Euro-toques Awards

The Euro-Toques Association of Chefs was founded in 1986 by Pierre Romeyer who then owned La Maison de Bouche restaurant in Brussels. Since then Euro-Toques has gone from strength to strength and now has 176 members in Ireland and 3,000 members, mainly chefs, all over Europe. They are primarily concerned with supporting the producers of the best foods in Europe and thus maintaining the fine quality and flavour of their ingredients.

 They also try to maintain the traditional dishes and traditional ways of preparing and cooking foods of the regions of Europe and to facilitate a rapport between chefs of different countries. They are the only organisation of chefs which is recognised by the European Union as a lobbying group of European Food Legislation. Euro-Toques is not an elitist organisation, members adhere to a code of honour stating that they must promote the use of fine quality food and avoid convenience foods or products that have been adulterated or are undesirable for consumption. Each national branch organises activities for their members, such as mushroom hunts, visits to food producers, informative talks, food fairs etc. Their French office runs the Fete de la Cuisine, whereby members offer a special menu using traditional dishes and beverages of that region. It will be held on 22nd May this year. 

For the past 3 years Euro-Toques in Ireland have presented Euro-Toques awards of Merit. This years winners were R&A Bailey, Cashel Blue and Crozier Cheese, Midleton Markets, West Cork Natural Cheese and Frank Krawczyk West Cork Salamis.

The Euro-Toque award of merit went to R&A Bailey and Co. The award was also given to Baileys in recognition of their continuous support of Euro-Toques Ireland, enabling them to actively lobby for the protection of quality producers and chefs at National and European level. It was presented posthumously to David Dand who conceived and launched a unique, natural, Irish liqueur which is now a world leader in its field.

Baileys is a phenomenal Irish success story. It is the single most successful new spirit brand to be introduced anywhere in the world in the last 30 years and now ranks 9th in the international league of top selling global spirit brands.

There are over 400 people employed directly in the manufacture, marketing and sales of Baileys in Ireland. 1,400 Irish farmers supply the 50 million gallons of milk used annually in producing cream for the liqueur. Baileys accounts for 6% of all food and drink exports from Ireland 

The 2nd award went to Cashel Blue and Crozier Blue Cheese, ”for the development of excellent cheese products, which are consistent in their qualities, true to their locality, of superb flavour and unique in style”. 

Grubbs created the first Irish Farmhouse blue cheese from cow’s milk and now the first Irish Blue Sheep’s Milk Cheese – Crozier Blue.

In the late 1970’s Louis Grubb took over his father’s farm with his wife Jane and started to build up a closed herd of pedigree Friesians. But Louis and Jane had a sense of impending doom, there were butter mountains beginning to pile up, too much milk sloshing around the EU and talk of quotas. Louis explains ”We didn’t want to sell the milk to the local creamery who would turn it into a low price commodity product. So, my wife, who had been a chef, said ‘we’ve done the heavy work’ (meaning holding the herd) – ‘now we have to make something from the milk ourselves”.

The first thing they thought of was ice-cream, but that needed expensive cold storage and transportation. A few other farms had successfully turned to farmhouse cheese- making i.e Milleens and Gubeen. There was a good Irish farmhouse cheddar maker too, but to their knowledge, no existing Irish Blue cheese-maker. Louis researched and Jane started experimenting and by 1984 Cashel Blue had arrived.

Castle Blue is a mild, moist blue cheese. Their farm ‘Beechmount’ is near Cashel. The terrain is rolling hills and the soil is heavy, giving rich pasture in the warm months which, says Louis “turns into a quagmire of mud under the cows hooves in the winter.

The milk goes into 500 gallon vats along with the vegetarian starter culture and the blue mould ‘penicillium roquefort’. The temperature is gradually raised until the curds begin to form. These curds are cut by hand, drained and carefully filled into moulds with strictly no pressing- so the cheese retains moisture. They are then pierced to allow some air in for the veins to start developing. By six weeks the flavour has started to develop and by twelve weeks Cashel Blue is fully flavoured.

When young, the cheese is firm and relatively moist with a fresh and slightly sharp flavour. As it ages, it develops a melt in the mouth creaminess and a rounder, milder flavour. Cashel Blue can be matured for up to six months. The very best cheese is made from April to October when the cows are out to pasture, but it is always excellent throughout the year. It is also a favourite for cooking since it melts smoothly and retains its depth in flavour.

The most recent addition to their product line is the delectable Crozier Blue made from sheeps milk by Louis Grubb’s nephew, Henry Clifton Brown from the milk of 200 ewes on his parents’ sheep and tillage farm at Ballinamona, Cashel. He delivers the fresh milk to the Cashel Blue Cheese plant, where it is made into cheese. Fortunately milk quotas do not apply to sheep’s milk production. Both cheeses have deservedly won many other prizes also. 

