Corndale Farm Free Range Charcuterie struck gold and silver for its chorizo and salami products long associated with Spain and Italy, at the weekend’s Blas na hEireann Irish National Food Awards at Dingle in Co. Kerry.
Corndale Farm, formed last year, by chorizo enthusiast Alastair Crown, tickled the taste buds of a panel of expert food and drink judges to come away with gold for his fennel salami and silver for chorizo, his first product. He was also named ‘Best in Derry’ producer. In fact, recent awards including Great Taste have pinpointed Northern Ireland as the best place in the UK for charcuterie.
Mr Crown, a former solar systems technician, set up a small farm, near Limavady, to raise rare–breed pigs for chorizo and fennel salami to plug a gap in the local supply of cured meats. The awards at Blas follow his success in the prestigious UK Great Taste Awards in August.
“I was honoured and more than a little bit shocked to win gold and silver for my salami and chorizo in the Blas na hEireann Awards. It’s a marvellous boost and hugely encouraging to come away from these important awards knowing that my fennel salami is now the best on the island of Ireland. It will do wonders for the business I started such a short time ago. I’ve already had approaches from independent retailers about supplying them on the back of the success in Dingle.
“I am clearly going to have to step up salami and chorizo production. I am really excited now about the future of the business. I wasn’t sure in the early days how people, especially in Northern Ireland, would react to my cured meats. I’ve really been blown away by the positive feedback from chefs, food specialists and consumers about the taste and overall quality of the meats,” he adds.
Northern Ireland has now emerged as one of the most successful regions in the UK and Ireland for chorizo and salami. In addition to Corndale Farm’s success in the Irish food awards, Ispini Charcuterie at Aughnacloy, county Tyrone gained three gold stars in this year’s UK Great Taste Awards and was named ‘Best for Charcuterie in the UK’.
Northern Ireland food and drink companies, mostly smaller businesses, enjoyed a record year at the Blas na hEireann Aawards which are held at Dingle in county Kerry as part of the popular Food Festival. There was another gold for Hannan Meats in Moira for Himalayan salt–aged steak striploin. And Northern Ireland’s only buffalo farm, Ballyriff, near Magherafelt in county Derry, gained a silver award for its Buffalo Burgers.
Four major awards were won by Northern Ireland producers for a broad range of products along with over 50 medals, including 14 golds, during the three–day event.
Now in its 10th year, Blas na hEireann attracted over 3,000 entries from food and drink companies from across the island of Ireland.
The competition was founded by Irish businessman Artie Clifford to recognise and reward artisan and smaller food and drink companies for innovation and outstandingly tasty products.