THREE Clare food producers have made it to this year’s finals of the Blas na hÉireann food awards.
The finalists shortlisted from Clare across a range of categories are Meere’s Pork Products, The Burren Butcher and St. Tola Cheese.
The Burren Butcher, aka Neil Hawes, has operated as an artisan butcher since 2008 and specialises in local Burren meat. He was nominated for his six ounce steak burgers.
Neil sells from a pop-up stall at his home in Lisdoonvarna and is also to be found at Ballyvaughan Farmers Market.
Meere’s Pork Products have made it to the finals for the first time and have been nominated for their sausages.
The family have been making award-winning pork products since 1975 from their base on the outskirts of Quin.
They were awarded Dunne’s small producer of the year in 2017 for their contribution to the ‘Simply Better’ range.
We are absolutely over the moon … for the first time and after some hard work ,our sausages have made it to the finals of @BlasNahEireann and that is a winner in our eyes , whatever happens in October 🕺 pic.twitter.com/BFj9JZGEps
— meeres pork products (@Meerespuddings) September 13, 2021
St Tola’s, meanwhile, is one of the most renowned artisan food producers in the country.
It is best known for its gourmet goats cheese that has been hand made in Inagh since 1978. It has won scores of awards down the decades, including at previous Blas na hÉireann finals.
Our Shane laying our fresh bedding for our goats. Happy goats make delicious milk! @Tweetinggoddess @EurotoquesIrl @farmersjournal @caisireland @visitBurren @GastroGays @AnthonyOToole_ #farming #Goats #goatscheese #Ireland pic.twitter.com/dl8TIUtLEY
— St Tola Goat Cheese (@StTolaCheese) September 14, 2021
The awards weekend will take place virtually again this year on October 2.
Now in its 14th year, the team at Blas na hÉireann has had to work harder than ever this year to make sure the awards went ahead.
The organisers had to move the blind-tasting judging system from the campus in UCC to Dingle to work within Government guidelines and the constraints of social distancing.
With the blueprint for this new system developed last year, the team were able to ensure the judging was handled with the same care and attention as always, according to a spokesperson for the awards.
“We’re delighted to announce the finalists for 2021 and chuffed to see so many new products being entered into Blas na hÉireann this year,” said chairperson, Artie Clifford.
“Last year was new territory for us but the team here did tremendous work to make sure the awards went ahead and the sense of community that we experienced over the virtual awards event was just brilliant.
“We saw a large increase in entries this year and these new producers have really raised the bar across all categories and will allow us to introduce new producers to the buyers and press whom we work with which is really exciting.”
The awards will be announced over the course of the day on October 2 on the Blas website www.irishfooodawards.com and across social media channels.