The ceremony took place in Dublin on Tuesday 7th March, 2023 marking 30 years of the Awards.
Food NI members Lough Neagh Fisherman’s Co-Operative and Ballylisk of Armagh are two of out just eight winners across the island of Ireland at the 2023 Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards. The Food Awards were for Smoked Lough Neagh Eel and the Ballylisk of Armagh range. The awards, in their 30th year, took place at Suesey Street restaurant in Dublin.
The citation for the Smoked Lough Neagh Eel stated that “a Lough Neagh eel is a curious thing. “Born in the Sargasso Sea, the young elvers gradually make their way across the wild Atlantic to mature in the largest freshwater lake on the island of Ireland. It’s a unique habitat and one which ensures that Lough Neagh eels are renowned for their flavour and texture.
In 1965, Lough Neagh Fishermen’s Co-Operative was set up to safeguard the
traditional methods of catching eels. In 2011, Lough Neagh eel joined an illustrious line-up of foods such as Champagne, Gorgonzola and Parma ham when it was awarded PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) status by the EU. In line with careful conservation guidelines, the Co-Operative now catches and processes around 220 tonnes of Lough Neagh Eel annually. A select few are smoked and it is this smoked Lough Neagh eel that wins a 2023 IFWG Food Award.
The citation for Ballylisk of Armagh cheese described Ballylisk’s range as “a real taste of Armagh”. “Mark Wright, one of the fifth generation of the Wright family, who grew up on the family farm at Ballylisk, Co Armagh, makes Ballylisk’s Triple Rose. This white mould ripened, single-herd, triple cream cheese was Armagh’s first farm-produced cheese. Since developing and launching the flagship Triple Rose, Ballylisk has gone on to make two more gorgeous cheeses. There is also a range of accompaniments, notably a balsamic Bramley apple chutney, to complement the cheeses.
Speaking about this year’s awards, Caroline Hennessy, chair of the IFWG said: “Since the Food Award’s inception, each winner has been chosen independently and anonymously by IFWG members, recognising the best in Irish food by shining a light on smaller producers who might otherwise slip under the radar. From traditional products of the highest quality to new innovations, this year’s winners exemplify what is so exciting about Ireland’s food and drink industry right now.”