Survival Solutions – Gastronomic Getaways

February 8th, 2011

Ireland’s Guide

Connemara Abalone - Meet the producers

by Gerogina Campbell

One of an occasional series on diversification and added value in Irish hospitality – finding new ways for hotels and restaurants to thrive also brings good news for customers. All over Ireland, hotels have been taking an especially hard hit during the current economic crisis.
Drastically reduced prices quickly became the norm but, while this initially seemed like great news for consumers, it became clear that it would quickly become unsustainable.But the canny ones – either taking out insurance ahead of the gathering storm clouds, or simply seeing opportunities not obvious to others – diversifed to make their offering more attractive to guests, and concentrate on giving added value rather than simply slashing prices.

Something interesting is happening at various unrelated locations all over Ireland: inspired by their customers’Graham Roberts - Connemara Smokehouse growing interest in local produce, and recognising the all-round value of supporting local producers and suppliers, some hotels have begun to offer ‘producer dinners’ which showcase the specialities of the area and may even have producers in attendance to introduce their products personally.

Some prestigious establishments have been involved in this new movement. At Knockranny House Hotel in Westport, Co Mayo, for example, acclaimed chef Seamus Commons recently created a Pig Weekend tasting menu for invited guests, that included some of the area’s most famous products, notably Kelly’s of Newport black puddings and sausages, and free range pork from Roy Eastman’s 12 acre farm at Kiltimagh – but what made it unusual was that the guests had been taken to visit the producers during the day.

Gannet Fishmongers Galway

Other hotels thinking along similar lines include the stylish g hotel in Galway city, the Dylan in Dublin, and Ashford Castle – which is hosting a Seafood Appreciation event in March, with a visit to an oyster farm and a trip on a lobster fishing boat among the promised treats.Although initially started as promotional press occasions, these producer-led events are beginning to develop a more accessible theme.

Regis Herviaux & Stefan Matz

At Galway’s five star g hotel, for example, General Manager Damien O’Riordan, Executive Chef Stefan Matz and Head Chef Regis Herviaux recently welcomed guests to a press event which featured Connemara Smokehouse smoked tuna, Connemara Abalone (deep fried and served with a divine barley and basil ‘risotto’), McGeough’s of Oughterard organic Connemara lamb done three ways, and a delicious Bluebell Falls (Co Clare) goats cheese and apple dessert.Each course was introduced by the producer – and the next day, together with Damien, Stefan and Regis, guests visited Galway Market and then went on tour around Connemara to see their operations in action.

The g hotel aims to source all of its main ingredients from within an hour’s drive of the hotel. “…Having spent 20 years working with local food producers and sourcing the finest artisan produce, we are thrilled to work with a range of leading suppliers,” says Stefan Matz. “The local sourcing of produce ensures each dish at the g boasts a real taste of Galway, and indeed of the West of Ireland.”

Salmon SlicingAs a development from their successful ‘trial run’, and at a very reasonable €225 per person sharing, the g hotel is offering guests an opportunity to meet some of their artisan suppliers – and hone their kitchen skills too – at a similar gastronomic getaway on Thursday and Friday 3rd & 4th March 2011.

Their two-night “g is for gourmet” break, hosted by Stefan Matz and Regis Herviaux, includes a 5-course wine dinner at ‘Matz at the g’ restaurant, professional cookery tuition and a guided tour of selected suppliers.

Linking guests desire for an exciting and authentic food experience with the local economy and marketing it creatively makes commercial sense, and is a highly satisfying endeavour for all concerned.

Could this be the beginning of a new and mutually rewarding trend?


February 5th, 2011

The Irish Times Saturday 5th Feb 2011

FOOD FILE | Marie-Claire Digby talks about food

The G hotel in Galway, with its Philip Treacy designed interiors, isn’t just a stylish place to stay, it is also a earning a reputation as gourmet destination. Regis Herviaux, head chef, and Stefan Matz (below), who is executive chef here and at sister hotel Ashford Castle, aim to source much of the restaurant’s produce from within an hour’s drive. Luckily for them Galway and Connemara produce a rich variety of fish, shellfish, meat, cheese and vegetables. A recent gala dinner they staged featured shellfish from Stephane Griesbach’s Gannet Fishmongers which has a stall at the Galway food market, smoked tuna from the Roberts family’s Connemara Smokehouse in Ballyconneely, abalone farmed by Cindy O’Brien in Rossaveel, Connemara hill lamb and wonderful air-dried meats from artisan butcher James McGeough, and Bluebell Falls goats’ cheese made by Paul Keane in Co Clare.

The line-caught tuna, which was then smoked, was served three ways: as a chilled gateau with pears , in a tuna and leek crumble, and as a crisp tuile on a creamy cabbage soup. Frank Kinneen of The Vineyard wine shop in Quay Street supplied wine pairings, and a smokey Staete Landt New Zealand Pinot Noir 2006 made an outstanding partner to the tuna. The abalone came deep-fried as a crispy tempura with basil and poached with creamy barley, risotto-style. The Connemara lamb was served four ways – braised, chargrilled, roasted and as an olive-crusted rack. The kitchen team also took a multi-faceted approach to show the versatility of Paul Keane’s Bluebell Falls goats’ cheese, serving it as a cheesecake and a soufflé as well as in a crème brûlée and a chocolate mousse.

You can meet some of these dedicated artisan suppliers and pick up some cooking tips in the kitchens at the G hotel at a two-night “g is for gourmet” event on Thursday and Friday, March 3rd and 4th. It costs from from €225 per person sharing, to include a five-course dinner with wine pairings, two nights’ B&B, a cooking class and a guided tour of some the region’s food producers.

