Sally's blog

Archive - all the best places to eat, shop and stay in Ireland. A local guide to local places.

Northern Ireland is governed by the imperative to enoy great food and drink. Caroline Hennessy salutes the Belfast Agreeability.

Some of the most fun I had eating out in 2017 was in Belfast. It’s a long way to go for dinner but, if you’re there for 24 hours, as I was (twice!) it’s not difficult to make the most of a short visit and the energy and fun in the city around food makes it hard to beat.  

Chefs and Restaurants of the Year

CHEF OF THE YEAR: Maggie Roche, Hugo's, Dublin
With a CV that includes working in The Waterside Inn, and The Merrion Hotel, in 2015 Maggie Roche took on the position of head chef in Hugo's Restaurant, on Dublin's Merrion Row. 2017 saw Ms Roche receiving plaudits from all quarters for her work in one of Dublin's most classic and lovable bistros. At Theatre of Food at Electric Picnic, Maggie joined Darina Allen, Jess Murphy and Audrey McDonald on stage, and showed herself to be as adept a debater as she is a cook.

Shop, Artisan, Food & Drinks Awards

SHOP OF THE YEAR: Strandfield, Ballymascanlon, Co Louth
You have to queue in Strandfield, Hannah Byrne’s inspired mash-up of artisan food/speciality flower shop and restaurant, at Ballymascanlon, a few miles outside Dundalk. Sometimes the queue is enormous; other times it’s a little more concise. But, no one minds the queue, because this is such a special shop, and such a special place to eat.

Communicator, Influencer, Festival & Event Awards

Somehow, Elaine Murphy knows exactly what is buried in the Irish subconscious. And when she unearths it, she puts it on a menu, in a new venture like The Legal Eagle in Dublin, and everyone says: ‘How did you know we wanted to eat haslet? And crisp sandwiches? And jelly and ice cream?’ Ms Murphy just knows, and that’s why every one of her eating adventures is so successful, the Legal Eagle being just the latest.

Special and Environmental Awards

MEGABITES AWARD: Colum Lanigan Ryan, La Rousse Foods, Dublin
The pantechnicon of artisan foods and food producers organised by Colum Lanigan Ryan, as part of the extraordinary Food on the Edge festival in Galway, was simply mind-blowing. The exhibition of great Irish foods, and the people who make them, sealed the deal on a truly great event, and Mr Lanigan Ryan’s generosity in involving producers who aren’t even distributed by La Rousse shows his generosity, and his brilliance, and his pride.

Oyster Gastronomy, by Mairin Ui Chomain and Micheal O’Meara (Artisan)

Two talented writers turn to the bivalve, and wring truly thrilling inventions from our national treasure. Ms Ui Chomain’s recipes are a joy – oysters in beer drop scones!; oyster and sausage bouchées – whilst Mr O’Meara’s scintillating recipes – oysters with pickled rock samphire and wild mustard flowers is his opening shot – represent a new benchmark for oyster cookery. Concise profiles of the guys who get the waders on all around the coastline to collect these treasures gives the book an added depth.


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