Tag Archives: Drink

Word of Mouth: Inspiration aplenty at the Waterford Harvest Festival

A last minute notion struck my Mam and I to head down to Waterford for the weekend for their annual Harvest Festival, that was in conjunction with Grow it Yourself (GIY) International.

A celebration of food heritage and culture aimed to suit all tastes, the harvest festival has been around since pagan times acting as a way for the community to celebrate the fruits of their labours.

Pairing up with GIY to form GROWfest, the organic and gardening aspect of the festival, it was described as a weekend that would educate “people in the appreciation of good, clean, fair food, showcasing all the gastronomic delights the region has to offer”. A promising statement indeed!

Taking about two hours on the train, I arrived down to the city of Vikings to rain that poured from the heavens and soaked everything in sight. I was so glad to hitch a lift to the hotel off the Mammy!

For the weekend that was, we were booked into the Waterford Marina Hotel tucked away from the bustle of the centre overlooking the River Suir. Nestling into a twin-bedded room that was quiet and clean, we soon freshened up, off-loaded our bags and set sail in search of food.

On recommendation of the hotel receptionist and feeling a bit on the lazy side, we strolled down to the local Thai restaurant Pa Pa where we ordered the perfect comfort food: curry (more on that soon!)

Up early for breakfast and looking forward to the day ahead, we headed down to the hotel restaurant which had a mix of continental and hot food on offer.

Now I’m a sucker for the Irish fry so you can guess what I got.

Though overall a good filler for the morning, I definitely wished that a bit more care went into their eggs. The scrambled completely lacked flavour and were watery, and plastic comes to mind with the fried one. A real shame for such a great food.

Onto the festival itself, and we headed off to the GROWfest, which had a particular focus on growing your own food, cooking it, looking after it and general gardening advice.

Just €10 for the each event in the tent and €47.50 for a weekend pass, we opted to pay per event and headed into where Ella McSweeney was speaking to Joanna Blythman.

For those who don’t know, Joanna is an award-winning investigative food journalist from Scotland who has covered everything from intensive pineapple production to the causes of obesity.

She broadcasts and writes frequently on the “secret food industry” that we’re expected to trust, and it was such a pleasure to hear her share her findings.

Among all of the fascinating things she talked about, one of the biggest things that struck me was when she was talking about “clean” labels and what actually goes into commercial products.

Ella had brought in an unnamed carrot cake that she had bought from a shop, and well, let’s just say a basic carrot cake really only needs to contain six ingredients: sugar, oil, flour, egg, a raising agent and carrots.

Have a listen to this snippet (which by the way isn’t even the start of the list!):

Despite some minor sound issues, Ella McSweeney did a great job and kept the ball rolling!

With a bit of time on our hands to explore the festival in its entirety, Mam and I sauntered around and waded through the crowds.

From sheep shearing and food stalls, to a real outdoor flower bed and historic re-enactments – one of the things that really gets you at the Harvest Festival is actually how family-friendly it is. One honey producer Déise, actually brought in bees and explained the process to curious children and adults alike.


Popping into the tent again for a panel discussion on “hospital food: it’s enough to make you sick”, we got to hear a variety of opinions from experts in the field.

The biggest issue that came up in the discussion was procurement, with the emphasis that hospital food should be of a standard that would speed up and aid recovery, rather than making us feel worse.

Would you believe that a survey of hospital patients in Ireland found 80-85% satisfaction with the quality of food? I was stunned!

Topping off the night and what could possibly be described as my favourite event from the weekend, was the GIY dinner in Momo Restaurant. Treated to fantastic meal using local, fresh produce (with even a few bits and bobs grown in the GIY HQ), it was a dinner that sparked excitement and exhilarated the palate.

With things like cucumber beer, stuffed savoy cabbage, beetroot ice cream and a salad with fresh strawberries, it truly was a feast at €40 a head.

