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Smoked Salmon and Onion Scones

Last December I went to Amsterdam as part of a Good Food IrelandFailte Ireland promotion with other members of Good Food Ireland.

Catherine Fulvio of Ballyknocken House and Cookery School was there and she made these wonderful Onion Scones and filled them with our Smoked Organic Salmon.

Here’s the recipe she sent me:

Ballyknocken Onion Scones

2 tbsp butter / olive oil (for frying)
1/2 large Spanish onion (or 2 medium onions), finely chopped
2 tbsp leek, finely sliced
225g / 8 oz plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp / 2 ½ ml bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp / 2 ½ ml salt
1 tbsp / 15 ml sugar
50g / 2 oz butter, cold, cut into pieces
40g / 1 ¾ oz grated Parmesan
200g / 7 oz natural yogurt

Preheat the oven to 250?C / 400?F / Gas 6

Heat the butter / olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onion over medium heat, stirring often, until lightly browned. Remove the onion to a small bowl and cook the leek for 5 minutes without browning. Add to the onion.

Sieve together into a large bowl the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and sugar. Transfer to a food processor and add the butter. Run the motor for 3 – 4 seconds (or blend the butter by hand until the mixture resembles oatmeal). Transfer back to the bowl and stir in the onion and leek mixture together with the cheese. Mix in the yogurt but keep a little back and only add it if the mixture is very dry – the dough should be a bit sticky but not wet. Transfer to a floured surface and lightly knead for a few seconds. Pat it out until it is about 2 ½ cm / 1 inch thick. Using a pastry cutter cut out 5 cm / 2 inch rounds and place in the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes.

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Chocolate Smoked Salmon

In last week’s Newletter, we rather “tongue in cheek” mentioned Chocolate Smoked Salmon as an April Fool thought.

Well, we received an email from Finbarr in Kerry:

Can I assure you that several Easters ago in a three star Michelin Restaurant in Versailles – la Trianon Palace Hotel – where the Armistice was signed after World War 1- ( the restaurant is now being run by Gordon Ramsay and he won two stars last years too!)  we enjoyed a chocolate themed dinner which started with wonderful Wild Smoked Scottish Salmon with shaved chocolate – 70% of course, and it was marvelous. The veal with white chocolate sauce was also amazing – I forget what we had for pud but it was chocolate!

So tell that to your taste panel and have a rethink.

Just replace Wild Smoked Scottish Salmon with Ummera Smoked Organic Salmon and get some organic dark chocolate, 70% of course!

So this is NOT an April Fool joke!

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How can it be farmed and wild at the same time?

It appears that in Ireland it can be.

Three days of Court cases as reported by the Irish Times:

Friday March 20th
Fish supplier guilty of breaching legislation

Tuesday March 24th
‘Wild’ salmon sold at Wrights was farmed, court told

Wednesday March 25th
Charges against Wrights of Howth are dismissed

The final report from the Irish Times quotes:

Judge Ann Watkin said she was satisfied Wrights of Howth, Galway Ltd, had offered for sale packets of salmon labelled “Irish smoked wild salmon” at Dublin airport in April 2007 which contained salmon that had been bred and raised in cages to the point of harvesting and had been owned by someone.

“However, I am not satisfied I have sufficient evidence in this case that the salmon was farmed within the meaning of the Act.”

She said because the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) had, in its charge against Wrights of Howth and two of its directors, specified the salmon had been “in fact farmed…they must prove it was farmed within the definition of the Act”.

Referring to European Council Regulation 1198/2006 on the European Fishery Fund, she said the FSAI had not proved salmon bred and grown “generally” in Irish “fish farms” were cultivated using techniques that would identify them as “farms” under the terms of the regulation.

Fish farming, or aquaculture, in the regulation is defined as “the rearing or cultivation of aquatic organisms using techniques designed to increase the production of the organisms beyond the natural capacity of the environment”.

She said she was “impressed” by the FSAI’s argument that according to Irish regulations salmon for sale must be identified as having been caught at sea, in an inland waterway or farmed, and that the salmon in the packets seized at the airport in April 2007 was caught neither at sea nor inland. She said this was a “very compelling argument”.

Is this a case where the “Law is an A***” or ………?

Please read these reports and do put a comment below to help us understand the significance of the Judge’s decision.

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Eels wriggle on – but for how long?

Our rather alarmist headline in our newsletter of March 9th,  “Smoked Irish Eel will be extinct by the end of July“, caught the eye of some of the media!

The first to publish is the UK’s Country Life magazine with a piece by Marianka Swain entitled “ Ban on Irish eel fishing for 90 years“.

Look at the Wikepedia entry for European Eel. Note that it is labelled as “Critically Endangered”. Depending on the source, but stocks returning to European rivers are down by 90% (and probably more) since the 1970’s.

Another fascinating entry relates to the life cycle of the eel . No one knows just how the eels make their way back to their spawning grounds!

There are still some unsolved myteries about.

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New Newsletter and a warning!

Ummera has been a bit distracted since our last post!

We have been caught up in exploring and trying to understand the most recent addictive substance – Twitter!
If you have no idea what Twitter is, then we suggest you dive into and have a quick look.

However,  you have been warned!


Yesterday, our new Newsletter hit the streets – or rather the cyber highway.
And how remarkable!

From the moment we pushed the send button, details of who had received it, who had opened it, where they went too, when they clicked on a link – all this was available to us during the day!

