Dear Nougat Lovers...How it all started...

Dear Nougat Lovers,

The idea of having a Blog has always appealed to me, but as I am not so good with words, I thought of starting my blog on a 'Diary' principle, with highlights of each year.  So let's go back to 2012 when it all started.   

 I started making Nougat in our kitchen at home and had a Saturday stand at Marley Park Food Market.  I used our hob and my wonderful Kenwood mixer, cutting by hand, which was quite a job. This method cost me 12 stitches three weeks before my first market day.  I loved the interaction with customers, which is why I still love doing tastings - it's the direct feedback that helped me to come up with new flavours and packaging ideas. This photo was taken by Rosanna Loddo in 2012, a great friend of mine. She and Paco developed my first website.

I started making Nougat in our kitchen at home and had a Saturday stand at Marley Park Food Market.  I used our hob and my wonderful Kenwood mixer, cutting by hand, which was quite a job. This method cost me 12 stitches three weeks before my first market day.  I loved the interaction with customers, which is why I still love doing tastings - it's the direct feedback that helped me to come up with new flavours and packaging ideas. This photo was taken by Rosanna Loddo in 2012, a great friend of mine. She and Paco developed my first website.

 In 2013, with the support from my darling husband, Wicklow LEO, and MFI Ireland, I converted our garage into a purpose-built Nougat Kitchen.  In this photo Joe (our neighbour) brings the pallet containing my new machines into a building site A.K.A - Nougat Kitchen.

In 2013, with the support from my darling husband, Wicklow LEO, and MFI Ireland, I converted our garage into a purpose-built Nougat Kitchen.  In this photo Joe (our neighbour) brings the pallet containing my new machines into a building site A.K.A - Nougat Kitchen.

 By the end of the summer the kitchen is starting to look better and here my darling Ethan is helping our electrician.

By the end of the summer the kitchen is starting to look better and here my darling Ethan is helping our electrician.

 And finally.... I launched my nougat at the RDS Christmas Craft Fair in 2013 with new flavours, branding and packaging.  My darling Jeanne helping a customer. 

And finally.... I launched my nougat at the RDS Christmas Craft Fair in 2013 with new flavours, branding and packaging.  My darling Jeanne helping a customer. 

 In 2014 Avoca was our first retailer.  We (Mary and I) still hand wrapped all our sweets and we only had three flavours. 

In 2014 Avoca was our first retailer.  We (Mary and I) still hand wrapped all our sweets and we only had three flavours. 

 We ended the year again with the RDS Christmas Craft fair, and I also got my first McKenna Award.

We ended the year again with the RDS Christmas Craft fair, and I also got my first McKenna Award.

 2015 was a very exciting year! We got a new flow wrapper which meant we started producing nougat bars, and all new packaging too.

2015 was a very exciting year! We got a new flow wrapper which meant we started producing nougat bars, and all new packaging too.

 We appeared on Irish TV that Spring.

We appeared on Irish TV that Spring.

 I attended Bloom for the first time, and my mom even came all the way from South Africa for moral support, and minding Hannah and Ethan at home.

I attended Bloom for the first time, and my mom even came all the way from South Africa for moral support, and minding Hannah and Ethan at home.

 Miena's was very lucky to be chosen as one of the case studies for European Microfinance Day in October 2015.

Miena's was very lucky to be chosen as one of the case studies for European Microfinance Day in October 2015.

 Michael Johnson from MFI Ireland accompanied me to Belgium where I had the opportunity to tell my story to a panel of reporters and delegates from the European Union.

Michael Johnson from MFI Ireland accompanied me to Belgium where I had the opportunity to tell my story to a panel of reporters and delegates from the European Union.

 That evening I was invited to meet Queen Matilda of Belgium, and of course I had to give her some of my nougat - and a letter from my darling Hannah.  That was the highlight of 2015.

That evening I was invited to meet Queen Matilda of Belgium, and of course I had to give her some of my nougat - and a letter from my darling Hannah.  That was the highlight of 2015.

 April 2016 we had another chance to be filmed - this time for the EU, and here Paul-Michel from 1Minute40 is filming me busily making nougat.

