Cow tales

Huw Gott - Farm Visit 2023

We buy beef from small community farmers from all corners of the island doing things the right way. Ethics = Flavour.”


It all started with a small, scruffy restaurant on a scruffy street in East London, a single farmer in North Yorkshire, and his beloved bull, Dynamo.

We’d spent the previous year farm-hopping and had quickly learnt the lesson we’ve held to ever since: ethics = flavour. All the most important work happens out in the fields. If you want the best tasting beef you have to find passionate farmers who do things properly – nurturing both their animals and the land on which they graze. 

Things have changed a bit since (hello grand banking hall in the centre of Dublin!), but that guiding principle never has. And along the way we’ve made great friends who’ve taught us a huge amount about steers, heifers, cows, bulls, grass, soil and life. 

The biggest challenge was opening in New York: so much cattle in the U.S. is reared in huge commercial feedlots, fed corn, growth promoters and antibiotics, with three goals in mind – bigger, fatter, faster.  However, with a bit of time and effort we found our people: zealot farmers who are as obsessed with grass as they are with cattle.

The story in Ireland is very different. But … over the past 40 years or so a number of practices have crept in to help speed things along: more indoor facilities, more grain, more fertilisers, more herbicides, and a shift towards standardised fast-growing breeds. 

So we’ve been seeking out small community farms relying on the well-rained-upon soil and nutrient-dense grass. Doing things as they’ve been done for centuries. 

Our job has been to draw on the know-how we’ve accumulated over the thick-end of 20 years chatting to beef-minded experts on both sides of the Atlantic. Leading lights on sustainability, dry-aging, butchery and more.

Now, we are looking forward to making new friends, eating some of the best beef in the world, and learning a few new things that will make Hawksmoor even better, in Dublin, New York, London and beyond.



A grand expression we learnt, along with many of the words below, from writer Manchán Magan.

It’s a fine blessing for any farmer because it implies a lifetime spent with some of the world’s best cattle. Perhaps with a STUAICÍN and her upturned horns, a CÚBACH with her horns bent in, or a MAOILÍN who has no horns at all. Maybe she’s a restive BÓ DHODACH purposely kicking over her milk pail when it’s full, an adventurous BÓ BHRADACH, up to anything to break out and explore, or a bold bull full of lusty DÁIR.

In centuries past it might have been a DAM CONCHAID, a sturdy wolf-fighting ox, brought along with the herd to defend against the MADRAÍ ALLTA, the wild dogs (a.k.a. wolves) that roamed the island until the eighteenth century. 

We’ve enjoyed learning how bovine-centric a lot of the language is. How the word for ‘boy’, BUACHAILL, also means ‘cowherd’, and ‘road’, BÓTHAR, means ‘cowpath’. How a ladybird is BÓÍN DÉ, ‘God’s little cow’, a spider is DAMHÁN ALLA, a ‘little wild ox’, and the Milky Way is BEALACH NA BÓ FINNE, ‘The Way of the White Cow’.

One of our farmers, Ronan, in County Meath, gave us the easier-to-pronounce WHERE THERE’S MUCK THERE’S LUCKand we also learnt another belter that we love but that doesn’t really fit into an ode to Irish beef — the word for jellyfish, SMUGAIRLE RÓIN, which translates literally as ‘seal snot’. 

Fam visit - Dublin 2023