Mayo food producer Cuinneog was announced the winner of the Dairy award for its Irish Farmhouse Country Butter and Natural Buttermilk in the Irish Breakfast Foods category at the prestigious Georgina Campbell Irish Breakfast Awards 2018 in association with Fáilte Ireland.
Breda Butler of Cuinneog said: “To receive an award from Georgina Campbell is something very special. I feel the award recognises the many years of hard work that my parents and our team have put into Cuinneog to bring the business where it is today.
"As I drove back to Mayo with our award perched on the front seat, I thought of all the times we had churned in the kitchen and only dreamt of days like this. It’s a very proud moment for us indeed.”
In their report, the award judges wrote: “Thanks to the Butler family, whose farm near Castlebar, Mayo, is home to some once-familiar dairy products, which had all but disappeared but are now beginning to be produced again – Irish farmhouse country butter and natural buttermilk.
"These are fuller-flavoured products than the commercial norm and the butter, especially, has deservedly caught the public imagination, because country butter was once made routinely on most small-scale Irish dairy farms - and seeing Cuinneog Irish Farmhouse Country Butter featured on menus is always a sign of a chef who cares.”
Breda’s parents Tom and Sheila Butler began making Cuinneog proper country butter in their family kitchen in 1990 armed with creamery cans and a wooden cuinneog (churn ) in response to local demand for a flavour that was in danger of disappearing. Today, their daughter Breda runs the family business, supplying the Cuinneog lactic butter and its by-product, natural buttermilk, to supermarkets and speciality food shops nationwide.
Cuinneog lightly salted butter gets its distinctive colour, creamy texture, and complex, long-lasting, flavour from the traditional production process, which takes four days from start to finish.
The cream is slowly heated and fermented, then churned in the traditional way, after which the buttermilk is separated. The butter is then shaped, cut and wrapped by hand.
The Cuinneog range is the choice of some of Ireland’s top chefs and best restaurants including Michelin star restaurants Chapter One in Dublin, Aniar Restaurant in Galway and OX in Belfast, as well as The Lodge at Ashford Castle, Knockranny House Hotel in Westport, and Rua, House of Plates, and The Dining Room in Castlebar.
Regarding the selection process for the Irish Breakfast Awards, Georgina Campbell said: “A rigorous programme of anonymous assessment visits continues all year and the resulting reports are then fed through to the respected independent website, Ireland-guide.com Award winners are nominated solely by the assessment team, and the wealth of information gathered is also the foundation of our printed guides, of which the latest is the recently published Georgina Campbell’s Ireland, The Best of the Best.”
Explaining the key role of the Irish Breakfast Foods category in which Cuinneog won the Dairy award, Georgina Campbell added: “Whether it’s a nine-course tasting menu in a top restaurant or a homely breakfast in a B&B, quality ingredients are the foundation of any good meal. These awards recognise the quality Irish breakfast foods that can lift this simple meal into an expression of the local land - and seascape - and we want to see more of them on Irish breakfast menus.”
For more information about Cuinneog products see www.cuinneog.com