Ross Lewis, Head Chef, Chapter One Dublin.
“Achill Island blackface lamb are half the weight of normal lamb. They are not grain fed of fattened before slaughter and come straight from the mountains, where they feed on a diet of mountain grass and herbs. They have the sweetest, most aromatic meat I’ve ever tasted.”
Tom Doorley, Food Writer and Critic
“The mountain lamb from CaorAcla is, quite simply, the best lamb I have ever tasted. The first time I tasted it, indeed, it was cooked by own fair hand and I knew I could take no credit for delight expressed by my family, beyond keeping it a respectable shade of pink, and serving it in such a way as to let its unique flavour full rein without interference from strong seasonings.
The next time I tasted CaorAcla lamb, it was cooked by Ross Lewis at Chapter One and he, to be fair, was a bit more elaborate in his approach! However, again, the lamb’s flavour came through, loud and clear. I was entertaining a billionaire at the time, a man who eats in the best restaurants in the world all the time. He, too, felt that this was the best lamb he had ever tasted.
Why? Well, the man who introduced me to Achill blackface mountain lamb, Ed Johnston of CaorAcla, explained to me that it was a question of what the animals eat, the thoroughly varied plants and wild herbs of the highlands on the island. Most lambs and cattle these days grazes on quite monocultural pasture, eating a couple of grass varieties and a bit of clover if they are lucky.
By contrast the CaorAcla animals eat dozens of plants and acquire, as the French would say (usually in a wine context) the gout de terroir or the taste of the place.
It’s very hard to define exactly what that is. There’s a remarkable tenderness to the meat but also a kind of sweetness, a suggestion of aromatic herbs, a buttery quality. And this flavour, as I’d collectively call these sensory signals, has what in wine terms, again, is called length or finish. It has an intensity that simply goes on and on. But I’d stress that the taste of this very special lamb is not strong; instead, it’s very complex and persistent.
To me, CaorAcla lamb is one of life’s great luxuries. Forget wagyu beef, foie gras and caviar. Seriously. I’ve had them many times and they rarely get me excited.
Caor Acla lamb, on the other hand, is a genuine treat. A rare, finite and very seasonal treat. Not a lot of people know about it and I hesitate to spread the word but CaorAcla is, essentially, a co-op of Achill hill farmers whose amazing lambs used to just go to the factory with all of the ordinary ones.
That simply is simply wrong. And CaorAcla has put it right.”
Domini Kemp, Irish Times Columnist & Chef
“When it comes to meat, I have to say that lamb is one of my favourites and if you come across CaorAcla Lamb – Blackface Mountain lamb from Achill Island and the Currane Peninsula in Co Mayo – grab some ASAP. Maybe it’s because its unique, unmistakable flavour lends itself so well to such different cuisines, from Asian to Middle Eastern and much in between, but its versatility means that I find myself returning to it again and again for everything from burgers and stews to roasts, kebabs and even salads.”
Joe Rumberger, Head Chef, The Restaurant at Fallon & Byrne
“I was introduced to CaorAcla Blackface Lamb while dining at one of Dublin’s top restaurants. I immediately knew I was tasting something special and I had to have it for my own menu. Ed and his team have a uniquely delicious product that is truly representative of the wonderful bounty Ireland has to offer, at the restaurant in Fallon and Byrne Exchequer Street we are sure to use every part of this incredible animal. Our lamb meat balls have been a huge success.”
Warren Massey, Head Chef in Drury Buildings and L’Gueuleton
“I’ve been using Achill Blackface Lamb for the last couple of seasons in Drury Buildings and in L’Gueuleton. It’s a pleasure to work with a product of this quality and feedback that we get from customers is always very positive! I’m looking forward to cooking Achill Blackface Lamb this season too, such a well-produced and cared for meat results in a lovely flavourful delicious end product.”
Adrian Bane, Head Chef in Radisson Blu Hotel, Galway
“Having worked with Ed & John for the past 3 summers it is clear to me that both of them have passion for their product and integrity towards the sheep farmers on Achil Island. It is to their credit that they only deal with a select group of farmers and speak so highly of the way the young lambs are reared. Few products in our small country can match the quality and flavour that CaorAcla lamb has. The size of the lambs may be half the size of a regular lamb but what it gives up in weight it delivers in flavour. From a slow braised shoulder or a roasted rack, the natural sweetness, slightly salty & aromatic lamb is a joy to cook with. With mountain lamb we also get to enjoy meat that has a firm but tender texture thanks in no small part to the days climbing the hills of one of Ireland’s most beautiful peninsula. I personally feel that Ed & John have ruined all other lamb for me; when I taste other lamb no matter how well it is cooked and seasoned it pales in comparison to CaorAcla products.”
Garrett Duff, Executive Chef, With Taste
“CaorAcla Achill Island lamb has a unique flavour with diet of grassy heather, wild herbs and sea salt from the Atlantic Ocean. I have used this product for bespoke International dinners to showcase best of Irish.”
Joy Beattie, Chef/Owner, Hot Stove, Dublin 1
“We at The Hot stove Restaurant pride ourselves on sourcing Irish products from our fish to our meats. We have been working with CaorAcla Achill Blackface Lamb since 2013. In that time, I have found their products and service to be second to none. Their meat is exactly the quality we require; the staff are professional, punctual and what’s more completely reliable. The meat itself is delicious and full of flavour. Our customer feedback has been nothing but positive. It is always a pleasure working with Irish sourced meats and I would without a doubt recommend CaorAcla Achill Blackface Lamb to any prospective customers.“
Heather Flaherty, Head Chef, McCambridges Galway.
“CaorAcla blackface mountain lamb is a unique product to the west of Ireland. It has a sweet, subtle, earthy flavour that is reminisce of long evenings sitting on a stone wall soaking in the salty, fresh air as it rolls over the atlantic through the hills of heather. Caor Acla lamb truely brings terroir to the pallate. Perfectly paired with understated flavours that let the quality of the lamb speak for itself.”