Wo die wilden Lachse herkommen

January 28th, 2011



Graham Roberts Räucherei in Connemara

The foodie side of an Irish Christmas

December 29th, 2010
Conemara Smokehouse

View from Connemara Smokehouse by Laura Fyfe

First off, Connemara Smokehouse. A family run business sourcing, curing and smoking the finest fish they can find.  It’s in a beautiful location so well worth a visit for that alone, but obviously above all is their incredibly high standard of fish smokery.  They use beechwood which seems to give a more delicate smoke than the tradiitional oak – they were using ash for a while, but it is hard to come by as it’s used to make hurley sticks… They control everything manually, they hand fillet the fish, dry salt it rather than inject with brine and most importantly they remove the fish from the smokers when it’s ready not when a timer goes off.  It’s all done in the traditional way and you can tell.  The smoked mackerel was particularly good – softer than most and not dried out like a lot of the smoked mackerel that is readily available in shops.  We also got some smoked salmon which was brilliant and moreish and some smoked tuna which I was most excited about but was sadly the least impressive of them all.  All in all though it’s an incredibly high standard of smoked fish.

Connemara Smokehouse

Connemara Smokehouse by Laura Fyfe

Connemara Smokehouse

Connemara Smokehouse Products Laura Fyfe


October 30th, 2010

DPD only deliver to mainland addresses, if you live on an island, please use airfreight….


Zone 1 – UK Isle of Man

1st kg €22, next 4kg €1.75/kg, €1.25/kg thereafter

Zone 2 – Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg,(Corsica supplement €5)

1st kg €22, next 4 kg €3.00/kg, €2.00/kg thereafter

Zone 3 – Austria, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Sweden

1st kg €24, next 4kg 4.50/ kg, € 3.50/kg thereafter

Zone 4 – Andorra, Guernsey, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland

1st kg €32, next 4kg €6.00/kg, €4.50/kg thereafter

Zone 5 – USA, Canada

1st kg €30, next 4kg €6.50/kg, €5.50 thereafter

The Wild West-Connemara Adventures

September 30th, 2010

By Lola-Lu’s Kitchen

False Bay

The world of Lola-lu’s Kitchen has been quiet online of late, but having been busy this summer with work (both of us) we’ve been taking our holidays late. Lola was off on a Las Vegas California adventure – while I headed to the Wild West (of Ireland!)

Here’a few food highlights from my travels in the van with Delo from around Connemara and Mayo. We’d the most amazing time, staying in some beautiful remote spots with the most incredible views. Travelling in September found some of the more popular spots quite deserted.

We caught and cooked some fish (not the tastiest fish, but we caught it, so by god we ate it!) We gained some fishing advice from an old fisherman on the pier, which gave us the boost we needed after fishing fruitlessly for several hours.

The Old Fishing Hole
Getting accustomed to cooking in the dark!

The Connemara Smokehouse – sitting on the farthest reaches of Ballyconnelly. Populated with a healthy population of seagulls. They can tasting tours with advance notice. The place has a puzzling small chimney for a ‘smoke’ house! We just called in on Monday morning and bought some fresh organic smoked salmon, which we had for breakfast on brown bread with coffee. It was divine – a lovely subtle smoked salmon that melts in the mouth. They also have a special smoked tuna – maybe not ideal for breakfast but I’ll pick some up next time I’m there.

Breakfast is served

Smokehouse View and the Sea

After a long cycle the following day we bumped into the old fisherman unloading a small currach on the pier, having spent several hours at sea that morning.  I asked him if he’s had a good day and his response was “ah everyday is a good day for me now’ which was just such a wonderful sentiment – expressed so genuinely. After a little chat he asked would we like some crab claws. Of course we said yes and he produced a large crate of crabs and gave us a huge pot full of claws for our dinner, and looked for nothing in return. So happily we set off from the pier and off to False Bay – a spot where my mum used to take us to play in the waves, with huge basket of tuna and egg sandwiches!

False Bay – Ballyconnelly

We parked up for the night in beautiful sunny solitude. After  a swim in the waves we settled down for the night. We had ‘Chilli con Sausage’ for dinner. Like chilli con carne – but with sausages instead of mince.
After a nice long evening with a fire and a clear sky. We set a pot of crab claws boiling on the fire. After boiling for about 15 minutes, we set about the claws. Words will fail me when I try to describe how amazing these were. Wonderful and tender and buttery, which melt in your mouth. We added not a thing to these, and I’m pretty sure they couldn’t be improved on in any way. Thank you lovely fisherman, I’m pretty sure this is a food experience I’ll never forget.
Clab Claws by Day
Clab Claws by Night
Omey Island – Access via sandbank. Minutes later up to our axels in sand with the tide rising! Not funny, got towed out by some friendly druids, not a happy 20 minutes of my life
After nearly loosing Mister (the van) in the sea – we wished him a happy 40th birthday with  a lovely apple cake from Clifden Walsh’s Bakery. This was an incredible shop with a huge variety of breads and cakes. We sampled some great bread rolls, a baileys éclair (amazing!) this cake and a good hearty farmhouse loaf. I would highly recommend a visit if you’re in the area, a really top class bakery.
Then as part of Clifden Arts week there was a performance, with glass seahorses suspended from a crane, and about a hundred kids all dressed in costumes of lights dancing, fire juggling, fire hula-hooping, a fire breathing horse, and then a parade of multi-coloured castle towers! An amazing night for a birthday.

Cliften Arts Week
Detail of Glowing Castle Tower
Master of Ceremonies