Kicking off our Sunday, while Mam zipped off to the GROWtent, I headed to see Johann and Tom Doorley cook up fresh food in the GROWHQ Kitchen.

With a splash of delightful humour we were shown how to make some great but simple dishes like braised lettuce and peas and fried courgettes in garlic and vinegar. You can definitely tell that they have fun when they’re cooking!

Seeing Holistic grower and horticulturist Fiann Ó Nualláin in action was to be our final event of the weekend, and he shared with us just a snippet of his wealth of knowledge with regards to healing potential of plants (unfortunately we couldn’t stay for the full talk).

Slipping out of the tent and nabbing a falafel roll from the Lebanese food stall, I dashed off to grab my train back to the Big Smoke.

I was surprisingly restrained with the bits and bobs I brought home, the only two things that I forked out on was an exquisite bottle of heather-infused vinegar (€10) from Wild Wood and a wedge of honey comb (€6) from Déise.

All in all, the festival is definitely something that’s worth heading to and I’ll be keeping a note of it in my diary for next year. Apart from a few hiccups, it really is a jam-packed food-fuelled weekend with people that inspire you to take up a shovel and grow it yourself.

Tips for those thinking of heading next year:

  • If it’s on, book a seat at the GIY dinner. It’s fabulous – no more words needed.
  • Bring some toilet tissue when you’re roaming the festival – though there are portaloos, the tissue disappears quite quickly.
  • Might sound obvious, but definitely carry a small umbrella around with you – the chance of rain is always very high.
  • For the producers’ sake, try and have small change if you can and small notes. It can be pretty tough to deal with €50 notes on a stand!
  • The Waterford Marina Hotel is a nice hotel to book into if you’re looking for somewhere that’s quiet – I was only able to hear the bare murmur of music from the bar from where our room was. As I said, the breakfast offerings aren’t perfect but I found their staff to very, very pleasant and accommodating when it came to leaving our car in the carpark (which is very secure) for a few hours after checkout.

Essential Italian words for your food journey

“Everything you see I owe to pasta.” – Sophia Loren

If you’re looking for a quick cheat sheet on ordering some Italian grub, you’ve come to the right place.

This week we’re celebrating all things Italian, and so I thought it’d be quite useful if I dished out some essential words to use if you ever find yourself in Italy (or at least for when you’re reading an Italian menu!).

Please note that this is a very basic guide and is just to act as mini-list to help you recognise words on a menu! I’m far from fluent in Italian.

Breakfast: Colazione ~ Lunch: Pranzo ~ Dinner: Cena

At the restaurant

  • Appetisers/Starter: Antipasto
  • First Course: Primo
  • Main Course: Secondo
  • Dessert: Dolce
  • Side Dishes: I contorni
  • The Bill: Il conto
  • Service charge: coperto
  • Excluded: Escluso
  • Included: Compreso

On the menu

  • Bread: Pane
  • Soup: Zuppa
  • Meat: Carne
  • Chicken: Pollo
  • Pork: Maiale
  • Lamb: Agnello
  • Fish: Pesce
  • Prawns: Gamberi
  • Mussels: Cozze
  • Squid: Calamari
  • Octopus: Polpo
  • Vegetables: Verdura
  • Potatoes: Patate
  • Rice: Riso
  • Green Salad: Insalata
  • Cheese: Formaggio
  • Wine: Vino
  • Beer: Birra
  • Red/White: Rossa/Biano
  • Water: Acqua
  • Caffè: Coffee
  • Latte: Milk
  • Salt and Pepper: Sale e pepe
  • Ice Cream: Gelato

(Image via Wikimedia Commons/Alpha)

Food and Drink Festivals and Events 2015 – 2016

All listings are subject to change depending on whether the event or festival goes ahead or due to other circumstances.

If you’re hosting a food or drink event/festival (big or small!) and would like it featured please drop me an email to unaminh[at]gmail.com

Please consult each link and contact organisers if necessary before making plans! The listings for 2016 are mostly provisional as they haven’t been announced but all will be updated.



