Cheese, Chocolate and Spirits. Friday 23rd Oct, Butler House

The first of these 3 special Biabeag Meet the Makers events kicks off with a trio grounded in Kilkenny. The theme is the After Dinner Treat and our producers will be messing with your taste buds a little bit with their tastings. Tickets for all 3 events here.

Each of these evenings has a lead producer – the one whose works with the others to shape the evening and on Friday its Julie Calder Potts from Highbank.

Julie Calder Potts, Highbank Organic Orchard

Julie and Rod (her husband and parter on the farm) have farmed organically for over 20 years and now they have the largest organic orchard in Ireland. Having moved from apple juice to orchard syrup (like maple but nicer!) they then developed a range of ciders before reaching the pinnacle of their range – the Single Estate Gin, Vodka and Brandey which they launched in December 2014.

I’ve known Julie and Rod for over a decade and they have become great friends of mine. I admire their ability to constantly develop and refine and their dedication to organic farming.


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Mary Teehan, Truffle Fairy

For just over a decade Mary has been making a range of award winning chocolates in Kilkenny. Starting at home and selling at farmers markets she make the jump to her own production area and cafe in Thomastown and started to export as well as sell here in Ireland.

For the first couple of years of her business I couldn’t buy from Mary as the limited space she had meant she could not do a vegan range. Since she moved she has always had at least one truffle in the range that is vegan and also produces a constantly evolving range of raw chocolate slices. Happiness for me!

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Helen Finnegan, Knockdrinna

Helen set up a year before Mary (2004) and she slowly expanded with the help of Carlow based cheese maker Elizabeth Bradley. In 2008 she took over the cheeses made by Lavistown in Kilkenny and in the same year she became involved with the Little Cheese Company – an organic cheese collective based in Waterford.

She has won stacks of awards, the most special being the win of Knockdrinna Gold semi-hard goats cheese at the 2013 British Cheese Awards where it was named ‘Best Modern British’.

I know Helen since she worked in Local Rural Development in Kilkenny where the obviously glamorous life of food producers lured her to start up herself. Oops 🙂

Tickets for this event are €10 and you can buy them here



Meet The Cheese Makers – April 5th @ 6pm

Next up is cheese. Obviously a strange one for me as I haven’t tasted cheese since 1990 but it is the food I miss the most 🙂

Date: Saturday 5th April 2014
Time: 6pm (sharp’ish) for 2 hours or thereabouts.

Venue: Highbank Orchard – You will also be able to sample and buy from the wonderful range of Highbank Ciders – Proper, Medieval and Drivers.

Map showing entrance to Highbank –

Link to buy tickets (only €5 to join us)


Meet The Cheese Makers Biabeag

From right to left:

Siobhan Ni Ghairbhith – St Tola: Irish Organic Goat Cheese, Co Clare
Siobhan’s approach to cheese is probably best captured in this piece from the McKennas “The cheeses can seem to taste entirely elemental, for Ms ni Ghairbhith uses organic methods, and doesn’t pasteurise her milk.”

Tom Burgess – Coolattin Cheddar: Mature Raw Milk Cheddar, Co Wicklow
Tom’s Mature Raw Milk Cheddar is a  a gourmet experience of aroma, texture & full flavour which develops slowly from sweet fruit to a full nutty note.


Helen Finnegan – Knockdrinna Cheese: Mature Raw Milk Cheddar, Co Kilkenny
Helen is a local hero and most recently her Knockdrinna Gold semi-hard goats cheese at the 2013 British Cheese Awards where it was named ‘Best Modern British’.


[Thanks to Aoife, TheDailySpud for permission to use her shot of Helen]

What happens on the night?
We will get to hear from each of our guests who will share their stories and passion for cheese with you, the audience, driving the questions and discussions. While we talk we will get to taste some samples of their award winning cheeses while their makers explain the subtle tastes of each one.

The makers will also have cheeses available to buy downstairs while you are enjoying the Highbank juices and ciders.

Curious about what the evening might be like? We had Meet The Bakers on 25th January



Its €5 to join us. Click here to book.

If you want to be sent an email when events are scheduled click here


Knockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese, Cheeses. Ireland

One of many successful businesses which have grown from the need for farmers to diversify into high quality branded food products Knockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese continues to develop and expand its product range after enarly 6 years in business.

With cheeses made from both cows and goats milk and a farmhouse shop in Stoneyford under their belts they are very well regarded by cheese lovers all around Ireland.

The photos show their range of cheeses as well as one of Helen Finnegan (co-founder) at Savour Kilkenny.


Waterford Harvest Festival – Ireland

I spent a couple of hours with my family at the Amazing Grazing event today – part of a 9 day food festival held in the city of Waterford.

While time was spent eating and sampling I also chatted to a number of the food entrepreneurs who were there – some known to me and some new. I will feature them in a number of posts over the next week or so in the order I found them on the day!

The post started with a general shot of the crowd and day – they estimated that up to 40,000 people would turn up to visit over 100 food stands.

Paddy’s O’Granola

Patrick O’Connell does one product and does it well – a crunchy breakfast cereal which was kick started while he was still a student. The kids loved the taste of it. Read more on the Good Food Ireland site about him.

Knockdrinna Farmhouse Cheese

Helen Finnegan started this cheese business in 2004 and has grown it by a combination of internal product development and also taking over the production of another local cheese product in 2008. Read more on her site here.



Hook’s Cheese Co, Wisconsin

Tony and Julie Hook have been making cheese for 35 years and it was a 15 year old cheddar that caught my eye. On that batch:

The cheese is unique because cheddar tends to turn bitter or acidic with age. Most supermarket cheddar is 1 to 3 months old.

The secret to aging cheddar successfully is starting with a good batch of cheese in the vat, Hook said. He gives a lot of the credit to the milk he uses from small dairy farms within eight miles of the Mineral Point cheese factory.

You can read more on it here.