A Swedish woman (Birgitta Hedin-Curtin) and a Clare man (Peter Curtin) took it upon them in 1989 to set up a small smokehouse which expanded over the last two decades to become one of Ireland's best known artisan producers of Organic Smoked Salmon, Mackerel, Trout and even Smoked Gouda Cheese.
Last week saw the possibly biggest sporting event County Clare has ever seen! It definitely was the most prestigious one, and one that was viewed by around 500 million people around the world.
The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf tournament came to Lahinch and its internationally renowned golf course from 3rd to 7th July 2019, and with it thousands of golf professionals and amateurs, caddies, visitors, total non-golfers and everybody else!
It was an amazing event that spilled out onto the main street of Lahinch with family-friendly entertainment. In the run-up to the tournament, almost every house in Lahinch had been painted, and even two pubs opened again that had been closed and given up for dead. There was even evening events like concerts with free access for all!
Clare County Council, the organisers of this massive event, saw an opportunity to showcase not only Lahinch but also the rest of Clare, and especially food and other artisan products as well as art from the county.
Together with producers like St. Tola Goats Cheese, Wild Irish Seaweed and Meeres Puddings, the Burren Smokehouse was invited to have a presence next to the golf course during the four days of the festival. In a special Clare County Council tent, we were able to give out tastings and promote our Burren Smoked Irish Organic Salmon.
We had a blast at the tournament, and by the looks of it, so had everybody else!
Salmon is one of the favourite fish, loved by consumers all over the world. It is also one of the most beneficial foods for our health, and very versatile at that.
There is so much to learn about salmon, the history of salmon fishing and present-day sourcing of it, that BIM (Bord Iascaigh Mara) saw demand for the creation of another information point on their "Taste the Atlantic - a Seafood Journey" along the west coast of Ireland.
And this interactive interpretive centre will be right at the Burren Smokehouse! So watch this space for great things to come, it will be fantastic!
Over the decades, since we started welcoming visitors to our smokehouse, we have always been amazed at the level of curiosity and the inquisitive questions we were asked. It is wonderful to be able to share our knowledge and information about salmon and salmon smoking with the world!
Another field of mystery is the brewing of beer. Not many people have access to the intricate knowledge that master brewers need to have to produce craft beers, like the ones in the Burren Brewery which can only be enjoyed in the Roadside Tavern and Burren Storehouse.
Realising that there is a lot of demand for information in these areas, we have come up with a combined "masterclass and behind the scenes" tour which can be booked.
It gives the visitor a visual and hands-on guided tour through the Burren Smokehouse, into areas that would usually be off-limits for non-staff members. This is of course only available for a very small group size at a time, and after putting on protective clothing.
Afterwards, the Burren Brewery will be in the limelight at the Roadside Tavern for a guided beer tasting by the master brewer Peter Curtin himself.
To round off the experience, a tasting plate with different marinades of Burren Smoked Irish Organic Salmon, Trout and Mackerel will be served.
It is summer, and in terms of food, this is our chance now to cook out in the open - on the barbecue! If you think you are limited to cooking just meat on the grill, try this recipe. Very easy to prepare in advance, you can simply grill the salmon patties on a bit of tinfoil.
For 8 burgers
60g red pepper, diced
60g yellow pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1kg Burren cold Smoked Irish Organic Salmon, finely chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
8 burger buns
8 leaves of iceberg lettuce
8 slices of tomatoes
In a medium bowl, combine pepper pieces, bread crumbs, garlic and the small pieces of smoked salmon.
In a small bowl, combine the egg, soy sauce, lemon juice, and salt, and mix it well until it is smooth. Add the mix to the pepper/salmon mixture, stirring everything gently to combine. Form mixture into 8 patties.
For the sesame mayonnaise, combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, cover and chill. The mix will yield about 1 cup.
Lightly grease a sufficiently big piece of tinfoil and put it on the hot barbecue grill. Transfer the salmon patties onto the tinfoil and heat them over medium-high heat until hot and done, about 5 minutes per side.
Spread the sesame mayonnaise evenly over toasted buns. Top each with a lettuce leaf, tomato slice, and salmon patty. Cover with tops of the buns.
Cookery demo by Takashi Miyasaki and Sally McKenna
Gareth Mullins, executive chef at Marker Hotel and General Commissioner of Euro-Toques. Photograph by Yvonne Vaughan Photography.
Seafood buffet at Tí Ned
Chef Danni Barry in the Burren Storehouse. Photograph by Yvonne Vaughan Photography.
'Burren Late Lunch Buffet' with Euro-Toques chefs Gareth Mullins (The Marker), Alberto Rossi (Intercontinental) and Graham Neville (Dax) at the Burren Storehouse. Photograph by Yvonne Vaughan Photography.
