Georgina Campbell Awards 2012


Every year the Georgina Campbell Awards are eagerly awaited by the restaurant industry. Awards are always fun, they lift the spirits and generate extra buzz at any time but most particularly at present when so many businesses are being put to the pin of their collar even to survive. Georgina’s highly respected guide has been in operation since 1997, she continues to think outside the box. Innovation is the name of the game at the moment, everyone is trying desperately to find new ways to attract business, so this year she added four new awards and four new criteria awards to highlight establishments who are excelling in unexpected areas and targeting a particular clientele.

The Pet Friendly Hotel of the Year took my fancy, Derek Davis who presented the awards at Bord Bia in Dublin, quipped that “many people would rather leave their husband behind than the dog!.” and so were missing an opportunity… not so the Dunloe Castle Hotel in Killarney who, for a nominal charge per night, has created a pet-friendly environment with luxurious kennels or a dog friendly guest room with pet beds and pet treats – the only trouble is likely to be persuading them to hop in the car when it’s time to leave.

The Green Hospitality Award went to Cooperhill House Riverstown, Co Sligo, where the 500 acre estate of woodland and pasture supplies much of their food. They compost vegetable waste and use sustainably produced firewood. Georgina reminded us “that they were environmental centuries before it became fashionable” Café of the Year Award went to Builín Blasta Café in Spiddal, Co Galway. Where there was much praise for this little café owned by New Zealander J-me Peaker – “where tea is made with real leaf tea and baking is a genuine forte.” Sunday Lunch of Year was won by VW Restaurant Viewmount House, Co Longford. “Sunday lunch is back with a vengeance for family get-togethers – a real treat.”

The Casual Dining Award which acknowledges and highlights the quality of smaller establishments, especially those serving all day food, went to the Salty Dog Hotel and Bistro in Co Down as did the Hotel Breakfast of the Year Award. Outstanding Service Award went to the outstanding Chapter One Restaurant owned by Ross Lewis in Dublin. The Ethnic Restaurant of the Year Award went to Cava – Spanish Restaurant and Tapas Bar in Galway for its all day Tapas menu and for having brought “a true taste of the Iberian Peninsula to Galway City.”

Peter and Mary Ward of Country Choice in Nenagh, Co Tipperary scooped the first The Natural Food Award “who better to begin than with an establishment – coffee shop, retailer and artisan producer – that celebrates the simple good foods of the locality in simple words, meats, milk, cream, eggs, butter and flour: The economy of Tipperary is agricultural and we intend to demonstrate this with a finished product of tantalising smells and tastes.”

Cork picked up several other awards The Just Ask Restaurant of the Year went to the Farmgate Restaurant in the English Market, Pub of the Year 2012 award went to Mary Ann’s Bar and Restaurant Castletownsend and Ballymaloe House were very proud to win three awards – Good Cooking Award, Good Housekeeping Award and Best Breakfast Award 2012.

For a full list of award winners visit or better still buy the Georgina Campbell Guide 2012 and keep it in the glove compartment of your car.

Apple Muesli

Serves 2

This recipe can be made in a few minutes and is so full of vitamins you’ll be jumping out of your skin all day!

4 tablespoons rolled oats (the speedicook type)

3 tablespoons water

2 large dessert apples eg. Golden Delicious or Worcester Permain

4 apples eg. Cox’s Orange Pippin

1 teaspoon honey approx.

To Serve Soft brown sugar and maybe a little runny cream

Equipment 1 grater

Measure out the water into a bowl and sprinkle three tablespoons of oatmeal on top. Let the oatmeal soak up the water while you grate the apple. A stainless steel grater is best for this job, use the largest side and grate the apple coarsely, skin and all. I grate through the core, but watch your fingers when you are coming close to the end, pick out the pips and discard. Stir a tea spoonful of honey into the oatmeal and then stir in the grated apple, taste, if it needs a little more honey add it, this will depend on how much you heaped up the spoon earlier on. Divide it between two bowls. Have one yourself and give the other to your favourite person that morning. It should taste delicious just like that but will taste even scrummier if you sprinkle over a little soft brown Barbados sugar and a very little runny cream.

Peter Ward’s Pint Glass Soda Bread

This is one Peter’s signature recipes at Country Choice. It was put together in response to his sons request for nice bread when he was starting collage. He was a bit lazy and hated measurements etc. So Peter came up with this recipe as every student has a pint glass. He uses Macroom flour but any good wholemeal would do.

pint glass coarse flour

 pint glass white flour

 three quarters of a pint buttermilk

enough salt to coat the bottom of a pint glass

enough soda to coat the bottom of a pint glass

tablespoon butter

Mix dry. Add wet, shape and bake. We make a flat cake about 1 ½ inches high with a cross on it and bake it on the floor of the hot oven of the Aga. Alternatively, bake in an preheated oven – 230°C/450°F/Mark 8 – for 15 minutes then at 200°C/400°F/Mark 6 for a further 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Builín Blasta Café Organic Irish Salmon Fishcake

