More than an Iftar – a Celebration of Irish Food
Team FoodeMag have been keeping it low key this Ramadan and have mostly celebrated Iftar at home or with family and friends.
One invite however was hard to resist and mid Ramadan I headed to an Iftar hosted by Bord Bia the Irish Food Board who had kindly hosted me on a press trip to Ireland last year.
The hearty menu (see below) was designed to showcase Irish food available in Dubai and was curated by Chef Thys Schoeman, Head Chef from The Sum of Us along with the Bord Bia Middle East team.
Irish Nostalgia served up in Dubai
The event was so much more than an Iftar! On show were over fifty different Irish food items now available in Dubai many of which I had tried during my press trip to Ireland in 2018 and have nostalgic (and tasty) memories attached to them.
The majority of the items are from small family businesses and having met some of the families involved in these businesses last year, its’ great to see their local producing hitting the shelves of Dubai, something most of the people we met had never imagined would happen to them.
Memorable Dishes in more ways than one!
Personal favorites from the menu included the Panna Cotta which was made using Killowen Farm yogurt who we visited last year. Killowen is a family owned business and has been in the Dunne family for over 200 years. Aside from the stunning setting in which the cows graze (see my press trip post for details) Killowen also pride themselves on never using preservatives or additives in their product and their yogurt tastes amazing! The Panna Cotta was paired with Flahavans Oats, one of Ireland’s oldest food companies dating back to 1875.
John Stone Beef, Lamb and Silverhill Duck
I was delighted to finally get to try Silverhill Duck, another place we visited last year. SilverHill are an Irish family company founded over 50 years ago. Their duck is served in their very own restaurant in Singapore as well as top restaurants worldwide. We also visited John Stone, meat supplier and artisanal butchers, last year and on the Iftar menu was Lamb and Beef both from John Stone. John Stone works on with animals who are fed only on a natural diet of the freshest, greenest grass and herbs. This purely natural diet and healthy lifestyle is what adds to the meat’s marbling and gives it that rich and distinctive flavour.
A final shot of nostalgia was the farm house cheese board, with some of the cheese coming from Cooleeney Farm where we spent a good few hours tasting cheese, apple pie and homemade bread with Breda after a trip to her farm. Other cheeses did not disappoint either including Glenstal Vintage Irish Cheddar, Gortnamona Goats cheese, Carrigaline Natural and Smoked cows milk cheese, Cahills Cheddar with Chives and Milleens soft cows milk cheese. Reason enough to go back to Ireland to meet some more cheese producers!
A Celebration of Irish Food
There were so many other Irish products used in the menu, ranging from the big names that we’ve all heard of, need I say more Kerrygold butter! through to smaller niche products including Jelly Beans (yes they hail from Ireland!), Butlers Chocolates, Jam, relishes and honey. Some amazing Rocky Road snacks, yes I might have had one but wanted to eat so many more! (so not Keto!). Cakes! Traditional Oats, trendy Quinoa baked snacks, and some super Dairy free Ice-cream. Through to some some oh so good smoked salmon and mackerel! I’m sure there are more!
Thanks to the team for such a lovely lingering Iftar full of tasty food and food memories which left me with a hankering to explore the Irish food scene more – be it here in Dubai or back in Ireland.
Chef Thys Schoeman, Head Chef at the Sum of Us has shared three recipes from the evening which you can find by clicking the links below.
A very Irish Menu
~ CANAPES ~
Smoked Mackerel & Smoked Salmon
on sourdough crostini with Dill Mayo
~ STARTERS & SALADS ~
Smoked Ginger, Chili & Lime Smoked Mackerel Niçoise Salad
Irish potatoes, Cos lettuce, Boiled eggs, French beans, Niçoise dressing
Confit Irish John Stone Leg of Lamb Salad
quinoa, carrot, cabbage, pomegranate, feta, herbs
~ MAINS ~
Celery, Puy Lentils, Fennel, Cherry Duck Jus & Quinoa Crunch
Falafel, Herbed Crème Fraiche
Aged Beef Sirloin
Roast Irish Potatoes, Horseradish Cream,
~ DESSERTS ~
Vanilla & Basil Yoghurt Panna Cotta
Oat crumble, Raspberry Puree
Dairy-Free Ice Cream with Assortment of Toppings
~ CHEESE PLATTER ~
Selection of Irish Cheeses
Sweet Tomato Relish, Ballymaloe Relish,
Whole Wheat Crackers & Crisps
~ WITH COFFEE & TEA ~
Selection of Cakes from Coolmore & Seerys
[Disclaimer: This was a hosted invite from Bord Bia ME. The event was opened by H.E Aidan Cronin, Irish Ambassador to the UAE. Ambassador and in attendance were a selection of industry professionals, Irish food Producers, and a small number of media and bloggers. All opinions are my own. All images taken by me].