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It’s the time of year to …Think Irish

A new online initiative has been launched, intended to help consumers make informed choices in their buying decisions to support jobs in Ireland and economic recovery. is a consumer-driven campaign and on-line resource designed to provide consumers with the information they need to identify and source Irish products.

Those behind the campaign believe it could potentially create 20,000 jobs in Ireland.

It is a not-for-profit initiative developed by retail entrepreneur Jonathan Stanley. He is joined by Dublin accountant Eamonn Freaney, Paul McArdle of The Panel, Peter Kruseman of Mindstars and Alan Graham, a senior marketing executive.

The campaign advocates playing to the strengths of the Irish economy by supporting domestic Irish business and producers. “It is not a question of protectionism, we know imports are a critical part of this country’s success and in particular our export success,” said Mr. Graham.

“We’re not advocating support for any domestic product that doesn’t offer equivalent or greater value to the imported one. Switching €20 need not cost a cent extra – provided people are equipped with the right information. For example, we still import 25-30% of the bottled water we drink, yet it’s often more expensive to drink imported bottled water than a domestic brand – so switching will actually save you money.”

Launching campaign, its director, Alan Graham, said: “ seeks to consolidate and channel consumer power to drive economic recovery and empower ordinary people to take an active role in our economic recovery through their buying decisions. By switching just €20 of their weekly purchases to Irish goods and services, consumers can help to generate 20,000 new jobs across the country.”

The central function of is to give consumers can access a web-based forum where they can and share accurate and relevant information about Irish sourced goods and services. This includes Ireland’s first online directory of Irish products that will allow consumers search for Irish alternatives for the everyday products they buy.

The idea is being promoted by a group of Irish business people who believe that Irish consumers are capable of making a positive impact on economic recovery and job generation, seeks to leverage this collective buying power of consumers by providing information and encouragement to choose locally-sourced products.

Mr. Graham said,“ is different to other ‘Buy Irish’ campaigns. It’s not a commercial tactic, it’s about Irish consumers finding a voice and a platform to effect change, and raise awareness about how powerful consumer spending can be.”

He added, “We want consumers the length and breath of the country to get involved, share information and make more informed purchasing decisions.

Mr Graham insists that is not a commercial tactic, but a tangible means by which local people can help support the thousands whose jobs are dependent on Irish industry.

“Irish people have a basic in-built desire to support local manufacturing and the farming community. We want to tap into this national trait and empower consumers to decide for themselves what they can and want to do to help support Irish business and Irish jobs. is ultimately about helping people to help themselves,” concluded Mr. Graham.

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Smoked salmon is fit for any cause..

A quirk of fate, and an email and Ummera finds itself jointly sponsoring the Smoked Salmon at tonight’s Parliamentary Palace of Varieties at the Intercontinental Hotel on Park Lane, London in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.

The Parliamentary Palace of Varieties has become a must in the Westminster calendar. It is a fun, entertaining evening when members of both the House of Lords and the House of Commons generously give their time to share their amazing, and frequently unexpected talents.

In previous years audiences have been entertained by Cabinet Ministers who tap dance, a folk singing Foreign Secretary, classically trained MPs, a jazz playing Peer and a Parliamentary Rock Band – which includes MP @IanCawsey, as well as listening to poems and laughing at monologues and sketches performed by mixed party politicians from the newest MPs to the Lord Chancellor.

Ummera is jointly sponsoring the smoked salmon with Uig Lodge Smokehouse on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides off the coast of Scotland.

Students of Irish and Hebridean history are well aware of the synergies between the two regions, but here the synergy exists between the two smokehouses as they were both founded by my father, Keith.

From Cork in Ireland, Keith Creswell crossed the sea to advise son-in-law Malcolm. Under Keith’s instruction, the Uig Smokery was established. They smoked on both the shores of Cork & The Isle of Lewis. Two houses joined over a single question: “Which salmon smokes best: Irish or Scottish?”

On a wild Atlantic edge, Guardian of the Uig Smoke, Kenny MacKay tasted his way through endless concoctions. He found the recipe for a dry cure that’s best for Scottish salmon. He’s always seeking to perfect his recipe…

Back in Cork, where the River Argideen turns tidal to the sea, the Creswell branch steeped salmon in a brine of Portugese sea salt from Tavira. They mixed in a little raw Costa Rican organic cane sugar – until the fish was right. Dried in Cork air, smoked for hours over sawdust of oak…

Today, both smokeries are led by Anthony (in Cork) & Dickon (on Lewis), sons of their founders. An older generation’s experience (inspiration?) has smoked its way through to the fish.

