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Clodagh Mckenna’s Ummera Smoked Chicken Paella

The Sunday World Magazine yesterday had some great coverage of Clodagh McKenna and the launch of her second series of Fresh from the Farmers Markets which is being screened on RTE 1 at 7.30pm on Wednesdays.

Delighted to see that Clodagh used our Smoked Chicken in one of her two Main Courses in her “Ummera Smoked Chicken Paella”; the original version, which doesn’t include mussels or prawns for those with shellfish allergies, can be found on our Smoked Chicken page .

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Real Food in London – with a little help from Ireland!

We are taking part in the Real Food Festival at Earls Court, London at the end of next week – or rather from Thursday April 24th through to Sunday. The first day is a Trade Only day and I have some complementary entrance tickets available; so if you are going to be in the Big Smoke, and would like to go, do let me know.

Full details can be found at www.realfoodfestival.co.uk

By the way Ummera will be on Stand P76, but I am afraid that we will be there only on the Thursday and Friday.

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Office Administrator wanted!

After two years, William Murphy has sadly announced that he is leaving Ummera at the end of the month. He is moving into the higher echelons of accounting! As Office Administrator, William has helped us enormously to service the new markets which we have been developing since he arrived at Ummera. And we now urgently need a new William!

If you, or anyone you know, might be interested in joining us, please go to www.ummera.com/admin.html to see more details.

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Is integrity the missing ingredient?

I was reading the following editorial over breakfast this morning and felt that the editor had it just right! Bob Farrand, Publisher of the Fine Food Digest, the official journal of The Guild of Fine Food (www.finefoodworld.co.uk) wrote this editorial in the January edition:

Guild Image

When the entire family came for lunch over the holiday, we ordered five ribs of beef from the butcher in Wincanton High Street. The meat was from a local farm where most of the animals are sold to a supermarket, but the farmer holds a few back that are slaughtered locally before the meat is dry hung on the carcass for 28 days. It was the best bit of beef I’ve ever tasted.

The animals sold to the supermarket are transported several hundred miles for slaughter at the company’s approved abattoir and the meat is wet conditioned in barrier bags before the joints are disbursed to stores all around the country. My local branch proudly boasts it sells locally 21 day hung beef.

Now we’ve just had Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall getting emotional about battery chickens. About time too. TV Chefs generally refuse to slag off supermarket food, as do many food writers and journalists, something to do with big advertising budgets, I think. Hugh is a real food hero, as is Rick Stein, but you can’t help feeling Jamie’s’ message would sit more easily on the ear without the millions he’s pocketed from Sainsbury.

Reading the supplements this weekend, I discovered the usual collection of ‘taste tests.’ Most were results from anonymous testers exclusively tasting supermarket own label foods. Journalists get sent free food from large retail groups with big PR budgets, which means small producers rarely get a look in.

In the same supplements, recipes from Ramsey, Novelli, Locatelli et al encouraged us to get back into a kitchen we’ve hardly left since Christmas to prepare dishes of breast of chicken, salmon steak and rib of beef. Added ingredients included wine vinegar, horseradish, balsamic glaze and fromage frais.

Not one offered any guidance on selection. Would the dish taste better if the chicken had lived for 92 days scratching around in the open air rather than 41 days in a cage the size of an A4 page? Would an own label horseradish do the job as well as one made in small batches using wild roots and fresh cream?

We don’t know because they never tell us about regionality and provenance when listing ingredients for their recipes and rarely include local branded foods in their taste tests either.

If all these media luvvies are happy reaping the rich rewards of their privileged roles, they should accept the responsibilities that go with it. They should preach what they practise. If they use quality ingredients in their restaurants and at home, they should tell us so and they should stop providing succour to supermarkets. If on the other hand their weekend shopping trolley overflows with own label, they might as well admit the truth and make way for those with more integrity.

2008 should be the year when chefs and foodie writers finally come out of the closet and get proper food between their teeth. They might also expose some of the so-called ‘local’ stuff in supermarkets for what it really is.

Bob Farrand, Publisher

[tags] Guild of Fine Food, Jamie Oliver, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall[/tags]

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A heart warming feeling!

