When I was about 17, the new trend was to try to cut down on eating saturated fat. Flora appeared on the market and even some of the most sensible people thought it best to start spreading it on their toast instead of butter. The only margarines available before then were Blueband and Stork (Stork! Imagine putting that on your toast, eeeuugh!). And so, the move away from butter commenced.
In our house, my mother went with that too, as per doctors’ advice. She tried everything to get me to eat Flora. Blind taste tests, disguised with jam, you name it, but I could detect butter a mile off. There is just no comparison. As far as I was concerned, and still am, its butter or nothing. In fact, if its not butter, then I’ll have dry toast, thank you very much. I will forego any spread unless its butter, and I’ve tried them all – fakeries, interlopers, chancers all. I was never convinced that polyunsaturated spreads could be good for you – they’re too processed. And as for the easy spreaders or low calorie spreads? Yuck! If you want it to spread easily, leave it out of the fridge for a bit (or see new innovation below!). If you want lower calories – eat less (rocket science, I know!).
Meanwhile, the market for spreads booms away – some people just have no taste! I was finally vindicated earlier this week when Time magazine published an article, reported also in the Irish Independent, debunking the bad rep that butter has been given over recent decades (they should have asked me!!!). What’s more, I heard Professor Eoin O’Brien, Professor of Molecular Pharmacology at The Conway Institute, University College Dublin on the Today Show with Sean O’Rourke a couple of weeks ago saying that its not as bad for your health as you might think.
How delighted was I last week then when as part of the Food Bloggers event for So Sligo Food Festival 2014, we were given a selection of Connacht Gold butters to try out. Such hardship!
So in the spirit of my days growing up in Barna, last night I carried out a blind taste test with my daughter Anna. (I should mention that Anna is very fond of cooking and food generally, not sure where she gets it!).
In fairness, Anna identified each of the four varieties without too much difficulty. But, and this is major, all of them were really buttery. I’ve an aversion to anything low fat, as it generally doesn’t taste as good as the real thing but the Low Fat butter (49% butter – can you call that Low Fat? I thought it has to be <3% fat to be legally Low Fat) tasted really good – no compromise there. The Spreadable Butter is excellent, truly.
I love simplicity in innovation and the Garlic and Herb butter meets that standard for me. When innovating anything, start by asking: What do people want thats not too fancy, but just a bit of hassle to do for themselves? Well, making garlic bread is one thing that people find a nuisance. Frozen garlic bread is big business but the standard out there is mediocre. Making your own is fiddly, mashing the garlic into the butter is messy, and then you need to chop the herbs really finely, if you’ve remembered to buy the herbs that is. So, this Garlic and Herb butter should go down a storm – spread it onto a white bread roll and pop it under the grill – simples! The Garlic and Herb flavours come through really well, not at all overpowering or strange tasting – we ate it spread on white bread and it was great!
Finally the real butter itself. Yes, the others are very good, and I’ll be happy to buy them, no problem. Connacht Gold’s Great Taste 2013 awards are very much deserved! But the real butter…that’s where its at. I’ll never leave you butter. I’m all yours!
Photos – Oonagh’s own or from Connacht Gold website and Irish Independent article