1. The Food Hub, Co. Leitrim
Many of the exciting new food products coming out of the Blueway region are being made at The Food Hub, which is a production and training centre for artisan food makers and related enterprises. It provides 14 independent food production units and a Community Kitchen and delivers on-site and on-line training courses for the food sector. A fledgling food enterprise can lease world-class yet affordable food production facilities specially designed to meets all environmental regulations for modern food production. The Food Hub has contributed to the emergence of several innovative food enterprises in distilling, speciality baking, brewing, confectionery, soap-making, cheese maturing and jam making. Set in a former jam factory, The Food Hub building has been associated with quality food production for decades, and it is helping to maintain that tradition of natural, local food production in the region.
2. MacNean Cookery School and Restaurant, Co. Cavan
Award-winning chef Neven Maguire fulfilled a long-held dream to open his first cookery school in 2014. The Neven Maguire Cookery School is located beside MacNean House & Restaurant in Blacklion, Co. Cavan. The state-of-the-art cookery school features a range of exciting cookery classes for all skill levels. Classes are fun and informal and are purposely kept small to ensure the best learning experience with individual guidance, support and assistance from Neven and his dedicated team. Neven Maguire has turned the small, rural village of Blacklion into one of the country's top dining destinations. He and his restaurant have scooped up more awards than you could shake a spoon at. Still his approach is clear and simple – to bring the best of food using the best of fresh Irish produce to people who appreciate quality, imagination and excellence. His passion for the best in food has won a prestigious Michelin listing for the restaurant and Trip Advisor Travellers' Choice Award named it one of the top 10 fine dining restaurants in Europe. People are happy to travel to enjoy his Sunday lunches and superb five-course dinner menu, while the nine-course tasting menu is a gastronomic delight. Menus are changed regularly to avail of seasonal produce.
3. The Cheese Hub, Co, Leitrim
Before it reaches the table all cheese goes through a maturing stage, when it is stored to ripen and allow the flavours to develop. That can be a problem for a small-scale artisan producer who may not have the storage space that is needed. The Cheese Hub provides that storage space, freeing the cheesemaker from spending time and money on solving those problems. Tier upon tier of maturing cheese is stored in temperature controlled units using maturing techniques like 'cave aged', 'dry rind', 'oiled skin' and waxing. Later, the cheese is cut, packaged, distributed and sold, all steps that are vital but which, without The Cheese Hub, might divert the artisan producer from the essential job of making cheese.
4. Roscommon Chocolate Company, Co. Roscommon
A childhood interest in chocolate evolved into a dream for Karen Gordon of combining classical French chocolate-making with top-quality Irish dairy ingredients to produce exceptional chocolates. Retiring to Roscommon allowed her to follow her passion, to study the craft and open Roscommon Chocolate Company. For Karen, good chocolate must be creamy, smooth and infused with complex flavours and taste combinations based on a blend of different flavoured cocoa beans. Creating the ganache filling brings out her creative streak. She likes to put a new twist on a traditional filling and to invent exciting new taste combinations. The result is classical French chocolate with a modern zing.
5. Knockvicar Organic Garden
All sorts of edible plants are on display in this community organic garden. It has 10 polytunnels, a greenhouse, clay oven, soft fruit orchard and outdoor growing areas. Set beside a heritage bog and nature trail, they offer guided tours, and are always happy to share organic gardening advice. They sell certified organic produce on site and deliver vegetable boxes to mooring points.