It's the season for festival's and a couple of weeks ago I travelled to Co. Meath, to visit the well acclaimed Sheridan's Irish Food Festival. In a large field, in the middle of a beautiful landscape, was the location for this fete that drew in thousands. There were over 80 food producers, promoting their wares, as well as various organisations such as Bird watch Ireland, GIY and Slow Food Ireland, who were on hand to give lots of tips and advice to the festival goers. The beautiful weather also played its part, in making the day such a success, as people sat around happily sipping on organic apple juice or elderflower cordial, while a very impressive jazz band, played in the background. Throughout the day there were many well packed tents, for the profoundly interesting workshops and cookery demonstrations. This has easily been the best food festival that I've ever attended, as the true purpose of the day was clearly evident and that was to promote Irish food, and the fabulous producers that are doing such an amazing job. After speaking with many of the stall holders, it became very obvious that we are truly honoured, in Ireland, to have such an abundance of passionate food producers. What I really love about food festivals is that I get the opportunity to talk with these producers, find out how they started and get a real insight into how they have developed their product and just to know a little bit more about the person behind the brand. Most admitted that their jobs weren't easy, but their belief and love for their products pulled them through and most businesses, at the festival, are now thriving, which is really saying something in these recessionary times. It's transparent that quality stands out and I feel now, more than ever, consumers want value for their buck and aren't as quick to accept a lower standard of anything, especially their food. This is why many of these companies are doing so well and are standing the test of time. Most of these growing companies are also on line, so no matter where we are in Ireland, we can avail of their amazingly good products. I always enjoy any food related event, but I left Sheridan's feeling so unbelievably inspired and genuinely excited about the future of Irish food.
Fellow food blogger, and a real lady, Imen McDonnell, was one of the cookery demonstrators. One dish Imen prepared was a delicious chicken salad, using some leftover chicken which she had roasted the day before. Before roasting, Imen pushed some honeyed butter, under the skin, which gave a delicate sweetness to the chicken. The next day for dinner, with the sweet chicken still to mind, I decided to make this honey roast chicken dish. For an extra touch of summer, I stuffed the chicken with some sprigs of thyme and a quarter of a lemon. I placed the remaining lemon around the chicken, drizzled over a glass of white wine and seasoned with salt and pepper. The result was a scrumptious, summery, honey roast chicken, perfect for the delightful weather, we've been enjoying for the past few weeks.
1 free range chicken
100g soft butter
1 lemon, quartered
few sprigs of thyme
150mls white wine
sea salt & freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/410ºF/gas mark 6.
2. In a bowl combine the softened butter and the honey.
3. Carefully loosen the breast skin, of the chicken. Gently push the honey butter under the skin, taking care not to tear it.
4. Place a quarter of the lemon into the chicken's cavity, along with a few sprigs of thyme.
5. Drizzle over the white wine, then season well with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
6. Add the remaining lemon pieces to the roasting tray.
7. Place in the preheated oven for 20 mins/1lb of meat plus 20 minutes over. Remove the foil, for the last 20 mins of cooking, to allow the bird to brown. To be sure that the chicken is cooked insert a skewer into the leg and the juices of the chicken should run clear.
Once cooked let the chicken rest, on a plate, for 15 mins to allow the juices to settle.
In other news, if you are wondering where to go this Father's day, Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa have a really fantastic offer. The hotel overlooks two beautiful beaches and the Atlantic Ocean where guests can join a boat for a fishing trip to try their hand at catching mackerel, pollock or cod. That evening Chef Adam Medcalf of the Gulfstream Restaurant will cook up a superb meal with the line caught fish. The ‘Fish For Your Dinner’ package includes two night’s accommodation in a deluxe room with ocean view balcony, Chef’s West Cork breakfast each morning, a half day fishing trip from Courtmacsharry and your locally caught fish for dinner in the Gulfstream Restaurant or BBQ and is available from €239 per person sharing. It sounds truly fantastic!