For humble smokers to get a mention in the newpapers is always good news! And to get a mention in the Financial Times, or FT for those in the know, is great news!

Interestingly enough they make the comment “Irish smoked salmon is something of a connoisseur alternative to the stuff that comes from Scotland or Scandinavia but stocks of wild salmon of the Irish coast are so depleted that environmentally minded smokeries are taking it off their lists until numbers recover.”

We have had a number of enquiries for wild salmon as the Chrsitmas orders for smoked salmon come in, but we have given them our position and converted most! There will always be those who won’t listen and don’t understand the pressures that the wild salmon have been under, and will continue to be so for a while yet.

I was walking along the banks of the River Argideen which runs below the smokehouse the other day; it was very heart warming to see so many wild salmon in the river, more than I have ever seen before; in recent years, to see one salmon was a red letter day. If this is replicated on many Irish rivers, and they are left alone, then they will spawn and in 3 to 4 years time it will be exciting to be beside an Irish river.

Of course, there are other real problems which must be addressed such as the quality of the spawning beds and the quality of the water which now is so adulterated with pollution from agriculture and sceptic tanks.

[tags] Financial Times, Argideen, FT, wild salmon[/tags]

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Ummera – Just in time for Christmas!

The following mail has been sent around the world:

Our weather is so mild for early November, it is hard to imagine a white Christmas! But think of Christmas we must, and I am hoping that this email will focus your attention on ordering some of your Christmas fare good and early! To order right now, go to Orders

The last year for Ummera has been very exciting with an increasing number of Speciality Food outlets in Ireland and in the UK stocking our products. Please Click here for an up-to-date list.

However, the year has been tempered by the total lack of wild salmon. As you will be aware, Ummera has specialised in smoking the Wild Atlantic Salmon since the early 1970’s but we have, in the last couple of years, taken as pro-active a role as possible in trying to ensure that the stocks are not totally decimated.

In 2006 we made a decision not to buy any more wild salmon until we could be assured that they came from a sustainable fishery. In 2007, the Irish government placed a ban on the commercial drift net fishery and we have confidence that this will greatly improve the salmon stocks in our rivers. It may take four or five years before we see a sustainable harvest again.

We have been offered wild salmon from Scotland, Norway and the Pacific but we smoke Irish salmon in Ireland, and we smoke the best available Irish salmon. Currently the Irish Organic Salmon are the best available to us, so we smoke them for you.

We therefore encourage you to enjoy our Smoked Organic Salmon, not just in the interest of conservation but also for its superb quality. Earlier this year, we introduced an Organic Gravadlax, organic salmon marinated in dill, sugar salt, peppers and a splash of whisky – all organic. Traditionally served with a dill and mustard sauce, but sue very sparingly, if at all, as the flavour of the gravadlax is easily overpowered..

There is a world-wide shortage of eel, and it is under even greater threat than the wild Atlantic salmon. The EU has announced drastic measures that come into force next year and it is very unlikely that we will be smoking Silver Eel for some time to come.

Our Hot Smoked Crown of Chicken has been very successful this year and our Smoked Dry Cured Bacon is assured to make you insist on only Ummera Bacon in the future!

Our last dates for orders is December 10th and our last shipping date is expected to be December 17th (USA & Canada: December 10th).

If you have any questions when on our web site, please email us or skype us (acreswell) or even phone us and William or myself will be very happy to help.

Quick Links:
To Order: Orders
Find Stockists: Outlets
Smoked Organic Salmon: Smoked Organic Salmon
Smoked Chicken: Hot Smoked Crown of Chicken
Smoked Dry Cured Bacon: Smoked Dry Cured Bacon
News/Weblog Page: Ummera News
Main Ummera site: ummera.com

Wishing you a very Happy Christmas from us all at Ummera

 

Anthony Creswell

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Caveat Emptor – again!

Our last post was about labelling of organic salmon.

Perhaps a few words about labelling of wild salmon might be helpful.