If you haven’t received a copy of the Newsletter you can join by clicking here. It is an Opt-In list, with a two-stage registration process  – but very simple and quite painless!

One of the interesting things we have been able to do with the mailing list is to ask people on the list to check out their own Preference Control Center; here you can indicate where you come from, what products of ours you are interested in, if you are a private or trade customer; this will enable us to tailor-make future e-mails to your specific interests. All new subscribers will automatically be asked to complete their profile, but if you have received our newsletter and would like to amend your details, please click on the Preference link at the head of your last newsletter.

We have a little offer coming out within the next couple of days – just in time for St. Patrick’s Day and Mothers Day.

But you’ll only know about if you susbscribe to the Newsletter, this weblog or Twitter!

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Tears for a whale

I am not sure why but I was just a bit reluctant to go and look at today’s news story here in West Cork – a fin whale washed up on this morning’s high tide in Courtmacsherry Bay. But they are very special creatures and it would be something awesome for future memories.

Why the fin whale came into the bay and why he died will be discussed many times over the coming weeks in the houses and bars surrounding the bay, from the Pink Elephant to Courtmacsherry Hotel and all the bars in-between!

A Sad End
A Sad End


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Traceability & the FSAI

Yesterday Dr. Alan O’Reilly of the FSAI told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture that there were three reasons to justify the withdrawal of all pork products from Ireland’ shelves last month. See report in The Irish Times today.

His third reason was the most worrying: “It was not possible to distinguish between contaminated and uncontaminated products in about 98 per cent of the national pork throughput. Reminding the committee that pork was back on the shelves within a week, he said if all pork had been left on the shelves, it would have been impossible to trace contaminated products.”

So much for the traceability that the FSAI themselves have imposed on us.

98% of pork products are NOT traceable?

Our supplier of bacon for curing is only able to give us full traceability if we get pork killed on a Monday. Any other day, and we will only know that it came from one of maybe 5 to 10 herds. We’ll be getting our bacon from the Monday batch from now on. And we will put the name of the grower on the label.

If the FSAI insist on us implementing all the “controls” for “one step forward one step back”, then let’s make it applicable for ALL steps.

Update: Please see Comment below.

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Great marketing – yes!

On December 1st last, we commenced dealing with UPS as our preferred courier for shipping our smoked salmon around the world. It is hard to change suppliers, especially days before our really busy time began, but the price difference between our existing courier and UPS was too great for us to ignore; our customers were delighted with the savings which we passed on in full.

Fortunately, the service worked exceptionally well with only a couple of problems which are, however much one tries, inevitable.

Well, one month on, and UPS and ourselves are still on good terms; I even received a card in the post from them last week. Very clever card…. as the pictures above and below show! 

I was impressed at least – and as the customer that’t what counts! I think that Seth Godin would also be impressed!

Thanks Tom, Kevin, Billy, Pat, John and Dennis for a providing a service that did what it said it would do!


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Release all pork products NOW.

The following Press Release clearly confirms that there is NO risk to your health from eating Irish pork products now, in the past or in the future.

Let the authorities lift their ban on the sale of all pork, both recalled and in process.

There is NO justification whatsoever for continuing this disasterous state of affairs.  

Even if the pork comes from pigs which have been fed on the feed from the Carlow Mills, that too should be available for sale. There is a very very low level of risk but only  if you eat pork three times a day, seven days a week.

European Food Safety Authority Reaffirms FSAI Scientific Risk Assessment on Irish Pork

10 December 2008


Confirmation of a low level of risk associated with the consumption of Irish pork potentially containing the level of dioxins identified by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reaffirms the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) risk assessment earlier this week. EFSA stated today that there is no concern for consumers based on the assumption of exposure over the period of time identified and that effective measures have been taken to remove excessive exposure from Irish pork and pork products. The EFSA Opinion supports the risk management decision to recall all Irish pork and bacon products, thus reducing the time of exposure to potentially contaminated product.

The European Commission requested EFSA to carry out a scientific risk assessment for human health related to the possible presence of dioxins in pork and pork products and its findings corroborate the FSAI’s opinion based on its own risk assessment issued on Sunday night.

The FSAI is reviewing the EFSA risk assessment on composite products containing low levels of pork and is of the view that these pose minimal risk to consumer health.

According to Mr Alan Reilly, Deputy Chief Executive, EFSA’s Opinion provides another reassurance to consumers that there is no cause for concern and any risk to health is extremely low for consumers. He reiterated that the product recall was taken as a precautionary measure to protect consumer health from products containing an illegal amount of dioxins.

EFSA’s Opinion can be found on

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Bacon Saga Update……

We could get some of our bacon out today, or at least cleared today, but the Pork processors are playing brinkmanship with compensation talks with the Government.

Clearly, the processors feel that as they have lost significant export markets, and its now too late to attempt to get them back for the peak Christmas sales period,  that they are hanging in for the maximum they can get. Their workforces have been laid off or are on protective notice.

Sadly, the small added value processors, like ourselves, won’t see a slice of this compensation package and there are several (maybe many) who rely on pork products for their living who may not come out of this debacle.

Ivan Yates has been pretty critical of the post recall handling, and I think that the Government needs to show who s running the country again – having damaged it initially, they must do something right sometime, surely! Government must get product moving today and order the processors to release information.

And the Vets must be allowed to get the information from the slaughterhouses and processors to clear product NOW.

Tomorrow will be too late for some…..