We all like to know where the food we are eating has come from, whether eating at home or dining out.
As children, almost everything we eat came from within the locality.
Photo: Michael McLaughlin
The local butcher shop, greengrocers, and fishmongers, all sourced their food locally.
But the more we learn about mass food production and the dangers of man-made fats, allied to the increasing use of sugar and its substitutes, we yearn for the old way of growing food locally and naturally which we now know produces the healthiest food.
In light of all this, it is good to see Ballina restaurant, Belleek Castle, being recognised for its Trojan efforts to source all of its meat, fish, and vegetables from Co Mayo and regional food producers.
Bord Bia has just named Belleek Castle as the Just Ask Restaurant of the Year 2014 – a campaign that encourages diners to seek information on where the food on their plate comes from and also urges restaurants to provide such information on menus.
Local, seasonal ingredients from land, sea, and air
Speaking about his sourcing policy, Belleek Castle’s Head Chef, Stephen Lenahan said: “Our philosophy is to use local, seasonal ingredients from our land, sea, and air which wouldn’t be possible without our fantastic local producers and suppliers.
“Winning the monthly Just Ask award back in March 2013 has really made a difference – our restaurant is busier and our customers are interested in talking with us about our sourcing and suppliers.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to have been chosen as the overall winner for 2014 and we appreciate how lucky we are to have such a wealth of high quality produce on our doorstep.”
Restaurant’s beef is sourced from local farmers
Dry-aged in-house, the restaurant’s beef is sourced from local farmers and supplied by Michael McHale in Castlebar and Michael Carr in Ballina who also supply Belleek Castle with lamb, pork, bacon and chicken.
The game is supplied by Pat White in Claremorris and Wild Irish Game in Co. Wicklow.
Most of the fish is sourced from Joe Garvin of Ballina and gravlax is produced in-house.
Paddy Ward in Co. Donegal supplies fresh crab while mussels are picked by Padraig Gannon in Achill Island.
Vegetables and organic herbs supplied by Enniscoe House
Vegetables and organic herbs are supplied by Enniscoe House in Crossmolina and Alfred Devers from Ballina and seasonal produce grown in a polytunnel on the castle grounds is also used.
Recent research from Bord Bia shows that when it comes to dining out, consumers rate value for money and efficient service as the key factors when choosing a venue.
Another priority for Irish diners is the importance of supporting the local economy. The availability of local produce on the menu featured in the top three influencing factors when selecting a restaurant, pub or hotel.
First launched by Bord Bia in 2009, support of the Just Ask campaign has grown significantly among the restaurant trade in recent years.
It acknowledges eateries around the county that display a commitment to transparency with regard to the sourcing of ingredients they use.