With Wild Atlantic Salmon being so scarce this year, if you are looking for the genuine Irish Smoked Wild Atlantic Salmon this Christmas do make sure that it is what you think it is! Flying out of Dublin Airport recently, I saw Smoked Wild Salmon in the shop and if I didn’t know better, I would have assumed that it was Wild Irish Atlantic Salmon. But it wasn’t!

It was wild pacific salmon, shipped half way round the world, smoked in Ireland and sold as Smoked Wild Salmon. Technically correct, but I don’t think that’s the point.

It is highly misleading. And how did I know that it was from the pacific? Under labelling regulations, we have to put on the label one of several options for describing the origin of the fish. In this specific case, you can either put the “Caught in FAO Area 67” or “Caught in North West Pacific”. In this case the smokers preferred to hide the origins under the code so that unsuspecting shoppers wouldn’t know that it wasn’t Irish.

Is it Smoked Irish Salmon or Irish Smoked Salmon? Caveat Emptor!

[tags] wild salmon, wild atlantic salmon, smoked salmon, Dublin Airport, labelling regulations[/tags]

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Speciality & Fine Food Fair Olympia – Stand 638

This is the third visit of Ummera Smoked Products to the Speciality and Fine Food Fair. It is irresistible!
Ummera is a tiny company, employing four people (and not all fulltime!), but somehow their name and reputation has spread to many places far from their home in West Cork, Ireland.
In this year’s Bridgestone Irish Food Guide, written by John and Sally McKenna, they say of Ummera “….seems to pick up culinary awards as often as the rest of us have hot dinners.” They go on to say, “It’s no surprise that his smoked foods should be so garlanded, for they have a delicacy, a subtlety, that shows the smoking process being used at its zenith.
In March 2007, Ummera were honoured with the Irish Guild of Food Writers Award for their Smoked Silver Eel. Sadly, the eel stocks are in great difficulty so this is almost a posthumous award.
In August, the Irish Food and Wine Magazine had their annual Restaurant of the Year Awards in Dublin. A new Award was introduced this year for Best Artisan Supplier; Ummera was one of the nominees for the award and received a Highly Commended.
Ummera’s new product for 2007 is an Organic Gravadlax. Launched quietly early this year, Ummera has been delighted with the response to this simple marinated salmon.
By using the very finest of ingredients in the marinade, Ummera has lifted the simple to a complex. The organic salmon are sourced from the west coast of Ireland; the salt comes from traditional saltpans at Tavira, on the Algarve, Portugal. The dill and peppercorns are organic and Ummera uses a raw cane sugar organically grown in Costa Rica; the last international element to their Gravadlax comes from the London & Scottish Distillery in London, an organic whisky.
[tags]Olympia, Speciality and Fine Food Fair, Bridgestone Irish Food Guide, Food and Wine Magazine, Gravadlax, Organic Whisky, Tavira, saltpans[/tags]

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Restaurant of the Year Awards 2007

Third time lucky! I am off to Dublin tomorrow to the Mansion House to join the celebrations of the Restaurant of the Year Awards 2007 organised by the Food & Wine Magazine; should be great fun and I see that it is sponsored by Edward Dillon & Co who I worked for many many years ago on their wine side in Mountjoy Square – ahh what memories!!

However, 3rd time lucky with what! Transport. I had planned to travel up sleepily with Irish Rail, but all the seats are sold out on the morning trains – All Ireland Semi Finals – should have known bettter.  So off to Ryanair to find flights fine and times fine but price definitely not; I admire free enterprise and what Michael O’Leary has done, but there are times when I see profiteering for profiteering sake, but then I guess supply and demand rules. Thankfully Aer Arann don’t have that degree of flexibility to change prices to respond to market forces, so off to Dublin with Aer Arann – and I’m looking forward to it.

So an early start in the morning; have to leave home by 6.00am, arrive Cork |Airport around 7.00am and land Dublin 8.55am. Guess it beats driving, but the train would have been better!

[tags] Food & Wine Magazine, Edward Dillon, Ryanair, Irish Rail, Aer Arann, Michael O’Leary, Mountjoy Square, The Mansion House, Restaurant of the year awards[/tags]