Slaney beef fit for royalty
'RIB OF Slaney Valley beef ' was the centre-piece of the meal served to Queen Elizabeth II and more than 150 guests at the state banquet in Dublin Castle last week.
But farmers Eamonn Furlong in Duncormick, John Sinnott in Crossabeg and Clive Bailey in Boolavogue had no idea that their heifers were destined for such distinguished dinner plates. The trio were only informed the following day by executives at Slaney Foods that they were responsible for food fit for a queen.
The call was issued several weeks beforehand seeking Angus heifers for a special commission and the trio were paid a small premium when their beasts were selected. The animals were slaughtered in Clohamon and the meat was then passed on to Kettyle Irish Foods at Lisnaskea in Co. Fermanagh to undergo a process called dry ageing. Only then was it ready for Michelin starwinning chef Ross Lewis to work his magic in the Castle kitchen.
'Angus is respected as being top class for tenderness and flavour,' explained Slaney Foods managing director Rory Fanning, delighted to have played a part in satisfying the royal party. 'I am absolutely thrilled because Britain is a very important market for us.' British customers take half the output from Clohamon, while only 10 per cent stays in the home market.
Meanwhile, back on the farm in Boolavogue, Clive Bailey was chuffed to discover the part he had played: 'I fed the Queen and I am proud to have fed her,' he said, agreeing that Angus beef is special: 'If you ever eat an Angus Stake, it will be far tastier. The cattle are small and the meat is not as tough.
He gave a tiny piece of the glory to his brother Nigel, who provides the Angus calves for fattening at his farm in Clough, north of Camolin.