4th – 13th            A Taste of West Cork Food Festival [Cork]
4th – 13th            A Taste of West Cork Food Festival [Cork]
11th – 13th         Waterford Harvest Festival [Waterford]
11th – 13th         Flavours of Killorglan [Kerry]
11th – 13th         Dublin Coffee and Tea Festival [Dublin]
11th – 13th         Clarenbridge Oyster Festival [Galway]
12th                       Midleton Food & Drink Festival [Cork]
12th – 13th         Athlone River and Food Festival [Westmeath]
13th                       Enniskerry Victorian Field Day [Wicklow]
18th – 20th         Seafood in September [Clare]
18th – 20th         Tesco Taste Festival [Belfast]
19th                       Taste of Togher [Louth]
19th – 20th         Tully Farm Food Fair [Armagh]
25th – 27th         Galway International Oyster & Seafood Festival
25th – 27th           Macroom Food Festival [Cork]
25th – 27th        Dunshaughlin Harvest Festival [Meath]
27th – 28th         Food Fleadh Ballina [Mayo]
29th                       Trails Harvest Picnic [Kilkenny]


2nd – 4th              Dingle Food Festival [Kerry]
2nd – 4th              Taste of Monaghan [Monaghan]
9th – 11th            Kinsale Gourmet Festival [Cork]
17th – 18th         Galway Bake Fest [Galway]
18th                       Annual Mushroom Hunt [Cork]
23rd – 26th         Savour Kilkenny Festival of Food [Kilkenny]
25th                       Burren Food Fayre [Clare]
23rd – 26th         Virginia Pumpkin Festival [Cavan]


1st                          Orchard & Distillery Tour with Harvest Lunch [Cork]
13th                       Longueville House Long Table Game Dinner [Cork]
14th – 15th        Taste of Louth [Louth]
19th – 21st         Belfast Beer & Cider Festival


5th                         Longueville House Long Table Game Dinner [Cork]

2016 [Many Dates to be Confirmed]

Listings for 2016 are mostly provisional as they haven’t been announced but all will be updated.



Dine in Dublin

5th – 7th                AlTech Craft Brews and Food Fair [Dublin]



A Taste of Sligo
Dublin Bay Prawn Festival
Galway Food Festival
Roscommon Lamb Festival

15th – 17th            West Waterford Food Festival
29th April – 2nd May Riverfest Limerick [Limerick]


Kildorrery Food Fair
Foynes Food Festival
World Chip Championships
Wexford Food & Wine Festival

20th – 22nd          Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine [Cork]


Strawberry Fields Forever
Sligo Food and Cultural Festival
Taste of Dublin

2nd – 6th                 Bloom [Dublin]


Féile na Mara/Achill Island Festival of the Sea
Kilmore Quay Food Festival


Doolin Craft Beer & Roots Festival
Taste of Donegal

5th – 6th                 Taste of Cavan [dates not confirmed]

(Lead image via WikimediaCommons)

Part 25: Irish Food and Drink Producers Worth Getting to Know

Another Sunday, another short round-up of some of Ireland’s best food producers!

Celebrating local produce, this week I’m looking at five more companies that caught my eye:

Kearney Blue Cheese

A deliciously creamy cheese with a balanced blue flavour throughout, Kearney Blue is definitely one for the cheeseboard.


Based in Northern Ireland, the cheese itself has one numerous awards including Best Irish Cheese, Gold medal at the International Cheese Awards, Nantwich 2011.

Website: http://www.buynifood.com/buyer_search.php?supp=19829


Irish free-range pork and bacon – need I say more?  Oldfarm breed and raise Saddleback and Gloucester Old Spot pigs and also some cross-breed pigs.


Their happy pigs have access to the outdoors all year round and live on a diet that is totally gmo-free! Delicious? I think so.

