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The Royal Hospital, Kilmainham last week and Butler’s Pantry this week!

Last week Bord Bia held a very successful Speciality Food Forum at The Royal Hospital with many  speciality food buyers from both here and the UK.

It was also the first time that one of the Great Taste Award judging sessions was held here in Ireland; there were over 800 entries from all over Ireland and we were delighted to get a Gold Award for our Smoked Silver Eel and a Silver Award for our Smoked Wild Salmon. Last year we were awarded a Gold for our Organic Smoked Salmon (the rules precluded us from entering it again this year).

Anyway, that was last week!

This coming week, the Butler’s Pantry Artisan Week takes place in their shops throughout Dublin, Mount Merrion Avenue, Donnybrook, Temple Hill, Sandymount, Clontaf and Rathgar. I will be tasting our Organic Smoked Salmon and our Smoked Chicken at the 2b Vernon Avenue, Clontarf shop on Friday May 26th from 4pm to 7pm, and on Saturday I will be at 53 Mount Merrion Avenue, Blackrock form 11am to 3pm.

If you can’t get to Blackrock on the Saturday, Ummera products will be available for tasting at all the shops on the Saturday as that is the Ummera Smokehouse Day of the Artisan Week!

In the interests of fairness to our other customers in Dublin, our smoked products are also available in the Avoca shops, Nolan’s of Clontarf, The Olive Deli in Skerries and as from the middle of next week in Mortons of Ranelagh.

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Smoked Ducklings……..!

Easter was good this year, but the two holidays before and after, Good Friday and Easter Monday, through our smoking schedule out so that five days had to be squeezed into three; as result I was rushing about the County Cork yesterday replenishing stocks in delicatessens and restaurants.

In Bandon I was delivering to URRU Delicatessen, which overlooks the River Bandon and the weir. Ducks are no strangers here, but yesterday there was mother duck parading her 10 one-day-old ducklings up and down the road, dodging the traffic and getting into a bit of a flap; a couple of people were shepherding them up and down the street, but the little family were just getting more and more confused!

Mother duck then took off and flew down the street, presumably to try and distract our attention from her ducklings, who then proceeded to vanish under my Caddy Van. One of the shepherds had got a couple of long handled brooms, so there I was on my knees sweeping duckling by duckling from under the van, ably assisted by other volunteers, and  popping them one by one into the polystyrene box that I had just delivered smoked salmon and smoked chicken in to Urru!

What to do with the baby ducklings now calm inside their new home? And don’t even think of Smoked Duck!

Because the river was running through the town, the bank of the river was stone faced with the river some 20 ft (6 metres) below me, it wasn’t a simple question of ushering them into the river to join the many ducks below, one of which was hopefully their mother. Fortunately there are some steps down the wall to the river, and at the bottom of the steps it was just a short swim for the ducklings to a series of islands where the ducks gather.

There was one nasty moment halfway down the steps when my feet started to slip on some slime, and I could see white polystyrene box, 10 ducklings and myself descending to the river and floating down through Bandon Town!

However, we made it. I waited until I could see a solitary (and possible maternal) duck before tipping out the ducklings onto the rock at the bottom of the steps; they waddled into the stream and paddled into the wake of the duck who led them to the island. We were a bit surprised and concerned to watch as the duck started pushing the little ones away, and snapping at them with her bill; we presumed that we had the wrong duck and that she was rejecting these orphaned ducklings. Adoption clearly isn’t an option in the duck world.

There was little else I could do, so I ascended to the top with my now rather messy white box, and going back into Urru to report on the events, I saw a very distraught duck way up on top of the three storey building; I presumed that this was the real mother searching and crying for her chicks. Having regaled Ruth and her colleagues in the shop with tales of daring do, I had a last look over the wall to check on our little orphans; to my surprise they had settled down and mother duck looked as though they actually belonged to her; and on the other side of the little island, the duck from the roof top was excitedly waddling up to another clutch of ducklings that were clearly hers!

So all ended well, and I will not be smoking duck for the moment!

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Smoked Easter Eggs!