April 2016 we had another chance to be filmed - this time for the EU, and here Paul-Michel from 1Minute40 is filming me busily making nougat.

 Lucky me at Bloom with Neven Maguire, whose  "The Nation's Favourite Healthy Food"  is still one of my favourite cook books!!

Lucky me at Bloom with Neven Maguire, whose "The Nation's Favourite Healthy Food" is still one of my favourite cook books!!

 Shortly after Bloom, Miena's won Gold (Chocolate, Hazelnut & Cranberry nougat) and Bronze (Almond & Pistachio) in the confectionery category at the Free From Food Award 2016. With me is John Burke founder of the Free From Food Awards.

Shortly after Bloom, Miena's won Gold (Chocolate, Hazelnut & Cranberry nougat) and Bronze (Almond & Pistachio) in the confectionery category at the Free From Food Award 2016. With me is John Burke founder of the Free From Food Awards.

 A very exciting Sunday in July! I was interviewed by Conall O Morain on Today FM's Sunday Business Show.  My whole family came along and Hannah and Ethan got to sit in and listen.

A very exciting Sunday in July! I was interviewed by Conall O Morain on Today FM's Sunday Business Show.  My whole family came along and Hannah and Ethan got to sit in and listen.

 Miena's Almond & Fig Nougat won a gold star!!

Miena's Almond & Fig Nougat won a gold star!!

 And look who got another Award!! - Almond and Fig again!!

And look who got another Award!! - Almond and Fig again!!

 2016 ended on a high again at the Christmas Craft Fair.  Photo of me and a big Nougat Fan!!

2016 ended on a high again at the Christmas Craft Fair.  Photo of me and a big Nougat Fan!!

 2017 Kicked of with a bang!! Miena's won Gold (Almond & Coconut), Silver (Almond & Mix Berry) and Bronze (Chocolate, Hazelnut & Cranberry) at the Irish Free From Food Awards.

2017 Kicked of with a bang!! Miena's won Gold (Almond & Coconut), Silver (Almond & Mix Berry) and Bronze (Chocolate, Hazelnut & Cranberry) at the Irish Free From Food Awards.

 My darlings visiting me at Bloom.

My darlings visiting me at Bloom.

 We started to make nougat for the Dunnes  Simply Better  brand... Yipee!!!

We started to make nougat for the Dunnes Simply Better brand... Yipee!!!

 Look who popped by at the Speciality Fine Food Show in London,  in September 2017

Look who popped by at the Speciality Fine Food Show in London,

in September 2017

 Yipee!! Our Almond & Mixed Berry won Silver in Blas na hEirearnn

Yipee!! Our Almond & Mixed Berry won Silver in Blas na hEirearnn

 We had a very exciting visit from the children of Donoughmore NS. They all walked from the school and we gave them the ins and outs of our nougat kitchen. They even got to hand wrap nougat sweets and took them home. Some even kept their hair nets on for the day. 

We had a very exciting visit from the children of Donoughmore NS. They all walked from the school and we gave them the ins and outs of our nougat kitchen. They even got to hand wrap nougat sweets and took them home. Some even kept their hair nets on for the day. 

 Our Almond Coconut with a hint of Lemon won a gold star from Great Taste.

Our Almond Coconut with a hint of Lemon won a gold star from Great Taste.

 I also decided to go shopping...

I also decided to go shopping...

 And seven months later it arrived!! Our new cooker. Now we can make nougat for the nation!!  Thank you Wicklow LEO for all your help and support.  Thanks Joe, Peter and my darling Jeanne, if it wasn't for you it would still be outside!

And seven months later it arrived!! Our new cooker. Now we can make nougat for the nation!!  Thank you Wicklow LEO for all your help and support.  Thanks Joe, Peter and my darling Jeanne, if it wasn't for you it would still be outside!

 Our year ended on a high with Neven and Diarmuid helping in the kitchen

Our year ended on a high with Neven and Diarmuid helping in the kitchen

 What an AWESOME 2017!!

What an AWESOME 2017!!