Continuing our reports on the Irish contenders for the Great Taste 2016 awards.
With eight products in the Top 50 winners of the Great Taste 2016 competition, an Irish producer has a good chance of being crowned Supreme Champion in the annual hunt for the finest food or drink to grace the shelves of top food shops such as Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges and Harvey Nichols.
Buyers from the four luxury department stores were among the Great Taste judges who whittled 10,000 entries down to 50 contenders for the ultimate prize which will be announced next Monday in London.
The eight products in the line-up from Ireland, north and south, are as follows.
Simply Better Irish Handmade All Butter Sticky Toffee Pudding entered in the Great Taste 2016 competition by Dunnes Stores is a classic pudding, made with Irish ingredients, “a real show stopper”, according to judges, “unctuous and moreish, squidgy and moist”.
They said it showcases the texture and flavour of the dates while remaining in balance with the other ingredients ( www.dunnesstores.com ).
Also in the Great Taste top 50 is Rooney Fish of Newry, with their Pacific Oysters from Carlingford Lough, “plump and meaty” with “clean and fresh flavours of the sea, followed by a flood of intense sweetness”, according to the judgers ( www.rooneyfish.com ).
Also from Northern Ireland, the Abernethy Butter company’s Smoked Abernethy Butter is churned, washed and patted by hand, and then smoked over beech and applewood, creating a richness and colour that captivated the judges.
They also liked the “good balance of smoke, underpinned by salt” of this truly artisan product ( www.abernethybuttercompany.com ).
Holycross Original Butterscotch Sauce from The Tipperary Kitchen was likened by competition judges to “heaven in a bowl”.
Using local Tipperary butter and Thurles fresh cream, it is perfectly made, tasted natural, and would be exactly the right way to end any meal, said the judges ( www.thetipperarykitchen.ie ).
It comes from the same county as Heritage Cure Ham, representing last year’s Great Taste Supreme Champion, James Whelan Butchers of Clonmel.
Cured for 14 days before being smoked, this succulent low-salt ham offers a balance of sweet and savoury notes throughout its flesh and fat.
The judges commended James Whelan Butchers for achieving a “moist texture without being too wet” and they also enjoyed the delicate salting of the ham ( www.jameswhelanbutchers.com ).
The win for James Whelan Butchers gave the Republic of Ireland its first Supreme Champion since Woodcock Smokery’s wild smoked salmon brought the top prize to Castletownshend,in West Cork in 2006.
But it followed victories for Northern Ireland in 2011 (McCartney’s of Moira’s corned beef) and 2012 (Hannan Meats’ guanciale), cementing the island of Ireland’s reputation for simple products based on exceptional primary ingredients.Now Hannan Meats is again a front runner in the awards, with no fewer than three products in the top 50.
Their Glenarm Shorthorn 4-Rib Roast is described as “exceptional, extraordinary and top class”.
The judges heaped praise on the roast, which is dry-aged in a Himalayan Salt Chamber for at least 28 days. The panel of judges couldn’t believe that “beef could taste so good”.
The judges said Hannan Meats has “smashed it out of the park” with their Sugar Pit Beef Brisket, dry cured, and then sweetened in a sugar pit for 10 days. It is described as “silky, sweet and melt-in-the-mouth”.
The Glenarm Shorthorn Wing Rib Sirloin from the same company is described as “delivering on all levels”. It is also dry-aged for at least 28 days. Judges said the texture is “unctuous”, and the flavour is “buttery, umami and beefy”, carrying through the tender flesh and the fat ( www.hannanmeats.com ).
Last week, we listed the products from the Republic of Ireland which were 3-Star winner in the Great Taste 2016 competition.
Here are Northern Ireland’s 3-Star winners.
* Oolong Orange Blossom, Suki Teahouse Ltd, Unit 6 Twin Spires Business Park, 155 Northumberland Street, Belfast.
* Thompson’s Punjana Original Teabags, Thompson’s Family Teas, 2 Carnforth Street, Belfast.
* Thompson’s Irish Breakfast Teabags, Thompson’s Family Teas, address as above.
* Ayurvedic, Suki Teahouse Ltd, Unit 6 Twin Spires Business Park, 155 Northumberland Street, Belfast.
* Rowan Glen Reduced Fat Crème Fraiche, Dale Farm Ltd, 15 Dargan Road, Belfast.
* Kearney Blue, Kearney Cheese Company, 75a Lisnabreeny Road, Belfast.
* Glenarm Shorthorn 4 Rib Roast, Hannan Meats, Moira Industrial Estate, 34 Old Kilmore Road, Moira, Craigavon.
* Sugar Pit Beef Brisket, Hannan Meats, same,address.
* Pastrami Beef Brisket, Hannan Meats, same,address.
* Glenarm Shorthorn Wing Rib Sirloin, Hannan Meats, address as above.
* Pacific Oysters, Rooney Fish, The Harbour, Newry.
* Clandeboye Estate Greek Style Yoghurt, Clandeboye Estate Yoghurt Co, Bangor.
* Smoked Abernethy Butter, Abernethy Butter, 66 Ballynahinch Road, Dromara.
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