The following are a selection of local food suppliers that The Forge Restaurant works with and is proud to promote.
McAssey Craft Butchers
Michael McAssey, Ballon Village, Co. Carlow
Michael McAssey has been trading in Ballon for over 25 years. Situated in the heart of the village, Michael is a well known and highly regarded craft butcher who sources his meat locally and is a vital and very popular link in the local food supply chain.
Murphy’s Craft Butchers
J. Murphy, Tullow, Co. Carlow
Well into its third generation, Murphy’s Butchers is a venerable institution in Tullow. Located at the top of the hill, the Murphy family bring craft and enthusiasm to the top quality service they provide to the locality. Look out for their signature spiced beef at Christmas and their dry cured ham throughout the year.
Free Range Chicken
Founded in 2003 by Bertram Salter, Carlow Foods is a wholly owned free range artisan poultry producer located near Fenagh. Unusually in this sector, the company owns and manages the entire supply chain process from rearing and processing the birds through to slaughter, packaging and delivery. Bertram and his wife Celine endeavour to live up to their mission statement, which is “to provide the consumer with a genuine free range Irish chicken at an affordable price”.
Free Range Pig, Geese & Duck
This family run business specialises in free range geese and ducks for the Christmas market and free range rare breed pigs all year round. Their animals are grazed on grass fields and are fed on home produced cereal. Free of antibiotics and growth promoters, these animals are left to develop naturally. When ready, Salter’s birds are dry plucked and hung for seven days to allow them to mature and develop natural flavours.
Their pig breeds are Saddleback, Gloucester Old Spot, Durock, and Tamworth which are all slower to mature than commercial pigs. These farming practices ensure the highest standard of product.
Irish Beef, Lamb, Pork & Croyvac Meats
Ballon Meats is a leading meat processing company, accounting for a very significant share of total Irish production. From small beginnings in the 1970s, they now supply high-quality beef, lamb and pork to traditional butcher shops, retailers, food manufacturers and foodservice providers across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Despite their growth, they remain an independently owned family business, committed to long-term values and high standards.
Free Range Eggs
Ballon Free Range Eggs are produced on the Gittens’ farm near Ballon. This small family business, owned by Mary and Pat Gittens, has been nurturing and caring for hens for over 25 years. Ballon Free Range Hens enjoy the freedom of acres of grassland every day, along with a spacious and aired house and a veranda for shelter. During production, the eggs are graded to ensure perfect quality and size before they are packed in their Bord Bia approved and recently refurbished packing centre. These lucky hens permanently roam under the rolling hills of the Blackstairs mountains to produce our favourite, deliciously healthy, golden brown eggs.
Ballon community garden is situated alongside the primary school and thanks to the work of its members, brings colour, vitality and lifelong learning right into the heart of the village. The interaction with the school through various events and daily ‘Q&As’ ensure that the children of Ballon National School know more each day about how their garden grows. The garden is also a valuable teaching tool for adult gardeners who take part in the weekly workshops on organic gardening. The Forge Restaurant is delighted to support this community project which is organised under the umbrella of Ballon Improvement Group.
Pat & Graham Kavanagh, Sherwood, Kilbride, Co. Carlow
Pat & Graham grow rooster potatoes from the good fertile Carlow and Wexford soil. Supplying The Forge with weekly bags of washed spuds nine months of the year might seem like a lot of work but at least they don’t have far to travel with them.
Traditional Farmhouse Cheeses
Elizabeth’s raw milk Edam style cheese is prepared with great skill from milk produced by a neighbouring dairy farmer’s herd. Building on the centuries old tradition of cheese making, Elizabeth is a true producer of a quality food product that reflects both the seasons and her production process. You can find Elizabeth behind her Savoury Cheese Stall at the weekly Carlow Farmers Market where she sells a selection of fine Irish and international cheeses alongside her own handmade ones.
Coolattin Cheddar is a raw milk, handmade, cheddar produced by Tom Burgess from his own Friesian herd of cows at Knockteen during the summer season.
It is made in 16 kg truckles with a distinctive red coating. The cheese is matured for a year and more before being released. ‘Pasture to Cheddar the same day’ – was awarded a Bronze Medal in the British Cheese Awards of 2010.
Beginning with two acres in 1988, Malone’s fruit farm has grown in size to 12 acres on which Tom, Liz and company grow a wide variety of soft fruit – strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, gooseberries and more. Frozen fruits are also available all year round for smoothies and desserts. All can be purchased from their Farm shop in Ballon and from their stall in Carlow Farmers Market on Saturdays. In 1999 the Malones decided to produce their own jams and jellies. It was so successful that in 2005, they constructed a purpose built kitchen and now produce a wide variety of jams, jellies, marmalades, chutneys, fruit tonics and cordials.
Alan Gilbert has established his apple farm on the outskirts of Carlow town and currently in the process of opening a farm shop. Alan and his family produce a lovely mild and sharp apple juice as well as a quality cider vinegar.
Tea & Coffee
Robert Roberts, the Irish Speciality tea experts, is the legacy of two great Irish families – the Goodbodys and the Wardells.
They have been carefully developed and blended in their factory in Dublin under the watchful eye of Master Blender Garath Scully.
Herbal teas are a great option for anyone looking to cut down on caffeine, increase their antioxidant intake or simply hydrate with something a little more interesting than water.
Ger’s Preserves, Geraldine Jordan, Rathellen, Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow
Using the fruit from her own apple orchards and eagerly awaiting the 2013 tomato crop, Geraldine is a great example of the cottage industry for jam and chutney production that is an essential part of our local food eco-system.
Geraldine is an avid cook and her preserves are all home-made on her re-conditioned red Aga.
Kennedy’s Mushrooms Gorey
Another fantastic local producer of excellent quality mushrooms used by our kitchens here at the Forge.
Locally produced and sourced fresh these are a delicious addition to our menu.Mushrooms contain about 80 to 90 percent water, and are very low in calories (only 100 cal/oz). They have very little sodium and fat, and 8 to 10 percent of the dry weight is fiber. Hence, they are an ideal food for persons following a weight management program or a diet for hypertensives.Mushrooms are an excellent source of potassium, riboflavin, niacin, and selenium.
The most commonly consumed mushroom in the United States is Agaricus bisporus or the white button mushroom. A. bisporus has two other forms - Crimini or brown mushrooms with a more earthy flavor and firmer texture, and Portabella mushrooms with a large umbrella-shaped cap and meaty flavor
Tullow Fish Merchants
Tullow Fish Merchants pride themselves on the ability to provide the Forge Kilbride with the highest quality fresh fish.
Fish has long been recognised as one of nature’s healthiest foods. With its’ wide range of nutrients, it is truley a superfood.
Nutritionists recommend that we eat fish at least twice a week. Oily fish, such as mackeral, herring, trout and salmon are particularly beneficial due to their high levles of omega 3 oils.
It is especially important that growing young people, expectant mothers and those of mature years eat lots of fish.
Our menu carries a variety of fresh fish throughout the seasons.
At Avonmore, we take great care to help you get the finest quality, freshest products every time.We only source the best from a select group of farms that supply only our dairies. Naturally every drop is traceable back to our local Irish farms.