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Tag: Great Taste Awards

Spud Sunday: Big Fish, Big Food

Before I get to this week’s spud topic, this is something that I think is worth your attention.

Tuesday was the Irish Government’s Budget Day – delivered to the tune of their austerity anthem – while Wednesday was no less than World Food Day – an initiative of the U.N. Food & Agriculture Organisation, with a theme based around sustainable food systems and food security (or how we ensure that people have ongoing access to food without destroying the planet in the process). On Thursday, however, it was another organisation that brought the intersection of these two events into sharp, local focus when news of an urgent appeal for support by Irish Seed Savers hit social media channels.

Irish Seed Savers

Irish Seed Savers is a Co. Clare based non-governmental organisation dedicated to the conservation of Ireland’s plant genetic resources, and they maintain a seed bank with over 600 rare and endangered vegetable varieties, along with native Irish apple and grain collections, as well (of course) as a collection of heirloom varieties of potato. In their appeal, they point out that knowledge of, and access to, this seed base brings with it at least some control over Ireland’s future food security, but with severe cuts in funding from the Dept. of Agriculture in recent years, the survival of Irish Seed Savers – like the survival of the seeds they save – is in very real danger. You can read about the appeal and ways to support the organisation here.

I used to think of Tayto – or, rather, Largo Foods, Ray Coyle’s snack manufacturing business, which makes Tayto, Hunky Dorys, King Crisps and others here in Ireland – as the big fish in crisp terms. And, relative to some of the newer entrants to the Irish crisp market, like Keogh’s and O’Donnells, that, I suppose, is the case. This week, however, has given my big fish notions a bit of Big Food perspective.

tayto cheese 'n' onion

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Spud Sunday: The Best Possible Taste

Ah yes, the eagle-eyed among you will observe that this week’s Sunday installment is suffering from two day delay syndrome. What can I say except that a week spent in the U.K. will do that to a body, and I did, as you will see, have some rather important foods to attend to while I was there.

Thank you for the loan of your taste buds.

That was how Bob Farrand opened proceedings at the final day of judging for this year’s Great Taste Awards, which took place at the HQ of the Guild of Fine Food in Dorset last Wednesday.

My guess is that everyone there had been more than happy to volunteer the use of their taste buds for the day (and a fine collection of taste buds they were, belonging, among others, to buyers from such as Fortnum & Mason and to respected food writers like Joanna Blythman, Charles Campion and Xanthe Clay). And I know that I had be only too delighted (charmed! honoured!) to pack my palate and get on a plane in order to participate, and all this despite there being no guarantee that potatoes would feature (and sure enough, despite their undoubted potential to taste great, spuds didn’t feature on this trip, except on the fringes and in conversation, with at least one exchange including the suggestion that a post about the decidedly dangerous weapon that is the potato cannon might provide appropriate grist to my mill – but I digress).

Bob Farrand & Mike Cook at the Great Taste Finals

Lights, camera, kitchen towels:
Founder Bob Farrand & adjudicator Mike Cook chat before final judging begins, while the Great Taste beavers busy themselves in the kitchen alongside

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