Smokin’ hot tuna

July 2nd, 2011

Irish Times-Food File by Marie-Claire Digby 2/7/2011

Graham and Saoirse Roberts produce some of Ireland’s best smoked fish products at their Connemara Smokehouse, situated right on the water’s edge at Bunnowen pier in Ballyconneely. Their cold and hot smoked salmon is superlative, but they also smoke mackerel, kippers and tuna – the latter is supplied to UK chef Rick Stein for his Padstow seafood restaurant.

The cold smoked tuna is a revelation – meaty, delicately smokey and sweet at the same time. As part of a smoked seafood platter it steals the limelight from its more common cousin the salmon. Roberts says he uses only Irish albacore tuna, line-caught in an environmentally-friendly way. You can buy this delicacy at the smokehouse, or from the couple’s website and it costs €15 for a 200g pack. Delivery of up to 25kg to addresses within Ireland adds a further €12. “If customers are visiting during June, July or August, they can come on one of our tours of the smokehouse which we run at 3pm every Wednesday”, Graham suggests (booking is advisable).

Saoirse suggests using the hot smoked tuna (€15/200g), in a salad with beetroot ribbons (pictured), while Graham prefers the cold smoked atop thin rounds of toast smeared with cream cheese, with a delicate sliver of cucumber. “Normally we serve it very simply, and it goes very well with some bubbly,” he says. See

Graham Roberts, Traditional Irish Smokehouse, Ireland

Honey Roast Smoked Tuna

St. John’s Bonfire Night

June 23rd, 2011

St. John’s Eve, June 23

Is sometimes known as Bonfire Night in Ireland. It is known in gaelic as: Oiche an teine chanáimh or Teine Féil Eóin. The fire must be lit exactly on sunset and must be watched till the next morning.
In many parts of the country, people still light large communal bonfires at sunset on this day, or small family fires outside their houses.

Other customs included inviting the oldest woman in the area to go three times sunwise round the fire on her knees saying prayers, to ward off disease; in some localities, holy water was sprinkled on the fire and, as on other festivals, it was sprinkled on the house, its occupants, outbuildings, livestock and the crops. Generally, this was done by either the oldest person in the family, but in some parts of Ireland, the youngest child was asked to do it.

In many places it was the day the boats and nets were blessed and there was many an angler living inland who eagerly anticipated the arrival of sea trout and salmon which entered the rivers at this time of year.

As might be expected, there was plenty of eating and drinking! Customarily, in Connaught, a special dish called “Goody” was made. This was white ‘shop-bread’ which had been soaked in hot milk and flavored with sugar and spices. It was usually made in a large pot that was either placed on the communal bonfire or heated on a smaller fire close by. Revelers brought their own spoons and bowls if they wanted to share in the “Goody.”

Before moving on to the other customs surrounding the festival of St. John, there was one last ritual to perform and that was the bringing home of an ember from the communal fire and placing it on the family hearth. Some families also kept ashes from the fire for luck, others because they believed the ashes would ensure a peaceful death to old people who were ailing. The ashes also had curative powers: mixed with water, they were drunk to relieve internal disorders and they were used to cleanse and bathe wounds, sores and swellings.

After the merriment of St. John’s Eve and with the fire burned out, families retired to their homes to rest up for the festivities of June 24th, the Saint’s birthday!

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Irish Food-Florida Food Stylists

June 21st, 2011

Their blog was created to share two of the passions of Mary Holloway and Wendy Morton, professional food stylists from Central Florida. Content will be provided on food styling and travel.

Irish Food – WOW – You gotta try it!

The Ireland trip was great. Nine days was not enough….we did lots of cool stuff, saw beautiful scenery, were immersed with Irish music and history, drove on the wrong side of the road (!), met terrific people, and had enjoyable meals – often with Guinness!

Speaking of food….I was in a grocery store in Clifden (on the west coast of Ireland) and picked up some recipe handouts as I love to do. Guess what – the creator of the recipes was none other than my cooking instructor in Orlando – Chef Kevin Dundon! He gets around!
Foodie highlights -Cork: Touring the English Market and the Butter Museum; Clifden: Sampling Smoked Fish at the Connemara Smokehouse and making and sampling Poteen Cake at Dan O’Hara’s Homestead; everywhere: enjoying fabulous soups, fish and chips, mushy peas, cottage pie, cheeses, Irish butter, smoked salmon, wonderful scones, and even banoffee!
Posted by Mary Holloway

Seashore Safari (Aillebrack Beach)

June 19th, 2011

Seashore Safari

The Beaches of County Galway, today the 2nd event of interactive walks took place in Aillebrack, Ballyconneely where we explored the wonders of our coastal habitat with Marine Biologist J.P. Tiernan of Irish Marine Life.

