Thursday, November 8, 2012

Fallon and Byrne's Christmas Event

This evening I was at the scrummy Fallon and Byrne Christmas event in the 2nd floor Exchequer room. It was packed with fine food and wine producers and eager tasters. Some of the producers were award winners at this or previous years National Irish Food Awards listed in my previous post.

The first food producer I spoke with was the lovely Cathy Whitty of 'Cathy's Spelt for Health'. Enthusiastic about her spelt products, she produces mix-it-yourself packets for bakes and breads. I tried the flapjack mix which had a lovely oaty texture, the mixed seed loaf which was far superior to the current packet loaf mixes available in supermarkets and a Mediterranean bread which would be lovely served as an aperitif.
My second visit was to Spicentice-get it? spice-entice? oh forget it! Founded by Ketan Varu and based in Leicester they sell ready prepared spice mixes for sixteen Indian recipes, plus Thai, Cajun, Moroccan and Jamaican. I tried the Bombay potatoes- delicious, simple to prepare and not too spicy and also the Chicken jalfrezi. Too good to believe this is made just by adding water and the just a bit of cream or yogurt at the end. I also tried their Indian fruit chutneys- mango, papaya and  the delicious come-again sweet lime chutney.
Next stop, the Little Italy stand, based in North King Street, Dublin 7, and stockists of all fine Italian foods and wines. I tried their almond biscotti which was crunchy and dry just as it should be, a definite order to put in for after dinner coffee
Aine chocolate, that established Irish favourite was there. I was interested in their hot chocolate swirls which are placed in hot milk to melt- tried by my daughter in The Kilkenny Centre and given the seal of approval.
A similar product was being shown by the Dutch producer Chocolate Company who have hot chocolate spoons in many flavours; Irish Whiskey, hot chilli and chocolate orange amongst others. They also had macarons and Valrhona chocolate.
Cheese producer Dominique Bouchait, a Mont Royal Fromager was there with his Napoleon goats cheese produced in Montrejeau. Young cheese, fresh and clean on the palate, he was enthusiastic and larger than life and as he promoted his product amongst the guests in his broken English I couldn't help thinking of M.Gerard Depardieu. Available in Fallon and Byrne and a guaranteed success if served on the cheese board this Christmas.
Irish confectioner Pandora Bell has been making sweets in Limerick for three years. Showing nougat and real fruit jellies amongst other sweets these are definitely sweets for the grown-ups!
Danucci was there with their quality chocolate products, salted caramel balls being their most popular product. I tried a seasonal speciality cranberry and pistachio nut clusters- dark and full in the mouth, a perfect accompaniment to coffee after a rich main meal.
Ed Hicks was funny about his equally funny sounding product Beer Jam. Just three years in the trade he is getting success and interest in his product. Surprisingly nice, like a thinner spreading pate, almost a meat paste, full of taste and salty on the tongue. It would be lovely served on little crackers as an aperitif. He also had with him his short season product Wicklow Deer Jam.
Chocolatier from Belgium, the representative for cachet chocolate was keen about his product which cam in lovely unusual flavours such as blackberry and ginger, lemon and pepper (surprisingly nice) and pear and almond. The master chocolatier bars Dolfin used lavender, earl grey tea and my fave, pink peppercorn. You don't think it can work but then...aaahhh!
Marion Roeleveld from Kilkeen cheese in Co. Galway was there with their goats cheese and the delicious Kil Mora which is young but flavoursome and nutty.
Two generations of the Creswell family have been making smoked products in Timoleague, Co.Cork. Anthony was there of Ummera Smoke House and as well as the smoked salmon and gravad lax I tried the more unusual smoked chicken which was lovely and moist.
The lovely friendly Arun Kapil from Green Saffron in Co.Cork was there with his prepared Indian spice mixes, but they were also promoting a seasonal sachet of mulled wine spice, delicious which I drank down with a piece of their moist steamed Christmas pudding.
The last two producers! On The Pig's Back is a pate company produced by the French woman Isabelle Sheridan and sold from her shop in the English Market in Cork since 1992. Fresh and natural tasting I tried her mother' recipe pate. She has special cranberry pate for Christmas as well as the more unusual Venison and Raisin.
Two cheeky chappies were there from The Good Snack Company. Not just nuts, they had chilli cashews which called out for a chilled glass of beer to accompany them and crunchy wasabi nuts and available at Superquinn as well as Fallon and Byrne.
On the non-food front, Tara Hammond and her company Slated had almost attractive round slate plate and knife. Based in Dalkey it would make a lovely present to one of your foodie friends. Other slate products on her website

Hungry now?

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