Makes 6  

500g (18oz) plain dry mashed potatoes

500g (18oz) organic salmon pieces (skin off & bone out) 

100mls (3½fl oz) white wine

1tbsp Dijon mustard

1tbsp tomato ketchup

1tbsp anchovy – chopped

salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/ Mark 4. Firstly poach the salmon in a small oven proof dish with the wine plus just enough water to cover. Bake with a lid on for approximately 15 minutes. Drain and flake into the mashed potatoes. Add the mustard, tomato ketchup and chopped anchovy, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and combine with a fork, taste and correct seasoning. Cool and store in the fridge for hour.  Divide into 6 and shape the fishcakes. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a pan over a medium heat, fry the fishcakes for about 2 minutes and then transfer to the oven for 10-15 minutes. (Alternatively finish on the pan) J-Me likes to serve these with steamed green vegetables like kale or spinach and a sweet chilli sauce.  

Farmgate Restaurant’s Poached Leg of Mutton with Caper Sauce

The Just Ask Restaurant of the Year Award went to the Farmgate Restaurant in the English Market in Cork. Since opening in 1994 – well before most restaurateurs in Ireland thought it might be popular or profitable to focus on local produce and traditional dishes – Kay Harte’s café above the English Market in Cork has epitomised everything that is best about simple, wholesome, fresh Irish food that has travelled as short a distance as possible to reach the plates of their happy customers.

Serves 6/8

1 leg of mutton – around 2 ½ kg (5lbs 18oz)

300 ml (10fl oz /½ pint) of chicken stock (use low- salt bouillon if necessary),

enough water to cover mutton in the pot

bay leaves, onions, carrots and leeks (2 of each should do) (vegetables are used for flavouring the stock- discard after cooking)

Put all of the ingredients for the mutton into a large enough pot and bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer gently for 1 ½ – 1 ¼ hours. While the mutton is cooking you can get on with making the caper sauce – which can be kept warm until serving.

Caper Sauce

50g (2oz) butter

50g (2oz) plain flour


capers to taste (Kay Harte uses lots) optional:

a teaspoon of English mustard or a little anchovy is lovely.

Melt the butter (over a medium heat), then add the flour (classic Roux base). Stirring continuously, add 300ml (10floz / ½ pint) of heated milk and 300ml (10floz / ½ pint) of stock from the mutton pot. When bubbling, add in good quality roughly chopped capers and chopped parsley. Add in a drop of cream (mustard or anchovy if using), and season to taste. Remove from heat and keep warm until serving. Slice the mutton – and serve with caper sauce and steamed golden wonder potatoes in their jackets. Some fresh parsley looks lovely to finish.

Builín Blasta Café Chocolate & Beetroot Brownie

The beetroot can be added raw, all you need to do is peel and grate it but J-Me Peaker finds the outcome nicer if the fresh beetroot is cooked and grated. “The texture is soft and the flavour is fantastic.”

Makes 12  

185g (6 ½ oz) dark chocolate 70% cocoa solids

185g (6 ½ oz) butter

3 free-range eggs

440g (15 ½ oz) sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

155g (5 ¼ oz) white flour 300g (10 ½ oz) raw beetroot finely grated

8 inch round oven dish lined with greaseproof paper

Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Mark 3. Melt the chocolate & butter in a Pyrex bowl over a pot of lightly simmering water. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract – not too much, just give them a little beat to combine. Pour this into the melted chocolate and fold.  Add the flour and then the beetroot.  Pour in the brownie batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 45 minutes, cool, then cut into 10-12 pieces. Serve with lightly whipped cream. Enjoy! 


Midleton Farmer’s Market – Don’t miss the great new ‘Ms. Hederman’s’ stall piled high with irrisistible sweet puddings, pastries and petit fours…Try her chocolate and chestnut rum pots or the lemon creams, yummy. Every Saturday 9.30am to 2pm. Facebook: The Ms Hederman’s – 0868213984

Time to order your turkey or goose for Christmas – I’ll be looking for a bronze turkey this year. The Good Food Ireland website has a list of suppliers  You can also order Christmas geese and turkeys from Nora Aherne 021 4632354.

Darina Allen’s Cookbook of the Week – Tapas by Elisabeth Luard – A brilliant little book on Tapas by one of my favourite cookery writers of all time Elisabeth Luard. Elisabeth has been living in Spain for fifteen years and her seemingly effortless style of writing and understanding of the way in which ordinary people’s cooking reflects their history, culture and everyday life, makes her one of the most individual and distinctive food writers of all time. Tapas are the wonderfully tempting little dishes of food that are traditionally served with sherry in southern Spain. Beautifully simple, tantalisingly delicious and easy to prepare, they are perfect for all kinds of occasions. Perfect to nibble with drinks or a little selection makes an irresistible starter. Tapas are about brilliant ingredients; Elisabeth gives suggestions for tapas for different seasons and occasions. Published by Grub Street Press.

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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