In normal times, they might be considered the 'basics' on the shopping list, but spuds, butter and beef have shone in their own right in the latest Irish Food Writers’ Guild awards for 2021.
In a year that's seen a newfound appreciation for quality food and drink, this year's IFWG awards celebrate suppliers and producers who have managed to meet the ongoing challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The three products which particularly tickled the judges' tastebuds and were selected in the Food Awards category were: Tom Durcan's traditional spiced beef – based at Cork's English Market since 1985; Abernethy Butter, made in Dromara, Co Down, by Will and Alison Abernethy; and Ballymakenny Farm Irish Heritage and Specialty Potatoes, from Co Louth.
The IFWG Irish Drink Award went to Kate and Denis Dempsey of Kinsale Mead, which was Ireland's first commercial meadery in the country for 200 years when it was established in 2017.
Their award-winning Merlot barrel-aged mead is made with Irish blackberries and cherries, and is matured in merlot wine casks.
Another Cork business received the IFWG Outstanding Organisation Award.
NeighbourFood –an online marketplace where local producers can sell their produce – was started in Cork in 2018 by Jack Crotty and Martin Puncher. Since then, the group has established 40 different locations in Ireland and 20 more in the UK, each working with its own local suppliers.
Customers simply order from their chosen spot and collect what they want on a designated day. Suppliers know in advance what is required of them, so waste is minimal.
Since its inception, NeighbourFood has become something of an essential service for local growers and producers.
Demand for its services increased sharply last year, meaning NeighbourFood has been able to provide more choices for customers who have wanted to do their part to shop local during the pandemic.
The Environmental Award went to Ballymore Organics based in Kildare. It produces stoneground wholemeal and plain flour, as well as wheat grain, porridge and semolina used in kitchens and restaurants across the country.
Marion Roeleveld of Killeen Farmhouse Cheese in Portumna, Galway scooped the Lifetime Achievement award. Ms Roeleveld’s produce has been a staple of Irish menus and store shelves since it opened in 2004.
Lastly, the Green-Schools Food & Biodiversity Theme – an initiative aimed at "increasing awareness of the importance of native plants, animals and habitats, and to increase species-richness in a locality" - won the IFWG Community Food award.
“If this pandemic has any silver lining, it is the light that has been shined on the resourceful and innovative food producers of Ireland that have responded to the challenge, giving back to communities and ensuring a continued access to the highest-quality home-grown produce," said IFWG chairwoman Kristin Jensen.
"This is our way of recognising their achievements and our way of saying well done and thank you.”