Seaweed farming in Ireland might be in its early stages compared to Asian countries, but it’s growing in popularity every year. Consumers are getting more and more aware of the health benefits - and the added taste bonuses in gins, for example!
Seaweed, or sea vegetables, is a fat-free, protein-rich food that is good for our health and delicious in all types of cuisines and dishes.
Birgitta Hedin-Curtin, chairperson of the Burren Slow Food Festival (and owner-manager of the Burren Smokehouse of course), saw the good timing of the motto of this year's festival, and got together a wide variety of speakers and chefs who showed off the healthy marine food in very different ways. Takashi Miyasaki from Ichigo Ichie, Cork, and Sally McKenna from McKenna's Guides gave a cookery demonstration together. Oonagh O'Dwyer from Wild Kitchen held a workshop about seaweed and its uses. Evan Talty from Wild Irish Seaweed talked about his seaweed gathering and processing business. Gareth Mullins from the Marker Hotel in Dublin demoed using Burren Smoked Irish Organic Salmon and made brownies with seaweed. Just some of the highlights on the busy festival schedule.
Food to be enjoyed on the spot was of course at hand as well. Stonecutter's Kitchen provided wonderful cakes and warm dishes like soup and quiches. Bia Rebel's owner Brian gave a demo showing us how to cook Japanese ramen which is a very flavourful and ingredients-rich noodle dish. They also sold (out) their different ramen at the festival. Other foods to be got were gourmet crêpes, sausages, lobster and seafood, and burgers.
At the artisan market, we had an amazing choice of different stalls. The quality of the products were incredibly high, and there were happy faces all around. From peated wines, locally produced honey, beautiful and useful pottery, a vast array of balsamic vinegars, jams and preserves, cheeses, woodworks to even jewellery - the offer covered a lot of ground!
This year's festival also featured a few off-site events, like the much anticipated seafood journey to Inis Oírr which has kicked off the festival for two years in a row now. After a short but beautiful ferry trip with Doolin2Aran Ferries, we arrived at the smallest of the Aran Island and walked to Tí Ned where a generous buffet with lobster, crab, Burren Smoked Irish Organic Salmon and different salads as well as sophisticated desserts waited for us. For those who were culturally curious, we had organised a visit to Áras Eanna Arts Centre where volunteer and islander Úna McDonagh told us the story of the most famous Irish ship wreck, the Plassey, and showed us the fashion of days gone by.
On Saturday night, we had our Burren Slow Food Banquet with a twist. We invited the only Irish female Michelin-star chef Danni Barry from Northern Ireland, and she cooked up a storm! What a delicious treat we had.
On Sunday afternoon, we invited for a late lunch, family buffet-style, cooked by executive head chef Gareth Mullins and Anna from the Marker Hotel, Graham Neville from Dax, Alberto Rossi from the Intercontinental Hotel – all members of the prestigious Euro-Toques organisation.
Still bathing in the afterglow of this festival, we are already looking very much forward to the next one which will take place from 15 to 17 May 2020. Mark that weekend in your diary!
One highlight since the foundation of the Burren Smokehouse 30 years ago has definitely been the opportunity to provide Burren Smoked Wild Salmon for the State Dinner hosting Queen Elizabeth II in May 2011. We thought it could not get much better than that but we were wrong.
On 24th May 2019, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden paid a much anticipated visit to the Burren Smokehouse. Birgitta Hedin Curtin, owner-manager of the Smokehouse, and Swedish by birth, greeted the royalties outside the visitor centre when they arrived.
The royal couple went straight to three students and two teachers of the local Mary Immaculate Secondary School who explained to them their framed 3D model of the north Clare coast and the impact of climate change on the sea levels. As good timing would have it, they had just won the Junior Climate Change Award at the Young Environmentalist Awards in Dublin! The King and Queen were very interested in (and impressed by) the project and the award, and congratulated them and their teachers warmly.
Once inside, Tara McCarthy, CEO of Bord Bía, gave a presentation on the importance of farming and producing food with sustainability in mind, and the implementation of the Origin Green initiative. She stressed the similarities between Sweden and Ireland on many levels, and said that in many cases, Sweden was a bright example to Ireland.
After the presentation, the King and Queen had a chance to meet some producers covering very different areas of the Burren Food Trail and Burren Ecotourism Network: seaweed (Wild Irish Seaweed), coffee roasted in the Burren by Anam Coffee and goats cheese by St. Tola.
Young Irish Dancer Niamh gave a wonderful solo performance to the tune of our talented local musicians (one of them being our own master smoker Peadar Reilly!). She was rewarded with big smiles and a private conversation with the royal couple who then moved on to shake hands with the musicians, one of whom was much taller than the King had expected!