Website: http://www.oldfarm.ie/

Aruna Sauces

Feeling saucy? Sarajit Chanda uses his mother Aruna’s recipes to create authentic curry sauces.


Using traditional recipes and methods, the sauces have won gold and bronze at the Blas na hÉireann food Awards.

Website: http://www.aruna.ie/

Eadaoin’s Kitchen

Eadaoin Walsh creates delicious bakery and pastry delights, at the School of Food in Thomastown, Co.Kilkenny.


A professionally trained chef, her products can be found in Cillin Hill Market, the Truffle Fairy Chocolate Shop, Knockdrinna Farmshop in Stoneyford, and Nicholas Mosse Cafe in Bennetsbridge.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eadaoins-Kitchen/285286431592891?sk=timeline

Pandora Bell

Using only the purest ingredients for sweet treats, Pandora Bell is based in Killonan, Ballysimon.  The range is made using traditional methods passed down through the centuries with recipes that never change.


The result? Mouth-watering delights: fruity, fresh Jellies, Sweets, Lollipops and Candy Canes, light, luscious Nougat, succulent Caramels and creamy rich Fudge – guaranteed to satisfy any sweet tooth.

Website: http://pandorabell.com/

(All images via company Facebook pages)


Part 24: Irish Food and Drink Producers Worth Getting to Know

Dairy, meat, fish, fruit – to an outsider you mightn’t believe it, but believe me, we’ve got it!

Celebrating the best of Ireland’s producers, this series looks at the vast range of goods we have to offer in our wee country.

Here are five more producers that stood out for me this week (a huge thanks also to those who tweeted me suggestions on who to feature! Great to see so many people who so proud of our producers):

The Apple Farm

Based in Tipperary, the Apple Farm grows not just apples, but pears, plums, sweet cherries, strawberries and raspberries too.


They make apple juice, and mixed juices from other fruits too, as well as a sparkling apple juice and cider vinegar. They also have a farm shop from which their produce is available all year round!

Website: http://www.theapplefarm.com/

Lough Owel Organic Farm

Lough Owel Aberdeen Angus Herd is Bord Bia approved and an IOFGA full symbol organic farm located two miles from Mullingar.


Their speciality is Organic Beef, with the animals being farm reared and finished on clover/grass and chicory herbs to flavour the meat. They also breed  Saddleback/tamworth cross pigs!

Website: https://owelorganic.wordpress.com/

St. Tola Irish Goat Cheese

If you love cheese, then you’ve got to try this! St. Tola Irish goat cheese was launched over 25 years ago and is perfect for your cheeseboard.


With a slew of awards under their belts, these cheeses are much sought after. All of their cheeses are handmade and matured to suit customers’ individual requirements.

Website: www.st-tola.ie

Velvet Cloud

Fan of yogurt? Velvet Cloud is a smooth tasting natural Irish yogurt handmade by the Flanagan Family in Co. Mayo, using Irish sheep’s milk from their farm.


A tasty alternative to cows’ milk yogurt, Velvet Cloud doesn’t have any additives, milk powders or sweeteners. All they add is a natural yogurt culture to the pure Irish sheep’s milk.

Website: http://velvetcloud.ie/

Regan Organic Produce

A small family run business based in Wexford, Regan Organics produce oven ready organic/free range chickens, organic pork, sausages, rashers, duck and hen eggs.


Their aim is to produce top quality food products for customers that are fully traceable, with high welfare standards.

Website: http://www.reganorganics.com/

(All images via company Facebook pages)


Part 23: Irish food and drink producers worth getting to know

Have a love for all things Irish? Looking to try something different?

This food and drink producer series looks at some of the many companies in Ireland that are creating the best of the best of local products.

Here are five more producers that caught my eye this week:

Ardmayle Organic Meats

An organic farmer based near the historical town of Cashel, Ardmayle Organic Meats is run by Denis Maher who specialises in beef, pork and lamb.