The families may be in competition to provide the most subtle & tasty fish.

Both addicted, both obsessively focussed on the beauty of top class smoked salmon – produced with love.

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Smoked Chicken and Tea?

Wanting to help a customer last week,  I asked if there was anything we could do to increase his sales.

He promptly replied:  “Yes, you could herd a few thousand people into our half deserted center…….!”

So in the continuing spirit of goodwill, I asked him how he used our smoked chicken – and back came the reply:

We use Ummera smoked chicken for sandwiches and for a salad. We make it with iceberg lettuce, the chicken and a few pieces of Italian semi-sundried tomatoes (marinated in olive oil, garlic and herbs). This way no other ingredient is distracting from the fine smoked chicken flavour.

This is by far our bestseller. We get proper first class breads from a french producer to make sure the whole package is on the same quality level (baguette, ciabatta, sour dough bread which we daily bake on the premise).

In the salad we just use iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, garnished with the same sundried tomatoes and we use the very aromatic olive oil from the tomatoes as dressing. Another dressing option is our own jasmine tea dressing but this works better with normal green salads.

Smoked chicken goes well with almost any tea. Especially finer black teas, e.g. Darjeelings, Chinese black teas (have a sweet-smoky flavour), Chinese green teas (not so much Japanese green teas) and above all fine Oolongs (between a green and a black tea with distinctive peachy notes).

And so wrote Martin Mehner of The House of Tea in the CHQ Building at the IFSC Center in Dublin 1

Check out the House of Tea website to learn more about Martin’s teas and do drop by and enjoy one of his amazing Smoked Chicken Sandwiches!

Ummera Smoked Chciken

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Where DOES our pork come from?

There was an article last Saturday in the UK’s Mail Online about how UK Supermarkets and food outlets have come together to create a voluntary code on the labeling of pork products in respect of country of origin. (Read it here)

Since Ireland’s Pork Fiasco in December 2008 there have been noises made about exactly where our Pork comes from. There are now Assurance Schemes which help to reassure us that those particular products are Irish, but there is nothing in place to show where pork products NOT bearing these schemes labels come from.

Are we to assume that all products NOT carrying these labels are therefore NOT Irish grown pork?

The pork that we cure and smoke is Irish; what’s more we can trace our pork back to the farm where it was grown, back to Martin O’Donovan in Timoleague for instance, which is much more than most suppliers of bacon or pork can do.

But we aren’t part of Bord Bia’s Quality Assurance Scheme, so don’t assume that if it doesn’t have the Q.A. stamp on it that it’s not Irish.

The need for clear Country of Origin labeling is obvious.

Yesterday, Ummera had a Twitter conversation/debate with Bord Bia over the question of traceability.

Thought you might be interested in it:

ummera: Supermarkets in UK agree to reveal the REAL origins of their pork products;@BordBia @GoodFoodIreland and here?, Feb 24 from HootSuite

Bordbia: @ummera Food products, especially meat with our Quality Assurance Scheme logo on it is produced in Ireland and fully traceable.10:01am, Feb 24 from TweetDeck

ummera: @Bordbia And Pork? Farm to fork? Not yet by any means.10:39am, Feb 24 from HootSuite

Bordbia: @ummera & Pork. Bord Bia Quality Mark assures consumers with fully traceable & origin Ireland product, processors/farmers all audited.1:36pm, Feb 24 from Web

ummera: @Bordbia Quality Mark excellent, but it is all the rest that aren’t covered. Shouldn’t there be traceability Farm to Fork on ALL products?2:30pm, Feb 24 from HootSuite

Bordbia: @ummera That’s why it’s important to look for the Quality Assurance Mark on products., Feb 24 from TweetDeck

ummera: @Bordbia Indeed; but do you think that supermarkets, & retail outlets here could agree a voluntary code for all pork products as in the UK?3:31pm, Feb 24 from HootSuite

Bordbia: @ummera Not sure how valid the policing of a “voluntary” scheme is. Bord Bia Quality Assurance marks offers validity with audit process. 4:12pm, Feb 24 from Web

All we really want to know is where our food comes from: what country, and if Irish what farmer and where?

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A modest food hero of West Cork

Last night, RTE’s Nationwide had a piece on Val Manning of that famous institution, Mannings Emporium at Ballylicky, West Cork.

