, West Cork was declared the winner after beating out some of the best finalists that the competition has seen to date.

From events and programmes like the annual Taste of West Cork Food Festival and Cork Character Cafes, to the pride and passion that West Cork food producers and retailers have about their locally made products, they have set the benchmark for food tourism in Ireland.

 Liam Edwards, President of the Restaurant Association of Ireland, presents West Cork with the Winners Trophy

This year’s judges were Zack Gallagher and Wendy Kavanagh, the co-founders of Irish Food Tours.

“The excellent collaboration between food provider, chef and food producer with the tourism industry is generating amazing potentials for the future development of Ireland as a world class food destination” said Zack Gallagher. “The food and tourism offerings all over the island of Ireland and the use of modern media is changing the perception of Irish food as seen from abroad. This was most evident in the ten regions that reached the Foodie Destinations of Ireland 2017 final.”

Wendy Kavanagh added “What really stood out for me was the passion and pride displayed by the people involved at each destination.”

The top five finalists in this year’s Foodie Destinations 2017 competition are as follows:
1st. West Cork, 2nd. Boyne Valley, 3rd. Kilkenny, 4th. Kinsale and 5th. West Waterford.

The five remaining finalists, all of whom demonstrated spectacular efforts in their applications and finalist’s visits were: Sligo, Monaghan, Cong, Loop Head Peninsula and Galways West End.

The West Cork Foodie Destinations team during their Finalists Visit with judge Wendy Kavanagh

Adrian Cummins, CEO of the RAI, presented the award to representatives of West Cork’s Foodie Destinations application saying, “It was incredible to see the high calibre of applications for this year’s Foodie Destinations. As food tourism grows in popularity – it is great to see so many places putting local food at the forefront of the visitor experience and like West Cork, enhancing their food tourism offering year on year.”

Congratulations to West Cork as Winners of the Foodie Destinations 2017 award which is sure to boost the region’s profile as an outstanding food destination in Ireland.

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From humble beginnings in 2008, A Taste of Donegal has grown into one of the most spectacular and looked forward to food festival on the Irish Food Calendar. The 2017 Taste of Donegal Food Festival takes place this weekend on Friday 25th, Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th of August.

This amazing food festival attracts food lovers from all over the world to the beautiful tented village on the Pier in Donegal Town, facing out to Donegal Bay and surrounded by a backdrop of the Blue Stack Mountains! The success of this three day celebration of great food and drink is due to the vibrant personalities of the celebrity and local chefs who will be cooking up a storm over the weekend, the wonderful food produces and their produce and the amazing work of a small but totally dedicated committee head by Mary and Ernan McGettigan.

Food lovers will also enjoy over 120 food and drink exhibitors and top hotels and restaurants from all over the island of Ireland who will be showcasing and selling their produce, wine and craft beers with tastings from an huge variety of food ranging from, confectionery, meat, fish, dairy products and specialty foods.

Photo Credit – A wonderful evening view of A Taste of Donegal Food Festival by Mark Wickam

This Donegal Food Festival weekend includes some high profile cookery demonstrations with  some of Ireland top celebrity Irish chefs such as Gary O’Hanlon, Neven Maguire,  Derry Clarke, Catherine Fulvio, Kevin Dundon, Brian McDermott, Edward Hayden, Shane Smith, Gearóid Lynch and Actor turned chef, Simon Delaney and more!

There are more cookery demos and exhibitions from local Donegal Celebrity Chefs Zack Gallagher, Anthony Armstrong, Maurice Mc Geehan, Kieran Duey, Mick Mc Crudden, Martin Anderson and Martin Hernandez.

The event will also include a tutored Cocktail Masterclass by leading experts Coole Swan, and A Live Gin Distillation Masterclass in association with Dicey Reilly’s Ballyshannon and delivered by Gin Ambassador Paul Flynn & Distiller James McKenna from Listoke Distillery & Gin School Drogheda.

Ciaran Kennedy (Hunny Pots) and Sian Breslin (Donegal Manor and Cookery School) will showcase their specialist skills in planning healthy meals without spending a fortune, recipes to keep the body healthy and happy, cocktail making using fresh fruits, proper ice, decent spirits and balanced measures and specialised Gin tasting, “Hunny Pots” tray bakes made from 100% pure and natural Wexford (but he’s a Donegal man) honey!

Donegal chef Brian McDermott is the MC for the whole weekend at A Taste of Donegal

MC for the whole weekend of this year’s A Taste of Donegal, is Donegal chef Brian McDermott, who has an excellent reputation for keeping things running smooth on the demo stages and for interviewing small local food producers and getting them to share their food story to the audience.

