WIN! Super hamper of Laois products up for grabs!

A tasty hamper to be won courtesy of two winning Laois food and drink producers at the Blas na hEireann awards

Aghaboe Farm Foods, An Sean-Teach and Abbey Farm Foods chutney for Aldi, all prize winners at the Blas na hEireann awards in Dingle last week.

There was huge success for three Laois food and drink producers at the prestigious Blas na hÉireann Irish food awards in Dingle on September 30.

Home bakery Aghaboe Farm Foods, drink makers An Sean-Teach, and Abbey Farm Foods all impressed judges at the national awards.

Aghaboe Farm Foods is based in the kitchen of 24 year old baker Niamh Maher in Aghaboe village.

She won the silver award for her delicious festive Frangipane Mince Pies.

Niamh started her business just three years ago, and was shocked to win.

"It was my first time to enter, and it was really good to meet other producers, I was so happy to win Silver," said Niamh.

Her winning bake is a mince pie, with a unique topping of almond sponge.

"Its like a twist on a bakewell, it is a really good seller at Christmas," said Niamh.

She sells at Abbeyleix and Mountrath Country markets and produces occasion cakes to order, through her facebook page.

Partaking in Connect 2 Laois for Food who offer business mentoring, Niamh went to the Brigidine Mountrath and Presentation in Thurles.

"I was always interested in baking growing up, and I thought I would try to make a business out of it. I love doing something I really like, and then getting out to meet people. I hope this award will help me get my produce into shops now," she told the Leinster Express.

Niamh is offering Leinster Express readers a fresh baked batch of her award winning pies, along with more baked treats.

To team perfectly with them, Laois drinks producers An Sean-Teach are adding a bottle of their Gold award winning DV8 cream liqueur, and their Bronze award winner, a bottle of Brennans Old House Gin.

The company based in Ballinakill was also awarded the Best in Laois, and biggest of all, Best Start-up Company 2017. 

Brian Brennan is co-owner with Karla Taylor.

"We are absolutely thrilled, it is a big deal for such a small company to get into the final alone, this was our first time to enter, and you are up against all the multiples and big producers," he said.

Their cream liqueur has "a sweet decadent taste, with a vodka base", perfect as a shot, in coffee, or over ice-cream. They use locally grown Laois frockenberries in their gin, a little purple berry which adds a "unique sweetness" Brian said.

"We hope this will open doors for us, in terms of credibility and recognition of our work done, and that buyers and traders will take note of the premium products we have," he said.

Part of the SuperValu Food Academy, their products are on sale in SuperValu supermarkets and many off-licences in Laois and further afield.

Winning a Bronze Award for their Aldi Specially Selected Plum & Apple Chutney, is Abbey Farm Foods from Abbeyleix, and Aldi are including some jars in our giveaway hamper.

"Abbey Farm Foods are delighted to win Bronze for the Aldi Chutney in the recent Blas na hEireann Awards in Dingle. The Specially Selected Plum & Apple Chutney is a product developed especially for Aldi and is made using the best quality fruit and a little spice. It adds an extra ‘kick’ to an ordinary Roast Beef or cheese sandwich," said Clive Gee from Abbey Farm Foods.

This is the 10th year of the Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards, the largest blind-tasted food awards in Ireland. The awards recognise and celebrate the very best Irish food and drink with over 400 finalist producers competing in 130 categories.

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