With the formal part of the reception over, the King and Queen had the opportunity to taste the wonderful, delicious canapees prepared by a member of staff, Sarah, and to talk to Birgitta and people from Bord Bía. An international press conference rounded off the visit.
Their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and his wife Silvia have been on a three day state visit to Ireland, where they have attended engagements in Dublin, Westmeath, Galway and in Clare. The visit to the Burren Smokehouse was the last stop on their state visit before they flew home from Shannon Airport.
This wonderful dish with smoked salmon is very low on calories and combines sweet and savoury tastes. The flavours of mangos, lemon, coriander leaves and seeds go very well with hot smoked salmon! A great recipe for left-over rice.
2 tblsp cracked coriander seed
1 tblsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp lemon-pepper seasoning
(or a bit of lemon juice with black pepper)
500g Burren Hot smoked Irish Organic Salmon, plain
8 cups cooked white rice
1 mango - peeled, pitted and diced
1 tblsp finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
1 tsp grated fresh lemon peel
oil for pan
Slightly roast the coriander seeds in a big, high-rimmed frying pan without oil, then grind them in a mortar.
Combine the coriander seeds, brown sugar, and lemon-pepper seasoning in a small bowl and blend well.
Add the mango, coriander leaves and lemon peel into the rice and mix through.
Pour a bit of oil into the frying pan to heat it up, then spoon the rice mix into the pan. Heat it gently on low heat for about 7 minutes, stirring it now and again.
Place the salmon slices on top of the rice. Sprinkle the fish evenly with the coriander spice mixture, gently pressing it into the fish. Continue to warm up the dish on low heat with a lid on until the rice and salmon are warm, for about 5 more minutes. Divide the rice and salmon between four plates and serve immediately.
A customer of ours gave us this recipe for spring or, with a bit of variation, for any time of the year. Róisín Coleman was so kind to get in contact with us, and we ended up asking for the addictive recipe she was telling us about.
The ingredients can be varied depending on what you find in terms of seasonal vegetables.
1 fennel bulb, finely sliced
optional: 1 raw beetroot, finely sliced or cut into match sticks
olive or rapeseed oil
sea salt & pepper
Rocket leaves or baby leaves or lambs lettuce
2 fillets = 1 pack of Burren Smoked Mackerel
1 orange or blood orange (in season from January to March)
Optional but delicious:
crumbed up goats cheese
a sprinkling of dried or fresh dill
toasted pumpkin seeds
Place a finely sliced fennel bulb over the serving plate (mandolin is best). You could also add some very finely sliced raw beetroot or beetroot match sticks. Pour over a drizzle of oil and a squeeze of lemon juice, sprinkle a bit of sea salt & black pepper over the vegetables.
Toss some leaves of your choice in a dressing made from olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, honey & mustard. Place a mound of leaves in the centre of your serving plate.
Break up two fillets of Burren Smoked Mackerel and place over the greens & vegetables.
Supreme an orange and dress the segments around the salad plate.
Optional but very much recommended:
crumb some goats cheese, add a sprinkling of dried or fresh dill, some toasted pumpkin seeds for crunch & texture and a final drizzle of olive oil.
At the recent Irish Restaurant Awards, the Local Food Heroes for each county were announced, and we are absolutely delighted to let you know that Birgitta Hedin Curtin is County Clare's Local Food Hero!
The Local Food Hero award recognises individuals that promote food culture in their area and inspire people to get involved with food. They may be actively encouraging the restaurants to use local produce, or perhaps they are working to attract food tourists by creating food trails and markets. Or maybe they produce the finest quality ingredients.
Smoked salmon is synonymous with the west of Ireland, where the noble fish has been smoked for centuries if not millennia. In this recipe, it is incorporated into an addictive dip that is made all the better when served with crackers, thin slices of toasted rye bread or raw vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers or cauliflower.
We owe this recipe to Jody Eddy and her book "Recipes and Stories from Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way" in which the Burren Smokehouse and the Roadside Tavern cum Burren Brewery next door are also mentioned.
50g cream cheese
25g sour cream
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
plus more for seasoning
1 tbsp capers
1 tbsp horseradish sauce
1 tbsp finely chopped shallot
115g Burren cold smoked Irish organic salmon
dill - leaves from one sprig
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
crackers, rye bread or raw vegetables
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, lemon juice, capers, horseradish, shallot as well as half of the salmon and blend at high speed until smooth.
Transfer to a serving bowl and stir in the remaining salmon (cut in small pieces) and the dill. Season with additional lemon juice, if desired, along with salt and pepper.
Serve with crackers, rye bread of raw vegetables on the side.