Another award went to a project very close to home - Midleton Farmers Market “for foresight in trying to preserve the small farmers and producers in Ireland by offering them a direct market for their produce. Also for having paved the way for the revival of similar food markets in towns and cities across Ireland”.

In June 1999, when John Potter Cogan and the other members of the Agri- Business sub-committee of Midleton Chamber of Commerce perceived that the local farming community were facing serious problems. After considerable research they decided that a local food market would be beneficial not only for the farmers and food producers, but also the consumers and the local business community.

The initial committee included members of the town council of Midleton, members of the local business community, a food scientist, and myself.

The aim was to provide an outlet for local farmers and food producers to sell directly to the public who seek highest quality, fresh, as far as possible local, food in season at a fair price.

This market which operates from 9am – 2pm on Saturdays, has gone from strength to strength since its initiation on Whit Weekend in June 2000.

Stalls cover a diverse range of local produce from organic meats and vegetables, homemade breads and cake, local chocolates, farmhouse cheese, pickles, preserves, smoked fish and salamis. Country Markets also take a stand there.

“Many of the stall-holders freely admit that were it not for the market they would no be longer be in business. They are a wonderful example to us all and have paved the way for the revival of similar food markets in towns and cities in Ireland”.

Next week we will feature the other award winners.
Contact details on all producers
R&A Bailey Ltd, Nangor House, Nangor Rd, Western Ind Est, Dublin 12.
Tel: 01 4051200 Website: www.baileys.com

Cashel Blue and Crozier Cheese, Beechmount, Fethard, Co.Tipperary 
Tel: 052 311511 E-Mail: jlgrubb@eircom.net

Midleton Farmers Market, Midleton, Co.Cork
Every Saturday morning 9:00am – 2:00pm 

Euro-Toques Ireland, 11 Bridge Court, City Gate, St Augustine St. Dublin 8.
Tel;01-6779995. E.mail:info@eurotoquesirl.org www.eurotoques.org 

Chicory with Cashel Blue, dried Cranberries and Pecan nuts

Serves 10 -12 as a canapé or 4 as a starter

1 head of chicory 
30g (1oz) dried cranberries
40g (1½oz) walnuts or pecans roughly chopped.
50g (2oz) Cashel Blue, roughly crumbled.
A few sprigs of watercress
Walnut oil (optional)

Separate the chicory leaves and carefully arrange on a serving plate. Mix the dried cranberries, chopped nuts and crumbled cheese gently together – careful or it will be a mess.

Spoon a little filling into each leaf, they can be covered and chilled for 2 or 3 hours.
Garnish each one with a sprig of watercress.
Just before serving drizzle with a few drops of walnut oil if available.

Note: This also make a delicious light first course for a dinner party or a delectable accompaniment to a cold roast pheasant.

Baileys Irish Cream Mousse and crushed Praline

Serves 24 

3 large free range eggs
5 ozs (130g) castor sugar
4 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur
10 fl ozs (300ml) cream 
2 teaspoons powdered gelatine
2 tablespoons cold water

24 Chocolate Cases - optional

Praline 
2 ozs (55g) unskinned almonds 
2 ozs (55g) castor sugar

Decoration 
½ pint (300ml) whipped cream 

Put the egg yolks with the castor sugar and 4 tablespoons of Baileys Cream into a bowl and whisk either over boiling water or with an electric whisk, until the mixture becomes a stiff mousse and reaches the ‘ribbon’ stage. 

Whip the cream until it reaches a ‘soft peak’ fold gently into the mousse. Sponge 2 teaspoons of cold water in a small bowl, place the bowl in a saucepan of simmering water for a few minutes until the gelatine is completely dissolved. Stir a few spoons of the mousse into the gelatine and then mix gently but thoroughly with the remainder of the mousse. Place the bowl of mousse in the fridge or stir over ice until it begins to set at the sides. Whisk the egg whites until they reach a stiff peak, stir in a few tablespoons into the mousse, fold in the remainder (it is essential for the success of this recipe that the egg whites are folded in, just as the mousse is beginning to set, if it is too set the mousse will be heavy and lumpy!) 

Fill the chocolate cases (if using) about ¾ full, and allow to set in a fridge (cover with cling film, if there are other foods in the fridge so that the mousse does not pick up other flavours). 

Meanwhile make the Praline: 

Put the unpeeled almonds and sugar into a small heavy bottomed saucepan over a low heat, do not stir, the sugar will melt and then caramelize. At that stage rotate the pan until the almonds are evenly coated with praline. Pour out onto a lightly oiled tray. When the praline is cold and hard crush it to a coarse powder. (We use a Magimix). 

To serve 

Pipe a rosette of cream onto each mousse, sprinkle about a teaspoon of coarse praline powder over the top.