By Wade Murphy Executive Chef, The Lodge at Doonbeg | August 19, 2012
Local is better. It is as simple as that. As the executive head chef of The Lodge at Doonbeg in County Clare Ireland, I am committed to sourcing as much local food as I possibly can. From the time I pick out the day's fresh catch to the time it arrives on a guest's plate – working with fresh, local food is a true highlight of the culinary profession and one I am glad to see more restaurants and hotels embracing.
Buying local has become more than just a way to support nearby farmers and fishermen; it has become a criterion for meeting the expectations of the bespoke traveler. The guests staying at our hotel demand the most authentic experience when they are discovering new places and in particular new cuisine, so that is why The Lodge at Doonbeg, which was recently named the Best Hotel Restaurant in Ireland at the Irish Restaurant Awards, has cultivated a network of local artisans whose meats, fish and cheeses which are featured everyday on our menus. By doing this we are helping grow the food industry not just in the area surrounding the resort but throughout Ireland and the relationships that are formed with these producers helps guarantee guests are getting the highest quality food each time they visit.
"We find that our guests want to feel as though they are in another world when they visit us, and they want to have experiences that transport them far away from their daily routines," said General Manager Joe Russell. "One way we have been able to offer that is by giving guests the chance to experience something unique not just to Ireland but as close as the farm next door. Whether it's sampling Irish whiskey or dining on lamb grown in the nearby Burren National Park, food has a way of bringing people together and when that food or drink is something they've never tried before – that creates a memory they'll never forget."
Regular fixtures on the menus of The Long Room, Doobeg's fine dining restaurant, as well as the more casual gastro-pub Darbys, are organic goat cheese from St. Tola farm, smoked salmon from The Burren Smokehouse, meats from butcher Jack Kelly in Kilrush and fresh seafood from Clare fisherman Charlie Sexton. We also grow a variety of herbs and vegetables here on site which often times determine the soup of the day or daily lunch specials.
St. Tola Organic Goat Cheese is known internationally as one of the premium artisan products in Ireland. It is the finest, gourmet goat's cheese and has been hand-made in the town of Inagh in County Clare since the early 1980s.
The cheeses were originally made by Meg and Derrick Gordon who developed the fine quality of the cheese and helped establish a gourmet cottage industry in a rural area. In the late nineties, they were keen to retire and the business was taken over by their neighbor Siobhan Ni Ghairbhith in 1999.
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