Denis has many awards for his meat including 2nd Place in the International Dexter Gathering Rare Breeds Show 2013.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/ardmayleorganicmeats/timeline

Hazel Mountain Chocolates

Have a chocolate addiction? Say hello to Hazel Mountain Chocolates, stoneground bean to bar chocolate makers and chocolatiers!


They ethically source cacao beans from small farms all around the world to handcraft fine chocolate from the bean using only natural and fresh ingredients. Delicious.

Website: http://www.hazelmountainchocolate.com/

Carrowholly Cheese

An award winning Gouda-style farmhouse cheese made on the shores of Clew Bay, this cheese is made from raw cow’s milk that’s collected from local farmers.


Each cheese is made by hand by Andrew Pelham-Burn and production is kept intentionally small so as to ensure an outstanding quality. It has a full-flavoured creamy texture with a slight nutty undertone.

Website: http://carrowhollycheese.ie/

G’s Gourmet Jams

Founded back in 1998 by Helen Gee, this jam company is based in Laois and uses only the best fruit and natural ingredients.


The jams are made in the traditional way, stirred and poured by hand using the open pan boiling method. It’s a family-run business in every sense!

Website: http://www.gsgourmetjams.ie/

McCormick’s Red Pudding

Though McCormick’s produce sausages, ham, pork and bacon, they’re also well known for red pudding! Using generations of old recipes, this award-winning craft butcher has been on the go since 1937.


For those who don’t know, red pudding is traditionally made from variety of ingredients including bacon, beef, pork, pork rind and suet and can be found mostly in East Scotland.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/mccormicksbutchers/timeline

(Images via company Facebook pages)

Word of Mouth: Theatre of Food Programme at Electric Picnic

Heading to Electric Picnic this year? Don’t forget about the wonder that is the Theatre of Food!

Here’s a brief programme breakdown of what to expect (more in-depth details about the food area here):


  • Food for Life! with David and Stephen Flynn of the Happy Pear and Domini and Peaches Kemp.
  • Cooking with Seaweed with Kevin Thornton
  • Mexico Vs Spain with Jp McManus and Lily-Ramirez Foran
  • Sushi Skills with Kwanghi Chan
  • Food Truck Food with Diana Dodog
  • Street Food with Kevin O’Toole and Sham Hanifa
  • Hangover Food with Aine Maguire
  • Star Chefs: The Next Generation with Wade Murphy, Gearoid Lynch and the Eurotoques Young chefs
  • The Bear and the Butcher with Joe Macken
  • Ireland’s Food Treasures with Catherine Fulvio and Martin Shanahan
  • Beach Food with Atlantic Sea Kayaking
  • Wagyu Beef with Pat Whelan and Katy McGuinness
  • Vegan Feast with Louise Clarke Classic
  • Pub Grub with Richard and Duncan Blair


Classic Cocktails with Shannen Butler-Keane Wine, beer and Chocolate tasting with Leslie Williams and John Wilson Bear and Beards with Colin Hession Mixology and Whiskey with Oisin Davis.


The Theatre kitchen will run by award-winning chef Caitlin Ruth and Bridget Healy. Taste a Roast in a Roll from The Good Food Store, Goatsbridge Trout, and food from the Ardkeen Food Heroes.


Forgotten skills re-awakened in the tent: Raw Milk Cheesemaking, Fermentation, Country Butter, Gourmet Gluten-free and a Taco Workshop. Also a record-breaking attempt at a length of nettle pasta (family event).


Celebrating Design in Food, this will highlight three elements of Food Design and transformation: beer ice cream with Judith and Susan Boyle, Foams with JP McMahon and food styling with Johan van de Merwe.


Food Waste, the issues and solutions of this global problem. A Food Quiz – the celebs verses the starred chefs. BiaBeag, the Butcher, the Baker and the Brewer and a music session that gets everyone in the tent dancing, Let Music Be Your Food.