The 2017 A Passion To Inspire Chefs Competition will take place under the watchful eye of Anthony Armstrong (WACS), Peter Griffths (BCF), Gerard M. Molloy (ACF) and Bob Mc Donald (MCGB). Entrants are required to cook and present two different dishes, a starter and a main course, each for two covers, showcasing the best of Irish produce.

The Agri Aware Mobile Farm will be at the Taste of Donegal Food Festival

Another new attraction this year is the excellent Agri Aware Mobile Farm. This independent agri-food educational body’s interactive attraction is a great way for children to follow the “Farm to Fork” journey of their food in a fun and interactive way.

Ireland’s comical celebrity chef Joe Shannon & comedian Frank Forde will be cooking and having a laugh in the Cookery Comedy Theatre. There may even be a bit of singing and dancing thrown in! As Chef Joe says, “We’ll teach you everything in the culinary world that you probably don’t need to know!”

There will also be free admission to Donegal Town Castle all day on Sunday 28th August.

The 2017 Taste Of Donegal Food Festival opens on Friday 25th August at 4pm. The Official Opening will be preformed by Dr Séan Duffy Head of School of  Tourism LYIT Killybegs at 7.00 pm.

The opening event will be hosted by TV3 Star Noel Cunningham, who is also the General Manager of the local Harvey’s Point Country Hotel. Friday evening will conclude with the amazing annual Fireworks display which takes place over the reflective flat calm waters of Donegal Bay.

Fireworks at the Donegal Town Food Festival - A Taste Of Donegal - pic by Zack Gallagher
The annual Fireworks at th Taste of Donegal are an amazing sight!

A Taste of Donegal is truly a food lovers dream and will showcase Donegal Town, the surrounding area as a region of high quality restaurants and hotels, with a vibrant and growing artisan food network!

Admission is €6.00 per adult, €1.00 per child, €15.00 for a weekend pass.

For the full programme of events and more info check out www.atasteofdonegal.com and see their Facebook page A Taste of Donegal.


I have an exclusive Weekend pass for 2 people to give away for a lucky reader.
Simply LIKE & SHARE the A Taste of Donegal Facebook Page
adding a comment saying “I want to win the Weekend Pass for 2

The Winner will be announced on Thursday evening (24th August 2017) and the Passes will be available on the Gate at the Food Festival from Friday morning. Good Luck!

Donegal Town is my Home Town and I think it’s the Best Food Festival in Ireland!

I’ll be there and look forward to seeing you at A Taste Of Donegal Food Festival!

Posted in A Taste of Donegal, Donegal Food Festival, irish food, news, Win Free Passes | Leave a comment

Letterkenny hosts new Irish Street Food Festival 29th and 30th July

Donegal’s newest Food Festival kicks off this weekend in Letterkenny with an action packed program of events over Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th July 2017!

Off The Street Food Festival, Donegal’s first ever Irish Street Food Festival, will feature local food producer’s stories, food talks, cooking demonstrations, music and entertainment and a host of Donegal Street Food!

The brainchild of Chris Molloy from The Lemontree Restaurant and Derek Walker of Letterkenny Artisan Market, this new Irish Street Food Festival is offering a huge variety of food stalls selling amazing street, fresh local produce & much much more.

Two days of live music by local musicians, live cookery demos in the marquee by local talented chefs and producer story sections where you get to hear the stories behind some of Donegal’s best food producers.

Declan McConnellogue from The Haven Smokehouse

Among the food producers from Donegal that will be telling their food story are Ballyholey Farm, OURganic Gardens, The Haven Smokehouse, Simply Natural Health, Harrys Walled Garden, Carols Stockmarket, Hive Donegal, Gareth Austin Horticulture and Boghopper Brewery.

Cooking Demonstrations will run all weekend and Donegal chefs on the stage on Saturday and Sunday include Gary M Peake, Mary McLaughlin, World Chowder Champion Kieran Duey, Frank Pasquier, Maurice McGeehan, me… Zack Gallagher, the 9 Hostages Coffee Baristas, Chris Molloy and Ciaran Sweeney.

The Street Food Festival takes place at the rear of the AIB Bank on Letterkenny Main Street and access is via Justice Walsh Road. There will be over ten stalls from local chefs cooking up a local Donegal Street Food and in total there will be over 50 food stalls!

As part of the food festival the popular Letterkenny Artisan Market will relocate to the festival site in the town centre over the weekend.

“The popularity of street has really grown in the last couple of years so we just wanted to try an run an event like this in my home town”, said Chris Molloy, about the new Street Food Festival. “Entry is just €3 per ticket, €5 for a full weekend ticket and children go free!”

With something for the whole family, this is a true celebration of the vibrant Donegal Food scene, and a weekend not to be missed! For more info see www.offthestreetfoodfest.com

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