Posted on 2 Comments

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 to see more details.

Posted on Leave a comment

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 ( 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]

Posted on Leave a comment


Not a lot to do with smoking I admit, but given the amount of rain we have had over the last week or two, the frogs in our wetlands have been pretty active and has a photograph of the result on their Frog Spawn Spring 2008 page.

As it’s our first first for the year, just thought you might be amused!


Posted on 1 Comment

Jellyfish swarm kills Salmon

Horrific reports from Northern Ireland about the Glenarms salmon farm losing thousands of salmon to a swarm of Jellyfish are most worrying.

I gather that another farm has been effected by this swarm and it is heading towards Scotland.

Is this another result of over fishing creating a serious imbalance in the acqua ecosystem? I suspect it must be.

Many customers have called us to enquire if this will effect our supplies this Christmas; however our supplies of Organic Salmon come from Clare Island in Clew Bay, Co. Mayo on the west coast and they have not been affected.

[tags] jellyfish, clew bay, glenarms, mayo[/tags]

Posted on 1 Comment

The Creators

Last night, I was honoured to be at the launch of Dianne Curtin’s book, The Creators: Individuals of Irish Food.

The Creators

It was held in the enticing Interior Livings, McCurtain Street, Cork, and such was the night, that the guests flowed out onto the street; some of the braver passers-by were tempted by the smell of the Caherbeg Black and White puddings cooking away, the sight of Alan Hasset opening fresh Roaring Water Bay oysters from Colin Whooley, the tastes of Gubbeen Cheese, Fingal’s Salamis, Woodcock Smoked Tuna,  chocolates from Eve St Ledger and Ummera Smoked Salmon and Gravadlax.

John McKenna of the Bridgestone Food Guides fame launched the book with much acclaim and enthusiasm. John pronounced that small producers are NOT vertically challenged people any longer, but are Creators!

Reviews of Dianne’s book will soon be out and I am sufficently biased to exclude myself from such a task, but I’ll post them as they come in. Suffice to say that the quality of the book is quite superb, from the text to the photographs (taken by Phil Curtin), to the paper, size, recipes etc etc. This is a “Must Have” book.

You can buy the book from our website (as well as many other places of course!) at

Published by Cork University Press, and available at €29.95

[tags]The Creators, Dianne Curtin, Bridgestone Food Guide, Cork University Press[/tags]

Posted on Leave a comment

Eco Chic!

To celebrate National Organic Week, The Irish Sunday Tribune Magazine published last Sunday, October 21st, an A-Z of Eco Chic, edited by Jillian Bolger and Claire O’Mahony.

Deighted to see that Ummera is included in the list of 26 of “all things cool and organic”! But then what else begins with “U”!

[tags] Sunday Tribune, Jillian Bolger, Claire O’Mahony, National Organic Week[/tags]

Posted on Leave a comment

How many shopping days to Christmas?

Our first Christmas order has just arrived into our inbox from Mr. May in the UK, and this serves as a timely reminder to us that Christmas is not too far away now.

For some strange reason, Smoked Salmon sales rocket upwards at Christmas. Never quite understood why, but it gives us smokers a real challenge. Ummera has changed quite dramatically over the last two years with many speciality food shops in Ireland (as well as in the UK) carrying some or all of our products; this has given us a year round demand and keeps us busy for most weeks of the year! Now Christmas looms and we will have to work the annual miracle once again.

Our message is simple: Please order early AND take delivery early; the smoked salmon does freeze very well.

Posted on 2 Comments

Rogue Traders and Organic Fish

There was an announcement yesterday by Food Minister Trevor Sargent regarding tightening up on rogue traders selling so called organic food when it isn’t approved by a certification body.

Unfortunately this won’t apply to aquaculture products as they won’t apply until January 2009, so “caveat emptor” when buying organic fish.

Let the buyer beware.

Check the labels for an approved Certification body such as the Organic Trust and IOFGA.

It is important to note that, where a fish has been further processed, such as smoked, and while the actual fish may have come from an organically approved farm, the processor or smoker must also be approved to call it Organic Smoked Salmon or Smoked Organic Salmon. But until January 2009 it is quite legitimate to label it as such despite the processor not been approved.

So make sure that the label carries the Organic Trust or IOFGA symbol.

[tags]Trevor Sargent, Organic Salmon, Organic Trust, IOFGA[/tags]

Posted on 2 Comments

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]