National Third Level Student Innovation Awards showcase

Last Wednesday saw teams of students from all over Ireland competing at the first National Third Level Student Innovation Awards for a €3,000 prize and the possibility of their product being distributed by a national food company.

There were students from GMIT with beef pies and chicken pies, and a student from Carlow IT exhibiting a product called ‘Easy Peasy Pastry’ – just add water and it’s ready. From Tralee we tasted a product called Auntie Kake’s Cookie Dough. There were suet-free mince pies from Dublin IT and a salad dressing from Waterford IT, packs of sweet and savoury dippers from another GMIT team, and lastly the winners, who were from UCC, had a product called Seafood Spoonfuls, an all organic, ready to eat meal for kids aged from 10 months onwards, based, believe it or not, on fish plus sweet corn, peas, sweet potato, and carrots. I did not relish sampling kiddies’ meals, but I soon changed my mind, it was excellent, tasty, not at all fishy, and the packaging was top notch. I have a feeling this will find its way to a store near you in time.

Have a look at their Facebook page, Kiddoscuisine Seafood Spoonfuls. The winning team were Roisin Slattery, Suzanne McCarthy, and Claire Halpin.

2011 Irish Restaurants Awards

This is probably the most prestigious of all the awards in Ireland, and certainly the best-attended ceremony with 800 in attendance at the Burlington Hotel in Dublin. At a local level, O’Grady’s On the Pier in Barna won the Best Seafood Experience 2011 award, up against places such as Fishy Fishy in Kinsale and The King Sitric in Howth, so well done to them.

The Best Restaurant was Chapter One in Dublin for the third year in a row. Gregan’s Castle in Ballyvaughan won three awards; Best Chef In Ireland for Mickael Viljanen, Best Customer Service in Ireland, and Best Hotel Restaurant In Ireland. Needless to say there will be an in-depth article on Gregan’s Castle in the very near future (if I can book a table! ).

Our Connacht regional winners are:

Best Restaurant: Asian Tea House, Mary Street, Galway.

Best Chef: Jess Murphy.

Best Casual Dining: Bar 8, The Docks, Galway.

Best Customer Service: Lough Inagh Lodge, Recess, Connemara.

Best Gastro Pub: O’Dowd’s Bar, Roundstone.

Best Hotel Restaurant: Rosleague Manor, Letterfrack, Connemara.

New to market gluten-free products

The Foods of Athenry have recently launched a new range of gluten-free biscuits, buns, and cakes. I am afraid that most of my tasting experience with gluten-free products has been disappointing, crumbly and tasteless, however not so with these. I really liked the Gourmet Gluten Free Cookies. There are several varieties and I sampled the lemon and blueberry, it was as good as any cookie I have had, gluten-free or not, in fact I would buy these for myself as a treat any time. Next was an individually wrapped gluten-free fruit scone and again I was impressed, lots of good texture and plenty of fruit. The gluten-free packs of oat flapjacks were moist and succulent, and the gluten-free ‘Craicn’ which is seeded soda bread thins, are a perfect snack and good for you as well. To verify my thoughts on these products, I brought a plate of samples to my neighbour who is always on the lookout for tasty gluten-free products. The results were unanimous and thumbs up for The Foods of Athenry, most items should be available at a store near you.

Eastern Tandoori Loughrea

Eastern Tandoori Loughrea celebrated its fourth birthday recently. There was a full house last Tuesday night, when Abu and his family had invited all their regular customers to a complimentary meal with non-stop wine and beer. I think this is a great thing for restaurants to do and it shows the customers they are appreciated.

Congratulations to all and hopefully there will be many more birthdays to celebrate.

Evergreen Healthfoods shop in Moycullen

Evergreen Healthfoods in Moycullen will have an open evening on Tuesday June 14 from 7.30pm to 9pm. There will be cookery demonstrations, product demonstration, and goodie bags. All are welcome and it is free.

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