Anyone travelling on the road north of Bantry on the way to Glengarrif, Kenmare and Killarney will have passed this little shop with the grand name; anyone with a modicum of interest in food will have been compelled to stop and enjoy Val’s company and stories.

To those of us working with food in West Cork ( and further afield) Val has been the mecca for artisan producers over the last 30 years and it is right that he should have been given such warm coverage last night. Val gave support and encouragement to many over the years.

Click Nationwide to watch the clip.

And I’ve just heard that Carmel Somers of The Good Things Cafe in Durrus has just been on TV3, s0 West Cork really hitting the news!

And a reminder to those readers in the UK that as from March 1st we have our very own Swansea Cork Ferry coming back.

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London Tasting – Friday January 29th

A London meeting was to be arranged; a flight from Cork was booked ahead of confirmation of meeting; meeting was delayed; what to do with 6 hours spare in London?

Quick phone call to Dan Mortimer of Mortimer & Bennett Delicatessen in Turnham Green Terrace and six hours filled! A tasting was arranged and so Anthony will be there available to talk, taste and answer questions.

Time: 10:30am to 3:00pm (maybe later!)

Smoked Organic Salmon, Organic Gravadlax, Smoked Chicken and Smoke Duck will be available.

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Give thanks …..and support!

“This holiday season we would like to give thanks to those responsible for real change in the choices available to us for food.
These individuals and businesses do not author feasibility studies, they do not organize conferences or write newspaper articles to talk about the change they want to see.
They are the change.
Oftentimes we forget the names of the real soldiers who create alternatives to commodity standards and remember the names of those who write about them.”

This quote comes from today’s Newsletter from Heritage Foods USA and applies equally to many producers in Ireland and across Europe. It is thanks to these “soldiers” that we continue to have real food here. Support them this Christmas and throughout the year.

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Our favourite Organic Porridge wins…..

Congratulations to Flahavans for winning the Exporter of the Year Award 2009 last night; their organic porridge gets me going these dark and damp mornings!

Ummera Smokehouse was one of the Nominees for the Seafood Exporter of the Year Award along with Burren Smokehouse in Co. Clare and Glenmar Shellfish in Co. Cork. The winner was Burren Smokehouse for its success in exporting 60% of its products. Congratulations!

One of the challenges that we, as a small producer and player in the export field, have to face continuously is the amount of paper work; certainly since the EU this has been reduced dramatically for exports within the EU, but move outside the EU and it’s a minefield!

When exporting to the USA, for example, not only do we have to be registered with the US FDA, but for every shipment, be it 1 kg of Smoked Salmon heading over to the US as a Christmas present or a 40′ container, we have to apply to the US for a Prior Notice approval; this can be done on line and is reasonably speedy. However, that’s the easy part. We also have to apply to the Irish SFPA (Sea Food Protection Authority) for a Health Certificate and a Certificate of Origin 48 hours before shipment. The inspector from the SFPA then has to visit us and physically inspect the Smoked Salmon and then issue us with 3 sheets of paper.

Apart from the infuriating delay in waiting 48 hours to get the paperwork, there is also the unbelievable cost factor of sending an inspector from the SFPA to inspect 1 kg of product with a value of €50.00; if it was a pallet or a container, then fair enough but for one small pack! Whilst we enjoy the visit of our inspectors, we do feel that their time would be better employed in more cost effective operations.

It is the “One Shoe Fits All” mentality of bureaucracy that persists in making life very difficult for small producers.

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Can’t Live Without …….

Can't Live Without
By Clodagh McKenna


Ummera Smokehouse is run and owned by the wonderful Anthony Creswell. The  smokehouse has been in the Creswell family for the past 30 years. In 1988 Anthony took over the running of the business from his father. Anthony’s father, Keith, started smoking salmon at the smokery that he and his friends caught in the local rivers Argideen, Bandon and the Blackwater, and also chicken as he had a chicken farm. Anthony keeps the tradition, but has also started dry cured bacon that is so good it makes your toes curl!

I adore the Ummera smoked chicken, and you must try it – it’s amazing in a paella, risotto or just with a salad. Ummera also produce a wicked Gravadlax, so make sure you get your orders in soon for Christmas, as its a much sought after food! The smokehouse is in Timoleague, Co. Cork and you can buy direct from Anthony by calling 023 8846644 or by e-mail See for delicious recipes which also includes one of mine for a West Cork Paella!.