It’s the realm of R & D, but I wonder what smoked chocolate tastes like! My problem is that my Easter eggs have all been eaten before I think about smoking them; still they are so enjoyable as they are, why mess with them.
I use the same argument when people ask if our Smoked Chickens are Organic or Free Range. My father originally started smoking chickens to put some flavour into a tasteless, bland product; if you have a tasty organic or free range chicken, why mess with it? Anyway, doubt anyone could afford to buy it!
Kinsale Market this Tuesday and the second Bandon Market takes place this Easter Saturday. Fine weather is all we ask!

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Farmers Markets Update!

Go straight to Conor O'Neill's web log for comments and photos of a very successful first farmers' market in Bandon.

The Kinsale Farmer's Market every Tuesday has suffered from a couple of rather damp, cold and windy days, but even so the hardy souls of Kinsale have kept us all busy. Casey O'Connail's Hot Chocolate has been my favourite tipple every Tuesday morning!

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2006 Salmon Quotas announced – a good day for the salmon

The newly appointed Minister of Marine, John Browne TD, has announced that he is adopting the recommendations of the National Salmon Commission.

The full announcement can be read at: Minister’s Announcement

Ummera welcomes the contents of this announcement as it at last gives some encouragement to those who have been concerned about the dramatically declining stocks of wild salmon in Irish waters. 

It will undoubtedly have a serious impact on our business from next year, but I would prefer that than see salmon stocks declining to the point of extinction. I am sure that there will be wild salmon available in the future for us to smoke, but it may take several years before it can make a viable business. In the meantime, we are much encouraged by the response to our smoked organic salmon, our smoked chicken and smoked dry cured bacon rashers.

There has been far too much hot air and unsubstantiated statements from both sides, and both anglers and commercial fishermen are as guilty as each other. I trust that the anglers will not now cheer at the sufferings of the drift netsmen; they have to remember that, for the anglers, it is a hobby, but for the netsmen, it is part of their livelihood. For the drift netsmen, they must accept that they are part of the reason why stocks have declined so much recently – not the sole reason, but still an important part; those 100,000 fish that will be spared the net next year and thereafter will provide the basis on which our salmon stocks will start to grow once again.

The anglers have now to demonstrate their belief in conservation, by ensuring that catch and release is practiced wherever and whenever as witness of their concern for salmon stocks, especially in those rivers which are deemed to have stocks below the conservation limit.

A good day for the salmon – at long last.


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Magpie steals the bacon!

Last week Daylesford Organics from the UK paid us a visit here in Timoleague; as well as hopefully enjoying their visit, they took away some of our Smoked Dry Cured Bacon Rashers to sample at their hotel the next morning – assuming that they could persuade the Breakfast Chef at Maryborough House Hotel to cook it!

I have just received an e-mail from Greg Dawson, Daylesford’s Food Buyer saying:

Sorry I didn’t mention the bacon, it was stunning.
We asked the chef to cook it up for us on the Friday morning and he kept half of it, so you may end up getting an order.
On the afternoon we returned from you I put the bacon on my window sill at the hotel to keep it cool, only to see a magpie swoop down and pick up a packet, before flying of with it firmly in its beak. Even the birds in Ireland have good taste! He gave me a little look as he landed – Frank Hederman commented that the magpie was probably Catholic and felt a pang of guilt.
Made me chuckle

I couldn’t resist asking Greg’s permission to publish; it made me chuckle as well.

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Covent Garden

I am packing my bags for a quick vist to London for the Irish Speciality Food Market in Covent Garden next Saturday and Sunday, March 11th and 12th. It was great fun last year – despite the cold. If you are in town, come on down and see us! We hope to have the full range of our products for sale – and some for tasting if the crowds do not overwhelm us!


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Kinsale Farmers Market

It is looking good; three Tuesdays in February with sunshine has really given this new Farmers Market a great start. All the stallholders seem happy with the prospects of an excellent summer ahead – and  whilst the sun has been shining, it will be good to start getting some warmth soon!

This looks as though this Farmers Market will have to be “must do” on everyone’s itinerary to West Cork; see you on Tuesday between 9.30 and 1.30!


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Protected: The New Arrival!

On Monday February 6th 2006 at 12.05pm, Conor Robert Creswell was born. He weighed in at 8lbs 13oz and both he and Harriet are very well.  Here are a handful of photographs taken with his big sister Brigid and Muireann (who is no longer the baby!!). He has not yet discovered the power of a smile!