Theatre of Food returns with the Megaphone – manifestos on food leftovers, food waste, labelling, real bread, GMO, raw food and revising the outdated food pyramid.


This year sees a new award added to the traditional Judges Award and Picnicker’s Award, when a Design Award will also be given to the best-dressed food stall.


Twitter |Facebook | Website

(Lead image via Theatre of Food on Facebook)

New agency DigitalFood.ie to help food and beverage businesses grow

A new food and drink focused agency, DigitalFood.ie, has been launched in Ireland.

The brainchild of Conor Lynch, CEO of Connector.ie, the new agency hopes to help Irish food and drinks companies with their domestic and international growth strategies.

“We believe that we have the perfect digital solutions for food marketers at established brands, SMEs and food start-ups”, said Lynch.

“We are here to help and advise on how to build their brands, raise awareness and drive sales”.

DigitalFood.ie offers a number of services including food branding, storytelling, content marketing, digital strategy and social media and current clients include SonyFood.ie, Nature’s Best, l’Ecrivain and Cooks Academy.

The new agency has also produced a marketing book which outlines its services called The World’s Most Delicious Digital Marketing Cookbook.

(Lead image via DigitalFood.ie’s Facebook page)

Part 22: Irish Food and Drink Producers Worth Getting to Know

It’s that time of the week again! Celebrating the best of what Ireland has to offer, this series looks at the country’s vast array of food and drink producers.

Here are five more companies that caught my eye this week:

Burren Balsamics

Based in Co. Down, Burren Balsamics produce zesty zingy taste sensations through velvety vinegars, infused with succulent fruity flavours.



Made from all locally sourced fruits, their flavours include Bramley apple, blueberry, blackberry, stawberry and strawberry and mint. Delicious!


Website: http://www.burrenbalsamics.com/

Antoinette’s Bakery

Dublin City’s first 100% gluten-free bakery situated on Kevin Street Lower,  they serves up gluten and wheat free treats as well as catering to the dairy and egg-free customer!


Fresh, delicious and locally-produced food, they also make celebration cakes to order.

Website: www.antoinettesbakery.com

Kettyle Irish Foods

Situated in the countryside of County Fermanagh, Kettyle Irish Foods specialise in superior meats.


From Dry-aged Beef, Lough Erne Lamb, Fermanagh Free Range Chicken, Fermanagh Bacon and Rose Veal, they take pride in the work they put into rearing, butchering and maturing their meat.

Website: http://www.kettyleirishfoods.com/

Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheese

Handmade with milk from Freisian cows grazed on rich limestone soil and pasteurised on site, Carrigaline Farmhouse Cheese is perfect for any cheeseboard.


No artificial preservatives or additives are used and the cheese is made with vegetarian rennet, making it suitable for vegetarians. The cheese is semi-soft, with a delicate flavor, becoming piquant with age. For full flavour, it is best eaten at 12 weeks or older.

Website: http://www.carrigalinecheese.com/

Wild Irish Sea Veg

Founded in 2009, this is a family run Seaweed Company located in West Clare.


The seaweeds are harvested from the crystal clear waters of the Atlantic Ocean and are 100% natural, hand harvested, air and sun dried to ensure only the finest quality.

Website: http://wildirishseaveg.com/

(All images via company Facebook pages)

No weekend plans? Gourmet and Craft Beer Fest to be held in Navan

Looking to escape the city for a while? This weekend on June 20th, The Central in Navan will be hosting a craft beer festival as part of the Boyne Valley Food Series.

Featuring craft beer and cider specials, food pairings and gourmet food specials in a Backyard Beer Bazaar, there will be tastings from local and international breweries!

Not only that but there will also be live music and beer cocktail masterclasses.

The event kicks off at 4pm and entrance is €10, this includes beer samples, live entertainment and a Gourmet BBQ on the day.

Sounds like your thing? You can book by emailing info@thecentral.ie or phone 046 9027999

More information can be found here.

(Image via company website)