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There is 9 more locations with:

Trá Cill Mhuirbhigh on Inish Mór

Bog’s Bay, Roundstone

Dumhach, Inishbofin

East End, Inishbofin

Trá sn Doilín, An Cheathrú Rua

Ceíbh an Spidéil

Trá Mór, Indreabhán

Long Point, Loughrea

Trá Inish Oirr

For more details on these events contact: Biodiversity Manager Elaine O’Riordan

Tel: 091 493863


National Fish & Chips Day

May 25th, 2011

National Fish & Chips Day 25th May 11′

(How do you like yours!)

Salmon in paper with Chunky Chips

Salmon Baked in Paper – Serves 6

* Note: Prep the chips first as the salmon will not take as long to cook!


3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped

2 shallots, finely chopped

2 Tbs. chopped fresh marjoram or oregano or

1/2 tsp. dried

3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

2 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for oiling paper

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

6  salmon darnes from Connemara Smokehouse, Wild/Organic


Preheat an oven to 230°C.

In a small bowl, stir together the tomatoes, shallots, marjoram, lemon juice, the 2 Tbs. olive oil, salt and pepper.

Rinse the fish and pat dry. Cut 6 sheets of parchment about 12 inches square. Fold each sheet in half, open like a book and brush the paper to one side of the crease with olive oil. Place a fillet on each oiled side. Spoon the tomato mixture over the fish, dividing it evenly.

Fold the parchment paper over the fish. Tightly seal each package by folding the edges over several times and creasing firmly. Place the packages on 2 baking sheets.

Bake until the salmon is opaque throughout, about 15 minutes at approx. 190°C. To check for doneness, open a package and pierce the fish with a knife.

Slide the packages onto individual plates and allow the diners to open their own packages.

The steam that forms inside the paper envelope infuses the fish with the flavor of the seasonings and keeps it moist and tender. You could serve your guests the unopened packets and let them unwrap them at the table, releasing the fragrant steam.

Chunky Chips (everyone favourite)


4 large potatoes weighing about 200-250g each

5-6 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

2 tbsp rosemary leaves

3 tbsp freshly grated parmesan


1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC

2. Halve the potatoes then cut each half into six or seven chunky chips. Place them in a pan of cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for three to four minutes then drain in a colander.

3. Heat the olive oil in a roasting tray in the oven then add the potatoes, garlic and rosemary, season and roast for about 45 minutes, turning them a couple times during cooking, or until the potatoes are crisp and cooked through.

4. Scatter over the parmesan and return to the oven for about 10 -12 minutes.

For Foods Sake -Are Irish Restaurants up the Swanny?

May 18th, 2011


After the success of March’s discussion on the future of Irish food production, chaired by Aoife Carrigy of (former Deputy Editor of FOOD&WINE Magazine), now turn their attention to the restaurant industry.

The Restaurant Association of Ireland, who will announce their annual restaurant awards on Wednesday 25 May, are warning that the industry is in crisis.

We will ask the following panelists: ‘Are Irish restaurants up the swanny?’

• Joe Macken, restaurateur (JoBurger & Crackbird)

• Enda McEvoy, chef (Gregan’s Castle & Cook Wild Project)

• Paul Cadden, restaurateur (Saba restaurant & former President of RAI)

• Caroline Byrne, food writer (Bridgestone Guide Dublin editor)

If we have had one Irish restaurant or coffee shop closing every day in the last two years as the RAI have reported, and if we are to expect 10 closures a week over the next year, as they have warned, is this an inevitable thinning out of an unsustainable ratio of restaurants to hungry punters? Do we have too many mediocre restaurants in the country who have gotten used to being able to serve overpriced food? Is competition not a good thing for consumers, and will the result be that only the fit will survive? Or are all restaurants struggling with unsustainable rents, wages and rates? And will the result be that only the bland survive and that restaurants aren’t in a position to take risks with their menus? Is it a race to the bottom?

And for all the restaurants that closed last year, what of those that opened? Is there a certain type of restaurant doing well at the moment? Do they have a formula that the others should follow? Should we focus on the success stories rather than the failures?

There will also be TASTINGS from several Irish artisan producers who will tell you a bit about why they do what they do. There will be a chance to win some great foodie PRIZES, and an inspirational talk from an Irish chef just back from a coveted stage at NOMA in Copenhagen, recognised as the top restaurant in the world. Manager of The Sugar Club and food writer ( & The Ticket’s Booking the Cooks column), Oisin Davis will host a KARAOKE COOK-OFF between DJs Conor G and David De Valera, who will pit their toastie sandwich-making skills against one another! And of course there will be a FULL BAR to help get the conversation going.

Doors 7pm (with discussion kicking off at 7.30pm sharp)

Admission is €5

For more info and updates on these events check out Holy Mackerel because food’s worth it!